Nel's New Day

March 1, 2021

2021 CPAC: From Idolatry to Nazism

This year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) had an extremely limited set of policies—easy to remember: the election was rigged, and liberals are trying to “cancel culture.” There were no surprises. The hate-filled, fear-mongering event loved Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), and the majority wants him elected president in 2024 for the “third time” after what they falsely maintained was a rigged election in 2020. DDT plans no new party; he assumes he’ll win with the current one. Basically, the attendees spent four days whining.

On Sunday, the last day of CPAC, the DDT-worshipping cult soaked up 90 minutes of their religious leader’s words after admiring his golden statue for four days and pledging their allegiance to them. Reminiscent of the Bible’s golden calf, DDT’s graven image was associated with Moses’ brother, Aaron, who gave into pressure from the Israelites who gave up hope that Moses would bring their Lord’s law down from Mt. Sinai. Aaron collected all the people’s jewelry and melted it down to create an idol to another god. Worshipping the golden calf, possibly the Canaanite fertility god Bael, is considered apostasy, a rejection of a once confessed faith. Throughout the entire conference, the faithful to DDT, once following white evangelical Protestantism (WEP), obediently supported his lies.

Evangelicals revere violence to obtain the ends and honored the people who physically attacked police officers in their way when breaching the U.S. Capitol. The uniform strategy for DDT’s GOP encourages violence against and exclusion of everyone who refuses to completely follow their position.

Created by artist Tommy Zegan, the golden DDT, 200 pounds and over six feet tall, was made in Mexico where Zegan is a resident. It perfectly represents the GOP and DDT’s adoration of wealth and their willingness to abandon all principles for its acquisition. evangelicals exchanged their belief in emulating Christ to adoring a serial sexual assaulter whose only goal was to make more money.

In the biblical story about the golden calf, Moses became so furious with the idol that he burned it, put its ashes into water, and made Israelites drink it. God (Yahweh) was so angry he was responsible for 3,000 men killed the day Moses returned. He “blotted” the others out of his book and sent them to die in the wilderness for idolatry.

Right Side Broadcasting, a conservative media outlet founded in 2015, was streaming CPAC when it used a disclaimer to cut away during a panel discussion presenting the lie that DDT won the 2020 election. A host told viewers:

“There’s a lot of sensitive topics being talked about right now. We want everyone to do their own research in regards to what they’re talking about in this discussion right now—anything with the election, anything like that. It’s important to do your own research.”

The host’s colleague echoed the sentiment because voting technology companies are suing people and media outlets for billions if they present debunked conspiracy theories as facts and falsely accuse these companies of stealing the election for Biden. A Right Side host interrupted MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell when he claimed, “You stub your toe, and they say ‘Oh, you’ve got COVID!” The host warned Lindell that YouTube could “shut down” the media platform “if we talk about vaccines.” Lindell had called the vaccine the “mark of the beast,” a sign for those who worship the antichrist.

Almost two dozen GOP representatives gave proxy votes against the stimulus bills using “the ongoing health emergency” as the excuse before they headed off to CPAC. At least ten of them were CPAC speakers. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) first spoke at CPAC’s extremist alternative America First Political Action Committee (AFPAC), also meeting in Florida. Gosar’s speech followed that of former Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stripped by Republicans of committee assignments for racist positions before he failed to be re-elected. AFPAC’s organizer, Nick Fuentes, has been banned from YouTube for his hate speech. After Gosar’s AFPAC speech, Fuentes blamed Black Lives Matter activists of wanting “a new racial caste system in this country, with Whites at the bottom.” Fuentes called the January 6 insurrection “awesome.” 

This proxy is Gosar’s third since January 21 after lambasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for permitting House members to vote by proxy because of health concerns. On February 2, Gosar deleted his tweet from 35 weeks earlier stating, “Pelosi’s ‘proxy voting’ scheme is shameful and constitutional.” At CPAC, Gosar denied he is a racist and tried to distance himself from AFPAC. 

CPAC speech samples:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) threw his constituents under the bus when he tried to overlook abandoning them by escaping to a warmer clime while they suffered and sometimes died from the failure of the Texas power grid:

“I got to say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancún—but it’s nice!”

His “cancel culture” speech ridiculed the left and the media, telling them to “lighten up” about issues such as wearing masks and protests of police brutality. He explained Houston had no protests because of “what the people of Texas think about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.” Another brunt of his ridicule was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for being afraid when a mob of 800 broke into the Capitol to kill congressional members.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who received DDT’s Medal of Freedom for leaking House committee secrets to the White House, claimed President Obama stole the election for Joe Biden in 2020 with a conspiracy to have absentee voting. Nunes omitted any mention of expanding mail-in vote because of the pandemic when he talked about the idea in “April or May.” [At that time, DDT discouraged people voting by mail.] Deroy Murdock, a conservative writer, blamed judges for the January 6 riots who rejected the frivolous lawsuits about the election.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), the man photographed with his fist raised in the air indicating solidarity with DDT’s mob readying to attack the U.S. Capitol, returned after the insurrection and voted to overturn the election on January 6. At CPAC, he accused politicians, historians, and academicians describing slavery and white supremacy in American history of hating the country and its culture. An editorial from his hometown newspaper didn’t let him get away with it. The Kansas City Star wrote: [find photo]

“We didn’t so much start with nothing as we stole what was here before we got here from Native Americans. And when we did end slavery, after a war in which the Confederacy—whose heroes Hawley defends—fought to preserve it, we were awfully late coming around. And then did everything possible, through Jim Crow laws, to keep things as inequitable as they had been. This doesn’t mean we hate America; it means we recognize reality, and see the need to learn from it.”

The editorial board also wrote about the GOP-maligned Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), saying Hawley and others’ cries for “America First” parallels Nazi sympathizers  in the 1930s. Cheney has been attacked for declaring that “it’s very important, especially for us as Republicans, to make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), another presidential wannabe who came in second only to DDT in CPAC’s presidential candidate straw vote, promised conservatives would never return to “the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said, “We represent the pro-Trump, America-first wing of the conservative movement.” Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) vowed to “never bend the knee to a politically correct mob,” meaning protesters and not insurrectionists. 

Speakers pledged to “fight,” but no one knew exactly for what.

DDT’s speech was chockfull of lies. A few oddities: 

“[The Supreme Court] didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision.”

“[The Republican Party] is becoming the party of love. Just look outside.”

One remarkable moment at CPAC came when a woman asked about fixing voting machines that “switched thousands and thousands of votes.” GOP attorney Charlie Spies told her, “There is just zero evidence that’s true.” The audience heckled him.

The conference with a theme of “America Uncanceled” that embraced racism did cancel one scheduled speaker, announcing his “reprehensible views [had] no home with our conference or our organization.” The person, Young Pharaoh, espouses anti-Semitic views popular with QAnon talking points. On his late night show, Stephen Colbert mockingly ridiculed CPAC for the cancelation, saying that “conservatives don’t want to be associated with anyone like that. It could sully the good name of the mob with aluminum bats trying to murder Mike Pence.”

One person not canceled was Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba, “the political head of a Japanese religious cult that promotes nationalism, xenophobia and the belief that its leader is the reincarnation of an alien from Venus who created life on earth millions of years ago,” according to David Gilbert. As leader of Happy Science, Aeba believes he is the Messiah and sells “miracle cures” for COVID-19. Like Scientology, the cult is focused on making money; “cures” can cost up to $400. The group’s aim, however, is political, worldwide, with CPAC part of its method to achieve its goal.

CPAC’s stage design matches its neo-Nazi inclination with a depiction of the Norse othala, or odal, rune used by Nazis during World War II adopted to “reconstruct a mythic ‘Aryan’ past,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. The rune also appeared at the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville (VA) that include anti-Semitic chants.

February 28, 2021

DDT Can’t Escape His History

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has left the White House and denied access to his favorite communication device, Twitter, but investigations into events during his term in the White House continues to be exposed.  

A recently released report explains how Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was involved in how Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, was coerced into the Saudi embassy in Turkey for the purpose of torturing him before his murder and dismemberment. DDT consistently covered up MBS’s involvement in the crime for a number of personal reasons. MBS was also a personal friend of DDT’s his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The released intelligence report now fully proves DDT knew about MBS’ involvement in the killing since its occurrence in October 2018 despite his repeated denials.

DDT had been enamored with Saudi Arabia and MBS since his inauguration. His journey to the country was his first foreign trip after he moved into the White House. The media fully covered the visit where he tried to participate in the sword dance and touched  the glowing “orb” along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. According to MBS, a new book by New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, DDT was given the orb, but people were afraid the photos people took with it would cause a scandal. Hubbard wrote, “The orb was hidden away in embassy storage.”

