Nel's New Day

May 25, 2022

Right to Life on GOP Terms

The “right-to-life” Republicans in Congress are praying about the recent mass killing—first ten people dead in Buffalo by a teenage killer who targeted Blacks and now a teenager in Uvalde (TX) who killed at least 19 children under ten years old at an elementary school as well as himself and two adults. Before going to the school, he shot his grandmother who is in critical condition. It is the 30th school shooting thus far in 2022 and at least 300 mass shooting. Yet they do nothing.

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde, wrote, “we have to protect” children but didn’t indicate how. His recent tweets bitterly complained about the “Radical Left” and his strong opposition to any gun control efforts, bragging that he “voted NO on two gun control measures.” As a “proud supporter of the Second Amendment” (meaning unfettered ownership of guns), he “will do everything I can to oppose gun grabs from the far Left.” Now he declares himself “heartbroken” and choked up when he talked about the tragedy.

Three days after the Uvalde school shooting, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will appear at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) canceled his appearance. Twenty-three years ago, NRA had a conference in Denver shortly after Colorado’s mass shooting at Columbine High School, killing 13 and wounding another 20. During the 2018 election cycle, Cruz received the largest amount of donations from gun rights backers at $311,151.

The NRA is blocking the Second Amendment and banning the presence of any weapons for DDT’s appearance. Attendees will be searched.

No Republicans complain about suspending the Second Amendment in some cases, but GOP legislators and far-right are using the same old canard about politicizing the Buffalo murder with a domestic terrorism bill including white supremacy. Fox’s Tucker Carlson called such a bill “scary,” but Buffalo’s mass shooter wrote he had been radicalized on 4chan and referred to the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, fears of whites being replaced through immigration, that Carlson promoted on his program over 400 times. Conspiracy theorist and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers pushed the lie of the shooting being a “false flag,” staged by Democrats. A Proud Boys group called the bill “the creation of an anti-white secret police.”

Democrats introduced the original version of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act a few weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Democrats, joined by GOP Adam Kinzinger, passed a newer iteration of the bill after the Buffalo mass shooting. It would create dedicated domestic terrorism departments in the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. The U.S. has no law against general domestic terrorism, but the addition of “terrorism enhancement” in federal cases can add 15 years to a sentence.

The bill would also establish an interagency task force to investigate white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies. A special agent in each field office would investigate hate crime events and connections to domestic terrorism. According to FBI Director Chris Wray, the growing threats of domestic terrorism in the U.S. with “racially motivated violent extremism” are the majority of the agency’s domestic terrorism probes. Senate Republicans have promised to block the legislation which would require 60 votes in that chamber.

The far-right Gateway Pundit falsely stated the goal of the bill was to “silence conservatives and those Americans who disagree with them.” Carlson complained the bill doesn’t specifically mention “BLM or antifa” and lied about the bill redefining domestic terrorism to include hate crimes. About three-fourths of voters support the bill

Lachlan Murdoch, CEO and executive chairman of Fox’s parent company, said white supremacy just “comes with the territory” for Fox being “number one.” He shrugged off the increasing polarization of society since Fox was created. Media Matters senior fellow Matthew Gertz believes “Lachlan Murdoch has apparently given up on his obvious lie that Tucker Carlson doesn’t promote ‘replacement theory.’ He is making it quite clear that Fox prioritizes white supremacist content.”

Republican legislators will also be traumatized by the update of the DOJ use-of-force policy, ordering federal agents to intervene if other law enforcement officials use excessive force. Taking effect July 19, the policy does not cover non-federal law enforcement and federal law enforcement agencies outside the DOJ. Federal law enforcement officers must also act if someone needs medical care and repeats current policies that officers should not fire their weapons at people solely because they are fleeing or fire into vehicles to make them stop. Deadly force should not be used “against persons whose actions are a threat solely to themselves or property unless an individual poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in close proximity.” With new priorities, AG Merrick Garland’s memo tells officers and agents to first select de-escalating confrontations for “voluntary compliance from a subject before using force.”

The current politically conservative Supreme Court majority may decide to overturn the new DOJ policy, just as they overturned existing law this week in order to kill two Arizona men. Six conservative justices used an anti-terrorism law to rule that convicted felons are not allowed to present evidence in federal court about ineffective counsel or present new evidence. Clarence Thomas declared that the two men have no federal standing to sue because the state denied their appeals, writing that this has happened “only rarely.” Despite this violation to Sixth Amendment rights to due process and habeas corpus, Arizona may execute two more men

Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision “perverse” and “illogical.”  She wrote:

“The Court’s decision will leave many people who were convicted in violation of the Sixth Amendment to face incarceration or even execution without any meaningful chance to vindicate their right to counsel.”

Legal experts agreed, including University of Texas Law Professor Lee Kovarsky.  He tweeted:

“Since representation in state post-conviction proceedings is a national embarrassment, it means that it’s not a really useful site of Sixth Amendment enforcement.”

One of the men to be executed, Barry Jones, may not have murdered anyone, meaning the so-called “right-to-life” justices are killing an innocent man. A witness said that Jones hit a four-year-old girl who died 12 hours later. Three experts, however, said that the girl could not have died from that supposed injury within that time period. Others, including the girl’s mother and uncle, were suspect. The mother was subsequently convicted of child abuse, and before her death, the girl said a boy had hit her in the stomach with a metal bar. Jones’ lawyer didn’t present any of this evidence at the trial.

In a 1984 ruling (Strickland v. Washington), the Supreme Court determined a “deficient” lawyer’s performance that “prejudiced the defense” can toss out a conviction, but Thomas’ opinion claimed the law restricts federal courts from rejecting state courts’ opinions no matter how poorly they were decided. In essence, the six justices changed the law and “all but overrules” Martinez v. Ryan (2012) and Trevino v. Thaler (2013), according to Sotomayor. Therefore, states can kill people wrongly convicted, and the federal government will not step in despite the Sixth Amendment guaranteeing “criminal defendants the right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial.”

As Ian Millhiser wrote, three justices—the minority—believe “the purpose of a criminal trial is to determine whether or not someone is actually guilty of a crime—and to do so through an adversarial process where both sides are represented by lawyers who can present the best possible legal and factual case for the prosecution and the defense.” Clarence differs, according to Millhiser:

“[Clarence] deems federal habeas proceedings problematic because they ‘override] the States’ core power to enforce criminal law.’ When a federal court deems someone’s conviction constitutionally inadequate, Thomas complains, it ‘overrides the State’s sovereign power to enforce ‘societal norms through criminal law,’” and ‘disturbs the State’s significant interest in repose for concluded litigation.’”

And Arizona will kill two more men after the conservative justices refused to intervene in the killing of Clarence Dixon.

At one time, only Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with Thomas. Now Scalia is dead, and Republican presidents have appointed five justices who agree with Thomas.

Civil war—that’s what DDT thinks is imminent according to his reposting on his personal Twitter-like “Truth Social.” The killings in Buffalo are only the latest example of how irresponsible violent rhetoric can lead to physical violence.

  • Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s newly elected GOP gubernatorial candidate, wrote about a potential “Hitlerian putsch” from the left requiring a civil war with the military fighting back.  
  • The head of the Claremont Institute, a think tank of members such as John Eastman who created the strategy to overturn Biden’s election, said that conservatives must fight against “woke communists,” false meaning all Democrats.
  • Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-SC) promised “bloodshed”; former U.S. Joseph diGenova told Laura Ingraham on her podcast that the “civil war” requires people to buy guns.
  • Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that “America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry.” He shared the meme that the right has “8 trillion bullets” and would win a civil war.

GOP “right to life” ends with birth.

May 22, 2022

Conservatives’ Inability to Define ‘Woman’

What is a woman? That was one of the rude questions that Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing. asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearing. When Blackburn asked Jackson the question, Jackson began with “I can’t—” before Blackburn said, “You can’t?” Jackson graciously responded, “Not in this context. I’m not a biologist.” Blackburn criticized her inability to answer the question, and Jackson explained that she addresses disputes, listens to arguments, and looks at the law before she decides. “So I’m not—” she said before Blackburn interrupted her to toss another insult about “the dangers of the kind of progressive education.”

In Tennessee, 80 pastors were so upset with Blackburn’s behavior that they wrote her about her lack of professionalism and emphasis on politics, adding they were “embarrassed by her public behavior.” On of them commented on how her constant interruptions showed her agenda was only to create political sound bites for her base.

How many people can define a woman? What age—13, 18, another time? Chromosomal markers when people with Turner syndrome have only one X chromosome and might not meet the strict definition of two? Matthew Rozsa has provided further scientific background to answer Blackburn’s question. Fox highlighted criticism for Jackson, one of the few parts of the hearing on the “news” network.

Blackburn segued her woman definition question to asking about education at Georgetown Day School, where Jackson sits on the board, telling children “they can choose their gender.” Jackson declined to answer the question about whether “schools should teach children” this concept. Blackburn launched into a lecture on differences between male and female incorporating Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s written opinion that “supposed ‘inherent differences’ are no long accepted as a ground for race or national origin classifications [but] the two sexes are not fungible.” Blackburn asked Jackson if she agreed that there are enduring “physical differences between men and women.” In Ginsburg’s opinion for U.S. v. Virginia, striking down the male-only admission for Virginia Military Institute, she was quoting Ballard v. U.S. (1946) but not necessarily agreeing. As usual, Blackburn interrupted Jackson when she tried to answer.  

