Nel's New Day

January 31, 2021

Redditors Treat Investing like Gaming

When the Dow drops by over two percent in one day, in this case 633.87 points, the cause is usually political. Last Wednesday, however, the reason came from a group of people who thought they were ganging up on hedge fund investors. The situation started last December when big investors did their usual “short selling,” betting companies will lose the value of their stock. An investor tells the broker to borrow the stocks and sell them at the current price, hoping the price will drop. After the company’s loss, the investor rebuys an equal number of stocks at the lower price, returns the borrowed stocks, and pockets the different in price as profit. The short seller only gets into financial trouble if the stock price goes up.

On Reddit, however, a large group of small investors tried to show big investors they weren’t in control. They used a free app allowing purchase of small amounts of stock, Robinhood, to purchase shares of GameStop, causing the stock prices to skyrocket. GameStop, a retailer with 5,000 stores selling video games, struggled even before the coronavirus increased online competition. Wall Street, convinced the company was due for bankruptcy, bought its outstanding stock “short.” In retaliation, Redditors planned a “short squeeze” to buy all the stocks at once, driving up the price. As the shorts got worried, they bought back the stock on its way up and drove the price up. Others decided to short the stock. Overvalued at $40, the stock was exorbitantly priced at $300 and so forth. Melvin Capital competitors had to bail out the hedge fund, which had a $3.75 billion loss.  

Although their losses sound like retribution, many ordinary day traders also got in financial trouble while some financial firms benefited if they actually owned stock early on. Asset manager Blackrock, with 13 percent of GameStop, gained about $2.4 billion from $173.6 million worth of stocks in about a month. Norway’s government also owned 2.6 percent of GameStop. 

The problem for Redditors is when to sell. The price won’t stay at today’s price of $325 forever, and people may lose bigtime. And while they think they are scheming against Wall Street, they are doing exactly the same thing as hedge fund investors. The stock market has nothing to do with investing in companies—just in stripping its resources.

Vice has a detailed description of the GameStop event. 

The GameStop saga didn’t end with people purchasing the stocks. By Thursday, Robinhood decided to stop selling stocks from both the video game retailer and other companies caught up in the decision. It also raised margin requirements for some of the securities, forcing users to front more of their own money for purchases and benefiting investors with more ready cash. TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab did the same thing. Short-sellers bought shares to hedge their positions, sending the stock market up by over 300 by the end of Thursday.

A Robinhood customer filed a class-action lawsuit against the app with almost 31,000 users for banning sales of GameStop shares, claiming the action rigged the market against its customers and benefited those who weren’t—especially the huge hedge fund investors.

After a backlash, Robinhood announced “limited buys” of GameStop and other drastically shorted stocks, raising $1 billion overnight to comply with federally mandated capital requirements. GameStop shares increased almost 65 percent Friday, up $308 since the beginning of the year from $17 per share, going as high during the day as $414. Yet pessimism about economic problems and anxiety about the trade volatility dropped the Dow another 621 points, another two percent down. The week’s loss was 1,000 points.

Before Robinhood reinstated trading, the amateur traders pushed negative reviews about the app, leading to Google’s one-star rating early Friday morning based on 275,000 reviews. By noon, however, the rating went up to four stars after 100,000 reviews mysteriously disappeared, supposedly deleted by Google.  

The melodrama continues on Monday. After saying on Friday that he was not pressured to restrict the sales of stock, the head of Robinhood is again restricting these sales, narrowing a list of 50, however to only eight: GameStop, AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry, Koss, Express, Nokia, Genius Brands International and Naked Brand Group. For example, users can buy only one share and up to five options contracts. They are permitted ten each of AMC stock. Robinhood said the limits were subject to changes throughout the day.

Last week, the central Wall Street clearinghouse required a ten-fold increase in the firm’s deposit requirements last week. The clearinghouse also required an increase in Robinhood’s margin, the funds in a client’s account when they borrow to buy a security. Huge collapses in share prices, highly possible with the risks taken in buying GameStop and other heavily shorted securities, leave Robinhood on the hook. Margin shares could have placed further strain on Robinhood’s balance sheet, potentially leaving the broker on the hook in the event of a massive collapse in GameStop’s share price.

Jaime Rogozinski, possibly the founder of the Reddit community, called the insanity of GameStop’s shift in share prices “a train wreck happening in real time.” Keith Gill, the trader kicking off the scheme called r/WallStreetBets, said “he didn’t expect this.” Jim Cramer, Wall Street commentator on CNBC, referred to it as “insane.” Video game industry analyst Michael Pachters said it was a Ponzi scheme, a fraud appearing to make money only when propped up by funding from new investors. Critics described Robinhood as a dangerous “gamified” stock trading.

While the news may appear to affect only those involved, it shows “how social media can upend everyday life,” according to tech writer Ian Sherr. He explained:

“Twitter has changed the worlds of news and politics. YouTube and Instagram have transformed the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. Now Reddit is taking on Wall Street… And TikTokers banded together in attempts to confuse President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.”

Other stocks targeted by Reddit communities include the once-popular Blackberry and the struggling movie chain AMC. Nasdaq, the stock market index focusing on tech companies, threatened to stop trading on stocks manipulated by social media.

The gambling of Redditors and hedge fund investors exacerbates the problem of growing inequality in the U.S. and the economic problems of the vast majority of its population. Billionaires’ assets have gone up 38.6 percent in less than a year. The $1.1 trillion they acquired is equivalent to over $3,400 for every person in the United States. And billionaires make this money because they own most of corporate stock.

People who try to cover for the huge inequality claim these wealthy people have fortunes because of their exceptional talents. For example, Elon Musk, Testa’s CEO, was worth $24.6 billion last March; last week he had $179.2 billion. Yet his increase came from business-supported government policies and a plutocracy in which very few accumulate most of a nation’s assets. In addition to DDT’s gift to the wealthy of huge tax cuts, the Feds contributed to their riches with low interest rate policies to “grow” the economy. Last year, the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 hit record highs. New financial instruments help rich people get more money; i.e., special acquisition companies (SPACs) to buy shares in companies wanting to cash out or expand. The result is greater demand for shares and higher windfalls for the top executives who had done nothing special.

Even the misnamed Robinhood is making big bucks from Redditors’ “games” from “third party” financial companies paying Robinhood for each client trade. One of them, Citadel Securities, belongs to hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who bailed out Melvin Capital by taking a big ownership share in the hedge fund loser. Other Wall Street players—Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and other big banks—make money off Redditors with its “dark pools,” hidden exchanges serving the big institutional investors without the need to specifically or timely report their trading. The relationship between Robinhood and its investment firms may face an investigation.

The whole Reddit/Wall Street/GameStop debacle is destined to end badly. Bored and frustrated by low interest rates, participants treat investing like entertainment, behaving like a mob at a sports event. The winner will be Robinhood and other zero-cost brokerages who gamble on the ignorant traders.  A few investors will sell before an inevitable crash, but more will lose everything from greed. Last summer, a 20-year-old student killed himself because he thought he had lost $730,000 on an option. In fact, he was $16,000 in the red.   

Financial markets are meant to move capital from savers to firms needing capital. The sideshow of GameStop does nothing to benefit the company while destroying faith in the markets’ functions. Hopefully, the COVID-19 vaccine will allow Redditors to find other amusement. Meanwhile, GameStop is the one without benefits: the company plans to close almost ten percent of their stores this year.

January 30, 2021

Marjorie Taylor Greene: Voice of the GOP

When wealthy heiress and QAnon believer Marjorie Taylor Greene decided to run for the U.S. House, she moved to the deep red and more impoverished district in northwest Georgia. Former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) called her a “future Republican star,” former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) used her endorsement during her second campaign in January 2021 before she lost to Raphael Warnock, and House GOP whip, Steve Scalise (LA), wanted to talk about with her about her goals after she was sworn in. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) put Greene on the Education Committee.

McCarthy and other GOP House leaders had opposed Green in her primary because of her offensive comments about Blacks and Jewish donors to Democrats, but Greene surged ahead in the primary because of her support from radical politicians DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, his wife Debbie, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) through the Freedom Caucus. The National Republican Campaign Committee spent thousands of dollars helping Greene get elected in the general election.

Greene claims to be the “voice of the people.” With Greene as the voice of the GOP, the Republican base—denying methods of preventing COVID-19—thinks it can obtain power through threats, violence, smears, and horrifying falsehoods promoting domestic terrorism with no accountability: 

In January 2019, Greene liked a comment that “a bullet to the head would be quicker” to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In a speech posted on Facebook, Green asked for Pelosi to be executed for treason—with no mention of a trial—because “she’s a traitor to our country.” She also liked posts about executing FBI agents, accusing them of being in the “deep state” against DDT.

Almost two years ago, asked her about the Iran deal:

“Now do we get to hang them ?? Meaning H & O [President Obama and Hillary Clinton] ???”

Greene responded:

“Stage is being set. Players are being put in place. We must be patient. This must be done perfectly or liberal judges would let them off.”

In a Facebook post, now removed, Greene promoted the false “Frazzledrip” accusation that Clinton and a top aide, Huma Abedin, participated in a satanic ritual with the murder and mutilation of a child and drank its blood.

About the far-right attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Greene falsely said “Antifa/BLM terrorism” and Democratic politicians stoked the insurrection, specifically “accomplices” such as Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), VP Kamala Harris, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and called for them to “be expelled.” She also claimed, “The Antifa/BLM terrorism [is] funded on ActBlue.”

