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babylonsister's Journal
babylonsister's Journal
December 1, 2022

Inside the CNN newsroom cuts

POLITICO Playbook PM: Inside the CNN newsroom cuts
12/01/2022 01:06 PM EST

CILLIZZA OUT — CNN’s mass layoffs have claimed one cornerstone of its Washington coverage: Political analyst CHRIS CILLIZZA is among those who have been laid off from the network this week. People familiar with the decision confirmed the move, first reported by Variety, with Eugene and Chris Cadelago.

CNN would not comment on the cuts. Its Reliable Sources newsletter gave a rundown Wednesday evening, reporting that new network head CHRIS LICHT said in a staff memo that the layoffs “affect both our departing colleagues and those who remain.” No word yet on precisely how many members of staff were laid off this morning. Variety reports others affected include correspondents ALEX FIELD, MARY ANN FOX, ALISON KOSIK and MARTIN SAVIDGE.

Puck’s Dylan Byers reports that as a part of the cost cuts, HLN — the sister network formerly known as CNN Headline News — will “cease all live programming.”

On Wednesday, a swath of on-air contributors were told their contracts would be terminated. We’re told folks at the network have been shaken by the layoffs, especially in the midst of the holiday season, and that Licht is likely to address the cuts in a larger way to staff soon.


December 1, 2022

Rep. Matt Gaetz's Associate Joel Greenberg Gets 11-Year Prison Sentence

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Associate Joel Greenberg Gets 11-Year Prison Sentence
The former Florida tax official, now a prolific government witness, pled guilty to sex trafficking of a child, wire fraud, and stalking—but avoided 27 other criminal charges.
Jose Pagliery
Political Investigations Reporter
Published Dec. 01, 2022 12:13PM ET 

Joel Greenberg, the corrupt Florida tax official who tried to reduce his jail time by telling the FBI that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) paid for sex with a teenage girl, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The hefty sentence comes close to the decade-plus prison time that federal prosecutors requested—and didn’t seem to give credence to his value as a government witness in a dozen other investigations into the fraud and corruption.

Greenberg turned his suburban Florida tax office into a small-time criminal operation. He used his position of authority to prey on young women, play a gun-toting cosplay cop, run government computers to mine cryptocurrency, hire his friends as top managers, and give an Instagram model a no-show job. But it wasn’t until he was running for re-election and tapped a shadowy network of Republican operatives to slander a political opponent that he was finally caught.


But none of these cases is as big as the one that has yet to be filed: underage sex trafficking charges against Rep. Matt Gaetz.


December 1, 2022

January 6 committee to discuss potential criminal referrals at Friday meeting

January 6 committee to discuss potential criminal referrals at Friday meeting
By Annie Grayer, Jamie Gangel and Zachary Cohen, CNN
Updated 8:17 PM EST, Wed November 30, 2022
CNN — 

As the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack stares down a fast-approaching deadline to complete its work, members are scheduled to have a key meeting on Friday to discuss its final report as well as the possibility of making criminal referrals, multiple sources tell CNN.

A subcommittee of members is also expected to provide options to the full committee about a number of pressing issues including how to present evidence of possible obstruction, possible perjury and possible witness tampering as well as potential criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, according to multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work.

Also under discussion in the Friday meeting will be how to handle the five Republican lawmakers who refused to cooperate with their subpoenas, which includes House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

“We will be discussing whether to make referrals, and if so on whom and for what,” Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, a committee member and member of the subcommittee that is expected to be providing options. “We are considering any offenses for which we have uncovered relevant evidence and think there is a basis for a referral,” he said, adding that could extend beyond former President Donald Trump.


December 1, 2022

What would Harry Reid do right now? Threaten to cancel Christmas to save the country

What would Harry Reid do right now? Threaten to cancel Christmas to save the country
Joan McCarter
Daily Kos Staff
Wednesday November 30, 2022 · 3:16 PM EST

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 08: Senate Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (L) shares a moment with Vice President Joseph Biden (R) during Reid's leadership portrait unveiling ceremony December 8, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The leadership portrait unveiling ceremony was held to honor the outgoing Democratic leader. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Harry Reid had no problem about threatening to cancel Christmas.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are staring down the double-barreled threat of multiple, critical deadlines and the knowledge that the House is going to be turned over to a raft of incompetent maniacs in a little more than one month’s time. The two leaders allowed their members to come back from the election on Nov. 8 and accomplish very little, then take the full Thanksgiving week—and the days book-ending it—off. That wasted time is now biting the whole nation in the ass, with the workload increasing—along with Republicans’ determination to thwart progress.

