December 6, 2021 / by 

 

Three Things: A Three-Ring Circus

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Under the enormous canvas tent of the United States, come see the mightiest extant amusement organization, superior in character, regal in appointment, magnificent in conception, omnipotent in strength, with hundreds of witnesses, a plethora of attorneys and paralegals, the promise of the wild beast-like Chansley, multiple frustrated judges…

And one orange-tinted slack-bottomed kack-handed clown unseen off the stage entantrumed in the wings.

Ladies, Gentlemen, and those of pronouns without and within, welcome to the American circus.

I can’t even begin to imagine what all of this looks like from abroad.

~ 3 ~

Arguments just wrapped up in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit regarding former president Trump’s claim of executive privilege over testimony and materials subpoenaed by the House January 6 Committee. Twitter threads covering the hearing’s progress:

For BuzzFeed:


For DailyKos:

Stream the audio of the arguments on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/DcMnkpZOpxo

I have to admit this hearing is making me grit my teeth. No one is above the law; the executive’s job is to execute what Congress legislates, and Congress cannot do its job effectively without oversight of the executive’s work when its work product is not related to classified national security issues. There’s zero executive privilege for testimony and materials related to campaigning if performed in and by the White House.

~ 2 ~

Convicted shaman insurrectionist perp Jacob Chansley filed an appeal today.

Good luck with that, buddy. What a waste of a lengthy mea culpa in court.

Chansley wasn’t the only lower level perp on the agenda today — check Scott MacFarlane’s Twitter feed for more including another perp charged and another arraigned today.

~ 1 ~

Washington Post published an article today about Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who until now has completely resisted compliance with a House January 6 Committee subpoena. Here’s the timeline of related events:

September 23, 2021 — House January 6 Committee issued a subpoena to Meadows;
October 7, 2021 — Due date for records subpoenaed;
October 15, 2021 — Deposition deadline;
November 11, 2021 — White House Deputy Counsel sent a letter to Meadow’s attorney advising that President Biden would not exert executive privilege over any testimony or records the House January 6 Committee subpoenaed;
November 11, 2021 — U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit blocked handover of National Archives’ presidential records responsive to a January 6 committee’s subpoena;
November 12, 2021 — Meadow’s attorney issued a statement which said Meadows would not cooperate with the committee until after the legality of the subpoenas was settled in court;
November 30, 2021 — See Thing 3 above, Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit hearing today regarding subpoena of testimony and records over which Trump claims executive privilege.

Hed and subhed of WaPo’s article today:

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows cooperating with Jan. 6 committee
Meadows has provided records to the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and will give a deposition.

“Cooperating” is rather broadly used. Committee chair Bennie Thompson issued a statement today about Meadows:

“Mr. Meadows has been engaging with the Select Committee through his attorney. He has produced records to the committee and will soon appear for an initial deposition. The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive. The committee will continue to assess his degree of compliance with our subpoena after the deposition.”

“has been engaging” isn’t the same as cooperating; an “initial” deposition doesn’t mean anything until Meadows has actually answered questions put to him without prevarication.

As Marcy tweeted, “Meadows could invoke a bunch of things and avoid testifying and avoid contempt that way.

Betting this “cooperating” is a stall tactic which won’t end until the Department of Justice indicts Meadows for contempt of Congress as they did Steve Bannon.

But perhaps there will be more than two charges if Meadows “has been engaging” in a little light obstruction.

Sure hope for his own sake Meadows turned information related to his phone records.

~ 0 ~

What other hearing(s) did I miss? Share in comments.


Burners, Burning: The Heat’s Turned up on Mark Meadows [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Updates appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Well, well, well. According to Hunter Walker in a fresh report at Rolling Stone, Kremer the Younger bought burner phones to use when communicating with key persons attached to the White House.

In the thread attached to my last post, a community member commented about the Kremers saying,

… Only if they knew Trump’s plans, the Kremers might be guilty of conspiracy. …

They didn’t need to know Trump’s plans, though. They only needed to understand part of one or more of the conspiracies and then take some action to further that conspiracy.

Like this:

… Kylie Kremer, a top official in the “March for Trump” group that helped plan the Ellipse rally, directed an aide to pick up three burner phones days before Jan. 6, according to three sources who were involved in the event. One of the sources, a member of the “March for Trump” team, says Kremer insisted the phones be purchased using cash and described this as being “of the utmost importance.”

The three sources said Kylie Kremer took one of the phones and used it to communicate with top White House and Trump campaign officials, including Eric Trump, the president’s second-oldest son, who leads the family’s real-estate business; Lara Trump, Eric’s wife and a former senior Trump campaign consultant; Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff; and Katrina Pierson, a Trump surrogate and campaign consultant. …

Sending someone who isn’t a Kremer to buy a burner phone with cash to evade tracing suggests Kylie Kremer knew exactly what the role of her organization, Women to Save America First, was within the framework of the insurrection.

If this was a legitimate effort to work with the Trump campaign using dedicated communications for easier access, why the skulkery of a third person using cash buying a burner? Why not use a dedicated VoIP number to contact a communications person in the Trump campaign?

Or a no-contract phone purchased with a credit card? Or an additional number added to an existing cell phone contract?

Why was Meadows involved in any way given his role as the Chief of Staff, which should have been wholly separate from any campaign-related effort?

Whether Meadows interacted with Kremers or other members of the conspiracy as COS (a Hatch Act violation) or as a campaign member (not shielded as executive acts), he’s thoroughly shot through any claim to immunity or privilege.

The existence of burner phones used to contact persons in the White House certainly expands the import of this graf from the House January 6 Committee’s letter to Meadow’s attorney after Meadows’ refused to comply with the committee’s subpoena:

… In addition, Mr. Meadows has not produced even a single document in response to the Select Committee’s subpoena. Although you previously indicated that your firm was searching records that Mr. Meadows provided to you, more than enough time has passed for you to complete your review. Please immediately inform the Select Committee whether Mr. Meadows has any records responsive to the subpoena. Your search for responsive records should include (but not be limited to) any text messages, emails, or application-based messages associated with the cellular phone numbers and private email address the Select Committee has identified. If Mr. Meadows has records that you believe are protected by some form of privilege, you must provide the Select Committee a log describing each such record and the basis for the privilege asserted. …

Emphasis mine. Were any burner phones among those cellular phone numbers requested? Has geo-fencing been used to narrow down where those phones were during the lead up to and on January 6?

