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Political Hodgepodge

This one explains one example of ‘dark money’, a donor to Democratic causes, which caught me off-guard because the Supreme Court case ‘Citizens United v Federal Election Commission’, decided in 2010, was a conservative, Republican-based effort, which split the court down ideological lines, with all the conservative justices deciding in favor and the liberal justices, against.

How an obscure mega-donor’s giving highlights our dark-money fiasco [WaPo;4.6.23]

I like this one for its clarity. Also, click on the link highlighted as Citizens United v FEC in the article for a reasonably short explanation of the case.
Wait and Clarence Thomas was on SCOTUS then? You mean the guy getting perks from Republican mega donors? No? How could that be? fucks sake
Wait and Clarence Thomas was on SCOTUS then? You mean the guy getting perks from Republican mega donors? No? How could that be? fucks sake
Yeah... I was just listening to a podcast about the billionaire real-estate guy, Harlan Crow, which referred to his collection of nazi memorabilia, an autographed copy of mein kamp, etc. He also has memorabilia related to George Washington and Winston Churchill and Dubya.

Clarence Thomas' Billionaire Buddy Has a Vast Collection of Hitler Paintings, Nazi Memorabilia [Rolling Stone;4.8.23]

That's just an aside to illustrate the predilections of Clarence's 'good friend', Harlan, adding special repugnance to the litany of ethically questionable actions of Justice Thomas.

Thomas' ethical choices aren't a new topic... recall how he didn't recuse himself from Supreme Court decisions, leading to an appearance of assisting concealment of his wife's involvement in the events leading up to Jan 6, specifically concerning communications with t---- staff, e.g. Mark Meadows and lawyer John Eastman.

Fact Check: Was Clarence Thomas Lone Dissenter on Trump Jan. 6 Documents? [Newsweek;6.17.22]

Of course, questions of improper conduct have dogged Thomas far longer than just recent years.

Talking heads speak of little confidence of any consequences however. The Democrat-majority Senate may call for ethical standard requirements for the Supreme Court but it's unlikely that Chief Justice Roberts will take any action.
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I want to clean up the saved sites on my browser and saw this and didn’t want to lose it b/c it’s some curious stuff. I want to check out some of the links but thought I might lose the thread. I’ve no idea if it’s credible, so I’m not suggesting you look at it, I just thought I’d save it here, while looking it over. It’s old news, from about a year after the murder of George Floyd…
Retired NSA director won lucrative consulting deals with Saudis, Japan [WaPo;4.25.2023]

Scoop by the Washington Post. The headline only mentions one individual but the article refers to hundreds of ex-military doing consulting work for foreign governments,

In an investigation last year, The Post found that more than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — had accepted employment from foreign governments, mostly as contractors in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression. Under federal law, retired service members must obtain permission before they can accept any compensation from foreign powers, out of concern that the payments could compromise their allegiance to the United States. The U.S. government withheld virtually all information about the foreign jobs until The Post won a two-year legal battle with the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the State Department.
There are a bunch of actions lately that haven’t been addressed at all in the politics and religion forum: anti- lgbtq legislation, book bans, continuing measures against reproductive health, voting rights suppression, etc etc etc. Must record some of those. In the mean time, and just as Celebration is about to begin at Paisley Park, here’s a good news article/opinion piece about Minnesota, which, incidentally, has Democratic control of all 3 branches of state government.

Anyone round these parts going to Celebration?

Opinion: the ‘Minnesota Miracle’ should serve as a model for Democrats [WaPo;6.4.2023]
kevin mccarthy is out as speaker of the House. The ‘acting’ speaker asked Nancy Pelosi to vacate her office by today (she’s away, attending Diane Feinstein’s funeral), according to 1 source I read b/c republicans are pissed that she advised Dems to vote to oust the speaker, joining the most extreme maga contingent, led by matt gaetz, a first in U.S. history. What now?!!!

Here’s one interesting idea:

The “Speaker Problem” - Solved [Andrew Tobias; 10.4.23]
kevin mccarthy is out as speaker of the House. The ‘acting’ speaker asked Nancy Pelosi to vacate her office by today (she’s away, attending Diane Feinstein’s funeral), according to 1 source I read b/c republicans are pissed that she advised Dems to vote to oust the speaker, joining the most extreme maga contingent, led by matt gaetz, a first in U.S. history. What now?!!!

