Sunday, October 3, 2021

Last Call For The Good Package, Con't

Even Bernie Sanders is now freely admitting that the "art of the possible" is what Actual President Joe Manchin and Actual Vice President Kyrsten Sinema will allow America to have.

In order for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and larger social spending package to pass, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Sunday the $3.5 trillion budget resolution price tag will likely be lowered.

"Three and a half trillion should be a minimum, but I accept that there's gonna have to be a give and take," Sanders told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

House progressives have warned leadership they will not vote on President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill until the larger human infrastructure bill is also ready for a vote. The budget resolution calls for investments in climate change policy, child care and other social programs, and is wider in scope than the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which includes measures to improve the nation’s physical infrastructure.

"Both these bills are going forward in tandem," Sanders said, reiterating the progressive call to hold out on passing infrastructure until the social spending bill is also passed.

Moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have said they will not support the bill’s $3.5 trillion price tag. Due to the slim Democratic majority in the Senate, neither bill will pass unless they have all the votes of the Democrats.

Sinema released a statement Saturday accusing progressives of "an ineffective stunt" and slammed House Democratic leadership for failing to pass the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

"Denying Americans millions of good-paying jobs, safer roads, cleaner water, more reliable electricity and better broadband only hurts everyday families," Sinema wrote.

Asked by Karl to respond to her statement, Sanders said he thinks Sinema is "wrong" and said both bills must go forward together, adding that he voted for the infrastructure bill.

"We're not just taking on or dealing with Sen. Manchin and Sen. Sinema, we're taking on the entire ruling class of the country," Sanders responded. "Right now the drug companies, the health insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry are spending hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars to prevent us from doing what the American people want."

"This really is a test on whether democracy can work," Sanders said. "I hope very much and I expect that the Democratic caucus and the president -- I know he will -- stand firm."
Sanders is, for once, 100% correct. The corporations that have purchased President Manchin and Vice President Sinema's votes bought them cheaply compared to the taxes they'll be forced to pay, maybe half a mil in lobbyist donations for something that will save them billions over the next decade.

The only question is how much Manchin and Sinema get to take off the top. The rest of us get to watch the super rich continue to play the game and win.

A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world.

The revelations include more than $100 million spent by King Abdullah II of Jordan on luxury homes in Malibu, Calif., and other locations; millions of dollars in property and cash secretly owned by the leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador and other countries; and a waterfront home in Monaco acquired by a Russian woman who gained considerable wealth after she reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other disclosures hit closer to home for U.S. officials and other Western leaders who frequently condemn smaller countries whose permissive banking systems have been exploited for decades by looters of assets and launderers of dirty money.

Read key takeaways from the Pandora Papers investigation

The files provide substantial new evidence, for example, that South Dakota now rivals notoriously opaque jurisdictions in Europe and the Caribbean in financial secrecy. Tens of millions of dollars from outside the United States are now sheltered by trust companies in Sioux Falls, some of it tied to people and companies accused of human rights abuses and other wrongdoing.

The details are contained in more than 11.9 million financial records that were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and examined by The Post and other partner news organizations. The files include private emails, secret spreadsheets, clandestine contracts and other records that unlock otherwise impenetrable financial schemes and identify the individuals behind them.

The trove, dubbed the Pandora Papers, exceeds the dimensions of the leak that was at the center of the Panama Papers investigation five years ago. That data was drawn from a single law firm, but the new material encompasses records from 14 separate financial-services entities operating in countries and territories including Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize and the British Virgin Islands.

The files detail more than 29,000 offshore accounts, more than double the number identified in the Panama Papers. Among the account owners are more than 130 people listed as billionaires by Forbes magazine and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories, twice the number found in the Panama documents.
In the end, the rich win.

Retribution Execution, Con't

 I keep telling people that 2020 was a failed dry run for permanent authoritarian GOP government in America and basically all of Trump's orcs and goblins are ready to make sure we lose it all next time. When Steve Bannon speaks, every liberal, Democrat, progressive and human being better 100% pay attention, because like the megalomaniacal supervillain he is, he's giving his evil plan away ahead of time.

Scores of former Trump political appointees gathered at a GOP social club Wednesday night to hear Steve Bannon detail how they could help the next Republican president reconfigure government.

"If you’re going to take over the administrative state and deconstruct it, then you have to have shock troops prepared to take it over immediately," Bannon said in a telephone interview with NBC News. "I gave 'em fire and brimstone."

Bannon, who ran former President Donald Trump's first campaign and later worked as a top adviser in the White House, said that Trump's agenda was delayed by the challenges of quickly filling roughly 4,000 slots for presidential appointees at federal agencies and the steep learning curve for political officials who were new to Washington.

He is not alone in that view. His appearance at the Capitol Hill Club came at the invitation of a new organization called the Association of Republican Presidential Appointees, which was formed to create a resource for future GOP officials tapped to fill federal jobs.

