Nel's New Day

May 6, 2021

Giuliani’s Disaster; Update on Arizona’s ‘Fraudit’

While Republicans fight about loyalty tests regarding lies about a stolen presidential election, Rudy Giuliani, former personal lawyer for Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT), faces more legal problems after the FBI seized his electronic equipment from his apartment and office. As DDT’s loyal defender, Giuliani allegedly committed criminal acts in Ukraine in trying to derail Joe Biden’s presidential campaign by smearing his son, Hunter Biden.

The probe evolved from arrests of former Giuliani business partners Lev Parnas and Igor Furman who were indicted on four counts of conspiracy regarding foreign donations in elections and lying to the Federal Election Commission. Warrants are investigating Giuliani’s role in the 2019 firing of Marie Yovanovitch, DDT’s former ambassador to Ukraine, at DDT’s request. She then testified in DDT’s first impeachment trial. Her insistence on following government protocol in meetings between Ukrainian and U.S. law enforcement officials stood in the way Giuliani finding disinformation on the Bidens.

At least one of the search warrants for Giuliani’s devices specifically stated that investigated crimes included violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Charges could result from proof that Giuliani tried to influence foreign policy for his associates’ interests. Another FBI warrant was for the phone of Victoria Toensing, a lawyer and collaborator of Giuliani in his Ukrainian investigations. If Giuliani solely represented DDT and didn’t work for Ukraine, he might not have broken the law. 

One warrant searching for ties between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials specified former president Petro Poroshenko and former top prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees to “Giuliani Partners,” supposedly to recover Ukrainian assets. Giuliani had asked Lutsenko to inquire into Hunter Biden when he was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company and wanted help from Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, under indictment in the United States and represented by Toensing.

Giuliani now says he’s innocent of any wrongdoing, but two years ago, he bragged about how he ran a foreign operation against Yovanovitch. He had support from corrupt Ukrainian officials because of Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption policy.

In December 2019, Giuliani traveled to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to meet with a lawmaker called “an active Russian agent” who was sanctioned for running an “influence campaign” against Biden. That operation involved other Ukrainian officials and political consultants acting as Russian proxies to block U.S. support for Ukraine as well as smearing Biden. The conservative One America News accompanied Giuliani on his trip to Ukraine and made a documentary of the events of unproved allegations about Hunter and Joe Biden by Ukrainian officials. After Giuliani’s visit to Kyiv, the U.S. sanctioned Andriy Derkach for being the Russian agent “for over a decade” and maintaining “close connections with Russian intelligence services.” 

Russians gave Giuliani false information to politically hurt Joe Biden. The FBI planned to warn Giuliani and alert congressional members such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and OAN how they were being used in Russia’s plan to influence the election’s outcome but never briefed Giuliani. The FBI also warned the White House about Giuliani being a target of false Russian propaganda and his ties to people connected to Russian intelligence. Then-national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien cautioned DDT about the contamination of Giuliani’s information from Ukraine. Yet Giuliani again met with Derkach in New York in early 2020 when Derkach spread lies about U.S. funds to Ukraine either misused or missing during Biden’s vice-presidency when interviewed by Giuliani on a podcast.

Last summer, the FBI briefed Johnson about the Russian actions. Johnson said he felt the cautionary message had no substance, that it was a “defensive briefing” on his statements, all negative, about Biden family’s foreign business ventures. He said he thought the briefing was “to offer the biased media an opportunity to falsely accuse me of being a tool of Russia despite warnings.” Also warned, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told the FBI it wasn’t their place to tell lawmakers what to investigate. GOP senators’ investigations haven’t found any affect of Hunter Biden’s board membership on U.S. foreign policy.  

Since Biden’s victory, the National Intelligence Council, part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, reported on Russia’s attempt to influence the 2020 election by Derkach spreading disinformation about Biden among people close to DDT. Officials confirmed one of them was Giuliani. Russia’s false narrative alleged corrupt ties dating back to at least 2014 between Bidens and Ukraine. Johnson claimed he’s never talked with Derkach, but he met with former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko who passed along the lie that Ukraine instead of Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election. Telizhenko also met several times with Giuliani, appeared on his podcast, and facilitated Giuliani’s December 2019 trip to Ukraine. Johnson claimed Telizhenko’s information was accurate, but at the end of DDT’s administration the Treasury Department sanctioned Telizhenko for attempting to influence the 2020 election.

Suffering from burgeoning legal bills, Giuliani considers tapping DDT’s campaign war chest of $250 million with charges for his work in overturning the 2020 election in DDT’s favor. Beyond the FBI searches of the lawyer’s electronic devices, he faces defamation suits by two voting machine companies. One of Giuliani’s defenders, former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, called for DDT to pay Giuliani because he “worked for the campaign and the RNC and … should be compensated instead of being ignored.” An RNC spokesperson said, “Rudy Giuliani has never worked for the RNC and he has never acted at our direction.” DDT made no comment. Convicted for taking unreported bribes, Kerik was pardoned by DDT two days before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Being close to either DDT or Giuliani may not be safe. DDT faces 29 lawsuits and three investigations while the Manhattan DA, working to flip the Trump Organization employee knowing about all its affairs, has DDT’s tax returns. Raids on Giuliani’s apartment and office leave DDT’s allies “feeling uneasy about what could come next.” People question whether Giuliani will turn on DDT and his family, as Michael Cohen, DDT’s former fixer, maintains. At the age of 76, Giuliani won’t like prison, and former AG Bill Barr is no longer in the DOJ to protect him. DDT no longer has any power to pardon Giuliani. According to Cohen, Giuliani developed the same tactics now used against him when he led the Southern District 30 years ago to use against others.

Before DDT left the White House, his DOJ delayed search warrants for Giuliani’s electronic records requested by New York federal prosecutors. Senior officials claimed it was too close to the election, but in late October 2016, 11 days before the election, then-FBI director James Comey announced he was reopening an investigation about Hillary Clinton’s emails as Secretary of State. His action may have caused her to lose the 2016 election to DDT. Political employees at the DOJ still refused to sign off on warrants for Giuliani after the election, claiming that he and DDT were still trying to overturn election results in several states. Career DOJ officials believed enough evidence of a crime existed to issue the warrant.  

Part of the evidence may have been a transcript from a 40-minute telephone call when Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, reminiscent of the DDT’s telephone call leading to his first impeachment. The call to two Volodymyr Zelensky aides came on July 22, 2019, three days before DDT’s call to Zelensky himself. One of the officials sent the transcript to Time magazine to repair Ukraine’s relationship with the Biden administration. Before Biden’s inauguration, Zelensky closed three Ukrainian media networks accused of spreading Russian disinformation about the Bidens during the U.S. presidential campaign.

During the series of trials before Biden’s inauguration when Giuliani kept trying to overturn Biden’s election, he was supposedly charging $20,000 a day, but DDT refused to pay as he became angrier with Giuliani’s failures. DDT wouldn’t even take Giuliani’s calls. Ken Frydman, Giuliani’s press secretary during the 1990s, commented:

“Lay down with dogs. Wake up with fleas and without $20,000 a day.”

Giuliani also shares part of DDT’s blame for inciting violence on January 6 when he called for “trial by combat.” He also faces a disbarment complaint in New York. And he didn’t get a pardon.

Last year, Giuliani’s payroll company received between $150,000 and $350,000 in taxpayer funds in the stimulus law’s PPP to save employees. The company, which lists Giuliani as CEO, has no employees and didn’t save any jobs. The money was given by DDT’s “go-to” bank, Signature.

Stories about the Arizona ballot-counting fraudit keep dribbling out despite the requirement that observers sign a non-disclosure agreement. (They observe to maintain integrity but can’t tell anyone if integrity is violated.) Because of the QAnon conspiracy theory about Southeast Asia delivering 40,000 ballots to swing the election to Biden, the team is now searching for bamboo in the paper’s fiber. Ballots are left unattended on counting tables, and laptop computers—open, unlocked, and unmonitored, sit abandoned. A court has ordered independent oversight, security for voter information, and publicize audit policies and procedures. About ten percent of the ballots have been counted in the first two weeks, and the fraudit has to leave the coliseum by May 14. Now that the integrity of the ballot count is completely compromised, the DOJ expressed concerns about all the problems—way past time. More specifics about the craziness.

