Posted: January 7, 2023 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: caturday | Tags: cat art, GOP Freedom Caucus, GOP Meltdown, House Judiciary Committee, House Rules Committee, Kevin McCarthy, Matt Gaetz, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama |
Illustration by ladimir Rumyantzev
After an insane week of Republican tantrums, Kevin McCarthy is finally Speaker of the House. But it doesn’t sound like he’ll have much control over his caucus. He seems to have given in to all of their demands in order to have a title with very little power. It was an embarrassing week for the Republican Party and for the country, capped by a scene in which Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida nearly came to blows.
Benjy Sarlin, Kadia Goba, and Shelby Talcott at Semaphor: Kevin McCarthy finally became Speaker of the House after one last shocking meltdown. Here’s how it all happened.
McCarthy and his allies confidently predicted he would be elected Speaker of the House Friday night after a breakthrough in negotiations earlier in the day that saw 15 holdouts abandon their opposition.
The expectation was a critical mass of remaining holdouts would switch sides or vote present to seal his inevitable election as speaker.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. earned wild applause when she voted “present” for the first time, helping lower the threshold for a McCarthy win — just as his team had hoped would happen.
Members did the same for Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, who had flown back from tending to his wife and newborn premature baby in order to attend the crucial vote, and Ken Buck, R-Colo., who had rushed back from Colorado after undergoing a medical procedure.
But four holdouts, including a freshman from Arizona, Eli Crane, voted for other candidates. Then, after deliberately skipping his initial vote, Gaetz waited to the end of the roll call to vote “present” — leaving McCarthy one vote short.
Pandemonium ensued. An enraged Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. had to be physically restrained as he charged to confront Gaetz with the C-SPAN cameras rolling.
Back to the Semaphor article:
Afterwards, a stunned Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who had just nominated McCarthy and was seen animatedly working Gaetz over during the vote, took to the podium to ask that the House be allowed to adjourn until Monday.
As members tried to get their bearings, President Trump placed quick calls ahead of the 15th ballot — just before midnight — to Reps. Andy Biggs, who had voted for Rep. Jim Jordan, and Gaetz, a source familiar with the situation told Semafor.
Another photo from earlier showed Marjorie Taylor Greene trying to reach a holdout after the failed vote, Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana with a phone call from a “DT” as Rosendale appeared to rebuff her.
In the next ballot, more holdouts voted “present” and McCarthy was finally elected to thunderous applause and deep sighs of relief, completing his long rise through leadership across three presidential administrations.
Cat in the evening on the bench with birds, Paul Kulsha2
I stayed up until the bitter end, but I nodded off a few times and somehow I missed the fight scene. What I saw was Matt Gaetz approaching McCarthy, after which McCarthy rushed to the voting table to change his vote to no on adjournment. McCarthy looked thrilled after he finally won the 15th vote, but what did he actually win?
Sahil Kapur at NBC News: How Kevin McCarthy got the votes for speaker — and why it could haunt him.
After four days of deadlock and embarrassing defeats not seen in a century, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy finally carved out a path to placate a faction of rebels and secure the job early Saturday, with promises that could come back to haunt him.
McCarthy flipped 14 of his holdouts and convinced the rest to stand down, securing election as the 53rd speaker of the House on the 15th ballot after overcoming a last-minute wrench that scuttled his best-laid plans on the previous ballot. In doing so, he made a series of concessions that weaken the power of his office and expand the clout of far-right members of the House Republican conference, which critics say could complicate his job of governing under a wafer-thin majority.
McCarthy and his allies sensed they were on the verge of a breakthrough on Thursday night after Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., and others tapped by the now-speaker met with a group of right-wing holdouts — including Reps. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Chip Roy of Texas and Byron Donalds of Florida. The mutiny was led by members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which is known for wielding raw power and having a high tolerance for chaos to force House GOP leaders to bend to their wishes.
McCarthy’s team presented them with a “framework” of House rules changes and other promises that would appease the group — and that ultimately prompted six House members to vote “present,” a crucial move that lowered the threshold for a majority and paved the way for him to succeed….
Perry, the Freedom Caucus chairman, said Friday he decided to vote for McCarthy after that framework was put on the table. But he also made clear his support for McCarthy was conditional on the terms of the deal holding up.
The concessions were mostly about the Rules Committee.
The Republican rules package released Friday includes those concessions. It will allow any one member to force a “motion to vacate” the speaker’s chair and overthrow McCarthy. It makes it harder for the House to raise spending, taxes and the debt limit. And Perry said the agreement includes “conservative representation” across the House, including by adding members of the right flank to key committees.
Perry and Roy declined to divulge details, but two sources with knowledge told NBC News that the Freedom Caucus was demanding three seats on the powerful Rules Committee, which controls the bills that make it to the House floor…
Illustration by Irina Zeniuk
The deal is poised to enhance the power of far-right Republicans, at the expense of moderates who want to advance legislation that can win the approval of a Democratic-controlled Senate and President Joe Biden. It could make McCarthy’s task of passing must-do bills like funding the government and lifting the debt ceiling much harder under a slim majority if a group of five Republicans can effectively force him out at any time.
Still, the more moderate or mainstream Republicans put up little resistance to the pact that party leaders agreed to, with some accepting it as the cost of doing business under narrow margins….
Democrats say the reported concessions will make the House ungovernable and cause crises.
“What we’re seeing is the incredibly shrinking speakership,” former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview Friday. “It is not a good thing for the House of Representatives. We are the people’s house. We have to negotiate with the Senate. We have to negotiate with the White House. And instead, we are diminishing the leadership role of the House.”
More details at the NBC link.
