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Even Liberals Are Disgusted by Amazon Prime Series ‘Them’

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Another year means another overrated series pushing the theme that since people in America were racist decades ago, America is just as racist if not more so today. 2019 had Watchmen, 2020 had Lovecraft Country, and 2021 has the unusually violent Amazon Prime series Them.

The series which premiered April 9 centers on a Black family known as the Emorys moving to a white neighborhood in 1953 Compton. Malevolent forces quickly conspire against them ranging from their vicious white neighbors to vaguely supernatural threats. All of it adds up to a terrifying situation for the Emorys due entirely to their race.

Make no mistake, pretty much every problem in the show comes from evil white people and racist society. Every white character comes across as insensitive at best and downright evil at worst. Redlining agencies force the family into their situation, neighbors vandalize their house, and, in a flashback, a religious community outright blinds and lynches a black couple. The times before the 1964 Civil Rights Act were hardly progressive for race relations, but this series treats white people like vicious monsters.

And vicious is the right word to describe this series. The show is gruesome when it comes to its racial violence, requiring explicit warnings depending on the episode. The pilot alone features a dog with a broken neck, and it only gets worse from there. Along with the aforementioned lynching, there’s a bloody beating involving two white men and Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas) and a horrifying murder of an infant boy in the middle of a gang rape. The latter was so shocking that even the Los Angeles Times wonders if the series “goes too far.” When you lose some of the media in “white supremacist savagery,” you know something is wrong.

Of course, plenty of other media sites were quick to defend the series despite its violence. Collider complimented the show as “it renders whiteness monstrous in a way I’ve never seen accomplished so thoroughly.” NPR remarks that the show’s obvious thesis that “Racism is terrorism, and it’s everywhere; in our entertainment, schools, workspaces, churches, homes” is a “fair starting point for telling a story (or teaching basic history).” The New York Times caps things off with a quote from series creator Little Martin summing up the horror in just four words: “Welcome to being Black.” “Being Black” is apparently a bigger horror than facing vaguely evil demons. And leftists wonder why we don’t take them seriously.

Them has already been renewed for a second season, likely to involve an entirely different cast, so we can likely mark 2022 as another year for racialized TV. Hopefully it could use a little less blood.

Read more: newsbusters.org

‘Dear God, Help Me To Hate White People’: Target Sells Racist ‘Devotional’

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Be careful what you wish for. And be really careful of what racists pray for.

“Dear God, Please help me to hate White people. Or at least to want to hate them” is the anguished supplication offered to the Almighty in an entry of a recently published devotional.

On April 3, a woman picked up this prayer book while she was shopping at Target. The devotional book, titled “A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal” is actually number 1 on Amazon’s Christian Meditation Worship & Devotion section and a New York Times bestseller.

Within its pages, the shopper came across the impassioned “Prayer of a Weary Black Woman” authored by Chanequa Walker-Barnes in which “[a] clinical psychologist, womanist theologian, and ecumenical minister whose work focuses upon healing the legacy of racial and gender oppressions.” In case you were wondering what a “womanist theologian” is, it is a “methodological approach to theology which centers the experience and perspectives of Black women, particularly African-American women.”   

And if you were curious as to the pious words of this distinguished theologian, simply put-they are bad. Really bad.

Walker-Barnes began: “Dear God, Please help me to hate White people. Or at least to want to hate them. At least, I want to stop caring about them, individually and collectively. I want to stop caring about their misguided, racist souls, to stop believing that they can be better, that they can stop being racist.” Um, that’s racist. 

This tortured soul declares all white people as inherently racist and incapable of character development or morality. She specified her need for Divine assistance in a more proper hate for the “nice” White people, mind you, not the “White anarchist allies who have taken up this struggle against racism their whole lives.” Is Walker-Barnes giving a nod to ANTIFA with these words?

Pay heed. She was certainly not referring to the entire white race, but rather a very specific demographic, namely the “Fox News-loving, Trump supporting voters ‘who don’t see color’ but who make thinly veiled racist comments about ‘those people.’ “The people who are happy to have me over for dinner but alert the neighborhood watch anytime an unrecognized person of color passes their house.” According to Walker-Barnes, most White Americans are both irredeemable and existential threats to the black race. No wonder Target is selling this delightful book!

Walker-Barnes elucidated her pesky good-heartedness as she called on the Lord to harden her heart. She unfortunately cannot stop herself from seeing the good in her white peers even though they are dangerous racists by their very nature. “Stop me from being hopeful that White people can do and be better. Let me imagine them instead as white-hooded robes standing front of burning crosses. Let me see them as hopelessly unrepentant, reprobate bigots who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and who need to be handed over to the evil one.”

Bless her. 

On Saturday, one of the members of my church sent me these images of a “devotional” she found in Target. This kind of thinking is a direct result of CRT and is completely anti-biblical. I shared the first page on Saturday but let me now share the whole thing for context: pic.twitter.com/oiRxHQXY53
— Ryan McAllister ن (@RyanTMcAllister) April 5, 2021

The full text can be viewed on the original Twitter post by Ryan McAllister, a lead pastor at Life Community Church in Alexandra, Virginia. There he denounced the “devotional,” calling it “a direct result of CRT” (critical race theory), and “completely anti-biblical.” A very rational response, one that has been met with a horrific number of angry ‘self-hating’ liberals. One such imbecile (who is white by the way) responded to the post with, “I encourage you to spend a little time in the imprecatory Psalms, because this prayer is actually deeply Biblical and full of improbable and unearned grace toward White people. Also I recommend reading her book I Bring the Voices of My People.”

