October 9, 2019

Daryl Morey feels your pain, Sam Wachs.

Wachs said he and his wife were kicked out of a preseason NBA game in Philadelphia between the hometown 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association on Tuesday night because they were holding signs that read "Free Hong Kong" and "Free HK." Wachs said the signs were initially confiscated by security, but when they resorted to chanting "Free Hong Kong," they got the boot.

The ejection comes after Morey, the Houston Rockets' general manager, tweeted and deleted a post supporting Hong Kong's pro-democracy, anti-Beijing protest movement. China was rattled by the tweet and several businesses, including the Chinese Basketball Association, ended their relationship with the Rockets. Beijing suspended the broadcast of NBA preseason games, and the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA cares event in Shanghai scheduled for Wednesday was canceled. NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey's right to free speech, but the league largely seems to be cowering from the situation. The NBA apologized to China's fan base, which is a huge driver of a revenue for the league. Do the math, as they say.

It's unclear if security was directed to throw Wachs and his wife out of the arena by the Sixers (who did not comment on the matter) or the league. Either way, the ejection seems to have a struck a nerve. Tim O'Donnell

Update: The 76ers said in a statement that the fans were thrown out of the arena for disruption, including "verbal confrontations" with others in attendance, not because of the signs. A source told ESPN that the team was not aware of the incident until after the ejection.

10:26 p.m.

The fourth Democratic debate will be make-or-break for many of the 12 candidates on stage Tuesday night, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to leave an impression. Curiously, though, he specifically drew praise from conservatives by pulling to the right of his more progressive opponents.

"Buttigieg, who opened with a civility pitch but got lost in the progressive shuffle, clearly sees an opening in the center again," tweeted American Conservative editor and Week contributor Jim Antle. Liz Mair, a libertarian and Republican communications strategist, praised Buttigieg's answer to an impeachment question that came early in the debate, when the mayor observed that after an inquiry, "think about where we'll be — vulnerable, even more torn apart by politics than we are right now."

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative writer for The Washington Post, marveled at Buttigieg's performance, tweeting that the mayor was "hitting this out of the park, out of the town." Matt Lewis, a conservative columnist at The Daily Beast, added: "I don't pretend to know how this exchange plays on the left, but ... Pete Buttigieg is winning this debate."

The daughter of the late Republican Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain, also cheered Buttigieg when he pushed back on former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke's gun buyback proposal:

Many Democrats were, needless to say, less thrilled by Mayor Pete. "Buttigieg is getting closer to clinching the Republican nomination," quipped Farron Cousins, a co-host of the progressive Ring of Fire talk show. Jeva Lange

9:58 p.m.

Presidential debates can be tense, to say the least, especially during primaries when friends can wind up pitted against each other. So there's always room for moments of levity. And during Tuesday night's Democratic primary debate in Westerville, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden — who are generally of different persuasions on a number of issues — delivered a brief, but delightful moment on stage.

Biden was railing against President Trump's foreign policy, particularly the trust he places in Russian President Vladimir Putin when, while gesticulating, he pointed toward Sanders as he said Putin's name. Sanders' wit kicked in, as he joked that Biden was suggesting he was Putin, leading to a good chuckle from the audience while the two candidates hugged it out. Tim O'Donnell

9:56 p.m.

If President Trump is re-elected, the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will be a thing of the past, former Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday night.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to break NATO up, and Trump is playing right into his hands by saying he believes Putin's claim that he did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election over the assessment of his own intelligence community, Biden said. The fact is, "we have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy," he continued, and "operates out of fear for his own re-election."

NATO's Article 5 states that an attack on one member is an attack on all of them, and Trump has questioned whether or not he'll "keep that sacred commitment," Biden said. "If he is re-elected, I promise you, there will be no NATO. Our security will be vastly underrated, we'll be in real trouble." Catherine Garcia

9:13 p.m.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is no friend of billionaires, which had the potential to make things pretty awkward at the Democratic debate on Tuesday night, seeing as he was sharing the stage with one. When CNN moderators asked Sanders about his claims that billionaires shouldn't exist, the question seemed to directly target former hedge fund entrepreneur Tom Steyer, who is worth an estimated 1.6 billion and was standing only a few feet away.