In her belief that “none of the school shootings were real,” including the 2012 Sandy Hook attack leaving 20 children and six adults dead, Greene called the 2018 mass shooting at Florida’s Parkland high school a “false flag.” She called the shooting survivor David Hogg, now an activist, “#littleHitler” and claimed he was a “bought and paid little pawn” and actor. According to a video, she trolled the 18-year-old for at least two minutes, calling him a “coward” and accusing him of being paid by billionaire George Soros. Other “false flags,” according to Greene, are the mass shootings at Las Vegas and the New Zealand mosque.

Before her election, Greene prepared a White House petition in January 2019 to impeach Pelosi for “crimes of treason,” accusing her support of the so-called “sanctuary” policies of “serving illegals and not United States citizens” and attacking her for her lack of support for DDT’s border wall.

About the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville (VA) killing one person and beating many others, she said it was an “inside job” to “further the agenda of the elites.” She also accused Democratic Party leaders of running a human-trafficking and pedophilia ring, partially run out of a Washington, D.C. pizza place.

In late 2018, Greene claimed Rothschild family-funded space lasers cause the recent disastrous wildfires. She also claimed that the attacks on 9/11 killing over 3,000 people in the U.S. was a hoax, President Obama is a Muslim, and the Clintons are murderers, specifically referencing John F. Kennedy Jr’s deadly plane crash in 1999. And she stated the “deep state” used a body double for Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she died.

Vice has a long list of Greene’s conspiracy theories.

Greene (above right) wore a “Trump Won” mask, (poorly) to be sworn into the 117th Congress, immediately announced she was filing for articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden, and called CNN the “enemy of the American people.” With DDT’s loss leaving the QAnon community in disarray, Greene has taken up the mantle of leadership.

Democrats denounce her, and some, including Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), plan a resolution to expel Greene from the House. Reps. Nikema Williams (D-GA) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA) also plan a resolution to censure Greene and call for her resignation. Jacobs said the Capitol is unsafe with Greene there:

“We saw on January 6th what can happen when elected leaders use their positions of public trust to encourage and incite violence.

Gomez said his Democratic colleagues are being fitted for bullet-proof vests, partly because GOP lawmakers try to sneak guns onto the House floor.

Rep. Alexander Ocasio-Cortez said she and some of her colleagues “don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.” She added that “white supremacist sympathizers are at the core of the Republican caucus in the House.”

Rep. Cori Bush has moved her office away from Greene for the safety of herself and her staff: Greene refused to wear a mask while berating Bush and her staff while supporting violence against politicians and “antagonism” directed toward Bush.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked for additional security resources because “the enemy is within the House of Representatives.” She said:

“We have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”

GOP lawmakers are staying quiet, but concerned GOP centrists fear the brand of Greene and QAnon for the GOP will be a catastrophe. The image of Republicans as only insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists may get publicity, but it won’t appeal beyond a small, hardcore base. McCarthy finally said he will “have a conversation with her” and called a House GOP leadership meeting on Wednesday after postponing a scheduled one on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Greene is bragging about DDT praising her.

After McCarthy flew to Mar-a-Lago to meet with DDT, Dr. Jason Johnson said:

“Kevin McCarthy … basically says that the majority of America that I actually want to serve is an America that wanted to kill Mike Pence. The majority of the America that I want to serve is an America that wanted to kill Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that wanted to hang Ilhan Omar, that wanted to kill Ayanna Pressley. He is saying those are the kinds of people he wants to represent. … Politicians can choose their constituents. John McCain in 2008 said I don’t want people up here voting for me because they think Barack Obama is a Muslim. [Putting Greene on the Education Committee is] like putting Jeffrey Dahmer to babysit your kids. It’s insane, but that’s who they seem to think that America’s going to be going forward.”

Pelosi said Greene’s appointment giving her the ability to shape federal education policy is “appalling, really beyond the pale.” In an opinion piece, Karen Tumulty wrote:

“The sad thing is, the Republican embrace of people like Greene and its tolerance of what she represents show the party no longer recognizes a line between what is and isn’t acceptable. They have made their bargain, and now they are stuck with it.”

The QAnon community thinks DDT will return as president on March 4, the original inauguration date before the 20th Amendment changed the date to January 20 in 1933. The belief came from members of the sovereign citizens movement who believe they have the right to pick which laws they will obey. They think a 1871 law creating a government in Washington, D.C. secretly made the U.S. a corporation owned by foreign interests and did away with the Founding Fathers government. To these people, DDT will become the 19th U.S. president because every president since 1871 has been illegitimate.

Protecting conspiracy theorists, Fox pundit Tucker Carlson ridiculed the idea that QAnon is dangerous and denounced their critics as a “mob of censors, hysterics and Jacobin destroyers.”  On her show, Laura Ingraham agreed, accusing Press Secretary Jen Psaki of cracking down on all conservatives when she discussed attempts to share information to “disrupt violent extremist networks.”

Greene’s constituents may be less enchanted with their newly-elected representative after learning about her penchant for physical threats and her deranged conspiracy theories. Her campaign had kept to vague generalities about anti-socialism and pro-American. The question is how far they are willing to sink into Greene’s destruction of their Republican party.

Don’t know anything about QAnon? Here’s a beginner’s guide.

While Republicans continue to threaten democracy, the U.S. has over 600,000 new COVID-19 infections in the past four days and another 15,000 deaths from the coronavirus—or more.

January 26, 2021

Biden: An Amazing Week

In his first 100 days, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) signed 32 executive orders—fewer than President Joe Biden signed in his first week. Both of them overturned the previous person’s rulings, but Biden did his signings with much less fanfare. DDT always insisted on a large media gathering while he held up his signature each time. He also chose to make policy by himself instead of working with Congress to enshrine his wishes into law.

Within his first week, Biden reversed DDT’s orders to destroy the environment, immigration, and LGBTQ rights. Other documents initiated the management of COVID-19 response, began a movement toward racial equality, undid regulatory restrictions on federal agencies, reinstated ethics pledge for government appointees, terminated building of the wall, paused federal student loan payments, expanded food assistance programs, helped veterans with debt, and provided other federal aid in the midst of the pandemic. A recent order bolsters his “Buy American” agenda and “close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs while still qualifying for domestic preferences.” Another called for evaluation of DDT’s housing policies and ordered private prison contracts to not be renewed. Biden also emphasized a commitment of Native American tribal sovereignty and denounced anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia.

Biden revoked DDT’s ban on federal agencies, contractors, and other recipients of federal funding from conducting diversity training exploring racism and privilege. DDT had deemed these trainings harmful to White workers. The Department of Labor had suspended the order’s enforcement after a federal court in California granted a preliminary injunction against it after Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, but departments including State, DOJ, EPA, and Veterans Affairs had already suspended diversity and inclusion training. The lawsuit will continue in order to ensure organizations suffer no adverse consequences from diversity practices they might have pursued while the order was in effect.

The president also plans to reopen federal marketplaces for the Affordable Care Act for a few months and lower DDT’s barriers to joining Medicaid. DDT had put much greater restrictions on participating in the ACA and dropped all advertising about it.

Biden will also review DDT’s February 2020 “peace” deal with the Taliban to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. According to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, Biden wants to ensure the Taliban is “living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.” Despite the agreement, Afghanistan has seen surging violence, and the country thinks “the Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”

Domestic terrorism is another threat that Biden is tackling. After DDT spent four years praising these people, considered the most serious threat to the U.S. by a survey of law enforcement, Biden announced a major initiative overhauling the federal approach by ordering intelligence agencies to conduct a “comprehensive threat assessment” in cooperation with the FBI and the DHS. Press Secretary said the National Security Council wants “fact-based analysis” for policy to counter the domestic terrorism.

One Biden order started the process of amending or reversing over 100 of DDT’s almost 200 anti-environment decisions by stopping them while they are under review.  A major policy is DDT’s alteration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when DDT eliminated environmental impact reports for many projects and shortened the time for evaluations’ reviews as well as restrictions on public input. A major DDT focus was expanding use and extraction of coal, oil and natural gas. He dropped a provision permitting state and tribal government to reject federal permit decisions on fossil fuel projects. In his last days, DDT destroyed protections by the Endangered Species Act.

Biden plans to put a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing although about 10,000 approved applications are still not in use, meaning companies can proceed with them.

The new president also plans to revoke DDT’s order changing career employees into political appointees. Affecting tens of thousands of career employees, DDT’s order would have removed all rights from career employees and allow him to fire them at will with no justification. DDT’s orders also removed paid time for fulfilling certain union responsibilities and gave agencies the ability to decide on their own penalties for perceived poor performance or misconduct.

Other changes are replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, something DDT delayed for several years into the future, and using an American Sign Language interpreter at all press conferences. DDT had refused to have an ASL interpreter. Biden is also replacing White House Dr. Sean Conley, who admitted lying to the public about DDT’s COVID-19 treatment and condition. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Conley’s replacement, has treated Biden since 2009.

A federal judge in Texas appointed by DDT blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause” for 14 days. Texas AG Ken Paxton, Paxton, under investigation for alleged state securities fraud, bribery, etc., cheered at his “victory.”