We don’t know yet. I suspect we’ll find out more in the not too distant future.

The purchase of the burner phones, though, look like an overt act to advance a conspiracy (18 USC 371).

Sure hope both of the Kremers as well as the aide who was asked to buy the burners, the third team member who received a burner phone, and Meadows all realize this is only getting worse for them.

Same for the Trump family members Eric and Lara who must be getting a little itchy after Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen resurfaced.

Especially for Meadows if he continues to blow off Congress with his refusal to comply with the January 6 Committee’s subpoena; it won’t be just contempt of Congress (two counts under 2 USC 192) with which he may be charged and prosecuted.

Hello, 18 USC 1505 otherwise known as Obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, and committees.

Perhaps with a domestic terror enhancement?

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:45 A.M. 25-NOV-2021 —

LOL Really? Eric’s going to try to SLAPP suit people in small outlets who don’t report the burner phones Kylie Kremer asked an aide to purchase may have been used to call him and Lara?

I love the smell of discovery in the morning!!


Mark, Mark, Mark!: No Wonder Meadows Balked at House Subpoena

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

This isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I couldn’t help think of this dubstep mix by Massachusetts artist ZMcD titled Mark Mark Mark.

It popped into my head while reading Hunter Walker’s latest piece in Rolling Stone, Leaked Texts: Jan. 6 Organizers Say They Were ‘Following POTUS’ Lead’.

Apparently there are text messages from the rally organizers Amy Kremer, Women For America First’s chair, and Kylie Jane Kremer, WAF’s executive director, which are incriminating:

… Two sources who were involved in planning the Ellipse rally previously told Rolling Stone they had extensive interactions with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The text messages provide a deeper understanding of what that cooperation entailed, including an in-person meeting at the White House. Rally organizers also described working with Trump’s team to announce the event, promote it, and grant access to VIP guests. A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment on the record. …

Oh Mark, Mark, Mark!

No wonder he’s dragging his butt submitting to the House January 6 Committee’s subpoena.

… Two days later, Kremer texted some of the organizers to let them know she was temporarily getting off the bus to travel to Washington for a White House meeting.

“For those of you that weren’t aware, I have jumped off the tour for the night and am headed to DC. I have a mtg at the WH tomorrow afternoon and then will be back tomorrow night,” wrote Kremer. “Rest well. I’ll make sure the President knows about the tour tomorrow!”

The message describing Kremer’s White House meeting is one of several where she and Kylie, indicated they were in communication with Trump’s team. …

Kremer sent that text on November 30, 2020 about a December 1 meeting at the White House.

Six weeks later Kremer would be ordering appetizers and dinner at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel while insurrectionists continued to riot inside the Capitol Building. Mark Meadows will likely know this if he was copied in a group message sent by March to Save America/Women for America First rally organizers.

No wonder the committee and the House hasn’t yet voted to hold Meadows in contempt, sending him a tautly worded letter when he refused to comply.

This is Meadow’s chance to save his behind by looking into immunity because these text messages can’t shed a good light on him.

Perhaps he should call former Nixon White House counsel John Dean about this (what a pity he can’t call Jeb Stuart Magruder who like Dean was granted limited immunity for his cooperation during the Watergate investigation).

No matter whether he calls Dean or not, I sure hope Meadows has lawyered up.

And I sure hope he’s thought good and hard whether that slack-bottomed chronic golf cheat is worth his time and effort.

I certainly wouldn’t put faith in the support of the Kremers, as text messages indicate one of them got sloshed the evening of January 6, locked herself in a bathroom and then begged to be rescued in the early morning January 7.


Three Things: Ugly Goes Clean to the Bone [UPDATE-1]

[NB: As always, check the byline. Updates will appear at the bottom. Thanks. /~Rayne]

Friday we got badly wanted news; we wanted it badly enough we didn’t blink at its arrival in the late Friday afternoon news dump zone.

But it wasn’t enough. It was only the start, a mere teaser.

~ 3 ~

At 3:53 p.m. last Friday, the Department of Justice tweeted the indictment news:

The internet was paying attention:

…even if Steve Bannon hadn’t been.

Rather hubristic to carry on as if he didn’t expect to be indicted, but then many of us were beginning to think it would never happen.

Bannon is supposed to surrender himself today, which may be a bit of a circus since Bannon now has a new attorney, David Schoen. Schoen was one of Trump’s impeachment attorneys in 2020.

~ 2 ~

The well-meaning sages who insisted things were under control — it was a good sign it was taking nearly a month to indict Bannon, don’t be like deplorables, blah-blah-blah — all had their say.

But which is it?

These things just need more time because DOJ must be cautious?

Or these things just needed this one person who wasn’t approved as DC-US Attorney until October 28 and sworn in more than a week later on November 5 to do the thing — which, by the way, took one week from oath to indictment?

Because it sure looks like the entirety of the House January 6 committee’s ability to wield its inherent powers on intransigent witnesses was completely dependent on the absence/presence of a single Biden appointee which some jerk like Sen. Ted Cruz could have held up the way he is currently holding our foreign policy hostage with holds on State Department nominees.

Are we supposed to accept with a pat on our heads that our democracy yet again depended on one person’s role?

If the DC-US Attorney were to become incapacitated at any time when the January 6 committee refers a contempt charge to DOJ, are we supposed to accept the platitudes “this takes time” or “don’t be a deplorable” when nothing happens?

What kind of government continuity is this?

~ 1 ~

Which brings us to the problem of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who received communications both Thursday and Friday from the chair of the January 6 committee about his lack of response to a subpoena issued by the committee on September 23.

