Monday, October 18, 2021

Last Call For The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The more you realize that the GOP is the party of white supremacy, and that everyone still involved with supporting the party is a white supremacist, full stop, the more the actions of the GOP make sense. And as much as candidates like Glenn Youngkin in Virginia try to convince voters that he's not in the party of white supremacists, the actual, avowed white supremacists keep showing up at his campaign events to support him.

A routine campaign stop for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin turned chaotic on Saturday night after the candidate's team was forced to boot a local Republican leader and apparent white nationalist from the event, causing a scene that a spokesperson called "antithetical" to the Republican hopeful's message.

The incident happened just before Youngkin was slated to give a stump speech to a crowd of "Latinos for Youngkin" at a local restaurant, when campaign officials approached a man, named Fredy Burgos, who was wearing both a red pro-Trump hat emblazoned with "Build the Wall" and a pin promoting white nationalist and Unite the Right rally attendee Nicholas Fuentes.

Burgos is a longtime far-right activist and former local Republican party official who made waves during the Trump years with a series of bombastic statements that earned him plenty of enemies in local conservative circles. The Washington Post, reporting on a 2018 drive to oust him from his post on the Fairfax County Republican Party committee, wrote that he was a "verbal bomb-thrower whose attacks against Muslims, immigrants and others have turned off moderates."

He even appeared alongside several of Fuentes' white nationalist followers — known online as Groypers — at a Loudoun County School Board meeting recently, which has become a local flashpoint in the nationwide right-wing campaign to ban anti-racist lessons in public schools.

As Saturday's Youngkin event was getting underway, Burgos, who sported a thick mustache and vintage suit vest for the occasion, made a short-lived walk around the inside of the venue, only to be forced out after Salon inquired about his pin and associations.

Notably, Burgos said he only became a Youngkin supporter recently, after Virginia state Senator-turned-"toxic [Youngkin] surrogate" Amanda Chase lost her bid to Youngkin. Prior to the loss, she had taken to calling herself "Trump in heels."
Despite Burgos being booted from the event Saturday, he told Salon he remains a steadfast supporter of the candidate and that he hopes to appear at future rallies.

"I'm a supporter of the ticket," Burgos told Salon after being removed from the "Latinos for Youngkin" event. "They are concerned about the [Build the Wall] hat. I think that they have a problem thinking that other people may have a problem with the hat
Burgos will be back at Youngkin's rallies, because Youngkin needs the votes of Burgos and other Virginia white supremacists. You'd better 100% believe that if Youngkin wins, he'll be implementing the GOP agenda against women, Black folk, LGBTQ+, Latino, and reality.

The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60,000 range, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: While Manchin’s demands would dramatically weaken one of President Biden’s signature programs to help working families, they also would reduce the package’s overall costs.That would make it easier for the pivotal senator to support a final package, potentially higher than Manchin's previous $1.5 trillion top line. 
At the same time, progressives would have a hard time accepting the changes Manchin is demanding.They'd also fundamentally alter a program the president funded for one year in the $1.9 COVID-19 relief package passed in March. 
Manchin's office declined to comment on Axios' report.

The big picture: Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) held a call with House centrist lawmakers last Wednesday in which the senators detailed some of their specific concerns about Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan. They also discussed the White House’s decision to link the package to approval of the separate $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill — a demand of House progressives. 
Sinema told lawmakers she will not vote for the social spending plan until the House passes the infrastructure bill, according to Reuters. Neither Manchin nor Sinema endorsed Biden's compromise price for the social spending plan in the $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion range. Manchin also continues to privately tell colleagues the president’s Clean Electricity Performance Program, a cornerstone of Democrats' plan to achieve zero-carbon electricity, is a non-starter.

Go deeper: While Manchin has previously indicated he wanted progressive to pick one of Biden's three programs to help working families, he now seems more favorably disposed to policies that target families with young children in need. In addition to the pared-back CTC, Manchin is open to Biden's $450 billion plan to subsidize day care and offer free universal preschool, the people familiar with the matter told Axios. Manchin, however, wants to impose stricter income caps on the day care subsidies while keeping preschool free for everyone, as it already is in West Virginia. 
The senator is less interested in the $225 billion to $450 billion paid family leave proposal or $400 billion for a new program to provide elder care, according to people familiar with the matter.

So right now we have a single US senator (or two) making the decisions for 100% of Americans, and the trajectory is permanently in a downward spiral. Every week Manchin and Sinema make a new demand, Democrats "scramble" to cut the bill, and then the goalposts get moved the following week.

The point of course, and I have been telling you guys this for months now, is for the pair to kill both bills in a way that they can blame Joe Biden and "progressives". They're getting closer and closer to that point with every massive cut to the bill. Eventually the response from Rep. Pramila Jayapal is going to be "Fuck Joe Manchin" and the game ends with the "moderates" scoring a decisive and historic win, and we all get nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Now, here's the truly perverse part.

No matter how much Manchin and/or Sinema pare down the Build Back Better plan, no Republican will vote for it, no Republican will allow cloture on it, and no Republican will pay a price for blocking the bill during the final vote. They are the real villains here.

The Democrats though? They will be decimated, just like in 2010 and 2014. The end result will be most likely be Republican control of Congress.

Change my mind, please, because we're heading for the abyss here and there's little chance of coming back in my lifetime if we crumple here.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

 It's good to know GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger isn't ruling out a January 6th Commission subpoena for Donald Trump, but nobody honestly things that will happen, for reasons I've stated multiple times in the past.
A Republican on the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol on Sunday did not rule out issuing a subpoena for former President Donald Trump as it seeks to obtain information from his allies. 
"I don't know. I think if I had that answer now, I'd probably go in, you know, and not be able to see all the pieces," Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" when asked if the committee could do a thorough investigation without subpoenaing Trump. "If we subpoena all of a sudden the former president, we know that's going to become kind of a circus so that's not necessarily something we want to do up front. But if he has pieces of information we need, we certainly will." 
The House has issued subpoenas to allies of the former President, including former administration official Kash Patel and former chief of staff Mark Meadows. The committee announced last week it was moving forward to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena. 
Asked Friday what his message is to those who defy subpoenas from the January 6 select committee, President Joe Biden told CNN's Kaitlan Collins, "I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable." 
"I do, yes," Biden said when asked if he thinks they should be prosecuted by the Department of Justice. 
But DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley said Friday that the department will "make its own independent decisions in all prosecutions based solely on the facts and the law. Period. Full stop."
Trump certainly possesses information, but the Commission will never subpoena him. The second he does, his domestic terrorist cultists will immediately try to harm or kill people across the country in a mass orgy of violence. 

