Wednesday: Hili dialogue

September 13, 2023 • 6:45 am

Welcome to a Hump Day (“Ημέρα καμπούρας” in Greek), Wednesday, September 13, 2023, and National Peanut Day. And that just reminded me that Jimmy Carter (erstwhile peanut farmer) is still alive after entering hospice care on February 18—a remarkable tenacity given that one enters hospice care when one’s expected to live only a few weeks. Jimmy has been there for seven monhs!

Carter has asked Joe Biden to deliver his eulogy, which may be a mistake.

Tomorrow I’m headed back to Jerusalem for my final week here.

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the September 13 Wikipedia page.

Da Nooz:

*Nature is Stronger than Humans Dept.:  After the devastating earthquake last Friday that killed 2,900 people in Morocco, we have another natural disaster, but this involving collapse of a dam in Libya, which killed nearly twice as many.

More than 5,000 people were killed in Libya after torrential rains caused two dams to burst near the coastal city of Derna, destroying much of the city and carrying entire neighborhoods into the sea, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Libya, a North African nation splintered by a war, was ill-prepared for the storm, called Daniel, which swept across the Mediterranean Sea to batter its coastline. The country is administered by two rival governments, complicating rescue and aid efforts, and despite its vast oil resources, its infrastructure had been poorly maintained after more than a decade of political chaos.

In the city of Derna alone, at least 5,200 people died, said Tarek al-Kharraz, a spokesman for the interior ministry of the government that oversees eastern Libya, according to the Libyan television station al-Masar. But the floodwaters also swept through other eastern settlements, including Shahhat, Al-Bayda and Marj, and at least 20,000 people were displaced.

Thousands more were missing and the death toll is likely to rise in the coming days. The flooding left bodies scattered in the streets while buckling buildings, sinking vehicles and blocking roads, impeding access to the most stricken areas.

*It’s time to roll up your sleeves again: there’s a new Covid shot available, and the CDC recommends getting it NOW if you’re older than six:

Virtually all Americans should get an updated coronavirus shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday, with the vaccines expected to become available within 48 hours — as the respiratory illness season looms.

Mandy Cohen, director of the CDC, advised that anyone 6 months and older should get at least one dose of an updated shot. Her broad recommendation came after the agency’s expert advisers voted for a universal approach to seasonal coronavirus vaccination. The shots are intended to bolster defenses as the nation heads into the fall and winter virus season, when influenza and RSV are also primed to be on the rise.

Cohen said the reformulated vaccines can restore protection and provide “enhanced protection” against variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States. Cohen followed the lead of the agency’s vaccine experts who earlier in the day voted for the universal vaccination policy. The move paves the way for some clinicians, pharmacies and other providers to begin administering the shots by later this week. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to recommend updated shots from Moderna and from Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, for anyone 6 months and older.

*The new iPhone 15 is out, and to some people that’s a big deal. Both the WSJ and NYT have articles about it (with the NYT adding other new products). The biggest difference is the charging port which, thankfully, the EU has forced on Apple. From the WSJ:

Sometimes you have to travel 3,000 miles just to see an 8mm hole.

Yes, I’m talking about my trip to Cupertino to see the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro’s new USB-C port. After 11 years, Apple has retired the Lightning port and swapped in the same port you can find on most Android phones, Windows laptops, even iPads and MacBooks.

Sure, Apple spent nearly an hour at its event on Tuesday running us through all the new iPhone features. The lower-price iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models got a softer color-infused back glass, the Dynamic Island multitasking trick, faster A16 Bionic processors and new cameras. The more expensive Pro models have a new shortcut “action button” in place of the mute switch, a lighter titanium design and faster A17 Pro chips. My colleague Shara Tibken wrote a rundown of what’s new and different, and I will have reviews of the new iPhones soon.

But this little port is…a big deal. It could be the biggest iPhone news to affect you in years. A decade of cords you’ve accumulated in your car, desk, nightstand? They no longer work with these new phones. (It’s Apple, so of course there’s a $29 dongle for that.)