In one victory, however, the DOJ rescinded he DHS “zero tolerance” policy, causing family separations among asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Acting AG Monty Wilkinson ordered federal prosecutors to return to return to the previous policy of acting on merits of each case. DDT’s policy required every adult illegally crossing the border be prosecuted.

While all except five GOP senators think that DDT should be put on trial for his crimes, confirmations for Biden’s appointments are still gradually moving forward. One reason for the decision to put a Republican elected as president above the law may be fear. Instead of starting a third party to re-elect him, DDT plans to control the GOP and promises vengeance against any Republican who isn’t his loyalist. DDT has already threatened non-loyalists with primary challengers. According to rumors, Ivanka Trump may primary Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2022.Most GOP senators are weaseling out of convicting DDT by calling the impeachment “unconstitutional.” In Florida, DDT has established “The Office of the Former President” for political action. 

After confirming Avril Haines for Intelligence Director, it is leisurely confirming more Biden appointments. It confirmed the first Black secretary of the Defense Department, Lloyd Austin, by 93-2 with only Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) as holdouts. Biden has ordered a 90-day commission to pursue solutions to sexual assault in the military. Janet Yellen was confirmed, 84 to 15, as the first female secretary of the Treasury Department and faces the worst economy in decades. Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, won Senate confirmation by 78-22.

After Biden had his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House, for the first time in four years, is releasing information about the conversation. Topics of the call:

  • Concern about the Russian SolarWinds hacking campaign breaching DOJ email accounts.
  • Reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops.
  • Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Concerns about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • The Kremlin’s recent treatment of peaceful protesters demonstrating in support of Navalny.
  • Support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
  • A goal of extending a nuclear arms treaty for five years with Russia.

According to the White House press release:

“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”

Biden’s first approval rating since his inauguration shows 63 percent support from registered voters. He received 61 percent support for the economy, stimulating jobs and fighting terrorism, 60 percent for foreign affairs, and 57 percent for immigration. The highest ratings came from administering the government, 65 percent, and handling the pandemic, 69 percent. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/13/trump-approval-rating-poll-458602  DDT’s last approval rating was 34 percent, the lowest of his four years. Disapproval was at 63 percent for DDT, the same as Biden’s approval rating.

Up ten percent from a week ago, 50 percent of people have confidence in the government’s information about COVID-19. False information, however, comes from pro-DDT areas. Studies of “excess deaths” show the number of deaths from COVID-19 is 31 percent higher than currently reported, with most of these “excess deaths” in areas leaning toward DDT, especially rural areas. According to an analysis, “25 percent of counties with the most Trump voters in 2020 [have] 163 excess deaths for every 100 Covid-19 deaths.”

One reason for high disparities is that deaths might be counted as COVID-19 related only if people are tested for the virus, and DDT’s poor testing infrastructure led to ignorance. The highest correlations were between high excess deaths and elected non-medical coroners, especially when rural coroners must pay for post-mortem testing from their own budgets. These officials also suffer from pressure by families’ beliefs about how their relatives die. People claim they don’t have COVID-19 when they are dying from the disease, and officials in pro-DDT areas lie about the cause of death.

As of January 26, 2021, world cases have topped 100 million and deaths are over two million. Today another 148,265 infections in the U.S. top the total over 26 million in a year, and the 4,045 deaths in the U.S. bring the total to 435,452—with another 135,000 “excess deaths.”

January 21, 2021

Biden’s First Full Day at Repairing the U.S.

Last night, I had over six hours of uninterrupted sleep, the first time in many months that led up to the 2020 presidential election and the aftermath of election denial leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Instead of recording the horrific current acts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), I look forward to the chronicle of President Joe Biden and a Senate majority working for democracy.

As 34 agency acting directors (complete list) are in place, waiting the Senate to confirm the permanent appointments, Avril Haines is now National Intelligence Director, replacing the statutorily unqualified John Ratcliffe confirmed unanimously by the GOP loyalists. Biden may also leave Christopher Wray as FBI director. Both the House and Senate approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin, appointed for Department of Defense secretary, necessary because he retired from the military under five years ago instead of the required minimum seven years for the position.

On his first full day, Biden designated two more acting positions: Rebecca Kelly Slaughter to chair the Federal Trade Commission and Jessica Rosenworcel to head up the Federal Communications Commission. The FTC will be active in watching Big Tech such as Facebook and Google, and the FCC will address net neutrality with Rosenworcel’s support.

Biden also appointed Dr. Rachel Levin, currently Pennsylvania’s health secretary, to assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. Despite transphobic backlash, Levine pushed the state toward more responsible COVID-19 guidelines. If confirmed, she would become the first openly transgender federal official.

Working with other White House policy councils, the White House Gender Policy Council, co-chaired by Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso, will guide and coordinate government policy impacting women and girls in issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy.

Before Joe Biden became president, he and his transition team were not permitted to view the COVID-19 plan. Seeing the plans, they discovered there is no vaccine distribution strategy, according to Jeff Zients, Biden’s virus response coordinator. Instead, everything must start at “square one,” a CNN source said. Biden’s strategy can be found here.  Biden has already issued multiple executive orders to expedite the process:

  • He directed agencies to use wartime powers requiring U.S. companies to make PPE equipment such as swabs and N95 masks.
  • Mask usage is mandated in airports and on many planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses.
  • International travelers need to show a negative Covid-19 test before entering the U.S. and will have to quarantine upon arrival.
  • “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain” will “direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy” in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing of critical supplies.
  • The administration will try to accelerate more funding to local and state officials for vaccine distribution, creating more vaccination sites and launching a national public education campaign.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will set up 100 community vaccination centers in the next month.
  • The COVID-19 response office and all federal agencies will improve federal data collection and sharing; CDC will publish a dashboard of the coronavirus cases at the county level.
  • Continued treatment research emphasizing diversity in clinical trials will also expand in programs to support recovering patients and increase the healthcare workforce.
  • A new pandemic testing board is intended to discover new types of effective and rapid tests.
  • Schools, businesses, and other settings with gatherings will receive guidance about the best way for widespread testing.
  • HHS is directed to collect data on school reopenings and the spread of COVID-19 to minimize any problems of sending young people back to schools.
  • OSHA will provide clear guidance to employers about safe workplace practices and enforcement.
  • A “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force” will ensure vaccines, treatments, masks, and other resources for everyone, including communities of color suffering high death rates.

Biden won’t enforce DDT’s lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions to places with coronavirus surges, lobbied by airlines.

Orders other than COVID-19:

  • Deportations for many undocumented immigrants with final orders of removal will be halted for 100 days. This order does not apply to those not in the U.S. before November 1, 2020, voluntarily waiving rights to remain, and having engaged in suspected terrorism. DDT deported over 185,000 people for the 2020 fiscal year. ICE officers are to focus arrests only against people who are national security threats, arrested at the border after November 1, 2020, and deemed public safety threats who have been convicted of an aggravated felony. Earlier, Biden rescinded DDT’s memo making almost every undocumented immigrant a deportation priority.
  • Agent officials will conduct a review and issue recommendations to “address aspects of immigration enforcement, including policies for prioritizing the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets; policies governing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion; policies governing detention; and policies regarding interaction with state and local law enforcement.”
  • The rule reversing DDT’s discrimination against LGBTQ people states:

“It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.” 

Biden also plans to reverse DDT’s policy preventing U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups (NGOs) providing or referring patients for abortions. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the World Health Organization executive board that Biden will revoke the Mexico City Policy “as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.” The Mexico City Policy increases the abortion rate because it reduces access to contraception. DDT had also cut off federal Title X family planning funding to domestic health care providers performing or referring patients for abortion.

Two weeks before the expiration of the New START pact with Russia, Biden is working on a five-year extension for the treaty limiting both countries’ nuclear arsenals. He also plans to impose new costs on Russia for their recent aggressive actions in the U.S. election interference, the poisoning of Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexi Navalny, and bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. DDT had failed to reach any agreement because of his attempt to include China in the accord. Biden also asked new Intelligence Director Avril Haines for analysis of the massive cyberattack on the federal government blamed on Russia.

Biden will examine an agreement with the United Arab Emirates, signed an hour before his inauguration, selling them 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones.

In another focus, Biden began overturning over 100 of DDT’s actions damaging the environment. A new rule from the Interior Department orders sign offs from a top appointee for new oil and gas lease or drilling activity. With John Kerry as his climate envoy, Biden plans to go much farther than just reversing DDT’s aggressively prioritizing the fossil fuels industry at the cost of fighting climate change or protecting imperiled animals. During his term, DDT attacked over 200 environmental protections by trying to abolish or scale them back. Of DDT’s 64 policies weakening or overturning ways to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, 1 has been overturned, 22 targeted, and another 41 not yet targeted. DDT also has 27 policies about wildlife and 23 relating to infrastructure and planning. Details about DDT’s orders are here. The day before Biden’s inauguration, a federal court struck down the DDT’s rollback of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Beginning on the day of Biden’s inauguration, the White House plans press briefings five days a week. Aaron Rupar described the first one by Press Secretary Jen Psaki as a “breath of fresh air.”

“There were no angry outbursts. No insults. No conspiracy theories pushed from the briefing room lectern. Just civil, if largely unmemorable, exchanges with reporters.”