DDT’s not-so-secret weapon to derail mail-in voting, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has reappeared in a congressional hearing. In DeJoy’s first few weeks last June, he cut back workers, overtime, and equipment to drastically slow down first-class mail delivery so much that Congress tried to block him. Despite lost equipment from his beginning, most of the ballots managed to get delivered on time, thanks to the efforts of Democratic legislators. DeJoy has remained in his position because the DDT-appointed board for the postal service is leaving him there. During his hearing last Wednesday, DeJoy showed a high degree of arrogance. When Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked him how long he planned to remain as postmaster general, he responded, “Long time. Get used to me.”

In the hearing, DeJoy also promised greater delays in service along with higher prices, including no longer having two-day delivery for first-class mail and limit air transport for it. DeJoy said, “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” He didn’t address the fact that some first-class mail isn’t delivered for weeks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined other Republicans in accusing Democrats of conspiracy theories to create “chaos and confusion” in the information about delayed mail delivery. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) answered Jordan:

“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did.”

During the hearing, President Joe Biden announced his decision to fill the three vacancies on the nine-member USPS board with these nominees: Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Amber McReynolds, chief executive officer of Vote at Homes supporting mail-voting in the 2020 election; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general on Biden’s transition team. Stroman quit last year because of DeJoy’s position on delaying the mail. Two of the appointments are Democrats; McReynolds is unaffiliated. She was Denver’s director of elections from 2011 to 2018 where she implemented a complete vote-by-mail elections system for the city. Appointments include two men of color and a woman.

The current DDT-appointed chair, DDT-supporter Ron Bloom, can also be replaced because he took the place of another board member whose term ended in December 2020. All the Republican members on the board are friends of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, like DeJoy, have donated large sums to both the GOP and DDT. The entire board is composed of wealthy white men with limited postal service

Last week’s hearings included an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the House Appropriations Committee. Key moments:

Intelligence reported to the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters about an attack on January 5, but the department’s leadership wasn’t notified, according to former Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the insurrection. The FBI sent an email the night before the attack about an eminent attack, but Washington’s acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee said a late-night evening email was not sufficient to highlight the threat.

The insurrection was coordinated, with prepared people bringing equipment such as climbing gear, explosives, chemical spray, etc. They used hand signals and radio communications when they breached the building. Some rioters claimed they were caught up in the spirit of the event, but members of far-right extremist groups planned the attack for weeks and months, judging by the criminal charges against them. Even DDT’s lawyers claimed the attack was pre-planned during the impeachment trial.

Pentagon officials were either unable or unwilling to rapidly sent National Guard troops, as evidenced by their delay after desperate pleas for help.

Sund said he asked the two former congressional sergeants of arms for an emergency declaration to call in the National Guard, but neither one recalled the request. According to Sund, Paul Irving said he “was concerned about the ‘optics’ and didn’t feel the intelligence supported it.” Irving denied saying that and couldn’t remember talking to Sund although Sund said he made the request at 1:09 pm on January 6.

Phone records prove Irving ignored Sund’s pleas for help, according to Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, who said Sund called Irving at 12:58 pm to request the National Guard as rioters breached the building. Lawmakers were forced into hiding. Sund called Irving another four times until 1:45 pm.

The continued presence of law enforcement and a fence remains, according to Pittman because militia groups announced their intention to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when Biden addresses the Congress.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), responsible in the past for putting Russian disinformation into the Senate record, read  a statement from an observer standing out by the fence that the violence came only after police provoked the protesters and “fake Trump protesters” were at fault. Before the hearing he had said there was no armed insurrection on January 6.

DDT’s financial records including his tax returns for eight years—reportedly millions of pages—are now with Cy Vance, Manhattan’s district attorney, for review after the U.S. Supreme Court refused DDT’s appeal to block the subpoena. The question now is whether DDT can slow the process long enough to get past the statute of limitations, six years in New York. State law, however, now excludes the time when a person charged with a state crime while acting as president, but the question is whether this exclusion is also for criminal conduct predating the law’s passage. If the law holds up, the time for limitations begins on January 20, 2021. Vance also has only ten months left in his current term and doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, Vance has enlisted outside experts, including a forensic consulting firm, to examine the documents. The accounting records can determine fraud by showing how tax figures were calculated as were done in the Paul Manafort investigation. Manafort was sentenced to over seven years in prison before DDT pardoned him in December. Tax returns can also determine whether other financial records are false.

Despite DDT’s pardon for Steve Bannon, DDT’s former main strategist, DOJ prosecutors won’t dismiss the indictment against him as a matter of record. Bannon allegedly siphoned off over $1 million from GoFundMe donations for building part of DDT’s southern wall. According to Nixon v. United State, a pardon does not erase the grand jury finding probable cause for Bannon’s committing the indictment’s offenses. The prosecutors’ letter explained:

“Were the Court to dismiss the Indictment against Bannon, it could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”

Vance’s office has subpoenaed Wells Fargo and GoFundMe for financial records tied to Bannon’s crowd-funding effort. Bannon may face state criminal charges which cannot be pardoned by a president.

DDT may have a parallel with the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (NJ) which was leveled by an implosion on February 17, 2021. People paid $10 for watching it in person, and a front-row seat cost $575. The building was the first of DDT’s casinos going bankrupt with unpaid contractors and suppliers. During his campaign he bragged about how much money he made in Atlantic City where he put personal debts on the casinos, leaving debts to investors. The eyesore was destroyed as an “imminent hazard” because of falling debris and metal.

February 27, 2021

Biden, Democratic Congress Moving Rapidly Forward

The year 2021 marks the 20th year of the U.S. preemptive war in the Middle East, starting with George W. Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. President Joe Biden delivered the latest bombings, seven against two Iran-backed militias smuggling weapons in Syria. The airstrikes hit buildings on a border crossing with Iraq. Iranian state television reported 17 fatalities, but Biden had no exact number. Biden said he intended to “send a message” about the militias’ aggressive actions in Iraq against the U.S. including last week’s rocket attack. Experts have differed on the appropriateness of Biden’s actions, but Biden hopes to keep the path open for renewing an anti-nuclear agreement in Iran.

Years after U.S. intelligence prepared a report on the 2018 torturing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the new Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has declassified and released the document. According to the report, available here:

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi… The Crown Prince has absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

Although Congress mandated the information be made public, former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had covered up for MBS because of his friendship with Saudi Arabia and took no action about the vicious assault.

On the day before the report’s release, Biden called the 85-year-old Saudi king, instead of his son MBS, the crown prince and heir apparent, who has been giving orders. Biden may have had trouble reaching the king: sources say, “MBS has controlled his father’s switchboard.” The conversation skipped the report, but Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and discussed working on “mutual issues of concern.” Biden has eliminated U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The U.S. does not plan to charge MBS of any crimes, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the “Khashoggi Ban,” restricting visas for people acting on behalf of foreign governments directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.” The ban can also cover family members and will be applied immediately to 76 Saudis “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.” The Treasury Department also sanctioned a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, and the crown prince’s personal protective detail, the Rapid Intervention Force (aka the “Tiger Squad”). Blinken echoed Biden’s earlier statement that the U.S. wishes to “recalibrate” the relationship with Saudi Arabia “to be more in line with our interests and our values.”

The Treasury Department also replaced sanctions on Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler for corruption in Africa after DDT rolled them with no explanation or announcement during his last few days in the White House. Gertler is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden also plans sanctions and other punishments for Russia for the SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign, interfering in elections, and the Kremlin’s use of a banned chemical weapon against anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny before jailing him.

On Thursday, three Republicans supported the Democratic representatives in a 224-206 vote to expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include specific protections for LGBTQ people. The Republicans voting for the bill are John Katko (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), and Tom Reed (NY); the other Republican support discrimination in the name of religious freedom. The legislation passed the House almost two years ago, but then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignored it. McConnell has become the minority leader, and the Democrats will likely address the House bill.

Early Saturday morning, the House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by 219-212 with opposition from all Republicans and two Democrats, Kurt Schrader (OR) and Jared Golden (ME).  Although the Senate parliamentarian refuses to allow the hourly $15 minimum wage in the reconciliation bill permitting a 50-50 vote in the chamber without a filibuster, the House included it in their bill.

As usual with a Democratic president, Republicans are arguing for austerity after driving up the national debt with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Another false argument is that only a small portion of the $1.9 trillion goes to combating the virus, “actually used to put shots in people’s arms,” according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). He ignores the funding for stimulus checks, school openings, unemployment payments, assistance for small businesses, and other types of expenditures the GOP legislators willingly passed while DDT was in the White House.