. . .to be clear, Apple didn’t want to remove the Lightning port. The European Union passed legislation that states that by the end of 2024, mobile phones, tablets and other gadgets sold in the EU will have to be equipped with a USB Type-C “receptacle.”

Alex Agius Saliba, one of the members of the European Parliament who led this legislation—who I like to call the “Lightning Murderer”—told me that having one charger has benefits for the environment since we’ll need fewer types of cords.

“Why should we continue to use Lightning cable? The only advantage is for Apple to continue to sell proprietary charging solutions, which cost more for our consumers,” he told me in a video interview.

Capitalism! Oy!  But I take care of my iPhones, and the one before my iPhone13 was the iPhone 5S, no longer usable.  When the battery on my new phone gets below 80% maximum charge, I’ll just get the battery replaced.

*Yes, Biden is old and doddering, but does he deserve to be impeached? It used to be that it took “high crimes and misdemeanors” to impeach a Prez, but now it seems that anything will do.  So House Republicans are studying whether to put Joe in the dock, for almost nothing!

Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, working to appease far-right lawmakers who have threatened to oust him if he fails to accede to their demands for deep spending cuts that would force a government shutdown at the end of the month.

Mr. McCarthy’s decision to unilaterally announce an impeachment investigation with no formal House vote entwined the Republican investigations into Mr. Biden with the funding fight that is rattling the Capitol. It appeared to be a bid to quell a brewing rebellion among ultraconservative critics who have accused the speaker of not taking a hard enough line on spending, by complying with their demands to more aggressively pursue the president.

Mr. McCarthy said he would task three committees — Oversight, Judiciary, and Ways and Means — with carrying out the inquiry into the president and his family as Republicans hunt for evidence of financial wrongdoing or corruption. After months of digging, Republicans have found no such proof, though they argue they have enough information to warrant more investigation.

Mr. McCarthy’s announcement appeared to clear the way for House investigators to issue subpoenas for the bank records of Mr. Biden and his family members.

In brief remarks at the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy accused Mr. Biden of lying about his knowledge of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, and he raised questions about the millions that Hunter and other family members made from overseas firms. Mr. McCarthy also accused the Biden administration of giving the president’s son “special treatment” in a criminal tax investigation against him.

It’s a witch hunt—except this time it really is a witch hunt!

*More Capitalism. Although I almost never go to McDonald’s, this new cheapskate move of theirs, whose only justification is to stiff the customer, is a harbinger of bad things to come. I love self-serve sodas, as I always have more then one (diet sodas, please) then I go to places like In-and-Out Burger. And you can mix sodas, too, like iced tea and lemonade. But now, well, say goodbye to all-you-can-drink:

Say goodbye to refilling that Coke. McDonald’s is getting rid of self-served soda.

The Chicago-based fast food chain plans to eliminate self-service soda machines at its U.S. restaurants by 2032, McDonald’s confirmed this week. It’s unclear if locations outside the U.S. will follow suit.

In an email to The Associated Press Tuesday, McDonald’s USA said the goal of the change is to create consistency for customers and crew members across the chain’s offerings — from in-person dining to online delivery and drive-thru options.

The company did not specify if any additional factors — such as finances or sanitation — impacted the decision to part ways with its self-serve machines. For years, McDonald’s customers have used the machines to fill and refill their beverages without additional trips to a cashier.

“Consistency” my yiddische tuchas! It’s to save money, pure and simple. If you want to refill your Coke, go sit down inside.  Here’s another excuse:

Over recent years, analysts have also pointed to changes in consumer behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic — including an uptick in digital and online delivery sales among fast food restaurants. As a result, some chains have toyed with enhancing drive-thrus or strengthening connections with food delivery apps — from Chipotle growing its Carside pickup locations to Domino’s penning a new partnership with Uber Eats.

So? If consumers want to sit down and eat their burger, why should they be penalized by depriving them of refills? It’s a tragedy, I tell you!

