Saturday Report 12/30/23 - Are Public Christian Schools on the Way?
The Best of the Rest of the News
— Now that both Colorado and Maine have disqualified Trump from the ballot for committing insurrection in violation of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, a few Democrats have joined virtually the entire GOP in claiming that it should be the “right of the voters, not the courts” to decide who our next president will be. This facile argument is dishonest on its face: just like five Republicans on the Supreme Court ruled in Bush v Gore that “there is no constitutional right to vote for president of the United States,” similarly there is no “right” to run for president. It’s a privilege, not a right, to be a candidate, and a privilege for which one must be qualified. For president, that qualification laid out in the Constitution is straightforward: the person must be at least 35 years old, a “natural born citizen” of the US, and have not committed insurrection. Trump only gets two out of three: the man is an open and self-declared criminal, having promoted the lie that he actually won an election he lost by 7 million votes and then having used that lie to direct a murderous mob at the Capitol building that resulted in the deaths of five civilians and four police officers. Certainly, Trump’s entitled to due process in this regard, but that has arguably already been granted him by allowing his attorneys to plead their case before the Secretaries of State of both states, and will now get a follow-up from both the appeals courts and the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the case against Trump — the proof that he not only participated in the planning of the insurrection but nearly pulled it off — is getting stronger by the day as Smith, Willis, James, and Bragg get co-conspirators to flip and use their subpoena and discovery powers to document in greater detail the breadth and depth of the crime. As constitutional scholar Norm Eisen noted, “As wrong as some people are saying... that its antidemocratic — it is never against American democracy to apply the United States Constitution.” If Trump is prevented from running for president by enough states to keep him from winning no matter what, in all probability the GOP will put another candidate on the ballot and Trump will fade into a whine-filled obscurity. If they keep him as their candidate and he tries to push through after being defeated, he’ll similarly fade from public consciousness: America is, by and large, over his petty grievances, his embrace of fascism, and his chronic dishonesty. Even with the massive media infrastructure and billionaire donor advantage the GOP has this coming year, I’m optimistic about 2024 and our chances in November. We just need to keep spreading the good word about Biden’s accomplishments and how Democrats in every state are working hard to enhance freedom and democracy across our nation.
— The Maine Republican who filed the initial complaint that led to Trump being removed from that state’s presidential ballots is also calling for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from Trump’s appeal of Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’ finding that he’s disqualified by virtue of his treasonous attempted sedition. Former Republican Maine Senator Thomas Saviello was blunt when interviewed on CNN, saying, “I think all the stuff that's come out about him, and his wife on January 6th, he needs to recuse himself.” The evidence that Thomas and his wife are both corrupt political grifters is so overwhelming and comes from so many sources, for so many decades, that a simple recusal is absurd: Thomas should resign in disgrace like Abe Fortas did. Of course, that would require him to feel shame and generally that’s an emotion that’s not available to con-man sociopaths like this pair.
— Lev Parnas was sentenced to over a year in prison for funneling Russian money into the Trump campaign. He was also the point person in Ukraine for Trump’s effort to blackmail President Zelenskyy into announcing that Joe Biden was corrupt (Parnas speaks Ukrainian). Now that he’s out of prison, Parnas is spilling the beans on Trump, James Comer, and Gym Jordan, who are all trying to keep the truth from coming out. After FBI Director James Comey announced just a few weeks before the election of 2016 that he was opening an investigation into Hillary’s emails, her poll numbers dropped by around three points, handing the election to Trump. Thus, Parnas said, “The whole motive and the whole Biden stuff was never about getting justice, and getting to the bottom of Biden criminality or doing an investigation in Ukraine. It was all about announcing an investigation and using that in the media to be able to destroy the Biden campaign and have Trump win.” In the coming months, Parnas will be rolling out a book (Shadow Diplomacy) and a podcast (Lev Remembers): while the media will probably largely ignore both because he’s not a politician, I’m betting Parnas has more to tell us and it’s going to get interesting.
— Putin is “betting the farm” on Trump getting elected in 2024. In a very real way, if Trump loses in 2024 then Vladimir Putin will be facing the largest threats ever to both his presidency and his life. Dictatorships like Putin has turned Russia into don’t generally treat their leaders well when they lose wars, and Putin’s entire bet right now seems to be that he can mobilize enough social media and bought-off GOP shills to block further military funding for Ukraine until Trump comes into office and pulls the US out of NATO and ends all our support for that struggling nation. As John Lough, associate fellow of the Russia & Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, told the British newspaper The Mirror: “Putin is betting the farm on the return of Trump. Even if Trump delivered little for Russia in the first term — heavens know what they discussed when they met in Helsinki — there’s a good chance if Trump comes to power he will do something radical in terms of foreign policy.” Not to mention Trump’s plans to put people like you and me in concentration camps if he regains the presidency…
— Speaking of Putin and Ukraine, now that the entire US press corps has left Kiev and relocated themselves like lemmings to Israel, Russia is doubling down on their violent, criminal assaults on Ukrainian civilians, schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and shopping centers. Yesterday saw the largest aerial barrage of the war so far, with over 150 missiles and 36 drones attacking civilian targets, killing over 30 innocent people and injuring over 160. Putin is betting that most American media will ignore the story, particularly now that he has his internet trolls stirring up American outrage over the situation in Gaza to distract us from his war crimes in Europe. He’s also betting that Republican members of Congress will continue to cower in the face of Trump’s embrace of Russia over Ukraine, thus also tamping down American outrage at this violent assault on a peaceful democracy. So far it appears to be working.
— The Argentine crises deepens. Louise and I were in Buenos Aires the day of and the day after the Argentinian election last month that saw libertarian economist Javier Milei become that nation’s president. Now, as I predicted back then, Milei is putting his crackpot theories into place, doubling down on the failed neoliberal experiment that destroyed Chile and gutted the American middle class. Latin America’s third largest economy is on its knees, with inflation running well over 150 percent, and Milei’s solution is to gut social safety net programs, privatize the nation’s schools, cut taxes on the morbidly rich, and privatize Argentina’s equivalents of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. In response, Argentinians — particularly members of labor unions, who are losing many of their rights to bargain — are pissed! So pissed off, in fact, that Milei has proposed a new law that will allow the army to patrol the country’s streets and shoot protesters who refuse to disperse when ordered. This is going to get really ugly really fast: keep an eye on Argentina, as this is pretty much exactly what America’s GOP has in mind for us if they ever again seize all three branches of our federal government.
— Leonard Leo and his Christianist fellow travelers are setting up a new case for the Supreme Court to okay a religious school to be 100 percent funded with taxpayer money. If they get what they want, it’ll overturn 150 years of Supreme Court