Wednesday 19th of June 2024

the old demented folks at the home for old demented folks were passing time before bedtime...

U.S. Argues For More Protectionism And Subsidies

Last week Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen gave a speech on the U.S.-China economic relationship. I called it a declaration of war.

Yesterday National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan held a speech on 'Renewing American Economic Leadership' which touched on some of the same themes as Yellen's speech.

Sullivan argues that the U.S. must change course from opening markets and liberalization to targeted protectionism and subsidies for specific sectors. The main argument for it is 'national security' but the real aim seems to be the suppression of competition from others. In a core sentence Sullivan says:

[W]e are protecting our foundational technologies with a small yard and high fence.

As I’ve argued before, our charge is to usher in a new wave of the digital revolution—one that ensures that next-generation technologies work for, not against, our democracies and our security.

We’ve implemented carefully tailored restrictions on the most advanced semiconductor technology exports to China. Those restrictions are premised on straightforward national security concerns. Key allies and partners have followed suit, consistent with their own security concerns.

We’re also enhancing the screening of foreign investments in critical areas relevant to national security. And we’re making progress in addressing outbound investments in sensitive technologies with a core national security nexus.

These are tailored measures. They are not, as Beijing says, a “technology blockade.” They are not targeting emerging economies. They are focused on a narrow slice of technology and a small number of countries intent on challenging us militarily.

I do not understand what the 'small yard' is supposed to mean but the U.S. is indeed building a high fence. It is not a fence to protect the U.S. but a fence that is build to isolate China.

The U.S., by pressing its 'allies' in Europe and Asia, is trying to deny China the ability to acquire or produce computer chips. The newest lithographic machines The Dutch company ASML produces are now prohibited from export to China. Its CEO says that if the restrictions are held up others will build similar machines:

Wennink said at ASML's annual meeting on Wednesday that he was not worried about rivals in Japan, the U.S. or China being close to building cutting edge commercial lithography products.

"But it can happen of course, so it is absolutely essential that we get to keep having market acess to China", which is the largest market for computer chips globally. "Market access is as important to us as it is to our Chinese customers," he said.

The U.S. controlled neocons in German's government are under pressure to prohibit the export of some special chemicals used in the production of chips. The argument they use makes no sense:

Habeck, who is also the vice chancellor, has advised officials in his department to work on a tool box of measures to strengthen Germany’s economic resilience in certain areas and reduce one-sided dependencies on China. The idea of imposing export controls on chip chemicals is part of these deliberations, the people said.

How is stopping German exports to China supposed to reduce alleged one-sided German dependencies on China? It doesn't.

Computer chips are not a 'narrow slice of technology'. They are used in many daily products. A modern car has some 1,400 of them. China has been importing chips for $300 billion per year. Confronted with U.S. attempts to block it from access to chips it has ramped up its own production and its imports of chips are now in steep decline:

China’s chip imports slumped 27 per cent in the first two months of 2023 by volume, according to China’s customs data published on Tuesday.

China imported 67.6 billion integrated circuits (IC) in January and February, down 26.5 per cent from the same period last year, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs. The drop was steeper than the 15.3 per cent decline recorded for all of 2022, which was the country’s first annual fall in IC imports in two decades.

Sullivan's whole speech is an argument against free markets and for protectionism and sector subsidies. It does away with the economic framework the U.S. had build after the end of the second world war. This is supposed to be replaced it with bilateral and block wise agreements that are to the advantage of the U.S., to the disadvantage of its agreement 'partners' and which exclude China and other 'hostile' economies.

The so called 'decoupling' or 'de-risking' from China is actually an attempt to isolate it. It creates a dynamic that will lead to import replacements in China.

This will lower exports to China from the U.S. and its allies. The whole scheme will thereby eventually work to China's advantage.

Posted by b on April 28, 2023 at 16:44 UTC | Permalink






BY Henry Kamens


It is as if the president-elect, Joe Biden, who promised to bring together instead of divide, has not missed many opportunities to divide an already polarized country even more.  Now The US government under the guise of National Security is threatening to go all-out communist-fascist boot-stomping dictatorship—not in words but deeds.

The much-touted RESTRICT ACT is not limited to just TikTok, but affects average Americans, with the threat of jail sentences, 20 years in prison, hefty fines, upwards of 1,000,000 USD, and the forfeiture of everything you own, and that is just for starters. Even VPN users can risk long jail sentences in the US under the newly-proposed RESTRICT Act.