Another said, “Pastor, I noticed you’re going offline. Did you know the editor and author of the lamenting prayer are getting threats to their lives and vile responses from “Christians”? I hope you’re just as disgusted by what your words have done as you were about this prayer.” The number of responses of this sort is great and should cause one to consider just how widespread this false, poisonous worldview has infiltrated the populace.

Walker-Barnes’ tedious, racist soliloquy was inexcusable. This entry should stay in the diary of a mad black woman. Not target shelves.

Read more: newsbusters.org

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday, emphatically rejecting the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Illinois.

Using easy-to-understand language to explain medical concepts and even loosening his necktie to make a point, Tobin told the jury that Floyd’s breathing was severely constricted while Chauvin and two other officers held the 46-year-old Black man down on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the ground.

The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness said.

Tobin, analyzing a graphic presentation of the three officers restraining Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin’s knee was “virtually on the neck” for more than 90% of the time.

He cited several other factors that he said also made it difficult for Floyd to breathe: officers lifting up on the suspect’s handcuffs, the hard surface of the street, his prone position, his turned head and a knee on his back.

Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes, 2 seconds, after Floyd had “reached the point where there was not one ounce of oxygen left in the body,” Tobin said.

As prosecutors repeatedly played a video clip of Floyd on the ground, Tobin pinpointed what he saw as a change in the man’s face that told him Floyd was dead. That moment happened around five minutes after Floyd was first pinned down.

“At the beginning you can see he’s conscious, you can see slight flickering, and then it disappears,” Tobin said. He explained: “That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.”

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death May 25. Floyd was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

Bystander video of Floyd crying that he couldn’t breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that the now-fired white officer did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s death was caused by illegal drugs and underlying medical problems that included high blood pressure and heart disease. An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his body.

But Tobin said he analyzed Floyd’s respiration as seen on body-camera video and explained that while fentanyl typically cuts the rate of respiration by 40 percent, Floyd’s breathing was “right around normal” just before he lost consciousness. Similarly, he said people with severe heart disease have very high respiratory rates.

Tobin also said the high blood level of carbon dioxide measured in the hospital emergency room can be explained by the fact that Floyd was not breathing for nearly 10 minutes before paramedics began artificial respiration, as opposed to his breathing being suppressed by fentanyl.

The doctor explained that just because Floyd was talking and shown moving on video, it doesn’t mean he was breathing adequately. He said a leg movement seen in the video was involuntary. And he said a person can continue to speak until the airway narrows to 15%, after which “you are in deep trouble.”

Officers can be heard on video telling Floyd that if he can talk, he can breathe.

On cross-examination, Nelson pressed Tobin on that common misconception, pointing to earlier testimony that Minneapolis officers are trained that if people can speak, they can breathe.

Nelson also suggested to Tobin that fentanyl in street drugs could affect people differently than legally obtained fentanyl. He asked, too, about methamphetamine, noting that there are few reasons for which it is legally prescribed. Tobin agreed that it would increase heart rate but said it would not affect respiratory rate.

Tobin used simple language, with terms like “pump handle” and “bucket handle” to describe the act of breathing for the jury. He explained that when the airway narrows, breathing becomes “enormously more difficult” — like “breathing through a drinking straw.”

At one point, the doctor loosened his tie and placed his hands on his own neck and the back of his head to demonstrate how the airway works, inviting the jurors to examine their own necks. Most of them did so, though the judge later told them they didn’t have to.

The expert calculated that at times when Chauvin was in a near-vertical position, with his toes off the ground, half of Chauvin’s body weight with his gear included — or 91.5 pounds — was directly on Floyd’s neck.

He said it appeared that Floyd was getting enough oxygen to keep his brain alive for about the first five minutes because he was still speaking. Tobin said that where Chauvin had his knee after the five-minute mark was not that important, because at that point Floyd had already experienced brain damage.

Chauvin’s attorney has repeatedly shown the jury still images from the video that he said showed Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blade. But nearly all of those images were captured after the five-minute mark, according to the time stamps.

Read more: politico.com

Iranian ship said to be Red Sea troop base attacked

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — An Iranian ship believed to be a base for the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and anchored for years in the Red Sea off Yemen has been attacked, Tehran acknowledged Wednesday.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack on the MV Saviz, suspected to have been carried out by Israel — though Tehran did not immediately blame its regional archenemy. The assault came as Iran and world powers sat down in Vienna for the first talks about the U.S. potentially rejoining the tattered deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program, showing events outside the negotiations could derail those efforts.

The ship’s long presence in the region, repeatedly criticized by Saudi Arabia, has come as the West and U.N. experts say Iran has provided arms and support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels in that country’s yearslong war. Iran denies arming the Houthis, though components found in the rebels’ weaponry link back to Tehran.

Iran previously described the Saviz as aiding in “anti-piracy” efforts in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb strait, a crucial chokepoint in international shipping. A statement attributed to Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh described the ship as a commercial vessel.

“Fortunately, no casualties were reported … and technical investigations are underway,” Khatibzadeh said. “Our country will take all necessary measures through international authorities.”

In an earlier state TV statement, an anchor cited a New York Times story, which quoted an anonymous U.S. official telling the newspaper that Israel informed America it carried out an attack Tuesday morning on the vessel. Israeli officials declined to comment about the assault when reached by The Associated Press, as did Saviz’s owner.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, while refusing to say if his country launched the attack, described Iran and its regional allies as a major threat.

“Israel must continue to defend itself,” Gantz told journalists. “Any place we find an operational challenge and necessity, we will continue to act.”

Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency, believed to be close to the Guard, reported that a limpet mine planted on Saviz’s hull caused the blast. A limpet mine is a type of naval mine that is attached to the side of a ship, usually by a diver. It later explodes, and can significantly damage a vessel. Iran did not blame anyone for the attack and said Iranian officials likely would offer more information in the coming days.

