Saturday, September 30, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition, Con't

House GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy bet it all on a 45-day extension on funding the government, minus billions in Ukraine aid. Democratic House leader Hakeem Jeffries let the Democratic caucus go along on the bill, and it passed. The question is, how long does Kevin McCarthy have left before he's deposed?

When he walked into the Capitol on Saturday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy knew exactly what he’d do to stave off a shutdown: Call up a bill that abandoned the border policy and spending cuts he’d preached for weeks.

McCarthy’s move marked an abrupt shift after spending most of the year trying to placate all corners of his party — including a dozen-plus hardliners who have made it next to impossible for him to maneuver anything onto the floor. After the vote, McCarthy all but taunted his critics to come after his gavel if they wanted to.

And their first chance to do that will be Monday night. Multiple House conservatives confirmed in interviews they will begin seriously mulling whether they will try to seize McCarthy’s gavel in the coming days.

“I think it is a surrender,” said Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), one of multiple conservatives who warned McCarthy not to accept Democratic help to avoid a shutdown.

In the end, the 45-day funding patch that is on track to keep the government open passed with more Democratic than GOP votes, in a repeat of the spring debt vote that first inflamed McCarthy’s opponents.

The bill was finished just before midnight on Friday. But McCarthy didn’t unveil his plans to take up the bill until almost 11 hours later, after a choreographed parade of Republicans took the mic during a private 90-minute meeting to argue for exactly his proposal.

Dozens of conservatives ended up voting against the bill, which gave in on their two biggest priorities — spending cuts beyond McCarthy’s spring debt deal and hard-right border policies. Still, McCarthy wanted the groundswell of support for it to look like an organic move by his members, rather an order down from leadership.

Mere hours later, a majority of House Republicans backed the type of shutdown-averting bill that the California Republican had repeatedly sworn was unacceptable. McCarthy’s 180-degree turn could soon threaten his speakership, giving conservatives who have threatened to try to eject him plenty of fodder to make their move.

“You can’t form a coalition of more Democrats than you have Republicans who you’re supposed to be the leader of, and not think that there’s going to be serious, serious fallout,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) said. He confirmed that after Saturday’s spending vote, they would start discussions about ousting the speaker.

Freedom Caucus member Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) acknowledged that McCarthy’s speakership is “probably” in danger, but added: “I’m not even getting into that right now. There are other members that have to decide if they want to bring that or not.”

House Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Scott Perry (R–Pa.) said he did not expect an effort to oust McCarthy because Republicans didn’t “have any other option” but to bring up a clean spending patch after GOP holdouts tanked their own party’s plan.

But Perry — who has himself lost sway with some more conservative members — didn’t commit to opposing a McCarthy ouster. He told POLITICO: “The case has to be made. So we’ll listen to the argument.”

McCarthy’s biggest antagonist, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), has not yet declared that he intends to force a vote to boot the speaker over the Saturday vote.

“That will be something I will chat with my colleagues about,” Gaetz said, just before the bill passed on the floor.
On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans scrapped their deal with Chuck Schumer to instead go with McCarthy's House bill.  The bill passed and the shutdown will be averted.

Whether McCarthy survives the week as Speaker, well, place your bets now. 

Either way, we get to go through this again in mid-November.

Orange Meltdown: LOL U LMAD Edition

The first of Trump's Georgia RICO case co-conspirators has taken a plea deal to turn state's evidence against the rest.
Bail bondsman Scott Hall on Friday became the first defendant in the Fulton County election interference case to take a plea agreement with prosecutors, signaling the probe has entered a dynamic new phase.

During an impromptu hearing before Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee with his attorney at his side, Hall pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties.

Hall agreed to testify truthfully when called, five years probation, a $5,000 fine, 200 hours of community service and a ban on polling and election administration-related activities. He also recorded a statement for prosecutors and pledged to pen a letter of apology to Georgia voters.

Hall was indicted last month in connection with the breach of sensitive voting data in Coffee County in South Georgia on Jan. 7, 2021. He had been charged with racketeering and six felony counts of conspiracy.

The agreement is a victory for prosecutors, who are preparing for at least two sets of trials involving what is now 18 defendants. Jury selection for the trial involving the first two defendants, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, is slated to begin on Oct. 20.
This is going to be a bad, bad weekend for Trump, as he'll wonder who else will turn on him.
Who else will play Let's Make A Deal with Fulton County DA Fani Willis? 

Like fellow Whose Line? veteran Drew Carey, Wayne Brady has made a 15-year second career filling the legendary shoes of a beloved game show host. He's made thousands of deals with contestants.
We're about to find out if Fani Willis can wheel and deal just as well, and I'm betting she can.

Prime Time Drama

The Biden Administration is filing an anti-trust suit against Amazon over having monopoly power large enough to "warp the entire internet economy".
The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. government’s primary business regulator, sued Amazon on Tuesday, alleging that the company has used its market power to warp ecommerce across the internet.

The allegations focus on the company’s primary marketplace,, and paint a picture of a company able to use its size and power to pressure sellers to agree to its terms and warp the prices of goods.

There is immediate harm that is ongoing here,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said at a news conference ahead of the lawsuit announcement. “Sellers are paying one of every $2 to Amazon. Shoppers are paying higher prices as a result, not just on Amazon but across the internet. And the public as a whole has been deprived of the benefits of open and fair and free competition. And so that’s what this case is really about, and those are the harms that we’re looking to fix.”

The FTC made the allegations in an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington state, backed by the attorneys general of 17 states, including two Republicans. Amazon is based in Washington state.

The lawsuit is the most aggressive action yet by Khan, a longtime critic of Amazon who was brought in to the FTC by President Joe Biden to reinvigorate the government’s enforcement of competition laws particularly around technology companies.

The FTC alleges that Amazon deters sellers from discounting goods and lowering prices below what is available on Amazon, pushing prices higher across the internet. It also argues that Amazon pushes sellers into its fulfillment services, making it more expensive for sellers to offer their goods elsewhere.

California lodged similar complaints in a lawsuit filed just more than a year ago.

Kahn declined to directly address whether she hoped the suit would lead to a breakup of Amazon into smaller companies, but stressed that it showed Amazon had established an unfair advantage.

“Each element of Amazon’s monopolistic strategy here is working in tandem, and so the cumulative impact of Amazon’s unlawful conduct is greater than the harm caused by any particular element,” she said. “So you have a feedback loop between these different practices in a way that amplifies the overall exclusionary effects.”

In a statement posted to Amazon’s website, David Zapolsky, Amazon's senior vice president for global public policy, said: “The practices the FTC is challenging have helped to spur competition and innovation across the retail industry, and have produced greater selection, lower prices, and faster delivery speeds for Amazon customers and greater opportunity for the many businesses that sell in Amazon’s store.”
Amazon's defense is "Nu-uh, we're helping."
By the way, that $89 year of Amazon Prime is now $139, a nearly 50% price hike from just five years ago. On top of everything else, they get you coming and going.

