On Herschel Walker’s candidacy: is Andrew Sullivan becoming a Democrat?

October 8, 2022 • 1:30 pm

As James Carville said the other day in a video I posted, “[the Republicans have really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.”

One of those stupid leaders is Herschel Walker, an ex football star now running as a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia.  Walker is unbelievably stupid and hamhanded—so far away from the semblance of a rational politician that Andrew Sullivan devoted mostof his weekly column to a splenetic dissection of Walker’s idiocy and hypocrisy.  Americans will know one example of that: Walker is running as a hard anti-abortion candidate, who sees abortion as murder, yet all the evidence shows that he paid for one of his girlfriends to get an abortion. And, despite the palpable evidence (including a check and get-well card from Walker), the candidate says he doesn’t even know the woman.

Walker also said this about evolution, as reported by CNN:

“At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not?” Walker, the frontrunner for the Georgia Republican Senate nomination, said in an appearance over the weekend at a church in Sugar Hill, Georgia. “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”

Yes, I’ve spent my life thinking about this stupid creationist canard, but only a moronic Republican (which is almost a redudancy) would parade that kind of ignorance in public. I expect every reader of this website should be able to refute Walker’s claim. (By the way, why don’t reporters ever ask candidates if they accept the fact of evolution? Anybody answering “no” should automatically be deemed unfit for office.)

As reader Steve noted, when he sent me the link (I do subscribe), “I think [Sullivan] is at the top of his form in this post.” And indeed he is. In fact, Sully rails so hard against the Republican party as a whole that he might as well start calling himself an independent centrist.  Click on the screenshot to read:

The intro, clearly showing a disaffection for Republicans:

There are times, I confess, when I decide to pass on writing another column on how degenerate the Republican Party is. What else is there to say? It’s not as if the entire media class isn’t saying it every hour of every day. And it’s not as if the depravity of the party hasn’t been a longtime hobbyhorse of mine. Unlike most of the Never-Trumper set, I was writing about this derangement on the right in the 1990s. I tore into George W. Bush’s spend, borrow and torture policies. I wrote a book on what I thought conservatism really was in 2006 — and why the GOP was its nemesis. I couldn’t have been clearer about what Palin represented — even as Bill Kristol selected her to be a potential president.

But then you come across the Senate candidacy of one Herschel Walker, and, well, words fail. No magical realist fiction writer could come up with something so sickeningly absurd. Walker is, of course, inextricable from his longtime friend, Donald Trump, who made his campaign possible in March 2021. . .

Sullivan goes hard on Walker’s unbelievable stupidity (and also mentions the man’s evolution denialism):

Walker is, to start with, very dumb. I don’t usually note this quality in a candidate and it doesn’t make him a huge outlier in politics of course. Being brainy, moreover, can be a serious liability for some pols. But seriously: this stupid?

Here is Walker’s grasp of climate change: “Our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move.” Here’s his take on John Lewis: “Senator Lewis was one of the greatest senators that’s ever been, and for African Americans that was absolutely incredible. To throw his name on a bill for voting rights I think is a shame.” On the Inflation Reduction Act: “They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not. Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

After running through Walker’s sins of lying, abuse, harassment, stupidity, and hypocrisy, and wondering how any Republican can still support Walker’s candidacy, but observing that they do so out of tribalism, Sullivan argues:

I am not saying that the Democrats are not also corrupted by rank tribalism. At their worst, they are, as I often point out. I am saying that they do not compare with the current GOP in its hollowness and depravity and madness.

Walker shows that there is no principle they will not jettison, no evil they will not excuse, no crime they won’t “whatabout,” and no moron they won’t elect, if it means they gain power. There is degeneracy among many Democrats, sure. But the Republican party is defined by this putrescence. Burn it down.

Burn it down, with “it” being the Republican party? That’s not the Sullivan of yore! But you have to hand it to Andrew: he’s persuaded by reason and sometimes changes his mind. In this case, he was also persuaded by stupidity.

