The cognitive dissonance that Trump defenders on the right are having to go through is almost comical

It has been kind of remarkable to watch the right wing news media and Trump apologists go after the FBI this week because of the raid at Mar-a-Lago.

The FBI!

The “law and order” party is freaking out because the FBI conducted a legal search as a last resort for top secret documents that Donald Trump had failed to turn over — after having first been subpoenaed, and then having been visited by a small FBI contingent — top secret highly classified documents, including (apparently) documents related to our nuclear capabilities.

The Department of Justice is now investigating whether Donald Trump engaged in violations of the Espionage Act of 1917 (as amended).

But her emails!

The cognitive dissonance that Trump defenders on the right are having to go through is almost comical at this point.

What was less comical is all the threats being posted on-line against the FBI and its agents — including those who signed the search warrant, whose names were released by Trump’s people without being redacted — or the effort of conspiracy theorist and January 6th attendee Ricky Shiffer, Jr. to break into the FBI’s office in Cincinnati with an AR-15 type assault rifle.

Right wing militias and their ilk may find that it’s a bit risky to take on the FBI.

From the moment that Trump was elected I realized that he was the “FU” President, the guy that 30 years of hate radio and Faux News had foisted on us by the “blame the liberals” crowd that has proliferated over all that time. But now I’m starting to recognize that the “law and order” party wants law for the other guys and for their own people to be able to get away with anything.

Trump, that holy porcine hulk of malevolent incompetence, is attractive to them, in part, because he has never been held accountable.

For anything.

That becomes apparent if you’ve read biographies about Trump or the books by insiders like Michael Cohen (who was essentially Trump’s consigliere before the Boss threw him under a bus).

But slowly, slowly, like a melting glacier, things are starting to catch up with Trump. He has so many legal problems that the page cataloging the legal affairs of Donald Trump is 53 pages long.

53 pages long!

That’s almost as long as Wikipedia’s entry on Jesus Christ, which is only 69 pages long.

Jesus Christ!

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Some of you may be wondering how many criminal investigations Donald Trump is actually involved in

Some of you following the news this week may be thinking, how many investigations is Donald Trump involved in.

Well, it turns out a lot.

My hometown newspaper, the Boston Globe, helpfully set forth a list:

  • A House committee and the Department of Justice are investigating his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
  • The District of Columbia attorney general is looking into potential fraud at the presidential inaugural committee.
  • The Manhattan District Attorney, the New York Attorney General, and the Westchester County District Attorney are all separately looking into financial and tax fraud at the Trump organization.
  • The Fulton County (GA) district attorney is in front of a grand jury looking at whether Trump criminally interfered with the 2020 presidential election in that state.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Trump broke the law in the way he, in post-presidency, announced how he would take his private social media company public.
  • Finally, there is this matter that led to Monday’s search. It suggests he took material meant for the National Archives.

One that should be on the list but isn’t is the criminal case that was being conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., but which has lost steam under his successor for reasons that are not really clear.

In any case, Trump was finally scheduled to be deposed by the New York Attorney General’s office in the civil fraud case against his organization and he — surprise, surprise — plead the Fifth and refused to answer any questions. Jared, Ivanka, Donald Jr. and other members of the Trump have already been deposed or are scheduled to be deposed.

In a related development, the January 6th Committee is now seeking the full contents of Alex Jones’ cell phone, which is attorneys accidentally released to plaintiff’s counsel in their defamation case.

Oops.

That could lead to criminal charges for Alex Jones, but could also cause trouble for Trump and his people, depending on what’s in there. And information about January 6th should definitely be in there.

Finally, there is the irony that the “lock her up” crowd suddenly sees prosecuting your political enemies as, well, maybe not such a good thing after all.

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What to say about the FBI raiding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday

The FBI raiding Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday really was something to behold. The raid appeared to be focused on material that Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House, containing thousands of pages of classified documents. Those document should have been turned over to the National Archives, not hiding out in Trump’s unsecured bedroom.

I’m not a presidential historian, so I’ll let someone who is a presidential historian explain the significance of this:

We don’t know, of course, exactly what the FBI was looking for. But it cannot possibly be good news for TFG, #45.

Now, the “lock her up” crowd sees a political witch hunt in progress, and the deep state involved. But, Christopher Wray, the FBI Director, was Trump’s man.

On the other end of the spectrum, there certainly is some Schadenfreude going on. But how can there not be? The Former Guy was ready to lock up just about everyone who got in his way.

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Maybe Republicans don’t really want to win the midterms after all

Who the fuck votes against capping the price of insulin?

I mean, seriously, who the fuck?

The issue came up as part of the omnibus Inflation Reduction Act, which the Democrats managed to pass in a rare Sunday session. Most of that act could avoid the filibuster as part of the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules — which is a mechanism to make sure that budget-related bills can pass without being blocked — but members can challenge whether individual portions of a bill are actually budget related.

And so with the provisions to cap the price of insulin at $35.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled that it was not budget related, which ruling was, frankly probably correct.

That allowed Republicans to filibuster the question.

Which they did.