Biden insisted on changes in the bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans after they went to big businesses in the first bill instead of the mandated small business. He wants to guarantee loans to businesses with under 20 employees and restricts applications from these businesses for 14 days so that lenders can prioritize those businesses. Other changes open up loans to people with non-fraud felony convictions and to non-citizen business owners. In the last round, a large number of loans were flagged for potential fraud. A new mandate tackling “waste, fraud, and abuse across all federal programs” requires approval of PPP loans “contingent on passing [Small Business Association] fraud checks, Treasury’s Do Not Pay database, and public records.”

A proposed bill for a special commission probing the January 6 attack on the Capitol, such as the one which investigated the 9/11 attacks, is struggling because of GOP opposition. Objections started when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wanted a majority of Democrats on the commission. If Republicans approached the situation with a lack of bias, the equality might have worked. Yet Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) believes not only that DDT had nothing to do with the insurrection but also that it was a friendly group of people who were coming into the Capitol until the Capitol Police provoked them. Earlier, he had falsely asserted the seditionists were all on the left side, that all of them were not DDT’s supporters. Some GOP legislators, such as Steve Scalise (LA), second in House minority command, still maintain Biden is in the White House illegally and should be removed.

In addition, almost 150 GOP legislators of the 261 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the legal votes from the electoral college after the far-right attack on the Capitol to stop the vote—almost 40 percent of the number of Republicans in Congress. All those Republicans have a conflict of interest to be on a commission to investigate the insurrection and would likely sabotage its investigation and reporting.

On the Senate side, Republican Mitch McConnell insists the commission also investigate all Black Lives Matter protests. If not that, then it should concentrate only on Capitol security failures, avoiding any white supremacy terrorism issues. The approaches would be like telling the 9/11 Commission to focus only on planes hitting the World Trade towers without reviewing radical Islamist terrorism or focus on all international violence. The mandate of the 9/11 Commission was to examine “the facts and circumstances relating to the 9/11 terrorist attack . . . including those relating to intelligence agencies; law enforcement agencies; diplomacy; immigration, nonimmigrant visas, and border control; the flow of assets to terrorist organizations; commercial aviation; the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation; and other areas determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry.”

After DDT’s administration ignored reunification of families who they separated at the southern border, Biden appointed a task force to find the parents of 611 children. In less than a month, 105 children have been returned to their families, and the group is working to reunify the others.

Biden revoked the following presidential orders and memoranda signed by DDT:

  • Cutting funding from cities DDT declared as “anarchist” havens.
  • Mandating all new federal buildings be designed in classical aesthetic.
  • Limiting the ability of federal agency employees to make regulatory decisions.
  • Calling for agency heads to review welfare programs and strengthen work requirements for some recipients.

After a month in the White House, Biden has an overall job approval rating of 56 percent with 54 percent for his handling the economy and 56 percent for foreign affairs. His best rating is 67 percent approval in handling the coronavirus. That rating might go up with the FDA approval of a third vaccine, the one-shot vaccination from Johnson & Johnson. In DDT’s last six weeks, people received 12 million vaccinations. Biden promised 100 million in the first 100 days: in his first five weeks, people have gotten 58 million, 1.6 million a day and rising.

On February 26, 2021, the number of daily U.S. infections is down (80,625), but the daily number of deaths is averaging above 2,000—the most recent number 2,216. Total U.S. infections – 29,136,912; deaths – 523,082.      

February 23, 2021

DDT’s Lawsuits ‘the Rest of My Life’

With Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) out of Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court may stay out of his legal messes—at least for now. On Monday, the justices’ refused to block a lower court giving DDT’s financial records and tax returns, both personal and corporate, to New York City prosecutors. The grand jury will have eight years of tax returns, 2011-2018, for a grand jury investigation, and last July, the high court ruled 7-2 against DDT’s claim he was immune from prosecution while still in the Oval Office. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority:

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”

This decision not to hear the appeals court case frees Manhattan DA Cy Vance to continue his criminal probe. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former personal lawyer, has claimed the Trump Organization committed insurance fraud, avoided taxes, and jacked up loan collateral by manipulating real estate valuations. New York state AG Letitia James is pursuing the same information for a civil probe. DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and his bank, Deutsche Bank, said in the past they will release the information if subpoenaed.

Vance recently issued another dozen subpoenas for the investigation, including one for Ladder Capital Finance, one of DDT’s major creditors for commercial real estate holdings. DDT’s $160 million interest-only mortgage with Ladder on Trump Tower comes due in 18 months.  

Taking part in the inquiry is Mark Pomerantz, who both prosecuted and defended mob figures.

In another New York case, Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed documents from an engineer working on the Trump-owned 200-acre Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County. In the past decade, DDT’s valuation of the property, purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million, ranged from $25 million to $291 million. In 2014, he deducted $2.2 million in taxes by claiming it as an investment property and then claimed a $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement for 2015, not “reflected on applicable tax returns.” DDT tried to build a golf course on the property, but quit after local opposition, and then considered a development with 15 mansions.

DDT’s returns may not be public unless they lead to criminal charges. In that case, the documents could be evidence, allowing them to be public. If those charges lead to conviction, DDT can’t escape it with a pardon, even a secret blanket one he might have made before he left the Oval Office, because it’s a state, not a federal, charge.

In another rejection of DDT, SCOTUS refused to consider cases out of Pennsylvania to block a deadline for absentee ballots three days after Election Day which were postmarked by Election Day in cases from a legislator and from DDT to block Pennsylvania’s certification of election results. The disposition of absentee ballots either way would not have affected President Joe Biden’s win in the state.

Thanks to Fulton County (GA) DA Fani Willis, DDT may also face RICO, an anti-racketeering law to prosecute the mob, in trying to change Georgia’s majority to favor himself. Willis successfully used the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in a case against Atlanta teachers accused of organized cheating by falsifying student standardized scores to improve schools’ standing. Former Georgia public defender Ryan Locke said RICO is used “in a case where someone commits a number of crimes that all lead toward one common corrupt aim.” RICO can be used for using a legal entity, i.e., a government agency or public office, to break the law.

More fallout has come from 60+ frivolous lawsuits claiming, with no evidence, fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Both public officials and private companies want to hold DDT and his GQP (Grand QAnon Party) allies accountable for the rhetoric causing insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Federal rules prohibit lawyer participation in frivolous suits or use of litigation for such improper purposes as to delay or harass. Laws prevent attorneys from lying in court. Judicial sanctions to discourage bad practices could be monetary penalties or references to disciplinary action.

Michigan and Detroit asked a federal judge to sanction attorneys filing lawsuits falsely alleging fraud in the election. Al Schmidt, GOP Philadelphia City Commissioner facing threats with falsehoods about fraud in vote counting, asks for reconciliation. “Moving on isn’t enough,” he said. Last Friday, a federal judge in D.C. referred a lawyer for possible disciplinary action.

In Wisconsin, lawyers representing the state council of the Service Employees International Union requested a criminal investigation about ten false Wisconsin electors who secretly met at the state Capitol in an attempt to appoint themselves electoral voters for DDT. On the same day Wisconsin convened electoral representatives representing the state’s voters, the illegitimate group signed fake certificates of election with DDT’s name and sent them to federal and state officials. The six laws possibly broken include forgery and falsely assuming the role of public officer.

In New York, Stephen Gillers, a NYU law school professor, helped draft a complaint to investigate DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s conduct and possibly revoke his license to practice law in the state. State rules prohibit lawyers from “conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” A court can suspend the lawyer’s license on an interim basis while the disciplinary process is being resolved, sometimes three to four years.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is suing DDT, Giuliani, and members of two extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, on the basis of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan law banning violent interference in congressional duties. His representation, NAACP, said other congressional members may join.

Two election technology companies filed multibillion-dollar defamation suits against DDT’s allies for telling lies about the software and equipment. Dominion Voting Systems, with $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against lawyers Giuliani and Sidney Powell, has a new $1.3 billion suit against the MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Dominion claims Powell has been evading service of its suit. Smartmatic’s lawsuits have forced conservative media into reversing its lies.

While DDT prepares for his first speech since leaving Washington for Mar-a-Lago, possibly to announce his presidential candidacy in 2024, he fears he will be sued for the rest of his life—sort of like his life before the White House. A few non-political cases:

Former journalist E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit is still active. After the statute of limitations for rape expired, she is suing DDT for defamation because he said she lied about a rape in a New York department store. Former AG Bill Barr tried to move the case from state to federal court and assign DOJ lawyers to defend DDT, but the new administration dropped that effort.

A one-time contestant on DDT’s former TV reality show The Apprentice, Summer Zervos, has requested a continuation of her suit now that DDT, presently a private citizen, no longer has protection from a deposition regarding alleged sexual assault.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, once a close friend of DDT who advised him for his campaign, is considering a lawsuit because DDT repeated—and falsely—called Scarborough a murderer.

