Friday Reads: Trump Indicted in Stolen Documents Case

Good Afternoon!!

It’s finally happening. Last night Trump announced that he has been indicted in the stolen documents case. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the case has been assigned to Judge Aileen Cannon, remember her? She’s the MAGA judge who stalled the case for months by appointing a special master before she was finally humiliated by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Just breaking right now: Walt Nauta, the aide who moved boxes around at Mar-a-Lago has also been indicted in the documents case. Here’s what’s happening this morning.

Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: Donald Trump charged with illegal retention of classified documents.

Federal prosecutors have charged Donald Trump over his retention of national security documents and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them, according to multiple people familiar with the matter, a historic development that poses the most significant legal peril yet for the former president.

The exact nature of the indictment, filed in federal district court in Miami, is unclear because it remains under seal and the justice department had no immediate comment.

Trump confirmed the indictment on his Truth Social social media platform on Thursday afternoon, shortly after his lawyers received an email from prosecutors in the office of special counsel Jack Smith that outlined the charges and summoned the former president to surrender himself to authorities in Miami next Tuesday.

The charges listed in the summons included: wilful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document, corruptly concealing a document, concealing a document in a federal investigation, engaging in a scheme to conceal and false statements, people familiar with the matter said.

Trump’s lawyer Jim Trusty confirmed in an appearance on CNN that prosecutors had listed seven charges on the summons paper. Trusty said he had not seen a copy of the indictment but added he was hopeful that it might be unsealed before Trump makes his initial appearance in court.

Trump will be arraigned in Miami on Tuesday afternoon.

ABC News: Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, initially assigned to oversee his case: Sources.

The summons sent to former President Donald Trump and his legal team late Thursday indicates that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will be assigned to oversee his case, at least initially, according to sources briefed on the matter.

Cannon’s apparent assignment would add yet another unprecedented wrinkle to a case involving the first federal charges against a former president: Trump appointed Cannon to the federal bench in 2020, meaning that, if Trump is ultimately convicted, she would be responsible for determining the sentence – which may include prison time – for the man who elevated her to the role….

Cannon is no stranger to the case. The 42-year-old judge appointed a “special master” last year to review those materials seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Legal experts accused Cannon of handing Trump a series of head-scratching victories over the course of those proceedings….

In one instance, Cannon restricted the FBI from using the seized classified documents as part of their ongoing probe until she completed her review. Cannon’s order was ultimately thrown out in its entirety by an 11th Circuit Court of appeals panel, which found she overstepped in exercising her jurisdiction in the probe.

In addition to Cannon, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart’s name also appeared on the summons sent to Trump on Thursday, the sources said.

Reinhart, who was sworn in as a magistrate judge in 2018, is also familiar with the proceedings against Trump: he signed off on the initial search warrant of Mar-a-Lago last year and later ruled to unseal the search affidavit – decisions that made him the target of antisemitic jabs on the internet.

I assume that if Cannon doesn’t recuse herself, the DOJ will appeal to the 11th Circuit. Joyce Vance posted a thread about this on Twitter.

Read the rest on Twitter.

CNN: Trump aide Walt Nauta indicted in classified documents case.

An aide to former President Donald Trump has been indicted in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents from the Trump White House, two sources familiar with the indictment tell CNN.

Walt Nauta’s indictment is the second in the special counsel’s investigation after Trump was indicted on seven counts on Thursday.

An attorney for Nauta declined to comment. Nauta was with Trump at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club this week….

Trump responded to Nauta’s indictment on his social media Friday, writing, “They are trying to destroy his life, like the lives of so many others, hoping that he will say bad things about ‘Trump.’ He is strong, brave, and a Great Patriot. The FBI and DOJ are CORRUPT!”

Nauta’s involvement in the movement of boxes of classified material at Trump’s Florida resort had been a subject of scrutiny of investigators. Nauta, with the help of a maintenance worker at Mar-a-Lago, moved the boxes before the FBI executed a search warrant on the Palm Beach property last August.

Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan have the inside gossip on what happened when Trump got the news last night.

The New York Times: Inside Trump’s Club When the Call Came: You’re Indicted.

Former President Donald J. Trump was gathered with his core political advisers in the office near his poolside cottage at his club in Bedminster, N.J., when his phone rang around 7 p.m. on Thursday. On the line, according to two people with knowledge of the call, was one of his lawyers, informing him he had been indicted for the second time in less than three months….

Mr. Trump, always compartmentalizing, immediately moved to a political reaction.

At 7:21 p.m., he did what he used to do so often when he was president: He personally programmed the chyrons on every news channel in the country. He broke the news of his own indictment — drafting and then sending a three-part statement on his social media network, Truth Social, that soon interrupted the nighttime shows on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

The former president posted a screed against the Biden administration, but buried within his attacks on Democrats were pertinent details: not only that he had been indicted, but also that he had been summoned to appear at a Miami courthouse on Tuesday afternoon.

A studio van was brought to Bedminster so one of his lawyers could go on television. Another Trump lawyer, James Trusty, soon went on CNN to describe a few of the charges, and recounted his client’s reaction.

