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Exclusive: The race to replace — and escape — Boris Johnson – TalkOfNews.com

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The race to replace — and escape — Boris Johnson

#race #replace #escape #Boris #Johnson

Boris Johnson resigned last week, and just as quickly, the race began for his replacement.

Five contenders remain in the running to take over leadership of the Conservative Party, and of the United Kingdom, after Conservative members of Parliament voted in the first rounds of the leadership contest this week.

This is just the start of selecting a new party leader, a process initiated after Johnson became embroiled in one scandal too many and faced intense pressure from his party to step down. Johnson is expected to stay on as prime minister until September 5, when his successor is announced.

Who that will be is the question before Conservatives right now — and still a pretty open one, although some frontrunners are starting to emerge. The next leader will need to tackle mounting challenges: inflation and the cost of living crisis, war in Ukraine and its economic fallout, and the still-loose ends of Brexit. And the next leader will need to rehabilitate a Conservative party that’s now struggling with potential voters, and define the party away from the controversies and dramas of the Johnson government.

The last time the Conservatives did this, in 2019, Johnson was the obvious frontrunner, and the contest was all about Brexit. In 2022, the leadership contest is a lot less straightforward. A lot has been made of the ethnic diversity of the pool of contenders — something the Conservative Party has touted. But the biggest question the party is grappling with, in real time, is how much distance they want from Johnson. The answer may ultimately depend on who the Conservative Party thinks is most likely to help them win, again.

Boris Johnson looms over the race to replace him

The next UK prime minister will also come from the Conservatives, or Tories, as they’re called. The actual makeup of Parliament isn’t changing — early elections can’t be ruled out, but they’re not on the table at the moment — and the Conservatives will retain their majority and control of government. For now, the next general election isn’t happening until about spring 2024, so whoever takes over for Johnson is going to pitch themselves as the person who can best carry Conservatives to victory the next time.

But this also means the selection process is a bit exclusive — limited to Conservative MPs and dues-paying party members. In the first round of voting, contenders needed the support of at least 30 MPs to get to the second round. Six of eight met that threshold on Wednesday. Starting Thursday, candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated in each subsequent round, until two remain. Then, about 200,000 or so party members will choose between those finalists.

A few frontrunners have emerged, but it’s still early days. The five currently left in contention, in order of votes from most to least, are: Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister who helped kick off the Cabinet rebellion against Johnson last week; Penny Mordaunt, the minister of state trade policy; Liz Truss, the foreign secretary; Kemi Badenoch; who was the equalities minister until resigning during the Johnson revolt; Tom Tugendhat, a backbench MP and former Afghanistan vet whose profile rose over his criticism of the US’s withdrawal last year. (On Thursday, Suella Braverman, the attorney general, was eliminated.)

Sunak is the leader after the first and second rounds, although the second-place finisher, Penny Mordaunt, is the favorite among party members, according to a recent YouGov poll — which means if she can make it to the finals, it looks like she has a pretty good shot. Liz Truss, the third-place finisher, had been whispered about as a possible future prime minister, but she’s underperformed so far. But it’s also possible candidates could surge as they win over the votes of those candidates who’ve been eliminated.

Boris Johnson may ultimately have the biggest influence on who prevails — not because he retains personal sway, but because the deciding factor for some MPs and voters might be how much the party really wants to distance themselves from him. Candidates like Sunak and Truss raised their profiles as part of Johnson’s government, which also means they’ve stuck by him through Partygate and Johnson’s other deceptions. (Sunak was fined alongside Johnson for violating Covid-19 pandemic rules.) Plus, though both Sunak and Truss have experience to campaign on, they also have a record in government that is more readily scrutinized, including Sunak, who helped steer the UK economy through Covid, but is now facing an inflation crisis.

On the flip side, the candidates farther away from government, or with lower-profile ministerial positions, may be seen as lacking experience, which may weigh them down given the economic and political pressures the UK is facing.

This tension may be why Mordaunt has emerged as the Tory favorite. She’s served in government under multiple prime ministers (Cameron, May, Johnson), but she isn’t one of the biggest names in Johnson’s government. She was a Royal Navy reservist and former defense secretary, credentials she’s used to prove her ability to handle current crises. She was an early supporter of the UK leaving the European Union, and so meets the Brexiteer mood of the party. And she is apparently a pretty savvy operator, having built up relationships with the Tory grassroots that are seeming to pay off at just this moment.

“Some of the other candidates would offer a clear break, if you like, with the Johnson government, but they are lacking in experience,” said Kevin Hickson, a senior lecturer in British politics at the University of Liverpool. “Whereas Mordaunt might have the right kind of balance between offering something fresh, and also having relevant experience.”

Beyond Boris, the economy and culture wars are dominating the race

The Tories may want to break with Boris, but they also likely recognize he was something of a singular figure. Their historic 2019 general election victory brought new voters into a party, including seats that had traditionally gone to Labour. Brexit, and getting it done, united Conservatives last time. But this time, the economy, including inflation, is the main issue.

