Tag Archive | crooks

Weekend Update 1/17/2021: Who woulda thought?

Time once again for a post in which I share news stories that broke after I assembled this week’s Friday Five post, or was a story that didn’t make the cut to the Friday Five for reasons, or brings additional information or updates to a story which I have linked to at any time previously. And as usual, I will have a some comments to go along with the links.

I admit that I have been allowing myself more than a bit of schadenfreude with regards to the Capitol rioters, aka, the Trump-supporting White Supremacist Murder Mob. But they really have done all of this to themselves: Selfie-Snapping Rioters Leave FBI a Trail of Over 140,000 Images.

And it’s not just that so, so many of them took pictures and videos of themselves committing crimes and have posted them to social media. They all carried their cell phones with them, and apparently they don’t know that phones continually ping nearby cell towers in order to see if there is a phone call coming in, and that means the phone and its location is available to be subpoenaed: Police let most Capitol rioters walk away. But cellphone data and videos could now lead to more arrests – Think rioters walked away scot free? Not so fast, say police with potent technology ready to name names. And they also think that deleting social media posts is a great way to cover their tracks. Spoiler: things you delete online aren’t really deleted, even when the service provider doesn’t let you restore it, the data is almost always still available. Also, courts have held that the act of deleting social media posts indicates that you are aware that you may be guilty of crimes (it’s a form of attempting to destroy evidence).

Not only do they not know how the technology they’re using works, but they’ve proven again and again that they don’t know how the government works. New, Dramatic Video of Capitol Rioters: ‘WE ARE LISTENING TO TRUMP’. Among the things they screamed at the cops they were beating and kicking and crushing and so forth, was the assertion that they were on a mission ordered by Trump, “your boss.” First, no, the President is not the boss of the Capitol Police. Just as he is not the boss of private citizens nor is he the boss of the entire government. The phrase “Commander in Chief” applies solely to the U.S. military. As Chief Executive, he is also the head of the executive branch. Be he is not the commander of Congress, nor the Supreme Court and the rest of the judicial branch, nor the commander of state governments, nor commander of private citizens. The Capitol Police are part of the legislative branch of government. They report to Congress itself, not to the President. Lots of people don’t understand that when the president issues an Executive Order, for instance, that doesn’t have the same weight as a law. Executive Orders are always directed at departments within the Executive Branch, setting policies of how those departments will handle certain circumstances.

More than 100 individuals involved in Capitol riots arrested. So far. Many more arrests will be coming.

Picture of the QAnon Shaman inside the Capitol building during the murder mob riot, with the caption “Dances with Karens”Meanwhile one of the designated clowns of the murder mob has not had a good week. Oh, yes, last week a federal judge decided that since he claimed that his all-organic diet was due to his religious beliefs, that the jailors are to accomodate that, nothing else has gone his way: ‘Q Shaman’ Jacob Chansley to remain jailed pending Capitol riot tria.

The judge said he is a flight risk because he is unemployed (literally lives in his mother’s basement), is a habitual drug user, and had demonstrated an ability to raise money quickly over the internet because he’s considered a mascot of the QAnon fuckwits and all the white supremacist groups trying to shore up the the Traitor-in-Chief. So he will not be out on bail, and the federal marshals will be transporting him from Arizona to cool his heels in a federal jail closer to Washington D.C.

And more info keeps coming out that make him look even worse: Woman says she warned Capitol Police about ‘QAnon Shaman’ rioter Jake Angeli in December.

Meanwhile…

Other supporters of the Traitor-in-Chief are also having a bad week: Trump ‘refusing to pay’ Rudy Giuliani’s legal fees after falling out – President said to be offended by personal lawyer’s demand for a reported $20,000 a day. Donald is famous for not paying people the money he owes them. Why does anyone ever agree to work for him?

Oh, wait, well apparently Giuliani is finding a way to get money out of this gig: Giuliani associate told ex-CIA officer a Trump pardon would ‘cost $2m’ – report. Just slip Rudy a couple million dollars, and he’ll put in a good word for you with the Pres… except we now know that Donald has stopped taking Rudy’s calls.