May 5, 2021

Bullies Control the GOP

People have accused the GOP of being a personality cult since Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) took it over in 2016. DDT is no longer in the white House, but the loyalty mandate to him as a Republican requirement has grown only stronger. With no policies or messages, the complete focus of the GOP is an agreement with the “big lie,” rejection of the 2020 election results if Democrats won. Across the nation, the GOP leadership is censuring its elected officials for recognizing Joe Biden as the president. 

A Michigan woman represents the GOP belief “that Trump has never done anything wrong.” About DDT’s lies that he lost the election to widespread fraud, she said, “He’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified.” She plans to help remove Jason Cabel Roe from state GOP executive director because he said that “the election wasn’t stolen” and that “there is no one to blame but Trump.”

DDT’s incited January 6 insurrection provides another GOP litmus test: officials are forced out for criticizing the party’s Dear Leader and believing people attacked the U.S. Capitol. A county leader in Iowa was called a “traitor” because he said DDT should be impeached for his “atrocious conduct” in pushing the attacks. Threats drove out Missouri’s state GOP executive director because she had failed to help overturn Biden’s election.

Charles Pierce points out that the GOP “swore undying fealty decades ago to supply-side economics, which has no more bearing on reality than does the idea that the 2020 election was stolen.” The party agreed with Reagan’s false claim about trees causing air pollution and then smeared the Clintons and President Obama. Now the one test for being a Republican: “Do you accept the results of the 2020 election?” Only those saying “no,” promoting the end of democracy in the U.S., can be GOP insiders.

Paul Waldman writes about the same theme:

“Today’s Republican Party believes many things. Taxes should be lower, particularly for rich people; health and safety regulations are presumptively bad; we have too many immigrants; abortion should be outlawed; we shouldn’t do much about climate change; America is simultaneously the most perfect nation that has ever existed and a cesspool of depravity and cultural decline….

“In states and counties and cities across the country…, state and local party officials who admit Joe Biden is the legitimate president are being censured, harassed and driven from their jobs…

“The arguments among Republicans have nothing to do with policy or substance… They all want to see ruthless voter-suppression laws passed and they all oppose Democrats’ efforts to reinforce voting rights.”

Waldman tracks the lack of GOP policy to Tea Party candidates elected in 2010—their only position being to destroy government. Lacking any policy, DDT followed their ascendancy in 2016 and stocked his administration with “grifters and extremists.” Republicans completely focus on loyalty to DDT, determined by their extent of cruelty, smears, and lies, highlighted by the hoax of “cancel culture” for anything they don’t want.

The next election, according to Waldman, will focus on the “culture war” and DDT’s legacy—perhaps even DDT running himself—on the right busy attacking anyone who disagrees with them and any issues important to the people on the left.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), once the GOP standard bearer as its presidential candidate, was booed at his state GOP convention. DDT praised his followers for booing Romney and called the senator a “stone cold loser.”

The GOP leadership in the U.S. House plans to eject Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her position as GOP conference chair, but Cheney is fighting back. DDT tried to co-opt the term “big lie” with his statement, “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!” Cheney tweeted in response that “anyone who claims” the election was fraudulent “is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”

After that tweet, she spoke with former House Speaker Paul Ryan at the conservative American Institute retreat in Sea Island (GA).:  

“We can’t embrace the notion the election is stolen. It’s a poison in the bloodstream of our democracy. We can’t whitewash what happened on January 6 or perpetuate Trump’s big lie. It is a threat to democracy. What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed.”

Cheney called for the “peaceful transfer of power” to be “defended” and described the U.S. Constitution as “our shield.”

Congressional sources say Cheney will be removed from her leadership position as soon as May 12 at the next scheduled meeting after Congress goes home for a couple of weeks. McCarthy tried to maintain getting rid of Cheney came from “concern about the job ability” and not her vote to impeach DDT. Cheney’s spokesman responded:

“This is about whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on Jan 6. Liz will not do that. That is the issue.”

McCarthy, who has worked hard to get back into DDT’s favor after negative comments about DDT’s behavior about January 6, was caught on a hot mic before an interview with Fox’s Steve Doocy saying, “I’ve had it with her.” “Job ability” has been no concern regarding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) who promotes QAnon conspiracy theories and was behind a new caucus to support only “Anglo-Saxon” beliefs. Or for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is being investigated for sex-trafficking, fraudulent actions,  showing photographs of naked women to his colleagues on the floor of the House chamber without the women’s permission, and several other crimes supported by witnesses.

On Fox and Friends, McCarthy said, “We all need to be working as one… Majorities are not given, they are earned.” It appears that earning the majority comes from the “big lie” about a stolen election. McCarthy has not said whether Cheney is right about the election not being stolen.

McCarthy has been attacked by a bigger bully, wannabe presidential candidate and chief DDT mimic Tucker Carlson. For the second Fox show in a row, Carlson went after McCarthy for his relationship with Frank Luntz, longtime pollster for conservative politicians, and accused McCarthy of giving Luntz “outsized influence over the Republican Party’s policy positions.” Carlson finished with “the top Republican in the House lives with a Goggle lobbyist.” McCarthy’s spokesperson finally confirmed that, during the pandemic, the House minority leader “rented a room in Washington at a fair market price from Frank.” Carlson wasn’t satisfied that McCarthy cosigned the television host’s attacks on Big Tech and so-called censorship of conservatives. The big sin is that Luntz, who created the language spins for Republicans, separated himself from DDT and the GOP.

White supremacist Carlson, a trust-fund child attending boarding school before rejected by the CIA after he graduated from college, went after George W. Bush’s former speechwriter David Frum as one of “the people you’d be worried about” to save the United States:

“It’s the Monday editorial meetings at The Atlantic magazine, where David Frum is treated as an important intellectual rather than some dopey middle-aged Canadian Twitter celebrity whose life goal is to force America into yet another unwinnable pointless war.”

Maybe Carlson got upset after Frum pointed out that he criticizes the Afghanistan and Iraq war after being a “FEROCIOUS advocate of both wars … when it mattered.” He described Carlson’s “cowardly,” amoral opportunism.

Carlson also bullies trans youth, he opposed them as athletes in 27 segments. That number is over 20 percent of the 126 anti-transgender student-athletes aired on Fox during the past year after the network hosts found nine of these athletes throughout the nation. Two of them had not competed in years, and no athlete dominated their sport.

The conservative mainstream press has come out against McCarthy. The editorial board of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal wrote, “GOP leaders shouldn’t have to lie about 2020 to keep their job.” It continued:

“Mr. McCarthy knows Ms. Cheney is right. The election wasn’t stolen, yet Mr. Trump wants an endorsement of his stolen claim to be a litmus test for every Republican candidate. She may be ousted because she is daring to tell the truth to GOP voters and at personal political risk.”

The GOP’s and DDT’s narcissism and other behaviors are reminiscent of school bullies. People have reacted to his mental illness just as schools sometimes do to bullies, as if it’s a conflict and not serious. The “cure” always fails with this approach. The idea that there is right and wrong on both sides isn’t necessarily true, especially when one side is being victimized. Name-calling escalates into violence.

Bullies may be abused or neglected in their homes, leading to a need for control and a need to hurt others. Disciplinarian parents with high expectations create stress in children who then turn on others. Bullies can be bullied themselves. Often these bullies are never taught that their behavior is wrong. All these reasons apply to DDT because of how his father treated him. Now he promotes bullying in the entire Republican party.

May 2, 2021

Biden’s First 100 Days

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 10:16 PM
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President Joe Biden celebrated his first 100 days last Thursday, the day after his highly successful speech to a joint congressional session. That arbitrary number representing a president’s honeymoon period comes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s announcement about what he would do in that time because of the disastrous financial situation he inherited from Herbert Hoover. The marker, however, demonstrates what can be suspected from the new person on the job. With a narrow House majority and ten senators short of the 60 percent required by the Senate for passing most bills, Biden used reconciliation to pass the well-liked stimulus bill as he promised.

