Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Last Call For The Orange Coup-Coup Birds

Depositions from Trump's former cabinet staffers are pointing the fingers at Trump White House Deputy AG Jeffrey Clark, who had a plan for a coup in hand three days before he January 6th insurrection.

Three days before Congress was slated to certify the 2020 presidential election, a little-known Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark rushed to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results.

Clark, an environmental lawyer by trade, had outlined a plan in a letter he wanted to send to the leaders of key states Joe Biden won. It said that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending “a separate slate of electors supporting Donald J. Trump” for Congress to approve.

In fact, Clark’s bosses had warned there was not evidence to overturn the election and had rejected his letter days earlier. Now they learned Clark was about to meet with Trump. Acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen tracked down his deputy, Richard Donoghue, who had been walking on the Mall in muddy jeans and an Army T-shirt. There was no time to change. They raced to the Oval Office.

As Rosen and Donoghue listened, Clark told Trump that he would send the letter if the president named him attorney general.

“History is calling,” Clark told the president, according to a deposition from Donoghue excerpted in a recent court filing. “This is our opportunity. We can get this done.”

Donoghue urged Trump not to put Clark in charge, calling him “not competent” and warning of “mass resignations” by Justice Department officials if he became the nation’s top law enforcement official, according to Donoghue’s account.

“What happens if, within 48 hours, we have hundreds of resignations from your Justice Department because of your actions?” Donoghue said he asked Trump. “What does that say about your leadership?”

Clark’s letter and his Oval Office meeting set off one of the tensest chapters during Trump’s effort to overturn the election, which culminated three days later with rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. His plan could have decapitated the Justice Department leadership and could have overturned the election.

Clark’s actions have been the focus of a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation and an ongoing probe by the Justice Department’s inspector general, and now are expected to be closely examined during June hearings by the House committee investigating the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Conspiracy to commit fraud and sedition against the United States of America. 

Prosecute it.

Transcending The Hate

More than a dozen GOP states have outlawed transgender women in school and college sports, and a new poll from the NY Times finds that the majority of Americans agree with the legislation.
The poll, conducted May 4 through 17 among 1,503 people across the United States, finds 55 percent of Americans opposed to allowing transgender women and girls to compete with other women and girls in high school sports and 58 percent opposed to it for college and professional sports. About 3 in 10 Americans said transgender women and girls should be allowed to compete at each of those levels, while an additional 15 percent have no opinion.

At the youth level, 49 percent are opposed to transgender girls competing with other girls, while 33 percent say they should be allowed to compete and 17 percent have no opinion.

The poll was taken as an increasing portion of Americans, particularly younger ones, identify as transgender and the issue of whether transgender females should compete against cisgender women and girls has become a point of social and political debate.

Last week, Louisiana joined at least 17 other states in banning transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams. Much of that legislation across the country has been passed in the past year, led by Republican lawmakers. The Louisiana ban, which applies to all public and some private elementary and secondary schools and colleges, became law after the state’s Democratic governor declined to sign it or veto it.

The issue has become politicized despite the small share of people who identify as transgender and the limited number of specific situations in which participation has raised concerns.

A Pew Research Center poll released last Tuesday found that 0.6 percent of Americans identify as transgender, but among people age 18 to 29, the share rose to 2 percent. An additional 1 percent of Americans said they are nonbinary — neither a man nor a woman, or not strictly one or the other — a share that rose to 3 percent of people 18 to 29.

A 2021 Gallup telephone poll found 0.7 percent of adults identifying as transgender, while a slightly larger percentage identified as gay (1.5 percent), lesbian (1.0 percent), bisexual (4.0 percent) or another non-heterosexual identity (0.3 percent).
Among athletes, the controversy has centered on transgender females, in particular. Critics say they have an unfair physical advantage against cisgender females because of factors such as generally having a greater muscle mass and larger skeletal frame, bone density and testosterone levels, which can help boost athletic performance.

Critics of the bans say they deny transgender athletes’ right to compete in a space that aligns with their gender, further stigmatizing children who are at greater risk of mental health problems. Critics also say the bans overestimate the extent of trans girls’ and women’s participation in athletics.

The Post-UMD poll finds over two-thirds of Americans, 68 percent, say that transgender girls would have a competitive advantage over other girls if they were allowed to compete with them in youth sports; 30 percent say neither would have an advantage, while 2 percent say other girls would have an advantage.

A slim 52 percent majority say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that transgender girls’ mental health will suffer if they are not allowed to compete with other girls in youth sports; 48 percent are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about this.