Using false or misleading claims, Meadows had attempted to spur the DOJ to investigate election fraud claims including a bizarre theory that unknown persons located in Italy used military technology and satellites to remotely switch votes from Trump to Biden. These claims were sent to then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen between December and January — after the 2020 election but before the January 6 insurrection.

Meadows was supposed to appear before the committee on October 15 to answer questions about these claims and his role in pushing them toward the DOJ, a week after he was supposed to have furnished documents requested by the committee in relation to these false election fraud claims.

The committee’s chair sent a letter last Thursday to Meadow’s attorney:

And on Friday the committee emphasized it’s going to use the tools available to it to obtain compliance with the subpoena — or else.


Meadow’s attorney sent a massively ballsy op-ed to the Washington Post as a rebuttal to the committee’s subpoena:

Opinion: In abandoning executive privilege, Biden rejects 200 years of history

George J. Terwilliger III is a partner at McGuireWoods LLP in Washington and previously served as deputy attorney general.

As counsel for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, I was surprised and disappointed to receive a letter Thursday informing me that the Biden administration will be the first in history not to resist a congressional subpoena for testimony from a senior White House aide. …

WaPo treated this like any other conservative’s op-ed; no caveat this op-ed may be tampering with an investigation.

Rather interesting how Terwilliger was able to get a 789-word op-ed published at 3:30 p.m. on the same day the January 6 committee issued its letter. This isn’t the first time Terwilliger has opined in WaPo about someone involved in the January 6 insurrection though Terwilliger’s last op-ed was a defense of former AG Bill Barr’s interference in Roger Stone’s sentencing. Can’t have the GOP’s senior ratfucker excessively punished during an election season after all.

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean didn’t think much of Terwilliger’s op-ed:


I think I’d put my money behind Dean as to which of these two attorneys has a better grasp on the limits of executive privilege.

But it gets worse for Meadows since the soon-to-be-released book about the January 6 insurrection by reporter Jonathan Karl revealed yet another memo outlining steps to effect the autogolpe overthrowing the election.

Meadows had forwarded by email to then-VP Mike Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short a memo prepared by attorney Jennifer Ellis outlining the steps Pence needed to take to avoid certifying the election for Biden until a new alternate slate of electors for Trump could be introduced from just enough states to flip the election to Trump.

A rather pathetic carrot offered to Pence with the stick to follow on the day of the insurrection — a threat of violence and possible assassination by mob because Pence didn’t take the memo as a White House-approved order.

Looks like the number of questions Meadows must now answer has grown even longer.

~ 0 ~

The title of this post comes from an aphorism attributed to a favorite writer, Dorothy Parker: “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” Meadows may be more physically attractive and better dressed than Bannon but they’re both deeply ugly people who represent an existential threat to American democracy.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 10:00 P.M. ET —

Yeesh.

For a guy who was simply asked to appear before a House committee to answer some questions about what happened leading up to and on the day of January 6, this guy sure wants his audience to believe he’s being uniquely singled out for harassment by a president who both believes in the equal but separate powers inherent to each branch of government, and who believes the DOJ should be independent of the White House. Perhaps Bannon’s projecting since he was just fine with Trump’s DOJ acting like his personal police force.

Bannon could have just shown up, told the committee on a question by question basis, “I can’t answer that because my lawyer said it’s under executive privilege as Trump has claimed,” and simply gone about his day, coming off cool and collected like someone with nothing to hide.

But no, Bannon has to make a big scene because it’s a grift for more money; you know when he said “Stand by,” he will likely elaborate soon saying, “Stand by, because I’m going to ask you for help soon,” and then he’ll point to a link for donations for his legal fund.

Wow, he doesn’t even need to claim he’s building a border wall this time.


Minority Report: Botheration Benefits Bannon

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

At the risk of annoying the rest of Team Emptywheel — especially our resident attorney and in part because I’m not a lawyer myself — let me offer a minority report and note we have a serious problem.

You’ll recall one-time Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to then-President Trump Steve Bannon refused to answer a subpoena issued by the House January 6 committee.

You’ll also recall that the House then debated and voted on a charge of contempt of Congress.

The House then referred the charge once passed to the Department of Justice.

Many Americans are disappointed that Bannon is still out walking around as if U.S. laws don’t apply to him. It doesn’t help matters that Trump pardoned Bannon for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering, a pardon which has the appearance that it may have been intended as payback and as advance compensation for helping to organize the January 6 insurrection.

And now those Americans are even more disappointed that Bannon has now blown off Congress without any repercussions so far. It’s not obvious to the public why it takes so long to bring the scruffy bucket of excess shirtage, whiskers, and pudge to answer their representatives’ questions.

Bannon is thumbing his nose at the American people and they know it.

~ ~ ~

Persons who’ve worked in federal law enforcement insist the Department of Justice is working on this and the rule of law simply takes time, chiding us not to be like those people, implying behavior like the “deplorables” who chant “Lock him up!”

Except the American people have seen justice work too rapidly and unfairly for those who aren’t privileged. They expect a reasonable effort to effect justice speedily; justice delayed is justice denied. The tick-tock has been annoyingly like water torture — drip, drip, drip wearing on stone:

July 1 — Six months after the insurrection the House January 6 committee was approved and formed.

September 23 — It took two and a half months to subpoena Bannon who had been an advocate if not an organizer for the rally on January 5 and 6.

October 8 — President Biden refused to exert executive privilege over documents requested from the National Archives by the committee.

October 8 — Bannon was supposed to testify October 14 but his lawyer communicated on October 8 to the committee Bannon would not comply with the subpoena because former president Trump exerted a claim of executive privilege.

October 14 — Bannon does not report to the House committee.

October 19 — The committee began the process to hold Bannon in criminal contempt on the date Bannon was supposed to testify; the committee voted unanimously on October 19 to hold Bannon in contempt.

October 21 — Congress approved the charge on October 21 so that the charge could be referred to the Department of Justice.