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Sarah is visiting, and Hili is philosophizing on her lap. I’m jealous!

Hili: Nothing is simple.
Sarah: You exaggerate.
In Polish:
Hili: Nic nie jest proste.Sarah: Przesadzasz.

From reader Pliny the In Between’s Far Corner Cafe, “The front runner”:

The hard truth: a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon sent by Thomas. Remember, in any stable animal population, a female leaves only two viable offspring over her entire life.

From the Absurd Sign Project 2.0:

Masih was born on September 11 (1976) and so got a birthday tattoo (as she notes in her tweet, tattoos are one of the many illegal body adornments in Iran):

Two tweets that I found:

A very special moment:

From Malcolm. Can you spot the . . . . . ?  Look closely:

From the Auschwitz Memorial, a photo that moved someone else, too:

Tweets from Dr. Cobb. First, an adorable parent and chick:

. . . and another cute photo:

Here Matthew passes on a blatantly insulting stereotype of Americans. Seriously, we salute the flag every day? What did we do to deserve this drubbing?

41 thoughts on “Wednesday: Hili dialogue

  1. Regarding the COVID booster: does anyone here have an informed perspective on side effects of the vaccination? I see articles and videos regarding all kinds of horrible side effects quite frequently; I strongly suspect most of them are baseless conspiracy fearmongering, but I don’t have the background to evaluate that. (For the record, my previous COVID vaccinations made me feel somewhat sick and groggy for two days and one day, respectively, and the actual virus felt like a full-blown cold for a week or so.)

    1. As we all should know – Covid affects everyone differently. It kills people. Lots of people. I would recommend your Doctor for advice, not the internet. I had Covid and also had all the vaccines when they came out but how it all affected me has nothing to do with the next person.

    2. The Canadian compromise would be to take the vaccine. Then you can have both experiences: sick and groggy for two days and a full blown cold for a week later this fall.

      Seriously, if you are over six(ty?) go for it. Speaking purely as a private citizen I think the risk of serious complications is very low for almost everyone, less than the rare chance of dying or needing hospital admission from Covid, but unlike every other vaccine I can remember having, including typhoid, it does take a couple of days out of your life. For most people it doesn’t make any difference, any more than wearing a seat belt makes a difference. But if you’re not most people, both could prevent a terrible ordeal in the ICU.

      From a societal perspective, two days on the couch for you doesn’t count. But several thousand fewer hospital admissions could make a big difference to crowding in the ER this winter.

      1. Interestingly, recommendations are different between countries: in the US, boosters are recommended for everyone above 6 months(!). In Germany, where I live, the vaccination commission recommends them for people older than 60, plus immunocompromised people, medical personnel etc.. Fortunately, I’m neither, so I’m still undecided.
        I’m not primarily asking for advice on making that decision, though – more generally, I’d like to know if I should update my original position that the vaccines were the breakthrough that helped the world get through the pandemic with a massively reduced death toll, and that any serious side effects were so rare that they can be rounded to 0 in the big picture. But the infosphere is massively polluted on that topic.

        1. I hear you. A full discussion takes more space that we’re allowed. (I know: I’ve tried a couple of times.) But speaking as a retired physician who, quite literally, never met a vaccine he didn’t like, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was more likely Omicron, not the by-then year-old vaccines against the by-then vanished Wuhan strain, that allowed economies to open up and start repairing the damage done by the pandemic. The problem with Covid was never the raw numbers of deaths, nor was it deaths in people who kept society going, it was the strain put on hospital systems that made them less resilient to cope with other important problems like motor vehicle crashes, heart attacks, and timely cancer surgery. Many people died alone of all kinds of different diseases because family were prohibited from entering the hospital for two long years. Nurses got burnt out and quit. While the mRNA vaccines retained their apparent protection against severe disease that they demonstrated as a secondary outcome measure in the two trials, this protection was not sufficient for public health authorities to end pandemic control measures.