He noted the “starkest possible contrast” with DDT’s first on four years ago when then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer lambasted reporters for “accurately covering the relative smallness of Trump’s inaugural crowd size.” Rupar described past briefings—when they occasionally occurred—as “more like professional wrestling events than they were good-faith efforts to inform the American public.” Major networks have assigned women to the White House beat: ABC, Cecilia Vega; CNN, Kaitlan Collins; CBS, Nancy Cordes, and NBC, Kristen Walker joining Peter Alexander. Sean Spicer has applied to be in the White House press corps because he has a show on the far-right Newsmax.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The day of the presidential inauguration was also the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. The night before, Joe and Jill Biden attended a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial with VP Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Looking at the 400 lights representing the 400,000 people who have died of the coronavirus in the past year, Biden talked about the importance of remembering in order to heal. Since the memorial, about 9,000 people have died in the U.S. of the virus, bringing the total to 420,285. On January 21, the day after the inauguration, the number of infections in the U.S. surpassed 25 million.

January 20, 2021

Biden’s Day One: Clearing the Swamp

On January 20, 2021, Dictator Donald Trump, now the Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), left the White House, and President Joe Biden moved in. An eternity ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came to his inauguration in a time of growing prosperity to give a speech about “American carnage” where he promised to “drain the swamp.” During the next four years, DDT:

  • Filled positions with a swinging door of loyalists and family members.
  • Incited violence and hatred from racism, beginning with a ban against Muslim and “brown” immigrants coming into the U.S. and continuing with his praise of white supremacists at the Charlottesville (VA) rally.
  • Drove the U.S. people against legitimate media by calling it “fake” and called the Russian investigation finding Russian interference in the 2016 election a “hoax.”
  • Destroyed the expanding economy but gave a false sense of security by artificially propping up the stock markets.
  • Made the national debt skyrocket by catering to the wealthy and big business, especially with his drastic tax cuts primarily for those two demographics, to over $10 billion before costs of his mismanaged COVID-19 crisis—which he also called a “hoax.” 
  • Became the first president in modern times creating no new jobs for the entire term.
  • Exacerbated the crises in the U.S. by alienating world allies and finished with denying a legal election for president.
  • Faced two impeachments, one for blackmailing a foreign leader and the other for inciting violence leading to domestic terrorists taking over the Capitol, the first time it was breached since the War of 1812.
  • Splintered the GOP.
  • Almost changed the U.S. democracy into an evangelical Christian theocracy.
  • Ignored the pandemic before sabotaging any solutions for the number of cases and deaths in the U.S.
  • Granted almost 200 pardons, many for bribery and corruption (aka “swamp”), finishing with one for Steve Bannon, arrested for defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to “We Build the Wall” out of millions of dollars. The last, less than an hour before Biden’s inauguration, was for Albert Pirro, GOP donor and ex-husband of Fox network’s Jeanine Pirro, convicted almost 20 years ago on 34 counts of conspiracy and tax evasion for over $1 million in illegal tax write-offs for his business.
  • Led the worsT “transition” in modern history finished by refusing the courtesy of Biden’s flight Washington on a military plane.

DDT left Washington on January 20, 2021, a loser even with Republicans and white supremacists. Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said DDT “fed lies” to his supporters to incite violence, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised Harris to cover up his vote to overturn the election. White supremacist Proud Boys, told by DDT at his first debate with Joe Biden to “stand by,” dumped their former hero. Calling DDT a “shill” and extraordinarily weak,” they told supporters to avoid rallies and protests for DDT and the GOP, stating DDT “will go down as a total failure.” Part of their anger came from the lack of pardons any of the insurgents received for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

QAnon conspiracy theorists expected DDT would announce The Storm via the Emergency Broadcasting System to round up and arrest Democrats before being declared president. Ron Watkins, former 8kun administrator for QAnon, wrote:

“We gave it our all. Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.”

Conspiracy-debunker Travis View said people making money from the conspiracy theory have difficulty persuading followers to stay with them after this drastically wrong prediction. One said, “If nothing happens I will no longer believe in anything,” and another one dejectedly stated at the beginning of Biden’s inauguration, “We all just got played.” White supremacist groups are absorbing disenchanted QAnon members, targeting Parler users, now back on line after Russia hosts the social medium platform Parler on the same website as Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political organization. Death threats from conservatives have driven the family of Parler’s CEO into hiding.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The inauguration of Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice-president, well documented throughout the day, preceded their work after the ceremonies.  At the White House, Biden signed a tall stack of orders left on his desk in the Oval Office. The 15 executive actions and two directives:

  • Halting the building of DDT’s “wall.”
  • Ending the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
  • Declaring his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization
  • Revoking the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. 
  • Requiring masks and social distancing on federal property and by federal employees.
  • Extending the eviction freeze to help people struggling from the pandemic economy.
  • Continuing a pause on student loan payments until September 30. 
  • Counting non-citizens in U.S. Census again.
  • Restoring the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and defense, eliminated by DDT. The same order creates a COVID-19 response coordinator position with Jeff Zients.
  • Instructing federal agencies to prioritize racial equality and review policies reinforcing systemic racism.
  • Extending protections an additional year for Liberians in the U.S.
  • Releasing the $27.4 billion in funding for 73 world programs as part of December’s spending bill that DDT had frozen.
  • Ordering federal employees to take an ethics pledge committing them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department.
  • Issuing an ethics rule much stricter than the one DDT recently issued, allowing reversing DDT’s recent order telling executive branch employees they can lobby anywhere anytime after they leave the administration.
  • Revoking the newly-released report of DDT’s “1776 Commission” promoting systemic racism through DDT’s definition of “patriotic education.”
  • Fortifying DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  • Repealing DDT’s ICE arrest priorities making immigration enforcement stricter.
  • Freezing DDT’s last-minute administration regulatory actions.

Biden also called for a review of all regulations and executive actions damaging to the environment or public health and plans dozens of more orders and directives redirecting the country without going through the Senate. In his spare time, Biden swore in dozens of appointees and staffers, telling them to treat each other with respect or he will fire them “on the spot.”

Another swearing-in ceremony made the Senate a Democratic majority with the vote of the vice-president to break a tie. VP Kamala Harris swore in Democrats Jon Ossoff (GA), Alex Padilla (CA), and Raphael Warnock (GA) as the new senators. [Above right: Harris looks very different from all the former VPs.]  

DDT’s National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Peter Robb refused to step down from his position so Biden fired him. Pro-management Robb attempted to reorganize the NLR’s regional offices and make new guidelines for agency investigations. He had great control over cases considered by the board against companies accused of violating the National Labor Relations Act amid conflicts of interest regarding DDT’s board members and their former clients.

Biden also fired Michael Pack, the corrupt head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media who removed its independence, and Kathleen Kraninger, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who persecuted consumers. Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency, also put Michael Ellis, the NSA top lawyer, on administrative leave after DDT pressured the Pentagon acting-acting DOD Secretary Chris Miller to put him into the job three days before the inauguration.

After the inauguration, China sanctioned former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other high-ranking DDT officials including former trade adviser Peter Navarro, chief China-hater in the White House; former national security advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton with former deputy Matt Pottinger; and pardoned Steve Bannon.

On his last day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, descended from Italian immigrants, said multiculturalism “is not who America is.” He tweeted it “points to one direction—authoritarianism.” Under Pompeo, the foreign service has 8 percent Black and Hispanic diplomats and 7 percent Asian. Hoping to run for president in 2024, Pompeo may have been again attacking the New York Times 1619 Project describing the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black people in the U.S. On Monday’s 35th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, DDT released a commission report from his “1776 Commission” blaming school curriculum for BLM protest violence, stating “the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.” [Notice Biden revoked the commission and its report.]

Lagging far behind its work in confirming DDT’s appointments four years ago, the Senate approved Biden’s first Cabinet member, Avril Haines, for intelligence director by 84-10. The vote was taken before the new Democratic senators were sworn in, and the ten opposing Haines represent “the Trump Line,” several of them planning to be presidential candidates in 2024. Republicans objecting both initially and later: Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun, (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Roger Marshall (KS), Rand Paul (KY), and James Risch (ID).

As for the threatened violence from far-right extremists, even throughout the nation’s state capitols, actions could be described as “low energy.” No one reported violence by 4:00 pm on January 20, 2021, and some of the “crowds had fewer than five people, only one at New York’s state capitol. Arizona did get about a dozen. Photos of the different states are available here. With the heavy National Guard force and hundreds of arrests after the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol, neo-Nazis and terrorists used the social medium Telegram to tell everyone to stay home. They wrote to use alternative sources for future battles.

His final desperate move inviting mass emails for his departure from Andrews Air Force asking everyone to bring five people brought out under 500 people.

From around the world, leaders of democracies praised Biden’s presidency. Their expressions of relief parallel those from many tens of millions of people in the U.S. Biden’s first day was a return to reality when the president works—for the people—and, in Biden’s words, “democracy has prevailed.” As for the rest of the term, Biden’s job, as for many other Democratic presidents, is to clean up the Republicans’ messes. And Biden keeps it up tomorrow with more items on his agenda than DDT has for weeks on end. 

To follow political adventures, I recommend three daily credible political reports—Rantt, Wtf, and Heather Cox Richardson’s blog—in addition to more standard sources. If you find yourself missing DDT, Rantt has an excellent overview of the past four years. Richardson’s analysis of the inauguration.