But there is a slight nod to faith in the piece. I don’t consider it terribly significant—though I aways thought Sullivan’s own Catholicism was a striking departure from his rationality—but reader Steve wanted to mention it. In one part of his piece, Sullivan attacks Republicans who still support Walker, despite his failure as both candidate and human being, because he can win:

It’s rare to see this kind of nihilist consequentialism expressed so nakedly. It’s rare to hear someone publicly say something so deeply hostile to any shred of Christianity. (Christians never believe the ends justify any means. Christianism is defined by that principle.) But nothing matters to the current GOP more than victory, by fair means or foul, by democratic processes or not.

And here’s where Steve finds some fault:

[Sullivan] does, however, betray his weakness for his religion in this sentence: “Christians never believe the ends justify any means.” On the contrary, the history of Christianity shows the continued reliance on the pious fiction or noble lie to gain adherents.

The column referenced, a good one, is by Neil Godfrey, and recounts the “noble lies” of Scripture: outrageous claims (like Jesus walking on water) seen as metaphorical by some theologians. Their end was to make converts; their means was to use Biblical claims the theologians didn’t accept but that demonstrated the miracles of God and Jesus.

But you don’t even have to go to the Bible to see lots of Christians violating Sullivan’s claim by showing that “the ends justify any means.”

The Inquisition is but one example.

That aside, Sullivan’s column is remarkably good.

A half hour on politics with James Carville, who’s optimistic about the Democrats

October 2, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Whenever I feel dispirited about politics, I try to watch James Carville’s latest take on video. It may not be cheerful (though this one should buck up Democrats), but I love his Louisiana accent and as well as his genuine populist-Democatic take, knocking the wind out of “progressive” Democrats, whom he sees as elitist, arrogant, and inimical to the progress of Democrats. (Carville is, of course, an ardent Democrat, but can’t stand fellow party members who, he thinks, don’t understand America). He’s the Andy Rooney of the Democratic Party.

Here we have Carville in August on “The Hill”, talking for a half hour with Niall Stanage about the state of the Democratic Party. I have to say that he’s more optimistic than I am about the midterm elections and about Trump’s possible run for the Presidency (Carville doesn’t think that will happen.) And that makes me feel better, perhaps because I agree with him, but perhaps because Carville has a pretty good track record with prognostications.

So here are a few bullet points in favor of the Democrats articulated by Carville:

  • He is pretty optimistic about the midterms, seeing it as likely that Democrats will will the Senate (of course, they already have, but at least he thinks the Republicans won’t gain control.
  • Voters, he says, are not impressed by the kind of “change” offered by the Republican party, which is not having a good year.
  • Inflation and economic problems are, he says, abating, and although Biden will still be blamed for them, he’s done a good job as President, having “substantial achievement” and having made some good appointments. He seems to think, but won’t “jinx” the next Presidential election, that Biden will be the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2024, though Carville for the moment would rather concentrate on this November’s midterm elections.
  • He thinks that Republicans are going to be vulnerable on the Mar-a-Lago papers issue. Their only defense is that this is a Democratic conspiracy, but that doesn’t sit well with most Americans,
  • Carville emphasizes that if you look at how people self-identify among Democrats, you find that, at only 11%, “progressive liberals” is the smallest group, and the only one that’s majority white. He decries them because “they have the ability to irritate and come up with really stupid things like ‘Defund the Police’: the worst words in the English language.
  • When Stanage asks him what people like him should do about the progressive Democrats, Carville says, “Make fun of them.”  He minces no words!
  • Finally, he doesn’t think Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2024. Further, he believes that the Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the foot because “they ahve really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.”  (He sees most electable Republicans as having dropped out of contention.)

