But first, one bit of detritus from the national scene ~
The Trump administration wants to delay a Democratic effort that would require the Secret Service to disclose its spending on the protection of the current occupant of the White House and his family during their travels.
The Government Accountability Office estimated that travel by the former reality-TV performer cost taxpayers $13.6 million in one month of 2017. At that rate, travel costs in eight months would exceed the total — $96 million — for Barack Obama’s eight years. That projects to $1.3 billion for eight years of golfing.
Washington State ~
The Washington State House of Representatives, following up on news reports of member Matt Shea’s involvement with far-right and militia groups, ordered an investigation. The probe, led by a former F.B.I. agent, reported that “considerable evidence was discovered indicating Representative Shea has since 2014, presented a significant threat of political violence against employees of the Federal Government and state and local law enforcement officers, carried out through intermediaries sympathetic to the Patriot Movement.”
Shea reportedly helped plan the armed occupation and trashing of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016. He was involved in the 2014 Bundy Ranch fiasco where the Bundy family’s nitwit supporters faced off against the Bureau of Land Management, asserting their god-given right to graze livestock on federal land without paying for it. The report also states that Shea has actively engaged in intimidation tactics against political opponents, condoned intimidation of political activists, government officials and Muslims and participated in “counterintelligence gathering” in opposition to law enforcement efforts.
Shea, of course, called the investigation a “sham.” Republican lawmakers suspended Shea “from any role in the House Republican Caucus,” not quite as severe as a wrist slap. Supporters of Shea, whose district borders Idaho, responded by showering him with the second-most individual campaign donations of any state House Republican, behind only the House Minority Leader.
Southern California ~
Duncan Hunter has tendered his resignation from Congress to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The resignation is effective January 13, 2020, after he has collected his January paycheck. Hunter was one of the first two members of Congress to publicly support the current occupant’s bid for the White House’s in 2016. (The other, Rep. Chris Collins of New York resigned on October 1 after pleading guilty to insider trading charges.)
Hunter was indicted in August 2018 on sixty federal charges, alleging he stole $250,000 of campaign money and used it for non-campaign things such as family vacations, groceries, extramarital affairs. Voters in his deep-red San Diego district re-elected him anyway.
After trying to blame his wife for the illegal spending, he made a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to one charge in December 2019, with the other fifty-nine dropped. Don’t feel too sorry for soon-to-be-former Rep. Hunter, t hough. He will still receive his Congressional pension and medical insurance. Although a public officeholder, information about his taxpayer-funded pension is not available to taxpayers. Guesstimates are that Hunter will receive a lifetime income somewhere in excess of $30,000 annually. Not bad for eleven years in the House of Representatives.
Acting on the fundamental principle that no action whatsoever should be taken to mitigate deleterious effects of the rapidly-changing climate, eleven Republican state senators fled the Oregon capitol in 2019 to prevent a quorum, and thus a vote, on legislation initiating a carbon tax. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown authorized state police to arrest the AWOL senators. Sen. Brian Boquist told the Senate Leader, “If you send the state police to get me, hell is coming to visit you personally.” Boquist also threatened the state police: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.”
A legislative committee responded to Boquist’s threats by requiring him to give twelve hours’ notice before reporting to the Capitol so officials yould arrange for additional state troopers to ensure the safety of employees and the public. Boquist sued, outraged at this denial of his first-amendment right to free speech.
A federal judge has thrown out the suit, declaring Boquist’s threats were “unprotected fighting words… those of a bully on the playground… he sounds more like a character out of a Clint Eastwood movie…” Ouch
Sen. Boquist stated that the judge’s ruling did not surprise him. He said he may bring a separate action in state court, saying he believes he may do better before a rural jury.
Arizona congressman Paul Gosar is so noxious that during his 2018 re-election bid his six siblings endorsed his Democratic opponent in campaign ads. Gosar’s political career is noteworthy for its toxic buffoonery. He was elected to represent a rural district west of Phoenix in 2010 with endorsements from Sarah Palin and “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio. He has since declared that the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was planned by “an Obama sympathizer” and that liberal crusader George Soros was a Nazi collaborator. He is a relentless promoter of Islamophobic conspiracy theories.
Gosar’s latest headline maker was a tweet with a photo of Barack Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the caption “the world is a better place without either of them in power.” The picture was almost instantly and widely debunked as a fake. The original photo was of former President Obama with former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Obama had never met Rouhani in person. Gosar had sent out a crudely Photoshopped fraud with Rouhani in place of Singh.
The response from Gosar was predictable. He tweeted: “To the dim witted reporters… [N]o one said this wasn’t photoshopped. No one said the president of Iran was dead. No one said Obama met with Rouhani in person.”