According to Kyle Cheney at Politico, McCarthy also has agreed to give unprecedented powers to Rep. Jim Jordan, who will be the chair of the Judiciary Committee: Proposed GOP select panel would be empowered to review ‘ongoing criminal investigations.’
A proposed subcommittee to investigate “weaponization” of the federal government — a key demand of House conservatives who delivered Speaker Kevin McCarthy the gavel — would be given sweeping investigatory powers that include explicit authority to review “ongoing criminal investigations.”
The language of the proposed “select subcommittee,” which would operate under the Judiciary Committee expected to be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also gives the panel power to access any information shared with the House Intelligence Committee. That panel typically receives the highest-level classified intelligence and briefings of any committee in Congress.
Both provisions appear to have been added during final negotiations between McCarthy and a band of hardline detractors that briefly denied him the speakership. An earlier version of the proposal made no mention of ongoing criminal investigations or the Intelligence Committee and limited the probe to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.
Illustration by Vladimir Rumyantzev
The panel’s expected formation comes as the Justice Department continues to arrest and prosecute hundreds of rioters charged with breaching the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and amid two ongoing criminal investigations connected to former President Donald Trump. Those include the probe of his effort to overturn the 2020 election and his decision to warehouse highly sensitive national security documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving office.
Both Trump-related probes are now overseen by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in November to manage the sensitive grand jury investigations
The subcommittee proposal would permit McCarthy to name 13 members to the panel, including five after consultation with Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries — a structure similar to the Jan. 6 select committee. Pelosi opted to reject two of McCarthy’s picks to that panel, prompting him to withdraw from any participation.
Unlike the Jan. 6 committee, however, the GOP-led probe would be housed under Jordan’s committee. Subpoenas issued by the panel would be authorized by Jordan.
That is just plain terrifying. So Jordan wants to be able to horn in on the investigations of Trump and other insurrectionists–which include Jim Jordan!
Asawin Suebsaeng and Tessa Stuart of Rolling Stone have a scoop on Matt Gaetz’s motive for opposing McCarthy: Sex Trafficking Row Helped Fuel Gaetz’s Hatred for McCarthy.
KEVIN MCCARTHY WAS well aware he was going to lose his bid to become Speaker of the House of Representatives on the first ballot, three people with knowledge of the situation told Rolling Stone. What he was not privately predicting was that the beatings would continue for an entire week. “He knew he was going to get fucked — he just didn’t know they were going to fuck him this many times, or this hard,” explained one congressional aide.
Among the major factors in McCarthy losing more than a dozen speakership ballots, people familiar with the matter say, was the severity of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s enmity toward the Republican leader. Gaetz’s intense and personal distaste for McCarthy has been an open secret in Washington political circles for years, so much so that Gaetz and McCarthy’s colleagues would argue it isn’t even a “secret” at all.
Illustration by Vladimir Rumyantzev
But Gaetz’s hatred curdled into something even more powerful after it was revealed in early 2021 that the MAGA congressman was the target of a federal investigation into the sex trafficking of a minor. (No charges were filed against Gaetz, but his “wingman” Joel Greenberg was sentenced to 11 years in prison.) McCarthy, in Gaetz’s opinion, failed to mount a forceful enough defense on his behalf. According to two sources familiar with the matter, Gaetz has been furious at McCarthy for the perceived lack of support ever since — despite the fact that McCarthy did not strip him of any committee assignments during the probe.
The enmity between the two Republicans spilled into open view on the floor of the House during the 14th vote Friday night that McCarthy had bragged would finally put him over the top to secure the speaker’s gavel. Gaetz placed himself at the center of the drama. He skipped his turn in the alphabetical role call vote, setting himself up to vote at the end of the proceeding. With McCarthy needing one more yes vote, Gaetz instead voted “present” — leaving McCarthy with 50 percent of the vote, a hair short of victory. McCarthy strode up to Gaetz on the House floor, and a the foes had a heated exchange that did not change the total. McCarthy again was left hanging. (Gaetz again voted “present” along with the other Never Kevin rebels in the 15th vote that finally gave McCarthy the gavel.)
The original source of Rep. Gaetz’s acute loathing of McCarthy is less clear. Rolling Stone contacted members of Congress, sources on Capitol Hill, and activists in conservative organizations to ask what the root cause was. They all just knew Gaetz hated the House GOP leader. One Republican who knows both Gaetz and McCarthy says they even once asked the latter why Gaetz dislikes him so much. This source recalls McCarthy answering: “I don’t know.”
McCarthy has the Speaker’s gavel now, but there may be more disagreements coming on Monday when the House votes on the rules package that McCarthy agreed to. There are reportedly some McCarthy supporters who aren’t going to support it.
More stories to check out today:
Associated Press: Police: 6-year-old shoots teacher in Virginia classroom.
The New York Times: Shootings Reported at Homes and Offices of 5 New Mexico Democrats.
Associated Press: US appeals court blocks ban on rapid-fire ‘bump stocks.’
NBC News: On Musk’s Twitter, users looking to sell and trade child sex abuse material are still easily found.
Raw Story: Ashli Babbitt’s mother arrested for blocking DC street on Capitol riot anniversary.
NBC News: Conservative leader Matt Schlapp is accused of fondling a male campaign staffer in Georgia.
The Daily Beast: Herschel Walker Staffer: Matt Schlapp ‘Groped’ My Crotch.
Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!!
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Posted: May 20, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Allen Weisselberg, Cyrus vance Jr., Donald Trump, January 6 commission, Jennifer Weisselberg, Letitia James, Matt Gaetz, Michael Cohen, Trump crime family, Trump Organization |
By Arne Kavli
We appear to be inching closer to the possibility that Trump and his minions could actually be prosecuted. It hasn’t happened yet, but news has broken over the past few days that suggests that real accountability could be coming for the Trump crime family.
