Sunday Shows: Post-State Of The Union Rundown

We’ve had a lot of fun since liveblogging President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. We’ve mocked the official unhinged Republican response,the public ritualistic humiliation of Rick Scott and Mike Lee, as well as the crazy lengths that Tucker Carlson has gone to save the GOP’s face.

The Republicans who appeared on the Sunday shows continued flailing and set themselves up for more mockery. Let’s watch!

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

On CNN’s “State Of The Union” with Jake Tapper, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Turner of Ohio was all to eager to prove us correct when we pointed out Republicans’ bad-faith criticism of the “Chinese Balloon Crisis” last week.

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When Tapper asked about the two flying objects shot down this week over Canada and Alaska, Turner made it clear Republicans have no issue with political inconsistency.

TURNER: Yes, well, I certainly don’t know, as the administration is saying they don’t know. They do appear somewhat trigger-happy, although this is certainly preferable to the permissive environment that they showed when the Chinese spy balloon was coming over some of our most sensitive sites.

“Trigger-happy”?! After all their whining and posturing about shooting at the sky, they have the gall to now act like the Biden Administration is paranoid or “trigger-happy”? Turner, when asked about the discovery of further classified documents on a laptop and thumb drive belonging to a Trump aide, topped his hypocrisy with an extra helping of good ole’ whataboutism.

TURNER: […] They are not to be taken lightly. And we’re just amazed as people keep finding them stuffed in the strangest places like behind Biden’s Corvette. This is —this is clearly a failure of an understanding of how to handle the importance of these documents.

This lack of unseriousness and blatant partisanship is what we have to expect for the next two years.

We Aren’t Cutting Social Security, Just Taking It To A Nice Farm Upstate

Rep. Turner was followed on “State Of The Union” by Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who wanted to make sure that Biden was wrong about Republicans’ intentions regarding Social Security.

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ROUNDS: […] I think that’s misleading in terms of what he really intended to do. But, look, the bottom line is, is, Republicans want to see Social Security be successful and be improved. […]

Well, you know what, maybe Biden was wrong and Republicans’ intentions are noble, regardless of Rick Scott or Mike Lee. So, what is the senator’s great plan to improve Social Security and make it more successful?

ROUNDS: […] I kind of look at security the way I would at the Department of Defense and our defense spending. We’re never going to not fund defense. But, at the same time, we — every single year, we look at how we can make it better. […]

So Republicans want to fund Social Security on a year-by-year basis?! I’m sure a lot of the seniors reliant on those benefits will be happy to know they’d be dependent on the Republican Party’s political games and whims every year.

I guess a cut by any other name would still make Scott’s shriveled heart flutter.

Influence Peddling Is Bad … Unless It’s Jared Kushner

Over on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos, Chairman of the Oversight Committee Rep. James Comer assured everyone that his committee will take the buying of influence very seriously.

COMER: Now I don’t disagree with the Democrats and their criticism of the previous administration. We have a problem here that needs a legislative solution. That’s why this Biden investigation is so important. There’s a legislative solution to this, and it can be bipartisan. The Democrats complained about Kushner’s foreign dealings. Republicans are certainly complaining about the entire Biden family’s foreign business dealings.

But when Stephanopoulos pushed Comer on why it seems that they’re taking no actions on Kushner or the Trumps (other than lip service), Comer made it clear that his committee is just weaponizing the government for partisanship. Again.

COMER: […] The difference between Jared Kushner and Hunter Biden is that Jared Kushner actually sat down [and] was interviewed. He was interviewed by investigators. So he’s already been investigated. […]

Thankfully, Stephanopoulos did a final fact-check before Comer slimed out the door.

STEPHANOPOULOS: […] I think we only learned of the $2 billion Saudi investment from the Washington Post this morning, at least the details of it.

Unless James Comer’s committee is full of Minority Report pre-crime investigators, it is pretty clear that the congressman’s full of shit.

The Real Meaning of “Woke”

We end with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on CBS’s “Face The Nation” with Margaret Brennan.

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When asked about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s ongoing culture war against Disney, Sununu tried to describe his opposition to “woke cancel culture.” Brennan asked for a simple explanation of whatever Sununu meant by “woke,” and he quickly descended into gobbledygook.

SUNUNU: It’s the … it’s the divisiveness … divisiveness […] Where it is me versus you. Whereas if you are not adhering to my ideals, then I’m going to cancel you out. It is us versus them. It is this binary, where everything’s a war. […]

Oh! Guess by that logic we can start counting Marjorie Taylor Greene, Tucker Carlson, January 6th insurrectionists, and Ron DeSantis as “woke.”

However, Sununu successfully demonstrated that “woke” and “cancel culture” are right-wing dog whistles that, like “critical race theory,” they can’t coherently describe. Despite his efforts at distancing himself from other Republicans, he also proved our theory that “good Republicans” are not a thing. It is the media’s attempt at “fetch.”

Have a week.

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YOU LIE! Mike Lee DOES NOT Want To Murder Social Security! He Just Wants To Murder It *For Your Children*!

