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Trump’s Competitors Seek To Set Themselves Apart Without Scorning MAGA

Trump’s Competitors Seek To Set Themselves Apart Without Scorning MAGA

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

As…

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Trump’s Competitors Seek To Set Themselves Apart Without Scorning MAGA

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

As more Republicans challenge Donald Trump in the race for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, the former president’s dramatic impact on the GOP is becoming clearer.

(Left) Former President Donald Trump addresses the crowd during a 2024 election campaign event in Columbia, S.C., on Jan. 28, 2023. (Right) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to guests at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas on Nov. 19, 2022. (Logan Cyrus, Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Everyone from Nikki Haley to Vivek Ramaswamy has sought to link themselves to “America First,” as they court Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement.

Those Republican hopefuls face a daunting task. They have to distinguish themselves from Trump and woo many of his fans, all while mounting campaigns that can compete in the general election.

How are Trump’s competitors trying to set themselves apart from the former president—and how can they do so without alienating his fiercely loyal base?

While it’s early, some patterns are already being established.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Iowa voters in Des Moines, Iowa, on March 10, 2023. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

DeSantis’s Delicate Dance

While Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t yet committed to a primary bid, he’s widely seen as Trump’s most formidable 2024 competitor.

The Florida governor has so far avoided responding to digs directed at him by Trump, although his online supporters, some anonymous, have gone to bat for him.

Paul Ingrassia, a Trump administration veteran and Cornell Law school graduate and lawyer, told The Epoch Times that DeSantis has relied on “digital acolytes” to fight for him because he hasn’t yet entered the race.

He wants to have these other guys do his dirty work for him while remaining above the fray,” Ingrassia, himself a prominent online Trump supporter, stated in a March 13 interview.

“People in the Trump orbit several months ago decided their best strategy would be to charge hard at former Trump supporters who’ve publicly aligned with DeSantis, in an effort to intimidate us into silence,” David Reaboi, a political consultant and well-known DeSantis advocate, said in a March 14 interview with The Epoch Times.

This is crucial to their effort because they’re terrified of more people peeling off and abandoning Trump for a far more sane option—one who’s far more likely to succeed on every issue of policy.

Both men seemed to agree that DeSantis is being pitched as a more competent version of Trump. In addition, DeSantis’s sometimes critical stance on the COVID-19 response could distinguish him from the former president.

Florida’s surgeon general has drawn attention to adverse events linked to the COVID-19 vaccines that were rolled out as a result of Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed.” That elicited a critical reaction from U.S. health authorities.

Ingrassia points out that a large majority of the population has taken at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. He believes DeSantis’s messaging on the issue may not play well with the public at large, even if it resonates with Republican primary voters.

DeSantis, he added, “was just as much of a rule follower during the early months of COVID as anyone.”

“As more time goes on, the vaccine will be an increasing political liability—as will Trump’s outsourcing of COVID to the expert class,” Reaboi said.

“Picking a fight on COVID policy with Ron DeSantis, of all people, is inadvisable.”

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. on March 3, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ramaswamy’s ‘America First 2.0’

Ramaswamy, a venture capitalist, has explicitly pitched his campaign as the next development in Trump-inspired politics.

He calls his platform “America First 2.0.” His priorities include ending affirmative action, splitting from China, and rejecting the push for central bank digital currencies.

“I respect a lot of what President Trump did,”  Ramaswamy told The Epoch Times in a Feb. 23 interview. “He acknowledged problems in this country on both sides of the aisle that no one else had acknowledged before him. The question is where we go from here.”

Reaboi said he doesn’t have any stance on Ramaswamy.

“I understand that people do this for name recognition or to fleece some money off of gullible donors, but just about any other use of their money, focus, and time would be better spent in policy activism or building institutions to nurture and support a new cadre of policy professionals,” he said.

Ingrassia believes Ramaswamy would fall short against Trump even if his message reaches “the more educated faction of the GOP.”

I think he’s in over his head,” Ingrassia said.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at The Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 25, 2022. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Pompeo Criticizes ‘Larger-Than-Life Personalities’

Another figure, Mike Pompeo, also is setting himself apart from Trump.

The former secretary of state and CIA director, who has said he’s considering a run, can make a strong case for himself as a longtime critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Democrats and Republicans are starting to unite against the CCP, vindicating concerns of earlier China watchers.

Yet, in a March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Pompeo said America’s “greatest threats are here,” not abroad.

He made what seemed like anti-Trump comments, saying conservatives “should not look for larger-than-life personalities.”

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Tyler Durden Thu, 03/16/2023 - 18:25

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International

Beloved mall retailer files Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will liquidate

The struggling chain has given up the fight and will close hundreds of stores around the world.

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It has been a brutal period for several popular retailers. The fallout from the covid pandemic and a challenging economic environment have pushed numerous chains into bankruptcy with Tuesday Morning, Christmas Tree Shops, and Bed Bath & Beyond all moving from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

In all three of those cases, the companies faced clear financial pressures that led to inventory problems and vendors demanding faster, or even upfront payment. That creates a sort of inevitability.

