Just a quick post to point out the obvious thing that is somehow being completely overlooked. It’s not the railroad workers who are threatening to destroy the US economy, it’s the railroad OWNERS.
Have you ever been sick? Almost certainly yes. Did you know in advance you were going to be sick? Maybe, but usually not. Did you ever miss work because you were sick? Probably. Should you be forced to go to work when you’re sick? Hell no.
Most employers allow their workers a certain number of days in which they can call in sick. Most employers would rather you stay home when you’re sick rather than come to work and either infect other workers or spend the day shuffling between your work and the toilet.
Right now, railroad workers don’t get any sick days. None. Zero. They’re allowed to take vacation days if they’re sick BUT they have schedule their vacation days in advance. That’s fine if you’re scheduling surgery (SPOILER: No, it’s NOT fine to be forced to spend your holiday having surgery, I mean Jesus suffering fuck, people), but you can’t schedule the flu or tripping and breaking your arm. Sometimes random shit just happens.
The obvious question is: Why in hell won’t railroad companies give their workers sick leave?
The obvious answer is: Greed.
Look, the railroads can afford to give their workers sick leave. There are seven major North American railway companies. Last year they had a combined net income of US$27 billion. During the pandemic, the railroad industry used the funds provided by the government to buy back about $125 billion of its own stock. These fuckers are rolling in dough.
The 115,000 railroad workers without sick leave make a decent wage or a decent salary, but they’re NOT rolling in dough. And sometimes they get sick or hurt and need a day off to go see a goddamned doctor. They ought to be able to do that without fear of losing their job or having their wages cut. Railroad work is hard, tough, often dangerous work; they deserve better than this.
The same is true of every worker. Yet there are LOTS of employers who refuse to offer paid sick leave. Most of these involve low hourly wage workers, the people who most need paid sick leave, who can least afford to take an unpaid day off work. The railway owners may be the most egregious greedheads in the news today, but about 20% of the US labor force–say about 33 million workers–don’t have access to paid sick leave. The US is the ONLY developed country that refuses to offer guaranteed sick leave.
So when you read about a possible railroad strike crippling the US economy, remember that it’s the greedy motherfuckers who own the railroads who are at fault. Not the workers.
Here’s a true thing: back in 2019, a Chinese ‘businesswoman’ named Yujing Zhang was caught wandering around Mar-a-Lago carrying some unidentified electronic equipment and two different passports. She was eventually stopped by a random receptionist.
Another true thing: a woman calling herself Anna de Rothschild showed up at Mar-a-Lago driving a $170,000 Mercedes. She visited the resort often, attended several ‘functions’, and was photographed larking about with both Sen. Lindsey Graham and Comrade Trump his ownself. We now know her name is Inna Yashchyshyn; a Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant.
These women almost certainly weren’t spies. They were probably just grifters. But the fact that they were able to infiltrate and roam around Mar-a-Lago shows how shoddy the security was. And probably still is. I’m talking about the security of the facility itself. The security of the former president is handled by the Secret Service; their only concern about the resort is how it affects Trump’s physical safety. They’re bodyguards, not counter intelligence operatives.
Here’s another true thing: we only learn about the incompetent spies, or the spies who are unlucky. We only hear about the spies who get caught. There are undoubtedly agents and assets of hostile (and friendly) foreign nations noodling around Mar-a-Lago. They’d be foolish NOT to be.
One more true thing: in October of last year–eight months after Comrade Trump moved to Mar-a-Lago–the CIA sent a cable to every single CIA station warning there had been a sudden a rash of CIA informants and assets in hostile countries (particularly China, Russia, Iran, and Pakistan) who’d been compromised, captured, arrested, or killed. It also warned that some informants and assets may have been turned, and may now be double agents. These informants and assets were vanishing in different adversarial countries at the same time, rather than a single geographical area. That suggests it wasn’t simply a local breach in security; it suggests somebody with access to high level worldwide internal CIA operations had exposed those assets and informants. The British Security Services apparently suspected there may be a ‘super mole’ in the CIA.
And still another true thing: among the many classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago were some labeled HSC-P and HSC-O. HSC refers to HUMINT Control System. Human intelligence. That’s spy stuff. HSC-P refers to the product of an intelligence operation–the stuff the spies learned. HSC-O refers to the operation itself. What the spies did (and possibly still are doing) to obtain the product.