Should they do it anyway?  Of course. Trump needs to be dragged in front of the cameras and fried like a cheese curd. But it won't happen.

People will be hurt or killed if he does. It really is that simple.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Last Call For The Big Lie, Con't

Former President Donald Trump dropped yet another absolutely bonkers statement about the 2020 results in Arizona, demanding an election redo or that he be declared the winner.

Trump has continued to cling to the big lie, and has embraced the widely-mocked Republican push for auditing the 2020 election results.

A Pima County, Arizona official said after the Maricopa County audit, “it has done a lot of damage to voter confidence across the state and across the country.”

Trump is now glomming onto claims of election fraud in Pima County, declaring falsely once again that “the election was Rigged and Stolen from the Republican Party in 2020, and in particular, its Presidential Candidate.”

He claimed that the Justice Department had this information since last November and didn’t act. You may remember that in December, Attorney General Bill Barr unequivocally stated, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”

Trump concluded his statement by declaring, “Either a new Election should immediately take place or the past Election should be decertified and the Republican candidate declared the winner.
It's ridiculous, and before you say "It's Trump, it's not our problem" understand that as long as he commands an entire political party and tens of millions of voters, he very much is our problem.

If he's now demanding elections to be overturned, flat out, either Arizona's GOP will do so, or they will at least try.

Eventually, somebody in a red state is going to actually do it.

School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Con't

I know that like in California's recall election where the Democratic governor was "doomed", it seems to me that Terry McAuliffe is suffering from the same level of "doom" in next month's gubernatorial race, likely because Virginia Republicans keep "helping" Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin like this.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) encouraged a group of students to go against their school’s policy and not wear masks.

“If nobody in Rappahannock complies [with the mask mandate], they can’t stop everyone,” Good said to a government class of 20 students Thursday, Rappahannock News reported. “If I was ya'll, I’d say none of ya'll wear a mask. What are they gonna do? They’re still going to have school.”

The state of Virginia mandates that every school must require masks regardless of students' vaccination status. The meeting between the class and Good had to take place outside because Good refused to wear a mask in the school.

Along with discouraging masks, Good claimed that masks are ineffective and that coronavirus vaccines are more dangerous for teenagers than the virus itself.

The Food and Drug Administration has deemed the vaccine safe for those above the age of 12.

“Being able to expose students to different world views is important on both sides,” Rappahannock County High School Principal Carlos Seward, who was at the event, said, according to the local outlet. “We don’t endorse one way or the other.”

Other topics discussed were Good’s anti-abortion stance, his thoughts about colleges being taken over by “the left,” his anti-critical race theory position and his support for video cameras in classrooms.

Superintendent Shannon Grimsley told the local outlet she believes the students will not listen to Good’s remarks regarding violating the face mask policy.

“Our students and families are very smart, competent individuals who have seen in real time the impact of increasing chances of being quarantined or causing others to be quarantined, as well as the potential of losing privileges, such as the ability to host events and fun activities should numbers increase too much,” she said.

However, the school previously had trouble with compliance and said events would get canceled if coronavirus cases didn’t go down. There are currently 54 students and staff in quarantine.
The conventional wisdom bleats are all about how "concerned, angry parents" are going to tip the election -- and the country in 2022 -- to the Republicans. Several dozen students in quarantine, but an elected official is telling kids don't wear masks when there's a potentially lethal disease going around.

That seems like the party that cares about kids, right? 
Parents should totally vote for them.

Sunday Long Read: The Man Who Hated Hillary

Tech guru and self-proclaimed "ethical hacker" Robert Willis has revealed himself to be "Hacker X" in our Sunday Long Read from Ars Technica's Ax Sharma, the man behind the domestic disinformation empire on Facebook and other social media to destroy Hillary Clinton in 2016.
This is the story of the mastermind behind one of the largest "fake news" operations in the US.

For two years, he ran websites and Facebook groups that spread bogus stories, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Under him was a dedicated team of writers and editors paid to produce deceptive content—from outright hoaxes to political propaganda—with the supreme goal of tipping the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

Through extensive efforts, he built a secret network of self-reinforcing sites from the ground up. He devised a strategy that got prominent personalities—including Trump—to retweet misleading claims to their followers. And he fooled unwary American citizens, including the hacker's own father, into regarding fake news sources more highly than the mainstream media.

Pundits and governments just might have given Russia too much credit, he says, when a whole system of manipulating people's perception and psychology was engineered and operated from within the US.

"Russia played such a minor role that they weren't even a blip on the radar," the hacker told me recently. "This was normal for politicians, though… if you say a lie enough times, everyone will believe it."

Previously dubbed "Hacker X," he's now ready to reveal who he is—and how he did it.

The fake news impresario who has now decided to break his silence is "ethical hacker" Robert Willis.

Some in the information security community might know "Rob" today as an active member who speaks at conferences and works with the Sakura Samurai ethical hacking group. (The Sakura Samurai have, on many occasions, responsibly disclosed vulnerabilities in the computer systems of government and private entities. I have previously interacted with Rob on about two occasions, minimally, when I had questions regarding Sakura Samurai's vulnerability writeups.)

But back in 2015, Willis was just another hacker looking for an IT job. He had already received one job offer—but still had an interview scheduled at one final company.

"I was thinking of not showing up to the interview," he told me. "I had, after all, just committed to another company."

That final company was opaque—it would not reveal either its name or the actual job duties until Willis showed up in person. But the opacity was itself intriguing. Willis decided to do the interview.

"I showed up at the location, which was a large corporate building. I was given directions to wait downstairs until I was collected. The secretiveness was intriguing. It may have turned some people off, but I love an adventure. I had not been given any information on the job other than that they were very excited, because to find someone like me was very rare—I had tons of random, overlapping, highly technical skills from years of wearing multiple hats at smaller private companies."

Even before his ethical hacking days at Sakura Samurai, Willis had gained an extensive technical skill set in networking, web applications, hacking, security, search engine optimization (SEO), graphic design, entrepreneurship, and management. He knew how to take advantage of search engine algorithms, once, he said, getting a random phrase to the No. 1 spot on one engine within 24 hours. "Many will say this is/was impossible, but I have the receipts," he said, "and so do other credible people."

At the interview site, a man came down to get him, and they rode the elevator to a floor with a nearly empty office. Inside waited a woman beside three chairs. They all sat. His hosts finally revealed the name of their company: Koala Media. The moment felt like an orchestrated Big Reveal.

"I wasn't scared but excited at how crazy this was already turning out [to be]," Willis told me. "I listened. I was told that there were big plans for the office I was sitting in and that they had already hired the initial writers and editor for the new operation."

