Thursday, August 31, 2023

Last Call For The Road To Gilead Goes Through Alabama

Alabama GOP Attorney General Steve Marshall isn't trying at all to hide the notion that he plans to prosecute people who "facilitate" women getting abortions out-of-state.

Alabama’s Republican attorney general said in a court filing that he has the right to prosecute people who make travel arrangements for pregnant women to have out-of-state abortions.

In a court filing Monday, attorneys for Attorney General Steve Marshall wrote that providing transportation for women in Alabama to leave the state to get an abortion could amount to a “criminal conspiracy.”

The court filing comes in response to lawsuits against Marshall that was filed in July from two women’s health centers and Yellowhammer Fund, an organization which says it provides “financial and practical support for those who are pregnant and require assistance.” The plaintiffs argue that Marshall violated their constitutional rights by publicly stating that organizations which help pregnant women in Alabama get an abortion out of state could be criminally investigated.

“Alabama can no more regulate out-of-state abortions than another state can deem its laws legalizing abortions to apply to Alabama,” the Yellowhammer Fund lawsuit argues.

Marshall is now asking Judge Myron Thompson to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that helping a woman avoid Alabama’s restrictions by facilitating an abortion elsewhere is a conspiracy.

“The conspiracy is what is being punished, even if the final conduct never occurs,” Marshall’s filing states. “That conduct is Alabama-based and is within Alabama’s power to prohibit.”

Alabama has one of the strictest abortion bans in the country. In the wake of the Dobbs Supreme Court decision last summer, several Republican-led states passed strict anti-abortion laws, while several others, including Alabama, that had passed so-called trigger laws anticipating an eventual overturn of Roe v. Wade saw their new restrictions go into effect.

What Alabama Republicans, and Republicans everywhere in America want, is a pliant populace ruled by fear. women afraid of getting abortions in other states because their friends, family, and activists would face prison time for helping them in any way.

They want women alone and afraid.

All of us have to stand up to these assholes together. 

Orange Meltdown, Con't

As Donald Trump's constant legal troubles continue, it seems like every day there's a new development in at least one legal venue where Trump is facing ruination, and this week is no different. We switch gears to New York AG Tish James and her civil fraud case against Trump, where both sides are asking for summary judgment ahead of October's scheduled state civil fraud trial.
Before Donald J. Trump was indicted four times over, he was sued by New York’s attorney general, who said that for years the former president, his business and members of his family had fraudulently overvalued their assets by billions of dollars.

Before any of those criminal trials will take place, Mr. Trump is scheduled for a civil trial in New York in October. During the trial, the attorney general, Letitia James, will seek to bar him and three of his children from leading their family business, the Trump Organization, and to require him to pay a fine of around $250 million.

On Wednesday, Ms. James fired an opening salvo, arguing that a trial is not necessary to find that Mr. Trump and the other defendants inflated the value of their assets in annual financial statements, fraudulently obtaining favorable loans and insurance arrangements.

The fraud was so pervasive, she said in a court filing, that Mr. Trump had falsely boosted his net worth by between $812 million and $2.2 billion each year over the course of a decade.

“Based on the undisputed evidence, no trial is required for the court to determine that defendants presented grossly and materially inflated asset values,” the filing said.

But Mr. Trump’s lawyers, in their own motion, argued that the entire case should be thrown out, relying in large part on a recent appellate court decision that appeared as if it could significantly narrow the scope of the case because of a legal time limit. Mr. Trump had received most of the loans in question too long ago for the matter to be considered by a court, his lawyers argue.

“The appellate division has now limited the reach of the N.Y. A.G.’s crusade against President Trump and his family” wrote Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Christopher M. Kise, Michael Madaio and Clifford S. Robert.

Both filings seek what is known as summary judgment, or a ruling from the judge that they are entitled to a victory before trial based on undisputed facts in evidence.

Ms. James sought that ruling on the claim at the core of her case — that Mr. Trump’s financial statements were fraudulent — and if she prevails, it would mark a significant victory and could smooth her path to a potential win at trial on the remaining claims.

If Mr. Trump won even partial summary judgment, the case could become a shadow of what it once appeared, significantly lowering the stakes of the October trial.

Or the judge could deny both bids for early victory, which would simply set the case for trial.

The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, is scheduled to hold a hearing in late September and could rule then.

Ms. James’s lawsuit disputes the value of some of Mr. Trump’s best-known properties, including Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, and Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan. In her new filing, she wrote that, given the way that the worth of Trump Tower was calculated in 2018, it was overvalued by nearly $175 million. The following year, she said, the value of the building was falsely boosted by nearly $323 million.

“At the end of the day this is a documents case,” the filing unsealed on Wednesday said, adding that the documents left not a shred of doubt that Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements “do not even remotely reflect the ‘estimated current value’ of his assets.”

Ms. James also took aim at Mr. Trump for submitting the financial statements to obtain loans for a golf resort outside Miami, a hotel in Washington and a hotel in Chicago.

Yet Mr. Trump’s lawyers argue that Justice Engoron should throw out those transactions from the case, citing the recent appellate court ruling. In that ruling, the appeals court dismissed Ms. James’s case against his daughter, Ivanka Trump, because the accusations concerned conduct that had occurred too long ago. As Mr. Trump’s lawyers interpret the appellate ruling, any loans that Mr. Trump and his company received before July 2014 were too old to be included in the case.

The appeals court declined to throw out the case against Mr. Trump, his company and his two adult sons — effectively leaving it to Justice Engoron to decide. But Mr. Trump’s lawyers noted in their motion for summary judgment that the loans for the Chicago hotel and Florida resort were negotiated before the July 2014 legal deadline.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers also argued that Mr. Trump’s lenders did not rely heavily on his financial statements when issuing him loans, and that the lenders reaped millions from their dealings with the former president.

“The sophisticated private parties all profited considerably from successfully consummated transactions,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote. “Thus, ‘fraud’ cannot exist in the abstract or solely in the mind of the N.Y. A.G.”
This case too seems destined for a Trump-friendly Supreme Court, given the defendant is a ex-Oval Office occupant. Trump may not be able to force the trial into federal court, but I imagine he'll appeal any verdict against him as high as he can possibly go. Whether or not SCOTUS will take anything up is up in the air, but Trump will certainly demand it.

Hell, there's a fair chance he's back in the White House by the time this gets to SCOTUS, and we already know exactly what's going to happen if he does.
Former President Donald Trump joined controversial radio host Glenn Beck for an interview on Tuesday and was asked flat out if he would use the office of the president to jail his political opponents – as he promised to do in 2016.

“You said in 2016, you know, ‘lock her up.’ And then when you became president, you said, ‘We don’t do that in America.’ That’s just not the right thing to do. That’s what they’re doing. Do you regret not locking her up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?” Beck asked Trump.

“Well, I’ll give you an example. Uh, the answer is you have no choice because they’re doing it to us,” Trump replied, making clear he would.

“I always had such great respect for the office of the president and the presidency and but the office of the president. And I never hit Biden as hard as I could have. And then I heard he was trying to indict me and it was him that was doing it,” Trump continued, adding:

"You know, I don’t think he’s sharp enough to think about much, but he was there and he was probably the one giving the order. But he was, you know, hard to believe that he even thinks about that because he’s gone. But then I said, well, they’re actually trying to indict me because every one of these indictments is him, including Bragg. But he put his top people.