Here’s one interesting idea:

The “Speaker Problem” - Solved [Andrew Tobias; 10.4.23]

Hey, McCarthy's ouster was bipartisan. Isn't that the way government is supposed to be?
How are you doing, well, US citizens anyway, keeping up with the news right now? No speaker in the House, after matt gaetz succeeded in galvanizing the gop caucus to eject Speaker mccarthy leaving the House in chaos and Congress unable to govern; fighting amongst the Republican caucus such that they vote to nominate steve scalise to the speakership, …when was it… yesterday? The day before? Today he has withdrawn himself from consideration due to the impasse created by the maga contingent. Maga’s reason? Some suggest it’s b/c scalise is in favor of backing Ukraine. Scalise is a reported white supremacist, who likened himself to david duke, head of the kkk, without the baggage. He seems out of contention now, which might be reassuring if the line-up of alternatives were any better. This happening with another government shutdown looming, a mere month from now, which can only be averted by a functional Congress. Meanwhile, the latest revelations about t——‘s mishandling of classified and top secret documents, since leaving the White House: Some Australian businessman (fortune made through corrugated boxes??!) joined the mar-a-lago club specifically to get access to t—— and, sure enough, yep, he cozied up and learned all about our nuclear submarines. And proceeds to spread around what he’s learned. Voter suppression shenanigans in North Carolina. T—— making outrageous speeches following the terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel this week. Oh, and the 4(?) criminal and civil cases against donald t——. There’s lots going on in each, including a backdrop of t—— making threats, inciting his base on social media. Multiple prosecutors and associates have required security details. Prosecutors are requesting protection for jurors. T——‘s illegal threats have yet to be reined in. He’s had gag orders imposed by judges, which he promptly violates with impunity. And so he continues. Utterly outrageous stuff like stating that General Mark Milley deserves to be executed; or doxxing a clerk of Judge Engoran’s court, etc Meanwhile, t——‘s outrageous behavior continues against a backdrop in which he is the leading candidate for president for the gop! It ain’t even close. That’s just barely scratching the surface of what’s going on here, never mind internationally. How do you keep up? I’ve got a few favorite news sources. They change from time to time. Right now, I’m keen on Meidas Touch. They are a network of commentators, mostly lawyers, which is quite useful. They stay focused largely on the t—— show, while being careful to bookend their comments by reporting what Biden is doing, as he navigates these challenging times.

This podcast, Daily Beans, the Fly Episode, 10.12.2023, sums up everything I tried to say, but better. Listen through minute 21. After that they have a segment called the Good News, which I sometimes/often skip, though it can be fun.

The Fly Episode [Daily Beans;10.12.23]
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Messy post, incoming.

Focus on the empty position of Speaker of the House in US Congress. The legislative body is leaderless, rudderless and unable to conduct any business at all until the situation is resolved. Today, the second vote on Jim Jordan for speaker :brick:
failed to elect him. muted yay
You might notice that the Democratic nominee, Hakeem Jeffries, earned the most votes but the sad truth is he can't be elected because the republicans are in the majority at the moment. As you can see from the table, every Dem voted for him.

I'm posting two viewpoints, below... one from Talking Points Memo, where Josh Marshall is convinced it's only a matter of time till Jordan is voted in. ugh
The other is from Robert Hubbell who publishes a daily newsletter. You have to scroll by the awful news of the attack on a hospital in Gaza to get to the part about the rudderless House of Congress. He includes other issues in this newsletter that are all worth a look.
I like Hubbell's description of Jim Jordan, here below:
The story is that 200 House Republicans were willing to vote for someone described by former Speaker John Boehner as a “legislative terrorist” and who is an election denier, coup-enabler, coward who refused to honor a subpoena from a committee of the House of Representatives that he now seeks to lead. Jordan is a miserable person and bully who does not belong in Congress, much less as the Speaker of the House. Shame on Republicans for giving Jordan 200 votes!

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose - Scenes from The Annals of Authoritarianism [TPM;10.17.23]

A day of tragedy. [Robert Hubbell;10.18.23]
7 October 2023 careened by without notice here. I’d like to just remind that was the day that Hamas crossed from Palestinian occupied Gaza into Israel. Here’s a NYTimes article that explains some of the details:

What We Know About the Hamas Attack and Israel’s Response [NYTimes;10.18.23]

I wanted to post a portion of this podcast, below, that speaks about the missile that landed on a hospital in Gaza. It speaks to the fog of war and the consequences of misinformation. Israel was blamed initially but, it seems that attribution was incorrect. Listen to this guy, Fred Wellman, a veteran of the Iraq war and later a public affairs officer in the Army, describe what he knows about the dangers of miscommunication. Start listening at minute 27:40.

Republican THREATS exposed by Democrat Deluzio after HUMILIATING Speaker Disaster [On Democracy w F P Wellman; 10.20.23]

Yeah. You have to go to the end to hear his comments on what happened at the hospital in Gaza.