Rudy isn’t the only one getting in on this particular grift: Trump Allies Rake In Huge Fees From Pardon Seekers – The president’s allies have collected tens of thousands of dollars — and potentially much more — from people seeking pardons.

I could make more snarky comments, but this article rounds up things that the various late night hosts have said about Rudy’s situation, so I’ll let you go read those: Seth Meyers on Trump refusing to pay Giuliani: ‘No more perfect way for this to end’.

Moving on…

One of the videos I linked to on in the most recent Friday Five included a joke about Donald trying to steal things while packing up to leave, specifically a bit about a bust of President Abraham Lincoln. After delivering the scripted joke, Seth Meyers then said, “This was a joke we wrote this morning. But wouldn’t you know it…” and then he cut to footage from some of the news channels taken outside the White House, showing a staff member walking out of the White House carrying the bust of Lincoln. Which brings us to: No One Will Take Responsibility for That Abraham Lincoln Bust Seen Leaving the White House.

Wow.

Of course, Donald has so many other legal troubles… Atlanta Prosecutor Appears to Move Closer to Trump Inquiry – The Fulton County district attorney is weighing an inquiry into possible election interference and is said to be considering hiring an outside counsel. These would be state criminal charges in Georgia. If Donald issues a pardon to himself, and if the courts uphold it, it would still have no effect on these charges, because the President can only pardon federal crimes. Similarly to the criminal investigations against the Trump organization and family in New York State, and another set on-going in Connecticut… and those are just the ones I’ve been keeping track of.

Since becoming President, Donald has been documented making literally thousands upon thousands of lies. CNN’s Daniel Dale has tried to pick the fifteen worst of all of those lies: The 15 most notable lies of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Finally, who could have possibly foreseen this: Election Disinfo Plunged After Twitter Banned Trump. (Spoiler: everyone who has been paying attention, that’s who!)

Weekend Update 12/26/2020: The end of the year is supposed to be a dead news time, but…

It’s been three weeks since my last Weekend Update post, and not because there hasn’t been news that didn’t make it into each week’s Friday Five that I might want to comment on, nor news that broke after I’d finished that week’s post, nor big updates to stories I’m commented and/or ranted on before. All of those things were happening, but my energy (particularly my writing energy) was all directed elsewhere.

Since this is the final weekend in 2020, I am tempted to make it an epic one in some way. There were certainly a few stories that have been frequent targets of my commentary (and sometimes snark) that had some big developments toward the end of this year. But first I’m going to jump in a story that fits the category that made me create my very first Weekend Update post: a bit news event that would have been in the Friday Five if it had happened just hours earlier!

Police: Explosion in downtown Nashville is intentional, 41 businesses damaged.

Downtown Nashville explosion knocks communications offline – Human remains found.

Okay, so early Christmas morning several 911 calls came in reporting gunshots in a particular part of downtown Nashville. By the time police arrived, loud speakers inside an old RV parked on a street started broadcasting a warning to evacuate because I bomb was going to explode soon. Police started evacuating people from nearby building. The bomb squad set up a perimeter, and then approximately a half hour after the recording started playing, the RV exploded.

The next story is worth skimming, but the headline falls into, IMHO the “water is wet” category: Expert weighs in on Nashville explosion, says bombing ‘not a spur of the moment thing’. Obviously. Building a bomb takes some time. Installing speakers and some sort of either timed or remote-controlled recording device to play back the message. One (and only one) news article I read said that the voice in the recording sounded like it was electronically distorted. Since the only place I have found video that includes audio warned that the video also includes the explosion, which I don’t particularly want to watch, I can’t say.

Anyway, all of those details were known immediately after the explosion, and one doesn’t have to be an expert to deduce that this wasn’t an impulsive act. All of that takes some planning and work beforehand. Then there is this: Mysterious Twitter Account Posts Video Showing Nashville Bomb Warning and Explosion
. Someone created that twitter account on the day of the explosion, and the only thing the account has uploaded is a single video recording that captures the recording message and the explosion. If this was done by the person(s) who made the bomb, it’s more evidence that this was planned.

