Monday, June 5, 2023

Last Call For Pool Fools

Trump's pool at Mar-a-Lago apparently flooded his surveillance system server room last year, so of course all the surveillance footage could have been lost of who may have been in the room with his stolen documents...
An employee at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence drained the resort’s swimming pool last October and ended up flooding a room where computer servers containing surveillance video logs were kept, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

While it’s unclear if the room was intentionally flooded or if it happened by mistake, the incident occurred amid a series of events that federal prosecutors found suspicious.

At least one witness has been asked by prosecutors about the flooded server room as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the sources.

The incident, which has not been previously reported, came roughly two months after the FBI retrieved hundreds of classified documents from the Florida residence and as prosecutors obtained surveillance footage to track how White House records were moved around the resort. Prosecutors have been examining any effort to obstruct the Justice Department’s investigation after Trump received a subpoena in May 2022 for classified documents.

Prosecutors have heard testimony that the IT equipment in the room was not damaged in the flood, according to one source.

Yet the flooded room as well as conversations and actions by Trump’s employees while the criminal investigation bore down on the club has caught the attention of prosecutors. The circumstances may factor into a possible obstruction conspiracy case, multiple sources tell CNN, as investigators try to determine whether the events of last year around Mar-a-Lago indicate that Trump or a small group of people working for him, took steps to try to interfere with the Justice Department’s evidence-gathering.
If you "accidentally" flood your servers, in a Florida coastal basement, because that's where your servers with surveillance footage would naturally be, is it obstruction of justice?
We're about to find out.

Ron's Gone Wrong, Con't

As critics made it painfully clear, Florida's law banning gender-affirming care for minors signed into law last month by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, also makes it effectively impossible to get for adults, and the state's trans community is finding out the hard way that this was the intent all along.
Eli and Lucas, trans men who are a couple, followed the discussions in the Legislature, where Democrats warned that trans children would be more prone to suicide under a ban on gender-affirming care for minors and Republicans responded with misplaced tales of mutilated kids. Eli said he and his partner felt “blindsided” when they discovered the bill contained language that would also disrupt their lives.

“There was no communication. … Nobody was really talking about it in our circles,” said Eli, 29.

Like many transgender adults in Florida, he and Lucas are now facing tough choices, including whether to uproot their lives so that they can continue to access gender-confirming care. Clinics are also trying to figure out how to operate under regulations that have made Florida a test case for restrictions on adults.

Lucas, 26, lost his access to treatment when the Orlando clinic that prescribed him hormone replacement therapy stopped providing gender-affirming care altogether. The couple also worries about staying in a state that this year enacted several other bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

“My entire life is here. All my friends, my family. I just got a promotion at my job, which I’m probably not to be able to keep,” Lucas, who works in a financial aid office at a college, said. “I’m losing everything except Eli and my pets moving out of here. So this was not a decision that I took lightly at all.”

The Associated Press is not using Eli’s and Lucas’ last names because they fear reprisal. While their friends and families know they are trans, most people who meet them do not.

The new law that bans gender-affirming care for minors also mandates that adult patients seeking trans health care sign an informed consent form. It also requires a physician to oversee any health care related to transitioning, and for people to see that doctor in person. Those rules have proven particularly onerous because many people received care from nurse practitioners and used telehealth. The law also made it a crime to violate the new requirements.

Another new law that allows doctors and pharmacists to refuse to treat transgender people further limits their options.

“For trans adults, it’s devastating,” said Kate Steinle, chief clinical officer at FOLX Health, which provides gender-affirming care to trans adults through telemedicine. Her company decided to open in-person clinics and hire more physicians licensed in Florida in order to continue to provide care to patients who have already enrolled, even though that represents a major change to the company’s business model.

Eli has been seeing a physician for years and therefore still has access to care. But SPEKTRUM Health Inc., the Orlando clinic that prescribed Lucas hormone replacement therapy, has stopped providing gender-affirming care.

“There are a lot of people looking for care that we’re no longer legally able to provide,” said Lana Dunn, SPEKTRUM Health’s chief operating officer.

Florida has the second-largest population of transgender adults in the U.S., at an estimated 94,900 people, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. It used state-level, population-based surveys to determine its estimates. Not all transgender people seek medical interventions.