          Why not? Because even with Canada’s high level of vaccination, the Delta variant was contagious enough to pick off everyone who was out and about in crowds (vaccinated or not) and put a small percentage (< 5%) of them (initially almost always unvaccinated) in the ICU, which was enough to bring our health system near to collapse twice, but worse in summer-fall 2021. So even vaccinated, we were kept inside getting way too much screen time in case we inadvertently infected an unvaccinated person on the subway who might need an ICU bed. But a month after Omicron came along and infected everybody, Covid and pandemic measures were history. I kept my vaccination passport with its official government watermarks as a souvenir. I think I showed it once, to go to the first symphony concert.

          I'm not sure the vaccines "massively" reduced the death toll, except in nursing homes where survival even without Covid is 6 months to a year, depending on the patient population in them. In the 366 cases of Covid among 70,000 subjects in the two mRNA vaccine trials combined there was only one Covid death (in a subject who got placebo.) Both trials excluded nursing home residents and those expected to die soon of some other disease.

          If the infection rate in the population goes up by a factor of 100 (as with Omicron) does the risk, per case, of severe disease in the vaccinated stay the same (so the ICU cases go up 100-fold) or does the number of severe cases stay down near zero no matter how many total cases there are? It seemed the latter in early 2022, but was that due to prior vaccination, or was it inherent to Omicron itself finishing the job of getting everyone immunized? Many unanswered questions that, with the world “so done with Covid”, will probably never be answered.

          1. The answers will be left to a generation who can separate their analysis from their emotions and their politics. Like much in contemporary life, once the tribes commit to a course, not the slightest dissent or questioning is allowed.

    3. Why would you think that anyone on this forum has an “informed perspective on side effects of the vaccination” ?

      This is the domain of epidemiologists and public health professionals.

      I would suggest checking out the relevant public health agencies in your area, the CDC in the US, Health Canada in Canada, etc.

      But you appear to know this already so I am not sure what the actual intention of your question is.

    4. The US government kindly gave the world Medline via pubmed – I think Clinton gave us that? – do your own literature search! It has guidance on how to do a search but you use Boolean operators just as one would with an ordinary internet search (I would hope). A lot of articles are freely available.

      But seriously, they only offer vaccines to those who benefit most, be that everyone or those over a certain age. If offered, take.

  2. On this day:
    1609 – Henry Hudson reaches the river that would later be named after him – the Hudson River.

    1788 – The Philadelphia Convention sets the date for the first presidential election in the United States, and New York City becomes the country’s temporary capital.

    1808 – Finnish War: In the Battle of Jutas, Swedish forces under Lieutenant General Georg Carl von Döbeln beat the Russians, making von Döbeln a Swedish war hero.

    1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem “Defence of Fort McHenry”, which is later set to music and becomes the United States’ national anthem.

    1848 – Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survives an iron rod 1+1⁄4 inches (3.2 cm) in diameter being driven through his brain; the reported effects on his behaviour and personality stimulate discussion of the nature of the brain and its functions.

    1898 – Hannibal Goodwin patents celluloid photographic film.

    1899 – Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.

    1906 – The Santos-Dumont 14-bis makes a short hop, the first flight of a fixed-wing aircraft in Europe.

    1933 – Elizabeth McCombs becomes the first woman elected to the New Zealand Parliament. [Now the NZ government doesn’t know what a woman is…]

    1948 – Margaret Chase Smith is elected United States senator, and becomes the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

    1953 – Nikita Khrushchev is appointed General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    1956 – The IBM 305 RAMAC is introduced, the first commercial computer to use disk storage.

    1962 – An appeals court orders the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated university.

    1964 – Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd of 20,000 West Berliners on Sunday, in Waldbühne.

    1971 – State police and National Guardsmen storm New York’s Attica Prison to quell a prison revolt, which claimed 43 lives.

    1985 – Super Mario Bros. is released in Japan for the NES, which starts the Super Mario series of platforming games.

    1987 – Goiânia accident: A radioactive object is stolen from an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil, contaminating many people in the following weeks and causing some to die from radiation poisoning.

    1989 – Largest anti-Apartheid march in South Africa, led by Desmond Tutu.