Despite being mostly opposed to their participation in sports, the Post-UMD poll finds Americans’ general attitudes toward transgender people to be more positive than negative.

The poll also finds that 40 percent of Americans say greater social acceptance of transgender people is “good for society,” while 25 percent say it is “bad for society,” and another 35 percent say it is “neither good nor bad.” The percentage saying transgender acceptance is bad for society is down from 32 percent in a Pew Research Center survey one year ago.
Of course, the goal is to establish a baseline that it's okay to classify trans women as second-class citizens. Once you can get away with that, you can then classify trans women as, you know, illegal non-citizens, which is what several states are trying to do, notably Texas and Missouri.

The GOP continues to push issues like this in order to break the Obama coalition permanently, and frankly it's working, only this time it's going to lead to the deaths of trans women across the country.

Trans rights are human rights.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Russian sanctions have pretty much completely failed at this point, because Putin correctly predicted that American energy companies will keep oil at $120 a barrel for months, if not years. Higher oil prices have more than offset losses to sanctions, and if anything, Russia is now in better financial shape than before the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered global condemnation and tough sanctions aimed at denting Moscow’s war chest. Yet Russia’s revenues from fossil fuels, by far its biggest export, soared to records in the first 100 days of its war on Ukraine, driven by a windfall from oil sales amid surging prices, a new analysis shows.

Russia earned what is very likely a record 93 billion euros in revenue from exports of oil, gas and coal in the first 100 days of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, according to data analyzed by the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a research organization based in Helsinki, Finland. About two-thirds of those earnings, the equivalent of about $97 billion, came from oil, and most of the remainder from natural gas.

“The current rate of revenue is unprecedented, because prices are unprecedented, and export volumes are close to their highest levels on record,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst who led the center’s research.

Fossil fuel exports have been a key enabler of Russia’s military buildup. In 2021, revenue from oil and gas alone made up 45 percent of Russia’s federal budget, according to the International Energy Agency. The revenue from Russia’s fossil fuel exports exceeds what the country is spending on its war in Ukraine, the research center estimated, a sobering finding as momentum shifts in Russia’s favor as its forces focus on important regional targets amid a weapons shortage among Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukrainian officials again called on countries and firms to halt their trade with Russia completely. “We’re asking the world to do everything possible in order to cut off Putin and his war machine from all possible financing, but it’s taking much too long,” Oleg Ustenko, an economic adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, said in an interview from Kyiv.

Ukraine has also been tracking Russia’s exports, and Mr. Ustenko described the research center’s numbers as seeming on the conservative side. Still, the underlying finding was the same, he said: Fossil fuels continue to fund Russia’s war. “You can stop importing Russian caviar and Russian vodka, and that’s good, but definitely not enough. You need to stop importing Russian oil,” he said.

Though Russia’s fossil fuel exports have started to fall somewhat by volume, as more countries and companies shun trading with Moscow, surging prices have more than canceled out the effects of that decline. The research found Russia’s export prices for fossil fuels have been on average around 60 percent higher than last year, even accounting for the fact that Russian oil is fetching about 30 percent below international market prices.

Europe, particularly, has struggled to wean itself from Russian energy, even as many countries send military aid to Ukraine. The European Union made most progress on reducing its imports of natural gas from Russia, buying 23 percent less in the first 100 days of the invasion than the same period the previous year. Still, income at Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas giant, remained about twice as high as the year before, thanks to higher gas prices, the Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air found.

The European Union also reduced its imports of Russian crude oil, which declined 18 percent in May. But that dip was made up by India and the United Arab Emirates, leading to no net change in Russia’s oil export volumes, the research showed. India has become a significant importer of Russian crude oil, buying 18 percent of the country’s exports over the 100-day period.

The United States has made a dent in Russia’s earnings, banning all Russian fossil fuel imports. Still, the United States is importing refined oil products from countries like the Netherlands and India that most likely contain Russian crude, a loophole for oil from Russia to make its way to America.

Overall, China was the largest importer of Russian fossil fuels over the 100-day period, edging out Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. China imported the most oil; Japan was the top purchaser of Russian coal.
China is buying Russia's oil, and there's no way to stop it.
At this point further sanctions would only wreck the already shaky supply chain and hurt American consumers. Sanctions are starting to hurt the US more than Moscow. I appreciate that there are real lives on the line in Ukraine and Europe at risk.

But as I said last week, the current situation is untenable for Biden, and Putin has no reason to change the calculus.

Biden needs to come up with that reason and soon, or we're headed for a serious, back-breaking recession or worse.
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