WITH MASK MANDATES FALLING, BIDEN ADMIN PANICS ABOUT LOSING POWER… NYT: The U.S. Justice Department appeals to reinstate the transportation mask mandate.
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Wednesday appealed a federal court ruling striking down the mask requirement for passengers on planes, trains, buses and other public transportation after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the mandate was “necessary” to protect the public from the spread of the coronavirus. […]
While the C.D.C. wants to keep the mandate intact, it is also pressing the appeal to preserve its public health powers. But doing so is potentially risky; if the ruling striking down the mandate is upheld, that could permanently weaken the agency’s authority. […]
“This sets up a clash between public health and a conservative judiciary, and what’s riding on it is the future ability of our nation’s public health agencies to protect the American public,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, an expert in public health law at Georgetown University. “The risk is that you will get a conservative 11th Circuit ruling that will so curtail C.D.C.’s powers to fight Covid and future pandemics that it will make all Americans less safe and secure.”
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday in an interview with Chris Wallace of CNN+ that the appeal was important not only to preserve the mask requirement but also “to ensure the C.D.C.’s authority and ability to put in mandates in the future remains intact.”
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the decision on whether to mask on airplanes is now “up to” the people, appearing to relent on the recent court ruling striking down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) order.
A Trump-appointed federal judge in Florida struck down the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation Monday, and the Biden administration issued a statement that evening conceding that the “order is not in effect at this time.”
“That’s up to them,” Biden, responding to the news for the first time publicly, said Tuesday when asked whether people should still wear masks on planes.
“The president was answering the question quite literally, which means right now – as you know – we are not implementing the mask mandate because of the court order, which we disagree with, while he [Biden] is still abiding by CDC guidance,” Psaki said when pressed on Biden’s comments during Wednesday’s press briefing. “And we recommend Americans do that across the country.”
TYRANTS DESPERATELY HOLD ONTO COVID… Rhode Island Democrat Pushes Bill That Would Double Income Tax For Those Who Don’t Comply With Vaccine Mandate
A Democratic state senator from Rhode Island is urging the state to pass his COVID-19 vaccine mandate that would double income taxes for those who don’t comply with the mandate.
Sen. Sam Bell, citing a poll showing Rhode Islanders “still strongly support a universal vaccine mandate,” said “it’s time for us to pass my mandate bill. Cases are rising again. Surrender isn’t working.”
The bill, introduced in March, would mandate everyone 16 and older who is eligible for the vaccine and lives in, works in or pays personal income taxes to the state get the jab. Those under 16 or “under guardianship shall be required to be immunized against COVID-19, with the responsibility for ensuring compliance falling on all parents or guardians with medical consent powers.”
For individuals who fail to comply with the mandate, the legislation proposed a “monthly civil penalty of fifty dollars” and violators “shall owe twice the amount of personal income taxes as would otherwise be assessed.”
Employers who do not require proof of vaccination would be subject to monthly $5,000 fines for every violation.
NY TIMES GRUMPY THAT BIDEN ISN’T GETTING *CREDIT* FOR INFLATION-DRIVING $1.9 TRILLION SPENDING SPREE… NYT: If Biden’s Plan Is Like a ‘New Deal,’ Why Don’t Voters Care?
Unlike the New Deal, however, this $1.9 trillion federal investment in American communities has barely registered with voters. Rather than a trophy for Mr. Biden and his party, the program has become a case study in how easily voters can overlook even a lavishly funded government initiative delivering benefits close to home.
Mr. Biden’s popularity has declined in polls over the past year, and voters are giving him less credit for the country’s economic recovery than his advisers had anticipated. […]
Getting voters excited about the American Rescue Plan is a tall order when so many are preoccupied with the price of gasoline and the cost and availability of other basic goods — concerns the emergency-spending bill was not designed to address.
A Gallup poll in March found that more Americans said they worried a great deal about inflation than any other issue. Crime and homelessness, both targets of rescue spending, were not far behind.
The American Rescue Plan, which also funded direct relief payments to voters and health programs like vaccine distribution, has been criticized by Republicans and some economists for pumping too much money into the economy and probably contributing to inflation.
President Biden on Wednesday conceded that inflation is at a three-decade high because “people have more money now” as a result of his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus legislation, recognizing a central point made by people who are arguing against a nearly $2 trillion sequel.
Biden unexpectedly endorsed the stance of his critics who have said the US dollar is losing its buying power as a result of the government printing money to cover COVID-19 aid.
The president said stimulus funds that he signed into law are in part to blame for demand exceeding the supply of goods, causing a backlog at major US ports and the highest rate of annual inflation since 1990.
“The irony is people have more money now because of the first major piece of legislation I passed. You all got checks for $1,400. You got checks for a whole range of things,” Biden said during a speech in Baltimore.