I don’t know if you know this, he put his top person into the office of the Manhattan district attorney. They’ve been in total coordination with Fani Willis. The woman that I never met, that they accused me of rape, that’s being run by a Democrat, a Democrat operative, and paid for by the Democrat party. You know, so many of these days, I have a couple of other lawsuits all funded against me by the Democrats. But these are sick people. These are evil people."
He's telling us that he will put dozens, maybe hundreds of Democrats in jail. We shouldn't exactly give him the chance, right?

The Turtle's Sad Ending, Con't

Mitch McConnell needed another reboot at an event in nearby Covington, KY on Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze again Wednesday, this time during a gaggle with reporters in Covington, Kentucky, stopping for more than 30 seconds after he was asked if he would run for re-election.

The Kentucky Republican froze in July at a news conference on Capitol Hill, going silent for 19 seconds before being escorted away from the cameras. McConnell, 81, returned shortly afterward and continued his news conference, telling reporters, “I’m fine.”

When it became apparent that McConnell had frozen again on Wednesday, an aide came up to him and asked, “Did you hear the question, senator?” McConnell continued to be unresponsive.

Once McConnell re-engaged, he responded briefly to another question about Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican; his aide needed to repeat the question to him. McConnell was then asked about former President Donald Trump, another question that had to be repeated. McConnell brushed off the question because he does not usually engage in Trump-related topics.

He then left. Reporters did not ask McConnell about the episode before he departed.

"Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today," a McConnell spokesperson said.

McConnell "feels fine," but will consult a doctor before his next event as "a prudential measure," an aide said.

McConnell spoke for about 20 minutes on Wednesday before the question-and-answer session with reporters.
Again, as someone who has been opining on Kentucky politics for 15 years now, I am telling you right now that there are zero scenarios where McConnell isn't replaced by an even worse Republican. Daniel Cameron, James Comer, Kelly Craft, Ryan Quarles, Thomas Massie, hell, even Matt Bevin might be on the list. 
Kentucky Republicans in the legislature get to decide who Gov. Beshear gets to choose from, and precisely none of those folks will be anyone other than a screaming MAGA chud. The party in control of the Senate seat gets to pick three names, and the Governor has to choose within 21 days.

Beshear might try to appoint a Democrat to the seat should McConnell not be able to continue and I hope he does challenge the law.

I don't see him winning however. Kentucky's Supreme Court is not going to side with him on this. Beshear's argument when he vetoed the bill doing this was that it violated the 17th Amendment of the US Constitution, and if it's a federal battle before SCOTUS, he'll 100% lose.

We'll see what happens, but this battle is going to get closer as the days roll on, and it may decide the Senate in 2024 at least temporarily. A special election would be a jungle primary mess, almost certainly coming down to two Republicans, so even if Beshear wins the legal fight, Kentucky political gravity will kick in and we'll have another GOP senator anyhow.

Like I said, there's no scenario where McConnell isn't replaced by a worse Republican.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Last Call For A Rudy, Awakening Con't

The hammer falls again on Rudy Giuliani, and by the time all the construction tools of justice get done with him, he's going to be spending his golden years spitting out chunks of drywall.

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Rudy Giuliani is legally liable for defaming two Georgia election workers who became the subject of conspiracy theories related to the 2020 election that were amplified by Donald Trump in the final weeks of his presidency.

In an unsparing, 57-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell said Giuliani had flagrantly violated her orders to preserve and produce relevant evidence to the election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, resulting in a “default” judgment against him. She is also ordering him to pay Freeman and Moss “punitive” damages for failing to fulfill his obligations.

“Just as taking shortcuts to win an election carries risks — even potential criminal liability — bypassing the discovery process carries serious sanctions,” Howell ruled.

Giuliani spent weeks accusing Freeman and Moss of manipulating ballots during Georgia’s vote counting process after the 2020 election, despite repeated investigations that debunked and discredited the allegations.

The harassment that Freeman and Moss endured as a result of these conspiracy theories is at the heart of some of the criminal charges now facing several of Trump’s co-defendants in the Georgia racketeering case brought by Fulton County prosecutors. Giuliani is charged in that case, in part, for “false statements” to Georgia legislators related to his attacks on Freeman and Moss.

Howell has now ordered the case to proceed to a trial purely to determine the amount of damages Giuliani will now be forced to shoulder on charges of defamation, civil conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

It’s unclear how much money the pair will seek in the trial, either in direct compensation for the damage to their reputations and other harms they faced or in terms of punitive damages–which can range to several multiples of the direct damages. The total might be influenced by what Giuliani does next.

Howell has given the former mayor until Sept. 20 to produce documents about his net worth, which she said he has dragged his feet on producing so far, as well as records from his companies related to the revenue produced by his “Common Sense” podcast.
Understand that Rudy fucked around so much, the judge ordered him directly into the Find Out phase, to determine solely how many millions he's going to fork over to the two Georgia election workers he made MAGA targets of.  He's guilty, It's just how much the damage will be.

And this will only be the beginning.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

The battle over Florida's position on slavery as Black history was far worse than previously thought, as the state objected to AP Black History being taught in the state because the course refused to consider the benefits of slavery for Black Americans, and it was too hard on the slave traders, nearly all of them white.

When Florida rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies, state officials said they objected to the study of several concepts — like reparations, the Black Lives Matter movement and “queer theory.”

But the state did not say that in many instances, its reviewers also made objections in the state’s attempt to sanitize aspects of slavery and the plight of African Americans throughout history, according to a Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times review of internal state comments.

For example, a lesson in the Advanced Placement course focused on how Europeans benefited from trading enslaved people and the materials enslaved laborers produced. The state objected to the content, saying the instructional approach “may lead to a viewpoint of an ‘oppressor vs. oppressed’ based solely on race or ethnicity.”

In another lesson about the beginnings of slavery, the course delved into how tens of thousands of enslaved Africans had been “removed from the continent to work on Portuguese-colonized Atlantic islands and in Europe” and how those “plantations became a model for slave-based economy in the Americans.”

In response, the state raised concerns that the unit “may not address the internal slave trade/system within Africa” and that it “may only present one side of this issue and may not offer any opposing viewpoints or other perspectives on the subject.”

“There is no other perspective on slavery other than it was brutal,” said Mary Pattillo, a sociology professor and the department chair of Black Studies at Northwestern University. Pattillo is one of several scholars the Herald/Times interviewed during its review of the state’s comments about the AP African American Studies curriculum.

“It was exploitative, it dehumanized Black people, it expropriated their labor and wealth for generations to come. There is no other side to that in African American studies. If there’s another side, it may be in some other field. I don’t know what field that is because I would argue there is no other side to that in higher education,” Pattillo said.

Alexander Weheliye, African American studies professor at Brown University, said the evaluators’ comments on the units about slavery were a “complete distortion” and “whitewashing” of what happened historically.

“It’s really trying to go back to an earlier historical moment, where slavery was mainly depicted by white historians through a white perspective. So to say that the enslaved and the sister African nations and kingdoms and white colonizers and enslavers were the same really misrecognizes the fundamentals of the situation,” Weheliye said.

The objections are an example of how Florida education officials are enforcing broad state laws and rules that restrict how schools can teach about racism and other aspects of history — and how the College Board’s pilot African American Studies course became a casualty of those policies.
To recap, everything I said earlier this year about Republicans withing to eliminate Black history and replace it with a white-friendly version where the "exploitation of human beings may have been bad but" nonsense is active, systemic racist violence against the children of an entire state and especially against the descendants of those Black slaves.
They want that history gone, if not criminalizing its teaching. 

