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GOP, Dem senators confront Neera Tanden over ‘vicious’ personal attacks

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Senators from both sides of the aisle confronted President Joe Biden‘s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Neera Tanden, at a Wednesday Senate Budget Committee hearing over past statements and personal attacks she has made on social media. This is the second day of her confirmation hearings.

Notably, the committee’s chair, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at one point during the hearing brought up Tanden’s “vicious” personal attacks against Republicans and progressives. She herself once referred to the Vermont independent as “crazy.”

“I think most of us understand that it’s important that we debate the issues and try to minimize the level of personal and vicious attacks that seem to be so prevalent all over this country today,” Sanders said before noting that Republicans had sent him a letter expressing their concern about her past attacks.

“But of course your attacks were not just made against Republicans,” Sanders said. “There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally. So as you come before this committee to assume a very important role in the United States government, at a time when we need serious work on serious issues and not personal attacks on anybody, whether they’re on the left or the right, can you reflect a little bit about some of the decisions and the personal statements that you have made in recent years?”

Tanden, who used to run the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) think tank, replied that she now realized the hurt that her comments have caused and that she feels “badly” about it.

“And I really regret it and I recognize it’s really important for me to demonstrate that I can work with others and I look forward to taking that burden and I apologize to people on either the left or right who were hurt by what I’ve said,” she added.

However, the Vermont senator said the point is not about whether people were hurt by her words, but rather the actual words.

“It’s not a question of being hurt, we’re all big boys,” Sanders said. “But it’s important that we make the attacks expressing our differences on policy, that we don’t need to make personal attacks no matter what views somebody may hold.”

One moment that also grabbed attention was when Republican Sen. John Kennedy (La.) accused Tanden of calling the Vermont independent “everything but an ignorant s—,” when talking about the cornucopia of tweets she had deleted.

Tanden interjected, saying: “That is not true, Senator.”

Cutting in for a second, ranking member Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) joked: “I wouldn’t have said ‘ignorant.'”

Kennedy then repeatedly pressed Tanden about if she meant what she said in her controversial tweets, but she wouldn’t directly answer his of “did you mean them,” saying “I feel badly about them” at one point during the exchange.

Graham during the hearing also confronted her about her previous statements, saying they make her a divisive nominee.

“Her scorn was not limited to Republicans,” the South Carolina Republican said, before reading aloud one of Tanden’s tweets that said: “Russia did a lot more to help Bernie than the DNC’s random internal e-mails did to help Hillary.”

“The point I’m trying to make here is that in a time of unity, we’re picking somebody with those sharp elbows, and there’s going to be a consequence for that, hopefully on our side,” Graham added.

Also during the hearing, Sanders brought up concerns about major corporate donations Tanden solicited while serving as the head of CAP, such as from large tech companies and banks. Tanden vowed that those relationships would not affect her decision-making if confirmed as director of the OMB.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village

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Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.

But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.

Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19

The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.

Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China

The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”

Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World

The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”

In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.

While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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