“If you’re a mom and you have kids under the age of 7, you get $300 a month and if it’s over 7 to 17, you’re getting $360 a month,” he said, misstating the second amount, which is $250 per month.
“It changes people’s lives. But what happens if there’s nothing to buy and you got more money to compete for getting [goods]? It creates a real problem,” Biden said.
GOP ELECTION FORECAST KEEPS IMPROVING… Democrats Get More Bad News About Their Chances Of Holding The House
Two major election raters have shifted their projected outcomes for several House races toward the GOP in yet another signal Republicans are favored to retake control in the midterms.
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball updated 11 races on Tuesday, with all becoming friendlier towards the GOP. Shifts occurred in districts that were previously considered safer for Democrats, like Nevada Rep. Susie Lee’s 3rd Congressional District, as well as those previously thought to be competitive for Republicans, like Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales’ 23rd Congressional District. […]
Cook Political Report (CPR) made eight races more favorable to Republicans on Wednesday. Three Democratic incumbents, such as Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, had their races shifted from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up.” Overall, 27 seats held by Democrats are considered to be toss-ups or worse, while only 12 seats held by Republicans are labeled the same.
ENDANGERED DEM SLAMS HER OWN PARTY… POLITICO: ‘That was a terrible idea’: Spanberger wants a policing reboot for House Dems
CULPEPER, Va. — Abigail Spanberger railed against members of her own party for playing into the GOP’s hands on “defund the police” after the 2020 election. This year, she’s not waiting for permission to do it her way. […]
And Spanberger — who described the “defund” slogan as voters’ top issue in her own 2020 race — is one of many Democrats who worry those hits could prompt even more drastic political casualties than their unexpected losses two years ago.
“I thought that was a terrible idea,” the Virginia Democrat said of the “defund” slogan, which she said obfuscated the meaning of police reform and confused voters. […]
“If your words are ‘defund the police,’ they’re going to think you mean that. And they know the world is on fire,” she said after the police visit, sitting outside a Culpeper coffee shop. “They know things are upside down. They know they’re afraid, they know there’s a pandemic. So why are you going to just say you want to do something that you actually, maybe, don’t want to do?”
DEMS HAVE SLOWED DOWN PREDICTIONS OF THE GOP STEALING THE 2022 ELECTIONS… VOTERS ARE MUCH MORE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR BANK ACCOUNTS… NYT: Democrats Fear for Democracy. Why Aren’t They Running on It in 2022?
Despite a broad consensus on the left that the country’s most revered institutions are in trouble, with President Biden and other leaders warning gravely that protecting voting rights and fair elections is of paramount importance, the vast majority of Democratic candidates are veering away from those issues on the campaign trail.
Instead, they are focusing on bread-and-butter economic topics like inflation and gas prices. Continuing to win elections must come first, the thinking goes — and polls and focus groups show that the issue of voting rights is far down the list of voters’ most urgent concerns.
“You cannot buy a lot of groceries with voting rights,” said Trey Martinez Fischer, a Texas state representative who organized Democrats’ flight from the state in July in a failed effort to block a Republican election bill. “Last summer there was nothing more important than voting rights, but the universe has shifted, and it’s become a conversation about our economy and inflation and the cost of goods.”
FLASHBACK… JANUARY… Democrats Whip Up Fear Of ‘Rigged’ Midterm Elections
With Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona refusing to eliminate the filibuster and pass a pair of election reform bills, Democratic politicians are claiming that Republicans will prevent fair midterm elections in November.
The two bills, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, would effectively nationalize elections by preventing states and locales from setting limits on absentee ballots, prohibiting ballot harvesting and changing polling locations without federal approval, among other changes. Democrats claim that these changes are necessary to prevent local Republicans from engaging in voter suppression and throwing out validly cast ballots.
President Joe Biden cast opponents of the bills as the heirs of segregationists, and laws requiring voter ID and banning line-warming as “Jim Crow 2.0.” He also claimed that individuals who support the stricter ID standards “plan to subvert the election.”
“History has never been kind to those who’ve sided with voter suppression over voters’ rights, and it will be even less kind for those who side with election subversion,” the commander-in-chief said. “Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace? The side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? The side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?” he asked.
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy questioned whether President Joe Biden has “confidence” in Vice President Kamala Harris’ role in handling root causes at the border.
“Does the president still have confidence that the Vice President can get to the bottom of root causes of migration?” Doocy asked.
Psaki said the president does and is “grateful for her work in doing exactly that,” the press secretary said.
“Why?” Doocy pressed.
“Why does he have confidence? Should I give you an update on a couple of the things we’ve done?” she replied.
Doocy asked what specifically gives Biden confidence when migrant encounters increased by 28% in March in comparison to the same month the previous year. Border officials encountered a total of 159,900 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, a 37% increase from February, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data.
