Nel's New Day

July 20, 2021

COVID: A Plague of Unvaccinateds

In the U.S., infections over a seven-day average increased 140 percent during the past two weeks, and almost 80,000 new cases were reported last Friday after a daily count had stopped to 10,000. At the same time, hospitalizations and deaths each rose by 30 percent. The original COVID-19 triggering the pandemic in 2019 had an RO rating (r-naught) of about 2.4, meaning an infected person would infect two or three others. The new Delta variant, now 83 percent of new cases, has an RO up to 8. 

The largest percentages of infections in small towns like Missouri’s Osage County with a 940-percent increase in cases in the past two weeks. The increase has an adverse influence on the economies of areas, driving people further into poverty. With people working remotely, more rural states invite better-paid workers to relocate to their area, but unvaccinated people will discourage that attempt. More highly educated people won’t prefer areas where people reject science and education—and areas where people are willing to kill themselves and their neighbors by not being vaccinated.   

Republicans blame President Joe Biden for the surging numbers of COVID infections because he doesn’t beg Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to endorse vaccinations. Yet DDT declared “people are refusing to take the Vaccine because … they don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News, which is refusing to tell the Truth.” DDT’s followers support DDT by not being vaccinated.

Some GOP governors are nervous about the high number of virus infections and deaths in their states. Arkansas’ Gov. Asa Hutchinson bribes residents to be vaccinated and travels around to tell people why they should get their shots. Utah’s Gov. Spencer Cox said that “propaganda” against vaccines is “killing people” and established a website to debunk disinformation such as vaccines changing DNA, causing infertility and miscarriage, and containing microchips or tracking devices. Missouri’s Gov. Mike Parsons flipped from rejecting a push to vaccinate people to incentives and encouragement for vaccinations after the state’s average number of new cases almost tripled within the past month and the number of hospitalizations doubled. Some of the state’s counties have vaccinated under 20 percent of their residents because of GOP denial.

Other GOP governors like South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, who has designs on the White House, reveled in the vaccination rejection. Per capita, the state’s 2,000 deaths are almost six times the rate of deaths in Vermont which has a high vaccination rate. Another presidential wannabe, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, blocked mask mandates, denigrated expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, and falsified statistics. Declining hospitalization numbers suddenly leaped 73 percent in a month. In the last two weeks, the state, with 6.5 percent of the nation’s population, accounted for 20 percent in the new cases.

People have bizarre, false reasons for avoiding the vaccination, far beyond the bland excuse that it’s too “new”:

Three in ten—30 percent—of Republicans, DDT voters, and conservatives believe the federal government is using microchips inserted in vaccinations to track them.

Ninety percent of people who refuse to be vaccinated think they will have adverse side effects—even die—although about 99 percent of people dying from have not been vaccinated. About 635,000 people without vaccinations have died in the U.S.; four people have did from vaccinations.

Allowing people to kill themselves and others with vaccine disinformation is a First Amendment right. That one from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Fox network leads conservative mainstream media in pushing vaccine disinformation with Tucker Carlson, who considers being vaccinated an “intimate” act, at the head of the pack. Yet the company has a type of “vaccine passport” for workers returning to the offices. All of them received emails stating Fox had “developed a secure, voluntary way for employees to self-attest their vaccination status: by self-reporting dates they received their shots and vaccines used.” Fox explained that this “FOX Clear Pass” “will assist the company with space planning and contact tracing.” Employees not providing this information are required to have “daily health screening through WorkCare/WorkMatters.”

Even with asymptomatic cases, people can suffer long-term problems, a reason for being vaccinated. A study in Lancet reported up to one-third of COVID-19 survivors experience a mental health or neurological disorder with serious and possibly long-lasting effects within six months of an infection. The most common conditions are mood and anxiety disorders followed by insomnia and neurological complications—visual and auditory disturbance, vertigo, and tingling sensations. The loss of smell and taste or distorted vision can be distracting, and “brain fog” can be extremely annoying.

Dr. Rob Davidson, a Michigan emergency room physician, wrote an op-ed about his frustration about media vaccine disinformation fueling cases of COVID from lack of concern on the part of those who contract the disease and their refusal to isolate themselves. Davidson faces “anger, outrage, or denial” as well as refusal to follow hospital policy by wearing a mask. He blames “Fox News and other right-wing media outlets for poisoning the minds of millions of Americans with the deceptive propaganda they spray into living rooms 24/7” and reports medical professionals throughout the U.S. facing the same problems. Serious illnesses led to available vaccinations in his rural community with this tragic result:

“Our regional vaccination rate is discouraging, with only half of the population fully vaccinated. One predictor of vaccine refusal is Fox News viewership, which is heavily Republican and conservative. Indeed, Fox News is lurching increasingly to the right to win back the Trump voters it has lost to upstart right-wing outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network. Fox hosts’ current line on Covid-19 and vaccines includes wrongly equating vaccine outreach efforts with forced vaccinations and accusing community campaigns—also wrongly—of harvesting private medical information.”

Davidson reported that GOP leaders supporting vaccinations received death threats and “vaccinations are triggering shouting matches.” He wrote, “[Patients and their families] should listen to their family doctors for medical advice, not Sean Hannity—whom researchers have connected to higher infection rates—or Tucker Carlson, who suggested with zero evidence that Covid-19 vaccines don’t work.” He concludes:

“Time is not on our side. We must do what science and evidence tell us demonstrably work to defeat Covid-19: Wear a mask, get vaccinated and stop watching Fox News.”

A few Fox people may be turning around after last week’s New York Times article about the opposition of Carlson and Laura Ingraham to health experts’ recommendations for being vaccinated. Sean Hannity gave an impassioned plea for vaccinations; Steve Doocy and Bill Hemmer also supported vaccinations, much to the dismay of Brian Kilmeade. On Fox & Friends, Kilmeade said that not being vaccinated was the person’s “choice” to die and the government has no role in protecting the population.

An excellent piece by Heather Cox Richardson discusses how, according to the Preamble to the Constitution, the government is responsible for protecting people. FDR’s New Deal created a safety net, and Dwight Eisenhower declared that the government must protect people from disasters. He called his version of the New Deal “a middle way between untrammeled freedom of the individual and the demands of the welfare of the whole Nation.” One of his supporters explained that “if a job has to be done to meet the needs of the people, and no one else can do it, then it is the proper function of the federal government.” Abraham Lincoln said, “The legitimate object of government is ‘to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, for themselves.’…Making and maintaining roads, bridges, and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools; and disposing of deceased men’s property, are instances.”

Those GOP values disappeared with Ronald Reagan when Republicans called them “socialism,” and Republicans provided big business and wealthy people with massive tax cuts while voting against help for people in need. They opposed the American Rescue Plan before taking credit for its assistance and then fought the infrastructure bill providing millions of jobs and funding human infrastructure including childcare. Now Republicans attack vaccinations saving the lives of people who would most likely vote for them.   

The latest attempt to block vaccinations comes from a fringe group, “America’s Frontline Doctors,” that filed a motion in federal court against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to stop all vaccinations for COVID-19 in the U.S. Their outrageous assertions are here.

A piece by John Stoehr compares vaccination-deniers to hostage-takers who believe in a “political advantage … that ‘us’ has over ‘them.’” The more they are asked to be vaccinated, the more they say no. Anti-vaxxers claim they are heroes seeking individual freedom with no laws and regulations; villains “think politics is about problem-solving, … the death of their liberty.” Freedom to conservatives is to do or not do anything they want, but they don’t object to not having the choice to murder someone, get a driver’s license, or travel abroad without a passport. Stoehr writes:

“[Liberty] can be what we do together as a political community for the sake of individuals but also for the sake of the common good. It’s about the equitable use of the government for achieving such ends, especially solving collective problems, like a pandemic that has killed nearly 625,000. That means making people, by force if needed, do what they should.”

Republicans will do anything to make sure that Biden fails, including avoid vaccinations, but without COVID vaccines, the conservative population will shrink.

July 19, 2021

Congress, Courts behind U.S. Rights

[Update: More good news since yesterday’s report on President Joe Biden’s work:

  • AG Merrick Garland has blocked federal prosecutors from seizing journalists’ records in leak probes, reversing earlier policies violating First Amendment rights for the press. Exceptions include concern about reporters working for a foreign power or terrorist organizations and situations with imminent risks such as kidnappings and crimes against children.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also agreed with Biden’s policy permitting unaccompanied children to enter the country in an exception to the pandemic regulation allowing any migrants crossing the border to be expelled.
  • A new guideline from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prevents them from the ability to “detain, arrest or take into custody individuals known to be pregnant, postpartum or nursing.”]

Congress:

The Capitol Police, who arrested no one at the January 6 insurrection, arrested Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and eight others in a small group of primarily Black women peacefully protesting in favor of the Senate passing voting rights legislation. Beatty spoke on the Hill before a march into the Hart Senate Office Building Atrium where she was zip-tied by the police officers for “demonstrating in a prohibited area on Capitol Grounds.” By June 21, 27 states enacted 28 laws this year to restrict access to voting while another 61 bills move through 18 state legislatures, 31 passing in at least one chamber. After Texas passed its highly restrictive bill in the Senate, Democrats left the state House without a quorum, going to Washington, D.C. and lobbying senators to support the House voting rights act. Because of the filibuster, the U.S. Senate requires 60 votes of the 100 senators to debate the House bill.  [Photo by Jose Luis/AP]

Objecting to fascist speeches, people in three West Coast locations blocked QAon Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene from public venues. The duo protested on a Riverside sidewalk to oppose vaccinations after turned away there as well as in Anaheim and Laguna Hills. Gaetz, investigated for sex-trafficking, and Greene, threatening to execute House colleagues, cried “cancel culture” to a crowd of about 100. 

