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babylonsister's Journal
babylonsister's Journal
November 1, 2023

Does New Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Have a Bank Account?


Does New Speaker of the House Mike Johnson Have a Bank Account?
Speaker Mike Johnson has never listed a bank account on his financial disclosure. In fact, on his newest disclosure he doesn’t list a single asset at all.
Roger Sollenberger
Senior Political Reporter
Published Nov. 01, 2023 4:50AM EDT


Over the course of seven years, Johnson has never reported a checking or savings account in his name, nor in the name of his wife or any of his children, disclosures show. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have money stashed in any investments, with his latest filing—covering 2022—showing no assets whatsoever.


House Ethics Committee filing guidelines state that members must disclose bank accounts they have at every financial institution, as long as the account holds at least $1,000 and the combined value of all accounts—including those belonging to their spouse and dependent children—exceeds $5,000.

The rules cover all “interest-bearing, cash-deposit accounts at banks, credit unions, and savings and loan associations,” including checking, savings, and money market accounts, along with certificates of deposit and individual retirement funds, or IRAs. (Johnson reported receiving a $10,485.53 distribution from a New York Life IRA in 2017, his first year in office, possibly from a retirement account he had listed the previous year.)

It’s certainly not uncommon for Americans to have less than $5,000 in their bank account. Most Americans—57 percent—couldn’t handle an unexpected $1,000 expense, according to a report earlier this year. And the median amount that Americans keep in their bank account is $5,300. But Johnson’s household income puts him in the top 12 percent of earners in the United States. And it’s extraordinarily rare for members of Congress to not list a qualifying bank account—let alone zero assets whatsoever.

The Daily Beast reached out to Johnson’s office for comment but did not receive a reply.
October 30, 2023

Court arguments on blocking Trump from the presidential ballot under the 'insurrection' clause begin

Court arguments on blocking Trump from the presidential ballot under the ‘insurrection’ clause begin
by NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press - 10/30/23 7:23 AM ET

DENVER (AP) — The campaign to use the U.S. Constitution’s “insurrection” clause to bar former President Donald Trump from running for the White House again enters a new phase this week as hearings begin in two states on lawsuits that might end up reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.

A weeklong hearing on one lawsuit to bar Trump from the ballot in Colorado begins Monday, while on Thursday oral arguments are scheduled before the Minnesota Supreme Court on an effort to kick the Republican former president off the ballot in that state.

Whether the judges keep Trump on the ballot or boot him, their rulings are likely to be swiftly appealed, eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court has never ruled on the Civil War-era provision in the 14th Amendment that prohibits those who swore an oath to uphold the constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding higher office.

“We’ve had hearings with presidential candidates debating their eligibility before — Barack Obama, Ted Cruz, John McCain,” said Derek T. Muller, a Notre Dame law professor, listing candidates challenged on whether they met the constitutional requirement of being a “natural born citizen.” But these cases, Muller added, are different, using an obscure clause of the Constitution with the “incendiary” bar against insurrection.

Even if they’re long shots, Muller said, they have a plausible legal path to success and raise important issues.


October 29, 2023

Mike Johnson Backs Changing 'Motion to Vacate' Rule


Mike Johnson Backs Changing ‘Motion to Vacate’ Rule
October 29, 2023 at 3:05 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

House Speaker Mike Johnson told Fox News that he “isn’t afraid” of changing the rules governing how the speaker can be removed from the post by any one member who introduces a “motion to vacate.”

Said Johnson :”Everyone’s here in good faith … and everyone has told me that that rule has to change.”

He added: “I’m not afraid of it because I’m going to openly work transparently and work with every member and everyone will be … will fully understand what we’re doing and why.”
October 28, 2023

Donald Trump Attacks Judge Who Ruled Ivanka Must Testify In New York Trial

Well, someone seems unhinged...


