Nel's New Day

April 30, 2021

Socialist Republicans Lambast Biden

Last night’s speech to a joint session of Congress by President Joe Biden on his 99th day in office was watched by almost 27 million people not counting those who mainstreamed it. MSNBC, with 4.1 million watchers, came in first for both the speech and the entire primetime (8:00-11:00 pm), beating out both CNN and Fox. 

While other networks broadcast the speech with no reaction, Fox occasionally inserted a live feed with Tucker Carlson in the bottom corner. The network had preempted Carlson’s program for the speech and may have decided to include him in Biden’s delivery. Carlson’s mostly blank stare came and went throughout the hour, appearing after a couple of minutes before disappearing after 30 seconds and then returning another seven minutes before again leaving. During this time and two more appearances, Carlson’s only change in expression came when he raised his eyebrows in response to Biden’s statement that “vicious” racist attacks against Asian-Americans are wrong. The chyron on the bottom of Carlson’s box stated, “Standing Up for What’s Right.”

Sean Hannity delivered a split-personality response to the speech when he brought up his myth of senility—the “who’s in charge” accusation—and saying that the “very weak, very frail, cognitively struggling” Biden delivered a “big bore socialist speech” over an hour long.

According to the CBS News/YouGov Poll, “Eighty-five percent of Americans who watched Mr. Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress overwhelmingly approve of his speech. Fifteen percent disapprove.” The results may have been slightly skewed because the number of Republicans in the survey sample was two percent under the general population, but the results also found Biden’s speech made 78 percent of viewers feel optimistic about America. CNN’s poll found viewers agreed with Biden’s tone and priorities:

“Speech-watchers largely said Biden hit the right notes in terms of ideology and partisanship. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said the proposals he outlined in the speech were about right ideologically, 31% said they were too liberal and just 5% not liberal enough. And 58% said that Biden made the right amount of outreach to Republicans in his speech, while 38% felt he did not go far enough. Only 4% said Biden went too far.”

Like Biden’s speech, Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) strange official rebuttal by the Republican party reverberated throughout the media. One of three GOP Blacks in Congress, Scott asserted that the United States is “not a racist country.” (Democrats have two Black senators and 55 Black representatives.) After this statement, Scott described law enforcement’s racial profiling:

“I have experienced the pain of discrimination. I know what it feels like to be pulled over for no reason. To be followed around a store while I’m shopping… I do not know many African American men who do not have a very similar story to tell—no matter their profession, no matter their income, no matter their disposition in life.”

 In July 2016, after police shot and killed two Black men, Scott spoke about the “deep divide” between communities and law enforcement. He said he was stopped seven times in one year when he was an elected official.

“The vast majority of the time I was pulled over for driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or something else just as trivial.” 

As a Republicans, Scott is required to say that the United States is “not a racist country.”

Scott talked about the lack of education and opportunity for Black people while ignoring how the fault lay with conservatives who also blocked them from voting. Earlier, he had declared “woke supremacy,” the striving for social justice, was as bad as white supremacy, ignoring the lynchings and other violent murders by white supremacists in contrast to the vast majority of peace protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. In trying to justify this comment he said he was critiquing the left’s “intolerance for dissent.”

After he complained about “progressives” calling him “Uncle Tom,” a description of Black men servile to whites, the hashtag #UncleTim was so prevalent on Twitter that the company removed it. One person using the hashtag was Bishop Talbert Swan, president of the Greater Springfield (MA) chapter of the NAACP. Swan wrote:

“Trotting out sycophantic Black folks who will serve as apologists for white supremacy is a tried-and-true tactic that racists have used for centuries. These are your go-to people for white supremacists to put in front of Black people and say, ‘See, even your own people are saying we’re not racist, that America isn’t racist.’”

From the far-right:

“Federally funded school from age 3 to 20 doesn’t sound like education, it sounds like indoctrination.”—Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene 

“Universal day care” is class war against normal people.”—Hillbilly Elegy author and Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance 

“Universal child care’ is a massive subsidy to the lifestyle preferences of the affluent over the preferences of the middle and working class… It turns out that normal Americans care more about their families than their jobs, and want a family policy that doesn’t shunt their kids into crap daycare so they can enjoy more ‘freedom’ in the paid labor force.”—more Vance

Before the speech, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that Biden would make Pre-K and community college education mandatory instead of Biden’s proposal that it be available free. Caught up in the lie, her excuse was that she misspoke because she was on “live TV.”