The number one thing Pelosi and Schumer needed to deal with started a few months ago, when House Republicans began announcing their hostage-taking intentions. The over-confident GOP announced that they would force cuts to Social Security and Medicare by refusing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling next year, now likely in June. That’s the promise the U.S. government makes to all its creditors and to the American people that the payments that have been promised to them—from troops’ paychecks to monthly Social Security checks to global debt servicing—will be covered. Not extending those guarantees by raising the debt ceiling threatens the entire global economy.

The threat that they would use this tactic was reiterated and reinforced. Democratic leadership more or less ignored the threat, implying that sure, it would be nice to deal with that, but there is just so little time and so many other priorities. Well, here’s a kick in the pants to that excuse of too little time, too much to do: Senate Republican leadership is now endorsing the House maniacs’ tactics, including the direct threat to Social Security and Medicare.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Mitch McConnell’s number two in leadership, told a Bloomberg panel of editors and reporters that Senate Republicans are right there with the House maniacs. They want to use the debt ceiling as a cudgel to force changes to Social Security—by “changes” they always mean cuts—and other programs.

“There’s a set of solutions there that we really need to take on if we’re going to get serious about making these programs sustainable and getting this debt bomb at a manageable level before it’s too late,” Thune said. “Typically, I think there’s been a pretty broad bipartisan understanding that default’s not an option,” Thune said. “But at the same time I think there’s an understanding that this does create an opportunity especially if the pressure’s on one side to deliver that outcome.”

The one side who would feel that pressure is the Democrats—meaning President Joe Biden and Schumer. So what should they do? Channel former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and cancel Christmas.

The threat would probably be enough to bring some recalcitrant members—possibly even some outgoing Senate Republicans—into line to get priorities taken care of. Like starting a budget reconciliation bill in the House right now that will include dealing with the debt ceiling, funding the government, and whatever other steps necessary for maniac-proofing the government. Yes, budget reconciliation bills take time, and can include all-night vote-a-ramas in the Senate. Do what Harry did, on multiple occasions: keep the Senate in session all night. Tell Senators they will have to be there all night.

Let them know that if they don’t play nice, they may have to be there until Christmas Eve, just like Harry made them do to give the nation access to health care. The Affordable Care Act passed the Senate on Christmas Eve, 2009, while a blizzard engulfed Washington, D.C. Threaten to do that again, this time to save Social Security.

Make sure the whole nation knows that’s what you’re willing to do: forego your treasured time off, during the biggest holiday of the year, to make sure the programs that are so vital will continue, unharmed. Make House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy’s nightmare of a leadership fight even harder by focusing the nation’s ire on the House Republicans.

Let Speaker Pelosi step away from the gavel having realized one last, huge achievement—saving Social Security.

Be like Harry Reid. Fight.
November 30, 2022

A Number of Republicans Don't Want to Condemn Donald Trump's Dinner With a Couple of Antisemites


Levin Report
Surprise: A Number of Republicans Don’t Want to Condemn Donald Trump’s Dinner With a Couple of Antisemites
They too know where their bread is buttered.
By Bess Levin
November 28, 2022

In the year 2022, the number one thing that unites the Republican Party is bigotry and hate. Hate for Black people. Hate for (non-white) immigrants. Hate for anyone who isn’t Christian. Hate for the LGBTQ+ community. Which is why it should surprise no one who has been paying literally any attention whatsoever that a number of GOP lawmakers apparently don’t want to publicly condemn Donald Trump’s recent dinner with two men who have made names for themselves as virulent antisemites.

Axios reports that though a handful of Republicans have spoken out against Trump’s dinner with Kanye “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” West (a.k.a. “Ye”) and Holocaust-denying white supremacist Nick Fuentes, many members of the party “have largely remained silent,” with spokespeople for almost two dozen House and Senate GOP lawmakers—including “party leaders” and people who are literally “cochairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism”—declining to respond to requests for comment. While the outlet suggests that the lawmakers’ refusal to criticize the dinner speaks to “the stranglehold Trump still has on the Republican Party” despite his poor showing in the midterms, it seems more likely that these people, like Trump, don’t want to upset voters who were actually extremely pleased to see the ex-president and current candidate for office dining with individuals who have expressed such views.

