Let's Fix This Country
the law

With a Special Counsel, Garland Helps Trump Run Out the Clock

The moment "the pause" was over — the 60-days before an election during which the Justice Department refrains from actions that might affect votes — Donald Trump announced a run for a second term. The Justice Department has a rule not to indict a sitting president. Trump's maneuver, the earliest presidential candidate announcement ever, was clearly in the hope that this policy might carry over to shield a candidate, too.

He was right. A widely expected indictment, at least for the documents he took to Mar-a-Lago, did not come. Instead, Attorney General
Merrick Garland punted, some would say, announcing the appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel to handle the two cases, the stolen documents and Trump's alleged interference with the government process of transferring power to the newly elected president. Smith, remote from American politics, is currently prosecuting war criminals in den Haag, but has already plunged in, apparently.

Garland's stated reason for the Smith assignment is that for "particularly sensitive matters…in certain extraordinary cases, it is in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor". Biden suggesting that he will announce his candidacy soon after the turn of the year presents a conflict for Garland. Appointed by Biden, the AG is in the awkward position of criminally prosecuting Biden's rival. A special counsel removes Garland from the day-to-day workings and decisions of the investigations, although ultimately it will be he who must decide what to do with the special counsel's recommendations.…

the culture

Upheaval Roils the Social Media World

Troubles beset Musk and Zuckerberg well beyond TikTok


Two of America's otherwise hugely successful entrepreneurs have discovered that they are not immune to the consequences of hubris. Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, who swallowed up Twitter, is finding it indigestible. Mark Zuckerberg, convinced he sees the future, has embarked on a transformation of Meta Platforms, the renamed Facebook, that is draining the company of billions of dollars and has caused its market value to plunge by 70% over the past year. Meanwhile, TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has rocketed in popularity with Gen Z, making Twitter, Facebook, and Meta's Instagram seem so last decade.


Setting aside further complications – and they have cascaded – Twitter poses a financial challenge that makes us wonder whether the impetuous Musk ever pushed a pencil. After months of indecision, he had made an offer to buy Twitter for $44 billion, then backed out, was sued by the company to force honoring the deal, and decided to go ahead with the transaction rather than defend the lawsuit in Delaware Chancery court where he probably figured he'd lose.

Part of the buyout was leveraged, which means that Twitter was made to take on some $13 billion of the $44 billion in order, effectively, to buy itself for Mr. Musk. Had he used that pencil on only the back of an envelope, he would have realized that the annual interest alone runs to about $1 billion for a company that…

the nation

Christian Nationalism Wants to Take Over Your Country

A growing movement with evangelicals at the forefront says that America was founded by and for white Christians and accordingly our government should follow policies that adhere to Christian doctrine. An outlook that has always been conservative has shifted to one of "dominion", a theology that says Christians should move to take control
of government and society to rid us of the leftist "enemy within" which is "evil" and "tyrannical", conducting a "war against truth" — heard from speakers at the Road to Majority Policy Conference in Nashville this June, one of the many Christian-oriented gatherings that take place around the country.

The movement has drawn in a curious mix, those who are convinced the 2020 election was stolen, believe QAnon theories of satanism on the left, are angered by government Covid mandates, and have folded these resentments into their Christian faith.

Among them either as true believers or opportunists are Republican candidates in the coming midterm elections:

Kari Lake, running for governor in Arizona: "You can call us extremists. You can call us domestic terrorists. You know who else was called a lot of names his whole life? Jesus."

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene: "We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian Nationalists.”

Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert: "The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church" and at a church near Aspen, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.” Doug Mastriano, running to be Pennsylvania's governor, "So much for this myth of separation of church and state.".

The distrust of government intensified in the pandemic, with evangelicals angered by mask and vaccine edicts and lockdowns…

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democracy

Big Lie Believers Don’t Get How Ridiculous It Is, and They Are

FiveThirtyEight, the statistical website that tracks politics and elections, canvassed the country to find that nearly every state has candidates for office in this fall's election who agree with Donald Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him (see their graphic below). They directly asked every Republican nominee for the House, Senate, governor, secretary of state or attorney general to express that belief.

Out of 552 total Republican nominees running for office, 201 either clearly stated that the election was stolen or had taken legal action such as
voting not to certify election results, or had joined lawsuits that sought to overturn its outcome. An additional 61 didn't go that far but expressed misgivings about the legitimacy of Biden's win.

Within the states, research by The New York Times plumbed votes, records and candidates' official statements to find in a report this May that at least 357 sitting Republican legislators in the nine most closely contested battleground states — 44% — have used their office "to discredit or try to overturn" the 2020 presidential election.

That's the picture of how deeply engrained is the Big Lie almost two years on from the 2020 election with the 2022 elections imminent.

Nothing will change their minds at this late date, but there might be some utility to spelling out just how absurd a lie millions in this country have subscribed to. Utility being that everyone who reads this could pass it on. Our article's length is already abbreviated. The Big Lie is a very big story.

THE HOAX

Beginning months before the election, former President Donald Trump began a campaign against expanded use of mail-in ballots. To mitigate the spread of COVID, the states had greatly augmented their use to relieve voters from congregating in polling places. Knowing that Democrats, being more risk averse, would be the heavier users of mailed ballots, Trump wanted his followers to think them somehow illicit: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent”, he tweeted.

There was no basis for this. There have always been absentee ballots. Instead of in-person voting, five states have for years been using mailed ballots exclusively without incident.


In a barrage of tweets, Trump was setting up to claim that, should he lose the election, he had actually won it, that the Biden campaign had planted hundreds of thousands of false ballots to steal the presidency. In a July rally, he told the crowd that Democrats cannot "win elections without cheating." In one week in June, Trump had tweeted four times of foreign sabotage.

THE ELECTION

Trump and the media knew that Republicans, defiant about mask mandates challenging their constitutional freedoms, would tend to go to the polls to vote in-person. That would give him an early lead in the key battleground states. Votes by Democrats, as the greater users of mailed ballots, would barely be counted early on election night. The wave would swell in… Read More »

taxes

An Armed I.R.S. Is Coming for Us, Republicans Warn

In 2016, an analysis by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reported that the "tax gap" – the amount of taxes Americans owed but failed to pay – reached almost half a trillion dollars a year for the years 2008 through 2010, an average annual loss of $458 billion. By so reporting, the IRS was presumably angling for increased funds so it could go after tax cheats.

But Republicans in Congress, saw opportunity to go on the warpath, naming the closing week of April "IRS Week", and devising half a
dozen measures to penalize the tax agency for doing so poor a job of tax collecting. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said the IRS must "get smarter about guaranteeing tax compliance". California's Kevin McCarthy, now House Minority Leader, called the agency "a picture of government corruption and incompetence". House Speaker at the time, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, even faulted the agency for enforcing "a tax code that no one can understand", a tax code that his Congress itself had created, not the IRS.

But now that Democrats have passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which provides the IRS with $80 billion across 10 years,… Read More »

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