As I've said before, breaking up Amazon, Google, and Meta needs to happen sooner rather than later. Lina Kahn may have lost a few battles, but this is the one she needs to win.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Last Call For Supreme Crooks, Cads, And Creeps, Con't

With the latest Supreme Court term starting next month, the Roberts Court has agreed to take up multiple cases that could change the face of the internet, government regulation, voting rights, gun safety, and more.
The Supreme Court said Friday it would wade into the future of free speech online and decide whether laws passed in Texas and Florida can restrict social media companies from removing certain political posts or accounts.

The justices’ decision to take the landmark social media cases came in an order that also added 10 other cases to the calendar for the Supreme Court term that begins Monday. The additional cases concern the FBI’s “no-fly” list, individual property rights and the ability of criminal defendants to confront witnesses against them.

Earlier this year, the high court had said it would tackle controversial issues in the coming term involving gun regulations, voting rights and the power of federal agencies. Those cases will be heard as the justices face intense pressure from Democratic lawmakers to address ethics issues confronting some of their colleagues, including potential conflicts in some of the cases.

Tech industry groups, whose members include Facebook and Google’s YouTube, asked the court to block Texas and Florida laws passed in 2021 that regulate companies’ content-moderation policies. The companies say the measures are unconstitutional and conflict with the First Amendment by stripping private companies of the right to choose what to publish on their platforms.

The court’s review of those laws will be the highest-profile examination to date of allegations that Silicon Valley companies are illegally censoring conservative viewpoints. Those accusations reached a fever pitch when Facebook, Twitter and other companies suspended President Donald Trump’s accounts in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The justices’ ruling could have significant implications for the future of democracy and elections, as Americans increasingly rely on social media to read and discuss political news. It could also have wide-ranging effects for policymakers in Congress and statehouses around the country as they attempt to craft new laws governing social media and misinformation. 
Needless to say, a ruling that finds that private tech and social media companies unable to moderate the content on their own platforms would be the end of those platforms as we know it, along with a ruling I have long warned about that would bring the end of executive agencies and their regulatory powers on everything else.

Having both of these go the GOP's way would dismantle much of the day-to-day infrastructure of America both physically and online, which is the point.

In preparation for a second Trump term, it would be the end of American democracy.

And that's if only those two rulings go to the conservatives. More would be coming.

Unionized, Galvanized And Ionized, Con't

Donald Trump went to a non-union auto plant in Michigan on Thursday, with non-union workers on a non-union floor, to demand that actual striking union auto workers support him in 2024 or else.
Former president Donald Trump sharpened a stridently nationalist pitch for a general election rematch against President Biden, trading the GOP primary debate stage for a factory floor where he demanded union support for his vision of more aggressive state intervention in industrial policy.

With public surveys consistently showing him with a double-digit lead over his Republican rivals nationally and in early nominating contests, Trump sought to portray the next election as a choice between certain doom for the auto industry or utopian-sounding industrial growth built on trade restrictions, fossil fuels and even expropriation of foreign assets.

“I’m here tonight to lay out a vision for a revival of economic nationalism,” Trump said. “The Wall Street predators, the Chinese cheaters and the corrupt politicians have hurt you. I will make you better. For years, foreign nations have looted and plundered your hopes, your dreams and your heritage, and now they’re going to pay for what they have stolen and what they have done to you, my friends.”

He added: “We’re going to take their money. We’re going to take their factories. We’re going to rebuild the industrial bedrock of this country.”

A campaign spokesman did not immediately clarify what Trump meant by taking “their” money and factories.

Without specifying how, Trump suggested he could restore domestic manufacturing immediately and with a pen stroke.

“A vote for President Trump means the future of the automobile will be made in America,” he said to chants of “USA.”

“It will be fueled by American energy. It will be sourced by American suppliers. It will be sculpted from American iron, aluminum and steel, and it will be built by highly skilled American hands and high wage American labor. We’ll do it first day in office; it’ll be signed out first day in office.”

Trump offered his support to striking members of the United Auto Workers but demanded the union’s official endorsement or else warned of their imminent extinction. He excoriated Biden administration policies encouraging domestic investment in electric vehicles, calling them an existential danger to U.S. manufacturing and describing efforts to limit planet-warming emissions as irreconcilable with auto industry jobs.

“It’s a government assassination of your jobs and of your industry, the auto industry is being assassinated,” he said. “To the striking workers, I support you when you go to fair wages and greater stability. And I truly hope you get a fair deal for yourselves and your families. But if your union leaders will not demand that Crooked Joe repeal his electric vehicle mandate immediately, then it doesn’t matter what hourly wage you get. It just doesn’t make a damn bit of difference because in two to three years you will not have one job in this state.”

A Biden campaign spokesman accused Trump of mischaracterizing the current administration’s policies. “Trump had the United States losing the EV race to China and if he had his way, the jobs of the future would be going to China,” spokesman Kevin Munoz said in a statement.
Open threats to auto workers to either join his nationalization of the auto industry or be destroyed. That's the kind of second term Trump wants, and he's making the threats very clear. He has been for months.
And still half the country is willing to re-elect him, not in spite of the carnage he'll wreak upon America, but so they can be backing up the bad guys. Penty of our neighbors, co-workers, and family want a healthy chunk of Americans reduced to second-class status so that they believe they can benefit, or at least stay out of the crosshairs for a while.

History of course tells us what happens to those collaborators.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein Passes At Age 90

News from California this morning that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein passed away overnight, leaving behind a massive political legacy and an uncertain future for the state's Dems.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a vocal advocate of gun control measures who was known for trying to find common ground with Republicans during her three decades in the Senate, has died, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

She was 90.

Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate, the longest-serving female senator and the longest-serving senator from California, announced in February that she planned to retire at the end of her term. She had faced calls for her resignation over concerns about her health.

After she announced her retirement, President Joe Biden hailed his former Senate colleague, calling her “a passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies that keep us safe while honoring our values.”

“I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone,” he said in a statement at the time. “I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best."

After Feinstein missed votes in late February, her spokesperson said on March 1: “The senator is in California this week dealing with a health matter," and "hopes to return to Washington soon.”

The California Democrat was a vocal advocate of gun control measures, championing the assault weapons ban that then-President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, and pushing for restrictive laws since the ban’s expiration in 2004.

s chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Feinstein led a multiyear review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which led to legislation barring the use of those methods of torture.

A centrist Democrat, she was known for trying to find common ground with Republicans, sometimes drawing criticism from her party’s liberal members. She parted from them on a number of issues, including opposing single-payer, government-run health care and the ambitious Green New Deal climate proposal, which she argued was politically and fiscally unfeasible.
The question now, because the most populous state in the union is now short on Senate representation at a critical juncture in American history, is who replaces her in the interim. The question that Gov. Gavin Newsom has been trying to slow walk around is now the most important decision he will make in this term.
We'll see what happens, but with a GOP-led shutdown in the House almost upon us, getting out of the mess they created will need every Democratic vote possible. Newsom will have to act quickly.

The New York Times covers the coming decision for Feinstein's seat, and how Newsom has maneuvered himself into a no-win situation.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Last Call For An Unimpeachable Attack

The first impeachment hearing against President Biden by James Comer's crew went as badly as you'd expect from a House GOP clown show that will almost certainly shut down the government this weekend with their own incompetence.
On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee held its first hearing of their official impeachment inquiry investigation of as-yet-unproven allegations of “abuse of power, obstruction, and corruption,” by President Biden.

