Clarence Thomas is a cadger

The latest example of how the justice of the UDS Supreme Court mooches off his rich friends (and one wonders if they think of him as their friend only because of his position) is the example of the luxury motor home that he ‘purchased’ 1999 with a ‘loan’ of $267,000 (which allowing for inflation would be about $500,000 now) from a millionaire who later forgave the principal on the loan.

In the case of the luxury RV – a Prevost Marathon Le Mirage XL – Welters loaned Thomas the money in 1999. The businessman told the Times: “I loaned a friend money, as I have other friends and family. We’ve all been on one side or the other of that equation.”

But on Wednesday the Senate finance committee said it had now seen documents that showed an annual interest rate of 7.5% but no obligation to pay down the principal, only annual interest payments of $20,042. The committee also said it had seen a note from Thomas promising to abide by the terms.

“None of the documents reviewed by committee staff indicated that Thomas ever made payments to Welters in excess of the annual interest on the loan,” the panel said.

As described by the Times, when the loan came due, in 2004, Welters granted a 10-year extension “despite the fact that the previous year Justice Thomas had collected $500,000 of a $1.5m advance for his autobiography, according to his financial disclosures. Then, in late 2008, Mr Welters simply forgave the balance of the loan, according to the committee’s report.”

Thomas seems to be someone who really enjoys living the high life on other people’s money. What a sleaze.

There is a new speaker – and he is awful

Republicans finally united behind a speaker, a congressman from Louisiana named Mike Johnson. He is an election denier and checks off all the extreme right wing boxes.

There does not seem to be anything substantive that distinguishes him from all the others who tried and failed so I suspect that it was due to sheer exhaustion and embarrassment that any would-be opponents decided to swallow their reservations and vote him in. If his name had come up earlier, he would likely have been rejected.

Let’s see how he manages to run things.

A Modest Proposal

As the GOP members of the House of Representatives continue to flail around trying to find a solution to their problem with electing a speaker, they seem to be trying the same thing of having a candidate forum and selecting a nominee only to have that person withdraw because they cannot get the 217 votes needed on the House floor to win. The difference is that the time taken to find a nominee and having his candidacy collapse is getting shorter and shorter, which is progress of a sort. Late Tuesday night, they voted for Mike Johnson to be their latest nominee. He beat out the Byron Donalds in the final round by 128 to 29 with 49 not voting for either. That means that another five were not even present in the room. They will vote Wednesday morning to see whether he can get the necessary 217 votes or meet the same fate as the previous nominees and have to withdraw. That Johnson got just 129 votes does not augur well for him.

If there is yet another failure, I think they need to try something different and so I am offering a modest proposal. Despite the title of this post suggesting that it is some kind of Swiftian satire, I offer it in all earnestness as a way out of the impasse.
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It looks like déjà vu all over again

The GOP circus in the US House of Representatives keeps going on. After multiple votes for the nine candidates who had entered the race, the last person standing was Tom Emmer, the chief whip and the third in the party’s house hierarchy. (I had not realized that Emmer was first elected to congress in 2014, filling the seat vacated by that other noted nutjob Michele Bachmann.) Since the former speaker Kevin McCarthy and the next in line majority leader Steve Scalise were rejected, it was fitting that Emmer would be the next person to be unceremoniously dumped by his colleagues.

And so it appears. Emmer had 26 defections in a vote to see how many would vote for him on the floor of the house, even more that Scalise and Jim Jordan. In fact, 15 of those defectors voted for Jordan. And then serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) launched a major attack on him even though Emmer had tried groveling to SSAT. That pretty much doomed his chances and the latest reports are that Emmer has dropped out.

So now what? Does the GOP go down the list of the eight people who lost to Emmer to see if any of them is willing to be humiliated next? Do they go back to McCarthy, Scalise, and Jordan? Do they look for someone else entirely? How long before the only people left are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert? The former has been sucking up SSAT in the most disgusting fashion and the latter has shown that she is willing to ‘reach across the aisle’ with at least one Democrat. (Ha!)

All such impasses have to end some time, even if just out of exhaustion or because some catastrophe is imminent. But I just cannot see what form that ending will take with this bunch of rigid extremists with idiosyncratic obsessions that they are unwilling to let go of.

Ellis becomes the fourth to take a plea deal in Georgia

Jenna Ellis, who toured the country with Rudy Giuliani to testify before bodies with false claims about how the 2020 election was stolen from serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT), has become the fourth of the 19 people charged with conspiracy to overturn the Georgia results to take a plea deal, with terms similar to the other three.

Jenna Ellis, the lawyer for Donald Trump who was also facing criminal charges for attempted election subversion, is taking a plea deal, pleading guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

In Fulton county on Tuesday, Ellis became the fourth of 19 defendants to plead guilty as part of the wide-ranging racketeering charges into Trump and allies in the 2020 election in Georgia. Last week, both Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro pleaded guilty before their trials were to start. Scott Hall, an Atlanta bail bondsman, has also pleaded guilty.
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The Republican beauty contest

Nine Republican members of the House of Representatives will go before their party colleagues behind closed doors tonight to make their case to be the party’s nominee for speaker. Then they will vote on Tuesday for whom to nominate to be the next sacrificial lamb publicly humiliated when and if they go to the floor of the House for the vote. As far as I know, no decision has been made as to how the selection will be made. Since the McCarthy ouster debacle, there seem to be no rules governing how the party works so we can expect yet another free-for-all.

