If it weren't for 'honesty' and 'the law' we could all be RICH!
The New York Times brings us a completely batshit, absolutely true story about those sovereign citizen dudes and the amusing little schemes they use to rip off the US government -- which they don't believe exists -- for millions and millions and millions of dollars or even as much as a billion bucks from 1990 to 2013, according to one "conservative" estimate. The Times piece, by Ashley Powers, introduces us to one such fraudster, a UFO-holistic-healing-supergrifter named Sean David Morton, who's currently doing six years in federal prison after conviction on 51 assorted charges of very bad frauding. Needless to say, he's continuing to ask gullible fans for money from prison, so he can appeal his unjust conviction by the illegitimate federales he ripped off.
If you aren't familiar with sovereign citizens, LUCKY YOU. They have a whole range of fantastic beliefs that sometimes lead to violence. But even the ones who merely scam money rely on claims that at some point in the past -- either just after the Civil War or maybe with the establishment of the Federal Reserve or the creation of the income tax (or hell, all three) -- the Constitution and the legitimate US government were replaced by an evil corporation that literally owns all US citizens. In many versions of sovereign mythology, it's all a plot to enrich the Jews, too. But they also preach that if you invoke the proper pseudo-legal language magic, you can free yourself of all laws and also get money from the government (or any other sucker you target). And boy oh boy do they love frauding! Pay them enough money and they'll teach YOU to do fraud, too! Powers is careful to note that "Not all sovereigns are con men, but their belief system lends itself to deceit."
Mitch McConnell Helpfully Changes Senate Rules So President Kamala Harris Can Pass Green New Deal & Reparations
Mitch McConnell, the man who broke the Senate, wants to shatter the remaining pieces with a ball-peen hammer so Donald Trump can stack the courts with more paleoconservative fossils and outright theocrats. Trump also hasn't met his full quota of total incompetents for his sub-cabinet. The Senate is supposedly a "deliberative body" but the majority leader thinks Democrats are doing too much deliberating. He's moving forward with Senate Resolution 50, which would cut the total debate time for Trump's nominees from the current 30 hours to two. The next Avengers movie will be longer.
The resolution requires 60 votes to pass, which means McConnell needs at least seven Joe Manchins to vote with Republicans. There's currently just the one, so McConnell plans to go "nuclear" and rewrite Senate rules so it can pass with a simple majority. If Democrats insist on not being Republicans, they really leave McConnell no choice.
Man, these Obama appointees not even letting Kentucky and Arkansas throw everyone off Medicaid :(
A federal judge has blocked two states' work requirements for Medicaid, ruling that the Trump administration had been "arbitrary and capricious" in allowing the rules, which caused tens of thousands of people in Kentucky and Arkansas to lose benefits. Writing for the US District Court for the DC Circuit, Judge James E. Boasberg found that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had approved the work requirements without adequate consideration of whether they would get in the way of the program's core mission: providing healthcare for low-income people.
Boasberg had already put Kentucky's work requirements -- under the name Kentucky HEALTH and we don't care what the acronym stands for -- on hold last year for essentially the same reason. Medicaid is a program to provide healthcare, and if you add requirements that cause tens of thousands to lose healthcare, well then you're not providing it, dummies (we're paraphrasing, a bit). No, not even if you insist you're encouraging recipients to take a more active role in their own health by worrying that they'll lose their coverage by not meeting the arbitrary requirement to work 20 hours a week and then submit proof every damn month. (As we point out every damn time "work requirements come up," most Medicaid recipients ALREADY WORK). The rulings also have implications for a whole bunch of other red states that want to impose work requirements -- six others have also received permission from HHS for similar requirements.
The end of another witch hunt!
The government earlier this month advised a federal judge that it was dropping its investigation into protests at Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration, and said it would no longer pursue any charges in the case. After arresting hundreds of people and accusing the whole lot of them with being violent nasty vandals, the Justice Department only managed to get 21 people to plead guilty, and didn't win a single conviction at trial. But it sure wasn't for lack of trying!
Probably Obama's fault somehow.
Last fall, after Wisconsin voters rejected Gov. Scott Walker's reelection bid and chose Democrat Tony Evers instead, Republicans in the state legislature got very busy doing anything they could to limit the power of the incoming governor and the new Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul. Hey, voters may have chosen Evers, but that didn't mean Rs had to let Democrats actually govern, now did it? As Republican state House Speaker Robin Vos rather notoriously said at the time, the lege had to act because "We are going to have a very liberal governor who is going to enact policies that are in direct contrast to what many of us believe in." So in a two day "extraordinary session," the Republicans shifted power from the executive branch and gave those powers to the legislature, which conveniently remained in Republican control thanks to gerrymandering. Scott Walker signed the bills and then began his career as an idiot on Twitter.
Yesterday, a Wisconsin judge found the entire lame duck session violated the state constitution, and invalidated the laws it passed. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess said in his decision the Wisconsin constitution is quite specific about when the legislature can meet, and nope, the "extraordinary session" didn't meet the constitutional requirements, so sorry guys, you didn't follow the rules and your laws ARE MOOT.