I’ve seen people ask if this is terrorism, and the pedantic answer is, “probably.” But that’s because the definition of a terrorist attack is “the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular objective.” An explosion is violence, and by itself might create fear. But when you add in the gunshots (or gunshot sounds) leading to 911 calls to lure police to the area, the recorded announcement, the posting of the video, and all the other details, those are the parts that show a calculated attempt to create a climate of fear. Without those elements—if the RV had just blown up, we could be debating for a long time whether the bomb had been meant to detonate at that time and place, for instance, or if it was just some fuckwit who was transporting some poorly-built explosives somewhere (perhaps to sell to another fuckwit) and the RV exploded on accident.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, the word “terrorism” is applied only to acts of violence preformed by specific types of people, so if what you mean when you ask is it terrorism is whether those heretics in a particular nation or whatever are responsible, that’s completely unknown at the moment.

On the other hand, the time and place chosen, plus the warning, may indicate the bombers probably didn’t want to kill any innocent people. The bomber may have been inside the RV, and the bombing was less about creating a climate of fear and more about a person committing suicide and wanting that suicide to make a statement.

Now, people are looking for more RVs: ‘Suspicious RV’ spotted in Cincinnati forces cops to close streets after ‘Nashville bomb’ – but ‘no incident’ found.

I have been careful not to link to any posts or articles or op-ed pieces that speculate about the specific motives of the bomber, or identifying the person(s) involved with any particular political or idealogical group. Because I remember back when the DC Sniper was terrorizing the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area that a number of very smart people (some personal acquaintances) proclaimed very emphatically that the sniper was associated with particular foreign groups and obviously had to be operating out of a sophisticated set of safe houses previously set up. Which was all absolutely and categorically wrong.

One of the reasons a lot of the commenters got it wrong then is because after the first few incidents, police would talk about how quickly they got each area cordoned off and set up check points, but still hadn’t caught the responsible parties. Relying on that information was a bad idea for several reasons: 1) there was no way to know if the police really got each cordon set up before a person could have driven away, 2) there was no way to know if the cordons had really closed off every road, and 3) the police were all looking for the wrong thing.

Note that on number three I don’t say “the police might have been looking for the wrong thing.” Because we now know there was no maybe about it. Because several people reported a white van or box truck driving rapidly away from one of the first shooting sights, cops were looking for people in a white van or truck. And even though they stopped and talked to the drivers of all the other vehicles, each cop was looking for whatever he or she defined as suspicious. And apparently no one’s definition of suspicious was a 41-year-old ex-marine driving a 12-year-old blue Chevy sedan.

Anyway, back to the Nashville bombing: CBS News: Person-of-interest identified in Nashville bombing and FBI at home of possible person of interest in Nashville bomb. This person who lives (or lived) in a Nashville suburb owned an RV that was at least similar to the one that exploded. A Google Maps image from 2019 shows that the RV was parked on the property at the time. AP reporters note that the spot the RV used to be parked in is empty, and the investigators are searching the house and grounds.

Even if it was this guy’s RV (and there must be thousands of RVs out there of the basic make and model, so who knows), we don’t yet know if he was involved. Maybe he put the RV up on Craigslist some time ago and sold it, for instance.

If he was involved, did he pick the neighborhood to place the bomb because of a personal grudge rather than a political reason? Was he inside it at the time? Did he set up the twitter account that posted the video? At this point, we don’t know. I hope we do know, soon. And I hope the authorities figure it out before anyone else gets hurt.


Now let’s look at things that I decided to leave out of the Friday Five.

Trump puts dead Confederate traitors ahead of pay raise for troops because of course he does. The man is totally incapable of any empathy, and he cares nothing about anyone who is hurt by his actions other than himself.