When President Joe Biden very accurately said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday that some Republicans have called for eliminating Social Security and Medicare, all the Rs in the House chamber were shocked and horrified, and few were more hilariously performative in their how dare you, sir! theatrics than Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). It made for a really fun side-by-side video the next morning, contrasting Lee looking outraged during the speech with his actual comments in 2010 where he proudly announced to mostly elderly voters in Cache Valley, Utah, that he wanted to phase out Social Security and Medicare because America simply can’t afford all the socialism. Roll 212, as they say (no one remembers that Daily Show bit from a decade ago, Dok):

Well Mike Lee was not at all pleased that people keep pointing out that he did indeed tell Utah voters during his first run for Senate in 2010,

“I’m here right now to tell you one thing you’ve probably never heard from a politician. It’ll be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up from the roots and get rid of it. People who advise me politically always tell me that’s dangerous and I tell them, ‘In that case it’s not worth my running.’ That’s why I’m doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort, they need to be pulled up.”


Sure sounds like a pledge to phase out Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to pull them up by the roots and get rid of both programs. Indeed, that goal was why Lee wanted to be in the Senate. It wouldn’t be worth running if he couldn’t get rid of all three. As Newsweek pointed out Wednesday, Lee had framed his vow to extirpate the programs because the Constitution itself (and he waved a copy around) doesn’t say anywhere that government has “the power to redistribute my wealth, yet that’s what entitlement programs are — they’re a wealth redistribution.”

Biden made a point of quoting Lee Wednesday when he spoke to union workers in Wisconsin. Clearly enjoying himself, Biden said, “There was a senator named Mike Lee who was yelling, you know, liar, liar, house on fire kind of stuff last night.” He then went on to quote Lee’s 2010 comments, adding, “Sounds pretty clear to me. How about you? But they sure didn’t like me calling them on it.”

The White House also tweeted out the Newsweek article, noting again the line about Lee’s 2010 pledge to “phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots, and get rid of it.”

But wait! Lee tweeted an angry statement later Wednesday to point out that his critics were leaving out a vital part of his statement! He was the victim of selective editing, is all, he said, because his real point in 2010 was that even though he wanted to drive a stake through Social Security and Medicare, he also said America must “honor the commitments made to those who have paid into the system for decades” — in other words, as with George W. Bush’s failed plan to privatize Social Security, those already in the program wouldn’t be thrown off. He’d simply eliminate the programs for the young folks coming up. See? Big difference!

“In repeatedly quoting my 2010 remarks today, President Biden conveniently left out that critical detail — that even when I voiced that position, I insisted that we honor the reliance interests of those who have paid into the system.”

If you want to nitpick — and it would be irresponsible not to — nothing of the sort could be done for current Medicaid beneficiaries, because how exactly would you grandfather in those useless eaters and their useless children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an income-based program, exactly.

Lee also griped that in the dozen years he’s been in the Senate, he hasn’t actually tried to abolish Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, so there — he broke that campaign promise and he broke it good!

Lee followed up with a tweet replying to the White House, with video evidence that he had definitely told the senior voters in 2010 that he’d only wipe out Social Security and Medicare for their children and grandchildren, not them. And if “I will impoverish your children and grandchildren when they reach retirement age, but not you” isn’t a GOP motto, it sure could be.

Decide for yourself just how exculpatory the full context is, ‘kay?

“We have to hold harmless those who are current beneficiaries. Those who have retired and are currently receiving those benefits, their benefits have to be left untouched, unchanged, un … fazed.”

We Think maybe Lee meant un-phased out there, but maybe the benefits would just hear the news without reacting. He went on to add that “The next layer beneath them, those who will retire within the next few years, probably also have to be held harmless,” so that’s very reassuring.

Lee didn’t specify what age cohort would be spared the axe, but it’s very clear, in the context that Lee provides, that even though he wouldn’t cut Nana’s Medicare, Nana’s granddaughter is screwed, even if she’s been paying into the system for a decade or two.

Lee didn’t go into any details about how, once all the youngs are freed from the burden of paycheck withholding, Social Security and Medicare would be sustained for existing beneficiaries until they all died and the programs wound down.

But no matter: ALL you meanies need to be nice to Mike Lee, who never said he’d completely eliminate Social Security and Medicare. All he wanted was to screw everyone under, say, 50 or 55, and thank goodness he broke that particular campaign promise, so he is the hero, OK?

Thank you for the clarification, sir!

Of course, this is all touche and en garde about one little campaign appearance a decade ago, when actually “get rid of the social safety net” is one of the very few policy positions Republicans bother holding anymore since they’ve all become idea-free nihilists, and it’s one that goes back decades and they’re still doing it as of this term.

[Newsweek / Deseret News / YouTube]

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Joe Biden says U.S. is ‘unbowed, unbroken’ in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is using his State of the Union address on February 7 night to call on Republicans to work with him to “finish the job” of rebuilding the economy and uniting the nation as he seeks to overcome pessimism in the country and navigate political divisions in Washington.

“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” he said, highlighting record job creation during his tenure as the country has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Biden was declaring that two years after the Capitol attack, America’s democracy was “unbowed and unbroken”.