Among the small group of Republicans who have spoken out against last week’s dinner, the trend appears to be that the only ones who have truly castigated Trump are people who are departing Congress in January (representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger) or don’t actually hold positions within the party at this time (former NJ governor Chris Christie). While current GOP lawmaker James Comer, who is likely to be the next chair of the House Oversight Committee, responded to the matter on Meet the Press, his mild criticism left a great deal to be desired; he told the morning show that Trump “needs better judgment in who he dines with.” Among the elected officials who actually offered full-throated condemnation were Rep. Don Bacon, the GOP cochair of the Caucus for the Advancement of Torah Values, who told Axios of the sit-down, “I am appalled,” and Senator Bill Cassidy, who tweeted: “President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained.” (He added, obviously falsely, “This is not the Republican Party.”) Late Monday, Senator John Thune said Trump having dinner with Fuentes was a “bad idea on every level” and that the person who planned it should be fired

For his part, Trump has not felt the need to disavow the viewpoints of either of his dining companions. He also, as of Monday afternoon, has not invoked his having a Jewish daughter and son-in-law as a way to justify having dined with people who openly talk about their hatred for Jews, but it is presumably in the works.

November 30, 2022

A pharma millionaire is suing four hunters for $7 million, and the results will have ahuge impact

A pharma millionaire is suing four hunters for $7 million, and the results will have a huge impact
Mark Sumner
Daily Kos Staff
Tuesday November 29, 2022 · 3:22 PM EST
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OnX is an app that’s intended to help hunters find public land so they can go after deer, elk, or whatever they happen to be hunting. At first glance, that may not seem like news, but users of that app get an invaluable view of just who owns the property around them, which is critical when trying to reach public lands where hunting is legal. They have also gotten a very clear view of something that is otherwise hidden from the public: how corporations, millionaires, and billionaires have blocked out huge chunks of public property so that they alone can access it—without paying a dime. 

They do this by creating public land “islands,” areas that are surrounded by privately held property. The public lands in these islands become de facto parts of the surrounding property. In most states, there is absolutely no rule that says the property owners have to do anything to allow access to that island of land.

Now, in what may be one of the most egregious case of someone using their power and wealth to bully both local residents and officials, drug company executive Fredric Eshelman—net worth $380 million—is trying to make the situation even worse. He’s trying to block off huge areas of land even when he doesn’t surround them, by pressing a case that would make it much easier to prevent the public from reaching public land.

In the process, Eshelman is trying to financially destroy four hunters for “trespassing,” even though they literally never set one foot on his property. The outcome of this case will affect not just hunters and fishermen, but hikers, bird watchers, artists, photographers, and anyone who simply wants to access land that belongs to all of us.

As The New York Times reported on Saturday, the OnX app is at the center of the controversial case now being tried in Carbon County, Wyoming, because that app was used by Missouri bow hunter Bradly Cape in plotting how out he would access the public lands around Elk Mountain in Wyoming.

Well aware of how prickly many land owners are about hunters crossing their property, Cape located an area of “checkerboard” control. That is, the land is divided into one mile-by-one mile sections, half of which are public property, half of which are privately owned, like the black and white squares on a checkboard.

At one place on this checkboard map, Eshelman controlled two squares that met at a corner. The other two squares were public property. Using OnX, Cape mapped out the exact location and led three friends in stepping across the corner from one public square to the other. They not only didn’t step on Eshelman’s land, the area of his property they crossed was infinitely small. Not one state has laws against this “corner crossing,” which is common in areas where grants of public land were once given to railroad companies in an effort to “open up” the West.

Legally, Eshelman can’t run a fence across that corner. So instead he installed “no trespassing” signs at the corners of each of his squares, leaving only a few inches in between (a photograph of the signs is in the Times article). But in a return visit the hunters, aware of the signs after scouting the location, brought with them a specially constructed short ladder, allowing them to hop over the space between the signs. 

As WyoFile reports, Eshelman’s ranch manager spotted Cape’s group on the public property. After ranch workers harassed the hunters, including chasing them with pickup trucks which Eshelman’s men drove across the public land, the manager called the local sheriff along with Wyoming Fish and Game in an effort to charge the hunters with criminal trespass. Originally, officers from both agencies informed that manager that they didn’t issue trespassing charges for corner crossing. But days later, after the manager pressured local officials by reminding them of Eshelman’s importance in the county, another fish and game deputy issued the charge. 

Eshelman owns 23,277 acres near Elk Mountain, but in prosecuting this case against corner-crossing, he attempted to block access to 1.6 million acres of public land. 

The case went to trial in April, with the local district attorney claiming that someone would be prospected for trespass just for violating the “airspace” above private land (which would certainly be news to the FAA). It only took a local jury about two hours to decide the whole thing was ridiculous and find the four men not guilty.