In a statement, the U.S. military’s Central Command only said it was aware of media reports of an incident involving the Saviz and that U.S. forces were not involved.

At the United Nations, spokesman Stephane Dujarric expressed concern over the Saviz incident and urged “concerned parties, including countries in the region, to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from taking any escalatory actions and, in particular, to respect their obligations under international law.”

Also Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the Vienna talks a “success” while speaking to his Cabinet.

“Today, one united statement is being heard that all sides of the nuclear deal have concluded that there is no better solution than the deal,” he said.

A European diplomat with knowledge of the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity to frankly discuss the closed-door meeting in Vienna, acknowledged outside events could affect the negotiations.

“We hope that every action, whether it comes from (nuclear deal) parties or external parties, won’t undermine the dynamic,” he said.

Read more: politico.com

Prisons chief set to face congressional grilling

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The director of the Bureau of Prisons — Michael Carvajal, appointed to that post by former Attorney General William Barr — is set on April 15 to face a grilling from senators. Aides confirmed to POLITICO that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will question him as part of their first comprehensive oversight hearing of the Bureau of Prisons since 2019.

Two major issues will be top-of-mind for the questioners: how BOP has handled the coronavirus pandemic and how it’s implemented a new federal law designed to help prisoners successfully reenter society after finishing their sentences. On both counts, the bureau has drawn bipartisan criticism. A spokesperson with the bureau has declined to comment.

In March, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — now the committee chair — joined with Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) to urge Carvajal to use the First Step Act to fight the spread of Covid-19 by moving the most vulnerable inmates out of U.S. prisons if possible.

In the year since, committee members have been frustrated with BOP’s limited efforts to move vulnerable people from prisons to home confinement. BOP’s website says 230 inmates and four BOP staff have died of Covid-19, including four inmates on home confinement. Members of both parties share concerns about prison conditions — one of the few issues that brings together bipartisan agreement on the Senate Judiciary Committee. But there isn’t a total consensus on the panel regarding the topic. Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Repubilcan and member of the committee, recently raised eyebrows for saying the U.S. doesn’t incarcerate enough people.

The BOP director will also have to field questions about implementation of the First Step Act, legislation championed by Durbin and Grassley, signed by then-President Donald Trump, and designed to reduce recidivism. Committee members are frustrated that the bureau hasn’t done more to expand prisoners’ access to programming to help them prepare for life after release.

Read more: politico.com

Joe Biden is not planning to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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It’s the ultimate prize in diplomacy, and almost every modern president has sought it despite the long, treacherous odds: a resolution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Joe Biden, though, isn’t all that interested.

Unlike Barack Obama and Donald Trump, Biden hasn’t named a special envoy to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio. Unlike Bill Clinton, Biden has no plans for any sort of peace conference, or even a peace process, anytime soon. Biden’s closest antecedent may be George W. Bush, who initially resisted engaging with the issue — but eventually found he couldn’t ignore it.

Aside from taking a few small steps to reorient the U.S. position away from the heavily pro-Israel tilt it took under Trump — including restoring some modest aid to the Palestinians — Biden and his team are signaling that the conflict is simply not a priority.

Given that the Israelis are sorting through the results of a messy election, the Palestinians have an election coming up, and Biden is tackling challenges such as an increasingly acrimonious relationship with China, officials and analysts who watch the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can understand the reluctance to wade into it now.

Still, some warn that by de-prioritizing the issue or moving too slowly, Biden could be putting a two-state solution out of reach, especially if Israel keeps expanding its settlements in territory claimed by the Palestinians.

“The Biden administration is not setting itself up to be the midwife of a Palestinian state,” said Khaled Elgindy, director of the Program on Palestine and Palestinian-Israeli Affairs at the Middle East Institute. “They’re just not pursuing this with any degree of priority or urgency, and that would be required if you’re going to push for a Palestinian state.”

Top Biden aides have said they can’t pursue a peace deal when neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis appear ready for serious conversations.

“The only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state and to give the Palestinians a state to which they are entitled is through the so-called two-state solution,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during his confirmation hearing in January. He added, however: “I think realistically it’s hard to see near-term prospects for moving forward on that.”

A terrain made tougher by Trump

If any president could manage a Mideast peace breakthrough, you’d think it’d be Biden.

Having served decades in the Senate, then as Obama’s vice president, Biden is better versed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than most of his modern predecessors.

Biden also has relationships with key figures in the conflict, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. That relationship has survived serious strains, including Netanyahu’s attempts to undermine Obama’s Iran policy, his support for Israeli settlements and his public fawning over Trump. Biden took his time before talking to Netanyahu once he became president, and Biden’s supporters have said the Israeli leader has some “atoning to do.” Yet, Biden also has said in the past that he once told Netanyahu, using his nickname, “Bibi, I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.”

Still, thanks to Netanyahu and Trump’s machinations, the Biden administration already is having some difficulty finding its footing on the always-sensitive issue.

Last week, for instance, State Department officials struggled to answer questions about whether America still believes the West Bank is occupied by Israel.

The questions came after the release of the department’s annual Human Rights Report. Under Trump, that report’s references to the occupation were cut; Biden aides brought back the reference, but primarily in what were historical statements or statements attributable to entities other than the United States. The Biden administration also did not revert to the pre-Trump title of the Israeli-Palestinian section: “Israel and the Occupied Territories.” Instead, it stuck with “Israel, West Bank and Gaza.”

On Thursday, after being repeatedly pressed by journalists, State Department spokesperson Ned Price clarified the administration’s position: “Do we think that the West Bank is occupied? Yes.”

