GasLit Nation: Help Ukraine by Cleaning Up Western Corruption. The Maksym Eristavi Interview

May 18, 2022

GASLIT NATION WITH ANDREA CHALUPA AND SARAH KENDZIOR

In this interview conducted a few weeks before Russia’s escalation of its invasion of Ukraine, Eastern European journalist and writer Maksym Eristavi explains the social and political crises that led the world to this point. Andrea and Maksym discuss corruption in Ukraine, how the Kremlin has weaponized that corruption, and how corruption in Ukraine is an enduring legacy of Russian genocidal colonialism, and how the West can help Ukraine by cleaning up its own corruption. They also discuss Ukraine’s efforts to build a free and just civil society despite corruption, in particular ongoing initiatives to preserve LGBTQ rights. This interview provides vital historical context on the ongoing regional conflict.

Beginning The Reckoning

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

HCR
Heather Cox Richardson

May 13, 2022

Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas for testimony to five members of Congress: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representatives Scott Perry (R-PA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AL). The committee previously invited them to cooperate voluntarily, and they refused. The committee has evidence that these five, in particular, know crucial things about the events of January 6 and activities surrounding the attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s election. 

McCarthy communicated with Trump before, during, and after the attack on January 6th. A recently released tape shows McCarthy claiming that Trump admitted some guilt over the attack.  

Perry tried to install Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general to overturn the election. 

Jordan was part of meetings and discussions after the election to overturn its results. He also communicated with Trump on January 6th, including in the morning, before the attack took place.

Biggs was part of the planning for January 6, including the plan to bring protesters to Washington, D.C. He also worked to convince state officials that the election was stolen. Former White House officials say Biggs sought a presidential pardon in connection with the attempt to overturn the election results. 

Wearing body armor, Brooks spoke at the January 6 rally, where he told rioters to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” Since then, he has said Trump tried to get him to help “rescind the election of 2020” and put Trump back in the White House.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.”

This is an escalation of the committee’s investigation into the attempt to keep Trump in power, and today we learned more about what Trump’s presidency meant for national security.

The Department of Justice has opened a grand jury investigation into the handling of the classified documents that ended up at Mar-a-Lago. Prosecutors have issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to get the boxes of documents and have asked to interview people who worked in the White House in the last days of Trump’s presidency. A spokesperson for Trump said: “President Trump consistently handled all documents in accordance with applicable law and regulations. Belated attempts to second-guess that clear fact are politically motivated and misguided.”

We also learned more about the people Trump’s presidency empowered.

The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, chaired by Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) and charged with examining waste, fraud, and any other issues relating to the government response to the coronavirus pandemic, issued a report today laying out how meatpacking giants got around local and state health officials trying to protect workers. 

Working with Under Secretary of Food Safety Mindy Brashears at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), who industry lobbyists boasted “hasn’t lost a battle for us,” top executives of JBS, Smithfield, and Tyson asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to get Vice President Mike Pence to throw his weight behind keeping workers in the plant. Less than a week later, Pence said at a press conference that meatpacking workers “need…to show up and do your job.” Industry leaders wrote a proposed executive order for Trump to issue, declaring a meat shortage and invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure that the plants continued to operate. Less than a week later, Trump issued a similar executive order.

But there wasn’t actually a shortage. Even as John H. Tyson, chair of Tyson’s board, ran full-page ads in national newspapers warning that “[t]he food supply chain is breaking” and “[o]ur plants must remain operational so we can supply food to our families in America,” U.S. pork exports were at a three-year high.

At the same time, companies asked for federal liability protection against lawsuits if workers got Covid-19 on the job. And they did get sick. Taylor Telford of the Washington Post noted that research from the University of California at Davis showed that about 334,000 coronavirus cases have been tied to meatpacking plants across the country. They have caused more than $11 billion in economic damage. Not, apparently, to the meatpacking companies, however. According to a Reuters story from December 2021, meat packers’ profits jumped 300% during the pandemic.