Donald Trump Attacks Judge Who Ruled Ivanka Must Testify In New York Trial
Decca Muldowney
Updated Oct. 28, 2023 5:39PM EDT /
Published Oct. 28, 2023 5:32PM EDT

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing Trump’s New York civil fraud trial, for ruling that Ivanka Trump would be required to testify despite being dismissed as a defendant in June. In a series of Truth Social posts on Saturday. Trump called Engoron an “Unhinged” and a “Nut Job,” before ranting, “I truly believe he is CRAZY, but certainly, at a minimum, CRAZED in his hatred of me.” In his second post, Trump described Engoron as “grossly incompetent.” On Oct. 25, Engoron forced Trump to testify for insulting a law clerk, and the fined him $10,000 after the former president violated a gag order in the case.
October 27, 2023

digby: Mike Johnson isn't just a religious extremist


Mike Johnson isn’t just a religious extremist
Published by digby on October 27, 2023
He’s an anti-immigrant zealot too

Greg Sargent writes about the new Speaker’s extreme views on immigration:

Rep. Mike Johnson, the newly elected House speaker, has repeatedly flirted with what’s known as the “great replacement theory,” the idea that Democrats are scheming to supplant American voters with immigrants. The Louisiana Republican’s views show how fringe conspiracy theories have gone mainstream in the Republican Party at the highest levels of power.

“This is the plan of our friends on this side — to turn all the illegals into voters,” Johnson said at a congressional hearing in May 2022, gesturing at Democrats. “That’s why the border’s open.”


On immigration, as well as on abortion and gay rights, Johnson’s elevation is a triumph for the far right. It has been widely noted that Johnson doesn’t come across as a MAGA bomb-thrower, despite his extreme views. That’s true on immigration, too: He voices high-minded platitudes about how providing asylum to the persecuted is a noble ideal, but he’s a big booster of the wildly radical House GOP border bill that would functionally gut asylum entirely.


That someone with these views now controls the House’s agenda bodes badly. Johnson has already declared that a top priority is fixing our “broken” border. Julián Castro, a former member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, anticipates Republican efforts to shut down the government to force Democrats to “remake the asylum system in the MAGA cult’s image.”

Congressional Republicans have long been split between establishment figures who favor compromise reforms (legalization of many undocumented immigrants in exchange for border security) and those who see migration as a wholly destructive force, an invasion to be rebuffed via mass deportations, an effective end to asylum and maximal border militarization. As Johnson’s new — and very powerful — leadership position reveals, the latter forces have decisively won.

You don’t have to be a loud mouth to be a demagogue. You can do it even more successfully in a quit soothing voice while mouthing Christian platitudes.
October 27, 2023

White House announces push to convert empty commercial buildings to housing

White House announces push to convert empty commercial buildings to housing
by Brett Samuels - 10/27/23 6:00 AM ET

The Biden administration on Friday announced federal financing and other incentives designed to convert high-vacancy commercial buildings in downtown spaces around the country into residential use in an attempt to increase housing supply.

Administration officials said office space vacancies have hit a 30-year high, while housing costs remain high for millions of Americans and there is a shortage of affordable housing units.

Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, said on a call with reporters that converting empty commercial buildings into residential use represents a “win-win” opportunity to simultaneously revitalize downtown areas with unused office space while increasing affordable housing units.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is releasing new guidance on how the Community Development Block Ground fund can be used to boost housing supply, while the Department of Transportation is releasing guidance to make it easier for transit agencies to transfer properties that are no longer needed, such as underutilized storage facilities that could be converted to affordable housing.


October 25, 2023

Powell declares her plea deal was extorted.


Powell declares her plea deal was extorted.
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 at 7:34:23p EDT

It didn’t even take a week...

On her social media accounts, Powell has continued to push claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that prosecutors in Georgia who brought the criminal case against her are politically motivated. The newsletter published by her dark money group has shared articles arguing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis "extorted" her guilty plea. www.businessinsider.com/...

When asked if anyone has forced, threatened or promised her anything in exchange for her guilty plea, Powell responded, "other than what is recited in the documents, no."


She should have her plea withdrawn and she should stand trial. No judge should accept a plea that the defendant said was coerced or extorted. If she believes she is innocent of wrongdoing, a plea is not acceptable.

