Nel's New Day

December 30, 2020

UK Secedes from EU with ‘Brexit’

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:54 PM
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The holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s Day continued the U.S. angst. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is still looking for scams to stay in the Oval Office, he’s growing more and more angry spouting more and more lies, and his attempts to get the courts to rule in his favor still fail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still declaring people in the U.S. don’t need any money when more and more of them are dropping below the poverty line, and he’s still blocking Democratic bills.

Across the pond, however, the United Kingdom is settling its divorce with the European Union after 47 years. That separation is relevant to people in the U.S., however, because it affects world trade—and southern states occasionally threaten to secede from the Union.

The UK’s problem started a few months before the U.S. problems started with the 2016 election of DDT. The cause was the same—dissatisfied conservatives, largely white and many rural, who just wanted a change and wanted to make the nation white. Some people voted for “Brexit,” the British exit from the EU, as a joke. Others didn’t bother to vote because they figured it wouldn’t pass. While the U.S. has spent the past four years suffering agonies DDT inflicted on the nation, the UK lost world status, and political careers tanked, including two prime ministers.

In 1,317 days, the UK failed two exit deadlines through dozens of Parliament votes until a flat finish line forced by the EU at midnight, December 31, 2020, pushed the Brits into a negotiation to avoid a complete and disastrous “no-deal” break with the 27 EU country coalition. As with the minority U.S. support of DDT, only the UK minority supported Brexit In both countries, the more vocal minority disagrees that opening borders and greater global relationships strengthen countries and give a better path to peace and prosperity.

A 14-hour parliamentary process culminated in an approval vote by MPs of 521 to 73 for the agreement, and the House of Lords was unopposed. The Queen also signed an approval, putting the UK-EU agreement into British law. The deal has one more hurdle, passing the EU parliament, but the EU already removed all evidence—chairs, post office boxes, etc.—of any UK presence. 

Most people may not feel the impact of the agreement during the transition period for the next year. The EU wouldn’t negotiate new arrangements with the UK while it was still a member; the year-long transition allows for working out details. Problems still exist with lack of access to security databases, broken promises over fishing rights in UK water, and unanswered border questions for Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, both having no land access to the UK. Trade will be a problem for the UK because it has a goods deficit with EU despite a surplus in service industries such as finance.

The UK remains part of the EU’s economic institutions and security co-operation arrangements until the end of the transition period. The EU will treat the UK as a member of the single market and customs union and asked its trade partners to do the same. People from the UK can move freely among the 27 EU countries during the transition, and the UK will be subject to EU law and rulings of the European Court of Justice. Although the UK has access to EU databases such as Europol, some EU countries such as Germany cannot extradite citizens with the European Arrest Warrant to non-members.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his reputation by putting together an agreement. A summary of the deal. A few highlights of the 1,000+ page deal:

Fishing: The value of fish caught by the EU in UK waters will be cut by 25 percent, less than the UK wanted. At the end of five and a half years, the UK will control access to its waters and might make deeper cuts, possibly even excluding EU fishing boats. This area was the hardest to negotiate, and people in the industry aren’t satisfied

Trade: With no tariffs between the EU and UK, the UK has to meet EU standards, a positive result for labor rights activists because the EU is traditionally more worker-friendly than the UK. “Leavers” are the losers because they wanted to move EU companies to the UK with promises of fewer worker protections.

“Level playing field’: Measures commit both the UK and the EU to common standards on workers’ rights and many social and environmental regulations, an EU demand. UK doesn’t have to follow EU law but must protect fair competition.

Dispute resolution: If either UK or EU moves from current standards with a negative impact on the other side, a dispute mechanism could trigger tariffs. These can be targeted in one sector from a dispute in another. Binding arbitration involves both sides. Tariffs may be an ongoing threat.

European Court of Justice (ECJ): EU remains arbiter of European law, but the ECI doesn’t play a role in policing the agreement except in Northern Ireland which has a special status. Northern Ireland, part of the UK separated by land from both UK and EU, remains subject to EU single market and customs union rules, making ECI the highest legal authority there.

Travel: UK nationals will need a visa to stay in the EU more than 90 days in a 180-day period. They can use their health cards (EHICs) until they expire when they will be replaced a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). EU pet passports will no longer be valid although people can travel with pets under a more complicated process. The International mobile roaming remains, but UK travelers could be charged for using phones in EU and vice versa. UK citizens can use their licenses to drive in EU but need a Green Card as proof for vehicle insurance.

Financial services: The UK hopes for “equivalence” decisions, but the EU needs “further clarifications.”

Data: A concern about protection rules for UK companies dealing with EU data wants easy communication as well as protection of personal data and privacy. EU agrees to four months, extendable by two more months, to exchange data, the same as current rules if the UK doesn’t change its data protection rules.

Product standards: The “mutual recognition of conformity assessment” means less intrusive checks than otherwise. Thus far, there is no agreement on conformity assessment that UK wanted. New barriers to trade, however, may require checking products twice to seek them in both UK and EU. Exporting food of animal origin may be very intrusive and costly going into EU.

Professional qualifications: UK citizens from doctors to chefs lose the ease of being licensed throughout the EU if licensed in the UK, creating greater difficulties for them to seek employment in the EU. They may need to apply in each of EU’s 27 countries.

Education: UK students can no longer participate in the Erasmus education-exchange program where they could study in any EU university.

Security: The UK loses automatic and immediate access to some EU databases used by police for criminal records, wanted persons, etc. Gone is “real time” access, and others, such as access of names of people taking flights, will be much more restrictive than currently. It keeps access to other databases such as the system which cross-checks fingerprints across the continent. The UK can sit in on Europol meetings but have no direct say in decisions. A new committee will settle disagreements over data instead of the European Court of Justice.

Current advantages of the agreement:

  • Zero tariffs and quotas on goods.
  • No hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • A shared commitment to protecting the environment, to fight against climate change and carbon pricing.
  • A shared commitment to protecting social and labor rights.
  • Keeping standards on tax transparency.
  • The UK’s continued participation in a number of EU programs until 2027 such as Horizon Europe, subject to a UK financial contribution.

Sasha Abramsky writes:

“Brits have, as a culmination of a nearly five-year fit of national orneriness, finally traded away the right to live and work and study in 27 other countries in exchange for a series of platitudes about ‘reclaiming sovereignty’ and ‘controlling our destiny’ and protecting from greedy continental fishermen a fishing catch that makes up a smaller percentage of the national economy than does the single department store of Harrods.”

In November, 51 percent of people thought Brexit is wrong compared with 38 percent who approve. Of the respondents to the poll, 59 percent of respondents believe Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government handled the exit badly with only 28 percent believing the process went well.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., daily COVID-19 statistics on December 30, 2020: 234,550 new cases and 3,880 deaths.

December 29, 2020

Biden Waits, DDT Sabotages

Ignoring security for the United States, the lame-duck administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the GOP continues its roadblocks against the new Biden/Harris administration, depriving people in the U.S. of safety, including members of the military.

Vital information about budgets, U.S. military forces, troop withdrawal, and the Russian cyber espionage is being withheld from the transition team of President-elect Joe Biden. The result, the most contentious presidential transition in decades, means danger for U.S. interests in both domestic and foreign issues. DDT frequently talked about his conversation with President Obama about sensitive national security matters but refuses to meet with Biden and anyone from Biden’s transition team for the same purpose.

A senior Pentagon official admitted the Defense Department is deliberately keeping budgetary data from Biden, who said he needed “a clear picture” to “deter our enemies.” Although saying that the Pentagon had been “completely transparent … on fiscal 2021 budget” and “topline information on the fiscal 2022-2026 program,” a spokesperson said the Office of Management and Budget hasn’t authorized the release of the full details of the FY22-26 program.” Answers to follow-up questions from the transition team demand a lengthy process. Biden also said the Defense Department refused to brief the transition team on last week’s huge cyberattack on government agencies and private U.S. companies. The department also continues to “deny and delay” meetings with transition members.

DDT’s officials admit they don’t want to give Biden any help in dealing with DDT’s priorities, such as building a wall on the southern U.S. border. Biden has vowed to stop the building of the wall upon his inauguration as DDT has charged ahead to damage and degrade the land with little planning. McAllen (TX) has more illegal crossings than other regions but almost no construction because ranchers and other landowners oppose the wall impacting their property. DDT brags about the miles of wall he has built, but only 40 of the 440 miles is new barrier. The remainder replaces or upgrades existing fences and bollards. No one know if DDT’s fence blocks migrants, but they are destroying natural habitats and species, some of them endangered. Biden’s plan to stop wall construction saves the nation $2.6 billion after about $700 million winds up current construction contracts. The funding can be returned to building projects on U.S. military bases.

At least a dozen existing construction contracts in Texas are on land the government doesn’t own, costing the government $1.6 million while contractors wait around. In this area, the administration planned 110 miles but finished only 15 miles. The Army Corps of Engineers won’t award contracts until it has the land, but high-level decision can override the agency. After the government awards the contract on land it doesn’t own, it goes to court to demand the land because it’s being penalized for not beginning construction. The court must give permission before building begins. In Texas, 70 condemnation cases have been filed since September; 53 are in one county where the government filed 25 lawsuits since Election Day. Much of the property has been in the families for generations. One owner came into the U.S. over 40 years ago as an undocumented immigrant on the same property he bought 30 years ago after he became a legal U.S. resident. His ranch would be behind the wall on the Mexican side.

After the inauguration, Biden faces other crises such as the slowing global economy, dangerous climate change, and accelerating racial problems, especially with DDT’s increasing promotion of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. DDT has played down the cyber attack, refusing to admit it could be by Russians because his entire focus has been on the mythical election fraud and developing strategies to overturn the nation’s majority win for Biden.

