Incredible! A Republican held accountable?

I know it’s hard to believe, but George Santos has been expelled from congress.

By a vote of 311-114, the House voted to expel Santos, with 206 Democrats and 105 Republicans voting for expulsion, and two Democrats and 112 Republicans voting against it. This was just the sixth time in U.S. history that the House has expelled one of its own and the first time the House has done so without a criminal conviction, though Santos doesn’t dispute that he lied about most of his resume. (He does, however, dispute that he broke the law, despite the 23 criminal counts against him and substantial evidence in his indictment—as well as an Ethics report released two weeks ago—that detailed a number of alleged legal violations.)

As members voted on Santos’ removal, the serial fabulist was in and out of the chamber, at one point leaving, and then reappearing with his coat draped over his shoulders to watch the finally tally and shake hands with certain members.

It is revealing, though, that lying on your CV and misappropriating campaign funds can get you expelled, but enabling pedophiles and committing statutory rape, as people like Jordan and Gaetz have done, doesn’t even get you a slap on the wrist, and the ethical standards of the Supreme Court are a joke. It’s the money that matters.

It could have been worse

News from the Florida GOP:

Christian Ziegler, Florida’s GOP chairman and husband of Sarasota County School Board member and Moms of Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, is under criminal investigation after a woman filed a complaint with the Sarasota Police Department alleging the longtime Republican official had raped her, according to a heavily redacted police report obtained by the Florida Trident.

The complaint was filed on October 4 and the alleged sexual battery occurred inside the woman’s home in Sarasota on October 2, according to the report. Among the few words that went unredacted in the report are “rape” and “sexual assault complaint.”

The woman, according to sources close to the investigation, alleged that she and both Zieglers had been involved in a longstanding consensual three-way sexual relationship prior to the incident. The incident under investigation by Sarasota police occurred when Christian Ziegler and the woman were alone at the woman’s house, without Bridget Ziegler present, the sources conveyed.

At least this time, everyone involved was a full-grown adult.

We have a bigoted billionaire shortage

Oh no! The Republican party’s coffers are low in cash because people don’t want to donate to them!

The Republican National Committee disclosed that it had $9.1 million in cash on hand as of Oct. 30, the lowest amount for the RNC in any Federal Election Commission report since February 2015. That compares with about $20 million at the same point in the 2016 election cycle and about $61 million four years ago, when Trump was in the White House.

The Democratic National Committee reported having $17.7 million as of Oct. 30, almost twice as much as the Republican Party, with one year before the election.

This shouldn’t be surprising. The party is in disarray, they have an uninspiring field of candidates, and they’ve got Mr Polarizing Asshole himself, Donald Trump, waiting in the wings and making a lot of noise. If I were a Republican, I’d either be waiting cautiously with little confidence that the Republicans can win, or I’d be a frenetic lunatic throwing my money at some random bozo who promised to pander to my biases. It’s not a good situation for coherent campaigning, and the Republicans know it.

In an interview, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that donors are currently more focused on giving to individual candidates during the presidential primary and that the party’s fortunes will improve once there’s a nominee.

“I think there’s more donors just fully committed to their candidate right now, saying I am all in, and once the nominee is set, I’ll be there. That’s what I hear more than anything. And they’re really solidly in the camps of their candidate, which is normal,” McDaniel said. “There’s nothing unusual about this, because they know that once their candidate gets in that we will merge and that we’ll be working together to win the White House.”

Yeah, right. Once they go eeny-meeny-miney-mo and pick Ramaswamy, or Desantis, or Haley, the donors will come flocking. None of those candidates are going to thrill the electorate. Maybe Trump would fire up some segment, but the MyPillow guy is pretty much broke and won’t be cutting them a big check.

Also, they have to worry that if it is Trump, he has a different plan about what to do with the money.

Crypto is disintegrating before our eyes

Just a bit crooked

Good news! Changpeng Zhao, Sam Bankman-Fried’s brother-by-another-mother, just got slapped with a $50 million fine and was forced to resign, while his company, Binance, was fined $4.3 BILLION.

Court papers filed by the government say that Binance chose not to implement anti-money laundering measures, essentially allowing the firm to become a clearinghouse for all manner of illicit financial transactions. Between 2018 and 2022, that led to nearly $900 million in financial transactions that violated sanctions against Iran, the court papers charge.