Bill Chappelle, Andrea Bernstein, and Ilya Marritz at NPR: What We Know So Far About The Trump Organization Criminal Investigation.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating former President Donald Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, “in a criminal capacity,” her office says, ratcheting up scrutiny of Trump’s real estate transactions and other dealings.
The state attorney general is joining forces with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who has been conducting a separate criminal inquiry into Trump’s business practices and possible insurance or financial fraud as well as alleged hush money payments to two women who said they had affairs with Trump before he became president….
Dorothy Weir Young, “Seated Girl Reading Newspaper,” 1930
The new collaboration between the state and local offices is an unusual event in itself: In New York, the attorney general and the district attorney have historically been rivals. But in this case, they’re working together.
Two assistant attorneys general have now joined the district attorney’s team of prosecutors. They’re all trying to unravel troves of complicated information, including millions of pages of tax returns and other documents related to how the Trump Organization operates in the U.S. as well as its sprawling international enterprises.
With the shift in focus from James’ office, we now know that both of these prosecution teams are making a determined and coordinated effort to sift through evidence of possible crimes.
Read the whole article. It’s a good summary of where things stand right now. Here’s the latest breaking news on the investigations:
The New York Times: Top Trump Executive Under Criminal Investigation Over Taxes.
The New York attorney general’s office has been criminally investigating the chief financial officer of former President Donald J. Trump’s company for months over tax issues, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The office of the attorney general, Letitia James, notified the Trump Organization in a January letter that it had opened a criminal investigation related to the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, the people said. The investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave him, including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg’s grandchildren….
Auguste Macke, Woman reading
The focus on perks and Mr. Weisselberg overlaps with the Manhattan district attorney’s long-running criminal fraud investigation of Mr. Trump and his family business. The district attorney’s office has been investigating the extent to which Mr. Trump handed out fringe benefits to some of his executives, including Mr. Weisselberg, and whether taxes were paid on those perks, The New York Times previously reported.
In recent weeks, Ms. James’s office suggested to the company in a new letter that it had broadened the criminal investigation beyond the focus on Mr. Weisselberg, one of the people said. It was unclear how the inquiry had widened.
In general, fringe benefits — which can include cars, flights and club memberships — are taxable, though there are some exceptions. Companies are typically responsible for withholding such taxes from an employee’s paycheck….
In addition to the fringe benefits, Ms. James and the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., have examined whether Mr. Trump’s company inflated the value of his properties to obtain favorable loans and lowered the values to reduce taxes.
More details from CNN:
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Posted: May 15, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Donald Trump, January 6 commission, Joel Greenberg, Liz Cheney, Matt Gaetz, Megan Zalonka, Trump Hotel DC |
Intellectual Cat, Olena Kamenetska-Ostapchuk
I hope you are all having a nice weekend. It’s finally starting to feel more like Spring here in Greater Boston after weeks of unseasonably cool weather. It’s bright and sunny and in the 70s today and it looks like the good weather will continue into next week. We might even see some 80-degree days midweek.
It looks like we might be getting closer to a comeuppance for Trump and his merry band of conspiracy nuts. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much, but Democrats in the House have finally decided to try to set up an independent commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.
The Washington Post: House members announce bipartisan deal for Jan. 6 commission.
A group of House Democrats and Republicans announced Friday that they had struck a deal to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a significant breakthrough after months of partisan standoff over the mandate for such a panel — and whether it should exist at all.
Zombie’s Mother, by Katherine Goncharova
The proposed 10-member commission, which emulates the panel that investigated the causes and lessons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, would be vested with subpoena authority and charged with studying the events and run-up to Jan. 6 — with a focus on why an estimated 10,000 supporters of former president Donald Trump swarmed the Capitol grounds and, more important, what factors instigated about 800 of them to break inside. Trump’s critics in both political parties view it as a means to bring further public scrutiny to his role in inspiring the violence.
“There has been a growing consensus that the January 6th attack is of a complexity and national significance that what we need [is] an independent commission to investigate,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, announcing that he had reached agreement with the panel’s top Republican, Rep. John Katko (N.Y.). “The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol.”
Democrats also proposed a bill to increase security in the Capitol.
The bill puts over a half-billion dollars toward hardening the Capitol and congressional office buildings with movable fences, door and window reinforcements, and additional security cameras and checkpoints. It also dedicates $21.5 million to stepping up security details for members facing threats, whether in Washington, their home districts or traveling between the two — and $18 million to better train and equip the U.S. Capitol Police to respond to riot situations.
But the largest part of the hefty spending bill — nearly $700 million — is simply to pay money owed to the Capitol Police, D.C. police, the National Guard and other federal agencies for costs they incurred in responding to the riot and its aftermath. It also dedicates more than $200 million to the federal courts to address threats to judges and to meet various other costs related to prosecuting those charged in connection with the insurrection.
Both the spending bill and the commission legislation face unique challenges as proponents seek to build enough bipartisan support to get the measures through both chambers of Congress. Thus far, no Republicans have voiced support for the Democrats’ spending bill. And although the commission proposal is bipartisan, and is likely to have enough backing to clear the House when it comes to a vote next week, it is unclear how many Republicans will support it.
Liz Cheney, the ultraconservative who has become a fierce Trump critic, applauded the bill. Newsweek: Liz Cheney Welcomes January 6 Commission, Says Americans Need ‘The Truth.’
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has welcomed the prospect of a bipartisan commission to examine the violence of January 6, insisting Americans need to know “the truth” of what happened that day….
Still Life with Cats, by Max Beckmann
In a statement, Cheney said: “All members, especially House and Senate leaders, should support this effort and there should be no delay in passing this bill to find the facts and the truth about what happened on January 6th and the events leading up to it.