One option is, after all nine have made their case, to have a preferential ballot where each member ranks their choices one through nine. But this may be too complicated for some of them who are not exactly Einsteins when it comes to reasoning (I am looking at you, Louis Gohmert) and so they could have eight rounds of voting where after each round, the lowest vote-getter is eliminated. Or they could simply take the top vote-getter after the first round as their nominee. These would be a rational ways of going about things so we can be fairly sure that it will not happen and instead there will be chaos. The race has already degenerated into flame wars and obscene tweets.
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Is Trump showing signs of dementia?

Kevin Drum argues that serial sex offender Donald Trump (SSAT) is showing signs of steady decline in cognitive ability and gives a list of recent statements that SSAT has made in support of that claim.

September 16: Says you need ID to buy a loaf of bread. (No you don’t.)

September 18: Claims that under Biden, we would be in World War II. (World War II already happened.)

September 18: Says he beat Obama in 2016. (He beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.)

September 26: Tells a rally audience that Jeb Bush invaded Iraq. (George W. Bush led us into Iraq.)

October 8: Says Hannibal Lecter was a great actor. (Lecter was a fictional character played by the great actor Anthony Hopkins.)

October 13: Thinks Obama is currently president. (Joe Biden is the current president.)

October 14: Says Republicans “eat their young” when they attack him. (The teleprompter probably said “eat their own.”)

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Rugby World Cup final set

It will be played this coming Saturday in France between New Zealand and South Africa. The former beat Argentina quite easily in the first semi-final game but in the second England almost pulled off an upset over the highly favored South African team. In a forwards-dominated game played in rain with a slippery ball, there was a lot of kicking back and forth and England led throughout until almost the very end. With the score 15-6 in England’s favor, South Africa scored a goal ten minutes before the end to make it 15-13 and then made a difficult penalty conversion to edge England out 16-15.

You can see the highlights.

These two finalist have dominated the rugby World Cup, each of them winning three of the nine played to date, and winning all four of the most recent. I think it is good for the game when more teams win the big tournaments so while no one will think either of them unworthy of the title, it is kind of disappointing to me at least that other teams did not make the final.

One of the things that made me prefer rugby to American football is that there were so few stoppages of play. But I had not watched top-level rugby for decades before this tournament and noticed that stoppages had become much more frequent, slowing down the action. I can understand when players are injured and need tending but there seemed to be a large number of stoppages for drinks. There were also a large number of breaks for substitutions of players.

Another thing that I liked about rugby was that once the game started, it was the players who made all the tactical decisions on the field, not the coaches. But it appears that the ‘drinks breaks’ are used by coaches to send instructions to the players through the drinks carriers. In fact the referee at one point seemed to be admonishing the two teams to stop having so many drinks breaks, probably suspecting that they were being misused by the coaches.

The GOP fed the beast. Now the beast is turning on them

I have been posting a lot about the utterly chaotic search for a new speaker for the House of Representatives. This is not because that news story is so important that nothing else matters. Although the lack of a speaker and the resulting paralysis in government may well lead to a government shutdown on November 17, there are other important things going on in the world as well.

My fascination with this story is because I do not think that I have ever witnessed such a spectacular act of self-immolation by a major political party. Let us be perfectly clear. This is a completely self-inflicted party death. It was not caused by any external factors or forces. It was not caused by being routed at the polls. It was not caused by people rioting in the streets against it. What happened is as if some members of the party secretly decided to destroy the party from within and set the wheels in motion. I am not saying that that is what happened. But if it had, this is what it might have looked like.

I have to admit that I am feeling considerable schadenfreude at this implosion. The GOP has become a vehicle for hate and demonization of anyone who does not support serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) and all his lies and attacks on people. It has been waging war on marginalized groups and opposing anything that might seek to redress the legitimate grievances of anyone who does not belong to the ruling class. It has welcomed to its bosom white, right wing, xenophobic, misogynistic, transphobic, racists. Seeing it turn on itself provides a satisfying feeling akin to what one experiences in films where the bad guys, after riding high for a while, get their just deserts at the end. But that enjoyment is tinged with concern that it also shows that the state of democracy in the US is not healthy.
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Jokes that depend on iconic film scenes

(Mother Goose and Grimm)

To get the joke, you need to be familiar with the famous scene from the film TheTreasure of the Sierra Madre starring Humphrey Bogart.

To the groans of my family and friends, I never hesitate to use the line “We don’t need no steenkin’ badges” whenever the word ‘badges’ comes up in any conversation. Alas, many people have never seen the film and hence I usually just get baffled looks, similar to the reaction I get to the ‘I am Spartacus’ line.

With my immediate family, I have used the badges gag so often that even though they haven’t seen the film, they recognize the allusion. I particularly enjoy using it when the word ‘badgers’ comes up, because the pun and the absurdity of the reference is what makes it funny, to me at least.

I have the sense of humor of a six-year old.