In opposition to the upcoming administration, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia completed regulations allowing federal contractors to discriminate against racial and religious minorities, women, and LGBTQ people by calling the rules “religious liberty.” The new regulations affect about 4 million employees and follow Scalia’s refusal to protect employers from infection and death in the COVID-19 crisis. By removing language from statutes and court decisions, Scalia classifies almost all contractors as “religious, permits them to discriminate based on the employers’ belief in “religious tenets,” and removes the ability to identify lawbreaking. The contractors can select employees based on their religion, also breaking the law.

Throughout his past three years, DDT also wants to consider mandating agencies to delineate policy goals and show progress in the achievement for budgeting purposes to restrict Biden from his own budget processes. Circular A-11, a thousand-page document, must be used to justify funding requests. It would, however, remove strategic planning and performance measures from budget guidelines as required in a 1933 congressional law. The same order mandating Circular A-11 also permits a new classification of federal employees who aren’t permitted civil service protections. Federal employee unions are suing to stop the new class of workers.

Other DDT infiltration of Biden’s administration is filling multi-year positions left empty for years with DDT’s loyalists. 

DDT also continues his plan to overturn the election. Following DDT’s strategy, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is suing VP Mike Pence, demanding he not count electoral votes from states DDT wants to exclude. The Constitution does not permit Gohmert’s demand, but Gohmert and his Arizona cohort Kelli “Chem Trail” Ward got the idea from a meeting with Pence and DDT last week to plot keeping DDT in the Oval Office. The case was filed with DDT-appointed Judge Jeremy Kernodle in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The text of the Twelfth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.”

Steve Benen wrote about the party that ran on following the U.S. Constitution and appointing “textual originalists” to the Supreme Court bench:

“In 2020, an elected member of Congress not only believes a vice president should have the unilateral power to decide the outcome of a presidential election, that same lawmaker expects the federal judiciary to make it happen. We are now watching people who call themselves conservatives argue that vice presidents should have unilateral power to decide presidential elections.”

DDT becomes increasingly angry with judges, especially Supreme Court justices, who refuse to overturn the election in his favor. Yesterday, he called the three he appointed “totally incompetent and weak” as well as chicken-hearted. A look at the rulings against DDT’s evidence-free election fraud claims.

With under ten percent of the promised 20 million vaccinations before the end of the year just two days before the deadline, Biden has been warned about delays for mass distribution, already experienced, worsening after his inauguration. One concern is whether DDT’s team has provided unrealistic expectations and no organization after Biden is inaugurated. DDT failed to order additional doses beyond the original one million earlier this year; a new order of 100 million doses for 50 more million people won’t be available until July 31, 2021. 

Biden is delivering difficult news either ignored or denied by DDT. Unable to take charge for another three weeks, Biden passes along the same news as many governors and medical experts about “this dark winter of the pandemic.” Last week, he said, “Our darkest days in the battle against COVID are ahead of us, not behind us.” Tuesday, he described the months ahead as “a very tough period for our nation” and asked people to make sacrifices to destroy the virus. Biden said, “It’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.” Yet he has a plan to give 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days

Almost 70 percent of people in the U.S. support a mask-wearing mandate on federal property, and 72 percent want masks required in public places. Two-thirds of the respondents believe masks should be required with anyone outside the household. The poll shows a majority for both Democrats and Republicans.

Two GOP leaders, Massachusetts GOP leader Tom Mountain and Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA), suffered from their lack of masks. Mountain now recognized his mistake of attending a White House Hanukkah Party where the 100+ mingled closely, mostly without masks. He spent days in the hospital, close to needing a ventilator, and still suffers after over two weeks. His wife, who wisely didn’t attend the party, still contracted coronavirus along with Mountain’s son, daughter-in-law, and mother-in-law. Letlow, 41, died after testing positive for COVID-19 eleven days ago. Married, he had two young children.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 400,000 deaths in the U.S. before Biden’s inauguration in three weeks. Past deaths in the U.S.: 100,000, May; 200,000, four months later; 300,000 in three months. Weekly deaths are expected to rise through January 16, 2021. By tomorrow, the number of infections will go above 20 million and deaths about 350,000. December 29, 2020: new cases in U.S. – 194,460; new deaths – 3,398.

Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:33 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pieces from humor columnist Dave Barry’s long piece about the long year of 2020. Illustrations by Gel Jamlang. (The full version is here.): 

We’re trying to think of something nice to say about 2020. Okay, here goes: Nobody got killed by the murder hornets. As far as we know. That’s pretty much it.

In the past, writing these annual reviews, we have said harsh things about previous years. We owe those years an apology. Compared to 2020, all previous years, even the Disco Era, were the golden age of human existence. This was a year of nonstop awfulness, a year when we kept saying it couldn’t possibly get worse, and it always did. This was a year in which our only moments of genuine, unadulterated happiness were when we were able to buy toilet paper.

We sincerely don’t want to relive this year. But our job is to review it. If you would prefer to skip this exercise in masochism, we completely understand. If, however, you wish, for some sick reason, to re-experience 2020, now is the time to put on your face mask, douse your entire body with hand sanitizer and then — to be safe — don a hazmat suit, as we look back at the unrelenting insanity of this hideous year, starting with …

JANUARY:  … which begins with all of Washington, as well as parts of Virginia and Maryland, gripped by the gripping historic drama of the impeachment of Donald Trump. Remember that? How gripped we were?

To set the stage: Back in mid-December, the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment…  Eventually, however, the articles arrive at the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch “The Undertaker” McConnell promises that the impeachment issue will receive full and fair consideration. He is of course joking, but this is not obvious, because even when Mitch is in a jovial mood he looks like a man passing a kidney stone the size of the Hope Diamond.

Meanwhile in other political news, all eyes are on Iowa as it prepares for the caucuses, which are closely scrutinized because they are the first opportunity for a tiny group of unrepresentative voters to engage in an incomprehensible and deeply flawed process by which they anoint presidential candidates who traditionally go on to fail. This year, in an effort to modernize the caucuses, the Iowa Democratic Party has upgraded from its old-fashioned manual reporting procedures to a modern, state-of-the-art “app” based on the same software used in the Boeing 737 Max airliner.

In international news, the big story is a U.S. targeted drone strike, ordered by Trump, which kills Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani… Iran responds — this is a good indicator of what kind of year it will be — by shooting down a Ukrainian airliner.

Elsewhere abroad, Chinese news media report that a man in a city named “Wuhan” died of a mysterious virus. This is not considered a big deal in the United States, since it has nothing to do with either impeachment or the Iowa caucuses.

A much bigger international story concerns Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who announce via Instagram that they are sick and tired of being part of the British royal family and want to just be regular normal everyday hard-working folks making millions of dollars solely because one of them was born into, and the other one married into, the British royal family.

In sports, Major League Baseball is rocked by scandal…  All players involved in the scheme will continue to play baseball in exchange for enormous amounts of money.

Speaking of scandal, in …

FEBRUARY: … Washington and its suburbs remain gripped by the U.S. Senate’s historic impeachment trial of President Trump, with Democratic prosecutors arguing that Trump illegally pressured Ukrainian leaders to benefit himself politically, while the Republican defense team, employing an alibi strategy, claims that Trump was playing golf at the time. Under the watchful eye of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is kept from nodding off by a law clerk armed with a pellet gun, everyone, in accordance with Senate rules, repeats everything 127 times, after which the Republican majority, to the surprise of anyone who has the IQ of sponge cake, acquits the Republican president…

Trump delivers the State of the Union address, an awkward affair that begins with Speaker Pelosi refusing to use the traditional “high privilege and distinct honor” introduction; then Trump refusing to shake Pelosi’s hand; then Pelosi tearing up her copy of Trump’s speech; then Trump hocking a loogie onto Pelosi’s suede pumps. Okay, the loogie part did not happen. As far as we know…

In Iowa, Democratic presidential candidates realize they have wasted an entire year trudging around Iowa eating fried objects on sticks and pretending to care about Iowans. Things go more smoothly for the Democrats in the New Hampshire primary and Nevada caucuses, with Bernie Sanders emerging as the clear front-runner, which only seems to make him angrier. A new challenger emerges in the form of charisma-impaired billionaire Mike “Mike” Bloomberg…

The No. 1 concern of the American public, based on the amount of passionate debate it generates on the Internet, is the burning issue of whether it is, or is not, okay to recline your airplane seat. Remember? Those were good times… And then, unfortunately, comes …  

MARPRIL: … which starts off calmly enough, as the Democratic Party, desperate to find an alternative to 132-year-old White guy Bernie Sanders, settles on 132-year-old White guy Joe Biden…

We begin to see reports that this coronavirus thing might be worse than we have been led to believe, although at first the authorities still seem to be saying that it’s basically the flu and there is no reason to panic, but all of a sudden there seems to be no hand sanitizer for sale anywhere, which makes some sense although there is also no toilet paper, as if people are planning to be pooping for weeks on end (ha), and then we learn that Tom Hanks — Tom Hanks! — has the virus, and now they’re saying it’s a lot worse than the flu and we need to wash our hands and not touch our faces and maintain a social distance of six feet and use an abundance of caution to flatten the curve (whatever “the curve” is), but they’re also saying we don’t need face masks no scratch that now they’re saying we DO need face masks but nobody HAS any face masks … [Etc.]

MAY: … and we are, as a nation, exhausted. We are literally sick and tired of the pandemic… We disagree about everything — when to reopen the economy, whether to wear masks, whether to go to the beach, whether it’s okay to say “China” — everything. Each side believes that it is motivated purely by reason, facts and compassion, and that the other side is evil and stupid and sincerely wants people to die… On the other hand, there is starting to be more toilet paper.

President Trump continues to provide leadership during the crisis by repeatedly pointing out that he knows an incredible amount about viruses — more than most medical doctors! — and is frankly doing a terrific job…

In scandal news, the Justice Department moves to drop all charges against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Outraged Democrats claim this is a travesty of justice; outraged Republicans claim it is proof that the “deep state” tried to stage a coup…

Here we should at least mention the arrival of the Asian “murder hornets.” In any other year they would have been a huge story… But in 2020 there is simply too much competition…

In sports, Major League Baseball tries to come up with a plan to salvage the 2020 season, a task that becomes more urgent each day… The National Football League is also trying to adapt to the pandemic, exploring the possibility of a season with no fans, no coaches and no players.

