…a third way [DOT 28/7/22]

or a third rail...

…what do you do when the stakes are high & you don’t like your choices?

The brazen plan to create false slates of electors pledged to former President Donald J. Trump in seven swing states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. was arguably the longest-running and most expansive of the multiple efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
[…]
The scheme had a vague historical precedent and was rooted, at least in theory, in a post-Reconstruction Era law designed to address how to handle disputed elections. But it was deemed illegal by Mr. Trump’s own White House Counsel’s Office. Even some of the lawyers who helped come up with the idea referred to it as fake and acknowledged that it was of dubious legality, according to a cache of email messages brought to light by The New York Times.
[…]
The Trump plan began with an effort to persuade Republican officials in the targeted states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — to help draft, or to put their names on, documents that declared Mr. Trump to be the victor.
[…]
Their stated rationale was that Mr. Biden’s victories in those states would be overturned once they could establish their claims of widespread voting fraud and other irregularities, and that it was only prudent to have the “alternate” slates of electors in place for that eventuality.
[…]
Ultimately, several dozen of Mr. Trump’s allies in the states signed false slates of electors, and most were unequivocal in their contention that Mr. Trump had won. But in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, local officials who drafted the documents included a caveat, saying that they should only be considered if Mr. Trump prevailed in the many lawsuits he and his allies had filed challenging the election, and was legally the winner.
[…]
“We would just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted,” Jack Wilenchik, a pro-Trump lawyer based in Arizona, wrote in an email to his colleagues.

Most simply, Mr. Trump and his allies sought to convince Mr. Pence to count the pro-Trump slates, reject those saying Mr. Biden had won and thus unilaterally keep the former president in office.

Alternatively, the Trump team hoped that Mr. Pence might declare the election to be irreparably defective and, under the Electoral Count Act of 1887, let state delegations in the House of Representatives decide the election themselves, a process that would also have given Mr. Trump his victory.

In yet a third option, Mr. Trump and his allies thought Mr. Pence could choose to delay the certification of the electors count, providing the former president with more time to prove his claims of fraud or mount a last-ditch challenge in a Supreme Court case.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/us/politics/fake-electors-explained-trump-jan-6.html

…yup…most folks, they look at their unpalatable options & try to figure out the lesser of two evils…but every once in a while you get the ones who think…nah…I’m gonna change the rules…but if following the rules is your whole deal…well…then you have a whole new slate of questions

The biggest question set off by the special committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack has been: Will the Justice Department prosecute former President Donald J. Trump for his role in trying to overturn the election? The question has become even more prominent with the news that federal prosecutors have begun asking witnesses about Mr. Trump in their criminal investigation.
[…]
Members of the House select committee — including its vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming — have publicly read from the criminal code the laws they believe Mr. Trump broke, including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress. Mr. Goldstein said that while the committee has done a good job of laying out the potential criminality, it is far more difficult to make a case in court.

In court, the standards for entering evidence are higher and prosecutors need to prove allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. The case also would need to survive legal appeals that would likely go all the way up to the Supreme Court.
[…]
There are three crimes that committee members and legal experts have said Mr. Trump would be most likely to be investigated for:

    1. Obstructing an official proceeding of Congress
    2. Defrauding the United States
    3. Seditious conspiracy

[…] there appears to be the most material for the first charge, obstructing an official proceeding of Congress — in this case, the certification of the Electoral College vote that was interrupted on Jan. 6 when Trump supporters stormed the building.

To prove such a charge, prosecutors would have to show that Mr. Trump had a corrupt intent when he took an action that was designed to interfere with the proceeding, meaning that he knew he was doing something wrong. Mr. Goldstein said there was likely enough evidence on the public record to prove corrupt intent but that finding an action would be more challenging.
[…]
Even if prosecutors are able to meet those elements, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland would have an extraordinary decision to make: Is it in the best interests of the country to bring charges against a former president, especially one who may be running again for that office?

Such a prosecution could draw the Justice Department into partisan politics in extraordinary ways.
[…]
“And here, in part because of just how high profile all of this is,” he continued, “if there were very clear evidence of a crime and it was sort of very straightforward and provable, but the Department of Justice walked away, there is a real risk of the American people thinking that there are two systems of justice. And that would be devastating to the mission of the department.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/us/politics/trump-criminal-charges-investigation.html

…it’s not what you’d call simple, certainly…but…as has been mentioned hereabouts a time or two…it’s also a little curious quite how much the “where’s the DoJ in all this?” pieces have tended to outnumber the “according to the DoJ” ones where this stuff is concerned…& it’s easy to put a bunch of that down to garland et al playing their cards close to the vest the way that…broadly speaking…you’d expect

Because people are so desperate for information on investigations into Trump, they’re over-reading articles to see only the most panic-inducing details.