The interviewers at the company told Willis that "everything was to be built with security in mind—at extreme levels."

Should he get the job, his primary role would be to rapidly expand a single, popular website already owned by Koala Media. For this, they needed someone with Willis' diverse skill set.

Then the interview took a political turn. "They told me that they were against big companies and big government because they are basically the same thing," Willis said. They said they had readers on the right and the left. They said they were about "freedom." That sounded OK to Willis, who describes himself as a social liberal and fiscal conservative—"very punk rock, borderline anarchist."

Then the interviewers told him, "If you work for us, you can help stop Hillary Clinton."

"I hated the establishment, Republicans, and Democrats, and Hillary was the target because she was as establishment as it got and was the only candidate that was all but guaranteed to be running on the main ticket in the future 2016 cycle," said Willis. "If I were to choose a lesser evil at the time, it would have, without a doubt, been the Republican Party, since I had moved to the new city due to the Democrats literally destroying my previous home state. It felt like good revenge."

Willis says he had no indication that the company that was about to recruit him was extreme or would become so in the future. In his perception, the company was just "investigative" with regard to its journalism.

When Koala offered him the job, he took it.


My issues are of course manifold: perhaps an avowed master of disinformation, gleefully taking credit for the operation against Hillary in 2015 and 2016 and doing everything he can in the article to downplay the documented Russian Fancy Bear operation and refusing to cleanly identify his employers?

He may not be telling the full truth as recounted here.

The one thing I do believe is his incandescent hatred of Hillary Clinton. That part I don't question.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

Michael Wolff's new book on Jeffrey Epstein basically says Epstein was going to cut a deal with prosecutors by flipping on Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and then, well, you know.

Jeffrey Epstein believed he could make a deal with prosecutors by revealing secrets about former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, according to a new book by Michael Wolff, reported by The Daily Mail.

The disgraced financier and convicted sex offender was arrested in July 2019 on sex trafficking charges, and died a month later in his jail cell by suicide.

In his new book, "Too Famous: The Rich, the Powerful, the Wishful, the Damned, the Notorious - Twenty Years of Columns, Essays and Reporting," Michael Wolff reveals Epstein's thinking in his final few months.

According to the book, Epstein believed that The Justice Department had arrested him, under the instruction of then-President Donald Trump, because they wanted information on Bill Clinton, who had flown on his private jet multiple times.

"The White House, through the Justice Department, was looking to press a longtime Republican obsession, and Trump ace-in-the-hole, and get Epstein to flip and reveal the sex secrets of Bill Clinton," Wolff wrote, according to The Daily Mail.

Epstein also believed New York prosecutors who were investigating Trump's business affairs might have ordered his arrest to "pressure him to flip on Trump," Wolff reportedly suggests in the book.

Wolff said that there were "many likely holes in these theories," but Epstein believed that there could have been "a deal to be made," The Daily Mail said.

Wolff revealed that months before Epstein's death, he visited the billionaire at his infamous $75 million mansion in New York City, The Daily Mail said.

During Wolff's visit, Steve Bannon reportedly called Epstein on the phone and told him that he had feared him during Donald Trump's presidential campaign because he thought the financier knew secrets about Trump.

"You were the only person I was afraid of during the campaign," Bannon told Epstein.
"As well you should have been," Epstein reportedly replied.
Would be nice if one of these enterprising journalist types found out the actual truth.

The Good Package, Con't

President Joe Manchin is making more cuts to the Build Back Better Program, this week eliminating the renewable energy climate change provisions in order to protect West Virginia coal and gas barons.

The most powerful part of President Biden’s climate agenda — a program to rapidly replace the nation’s coal- and gas-fired power plants with wind, solar and nuclear energy — will likely be dropped from the massive budget bill pending in Congress, according to congressional staffers and lobbyists familiar with the matter.

Senator Joe Manchin III, the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia whose vote is crucial to passage of the bill, has told the White House that he strongly opposes the clean electricity program, according to three of those people. As a result, White House staffers are now rewriting the legislation without that climate provision, and are trying to cobble together a mix of other policies that could also cut emissions.

A White House spokesman, Vedant Patel, declined to comment on the specifics of the bill, saying, “the White House is laser focused on advancing the president’s climate goals and positioning the United States to meet its emission targets in a way that grows domestic industries and good jobs.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Manchin, Sam Runyon, wrote in an email, “Senator Manchin has clearly expressed his concerns about using taxpayer dollars to pay private companies to do things they’re already doing. He continues to support efforts to combat climate change while protecting American energy independence and ensuring our energy reliability.”

West Virginia’s other senator, Republican Shelley Moore Capito, said she was “vehemently opposed” to the clean electricity program because it is “designed to ultimately eliminate coal and natural gas from our electricity mix, and would be absolutely devastating for my state.”

The $150 billion clean electricity program was the muscle behind Mr. Biden’s ambitious climate agenda. It would reward utilities that switched from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and penalize those that do not.

Experts have said that the policy over the next decade would drastically reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating the planet and that it would be the strongest climate change policy ever enacted by the United States.

“This is absolutely the most important climate policy in the package,” said Leah Stokes, an expert on climate policy, who has been advising Senate Democrats on how to craft the program. “We fundamentally need it to meet our climate goals. That’s just the reality. And now we can’t. So this is pretty sad.”

The setback also means that President Biden will have a weakened hand when he travels to Glasgow in two weeks for a major United Nations climate change summit. He had hoped to point to the clean electricity program as evidence that the United States, which is historically the largest emitter of planet-warming pollution, was serious about changing course and leading a global effort to fight climate change. Mr. Biden has vowed that the United States will cut its emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

The rest of the world remains deeply wary of the country’s commitment to tackling global warming after four years in which former President Donald J. Trump openly mocked the science of climate change and enacted policies that encouraged more drilling and burning of fossil fuels.
President Manchin has spoken, so shall it be. You knew that when he was elected to lead both the Senate and the White House in November, I don't know why anyone thought the Biden plan's death by a thousand Manchin statements was ever going to play out differently.

Don't say you weren't warned.

The Return Of Kynect...For Now

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has kept a major campaign promise: the return of the state's wildly successful Obamacare health exchange Kynect, eliminated by previous Gov. Matt Bevin because it was so successful and Bevin needed to prove that Kynect was a failure. When Bevin couldn't, he just killed it. Now Beshear has brought it back.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, with help from U.S. Health and Human Services Secrertary Xavier Becerra, rolled out the reopening Friday of Kynect, the state-based health insurance exchange.

Friday was the start of open enrollment for existing recipients of Medicaid, the government health plan for low-income people and those with disabilities. Open enrollment for private health plans on Kentucky’s exchange is from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.