A bit more:

“He thought about it,” Mr. Trusty said. “He said: ‘This is just a sad day. I can’t believe I have been indicted.’” Mr. Trusty went on: “Those are kind of my — my summary words of what he had to say. But, at the same time, he immediately recognizes the historic nature of this. This is crossing the Rubicon.”

For days, Mr. Trump’s team had been casting about for information about his indictment, after three of his lawyers met with Justice Department officials on Monday. They entered that meeting having been told charges were likely, and nothing that was said changed that perspective, according to people close to Mr. Trump. But while they suspected an indictment was imminent, they were operating more off rumor, gossip and news reports than from verified facts.

As speculation intensified ahead of the Justice Department’s notification of the indictment, Mr. Trump’s team pretaped a video of the former president reacting to the expected charges in a speech direct to the camera — and standing in front of what appeared to be a version of a painting of President Theodore Roosevelt and Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany’s leader during World War I.

Half an hour after he announced his indictment, he posted the video on his social media website. In it, he bashes Democrats, portrays the indictment as evidence of “a nation in decline” and calls himself “an innocent man.”

Whatever. Just more Trump lies.

CNN has obtained more tapes of Trump talking about the stolen documents.

CNN reports:

Former President Donald Trump acknowledged on tape in a 2021 meeting that he had retained “secret” military information that he had not declassified, according to a transcript of the audio recording obtained by CNN.

“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” Trump says, according to the transcript.

CNN obtained the transcript of a portion of the meeting where Trump is discussing a classified Pentagon document about attacking Iran. In the audio recording, which CNN previously reported was obtained by prosecutors, Trump says that he did not declassify the document he’s referencing, according to the transcript.

Trump was indicted Thursday on seven counts in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the mishandling of classified documents. Details from the indictment have not been made public, so it unknown whether any of the seven counts refer to the recorded 2021 meeting. Still, the tape is significant because it shows that Trump had an understanding the records he had with him at Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House remained classified.

Publicly, Trump has claimed that all the documents he brought with him to his Florida residence are declassified, while he’s railed against the special counsel’s investigation as a political witch hunt attempting to interfere with his 2024 presidential campaign.

This seems to be more details from the recording CNN revealed last week.

Trump was complaining in the meeting about Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. The meeting occurred shortly after The New Yorker published a story by Susan Glasser detailing how, in the final days of Trump’s presidency, Milley instructed the Joint Chiefs to ensure Trump issued no illegal orders and that he be informed if there was any concern.

“Well, with Milley – uh, let me see that, I’ll show you an example. He said that I wanted to attack Iran. Isn’t that amazing? I have a big pile of papers, this thing just came up. Look. This was him,” Trump says, according to the transcript. “They presented me this – this is off the record, but – they presented me this. This was him. This was the Defense Department and him. We looked at some. This was him. This wasn’t done by me, this was him.”

Trump continues: “All sorts of stuff – pages long, look. Wait a minute, let’s see here. I just found, isn’t that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information. Look, look at this.”

Apparently he was going through some of those boxes he brought with him from Mar-a-Lago.

I expect there will be more news breaking today and over the weekend. Take care everyone and enjoy the schadenfreude!

Totally Thursday Reads: Karma’s at Bat and Hits Home Runs

You can have your cake and eat it too. #IndictmentDay #WhichWitchHunt #DingDong John (repeat1968) Buss @repeat1968

Good Day, Sky Dancers!

I get to go to the doctor tomorrow, so BB and I traded days again.  Your eyes are not deceiving you! But, wow, did I get a Newsday today. I can’t see what’s going on in the news in the lowest hell realm, but they are celebrating a new denizen.

The New York Times obit for Payable to Pat Robertson is pretty disappointing. It not only displays its typical bothersiderism but acts like everyone loved him but us grumpy feminists and the GLBT community.

Let’s face it.  The man was walking evil.  I’m happier he’s gone than I was when Phyllis Schafly found her karmic spot in Avīci. There are actually 28 Naraka–hell realms–in Buddhist mythology. None of them are permanent, but then none of them are pleasant either.

Robertson’s run for president basically turned the Republican party into a place where culture war crusaders were welcomed and, dare I say, groomed for candidacy at all levels of government. He also was one of those who got everyone’s granny to give away her bank account by promising all kinds of things.  Count me among his detractors.

Witchhunts!  Witchcraft! WitchyWomen!  Oh My!  And the happiest tag of them all #IndictmentWatch!

Two UK newspapers have been on top of the news from yesterday. First, a Grand Jury in Florida is examing charges of espionage and obstruction.  This is from the Independent. “Prosecutors ready to ask for Trump indictment on obstruction and Espionage Act charges.” Andrew Feinberg has this excellent bit of reporting. Additionally, it mentions casually that President Biden “laughs off” pardoning Orange Caligula.

The Department of Justice is preparing to ask a Washington, DC grand jury to indict former president Donald Trump for violating the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice as soon as Thursday, adding further weight to the legal baggage facing Mr Trump as he campaigns for his party’s nomination in next year’s presidential election.

The Independent has learned that prosecutors are ready to ask grand jurors to approve an indictment against Mr Trump for violating a portion of the US criminal code known as Section 793, which prohibits “gathering, transmitting or losing” any “information respecting the national defence”.