Just to be clear, I’m NOT saying that CIA informants and assets were compromised and killed in hostile nations because 1) Mar-a-Lago is an attractive soft target for spies from hostile nations and 2) because Trump’s ignorance of and lack of concern about security issues made spying easier there, and 3) because highly classified documents pertaining to human intelligence operations were left in non-secure venues of Mar-a-Lago. Those things may NOT be linked at all.
Third, the FBI seized the cell phone of Congressman Scott Perry. This is what Perry his ownself had to say about it.
“This morning, while traveling with my family, 3 FBI agents visited me and seized my cell phone. They made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.”
Dude, c’mon; the FBI just didn’t want to give you the chance to destroy whatever evidence you probably have stashed on your phone.
Now, you may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, just who in the buttered popcorn fuck is this Scott Perry of whom you speak?” Perry is your basic MAGA fuckwit of the Pennsylvania variety. He had a successful military career, then went into business. While a businessman, he was criminally charged with conspiring to falsify state-mandated sewage records (no, I’m NOT making that up). But because he was a white corporate Republican donor, he was “allowed to complete a diversion program” which let him skate without a criminal conviction. I’m not saying his criminal history helped his political career, but PA voters went and made him a Member of Congress anyway. In Congress, he became a big hat in Comrade Trump’s attempts to steal the election. He was instrumental in the attempt to install Jeffrey Clark as Attorney General, and he was a proponent of the Dominion voting machine conspiracy theory. He was also one of the GOP members of Congress who explicitly requested a pardon after the 1/6 coup failed. (SPOILER: he didn’t get one.)
So yeah, the FBI wanted his cell phone and they didn’t want to take the chance that Perry might accidentally drop his phone in a wood chipper. I mean, they almost certainly already know what’s on his phone (that’s how they justify a search warrant), but having the instrument of criminality right in your hands is a LOT more compelling when presented to a jury in a criminal trial. So Perry, who was ignored by Trump during his Pardon-O-Rama, might feel a wee bit less loyal now. I’m sure the 1/6 Committee is anxious to chat with him. So, good times ahead.
Second, today Comrade Trump finally had to testify UNDER OATH during a deposition by the NY Attorney General, who is investigating Trump’s business practices. She’s looking into allegations of fraud. Trump TOOK THE FIFTH and refused to answer questions. Just to be clear, the Fifth Amendment can be invoked when somebody (like Trump) believes a truthful answer would incriminate them. This is a civil matter, not a criminal matter, BUT unlike a criminal case, taking the Fifth in a civil case allows a judge or jury to make the appropriate inference (SPOILER: which is that the motherfucker is guilty). So, more good times ahead.
But first, hey bingo, the FBI’s unannounced warranted search of Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, we don’t know WHY the FBI showed up and went rifling through Trump’s stuff. All we know for certain is that the FBI gave a judge enough information for the judge to believe that a specific crime had taken place, and that evidence of that crime could be found in fairly specific places in Trump’s resort/home. At this point, we don’t know what was in the affidavit supporting the search warrant. And it would be unwise for us to speculate.
LET’S SPECULATE ANYWAY!
If it was small beans–like, say, Trump or his aides had failed to return documents that rightly belonged in the National Archives–it seems likely that Trump or one of his many attorneys would release the search warrant. They have the authority to do that.
They haven’t. Which suggests to me that it’s not small beans. The fact that this happened a couple of days ago, but no reporter seems to have been able to get somebody in the FBI or DOJ to leak even a hint of the underlying crime alleged in the search warrant also, to me, suggests it’s not small beans. There IS, however, some reporting indicating that somebody dropped a dime on Trump–that somebody was aware a serious crime had happened or was about to happen.
It seems improbable (to me, at any rate) that this would be related to Trump’s attempted coup. I mean, we basically know the fact pattern of that crime, and the 1/6 Committee very likely already has all the critical documentary evidence they need. So why would the FBI feel the need to act quickly? And why isn’t Trump releasing the search warrant?
I’m speculating like a motherfucker here, BUT I’m thinking the boxes of documents the FBI seized included stuff that foreign governments would love to get their hands on. And I’m thinking Trump, being Trump, not only took classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to take, also couldn’t be bothered to keep that classified shit safe from all the MAGA assholes and foreign visitors who wander around Mar-a-Lago.
And that, oh my droogs, is a BIG fucking crime under Title 18, Chapter 37 of the US Code. And now you’re wondering, “Greg, old sock, what is this Chapter 37 bidness?” I’m about to tell you.