The GOP invited three witnesses to testify before the committee: Justice Department official Eileen O’Connor, law professor Jonathan Turley, and forensic accountant Bruce Dubinsky.

If Republicans were looking for a bombshell first hearing, they didn’t get it. All three witnesses agreed that they would not be presenting “any first-hand witness account of crimes committed by the president of the United States.”

Turley, who is also a legal analyst for Fox News, went so far as to say that despite generally supporting the inquiry, he does “not believe the current evidence would support articles of impeachment,” against the president.

Fox News legal analyst Jonathan Turley, one of the GOP's impeachment witnesses, says: "I do not believe that the current evidence would support articles of impeachment… But I also do believe that the House has passed the threshold for an impeachment inquiry."— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 28, 2023

Dubinsky emphasized that he was not present at the hearing “to even suggest that there was corruption, fraud, or any wrongdoing,” adding that in his opinion“more information needs to be gathered and assessed before I would make such an assessment.”

O’Connor, stated that she feels the inquiry is justified, but affirmed when asked that she was not a material witness and had no evidence to provide to the committee.

Democrats on the committee ripped the GOP in response.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) called the spectacle an “embarrassment,” and pointed to the fact that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had circumvented a floor vote authorizing the inquiry, a vote that has typically been taken in past impeachment proceedings before moving forward with public hearings.

Ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) shared her sentiment. “They don’t have the votes because dozens of Republicans recognize what a futile and absurd process this is,” he said.

“They present us no basis [for impeachment] at all today, even after eight months of investigation. They invited three witnesses to testify today, not one of them an eyewitness to a presidential crime of any kind. Not one of them is a direct fact witness about any of the events related to Ukraine and Burisma. If the Republicans had a smoking gun or even a dripping water pistol they would be presenting it today. But they’ve got nothing on Joe Biden.” 
I'm beginning to think House Republicans might actually not be able to impeach Biden on an all GOP vote because they won't have the numbers.

Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) sparred with Chairman Comer when he declared that “these witnesses are not giving any basis [for this hearing].” Comer disagreed, cutting Frost off, but the Democrat persisted. “These witnesses are not giving any answers,” he exclaimed. “They’re just asking more questions.”

Despite how Comer may see it, Republicans on and off the Hill are already recognizing how badly the hearing flopped. According to CNN, one GOP insider called the display an “unmitigated disaster.”

“You want witnesses that make your case. Picking witnesses that refute House Republicans’ arguments for impeachment is mind-blowing,” the anonymous source said.

What a surprise. Not even Jon Turley wants to risk a lying to Congress charge by making up a false flag here.
Raw Story caught up with a few other members outside the hearing room to ask how they felt things were going.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said when the hearing was announced, "My colleagues and I have spent nine months gathering information, vetting allegations, and establishing the concerning fact pattern upon which this inquiry is based."

Even in the hearing, his questions focused on the timeline of the shutdown and the impeachment hearings. He then pivoted to talk about whistleblowers and information on the investigations.

"I think it's — clearly, the Democrats are trying to lead us away from the purpose of this hearing and that purpose was gaining other peoples' perspective about the use of the inquiry," he said, explaining that the goal wasn't to provide evidence but have a holistic conversation about whether an impeachment was warranted.

"Today, there is not that direct link," Sessions said about the evidence gathered over the past several years. "The purpose of that inquiry is to determine if there is that link."

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) made similar comments, confessing that they don't have any evidence. He explained that the purpose of the first hearing "is to establish the predicate for going to get additional information that the committee needs to finish its investigation."

"Prof. [Jonathan] Turley said in a sense he needs to see more than what's been laid out, but that's the purpose of the inquiry," Donalds continued. "If we felt we had everything necessary for articles of impeachment, we would have dropped articles of impeachment. That's why we're in the inquiry phase, to get that information to get a final determination if an impeachment is warranted or not."

For all of the 2023 session, both the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees have been investigating Hunter Biden and by extension his father. Comer hasn't explained how this inquiry is different from the previous inquiries.
They've got nothing.
Besides, the Clown Show is going to have a lot bigger problem in about 72 hours.

Throwing The Book At Them

Yet another big school district in Florida is pulling books from school libraries in order to comply with Commissar Ron's order banning LGBTQ+ folks from existing. From Judd Legum's Substack, Public Information:
Librarians in public schools in Charlotte County, Florida, were instructed by the school district superintendent to remove all books with LGBTQ characters or themes from school and classroom libraries.

Charlotte County school librarians sought guidance from the school district about how to apply an expansion of the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, better known as the "Don't Say Gay" law, to all grades. "Are we removing books from any school or media center, Prek-12 if a character has, for example, two mothers or because there is a gay best friend or a main character is gay?" the librarians asked. Charlotte County Superintendent Mark Vianello answered, "Yes."

The guidance by Vianello and the school board's attorney, Michael McKinley, was obtained by the Florida Freedom to Read Project (FFTRP) through a public records request and shared with Popular Information. FFTRP requested "electronic records of district and school decisions regarding classroom and library materials." In response, FFTRP received a document memorializing a July 24 conversation between Vianello and district librarians, known in Florida as media specialists.

The guidance made clear that all books with LGBTQ characters are to be removed even if the book contained no sexually explicit content. The librarians asked if they could retain books in school and classroom libraries with LGBTQ characters "as long as they do not have explicit sex scenes or sexual descriptions and are not approaching 'how to' manuals for how to be an LGBTQ+ person." Vianello responded, "No. Books with LBGTQ+ characters are not to be included in classroom libraries or school library media centers."

Vianello also says teachers must ensure that books with LGBTQ characters and themes do not enter the classroom, even if they are self-selected by students for silent reading. According to Vianello, books with "[t]hese characters and themes cannot exist."

The librarians were seeking guidance on how to interpret a revised version of The Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida. The revised rules, issued by the Florida Department of Education earlier this year, expanded the restrictions imposed by the"Don't Say Gay" law. According to revised Rule 6A-10.081, educators in Florida "[s]hall not intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in prekindergarten through grade 8 on sexual orientation or gender identity." (A similar provision was included in a law Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed in May.) The revised rule also extends that prohibition through grade 12, except where explicitly required by state standards or as part of "a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend."

Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has insisted that allegations that his policies, including the "Don't Say Gay" law, are being used to ban a wide range of books is a "hoax." DeSantis claimed that the only books being removed from Florida libraries are "pornographic and inappropriate materials that have been snuck into our classrooms and libraries to sexualize our students violate our state education standards." But in Charlotte County, DeSantis' policies are being used to justify purging all books with LGBTQ characters, even if there is no sexual content.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Charlotte County Schools told Popular Information that books with LGBTQ characters were removed from libraries because “there are elementary schools that utilize their school library media center as classrooms… [for] elective courses that our students are officially scheduled into and attend on a regular basis.” Therefore, the library “is considered a classroom setting.” As a result, “our school board attorney advises that we do not make books with these themes available in media centers that serve as classrooms since this would be considered ‘classroom instruction’ and such instruction and/or availability of these themes may not occur in PreK- grade 8.” The spokesperson acknowledged that “high school media centers are not designated as classrooms,” but books with LGBTQ characters were excluded anyway because “if a teacher were to bring a class of students to the media center and provide instruction, books with these themes cannot be included in that instructional time unless supported by the academic standards of that course of study.”