The Associated Press lawsplains the constitutional neener-neener:
Oklahoma is the Florida of Alabamas.
There are a few vacancies in the Sheriff's Office in Nowata County, Oklahoma. Like almost all of them, after the acting Sheriff, Terry Sue Barnett, resigned Monday, along with the undersheriff, all the deputies, and most of the staff at the county jail. They all walked off the job after Barnett alleged a judge tried to pressure and also maybe bribe her into reopening the jail, which had been evacuated at the end of February over multiple safety issues she says the county has not made any efforts to fix. The Tulsa World has the story, which had us raising our eyebrows so frequently our forehead hurts now. (Mind you it's a heavy lift.)
Three dispatchers and two jailers stayed on the job, at least; the dispatchers still take care of 911 calls for fire and EMT services, although they have to patch law enforcement calls to other agencies. Inmates from the county jail are being held in a nearby county's jail for the time being. In a news conference yesterday, Barnett said the jail suffered from an extensive list of problems that made it unsafe, including exposed wiring and carbon monoxide gas that had hospitalized jail staff. And then there's the live snake that fell on a prisoner, which we'll get to in a moment.
Oh you dumb idiot bastard.
This morning, after giving Fox News a 12-hour head start with a yet-to-be-filed copy, Devin Nunes and a Virginia lawyer who may not have the best interests of a free press at heart sued some folks. They sued Twitter, and some punk GOP operative woman who probably sucks, and her (they allege) conspirators, Devin Nunes' Mom and Devin Nunes' Cow.
Wonkette would like to take this opportunity to sue Devin Nunes' Cow for stealing our shtick, the one we invented and which is very extraordinarily clever, and I came up with it and then set Evan loose on it one day when I noticed haw haw that Devin Nunes studied animal HUSBANDRY and even though I know that is just fancy for "farming," I said, "HEY, DO YOU THINK DEVIN NUNES IS FUCKING HIS COW?" Sure, it's no Jerry Falwell losing his virginity to his mother in an outhouse -- because it's ONE MILLION TIMES FUNNIER, STUPID DUMB LARRY FLYNT! The Supreme Court -- at least in the old liberal Rehnquist days, lol -- it would doubtless agree!
Oh, wait, we just remembered you can't copyright an idea, which makes us a better lawyer than Devin Nunes's Virginia dude. Allegedly. We opine.
Nunes's grievances are many -- as they should be with a demand that the courts award him $250 million -- and they are dumb.
How Dumb Are They?
Devin Nunes and his Free Speech Hero lawyer, Steven Biss -- who once sued a paper for printing "fake news" about a school board member that was actually very real news -- have several complaints. (After a very long introduction in which it is explained for no reason at all that Devin Nunes once introduced a bill for The Troops.) The first complaint, about which we do not care, is that Nunes claims he is being "shadowbanned" by Twitter. Fox News's Judge Andrew Napolitano made quick work of that one; a private company, despite being the new "town square," does not have to give untrammeled access to its platform, and may in fact, thanks to the Communications Decency Act, censor people. This was to Devin Nunes's benefit yesterday when Twitter suspended user Devin Nunes' Mom for being gross and mean and VERY hilarious and sounding just exactly like a common Wonkette.
We told you she'd be fine.
Need something to be happy about today? It is Ruth Bader Ginsburg's birthday, and she is 86 years old, and she's been back at work for WEEKS now, ever since her most recent bout of having to tell cancer to kiss her ass.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RBG!
If you are wondering how to celebrate RBG's birthday, a good way would be to write a very good legal opinion about how Brett Kavanaugh needs to be deleted from the Court. Another way would be to engage in RBG's favorite pastime, which is called Going Planking, and it is an Exercise Thing she does! If you are in DC, a group is doing a Plank-In on the Supreme Court steps this very afternoon, and here is why:
Not an accused rapist. Just very understanding of them.
While all the usual terribleness rolls on, so does the greatest single project of Donald Trump and the Republicans: filling the federal courts with so many rightwing judges that even if the country elects Democrats for the next 30 years, there'll be at least an even chance that progressive legislation may be declared null and void in the name of "individual freedom." Forget that they're no good at passing laws; the Republicans are confirming virtually every last incompetent stooge the Federalist Society can dredge up.
Consider Neomi Rao, Trump's nominee to fill the seat on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit left vacant when Brett Kavanaugh boofed his way onto the Supreme Court. Rao has never been a judge, so let's put her on the most important stopping points before the Supremes. And hey, she even has a history of problematic writings in college, not unlike another Trump appointee, Ryan Bounds, whose nomination failed when Tim Scott and Marco Rubio withdrew their support. Not this time: All the Republicans in the Senate voted to move Rao's nomination forward yesterday, and she's expected to win final confirmation today.
Greg Abbott, we don't even know you anymore.
