Another Corrupt Pol

Bad Bibi:

Israeli police recommend two charges of bribery against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, local media reported Tuesday.

The recommended indictment is a result of a 14-month investigation into allegations that the prime minister committed “fraud, breach of trust, and bribes.”

Netanyahu stands accused of accepting over $100,000 in gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and others. Netanyahu also allegedly asked for positive news coverage by an Israeli publication in exchange for hurting its rival, a free pro-Netanyahu daily.

“He tried to strike a deal that would have provided him with positive coverage in Israel’s second largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for hurting its free rival, Israel Hayom,” Haaretz reported.

“The publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes, will also be charged, as will Arnon Milchan, who allegedly provided Netanyahu with gifts,” the newspaper added. “Netanyahu will address the public in a live broadcast at 8:45 P.M.”

We’ll see if this amounts to anything, and it could be a guide to how to handle Trump should he ever be charged.








The Government Shutdown Explained from the Perspective of Someone Who is Sick of This Fucking Bullshit

It’s almost impossible to understand what is going on in the shutdown debate because there are so many moving pieces and it has been so over complicated by throwing in DACA and SCHIP. So let’s break it down.

On the Republican side, you have multiple different groups.

1.) You have the crazy people and criminally uninformed like the President and Matt Gaetz.
2.) You have the certified sociopaths like the House Freedom Caucus and Ted Cruz.
3.) You have the racists like Steve King.
4.) You have the people who just like to hurt people like Tom Cotton and Mitch McConnell.
5.) You have the people who like to pretend to govern and love an easy rub and tug from a foolish media, but if given the opportunity will join the previous four groups, like McCain, Graham, Collins, Flake, Sasse.
6.) You have the people who will just do whatever they think is best for them, but in the process do what actually hurts them the most, like Marco Rubio.

On the Democratic side, you have:

1.) the good governance/bipartisanship fetishists like Manchin, Heitkamp, etc.
2.) House Minority Leadership who is just trying to keep this shit together
3.) and the group I most relate to which is the “Fuck you Trump and Republicans I am going to hold you down and pummel you as hard and as often as I can I don’t trust a fucking thing you do and I am so over your fucking bullshit” like our beloved Great Aunt Maxine of the Immaculate Eyeroll.

Out of those groups, you have to somehow cobble together a spending bill. This should be no problem, but the Republicans want to pass a spending bill that is so awful that it will get no Democratic support, so they have to do it alone, but it is also not awful enough for the House Freedom Caucus and folks like Cotton and Cruz, and this is further complicated by the fact that no matter what they put together, Orange Julius Caesar is too fucking stupid to understand it and rnadomly spews nonsense on twitter, disrupting whatever progress the sociopaths are currently working on. It’s basically a bad heist movie where they should be able to get away with a clean steal, but are too busy tripping over each other’s dicks and it ends up like the end of Reservoir Dogs.

Further complicating matters are two issues that, if brought up by themselves, would pass with overwhelming support. Clean DACA and SCHIP bills would both pass tomorrow if introduced. But the Republicans won’t do that, because they know how awful their priorites are, so they have taken Dreamers and sick kids hostage because they think they can peel off some Democratic support. The problem is, part of the Republican heist team doesn’t care if the hostages live. So while they’ve got a gun to the head of kids and the dreamers and are backing out of the bank saying “don’t fuck with me or I’ll shoot,” the Steve King crowd and the House Freedom Caucus are trying to figure out a way to shoot the Dreamers and sick kids while still getting out of the building with the loot.

So that’s why we are where we are.








There Needs to Be a Reckoning

A simultaneously fascinating and horrible piece in Vanity Fair on the last days of Harvey Weinstein that includes this gem:

But as Weinstein saw that his time and his options were running out, he began to scramble. And as revealed here for the first time, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Weinstein and a coterie of loyalists—according to a dozen current and former T.W.C. employees and Weinstein advisers, as well as the initial findings of an internal company investigation—would allegedly spend his last days at the company searching for and trying to delete documents; absconding with others; surveilling ex-employees’ online communications; and seeking to discover who, in the end, had orchestrated his downfall.