Watch the video to see the Democrats’ Andy Rooney!:

An update on House and Senate prognostications, and a question about the elections

August 9, 2022 • 9:30 am

FiveThirtyEight has posted its latest prognostications, which show that, in its simulations, Democrats take the Senate a little more often, but Republicans take the House a lot more often. Remember, these simulations have presumably factored in Biden’s latest legislative victory as well as the overturning of Roe and the widespread disapproval of that decision. Remember, we have 3 months to go before round #1, and 27 months before round #2, so we’re just having fun here. My question to readers is below:

The Senate:


The House:

Here’s the question. It looks like either both houses of Congress will be Republican after the 2024 elections, or the Senate will be Democratic and the House Republican. The chances that both will be Democratic seems to me almost zero.

Two hypothetical questions:

If the Senate and House are dominated by different parties, which house of Congress would you prefer be Democratic, and which Republican?


Does your answer change if the President is a Democrat or a Republican?

Let’s assume that the President (knock on wood) is a Democrat.  If the Senate were highly Democratic (60% or more), then Republicans voting as a group couldn’t filibuster to prohibit Democratic legislation from passing the Senate. But 60% Democrats is out of the question. But even if only half the Senate were Democratic, as it is now, ties on reconciliation bills could be broken by the VP’s vote.

The problem, of course, is that the question hypothesizes a Republican House, which wouldn’t vote for any bill approved by a Democratic Senate (I’m assuming near-unanimity of party votes here, which seems likely).  The ultimate result is that unless substantial bipartisanship arises, we’re screwed. And because of the President’s veto power, no Republican-initiated legislation could overcome that veto. (It takes a 2/3 vote of both houses to override a veto.)

Now let’s assume that the President is a Republican.  A Republican Senate would be the same as the Democratic Senate is now: it could pass reconciliation bills but unless there are more than 60 Republicans, which seems unlikely, they couldn’t prevent a Democratic filibuster and bring “normal” bills to a vote. And since this hypothetical includes a Democratic House, no Republican bills would be passed there anyway.

If the House were Republican but the Senate Democratic, legislation is again stymied. There is no chance of a Democratic VP breaking a tie, and even if reconciliation bills are passed by a simple majority in the Democratic Senate, they’d be voted down by the House.

In fact, under a Republican President, a split congress could never pass any Democrat-approved legislation because the President would simply veto it.

The way things look now, if the Congress is split,  Democrats could never get their agenda passed, and that doesn’t depend on the party of the President. But the same goes for Republicans.  This is because legislation must be approved by both houses of Congress, and neither party is in the mood for bipartisanship. Only the most innocuous bills could be passed.

A split Congress is a recipe for disaster, particularly if a Republican President begins issuing executive orders.

I’m so tired that I have a feeling I made a mistake, but I can’t find one.


Bill Maher’s “Real Time”

August 7, 2022 • 6:14 pm

Watch this quickly before it’s removed. It’s the entire content of this week’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” show, featuring David Duchovny, Democratic political advisor Lis Smith, and Matt Taibbi, someone many of us read but few have seen.

The opening monologue is about “fat acceptance,” which isn’t as humorous as usual since it’s meant pretty seriously. Few would have the moxie to say what Maher says.

HBO will take this down, so watch now.

and here’s the “Overtime” segment, which begins with Maher asking the guests who they think will be the Republican Presidential candidate in 2024.

Is New York mayor Eric Adams a woo-meister?

July 11, 2022 • 12:45 pm

After I read Maureen Dowd’s pretty positive assessment of Mayor Eric Adams of NYC in the NYT—someone touted on this site as a potential Democratic Presidential candidate in 2024)—I was surprised to find this in last Thursday’s Guardian.  Yes, Adams would be wrong if he thought his city got “special energy” from crystals, but does he think that? Maybe. Does it matter? Nope.

Click to read:


Well, the Guardian is exaggerating a bit. Here’s how its article starts:

Healing crystals have long been a fixture in the spiritual and celebrity worlds – with Adele using them to ward off stage fright and Nicole Richie wearing a clear quartz around her neck for protection.

