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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,919

Journal Archives

January 6th Will Be the Centerpiece of Trump's 2022 Campaign

One thing that was clear to me when I read about Trump’s comments on the January 6th defendants and the death of Ashli Babbitt is that he intends to make these claims and demands centerpieces of the 2022 midterm election. For Trump everything is the Big Lie, everything is the “rigged election”, which is to say everything is payback, retribution and grievance about being driven from power.

The insurrectionists are the symbols of grievance, the symbols of absolute loyalty to Trump and the angry and aggrieved victims who are at the center of every Trump political demand, every argument. They are inseparable from the Big Lie because they are the ones who fought hardest to vindicate Trump’s claims. They are the new version of the brawny but tearful factory workers calling Trump “Sir” and asking for justice. They are, in a word, the new mascots of Trumpism.

As we noted yesterday, the conventional GOP, while all publicly loyal to Trump, wants to ignore and coverup January 6th as much as possible. They have a conventional culture war and big government campaign they are eager to run. Meanwhile Speaker Nancy Pelosi has finally created her select investigative committee to investigate January 6th. She has designed it to really investigate. Democrats have both profound civic and patriotic reasons to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th as well as obvious political interests.

The investigation commences now. It will get down to work properly toward the end of the summer. It will need to be prepared to conclude by the end of 2022 for the simple reason that if the Democrats lose power in the House – more likely than not – it will be brought to a speedy conclusion. All of which tells us that the January 6th investigation is more or less coterminous in time with the 2022 election cycle. And this confirms that the two efforts – Trump’s and the select committee’s – are on a common trajectory and certain to collide.


Turn to Stone

Joe Walsh has a way with tasty riffs.

Sarasota County's COVID-19 cases up 71.6%; Florida cases surge 42%

New coronavirus cases leaped in Florida in the week ending Sunday, rising 42% as 15,684 cases were reported. The previous week had 11,048 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Florida ranked fifth among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week coronavirus cases in the United States increased 10.4% from the week before, with 92,148 cases reported. With 6.45% of the country's population, Florida had 17.02% of the country's cases in the last week. Across the country, 28 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Many places did not report cases and deaths around the Fourth of July, which would shift those cases into the following week and make week-to-week comparisons inaccurate.

Sarasota County reported 139 cases in the latest week. A week earlier, it had reported 81 cases. Throughout the pandemic it has reported 34,230 cases and 844 deaths.


I suspect Sarasota infection rates will continue to climb after last Saturday's LoserPalooza, although a lot of the Trumpanzees were from out of town -- so they'll be helping spread the virus in their hometowns.

Frank Morabito: What we know about structural engineer who worked with Champlain Towers South condo

When board members for the Champlain Towers South condominium building were looking for someone to oversee a massive and urgent repair project in late 2019, they turned to an engineer already familiar with the building’s problems: Frank Morabito and his firm Morabito Consultants.

“He is the only Engineering Firm that already knows the Building,” Graciela Escalante, who chaired a committee focused on the project, wrote to the board on Sept. 13, 2019. She recommended it hire Morabito. “Bottom line; He can hit the ground running.”

Morabito’s knowledge of the Surfside, Fla., condo building that collapsed last month gave him a prime vantage point to detect any visible signs that the building’s integrity was in doubt, according to a Washington Post review of board minutes and other documents. He had performed a 2018 inspection that found “major structural damage” to a concrete slab under the pool deck and entrance drive and been hired to help the board select and oversee a construction company to address that and other issues in an estimated $15 million project.

His oversight role left him still intimately involved with the 12-story, 136-unit building — drawing detailed plans, pursuing permits from town officials and attending condo association meetings. Yet work on the most serious problems identified in his report — including concrete restoration — had not begun when the building fell, killing 28 and leaving 117 unaccounted for as of Monday night.


For sake of our future, kill the filibuster

Last week, the Senate stopped action on the For the People Act, the wide-ranging set of voting reforms drafted by Democrats to make elections fairer and more representative.

No one was surprised.

Americans have become completely inured to seeing good ideas go to the Senate and die: from stricter gun laws after the slaughter of Sandy Hook schoolchildren to a congressional commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack on that very same Congress.

By now, so much promising legislation has come to despair, it seems the natural path of our political system.


Republicans' eager embrace of indecency

Sen. Mitt Romney appeared on Jake Tapper's CNN show last weekend, and for a few brief minutes, I felt transported to a saner world.

Asked about the gross things some on the right are saying about Gen. Mark Milley, he responded that "Gen. Milley is a person of extraordinary accomplishment and personal character and a brilliant man." Asked about continuing allegations from the former president and his enablers that the election was stolen, Romney didn't hesitate to call it "the big lie."

On substance, Romney was rock solid. He opposes government efforts to dictate what is taught in schools. He supports spending $1.2 trillion on roads, bridges, rail, air, water pipes, broadband and more, but when Tapper noted that the American Society of Civil Engineers wants to spend an additional $800 billion, Romney responded politely but deftly: "Well, I must admit that I do pay a lot of attention to the engineers, but, of course, they're paid based upon how much we spend in their arena." Spoken like someone who wasn't born yesterday.