“In the aftermath of national crises, such as Pearl Harbor, the Kennedy assassination, or September 11th, our nation has established commissions so the American people know the truth and we can prevent these events from happening again. The same thing is needed for January 6th and this commission is an important step forward to answering those fundamental questions.”
More from Cheney at CNN: Cheney says some GOP members voted against impeachment out of fear for their lives.
Telling CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that there are “more members who believe in substance and policy and ideals than are willing to say so,” Cheney cited the impeachment vote earlier this year, in which she was one of only 10 House Republicans who voted to hold Trump accountable for the Capitol riot.
“If you look at the vote to impeach, for example, there were members who told me that they were afraid for their own security — afraid, in some instances, for their lives,” she said. “And that tells you something about where we are as a country, that members of Congress aren’t able to cast votes, or feel that they can’t, because of their own security.”
Hours earlier on Friday, New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, a vocal ally of the former President who has a less conservative voting record than Cheney, was elected House GOP conference chairwoman. The key difference between the two women is that Stefanik has supported Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election while Cheney has repeatedly rebutted them, leading House Republicans to complain that the Wyoming Republican is undermining the party’s message of promoting Trump’s brand of politics.
Cheney said her role as a member of Congress obligated her to oppose the widespread lie of fraud in the election and she believes that “we’ve had a collapse of truth in this country.”
“We’ve seen an evolution of, you know, a general situation where conspiracy theories are rampant, where good people in a lot of instances have been misled and believe things that are not true,” Cheney continued. “And so, I think that we all have an obligation to make sure we’re doing everything we can to convey the truth, to stand for the truth and to stand for the Constitution and our obligations.”
Three Cats, by Franz Marc
At Mother Jones, David Corn questions whether the bipartisan commission could fully uncover the truth: House Dems and Republicans Strike a Deal on a 1/6 Commission—But There’s One Big Catch.
On Friday morning, big news hit: Democrats and Republicans in the House had reached a compromise to set up a bipartisan, independent commission that would investigate the January 6 assault on the US Capitol. For weeks, GOPers had opposed a proposal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to establish such a body, complaining it permitted Democrats to appoint a majority of the commissioners. But last month, she pitched a new deal with equal representation. And under the agreement concocted by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, and Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the top Republican on the panel, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate would each get to appoint five members of the 10-person body, which will be modeled on the 9/11 commission. (The Dems will name the chair, the Republicans the vice chair.) Yet there is one big wrinkle: Though this commission will have the power to subpoena witnesses, subpoenas must be approved by either the chair and vice-chair or by a majority of the commissioners. That means the Republicans on the commission will have the power to block any subpoena.
It is not hard to envision numerous scenarios in which the commission—which would have to be approved by the Senate—could become immersed in conflict over the question of who to interview, what information to seek, and which witnesses to subpoena. After all, there is no way for the commission to do its job thoroughly without fully scrutinizing the actions of various Republicans, pro-Trump activists, the Trump White House, and former President Donald Trump himself. And if some of these potential subjects refuse to voluntarily cooperate with the commission’s investigators, the only recourse will be subpoenas. But will Republican-appointed commissioners okay subpoenas for GOP witnesses?
Corn offers a list of necessary witnesses, including Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudi Giuliani, Roger Stone, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. Would Republicans on the commission go along with subpoenaing those important witnesses? He conclues:
The public deserves a complete, no-holds-bar accounting of the January 6 tragedy. But there is no way for any commission to fully uncover and report the whole truth without questioning Republicans and past and present members of Trump’s inner circle. This attack was a Trump production, and some of the most important eyewitnesses of that day are prominent Republicans and Trumpers. Should a commission be established—and it’s no done-deal yet—will Republican commissioners actually allow their gumshoes to haul in these sorts of witnesses? If not, this exercise could end up being yet another GOP assault on American democracy.
The Matt Gaetz investigation seems to be heating up. Here’s the latest.
The New York Times: Former Gaetz Confidant Agrees to Plead Guilty and Cooperate.
Woman with Cat, Jose Manuel Merello, 1960
A former confidant of Representative Matt Gaetz admitted in court papers on Friday to an array of federal crimes, including sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl, and agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigations.
The plea deal by Joel Greenberg, the onetime associate of Mr. Gaetz who had served as a tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., north of Orlando, until he was indicted last year, provided prosecutors a potential key witness as they decide whether to charge Mr. Gaetz, the Florida Republican who is a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Gaetz is said to be under investigation over whether he violated sex trafficking laws by having sex with the same 17-year-old.
Mr. Greenberg did not implicate Mr. Gaetz by name in court papers filed by prosecutors in Federal District Court in Orlando. But Mr. Greenberg admitted that he “introduced the minor to other adult men, who engaged in commercial sex acts” with her, according to the documents, and that he was sometimes present. The others were not named.
Mr. Greenberg, who has been meeting with prosecutors for at least five months, has told investigators that Mr. Gaetz had sex with the girl and knew that she was being paid, according to a person briefed on the inquiry.
And from The Daily Beast: Rep. Matt Gaetz Snorted Cocaine With Escort Who Had ‘No Show’ Gov’t Job.
When Rep. Matt Gaetz attended a 2019 GOP fundraiser in Orlando, his date that night was someone he knew well: a paid escort and amateur Instagram model who led a cocaine-fueled party after the event, according to two witnesses.
The Florida congressman’s one-time wingman, Joel Greenberg, will identify that escort to investigators as one of more than 15 young women Gaetz paid for sex, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
By Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
But what distinguishes this woman, Megan Zalonka, is that she turned her relationship with Greenberg into a taxpayer-funded no-show job that earned her an estimated $7,000 to $17,500, according to three sources and corresponding government records obtained by The Daily Beast.