So I wanted to collect all the known details of investigative steps against Trump and his associates. This will be a running thread.

Note that while I’ve focused on named subjects, these investigations absolutely intersect. That’s readily apparent with the fake electors investigation, but less so with the “Stop the Steal” nexus (best seen in the Ali Alexander entry below; which is where I’m putting some movement activists who played key roles). Those who were speakers on January 5, VIPs who were removed from the speaker’s list on January 6, or who were on Stone’s Friends of Stone or Alexander’s Stop the Steal lists often had roles both in ginning up mobs in states or advance planning for events at the Capitol on January 6 and played some role as things rolled out that day. These people would likely be the “influencers” identified in the investigative plan put together before Michael Sherwin left.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/07/16/what-doj-was-doing-while-everyone-was-whinging-doj-wasnt-doing-anything/

…but it’s worth noting that actually they’ve said a bit more than that tends to imply…although being lawyers that isn’t necessarily the sort of stuff that lends itself to your clickbait headline

When I was doing my, “What DOJ Was Doing While You Were Wasting Time Whinging on Twitter” post, I was laughing to myself at the number of times that Merrick Garland or Lisa Monaco have said things about the January 6 investigation, including charging high ranking people, only to have pundits claim that DOJ never makes a statement about such things.

On that note, someone linked this appearance Monaco did at University of Chicago in May, where professor Genevieve Lakier asked her a hypothetical about charging the President and Monaco answered at some length.
[…]
Lakier: Which is, you’re the Deputy Attorney General and you have some power to decide what the Department of Justice and there’s former high ranking members of the Administration who are no longer in the Administration and there’s plenty of suggestive evidence and maybe some Federal judges have found there to be quite a lot of evidence that they have committed crimes. So how do you go about the process of thinking about whether to charge them? How do you talk to the American public about that process? How do you do it?

Monaco: See, e.g., the last hour.

Lakier: Yeah. It’s no different?

Monaco: No!

Lakier: When thinking about charging the highest federal official and a regular person.

Monaco: One set of rules, no matter who’s on the side of “the v[ersus],” right? That has to be the right answer. Right, professor, doesn’t that have to be the right answer?

…ok…but the lady has a boss, right?

Lakier: I guess I’ll [take a?] follow-up, […] I mean, thinking sympathetically one might imagine that if you’re a prosecutor and you’ve got lots of cases to charge and there’s lots of bad behavior to go after, you might think that the profound political fall-out that might follow going after a particular individual would distract generally from the work of the Department of Justice and in the long run, undermine the people’s justice. So I guess I’m wondering, are those kinds of concerns — not with the, oh we don’t want to charge this person because of their rank. But we don’t want to charge this person because it’s going to make our lives of doing the people’s justice so much harder. Do those kinds of considerations come in?

Monaco: Look, I’ll quote the Attorney General here. “We don’t avoid specific cases because they’re controversial or they’re sensitive. We do avoid making decisions based on purely political or partisan considerations.”

…but…you know…lawyers…so the devil is in the details & sometimes things that seem straightforward are mind-numbingly complex in a way that smacks rather more of design than accident

Lakier: […] again, going back to January 6, you say you just follow the law. But there’s so many laws. And they’re generally quite broadly worded, for example, seditious conspiracy. So again, I just want to know about the trade-off. So so far in the prosecutions though I understand that everything’s not over yet, by any means, most of the people who’ve been charged are those who were directly involved in the events at the Capitol. But we know that there was plenty of organizing, inciting, encouraging. And we might think that many of those who were involved in the organizing, the inciting, the encouraging, perhaps bear more responsibility than those who participated, or equal responsibility. and yet it does raise difficult First Amendment concerns. So when thinking about how high to go, how broadly to go in these prosecutions, when we move beyond the people who entered the Capitol to the people who were involved in the planning, the orchestrating, how do you think about the free speech concerns? And also how do you think about — this excellent question about the prior precedents? How conservative do you play it? Do you worry that if you are going to be conservative, the result is going to be an overly anemic form of justice.

Monaco: So a few points. One, on the question of how broad to go, how high to go, we’ve been exceptionally clear about this and let me restate it and be clear here. We will follow the facts and the law wherever they go, to hold perpetrators of January 6 accountable at any level. At any level. And we will do so whether or not individuals were present on that day or not. So we’ve been exceptionally clear and I want to make that clear here for this audience.

