As usual, there are a few links to the New York Times in today's newsletter. However, NYT Guild members are engaged in a work stoppage today, and to honor the picket line, they're asking readers not to visit the newspaper's website. That means no Wordle, too, if you play that game! - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
Three Unelected Ideologues Will Decide Our Fates, Again
The Supreme Court yesterday heard three hours of arguments over the cockamamie "independent legislature theory" being pushed by some Republicans that would effectively allow state lawmakers to rig elections as they please without review by state courts. The case, Moore v. Harper, comes out of a gerrymandering fight in North Carolina; Republicans there want the Supreme Court to impose a redistricting map the state supreme court rejected as unconstitutional. More importantly, they want the Supreme Court to endorse the same BS theory advanced by Donald Trump when he pressed GOP state lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election results and keep him in power regardless of the voters' will. So how the justices rule on this case could have an effect not only on the outcome of future elections, but on their democratic legitimacy as well.
Reporters who followed the arguments say a majority of justices "seemed skeptical" of the idea that they should grant sweeping control over elections to corruption-plagued statehouses. However, per the Associated Press, "a trio of conservative justices who probably control the outcome, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, indicated they might be open to imposing restraints on state court power in limited circumstances." If this reading of the tea leaves is true, the court could rule narrowly in favor of the gerrymandered North Carolina map without necessarily throwing the U.S. electoral system into chaos.
However, right-wing Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas appeared to be all-in on the expansive version of independent state legislature theory promoted by the North Carolina Republicans. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan warned that the theory would get "rid of the normal checks and balances on the way big governmental decisions are made in this country" -- which, frankly, does not seem like something that should be left to the say-so of a handful of gussied-up lawyers with lifetime appointments to a national superlegislature. I am anti-Supreme Court, folks! I have felt that way ever since 2000, when I voted for the first time and watched the court intervene to install George W. Bush as president. This is no way to run a country!
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Peru Gets New President After Last One Makes Power Grab
Peruvian President and former union activist Pedro Castillo yesterday tried to dissolve Congress and declare an emergency that would allow him to rule by decree and oversee a redrafting of the Constitution, prompting a number of his cabinet ministers to resign. Congress responded to Castillo's "coup d'etat" by voting 101-6 to impeach and remove him. The former president -- as the U.S. State Department now calls him -- was later seen at a police station in Lima, the capital, but it was unclear if he was being detained, or what would happen to him. Later in the day, Congress swore in vice president Dina Boluarte, who shared a ticket with Castillo but yesterday blamed him for "the breakdown of the constitutional order," as interim president. According to the Guardian, Castillo's 17 months in power saw "five cabinets, six criminal investigations and two failed attempts to impeach him."
Police Raids Target Far-Right Coup Plotters in Germany
Yesterday 3,000 German police officers conducted raids at 150 locations across the country, arresting more than two dozen people on suspicion of "membership in a terrorist organization" -- namely, Reichsbürger, a far-right extremist movement that embraces QAnon conspiracy theories and had reportedly "been preparing for so-called 'Day X,'' on which about two dozen people were to storm the Reichstag building, home to the German parliament, and to handcuff and arrest MPs and parliamentary staff in an operation taking as its example the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol." Those arrested included 71-year-old Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, whom prosecutors say was to be installed as Germany's new ruler; an acting judge who was a former parliamentarian with the far-right AfD party, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann; a former senior officer in the German Army, one of a number of conspirators with military training; and a Russian citizen identified as Vitalia B. who allegedly facilitated contacts with Moscow, though Russia's embassy in Berlin denied any involvement in the plot. Another 27 people are under investigation. It's unclear how far along the purported coup plot was, but you can't fault Germany, of all countries, for not taking any chances when it comes to right-wing extremists.
- China Relaxes Covid Testing, Isolation Rules After Protests "The changes have been rolled out despite a renewed spike in infections." via the Associated Press.
- San Francisco Supervisors Backtrack on Killer Robot Plan After a public outcry, city leaders voted 8-3 to bar the police from killing people with armed robots and sent the matter back to a committee for further deliberation. via Vice News and 48hills.
- Report: Bureau of Prisons SNAFUs Led to Mobster's Death in Custody Officials recorded notorious Boston gangster and federal informant Whitey Bulger as "non-gang affiliated," one of many screwups cited in a new Justice Department inspector general's report on his killing. via the Washington Post.
- Trump Hosts Fundraiser for Pizzagate, QAnon Crackpot Conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin, who spins wild fantasies about an elite Satanic cabal, posed for photos with the former criminal-in-chief following an event raising money to, in her words, "combat child trafficking at Mar-A-Lago." via ABC News.
That's how many months, on average, more than 1 million disabled Americans are forced to wait for the Social Security Administration to process benefits claims. Delays caused by understaffing can drag on for years, the Washington Post reports, and Congress has declined to fully fund the agency.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
12/8: Emma hosts Emily Flitter, finance reporter for the New York Times, to discuss her recent book The White Wall: How Big Finance Bankrupts Black America.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
When documents come from the CEO, it's not a "leak." It's a press release.
"Please stop tagging me!"
"The practical effects of the 51-seat majority: It's big. It's significant. We can breathe a sigh of relief."
-- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, speaking to reporters yesterday about the slightly larger Democratic majority in the chamber following Raphael Warnock's victory over Republican Herschel Walker in Georiga's runoff election.
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