 

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Senate is on vacation, unlike four years ago when they were busy confirming the appointments of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). By his inauguration, McConnell had held Cabinet hearings on Jeff Sessions (DOJ attorney general), Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce), James Mattis (Department of Defense), Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy), Tom Price (Secretary of Health & Human Services), John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security), Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing & Urban Development), Ryan Zinke (Secretary of Interior), Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State), Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation), and Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of Treasury.) Mattis and Kelly were confirmed on January 20, 2017—the day of DDT’s inauguration.  Only three Cabinet positions had no hearings by DDT’s inauguration, and one of them, Andrew Puzder withdrew his name in disgrace.

Hearings for only four President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet appointments may occur on January 19, 2021—Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Treasury—but McConnell can drag his feet for weeks in the confirmation process. DDT came into the Oval Office at a high time of economy and safety with foreign countries. Biden, however, is facing 4,000 U.S. deaths a day from COVID-19, and the HHS Secretary submitted his resignation for the day of the inauguration after having lied to the nation about the shortage of vaccine doses. Domestic terrorists threaten more attacks after an attempted coup on the Capitol, breaching the building and coming within a minute of finding VP Mike Pence, who insurgents promised to kill, but DHS is being run by an acting-acting DHS Secretary, moved up with the ninth position of FEMA. State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo is driving hatred toward the U.S. from the world’s countries just to cause trouble for Biden.

The Constitution does allow ways for Biden to move ahead even with McConnell’s obstruction. A document from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force reveals 277 policies Biden can immediately invoke. Although Democrats opposed DDT’s broad interpretation of executive power with legal and political evasion, the ideas, however, provide food for thought.

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

In a constitutional alternative for confirmations, a president can make a “recess appointment” if the Senate adjourns for ten days. Appointments could last until the end of the congressional session, in this case the end of 2022. Republicans blocked any adjournments to keep President Obama from making any recess appointments, but the adjournment clause in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution has another option. Anticipating a “disagreement” between the House and the Senate about adjournment, the Constitution gives Biden the power to personally adjourn both chambers if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) cooperates, allowing Biden to appoint his Cabinet and the principal deputies on an acting basis until the Senate has a Democratic majority. Most of the other positions, lacking statutory authority or the ability to legalize policies, do not require confirmation.

According to Peter Shane, DDT’s practice of “acting” was to make “an administrative ‘delegation of authority’ from one agency official to a subordinate that allows the subordinate to do yet a third person’s job—to put officials in place who would presumably owe their political accountability solely to Trump and not to Congress.” Nowhere is the danger of this practice more obvious than at DHS: only two of the top dozen positions are filled by Senate-confirmed people. The remainder have an acting official or a senior official in a different post performing the duties of the vacant position. No president has ever followed this process of appointing a Cabinet, but no other person in the Oval Office has ever incited violence and been impeached twice.

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

DDT’s loyalists are so embedded within the executive branch that getting rid of them will be a challenge, especially in the cases of DDT’s political appointees moving to senior civil service positions; i.e., Michael Ellis becoming top lawyer for the NSA just three days before Biden’s inauguration. But many of DDT’s recent regulation changes won’t be legally effective until after January 20, and Biden can direct administrative agencies to stop regulations not yet final and hold unpublished ones in abeyance. Those not yet effective can be postponed until consideration. With the addition of Georgia’s Democratic senators, the Senate can use the Congressional Review Act to void DDT’s regulations made as far back as last summer. 

The Congressional Review Act, used frequently by DDT’s GOP senators, applies whether a rule expands or rolls back regulations within 60 days of Senate session, going back to July, after a new rule is published. No filibusters are allowed, and debate is limited to ten hours. A disapproved rule cannot be reissued, and no rule can be issued in “substantially the same form” without additional authorization from Congress. The process could work for such recent DDT rules as requiring banks to make loans to firearms and oil industries and protecting industries other than electric utilities from climate change regulations. The law comes from Newt Gingrich’s deregulation “Contract with America.”

Another kind of executive order specifically authorized by statute and directly affect people’s legal rights or obligations includes DDT’s travel ban order. On his first day, Biden can issue an executive order repealing all DDT’s executive orders he considers bad policy.

Regulations ordering public behavior, called “substantive rules,” require a lengthy process—public comments, detailed explanation considering the comments, final publishing, and a wait for Congress to review the rule. These rules, such as DDT’s rollback of clean water protections or withdrawing safeguards of the Endangered Species Act, require a new substantive rule following the same process. Biden can find leeway by lightening or removing the requirement of regulatory cost-benefit analyses approval. With “good cause,” an agency can make a rule effective immediately after its publication. The agency is still required to follow the process, but the rule is binding before the process. An interim final rule can be carried out if an agency believes delay in revising DDT’s rule would be, according to the Administrative Procedure Act, “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest,” it could consider an interim final rule.

Many of the DDT’s agency rules are not substantive because they don’t impose new legal obligations or remove existing ones. Most of them tend to be informative statements about priorities or interpretive ones to clarify exiting policies under statutes or other substantive rules. These “guidance” orders can be revised or repealed with no elaborate procedures.

Senate Majority:

With 100 percent of the votes counted from the January 5, 2021, runoff election for two U.S. Georgia senators, the majority of almost 4.5 million voters picked Democrats Jon Ossoff (2,269,738 votes, 50.62 percent) and Raphael Warnock (2,288,923 votes, 51.04 percent) over GOP incumbents David A. Perdue (2,214,506 votes, 49.38 percent) and Kelly Loeffler (2,195,373 votes, 48.96 percent). Because both Ossoff and Warnock won by over one percent, there will be no recount. Both Perdue and Loeffler conceded the election and don’t plan to contest it in court. All the counties have certified the votes, and the state must finish the process by January 22, 2021. Georgia now has its first Black and its first Jewish senators. The runoff was forced by no candidate receiving at least 50 percent in the general election, required by a 1963 law, common in Southern states, to block Blacks from winning any contests after the Supreme Court struck down its earlier discriminatory law. 

At the swearing in of the 117th Congress on January 3, the Senate had 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who vote with Democrats. Perdue’s term ended on January 3, but Loeffler stays until she is replaced because she was appointed a year ago. If Georgia certifies the election on January 20, the new senators can be sworn in the next day—unless McConnell decides to balk. With a 50-50 split, VP Kamala Harris will break any ties. Harris resigned her senatorial seat January 18, and appointed former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla replaces her. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will trade places with McConnell after the new senators are sworn in to become the Majority Leader.

The history of a 50-50 Senate split goes back to 2001, when Trent Lott (R-MS) and Tom Daschle (SD) negotiated equal membership on committees, equal budgets for both parties on committees, and the right of either party leader to discharge bills or nominations from deadlocked committees. The two former senators wrote an op-ed about the difficulty of sharing power in a highly-polarized society and giving recommendations for the process. McConnell’s behavior during the past six years has created a huge partisan distrust from the Democrats. This shift in Senate control influences the upcoming impeachment trial after the House approved the charges against DDT of incitement of insurrection connected to the January 6 attempted coup at the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment passed by the House on January 13 to the Senate for its trial. Traditionally, all other business stops with an impeachment trial, but with Biden’s first 100 days plan, that process may be changed. Biden has asked for half days devoted to the trial proceedings with the remainder of the needs addressed in the rest of the time. A trial requires two-thirds of the Senators present for conviction. With everyone in attendance, the number is 67, but Republicans may wish to avoid making a decision about the impeachment and not show up for the trial.

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

January 17, 2021

Biden’s Plans, DDT’s Sabotage

[Update: 1 million vaccinations a day for the first 100 days.]

With Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) off the grid, the media has more space for upcoming news from President-elect Joe Biden. For example, his recent appointments:

Biden proves he is taking science seriously by elevating the White House science office to a Cabinet-level agency. With a Cabinet position, the agency can coordinate across the 20 federal agencies funding science and offer diverse services from census statistics to climate expertise for the Department of Defense. Mathematician and geneticist Eric Lander, who helped map the human genome, has been named to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy. His biology background is important in the work against COVID-19. He will need confirmation for the position, but Biden has a majority of Democratic votes in the Senate.

Lander’s chief of staff is Kei Koizumi, a former senior adviser for science policy at AAAS; chief legislative affairs director is Narda Jones, an adviser to the Democratic staff on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

In a letter to Lander posted on the transition website, Biden addressed questions for the new office:

  • What lessons does the pandemic offer on the nation’s public health needs?
  • What scientific advances are required to address climate change?
  • How can the United States maintain technological and economic dominance?
  • How can the administration nurture research and ensure that breakthroughs benefit all Americans?

MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist who led efforts to map the surfaces of the moon and Mars, has joined Nobel chemistry laureate Frances Arnold, a pioneer in synthesizing artificial proteins, to lead the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Alondra Nelson, the president of the Social Science Research Council and a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study named as the OSTP’s deputy director for science and society, will focus on science, policy, and social inequality.

National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, a geneticist-physician who also spearheaded the Human Genome Project, stays as NIH director.

Biden’s names for OSTP has no specific climate expert, but he named former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy for the first national climate adviser with an office in the West Wing. Former secretary of state John F. Kerry will also serve as special presidential envoy for climate, the first time the National Security Council includes an official dedicated to the issue of climate change.

DDT failed to hire an OSTP director for 19 months and shrank the staff. The hire after that time, Kelvin Droegemeier was a research meteorologist with little influence in DDT’s administration.