Amid that kerfuffle, at least two Palestinian business leaders stopped by Washington to meet with U.S. officials, people familiar with the matter confirmed to POLITICO. Whom they were able to meet and the details of the informal discussions were unclear, but the visit was an attempt to find ways to fully re-establish a U.S.-Palestinian connection that was largely severed under Trump.

The Palestinians’ official leadership decided to stop talking to the Trump team after December 2017, when he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. Both of those moves were huge policy shifts for the United States.

Biden and his aides, however, have sent mixed signals about their interest in re-establishing the connection with the Palestinians.

Lower-level Biden administration officials are now in regular touch with Palestinian counterparts. But Biden has not yet spoken to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, even though he has spoken to Netanyahu. According to media reports, Abbas rejected an earlier offer of a call from Blinken, saying he wanted to hear from the U.S. president directly.

Officials with the Palestinian Authority did not offer comment or could not be reached. The Israeli Embassy would not offer comment.

A lack of movement, and will

Other Biden moves, or lack thereof, have frustrated Palestinians, according to former officials and analysts with links to the region.

Biden has decided not to reverse Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the U.S. Embassy will not be moved back to Tel Aviv. This was not a surprise to the Palestinians and their supporters.

They’d hoped, however, to see Biden already re-open the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which Trump shut down. That office served as a key U.S. diplomatic conduit for the Palestinians, who do not want to use the U.S. embassy, which traditionally dealt with Israel.

While the Biden administration has indicated it wants to re-open the consulate, it’s not clear when it will. It hasn’t even made a symbolic move in that direction, like putting up a sign once again labeling the building the consulate general.

Also unclear is when the U.S. will allow for the reopening of the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission in Washington. Trump closed that office, citing the Palestinians’ refusal to engage in peace talks with Israel and their push to have the International Criminal Court investigate alleged Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians.

Re-opening that office is legally complicated. Legislation signed by Trump prevents the Palestinians from opening an office in the U.S. unless they pay hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties levied through U.S. courts over past attacks whose victims included Americans.

A former U.S. diplomat familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said that the longer the Biden administration waits to make any move, the more time it gives its opponents to rally public opinion against it. Already, some commentators are accusing Biden of “coddling” the Palestinians.

“These things have their own momentum,” the former U.S. diplomat said. The Biden team is “trying to go in a little bit, and they’re paying a high price already … they make it harder by not just owning this and saying what they stand for and doing it.”

A thin Biden bench

In contrast, Trump and his aides made it clear they were happy to ignore diplomatic conventions and even longstanding international legal consensus when it came to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for instance, declared that the U.S. no longer saw Israeli settlements in the West Bank as violating international law. The Biden administration has yet to rescind that decision. And it hasn’t reversed the Trump administration’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, area claimed by Syria.

The former administration, led by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, also unveiled a peace proposal for the region so heavily weighted in favor of Israel that the Palestinians immediately rejected it. There’s no sign the Biden administration is interested in pursuing the road map laid out by Kushner and his team.

But the Trump administration did help orchestrate one breakthrough that some Mideast hands say could help salvage the two-state ideal: agreements between Israel and some Arab states to normalize their diplomatic relations. The so-called Abraham Accords could be expanded to cover other Arab countries currently at odds with Israel, said Dennis Ross, a longtime Mideast peace negotiator who has worked for multiple administrations.

Some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia, could offer to normalize their relations with Israel in exchange for steps that help the Palestinians, Ross said. At the very least, he said, “there is something to work with.”

A senior State Department official said the Biden administration is “100 percent” dedicated to building on the accords. “We are working continuously to build on the existing normalization agreements and look for opportunities to develop new ones,” the official said.

That’s the sort of work that requires significant diplomatic firepower. So far, however, Biden hasn’t devoted much staffing to the Israel-Palestinian aspect of it — what some analysts and former officials say is the biggest sign yet of how low a priority it is.

The key U.S. official dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue is Hady Amr, a deputy assistant secretary of State. Although he’s well-regarded, his authority is limited. Biden has not named an assistant secretary of State for the Middle East yet, and the top Middle East-focused officials at the National Security Council, Brett McGurk and Barbara Leaf, are seen more as experts on Gulf Arab issues rather than the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

There’s no talk of Biden naming a special envoy for the conflict. By contrast, the administration quickly named special envoys to deal with the conflict in Yemen and nuclear talks with Iran. It’s even considering naming a special envoy for the Horn of Africa.

Amr’s team produced a memo, obtained by the news organization The National, that laid out moves toward a “reset” of the U.S. relationship with the Palestinians. According to The National, the ideas floated include “reopening a U.S. mission in the Palestinian territories,” but that option is still being examined.

One of the memo’s ideas has become a reality: The U.S. announced it was resuming some financial assistance to the Palestinians, nearly all of which Trump had cut off. At least $15 million of a reported $100 million to be released so far will help Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Election uncertainties

Former officials and analysts said the memo, as described by The National, appears to lay out a reasonable approach to return to something close to the pre-Trump U.S.-Palestinian relationship. But while it pays homage to a two-state solution, it doesn’t break new ground on ways to achieve that.

The Biden administration has urged Israelis and Palestinians to avoid moves that threaten the possibility of a two-state solution. But such U.S. warnings are often ignored. Israel once announced plans for new settlement construction as Biden was visiting in 2010, infuriating the then-vice president. Just days before Biden took office as president, Israel announced it was advancing plans to build hundreds of new settler homes in the West Bank.

A State Department readout of a call last week between Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi did not mention the two-state solution, even though Blinken has said the Biden administration is committed to it. The readout said, however, that Blinken “emphasized the administration’s belief that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy.”