The exchange was started by Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, under the federal Affordable Care but was shuttered in favor of the federal health exchange by his successor, former Gov. Matt Bevin.

“I’m really excited about today. Kynect was the gold standard,” Andy Beshear said in a Zoom news conference with Becerra. “Health care coverage is neither red nor blue, Democrat or Republican. It is necessary for survival in a pandemic and it is necessary for Kentucky to thrive.”

Becerra praised Kynect, calling it a “Kentucky-made, Kentucky-driven and Kentucky-based product” and that no one knows better the health care needs of Kentuckians than Beshear. He labeled Beshear a “true champion of health care.”

Beshear said the goal is to get health insurance to 280,000 uninsured Kentuckians.

Beshear announced last year that he was bringing back Kynect, the online health exchange where people can shop for and buy health insurance, as well as sign up for Medicaid.

Kentucky received national praise for the program that brought about one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the country. Bevin, though, said it was too costly and redundant of the federal website to buy health insurance. He stopped it in 2017.

Beshear said Friday that Kentuckians now can browse plans and explore benefits at that take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Compared with current federal exchange offerings, Kentuckians will benefit in 2022 from more health care insurance providers and the opportunity to tailor coverage to address their unique needs, said Beshear.

He said the change is expected to save Kentuckians at least $15 million a year.
I'd take advantage of it while you can,  I fully expect the KY GOP supermajority to move Kynect under the aegis of Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office in January and then dismantle it in the spring, but it will be nice for a couple of months to live in a state when not everyone in political power wants poor people to die in order to stop burdening the commonwealth.
Don't expect Kynect to last more than a few months. Use it if you need to.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Last Call For A Political Assassination In Britain

Long-time Tory MP Sir David Amess has died from stab woulds he received from a 25-year-old suspect in Essex on Thursday as he was meeting with his constituents, according to the BBC.

Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after being stabbed at his constituency surgery in Essex.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack at a church in Leigh-on-Sea.

They said they recovered a knife and were not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "our hearts are full of shock and sadness" at the loss of "one of the kindest" people in politics.

Sir David, 69, had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

Mr Johnson said Sir David had an "outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable".

"David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future. We've lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague," he said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was "a great man, a great friend, and a great MP, killed while fulfilling his democratic role".

Sir David, who represented Southend West, was holding a constituency surgery - where voters can meet their MP and discuss concerns - at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North.

Essex Police said they received reports of a stabbing shortly after 12:05 BST and found a man injured.

He was treated by emergency services but died at the scene.
Not much to say here other than political violence in America that we've seen over the last five years has in no way been limited to the US. 

Politics are dangerous.

A Case Of MAXimum Punishment

The Justice Department needed a head to roll on Boeing's 737 MAX airliners considering the company's flawed aeronautical designs ended up killing hundreds in to separate crashes. It looks like that particular cranium will belong to Boeing's former chief technical pilot, Mark Forkner.

A federal grand jury in Texas on Thursday indicted Mark Forkner, 49, Boeing’s former chief technical pilot on the 737 MAX program, charging him with fraud.

This is the only criminal charge so far resulting from a Department of Justice investigation into two deadly MAX crashes that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The government reached a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with Boeing in January, in which the company acknowledged fraud and criminal misconduct during certification of the MAX.

The DPA slapped Boeing with a relatively small fine of $244 million and specifically exonerated Boeing’s senior management by stating that they had not facilitated the misconduct. However, the agreement cited Forkner and his deputy as being involved.

Thursday’s indictment alleges Forkner deceived both the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing’s airline customers by withholding information about the MAX’s new flight-control system — called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

“In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” said Chad Meacham, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 MAX flight controls.”

A trial could shed more light on why flaws in the MCAS were overlooked during certification.

Forkner is charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison on each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.

He is expected to make his initial court appearance Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. Forkner’s attorney David Gerger said Thursday he will have no comment before then.

Forkner’s role with the MAX from the jet’s launch in 2011 through its certification in 2017 was to win approval from the FAA and regulators around the world for the MAX’s technical manuals and pilot training on the new airplane.

He was required to identify for regulators all important differences between the controls on the MAX versus the previous 737 model.

Forkner told the FAA that pilots would never have to deal with MCAS and didn’t need to know about it. He persuaded them to remove all mention of it from the pilot handbook
Pilots very much did have to deal with the MCAS system and those who didn't know how to use it potentially got their planes "augered into the ground" as Chuck Yeager would say. Ignoring the system in order to sell the plane, well, the Boeing executives may have gotten away with it, but it doesn't look like Forkner will.  He's headed for the rest of his life in prison quite possibly, and I'm not exactly losing sleep over it.

Not like I'm flying anytime soon anyhow.

Orange You Glad He's Back, Con't

Donald Trump continued his complete takeover of the GOP as his own personal party, again saying Thursday that if Republicans don't find a way to "fix" the election that was "stolen" from him, that it would be a shame if Trump voters didn't show up at the polls anymore.
Former president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan.

With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda.

But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump said, part of a barrage of statements on the election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that he sent out this week. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

The former president’s threat drew winces among GOP operatives and U.S. senators gathered for a donor retreat for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Palm Beach, Fla., this week. Many still blame Trump for the loss of two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia in runoff elections early this year, saying his false claims of fraudulent ballots kept people from coming to the polls.

“It gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again,” said one top party strategist, who like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Already, many GOP candidates are following Trump’s lead, echoing false allegations that the election results were manipulated and raising the prospect that fraud will taint other elections.

In a private speech at the retreat Thursday, Trump cast himself as the GOP’s savior, saying he had brought the party back from the brink of disaster and helped Republicans hold seats on Capitol Hill — failing to mention that the party lost the White House and control of both the House and Senate under his presidency.

“It was a dying party, I’ll be honest. Now we have a very lively party,” he said, to a room of senators, donors and lobbyists, according to a recording of the event obtained by The Washington Post, before boasting of all the endorsements and telephone town halls he had done in the 2020 cycle.

He then railed against Republicans who had spoken negatively about him — naming Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) at an event paid for by the NRSC — and urged the party to “stick together,” with Trump as the de facto leader.

“They cheat like hell, and they stick together,” Trump said of Democrats. “The Republican Party has to stick together.”

And he reiterated his claims that the 2020 vote was tainted by fraud, praising GOP-controlled states that have passed new voting restrictions since then.

“It’s a terrible thing what they did in Georgia and other states,” he said.

“You look at Texas, you look at a lot of states — they are correcting all the ways we were all abused over the last election . . . last two elections if you think about it,” Trump added.

