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Ugly truth about ‘Honest Joe’: Devine

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Ugly truth about ‘Honest Joe’: Devine

Now that the election is over and President Biden is installed in the White House, it’s safe for the truth about his character to dribble out. 

And what do you know? Turns out the ethical standards of “Honest Joe” aren’t worth a hill of beans. 

Starting with the obvious, Hunter Biden is still in business with the Chinese Communist Party. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted a little over a week ago that the president’s wayward 51-year-old son still owns 10 percent of Chinese equity firm BHR Partners. 

So much for Joe’s promise that “no one in my family will . . . have any business relationship with anyone that relates to a foreign corporation or a foreign country. Period. Period. End of story.” 

But that was B.E., before the election. Everything’s changed now. 

Biden watered down his family’s ethics rules immediately after the election to a vague statement about “appropriate distance” from the presidency. 

“My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise, that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with the appropriate distance from, the presidency and government,” he told CNN in December. 

Clear as mud. 

Joe’s younger brothers, Frank and Jim, know what the rubbery rules mean: The Biden family’s influence-peddling business can continue as before, only better, with an actual sitting president to sell. 

Frank wasted no time, with a two-page newspaper ad on Inauguration Day touting his relationship with “my brother” for the South Florida law firm which pays him as an adviser, even though he isn’t a lawyer. 

Of course, there is still that pesky issue of federal criminal investigations hanging over the heads of Hunter and Jim, another truth bomb which stayed hidden from the American people until after the election. 

But, wouldn’t you know it, on Day One as president, Joe installed the law partner of Hunter’s defense lawyer to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division, the very division which is investigating his son and brother. 

“The president is committed to ensuring we have the most ethically vigorous administration in history,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the start of the Biden presidency. 

It’s a refrain we hear often from Biden and the White House, about just how honest and ethical he is. 

But people who feel the need constantly to tell you how honest and ethical they are in life always turn out to be quite the opposite. 

In an interview with People magazine published on Monday, the president and First Lady Jill Biden gushed that Joe was restoring “trust” in government and boasted about his unimpeachable ethical standards. 

Asked about Hunter, Joe came up with a whole new formulation for Biden family ethics rules: “No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in any government undertaking or foreign policy.” Hmmm. What happened to the ban on foreign business relationships? 

Then Joe told People a curious tale, which raised more doubts than confidence in his personal integrity: “I remember years ago an accountant said, ‘You know, you can charge part of the gas you use in the vehicle at your home.’ And I said ‘No’. 

“Here’s how I look at it: The foul line is 15 feet away from the basket. Never get me closer than 17 feet, because it really is a matter of the public trust.” 

Look, if you have a legitimate business expense, such as the fuel you use while driving for work, then you are entitled to be reimbursed, as millions of Americans are each year. Few things are more black-and-white in expense claims than gas mileage. 

Perhaps Joe is so wealthy that 57.5 cents per mile is chicken feed, but he didn’t say “No” to his accountant’s advice out of concern about the ethical ambiguity of claiming for gas, because there isn’t any. 

There is no need to move his supposed ethical “foul line” two feet further away than everyone else’s, because the rules are utterly straightforward. 

He was pretending, as he has his entire career, that he is more honest than the average Joe. 

So the only rational response to such ostentatious virtue signaling is skepticism. 

It’s not as if you have to peer far into the past to find a genuinely dubious ethical decision by Joe. 

Just last Sunday, he promoted Hunter’s new book in a CBS interview on national TV played before a Super Bowl audience of 96 million, in the very week the publisher launched the marketing campaign. 

Even Obama administration ethics czar Walter Schaub said it was wrong, in since-deleted tweets blasting Joe for joining Hunter’s “book promotion tour . . . This is not the way to model strong government ethics”. 

Nope. Nor is the fact that another hyperbolic statement of self-virtue from “Honest Joe” has fallen apart in less than four weeks. 

The immediate reaction to Biden Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo hissing “I will destroy you” at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, and deriding her with sexist vulgarities, was to send him home for a week without pay. 

It was a far cry from Joe’s Inauguration Day threat to staffers: “disrespect or talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot, no ifs, no buts.” 

On Friday, the hapless Psaki tried to justify Ducklo’s abuse as a natural consequence of Politico reporting on his “private life”. 