GOP Judiciary Committee members failed to answer Blackburn’s question. (Note that she never had an answer either; she just tried to claim that the definition is “fundamental.”) Responses to the question from GOP senators:

  • John Kennedy (LA): “I don’t have anything for you on that.”
  • John Cornyn (TX): “I’m not going to indulge you.” – Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
  • Marsha Blackburn (TN): She dodged the question three times, saying she doesn’t talk to reporters in the hallway. Later, her spokesperson said, “Two X chromosomes.” There was no response to whether women born with one X chromosome could be a woman or if men both with two X chromosomes were actually women.
  • Chuck Grassley (IA): He gave the same answer as Blackburn’s spokesperson.
  • Thom Tillis (NC): “My wife.”
  • Lindsey Graham (SC): He started out by saying a woman is simply someone who is “biologically a woman” and added that most Americans can figure out who’s a woman and who’s a man. “The birds and the bees stuff—it’s been a while, but I think I remember the general gist of the differences. To have a hard time answering that question is kind of odd to me.”
  • Ted Crux (TX): “An adult female human.” He denied he looked it up in a dictionary before answering the question. Then he added, “A Homosapien with two X chromosomes.” 
  • Mike Lee (UT): “An adult female of the human species.”
  • Josh Hawley (MO) center in the photograph talking to reporters: “Someone who can give birth to a child, a mother, is a woman. Someone who has a uterus is a woman. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me.” The question is whether a uterus is mandatory, if a woman stops being a woman after a hysterectomy. Hawley answered by saying, “Yeah. Well, I don’t know, would they?” Later, he said a woman could be a woman without a uterus by saying, “I mean, a woman has a vagina, right?”

About one in 5,000 women is born without a uterus. So much for the approximately 6,700 “people” who aren’t really women. Every year nearly 600,000 women get hysterectomies—probably a total of 20 million “people.”

In an interview, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) first refused to answer before he continued, probably referring to transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, finishing ahead of Anna Kalandadze by 38 seconds:

“A woman is—a woman is somebody that swims at a certain time and doesn’t get beaten by 38 seconds by somebody that wasn’t even a good swimmer as a male.”

DDT didn’t even say Kalandadze is a woman.

At a rally in Georgia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said:

“I’m going to tell you right now what is a woman. This is an easy answer,” she said. “We came from Adam’s rib. God created us with his hands. We are—we may be the weaker sex… We are the weaker sex. But we are our partner’s, our husband’s wife.”

Monica Hesse wrote that Republicans aren’t giving a biology test when they ask this question. It’s a culture-war test, and conservatives are intent on showing every progressive woman she is failing. Instead, these Republicans are failing. Do they mean wives are not women before they were married as suggested in these definitions? Otherwise, they will be men until a man married them. Greene’s reference to the “weaker sex” is belied by her pride in her sculpted biceps and vigorous workouts. All these definitions come from people who claim that defining a woman is “simple.”  

It’s election year.

The question about defining a woman won’t go away, and the anti-abortion movement has added to the “definitions. This past week, the House Judiciary committee held a hearing addressing the strong possibility that the Supreme Court will probably overturn Roe v. Wade to end the federal right for abortions in the U.S. Testifying about abortion access was Dr. Yashica Robinson, who provides abortions in Alabama and sits on the board of directors of the group Physicians for Reproductive Health. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) tried to divert the topic to the grievance about sharing one’s pronouns to help people avoid misgendering others. Bishop said:

“In your written testimony, I noticed you said that you use she/her pronouns. You’re a medical doctor. What’s a woman?”

When Robinson tried to explain why she used the female pronouns, Bishop asked again, “What is a woman?”

Robinson answered: “I think it’s important that we educate people like you about why we’re doing the things that we do. So the reason I use she and her pronouns is because I understand that there are people who become pregnant that may not identify that way and I think it is discriminatory to speak to people or to call them in such a way as they desire not to be called. It’s important that we respect each individual person.”

Once again, Bishops demanded a definition, and Robinson said, “I’m a woman.” Bishop asked, “Is that as comprehensive of a definition as you can give me?” and Robinson brought him back to the topic, reminding that the hearing was about abortion, not pronouns or definitions of a woman:

“That’s as comprehensive of a definition as I will give you today because I think that it’s important that we focus on what we’re here for, and it’s to talk about access to abortion.”

Some Republicans didn’t do any better with definitions of abortion. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) condescendingly asked Robinson if she would support an abortion of a “child” who was “halfway out of the birth canal.” Robinson answered until he cut her off:

“I can’t even fathom that just like you probably can’t imagine what you would do if your daughter was raped. If it hasn’t happened, it may be difficult for you to—.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) addressed the Black doctor as “Ms. Robinson,” and she said, “Yes, my name is Dr. Robinson, and I provide abortion care in Alabama.” He wanted to know how she disposed of “baby parts” removed during dilation and extraction, an extremely rare procedure during the second trimester. When she didn’t specifically answer the question, he accused her of not wanting “to talk about how they’re being stored” and continued by saying they were put “in freezers of Pyrex dishes.” Robinson said she had never seen that happen.

More political sound bites. It’s election year.

While Republicans obsess about defining a woman, they can avoid providing any support for them.

May 21, 2022

Russia Invades Ukraine – Day 88

Joshua Berlinger has an excellent overview of the past three months. Following is my perception.

Russian military, suffering huge losses of soldiers and equipment in at least three attempts to cross the Seversky Donets River with pontoon bridges, plans another try hoping for an offensive at Yampil. The 650-mile-long river starts in Russia and goes through the Donbas area before returning to Russia. Its lakes, floodplains, and swamps create a barrier for Russian armored vehicles. River crossings, inherently dangerous, require favorable terrain, and Ukrainian surveillance drones allow artillery units to see where rounds fall before guiding them onto Russian personnel. Instead of sending small numbers of troops across the river, Russian commanders put them all together. Russians lack the ability to adapt quickly when problems occur.

Putin has taken over ordering troop movements, working closely with the commander of the Russian armed forces, Gen. Valery Gerasimov. His operational and tactical are “at the level of a colonel or brigadier.” Russia’s top-down military style also means generals are closer to the frontline where up to 12 of them have been killed in under three months.  

The mass mutiny from poor morale among Russian soldiers has worsened, as described in their intercepted telephone conversations. Fed up with Putin’s incompetent leadership and lack of battle support, the caller said, “Everyone is planning to take off on the 26th.” He continued “that a battalion commander is leaving with us and even a staff colonel.” In another call, a soldier told his friend to “take someone else’s weapon, a Ukrainian one, and shoot yourself in the legs.” Another soldier said a commander shot himself in the leg to get out of the war—“and he served in Chechnya.” Russia is supposedly planting informants into one of its military regiments to identify and “neutralize” soldiers who refuse to carry out orders.

Russia is attempting to restructure its faltering offensive in Ukraine—firing commanders, dividing combat units into small groups, and increasing reliance on artillery and other long-range weapons. People over 40 years old can also sign up to fight. Russia’s transport minister said that his nation’s transport and shipping logistics are “practically broken.” In recent week, Russia has seized only a little over a mile per day, leaving most of Ukraine to be taken after a year.

No major cities not controlled by Russia in the Donbas region in February have been seized. According to British officials, Russia has lost one-third of the troops it sent to Ukraine. One recent battle was so deadly for Russia that it led to criticism from pro-Russia bloggers. One blogger with 2.1 million followers said he was finally criticizing the Russian military, “the last straw” being the events of the fourth bridge failure  because “due to stupidity—I emphasize, because of the stupidity of the Russian command–at least one battalion tactical group was burned, possibly two.” He continued by describing the shortage of equipment. Another blogger wrote that commanders left so much of their force exposed amounted to “not idiocy, but direct sabotage.” A third posted that Russia’s eastern offensive moved slowly partly because of “these generals” and their tactics.

In a new strategy to take over Ukraine, Russia promised to pay Melitopol residents money for blaming Ukrainian military for destroying housing and killing people. Local radio programming in the city has been replaced by a loop of Putin’s speech. Russia claims only one of the 500 sailors on its flagship Moskva, sunk by Ukraine, was killed but has no answer for families about the missing ones.

With 25 tons of grain stranded in cities along the Black Sea, the U.S. plans to deliver anti-ship missiles which would force Russia to lift its blockade. Without this food, African and Middle Eastern countries are faced with starvation. The U.S. may also send Harpoon missiles and Naval Strike Missiles with a range of 150-180 miles. Harpoon, however, need launchers which have limited availability. The U.S. may remove the system from one of its warships. Twelve to 24 of these missiles could lift the ports’ blockade from Russia’s 20 ships and submarines in the Black Sea. 

Russian ships at Sevastopol are being protected by “military” dolphins on either side of the harbor to keep Ukrainians from sabotaging the fleet underwater. According to reports from the 1990s, Russia outfits dolphins with lethal devices that could inject enemy divers with CO2 and trained the marine mammals to parachute out of helicopters.