October 25 — President Biden again refused to exert executive privilege over documents requested from the National Archives by the committee. No privilege has been claimed by Biden with regard to Bannon.

The public has seen no concrete action by DOJ in response to the contempt charge against Congress — a charge which should result in arresting Bannon, taking him into custody, and charging him with contempt until he complies.

23 days later, what the public sees is Bannon still doing whatever he does on any average day besides shave.

And the folks who’ve worked in law enforcement continue to say this simply takes time.

~ ~ ~

Except Congress itself is irritated, if Rep. Connolly’s opinion is more widely shared among his colleagues:


Congress members have good reason to be irritated; if DOJ couldn’t see ahead from Day One of the Biden administration that some Trump administration officials, staffers, and other supporters would resist a Congressional investigation into any allegation of Trump or Trump-adjacent wrongdoing, they had to be naïve or grossly incompetent. The impeachment investigations gave ample examples of what would happen and hinted at worse.

DOJ could at least have made an effort to appear ready to deal with intransigent witnesses. It’s not as if DOJ is unaware the public is bombarded with messaging all day long and in the absence of official messages, poor messaging will embed in the public’s consciousness.

The DOJ also has no good excuse for failing to execute the contempt charge. Congressional Research Service has at least twice in the last decade examined Congress’s ability to execute subpoenas and inherent contempt — the research has been done, it’s all neatly spelled out. Vet it if necessary but it’s pretty straightforward.

The biggest single reason DOJ shouldn’t dally is that it cannot question Congress’s speech or debate. An attack on the Capitol Building while Congress was in session is the most obviously legitimate reason for the House to issue a subpoena. Congress must know as part of its necessary speech and debate what happened leading up to and during the attack in order to:

(2) identify, review, and evaluate the causes of and the lessons learned from the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol regarding—

(A) the command, control, and communications of the United States Capitol Police, the Armed Forces, the National Guard, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021;

(B) the structure, coordination, operational plans, policies, and procedures of the Federal Government, including as such relate to State and local governments and nongovernmental entities, and particularly with respect to detecting, preventing, preparing for, and responding to targeted violence and domestic terrorism;

(C) the structure, authorities, training, manpower utilization, equipment, operational planning, and use of force policies of the United States Capitol Police;

(D) the policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for the sharing of intelligence and other information by Federal, State, and local agencies with the United States Capitol Police, the Sergeants at Arms of the House of Representatives and Senate, the Government of the District of Columbia, including the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, the National Guard, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021, and the related policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for monitoring, assessing, disseminating, and acting on intelligence and other information, including elevating the security posture of the United States Capitol Complex, derived from instrumentalities of government, open sources, and online platforms; and

(E) the policies, protocols, processes, procedures, and systems for interoperability between the United States Capitol Police and the National Guard, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies in the National Capital Region on or before January 6, 2021; and

(3) issue a final report to the House containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures described in subsection (c) as it may deem necessary.

All of which is part of Congress’s legislative purview.

Nor should the DOJ find a way to punt to the judiciary since the court has already repeatedly agreed that under Article I, Section 8, Clause 18, Congress’s implied powers of investigation are essential to its ability to legislate — and subpoenas are part of that power to investigate.

As for the excuse given by Bannon for not complying with the subpoena: executive privilege belongs to the office, not the person. The current executive has so far declined to exert privilege over anything Bannon provided to Trump during the eight months Bannon was a federal employee and adviser to Trump. There’s no executive privilege over any acts Bannon exerted as a private individual on behalf of candidate Trump’s campaign; Bannon can avail himself of his Fifth Amendment rights when questioned by the January 6 committee as he and his attorney feel appropriate.

~ ~ ~

The charge is dirt simple and obvious: Bannon didn’t comply with the subpoena, violating 2 USC 192 – Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers, and 2 USC 194 – Certification of failure to testify or produce; grand jury action. He’s not the executive, nor is Trump the executive, and the current executive has made no claim, making Bannon’s claim of executive privilege at Trump’s request invalid.

The January 6 committee is investigating a domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex, interfering with government operations. Though fewer deaths resulted, it’s a crime on par with 9/11 in that terrorists attacked the United States with intent to disrupt our government — or worse, since it was an attack directly on the people’s representatives with the intent to overthrow the government (through an autogolpe).

Should we really expect the public not to get antsy about the apparent lack of action given the seriousness of the crime and the persistent inability of the House to consistently obtain compliance from witnesses under both the 116th and 117th Congress?

Should we really expect the public not to be itchy when the current Attorney General admits to having been insulated by “the monastery of the judiciary” for years (an approximate paraphrase of an analogy Garland made during during an October 4 interview with Jane Mayer of The New Yorker)?

Should we really expect a majority of the American people not to be concerned about the length of time it takes to arrest and detain a white male investment banker and media executive who was Trump’s adviser, when they elected this administration to both undo the damage of the Trump years AND restore faith in their government?


This Is Bullshit: Are You Seriously Evicting Voters, Democrats? [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. Update at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Swear to gods “This Is Bullshit” will become a post category — stuff that is just outrageous bullshit which shouldn’t go unnoted without pushback.

Today’s bullshit comes to us via the Democratic Congressional Caucus and the Biden White House.

Do you recall the margin of votes between Joe Biden’s win and Trump’s loss?

Roughly seven million votes.

Do you know how many American households are at risk of eviction as of midnight tonight?

Roughly seven million.

Do you know why those seven million Americans are at risk of losing their homes AND THEIR VOTING ADDRESS?

Because the Democratic Congressional Caucus left for their summer break without passing a bill to stop this debacle.

And Joe Biden did next to nothing to encourage the caucus to make this a priority and to whip the votes.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) slept outside the Capitol Building last night to make the point that Americans who have already suffered so much during the pandemic have been left out in the cold again by their elected representatives.

While the Centers for Disease Control has implemented a moratorium on evictions until tonight on top of $46 billion in funding provided under the American Rescue Plan passed last December, states have only distributed $3 billion in rent assistance so far.