Imagine being such a horrible person that you wake up in the morning with the goal of destroying people to defend a serial rapist. A few people are named (Frank Gil), but before this is all over, there needs to be a real reckoning. WHo were the people who brought these women to his hotel knowing what he would do to them? Who were the people who cleaned up the messes? All of them need to be named, shamed, and prosecuted where applicable.








Do Not Let Me Hear Of The Wisdom Of Old Men

 

Donald Trump’s North Korea tweet was obvious enough that the instant responses to it included the word “dick-measuring” and the thought that he probably can’t find the button. It is becoming more and more obvious that he is indeed the WYSIWYG president. “There is no wizard behind the curtain — just an old, angry, obnoxiously ignorant man.”

The world is changing fast – away from the assumed preference for old white men. Even when their privilege was intact, within their value system they had a lot to be angry about. First, the physical decline. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to keep weight off, more difficult to maintain muscle tone. Joints begin to ache. Men’s sexual abilities decline starting at around age 20. There’s some cognitive decline; reflexes slow down.

Additionally, society keeps changing. People of color, women, people whose sexuality differs from cis-het all are being legitimated. Some are taking prominent jobs away from their rightful owners, those cis-het white men. Read more



Obviously This Election is a Fraud Because Blah People Voted

That’s the sum total of Roy Moore’s lawsuit that was filed to block the certification of Doug Jones:

Republican Roy Moore filed a lawsuit to try to stop Alabama from certifying Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the U.S. Senate race.

The court filing occurred about 14 hours ahead of Thursday’s meeting of a state canvassing board to officially declare Jones the winner of the Dec. 12 special election. Jones defeated Moore by about 20,000 votes.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the complaint filed late Wednesday that he believed there were irregularities during the election and said there should be a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

This is special:

One of the experts Moore cites is Richard Charnin, who says the probability that the election results are accurate is “less than one in 15 billion.” Charnin runs a blog devoted to “JFK conspiracy and systemic election fraud analysis,” and is known for pushing dubious voter-fraud claims, like that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election from John Kerry, Bernie Sanders is the rightful winner of the 2016 Democratic primary, and President Trump actually beat Hillary Clinton in the popular vote, not just the Electoral College.

Alabama officials have repeatedly said they found no evidence of voter fraud, and President Trump acknowledged that Moore lost on election night. It’s unclear when a judge will consider Moore’s complaint, but Alabama secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican who voted for Moore, seemed confident that nothing will come of it.

It will be fun watching this unfold because the legal community in Alabama fucking hates Moore.



Apropos Of Not Much

So I read the latest over at Talking Points Memo on the slow-rolling Republican “moderate” cave on the tax bill to Trump and the GOP’s I Got Mine/Tongue-Bath-A-Billionaire Caucus.  That led me to a Twitter rant born of despair and rage.

The TL:DR is that dominant-power decline has happened before, will happen to whoever comes next, and is well underway now.  None of this is new; none original.  It just bubbled up, and as misery loves company, I give you a slightly edited version of the rant below.

As the GOP prepares to transfer wealth up and gut national finances in the process, it’s worth reflecting a little on national power. US predominance is no law of nature. It emerged in specific historical circumstances, & it will erode (is eroding) within its historical moment.

Trump and GOP actions are powering that decline, from gutting US diplomacy to abandoning soft power/trade alliances to an over reliance on the trappings of military power on the international security side to an attack on the US’s domestic capacity to solve problems, propel economic growth, and secure good lives for the great mass of its people.

The attack on universities that is both part of GOP rhetoric and built into the tax bill, for example is an attack both on civic life (in the form of engaged and critical-thinking citizens) and on the dollars and sense of economic life. Universities are where research happens, ideas turn into companies and all that. Whack them and we become not just dumber, but poorer too.

More decline follows as the basic sequence of life gets made harder for more people. CHIP follies are making pregnancy and childhood more wretched and even deadly. Ongoing assaults on the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare do the same for all of us and if/when the GOP passes its tax bill, most Americans will see taxes and deficits go up, threatening Social Security and everyone’s old age.

This kneecapping of American well-being and power extends across the policy spectrum.  Crapping on the environment isn’t just a matter of not hugging trees.  Just ask the citizens of Flint, MI if bad water is just an aesthetic loss. Recall the LA of my childhood and consider whether air pollution is just a matter of obscured views and great sunsets, etc.

