(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog's Favourite Living Canadian)
By now, the process servers must be lined up halfway down Pennsylvania Avenue. Western Massachusetts's own Richie Neal has joined the fun. From The New York Times:
The subpoenas from Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner, amounted to an unexpected shift in tactics in the yearslong Democratic effort to secure tax returns that President Trump has refused to release. Mr. Mnuchin had rejected a request for the returns made under a little-known provision of the federal tax code that dates back to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration nearly a century ago. So Mr. Neal is turning to a more conventional avenue: the subpoena.
“After reviewing the options available to me, and upon the advice of counsel, I issued a subpoena today to the secretary of the Treasury and the commissioner of the I.R.S. for six years of personal and business returns,” Mr. Neal said. “While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material.”
Neal is no firebrand. That gives his decision to drop paper on Mnuchin et.al. far more weight. In addition, he did so by answering one of the phony questions raised by Attorney General William Barr.
...when Mr. Neal ultimately made his request in early April for six years of Trump personal and business returns, he said he needed the information for a narrower Ways and Means investigation of “the extent to which the I.R.S. audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a president.”
There is your "legitimate legislative purpose." Very shrewd.
On Wednesday, Chris McNair died in Birmingham. He was 93. He outlived his daughter, Denise, by almost 56 years. On September 15, 1963, Denise McNair died in Birmingham. She was 11. She died when members of the Ku Klux Klan blew up the 16th Street Baptist Church. Later, McNair got caught up as a county commissioner in a municipal bribery scandal. He was released from a federal medical facility in August of 2013. His lawyer was Doug Jones, now a United States Senator from Alabama and the man who had put the last of the church bombers away.
You wonder how Chris McNair got up every morning starting on the morning of September 16, 1963. You wonder what went through his mind in the last two years when the forces that killed his daughter are rising again, and rising seemingly at the behest of the President* of the United States. All things considered, as far as I was concerned, this was the saddest story of the week.
At some point in the history of the shebeen, we mentioned the burgeoning helium shortage. Well, it's starting to hit the general economy hard. From CNN:
Filling balloons with helium is among the company's most profitable services, according to Barclays' Matt McClintock. Helium brings people into the store, and those customers usually buy other items instead of buying on Amazon (AMZN) or at another store. But with the earth's (and Party City's) helium supplies dwindling, potential balloon customers have been searching elsewhere for party goods.
Party City also said it will close 45 stores this year. That's triple the number of stores the company typically closes in any given year. In a worrisome sign, almost all of those stores are profitable, the company said. The company is closing the stores to boost overall profitability, hoping customers will shop at nearby Party City stores. It has about 900 across North America.
It turns out that we do not have enough helium.
Helium supplies been running out for several years. Helium is formed by the atom-smashing power of the sun and other stars. But on Earth, helium is a finite resource. The Earth holds pockets of helium buried under rock, but it's notoriously hard to capture because it, well, floats. When drilling or fracking for natural gas, energy companies capture some helium and sell it. But helium makes up a tiny percentage of the gasses trapped under rock formations. Over the past few years, some drillers have claimed to find troves of helium buried underground, but those haven't always panned out. Party City said it really started feeling the pinch in August 2018.
If it's not one damn thing, it's another.
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Rake" (Townes Van Zandt): Yeah, I still sort of love New Orleans.
Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: Here, from 1931, are some bricklayers in top hats. Apparently, it was the custom among bricklayers that, when you were finishing a job-"topping it off"-you wore your topper. I think they look very dashing in their toppers and overalls, but they could have finished faster had they not stopped every few seconds to tip their hats. History is so stylish!
So it’s obviously of interest when the person leading in the polls drops hints about his yet-to-be-released climate plan. That’s what Joe Biden is now doing, but as Reuters reports, there’s a problem:
The second source, a former energy department official also advising Biden’s campaign who asked not to be named, said the policy could also be supportive of nuclear energy and fossil fuel options like natural gas and carbon capture technology, which limit emissions from coal plants and other industrial facilities. [...] The approach, which has not been previously reported, will set Biden apart from many of his Democratic rivals for the White House who have embraced much tougher climate agendas, like the Green New Deal calling for an end to U.S. fossil fuels use within ten years. That could make Biden a target of environmental groups and youth activists ahead of next year’s primary elections.
There's also a problem with how the Biden people are selling this plan, a problem that illustrates perfectly the general problem Biden is going to have in the primary campaign.
Biden’s people are just coming out and saying that he has an existing election strategy - hold Democratic voters and poach conservative blue-collar white voters from Trump - and they’re fashioning his climate plan so it slots into that strategy... But it’s pretty clear that Biden suffers from a common Democratic malady, one that produces a constant fear that taking policy positions they perceive to be too liberal will produce electoral disaster. Biden says the right things about climate change when he’s speaking in general terms - for instance, he calls it an “existential threat.” And if he wants to make an argument that a slower approach is the one that he really thinks will work the best, or that it’s the outer limit of what can be passed through Congress, we can hear him out on those claims. But if Biden is just saying that he wants to split the difference on the issue because that’s what he thinks won’t make blue-collar white people mad, he ought to come up with a better rationale.
Watching Biden try to do that, and he has to do it, because otherwise he has no rationale for running, is going to be one of the only reasons to watch the Biden campaign.
Is it a good day for dinosaur news, USA Today? It's always a good day for dinosaur news!
Another dinosaur species with bat-like-wings has been discovered, scientists announced in a new study. The 163-million-year-old fossil, which was a complete skeleton, was found by a farmer in northeastern China in 2017. According to the study, led by Chinese Academy of Sciences paleontologist Min Wang, the discovery provides further evidence that as bird-like dinosaurs evolved, they sported a variety of wings. “The most exciting thing, for me, is that it shows that some dinosaurs evolved very different structures to become volant,” or capable of some form of flight, Wang told Smithsonian magazine. This is the second fossil of a dinosaur with bat-like wings to be discovered, the first was back in 2015. That one was discovered about 50 miles away and belonged to a dinosaur that lived some 3 million years after this one.
Holy Jurassic! A Bat-dino! It lived then to make us happy now.
Top Commenter Michael Harrell, ladies and gentlemen!
Given the manliness of Rudy's client, the code name in the White House for Giuliani's trip is "Operation Chicken Kiev."
That's how you win yourself 91.11 Beckhams, people. Well-played, good sir.
I'll be back on Monday to see who else has been subpoenaed. Be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line, because there's not enough helium left in the country to help you float past it.
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