☕️ SKEPTICISM ☙ Friday, February 9, 2024 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠
Carlson-Putin interview dents the Proxy War; Special Counsel torpedoes Biden; attacks on Moscow after interview; Zelensky's replacement general butchers morale; Supreme Court favors Trump; and more.
Good morning, C&C, it’s Friday! At last. Another week in the stack. Today is Michelle’s birthday, so I’m moving fast to get her breakfast ready and I ask your forgiveness for extra typos and stuff in today’s post. Tomorrow’s edition may be a little light since I have birthday plans for her tonight too. But here’s your packed roundup: Tucker Carlson doesn’t exactly break the Internet, but his Putin interview is still remarkable in form and substance; Biden’s special counsel declines to prosecute the former vice-president for illegal retention of classified documents, but you won’t believe why; Moscow attacked after Tucker interview; Zelensky replaces beloved top general with deeply-unpopular pick; and Supreme Court prepares to rule in Trump’s favor in “insurrection balloting” case.
🗞💬 WORLD NEWS AND COMMENTARY 💬🗞
🔥 Welp, he did it. It’s done. Tucker posted his interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday evening. It clocked in at a whopping two hours and seven minutes, and even that was edited.
The two men mostly avoided incendiary topics, and they discussed nothing anyone could call a conspiracy theory. The closest Tucker got was asking Putin who blew up the Nordstream pipeline, to which Putin answered, “you, of course.” Was Putin joking? Or was he accusing the U.S.? It wasn’t clear, especially after Tucker joked back that he had an alibi that night.
It was amusing, but it was a dodge.
Whatever the intensely-skeptical liberal media was terrified would happen evidently did not happen, causing the high tide of corporate media hysteria to recede a little. I suppose they had fretted Putin would put a hex on them or, Kreskin-like, would mesmerize Berkeley into canceling drag day or something. While most corporate media are still calling the interview ‘propaganda’, at least the wailing that Tucker should be given the old Edward Snowden treatment trailed off. Well, slightly.
For example, the New York Times’s headline was not hysterical, not at all, omitted the word ‘propaganda’, and was almost even-handed:
It’s pretty remarkable, if you think about it, that this might be the very first time since the start of the war that New York Times readers have heard the Russian point of view. Which proved the interview’s profound success, but I’ll get to that in a second.
On the other hand, proving that you can’t please everybody, skeptical conservatives expressed disappointment with the interview, perhaps preferring that Tucker would’ve thrown caution to the wind, opened a ‘Ukraine biolabs’ can of whoop-ass, and broached other salacious subjects. But he didn’t, and Putin was even more restrained than Tucker, tip-toeing around topics that might trigger liberals, such as LGBTQ and trans policy, which Putin is famous for criticizing and usually never misses a chance to get his digs in.
So what was going on? Why all the delicacy?
They were careful because the interview wasn’t aimed at conservatives. Conservatives are already skeptical of the war, and we already disbelieve whatever we’re being told by the Biden Administration. The interview was aimed instead at moderate democrats and independents. Democrat partisans wouldn’t watch it even if Putin had described a secret cure for cancer — although ironically he discussed cancer (denied having it) and joked about a cure.
Here’s the take-away for thoughtful democrats: Putin isn’t a wild-eyed maniac; he’s thoughtful and intelligent. He isn’t crazy; he’s rational and has understandable reasons for what he’s doing, even if we don’t agree with his reasons. He isn’t unreasonable; he offered to negotiate peace and openly invited that discussion. He might be an enemy, but he’s not a chaos demon from the pits of Hell, like corporate media has always described him.
The message successfully penetrated that Putin is a sane leader with whom peace could possibly be negotiated, as the New York Times’ headline proved. Maybe it was just the right time for that optimistic message.
More subversively, and probably unintentionally, the interview also deeply undermined the Biden Administration, by starkly contrasting our two leaders. One leader looks and sounds like Grandpa Simpson, and the other leader looks and sounds like what you would expect a world leader to look and sound like. I won’t spoil it for you; you be the judge. But just:
I mean, right? You see it too, don’t you?
🔥 You just can’t make this stuff up. I know I keep saying that, but come on. How much can one blogging lawyer be expected to take? CNN ran the story yesterday headlined, “Special counsel report concludes Biden willfully retained classified information but will not face charges.”
Useless special counsel and obedient lapdog Robert Hur issued his vast, overwritten, 345-page report yesterday, and — this will shock you — he declined to prosecute Joe Biden for doing exactly the same thing Trump is being prosecuted for doing, keeping classified documents after he left office, except worse, because Biden wasn’t even the President at the time. Critically, the President has the power to declassify at will, and as Hur’s report noted, Congressional secrecy statutes don’t even apply to the President.
But they do apply to the vice president.
Trump carefully protected his documents in a video-monitored, Secret Service-protected safe room at Mar-a-Lago, a private club with layers and layers of security. Biden carelessly stacked his documents in some ripped banker’s boxes out in the garage at a house “rented” to his drug-addled son, Hunter, next to a pile of junk. And in other even less-secure places.