Russians have evacuated about 900 Ukrainians from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant and sent to a prison colony in Russian-controlled territory while 100,000 civilians remain in the occupied southeastern port city. The Ukrainians fighters may be exchanged for Viktor Medvedchuk, godfather to Putin’s daughter. Ukraine recaptured Medvedchuk in mid-April and seized 154 of his assets including a $200 million yacht. Under house arrest, Medvedchuk had been facing between 15 years and life in prison for treason plus aiding and abetting a terrorist organization because he mediated coal purchases for the separatist, Russia-backed Donetsk republic in eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian medic provided two weeks of video to AP journalists before she was captured on March 16 and disappeared on March 21. She had saved hundreds of lives. Hidden inside a tampon, the data card was smuggled past 15 Russian checkpoints. Also available are images of the steelworks disaster taken by Dmytro Kozatsky, a member of Ukraine’s military who is now a prisoner of war taken by the Russians.

The first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine admitted to killing a 62-year-old unarmed civilian but said his commander ordered the killing. Ukrainian authorities have brought war crimes charges against two other Russian soldiers, alleging they targeted Ukrainian civilians in the Kharkiv region using a truck-mounted rocket launcher. One defendant allegedly drove the truck while the other operated the rocket launcher to fire at civilians. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sent 42 investigators, forensic experts, and support staff to Ukraine, the “largest ever single field deployment” since the ICC began in 2003, according to Prosecutor Karim Khan.  

The past week has seen back and forth discussions regarding Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to join NATO. Putin has threatened Finland with retribution, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making requirements for his acceptance. All 30 NATO members must agree to accept applications for new members. One of Erdogan’s conditions is that the two countries stop supporting what he calls “terror groups” his country. He refers to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group and the Gulen movement, accused of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt. Erdogan also demanded the lifting of an arms exports embargo by both countries imposed on Turkey after its 2019 incursion into Syria against the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) militia. A NATO member since 1952, Turkey has caused problems for NATO allies because of its decades of bloody conflict with Kurdish insurgents, mainly in the southeast, have often posed problems for NATO allies.

Switzerland, always maintaining neutrality and nonalignment, plans options to bolster its security including joint military exercises with NATO countries and regular meetings between Swiss and NATO commanders.

Putin is losing the faith of some Russian oligarchs who grumble about their losses from sanctions against them and Russia after the Ukrainian. Those speaking out were likely to have made fortunes before Putin took power and who are no longer in Russia. They complained about losing tens of billions of dollars in assets, a situation worsening with President Joe Biden’s decision to sell their assets and give the proceeds to Ukraine. Oligarchs talked about how “in one day” everything “what was built over many years” has been destroyed. “It’s a catastrophe,” one of them said. In anonymous comments, several billionaires and senior bankers and officials explain how they feel blindsided by the isolated Putin who they cannot influence because of a few hardline security officials in his inner circle.  At least four Russian senior officials have resigned and left the country.

Russian oligarchs also aren’t safe. At least seven of them, some with their wives and children, have been found dead this year, five of them connected to large Russian gas companies. The ones called murder-suicide have been questioned. Six of the deaths were after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and one was shortly before.

In addition to selling off Russian oligarchs’ assets, Biden will take innovators from Russia by relaxing visa requirements for highly educated Russians. Putin already has serious problems with lack of ability to climb the ladder to higher ratings among countries. In addition, Russia is making money selling oil to China and India, but sanctions block them from spending the revenue on necessities for both daily life and war.

A new 110-mile pipeline may start removing Europe’s reliance on Russia’s natural gas to generate electricity, fuel industry, and home heating. Completion of the project, ending in Italy, will join the 27-nation bloc to the global gas market. Eight additional interconnectors in Europe could reach as far as Ukraine and Austria.

Putin has more than his invasion of Ukraine to worry about: Siberia’s early season wildfires promise another record-breaker after almost 33,000 square miles burned in 2021. Already burned is an area the size of Rhode Island, and the future looks bleak, especially because firefighting requires military personnel and resources such as helicopters.

May 20, 2022

Republicans Fight Democrats, Each Other

A week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had his time in the sun by single-handedly blocking the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, the Senate passed the House bill by 86-11. Eleven Republicans, 22 percent of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Paul, and Tommy Tuberville (AL). All 57 dissenters to the bill in the House vote 368-57 are Republicans. 

About the serious shortage of baby formula, Republicans claim that President Joe Biden is doing nothing about the problem or women should breastfeed so they don’t need the formula.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), among the House leadership, called Biden and other Democrats “pedo grifters.” She blamed the shortage on Biden’s economic policies instead of mismanagement by one of the four monopolizing manufacturers with dirty conditions and massive expenditures on the company’s stock. Republicans ignore Biden’s actions solving the shortage:

  • Invoking the Defense Production to speed up the production.
  • Authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to bring more imports for overseas.
  • Requiring suppliers to fulfill orders from baby-formula producers before other customers.
  • Making a deal with Abbott Nutrition for them to manufacture baby formula if they clean up the plant where it’s made.

His ideas seem much better this one from Republicans, introduced by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott: starve migrant infants so that white infants will have the formula. Or Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), allegedly accused of sex trafficking minors, who wants to deny fomula to infants in poor families and save it for “hard-working Americans.”

The House appropriated $28 million in emergency funds for the baby formula shortage, but only 12 Republicans supported the bill. Stefanik, a new mother who uses baby formula, was not one of them, but she did vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act, temporarily waiving exclusive contracts between states and baby formula manufactures for six million people enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children program. Nine other Republicans, however, voted against that bill: Andy Biggs (AZ), Laurie Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Clay Higgins (LA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX).  Stefanik’s own bill was for more foreign imports of the product. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act but didn’t take up the funding bill.  

The U.S. House also passed a bill 217-207 permitting Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration blocking gasoline and home fuel price gouging. Despite the huge hue and cry from the GOP about inflation, no Republicans voted for the bill, and it has little chance of getting the necessary 60 percent of votes in the Senate. Four House Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), and Kathleen Rice (NY). 

The partisan vote in the House of 222-203 on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 shows how the GOP supports white supremacy.

Republicans hate globalization and want to bring home manufacturing, but Senate Republicans will likely drop a small program to train workers in new careers if they lose jobs from offshoring. GOP legislators say the U.S. is not working on new trade deals with other countries although old trade deals are still in effect. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated that Republicans care very little “about people getting laid off because of bad trade deals and tax policy that encourages jobs to go overseas.”

As frustrated as Democrats are with the GOP, Republican splits are causing dissension within the party. Hardline tactics of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus have forced recorded votes instead of voice votes on what should be noncontroversial bills; legislators forced to stay for the voting can’t leave to do other business. A heated confrontation during a 2.5-hour voting on 13 measures led to raised voices from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and caucus members Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), the current chair. Witnesses reported that Rogers promised consequences for the Freedom Caucus members if they continue delaying tactics. Beyond virtuous comments about the need to review all legislature, the Freedom Caucus bragged that they slow down the Democrats’ “agenda.” Suspension bills need a two-thirds’ vote to pass, and some are failing because of GOP opposition. One required the VA to provide contraceptives without co-pays. The bill later later passed after the normal rules process. In another bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only member of the House to oppose a resolution calling on leaders to condemn anti-Semitism.  

The House January 6 investigation committee is heating up the media with more information about who worked to overturn Biden’s presidential election. With evidence that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, the committee wrote him, asking for his testimony. GOP legislators had claimed that security footage shows “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” in the complex on the days before the insurrection. The committee wants to know about “individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”

Both Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IA) denied any tour like that, stating “a constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’” They added, “The family never entered the Capitol building.” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused Republicans of leading tours to people using them to help interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. She didn’t provide any names, and Loudermilk called anyone in Congress who made these claims “morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution.” He asked the House Ethics Committee to “take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.” The committee’s evidence contradicts these denials and raises questions about Loudermilk’s tour and its purpose. He is also among those texting former chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election.

Note that Loudermilk and Davis lied with their claim of “no tours” for the past 16 months.

New committee findings include official White House photos from January 6 showing Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) activites on the day. The probe is also targeting DDT’s 11:20 am phone call with then-VP Mike Pence in a final push for him to overturn the election and DDT’s 2:24 pm attack tweet, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” At that time, the Secret Service was rushing Pence into an underground Capitol loading dock for protection from the mob. The committee perceives this tweet as the driver of the mob’s fury and worst violence as well as DDT’s indifference to it.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder/chair of the Oracle software company and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call with Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, True the Vote’s attorney James Bopp Jr., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) focusing on strategies for overturning the election. Ellison’s part may have been to assess Sidney Powell’s false claims about voting machines. He has been an active participant in a number of DDT’s conspiracy theories.  

Powell, well-known for her evidence-free claims of election fraud in multiple court cases, is now providing financial support for high-profile insurrectionists through donations to her non-profit, Defending the Republic. One of them, Kelly Meggs, is an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges who has a new lawyer after her former one, Jonathan Moseley, was disbarred in Virginia for improper billing practices. In 2009, Virginia suspended his law license for frivolous discovery requests and false statements about the judge in the case. On January 6 he was in a restricted area at the Capitol but said he didn’t notice.