Seven GOP senators asked Biden to repeal trade barriers, including tariffs, set up by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Congressional members, who never objected during DDT’s term, included the most conservative lawmakers: Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, Utah’s Mike Lee, and Nebraska’s Deb Fischer.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) not only gave Democrats credit for the financial windfall his state receives from ARPA but also told constituents his state would never get it again if he had his way. He said: 

“Cities and counties in Kentucky will get close to [$700] or $800 million. If you add up the total amount that will come into our state, $4 billion. That’s twice what we sent in last year.”

Last year, McConnell told states they should file for bankruptcy—something most likely legally impossible.

Before a Congressional summer break, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff originally appointed by DDT, testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing about the 2022 Defense Department budget. Accused of “critical race theory” being taught in military academies, he called “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read.” Milley said he wanted to learn about white rage to understand what “caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America…” He asked his questioners, “What is wrong with understanding?” and continued by talking about antebellum laws leading to “a power differential” with Blacks who “were three-fourths of a human being when this country was formed.”  On Fox, Laura Ingraham proposed defunding the military if it spreads a “far-left Marxist racist ideology,” and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) agreed with her.  Gaetz tweeted a proposal to defund the FBI before deleting it.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is being criticized for holding up confirmation on key appointments for the national security team, especially Bonnie Jenkins, named as under secretary of State for arms control and international security affairs. U.S. and Russian officials will meet on July 28 to discuss nuclear nonproliferation talks with Jenkins the senior official. Cruz is singlehandedly blocking a dozen State appointees until Biden sanctions the pipeline delivering natural gas from Russia to Germany and Europe. 

Earlier this year, New York suspended the law license of Rudy Giuliani, DDT’s former lawyer, for his plethora of election lies both in and out of court. Now the DC appeals court has suspended Giuliani from working as an attorney in the city “pending outcome” of his New York situation in New York. Because of his lies “to courts, lawmakers, and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer” for DDT his campaign, Giuliani’s “conduct immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law,” according to the court. Giuliani promised to stop making statements about the election in his legal capacity but continued to lie.

Courts:

Sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is claiming that he incited the insurrection on January 6 as part of his government responsibilities. When Brooks was finally served with the lawsuit after three months, he lied about the manner of being served, as video proves.

A federal judge earlier dismissed a case from two Colorado lawyers alleging a vast conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election by Dominion Voting Systems, but he is now considering discipline against the lawyers for filing a frivolous claim, allowing themselves to be used as “a propaganda tool” by DDT for “just repeating stuff the president is lying about.” Earlier last week, a federal judge in Michigan skeptically questioned nine lawyers about the “stolen” election, including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood in a similar hearing. Pending sanctions hearing include one in Wisconsin where the governor asked a judge to order DDT and his lawyers to pay legal fees for the post-election litigation. Attorneys who lie in court with frivolous motions are required to pay the opponents’ legal fees. 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided 5-2 that state election officials may not immediately force people off the voter rolls. Some of the 72,000 subjects, trimmed from 232,000 in 2019, still live where they registered. The court determined local clerks, not the state commission, are responsible for any removal, according to state law. Officials admit they use a system mistakenly flagging people who move and lists which shouldn’t be the final word while not knowing how many errors have been made but want accuracy.

Once again, a Massachusetts court is permitting a case against ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies to move forward. Since 2017, over 20 state and local governments have brought liability lawsuits against major fossil fuel companies, but the Massachusetts case is the first to overcome a dismissal motion. ExxonMobil faces similar cases of consumer fraud from AGs in Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota, and the District of Columbia. The company’s board of directors also has three new members supported by a climate-focused activist investment firm.

A federal judge temporarily stopped a Florida law penalizing social media companies for blocking a politician’s posts, suggesting the law violates the First Amendment. The judge described the law, intended to force DDT’s return to social media after his removal y the January 6 insurrection, as “an instance of burning the house to roast a pig.” Other conservative states consider similar laws to regulate tech industry. NetChoice stated appreciation to the court for not being forced to provide “racial epithets, aggressive homophobia, pornographic material, beheadings, or other gruesome content.”

Survivors and families of victims of a 2019 California synagogue shooting may continue with their lawsuit against the manufacturer of the attacker’s weapon and the gun store selling the gun. The judge ruled that Smith & Wesson demonstrated negligence in its marketing the assault-style semiautomatic rifle modified to automatically fire. The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) protects gunmakers from litigation for their weapons used in criminal acts but not to negligence or deliberate violations of state laws. In 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School victims could sue the manufacturer of the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle used for the crime, and the family of a woman killed in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, killing 53 people, can sue manufacturers of the weapons.

A federal court decided in favor of Hawaii law blocking people from carrying arms openly in public, ruling that states may restrict open carry without violating the Second Amendment. George W. Bush appointment Judge Jay Bybee stated in the opinion that the “right to carry arms openly in public [is not] within the scope of the Second Amendment.” A “may issue” state, Hawaii may issue a special carry license showing they have “reason to fear injury” to “person or property.”

The trading app Robinhood has been fined $70 million for “widespread and significant harm suffered” by its customers because of its “false and misleading” information, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Millions of Robinhood customers suffered losses during the app’s outages in March 2020, preventing them from capitalizing on historic stock market gains. Harmed customers will receive $12.6 million of the $70 million. The app was fined $1.25 million in 2019 and $65 million in December 2020 for breaking rules requiring brokerages to get the best possible share prices for customers.

Despite all the GOP attacks on Biden, his overall YouGov favorability is at 58 percent.

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

Throughout the U.S., 88 percent of families have received the first direct deposit for their children, $300 per child under the age of six and $250 for each child from 6 through 17. Previous tax credits excluded the poorest third of children because parents didn’t pay income taxes, but families making $400,000 would receive full payments. Now the poorest families receive the money, but the top limit is $150,000 for families. If everyone deserving the checks receives them, child poverty can be reduced by 40 percent—even more with stimulus checks. More details here.

Protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest include a ban on large-scale old-growth logging and road development on over nine million acres. Part of one of the world’s remaining relatively intact temperate rainforests has been the only national forest with industrial old-growth logging.

To eliminate a huge backlog of asylum cases, AG Merrick Garland reversed DDT’s immigration policy preventing immigration judges from closing low-priority cases and removing them from their dockets. Because of DDT, 1.3 million immigration cases wait to be heard in the U.S.

Garland also temporarily blocked executions of federal inmates, because of exonerations after death sentences and discrimination against minorities. He has directed a review of recent policy changes. After almost 20 years of no federal executions, DDT’s AG Bill Barr executed 13 people, more than in all 50 states combined.

The DOJ eliminated former AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to allow asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. Garland also vacated a decision during DDT’s term refusing asylum to a Mexican man targeted by cartel La Familia Michoacana because the man’s father refused to sell the cartel’s drugs in his store.

Biden plans to increase the U.S. annual refugee admissions cap of 62,500 for the current fiscal year to 125,000 next year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide gender-confirmation surgery through its health-care coverage by reversing a 2013 ban. According to the VA, fewer than 4,000 veterans would have this surgery although it is estimated that about 134,000 veterans are transgender. The VA is also changing the name from LGBT health program to LGBTQ+ Health Program for inclusiveness.

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will provide $3.2 billion for clinical trials of antiviral medication treating COVID-19 and other potential epidemic viruses. Treatments, called protease inhibitors which inhibit an enzyme needed to replicate the virus in human cells, could be distributed by the end of 2021. Protease inhibitors are already used for HIV and hepatitis C.

Federal loans will be cancelled for 18,000 ITT Technical Institute students defrauded by the for-profit chain, shut down in 2016. During DDT’s term, 34,000 former students petitioned to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment” but were refused. ITT Tech consistently lied to students about their ability to transfer credit to other schools as well as about employment and earnings prospects after graduation.

Biden’s new executive order limits noncompete clauses designed to keep low wages by blocking tens of millions of private-sector employees from moving to better-paying jobs for any reason. These clauses, originally to keep employees from passing along corporate secrets, are now for even low-wage services with no justification. Another part of the sweeping order to open up “fair competition” tries to lower prescription drug prices and cracks down on internet service providers by promoting competition. Biden said:

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without.”

Biden called for the return of net neutrality rules to block broadband companies from selectively blocking, slowing, or speeding up websites. He also called for greater scrutiny of mergers, including those already completed and “killer acquisitions,” the takeover of competitors showing potential.

Another Biden order permits independent repairs on devices and equipment, including electronics, and removes repair monopolies. It also directs federal agencies to create consumer- and worker-protecting rules across the broadband, agricultural, transportation, and technology industries. More than half the states have considered right-to-repair legislation, protecting rights for people to fix their own possessions.

Three million adults will not be removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and one million children will continue to have free school lunches. A judge had ruled against DDT’s changes, and ARPA expanded Snap benefits by 15 percent through September 2021.

