“Whatever you may think about the impeachments of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, they were at least impeached for things they verifiably did.
But Joe Biden may become the first president to be impeached entirely because of an unproven theory.
Republicans, and allies of Donald Trump in particular, have spent five years searching for the proof that will vindicate their long-held assertion that Joe Biden was corruptly in cahoots with his son, Hunter — being paid off by foreign interests and skewing US policy to support them.
Yet while much has emerged about Hunter’s sordid personal life and dubiously ethical behavior, Republicans have been unable to hang anything significant on his father.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who wrote this month: “What’s missing, despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden to his ne’er-do-well son’s corruption.”
Of course, the GOP’s impeachment effort isn’t really about what the evidence shows — it’s political. What’s really behind this is that the hard right has been demanding aggressive action against Biden, Trump wants payback for his own two impeachments, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to hold off threats to his speakership. The evidence is largely beside the point.”
“As far as Joe’s relationship with Hunter’s business partners, the investigation has revealed the following: the vice president occasionally spoke to some of Hunter’s business associates at golf outings and dinner events. Sometimes he called Hunter to say hello during Hunter’s business meetings, and Hunter put him on speakerphone, but Joe wouldn’t talk business. Officials in Biden’s office forwarded information about White House events to Hunter. Joe once wrote a college letter of recommendation for the son of a Chinese executive in business with Hunter.”
“did Joe actually make Hunter give him half his salary?
In the laptop material, there are many resentful tirades from Hunter about how much he does for his family and how unappreciated he is, often laden with exaggerations and persecution fantasies (usually coming when family members were trying to get him off drugs).
There is evidence of some intermingling of Joe’s finances with Hunter’s. Eric Schwerin, who Hunter had hired to help with his finances in the mid-2000s, also assisted Joe Biden with managing his finances when he was vice president. Hunter covered some expenses for Joe, like home repairs and cell phone bills.
And Hunter claimed in another text that his dad had long used one of his accounts. “My dad has been using most lines on this account which I’ve though the gracious offerings of Eric [Schwerin] have paid for past 11 years,” he texted in 2018.
But there’s no documentation of anything remotely near half Hunter’s (sizable) income, or any sort of set percentage, going to Joe. The covering of expenses that’s been documented seems to have been more informal — Hunter, the highest-earning Biden, picking up the tab for his dad, or setting some bills on autopay.”
“there’s no evidence that the US policy of pushing for Shokin’s ouster was meant to protect Burisma. As many US officials testified back during the Trump impeachment inquiry, the US government had concluded Shokin was corrupt for other well-documented reasons, and wanted him gone.”
“if Zlochevsky had secretly agreed to pay Joe Biden $5 million while he was vice president, that would be a huge scandal. But did it actually happen?
Currently, there’s not a shred of evidence that it did happen. Of course, Zlochevsky did say it was done so amazingly secretly that it will be impossible to find, which is… convenient.
Here’s another problem. The FBI document states that the informant had already briefed the Bureau on one of these talks with Zlochevsky several years ago. Back then, though, the informant didn’t mention any salacious bribe claims. Only years later, well after Trump had publicly been trying to make Biden and Burisma a huge scandal, and that the Justice Department was investigating it, did the informant “recollect” these juicy Zlochevsky claims.
Another issue is that the informant says he barely knew Zlochevsky, so this level of purported candor may seem odd. “CHS explained it is very common for business men in post-Soviet countries to brag or show-off,” the document reads.
In any case, all we have here is a claim. No evidence has emerged to prove that claim true.”
“Hunter messaged back, “I am sitting here with my father and we would like to understand why the commitment made has not been fulfilled.” He continued in a threatening vein: “I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction.”
It reads like a shakedown, and indeed, the Chinese company would send over $5 million a few days later. Was Hunter actually speaking on behalf of his father, as he appeared to imply, or again simply throwing his name around without his knowledge? When these messages emerged, an attorney for Hunter said that “any verifiable words or actions of my client, in the midst of a horrible addiction, are solely his own and have no connection to anyone in his family.””
“All of this is extremely messy and shady on Hunter’s part. It’s clear Hunter Biden wanted people to think his father was deeply involved in his dealings.
But again, evidence of Joe Biden’s actual involvement is absent.”
“It doesn’t have to be like this; the whims of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Party’s hard-core members don’t have to determine whether federal workers get paid or not. Instead, we could eliminate shutdowns altogether using something called an automatic CR.
Usually, when the federal government shuts down or is on the verge of shutting down, the issue is resolved in the short term by passing a “continuing resolution” (or CR): a bill saying, basically, that the government should stay the course and keep spending what it’s been spending, maybe give or take a few minor tweaks. In the average year, CRs fund the government for 137 out of 365 days.
By extension, we could eliminate government shutdowns forever by enacting an automatic CR: a law that says that in the event that Congress fails to authorize funding for the government, things will just keep going along the way they’ve been.”
“A decades-long conflict in the Caucasus flared up last week — only to seemingly finally be decided.
Azerbaijan on September 19 launched an “anti-terror” strike aimed at Nagorno-Karabakh, the semi-autonomous, majority-Armenian region within its internationally recognized borders. One day later, the breakaway government agreed to disarm and dissolve its military. It was the second time in three years that Azerbaijan’s government made decisive gains in a conflict with Nagorno-Karabakh.
Now, many of those ethnic Armenians are fleeing the territory — 50,000, according to authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, although some estimates are as high as 70,500. The breakaway region’s leaders told Reuters that as many as 120,000 people — essentially the entire population of Nagorno-Karabakh — would leave, out of fear of ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan’s government after the region’s de facto government capitulated to Azerbaijan last week.