How Biden’s other promises fared during his first 100 days:

  • Administer 100 million vaccinations: By his 99th day, 220 million vaccinations had been delivered.
  • Reopen a majority of elementary and middle-schools: By February, about 47 percent of these schools were offering full-time, in-person classes.
  • Enact a mask mandate: An executive order requires mask-wearing, social distancing, and other public health measures in federal buildings and on federal lands.
  • Pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package: The American Rescue Plan Act has passed.
  • Repeal his predecessor’s tax cuts: The proposed infrastructure bill, popular with the U.S. people, would replace half the corporate tax cut, taking it back to 28 percent.
  • Change taxes on overseas profits: His new proposal would tax foreign profits at 21 percent, an increase over the current 10.5 percent and eliminate loopholes, one of which allows corporations to move taxes from one county to another for the absolutely lowest rate.
  • Reverse Trump’s environmental rollbacks: Biden’s changes to energy and environmental policy overturned 29 of his predecessor’s 100 policies and finalized 19 of his own with dozens more changes and eight new ones in progress.
  • Rejoin the Paris climate accord: Biden signed an executive order rejoining the agreement.
  • Convene a world climate summit: Also done with leaders of 40 countries meeting on April 22-23 where the U.S. made new commitments to fight climate change and meet goals in the Paris agreement.
  • Revoke the Keystone XL permit: Again finished with an executive order to rescind the permit for the pipeline carrying tar sands—heavy bitumen—from northern Alberta (Canada) to Gulf Coast refineries before it is sold off to foreign countries.
  • Bring troops home from Afghanistan: Biden’s plan finishes the task by September 21, 2021.
  • Rejoin the World Health Organization: On his first day, Biden reversed the U.S. withdrawal from the organization.
  • Rejoin the Iran nuclear deal: Diplomatic talks focus on a deal in which Iran retreats from nuclear weapons in exchange for international sanctions relief.
  • Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: Biden’s proposal includes his campaign priorities, and congressional Democrats filed legislation, working against GOP opposition.  
  • Rescind the ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries: An executive order on Biden’s first day accomplished this promise, and later he resumed processing visas for people affected by the ban.
  • Appoint a Cabinet that “looks like America”: His historic firsts in appointments—female treasury secretary, gay secretary, and Native American secretary–are members of the group in which half are non-White and 46 percent are women.
  • Reverse the transgender military ban: Days into his presidency, Biden signed an executive order effecting this goal.
  • Create a commission on changing the court system: He formed a 36-member commission on April 9 to study changes to the Supreme Court with a report on topics such as court expansion and term limits to be completed in 180 days—but only for the high court.
  • Enact the Equality Act: In February, the House passed legislation to add federal civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the 1964 Civil Rights Act; the Senate has not yet addressed it.
  • Pass the Voting Rights Act: In March, the House passed H.R. 1—For the People Act—but the Senate requires ten GOP senators to accept it in addition to the Democratic majority.
  • Empower unions: During his first few days in office, Biden signed several executive orders to strengthen federal unions and overturned several of his predecessor’s anti-union policies; later he pushed in favor of 6,000 Amazon workers attempting to unionize in Alabama.
  • Send legislation on gun control to Congress: Biden’s executive orders could not address the necessary sweeping changes, and GOP congressional members see no need for laws despite the majority wishes of the people. 
  • Create a national commission on police restructuring: On April 11, Biden decided to use congressional legislation instead of a commission.

A chart of promises and accomplishments is here. 

Biden signed 106 executive actions in his first 100 days, more than any recent president after a partisan change. Twenty of Biden’s executive orders reverse those his predecessor with over 60 prior orders revoked in total. During the first 100 days of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), he reversed 14 orders. Biden’s actions are here.

DDT bragged about his amazing economy, using the stock market as his sole criterion. During his first 100 days, the Dow Jones increased 6.12 percent; it went up 9.34 percent in Biden’s first 100 days despite DDT’s and the Republicans’ predictions of doom and gloom.

Although Biden’s approval as a president is lower than former Democratic presidents at the 100-day mark, he’s much higher than DDT’s approval at that time, and ratings show approval of his actions and direction. Almost two-thirds of people (64 percent) are optimistic about the direction of the country. As for the problem of unity, two-thirds of the people think congressional GOP leaders are doing too little to compromise with Biden. Two-thirds also support Biden’s $1.9 trillion ARPA which sent into effect in March. A majority also backs Biden’s proposed infrastructure and family plans.  

Biden’s speech on his 99th day was phenomenal in its difference from speeches of his predecessor. “Because of you” was an expression Biden used, sometimes even referring to Republicans, to credit the accomplishments of the first 100 days instead of DDT’s frequent claim, “Only I can do it.” DDT’s speeches, like statements from Republicans, were and are consumed by grievances and revenge; even his Mar-a-Lago speeches to guests focus on the “stolen” election lie. The GOP currently has no policies or messages while Biden is filled with plans to help the people of the United States.

During Biden’s campaign, Republicans ridiculed his age and warned voters he was too old for the job of president. Yet 59 percent of younger voters ages 18 to 29 approve of Biden now, much higher than 34 percent of young adults a year ago. A majority of young voters want government help with poverty, health care, and stopping climate change. Over three-fourths don’t trust Facebook or Twitter “to do the right thing,” and 58 percent believe political leaders should be held to stricter standards on social media than ordinary citizens. Another 52 percent support a permanent Twitter ban for DDT, whose standing is now down to 32 percent among all age groups of adults, a drop of 8 percent since January. 

On Biden’s 101st day, last Friday, he signed another 11 executive proclamations, some of them recognizing celebrations of groups and organizations. May is heritage month for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and Jewish Americans. It is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Building Safety Month, National Foster Care Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month. May 1 commemorated Law Day, and National Teacher Appreciation Week begins on May 3. One proclamation stopped non-citizens coming to the U.S. if they have been in India for 14 days before the desired entry date because of the coronavirus danger.

Above all else, as former Republican Max Boot writes:

“Joe Biden has an unbeatable advantage: He is not Donald Trump. Simply by not inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol and not telling them to take hydroxychloroquine, President Biden looks infinitely better than his predecessor.”

Boot continues with “the night-and-day differences”:

“Biden has been scandal-free…

“The 46th president doesn’t play lose and free with the truth: The Post fact-checker counted only 67 false or misleading claims during Biden’s first 100 days compared with 511 for Trump in the same period.

“Biden has picked well-qualified appointees who know what they are doing. Trump stocked his administration with relatives (Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump), far-right extremists (Stephen K. Bannon, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller), lickspittles (CIA Director Mike Pompeo), clueless rich people (Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) and ethical disasters (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, EPA chief Scott Pruitt). National security adviser Michael Flynn had to resign after just 24 days for lying to the FBI. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has already served four times longer than Flynn. So far there isn’t a single clunker among Biden’s senior selections.

“Biden is making real progress on the biggest issues facing America—the unemployment rate is declining while the number of vaccinations is skyrocketing… [And much more including Biden confronting “real threats” while “Trump fixated on imaginary dangers.”]

“Biden is reasserting America’s international leadership…

“Biden is turning down the temperature on our politics. Although Biden is obviously no fan of Trump, he does not go out of his way to trash his predecessor the way that Trump did with Barack Obama…

“Biden hasn’t gotten everything right…  But you have to give Biden credit: He is actually trying to do his job rather than simply drawing attention to himself. That is something we once could take for granted. Now we have to be grateful that we no longer have to wake up every day wondering what crazy, damn fool thing the president just said.”

Biden’s first 100 days: hope for the future instead of fear and dread.

May 1, 2021

Two GOP Clown Shows: Arizona ‘Fraudit’ and Florida ‘Retreat’

Last week highlighted two major Republican activities, the sham re-re-recount of ballots in Maricopa County (AZ) and the GOP attempt to figure out how to take over the nation beyond anti-voting laws and gerrymandering electoral college votes.