Although seven Republicans voted with Democrats to cap the price of insulin — Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Josh Hawley (MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), John Kennedy (LA), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Dan Sullivan (AK) — it wasn’t enough to break the filibuster.

Insulin, by the way, is primarily used by Type 1 diabetics, and is essential to keeping them alive. The drug was invented in 1922 (1922!) by three scientists working out of the Connaught Laboratories in Toronto, Canada. The patent on that sucker expired a long time ago.

So this is not a recently developed medication.

The pharmaceutical industry claims that capping the price of insulin will stifle pharmaceutical innovation. This is so much bullshit, and we all know that it’s so much bullshit. The pharmaceutical industry is awash in money, and we know this because, if you watch the nightly news — and yes, I realize that is something that old people do — four out of five advertisements are for pharmaceutical products.

Also, the price of insulin here is four, five or ten times the cost of insulin in other countries.

Voting against a cap on the price of insulin means that you really just don’t give a crap about the welfare of your constituents.

In the last couple of weeks Republicans have voted against veteran’s health care and against capping the price of insulin.

Maybe they don’t really want to win the midterms after all.

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Give Biden a nice win before the August recess.

Our President, Joe Biden, has been suffering from low approval ratings over the last year, mostly for things he has no responsibility for. Like the price of gas. Or inflation. Or that Joe Biden and Kyrsten Sinema adamantly refuse to make any changes in the filibuster.

But this week has finally been a good week for Uncle Joe. First, Chuck Schumer has apparently been engaging in some secret negotiations with Joe Manchin, who apparently got some blowback from his colleagues for being the only one standing in the way of moving forward Biden’s agenda. Then Sinema — whose endgame is often mysterious and unclear — also got on board.

This is all part of a spending bill, and therefore not subject to the filibuster, under the Senate’s obscure rules with respect to budget reconciliation.

Majority Leader Schumer, D-N.Y. called the Senate into a rare Saturday session, so they could get this done before the August recess.

Somewhat shockingly — as in not shocking at all — Republicans are united against the bill. They claim that the spending will make inflation worse, and that the provisions on health care will hamper pharmaceutical innovation.

  • Initially, this is a watered-down version of the “Build Back Better Act.” As such, most of the revenue-generating provisions of prior proposals have been eliminated, with the exception of the corporate alternative minimum tax. A new provision closing the carried interest loophole, has been added to the latest proposal.
  • It resurrects the Corporate Alternative Minimum Tax which was eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017, in a slightly altered form.
  • It closes the “carried interest loophole” that has allowed favorable tax treatment to managers of hedge fund and certain other private equity funds.
  • It invests in IRS service to close the service’s “tax gap” (which is the difference between what should be collected what is actually collected by the IRS).
  • It allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and caps out-of-pocket costs at $2,000.
  • It also extends certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act having to do with expansion of affordability percentages used in calculating the premium tax credit.
  • It provides or extends substantial tax credits having to do with various aspects of green energy, including (1) a credit of .3¢ per kilowatt-hour for energy produced from a zero-emission nuclear power facility; (2) a credit for sustainable aviation fuel sold or used; and (3) a credit for the production of clean hydrogen after 2022.

In other words, it’s complicated.

As these kind of bills always are.

What is not included, most notably, is an extension of the COVID-era expansions of the child tax credit and earned income tax credit. Finally, it also does not include changes to the business interest expense deduction or any of the proposed changes for international taxpayers that were included in the Build Back Better Act the House passed in 2021.

All in all, this is a big Biden win, and should be acknowledged as such.

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The Hullabaloo about Nancy Pelosi visiting Taiwan is really misplaced

Nancy Pelosi’s decision to visit Taiwan as part of her Asia tour created quite the hullabaloo. Especially in China.

Why did she decide to visit Taiwan?

Honestly, don’t know.

It wasn’t really explained in all the news coverage, including why Pelosi is in Asia in the first place. Pelosi may not survive her speakership past November — she might resign from Congress at that point in time — so maybe this was kind of a last hurrah for her.

In any case, China is still obsessed with Taiwan, the island province that broke away from China during their post-WWII Civil War, and became its own republic in 1949.

Yup, 1949.

That’s almost as long as the state of Israel has been in existence, which declared it’s independence in 1948.

That’s 73 years ago.

That’s older than I am, and I’m pretty old.

That’s like three generations.

At some point you might think that the Chinese regime would just accept that they’re not getting Taiwan back.

Just like at some point you might think that Vladimir Putin might understand that the Ukrainians are not Russians, and most of them don’t want to become part of Russia.

I mean, it’s not exactly like the Chinese could execute a sneak attack on Taiwan, given that the island is over 100 miles from the mainland. So the Chinese cannot do what the Russians did, which is to simply amass troops on the border, and then jump across the border unannounced.

They can saber-rattle and conduct provocative military exercises, but what are they actually going to do?

Over the last couple of days they wasted millions of dollars in a faux phallic exercise by firing a bunch of missiles into the ocean all around the island.

Well, there was a good use of resources!