A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit quickly acted Monday to issue another administrative stay, allowing the state of Texas to enforce its new law establishing a book-ban regime in the state’s schools.

The law, passed earlier this year, had not been allowed to go into effect due to significant constitutional concerns from the lower court, meaning that Monday’s stay — though presented as “administrative” — altered the status of state law in Texas, putting a new law in effect for the first time with no reasoning and in a one-sentence order.

The extraordinary move — from Judges Jennifer Elrod (George W. Bush), Catharina Haynes (George W. Bush), and Dana Douglas (Biden) — came after U.S. District Judge Alan Albright, a Trump appointee, had temporarily prevented enforcement of the law just before its effective date of Sept. 1 and then, just one week ago, issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement, finding the law likely unconstitutional on several grounds.

Texas is appealing the Sept. 18 order from Albright. The state also, on Sept. 20, asked the appeals court for a stay pending appeal or, in the alternative, an administrative stay. The court granted an administrative stay on Monday, five days later (including a weekend).

Among other requirements, the Restricting Explicit and Adult-Designated Educational Resources (READER) Act, H.B. 900, requires private companies to create and produce lists of every book they wish to sell to public schools, determining which books are to be banned as “sexually explicit” and restricted as “sexually relevant.” The law then allows a state board to change those lists, with no appeal apparently available to the booksellers. The timeline for when the lists need to be submitted goes into next year, but, as the plaintiffs and district court explained, harms will accrue immediately. First, it’s not clear what school districts are supposed to do between the law going into effect and the lists being posted. And companies are certainly going to have difficulty selling books that could even possibly be covered by the new law to those schools in the meantime — particularly given that the law also requires booksellers to “recall” books previously sold that are later deemed to be banned.

Additionally, and as Albright explained in his decision last week, the state lacked answers to many basic questions about the law and its enforcement.

Nonetheless, on Monday, the appeals court said the state could go ahead and begin implementing the new law for now. Again, with no reasoning, and posed as an “administrative” action.

Remember, Donald Trump not being able to threaten witnesses and taint a jury pool with tirades against judges, prosecutors, and court officers violates the First Amendment, but a law forcing schools to pull books for the crime of existing LGBTQ+ characters or whatever bowdlerization Texas wants, with no appeal mind you, is fine, if not necessary.

Funny old world, huh.

Hunting The Hunter, Con't

With a House Republican-caused government shutdown now less than 72 hours away, those self-same House Republicans are concentrating on the real issues: Hunter Biden's tax records.
Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee released more than 700 pages of IRS whistleblower documents Wednesday, providing ample fodder for the newly launched House GOP impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden that will center on his son Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings.

Democrats were quick to push back, asserting that GOP lawmakers cherry-picked information that gives a distorted view of the allegations against the Bidens.

Following the committee’s 24-17 party-line vote to release of the documents to the public, Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) asserted that the new materials — which include an assortment of business tax returns, interview transcripts and emails between investigators and prosecutors — show that Hunter Biden used his father’s lofty political standing as part of a global family influence-peddling scheme.

“This evidence makes clear Hunter Biden’s business was selling the Biden ‘brand’ and that access to the White House was his family’s most valuable asset,” Smith said.

Democrats panned committee Republicans for focusing on the impeachment effort as a government shutdown looms on Sunday that could put millions of federal employees out of work. Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said in his opening statement at the closed-door session that the whistleblower testimony consisted of uncorroborated allegations and heavily redacted documents cherry-picked by the IRS whistleblowers.

“Why waste precious time that could be put toward keeping the government open? Other than to distract from reality,” Neal said in the statement he provided reporters, noting that there’s pressure on Republican tax writers to release the material before House Oversight Committee James Comer’s (R-Ky.) first impeachment hearing, scheduled for Thursday morning.
Except of course, the documents don't actually show he was selling access to the WHite House. They showed he was in business with foreign nationals, which is okay when fraudster Donald Trump does it, I guess. 

Again, you'd think Jason Smith would look at the tax info from Jared (the Gallaria of Crime) Kushner and Ivanka Trump, which actually does show massive pay-for-play White House influence peddling to the House of Saud to the tune of $2 billion, but nobody on the R side seems to care about that.

Alas, today's impeachment hearings are more important. I guess when Grandma and Grandpa stop getting government checks, somebody might notice.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Last Call For Georgia On My Mind, Con't

I'm glad to see Fulton County, Georgia DA Fani Willis taking security in the Trump RICO case seriously. As with any organized crime boss on trial, the possibility of witness tampering and jury tampering is extremely high, and DA Willis made her case to Judge Scott McAfee to protect the identities of the jurors until the trial is over.
A judge granted Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' request to restrict identifying information about jurors in the Georgia election interference case, a new court filing shows.

In a two-page order Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee imposed strict limits regarding the identities of jurors involved in any trial in the case against former President Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants.

The court’s standing rules restrict using photographic or electronic equipment without a judge’s consent. McAfee’s order offers additional protections by prohibiting drawing in an identifiable manner or otherwise recording images, statements or conversations of jurors or prospective jurors.

He further ordered that jurors and prospective jurors be identified only by their numbers in court filings while the trial is pending, and he prohibited disclosing juror information that would reveal their identities, including names, addresses, telephone numbers or identifying employment information.

McAfee allowed exceptions for recording audio of the jury foreperson’s announcement of a verdict or questions to the judge.

The order applies to the trial of Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, whose joint trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 23, and a subsequent trial for the 17 other defendants, including Trump.
Given Trump's usual m.o. it means he'll have a source "accidentally" leak the identities of the jurors to FOX News sometime during the proceedings, but really Trump only has to get one juror for an acquittal. Besides, how many Atlanta cops are Republicans? Only would take one.

We're not ready for a Trump trial at this point. The system's not designed for it. When, not if, Trump violates this order, what will the consequences be?

Threats against grand jurors that indicted Trump in Georgia are still being investigated. We know what's coming.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

New York Judge Arthur Engoron has found Donald Trump liable for years of inflated property values resulting in fraudulent Trump Organization loans in NY AG Tish James's $250 million civil fraud case against Trump.
A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House.

Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.

Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee the Trump Organization’s operations.

Trump’s lawyer and spokesperson Alina Habba said they intend to appeal the decision, calling it “an affront to our legal system” and “fundamentally flawed at every level.”

Trump has long insisted he did nothing wrong. His son, Eric, railed against the decision Tuesday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling it “an attempt to destroy my father and kick him out of New York.”

“Today, I lost all faith in the New York legal system,” said Eric Trump, an executive in his father’s company and a defendant in the lawsuit. “Never before have I seen such hatred toward one person by a judge — a coordinated effort with the Attorney General to destroy a man’s life, company and accomplishments.”

The decision, days before the start of a non-jury trial in James’ lawsuit, is the strongest repudiation yet of Trump’s carefully coiffed image as a wealthy and shrewd real estate mogul turned political powerhouse.

Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance costs, Engoron found.

Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said, rejecting Trump’s contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any wrongdoing.