This story points to a larger problem of the consolidation of food production, a problem we are seeing right now in the acute shortage of baby formula in the U.S., where supplies are 43% below normal. The problem stems primarily from a recall of formula produced by Abbott, the country’s largest producer of infant formula, in its Sturgis, Michigan, factory after Cronobacter bacteria, which can cause a potentially deadly infection in infants, was found in test samples.  

Abbott has had a good run lately: in October 2019 it announced a $3 billion share buyback program to make its stock more valuable. Two years later, last October, a whistleblower warned that the Michigan plant was in need of repair, and claimed that Abbott had falsified records and hidden information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Four months later, in February 2022, the FDA warned consumers not to use products from that facility. It is now closed, and other companies are scrambling to make up the difference. Today the administration announced it would increase imports of baby formula until U.S. production comes back to normal levels. 

It sure feels like we are beginning the reckoning of forty years of decisions, decisions that have concentrated power in a small minority and that have finally led us to the place where a congressional committee wants to talk with five members of Congress to hear what they know about the attempt to overturn an election so a Democratic president could not take office.   

Steve Schmidt bores Meghan McCain a new one for Mothers Day

In a series of Twitter threads, Hobbledehoy favorite Steve Schmidt revealed secrets of the 2008 McCain presidential campaign, including the behavior of Meghan McCain

Steve Schmidt

Copied from Twitter:

Sarah Palin once said the following to me. “Steve, I can take the Vice Presidential Campaign plane wherever I want. it’s my plane!” I responded, “Governor, there is some truth to that. First, though, there is no such thing as a Vice Presidential Campaign. There is a Presidentia Campaign and you are the Vice Presidential candidate. It is true that you can take that plane wherever you want but you should have a plan after that because it’s my gas card” Nicolle Wallace and I were the two people who said NO.

Whether it was Meghan McCain’s insanity or Palin’s. When the campaign ended I refused to let Sarah Palin speak. I placed the phone call to Barack Obama for the concession and did everything I could to make sure a beautiful speech wasn’t disgraced by the nut ball from Alaska.

Palin understood the party of personal responsibility was dead and replaced by a whining victim cult of losers who routinely lied and blamed others for their failings. Palin went on the attack after the campaign. You see, it wasn’t that she was ignorant and unprepared.

It wasn’t that she was a pathological liar who became intoxicated by fame and grievance. She was a victim! Victimized by the betrayal of her advisers. The stories rained down, each more stupid than the next.

@EWErickson created a leper list to defend Sarah Palin’s honor and guess who was at the top. Palin and her disgusting team of abusive internet bullies came hard. One of them RAMansour now heads up the toxic Breitbart sewer. I called John McCain in early December of 2008 and I asked him to intervene. Here is what he said

“No boy, I can’t do it. She’ll come after me”.

@MeghanMcCain, your dad was scared shitless of the woman, he, not me, recklessly picked. He was scared shitless of the woman that was vetted by Paul Manaforts partner and a top adviser to Oleg Deripaska and Victor Yanukovych.

John McCain’s last words to Palin on election night were a warning. He said don’t be pulled in “by the extremists like Limbaugh” It was too late and he knew it. He could have confronted it. He did not.

He put on his US Navy hat and went to the border and demagogued an issue he had led on. “Build the Darn Wall” was the tagline and it was gross. He said it and rode the tea party wave. I didn’t. I said she was unfit. I said she would be a catastrophe. I warned about this

rising insanity nonstop through today without a single contradiction ever. I spoke with my own voice and asserted my own convictions and your father was pissed. He was pissed when I went on 60 minutes and told the truth. I did the right thing

@MeghanMcCain.

I only saw your Father twice after 2008. The first time was a reciprocally ice cold conversation on an Acela. The second time was on the third floor of MSNBC hen we were mutually scheduled for Morning Joe. It’s always a no fuss zone but that morning was different.