Known as the “Kraken,” Powell is also paying to defend Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, from the network of militia-style groups created in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential election. A few dozen face criminal charges for the January 6 insurrection, and 12 of them have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Powell was responsible for a far-reaching set of conspiracy theories about the non-existent election fraud from billionaire George Soros to the involvement of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who died in 2013. The committee subpoenaed Powell, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for $1.3 billion. She is also facing disbarment in Texas from allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct prohibiting attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, and taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Another DDT shyster lawyer and architect to overturn Biden’s election, Rudy Giuliani, testified to the House committee for nine hours.

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas pushing two Arizona state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win in that state by picking their own electors contrary to the popular vote. The justice is also godfather to the son of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, married to one of the lawmakers, and the lawmaker, Shawnna Bolick, is a candidate for the secretary of state. Incestuous? Definitely a loss of democracy for Arizona’s voters if she’s elected.

May 18, 2022

Primaries – May 17, 2022

If it’s Tuesday this summer, there might be primaries. This week they were in my home state of Oregon along with Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Unlike in past years, the former occupant of the White House is trying to control the elections. This year he has pushed 176 far-right candidates thus far, 26 of them this week. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) upped his total by endorsing several candidates who ran unopposed or faced little-known, poorly-known opponents. A few of them haven’t been announced, specifically Mehmet Oz for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat, because Lancaster County ballot barcodes were too poorly printed to be tallied, affecting about 21,000 ballots. That race is so tight that a recount may be needed. Thus far, Oz hasn’t followed DDT’s direction to “declare victory” before all the votes are counted, but court cases will probably ensue.  

Status of the five states voting on May 17:

Idaho:

This state may not be as crazy as I feared: incumbent Brad Little won the GOP gubernatorial race against his DDT-endorsed lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin. She made the media by issuing executive orders the minute he left the state such as sending the state national guard to the Mexico border and rescinding COVID protections, orders that Little had to overturn when he returned. 

Incumbent Rep. Mike Simpson won, claiming DDT’s endorsement, but that one was two years ago. 

Kentucky:

Incumbent Rep. Thomas Massie, one Russian President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest assets in the U.S. for his 16-for-16 anti-Ukrainian votes, won with DDT’s endorsement. Massie overcame DDT’s insults that he should be thrown out of the GOP, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” for trying to stall DDT’s $2.2 trillion COVID aid package. DDT endorsed the state’s other four heavily-favored GOP house members. Massie’s current excuse to not expand healthcare comes from the statistics that 70 percent of people dying of COVID are over the age of 70. He insinuated that Medicare is the reason for all these deaths. He earlier attributed a quote by a neo-Nazi convicted for child porn to Voltaire while trying to smear Dr. Anthony Fauci

North Carolina:

Fellow Republicans wiped out DDT’s endorsement, 26-year-old incumbent Rep. Madison Cawthorn, with the help of billionaire Art Pope. The media attributed the loss to Cawthorn’s myriad scandals, but his big mistake was trying to take a district Pope wanted for another politician. Cawthorn has repeatedly endorsed violence in case of a rigged election (aka one that elects Democrats) and promised to break insurrectionists out of custody. He did, however, concede the election.     

 DDT got himself another 26-year-old, football player Bo Hines, for a congressional district where he doesn’t live. Local conservatives ran ads about his being a carpetbagger, and he raised only $120,000 in the first quarter with no contributions over $50 in the district he wants to represent. The misnamed House Freedom Caucus gave him $2 million, and Club for Growth gave him $1.5 million. The anti-government PAC couldn’t remember what position he wanted, however, running an ad stating he’s a senatorial candidate.

Rep. Ted Budd’s win for U.S. senatorial candidate was buoyed by DDT’s endorsement and $12 million from the Club for Growth. Budd voted to overturn the election after the insurrectionists were removed from the Capitol on January 6.

DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows won’t be voting in the North Carolina primary. He’s been dropped from the rolls after the discovery he registered there illegally because he’s never lived there. At that time, he was also registered in both South Carolina and Virginia. A great believer in “election integrity,” he gave the keynote speaker at a CPI Election Integrity Summit in Atlanta on February 19 and said, “What you’re doing is investing in the future of our country and making sure only legal votes count.”

Pennsylvania:

Doug Mastriano, the Democrats’ pick for the general election GOP candidate, won the gubernatorial GOP primary in Pennsylvania just days after DDT endorsed him.  The state senator has been subpoenaed by the House January 6 investigative committee because of his participation in the plan to provide an alternative slate of electors for DDT instead of the electors selected by the state’s voters. He was also at the Capitol for the January 6, 2021 insurrection, employs 3 Percenters and Proud Boys for security, and has ties to QAnon conspiracy theorists. Later he denied he went into the Capitol although he was filmed going through the breached barricades. The press is banned from his rallies, and even Fox’s Sean Hannity disagreed with DDT’s endorsement. Republicans wanted former Rep. Lou Barletta and are very lukewarm about their new “Christian nationalist” after his win. Mastriano is everything that MAGAites could want and more.

Teddy Daniels, the GOP gubernatorial candidate for the 2022 general election, didn’t get DDT’s endorsement, but he did join the insurrectionists at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He posted a video 90 minutes after the Capitol was breached and stated, ‘I’m here. God bless our patriots.”

Still unsettled is the GOP race for the U.S. Senate. By Wednesday, Mehmet Oz, DDT’s endorsement, was ahead of wealthy former hedge fund owner David McCormick by about 1,240 votes, waiting for the remainder ones. For a brief time, the third candidate, Kathy Barnette, rose as a competitor because of the smears between the top two. She out-MAGAs both of them with her anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and her being seen with the Proud Boys just before they were at the insurrection. Opposed to Roe v. Wade, Barnette claims she was “the byproduct of rape” after her molested mother was pregnant at the age of 11. Questions to Barnette’s campaign manager about her background went unanswered. Her supporters come from those who think that DDT is not far enough right-wing; her GOP opposition calls her “crazy” and “Pennsylvania’s wackiest candidate.” Barnette lost her 2020 try against Democrat Madeleine Dean in an area heavily won by Hillary Clinton four years earlier but still refuses to concede the race, which she lost by almost 20 percent.

Another carpetbagger, “Dr. Oz” moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey after DDT lost his first choice for the U.S. senate, Sean Parnell, who resigned after his domestic violence was made public. Oz used his in-laws residence for his address, and DDT’s audience booed his name at a rally. Part of his recommended “cures” on his Oprah-endorsed TV show are hydroxychloroquine for COVID (doesn’t work) and lose-weight-fast methods such as raspberry ketones “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat.” According to Oz, astrological signs “may reveal a great deal about our health,” and umckaloabo root extract relieves cold symptoms. (It doesn’t.) 

Trying to look more MAGA, Dr. Oz held a pro-gun rally with Ted Nugent pro-gun rally less than 24 hours after a teenager killed at least 10 people in Buffalo last weekend. Nugent called for the audience to go “berserk on the skulls of the Democrats.”

If Oz doesn’t win by at least 0.05 percent of the vote, about 7,000, state law requires an automatic recount by June 1, 2022, unless the second-place candidate declines. Second-place McCormick has an antagonistic anti-immigrant position and hired Stephen Miller, DDT’s architect of anti-immigration policies aimed at people of color to advise him.

Oregon:

DDT made no endorsements in the state, but President Joe Biden supported incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader, who has moved to a new district after Oregon needed a new map for an additional House representative. In his former district, Blue Dog Schrader was disliked for his GOP-like votes, and his opponent, Jamie McLeod Skinner, is almost 10,000 ahead with about 21,000 votes outstanding from a bad print job on the barcodes. Deadline for confirmation is June 13. There have also been questions about Schrader’s residency

Money didn’t seem to buy Carrick Flynn a Democratic candidacy in the state’s new congressional district, despite the $13 million support from a cryptocurrency billionaire living in the Bahamas and another $1 million from the House Majority PAC. Of Carrick’s $817,254 itemized individual campaign contributions, 55 percent came from California and New York, with only 2.5 percent from Oregon donors. Flynn’s sunny ads for most of the campaign changed to smears against his winning opponent, Andrea Salinas, in the last few days. Because of the printing problem in Clackamas County, this election has also not been formally announced. Salinas is about 9,000 votes ahead. In the 6th District GOP primary, Mike Erickson has not been declared the winner, and the runner-up, Ron Noble, has not conceded although he is over 7,000 votes behind.  

After Gov. Kate Brown was term-limited, the race was wide open. By the time ballots were mailed, Democrats were down to 15 while Republicans stayed at 19. Democrat Tina Kotek got 58 percent, and GOP Christine Drazen came in at 23.5 percent. The fall election will have a wildcard in a three-race that adds former Democrat Betsy Johnson who frequently voted with the Republicans. She has moved to unaffiliated, and her ads, already running, merely say she will be for all the people in Oregon. Johnson has yet to show up with the approximately 24,000 signatures necessary for her to run, but her war chest is over $8 million, almost one-fourth of it from Nike-founder Phil Knight.  

 Sad Events of the Week

Monday the Supreme Court legalized bribery—again. A 6-3 vote struck down another McCain-Feingold campaign finance act provision, eliminating the restriction on candidates’ ability to collect donations post-election to pay off personal loans to their campaigns. The winning case by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) permits lawmakers to give political favors to donors who put money directly into their bank accounts. In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote the decision will “bring this country’s political system into further disrepute.” Cruz, who put over half the justices onto the high court, still hadn’t paid back $545,000 of the $1 million plus he loaned his campaign.