Toward the end of the month the economy is starting to open up, the virus numbers in many places seem to be improving and people are starting to venture out of their homes… And then …

WHAM, 2020 strikes again, this time in Minneapolis, where the horrendous killing of George Floyd at the hands of police ignites a protest movement that quickly spreads across the nation, sometimes mutating into violence… As we enter … 

JUNE: … the protest movement grows in size and passion with frankly not a whole lot of social distancing… President Trump, angered by reports that at one point he retreated to an underground bunker, states that in fact he was merely inspecting the bunker, this being a responsibility explicitly assigned to the president by the Constitution…The president courageously goes outside (after the protesters have been cleared away) and personally walks several hundred feet to historic St. John’s Church, where he holds up a Bible…

Meanwhile covid-19 cases are rising alarmingly, especially in the South… Trump … holds a rally in Tulsa, where, addressing an issue of concern to all Americans, he explains in detail that the ramp he had to walk down at the U.S. Military Academy graduation ceremony was slippery and steep. The president gets a big hand from the crowd when, displaying leadership, he drinks from a water glass with one hand…

In …

JULY: … covid-19 cases continue to rise sharply in some Southern states… President Trump commutes the federal prison sentence of his longtime friend and political operative Roger Stone. The White House states that imprisoning the 67-year-old Stone would be inhumane because he has a medical condition that requires him “to roam free at night seeking fresh human blood.” …

Kanye West announces that he is running for president, representing the Birthday Party. In any other year this would seem ridiculous, but in 2020 a lot of people are like, “Why not?”

On the diplomatic front, the Trump administration announces that, after tense high-level negotiations, it has reached a peace agreement under which U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Portland, Ore., where for many weeks protesters have been seeking social justice via a combination of peaceful demonstrations and arson.

In …

AUGUST: … President Trump escalates his attacks on TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media app that threatens our national security by causing millions of Americans to learn stupid dances while Chinese people are making useful products to sell to Americans…

Trump brokers a historic Middle East peace agreement, which, along with the estimated 45 previous historic Middle East peace agreements, brings the Middle East one step closer to potentially being on the verge of reaching the brink of what could someday become a steppingstone to lasting peace, although you should not hold your breath…

California, as it traditionally does at this time of year, bursts into flames…

In politics, controversy swirls around the U.S. Postal Service, which until now most Americans have viewed as a non-sinister agency whose function, as authorized by the Constitution, is to faithfully, rain or shine, deliver vast quantities of bulk mail to us so we can discard it unread…

Steve Bannon, a former influential Trump aide with the uncanny ability to always look like he just woke up in a dumpster, is arrested by — this cannot be a coincidence — agents of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Bannon is charged with fraud in connection with a GoFundMe project called We Build the Wall, which is supposedly raising money for Trump’s largely imaginary wall between the United States and Mexico, although according to prosecutors a better name for the project would be We Basically Keep the Money.

Trump pardons Susan B. Anthony, calling her, in impromptu remarks delivered as aides hustle reporters away, “a terrific person who I look forward to inviting to the White House.”

Because of the pandemic, both parties hold their conventions virtually, which means that instead of endless hours of repetitious blather, the TV broadcasts consist of endless hours of repetitious blather but without the entertaining visuals of delegates in stupid hats. The Democrats adopt a sweeping platform filled with bold policy initiatives that nobody will ever look at again. The Republican platform consists of, quote, “whatever was in the president’s most recent tweet.”

Speaking of principles, in …  

SEPTEMBER: … the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg triggers a classic display of Washington-style ethical consistency as both political parties, addressing the issue of when the vacancy should be filled, passionately embrace positions diametrically opposite the ones they passionately embraced in 2016. Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat, arguing that she is “perfectly qualified” for the high court because she is “a woman, but not like super hot.” Critics allege that Barrett belongs to a dangerous religious cult that subjugates women by forcing them to become Supreme Court justices. Everyone prepares for a cordial and informative confirmation process.

The New York Times … reveals that an analysis of Trump’s tax records shows that pretty much his only major success, as a businessman, has been playing the part of a successful businessman on a TV show.

The biggest political event of the month is the much-anticipated Trump-Biden debate, a lively affair featuring a frank and open exchange of sentence fragments highlighted by a heroic but ultimately unsuccessful attempt on the part of moderator Chris Wallace to silence the president with a Taser…

The pandemic continues to dominate the news in …

OCTOBER: … when the White House announces that President Trump is infected with the coronavirus, as are the first lady, White House staffers and others who have been near the president at events where many people did not wear masks or observe social distancing. This seems to suggest, crazy as it sounds, that the virus — who could possibly have known this? — is an infectious disease that you can catch from other people…

The president begins a course of treatment at Walter Reed that includes an antibody cocktail, anantiviral drug, a steroid and — this really happened — a motorcade ride around the hospital. Trump’s doctors describe the motorcade as “a totally standard medical treatment that is not insanely irresponsible at all.” Meanwhile the virus continues to spread through the White House, eventually infecting everyone in the executive branch above the rank of custodian…

The president recovers quickly and announces that covid-19 is frankly no big deal for anybody who has a large team of doctors, 24/7 access to a world-class medical facility and a helicopter. Then, having learned an important lesson from his experience, the president resumes holding massive rallies where many people do not wear masks.

The Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court after she successfully completes the traditional Judiciary Committee hazing ritual, in which she must answer questions for three consecutive days without saying anything.

Vice-presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris square off in a debate, and the only thing anybody remembers about it 10 minutes later is that a fly landed on Pence’s head.

With October finally over, a divided, weary nation trudges into the crucial month of …

NOVEMBER: … when, at last, it’s Election Day. Millions of voters lurch to the polls, unless they already voted, in which case they remain on the sofa… Several days pass without a clear winner as the various states count ballots via their individual methods under our quirky, zany electoral college system. Florida, which has totally screwed up in previous elections, surprises everybody by reporting the vote count almost immediately, thanks to an executive order by Gov. Ron DeSantis to “just go ahead and reuse the results from 2016, since we counted those already.” …

In reality Trump claims that he won the election BY A LOT, but it is being stolen from him via a vast, sophisticated, malignant and purely hypothetical vote-fraud scheme. To combat this fraud, the president forms a crack legal team headed by former sane person Rudy “Rudy Three i’s” Giuliani, who … will hold a news conference at “Four Seasons, Philadelphia.” … The event takes place in the parking lot of a company called Four Seasons Total Landscaping, which is across the street from a cremation center and down the block from Fantasy Island Adult Bookstore. We are not making this up. Nobody could make this up.

And then, at last, the finish line of this wretched year looms ahead as we stagger into … 

DECEMBER: … while the president continues to insist that he was reelected [and] members of his staff quietly prepare for the transition by updating their résumés and conducting a search for the briefcase containing the nuclear launch codes…

President Trump, faced with soaring coronavirus cases and a congressional stalemate over a desperately needed relief package, devotes his energies, as chief executive, to tweeting approximately once per hour that the election was RIGGED. The Trump legal team, alleging that there was a massive organized conspiracy to commit vote fraud, files multiple lawsuits but achieves basically the same legal outcome as Hamilton Burger, the stupendously ineffective district attorney on the “Perry Mason” TV show, who went to court week after week for many seasons and almost never won a case, WHICH ONLY PROVES HOW MASSIVE AND ORGANIZED THIS CONSPIRACY IS.

Finally, after 12 nightmarish months, 2020 draws to a close, and …

… and here we must interrupt our narrative to let you, the reader, in on a little secret: Because of magazine deadlines, we have to turn in our Year in Review in mid-December, before the year is actually over. Normally this doesn’t matter, because the holiday season tends to be a slow news time.

But this is no normal year, and we’re nervous. We worry that something major, by which we mean bad, will happen after our deadline — something involving the presidential election, or the virus, or some awful thing we cannot even imagine… Our point is, we don’t know what else will happen this year, including when it will end. We’re just hoping that it eventually does, and that next year is nothing like it. In that spirit, we’ll close with the wish we always offer at the end of our annual review, although this time it’s more of a prayer:

Happy new year.

[Note: As you know, 2020 was a VERY long year!]

December 27, 2020

Week 205: DDT Belatedly Signs Bill, Other Catch-Ups

When I heard that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had signed the stimulus bill to keep millions of people temporarily out of poverty, all I could think was “what a piece of garbage.” He didn’t demand $2,000 checks because he cared about people. If he was sincere, he would have told sycophant Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to do it. Instead, he waited until Mnuchin and Congress to finish the bill before he had his tantrums. Mnuchin declared the approved bill “fabulous,” but DDT wanted attention. He got it by ruining his beloved “Christmas” (remember when he said Joe Biden would take away Christmas?!) for tens of millions of people who suffer from his mismanagement of the pandemic. If DDT had led the United States into health last March, hundreds of thousands of people in the nation wouldn’t have died, and hundreds of millions of others wouldn’t be living a life of deprivation and insecurity.

Stalling on the signing for several days, DDT still created more permanent misery. Twelve million people will get unemployment benefits for another 11 weeks, but those in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation programs for gig workers won’t get a payment for the final week of the year because DDT signed it Sunday instead of Saturday. In addition, the $300 federal enhancement may last only 10 weeks instead of 11. DDT pompously said he’d sign the bill but wanted Senate to increase stimulus checks to $2,000 with no congressional commitment. Republicans in the House have consistently turned down that amount. Info about the stimulus relief bill. 