18 U.S. Code Chapter 37 – ESPIONAGE
This isn’t to say Comrade Trump is a spy, or even that he (or somebody near him, like, say Jared Pencilneck) is/was planning to sell classified documents. It just means that Trump possessed classified shit that didn’t belong to him, that he had no right to have in his possession, and that he wasn’t protecting it.
Again, this is just me speculating. And in the interest of honesty, I should also remind you that I also speculated that there was no way in hell that Donald Trump could ever be elected President of the United States. So my speculating record isn’t exactly stellar.
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. In other words, Comrade Trump is slouching back to Washington, DC for the first time since he skipped out on Uncle Joe Biden’s inauguration. You’re probably wondering, “Greg, old sock, why would this canker on democracy revisit the scene of his crime?”
I’m glad you asked. He’s going to be in DC to–and I’m NOT making this up–deliver a ‘policy speech.’ Stop laughing. That’s what he says he’s going to do, deliver a ‘policy speech.’ You know, a speech on policy. At the America First Policy Institute. Now you’re probably wondering, “Greg, old sock, what in the popcorn fuck is the America First Policy Institute?”
I’m glad you asked, The America First Policy Institute calls itself “a non-partisan nonprofit research institute” although it’s totally partisan and designed to grift off MAGA boneheads. It’s staffed entirely by Trump fluffers and considers itself to the the next Trump White House-in-waiting. The AFPI’s mission is “
…to advance policies that put the American people first. Our guiding principles are liberty, free enterprise, national greatness, American military superiority, foreign-policy engagement in the American interest, and the primacy of American workers, families, and communities in all we do.
You’re probably wondering, “Greg, old sock, what does that mean?” I’m glad you asked. It doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s just an amalgam of buzzwords and patriotic-sounding phrases collected in one place for the purpose of sounding like a real policy institute. The AFPI has collected “reams of research that build on the Trump administration’s successes.”
Reams, you guys. They have reams of research. You may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, just what successes did the Trump administration…uh…succeed at?” I’m glad you asked. Also, don’t ask, on account of the AFPI doesn’t really say. Instead, they encourage ‘patriots’ to sign on as co-complainants in (former) President Donald J. Trump’s class action First Amendment lawsuit against social media companies. Except that the link for ‘patriots’ to join the class action suit takes them to a fundraising page for the Constitutional Leadership Partnership, which is coincidentally staffed by the staff of the AFPI.
You may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, what policies will Comrade Trump address in his speech?” I’m glad you asked. Apparently, he’s going to talk about law and order. Trump is allegedly in favor of law and is quite fond of order. He may find time to comment on the last election as well.
You may be wondering, “Greg, old sock, will you be watching this policy speech?” I’m glad you asked.
I haven’t written here for a week or so — not because I don’t have anything to say, but because there’s SO MUCH to say. I start to write about this, which is necessarily tied into that and is deeply connected to this other thing. You can’t, for example, write about abortion without also writing about the political corruption of the Supreme Court, which means you also need to address the rising fascism of the Republican Party and the green grass grows all around, all around.
But here we are on July 4th. Independence Day, right? When we celebrate the decision by a group of colonists so fed up with a hostile government that subjected them to such “a long train of abuses and usurpations” that they felt it was necessary “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them.”
I think the operative term there is necessary. It’s from the Latin necesse (which meant ‘unavoidable’) and cedere (to withdraw, go away). Necessary, a thing from which there is no backing away. The colonists felt it was necessary to rebel against the government that oppressed them.
When we think about the Declaration of Independence, we tend to focus on the dramatic bits at the beginning. Mainly this line:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That’s powerful stuff, no mistake. Beautifully written. But we forget that the biggest chunk of the Declaration is a list of grievances — an inventory of all the shit the government of the King of England was imposing on the American colonies. That list includes stuff like:
— He has obstructed the Administration of Justice — He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices — He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us
There’s another small chunk of Declaration that gets overlooked. It’s just a paragraph that basically says, “Hey, look, we warned you guys about this. Repeatedly. We asked you nicely to knock this shit off. We have appealed to your native justice and magnanimity. But no, you fucking ignored all those warnings. You have been deaf to the voice of justice.
A lot of us today feel much as those colonists did almost 250 years ago. Instead of a tyrannical king or queen, we have to deal with a neo-fascist Republican Party. We have to deal with Republican at the state level who are actively manipulating laws to undermine the process of representative democracy. We have to deal with a Republican Supreme Court that ignores legal precedence when it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs or their political ideology. We have to deal with a former president who not only refused to accept the result of a free and fair election, but continues to foment sedition.