In a statement Thursday, Trump spokesman Taylor Budo­wich said, “There is no one in the country that does more to increase voter engagement and participation than President Trump. Through his endorsements and massive Save America rallies, President Trump is single-handedly rebuilding the Republican Party at the ballot box.”
Everyone left in the GOP works for Donald Trump now, or he'll pull the plug on the ones who don't play ball. He knows he can get away with it, too.
What are they going to do, tell him no?
As I said earlier this month, the one thing that needs to happen to allow Dems to keep Congress in the midterms is happening in a deluge right now, and that's Donald Trump unleashed on the GOP and purging anyone who might be able to win a competitive general election. 

I'm glad he's back. Voting against him is the one thing that might unite everyone else.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Last Call For The McCabe Coda

Andrew McCabe, the FBI deputy director that testified against Trump after being fired days before his pension would have been fully vested, has won back the money Trump took from him out of spite.

Hours before he was scheduled to retire in 2018, Andrew G. McCabe, then the F.B.I.’s deputy director, was fired by the Justice Department, depriving him of his pension and prompting cheers from President Donald J. Trump, who had been hounding him over his role in the Russia investigation.

On Thursday, the department reversed Mr. McCabe’s firing, settling a lawsuit he filed asserting that he was dismissed for political reasons. Under the settlement, Mr. McCabe, 53, will be able to officially retire, receive his pension and other benefits, and get about $200,000 in missed pension payments.

In addition, the department agreed to expunge any mention of his firing from F.B.I. personnel records. The agreement even made clear that he would receive the cuff links given to senior executives and a plaque with his mounted F.B.I. credentials and badge.

The Justice Department did not admit any wrongdoing. But the settlement amounted to a rejection by the Biden administration of how Mr. McCabe’s case had been handled under Mr. Trump, who perceived Mr. McCabe as one of his so-called deep-state enemies and repeatedly attacked him. A notice of the lawsuit’s dismissal was also filed in federal court.

“Politics should never play a role in the fair administration of justice and Civil Service personnel decisions,” Mr. McCabe said in a statement. “I hope that this result encourages the men and women of the F.B.I. to continue to protect the American people by standing up for the truth and doing their jobs without fear of political retaliation.”

Mr. McCabe thanked his lawyers at the firm of Arnold & Porter, who will receive more than $500,000 in legal fees paid by the government. The firm intends to donate the money to its foundation, which provides scholarships to minority law students, among other things.

“What happened to Andrew was a travesty, not just for him and his family, but the rule of law,” said Murad Hussain, one of Mr. McCabe’s lawyers. “We filed this suit to restore his retirement benefits, restore his reputation and take a stand for the rights of all civil servants, and that’s exactly what this settlement does.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
I fully expect Trump's cultists to find a way to go after McCabe, whether it's Hannity and his flying monkeys demanding blood, the nutjobs in the congressional GOP holding up legislation until his settlement is reversed, or individual "concerned citizens" paying him a visit.

Maybe this will have a happy ending, and out of gratitude, McCabe will come clean on the Trump-era FBI and the rotten apples still in the agency.

I don't honestly know.  And that scares me.

Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Con't

House Democrats are making their strongest pitch yet to reform Section 230 protections for social media giants like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Whether or not the bill will get any Republican support, despite Donald Trump screaming about Section 230 for years, remains to be seen.

Top Democratic lawmakers unveiled a major proposal Thursday that could hold digital platforms like Facebook and Twitter legally responsible for making personalized recommendations to users that lead to their physical or emotional harm.

The bill comes amid a groundswell of scrutiny of how algorithms can amplify harmful content in the wake of revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen about Facebook’s risks. Her disclosures to the media and policymakers have shined a spotlight on the way Silicon Valley’s often-opaque systems can surface dangerous material.

The legislation marks one of the most significant threats in years to the tech industry’s liability protections under Section 230, a decades-old law that shields a broad range of digital services — from giants like YouTube and Instagram to smaller sites like Etsy and Nextdoor — from lawsuits for hosting and moderating user content.

The bill is set to be introduced Friday by four leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — which holds broad jurisdiction over tech issues including Section 230.

“Designing personalized algorithms that promote extremism, disinformation and harmful content is a conscious choice, and platforms should have to answer for it,” Pallone said.

The legislation would carve out Section 230 so that a digital service could face liability if they knowingly or recklessly make a personalized recommendation that “materially contributed to a physical or severe emotional injury to any person.” The bill would apply to recommendations that use algorithms to boost certain content over others based on users’ personal information.

Lawmakers have introduced dozens of proposals to revamp or roll back tech companies’ liability protections in recent years, but almost all of them haven’t gone anywhere.

Only one measure has been signed into law, FOSTA-SESTA — a proposal to open tech platforms up to liability for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking, which cleared former president Donald Trump’s desk in 2018. And just one other, a bill to make it easier to sue companies that host child exploitative material known as the EARN IT Act, has advanced out of committee since.

Attempts to weaken Section 230 have faced heavy opposition from the tech industry and some civil society groups, who consider it a foundational law that helped create the modern Internet.

But the latest proposal — the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act — boasts some of the most powerful lawmakers in the space, instantly making it one of the top contenders of all the Section 230 bills to potentially become law.
It’s the first bill targeting Section 230 led by Pallone, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a close ally to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He ultimately controls what Section 230 bills get marked up and voted on by the panel and will surely look to advance his own proposal.

It seeks to sidestep thorny and politically divisive debates about what content should be left up or taken down by focusing instead on how platforms recommend content to users, and how those choices can lead to real-world harm.

Democrats and Republicans have sparred for years over whether companies like Facebook over- or under-enforce many of their policies. Democrats say major platforms haven’t done enough to crack down on misinformation, hate speech and other online harms, while Republicans accuse the platforms of stifling conservative viewpoints.
Again, the problem is there's no way this will pass the Senate filibuster unless there's specific language that does prevent digital media from stopping Republican bigotry and hate speech.  Trump will torpedo it anyway, because he wants to be the one to sign the bill into law, not Biden.

Besides, it may not even get out of the House.

The techbros have too much money.

School Of Hard-Right Knocks, Cincy Edition

Ohio perennial losing Senate candidate Josh Mandel got himself tossed from a Boehner Country school board meeting in Butler County after attacking school board members and refusing to wear a mask.

U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted out of a Butler County school board meeting Monday evening after school officials said he staged an event to "disrupt a public meeting."

A video of the meeting is available on the Lakota Local Schools' YouTube channel. At nearly an hour and a half into the recording, school board candidate Darbi Boddy said she would like to have Mandel speak on her behalf.

Mandel walked up to the microphone and began by criticizing the district for not publicizing its finances on the Ohio Checkbook, a website created during his tenure as state treasurer that details spending by public institutions. Board president Kelley Casper interrupted Mandel and asked him to stop speaking.