Part I reads like a novel. The Sore Loser tossed out of the White House creates a “big lie” about a “stolen” election despite rulings from over 100 judges, some of them appointed by Sore Loser, in over 60 cases deciding he’s wrong in the most closely watched election in U.S. history. The search for a sucker state to support the falsehood leads to Arizona, where furious Republicans in the state legislature turn over 2.1 million ballots and all the electronic voting equipment in one county to an obscure, conspiracy-driven company in Florida which takes $150,000 of state funds plus unknown sums from other conspiracy theorists. The company promises to “recount” the ballots for the third time. State law doesn’t allow this, but a judge gave permission to GOP senators for the faulty recount. The first two audits of the same vote validated the majority of people voted to put the current president into the White House.

Volunteers believing in the “big lie,” many of them disgruntled retirees and even one losing 2020 Arizona candidate, gather in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum chronicled only by the conspiracy-driven network One America News. A few leaks, such as the “counters” using pens that can change the ballots, escape when a journalist is hired as an “observer,” but she is soon thrown out. Before she left, she also discovered the employees have no training, and the process have no guidelines. The ballots, equipment, and software also have no security from conservative media prowling around. The judge taking a lawsuit to stop the farce and investigate violations of the law rules Democrats must put up a $1 million bond, payable to the small company if they manage to “find” a majority count for the legally elected president’s opponent. The judge has to step down because the GOP lawyer in the case had been his extern for five years.  

Another judge permits local media access to the counting facility, but a journalist is evicted after posting a photograph of a former GOP legislator counting ballots. He ran in the 2020 election, placing last in a three-way contest, and attended the Washington protests on January 6. He is also one of 11 electors voting for Sore Loser although the legal electoral college from Arizona was for his opponent with the state’s majority vote. The journalist’s photographs are here.

The company’s use of UV lights, likely damaging ballots, searches for “folds” and “watermarks”–an idea from a discredited inventor. According to QAnon conspiracy theory, Sore Loser secretly watermarked ballots to prove fraud. The process also has no solution for an “overvoted” ballot if a voter tries to select more than one candidate.

The elected supervisors in charge of Arizona elections are excluded from the company’s decisions. Even the Republican in charge of these county supervisors worries about the count and damage to the election equipment. He says taxpayers will have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the equipment’s recertification process. After a week of sham “recounts,” a new judge permits non-partisan observers, but the company has had a week to remove any sense of credibility in the endeavor.

The judge orders the release of the company’s policies to ensure voter privacy and ballot secrecy. One person says these policies, finally released, appeared to be written after the court order. Concerns also include vagueness, leaving room for interpretation, which isn’t permitted in ballot counts.  

And the company hired for the recount? Truth is still stranger than fiction. The judge asked for more information about the Cyber Ninjas (yes, that’s the name), and discovered Arizona and Florida people in politics, including well-connected Republicans, know little about the Ninjas. The company advertises protection from hackers and subcontracted four private firms for what’s being called the “fraudit.” Doug Logan, head “Ninja,” is known primarily for his publications smearing the votes for the presidential winner and their software. Former Florida GOP executive director, laughed about the company and says:

“They’re ninjas. When they snap their fingers, they just disappear. They need to get a special stone to do it, the absentee ballot stone. Once they have that stone, they can just fade into the wind.”

Ninjas are also intimidating voters by going door to door to “confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address.”

Online QAnon conspiracy theorists scrutinize each “recounter” filmed by OAN, flagging and sharing videos of anything they believe is foul play. The Arizona Rangers, a civilian militia group, patrols outside the coliseum. MAGA Joe J. accuses the state’s GOP governor, Greg Ducey, of allowing “Antifa” to be “deployed against American civil servants” when “the true result is finally revealed.” Sore Loser’s fired national security adviser supposedly has “intel” that Northwest protesters are heading to Arizona “to disrupt finding the truth.”

Sore Loser is obsessed with the count, talking about it “constantly” and hoping to be vindicated, but the events in the Arizona stadium makes the state—and Republicans—laughingstocks with all the rational people following the idiocy. A company believing more people voted for Sore Loser than for the winner is in charge of the outcome—like in a Third World country election.

The plot concludes when the Ninjas leave the coliseum on May 14 because seniors start using the site for graduation ceremonies. But the clown show will probably move to Michigan for another fraudit in the sequel to Sore Loser, Volume I.

In Part Two of the GOP clown show, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) may have been the highlight of the GOP retreat in Orlando this past week—the possibility of Republicans evicting her from her leadership position. The battle began when Cheney voted in favor of impeachment for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) didn’t remove her from the position then. She said that congressional members challenging the vote of the people for Joe Biden in the 2020 election should be disqualified from a presidential campaign; i.e., Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), She also wants the commission on the January 6 insurrection should be narrow instead of including the Black Lives Matter protests in the previous year, as Republicans are demanding.

Uninvited to the retreat, DDT’s essence still loomed over the events, but Cheney said McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are the party leaders, not DDT. Her biggest sin last week, however, seems to be the fist bump she and President Joe Biden exchanged before his speech to the joint congressional session. Donald Trump Jr tweeted a rather incoherent comment about the “travesty.” 

DDT called Cheney a “war-mongering fool” after she said she might run for president in 2024, a position he wants, and said she would “embarrass her family” if she did. After Biden’s speech, DDT told Fox network he wanted a replacement for McConnell. Republicans don’t know how to combat the infighting caused by DDT that breaks the GOP unity. Cheney wants to concentrate “on substance and the issues,” refusing to back DDT as a 2024 presidential nominee while the majority of outspoken congressional members are sticking with DDT. 

McCarthy, wanting to “cancel culture,” claims DDT knew nothing about the January 6 attack until McCarthy called him while he sheltered from the mob—an obvious falsehood based on accounts from other Republicans and the video of DDT watching the protest. Sources reported DDT “enjoyed” the insurrection. McCarthy also revered his story about DDT telling him rioters were angrier about the election than McCarthy and refused to answer questions about his previous claim. Another McCarthy lie was denying he had told DDT the insurrectionists were his supporters and not from the left wing. And now he denies he worked with DDT to overturn Biden’s legal election. Originally, McCarthy wanted to sponsor a resolution to censure DDT because “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” Now he frequently travels to Mar-a-Lago to kiss DDT’s ring. 

One story from January 6 shows McCarthy’s lack of concern for his House members. After the evacuation of the House chamber, he hid in his office with Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). As the assault worsened, McCarthy’s security detail took him to a safe place, leaving Westerman, who grabbed a Civil War sword from an office display. Westerman took the sword into McCarthy’s bathroom and crouched on the toilet during the hours-long assault. After hiding with the toilet for several hours, Westerman went on to vote “no” for impeachment. McCarthy justifies his action by saying a relationship with the president is “my job.” No mention of the people of the United States.  

Meanwhile, Republicans ignore corrupt, scandal-ridden congressional members such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

April 30, 2021

Socialist Republicans Lambast Biden

Last night’s speech to a joint session of Congress by President Joe Biden on his 99th day in office was watched by almost 27 million people not counting those who mainstreamed it. MSNBC, with 4.1 million watchers, came in first for both the speech and the entire primetime (8:00-11:00 pm), beating out both CNN and Fox. 

While other networks broadcast the speech with no reaction, Fox occasionally inserted a live feed with Tucker Carlson in the bottom corner. The network had preempted Carlson’s program for the speech and may have decided to include him in Biden’s delivery. Carlson’s mostly blank stare came and went throughout the hour, appearing after a couple of minutes before disappearing after 30 seconds and then returning another seven minutes before again leaving. During this time and two more appearances, Carlson’s only change in expression came when he raised his eyebrows in response to Biden’s statement that “vicious” racist attacks against Asian-Americans are wrong. The chyron on the bottom of Carlson’s box stated, “Standing Up for What’s Right.”

Sean Hannity delivered a split-personality response to the speech when he brought up his myth of senility—the “who’s in charge” accusation—and saying that the “very weak, very frail, cognitively struggling” Biden delivered a “big bore socialist speech” over an hour long.

