Saturday, January 8, 2022

Last Call For Meanwhile In Kazakhstan, Con't


We'll see where this lands, but behind all of this is a Russian president who wants a new Soviet Union. Don't be surprised if Moscow steps in to "bring order" back to the country as they did in Ukraine.  


Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Saturday discussed restoring "order" in Kazakhstan following days of violence and unrest, as several high-profile officials were detained on suspicion of treason
Tokayev told Putin the situation in his country was "progressing on the way to stabilization" and expressed his "appreciation" for the deployment of a Russia-led military bloc to Kazakhstan to try and control violence on the streets, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday. 
Meanwhile, former head of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee Karim Massimov and some other unnamed officials have been detained on suspicion of treason, the country's National Security Committee announced, according to state media Khabar 24 on Saturday.
And just like that, President Tokayev is literally inviting Russian troops onto his soil to "restore order".
Thing is, these Russian troops aren't leaving for a long, long time

As for the "traitors" being rounded up, well it's not like Kazakhstan is going to need a national security  anything for much longer anyway, since that job will got to Moscow very soon.

Looks like Vlad is getting his old neighborhood watch together. Kyiv's sweating, that's for sure. If Putin wanted to make it clear what's in store for Ukraine in the days ahead, he just made a hell of a test case.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

The Guardian's Hugo Lowell continues his reporting on the January 6th Committee with information that the investigation is now focusing on Donald Trump and his lackeys being part of a criminal conspiracy as well as obstruction of justice.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack is examining whether Donald Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy on 6 January that connected the White House’s scheme to stop Joe Biden’s certification with the insurrection, say two senior sources familiar with the matter.

The committee’s new focus on the potential for a conspiracy marks an aggressive escalation in its inquiry as it confronts evidence that suggests the former president potentially engaged in criminal conduct egregious enough to warrant a referral to the justice department.

House investigators are interested in whether Trump oversaw a criminal conspiracy after communications turned over by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and others suggested the White House coordinated efforts to stop Biden’s certification, the sources said.

The select committee has several thousand messages, among which include some that suggest the Trump White House briefed a number of House Republicans on its plan for then-vice president Mike Pence to abuse his ceremonial role and not certify Biden’s win, the sources said.

The fact that the select committee has messages suggesting the Trump White House directed Republican members of Congress to execute a scheme to stop Biden’s certification is significant as it could give rise to the panel considering referrals for potential crimes, the sources said.

Members and counsel on the select committee are examining in the first instance whether in seeking to stop the certification, Trump and his aides violated the federal law that prohibits obstruction of a congressional proceeding – the joint session on 6 January – the sources said.

The select committee believes, the sources said, that Trump may be culpable for an obstruction charge given he failed for hours to intervene to stop the violence at the Capitol perpetrated by his supporters in his name.

But the select committee is also looking at whether Trump oversaw an unlawful conspiracy that involved coordination between the “political elements” of the White House plan communicated to Republican lawmakers and extremist groups that stormed the Capitol, the sources said
We also learned this week that the Committee wants to talk to two people specifically as part of that raft of messages pointing to a criminal conspiracy: FOX News host Sean Hannity, whose cooperation is being requested after messages between him and Mark Meadows advising Trump how to act on January 6th were made public, and former VP Mike Pence himself, who is at the center of the conspiracy to try to steal Biden's win through decertification of electors and throwing it to the House delegations to decide in Trump favor.

As far as Hannity goes, the fact that he hasn't immediately been fired or even suspended, or that he hasn't announced a "previously planned vacation"is proof enough that FOX News is the propaganda arm of the Trumpists (if not the Trumpists being the long-term political arm of the far right media monsters.)  Hannity is even more awful than Tucker Carlson is, while Carlson is still an unrepentant racist authoritarian who cozies up to dictators like Putin and Viktor Orban in Hungary, Hannity is the thin patina of respectability in the FOX stable of hosts, and with the direct ear of basically all the major Trump players, including Trump himself.

