Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Last Call For The Manchin On The Hill, Con't

For months now, WV Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has been threatening "consequences" if he didn't get his pound of flesh in exchange for allowing Biden's Climate Change legislation to pass the Senate. 

The deal he made with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was that Democrats would use budget reconciliation to pass energy legislation that Manchin wanted, including a new pipeline through West Virginia.

It's true, Republicans don't want to give Manchin another Democratic win. But a Republican win, where Manchin bails on the party, gets his pipeline for WV as part of must-pass budget negotiations, and his sub-Biden approval numbers back in his home state skyrocket again?
Manchin may take that deal.
The other theory is that he's bluffing, and there's plenty of evidence for that, too.

We'll see.
Today, we find out Manchin is dropping that legislation from must-pass budget legislation.completely, and folding his hand. The latter was true, he was bluffing, and he got nothing.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday cleared the way for a key vote to take up a government funding extension to succeed after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin dropped a request to include in the stop-gap bill a controversial proposal on permitting reform that had come under sharp criticism from Republicans and liberals.

The vote had been on the verge of failing due to the inclusion of the measure, but now will likely have the support needed for the funding bill to move forward.

Senators released the legislative text of the stop-gap funding bill overnight – a measure that would fund the government through December 16.

In addition to money to keep government agencies afloat, it provides around $12 billion for Ukraine as it continues to face Russian military attack, and would require the Pentagon to report on how US dollars have been spent there. The aid to Ukraine is a bipartisan priority.

The continuing resolution also would extend an expiring FDA user fee program for five years.

Manchin’s permitting proposal would expedite the permitting and environmental review process for energy projects – including a major pipeline that would cross through Manchin’s home state of West Virginia. Senate Democratic leaders had been pushing to pass it along with government funding as a result of a deal cut to secure Manchin’s support for Democrats’ controversial Inflation Reduction Act – a key priority for the party – which passed over the summer.

But Republicans had been warning they will vote against the effort to tie permitting reform to the funding extension, in part because they don’t want to reward Manchin over his support for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Lawmakers are expected to pass a short-term funding extension by week’s end and avert a shutdown but they are up against the clock with funding set to expire on Friday at midnight.

The timing of the fight continues a pattern by Capitol Hill leaders in recent years of negotiating until the last minute to fund the federal government, leaving virtually no room for error in a series of events where any one senator could slow the process down beyond the deadline.
In the end, Manchin overplayed his party switch card against Democrats stabbing him in the back. Instead, his Republican colleagues stabbed him in the front.
It's still possible that this was a double-agent move where Manchin switches parties anyway, Manchin really is dumb enough to do that, but I'm pretty sure today is the day Joe Manchin learned that there are 99 other US senators besides Joe Manchin.
The only person who got played here was Manchin himself.
Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Putin's Pipe-Lying Problem

So, let's set the stage this week for the next phase of the war in Ukraine. There's two big events this week that cover where we're going after Putin's mobilization call-up last week. First, we need a preterxt to war for the newly minted conscripts to fight for, and that's being handled by laughable shams of "referendums" where Ukrainians in occupied Donbas region cities are being forced at gunpoint to "vote for independence from Ukraine" and to join Russia.
White House officials are watching closely and preparing their potential response Monday as four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine continued to vote in referendums that are being effectively carried out at gunpoint and have been dismissed by the West as a sham.

With the results of the Russian-organized voting expected to be announced as soon as Tuesday, US officials anticipate Russia could move quickly to annex the four areas, potentially within days. Doing so would prompt a swift response from the US, which has pledged not to recognize the results, one official said.

The US is not currently expected to respond until Russia has moved to annex the regions, the official said, and whether Russia ultimately attempts to do so remains to be seen.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in recent days that Russia has already decided in advance what will happen after these referendums are finished, stating that by “the end of the month, Russia’s intention will be to formalize the annexation of the four regions into the Russian Federation.”

As they monitor the referendums, top Biden administration officials have become more vocal in recent days about warnings they have delivered in private to Russian officials about the potential use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

“Russia understands very well what the US would do in response to the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine because we have spelled it out for them,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a television interview Sunday, though he declined to characterize who received those warnings or what the consequences would be.
And of course the vote will "show" that Ukraine wants to be part of Russia again, and so we have casus belli manufactured out of nothing, a perfect old school tactic for the social media age.

