Nel's New Day

February 5, 2023

Balloons Plus More News

The White House didn’t have information about the three suspected Chinese spy balloons during the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) until President Joe Biden took office, and DDT said on Truth Social that these balloons’ transiting the U.S. during his administration were “fake disinformation.” The Pentagon, however, had briefed Congress about these surveillance balloons near Texas and Florida. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) talked about past Chinese balloon surveillance near Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Guam. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had said that Chinese aircraft illegally entering airspace was unprecedented.

After the newest balloon was shot down Saturday, the debris of the one-ton balloon payload spread along seven miles, an excellent reason for waiting until the balloon was over the ocean, not land. Rep. Mike Turner made the balloon into a game when he said that Biden’s shooting down the balloon was “sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over.” Former chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff said risking civilian life by shooting the balloon down over land was not warranted.

With some of the hubbub about the Chinese balloon no longer bearing fruit, Republicans have reverted to attacking social media TikTok for security concerns.

At a tech finance symposium, a member said that war between China and Taiwan would be good for America’s Frontier Fund (AFF), an investment group whose co-founder and CEO sits on both the State Department Foreign Affairs Policy Board and President Joe Biden’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Other venture funds would benefit from the destabilization of the global crisis. AFF has close ties to Peter Thiel, the conservative billionaire who gave millions of dollars to senatorial candidates Blake Masters (AZ) and J.D. Vance (Ohio).

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) hasn’t avoided ridicule after he handed out pins with the image of semi-automatic rifles to any members of the House who would take them. This photo of the terrified Clyde cowering behind law enforcement from people he later called “tourists” disproves his braggadocio. Other photos show him pushing furniture against the door to keep out DDT’s supporters.  

This past weekend, the Democratic party changed the order of primaries, moving South Carolina to first place. In 2023, South Carolina will vote on February 3. New Hampshire and Nevada follow on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. Iowa, which like New Hampshire votes with a caucus, has been moved out of early primaries. With a state law to be the first primary, including the federal one, New Hampshire is traumatized and vows to hold its primary first, no matter what. In Georgia, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sets the date, and his office refuses to split the primaries for the two parties. Gov. Brian Kemp also said he won’t support any changes. Michigan’s Democratic legislature and governor have passed a bill to change the state’s primary date, a problem for the GOP.

Among proposals passed at the DNC is one emphasizing the importance of youth voting and youth Democratic engagement. Other resolutions include support for President Joe Biden’s policies on the environment and Ukraine.

Elon Musk’s Tesla raised prices on its Model Y in the U.S. after government made more versions of the car eligible for tax credits. The increase came three weeks after Tesla cut prices for some versions of the Model Y by 20 percent for slumping demand. That cut caused Ford to drop the price of the Mustang Mach-E, but General Motors held firm.

Twitter’s changes continue to upset users, the most recent one the elimination of free API access for third-party developers. The site’s automated accounts will disappear unless the person in charge pays for access and researchers collecting public data from the site will lose the resource. API, application programming interface, allows programs to communicate and connect with each other; therefore developers outside the company can create connecting programs.

API stands for “application programming interface,” and it’s a framework that allows programs to communicate and connect with each other. In the case of a platform like Twitter, or Facebook or YouTube, this means developers outside the company can create programs that connect with the main product. Twitter’s description of its API says developers can use the feature to “moderate conversations for health and safety,” “enable creation and personal expression,” “measure and analyze what’s happening” and more. The latest move again shows Musk’s financial difficulties with Twitter.

Leonard “Raheem” Taylor will be executed this week despite a camera recording showing him 2,000 miles away from the crime and witnesses seeing the victims alive at that time. Police had arrested and harassed Taylor’s brother into implicating Taylor in the crime before he recanted his statements before the 2008 trial, saying that all his statements were “coerced.” Police told the brother if he didn’t say what they wanted that they hurt his disabled mother. A medical examiner changed his time-of-death estimate to support the state’s version of events. Missouri has refused to reopen the case and review the evidence. With all the evidence about Taylor’s innocence, however, a prosecuting attorney claimed no facts “to support a credible claim of innocence” in Taylor’s case.

Florida legislators are returning to the Capitol this week for a special legislative session to remove governing powers from the Walt Disney Company as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ retaliation. Other objectives are fixing legal problems with DeSantis’ new election police force and the migrant transport program.

In 1967, Florida gave control to Disney over the Reedy Creek Improvement District land in and around its central Florida theme parks. Disney criticized DeSantis for his “don’t say gay” bill, and the governor took aim at the corporation. Lawmakers voted to dissolve Reedy Creek in June 2023 but left town without a plan. A serious issue is how to save Orange and Osceola county residents from paying a $1 billion debt. DeSantis has reassured bondholders they won’t have to pay.

Florida legislators will use the special session to consider the transport of migrants from anywhere in the United States, a significant expansion of a program in which DeSantis paid for two flights that carried migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The program stalled after legal challenges over whether the DeSantis administration violated a state law limiting the transport to migrants from only Florida.

Another consideration is giving jurisdiction to the new Office of Elections Crimes and Security prosecutorial power for crimes involving elections. A judge had dismissed a case regarding the arrest of a Miami defendant, ruling that state prosecutors had acted beyond their authority.

Voter fraud isn’t a big deal—if it’s committed by GOP voters. The most recent sentence was for one of four voting cheaters from the large Florida retirement community, The Villages, who were caught in 2021 voting both in Florida and in other states. They and others who committed voting felonies require prison sentences have almost all received probation for pleading guilty. One Ohio double voter got only three days in jail. On the other hand, DeSantis arrested former felons who voted about clerks gave them ballots. Republicans had passed a law saying that they could vote only if they had paid all their fees. 

GOP attorneys general from 20 states are warning CVS and Walgreens not to mail the abortion pill mifepristone into their states. The medication was approved over 20 years ago as a safe and effective method of terminating an early pregnancy. Last month, the drugstores said they are applying for certification with the FDA to dispense the prescription in states where it is legal to do so. Walgreens is waiting for this approval before dispensing the drug. The DOJ has argued that exceptions exist in states with severe restrictions on abortion despite the 1873 law, the Comstock Act, that prohibits sending anything used to terminate a pregnancy through the mail.

Section 1461 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code does not prohibit the mailing of certain drugs that can be used to perform abortions if the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully. Because it blocks the hormone cortisol, mifepristone is also used to treat Cushing’s syndrome and elevated blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as clinical trials for breast cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

GenBioPro, one of the pill’s manufacturers, is suing to overturn West Virginia’s abortion ban with the argument that FDA approval of drugs preempts state law, and a North Carolina physician who prescribes the pill is also suing for its lack of availability because she cannot treat her patients. In Texas, anti-abortion physicians are suing the FDA in federal court to completely pull mifepristone from the U.S. market. The case is before one of DDT’s most conservative, anti-rights Judge Matthew Kaczmaryk. If he removes the medication from the U.S., an appeal goes to the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court.

The anti-abortion Church at Planned Parenthood, founded by the Covenant Church, has been ordered to pay $960,000, including $850,000 in legal fees for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho after a Spokane judge ruled the group violated with state law by interfering with patient care.

February 4, 2023

Balloon Blown Up, Courts Go Right-Wing

More balloons: President Joe Biden ordered a Chinese balloon, which crossed the U.S. after entering Alaska a week ago, shot down off the coast of South Carolina. The size was estimated at the equivalent of three school buses, and it had traveled about 12 miles in the sky. Biden waited until it was no longer above land, thus not endangering civilians. His administration also had time to analyze the balloon and learn about what it was doing with its “sophisticated communications gear” and how it was performing. Details of shooting. (Photo by Randall Hill, Reuters)

An F-22 Raptor took it down with a single missile at 2:39 pm on February 4. The pilot’s call sign, Frank 01, was named after Frank Luke Jr., “the Arizona Balloon Buster” destroying German observation balloons and enemy planes. Downed in water about 47 feet deep, the balloon’s recovery may be simple. A Navy salvage ship will start in two days to bring it up with divers and unstaffed underwater vessels.

The administration had blocked the balloon’s ability to collect information undermining U.S. national security. Yet Republicans had a number of criticisms, one of them allowing the balloon to proceed across the country. None of them had commented on the four Chinese surveillance balloons in U.S. airspace during the last few years, three of them while Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was still in the White House. Other than the balloons during DDT’s administration, which an official called “no big deal,” other hostile aircraft was seen during his four years; i.e., swarms of drones over Colorado and Nebraska in 2019 and January 2020.

House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) fueled conspiracy theories for the Fox network audience when he suggested that the balloon contained “bioweapons” and asked if it took off “from Wuhan.” He called Biden “compromised” and said he will target and investigate him. If his theories turned out to be true, which is extremely unlikely, shooting it down would spread Comer’s bioweapons. Comer missed the Pentagon briefing to appear on television.

For at least two years, the Pentagon has been working on high-altitude inflatables flying between 60,000 and 90,000 feet to add to its surveillance network and track hypersonic weapons developed by China and Russia. The Defense Department is also developing drones equipped with “stratospheric payloads” along with balloons to track moving ground targets, provide communications, and intercept electronic signals.