DDT may be in financial trouble despite grifting throughout four years in the White House. Vornado Realty Trust, owning 70 percent of two first-class commercial buildings in New York and San Francisco, may force DDT to sell his 30 percent stake at a discount. With control over DDT’s cash flow, Vornado can withhold money from DDT, who desperately needs the funds to pay for his loan. After a decade, DDT has owned a share worth $784 million with a $285 million share of the debt. Almost $400 million in DDT’s debt partially backed by Trump International Hotel (Washington, D.C.) and the Trump National Doral Golf Resort (Miami) comes due in 2023. Without money to maintain the facilities in good shape, he loses the ability to attract future business.

Since DDT left the White House, members are leaving Mar-a-Lago because of bad food and a depressing atmosphere, lacking even entertainment. Calling DDT an “employee,” however, Palm Beach allows DDT to live at Mar-a-Lago, despite his agreement in 1993 to not stay there for longer than seven days at a time and only three times a year. Neighbors still oppose his residence there.

DDT lost over $120 million in revenue last year, according to his financial disclosure forms, the worst losses at his D.C. hotel, down over 60 percent, and Doral Resort, dropping 44 percent. Revenue amounts for 47 companies declined over 35 percent, and banks and law firms are cutting ties with DDT’s businesses. Gone are three of four banks with DDT’s largest deposits. Even a small event like the triathlon at DDT’s golf course outside Charlotte canceled when the January 6 Capitol attack caused sponsors and vendors to drop out. The event’s founder had canceled another event almost four years after DDT’s comment about “very fine people” among white supremacists,  but he came back to lose again.

And DDT’s supporters think he’s a good businessman.

February 21, 2021

GOP Plans ‘Rigging and Stealing’ Future Elections

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 11:50 PM

Alice O’Lenick, a GOP representative on the Gwinnett County (GA) election board, wants her colleagues in the area of almost 1 million population to lobby the state for changes for the elections. Her goals in the changes, including limits on absentee voting and elimination of ballot drop boxes, is to “have a shot at winning.” Georgia’s no-excuse absentee voting law was passed over a decade ago; Republicans want to change the law only after Democrats won the presidency and two U.S. senators in the most recent election.

As Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) continues to claim the election was rigged and he’s the real president, GOP lawmakers in 33 states have proposed over 165 bills that would restrict voting. Four times as many bills were introduced this year as the same time last year. These legislators have joined GOP secretaries of state in a commission to examine elections laws amid the push to block people voting against Republicans.

Republicans know they can win only by disenfranchising anyone who votes against the GQP (Grand QAnon Party). In the past, they purged voters, cut back on early voting including on Sundays, restricted voter registration—actions that will be accepted by many judges. A few years ago, states began to cut back democracy by shrinking people’s ability to pass ballot initiatives, those on the ballot through voters’ signatures:

Proposed state bills by Republican legislators:

Arizona: increase voting approval of initiatives from a majority to 60 percent and a two-thirds supermajority for tax increases. It might prevent the passage of such initiatives as automatic and same-day voter registration.

Florida: a constitutional amendment increasing passage of initiatives to two-thirds approval. The state had increased the approval requirement from majority to three-fifths in 2006 after a successful vote enfranchised people no longer in prison.

Missouri: constitutional amendments to vastly increase the required number of signatures for putting initiatives onto the ballot by spreading them over multiple districts and mandate legislative approval for any initiative on a ballot; ban on judges to change the summary for ballot measures. Republicans are taking this action following a reform of legislative redistricting and new ethics restrictions on state legislators which they repealed last year.

Montana: a constitutional amendment to gerrymander the state supreme Court which could be on the 2022 ballot. The move retaliated against the state courts striking down the GOP’s 2018 congressional gerrymandering and protecting voting rights in 2020.

Pennsylvania: a constitutional amendment to gerrymander its appellate courts, too late for the May primary ballot but in time for the November election. The move retaliated against the state courts striking down the GOP’s 2018 congressional gerrymandering and protecting voting rights in 2020.

More bills to suppress voting:

Arizona: The Brennan Center for Justice called Arizona the nation’s leader in “proposed voter suppression legislation in 2021.” Among their 40 GOP bills is one that would permit the state legislator to overturn the popular vote for president by naming the electoral college representatives who disagree with the vote majority. A bill purging about 200,000 voters from the early voting list was blocked when one GOP senator sided with Democrats to stop it.

Florida: Republicans in a Senate committee passed a bill to end the system of allowing people to request absentee ballots for two election cycles, instead mandating applications for every cycle and canceling requests from 2020 for 2022. State absentee voters rose in 2020 to 2.1 million from 1.5 million.

Georgia: Georgia Republicans advanced a record number of voting restrictions: end no-excuse absentee voting for everyone under 75; require voter ID for absentee voting; restrict use of mobile early voting buses; block anyone from giving food or water to people standing in the long lines at polls; give the GOP-run secretary of state’s office more power to take over the operations of county election offices. The hearing for a sweeping bill adopting many more voting restrictions had almost no advance notices:

  • Limit the availability of absentee ballot drop boxes;
  • Disqualify votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county;
  • Outright ban for Sunday early voting, disproportionately used by Black voters and churches via “souls to the polls” voter drives after Sunday services;
  • Cut the number of remaining early voting hours with the excuse of county standardization;
  • Shorten the absentee voting period by barring ballots from being sent out more than four weeks before Election Day;
  • Ban election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters although GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did so in the 2020 primary; and
  • Prohibit private organizations from donating funds to help officials administer elections after multiple groups donated tens of millions to do so in 2020.

Indiana: A GOP bill passed in committee strips the governor and state Election Commission of the power to implement emergency election changes after they temporarily expanded last year’s voting access. The power would be moved to the Republican state legislature.

Iowa: Bills passed in GOP committee:

  • Reduce the period for early and mail voting from 29 days to 18;
  • Limit counties to one mail ballot drop box regardless of population size;
  • Remove counties’ ability to set up satellite early voting locations, requiring voters to request them;
  • Bar counties from sending absentee ballot request forms to voters, even if voters ask for one, meaning those who lack transportation or a printer have trouble getting an application;
  • Ban third parties from collecting and submitting mail ballots on a voter’s behalf; and
  • Prevent political parties and other get-out-the-vote groups from pre-filling any portion of absentee ballot request forms on behalf of voters.

Kansas: Republican legislators introduced a bill making it a felony for anyone other than a family member or caregiver to collect and submit an absentee ballot on behalf of another voter.

North Dakota: Republican legislators withdrew a bill requiring voters to be a resident of their jurisdiction for a full year, instead of the current 30-day residency requirement, which would have disenfranchised college students, active-duty military members, and new residents who intend to remain in the state long-term.

While Republicans try to block voting for large swaths of the population, Democrats are working to expand voting rights. Lawmakers in 37 states introduced 541 bills to expand mail-in voting, extend early voting, promote voter registration, and restore the right to vote for those who have lost it. At the national level, the first measure Democrats introduced into Congress this year was the “For the People Act,” which embraces the policies in the state bills and also reforms campaign financing, requires candidates to disclose the previous ten years of their tax returns, and ends gerrymandering. Some of the provisions in a 2019 bill passing the House:

  • Require early voting and same-day registration for federal elections;
  • Require states to automatically register voters who interact with certain state agencies and place limits on how aggressively states can remove voters from the rolls;
  • Require states to set up independent commissions to draw congressional districts, reducing the potential for excessive partisan gerrymandering; and
  • Restore the provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring places with a history with voting discrimination to pre-clear voting changes before they go into effect.

States working for expansions of voter rights:

California: passed automatically mailing a ballot to all active registered voters for elections.

Iowa: passed a constitutional amendment codifying Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ 2020 executive order automatically restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions who have completely served their sentences, with the exception of those convicted of homicide offenses.

New Mexico: passed a bill in the House to end felony disenfranchisement for people on parole or probation.

New York: consider a bill automatically restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions upon release from prison.

Virginia: passed a state-level equivalent of the federal Voting Rights Act, banning voting rules discriminating against voters based on race or language group. Localities attempting to make voting changes affecting protected racial or language groups must submit the proposed changes for public comment for a period of at least 30 days or seek the state attorney general’s approval to make alterations on shorter notice. Another bill would move municipal elections held in the spring to November, with its higher turnout.