Those colonists had to choose — do we keep putting up with this shit, or do we act? We have to make a similar choice. We know basically what needs to be done. The Supreme Court MUST be made neutral. It MUST be returned to balance. Not a liberal Court (as much as I’d love that); just a Supreme Court that isn’t governed by any partisan ideology.
The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary document. I mean revolutionary in every sense of the term. It sparked an actual revolution, it started a shooting war. We don’t want or need that here. We don’t need to turn the world upside down — at least not at this point; we just need to put it back into balance.
But one thing is clear. If we don’t act, if we keep putting up with this shit, if we don’t start electing Democrats who are willing to make some radical but legal decisions to balance SCOTUS, if we don’t do that in the very next election, then we may never see another free and fair election in my lifetime.
I watched the Marjorie Taylor Greene Amnesia-Fest yesterday. Technically, it was an evidentiary hearing to determine if MTG should be barred from seeking re-election to Congress based on a violation of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In practice, it was MTG playing dodge-ball with the Truth, ducking any personal responsibility by claiming she couldn’t remember much of anything about anything.
You may be wondering just what in the name of the Great Bearded God of Goats is in the 14th Amendment. There’s a whole bunch of stuff in it, but the only part that MTG was fretting about was Section 3, which says this:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.
The hearing was to determine whether there is any evidence that MTG ‘engaged in insurrection’ against the United States (SPOILER: yeah, lots of evidence) and whether the evidence was enough to begin a legal proceeding to remove her from the mid-term election ballot (SPOILER: probably not, but who knows?). The entire proceeding could be boiled down to this:
Lawyer: Ms. Greene, did you do some insurrection against the US? MTG: I don’t recall.
I’ve seen a lot of trials and hearings, and I think I can say without any hesitation that MTG was a shitty witness. It wasn’t just that she was occasionally dramatic or uncooperative or snarky AF (though she often was), or that her memory was remarkably and conveniently inconsistent, it was the astonishing scope of her lack of memory that was staggering. She couldn’t remember nothing about nothing unless it meant nothing.
I wouldn’t expect her to remember every pro-insurrection tweet she made, because lawdy, she made a LOT of them. But I’m pretty sure that most folks would remember whether or not they discussed, with the President of These United States, imposing martial law on the US. That’s not the sort of thing that would slip your mind. But that was the level of her denial.
Sadly, I doubt the judge will find the evidence is sufficient to remove her from the ballot for the mid-term elections. It’s pretty clear she was lying some/many/most of the times she claimed she couldn’t recall stuff she’d done, but it’s damned difficult to prove she was lying.
At the heel of the hunt, this will probably be yet another example of a Republican lying, violating the law, and getting away with it. I suspect MTG will get to stay on the ballot and will likely be re-elected. I suspect other Republicans will learn the lesson that they can lie and get away with it.
I keep hoping that someday somebody somewhere will be held accountable for something.
A week and a half ago I wrote, “…don’t be surprised if Rittenhouse walks.” And yet, I was sorta kinda surprised. Because, c’mon…how could this ridiculous doofus illegally buy an assault-style rifle, carry it across a state line, insert himself into a volatile environment, carry it while claiming to offer medical care he wasn’t trained or qualified to give, carry it while claiming to protect property nobody asked him to protect, then using it to shoot three people, killing two of them, and NOT suffer any consequences? It just ain’t right.
But yeah, that’s basically what happened. But WHY did it happen? I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been around the criminal justice block a few times, and I have opinions. It begins with the Wisconsin law on self defense, which essentially says a person can use deadly force to defend themselves if that person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
A lot of self-defense laws, including Wisconsin’s, include an exception for provocation and/or criminal conduct. You can’t provoke an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self-defense; you can’t engage in criminal conduct that would cause an attack, then kill your attacker and claim self defense. Makes sense, right? Okay, here we go.
Wisconsin’s self-defense law states: “A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack…”
That seems pretty clear, doesn’t it. But it continues: “…exceptwhen the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant….” So the law says yeah, you CAN defend yourself if you provoke an attack, but LIMITS the amount of force you can use. You can fight back, but you can’t kill your attacker.
But wait. Again, it continues with another caveat: “…unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.” So even if you’ve provoked an attack through illegal behavior, you can only use deadly force to defend yourself after you’ve exhausted your other options for escape.