“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” Engoron wrote in his 35-page ruling. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”
Trump is pretty well fucked, innit he? 

Well, he would be if I didn't expect the entire case to be overturned on statutes of limitations issues on appeal, and Trump won't have to pay a dime, but otherwise, he's fucked. If Judge Engoron's ruling holds, the Trump Organization is effectively done in the state of New York.

With Judge Engoron's decision made, we'll see what the NY appellate court now says about the statue of limitations on the fraud charges, possibly as soon as Thursday.

Stay tuned.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

Polls taken this far out from next year's election are....meaningless. But apparently they are enough to cause Doomsday+1 meltdowns and bring out the worst political takes ever--both from the right and the left.

The polling methods are crap. And let's not forget the polls last year said that the GOP would win in a blowout and there would be "red wave".

That never happened.

And the polls today are flawed because they also do not take into account the Dobbs decision, which took a major right away from over half of the US population. And the fallout from that decision has led to the GOP getting their asses kicked in several special elections.
NY Times writer Reid Epstein has reached a similar conclusion: Dems win anyway and have been winning when the rubber meets the road in special elections across the board over the last 18+ months.

For nearly two years, poll after poll has found Americans in a sour mood about President Biden, uneasy about the economy and eager for younger leaders of the country.

And yet when voters have actually cast ballots, Democrats have delivered strong results in special elections — the sort of contests that attract little attention but can serve as a useful gauge for voter enthusiasm.

In special elections this year for state legislative offices, Democrats have exceeded Mr. Biden’s performance in the 2020 presidential election in 21 of 27 races, topping his showing by an average of seven percentage points, according to a study conducted by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the party’s campaign arm for state legislative races.

Those results, combined with an 11-point triumph for a liberal State Supreme Court candidate in Wisconsin this spring and a 14-point defeat of an Ohio ballot referendum this summer in a contest widely viewed as a proxy battle over abortion rights, run counter to months of public opinion polling that has found Mr. Biden to be deeply unpopular heading into his re-election bid next year.

Taken together, these results suggest that the favorable political environment for Democrats since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade has endured through much of 2023. Democratic officials have said since the summer of 2022, when the ruling came down, that abortion is both a powerful motivator for the party’s voters and the topic most likely to persuade moderate Republicans to vote for Democratic candidates.

Dobbs absolutely changed the way that people thought about and processed things that they had perceived as a given,” said Heather Williams, the interim president of the D.L.C.C. “We continue to see voters recognizing what’s at stake in these elections.”

Democrats are now using abortion rights to power races far down the ballot — an extension of how candidates in special elections at the congressional level have long used prominent national issues to fuel their campaigns.

In January 2010, Scott Brown won a shocking upset in a Senate special election in deep-blue Massachusetts by running against President Barack Obama’s health care push. In March 2018, Conor Lamb won a special election to fill a House seat in a deep-red Pennsylvania district by campaigning as a centrist voice against Mr. Trump.

Both the Brown and Lamb special elections served as indicators of the wave elections their parties won in subsequent midterm elections.

Some of the special elections won by Democrats this year have involved relatively few voters: Under 2,800 ballots were cast in a New Hampshire State House contest last week.

“The best evidence that a special election produces is whose side is more engaged on a grass-roots turnout level,” Mr. Lamb said in an interview on Monday. “That gives you some signal about who is bringing their turnout back next year.”
Right all the way around. Dems are winning in the age of Dobbs. They will continue to win. If you think Biden is an albatross on the nicks of Dems, you should see the other team dealing with Trump, DeSantis, and Dobbs

President Joe Biden made history Tuesday when he visited a picket line in Michigan in a show of loyalty to autoworkers who are striking for higher wages and cost-of-living increases.

Biden is looking to polish his pro-labor persona, becoming the first sitting president to appear on a picket line.

Speaking through a bullhorn, he told the striking autoworkers in Wayne County, "You deserve what you earned, and you've earned a helluva lot more than you're getting paid now."

Simply by showing up, Biden set a new precedent for American presidents about how to respond to future strikes. Union officials and their congressional allies may now expect a president who purports to be pro-labor to join them on the picket lines, invoking Biden as an example.

“It is indeed a historic move on Biden’s part to walk a picket line — especially in as high profile a strike that is captivating both the economy and broader public attention,” said Tejasvi Nagaraja, an assistant professor of history at Cornell University’s ILR School.

The UAW strike against the Big Three auto companies — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler maker Stellantis — has entered its 11th day. In traveling to Wayne County at the invitation of union president Shawn Fain, Biden positioned himself squarely on the side of striking workers, after the White House spent weeks quietly seeing whether it could play a more neutral role in mediating the dispute between labor and management.
Gonna side with the guy with the guts to show up for workers as the first sitting president to do so on a picket line.
We all should side with him.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition, Con't

Senate Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on Tuesday on a stopgap spending plan that would head off a government shutdown on Sunday while providing billions in disaster relief and aid to Ukraine, but the measure faced resistance in the Republican-led House.

The legislation cleared its first procedural obstacle Tuesday night on a bipartisan vote of 77 to 19. It would keep government funding flowing through Nov. 17 to allow more time for negotiations over yearlong spending bills and provide about $6 billion for the Ukraine war effort as well as approximately $6 billion for disaster relief in the wake of a series of wildfires and floods.

Senate leaders hoped to pass it by the end of the week and send it to the House in time to avert a shutdown now set to begin at midnight Saturday. But there was no guarantee that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote, since some far-right Republicans have said they would try to remove him from his post if he did.

Still, in putting the legislation forward, Senate leaders in both parties were ratcheting up the pressure on Mr. McCarthy, who has failed to put together a temporary spending plan of his own.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said the Senate agreement “will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs while also ensuring those impacted by disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, urged her colleagues to support the plan, warning that shutdowns “do not accomplish the goals that people who advocate government shutdowns think will be accomplished.”

“I’ve been through two government shutdowns,” Ms. Collins said, “and I can tell you they are never good policy.”

The Senate proposal would meet stiff resistance from House Republicans because it includes assistance for Ukraine that many of them oppose and maintains federal funding at current levels. Many House Republicans are demanding steep cuts in even an interim funding plan. As a result, Mr. McCarthy would need Democratic votes to pass it, and leaning on Democrats would stir a backlash from his own party.

Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday told reporters at the Capitol that he would not address “hypotheticals” about whether he would put a stopgap plan passed by the Senate to a vote on the House floor. He and his deputies were toiling ahead of a scheduled vote on Tuesday evening to round up support to allow a group of yearlong spending bills to come to the floor for debate, even as a group of hard-right Republicans vowed to continue blocking them.

“I heard all this time, they’re going to pass appropriations bills all month,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at a separate news conference later in the day. “Remember, you all wrote about it? They were the good chamber. So when they pass something, come back and ask.”
Boy, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the circus boxcar hammock, didn't he?
Still, McCarthy has nobody to blame but himself. He's no longer Speaker but in name only, and if he tries to bring the bill to a House floor vote, he may get removed before he can do it. I don't expect Hakeem Jeffries will help McCarthy out of the Big Top until after the Senate stopgap bill gets passed in the House, but that leaves us with six weeks to figure out who's replacing him.
Of course, McCarthy's a coward, and that means he may let the government shut down anyway.
We'll see. The Senate bill has to pass first before anything happens.