But the New York City mayor, Eric Adams, believes that they have even more power than that: he professed in a recent interview that he believes there is a “special energy” that comes from the city he presides over, citing its location on a store of rare gems and stones.

As the New York area news website Hell Gate has deftly pointed out, Adams may be the first “crystal guy” of politics. He regularly wears “energy stone bracelets” featuring an array of powerful crystals. And when he proclaimed a “vibe shift” is upon New York City, he wasn’t just talking about the return of low-rise jeans.

I didn’t see any mention of Adams in the New York Magazine piece, but it became paywalled before I finished reading it.

And yes, the bedrock that allows Manhattan to have so many skyscrapers does have a lot of minerals in it. But crystals? The article isn’t sure:

The mayor is right about one thing, says Andrew Pacholyk, a New York-based crystal expert: the city, indeed, is seated on unique bedrock that has been known to produce more than 100 varieties of mineral. Called the Manhattan schist, it was formed about 450m years ago in a collision between what is now the east coast of North America and the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

So what effect might crystals be having on the lives of New Yorkers? Pacholyk is vague on specifics but believes that certain areas in Manhattan do have a “special energy” owing to the unique mix of minerals found there – including quartz, kyanite, and dumortierite. He says it can be felt more strongly in natural areas with exposed rock, like Central Park.

Adams, who shockingly declined to comment for this piece, appears to wear several varieties of quartz himself. Pacholyk analyzed a photo of Adams at a December 2021 event and found the bracelets the mayor wears feature at least a dozen varieties of crystals including amethyst, rose quartz, lapis lazuli, citrine, and aventurine.

Big deal! The loon here isn’t Adams but Pacholyk, who admits above and below that crystals have supernatural properties on humans.

Not of those minerals mentioned (save quartz) is in NYC bedrock, and even if the mayor thinks that the minerals give the city a special energy when we know they can’t, I can’t be too worried about that. After all, we admire public figures for being religious, and being, say, a Christian requires far more suspension of disbelief and far more belief in woo than does being a guy who wears a crystal bracelet and thinks it has some effect on him.

And “shockingly declined to comment for this piece”? Why is that so shocking? It’s like someone asking Mike Pence, “Mike, do you really believe all that crap about the Crucifixion and Resurrection?” I doubt that Pence would comment on that, too, and he’s far more public about his religion.

As for the “recent interview” mentioned above, it was in Politico, and says this, with additional tarring of Adams because they he’s an adhereian to the Deepak-ian form of quantum woo:

[Adams] learned that New York sits on a store of rare gems and stones, and believes that as a result, “there’s a special energy that comes from here.” On his right wrist he wears a pair of multi-colored energy stone bracelets. He has read several books by Joe Dispenza, a neuroscientist and faculty member at Honolulu’s Quantum University whose bestseller, Becoming Supernatural, teaches that we can transform our physical and emotional state through the teachings of quantum physics.

The rest of the Guardian article talks about the booming crystal industry and a claim that crystals don’t do squat, which happens to be true. But even for that they must rely on Michael Shermer; they can’t bring themselves to proclaim that there is no fricking evidence that crystals have healing properties. Fortunately Shermer gives a sensible response:

Michael Brant Shermer, an author and executive director of the Skeptics Society, says there is not a shred of scientific evidence to show crystals have a measurable effect on humans or cities like New York. Still, he says, while Adams may be the first high-profile candidate to publicly declare a love of crystals, the metaphysical has found its way into politics in the past.

As in religion! You can barely get elected to dogcatcher in America if you are an open atheist. Shermer goes on:

. . . Shermer says as long as Adams does not let his personal beliefs color his policies, the interest in crystals is harmless.

“Adams shouldn’t think, ‘What should we do about gun violence? Let me consult my crystals,’” he says. “That is a hard enough problem as it is using all the best science we have. Let’s not compound it with crystals. But I think of it the same way that I think of it in other areas of life: if it’s for entertainment purposes only, it’s fine.”