The use of Section 793, which does not make reference to classified information, is understood to be a strategic decision by prosecutors that has been made to short-circuit Mr Trump’s ability to claim that he used his authority as president to declassify documents he removed from the White House and kept at his Palm Beach, Florida property long after his term expired on 20 January 2021.

That section of US criminal law is written in a way that could encompass Mr Trump’s conduct even if he was authorised to possess the information as president because it states that anyone who “lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document …relating to the national defence,” and “willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it” can be punished by as many as 10 years in prison.

It is understood that prosecutors intend to ask grand jurors to vote on the indictment on Thursday, but that vote could be delayed as much as a week until the next meeting of the grand jury to allow for a complete presentation of evidence, or to allow investigators to gather more evidence for presentation if necessary.

This looks to be a bit of brilliant lawyering. They know Trump will drag things out, and they know he always has arguments that do that.  This approach cuts off a lot of legal shenanigans and appeal opportunities. This is also the case with the selection of a Florida venue. They’re going for the quick kill.  This is Hugo Lowell’s offering from The Guardian.“Trump’s lawyers told he is target in Mar-a-Lago documents investigation.”  And there was much rejoicing in the streets!  Lowell appeared on MSNBC with Ari Melber yesterday evening, and wow, did he have the goods!

Federal prosecutors formally informed Donald Trump’s lawyers last week that the former president is a target of the criminal investigation examining his retention of national security materials at his Mar-a-Lago resort and obstruction of justice, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The move – the clearest sign yet that Trump is on course to be indicted – dramatically raises the stakes for Trump, as the investigation nears its conclusion after taking evidence before a grand jury in Washington and a previously unknown grand jury in Florida.

Trump’s lawyers were sent a “target letter” days before they met on Monday with the special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the Mar-a-Lago documents case, and the senior career official in the deputy attorney general’s office, where they asked prosecutors not to charge the former president.

Trump has reportedly said he had not been personally informed by the justice department that he was a target when asked directly by a New York Times reporter, but demurred when asked whether his legal team had been told about the designation.

The development comes as prosecutors have obtained evidence of criminal conduct occurring at Mar-a-Lago and decided that any indictments should be charged in the southern district of Florida, where the resort is located, rather than in Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.

To that end, prosecutors last month started issuing subpoenas to multiple Trump aides that compelled them to testify before a new grand jury in Florida, impaneled around the time that the grand jury in Washington stopped taking new evidence, the Guardian previously reported.

It’s nice to see Fleet Street give both the New York Times and the Washington Post a comeuppance.  Their reporters are more like insiders than journalists on a beat.  More from Andrew Feinberg.

Let’s repeat this together. The Independent has learned that prosecutors are prepared to ask grand jurors to vote on charges as early as Thursday.”  #IndictmentWatch.

A separate grand jury that is meeting in Florida has also been hearing evidence in the documents investigation. That grand jury was empaneled in part to overcome legal issues posed by the fact that some of the crimes allegedly committed by Mr Trump took place in that jurisdiction, not in Washington. Under federal law, prosecutors must bring charges against federal defendants in the jurisdiction where the crimes took place.

Even if grand jurors vote to return an indictment against the ex-president this week, it is likely that those charges would remain sealed until both the Washington and Florida grand juries complete their work.

Another source familiar with the matter has said Mr Trump’s team was recently informed that he is a “target” of the Justice Department probe, which began in early 2022 after National Archives and Records Administration officials discovered more than 100 documents bearing classification markings in a set of 15 boxes of Trump administration records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, the century-old mansion turned private beach club where Mr Trump maintains his primary residence and post-presidential office.

Over the course of the last year, grand jurors have heard testimony from numerous associates of the ex-president, including nearly every employee of Mar-a-Lago, former administration officials who worked in Mr Trump’s post-presidential office and for his political operation, and former high-ranking administration officials such as his final White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

Up next on the January 6th DOJ investigation is a subpoena for Steve Bannon.  We are going to get subpoenas on some MAGArat congress critters next, and hopefully, Ginnie Thomas.  I don’t know if there’s enough popcorn on the planet to carry us through the next few weeks.  It’s going to be a glorious Independence Day at this rate!

SCOTUS actually just did something surprising today on a day when everything has not been surprising but long overdue!  This is from NBC News,  “Supreme Court backs landmark voting rights law, strikes down Alabama congressional map. The justices threw out Republican-drawn congressional districts that a lower court said discriminated against Black voters.”   Lawerence Hurley has the lede. Please say this also pertains to the Gret State of Lousyana too!

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama that civil rights activists say discriminated against Black voters in a surprise reaffirmation of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

The court in a 5-4 vote ruled against Alabama, meaning the map of the seven congressional districts, which heavily favors Republicans, will now be redrawn. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, both conservatives, joined the court’s three liberals in the majority.

In doing so, the court — which has a 6-3 conservative majority — turned away the state’s effort to make it harder to remedy concerns raised by civil rights advocates that the power of Black voters in states like Alabama is being diluted by dividing voters into districts where white voters dominate.

