Republicans get slapped down on gerrymandering efforts

Ever since the US Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013 that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was no longer constitutional because more than 40 years had elapsed since the law was passed, Republican controlled states had felt that they were now free to gerrymander electoral districts to minimize or even eliminate districts that had majority Black populations which were more likely to elect Democratic candidates. And they proceeded to do so, with Alabama being one of the first off the mark.

They drew a map that had just one Black majority district even though Alabama has 25% Black population. An Appeals Court rejected that map and Alabama appealed to the US Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel struck down the map last year, deciding the state could have easily drawn a reasonably configured district that gave Black voters a majority in a second district. The supreme court agreed with that determination in June, with chief justice John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh joining the three liberal justices to form a majority.

Although that verdict surprised most observers, you would think that it would have ended settled the issue. But no. Republicans drew another map that still did not have two Black majority districts. It was clear that they were trying to run out the clock, and squeeze in the 2024 election under the old map before being forced to redraw it. They were promptly sued again and the Appeals Court had had enough of Alabama’s shenanigans and scolded the state for ignoring the Supreme Court order and went even further and took away the map drawing ability from the legislature and gave it to a special master.

Alabama then sued to prevent that but today, the Supreme Court rejected that appeal so the special master will draw the map.

“It has been a long and frustrating battle holding the Alabama legislature accountable, but today it is a rewarding one,” lawyers from a coalition of civil rights groups, which represented the plaintiffs in the case, said in a joint statement. “Even after the highest court in the land sided with Black voters in June, our elected officials still chose power over people by outright defying multiple court orders and the loud cries of their constituents to do the right thing.”

In the age of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT), Republicans have become increasingly shameless in trying to ignore court rulings that go against them. Once priding themselves on being the party of law and order, they are now a party of scofflaws..

Is the enabling behavior driving Trump insane?

In the TV comedy Kim’s Convenience, there is an episode in which a mother comes with her young son into the convenience store run by Mr. Kim, a Korean immigrant who believes in being stern when bringing up his own children. The mother’s child-rearing philosophy is that one must never use the word ‘No’ with children because its stifles their creativity or something. Mr. Kim is horrified as the child runs berserk in the store, toppling racks, breaking things, and so on with the mother not able to prevent him, and when he orders the child to stop, the mother remonstrates with him for using the ‘No’ word.

I was reminded of this episode when serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) went to a tear this weekend on his social media site, issuing volleys of deranged missives on all manner of things.

Here’s one where he is urging Republicans to shut down the government unless they get all his demands.

The Republicans lost big on Debt Ceiling, got NOTHING, and now are worried that they will be BLAMED for the Budget Shutdown. Wrong!!! Whoever is President will be blamed, in this case, Crooked (as Hell!) Joe Biden! Our Country is being systematically destroyed by the Radical Left Marxists, Fascists and Thugs – THE DEMOCRATS. UNLESS YOU GET EVERYTHING, SHUT IT DOWN! Close the Border, stop the Weaponization of “Justice,” and End Election Interference – WE MUST HAVE HONEST ELECTIONS. It’s time Republicans learned how to fight! Are you listening Mitch McConnell, the weakest, dumbest, and most conflicted “Leader” in U.S. Senate history? HE’S ALREADY GIVEN THE DEMOCRATS EVERYTHING, THEY CAN’T BELIEVE HOW LUCKY THEY GOT. WE NEED NEW, & REAL, REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE, NOT A CLONE OF MITCH, & WE NEED IT NOW!!!

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Menendez is just an old-fashioned guy

New Jersey Democratic senator Robert Menendez has long been dogged by allegations that he is sleazy and in an earlier federal trial in 2017 for corruption he avoided conviction because a hung jury resulted in a mistrial. So it was not a surprise when an FBI raid on his home was conducted to find evidence of corruption. What did surprise me was what they found.

Gold bars worth more than $100,000. A new Mercedes-Benz convertible in the garage. Wads of cash stuffed in the pockets of a jacket with “Bob Menendez” embroidered on the breast.

Nearly half a million dollars in cash was found stuffed inside envelopes and stashed inside the pockets of clothing hanging in the closets of the Menendez’s home in Englewood Cliffs, including a big roll of bills in a jacket from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with Menendez’s name on it.

Fingerprints belonging to the driver of co-defendant Fred Daibes were found on at least one of the envelopes, as well as his DNA and his return address, prosecutors said. “Thank you,” Nadine Menendez texted Daibes around Jan. 24, 2022, according to the indictment. “Christmas in January.”