And lest you forget that the pussy-grabber is not an anomaly, he’s not the only one putting a personal agenda above the duty to serve the public: Congress scrambles to avert shutdown after Trump’s stimulus demands – House Republicans broke with the president over providing $2,000 in stimulus checks to Americans.


I apparently can’t escape 2020 without at least one more update about Jerry Falwell, Jr. I’ve written about Falwell’s sex scandal and shady million-dollar real estate gifts many, many times. And I’ve tried most of those times to point out that the reasons those things are worth paying attention to is that as part of the scheme to get rid of a blackmailer, Falwell agreed to endorse the pussy-grabber for President, swinging evangelical support from other Republican candidates to the grifter-in-chief just before the crucial Iowa Causcus, as well as the fact that these multi-million dollar deals he has gifted to the pool boys and trainers involved in the sex scandals are subsidized by taxpayer money (just as his private jet and lavish lifestyle is subsidized by taxpayer money) because it all comes as part of compensation from the various religious non-profit organizations he had, until very recently, been in charge of.

And we have a bit more evidence to back that up: A Trump executive order set the stage for Falwell’s political activities – By discouraging investigations of religious organizations, Trump appeared to clear the way for Liberty University to spend millions on his own causes.

The article is worth the read. I really hope that this executive order is one Joe Biden’s list of those to reverse right away. If the IRS started investigating all the rich conservatives that they have been ignoring, it would almost certainly bring in far more money in unpaid back taxes and tax fraud than the investigations cost. And maybe we’d send some more of these awful people to prison.

I can dream can’t I?


I want to end this on something very silly:

KFC launches game console that keeps your chicken warm. That’s right, Kentucky Fried Chicken teamed up with a hardware maker to manufacture a gaming computer that is sorta kinda maybe if you squint shaped like a bucket of chicken and has a compartment where you can theoretically stick a piece of chicken in to keep warm while you play.

I foresee absolutely no downsides to this idea…

Oh you cuckolded devil—or, the Evangelical Power Couple and the Pool Boy

Let me begin by saying, I told you so.

Business partner of Falwells says affair with evangelical power couple spanned seven years.

Giancarlo Granda says his sexual relationship with the Falwells began when he was 20. He says he had sex with Becki Falwell while Jerry Falwell Jr, head of Liberty University and a staunch supporter of President Trump, looked on…

Giancarlo Granda, who says he had a years-long sexual relationship with the Falwells that began when he was 20, said he now believes the Falwells preyed upon him. “Whether it was immaturity, naïveté, instability, or a combination thereof, it was this ‘mindset’ that the Falwells likely detected in deciding that I was the ideal target for their sexual escapades,” he said.

The Falwells have a particular kink, and it involves younger, hunky men having sex with Mrs Falwell while Mr Falwell watches and takes pictures. I called it!

In previous posts I’ve talked about how the relationship seemed to begin when Granda was 20 years old, working as a poolboy at a very expensive Miami hotel the Falwells were vacationing at. He was a young man working his way through school, they were an extremely wealthy couple staying in one of the most expensive suites, were known for tipping lavishly, and owned their own jet.

And we know the discovery process of a lawsuit filed by the real estate mogul father of one of the former pool boy’s classmates, who helped the Falwell’s find a suitable property, that as the relationship continued, the Falwells spent more than $1.8 million buying a youth hostel, refurbishing it, and gifted half ownership to the pool boy.

And then, of course, there is the second pool boy

I’ve said before that hot-wifing, threeways, and cuckold fantasies are all perfectly healthy sexual things that a committed couple who are into ethical non-monogamy should be able to engage in without shame. The problem comes in when millions of dollars of money extracted from two tax exempt non-profits are used to finance particularly elaborate versions of those sexual relationships. That means tax payers subsidized this. And those two non-profits are actively engaged in trying to criminalize queer relationship, and restrict the sexual freedoms of straight people, too. And then there is that apparent fact that Falwell endorsed Trump on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, effectively swinging the evangelical vote to the pussy grabber in chief, to pay Trump back for helping make a blackmailer who had photos of the sexual shenanigans go away.