Biden’s choice for CIA Director, William J. Burns, is unique because of his background in diplomacy. He led the U.S. delegation in secret talks with Iran and long worked with Jake Sullivan, Biden’s choice for national security adviser. According to Biden, “intelligence must be apolitical,” which makes Burns a good choice. Burns’ deputy will be David Cohen, a top national security official at the Treasury Department before joining the CIA in 2015. At this time he works at the same law firm as special counsel Robert Mueller.

As DDT’s administration failed in its vaccine distribution, Biden has appointed Dr. David Kessler, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief, to head up the process. His goals include working with the development of treatments and introducing a major antiviral development program. Public health advocates highly approve of Kessler and his background—pediatrician, attorney, author, and hospital and academic administrator. One expert described him as “the guy who got stuff done.” A close associate of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Kessler hopes for 1 million vaccinations a day for the first 100 days of Biden’s administration. At FDA, Kessler and federal investigators proved tobacco companies had known for over 50 years about the addition of their products, and their actions led to a moratorium on silicone breast implants. He also reduced the time needed to approve or reject new drugs including those to treat HIV and AIDS.

South Carolinian Jaime Harrison, a phenomenal fundraiser who lost to Sen. Lindsey Graham, will be the chair of the Democratic National Committee. Vice chairs include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (IL), and Rep. Filemon Vela (TX). Biden will also support another term for both finance chair Chris Korge and secretary Jason Rae. Deputy finance chair Virginia McGregor will be treasurer.

And more appointments.

Like Franklin D. Roosevelt, Biden plans a busy first 100 days. Much of his time will be spent overturning the damage done by DDT’s administration and addressing “four overlapping and compounding crises”—the pandemic, the economic downturn, climate change, and racial inequity. Among his early actions:

  • Rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
  • Extend a pause on federal student loan payments.
  • Reverse DDT’s ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries.
  • Issue a COVID-19 mask mandate for 100 days.
  • Other executive actions:
  • Safely re-open schools and businesses.
  • Direct Cabinet agencies to deliver economic relief to working families
  • Expand access to health care.
  • Reform immigration, including reunification of DDT’s separated families.
  • Address the climate crisis.

While DDT abandoned any thought of leadership, his agencies continued to plant obstacles and create damage that Biden needs to heal:

Under pressure from DDT, Department of Defense acting Secretary Chris Miller has put GOP political operative and DDT’s loyalist into the National Security Agency as the top lawyer just three days before Biden’s inauguration and over the objections of the NSA director.

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo:

Put Cuba back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism

Designate the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a foreign terrorist organization in a favor to Saudi Arabia, in an action killing millions of people.  

Eased restrictions on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwan officials.

Claimed that Iran is a “home base” for Al Qaeda to cause conflict between Iran and the U.S.

Cut $27 billion in foreign aid.  

DHS: Chad Wolf has quit as acting DHS Secretary, which might be seen as a good thing considering his cruel policies, but he’s sticking around as undersecretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans. And DHS is now in charge of former FEMA Director Pete Gaynor who issued a memo trying to make all Wolf’s actions, illegal because he was illegally in the position legal. Like all those mandates to fast-track ICE deportations, raise immigration fees, restrict asylum, limit work permits for asylum seekers, etc. DACA had been reinstated because Wolf couldn’t rescind it.

The EPA keeps doing a tremendous amount of noticeable damage:   

Contaminated drinking water for 860,000 people with a toxic chemical.

Loosened standards for equipment to heat homes.

Opening conservation lands in California and Utah to development.

Exempted oil refiners, steelmakers and landfills from future carbon emission limits.

Permitted offshore companies to mine on a sacred area of the San Carlos Apache tribe in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest.

Allowed mineral leasing in 9.7 million acres of western Alaska.

Blocked a rapid fix for lead pipes for drinking water, leaving them underground for another 30 years.

Limited information about risks of pollutants to health.   

Rolled back the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Permitted mining of natural resources on federal lands to open up wilderness land in Twin Bridges (UT) for a helium drilling project, build an open-pit lithium mine near a prehistoric volcano in northern Nevada, build a natural gas pipeline through Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, and permit a uranium mine in South Dakota on Oglala Lakota land illegally taken from the tribe by the U.S.

Rewrote the environmental rules to get a permit for a pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia after the 4th Circuit Court blocked it.

Took over tribal lands in Oklahoma after the Supreme Court case awarded it to them.

Interior Department:

Overturned the measure increasing royalties for oil, gas, and coal companies to pay the federal government.

Cut 3.4 million acres for the northern spotted owl, almost extinct.

Expedited leasing over 550,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for energy development. 

Approved a four-lane highway through Utah’s Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, permanently protected as a wildlife reserve 25 years ago.

Adopted language requiring employees to use climate models predicting less-severe impacts from global warming, emphasizing “uncertainty” in the science.

Opening conservation lands in California and Utah to development.

Exempted oil refiners, steelmakers and landfills from future carbon emission limits.

Allowed mineral leasing in 9.7 million acres of western Alaska.

Energy Department:

Ensured less energy-efficient furnaces and water heaters remain on the market to lock in pollution.

Department of Justice:

Stripped federal funding from Title VI of the Civil rights Act to allow enforcement only of cases proving intentional discrimination.

DDT did fail to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census to increase the voting power of Whites. The DOJ told a federal judge the Census Bureau would not release the data before January 20.

Sixty more hours until the inauguration.

January 16, 2021

Far-Right Groups Identified, Need Social Media Platforms

As I looked at the news feeds today, I realized that the media seems calmer during the past few days since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lost access to social media platforms. According to an analysis, the proliferation of lies and spreading responses has greatly fallen on these sites. Wildly misleading content about the 2020 election dropped by three-fourths on social media following the bans on DDT after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Inflammatory hashtags about the attack such as #FightforTrump and #HoldtheLine have fallen over 95 percent. Research indicates high-profile influencers using the disinformation system pushed millions of people to spread the lie about election fraud. Just a few accounts have been the source for these lies: only 20 conservative, pro-DDT Twitter accounts were the original source of 20 percent of retweets lying about voting during the election.

Social media platforms banning DDT and others lying and inciting violence:

Twitter: The platform started putting labels on DDT’s false and violent posts over two months ago but didn’t limit his 88 million followers from viewing or sharing them. It also cut over 70,000 QAnon accounts after January 6. After DDT violated a 12-hour trial lockout after the Capitol attack, Twitter permanently banned his account on January 8 and suspended @POTUS and @TeamTrump for DDT’s attempts to avoid his ban. DDT’s former adviser, Steve Bannon, also lost his Twitter account for declaring Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray should be beheaded. Other DDT associates have also been banned.

Facebook and its photo-sharing service, Instagram: On January 6, the platforms suspended Trump for 24 hours after he expressed love for the mob attacking the Capitol. The next day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg banned DDT from them through the inauguration and indefinitely after that time.

YouTube: DDT’s channel was suspended for at least a week last week, and the platform indefinitely disabled comments from his channel. It also announced it would issue strikes to any channel posting videos with false claims violating the platform’s policies. Permanent removal comes from three strikes within three months.

Parler: Amazon Web Services removed Parler after users glorified the Capitol attack. The social media platform had already been removed from Google and Apple app stores. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/09/amazon-parler-suspension/   QAnon believers and other conspiracy theorists moved to Parler after Twitter banned them because the platform allows anything, including sex trafficking and porno messages. A hacker downloaded all the public messages from the week of January 6 allowing law enforcement to find many of the mob members and instigators at the Capitol attack.

Snapchat: DDT’s account was permanently disabled on January 15.

Bumble, Tinder, and Match: The accounts of Capitol rioters have been banned, and DDT’s account has an “indefinite suspension.

Reddit: r/The Donald and other pro-DDT pages advocating violent threats and misinformation have been banned. Also gone is subreddit r/DonaldTrump, a hub for “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorists encouraging armed users to go to the U.S. Capitol.

Twitch: The Amazon-owned video service disabled DDT’s channel indefinitely.

https://www.axios.com/platforms-social-media-ban-restrict-trump-d9e44f3c-8366-4ba9-a8a1-7f3114f920f1.html

TikTok: The platform is removing content violations and redirecting hashtags.

Discord: The Donald is now banned.

Pinterest: Hashtags connected to pro-DDT topics have been limited since the November election.

Stripe: The online handler of payments and transactions will no longer process for DDT’s campaign.

Okta: The manager of user authentication services has terminated Parler’s access to a free trial.

Twilio: The enterprise communications company won’t accept Parler.

LiquidWeb: This cloud and web-hosting company kicked off Oath Keepers, the far-right, self-identified “militia” group of current and former military, police and first responders. The group had told its followers to swarm Washington in “armed, in large groups.”

GoFundMe: Travel fundraising for political events with “risk of violence” has been banned.

Shopify: The Canadian e-commerce platform for online stores banned DDT’s campaign merchandise shop and personal brand.

The solution for seditionists now is Telegram, a Dubai-based chat app, and other services such as MeWe collecting those driven off Parler. Telegram moved from a ranking of 110th to the fifth most-downloaded app in the United States by January 12. When Signal went from 750 to first, its network went down. MeWe rose from below 1,000 to 12; WhatsApp and Messenger have stayed in the top 40 and top 20. An example of a Telegram message after DDT’s video condemning the violence at the Capitol:

“Trump betrayed the patriots by accepting defeat. The only way to save America is war. Full-blown Holy war.”