Patrice Schiano, a former FBI forensic accountant who is currently a lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said that’s “pretty damning.”

Today, Menendez defiantly addressed the press and his explanation of why he had these things was a doozy, that he is just an old-fashioned guy who does not trust these new-fangled things like banks and believes that you need to keep your money close to you in case of some kind of apocalpyse.

In his press conference, the senator addressed the money. “For 30 years, I have withdrawn 1000s of dollars in cash from my personal savings accounts, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba,” said Menendez, whose parents are from the island.

“Now this may seem old fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings accounts based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years. I look forward to addressing other issues in trial.”

So what exactly was he afraid of? The collapse of the banking system in the US? And how exactly are gold bars helpful in an emergency where you need to pay some urgent bills and the banks are closed, unless the emergency is that you need to flee the country?

In the 2017 trial, the evidence was less dramatic.

Prosecutors say the senator accepted more than $600,000 in political contributions, a luxurious hotel suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris, and free rides on a private jet from a wealthy ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in exchange for political favors.

Given their failure to get a conviction previously I suspect that the FBI would be determined to make sure that they have a much stronger case this time and had, before they raided the Menendez home, already explored the possibility that all this money came from his own savings accounts.

The trial should be interesting. I look forward to other tips from the Menendez couple in the days to come about how to keep one’s money safe.

The puzzle of why Tucker Carlson was fired by Fox

The defamation case filed by the Dominion voting machine company against Fox News was settled on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, the day when the trial was supposed to begin, for a whopping $787 million. That Fox wanted and needed to settle the case was evident since the discovery process had revealed all manner of highly damaging information that the upper echelons at Fox knew the serial sex abuser Donald Trump’s (SSAT) claims of election fraud and of Dominion’s involvement were without merit even as they publicly supported them.

Fox News’s most high-profile personality Tucker Carlson was abruptly fired on Monday, April 24, just six days later, reportedly on the direct orders of Rupert Murdoch, even though Murdoch reportedly liked Carlson and got on well with him on a personal level and he brought in good ratings and revenue for the network.
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The crash of the NFT market

These days one does not hear many breathless reports of new NFTs (non-fungible tokens) being sold for huge amounts and being touted by celebrities. There is a reason for this. This site has examined the state of the NFT market and found that they have crashed in value with most of them now worth nothing.

The hype around NFTs peaked in the 2021/22 bull run that saw nearly $2.8 billion in monthly trading volume recorded in August 2021. From this, NFTs captured the collective imagination worldwide with multiple news reports of million-dollar deals for sales of certain NFT assets.

People were excited about this new type of online asset and something of a goldrush appeared to start. Fast forward to today… and the NFT market is starkly different.

Data from the Block reveals a weekly traded value of around $80 million in July 2023, just 3% of its peak back in August 2021.

Using data provided by NFT Scan, we have compiled a comprehensive analysis of over 73 thousand NFT collections (73,257, to be exact) in order to identify key trends, assess the health of the market, determine the factors contributing to successful projects, and hopefully gain insights into the potential future trajectory of the NFT ecosystem.

The results were shocking, to say the least.

Of the 73,257 NFT collections we identified, an eye-watering 69,795 of them have a market cap of 0 Ether (ETH).

This statistic effectively means that 95% of people holding NFT collections are currently holding onto worthless investments. Having looked into those figures, we would estimate that 95% to include over 23 million people who’s investments are now worthless.

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Another dreary shutdown drama

Once again we are going through the shutdown brinkmanship, with the September 30 deadline for passing a bill that funds the federal government approaching and the Republican party in the House of Representatives in seeming disarray and unable to agree on any of the 11 separate appropriate bills that they must bring to the floor for a vote. They cannot seem to even agree on the terms of what they normally do in such situations and that is punt, by passing a continuing resolution that funds the government at the current levels for a short time while they try and work out a solution.

After the last elections in 2022, Republicans had a 222-213 majority which means that they could afford to lose at most four votes if all Democrats are present and vote as a bloc against them. Currently it is 221-212 because of two vacancies due to one member from each party having resigned and special elections to fill their seats to be held only in November. And the Republican nutters in the House Freedom Caucus have used that small majority as leverage to threaten to vote against any spending bill and shut down the government in order to get … it is not clear exactly what, other than a spending total that is smaller than what the Republicans agreed to during the debt ceiling standoff.

