House Republicans have (finally) elected a Speaker, far-right Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), an election denier who tried to popularize the "independent state legislature" malarkey after the 2020 election:
Elected to Congress in 2016, Mr. Johnson is the most junior lawmaker in decades to become speaker.
He may also be the most conservative. An evangelical Christian, Mr. Johnson is the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee and sponsored legislation to effectively bar the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity at any institution serving children younger than 10 that receives federal funds.
He served on former President Donald J. Trump’s impeachment defense team, played a leading role in recruiting House Republicans to sign a legal brief supporting a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and was an architect of Mr. Trump’s bid to object to certifying them in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.
Josh Marshall has links to Speaker Johnson's podcasts, just in time for Hallowe'en. They're scary.
Election day is 376 days away...
Last weekend I made approximately 5 liters of chicken soup due to an unfortunate decision midway through the process to add more salt. Given the saltiness of the soup I put in mason jars, I recommend a 3:2 ratio of soup to water, meaning I effectively made 8 liters of soup. Most of it is in my freezer now, in convenient 250 mL jars, one serving apiece.
Suffice it to say I have had chicken soup for lunch 3 times this week. It is, however, very delicious. Except for over-salting it (which is easily corrected and preventable in future), I know what I'm doing.
Elsewhere in the world, things are not so delicious:
- Alex Shepard says the real reason House Republicans can't elect a speaker—Jim Jordan (R-OH) just failed for the third time in as many days—is because they don't have "any actual objectives beyond stymying the Biden administration and blocking liberal priorities."
- Andrew Sullivan throws up his hands at a party unfit for government.
- Dana Milbank chuckles at the Republicans wanting to "go to Gettysburg or something," which most people remember as the place the slave-owning South effectively lost their rebellion. "Washington isn’t broken," he writes. "The House of Representatives is broken — because you and your Republican colleagues broke it."
- Possibly related to the House GOP, Arthur Brooks outlines the "Dark Triad" type of malignant narcissist, and how to avoid them.
- Possibly related to that, Molly White continues her coverage of the SBF trial, today focusing on the confusing defense his lawyers have outlined.
- Speaking of malignant narcissists, which I guess would have to include all the preceding bullet points, Jeffrey Toobin (yes, that Jeffrey Toobin) warns that the XPOTUS is going to get someone killed. (Does Toobin not remember insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt?)
- Continuing with today's theme, Paul Krugman looks at Elon Musk's destruction of Twitter as a model of how an economic nexus dies.
- I don't usually go in for celebrity stuff, because things like the Post's review of Britney Spears' memoir remind me how horrible celebrity actually is.
- Moving off the narcissism theme: Sky News explains why workers have hung a bale of hay from London's Millennium Bridge.
- Chicago's Metropolitan Brewing has filed for bankruptcy, so the Brews & Choos Project will try to stop in for one last lager on Sunday.
Finally, today is the 50th anniversary of both the Sydney Opera House opening and Nixon's (and Bork's) Saturday Night Massacre. One of those things endures. The other does too, but not in a good way.
The temperature has crept up towards 34°C all day after staying at a comfortable 28°C yesterday and 25°C Friday. It's officially 33°C at O'Hare but just a scoshe above 31°C at IDTWHQ. Also, I still feel...uncomfortable in certain places closely associated with walking. All of which explains why I'm jotting down a bunch of news stories to read instead of walking Cassie.
- First, if you have tomorrow off for Labor Day, you can thank Chicago workers. (Of course, if you have May 1st off for Labor Day, you can also thank us on the actual day that they intended.)
- A new study suggests 84% of the general population want to experience an orchestral concert, though it didn't get into how much they want to pay for such a thing. (You can hear Händel's complete Messiah on December 9th at Holy Name Cathedral or December 10th at Millar Chapel for just $50!)
- An FBI whistleblower claims Russian intelligence co-opted Rudy Giuliani in the run-up to the 2020 election—not as a Russian agent, mind you, just as a "useful idiot."
- Rapper Eminem has told Republican presidential (*cough*) candidate Vivek Ramaswamy—who Michelle Goldberg calls "very annoying"—to stop using his music in his political campaign.