As Geoffrey M. Young, a Democratic candidate running for governor in the US State of Kentucky recently shared, “The Restrict Act should be called, “The Put the CIA in Control of the Internet Act.” As far as I can tell, it eliminates the First Amendment.”

This Act, at least officially, may be cited as the “Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology Act” or the “RESTRICT Act”.  The pending legislation gives the US government almost unlimited authority over all forms of communication domestic or abroad. It also grants powers to “enforce any mitigation measure to address any risk” to national security now and in any “potential future transaction”.

Whatever does that mean?

The act also grants unlimited hiring power to positions of enforcement, unlimited funds with little or no review, and immunity to FOIA. At first impression, even based on the lame news coverage, this legislation is more likely intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people, if passed.

It should come as no surprise that without hesitation, the White House backs the bipartisan bill that could be used to ban TikTok–calling it “a systematic framework for addressing technology-based threats to the security and safety of Americans.”

However, it is becoming obvious, even to casual observers, that the real intentions of the pending are to restrict and hold back Americans from freely accessing technology and information that is not supportive of the status quo and efforts to limit basic American liberties, such as the 1st and 4th Amendment, Free Speech and Being Secure in one’s Papers and Communications.   Critics worry it may have much wider implications for the First Amendment, as the ‘Insanely Broad’ RESTRICT Act could ban much more than just TikTok!”

So WTF is going on?

In short, under the guise of controlling Chinese and foreign governments, the US government can arbitrarily classify anyone it supposedly deems is a security threat, even US citizens as foreign individuals, and you can have your profession and life destroyed. This makes the US Patriot Act and other means of government censorship, restriction of free speech, and free trade look like child’s play.

RESTRICT renders the US government as totalitarian as the CCP, and its language and potential reach fly into the face of everything that it means to be an American. It will not only be interesting to know what the ACLU and all those so-called Watchdog organizations of free speech and human rights are going to say and do about it.

I suspect it will be passed, hands down, as was the Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11 under fueling fear of what has turned out to be “most likely” self-inflicted fears, and a false flag to boot.  They’re also claiming it’s to protect US citizens from the CCP. But then those giving us such laws turn around and the US becomes the CCP.

It’s like how Germany and Italy became fascist constructs, and how Ceausescu rose to power in Romania, stole everything from everyone, and tortured everyone with impunity. Nowadays how many under the age of 40 even know who the dictator Ceausescu was and his plight?

To stand to the side and not take notice, is in fact like being one of Hitler’s Willing Executioners; the greatest sins are those of omission.  This is about what is to come for Americans, not like what is going on in former Nazi regimes, as even now in Germany you can be prosecuted for speaking out for free speech and the provision of aid to IDPs in Ukraine, if the money was raised using social media in the West.

The whole discourse around the Restrict Act is very interesting—it is something like a Trojan Horse. However, I think it should be addressed from a wider perspective. Many governments are dealing with similar issues, but they differ a lot in terms of approach. It might be interesting to compare their examples at a later date, at least in theory, to a more virtuous one, the contrasts between the differing laws and implementation should benefit the reader greatly—and the motives are far from one another.


Any Action as Necessary!

As the National Law Review describes, the proposed RESTRICT Act grants the secretary of commerce broad authority to take “any . . . action as necessary” to carry out its responsibilities. Such authority explicitly includes establishing “rules, regulations, and procedures as the Secretary deems appropriate,” issuing guidance and advisory opinions and conducting “investigations of violations of any authorization, order, mitigation measure, regulation, or prohibition issued” under it.

Considers or deems appropriate is especially concerning, as that appears something closer to the 1917 Espionage Act in intent so that the enforces can use it as they “dam-well-please”, and it is not just targeted against adversarial relationships but ordinary folk who will be subjected to police state like procedures to control them, as in an Orwellian or Brave New World scenario.

Even protected individual and collective free speech can be interpreted without limitations as  being connected to “coercive or criminal activities by a foreign adversary that is designed to undermine democratic processes and institutions or steer policy and regulatory decisions in favor of the strategic objectives of a foreign adversary to the detriment of the national security of the United States, as determined in coordination with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of Treasury, and the Federal Election Commission.”