As for Mike Pence? I honestly think he's running scenarios through his head where he emerges as the "reformed" face of Trumpism and is a "hero" respected by voters of all camps and creeds who will consider his "service" to the country by refusing Trump's orders to make him history's good guy, the way Gerald Ford was portrayed. And remember, for all Ford's "heroism" and pardoning of Nixon, his reward was a loss to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

We do seem to be getting closer to the point where Donald Trump is going to be referred for criminal prosecution, and then it's all Merrick Garland from there.

The Vax Of Life, Con't

Again, predicting the Supreme Court is a mug's game, but if the questions are any indication from Friday, well, as Vox's Ian Millihiser points out, the Biden administration vaccine mandate is pretty much toast.

Benjamin Flowers is Ohio’s solicitor general, and he was supposed to be at the Supreme Court on Friday to ask the justices to nullify a Biden administration rule requiring most workers to either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or to be regularly tested for the disease.

But Flowers had to argue his case over the phone. The reason why? He himself has Covid, and therefore could not enter the justices’ workplace and risk endangering them and their staff.

It’s an elegant metaphor for the kind of see-no-evil approach to Covid-19 that Flowers, and several other lawyers arguing against policies from President Joe Biden’s administration, would impose on the nation. Flowers would have the justices block one of Biden’s most significant efforts to halt a potentially deadly disease that, as Justice Stephen Breyer noted multiple times during Friday’s arguments, is infecting about three-quarters of a million Americans every day this week.

And yet, if Friday’s argument in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor is any sign, there will almost certainly be at least five votes on the Supreme Court to block the workplace Covid rule, which applies to employers with 100 or more employees.

Meanwhile, in separate case Biden v. Missouri, the Court considered a rule requiring health providers that accept Medicare and Medicaid funds to be vaccinated. This oral argument was less of a bloodbath for the government, and it seems possible that this more limited rule for health providers will be upheld.

But the oral argument in the first case, NFIB, suggests that the Court’s 6-3 conservative majority is inclined to hand down a very broad decision — one that won’t simply hobble many of the Biden administration’s efforts to quell a pandemic that has killed nearly 830,000 Americans, but that could also fundamentally rework the balance of power between elected federal officials and an unelected judiciary.

Both the NFIB case and the Missouri case involve very broadly worded laws, enacted by Congress, which give federal agencies sweeping authority to protect the health and safety of workers or Medicare patients. But all six of the Court’s Republican appointees appeared uncomfortable with letting these agencies — and especially the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — fully exercise the power Congress has given them.

Multiple justices appeared eager to impose new restrictions on Congress’s ability to delegate authority to federal agencies. Indeed, the Court could easily give itself a sweeping new power to veto agency regulations that a majority of the justices disapprove of.

A majority of the Court, in other words, appeared much more bothered by the implications of letting the Biden administration fight the pandemic than they are bothered by the many deaths caused by the pandemic itself.

If the Court does wind up drastically shrinking the federal government’s authority, that won’t exactly be a surprise. The Court’s been signaling that it is eager to transfer power from federal agencies to the judiciary since shortly after then-President Donald Trump replaced the relatively moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy with hardline conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

But, while the Court has foreshadowed the most likely result in the NFIB case for quite a while, that does not mean that a decision striking down OSHA’s vaccinate-or-test rule would be any less profound. NFIB is likely to be a turning point in the right-wing Roberts Court’s relationship with the elected branches — and it could permanently disable the federal government’s ability to address crises like the Covid-19 pandemic in the future
Again, I've been warning about this for a while now. What the Roberts Court appears ready to do is to absolutely hamstring federal agencies and give nearly all of the regulatory and rule-making power to Congress, where Senate Republicans can simply block regulations from ever being made, and the rest can be delegated to the states.

Outside of State, Justice, and the Pentagon, the rest of the Executive branch is about to get torn to shreds, with entire agencies possibly rendered powerless. Mostly though, it's about making sure government can't work for the American people, and that the GOP's long-term authoritarianism is codified.

But Zandar, you say, if the GOP wants an authoritarian government, why cripple the executive? The answer, as I said, is the Senate. Democrats aren't going to get rid of the filibuster, and the Senate will always have at least 41 Republicans in any possible future scenario. A broad ruling that destroys regulatory authority in the executive means that the Senate can block any attempts to legislate that regulatory power, too.

As I've been saying, by July 4th, it's going to be painfully clear how bad things are going to be in the years ahead.
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