In the ruling, Roberts, writing for the majority, said a lower court had correctly concluded that the congressional map violated the voting rights law.

In 2013, Roberts authored a ruling that gutted a separate, important provision of the Voting Rights Act and has long argued that various government efforts to address historic racial discrimination are problematic and may exacerbate the situation.

He wrote in Thursday’s ruling that there are genuine fears that the Voting Rights Act “may impermissibly elevate race in the allocation of political power” and that the Alabama ruling “does not diminish or disregard those concerns.”

The court instead “simply holds that a faithful application of our precedents and a fair reading of the record before us do not bear them out here,” Roberts added.

As such, the court left open future challenges to the law, with Kavanaugh writing in a separate opinion that his vote did not rule out challenges to Section 2 based on whether there is a time at which the 1965 law’s authorization of the consideration of race in redistricting is no longer justified.

Civil rights groups and their supporters, including the Biden administration, reveled in a largely unexpected victory.

I’m already in need of a 7th Inning Stretch!

Alright! Let’s get this post published and take it down the thread!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Wednesday Cartoons: Inclusiveness

Good morning…before we get to the cartoons, there is a story out of Florida that is getting some attention. It regards the murder of Ajike “AJ” Owens. Some of the links are from instagram so please be sure to go and read them:

This is the latest Year in Hate report from the Southern Poverty Law Center:

The latest from tRump world:

Now the cartoons from Cagle website:

Have a safe day today…this is an open thread.

An update…Susan Lorincz has been arrested in the fatal shooting of AJ Owens.

Tuesday Reads

Good Day, Sky Dancers!!

Today I want to highlight two important days in our country’s history. Today is the 79th anniversary of D-Day, and yesterday was the 55th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

D-Day, June 6, 1944

From PBS News Hour: Here are some key facts about D-Day ahead of the 79th anniversary of the World War II invasion.

Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Of those, 73,000 were from the United States, 83,000 from Britain and Canada. Forces from several other countries were also involved, including French troops fighting with Gen. Charles de Gaulle against the Nazi occupation.

They faced around 50,000 German forces.

More than 2 million Allied soldiers, sailors, pilots, medics and other people from a dozen countries were involved in the overall Operation Overlord, the battle to wrest western France from Nazi control that started on D-Day….

The sea landings started at 6:30 a.m. local time, just after dawn, targeting five code-named beaches, one after the other: Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword, Juno.

The operation also included actions inland, including overnight parachute landings on strategic German sites and U.S. Army Rangers scaling cliffs to take out German gun positions.

Around 11,000 Allied aircraft, 7,000 ships and boats, and thousands of other vehicles were involved in the invasion….

A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day itself, including 2,501 Americans. More than 5,000 were wounded.

In the ensuing Battle of Normandy, 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wounded. The battle — and especially Allied bombings of French villages and cities — killed around 20,000 French civilians.

The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, June 5, 1968

From NPR: Robert Kennedy was killed 55 years ago. How should he be remembered?

Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, in a ballroom in the ornate Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, a packed crowd watched charismatic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy give a victory speech after winning the California primary.

Almost five years after his older brother John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Robert Kennedy was making his own run for the White House. America was divided over the Civil Rights Movement and the war in Vietnam.

The New York senator was gaining momentum to potentially secure the Democratic nomination. But that night — 55 years ago today — was the last time he would address the public….

As Kennedy walked off stage at the Ambassador Hotel through a pack of eager reporters, the crowd chanted his name.

“We want Bobby,” they cheered.

Kennedy shook hands with supporters and exited the ballroom through the kitchen. Then, the crowd heard what witnesses would later describe as the sound of firecrackers. A gunman fired a .22 caliber revolver, hitting Kennedy and injuring five others.

Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson — one of Kennedy’s friends who worked on his campaign — wrestled the gunman to the ground and tried to disarm him….

Kennedy died the next day. He was 42. His widow, Ethel, was pregnant with their 11th child….

Mourners lined up before dawn outside New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral for Kennedy’s funeral mass. Inside the church, Sen. Ted Kennedy delivered the eulogy.

“As he said many times in many parts of this nation: Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ ” Kennedy said. “I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’ “

Read more about Kennedy’s 1968 campaign at the NPR link.

Of course, that was not the only assassination in 1968. The Rev. Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4th. A highlight of Robert Kennedy’s campaign was the speech he gave in Indianapolis after informing the audience of King’s death.

At Esquire, Charles Pierce writes about that misbegotten year, 1968: It’s Been 55 Years Since This Country Lost RFK. In the litany of lousy American years, 1968 is right up there.

Every five years, we drag ourselves through a year of melancholy anniversaries. For some reason, we tend to account for these things in five-year increments, like college reunion cycles. And, in the litany of lousy American years, 1968 is right up there with 1860-1865, 1929, and 1941. And the sad and mournful commemorations are not limited to this country, or even to this side of the Atlantic. It was 55 ago this May that Paris erupted in riots and a nationwide wildcat strike. It was 55 years ago this August 20th that the Warsaw Pact tanks rolled into Prague to crush the promise of the Prague Spring.