According to the CBS News/YouGov Poll, “Eighty-five percent of Americans who watched Mr. Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress overwhelmingly approve of his speech. Fifteen percent disapprove.” The results may have been slightly skewed because the number of Republicans in the survey sample was two percent under the general population, but the results also found Biden’s speech made 78 percent of viewers feel optimistic about America. CNN’s poll found viewers agreed with Biden’s tone and priorities:

“Speech-watchers largely said Biden hit the right notes in terms of ideology and partisanship. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said the proposals he outlined in the speech were about right ideologically, 31% said they were too liberal and just 5% not liberal enough. And 58% said that Biden made the right amount of outreach to Republicans in his speech, while 38% felt he did not go far enough. Only 4% said Biden went too far.”

Like Biden’s speech, Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) strange official rebuttal by the Republican party reverberated throughout the media. One of three GOP Blacks in Congress, Scott asserted that the United States is “not a racist country.” (Democrats have two Black senators and 55 Black representatives.) After this statement, Scott described law enforcement’s racial profiling:

“I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping… I do not know many African American men who do not have a very similar story to tell—no matter their profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life.”

 In July 2016, after police shot and killed two Black men, Scott spoke about the “deep divide” between communities and law enforcement. He said he was stopped seven times in one year when he was an elected official.

“The vast majority of the time I was pulled over for driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or something else just as trivial.” 

As a Republicans, Scott is required to say that the United States is “not a racist country.”

Scott talked about the lack of education and opportunity for Black people while ignoring how the fault lay with conservatives who also blocked them from voting. Earlier, he had declared “woke supremacy,” the striving for social justice, was as bad as white supremacy, ignoring the lynchings and other violent murders by white supremacists in contrast to the vast majority of peace protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. In trying to justify this comment he said he was critiquing the left’s “intolerance for dissent.”

After he complained about “progressives” calling him “Uncle Tom,” a description of Black men servile to whites, the hashtag #UncleTim was so prevalent on Twitter that the company removed it. One person using the hashtag was Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield (MA) chapter of the NAACP. Swan wrote:

“Trotting out sycophantic Black folks who will serve as apologists for white supremacy is a tried-and-true tactic that racists have used for centuries. These are your go-to people for white supremacists to put in front of Black people and say, ‘See, even your own people are saying we’re not racist, that America isn’t racist.’”

From the far-right:

“Federally funded school from age 3 to 20 doesn’t sound like education, it sounds like indoctrination.”—Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene 

“Universal day care” is class war against normal people.”—Hillbilly Elegy author and Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance 

“Universal child care’ is a massive subsidy to the lifestyle preferences of the affluent over the preferences of the middle and working class… It turns out that normal Americans care more about their families than their jobs, and want a family policy that doesn’t shunt their kids into crap daycare so they can enjoy more ‘freedom’ in the paid labor force.”—more Vance

Before the speech, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that Biden would make Pre-K and community college education mandatory instead of Biden’s proposal that it be available free. Caught up in the lie, her excuse was that she misspoke because she was on “live TV.”

Also on “live TV,” House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responded to Biden’s speech on Hannity’s show by repeating the lie that Biden is “going to control how much meat you eat.” Desperate for finding some way to smear Biden, Republicans came up with the illogical syllogism that Biden’s goal of cutting gas emissions will be to ban meat. Fox network had already apologized for the falsehood, but McCarthy may not have been paying attention.

Other than the fake “senility” and meat-banning” accusations, Republicans repeatedly cite that Biden is boring (no hostile tweets or language) and he’s a socialist, complaints they hope will stick. The boredom doesn’t seem to work because much of the country is ready for less angst. As for socialism, Democrats only need to point out that former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) led the GOP into socialism. Neither Biden nor DDT wants to be truly socialist—no nationalizing manufacturing and distribution of goods, no abolishing private property.

Yet DDT favored industries he liked by removing regulations and mandates while crippling others. DDT’s federal debt in 2019 was 14 percent than the one he inherited—and all from GOP approval. Promising to roll back regulations, DDT spend his last two years adding regulations, mostly with trade restrictions and antitrust action against Big Tech. DDT’s technology task force to police Big Tech set up a new socialist precedent.

His tax cuts combined with massive government spending left ballooning deficits and debt for future tax hikes.Last year’s mandate on the use of U.S. products in federal contracting and infrastructure created a tax on people with cost hikes in government projects. 

Major DDT regulations came from the red tape surrounding H-1B visas to prevent foreign professionals from entering the U.S. Yet he kept cheap labor at his own businesses by allowing immigrants to take more menial jobs.

In another socialist move for political purposes, DDT regulated ethanol mandates on domestic oil refiners helping red agricultural states like Iowa. His higher energy costs redistribute wealth from consumers to producers. Giving farmers almost $20 billion to cover his retaliatory tariffs with China is another socialist move. For DDT, socialism supports his nationalist agenda.

With a net positive approval rating of 12 percent from the population, Biden suffers from negative media. Negative stories outnumber positive ones by nine points, even with DDT being somewhat muzzled. Maybe because the mainstream media, even ones that seem progressive, are owned by conservatives. 

April 29, 2021

Can Democracy Compete with Autocracy?

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 12:25 AM
Tags: , , ,

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who the GOP drags out for lying reasons to be elected, wanted equality for all—both before the law and in gaining resources. At that time, the GOP gave land to people, built railroads, created public colleges, and legislated Black equality. Another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, regulated business and supported labor. Now, Republicans block help for people by opposing such legislation as expanding infrastructure and making voting available for all eligible voters.

Tonight, Joe Biden gave his first speech to Congress as president and presented his vision of the future. After he and the Democrats—without one GOP vote—reduced half the children living in poverty, he wants to put more investment into the nation’s youth through the American Families Plan. It provides $1.8 trillion in education with free schooling from pre-K through community children, childcare, paid family medical care, and more. Not only do Republicans, despite claiming to be the party of the working people, fight against the funding, but they also hate the idea of returning the top tax rate to George W. Bush’s 39.6 percent and increasing the capital gains rate. Just enforcing current tax laws on the wealthiest and corporations, that slide by the IRS, would incur $700 billion of revenue.

Tonight Biden said:

“The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent. Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us —created equal in the image of God—have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?  Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people? Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?”

He ended by explaining the beginning of the constitution, “We the People,” to emphasize that coming together “will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong. The autocrats will not win the future…. America will.”

Politico called Biden’s speech, “the most ideologically ambitious speech of any Democratic president in generations.” In plain speech, he talked about racial and class inequities, gun violence, immigration, etc. as if all his positions are common sense. Bringing in the conservative coalition, he defined the advantages of his infrastructure plan:

“Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. Seventy-five percent don’t require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

Biden’s position is that education and working class jobs can overcome conservative grievances from George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. The speech dismissed the 40-year-old argument that “government is the problem” to point out that the government is all the people. And he did that by pressing down on the jobs message, combining it with solving problems like the climate crisis. “When I think about climate change, I think jobs,” he said.

The speech was an 180-degree turn from the last four annual speeches to Congress given by the previous White House occupant. It was one of hope and encouragement instead of fear and hatred. It made no apologies for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed without one GOP vote because it was desperately needed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is attacking Biden for lack of unity, but polls highly approve of all Biden’s actions except for immigration and gun safety. Immigrations problems are snarled because of the mess left by Biden’s predecessor, and people generally support many of Biden’s ideas on gun reform. Biden said:

“America is moving—moving forward. And we can’t stop now. We’re in a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better… We welcome ideas. But the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. I just want to be clear: from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.”

People view the sparse crowd in the House chamber as a result of COVID-19, but it was the location targeted by GOP insurrectionists and the site of congressional members who voted to block Biden from being president. Even wearing masks, the cold eyes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were obviously filled with hate as they watched the speech except for when Cruz nodded off.

In his 70-minute speech, Biden did what he does best, appealing to the working class in what he called a “blue-collar blueprint to build America” with the pandemic coming under control. He began by saying: [visual – Biden speech]

“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium—and it’s about time.”

Biden continued by encouraging people to get vaccinated and talking about the success of vaccinations—220 million in his first 99 days.

Other Biden quotes:

“In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.” 

“Trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.”

“Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party. I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire. But pay your fair share.”

“We won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.” 