Also on “live TV,” House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responded to Biden’s speech on Hannity’s show by repeating the lie that Biden is “going to control how much meat you eat.” Desperate for finding some way to smear Biden, Republicans came up with the illogical syllogism that Biden’s goal of cutting gas emissions will be to ban meat. Fox network had already apologized for the falsehood, but McCarthy may not have been paying attention.

Other than the fake “senility” and meat-banning” accusations, Republicans repeatedly cite that Biden is boring (no hostile tweets or language) and he’s a socialist, complaints they hope will stick. The boredom doesn’t seem to work because much of the country is ready for less angst. As for socialism, Democrats only need to point out that former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) led the GOP into socialism. Neither Biden nor DDT wants to be truly socialist—no nationalizing manufacturing and distribution of goods, no abolishing private property.

Yet DDT favored industries he liked by removing regulations and mandates while crippling others. DDT’s federal debt in 2019 was 14 percent than the one he inherited—and all from GOP approval. Promising to roll back regulations, DDT spend his last two years adding regulations, mostly with trade restrictions and antitrust action against Big Tech. DDT’s technology task force to police Big Tech set up a new socialist precedent.

His tax cuts combined with massive government spending left ballooning deficits and debt for future tax hikes.Last year’s mandate on the use of U.S. products in federal contracting and infrastructure created a tax on people with cost hikes in government projects. 

Major DDT regulations came from the red tape surrounding H-1B visas to prevent foreign professionals from entering the U.S. Yet he kept cheap labor at his own businesses by allowing immigrants to take more menial jobs.

In another socialist move for political purposes, DDT regulated ethanol mandates on domestic oil refiners helping red agricultural states like Iowa. His higher energy costs redistribute wealth from consumers to producers. Giving farmers almost $20 billion to cover his retaliatory tariffs with China is another socialist move. For DDT, socialism supports his nationalist agenda.

With a net positive approval rating of 12 percent from the population, Biden suffers from negative media. Negative stories outnumber positive ones by nine points, even with DDT being somewhat muzzled. Maybe because the mainstream media, even ones that seem progressive, are owned by conservatives. 

April 29, 2021

Can Democracy Compete with Autocracy?

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 12:25 AM
Tags: , , ,

Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who the GOP drags out for lying reasons to be elected, wanted equality for all—both before the law and in gaining resources. At that time, the GOP gave land to people, built railroads, created public colleges, and legislated Black equality. Another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, regulated business and supported labor. Now, Republicans block help for people by opposing such legislation as expanding infrastructure and making voting available for all eligible voters.

Tonight, Joe Biden gave his first speech to Congress as president and presented his vision of the future. After he and the Democrats—without one GOP vote—reduced half the children living in poverty, he wants to put more investment into the nation’s youth through the American Families Plan. It provides $1.8 trillion in education with free schooling from pre-K through community children, childcare, paid family medical care, and more. Not only do Republicans, despite claiming to be the party of the working people, fight against the funding, but they also hate the idea of returning the top tax rate to George W. Bush’s 39.6 percent and increasing the capital gains rate. Just enforcing current tax laws on the wealthiest and corporations, that slide by the IRS, would incur $700 billion of revenue.

Tonight Biden said:

“The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent. Can our democracy deliver on its promise that all of us —created equal in the image of God—have a chance to lead lives of dignity, respect, and possibility?  Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people? Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?”

He ended by explaining the beginning of the constitution, “We the People,” to emphasize that coming together “will meet the central challenge of the age by proving that democracy is durable and strong. The autocrats will not win the future…. America will.”