All of these (and many more) domestic policy choices actually make us poorer, as individuals and as a nation. One more example: we already have crappier infrastructure than many of our national competitors. Among much else, that means it can take us longer to get to work — which is both an individual cost and and a net weakening of the US economy as a whole.

These are hidden taxes, charges we pay not in cash, but in our ability to choose how to spend our lives. That cuts US productivity as a matter of GDP, and our contentment as a matter of GHQ (Gross Happiness Quotient) (I made that up. I think.)

None of this means American will (necessarily) collapse entirely. It just means we will be less well off and, in the context of national power, less able to act in the world as a whole. We won’t be able to afford as much (see Britain, post 1918), and…we will — we already — find ourselves with less moral capital, less ability to persuade and encourage fidelity and emulation abroad. (Again, see Britain, post 1918).

There’s real danger ins such decline.  See Putin’s post Soviet Russia for one approach to the loss of economic, military and ideological/moral power.

In that context, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Trump, backed by the GOP, launch into a second war of choice in an as many decades, with similarly awful consequences.

But, that said, even though nations find it hard enough just to muddle through a relative decline in international stature, the world goes on, in somewhat different order. That’s happening now. We can’t really stop it.

We do have a choice though — we can accept a relative decline that still has the US eagerly pursuing a rich and just future…

Or we can dive further the implications of the current GOP program, and watch as our politics become yet more of a zero sum game in which those with the most grab all the crumbs they can, leaving the rest of us to our own devices, while US power dwindles.

And that, by way of the long road home, leads me here: Trump’s GOP* is a fundamentally anti-American party. It is working as hard as it can to deliver wealth and power to a small constituency to the detriment of our national interest. That’s how an organized crime ring acts, not a party of government.

And with that….this thread.  It is open.

*And it is his party, or, if you prefer, he’s the predictable face of what that party has long been becoming.

Images: J. W. M. Turner, The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up1839.

after Hieronymous Bosch, The Hay Wain (central panel of a tryptich), between 1510-1520.



He Has Reached Rock Bottom, And Has Started To Dig*

In case you had any question as to just how skeevy — more, how fundamentally grotesque — was and is Roy Moore, here’s his reasoning on why sodomizing a child does not constitute “forcible rape”:

The Alabama Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear the case of one Eric Lemont Higdon, a man accused and convicted of two sodomy charges due to sexual assault against a four-year-old at Mama’s Place Christian Academy in Clay, Alabama.

 

Higdon had been convicted of both sex with a child under twelve years old, statutory rape, and of “first-degree sodomy by forcible compulsion” which requires that the victim face a threat, overt or implied, of  “serious physical injury.” That second forcible rape charge was overturned on appeal, and the question that Moore and his fellow state supreme court justices faced was whether that appellate decision was correct.  Almost all of the court had no problem working that one out:

Eight of the nine justices on the panel found that the appeals court had erred. Their legal logic was such that a 17-year-old’s sexual assault of a four-year-old was enough to produce in the mind of the four-year-old, an “implied threat of serious physical injury.”  The decision was reversed and remanded and Higdon’s conviction was reinstated.

Who dissented? That godly man Moore, of course:

“Because there was no evidence in this case of an implied threat of serious physical injury…or of an implied threat of death, Higdon cannot be convicted of sodomy in the first degree “by forcible compulsion.”

Four Years Old.

No implication of serious physical injury when a seventeen year old assaults a pre-schooler.  I wanted to put that last more bluntly, but I can’t. My stomach turns itself into a Klein bottle when I try.

What kind of man do you have to be to conceive of the scene between that youth and that little child and see no threat?

Roy Moore is not who we thought he was.  He’s much, much worse — and anyone who rises to his defense shares in his stain.

*From this time-honored list of British military fitness reports.  My favorite has always been “I would not breed from this Officer” — which, according to my uncle, a career man in the Royal Artillery, was known to refer to a fellow from a Guards regiment.  Posh don’t mean smart.

Image:  Diego Velasquez, Las Meninas1656-7.

This picture is not, perhaps, precisely on point with this post, but it knows the chords and is, in any case, a simply magnificent painting.