Over here, the 55th anniversaries of that misbegotten year began in January, with the 55th anniversary of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, in which the American public got a good look at the lies it had been fed about that war for years. It would be the deadliest year for the U.S, military of the entire conflict and, 55 years ago this past March, elements of the 20th and 23rd U.S, Infantry marched into Quang Ngai province toward the hamlet of My Lai.

As the opposition to the war exploded, President Lyndon Johnson’s political support began to disintegrate. In January. Senator Eugene McCarthy ran him a close race in the New Hampshire Democratic primary and shook up all political expectations for that fall’s presidential election. And then, 55 years ago this past March 16, Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced his campaign for president. Two weeks later, Johnson dropped out.

Kennedy’s campaign may have peaked 55 years ago this April 4. He was in Indianapolis. In Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. stepped out onto a motel balcony into a soft spring evening and a sniper shot him in the face. It was a crime almost unthinkable, but, sadly, not unanticipated. Kennedy got word of the murder on his way to a rally in a largely black section of Indianapolis. It would be up to him to deliver the news to his supporters already gathered there, most of whom had not yet heard it. Kennedy got up on the back of a truck and delivered one of the most remarkable spontaneous political speeches in the country’s history. He ended his address by summoning the year’s dark angels.

“We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder. But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land. Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

Read the rest at the Esquire link.

Today’s News

Miami Herald: Texas sheriff recommends criminal charges in DeSantis’ migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard.

Los Angeles Times: Newsom threatens DeSantis with kidnapping charges after migrants flown to Sacramento.

Newsweek: Republicans Urge Immigrants to Stay in Florida, Fearing New Law’s Impact.

CNN: Exclusive: Mar-a-Lago pool flood raises suspicions among prosecutors in Trump classified documents case.

The New York Times: Trump Lawyers Visit Justice Dept. as Classified Documents Inquiry Nears End.

Raw Story: ‘Green light’: Legal expert suggests Jack Smith has been given the go-ahead to indict Trump.

The Washington Post: Russia and Ukraine trade blame for destruction of Kakhovka dam, power plant.

The New York Times: Robert Kennedy Jr., With Musk, Pushes Right-Wing Ideas and Misinformation.

Rolling Stone: RFK Jr. Blames Anti-Depressants for School Shootings.

The Washington Post: FBI had reviewed, closed inquiry into Biden claims at center of Hill fight.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!! This is an open thread.

Mostly Monday Reads: Republican Culture Wars and Greed threaten democracy

@Repeat1968 has high expectations for the Foghorn/Leghorn performance artist in the Senate from the Gret State of Lousyana. Oh, wait!

Good Day, Sky Dancers!

Wow!  The Monday news streams show just how out of whack things have gotten.  Corruption and Theocratic Fascism are just out-of-control at all levels of government.   Today’s corruption story goes right to the heart of my expertise and that of my youngest daughter, who works the derivatives market daily for an investment company.  Not many knew that an obscure pipeline in Virginia was at the heart of the recent Budget/Debt negotiations. It came out of the blue for just about everyone but insiders to the deal itself.

This is from Forbes.  Somebody knew something when no one else did and went long on the stock of Equitrans Midstream Corp. This is probably a company that anyone that doesn’t closely follow the oil and gas industry would’ve never heard about. “Debt-ceiling deal wildly profitable for mystery trader, raising suspicions of insider trading.” 

On Wall Street, analysts had mostly expected vague promises on energy permits to be included in a bill to raise the US debt ceiling. Yet, options trading suggests something bigger may have been in the offing.

On May 24 — several days before an agreement was announced — a huge bullish bet was made on Equitrans Midstream Corp., data compiled by Bloomberg show. The company is deeply involved in the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline. The wager involved snapping up 100,000 call options on the firm’s stock.

It proved prescient and wildly profitable within just a few days.

On May 27, White House and Republican lawmakers reached a deal that would give the long-delayed Mountain Valley Pipeline the final approvals needed to complete the project.

Throughout April and much of May, negotiators from the White House and Congress went back and forth on broad-stroke parameters of an agreement. Almost until the very end, the details were closely held and in flux. Doubts lingered over whether a deal would be reached before the US was scheduled to run out of money in early June.

The legislation, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Saturday, forced action on permits for the project. On paper, the bet appears to have earned $7.5 million through Friday. It has some asking whether more than skill and luck played a role.

“My questions are: Who’s the trader? How sophisticated are they? And what are their connections to the government?” said Donald Sherman, chief counsel at the ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He added the bet raises the specter of whether the parameters of the debt deal had somehow leaked out ahead of time.

Digging into whether a trade is improperly based on confidential information is notoriously difficult, especially when it involves market-moving news from inside the government. The rules are also rife with gray areas and ambiguities.

Officials, including members of Congress, are barred from trading on confidential information they learned in their position. But if, for example, someone overhears a Congressional staffer loudly mention a piece of information on the train, they’re likely in the clear.

There’s just so much weirdness going on in Republican-led legislation that really interferes with the civil liberties of the entire country that it’s hard to know where to start.  This shocking article is from Tessa Stuart, writing for The Rolling Stone. “The Real Reason Republicans Want to Give Tax Breaks for Embryos. “Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to “clarify” the state’s 1849 abortion ban in a bid to make the wildly unpopular and anachronistic law palatable to modern voters.”  What about all the frozen embryos stored in deep freeze?