Sanders played it safe, saying "if you're asking me that the wealthy should start paying their fair share of taxes ... that's exactly what I believe." But Steyer wasn't shy when he was given the floor to respond: "Sen. Sanders is right," he said. "There have been 40 years where corporations have bought this government and those 40 years have meant a 40-year attack on the rights of working people and specifically on organized labor. The results are as shameful as Sen. Sanders said."

Steyer called the American income gap "absolutely wrong and absolutely unfair" and pointed out that he was "one of the first people on this stage to propose a wealth tax." Steyer added that he would undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and major corporations. "Our government has failed," he went on. "That's why I'm running for president."

Steyer's agreement with Sanders even surprised some of the other candidates on stage. "Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires," joked Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Jeva Lange

9:06 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was put on the defensive earlier during the Democratic primary debate Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio.

After Warren gave a somewhat evasive response to a question about whether she would raise taxes on the middle class to fund Medicare-for-All, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was the first to strike. Buttigieg criticized Warren for not providing a "yes or no" answer to a "yes or no" question, before launching into a defense of his own plan, which would allow people to stay on their private plans if they so choose.

"I don't understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage to everybody is to obliterate private plans," Buttigieg said to Warren.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) then got a few digs in, as well, calling Warren's plan a "pipe dream," and former Vice President Joe Biden also explained why he doesn't support Medicare-for-All either. Tim O'Donnell

9:02 p.m.

After several exchanges between candidates about Medicare-for-all and who will pay for it, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) declared that it was time to talk about something that has been swept under the rug.

"This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle, and not nearly one word with all of these discussions about health care on women's access to reproductive health care, which is under full-on attack in America today," she said. "It's outrageous." Several states have "passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care and it is not an exaggeration to say women will die," she added. "Poor women, women of color, will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with our bodies."

Women make up the majority of the population in the United States, Harris continued, and "people need to keep their hands off of women's bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives. Let's talk about that. That is a significant health care issue in America day." Harris may have wanted to talk about it, but moderator Erin Burnett did not, as she abruptly changed the subject to jobs.

When it was his turn to speak, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said he had to talk about reproductive rights, as they are "under attack" across the United States. "God bless Kamala, but you know what? Women should not be the only ones taking up this cause and this fight," Booker said. "Men, it's not just because women are our daughters and our friends and our wives, it's because women are people and people deserve to control their own bodies." When he was finished, Burnett said the moderators will get to the issue later in the night — stay tuned. Catherine Garcia

8:40 p.m.

Each of the 12 candidates on the Democratic debate stage Tuesday night were undoubtedly hoping to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd, but there's at least one thing they can all agree on: impeaching President Trump.

The fourth debate of the 2020 primary season kicked off with the dozen candidates answering opening questions pertaining to the House's impeachment inquiry. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren led the charge, announcing that "no one is above the law and that includes the president." Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders agreed, contributing: "Mitch McConnell has got to do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate."

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who only recently added his voice to the chorus calling for Trump's impeachment, jumped on the pile, saying "this president is the most corrupt president in modern history." California Sen. Kamala Harris quipped that "as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it" and that Trump "has committed crimes in plain sight."

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang also agreed that Trump ought to be held accountable. As South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg put it, "The president has left Congress with no choice."

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the only active House member on stage, said she was initially resistant to the calls for impeachment and warned that if it was "hyper-partisan," the inquiry could "further divide an already terribly divided country," although she also ultimately agreed it ought to go forward.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the line of questioning, though: "I am getting a lot of eye-rolling already from conservative voters watching re: impeachment," wrote Elizabeth Dias, the national religion correspondent for The New York Times. Jeva Lange

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