Cruz opposed the law limiting the $250,000 payoff with money raised more than 20 days after the election. It used the rationale that donations after the election don’t go toward political speech but only line candidates’ pockets. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion stated that the law fails even lenient constitutional scrutiny because it “burdens core political speech without proper justification.” Yet after-the-fact donations don’t fund any “electoral speech.” Kagan condemned the practice as “sordid bargains” and “dirty dealings,” but Roberts called “influence and access.” Wealthy political candidates (aka Republicans) won’t have to suffer “non-existent” burdens, but the Supreme Court will force real burdens on pregnant women searching for legal abortions—at least legal in some states after SCOTUS finishes with them.

Mark Joseph Stern writes:

“Kagan and Roberts’ disagreement runs much deeper than the facts of this one case. It is, at bottom, a dispute about the government’s authority to safeguard democracy by outlawing the kind of self-dealing that makes lawmakers responsive to a small set of oligarchs rather than the people. [Kagan] provided multiple examples of these contributions facilitating corruption: In Ohio, the governor handed out more than 200 state contracts to his postelection donors. In San Diego, three city council members voted to benefit lobbyists who raised money to retire their campaign debts. In California, a congresswoman raised donations from lobbyists to pay off her personal campaign loans—at 18 percent interest. There’s nothing to stop politicians from using postelection contributions to pay off interest payments, allowing them to ‘turn a tidy profit,’ in Kagan’s words.

“There is an undercurrent of disgust in Kagan’s opinion, an evident revulsion toward the majority’s endorsement of a captured democracy. Her previous dissents in campaign finance cases evince outrage over the damage inflicted by the court; in Cruz, she sounds not just angry but horrified and sickened by what her colleagues have wrought. Our political system, she suggests, is already in ‘disrepute,’ and Monday’s decision will only ‘further’ its collapse by granting First Amendment protections to bribery.”

Scientific American has a piece by Wendy E. Parmet on how the Supreme Court has become bad for people’s health:

“For most of American history, courts treated the protection of health as an important aspect of the social contract, one that is implicitly woven into our laws. This centrality of public health to law—encapsulated by the legal maxim salus populi suprema lex (the health and well-being of the public is the highest law)—was widely accepted in 19th- and 20th-century state and federal court decisions. The most famous constitutional case evincing health’s centrality was the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a Cambridge (MA) vaccination mandate. In it, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, ‘There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members.’”

In a 1987 case about whether a school could legally fire a teacher with tuberculosis, the high court adopted the legal test from the American Medical Association and stated, “In making these findings, courts normally should defer to the reasonable medical judgments of public health officials.” Gone, however, are the days of using medical information. Now the conservatives’ anti-science aggression rules the court with no concern for health or expertise, especially after Amy Coney Barrett joined the four ultra-conservative justices.

They ignored OSHA’s “vaccine or test” mandate although agreeing it would avoid 65,000 deaths. Some justices said that preventing deaths from COVID may not be a compelling state interest. In his draft opinion overturning Roe, Samuel Alito ignored any harm to women’s health. Gone is any attention to evidence of scientific experts; now conservative justices use their “intuition.” In the Roe argument, Roberts even said “put that data aside” about scientific evidence. Alito based his opinion on the practice of law before 1868 back to medieval times instead of the 21st century position that abortion is safe and critical to women’s health.

In his statements about the killings of ten and wounding another three, most of them Black and over 50 years of age, President Joe Biden condemned the action by an 18-year-old White man in Buffalo as “domestic terrorism.” He and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, visited Buffalo and met with first responders and victims’ families on Tuesday. In his brief address, he talked about the hate coming from the “great replacement” theory running “through the media and politics, the internet [that] “has radicalized angry alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced.” That theory supported by half the Republicans is Democrats are deliberately replacing “white Americans” with minorities, especially immigrants. In calling on people to “condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit,” Biden said, “White supremacy is a poison … running through our body politic.”

The Israel army admitted they “might” have killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but it didn’t stop police from attacking mourners of the beloved woman when they tried to carry her casket on their shoulders. Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.  Fellow journalists witnessing the shootin said Israeli forces had fired on them. Israel’s prime minister and other senior officials initially tried to blame Palestinian militants. At an East Jerusalem hospital, mourners were beaten with clubs, horrifying viewers watching it on live television. To support its claim that mourners waved Palestinian flags and changed nationalist slogans, Israeli police edited drone video to remove the police first charging the mourners and then slowed down footage of a man waving his arms in frustration to claim he was throwing objects at the police. 

Thousands of people joined the procession to a funeral at a Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City. Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, top Catholic clergyman in Israel, condemned the beatings and accused authorities of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church. When Abu Akleh was killed, the Palestinian-American, Catholic reporter who worked 25 years for the Al Jazeera satellite channel wore a blue vest clearly marked “Press.” The international researchers at the Dutch Bellingcat supported witness accounts that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh.

If you face price gouging at the gas pump, thank a Republican. Along with other GOP legislators, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) slammed the investigation of oil companies making excessive profits as “socialism” like in “Soviet Russia.” (Never mind that Russia stopped being “Soviet” over 30 years ago.) A week ago, she blamed Biden for the high prices and tweeted it’s time to “get these prices under control” because they are “taking a devastating toll on the pocketbooks of families.” Thanks to Rodgers and her colleagues, huge oil company profits—which they call free enterprise—take precedence over families—and maintaining higher inflation will get them re-elected. The bill didn’t set price caps; it just permitted the Federal Trade Commission to look into the possibility of price gouging. Republicans on the House Rules Committee blocked the advancing of H.R. 7688, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act; the GOP calls it the “Socialist Energy Price Fixing Act.” Wait until Republicans take over the house and then decide to investigate—maybe even block—price gouging. Voila! Republicans reduce inflation!  

Fox’s Tucker Carlson again gets an award for being the most disgusting host on the network. In another program for appearance on Russian state TV, he called Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) “Eyepatch McCain” because Crenshaw criticized congressional members voting against aid for Ukraine. Crenshaw said:

“People are saying ‘we can’t put baby formula on our shelves, but we are sending money to Ukrainians? My response to that is, do you know how much baby formula you can buy with $40 billion? None, because it is not a money issue, it is a manufacturing issue.” 

Crenshaw wears an eyepatch because he was hit by an IED in Afghanistan during the Navy Seal’s third tour there. In a medically-induced coma, Crenshaw was sent to Germany where the remains of his right eye were scraped out and a copper wire was removed from his other eye, requiring two years for complete recovery. After treatment, he deployed to Bahrain and South Korea. Crenshaw said that a glass eye is “very distracting to people” and makes him feel “self-conscious.” He wears the patch primarily when he meets strangers or appears at political events.

Born in 1969, Carlson was a child during the later years of the Vietnam War, ending in April 1975. The military draft ended two years earlier, and the U.S. created an all-volunteer force. Carlson never got closer to the military than criticizing it during his talk shows.

One really bizarre story! Nick Fuentes, the 23-year-old far-right founder of group for the principles of American Nationalism, Christianity, and Traditionalism (aka bigotry), also leads the unofficial “Groypers,” who think extreme right-wingers aren’t far enough right. Sometimes considered gay because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he said:

“I think if anything—if anything—it makes me less gay. If anything, it makes me not gay—as opposed to less gay, not that there’s any gay, but it makes me not gay.”

He continued by saying that never having a relationship or sex with a woman makes a man more heterosexual because “dating women is gay.” Hmmm. The question is why right-wingers, including Christian evangelicals, are so obsessed with sex.

May 15, 2022

Republicans: The Cult of Death

David Barnhart, a pastor in Alabama, wrote the following about the anti-abortion, so-called “right-to-life” movement banning abortions:

“’The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

The anti-abortion movement—actually the anti-choice movement because they don’t want to give rights to people—calls itself the “right to life,” but it’s actually only rights for the human zygote, embryo, or fetus. Conservatives’ respect for life by conservatives disappears at the instant a fetus emerges from the uterus. From then on, they embrace death:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants to starve migrant babies held in custody for crossing the southern border because selfish baby formula manufacturers have caused a shortage.

New state anti-abortion laws block treatment for ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tube, cervix, abdominal cavity, ovary or scar from a cesarean section instead of in the uterus. They never result in a birth and are guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman without surgery. A Louisiana bill would permit the charge of murder for anyone who miscarries or needs surgery for ectopic pregnancies. An Ohio bill would mandate doctors to “reimplant” an ectopic pregnancy, medically impossible. An Oklahoma state senator disagreed with permitting surgeries for these pregnancies. Texas law does not define exceptions for medical emergencies, and a doctor denied a woman treatment for her ectopic pregnancy before she was rejected at an emergency room. At least one pharmacy refused to fill prescriptions for this condition. Ignorant legislators create these bills which are then supported by more ignorant people. If laws allow ectopic pregnancies, the confusion may keep women from seeking help. In some states, medical students receive limited education about abortion which means they also don’t know how to care for patients who have had miscarriages. The women who die don’t have the “right to life.”