As Mandel continued, Casper announced that the board would take a recess and the video cuts out.

"I'm just trying to stand up for kids," Mandel said in a video he posted on Twitter.

Public hearing participants must be residents of the Lakota Local School District, according to the board's bylaws, or "be the resident's designee and be introduced as such, and have a legitimate interest in the action of the Board."

Mandel, a Republican from the Cleveland area, is running in a crowded primary to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. He paints himself as a fighter who isn't afraid to disrupt the status quo and often uses social media as a platform for misinformation and controversial statements that attract attention.

"Forcing kids to wear masks in schools is a total trampling of the freedom and liberty of the kids and the parents," he said in an interview on Tuesday. "It is not the role of a school official or politician to tell moms and dads how to raise their kids."

In another video of the incident, provided by Mandel's campaign, Mandel spoke about the district's mask requirement and gender politics. Casper told the crowd that the board's bylaws allow Boddy to designate someone to speak on her behalf, but instead she had stated she "wanted to yield her time."

Mandel is then escorted out of the meeting by two Butler County Sheriff's officers. According to the board's bylaws, the board's presiding officer may request the assistance of law enforcement officers to remove "a disorderly person when that person's conduct interferes with the orderly progress of the meeting."

Mandel did this knowing he'd get thrown out, and knowing he'd be able to get it on video. He's in a race to see which white male asshole can be the biggest, most hateful, most Trumpy moron in the race so that red Ohio will elect him in 2022. He's up against equally awful bigot and antisemite JD Vance, author of "Hillbilly Elegy" and the soon to be upcoming tale, "How I sold my soul to Donald Trump and lost an election."

It's free publicity when Mandel pulls stunts like this. Expect a lot more of this as the race heats up over the next six months and change as we get closer to the primary in early May. Using a school board meeting as a prop is going to be the least of their sins.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Last Call For The Good Package, Con't

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent argues that Democrats need to get in gear when it comes to telling people what's actually in the Biden Build Back Better plan rather than harping on the cost.
A big problem Democrats face right now is that congressional sausage making is so repellent and ugly that it risks alienating voters precisely when Democrats need them to be open to the details of their proposals.

In this regard, new polling released this week should light a fire under them — and prompt them to pass President Biden’s agenda as quickly as possible.

A new CNN poll released Wednesday, for instance, finds that only 25 percent of Americans believe they and their family will be better off if the two bills making up Biden’s agenda pass. Meanwhile, 32 percent say they’ll be worse off, and 43 percent say they’ll be about the same.

Among independents, who may be souring on Biden, only 20 percent say the bills will make them better off. While those numbers are grim, the poll does find some good news for Biden: 50 percent of Americans approve of his performance.

Yet the poll finds that only 41 percent of Americans want the bills to pass in their current iteration, which would include the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social policy reconciliation bill. Another 30 percent want them in scaled down form, with less spending.

In one way, that’s not necessarily bad news. That such a large majority wants something to pass — and that large percentages are agnostic on whether it will help or hurt them — both suggest that only a small minority are dug in against it.

So many Americans might be open to approving of it once it passes and they learn more about it. But that means Democrats should hurry up and make that happen.

Their basic dilemma is also underscored in a new CBS News poll. It finds soaring support for individual provisions in Biden’s agenda, with 88 percent of Americans supporting the government negotiating down prescription drug prices, 84 percent supporting expanding Medicare to cover dental, eye and hearing treatment, and 73 percent supporting paid family and medical leave.

The CBS poll also finds general support for the two big Biden bills is in the low-to-mid 50s — good, but not nearly as good as the individual provisions. And only 36 percent say the Build Back Better social policy bill will help them or their families.

Sean McElwee, who polls regularly for the progressive group Data for Progress, thinks the message for Democrats is clear.

“The longer they sit these bills out there, and let them get attacked not just from Republicans but from the center of their party, the more difficult it is to claim these as unifying bills,” McElwee told me, adding that this clouds the case that “Biden is doing stuff for you.”
The problem remains that President Manchin and Vice President Sinema continue to call the shots, and they will continue to make sure nothing is passed, especially Sinema.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the moderate Arizona Democrat who has objected to the size and scope of President Biden’s sweeping legislative agenda, has been trailed all over the country by progressive activists seeking to pressure her. They have followed her into a bathroom in Arizona, on an airplane and even to the Boston Marathon.

But this week, with the Senate out of session, those activists would have had to travel even farther to press their case with Ms. Sinema in person — she’s in Europe on a fund-raising trip.

A spokesman for Ms. Sinema said she had participated in fund-raising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee but declined to say where or provide any additional details. One person briefed on the matter said an event had occurred in Paris. It was not clear whether her trip to Europe was at the urging of the party committee.

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, is also in Europe this week and headlined a dinner on Wednesday in London, with contribution levels as much as $36,500, according to a copy of an invitation. Ms. Sinema’s name does not appear on that invitation.

A spokesman for the Senate committee declined to comment on the events in Europe or on Ms. Sinema’s role.

Although political campaigns and parties cannot raise money from foreign nationals, American citizens living abroad can and do regularly contribute.

Ms. Sinema’s office declined to say how long she would be abroad, what countries she was visiting, how the trip was being paid for and whether she was doing any additional fund-raising for her own campaign. Her political team had reached out to set up meetings in London and Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter.

John LaBombard, a spokesman for Ms. Sinema, said she remained engaged in the negotiations in Washington.

“So far this week, Senator Sinema has held several calls — including with President Biden, the White House team, Senator Schumer’s team, and other Senate and House colleagues — to continue discussions on the proposed budget reconciliation package,” Mr. LaBombard said. “Those conversations are ongoing.”

Sinema knows what her priorities are. Passing any Infrastructure bill isn't one of them.

At all.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

House January 6th Commission members are getting closer to pursuing criminal charges against the former Trump regime members who are refusing congressional subpoenas.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to ramp up its efforts to force Trump administration officials to comply with its subpoenas as the former president attempts to stymie the inquiry.

Lawmakers who sit on the panel said they are prepared to pursue criminal charges against witnesses like Stephen K. Bannon who have balked at cooperating. And the committee may issue a subpoena as early as Wednesday to Jeffrey Clark, a Trump Justice Department official who sought to deploy department resources to support former president Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voting fraud in the 2020 election.

“We are completely of one mind that if people refuse to respond to questions without justification that we will hold them in criminal contempt and refer them to the Justice Department,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the panel, said in an interview Tuesday.