More Supreme Court problems: Chief Justice John Roberts insisted on an in-house investigation into the leaking of a rough draft overturning Roe v. Wade because he could do a better job. Yet he discovered nothing from the probe. CNN, however, has found out about the “security” used within the high court.

  • Some justices often use personal email accounts for sensitive transmissions instead of secure servers established to guard this information. (Lock them up, anyone?)
  • The court’s employees use printers that don’t produce logs and are able to print sensitive documents off-site without tracking.
  • “Burn bags” for sensitive materials to be destroyed are left open and unattended in hallways. Others are filled to capacity and left near desks.
  • The code for access into non-public areas weren’t changed very often.
  • Covid relaxed the rule that sensitive information could not leave the facilities without appropriate authorization. Even before the pandemic, no mechanisms existed to check what was taken from the court.

The North Carolina Supreme Court voted 5-2 along party lines for a hearing to reconsider its decision striking down the congressional districts as unconstitutional party gerrymandering. State districts and a separate voter ID case may also be reconsidered. These cases were all decided before the partisan majority on the court flipped to Republican. The case Moore v. Harper, already argued before the Supreme Court with no decision yet, could become moot, depending on the outcome of the hearing. Moore’s focus is whether North Carolina’s original ruling violated the power of the state’s general assembly to determine maps for congressional districts. The case filed by Republicans asks that the current North Carolina court ruling be overturned.

With the state hearing set for March 14, the court could hand down a decision before the U.S. Supreme Court does. Republicans asked the GOP judges to overturn the decision that the partisan gerrymander was so egregious that it violated the state constitution. SCOTUS heard Republicans argue in favor of the independent state legislature doctrine that only a state legislature can set rules for a federal election, rules that cannot be changed by state courts. Deciding in favor of the Republicans could completely change the way that election rules are determined in all the states.

Immigration is one of GOP favorites in attacking Biden, but illegal migrant crossings decreased by 40 percent between December 2022 and January 2023. Biden has a new policy offering two-year permits each month for 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela according to an agreement with Mexico. Texas AG Ken Paxton is leading A Group of 20 in a lawsuit to overturn Biden’s policy.

Men who want to kill their partners and families and commit mass shootings can sigh with relief now that a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court, the most conservative appeals court with six of 17 judges appointed by DDT, has struck down the law preventing people with domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns. Two of the three judges on the panel for U.S. v. Rahimi were DDT appointments; the third came from Ronald Reagan.

Once again, history is the reason; judges maintain the Founding Fathers didn’t have any objections to domestic abusers carrying guns. (Muskets?) A question is how far “originalists” will go. Men beating their wives was legal in the U.S. until 1871 when Arkansas passed the first law against the abuse.  

The case was against a man prevented by a civil protective order banning him from harassing, stalking, or threatening his ex-girlfriend and their child was overturned after the Supreme Court decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The opinion set new standards for the Second Amendment by demanding justification of gun safety laws by showing they are “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” A statement from DOJ AG Merrick B. Garland:

“Nearly 30 years ago, Congress determined that a person who is subject to a court order that restrains him or her from threatening an intimate partner or child cannot lawfully possess a firearm. Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent, or of the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, that statute is constitutional. Accordingly, the Department will seek further review of the Fifth Circuit’s contrary decision.”

Thursday’s ruling overturned the federal law and is not likely to impact similar state laws, including one in California. Still, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, called the judges who issued the ruling “zealots” who are “hellbent on a deranged vision of guns for all, leaving government powerless to protect its people.”

States searching for gun safety laws are reviewing the language. California’s Gov. Gavin Newson endorsed a bill banning people from carrying concealed guns in almost all public places except for churches and businesses posting signs saying guns are acceptable. Churches are popular places for mass shootings.

Bruen said “ordinary, law-abiding citizens [can] carry handguns publicly for their self-defense.” The Fifth Circuit classifies this man as “ordinary, law-abiding”: during six weeks he fired an AR-15 into the home of his Percocet buyer, shot at a driver after an accident and drove off, returned to fire a different gun and again flee, shot at a police car, and fired several rounds in the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a fast-food restaurant. Three conservative judges ruled he has the right to own a gun because he is “part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees.” The man was also accused of dragging his girlfriend into his car, shooting at witnesses who saw him assault her, and threatening the girlfriend with shooting her if she told anyone what happened.

DDT’s judge who wrote the opinion said that several colonies and states had laws to disarm classes of people considered dangerous but “the purpose of these ‘dangerousness’ laws was the preservation of political and social order, not the protection of an identified person from the specific threat posed by another.”

The source of pins glorifying the AR-15 worn by some House members instead of flags is Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who said the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was like a “normal tourist visit.” He owns a gun shop.

What did Republicans say about Biden’s amazing jobs report? Nothing. But they greatly admired DDT in 2018 when his numbers weren’t nearly as good. And Republicans have said nothing about the cost of gas going down over one-third between June and December 2022. 

February 3, 2023

News – February 3, 2023

Follow-up on House Judiciary Committee meeting: Member Chip Roy (R-TX) was caught in the lie that migrants on the southern border are responsible for the fentanyl crisis. A Washington Post reporter called the statement “a rather insidious falsehood.” Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked the reporter, but extensive investigation provides “decades of evidence” that seizures of smuggled fentanyl are primarily at ports of entry and tied to people with legal U.S. status, even a border agent. An El Paso judge also lambasted the myths of migrant invasions “in our community” and said that the “false racist narrative” continues devasting violence in U.S. communities.

House Republicans work on their message that the U.S. has a bad economy under President Joe Biden, but January added 517,000 jobs, double the Wall Street estimate. Unemployment dropped to 3.4 percent, the lowest since 1969 instead of the expected increase to 3.6 percent. In Labor Department revisions, the economy added 500,000 more jobs in 2022 than previously recorded for a total of 12 million jobs in the past 24 months.

Each of the past six months has also seen a drop in annual inflation and a growth in the GDP. Biden’s actions to cut back inflation:

  • Expanding capacity of U.S. ports to address supply chain bottlenecks: Critical U.S. ports operate 24/7 to get goods to market without a price spike.
  • Lowering gas prices by taking gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and transitioning to a clean energy economy: These actions countered Russia’s war in Ukraine. Far-right conservatives in the House were so upset with the drop in gas prices that they tried—and failed—to block the use of the reserves to help consumers.
  • Lowering prices on groceries by cracking down on anti-competitive behavior: Lack of competition had especially increased meat and poultry costs.
  • Reducing health care costs: Republicans fought lower costs for prescription drugs, but Biden lowered out-of-pocket costs for medications from Medicare and expanded financial assistance for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.  
  • Pushing private sector investment in job creation and cutting prices: Investments include electric vehicle charging and semiconductors with domestic manufacturing that creates high-quality jobs and boosts U.S. competitiveness now and in the future. Companies such as Tesla and Ford cite Biden’s agenda for significant price cuts to their electric vehicle fleets.

The Department of Transportation also announced nine new projects for roads, bridges, and a tunnel provided by the Mega Grant program supplied by Biden’s infrastructure law.

Behind-the-scenes tapes secretly recorded after DDT’s 2020 loss in Wisconsin show his state GOP campaign knew he had lost the election but decided to “fan the flames” by crying widespread fraud and Democrats stealing the election. Andrew Iverson, then head of the Wisconsin DDT campaign and now Midwest regional director for the RNC, told Republicans to “be on standby if there’s any stunts we need to pull.” He was also heard to concede that Democrats won because they beat Republicans in getting out the vote. On tape, Iverson also admitted that Biden won the state by almost 21,000 votes.

Republicans are delighted with the huge balloon from China about the size of two school buses seen hovering 60,000 feet above Montana: they have another opportunity to attack the president and other Democrats. Conservatives demand it be shot down, calling the president “China Joe.” The Pentagon advised against the shooting idea because of the danger from falling debris to people on the ground so Don Trump Jr. told Montanans to shoot at it with their own guns. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said the balloon was just over land; shooting it wouldn’t be a problem. The military would also like recover part of the balloon intact.

By late February 3, the balloon crossed Kansas into Missouri. The Pentagon expects it to stay in U.S. airspace “for a few days.” The Pentagon expects it to stay in U.S. airspace “for a few days.” While the U.S. complains, China reports that U.S. surveillance has violated Chinese territory at least 800 times last year. Early in the discussion, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) seemed the voice of reason when he said shooting down the balloon could give China a pretext to take action. By late in the day, however, he joined the party line about needing to shoot it down if there is any suspicion of surveillance.  Leaders from both parties in Congress will receive a briefing next week. Another balloon was seen above Latin America on Friday.

Hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to leave for a diplomatic trip to Beijing, he canceled his first official visit because of the balloon. He told China’s foreign affairs chief Wang Yi that the “surveillance balloon” in U.S. airspace was an “irresponsible act” and a “clear violation of U.S. sovereignty.”

Early this morning, the GOP sent out an email echoing DDT with the subject heading, “Shoot down the balloon, you coward!” The content began with asking readers to sign a petition to pass along the message to Joe Biden. There was more: “Chip in $35 or more.”  