Those who do not agree with the foreign policy and methods of the United States can come under such a blanket enforcing dragnet, and all they need to do to run afoul of the legislation is to use mechanisms, electronic or share in some partnership with public and private entities are can have collective or individual assists seized amongst other threatening and punitive measures.

This includes but is not limited to cutting off money access, i.e., the use of Bitcoin since it applies to any software, hardware, or any other product or service integral to data hosting or computing service that uses, processes, or retains, or is expected to use, process, or retain, sensitive personal data in the United States at any point for the year preceding the date on which the covered transaction is referred to the Secretary for review.

Or if the Secretary initiates a review of the covered transaction, including— internet hosting services; cloud-based or distributed computing and data storage; machine learning, predictive analytics, and data science products and services, including those involving the provision of services to assist a party to utilize, manage, or maintain open-source software; managed services; and content delivery services, etc.

So it is a catch-all piece of legislation that can knot up not only foreign governments, and various entities, but individuals – who may get caught up under the swoop of this legislation simply for communicating or dealing with targeted entities, and using electronic, devices and online means to interface, transferring of things of value electronically.  So that covers so many of us, and without thinking of what we are getting ourselves into.

Covers too much territory 

It gives the government authority over all forms of communication domestic or abroad and grants powers to “enforce any mitigation measure to address any risk” to national security now and in any “potential future transaction.” So this bill that claims to protect US interests from foreign entities: allows the feds to classify anyone they deem is a security threat, even US citizens as foreign individuals.

But the RESTRICT Act is going to be imposed upon US citizens as a being a concerted repose to the ills of TikTok and those SNEAKY Chinese, so clever, and for the public good; it might be wise to ban not only TikTok but the wide range of social media, as it is far more insidious than anything Made in China, including Facebook at the top of the heap.

Even the ACLU understands that the Congressional efforts to ban TikTok in the U.S. threaten the basic rights of free speech this legislation would silence 150 million Americans who use the platform daily. The American Civil Liberties Union said that blocking access to entire platforms would violate the First Amendment rights of the millions and millions of Americans who use the platform daily.

There is also another pending legislative, HR 1153, DATA Act.  It  has similar intentions—and if one piece of legislation will not be approved  then the other might.

The ACLU has confirmed in its recent press releases and correspondence that should various bills move to a vote that the “purported attempt to protect the data of U.S. persons from Chinese government acquisition, this legislation will instead limit Americans’ political discussion, artistic expression, free exchange of ideas — and even prevent people from posting cute animal videos and memes.”

It does not stop there: such legislation opens a floodgate of human rights violating activities, restricting data, and fundamental Constitutional rights, on behalf of BIG Brother and the discretion that its long list of enforcement agencies have in interpreting and enforcing enacting enabling legislation.

Collectively the shifting mindset and paradigm shift in Washington and other Capitols may take us into territory where there is no way back from the deep and dark abyss.  Under the flimsy veil “guise” of protecting us they are abusing us … and to “say otherwise: is very un-American.

It will target you for a wide range of problems: retribution as if they are not allowing tolerance, and what they claim they are doing on a limited scale under legislation to protect us from terrorists and ourselves is a far cry from the reality on the ground.

Already American journalists are targeted, with little opportunity to defend themselves, and sanctioned for exciting basic freedom of speech, under the Obama era US Treasury Sanctions, and not based on enabling legislation, but executive authority, not having access to wire transfers through Western Union and facing harassment, attacks, sudden job loses, and overt blacklisting. They have even threats to change one’s profession when arriving and departing from US airports.

All for the mere allegation of submitting articles to a foreign-funded media site, as it was a crime—and not a US Constitutionally protected right. With such legislation making its way through Congress, it is not hard to fathom what can come next, and it will make Georgia Orwell 1984 just a sample of hell.

The RESTRICT Act can be best summed up, even by think tanks that deal with digital globalization as: “No transparency, No due process, No accountability, and the designations of undue risk are made in secret. The Secretary of Commerce is not required to publish an explanation for the designation. The Administrative Procedures Act is waived – there is no due process.  The Freedom of Information Act is also waived – so there is no transparency!

“The only good thing about this law is that for once, the cute acronym attached to the bill, RESTRICT is an honest one. This law is all about restricting – if not choking off entirely –trade in information and communications technology.”