The Supreme Court supporting “right to fetuses” opposed life for Clarence Dixon, a schizophrenic executed in Arizona last week. His lawyers said he didn’t understand why he was being put to death and suffered for over 25 minutes during the procedure. Age 66 and blind, Dixon is the first execution since Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours, repeated gasping until he died. Witnesses reported that prison had trouble finding a vein for the lethal injection, and Dixon was in pain for 25 minutes until they injected him in the groin. An AP journalist said, “They did have to wipe up a fair amount of blood.” Arizona also has a gas chamber which uses hydrogen cyanide, the same gas used at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Arizona can still kill another 112 people on death row. Supreme Court decisions determined justices shouldn’t meddle in state lethal injections so Arizona can handle the situation any way it wants.  

Republicans virtuously permit people with COVID to infect and kill others with the ridiculous claim of needing freedom from wearing masks. Studies have shown over and over that social distancing, vaccinations, and masks will block the transmission of the disease killing people in a little over two years. Even those who refuse all these precautions have learned how their loved ones have died the hard way, and many of them have admitted this fact. 

In another way to kill people, Republicans block any kind of sex education for young people so that they can protect themselves. Without that knowledge, girls employ myths to avoid pregnancy, myths that don’t work. Their solution is sometimes self-induced abortions, killing the young girls.

In 2008, before President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, over 26,000 people died because they lacked health insurance. Since it passed in 2010, the Republicans have tried non-stop to block health insurance for the poor. Even ten years after the law passed, 45,000 people are still dying each year from lack of health insurance. Even if they don’t die, 25 percent of people in the U.S delay health care for serious illnesses.

GOP hatred for LGBTQ people also promote violent deaths by those with anti-LGBTQ fear and loathing with the attitude that they are following God’s will.   

The deaths of at least ten people in a Buffalo story also shows how cavalier conservatives are permitting mass shootings through the freedom to buy guns. An 18-year-old who had previously threatened a school shooting and posted a “manifesto” on the website murdered people peacefully shopping because they were black. The GOP party line will be that he was a “lone wolf” although the persuasion to stop white people from being “replaced” by minorities has come for the far-right media, especially Fox’s Tucker Carlson, and GOP leaders. This mass shooting was #198 in the first 19 weeks of 2022.

Deliberate income inequality in which Republicans ensure that the wealthy and big business collect the vast majority of assets while people in poverty die from lack of resources.

The conservative anti-science aggression is also causing hunger and starvation by refusing to recognize climate change. Republicans also permit toxic chemicals and other pollution to kill people—if they are poor—to benefit big business.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, said the loss of abortion rights won’t bother most voters although it “might be a little messy for some people.” He blithely commented that women can just drive across state lines for the procedure. No worry about lack of resources, distances from blocks of states banning choice, laws blocking getting an abortion in another state, prosecution for getting an abortion at all. Republicans want to have it both ways—get rid of all abortions while persuading the 70 percent of pro-choice voters that he’s not really against women having reproductive rights. The GOP just wants the discussion to disappear before the 2022 election.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees with Johnson that voters for congressional members don’t really care. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that “angry leftists … don’t even know that overturning Roe means.” They haven’t noticed that 26 percent of respondents to a Monmouth University poll rated their top concern, only one percent below the economic policy. That’s far above the nine percent of them rating abortion policy as the top concern a year ago. McConnell also tries to persuade people that getting an abortion won’t be any problem because it’s up to the states. People who have seen their rights disintegrate won’t believe that either.

In Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft of the ruling that overturns Roe, he bases part of his opinion on the “great” and “eminent” legal authority, Sir Matthew Hale. The English judge and lawyer who died in 1676 at the age of 67, he presided over a witchcraft trial in which he sentenced two “witches” to death.  His “History of the Pleas of the Crown,” published posthumously in 1736, stated that authorities should distrust women who claimed to have been raped, a position still popular in the second half of the 20th century and used even in the 21st century. He wrote the marital rape exemption protecting a man from prosecution if he raped his wife because marriage means the woman has put her body under her husband’s permanent dominion “which she cannot retract.” In the U.S., no state could prosecute a man for raping his wife—even brutally—until 1970. At the current time, 21 states are still more lenient toward marital rape than rape outside the marriage. Men will cling to a legal system in which men complete control their wives.  

His claim about the “deep roots” of history ignores common law in the first decades of the United States that did not regulate abortion before “quickening”—the first feeling of fetal movement occurring as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy. Alito ignored Hale’s description declaring abortion as a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” And he uses as his justification the man who sentences women to death as witches, knows women are liars, and believes women own their wives’ bodies.

Blocking abortion will lead to preventing other human rights such as contraception, same-gender relationships and marriage, biracial marriage, transgenderism, etc. All these rights will be blocked by Republican legislators and their activist partisan judges in a huge government overreach eliminating freedom and liberty for half the people in the country. The GOP has claimed they objected to this practice with Democrats but are now allowing only Christian evangelical laws.  

May 14, 2022

Ukraine Makes Progress against Russia

The U.S. Pentagon has newly captured Russian war plans and documents showing that its president, Vladimir Putin, “is in a corner, not just in Ukraine where his army is failing, but also in facing an existential threat from Europe, now even more united because of his missteps.” It appears “Odesa [Ukraine’s third largest city] is safe from Putin’s army and from coastal landings.” Also abandoned is advancement on Mykolaiv, and Ukraine has slowed Russia’s offensive efforts on the west bank of the Dnieper. Russian reinforcements have little fighting spirit while Ukraine displays high morale and excellent command.

Russia recognizes the possibility of Ukrainian victory both on the battlefield and in its change into a western Army as an expansion of NATO. Ukrainians may have won the “battle of Kharkiv,” blocking Russian troops from encircling and seizing the country’s second largest city. Russians attacking from Popasna in the north have made no progress and lack fresh combat power to offset huge losses. Russians plan to withdraw and return its forces home.

Ukrainians destroyed a Russian tank battalion trying to cross the Donets River on a pontoon bridge with possibly 1,500 Russians dead and up to 70 vehicles either burned or fallen into the water. The surviving 30 vehicles and Russian troops are stranded on the other side of the river in the third Ukrainian attack in three days.

Sean Spoonts, editor-in-chief of the military news outlet SOFREP, estimates Russia will run out of forces and equipment within 90 days. He added that figure could be optimistic. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also believes Putin doesn’t want a direct conflict with NATO.

Putin has appeared ill for several months, and a KGB defector to Britain, Boris Karpichkov, said he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, and possibly dementia. At an April 22 meeting, he clung to a small table for over 13 minutes, perhaps to conceal tremors or vertigo. The press recently reported an authenticated audio recording from an oligarch close to the Kremlin describing Putin as “very ill with blood cancer.” The change of his facial appearance from gaunt to puffy is “compatible with steroid use,” according to Ashley Grossman. He explained that steroids are typically prescribed for various kinds of lymphoma or myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells, which “can cause widespread bone disease and definitely affect the spinal column and back.” A Russian coup to replace Putin may be underway.

Even Putin’s allies and state media admit his army is an embarrassment. State Duma member Semyon Bagdasarov called him a pariah fighting a war of aggression:

“Everyone is ashamed to talk about this topic … It’s a crying shame!”

On May 6, analyst Konstantin Sivkov said on Russian State TV show, “The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” that “current economic market system is unfit to meet the needs of our Armed Forces and of the entire country under these conditions.” He pushed for “military socialism,” putting “all strategic resources—including land and factories—under the direct control of the government to better fund the war.”

Without martial law, Putin cannot force soldiers into his Ukrainian war. Troops refusing to fight can be dismissed but not prosecuted and are looking for advice to stay out of the battle. Using volunteers or conscripts will only increase losses with untrained troops.

On Russia’s 60 Minutes, retired Colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok said that even “mass mobilization in Russia wouldn’t help alter the course of Putin’s stalled invasion of Ukraine.” Fighter aviation would take until New Year’s, and ships require two years. Even tanks can’t be built in fewer than 90 days. Khodaryonok added that nothing would be “equipped with modern weaponry because we don’t have modern weapons and equipment in our reserves … Sending people armed with weapons of yesteryear into a war of the 21st century to fight against global standard NATO weapons would not be the right thing to do.”

U.S.-led sanctions make Russia struggle to find parts for military equipment production. Technology exports from the U.S. have fallen by almost 70 percent. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo reported that some equipment is “filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators.”

According to an intercepted telephone call between two Russians, the authorities in Ukraine’s occupied city of Donetsk are throwing thousands of their dead soldiers in a secret dump and then charging family and friends money to find them. The caller reluctantly explained that a soldier has been found after missing for a month after the dead man’s “sister went to Donetsk, and there, basically, roughly speaking, is a dump”:

“They just toss them there. And then later it’s easier to make as if they disappeared without a trace. It’s easier for them to pretend they are just missing, and that’s it…. There’s nowhere left to place them. It’s a dump. I’m telling you in plain Russian—a dump. It’s as tall as a person. [The site is] fenced off, sealed, they don’t let anyone in.”

Local authorities let the woman find her brother after she paid “good money” and then “they rearranged it until she found [the body.]” Al Jazeera released footage of refrigerated train cars holding unclaimed bodies of Russian troops killed in Ukraine. Putin won’t take the bodies back to Russia to hide the horrific death toll. Russians admit the deaths of only 1,300 military members in its “special military operation”; Ukraine’s estimates Russian death toll at about 26,000.