Mr. Biden was also pointing to areas of bipartisan progress in his first two years in office, including on states’ vital infrastructure and high-tech manufacturing. And he says, “There is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this new Congress as well.”

“The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere,” Mr. Biden said. “And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America — the middle class — to unite the country.

“We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”

Reassurance over ‘flashy police proposals’

The address comes as the nation struggles to make sense of confounding cross-currents at home and abroad — economic uncertainty, a wearying war in Ukraine, growing tensions with China and more — and warily sizes up Mr. Biden’s fitness for a likely reelection bid.

The setting for Mr. Biden’s speech, both politically and physically, was markedly different from a year ago, as Republican control of the House presented him with new challenges. The President was offering a reassuring assessment of the nation’s condition rather than rolling out flashy policy proposals.

Lawmakers, members of the Cabinet, justices of the Supreme Court and the diplomatic corps gathered for the annual address as tighter-than-usual security measures returned in a vestige of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol.

Democratic stalwart Nancy Pelosi has been replaced as House speaker by Republican Kevin McCarthy, and it was unclear what kind of reception restive Republicans in the chamber would give the Democratic president.

McCarthy on Monday vowed to be “respectful” during the address and in turn asked Biden to refrain from using the phrase “extreme MAGA Republicans,” which the president deployed on the campaign trail in 2022.

“I won’t tear up the speech, I won’t play games,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters, a reference to Pelosi’s dramatic action after President Donald Trump’s final State of the Union address.

The President is taking the House rostrum at a time when just a quarter of U.S. adults say things in the country are headed in the right direction, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. About three-quarters say things are on the wrong track. And a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to seek another term.

He is confronting those sentiments head on, aides say.

“You wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away, I get it,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years.”

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted, the White House and legislators from both parties invited guests designed to drive home political messages with their presence in the House chamber. The parents of Tyre Nichols, who was severely beaten by police officers in Memphis and later died, are among those expected to be seated with first lady Jill Biden. Other Biden guests include the rock star/humanitarian Bono and the 26-year-old who disarmed a gunman in last month’s Monterey Park, California, shooting.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus invited family members of those involved in police incidents, as they sought to press for action on police reform in the wake of Nichols’ death. The White House, ahead of the speech, paired police reform with bringing down violence, suggesting that giving police better training tools could lead to less crime nationwide.

Mr. Biden is shifting his sights after spending his first two years pushing through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package, legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate measures. With Republicans now in control of the House, he is turning his focus to implementing those massive laws and making sure voters credit him for the improvements.

The switch is largely by necessity. The newly empowered GOP is itching to undo many of his achievements and vowing to pursue a multitude of investigations — including looking into the recent discoveries of classified documents from his time as Vice President at his home and former office.

At the same time, Mr. Biden will need to find a way to work across the aisle to keep the government funded by raising the federal debt limit by this summer. He has insisted that he won’t negotiate on meeting the country’s debt obligations; Republicans have been equally adamant that he must make spending concessions.

On the eve of the President’s address, Mr. McCarthy challenged Mr. Biden to come to the negotiating table with House Republicans to slash spending as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

“We must move towards a balanced budget and insist on genuine accountability for every dollar we spend,” Mr. McCarthy said.

While hopes for large-scale bipartisanship are slim, Mr. Biden was reissuing his 2022 appeal for Congress to get behind his “unity agenda” of actions to address the opioid epidemic, mental health, veterans’ health and cancer.

The speech comes days after Biden ordered the military to shoot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew brazenly across the country, captivating the nation and serving as a reminder of tense relations between the two global powers.

Last year’s address occurred just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and as many in the West doubted Kyiv’s ability to withstand the onslaught. Over the past year, the U.S. and other allies have sent tens of billions of dollars in military and economic assistance to bolster Ukraine’s defenses. Now, Biden must make the case — both at home and abroad — for sustaining that coalition as the war drags on.

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In State of the Union speech, optimistic Biden vows to work with Republicans

President Joe Biden called US democracy “unbowed” and pledged to work with the opposition party on Tuesday in a State of the Union speech that served as an olive branch to skeptical Republicans and a blueprint for his 2024 re-election bid.

In his first address to a joint session of Congress since Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in January, Biden cited progress in a post-pandemic economy and stressed that a bitterly divided Congress could overcome its differences.

“We’re often told that Democrats and Republicans can’t work together. But over the past two years, we proved the cynics and the naysayers wrong,” said Biden, a Democrat. “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together and find consensus on important things in this Congress as well.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, sat behind Biden for the address for the first time.

“Mr. Speaker, I don’t want to ruin your reputation, but I look forward to working with you,” Biden said, drawing laughs.

One test of that challenge will be the White House push to raise the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, which must be lifted in the coming months to avoid a default. The White House has said Biden will not negotiate over that necessity; Republicans want spending cuts in exchange for their support.

Seeking to project optimism ahead of a 2024 presidential campaign, Biden said the economy was benefiting from 12 million new jobs, COVID-19 no longer controls American lives, and US democracy remains intact despite the facing its biggest threat since the Civil War.

“Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken,” he said.

Since his inauguration in 2021, shortly after the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, Biden has said he wants to unify the country. And he stuck to that theme, highlighting a massive infrastructure bill that many Republican lawmakers had opposed.

“I sincerely thank my Republican friends who voted for the law,” Biden said.

“And to my Republican friends who voted against it but still ask to fund projects in their districts, don’t worry. I promised to be the president for all Americans. We’ll fund your projects. And I’ll see you at the ground-breaking,” he added, drawing laughter and applause.

Despite his efforts, Biden remains unpopular.

His public approval rating edged one percentage point higher to 41% in a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll that closed on Sunday. That is close to the lowest level of his presidency, with 65% of Americans saying they believe the country is on the wrong track, compared to 58% a year earlier.

Similarly, in the autumn of 2020, when Donald Trump was president, 65% of registered voters believed the country was on the wrong track, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who once served as press secretary for Trump, rejected Biden’s upbeat vision of the country in her Republican response.

“In the radical left’s America, Washington taxes you and lights your hard-earned money on fire. But you get crushed with high gas prices, empty grocery shelves, and our children are taught to hate one another on account of their race,” Sanders said in excerpts released ahead of her televised remarks.

Biden aides see the speech, which will draw millions of viewers and perhaps the president’s largest television audience of the year, as a milestone ahead of the second presidential campaign he is expected to launch in coming weeks.

Biden turned 80 in November and, if re-elected, would be 82 at the start of a second term, a fact that concerns many Democratic voters, recent polls show.

Divided Republicans 

Biden faced a splintered gathering of Republican lawmakers, eager to put their conservative mark on U.S. policy following four years of Democratic control of the House.

But before Biden’s arrival, McCarthy and Vice President Kamala Harris smiled and chatted from the dais.

McCarthy said earlier on Tuesday that he would not rip up Biden’s speech, referencing the actions of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi after Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address.

“I respect the other side,” McCarthy said in a video. “I can disagree on policy. But I want to make sure this country is stronger, economically sound, energy independent, secure and accountable.” He said he urged Biden not to use the phrase “extreme MAGA Republicans” in his speech, a reference to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Some House Republican lawmakers have questioned Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential race against Trump, vowing to investigate his Cabinet and family. But with a razor-thin majority and intraparty divisions, Republicans had a difficult time electing a speaker and are expected to continue to struggle to unite their far-right and more moderate members.

Economic progress 

Biden hailed the resilience and strength of the US economy, with unemployment having dropped to a nearly 54-year low in January.

In a foreshadowing of themes he may use in a presidential campaign, Biden was expected to hammer corporations for profiteering from the pandemic, and run through a wish list of economic proposals, the White House said, although many are unlikely to be passed by Congress. They include a minimum tax for billionaires, and a quadrupling of the tax on corporate stock buybacks.

On foreign policy, Biden was expected to highlight the US-led response to Russia’s year-long invasion of Ukraine, the strength of the NATO alliance and tensions between the United States and China, spotlighted by a Chinese spy balloon that the US military shot down this week.

He will ask Congress to work together to toughen regulation of the technology sector, including what the administration sees as a need for stronger privacy protections, one aide said.

He was expected also to lash out a “Big Oil” and “Big Pharma” for profit-taking, airlines and credit card companies for charging junk fees, and companies that pay low tax rates.

“Big corporations aren’t just taking advantage of the tax code. They’re taking advantage of you, the American consumer,” he said.

(REUTERS)

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Morning Digest: February 8, 2023

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon that was downed by the United States over the weekend over U.S. territorial waters off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S., February 5, 2023.
| Photo Credit: Reuters

U.S. recovers balloon debris, China protests

United States authorities have begun collecting remnants of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down on Sunday, sparking a diplomatic row between Washington and Beijing. The Chinese government on Tuesday reiterated its criticism of the shooting down of the balloon, calling it an “overreaction”. The Biden administration has asserted that downing the balloon is not a violation of international law.

Turkey-Syria quake toll tops 7,800 as rescuers battle cold

Rescuers in Turkey and Syria battled bitter cold on Tuesday in a race against time to find survivors under buildings flattened by an earthquake that killed more than 7,800 people. The 7.8-magnitude quake struck on Monday as people slept, flattening thousands of structures, trapping an unknown number of people and potentially impacting millions.

Parliament logjam ends; AAP, BRS persist with Adani debate demand

Ending the four-day logjam in Parliament, most Opposition parties — barring the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) — decided to participate in the debate on the motion of thanks to the President, even in the absence of a focused debate on the Hindenburg revelations about the Adani group and its impact on LIC and SBI. Even though the Opposition publicly expressed its willingness to participate in Parliamentary proceedings, both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to function in the first half of the day.

Biden aims to deliver reassurance in State of Union address

President Joe Biden is ready to offer a reassuring assessment of the United States’ condition rather than roll out flashy policy proposals as he delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, seeking to overcome pessimism in the country and concerns about his own leadership.