Good response, Michael. But the Guardian then lists three minerals found under NYC (quartz, dumorierite, and black and blue kyanite, and quotes crystal maven Pacholyk on the genuine magical properties of these stones. Here are two examples:


“Quartz is known as the ‘master healer’ of stones,” Pacholyk says. “Our own body has quartz in it as a mineral, so it is believed we resonate to its properties vibrationally and magnetically. If you are open to it, you can feel it.”


Dumortierite is the stone of “tolerance and tranquility”,” Pacholyk says, promoting “self-discipline, cleanliness, courage, trust, accomplishment, harmony, positive attitude, patience and tolerance”.

And so ends the article. So what’s the Guardian’s answer to its title question? It doesn’t give one, but does leave the reader thinking, “Hey, maybe there’s something to this crystal stuff after all!”

Below photo from the Guardian showing Adams wearing a bracelet, but is it a crystal one?

Photo by Getty Images in the Guardian

Discussion post: 2024 and other things

July 10, 2022 • 9:20 am

I’ll be downtown most of the day, although I’ll definitely be avoiding Millennium Park, for the whole area is teeming with tourists here for the Big Food Ripoff, otherwise known as “The Taste of Chicago“. That’s a three-day capitalistic festival in which credulous visitors pay large amounts of money to secure small portions of “classic” Chicago food. Meh. I can go to the places directly and eat much better.

I spent much of yesterday with my oldest friends, who live in Cambridge, MA and who I visit about twice a year and talk to weekly. They are a married couple (I was in their wedding in 1972), and I’ve known the male half since 1967 when we lived on the same dorm hall at William and Mary. The woman half (womb-bearer?) arrived at W&M two years later. I was in their wedding at Bruton Parish Church in colonial Williamsburg. Dressed in an ill-fitting suit borrowed from the groom’s father, and having hair down to my shoulders, I was asked to escort the guests to their places at the proper side of the aisle. The bride, from the South, had invited a lot of proper Southern friends and family, and when a southern guest took a look at me as I offered her my arm, she remarked to a friend, “Do you mean that I have to be walked down the aisle by RASPUTIN?”

We’ve had many adventures since the late Sixties, and that was one of the tamer ones. We talked about those old times, about getting old, and about our mutual friends who were gone. But we swore that if we ever started discussing the condition of our bowels, we’d shoot each other!

But I digress, that’s just a story to introduce a discussion thread. I’ll be gone again most of the day spending time with my friends downtown, and so proffer you the chance to spout off in the comments.

There are many topics you can discuss, and the floor is open, but here are a couple on everybody’s mind: who can the Democrats run for President in 2024, and who will run for the GOP? And who would you like to represent the Democrats, and fear will represent the GOP? (I’m assuming you’re center-Left or Left here, but Republicans are welcome to join in).

My own view is that Biden should not run again. His approval ratings are in the dumpster, his age is showing, he’s incapable making-off-the cuff remarks without a gaffe (this isn’t new), and all his remarks are written down on a piece of paper. His record is mixed; the economy, while not in recession, is squeezing nearly everyone; gas prices are through the roof, and of course the elections are “about the economy, stupid.” Voters won”t care as much about the Ukraine as about their weekly grocery bill, and as for domestic policy, Biden hasn’t particularly done anything about immigration (that was Kamala Harris’s job), while the Build Back Better plan didn’t get off the ground. (Granted, that’s the fault of two “Democrats”, but Biden takes the ultimate responsibility for getting stuff through Congress. Further, even my friends, who are more woke than I, agree that Biden has gone too far towards “progressive” Leftism—in a way that will hurt Democrats. Believe me, Republicans will do everything they can to capitalize on every bit of Wokeism they can find in the Left, including the email recently sent out by Oregon health officials postponing a meeting because “urgency is a white supremacy value”. When Biden was elected, I was relieved that he wasn’t a Woke Democrat, but he’s turned out plenty malleable to Wokeism, including his administration’s proposed and damaging revisions of Title IX.