A federal judge is allowing a wrongful death civil case to proceed against city officials, police officers, and Kyle Rittenhouse who shot and killed two men during a protest in 2020. The father of one of the men shot filed the lawsuit. The suit alleges officers permitted a dangerous situation violating his son’ constitutional rights resulting in his death and that Rittenhouse conspired with police to cause harm to protesters. The judge said that the man’s death “could plausibly be regarded as having been proximately caused by the actions of the governmental defendants.”

Rittenhouse tried to get the case dismissed, claiming he wasn’t properly served, but the judge said Rittenhouse “is almost certainly evading service.” Rittenhouse was acquitted of homicide and reckless endangering for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle he illegally brought to Kenosha (WI) from his Illinois home. He was 17 at the time, thus illegally having a gun.

The Satanic Temple (TST) has started a telehealth abortion clinic in New Mexico named “The Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic.” The virtual clinic “provides free medication abortion services to those participating in TST’s religious ritual.” It schedules screenings and appointments, as well as prescribing abortion medication via mail for patients. The news release states:

“In 1950, Samuel Alito’s mother did not have options, and look what happened. Prior to 1973, doctors who performed abortions could lose their licenses and go to jail. The clinic’s name serves to remind people just how important it is to have the right to control one’s body and the potential ramifications of losing that right.”

Alito wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court for Dobbs v. Jackson which overturned abortion rights in Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The dissent from the minority of three justices stated:

“[This court] says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law.”

TST is a religion recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Jair Bolsonaro, deposed president of Brazil who applied for a new six-month U.S. visa, headlined Turning Point’s “Power of the People” rally with Charlie Kirk on February 3. Brazilian investigators are probing any role Bolsonaro had in the protest at his country’s capital after he fled to the U.S. shortly before the attempted coup. He was able to come on an A-1 visa because he was still president.

A Brazilian magazine has the recording of Bolsonaro three weeks before the winner, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Trying to keep power, he wanted help to annul the elections and gave his ally, Sen. Marcos do Val, the responsibility of taping Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes while getting the judge to confess he overstepped his powers under the constitution. Police also found a draft decree at the home of Bolsonaro’s former justice minister to overturn the election.

Thorough searches of President Joe Biden’s vacation home in Rehobeth Beach (DE), purchased in 2017, revealed no more classified documents; none has been found in his possession since the few in his home on January 20. Searches were done with Biden’s permission, unlike those in the property of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) who fought their removal.

Next, the FBI plans to search former VP Mike Pence’s residence in Indiana and his office in Washington, D.C. for any classified documents after some were found at his home last month. Only Pence’s attorneys have conducted any searches his premises.

Questions have been raised if the FBI plans to search the multitude of DDT’s homes beyond Mar-a-Lago in New York—Seven Springs, Trump Tower penthouse, Trump Parc building, and Trump Park Avenue—and his Bedminster (NJ) golf resort. And of course, his 500+ “companies, solely owned by DDT, comprising the Trump Organization. Outside of DDT’s apartment and a storage unit at Mar-a-Lago, the only searches have been of part of Trump Tower and one area at Bedminster.  

February 2, 2023

The 118th Congress: ‘Political Infighting, Political Retaliation’

Today 218 House Republicans voted to remove Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the Foreign Affairs Committee, and two Republicans were overheard in an elevator criticizing the vote although they were part of it. Ken Buck (CO) called it the “stupidest vote in the world,” and Mike Simpson (ID) agreed, adding that it would make Omar a “martyr.” They also agreed that the vote was revenge for Democrats removing Republicans from committees but asked others in the elevator not to tell leadership their thoughts.

Democrats previously removed Paul Gosar (R-AZ) for his threats of violence against Democrats including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and President Joe Biden along with Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for her racism, anti-Semitism, threats of violence, and conspiracy theories. While in office, she spoke at white supremacists’ conferences. Senate GOP White John Thune (SD) said that Omar’s removal was “turnabout” for the Democrats removing GOP lawmakers from their committees.

After McCarthy promised to strip Omar of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a coalition of primarily Jewish American and pro-Israel organizations condemned his threat “based on false accusations that she is antisemitic or anti-Israel.” The statement also called McCarthy’s claims hypocritical because he and some of his own deputies have spread anti-Semitic tropes. They cited McCarthy’s tweet “charging that George Soros and two other billionaires of Jewish descent were seeking to ‘buy’ an election.”

McCarthy’s newly-elected Whip Tom Emmer said the Jewish billionaires had “essentially bought control of Congress, and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik promoted the anti-Semitic “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), highly influential with McCarthy, said that the California wildfires were started by “Jewish space lasers” and posted approval of violence against Democratic leaders on social media. She uses her seat on the Oversight Committee to spread more lies

About criticism from the pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Tom Massie (KY) wrote, “How is this not foreign interference in our elections,” referring to anti-Semitic dual-loyalty. Republicans also defended the virulently anti-Semitic Kanye West.

Omar brought a new perspective to the other 49 members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, according to Peter Beinart, a journalism and poli-sci professor at the City University of New York:

“In a hearing in May 2021, about Chinese atrocities against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, only Ms. Omar noted that the United States had itself imprisoned 22 Uyghurs at Guantánamo Bay and that China’s president had reportedly cited America’s ‘war on terror’ as a justification for his own crackdown.”

The 218-211 vote were along party lines. One GOP member, Dave Joyce (OH) who voted “present” instead of against Omar. “She was elected,” the excuse Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) uses to keep lying Rep. George Santos (R-NY) for his vote, doesn’t count for Democrats. McCarthy earlier removed California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee, accusing Schiff of lying, but that excuse is only for Democrats.

Three GOP representatives—Ken Buck (CO), Nancy Mace (SC), and Victoria Spartz (IN)—had said they would not support Omar’s removal, but McCarthy bought their votes with pledges that he would fix rules for removing members from committees. His promised language in the resolution carries no weight, however, because they are in the “whereas” section and not the “resolved” section.

When she was first in the House four years ago, Omar made a few comments about the Israeli apartheid with the Palestinians, Jewish people “buying political support” in AIPA, and allegiance to a foreign company. Even Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had called Israel “your country” when talking to an audience of Jewish people. After the Democratic leadership condemned Omar’s comments, she apologized

“Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”

Criticizing the GOP vote, Ocasio-Cortez referred to McCarthy appointing Gosar:

“I had a member of the Republican caucus threaten my life and you all, and the Republican caucus rewarded him with one of the most prestigious committee assignments in this congress… This is about targeting women of color in the United States of America.”

McCarthy had been highly critical of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for allowing votes after the time expired and set rules to stop it. Despite Democrats chanting “order” and “close it,” the new speaker permitted votes after the time expiration to get enough votes to keep Omar off the committee. 

Omar is a Black Muslim woman frequently attacked by DDT, the right-wing media, and GOP lawmakers who assailed her ethnicity, religion, and history as a Somalian refugee. In a 2019 rally, DDT led the chant, “Send her back.” Omar said,

“Who gets to be an American? What opinions do you have to have to be counted as American?”

Surprisingly, far-right, DDT-supporter Matt Gaetz (FL) defended Omar and said that Republicans want to punish her “because they don’t like what she has to say.” He still voted to take her off the committee because he didn’t like her “viewpoint.”

McCarthy also removed California Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee but said Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (NY) may put anyone he wishes on the new House “weaponization” committee. The strong Democratic slate includes Del. Stacey Plaskett, representative of the Virgin Islands and part of the 2021 impeachment team, along with three members of the Oversight Committee—Stephen Lynch (MA), Gerry Connolly (VA), and Dan Goldman (NY), elected to Congress after he served as Democratic counsel during DDT’s first impeachment. Other members are Linda Sánchez (CA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), John Garamendi (CA), Colin Allred (TX) and Sylvia Garcia (TX). Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (NY), will lead the Democrat on the new subcommittee.

Jeffries selected Jim Hines (CN) as top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL) as Democratic leader on the new select subcommittee on strategic competition between the United States and China. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) will be the party’s top official on a Covid subcommittee.

The chaotic 118th Congress has a nickname, the Seinfeld Congress because it’s a show about nothing. After four long days in selecting a speaker, the House has focused on establishing new select committees designed to grind GOP axes and eliminating Democrats from committees. On Groundhog Day, the Judiciary Committee, run by Jim Jordan (OH), devolved into an hourlong debate about saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Gaetz’s amendment allows members to invite “inspirational constituents” to lead the pledge before each committee meeting. He objected, however, to David Cicilline’s (RI) amendment on the amendment to prevent “insurrectionists” from leading the pledge. During the ensuing shouts, the House GOP’s official Twitter account tweeted out the outdated 1892 version of the Pledge of Allegiance, which was written by New York socialist Francis Bellamy, without the reference to God added during the Cold War in 1954:  

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the committee’s ranking member, pointed out that representatives already said the pledge on the House floor every day. He said:

“I don’t know why we should pledge allegiance twice in the same day to show how patriotic we are.”

A long discussion about saying the pledge led to unanimous acceptance of the amendment.