Falwell is now trying to blame it all on his wife, Jerry Falwell Jr. Says His Wife Had an Affair With the Miami Pool Boy They Befriended and the pool boy blackmailing him. However, we already know Falwell bought the 1.8 million dollar business for the pool boy long before the blackmail. We also know from the Trump’s ex-lawyer who brokered the deal that it wasn’t the pool boy who attempted the blackmail. We also know that Falwell sent his jet to pick up the pool boy and bring him to Virginia for a week of “play” and actually introduced the pool boy to Donald Trump more than a month after the blackmailer had been paid off. And we know that Falwell accidentally texted photos of his wife in fetish gear to the staff of Liberty U, and he later admitted the pictures were meant for the guy I call The Other Pool Boy.

Yeah, this lie isn’t going to hold up, Jerry.

Shadows are gathering, or, a queer ex-evangelical talks about the guns & god crowd

That’s what they think it says, but that’s not what those words mean…

First, big news today out of New York: New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing .

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.

In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.

Lots of headlines are going to focus on the ‘dissolve the NRA’ part, but note that if she proves the executives in question of unlawfully pilfered the NRAs coffers for personal gain and gets any of it back, it will go to the contributors who will be free to use it to immediately form a new organization if they want.

But because I have already seen some people distort and over-react to this news story, I realized this was a good opportunity to finish and post about a related topic: How is it that people who claim to follow the Prince of Peace are so enamored with guns and unwilling to take any reasonable efforts to stop mass shootings in schools.

Before we get to the meat of the answer, one digression: the phrase “God, guns, and gays” is frequently (and falsely) attributed to various Democratic politicians as a disparaging description of the values of conservatives. Wrong. It actually came from the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe. He didn’t mean it disparagingly. It repeated the phrase again and again to enflame the fears of his Oklahoma constituents that the libruhls were going to take away their guns, outlaw their religion, and force them to live next to and work with gay people—all so they would ignore the economic and environmental polices of the Republicans that were destroying their livelihoods. And it’s the same kind of reasoning that has Trump claiming the Biden is going to “hurt the Bible.”

But back to the guns and why a certain type of Bible-thumper thirsts for weapons that can massacre dozens of people in short periods of time.

An important component of the evangelical fundamentalist self-identity is being under siege. In their worldview they are constantly under attack from the forces of evil in the form of depraved sinful people (who they generally define as anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do). Even they have control of an entire political party and often the entire government of their home state, they see themselves as the victims or a vast and powerful empire of evil. An empire they believe will eventually literally take over the world under the leadership of the anti-Christ. They interpret several verses of the Bible as a specific call to arms for them to resist that looming evil.

And because they insist that every word in the Bible is literally factual and also the inerrant word of god, those cherry-picked verses mean they believe it is their duty to be prepared to literally go to war.

Then there’s the eternity issue. Because they see our mundane mortal life as nothing but an entrance exam to try to qualify for an eternity in heaven, they don’t see suffering and death in this world as being anything more than a test. This gets further complicated because many of them also adhere to one of the variants of the Just World Fallacy. Because god controls the world, see, bad things happen to people either because they are being punished by god, or because they are being tested by god. I’ve written previously that one aspect of this before that often plays out as, “Bad things happen to you because you’re bad. Bad things happen to me because god is testing me.”

This contradicts their other belief that the devil is alive and well and causing a lot of evil, but that doesn’t bother them, because it just gives them another reason to rationalize their decisions about which things to take action about, and which to just let happen. “Bad things are happening to some people I care about because the forces of evil are attacking us,” or “This bad thing has happened to me and/or people I care about because other people under the influence of evil are causing it.”

Besides, all the deserving people who die are just going to heaven, so if they happen to have been hurried along because someone which a semi-automatic rifle shot up their school, it’s not really a tragedy. True, some of the teachers and kids might be godless atheists or otherwise bound for hell, and that is sad, but it’s really their own fault for not inviting Jesus into their heart before someone decided to massacre half the school.