At least 19 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. But restrictions on adults haven’t been part of the conversation in most places. Missouri’s attorney general tried to impose a rule in that state, but it was pulled back.

Florida is “the proving ground of what they can get away with,” Dunn said
That last sentence there, marking trans folks for increasingly brutal and endless state-sponsored cruelty, is, as they say, the point. More is coming. Republicans will block any federal attempt to stop red states from eliminating trans folks, but the government-sponsored destruction of an entire class of people is the key to a fascist state. Once you can take the rights of a group, then everyone else's rights become secondary to the whims of state decreeing the next group slated for demolition, until nobody is left.

Regardless of DeSantis's ongoing failure as a GOP presidential primary candidate, his policies are going national across dozens of states, hurting hundreds of thousands of Americans.

How Biden Was Ridin'

Greg Sargent points out that President Joe Biden beat the GOP on the debt ceiling showdown by outmaneuvering them, peeling off those Republicans who weren't completely committed to burning down the country and using them to cut a deal. 

Now that Congress has passed the debt limit deal, explanations for President Biden’s success in negotiating the outcome are abounding. Among them: Biden drew on his long experience in Washington to achieve bipartisan compromise; he avoided claiming a win so Republicans could support it; he didn’t get distracted by the media’s second-guessing.

Here’s another way to understand this unexpected outcome: Biden is operating from a largely unappreciated theory of MAGA, and in some ways, it’s working.

Passage of the deal, which averts default and economic calamity, was decisively bipartisan. The Senate approved it Thursday night with 17 Republicans backing it, after it passed the House with support from more than two-thirds of House Republicans.

This happened even though the deal’s spending cuts are not close to what Republicans sought. Yes, the outcome legitimizes the debt limit as a tool of extortion and imposes cruel new work requirements on many food stamp recipients. But Republicans didn’t use this showdown to crash or cripple the economy, as some observers (including me) worried they might.

Biden’s theory of MAGA helps explain this outcome. Biden ran in 2020 on the idea that the country faced an existential threat from the far right, highlighting white supremacy, political violence and President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attacks on democracy. This year’s reelection launch highlighted the assault on the Capitol and cast “MAGA extremists” as a threat to American “freedom.”

However, in promising to restore “the soul of the nation” in the face of this threat, Biden has continually distinguished between MAGA Republicans and more conventional ones. This approach has been criticized by those of us who see much of the GOP as extreme and dangerous — after all, many elected Republicans helped whitewash Trump’s insurrection — and think Biden’s characterization of non-MAGA Republicans plays down that broader threat.

But Biden’s reading served him well in the debt limit standoff. Contrary to much criticism, Bidenworld believes that refusing to negotiate at the outset was key: It forced Republicans to offer their own budget, which created an opening to attack the savage spending cuts in it.

Notably, Biden and other Democrats relentlessly characterized those cuts as destructive and dangerous in the MAGA vein. Bidenworld did believe that some MAGA Republicans were willing to default and force global economic cataclysm to harm the president’s reelection, a senior Biden adviser tells me, but also that many non-MAGA Republicans ultimately could be induced not to go that far.

That seems to be what happened. As political scientist Jonathan Bernstein points out, the outcome falsified the prediction that the GOP as a party would use that leverage to inflict maximum chaos. Meanwhile, the cuts themselves won’t be nearly as damaging to the economy as the ones in the 2011 standoff, as the New York Times’s Paul Krugman explains.

This illuminates Bidenworld’s broader theory of the MAGA GOP: The way to defeat the MAGA threat to the country is to marginalize it within the GOP coalition — that is, to contain it.

“He has never hesitated to call out the extreme MAGA wing of the Republican Party,” Kate Bedingfield, a senior adviser to the 2020 Biden campaign and to the White House through February, told me. “But he gives Republican voters and legislators who reject that wing of the party a place to go.”
It's that last part, giving Republicans a place to go besides MAGA, that's the key to all this. It's something that I don't believe in because any Republican remains an existential threat to folks like me, but giving them an alternative that allows them to hurt MAGA is the job I voted for Biden to take.

He's doing a bang-up job, and if it splits the GOP, I'm all for it.
Related Posts with Thumbnails