Biden, then, is a no go  for me, though I’d certainly vote for him as President over any Republican opponent. Although next in the traditional manner of succession, Kamala Harris won’t run, or, if she does, she’ll be buried. She simply hasn’t shown that she has the stuff to run the country, having failed at the one big task assigned her.

Who, then, do the Democrats have as a viable candidate for President? Weigh in below. As for me, I’d like to see Cory Booker run.  He’s got the experience, the smarts, the rhetoric, and he’s also black, which will help pull minority voters back to the Democratic party. If not him, Pete Buttigieg, though he’s a second choice. But Mayor Pete is also really smart, rhetorically skillful, quick on his feet, and has done a good job in a difficult position: Secretary of Transportation. When he’s asked a question by reporters, he answers with refreshing honesty.

Both Buttigieg and Booker are on the right Ii.e, Left) side of issues I like, and neither is a “progressive” of the “Squad” stripe.  Of course if both houses of Congress turn Republican this fall, and stay that way, we’re screwed seven ways from Sunday.

So those are the Dems I’d like to see run, though there may be dark horses out there, and if you know of any, name them.

I’ve been thinking that the GOP has only two viable candidates at this time: Ron DeSantis and, of course, The Donald. I cannot believe that Americans would elect Trump again, and yet I think that his candidacy is the most likely outcome—if he’s not indicted. (I hope he will be, which will both knock him out and perhaps put him in a uniform that matches his hair.) DeSantis will run, I believe, if Trump doesn’t: right now DeSantis has a national profile and seems hungry for bigger things.  Ideally, Liz Cheney would be the Republican candidate, but she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell given her (admirable) behavior on the January 6 committee and Trump’s hatred of her. And remember, she’s still a Republican with a Republican view on many issues. I’ve heard some people say she should run as a Democrat, but even if she were elected as such it would be a disaster.

So, who do you think will run, and who do you want to run? Who would you vote for gladly, and who while holding your nose. I’m off and will see you anon.


Is Boris Johnson on the way out?

July 6, 2022 • 10:50 am

This morning I received two emails from British friends suggesting that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is circling the drain. Of course he’s been circling it for a long time, but now he appears to be on the drain’s event horizon. I asked for details but didn’t get them. Eventually another British friend wrote me this:

Two senior cabinet ministers and bunch of junior ones have resigned after revelations that [Johnson] lied about his knowledge of sexual misconduct by an MP he appointed to a post.

Well that was enough to get make me look at the news.

The BBC article below provides what I think is the answer (click to read):

Here’s the summary; the accused appears to be Christ Pincher

Boris Johnson is battling to stay in office, amid a growing wave of resignations from his government in protest at his leadership.

New chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has urged unity after his predecessor, the health secretary, and several junior ministers walked out.

But the prime minister has been hit by six further resignations, taking the total to 16 in the past day.

It comes as he prepares for PMQs later and a grilling by senior MPs.

Mr Johnson’s premiership has been plunged into crisis following the dramatic resignations of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

They quit within minutes of each other on Tuesday following a row over Mr Johnson’s decision to appoint Chris Pincher deputy chief whip earlier this year.

Their departures triggered a wave of resignations from more junior roles that has continued on Wednesday.

In six further departures ahead of PMQs, education ministers Will Quince and Robin Walker, Justice Minister Victoria Atkins, Treasury minister John Glen, and ministerial aides Laura Trott and Felicity Buchan have all walked out.

Mr Johnson has admitted it was a “bad mistake” to appoint Mr Pincher, despite being aware of misconduct allegations against him.

It followed days of changing responses from No 10 over what exactly the PM knew about Mr Pincher’s past conduct when he gave him the job.

Now this would not lead to the removal of a U.S. President: remember how Bill Clinton lied about his own involvement with Monica Lewinsky, and was impeached—but survived?