But the other part of the war in Ukraine is the war against the EU, and Russia made a huge move on that this weekend as well.

European countries on Tuesday raced to investigate unexplained leaks in two Russian gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea near Sweden and Denmark, infrastructure at the heart of an energy crisis since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Experts and also Russia, which built the network, said the possibility of sabotage could not be ruled out.

Sweden’s Maritime Authority issued a warning about two leaks in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, shortly after a leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 pipeline was discovered that had prompted Denmark to restrict shipping in a five nautical mile radius.

Both pipelines have been flashpoints in an escalating energy war between European capitals and Moscow that has pummeled major Western economies, sent gas prices soaring and sparked a hunt for alternative energy supplies.

“There are some indications that it is deliberate damage,” said a European security source, while adding it was still too early to draw conclusions. “You have to ask: Who would profit?”

Russia also said the leak in the Russian network was cause for concern and sabotage was one possible cause. “No option can be ruled out right now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Neither pipeline was pumping gas to Europe at the time the leaks were found, amid the dispute over the war in Ukraine, but the incidents will scupper any remaining expectations that Europe could receive gas via Nord Stream 1 before winter.

“The destruction that occurred on the same day simultaneously on three strings of the offshore gas pipelines of the Nord Stream system is unprecedented,” said network operator Nord Stream AG. “It is not yet possible to estimate the timing of the restoration of the gas transport infrastructure.”
Russia is claiming this was a NATO operation to keep EU countries in line, but wouldn't you know it that the price of Russian energy exports went up significantly this week, giving Russia a windfall of money right when Moscow is girding for war, and it has the effect of further destabilizing EU economies in order to keep them out of any Ukraine operations.
Funny how that all ends up working in Russia favor in the months ahead.
So yeah, gonna be an ugly fall and a worse winter in Ukraine, all while the EU has an energy crisis.

It's a dangerous game, but one Putin seems bound and determined to play.

The Law In Texas, Con't

A reminder that Texas Republican Attorney General is still under federal investigation for bribery and corruption and under indictment for securities fraud, he's also been named as part of a lawsuit against the state's bounty hunter abortion law, and he's dodging process servers like a pro after seven years.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his home in a truck driven by his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, to avoid being served a subpoena Monday, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

Ernesto Martin Herrera, a process server, was attempting to serve the state’s top attorney with a subpoena for a federal court hearing Tuesday in a lawsuit from nonprofits that want to help Texans pay for abortions out of state.

When Herrera arrived at Paxton’s home in McKinney on Monday morning, he told a woman who identified herself as Angela that he was trying to deliver legal documents to the attorney general. She told him that Paxton was on the phone and unable to come to the door. Herrera said he would wait.

Nearly an hour later, a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled into the driveway, and 20 minutes after that, Ken Paxton exited the house.

“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name. As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage,” Herrera wrote in the sworn affidavit.

Angela Paxton then exited the house, got inside a Chevrolet truck in the driveway, started it and opened the doors.

“A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side,” Herrera wrote. “I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him. Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck.”

Herrera eventually placed the subpoenas on the ground near the truck and told him he was serving him with a subpoena. Both cars drove away, leaving the documents on the ground.

On Twitter, the attorney general said his sudden departure was motivated by concerns for his family's safety.

"It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family," he wrote in a tweet.
If you tried to dodge lawsuits, investigations, and indictments the way Kex Paxton does, you'd already be in jail. But Paxton has made sure he'll never be tried for his securities fraud indictment, the case being "rescheduled" time and again by Republican-appointed judges as Paxton uses his office to shield himself from the law his office is supposed to enforce.

There's no better example of what corrupt, permanent one-party GOP rules means to America, and how Republican officials will blatantly flout the law in state after state once the Roberts' Court gives them the power to institute perpetual corruption.

And here we have him dodging a process server with his wife driving him to "safety from an attacking stranger". Just corruption all the way through.

And he'll still win in November, as such he'll need that StupidiTag™ going forward...
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