Far-right groups/symbols:  

Proud Boys: Known for violence and instigating street fights with counterdemonstrators. Garb: black and gold but may change to all black, imitating antifa, and bright orange hats. Founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes who separated himself from the organization. Well-known in the Northwest, but DDT raised an awareness of them when DDT told them to “stand by” in his first debate with Joe Biden. 

Hand gesture “OK”: Means “white power” from the W and P formed by the hand. 

Gesture from the Three Percenters, a right-wing anti-government militia group: Outstretched middle, ring, and pinkie fingers to represent the Roman numeral for three, similar to the “OK.” Name comes from myth that only three percent of the population fought against the British.

QAnon: Symbol of Q, representing online conspiracy theory about DDT leading a crusade against a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who encompass a majority of the nation’s elites, including politicians, celebrities, and executives. Their anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ beliefs joined by anti-mask and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, following cryptic messages and instructions from the anonymous person Q.

Oath Keepers: One of the largest self-described militia groups in the United States which recruits law enforcement and active or former military members. Large presence at such high-profile events as the Nevada Bundy ranch uprising and Ferguson (MO) protests.  Founded in 2009. Yellow logo comes from the U.S. Army Ranger tab.

The letters “AF” (America First) surrounded by a circle: Name of podcast hosted by far-right activist Nick Fuentes appearing at Charlottesville (VA) “United the Right” and taunting protesters of George Floyd’s killing. Racist and anti-Semitic followers called “Groypers,” using the smirking Pepe the Frog imagery sometimes depicted in the uniform like that of Hitler’s military security force.

Kekistan flag: A green and black symbol spelling “kek.” Supposedly a parallel between Pepe the Frog and an ancient deity appearing as a man with a frog head mimicking the German Nazi war flag.

A hanging noose/Day of the Rope: Based on the fictional insurrection, “Day of the Rope,” from white supremacist William Luther Pierce’s 1978 novel, The Turner Diaries, in which white supremacists lynch politicians, journalists, and White people in interracial relationships who they call “race traitors.”  Posts on January 6 referencing hangman knots and hanging “traitors” betraying DDT such as Supreme Court justices and lawmakers. Rioters put up a noose outside the Capitol.

Valknot: The “knot of slain,” three interlinked triangles from Nordic culture and heritage, connected to the afterlife and white supremacy Odinism.

VDARE: Red, white, and blue lion imagery connected to the website associated with Virginia Dare, supposedly the first White child born in the New World.

Confederate flag: Most well-known symbol of white supremacy representing Southern heritage and slavery.

The FBI is investigating donations of over $500,000-valued bitcoin from a French account to 22 far-right organizations and people including VDARE, Daily Stormer, and Nick Fuentes. The transfer was made on December 8, four weeks before the failed January 6 coup. Far-right groups have a tradition of dealing with cryptocurrency and crowdfunding, especially since the deadly Charlottesville (VA) rally in August 2017.

Sunday before the inauguration, hate groups have promised to return to D.C. to commit violence. On Saturday, law enforcement arrested a Virginia man at a checkpoint near the Capitol. He had an “unauthorized” inauguration pass, an unregistered loaded gun, and almost 550 rounds of ammunition. He claimed he was working as a security guard and forgot he was carrying the gun. He also denied having any ammunition. His Ford F-150 pickup displayed stickers such as “Assault Life” and “If they come for your guns Give ‘Em your bullets first.” He was booked for carrying a weapon without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of unregistered ammunition.

With little federal support, all 50 state capitols in the nation are preparing for armed attacks on January 20 because of violent threats from seditionists.

Two days ago, acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, the colossal failure in protecting the Capitol on January 6, said he “couldn’t wait” to get out of the job. Yet he’s still sabotaging the government, now ordering the head of NSA Gen. Paul Nakasone to install Michael Ellis as top lawyer at the National Security Agency by 6:00 pm on January 16. Ellis was head counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), master leaker of congressional secrets to DDT; if appointed, Ellis would be a civil servant, not a political appointee, making him harder for a new administration to fire. Nakasone didn’t meet the deadline, and the ball is back in Miller’s court.

Under 80 more hours!

DDT: Weeks 207 & 208 – ‘The Big Lies’

Only the legacy of insurrection and sedition left by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rises above his cruelty and inhumanity. He started his white supremacist campaign on June 16, 2015 when he declared people from Mexico are “rapists” who are “bringing drugs, and he finished it as a cult leader of a white supremacist terror cell attacking the U.S. Capitol.

The DOJ inspector general’s report about DDT’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy for immigrants proves DDT’s incessant cruelty. Interviews and email reviews define DDT’s involvement in the policy of separating separate children from their families with no hope of reunification. Too little too late, former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein expressed regret, “I wish we all had done better.”

The report’s findings match the 21-month House Judiciary Committee’s investigation accusing DDT’s administration of “reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty.” Last November, 666 children, 20 percent under the age of five, were still not reunited with their families. Children reunified suffered trauma described by doctors as “torture” and “state-sanctioned child abuse” after U.S. officials had told the children they would never see their families again. Only public outrage over such revelations as a breastfeeding baby torn from the mother and a man’s suicide after separation from his wife and child forced the government to slightly modify its policy. The government continued its human rights violation with the removal of reproductive organs from immigrant women in concentration facilities until recently.  

In another cruel act, DDT and his HHS Secretary Alex Azar lied about releasing the “reserve” vaccines to increase the number of people receiving vaccinations.  DDT had claimed he was saving the doses for booster shots, but Azar finally admitted the government started sending out the reserves in December with the final shipment last week. Three years after DDT was inaugurated, he falsely accused President Obama of leaving “a bare cupboard” with no PPP supplies. Yet the “bare cupboard” with no vaccine is exactly what DDT leaves Joe Biden’s administration. Millions of people—teachers, healthcare workers, elders, etc.—expected to receive the vaccinations as soon as this month. Instead, everyone will watch DDT fly away on Air Force One the morning of January 20 for the last time and wonder when they will be vaccinated.

Biden’s transition team has been blocked from access to information or personnel about the production and distribution of the vaccine. Team members were also not briefed on new policies such as offering the vaccine to anyone with high-risk medical conditions, guaranteed to fail because of DDT’s vaccine shortage. Another policy to be put into effect after Biden became president was designed to penalize slower-moving states. Biden has promised to not punish any states. The new administration is developing a real plan for vaccinating the nation while dropping DDT’s name “Operation Warp Speed” for the vaccine.

Azar submitted his resignation letter dated January 12. He blamed DDT’s “actions and rhetoric” for tarnishing the administration’s legacy and touted his own accomplishments, including the COVID-19 vaccine. He omitted his lies to the people exacerbating its disaster with over 400,000 deaths, instead claiming that he saved millions of lives. He also didn’t mention his most recent lie to the states about having reserves for vaccinations or address the 20 million vaccinations he promised by the end of December. The total of doses delivered is currently 10.6 million.

January 15 would have been the 92nd birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, and DDT is using this anniversary by executing people. The execution on King’s birthday, DDT’s 13th since last summer when AG Bill Barr thought killing people is a good idea, is the third in three days. The first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1953 was killed January 13; she was seriously mentally ill. Another man, intellectually disabled, was killed January 14. Courts had objected to their executions. The DOJ complained that the U.S. would suffer more harm from the inconvenience of rescheduling private contractors than prisoners would be harmed by their deaths.

The most recent man executed was convicted in Maryland which outlawed the death penalty. Because the Federal Death Penalty Act bans executions for people from states banning the killing of prisoners, DOJ moved the case to Indiana, which does permit executions. Lawyers objected, and the legality of DOJ’s move to Indiana has a hearing on January 27—12 days after DOJ killed him. DOJ also lied about his killing three women: his co-defendant, who actually did the killing, is in prison for life without parole.

Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, wants to continue propagandizing government-funded broadcasts from Voice of America (VOA) and other networks such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during the Biden administration. He serves as chair of the networks’ boards and packed them with conservative activists and DDT loyalists. The boards have agreed to binding contractual agreements which supposedly cannot be removed for another two years except “for cause.”

Because of internal objections and objections, the new presidents, appointed by Pack this month, have not yet signed the contracts. The European network reaches over 40 million people in 27 languages across 23 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Ukraine; Radio Free Asia audiences are in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and North Korea. Some VOA journalists signed a letter demanding Pack and his deputy resign for their use of VOA in a “propaganda event” for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the “sudden and unexplained” reassignments of the chief news editor and White House correspondent. Pompeo told the journalists at the event “to cease critical coverage of the United States.” A VOA journalist who tried to ask Pompeo questions after his speech was taken off the White House beat, and the new chief news editor told her she doesn’t “know how to behave!”

As a lame duck, DDT suffers continued financial losses:

Three banks—Signature, Professional, and Deutsche—stopped doing business with DDT. Signature, where DDT has a $5.3 million loan, closed his personal accounts; Professional in Florida had loaned DDT’s company $11.2 million to buy his sister’s home near Mar-a-Lago; and Deutsche, which holds $400 million in loans for DDT, will no longer lend to him.

Real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield will not work with DDT, including office leasing at Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street as well as retail leasing in Chicago. DDT has lost the real estate broker to sell his hotel in D.C.

Four Trump-branded hotels closed, and his company’s plans for new hotel chains disappeared. Biden is now DDT’s new “landlord” at the D.C. hotel because the government holds the lease.

Decorated chef David Burke left DDT’s D.C. hotel’s BLT Prime restaurant.