REPUBLICANS IN THE Wisconsin legislature introduced a package of bills this week to “clarify” the state’s abortion ban, 174 years after it became law. The 1849 ban, which criminalizes abortion  in every circumstance, except to save the pregnant person’s life, went back into effect last June after 50 years of obsolescence.

It’s a deeply unpopular law: By margins of 2 to 1, voters said it should be repealed in every single county where the question was on the ballot this April. (In a statewide judicial election held the same day, the pro-choice candidate — who, it is widely assumed, will vote to strike the ban down when it is challenged at the state Supreme Court next term — won by 11 points.)

But Republicans in Wisconsin can’t seem to grasp this obvious truth. Rather than repeal the 1849 ban, as Democrats have proposed, a group of GOP lawmakers — led by 32-year old Sen. Romaine Quinn — touted a total of four bills they hope will make the pre-Civil War law more palatable to modern Wisconsinites. Included in the package is an offer that has become trendy among antiabortion ideologues: tax breaks for embryos.

LRB-2486 would allow parents to claim an exemption on their tax returns for “unborn children for whom a fetal heartbeat has been detected.” Co-sponsor Rep. Donna Rozar made the proposal’s intent crystal clear: The bill, she said, “recognizes an unborn child as a distinct human being prior to birth by allowing the child to be claimed as a dependent.” The point isn’t to support Wisconsin families — the point is to change the definition of when life begins as part of an effort to enshrine in Wisconsin law the dangerous and dehumanizing concept of “fetal personhood.”

It’s all part of an effort to extend Constitutional rights to fertilized eggs — a legal theory that simultaneously revokes the rights of the individuals carrying those pregnancies.

Wisconsin Republicans aren’t the first to try this: Georgia’s Department of Revenue announced in August “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” could be claimed as a dependent on state tax returns. The representative behind Georgia’s LIFE Act, which created the tax break, later admitted in a leaked video that the credit was all part of a gambit to get the Supreme Court to recognize fetal personhood: “We’re going to take this to the highest court in the land.”

The consequences of a ruling recognizing fetal personhood are difficult to overstate: The moment that an embryo is recognized as a person with rights, virtually any behavior that poses any kind of risk to a pregnancy can be criminalized or litigated. In one infamous case, an Alabama woman was charged with manslaughter for losing her pregnancy after she was shot in the stomach by another person. (That case was dismissed after a public outcry.) In another instance, a court allowed a woman who was hit by a car while seven months pregnant to be sued by her future child for negligence because she failed to use “a designated crosswalk.”

Wisconsin Republicans apparently think bodily autonomy comes pretty cheap: the credit they’re offering is $1,000. That’s one-third of the tax break you can get in Georgia, in case you’re comparison shopping dystopian hellscapes.

Also included in the package of bills is $1 million in funding for crisis pregnancy centers, $5 million in funding to support state adoption programs, and language to clarify that the 1849 ban does not apply to “a medical procedure or treatment designed or intended to prevent the death of a pregnant woman.” Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an OB-GYN who stopped practicing in Wisconsin when the ban went into effect and a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the law, says the new language would do little to alleviate the burden on healthcare providers.

“Imagine if you had chest pain, and you went to the emergency department, and your doctors said, ‘Yes, I know exactly what to do to take care of you, but the Wisconsin legislature has enacted some laws that could potentially put me in jail for doing the things that I know to be medically correct, let me call a lawyer before I take care of you,’” Lyerly says. “Now replace ‘chest pain’ with ‘vaginal bleeding.’ It is exactly the same thing. Our legislature is preventing doctors from taking care of Wisconsinites, from providing evidence-based, appropriate, standard-of-care medicine, and threatening to throw us in jail.”

It remains unclear if the new proposal has sufficient support to advance through both houses of the Wisconsin legislature. A previous proposal, floated in March, that would have added exceptions for rape and incest to the 1849 law failed to advance to a vote on the Senate floor. (“Discussion on this specific proposal is unnecessary,” Republican Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said at the time.) But there is reason to believe this proposal might be viewed differently: The most prominent anti abortion groups in the state — Wisconsin Family Action, Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life and the Catholic Conference — all of whom opposed the rape and incest exceptions, have announced support for the package.

If Republicans in Wisconsin truly wanted to support mothers, there is an existing proposal they could throw their weight behind: a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers for up to one year. Today, Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states that kicks new moms off of public health care coverage just 60 days after giving birth. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has repeatedly pushed for a 12-month extension — a proposal that was rejected by Republicans in the legislature twice before. But expansion is particularly critical in Wisconsin now that the 1849 law is back in effect: Multiple studies have shown that the rate of maternal mortality spikes in states with abortion bans.

“More moms die in the postpartum period than when they’re pregnant or during the time of delivery. The postpartum period is a really important time for moms to be able to get medical care,” Lyerly says. Republican lawmakers, Lyerly says, “are not making logical decisions. All of the decisions that they are making are so political and so divisive — and not in the best interests of Wisconsinites and Wisconsin families.”

