Saturday Report 9/23/23 - Holy Moly! Clarence Thomas secretly participated in Koch network donor events
The Best of the Rest of the News
— Shutdown Watch! McCarthy hands the gavel to Gaetz as Jeffries tells the GOP: “We’re not paying the ransom note.” Vladimir Putin wants the US government shut down so no more money or aid will go to Ukraine and because he hates America (and has since he was in the KGB in East Germany back in the 1980s) and wants our nation and government damaged. American oligarchs (aka rightwing billionaires) want the government shut down because they don’t think it should be doing 80% of what it does, helping working and poor people and all that terrible socialist stuff, and don’t want to pay taxes to support such terrible things. Donald Trump wants it shut down because Putin does and because he — erroneously — believes that will stop funds to Jack Smith and the federal courts. And Matt Gaetz and his Putin Caucus in Congress want the government shut down because Trump ordered them to do so on his Nazi-infested social media site this week and they do whatever Trump says. So, get ready. I’m betting we’ll have a multi-month shut-down that will last until the holiday season, although it’s possible the pain will get bad enough that McCarthy will abandon the Putin Caucus and join with Democrats (like he did to end the debt ceiling threat) to restore government functions.
Historically, the government shutdowns pioneered by neofascist Newt Gingrich have hurt Republicans electorally, but the pressure this time from Trump and the Putin Caucus is probably more intense than in previous shutdowns; time will tell. No matter what, though, Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jefferies is going to hold to the values of a functional and pluralistic America:
“We’ve seen this done before. The Republicans shut down the government, partially, twice in the 1990s. Why? Because they wanted to end Medicaid as we know it. Bill Clinton and Democrats to the rescue, to stop that from happening. Same group of people, different version, in 2013, shut the government down for 14 days. Why? Again, to jam their extreme right-wing ideology down the throats of the American people.
“In that instance, they wanted President Obama to repeal his signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, and throw 20 million people or so off the rolls, and deprive them of health care. Like we were going to agree to that ransom note. Once again, Democrats to the rescue. …
“Why are we going down this road again? We know how it’s going to end. We’re not paying a ransom note so you can jam your extreme ideology down the throats of the American people and hurt everyday Americans. We never have and we never will.”
— The UAW Strike expands, and we’re just at the beginning of a nationwide movement toward better labor protections. Donald Trump’s planned stunt next week visiting striking autoworkers in Detroit during the Republican debate notwithstanding, organized labor is having a moment across the country. SAG-AFTRA, the union I’m a member of, continues their strike, along with the writers and UAW; now they’re probably going to be joined by flight attendants for United, Alaska, American, and Southwest as well as Kaiser Permanente workers and hotel and casino workers in Las Vegas. I remember how successful Reagan was at convincing Americans that “union bosses” were evil, talking working people into turning against their own interests so severely that union membership dropped by over two-thirds (along with wages and benefits), leading to a $51 trillion transfer of wealth from working class people into the money bins of the morbidly rich. But Americans are no longer buying the GOP’s BS and unions are on a tear. The question now is what will it take for those Red states that have instituted “Right To Work For Less” anti-union laws to roll them back? I’m not holding my breath, but over the next few years am expecting to see the pressure build. If you live in a Red state, let your voice be heard, too.
— Senator Bob Menendez says, “I was indicted because I am a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings.” Somebody called into my radio show yesterday to ask why I wasn’t featuring the story and I said that if I was going to pick on politicians I’d rather they were Republicans, but this really does look egregious. Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, of course, but the evidence seems so overwhelming that I’m wondering how long it’ll be before the pressure to resign becomes irresistable. He beat a previous corruption investigation, but it sure looks like this time they’ve nailed him, complete with text messages from his wife explicitly laying out the quid pro quos, if news reports are accurate. New Jersey has a Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, who would appoint a replacement, so it may be a good thing if Menendez were to step aside soon to fight his legal battle and let a new and less-tainted face settle in and prepare for the next election. In fact, late yesterday afternoon Governor Murphy called on Menendez to resign. Good on him: just because the Republican party is corrupt through-and-through is no reason for Democrats to tolerate it.
— Holy Moly! Clarence Thomas secretly participated in Koch network donor events. This is as corrupt as it gets. Thomas, according to new reporting from ProPublica, was a guest for the Koch brothers (now just Charles) at fundraisers pulling together money and making plans for cases they’d be bringing before the Supreme Court. If this doesn’t lead to a Thomas resignation or impeachment, all hope is gone for the Court to recover its reputation any day soon. Billionaires have been buying influence on the Court for way too long, and it’s done considerable damage to the US, from their legalizing political bribery to gutting the EPA on behalf of Koch Oil and other fossil fuel companies. Enough! If Democrats can take back the house in 2024 and hold the Senate and White House, impeaching Thomas needs to be at the top of their list.
