Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Last Call For the Big Lie, Con't

The Big Lie is now costing Maricopa County, Arizona taxpayers millions to replace voting equipment tainted by the ridiculous "audit" farce that all but destroy the chain of custody for the machines themselves, and I swear that the county should sue the state GOP for every dollar.

Maricopa County will not reuse most of its voting equipment after it has been with Arizona Senate contractors for its audit of November election results, the county announced Monday.

The potential cost to taxpayers is so far unknown. The county is about half way through a $6.1 million lease with Dominion Voting Systems for the equipment, but it's unclear whether it will have to pay the rest of the money owed under that lease, and whether the county or Senate will be on the hook.

The county's Board of Supervisors wrote in a June 28 letter to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs that they share her concerns about whether the hundreds of vote-counting machines that they had to give the Senate's contractors are safe to use, in part considering the contractors are not certified to handle election equipment in the United States.

The Senate got the voting machines, as well as nearly 2.1 million ballots and voter information from the Nov. 3 election in April after issuing subpoenas and after a judge ruled the subpoenas were valid.

The Senate handed the machines over to contractors in an attempt to tell whether they had been hacked or manipulated during the election, even though a previous independent audit commissioned by the county found that was not the case and the machines counted votes properly.

Hobbs had written in a May 20 letter to the county's Board of Supervisors, recorder and Elections Department director that if the county tries to use the machines again, even if it performs a full analysis in an attempt to determine whether the machines were still safe to use, her office would "consider decertification proceedings." In Arizona, voting systems must be certified to be used in elections.
The county's three-year lease with Dominion for the equipment ends in December 2022. The Election Department still owed about $3.3 million as of May, since the lease is paid monthly.

The subpoenas covered all equipment used in the November election, which included most of the equipment under that lease.

It's unclear whether the county will be able to get out of that lease without paying for the remainder of the cost.

But it's also unclear whether the county would be on the hook for that cost. The Senate signed an agreement with the county that said the county is not liable for any damages to the equipment while in the Senate's custody.

The supervisors have not yet decided whether to ask the Senate to pay for any costs related to replacing the machines under that agreement, said county communications director Fields Moseley.

The county said in a statement Monday it is working with Dominion to replace the subpoenaed equipment so it will be able to serve voters for the November election. County officials are discussing with Dominion the terms for replacing the equipment, Moseley said.

The county broke the chain of custody, or the procedures for properly securing and tracking the machines, when it was required to give the machines to the state Senate under subpoenas, Hobbs wrote in her letter.
Any way you look at it, it's millions flushed down the toilet in order to serve the Big Lie. This is who the Republican party are: a bunch of delusional, dangerous imbeciles who destroy everything in their path on the way to power.
So stop voting for them, America.

The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

Democratic WV Sen. Joe Manchin has finally gotten on board for an all-Democratic party infrastructure reconciliation package, but that doesn't mean there's 50 votes for it if (well, when) Republicans block the bipartisan infrastructure package on the table already.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said on Tuesday that he's supportive of going forward with a larger, Democratic-only infrastructure bill, but that it shouldn't be linked to a separate bipartisan framework.

Manchin, during an interview with MSNBC, said that he had been assuming since "day one" that Democrats would have to use reconciliation, a budget process that allows them to bypass a 60-vote legislative filibuster, to pass a larger infrastructure bill because Republicans don't want to make changes to the 2017 tax bill.

“We're going to have to work it through reconciliation, which I’ve agreed that that can be done. I just haven’t agreed on the amount, because I haven’t seen everything that everyone is wanting to put in the bill," Manchin said on MSNBC.

Manchin added that the Senate can "go through the process" on putting together a larger package that includes so-called "human infrastructure" knowing that Democrats will "probably have to go to reconciliation and then do what we can afford to do."

Manchin's comments come after he told reporters late last week that he viewed a Democratic-only reconciliation bill as "inevitable," handing a significant boost to Democrats' strategy.

Democrats are still in the early stages of trying to figure out how big to go in a Democratic-only infrastructure bill. But they have no room for error in the Senate where they need all 50 of their members and Vice President Harris to pass an infrastructure bill under reconciliation.

And Manchin has long been viewed as the biggest hold out on greenlighting a Democratic-only bill.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed going as high as $6 trillion, but that figure has garnered pushback from other Senate Democrats, including Manchin, who believe it is too high. Budget Committee Democrats are expected to talk this week to try to hash out more details of the budget resolution that lays out the instructions for the Democratic-only bill.

Manchin is also part of a bipartisan group that has negotiated a smaller plan of roughly $1.2 trillion over eight years, a bill that focuses more on traditional infrastructure including roads, bridges and broadband.
So the bipartisan deal, as I warned last week, will come apart because Republicans will block it. It was always going to come down to reconcilitation, but that will require all 50 Democratic senators, and Schumer hasn't always shown the same ability to whip as Pelosi has over in the House.

Speaking of that, Pelosi only has a few votes to spare too. It's nowhere near a done deal until the final votes, so keep that in mind. There's a lot that could still go wrong here.

For now though, things are heading the right direction.

Clarence And Mary Jane

When even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is admitting that federal criminalization of marijuana no longer makes sense anymore, the time to decriminalize, expunge criminal records for use and sale, and building a fair regulatory field for taxation of marijuana is here.

Clarence Thomas, one of the Supreme Court's most conservative justices, said Monday that because of the hodgepodge of federal policies on marijuana, federal laws against its use or cultivation may no longer make sense.

"A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government's piecemeal approach," he wrote.

His views came as the court declined to hear the appeal of a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary that was denied federal tax breaks that other businesses are allowed.

Thomas said the Supreme Court's ruling in 2005 upholding federal laws making marijuana possession illegal may now be out of date.

"Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning," he said. "The federal government's current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.”

Thirty-six states now allow medical marijuana, and 18 also allow recreational use. But federal tax law does not allow marijuana businesses to deduct their business expenses.

"Under this rule, a business that is still in the red after it pays its workers and keeps the lights on might nonetheless owe substantial federal income tax," Thomas said.
Now, I'm not completely naive here, I know Thomas wants a federal regulatory framework so we can corporatize growing and turn Big Weed into the next Big Tobacco. It'll be worth hundreds of billions a year and will be yet another industry where massive agriculture interests wipe out small farmers and growers.

At the same time, freeing the thousands in jails and prisons for low-level marijuana possession offenses needs to happen at the local, state, and federal level across the board. What Thomas is saying is that creating the corporate weed industry is the price for clearing prisons.

We always knew that was the case, but if even Thomas is saying this, then it's going to happen sooner rather than later.


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