Most of that debate has focused on tax cuts. Johnson oversaw tax increases, partly as a response to the pandemic recovery, and now many of the people vying to replace him want to return to more traditional Conservative principles of reining in public spending and cutting taxes.

They’re also selling it as a remedy to the inflation crisis by reducing the burdens that households have to pay. As Hickson said, it’s a kind of populist strategy to promise tax cuts, but candidates are struggling to explain how, exactly, they’re going to do it — and what public expenditures might be on the line. And indeed, tax cuts may sound nice, but they could be in tension with some portion of Conservative voters and the broader public, who may be a bit more conflicted about reducing public investments.

Sunak, who oversaw the economic policies of the past few years, may face a lot of pressure on this — and, again, has a record to be scrutinized. He has said he wants to get inflation under control, and then cut taxes. Others, like Liz Truss, have said they would cut taxes “from day one.” Mordaunt has said she would cut in half the value-added tax (VAT) on fuel, as well as raising the tax threshold for lower-income earners. Some candidates have more detailed plans than others, but lowering the tax burden is a common theme, even if the details are murky, including on how they’ll compensate for the lost tax revenue.

Culture wars are also bubbling up in the race, and one of the targets, as in the US, are trans issues. Candidates like Kemi Badenoch and the now-ousted Suella Braverman are seen as two figures trying to galvanize around “anti-wokeism.” Mordaunt, meanwhile, has defended trans rights before, but in a Twitter thread and public comments, she has tried to signal that she isn’t as “woke” as her critics made her out to be.

Conservatives have also put forward their diverse slate of leadership candidates as a counterweight to what they consider more leftist “identity politics.” Of the five candidates currently remaining, two are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and four are women. The Conservative party has made an effort to diversify its representation in Parliament, and promote rising stars, although the party membership is typically a bit whiter and older.

Taken together, this all sounds a lot like a political campaign, which is exactly what it is. Tax cuts that are tricky to pull off and a debate over the definition of a woman seem a little mismatched for what the next UK prime minister is up against. The UK’s inflation is at a 40-year high, and the risks of even more energy disruptions as a result of the war in Ukraine and Russian sanctions could deepen that emergency. The war in Ukraine is likely to go on, and the UK’s next leader will need to manage that response and work with allies and partners as much as possible. And things with partners aren’t so great, as the UK has threatened to blow up the Brexit deal it negotiated with the European Union, risking tensions and a possible trade war.

The next prime minister has the power to change direction. A lot will depend on whether the next party leader wants to truly distance themself from Johnson — or if they want to follow his course, just free from the chaos and controversies of Johnson’s making.


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Exclusive: Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832 – TalkOfNews.com

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Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832

#Today #Supreme #Court #History #January

1/26/1832: Justice George Shiras Jr.’s birthday.

Justice George Shiras Jr.

The post Today in Supreme Court History: January 26, 1832 appeared first on Reason.com.

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Exclusive: Liberals Are Mad That McCarthy Named MAGA Republicans to Subcommittees on COVID and Government Weaponization – Good – TalkOfNews.com

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Liberals Are Mad That McCarthy Named MAGA Republicans to Subcommittees on COVID and Government Weaponization – Good

#Liberals #Mad #McCarthy #Named #MAGA #Republicans #Subcommittees #COVID #Government #Weaponization #Good

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced members named to two select subcommittees – one investigating the origins of COVID and another looking into the weaponization of the federal government – and Democrats are livid over the addition of certain MAGA lawmakers.

“The government has a responsibility to serve the American people, not go after them,” McCarthy said in a statement.

“The Members selected to serve on these subcommittees will work to stop the weaponization of the federal government and will also finally get answers to the Covid origins and the federal government’s gain of function research that contributed to the pandemic,” he added.

McCarthy notes that the weaponization subcommittee is necessary because congressional Democrats and the Biden administration engaged in a “dangerous pattern of the government being used to target political opponents while they neglected their most basic responsibilities.”

RELATED: Conservative Victory: Dan Crenshaw Loses Race To Chair Homeland Security Committee to Freedom Caucus Member Green

MAGA Members Named to House Select Subcommittees

A couple of names that showed up on the House select subcommittees raised the ire of Democrats, particularly those associated with the MAGA movement.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) continued reaping the fruits of a kinship with McCarthy that would make Frank Luntz blush, being named to the COVID-19 subcommittee.

Greene celebrated the appointment, stating her intention to investigate the role of gain-of-function research, the Democrat “authoritarian” lockdowns, the ineffective vaccines forced on the American people, and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s role.

Greene will also be sitting on the House Homeland Security and Oversight Committees.

Also named to the COVID subcommittee is former White House physician Ronny Jackson (R-TX), who has consistently challenged President Biden to undergo a mental fitness evaluation.

Jim Jordan (R-OH) will chair the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government after being rejected by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve on the January 6th panel.