Follow-up on DDT’s and AG Bill Barr’s executions from internal documents

  • Public explanations for the picks of executed prisoners misstated key facts from the cases.
  • One of the claims falsified the executed man “murdered … an 8-year-old girl.” He refused to kill her so the co-defendant, who received a life sentence instead of the death penalty, murdered the girl.  
  • The claim about the execution being for “the victims and families” was a lie: family members objected to one of the executions.
  • The claim that the first ten executions were of the oldest inmates sentenced to death is false.
  • The Justice Department didn’t review the prisoners’ physical or mental health before the execution: one had an IQ between 70 and 75, and the other suffered from schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Executions were done in the middle of the night.
  • One prisoner was strapped to the gurney with an IV to kill him while lawyers worked to remove a court order.
  • Another prisoner was executed during a pending appeal.
  • Executioners bought drugs from a secret pharmacy failing a quality test, drugs officials knew might not face a court scrutiny.
  • An “expert” witness hired to testify the drug is humane is not a physician or licensed care provider; he is a professor of chemistry and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University. The second witness is a retired California anesthesiologist.
  • An execution took 28 minutes for the man to die while he gasped for breath.
  • The government hired private executioners and paid them in cash.
  • Barr was the final authority for buying drugs and issuing public information, but he didn’t act alone.

More about DDT and Barr’s executions.  

Late last night, I posted a piece about Democratic socialism. This morning I read my partner’s Facebook page on the same subject. I was amazed because we had not talked about the subject. Hers is much better than mine—see below.   

“Democratic socialism is not socialism. Nor is it a political party. Democratic socialism protects our democracy by aiding capitalism and socialism to work together sharing in the welfare of the people.

“Government serves and protects, and privately owned business supports. Putting it bluntly, Democratic socialism is the fire department saving your house. Capitalism is the insurance company denying your claim. Democratic socialism collects taxes and returns our taxes back to us in services and protection such as building the infrastructure, Social Security, Medicare, police, fire, military, education—meaning all people collectively and equally reap the benefits. Capitalism produces the world in which we live, based upon supply and demand which, in turn, determines profit and loss for owners and stockholders in the privately owned sector.

“Both government and businesses provide the money for wages that, in turn, pay the taxes to the government and buy products from business. Working together. This was so successful during the middle part of last century that education became widely accessible, houses easy to buy, and the middle-class workers took home the greatest share of the wealth than ever before. Life was good. Too much vanilla but still good.

“Until Reagan. Again, bluntly put, under laissez-faire policies (no restrictions or limits) capitalism got greedy. Until Reagan, for every service or product capitalists provided to the government such as uniforms for the army, our government put a cap on what it would pay. Obviously limiting profits does not make any capitalist heart sing. And god knows how businesses love to raise prices any way they can.

“It was the rising oil prices that gave Reaganites a reason to attack government price limits. Along with the biggest cut in history for the rich, causing “stagflation” for the first time (rapid inflation and high unemployment), resulted in “trickle-down economy” which we now know does not work. Add destroying unions, and the removal of many price limits, especially military, in the Tax Reform Act, the stage was set for business takeover. Tragically for a stable economy, every time we got a tax cut Reagan Stagflation became the new norm.”

Thanks, Sue!

A few pieces from the past week or two. Only 23 days until Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) leaves the White House—one way or another, and the confusion is already in full swing. The White House emailed its employees to begin departing the premises on January 5, but two days later the White House Management Office emailed staff to disregard earlier message. “Updated information will be shared in the coming days.” Nothing since then.

Last Monday, more information about the cyber espionage reveals emails from Treasury Department senior officials have been hacked although Secretary Steve Mnuchin declares no classified information has been breached. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said no one knows the damage caused. Mnuchin said, “I can assure you, we are completely on top of this” but didn’t explain how no one detected the Russian presence in the system for over four months. Although Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agree on Russia as the hacking source, no public declaration has been announced. The Dow Jones market went down 200 points that day, and the subject largely disappeared from the media. Background of this espionage.   

After six months, the White House coronavirus task force no longer sends weekly state reports with data and recommendations unless states request them. There was no explanation for the change. In the December 20 reports, Tennessee had the largest COVID-19 cases per capita, and Oklahoma has the highest test positivity rate. South Dakota has the most deaths per capita. Like nine other states, none of these three states has a mandate to wear masks.

Only 1.94 million shots of the Pfizer vaccine were administered as of December 26 while about 9 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna sit in U.S. hospitals and elsewhere. DDT’s promise of 20 million vaccinations before the end of the year also carried little funding. The lag may come from the process of preparing the frozen shots, finding employees for vaccinating, and guaranteeing social distancing before and after vaccinations. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine, using an ordinary refrigerator and no need to specialized procedures to administer, may be available in February.

Two two major op-eds from the conservative Wall Street Journal in 2020 typify the misrepresentations and betrayals from DDT’s administration. In June, VP Mike Pence, head of the White House coronavirus task force, promised people that COVID-19 would have no “second wave,” that “such panic is overblown.” With fawning accolades for DDT’s fantastic leadership, he wrote about the containment of new outbreaks and “stabilized” cases. “We’ve saved lives,” he wrote. “That’s a cause for celebration, not the media’s fear mongering.” At that time, the U.S. passed 115,000 COVID-related deaths with about 750 deaths per day in the U.S. A little over six months later, the “stabilized” nation has almost tripled the number of deaths at 341,138 while the number of infections is over eight times the approximately 2,300,000 in mid-June.

A claim from Mick Mulvaney, sometimes CIA director or chief of staff or director of the Office of Management and Budget or special envoy to North Ireland under DDT, is a colossal joke. Instead of DDT being willing to “concede gracefully,” as Mulvaney promised four days after the election, DDT’s hateful claims and court cases about non-existent election fraud has infused the nation with hatred and violence for months to the extent of using martial law enforcing new elections. We’re still waiting for even “concede” almost eight weeks after the election, let alone “gracefully.”

December 26, 2020

Unity of Kwanzaa, Divisiveness of DDT

Saturday, the first day of the seven-day Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday to honor Black peoples’ ancestral roots, does not have a religious purpose. Everyone could follow its principles, those of working together to benefit all in a form of Democratic socialism, instead of tearing society apart. Kwanzaa for each day:

  • Unity: striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation and race.
  • Self-determination: defining, naming, creating and speaking for oneself.
  • Collective work and responsibility: uplifting the community by solving problems together.
  • Cooperative economics: economically uplifting the community by working together to build and maintain businesses.
  • Purpose: returning the community to its greatness.
  • Creativity: leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial.
  • Faith: believing in the people, parents, teachers, leader, and the struggle’s victory.

People can thank Democratic socialism for vaccinations against COVID-19. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) takes credit for the vaccine in a short time, but it comes from decades of medical research and development along with public-sector funding. Distribution comes from public funding—Democratic socialism in health departments. To those who claim God will prevent them from getting sick or dying, He doesn’t seem to be doing a good job these days.  

People who refer to Democratic socialism as the “radical left” and fight for almost nonexistent government involvement ignore the ways they benefit from the philosophy in the United States: police, fire departments, libraries, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, education, unemployment, workers’ compensation, food stamps, welfare to those in need such as farmers and oil companies, the military, transportation, roads and highways, parks and recreation, Federal Reserve Bank, courts, prisons, water and sewer, utilities in some areas—the basis for everyone’s everyday life.  

According to Democratic socialism, both economy and society should be run democratically to meet public needs, not to make profits for a very few. Corporate bureaucracies with business executives and wealthy stockholders should not control society by making decisions for the few and taking all the profits, leaving workers with unlivable low wages. Regulations and tax incentives can encourage companies to act in the public interest.

The Cares Act, passed in March to help people suffering from COVID-19 intended to help small businesses gave tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to big businesses. The new, not-yet-signed stimulus bill makes forgiven loans tax deductible—unlike charitable contributions—and creates a commission to oversee safety in horse racing. Republicans gave $6.3 billion in tax breaks to wealthy corporate backers but couldn’t manage another 25 percent to the bill for $2,000 checks. Seven months of COVID-19 gave U.S. billionaires an additional $931 billion, almost as much as the stimulus bill costs taxpayers.

Over two months ago, the top 1 percent of people in the U.S. owned 30.4 percent of all the nation’s household wealth while the bottom 50 percent had 1.9 percent of the assets. The wealthiest 10 percent have over 88 percent of all corporate equity and mutual fund shares, yet people look at the changes in stock markets to judge the economic health of the U.S. Under largely GOP control, these figures of income inequality, although currently skyrocketing, continue the increasing inequality during the past four decades. Income follows the same pattern.

Fair elections are another part of democracy. DDT claimed he would be working while at Mar-a-Lago, but Saturday he spent his time tweeting attacks against the recent election, ranting against the Supreme Court, the DOJ, the FBI, the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), GOP senators, and the U.S., which he called a third world nation.  DDT also called President-elect Joe Biden a “fake president.” Saying the election would be rigged if he lost, DDT has kept that promise to lie about election fraud. Now he claims he has “absolute proof” about non-existent widespread fraud and whines that no one will pay attention to it. There’s no evidence of any widespread fraud.

Another DDT lie comes from his mischaracterization of a year-old report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The IG found no evidence of political bias in the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign, only criticizing the handling of four FISA applications putting DDT’s adviser Carter Page under surveillance for 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions.” DDT maintained:

“The details of the report are far worse than anything I would have even imagined…This was an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.”

Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI,who worked under Robert Mueller at the bureau, said DDT had never seen the report and is “lying about it.”

DDT may not have been re-elected, but his incessant lies about election fraud makes Russia very, very happy, according to its state media. After its president, Vladimir Putin, recognized Joe Biden as the U.S. president-elect, the media expressed sympathy that “our candidate”—“poor, poor Trump”—will be leaving the Oval Office. The bright side of DDT’s loss to Russia, however, comes from DDT’s successful destruction of the U.S. political system. Russian political expert, Alexei Martynov, said, “They burned the reputation of U.S. institutions during these elections.” Evgeny Popov, the host of Russia’s 60 Minutes, added, “Let’s be glad about that,” and Deputy of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlyov concluded, “The worse for them, the better for us.” Popov pointed at the map to show how the U.S. is 50-50 divided—badly polarized.