Ukraine will try a 21-year-old Russian soldier for war crimes, accusing him of killing an unarmed 62-year-old village resident in the northeastern region of Sumy. The man was pushing a bicycle along the road before he was shot in the head and “died on the spot a few dozen meters from his home.” The soldier said he was told his unit would have military exercises in Russia about 200 miles from Ukraine and was later captured in Ukraine when his column tried to take wounded soldiers back to Russia. Ukraine have opened over 5,000 cases connected to war crimes and crimes of aggression and filed charges against ten Russian soldiers in absentia for war crimes in Bucha after discovery of torture and mutilation.

Lithuania is the first country to declare Russia a terrorist country because of genocide. The UN reported accelerating numbers of Russian human trafficking, rape, and other sexual violence in Ukraine. Ukrainians forced into “filtration” camps in Russia endure strip searches, interrogations, and theft of their vital documents. Those suspected of Ukrainian sympathies are tortured and perhaps “disappeared.” On one day, May 13, 8,787 people deported from Ukraine including 1,106 children, according to Russian media.

Putin’s state TV has created more fantasies about the reasons for the invasion: “black magic” practiced by the troops, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s non-existent drug use. These add to the falsehood of Ukraine’s prevalence of neo-Nazis.

The Finnish Parliament’s defense committee recommended NATO membership, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin agree in an historical shift of security policy for the traditionally nonaligned Nordic country. NATO will likely pave the way to the year-long process. Russia threatens with “to retaliatory steps.” Neighboring Sweden is also expected to follow Finland’s lead. The expansions would double NATO’s land border with Russia, increasing the military alliance’s frontier to the far north and around the Baltic Sea.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may not block Finland and Sweden from NATO, but the Turkish authoritarian leader isn’t happy about the addition because “Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations.” All 30 NATO members must approve any additions. Erdoğan is actually upset about Scandinavian support for Kurdish militants who he calls terrorists and because he approved Greece before it took “an attitude against Turkey.”

The U.S. has delivered the first of 11 helicopters as part of its “lend-lease” agreement. The Mi-17 transport aircraft, once earmarked for Afghanistan, are primarily used for personnel transport but can be armed with rockets and cannons for use in close air support situations.

The food shortage in the world has become worse after India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer with about ten percent of the world’s reserves, banned its exports with a few exceptions. Both Ukraine and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat, but Black Sea fighting and blockades interrupted transport of any existing supplies. China’s drought caused poor harvests there, and the U.S. harvest is hurting from its heat wave and rising temperatures. Large port cities such as Odesa are storing about 25 million tons of staple grains such as corn, wheat, maize, and barley. Destined for the international market, the badly need food is stranded, and Russia has not reacted to pleas for lifting the blockade.

Not to be outdone by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who took a delegation of Democrats to meet in Ukraine with Zelensky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took his own three-Republican delegation for the same purpose. The trip was soon after one of McConnell’s GOP caucus, the other Kentucky senator Rand Paul, blocked the House bill to provide $40 billion in aid to the beleaguered nation. In 2019, Joe Scarborough labeled McConnell “Moscow Mitch.” The then-Senate Majority Leader blocked two bills to stop foreign influence in U.S. elections the day after special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Fox’s biggest voice, Tucker Carlson, U.S. aid to Ukraine is revenge for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. Ukrainians “are merely unfortunate pawns,” according to Carlson, and “we arm Ukraine so that we can punish Russia … for stealing Hillary Clinton’s coronation.” He asserted that the U.S. doesn’t want to save lives or protect Ukraine—just create regime change in Russia as “payback.”

Nick Cohen wrote about Carlson’s—and his employer Rupert Murdoch’s—support of Russian atrocities:

“Murdoch is boosting Russian morale and, conversely, undermining Ukrainian resolve by supplying a dictatorship with foreign validation. Do not underestimate its importance. Russians who suspect their TV anchors are state-sponsored bootlickers are more likely to believe foreign commentators who assure them that the lies they are hearing are true.”

Maria Alyokhina, lead singer for Russian feminist arts collective and punk rock band Pussy Riot, escaped from Russia after three years of house arrest for criticizing Putin. The group plans a 19-show European tour to raise money for Ukrainian war victims. Alyokhina took that step after Russia announced she would have to serve 21 days in a penal colony. She said that Russia, not Ukraine, needs de-Nazification.

May 13, 2022

5th Circuit Denies 1st Amendment Rights, January 6 Investigation Broadens

With no explanation, two Fifth Circuit judges, one nominated by Ronald Reagan and the other by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), supported a new Texas law to control private business. The dissenting judge, appointed by George W. Bush, is considered a “liberal” compared to the rabidly right circuit court. Republicans retaliated against their misguided liberal bias perception of ”Big Tech” by forcing large social media companies to disseminate objectionable speech such as dangerous misinformation, foreign propaganda, and hateful expression and permitting anyone to file lawsuits combatting content moderation. These corporations have lost their First Amendment rights although H.B. 20 sponsors claim the legislation is vital to keep “West Coast oligarchs” from silencing “conservative viewpoints and ideas.”

The GOP permitted “smaller” conservative platforms such as Parler and Gab to keep their First Amendment rights, but large companies are even blocked from posting warnings on their own websites for subjects with violence, vulgarity, disinformation, etc. Targeted companies must also submit a great deal of information to the state about algorithms, curation, and account suspension. Twice each year they must also provide a “transparency report” with every “action” taken against “content.” Anytime a company “removes content,” it must present a complex process of notice and appeal. Another provision prevents companies from blocking spam on emails, allowing users to daily collect $25,000 for impeding “the transmission of an unsolicited or commercial electronic mail message.”

YouTube will be forced to accept neo-Nazi and KKK videos promoting racism; Twitter will have to accept ISIS fighters’ terrorist advocacy; and Facebook must allow Russian propaganda about Ukraine. Only illegal incitement and “unlawful” speech can be suppressed, a very small percentage of hateful or violent expression because even intimidation and promotion of illegal conduct are allowed under the First Amendment.

Currently, large platforms use automated editorial tools to remove billions of posts and comments every year. They lack resources to review and resolve each appeal, especially within the 14-day limit. Companies can stop monitoring content, but all complaints of “illegal content” must be assessed within 48 hours. And the law prevents social media companies from providing services in Texas.

The ruling is completely against the First Amendment rights guaranteed to social media companies, according to the Supreme Court, especially Citizens United which gave rights to almost unlimited political donations because of free speech. “Editorial control and judgment” is speech shielded by the Constitution even if it discriminates against a specific group. While on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the government cannot “tell Twitter or YouTube what videos to post” or “tell Facebook or Google what content to favor.” Also, a government cannot force corporations to disclose information in an “unjustified or unduly burdensome” manner.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman blocked the Texas law because social media platforms are not “common carriers” like telephone companies and postal services that “merely facilitate the transmission of speech of others.” Common carriers have far greater regulation because they don’t engage in expression and may hold monopoly power. Those carriers, however, don’t exercise editorial control. Pitman followed U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling in Florida on a similar law. Hinkle also ruled that penalizing content moderation violates Section 230, the federal law limiting platforms’ liability over their content.

Judge Edith Jones declared that the plaintiffs, websites, “are not websites.” Although appointed 37 years ago, she’s only 73 and should know better—especially if she’s going to rule on the subject. Judge Andrew Oldham worried that overturning H.B. 20 “would allow phone companies to kick off users.” He formerly clerked for Samuel Alito.

One choice for the tech companies is leaving Texas–except the law prevents them from doing that.

The new Texas ruling immediately lifted an injunction against the law without ruling on its merits, meaning that it can go into effect until future action. Plaintiffs NetChoice and CCIA filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court and asked for amicus briefs. They argue that H.B. 20 is unconstitutional, compelling private businesses to carry speech they would otherwise remove. Chris Marchese, counsel for NetChoice, said:

“The First Amendment prohibits Texas from forcing online platforms to host and promote foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech, and spam. Left standing, Texas HB 20 will turn the First Amendment on its head—to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be ‘protecting’ it.”

Marchese added:

“Texas HB 20 strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content.”

The request is for the Supreme Court to reinstate the injunction on the law while appeals work through the full Fifth Circuit. Without that happening tech giants such as Meta, YouTube, and Twitter will suffer “irreparable harm.” Justice Clarence Thomas has already said that telephone companies are just like “digital platforms” because they both operate on physical wires. He and the two judges ruling against the tech companies ignore the fact that telephone calls are private; social media messages are designed to be communicated to the world.

The last time the Supreme Court was asked to reinstate an injunction, its “shadow docket” refused to do so, leaving the egregious anti-choice law in place while it is adjudicated. Justice Samuel Alito, liaison to the Fifth Circuit court, is responsible for deciding whether to unilaterally rule or refer the case to the full court.

The Texas case could now be decided on the court’s shadow docket, through which it issues orders without hearing arguments. The decision of whether to take up the case in this way is now up to Justice Samuel Alito, who is assigned to the Fifth Circuit. He will decide whether to rule unilaterally or refer the case to the full court. If the court does take up the case, the decision could come within days.

Did I mention that the law mandates all the social media companies continue to do business in Texas?