    1993 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shakes hands with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting limited Palestinian autonomy.

    2001 – Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the United States after the September 11 attacks.

    1502 – John Leland, English poet and historian (d. 1552).

    1818 – Lucy Goode Brooks, Former American slave and a founder of Friends’ Asylum for Colored Orphans (d. 1900).

    1819 – Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (d. 1896).

    1874 – Arnold Schoenberg, Austrian composer and painter (d. 1951).

    1886 – Amelie Beese, German pilot and sculptor (d. 1925).

    1894 – J. B. Priestley, English novelist and playwright (d. 1984).

    1903 – Claudette Colbert, American actress (d. 1996).

    1904 – Alberta Williams King, American civil rights organizer, mother of Martin Luther King, Jr. (d. 1974).

    1916 – Roald Dahl, British novelist, poet, and screenwriter (d. 1990).

    1918 – Ray Charles, American singer-songwriter and conductor (d. 2015).

    1919 – Mary Midgley, English philosopher and author (d. 2018).

    1925 – Mel Tormé, American singer-songwriter and actor (d. 1999).

    1939 – Richard Kiel, American actor and voice artist (d. 2014).

    1944 – Jacqueline Bisset, English actress and producer.

    1952 – Don Was, American bass player and producer.

    1957 – Vinny Appice, American rock drummer.

    1961 – Dave Mustaine, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer.

    1967 – Michael Johnson, American former sprinter and journalist.

    1969 – Shane Warne, Australian cricketer, coach, and sportscaster (d. 2022).

    Je veux que la mort me trouve plantant mes choux. I want death to find me planting my cabbages.
    1592 – Michel de Montaigne, French philosopher and author (b. 1533).

    1931 – Lili Elbe, Danish model and painter (b. 1882). [Born Einar Wegener. The first known recipient of a uterus transplant in an attempt to achieve pregnancy. (FFS!) Died due to the subsequent complications, and thus one of the first fatalities of “gender-affirming healthcare”. The Hippocratic oath died alongside Elbe, I suspect.]

    1944 – W. Heath Robinson, English cartoonist (b. 1872).

    1977 – Leopold Stokowski, English conductor (b. 1882).

    1996 – Tupac Shakur, American rapper, producer, and actor (b. 1971).

    1998 – George Wallace, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 45th Governor of Alabama (b. 1919).

    2001 – Dorothy McGuire, American actress (b. 1916).

    2002 – George Stanley, Canadian soldier, historian, and author, designed the Flag of Canada (b. 1907).

    2019 – Eddie Money, American musician (b. 1949).

    2022 – Jean-Luc Godard, French-Swiss film director, screenwriter, and film critic (b. 1930).

  3. I fully support an impeachment inquiry on Biden, but, unlike the Dems, However, I don’t favor going forward with impeachment if it is clear that the votes are not there in the Senate for conviction. (Although the GOP may be doing the Dems a favor by given them a “Get Out of Biden Free” card for the 2024 election.) Biden’s family business dealings raise serious and important questions about whether he is financially beholden to foreign governments, including China and Saudi Arabia. As important, though, is whether agents of the Federal government, including current members of his Cabinet, have worked to cover up these activities and impede lawful investigations of them.

    I hope, though, that the inquiry doesn’t confine itself to these matters, but looks at the actions of his Cabinet members in areas where they have, apparently, disregarded the law and lied to Congress. These would include the southern border, censorship, and what the Republicans are calling the weaponization of government, which includes such things an investigating parents who protest at school board meetings or Catholics as Domestic Terrorists. The entire Biden admin is corrupt, and, although he hates it when the shoe pinches, the buck stops with him. Here, by the way, is an amusing piece by Victor Hanson, discussing the precedent set by the Dems (who impeached a President after a Special Counsel found no wrongdoing), but also the many other questionable things they’ve done in pursuit of perpetual power.