Some of them will even come out and say it!

They ultimate truth, as far as they are concerned, is that all the right-thinking “good” people will get to spend eternity in mansions in heaven built especially for them by Christ himself. And this imperfect world is eventually going to be destroyed in that great and glorious war, which they may get to fight in, and if they have stockpiled enough weapons so that they can kill more of the unrighteous people than anyone else, maybe god will give them a special medal. Or a better mansion.

None of that is official theology of any of the denominations I’ve familiar with, and most of them won’t say all of that bluntly out loud, but it’s what many of them believe.

So to sum up, in their minds Jesus is the Prince of Peace only in the sense that there will be peace for eternity for those who are in heaven, after all the rest of humanity is purged and thrown into hell. And the sooner that war to end the world happens and they all get their to the heavenly reward, the better.


Note:

(Part of the title of this post comes from the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly (Jesus is Calling),” by William L. Thompson. It was hymn number 236 in the 1956 Baptist Hymnal. The lyric occurs in verse three, “Shadows are gathering, Deathbeds are coming. Coming for you and for me.”)

Tuesday Tidbits 4/7/2020: Grifters gotta grift

Let’s look at some news that broke after last week’s Friday Five that ought to be covered now rather than wait for Friday.

Just sayin’ (Click to embiggen)

First up, the Grifter-in-Chief (and his toadies) keeps recommending a drug that studies indicate does not help treat Covid-19: CNN Doctor Shreds Peter Navarro: ‘This Is Not A ‘Can’t-Hurt-Might-Help-Why-Not’ Situation!’ – Dr. Sanjay Gupta took the wind right out of Peter Navarro’s arrogance by putting some facts on the table.

When it first happened, I figured it was just the usual stupidity from the guy. Someone mentioned it to him, and as a narcissist suffering from some form of severe dementia, he has a constant need to say stuff that make it sound like he knows what he’s talking about. But after being debunked a few times, and after at least one person died trying to self-treat with it, why did he start talking about it again?

Well, it turns out it’s about greed, because of course it is: Pharma-Funded Group Tied to a Top Trump Donor Is Promoting Malaria Drug to the President. That’s right, some of the companies who make the drug that doesn’t work against this thing are donating money to Trump. So, of course, he’s going to tout it so people will buy it and put money in the pockets of people putting money in his pocket!

But it’s even worse than that! Millions of doses of Covid drug bought by Trump admin today from Novartis–Michael Cohen connection. This article links to several others, but it appears that either a shell company owned by Trump or by some of his toadies, has managed to buy up a bunch of the drug that does not work against Covid-19, and now they are selling this stockpile to the feds.

This shouldn’t surprise us, because Trump’s entire financial career has been about stealing from his investors, contractors, employees, and charities. It has also been about tricking other people into paying for his projects and making it look as if he was the person who raised the money or donated or whatever. All those seasons of his reality show, when at the end the winner (or a charity) got a big novelty check that made it look as if Trump was paying them? Every penny actually came from the network. Neither Trump or any of his businesses contributed so much as a dime. He was paid, the network paid for the production and everything related to it, the network paid the actual award money, and on those occasions when a Trump business was mentioned or a picture of one of his buildings was shown, the network paid said business a royalty.

It does leave one wondering how his faithful keep believing him after lie upon lie upon lie. Well, in this case, there is a bit of an explanation: Here’s why the tormented conservative mind is so drawn to the dangerous allure of miracle drugs.

Trump is also really good about blaming other people, no matter how implausible the blame is: Trump Earns “Pants On Fire” Rating For Insane Claim He Inherited “Broken” Virus Tests From The Obama Admin. So Trump is now claiming that the reason we have been so behind on testing is because Obama left behind thousands or millions of “broken” test kits. Big problem with that lie: when Obama was President, know one knew that the virus which causes Covid-19 existed, yet. So no one had tried to make kits, yet. The problem is that Trump didn’t think the disease was serious (or that it would hurt anyone he cared about), nor was he willing to take and pay for kits from any of the foreign entities that had developed them as the disease swept through parts of China and other countries, nor was he willing to put any money into developing our own.