In the Covid subcommittee hearing about fraud in Covid spending, Ocasio-Cortez asked why research in spending was in only three blue states—New York, California, and Pennsylvania. She asked Gene L. Dodaro, comptroller general for the Government Accountability Office, about this “methodology” and how he would carry out the investigation. He explained a sample of “18 states” would be a good approach. Ocasio-Cortez said she plans to “dig into this report” and cited Arizona’s expenditures of “$1.6 billion to individuals to stolen identities to get unemployment insurance benefits” as well as fraud in Lousiana and Kentucky, home of the committee chair James Comer (R-KY). The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee didn’t investigate any of these states.

GOP members of the Covid subcommittee include anti-vaxers Greene, Debbie Lesko (AZ), Ronny Jackson (TX), Rich McCormick (GA), and Michael Cloud (TX). Other members—Brad Wenstrup (OH), John Joyce (PA), Marianette Miller-Meeks (IA), and Nicole Malliotakis (NY) received generous donations from pharmaceutical companies.

On the Senate side, the minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pulled Rick Scott (FL) off the Commerce Committee after Scott tried to beat McConnell out as leader and Mike Lee (R-UT) who supported Scott. McConnell said he didn’t take the challenge personally, but Scott accused him of retaliation after he got a text about the decision. Scott asked who decided to move him and was told that McConnell was solely responsible. Ron Johnson (WI) moved to the Finance Committee from Commerce. The loss of committee seats came from the election of an additional Democrat to the Senate in the 2022 midterms.

At least three House Republicans—George Santos (NY), Anna Paulina Luna (FL), and Andrew (R-GA)—wore pins shaped like assault weapons during National Gun Violence Survivors Week. Luna also opposed Democrats’ attempt to ban firearms inside the Natural Resources panel hearing room. Last week, Cory Mills (FL) distributed grenades to fellow members with a note stating they were “inert.” 

Michael Steele talked about the “boogeyman politics.” As he said, the U.S. doesn’t have socialism, as Republicans want to eradicate, but it does have fascism—settling a partisan score like dictators do.

February 1, 2023

DeSantis Betrays Black History Month

In the area of good news, Australia found its missing radioactive capsule about the size of an aspirin lost from a radiation gauge on a truck along an 870-mile-long highway in the western Outback. The gauge was used in equipment at the Gudai-Darri mine in northwestern Australia. The capsule was reported missing to the government almost a week ago, nine days after its loss when the gauge was unpacked and inspected, and then to the public two days later. Search parties had used portable radiation survey meters detecting radioactivity almost 12 miles away, but authorities were concerned that it had become lodged in a car tire. Within days, new detection devices were added—radiation portal monitors and a gamma-ray spectrometer, attached to moving vehicles and finding the capsule 120 miles from the mine. 

On January 31, the day before Black History Month, the GOP Oversight Committee disbanded the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, focusing on issues including voting rights, freedom of assembly, and criminal justice reform policies. No one knows why except the committee chair James Comer (R-KY) said it was efficiency.

On the first day of Black History Month, pressure from DeSantis for education to follow his personal ideology and his MAGA on his way to the presidency forced the College Board to water down its Advanced Placement (AP) African American studies course, cutting curriculum if DeSantis said it had a left-wing bias.  One change was removing names of Black authors found problematic by Florida officials. Florida objected to subject references to LGBTQ+, feminism, reparations, “intersectionality,” and “Black Struggle in the 21st Century.”

In the revised syllabus, the College Board, a nonprofit that oversees the AP program nationwide, removed the names of several Black authors identified as problematic by Florida officials. The sections about the struggle in the 21st century and the Movement for Black Lives were removed, replaced by suggested research project topics that are “not a required part of the course framework that is formally adopted by states.” Intersectionality is mentioned only in sample project topics “for illustrative purposes” as is “the reparations debate.” The new version doesn’t mention the word “queer” although Black lesbians are mentioned. A new section is called Black conservatism.

Last month, DeSantis announced that the new AP course could not be taught in Florida high schools because it violated the governor’s anti-“woke” law, highly restricting any discussions of race in schools. A member of the College Board said that this watering down is the only way to get African American studies into the schools.

In an analysis of the AP course before it was gutted, history scholar Joshua Zeitz determined DeSantis had cherrypicked the curriculum for a distorted view and described it as “history” instead of the interdisciplinary curriculum with college-level matter, typical of these “advance placement” classes. About the 102 topics in four broad units, Zeitz wrote:

“The curriculum makes a lot more sense if you consider its topline objective: arming students with a range of analytical and critical thinking skills. If you believe that the purpose of a quality education is to prepare kids to thrive in the real world, the AP African American Studies is a win. The subject matter is rigorous, and the texts and other source material are challenging. Isn’t that exactly what a twenty-first century education should look like?”

The course explains a particular theme, in this case the African American experience, through multiple academic perspectives including history, literature, music, philosophy, economics and art.  Zeitz’s description of the content—before it was watered down–is enlightening.

DeSantis’ criticism that white students will be made “uncomfortable” by actions of earlier generations “assumes that students are especially brittle and incapable of dealing with the subject matter,” according to Zeitz. The purpose of this curriculum like all AP courses is five skill sets in critical thinking, analysis, and argument vital for college and the 21st century workforce. Its preparation involved over 100 college syllabi from all eight Ivy League universities and 20 state flagship institutions vetted by focus groups and conversations with 132 college faculty members and 28 college and high school students. Once again, however, as in Texas determining the content of textbooks, the AP curriculum is being designed by politicians, not quality educators.

Some teens are learning about the flaws in their education. Catherine Caruso’s article in Teen Vogue describes the results of a report from the Zinn Education Project, relating the lack of education about the Reconstruction era immediately following the Civil War which was dominated by white supremacists trying to suppress the growth of Black influence. She explains that outdated, inadequate, and sometimes racist propaganda in textbooks are initiated by the Dunning School, Columbia University scholars who portrayed the Reconstruction as a massive failure. They pushed the belief of the noble cause in the South, “as if they were fighting for tradition rather than fighting to maintain human bondage,” according to an educator with the Zinn project. The false narrative was continued by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The DeSantis repression of all education outside the white Western heterosexual history runs parallel to the suppression of education for Blacks during slavery—except now the ideology is for all students.

A February 2022 poll found only 27 percent of people think U.S. history curriculum accurately reflects the Blacks’ role in the nation.

In another of DeSantis achievements that warps education to his own philosophy and woos MAGA supporters, he is converting New College of Florida, a liberal arts school in Sarasota, into a far-right Christian institution through his six appointments to its board. Thanks to the new majority of conservatives from state appointments, its president Patricia Okker was fired at the first meeting of the new board, and DeSantis’ close ally Richard Corcoran was made its new interim president. Despite protests of “separation of church and state,” the Board meeting began with a Christian prayer.

The board did not follow the wish of Christopher Rufo, new board member and creator of the “woke” myth, in abolishing the school’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence and remove diversity statements and training, but the proposal is scheduled for future policies. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion divide people,” according to Rufo; another new board member, Mark Bauerlein, said that many people see DEI as coercive. The board will also consider “terminating” all employee contracts.  DeSantis wants $15 million for faculty recruitment and scholarships at New College with $10 million recurring funds to build the school in his own image. In 2022, New College was rated #3 in public liberal arts schools in terms of a student’s return on educational investment and median earnings.

On the same day, DeSantis proposed changes to the state’s university system including the removal of funding for all diversity, equity and inclusion programs and start tenure review of professors. Last year, DeSantis and state Republicans put GOP allies in top university posts and limited how race could be taught.

DeSantis hasn’t limited himself to higher education in restricting education. Manatee County School District, with 50,000 students, is one place trying to cope with the state’s “anti-woke” law. Teachers are trying to avoid a third-degree felony by removing all books from the shelves of their classroom libraries until they are vetted by a state-trained media specialist.  

Books aren’t alone in being censored. Shortly before Holocaust Remembrance Day last Friday, a principal told a Bucks County (PA) school librarian to remove posters with a quote by Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group. In January, the board voted 6-3 for Policy 321 blocking teachers from “advocacy activities” and displaying inclusive symbols such as Pride flags in their classrooms. The librarian has worked in the district for 30 years, and his ninth-grade daughter had emailed him the quotation saying that it “reminds me of you.” In this case, an uproar from the community led to the district allowing the posters to be put back up. Last summer, the district had hired a PR firm for $15,000 a month “to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” largely because of “executive decisions” targeted at the LGBTQ+ students.

A quotation from Isaac Saul’s online newsletter, Tangle:

“They are people in the mold of everyone from Ron DeSantis to Elon Musk who pay a great deal of lip service to free speech, free thought and the open debate of controversial ideas. These same folks often criticize language policing and the overly sensitive left, while insisting that uncomfortable, offensive ideas — and sometimes even misinformation — should all be discussed out in the open in the name of free expression and free thought.”

In 1647, the colonies in the new world charged and hanged the first woman for “witchcraft” perhaps because of flu in the town or her husband wanting a piece of land that she inherited. Over 40 more people faced trial during the next 15 years for their relationship with Satan; nine women and two men were executed. After 376 years, “witches” may be exonerated if Connecticut passes its bill, requested for years; last year Massachusetts cleared the name of one woman convicted of witchcraft in 1692. She wasn’t executed, but her conviction wasn’t overturned for 330 years. Hopefully, these trials don’t return with the new far-right Christian majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.  