Of course, then we get to have the new fight with the new Ringmaster.

In A Family Way

Gallup polling finds that the percentage of Americans who define the "ideal family" to have three or more children to be the highest in my lifetime.

Americans are about evenly divided in their views of whether smaller versus larger families are preferable. When asked about the ideal number of children for a family to have, a 44% plurality of U.S. adults think having two children is best, and 3% say a single child is ideal, totaling a 47% preference for smaller families.

At the same time, 45% of Americans favor larger families, including 29% who say having three children is ideal, 12% who think four is best, and 2% each who prefer having five or six or more children.

Just 2% think the ideal family does not include any children at all.

These findings, from aggregated Gallup polls in June and July 2023, translate to an average of 2.7 children considered ideal.

Gallup began periodically measuring Americans’ preferred family size in 1936 and found 64% favoring at least three children at that time. Support for larger families of three or more children peaked at 77% in 1945, at the end of World War II and just before the baby boom -- yet a minimum of 61% of U.S. adults favored families of at least three children through 1967. At the highest point during the baby boom, the average number of children per U.S. family was 3.6.

Between 1967 and 1971, preferences for larger families plummeted from 70% to 52%. This drop was likely fueled at least in part by concerns about a global population explosion, resulting from the 1968 bestselling book entitled The Population Bomb. Additionally, changes in societal norms -- such as women’s increased role in the workplace, a growing acceptance of premarital sex and economic concerns -- could have affected views.

In 1973, Americans’ preference for smaller families of one or two children became the standard, often significantly outpacing a desire for larger families of three or more children in the years that followed. These preferences were evident in U.S. birth rates, as the average number of children per family in the U.S. dropped to 1.8 by 1980 -- half of what it was at the peak of the baby boom.

After climbing to 64% in 1986, Americans’ preference for smaller families trended downward, but with more notable spikes in times of economic turmoil, including 57% in 2011 after the Great Recession. Conversely, amid stronger economic times, such as in 1997 and 2018, the gap between preferences for smaller and larger families narrowed.

Americans’ belief that the ideal family size includes three or more children has been rising steadily in recent years, currently up four percentage points from the previous reading in 2018 to its highest point since 1971. The latest measure is one of the few instances when preferences for smaller families (of one or two children) and larger families (of three or more children) are statistically tied in Gallup’s trend.
The reality of course is that having kids now is wildly expensive, to the point where a significant number of US parents define an ideal family to have fewer children than they currently, actually have.

U.S. adults’ views of the best family size have not always tracked with birth rates in the U.S., particularly in recent years. Since the Great Recession, Americans have been increasingly likely to say larger families are preferable, but birth rates in the U.S. have been declining. This suggests that while they may see larger families as ideal, other factors are preventing them from implementing this in their own lives.

In all, 31% of U.S. adults report that they have not had any children, while 14% have had one child, 28% have had two, 15% have had three, 7% have had four and 5% have had five or more.

A 48% plurality of those without children and a slim 51% majority of parents of one each see having two children as ideal.

The ideal for parents of two and three children generally conforms with what they have, as 54% of parents of two and a 46% plurality of parents of three say their own family situation is best. Those with four or more children are most inclined to favor larger families (43% say four or more children is ideal), yet slightly more of these parents, 49%, say between one and three children is ideal.
I don't have any kids, but grew up with three brothers and sisters. I have plenty of nieces and nephews, heck, one niece has a son of her own, meaning one of my younger brothers is a grandpa already.
It takes all kinds of families these days. For me, it's a found family of friends I've made through blogging, gaming, and being online in general.
Kids are still expensive though. Quarter-mil over 18 years last time I checked to raise one.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Black churches in Florida are stepping up with teaching lessons now that Black history has been outlawed in Florida schools.
They filed into the pews one after the other on a sweltering Wednesday night, clutching Bibles and notepads, ready to learn at church what they no longer trusted would be taught at school.

“BLACK HISTORY MATTERS” proclaimed television screens facing the several dozen men and women settling in at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. An institution in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Liberty City, “The Ship” had borne witness to many of the seminal events of the past century, shepherding its followers during Jim Crow and the heyday of the KKK, through the civil rights movement to the racial justice protests of recent years.

Now, as a new school year started, the Rev. Gaston Smith was standing at the pulpit with a lesson on one of those chapters. After months of controversy over new directives governing classroom instruction in Florida — changes that critics said sanitized or even distorted the past — he and other Black pastors across the state agreed their churches had no choice but to respond.

They would teach Black history themselves.

“Whenever there has been any kind of movement, particularly in the African American community, it started in the house of God,” said Smith, 57, a commanding presence with a resonant voice. “We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to stand our ground, because the Bible says we have to speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.”

Their resolve has drawn a groundswell of support. A nonprofit coalition of religious institutions, Faith in Florida, put together an 11-chapter tool kit to guide the churches and suggest books, articles, documentaries and reports covering the Black experience through what it calls “the lens of truth.” The chapters, featuring content for all ages, cover a lot of ground. “From Africa to America,” one is titled. Another highlights “Race, Racism & Whiteness.”

Some 200 faith leaders quickly signed up to use it, representing African Methodist Episcopal, United Methodist and other denominations. Each committed to weave teachings on Black history into their sermons or Sunday school classes or Bible study sessions. That way, they’d be reaching parents as well as children.

The churches’ involvement harks back to the pivotal role many played in the struggle to end segregation and advance voting rights.

“There’s always been that connection,” said Loren Lyons, a spokesperson for the coalition. “And so, we pretty much said that because of what’s going on in the curriculum and what’s going on in Florida right now, it’s time that we took back that power.”
Cynical me wonders just how long Ron DeSantis's government will wait before Black churches become targets of investigation for being terrorist hotbeds, this of course coming from people who will tell you that white Christians are the most persecuted group on Earth and that religious freedom is the bedrock of American society.
Black communities taking education of kids and families into their own hands, often through Black churches, is nothing new. We've been doing it for decades if not centuries. From spirituals to Dr. King's SCLC to the Black Panthers to today, we survive and thrive though that community.
But Depressing Realist Me wonders why DeSantis would lift a finger when Black churches are technically making his case that public education is broken and that religious education for students is the answer. That this effort will be hijacked in order to push public education dollars going to churches and religious schools is inevitable.

So no, I'm not celebrating this at all. I fully expect Republicans to co-opt this movement for evil.

Black Lives Still Matter though.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Last Call For Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Once again, the open threat of Trump's stochastic violence cannot be allowed to dissuade his prosecution. But we have to have that national conversation about the fact that innocent people are almost certainly going to get hurt or killed as those prosecutions move forward.

As the prosecutions of Mr. Trump have accelerated, so too have threats against law enforcement authorities, judges, elected officials and others. The threats, in turn, are prompting protective measures, a legal effort to curb his angry and sometimes incendiary public statements, and renewed concern about the potential for an election campaign in which Mr. Trump has promised “retribution” to produce violence.

Given the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, scholars, security experts, law enforcement officials and others are increasingly warning about the potential for lone-wolf attacks or riots by angry or troubled Americans who have taken in the heated rhetoric.