What does that mean in the Rittenhouse case? If he’d engaged in unlawful conduct that provoked an attack, he was only justified in using deadly force to defend himself IF he’d exhausted every reasonable means to escape. He DID try to run away before the second killing, but he tripped and fell, then shot Huber and Grosskreutz. That very possibly could fall under the Wisconsin self-defense law–tried to escape, but couldn’t. But in the initial killing, Rittenhouse was running away from Rosenbaum, then stopped, turned, shot and killed him. That seems likely to fall under the unlawful conduct exception, which would prevent him from using the self-defense claim. BUT ONLY if Rittenhouse was engaged in unlawful conduct. Like, say, illegally carrying a rifle.
The judge, remember, dismissed the illegal rifle charge. Which removed the unlawful conduct exception. Which meant Rittenhouse only had to feel his life was in danger to kill Rosenbaum. Hey bingo, he walks.
That’s how I see it. Again, I’m not a lawyer. My reasoning may be flawed. But that’s how I see it. It sucks. It’s wrong. It’s obscene on a number of levels. But that seems to be how the law is written.
There’s a lesson here. If you want to stop vigilante tourism, enact better laws. If you want better laws, vote for better legislators. You want better laws, prevent outside money and outside interests from influencing weak-ass greedy legislators.
Kyle Rittenhouse didn’t walk because he was innocent. He walked because of the motherfuckers who wrote Wisconsin’s self-defense law .
Here’s a headline from this morning’s Washington Post:
In wake of Bannon indictment, Republicans warn of payback
If you can read that and not wonder ‘What in the pumpkin spice fuck is wrong with these people’ then…well, I don’t know what. Just think about that for a moment. Republicans say they want payback because Steve Bannon…I mean Steve Goddamn Bannon…was indicted for refusing to obey a writ legally issued by a Congressional committee to provide testimony and produce evidence.
Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback is a casual way of saying revenge–a retaliatory act taken in response to some alleged/perceived harm or injustice. Republicans apparently feel harmed and aggrieved that the law applies to them as if they were ordinary people. They apparently feel subpoenas only matter if they’re issued by Republicans. They’re distressed to find that a subpoena isn’t a suggestion; it’s an order. If you choose NOT to abide by a subpoena, there’s a penalty.
I mean, it’s right there in the goddamn name. Subpoena–Latin sub, meaning ‘under’ and poena meaning ‘penalty’. A subpoena means you have to show up and/or produce evidence under penalty of law. This has been part of the common law since the 1380s when John Waltham, the Master of the Rolls of the Court of Chancery for Richard II, issued the very first subpoena–a writ compelling witnesses and defendants to show up for trial. We’re talking six and a half centuries of precedent here. If a subpoena was good enough for Richard II, it’s good enough for Steve Goddamn Bannon.
Payback? Fuck those guys. Payback for being expected to follow the law? Payback from Republicans for a guy who was 1) indicted for defrauding 2) Republican donors of millions of dollars 3) in a scam that was purported to help build 4) a border wall supported only by Republicans? They want payback for this guy? A guy who was eventually pardoned for that crime by a Republican president? Payback for a guy who had his Twitter account ganked for publicly calling for beheading FBI Director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci? Republicans want payback for a guy who helped foment an insurrection that put many of them personally in danger? An insurrection that included calls to hang the Republican Vice President of the United States? Republicans want payback for that guy? Fuck them. Fuck them in the neck.
And fuck the Washington Post too. It’s bad enough Republicans feel outraged and vindictive for having to obey the law, but to have WaPo act like it’s normal is an appalling act of journalistic malpractice. Just because politicians say stupid shit, journalists aren’t obligated to repeat it–to pretend it’s not stupid shit. Stupid shit is stupid and it’s shit. This is not rocket surgery.
Bannon was indicted last week for contempt of Congress, but he wasn’t arrested like an ordinary person. He was given until this morning to surrender himself for arraignment. My guess is he’ll be released on bail. And while that annoys me, it’s the right thing to do. Bannon isn’t likely to flee the country. My guess is he probably wants a trial. He’ll use it as a platform to spread more disinformation.
The thing is, this isn’t just about contempt of Congress; it’s about contempt for the very idea of representative democracy. It’s about contempt for the concept of equal justice under the law. A political party that feels justified in seeking payback for a person like Steve Bannon has abandoned the right to call itself a political party. There’s nothing ‘political’ about it. Politics, after all, is devoted to working things out. Politics is about people with different ideologies and viewpoints finding ways to compromise in an effort to benefit the greater good. Modern Republicans aren’t interested in the greater good.