The schisms in the Michigan GOP

In Sri Lankan politics, one of the tendencies was for parties to splinter and become increasingly fragmented. On the right end of the spectrum, the parties tended to split due to factions centered around individuals while on the left they tended to split along ideological lines, as factions argued that the party had failed some purity test on one or more issues. Once started on this road, further splintering occurred along new ideological fault lines, until there were many tiny leftwing parties that no longer had much influence on politics but engaged in squabbles among themselves. That left an opening for more extreme parties to fill the vacuum.

I was reminded of the latter when reading Andy Kroll’s deep dive for ProPublica into what is going on in Michigan, one of the key states that both Biden and serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) seek to win. It is a fascinating read for those who like to see how Republican politics plays out at the local level, with splintering occurring repeatedly. It is also worth following closely considering how important a role that state plays.
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Rishi Sunak’s election campaign gets off to a soggy start

The British prime minister announced that parliament will be dissolved next week and elections for a new parliament will be held on July 4th. This came as a bit of a surprise since it had been expected that he would hold off until later this year because his party is polling poorly at the moment and it was felt that more time was needed for things to improve.

As is the practice in the UK when the prime minister makes a major announcement like this, a small podium was placed outside his residence in Downing Street for him to speak. This is a quaint custom but risky in a country notorious for its rainy weather and while he was speaking there was a heavy downpour that soaked him and everyone present who did not have an umbrella. Added to that was the loud presence of perennial troller Stephen Bray who blasted out loud music from his portable device. When Boris Johnson announced his resignation, Bray blasted out Yakety Sax. Such things tend to take away from the gravitas of the situation.

Conservatives have been in power for 14 consecutive years and no doubt Labour is hoping to sweep them out, and even the Liberal Democrats are hoping to make gains at their expense.

The nice thing about UK election campaigns is that they are short, unlike in the US where they are pretty much a permanent feature of the political landscape.

Going behind the curtain at dog shows

In her review of a book by Tommy Tomlinson titled Dogland: Passion, Glory, Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show, Kathryn Schulz begins with this story.

Bernard de Menthon was born around the year 1000, near what is now the border of Switzerland and France. He was raised in a castle, given a first-class education, and, in time, affianced by his father to a noblewoman, as befit the scion of an ancient and wealthy family. By then, however, de Menthon had grown into a pious young man whose plans for the future did not include marriage. According to legend, the night before the wedding, he fled the castle by jumping out of a high window, whereupon a band of angels caught him and lowered him gently to the ground.
Ordained as a priest, de Menthon began preaching in villages throughout the region of Aosta, a territory that included a mountain pass already in use for at least a thousand years to cross the Western Alps. In de Menthon’s day, it was a popular route for Christians making the pilgrimage to Rome, but the journey was perilous. Bands of brigands routinely staked out the area to attack travellers, the pass itself was harrowing—eight thousand feet high, buried in snow, prone to avalanches—and de Menthon often found himself ministering to travellers who had been subjected to its terrors. And so, when he became the archdeacon of Aosta, he established a hospice in the pass, staffed by monks who offered aid to pilgrims venturing over the mountains.
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As expected, Trump chickens out of testifying

Serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) said that he wanted to testify at his trial but that the gag order prevented him from doing so. That was false, of course, and after the judge told him so, he said that he would testify but few believed he would have the guts to open himself up to cross-examination.

Sure enough, the defense rested their case today without him testifying. The judge scheduled closing arguments for the coming Tuesday after which the case goes to the jury.

It will be interesting to see if SSAT gives any reason for not testifying.

Wear the damn seat belt!

Turbulence in the air is one of the biggest causes in injury on airplanes and yesterday saw a dramatic example of that, when a plane dropped 6,000 feet in just three minutes.

A British passenger has died and seven people have been critically injured after a flight from London to Singapore was hit by turbulence.

Passengers onboard the Singapore Airlines plane told of a “dramatic drop” that launched those not wearing a seatbelt into the cabin ceiling.
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A big legal win for consumers

Before she became a Massachusetts US senator and while she was still an academic, Elizabeth Warren proposed the creation of a watchdog government agency that would look after the interests of consumers when it came to financial matters. That agency, known as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, became a reality in 2010 during the Obama administration in the teeth of fierce opposition from business interest and the Republican party.

The CFPB was meant to ensure that people would be treated fairly by “banks, credit unions, securities firms, payday lenders, mortgage-servicing operations, foreclosure relief services, debt collectors, and other financial companies”. In order to ensure greater independence, the legislation creating the CFPB required that it be funded through the Federal Reserve and not through annual Congressional appropriations, where it could be eliminated during the budgetary process.
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More evidence that Rudy Giuliani is an idiot

A grand jury in Arizona recommended indictments against Rudy Giuliani and 17 other people for their involvement in the fake electors scheme they concocted to try and overturn the 2020 election.

Among the defendants in the Arizona case are 11 Arizona Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring that Trump won in Arizona in the 2020 presidential election — including a former state GOP chair, a 2022 US Senate candidate and two sitting state lawmakers. The other defendants are Mike Roman, who was Trump’s director of election day operations, and four attorneys accused of organizing an attempt to use fake documents to persuade Congress not to certify Biden’s victory: John Eastman, Christina Bobb, Boris Epshteyn and Jenna Ellis.

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Agility champion

At the recently held Westminster Dog Show, a small mixed breed dog named Nimble turned in an amazing performance in the agility event.

Stephen Colbert showed the clip on his show and said that the reason the dog ran so fast was that he saw that Kristi Noem was one of the judges.

What, no more Jesus on toast?

For the longest time, Catholic churches and individuals have made money from claims of the supernatural, such as religious statues weeping or bleeding or the image of Jesus appearing on toast or in stains on walls, people claiming to have seen visions of Mary, and so on. Some of these claims were given credence by local priests and bishops.

The Catholic church has decided that this nonsense has gone too far and is exposing the church to ridicule and has decided to crack down, at least on some of the sillier claims.

Apparitions of the Virgin Mary and weeping statues have been part of Catholicism for centuries, but the age of social media has prompted the Vatican to issue a crackdown against potential scams and hoaxes.

New rules issued on Friday say that only a pope, rather than local bishops, can declare apparitions and revelations to be “supernatural”. The document, Norms for Proceeding in the Discernment of Alleged Supernatural Phenomena, updates previous guidance issued in 1978 that is now considered “inadequate”.

There was “the possibility of believers being misled by an event that is attributed to a divine initiative but is merely the product of someone’s imagination, desire for novelty, tendency to fabricate falsehoods (mythomania), or inclination toward lying”.

The new rules strip bishops of the power to recognise the “supernatural” nature of apparitions and other purportedly divine events. Instead it offers bishops six potential conclusions, ranging from nihil obstat (nothing hinders), which would allow and even encourage popular devotion, to a declaration that a phenomenon is not supernatural.

Well, there goes a great source of amusement.

Senator Robert Menendez must be really stupid

On The Daily Show, Jon Stewart looks at the corruption trial of New Jersey senator Robert Menendez and his wife Nadine on charges that in his capacity as a senator, he did favors for individuals in exchange for bribes. Officials who raised their home found gold bars and stacks of cash all over the place.

As Stewart says, this shows that Menendez is kind of stupid to indulge in this kind of cartoonish corruption when he could learn from his colleagues in Congress how to make much more money such as using their access to inside information to make highly profitable stock trades with no risk of being arrested.