On Oct. 26, 2019, Gaetz attended the “Trump Defender Gala” fundraiser as the featured speaker at the Westgate Lake Resort in Orlando. Two witnesses present recalled friends reconvening at Gaetz’s hotel room for an after-party, where Zalonka prepared lines of cocaine on the bathroom counter. One of those witnesses distinctly remembers Zalonka pulling the drugs out of her makeup bag, rolling a bill of cash, and joining Gaetz in snorting the cocaine.
While The Daily Beast could not confirm that Gaetz and Zalonka had sex that night, two sources said the pair had an ongoing financial relationship in exchange for sex. “She was just one of the many pieces of arm candy he had,” said one source familiar with the encounters between Gaetz and Zalonka.
The congressman—who has declared that he “never paid for sex”—wrote off the stay at the hotel as a campaign expense, with his donors picking up the tab.
Yuck. I can’t believe Gaetz is still in Congress and on the House Judiciary Committee.
Finally, investigations that were blocked under Trump may be able to go forward. CNN reports on some possibilities: Biden administration gives House panel documents related to Trump hotel.
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Posted: April 12, 2021 | Author: dakinikat | Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Matt Gaetz, Racism, right wing extremism, Tucker Carlson, white supremacy |
Elaine de Kooning, Portrait of Fairfield Porter, 1954
Good Day Sky Dancers!
I hope you have the same kind of sunny spring weather there that we have here in New Orleans! I actually made a trip to Walmart yesterday! I can’t even remember the last time I’ve been there and it use to be at least a 2 or 3 trip a month destination for me being the poor old semiretired prof that I am.
I could tell that every one has spring fever around here by the number of obvious hipster transplants parading all over the neutral ground yesterday. I was rather hoping the herons would bomb them away but I just went to my room and took a nap hoping it would be over by the time I had to work on line. The demographics of my neighborhood these days disturbs me. Where did all this young white people come from and why do they keep bringing this burbie breeder vibe to my hood?
The Walmart in Chalmette is amazingly diverse because of the number of immigrant diasporas that have landed there. It’s still rather rural even though it feels more like an exurb in many ways . However, it’s more working to middle class that bougie rich. There are Somalians and folks from South America. There is still a Vietnamese presence although a good deal of that community lives in the east and on the Westbank. And, of course there are many Black Americans there that are descendants of the slaves of the now way gone Plantations as well as transplants from around the Caribbean.
So, it was great just watching the elderly, young families, and others pour into to do their weekly shopping like there was no pandemic. However, there were still adjustments. The benches by the front door are gone. The Walmart greeters are busy sanitizing the carts and pointing you to the hand sanitizers before you grab a cart. Then, you get a pretty good view of what a wide assortment of masks there are available these days. If you forget to bring one, Walmart gives you a disposable one.
Elaine de Kooning: Harold Rosenberg, Art Critic (1956)
So, I went with a friend and she was stuck in the checkout line. I got to stand for quite awhile where the benches used to be and watch the comings and goings. It was a pretty smooth operation until 3 white guys loaded themselves out of a big red pick up truck with this poor black dog on what could barely be called a leash. The two with the dog had masks on. The one with the weird razor cut and hitler moustache didn’t. I was like okay, here it comes.
At that point, white male boundary pushing and dominance achievement techniques began. The dog was just an emotional support dog so of course he should be allowed in to wander the grocery aisles. Said dog had no usual orange vest of either of a service or emotional support dog let alone the credential card. Guys started screaming at the poor woman saying no to the dog. Then the guy without the mask just started moving pass her to the station with the masks and a few more women who all eventually called for security back up. Fortunately, these women were not playing and were obviously experienced. Dog got sent to some one’s girlfriend for a walk in the parking lot and the mask guy eventually complied. I guess the beer run was more important than facing down all these middle aged women of various sizes, deportment, and race.
Meanwhile, every one else just tried to go about their day. All I could think was welcome to America where most of us are a community of folks just trying to live. Then, there are those guys come in and do their performance art of white male rage/fragility.
So, today’s artwork actually has something to say along these lines. This is the work of “Elaine de Kooning, Portraiture, and the Politics of Sexuality.” It comes from the University of Colorado, Boulder. It’s part of the gender archive and the portraits are of highly sexualized men.
De Kooning’s portraits of men are fascinating because she reverses the standard male artist/female model dynamic and in many of her portraits she captures the sexual power of her subjects, challenging the male privilege of looking and female role of object to be looked at. She was not, however, attempting to reverse the power dynamic by placing men in the western tradition of the passive reclining female pose, nor was she dismantling the anonymous male body by employing an Abstract Expressionist style. Rather she records her clothed male friends and lovers in an upright position with their legs spread apart, acknowledging and relishing her active role in depicting this socially accepted pose that asserts male sexual power, a pose that would not have been deemed appropriate for a “feminine” woman in the 1950s to highlight.
Robert de Niro by Elaine de Kooning (1973) (c)Elaine de Kooning Trust
There’s a lot of ‘those guys’ in the news today. So, here I go …
Adam Jentleson –Author of “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate”–wrote this at The Atlantic today: “How to Stop the Minority-Rule Doom Loop. The next two years might be the country’s last chance to protect the basic democratic principle of majority rule.” I think we can safely say that the Republican Party is the epicenter of White Male Dominance.