I have stated over and over that central figures of the criminal prosecution of the 2020 sedition cannot walk away without punishment. She has already avoided disbarment in Texas. She raised at least $14mm in donations. For her to plead guilty to misdemeanors and basically walk away with no sanction of prison time because, you know, she may (or may not) bring some evidence against Trump or someone else who will get a sweet plea deal, is not acceptable. She could have also gotten a year in prison as part of the plea to avoid the RICO prosecution. To me it is starting to appear that the lawyers are being extended professional courtesy, as Giuliani’s claim that everything he did was just part of his job as a lawyer soliciting for his client. And obviously, she sees the civil cases against her as bullshit, she can drag it out for years, and then drag out paying money for years more, all the while raising more money.
October 25, 2023

Judge Calls Out Trump Lawyers Who Asked for COVID Delay--But Won't Wear Masks


Judge Calls Out Trump Lawyers Who Asked for COVID Delay—But Won’t Wear Masks
Chaya Tong
Breaking News Intern
Updated Oct. 24, 2023 7:24PM EDT /

Judge Engoron denied a request from Chris Kise, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys, who asked for former president’s New York fraud trial to be postponed because members of the attorney general’s legal team have tested positive for COVID. Kise said he was sitting away from the AG’s table Tuesday to avoid catching COVID and complained about his opponents’ lack of notification, saying that “the leading candidate for president of the United States in this courtroom today,” and griping “I don't think we should really be here today.” Another Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, said she did not want to use the same microphone as the AG’s office. Judge Engoron said that the trial would proceed as planned, clapping back at the request: “Masks are available. We are going to proceed.” A spokesperson for the AG’s office said later that it had followed the CDC’s guidelines, adding: “if there were any concerns, defendants could wear masks today or at any point, but they have opted not to.”
October 17, 2023

VR Is Shockingly Good at Relieving Cancer Patients' Pain

VR Is Shockingly Good at Relieving Cancer Patients’ Pain
In many study after study, the technology alleviated discomfort, anxiety, and depression due to various diseases and conditions.
Tony Ho Tran
Deputy Editor, Innovation & Tech
Published Oct. 16, 2023 6:30PM EDT

Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s best efforts, virtual reality has yet to really take off. But that doesn’t mean that VR isn’t useful. The technology has the potential to transform the way we treat mental health, fall in love, and even cope with death. As VR becomes more sophisticated and commonplace, we’ll begin to see more ways that it’s capable of improving our everyday lives—especially those of the most vulnerable among us.

That’s what researchers in the U.K. discovered in a comprehensive review published Monday in the journal BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care that found that immersive VR was able to help ease pain and anxiety in cancer patients. The technology also seems to have alleviating effects on patients with other debilitating, long-term issues such as dementia, multiple sclerosis, and kidney diseases—while offering a way of reducing the need for pharmaceuticals like opiates.

“VR offers a potential alternative to pharmaceutical interventions for managing pain and anxiety related to medical conditions,” lead author Martin Dempster, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, told The Daily Beast in an email. “We are not suggesting that VR should completely replace pharmaceuticals but that it could perhaps reduce the need for these drugs, thereby avoiding problems arising from the interactions between different drugs.”

The review looked at 31 studies published over a 30-year period on how VR could be used to treat pain in patients with cancer, dementia, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis. The patients were treated with a variety of VR intervention techniques, including video games as well as immersive and relaxing experiences. These experiences ranged from ocean exploration to the “world of art,” with even one set on the Titanic (though it’s unclear how relaxing that particular experience was).


Overall, the authors found that the VR intervention helped alleviate patients’ pain and even increased their happiness. One study determined that relaxing virtual environments “significantly reduces pain and fatigue, while improving subjective anxiety and depression among inpatients with cancer,” while another found that they alleviated anxiety, depression, stress, and pain amongst patients with heart conditions.


October 16, 2023

Biden to Launch Account on Truth Social


Biden to Launch Account on Truth Social
October 16, 2023 at 2:46 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

The Biden campaign is launching an account on former President Trump’s Truth Social, Fox News reports.

Said a Biden campaign aide: “There’s very little ‘truth’ happening on TruthSocial, but at least now it’ll be a little fun.”

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