Doocy’s brain teaser: The transcript

The White House has posted the transcript of new press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s briefing yesterday. I posted a video clip of Peter Doocy’s “brain teaser” of a question along with the nonanswer Jean-Pierre read in the adjacent post before the transcript was available.

The transcript lets us widen the focus to the entire exchange. The view afforded by the widened focus is even worse than the single exchange in the video. She clarified and clearly understood the question to which she purported to respond. Here is the whole thing:

Q The President’s Twitter account posted the other day, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.” How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, are you talking about a specific tweet?

Q He tweeted, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share?”

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, we have talked about — we have talked about this this past year, about making sure that the wealthiest among us are paying their fair share. And that is important to do. And that is something that, you know, the President has been, you know, working on every day when we talk about inflation and lowering costs.

And so it’s very important that, you know, as we’re seeing costs rise, as we’re talking about how to, you know — you know, build an America that is safe, that’s equal for everyone, and doesn’t leave anyone behind, that is an important part of that as well.

Q But how does raising taxes on corporations lower the cost of gas, the cost of a used car, the cost of food for everyday Americans?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, I think we encourage those who have done very well — right? — especially those who care about climate change, to support a fairer tax — tax code that doesn’t change — that doesn’t charge manufacturers’ workers, cops, builders a higher percentage of their earnings; that the most fortunate people in our nation — and not let the — that stand in the way of reducing energy costs and fighting this existential problem, if you think about that as an example, and to support basic collective bargaining rights as well. Right? That’s also important.

But look, it is — you know, by not — if — without having a fairer tax code, which is what I’m talking about, then all — every — like manufacturing workers, cops — you know, it’s not fair for them to have to pay higher taxes than the folks that — who are — who are — who are not paying taxes at all or barely have.

Q But was does that have to do with inflation? The President said, “You want to bring down inflation? Let’s make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.”

Jeff Bezos came out and tweeted about that. He said, “The newly created disinformation board should review this tweet.” Would you be okay with that?

MS. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it’s not a huge mystery why one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth — right? — opposes an economic agenda that is for the middle class, that cuts some of the biggest costs families face, fights inflation for the long haul — right? — and that’s what we’re talking about; that’s why we’re — we’re talking about lowering inflation here — and adds to the historic deficit reduction the President is achieving by asking the richest taxpayers and corporations to pay their fair share. That is what we’re talking about.

Jean-Pierre announced in her opening remarks: “I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all three of those to hold this position.” No one asked her what a woman is, so she dodged that particular brain teaser.

It’s not her fault that there she cannot answer Doocy’s brain teaser. The underlying problem is the line peddled by the White House (tweet below) and the senescent dolt trying to deflect blame for the mess he has created.

Peter Doocy poses brain teaser

Joe Biden has advocated raising corporate taxes to “bring down inflation.” Not some idiotic departmental secretary, but the superannuated dunce himself. Even Jeff Bezos isn’t buying that one. Indeed, as John noted, he’s hooting in derision.

Peter Doocy posed the brain teaser to the new press secretary today: how exactly does that work? She came prepared with a written answer that she had trouble reading. The real trouble, however, was with the answer. It proved to be a nonanswer, as you can hear yourself in the clip. When playing the blame game, you have to do better than this.

The transcript of the press briefing from which the clip is taken has not yet been posted. If there is more to be noted, we will return to it.

A word from Justice Thomas

We posted the video of Justice Thomas’s interview with John Yoo here in its entirety over the weekend. The interview was conducted Friday evening conference at a conference sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute, and the Hoover Institution in Dallas.

Now Townhall has clipped the video below from the interview. Justice Thomas’s concise comment on the performance of the press can stand alone as an eternal verity and the situation has not gotten better since the time he first uttered it.

Safe, Legal, and . . . That’s It

Bill Clinton’s political genius in 1992 was his keen sense of effective rhetorical straddles that enabled him to appeal to moderate voters who were thoroughly turned off by the doctrinaire liberalism of the 1980s-era Democrats. His “Sister Souljah” moment is legendary, as well as his tough-on-crime rhetoric and pledge to “end welfare as we know it.” (Leave for some other day that he was mostly lying about all of these positions. . .)

But don’t forget his view that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” That language appeared in the Democratic platform beyond the Clinton years, and Hillary repeated it in her 2008 White House run. It was an acknowledgment that even many pro-choice Americans regard the “choice” of abortion to be morally ambiguous, if not a tragedy.

But by 2016, the term “rare” was dropped from the Democratic platform and Hillary changed her language and dropped the term “rare,” as the secular left has made abortion a sacrament, and believe abortion should be celebrated as a positive good, like that other “peculiar institution” at the core of the Democratic Party’s enduring legacy for America.

Vox admitted as much, in a 2019 story entitled “How the abortion debate moved away from ‘safe, legal, and rare.” Vox struggles mightily to avoid admitting that anyone once could have through that abortion was morally ambiguous, but they really can’t pull it off. To wit:

Over the years, Democrats have become more sympathetic to this view. By 2016, Hillary Clinton had changed her message, saying only that abortion should be “safe and legal.” It was part of a broader shift in the party toward more full-throated support of abortion rights. During the 2016 primaries, both Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. . .

But over the years, abortion rights advocates have pushed back against the phrase. “Safe, legal, and rare” implies that getting an abortion is something that “you should be apologetic for,” reproductive justice activist Renee Bracey Sherman told Vox. “It places the blame on the person who’s had an abortion, as if they just did something wrong to need one, rather than addressing the systemic issue as to why someone might not be able to have access to consistent health care or contraception.”

Today, all the Democrats running for the 2020 presidential nomination say they support allowing federal money to pay for abortions. Even former Vice President Joe Biden, who earlier this year supported leaving Hyde in place, now calls for its repeal.