The GOP excuse for suppressing voter rights comes from their assertion of election fraud, “information warfare” in “a classic Russian-style disinformation campaign,” according to Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institute. Through the “firehose of falsehoods,” incessant lying about a rigged and stolen election, the GOP joins DDT in “manipulating and organizing the social environment and the media environment to confuse and discombobulate enemies, to isolate them, to demoralize them so they don’t know what’s true or false anymore, they get very frustrated. In a fire hose falsehood campaign, it’s not about having one idea and pumping it out consistently. It’s about throwing spaghetti against the wall. It’s anything and everything. It can be wild. It can be random. It’s to create confusion and epistemic chaos. That’s what we are seeing. That’s very hard for democracies to deal with it.”

And that’s the strategy for Republicans rigging and stealing elections through voter suppression.

GQP ‘Spiritual Leader’ Demands Followers “Kiss the Ring’

President Joe Biden is making decisions for the United States, but Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), declaring on conservative media that the presidential election was stolen from him, waits at Mar-a-Lago for followers to come pay obeisance to him.

Sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who calls DDT almost every day, is again going to Mar-a-Lago to golf—and get him to build up the Republican party, now badly split after the impeachment and House Minority Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) attack on DDT. Last Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) visited DDT. Brad Parscale, fired from being campaign manager and responsible for questionable expenditures of millions of campaign dollars, went to Mar-a-Lago for a long meeting. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) held a fundraiser on Saturday night.

Absent from DDT’s side for a few years, Steve Bannon is back. During the first few years of DDT in the White House, Bannon played him like a fiddle to accomplish his ends but got forced out. Once gone, Bannon stole almost a million dollars from a GoFundMe website ostensibly to build a tiny portion of DDT’s southern border wall, but DDT pardoned him for that offense shortly before Biden was inaugurated.

Now Bannon has another plan: run DDT for the House, become the Speaker because he believes Congress will turn Republican, and impeach Biden. His accusation is that Biden “stole” the election.

Top DDTers also have other plans such as making DDT’s first White House press secretary Reince Priebus the Wisconsin governor although Tony Evers has the position for another three years. In Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey isn’t running in 2022, and the Republican party has its eye on a QAnon candidate. Toomey voted for DDT’s conviction in the impeachment, and furious Republicans announced they don’t elect people “to do the right thing.” The current criterion is to follow whatever corruption DDT wants. Bannon said, “Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA.”

Flush with what DDT sees as a strong following, he plans to put his extremist loyalists into primaries. They may win against other Republicans, but moderate Republicans and independents could elect Democrats. For example, Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward might lose a general election against incumbent Mark Kelly in 2022 for supporting conspiracy theories and leading her party in censuring Cindy McCain, former Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) wife, for supporting Biden. In Georgia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an outspoken QAnon conspiracy theorist removed from her committee assignments, could run against former Sen. David Perdue in the primary, reducing the possibility of the Republicans defeating Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock. DDT has clashed with Republicans who might defeat Democrats for Congress, like former Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire.

The question is how long DDT will trust Bannon. Touting his new memoir Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes in an interview, former 60 Minutes producer Ira Rosen talked about Bannon’s attempt to remove DDT from the White House by using the 25th Amendment because of DDT’s early stage dementia. Bannon told DDT’s major rightwing donor Rebekah Mercer about his concerns, including DDT’s repetition of the same stories, and quoted a David Brooks column from October 2017:  

“And the polls show that if you want to win a Republican primary these days, you have to embrace the Trump narrative…  The Republican senators greeted Trump on Capitol Hill and saw a president so repetitive and rambling, some thought he might be suffering from early Alzheimer’s. But they know which way the wind is blowing. They gave him a standing ovation.”

One sycophant couldn’t go to Mar-a-Lago. Rush Limbaugh died February 17, 2021, leaving 15 million listeners without his consistent diet of racial prejudice, misogyny, hate, and lies.

DDT also lost “my Kevin,” as he called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), after McCarthy told people about his frantic January 6 telephone call for help when DDT refused to send assistance for congressional members under attack in the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy tried to cover up the problem, but DDT found him lacking in deferential attitude. Following that event, DDT lambasted McCarthy for not removing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from House leadership because she voted for DDT’s impeachment. Fox reports DDT looks at McCarthy “with disdain.”

McCarthy tried to crawl back into DDT’s favor in late January at a trip to Mar-a-Lago after he agreed DDT “bears responsibility” for the riot. Aides reported the meeting was “good and cordial,” and McCarthy he does not “believe he provoked [the attack].” DDT, however, never forgives a slight. 

Next weekend, DDT will collect the faithful at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando (FL). Usually located in Washington, CPAC chose the new venue because of its lax coronavirus guidelines producing its third-highest COVID-19 death toll last week. Sponsors include Fox, Washington Times, Epoch Times, Heritage Foundation, Turning Point USA, and conservative video platform Rumble. The senators typically voting against Biden’s appointees—Martha Blackburn (TN), Tom Cotton (AR), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), James Lankford (OK), and Rick Scott (FL)—will attend along with loyalist House members Mo Brooks (AL), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Jim Jordan (OH), Devin Nunes (CA), and Steve Scalise (LA). Deposed people such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, former DOJ AG Matt Whitaker, former DDT lawyer Pam Bondi, and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be there. It’s a place for the ambitious to aim at a better job, perhaps president, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

One person missing from the event is former VP Mike Pence. Sources have said Pence will stay out of the public for the rest of the year after DDT looked willing to kill Pence at the January 6 insurrection. Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short said he and Pence now accept Biden as “the duly elected president of the United States.” Although absent from DDT’s farewell, Pence attended Biden’s inauguration.

Others may not actually show up, and sponsors are insecure because of uncertain guest bookings. The theme “America Uncanceled” is about “cancel culture,” and organizers sent a letter to Politico accused it of this practice, a form of not providing support, after journalists asked questions about the event. Organizers whined about attempts to “cancel our votes, our voices, and our values” while trying to erase all non-white people in the U.S. DDT’s repetition about a rigged election in his CPAC speech as well as his smears of Biden’s actions will be an example of “cancel culture.”

Opposing DDT’s control of the GOP, House Minority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignores DDT, especially after McConnell’s vitriolic attack against DDT following McConnell’s vote against an impeachment conviction based on a mythical technicality. The speech scorched DDT about his faults, how he should have been convicted and how he can be criminally indicted. Three days later, DDT’s rebuttal rained lies and blistering attacks on the man who forced over 200 highly conservative and largely incompetent judges onto federal benches. A part of DDT’s statement:

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

Advisers talked DDT out of stating McConnell had too many chins and not enough smarts, according to one source.

Because a large QAnon following thinks DDT will be inaugurated on March 4, 2021, 5,000 National Guard troops will stay in Washington for at least another three weeks out of concern for violence. If that date doesn’t work out for them, QAnon followers picked May 20, 120 days after January 20 based on an economic recovery plan proposed over 20 years to forgive the national debt. Conspiracy theorists claim the military will take Biden from the White House on May 20 and install DDT in his former Washington home. Robert Guffey, who tracks the QAnon movement, explained more conspiracy beliefs:

“Then all the debt goes away and the IRS is abolished. And then, at that point, Trump starts releasing all these hidden patents for free energy. It’s going to be utopia and all the Democrats will be in Gitmo.”

Conservative media feeds these lies to the tens of millions of their audience:

  • The Biden’s marriage and romance is “part of a slick PR campaign devised by cynical consultants determined to hide the president’s senility by misdirection.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox 
  • The Bidens 12-year-old German Shepherd, Champ, “needs a bath and a comb and all kinds of love and care. [He] looks like … from the junkyard.”—Greg Kelly, Newsmax
  • About cutting off the video of the insurrection at the Capitol during the impeachment trial: “This is all emotional, political theater.”—Greg Gutfeld, cohost of Fox The Five
  • “[There] was no physical evidence that George Floyd was murdered…  The autopsy showed that George Floyd almost certainly died of a drug overdose, fentanyl.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox
  • About fighting domestic terrorists: “They’re creating extremists, just as we did in Iraq… And dramatically elevating the chance that something really awful is going to happen.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox
  • “If the [COVID-19] vaccine was so great, why were all these people lying about it.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox (before Biden was inaugurated)
  • [I don’t know] a single conservative or single Republican who frankly even knows what QAnon.”—Sean Hannity, Fox

Much has been said from conservative leaders telling Democrats about “moving on,” but DDT will never let that happen as long as he stays the face and voice of the GQP.

February 19, 2021

Biden: Mundane Can Be a Relief

Tomorrow celebrates the one-month anniversary of President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, and the contrast to the four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) in the White House is overwhelming. Before DDT, much news would have been mundane, reflecting ordinary governance—like now. News about DDT, however, usually reported his alienation of foreign allies, rejection of help for anyone except the wealthy and big business, and complete chaos as he rapidly changed his positions—sometimes before the end of a sentence.