“You asked me about root causes, so let me address that first and what the vice president and other members of the administration have been working with and have been doing,” she said. “We’ve been working with source and transit countries in the region to facilitate the quick return of individuals that have resided in those countries as well as to stem migration in its states. Some of that is getting agreements with partner countries on migrant-related matters and that is something that the vice president has been deeply engaged with.”
THE GOVERNMENT IS INEPT… CAPITOL CLEARED OVER NEEDLESS AIRPLANE PANIC… IT WAS AN ARMY PARACHUTE TEAM JUMPING INTO NATS PARK… WAPO: Plane heading to Nationals Park parachute jump prompts Capitol evacuation
An Army plane with a parachute team preparing to jump into Nationals Park as part of a pregame ceremony Wednesday evening triggered a threat alert and prompted authorities to briefly evacuate the U.S. Capitol complex, according to D.C. police.
An all-clear was quickly given, and six members of the Army’s Golden Knights landed safely on the outfield grass before the Nationals took on the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The mix-up created an off-the-field scramble to determine how authorities apparently miscommunicated about the flight on Military Appreciation Night at the baseball game. Aircraft generally are restricted over the District, one of the nation’s most heavily guarded and controlled areas. Congress was not in session during the call for evacuation, which came after business hours.
PELOSI INVOKES JAN 6… NY POST: Washington Nationals parachute snafu triggers Capitol evacuation order
Pelosi praised the Capitol police for the evacuation order, saying they “ensured the safety of all who work in these hallowed halls” in a statement released Wednesday.
“The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th,” the California Democrat said.
“Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today and who at the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake.”
NYT: AFTER JAN 6, KEVIN MCCARTHY WANTED TWITTER TO BAN SOME GOP LAWMAKERS… MCCARTHY SPOX OFFERS QUALIFIED DENIAL…
But in a brief window after the storming of the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy contemplated a total break with Mr. Trump and his most extreme supporters.
During the same Jan. 10 conversation when he said he would call on Mr. Trump to resign, Mr. McCarthy told other G.O.P. leaders he wished the big tech companies would strip some Republican lawmakers of their social media accounts, as Twitter and Facebook had done with Mr. Trump. Members such as Lauren Boebert of Colorado had done so much to stoke paranoia about the 2020 election and made offensive comments online about the Capitol attack.
“We can’t put up with that,” Mr. McCarthy said, adding, “Can’t they take their Twitter accounts away, too?”
Mr. McCarthy “never said that particular members should be removed from Twitter,” Mr. Bednar said.
FLORIDA CLOSE TO YANKING DISNEY’S SPECIAL TAX ARRANGEMENT… WSJ: Florida Senate Passes Bill to Eliminate Disney’s Special Tax District
The Republican-led Florida Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would eliminate a special tax district that allows Walt Disney Co. to govern the land where its theme parks sit, as lawmakers target the company for opposing legislation restricting classroom instruction on gender and sexuality.
The GOP-led House will likely vote to approve the measure Thursday. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called for lawmakers to consider such a bill in a special session he convened this week, has made clear he would sign it.
Losing the nearly 40-square-mile district near Orlando could be a major blow to Disney’s Florida operations.
The special district, created in 1967 and known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, exempts Disney from a host of regulations and certain taxes and fees. It has allowed the entertainment company to manage its theme parks and resorts in the state with little red tape for more than 50 years.
UNHINGED MSNBC HOST DECRIES LAWS BANNING THE SEXUALIZATION OF CHILDREN & REQUIRING PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT AS ‘DEHUMANIZING’… COMPARES GOP GOVS TO CHILD RAPISTS… Nicolle Wallace Compares DeSantis, Youngkin To Russian Soldiers Raping Kids (VIDEO)
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace compared Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Glenn Youngkin of Virginia to Russian soldiers raping kids during a Wednesday segment of “Deadline: White House.”
Wallace accused DeSantis and Youngkin of “dehumanization” through their successful passage of parental rights legislation and executive orders, which she called a “tactic of war.”
“I worry [that] in covering Glenn Youngkin and his politics of parental choice, all of the focus was on how well it worked,” she said. “And even in our conversations about DeSantis, it’s about how well they’re serving him. The truth is, dehumanization as a tactic for politics, is from war. Dehumanization is a tactic that we’re speaking of right now. Russians get their soldiers to rape children by dehumanizing them. Dehumanization, as a practice, is a tactic of war.”
“It’s being deployed in our politics and people like you and I sometimes lose the plot and admire its effect on not its substance, but even the analysis of these tactics loses sight of what this speech brings us back to which is that dehumanization has a cost, right now, right now as it’s being deployed.”