But it’s interesting to compare the BBC coverage in this article with what would be reported if a U.S. President lied in the same way. The U.S. news would give Pincher’s alleged misconduct in great detail, as we love scandal.

The BBC is more puritanical, putting the emphasis on politics and what could happen to Boris. However, there’s already a Wikipedia article on the row, “Chris Pincher scandal”, which goes back to 2017 when Pincher was accused of inappropriate conduct towards a woman. Then he was accused of groping two men. And here’s what got Johnson into hot water: accusations of covering up this (from the Wikipedia article).

On 3 July 2022 six new allegations against Pincher emerged, involving behaviour over a decade. Three complaints are that Pincher made unwanted advances against other male MPs, one in a bar at the House of Commons and one in Pincher’s parliamentary office. One complainant reportedly gave Downing Street details in February and expressed concerns over Pincher becoming a whip in charge of other MP’s welfare. Pincher maintained he had no intention of resigning as an MP.

Johnson allegedly referred to Pincher as “handsy” and Dominic Cummings said Johnson joked about him being “Pincher by name, pincher by nature” in 2020. There are calls for Johnson to explain how much he knew about Pincher’s behaviour. Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds said: “I think we’ve got to acknowledge what the consistent problem is and it is a Conservative party that repeatedly chooses to do what is politically expedient over what is right. It’s clear from what we know this morning that Chris Pincher should never have been put back into the whips’ office.”

Ministers initially said that Johnson was unaware of any specific complaints against Pincher when he was appointed as deputy chief whip. Later, Downing Street said Johnson was aware at the time of media reports and allegations that were “either resolved or did not progress to a formal complaint”. The BBC then reported, however, that an official complaint and subsequent investigation into Pincher, while he was at the Foreign Office (July 2019 to February 2020), had confirmed his misconduct, and that Johnson had been made aware of the matter at that time. Sir Simon McDonald, former Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, later confirmed that the prime minister had been briefed “in person” about Pincher. McDonald said that in the summer of 2019, a group of officials had “complained to me about Mr Pincher’s behaviour. In substance, the allegations were similar to those made about his behaviour at the Carlton Club.”

Will Boris go? Should he go for not proceeding to act against Pincher for making advances?

We’ll have a poll, but first here are the BBC’s scenarios of how he could go down the drain as PM:

How could Boris Johnson go?

  • If party bosses change the one-year rule on leadership challenges, rebel Tory MPs could try again to oust him later this summer, or in the autumn
  • If Mr Johnson lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament, he would have to resign or call an election
  • Otherwise, he would have to resign himself – possibly in the face of cabinet pressure, like Margaret Thatcher – or after a fresh wave of ministerial resignations

I know squat about what would happen if Boris went, and will depend on Brits to inform me in the comments. If he resigns, who would replace him? If there’s an election to replace him, would the Tories still win?

And our poll about Boris’s fate. Please give your best prognostication; I’m always disappointed in how few people give an opinion. It’s just for fun—a survey of reader sentiment.

Will this scandal lead to Boris Johnson's removal as Prime Minister?

View Results

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Highlights from Bill Maher’s latest “Real Time” show

June 26, 2022 • 9:15 am

Watch quickly before HBO pulls these clips from Youtube!

Reader Paul called my attention to the second clip below from the latest Bill Maher’s “Real Time” show, but I found two other short clips on YouTube. His guests this week were three writers: Andrew Sullivan, Christine Emba, and Katie Herzog.

Maher is often damned by “progressive” bloggers as an “alt-Righter”, but they simply hate the fact that he makes fun of the progressive Left. (Yes, he did flirt with anti-vaxism, but that just gave him another reason to dislike him.) But if you look at the videos, especially the ending of the second one, you’ll see that he’s no conservative, but a liberal of the classical stripe. Do progressives lack a sense of humor? Are there any “progressive Leftist” comedians? (I can’t think of any.) The comedians who liberals really liked, like Dave Chapelle, Sarah Silverman, Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin, were known for taking the mickey out of liberal hypocrisy. Of course the Right is also fair game these days, as the clips below show.

And I often find Maher very funny. His delivery, a combination of deadpan and laughing at his own jokes, is unique. Even if you don’t like him, you have to admit that there’s nobody besides Chapelle, who has a very different style, who fills Maher’s niche.

Here’s his 2.5-minute opening monologue with a dig at the end at Democrats who couldn’t bear to vote for Hillary Clinton. (I did, though I voted for Bernie in the primary.)

This is a good 8.5-minute bit in which Maher points out how Americans resent it when they don’t have “their own lawyer”—someone who represents their interests. Some Democratic policies, like forgiving student loan debt, get it in the neck. (The fourth “lawyer billboard” is a hoot!) Finally, at 7:55, he gets serious about trying to dump Trump.

Six minutes of discussion about Roe v. Wade and the divisions within America. Katie Herzog mourns the fact that there’s “no center” in American politics, Sullivan makes a few remarks suggesting that the states and not the courts should decide the issue of abortion, which is what the Supreme Court just ruled.

And eight minutes of overtime. Herzog agrees with me that Biden overstepped his bounds by banning Jool e-cigarettes and trying to eliminate all nicotine from tobacco. As she says, “If anything turns me into a libertarian, it will be this particular issue.”  This bit isn’t as interesting as the videos above, but I add it for completion.

Watch the January 6 meetings live

June 13, 2022 • 11:19 am

I forgot that the January 6 hearings, Day 2, began this morning, but they’ll continue. The PBS live feed is below.

And it’s getting hot. Here’s a summary of what happened so far today from the New York Times. I’m afraid that if I start watching, I won’t stop!

Former President Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman told the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that he told his boss on election night in 2020 that he had no basis for declaring victory, but Mr. Trump insisted on doing so anyway.

Mr. Trump “thought I was wrong. He told me so,” Bill Stepien testified, according to a videotaped interview the panel played on Monday at the second in a series of public hearings this month to lay out its evidence.

The testimony came near the start of a session in which the committee planned to describe the origin and spread of Mr. Trump’s election lies, including the former president’s refusal to listen to advisers who told him that he had lost and that there was no evidence of widespread irregularities that could change the outcome. Later, the panel planned to show the chaos those falsehoods caused throughout several states, ultimately resulting in the riot.

“This morning, we will tell the story of how Donald Trump lost the election, and knew he lost the election, and as a result of his loss, decided to wage an attack on our democracy,” Representative Bennie G. Thompson, Democratic of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, said as he opened the hearing.

Among the panel’s initial revelations Monday were:

  • Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers, his attorney general and other top officials told him repeatedly that his claims of a stolen election and widespread voting fraud were wrong, but the president insisted on pressing ahead with them.

Feel free to discuss what’s going on as it comes down.

The January 6 assault on the Capitol

June 11, 2022 • 10:15 am

Here is the 10-minute video that, I believe, was shown the other day at the Congressional hearings on the January 6 Capitol invasion. It’s an excellent piece of filmmaking, juxtaposing the violence at the building with Donald Trump’s infuriating words.  And, to me, at least, it conveys a sense of how violent the invasion was, and how crazed the invaders were.  “Lock ’em up” was my response to a lot of the video, and, indeed, many will be.

I believe one reader the other day took me to task for saying that this was an “insurrection.” Well, it looks, sounds, and smells like an insurrection to me.

As a supplement, here’s a 40-minute video, produced by the New York Times, on the events of that day. The YouTube description is below:

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was perhaps the most widely documented act of political violence in history. The New York Times obtained, analyzed and mapped out thousands of cellphone videos, police bodycam recordings and internal police audio to provide the most complete picture to date of what happened — and why. Our Oscar-shortlisted documentary “Day of Rage” charts in chilling detail how the peaceful transition of power was disrupted by rioters who stormed a seemingly impenetrable seat of government.

It’s more thorough but not as powerful as the shorter video above.