Zoom to shed about 1,300 jobs as pandemic-fuelled demand slows

Zoom Video Communications Inc said it would cut about 1,300 jobs, as demand for the company’s video conferencing services slows with the waning of the pandemic, and take a related charge of up to $68 million. While announcing the layoffs, which will hit nearly 15% of its workforce, Chief Executive Officer Eric Yuan said he would take a pay cut of 98% for the coming fiscal year and forego his bonus.

Myanmar’s civil war gets too close to India’s border for comfort 

The civil war in Myanmar is getting too close to the Indian border for comfort and could heighten the refugee problem, security officials in the border States of Manipur and Mizoram said. In January, local organisations in Mizoram’s Champhai district had flagged the impact of bombing by Myanmar’s Armed Forces “perilously close” to the border between the two countries. The air raids were on camps of ethnic armed groups resisting the Myanmar junta. 

No proposal to bring quota for transgender persons: Government in LS

There is no proposal to bring in reservations for transgender persons in education or employment, according to the Social Justice Ministry’s response to a question in the Lok Sabha. Minister of State for Social Justice A. Narayanaswamy said that the Ministry had no information on the number of trans people employed in the government and private sector, adding that so far, just 10,635 people had registered on the national portal.

AgustaWestland chopper scam | SC denies bail to alleged middleman Christian Michel James

The Supreme Court denied bail to Christian Michel James, an alleged middlemen in AgustaWestland chopper scam cases, who is being probed by both the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate. A bench of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala said that argument of Mr. James that he be released on bail on the ground that he has completed half of maximum sentence in the cases cannot be accepted.

Centre launches Periyar river conservation project

In a significant development, the Central government has launched a programme for conserving the 244-km-long Periyar river in Kerala. The waterbody is among six rivers across the country that are being covered under the National River Conservation Plan. The other rivers are Barak, Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri. According to officials, the project is being implemented in association with the State Forest department, Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) and Periyar foundation.

Interests of poor at centre of every budget presented by BJP government: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that interests of the poor have been at the centre of every Budget presented by his government. Addressing the first BJP parliamentary party meeting after the Union Budget was presented on February 1, he said no one is calling it a chunavi Budget (budget influenced by polls) even though it was the last full-fledged one before the next Lok Sabha polls. In his address, the Prime Minister also spoke about the devastating earthquake which has hit Turkey and Syria and noted that India is providing all possible assistance.

Indian-American student named ‘world’s brightest’ by Johns Hopkins for second consecutive year

Indian-American schoolgirl Natasha Perianayagam was named in the “world’s brightest” students list for the second consecutive year by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth, based on the results of above-grade-level tests of over 15,000 students across 76 countries. Her results in the verbal and quantitative sections levelled with the 90th percentile of advanced Grade 8 performance, which catapulted her into the honours list that year.

SC dismisses Rana Ayyub’s plea challenging U.P. special court summons in money laundering case

The Supreme Court dismissed a writ petition filed by journalist Rana Ayyub challenging a summons order issued to her by a Special Court in Uttar Pradesh on a complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The court said Ms. Ayyub was free to raise the question of territorial jurisdiction before the Special Court.

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Michael Shellenberger takes Hunter Biden APART for demanding his dad’s DOJ investigate whistleblower

Nobody ever accused Hunter Biden of being that smart … well, except his dad.

What exactly does Hunter think will happen if they go after the whistleblower? It only makes Hunter look worse, and that he’s trying to use his dad’s DOJ to make it happen kinda sorta totally proves corruption and abuse of power.

Just sayin’.

Michael Shellenberger of course said it far better in a thread:

And it’s about more than Hunter just being a degenerate perv.

Or, you know, Hunter leaving the laptop there without ever coming back to get it did that … just sayin’.

Ukrainian businessmen.

Sort of goes back to that crazy article we wrote about what America is really doing in the Ukraine.

Which led to the whole cover-up …

Uh-huh.

… the FBI’s former counsel-turned-Twitter deputy counsel, Jim Baker.

They had to know the laptop was real.

That.

All of that.

Why not both?

And since Sleepy Joe should reject it … he probably won’t.

***

Related:

If this thread about why America is REALLY helping Ukraine is true at ALL it’s HUGE (back to Obama?!)

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a Chinese spy balloon and LOL there’s something written on the side

AOC brings a knife to a gun-fight with Marjorie Taylor Greene and it like goes SOOO wrong for her

***

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U.S. seeks to expel Russian mercenaries from Sudan, Libya

The United States has stepped up pressure on Middle East allies to expel the Wagner Group, a military contractor with close ties to Russia’s President, from chaos-stricken Libya and Sudan where it expanded in recent years, regional officials told The Associated Press.

The U.S. effort described by officials comes as the Joe Biden administration is making a broad push against the mercenaries. The U. S. has slapped new sanctions on the Wagner Group in recent months over its expanding role in Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The group is owned by Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Pentagon has described it as a surrogate for the Russian Defence Ministry. The Kremlin denies any connection.

The Joe Biden administration has been working for months with regional powers Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to pressure military leaders in Sudan and Libya to end their ties with the group, according to more than a dozen Libyan, Sudanese and Egyptian officials. They asked for anonymity to speak freely and because they were not authorised to discuss the issue with the media.