January 31, 2023

Supreme Court, House Attempt to Cover Up Scandals

Another ethics scandal has hit the Supreme Court: the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts makes millions of dollars each year by placing lawyers in firms that argue cases before the high court. One of Jane Roberts’ recruits, Ken Salazar, was put into a firm arguing over 125 times before the Supreme Court that has no binding ethics rules. The chief justice refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics and simply watches as “Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” according to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the center-right American Enterprise Institute. A month later, Ornstein said, “This is [Samuel] Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”

The House is trying to match the Supreme Court in corruption and lack of ethics. Its new select subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal collection is thus far composed of a dozen GOP malcontents with one more added unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) increases the number. Leader is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chair of the Judiciary Committee that heads up the subcommittee. The purpose of the subcommittee is to attack the DOJ, FBI, and other intelligence departments as well as the Department of Education and big tech. 

Members include two House GOP leaders, Elise Stefanik (NY) and Mike Johnson (LA); others are Chip Roy (TX), Dan Bishop (NC), Chris Stewart (UT), Kelly Armstrong (NC), Darrell Issa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Greg Steube (FL), Kat Cammack (FL), and Harriet Hagerman (WY) who defeated Liz Cheney last year. McCarthy made the choices to pay for the votes he received in the speaker battle; Bishop and Roy consistently voted against McCarthy for the first 11 of the 15 ballots.

Without Democratic members at this time, the committee is already discussing subpoenas skipping any requests for documents and witness testimony because they don’t need any Democratic support. Jordan’s targets include a current and a former FBI employee, two people associated with the National School Boards Association, and the former head of the disbanded DHS Disinformation Governance Board.

Like Fox, the “weaponization” targets will not be anything detrimental to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and other Republicans. Although Jordan plans to go after recently indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal as part of his attack on that agency, he tried to avoid questions about investigating DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort for his ties to the same Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, also connected to McGonigal.

Another issue that will be ignored in the “weaponization” subcommittee is the failure of special counsel John Durham to investigate DDT after receiving tips about his campaign’s involvement with Russia during his 2016 campaign. On Meet the Press,  Jordan said:

“The Durham investigation is not done. The Mueller investigation is done. And what did he conclude? No collusion, no conspiracy, no coordination.”

That’s one misrepresentation and one lie. The final Durham report is due in February, almost two years before the end of Jordan’s leadership of the Judiciary Committee, and Robert Mueller refuted the “no collusion” statement. Fortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be investigating the omission of former AG Bill Barr’s and Durham’s decision to follow the tips about DDT’s possible involvement with Russia. 

Jordan holds his first Judiciary Committee hearing on February 1, this one about the border followed by the same subject with the Oversight Committee on February 6. Instead of a hearing, DHS wants a member briefing bringing threats of subpoenas from Comer. The GOP also has a problem with a lack of consensus especially between two Texans, conservative Roy and more centrist Tony Gonzales. All during the impeachment resolution of DHS Secretary Mayorkas from Pat Fallon, another Texas representative. Arizona’s Andy Biggs plans to lead impeachment articles against Alejandro Mayorkas this week.

On February 1, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing on government funding because of Covid, focusing on “waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” The Democrats have already studied this issue, but the GOP now has a Covid subcommittee to examine the intent of making viruses and pathogens more deadly or contagious with the evidence-free GOP theory that Covid was intentionally created in a lab.

In the $5 trillion of stimulus aid starting in spring 2020, the federal government may have awarded $5.4 billion in Covid aid to small businesses with ineligible Social Security numbers. Of over 33 million applicants studied, more than 221,000 ineligible Social Security numbers on requests for small-business aid were identified, and 70,000 of these applications were approved despite questionable data. Grift began with two programs created under DDT, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

On February 8, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing about Twitter restricting users from sharing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden and continue with questions about a gallery selling Hunter Biden’s art. Chair James Comer (R-KY) plans to subpoena the Treasury Department after it rejected requests for documents. He declares his investigation “credible,” but conspiracy believers on the committee such as Paul Gosar (AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Green (GA), and Scott Perry (PA) raise skepticism.

Another hearing is from a new subcommittee to look at “strategic competition” between the U.S. and China with a focus on supply chains and social media, specifically TikTok. Although the decision was bipartisan, Democrats warned that the GOP may incorporate conspiracy theories and xenophobic language. Other foreign policy investigations are the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the oversight of aid to Ukraine.

Jennifer Rubin predicts failure from the GOP hearings because Republicans don’t have evidence for their so-called Democratic scandals. Explaining the convoluted right-wing conspiracy theories will take a lot of time and then not be accepted, like Jordan’s attempt on Meet the Press to explain how the FBI “targeted parents. Host Chuck Todd asked Jordan if the FBI should not “look into a death threat when an elected official gets a death threat.” Jordan struggled with the answer.

While the weaponization committee wastes time, the rest of the Republicans have been preparing useless bills that they will pass before sending them into the void. This week, they will address the horror of socialism as the “bill of the month,” according to FreedomWorks providing dark money to the Freedom Caucus members. The resolution outlines “the history of socialism as a failed ideology that has resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people worldwide.” Congress has no Socialist representatives.

A quote in the bill attributed to Thomas Jefferson about not taking money from hard workers to share with others is actually by French economist and philosopher Antoine Destutt de Tracy. The resolution also criticizes DDT’s BFF Kim Jong Un, leader of the North Korea.

Abandoning its concern for deaths, another bill this week will declare “The Pandemic Is Over,” removing healthcare workers from any vaccine mandate and eliminating the right for federal employees to work remotely. Within three years, Covid killed at least 1.1 million people in the U.S. and 6,759,755 worldwide. It is the eighth most common cause of child deaths in the U.S. Thus Republican bills supposedly stop the non-existent deaths from socialism but open up the possibility of millions of deaths from Covid. 

Bills and hearings show how Republicans have abandoned their campaign issues of crime and inflation. Jordan said that he has no interest in police killing the people they are employed to protect which reached an all-time high in 2022. 

When the House finally elected a speaker, it had 11 “ready-to-go” bills for the first two weeks. By the fifth week, they passed only six, some of them toothless resolutions. Some of them have disappeared because of GOP dissension. Primary subjects: two anti-abortion bills, one anti-IRS bill that raises the deficit, and one limiting oil withdrawal from emergency reserves that increases inflation.

Meanwhile, the Senate is waiting for Republicans to decide what committees they wish to join. Or maybe Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is just stalling.

Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“Republicans] prefer to spend time trying to defund the Internal Revenue Service, criminalize abortion providers, threaten economic meltdown, and beat the drum on ‘scandal’ investigations. Instead of working to clamp down on crime, House Republicans want to investigate those prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, armed insurrectionists and ride to the rescue of the former president, the target of multiple criminal investigations.”

For the last six months of 2022, while the GOP was hyping inflation, the rate declined with gas prices levels before the Ukraine war. Wages went up in December. The first bill passed in the House’s new GOP Congress was to increase the deficit by $100 billion by defunding the IRS; another one stopped President Joe Biden from reducing gas prices. Crime rates had already fallen in 2022, four percent lower than the previous year. This year, however, mass shootings are already up, but Republicans will never concern themselves with reducing those disasters. Crime is useful to Republicans only for its racist image as campaigns depict Black candidates as “different” and “dangerous” plus darkening their skin, hoping to make them appear more menacing.

But there’s really big news today in the House: McCarthy convinced Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to recuse himself from his two committee assignments until he no longer was a “distraction.” That’s a long story for another day.

January 30, 2023

Videos Released, Past Comes Home to Roost

Since seven criminal charges including second-degree murder were made against the five Memphis police officers who beat and killed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols, three city fire department personal and two emergency medical technicians have been fired. Two other police officers have also been relieved of their duties, and an elite unit to create “peace” in neighborhoods, Scorpion, has been discontinued. On January 7, police pulled Nichols from his car when he was almost home, declaring with no evidence that he was recklessly driving. Their abusive treatment led him to run, the officers viciously beat him, and he died in the hospital three days later.

More questions exist:

  • Do more officers face charges or other discipline, including officers at the scene of the beating who did nothing to stop it?
  • Will there be a reckoning for the police chief?
  • What happens with the two Shelby County deputies put on leave after the sheriff watched the videos?
  • Is nation-wide police reform possible?

Nichols was a FedEx worker who lived with his parents and four-year-old son. Suffering from Crohn’s disease, he weighed only 145 pounds. He loved skateboarding and photography with his own website. At the time of his killing he was headed home on his break to have dinner with his family. 

Last week the world saw the vicious brutality of law enforcement in released videos of Nichols’ treatment. They begin with police yelling at Nichols and pulling him out of his car and culminate with continued beating fewer than 100 yards from his home while he repeatedly cried, “Mom!” After the beating, Nichols waited 22 minutes for an ambulance. The officers who beat him stood around talking during that time, and one of them laughed while Nichols was slumped on the ground.

No video footage exists of the initial traffic stop. The officer was driving a brand-new unmarked car not equipped with dashboard cameras. Police chief Cerelyn Davis did not know why the police officer was using that car. Without proof, officers accused Nichols of reckless driving on the wrong side of the road and of grabbing for their guns. 