According to the Russians, U.S. Republicans are disturbed because Biden is putting minorities into top-level positions. Dmitry Mikheev, who claims to be familiar with conservatives, said, “The whites aren’t being allowed in there. [The GOP] got scared.” Popov agreed, “And the head of the Department of Defense is Black. What is this? That must have been the red line.” Co-host Olga Skabeeva used racial slurs on Russian 60 Minutes, fitting the Russian tactic of sowing discord as described in Robert Mueller’s report from U.S. intelligence and supported by the Senate report. The GOP’s delight in DDT’s insulting minorities and vilifying immigrants works better than Russian disinformation as calls for division and violence comes from inside the White House.

Death defines DDT’s legacy—killing civilians in the Middle East, gutting environmental regulations, endorsing domestic violence, promoting rampant hunger, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to die from COVID-19, and executing more federal prisoners than any other person in the Oval Office since the 19th century. One execution, however, may not happen. The DOJ illegally scheduled the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, during a stay of execution, and a judge vacated her latest execution date for January 12. This month, Montgomery’s lawyers contracted COVID-19 while visiting their client and asked for additional time to file a clemency petition. The execution can’t be scheduled until January 1, 2021, and a death-row inmate must be notified at least 20 days before the execution—in this case, January 21—which is the day after Biden’s inauguration. Two other federal inmates scheduled to be executed in January are positive for coronavirus, and their attorneys are also seeking delays. Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.”

After a 17-year hiatus, DDT’s DOJ executed ten federal prisoners in 2020, the total killed by Grover Cleveland in 1896. One of the executed men wasn’t present at any murder, and jury members now question the capital punishment. Three of the ten have been during DDT’s lame-duck session, the first series of federal executions in this time period since the 19th century. Until 2020, only three other federal inmates were executed since the reinstatement of the penalty in 1988, and no federal inmates were executed since 2003. State executions are at a 37-year low, only seven in five southern states during 2020 and all before July 8. State death sentences dropped to 18, the fewest since the Supreme Court struck down capital punishments statutes in 1972.

DDT also plans to cover up for the Saudi Arabian murders of U.S. residents—the three U.S. servicemen killed by a Saudi officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station a year ago and the Washington Post journalist killed at the Saudi embassy in Turkey over two years ago. Eight other service members were wounded in the Pensacola attack. The service member’s families have never heard from the White House and are still waiting for the attack’s solution and the Saudi royal family to take care of them, as DDT promised. He is considering legal immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from a federal lawsuit for targeting a former intelligence officer for assassination, leading to the dismissal of these other cases against MBS as well as Saudi’s involvement in 3,000 people killed in the U.S. on 9/11/01. Such action removes any legal actions in other murders of U.S. residents. With the Saudi officer murderer having “significant” ties to al-Qaeda, the killings mark the first successful deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. In justifying his obsequious attitude toward the Saudis, DDT says, “We do a lot of business with them.” By that, he may mean personal business with his companies.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are due to hit 20 million by the end of the year; deaths will rise to 350,000. DDT never mentions them.

December 25, 2020

End of 2020: Light from the Dark

On Christmas Day, we should have good news. Here are pieces from the past few weeks.

President-elect Joe Biden has slowed down in making appointments the past week but found a highly qualified replacement for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Connecticut’s commission of public schools Miguel Cardona moved from assistant superintendent in a district of 9,000 students to this appointment in fewer than two years. Born to Puerto Rican parents living in public housing, he first taught fourth-graders before he became the state’s youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named the state’s principal of the year. Billionaire DeVos was educated in private schools, never taught, and focused on giving all her budget to private, preferably religious, schools. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called him a “very, very solid” candidate.

Cardona’s background includes working to provide technology while pushing to reopen schools during the pandemic. His concern on equity issues led Connecticut to become the first state to require high school courses in Black and Latino studies under his tenure. Biden wants to triple the $15 billion Title I funds supporting high-poverty schools and double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools, provide new money for school infrastructure, and increase federal spending for special education. He also proposed forgiving college debt and making community college free.

California’s governor Gavin Newsom has selected his secretary of state Alex Padilla to replace VP-elect Kamala Harris, making him the state’s first Latino senator from California. The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla went to MIT, the LA City Council, and the state senate, before his current job. He and Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) will join four other Latinos in the Senate. With Harris gone, the chamber has no Black woman, but in 26 days the U.S. will have a Black and Indian woman.

The Georgia runoff for two incumbent GOP senators heated up on the day after the general election in early November—court cases to suppress the vote and massive lies from the conservatives. A federal judge agreed on a settlement between civil rights groups and the postal service for measures to guarantee absentee ballots arrive in time for the January 5 election deadline. Georgia postal facilities are required to regularly sweep for undelivered ballots until the election and use expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots, and the plaintiffs agreed to not ask the Washington, D.C. circuit court for any other orders in their cases until after the elections. First class postal service during the past month has suffered serious delays because of Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts, supported by DDT’s DOJ, to dismantle the promptness of delivery services.

A Fulton County judge rejection of a lawsuit permits voters to continuing using drop boxes 24 hours a day until polls close in Georgia on January 6. The county, generally voting Democratic, has a population of over one million. The State Election Board approved the disputed rule earlier this year. Republicans also lost their cases to stop the use of drop boxes, block early processing of mail ballots, and institute stricter signature verification procedures. Plaintiffs were barred from filing new lawsuits, but they can still appeal. Another trauma for Republicans comes from the 76,000 new registrations, 57 percent of them under the age of 35.

Another lawsuit, also rejected by a federal judge, would have removed the ballots of new Georgia residents from the senator runoff in a misreading of the federal Voting Rights Act. That was followed by a demand to the removal of Dominion software and equipment from use in the Georgia election. Conspiracy theorists also claim people are racing to Georgia to vote Democratic.

Over 1.4 million people in Georgia, 132,000 more than in the recent general election, have submitted applications for absentee ballots, down only 4 percent from the number of mail ballot applications at this point in the run-up to the general election. The deadline for requests is January 1. On the first day of early voting, the 168,000 voters had a 27-percent greater turnout than for the first day of the presidential election. Since early voting began on December 14, 2020, 1.3 million people have voted in person, and another 721,000 absentee ballots have also been received. About 5 million people in Georgia voted in November.

DDT has attacked the U.S. people with over 60 lawsuits to disenfranchise their votes, but litigation is now directed at him, for example one accusing him and the GOP of conspiring to violate Black voters’ rights. The case goes beyond a cease and desist; it asks DDT and the RNC to obtain court approval before demanding accounts or other “post-election activities.” A federal judge order barring the RNC from “ballot security” activities was lifted only three years ago after in effect for 36 years. Claims of intimidation, threats, and voter disenfranchisement came from voter roll purges and payment to police officers for patrolling sites in primarily Black and Latino areas. The new lawsuit, under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act, charges the defendants of purposefully focusing voter challenges on cities with large Black populations.

Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, companies making election voting equipment, also threaten defamation charges against DDT’s attorney Sidney Powell and conservative media outlets, demanding retractions of false claims in rigging the election. Fox, Newsmax, and OAN already played the video refuting the fraud. DDT’s campaign told staffers to preserve documents in preparation for a lawsuit. Dominion’s lawyer, Tom Clare, won a $1 million verdict in a defamation lawsuit after Rolling Stone alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. The case was finally settled out of court.

Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems, in hiding after receiving death threats, is suing not only the lawyers but also the conservative networks and pundits along with evangelical radio host Eric Metaxas for “relentless defamation and ongoing threats.” Another defendant, Joseph Oltmann, founded a nonprofit and media business to uncover Antifa activists and also impugned Coomer. He has been branded a traitor to the U.S. a terrorist, and a criminal of the highest order.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel announced her office will file bar complaints against Powell, DDT’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and other lawyers who attacked state and local election officials as well as attempted to disenfranchise voters and overturn the election. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) also plans to file complaints against Giuliani and the other lawyers representing DDT and the GOP.

An attorney opposing one of DDT’s election fraud cases has also filed for sanctions against DDT’s lawyers.

Federal judges can sanction lawyers filing cases “for any improper purpose, such as to harass” or who press “frivolous” claims. They repeatedly called out Powell for failing to follow court rules and rejected her efforts to overturn Biden’s win. Attorneys’ ethics rules include similar language prohibiting lawyers from abusing the legal system and bringing frivolous claims.

Maricopa County (AZ) supervisors refuse to comply with subpoenas from the state Senate Judiciary Committee for over 2 million ballots cast in the November election.

A Delaware Superior Court judge threatened to revoke Lin Wood’s legal representation of DDT’s former adviser Carter Page because Wood’s Georgia suit had “no basis in fact or law” and his Wisconsin suit had “multiple deficiencies.” Page is suing Yahoo! News and Huffpost for defamation.  

Among DDT’s chaos in the past week, Robert E. Lee’s statue has been removed from the nation’s capitol. Virginia chose the traitor as one of its two designated monuments in the federal Statuary Hall over a century ago. He led the failed Confederate army during the Civil War and lost his plantation, now Arlington Cemetery. According to Virginia’s commission, a statue of Barbara Johns may replace Lee. In 1951, Johns, 16 years old at the time, led a two-week walkout protesting substandard educational conditions at her segregated all-Black high school. The following litigation became part of Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. Virginia’s General Assembly needs to approve the commission’s decision. Mississippi has yet to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, treasonous Confederate president, and Georgia still has treasonous Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens. At least six other treasonous Confederates are also honored in Statutory Hall.

A split Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled police must have probable cause for a crime to conduct warrantless searches in the state. Of the 2,000 searches a month, 80 percent have been on Black drivers, but police found contraband only 12 percent of the time.  

A Fairfax County (VA) judge ruled the portraits of White judges must be removed for a Black defendant’s proceedings because he cannot get a fair trial from the implied bias.  