When it comes to making judgements about how to make these charging decisions, seditious conspiracy, I mentioned three pleas already, to seditious conspiracy. It won’t take a huge law school paper writing exercise to look at the history of the seditious conspiracy statute as the professor here can tell you, it does not — you won’t find a lot of cases. So something we take very seriously. And we appropriately, I think, brought these charges, which I’m not going to expound upon beyond what is in the charging papers, except to say that we think it appropriately gets at the gravity of the conduct, and again, we’ve gotten three guilty pleas to that particularly statute already.

Last point, on how we make these decisions, starting first with the crimes that are in front of us, and then working out from there, and the reasons for that. I think what you see in the charging decisions that we’ve made, the most serious charges and thus far the most serious sentences have been meted out against those individuals who engaged in assault. The 200+ individuals who I said we’ve arrested and charged with assaulting officers or members of the news media. Those who engaged in conspiracy acts to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power. Those are the most serious charges and thus far are garnering the most serious charges and ultimately sentences, most likely. Then, where that conduct is not present, either assault or a conspiracy to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power, you see us using lesser charges for those who entered the Capitol without authorization. Trespassing and the like. It is important to mete out those charges as well, however you’re seeing individuals both coming forward and taking responsibility, getting lesser sentences both because they are lesser charges and if they’ve come forward, accepted responsibility, and in some instances, cooperated with the government, you will see lesser sentences and lesser charges there.
https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/07/20/what-lisa-monaco-said-about-charging-a-hypothetical-former-president/

…& as that “running thread” from emptywheel catalogues…or the roundup I posted the other day about open cases against mr multiply-impeached…or a whole bunch of similarly themed collections in various places…that’s been happening in various places

Days after news broke in January 2021 that President Donald Trump had tried to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to overturn the 2020 election results, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched a criminal investigation.

Since then, the investigation appears to have dramatically broadened, and investigators have identified more than 100 people of interest as they probe what Trump or his allies did in the weeks after the election. In January, Willis asked a judge to convene a special grand jury that has broad investigative powers. In May, 26 people were chosen to serve.

[…] Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other senior legal advisers presented now-debunked video to lawmakers purporting to show election fraud at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, a 2020 voting location. They also cited an outlandish and illegal theory that urged lawmakers to hold a special session of the legislature to select their own slate of electors in defiance of the election results. It is not a crime to falsely testify before a Georgia legislature, according to legal experts, but prosecutors may find that the false comments were knowingly made in bad faith or that they were part of a coordinated effort to delay or overturn the administration of Georgia’s elections.

[…] Text messages obtained by The Washington Post show that the Trump campaign and Georgia Republicans knew the plan was baseless and probably illegal.
[…]
Solicitation to commit election fraud” is a felony that takes place when anyone pressures a person to, in some way, tamper with election results. Prosecutors are investigating whether Trump credibly broke this law in his phone call with Raffensperger. “The question there, of course, is what was Donald Trump’s intent? Was there the criminal mind necessary to constitute a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt? That’s a tough pill, and there’s a slightly uphill battle,” said Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University.

…notably don jr was ruled legally to be too dumb to have the required mens rea to accrue guilt about conspiring with your actual hostile foreign agents to pervert the course of an election…& the supreme court is…well…not well…so despite the part where this all seems like a textbook example of exactly the kind of desperate shenanigans intended to be covered by that charge…we might have to settle for al-capone-went-down-for-fiddling-taxes territory

Attempting to “interfere with, hinder, or delay” election administrators’ work is a misdemeanor. That statute, which centers on a person’s actions rather than intent, could cover Trump and his allies’ interference with the secretary of state’s office and local election officials, as well as the Trump campaign’s effort to coordinate a slate of fake electors for the electoral college.

…but…”if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”

Under Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, it is illegal to coordinate criminal acts through an organization or to do so to gain control of an enterprise. In Trump’s case, the prosecutors could determine that his presidential campaign constituted a criminal enterprise for its conduct after the election or that his team’s coordinated efforts to win the presidency were a conspiracy to take over an enterprise.

…so…despite the whole looming-spectre-of-crumbling-democracy thing…it’s probably a safe bet that some outcomes are still in the real of wishful thinking…or nightmares, I guess, depending on your degree of involvement in attempting to subvert the course of a lawful presidential transition

“Using Georgia’s RICO law for election fraud crimes is a novel, untested argument, which I think, despite getting tossed around by pundits outside of Georgia, is a highly unrealistic probability,” Kreis said.