Biden dropped DDT’s ban on apps TikTok and WeChat to conduct a review of apps tied to foreign adversaries.

The Defense Production Act Loan Program must guarantee its funds can be used only for direct Covid-19 response and medical-related supply chain projects after DDT used it as a military slush fund.

DDT’s war on so-called “sanctuary cities” is over after Biden repealed the former policy preventing federal funds from those areas.

At the end of DDT’s term, his Energy Department changed the limits on water flow so he could wash his “beautiful head of hair.” Biden reversed DDT’s rule, allowing the same limits established by the industry in 2013.

Last week, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on the $3.5 trillion budget during the next ten years. Federal resources will go into helping climate change, healthcare, and family-service programs. Assistance goes to the U.S. drought and fire crises, individuals, and the economy, ravaged by the pandemic, moving toward long-term growth. Part of the budget expands vision, hearing, and dental benefits for Medicare recipients.

Last week, Biden’s nominee for the Census Bureau, Robert Santos, testified before the Senate that has still not confirmed over 200 of Biden’s appointments. The abrupt departure of Steven Dillingham in January after complaints about his attempt to rush out an incomplete data report on noncitizens has left the position vacant since then. The bureau will release data by August 16 despite Alabama’s federal lawsuit about the bureau’s privacy protection plans which has been blocked by the court.

Biden can replace the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency overseeing mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mark Calabria, appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has been replaced by a deputy agency director Sandra Thompson as acting director. Calabria wanted to privatize the government agency that helps people to buy their homes and keeps mortgages low.

Biden also removed Rodney Scott, head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Earlier this year, Scott, a supporter of DDT who appointed him in all his policies including building the wall, refused to comply with Biden’s administration directive to stop using the term “illegal aliens” for undocumented immigrants. He claimed the Border Patrol would lose public trust if agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

DDT’s Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul is also gone. DDT’s anti-union pick to curb benefits, 74-year-old Saul, was fired after he refused to resign. His DDT-appointed deputy, David Black, resigned upon request.  Saul delayed stimulus checks for millions of disabled people by trying to make them reestablish their eligibility for benefits. A former women’s apparel executive and current GOP donor, he served on a conservative think tank calling for Social Security cuts. Saul declared Biden couldn’t make him leave, but last year the Supreme Court ruled that the president can remove directors, for example that of the consumer Financial Protection bureau. When Saul wouldn’t leave, his access to agency computers was cut off in his Katonah (NY) home where he worked for 17 months. Saul’s acting replacement, Kilolo Kijakazi, is undoing Saul’s policies and planning the safe reopening of the department’s 1,200 field offices.

Biden has two infrastructure bills, a bipartisan agreement with enough GOP support to pass investing $579 billion in new spending for domestic needs and another one for “human infrastructure” from healthcare to housing to be passed through the reconciliation process like the ARPA Act last March. Originally, the former plan would be partially financed by enforcing IRS debts by the wealthy, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the GOP doesn’t want to make rich people pay their owed income taxes, up to $1 trillion for the past year, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.    

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate GOP comrades to walk out and deny a quorum for the reconciliation bill. His tactic requires all 50 GOP senators to leave, and the departure of any one of them reduces the number necessary for a majority of the vote.

DDT’s White evangelical base is rapidly shrinking, according to the 2020 Census of American Religions, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year.

People are far more optimistic and happier now, according to a new Gallup poll: 59.2 percent say they’re thriving, and 73 percent said they experienced enjoyment for much of the previous day. The first is the highest since the poll began 13 years earlier, and the second is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic almost 18 months ago.

July 17, 2021

Democracy at Risk in Voting Supression

[Updates for COVID: Trying to stop all vaccinations, the state of Tennessee fired the top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, after she included a state law in a public memo last spring: teens in Tennessee have permission to receive medical care without parental consent. A Tennessee Supreme court case made that ruling 34 years ago. Only 38 percent of people in Tennessee are vaccinated, ten percent under the U.S. average. The firing came a week after Fiscus received an anonymous package containing a dog muzzle. 

Unvaccinated people have caused COVID cases in the U.S. to rise almost 70 percent in the past week. Hospitalizations increased 36 percent from two weeks ago, and deaths rose 26 percent for a weekly average. Center for Countering Digital Hate reports that 65 percent of the anti-vax disinformation on social media platforms comes from only a small group of people called the “Disinformation Dozen.” The government can do something about these falsehoods without violating free speech because algorithms can legally be regulated.]

The Cyber Ninjas, starting their fake ballot count on April 23, are still in Arizona to communicate more disinformation about the 2020 election and reinforce QAnon conspiracy theories. Last week, a Maricopa County judge permitted a lawsuit by the watchdog American Oversight to obtain documents related to this thus-far 12-week attempt to find votes for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The judge also dismissed the GOP attempt to combine the American Oversight lawsuit with one from the Arizona Republic’s request for public records.

The fake process was to have been completed within two weeks, but the Ninja’s conspiracy theory leader, Doug Logan, has continued to stall. Now he’s demanding the county’s computer network routers and time to send workers door to door, asking voters if they participated in the election. In addition, he wants images of mail-in ballot envelopes, security keys for administrator-level access to voting machines, a diagram of the county’s router network, and a copy of the county’s voter-registration database. 

Releasing the routers and their passwords would cause significant security risks, according to Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who wrote about risks to “critical evidence,” “private information,” and other “sensitive, confidential data belonging to Maricopa County’s citizens—including social security numbers and protected health information.” GOP supervisors listed problems that would “cripple County operations.”

In early May, the DOJ had told the Arizona Senate their plans to canvass voters by going to their homes could violate federal law. At that time, Fann had put this plan “on hold.” Keeping the ballots in private custody may also violate the law, according to the DOJ although Fann claimed strong security to ensure no ballots or other voting documents were destroyed. Observers have noted serious security problems, and everything the Senate gave the Ninjas has been moved at least four times.

Arizona GOP senators and their president Karen Fann are still insistent on giving Logan what he wants for his “review” of the 3,387,336 ballots already recounted and audited by experienced professionals. At last week’s Judiciary Committee “hearing” about Logan’s requests, only two Republican senators could question Logan and others working on the audit; Democrats could only sit in the audience. Soon after the meeting, the committee GOP vice chair, Wendy Rogers, tweeted, “DECERTIFY THE ELECTION.” Jeremy Stahl gave a complete report on the event in Salon, and Logan and Ben Cotton, head of the data forensics firm CyFIR, presented disinformation throughout the hearing. 

GOP senators want to block the use of Sharpies to mark ballots for the purpose of “election integrity.” People at the fairgrounds a few miles from the capitol are still counting thousands of ballots, but machines for paper counting and stacking paper are giving them trouble as well as not counting as fast as they wanted. 

Logan may want to continue for a variety of reasons: he wants Arizona’s notoriety and money until more states get suckered in, DDT is coming to Arizona on July 24 for a rally and needs a backdrop, and—perhaps most important—the audit appears to have found nothing wrong when it finished its contracted responsibilities three weeks ago. After the Maricopa County supervisors and state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs gave Logan everything he wanted, he resorted to whining about lack of cooperation. With a new set of demands, Logan avows no report until his demands are met. 

After an “examination” of over three million ballots from the 2020 election, workers confused by 182 cases turned them over for review. Four reviews led to charges of voter fraud but none from people trying to vote more than once. Two cases were about Democrats, and the other two about Republicans. Only one potential voter fraud case about a person who might have been registered to vote in another state was found in the 2.1 million votes from Maricopa County, the source of the audit. Several eliminated cases were people stopped from voting more than once. Even if all 182 cases were fraudulent, which they weren’t, and by Democrats, which they weren’t, DDT would still have lost the state by 10,218 votes. Yet DDT claimed that these 182 review cases were “hundreds of thousands of votes or, many times what is necessary for us to have won.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to investigate the Cyber Ninja company with concerns about the “highly unusual effort to undermine faith in the nation’s election system.” Independent election observers allege the pretend “audit” has violated basic audit standards, including breaking basic ballot security protocols and compromising electronic voting machines costing over $2.1 million to replace. The committee will request such documents from the company as past business deals and the current business arrangement with Arizona state Senate Republicans as well as post-election communications with DDT, his administration and campaign officials, and members of his legal teams including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. Another part of the request is evidence regarding the “fraud” supposedly unearthed or suspected, including bamboo paper ballots and CIA agents involved in any fraud scheme.

Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has asked the state AG Mark Brnovich to investigate election interference by DDT and his allies while ballots were being tallied last fall. Texts and voicemails from the White House, DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and the state GOP chair Kelli Ward attempted to exert political pressure on the Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors’ GOP members to find a majority of votes for DDT in the state. Brnovich supported the state’s new anti-voting bill on the basis of “election integrity,” the purpose of the proposed investigation. Hobbs asked him to refer the investigation to another law enforcement agency if his ethnical duties are in the way of his probing the issue.

On two occasions after the election, DDT tried to contact GOP Supervisor Clint Hickman; Giuliani also made attempts to contact Hickman, hoping to “get this thing fixed up.” Ward told supervisors “to stop the counting,” to delay certifying the results, and to look into whether voting software added votes for Democrats. When they didn’t obey, she called them “unAmerican” and stated they were playing for the “WRONG team.”