Republicans hate us. They want to exterminate our history, so they can exterminate us.

Don't expect us to forgive you if you facilitate this brutality.

Black history, Black lives, they all matter.

Tangerine Versus Fourteen

I just don't see any of this getting past SCOTUS, but apparently there are legal challenges to Trump's 2024 election eligibility in the works in several states, starting with New Hampshire and Arizona.

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said Tuesday that his office is figuring out how to handle potential complaints over whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from appearing on the 2024 ballot.

The issue centers on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson raised the theory at last week’s GOP presidential debate that Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, might disqualify him on those grounds — a theory that has gained traction among some legal scholars, though others discount the possibility.

Now, the people running state elections are trying to figure out what to do if people bring legal challenges against Trump.

“We have to have a final certification of eligible candidates [for the primary ballot] by Dec. 14 for Arizona’s presidential preference election,” Fontes, a Democrat elected in 2022, told NBC News. “And because this will ultimately end up in court, we are taking this very seriously.”

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan is dealing with the same question as he watches a potential challenge to Trump brewing in his state. There, a Republican former Trump ally is considering bringing a 14th Amendment challenge against him.

“We need to run an election,” Fontes said. “We need to know who is eligible, and this is of incredible national interest. We aren’t taking a position one way or the other.”

“If there are people who want to fight this out, they need to start swinging because I have an election to run,” Fontes added.

New Hampshire’s Scanlan made the same point on Monday — that he is “not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot” but is trying to figure out what to do about potential challenges that are brewing.

It'll end up in court and SCOTUS will kill these challenges very quickly, stating that there's no way to disqualify anyone from running under the 14th Amendment, because five or six bought and paid for justices will say so, and that is that. 

Even if Trump were somehow tried and convicted by the end of the year, the Roberts Court would mark him eligible to run, he's going to win the primary, and he'll get 75-80 million votes in November 2024. We're going to have to beat him at the ballot box. We've done it before.
I hate to agree with David Frum on anything, but he's right on this. Let the 14th Amendment challenges die. They are doomed wastes of time. 

Besides, the clear winner of last week's debate was Donald Trump, and it's not close. GOP primary voters will absolutely nominate him if given a chance, regardless of his criminal status.

The rest of us will have to vote or we will be destroyed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Last Call For Garbage In, Garbage Out

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is the first GOP presidential hopeful casualty after this month's debate, having failed to make the cut for the dog and pony show, Suarez is slinking back to Magic City.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced Tuesday that he is ending his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“While I have decided to suspend my campaign for President, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains,” Suarez said in a statement.

Suarez’s move comes after he failed to fully meet the requirements set by the Republican National Committee to make the first presidential debate in Milwaukee last week. He had told CNN prior to the debate that candidates who do not make the stage should drop out – even if that included himself.

“I look forward to keeping in touch with the other Republican presidential candidates and doing what I can to make sure our party puts forward a strong nominee who can inspire and unify the country, renew Americans’ trust in our institutions and in each other, and win,” Suarez said Tuesday.

Suarez launched his long-shot bid for the presidency just over two months ago, in mid-June, urging Republicans to unify and evoking Ronald Reagan’s call for the party to rebuild its “big tent” coalition.

The son of Cuban immigrants, Suarez was the lone major Hispanic candidate in the Republican primary, which includes two higher-profile fellow Floridians: former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“I will continue to amplify the voices of the Hispanic community – the fastest-growing voting group in our country. The Left has taken Hispanics for granted for far too long, and it is no surprise that so many are finding a home in America’s conservative movement,” he said Tuesday.

Over his short-lived campaign, Suarez acknowledged he did not have the same name recognition as many of his GOP rivals.

“My opponents have been national figures for many years. I’ve been a national figure for 60 days. So, you know, I’m competing from behind,” Suarez said earlier this month at the Iowa State Fair.

He ultimately did not meet the polling criteria set by the RNC to make the Milwaukee debate stage, his campaign said. Candidates had to register at least 1% support in three national polls or in two national and two early-state polls that met the RNC’s criteria.

Nobody noticed his arrival, and nobody cares about his departure. Republicans in 2023 don't want a big tent, they want a big gun. Suarez's pre-Trump philosophy failed to get him noticed even in a room with Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson, not even enough to be a meme or a joke.

Garbage in, garbage out. It's Trump's party, with Trump's voters, and Trump's hatreds. Nobody else matters.

The Big Lie, Con't

James Saunders, the 56-year-old Shaker Heights tax attorney convicted last week of voting multiple times in the last two general elections, was sentenced to three years in prison, a judge decided Monday morning.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Andrew Santoli coupled Saunders' sentence with a $10,000 fine, a punishment, as Santoli detailed in last week's hearing, to match the severe violation against the nation's voting laws.

"You violated the premise that every citizen, regardless of race, creed or religion, speaks in one voice," Santoli told Saunders from the bench last Monday. "Your opinion does not outweigh other citizens."

Throughout the case, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office presented evidence that Saunders, who traveled regularly to a second home in Pompano Beach, Florida, attempted to cross states lines to vote multiple times, by mail and in person in Broward and Cuyahoga counties.

The case of election fraud was the first of its kind in 2023, county prosecutors present at trial told Scene. Because Saunders' duplicitous votes infringed on federal law, his actions in Florida were under Santoli's, and the court's, jurisdiction.

For both prosecutors present at trial and for Chief Prosecutor Michael O'Malley, the Saunders trial—and its steep sentencing—was a clear deterrent to future violators.

"One person one vote is the foundation of our democracy," O'Malley wrote in a statement. "I think the message is clear: do no commit election fraud in Cuyahoga County."
The system works, and it catches the actual vote cheaters.
And you know what?
It caught Trump and his merry band of clowns too.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan made good Monday on her admonishment of Donald Trump's social media attacks, setting the trial for his role in January 6th insurrection on March 4 of next year.
Judge Tanya Chutkan delivered that ruling after rejecting two wildly different trial schedules proposed by Trump’s attorneys and special counsel Jack Smith’s federal prosecutors.

The Department of Justice’s suggestion to take the case to trial on Jan. 2 “does not” give Trump enough time to prepare, Chutkan said in a Monday morning hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington.

But Trump’s proposal for an April 2026 trial date went “far beyond what is necessary,” the judge said, NBC News reported.

The jury selection process in the D.C. case is currently set to begin one day before Super Tuesday, the biggest day of elections in the presidential primary cycle.

Trump’s attorney John Lauro quickly rose to protest the trial schedule.

“In our judgment, that trial date is inconsistent with President Trump’s right to due process and the right to effective assistance of counsel,” Lauro said in the hearing. The judge noted his objection before moving on.
Fani Willis had asked for that date for Trump's Georgia trial, so we'll see when that gets scheduled, but again, this is the day before the Super Tuesday primaries. I don't think Trump's going to be complaining too loudly about that schedule. But he did complain anyway.

Trump vowed to appeal the decision as he attacked the judge on social media.

“Today a biased, Trump Hating Judge gave me only a two month extension, just what our corrupt government wanted,” Trump wrote in a livid social media post Monday afternoon.

“I will APPEAL!” he declared.
 You do that, champ. See how far that gets you with this judge.
Meanwhile we've now reached the point where the mobsters under Don Tangerini here are trying to get away with "I was only following his orders"

A former top White House aide to Donald Trump made a last-ditch bid to scuttle his upcoming trial for contempt of Congress, testifying to a federal judge on Monday that Trump “directed” him to defy the House Jan. 6 select committee.

Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser who pushed discredited claims of fraud about the 2020 election during Trump’s final days in office, is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 5 on criminal contempt charges for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the committee.

But Navarro has argued that Trump asserted executive privilege to shield him from having to cooperate with the committee’s request for testimony and documents. If Judge Amit Mehta agrees, he may order the charges dismissed.

At Monday’s hearing, Navarro took the stand and described his communications with Trump and his aides about two congressional subpoenas he received: one from the Jan. 6 panel and another from a separate congressional committee investigating the coronavirus pandemic.

Navarro said Trump communicated to him that he had invoked executive privilege, a legal doctrine that allows the president to withhold certain confidential communications from the other branches of government. Navarro’s lawyer, Stanley Woodward, asked Navarro if he went to a Jan. 6 select committee deposition.

“I was directed by the president not to,” Navarro replied.

Mehta’s decision is likely to turn on whether he buys Navarro’s description of his conversations with Trump, which were not backed by any documents or written confirmation that have accompanied other privilege assertions that Trump has made. 

"I can't be in contempt for not testifying if Trump ordered me not to and you can't prove he didn't so you must dismiss the case" is the most ballsy thing I've heard from Trump's motley crew so far.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took the witness stand in federal court Monday in a bid to get the criminal case charging him with tampering with the 2020 presidential election results moved out of state court and, ultimately, dismissed.

Meadows spent more than two and a half hours testifying during the morning session, declaring that he took an extremely wide-ranging view of his responsibilities as chief of staff and viewed that role as encompassing nearly all his actions prosecutors say amounted to corrupt pressure on Georgia officials.

If a federal judge agrees that Meadows’ actions plausibly fell within the scope of his federal duties, the case may get moved into federal court, and Meadows may be immune from the charges against him, which prosecutors brought under state law. Other defendants in the case, including Donald Trump himself, are expected to raise similar immunity arguments.
“It was a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week kind of job,” Meadows said during questioning by his lead attorney, George Terwilliger III. “It was a very broad responsibility. … I found myself on defense a lot with things coming at me from a million different directions.”

Meadows’ appearance was a gamble by his defense team, opening him to cross examination by the prosecution and locking him into a specific description of events in a way that will be difficult for him to vary from if the case goes to trial.

However, it gave Meadows a chance to try personally to persuade U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones that the charges brought by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis following a lengthy grand jury investigation intrude on fundamental federal responsibilities. Earlier this month, Willis charged Trump, Meadows and 17 other defendants with a sprawling “criminal enterprise” aimed at overturning the election in Georgia and other states.

Monday’s hearing was one of the only times Meadows — a former Republican member of Congress and once a ubiquitous power player in Washington — has been heard from in a public forum since Jan. 6, 2021.
The thing is Meadows will probably get away with it and he knows it.
We'll see.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Legal Eagles Edition

Trump's minions are planning to try to put bills defunding the conducting of all of his trials until after the November 2024 election.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) is proposing two amendments to an appropriations bill that would defund the various prosecutions of former President Trump.

He is adding to the defense of the former president mounted by Trump allies in the House as they circle the wagons in the face of four indictments.

Clyde, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, on Monday announced plans for two amendments to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) fiscal 2024 appropriations bill that would “prohibit the use of federal funding for the prosecution of any major presidential candidate prior to the upcoming presidential election on November 5th, 2024,” according to a press release.

One amendment would pertain to federal prosecutions and the other addresses federal funding for state prosecutions.

That bill, one of 12 regular appropriations bills, is expected to be marked up in the House Appropriations Committee after the House returns in mid-September.

Clyde said he is taking aim at special counsel Jack Smith, who has led charges against Trump relating to attempts to overturn the 2020 election results and retention of classified documents; Manhattan, N.Y., District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D), who charged Trump in relation to 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels; and Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis (D), who charged Trump again in relation to the 2020 election.

“Due to my serious concerns about these witch hunt indictments against President Trump, I intend to offer two amendments to prohibit any federal funds from being used in federal or state courts to prosecute major presidential candidates prior to the 2024 election,” Clyde said in a statement. “The American people get to decide who wins the White House — not Deep State actors who have shamelessly attacked Donald Trump since he announced his first bid in 2015. It is imperative that Congress use its power of the purse to protect the integrity of our elections, restore Americans’ faith in our government, and dismantle our nation’s two-tiered system of justice. I’m fully committed to helping lead this effort, and I call on my House Appropriations colleagues to join me in this righteous fight.”

Other staunch allies of Trump in the House have also pledged to use the funding process to defund the prosecutions against Trump.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has said she would introduce an amendment to defund Smith’s office, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in July introduced a bill to do so. Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) earlier this month introduced a bill to defund Smith’s federal salary.
So yes, House Republicans have a medicine chest full of poison pills to try to shut down the federal government next month, and this is but a few of the efforts to do so. We'll see how strongly Democrats are willing to stand against this idiocy. 

You have to admire these clowns designing legislation to block "all" prosecutions of "any" presidential candidates until after the election, as Trump may not be the only one this applies to by the time next year rolls around (looking at you, Vivek.)

No Country For Old Men, Con't

Heading into the tail end of the summer, Americans still overwhelmingly believe that Joe Biden is too old to effectively serve a second term, and while a bare majority believe the same of Trump across all US adults, Republicans are somewhat delusional still about Trump's age and health.

Americans actually agree on something in this time of raw discord: Joe Biden is too old to be an effective president in a second term. Only a few years his junior, Donald Trump raises strikingly less concern about his age.

But they have plenty of other problems with Trump, who at least for now far outdistances his rivals for the Republican nomination despite his multiple criminal indictments. Never mind his advanced years — if anything, some say, the 77-year-old ought to grow up.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds much of the public oddly united in sizing up the one trait Biden cannot change.

The president has taken to raising the age issue himself, with wisecracks, as if trying to relax his audiences about his 80 trips around the sun.

Age discrimination may be banned in the workplace but the president’s employers — the people — aren’t shy about their bias.

In the poll, fully 77% said Biden is too old to be effective for four more years. Not only do 89% of Republicans say that, so do 69% of Democrats. That view is held across age groups, not just by young people, though older Democrats specifically are more supportive of his 2024 bid.

In contrast, about half of U.S. adults say Trump is too old for the office, and here the familiar partisan divide emerges — Democrats are far more likely to disqualify Trump by age than are Republicans. 
Independent voters match the overall totals by a bit less. The perception of Biden as just too old for the job is across the board, even 69% of Democrats think so.
Only 28% of Republicans think Trump is too old, the rest believe that Fulton County booking record where Trump lied and said he was 6'3" and 215, literally NFL player stuff
Needless to say, Biden's already in the job, he bet Trump once already, and now Trump is weighed down by dozens of criminal counts. Even here in KY, I'm voting for Joe and I expect tens of millions will do so as well.


Orange Meltdown, Con't

Early this month, 49% of adults said in the ABC News/Ipsos poll that Trump should suspend his campaign -- and 50% say the same in the most recent survey. Only about a third of Americans in these polls don’t think Trump should suspend his campaign, with the rest undecided.

That figure portends some struggles for Trump should he make it to the general election.

Republican critics of Trump have for months lamented his primacy in the primary, insisting that he would be a liability in a general election given his baggage -- even as his campaign has decried the charges as "un-American."

"All this is gonna continue to weigh him down," Mike DuHaime, an adviser to former New Jersey governor and current GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie, told ABC News before the latest ABC News/Ipsos poll's release.

