republican corruption

Fifty thousand barrels: Craft brewers (finally) win their struggle

Of course this should have happened years ago:

Ending a two-year battle, North Carolina’s biggest craft brewers have reached a compromise with the state’s wholesale distributors that would let them and other large brewers at least double their annual production. The effort pitted the fast-growing craft beer industry against wholesale distributors, a group that reinforced its clout with nearly $1.5 million in political contributions in the last four years.

The compromise announced Wednesday would create a new category of “Mid-Sized Independent Breweries” such as NoDa, Olde Meck and Red Oak. Their ability to self-distribute would be raised to 50,000 barrels. The new law would allow mid-sized breweries to distribute “up to” 50,000 barrels a year. Breweries would not lose that authorization if they exceeded 50,000 barrels. However, this new authorization would be limited only to those breweries that sell less than 100,000 barrels of beer per year.

This is really good news, especially for people like me who would love to have a craft brewer set up shop in our small towns. Something like that can be a major catalyst for economic revitalization, but that previous cap had held many craft brewers back. Cheers!

Two-Faced Tillis strikes again, waffling on Trump "emergency" vote

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Give him a back door, and he will bolt right through it:

Four Republican senators have publicly said they will support a House-passed resolution of disapproval when it comes up for final passage in the Senate on Thursday. That would be just enough to ensure passage of a measure overturning the national emergency that the president declared to secure border wall funding over Congress’s objection.

But that near certainty appeared to shift on Tuesday as Vice President Mike Pence pressed Senate Republicans at a closed-door meeting before their weekly policy lunch.

If I'm reading this correctly, the Senate would be revising the law on future emergency declarations, but not the Wall issue. Which would almost be worth it, just to keep Trump under control going down the road. But what if Trump Vetoes that bill? Can we count on enough Republican Senators to have the intestinal fortitude and personal integrity to override? That was a rhetorical question, because that fantasy creature doesn't exist. As for Tillis, he's just blowin' in the wind, as usual:

Gentrification on steroids: The Opportunity Zone program

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Making money and dodging taxes is the American way:

Developers have a new reason to build in already-booming Durham. A new federal incentive will encourage investors in certain parts of the city, including East Durham, west of Duke University and in Southwest Durham. But the “opportunity zones” could also lead to private investors tearing down existing houses to build big, new houses and getting tax breaks on their returns, Durham County Commissioner James Hill said Monday.

“This is why this has been called the Kushner bill,” he said, referring to Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Personal anecdote time, try not to yawn too much: Every year my town throws a "business social," wherein we invite dozens of movers and shakers to a hoity-toity gathering in the hopes of attracting investments. Last year, one of the speakers was a lady simply giddy with the prospect of Opportunity Zones. She's a banker, but in the investment division, and while I was waiting patiently to hear about how this might improve our town, she spent the entire time (much more than any other speaker) talking about dodging Capital Gains taxes. In short, the more the merrier. Meaning, the really high-dollar projects are preferred, and result in the best "return" on said investments. Not much room for affordable housing in that formula. Here's more from the people who really understand this:

Evidence shows Burr coordinated with NRA in 2016 Election

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The only time he actually does something always involves campaign money:

Back in 2016, when North Carolina Republican Richard Burr prevailed against Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, Burr employed National Media outright, while the NRA used Red Eagle. As in the other races, Ferrell signed off on purchases for both sides. FCC paperwork filed by WECT, the NBC affiliate in Wilmington, shows Ferrell signing off on purchases for the Burr campaign on October 12, 24, and 27 and November 2 as an “agent for Richard Burr Committee.” At the same time, he authorized Red Eagle purchases on behalf of the NRA on September 19 and October 21.

The campaign coordination alone is a serious issue, and one of the few safeguards left in place after Citizens United. But even more concerning is the likelihood that Russian money was used to get Richard Burr re-elected:

Congressional Democrats vow to intervene if court tries to force certification of Harris

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And it appears they have the authority to do just that:

The House Democratic investigations could pave the way for a new election in the district, even if the court orders the board of elections to certify Harris as the winner instead of the board ordering a re-vote itself. The House Administration Committee, now controlled by Democrats, has the authority to call for another election after investigating the 2018 results.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who is slated to chair an election-focused subcommittee of the House Administration Committee, told POLITICO that the House will intervene if the North Carolina court ordered the election certified for Harris before the state investigation has concluded. Any House member could object to seating Harris and block him, triggering an investigation by Fudge's committee.

It might seem like a trivial detail, but you'll notice from the headline above I didn't say, "...court tries to certify Harris." Because it does not have that authority. It does, however, have the authority to "direct" the NC BoE to certify Harris, via Writ of Mandamus. But Congress itself has the final say, apparently:

The AOC effect: 70% marginal tax rate dissected

A high level of energy can spur growth or destroy:

Progressive House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for a sharp tax hike on the highest incomes in order to fund a massive “Green New Deal” plan that would phase out fossil fuels by 2030, as she tries to push the political debate to the left.