Politico called Biden’s speech, “the most ideologically ambitious speech of any Democratic president in generations.” In plain speech, he talked about racial and class inequities, gun violence, immigration, etc. as if all his positions are common sense. Bringing in the conservative coalition, he defined the advantages of his infrastructure plan:

“Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. Seventy-five percent don’t require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

Biden’s position is that education and working class jobs can overcome conservative grievances from George Wallace and Ronald Reagan. The speech dismissed the 40-year-old argument that “government is the problem” to point out that the government is all the people. And he did that by pressing down on the jobs message, combining it with solving problems like the climate crisis. “When I think about climate change, I think jobs,” he said.

The speech was an 180-degree turn from the last four annual speeches to Congress given by the previous White House occupant. It was one of hope and encouragement instead of fear and hatred. It made no apologies for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed without one GOP vote because it was desperately needed. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is attacking Biden for lack of unity, but polls highly approve of all Biden’s actions except for immigration and gun safety. Immigrations problems are snarled because of the mess left by Biden’s predecessor, and people generally support many of Biden’s ideas on gun reform. Biden said:

“America is moving—moving forward. And we can’t stop now. We’re in a great inflection point in history. We have to do more than just build back. We have to build back better… We welcome ideas. But the rest of the world isn’t waiting for us. I just want to be clear: from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option.”

People view the sparse crowd in the House chamber as a result of COVID-19, but it was the location targeted by GOP insurrectionists and the site of congressional members who voted to block Biden from being president. Even wearing masks, the cold eyes of Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were obviously filled with hate as they watched the speech except for when Cruz nodded off.

In his 70-minute speech, Biden did what he does best, appealing to the working class in what he called a “blue-collar blueprint to build America” with the pandemic coming under control. He began by saying: [visual – Biden speech]

“Madam Speaker, Madam Vice President. No president has ever said those words from this podium—and it’s about time.”

Biden continued by encouraging people to get vaccinated and talking about the success of vaccinations—220 million in his first 99 days.

Other Biden quotes:

“In our first 100 days together, we have acted to restore people’s faith in our democracy to deliver.” 

“Trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.”

“Sometimes I have arguments with my friends in the Democratic Party. I think you should be able to become a billionaire and a millionaire. But pay your fair share.”

“We won’t ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism.” 

“I also told President Xi that we will maintain a strong military presence in the Indo-Pacific … not to start conflict – but to prevent one.”

“Can our democracy deliver on the most pressing needs of our people? Can our democracy overcome the lies, anger, hate and fears that have pulled us apart?”

 Biden touched on foreign affairs in his contrast between democracy and autocracy. Topics included withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, competition with China, relations with Russia, and nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. In his speech, he covered the overarching problem of world relationships instilled in the past four years:

“In my conversations with world leaders, and I’ve spoken to over 38, 40 of them now, I’ve made it known—I’ve made it known that America is back. And you know what they say? The comment I hear most of all from them is they say, ‘We see America’s back, but for how long? But for how long?’ My fellow Americans. We have to show not just that we’re back but that we’re back to stay.”

About foreign terrorism, Biden said white supremacy was a bigger threat to the nation. DHS has warned the danger from these organizations will remain a persistent threat in the U.S. for the coming years. Calling Xi Jinping an “autocrat,” Biden cautioned that the president of China is “deadly earnest” in making “the most significant and consequential nation in the world.” Biden said Xi believes democracy will not survive.

About gun safety legislation, Biden told Congress, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done.” He asked for measures expanding background checks for gun buyers and the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act. Republicans are dragging their feet about approval because it closes the “boyfriend” loophole keeping guns from abusers. According to Biden, over 50 women are shot and killed by partners every month in the U.S. He also wants a reinstatement on the ban of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Biden also asked for support of the Equality Act outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. To transgender people, Biden said:

“To all the transgender Americans watching at home – especially the young people who are so brave – I want you to know that your president has your back.”

Another Biden request was passing the policing bill by May 26, the anniversary of George Floyd’s killing. The bill beefs up police accountability and stops problem officers from moving from one department to another. The focus is to overhaul policing discriminatory practices. Biden said, “The country supports this reform. And Congress should act.”

The finish to this year’s speech was also 180-degrees different from the one last year when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ripped the speech in half after Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) finished.

