Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Memory Eternal

Yevgeny Prigozhin dies in plane "crash"

I guess all the food tasters weren't enough. Putin is such a gangster. The man has left a trail of bodies all over the world and everybody knows who gave the orders. He has reached the point where he doesn't even care about plausible deniability. It's like a mafia don has taken over an entire country (and its de-facto state church). Not that I'm shedding any tears for Prigozhin. He was a stone cold killer in his own right. 

The Russian government is effectively an organized crime syndicate, and the Russian Orthodox Church is fronting for it. 


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Nicaraguan government seizes Catholic university

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaragua’s government has confiscated a prestigious Jesuit-run university alleging it was a “center of terrorism,” the college said Wednesday in announcing the latest in a series of actions by authorities against the Catholic Church and opposition figures.

The University of Central America in Nicaragua, which was a hub for 2018 protests against the regime of President Daniel Ortega, called the terrorism accusation unfounded and the seizure a blow to academia in Nicaragua.

The government did not confirm the confiscation or comment on the Jesuits’ statement.

The Jesuit order, known as the Society of Jesus, said it received a judicial order Tuesday notifying it of the confiscation. It said the government seized all the university’s property, buildings and bank accounts.

Read the rest here.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Vigil for Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

Is Donald Trump the world's greatest con-man? Probably

If he pulls this off, former President Donald Trump will have earned his place as the most successful con artist in political history.

Who but Trump has openly turned a presidential campaign political action committee into a money machine to pay his legal bills?

Trump’s PAC reportedly started last year with $105 million. It now has less than $4 million after legal bills.

And don’t forget, before Trump was a declared candidate, he used Republican National Committee donor dollars to pay his legal bills.

This is what we call a “crass act.”

Republican voters are being hustled so effectively that they are cheering Trump on, laughing as he rips them off.

Can you compare him to Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, televangelists who made an art of taking money from old ladies sitting alone in front of the television?

Can you compare him to Bernie Madoff, who pulled in wealthy, sophisticated celebrity clients with promises of wealth beyond belief?

Can you compare him to Elizabeth Holmes, who convinced famous investors to send her millions for a mysterious “Twilight Zone” medical device?

No, you can’t. Because Trump is making them all look like small-time grifters.

“MAGA grandmas were scammed in order to pay a billionaire’s legal bills,” said Christina Pushaw, an aide to one of Trump’s rivals, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). It’s hard to argue with her.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Conservative Jurists Argue Trump is Disqualified from Office

Two prominent conservative law professors have concluded that Donald J. Trump is ineligible to be president under a provision of the Constitution that bars people who have engaged in an insurrection from holding government office. The professors are active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning.

The professors — William Baude of the University of Chicago and Michael Stokes Paulsen of the University of St. Thomas — studied the question for more than a year and detailed their findings in a long article to be published next year in The University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

“When we started out, neither of us was sure what the answer was,” Professor Baude said. “People were talking about this provision of the Constitution. We thought: ‘We’re constitutional scholars, and this is an important constitutional question. We ought to figure out what’s really going on here.’ And the more we dug into it, the more we realized that we had something to add.”

He summarized the article’s conclusion: “Donald Trump cannot be president — cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office — unless two-thirds of Congress decides to grant him amnesty for his conduct on Jan. 6.”

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Paris in the Twilight of the Second Empire

Excellent images of Paris from the 1860s. I found the choice of background music somewhat distracting, but the mute button proved an easy remedy.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Defund the Police

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) threatened Sunday to defund the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) until certain changes are made.
Roy told host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday” that Congress should withhold funding from the two agencies over what he characterized as the Biden administration’s “weaponization” of the Justice Department and for “leaving the border exposed.”

“And I can tell you right now for all my colleagues, I will not vote for a continuing resolution or any funding for DHS or DOJ if we don’t get changes to both,” Roy said. “I want the border secure. I want DOJ restored to following the rule of law, and we should use the power of the purse as James Madison wrote in Federalist 58: It’s the most powerful weapon against an over-tyrannical executive branch that we see unfold right now before us.”

When pressed further on how law enforcement agencies will be able to do their jobs if Congress defunds them, Roy explained that he does not want Congress to approve a “blank check” without President Biden laying out a plan to fix the Justice Department and secure the border.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Two worth reading

(cf: This)

Full disclosure: I have not yet read the book, though it is now on my 'to do' list. So, this is not a personal endorsement of the book. But the review is worth the read on its own. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

US Credit Rating Downgraded

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fitch Ratings has downgraded the United States government’s credit rating, citing rising debt at the federal, state, and local levels and a “steady deterioration in standards of governance” over the past two decades.

The rating was cut Tuesday one notch to AA+ from AAA, the highest possible rating. The new rating is still well into investment grade.

The decision illustrates one way that growing political polarization and repeated Washington standoffs over spending and taxes could end up costing U.S. taxpayers. A lower credit rating, over time, could raise borrowing costs for the U.S. government.

It’s only the second time in the nation’s history that its credit rating has been cut. In 2011, the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s stripped the U.S. of its prize AAA rating after a prolonged fight over the government’s borrowing limit. The Government Accountability Office, in a 2012 report, estimated that the 2011 budget standoff raised Treasury’s borrowing costs by $1.3 billion that year.

Read the rest here.