Officers involved in the beating were part of a 14-month-old elite unit of 40 officers called Scorpion to saturate high-crime neighborhoods with police presence. The unit’s activities were first suspended, awaiting an examination by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the DOJ, and then shut down the day after Davis praised its “good work.”  

The Memphis police website states best-practice policies to reduce police killings and requires officers to de-escalate situations—“eliminating the need to use force”—when possible and stop excessive violence by other police in all instances. Yet Scorpion officers have a history of excessive force before killing Nichols. 

An analysis of the videos shows police shouted 71 commands in 13 minutes, often confusing, conflicting, and sometimes impossible to obey with escalating force. They told him to show his hands although they were holding them and ordered him to get on the ground when he was already on the ground. According to police training, one officer issues clear and specific commands with professional, proportionate response to any perceived act of defiance. Memphis officers continually did exactly the opposite, shouting at Nichols and beating him. Details are here.

The video of Nichols’ beating wasn’t the only horrifying one released last week. Last Friday, a court made public the body cam of the brutal attack on 82-year-old Paul Pelosi, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (R-CA) husband, by a Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) supporter while Pelosi was alone in their California home. When officers opened the door of the home on October 28, 2022, both Pelosi and his 42-year-old attacker had a hand on a hammer. The officer ordered the attacker to drop the hammer, and the attacker refused, grabbed the hammer from Pelosi, lunged toward him, and struck him in the head. An officer said, “Oh shit” before two of them rushed into the home and handcuffed the attacker. Nancy Pelosi said her husband is “making progress, but it will take more time.” His surgery had been “to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.”

The attacker admitted the attack and said he was there to take the speaker hostage. “If she f**king lied, I was going to break her kneecaps.” He repeated GOP lies such as the speaker and Democrats spying on DDT’s campaign. On his 911 call, Paul Pelosi subtly indicated he was in danger. The attacker’s online history shows his engagement with extremist and Trump-aligned narratives such as the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Far-right members, including new Twitter owner Elon Musk, spread homophobic rumors about the attacker and Pelosi, accusing them of being in a drunken quarrel. Donald Trump Jr. supported the scurrilous lie by posting an image of underwear and a hammer with the caption it was a Halloween costume for Paul Pelosi. Musk gave a “sort-of” apology after the video was released, but Fox worked hard to maintain its original sleazy lies.  

In a phone call to a TV reporter after the video’s release, a man identifying himself as the attacker said he was upset because he didn’t hurt more people, that he “should’ve come better prepared.” The call came from the jail where the attacker is incarcerated. A blog under his name and registered to his former address last August is filled with fact-free claims against Jews, Blacks, media, and transgender people. Posts are pro-DDT and anti Democratic. A Canadian citizen, he is in the U.S. illegally.

In more QAnon theories, North Dakota legislators are including language about students masquerading as animals in the proposed discriminatory anti-transgender bill. Despite no proof that schools install litter boxes for these students, the strange myth won’t die. Thus, thanks to six Republicans, the bill states that schools cannot “adopt a policy establishing or providing a place, facility, school program, or accommodation that caters to a student’s perception of being any animal species other than human.” Schools using students’ “preferred gender pronoun, if the perceived or expressed gender is inconsistent with the student’s” sex assigned at birth can face up to $500,000 in fines. A rejected bill should have imposed a $1,500 fine each time a person refers to themselves with the “wrong” pronoun.

Last week, the DOJ indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal and former Russian diplomat and interpreter Sergey Shestakov for money laundering and violating sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. According to the indictment, the oligarch hired the two men to investigate another unnamed Russian oligarch, Vladimir Potanin, Deripaska’s competitor for controlling a large Russian corporation. Worth $27.5 billion and the second wealthiest man in Russia, Potanin may have been trying to take over Norilsk Nickel, one of the world’s largest producers of nickel and palladium.

Both McGonigal and Deripaska were involved in the FBI investigation of DDT’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia; McGonigal’s email about having “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton helped set off the investigation when the FBI tried to recruit Deripaska for a potential informant. Deripaska was still paying McGonigal and Shestakov money for “dark web” files worth over $500 million in October 2021, the month before the FBI seized their personal electronic devices.

McGonigal may have been behind DDT’s election in 2016 with a search warrant tying candidate Hillary Clinton with Anthony Weiner emails only 11 days before a tight election. Later FBI director James Comey explained he sent the warrant because he feared leaks from the FBI’s New York field office where McGonigal was stationed because of the investigators’ hostility to Clinton.

Two days before FBI director James Comey publicly reopened its probe into Clinton’s emails, DDT insider Rudy Giuliani announced “some pretty big surprises” and bragged about sources in the FBI. The New York Times devoted two-thirds of its front page to the story, and Clinton lost the election. Nothing incriminating was found, but that announcement was too late after all the hype. On October 31, the NYT also cited unmade “intelligence sources” in reporting “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia”—which, of course, was false. The election was November 8, 2016.

Polling expert stated that FBI disclosures cost Clinton as many as three to four percentage points, at least one point, which would have given her Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—and the Electoral College. The NYT never apologized for its egregiously faulty mistakes, and DDT is running for president again.

Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) succeeded in getting Deripaska’s sanctions lifted in 2019, followed by the announcement of a Deripaska-linked aluminum plant in Kentucky, where McConnell then won his reelection. The plant wasn’t built. Three years earlier, McConnell had refused to sign a bipartisan statement warning about Russian election interference.

The principal of the Virginia school who ignored the possibility of a six-year-old having a gun at school has been reassigned to another school, and the vice principal has resigned. Earlier in January, the boy shot his first-grade teacher in the chest; she was released from the hospital after over two weeks. The family said the gun, which the boy’s mother purchased, was secured. They also said that a family member usually goes to class with the boy but didn’t on that day. The district school board voted to remove the superintendent as of February 1 with $502,000 in severance.

January 29, 2023

DDT Struggles with Campaign Opening

Once upon a time, the media wouldn’t even use the word “lie” when reporting on former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) despite the 30,000+ lies he told while in office. Those days are over according to the Time headline, “Trump Delivers Bitter Speech Filled With Falsehoods in New Hampshire.”

DDT kicked off his 2024 presidential campaign with his keynote speech at the GOP annual conference when he “pushed false claims about his own electoral losses and suggested foreign leaders shared his doubts about the outcome of the 2020 vote.” He also defended the “fringe benefits” that he provided the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, benefits that put the CFO in prison on 15 felony counts. A possible new meme: “Every day in Joe Biden’s America is a cruel April Fools Day.” In 2016, DDT lost New Hampshire by one-third of a point; his loss in 2020 was seven points. 

Yet DDT is 12 points behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with New Hampshire’s likely GOP primary voters. Heading to South Carolina, DDT said, “I don’t think we have competition this time… We are so far ahead in the polls.” The specter of DeSantis may have been the reason he ranted against transgender rights and critical race theory in South Carolina, tossing in terms like “left-wing radical racists,” “perverts,” and “Marxist hands” as threats to “our children.”

In South Carolina, the rally was missing the state GOP chairman, five GOP U.S. representatives from the state, U.S. Senator Tim Scott who could also run for president, and another potential candidate, Nikki Haley who served as governor before DDT appointed her UN ambassador. DDT’s team had refused to promise them that showing up would not be an endorsement.

The big change in his campaigning includes smaller venues, a high school gymnasium in New Hampshire and a group of 200 at the South Carolina capitol.

Ben Jacobs wrote about DDT’s problem with self-branding  as he tries to be an incumbent and an insurgent. Yet he’s neither—and looks weak, lacking in energy and a coherent message. His meandering speeches didn’t help as he moved from the Taliban’s treatment of dogs to how he’s a millionaire real estate developer but not much of a cook. Next to somewhat moderate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT denounced RINOs, and the crowd later heckled Graham. Immediately after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, Graham announced he was through with DDT before almost immediately returning to the fold. Next to Gov. Henry McMaster, he denounced electric vehicles that provided jobs, with McMaster’s help, for over 70,000 people in the state.  

DDT’s rants are repeats about the possible release of the report from the Fulton County (GA) to the public. His three-page meltdown on Truth Social included accusations of “Marxists, communists, racists, and RINOs” and repeated lies about a rigged election and “stuffing Ballots, all caught live on tape.” He concluded with the falsehood that “The Election in Georgia was rigged and stollen [sic]. We have all the evidence needed. That is the crime!”

In addition to some in DDT’s base questioning his 2024 run, he also faces at least five criminal and civil investigations about his behavior before and during his time in the White House as well as his continued strident demands to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election. Interviews with 59 of the 168 RNC members reveal dozens who don’t want DDT to be the 2024 candidate; only four provided complete endorsements of him.

Former DDT associates are also in trouble. Lawyer John Eastman, who created DDT’s illegal rationale for overturning the 2020 election, faces possible disbarment, losing his law license, and 11 disciplinary counts by the California State Bar for pushing lies about election fraud. Some of those lies were testimony to a Georgia state Senate panel in early December. Last year, the FBI executed a search warrant and seized his phone, and last summer he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before the Fulton County grand jury. In testimony before the House January 6 investigative committee, he invoked the Fifth about 100 times.