The doom loop consists of four interlocking components. Candidates who represent white conservatives—Republicans, in our ideologically sorted era—begin every election cycle buoyed by a sluice of voter suppression and gerrymandering (what I call electoral welfare), which makes it easier for them to win. Then antidemocratic features of the American system that have always existed but never benefited one party over the other in any systematic way help those same candidates take control of institutions such as the White House and the Senate, despite winning fewer votes and representing fewer people than their opponents. Once in control of these institutions, these newly elected officials use them to entrench their power beyond the reach of voters. If they are eventually voted out of power, they retain a veto over the agenda of the majority, which they use to block change and feed the conservative case that the government is “broken.” This hastens their return to power—along the very path they greased with voter suppression.
The loop starts at the ballot box, where Republicans are making it harder than at any time in recent history for those who are unlikely to vote for them to vote at all. According to Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida and one of the nation’s foremost experts on voting laws, “We are witnessing the greatest rollback of voting rights in this country since the Jim Crow era.” The Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder unleashed a new wave of voter suppression targeted at reliably Democratic constituencies such as nonwhite voters and young people. The pace of suppression has only increased since the November election. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks voter-suppression efforts across the country, 47 states have seen 361 bills aimed at restricting voting rights since the beginning of the year.
Republicans don’t just have an easier time winning elections; they have an easier time piecing together individual election wins to gain control of the institutions that govern American life. Here, too, the doom loop gives a big boost to candidates who represent predominantly white conservatives. Over the past half century, demographic shifts have rendered the antidemocratic features of American government newly vulnerable to exploitation, but especially by candidates who represent white conservatives.
Elaine de Kooning
Portrait of a Young Man
They’ve been on this path a very long time. At the very least, it started with the policies of Ronald Reagan with its racist signaling campaign opener of “welfare queens”. Here’s a 2013 NPR article “The Truth Behind The Lies Of The Original ‘Welfare Queen'” exploring Reagan’s earliest attempts at dog whistling following the Nixon era “Southern Strategy” to pull Dixiecrats into to the Republican fold. I watched it spread through the state parties in the midwest like wildfire mostly by the ground work of those weirdish white evangelical christian churches with no real affiliation, southern baptists churches, and some catholic parishes. They started showing up with marching orders to take over the party structure and just basically kept at it until coming full circle in the Trumpist regime.
This all goes hand in hand with the gun fetishists and the groups of armed militias sprinkled around the country. This is from today’s Washington Post: “The rise of domestic extremism in America Data shows a surge in homegrown attacks not seen in a quarter-century.
Domestic terrorism incidents have soared to new highs in the United States, driven chiefly by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim and anti-government extremists on the far right, according to a Washington Post analysis of data compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The surge reflects a growing threat from homegrown terrorism not seen in a quarter-century, with right-wing extremist attacks and plots greatly eclipsing those from the far left and causing more deaths, the analysis shows.
The number of all domestic terrorism incidents in the data peaked in 2020.
“What is most concerning is that the number of domestic terror plots and attacks are at the highest they have been in decades,” said Seth Jones, director of the database project at CSIS, a nonpartisan Washington-based nonprofit that specializes in national security issues. “It’s so important for Americans to understand the gravity of the threat before it gets worse.”
More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.
Victims of all incidents in recent years represent a broad cross-section of American society, including Blacks, Jews, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, Asians and other people of color who have been attacked by right-wing extremists wielding vehicles, guns, knives and fists.
Let’s also not forget the victims of domestic violence for they also are part of this increase in violence and search for control over others.
An absolutely horrifying police shooting of a young black man in Minneapolis happened showing just how out of hand the use of power and suppression is in the nation’s police force also. There was also an incident of pepper spraying a young black Army Lt. and his dog in Virginia. Both were responses to simple traffic stops. Both officers have been fired but this only brings into more focus the unequal treatment of the largely white male police force around the country and its inability to police without responding differently to people of color.
Pele No. 1,
Elaine de Kooning, 1982
Another blow was dealt to the likes of the “Hillbilly Elegy” narrative as we see in this Washington Post article written by Eugene Scott on “Data about the Capitol rioters serves another blow to the White, working-class Trump-supporter narrative” for The Fix.
After a Donald Trump campaign event in Mobile, Ala., in 2015 attracted about 20,000 attendees, a narrative emerged that his popularity centered on White working-class voters in small towns in red states. Books such as “Hillbilly Elegy” rose to the top of bestseller lists as a way to help more Americans understand this group of voters that got behind the wealthy reality star from Manhattan. And cable news networks regularly featured panels of journalists asking these voters why they continued to back such a widely unpopular leader.
But new data supports something that some critics of the former president were confident of from the earliest days of Trump’s presidential campaign: The Ivy League graduate from New York City got to the White House with the support of more college-educated professionals than is often acknowledged.
Robert A. Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, worked with court records to analyze the demographics and home county characteristics of the 377 Americans arrested or charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington aimed at overturning the 2020 election.
“What we know 90 days later is that the insurrection was the result of a large, diffuse and new kind of protest movement congealing in the United States,” the political science professor wrote in The Washington Post. “Those involved are, by and large, older and more professional than right-wing protesters we have surveyed in the past. They typically have no ties to existing right-wing groups. But like earlier protesters, they are 95 percent White and 85 percent male, and many live near and among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties.”
While Trump often spoke about jobs and factories being shipped overseas to manufacture American products — it wasn’t solely economic anxiety that drew many of his supporters to the wealthy real estate developer who allegedly avoided paying taxes that could benefit low-income Americans. It was cultural anxiety — regardless of their economic status — that was a consistent factor in support for Trump. While concerns about changing views on faith, gender and sexuality were often expressed by many of the former president’s most die-hard supporters, fear about America becoming less White — and less “great” — was at the root of at least some of the loyalty to him.
I don’t want to spend too much time on these two but both Tucker Carlson and Matt Gaetz are in the news again basically still trying to play their white male privilege cards as entitled little trustfund babies.