The conservative Gallup poll finds that DDT’s approval rating has dropped seven points since the election to 39 percent. Congress gets 15 percent approval. By contrast, Biden’s approval rating at 65 percent is 27 points higher than DDT’s rating at his inauguration in 2016. He never reached higher than 49 percent approval during his four years and averaged 39 percent over the four years.  

December 24, 2020

DDT, GOP Leave Coal in Stockings

Today is the day before Christmas, and all the GOP members of Congress should be “nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” After all, all except one senator happily voted not to impeach/convict Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The House Republicans unanimously voted against impeachment on December 18, 2019, and all 53 GOP senators exonerated him of abuse of power on February 2, 2020. Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting DDT for obstruction of Congress. Justifying their votes for not convicting DDT of these crimes, GOP senators proudly said he had “learned his lesson.”

Two days after the Senate vote, DDT fired witnesses Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified in the impeachment inquiry, along with Vindman’s twin brother Yevgeny, who had nothing to do with the impeachment. That retaliation began the downward spiral of DDT’s vicious behavior. By now, some of those supporters may have learned their lesson—that DDT will make life hell for anyone opposes him and anyone connected to his opposition.

Republicans are finally losing their temper openly after they faithfully followed White House orders on the stimulus/spending bill, and he—again—betrayed them. Never matter that 126 House members faithfully followed DDT down the rabbit hole by joining a seditious lawsuit in the Supreme Court to overturn a legal election for president, furthering polarizing a badly-divided, formerly democratic country. Angry messages from congressional members inundating White House aides claim, correctly, that DDT abandoned them after the White House told them it supported the bill and asked for their votes. DDT has repeatedly told they can’t trust him: one of his favorite statements, “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

House Democrats now support DDT, and the bill, by unanimously voting in favor of increasing the stimulus checks to $2,000, but House Republicans procedurally stymied the vote. One can imagine DDT grimly chortling on his Florida golf course about his latest chaos. Democrats support people while the GOP wants money and power. Republicans gave DDT everything he could have wanted to get their conservative judicial activists, including support for overturning the election in his favor and protection in concealing his finances. In return, they found coal in their stockings. Santa didn’t like Republicans this year, and DDT blocked them from “Merry Christmas!” Apparently, enabling and sycophantism didn’t pay off in 2020.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) was so disgusted with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rejected the amendment that she banged the gavel, saying “Merry Christmas!” in a less than positive way. The House is adjourned until Monday afternoon for a floor vote on DDT’s request for $2,000 checks. Dingell’s statement after the adjournment:

“It is Christmas Eve, but it is not a silent night. All is not calm. For too many, nothing is bright. And for too many, they are not sleeping peacefully. I gave a town hall last night that had people crying, people terrified of what is going to happen… I’ve been talking to people who are scared they’re going to be kicked out from their homes during the Christmas holiday, and still might be if we don’t sign this bill.”

McCarthy tried to make Pelosi the scapegoat by attacking her in a letter for trying to “use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding.” He also framed himself as protector of people in the U.S.:

“The top priority must be our families, communities, and small businesses as we get through this pandemic and restore our country.”

Yet he refuses DDT’s call for more direct payment which Pelosi supports and accused Democrats of “selective hearing” for not cutting the $2 billion in foreign aid DDT opposes. McCarthy plans a bill to cut that funding while not providing anything for people in the U.S. It’s “austerity” time for Republicans with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House.  

On CNN Sunday, Romney mourned the loss of the Republican party, how the GOP he knew even eight years ago when he ran for president is gone:

“I represent a very small slice of the Republican Party today. We were a party concerned about balancing the budget. We believed in trade with other nations. We were happy to play a leadership role on the world stage, because we felt that made us safer and more prosperous. And we believed that character was essential in the leaders that we chose. We have strayed from that. I don’t see us returning to that for a long time.”

Romney plans to stay a Republican, saying he wants to work within the party instead of from outside. Member of the anti-DDT Lincoln Project Kurt Bardella, however, explained why he changed his registration from GOP to Democrat:

“I appreciate where Romney is coming from, but there comes a point where an institution is so thoroughly broken it must be rebuilt someplace else. The party’s true platform has become a toxic combination of authoritarianism and white nationalism. Rebuilding the party will require dismantling it. And helping in that cause doesn’t mean becoming an Independent or agitating for a third party…

“At the start of the Trump presidency, anti-Trumpers who identified as Republicans stayed with the team hoping that their policy positions would still form the basis of a Republican agenda. That experiment is over.

“If you were a Republican because you believed in fiscal restraint, under Trump the debt and deficit have exploded. If you were a Republican because you believed the GOP was stronger on national and homeland security, just look at what Trump said this week in cynically downplaying Russia’s cyberattack against our country. If you are a Republican because you believe in law and order, examine the records of the corrupt people Trump just gave pardons and commutations to. If you are a Republican because you are pro-life, there are 324,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 to call into question the GOP’s commitment to the sanctity of life.”

By Christmas Eve, the number of people dying from the virus in the U.S. is 327,000, and an additional 100,000 people died in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2020. The leadership of the “pro-life” party made the U.S. the deadliest year in history, topping three million deaths. The over 400,00 mortality increase over 2019 is a percentage leap not seen since the 1918 flu epidemic and World War I deaths. The number of deaths fell in 2019 with reductions in heart disease and cancer fatalities, and life expectancy crept higher for the second straight year. In 2020, the increase in deaths will force life expectancy up to three full years lower.

DDT may have spent the day on the golf course, but he took time out to tweet threats of military conflict against Iran. Last weekend, a weekend rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad injured one Iraqi but no Americans. DDT wrote:

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”

Iran denied perpetrating the attack and warned DDT against “dangerous adventurism.” DDT is running out of ways to overturn a legal presidential election—court cases, appeals for state legislatures taking over electoral votes, declaration of martial law for a new election, even “requests” for VP Mike Pence to overturn the election at the congressional joint session on January 6. DDT doesn’t understand Pence merely presides over the proceedings and doesn’t make the final decision. DDT’s next ploy may be to start a war using the warped belief people will be forced to leave him in the White House in the midst of a war.

Foreign policy analysts have cautioned for weeks about DDT attacking Iran to sabotage any diplomacy and return to the nuclear deal in the Biden administration. Last month, DDT checked on ways to bomb Iran’s primary nuclear energy site, and earlier this month, the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran.

Some new House GOP representatives, including QAnn members Laurie Boebert (CO) and Marjorie Greene (GA), want to bring their guns onto the House floor. Greene wants every place in the nation to be “gun free zones,” including visitors’ galleries in congressional chambers.

The media is suspicious about the photoshopping of DDT and Melania Trump’s last Christmas portrait. His expression is identical to the one of a series taken last year with the Prince of Wales, and a photo expert compared the image to a paper cutout. Is it possible the two can’t even get close enough for a joint photo op? No doubt, Melania finds the next 27 days waiting to leave the White House as difficult as people in the U.S. do. 

December 23, 2020

DDT Plays President for a Day

Another day, 26 more pardons and three commutations from lame duck  and “law and order” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) category including his felon friends and a family member along with others convicted of cyber crimes, firearm possession, and mail fraud. A sampling:

DDT’s son-in-law’s father: Charles Kushner, imprisoned after pleading guilty to 18 charges of tax evasion, witness tampering, and illegal campaign donations.  In early 2019, Chris Christie, who prosecuted the case in 2005, said Kushner committed “one of the most loathsome, disgusting crimes” he had prosecuted in his hiring a prostitute to lure his brother-in-law into having sex and then sending the tape to Kushner’s wife for revenge.

Advisers indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller and convicted: On home confinement after two years in prison, Paul Manafort, briefly DDT’s campaign manager, admitted his crimes, agreed to cooperate with Mueller, lied to prosecutors, and tried to interfere with witnesses in crimes of bank and tax fraud, illegal foreign lobbying, and witness tampering. Manafort may face charges in New York which cannot be pardoned by a president. Despite AG Bill Barr’s attempt to save Roger Stone, DDT’s friend was sentenced for obstruction of Congress and threatening a witness before DDT commuted his sentence earlier this year.

The wife of former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) pardoned yesterday: Margaret Hunter pled guilty to conspiring “knowingly and willingly” to convert campaign funds for personal use.

Former Ron Paul presidential campaign aides: John Tate and Jesse Benton, involved in a plot to make hidden payments in exchange for an endorsement. Tate and Benton spent two years on probation and paid $10,000 for corrupting the 2012 Iowa caucus process after they secretly paid then-Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson $73,000 to shift support from presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul. Sen. Rand Paul, Ron Paul’s son, asked for the clemency; DDT is counting on him to support overturning Biden’s election on January 6.

The others are listed here

DDT destroyed two appropriation bills just hours before he left for Mar-a-Lago today, perhaps until after the inauguration. Silent during negotiation of the spending bill including a stimulus relief bill, DDT permitted Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to settle the $600 checks for everyone making under $75,000 a year. The bill passed by huge majorities in both congressional chambers before DDT insisted the check amount to be $2,000. If he continues to obstruct the bill, it will not see the light of day in the 116th Congress. With ten days, minus Sundays, in which to sign it, DDT could wait out the time until January 4, the day after the 117th Congress is sworn out, and two days after all the bills disappear and need to be taken up anew.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her GOP counterparts that Democrats are ready to pass the $2,000 checks by New Year’s Eve to save the bill, but Republicans refuse the idea. The GOP will then be responsible for critical provisions’ running out at the end of the month including unemployment programs, which pushes almost 5 million people into poverty overnight. Mnuchin had promised to start sending out the $600 checks next week because he knew nothing about DDT’s objections.

DDT’s threat has split Republicans. The House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told House Republicans the will is “tainted,“ but some of them recognize the GOP will take the blame for failure. Rep, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said, “We will have a hell of a time getting this out of people’s head,” and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said DDT had thrown House Republicans under the bus.