In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission came after Binance and Coinbase, another crypto exchange, asking Binance to freeze all assets on its U.S. platform and accusing Coinbase of acting as a securities exchange, broker and clearing agency.

The plea deal is the latest victory in the Securities and Exchange Commissions’s effort to rid bad crypto actors from the United States, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond.

Wait, how do you tell a bad crypto actor from a good one? Is it because the latter doesn’t exist?

He was dressed in every red flag

Look at this guy. Phillip Fisher Jr.’s CV is like his destiny was predestined.

• Pastor

• Republican ward leader

• Trump supporter

• Campaigner for Mehmet Oz

• Faith coordinator for Moms for Liberty

Are you surprised by this little revelation?

Fisher was convicted in 2012 for aggravated sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy, with the charging documents saying that Fisher, then 25, engaged and oral and anal sex with the boy.

It’s as if extremist right-wing groups are magnets for pedophiles.

He repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and called his conviction “one blip” in his background. He blamed it all on a dispute about his trying to break away from the LaRouche organization, and said the 14-year-old boy and his parents were part of that group.

“One blip.” He has a spotless record, except for that one time he put his penis in a 14 year old boy. Got it.

Besides, he was framed.

“It was a political situation that happened between me and Lyndon LaRouche,” Fisher said. “It was a member of his camp, his party, that made the accusation. They pushed it through. It was really a railroad job.”

Ew, ick. He was a LaRouchie? Unforgivable.

Moms for Liberty really needs to vet their volunteers more thoroughly.

Yay! The Supreme Court has a code of conduct! Sorta.

Finally! The Supreme Court has been acting like a troop of freebooters, running loose and without any ethics to limit their greed, but now in a surprise announcement, they have released a set of rules they’re supposed to follow.

The absence of an ethics code has given the impression “that the Justices of this Court, unlike all other jurists in this country, regard themselves as unrestricted by any ethics rules,” said the statement, signed by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and his eight colleagues. “To dispel this misunderstanding, we are issuing this Code, which largely represents a codification of principles that we have long regarded as governing our conduct.”

Except…there’s nothing there. They wrote down a set of things that general public expects would limit the behavior of justices, but they’re so vague that they don’t do much to regulate any constraints — they’re so wide open that they ultimately let individuals do whatever they feel like.

An unsigned “commentary” accompanying the code indicates that justices will continue to make their own decisions about recusals and speaking engagements. It says justices should “consider whether doing so would create an appearance of impropriety in the minds of reasonable members of the public.”

The code does not squarely confront questions about lavish trips and gifts that some justices have received from billionaire friends, or questions about recusals.

I get it. “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules,” to quote the movie pirate Hector Barbossa. It’s got no teeth.

Supreme Court justices stung by controversies over the court’s ethics pledged Monday to follow a broad code of conduct promoting “integrity and impartiality,” but without a way to enforce its standards against those who fall short.

I think we need to stop thinking of Supreme Court justices as in any way trustworthy. To quote another movie pirate, Jack Sparrow, they’re all thinking “I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly, it’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly stupid.”

Fair enough. I trust the Supreme Court justices to be dishonest thieves. It’s unfortunate, though, that none of them have any swashbuckling charisma to compensate.

Another good sign

Moms for Liberty, that horrible collection of hateful Karens, made a big push in yesterday’s election to take over more school boards. It didn’t go well for them.

Moms for Liberty, the right-wing “parental rights” group advocating a hardline anti-woke agenda in America’s schools, had a rough night in Tuesday’s elections for school board seats around the country.

The organization, considered an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, endorsed scores of candidates in school districts in several states from Alaska to North Carolina. But the group’s record backing book bans, opposing racially inclusive lessons in classrooms, and pushing anti-LGBTQ messages seemingly failed to connect with voters in multiple ballots.

Pennsylvanians didn’t like them.

A “voter guide” from the group earlier this year recommended candidates in five districts but stressed that the messaging was “not an official endorsement.” All five of the Republican candidates in Central Bucks—which has been roiled for years by culture war rows—were included in the guide. But after Tuesday’s vote, the district’s school board was swept by Democrats who won five seats.

