The Comeback Kid

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Trump’s Iowa: For a minute there, it looked like former President Donald Trump’s political career was in shambles. With his four felony indictments, 91 total criminal charges, and schedule full of court dates, it was hard to see how such legal troubles could possibly be cast aside as a non-issue for voters.

Last night, it all became a lot more real. Trump was declared the winner of the Iowa caucuses merely 30 minutes after they began. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley were only ever jockeying for second place. (DeSantis nabbed it by a narrow margin.)

None of this is shocking if you’d glanced at the polls. Perhaps the only shocking thing about the whole caucus—other than the very limited amount of time Trump actually spent campaigning there—was how media outlets began to call the race prematurely before all the votes had been cast.

AP has a policy not to call “the winner of a race before all the polls in a jurisdiction are scheduled to close.” Tonight AP/CNN/Etc. called the race after the caucus doors closed, but BEFORE all votes were cast. People could see on their phones that Trump won before voting.

— Michael Scherer (@michaelscherer) January 16, 2024

It’s fine to have your on-air talent provide an opinion that it’s obvious that Trump is going to win (I mean it’s been obvious for weeks/months). The official race “call” is supposed to serve a different purpose, however. I dunno man.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 16, 2024

The DeSantis campaign says the media “participate[d] in election interference by calling the race before tens of thousands of Iowans even had a chance to vote. The media is in the tank for Trump and this is the most egregious example yet.”

Election interference is mighty strong—the early call probably didn’t change the overall results, which were, frankly, a bit of a bloodbath for both DeSantis and Haley. And the media being “in the tank for Trump” is not an idea that squares with literally anything I’ve seen over the last eight years, but sure.

Still, it’s not wrong to say that official calls have vacillated between being way too late and way too early; much of the media just can’t quite get the timing right, and networks have incentives to be first to report the news.

Imho it was a massive mistake for these media outlets to call the race before voting was clearly done. Not saying it changed basic contours of the results. But just incredibly myopic & misguided given years of talk about media overreach, democracy, rigging, etc.

— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) January 16, 2024

.@baseballcrank: I disagree that the early call is harmless.

Iowa isn’t a winner-take-all state. The margins actually affect delegate allocations.

It’s indefensible to declare a winner in that situation before all votes are cast.https://t.co/sGmhfNrwSw https://t.co/EFA45pAppx

— National Review (@NRO) January 16, 2024

The old adage says there are three tickets out of Iowa—the truth of which may reasonably be disputed—but one thing was for certain: Vivek Ramaswamy had no chance. Ramaswamy dropped out last night and unsurprisingly threw an endorsement Trump’s way. Thanks for playing.

Vivek was way more interesting than most Republicans. Defending his Hindu faith to hostile evangelical voters without backing down an inch, taking on the permanent pro-war establishment, and confronting legacy media bullshit in ways that were equally entertaining and revealing.

— Lee Fang (@lhfang) January 16, 2024

“Vivek Ramaswamy” was a sociological study conducted by Harvard University. The study is now complete. Thank you for your time.

— Dominic Pino (@DominicJPino) January 16, 2024

Deaths in the borderlands: At the U.S.-Mexico border near Eagle Pass, Texas, Border Patrol agents allegedly attempted to respond to a drowning migrant woman and two children who were in distress. Border Patrol claims they were physically prevented from responding to the distress call by Texas officials.

“Homeland Security said that when Border Patrol agents tried to respond to the call, they were ‘physically barred’ by Texas Military Department agents from accessing the area,” reports The New York Times. “But the military department said when Border Patrol agents requested access, the migrants had already drowned, adding that claims that it had prevented the agents from saving them were ‘wholly inaccurate.'”

Then, “in a filing before the Supreme Court late Monday, the Justice Department said Border Patrol was notified by Mexican officials that the three drownings had already occurred when it asked Texas officials for permission to enter the area,” per CBS. So it’s not clear what actually happened: It’s a he said/she said between Border Patrol and the Texas Military Department, one of which is not telling the truth or has gotten its story twisted.

The migrants were trying to cross the Rio Grande near Shelby Park, which Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently closed to attempt to thwart migrants’ ability to enter the country. People concerned by the humanitarian crisis at the border—and these tragic drownings—have also pointed to Abbott’s installation of concertina wire at critical spots, noting that it’s harder for border authorities to render aid during emergencies as a result of Abbott’s actions.

A border free-for-all is not what American voters have asked for. But having children drown at the entrances to our country, as they pursue a better and safer life, also seems like a flagrant violation of our values.


Scenes from New York: The adult activists are, unfortunately, at it again, this time targeting Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Pretty sure children in a cancer ward have little influence over Israel and Hamas, but go off I guess.

Not a good look as pro-Palestinian protestors target a cancer hospital on New York’s Upper East Side. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also houses a paediatric day hospital…

“Make sure they hear you, they’re in the windows”. pic.twitter.com/qKC7ma1v52

— Danny Morris (@DannyMMorris) January 15, 2024


QUICK HITS:

  • Nobody knows how to waste money quite like the state: “For the last 15 months, an interagency task force comprised of nearly two dozen state agencies and authorities has been collaborating on plans to ensure a safe and memorable viewing experience [of the solar eclipse] for New York State’s residents and visitors.”
  • Pro-Palestine protesters outside of the White House got aggressive, hurling objects at cops and damaging the security fencing, while forcing staffers to be evacuated.
  • “It is true that the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power to declare war. The president cannot initiate any large-scale military action on his own,” writes Ilya Somin at Volokh Conspiracy. “But critics of Biden’s action overlook the fact that the US strikes are not initiating a war, but responding to attack.” (Full reasoning is worth reading if you’re interested in the legality of it all.)
  • Fully endorse:

Deciding not to drive through a blizzard in -60F wind chill factor to stan for a politician doesn’t prove you’re a pussy, it proves you’re sane https://t.co/jAz0p0fnMf

— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) January 12, 2024

  • “The Federal Reserve ran an operating loss of $114.3 billion last year, its largest ever, a consequence of its campaign to aggressively support the economy in 2020 and 2021, then jacking up interest rates to combat high inflation,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Taiwan went to the polls this past weekend—and China lost, big time.
  • Come live at my house, Optimus! I have work for you!

Optimus folds a shirt pic.twitter.com/3F5o3jVLq1

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2024

  • The People’s Forum speakers seem to be struggling with either stupidity or antisemitism, unsure which one:

Huh, I wonder why Israel, a tiny country with an economy less than one-fiftieth the size of America’s, would be the lynchpin to global capitalism

There is no possible explanation for this. It’s just inscrutable. What could he mean https://t.co/TeEVzLv22k

— Swann Marcus (@SwannMarcus89) January 15, 2024

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