The question is whether Republicans will stick with their congressional leadership, who negotiated the bill, or DDT, who will savage those who oppose him. Another fallout could come in January when both chambers select their leaders.

Democrats can come out ahead. One day ago, they faced criticism for accepting the faulty $900 billion relief package; now the GOP may be killing it. Georgia’s GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, whose elections are in less than two weeks, may also take the fall. McConnell had counted on the relief checks to reelect the two; now their opponents are calling on them to support the $2,000 checks.

Even with the agreement to increase the amount in individual checks, DDT says he wants to turn down the spending bill because of foreign aid worth under $2 billion, but he’s only searching for reasons to throw the U.S. economy into chaos before President-elect Joe Biden takes over. To complicate matters, McCarthy and McConnell promise to unanimously get rid of the foreign aid on a unanimous basis, something Democrats may not support.

Waiting until the ten days allotted for addressing bills, DDT vetoed the $741 billion National Defense Authorization Act, using his latest excuse of its not protecting the U.S. from China. The NDAA has passed every year for the past six decades. In this case, Congress could override his veto in the next few days. Yet Congress needs to pass another Continuing Resolution to the budget to keep the government from shutting down on January 28. There is no guarantee, however, DDT will sign that C.R.

A classic response to DDT’s actions came from a GOP aide, calling the situation a “complete clusterf—.” No one, not even his own aides and officials, knows what DDT wants. Without a resolution, the government could have its fourth government shutdown in DDT’s four years. He is accelerating his style of grabbing attention while planning for his next re-election, this one in 2024. Newt Gingrich said he hoped DDT will sign the bill after he “sends a signal he wants to help people more.” Two years ago, DDT threatened to veto a $1.3 trillion spending bill before signing it, but he’s in much worse emotional state two years later.

With DDT’s campaign team shut down, he listens to only the White House staff who agree with his seditious agenda. He pressured over 150 GOP leaders in the battleground states he lost, trying to persuade them into overturning the popular vote. According to the report based on interviews with 22 Trump aides, local and states officials, Republicans, and elections experts:

“In total, the president talked to at least 31 Republicans, encompassing mostly local and state officials from four critical battleground states he lost—Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. The contacts included at least 12 personal phone calls to 11 individuals, and at least four White House meetings with 20 Republican state lawmakers, party leaders, and attorneys general, all people he hoped to win over to his side. Trump also spoke by phone about his efforts with numerous House Republicans and at least three current or incoming Senate Republicans.”

Anita Kumar and Gabby Orr tracked DDT’s attempts to overturn the election.

Republican attacks on November’s election are still working their way through the courts in a reversal of former GOP ideology. After virulently complaining about “judicial activism” when judges ruled in favor of human rights, the GOP uses a sledgehammer on courts to push their personal wishes, legal or not. For years, the GOP used the court in its attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act, give DDT “absolute immunity” from subpoenas, and, now, overturn a legal election. The GOP position is so wrong that at least eight DDT-appointed judges to be the most conservative in the nation have not supported his evidence-free allegations election fraud.

The Republican Party championing judicial restraint and opposition of courts’ imposing policy preferences on society now has no legitimate, consistent jurisprudential philosophy. It’s all about the results: killing the Affordable Care Act, granting DDT “absolute immunity” from subpoenas, and, worst of all, overturning a presidential election based on no evidence at all. The Federalist Society taught all DDT’s judges, who the GOP Senate faithfully confirmed, to defer to executive authority, put its conservative social agenda over precedent and law, and use “religious liberty” to violate laws. These judges believe they can actually know exactly what the people who wrote the Constitution were thinking although the same judges ignore the 14th Amendment giving due process rights instead of staying faithful to the document’s language and the government’s structure.

Fortunately, even the most conservative of judges almost universally agreed courts have no power to “grant the relief” desired by Republicans—in this case overthrowing an election. As Jennifer Rubin, a GOP columnist, wrote:

“The courts’ words might fall on deaf ears among the Trumpian right, but it should provide comfort to the rest of the country that unlike the Republicans who nominated and confirmed them, even “conservative” judges feel duty-bound to act in a judicial capacity—not as handmaidens to an authoritarian party that cares only that its side wins.”

Not all DDT’s judges understand the importance of the law. Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh attacked Democrats, and others reversed precedent because they can. But thus far, democracy survives.

Officials have finally found a case of voter fraud so frantically sought by DDT’s supporters. Bruce Bartman, 70, pretended to be his dead mother to vote in Delaware County (PA). The vote was for DDT. Bartman was charged with unlawful voting and perjury. A database has found 193 convicted cases of voter fraud between 1000 and 2020, when 250 million votes were cast. Maybe judges understand the lack of election fraud.

Today, self-identified super-Christian VP Mike Pence said to his Florida rally audience:

“[Democrats] want to make rich people poorer and poor people more comfortable.”

That’s a bad thing? Twenty-seven days until Pence moves out of public housing.

December 22, 2020

DDT Creates More Chaos in Budget, Pardons

In the morning, news looks fairly calm. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) looks petulant or demanding while he hides in the White House, no events on his calendar, and the countdown to his departure continues—four weeks! By late afternoon, the bombshells drop.

One is the granting of 15 pardons and five commutations for a variety of killers and felons, some of whom can donate to his future campaigns. A sampling of “clemency” from the self-professed “law and order” leader:

The first two men convicted in Robert Mueller’s investigation between Russia and DDT’s campaign during his 2016 campaign: Serving 14 days in prison, DDT’s foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with a London-based professor claiming Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Serving 30 days in prison, Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan pled guilty to lying about his work with Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign chair, in efforts related to Ukraine.

Four lawmakers convicted of insider trading and other crimes: Former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), using hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for vacations, theater tickets, etc., had faced 11 months in federal prison. Former Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), caught in an insider-trading scheme while he was at a White House event, was serving 26 months in prison. Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), convicted of conspiring to take thousands of dollars in donations meant for charity and voter education, was two years into a ten-year sentence. Lawyer Sidney Powell, fired by DDT’s campaign, had sought clemency for Stockman. Utah state Rep. Phil Lyman was sentenced to ten days in jail for participating in a 2014 ATV demonstration protesting federal land management.

Four Blackwater private security contractors, former veterans, murdering and wounding civilians in an unprovoked  massacre: The killers worked for Erik Prince, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ brother, when they used sniper fire, machine guns, and grenade launchers on people in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

Two former Border Patrol agents convicted of killing a suspected drug smuggler: George W. Bush had already commuted their sentences.

Four men and women recommended by Alice Johnson, whose prison sentence for a drug conviction had been commuted: Johnson was a speaker at DDT’s summer GOP convention and soon received a full pardon.

A former healthcare mogul convicted of being central in one of the biggest Medicare fraud cases in the U.S. and paying bribes for favors: Philip Esformes was required to pay $44 million to the government after a 2019 trial in Miami sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) summarized DDT’s pardons and commutations:

“If you lie to cover up for the President, you get a pardon. If you are a corrupt politician who endorsed Trump, you get a pardon. If you murder civilians while at war, you get a pardon.It goes to show, if you elect a corrupt man as President of the United States, you get corruption—and lots of it.”

Another bombshell was DDT’s threat to veto the stimulus relief bill. Following the bill’s passage, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, DDT’s negotiator who proposed the $600 relief checks for people, lauded the measure, but relief was short lived. DDT wants to make individual checks $2,000 instead of $600 and to strike provisions he dislikes:

“I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items from this legislation and to send me a suitable bill, or else the next administration will have to deliver a Covid relief package. And maybe that administration will be me, and we will get it done.”

Confusing the stimulus bill with the budget, he trashed such items in the spending bill as approximately $2 billion for foreign aid, $1 billion for the Smithsonian, $154 million for the National Gallery of Art, and $40 million for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. That last amount is equivalent to 13 of DDT’s trips to Mar-a-Lago.

The bill originally passed with a veto-proof vote, but Republicans may join House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who said he won’t vote against DDT’s veto. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took DDT’s threats in stride, saying the House would pass the increased amount for stimulus checks. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tweeted Democrats would try to pass a separate bill on Thursday for $2,000 direct payments. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stated that Democrats wanted the $2,000 payments only to face opposition by DDT’s own party members.The stimulus bill is part of the spending bill; vetoing the bill would drive the country into a shutdown next Monday without a Continuing Resolution—again.

In addition to items I gave yesterday for the $900 billion stimulus bill, $35 billion was provided for renewable energies and calls for cutting greenhouse gases. The money includes $4 billion for research and development of wind, solar, and geothermal; $1.7 billion expanding access to renewables to low-income Americans; and $2.6 billion for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation project. The Energy Department is also required to prioritize funding for research in powering the U.S. with 100 percent “clean, renewable, or zero-emission energy sources. The EPA will begin phasing out hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, in air conditioners by 85 percent before 2035.

Another $7 billion was assigned for high-speed internet and payment for monthly bills, almost half the money going to low-income families to help them stay online after losing their jobs. The funding also expands internet service in hard-to-read regions, upgrade infrastructure with security flaws, and map connectivity for future funding.

Another provision of the stimulus measure creates a small claims court where online content creators can take on infringers of the copyright law instead of the federal courts to receive damages. The measure streamlines court actions and saves creators money. Only one independent, Justin Amash (MI), and five Republicans voted against it:  Warren Davidson (OH), Greg Gianforte (MT), Trent Kelly (MS), Thomas Massie (KY), and Ralph Norman (SC). The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE) uses “Copyright Claims Officers” to work with both parties to resolve lawsuit claims. Damages would be capped at $15,000 for each infringed work, topping out at $30,000. Infringements of creative work have been greatly simplified by the internet.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) successfully stopped the requirement for employers to pay sick leave to workers who get infected with COVID-19.