    1. You are apparently referring to the Mueller Report in which you repeat, incorrectly, that it discovered no criminal activity on the part of Trump. I refer you to the site of the American Constitution Society that provides a detailed summary of the report. The most important findings are this:


      The Special Counsel investigation uncovered extensive criminal activity

      The investigation produced 37 indictments; seven guilty pleas or convictions; and compelling evidence that the president obstructed justice on multiple occasions. Mueller also uncovered and referred 14 criminal matters to other components of the Department of Justice.

      Trump associates repeatedly lied to investigators about their contacts with Russians, and President Trump refused to answer questions about his efforts to impede federal proceedings and influence the testimony of witnesses.

      A statement signed by over 1,000 former federal prosecutors concluded that if any other American engaged in the same efforts to impede federal proceedings the way Trump did, they would likely be indicted for multiple charges of obstruction of justice.


    2. I would like to see political discourse conducted at a more formal level, one in which people take discussions to a logical conclusion whenever possible.

      The suggestion that a Special Counsel found no wrongdoing on the part of the President (if indeed that is what you suggest) was challenged above by Historian:

      Do you still think that the Special Counsel found no wrongdoing on the part of the president? If so, why? Or do you think your initial statement is false?

      I am asking because I see political discourse often degenerate into people repeating ideas even after they’ve been challenged, often with no attempt to address the challenge. It is the case that some statements are too vague to be considered for serious debate, but the issue above seems well defined. If you think the issue is not well defined, please say so.

  4. Carter has asked Joe Biden to deliver his eulogy, which may be a mistake.

    A mistake? Why? Because, in order to deny Biden this traditional moment of quiet dignity in which the current president honors one of his predecessors, Republicans will insist that Jimmah is not in fact dead, that he is merely hiding out in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez, eating ginger mints surreptitiously passed to him by Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss?

    1. I too am interested as to why asking Joe Biden to deliver the eulogy might be a mistake. Will Jimmy’s soul go straight to hell if Joe speaks? Will Joe be impeached for it? Is Joe too old to deliver a eulogy? Would that lose him votes?

      Or is the expectation that Joe will go before Jimmy?

      1. Joe is not the orator that he was even just a few years ago. Even if provided with a well written speech, there is every possibility that he might stray from the subject, and start telling fanciful anecdotes about his own experiences.
        President Carter deserves better.

  5. Re new covid booster -news reports say, “vaccines expected to become available within 48 hours”
    I called two large national chain pharmacies yesterday. They said they won’t have vaccine until mid October. What’s with the 48 hours? Has anyone tried to schedule an appointment for the new booster.

  6. Funny how “all you can drink for free” means different things depending on whether you’re paying the tab or not.

    Another way of looking at it is that McDonalds must factor the cost of three or four refills into what they charge for each empty cup their cashiers give the customer. So if you intend to drink only one serving, because you have to get to work, you are being over-charged. And McDonalds must know that some people just slip into the restaurant with an empty cup they saved from their last visit and “refill” it without paying anything. Their bean-counters presumably watched the profits on soft drinks dwindle until the value of the free refills as a loss leader became negative. The marginal cost of coloured fizzy sugar water must be very close to zero, so it took a long time for the cost to become unsustainable.

    The company’s PR around why they are doing it is obviously invented, but you have to be careful how you message the cancellation of a freebie that people have got used to taking advantage of and see as a human right.

  7. The impeachment inquiry is McCarthy’s attempt to appease the looney sect of the RP congress led by MTG, whose favor was required to earn him his seat as speaker, and of course Trump. The RP knows impeachment is a joke, that the Hunter Biden laptop circus is a joke, and several of them have said so. The ones that should be fearing negative repercussions from this impeachment circus are the RP, not the DP.

    1. Yeah, this is going to backfire spectacularly…just like Clinton’s impeachment did. You need to at least have hard proof like they had on Trump and conduct a real investigation; Trump’s impeachable “high crimes” were either recorded or committed in the open for all to see. (And let’s just forget about Kushner’s $2 billion loan from Saudi Arabia and Ivanka’s getting millions of dollars worth of Chinese patents…had nothing to do with Trump being POTUS.) This is simply more “lock her up” BS, all of it demanded by their infallible neo-Christ, Trump, in service to his Cult.