— Trump is going to use auto workers as props for his counter-programming against the GOP debate & Democrats are having none of it. As mentioned above, Trump is planning to counter-program against the GOP’s debate next week by going to Detroit or Akron to hold a rally that’s themed toward the UAW. Given that he was arguably the most anti-labor president in American history, this is rich with irony. He appointed Antonin Scalia’s son, who makes a living busting and preventing unions, to run the Department of Labor, stacked the agency with anti-union activist lawyers, and even, in 2016, said that UAW auto workers make “too much” and shouldn’t even think of striking. Will the union members who live in the Fox bubble know any of this? Don’t count on it. This could be a brilliant strategy — albeit mind-bogglingly deceptive — for Trump to court the blue-collar vote. It’ll be interesting to see if the union mounts any sort of big counter-protests or if Fain is reluctant to split his members along partisan lines. Keep your eye on this one: it’ll tell us all a lot about how awake today’s labor movement is.
— Are Trump’s GOP opponents in an “Arm’s race to our-extreme & out-cruel each other”? Although he never had a chance to impliment it, Trump signed an executive order in the last months of his presidency that would have pulled the top management — around 50,000 people — of most federal agencies out of Civil Service and into a category of being, essentially, at-will political appointees. That would allow a future Republican president to fire all 50,000 of them and replace them with toadies loyal exclusively to him, bringing back into our government the payola corruption that was ended with the institution of the Civil Service back in the 1880s. Now near-billionaire Vivek Ramaswamy says he’s going to go one better: he’s going to fire a full million of the 2.2 million federal employees in his first year as president. This would take us a long way toward fulfilling David Koch’s vision of ending all federal agencies except the military and turning everything else over to private corporations and America’s billionaires. Increasingly, the phrase “corrupt Republicans” can simply be abbreviated as “Republicans. Do you know of any left who aren’t in the bag for fossil fuels and the rest of the hard right and the morbidly rich? Maybe Mitt Romney, but he’s on his way out…
— “Who revels in such cruelty?” After a brilliant new profile of General Mark Milley was published this past week in The Atlantic revealing that Trump told Milley he didn’t want to see any more wounded soldiers at military events, retired Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe said on Twitter/X that the incident reminds him “of the time Trump mocked a reporter with a physical disability and a speech impediment. Or when he dissed Senator McCain for having been captured in war and having endured torture.” Tribe then asked: “Who revels in such cruelty?” Although it was probably meant as a rhetorical question, Tribe got quite a few high-profile answers. George Conway said: “Who is such a person? A malignant narcissist—a soulless, conscienceless, and morally bereft individual relentlessly driven by pathological levels of narcissism, sociopathy, sadism, and Machiavellinism.” Former Republican campaign consultant Rick Wilson said, “Trump’s loathing for an injured war hero speaks more volumes about his low, repulsive character than almost any of the other stories of his public or private behavior. I’ve read damn near every account of his degenerate, foul life, and this one still shocks.” Indeed.
— What Maslow Overlooked: The Need to Feel Alive. Louise and I rolled out a new Substack newsletter this week about ADHD. I was very active in this world from the late 1970s through the late 1990s, writing multiple books on my “Hunter in a Farmer’s World” hypothesis that has since revollutionized much of the mental health community’s approach to the condition, and we felt it would be useful to people to revive the topic. Kids are still getting diagnosed in huge numbers and now this is a thing among adults as well. My first two articles explain the Hunter/Farmer theory and posit a neurological explanation for ADHD that answers many of the questions about how to reinvent our schools to work for these kids, and for adults in relationships and the workplace. You can find it all at HunterInAFarmersWorld.com.
— Geeky Science! From cage-free chicks to puppy mills, the GOP is trying to roll back animal protections and not only is it cruel but it would also speed the spread of zoonotic diseases. The meat industry has several layers, from the giant industrial agriculture operations to medium-size and family farms. Big Ag, however, has the most money and they’re now spreading it around the GOP, proposing to insert into the upcoming must-pass farm bill (which reauthorizes not just farm aid but also food stamps and other nutrition programs) a ban on states’ laws protecting animals from cruelty. There are over 1000 laws across around half of our states (mostly Blue states)
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