House Dems on GOP’s thin majority: Welcome to hell

. . . [T]he House GOP will have to steer legislation through with as few as four votes to spare while its leaders deal with an emboldened Freedom Caucus, internal finger-pointing over a disappointing midterm cycle, and a looming brawl over a 2024 presidential primary that features Donald Trump back in the mix.

“I don’t lie awake at night worrying about the bad legislation they are going to pass. Because I don’t think they’re going to pass it,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Awaiting the outcome of just one true toss-up race, Republicans will have a majority of either four or five — giving McCarthy the sparest of margins of any other Congress at the start of its term since 1931. Not to mention that he’s already vowed to do away with Pelosi-era proxy voting, making every potential absence a new challenge.

Do away with proxy voting? His view on that is sure to “evolve.”

As Democrats prepare their retreat into the minority, many are less-than-fondly recalling their own two years of vote-wrangling and floor delays while wishing their GOP colleagues luck.

“It was wonderful,” quipped Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a member of Pelosi’s whip team who remembered countless after-midnight phone calls this Congress to lock down votes for many of his party’s huge bills. “That was a regular routine, as a matter of fact.”

Source: House Dems on GOP’s thin majority: Welcome to hell – POLITICO

Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar | AP News

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine.

In a statement, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter it sent less than 24 hours prior. It was signed by 30 members of the party’s liberal flank.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” the Washington Democrat wrote in a statement. As chair of the caucus, Jayapal said she took responsibility for this.

So what Jayapal is saying is:

  1. This wasn’t a final version of the letter. [What would she have changed?]
  2. It was mistakenly released by a staffer. [Why did it take 24 hours for Jayapal to withdraw it?]
  3. She takes responsibility. [Jayapal is an idiot.]

On the other hand, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has backbone:

“I have voted for arms to Ukraine and will continue to support providing arms to Ukraine to stand up against Putin’s brutal aggression.

“At the same time, it’s my obligation to make sure we are mitigating the risk of nuclear war, that we are making sure that the conflict doesn’t escalate and that we are working toward a negotiated settlement that will be a just peace. That is the framework of the letter.”

Source: Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar | AP News

American test scores prompt ‘a moment of truth’ for schools – POLITICO

American student test scores plunged by historic levels during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting soul-searching among education figures to chart a future path for the country’s schools.

Ha! Nobody wants a “future path.”

Right wingers want Bible, 10 Commandments, and Jesus in school. Also vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling. Some even want to eliminate the indoctrinating public schools altogether.

Liberals want drag queens, books about unconventional families, transgender bathrooms, sex ed, Black history, Holocaust studies, Pride flags and diversity education.

It’s not going to get better any time soon.

Source: American test scores prompt ‘a moment of truth’ for schools – POLITICO

Top Texas Republicans Call For More Guns, Fortified Schools, Armed Teachers After Attack

On May 24, 2022, a gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 19 children and two teachers.

[Afterwards,] GOP lawmakers refused to support the possibility of any gun control measures as the nation reels in the wake of the worst school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. Instead, the elected officials called for more armed teachers and even fortified schools meant to keep bad actors away from children, saying laws to limit access to firearms don’t work.

. . .

Police said the 18-year-old who attacked the school, identified as Salvador Ramos, was wearing body armor that made him more difficult to stop after he crashed his car through a barricade near Robb Elementary School. At least two law enforcement officers tried to engage him and were injured in the shooting, The New York Times reported.

As usual, Texas Republicans are just not up to the task. They always propose these halfway solutions, when the most effective way to stop these school shootings is to arm the students — preferably with armor-piercing bullets. A couple instances of 8-year olds turning an attempted shooter into swiss cheese and this will stop for good!

Source: Top Texas Republicans Call For More Guns, Fortified Schools, Armed Teachers After Attack | HuffPost Latest News

Crypto Crash Contagion Could Go Beyond Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether – Bloomberg

Fascinating article on the risks in crypto currencies. But this is what caught my attention:

Tether has refused to disclose details on its $40bn hoard of US government bonds for fear of revealing its “secret sauce”, even as one of the world’s most important crypto assets comes under strain from heavy selling pressure.

To me, that sounds like a Madoff-type scam. So I checked Wikipedia, where I found the following four statements:

“Tether’s claims that its virtual currency was fully backed by U.S. dollars at all times was a lie”

Tether Limited as of 2017 stated that owners of tethers have no contractual right, other legal claims, or guarantee that tethers will or can be redeemed or exchanged for dollars.

On 30 April 2019, Tether Limited’s lawyer claimed that each tether was backed by $0.74 in cash and cash equivalents

In May 2021, Tether published a report showing that only 2.9% of Tether was backed by cash, with over 49.6% backed by commercial paper.

I admit to being biased against them new-fangled financial instruments, but this one has all earmarks of a scam.

Source: Crypto Crash Contagion Could Go Beyond Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether – Bloomberg

One hallmark of a “real” company is a quality executive team. Sure Bill Gates was a college dropout, but he surrounded himself with first rate people. Whereas Madoff’s executives were mostly friends and relatives. As for Tether, a web search doesn’t seem to turn up a list of executives. There’s even questions about the real name of the CEO.