In April, before federal prosecutors indicted Mr. Trump, one survey showed that 4.5 percent of American adults agreed with the idea that the use of force was “justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency.” Just two months later, after the first federal indictment of Mr. Trump, that figure surged to 7 percent.
Seven percent of US adults is about 15 million people. The number is higher now, and will increase.
The indictments of Mr. Trump “are the most important current drivers of political violence we now have,” said the author of the study, Robert Pape, a political scientist who studies political violence at the University of Chicago.

Other studies have found that any effects from the indictments dissipated quickly, and that there is little evidence of any increase in the numbers of Americans supportive of a violent response. And the leaders of the far-right groups that helped spur the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 are now serving long prison terms.

But the threats have been steady and credible enough to prompt intense concern among law enforcement officials. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland addressed the climate in testimony to Congress on Wednesday, saying that while he recognized that the department’s work came with scrutiny, the demonization of career prosecutors and F.B.I. agents was menacing not only his employees but also the rule of law.

“Singling out individual career public servants who are just doing their jobs is dangerous — particularly at a time of increased threats to the safety of public servants and their families,” Mr. Garland said.

“We will not be intimidated,” he added. “We will do our jobs free from outside influence. And we will not back down from defending our democracy.”

Security details have been added for several high-profile law enforcement officials across the country, including career prosecutors running the day-to-day investigations.

The F.B.I., which has seen the number of threats against its personnel and facilities surge since its agents carried out the court-authorized search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, in August 2022, subsequently created a special unit to deal with the threats. A U.S. official said threats since then have risen more than 300 percent, in part because the identities of employees, and information about them, are being spread online.

“We’re seeing that all too often,” Christopher A. Wray, the bureau’s director, said in congressional testimony this summer.

The threats are sometimes too vague to rise to the level of pursuing a criminal investigation, and hate speech enjoys some First Amendment protections, often making prosecutions difficult. But the Justice Department has charged more than a half dozen people with making threats.

This has had its own consequences: In the past 13 months, F.B.I. agents confronting individuals suspected of making threats have shot and fatally wounded two people, including one in Utah who was armed and had threatened, before President Biden’s planned visit to the area, to kill him.
It's good to see protection for prosecutors, judges, and other court officers and investigators. But we need to talk about the fact that these assholes have a number of softer targets to choose from and the increase in violence will include more schools, synagogues, supermarkets, community centers, abortion clinics, LGBTQ+ centers,  malls, and more.

These folks won't have federal protection, just sayin'.

Vote Like Your Country Depends On It, Con't

Because it does.

Author and essayist A.R. Moxon reminds us of the stakes going forward in American politics by answering the "Are Republicans really fascists?" question with a definitive "Yes, and they put that on display whenever possible." 

This is nothing new these days, really. Republican office-holders and aspiring office-holders have been burning and shooting all sorts of effigies for years now, indicating the types of things and people they would like to see eliminated in one way or another.

A lot of people are alarmed by this, because they understand that burning and shooting things meant to signify certain people is always the precursor to burning and shooting the signified people.

However, I’m told the difference between burning books meant to signify certain types of people and burning cardboard meant to signify books meant to signify people is a very important distinction.

I agree, actually.

It tells us where the permission levels are right now for our national gang of genocidal bullies, by which I mean the Republican Party.

So the thing about the [Missouri] state senator who is running for governor and his other buddy who is also a state senator but is not running for governor, is that besides being aficionados of flamethrowers and of fantasizing about burning “woke” books on the lawn of the governor’s mansion, they are also Republicans, which is a political party in the United States of America.

And one interesting thing about the Republican party is, it is entirely captured by fascism, that is to say it is a popular political movement organized around a cult of personality, and mediated through an open and explicit reverence for violence as a redeeming force, and by a nationalist myth of purification.

Another interesting thing about the Republican Party is that it is entirely driven by its country’s dominant founding spirit of supremacy. Supremacy, in case you didn’t know, is the belief that some people matter and others don’t, and that those who don’t matter should be forced to conform to the comfort of those who dot matter, and if they won’t conform then they should be punished and terrorized and eliminated, and if they do conform then they should be maintained at minimum possible expense and used for profit for as long as they are profitable, and then abandoned if they are not.

And the United States was founded by people who believed in a very popular and fairly recent invention called “white.” This invention allowed them to believed that Black people were subordinate to people who were “white,” which allowed them to own Black people, and to rape them, and torture them and kill them, too, in case you didn’t know.

When I say things like this, I’m often admonished for being divisive or polarized. There is often a bit of blowback about how by framing our current situation as a fight against fascism and supremacy in the same spirit that created an entrenched permission structure for chattel slavery and other genocides, I’m casting myself as a superior moral authority who refuses to find common ground; or how by framing my opponents as supremacists I’m demonizing them, which makes me just as bad as them; or that I’m just preaching to the choir in an echo chamber because I’m not getting to really know them and understand their points and appeal to their better angels; or that I’m casting them as irredeemable, leaving them no exit ramps from radicalization and even driving them toward resentful radicalization; or that by refusing to engage them on their terms and debate them I’m passing up a real opportunity to persuade them, which is what’s necessary to drive real change.

I’ve been working my way, point-through point, through these critiques based in a belief that persuasion of supremacists is all-important in dealing with supremacy, and talking about the assumptions and flaws I see in each one. Go search the archives for all that amazing content if you like.

But now it also occurs to me that, for those who think that the most important thing in the world is persuasion, I have good news: persuasion has been happening all along.

Lovers of persuasion: rejoice!

I didn’t used to believe that the conservative spirit was irreducible from supremacy, or that supremacy was the dominant spirit of my country. I would have considered that ridiculous. I believed very firmly in the popular modern supremacist myth that supremacy had been defeated forever, mostly by white people who fixed a handful of significant flaws to the otherwise perfect system they had inherited, and that we were now as a result the Greatest Country In the World.

And I didn’t used to believe that the Republican Party was a fascist party. I really didn’t.

I do believe those things now, though.

I was persuaded.

You might wonder, who persuaded me?

Well, there were a lot of people who have been harmed their whole lives by conservative fascism and the spirit of supremacy that drives our political life, and some years ago I started listening to their voices as a primary source to understand the shape of the country I’d failed to see. These were voices positioned not in some middle ground between me and the conservatives with whom I’d debated my whole life up until that point, but voices previously unconsidered by either of us, further out, with perspectives based on their lived experience that gave me a view of the terrain I still cannot achieve by myself.

This week I realized, these voices aren’t what persuaded me. They’ve taught me, but I came to them because I was already persuaded.

So who persuaded me? You’ll never guess.

The people who persuaded me that Republicans are fascist are Republicans.
As I keep saying, the two-thirds of American non-college white people siding with Trump and GOP aren't voting against their vested interests. They're voting to strengthen white supremacy -- the system America was built on -- so that they get screwed over slightly less often and slightly less badly than their Black, brown, queer and Jewish neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances.

That's it.

That's the whole explanation. Maybe they benefit from the scraps more if the Republican fascists are in charge. They certainly won't eat my face, say the people voting for the Face-Eating Leopards Party.