Scholars of the conflict found that language intriguing, saying it could be a recognition of the shrinking physical and legal space Palestinians feel they have to operate. A growing number of Palestinians, many of them young, say Israel has obtained so much control over their land and their lives that it’s time to abandon the two-state ideal in favor of a one-state solution in which Palestinians have the same rights as Israelis.

Israeli and Palestinian politics are further staying America’s hand.

Israel just held its fourth election in two years, and there’s already talk of a fifth. Netanyahu’s Likud Party won the largest number of seats. It is now in coalition talks, with the results not at all certain. Netanyahu also faces corruption allegations that have clouded his political future.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are about to hold their first elections in 15 years — parliamentary ones in May and a presidential one in July. Abbas, counting on a win, may be holding the elections to show Biden he remains the legitimate leader of his people. But it’s risky. Already, there are divisions within Abbas’ Fatah faction. There’s also always the possibility of a strong showing by politicians affiliated with Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

The United States has labeled Hamas as a terrorist organization. If Hamas ends up with a meaningful role in the Palestinian leadership, that could make it harder for the United States to engage with the Palestinians.

Among the people closely watching Biden’s Mideast moves are former top aides to Trump. Some of them argue that until the Palestinians enact serious reforms, Biden should not give an inch to their side.

Those reforms should include stopping payments to Palestinians who are imprisoned by Israelis — what critics call “pay-to-slay,” said Jason Greenblatt, who served as a special envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian issue during the Trump years.

Greenblatt added that the U.S. also should stand up for Israel against bodies like the International Criminal Court and the U.N. Human Rights Council. He also said he was concerned about reports of resumed U.S. aid to the Palestinians and would oppose any direct funding to Palestinian government bodies.

Overall, though, Greenblatt said he’s pleased Biden isn’t simply throwing away everything the previous administration put together.

“I appreciate the slow nature of the new administration’s decision-making process, and I hope that they don’t sway from the approach that we took,” Greenblatt said.

Read more: politico.com

Biden wants to cement a governing majority. His Build Back Better bill is his plan to do it.

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President Joe Biden’s sprawling infrastructure plan doesn’t just attempt to turn decades-old progressive policy pursuits into law. Aides and operatives inside and out of the White House are coming to view it as an ambitious political play to cement, and even expand, the coalition of voters that delivered Democrats to power in November.

Biden’s advisers contend the pandemic has laid bare the need for spending hundreds of billions of dollars on a long list of “care economy” priorities that, like roads and bridges, have been neglected for too long, exacerbating inequality. And so, in addition to pursuing a more traditional infrastructure package, the White House is eyeing a second component that will include historic investments in everything from paid leave to community college.

It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to remake the structure of the American workforce and potentially firm up an electoral realignment that was hastened during the Trump years. And, to the administration’s delight, polling shows that voters — suburban dwellers and women in particular — are embracing not just those individual components of the bill, but the broader concept of the federal government stepping in to help with their problems.

“This is a real opportunity to redefine what our economic profile is going to be like — with an aspect of the building part and the caring part — and really could be definitional for our party for the next 50 years,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster and adviser to Biden’s 2020 campaign.

Spurred by the pandemic, Lake said, the belief in government as a solution “is here to stay for a while, and I think at least through 2022. But the other question for progressives and Democrats is how we solidify this as a permanent view of what the role of government is rather than just [intervening] during a crisis.”

Bidenworld’s bet that voters, particularly those who drifted to the party during the last four years, will reward government intervention is diametrically at odds with the strategies previous Democratic presidents adopted early in their administrations. But Biden’s advisers insist that Americans are in no mood to reward politicians for blocking actions that, among other things, help the millions of women who have been driven from the workplace as schools shut their doors to in-person learning.

And for Biden, whose first major legislative push was a $1.9 trillion Covid-relief package, the assumption is that his party and the majority of the country will rally behind a plan that both fuels the economy and restructures it for working families. The second component of Biden’s infrastructure package will likely invest more in child care, extend the new expanded child tax credit and make community college tuition free. The administration is also expected to include provisions on universal preschool and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies in its still unveiled next legislative push.

“Ever since Reagan, the concept of ‘let’s shrink government’ has been a fairly popular one among some people,” said Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) a swing-state member who has focused extensively on care issues. “And yet, the truth of the matter is that what we discovered with a global health emergency is that you actually do need government for some things, and that a lot can be accomplished — not just on the health side of it, but also the recovery piece of it.”

“I think that that has enlarged people’s way of thinking about government and what the proper role of government should be,” Wild added.

Republicans aren’t willing to concede that the era of big government has reemerged. The party is already trying to target the cost of Biden’s plans while arguing that huge chunks of the new administration’s proposals don’t fall under the traditional infrastructure umbrella.

Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said this week that Democrats are trying to fund a “radical-left socialist agenda.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell broadly dismissed the infrastructure bill as “another round of massive spending with a huge tax increase.”

And former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie snickered about the vast federal outlays on child and elder care. “Now the ‘care economy’ is infrastructure,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The care economy. I don’t even know what the hell the care economy is.”

White House officials and their Democratic allies in Congress are pushing back, seeking to frame a debate they anticipate will play a major role in the midterms, and one that could complicate Republican efforts to bring traditionally GOP voters back into the fold in 2024.

“If they want to pick a fight about whether these things that are foundational to families’ ability to put food on the table and do their jobs are infrastructure or not, that is a fight we welcome,” said Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) said that Biden will have to “hold the line” on spending given the many desires within his party. But he acknowledged that the plan’s tax hikes, which were included as pay-for provisions for the initial piece, do represent a risk.

“The only part that’s dangerous is if Republicans get ahead of Democrats in the messaging, they can portray that as a tax increase,” Cleaver said, suggesting Democrats must be ready to retort that the taxes in the infrastructure package don’t apply to the majority of Americans.

“It doesn’t impact the everyday people, but the danger of course, is people saying, ‘the president’s raising your taxes,’” Cleaver said. “Well, most people won’t understand that when they say raising your taxes, they’re only talking to a handful of people who earn more money than 200 million Americans together. The Republicans have been masterful in that kinda messaging.”

The battleground where much of this will play out is likely to be the suburbs. Biden’s 2020 campaign targeted the diversifying communities and the souring of Republicans and independents there with former President Donald Trump. And in turn, suburban voters were decisive in several key states, including Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. In the Peach State, some of the same voting blocs helped Democrats pull off surprise Senate runoff victories weeks after Biden’s own.

House Democrats have begun setting their sights on an initial slate of nearly two dozen GOP-held districts, whose representatives voted against Biden’s Rescue Plan and its direct payments to Americans.

While their focus in the upcoming legislation is on taxes, the vulnerability for Republicans is that the specific policies embedded in Biden’s care economy plan remain as popular as they are today and become defining achievements for Democrats. A Politico/Morning Consult survey taken through March 29 found strong majority support among suburban voters for extending the child tax credit (60 percent); free community college (58 percent); universal pre-k (57 percent) and extending Obamacare subsidies (57 percent).

Across more than five dozen competitive congressional districts, a recent Hart Research poll commissioned by paid-leave advocates made up of labor, civil rights and other groups found that 67 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats favor legislation to give workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave if they have a serious health condition, are caring for a family member, or are having a child. Support is fairly consistent across regions and districts.

House Democrats this week vowed to include paid family and medical leave for every worker in the infrastructure package and the advocates are calling on Biden to specifically back a national program that provides 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to workers through direct payments, which, they believe, could pass through budget reconciliation.

As the White House did with its nearly $2 trillion Covid-relief plan, they are already drawing a contrast between local Republicans’ embrace of paid-leave programs and the opposition of national Republicans in Washington.

Colorado voters last fall passed a paid family and medical leave measure with support from counties that went for Trump. In Massachusetts, the paid family and medical leave program signed into law by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker began issuing benefits this year. In Washington state, Republicans played a key role in negotiating the paid family and medical leave program that went into effect last year.

“The pandemic has only underscored the deleterious effect on women’s labor force participation, on health and wellbeing and on economic security when people don’t have access to paid leave,” said Vicki Shabo, senior fellow for paid leave policy and strategy at New America’s Better Life Lab, turning to the politics of the issue.

“This is a long overdue policy that both has the capacity to touch every working family, but also really has the potential to show voters and citizens across the country that the government can create a program that works for them, that meets their kitchen table needs,” Shabo said.

Higher education advocates are offering similar pitches for free college, pointing to tight congressional districts where youth turnout surged in recent elections and reminding Biden that he outperformed the last Democratic nominee among voters 18 to 29 years old. And advocates for bolstering elder care, like Rep. Wild, want to build up the support network of home care workers so families without needed resources or access to assisted-living facilities aren’t forced to fend for themselves.

Republicans who oppose the package will pay a political price, Wild predicts. Ultimately, however, she thinks their fear of joining Biden is greater than any risk of standing against him.

“Unfortunately, I suspect that the GOP recognizes how essential it is, but they don’t want to go through with it because it looks like a win for Democrats,” she said. “Which gets to the heart of what I always say is wrong with Washington: Neither side ever wants to hand the other side a ‘win.’ So, let’s all get together behind it, and call it a joint win.”

With reporting by Laura Baron Lopez and Natasha Korecki

Read more: politico.com

This Is Leftism: 13-Year-Old Lesbian, ‘Non-Binary’ Girls Kiss on NBC Drama

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On Tuesday, NBC’s This Is Us showed two 13-year-old girls, played by 15-year-old actors, kissing on a bed as a mother walks in on them.

This Is Us has been pushing the “L” part of the LGBT agenda for a number of years now, with the prepubescent character Tess (Eris Baker) “coming out” privately to her family at age 10 and publicly in a drive-thru at age 11.

Now Tess is 13. In this week’s episode, “Both Things Can Be True,” on April 6, she kissed a supposedly gender non-specific paramour named “Alex” (Presley Alexander). In reality, Alex is a girl who sort of looks like a boy, and requires everyone to use the pronoun “they.” (Presley Alexander came out on her YouTube channel as a non-binary lesbian when she was 11-years-old.)

When Tess’ mom, Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), was preparing for Alex to come over, her husband Randall (Sterling K. Brown) asked about practicing Alex’s gender pronouns. Beth’s mother, Carol (Phylicia Rashad), interrupted the conversation to let them both know she herself was very woke in her pronoun knowledge.

Randall: You’re practicing Alex’s gender pronouns right now, aren’t you?

Beth: Hell yeah. You know Tess is mean when you get those wrong. 

Randall: I do.

Carol: Ooh, you could always call on me for backup. My non-binary pronoun use is impeccable.

Before Alex arrived Beth asked her mother for more gender non-conforming advice.

Beth: Mom, do you know the difference between gender and bi-gender? 

Carol: Bethany, Alex is a teenager, not the gender police. Relax. And yes, I do.  I’m a woman of the times.

When Alex arrived, the girls went straight to Tess’ bedroom and closed the door. When Beth knocked on the door later and opened it, she found Alex and Tess kissing.

Tess (gasps): Mom! What are you doing? I can’t believe you just barged in here like that. 

Beth: I didn’t barge in. I knocked. And I would like for the two of you to please relocate to the couch downstairs, okay?