“I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific … not to start conflict – but to prevent one.”

“Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people? Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?”

 Biden touched on foreign affairs in his contrast between democracy and autocracy. Topics included withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, competition with China, relations with Russia, and nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. In his speech, he covered the overarching problem of world relationships instilled in the past four years:

“In my conversations with world leaders, and I’ve spoken to over 38, 40 of them now, I’ve made it known—I’ve made it known that America is back. And you know what they say? The comment I hear most of all from them is they say, ‘We see America’s back, but for how long? But for how long?’ My fellow Americans. We have to show not just that we’re back but that we’re back to stay.”

About foreign terrorism, Biden said white supremacy was a bigger threat to the nation. DHS has warned the danger from these organizations will remain a persistent threat in the U.S. for the coming years. Calling Xi Jinping an “autocrat,” Biden cautioned that the president of China is “deadly earnest” in making “the most significant and consequential nation in the world.” Biden said Xi believes democracy will not survive.

About gun safety legislation, Biden told Congress, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done.” He asked for measures expanding background checks for gun buyers and the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act. Republicans are dragging their feet about approval because it closes the “boyfriend” loophole keeping guns from abusers. According to Biden, over 50 women are shot and killed by partners every month in the U.S. He also wants a reinstatement on the ban of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Biden also asked for support of the Equality Act outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. To transgender people, Biden said:

“To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back.”

Another Biden request was passing the policing bill by May 26, the anniversary of George Floyd’s killing. The bill beefs up police accountability and stops problem officers from moving from one department to another. The focus is to overhaul policing discriminatory practices. Biden said, “The country supports this reform. And Congress should act.”

The finish to this year’s speech was also 180-degrees different from the one last year when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ripped the speech in half after Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) finished.

Younger women may not be impressed that two women, in the two highest positions of power in U.S. government, sat behind the president when he gave his speech. Yet this historic first was hard-won. In October 2016, Hillary Clinton was on her way to being the person giving the next speech to Congress, even after false smears from Republicans, some of whom have since then been convicted of serious crimes. On October 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, then FBI director James Comey dropped a bombshell about emails that turned out to not incriminate her. He did this after he hid an ongoing investigation about her opponent’s involvement with Russia in their interference of the election. People in the U.S. waited four years to return to moving forward—hopefully back toward democracy.  

People in the United States need to prove Xi Jinping wrong, that the United States can escape more autocracy.

April 28, 2021

DDT’s Foreign Legacy for Biden

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 12:05 AM
Tags:

Three months after President Joe Biden replaced Deposed Donald Trump (DD) in the White House, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined Biden’s foreign policy, linking it to domestic policy. The focus will be supporting democracy both at home and abroad in opposition to rising authoritarianism. Biden’s strategy of reaching out to people emphasizes human rights and protection of democracy fighters.

Last week, Biden announced that the Ottomans’ massacre of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians was a “genocide.” With another 300,000 displaced, the Ottomans erased 90 percent of the two million Armenians living in the Empire. Because Turkey controls access to the Black Sea bordering Russia and Ukraine, no other president openly admitted this ethnic cleansing, and only 30 other countries have made a formal recognition of the genocide. The term “genocide,” coined in 1944, means destruction of a a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

DDT’s bullying of democratic nations and strong support for autocracy left Biden a mess around the world.

Turkey is just one example: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allied with Russia and the Taliban, purchased a S-400 missile-defense system from the Kremlin. DDT protected Erdogan, for example in 2017 when DDT dropped charges after Erdogan’s security staff who beat up U.S. protesters in Washington, D.C. Even Mike Pompeo, DDT’s Secretary of State, expressed concern after Biden’s election about Turkey, referring to the country’s “recent actions” as “very aggressive.” He was alluding to Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia and military moves in Libya and the Mediterranean. Turkey angrily tweeted a demand that Biden retract the claim of genocide.

Russia is putting tens of thousands of military members on its border along Ukraine in a threat to take its territory after illegally annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked the U.S. for help, and Biden proposed a summit with Vladimir Putin to discuss this problem as well as others. Putin may use the pandemic to try to take over other countries.

Iran, to the southeast of Ukraine, has accelerated its nuclear program after DDT dropped out of the agreement to restrict its buildup. The U.S. and Iranian negotiators have met in Vienna to discuss the reinstatement of U.S. involvement in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Israel has attacked Iran, including the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz to sabotage efforts between Iran and the U.S. by causing an armed conflict between the two countries. In the North Arabian Sea, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots because three vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came close within 200 feet of the U.S. ship and refused to back off. It is the second incident this month. During the nuclear talks, Iran is requesting a prisoner exchange with the U.S.

The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a problem for every 21st-century president since George W. Bush started the violence to please the hawks in his administration. DDT had already promised to withdraw the last troops. Biden announced he will follow through with the plan by September 11, 2021—the 20th anniversary of attacks on the U.S. by 19 Middle Easterners, three-fourths of them from Saudi Arabia. Some of Biden’s GOP opposition tries to use the decision against him, but Pakistan hides Taliban members taking action against Afghans. Last year, DDT signed a peace agreement with the Taliban, but they failed to keep the terms.

Israel has typically been popular with people in the United States, but DDT spent his four years reinforcing Israel’s attempts to destroy the Palestinians. DDT’s family profited by the Israeli developments on the Palestinian land, and evangelicals loved DDT because they want the Israelis to control all the property in preparation for the End Times when Christ returns. The racist legal system perpetrated by Israelis is now being described as apartheid, like that in 1990s South Africa, by an increasing number of Israel’s and global watchdogs.  

Mainland China and Taiwan, considered a breakaway province by China, have developed tense relationship. The U.S. considers Taiwan to have territorial integrity, but China is now started moving into Taipei’s airspace, and China sounds increasingly angry. After four years of DDT, the U.S. may no longer have a military edge over China.

Korea may regain visibility in Biden’s foreign policy after DDT tried to renew his love affair with North Korea President Kim Jong-Un:

“Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who I have gotten to know (and like) under the most trying of circumstances, never respected the current President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. President Moon was weak as a leader and as a negotiator, except when it came to the continued, long term military ripoff of the USA… We were treated like fools for decades, however, I got them to pay billions of dollars more for the military protection and services we render.”

Moon has asked Biden to return to negotiations with North Korea after two years of DDT’s failure to complete an agreement regarding North Korea’s nuclearization. Kim has consistently tested intermediate-range ballistic missiles possibly targeting Hawaii and Alaska despite DDT’s claim that he had stopped. DDT declared “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” and canceled or downsized the annual joint military drills with South Korea. Biden insisted “some form of diplomacy [with North Korea] must be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.” The U.S. stations 28,500 military members in South Korea and never officially ended the Korean War because the South Korea president in 1953 refused to sign the armistice treaty.

For the majority of the 21st century, George W. Bush and DDT tried to destroy the International Criminal Court, climate control, and the UN’s attempt to prevent armed conflict. DDT followed Bush’s destructive nature by cheering on Brexit, alienating NATO allies, and pulling the U.S. out of every agreement that helped protect the United States. Their goals were to create chaos and block order and stability. On top of that, U.S. conservatives are determined to erase democracy and move on to autocracy.

Last September, U.S. standing in the world dropped to unbelievable lows. Two months before the 2020 presidential election, 13 surveyed countries gave these favorable impressions of the U.S.: Germans, 26 percent; Dutch, 30 percent; French, 31 percent; Australians and Swedes, 33 percent; Canadians, 35 percent; and Japanese and British, 41 percent. Only South Koreans were over 50 percent. Before DDT’s election, favorability of these countries ranged between 57 percent (Germany) and 72 percent (Japan). Only 15 percent of respondents gave favorable responses to DDT’s “handling” of the coronavirus, half the approval for China. Of U.S. allies, 83 percent had no confidence in DDT, but only 16 percent trusted him to do the right thing in world affairs.

In the U.S., 62 percent of people in the U.S. rejected DDT’s isolationist policies, saying COVID’s lesson is the need to “coordinate and collaborate with other countries to solve global issues.” Most people wanting to take an active part in world affairs (68 percent) and looking at globalization as “mostly good” for the U.S. (65 percent) self-identify as Democrats and unaffiliated. Republicans supporting globalization dropped from 62 percent in 2014 to 55 percent last September.