Here’s how the Report’s introduction described Biden’s classified documents handling “procedure”:
Our investigation uncovered evidence that President Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen. These materials included (1) marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan, and (2) notebooks containing Mr. Biden's handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods. FBI agents recovered these materials from the garage, offices, and basement den in Mr. Biden's Wilmington, Delaware home.
We also expect many jurors to be struck by the place where the Afghanistan documents were ultimately found in Mr. Biden's Delaware home: in a badly damaged box in the garage, near a collapsed dog crate, a dog bed, a Zappos box, an empty bucket, a broken lamp wrapped with duct tape, potting soil, and synthetic firewood.
One of the most memorable parts of Hur’s report, even if not legally significant, was his description of Biden as essentially being an Alzheimer’s patient. The main reason Hur astoundingly offered for not prosecuting Biden is that a jury would have found the former vice president to be a sympathetic witness as a frail elderly person with severe memory loss:
In his interview with our office, Mr. Biden's memory was worse. He did not remember when he was vice president, forgetting on the first day of the interview when his term ended ("if it was 2013 - when did I stop being Vice President?"), and forgetting on the second day of the interview when his term began ("in 2009, am I still Vice President?"). He did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died. And his memory appeared hazy when describing the Afghanistan debate that was once so important to him. Among other things, he mistakenly said he "had a real difference" of opinion with General Karl Eikenberry, when, in fact, Eikenberry was an ally whom Mr. Biden cited approvingly in his Thanksgiving memo to President Obama.
At trial, Mr. Biden would likely present himself to a jury, as he did during our interview of him, as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.
They had to split hairs somehow. Team Biden’s challenge was to somehow distinguish between what Biden did and what Trump did, so they can keep prosecuting Trump while letting Biden wander off. They picked possibly the dumbest distinction, that Biden was too stupid, old, and careless to know that what he was doing was wrong.
Don’t be fooled, this strategy of incompetence is cunningly aimed at a legitimate legal distinction: the records statute at issue requires the government to prove “willfulness.”
Hur’s theory, stated quite plainly in his report, is that Biden is guilty, no question, but a jury won’t believe that someone as out-of-contact with reality as Biden could have willfully violated the classified records statute. Hur repeatedly said he wasn’t taking a position on whether Biden was willful or not; he seems to think Biden was willful, even questioning whether Biden might have deliberately staged the documents in his garage, and later cooperated with the FBI, to support a fake ‘carelessness’ or ‘forgetfulness’ defense.
But having carefully weighed all the pro’s and con’s, and being a good little doggy, Special Prosecutor Hur concluded that since he — himself — thought a jury would probably just sympathize with a frail elderly dementia patient like Biden, the government wouldn’t reliably be able to prove willfulness. So Hur decided not to prosecute. Case closed.
Biden obviously enjoys the benefits of the First Class legal system, and Trump is back in coach with the rest of us. When the democrats bleat that “no one is above the law,” they mean except for people in First Class.
Hur’s reasoning was particularly moronic because the ‘crime’ occurred at the instant the documents were illegally retained — the day Biden left office as vice-president. The real difference between the two cases is not whether Trump “failed to cooperate” and Biden “cooperated,” because those are things that happened or didn’t happen long after the alleged crimes were committed (to the extent crimes were committed). The real difference is that Trump was President and Biden was only-vice president, and there are worlds of difference between those two jobs under the Constitution and other applicable law.
Hur is also wrong on willfulness issue. The question isn’t whether Joe Biden has the cognitive ability to willfully violate the records statute today, when he has only three firing neurons left. The question is whether Joe Biden had the cognitive ability to willfully violate the records statute at the time the crime was committed. That’s what a jury would have to decide, and likely Biden wouldn’t even testify, since most criminal defendants don’t.
Even if Biden did testify, a jury might reasonably conclude Biden was faking. After all, who would believe the President of the United States is really a dementia patient? Please. Any decent prosecutor could make that argument.
Hur is obviously not a decent prosecutor.
All in all, it was the worst possible time to publish the Hur report’s strategic limited hangout claiming Biden’s lack of mental capacity, what with the Tucker-Putin interview happening at the same time. The contrast between Putin — alert, intelligent, focused — and Biden — so forgetful a jury would never convict him — is literally breathtaking.
The Hur report raises serious questions about the election. I have become very skeptical about Democrats’ sincerity in pretending to run Joe Biden as their candidate. Try to imagine what Trump could do just in terms of devastating campaign ads based on the Hur report’s comments about Biden’s lack of mental capacity. A ten-year-old could make that ad.
I’ll end with this headline, picture, and paragraph from Politico’s article last night. Here’s the bizarre headline:
Here’s the unflattering photo they put right under that headline:
And here’s the one tricksy paragraph they slipped into the story that set the stage:
Haha! I mean, come on. At this point, they’re practically carrying Biden down to the bus depot so they can throw him under the wheels.