The actors who play Tess and Alex are both 15-years-old. There is no bottom to which the current radical LGBT movement will not sink, pushing gender identity ideology at younger and younger ages. Now even network television actors who are minors are being used in kissing scenes to push the agenda.

The LGBT agenda is a speeding train. It will not stop until it fully reaches its end goal of normalizing the sexual confusion of minors and pushing them at younger and younger ages to “express” themselves.

Read more: newsbusters.org

Doocy’s Day: Biden, Psaki Answer Questions on the Border, China, Georgia’s Voting Law

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Marking another day in the White House Briefing Room rotation, Fox News’s Peter Doocy had quite a Tuesday as he was able to both question Press Secretary Jen Psaki on the federal government’s border crisis and their voting disinformation campaign and President Joe Biden on China’s culpability in the coronavirus pandemic and Georgia’s voting law.

Doocy experienced a once-in-a-blue-moon moment when Biden acknowledged him after a speech about the coronavirus, so Doocy asked him about this week’s golf major in August, Georgia: “Mr. President, do you think The Master’s golf tournament should be moved out of Georgia?”

 

 

With such an open-ended question, Doocy got Biden to further the liberal media’s Big Lie and express approval of how “for-profit operations and businesses are speaking up” and following his wishes in denouncing “these new Jim Crow laws” since they’re “antithetical to who we are.”

Despite the thumbs on the scale, Biden conceded that the campaign (which he supported) to move the MLB All-Star Game from Atlanta will hurt working people the most.

Doocy later closed out the impromptu media Q&A with a question about China: 

DOOCY: Just one more on COVID, Mr. President. You mentioned 564,000 Americans dead from COVID-19. A lot of families want to know how this happened. How it got here. Have you had a chance to speak to any of your international partners? Any of — President Xi, who I know you go way back with. Have you had a chance to ask him if these reports are true that China maybe mislead world at the beginning? 

BIDEN: No, I have not had that conservation with President Xi. 

A few hours earlier, Doocy was the second reporter called on during the briefing and began with immigration. He used his first two questions to press Psaki on the dangerous reality that terrorists could take advantage of our porous southern border and the other on the administration resuming construction of former President Trump’s border wall.

In response, Psaki downplayed both the security concern and the irony that the current White House might restart construction of something they were virulently against during the campaign (click “expand”): 

DOOCY: The FBI keeps a watch list of information about people who are known or reasonably suspected of being involved in terror activities. Two people on it from Yemen have been apprehended at the border. How concerned is President Biden about terrorists possibly trying to take advantage of gaps in the border to get in and kill Americans?

PSAKI: Well first, let me convey that these type of incidents are very uncommon and CBP and DHS can speak more to the timeline and the specifics, of course, in these particular cases and encounters. But encounters of known and suspected terrorists are very uncommon. They do underscore the importance of the critical work that is done on a daily basis to vet those at the border. DHS works not just at the border, as you know, but also with international partners to share intelligence and other information, including to prevent individuals on certain watch lists from entering the United States. They adjudicate individuals encountered at and between ports of entry against several classified and unclassified databases, so while this is rare, this is a reflection of them doing their jobs.

DOOCY: Another quick one about the border. The DHS secretary is reportedly looking to finish some gaps in the southern border. How does that fit with President Biden’s day one executive order to stop border wall construction?

PSAKI: Well, while construction remains paused to the extent permitted by law so some has already been funded through congressional authorization and funding allocation, but as agencies develop for a plan — it’s paused while agencies are developing a plan for the President on the management of the federal funds. When the administration took office, as you referenced, funds had been diverted from congressionally appropriated military construction projects and other appropriated purposes, toward building the wall and wall construction was being challenged in multiple lawsuits. And for much of the wall, I should say, not all of it, by plaintiffs who alleged serious environmental and safety issues. Under those circumstances, federal agencies are continuing to review wall contracts and develop a plan to submit to the President soon. It is paused. There is some limited construction that has been funded and allocated for, but it is otherwise paused.

Doocy’s third question went at yet another liberal irony as MLB moved the All-Star Game to Colorado even though “voting regulations are very similar to Georgia.”

Psaki said she rejected the premise of his question, arguing that Colorado’s same-day registration and policy of sending ballot applications to every eligible voter made the state more friendly to voting.            

Of course, this ignored the fact that Colorado has fewer early voting days than Georgia and still requires identification (and yes, Daniel Dale, presenting a bill as proof of residence instead of a driver’s license is still ID). And on the sacred cow of giving food and drink to voters, Colorado forbids that if the workers are wearing supportive of a candidate, measure, or party.

She went onto add that the Georgia law wasn’t even worth considering because it was “built on a lie” about the 2020 election and insisted it was passed to make Black Georgians suffer.

Following Doocy, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell followed up on Georgia and asked whether Biden had realized his support for moving the All-Star Game would have “economic consequences to people in Georgia” and, if so, did he have “a sense of regret that perhaps he tipped the scale with his rhetoric.”

Psaki spun that Biden was merely answering a question during his ESPN interview and said that the White House isn’t calling for boycotts even though the law was built on “easily disprovable conspiracy theories.”

Note how Biden and Psaki refused to acknowledge the fact that MLB chose to move their game to an extremely white city and away from one that’s roughly half African-American.

Reuters’s Trevor Hunnicutt was more willing to play ball, inviting Psaki to lament about the supposedly poisonous nature of “disinformation” peddled by “Republicans” about everything from the need to secure elections to (false) claims about the January 6 insurrection being “led by left-wing agitators.”

Right on cue, Psaki concurred that there’s been a “prevalence of disinformation is something that is of concern to the President” due to insufficient tech censorship and “individual actors who are promoting and provoking destabilizing activities and actions through their rhetoric.”