The Arizona “fraudit” has a new tactic: change state law for 2022. Voters may legally fix early ballots within five days after Election Day, but the assistant AG Drew Ensign asked a federal appeals to refuse ones that voters forgot to sign and didn’t fix by the night of the election for the 2022 election.

DDT’s “big lie” about a “stolen election” is still working its way through Georgia’s Fulton County where plaintiffs are running out of options to examine 147,000 ballots. 

DDT’s ally, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano has contacted “several counties” for his probe into their ballots that he describes a “forensic investigation” with sweeping requests—all ballots cast in the 2020 election with “all ballot production, processing, and tabulation equipment” along with various “forensic images” of computer equipment and logs of databases. He also wants information on grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life—a nonprofit receiving an influx of cash from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to provide money to cash-strapped local elections offices across the country. Letters threatened subpoenas if counties failed to comply. Mastriano is considering being a gubernatorial candidate. Democratic State AG Josh Shapiro, also considering a run for governor, said his office will defend counties that choose not to comply.

According to John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidate, all the state’s voter fraud, under ten cases, was by Republicans who had their dead relatives vote for DDT.

In Oklahoma, where Biden received under one-third of the vote, legislators tried for a “forensic audit” of ballots, but the state’s chief elections official refused, indicating state law does not permit this process by an outside group. In 2020, DDT won every one of 77 counties in the state, and no state or federal candidate has asked for a recount.

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections also rejected the request from the state’s House Freedom Caucus to inspect “randomly selected voting systems for security issues. A major concern is decertification of voting machines that states will not reimburse.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of John Lewis. People who want democracy to continue in the United States are fortunate that the brave are causing “good trouble”—nonviolent protest, activism and left-leaning politics—to protect our land from fascism and dictatorships.

July 15, 2021

COVID, A Republican Disease

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 8:59 PM
Tags: , , ,

With the highly-contagious Delta variant of COVID providing 58 percent of infections at this time and up from three percent in late May, 41 states and the District of Columbia have an increase in coronavirus cases within the past two weeks, and the number of U.S. infections has begun to triple from its recent low last month. This variant spreads 60 percent faster than the original virus with the opportunity to learn mutation.

While people throughout the U.S. rejoiced in taking off their masks and claiming a return to “normal,” five clusters of unvaccinated people of over 15 million people in the 72.1 percent of unvaccinated people create breeding grounds for deadlier COVI-19 variants. Part of the 30 clusters of countries with the lowest vaccination rates and large populations, are in eight states throughout the southeastern U.S. with a few in the Midwest from Georgia, west to Texas, and north to southern Missouri in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

The strongest divides in those vaccinated and not vaccinated exist between red and blue states. On May 11, only 28.5 percent of people in counties voting for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) were fully vaccinated—80 percent of the 35 percent in counties where President Joe Biden had a majority. By July 6, the comparison was 35 percent DDT and 46.7 percent Biden. Mississippi is only 36 percent vaccinated. Nationwide, 86 percent of Democrats have at least one shot of vaccination compared to only 45 percent of Republicans, and 38 percent of Republicans say they will not get vaccinated. The conservative crowd at last weekend’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) cheered about people not being vaccinated. The GOP politization of vaccines is so severe that health departments are offering secrecy to people who want vaccinations.

In Houston (TX), hospitals are desperately searching for hospital workers especially after an outbreak of 125+ cases from the Delta variant in an area youth church camp—almost one-third of those in attendance. The hospitalization from the Delta variant is 85 percent higher than the Alpha variant.

In Springfield (MO), 58 percent of voters backed DDT. One hospital in the area with a vaccination rate of 35 percent had no more ventilators when the number of patients went from ten to 128 in the last six weeks. The hospital had to shuttle patients to other facilities. Last Saturday was the third straight day of new cases topping 1,000 In Arkansas, higher levels than a year ago with no vaccinations and greater ignorance about the virus.

Missouri is the king of infections in the United States. In 15 of the 114 counties, vaccination rates haven’t hit 20 percent as of the end of June; McDonald County is at 14 percent. Most of these counties are in the rural north-central part of the state or in the southwest near Springfield and “entertainment capital” Branson. Gov. Mike Parsons exacerbated the problem by signing a rushed bill limiting powers of county health officials—no mask mandates or anything that “restricts businesses, churches, schools and other public places” to just three weeks. Public services, including education, cannot require vaccinations. The law refers to all future public health crises. Hospitalizations are rising and patients trending younger—60 percent to 65 percent in the ICU under the age of 40.

Tennessee may be the leader in anti-science, anti-health practices by blocking a former practice of reaching out to minors to get them vaccinated, not only against COVID but also preventing all other vaccines, including the HPV vaccine. The state’s top vaccine official was fired, and Republicans in the state consider eliminating the state Department of Health. In Tennessee, new COVID cases per day more than doubled in the past two weeks, 177 to 418. The average test positivity rate leaped from 2.2 percent to 5.4 percent during that two-week period. Tennessee is the sixth highest state in the nation for infections per capita.

The area of Grand Junction (CO) may join these cluster after 24,000 people attended the Country Jam each day from June 24-26. The district represented by AQnon supporter Lauren Boebert in the U.S. House is undervaccinated at 51 percent and the first location in the state with the Delta variant, causing the positivity rate to rise 2500 percent. Outbreaks throughout Colorado are being connected to this and other state events with large gatherings. Boebert called medical professionals “Needle Nazis” for vaccinating people. Her comparison follows Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) accusation that Biden’s vaccination push is like people who helped Adolf Hitler rise to power. Greene referred to medical professionals as “medical brown shirts.”

Leading presidential wannabe, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who fired a health data collector for refusing to falsify the numbers of infections and deaths in the state, now is raising money for his reelection campaign with drink koozies and T-shirts reading “Don’t Fauci My Florida.” At the same time, the state shows a massive increase in COVID cases with 23,747 new cases last week, an average of twice any other state and increasing the former total of 2.3 million cases, over ten percent of the population and possibly far more. Another presidential wannabe South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, leading a state with four times the rate of new infections as San Francisco County, brags about her leadership. 

Texas bans businesses and government entities from requiring COVID vaccination or recovery documentation.

The number of COVID-19 cases have gone up at least ten percent over the past week in 24 states, but vaccinated people have little threat of being infected; 99.2 percent of the new infections are from unvaccinated people—some of them ignorant about the consequences. In Arkansas, where only 35 percent of the people are vaccinated, a doctor says that people in the hospital with COVID are expressing regret and wish they had gotten the vaccine. In the U.S. 22 percent of the people self-identify as anti-vaxxers.

Fewer than one-third of the youth in the U.S. are full vaccinated. As of July 7, 36 percent of 16- and 17-year olds and 24 percent of children 12-15 have been vaccinated. This population is being hospitalized for the disease with the peak of this epidemic at the end of September.

Republicans haven’t always opposed vaccinations. In November and early December 2020, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) praised the effectiveness of preventing illness on the Fox network. After that time he switched to disinformation about the vaccine’s effectiveness. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) lauded DDT’s “brilliant” Operation Warp Speed for the development of COVID vaccines before flipping on it. Even QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-KY) first honored DDT for saving lives with his vaccines before telling people not to get vaccinated in July. The list goes on.

Much of Fox media denigrate vaccinations, but Newsmax may have offended DDT and Republicans for vouching for vaccines. After host Rob Schmitt called shots “against nature,” the network said guests or hosts not supporting vaccinations “do not reflect the position of Newsmax.” Schmitt, formerly a co-host of Fox & Friends First, described a disease as “an ebb and low to life where something’s supposed to wipe out a certain amount of people.” 

A journalist revealed the bizarre response he received from known vaccine skeptic Tucker Carlson after he asked the Fox News host whether he had received the Covid vaccine. Ben Smith from The New York Times revealed in his column that he texted Carlson: “Did you get vaccinated?”  “When was the last time you had sex with your wife and in what position?” he replied. “We can trade intimate details.”

In May, “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for under 1,200 of the over 853,000 COVID hospitalizations, about 0.1 percent. Only 150 of the over 18,000 COVID deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people, about 0.8 percent. A new Commonwealth Fund estimates the rapid plan by Biden and Democrats vetoed by Republicans saved 279,000 lives and prevented 450,000 additional hospitalizations. DDT and Republicans killed 600,000 people with its leadership vacuum.

Over two-thirds of U.S. adults are at least partially vaccinated, but “pro-life” conservatives—politicians, media celebrities, etc.—are working hard to kill the others by railing against any vaccinations. The refusal to be vaccinated puts everyone in the U.S. at risk of returning to the infections and deaths of 2020.

Even if people don’t die or become hospitalized, a danger comes from “long-haul” COVID with long-term symptoms of nausea, fatigue, ennui, loss of taste and smell, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and perhaps worst of all, “brain fog” which leaves people with vacancies in their minds. And there’s no cure for these issues. Think about that when you refuse to be vaccinated.  