To add insult to injury, US Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) wants the United States armed with the ability to take swift action against technology companies suspected of cavorting with foreign governments and spies, to effectively make their products disappear from shelves and app stores when the threat they pose gets too BIG to ignore

Mark Warner, officially the bill’s sponsor, describes in a recent interview with the internet outlet WIRED how “we’ve seen challenges coming from foreign-based technology. He describes how it was as originally was Kaspersky, a Russian software company, then [the next target] was Huawei, a Chinese telecom provider, and more recently, the discussion has been about this Chinese-owned social media app, TikTok.

“We seem to have a whack-a-mole approach to foreign-based technology, and I think instead we need a comprehensive rules-based approach that recognizes national security is no longer simply tanks and guns, but a question about technology and technology competition.”

But the threat is not those being targeted but from a government that is getting too BIG and intrusive for its people–it is much too preoccupied with devising new schemes to further restrict our already restricted liberties, even to speak out at school board meetings and voice concerns over issues of public concern.  Warner also thinks that “the onus is on the FBI to ensure privacy is protected, and I do have concerns about some of the American-based companies, the Facebooks and Googles of the world.”

And if anyone in their good mind wants to trust such agencies, CIA and FBI to protect basic human rights then they need to move to China or North Korea and lend their support from there, as history has taught Americans–and much of the world that such entities are not in the business of protecting rights but their “claim-to-fame” is to blatantly violent them–and with almost total impunity or legal recourse.

As much as I personally dislike Tik-Tok, no government should have that sort of power… Tik-Tok is just a lame excuse to put into law highly-suspect mechanisms to further restrict guaranteed freedoms of speech and basic human rights.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”









By Seymour Hersh / Substack

This piece is from Seymour Hersh’s Substack, subscribe to it here.

Last weekend the New York Times published a report that President Biden has been missing in action in recent months when it comes to serious question-and-answer sessions with the Washington press corps. The obvious reason for the lack of press conferences is “to protect” the president from unscripted exchanges that often result in missteps and confusion.

Had I been writing the piece, I might have added that the president is intent on not blurting out an unwanted truth. And he is not alone in avoiding the press. The fact is that Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan have similarly disappeared in recent months when it comes to give-and-take sessions with the White House press corps. 

In their place we now have John Kirby, a retired admiral who is a nice enough guy. He was a press guru at the Pentagon a decade or so ago when I was writing lots of tough stuff on national security issues, usually with no named sources, for the New Yorker. He made no pretenses then about being a policy maker, and he is no different now. Yet it was Kirby who was left to take a battering from a miffed press corps press earlier this month when the administration released a blame-anybody-but-us policy paper—distributed on just a few moments notice—dealing with the flawed US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The senior officials who should have been explaining that policy were Blinken and Sullivan—and perhaps even the president. In my view, his decision to pull the American military out was a high point of his diplomacy since taking office. It was bad luck that a terrorist bomb killed thirteen US soldiers and at least sixty Afghans, eviscerating all that was good in America’s change of policy. Yes, mistakes were made—the rush to get American troops out of harm’s way led to the disastrous early shutting of the vital Bagram airbase—but Biden did what he is being paid to do: he made a tough decision. He has yet to do so about Ukraine, or China, or the recent perhaps game-changing developments in Israel. And he has not addressed the fact that under his administration signs have emerged that America may no longer be the dominant global power in foreign policy, international trade, and general esteem. At some point, if Biden wants to be re-elected, he will have to face a press corps that will ask the questions about subjects—such as his current low standing in the polls—that now seem to be taboo.

All of which brings me to tell you what I know about going with the second string in dealing with the media. I was definitely below the cut line during my five months as press secretary and sometime speech writer for Senator Eugene McCarthy, a liberal Democrat from Minnesota who decided in late 1967 to challenge fellow Democrat Lyndon Johnson for the presidential nomination the next year. McCarthy had spent a decade in the House before winning a Senate seat in 1958, and was far from a flame thrower when it came to the Vietnam War. Nonetheless, he decided to do what Senator Robert Kennedy, the all but inevitable heir to the throne, chose not to do in late 1967: take on an unpopular sitting president.

I was not a political junkie and knew nothing about McCarthy, a two-term senator whose contempt for the war turned out, to my surprise, to be extreme. But I did know that the antiwar Democrats were desperate to find someone credible to challenge Johnson and get him out of office. Not likely, so I thought. In mid-December a neighbor of mine named Mary McGrory, then the must-read columnist of the Washington Star, a long gone daily, came over for a martini, which she often did, and told me I needed to be McCarthy’s press secretary. Mary was a fixture in Washington’s Irish mafia and since she had given up on Bobby making the run she decided it was up to Gene to do it. The ambivalent McCarthy, she said, was willing to take a flyer, but he needed help, lots of it. And I needed to be his press secretary and write his speeches.