Pennridge, another school district in Bucks County, was also closely watched. The GOP-led school board made headlines in July after a curriculum consultant it hired likened his work to a fox in a henhouse during a Moms for Liberty summit in Philadelphia, reportedly telling attendees he wanted to remake schooling for “our side.”

On Tuesday, all five of the school board’s open seats went to Democrats. According to WFMZ, the rejected Republican candidates ran under the name “Protect Pennridge” and had advocated a policy requiring kids to use restrooms and play on sports teams which aligned with their biological sex.

This was a nation-wide phenomenon. Being endorsed by Moms for Liberty was the kiss of death.

But losses also mounted in other states. As of Wednesday morning, three of four candidates endorsed by the group were trailing in their races in Loudoun County, Virginia, where Democrats were projected to hold the board. MfL candidate Michael Rivera lost by 6 percentage points after all votes had been counted, while endorsed candidate Chris Hodges lost his race to a Democrat. Joe Smith narrowly lost out by just 174 votes. Deana Griffiths, another MfL endorsed candidate, was ahead by a single percentage point in her race in the Ashburn District.

Here in Minnesota, voters also did a good job of kicking them out.

In Minnesota, all four candidates put forward by MfL were wiped out in the race for the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District. None of them managed to attract double-digit support, with voters predominantly favoring three incumbents and one newcomer to the school board.

Huh. Who knew that hating gay and trans people wasn’t a winning position in elections?

We survived another election day!

The last big election I followed intensely was in 1980, Reagan vs. Carter. I stayed up late with a group of friends, watching the returns into the early hours of the morning, cheering at every fleeting sign of hope and groaning at the stupidity of the electorate. I learned my lesson. Vote, then turn off the TV and the radio and wait for the official results, because cheerleading does nothing but drain your emotional resources dry.

We had a lesser election yesterday, but there were still issues that mattered in other states than my own, so I ignored the minutiae of the pointless news coverage and waited until today to find out if my cynical half was going to be grimly validated, or my optimistic half was going to see glimmerings of promise. I seem to be seeing good news today.

Here’s a newspaper summary:

  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) turned aside a challenge from Trump-backed state Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) relatively easily in a red state.
  • Ohio became the latest red-leaning state to vote in favor of abortion rights on the ballot — and by a large margin. It passed Issue 1, enshrining the right to abortion into the state constitution. The pro-abortion-rights position has now won on all seven state ballot measures since Roe v. Wade was overturned in mid-2022. Turnout was also strong in Ohio, suggesting this issue continues to animate voters.
  • Democrats not only avoided a potential GOP takeover of Senate in much-watched Virginia, but they actually flipped the state House, taking full control of the legislature.

Yeah, I’ll take it.

The most promising outcome from my perspective is that Republicans remain shackled to their regressive anti-woman views on reproductive rights, and it’s dragging them down. Those are ideas that only win them votes in radically religious districts, and we can only hope that electorate becomes less relevant, as they also seem to be distracted by the shiny baubles of MAGA and conspiracy theories. As Amanda Marcotte explains,

But Republicans aren’t quite powerful enough, yet, to ban abortion without ever having to answer to the voters over it. Ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, voters have repeatedly expressed their outrage at the polls. Not only do people turn out to back ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights, Democrats who run on the right to choose have been overperforming at the polls. It’s one reason some observers feel that, despite President Joe Biden’s poor poll numbers now, he has a good chance of winning in 2024.

In response, Republicans haven’t backed off their anti-choice views. Instead, the’ve tried to bamboozle the voters into thinking that Republicans aren’t as radical as they really are. Republicans have played word games, hoping that by rebranding with terms like “pro-baby” or bullying journalists into using the “limits” instead of “bans,” they could somehow trick people into not noticing their rights are being stripped.

Tuesday’s election showed voters are not fooled.

Overall, the election was a solid reminder that voters may be confused on issues from the economy to labor rights, but on one thing, they are quite clear: They do not like abortion bans. And they keep making that view known at the polls.

Don’t get cocky, though! The anti-woman, anti-equality bloc still exists, is still loud, and still gets absurdly over-funded by privileged billionaires. We have to keep fighting back against their nonsense, but these victories are encouraging.