You can almost guess which states are the worst for handing out aid.

NBC found 26 states had distributed less than 10% of the funds they received for housing assistance (1:20 in this video report).

Wrap your head around who is mostly likely at risk; these are the same people most of these same states are trying to disenfranchise with prohibitive voting law changes. They’re going to be forced out of their homes at a time when many of these voters will be forced to obtain new IDs and jump through more hoops to vote in 16 months time.

Some of the aid money already set aside by Congress hasn’t been requested because the states made the process difficult — these same states are applying the same suppressive tactics they use on voting. Congressional Democrats failed to take GOP’s hostility toward economically disadvantaged Americans into consideration when they wrote the housing aid component of the American Rescue Plan. It’s a failure mirrored by their inability to solve the voting rights problem.

Is it possible Democrats blew this off because the folks affected are more likely to live in red states? Did they forget their own seats and their majority in Congress rely on the same margins obtained by these same voters?

Did they think a magic fairy would drop down with a magic wand and make this go away though the White House has already said the Supreme Court won’t let the executive branch issue another moratorium?

Did Biden trust Pelosi and her chief minion Steny Hoyer to do too much of the whipping when they may have conflicts due to real estate donors? Hoyer received $815,086.30 in campaign donations from Finance, Insurance & Real Estate businesses in 2018, for example; Pelosi received $216,214.68 the same year.

What’s particularly galling is that we’re still in a pandemic, and the states with the worst COVID numbers due to the Delta variant are also the ones which have done the least to help at-risk renters. These folks will end up crammed into shelters and other family and friend’s homes amplifying the risk of a surge which will affect even more Americans.

It’s just plain bullshit.

May I suggest you contact your representative and senators and tell them they’ve failed to protect at-risk Americans, which is one of the jobs they were elected to do?

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or look up your representative’s/senators’ local office number and leave a voicemail.

You can also fax them or use Resist.bot to text them.

UPDATE-1 — 9:20 PM ET — 31-JUL-2021 —

Rep. Cori Bush continues the fight tonight for Americans who are facing immediate housing precarity:

If you’re in DC and you attend tonight’s rally, let us know in comments. Thanks.


Carlson to McCarthy to Nunes: Obstruction or Worse?

[NB: Note the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Before Axios’ scoop was published last evening and Marcy published her post this morning, I’d started a tick-tock of the events related to Tucker Carlson’s recent fauxtrage claiming the NSA was spying on him.

It sure looked like Carlson was doing more than his usual white rage whining.

28-JUN-2021 – Monday evening – Carlson claimed the National Security Agency (NSA) was spying on him.

More specifically, Carlson said,

It’s not just political protesters the government is spying on, yesterday, we heard from a whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air.

It’s doubtful Carlson was expressing outrage on behalf of protesters since he doesn’t distinguish between BLM protesters demanding an end to police brutality or MAGA/Qanon rabidly denouncing the outcome of democratic elections.

Who the “we,” “us,” or “our” is to which Carlson referred to is nebulous. The screed was unhinged because there was no evidence provided, just a reference to a shadowy whistleblower who felt compelled to tell Carlson rather than file a complaint through normal channels.

29-JUN-2021 – On Tuesday, Fox News published a partial transcript of Carlson’s program from the previous evening; the network published zero investigative reporting about the alleged spying.

29-JUN-2021 – 8:00 pm ET – The same evening, the NSA tweeted a denial:


As noted in Axios’ and others’ reporting, the NSA pointedly says Carlson “has never been an intelligence target of the Agency” which leaves the possibility Carlson’s communications could have been picked up as incidental to a foreign target if Carlson was communicating with a target.

29-JUN-2021 – 8:46 pm ET – Shortly thereafter, CNN-Business’s Oliver Darcy updated his report including the NSA’s denial while noting that none of Carlson’s Fox News cohort reported on his claim.

30-JUN-2021 – 10:51 am ET – On Wednesday morning, NYU’s Jay Rosen noted Fox’s failure to report such a serious claim.

30-JUN-2021 – 5:07 pm ET – Later that day House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted about Carlson’s allegation:

How convenient – a neat turnaround in less than 48 hours.

~ ~ ~

Note in the partial transcript of Carlson’s Monday fauxtrage this bit toward the end:

Only Congress can force transparency on the intelligence agencies and they should do that immediately. Spying on opposition journalists is incompatible with democracy. If they are doing it to us, and again, they are definitely doing it to us, they are almost certainly doing it to others. This is scary and we need to stop it right away.

Emphasis mine.

Did Carlson actually demand Congress — meaning McCarthy — take action? Or did Carlson provide cover for McCarthy’s selection of Nunes?

If Fox News had investigated Carlson’s claim and found any credibility, one might believe McCarthy had adequate reason to engage Nunes. But without such investigative reporting and no documented formal whistleblower complaint, it’s purely political posturing on Carlson’s part last Monday which drove McCarthy’s action.

McCarthy’s engagement of Nunes itself is odd since McCarthy has resisted for nearly a decade doing anything to restrain the NSA’s surveillance. Why would he sic Nunes on the fruits of his own inaction?

Nunes’ role in the obstruction of the Special Counsel’s investigation suggests the reason why McCarthy would set Nunes loose, along with a slew of other sketchy and obstructive behavior including Nunes’ role in pressuring Ukraine for disinfo about Hunter Biden. With McCarthy’s blessing, Nunes may be continuing the obstruction both of the past investigation and now the Biden administration’s operation.

Marcy’s post earlier today lays out Nunes’ habit of sowing faux scandal; perhaps Nunes didn’t sow this one directly but indirectly through Carlson, laundered by McCarthy until the Axios’ report last evening.

But timing is everything as they say. The Carlson-McCarthy-Nunes sequence occurred roughly 10 weeks after the exit of one of Nunes’ flunkies, Michael Ellis; you’ll recall Ellis is under investigation for leaking classified info, as is fellow Nunes’ flunkie Kash Patel. Patel left his role with the Trump administration on January 20 along with another Nunes’ flunkie, Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

The Carlson-McCarthy-Nunes sequence also happened 12 weeks after yet another Nunes’ flunkie, Derek Harvey, had been sanctioned along with his attorney for filing a defamation lawsuit against CNN which the judge’s ruling said was filed in bad faith.