For conservatives, the spending bill provides $110 billion in tax breaks for special interest groups—liquor producers, motorsports entertainment, and electric motorcycle manufacturers. People receive about $1.5 billion in annual tax breaks, either part of the code or supposedly annual advantages renewed year after year because of lobbying. The Space Force also received $2.4 billion, and sexual-abstinence programs, proved to be useless, received $35 million. The Navy got $4 billion for weapons procurement, above the defense act giving the military $741 billion.

One positive provision granted a Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum and a National Museum of the American Latino. Earlier, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) had blocked this issue; he claims it the basis that it polarized people.

Instead of the ten percent increase in the medical expense deduction for 2021, the percentage was stayed at 7.5 percent permanently. Thus all medical expenses over 7.5 percent of the adjusted gross income can be deducted for everyone. Only seniors had benefited from the lower percentage since the Affordable Care Act was passed ten years ago until DDT’s “tax cuts” bill of 2017 brought the percentage for everyone back to 7.5 percent on an annual basis.

DDT is still meeting with people to orchestrate the overturn of President-elect Joe Biden’s win, the latest one with a dozen House GOP members. They spent over three hours planning strategy for January 6. DDT has been lobbying Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), to be sworn in on January 3, to join the representatives for protest to electoral votes by populations of swing states. For success, the Democratic-controlled House would have to vote to take the legitimate election win from Democrats Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris. The process can still be messy, perhaps going into January 7. Republicans feasted on pigs in a blanket at the White House.

Deteriorating from his election loss, DDT has turned on more allies, starting with VP Mike Pence, who will run the January 6 joint congressional session to announce the electoral votes. He is also attacking Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and McConnell for not fighting for his overturning the election and won’t ask state legislatures to reverse the electoral votes for him instead of the people’s choice. DDT bases his paranoia on an anti-DDT Lincoln Project TV ad stating Pence will be responsible for certifying Biden’s victory and run against him for president. 

DDT also attacked Sen. John Thune (R-SD), declaring his “political career [is] over!” There was no explanation for DDT’s anger, but Thune disagreed with DDT fighting Biden’s win in the January 6 joint congressional session. Even televangelist Pat Robertson no longer supports DDT. He called on DDT to concede and said he lives in an “alternative reality.”

Officials have finally found a case of voter fraud so frantically sought for by DDT’s supporters. Bruce Bartman, 70, pretended to be his dead mother to vote in Delaware County (PA). The vote was for DDT. Bartman was charged with unlawful voting and perjury. A database has found 193 convicted cases of voter fraud between 1000 and 2020, when 250 million votes were cast.

No Government Shutdown, Little Funding

The threat of the holiday 2020 government shutdown has been averted if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) signs the $2.3 trillion budget bill. Included in the bill is $900 billion for coronavirus relief. Congress already passed the $741 billion defense bill which DDT has not yet signed and promised to veto. He has until Wednesday before it goes into law unless he vetoes it in that time.

The House passed the budget by 359-53, the Senate by 92-6. The White House said DDT will sign the measure. The six GOP senators voting against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), Rand Paul (KY), Rick Scott (FL), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee (UT), and Ted Cruz (TX).  

DDT has signed a one-week Continuing Resolution to give time for the budget’s paperwork preparation.   

Last May, the House passed a $3 billion stimulus bill; it passed another one for $2.2 trillion in October. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to go above $1.1 trillion but finally settled on $900 billion in his attempt to get two GOP incumbent senators re-elected in Georgia on January 5. Arguments about the contents of the bill included the inclusion of stimulus checks, extended unemployment, and assistance for state and local governments—all opposed by Republicans. The GOP wanted no liability for lack of safety from COVID-19 and the elimination of any programs to use money from the Treasury Department rainy-day fund to save the country from financial crisis. Republicans lost both of these as well as financial help for states. The 5,593-page measure probably has lots of mystery items because lawmakers had only a few hours to consider it. A few openers:

  • $1.375 billion for 56 miles of DDT’s border wall;
  • $5 million for a database to track police misconduct;
  • $153 million for programs to better community relations with police;
  • 3 percent pay raise for military;
  • 1 percent pay raise for the civilian federal workforce.

Critics have pointed out that the “stimulus” bill is quite skimpy, especially the direct aid: 

  • $166 billion: the federal unemployment insurance supplement of $300 a week, extended for 11 weeks;
  • $120 billion: direct aid checks of $600 a person making under $75,000;
  • $284 billion: forgivable loans for businesses paying for rent and workers;
  • $15 billion: live venues, movie theaters, and other entertainment;
  • [several billion]: other Small Business Administration programs;
  • $82 billion: colleges and schools with $54 billion going to public schools;
  • $69 billion: vaccines ($22 billion – testing and tracing, $20 billion – vaccine procurement, $9 billion – vaccine distribution);
  • $45 billion: transportation, including $15 billion for the airline industry;
  • $25 billion: rental assistance and an extension of the moratorium on evictions;
  • $20 billion: Economic Injury Disaster Loans;
  • $13 billion: food-assistance programs, increasing the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit by 15 percent;
  • $10 billion: childcare assistance.

States and cities have a full year to use funding from last March’s Cares Act bill. In another measure, health providers must work with insurers for a fair price in case of unexpectedly out-of-network care to avoid massive bills. Republicans get a tax break on “three-martini lunch” because Democrats wanted expanded tax credits for low income families and the working poor. DDT lobbied for that benefit. Lawmakers claim this bill is only a starter for help, but McConnell will almost surely not allow another one. The GOP firmly believes in austerity when a Democrat is president.

Oregon hit national news when about 300 heavily armed white supremacists, including Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, broke into the state capitol during a one-day special legislative session. The far-right protesters attacked police with spray chemical agents, broke glass in the doors, and tore tarps from vandalized marble reliefs on the front steps. Streets around the capitol were closed, and residents were told to avoid the area. DDT has gone silent about any protesters, including the Antifa, because of the white supremacists’ unprovoked attacks on people. [Left: a protester at the Oregon capitol.]

Arizona’s GOP Chair Kelli Ward wants DDT to “cross the Rubicon,” the illegal action Julius Caesar took to change the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire through civil war and require people to swear fealty to him and not their country.

Caught up in a conspiracy theory, air-conditioner installer David Lopez-Zuniga was going to work in a small cargo truck filled with parts last October when a SUV deliberately struck his truck and forced him to the edge of the highway. Feigning an injury, Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police officer who believed the truck had 750,000 fraudulent ballots, ordered Lopez Zuniga to the ground and pointed a gun at his head. Aguirre claimed “Hispanic children” were used to sign ballots because their fingerprints weren’t in any databases. Steven Hotze, head of a conservative nonprofit, hired Aguirre as one of 20 investigators looking into Texas ballot fraud—conspiracy theories fed by DDT and his court cases. Aguirre was fired from the Houston police force in 2003 for ordering the arrest of 300 people in a retail store parking lot, some of them shopping. He claimed drag racing, and the city paid almost $1 million to settle multiple lawsuits. Aguirre refused to say why he picked Lopez-Zuniga and called the charges a “political prosecution.”  

AG Bill Barr has until Wednesday in office, and he opposes special investigators for both Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, and election fraud. He also thinks DDT is wrong with his rejection that Russia is behind the current cyber espionage; he said the hacking “certainly appears” to be from the Kremlin. On Monday, DDT told a tea party conference he won in a landslide and wants the Justice Department to back him in overturning the election. Barr also said there is no reason for seizing voting machines, something Sidney Powell talked about with DDT Sunday at the White House. DDT’s campaign had fired Powell because of her history of false claims. 

Boeing’s 737 MAX is back in the air after being grounded for 21 months ago, but a bipartisan Senate report describes how the company and the FAA manipulated its recertification tests after the two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. Boeing “inappropriately coached” FAA test pilots for the airplane’s desirable outcome with some tests on simulators not equipped to recreate the same conditions as the crashes. The FAA also retaliated against whistleblowers, blocking the investigation, didn’t hold senior managers accountable, and permitted Southwest Airlines to operate dozens of falsely certified planes.

The post office is again failing to deliver packages on time. This time the reason is heavy e-commerce and COVID-19 infections/exposures among almost 20,000 employees. DDT’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage of USPS delivery, especially of ballots, worsened the situation by trashing sorting machines and cutting back on overtime. Georgia’s election, with a deadline on January 5, has a request for 1.3 million mail-in ballots.

Last August, Russians poisoned Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Almost dying, Navalny tricked the Russian assigned to tail Navalny into explaining the method of poisoning: the lethal nerve agent Novichok was planted inside the crotch of his underpants. Konstantin Kudryavtsev believed he was being debriefed by a senior official from Russia’s National Security Council and talked about traveling to Siberia to clean up the evidence. Navalny probably lived because his flight was diverted to Omsk where he was treated within minutes of landing. When Kudryavtsev got the clothing, he applied solutions to destroy any evidence of poison, according to directions from Stanislav Makshakov, the official in charge of the toxin team.

Russia’s four-year ban from international sports competition may be cut in half, but the country will still miss the next two Olympics and the World Cup. No flag, no anthem, no presence at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics, 2022 Winter Games (Beijing), and other competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, the Youth Olympic Games, Paralympics, and other world championships. Russian athletes can compete but not under the Russian flag. The court ruling for Russian doping also requires Russian government representatives, including Putin, cannot attend a major international event for the next two years. Russia must pay $1.27 million to the World Anti-Doping Agency for covering the costs of its investigation and turn over data from its Moscow laboratory.

With the addition of a Moderna vaccine, the CDC is planning more vaccinations with the next tier going to essential workers and people 75 and over. The first group was comprised of healthcare workers and people in nursing homes along with “older” members of Congress. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), 49, joined the “older” group to get vaccinated, becoming one of the 32,000 Floridians in a state with a population of 21,480,000, mostly people over 65 and an enormous nursing home population.

Grifters are making money off the grifter in the White House. Reggie Skyrock and Ashley Weiss selling bus tickets to Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, 2021, for $40—no refunds. Yes, you read that right. It’s posted on Event Brite. And the announcement was still there a few hours even after The Bulwark outed them.  

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