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FOLLOW THE MONEY
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Brian Slodysko has published an article in the Los Angeles Times about the money that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat, has received from private equity firms. Our country has a long history of siting "equal justice under the law" and the Supreme Court building even has the phrase engraved below the frieze at the top of the west facade. However, when power hungry people with a lot of money bump into a law they do not like or a proposed law that would remove a special treatment they currently have, they move money to change laws.
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HCR LATEST REPORT
Posted 8.18.2022

MORE TRUMP TALK...AND SO IT GOES

"Last night, my father killed another political dynasty, and that's the Cheneys. He first killed the Bushes, then he killed the Clintons. Last night he killed the Cheneys." So Eric Trump, former president Donald Trump's son, interpreted the primary loss by Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) last night.

He is not wrong that the Republican Party has now been captured by extremists who reject the principles associated with that party. Trump's statement reflects the reality that today's MAGA crowd rejects the ideology of Reagan's Republican Party, which was based in the idea -- if not the actual execution -- that the government must not interfere with markets. Far from trying to free up markets, Trump and those like him, including Florida governor Ron DeSantis, have used the government to punish businesses that don't support their political policies and to reward those that do.

Using the government to reward friends and punish enemies is the province of authoritarians like Russia's Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Viktor Orban, who spoke earlier this month in Texas at the Conservative Political Action Conference. MAGAs' support for such tactics fits, as they have rejected the fundamental principles of American democracy.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution established that Americans have a right to consent to the government under which we live and that we are equal before the law. But today's MAGA movement is based on the Big Lie that former president Trump won the 2020 election, and its adherents are currently engaged in the attempt to make sure that they can rig elections going forward, establishing a one-party state whose leaders can do as they wish.

And at least part of what they appear to want is the establishment of a state religion that overrides the rights of LGBTQ Americans and takes away women's rights. Indeed, their vision looks much like that of Orban, who maintains that secular democracy must be replaced by what he calls "Christian democracy," or "illiberal democracy."

While Eric Trump might see this as a triumph, others do not. Edward Luce of the Financial Times observed today: "I've covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous & contemptible than today's Republicans. Nothing close."

Shocking though that observation was, it was nothing compared to what came next. General Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, retweeted Luce and commented: "I agree. And I was the CIA Director[.]"

That this movement has dangerous designs on our government got more confirmation today when Jordan Libowitz and Lauren White of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported that the Secret Service had notice of a specific threat against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol but didn't tell the Capitol Police until 5:55 on the afternoon of that day, after the attack had happened.

On December 31 a Parler user posted, "January 6 starts #1776 all over again...Fight for EVERYTHING," and included Pelosi in a list of "enemies." Later, the account was more specific about the attack. On the evening of January 6, the Secret Service sent the information along to the Capitol Police with a note: "Good afternoon, The US Secret Service is passing notification to the US Capitol Police regarding discovery of a social media threat directed toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi."

The Secret Service is under scrutiny because its agents' texts from the period around the attack were erased from their phones, the phones of Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were wiped, and the Trump-appointed inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph Cuffari, neglected to tell Congress of the destruction of evidence for more than a year and has refused to make his staff available to testify about the matter.

But it is not clear that the MAGA attempt to take over the government will stay behind Trump. Today, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has recently been in the news for his defamation of the parents of a victim of the Sandy Hook shooting, announced on his show that he is switching his support to DeSantis. He was a staunch enough Trump supporter that he spoke at the January 5, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., to fire up the crowd for the next day.

Almost on cue, Trump began to float the idea that he would release the surveillance tape of FBI agents recovering the stolen government documents from his Mar-a-Lago property in what seems to be an attempt to reclaim his base. The argument for releasing the tape is that his supporters will resent the federal officers milling around Trump's property, feeding the idea he is a victim of political persecution. Other advisors warn that actually seeing just how many boxes of documents, including top secret documents, were recovered, will backfire.