If we can account for these sources Nunes might have used in the past to obtain intelligence, assuming Nunes might have used Carlson to move McCarthy on his behalf, who was the “whistleblower within the US government who reached out to warn” him about his communications? This is a rather important question since the “whistleblower” leaked to Carlson about communications collection which may have been related to tracking an identified foreign agent; who is the mole?

Perhaps Nunes, a government employee, tipped Carlson himself, closing the feedback loop?

The tricky part about Carlson’s claim after Axios’ report: if Carlson had not made a good faith effort to request an interview with Putin between the period January 1, 2019 until June 28, 2021 as Carlson indicated in his FOIA to the NSA, is it possible that some or all of his content in his program on Fox has been on behalf of a foreign entity?

Has Fox News, by failing to investigate this matter and report on it as a legitimate news network should have, by failing to exercise adequate editorial oversight of its “talent” contacting foreign leaders, also been in the service of a foreign entity?

Has House minority leader McCarthy allowed himself to be manipulated by a foreign entity in responding to Carlson’s claim by engaging Nunes to investigate it, rather than asking the Department of Justice or the Office of the Inspector General to do so? What if any effort did McCarthy expend to validate Carlson’s claim before handing off the situation to Nunes? Did McCarthy make any effort at all to contact Speaker Pelosi and/or Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee?

~ ~ ~

Marcy wrote, “If the FBI believes that Tucker really was pursuing a long-term relationship with Russian agents, then even Fox News might rethink giving him a platform,” based on the 30-month period of time in which Carlson had been in dialog with Russian agents, allegedly pursuing an interview with Putin.

I don’t think there is or will be any government-based effort to take the Tucker Carlson Tonight show off the air — hello, First Amendment, which Carlson clearly doesn’t understand. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the program or its network was eventually obligated to file paperwork under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.


Three Things: Waves of Stupidity

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Scrolling through my social media feed Wednesday I noticed wave after wave of incredible stupidity. Of course there’s a lot of stupid out on the internet, so much wrongness there’s an xkcd cartoon for those of us who can’t help but point at the trash fires burning online.

But Wednesday’s exceptionally bad piles of idiocy are worth noting because they’re indicative of trends.

~ 3 ~

Jesus Christ, this woman is a moron AND she’s a doctor. Proves not everyone who earns a doctorate should be trusted with sharp objects or your life.

Magnetism, I has it. Now that I’m vaccinated all the metal in my house is clinging to me — even brass keys which aren’t conductive. ~eye roll~

Watch as this nurse — a health care professional who must have attended secondary education and passed a state licensing exam — demonstrates before the same state legislative hearing how COVID has increased her magnetism.

Lady, take a fucking shower. It’s sweat and skin oils causing small objects to stick to you.

What an incredible waste of government personnel hours. Expect more of this kind of idiocy as long as it’s profitable for these hacks to monetize their wretchedness while spreading this ignorant disinformation.

~ 2 ~

Two words should tell just how bad this next bit of stupid is: Louie Gohmert.

Rep. Gohmert has become a synonym for brain-sucking vapidity if you aren’t already familiar with this elected representative’s cred. But he really outdid himself today.

Bet he also believes Superman could stop or reverse time by flying fast enough around the earth in the opposite direction of its rotation.

Gohmert tried to correct what he felt was a misunderstanding, but…

We knew what you meant the first time, Gohmert. Voters in TX-01 need to catch the clue train in 2022 and elect someone with a few more watts upstairs.

Best analysis of Gohmert’s question in this thread:

The last tweet in the thread is perfection.

Until voters get fed up with this kind of moron representing them, we can expect more Gohmert-ish output from the likes of Representatives Boebert, Cawthorn, Gaetz, Gosar, Greene, so on. What a pity they all belong to the same political entity which has apparently abandoned science.

~ 1 ~

Remember all the posts this site has written in praise of investment firm BlackRock? That would be zero if you’re a newbie here which is in line with most sites on the left.

The firm may have begun to clue in that climate change and a lack of diversity are eating into their investment performance, but that’s not a shift to the left — it’s an acknowledgment of facts and science.

For some reason this Ohio GOP senate candidate believes The Left — just say it, Vance, the Democratic Party — in particular are big supporters of BlackRock:

Vance, the author of Hillbilly Elegy, attacks Democrats instead of focusing on the problem which is plaguing Ohio homebuyers. No doubt he’ll do the same thing if he’s elected — avoid confronting the financial investment sector from which he’ll expect campaign donations while crabbing about the political party which has swept up problem after problem created by lousy GOP tax policy.

As I’ve noted before, lower wage workers can’t afford housing when prices skyrocket due to investment bankers buying single family and other residential housing. Don’t like increasing wages? Get the investment banks out of single family housing and revisit policy toward investment banking in multi-family housing.

Businesses are still going to have to respond to the suppression of wages over the last couple decades; some of the wage increases are merely catch-up. Food service, hard hit by the pandemic, may respond earliest and pass the cost immediately onto their customers.

But at some point shareholders need to ask themselves why they are paying so much for executives when they aren’t the frontline facing customers. With Standard & Poor index members’ median CEO compensation reaching $13.7 million this past year in spite of the pandemic, executives have raked in the cash during the pandemic; they can afford to yield a few million in compensation in order to assure worker retention through pay increases to living wage level.

Betting Vance won’t say anything about the inequity of executives’ compensation being too busy trashing Democrats to expend any wattage on systemic problems and solutions. He’s still unable to grasp the true root causes of poverty just as his hillbilly memoir revealed.

I can hardly wait for another year and a half of this crap while he runs for Ohio’s open senate seat.

~ 0 ~

There was plenty more stupid where that came from, but the stuff is toxic and one can easily overdose. Let’s hope Thursday is a little smarter.