"He's been pretty skillful to this point, but I do think the weight will eventually get to him," DuHaime said of Trump. 


Donald Trump has turned his Georgia mugshot into a record-breaking fundraising haul.

The former president has raised $7.1 million since he was booked at an Atlanta jail Thursday evening, according to figures provided first to POLITICO by his campaign. On Friday alone, Trump raised $4.18 million, making it the single-highest 24-hour period of his campaign to date, according to a person familiar with the totals.

The campaign’s fundraising has been powered by merchandise it has been selling through his online store. After Trump was taken into custody, the campaign began selling shirts, posters, bumper stickers and beverage coolers bearing Trump’s scowling mugshot. The items bear the tagline “NEVER SURRENDER!” and range in price from $12 to $34.

The campaign has also been prodding online donors with emails and text messages. And on Thursday night, while flying back from Atlanta to Bedminster, N.J. Trump sent out his first tweet in more than two years directing supporters to his website. The site’s landing page includes the mugshot and asks supporters to “make a contribution to evict Crooked Joe Biden from the White House and SAVE AMERICA during this dark chapter in our nation’s history.”

The fundraising blitz illustrates how Trump has parlayed his four indictments into campaign cash, rallying his hardcore supporters.

Trump’s campaign says it has raised nearly $20 million in the last three weeks, during which time Trump was indicted on charges related to his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and for trying to overturn the Georgia vote count in the 2020 election. That figure is more than half of what Trump raised during his first seven months in the 2024 race.
Deprogramming your family, neighbors, co-workers and other folks you know (I'm assuming that alfter all this time, nobody left in the MAGA camp is still a friend for most of you) will be the work of the rest of our lifetimes, and that's just to get back those who can be saved.
The rest are okay with the whole white supremacist domestic terrorism thing.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Last Call For Black Lives Matter

 They keep killing us, as they have been for 400 years, the American dream and all. Sometimes we live, and sometimes we die for no reason other than we are Black.

Three people were killed Saturday in a racially motivated attack after a gunman targeted Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, in one of several weekend shootings that again shocked Americans in public places – from stores to football games to parades.

“This shooting was racially motivated and he hated Black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said at a news conference early Saturday evening.

Waters said the shooter, who he described as a White man in his 20s, shot and killed himself after the attack. The suspect left behind what the sheriff described as three manifestos outlining his “disgusting ideology of hate” and his motive in the attack.

All three victims, two men and one woman, were Black.

Waters said the shooter lived in Clay County, Florida, south of Jacksonville, with his parents. Jacksonville is located in northeast Florida, about 35 miles south of the Georgia border.

Waters said the shooter told his father by text to “check his computer.” The father found documents described by Waters as manifestos and called authorities.

But Waters said by the time authorities were alerted about the manifestos, the gunman had already started the attack in the Dollar General.

The shooting started shortly after 1 p.m. ET, blocks away from Edward Waters University, a historically Black school where students living on campus were told to stay in their residence halls. Waters said the gunman was seen on the school’s campus before heading to the Dollar General. No one was injured on the campus.

“He took that opportunity to put his bulletproof vest on outside and to put his mask on outside and then proceed to the store where he committed this horrible act,” Waters told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Edward Waters University officials said the shooter was turned away from its campus after refusing to identify himself.

“The individual returned to their car and left campus without incident. The encounter was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office by EWU security,” according to a university news release.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said the gunman barricaded himself inside the store after the attack. It was not immediately clear if victims were shot inside or outside the store.

The sheriff said investigators believe the gunman acted alone and wore both a tactical vest and mask during the attack. He was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and a handgun.

To recap, a white supremacist armed with weapons and protecting himself with a tactical vest and mask went to a private Christian historically Black university with the intent of killing Black people. When the security staff turned him away, he went to a Dollar General in Jacksonville and killed three Black people and then himself.

Maybe he would have killed dozens or more. In America, being Black means that sometimes, we take comfort in the fact that fewer of us are killed by fate, mourning three instead of three dozen.

Sixty years ago this weekend Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous Dream speech on Washington DC. Several states will barely teach current students about that fact, and they definitely won't cover King's other speeches where he dismantled the notion that his dream was possible without real work from white moderates, and that they needed to get started on that. Sixty years later, not much has changed.

But Black Lives Still Matter. 

Inflation Nation, Con't

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, in his annual speech from the Fed Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (the most unequal city in America, mind you) warned that while the risk of inflation is down, the rate hikes might not be over for 2023, and that even if they are, interest rates will stay at 5%+ for the foreseeable future.
Jerome H. Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, pledged during a closely watched speech that his central bank would stick by its push to stamp out high inflation “until the job is done” and said that officials stood ready to raise interest rates further if needed.

Mr. Powell, who was speaking Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual Jackson Hole conference in Wyoming, said that the Fed would “proceed carefully” as it decided whether to make further policy adjustments after a year and a half in which it had pushed interest rates up sharply.

But even as Mr. Powell emphasized that the Fed was trying to balance the risk of doing too much and hurting the economy more than is necessary against the risk of doing too little, he was careful not to take a victory lap around a recent slowing in inflation. His speech hammered home one main point: Officials want to see more progress to convince them that they are truly bringing price increases under control.

“The message is the same: It is the Fed’s job to bring inflation down to our 2 percent goal, and we will do so,” Mr. Powell said, comparing his speech to a stern set of remarks he delivered at last year’s Jackson Hole gathering.

Central bankers have lifted interest rates to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent, up from near-zero as recently as March 2022, in a bid to cool the economy and wrestle inflation lower. They have been keeping the door open to the possibility of one more rate increase, and have been clear that they expect to leave interest rates elevated for some time.

Mr. Powell kept that message alive on Friday.

“We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate, and intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we are confident that inflation is moving sustainably down toward our objective,” he said.

But the Fed chair noted that “at upcoming meetings we are in a position to proceed carefully as we assess the incoming data and the evolving outlook and risks,” and that officials would “decide whether to tighten further or, instead, to hold the policy rate constant and await further data.”

That suggests that central bankers are not determined to raise interest rates at their upcoming meeting in September. Instead, they might wait until later in the year — they have meetings in November and December — before making a decision about whether borrowing costs need to climb further. Striking a patient stance would give officials more time to assess how the moves they have already made are affecting the economy.

“I think this does pave the way for a pause at the September meeting, and leaves their options open after,” said Laura Rosner-Warburton, senior economist at MacroPolicy Perspectives. “We’re close to the top, we may be there, and they’re going to move carefully.”

Mr. Powell made clear that the Fed was not in a rush to raise rates again, but he remained cautious about the risk of further inflation.

Price increases have come down notably in recent months, to around 3 percent as measured by the Fed’s preferred gauge. That is still higher than the Fed’s 2 percent inflation goal, though it is down sharply from a 7 percent peak last summer.

And there are signs of stubbornness lingering under the surface. After stripping out food and fuel for a look at the underlying trend, the central bank’s preferred inflation gauge is still running at about twice the Fed’s goal.

“The process still has a long way to go, even with the more favorable recent readings,” Mr. Powell said. “We can’t yet know the extent to which these lower readings will continue or where underlying inflation will settle over coming quarters.”

That is partly because the Fed is trying to assess how much its policy adjustments are really weighing on the economy and, through it, inflation.

The Fed’s higher borrowing costs have been cutting into demand for cars and houses by making auto loans and mortgages more expensive, and they are probably discouraging business expansions and cooling the job market.