From CNN: Embattled Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is denied a meeting with Trump. Ah, poor little boy denied daddy time! I guess Trumperz thinks he’s damaged goods now and not an asset to the Family Crime Syndicate.
Elaine De Kooning-Portrait of Scott ,Chaskey,number-3, 1983
From Tom Porter at Insider: “Tucker Carlson is repeatedly using his platform to downplay white supremacy and violence, critics say“
In comments on his show last week Carlson appeared to endorse the white nationalist Great Replacement conspiracy theory, prompting outraged responses including a call from the Anti-Defamation League for him to be fired.
Before this Carlson had for weeks argued that the Capitol riot had been overblown by liberals as part of a plot to persecute conservatives, and he has said there is “no evidence that white supremacists were responsible for what happened on January 6.”
The facts say otherwise, with law-enforcement agencies having charged close to 60 members of far-right organizations, including the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and Proud Boys, with involvement. Rioters were pictured in the Capitol bearing Confederate banners, wearing far-right insignia, and chanting far-right slogans.
At the heart of Carlson’s persona is a challenge to those he portrays as smug liberal elites, who he claims have sought to disenfranchise ordinary Americans for decades. It’s a stance that made him one of the defining conservative voices during the Trump years.
But when applied to downplaying the threat of white nationalist violence, it’s a view that has imperiled lucrative advertisement deals on his show.
And as BB wrote yesterday, this is all from the Heir of Swanson Foods. That should be a boycott-worthy situation. We’re learning Georgia is sure getting it over voting rights as 100s of CEOs figure out what Voter Suppression Laws will do to their bottom line and the attitudes of their customers and workforce this week.
The Biden/Harris administration continues to churn out appointments and policies that seem quite normal while still facing total Republican opposition. Some of the usual sources are asking the same damn questions that shouldn’t be asked during this first 100 days. For example: “Can Biden Be Our F.D.R.? The president wants to change the trajectory of the country. He’s off to a good start by Jonathan Alter.” I’m more interested in seeing if he can succeed in redefining bipartisanship to cut off the tongues and tails of the right winger Republican pols. It’s evidently on the radar of Fox News so it must be working.
Anyway, I have to work today and grade today and do stuff around the house and I still can’t adjust to fake time so I’m running late again. Y’all take care!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Posted: April 10, 2021 | Author: bostonboomer | Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Alligators, Boston Public Garden, CDC, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19 vaccines, Donald Trump, Fox News, Matt Gaetz, Racism, Tucker Carlson, U.S. Marines, White supremacists |
Jean Metzinger, French, 1883-1956
Before I get to today’s news, here’s a little comic relief. This was in yesterday’s Boston Globe, but I can’t get past their rigid paywall. But I found the story at The Pest Control Daily: Boston Public Backyard used to have child alligators — sure, alligators — and other people fed them rodents. The “public backyard” is the Boston Public Garden, adjacent to the Boston Common. I had heard about cows grazing on the Common, but not about alligators in the Public Garden.
There are several newspaper articles from this period referring to the alligators who lived in a basin – or pond – near the entrance to Arlington Street amid a “magnificent” row of lilies. Reports vary, but for some time there were between three and four alligators on the site, strikingly complementing the many other exotic features of the public garden at the time.
A story in the September 19, 1901 issue of the Boston Post said three of the city’s alligators were given by “a Charlestown woman” who “became afraid of them and introduced them to the city of Boston.” The fourth alligator was given to the city by a man from Chelsea, though it’s just unclear why.
An article that appeared in an August 9, 1901 issue of the Boston Globe said the alligators – known as babies – belonged to William Doogue, the city’s superintendent for common and public reasons.
Doogue oversaw the public garden from 1878 to 1906, according to Friends of the Public Garden, a nonprofit advocating Boston Common, the public garden, and the nearby Commonwealth Avenue Mall and known for its exceptional green thumb….
The alligators have certainly rubbed some city dwellers the wrong way. But it wasn’t so much their presence that was annoying – people often huddled around the pool looking for them – it was how they were sometimes fed.
“Some objections to feeding live rats and mice to those in the public garden pond,” read the headline of the August Globe article.
The newspaper reported that in “warm weather” the alligators were put in the public garden and fed by park officials once a week….
“Live rats exposed to hungry alligators,” read a headline in the Boston Post on August 9, 1901. “The public garden exhibit attracts morbid interest from women and children.”
The article says, “The city doesn’t feed them in the summer … the city doesn’t have to” because “the alligators make their own living by entertaining the public”.
The story included an illustration of primitively dressed people gathered around a small pond-like structure and watched a man kneel to feed the alligators with the animals’ mouths wide open.
Apparently this was seen as a low-life activity. There is much more detail at the link about the feeding of the alligators. Apparently they were moved to the Franklin Park Zoo during the colder months, and their presence in the Boston Garden lasted for about 6 years.
White Supremacist News
Remember those neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us?” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was trending on Twitter all day yesterday after he parroted a white supremacist conspiracy theory that liberals are trying to replace white people with immigrants.
Fortunato Depero, Elasticità di gatti (1936–1939)
Media Matters: Tucker Carlson, the face of Fox News, just gave his full endorsement to the white nationalist conspiracy theory that has motivated mass shootings.
For decades, white nationalists have invoked the specter of nonwhite immigration, multiculturalism, and declining birthrates to argue for the existence of a vast conspiracy aimed at eliminating white populations as a dominant demographic. On Fox News, Tucker Carlson is distributing the language, grievances, goals, and inherent call to action of the conspiracy theory to massive audiences.