Participating in the G7 summit, Biden pledged full commitment to NATO after DDT cursed it for four years. “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. In a major address to the Munich Security Conference, he warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. also officially rejoined the Paris climate accord and supports a global effort to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines, donating $4 billion over two years for the effort. After cancelation of the G7 summit, scheduled for the United States in 2020, the UK plans the 2021 summit in June at a Cornwall seaside resort. 

Biden also offered to join European nations in diplomacy with Iran and backed away from DDT’s attempt to restore UN’s sanctions on the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reported the U.S. plans to join them for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. EU’s deputy secretary general asked the other original signers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China—to bring back the agreement, possibly with the U.S. as observer or guest instead of participant to work with Iran. The U.S. hopes to expand the agreement to control Iran’s growing missile ability as well as the country’s support of terrorist groups and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

After DDT violated the agreement, Iran compiled and enriched nuclear fuel over the 2015 limits. Biden started negotiations by withdrawing DDT’s demand of UN international sanctions against Iran. Other nations had dismissed insistence from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for invoking the “snap back sanctions” because DDT had dropped out of the agreement. Biden is also lifting travel restrictions on Iranian officials allowing them to attend UN meetings in the U.S.

Biden plans to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, communicating with King Salman instead of his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Next week, the U.S. will release the report of MBS’s torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, over two years ago. Biden also cancelled the arms sale to Saudi and criticized Saudi human rights abuses. DDT discounted his intelligence conclusions; protected MBS, a friend of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; and ignored a law passed by Congress in 2019 to submit an unclassified report about the Saudi involvement in the murder. DDT’s intelligence director John Ratcliffe’s excuse for violating the law was “a marginal ‘public interest’” in the declassification.  

In domestic issues, Biden will appoint Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a senior CMS official for President Obama, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion and insurance-market reforms. Expanding insurance coverage is a goal of Biden’s administration. Brooks-LaSure also wants to improve health coverage and address high rates of maternal mortality, much worse than in other industrialized nations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Congress will approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill by March 14. The House plans to pass the bill next week and send it to the Senate perhaps Friday or Saturday, allowing that chamber to work through issues before returning it for final passage. Current $300 weekly emergency federal employment benefits expire on March 14, and the current bill would increase benefits to $400 until fall.

Also in the bill are $1,400 stimulus checks for those eligible to add to the $600 approved in December; $350 billion for city and states governments with massive revenue shortfalls; $160 billion for vaccines, increased testing and other health care assistance; approximately $130 billion to help schools reopen; food assistance and rent help; and an increased child tax credit. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told GOP  House members to vote “no” and called it “Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives Act,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He accused the bill of keeping schools closed, bailing out blue states, and paying people not to work.

Although a split between the two parties in voting for the bill may seem to lack the “unity” Biden wants, the country is unified in supporting the relief. Earlier this month, 78 percent of people supported the stimulus checks, including 64 percent of Republicans. The entire bill has overall 68 percent support, and only 47 percent of Republicans oppose the bill. 

Republicans are suffering low polls compared to Biden’s 62 percent approval rating:

  • 19 percent: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • 27 percent: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • 26 percent: Congressional Republicans job performance
  • 23 percent: Approval of Republican Party direction 

Biden promised help for mayors in at least 17 large Texas cities and other county officials suffering loss of power because of the state grid’s failure and lack of potable water for almost half the state’s population. Republicans failed to get FEMA generators to hospitals so Biden is working with local governments to move them.

On Wednesday, Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said rolling blackouts started on Monday because the state’s entire power grid providing power to 90 percent of the state “seconds and minutes” from crashing. Without that action, Texas could have suffered uncontrolled blackouts for an “indeterminately long” crisis, possibly for months. Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed members of the three-member ERCOT board, has called for their resignations. 

Biden has been replacing DDT’s incompetent, conservatively biased loyalists, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has two of them at the top of his list—Andrew Saul and David Black, Social Security Administration commissioner and deputy commissioner. Brown said they “cut the benefits that hardworking Americans have earned, attacked the Social Security Administration’s employees, denied beneficiaries due process, and needlessly increased disability reviews during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Current law protects them from firing except for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”

To block unnecessary deportations, Biden signed orders and directives to reduce the excuses ICE agents use for deporting people and mandates greater oversight of ICE agents. The order is good for 90 days while the agency develops long-term guidelines, but ICE agents rebelled by attempting to release three men convicted of sex offenses against children, against Biden’s orders, until they were stopped. These orders lead into Biden’s immigration reform bill. 

President Ronald Reagan was responsible for the last big immigration reform bill in 1986 when Republicans believed in passing on “America’s triumph … into the next century and beyond.” Senate passed a bill in 2013 by 68 to 32 when, as Jennifer Rubin wrote, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Lindsey Graham (SC) “still sounded like Reagan.” Since then, Graham’s best friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died, and Rubio decided he wanted to be president. And the House killed the Senate bill.

The paths to citizenship including not only Dreamers who arrived in the U.S. as children but also farmworkers and refugees fleeing danger in their home countries provide immediate eligibility for green cards and applications for citizenship after three years. Others will need to wait eight years. all need to have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The bill also increases available diversity visas and assigns more funding to immigration courts and technology. Other provisions include “increased border technology to interdict drug traffickers and smugglers, higher penalties for employers who exploit undocumented laborers in the United States, and increased funding for immigration courts.”

The current administration rejected an anti-immigrant agreement signed by illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli, acting DHS Deputy Secretary, on the day before Biden’s inauguration. The document gave the ICE union veto power over any changes and policies by the new administration. Biden had 30 days to “approve or disapprove” the directive; he denied it Tuesday, hours before the deadline. A whistleblower exposed the document as part of a complaint into Cuccinelli’s corrupt actions.

Biden told Congress the Equality Act has his full support. Adding sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation to protected classes in the Civil Rights Act, the bill provides complete anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community in areas like housing, credit, employment, public spaces and services, and federal programs. LGBTQ+ people have no federal civil rights protections and can be denied the rights of heterosexual people in 29 states. The new bill is the fourth one with these protections since the first one was introduced in 1974. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in the workplace also covers sexual orientation and gender identity, but the ruling does not list other areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. The decision also lacks the power of a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.

One of DDT’s actions in his last year was to remove conservation of water by passing new regulations against low-flow toilets and increasing water flow in many other household appliances and fixtures. Biden plans reviews of these regulations and other DDT’s energy-wasting rules such as using LED lighting, saving not only resources but also money in utility bills.

February 18, 2021

Faulty GOP Governance Destroying Texas, Killing People

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) carries his luggage at the Cancun International Airport REUTERS/Stringer

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) went to the top of the news on Thursday, and not in a good way. His trip to the sunny, warm Ritz-Carlton in Cancún ($309 per night) roiled his constituents, many of whom were freezing—sometimes literally to death—in Texas with below-freezing temperatures and no electricity or water. Cruz claimed he was being “a good father” by taking his children on a well-deserved vacation because of a “tough week”; his wife’s texts give a different story of escape from their “FREEZING” house. Heidi Cruz invited friends to come along on their getaway. Not until photos of Cruz and stories of his runaway dominated the media did he decide to return on Thursday. Critical hashtags included “#FlyinTed” and “#FledCruz,” and he was called Ted “Cancún” Cruz. Winning his 2018 election against Beto O’Rourke with under 51 percent of the vote, Cruz has indicated a goal of again become a presidential candidate in 2024. Opponents will have lots of material for response.

Because of regulations at the private school where Cruz’s daughters attend, they are not permitted into the classroom for a week after international travel unless they take a COVID-19 test three to five days after returning. Either way, they cannot go back to school next week. Before Cruz left on his trip, he said as many as 100 people could die this week. His advice before his departure:  

“This storm is dangerous, and there’s a second storm expected to hit this week, which will make things even worse, so if you can, stay home. Don’t go out on the roads. Don’t risk the ice… We could see up to 100 people lose their lives this week in Texas. So don’t risk it. Keep your family safe and just stay home and hug your kids.”

Cruz also commandeered Houston police to get him to and through the airport as he headed out on his vacation.

Exhibiting the attitude among millions of far-right Republicans, Tim Boyd, the now-resigned mayor of Colorado City (TX), posted on Facebook about people with no power:

“The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!… If you are sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your lazy is direct result of your raising! [sic]…. This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW will work and others will become dependent for handouts…. I’ll be damned if I’m going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves!… Bottom line quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!” “Only the strong will survive and the weak will parish [sic].”