Pages and interns and a few junior producers descended on me trying to steer me away from my usual route. It didn’t work. I locked eyes with your father. All the fuss was over his demand that he not see me. It was the action of a petulant child. Remind you of anyone?

@MeghanMcCain I want you to know I stared him down until he broke eye contact. He was a hard man but he looked away because he was fucking ashamed of himself and he had a lot to be ashamed about in our relationship.

I was one of many, many feuds in your fathers life. He had a great capacity for reconciliation and whether it was the restoration of US /Vietnam relations with John Kerry and Bill Clinton or dozens of other people, I reconciled with your father before he died. The last words I heard from him were “don’t worry about all that stuff, I love you boy.” I said the same thing. When news broke about McCain’s death, a few hours passed, until stories were viciously leaked by Meghan McCain bout who wasn’t invited to the funeral

She hit the mark.

@MeghanMcCain I want you to know that was the greatest act of cruelty I ever experienced. It was for all of us that you targeted. It was humiliating and shaming.

The reason you did that was because I was the guy with the job that your mommy and daddy didn’t want and didn’t care to do. I was the guy who told you to “grow the fuck up” America has been screaming it ever since. You are almost 40 and your behavior has only gotten nastier

and more insane. Last thought, the idea of watching you play victim is ludicrous. Preposterous doesn’t begin to describe it. Veruka Salt

@MeghanMcCain

The dog has caught the car

Heather Cox Richardson | Letters from an American

HCR
Heather Cox Richardson

May 3, 2022

In 1985, President Ronald Reagan’s team made a conscious effort to bring evangelicals and social conservatives into the voting base of the Republican Party. The Republicans’ tax cuts and deregulation had not created the prosperity party leaders had promised, and they were keenly aware that their policies might well not survive the upcoming 1986 midterm elections. To find new voters, they turned to religious groups that had previously shunned politics.

“Traditional Republican business groups can provide the resources,” political operative Grover Norquist explained, “but these groups can provide the votes.” To keep that base riled up, the Republican Party swung behind efforts to take away women’s constitutional right to abortion, which the Supreme Court had recognized by a vote of 7–2 in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and then reaffirmed in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Although even as recently as last week, only about 28% of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, Republicans continued to promise their base that they would see that decision destroyed. Indeed, the recognition that evangelical voters would turn out to win a Supreme Court seat might have been one of the reasons then–Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold hearings for then-president Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. Leaving that seat empty was a tangible prize to turn those voters out behind Donald Trump, whose personal history of divorces and sexual assault was not necessarily attractive to evangelicals, in 2016.

But, politically, the Republicans could not actually do what they promised: not only is Roe v. Wade popular, but also it recognizes a constitutional right that Americans have assumed for almost 50 years. The Supreme Court has never taken away a constitutional right, and politicians rightly feared what would happen if they attacked that fundamental right.

Last night, a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Samuel Alito, revealed that the court likely intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, taking away a woman’s constitutional right to reproductive choice. In the decision, Alito declared that what Americans want doesn’t matter: “We cannot allow our decisions to be affected by any extraneous influences such as concern about the public’s reaction to our work,” he wrote.

The dog has caught the car.

Democrats are outraged; so are the many Republican voters who dismissed Democratic alarms about the antiabortion justices Trump was putting on the court because they believed Republican assurances that the Supreme Court justices nominated by Republican presidents and confirmed with Republican votes would honor precedent and leave Roe v. Wade alone. Today, clips of nomination hearings circulated in which Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, and even Samuel Alito–—the presumed majority in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade—assured the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that they considered Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision upholding Roe settled law and had no agenda to challenge them.