The penny finally dropped Saturday night and Ducklo resigned, but the delay says it all. 

Talk is cheap in the Biden White House.

Subway spree is no shock

Are we surprised that the alleged A-train serial killer is a mentally ill, homeless drug abuser whose past arrests include an alleged assault on a cop? Of course not. This is Bill de Blasio’s New York, after all. 

Rigoberto Lopez, 21, was arrested Saturday, less than 24 hours after a subway rampage in which he allegedly stabbed four people, two fatally. 

Great work by the NYPD, but he never should have been on the streets after the last four times they arrested him. 

Nor should we be surprised that the victims also were homeless. It was only 16 months ago when four homeless people were beaten to death in Chinatown by another vagrant. De Blasio did nothing and life just grew more dangerous for the city’s ballooning homeless population. 

New York has been failed by destructive criminal justice reforms from woke lawmakers in Albany, a rabidly anti-cop mayor and lax judges and prosecutors batting for the wrong team. 

They all pretend it’s compassion for the underdog that drives them, but any cop can tell you that going easy on criminals only hurts the vulnerable most.

Pelosi’s hatred poisons climate

It’s disgusting that the lawyers defending Donald Trump in his impeachment trial have had to hire private security after their homes were vandalized and their businesses assailed. 

“My home was attacked,” Philadelphia attorney Michael van der Veen told Fox News after Saturday’s acquittal. 

“My entire family, my business, my law firm are under siege right now.” 

He begged the country to “heal” from the political hatred which spawned a summer of violent riots and the storming of the Capitol. 

But there’s no chance of healing while Nancy Pelosi is House Speaker. 

She looked unhinged when she burst into her impeachment managers’ post-mortem press conference Saturday to vent her spleen against the 43 senators who voted to acquit Trump. 

They were “a cowardly group of Republicans” and losers who have “no options” for another job. 

The Speaker’s role is supposed to be revered, but Pelosi is so hooked on hatred and spite she brings all of Congress into disrepute.

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Opinion

Washington Post tried to smear me for criticizing race theory and failed

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Washington Post tried to smear me for criticizing race theory and failed

The Washington Post attempted to smear me, the nation’s most prominent opponent of critical race theory — and it backfired spectacularly.

The fight over CRT has consumed American media. Conservatives have rallied against the toxic neo-Marxist ideology that seeks to divide the country into the racial categories of oppressor and oppressed; liberals have defended it as a “lens” for understanding vague buzzwords such as “systemic racism” and “racial equity.”

I’ve been on the cutting edge of this battle. My investigative reporting, including columns for this paper, has exposed CRT in education, government and the corporate world. I’ve shed light on public schools forcing 8-year-olds to deconstruct their racial identities, telling white teachers they must undergo “antiracist therapy” and encouraging white parents to advocate for “white abolition.” 

These stories have attracted millions of readers, helping spark a rebellion among parents in school districts across the country — and making me a target for the woke left.

In recent months, outlets including The New York Times, The New Republic, MSNBC, CNN and The Atlantic have relentlessly attacked me. But the coup de grâce, they believed, would be a 3,000-word exposé in The Washington Post. The paper dispatched two reporters, Laura Meckler and Josh Dawsey, and spent three weeks preparing a vicious hit piece against me, accusing me of a range of intellectual crimes.

Only the Post’s story rested on a bed of lies. Among other things, Meckler and Dawsey fabricated the timeline of events surrounding my involvement with former President Donald Trump’s executive order on CRT; incorrectly claimed that a Cupertino, Calif., diversity lesson I exposed never happened; and insisted that my reporting about the US Treasury Department’s diversity programs was false.

After the article was published, I went through it line-by-line and made a point-by-point rebuttal on social media and to The Washington Post’s editors. Within 48 hours, the paper’s story had collapsed.

The paper admitted to fabricating the timeline of events, having originally claimed that a Fox News appearance I made on Sept. 1 had “soon” been followed by a visit by me to the Trump White House and thereafter by an anti-CRT memo from Trump’s budget chief (in fact, I didn’t visit the White House until Oct. 30, long after Team Trump issued the memo and an anti-CRT executive order).

Further, the paper retracted or added six full paragraphs to the story and reversed its accusation that I invented the Cupertino story. The training did, in fact, take place, the paper conceded.