Track This Post: U.S. Postmaster DeJoy Must Be Fired and Hajjar Hired

[NB: Check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

No. Hell no.

The U.S. Postal Service has been covertly monitoring Americans’ social media. The surveillance program was first reported last month; this is some seriously ugly stuff.

Now we learn the USPS has been using Clearview AI for facial recognition, Zignal Labs for keyword searches, and Nfusion software to create untraceable covert accounts.

Why has the USPS been using anything other than intelligence from the Department of Justice for monitoring events which may pose risks to normal mail delivery?

Why were these resources used to monitor First Amendment-protected protest rallies like those in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year?

While this was running under Louis DeJoy’s tenure at the U.S. Postal Service, it began under the previous postmaster Margaret Brennan’s term. Did Brennan know the scope of this surveillance program when it began? Did the scope change over time with or without her awareness?

Did the USPS Board of Governors know about this program and its spying on American’s social media?

Surprisingly, there are GOP members of Congress who are unhappy with USPS’ spying on Americans — Matt Gaetz and Louis Gohmert have both expressed concern. One might wonder why.

Of course these GOP members tipped their hand and submitted a bill to defund the USPS which gives away GOP’s desire to kill the USPS as a government service which private sector businesses could carve up, ditching unprofitable parts along with the USPS’ obligation to protect privacy of mail contents.

~ ~ ~

All of which brings us to another ongoing problem: the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors still doesn’t include all of Joe Biden’s nominees. At least one of three nominees remains unapproved, obstructing Biden administration’s ability to deal with the lousy mail service under DeJoy’s leadership and the covert domestic spying program. There’s ample reason for both parties to light a fire under the confirmation process based on the history of the USPS under DeJoy’s highly-questionable leadership:

16-JUN-2020 — Louis DeJoy assumed office as U.S. Postmaster; he joins a Board of Governors which are all Trump appointees, white and all male.

10-JUL-2020 — A USPS internal memo restricted overtime and ordered postal personnel to return to their post office on time, thereby reducing priority on timely delivery of mail.

07-AUG-2020 — DeJoy overhauled USPS’ upper management; 23 senior USPS officials were reassigned or displaced.

24-AUG-2020 — Before the House Oversight Committee, DeJoy said, “I did not direct the elimination or any cutback in overtime.”

SEP-NOV-2020 — Several lawsuits were filed due to USPS’ handling of mail related to the election including ballots and dissemination of false information by the USPS about voting by mail in Colorado.

02-NOV-2021 — On the eve of the election, first-class mail on-time delivery rate had dropped to 80% after DeJoy’s changes from over 90% before DeJoy became postmaster.

21-FEB-2021 — By way of a FOIA lawsuit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington obtained documents which showed DeJoy lied to Congress about cutting overtime.

23-FEB-2021 — USPS awards Oshkosh Defense a contract worth approximately $6 billion for a next-generation fleet of 165,000 delivery vehicles which are “equipped with either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains and can be retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies.”

24-FEB-2021 — Hearing before House Oversight Committee in which DeJoy testifies about mail slowdown.

24-FEB-2021 — Biden announced three nominees for open seats on the USPS Board of Governors.

11-MAR-2021 — House members submitted a bill to halt the contract with Oshkosh Defense as the contract may violate Biden’s executive order dd. January 27 requiring all federal fleet vehicles purchased thereafter to be “clean and zero-emission.”

22-APR-2021Confirmation hearing before Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for all three Biden nominees.

12-MAY-2021Ronald Stroman (Democrat) confirmed by the Senate; his term will expire December 8, 2028.

13-MAY-2021Amber Faye McReynolds (Independent) confirmed by Senate for term ending December 8, 2026.

19-MAY-2021Anton Hajjar (Democrat) remains unconfirmed.

Finish this job, Senators. Constituents on both sides of the aisle need better, more reliable postal service; they also don’t need a postmaster who is so egregiously disrespectful of his role as a public employee, nor another covert surveillance program outside the scope of USPS’ mission relying on iffy platforms like Clearview AI.

The public also needs more diverse representation within their federal government; Hajjar’s confirmation would realize two men of color on the Board of Governors, both appointed by Biden along with McReynolds.

But it doesn’t stop with Hajjar’s confirmation. Governors Ron A. Bloom and Donald L. Moak, both identified as Democrats, both appointed under the Trump administration, may need to be replaced. They failed to object forcefully enough to the use of a covert surveillance system on Americans’ protected First Amendment speech. Can the country depend on them to do the right thing to work with the other Democratic and Independent appointees to remove DeJoy after they’ve failed the public?

~ ~ ~

A few last thoughts: Since the USPS was surveilling the American public, did it also fail to advise Capitol Police and the Department of Justice there was a growing threat leading up to the January 6 insurrection?

Did someone use the USPS system to see what the other intelligence agencies saw ahead of the insurrection?

Did the USPS collect documentation about what it saw brewing?

Sure hope somebody asks behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.


Three Things: Eff These Effing Effers

That mealy-mouthed compromised weasel Lindsey Graham spent a lot of time whining on the Sunday talk show circuit this weekend.

Somebody out there has the dirt on Graham. Just. Spill. It. Find a vehicle to do the job, get yourself clear, and let it rip because all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, are going to spend too much time mopping up Lindsey’s alligator tears if his personal problem isn’t addressed out in the open.

He wouldn’t be doing all this whining about Democrats and backstabbing his own party if he was hidey-holed trying to lick his wounds. It’s not like he’s got anything to lose in 2022 or 2024 because he was just re-elected, goddamn it all.

Just. Spill. The. Dirt. Lance the festering boil animating Graham. Back up the truck, press DUMP, and run like hell.

~ 3 ~

Until somebody gets smart and dumps the dirt on Graham, we need to regroup and get in gear for 2022. We can’t lose the Senate or we’ll end up with two years of stagnation and worse. If the last two years were bad, an economic depression making the 1930s look like a piece of cake could result from the GOP taking the Senate again.