Unfortunately, his base doesn’t seem to be smart enough to do anything but swallow the lie. Even when the evidence is overwhelming:

How Trump and Kushner Failed on Testing and Ventilators: A Closer Look:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Meanwhile, it’s important to remember that not everyone is hurt to the same degree by this current catastrophe, as Samanth Bee explains below:

Introducing: Coronavirus For Her! | Full Frontal on TBS:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Weekend Update 4/4/2020: Lying liars, flip flopping, and one funny suggestion

Once again it’s time for some news that either came in too late for this week’s Friday Five, or is a new development in a story I’ve commented upon previously, or otherwise didn’t quite make the cut before. As you can tell form the title of the post, I’m going to be talking about a lot of bad people here. If you would like a laugh, instead, scroll down to the bottom and click on the video. And learn something while you’re at it!

First up, you remember that there are a few Senators and Congresspeople who made suspiciously timed decision to sell of stock after getting classified intelligence briefings on the coronavirus threat? There is a bit more news on that front: U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s most recent financial disclosures show that millions of dollars in stocks were sold on her behalf at the same time Congress was dealing with the impact of the coronavirus. She continues to insist that these transactions were carried out by her financial advisor without any discussion with her, but the more news comes out the less credible that seems. She and her husband (who happens to the CEO of the New York Stock Exchange) didn’t just happen to sell off stocks in industries sure to take a big hit when the pandemic hit U.S. shores, but they also coincidentally bought up a lot of stock in companies that manufacture medical face masks and the like.

Right, coincidence!

Even though we now know that she had been briefed on the grim statistics of how quickly the disease would spread, how many millions would eventually get sick, and how high the death toll could go, she was making public statements to constiuents and donors that there was nothing to worry about.

Even Fox News’ most notorious liar isn’t buying it: Tucker Carlson: Sen. Kelly Loeffler Should Resign if She Knew About Stock Trades.

Resignation is the minimum that should happen.

Moving on…

Critics Pile On After Kushner’s Virus Response Lies, Federal Website Edited To Make Him Appear Truthful. Kushner claimed that the federal stockpile of medical ventilators was never intended for the states, but rather, “they belong to us.” Just who does he thing us is?

The Strategic National Stockpile of critical medical equipment was created by an Act of Congress in 1998. And the act specifies that the purpose is to make sure those critical medical supplies are ready to be deployed to any state or territory where a critical public health crisis arises.

“Gangsters don't hire family members because they're qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they're less likely to talk to the FBI.”

“Gangsters don’t hire family members because they’re qualified. Gangsters hire family members because they’re less likely to talk to the FBI.” (Click to embiggen)

I know he’s an idiot. No, seriously. He’s what certain types of really stupid people think is a smart person. Which means he’s good at lying on his feet and using words that sound like he knows what he’s talking about. But he’s an idiot and a con artist, who couldn’t pass a basic security check and is in office (in violation of The Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute) because Trump wants him there. His motives are not public service, his motives are always his own personal gain, and the personal gain of his patrons. And ordering someone to change the government website that describes the reserve doesn’t change the law.

Remember, Kushner is the idiot who did this: Inside Jared Kushner’s coronavirus research: A wide net on a giant Facebook group. That’s right, he had access to all the experts at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and so forth, but what did Jared do? He called his brother’s father-in-law who happens to be a doctor.

The stupid, it burns!

Moving on!

Texas Christian radio host ‘Doc’ Gallagher gets 25 years for bilking Christian investors out of millions. Not only isn’t he a registered investment advisor (for which he was fined previously for falsely claiming), he’s not an ordained minister, so I the headline can’t call him a scamvangelist (even though that’s what he is). I’ll just quote this:

“He took advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. He targeted elderly investors and individuals attracted to his Christian ideals and then stole from them.”
—lead prosecutor Alexis Goldate

Yeah, great Christian values, there.