…but…in my more optimistic moments…it occurs to me that however unlikely they may be to bear the profusion of fruit I’d like…that they’ve taken root at all is not a small thing…& that the abundance of incriminating evidence already in the public record suggests it may be no more plausible to suggest that they could wither on the vine…that’s maybe something, too?

It’s also illegal under federal law to “deprive and defraud” people of a “fair and impartially conducted election process.”
[…]
Where regular grand juries determine whether to bring criminal charges in a case, a special grand jury has broad investigative powers to find out if organized crime is taking place in its community.

Willis requested a special grand jury because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses,” including Raffensperger, “have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony,” according to a January letter Willis sent to Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher C. Brasher. Brasher approved the request a week later.

Unlike a normal grand jury, a special grand jury does not vote on whether to bring criminal charges. Instead, it will probably draft a report recommending whether Willis should file charges against Trump or his allies. Should Willis decide to prosecute, a regular grand jury would be called to decide whether to bring charges and in what alleged crimes.

A 23-person special grand jury was seated May 2 and can conduct its work for a year, though Willis has said the body will have completed its investigation long before that. All of the body’s conduct is secret, and prosecutors have made few public remarks about their activities thus far.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/07/27/trump-georgia-investigation-explained/

…but the trouble with trying to talk about this stuff is…well…there’s so damn much of it…& when all those different bits turn on a surfeit of details…albeit details with at least as much overlap as the investigations themselves…it’s not only confusing but time consuming…here I had every intention of briefly touching on it before getting to other things that you might catch in the headlines today only to already be damn near late getting this up without even having started on that…or done more than scratch the surface of the litany of legal liability that all points to a need to take an unprecedented step in a precedent based legal system by indicting the un-presidented ex-president for his attempt to change the game…it’s like the kobayashi maru…except…capt. combover is no james t. kirk

…hell…it’s stretching credulity just to imagine the melting waxwork of a man even eating an apple…but before I try to at least touch on the thing I was thinking of when I picked the title today before I give up this unequal struggle & get to the part with the tunes…here’s one more tidbit on a related note

Since October 2021, the Republican National Committee has paid nearly $2 million to law firms representing Trump as part of his defense against personal litigation and government investigations.

But an RNC official told ABC News that as soon as Trump would announce he is running for president, the payments would stop because the party has a “neutrality policy” that prohibits it from taking sides in the presidential primary.
[…]
RNC officials would not comment on the record for this story. Representatives for Trump also declined to comment.

This isn’t the first time that legal bills have been seen as possible leverage over Trump.

According to the book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Trump told McDaniel he was leaving the GOP and creating his own political party — only to back down after McDaniel made it clear to Trump that the party would stop paying his legal bills for his post-election challenges and take other steps that would cost him financially.

…it seems at least possible that he’s actually more concerned at the prospect of having to foot his own bills with his own money (well, money he’s bilked out of someone & not yet pissed up the proverbial wall throwing good money after bad in what is inarguably his signature move) than by the spectre of his potential incarceration

According to the RNC’s most recent financial disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, from October 2021 through June of this year, the RNC paid at least $1.73 million to three law firms representing Trump, including firms that are defending him in investigations into his personal family business in New York. Last month alone, the RNC paid $50,000 to a law firm representing Trump in June.

The latest tally tops the $1.6 million maximum figure that the Republican Party’s executive committee reportedly voted to cover for Trump’s personal legal bills during an RNC meeting last year, a figure that The Washington Post, which first reported on the agreement in December, wrote could increase further with the party executive committee’s approval.

“I don’t think there’s been any effort” by the RNC to remain neutral, longtime Republican donor and Canary LLC CEO Dan Eberhart told ABC News. “This is a symbiotic relationship.”

“The RNC needs Trump or Trump surrogates or Trump’s likeness to raise money, and Trump wants them to continue paying his bills and be as pro-Trump as possible,” Eberhart said. “So neither is in a hurry to cut the umbilical cord.”
[…]
Eberhart said the current relationship between Trump and the RNC is putting other potential 2024 presidential candidates at an “absolute disadvantage.”

“Other Republican candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president have good reason to worry that the party apparatus is rigged against them in its unwavering support for Trump,” echoed Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at the progressive government-watchdog group Public Citizen.
[…]
Eberhart said “it’s an open secret” within the Republican Party that “nobody wants Trump to announce his candidacy until after the midterms.”

“Everyone thinks it’ll scramble the midterms and we could potentially destroy the advantage we have” if Trump would announce too early, Eberhart said. “It makes Trump more relevant and gives the Dems potentially a way to reset the race.”