This is not to say that the blockade on food, water, medicine imposed on Gaza by Israel is okay. Hopefully, essential humanitarian aid gets through in the quantities needed, right away.
the republican's disastrous speaker-of-the-house saga continues. jim jordan is toast, after he failed to secure the 217(?) votes needed, 3 separate times. Just today the gop managed to select another nominee: Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota.
Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the No. 3 House Republican, dropped his bid for speaker on Tuesday hours after securing his divided party’s nomination, after a swift backlash from the right, including former President Donald J. Trump, left his candidacy in shambles.
Emmer actually sounds reasonable! Read below. Everything except calling t---- and praising him! And look where that got him.
Some on the right opposed to Mr. Emmer cited his vote in favor of codifying federal protections for same-sex couples. Others railed against Mr. Emmer’s vote in favor of a stopgap spending bill put forward by Mr. McCarthy, the speaker at the time, to avert a government shutdown. Still others said he was insufficiently loyal to Mr. Trump, because he voted to certify the results of the 2020 election won by President Biden.

Mr. Emmer had attempted to mollify Mr. Trump by calling him over the weekend and praising him, according to the former president. But Mr. Trump made clear he had not been won over.

“I believe he has now learned his lesson, because he is saying that he is Pro-Trump all the way, but who can ever be sure?” Mr. Trump wrote. “Has he only changed because that’s what it takes to win? The Republican Party cannot take that chance, because that’s not where the America First Voters are. Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!”
The far-right don't like reasonable. Anything but.
The two quotes above come from the following article:
Emmer Drops Speaker Bid After Right-Wing Backlash [NYTimes;10.24.23]
Republicans were growing increasingly frustrated with the spectacle of their own chaos. Late Tuesday afternoon, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky suggested that the only way to bridge the party’s divisions was to get everyone drunk.

“I think they’re going to have to bring alcohol in there to solve this,” he said. “There’s some angry drunks that can fight it out. There’s some friendly drunks like me. But I don’t see this happening without alcohol.”
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the House of Representatives elected a new Speaker yesterday!!! Mike Johnson. Of Louisiana.

This opinion piece by Paul Krugman of the NYTimes paints a grim picture.

The G.O.P. Goes Full-on Extremist [NYTimes;10.26.23]

Here's another perspective on the new Speaker:

New GOP Speaker BLOWS IT in DISASTROUS Interview on Live TV [MeidasTouch-FredWellman;10.29.23]

Did you know that some Republican representatives in the House and members of their families received death threats when they didn't vote for Jim Jordan? A group of about 20 lawmakers voted against him. Each time a subsequent vote was taken, two more republicans joined the ranks of those opposed. I heard this adding on of members in opposition was a strategy to put an exclamation point on the displeasure with Jordan as speaker. Among other things, they criticized Jordan for being an election denier, i.e. refusing to certify Biden in 2020. Then, a few days later that rationale flew out the window as they voted unanimously to elect Mike Johnson as speaker, elevating someone who lacks experience to a position second in line to the presidency.

Republicans are facing death threats as the election for speaker gets mired in personal feuds [Associated Press; 10.20.23]
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WOW! Republicans TURN AGAINST Their Own Senator, TOTAL REVOLT on the Floor [Against All Enemies podcast; 11.3.23]

The podcast description says it better than I could:
Tommy Tuberville’s Republican colleagues in the Senate have lost their patience. With hundreds of military promotions still being blocked by the Alabama Senator, Joni Ernst, Lyndsey Graham and others took to the floor of the chamber to denounce their fellow Republican.
Finally!!!! All it took was a military officer having a heart attack, likely at least partly attributable to the stress of covering for 2 high-level positions. Tuberville has intentionally crippled the US military because he doesn’t like women in the military traveling across state lines for reproductive healthcare.

Here’s Fred Wellman, army veteran and host of ‘On Democracy’ podcast, also outraged about what tommy tuberville, gop senator from Alabama, is single-handedly doing to the military. Wellman ends by asking people to call their senators to ask them to change the rules so that one single person doesn’t have this kind of power. He makes a lot of important points. Have a listen.

FED-UP Veteran BURIES Top Republican, Chais ERUPTS on Senate Floor [On Democracy podcast;11.54.23]
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Starting off with an aside: I miss poppy, who started this thread. I love ‘political hodgepodge’, the catch all place.

Today, we start off with an episode from Freakonomics Radio, #565. Are Private Equity Firms Plundering the U.S. Economy?

Here’s the 🍏 link. Others can find it on their favorite platforms, I hope:

565. Are Private Equity Firms Plundering the U.S. Economy? [Freakonomics Radio;11.15.23]

I didn’t know what private equity firms were before I listened to this podcast. So, this was very interesting and well-explained, with some effort to account for both pros and cons.

I’d been meaning to link to that here but it was receding into the background of passing time until I read this interesting blogpost from Robert Reich, economist and professor and former economic advisor to a couple of presidents … not sure but I think Barack Obama and I suppose Bill Clinton. Maybe I shouldn’t mention that part of his resume! Anyway, here’s the link:

What Really Happened to the American Dream (Why American Capitalism is so rotten, Part 2) [robertreich.substack.com;12.1.23]

Pretty interesting 🤩 and not too long. I’ll have to go check out part 1. And it’s the beginning of a series that will go on for the next 8 weeks,
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