After loss of electricity and running water came boiling advisories for seven million Texans, empty grocery shelves, and canceled deliveries to food banks and schools. According to Austin resident Jeff Goodell, “People wandering around with handguns on their hip adds to a sense of lawlessness.” Lack of power made ranchers and farmers destroy tens of millions of dollars of goods. Fruit and vegetables have frozen in the Rio Grande Valley, and dairy farmers daily pour $8 million worth of milk down the drain because they can’t get the milk to dairies. Hospitals face deadly horrific conditions, and last Monday, Harris County, including Houston, reported over 300 carbon monoxide poisonings.

Even with a thaw in Texas, which isn’t happening for a few days, people will suffer from lack of running water. Disruption in about 590 public water systems in almost 60 percent of the state’s counties affect almost 12 million people of the state’s population of 29 million. Houston asked people to not run water because “it is needed for hospitals and fires,” according to the city’s mayor. Earlier in the week, people were told to leave faucets dripping to keep pipes from freezing, but now they are asked to turn them off, leaving pipes to burst. Only 135 labs in the state can test water to determine when people should stop boiling it, if they are fortunately enough to have power to boil water.

For losing presidential candidate Rick Perry, death is better than have federal government involved. He reassured people that “the sun will come out.” Texas conservatives find regulation unacceptable, but they asked for charity from U.S. taxpayers for the disasters they personally cause. President Joe Biden sent generators, diesel, blankets, and water to Texas “at their request,” according to Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary.

Publicity probably forced Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop blaming the loss of wind power—seven percent of the missing energy from the big freeze. Of the total power shortfall of over 30,000 megawatts, only 2,000 came from wind. Instead, Abbott moved on to attacking his own energy department who maintain the missing energy comes from lack of winterizing power-generating systems, primarily from fossil fuels. The state refused to provide any fiscal incentives to power plant operators in preparation for winter: the state’s power companies get more money if they don’t weatherize all their plants and shut down some of them in winter.  

According to Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa, Abbott is following a “pattern” of “lack of foresight and inability to manage.” Hinojosa cited lack of action for displacements during Hurricane Harvey, no planning for the coronavirus crisis, and “abysmal” handling of vaccine distribution. The loss of energy supply is being compared to the fallout from Hurricane Katrina. Lack of deregulation, i.e., mandating electrical equipment upgrades or weatherization, comes from reliance on free markets.

Deregulation in the 1990s created a grid emphasizing cheap prices instead of good service. Last summer, Cruz said California couldn’t “perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity.” Now he tried to run away from the disaster in a state with the highest rate of uninsured, double the U.S. average in child poverty, and a greater unemployment rate than the federal rate.

Mayors in Texas cities are lobbying for the Democratic stimulus plan, writing Congress about “budget cuts, service reductions, and job losses. Sadly, nearly one million local government jobs have already been lost during the pandemic. … The $350 billion in direct relief to state and local governments included in President Elect Biden’s American Rescue Plan would allow cities to preserve critical public sector jobs and help drive our economic recovery.” Cruz opposes “blue-state bailouts” even for his red state and voted in December against the stimulus package.

Texan GOP leadership so adamantly refuses any involvement with Democrats that the 60 generators and fuel stays at the airport because Republican officials refuse to distribute them.

Proving that governments can manage reliable energy with regulation, the ten percent of the state not under the control of the mis-named GOP-appointed Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has had minimal outages despite also being hit by the storms. For example, El Paso, at the extreme left side northwest of Alpine, had about 3,000 outages, 1,000 of them for about five minutes. Outside ERCOT, regions invested in cold-weather upgrades after the 2011 big freeze while ERCOT assumed that cold weather wouldn’t return. The GOP control in Texas opposes regulations, but almost 70 percent of people in El Paso voted Democratic.

Fox network’s Tucker Carlson was an early spreader of the lie about Texas being “totally reliant on windmills” because “the Green New Deal came to Texas.” The much maligned “Deal” was only a proposal pushed to a 2019 vote in the Senate by Republicans so they could vote it down. Carlson may end up in court over his falsehoods: Bloomberg News is calling for lawsuits like the ones for Fox’s lies about the 2020 election.

More information about the Texas debacle. 

February 16, 2021

Climate Change Creates Havoc in the U.S.

The biggest story in the past few days has been the weather. In just the United States, about 150 million people—almost half the population—was under winter storm warnings. Texas may have been the worst problems across nation with more than 4.2 million customers losing power, many of them for extended periods of time. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency for the red state so that FEMA can provide help.

On Fox network, anti-Democrat and anti-Biden Tucker Carlson declared wind energy was completely responsible for the electricity shortage because the “windmills froze.” He called wind turbines “fashion accessories” while ignoring their success in freezing areas such as Iowa and Denmark. Wind turbines help power thousands of homes in the interior of Alaska during the winter as well as in the Baltic, northern Scotland, and other cold areas.

Authorities explain that rolling blackouts to spread the power across more customers became necessary after natural gas, a fossil fuel, froze inside pipelines not made for the current weather conditions in Texas. Compressors for the pipelines and coal piles froze as gauges and instruments did at natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants. In some areas such as Dallas, the temperature as low as 4 degrees Fahrenheit was lower than Anchorage (AK). Plummeting temperatures caused spikes in use of electricity, leading to outages for unknown lengths of time. With the severe shortage of power, companies prioritized gas for heating homes and businesses instead of generating electricity, leaving people with electric furnaces, 60 percent of the population, in the cold with no electricity. Pipes will freeze because the shortage of electricity means no running water. Cell phone service is disappearing because backup generators at towers are freezing or running out of fuel or both.”

Meanwhile wholesale prices for natural gas went up as much as 4,000 percent. In northern Texas, the cost of a megawatt-hour went from an average of $18 to $300; Houston saw an increase in megawatt hour from $22 to $9,000. The increase in price was partly responsible for the lack of electricity: power management “shed load”—cut off customers—instead of dealing with the cost spikes.

A serious issue in Texas is its insistence on operating its own power grid, managed by the nonprofit Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), for 90 percent of the state’s electricity serving 26 million customers. Texas is the largest oil, natural gas, and wind energy producer in the country. Outside Texas, power company revenues pay to have generators on call during times of high demand, Texas electricity customers pay only for the power actually provided. Prices are lower during normal times, but the grid reliability suffers during times of spiking electricity demand.

Daniel Cohan, a Rice associate professor of environmental engineering, call ERCOT “an island.” In desperate circumstances, the state has nowhere to go to more energy, and the state hasn’t maintained its grid. Ed Hirs, an energy fellow in the department of economics at the University of Houston, said, “It limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances.”

The map (left) shows the widespread liability of a separate grid with lack of regulation. 

ERCOT’s predictions for the winter, using past winters, assumed it had sufficient resources and expected to lose about 8,600 megawatts in the winter for a peak demand of 58,000 megawatts. Instead, 34,000 megawatts went offline at the same time as a peak of 69,000 megawatts in the storm.

Texas built its own grid after the 1935 Federal Power Act regulated interstate electricity sales. ERCOT operates outside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and assumes natural gas will always be available. Instead the liquid froze. As of Monday afternoon, over three-fourths of ERCOT’s gigawatts offline were from gas and coal. Yet publicity blames the wind and solar energy while using the current chaos as an excuse to raise utility rates. Ten years ago, when fossil fuel power underperformed, the conservatives falsely called the outages “a direct consequence of the Obama administration’s agenda to lay siege to the coal industry.” In that decade, Texas drillers have burned off massive quantities of natural gas–$750 billion worth in just 2018—instead of using it for the grid.

What Tucker Carlson doesn’t know—or refuses to admit:

  • Wind turbine outages are responsible for less than 13 percent of Texas’ power shortages.
  • ERCOT predicted wind turbines would produce only 10 percent of the state’s winter electricity; less than half the share of 22.9 percent in the summer.
  • Over 80 percent of the power shortfall came from problems at coal- and gas-fired plants.
  • During the power shortage this week, wind turbines exceeded expectations because of the winds generated by the storm spinning the blades faster than usual.

As of Tuesday evening, the weather has killed at least 25 people in the U.S. from tornadoes, fires, car crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc. In Louisiana, a man died after he fell on ice and hit his head. The windchill went from Canada into Mexico, and snow fell on the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Snow covered over 73 percent of mainland U.S., the largest area since records began in 2003. All except three of the 48 mainland states had snow.

Delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments and deliveries slowed the distribution as did the inability of people to get to vaccination sites. Medical personnel frantically looked for people to vaccinate after power and generators failed. The 2,000 record lows included -26F in Sioux Falls (SD) and -38F in Minnesota, and at least 20 cities experienced their coldest weather in history. More records are expected. 

Over 2,700 U.S. flights were canceled with 800 at Dallas-Fort Worth and 700 in Houston. Another 1,300 flights were delayed. In just Alabama, 100 school systems closed. San Antonio canceled all its flights.

