Monday, February 6, 2023

Last Call For Corporation Obliteration

The party of "freedom of speech" and "Money is speech" sure is doing everything they can to silence corporations when they take positions that Republicans don't like. In Florida, Ron DeSantis is set to take over Disney's special Reedy Creek tax district in order to force the company to cough up $1 billion in debt.
Gov. Ron DeSantis may soon get to pick the people who govern Disney’s Orlando-area theme parks, a move that would give the Republican leader new authority over the state’s largest employer and a recent political foe.

Republican lawmakers on Monday unveiled a bill to turn over control of Disney’s special taxing district, called the Reedy Creek Improvement District, to a five-member board chosen by DeSantis. The proposal also comes with a rebrand; Reedy Creek would become the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”

The move to take over Reedy Creek is the latest step in a yearlong spat between DeSantis and Disney over a bill to restrict certain classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity. DeSantis signed the bill into law over the objections of Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek.

In an act opponents decried as political retribution, DeSantis then pushed lawmakers to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which for 55 years effectively gave Disney control of the land around its Florida properties. Republicans, who control the seats of legislative power, complied, and the district was scheduled to be sunset on June 1.

But the bill proposed Monday breathed new life into the taxing district and kept many of its special powers. Indeed, the final page of the 189-page bill states clearly: “The Reedy Creek Improvement District is not dissolved as of June 1, 2023, but continues in full force and effect under its new name.”
Why dissolve Disney's special tax status when you can take it over and use it to extort billions out of the company and parkgoers?
Not to be outdone, House GOP Circus of the Damned Ringmaster Kevin McCarthy and his sidekick Steve Scalise are set to banish the US Chamber of Commerce from Capitol Hill entirely for the crime of endorsing Democrats in some House races.    
The two highest-ranking Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are going to war with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as the new Congress takes shape.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican House Majority Leader Steve Scalise are both refusing to meet with the the Chamber after the lobbying group endorsed a handful of Democrats in the past two elections, clearly making an enemy of the powerful congressional leaders.

"The priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have not aligned with the priorities of House Republicans or the interests of their own members, and they should not expect a meeting with Speaker McCarthy as long as that's the case," Mark Bednar, a chief spokesman for McCarthy, told CNBC in a statement.

Scalise also won't meet with the Chamber, according to spokeswoman Lauren Fine.

"Washington has radically shifted away from the pro-business philosophy of most local Chambers across America," she said. Fine also took aim at the Chamber's move to endorse Democrats running for House seats and said that "unless the Chamber gets back to their traditional pro-business roots, they should not expect to have any engagement with Majority Leader Scalise's office."

Denying the Chamber access could also prompt other House Republicans to block the nation's largest business organization.

The Chamber has continued to actively lobby Capitol Hill despite the ongoing battle with top Republicans. The group spent just under $21 million on lobbying in the fourth quarter of last year alone, according to its latest disclosure report. The form shows they lobbied lawmakers in the House and Senate, as well as Biden White House officials, on a wide variety of bills, including new tax proposals as well as U.S. aid to Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. 
Look, American corporations are pretty terrile, ut forcing them to give their money to Republicans or else in order to hurt Democratic candidates is a new low, even for these jackasses.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Hopefully this asshole spends the next two decades in jail, but neo-Nazi hate group Atomwaffen founder Brandon Russell and his girlfriend are facing federal charges after being picked up in a plot to destroy power substations around Baltimore in order to "completely destroy the whole city." 

A neo-Nazi leader recently released from prison has been arrested again and accused of plotting an attack on the Maryland power grid with a woman he met while incarcerated.

Brandon Russell, 27, and Sarah Clendaniel, 34, are expected to make their first appearance Monday in Baltimore federal court on a charge of conspiring to destroy an energy facility, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

“If we can pull off what I’m hoping … this would be legendary,” Clendaniel said on Jan. 29, according to the court record. She was speaking to a federal informant, who was having similar discussions with Russell.

According to prosecutors, their plan was to attack with gunfire five substations that serve the Baltimore area. The charges come after similar attacks on the power grid in North Carolina and Oregon that remain unsolved; the Department of Homeland Security recently warned that the United States is in a “heightened threat environment” and that critical infrastructure is among the “targets of potential violence.”

In conversations about the plot, according to court documents, one defendant “described how there was a ‘ring’ around Baltimore and if they hit a number of them all in the same day, they ‘would completely destroy this whole city.’”

Clendaniel and Russell met while incarcerated at separate prisons, according to the court documents — Russell in federal custody for possessing bombmaking materials and Clendaniel in a Maryland facility for robbing convenience stores with a machete.

“Going to prison was worth it because I might not have met you otherwise,” Russell said in one text.

Both are on probation. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys representing them in this matter. Attempts to reach family for Clendaniel and Russell was not immediately successful.