To see notable exchanges with ABC’s Karen Travers on coronavirus restrictions and EWTN’s Owen Jensen about the Equality Act harming Catholics and rampant violence on the streets of Chicago, click “expand.”

White House press briefing
April 6, 2021
12:34 p.m. Eastern

KAREN TRAVERS: The President continues to urge Americans to be vigilant. We expect he’ll do that today in his remarks, but over the weekend, we saw Americans traveling for the holiday weekend. We saw totally packed baseball stadium in Texas yesterday. Basically, there are Americans across the country who are doing exactly what the President is telling them not to do. Is the message — are Americans not hearing this or they hearing it and ignoring it?

PSAKI: You know, I think the President recognizes that this has been a long and difficult journey for the American public. We’ve been — the country has been shut down in one form or another for more than a year now and people have missed birthday parties, weddings, baseball games, going out to restaurants. It is difficult. It is hard and what he’s asking people to do is to sacrifice a little bit longer and he will continue to make that case and make that argument. Now, while we saw the — the baseball game as you — as you noted and other events over the weekend, and we certainly anticipate as the weather gets warmer, there will be a temptation. We’ve also seen communities where local mayors, businesses have conveyed to their communities that we need to hang together. We need to remain vigilant. We need to wear masks and we will get through this together. So we are hopeful that that’s exactly what the majority of communities in this country will do.

(….)

12:55 p.m. Eastern

OWEN JENSEN: What does the President, who we know is Catholic, say it to Catholic doctors, Catholic institutions, who are fearful that if the Equality Act passes, it has the potential to trample on their conscience rights? What does the President say to those people who are concerned about that?

PSAKI: He has a difference of opinion and he respects their difference of opinion, but he has been a supporter of the Equality Act and he also is a practicing Catholic and attends church nearly every week. Go ahead, Kelly. Oh, go ahead.

JENSEN: Separate question here. Chicago saw 131 homicides through March of this year. Last year at this time 98. The White House’s reaction to that number and then is there anything the federal government is planning or willing to do to step into the city of Chicago and tamp down the deadly violence? Just recently, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed there.

PSAKI: Well, I appreciate you raising the fact that there’s a prevalence of violence, sometimes at the hands of guns, something the President has fought for throughout his career, which is ensuring that we put in place more gun safety measures. We work with communities to invest in community violence prevention. He’s actually proposed funding to do exactly that, something that many groups support, because they believe in order reduce violence, in order to address the prevalence of violence in communities like some in Chicago, that we need to spend the money from the federal government to do exactly that.

JENSEN: Can the federal government put any resources right now immediately, rather than waiting for laws and waiting for, you know, community events or what have you to take place? People are dying on the streets by the day.

PSAKI: Well, again, I appreciate you raising it because one thing we don’t talk about enough is the fact that beyond mass shootings, there are additional people who die in cities, sometimes young kids, nearly every single day as a result of violence. He has proposed funding. We would support acting on that and that’s what we’ll continue to advocate, but I think we’ve got to move on.

Read more: newsbusters.org

‘Dumb son of a bitch’: Trump rips McConnell at Mar-a-Lago

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Former President Donald Trump ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell before a Republican National Committee donor retreat Saturday evening, deriding him as a “dumb son of a bitch.”

Trump veered off his prepared during a roughly 50-minute speech before several hundred well-heeled GOP donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida, saying that he was “disappointed” in former Vice President Mike Pence, calling last year’s presidential election election a “fraud” and mocking Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The former president spent several minutes tearing into McConnell, saying that he didn’t do enough to defend him during the February impeachment trial. At one point, three people familiar with the remarks said, Trump called the Senate GOP leader a “dumb son of a bitch.”

Trump also went after McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, for resigning her cabinet post after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

A spokesperson for McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who was just reelected to a seventh six-year term last year, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The latest verbal broadside against McConnell, the most powerful Republican still in elected office, comes as Trump reemerges as a dominant force in GOP politics. The former president has, in recent days, sought to rev up his small-dollar fundraising apparatus, and he is issuing a steady stream of endorsements for the 2022 midterm elections, in addition to battles over state party chairmanships.

Though many of Trump’s 2022 endorsements align with McConnell’s preferences, including backing a number of incumbent GOP senators for reelection, he has occasionally gotten crosswise with the Senate leader. Trump has pledged to oppose GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next year’s Alaska elections after Murkowski voted for his conviction in the Senate trial, though McConnell and his top allies say they will support Murkowski’s reelection.

It isn’t the first time Trump has gone after McConnell since leaving office. In February, Trump released an extensive statement bashing McConnell for being “a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack.” The statement came just days after McConnell took to the Senate floor to flay Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Several attendees said there was little response to Trump’s insult.

Much of Trump’s Saturday night speech was aimed at relitigating the election results, on which the former president has remained fixated. At one point he said he remained disappointed with Pence for not doing more to stop the certification of the election, which he called “rigged.”

Trump’s ongoing criticism of Pence has created a rift in their relationship. While several other potential 2024 Republican hopefuls made the trek to South Florida for the event, Pence did not.

The former president also savaged Fauci, saying that he gave him bad advice. He poked fun of Fauci for botching a first pitch at last year’s opening day game for the Washington Nationals.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who spoke before Trump, also went after Fauci, sources said.

The three-day event drew a number of potential 2024 GOP contenders, including DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Also present were several 2022 midterm election candidates, including Jane Timken and Bernie Moreno, both of whom are seeking Ohio’s open Senate seat.

The confab was held mainly at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, though for the Saturday evening dinner attendees made the short jaunt north up A1A to Mar-a-Lago.

Read more: politico.com

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