I hated politics and all the compromising involved, but I had resigned from the Associated Press’s Washington bureau earlier that summer and just finished a book—any money coming from it was months away—and I was anxious about being just another freelance, and thus broke, Washington journalist. So it was arranged—the next day, if I recall it right—for me to sit down with the senator and see if it could work. I had gotten to know three or four senators since I hit Washington two years earlier, and I liked their quickness and willingness to work. At his office, I got the immediate sense that the Minnesotans working there were hostile to the notion of a separate campaign office that would include none of them. McCarthy himself was a handsome man who’d been a varsity athlete in college and looked fit. He was totally diffident toward me, just as he was about the idea of challenging a fellow Democrat who happened to be in the White House. I gave him a sheaf of magazine stuff I’d written—slim pickings to be sure—and he glanced at the pieces, looked over the young punk in front of him, and said, “I guess you’ll do.” I don’t think our meet and greet took more than ten minutes.

I called McGrory up and told her she’d thrown me to the wolves. Stick it out, she said. Gene was giving a speech the next night in New York City to an anti-Johnson Democrat group. She said it could lead to some serious campaign money, and I should go listen. I did, and I heard the senator, who I thought had been disdainful of the antiwar movement, give a forceful and compelling denouncement of the Vietnam War as immoral and take a step further by accusing Johnson of violating his oath of office. I’d been obsessed about the war for years—it wasn’t an accident that I would pursue a tip two years later and find the story of the My Lai massacre—and I had never heard a national politician describe Vietnam as the moral horror it clearly was, let alone suggest that Johnson was denigrating his office. 

And so I decided to give it a shot. A McCarthy campaign press office had been set up in downtown Washington and I was suddenly in charge of it. The young anti-war woman running it seemed terrific, and she became my deputy. I needed one quickly because the senator and I were to fly to Los Angeles the next day, and I was going to be his batman for the trip. I spent the rest of the day and much of the night going through my collection of antiwar tomes by authors such as Bernard Fall, then the leading expert on Vietnam and the war, and various publications by church groups that had been tracking the murderous war since the first American troops arrived. I put together a collection of 40 pages of homework and gave it to McCarthy.

He brought his poetry to read on the trip—he was passionate about it—and wasn’t interested in his first class seatmate. But one of the articles was about the trial of five antiwar activists, including Dr Benjamin Spock, America’s favorite pediatrician, accused of aiding and abetting draft dodgers. McCarthy, who had four children, was interested. When we hit Los Angeles, the senator did a fund raiser or two with the Hollywood crowd, but the big event for him was a long-scheduled speech at an end-the-war rally at UCLA. It was a big audience—maybe seven or eight thousand in all—and during the Q&A session he was asked about the Spock trial. I learned about the genius of the senator as I listened to him put what he had casually read on the plane into a strident and accurate defense of what Spock and his colleagues had done. He was with them, he said to a roar of applause.

Most important, as we learned the next morning, the senator’s defense of Spock and his co-defendants made national news, and I had helped him do so. It was the high point of my tour as a press secretary. Not being house-trained in public relations, I broke every taboo of the trade. 

A few days after returning from Los Angeles I got a telephone call from the candidate’s wife, Abigail, who told me to minimize any public emphasis on the family’s Catholicism, which she thought would be a disadvantage in southern New Hampshire. I told her I worked for her husband and not for her. I learned quickly that Gene was deeply religious and had spent time in a seminary after college but had moved back to the secular world after less than a year of seclusion. His faith was his own business, and no one else’s, and to pretend he wasn’t a Catholic was loony. Big mistake. I did not know about “pillow talk,” the political phrase for the power of a candidate’s wife. I had made her a pillow talk enemy by my second week on the job.