In the contempt charge against a former DDT aide Peter Navarro, another co-conspirator to overturn the election, DDT waited until a week before Navarro’s trial was scheduled to begin on January 30 to support Navarro’s claim that DDT wanted him to declare executive privilege in not testifying. DDT’s communication created an indefinite delay in the trial while the court’s arguments wrangle about Navarro’s immunity.

Traditionally tightwad DDT donated $1 million from his Save America PAC to Arizona’s circus election “audit” intended to overturn the election in that state. He attempted to hide the source, moving money to allied group Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) and then to a shell company, American Voting Rights Foundation (AVRF) newly registered in Delaware, which gave the funds to contractors and people involved in the audit. The $1 million was the only donation AVRF, controlled by CPI entities, has ever received. Top CPI officials include DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows and other senior DDI insiders. DDT had given Meadows $1 million for CPI soon after the January 6 insurrection.

The GOP vice-chair of the Maricopa County board of supervisors, Bill Gates, said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” at the source of the funding for the Maricopa County audit. Arizona law prevents electoral candidates from funding vote recounts which must be financed with taxpayer dollars, a purpose the Cyber Ninjas served. Gates said, “It is highly hypocritical for the Arizona state senate to have allowed the audit to be funded in this fashion.” He added that the $1 million was funded by small donations to DDT’s PAC with no transparency.

New records reported by an Arizona newspaper show DDT receiving direct updates from people in the audit at the coliseum and his allies pressuring the lead contractor on the timing of reporting the findings. Cyber Ninjas founder Doug Logan used to private messaging system to discuss taking secret donations from DDT.

New York AG Letitia James’ civil lawsuit accusing DDT and his family of widespread bank and tax fraud uses the state’s Executive Law 63 (12) which DDT has been unable to refute. Shut down by judicial threats to sanction his lawyers, DDT dropped two lawsuits against James, one in Florida and the other in New York. The law empowers James to stop any business from “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts,” seeking potentially lucrative damages and canceling its official business certificate. James has asked for $250+ million, revoking Trump Organization’s business credentials, and a ban on it from borrowing from banks in the state. Another New York AG used the same law to take down the for-profit scam of Trump University. A law professor said that DDT’s only defense is claiming everyone lies about real estate values.

DDT has hired another top trial attorney, Joe Tacopina, to attack Mark Pomerantz for writing in his resignation letter to Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg that DDT was “guilty of numerous felony violations.”

Because DDT hates to lose, he lied and said he won the Senior Club Championship at his golf courses in West Palm Beach although he couldn’t play the first round. He was attending the funeral of Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway. DDT counted a strong round two days before the tournament began for his claim of a five-point lead on the second day, better than any players posted in the first round the day before. DDT posted his magnificent win on Truth Social and used it to explain why he wouldn’t need a physical exam: winning at golf is “MUCH tougher.”

Last week, the media addressed the probability that DDT would return to Facebook after Meta lifted the two year suspension following his incitement of the January 6 insurrection. A major reason would be to get donations, especially after his big donors aren’t enthusiastic about him. Even with small donors, FB may satisfy DDT’s needs after recent shifts in donations. A GOP campaign worker said that investment returns for advertising in 2020 could be as high as 200 percent. Two years later it was 80 to 90 percent, and midterm candidates in 2022 “struggled to raise money online,” according to veteran GOP digital operative Eric Wilson. He said the FB has moved from a “golden goose” for DDT to a “bronze goose,” especially if Meta shuts down DDT if he displays the same abuse of the social media platform as other two years ago.

Even without DDT’s leaving his Truth Social for Facebook, people on DDT’s social media are complaining about the ads on the venue. Because major advertisers avoid Truth Social, users are exposed to ads described as “miracle cures, scams, and fake merchandise,” as the New York Times wrote. GOP donors financed Truth Social with $37 million, and the platform goes through $1.7 million each month along with problems with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Online marketer Maxwell Finn, spending over $150,000 for ads called the platform “frustrating” and “bare bones,” lacking even basic functionality.

DDT’s return to FB means more election conspiracy theories and QAnon content, possibly driving off those who don’t tolerate extremism. Until then, I’ll enjoy some of the beauty that people share on Facebook, such as this photograph sent by a friend in Alaska—Seattle on a cloudy day.

 

January 28, 2023

Catch Up, Happier News

An addendum to the January 6 sentences: the man who pepper-sprayed officer Brian Sicknick and other police was sentenced to prison for almost seven years, 80 months. Sicknick died the next day from two strokes. The sentenced man has already been in jail for almost two years. The man who provided the pepper spray pled guilty and was sentenced to time served. About 140 police officers were assaulted at the Capitol on January 6, and federal prosecutors have arrested over 950 defendants in over two years since the attack.

News about the Supreme Court’s failed search for the leaker of the draft to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion almost completely illegal in over half the U.S. reveals another coverup. Selected to independently validate the investigation, so-called expert Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary, has longstanding, undisclosed financial ties with the high court; it privately contracted with The Chertoff Group for security assessments. Chertoff also has personal connections to justices through his Ivy League education, prior judicial clerkships, and positions in two Bush administrations.

Two horrifying videos released this past week showed the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) in their home while the speaker was in Washington and the vicious beating of Tyre Nichols, an innocent 29-year-old Black man, near his Memphis home by five police officers. Nichols died three days after the beating. For today, however, some more cheerful news from the past week.

The 2.9 percent annualized growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter was better than expected, and consumer spending, about 68 percent of GDP, stayed positive. A slide in housing pulled down the GDP, but private investment and government spending helped growth. Jobless claims fell by 6,000 to 186,000, and durable goods orders increased in December. Inflation, which hit a 41-year high last summer, dropped from receding price increases. The news may stop more Fed interest rate increases. The news may discourage rumors of a recession in 2023.

Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that banning abortion would be “very damaging” for the economy because some women couldn’t finish school and increase earning potential. Many women would also not be able to contribute to the workforce at a time when it is short on workers, and they are more likely to live in poverty or need public assistance.

In a speech last week, President Joe Biden said:

“Jobs are the highest in American history, and wages are up, and they’re going faster than inflation. Over the past six months, inflation has gone down every month, and God willing, we’ll continue to do that. Manufacturing jobs continue to grow stronger than any time in the last 40 years. And I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this is all evidence that the Biden economic plan … it’s working.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had claimed that Biden is willing to negotiate with him in the debt ceiling fight, but Biden has also said that he won’t negotiate with House Republicans who want drastic cuts to the budget, possibly to Social Security and Medicare. He asked, “Why in God’s name would Americans give up the progress we made for the chaos they’re suggesting?”

During his speech, Biden said:

“If Republicans want to work together on real solutions and continue to grow manufacturing jobs, build the strongest economy in the world and make sure Americans are paid a fair wage, I’m ready. But I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip.

“The very notion that we would default on the safest, most respected debt in the world is mind-boggling. I’m not going to get into the reckless threats that take the economy hostage in order to force an agenda that’s going to only limit American workers and weaken us internationally. I won’t let that happen.”

As Biden pointed out, 25 percent of the current national debt was built during DDT’s administration. Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during that time.

The DOJ disrupted a cybercriminal group making ransomware attacks on over 1,500 victims worldwide and extorting millions of dollars in payments. The attacks have increasingly affected hospitals, schools, and government services. A court order seized two back-end servers belonging to the Hive ransomware group in Los Angeles and took control of the group’s darknet website. The DOJ has blocked about $130 million to Hive since July. In the past 18 months, FBI personnel have gained access to Hive’s control panels for victims to have keys unlocking their encrypted systems. Hackers tied to some ransomware attacks have been based out of Russia, including those attacking the Colonial Pipeline in 2021 which halted gas supply to the East Coast.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order closing over 350 square miles of the Superior National Forest in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to mineral and geothermal leasing for 20 years. Although the order is “subject to existing valid rights,” Twin Metals Minnesota, owned by the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, lost its rights last year when the department rescinded DDT’s decision to reinstate federal mineral rights leases in the northeastern Minnesota region. The area is the most-visited federally designated wilderness area in the U.S., drawing over 150,000 visitors from around the world who paddle its 1,200+ miles of canoe routes. This tourism contributes over $17 million to Minnesota’s economy, and three Ojibwe tribes have treaty rights in the area covered by the moratorium.

A cake is not a form of speech, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled when it turned down an appeal from Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop. In 2021, a judge in Denver determined that Phillips illegally discriminated against Autumn Scardina (left) by refusing to make her a birthday cake because she is transgender. He again used his religious beliefs as rationale as he did in an earlier case that went to the Supreme Court. In its narrow decision, the high court didn’t state that Christians were exempt from anti-discrimination laws. After the 2018 ruling, that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had expressed impermissible hostility to religion, Phillips said he would make a birthday cake for anyone. He agreed to make the pink cake with blue frosting until he discovered Scardina is transgender.

Anyone who thinks the Republicans in the House are not prioritizing important issues isn’t alone. Only 27 percent of adults approve of the new House’s priorities while 73 percent think lawmakers aren’t paying attention to the nation’s most important problems. A 67 percent majority disapprove of GOP House leaders compared to 59 percent disapproval of Democratic leadership. Even 42 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independent are dissatisfied with their own party leaders compared to only 22 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners’ disapproval of their own party leadership in the House. Of those expressing an opinion, two-thirds have a negative view of the new speaker, McCarthy.