Texas's great big hunt to manufacture some outrage over "legal aliens illegally registered to vote" started falling apart almost as soon as it was announced, since it was based on bad assumptions and bad use of data. Secretary of State David Whitley breathlessly announced in January his office had compiled a list of 98,000 registered voters listed as non-citizens by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which runs the driver's license office. Worse, since 1996, some 58,000 of 'em had voted!!! Wingnut media and Donald Trump took to wailing about voter fraud even as nit-pickers pointed out the data was crap, because the DPS only had records on people who said they weren't citizens when they applied for a driver's license or photo ID. Tons of people on the list actually been naturalized citizens later, and were completely legal to vote. In fact, as three federal lawsuits against the fake list of suspicious voters have proceeded, DPS officials have said 25,000 people on the list had already proven they were citizens when Whitley's office released it. Long story short, it's a massive clusterfuck that's proving to be a huge embarrassment to both Whitley and to Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed Whitley to the post in December.
And now that Whitley is facing a very difficult confirmation fight in the state Senate (yeah, he's been in the job with no "acting" title; we dunno, it's fucking Texas), Abbott has finally taken a brave stance on who's responsible for the embarrassing fucktangle: Not Whitley, who did the shitty "analysis," but DPS chief Steve McCraw, for generating the data in the first place. This is a bit of a problem since, as the invaluable Texas Tribune reports, DPS made clear to the SecState's office the data was flawed from the get-go.
Still, Abbot makes a compelling case, if by "compelling" you mean he's good at pointing anywhere but his shit-covered appointee and yelling "SOMETHING STINKS!"
Domestic Terrorist Coast Guard Man Just Wanted To Cleanse Nation Of Its Enemies (Reporters And Democrats), And Everyone Else
Thank goodness all hate crime reports are fake, huh?
A US Coast Guard lieutenant who served in the service's Washington DC headquarters has been arrested and accused of domestic terrorism after law enforcement nabbed him Friday on gun and narcotics charges. A court document filed Tuesday says the initial charges against Christopher Paul Hasson are only the "proverbial tip of the iceberg," because the "defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life." Fortunately for everyone, in addition to being a self-proclaimed white nationalist who wanted to commit "focused violence" to bring about a white "homeland," Hasson was also a fucking idiot. He kept some of his planning for a massive attack on civilians, including a target list of media and political figures to assassinate, on his work computer. Yet another reason GOOD citizens only read Wonkette at work.
RBG helps put smackdown on civil asset forfeiture.
The Supreme Court has pulled the plug on what was proving to be a gross but lucrative side hustle for law enforcement. In a unanimous decision, the Court ruled that the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applies to individual states, as well.
Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana, is a self-described "former heroin junkie." He pleaded guilty five years ago to selling $260 worth of heroin. The government seized his $42,000 Land Rover through the process of "civil asset forfeiture" or, in layman's terms, state-sanctioned piracy. Timbs was not a criminal mastermind. He only sold drugs twice, both times to cops. He bought the Land Rover with money from his late father's insurance policy. Yes, he used the car to buy drugs but even so, the maximum fine by Indiana law for his crimes was $10,000.
Yet more weaponized incompetence.
In court filings Friday, the federal government argued that even though a recent government report stated that many more children were taken from their parents at the border than have been accounted for, trying to reunite all of them with their parents would be a heck of a lot of work, and taking them away from their new homes would be disruptive, so it would be best just to leave things as they are.
What, you don't agree?
Sorry, don't mean to clickbait you, but UGHHHHH.
A disgusting, gross 67-year-old man from Leavenworth, Kansas, was convicted last year for soliciting sex from young girls through Facebook. Raymond Soden exchanged messages with a 13-year-old girl and offered her money for nude photos of herself and for physical sex acts. Soden was not confused and merely thought he was chatting up a kinky senior citizen online. He knew the girl was 13.
Soden should rightly spend the rest of his twisted life behind bars. He had two prior convictions, one for battery and the other for sexual battery. The prosecution argued for a somewhat-fitting 13 years in prison, in keeping with state guidelines. District Court Judge Michael Gibbens instead sentenced Soden to just five years and 10 months. Soden's current victims might be old enough to vote then.
Kansas state law required that Gibbens have "compelling" reasons for his softball sentence, and Gibbens's rationale is almost as sick as Soden is. He claims that Soden's victims were partly to blame for what happened. He wasn't even convinced they'd actually been harmed all that much.
Sunday show rundown a day late, some dollars short!
It's your friendly neighborhood Sunday Show Rundown, which Rebecca forgot to post yesterday, and she has no idea how that happened. Today features one political supervillain and one "banality of evil" villain, so let's dive in.
We begin with former Trump campaign advisor, South Florida lowlife, and soon to be federal inmate Roger Stone.
Saving lives? Why do you hate America?
In a federal court in Tucson on Friday, four Arizona activists with the group "No More Deaths" were convicted on an assortment of charges related to entering a wildlife refuge to leave water and food for undocumented immigrants. The four women were arrested by a US Fish and Wildlife officer in August 2017 after they'd left the supplies in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona; it's among the deadliest stretches of desert on the US-Mexico border. They face a maximum penalty of six months in federal prison and fines of $500 each for their acts of premeditated lifesaving, the Arizona Republic reports.
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