July 7, 2021

Political Grifting, Disasters from Florida, NYC

Two weeks ago, 55 units of a 40-year-old condo building outside Surfside (FL) collapsed. Since then, 46 people have been discovered dead, 94 are still missing, and the remainder of the 12-story building—another 91 more units–were demolished late Sunday evening without residents permitted to get their belongings because of the oncoming Elsa Hurricane. Today the rescue process moved to search-and-recovery with no hope of finding any victims still alive, Work continues 24 hours a day, seven a days a week, despite the heavy winds. Florida is auditing its condominium complexes, and one in North Miami has been evacuated. Residents of Champlain Towers North, built at the same time as the collapsed condos by the same developer, have been offered alternative housing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis denied asking Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to call off his speech in Saratoga (FL) although DeSantis did not attend and DDT did not mention his name. DDT called for a moment of silence for the people who died in the condo collapse but focused his speech on familiar grievances about a stolen election. He found new fuel after the indictment of the Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as he tried to justify fraudulently untaxed payments. Calling himself the “king of tax,” DDT concluded his rants by pretending ignorance about tax law.

“I don’t even know. Do you have to… does anybody know the answer to that stuff? Okay? But they indict people for that!”

Five years ago, DDT bragged:

“I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world… I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone.”

This wasn’t a one-off statement. A few of his other claims:

“By the way, just so you know, I know more formulas, I know more about tax abatements, I know more about taxes than any human being that God ever created.”

“I know every form of tax—believe me—from the [value-added taxes] to the fair tax to—every single form of tax.”

“Look, nobody knows the tax code better than I do. Okay? I know it better. I’m the king of the tax code.”

 “Nobody knows more about taxes than I do—and income than I do.”

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I’m the one who can truly fix them.”

“I know how the tax code works better than anyone, and I am going to fix it so it is fair, and just, and works for you and your family.”

“My understanding of the tax code gave me a tremendous advantage over those who didn’t have a clue about it, including many of my competitors, who lost everything they had, never to be heard from again — never — they were never heard from again.”

DDT did himself no favors in telling the crowd that he had committed the crimes just as his son, Don Jr, implicated DDT on Fox network:

“They say he didn’t pay taxes on $1.7 million worth of stuff over 16 years. So that’s to New York state 8% of that, $136,000. Half of that was because my father paid for his grandchildren’s school in New York City, so you take that out. It amounts to about five grand a month.”

Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst commented on these statements:

“Somewhere, a defense lawyer is beating his head into a brick wall, over and over.”

No one is able to tell DDT the golden rule of being under indictment: shut up. DDT is doing exactly what defense attorneys hate–saying things in public that can be used against him in court. He admitted to the crowd that he carried out these illegal activities and tried to convince people he didn’t know they were illegal.

Not only does DDT brag about breaking the law, but the Trump Organization also kept spreadsheets on all the untaxed amounts. In addition, the business “reduced the amount of direct compensation that Weisselberg received in the form of checks or direct deposits to account for the indirect compensation that he received in the form of payments of rent, utility bills, and garage expenses,” according to the indictment.

The defense for the Trump Organization may minimize its crimes as just a “fringe benefits” case, but the charges are much more than that. According to tax expert David Shaviro, the indictment shows a far higher level of crime

A fraud case with double books, false ones for tax authorities and concealed accurate ones for how much employees were actually paid.

A federal income tax fraud case as well as state and local income tax including through a “conspiracy” with multiple “overt acts” and the commission of “grand larceny” such that the IRS could also indict the defendants.

Weisselberg received $940,000 annually from 2011 to 2018, a base salary of $540,000 and a bonus of $400,000. That was identified on the concealed accounts, but anything he received that was not identified except on the accurate records was then subtracted from this amount for the purposes of federal records such as W-2s and 1099s. Even in the company’s “accurate” records, Weisselberg hid his benefits that were not shown in the ledgers available for tax inspection, directing the removal of “Per Allen Weisselberg” relating to tuition payments paid to a private school for his family members’ tuition payments. Even if an apartment and a car for the convenience of work might be excluded from Weisselberg’s salary, these items aren’t exempt from taxation. Other nonquestionable scams:

  • Private school tuition expenses for Weisselberg’s family members. (Tuition is a permitted “fringe benefit” only if it is available for a class of employees—not just one.)
  • A Mercedes Benz automobile that was the personal car of Weisselberg’s wife.
  • Unreported cash that Weisselberg could use to pay personal holiday gratuities.
  • Personal expenses for Weisselberg’s other homes and an apartment maintained by one of his children including such items as new beds, flat-screen televisions, the installation of carpeting, and furniture for his home in Florida.
  • Rent-free lodging and other benefits to a family member of Weisselberg.

The $400,000 bonus was also fraudulently mischaracterized as a non-employee compensation on Form 1099 instead of the W-2 for salary to use for deductible annual contributions to a tax-deferred pension plan. This Keogh plan is for self-employment income, not employee wages. To hide the fraud, these payments were made by Trump Organizations entities not employing Weisselberg such as the Mar-a-Lago Club and Wollman Rink Operations. He created a false paper trail for businesses for which he did not perform services. In another act of fraud, Weisselberg hid his New York City residency from 2005 through 2013 although he “spent most of his days each year” there as well as keeping an apartment in the city. 

DDT took a direct part in the fraud by signing personal checks from his own account for tuition expenses. He was also instrumental in leasing the apartment “on Weisselberg’s behalf.”

Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive who worked with DDT during the Trump Tower construction in the 1980s, described his history of tax fraud using non-salary compensation benefits. She stated DDT employed some executives as independent contractors so he could avoid his share of payroll taxes and the employee could reduce his income by deductions impossible on salary.

She explained the reason for avoiding taxes on $1.76 million paid Weisselberg in over a decade—a small amount for the huge Trump Organization. DDT cheats at everything because of his sense of entitlement. She said about DDT:

“As far as he was concerned, he could get away with anything… The man’s M.O. was bending and breaking the rules for maximum profit and advantage.”

Another reason for DDT’s fraud was to guarantee Weisselberg’s loyalty. Giving jobs to an employee’s children guarantees the employee won’t go against DDT for fear that the children will lose their jobs. DDT paid for jobs for two of Weisselberg’s children, one for himself and the other with a prestigious company as well as leasing an expensive apartment for one of them. The Weisselbergs were bound to DDT by complicity in breaking the law, perhaps the reason Weisselberg hasn’t flipped on DDT—yet.

Res believes that DDT made the decisions for all the company’s fraud. “He was always in charge,” she wrote. He denied knowing the workers doing the demolition for Trump Tower, most of them undocumented immigrants, were not paid, but, according to Res, “In fact, he had a man on the job watching everything that happened and reporting it back to Trump, every day. Trump knew exactly what was going on.” DDT wasn’t charged for the crimes.

Conservatives, comfortable with DDT’s crimes, call the crimes “political.” The left believe the 15 counts–scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny, offering a false instrument, falsifying of business records, etc.—are crimes and may be just the tip of the iceberg in criminal charges.  

DDT loves being in court when he’s filing the lawsuits, over 4,000 in the past 30 years. His latest targets are Facebook, YouTube’s owner Google, and Twitter for their decisions to “cancel” him. Once again, the cases are amateurish, but he’s using them for fundraising. Plus he made his announcement at his Bedminister resort with faked columns and a purchased seal to create the appearance of the White House Rose Garden. Once again, DDT uses his lies for grifting poor people. 

July 4, 2021

The 4th – “Christian,” DDT’s Ranking from the Bottom, Times Arizona’s Ballots Move

“What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” Frederick Douglass posed this question on July 5, 1852 before the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and ratification of the 13th Amendment. The original U.S. Constitution defined men as “White men” when declaring equalty.

Women couldn’t vote in federal elections until 1920 and lacked other rights until the last part of the 20th century such as obtaining credit cards in their own name. Females still lack reproductive health rights in most of the GOP states.  Indigenous people weren’t U.S. citizens until 1924 and couldn’t vote until 1947. Other ethnic groups were banned from voting on July 4, 1776: Jews until 1828, people with Asian ancestry until 1952, Washington, D.C. residents until 1961, etc. In 1856, North Carolina was the last state to allow non-property Whites to vote. Thus today people celebrate freedom for all on a date that permitted freedom only for property-owning White people.For most of the time since the Civil War, laws and violent actions by Whites stopped Blacks from voting in many parts of the nation. On the last day of the 2021 term, the Supreme Court permitted an anti-voting law so onerous that minorities and the poor will be stopped from voting in Arizona; the law can move to other GOP-controlled states.  

 In the 21st century, evangelicals are declaring the United States was created as a “Christian nation” to block others from fully participating in the “freedom” of the country. In 2019, Marjorie Taylor Greene, now a Georgia-elected House member, told Muslims Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashinda Tlaib (D-MI) they must retake their congressional oath on a Bible after using the Quran for the ceremony. Greene claimed the two women had performed an illegal act by not using a Christian Bible despite of the constitution demanding no “religious text.”

Fewer than ten years ago, the constitutions of eight states prevented non-religious people from being elected to office. Of three groups banned from holding office—ministers, atheists, and duelists—Tennessee plans to allow ministers to be elected. The constitution will not overturn the requirement of belief in God to “hold any office in the civil department of this state.” Duelists are still banned.

Christians, especially evangelicals, often claim the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation,” using their religion to discriminate against groups such as LGBTQ. Yet they are wrong. Although people living in American colonies before 1776 were ruled by a religious nation, the British Empire, U.S. independence led to both religious and political independence. Even Baptists in the 18th century opposed government religion. In the 1790s, however, deism led to evangelical popularity, increasing in the 19th century and leading to the falsehood about a “Christian nation” to overcome secular principles within the nation’s founding.