RELATED: White House Terrified of MAGA Republicans Being Named to Committees Investigating Biden Administration

Liberals Aren’t Happy

Liberals on social media responded with outrage over MAGA Republicans representing their constituents on the select subcommittees.

Because see, it would be better to have completely partisan sham committees like the January 6th debacle.

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Democratic Congressman Don Beyer dismissed both panels as “devoted to conspiracy theories.”

This is fine by us, since these days “conspiracy theories” mostly just means “the media hasn’t admitted it yet.”

House Judiciary Democrats lambasted McCarthy for having “sold out our democracy to empower MAGA extremists.”

Richard Stengel, a former Obama administration official, also took the dismissive ‘conspiracy theory’ path.

The ‘Weaponization’ subcommittee, Stengel claims, is “a body that creates rather than investigates conspiracy theories and which will eventually undermine itself.”

We literally just watched the January 6th sham create highly directed and produced filmography rather than evidence, doctored actual evidence, created conspiracy theories, and admitted they wanted to tell people what they should believe.

If Democrats are mad about MAGA Republicans serving on committees to provide a counterpoint to Democrat and media lies, then McCarthy is most definitely doing the right thing.

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Exclusive: Why older mass shooters like the California gunmen are so rare – TalkOfNews.com

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Why older mass shooters like the California gunmen are so rare

#older #mass #shooters #California #gunmen #rare

The gunmen in both of the recent shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, California, had an unusual profile compared to most perpetrators of violent crime: They were both senior citizens.

The Monterey Park gunman, who killed 11 and injured nine before fatally shooting himself, was 72. The Half Moon Bay gunman, who killed seven people before he was arrested in what police have characterized as an act of workplace violence, is 66.

Mass shooters of that age are rare, especially those with no prior criminal record, as was the case with the Half Moon Bay gunman. (The Monterey Park gunman had one arrest in 1990 for illegal possession of a firearm.) According to data from the National Institute of Justice, mass shooters between 1966 and 2021 were on average 34 years old, and those over the age of 60 accounted for a little over 3 percent of all mass shootings, which are defined as shootings in which four or more people are killed.

The notion that people “age out of crime” is one of the most well-documented phenomena in the field of criminology. The California shootings should be seen as exceptions to that principle, not as nullifying examples, according to Ashley Nellis, co-director of research for the Sentencing Project, which advocates for criminal justice reform.

“The predictability of age is probably the most reliable point of data that we have about people who commit violent crime. Young people are just substantially more likely, and by extension, older people are substantially unlikely, to commit crime,” Nellis said. “It’s certainly a cautionary note to anybody who would be jumping to make policy based on these two events.”

Research has repeatedly shown that criminal activity increases throughout teen years, reaches its highest point at age 17, the oldest that someone can be charged with a juvenile crime, and subsides thereafter throughout life. Property crime peaks at a slightly younger age than violent crime. But even chronic offenders would be statistically likely to stop committing crime by around the age of 40, Nellis said.

There are a lot of theories as to why that might be. Typical milestones associated with getting older, like graduating or getting married, may put people on a trajectory that veers away from criminality. Brain development isn’t complete until the mid-20s, hindering decision-making that might lead to crime and risky behavior. Young people have less financial security, and people in poverty are more likely to commit crimes. Some crimes might be physically demanding, and older people just might not have the strength to carry them out.

But both gunmen in the California shootings buck the archetype of a violent criminal, and their motives still aren’t entirely clear. Investigators have said that the Monterey Park shooter frequented the dance studio where he killed his victims and that the Half Moon Bay gunman, who lived and worked as a forklift driver at a mushroom farm, was angry at the coworkers he shot. Previously, there have been mass shooters as old as 70, including a gunman who opened fire at a church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and killed three people last June.

Though age can sometimes factor into the decision to impose a less harsh sentence on young offenders, the Half Moon Bay shooter’s advanced age won’t have any bearing on the length of his sentence, as is standard practice in the US.

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He will be charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murder and sentencing enhancements for each count because of his use of a firearm, the San Mateo County district attorney announced Wednesday. If convicted on those charges, he could be facing up to life in prison without the possibility of parole. (He won’t face the death penalty, given that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, placed a moratorium on executions in the state in 2019.)

Life sentences without parole have become increasingly common in the US over the last few decades. But Nellis argues the age of older offenders like the Half Moon Bay shooter should be considered a mitigating factor when making sentencing decisions — especially given that the use of executive clemency to release them early has become nonexistent, as she writes in a 2022 report.

“Regardless of age, somebody who does commit an act of violence like this is likely to be rehabilitated, be reformed, be ready to return to society within 10 years,” she said.

Recidivism is unlikely among older people, according to data from the US Sentencing Commission, and keeping them in prison comes at a high taxpayer cost, which includes health care bills that balloon at the end of life. It’s difficult to say how much those who’ll decide the fate of the Half Moon Bay suspect will take that data into account; his initial arraignment is Wednesday.

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