The House investigation committee into January 6 insurrection and overturning the election keeps chugging along, and emails from John Eastman, a pet DDT lawyer, reveals more of the corruption. He urged Pennsylvania GOP legislators to recount the state’s vote and trash tens of thousands of absentee ballots to show DDT won. By doing this, legislators would have “some cover” in replacing Biden’s electors with those supporting DDT and overturn the election results. According to his suggestion, GOP legislators could just express a concern with the state’s absentee ballot procedures and use historical data to “discount each candidates’ totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received.” That leaves them “with a significant lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote.” Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes.

The committee obtained Eastman’s emails from the University of Colorado where he was a visiting professor. On December 4, 2020, Eastman wrote Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond to change the language of his proposed resolution, hiding Eastman’s participation, and explained how to do. Later Eastman said that then-VP Mike Pence could merely refuse to count Biden’s electors on January 6, 2021. The House committee has been in court a number of times trying to get Eastman’s emails sent through another previous employer, Chapman University. 

The House investigative committee has subpoenaed five GOP members: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Jim Jordan (OH), Mo Brooks (AL), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (PA). Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said that they learned that these colleagues have relevant information on the January 6 attack “and the events leading up to it.” McCarthy had pulled all his nominations for the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected Jordan.

The DOJ has opened a grand jury investigation into the classified documents that DDT took to Mar-a-Lago when he moved out of the White House and subpoenaed the documents from the National Archives.

In Georgia, fake GOP electors are cooperating with the criminal probe as prosecutors investigate DDT’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Fulton County DA Fani Willis is attempting to determine their connection with a broader, illegal plot to pressure election officials and overturn Biden’s win of over 11,000 votes. DDT has made his loss the basis for GOP primaries there, especially for governor and state secretary of state, and the incumbents running in the election, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t give in to his begging.

After Vernon Jones, DDT’s endorsement for Georgia’s governor, quit, DDT moved to supporting David Perdue who lost his senate seat last year to Democrat Jon Ossoff. Perdue lost support of law enforcement when he denigrated the state troopers in an awkward attempt to blame Kemp, and DDT is growing disillusioned because Perdue came out 16 points below Kemp in the most recent poll. Thursday a judge dismissed Perdue’s lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results, because his evidence didn’t go beyond “speculation, conjecture, and paranoia.”

In a defiant action, DDT’s former VP, Mike Pence, will hold a rally with Kemp on May 23, the night before Georgia’s primary, with Kemp. Pence called his candidate, who refuses to support the lie of election fraud in a “stolen” election, “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.” Headed toward a presidential run, Pence also criticized DDT for admiring Russian President Vladimir Putin.

May 12, 2022

Baby Formula Shortage, Indian Board School Abuse, More

The news keeps rolling in.

First, a bit about the serious shortage of baby formula while the Supreme Court will mandate an increased “domestic supply of infants” (words from Justice Samuel Alito) by overturning Roe v. Wade. Brigid Kennedy cites two reasons: the problematic supply chain and the FDA closure of a major manufacturing plant from recalls of three powdered baby formula brands because of bacterial infections. At least four babies were hospitalized and two died after drinking the products from Abbott Laboratories. The FDA is working with manufacturers to increase production and prioritize product supply lines, but conservatives blame the FDA for not taking action. 

Kennedy skipped a third problem—hoarding. During the shortages in 2020, parents hoarded baby formula. When sufficient supply was manufactured, demand fell while parents used their hoarded product, and manufacturers cut back production. After the hoard disappeared, parents went back to buying baby formula, but the manufacturers weren’t ready for the demand. Canada isn’t a good source because the new U.S. North American trade agreement under Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) discourages formula imports from Canadians.

Conservatives want all the needs of people in the U.S. to be produced within its borders, and President Joe Biden tries to accommodate this demand and support U.S. manufacturing. Yet domestic producers such as Abbott, which had the bacterial infestation, hold buyers captive for prices and availability. Reducing trade with other countries then makes people in the U.S. more vulnerable to emergencies such as baby formula shortages. Narrow trade policies and pandemic hoarding have led to crises in availability of supplies.

Male conservatives are giving solutions after they finally figured out the baby formula shortage is a problem:

Just change brands: (a) that might also not be available; and (b) the host of side effects could cause health problems for an infant.

Use regular milk: cow’s milk before the 12-month mark can lead to serious issues—intestinal bleeding, kidney problems from too many proteins and minerals, and lack of nutrients for thriving infants.  

Shop on Amazon: not really a guarantee in a time of shortages, especially with suddenly canceled or pushed-back shipments, not to mention price-gouging.  

Congressional Republicans lambast Biden for doing nothing—although he is—while they sit back and taken no action. Oh yes, they are having a hearing on the baby formula shortage—in two weeks.

Abbott did well under DDT, able to make a $3 billion buyback of stocks. Last October, a whistleblower reported that its Michigan plant needed repair and claimed Abbott had lax cleaning procedures, falsified records, and hid information from FDA. The FDA issued a recall of Abbott’s product in February 2022. Abbott is one of three baby formula manufacturers largely controlling the industry in the U.S.

“Pro-life” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has an answer for obtaining more baby formula: he demands that Biden withhold it from any migrants in U.S. custody. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) agrees.

After over a half century, the U.S. reports on the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes for 150 years between 1819 to 1969 and put into Indian boarding schools. Developed by Thomas Jefferson, the racist violent system was intended to assimilate Native Americans and take their territories, according to the Interior Department. Over 500 of these children died in only 19 boarding schools after their kidnapping, and this report is only the first step for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Federal Indian Board School Initiative’s investigation.

Included in the report are recommendations for more investigation, additional funding, and a repository for information gathered by federal agencies and private institutions. Also requested is more funding for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the federal law that regulates the repatriation of Indigenous remains. Haaland also wants to use the report for ways to overcome the trauma of family separation such as mental health services and language revitalization. Recent studies show adults attending the schools when children suffer from much higher rates of physical health problems and passed these issues to their their children, who also are less healthy than the general population.

Never before has the federal government tried to research the tragedy in an attempt to acknowledge the horrors it inflicted on all these children and their families. It has a long way to go to record the deaths, the reasons for them, and the people responsible. Thus far, there is also no apology which tribal leaders have requested for decades, and the report doesn’t ensure any immediate steps to address the devastation. Haaland plans a year-long tour of Indian Country to hear survivors’ stories for a permanent oral history and connect them with support.

At least 408 of the boarding schools were located in 37 states, and the investigation located burial sites, some unmarked, at over 50 of them. School personnel renamed incarcerated students with English names, cut their hair, and denied them their language and cultural practices. Children as young as four years suffered corporal punishment, solitary confinement, flogging, withholding food, whipping, and slapping. According to the report, “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, disease, malnourishment, overcrowding, and lack of health care in Indian boarding schools are well-documented.” Children were also forced to do manual labor, sawing lumber, making shingles, digging wells and irrigation ditches, and sewing clothing.

At a press conference, Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, said that her grandparents were each eight years old when forced into a boarding school. Holding back tears, she continued:

“Many children like them never made it back to their homes. Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system.”

Indian boarding school historian and Comanche descendent Preston S. McBride said the nation doesn’t even know the number of Indigenous students attending these institutions—and certainly not how many died while kept there. He found over 1,000 deaths at the four former boarding schools he studied, and the number could be as high as 40,000 at the schools. Using a review of historical records, including letters from administrators, parents, and students, he said the reason for the deaths ranged from illness to abuse.  

Media across the nation are reporting the travesties of the Indian boarding schools in their own states as a simple internet search shows. Oklahoma had 79 of these facilities, more than any other state. Testimony from survivors from a House hearing on May 12.

In Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KA), a citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have introduced bills for a truth and reconciliation commission on Indian boarding schools, providing a framework for government response to tribal nations and citizens negatively affected by former federal policies. Boarding school survivors can submit testimony until May 26. The legislation would still permit religious organizations, responsible for about half the schools, to opt out. NAGPRA also covers only land under federal control or those receiving federal funding.

The leaks keep coming, and this one from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a classic. According to a recently discovered tape, Graham said after the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, that Democrat Joe Biden is “the best person” to lead the U.S. Graham was talking to Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, who taped it for their new book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future. To the question of whether Biden could bring the country together, Graham said, “Totally.” He added, “He’ll maybe be the best person to have. I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?” In other criticisms about DDT, Graham said:

“He plays the TV game and he went too far here. That rally didn’t help, talking about primarying [the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney]. He created a sense of revenge.”

Graham tried to weasel out of his comments by having his spokesperson blame Biden for his “far-left agenda as president.”

Russia’s congressional assets emerged from the House vote on assistance for Ukraine.  The split for the $40 billion bill to deliver aid to Ukraine came in at 368-57—with all the 57 Republicans. A list of them includes the usual suspects. Part of the funding comes in the form of presidential drawdown authority funding increased to $11 billion so that the U.S. can send military equipment and weapons from U.S. stocks. In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly blocked a vote on the House bill in an objection to unanimous consent. He demanded an inspector general to oversee the funding, requiring the bill to be sent back to the House, but refused to make an amendment for his requirement.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson also continues to be a Russian asset. Last night on his show he called on “some billionaire … to fund a primary challenge against every single one of those Republican senators standing by Mitch McConnell” because the House Minority Leader advocates support for Ukraine in the brutal Russian invasion.

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

Current

Commentary. Reflection. Judgment.

© blogfactory

Truth News

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: