Weekly Wag: meet Mae
- The Independent
The new subpoena replaces the one sent earlier that expired in January with the new administration
- The Independent
John Brennan says ‘there are so few Republicans in Congress who value truth, honesty, and integrity’
The leader of Taiwan's main opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT) said on Tuesday he is in no rush to travel to China to meet President Xi Jinping, and that Beijing's proposals to get Taiwan to accept Communist rule had "no market" on the island. The KMT ruled China before retreating to Taiwan at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949. While ties across the Taiwan Strait have improved dramatically in the last three decades, Beijing continues to claim Taiwan as its own territory.
- National Review
Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) reportedly plans to force Senate clerks to read out the entire $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill on the Senate floor, potentially delaying the vote by as much as 10 hours. Johnson told News/ Talk 1130, a local radio station in Wisconsin, that he plans to “make them read their 600-700 page bill” to ensure “Every member of the Senate has time to read” the bill and “highlight that this is not relief and that it’s a Democratic boondoggle.” The delay will come in addition to the 20 hours of debate time already scheduled for the legislation. Unanimous consent from all 100 senators is needed to waive a read-out on the Senate floor — most bills bypass a reading by unanimous consent in order to save time. Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R., S.D.) said he is “told it’s going to be more like 10” hours. “It’s going to occur at the beginning so it would be before the clocks starts so it doesn’t go against the 20 hours, it’s on top of the 20,” he said. Johnson said it is not his intention to “make it hurt,” but instead he hopes to highlight “how gross this is and how unnecessary this is.” Republicans have criticized the bill as being too large and wasteful and have been frustrated by Democrats’ use of budget reconciliation to pass the bill without bipartisan support. “Their bill costs about $2 trillion. That’s roughly the same size as the entire CARES Act that saved our health system and economy through months of shutdowns,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor. “Even liberal experts admit this is far out of proportion to what’s needed now, with vaccines going into arms and the economy already primed to roar back,” he said. “Amazingly, Democrats managed to allocate less than 9 percent of their massive bill to the entire healthcare response, and less than 1 percent to the vaccinations that will finish this fight.”
- The Daily Beast
- CBS News
- The Week
During the campaign for the two Georgia Senate races, Joe Biden repeatedly promised to pass $2,000 stimulus checks if the Democrats won. After they did, the administration argued that $2,000 really meant $1,400 in addition to the $600 that had already gone out in the December rescue package. Whether that is true or not, now Biden is inarguably breaking his promise. Under pressure from moderate Senate Democrats, he has reportedly agreed to cut down the formula under which the checks will be sent out. In the previous packages, the amount started phasing out at $75,000 in income for individuals and $150,000 for joint filers, and vanished entirely at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively (as of 2019). Now the phase-out will start start in the same place but end at $80,000 for singles and $160,000 for couples. The $1,400 promise clearly implied at least that the checks would go out according to the previous formula used under Trump. But now singles making between $80,000-100,000 and couples making between $160,000-200,000 will get nothing. The Washington Post's Jeff Stein reports that roughly 17 million people who previously got checks now will not. The supposed justification here is that moderates want the aid to be more "targeted." In fact this formula is horribly inaccurate, because the income data the IRS uses is from the year before the pandemic (unless people have already filed their taxes — and by the way, if your income decreased in 2020, you should do that immediately). This formula is therefore doubly wrong — there are no doubt millions of people who have lost jobs and should qualify but won't, and a smaller number that have gotten raises and shouldn't qualify but will. And this change will only save a pitiful $12 billion. The survival checks are one of the most popular government programs in American history. Polls have them at something like 4-1 approval. "Moderation," for Senate Democrats, apparently means breaking their party's promises in the service of unpopular, pointless actions that make their president seem less generous than Donald Trump. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Trump's CPAC appearanceMike Pence comes out of hiding to nod towards Trump's election liesCuomo claims kissing is his 'usual and customary' greeting
- Business Insider
- The Daily Beast
Seth Wenig/GettyAt his first press conference since three women accused him of unwanted sexual advances, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized while insisting he didn’t know his alleged actions—grabbing a woman’s face, bringing up an aide’s sexual assault, giving an aide a kiss on the cheek—made people uncomfortable.“I never touched anyone inappropriately. I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable. And if I did, I apologize for it. But let’s let the attorney general’s office decide the facts,” he said Wednesday, adding that he has no plans to resign.Cuomo discussed the most recent allegation, from former Biden campaign worker Anna Ruch, who said that the governor had grabbed her face and asked to kiss her shortly after they met at a 2019 wedding. She provided a picture and texts to corroborate her story.My Cuomo ‘Crush’ Turned Out to Be Stockholm SyndromeHe said the face-grabbing and kissing-on-the-cheek was a greeting habit he picked up from his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who served from 1983 to 1994.“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making this gesture,” Gov. Cuomo says. “It was my father’s way of greeting people. You’re the governor of the state, you want people to feel comfortable.”“But it doesn’t matter,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter my intent. What matters is whether anybody was offended by it. I could intend no offense but if they were offended by it it was wrong."Beyond that, however, the governor was short on specifics. When asked by a reporter whom specifically he was apologizing to, Cuomo did not provide a name.“I am apologizing to the young woman who worked here who said I made her feel uncomfortable in the workplace,” Cuomo said. “I’m embarrassed that someone felt that way in my administration.”Two aides, Lindsay Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, both came forward in February describing repeated propositions from the governor. Boylan wrote in a Medium post that she resigned after Cuomo gave her an unwanted kiss on the lips; Bennett told The New York Times that Cuomo repeatedly brought up a past sexual assault of hers.Following news of Bennett and Ruch’s allegations, some Democratic lawmakers have called on Cuomo to resign, including one member of Congress, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Cuomo, however, said Wednesday he didn’t plan on resigning, with no mention of whether or not he would run for a fourth term in 2022, as he has previously said he would do. In a statement following Wednesday’s news conference, Bennett’s lawyer Debra Katz—who also represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford after she alleged she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—wrote that Cuomo lied.“My client... reported his sexually harassing behavior immediately to his Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. We are confident that they made him aware of her complaint,” Katz wrote. “We fully expect that the Attorney General’s investigation will demonstrate that Cuomo administration officials failed to act on Ms. Bennett’s serious allegations.”She pointed to reporting from Politico on Wednesday, detailing how two Cuomo aides—senior adviser Gareth Rhodes and deputy press secretary Will Burns—had resigned in the wake of the scandal. “As reports are emerging of other staff resigning from the Governor’s office in the wake of his scandals, the people charged with helping him execute the duties of his office are once again bearing the consequences of his actions,” Katz wrote. “If they know anything or have experienced this themselves, we call on them to come forward and report this misconduct.”Boylan also expressed her frustration with Cuomo on Twitter, shortly after the conference. “How can New Yorkers trust you @NYGovCuomo to lead our state if you ‘don’t know’ when you’ve been inappropriate with your own staff?” she wrote. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Miami Herald
The arrest of Paul Nicholas Miller by FBI agents at his Fort Lauderdale home Tuesday morning on a pedestrian charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon seems a minor thing for the feds to make a point of announcing.
- Associated Press
- Business Insider
- The Telegraph
- Business Insider
Which activities are safe once you're fully vaccinated? Experts say movies, travel, and family gatherings are on the table
Public-health experts say it's probably safe for vaccinated people to meet for dinner or gather together indoors.
- Business Insider
Texas isn't the only state lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Here's how 11 other states and cities are easing lockdowns, despite the CDC insisting that 'now is not the time.'
- Business Insider
With J&J's vaccine, the US will have enough coronavirus shots for every adult in May, Biden says. Here's your vaccination timeline.
- The Telegraph
Nicola Sturgeon chokes back tears as she rejects 'absurd' claims she was out to destroy Alex Salmond
Nicola Sturgeon today choked back tears and insisted "I would never have wanted to 'get' Alex Salmond" as she rejected as "absurd" his claims of a plot among senior SNP figures to destroy him. The First Minister told a Holyrood inquiry the "simple" truth was that several women made complaints about Mr Salmond's behaviour and "I refused to follow the usual pattern of allowing a powerful man to use his status and connections to get what he wants." In an appearance spanning more than eight hours, against the backdrop of calls for her resignation, Ms Sturgeon insisted she had seen "nothing that comes within a million miles" of backing Mr Salmond's conspiracy claims. Although she reiterated it was "beyond question" that Mr Salmond had been cleared of all criminal charges, she said his behaviour was still "deeply inappropriate" and "there was not a single word of regret" from him during his six hours of testimony last week. Ms Sturgeon appeared on the verge of tears, with her voice breaking, as she was invited to apologise to the Scottish people for arguing for years they could trust Mr Salmond to take them to independence. Murdo Fraser, a Tory MSP, pressed her when she had decided he "was no longer the Charles Stewart Parnell of Scotland, and was in fact a liar and a fantasist?’"
- National Review
‘In Scandinavia, we have no poverty,” a Swedish economist once told Milton Friedman. “That’s interesting, because among Scandinavians in America we have no poverty, either,” Friedman supposedly responded. I think about this interaction whenever I see progressive arguments about imaginary Scandinavian utopias, such as this one from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: It is utterly embarrassing that “pay people enough to live” is a stance that’s even up for debate. Override the parliamentarian and raise the wage. McD’s workers in Denmark are paid $22/hr + 6 wks paid vacation. $15/hr is a deep compromise – a big one, considering the phase in. — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 3, 2021 The most obvious problem with Ocasio-Cortez’s contention is that Denmark, like other Scandinavian nations, doesn’t have a statutory minimum wage. Industries and workers engage in sector-by-sector salary negotiations, which might well undermine intra-industry competition, but which is a much better idea than the flat national-wage floor being peddled by Democrats. So, this popular progressive talking point about Denmark’s miracle middle-class fast-food worker doesn’t make much sense to begin with. Especially when one considers that the per-capita median income in the United States is virtually the same as in Denmark — quite a feat given that we’re a pluralistic nation of around 330 million people that naturalizes another 900,000 people every year, many from poor nations, and that Denmark is a homogeneous country of fewer than 6 million citizens that, in recent years, has effectively shut down its borders to poor immigrants. Denmark’s generous welfare state is propped up by shared social and cultural norms, and institutions that are habitually reviled by American progressives: unimpeded international trade, low regulatory burdens on business, and sometimes oil and gas checks — Denmark and Norway are Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producers. (On that note, I have a book coming out later this year debunking many of the left-wing’s mythologies about European supremacy.) Then there is the matter of what exactly $45,000 — the salary an employee making $22 an hour on a full-time basis would earn — means in each country. Denmark can afford its system because high taxes are paid by all its citizens, not just the wealthy. Not only do Danish fast-food employees making $45,000 hand over around half their earnings to the government, they pay a 25 percent value-added tax on most purchases, as well as a number of other levies. In return, Danes are afforded all kinds of government-provided services. Presumably, Ocasio-Cortez approves of this arrangement. Either way, Americans whose eyes light up at the prospect of making $22 per hour should know that nearly $11 of that goes straight to the state. Further, how much does a hamburger cost in Denmark? Spoiler: considerably more. If the federal government forced fast-food chains to start paying employees $22 per hour, and giving them six weeks paid vacation, and health care, and all the other goodies that progressive want to compel companies to offer, American consumers should be prepared to pay more for food or to be served by robots. The last time there was a push for a $15 minimum wage, in 2015-2016, McDonald’s quickly rolled out a touchscreen self-service kiosk makeover. Since then, that technology has only gotten better — and cheaper. Big chains like to offer up rhetoric that pleases the activist Left, but in the end, they are not charities but businesses with stakeholders. And profits matter. Now, I understand that socialists would be happy creating a permanent proletariat that is reliant on government to fix their wages and dictate all benefits. And, certainly, there is nothing demeaning about taking a job at a fast-food restaurant. For many young people it’s a temporary stop where they can take on responsibility for the first time and earn some money. For others, who need these jobs, it offers flexible hours and part-time work. Most people do not make careers out of working at Wendy’s. Fast-food chains have massive employee turnover rates. Some experience a 100 percent turnover every year. The other day, Ocasio-Cortez, argued that, “[w]hen we keep the minimum wage artificially low, it’s at a huge cost to our government . . . they’re essentially enormous subsidies to Walmart.” The notion that Ocasio-Cortez is apprehensive about government subsidies is, of course, risible. But she’s also wrong. Walmart, which revolutionized shopping by offering millions of low-income Americans affordable goods (progressives never mention that part of the equation), recently increased its internal minimum wage to $13-$19 per hour for most workers, while Amazon, Target, and Costco have raised their minimum wages to $15 per hour. Is this a good idea? We’ll see. As Thomas Sowell once pithily noted, all public policy is about tradeoffs. The increases will help some workers, no doubt. But they will also cost jobs, either by leading to less overall hiring or by forcing consumers to pay “artificially” high prices, rather than spending the difference elsewhere. Ocasio-Cortez’s rhetoric implies that there is something artificial about a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour but nothing artificial about a minimum wage of $15. This is ridiculous. The only non-artificial minimum wage is zero — which, incidentally, is what the 1.4 million people the CBO says would lose work due to a $15 national minimum wage will be making if AOC’s side of the argument wins.