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(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog’s Favourite Living Canadian)
This was a story that got swamped over the past week, but Politico landed a strange one concerning Senator Ron (Shreds of Freedom) Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and his recent transformation into a laundromat for overseas ratfcking.
Among the Democrats’ concerns is that a Senate investigation being led by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has become a vehicle for “laundering” a foreign influence campaign to damage Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, according to two people familiar with the demand. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanded the all-Congress briefing Monday, citing “specific” intelligence that a foreign influence operation targeted lawmakers to “launder and amplify disinformation in order to influence congressional activity.” Though the letter did not mention the Johnson investigation, it included a classified addendum that the two sources say identified the probe as one of the sources of their concern.
In reading this, I couldn’t help but remember that Johnson was a member of that group of Republican senators who took a weird trip to Moscow on the Fourth of July in 2018. There’s something not right about that, still. And Johnson’s apparent interest in this new investigation seems to be an election-year effort to inflate the Hunter Biden story again.
The probe centers on claims that a Democratic public-relations firm sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, to influence the State Department under the Obama administration. Johnson has asked several former State Department officials to testify, and he is eyeing subpoenas as soon as this week if they do not agree to appear for depositions voluntarily. Johnson renewed his demand for transcribed interviews and documents from the former officials days after a Ukrainian lawmaker — Andriy Derkach, who has met with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to discuss investigating the Biden family — used a news conference to accuse the Bidens and Amos Hochstein, a former special envoy for international energy affairs at the State Department, of an elaborate conspiracy to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from Ukraine.
The last time senators were briefed on election security and foreign influence operations, Democratic lawmakers confronted Johnson behind closed doors about his investigation, arguing that it threatens the integrity of the 2020 election and relies on Russian disinformation to tar a political opponent. They cited in particular Johnson’s initial effort to subpoena Andrii Telizhenko, who has pushed unsubstantiated claims about coordination between the Ukrainian government and the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Johnson dropped plans to subpoena Telizhenko after the FBI’s foreign influence task force briefed senators about him, focusing on concerns over his credibility.
Johnson is several pickles short of a picnic as far as smarts go, so he’s better than even money to blurt out something damaging before November. But the weaponization of Congress’s power to investigate as a political tool reminds me most of another senator from Wisconsin who had a nice run in the 1950’s and about whom Edward R. Murrow once said,
No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of Communism.
This time, the senator from Wisconsin seems to be relying on Russians to help him confuse the public mind. Even McCarthy would have bridled at that.
I guess I’ll get used to seeing cardboard spectators at baseball games. After all, I once attended a Florida Marlins game. But it’s hard to see how fan-free sports are tenable in the longterm. From the CBC:
“I don’t think anyone would disagree that when you’re watching a football game in a closed-door setting, it feels very much like you’re watching a training game or you’re watching almost like a rehearsal for an actual event rather than the event itself,” he said. With the NHL inching closer to a return to action, according to reports that suggest Toronto and Edmonton will be the league’s hub cities, how global soccer leagues and broadcasters have adapted to the lack of fans hints at how the league could handle its fan-free games.To overcome the lack of crowd noise, most broadcasters are incorporating fake crowd noises into their broadcasts. “You’re often given the option of being able to watch a game with fake crowd noise that’s piped in by broadcasters,” he said. “So, you can listen to it as you would a normal game of football.” Some broadcasters do allow viewers to watch a game without the added crowd noise, but Mackenzie says that the sound of spectators can be an important cue for viewers. “One of the things that we have found out post-lockdown is that the majority of people need to have that crowd noise there, just as a sort of direction for them, as well in order to concentrate on the game,” he said.
I would personally finance a cardboard cutout of myself at Fenway, flipping the bird at the owner’s box for that whole Mookie Betts business.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Bucktown Stomp” (Johnny Dodds): Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Here, from 1925, are the convicted perpetrators of the bombing of St. Nedelya’s Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. This attack by local radicals on a general’s funeral killed 200 people and virtually decapitated the Bulgarian political and military elite. A general slaughter of leftists and Communists ensued; a mass grave of those killed in the 1925 reprisals wasn’t discovered until the 1950’s. History is so cool.
The persistent rumors that there are private security consultants—aka, mercenaries—mixed in with the purportedly federal law-enforcement ranks in Portland reminds me that January was the 100th anniversary of the organization of the Black and Tan forces in Ireland, as well as the establishment of outright paramilitary Auxiliaries of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Can’t imagine why that centennial leaped to mind any more than I can understand why this song keeps running through my brain.
Is it a good day for dinosaur news, Fox News. It’s always a good day for dinosaur news!
Researchers have discovered a new species of dinosaur, known as Trirarchuncus prairiensis, in the Montana Badlands with a unique hooked claw at the end of its arms, according to a study published in Cretaceous Research. The creature, which lived 66 million years ago, had more pronounced claws than other members of the Alvarezsauridae, a group that researchers described as “an unusual group of insectivorous dinosaurs characterized by possession of very short arms with a huge claw at the end.”
A huge claw to eat insects with?
In addition to the hooked claws at the end of its arms, T. prairiensis had exceptionally long legs, a snout filled with tiny teeth and its body was covered with “sleek primitive feathers.” Though its hooked claw has captured the attention of paleontologists, it’s the dinosaurs’ unique name that has also garnered awareness.”Trierarchuncus refers to the ‘trierarch,’ a seafaring ship’s captain (Greek), and ‘uncus’ meaning hook (Latin), which combined form “Captain Hook” in reference to the hook-handed pirate from Peter Pan,” researchers explained in the release.
They lived then. I am happy now. Not an accident.
I’ll be back on Monday and, not for nothing but, come Sunday, it will be 100 days until what I think we all recognize as a fairly important election. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake line and wear the damn mask.
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