On the April 8 broadcast of Fox News Primetime, Carlson offered perhaps his most explicit justification yet for the core belief of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory: that a wave of “Third World” invaders is coming to replace you and reshape your environment, and that you, the audience, should do something about it.
The Fox News host claimed that “what’s true” is that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” and no one should “sit back and take that.”
More from Media Matters: White nationalists praise Tucker Carlson’s full embrace of their “replacement” conspiracy theory.
After the Anti-Defamation League called on Fox News to fire Carlson for his remarks, white supremacist and far-right personalities were quick to make their approval known.
White supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes explained what Carlson actually meant in his statements, lamenting that Carlson wasn’t more direct and theorizing that he probably had to dial it back in order to avoid consequences at Fox….
Other racist and extreme far-right media personalities and social media accounts also backed Carlson, celebrating him for broadcasting “what nationalists have been talking about for decades” and defending him against criticism.
Matt Gaetz Updates
The Washington Post: House opens ethics investigation into Florida Republican Matt Gaetz.
The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it would investigate claims that Rep. Matt Gaetz engaged in sexual misconduct and illicit drug use and showed images of naked women on the House floor, opening a new front in the growing scandal enveloping the Florida Republican.
Jean Metzinger, Still Life with Cat and Fish, 1950
Gaetz responded hours later with a defiant speech before a welcoming crowd at former president Donald Trump’s Miami-area hotel and golf club, dismissing the claims against him as an attempt by the political establishment to silence his political views.
“Let me assure you, I have not yet begun to fight for the country I love, and for the nation that I know benefits from America First principles,” he said to cheers at an event sponsored by Women for America First, a group that sponsored the rally at the White House Ellipse before the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere. The smears against me range from distortions of my personal life to wild — and I mean wild — conspiracy theories.”
The news of the investigation came a day after Gaetz’s friend, Joel Greenberg, who has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor among other offenses, signaled to a federal judge through his lawyer that he was negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors that could help them in an ongoing probe into whether Gaetz paid for sex or trafficked a woman across state lines for sex.
Click the link for more details.
Fred Grimm at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Scandal leaves Florida’s congressional provocateur with few friends.
His fellow congressional Republicans have risen as one to defend Matt Gaetz.
Oh, sorry. My bad. Make that two.
Jim Jordan of Ohio — Abbott to Gaetz’s Costello in their Capitol Hill clown act — came through for Matt. Sort of. After Gaetz denied allegations that he had been galivanting with escorts and even a 17-year-old girl, with allusions to orgies and illicit drug use, Jordan managed a four-word tweet: “I believe Matt Gaetz.” Which seemed an understated reaction from the likes of Jordan, whose usual outbursts have been unfettered by propriety, truth or the national interest.
You’d think the pugnacious Jim Jordan, of all people, would have come up with a more defiant defense of his fellow provocateur. But no.
Still life with cat and lobster, Pablo Picasso
Which left Marjorie Taylor Greene from Planet QAnon as his defender-in-chief. “Take it from me rumors and headlines don’t equal truth. I stand with @mattgaetz,” tweeted the Georgia congresswoman, a propagator of astounding untruths, slanders and conspiracy theories. Not sure that character references from the woman who suggested California wildfires had been ignited by Jewish space lasers can rehabilitate Gaetz’s mucky reputation.
Support was also slow coming from Mar-a-Lago, although Gaetz had been Donald Trump’s most outlandish congressional defender through two impeachments and an insurrection. Yet, the ex-president kept quiet in the week after The New York Times reported that the FBI has widened an investigation of former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg — who faces a slew of federal charges — to include his former best buddy and fellow philanderer. The Times said the FBI is looking into allegations that Greenberg and Gaetz arranged sexual trysts with paid escorts, including a 17-year girl. (Which Gaetz denies.)
It wasn’t until reports surfaced that, during Trump’s final days in office, Gaetz had sought a preemptive pardon for any federal charges that might come his way, that the ex-president finally said something. Not much, but something. His office issued a carefully worded, unTrumpian statement: “Congressman Matt Gaetz has never asked me for a pardon,” adding, like an afterthought, “It must also be remembered that he has totally denied the accusations against him.”
I just can’t get enough of Gaetzgate.
The Washington Post: Trump officials celebrated efforts to change CDC reports on coronavirus, emails show.
Trump appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services last year privately touted their efforts to block or alter scientists’ reports on the coronavirus to more closely align with President Donald Trump’s more optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to newly released documents from congressional investigators.
Still life with grey cat, Jean Metzinger
The documents provide further insight into how senior Trump officials approached last year’s explosion of coronavirus cases in the United States. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees was attempting to blunt the scientists’ messages, edit their findings and equip the president with an alternate set of talking points.
Science adviser Paul Alexander wrote to HHS public affairs chief Michael Caputo on Sept. 9, touting two examples of where he said officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had bowed to his pressure and changed language in their reports, according to an email obtained by the House’s select subcommittee on the coronavirus outbreak.
Pointing to one change — in which CDC leaders allegedly changed the opening sentence of a report about the spread of the virus among younger people after Alexander pressured them — Alexander wrote to Caputo, calling it a “small victory but a victory nonetheless and yippee!!!”
In the same email, Alexander touted another example of a change to a weekly report from the CDC that he said the agency made in response to his demands. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, or MMWRs, which offer public updates on scientists’ findings, had been considered sacrosanct for decades and untouchable by political appointees in the past.
Two days later, Alexander appealed to White House adviser Scott Atlas to help him dispute an upcoming CDC report on coronavirus-related deaths among young Americans.
“Can you help me craft an op-ed,” Alexander wrote to Atlas on Sept. 11, alleging the CDC report was “timed for the election” and an attempt to keep schools closed even as Trump pushed to reopen them.
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