…hold that thought

The RNC is reportedly not covering Trump’s legal bills related to the House special committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But as previously reported by ABC News, Trump’s leadership PAC, Save America, and his presidential committee-turned-PAC Make America Great Again PAC have been footing legal bills for witnesses involved in legal battles related to the events of Jan. 6, which has raised concerns about witness coercion from Jan. 6 committee members and legal experts.

Holman, the watchdog group lobbyist, said regulations that would govern legal expense funds for executive branch officials and candidates have been proposed to the Office of Government Ethics. Among the proposals are regulations that would enforce contribution limits, prohibit certain funding sources, and require the full disclosure of where money comes from and how it is spent.

“Until OGE finalizes these rules, however, Trump and the RNC legally can do almost whatever they want to pay for Trump’s legal woes and largely evade meaningful disclosure of the sources and expenditures of these funds,” Holman said.
https://abcnews.go.com/US/rnc-warning-trump-run-president-stop-paying-legal-bills

…like ’em or loathe ’em…& I undeniably loathe ’em…the republicans always seem to coalesce when it comes to the need to get their ducks in a row…so much as I’d love to watch the next presidential race include the usual two tickets along with a vote-splitting circus of a dolt45 run as an independent…I’m not holding my breath on his side of the aisle taking that bait…what with all the vote suppression & state level fuckery they’ve been up to that seems like the sort of thing that favors the opponents’ chances…& who’d see that as a smart bet?

If nothing is done, the United States will not reach its 300th birthday this century in recognizable form. That’s why we are coming together — Democrats, Republicans and independents — to build a new, unifying political party for the majority of Americans who want to move past divisiveness and reject extremism.
[…]
How do you remedy such a crisis? In a system torn apart by two increasingly divided extremes, you must reintroduce choice and competition.

The United States badly needs a new political party — one that reflects the moderate, common-sense majority. Today’s outdated parties have failed by catering to the fringes. As a result, most Americans feel they aren’t represented.

Most third parties in U.S. history failed to take off, either because they were ideologically too narrow or the population was uninterested. But voters are calling for a new party now more than ever.

…most? …really? …I mean…yeah, sure…neither of the two plausible options for a winning party seem like they’re an ideal pick even if the lesser evil literally isn’t in the same ball park of spectacular, front & center fucking frightfulness as the pro-sedition caucus…but what kind of deluded dem is signing on to a majority republican vehicle for vote-splitting in the current context?

For the first time in modern history, roughly half of Americans consider themselves “independents,” and two-thirds say a new party is needed (and would vote for it). Surprisingly, a majority of Democrats and Republicans say they want another option, too.

As leaders and former elected officials, we’re tired of just talking about a third way. So this month, we’re merging our three national organizations — which represent the left, right, and center of the political spectrum — to build the launchpad for a new political party called Forward.

The two major parties have hollowed out the sensible center of our political system — even though that’s where most voters want to see them move. A new party must stake out the space in between. On every issue facing this nation — from the controversial to the mundane — we can find a reasonable approach most Americans agree on.

…the answer to that question in what stunningly appears to be very much a non-hypothetical sense is…andrew yang

Some call third parties “spoilers,” but the system is already spoiled. There are more than 500,000 elected positions in the United States, but a recent study found more than 70 percent of races on ballots in 2020 were unopposed or uncontested. A tiny sliver of U.S. congressional seats will have close races this November. The two major parties have shut out competition, and America is suffering as a result.

That’s why we’re proposing the first “open” party. Americans of all stripes — Democrats, Republicans and independents — are invited to be a part of the process, without abandoning their existing political affiliations, by joining us to discuss building an optimistic and inclusive home for the politically homeless majority.

Our merged organizations are just the starting point, the launchpad for this movement. We are planning liftoff at a national convention next summer and will soon seek state-by-state ballot access to run candidates in 2024 and beyond. We are actively recruiting former U.S. representatives, governors, entrepreneurs, top political operatives and community leaders to make it happen.

America’s founders warned about the dangers of a two-party system. Today, we’re living with the dire consequences. Giving Americans more choices is important not just for restoring civility. Our lives, our livelihoods and our way of life depend on it.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/07/27/forward-party-new-centrist-third/

…now…they might not be talking about throwing a hat in the ring for a presidential run…but…in functional terms…it sounds a lot like the turf they’re looking to stake out looks a lot like the hostage-taking routine we’ve become accustomed to in the senate

Senate Maj. Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., threw a legitimate curveball at their Senate colleagues Wednesday when they abruptly announced a reconciliation deal much broader than almost anyone thought possible just days ago.