Protestant Christian principles weren’t used to create founding documents and organize the government; these came from the Enlightenment, Whig, and classical republican theories for a secular governance. The U.S. became the first nation in history to have no religious disqualifications from officeholding and civil engagement, a legitimacy based on popular will and not a higher power.

Most founders were theological liberals who based the nation structure on a rational perspective. The few with more conventional Christian beliefs saw no conflict between faith and Enlightenment natural rights. The Declaration of Independence referred to rights as “endowed by their Creator,” but the U.S. Constitution has no reference to any deity except for the date “in the Year of our Lord,” added after the draft was approved at the Constitutional Convention. The text has no religious tests for officeholders, no national religion, and no interference with free exercise of faith, including lack of faith. Founders believed religion would corrupt the state and the state would corrupt religion.

The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli stated, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The document was introduced by George Washington, signed by John Adams, and unanimously ratified by a Senate half-full of the constitution’s signers. Conservatives in the mid-20th century ignored the Founders’ wishes, adding “one nation under God” to the Pledge and “In God We Trust” as the national motto. Along came the National Day of Prayer and National Prayer Breakfast to keep conservatives happy. In 1984, Richard John Neuhaus converted from being a Lutheran minister to a Catholic priest, declaring Catholicism, declaring politics as “unavoidably a moral concept, and that means the religiously grounded moral convictions of the American people cannot be excluded from the public square.” Evangelical followers absorbed the fiction of the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” Some evangelical leaders’ lies:

  • Fifty-two of the original 55 signers of the Constitution were “evangelical believers.”
  • The First Amendment refers only to Protestant denominations, thus a “Christian nation.”
  • “We do not restrict other people’s right to worship however they choose to worship, but that doesn’t men we treat all religions equally… Every other religion [that Christianity] is an poster, an infidel.”—David Barton
  • Test oaths and Christian establishments in the earliest state constitutions still apply today.

On the 4th of July, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) became 4th—from the bottom—in C-SPAN’s Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership. Only Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan are below him. DDT is even five ranks below Herbert Hoover who caused the Great Depression. He did manage to achieve 44th—bottom—for Moral Authority and Administrative Skills. The GOP has made DDT the “leader” of their political party.

Barrack Obama moved into tenth place from earlier 12th rankings. Abraham Lincoln has ranked #1 since the survey started in 2000 as well as George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt in the next two places.

C-SPAN respondents were kind to DDT: In 2018, before COVID, DDT’s two impeachments, and the Capitol insurrection, a Boise State University survey rated DDT last. Even respondents identifying as GOP-leaning put DDT at 40th.

At #41 in competency, DDT hopes for a return to the White House in a fraudulent ballot count investigation in Maricopa County (AZ). Since the unknowledgeable company, Cyber Ninjas, undertook a “fraudit” of 2.1 million ballots over two months ago, the scandal continues, this one sexual harassment complaints by workers. Several women who complained about the harassment to management said management ignored them although witnesses and victims corroborated another victim’s account.

Complaints addressed more than one offender, but one man particularly cited in the complaint was kept employed for a month after management was alerted about his behavior. He demanded dates from women he considered attractive, engaged in unwanted touching, and made comments such as “you showing off your butt?” When he was rebuffed, he insulted them and made angry outbursts. A witness said:

“This issue seemed to stem from some type of anger over women having authority over him.”

The GOP Arizona Senate President Karen Fann released the following statement from the project’s “lead vendor,” possibly Cyber Ninjas:

“I have never received any written complaints of any type of sexual harassment, nor has a complaint like this been brought to my attention. The closest thing I can think of is I am aware of a single table manager who was cussing a lot, and had apparently told an inappropriate joke. We fired him immediately.”

For the 4th time, ballots and voting machines have been moved, this time to clear the coliseum for a gun show. In May, the workers had to leave for several days of high school graduations. Originally, the “fraudit” was scheduled for one week, starting April 23. A spokesman said the company has “a little more work to do.” An observer watching the process for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the chief elections officer, explained the delay may have been caused by workers trying to reconcile their own numbers. One worker asked why a sound process resulted in so many mistakes.

New procedures are constantly introduced as recently as this past week when workers started weighing all the boxes of ballots, supposedly to find more ballots. Ryan Macias, former acting director of certification and testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said:

“They are scrambling. They are tired. They are making mistakes. And the entire thing is chaotic.”

Hobbs wondered if the ongoing delays are to financially benefit fundraisers to obtain private funds supplementing the $150,000 in taxpayer dollars that the Senate appropriated for the process. Costs are now up to several millions, and Maricopa County must already pay over $6 million for new voting machines after the process compromised the old ones. She is also concerned about the safety and security of ballots as they are frequently moved, this time to a 19,000- square-foot exhibit hall at the fairgrounds building not temperature-controlled for July temperatures.

Last year, both state and federal judges rejected allegations of fraud or irregularities in Arizona’s vote after Joe Biden won the state by about 11,000 votes. In Maricopa County, hand recounts of randomly-selected ballots selected by both political parties and a forensic audit by federally accredited labs verified no widespread fraud. A QAnon film released last week, however, reinforces the GOP fantasy of a stolen election in Arizona.  

Enjoy your Fourth of July before Republicans kill democracy.

July 2, 2021

Texas Continues To Be Disaster

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:49 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Texas keeps getting publicity, the most recent an event cancellation at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Right-wingers, supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and two GOP state lawmakers censored an appearance by Chris Tomlinson about his book Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth. The book explores the Battle of the Alamo as a fight to maintain slavery, legalized in the original Texas constitution. Conservatives maintain 180 rebels defended Texas from Mexico in an heroic battle. Texas legislators recently passed “The 1836 Project,” advocating for the “patriotic education” of Texas history.

Abbott has asked other states to deploy their National Guards—including from Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota—to block immigrants from coming across the Southern border. Three of the governors consider runs in the 2024 presidential election: Abbott, Ron DeSantis (FL), and Kristie Noem (SD). Noem has a twist to deploying her state’s National Guard: she obtained a sizeable donation from Willis Johnson, a Tennessee-based billionaire whose company auctions used cars, to pay for her state’s deployment, turning them into mercenaries.

Rep. Adam Smith, Armed Services Committee chair, wants Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to look Noem’s actions, objecting to the Guard being treated like a “private militia.” Smith said:  

“This is unbelievably dangerous to think that rich people can start using the U.S. military to advance their objectives, independent of what the commander in chief and the secretary of defense think they ought to be doing.”

Nobody knows if Noem’s actions are legal, including current legislators in South Dakota and a former state AG. Geoffrey Corn, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said he’s never heard of private funding for U.S. military activity.

Abbott promised to finish the wall started by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), starting with slashing prison funds. Crossings are slightly up after DDT’s punitive protocols forced immigrants to wait in Mexico. The influx of asylum-seeking children increased from the COVID border closure backlog. This past week DDT and Abbott addressed an audience to foment hate about President Joe Biden.

The disaster declaration of emergency fund transfers has been questioned because immigration issues are under the federal government’s jurisdiction. The $250 million raised thus far through these transfers and crowd-funding may build at least five miles of wall. Abbott also wants to put $15 billion of federal COVID funding into his wall project.

Abbott would better spend state’s money on the state’s failed power grid. During the cold wave last winter, three million people had no heat or electricity, and hundreds of people, possibly a thousand, died from the loss. Abbott claimed the highly unusual situation would never happen again. Four months later, the heat wave arrived with power outages. To avoid publicity about this problem, Abbott defunded the legislature and any agencies connected to it by vetoing part of the budget because state Democratic House legislators walked out on the last day to block the anti-voting bills. One of the bill’s provisions would allow Texas judges to void people’s votes if someone accused the election of being fraudulent.

Abbott now faces a lawsuit from Texas House Democrats, legislative staffers, and the Texas AFL-CIO to override the budget veto. The Democratic petition reads:

“Gov. Abbott’s veto is an attempt to coerce, and thereby direct, how the Legislature discharges its functions—far exceeding the usual mechanism of the veto as a check on legislative excess. If accepted, it would allow the governor to indirectly commandeer the Legislature by making its very existence contingent on its willingness to enact the governor’s preferred agenda. And it would set the precedent for the governor to do the same to the judiciary.”

The budget veto included the Legislative Reference Library and the Legislative Budget Board, and Abbott also killed bail legislature he claimed was a priority. If Democrats return for a special session, they face not only the anti-voting bill but also redrawing the legislative district maps and dealing with the money Abbott wants to move into his wall.  

To protect the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the operating agency for the state’s faulty electricity grid, the state’s AG Ken Paxton, under indictment for securities fraud charges, ruled ERCOT is not subject to the Public Information Act. Therefore it won’t release documentation associated with last February’s disastrous grid failure. No texts, no emails, no recorded phone calls. Nothing. After Paxton released his ruling, an ERCOT spokesperson promised the agency would continue its “robust and transparent process.”