Romney knew the infrastructure bill in detail. He praised President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He differed with Democrats about social spending and taxes. He stated unequivocally that the election was free and fair. In short, he was completely out of step with modern "conservatism" and the GOP.


The former U.S. tax commissioner who went to jail for evading taxes

Former president Donald Trump seemed to acknowledge Saturday that his business and its chief financial officer — just indicted on a charge of tax fraud — engaged in some creative accounting to evade $1.7 million in federal taxes.

“They go after good, hard-working people for not paying taxes on a company car,” Trump declared at a rally in Sarasota, Fla., slamming the prosecution as political. “You didn’t pay tax on the car or a company apartment. You used an apartment because you need an apartment because you have to travel too far where your house is. You didn’t pay tax. Or education for your grandchildren. I don’t even know. Do you have to? Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?”

While the Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg have pleaded not guilty to the charges and Trump was not charged in the case, he isn’t the first powerful former federal official to be linked to tax evasion. In 1956, a former U.S. tax commissioner went to jail for it.

In 1954, Joseph Nunan Jr. was convicted of evading $91,086 in taxes (equal to $911,000 today) between 1946 and 1950, including one year when he still was the nation’s top tax official. This involved taxes owed on $1,800 (about $18,000 now) that Nunan won on a bet that President Harry S. Truman would win the 1948 election.


Volkswagen Sheds Bugatti, Maker of Over-the-Top Sports Cars

Despite sticker prices in the millions, the storied brand chronically lost money. The Croatian firm Rimac will take a controlling interest.

Volkswagen said Monday that it was giving up control of Bugatti, the storied automaker whose absurdly expensive hypercars are worshiped by aficionados but seemed incongruous at a company better known for economical Golfs and Passats.

Bugatti, whose Chiron model starts at close to $3 million, will become part of a joint venture between Volkswagen’s Porsche unit and Rimac, a young Croatian company that has made a name for itself doing design and engineering projects for large carmakers.

Rimac will own 55 percent of the joint venture, known as Bugatti-Rimac, and Porsche will own 45 percent. Mate Rimac, the 33-year-old founder of Rimac, will be the chief executive. The companies did not disclose financial terms.

The deal undoes a major legacy of Ferdinand Piëch, who dominated Volkswagen for two decades and built the company into a global empire. Volkswagen’s purchase of Bugatti out of bankruptcy in 1998, long before it owned Porsche, was widely seen as an indulgence by Mr. Piëch with questionable business logic. By his own account, Mr. Piëch, then the Volkswagen chief executive, got the idea after one of his sons admired a model of a vintage Bugatti in a souvenir shop while the family was vacationing in Spain.


The Tech Cold War's 'Most Complicated Machine' That's Out of China's Reach

A $150 million chip-making tool from a Dutch company has become a lever in the U.S.-Chinese struggle. It also shows how entrenched the global supply chain is.

President Biden and many lawmakers in Washington are worried these days about computer chips and China’s ambitions with the foundational technology.

But a massive machine sold by a Dutch company has emerged as a key lever for policymakers — and illustrates how any country’s hopes of building a completely self-sufficient supply chain in semiconductor technology are unrealistic.

The machine is made by ASML Holding, based in Veldhoven. Its system uses a different kind of light to define ultrasmall circuitry on chips, packing more performance into the small slices of silicon. The tool, which took decades to develop and was introduced for high-volume manufacturing in 2017, costs more than $150 million. Shipping it to customers requires 40 shipping containers, 20 trucks and three Boeing 747s.

The complex machine is widely acknowledged as necessary for making the most advanced chips, an ability with geopolitical implications. The Trump administration successfully lobbied the Dutch government to block shipments of such a machine to China in 2019, and the Biden administration has shown no signs of reversing that stance.


Lax Enforcement Let South Florida Towers Skirt Inspections for Years

The collapse of Champlain Towers South has prompted a review of hundreds of older high-rises. Some buildings ignored or delayed action on serious maintenance issues.

Out of the smoke and cinders of a city convulsed by race riots and an immigration crisis, the towers kept rising, each new development remaking Miami’s skyline in the early 1980s and marking an ambitious bet that the battered community would turn itself around.

Over the next 40 years, high-rises like Champlain Towers, in the sleepy, beachfront enclave of Surfside, stood witness to Miami’s remarkable rebound, luxurious, multistory symbols of endurance — of booms and busts but also the harsh South Florida elements: scorching sun and driving rains, battering winds and slashing saltwater.

Florida’s high-rise building regulations have long been among the strictest in the nation. But after parts of Champlain Towers South tumbled down on June 24, killing at least 24 people and leaving 121 unaccounted for, evidence has mounted that those rules have been enforced unevenly by local governments, and sometimes not at all.

Miami-Dade County officials said last week that they were prioritizing reviews of 24 multistory buildings that either had failed major structural or electrical inspections required after 40 years or had not submitted the reports in the first place. But the county’s own records show that 17 of those cases had been open for a year or more. Two cases were against properties owned by the county itself. The oldest case had sat unresolved since 2008.

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