Then there’s the tidbit that Planned Parenthood ousted their president, Leana Wen, for being insufficiently celebratory of abortion as a positive good:

Former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen [argued that] “we should reduce the need for abortions by investing in prevention.”

Wen broke with other abortion rights advocates some time ago. When she was removed as Planned Parenthood’s president in July, she said in a statement that, “I believe that the best way to protect abortion care is to be clear that it is not a political issue but a health care one.” Some said the group ousted her because it was looking for “a more aggressive political leader” on abortion rights, while others said she had management issues.

Just try running as a Democrat and see what happens if you use Clinton’s phrase. It won’t be pro-lifers who come after you with pitchforks.

Signs and omens

We greatly enjoyed the news regarding the rollout of the new biography of (Don’t Forget to Call Her Doctor) Jill Biden’s biography by AP reporters Julie Pace and Darlene Superville. What was the news? The sales were dismal. We filed the news under “Signs and omens.”

I feel obligated to update that post with Bloomberg’s report that Kamala Harris collected some $450,000 in book royalties during her first year in office. Harris reported roughly $325,000 in royalties for The Truths We Hold: An American Journey — and the big bucks should reflect sales rather than an advance. The truths Harris held were set forth in 2019, for her disastrous presidential run. The royalties are reported in Harris’s annual financial disclosure covering 2021.

As I recall, one of the truths Harris held during her presidential campaign was that Joe Biden’s racism in office as a United States Senator made her cry when she was a child. The guy is that old.

With a little help from her friends, Harris also concocted a 2019 children’s book out of her life. She picked up $130,000 for Superheroes Are Everywhere. Whereas Superheroes was aimed at the children’s market, The Truths We Hold was aimed at credulous adults, such as Carlos Lozada, who reviewed it for the Washington Post. By contrast with the success of her unabridged book for credulous adults, the abridged young reader’s edition of The Truths We Hold is reported to have generated less than $201 in royalties.

Harris’s reported royalties left President Biden’s in the dust. Biden reported between $15,001 and $50,000 in royalties for Promise Me, Dad, his 2018 memoir about his late son Beau. Biden reported no royalties on his 2007 campaign memoir Promises To Keep.

The White House has posted the current 2022 disclosure forms for calendar year 2021 online here (Biden) and here (Harris).

CRB: Present at the creation

The new (Spring) issue of the Claremont Review of Books has just been posted online this morning. I asked the editors if they would make their interview with the great Norman Podhoretz accessible for our readers. Here it is: “Present at the creation.” Subhead: “Norman Podhoretz on the rise of the anti-American left.” The interview opens with a reference to the 2019 CRB interview of Mr. Podhoretz by CRB editor Charles Kesler, but without a link. The 2019 interview is accessible here.

We have Professor Kesler’s editorial on “The Supreme Court leak” rotating through our Picks today. Our plan is to post Daniel Oliver’s review of a certain new book by Steven Hayward in our Picks tomorrow, to be followed by additional Picks from the issue at the rate of one a day for the rest of the week and then on Tuesdays and Thursdays for another few weeks. If you enjoy the CRB as I do, keep an eye out for them in our Picks or leap directly into a subscription including immediate online access here.

Ultra MAGA: The rejected slurs

I have been wondering about the marketing genius behind Joe Biden’s slurs of “Ultra MAGA Republicans” and the “Ultra MAGA agenda” along with the slur of Donald Trump himself as “MAGA King.” I have accordingly dug out the choices presented to the focus groups “helmed” by Anita Dunn, the Krupskaya of a leftist DC power couple of many talents.

In its story on the origins of “Ultra MAGA Republicans,” the Washington Post used the word “helmed” to describe Krupskaya’s role in the project. I thought that “helmed” was a usage reserved exclusively to Variety for show business coverage, but now everything is show business. Politics is famously described as show business for ugly people.

This weekend I tracked down knowledgeable sources who cannot be identified because of the “sensitivity” of the work. Or was that “stupidity”? I can’t read my own notes.

In any event, my sources have confided that the focus groups were presented with the following slurs that might be heaped on the GOP to blacken them in the eyes of the American people:

Whoresons and daughters
Dangerous dingbats
Nasty nuts
Pusillanimous putzes
Never MAGA-nificent
Puny pillocks
Fallacious failures
Phonies and fakers
Ninnies and nincompoops
Super mega MAGA

The alliterative entries were found amusing rather than scary. “Never MAGA-nificent” gave rise to groans among the focus groups. The focus group members also worried that “Super mega MAGA” sounded like a superhero. As they deliberated over the choices presented, however, “Ultra MAGA” was suggested and favored as an acceptable alternative.

Once the focus groups settled on “Ultra MAGA” as the preferred slur, the team presented another set of choices to be applied to Trump himself for the consideration of the focus groups. Whatever the choice, it was understood that the slur would have to serve as a substitute for stating Trump’s name. The marketing team worked hard to come up with these choices for the consideration of the focus groups:

Mr. Poopy Head
Big Hair Guy
BFF of the MyPillow Guy
Damn dictator
Fake mogul millionaire
The MAGA maniac
The megalomaniacal MAGA man
The MAGA monomaniac
Mad MAGA Max
Mister MAGA
MAGA King

No one was really happy with any of these. After settling on “Ultra MAGA” in the first round, the marketing gurus leaned toward a “MAGA” variation. “The MAGA maniac” was rejected as too harsh. “Mister MAGA” was rejected as too respectful. “Mad MAGA Max” was rejected as too obscure. “The megalomaniacal MAGA man” and “The MAGA monomaniac” were rejected as polysyllabic. “MAGA King” was the compromise choice.