Ron DeSantis is so unlikeable and failing with the press so badly, that his wife, Casey, is stepping in to make him more human.  We should have a vote-off.  Who is more lizard-like Ted Cruz or Ron? Rumor has it that Casey sees herself as Jackie O.  I wish I could stop right there, but it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t jump down that rabbit hole.  This is from The Daily Beast as opined by Katie Baker.  “Casey DeSantis Is the Walmart Melania. She’d better hope that pleather is pudding-proof.”

The First Lady of Florida showed up on the campaign trail in Iowa this weekend wearing a ghastly black leather jacket—American flag on front, an alligator and the silhouette of her state on the back, with the sneering words, “Where Woke Goes to Die”—that brought to mind nothing so much as the racks of a Red State big-bin store where it would be retailing for $24.99.

To be fair, Casey DeSantis wore the bomber to a charity biker rally and I’m sure the campaign intended it to be a viral moment, like Melania Trump’s infamous “I Really Don’t Care” coat that the former First Lady donned to check out the border crisis.

The message on Melania’s coat, like the one-time model herself, was sphinxlike. Was it a sign to the outside that Melania dreamed of escaping her boorish husband, the stuff of a thousand Resistance Twitter fever memes? Was it the physical manifestation of the Trumps’ casual cruelty? After all, Melania was flying down to where the administration locked up little kids in cages and tore them from the arms of their desperate parents. Did it mean nothing at all, like her spox insisted—maybe like Melania herself, a cipher whose eyes seem to betray an inner emptiness, like the infinite refraction of mirrored light off of all those gold-plated Trump Tower bathroom fixtures?

By contrast, Casey DeSantis’ coat is just like her husband Ron DeSantis’ campaign: Crude. Grasping. Saying the ugly part out loud. Whereas Trump would wink-wink at the fascists—who can forget his dog whistle to the “very fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville—DeSantis wants to peel off Trump’s base by being even more explicit about who he intends to target. You can see it right there on his wife’s jacket: DeSantis’ Florida is where the woke go to die—and a lot of other people die as well.

Florida under DeSantis has had one of the highest COVID death rates in the nation, even as he’s exulted in his anti-mask policies. And as the governor whips up anti-LGBT sentiment and bans books on race, Casey’s jacket and its message of death also bring to mind the horrific Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, not to mention the state’s shameful history of Jim Crow-era lynch mobs and the Rosewood massacre. But of course, DeSantis and his cronies want to prevent kids from learning about any of that by censoring their library books and AP curricula.

The jacket, then, is a warning: Watch out, America.

It’s hard to say one is reading too much into a coat that’s so explicit—and anyways, as The New York Timesnoted in a fawning profile, Casey DeSantis is definitely trying to make a political statement with what she wears, with her aspirations of “Camelot-meets-Mar-a-Lago.” But while Casey may be trying to position herself after Jackie Kennedy (good luck) and even Melania, if this weekend is any indication, she’s falling far short. It doesn’t matter how many times she wears that ice-blue Badgley Mischka cape-dress. The DeSantis’ will never be Camelot. Jackie and JFK symbolized the opposite of vulgar pettiness—they embodied youth, energy, a commitment to moral progress in the struggle for Civil Rights, a country fresh with idealism. Not an America that was obsessed with banning books about male seahorses and rainbows, or nuking the latest Disney movie.

We could also poll to see which media outlet wreaks bothersiderism all over its pages and the screen. It’s a tie between Jack Tapper’s fact-free zone interview with Nikki Haley and the New York Times’s surreal coverage.  Both will give you the icks.  Mark Jacobs, former editor of the Chicago Sun-Times characterized it thusly.

The New York Times gives Nikki Haley an embarrassing smooch today for her “reasoned manner”even though Haley blamed trans athletes for causing teen girls’ suicidal thoughts, an outrageous and fact-free accusation. 1/3

Suicide rates of teen girls and bi and gay children are high beyond the pale and should not be minimized or used for political fodder.  This is from a February article in the New York Times discussing the real statistics. “Teen Girls Report Record Levels of Sadness, C.D.C. Finds.  Adolescent girls reported high rates of sadness, suicidal thoughts, and sexual violence, as did teenagers who identified as gay or bisexual.”

Nearly three in five teenage girls felt persistent sadness in 2021, double the rate of boys, and one in three girls seriously considered attempting suicide, according to data released on Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings, based on surveys given to teenagers across the country, also showed high levels of violence, depression and suicidal thoughts among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. More than one in five of these students reported attempting suicide in the year before the survey, the agency found.

The rates of sadness are the highest reported in a decade, reflecting a long-brewing national tragedy only made worse by the isolation and stress of the pandemic.

I think there’s really no question what this data is telling us,” said Dr. Kathleen Ethier, head of the C.D.C.’s adolescent and school health program. “Young people are telling us that they are in crisis.”

But about 57 percent of girls and 69 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual teenagers reported feeling sadness every day for at least two weeks during the previous year. And 14 percent of girls, up from 12 percent in 2011, said they had been forced to have sex at some point in their lives, as did 20 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual adolescents.