Tensions over compliance with subpoenas are increasing as the committee’s plan to hold depositions this week with Bannon and three other Trump administration officials — former chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Kash Patel, who was serving as chief of staff to the acting defense secretary on Jan. 6 — is already facing head winds.

Although lawmakers maintain that the deposition dates still stand for this week, it remains unclear whether they will happen. But talks between the committee and the former officials’ lawyers continue.

Negotiations between Clark’s legal team and the committee did not proceed as rapidly as the committee hoped, according to a person familiar with the conversations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive talks. As a result, the committee is contemplating issuing a subpoena, this person said.

A committee spokesman declined to comment on any possible future subpoenas.

Clark is considered a key witness for the panel, which is looking into Trump administration efforts to overturn election results and interfere with the peaceful transfer of power.

Clark, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil division, emerged as a key player in Trump’s push to amplify his voter-fraud claims after it was reported that the two men were in close touch in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, which was the most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.

Clark authored and circulated a draft letter dated Dec. 28, addressed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that urged officials in the state to investigate unfounded claims of fraud. The Washington Post has previously reported that in early January, Trump entertained a plan to oust acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and replace him with Clark, who was open to pursuing Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results.

Trump has urged his former aides not to cooperate with the committee and is asserting a claim of executive privilege to prevent the release of records from the National Archives after the Biden administration last week said it will not stand in the way of the information’s release.
So, negotiations continue. Because that's what you do with traitors, insurrectionists, and criminals who swore to destroy the country before and who have all but issued standing threats that the moment they get back into power, they will act upon those threats against this very Commission.
You "negotiate" with them.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

The Biden administration will finally lift border restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico starting next month.

The U.S. government next month will lift pandemic-era travel limits along the Canadian and Mexican borders for travelers who are vaccinated against the coronavirus, allowing them to enter the U.S. for non-essential activities, like tourism and family visits, for the first time since March 2020.

Starting in early November, the Department of Homeland Security will exempt travelers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from the non-essential travel restrictions in place along both U.S. land borders, senior Biden administration officials told reporters during a call Tuesday.

Those who can't provide proof of vaccination will continue to be banned from crossing the land borders if their travel is deemed to be "non-essential." U.S. citizens, green card holders and individuals traveling for medical care have been exempted from the non-essential restrictions since they were instituted.

Starting in January 2022, the U.S. will require all travelers — including those engaging in essential travel, like truck drivers — to show proof of vaccination before entering a land border crossing, the officials said.

"This phased approach will provide ample time for essential travelers such as truckers and others to get vaccinated, enabling a smooth transition to this new system," one administration official said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will accept paper or digital proof of vaccination, an official said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet determined which vaccines the U.S. will recognize, the officials added.

Tuesday's announcement is likely to be welcomed by Mexican and Canadian travelers, as well as U.S. border community leaders, who have been urging the Biden administration for months to lift the travel limits, which have hurt local economies that rely on tourism and commerce.

"There's been a lot of struggle in the community because of the closure, not just financial struggle but a lot of families who have been separated and a lot of literal emotional hardship," Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who represents the Texas border city of El Paso, told CBS News. "This is very welcomed news."

You notice Mexican and Canadian citizens aren't screeching about "mah freedumbs" over this, they'll be vaccinated and come in to the States to do what they want to do. I don't know why though, Canada's a hell of a lot safer than the US as far as the virus.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Last Call For The Road To Gilead, Kentucky Edition

Abortion went before the Supreme Court again today, this time with Kentucky GOP AG Daniel Cameron saying he has the exclusive right to defend the state's abortion ban in court if Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear will not do so, and as far as the Supremes go, they seemed to heavily side with Cameron.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in an abortion case on Tuesday, but the issue for the justices was a procedural one: Could Kentucky’s attorney general, a Republican, defend a state abortion law when the governor, a Democrat, refused to pursue further appeals after a federal appeals court struck down the law?

As the argument progressed through a thicket of technical issues, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to say yes.

“Kentucky maybe ought to be there in some form, and the attorney general is the one that wants to intervene,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said.

More important abortion cases are on the horizon. In December, the court will hear arguments on whether to overrule Roe v. Wade in a case concerning a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. And the justices have been asked to take another look at a Texas law that prohibits most abortions after six weeks, which the court allowed to go into effect last month by a 5-to-4 vote.

Tuesday’s case, Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, No. 20-601, concerned a Kentucky law that challengers said effectively banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, dilation and evacuation. The justices barely discussed the law during Tuesday’s argument.

Rather, they focused on the tangled history of the case and the complicated jurisdictional and procedural questions that arose from it.

The case started in 2018, when the state’s only abortion clinic and two doctors sued various state officials to challenge the law. The state’s attorney general at the time, Andy Beshear, a Democrat, said his office was not responsible for enforcing the law and entered into a stipulation dismissing the case against him, agreeing to abide by the final judgment and reserving the right to appeal.

The state’s health secretary, who had been appointed by a Republican governor, defended the law in court. A federal trial court struck the law down, saying it was at odds with Supreme Court precedent. The health secretary appealed, but the attorney general did not.

While the case was moving forward, Kentucky’s political landscape shifted. Mr. Beshear, who had been attorney general, was elected governor. Daniel Cameron, a Republican, was elected attorney general.

Mr. Beshear appointed a new health secretary, Eric Friedlander, who continued to defend the law on appeal. But after a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, affirmed the trial judge’s ruling, Mr. Friedlander declined to seek review from the full appeals court or the Supreme Court.

Mr. Cameron, the new attorney general, sought to intervene in the appeals court, saying he was entitled to defend the law. The appeals court denied his request, ruling that it had come too late.

On Tuesday, the justices probed the significance of the stipulation and the standards for when appeals courts should allow parties to intervene in the late stages of a case.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who has taken to asking the first questions during arguments, said “there isn’t much law” on the appropriate standards.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the Sixth Circuit was entitled to take account of the fact that the attorney general had failed to file an appeal after losing in the trial court, notwithstanding the later election of a new attorney general.

“Why would we call it an abuse of discretion for a court of appeals, after it’s rendered its judgment, to say we don’t really care what has happened in the political arena?” she asked.

Matthew F. Kuhn, a lawyer for Mr. Cameron, said his client was acting in a different capacity when he sought to intervene. He was now, Mr. Kuhn said, representing the interests of the state.

About 45 minutes into the argument, Justice Stephen G. Breyer described what he said was really going on the case. “First the Republicans are in, then the Democrats are in,” he said, “and they have different views on an abortion statute.”
He described the history of the case, ending with the ruling from the three-judge panel of the appeals court.

“At that point, for the first time, we have an attorney general who thinks it’s a pretty good statute,” Justice Breyer said. “He wants to defend it.”