The Dallas Stars postponed a National Hockey League game against the Nashville Predators, and the Houston Chronicle failed to print the paper after the plant lost power, something that didn’t even happen during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Abilene (TX) shut off water services at all three water treatment plants. At -16F, Tulsa (OK) had 113 broken water line since Sunday, and a parked patrol car couldn’t move because of frozen water around its wheels.

In Oregon, the coast stayed warm and wet, but much of the rest of the state was hit. About 330,000 people lost electricity, the largest number in recorded history. Heavy snow and ice brought down trees and branches, and the resulting blocked storm drains may cause flooding. Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order preventing price-gouging in nine Oregon counties because of unusual increases in lodging rates for temporary stays while power is out in homes.

Carlson’s next false claim may be that record low temperatures prove the fallacy of global warming. The rapid heating of the Arctic, however, pushes the North Pole’s cold air further south. It’s all part of climate change. Winter storms have been strongly increasing in the U.S. Northeast since 2008 as Arctic has heated up at a rate over twice the world’s average. Cold air around the North Pole, an area of low pressure tightly circulating during winter like a spinning top, is moving because of interference to the jet stream, strong winds at lower elevations than the polar vortex. Arctic warming causes a shift in the jet stream which then hits the polar vortex. Judah Cohen, the director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said, “Where the polar vortex goes, so goes the cold air.” In the past month, Europe has also seen huge gusts of snow.

The storm will likely continue across the nation on Wednesday with a return to average or above-average temperatures within seven to ten days. Wednesday, however, the sun will be out at my house on the Oregon Coast.

One bright spot: The United States no longer blocks assistance from states based on their politics. Biden promised unity, and the red state of Texas was the first to receive federal assistance. He made a call to red state governors Greg Abbott (R-TX), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Andy Beshear (D-KY), Laura Kelly (D-KS), Bill Lee (R-TN), Tate Reeves (R-MS), and Kevin Stitt (R-OK). The call repeated that his administration is ready to answer requests for federal assistance and deploy federal emergency resources to help people in the storm.

February 14, 2021

Biden’s Work Leads to Popularity

Republicans are still wreaking havoc from Saturday’s acquittal of Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT): instead of declaring any victory, they are damning the seven GOP senators who voted to convict DDT for inciting violence in his unrelenting attempt to overturn the election—and democracy. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) explained best the reason for votes for conviction—“he is guilty.” His op-ed in the Baton Rouge newspaper covers the facts that DDT’s cult followers refuse to recognize.

For those who question the Democrats’ wisdom in not calling witnesses after the Senate voted in favor it, another reason has emerged. Republican senators threatened to filibuster every Biden nominee, every piece of legislation, in short everything Democrats brought to the Senate. Attempting to get 60 votes for everything with only 50 Democrats in the Senate was not worth the risk. As Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), lead prosecutor for the trial, said:  

‘We could have had 500 witnesses and it would have not have overcome the kinds of arguments being made by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who were hanging their hats on the claim that it was somehow unconstitutional.”

DDT issued a statement about his victory and insinuated he could return in some fashion. President Joe Biden set the tone for the future of the United States. He stated the impeachment trial showed the charge against DDT is not in dispute and quoted House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who voted to acquit but still believes DDT is guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for provoking” violence at the U.S. Capitol, directly killing five people:  

“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant … Each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

Contrasting DDT’s life in the White House with family events of the Bidens, this video shows a casual-looking Biden couple wandering the White House lawn with their two dogs looking at the Valentines that Dr. Biden had arranged to honor the day.

Conservative pundits accused Biden of avoiding the impeachment trial by working, ignoring his busy schedule which was so different from DDT’s obsession with watching television and being admired. These are a few of his accomplishments in the past week while the media focused on impeachment.

Biden reinstated the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, greatly changed and unstaffed during the previous administration. Melissa Rodgers, First Amendment lawyer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will head up the agency with goals including help for disadvantaged communities, advancement of global humanitarian work, and protection for “church-state separation and freedom for people of all faiths and none.”

Before the impeachment trial, nominees for secretaries of the Education Department and the Labor Department were passed out of committee with the customary few naysayers.

Biden will rescind the ability of states to mandate work requirements for Medicaid coverage. Because of DDT’s request for these rules, some states require residents work for 20 or more hours a week in jobs, job search, community service, or taking classes. Judges have already struck down some of these requirements.

Protections under the Fair Housing Act now cover LGBTQ people, allowing the government to investigate discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This executive order follows an earlier one prohibiting the same discrimination in employment. Last summer, then HUD Secretary Ben Carson stripped protections for transgender people to go to federally funded homeless shelters, a policy set to go into effect in two months until Biden reversed it.

Biden said his climate-change executive order combined with “Buy American” would help create one million new jobs in the automobile industry.

The 9th Circuit Court revoked an earlier general permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ authorizing most of commercial shellfish aquaculture in Washington’s Puget Sound seriously harming the environment.  

The government has finalized deals for another 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by summer, half from Pfizer and half from Moderna, bringing the total to 300 million. 

Biden told Congress he terminated DDT’s national emergency order diverting billions of military appropriations DDT used to build part of the southern wall. DDT issued the order because Congress refused to allocate the money. Part of Biden’s direction was to divert no more taxpayer dollars to construct a border wall and review “all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”

The president also plans to ask Congress to eliminate $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry. Last year, progressive lawmakers in both chambers introduced legislation to end federal subsidies and loopholes.  

Biden has “indefinitely” shelved DDT’s deal for Oracle and Walmart buying much of the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. DDT had claimed “national security” but was really upset because the young people on the app had first ordered unused tickets for his Tulsa (OK) rally and then advertised the Georgia senatorial runoff election for younger voters in favor of the Democrats.

The DOJ notified the Supreme Court it does not regard the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional and considers it legal as the high court considers a challenge to the law by Texas and other GOP states. California and other Democratic states are defending the law. Although the Supreme Court earlier upheld the individual mandate in the law, some justices have been replaced by DDT’s appointments.

After the February 1 military coup in Myanmar, aka Burma, Biden announced sanctions on the leaders who deposed and detained its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others until it relinquishes power and releases prisoners. Biden will also freeze U.S. assets of up to $1 billion benefiting the Burmese government. Like the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the coup was intended to destroy the nation’s democracy.

While the House works on the stimulus bill, Biden is working on a $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package to create jobs and rebuild transportation networks, both growing the economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In an opening meeting, four members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, two from each party, joined both Biden and VP Kamala Harris in the White House. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participated by video while he is quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. They agreed new infrastructure must be built in both urban and rural areas. More meetings with congressional members are planned. Biden pointed out China is advancing high-speed-rail projects. Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV) called the meeting productive. Biden has said he doesn’t support increasing the gas tax, but it has had no changes for 24 years while inflation and better gas mileage has taken its purchasing power. The current federal surface transportation expires in Fall 2021.

With Ron Bloom the new chair of the postal service board, the leadership has changed although the former RNC chair, Mike Duncan, remains as a Governor. Bloom plans to “revitalize” the USPS and restore its functionality, badly needed since DDT’s choice of the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was intended to destroy the agency before the election. Working on the automobile industry bailout over a decade ago, Bloom was a senior adviser to the Treasury Secretary. Getting rid of DeJoy may be difficult, especially because he wants to stay, because the conservative majority of the board hired DeJoy. Biden could fill the three openings on the board, but Congress would need to confirm them.

DeJoy apologized to the board for problems with delivery and promised to do better, but his vision for the future includes even deeper service cuts, more expensive postage and services, and lower delivery commitments. Already one-time delivery of non-first class mail last month dropped to 38 percent, half of the same month in the previous year. Without DeJoy, the USPS could come back, especially if Congress passes its legislation rescinding the law requiring the agency to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree benefits—something no other government agency requires. This mandate is responsible for putting the USPS billions of dollars in debt giving DeJoy and the GOP leverage for their changes. Democrats have also been pushing an expansion into postal banking to both provide more revenue and give over 7 million unbanked Americans with options for checking and savings accounts, bill payments, small loans, and low-fee ATMs instead of usurious payday lenders and check-cashing businesses.

Since the election, the favorability of the GOP has seriously dropped, completely because of changes from Republicans. For the first time in eight years, the Democrats are more favorable than Republicans by double digits. In 25 states, the only ones making voter registration available, 140,000 registered voters have dropped the GOP in the first month after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Only 20 percent of voters think the GOP idea about the stimulus bill being “too much” is right, whereas 79 percent believe the COVID-19 relief package is either “about right” or too small.

And many Republicans, such as state GOPs and several congressional members, continue to sabotage anything Biden does.

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