Okay, enough about bad people. Here is a helpful video for those who need a face mask for their next excursion. I hope it at least makes you chuckle:

Weekend Update: talk about insider trading and disaster profiteering!

Picture of a guillotine with the words “Your money and privilege have their limits.”

(click to embiggen)

Once again it is time for one of my Saturday posts where I talk about news stories that either broke after I finished this week’s Friday Five, or has had new developments since it was linked, or otherwise bears sharing now rather than later. Along with more commentary from me than usually accompanies the Friday Five posts. And oh, we have have some juicy news today! Let’s go!

Let’s begin with this: These Senators Sold Millions Worth of Stock After Private Briefings on the Impending Coronavirus Crisis . First, I want to point out that the original headline talks about Republican Senators, but even in the initial breaking story, there was one Democrat, as well. So I fixed the headline. So, Senators receive a number of classified briefings about the looming pandemic, and several of them, just coincidentally, sold off millions of dollars in stock in industries likely to take a hit. At least one of them doing so while simultaneously writing editorials and going on the various news shows to insist that the country was ready to handle any such emergency and that everything was going to be fine.

One of those Senators has been trying to defend herself by claiming that all the sales were done without her knowledge, but the problem is that her husband, who just so happens to be the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, also unloaded a bunch of stock after the briefings. Most of the others are trying to defend themselves by claiming the sales conform to the law… And it is true that the law gives Congresspeople a lot of leeway to do this sort of thing: An Invitation to Corruption – As long as lawmakers are allowed to trade individual stocks, disaster profiteering is always a risk.

The short version is that members of congress are allowed to buy and sell stock based on public information that they learn during the course of their work so long as the transactions are reported within 30 days. Which is very lenient, because the definition of public information is broad. As congress people receiving briefings, the information they received is often contextualized in a way that the information isn’t available to the general public. In other words, they have taxpayer-funded help sorting out the signal from the noise, while the taxpayers are left with the noise…

However, the information received in classified briefings shouldn’t count as public information. So I think a few of these guys might actually suffer consequences. I mean, even Tucker Carlson, who normally defends any crime and outrage every single Republican commits has called this one out: Tucker Carlson demands a Republican senator either explain his stock sell-off or resign – “There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis.”.

I nearly spit my coffee all over my keyboard when I saw the word “moral” coming out of Carson’s mouth. But, even a broken clock is correct sometimes!

And as the story developed House members, Senate aides traded stocks in early days of coronavirus. We know that it is a lot more members of Congress involved.

Part of the reason it is so outrageous that the law is so lax on this is because not only do members of congress have access to information that the public doesn’t, but they write and vote on laws that funnel tax dollars into various efforts. In private business, insider trading laws recognize that employees of publicly-traded companies have information before the public does, and therefore are in a position to sell their own stock at times just before information that will greatly devalue that same stock once it is know. Such trades are effectively stealing money from the people who are buying those stocks. So it’s illegal for employees of private companies to buy or sell the stock when they are in possession of information the public doesn’t yet have. Executives, who not only have a lot more information than the average employee but can also change policies within the company that effect the value, are limited to very narrow windows, beginning a number of days after quarterly earning reports are published, and ending a short time later.

Members of Congress have no such limitation.

It isn’t just corrupt politicians we have to worry about profiteering off of a national crisis. A lot of other rich a-holes are similarly morally bankrupt: Wall Street Journal Types Wonder Aloud If Nation’s Health Is ‘Worth’ The Economic Hit – Not making that up. Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation and his former colleagues at The Wall Street Journal are “asking the question” if COVID mitigation measures are “worth” the economic hit..

If you must have the sanctity of human life explained to you, maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to be in charge of anything. At all.

Let’s end with this: Rachel Maddow: Media Needs to Stop Airing Trump’s Lie-Filled COVID-19 ‘Fairytale’ Press Briefings —

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