Here’s the targets of our offense:

State Class III Cook PVI Age Now Open ‘2018 Moscow Convict Trump
Pennsylvania Pat Toomey (R) Even 59 Open N Y
Wisconsin Ron Johnson (R) Even 65   Y N
Florida Marco Rubio (R) R+02 49   N N
Iowa Chuck Grassley (R) R+03 87   N N
North Carolina Richard Burr (R) R+03 65 Open N Y
Ohio Rob Portman (R) R+03 65 Open N N
           
Arizona Mark Kelly (D) R+05 56   N Y
Georgia Raphael Warnock (D) R+05 51   N Y
           
South Carolina Tim Scott (R) R+08 55   N N
Alaska Lisa Murkowski (R) R+09 63   N Y
Missouri Roy Blunt (R) R+09 71   N N
Indiana Todd Young (R) R+09 48   N N
Louisiana John Kennedy (R) R+11 69   Y N
Kansas Jerry Moran (R) R+13 66   Y N
Alabama Richard Shelby (R) R+13 86 Open Y N
South Dakota John Thune (R) R+14 60   Y N
Arkansas John Boozman (R) R+15 70   N N
Kentucky Rand Paul (R) R+15 58   N N
North Dakota John Hoeven (R) R+17 63   Y N
Idaho Mike Crapo (R) R+19 69   N N
Oklahoma James Lankford (R) R+20 52   N N
Utah Mike Lee (R) R+20 49   N N

These are all the GOP seats up for re-election or open in 2022, sorted by their Cook Partisan Voting Index rating. The strongest rated GOP are at the bottom, the weakest at the top.

There are three columns identifying which seats are open, which of these GOP senators went to Moscow on July 4 in 2018, and which ones voted to convict.

Sen. Shelby, one of those who went to Moscow, is 86 years old. He’s likely retiring due to age; it’s not clear why Putin would have ensured he was invited unless he knew something about Shelby not obvious to us. But Shelby is the likely ceiling on Cook PVI at R+13.

I’ve inserted two of the newest Democratic senators in the table, noting their state is rated R+5. This should tell us that every single seat at R+5 to Even is highly gettable with solid organizing on the ground. If you live in one of these states, you should be looking into helping as soon as possible. Those two Democrats, Kelly and Warnock, also need help; they won a special election, but must now fight for the Class III seat for the full six-year term.

Every one of the GOP senators who went to Moscow is vulnerable. Moscow wouldn’t have invited them if they weren’t either compromised, soft and could be compromised, or whatever psychographic and demographic data Putin’s data trolls had pulled together indicated these seats would trend left long before the pandemic.

Louisiana, for example, is increasingly non-white, its population become less white and more non-white at a rate of 1/4% per year. In 2018, the state was 58.4% non-Hispanic white. COVID may have stemmed some of that shift by way of Team Trump’s passive genocide by neglect, but that still means 41.6% of the population is non-white. Strong, effective organizing like that in Georgia this last election season could make Louisiana gettable, and it could explain why Moscow reached out to Sen. Kennedy.

Iowa is gettable for other reasons — the damage Trump did to farmers with his unnecessary trade war, Chuck Grassley’s decrepitude, a strong Democratic candidate pipeline, to name a few. What Iowa will need, though, is to get its act together with regard to its primary process. DNC’s new chair Jaime Harrison may be looking into this early rather than later to assure smooth sailing into 2022.

Speaking of Harrison, all those other less-gettable seats shouldn’t be ignored. Harrison appears ready to reinstitute a 50-state strategy leaving no seat uncontested. Kentucky, for example, shouldn’t be ceded because it’s rated R+15 and McConnell just won re-election there; if Charles Booker was interested in running against Rand Paul, he could stand a decent chance of winning, let alone make Paul work hard for his seat.

Pick a race or two. Get engaged early. Figure out how to help. Do not let the fascist GOP believe it has a chance at continued minority rule.

~ 2 ~

A new conservative party may soon emerge, consisting of more traditional conservatives who identified as Republican and are not Trump supporters.

This is a good move; I hope these folks do all the right things, getting their party formally established and organized in all 50 states. Could these folks peel away a few centrist Democrats? Possibly. But they’re more likely to fragment the power of the existing GOP.

We’d also be closer to a multi-party model than we have been, preventing a far more fascist entity like the Party of Trumpism from taking control of any branch of government.

Many Democrats have been upset about House Speaker Pelosi’s remarks saying this country needs a strong Republican Party:


But I wonder if what she really meant was a the country needs a strong party which believes in a republic — a democratic republic — giving a subtle nod to McMullin and the other breakaway Republicans who are interested in a pro-democracy conservative party.

Consider the timing of her remarks made on Saturday, while McMullin discussed the potential new party on Friday.

~ 1 ~

Of all the whining that pasty, soft-handed, slack-assed Graham did this weekend, this pissed me off the most.

Right, asshole. You want to impeach the first Black-Asian woman VP because she supported First Amendment-protected peaceful protests against racist police brutality while she was a senator? Or are you really just eager to impeach Harris because she’s Black-Asian, woman, and a VP like you will never be?

Go ahead and try it, whiner. You’re only giving every American who is non-white and/or woman impetus to organize even harder to get out the mothertrucking vote.

I really do hope there’s a new pro-democracy conservative party ready to run for Lindsey Graham’s seat in six years. I’d even donate money to them to see them make him whine even harder.

~ 0 ~

If you’re inside the polar vortex, I hope you’re able to stay warm. Reduce your electricity consumption as much as you can tolerate it to keep the load on the grid down. This web site is cheesy looking but it has some decent pointers about keeping warm. If you’re not in the vortex, do some emergency preparedness work because we don’t know with certainty how this or the next vortex will pan out.

And for dogs’ sake, stay off the road if at all possible if you live where snow and ice are rarities.

Oh, and double mask to protect against the newer highly-transmissible UK version of COVID.

Copyright © 2021 emptywheel. All rights reserved.
Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/congress/