“Why can’t he just come in and defend the law?” Justice Breyer asked.
At this point it's looking like a 7-2 or even 8-1 decision in favor of Cameron. I know, predicting Supreme Court decisions is a mug's game, but I don't see how he loses if Breyer is asking questions like this.
Besides, it's not going to be Kentucky that gets in the history books for ending abortion next summer, it's Mississippi. Cameron wants it so, so badly though. It would be a guaranteed trip to the Governor's mansion and possibly higher office. 
Either way, it's another mile closer to Gilead.


The Big Lie, Con't

 Georgia Republicans have found their pretext for using new state laws to take over and replace the county election board in Atlanta's Fulton County, leaving elections in the largest county in the state under permanent Republican election rule heading into 2022 midterms.

The elections office in Georgia’s heavily Democratic Fulton County said on Monday that two workers had been fired for shredding voter registration forms, most likely adding fuel to a Republican-led investigation of the office that critics call politically motivated.

The workers, at the Fulton County Board of Elections, were dismissed on Friday after other employees saw them destroying registration forms awaiting processing before local elections in November, the county elections director, Richard Barron, said.

Both the county district attorney and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s chief elections official, were asked to conduct inquiries into the matter, the chairman of the Fulton County Commission, Robb Pitts, said in a statement.

But it was Mr. Raffensperger who first revealed the allegations of shredded registration forms, issuing a blistering news release demanding that the Justice Department investigate “incompetence and malfeasance” in the agency. “After 20 years of documented failure in Fulton County elections, Georgians are tired of waiting to see what the next embarrassing revelation will be,” he said.

His declaration only underscored the political implications of the document-shredding charges, which would almost certainly have been less freighted in any other election office. Fulton County officials did not say how many forms were shredded, but Mr. Raffensperger put the total at about 300 in a county with 800,000 voters on the rolls.

While the charges of wrongdoing surfaced on Friday, it was unclear when the actual destruction of registration forms might have occurred.

Mr. Raffensperger, who won national attention for rejecting former President Donald J. Trump’s request to “find” enough ballots to overturn President Biden’s narrow win in the state, faces a difficult primary race next spring against a rival endorsed by Mr. Trump. The Fulton County elections office, meanwhile, has become the object of fury by Trump supporters who baselessly claim that Mr. Biden’s win in the state was illegitimate.

Some supporters are suing to conduct yet another review of the presidential vote in Fulton County, which includes a broad swath of metropolitan Atlanta and where 73 percent of voters favored Mr. Biden. The statewide Georgia vote has been counted three times with zero evidence of fraud.

The Republican-dominated State Legislature approved legislation this spring that gives it effective control of the State Election Board, and empowers the board to investigate legislators’ complaints about local election bodies. Fulton County was quickly selected for an inquiry that eventually could replace the elections board with a temporary superintendent who would have sweeping powers to oversee the vote.

Voting rights advocates and Democrats statewide have cast the inquiry as a first step toward a pro-Trump takeover of election machinery in the county most crucial to Democratic hopes in future elections.

“I don’t think there’s another state in the union that has a State Election Board with the power to turn a nonpartisan elections office into a partisan arm of the secretary of state’s office,” Mr. Barron, the Fulton County elections director, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Replacing elected officials with a Republican-appointed superintendent in Fulton County was always the goal of the Georgia GOP "election reform laws", much like Michigan's vile "emergency manager" law used in Flint. That turned into a major federal corruption case when that happened.

Nobody will be prosecuted here when the Republican superintendent mysteriously calls Fulton County for the GOP in 2022 and for Trump in 2024. Trump will need this foul infrastructure in place to steal the election and he's increasingly going to get it.

To do that, he's going to purge every non-loyalist from the party, especially election officials. Even in Red state counties where Trump won, the insufficiently loyal, those who refuse to fix elections so that Democrats can never win even in blood red counties, they are being removed by the dozens, if not hundreds.

An elections administrator in North Texas submitted her resignation Friday, following a monthslong effort by residents and officials loyal to former President Donald Trump to force her out of office.

Michele Carew, who had overseen scores of elections during her 14-year career, had found herself transformed into the public face of an electoral system that many in the heavily Republican Hood County had come to mistrust, which ProPublica and The Texas Tribune covered earlier this month.

Her critics sought to abolish her position and give her duties to an elected county clerk who has used social media to promote baseless allegations of widespread election fraud.

Carew, who was hired to run elections in Hood County two-and-a-half months before the contested presidential race, said in an interview that she worried that the forces that tried to drive her out will spread to other counties in the state.

“When I started out, election administrators were appreciated and highly respected,” she said. “Now we are made out to be the bad guys.”

Critics accused Carew of harboring a secret liberal agenda and of violating a decades-old elections law, despite assurances from the Texas secretary of state that she was complying with Texas election rules.

Carew said she is joining an Austin-based private company and will work to help local elections administrator offices across the country run more efficiently. She will oversee her final election in early November before leaving Nov. 12.

David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a nonprofit that seeks to increase voter participation and improve the efficiency of elections administration, said Carew’s departure is the latest example of an ominous trend toward independent election administrators being forced out in favor of partisan officials.

“She is not the first and won’t be the last professional election official to have to leave this profession because of the toll it is taking, the bullies and liars who are slandering these professionals,” said Becker, a former Department of Justice lawyer who helped oversee voting rights enforcement under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “We are losing a generation of professional expertise. We are only beginning to feel the effects.”
No expertise is needed to administer elections in Trumpland. Just loyalty to Dear Leader.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

 President Biden's vaccine mandate rules for companies with more than 100 employees was always headed for the Supreme Court, but in the meantime, Republicans like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are going to try to kill as many constituents as possible.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday prohibiting any entity, including private businesses, from imposing Covid-19 vaccination requirements on employees or customers.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in a statement.

Abbott, a Republican, said in his order that it was prompted by the Biden administration's vaccination mandate, which he said was federal overreach.

President Joe Biden announced a mandate last month requiring companies with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workforces are vaccinated or regularly tested. The Labor Department has yet to release details of the emergency rule, but Biden last week called on companies to act now and not to wait for the requirement to go into effect.

Abbott, who tested positive for Covid in August, has also resisted mask mandates and requiring proof of vaccination. Texas has continued to experience a rise in cases and crowded hospitals, prompting Abbott to invest in monoclonal antibody infusion centers.
Abbott says he'll rescind the order once Republicans in the state legislature put a bill on his desk putting the order into law, raising the specter that Abbott may call yet another special session of the legislature into order.

We'll see where this goes, but I suspect a swift Supreme intervention once the Biden administration lays down those new labor laws.


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