“It’s ambitious,” the New York Representative told 60 Minutes in an interview scheduled to air Sunday. “It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now.”

Several of my more intelligent (than me) friends have been explaining why this is a good idea, using frequent references back to when the tax rate for the wealthy was even higher than she's proposing. And those arguments are intellectually sound. But here's the thing: After some of the nasty battles we've fought within the party over the last several years, it's become apparent that many Democrats simply do not understand the ideological makeup of American voters. We haven't had a "landslide" Presidential election in numerous cycles, and for all practical purposes, our country is split 50-50. To say that's a "delicate balance" is a vast understatement. I'll continue below the fold, for brevity's sake:

The King of Irony: Trump's attack of John Edwards comes back to haunt

Paying off mistresses with donor money is not what the doctor ordered:

To begin with, it is the John Edwards prosecution which itself strengthens the case against Trump. Everyone knew that Edwards was on trial for having donors make payments to his mistress to help fund his campaign. This put Trump and everyone else on fair notice that federal prosecutors were treating such payments as reportable campaign expenditures in certain circumstances. Trump even tweeted about the case at the time. At the very least, the Edwards precedent should have caused Trump to seek advice of counsel on whether payments made to hush up mistresses timed specifically to help his election campaign were illegal.

Not only is the legal theory against Trump stronger because of the Edwards precedent; the facts of the Trump case appear much stronger than the Edwards case as well. Here there appears to be both testimony of Cohen and people from AMI (the National Enquirer parent company) who have said that they coordinated with Trump to make the payments in order to help Trump’s election chances.

Bolding mine, because while I respect the hell out of Rick Hasen, he apparently hasn't yet grasped this fact about Trump: There is no precedent that applies to him, because he considers himself extraordinary. Things that are important to other people simply don't apply to him. When he said he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose voter support, he wasn't joking. He really believes that. That's why his Twitter feed from 3-5-7 years ago is littered with criticisms of people for doing things he now proudly does himself, because his ego has raised him above the rest of humanity. I also don't (completely) agree with Rick about this:

Big Oil's stealth crusade against Obama's vehicle emissions standards

Let the world burn, as long as the profit margins increase:

When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even for them. But it turns out that there was a hidden beneficiary of the plan that was pushing for the changes all along: the nation’s oil industry.

In Congress, on Facebook and in statehouses nationwide, Marathon Petroleum, the country’s largest refiner, worked with powerful oil-industry groups and a conservative policy network financed by the billionaire industrialist Charles G. Koch to run a stealth campaign to roll back car emissions standards, a New York Times investigation has found.

After following these astro-turf organizations and pseudo-scientific industry stink-tanks for so long, this comes as zero surprise. But the sheer ignorance of the Trump administration acquiescing to this campaign, while climate change catastrophes are occurring on a seemingly monthly basis, is still hard to swallow. The irresponsibility is bad enough, but the industry's use of racism against Obama to drive public opinion is nothing less than infuriating:

Red Dome Group has connections to Trump and Manafort

Along with a history of suppressing African-American voters:

Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who ran the ’96 convention for Bob Dole’s campaign, has hired Bill Greener, who was the GOP’s convention manager that year, according to two sources familiar with the personnel move. Greener starts work in his new role Thursday in Cleveland. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

For the 1996 convention, Manafort and Greener took cues from television infomercials to direct a fast-paced, entertaining program that reimagined the political convention format and irked many reporters, who felt the tight control eliminated any news value.

Not sure how Greener ended up working with (for?) Andy Yates at Red Dome, but no doubt with his buddy Manafort facing an extended jail term, he's probably low-profiling it for the time being:

The epitome of a brown-noser: MAGA Mark Meadows

If he had a tail it would wag like crazy when Trump approaches:

The North Carolina Republican has emerged as one of the most visible names to potentially take over in the role for General John Kelly, largely due to his proximity to the president and his relationship with the White House. And while he had not spoken to Trump as of Monday evening, that could change at a moment's notice.

Meadows is known to speak frequently with the president — almost daily — on a myriad of topics. Throughout Trump's first two years in office, Meadows has been among his top allies, particularly in multiple high-level negotiations in Congress and on the front lines on the president's behalf to push back against the FBI's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He, along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, have also led efforts to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and declassify sensitive documents in the Russia investigation.

In other words, Meadows has engaged in obstruction of justice and endangered national security, all in an effort to protect the worst President our nation has ever been foolish enough to elect. And this is not surprising, either:

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