As for the assertion that I made false claims about the Treasury training, the paper insisted on the absurd point that the material — which told employees that “virtually all white people . . . contribute to racism” — did not mean that “all white people are racist,” as I had reported.

This was a deep embarrassment for The Washington Post, which then attempted to hide behind vague “clarifications” and sent a vice president of communications to do damage control. But what the paper did was indefensible: It dispatched deeply partisan reporters to do a hatchet job on a fellow journalist, with no regard for the facts or probity.

Here’s the problem: I have a large social-media platform and can defend myself. But what about ordinary Americans who are smeared, slandered and degraded by hyper-partisan outlets like The Washington Post?

The episode also shed light on the bizarre determination of the prestige press to play down just how radical and fundamentally un-American CRT is. The Washington Post story framed CRT as merely an attempt to push white Americans to “confront systemic racism and white privilege in America,” to prompt a “reckoning with America’s past and present sins.”

Yeah, right. Meanwhile, in the real world, CRT trainings involve re-enacting racial segregation, only this time in the name of progress, as happened in the King County Library System (Seattle). They claim that “all white people play a part in perpetuating systemic racism,” as Buffalo students are taught. And they accuse the US education system of perpetuating “spirit-murder” against black kids.

This is far more than a healthy reckoning. It’s indoctrination in ahistorical nonsense. It’s demonizing vast swaths of America over skin color. It’s racism. Democracy does indeed die in darkness, as The Washington Post’s motto proclaims. It’s just that the paper itself helps spread much darkness.

Christopher F. Rufo is a contributing editor of City Journal.

Twitter: @RealChrisRufo

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Beijing suffocates Hong Kong’s loudest voice for liberty

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Beijing suffocates Hong Kong's loudest voice for liberty

For a brief blip, there was hope that Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaper, would be able to hold out for a bit longer against the Chinese Communist Party. This, despite the fact that the party froze the assets of its jailed owner, Jimmy Lai, under a draconian new “national-security” law.

This month, even after authorities tagged Lai’s 71 percent majority stake in Next Digital, Apple Daily’s publisher, the media company said it had sufficient funding to continue operations for at least 16 months.

Following a June 26 board meeting, however, it’s likely the paper will soon cease publication for good, according to Lai’s right-hand man and adviser Mark Simon. “It’s essentially a matter of days,” Simon told Reuters.

The ChiComs’ financial vise-grip worked. Vendors trying to deposit money into the company’s bank accounts have been rejected. And another high-up source told Reuters that the freezing of the company’s assets — sans trial or due process, naturally — has made it virtually impossible to pay wages or electricity bills.

Lai always knew things might turn out this way. When the mainland Communists and their local henchmen first attempted to pass a Hong Kong national-security law back in 2003, Lai told Simon, “If they can close Apple and Next, they will.”

“My boss Jimmy Lai has never had any illusions about the Chinese Communist Party,” Simon tells me. “Over the years, we have had hundreds of conversations about the CCP killing off Apple Daily. He said he would be there to the end. He’s in jail, so he is good for his word.”

Now that the CCP has seemingly “taken care of” its biggest enemy in the territory, Lai, it has moved to target the rest of Apple Daily, including other journalists and executives. And no wonder: Like their boss, and despite the risk of arrest and imprisonment, Apple employees have gone on shining a light into the ugly face of tyranny.

And so: On June 17, 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices and arrested the company’s chief executive officer, Cheung Kim-hung; chief operating officer, Royston Chow; chief editor, Ryan Law; associate publisher, Chan Pui-man; and the platform director of Apple Daily Digital, Cheung Chi-wai.

All have been arrested under the national-security law — which prohibits “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” — and denied bail.

Following the arrests, Secretary for Security John Lee gave a chilling news conference, warning Hong Kongers, “If you stand with these suspects, you will pay a hefty price. You should cut ties with the suspects, or you’ll regret it very much.”

Let that seep in: If you stand for a free press and personal liberties, you will pay the consequences.

Lee added: “The suspects have been arrested on strong evidence that they’re conspiring to endanger national security. It is your choice whether you regard them as part of you . . . [or] go about your journalistic work lawfully and properly.” 

That is a threat to foreign journalists, too. If what Apple Daily does amounts to nefarious “collusion,” all Western newspapers and journalists need to be on notice.