“Wagner obsesses them (American officials),” said an Egyptian senior government official with direct knowledge of the talks. “It is at the top of every meeting.”

The group doesn’t announce its operations, but its presence is known from reports on the ground and other evidence. In Sudan, it was originally associated with former strongman Omar al-Bashir and now works with the military leaders who replaced him. In Libya, it’s associated with east Libya-based military commander Khalifa Hifter.

Wagner has deployed thousands of operatives in African and Middle Eastern countries including Mali, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Syria. Its aim in Africa, analysts say, is to support Russia’s interests amid rising global interest in the resource-rich continent. Rights experts working with the U.S. on January 31 accused the group of committing possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Mali, where it is fighting alongside government forces.

“Wagner tends to target countries with natural resources that can be used for Moscow’s objectives – gold mines in Sudan, for example, where the resulting gold can be sold in ways that circumvent Western sanctions,” said Catrina Doxsee, an expert on Wagner at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Prigozhin did not respond to a request for comment sent to the press department of the Concord Group, of which he is an owner. The group’s role in Libya and Sudan was central to recent talks between CIA director William Burns and officials in Egypt and Libya in January. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also discussed the group with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in a late-January trip to Cairo, Egyptian officials said. Weeks after the visits, Mr. Burns acknowledged in a Thursday speech at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., that after recent travel to Africa he was concerned about the Wagner’s growing influence in the continent.

“That is a deeply unhealthy development and we’re working very hard to counter it,” Mr. Burns said. Mr. Burns and Antony Blinken called on el-Sissi’s government to help convince Sudan’s ruling generals and Libya’s Hifter to end their dealings with the Wagner, an Egyptian official briefed on the talks said.

The group and its founder have been under U.S. sanctions since 2017, and the Biden administration in December announced new export restrictions to restrict its access to technology and supplies, designating it as a “significant transnational criminal organisation.”

SUDAN

Leaders in Sudan have received repeated U.S. messages about Wagner’s growing influence in recent months, via Egypt and Gulf states, said a senior Sudanese official.

Abbas Kamel, the director of Egypt’s Intelligence Directorate Agency, conveyed Western concerns in talks in Khartoum last month with the head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the official said. Mr. Kamel urged Burhan to find a way to address Wagner’s “use of Sudan as a base” for operations in neighbouring countries such as the Central African Republic, the official said.

Wagner started operating in Sudan in 2017, providing military training to intelligence and special forces, and to the paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), according to Sudanese officials and documents shared with The Associated Press.

The RSF, which grew out of the feared Janjaweed militias, is led by powerful general Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who has close ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Mohammed Hamdan has been sending troops to fight alongside the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s long-running civil war.

Wagner mercenaries are not operating in a combat role in Sudan, officials said. The group, which has dozens of operatives in the country, provides military and intelligence training, as well as surveillance and protection of sites and top officials.

Sudanese military leaders appear to have given Wagner control of gold mines in return. The documents show that the group has received mining rights through front companies with ties to Sudan’s powerful military and the RSF. Its activities are centred in gold-rich areas controlled by the RSF in Darfur, Blue Nile and other provinces, according to officials.

Two companies have been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury for acting as fronts for Wagner’s mining activities — Meroe Gold, a Sudanese gold mining firm, and its owner, the Russian-based M Invest firm. Mr. Prigozhin owns or controls both, according to the Treasury. Despite sanctions, Meroe Gold is still operating across Sudan.

The Russian mercenaries helped the paramilitary force consolidate its influence not only in the country’s far-flung regions, but also in the capital of Khartoum, where it helps run pro-RSF social media pages.

The main camp of Wagner mercenaries is in the contested village of Am Dafok on the borders between the Central African Republic and Sudan, according to the Darfur Bar Association, a legal group that focusses on human rights. “Nobody can approach their areas,” said Gibreel Hassabu, a lawyer and member of the association.

LIBYA

In Libya, Mr. Burns held talks in Tripoli with Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, head of one of Libya’s two rival governments.

The CIA director also met with Hifter in eastern Libya, according to officials with Hifter’s forces. One official briefed on the meeting in al-Rajma military complex, the seat of Hifter’s command just outside Benghazi, said Wagner was the main issue discussed.

U.N. experts said Wagner mercenaries were deployed Libya since 2018, helping Hifter’s forces in their fight against Islamist militants in eastern Libya. The group was also involved in his failed offensive on Tripoli in April 2019.

The U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM, estimated that some 2,000 Wagner mercenaries were in Libya between July-September 2020, before a cease-fire. The mercenaries were equipped with armoured vehicles, air-defence systems, fighter aircraft, and other equipment, which were supplied by Russia, according to the AFRICOM assessment. The report also said the Wagner group appeared to be receiving money from the UAE, a main foreign backer of Hifter.

Since the 2020 cease-fire, Wagner’s activities have centred around oil facilities in central Libya, and they have continued providing military training to Hifter forces, Libyan officials said. It is not clear how many Wagner mercenaries are still in Libya. American officials have demanded that mercenaries be pulled out of oil facilities, another Libyan official said.