Younger women may not be impressed that two women, in the two highest positions of power in U.S. government, sat behind the president when he gave his speech. Yet this historic first was hard-won. In October 2016, Hillary Clinton was on her way to being the person giving the next speech to Congress, even after false smears from Republicans, some of whom have since then been convicted of serious crimes. On October 28, 2016, 11 days before the election, then FBI director James Comey dropped a bombshell about emails that turned out to not incriminate her. He did this after he hid an ongoing investigation about her opponent’s involvement with Russia in their interference of the election. People in the U.S. waited four years to return to moving forward—hopefully back toward democracy.  

People in the United States need to prove Xi Jinping wrong, that the United States can escape more autocracy.

April 28, 2021

DDT’s Foreign Legacy for Biden

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 12:05 AM
Tags:

Three months after President Joe Biden replaced Deposed Donald Trump (DD) in the White House, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined Biden’s foreign policy, linking it to domestic policy. The focus will be supporting democracy both at home and abroad in opposition to rising authoritarianism. Biden’s strategy of reaching out to people emphasizes human rights and protection of democracy fighters.

Last week, Biden announced that the Ottomans’ massacre of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians was a “genocide.” With another 300,000 displaced, the Ottomans erased 90 percent of the two million Armenians living in the Empire. Because Turkey controls access to the Black Sea bordering Russia and Ukraine, no other president openly admitted this ethnic cleansing, and only 30 other countries have made a formal recognition of the genocide. The term “genocide,” coined in 1944, means destruction of a a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

DDT’s bullying of democratic nations and strong support for autocracy left Biden a mess around the world.

Turkey is just one example: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, allied with Russia and the Taliban, purchased a S-400 missile-defense system from the Kremlin. DDT protected Erdogan, for example in 2017 when DDT dropped charges after Erdogan’s security staff who beat up U.S. protesters in Washington, D.C. Even Mike Pompeo, DDT’s Secretary of State, expressed concern after Biden’s election about Turkey, referring to the country’s “recent actions” as “very aggressive.” He was alluding to Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia and military moves in Libya and the Mediterranean. Turkey angrily tweeted a demand that Biden retract the claim of genocide.

Russia is putting tens of thousands of military members on its border along Ukraine in a threat to take its territory after illegally annexing the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked the U.S. for help, and Biden proposed a summit with Vladimir Putin to discuss this problem as well as others. Putin may use the pandemic to try to take over other countries.

Iran, to the southeast of Ukraine, has accelerated its nuclear program after DDT dropped out of the agreement to restrict its buildup. The U.S. and Iranian negotiators have met in Vienna to discuss the reinstatement of U.S. involvement in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Israel has attacked Iran, including the Iranian nuclear facility in Natanz to sabotage efforts between Iran and the U.S. by causing an armed conflict between the two countries. In the North Arabian Sea, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots because three vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came close within 200 feet of the U.S. ship and refused to back off. It is the second incident this month. During the nuclear talks, Iran is requesting a prisoner exchange with the U.S.

The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been a problem for every 21st-century president since George W. Bush started the violence to please the hawks in his administration. DDT had already promised to withdraw the last troops. Biden announced he will follow through with the plan by September 11, 2021—the 20th anniversary of attacks on the U.S. by 19 Middle Easterners, three-fourths of them from Saudi Arabia. Some of Biden’s GOP opposition tries to use the decision against him, but Pakistan hides Taliban members taking action against Afghans. Last year, DDT signed a peace agreement with the Taliban, but they failed to keep the terms.

Israel has typically been popular with people in the United States, but DDT spent his four years reinforcing Israel’s attempts to destroy the Palestinians. DDT’s family profited by the Israeli developments on the Palestinian land, and evangelicals loved DDT because they want the Israelis to control all the property in preparation for the End Times when Christ returns. The racist legal system perpetrated by Israelis is now being described as apartheid, like that in 1990s South Africa, by an increasing number of Israel’s and global watchdogs.  

Mainland China and Taiwan, considered a breakaway province by China, have developed tense relationship. The U.S. considers Taiwan to have territorial integrity, but China is now started moving into Taipei’s airspace, and China sounds increasingly angry. After four years of DDT, the U.S. may no longer have a military edge over China.