"It's one thing to read a bunch of numbers on an inventory list, it's another to see law enforcement agents actually carrying a dozen-plus boxes out of President Trump's home knowing they probably contain sensitive documents. I don't see how that helps him," a person close to Trump told Gabby Orr, Sara Murray, Kaitlan Collins and Katelyn Polantz of CNN. It would fit the usual Trump pattern for him simply to say he is going to release it to generate stories that keep him in the news.

Trump's supporters' willingness to find another candidate is likely, in part, a reflection of the legal trouble mounting for the former president.

Today, Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani testified for six hours before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, that is investigating Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Giuliani alleged vote rigging in Georgia even after his theories had been proven fake.

Prosecutors have told Giuliani he is a target of the investigation, meaning it is possible he will be indicted. Ken Frydman, Giuliani's former press secretary, told CNN yesterday: "He knows he lied for his client, and he knows we all know.... I think, you know, at this point in his life, his goal is to die a free man."

Tomorrow the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, will plead guilty to 15 felonies associated with conspiring to avoid payroll taxes on $1.7 million over 15 years by taking pay in the form of school tuition for his grandchildren, a free apartment, a car, and so on. The deal with the Manhattan district attorney's office lets him off with fines and a minimum of 100 days in jail, a very light sentence. In exchange, Weisselberg will testify against the Trump Organization in its upcoming October trial for related offenses, though not against Trump himself.

This deal seriously weakens the Trump Organization's legal position in the case but leaves Trump and his family untouched. If the case undercuts the Trump family's business -- its traditional financial base -- family members might be hoping to cement a new financial base in the American political system.

Heather Cox Richardson
Letter from an American



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Posted 7.31.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

US AND RELIGION

I have talked about religion in government before, and I may be repeating myself in this piece; but I think this is important. And it is growing more urgent.

The U.S. Constitution does not mention God at all. However, it does mention religion twice.
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Posted 7.2.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

THE AMERICAN SLOW-MOTION REVOLUTION

In the one term Trump's three justices have been on the court, they have decimated the legal landscape under which we have lived for generations, slashing power from the federal government, where Congress represents the majority, and returning it to states, where a Republican minority can impose its will. Thanks to the skewing of our electoral system, those states are now poised to take control of our federal government permanently.
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Posted 6.27.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL READING THE MEDIA

I read the Washington Post most mornings at breakfast and watch NPR after dinner. I supplement this with various media sources both right and left, of which there are too many, and I can only take so much of Tucker Carlson's nonsense. The Post, you know that leftist rag, has many stories and opinion pieces that I disagree with and many times the tone of what is supposed to be news I find annoying. I was gratified to see the detail of this morning's Post reporting on January 6th and to ppesent day's lead, page one, top left above the fold, was about what ex-President Trump knew and when.
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Posted 6.13.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

GASOLINE HYSTERIA

Today is Sunday and Kathy and I spent a good deal of the morning enjoying a nice breakfast and the Sunday papers, the New York Times and the Washington Post. This morning both papers added to the hysteria about high gas prices that we have been hearing about all week on radio (yes, I still listen to radio), the internet and TV.

FRANK'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
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john@johnmahoney.com


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SEAT BELTS FASTENED?
Posted 5.15.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | With Covid fading from our alarm systems -- it's no longer the topic of most conversation -- and with the protesters having left Ottawa, we have one more distraction: the war in the Ukraine. What we know we do have to face ultimately, what's waiting outside, is huge: the climate crash. It's too big to compare to even war and pandemic.

The conspiracy-brains among us are preparing again to "pivot", and they will read conspiracy into even talk about our collapsing climate. These modern-day Contras are already gearing up, sharpening and polishing their push-back -- and, of course, collecting money. Big money, for such a big topic. There will be plenty flowing from all the interests who would rather ignore or deny the climate threats and get back to business-as-usual. Go ahead, list all the possible sources of support for questioning the reality or severity or time-frame of climate disintegration. Start with the tar-sands and fossil fuels.

This coming contest is just shaping up its battle lines now, and the forces already on board with questioning climate change will easily multiply their efforts. They have buckets of money to "convince" professional politicians, the media and celebrities in general. Elon Musk's capture of Twitter is one example.