But Manchin hasn’t been the only Democratic stumbling block to passage of any deal and now the spotlight shifts to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who has yet to comment on the new agreement.

The provisions that mirror the White House framework for the Build Back Better Act are likely to be fine with her — that includes a 15% corporate minimum tax, prescription drug savings, Affordable Care Act funding and more. A few weeks ago, her office pointed NBC News to a supportive statement she issued on that October 2021 framework.

It’s the carried interest tax provision that could be a problem for Sinema.

…anyone seriously think manchin isn’t entirely aware of that little niggle?

Last year, she conveyed to Democratic leaders that she opposed closing the carried interest tax break, which affects investment managers. That provision was dropped from the House bill as a result. Her office declined to comment to NBC News on Wednesday when asked about that provision being added back in the Schumer-Manchin deal.

That said, carried interest is a small piece of this new agreement, estimated at $14 billion in revenues out of an estimated $739 billion. It’s not necessary to making the math work and wouldn’t necessarily torpedo the bill if it had to be removed. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., supports addressing carried interest, and Sinema has been the only one of the 50 Senate Democrat to register opposition, according to multiple sources.

If Sinema remains opposed to touching that tax break, there has been some desire among Democrats to put it on the floor and dare her to vote no — she’s up for re-election in 2024, and protecting a tax break for upper earners isn’t a popular position in Democratic primaries. Or Democrats could strip it and leave the rest of the bill intact.
https://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meetthepressblog/manchin-makes-deal-will-kyrsten-sinema

…yeah…so…there was a lot of other shit I had lofty intentions of…if not addressing…at least finding time for in this…but that’s the thing about time…it keeps ticking by…& it does not give a fuck that you need more of it to get to the stuff you want to…so I’m gonna have to wrap this up & mainline a bunch more caffeine in an attempt to find enough of the stuff to add some tunes to the bottom of this without throwing my hypothetical schedule entirely out the window while the day has barely begun…but while you ponder who exactly might be holding what kind of gun to the head of the US electorate…spare a thought for the hands that build those things…who would very much like you to understand than just as guns don’t kill people…people who make & sell guns to the people who kill people…by the transitive property…are clearly not in an sense liable for the people they provide them to in good faith turning out to be murderous assholes

The chief executives of two leading gun manufacturers said mass shootings are “local problems” that cannot be blamed on “inanimate” firearms when a House panel asked them Wednesday whether they accept responsibility for selling the assault-style rifles used in most of the recent massacres.
[…]
They said such mass murders need to stop but balked when they were asked whether their companies would stop selling assault-style rifles.

…I mean…the numbers don’t lie…right?

Gun manufacturers have made more than $1 billion from selling assault-style weapons to civilians, with some companies’ earnings tripling as gun deaths soared, Maloney said, citing internal financial data the committee obtained.

Daniel Defense took in more than $120 million in sales of AR-15-style rifles last year, compared with $40 million in 2019, the committee said. Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s gross earnings nearly tripled in the same time frame, from $39 million to more than $103 million.

Smith & Wesson — which sold the high-powered weapons used in the Fourth of July massacre in Highland Park — saw its revenue from all long guns more than doubled, from $108 million to $253 million, in that period.
[…]
“It’s no secret why gun CEOs are so desperate to avoid taking responsibility for the deaths caused by their product,” she said.

“It seems to me that if a company really cared that its products were being used to kill scores of Americans, it would stop selling them,” Maloney added. “But of course, the gun industry won’t do that, because they’re making lots and lots of money from these weapons.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/gun-makers-tell-congress-mass-shootings-are-local-problem-not-caused-by-guns

…same as it ever was…whether the gun be literal…or metaphorical

Around the world, we’re witnessing the impacts of global heating: in the past week, airport runways have melted in the UK, wildfires have torched huge swathes of Europe, and more than 100 million Americans have sweltered in dangerously high temperatures. Already this year, prolonged heatwaves and drought in many of the world’s breadbaskets have exacerbated a global food shortage that has raised the number of people living with food insecurity from 440 million to 1.6 billion.

There are many to blame for the climate crisis and its extreme weather impacts. Executives of fossil fuel companies bear the greatest responsibility. More than anything else, it has been their great deceit – their burying of climate science, funding of climate denial, and spending of billions to kill climate policy – that has prevented us from transitioning away from an economy powered by coal, oil and gas. Compromised politicians, including the entire Republican party and the Democratic coal baron Joe Manchin, deserve special condemnation, too.