Russell, a former Florida National Guard member, is the founder of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, which attempted to use violent attacks to spark a race war in the United States. Experts say the group, while small, is dangerous because of its influence on the broader far-right movement to eschew politics and spill blood.

Proud Boys and Oath Keeper terrorists are one thing, but these Atomwaffen assholes put the Nazi in neo-Nazi and they specifically targeted Baltimore in order to make Black folk suffer and die. It's 2023 and America is still dealing with shit like this.

And we have an entire major political party playing footsie with these guys, and the people who support them.

Jesus wept.

Welcome To Gunmerica, Con't

Will Bunch makes it plain that House GOP Circus of the Damned's latest cackling performance piece kitting out members with AR-15 lapel pins is both making it clear whom the GOP really serves, and acting as an open threat against Democrats and their voters, starting with "George Santos".

In winning election on a completely made-up resume, Santos is the final downward spiral for a Republican Party that has become 100% about the performance and 0% about the policy. So when his new GOP colleague from Georgia handed Santos a lapel pin in the shape of an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, the New Yorker did what any outrageous showman would do. He pinned it on.

The sight in recent days of Santos and several of his Republican colleagues parading through the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol with a mini-celebration of a killing machine that serves no civilian purpose beyond mowing down large numbers of innocent people in the shortest possible time is perhaps the most hideous assault on human decency I’ve seen in more than 40 years of covering U.S. politics.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? The lapel pins — like those Christmas cards of their adorable blond kids armed to the teeth with high-powered weaponry or the right’s new love affair with the toxic fumes of gas stoves — are meant to “trigger the libs” and sustain a career arc that generates prime-time hits on Fox News and fund-raising emails without ever having to get anything done. Yes, you could argue this column, then, is a perfect example of what these cons want. But what a choice: playing along, or remaining silent while America sheds the skin of humanity.

It’s one thing to embrace the more extreme interpretations of what the Second Amendment means around the rights of individual citizens to buy or own a gun, for purposes like hunting or self-defense. It’s something else entirely to worship the AR-15 and similar assault rifles, which were invented in the 1950s for the military and weren’t meant for civilians until the lucrative gun manufacturers who also finance the National Rifle Association saw a gold mine in marketing them to men obsessed with their masculinity in an era of social change.

And so these AR-15 lapel pins appeared on the chests of Santos and his fellow newcomer Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida — even in the same week that back in Luna’s home state four gunmen in a sedan opened fire on a crowd of people in Lakeland, wounding 11. Even as the notorious list of deaths from mass shootings involving AR-15-style weapons — in now-infamous locales like Uvalde, Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Parkland and Newtown — grows longer and longer.

Imagine members strutting around the corridors of Congress in late 2001 with a Boeing 747 lapel pin, or wearing a spiky replica of the coronavirus when New York City’s morgues were overflowing in the spring of 2020. Explain to me how worshiping an AR-15 — when the blood stains are still being scrubbed off a dance studio in Monterey Park, Club Q in Colorado Springs, or a bus in Charlottesville — is any different, really?

Yet while it’s about “owning the libs,” the GOP’s performance art is also about much more than that. It’s instructive to look at who has been handing out the AR-15 lapel pins: Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia. In the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up department, Clyde was born on Nov. 22, 1963 — the exact day that someone with a rifle gunned down President John F. Kennedy — and he has built his political career around the cult of firearms.

A Navy combat vet who before this week was best known for his declaration that the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection was like “a normal tourist visit,” Clyde was first elected in 2020 largely on his high profile in the north Georgia exurbs as the owner of the Clyde Armory gun store. He grew that operation from his garage into a $25 million business, marketing AR-15-style guns in the heart of Trump country. That’s because in the Donald Trump/George Santos GOP, grievance is highly profitable — and often a grift.

But Clyde’s career is also a tribute to the ways that today’s GOP has inherited the flag that Southern segregationists like Georgia’s Lester Maddox waved in the 1960s. The Georgia freshman was one of only three House members to vote against the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act and 14 who opposed the creation of the Juneteenth holiday. In doling out his AR-15 pins, Clyde reminds us that the NRA’s radical interpretation of the Second Amendment arose only after Black civil rights gains in the 1960s, and that for its true believers gun ownership is a surrogate for their core value, which is white supremacy.

For much of America’s history, white supremacy — enforced by everything from the bias baked into our laws and codes to the terror of lynching — has dominated. When the swings of social change and a more enlightened government advanced the rights of Blacks, women, the LGBTQ community and others, Republicans competed as the anti-government party backed by the new terror of their unbridled gun cult, but even that increasingly is a losing hand in a more diverse and better educated America. If the white supremacy-soaked far right can no longer rule our nation, today’s Republicans are all too happy to blow it all up, in a world of mass shootings, insurrections, and unchecked pandemics. Their nihilism — wittingly or not — has turned them into a death cult.
There's really no coming back for the GOP. Either they gain de facto permanent rule, or they'll make however many millions suffer until they get the votes to do so.

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