"There are so many statutes and regulations as well as agency and departmental policies, it can be very overwhelming when you first come in," said Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a former Broadcasting Board of Governors official who is one of the organizers of the group. "This is an organization that has a very narrow, clear and much-needed purpose, and, once it is operational, I think it could do a lot of good not just for the Republican Party but for the country."

Trump often railed publicly about career civil servants and Obama administration political appointee holdovers whom he saw as obstacles to his agenda, referring to them collectively as the "deep state."

Bannon said he wants to see pre-trained teams ready to jump into federal agencies when the next Republican president takes office. For the most part, that means the tiers of presidential appointees whose postings don't require Senate confirmation.

"We’re going to have a sweeping victory in 2022, and that’s just the preamble to a sweeping victory in 2024, and this time we’re going to be ready — and have a MAGA perspective, MAGA policies, not the standard Republican policies," he said, referring to Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan and describing a 2024 electoral victory as a "second term."
Bannon's happy to tip his hand, because he knows he's going to win. He knows he's going to have his own Deep State ready to go in 2024, and that will be the end of democracy around here in your lifetime. He doesn't need Trump, he'll execute this plan with whoever gets he 2024 nod.

We got lucky once. We have to push these barbarians back again and again to survive.

However horrifying the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol appeared in the moment, we know now that it was far worse.

The country was hours away from a full-blown constitutional crisis — not primarily because of the violence and mayhem inflicted by hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters but because of the actions of Mr. Trump himself.

In the days before the mob descended on the Capitol, a corollary attack — this one bloodless and legalistic — was playing out down the street in the White House, where Mr. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a lawyer named John Eastman huddled in the Oval Office, scheming to subvert the will of the American people by using legal sleight-of-hand.

Mr. Eastman’s unusual visit was reported at the time, but a new book by the Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa provides the details of his proposed six-point plan. It involved Mr. Pence rejecting dozens of already certified electoral votes representing tens of millions of legally cast ballots, thus allowing Congress to install Mr. Trump in a second term.

Mr. Pence ultimately refused to sign on, earning him the rage of Mr. Trump and chants of “Hang Mike Pence!” by the rioters, who erected a makeshift gallows on the National Mall.

The fact that the scheme to overturn the election was highly unlikely to succeed is cold comfort. Mr. Trump remains the most popular Republican in the country; barring a serious health issue, the odds are good that he will be the party’s nominee for president in 2024. He also remains as incapable of accepting defeat as he has ever been, which means the country faces a renewed risk of electoral subversion by Mr. Trump and his supporters — only next time they will have learned from their mistakes.

That leaves all Americans who care about preserving this Republic with a clear task: Reform the federal election law at the heart of Mr. Eastman’s twisted ploy, and make it as hard as possible for anyone to pull a stunt like that again.

Democrats have to reform the Electoral Count Act, among other voting rights reforms, or it's over. The GOP is openly telling us they will use the full power of the US government as a weapon against dissent.  We have to make sure this happens or we're all going to burn.

Sunday Long Read: The Con Is On

Our Sunday Long Read is another true crime art heist story, this time from the Truly*Adventurous crew, who bring us the tale of Alfredo Martinez, art forger extraordinaire, and FBI agent Bob Wittman, the agency's most dogged undercover art theft detective.
The art dealer wanted his certificates, or the game was up.

Two Basquiat drawings sat on the desk of Lio Malca, a smartly dressed Colombian who’d built an empire from his plush, Chelsea office. Malca wanted them, but their accompanying documents didn’t look right.

“I don’t care what you’re doing,” he told the seller sitting across from him. “If this transaction is to go on, I must have the original certificate.”

Alfredo Martinez, over six feet tall and almost as wide, with unkempt hair and a straggly, black beard, barely missed a beat. Art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the famed neo-Expressionist, had skyrocketed in price since the artist’s death over a decade before, and Alfredo was determined to pocket a hefty sum for the two works.

Not a problem, Alfredo told Malca. He knew where the certificates were, he just needed some time to go get them. He got up and left the office.

Outside, Alfredo fretted. He thought the certificates he’d forged and presented to Malca were, like the drawings, good enough to fool anyone. Now he had to get his hands on the genuine articles — and quickly enough to avoid suspicion. The clock was ticking on the biggest payday of his life.

He raced across town and, hoodwinking a friend who owned the original drawings, returned to Chelsea in just a few hours. He was getting sloppy, desperate — and Malca, a connected international figure with a history of drug related crimes, was not a man to double-cross.

Malca ran his fingers over the raised seal of the certificate and, happy with it, shook hands on the deal. Alfredo breathed a sigh of relief.

Little did he know that the sale had dropped him clean in the crosshairs of America’s greatest art detective.
This one's a movie you can see in your head almost, and it's a rollicking tale, all true.
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