Who is J. L. van der Velde? (CEO of largest bitcoin exchange) from ethereum

I did find a leadership list for Bitfinex, Tether’s parent company, and some info on Phil Potter, who is or was the Chief Strategy Officer,

Source: Crypto Crash Contagion Could Go Beyond Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether – Bloomberg

Least bad Texas candidate drops out, admits affair

Incumbent Representative Van Taylor (R-Plano, 3rd CD) was in a three-way primary race until news of an affair got out.

Taylor, a former Marine and Iraq war combat veteran, was considered one of the Texas delegation’s most conservative members when he was elected in 2018. But he has been sharply criticized by the party’s right-wing for voting to certify the 2020 election results and supporting a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

One of Taylor’s opponents was Keith Self.

Self is an Army veteran and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. He has claimed Taylor drifted from his conservative roots in the GOP-dominant district. He was among those who heavily criticized Taylor’s votes on the election result and insurrection investigation and Taylor’s vote to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.

The third candidate was Suzanne Harp. She is the Vice President of Strategic Accounts in a middle-market M&A firm in Richardson, Texas. She is the sole female among the thirty-one executives in her department.

When Suzanne Harp learned of Taylor’s affair, she informed two right-wing websites, which publicized the affair. Harp said that the revelations, which she engineered, were “deeply concerning, and I’m praying for all involved. . . . Politics should build up our families, our communities, and our political parties. This story breaks my heart, both as a wife and as an American. Politics should never tear these sacred institutions apart.”

Update:  In the March, 2022, five-way Republican primary, Taylor got only 48.7% of the vote and Self got 26.5%. When Taylor withdrew, the runoff was cancelled. Self will face the Democratic candidate in the heavily-Republican district in November.

Source: Republican Congressman From Texas Drops Reelection Bid After Admitting He Had Affair | HuffPost Latest News

Testicular volume is inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity in human fathers

On the one hand, this sounds like it supports the notion that stay-at-home dads are less “manly.”

On the other hand, in a earlier age, men had to do the hunting and heavy lifting, as well as producing the maximum number of babies (given the incredibly high infant mortality rate).

But time moves on, and the Big Balls types no longer have such an evolutionary advantage. Nowadays, families with fewer children — at least in the First World — have a survival advantage. And co-parenting also helps prepare the offspring for a world where success at social interaction is more important than throwing hands.

Source: Testicular volume is inversely correlated with nurturing-related brain activity in human fathers | PNAS

Trump and Jared Kusher rejected Roger Stone’s craziest plan

[Roger Stone, the G. Gordon Liddy of the Trump era] was pardoned by Trump before he left office but not for activities linked to the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. Trump granted clemency to Stone and eventually pardoned him in late 2020 after he was convicted of seven felonies, including lying in congressional testimony and witness tampering in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.

Stone worked in vain after the Jan. 6 insurrection to convince Trump to enact his “Stone plan” to grant a blanket preemptive pardon to him, Trump’s congressional supporters and all members of “the America First movement” for any prosecution over their roles in trying to overturn the election, according to footage viewed by the [Washington] Post, whose reporters examined about 20 hours of film’s footage. He also lobbied Trump to pardon others — for money — including convicted mobsters.

After Trump refused, Stone blasted him in an Inauguration Day phone call as a “disgrace” who “betrayed everybody,” the Post noted.

Stone also blamed Trump’s son-in-law and former White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, for the failure of his pardon plan. “He’s going to get a beating. He needs to have a beating,” Stone was recorded saying to an aide, referring to Kushner, the Post reported.

It’s kind of odd, but here Trump and Stone’s actions benefited our constitutional democracy.

Source: Roger Stone Reportedly Trash-Talked Trump For Denying Him Jan. 6 Pardon | HuffPost Latest News

“We remind you that Russia, throughout all of its history, has never attacked anyone.” — Dmitry Peskov, Russian Presidential spokesperson

Peskov went on to explain:

The capitalist running dogs of the Fake News Media continue to slander Fearless Leader by asserting we have bellicose motives whatsoever. Russian people only want peace for themselves and their neighbors. Sometimes our neighbors request help maintain tranquility, so we help. Is same spirit as Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance.

Source: About Those Kremlin Claims of ‘Never Attacking’ Ukraine

To learn more about the Russian plans for global harmony, read Основы геополитики (геополитическое будущее России) by Алекса́ндр Ге́льевич Ду́гин. The only English edition was machine translated and is available on GitBook.

Twitter Critics Mock Trump’s Ex-Accounting Firm For Taking A Decade To Finally Get A Clue

[Accounting firm Mazars USA, on Monday February 14,] informed the Trump Organization in a letter that it was cutting ties, noting that the financial statements it had prepared with information provided by the company between mid-2011 and June 2020 “should no longer be relied upon.”[Source: Huffington Post]

The mockery is well deserved. But, first, a bit of history:

BITEME.ME, RawStory, and ABC News were all over this nearly five freaking years ago, yet it took Mazars until February of 2022 to get the memo. Could this scandal precipitate the death of Mazars like the Enron scandal did to Arthur Andersen two decades ago? Only time will tell.