DDT’s worldwide 19 golf courses won’t be holding international events—the 2022 PGA at Bedminister (NJ) and the British Open at Turnberry (Scotland). His tax returns show a $315.6 million loss over two decades. Turnberry, Trump International Scotland, and Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland together lost $63.6 million, and Trump National Doral (Miami, FL) lost $162.3 up to 2018.

Shopiify will not host TrumpStore.com.

New York City is considering canceling all contracts with DDT’s company, including operating the Central Park skating rink.

DDT is facing state-level investigations into his financial practices in New York, probably blocking his former business of money laundering and tax fraud. The unconstitutional emoluments will be gone.

And Lehigh University, Robert Gordon University, and Wagner College rescinded and revoked honorary degrees given DDT. He keeps only two honorary degrees from Liberty University.

At least, DDT doesn’t need to look for a new job; his staffers aren’t as lucky. With their negative branding, they are having difficulty. One PR recruiter who took only six of over a dozen staffers as clients couldn’t get interviews for any of them. One recruiter talked about the applicants “narcissistic attitudes, thinking any company” would want to hire them. For the first few couple of months after the election, staffers couldn’t even openly look for a job, afraid that the personnel director would carry through with his threat to fire them.

PR firm Burson Cohn and Wolfe (BCW), with executives from both Clinton and W. Bush administrations, stated it has “no current plans to hire from this administration.” In an op-ed, Forbes wrote it will assume any company or firm hiring current or former press secretaries is always telling lies. Former DDT officials such as Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton want jobs as a television commentator or an academic, but Fox has only so much room and the lying goes for academia. One media executive said:

“We’re not taking people who have no credibility. Very few of them have real value beyond Fox News, [One America News], and Newsmax.”

Recent polls:

  • 76 percent: Voters rating DDT’s conduct since the election as fair or poor, up eight points from November and now 62 percent “poor.”
  • 84 percent: support for another stimulus package, including 56 percent from Republicans.
  • 56 percent: support for Congress to disqualify DDT from future offices.
  • 66 percent: belief DDT acted irresponsibly since election.
  • 71 percent: DDT’s responsibility for the Capitol attack from “a great deal” to “good amount.”
  • 54 percent: in favor of charging DDT for crime of inciting a riot.
  • 69 percent: viewing white supremacists as a serious problem.

Last week, DDT fired Byung Pak, his appointed Georgia U.S. Attorney, after DDT insisted Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” another 11,780 votes to swing the state for DDT. Furious because Pak wouldn’t help him change the votes, DDT replaced him with Bobby Christine who brought assistants involved in monitoring election fraud. Christine dismissed two DDT election fraud cases on his first day.

Four more days until the inauguration.  

January 15, 2021

Sedition Has Consequences

The impeachment is over, with National Guard protecting the House chamber, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs a team for the trial in Senate. He may have trouble finding one. He’s unhappy with Rudy Giuliani for his failure to overturn the election and refuses to pay him the promised $20,000 a day—maybe not even travel costs. But DDT is famous for stiffing his employees. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was so disgusted by the Capitol siege he told staffers he won’t be defending DDT in the current impeachment as he did last time. DDT also can’t get several prominent law firms this time around, and most of the lawyers from last time have bailed, leaving only Alan Dershowitz who didn’t a poor job the first time around. Yet Dershowitz said provoking people to storm the Capitol was a “political and moral sin.”

Law professor John Eastman (left) who claimed election fraud at DDT’s January 6 rally inciting violence is a consideration. The Chapman University (Orange County, CA) professor was immediately “retired” by the school after his recitation of lies about election fraud. 

In the name of “freedom,” recalcitrant GOP House members are ignoring rules such as wearing masks and using the metal detector before entering the chamber. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is fed up with the lack of security: she’s fining them $5,000 for the first one and $10,000 for the second one, with the money directly deducted from salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer. Her decision came after appearances of collusion between some of the representatives and the violent protesters. The day after the siege, newly-elected Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) bragged about carrying a gun into the House chamber, a violation of the law.

Newly-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), conspiracy theorist who tweeted Pelosi’s location at the beginning of the Capitol attack and fought the use of a metal detector, announced on Newsmax she plans to file articles of impeachment against Joe Biden on January 21 for abuse of power. After voting against DDT’s impeachment, she accused Biden of being “easily bought off by foreign governments,” referencing “Chiney” (her word) and Ukrainian energy companies.

QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gives Boebert a run for her money in inciting violence. One week after the mob stormed the Capitol, Greene tweeted:

“These Democrats are the enemies to the American people who are leading the impeachment witch hunt against President Trump. AGAIN! They will be held accountable.”

A member of the party that advocates calming rhetoric, Greene claims DDT “will remain in office” and added, “This Hail Mary attempt to remove him from the White House is an attack on every American who voted for him.” GOP colleague Adam Kinzinger (IL) said the language, which may “incite insurrections,” is “literally anti-democracy.” Greene was one of the Republicans who refused to wear a mask at the superspreader lockdown in the Capitol. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) was the fourth Democrat to contract COVID-19 since some Republicans refused to follow health guidance during last week’s lockdown.  [visual – Marjorie

And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) wants to know “why there aren’t more uprisings around the country.”

Newly-elected Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), one of ten Republicans who voted for impeachment, said he is buying body armor to protect himself from death threats as well as hiring armed escorts for himself and his family while traveling.

Some Republicans booed the plea newly-elected Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) made for impeachment. Perhaps they were comfortable doing that because she’s a young Black woman. Her entire speech:

“Madam Speaker, St. Louis and I, we rise in support of the article of impeachment against Donald J Trump. If we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it’s communities like Missouri’s First District that suffer the most. The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief. Thank you and I yield back.”

No one booed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, when she made her speech about how DDT “summoned” the mob that attacked the Capitol, “assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.″ She said, “Everything that followed was his doing” because he could have stopped he riot but didn’t, a riot resulting in five deaths including a police officer. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was visibly upset by her statements, including: 

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

A common meme about disasters, especially during the years of DDT—“It is what it is.” Fox’s Pete Hegseth has coined a new one for 2021 when talking about the insurrection at the Capitol: “What happened, happened.

Corporations claim they won’t donate to congressional members voting to overturn the election, but an analysis shows corporate and trade association political action committees gave $170 million to those 146 congressional members since the 2016 cycle. Of the PACs, 46 donated to at least 50 percent of those who objected to electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  

Law enforcement seems to finally take the threats to the new administration seriously. Plans for the inauguration:

  • Citywide emergency declaration until inauguration.
  • More fencing—lots more fencing—including around the perimeter of the Capitol and the Pentagon.
  • At least 21,000 National Guard members deployed, many of them armed, and the number could grow.
  • Warnings about armed protests by violent DDT supporters in all 50 state capitals.
  • The National Special Security Event lockdown declaration, usually for the day of the inauguration, moved up to January 13.
  • Sealed parking garages downtown.
  • The 13 Metro stations inside the security perimeter shut down.
  • All downtown hotels urged to close and pay their staff. (Several of them, as well as Airbnb, have already done so.)
  • Reduction of those included inside the perimeter dropped from 200,000 to 3,000.
  • Parade viewing stands near the White House dismantled and inaugural balls canceled.
  • A virtual parade instead of the typical walk.
  • Interior Department asked to issue no permissions for permits.
  • Closure of National Mall and major bridges into downtown D.C. on Inaugural Day.

On the day after his impeachment, DDT released a five-minute video on the White House Twitter account condemning violence and saying he would never condone it—a week after he gave a White House party cheering on the mob descending on the Capitol. He tried to look presidential but finished the speech by lambasting people who attempt to “silence” others. DDT failed to announce “the election was not stolen,” and his official Peter Navarro went on Fox the next day to declaim DDT was “legally elected” as president. DDT also asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who accompanied DDT on his official trip to Alamo (TX), to persuade fellow senators to vote against impeachment conviction.

As DDT gets closer to being an ex-president, he breaks into more rages, especially when confronted with comparisons between him and ex-President Nixon. The reminder of his departure hangs outside his White House residence in the banner stating  “2021 Biden-Harris Inauguration.” DDT refuses to make any farewell address and leaves all official duties to VP Mike Pence. DDT’s schedule continues to be blank. Meanwhile, the administration members are taking “moving” to the extreme: they’re walking out of the White House with items belonging to the U.S. people.

Unemployment claims for the first full week of January have gone up 25 percent to 965,000—a non-adjusted claims of 1.2 million—with another 284,500 from those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

And nobody is leading the country; the surge is escalating. World-wide the deaths are past 2 million; in the U.S. the number of deaths will go above 400,000 by the end of January 15 with an estimate of another 100,000 within two weeks. 

The high note of the January 6 attempted coup came four days later when David Smith, recently retired from the Navy, gathered almost 200 veterans and other volunteers to pick up the trash left behind by the mob. On a sweep through the area around the Capitol and downtown D.C., they collected “Stop the Steal” and other pro-DDT detritus left from the riots and used scrapers and adhesive remover to remove signs and stickers from neo-Nazi and alt-right groups. Messages expressing the need for veterans “to stand up” led to a group deciding to attend Black Lives Matter protests to give demonstrators security and supply them medical and logistical support. Smith said they want to stick to their oath, “to defend the Constitution, thereby ensuring the rights of all our citizens.”  

Five more days of temper tantrums and failures in the White House.

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