Almost half of those polled, 48 percent, give economic issues, especially effects of inflation on housing, food, and gas prices, the most important issue. Instead of working on that, the Republicans passed a bill to limit draws from Strategic Petroleum Reserve which could raise the price of gas. Other top issues include immigration (11 percent), gun violence and crime (6 percent) government spending and taxes (6 percent), and political divisions or extremism (5 percent). Covid was mentioned by only 1 percent of those surveyed. Only 15 percent believe things in the country are going “very badly,” less than half from last summer’s peak of 34 percent and lower than any time since May 2018.

People living in red states should take note of what Biden has done for them: two-thirds of the announced green-energy projects in the Inflation Reduction Act, opposed almost entirely by Republicans, are in GOP-held congressional districts, 21 out of 33. Billions of dollars are devoted to expanding domestic manufacturing in clean energy and reducing dependence on Chinese imports. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who said climate change is “actually healthy for us,” blasted the bill but declared she’s “excited to have jobs” in her district from the bill. She gave credit, however, to Gov. Brian Kemp.

In writing about the rural resentment developing with right-wing extremism, Paul Krugman stated that the shift might reverse if rural lives can be improved with the restoration of rural communities and if these voters will give politicians credit for the improvements. Katherine Cramer attributes this resentment to perceptions that rural areas are ignored by policymakers, don’t get the fair share of resources, and are disrespected by “city folks.” Yet policymakers have always given special treatment to rural people since the New Deal of the 1930s such as farm subsidies which became 40 percent of total farm income under former Dictator Donald Trump. Other benefits are for housing, utilities, and business. Rural areas have more seniors who get Social Security and Medicare, and the “welfare,” Medicaid and food stamps denigrated by Republicans, are more in rural areas where people pay less in federal taxes. If the GOP carried out their plans, they would hurt their own constituents, especially those in the rural areas.   

January 27, 2023

RNC Elects McDaniel, Seditionists Found Guilty, Culture Shocks Conservatives

Ronna Romney McDaniel, Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) niece, won her fourth round for another two years as RNC leader with 111 votes, becoming the longest-serving chair since the Civil War. Opposition candidates were pillow guy Mike Lindell and California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon who represented former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. (Despite a shortage of votes, Lake still claims her “victory.”) Dhillon had promised a place at her table for Lindell, who received four votes. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who pulled his candidacy, got one vote.

The quality of candidates was at fault in the 2022 midterms, according to McDaniel, a position supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). RNC members weren’t taken in by Dhillon’s conservative alliance and far-right media appearances. One of them said he didn’t care what Tucker Carlson or Charlie Kirk thought. Dhillon’s endorsement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did bring her 11 of her 51 votes from the 168 committee members, and one Dhillon supporter said the 168 members “know more about that the party needs going forward than the rank-and-file voter back home.” DeSantis had called for “new blood.”

The struggle boiled down to whether the members voted for status quo or change. McDaniel’s win may have been helped by the lack of DDT’s endorsement and Dhillon’s abrasiveness. Colleagues considered her messages to follow her GOP supporters spam as well as rude or threatening. Her apology for the messages in a closed-door session were “backhanded,” according to one member. The response Dhillon’s response after McDaniel’s win matched her reported earlier behavior when she said GOP leaders would face widespread distrust in the party members throughout the country.

Talk radio host John Fredericks called the conference exclusive after only one candidate, Lindell, showed up for his public debate. Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi said McDaniel’s victory would tell the rank-and-file Republicans “that their voice doesn’t matter.” Charlie Kirk told Fox:

“It shows that a majority of the members of the RNC have contempt for the people that put them there. I cannot in good faith tell our audience… to keep giving money to the RNC. In fact, I tell them not to.”

The contentious two-month debate leading up to the election criticized fiscal management, poor results in recent elections, and the character of those on all sides of the contest. Dhillon allies raised questions about McDaniel’s compensation and benefits from being chair; McDaniel supporters questioned the high fees that Dhillon’s law firm charged both DDT and the RNC—over $400,000. At the conference, Dhillon’s top advisor threatened a voting member who changed his allegiance to McDaniel with losing votes in a race.

White supremacist MAGAs may not approve a resolution passed at the conference condemning anti-Semitism and specifically Kanye West and Nick Fuentes although the resolution also accuses Democrats—Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Cori Bush (MO)—for “their antisemitism beliefs.” The resolution is correct about West and Fuentes but not the others.

In 2021, McDaniel had said she would not seek a fourth term, but she announced her candidacy on November 14, 2022, and called members to tell them why she should continue as the RNC chair. Her “Vision for Unity” promotes improvement of GOP “legal ballot collecting,” new tactics for small-dollar fundraising, and greater youth vote. She also promised unity within the party.

In McDaniel’s first term as chair, the Republicans lost 40 House seats and the Senate majority. In her second term, the GOP lost the White House to Joe Biden, and Congress stayed Democratic. She was part of DDT’s attempt to overturn the election and helped recruit MAGAs for the faux elector plot. Her third term with the 2022 midterms experienced DDT’s highly improbably candidates: the House has a majority of only four members, two of them with campaign finance improprieties, and the Senate picked up an additional Democrat. And the party remains divided.

McDaniel has been a good fundraiser, but big-ticket Republicans are becoming disillusioned with the party. Another of the chair’s responsibility is to work with states in elections. Although McDaniel is a DDT supporter, the MAGAs would have preferred Dhillon. Unifying the GOP will be like herding cats; the next two years will see how skillful McDaniel is.

Another struggle for conservative Republicans came from the accusation against Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU). A male staffer who worked for Herschel Walker claims Schlapp groped and fondled his genitals at length while the staffer was driving Schlapp after buying him drinks at two different bars in Atlanta last October. Most Republicans are reluctant to attend this year’s ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action. Only Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) enthusiastically declared he would attend. Schlapp has quietly disappeared from the Fox network, which published only one story about the accusation after the staffer filed a lawsuit on January 17 against Schlapp who had denied the sexual abuse. The Fox network has made no other mention of either Schlapp or his wife Mercedes although they were frequent guests prior to that time.

More insurrectionists are receiving guilty sentences from their actions on January 6, 2021. Four Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the second trial with the same sentence. This sentence requires proof that defendants planned to forcibly prevent the execution of a U.S. law. The purpose of attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to overturn Joe Biden’s election by blocking the counting of the electoral votes. The conviction carries up to 20 years in prison, but no date has been set for sentencing.

The government has ten convictions for the charge since the insurrection, and five Proud Boys leaders are currently on trial for the same charge. Oath Keepers had also organized a large number of guns and other weapons at a nearby hotel in Arlington (VA) to use if they managed to further escalate the violence.The man photographed with a foot propped up on a desk in then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office on January 6 has been found guilty of eight federal crimes including four felonies. Sentencing is scheduled for early May; he also faces 20 years in prison for the top charge of obstructing an official proceeding. After the trial, the man’s lawyer claimed it was unfair because Washington, D.C. is not a “state” and the population is mostly “Biden voters.” The man declared he wasn’t part of the protest, that he was looking for a bathroom. He had a stun gun tucked in his pants while in Pelosi’s office but said he thought it didn’t work because it had been washed in the shower. Prosecutors later accused him of lying and being “belligerent” during the trial.

Conservatives are creating more culture wars. Xbox consoles now have an optional feature to save power with a “Shutdown mode,” and radio host Jimmy Failla appeared on Fox & Friends to accuse the company to trying to “recruit kids into climate politics” by “going woke.”  Anchor Ainsley Earhardt agreed with Failla, “You’re right, they’re going after the children.” The majority of gamers possibly using the Xbox are adults: those under the age of 18 comprise only 24 percent of its audience. Faila said the “point of video games [is] for kids to be kids.” He ignored the money savings on electricity bills.

Another crisis for the right wing is the type of shoes depicted on M&M characters and whether they are sexy, causing Mars corporation to retire its 69-year-old “spokescandies.” Much of the hue and cry came from Tucker Carlson, traumatized after knee-high boots and stiletto heels were exchanged for useful footwear. He ranted about Mars changing the appearance of all the female-designated figures “until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with anyone of them. That’s the goal. When you are totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity.” Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted, “You… wanted to have a drink… with an M&M?” In another rant, Carlson said the green M&M is “now a lesbian maybe” and the purple peanut M&M is “obese.” All of the M&M characters are shaped like round candies with stick legs and arms. As usual, the Twitter responses to Carlson’s sexually-frustrated statements were dark humor.

Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee felt that the topic was important enough to officially tweet a complaint about M&Ms and a Disney amusement-park ride that was overhauled because of its racist undertones. 

 

Fox, which started the entire “anti-woke” war against Mars regarding M&Ms, got punked by A&W with a statement that its mascot Rooty the Bear would have to wear pants. In outrage over the A&W statement, Cheryl Casone talked with Maria BARTIROMO  about “the latest company bowing to woke.” Except the A&W declaration was a joke. And Fox Business fell for it. 

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