Hifter did not offer any commitments, but asked for assurances that Turkey and the Libyan militias it backed in western Libya will not initiate an attack on his forces in the coastal city of Sirte and other areas in central Libya.

Egypt, which has close ties with Hifter, has demanded that Wagner not be stationed close to its borders. There is no evidence yet that the Joe Biden administration’s pressure has yielded results in either Sudan or Libya, observers said.

Catrina Doxsee, the expert, said the U.S. and allies should resist promoting narratives that “Russia is bad and what we have to offer is good” and instead focus on offering better alternatives to Wagner.”

“Ultimately, at the end of the day, Wagner is a business. If you can cut out the profit and you can reduce the business case for using Wagner, that’s what is going to make it a less appealing case,” she said.

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Joe Manchin: ‘The Most Popular Republican In The Senate’

Fresh from his high five-ing trip with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to meet with their real constituents in Davos, Sen. Joe Manchin returned to the Sunday shows to assure all of us that HE is the one who will ruin the Democratic Party’s attempts to make a better tomorrow. So let’s check out Joe Manchin and his amazing terrible friends.

Let’s Negotiate With Economic Terrorists

Appearing on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” Manchin is asked about the White House request for a clean debt ceiling bill. Manchin, ever the helpful stooge, took the “we won’t negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling” out of context to talk about a need to negotiate in governing. This accidental or willful misunderstanding did not go unnoticed by the side of the aisle all too willing to remove context so they can extort cuts to programs that help people.


But just in case we thought Manchin is only misguided and truly is a part of the solution, the senator from West Virginia quickly disabused us of that notion. When Dana Bash asked if he would support Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego’s Senate run in Arizona, Manchin made it clear that he would instead support his Senate partner-in-obstruction.

MANCHIN: […] I have been voting for 40 years fairly conservative all the way through, and I think people know I’m in the middle and a centrist. […] I would think that she needs to be supported again, yes, because she brings that independent spirit. […]

Two things:

1) If you have been doing something for 40 years (or as a senator for 12 years) and nothing has drastically improved in your state, you have failed miserably.

2) Contrarianism, in and of itself, is not independence. It’s as dangerous a thing as mistaking speaking without thought, for speaking the truth. Don’t you think?

Speaking of…

Here Comes the “Both Sides” Express!!

Manchin then moved over to NBC’s “Meet The Press” where he proceeded to say stupid things with zero pushback from host Chuck Todd. When commenting on the investigation regarding how Joe Biden handled classifed documents, Manchin expressed what he presumably considered profound insight instead of a lazy false equivalence.

MANCHIN: It’s just hard to believe that in the United States of America we have a former president and current president basically in the same situation.

No, Manchin, they are not in the same situation as it’s been made clear numerous times already.

Manchin is in such a bubble, he made the following statement without seemingly realizing how deluded it is.

Hahahahahahaha! Jesus, Manchin would get crushed in a Democratic (or Republican) primary well before a general election.

Even Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, in the effort to compliment Manchin, basically narrows down why he’s never gonna be President. (Roll Credits)

Mace, herself also tried to “both sides” the classified documents drama, but her effort was so asinine it momentarily woke up the journalist trapped in Chuck Todd’s sunken place.

MACE: Well, I think that’s because there’s no – there’s very little information about Biden. I mean, these documents were hidden for five years. We have very little information, whereas with the former president, everybody knows that those documents existed. They knew where they were. They knew where they were located. […] There was information that was presented to the public about —

TODD: Let me stop you there. We didn’t know where they were located.

MACE: – the number of documents, for example.

TODD: They defied a subpoena, it took a search warrant.

MACE: Well, the FBI and the DOJ —

TODD: In fairness, they didn’t know.

Mace also tried to downplay the possibility of a government shutdown and an economic default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

MACE: […] But, you know, this happened under the previous administration. The government was shut down for 35 days. There was a stalemate. But people still got paid. Accounts still got filled up. And the sky didn’t fall. […]

Nothing too bad happened except a threatened downgrade on our credit and an increase in the debt. Totally great, Mace.

On CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Republican Rep. Mike Turner from Ohio tried to “both sides” an insurrection when asked why Republicans seated 19 election deniers on the Oversight Committee.

Remind us again, when was the Democratic insurrection? We must have memory-holed and lost all the footage of liberals marching through the Capitol with coexist flags and screaming in the Senate chambers in Kitara Ravache garb to make John Kerry president.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul from Texas also tried to assure us like a common Susan Collins that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had learned her lesson and would grow into her office.

Who among us has not radically matured from a childlike 44-year-old to a fully grown 49-year-old adult?

But … But … Chicago!

Appearing on CNN’s “State Of The Union,” McCaul tried to downplay the need for gun reforms in the wake of another mass shooting by once again invoking Chicago gun violence. Thankfully, Bash pointed out the patchwork of gun laws in the US and that most of the guns in Chicago come from neighboring states with lax gun laws like Mike Pence’s Indiana.