I was later exposed to the power of pillow talk in 1981. Ronald Reagan had won the presidency and I was two years into a long book on Henry Kissinger. Reagan’s national security adviser was Richard Allen, an arms control expert who worked for Kissinger in the early Nixon Administration days and was unafraid to tell me things I needed to know. Allen was most puckish and he and I sometimes exchanged stupid and smutty jokes when he was in the White House. Reagan adored this sort of thing, Allen told me, and one afternoon after I came up with a a good one over the phone, Allen said, “The President would love this one,” and he asked me to hang on. I listened as Allen then called the Secret Service agent on duty outside Reagan’s office and asked, “Is she there?” She being First Lady Nancy Reagan. The agent said yes and Dick told me he’d deliver my joke when she was not around—not a good move. Allen would not last many more months as national security adviser. But he did tell one story worth repeating. It was known that Reagan did not want to be awakened even if the National Security Agency came up with a hot intercept marked “Critic”—the designation meant the message had to be on the president’s desk within minutes. One very early morning Allen was informed that the Israeli air force had successfully attacked and destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad. This was something that had to be shared with Reagan. He called the special telephone, and the president answered, listened carefully to the message, and after a long pause said, “Well, Dick, boys will be boys,” and went back to bed. (Dick told the story in different ways over the years, but the punchline has remained intact.)

I thought my job was getting reporters to interview McCarthy and generate publicity and perhaps a few more contributions to the campaign, which needed money badly. Nope. McCarthy was not a fan of the Washington press corps, especially because he was treated as an oddity by reporters. I constantly urged and begged him to do more interviews, and he—this was two months into the New Hampshire campaign—accused me of planting reporters in the back seat and trunk of every car he was riding in. “The reporters love you,” he said to me again and again, “but they’re supposed to love me.” As McCarthy was gaining traction among moderate Republicans and the working class in New Hampshire, Ward Just, a wonderful reporter for the Washington Post (and later a prolific novelist), fresh from a long stint in Vietnam, called me to say he wanted to come up to New Hampshire to see firsthand how an avowedly anti-Vietnam War candidate was doing. I told the senator about Ward’s plan and, to my surprise, he made a face and said, in essence, No way. Why not? He gave me a sharp look and said, “Don’t you remember what Ward wrote about me in Newsweek?’ I had to call the Newsweek offices in Washington to find the quote: Ward had written a small gossipy item six years earlier about McCarthy in a section of the magazine called Periscope that was filled with little oddities, and he depicted Gene as walking like a priest. The senator kept on asking me for days if knew how a priest walked. Ward came, of course, and McCarthy spent time with him, but he resented every minute of it. 

Most important in my demise were my constant attempts in the speeches I occasionally drafted—the campaign had hired someone much more gifted in the role—to get the candidate to include a call for a guaranteed annual income of $12,000 for every American in need. My staff had been pushing me to get the senator on board, but the operatives running the campaign, most of whom were already measuring their White House offices, thought the idea was political suicide. I finally got McCarthy to sign off on the proposal, and it was included in a speech he was to give in early March, when the polls were showing that President Johnson, who had hesitated about running in New Hampshire and was a write-in candidate, was not going to win big, if he won at all.

By this late date—the primary was on March 12—McCarthy’s surge was a great political story and my office was responsible for chartering a commercial jet and billing the reporters on each leg as the candidate gave speeches to constantly growing crowds. The job was getting less and less fun for me, because with success came more reporters and more demands for unwanted interviews, and less access to the man himself for me. But the final draft of the speech included the call for a guaranteed annual income and the press release I wrote for the forty or so journalists that were following the campaign and traveling with us emphasized it. Some of the old-timers asked me again and again whether the senator was really going to do it. The speech was going to begin late and the reporters for morning newspapers and the wires had to file early to make the first edition. I assured them all that the commitment was in.

But McCarthy dropped the commitment when he delivered the speech. I was off stage and as the senator went by he asked me, “Whatcha think?” I said D-minus. Wrong answer, as he and I knew. At the bar that night, two or three of Gene’s old pals told me they had been upstairs in the hotel having a drink with Gene and some of his wife’s money boys and I was doomed. And so I was. 

I hung in past the primary, in which McCarthy came within a few points of the president, who then announced that he would not run for re-election. That would bring Bobby Kennedy into the race, and surely undercut the McCarthy campaign. I had done the best I could, but I was never inside the decision-making process of the campaign, just as John Kirby and others in the press operation in the White House will never be, either.

To pretend that President Biden is focused on trying to reach the American people by different means, and not avoiding the give-and-take of a news conference open to all, as a White House aide told the New York Times, is just horseshit.