But it is unclear just how severely the Fed’s current policy setting is weighing on the economy. Rates are much higher than the level that most economists think is necessary to keep the economy growing below its potential run rate, but such estimates are subject to error.

“There is always uncertainty about the precise level of monetary policy restraint,” Mr. Powell acknowledged Friday.
So, there's that.
Still, we're at the point where Powell and the Fed are feathering the brakes and not slamming on the pedal like they were last year. We may actually make it through this without a crippling recession.
Or not, if House Republicans in the Freedom Caucus crash the economy in the next six weeks, which is certainly something that might happen. Then again, when these clowns are begging Trump not to start another insurrection, all bets are off.


Sunday Long Read: The Far Future Of Nearsightedness

In our Sunday Long Read from Amit Katwala at Wired Magazine, while it seems the overwhelming prevalence of myopia in Taiwan has led to much scientific hand-wringing and social wrangling, the solution is apparently simple: get more outdoor light.


DOING SURGERY ON the back of the eye is a little like laying new carpet: You must begin by moving the furniture. Separate the muscles that hold the eyeball inside its socket; make a delicate cut in the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the eye. Only then can the surgeon spin the eyeball around to access the retina, the thin layer of tissue that translates light into color, shape, movement. “Sometimes you have to pull it out a little bit,” says Pei-Chang Wu, with a wry smile. He has performed hundreds of operations during his long surgical career at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung, an industrial city in southern Taiwan.

Wu is 53, tall and thin with lank dark hair and a slightly stooped gait. Over dinner at Kaohsiung’s opulent Grand Hotel, he flicks through files on his laptop, showing me pictures of eye surgery—the plastic rods that fix the eye in place, the xenon lights that illuminate the inside of the eyeball like a stage—and movie clips with vision-related subtitles that turn Avengers: Endgame, Top Gun: Maverick, and Zootopia into public health messages. He peers at the screen through Coke bottle lenses that bulge from thin silver frames.

Wu specializes in repairing retinal detachments, which happen when the retina separates from the blood vessels inside the eyeball that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. For the patient, this condition first manifests as pops of light or dark spots, known as floaters, which dance across their vision like fireflies. If left untreated, small tears in the retina can progress from blurred or distorted vision to full blindness—a curtain drawn across the world.

When Wu began his surgical career in the late 1990s, most of his patients were in their sixties or seventies. But in the mid-2000s, he started to notice a troubling change. The people on his operating table kept getting younger. In 2016, Wu performed a scleral buckle surgery—fastening a belt around the eye to fix the retina into place—on a 14-year-old girl, a student at an elite high school in Kaohsiung. Another patient, a prominent programmer who had worked for Yahoo, suffered two severe retinal detachments and was blind in both eyes by age 29. Both of these cases are part of a wider problem that’s been growing across Asia for decades and is rapidly becoming an issue in the West too: an explosion of myopia.

Myopia, or what we commonly call nearsightedness, happens when the eyeball gets too long—it deforms from soccer ball to American football—and then the eye focuses light not on the retina but slightly in front of it, making distant objects appear blurry. The longer the eyeball becomes, the worse vision gets. Ophthalmologists measure this distortion in diopters, which refer to the strength of the lens required to bring someone’s vision back to normal. Anything worse than minus 5 diopters is considered “high myopia”—somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of myopia diagnoses around the world are in this category. In China, up to 90 percent of teenagers and young adults are myopic. In the 1950s the figure was as low as 10 percent. A 2012 study in Seoul found that an astonishing 96.5 percent of 19-year-old men were nearsighted. Among high schoolers in Taiwan, it’s around 90 percent. In the US and Europe, myopia rates across all ages are well below 50 percent, but they’ve risen sharply in recent decades. It’s estimated that by 2050, half the world’s population will need glasses, contacts, or surgery to see across a room. High myopia is now the leading cause of blindness in Japan, China, and Taiwan.

If those trends continue, it’s likely that millions more people around the world will go blind much earlier in life than they—or the societies they live in—are prepared for. It’s a “ticking time bomb,” says Nicola Logan, an optometry professor at the UK’s Aston University. She wasn’t the only expert I talked to who used that phrase. Because so much of Taiwan’s population is already living life with myopia, the island nation has already glimpsed what could be coming for the rest of us. And in a rare confluence, the country may also be the best place to look for solutions.
Literally the solution to the myopia epidemic in Asia is "send kids outside more" instead of keeping them in dimly lit classrooms all year. Australia's occurrence of myopia among kids is just 13%, where in Japan, China and Taiwan it's around half.

So yeah, go let the kids play outside for a bit.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Last Call For Sim City 2023

For years now, a mysterious investment group called Flannery Associates has been buying up tens of thousands of acres of farmland in Solano County, California, northeast of San Francisco. Speculation has been rampant as to who the buyers really were, and the situation had not just state but federal officials pursuing the truth as the land bought was increasingly near Travis AFB.

Yesterday, with increasing pressure from Washington DC, Sacramento, and county officials, Flannery Associates took off the mask to reveal some of the wealthiest tech players in America, and their intent to build a major new US city from scratch.
Flannery is the brainchild of Jan Sramek, 36, a former Goldman Sachs trader who has quietly courted some of the tech industry’s biggest names as investors, according to the pitch and people familiar with the matter. The company’s ambitions expand on the 2017 pitch: Take an arid patch of brown hills cut by a two-lane highway between suburbs and rural land, and convert into it into a community with tens of thousands of residents, clean energy, public transportation and dense urban life.

The company’s investors, whose identities have not been previously reported, are a who’s who of Silicon Valley, according to three people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

They include Mr. Moritz; Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder, venture capitalist and Democratic donor; Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon, investors at the Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm; Patrick and John Collison, the sibling co-founders of the payments company Stripe; Laurene Powell Jobs, founder of the Emerson Collective; and Nat Friedman and Daniel Gross, entrepreneurs turned investors. Andreessen Horowitz is also a backer. It was unclear how much each had invested.

Brian Brokaw, a representative for the investor group, said in a statement that the group was made up of “Californians who believe that Solano County’s and California’s best days are ahead.” He said the group planned to start working with Solano County residents and elected officials, as well as with Travis Air Force Base, next week.

In California, housing has long been an intractable problem, and Silicon Valley’s moguls have long been frustrated with the Bay Area’s real estate shortage, and the difficulty of building in California generally, as their work forces have exploded. Companies like Google have clashed with cities like Palo Alto and Mountain View over expanding their headquarters, while their executives have funded pro-development politicians and the “Yes in my backyard” activists who have pushed for looser development and zoning laws in hopes of making it easier to build faster and taller.

The practical need for more space has at times morphed into lofty visions of building entire cities from scratch. Several years ago, Y Combinator, the start-up incubator, announced an initiative with dreams of turning empty land into a new economy and society. Years before that, Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and billionaire Facebook investor, invested in the Seasteading Institute, an attempt to build a new society on lily pad-like structures in the law-and-tax-free open ocean.

But while these ideas have garnered lots of attention and curiosity — lauded in some corners for vision and derided in others for hubris — they have been little more than talk.

As Flannery began seeking property, it bought so much land, so fast, that it spooked locals who had no idea who the buyer was or the plans it had in mind. Catherine Moy, the mayor of Fairfield, Calif., started posting about the project on Facebook several years ago after she got a call from a farmer about some mystery buyer making offers throughout the county. In an interview, Ms. Moy said she had gone to the county assessor’s office and found that Flannery had purchased tens of thousands of acres.