Those statements were made under oath by those seeking confirmation to our highest judicial body, and they now appear to have been misleading, at best. In addition, the decision itself is full of right-wing talking points and such poor history that historians have spent the day explaining the actual history of abortion in the United States. This sloppiness suggests that the decision—should it be handed down in its current state—is politically motivated. And in a Pew poll conducted in February, 84% of Americans said they believed that justices should not bring their political views into their decision making.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) provided key votes for Trump’s nominees and are now on the defensive. Collins publicly defended her votes for both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh around the time of their confirmation, saying she did not believe they would overturn Roe. She noted that Gorsuch was a co-author of “a whole book” on the importance of precedent, and that she had “full confidence” that Kavanaugh would not try to overturn Roe. Murkowski voted to confirm Gorsuch and Barrett.

Collins today said: “If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office.” Like Collins, Murkowski noted that the final decision could change, but ‘if it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated, I will just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now.” The draft is not going in “the direction that I believed that the court would take based on statements that have been made about Roe being settled and being precedent.”

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin suggested that the Senate Judiciary Committee should hold hearings on whether the justices lied in their confirmation hearings, and call Senators Collins and Murkowski as witnesses.

This apparent shift from what they had promised is a searing blow at the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, which was already staggering under the reality that three of the current justices were nominated by Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote and then tried to destroy our democracy; two were nominated by George W. Bush, who also lost the popular vote in his first term; and one other is married to someone who supported the January 6 insurrection and yet refused to recuse himself from at least one case in which she might be implicated.

Today, Republicans tried to turn this story into one about the leak of the draft document, which is indeed a rare occurrence (although not unprecedented), rather than the decision itself. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blamed the leaker for attacking the legitimacy of the court, although McConnell’s refusal in 2016 to hold hearings for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee on the grounds that eight months was too close to an election to confirm a justice before shoving Barrett through in October 2020 when balloting was already underway arguably did more to undermine the court’s legitimacy. Echoing him, one commentator said the draft leak was worse than the January 6 insurrection.

But while McConnell and the right wing are implying that a liberal justice’s office leaked the draft, there is no evidence either way. Observers note, in fact, that the leak would help the right wing more than the dissenters, since it would likely lock in votes. Those trying to blame the liberal justices did not comment on an apparent leak from Chief Justice Roberts’s office that suggested he wanted a more moderate decision. Jennifer Rubin suggested calling the bluff of those blaming the liberal justices: she proposed agreeing that whichever office leaked the draft ought to recuse from the final decision.

Republican politicians have largely stayed silent on the draft decision itself today, but the reaction of Nevada Republican Adam Laxalt, who is running for Senate, suggested the pretzel Republican politicians are going to tie themselves into in order to play to the base without alienating the majority. Laxalt issued a statement on Twitter that said the leaked draft represented a “historic victory for the sanctity of life,” but also said that since abortion is legal in Nevada, “no matter the Court’s ultimate decision on Roe, it is currently settled law in our state.”

Democrats, though, are not only defending the constitutional right recognized by Roe v. Wade, but also calling attention to the draft’s statement that the Fourteenth Amendment under which the Supreme Court has protected civil rights since the 1950s can cover only rights that are “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

It seems likely that the right-wing justices, who are demonstrating their radicalism by overturning a 50-year precedent, are prepared to undermine a wide range of constitutional rights on the grounds—however inaccurate—that those rights are not deeply rooted in the justices’ own version of this nation’s history and tradition.

Protesters turned out in front of the Supreme Court and across the country today vowing that women will not go backward. As actress Ashley Nicole Black tweeted: “There’s a particular slap to the face of being told we can vote for abortion rights, by the court that gutted voting rights.”

Roger Stone claims a “satanic portal” has opened over the White House

Longtime right-wing “dirty trickster” Roger Stone appeared on the program “Elijah Streams”, claiming to have photographic proof that a “satanic portal” has opened over the White House.

Stone—who was convicted by a jury on seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction in relation to special counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election—claims to have become a dedicated Christian because God used Trump to pardon him for his crimes. In this capacity, Stone claims to have developed a new appreciation for the importance of waging “spiritual warfare” through prayer.

Source: RightWingWatch.org