Related: Beloved retailer finds life after bankruptcy, new famous owner

When a retailer faces financial pressure it sets off a cycle where vendors become wary of selling them items. That leads to barren shelves and no ability for the chain to sell its way out of its financial problems. 

Once that happens bankruptcy generally becomes the only option. Sometimes that means a Chapter 11 filing which gives the company a chance to negotiate with its creditors. In some cases, deals can be worked out where vendors extend longer terms or even forgive some debts, and banks offer an extension of loan terms.

In other cases, new funding can be secured which assuages vendor concerns or the company might be taken over by its vendors. Sometimes, as was the case with David's Bridal, a new owner steps in, adds new money, and makes deals with creditors in order to give the company a new lease on life.

It's rare that a retailer moves directly into Chapter 7 bankruptcy and decides to liquidate without trying to find a new source of funding.

Mall traffic has varied depending upon the type of mall.

Image source: Getty Images

The Body Shop has bad news for customers  

The Body Shop has been in a very public fight for survival. Fears began when the company closed half of its locations in the United Kingdom. That was followed by a bankruptcy-style filing in Canada and an abrupt closure of its U.S. stores on March 4.

"The Canadian subsidiary of the global beauty and cosmetics brand announced it has started restructuring proceedings by filing a Notice of Intention (NOI) to Make a Proposal pursuant to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada). In the same release, the company said that, as of March 1, 2024, The Body Shop US Limited has ceased operations," Chain Store Age reported.

A message on the company's U.S. website shared a simple message that does not appear to be the entire story.

"We're currently undergoing planned maintenance, but don't worry we're due to be back online soon."

That same message is still on the company's website, but a new filing makes it clear that the site is not down for maintenance, it's down for good.

The Body Shop files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

While the future appeared bleak for The Body Shop, fans of the brand held out hope that a savior would step in. That's not going to be the case. 

The Body Shop filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States.

"The US arm of the ethical cosmetics group has ceased trading at its 50 outlets. On Saturday (March 9), it filed for Chapter 7 insolvency, under which assets are sold off to clear debts, putting about 400 jobs at risk including those in a distribution center that still holds millions of dollars worth of stock," The Guardian reported.

After its closure in the United States, the survival of the brand remains very much in doubt. About half of the chain's stores in the United Kingdom remain open along with its Australian stores. 

The future of those stores remains very much in doubt and the chain has shared that it needs new funding in order for them to continue operating.

The Body Shop did not respond to a request for comment from TheStreet.   

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Government

Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super…

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Are Voters Recoiling Against Disorder?

Authored by Michael Barone via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The headlines coming out of the Super Tuesday primaries have got it right. Barring cataclysmic changes, Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be the Republican and Democratic nominees for president in 2024.

(Left) President Joe Biden delivers remarks on canceling student debt at Culver City Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2024. (Right) Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump stands on stage during a campaign event at Big League Dreams Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 27, 2024. (Mario Tama/Getty Images; David Becker/Getty Images)

With Nikki Haley’s withdrawal, there will be no more significantly contested primaries or caucuses—the earliest both parties’ races have been over since something like the current primary-dominated system was put in place in 1972.

The primary results have spotlighted some of both nominees’ weaknesses.

Donald Trump lost high-income, high-educated constituencies, including the entire metro area—aka the Swamp. Many but by no means all Haley votes there were cast by Biden Democrats. Mr. Trump can’t afford to lose too many of the others in target states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Majorities and large minorities of voters in overwhelmingly Latino counties in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and some in Houston voted against Joe Biden, and even more against Senate nominee Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas).

Returns from Hispanic precincts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts show the same thing. Mr. Biden can’t afford to lose too many Latino votes in target states like Arizona and Georgia.

When Mr. Trump rode down that escalator in 2015, commentators assumed he’d repel Latinos. Instead, Latino voters nationally, and especially the closest eyewitnesses of Biden’s open-border policy, have been trending heavily Republican.

High-income liberal Democrats may sport lawn signs proclaiming, “In this house, we believe ... no human is illegal.” The logical consequence of that belief is an open border. But modest-income folks in border counties know that flows of illegal immigrants result in disorder, disease, and crime.

There is plenty of impatience with increased disorder in election returns below the presidential level. Consider Los Angeles County, America’s largest county, with nearly 10 million people, more people than 40 of the 50 states. It voted 71 percent for Mr. Biden in 2020.

Current returns show county District Attorney George Gascon winning only 21 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan primary. He’ll apparently face Republican Nathan Hochman, a critic of his liberal policies, in November.

Gascon, elected after the May 2020 death of counterfeit-passing suspect George Floyd in Minneapolis, is one of many county prosecutors supported by billionaire George Soros. His policies include not charging juveniles as adults, not seeking higher penalties for gang membership or use of firearms, and bringing fewer misdemeanor cases.

The predictable result has been increased car thefts, burglaries, and personal robberies. Some 120 assistant district attorneys have left the office, and there’s a backlog of 10,000 unprosecuted cases.

More than a dozen other Soros-backed and similarly liberal prosecutors have faced strong opposition or have left office.