John Garamendi, a Democrat who along with Mike Thompson, another Democrat, represents the surrounding region in Congress, said he had been trying to figure out the company’s identity for four years.

“I couldn’t find out anything,” he said.

On Friday, he said that had suddenly changed. This week representatives for Flannery reached out to him and other elected officials requesting meetings about their plans. That meeting is now being scheduled, he said.

“This is their first effort, ever, to talk to any of the local representatives, myself included,” he said.

The land that Flannery has been purchasing is not zoned for residential use, and even in his 2017 pitch, Mr. Moritz acknowledged that rezoning could “clearly be challenging” — a nod to California’s notoriously difficult and litigious development process.

To pull off the project, the company will almost certainly have to use the state’s initiative system to get Solano County residents to vote on it. The hope is that voters will be enticed by promises of thousands of local jobs, increased tax revenue and investments in infrastructure like parks, a performing arts center, shopping, dining and a trade school.

The financial gains could be huge, Mr. Moritz said in the 2017 pitch. He estimated the return could be many times the initial investment just from the rezoning, and far more if and when they started building.

“If the plans materialize anywhere close to what is being contemplated, this should be a spectacular investment,” Mr. Moritz wrote.
I figure by 2077, this place will be Night City. And I don't mean that in a good way.

Like Elongated Muskrat and Mars, the obvious solution of investing in housing in San Francisco and Oakland for people with $800 million sitting around just hasn't occurred to these titans of industry, but then again they wouldn't get to make all the rules in their tech dystopia hellscape, now would they?

A Price-Less World

Bob Barker, who hosted "The Price Is Right" for 35 years, has died, his representative, Roger Neal, told CBS News on Saturday. He was 99.

Barker died at home, Neal said, adding that, "he had a beautiful life."

Barker appeared on national television for over 50 years. Before his time at the country's longest-running game show on CBS, he hosted one of the nation's first televised game shows, "Truth or Consequences," for nearly 20 years, earning him recognition in the Guinness World Records book as television's "most durable performer."

On "Truth or Consequences," Barker charmed audiences with his quips and plainspoken style. Every December 21, show creator Ralph Edwards and Barker would drink a toast at lunch to celebrate the day in 1956 when Edwards notified Barker – who had no previous television experience – that he was going to become the host. He stayed with the program for 18 years, calling it a "fun show," during a chat at the Google headquarters.

In 1972, Barker began hosting a revival of "The Price Is Right," which originally aired in the '50s and '60s, and he stayed in that position for 35 years. Audience members were enthusiastic about their affable host; some participants asked for kisses, which Barker once obliged by smooching a fan square on the lips while dipping her backward. Another fan told Barker she dreamed he was chasing her in a hayloft.

During his career, Barker was honored with 19 Emmy Awards, 14 as host of "The Price Is Right," four as the show's executive producer and a lifetime achievement award. In 2004, Barker was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Robert Barker was born in Darrington, Washington, on Dec. 12, 1923, to Matilda, a schoolteacher, and Byron, an electrical power foreman. He spent most of his childhood on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and was a citizen of the tribe.

His mother was a schoolteacher and then a county superintendent of schools. Barker's father died after falling from a utility pole in 1929, and eight years later, his mother remarried and the family moved to Springfield, Missouri.

In high school, at the age of 15, Barker met and fell in love with his future wife, Dorothy Jo Gideon. Their first date was on Nov. 17, 1939, when he took her to see an Ella Fitzgerald concert. Barker said they "were never separated from then on" – until her death in 1981 from lung cancer.

Barker attended Drury College in Springfield, and when World War II started, he joined the Navy as a fighter pilot. After the war ended, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics. The couple tried living in Florida before moving to Los Angeles, where he became the host of his own radio program, "The Bob Barker Show," before moving to television.

His first – and only – feature film role was for the 1996 Adam Sandler movie "Happy Gilmore," in which he throws punches at the star. Barker said during an interview that audience members for "The Price Is Right" would ask him about that scene and say, "Can you really beat up Adam Sandler?"

Outside of his storied television career, Barker was a renowned animal activist who once testified before Congress in support of a federal ban against using elephants in traveling shows and for rides.

Barker made headlines for his passionate support of animals during the 1987 Miss USA pageant when he refused to host if contestants wore real furs during the televised event. Producers acquiesced and contestants wore synthetic furs that year, but the following year – after 21 years of hosting - Barker resigned when producers refused to stop giving fur coats as prizes.

Barker gave large endowments ranging from $500,000 to $1 million to the law schools of numerous universities, including Harvard, Duke, Columbia, University of Virginia, Northwestern and UCLA, for the study and support of animal rights law.

In 1995, he started the DJ&T Foundation in honor of his late wife and mother to give to free or low-cost clinics or voucher programs to spay or neuter pets in an effort to control animal overpopulation. After nearly 30 years of donating to clinics and supporting animals, the foundation stopped activity in 2022.

For his final "Price Is Right" show that aired on June 15, 2007, Barker ended his run with his familiar plea: "Help control the pet population. Have your pet spayed or neutered!"
To this day, the Zandarparents will tell you that I grew up watching Bob Barker as a baby and never really stopped as a kid through college. I think my entire younger Gen X/elder Millennial cohort tuned in whenever we were home sick from school. Drew Carey has made the show his own now after more than 15 years, but the OGs remember Bob, announcer Johnny Olson, and Barker's Beauties teaching us about California's retail economics.

Bob's right up there with Fred Rogers and Levar Burton for me.

Thanks for all the memories, Bob.

A Rudy Awakening, Con't

Remember that both Arizona and Michigan, with Democrats as each state's AG and Governor, are investigating their own slates of fraudulent 2020 electors in addition to Georgia, and many of the players at the national level, Trump's inner circle f criminals, are mostly the same. Arizona's AG Kris Mayes in particular would like to have a few words with one Rudolph Giuliani.
PROSECUTORS IN ARIZONA are “aggressively” ramping up their criminal probe into the 2020 fake electors plot aimed at keeping then-President Donald Trump in power. They’re not just looking at the fake electors, though. Rudy Giuliani is also now high on their list.

Two sources with knowledge of the matter tell Rolling Stone that in the past several weeks, state prosecutors have been asking questions about the former New York mayor who became a ringleader in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Investigators assigned to the case by Arizona’s Democratic attorney general Kris Mayes have recently asked potential witnesses and other individuals specific questions not only about Giuliani’s behind-the-scenes conduct, but that of other key Trump lieutenants at the time, as well.

Prosecutors appear particularly interested in a number of notable meetings and phone calls, including a late November 2020 meeting with members of Arizona’s state legislature convened by the Trump legal team, which aired bogus claims of voter fraud and lobbied lawmakers to “take over” the state’s selection of electors, the sources say.

Arizona’s attorney general has publicly referred to the case as an investigation into “fake electors,” but the questions about Giuliani suggest that investigators may be interested in probing pro-Trump figures who were higher up on the food chain in addition to the 11 Republicans who falsely claimed to be the state’s legitimate electors.

In public comments following the Fulton County, Georgia, indictment of Trump and his associates earlier this month, Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes called for patience, saying “we are doing a thorough and professional investigation and we’re going to do it on our timetable as justice demands.”
State investigators have also at times inquired about Trump’s level of personal involvement in the Arizona-focused pressure campaign, one of the people with knowledge of the situation says. The campaign was part of a multi-state fake elector scheme, which along with other aspects of Trump’s crusade to overturn Joe Biden’s legitimate 2020 victory has figured prominently into multiple federal and state-level criminal probes.