In the cast of climate villains, however, another character rises to claim a special place on center stage: Wall Street.
[…]
As we swelter through these early days of the climate crisis, we should keep in mind that our banks are deeply culpable for climate breakdown and that they are often using our money to make it even worse. And once we realize that, the real question is: what are we going to do about it?
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/27/looking-for-someone-to-blame-for-the-extreme-heat-try-wall-street

…that it exists puts a potentially lethal option on the table…& giving it over to the control of those willing to exercise that option in the furtherance of their interests as they see them…well…case in point, as they say

The Matrix saga illustrates the political obstacles policymakers and experts face as they attempt to cut climate pollution from the power sector, one of the biggest greenhouse gas contributors in the US.

The ongoing clash between Matrix’s founder Joe Perkins, 72, and former CEO Jeff Pitts, 51, is exposing the firm’s decades of extensive influence peddling on behalf of utility clients.
[…]
Big power companies operate as monopolies with captive customers in much of the south-east US. They are supposed to be closely regulated, but their profits and unchecked political spending makes them some of the most powerful entities in a state.

Howard Crystal, an attorney for the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, said that US utilities are allowed monopoly power “because they are supposed to expand the public interest.

“[But] now we have this incredible corruption and a reversal of that because they are using their advantage to hang on to power and undermine democracy,” he said.
[…]
Headquartered in Montgomery, Matrix has been described there as “the closest thing Alabama politics has to a non-governmental secret agency”.

Perkins and Pitts worked together for more than 25 years, expanding the firm into a national operation with dozens of clients in myriad industries.
[…]
From the beginning, Matrix showed no aversion to unsavory political tactics. In 1998, the firm distributed copies of a video in which a sex worker falsely alleged she had been sexually assaulted by a candidate for lieutenant governor. The sex worker later testified the allegations were untrue, and that she had been paid by a Birmingham businessman to make them.
[…]
Matrix grew so large that by 2015 it was operating several private aircraft to whisk Pitts and Perkins to client meetings. Flight data shows Matrix’s planes made more than 130 flights to five states in 2020 alone, frequently crisscrossing the south-eastern US but also traveling as far west as New Mexico.
[…]
At the Birmingham office where Pitts and the others had worked, Perkins said he found a backup server that “appeared to have been beaten with something”. The firm later recovered more than a million files, according to Perkins, who said they reveal years of hidden, “shadow work” in Florida. Perkins and Pitts sued each other, with Pitts claiming his former mentor had “never followed through” on handing over the company despite years of discussions. Once he left, Pitts said Perkins smeared him to clients in an attempt to extort millions.

As their feud escalated, internal documents started to arrive in reporters’ email inboxes from unknown sources. Many of the documents have since been verified by additional reporting, public records or Perkins himself.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/27/leaked-us-leaked-power-companies-spending-profits-stop-clean-energy

…as oxymorons go…friendly fire has got to be one of the shittiest ways to go

[…tunes to follow…assuming adequate caffeination to eke out a spare moment]

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17 Comments

  1. A national unity party called Forward…how long would it take for them gin up one or several national emergencies and suspend the “troublesome” aspects of the Constitution, like freedom of speech, habeus corpus, freedom of assembly, the Voting Rights acts. I think I would leave this alone. Any party that can contain both a Manchin and an AOC is probably covering too much ground as it is.

    • …I’d admit to being curious…were it to translate to managing to get more people in both houses of congress who might be in the business of actually trying to accomplish something other than obstruction it could hypothetically be a good thing…but I can’t help feel like it’s more likely an attempt to get in on the outsize leverage game manchin & sinema seem to take such perverse pride in

      …& though it does seem as though a spectrum that runs from those two to the likes of AOC & katie porter might be ripe for dividing up between the apples & the oranges…the fact remains that curtailing it seems perilously close to awarding the majority to the side that’s largely unified by a lack of principles to get in the way of their prejudicial version of “pragmatism”…so…yeah…a third party might come with a persuasive argument but I’m not sure I’m exactly persuaded it’s a wise bet?

  2. The problem with third parties is that they’re inevitably never that different from what the main parties are doing. You either need a national crisis issue — as they’ll endlessly remind you, Republicans did form around being anti-slavery — or you need to be radical in a way that will make people scream and rend garments over your existence and make it really hard to get off the ground (so basically any even halfway left party).

    Instead you always get what Yang wants to do which is corporate centrism, except there’s already a party that does that (the Democrats) and a ultra-corporate party that says it does it too (the Republicans). What’s different? Nothing, really, but branding, and American voters are idiots, but they’re not dumb enough to switch political brands just ’cause the same thing comes in a fancier package.