That should have been the end of the whole thing, but after failing to get what he wanted from the criminal trespass case, Eshelman piled on to the hunters with a civil suit “for causing millions of dollars in damage” which seeks not only compensation for this supposed damage, but for the hunters to pay all legal fees in both the criminal and civil cases. He is seeking an incredible $7 million in damages for disturbing a few inches of air over his land.

As Donald Trump has illustrated so frequently, those who are wealthy enough can work the courts endlessly, using them both as a means to batter others into submission, and as a means of evading personal responsibility for anything. Hunting groups and other advocates for access to public land have raised $110,000 to help cover the legal fees, which threaten to crush the four hunters.

No matter how ridiculous this may all seem, and no matter the quick outcome of the jury trial, Wyoming officials are convinced that the landowners will win in the end. According to a Republican attorney who formerly worked for the state attorney general’s office, if the hunters win, “it would not surprise me at all that the Legislature would come back and pass a law saying corner crossing is illegal. It’s sort of if you win, you lose, and if you lose, you lose.”

Though most people are unaware, that kind of checkerboard control covers a huge amount of the American West, and blocking access to public land by this route would make equally huge areas completely inaccessible. The implications would reach far beyond one jackass pharma millionaire who used his Wall Street earnings to snap up some of Wyoming’s most beautiful property. 

The answer to a Wyoming law saying corner crossing is illegal is simply enough: a federal law saying it is. But Republicans are unlikely to allow such a law to pass, even if every hunter in America calls for it. Because for Republicans, if it comes to a contest between middle-class hunters and wealthy landowners … that’s not even a contest.

According to Forbes, Eshelman made his millions when one of multiple drug companies where he was an executive was sold in 2011 for $3.9 billion. “Eshelman personally made at least $160 million in the sale, after taxes. FORBES estimates that his fortune is worth at least $380 million. Eshelman would not comment on his net worth or on how much he netted from selling his stakes in any of his companies.”

Eshelman is a longtime supporter of conservative Republican politicians
. According to WyoFile:

He’s donated millions to conservative Republican candidates running for federal offices. In the 2008 election cycle he pumped $5.5 million into Rightchange.org, Eshelman’s “527” tax-exempt organization “formed primarily to influence a political election,” according to Open Secrets.

OpenSecrets lists Eshelman as the second-highest individual contributor to “Outside Money Organizations” in the 2010 election cycle, with $6,359,660 in contributions. His total contribution to Republican candidates for federal office is at least $28.5 million.
November 29, 2022

It's Sickening How Many Guns Were Sold on Black Friday

It’s Sickening How Many Guns Were Sold on Black Friday
Somehow, 600-plus mass shootings this year have not dampened the nation’s thirst for deadly weapons.
Michael Daly
Special Correspondent
Updated Nov. 29, 2022 3:56AM ET / Published Nov. 28, 2022 11:19PM ET 

By the time Thanksgiving rolled around this year, the nation had witnessed 609 mass shootings but had not lost its appetite for guns. Data obtained by The Daily Beast reveals that more Americans tried to buy firearms on Black Friday than they did last year.

In just the 13 days leading up to the annual post-Thanksgiving shopping orgy, there had been enough gun violence to weary any sane county. Three dead and two wounded at the University of Virginia. Five dead and 17 shot at a gay nightclub in Colorado. Six dead at a Virginia Walmart, including a 16-year-old new hire who had spent his first paycheck on a present for his mother.

But come Friday, Americans flocked to buy guns just as they did for Apple AirPods and Revlon One Step hair dryers. The FBI said that its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted 192,749 background checks—up from 187,585 last year and dispiritingly close to the record of 203,086 set in 2017.

Over the rest of the long holiday weekend, there were six more mass shootings, which are defined as involving four or more victims. This brought the year’s total up to 615 as tallied by the National Gun Violence Archive. One was sparked around 8 p.m. Saturday by a dispute among two groups of teenagers who had been escorted from the Atlantic Station shopping center in Atlanta which began requiring juveniles to be accompanied by an adult after two shootings in October.