Giuliani’s attorney and a Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on this story. The Arizona attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Arizona law enforcement officials have also been looking into the activities of former Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward and her role as a fake elector. As Rolling Stone reported last week, prosecutors have asked possible witnesses about a December 2020 signing ceremony where Ward and 10 other Republicans signed documents falsely attesting to be Arizona’s legitimate electors.
Going after ward, and God willing, Kari Lake as well, would go a long way towards people in the Grand Canyon State getting a big dose of The Find Out Phase. 

We'll see if Arizona is as gung-ho as Fani Willis is.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Last Call For The Road To Gilead Goes Through Ohio, Con't

Having been roundly defeated in their efforts to make the vote in November on Issue 1 enshrining reproductive rights into the state constitution more difficult by requiring 60% of the vote, Ohio Republicans led by GOP Secretary of State and US Senate hopeful Frank LaRose are changing the rules again, trying to put a thumb, arm, shoulder, torso and body on the scale to muddle the language of the ballot initiative.
In a 3-2 split decision Thursday, the Ohio Ballot Board rejected using the full text of a proposed reproductive rights amendment on the ballot in November, adopting instead summary language written by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office that was criticized for being incomplete and inaccurate.

The board’s approval of the language – which is now titled Issue 1 for the November general election – was the next step in the process of voters deciding whether or not the Ohio Constitution will include the right to abortion, as well as contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing one’s own pregnancy. Those last four items were all left out of the language approved by the ballot board majority.

The summary language does not change what the actual amendment would state in the constitution, but would be the last representation of the amendment voters read before the casting their approval or rejection.

The full text of the amendment will be available at boards of elections during the election, but not in the ballot booths with voters. LaRose said posters with the text will be accessible at voting locations.

In the summary language approved by the board, the medical term “fetus” is changed to “unborn child,” and the amendment’s “decision” language is changed to “medical treatment.”

The leader of the Ohio Ballot Board, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, said the changes were made by “staff” of the board, though Democratic board member and state Rep. Elliot Forhan said “I would assume that the buck stops with the secretary of state.”

LaRose during the meeting also said that, “having worked extensively on drafting this, I do believe it’s fair and accurate.”

LaRose has been vocal in his opposition of the amendment, even saying the effort around the previous Issue 1, which would have changed the threshold to approve a constitutional amendment had it not been roundly defeated, was targeting the abortion rights fight specifically.

At the beginning of Thursday’s meeting, he prefaced the board’s activity by saying the group was not there to “debate the merits” of the amendment or the marijuana ballot initiative also on the table at the meeting.

Board member and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, however, gave a speech in the middle of the meeting harshly criticizing the amendment and calling it “a bridge too far,” even after multiple comments by LaRose about the neutrality with which the board was supposed to conduct their business.

“This is a dangerous amendment that I’m going to fight tirelessly against,” Gavarone said. “But that’s not why we’re here today.”

Gavarone also claimed, as anti-abortion groups throughout the state do as well, that the amendment is “an assault on parental rights.” Neither the amendment nor the summary approved by the board mention parental rights of any kind.

The senator continued her comments during the board meeting, saying the true nature of the amendment “is hidden behind overly broad language,” despite the fact that the board summary took out pieces of the full text.

The summary passed by the board does not include a list of the rights to “reproductive decisions” spelled out in the ballot measure, including contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, and miscarriage care, all of which would be impacted under the new constitutional amendment.
So one more set of hurdles on the amendment itself, and Republicans are forced to rewrite and hide the fact the ballot initiative will protect a number of reproductive rights for Ohioans, because that would be popular and the vote might actually pass.
Republicans of course can't have that. I fully expect that should the ballot initiative pass, the most corrupt GOP state legislature in the country will simply turn to the GOP-controlled State Supreme Court to interpret that the state's abortion ban meets the criteria of the language of the ballot amendment, or far more likely in a ruling that favors the amendment and strikes down the law, Republicans will ignore it fully.

I mean, we've already gotten to the point where the state is ignoring the Court's ruling on gerrymandering, now stuck in a permanent limbo where even if the state Supreme Court doesn't play ball, Republicans will ignore the ballot measure and the courts and continue to shut down abortion clinics and hospital procedures in the state anyway.

There just isn't any reason to believe that Republicans will pay attention to the ballot measure if it wins, or they'll just make it impossible to enforce with loopholes and evasions that would make Republicans in Florida and Texas jealous.

I do expect the ballot to win in November.

The real fight begins then.

The Moose Lady Is Loose: Civil War Edition

In a bid to make herself relevant in GOP politics again, Alaska's biggest loser called on people to rise up after Trump's arrest on Newsmax on Thursday night. 
Sarah Palin responded to Donald Trump’s arrest in Georgia on Thursday night by talking up the possibility of civil war. Speaking to Eric Bolling as the former president was booked at the Fulton County Jail on election interference charges, Palin slammed “those who are conducting this travesty and creating this two-tier system of justice.” “I want to ask them: What the heck?” the former Alaska governor said. “Do you want us to be in civil war? Because that’s what’s going to happen. We’re not going to keep putting up with this.” Addressing Bolling, Palin went on to say: “I like that you suggested that we need to get angry. We do need to rise up and take our country back.
If you didn't have Moose Lady on your bingo card calling for open revolt against the US, well, nobody did because she's the kind of GOP "luminary" that has to go on Newsmax to get any attention at all, and while it's pretty disturbing to see he call for civil war, I'm betting she'll have a good time with the attention she'll get in the near future...from federal law enforcement. 

All proving that we dodged a bullet with John McCain's loss to Obama, Jesus.

Going Viral In Kentucky, Con't

Welcome back to school here in Kentucky, kids. You may think Covid is over. Covid doesn't think it's over with you.

Two school districts in eastern Kentucky have canceled in-person classes this week after a rise in illnesses including Covid-19, respiratory viruses and strep among its students and staff, according to local officials.

The Lee County School District, which enrolls just under 900 students, reported an 82% decrease in attendance last Friday, which it attributed to illnesses including flu and colds, Superintendent Earl Ray Shuler said. 
Lee County started the school year on August 8. By Monday of this week, the attendance rate had dropped to 81%, with 14 staff members also out sick, Shuler said.

Shuler said all buildings and buses are being sanitized, and all student activities for the remainder of the week are canceled.

Classwork will be done remotely for the remainder of the week. In-person learning returns Monday.

Students who had Covid-19 will be required to wear masks for five days when students return to school, Shuler said.

Magoffin County Schools, which has approximately 1,800 students, has seen its student attendance plummet from 95% last week to 83% on Wednesday, Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Chris Meadows told CNN by phone.

Meadows said the district made the decision Wednesday to cancel classes for the remainder of the week and will have students return to school Monday.

“We just kept seeing a trend,” Meadows said. “It’s not an easy decision, I don’t like to close school.”
A not-so-gentle reminder that the pandemic is still very much with us, and with one out of every five kids sick already in some districts, it's only going to get worse once we hit the heart of flu and Covid season later this fall. 

Believe it, from the guy who's taking care of loads of leave of absence tickets at your local enterprise IT desk because HR forces you on to short-term leave if you're out sick more than 3 straight days. Those tickets are way up too since school started, with snotty little kids bringing diseases to and from the local petri dish with 35 kids stuffed in a classroom and getting mom and dad sick.

It's going to be a bad winter.
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