- The government of Chile has promised to investigate the 3000 or so disappearances that happened under dictator Agosto Pinochet, though they acknowledge that it might be hard to find the ones thrown out of helicopters into the sea, or dropped down mine shafts. And with most of the murderers already dead of old age, it's about time.
- Julia Ioffe wonders when the next putsch attempt will get close to Moscow, now that Prigozhin seems to be dead.
- About 70,000 people continue to squelch through ankle-deep mud at Black Rock City after torrential rains at Burning Man this weekend. (I can't wait to see the moop map...)
- University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley had a cogent explanation of why pharmaceutical companies don't want to negotiate drug prices with Medicare. (Hint: record profits.)
- Switching Chicago's pre-World War II bungalows from gas to electric heating could cut the city's GHG emissions by 14%.
- Molly White's weekly newsletter starts off with some truly clueless and entitled behavior from Sam Bankman-Fried and gets weirder.
- Zoning laws, plus the inability of the Portland, Ore., government to allow variances in any useful fashion, has condemned an entire high school to send its kids an hour away by bus while the building gets repaired, rather than just across the street to the community college many of them attend in the evenings. (Guess what skin color the kids have. Go on, guess.)
- A group of hackers compromised a Portuguese-language "stalkerware" company and deleted all the data the company's spyware had downloaded, as well as the keys to the compromised phones it came from, then posted the company's customer data online. "Because fuck stalkerware," they said.
- Traffic engineers, please don't confuse people by turning their small-town streets into stroads. It causes accidents. Which you, not they, have caused.
- Illinois had a mild and dry summer, ending just before our ferociously hot Labor Day weekend.
- James Fallows talks about college rankings, "which are marginally more encouraging than the current chaos of College Football."
Finally, I'll just leave this Tweet from former labor secretary Robert Reich as its own little monument to the New Gilded Age we now inhabit:
Meteorological autumn begins at midnight local time, even though today's autumn-like temperatures will give way to summer heat for a few days starting Saturday. Tomorrow I will once again attempt the 42-kilometer walk from Cassie's daycare to Lake Bluff. Will I go 3-for-4 or .500? Tune in Saturday morning to find out.
- Quinta Jurecic foresees some problems with the overlapping XPOTUS criminal trials next year, not least of which is looking for a judicial solution to a political problem.
- Even though I prefer them to rabbits, even I can see that Chicago has a rat problem.
- Pilot Patrick Smith laments the endless noise in most airport terminals, but praises Schiphol for its quiet. (Yet another reason to emigrate?)
Finally, it seems like anyone with a valid credit card number (their own or someone else's) can track the owner of that credit card on the New York City subway. I wonder how the MTA will plug that particular hole?
I tried something different yesterday after watching Uncle Roger's stab at adobo:
Ng's basic outline worked really well, and I got close to what I had hoped on the first attempt. Next time I'll use less liquid, a bit more sugar, a bit less vinegar, and a bit more time simmering. Still, dinner last night was pretty tasty.
Much of the news today, however, is not:
- US District Judge Tanya Chutkan set the XPOTUS's Federal criminal trial for next March 4th, two years earlier than he wanted it.
- Writing for The Guardian, Margaret Sullivan blasts Republican presidential wannabe Vivek Ramaswamy as "a demagogue in waiting," and a distressing preview of Millennial politicians.
- The MiG pilot who ejected during an airshow on August 13th blamed the non-flying observer in the back seat for pulling the ejection cord on his own.
- Chicago has struggled for 15 or more years to get critical repairs to our international dock on the South Side.
- Elizabeth Spiers has a pretty good idea why Michael Oher, subject of Michael Lewis's 2006 book The Blind Side and the 2009 film of the same name, is pissed off at the white family that didn't actually adopt him.
Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a couple of kids with $30 worth of radio equipment managed to stop 20 trains in Poland by exploiting a mind-boggling weakness in Polish train dispatching equipment. Despite some media sources calling this a "cyber attack," it was nothing of the sort. The instructions for how to do this have existed for decades.
Since today is the last Friday of the summer, I'm leaving the office a little early to tackle one of the more logistically challenging itineraries on the Brews & Choos Project. So I'm queueing up a few things to read over the weekend:
Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a report on Mexican food labeling laws, how manufacturers have gone to absurd lengths to skirt them, and how these fights are probably coming the US soon.