St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner resigned last May amid lawsuits seeking her removal, Milwaukee’s John Chisholm retired in January, and Baltimore’s Marilyn Mosby was defeated in July 2022 and convicted of perjury in September 2023. Last November, Loudoun County, Virginia, voters (62 percent Biden) ousted liberal Buta Biberaj, who declined to prosecute a transgender student for assault, and in June 2022 voters in San Francisco (85 percent Biden) recalled famed radical Chesa Boudin.

Similarly, this Tuesday, voters in San Francisco passed ballot measures strengthening police powers and requiring treatment of drug-addicted welfare recipients.

In retrospect, it appears the Floyd video, appearing after three months of COVID-19 confinement, sparked a frenzied, even crazed reaction, especially among the highly educated and articulate. One fatal incident was seen as proof that America’s “systemic racism” was worse than ever and that police forces should be defunded and perhaps abolished.

2020 was “the year America went crazy,” I wrote in January 2021, a year in which police funding was actually cut by Democrats in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. A year in which young New York Times (NYT) staffers claimed they were endangered by the publication of Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) opinion article advocating calling in military forces if necessary to stop rioting, as had been done in Detroit in 1967 and Los Angeles in 1992. A craven NYT publisher even fired the editorial page editor for running the article.

Evidence of visible and tangible discontent with increasing violence and its consequences—barren and locked shelves in Manhattan chain drugstores, skyrocketing carjackings in Washington, D.C.—is as unmistakable in polls and election results as it is in daily life in large metropolitan areas. Maybe 2024 will turn out to be the year even liberal America stopped acting crazy.

Chaos and disorder work against incumbents, as they did in 1968 when Democrats saw their party’s popular vote fall from 61 percent to 43 percent.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times or ZeroHedge.

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 23:20

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Government

Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The…

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Veterans Affairs Kept COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate In Place Without Evidence

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reviewed no data when deciding in 2023 to keep its COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place.

Doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington in a file image. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said on May 1, 2023, that the end of many other federal mandates “will not impact current policies at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

He said the mandate was remaining for VA health care personnel “to ensure the safety of veterans and our colleagues.”

Mr. McDonough did not cite any studies or other data. A VA spokesperson declined to provide any data that was reviewed when deciding not to rescind the mandate. The Epoch Times submitted a Freedom of Information Act for “all documents outlining which data was relied upon when establishing the mandate when deciding to keep the mandate in place.”

The agency searched for such data and did not find any.

The VA does not even attempt to justify its policies with science, because it can’t,” Leslie Manookian, president and founder of the Health Freedom Defense Fund, told The Epoch Times.

“The VA just trusts that the process and cost of challenging its unfounded policies is so onerous, most people are dissuaded from even trying,” she added.

The VA’s mandate remains in place to this day.

The VA’s website claims that vaccines “help protect you from getting severe illness” and “offer good protection against most COVID-19 variants,” pointing in part to observational data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that estimate the vaccines provide poor protection against symptomatic infection and transient shielding against hospitalization.

There have also been increasing concerns among outside scientists about confirmed side effects like heart inflammation—the VA hid a safety signal it detected for the inflammation—and possible side effects such as tinnitus, which shift the benefit-risk calculus.

President Joe Biden imposed a slate of COVID-19 vaccine mandates in 2021. The VA was the first federal agency to implement a mandate.

President Biden rescinded the mandates in May 2023, citing a drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. His administration maintains the choice to require vaccines was the right one and saved lives.

“Our administration’s vaccination requirements helped ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations,” the White House said.

Some experts said requiring vaccination meant many younger people were forced to get a vaccine despite the risks potentially outweighing the benefits, leaving fewer doses for older adults.

By mandating the vaccines to younger people and those with natural immunity from having had COVID, older people in the U.S. and other countries did not have access to them, and many people might have died because of that,” Martin Kulldorff, a professor of medicine on leave from Harvard Medical School, told The Epoch Times previously.

The VA was one of just a handful of agencies to keep its mandate in place following the removal of many federal mandates.

“At this time, the vaccine requirement will remain in effect for VA health care personnel, including VA psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical support assistants, engineers, housekeepers, and other clinical, administrative, and infrastructure support employees,” Mr. McDonough wrote to VA employees at the time.

This also includes VA volunteers and contractors. Effectively, this means that any Veterans Health Administration (VHA) employee, volunteer, or contractor who works in VHA facilities, visits VHA facilities, or provides direct care to those we serve will still be subject to the vaccine requirement at this time,” he said. “We continue to monitor and discuss this requirement, and we will provide more information about the vaccination requirements for VA health care employees soon. As always, we will process requests for vaccination exceptions in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.”

The version of the shots cleared in the fall of 2022, and available through the fall of 2023, did not have any clinical trial data supporting them.

A new version was approved in the fall of 2023 because there were indications that the shots not only offered temporary protection but also that the level of protection was lower than what was observed during earlier stages of the pandemic.

Ms. Manookian, whose group has challenged several of the federal mandates, said that the mandate “illustrates the dangers of the administrative state and how these federal agencies have become a law unto themselves.”

Tyler Durden Sat, 03/09/2024 - 22:10

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