PSAKI SHEDS TEARS THAT SOME KIDS CAN’T BE SEXUALIZED IN SCHOOL… NY POST: Jen Psaki breaks down while discussing ‘harsh and cruel’ LGBTQ legislation
White House press secretary Jen Psaki began sobbing during an interview this week as she talked about a spate of bills that critics say are targeting gay and transgender children, claiming that kids are being used as weapons in a political culture war.
Psaki was asked during an interview with the “News Not Noise” podcast about legislation like Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade — as well as instruction on those topics that takes place “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
“This is a political wedge issue and an attempt to win a culture war,” Psaki said as she began audibly weeping. “And they’re doing that in a way that is harsh and cruel to a community of kids.”
“I’m going to get emotional about this issue — because it’s horrible,” she continued. “But it’s like kids who are bullied and all these leaders are taking steps to hurt them and hurt their lives and hurt their families. And you look at some of these laws in these states and it’s going after parents who are in loving relationships, who have kids. It’s completely outrageous.
“Sorry, this is an issue that makes me completely crazy,” the press secretary added.
CNN PLUS VLOGGER CHRIS WALLACE SLOBBERS ALL OVER JEN PSAKI… ‘TOMMY CHRISTOPHER’: Chris Wallace is quite the #Psaki Pstan: “You’ve been widely praised for your stint here at the White House. In fact, I have praised you for your stint here at the White House. How do you think you’ve done?” (VIDEO)
WALLACE SAYS PSAKI IS THE BEST THAT’S EVER DONE IT… ‘TOMMY CHRISTOPHER’: Wow, extraordinary outtro for Jen #Psaki by Chris Wallace: “The job of White House press secretary is tricky… Jen’s done as good a job at it as any press secretary I can remember, while restoring some much needed civility to the White House briefing room. She’ll be missed.” (VIDEO)
WAR IN UKRAINE… PUTIN DECLARES VICTORY OVER MARIUPOL AFTER FAILING TO TAKE NETWORK OF UNDERGROUND TUNNELS… FOX: Putin orders troops not to storm final Mariupol holdout
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops not to storm the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged strategic city of Mariupol Thursday, even as he praised Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the “liberation” of the city.
“I believe the suggested attack at the industrial zone to be not necessary,” Putin told Shoigu in a televised meeting at the Kremlin. “I order for it to be called off.”
“This is that case when we have to think- that is we always have to think but in this case it`s even more important – to think of saving lives and health of our soldiers and officers,” Putin added. “One does not have to climb into these catacombs and crawl there underground around these industrial objects.”
“Block this industrial zone in such a way that even a fly could not fly through,” the president ordered. Shoigu replied, “Yes.”
“Offer to all those who still did not lay down arms to do it,” Putin added. “The Russian side guarantees life and dignified treatment to them in accordance with corresponding international legal acts. All of the wounded ones will receive qualified medical assistance.”
“Completion of military actions on liberation of Mariupol is a success,” he added. “Congratulations.”
Amber Heard allegedly admitted to hitting ex-husband actor Johnny Depp in audio recordings that were played for the jury on Wednesday in the ongoing defamation trial.
“I didn’t punch you… I was hitting you, it was not punching you. You didn’t get punched, you got hit… I did not f****** deck you, I f****** was hitting you,” Heard was heard saying in the recording, according to Yahoo!. “But you’re fine, I did not hurt you… you’re a f****** baby. You are such a baby, grow the f*** up, Johnny.”
Depp is heard saying “Don’t tell me what it feels like to be punched,” according to the recording played in court.
Depp has alleged Heard of physical abuse throughout the testimony. He described in detail the fight in Australia that led to his finger being severed, in which he alleges Heard threw a bottle of vodka at him. The actor also described other bizarre incidents with Heard, such as her allegedly putting human fecal matter in his bed. Heard and her team have maintained that the feces was left there by their dogs.
NETFLIX, LOSING SUBSCRIBERS, PLANS PASSWORD-SHARING CRACKDOWN… MAY LAUNCH AD-DRIVEN MODEL… Netflix Implodes After Mass Cancellations
Netflix stocks plummeted after the company reported massive user cancellations in the first quarter of 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Shares dropped over 35% after Netflix released its first quarter earnings on Tuesday which showed a loss of roughly 200,000 users compared to the previous quarter and projected an additional loss of 2 million in Q2 2022, according to the earnings report, the WSJ reported. Wednesday’s decrease is the largest dip in stock price since October 2011.
Netflix attributed its loss of users to growing competition and the easing of the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to the company’s earnings report. The company also noted that users have shared their passwords to an additional 100 million non-paying users making it harder for the streaming giant to grow its user base.
Netflix will consider using an ad-support model in an effort to boost growth and potentially charge users when sharing login information.