November 28, 2022

More Than 100 Fishermen Trapped on Ice Chunk in Minnesota Lake


More Than 100 Fishermen Trapped on Ice Chunk in Minnesota Lake
Ellie Quinlan Houghtaling
Breaking News Intern
Published Nov. 28, 2022 4:03PM ET 

Rescue efforts are currently underway for more than 100 people who found themselves trapped atop a floating ice chunk on a Minnesota lake Monday. The ice broke while the group was ice fishing on Upper Red Lake in Beltrami County. “If you are on the ice and need to evacuate, head towards JR’s Corner. There is a temporary ice bridge to get across the open water,” wrote the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office in a statement. “Everyone is walking across our bridge,” updated JR’s Corner Access on Facebook, sharing a photo of the wooden ice bridge at the southeast corner of the lake. Northwoods Fish Houses LLC, a company that operates on the water, estimated that some 200 people were on the iceberg when it broke away, according to the Daily Mail.
November 28, 2022

The 1/6 Committee Has A Plan To Deal With Jim Jordan


Posted on Sun, Nov 27th, 2022 by Jason Easley
The 1/6 Committee Has A Plan To Deal With Jim Jordan

1/6 Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the committee will release all evidence so that Rep. Jim Jordan can’t cherry-pick to build a fake scandal.

Transcript via CNN’s State Of The Union:

SCHIFF: They are. I don’t think the back-and-forth is particularly helpful the committee, and I don’t want to engage in it.

We’re going to get to consensus on the report. We’re very close to that now. We’re close to the — putting down the pen and going to print. And I think the report is going to set out in a, I hope, very comprehensive way what took place, what led to that attack and all the circumstances around that.

We’re also going to be releasing the evidence, which may be the most important thing, the voluminous transcripts, the documents and e- mails. We want to make sure that that’s put before the American people. We certainly don’t want the Jim Jordans of the world to cherry-pick anything not disclosed and make a false or misleading narrative out of it.

So, the country is going to have the evidence. They’re going to have our report. And I’m enormously proud of what we have done and know I will be proud of the final result.

BASH: Well, I was going to ask you about that.

Jim Jordan has already said that he is going to — he will be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He is — likely. He is going to go through the evidence you left out. You’re saying that there won’t be evidence that will not be made public.

SCHIFF: The evidence will all be made public.

Now, we will have to make sure that we scrub that evidence for personally identifiable information, that the evidence that we provide protects people’s security, it doesn’t put them at risk. So there are things that we’re going to have to do along those lines.

But, yes, we want to put the evidence before the American people, which supports the hearings that we have done, as well as the report that we will put out, and will be a comprehensive picture.

Rep. Jim Jordan has made it clear that he intends to use his power as the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to discredit the work of the 1/6 Committee, which he refused to cooperate with.

The 1/6 Committee is preemptively preparing for Jim Jordan’s abuse of power. The Republican House majority is expected to do everything that they can to try to smear President Biden and clear Trump’s name before the 2020 election.


November 28, 2022

Robert Reich: The Crazies Are Now in Charge of Donald Trump


The Crazies Are Now in Charge of Donald Trump
by Robert Reich | November 28, 2022 - 7:26am
— from Robert Reich's Substack


What worries me most about Trump’s dinner last week at Mar-a-Lago with Nick Fuentes, the outspoken antisemite and racist who is one of America’s most prominent young white supremacists, and Kanye West, whose recent antisemitic outbursts have rocked the entertainment world, isn’t just that a former (and possibly future) president would dine with such avowed bigots.

I don’t think Trump is seeking to legitimate antisemitism or racism. The only “ism” Trump believes in is narcissism. Fuentes and West apparently showered him with enough compliments to get an invitation from him.

What worries me is how they got that invitation.

A former president, or anyone even vaguely thinking about running for president, has a staff that’s supposed to warn against dining with people who much of the public view as reprehensible.

That Trump doesn’t have anyone around him to sound that alarm – or at least anyone he’ll listen to – is a serious problem. It’s not just a problem for his own ambitions and legacy; it’s a problem for the nation.

Let me explain.

During the last months of his presidency, the more level-headed of Trump’s staff were known in the White House as “team normal,” by contrast with “team crazy” that presumably helped him plan and execute his attempted coup.

But the only way Fuentes and West would have got an invite to Mar-a-Lago is if the normals had all left. I’m reasonably sure they’re gone. Why would any of them stick around? Why would we expect Trump to keep them around?

So there’s only one explanation for the dinner. Trump has surrounded himself with crazies.


That’s my real worry: A presidential candidate who would welcome Nick Fuentes and Kanye West to dinner at his home is a candidate without sound advice, a candidate who has no one around him to tell him no, or he’s a candidate who doesn’t give a damn.

Whatever the reason, that presidential candidate is untethered. He is surrounded by people as crazy as he is. Which means he’s even more dangerous

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