Some dog whistles will never die.

Have a week.



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PSA: New GOP House Oversight Chair James Comer Is A F*cking Clown

Good morning! Welcome back to the Joe Biden classified documents story, which is worse than Donald Trump’s classified documents because Hunter Biden’s laptop and Hunter Biden’s penis and because Republicans are deeply unserious and deeply unwell people.

In every way, the Biden classified documents story — while still infuriating for a number of reasons — is a how-to class on “What To Do If You Accidentally Took Some Classified Docs Home And Found Them In Your Backpack.” Meanwhile, Donald Trump stole a far greater number of classified documents, and has spent the entire time since investigators started asking lying about it and ducking subpoenas. Nobody in the general public has any idea what kind of nefarious purposes Trump had for those documents, but it is Trump, so no matter how horrifying the truth ends up being, we will not be shocked.

Gallant Found Few More Classified Docs In Garage And Gave Them Back. Goofus Should Still Go To Prison.

Biden ‘Surprised’ Classified Docs Found At His Think Tank, But He WOULD Say That, Now Wouldn’t He?

This weekend, the Biden administration continued being obscenely transparent about this and revealed that on Thursday, Biden White House lawyer Richard Sauber found a few MORE classified docs from Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, house. (This is batch three.) So of course they told us immediately, because they are good and they are well-behaved and when they find classified documents they always tell the teacher immediately!


Sauber found the document because Biden’s personal lawyers called him when they found that other classified doc next to the garage in Wilmington. So he went out there to help turn it over to the Justice Department. One thing led to another and they checked this other box, blah blah blah.

“Because I have a security clearance, I went to Wilmington Thursday evening to facilitate providing the document the President’s personal counsel found on Wednesday to the Justice Department,” Sauber said. “While I was transferring it to the DOJ officials who accompanied me, five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages. The DOJ officials with me immediately took possession of them.”

He added, “The President’s lawyers have acted immediately and voluntarily to provide the Penn Biden documents to the Archives and the Wilmington documents to DOJ.”

Again, this is what you should do in the unlikely event you ever find a document with classified markings in one of your piles of junk mail. Returning classified documents is easy and fun!

You don’t go on the radio and call the special counsel appointed to investigate a “terrorist” and paint a target on their family; you don’t lie and say you declassified those documents in your brain; you don’t baselessly insinuate that maybe the FBI/Deep State planted those documents, and you don’t lie to the National Archives and Justice Department to conceal the fact that you are still hiding a shitload more classified documents you stole.

None of this changes the fact that Kentucky Fried Pigshit Person Rep. James Comer, new chair of the House Oversight Committee, told Jake Tapper this weekend that he will be investigating Biden’s classified documents, but not Trump’s. Why? Refer to what we said about how Republicans are deeply unserious and deeply unwell, and add how they are where integrity goes to die.

Also remember that the entire thing James Comer is famous for is heavily breathing in frustration in November because reporters wouldn’t focus their questions on Hunter Biden. If we could keep this about Hunter Biden, OK? We think it’s pretty important to keep this about Hunter Biden! Hunter Biden!

Tapper played a clip of Comer saying in November that the Trump documents case would “not be a priority” for him, and asked:

“Do you only care about classified documents being mishandled when Democrats do the mishandling?” Tapper asked.

“Absolutely not,” Comer responded. He added, “At the end of the day, my biggest concern isn’t the classified documents, to be honest with you. My concern is how there’s such a discrepancy in how former President Trump was treated, by raiding Mar-a-Lago, by getting the security cameras, by taking pictures of documents on the floor, by going through Melania’s closet versus Joe Biden where its like — okay, your personal lawyers who don’t have security clearance, they can go through, they can just keep looking and keep looking and determine whatever is there. That’s not equal treatment, and we’re very concerned and there’s a lack of trust here at the Department of Justice by house Republicans.”

“Why was Mar-a-Lago raided, but the president’s home not?” asked Comer, as disingenuously as every other square-faced white-haired southern Republican who looks like he’s dressed in drag for a Young Newt Gingrich lookalike contest. He told Tapper that “With respect to investigating President Trump, there have been so many investigations of President Trump. I don’t feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump because the Democrats have done that for the past six years.”

To which we reply oh go fuck yourself.

Also, if Comer moves those goalposts any faster he’s going to poke somebody’s eye out.

All these questions have been asked and answered. Gallants who cooperate in every way are treated with respect. Goofuses who lie and obstruct investigations get their asses raided. It’s real fuckin’ simple. And if Melania has to buy new underpants, well, Wonkette has already done the journalistic work of finding out where the closest Walmart to Mar-a-Lago is.

Hope You’re Happy: Melania Had To Get New Underpants

Here’s the entire interview if you like hick yokels with grins that make people uncomfortable.

www.youtube.com

Things are about to get so much stupider. You can tell by looking at James Comer’s face, it is the face of “getting stupider.”

[NBC News / Mediaite]

Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter right here!

And once that doesn’t exist, I’m also giving things a go at the Mastodon (@[email protected]) and at Post!

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