Biden’s strategies to deal with DDT’s mess, some accomplished in his first 100 days:

  • Selecting centrists in foreign policy officials who tackle corruption and review using armed drones outside active battlefields to satisfy progressives;
  • Returning the U.S. to agreements such as the Paris climate agreement and the Iran denuclearization deal;
  • Reversing DDT’s Muslim ban;
  • Lifting sanctions against International Criminal Court officials;
  • Deliberating through consultation on important issues for collaboration instead making unilateral tweets;
  • Convening groups to deepen ties such as his work with the Quad—Australia, India, and Japan—and the recent summit with 40 nations for climate discussions;
  • Holding countries such as China and Russia to account without becoming disengaged;
  • Remaining calm, the attitude called “boring” by DDT supporters, in messaging and purpose;
  • Reentering global leadership.

DDT’s foreign policy “style,” full of bombast and “me-ism,” focused on isolationism, white supremacy, blackmail, and general disinterest. Biden wants a return to world cooperation, peace, and democracy. Some far-right and far-left groups give Biden low grades for his first 100 days of foreign policy. Nothing happens instantly, however, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has been more positive about Biden’s actions and plans in the foreign arena. Biden’s work in building distrust after DDT’s insults to European and Asian leaders is important to fight unfair trade policies and authoritarian control. With China, Biden has more of a waiting game while he repairs the infrastructure, necessary to develop improved technologies. Perhaps his best move thus far came from straight talk with Russia.

One-hundred days isn’t long—less than seven percent of Biden’s term—and he’s been saving lives by handling the pandemic so badly botched by his predecessor. Yet Biden has created a sense of optimism and hope for the future throughout a large part of the world while DDT leads his followers into more violent insurrection against the U.S. government.

April 25, 2021

Biden’s Economy Disappoints GOP

With lies and no evidence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Joe Biden is taking “destabilizing” actions, his foreign policy has been a “disaster,” and he has tossed a “wet blanket” on the economy. He accused Biden of “wanting to raise taxes in a large amount” although Biden’s taxes will drastically drop for anyone making under $75,000.

The U.S. economy seems to be humming along: stock markets rising, the weekly number of unemployment claims is almost half what they were a few months ago, and March saw almost one million new jobs, the largest increase in seven months. The thought of Biden’s stable economy greatly disappoints most Republicans. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ran his losing campaign by claiming Biden’s election would cause a huge economic crash.

“If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Republicans guaranteed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would be a disaster. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), leaving Congress next year, warned about “too much liquidity going into the system.” The checks went out last month, immediately after the GOP congressional members voted en masse against ARPA and then had to lie about supporting the law all along. Retail sales are up, and the unemployment rate is dropping. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a DDT appointee, dismissed the GOP’s dire warnings  about runaway inflation.

Republicans trying to sabotage any Democratic success and help for people howled about Biden’s proposal of an infrastructure law paid by the corporate tax increase to seven percent lower before DDT’s tampering. They claim the tax increase will “hurt the American family and millions of struggling small businesses.” Yet reducing the corporate tax rate in 2017 didn’t lower prices, and Biden’s plan raises capital gains tax only on people earning more than $1 million a year.

The American Families Plan provides for national paid leave, reduction in childcare costs, and free prekindergarten and community college. With free childcare costs, mothers can afford to find employment. Increasing taxes for the wealthy and big businesses also provides lead-free water, transit, education, and other infrastructure as well as decent jobs. Republicans know that Biden’s success means their possible failure in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Biden’s economy will have its best year since 1984 after the first quarter indicated an annual increase of six percent or possibly higher by the end of the year. DDT gained no new jobs during his full four years; Biden added 1.3 million jobs since the election. DDT’s sole economic metric was the stock market: the Dow Jones has gone up almost 17 percent since Biden’s presidency was announced on November 7, 2020, greater than DDT’s 10.5 percent gain in the same time period four years ago.

Republicans spread the same doom and gloom after the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. John Kasich, a former GOP congressman and Ohio governor, said about Clinton’s agenda:

“This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I’d have to become a Democrat.”

Clinton’s plan worked, but Kasich stayed a Republican. Republicans predicted George W. Bush’s tax cuts would bring historic economic gains; his second term ended with the worst recession in many decades. Republicans predicted disaster for President Obama’s Recovery Act; Indiana’s Mike Pence claimed in 2009, it “won’t work to put Americans back to work.” He continued:

“It won’t create jobs. The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt. It will probably do more harm than good.”

President Obama’s plan brought the U.S. out of the Great Recession, rescued jobs, and introduced a decade of sustained growth.

In 2017, Republicans and DDT lost big when their regressive tax plan failed to improve private-sector hiring, bring higher wages, and greatly increase business investments. Corporations used financial gains from tax cuts to buy stocks in their companies, purchase other companies, fire employees, and stash money overseas. Lack of revenue from less consumer spending by lower- and middle-class people couldn’t replace losses from the tax cuts, and business investment abruptly dropped.

Why Republican presidents’ economies fail:

Republican presidents are slow to respond to recessions and other crises.

Democratic presidents are more pragmatic and listen to evidence about deficit reduction and government support.

Republican presidents believe only in tax cuts for the wealthy that do nothing for economic growth.

According to Neil Barron in the conservative Hill, Biden’s ARPA reverses 30 years of failed trickle-down economics widening income and wealth inequality to trickle-up economics. It creates demand for products and services to generate economic growth by increasing spending ability for consumers who will spend money. Biden’s “jobs” (aka infrastructure) plan invests in families, education, clean water and energy, housing, healthcare, etc. The strategy follows economic success after World War II when the top tax rate was 70 to 90 percent. Funding the world’s biggest middle class, investment went not only to the GOP mandate of roads and bridges but also to education, health, and research. The 1950s brought three of the four biggest decreases in U.S. unemployment and two years of the nation’s fastest economic growth—under a Republican president.

For the last half century, the GOP trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy brought negative or flat economic growth, higher unemployment, and stifled consumption by moving income from consumers to rich savers. In over a half century, Republicans contributed more to federal deficits: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush raised the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion (almost double today with inflation), but Democrat Bill Clinton cut it to zero. George W. Bush took the deficit back to $1.2 billion with tax cuts and war; Democrat Barack Obama rescued the nation from the Great Recession and halved the deficit to $600 billion before DDT ran it up to $1 trillion—before COVID-19.

Barron writes:

“Spending $100 billion [in infrastructure] would add roughly 1 million full-time American jobs. And each $100 invested in infrastructure would boost productivity and private sector output by $13 to $17, generating more wage growth and economic benefits across more income classes. Every dollar invested in infrastructure under the AJP is expected to return $1.50, which is among the highest rates of return for federal government spending. And by 2024, the AJP would grow GDP by 3.8 percent and add 13.5 million jobs, compared with just 2.2 percent GDP growth and 11.4 million jobs if it doesn’t become law.”

Graham complains about “destabilizing,” but evidence shows a different picture. In the three months since Biden’s inauguration, fewer households say they can’t pay their rent and don’t have enough to eat in the past week. In December, 1 in 7 adults reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat; now that number is 1 in 11—the lowest percentage since April 2020 when the survey began.

In Biden’s first three months, 200 million doses of vaccines were administered although a large number of Republicans, including 47 percent of white males, refuse to be vaccinated. The United States is experiencing a greater feeling of optimism although the wealthy are still doing better. The economy may largely depend on the pandemic: GOP counties and states may suffer the most if Republicans continue to refuse vaccinations. Most Southern states, like tourism-dependent North Carolina, lag behind the national average in vaccinations.

Bloomberg’s positive view of Biden’s economic dynamism comes from companies’ readiness to increase efficiency and employees ready to return to work. The pandemic changed business practices—stronger productivity with increased online marketing and automation. In the last quarter of 2020, businesses increased spending on equipment by 25.4 percent after reducing this spending for over a year. For two decades, the GDP increased at two percent average, lower than 3.3 percent than the previous two decades. A faster growth in the future will help the government’s debt because of increased revenue.