Sorry, I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes after laughing so hard:
In a court filing Thursday, Trump's attorneys recommended starting the [election interference] trial in April 2026, more than two years after prosecutors are seeking to get the trial underway.
U.S. District Judge Tonya Chutkan — who warned Trump that he is a "criminal defendant" who has "restrictions like every other defendant" — had asked each side to propose trial dates.
In a filing last week, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith's team requested that jury selection begin in December and that the trial start just after the holiday break, on Jan. 2, 2024. That date, senior assistant special counsel Molly Gaston wrote, "would vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial—an interest guaranteed by the Constitution and federal law in all cases, but of particular significance here, where the defendant, a former president, is charged with conspiring to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election, obstruct the certification of the election results, and discount citizens’ legitimate votes."
I'd say "it never hurts to ask" but the XPOTUS's lawyers already have a credibility problem with the court. Anyone want to do an over/under on the date Judge Chutkan actually sets for the trial? I'm guessing next spring, not 2½ years from now.
The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:
Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.
An Atlanta grand jury charged the failed fascist and 18 of his mooks with another 41 counts, including orchestrating a "criminal enterprise," following his attempts to steal the election in Georgia:
The 41-count indictment, an unprecedented challenge of presidential misconduct by a local prosecutor, brings charges against some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent advisers, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, his former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, who served as White House chief of staff at the time of the election.
Mr. Trump, who is running again for president in the 2024 election and is the early favorite to win the Republican nomination, has now been indicted in four separate criminal investigations since April, including a federal indictment earlier this month over his attempts to cling to power after losing the 2020 race.
Although that case covers some of the same ground as the one in Georgia, there are crucial differences between state and federal charges: Even if Mr. Trump were to regain the presidency, the prosecutors in Georgia would not report to him, nor would he have the power to attempt to pardon himself if convicted.
The 13 counts against the XPOTUS bring his total charge sheet to 84 items, most of them felonies, and most of them with the potential of jail time.
The defendants include Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Ken Chesebro, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell.
I thank the editors of Politico for keeping track of all of the XPOTUS's criminal cases. We have only 448 days until the 2024 election. We are unlikely to see any of these cases resolved by then. That said, I agree with Josh Marshall: in these dominance contests between the XPOTUS and the People of The United States, the People of Georgia, and the People of New York, the People must win.
Author Michael Wolff believes the prosecution in all three of the XPOTUS's trials has to climb a steep epistemological hill to secure any convictions:
It is precisely this behavior, unconcerned with guardrails or rules, unmindful of cause and effect, all according to his momentary whim — an overwhelming, almost anarchic instinct to try to invert reality — that prosecutors and much of the political establishment seem to most want to hold him accountable for. The chaos he creates is his crime; there is, however, no statute against upsetting the dependable order. Breaking the rules — often seemingly to no further purpose than just to break the rules as if he were a supreme nihilist or simply an obstreperous child — is not much of a grand criminal enterprise, even though for many, it’s infuriating coming from someone charged with upholding the rules.
His prosecutors will try to use his words against him: among them, his exhortations that arguably prompted the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, his admission — on tape! — that he still had classified documents, his various, half-baked plots about how to game the Electoral College system, his relentless and unremitting insistence that he won his lost election and his comments to his bag man, Michael Cohen, before he paid off Stormy Daniels.
There’s an asymmetric battle here, between the government’s precise and thorough prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s head-smacking gang of woeful lawyers. The absolute ludicrousness and disarray of the legal team defending Mr. Trump after his second impeachment ought to go down in trial history. Similarly, a few months ago, a friend of mine was having a discussion with Mr. Trump about his current legal situation. A philosophical Mr. Trump said that while he probably didn’t have the best legal team, he was certain he had the best looking, displaying pictures of the comely women with law degrees he had hired to help with his cases.
As someone who has studied law, I believe the prosecutors only need to show that the XPOTUS intended the harms he caused, even if he didn't understand them. Regardless, it's clear that he's batshit crazy, and must never hold public office again.