“When we’re looking at experiences of violence, girls are experiencing almost every type of violence more than boys,” said Dr. Ethier of the C.D.C. Researchers should be studying not only the increase in reports of violence, she said, but its causes: “We need to talk about what’s happening with teenage boys that might be leading them to perpetrate sexual violence.”

The researchers also analyzed the data by race and ethnicity, finding that Black and Hispanic students were more likely to report skipping school because of concerns about violence. White students, however, were more likely to report experiencing sexual violence.

And this is the last sentence in this article. “The 2021 survey asked about students’ sexual orientation but did not ask about their gender identity, so data on risk factors for transgender students is not available.”

Haley also weasel-worded her way through drastic abortion restrictions.  This observation is from Digby.

I want to emphasize what my Ob/Gyn Dr. Daughter repeatedly tells me.  There is no such thing as abortion after the point of viability.  It’s a delivery. Successful or unsuccessful delivery depends on all kinds of factors.   Haley obviously should be fact-checked, and I find none of this even slightly reasonable.  So, I’ll just give the Bronx Cheer to  Jack Tapper for not ‘veering into fact check-in’ and the New York Times’s Trip Gabriel for finding anything she said ‘reasonable’.

The Tennesee anti-choice law took the fertility of one woman last week.  “Tennessee mother forced to undergo emergency hysterectomy after being denied life-saving abortion.  Mayron Hollis was desperate to have a life-saving abortion. But due to Tennessee’s abortion laws, doctors feared they would end up in prison if they carried out the procedure”  This is from The Guardian. 

Tennessee woman has been left infertile after being forced to undergo an emergency hysterectomy when doctors refused her an abortion.

Mayron Hollis, 32, learned she was pregnant soon after giving birth to her first daughter Zoe in February last year.

But her excitement at becoming a mother again soon turned into a battle for survival when she said she was denied a medically necessary abortion by doctors in the state after Roe vs Wade was overturned.

According to ProPublica, obsetricians at Vanderbilt University Medical Center grew concerned last August when she was eleven weeks pregnant after the embryo became implanted in scar tissue from the birth of her first child by caesarean section.

They feared that the ectopic pregnancy could rupture her uterus at any moment, which could lead to excessive bleeding and even death, according to the National Institute of Health.

But on the day of her treatment, 24 August last year, Tennessee was hours away from enacting one of the strictest abortion bans in the country, which would see any doctor who terminated a pregnancy imprisoned for up to 15 years.

The trigger ban automatically went into effect after women’s federally protected abortion rights were overturned by the Supreme Court last June.

Ms Hollis told ABC News that doctors did not explain to her prior to 24 August that she only had a narrow window to receive the life-saving abortion.

A lack of clarity from the state lawmakers who passed the bill meant that doctors, institutions and even criminal attorneys were unsure if the abortion might end up in a prosecution, ProPublica reported.

We’ve found a lot of Democratic candidates that don’t seem to fit their party affiliation recently.  They generally get a lot of attention from Republicans, and that’s your first warning.  Tech Weirdos Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk have jumped on the RFK jr campaign bus. Seems they all love Bitcoin and hate vaccines. It’s a weird news day when I keep having to quote from Fortune.  Here’s one from The Daily Beast too.

Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey has endorsed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for president, posting video of a Fox News segment with anchor Harris Faulkner from last week in which the 2024 candidate said he could beat the top contenders in the race. The videoshows Kennedy claiming that internal polling reveals that he is “stronger against both the Republican candidates than Joe Biden.” It was reposted on Twitter by Dorsey with the comment: “He can and will.” When questioned by a Twitter user if Dorsey was endorsing or simply predicting the Democrat’s win, Dorsey replied, “Both.” He claimed RFK Jr.s voice—Kennedy has a lifelong neurological disorder called spasmodic dysphonia that affects the voice and speech—was his “super power and set him apart.” Dorsey agreed with another Twitter user that the Democratic National Committee “would never allow” RFK Jr. to win the nomination but argued: “True but they seem to be more irrelevant by the day,” while adding “all the more reason” to back him as candidate. Kennedy is set to appear in a Twitter Spaces chat Monday with Elon Musk. Dorsey replied at the time of Musk’s invitation: “This would be great.”

I’m not sure how much I can take of this. But this is some expected news.  No profit-seeking corporation wants to be associated with the trash Elon Musk keeps bringing to the Twitter Party.   Again, from the New York Times. “Twitter’s U.S. Ad Sales Plunge 59% as Woes Continue .”

Twitter’s ad sales staff is concerned that advertisers may be spooked by a rise in hate speech and pornography on the social network, as well as more ads featuring online gambling and marijuana products, the people said. The company has forecast that its U.S. ad revenue this month will be down at least 56 percent each week compared with a year ago, according to one internal document.

I just find it extremely hard to use now.  It also freezes continually. It’s basically gone back to AOL 1990s style.

Well, today, I will celebrate Pride Month with virtual Mike Pence.  I’ll also spend time wondering how I managed to fit both my daughters into one blog post. I will mention I worry seriously about the U.S.A. my two granddaughters will inherit from us.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?