A major difference between Biden’s and DDT’s economic strategies is DDT’s reliance on the Federal Reserve. In the past decade, Congress counted on the Fed’s cheap-money policies for economic health, causing more wealth inequality: the stock market kept rising, but people couldn’t find jobs. Richer people worked from home, but poorer people couldn’t find jobs. Fifty million people in the world moved from middle- to lower-class. With GOP presidents, Republicans gave some support for the poor to be re-elected and then declared austerity with Democratic presidents.

In 2010, GOP lawmakers called for cuts before the economy healed. With interest rates almost at bottom, the Fed made large-scale bond purchases, hoping to save the economy. The slow solution finally dropping the unemployment rate after a decade to a half-century low. In 2007, the bottom half of the population had 2.1 percent of U.S. assets, and the top one percent had 29.7 percent. By 2020, the bottom half dropped to 1.8 percent while the top one percent owned 31 percent of the wealth. The pandemic made the situation worse.  

April 24, 2021

 Troubles for Trump—and His Minions

(more…)

April 23, 2021

Biden Changes View of Climate Change

Yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and the Muldrow Glacier is surging down Denali, Alaska’s highest mountain, at 50 to 100 times faster than a normal rate for the past 60 years. Only a few mountain glaciers ever surge because they grow at the top areas and diminish at the bottom. With climate change, glaciers melt faster, keeping ice from accumulating as melting occurs farther upslope. These glaciers just melt away. Yet in some parts of the world, climate change increases the risk of surging if rainfall increase creates a more slippery ground. Another Alaska Glacier collapsed in both 2013 and 2015 from extremely warm temperatures. Mountain glaciers have lost at least six trillion tons of ice in fewer than three decades.

Four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) dumped the U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement as the vast majority of countries of the world developed plans to reverse climate change. Although the federal government refused to take any action, many U.S. cities and other municipalities continued the work of the Paris deal. Elected as president last November, Joe Biden promised to rejoin the agreement with the statement, “America is back!” He honored the 2021 Earth Day theme, “Restore Our Earth,” by calling together 40 world leaders in a virtual summit with a major goal of cutting back greenhouse gas emissions. Biden topped them by pledging the U.S. would reduce the 2005 levels by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. Even that goal may fall short of keeping the temperature down.

Although conservatives complain that China is much worse than the U.S. in causing climate change, the U.S. is the biggest emitter of carbon and second only to China, with a population four times that of the U.S., in emitting greenhouse gases. The next deadline for U.S. movement to make plans for turning around climate change is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, scheduled in Glasgow a year after Biden’s election.

Biden’s speech focused on jobs in transforming the nation’s economy toward clean energy and electric vehicles, but he needs congressional help to meet his goal. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is looking toward the private sector to help solve the problem of improving climate change with the economy, and many huge fossil fuel companies have quietly invested in clean energy because they see the writing on the wall. Renewable energy costs are now cheaper than fossil fuels.

Supporters of the coal industry are griping about Biden’s target. The 191 plants still operating, down from the beginning of DDT’s four-year term, may be almost gone by 2030. Fifty coal plants closed during DDT’s first two years, and the pandemic wiped out another 50. Even the Coal Mine Workers representing coal miners support Biden’s infrastructure package with its clean energy standard.

Last year, the increase of tropical deforestation of 12 percent from 2019 doubled the annual tailpipe emissions of cars in the U.S. a well as helping cause the pandemic. A new coalition plans to pay $1 billion to countries preventing this deforestation.

Republicans in the U.S. have fought to continue climate change by denying science. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has produced a video about the Energy Innovation Agenda, “dozens of bills and solutions” in opposition to Biden’s agenda. Part of their program is simply planting more trees and capturing carbon while opposing the Paris climate agreement. With 40 other Republicans, McCarthy plans to keep fossil fuels as the GOP focus of U.S. economy.

Biden’s summit may oppose coal, but it waffles about natural gas, a problem with methane production trapping heat in the atmosphere. His vague fact sheet doesn’t clarify how the U.S. will reduce “methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other potent short-lived climate pollutants.”

Foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von Leyden, alienated by DDT, warmly welcomed Biden as he works to move the U.S. back into international leadership. Biden’s steps to reverse DDT’s actions damaging the climate and environment include revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit and declare moratoria on new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He also touts his infrastructure plan to make electric vehicle more affordable, incentivize electric vehicle charging stations, retrofit buildings, replace lead pipes, and modernize the nation’s electrical grid.

Sad to say, Democrats have always been in the forefront of trying to save the earth while conservatives have consistently blocked the effort. Wisconsin’s new Democratic senator Gaylord Nelson began his Washington career in 1963 energized by Rachel Carson’s bestselling book Silent Spring that addressed the disastrous effect of pesticide use. President John F. Kennedy was receptive to Nelson’s proposal of a “conversation tour,” part of his eleven-state trip in five days, culminating with his assassination on November 22, 1963, but largely ignored environmental issues.

Seeing the 1969 oil spill aftermath in California, Nelson accelerated his push to raise environmental awareness and gained supporters for the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, marked by rallies and reflections. Nelson focused on young activists, especially at colleges, for organizers and thousands of field volunteers. A graduate student, Denys Hayes, helped coordinate speeches, concerts, demonstrations, fundraisers, nature walks—even mock trials for polluting objects such as an old Chevrolet executed by a sledgehammer. The car did live on in an art class. In New York City, 22,000 people in Union Square heard Paul Newman and Mayor John Lindsay. Hayes’ effort expanded Earth Day to 180 countries and continues to be a leader in environmental and energy policies. 

Conservative groups such as the John Birch Society claimed Earth Day honored the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth. Progressives complained the day distracted from protests against the Vietnam War by concentrating on “litterbugs.” Others criticized corporations with bad environmental records that could appear righteous once a year.

Yet Earth Day concerns led to environmental legislative reform. Within a year, 25 percent of the public agreed protection of the environment was an important goal, compared to almost no one two years earlier. By the end of 1970, President Richard Nixon approved the Environmental Protection Agency. New legislation included the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act—all laws that DDT tried to erase.

In 1990, 200 million people in 141 nations were involved in Earth Day; ten years later, the emerging Clean Energy movement spread to 184 countries and 5,000 environmental organizations. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Gabon (Africa) experienced a traveling drum chain. Over one billion people participated in Earth Day activities. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Astronaut Stuart Roosa had taken hundreds of tree seeds—loblolly pine, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood, Douglas fir, etc.—on the Apollo 14 moon mission that orbited the moon 34 times in the Kitty Hawk. Although the containers broke open, most of the seeds were successfully planted and cultivated around national monuments as well as other sites around the globe. In 2009, NASA planted a second generation “moon” sycamore on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum and American Forests in Washington, D.C.  

This morning, I admired the bees on my blueberries. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen honey bees in our yard—perhaps not since I watched a new neighbor spraying Roundup on his yard. With all the publicity about cancer, he’s slowly changed his patterns, first no longer burning his steaks outside with the smell wafting over the shrubs and then no longer using chemical pesticides on his lawn.

Bees are vital to our food supply: they pollinate over a third of the food supply and 90 percent of wild plants. In addition, bees pollinate over 16 percent of flowering plant species and produce over $130 million worth of raw honey each year. Since 1990, over 25 percent of managed honeybees in the U.S. have disappeared. Global warming may affect pathogens such as viruses and fungi destroying bee colonies. Atmospheric radiation from cell phones and wireless communication towers can adversely affect bees.

Massachusetts has become the first state to restrict pesticides—neonicotinoids—killing bees and other pollinators by removing them from retail shelves. These products get into every cell of the plant, into the soil, into the water supply, and into the pollen and nectar that bees eat. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t go into effect for another 15 months, but it’s a start without DDT.

The impetus for Silent Spring is the silence caused by the disappearance of birds because their food supply, insects, is killed by pesticides. With laws preventing pesticides and work to reverse climate change, the world can continue to hear singing birds, grow food and flowers, stop cities from flooding because of melting glaciers, and … and… 

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