With no evidence of widespread election fraud, Texas is naming its anti-voting bill the Election Integrity Protection Act. After the state Senate passed the bill on Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend, it went to the House. The state with the most restrictive voting laws would add these restrictions:

  • Ban drive-thru voting.
  • Prohibit ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting centers.
  • Mandate all weekday early voting take place sometime between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Bar polling places from being open 24 hours a day.
  • Ban voting on Sundays before 1:00 p.m.
  • Make it illegal for elections officials to send applications to vote by mail to people who did not request one.
  • Bar counties from helping facilitate the distribution of unsolicited ballot requests.
  • Add an additional identification requirement for those legally eligible to vote by mail—the driver’s license number or Social Security number on both the request for a ballot and the return envelope containing their ballot.
  • Bar counties from helping facilitate the distribution of unsolicited ballot requests.
  • Require voters with disabilities by declaring they are “not capable of” voting in person without needing assistance or injuring their health.
  • Mandate people helping voters with disabilities cast a ballot by removing their ability to answer questions.
  • Require people driving voters with disabilities
  • Allow poll watchers to observe “any activity” related to curbside voting for disabled people, even permitting the poll watcher to enter the car where the disabled person is riding.
  • Allow poll watchers “free movement where election activity is occurring,” close enough “to see and hear” election officers’ activities.
  • Guarantee poll watchers can follow election materials, including the sealing and transfer of memory cards and computer drives plus following the transfer of election materials as they are taken from the voting location to the regional tabulation center.
  • Criminally charge an election officer who does anything to make poll watcher activities “not reasonably effective” with no definition.
  • Make “vote harvesting services” (with no definition but presumable taking someone else’s ballot to the post office or drop box) a felony, thereby removing that person’s right to vote.
  • Allow officials to look at old signatures for as far back as six years, allowing for more mismatches.

Republicans may have reconsidered some of the provisions after House Democrats walked out. A ban on Sunday morning voting was called a “typo,” and one of the bill’s sponsors called permission for judges to eliminate legal votes “horrendous.”

On the third day of asking people in Texas to cut back on energy use in mid-June, Abbott said his power grid “is better today than it’s ever been.” With the hottest summer in winter, 68 percent of Texans don’t trust ERCOT and its power grid to not fail during the summer, and 85 percent of Texans say they cannot live without air conditioning. In the land of fossil fuels, 56 percent of the state’s residents are willing to consider a change to renewable energy.

ERCOT refused to give the reason that many power plants were unexpectedly offline in June—enough to power 2.4 million homes. Plants were already down for maintenance in April after the February disaster. In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush separated the Texas grid from all the neighboring states to avoid federal overight and put ERCOT in control of the mostly-privatized grid. Since 2004, these deregulated residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power than rates by the state’s traditional utilities, enriching the investors, power company CEOs, and GOP political campaigns.

To preserve his faulty grid, Abbott has declared his state “sovereign” under the 10th Amendment, and the legislature passed a bill mandating all the state’s entities separating from companies not investing in fossil fuels. The power grid failure last winter was a repeat of the one a decade ago, when El Paso separated from the state power grid. The rest of the state is in hostage to the Republicans and their failure to provide for the people while Abbott takes all the money to build his wall.

Abbott made himself even more unpopular when he vetoed the bipartisan Safe Outdoor Dogs Act which would protect dogs through illegalizing their being tied up with heavy chains out doors as well as leaving them without water or shade. The legislation, passing 28-3 in the Senate and 83-32 in the House, was to expand and clarify the state’s animal cruelty laws. Former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted,  “‘Anti-voting rights, pro-animal cruelty’ is a bold re-election message.”

June 29, 2021

The Barr Show Dominates Media 

The media is abuzz about excerpts of Jonathan Karl’s book Betrayal, based on interviews with former AG Bill Barr. As with most people in the orbit of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Barr left his post in disgrace, in his case for not continuing to push the “Big Lie” about DDT’s stolen election.

Now Barr claims he wanted to tell DDT that he had looked into accusations of fraud and knew a “stolen election” was “bullshit”—after tens of millions of people bought into all the lies that Barr and other DDT followers told. Before the election, however, Barr consistently delivered QAnon conspiracy theories to the media about “foreign countries that could easily make counterfeit ballots.” He goaded DDT’s base by saying, “There’s so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed.” Three months later, he lied, “Elections that have been held with mail have found substantial fraud and coercion.” The DOJ had to apologize for his falsehoods. Even after the election, he reversed DOJ policy, permitting investigation into “substantial allegations” of possible election fraud.

In her June 27, 2021 “letter,” Heather Cox Richardson compared DDT’s “Big Lie” to the Confederate organization in 1861 when they called on supporters to defend the United States. The January 6 insurrectionists claim they are patriots in the mold of Samuel Adams, not domestic terrorists. During the attack on the Capitol, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), a QAnon believer, tweeted, “Today is 1776.” In February 1861, 150 years earlier, members of the Confederate States of America wrote their own U.S. Constitution before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on February 4, 1861. They made only three changes from the otherwise verbatim copying of the almost 100-year-old old document: “they defended state’s rights, denied that the government could promote internal improvements, and prohibited any law that denied or impaired ‘the right of property in negro slaves.’”

Confederate leaders persuaded southern White males that supporting slaves defends the U.S. against “radicals” who defend equality in the Declaration of Independence like the current conservative virulent opposition to “critical race theory” to encourage racism. Confederates moved quickly to take Southern states from the Union. With waning interest in secession, they fired on Fort Sumter to commit Whites into a new country, and the war began.

Today’s neo-Confederate Sons of  Confederate Veterans membership includes serving military officers, elected officials, public employees, and a national security expert whose CV boasts of “Department of Defense Secret Security Clearance” as well as other violent participants in the riot at Charlottesville (VA) and neo-Confederate groups such as the League of the South (LoS). [Specifics here.] Yet waning enthusiasm in DDT and insurrection was shown by people leaving DDT’s rally early. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) compared following DDT to professional wrestling:

“That it’s entertaining, but it’s not real. And I know people want to say, yeah, they believe in the ‘Big Lie’ in some cases, but I think people recognize that it’s a lot of show and bombast. But it’s going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair….let’s move on.”

Richardson also compared DDT to “President Richard M. Nixon, whose support eroded as more and more sordid information about his White House came to light. Exposés of the Trump White House recently have shown his cavalier approach to the pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 Americans, and his willingness to employ force against peaceful protesters in summer 2020.”

While state GOP legislators still push recounts, the Arizona experience has been a monumental fiasco, and a thorough investigation from the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee found absolutely no voter fraud, proving President Joe Biden won fairly. DDT’s faithful lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law for lying to everyone, including the court, and a Georgia judge tossed a lawsuit calling for another look at Fulton County ballots.   

As the far-right grows more desperate, a One American News reporter called for the execution of tens of thousands of people “involved in the efforts to undermine the election.” Republican senators are terrified of an independent commission investigating the events of January 6. Many of the 500+ insurrectionists thus far charged for the attack on the Capitol are blaming DDT for their actions.

Barr may be following the shift in political wind by rejecting DDT. Leaving the office in December, he wrote DDT a worshipful letter promising to update him “on the Department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued” and pushing the Big Lie: 

“At a time when the country is so deeply divided, it is incumbent on all levels of government, and all agencies acting within their purview, to do all we can to assure the integrity of elections and promote public confidence in their outcome.”  

Six months later, he said:

“If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

Barr also told Karl how then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) kept asking Barr to refute DDT’s claim of election fraud. McConnell told Barr that DDT’s lies damaged the GOP, hurting the party in the two Georgia Senate runoff necessary to keeping Republican control in the chamber, and Barr, head of an independent justice agency, colluded with his partisan wishes. Selling democracy to get his two senators, McConnell is responsible for the Big Lie. Democrats’ win made the Senate 50-50 for each party.

In December 1, 2020, AP printed a story about Barr’s belief that Joe Bien was legally elected as president, and DDT met with him:

DDT: “How the fuck could you do this to me? Why did you say it?”

Barr: “Because it’s true.”

DDT: “You must hate Trump. You must hate Trump.”

Barr announced his resignation as attorney general on December 14, 2020.

When Barr left, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) called him “one of the worst attorneys general in American history.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) tweeted:

“There should be no sympathy or regret for an Attorney General who trashed the rule of law, caused untold suffering, & enabled a morally depraved president. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Examples of Barr’s blind loyalty to DDT over the people of the United States:

  • Lied about the Mueller report about DDT’s connection with the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  • Tried to investigate FBI and DOJ officials probing into DDT’s 2016 campaign.
  • Personally ordered and directed the clearing of Layfayette Square of protesters last summer for DDT’s Bible-holding photo op.
  • Warned that if Biden won the presidency, the U.S. would be “irrevocably committed to the socialist path.”
  • Interfered in criminal investigations of DDT friends Roger Stone and Michael Flynn to get them lighter sentences or dismiss criminal charges although Flynn had already pled guilty. (Career prosecutors resigned in protest.)
  • Politicized the criminal investigation process to limit the abilities of the incoming Biden-appointed AG.
  • Refused to recognize the constitutional congressional authority to conduct oversight of the executive branch.
  • Subpoenaed Apple for data from Democratic lawmakers, family, and media DDT perceived as political enemies. 
  • Served DDT by putting him above the law, unrestrained by constitutional checks and balances.

Harry Litman wrote:

“Barr has treated Americans to a parade of hypocrisy for two years: He was a law and order crusader who helped presidential cronies evade consequences for their crimes in two administrations; a constitutionalist who didn’t mind blowing off congressional oversight; a moralist who put his talents and intellect in the service of the most corrupt president since Richard Nixon.”