A member of Nagorno-Karabakh’s former government, Ruben Vardanyan, has also been taken into custody by Azerbaijani border guards while trying to flee to Armenia, Al Jazeera reported Thursday. Armenian outlets have reported that David Babayan, an adviser to the region’s former president, has also turned himself in to authorities.
While tensions obviously remain high, and much of what’s happening on the ground is unclear, it does appear the “anti-terror” strike will dissolve the territory altogether. It’s a result that could echo far beyond Azerbaijan’s borders, as it has escalated an already difficult humanitarian crisis and is roiling Armenian politics.”
“The battlefront starts with so-called “joint employer” or “joint liability” standards, which the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is expected to officially impose soon. This would essentially require franchisee employees to be counted as employees of the franchisor parent corporation by holding the franchisor liable for the actions of its individual franchisees. It also would make it easier for unions to organize at the parent company level, rather than via individual franchise outlets. Progressives have been pushing for years to impose joint employer standards onto the franchise model, and the Biden administration is echoing the Obama administration in following through (after a brief hiatus during Donald Trump’s presidency).”
“Left-leaning policy makers are not stopping at the federal level, either, as states like California are also considering joint liability bills. Last year, when California passed its controversial FAST Recovery Act, which not only raised minimum wages for restaurant workers to $22 an hour but also created a 10-member Fast Food Council to oversee and regulate the entire industry, the legislation also included new joint liability rules.
The joint liability language was removed from the bill before it passed, but once the franchise and restaurant industry fought back by getting a referendum for the FAST Act to qualify for the 2024 ballot, liberal state lawmakers suddenly reintroduced a stand-alone joint liability bill. The joint liability idea is already spreading beyond the Golden State—ironically known as the birthplace of fast food—to states such as New York.”
“Being the proprietor of a franchise has long been seen as one of the preeminent—and most readily accessible—ways to achieve the American dream. Franchise ownership often requires lower startup capital compared to other types of businesses and provides training in the requisite expertise and knowledge needed to operate the business.
As a result, the franchise model is recognized as providing more opportunities for those in underrepresented communities. This is reflected in the ownership numbers, as 30 percent of franchises are minority-owner compared to only 18 percent of other types of businesses. Some have even called the franchise system “the safety net of the economy,” since a recently laid-off worker in an unrelated sector can turn around and buy a franchise and receive the guidance needed to succeed.
According to the International Franchise Association, the Obama-era version of the joint employer standard cost franchises over $33 billion annually and resulted in 376,000 lost job opportunities. Perhaps most alarmingly, it led to an over 90 percent increase in litigation against franchises.”
“The DOJ alleged that the tech giant is monopolizing the market by contracting with Apple to become the default search engine for the iOS platform. The DOJ claims that Google and Apple will harm consumers with the possibility they could exploit their dominant positions.
Despite this claim of potential harm, the default search deal between Apple and Google provides an attractive service to consumers in an increasingly competitive market. The result of this lawsuit is a deliberate step backward toward a vision of antitrust that seeks to prioritize the welfare of individual competing firms instead of consumers. Where firms are at the center of government concern, consumers invariably lose.”
“The patchwork approach can worsen land use rules, Gray warns, because each city unofficially competes by passing increasingly strict regulations to please incumbent property owners. Residents of, say, Santa Clarita or Pasadena get to protect their backyard views, the “character” of an old neighborhood, or a road with sparse traffic, while people who could benefit from new housing stock are exiled to unincorporated parts of the Los Angeles metro area, where there are fewer stakeholders to raise a ruckus.”
“Chinese hackers have found a dangerous vulnerability in U.S. military computer networks nearly 8,000 miles from the Pentagon — on the serene South Pacific island of Guam.
They attacked essential infrastructure in the military outpost in May, infiltrating networks in the U.S. territory closest to China. Lawmakers and federal officials fear these attacks, which used a new method that allows intruders to linger undetected, could threaten security in the volatile region and sabotage any U.S. response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.”
“Officials in Guam welcome the help.
“When it comes to not just cyber, but our critical infrastructure as a whole, it’s important to realize that we are isolated,” Scott said. “We have proximity to the pacing threats, and we don’t have a lot of the resources on our own to self-sustain.””
“They’re more conservative than other Republicans. More likely to be men. Less likely to have graduated from college.
And they’re way more confident they’ve made up their minds, even though the first primary or caucus is still four months away.
That’s the coalition former President Donald Trump has assembled in asserting his dominance over the Republican presidential primary.”
“Back in 2016, Trump ran away with the Republican nomination despite a crowded field of candidates, many of whom had real religious bona fides. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of a Southern Baptist Church in Houston, often quoted scripture during his stump speech. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted a Bible verse a day. Yet, despite lack of any religious credibility, Trump won half of the votes of Republicans who attended religious services weekly in 2016, while Cruz only got only 30 percent of their votes and Rubio earned 11 percent.
That was significant, but it would have meant little had he not earned huge support from Republicans who weren’t religious. During the nomination process, two in five Republicans described their religious attendance as “seldom” or “never” according to data from the VOTER Survey, a longitudinal study sponsored by the Democracy Fund that repeatedly interviews thousands of Americans. Among those who said that they never attended religious services, two-thirds were Trump voters in the 2016 Republican primary. Cruz, by contrast, managed just 16 percent of this group. Among those who described their attendance as “seldom,” Trump secured 57 percent of the vote while Cruz only tallied 22 percent.”
“In 2016, 39 percent of all Republican voters attended church less than once a year. In comparison, just 36 percent said that they attended religious services at least once a week.”
“In 2008, 44 percent of Republicans reported that they were in church at least once per week. By 2022, that number had slipped to just 35 percent. In comparison, the share of Democrats who attended weekly only declined five percentage points (23 percent to 18 percent) during the same time period.”