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Kansas voters soundly reject a proposal to strip them of abortion rights

Of all the things that I wasn’t expecting, having Kansas voters resoundingly defeat a Constitutional amendment that would have stripped them of protections for abortion rights would have been near the top of my list of unexpected things.

That’s right, folks, voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have said there was no right to an abortion.

And it wasn’t even close.

At last count it was 534,134 votes (58.8%) turning down the constitutional amendment, and only 374,611 votes (41.2%) in support.

In Kansas.

The state about which Thomas Franks wrote the 2004 classic, “What’s the Matter with Kansas.”

That state.

This is a potentially huge boon for Democrats. It means that women voters (and their male allies) actually care about abortion rights. And are willing to come out and vote on it.

“Leave it to the states,” the conservative pundits said. Okay, they did in Kansas, and the voters came back with a resounding decision.

This obviates the need to have to worry about what conservative legislators in Kansas would have done — it almost certainly wouldn’t have been good — and allowed the people to decide.

The anti-abortion movement is now like the dog that catches the car.

It’s not going to be pretty.

Let this be a clarion call to all Democratic voters, young, old, male and female, and the independents who actually care about bodily autonomy (and not just in an “I don’t want to get vaccinated” kind of way) to let their voices be heard in November.

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It really is something when Republicans vote against health care for Veterans

Republicans have been fairly notorious for trumpeting their support for veterans and the military, and using that support as a cudgel against Democrats. So what to make of the decision of 25 Republican Senators to oppose a bill that would provide health care and benefits for millions of veterans injured by exposure to toxins, from Agent Orange in Vietnam to burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Known as the PACT Act, the bill would allow veterans to get medical coverage for certain ailments without having to prove that their illness was caused by toxic exposures suffered in the military. It had been hailed as the largest expansion of care in VA history.

The most charitable explanation seemed to be that — with Biden having just gotten a big win by virtue of Joe Manchin’s compromise on issues related to climate change and health care — that Republicans did not want to give Biden another win.

Really, Republicans?

Jon Stewart — who previously had to shame Congress into acting on the 9/11 First Responders legislation — had to go back to the barricades and start shaming Senators again.

Jon Stewart!

The man is a fucking comedian, not a professional advocate or policy wonk.

Oh, there were “budgetary gimmicks” in the bill, according to Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky).

Not more so than had been true when the bill easily passed the Senate by an 84-14 vote in June. Or than has been part of literally thousands of pieces of other legislation.

So I hope people remember this when Republicans, inevitably, next wrap themselves in the flag and profess to everyone how they support veterans and the military more than Democrats.

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Thank God for small victories: Steven Bannon convicted of contempt.

Well, thank God for small victories: last Friday, a federal jury convicted former Trump political adviser Steve Bannon on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress. The charges were for both failing to show up to testify and for failing to turn over requested documents. He claimed he was barred from appearing because Trump had asserted executive privilege (even though Bannon had not been a member of Trump’s administration at the time).

Bannon had sought to delay his contempt of Congress case case, making a last-minute offer to testify before Congress in a public hearing. His offer did not address the panel’s demand for documents.

Let’s not forget, this is the same Steve Bannon who has already been previously pardoned by Trump at the end of his Presidential term. Bannon had previously been indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, stemming from his use of a non-profit group that he ran to make payments to himself and his colleagues, despite promises to donors that their contributions would go to “build the wall.”

Surprisingly, for his contempt trial, Bannon chose to put on no defense at all. Bannon has previously said that he wants to testify publicly (which it appears Trump is now in support of) because he believes that he can change the narrative being developed by the January 6 Committee.

Bannon is clever, no doubt about it. But maybe not as clever as he thinks. It’d be interesting to watch Bannon being questioned by Constituti0nal law professor and Committee Rep. Jamie Raskin.

In any case, sentencing is in October. I guess we’ll see what happens by then.

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In Maryland, the Democratic Governor’s Association supported an extreme Republican

There was an interesting article on NPR about the Governor’s race in Maryland, where first-term state representative and “big lie” promoter Dan Cox won the Republican primary to face Democrat Wes Moore, 43, who would be the first black Governor of Maryland if elected.

Maryland has about twice as many Democrats as Republicans, so in order to win, a Republican has to win the overwhelming majority of independents and take a chunk out of the Democratic electorate. The outgoing moderate Republican Governor was able to do that, twice. According to recent polling data, about 84% of Democrats would not consider supporting Cox in this general election, so he has his work cut out for him.

In this race the Democratic Governors Association spent more than $1 million running ads touting Cox’s record supporting Trump, abortion restrictions and gun rights. It’s a strategy — to boost extreme Republicans that the Democrats think are beatable — that is risky. But it’s not the first time that it’s been tried this year.

For the record, the Democrats say the ads were designed to be attack ads so that they’re starting the general election fight early, but that would only make sense if they could be certain that Cox would be the winner of the Republican primary.

Moore, his Democratic opponent, has worked both in the private and non-profit sectors, and was most recently the CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation, a national anti-poverty organization. He has received strong support from Oprah Winfrey, among others.

In any case, we’ll soon see how this strategy of promoting extreme Republicans works out in the long run.

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