DDT didn’t take the excerpt from Karl’s book well. Lumping Barr with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), DDT accused them of fraud and conspiracy to put Joe Biden into the White House. About McConnell, DDT said that he “blew it for the country.” DDT continued: 

“Based on press reports he convinced his buddy, Bill Barr, to get the corrupt (based on massive amounts of evidence that the Fake News refuses to mention!) election done, over with, and sealed for Biden, ASAP!”

DDT also called both Barr and McConnell “spineless RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only). The next day, DDT described Barr as “afraid, weak, and … pathetic.” Barr joined DDT’s pattern of rejecting former specially-selected officials such as AG Jeff Sessions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser John Bolton, another National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Security and White House chief of staff John Kelly, and VP Mike Pence. 

Before the election, Barr was willing to do anything DDT wanted, but DDT’s loss of the election and his becoming more dangerous may have caused Barr to back off from his appearance of adoring DDT. Barr even accused DDT of “inexcusable” behavior on January 6, “a betrayal of his office.” He simply abandoned DDT to keep his position in the GOP. Barr spent his entire career hedging his bets, and he isn’t finished. With Karl’s book, Barr rewrites his personal history in an attempt to erase his unethical, corrupt behavior—“to cleanse his own record,” as Jonathan Chait writes. A better book about Barr might be Elie Honig’s Hatchet Man: How Bill Barr Broke the Prosecutor’s Code and Corrupted the Justice Department.

June 28, 2021

DDT Goes to Court

After the 2016 election, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) faced 75 court battles. Some of them have been settled: he paid $25 million to settle his Trump University’s swindles of thousands of students soon after he was elected and $2 million for abusing his charitable foundation, shuttered after the discovery of a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “repeated and willful self-dealing.” Today, his lawyers met with prosecutors in Manhattan to fight filing criminal charges against the Trump Organization because they would harm the business. Unable to stay out of the discussion, DDT called prosecutors “rude, nasty, and totally biased.”

DDT’s eight years of income tax returns he had to give New York City may show that he failed to pay taxes for tens of thousands of benefits to his executives, especially Allen Weisselberg—expensive automobiles, apartments, school tuition, etc.—and Matthew Calamari, DDT’s former bodyguard and now his business’s CEO. Ronald Fischetti, DDT’s 85-year-old personal lawyer, said DDT won’t be charged in he first indictment but the investigation is “ongoing.” 

Possibility of indictment in New York is just part of his problems. He’s being accused of defrauding people, violating the Voting Rights Act, and other illegal acts. According to protective attorneys general, he couldn’t be prosecuted while he was in the White House. His loss in the 2020 election, however, removed his immunity.

Election Tampering:

DDT wanted almost 11,000 more votes from Georgia to win the state so he pressured the state’s election authorities get them switched from Joe Biden. Fulton County DA Fani Willis is investigating DDT’s telephone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for that purpose. Possible charges: election fraud conspiracy, criminal solicitation of election fraud, and/or interference with elections duties.

NAACP and Michigan voting rights activists lawsuit against DDT regarding violation of the Voting Rights Act including his pressuring Wayne County GOP officials to not certify election totals for its jurisdiction of Detroit. The suit also seeks a restraining order requiring DDT to get court approval to obtain court approval “prior to engaging in any activities related to recounts, certifications, or similar post-election activities.”

The District of Columbia AG has a criminal investigation into DDT’s activities on January 6 with the possibility of charging DDT under the local statute making it “unlawful for a person to incite or provoke violence where there is a likelihood that such violence will ensue.”

U.S. Capitol Officers:

Two Capitol police officers beaten, maced, poked with flag poles, and pinned against the doors of the U.S. Capitol on January 6 are suing Trump for inciting the violence they endured and conspiracy claims that DDT joined the violent groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, in their attacking the Capitol.  

Members of Congress:

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and the NAACP filed a civil suit about violating the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act to oppose southern White supremacists during the Civil War’s Reconstruction. It forbids conspiracies “to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat” U.S. officeholders from discharging their duties or forcing them to leave the location where those duties must be performed. The lawsuit claims that “Defendants Trump, Giuliani, Proud Boys, and Oath Keepers plotted, coordinated and executed a common plan to prevent Congress from discharging its official duties in certifying the results of the presidential election.” It seeks to enjoin him from future violations.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) sued DDT for inciting the insurrection. Other defendants include Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and GOP colleague Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) who spoke at the rally and who allegedly “directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed.”

Sexual Activities:

E. Jean Carroll’s accusation of DDT sexually assaulting her during the mid-1990s in a department store dressing room led to DDT’s claim she was “totally lying,” he didn’t know her, and she wasn’t his “type.” The statute of limitations for sexual assault had run out so she filed a civil suit against him for defamation. Under AG Bill Barr, the DOJ became his legal representation, but a federal judge ruled against Barr’s decision because DDT wasn’t a protected government “employee” and his “allegedly defamatory statements [were not] with the scope of his employment.” The Biden DOJ is still defending DDT’s side. The suit seeks to force DDT “to retract any and all defamatory statements” as well as to pay compensatory and punitive damages.

Summer Zervos filed a civil suit alleging DDT defamed her in 2016 when he called her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault in 2007. Like several other women, she accused DDT of killing and groping her without her consent on several occasions; he called her story “phony.” After he was no longer in the White House, the New York Court of Appeals ruled the case could proceed, requiring DDT to testify under oath.

Family Issues:

Mary Trump, DDT’s niece, realized she was denied part of her inheritance after an expose about DDT’s fortune and his routine manipulation of his assets’ value. Her civil suit alleges DDT and others in the family carried out “a complex scheme to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited.” The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

Businesses:

DDT’s family faced a class-action lawsuit in 2018 from anonymous Americans claiming DDT cheated them into joining a multi-level marketing scheme run by a third party called CAN secretly paid by DDT to promote. The civil suit alleges that DDT, his company, and his offspring executives Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr. “operated a large and complex enterprise with a singular goal: to enrich themselves by systematically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own small businesses, and pursue the American Dream.” The suit asks for class-action status, allowing others to participate in the litigation, and for “actual, compensatory, statutory [and] consequential damages.” It also seeks the “disgorgement of all ill gotten gains” by the Trumps.

The investment group Ithaca Capital Partners claim DDT fraudulently induced it to purchase a majority stake in a 70-story hotel and condo complex in Panama City in 2019 after he claimed the complex was a successful business and well-maintained. According to the lawsuit, however, the Trump Organization was “grossly mismanaging its operations of the former Trump International Hotel & Tower Panama including causing intentional damage to the Hotel Amenities Units and failing to pay income taxes to the Panamanian government.” The civil suit seeks “not less than” $17 million in damages plus attorney fees.

Profit from the 2017 Inauguration:

The D.C. attorney general is suing DDT for diverting funds to DDT properties, alleging the nonprofit inaugural committee “wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment” to DDT businesses by charging exorbitant rates, including $175,000 for a ballroom that usually rented for $5,000. The AG alleges “the Trump Entities … unconscionably benefited from nonprofit funds required to be used for the public good.” The civil suit seeks to have the ill-gotten gains from the Trump properties donated to public-serving nonprofits.

False testimony by DDT’s children, Don Jr and Ivanka, has put themselves in trouble. Last February, Jr lied under oath in the inauguration scandal lawsuit, and now Ivanka has made the same mistake. Executive of the Trump Organization before moving to the White House as an adviser to DDT, Ivanka denied having any “involvement in the process of planning the inauguration.” She said she did nothing more than “give feedback to my father or to anyone who asked my perspective or opinion.”

Documents, however, prove “involvement.” Trump was directly involved in planning at least one proposed inauguration event, according to emails. They showed communication, including meetings, with Rick Gates, then deputy chair of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a lead producer working with the committee. Trump was to host a “Women’s Entrepreneurs Reception/Dinner” for the inauguration, setting up the invitees and location. She also volunteered to coordinate with Reince Priebus, to be the White House chiefof staff, and Katie Walsh, his deputy. Although the reception/dinner didn’t happen, Trump was involved in other planning, including consulting on menu, recruiting talent, and guaranteeing media.

Under oath, Trump also said, “I didn’t know Stephanie Winston that well,” yet they were good friends at that time. Winston Wolkoff was recommended for her top spot on the committee because of Trump’s recommendation. Trump began to separate herself from her friend when Winston Wolkoff expressed concern about the Trump Hotel overcharging DDT’s inauguration committee, still twice the market rate after Trump supposedly interceded for a better rate. Winston Wolkoff warned Trump, Gates, and others that the spending would be audited and “become public knowledge.” She is a lead cooperating witness in the lawsuit against the Trump Organization and the inauguration committee.

Last month, Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, lost another case in court when a judge found Kushner’s management company charged “deceptive” fees to thousands of its tenants. Two years ago, a Maryland judge found several violations of consumer laws, including a “bait and switch” by showing a prospective tenant one apartment and then renting them another, highly substandard, one. This case included the questionable fees such as a $12 “agent fee” on court filings against 28,000 tenants although the courts had no costs. In another 2,600 instances, Kushner assessed $80 for court fees when courts charged $50. The lawsuit is not yet settled: each side may file objections. State lawyers can also propose restitution costs for tenants as well as a civil penalty before the court decision can be challenged in Maryland’s appeals courts.

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