So yeah, they are voting for their self-interests and that of their families. It's nothing new. It's the "white moderate" that Dr. King wrote about sixty years ago: the absence of tension is easier than the presence of justice. The moment that equality and fairness and justice becomes inconvenient, we go right back down the road.

The end of the Civil Rights era is coming because eggs were $5 per dozen nine months ago.

Big Bob's Bribery Blowout, Con't

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez continues to face a concerted effort to oust him in the wake of last week's federal bribery indictments, and Democrats in the Garden State are ready to take out the trash.
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) announced Saturday that he will primary Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) after the senator was indicted on corruption charges Friday.

“After calls to resign, Senator Menendez said ‘I am not going anywhere.’ As a result, I feel compelled to run against him,” Kim said on X, formerly Twitter. “Not something I expected to do, but NJ deserves better.”

Kim was the second member of Congress and first from New Jersey to call on Menendez to resign Friday. A growing list of Democrats, headlined by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.), have asked Menendez to step down.

“I believe more than ever that New Jersey needs hard working, trustworthy leaders focused on the common good and injecting some integrity and civility back into our politics,” Kim wrote in his announcement, sharing a link to his donations page. “We cannot jeopardize the Senate or compromise our integrity any longer.

“Help me build a movement to restore faith in our democracy,” he added.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez and his wife accepted over $600,000 in bribes from a group of New Jersey businessmen to help them and interests in Egypt.

“These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law,” Kim said in a statement to The Hill on Friday. “The people of New Jersey absolutely need to know the truth of what happened, and I hope the judicial system works thoroughly and quickly to bring this truth to light.”
I don't even think we'll get that far, I think Menendez will be told in no uncertain terms that he's out if NJ Dem Gov. Phil Murphy has anything to say about it.  Hell, even Sen. John Fetterman says Menendez needs to step aside and "focus on the trial".

"It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat," he wrote in a statement in response to Democratic officials who have publicly broken with him. "I am not going anywhere."

Menendez was appointed to the Senate in January 2006 by then-Gov. Jon Corzine, who previously held the seat and had just taken office in Trenton. The senator was elected to a full term later that year and reelected in 2012 and 2018.

And Menendez is up for reelection next year, creating a politically-perilous situation where he could stand trial while also campaigning for a fourth full term in office — a scenario many Democrats would prefer not to see unfold.
It's not brown, it's green cash and gold bars, my man.
Time to go.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Last Call For Shutdown Countdown, Clown Town Edition

With under a week to go before the GOP shuts down the government,  the only questions now appear to be how long the shutdown lasts, and how quickly GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is replaced by Republicans (and by whom) when he inevitably caves.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., said he would consider voting to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., should the speaker opt to work with Democrats to pass funding measures ahead of the Sept. 30 funding deadline.

"That would be something I would look strongly at," Burchett said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

Burchett dismissed the notion that he and other House Republicans opposed to passing a short-term stopgap measure are at fault if lawmakers fail to pass spending measures, noting that the group made their priorities clear far before House members returned from August recess.

"We're gonna get the blame because we're trying to do our job," Burchett said.
Like most terrorists, Burchett believes he and his fellow economic suicide bombers are the good guys here.
The bigger problem is that even before Burchett piped up, the number of House Republicans that have said they would be open to replacing McCarthy is already enough to cost him his job.  So again, when he caves, and he will cave, folks, he'll be ousted, as I've been saying for a while now. It's Boehner all over again.

In fact, McCarthy has already caved, backtracking on last week's demand from Marjorie Terrorist Greene that he yank all Ukraine funding from the Pentagon bill.

Who will replace him, well, we'll see.

That Poll-Asked Look, Con't

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll has Trump up by nine, and while that's a major outlier, the fact is the GOP plan to impeach Biden while Trump burns down everything to martyr himself over his four trials. It may be working.
President Joe Biden's job approval rating is 19 points underwater, his ratings for handling the economy and immigration are at career lows. A record number of Americans say they've become worse off under his presidency, three-quarters say he's too old for another term and Donald Trump is looking better in retrospect -- all severe challenges for Biden in his reelection campaign ahead.

Forty-four percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they've gotten worse off financially under Biden's presidency, the most for any president in ABC/Post polls since 1986. Just 37% approve of his job performance, while 56% disapprove. Still fewer approve of Biden's performance on the economy, 30%.

On handling immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, Biden's rating is even lower, with 23% approval. In terms of intensity of sentiment, 20% strongly approve of his work overall, while 45% strongly disapprove. And the 74% who say he's too old for a second term is up 6 percentage points since May. Views that Trump is too old also are up, but to 50% in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Such is down-on-Biden sentiment that if a government shutdown occurs at month's end, 40% say they'd chiefly blame him and the Democrats in Congress, versus 33% who'd pin it on the Republicans in Congress -- even given the GOP infighting behind the budget impasse.
Yeah, that's right, Biden will get the blame if the government shuts down. I almost have to ask if the poll took place in a GOP party meeting at this point, but if any of this is remotely true, we're going to give this country away to the fascists because ground beef is $5 instead of $4 a pound.

The crosstabs are...not good. 74% of Americans think the economy is bad, with 87% angry about gas prices and 91% thinking food prices are bad. Hell, at this point a clear majority is upset about the unemployment rate being lower than it was under Trump, 57%. 
Some 29% of Americans believe Joe Biden stole the election anyway. Only 60% believe he won legitimately, and the big one, only a third of Dems would back Biden for a second term. That's been true for over a year now.

Looking ahead to the 2024 general election, the NBC News poll shows Biden and Trump tied in a hypothetical contest among registered voters, 46% to 46%.

In June, Biden held a 4-point lead over Trump, 49% to 45%.

According to the new poll, Biden is ahead of Trump among Black voters (76% to 14%), voters between the ages of 18 and 34 (57% to 34%), whites with college degrees (56% to 34%), Latinos (51% to 39%) and women (51% to 41%).

Trump is ahead among rural voters (67% to 31%), men (51% to 40%) white voters (51% to 41%) and whites without college degree (63% to 32%).

Among independents, Biden gets 42%, while Trump gets 35%.

Notably, Biden leads Trump by 18 points among those who “somewhat disapprove” of the president’s job performance (49% to 31%). And nearly 1 in 5 registered voters who say they have concerns about Biden’s age still vote for him over Trump.

In other hypothetical matchups, Biden holds a 1-point lead over DeSantis, 46% to 45%, well within the poll’s margin of error. 

The other good news in that poll, a solid majority oppose the impeachment inquiry against President Biden and it's not even close, 56%-39% against.

The bad news is that given third party candidates, Trump pulls ahead.

In a multi-candidate field including third parties, Trump gets 39% from registered voters, Biden gets 36%, an unnamed Libertarian Party nominee gets 5%, an unnamed No Labels candidate gets 5% and an unnamed Green Party candidate gets 4%.
So yes, third party spoilers are just that, and while I don't expect any third party candidate to get more than 1 or 2 percent nationally, it would be enough to throw the election to Trump.

Still, between that Washington Post poll and columnist David Ignatius calling for Biden and Harris to step aside for 2024, you'd be forgiven if you thought the Post had it in for Biden in order to cover a competitive open primary, which the GOP is most certainly not.
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