    • It’s worth remembering the path the Kochs took.

      They started out literally as third party types, with David Koch on the Libertarian ticket as the VP candidate in the 1980 election.

      At the time the launched in 1979 and poured millions into the party, there was a realistic chance they could be spoilers and throw the election to Carter.

      What they realized is that 3rd party strategies are less effective than the path they took after 1980 — taking over one of the major parties.

      And to be honest, I think Yang’s backers are essentially using the lessons of the Kochs to attack progressives. They know the risks of activists controlling a party, so they want to block any possible move by the left wing to take over the Democrats. They also want to create a spoiler third party that reinforces the power of the GOP.

      We will absolutely get a flood of contradictory messaging that the Democrats aren’t liberal enough AND they need to do things like sell out seniors on Social Security and Medicare to cut the deficit. Basically, the NY Times Opinion Section.

      Watch the elites. If they were serious, they would back major structural reform first to enhance democracy and worry about other issues later. We will get zero concerns about fixing the Supreme Court, voting rights laws, or campaign finance reform, though, or gutting the right’s hold on legislatures in red states.

      They’ll be hung up on BS abstractions.

  3. Zuckerberg delivers another dud:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/27/technology/meta-earnings-revenue-decline.html

    The article talks about a lot of struggles Facebook has had with specific products, and some global issues, but it doesn’t really address a whole other issue, which is Facebook itself. Did its strip mining approach to the online world ultimately undermine its growth opportunities?

    Online content has gotten a lot thinner and worse thanks to Facebook. Trust has gone way down thanks to Facebook. And now they’re left with nowhere to go.

    The core of Meta is a joke. They missed the train on whatever they thought they might link into with Meta, NFTs and crypto. Zuckerberg has no soul or brain for content, and he’s killed a lot of what his customers ultimately want. So of course they’re not growing anymore.

    • Instagram now Instaspam

      The whole point of any app is to foster some kind of psychological dependence on it or the relations generated by said app aka community.

      Thanks to Facebook catering to RW assholes, racists, scumbags and ignorant fools as well as maximizing the data mining operation, he and the rest of the execubots destroyed that sense of community and dependency that made Facebook what users hoped it would be.

      Hils/McLuhan were right in it takes a village, but they failed in the aspect of dealing with the village idiots and smacking down their bullshit.  There is no such thing as “equal” time if one side are stubborn brain dead assholes who insist only on their way.

      For example: I found I’m a lot happier avoiding Facebook because I don’t have to read the rantings of a former FB friend’s failed marriage (both parties were terrible) or his constant shrieking of the big Trump lie which apparently has gotten more shrill thanks to the Jan 6 hearings.  Funny enough, he blames a lot of his problems on a serious childhood head injury but doesn’t get that maybe it might explain his shitty judgement and poor life choices (the only reason he’s avoided prison or bankruptcy is due to very rich parents.)

    • My admittedly anecdotal experience suggests that Facebook has coalesced around groups. Even family and friend content has dropped off. I suspect a lot of people have been turned off by Facebook’s blatant political pandering, and I think there’s a significant user drop-off. About the only content I regularly review is from hobby groups that I belong to.

      Some research backs that up my group theory:

      https://www.searchenginejournal.com/1-8-billion-people-use-facebook-groups-every-month/397109/#close

      I’m not sure various groups give Zuck an opportunity to sell advertising, or maybe his minions haven’t figured out how.

    • …they also might get blocked from acquiring a VR firm they had a predatory eye on…which was another thing I started out thinking I’d find space for this morning only to get waylaid by the profusion of legal niceties between now & any potential future that includes a jumpsuit matching the artificial skin tones of the fanta-faced fuckwit

      …tempus fugit & all that sort of thing

  4. I think I’m going to start two new political parties simultaneously- the Onwards and Upwards party  – which will be a vague amalgam of the Green Party and the Natural Law party and and the Backwards Party – which will be a mix of The Federalist Party and The Constitution Party.

    Of course, if no one likes either of these – there will also be the Leeward Party for people only interested in the rule of Maritime Law.

  5. I read that Guardian story about climate change and banks, and have read several others in a similar vein. It makes a lot of sense. It’s almost like unfettered capitalism is bad for us…

    ETA: RE: the turtle rescue — “So I just happened to have my tractor on the beach, as one often does….” Glad they got the beast back in the water.

    AETA: Gabriel, TMBG, and The Clash in one DOT? Get out of my algorithm, @SplinterRIP!

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