  8. “Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday opened an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, working to appease far-right lawmakers who have threatened to oust him if he fails to accede to their demands for deep spending cuts that would force a government shutdown at the end of the month.”

    Kevin McCarthy is a spineless gelding. Even worse for his political aspirations, he is the most maladroit political operative to hold the position of Speaker in modern times, with a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease.

    McCarthy arrived on Capitol Hill from Bakersfield, CA in 2006 with a burning desire to be Speaker of the House one day. The job could have been his a decade later, in 2016, but he was forced to forsake his bid following his gaffe of admitting that the major accomplishment of House Republicans’ endless Benghazi hearings during Obama’s second term was to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations by lowering her numbers in approval polls. (Lordy, there is a tape.) Later that year, McCarthy, then minority leader, the number two position in the House Republican congressional delegation, said during what he thought was a private conversation with other member of the House Republican leadership (including future speaker Paul Ryan) that he thought Donald Trump was on Vladimir Putin’s payroll. (Lordy, there is another tape and transcript.)

    On January 7, 2001, the day of the insurrection at the Capitol, in a private telephone conversation with other Republican congressional leaders, including Liz Cheney, McCarthy said he had “had it with Trump” and that he was going to call Trump that evening to tell him to resign immediately, before his term ended two weeks later. (And Lordy, wouldn’t you know it, there is yet another tape.) Then, three weeks after this call, “my Kev” (as Trump calls him) was summonsed to Mar-a-Lago, apparently read the riot act by Trump, and told that he would never be Speaker without an endorsement from Trump with the far-right fringe of the House Republican caucus. McCarthy has been the lap dog of Trump and these far-right fringe characters (Marjorie Taylor Green, Jim Jordan, et al.) ever since.

    It was cringe-inducing watching McCarthy at the lectern yesterday announcing an “impeachment inquiry” that McCarthy himself so clearly knows is without legal or factual basis.

  9. Well the lost “Notify me of new comments” box appears to have been replaced by a “Subscribe” pop up that appears every time one opens a post. What’s the world coming to??!! 🙂

        1. Do you happen to recall, is the identity you use here at WEIT your WordPress identity? If so, try opening the WordPress home page and signing in there.

          For the past few months or so I’ve had to sign in on the WEIT page any time I commented, and even though I’d click the “remember me” box, it never would. For most or all of that time I’ve also gotten the “subscribe” pop up regularly, and subscribing didn’t make it stop happening.

          Just earlier today I noticed that my identity on my recent comments was not the same as it always had been (same pic but slightly different name), which made me remember that the identity I used here at WEIT was a WordPress identity I created many years ago. WEIT always remembered it in the past so I forgot about it.

          I pulled up the WordPress home page and, sure enough, I wasn’t logged in. I attempted to log in and received a notice that my account had been flagged for some reason and I needed to reset my password. I did so and so far everything is back to normal for me on WEIT. No “subscribe” pop up, my identity is back to the same old one and WEIT remembers it. So far.

    1. Yes, can dodderers ride a bike? I think not. And Biden rides bikes all the time. And his recent whirlwind trip around Asia to bolster support against China influence is not something a dodderer could undertake.

  10. “Remember, in any stable animal population, a female leaves only two viable offspring over her entire life.”

    This is of course true on average but there can be a surprising degree of variation between individuals. For example, in the case of the the Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus, a long term study (thirty year) by Ian Newton found… “Lifetime production of young varies greatly among individuals, depending largely on longevity (maximum 10-11 years) and age of first breeding (1-3 years). In one area with a stable breeding population, it was calculated that 72% of all females that left the nest died before they could breed, another 6% attempted to breed but produced no young; while the remaining 22% produced between one and 24 young during their lives. On the pattern prevailing, 5% of the most productive individuals in one generation produced more than half the young in the next generation.”

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