Tuesday Edition


1. Biden Suddenly Has Options

Biden in late January urging Congress to pass a bipartisan border deal: “I've done all I can do. Just give me the power. Give me the border patrol. Give me the people. The judges. Give me the people who can stop this and make it work right.”

Now: President Biden is now expected to issue an executive order clamping down on illegal border crossings. (Axios)

  • Biden is considering using a pre-existing section of U.S. code (212f) to crack down on illegal crossings. The president’s reportedly been mulling such a move for months, but has hesitated to pull the trigger in the face of potential legal challenges and backlash from progressives.

So why now? Immigration has overtaken inflation as voters’ top concern heading into the 2024 election.

What Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., told Axios: “[Calling on Congress to take action] was a principal point of the State of the Union, to then turn around and immediately announce an executive order would seem to me in tension with that.”

Bubba’s Two Cents: If you’re in Biden’s shoes, do you crack down on immigration like most of America wants, or do you cave to the outspoken progressive coalition that will be a pain in his ass for abandoning them? Biden’s stop-start, wishy-washy response to the catch-22 he’s found himself in is only made worse by this being an election year.

2. Conservative Media’s Freefall

The biggest conservative media sites have experienced huge declines in audience. (The Atlantic)

From February 2020 to February 2024, traffic to the ten largest conservative websites dropped 40%, according to Comscore data.

  • The Daily Caller: lost 57% of its audience.

  • Drudge Report: down 81%.

  • The Federalist: audience dropped by 91%, though its CEO disputes this figure.

  • Fox News: traffic to the most popular conservative news site only fell by 22% (23 million fewer monthly visitors than four years ago).

While digital sites across the political spectrum have seen their traffic drop, on average, conservative sites have taken a much bigger hit. Some conservatives have blamed it all on Big Tech censorship of right-leaning views.

Media reporter Paul Farhi: “A simpler explanation is that conservative digital media are disproportionately dependent on social-media referrals in the first place. Many mainstream publications have long-established brand names, large newsrooms to churn out copy, and, in a few cases, large numbers of loyal subscribers. Sites like Breitbart and Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, however, were essentially Facebook-virality machines, adept at injecting irresistibly outrageous, clickable nuggets into people’s feeds. So the drying-up of referrals hit these publications much harder.”

Conservative media sites are good at snagging engagement and clicks on social media, but many of them haven’t done a good job of building brands their audiences can trust. For instance, a 2020 Pew Research Center survey found only 4% of Republicans trust the Daily Caller.

Bubba’s Two Cents: I ran a conservative media site that (at the time) was one of the most trafficked news sites on the planet. I’ve learned firsthand that chasing clicks (or relying upon social media) doesn’t work in the long run. You inevitably end up compromising your editorial values to gin up some traffic, and the loser is the audience. In order to build a media outlet that lasts, you have to offer consistent, authentic value to audiences, not cheap clicks and outrage. That’s the whole point of what we’re trying to do here with Bubba News — because if you don’t like us, then we shouldn’t benefit.

3. Where Your Taxes Are Going This Year

Social services will make up the lion’s share of federal spending in fiscal year 2024. (Pew Research Center)

According to the Office of Management and Budget:

  • 66% of the budget will go toward education, health, Social Security, Medicare, income security, veterans benefits.

  • 13% or roughly $907.7 billion is going toward defense.

  • 13% ($888.6 billion) will go toward paying net interest on the government’s ever-ballooning debt.

  • 10% of the budget, about $726.9 billion, will cover other functions like energy, transportation and agriculture.

(Note: The percentages don't add up to 100% because they include undistributed offsetting receipts, which change the total spending amount used for the calculations.)

With the debt at historic levels, and deficits growing, Americans’ concerns about government spending have ticked up. The share who say reducing the debt should be a top priority has spiked among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Two thoughts here —

  1. The only upside to our absolute clusterf**k of a government spending situation is it's become so disastrous even people who aren’t normally fiscal hawks are starting to pay attention.

  2. It feels like there are no political options for people who think a small, efficient government is better than a big, bureaucratic one.

4. The Middle East Is Very Loud These Days

In late September, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan touted the Biden administration’s foreign policy success in the Middle East, saying the region was “quieter” than it’d been in two decades.

Since then:

  • Hamas launched a bloody attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

  • Houthi forces launched multiple missile and drone attacks from Yemen toward Israel in solidarity with Hamas. The Houthis have also attacked ships in the Red Sea.

  • These attacks have led to multiple military responses from the U.S. and its allies.

  • Last week, Israel struck an Iranian diplomatic compound, killing two senior Iranian generals.

  • Over the weekend, Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles on Israel, raising tensions throughout the region.

Here’s Tablet Magazine deputy editor Jeremy Stern’s brutal assessment of Sullivan: “His record includes a rapidly escalating stampede of failures: the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, the failure of deterrence in Ukraine, the failed Ukrainian counteroffensive, the economic war with China, America’s disastrous border policy, and now, decisively, U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran—which enjoyed the financial and diplomatic backing of Biden and Sullivan as it enabled the rape, murder, and kidnapping of thousands of Israeli Jews by a fascist death cult.

The failure of the administration’s Iran policy, which Sullivan has shaped and promoted for a decade, has in turn forced Israel into a war of regime change in Gaza, sinking hopes for a peace deal with Saudi Arabia while promising to fill Vladimir Putin’s coffers with spiking oil prices. It is arguably the most rapid-fire set of American foreign policy failures on record, and their handmaiden, if not their author, in each and every case, was Sullivan.”

Bubba’s Two Cents: The anti-war movement is booming. Who's to blame? Look at the guys running U.S. foreign policy over the last twenty years. It helps explain why so many Americans are listening to Tucker Carlson on the right and radical pro-Palestinian groups on the left.

5. NPR’s Liberal Bias?

Taxpayer-funded NPR fired back at critics accusing the organization of being biased in favor of elite progressive views, saying the accusations are “profoundly disrespectful, hurtful, and demeaning.” (The Hill)

NPR CEO Katherine Maher in a statement to employees: “Continuing to uphold our excellence with confidence, having inclusive conversations that bridge perspectives, and learning more about the audiences we serve in order to continue to grow and thrive, adding more light to the illumination of who we are as a shared body public: I look forward to how we will do this work together.”

Here are some of Maher’s past tweets:

Here’s a small sampling of NPR headlines:

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