🔥 For his part, Putin was attacked for his participation in the Tucker interview. What I mean is, he was literally attacked. Or at least, Moscow was. Newsweek ran the story early this morning bluntly headlined, “Fire rips through Moscow.”
Fires broke out all across the Russian capital last night following the Tucker interview, at manufacturing plants, refineries, and apartment buildings. (In other words, the attackers deliberately targeted civilians.) It was obviously the coordinated work of Ukrainian special forces, and given the civilian targets, is legally considered terrorism and war crimes, and not legitimate warfare.
Some speculated the attack was designed to provoke Russia into retaliating by hitting back at civilian targets in Ukraine, thereby giving the United Nations evidence of ‘war crimes’ against Russia. I doubt Putin will take the bait. But it’s remarkable that the Ukrainians would sacrifice their own citizens just to grab a propaganda point.
Remind me sometime to tell you about my theory that all our food plant fires and refinery explosions are tit-for-tat sabotage.
🔥 Now, in the sagging middle of his Proxy War, at a time when he needs fresh volunteers more than ever, President Zelensky of Ukraine finally figured out his top General’s price, or brainstormed some other way of purging the beloved commander. Or maybe he just finally found a replacement. Aljazeera ran the story yesterday headlined, “Ukraine’s Zelenskyy names new army chief after dismissing Zaluzhnyi.”
Zelensky made a, well, controversial choice to replace popular top General Zaluzhny. Let’s just say the Ukrainian rank-and-file are pretty skeptical. Politico’s headline said it starkly:
The Butcher! General Oleksandr Syrskyi, 58, the country’s former ground forces chief, is described as being “deeply unpopular” with the troops. Not just unpopular. Deeply unpopular. It’s not quite like putting a drag queen in top command, but it’s also not not like that either. For example, Syrskyi is most infamous and most hated for ordering troops to keep stumbling into a human meat grinder in Bakhmut, sending wave after wave of soldiers to their useless deaths under fierce opposition fire.
After hearing about the new appointment, one Ukrainian commanding officer tweeted that Syrskyi’s leadership was ‘bankrupt’ (name withheld to protect the officer):
Whether liked by the troops or not, and who cares what they think, General Syrskyi’s greatest strength seems to be following orders. He is unlikely to question Zelensky or give him much pushback at all, and one can appreciate how the Ukrainian president might prefer a yes-man at this stage. Syrskyi’s greatest weakness is the same as his strength: unquestioningly following politicians orders.
What can we say? Replacing your top military leadership in the middle of a war is a desperate, last-ditch move. Maybe new ideas could change the momentum, who knows. The idea is, if you’re already losing, you might as well try something. But by all accounts, General Syrskyi does not seem like the kind of thinking-outside-the-box leader who can come up with a way of turning things around.
Even corporate media is skeptical so far. We’ll see how the world reacts, but this is likely to make people even more skeptical.
🔥 I’m getting intensely skeptical about the military’s future in this country. Presented without much comment, because what can I say? From the Navy Times, two weeks ago:
Somewhere, in some remote conference room or war planning bunker, top Navy commanders weighed two options to fix the branch’s flagging recruitment problem: either stop queering the Navy, or else drop the requirement that enlistees pass high school. Between the two options, they decided dropping a high-school education was the way to go.
I mean, what did high school ever do for anyone anyway? Congratulations, middle-schoolers! You’re in.
Seriously, though, I suspect what’s really going on is the Navy is preparing to start accepting non-citizen foreign nationals who can’t document their high-school educations because they grew up in cartel-controlled Columbia or in the cracolândias of Brazil. But I’m only guessing.
🔥 Finally, it wasn’t just me and the Ukrainian troops who were skeptical yesterday. The U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments on the Trump Insurrection challenge yesterday morning. As you recall, Colorado’s Supreme Court found Trump unqualified for the ballot under an archaic 14th Amendment Constitutional provision precluding “insurrectionists” (i.e., post-Civil War former Democrat slave owners) from holding certain offices or serving as electors.
Most intelligent legal minds, including mine, believed there was no way the 14th Amendment applied to President Trump. And, after hearing the Justices’ skeptical questions, including the liberal Justices, it looks like Trump is going to win the case in a landslide, not even close, maybe even 9-0.
There were lots of great moments, but to give you some a taste of what Colorado’s lawyers were up against, here’s a short clip of possibly the most liberal Justice on the Court, and you can tell she wasn’t buying it:
And .. they know. Corporate media is preparing their readers for disappointment, From the Associated Press yesterday:
Even though we expected this to happen, it’s still great news.
I told you 2024 was going to be off the chain.
Have a fantastic Friday! You never need to be skeptical about your Coffee & Covid, just step over Joe Biden’s political corpse and come on back tomorrow morning for another delicious, extra-large mug of C&C goodness.
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