We have seen this film many times before, so much so that it has become a joke. I know someone who works for the federal government. When an earlier shutdown was imminent that would have sent all employees home, they received detailed memos of what they had to do to shut up shop and turn out the lights, and and what they could and could not do while the shutdown continued. But this has happened so many times, that they now know the drill and do not need to to be told. It just occasions rolling of the eyes,

No one other than journalists in the media who are assigned to cover that beat seem to talk about the shutdown. It just does not seem urgent. By now it just seems like political theater that is not worth bothering about, even though a shutdown is a deadly serious.matter that will inconvenience a vast number of people.

No, not the dog!

Author Michael Wolff is known for his gossipy, lightly sourced books that dish insider dirt. The stories he relates are titillating but not to be taken at face value since they lack convincing evidence. But they do serve as a measure of the zeitgeist within the political establishment and his latest book has an indicator of how low Florida governor Ron DeSantis has sunk because he provides an anecdote that, while having dinner at the Tucker Carlson home, DeSantis apparently irritated Carlson’s wife by dominating the conversation and may have actually kicked one of the family dogs.

The DeSantis couple allegedly failed “to read the room,” especially with Carlson’s wife, “a genteel, stay-at-home woman, here in her own house,” Wolff notes. “For two hours Ron DeSantis sat at her table talking in an outdoor voice indoors, failing to observe any basics of conversation ritual or propriety, reeling off an unselfconscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments.”

Making matters worse, Wolff claims, an “impersonal” DeSantis seemed dismissive and may have used physical force against one of the Carlson family’s four beloved spaniel pups.

During the dinner, Wolff writes, “DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson’s judgment was clear: she did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson’s view, was a ‘fascist.’ The pot calling the kettle even blacker. Forget Ron DeSantis.”

Is the story true? Who knows? But kicking people’s pet dogs and cats is something that is beyond the pale for anyone. This is the behavior of cartoon villains and even an allegation of doing so is damaging. Even some of the cult followers of serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT), although ever-willing to overlook his groping and other assaults of women, may find it hard to forgive their idol for doing so, unless they could be persuaded that the pet was the Devil incarnate or Joe Biden in disguise.

Adding to DeSantis’s woes, a new poll finds the one-time SSAT-slayer slipping to fifth place in New Hampshire polling.

Maybe we should bring out a DeSantis lettuce to see which lasts longer.

The legal woes of Trump’s cronies mount up

The indictments by Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis against serial sex abuser Donald trump (SSAT) and eighteen others over their efforts to overturn the election results continues to have fallouts. Last month I wrote about grumbling by some of the other defendants as to why SSAT’s PACs are not paying their legal fees since they were acting in his interest and sometimes on his instructions. I said that this might portend that they might seek to defect from SSAT in an effort to reach favorable plea deals.

It appears that Jenna Ellis, one of the ‘gaggle of crackpot lawyers’ surrounding SSAT and enabling his fruitless efforts and was one of those complainers, is turning on him

Jenna Ellis – the Donald Trump lawyer who like the former president faces criminal charges regarding attempted election subversion in his defeat by Joe Biden in 2020 – says she will not vote for him in the future because he is a “malignant narcissist” who cannot admit mistakes.

“I simply can’t support him for elected office again,” Ellis said. “Why I have chosen to distance is because of that frankly malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he’s never done anything wrong.”

“Why I have chosen to distance is because of that, frankly, malignant narcissistic tendency to simply say that he’s never done anything wrong.

“And the total idolatry that I’m seeing from some of the supporters that are unwilling to put the constitution and the country and the conservative principles above their love for a star is really troubling.

“And I think that we do need to, as Americans and as conservatives and particularly as Christians, take this very seriously and understand where are we putting our vote.”

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Republicans looking for magic formula on abortion

When the US Supreme Court in their Dobbs ruling in 2021 overturned its Roe v. Wade precedent and declared that the constitution did not provide a right to abortion, there was jubilation among the anti-abortion forces. They had finally achieved their dream and red states everywhere started enacting severe restrictions on abortion, some of those having been written in advance of Dobbs and just waiting for the opportunity to pass them.

But the Dobbs decision also galvanized the abortion-rights movement. Some states expanded the right to abortion while state constitutional amendments passed by referendum in Vermont, California, Michigan, Kentucky, Montana, and Kansas. Another is pending in Ohio this November. Furthermore, this issue is seen as playing an important role in increasing Democratic party success in the 2022 mid-term elections, dashing the hopes of Republicans who had been hoping that a ‘red wave’ would give them control of both houses of Congress with large majorities.
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