But we still have a job to do: While Beijing squelches the truth and imprisons its tellers, we get to stand in for them. “Jimmy made it clear since 2019, we publish until they stop us by force,” Simon told me. “But no martyrs. As Jimmy said, ‘History and our souls tell us that freedom always wins. You have to be around to make that win happen.’”

While Lai and his Apple colleagues sit behind bars, it’s up to those of us in the free West to use our freedoms to speak out for them.

Elisha Maldonado is a member of The Post editorial board and a senior fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum.

Twitter: @ElishaMaldonado

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Iran just elected a mass murderer — and Team Biden wants to negotiate

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Iran just elected a mass murderer — and Team Biden wants to negotiate

Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity — except, it seems, for the Biden administration, where such folly passes for foreign policy.

This month, President Joe Biden and his team watched as another dismally unfree election in Iran resulted in Ebrahim Raisi taking the reins as president. What to do when your signature diplomatic initiative hangs on dealing with a regime now governed by a man best known for his role in executing thousands of political dissidents in the 1980s (the female ones raped to preemptively keep them from reaching paradise)?

The answer from the White House: Tell the same old story and hope for the best.

That story, authored by former President Barack Obama, is a simple one: Either we negotiate with Tehran or we risk a total, all-out regional war.

Writing in Foreign Affairs last year, Jake Sullivan, now Biden’s national-security adviser, expressed this idea succinctly. Washington, he argued, should use “US leverage and diplomacy to press for a de-escalation in tensions and eventually a new modus vivendi among the key regional actors.”

America, he added, “has repeatedly tried using military means to produce unachievable outcomes in the Middle East. Now it’s time to try using aggressive diplomacy to produce more sustainable results.” Which, translated to real-world policies, means lifting sanctions on Iran and resuscitating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Obama nuclear deal.

The election of a murderous barbarian, the Smart Set in Washington insisted this week, changes none of that, largely because it’s the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and not the president, who really pulls the strings.

“Iran will have, we expect, the same supreme leader in August as it will have today, as it had before the elections, as it had in 2015 when the JCPOA was consummated for the first time,” explained State Department spokesman Ned Price. In other words, don’t look at the bloody butcher, folks — it’s business as usual with Tehran.

It’s true that the Iranian presidency is toothless, but what the Smart Set misses is that Khamenei himself is an intransigent theocrat who will never, ever surrender his regime’s hatred for the West and designs on the region. And given Khamenei’s age (82) and ailing health (he reportedly has prostate cancer), the regime is sending an unmistakable signal about its future direction by selecting a hard-liner’s hard-liner in Raisi.

More important, the choice isn’t war or appeasement. Taking office, President Donald Trump challenged his predecessor’s core assumption with a smarter approach: applying maximum pressure on the mullahs to isolate them and keep them busy dealing with a restive population.

It worked. Despite Team Obama’s dire warnings that Iran was mere months away from full nuclear capability, the mullahs didn’t build a bomb. Instead, they were consumed with popular protests in more than 200 Iranian cities, by Iranians who sensed that the Trump presidency was a vulnerable moment for their corrupt and tyrannical rulers.

Meanwhile, reassured by Washington, a host of Arab nations signed the Abraham Accords, making peace with Israel and ushering in the most promising moment the region had known in decades.

Why, then, undo what’s been working? Why the return to assumptions and ideas proved false and harmful? Why does the president tell himself and us the same bad story, even as a man sanctioned by the United States for his role in crimes against humanity takes the helm?

It’s because Obama and Biden weren’t ever interested in solving a concrete problem, like improving relations with Iran or decreasing the likelihood of an armed conflict. They were, and remain, committed to a far more audacious — and dangerous — vision, one which involves remaking the Middle East with Iran at its center.

It’s what Michael Doran and Tony Badran, two of America’s most astute Mideast analysts, called the Realignment, a doctrine focused on getting all Middle Eastern nations to, as Obama memorably put it, “share the neighborhood” with Iran, believing the regime in Tehran to be a rational one that responds to traditional incentives and can keep the region balanced in ways that benefit US interests.

Let’s hope that the presidency (and perhaps future supreme leadership) of a mass murderer can focus minds in Washington about Tehran’s realities.

Liel Leibovitz is editor at large at Tablet.

Twitter: @Liel 

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