Americans are by now broadly aware of the threat posed by Chinese-owned TikTok, including its threat…
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TikTok’s Latest Assault: Ripping Off American Artists and Songwriters

Americans are by now broadly aware of the threat posed by Chinese-owned TikTok, including its threat to U.S. national security.

In recent days, we’ve witnessed in real time another emerging TikTok threat reaching the headlines:  The threat it poses to intellectual property protections, which undergird America’s status as the most artistically and musically productive and influential nation in human history.

Universal Music Group, however, has decided to stand up and fight back by removing its catalog of songs – including artists like Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish – from TikTok.

Tone-Deaf TikTok has built its aggressive worldwide empire largely on the backs of music created by American artists, as even its corporate leadership openly admits.  As TikTok’s very own…[more]

February 08, 2024 • 12:44 PM

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As First Debate Approaches, Is GOP Race Already Over? Print
By Byron York
Wednesday, August 23 2023
No candidate at this stage of the race has ever surged from such deficits to win the Republican nomination.

The first debate of the Republican presidential primaries is upon us. The first time the candidates meet on a debate stage is always a milestone in primary races. So this moment offers a chance to assess where the contest stands.

The short version: It's still about former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Only now, it boils down to two issues. One, is it already over? Has Trump already destroyed DeSantis, and many political commentators are just pretending it hasn't happened? Or two, is the current moment the product of such bizarre, unprecedented circumstances that the race will change dramatically  will have to change dramatically, and possibly in DeSantis' favor  in the next six to nine months?

"Having combed through our own polling and focus group data over the past several months, and all the public data, there is no evidence that there currently even is a race for the Republican nomination," said one veteran GOP strategist, who is not affiliated with any presidential campaign, in an email exchange. "It is of course possible that one could develop, but right now there is no race, and that's not an attempt to denigrate any of the candidates  that's just a statement of fact."

Certainly the national polls support that point. Trump's lead over DeSantis, as this is written, is 39.9 points in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls. In third place is Vivek Ramaswamy  a huge improvement over his seventh-place position in July. But Ramaswamy is 47.8 points behind Trump. Rounding out the top five are Mike Pence, 49.3 points behind Trump, and Nikki Haley, 51.1 points behind the former president.

No candidate at this stage of the race has ever surged from such deficits to win the Republican nomination.

Looking at the trajectory of the race, Trump's support stood at 45.9% on March 30, the day he was first indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump shot up in the polls afterward, and his ratings have bounced around in the mid-50s since then. Three subsequent indictments do not seem to have affected his standing with supporters at all.

DeSantis has been the opposite story. His support peaked at 31.3% on Jan. 22 and has been slowly falling ever since. It now stands at 14.8%, less than half of what it was at the beginning of the year. 

It has become a standard of political commentary to say DeSantis is running a terrible campaign. He has no personal skills, the critics say. The campaign was overspending and underdelivering. There was no coherent message. The critique has reached the conventional wisdom stage, with Trump declaring, "The DeSanctimonious campaign is DEAD!"

But the conventional wisdom does not fully describe what has happened to DeSantis in this race. While it is reasonable to point out the deficiencies in his campaign, and in his own abilities, it's also true that the Trump indictment effect, without precedent in American politics, hit him, too. It didn't just raise Trump's standing in the Republican contest, it also lowered his chief rival's standing. People in the DeSantis campaign see the day of the first Trump indictment as the day their momentum stopped. 

It's an insane situation. You're running for public office. Your opponent is indicted. And the indictment hurts you, and helps him. "Every time a Democrat partisan prosecutor indicts the former Republican president on bizarre or over-hyped charges, a lot of Republicans take that personally  some even take it as an indictment of them," said the veteran, unaffiliated, GOP strategist. "And I've found that even 'Trump hostile' Republicans agree that the Democrats are weaponizing the judicial system for their partisan purposes."

That is a headwind that was not created by anything the DeSantis campaign did. And if it ever eases  say, when Democratic prosecutors put Trump on trial in an election year  it will not be because of anything DeSantis did, either. He is essentially along for the ride, as is the rest of the field.

Another headwind for DeSantis is the enormous amount of negative advertising targeting him from all sides. A recent Fox News article noted that DeSantis is "the No. 1 most attacked presidential candidate in the race so far," having "endured over $20.2 million in negative independent expenditure spending."

The DeSantis campaign sees this as a measure of the threat he presents to both Trump and Biden. "More money has been spent attacking Ron DeSantis than either the current or former president combined," said campaign spokesman Bryan Griffin in an email exchange, "and we fully expect the candidates at the debate to primarily come after Ron DeSantis because he is the greatest threat to every other Republican primary contender."

Meanwhile, in Iowa, the first voting state, the DeSantis campaign is showing signs of improvement and, perhaps, a small rise in the polls. The campaign is leaner and more organized, with DeSantis holding more small, Iowa-style events where he has more contact with voters. 

But the success of anything DeSantis does in Iowa and beyond is still dependent on what happens with Trump. While some observers believe the spectacle of Trump on trial will finally cause some of his supporters to abandon him, it's also possible it could have an effect like the first indictment, only stronger. 

The bottom line, as the race enters a new stage, is that for there to actually be a race, something has to change. The DeSantis campaign disputes the public polling averages that show Trump with huge leads, but they concede Trump is ahead and that the margins are significant. DeSantis appears fully prepared to trail Trump for the rest of this year, counting on a major change to occur in mid-January, when voting actually begins. At that point, Iowans will no longer be expressing their preference to pollsters but actually deciding to cast a vote for an actual candidate. Until then, though, DeSantis will have to fight through the suspicion that the race is already over.


Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner

COPYRIGHT 2023 BYRON YORK

Notable Quote   
 
"Mitch McConnell changed the direction of the world. He stopped the destruction of the Republican Party by opposing, delaying and weakening and ultimately defeating the drive for 'campaign finance reform' that would have left union bosses as the sole power in America. Senator McConnell herorically sculpted the present Supreme Court and saved the second amendment, religious liberty and free speech.…[more]
 
 
— Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform
 
Liberty Poll   

Assuming that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is able to get on most 2024 ballots as a third-party or independent candidate for President, from which major party candidate do you believe he will take the most votes?