But equally the environmentalists and the youth are mobilizing. They'll be blamed for focussing only on the ill-effects of what we claim is our civilization. Watch the movement grow to cancel the radioactive dump on the Ottawa River, just upstream from most of us, as one example. The Friday protests of school kids will multiply; but so too will youth-attractive celebrities selling anything except climate collapse.

Big money, yes, of course. So many of the largest corporations and banks are inter-twined with fossil fuel industries, we can't expect an easy struggle to contain and even remake our changing world. We've already heard plenty from the corporations. Musk has already characterized any modification of society to avoid the worst as an assault on "personal freedom". Freedom, to this bright light, is more valuable than mere existence.

And include something else here: the cry, "we need to earn a living!" Because someone can earn their living here, we are immoral to shut down or even restrict oil and gas, mining, clear-cutting forests, and, I suppose, chemical agriculture. These employ millions around the world, and those millions all have families to feed, mortgages to pay, and debts to cover. Again, being debt-free or being able to buy a new car, an ATV, buy groceries, go on a trip, even to space, is more important than to continue existing. Pretty strange logic!

Sure, none of this is amusing. We, on the sole planet in the universe which supports any form of consciousness (that we know of), will be asked to give even that up if it threatens the corporate fortunes of the already-wealthy.

Will money flow to those think-tanks arguing that our existence is just an evolutionary accident, anyway, so why limit the happiness of many just so the majority can survive?

Will money flow to organizations, to organizers and leaders of back-to-the-1950s movements?

Will money flow to social media, the famous stuff that makes people suicidal -- but free! -- and which will confuse the issues and smoke-screen the possibilities of improving and innovating ourselves out of this future?

Must the four or five percent who own most of the world's resources keep control of those assets, even if it means a surprisingly quick end to humanity?

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
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john@johnmahoney.com


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Posted 4.16.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

I SUPPORT THE UKRAINE ~ WHAT TO DO?

I sat down the other day and said to myself: "I support the Ukrainian people and the Ukraine government in their battle to remain a sovereign nation. Why we even have a vase of sunflowers, the Ukrainian national flower, on the table. But wait, that is moral support, what about actual support that can make a difference?"

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CANADA'S NDP TO SUPPORT RADIOACTIVE DUMP?
Posted 4.10.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | The three-week old alliance of the federal Liberals and NDP has generated plenty of comment by the media's talking heads. It's not difficult to predict that the NDP will get some clear wins out of this agreement -- pharmacare is a big one, but others cover health, climate change and affordability legislation. These should all aid the population as a whole, although paying for these new programs seems to be the second big question. But, after Covid's expenses, what are billions more?


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IN CANADA: OUR NEIGHBOURS SUPPORTING PUTIN?
Posted 3.10.22
FRED RYAN

SHAWVILLE, QC | But wouldn't Putin also be smiling (if he ever does smile) over last weekend's big rally in Orlando, Florida. The America First Political Action Committee (of the Republican Party) hosted this event which concluded with ten minutes of chanting, "Putin! ...Putin! ..." . "Even America supports me," Mr Putin must have told himself.

FRED'S COMPLETE ARCHIVES
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Posted 3.9.22
Just Outside Washington

FRANK BERNHEISEL

ROTH IRA???

This short piece is targeted at my grandchildren and others in the younger set. It is the result of a conversation over lunch with my friend, who is an economist, investment advisor, former banker, and currently international consultant. The piece recommends saving money because as Tennessee Williams said: "You can be young without money, but you can't be old without it."

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PSST! LOOKING FOR A QUICKIE?
5.6.21
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
Posted 5.3.21

THIS SUCKS
Posted 5.3.21
I WISH I'D SAIDTHAT
Posted 5.3.21

I WISH I'D SAID THIS TOO
Posted 5.3.21

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This is one of 30 short poems in the chapbook Placing No Markers by Jason Krpan. You can download the book for free at Bookfellows.