Korea may regain visibility in Biden’s foreign policy after DDT tried to renew his love affair with North Korea President Kim Jong-Un:

“Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who I have gotten to know (and like) under the most trying of circumstances, never respected the current President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. President Moon was weak as a leader and as a negotiator, except when it came to the continued, long term military ripoff of the USA… We were treated like fools for decades, however, I got them to pay billions of dollars more for the military protection and services we render.”

Moon has asked Biden to return to negotiations with North Korea after two years of DDT’s failure to complete an agreement regarding North Korea’s nuclearization. Kim has consistently tested intermediate-range ballistic missiles possibly targeting Hawaii and Alaska despite DDT’s claim that he had stopped. DDT declared “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea” and canceled or downsized the annual joint military drills with South Korea. Biden insisted “some form of diplomacy [with North Korea] must be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization.” The U.S. stations 28,500 military members in South Korea and never officially ended the Korean War because the South Korea president in 1953 refused to sign the armistice treaty.

For the majority of the 21st century, George W. Bush and DDT tried to destroy the International Criminal Court, climate control, and the UN’s attempt to prevent armed conflict. DDT followed Bush’s destructive nature by cheering on Brexit, alienating NATO allies, and pulling the U.S. out of every agreement that helped protect the United States. Their goals were to create chaos and block order and stability. On top of that, U.S. conservatives are determined to erase democracy and move on to autocracy.

Last September, U.S. standing in the world dropped to unbelievable lows. Two months before the 2020 presidential election, 13 surveyed countries gave these favorable impressions of the U.S.: Germans, 26 percent; Dutch, 30 percent; French, 31 percent; Australians and Swedes, 33 percent; Canadians, 35 percent; and Japanese and British, 41 percent. Only South Koreans were over 50 percent. Before DDT’s election, favorability of these countries ranged between 57 percent (Germany) and 72 percent (Japan). Only 15 percent of respondents gave favorable responses to DDT’s “handling” of the coronavirus, half the approval for China. Of U.S. allies, 83 percent had no confidence in DDT, but only 16 percent trusted him to do the right thing in world affairs.

In the U.S., 62 percent of people in the U.S. rejected DDT’s isolationist policies, saying COVID’s lesson is the need to “coordinate and collaborate with other countries to solve global issues.” Most people wanting to take an active part in world affairs (68 percent) and looking at globalization as “mostly good” for the U.S. (65 percent) self-identify as Democrats and unaffiliated. Republicans supporting globalization dropped from 62 percent in 2014 to 55 percent last September.

Biden’s strategies to deal with DDT’s mess, some accomplished in his first 100 days:

  • Selecting centrists in foreign policy officials who tackle corruption and review using armed drones outside active battlefields to satisfy progressives;
  • Returning the U.S. to agreements such as the Paris climate agreement and the Iran denuclearization deal;
  • Reversing DDT’s Muslim ban;
  • Lifting sanctions against International Criminal Court officials;
  • Deliberating through consultation on important issues for collaboration instead making unilateral tweets;
  • Convening groups to deepen ties such as his work with the Quad—Australia, India, and Japan—and the recent summit with 40 nations for climate discussions;
  • Holding countries such as China and Russia to account without becoming disengaged;
  • Remaining calm, the attitude called “boring” by DDT supporters, in messaging and purpose;
  • Reentering global leadership.

DDT’s foreign policy “style,” full of bombast and “me-ism,” focused on isolationism, white supremacy, blackmail, and general disinterest. Biden wants a return to world cooperation, peace, and democracy. Some far-right and far-left groups give Biden low grades for his first 100 days of foreign policy. Nothing happens instantly, however, and the Philadelphia Inquirer has been more positive about Biden’s actions and plans in the foreign arena. Biden’s work in building distrust after DDT’s insults to European and Asian leaders is important to fight unfair trade policies and authoritarian control. With China, Biden has more of a waiting game while he repairs the infrastructure, necessary to develop improved technologies. Perhaps his best move thus far came from straight talk with Russia.

One-hundred days isn’t long—less than seven percent of Biden’s term—and he’s been saving lives by handling the pandemic so badly botched by his predecessor. Yet Biden has created a sense of optimism and hope for the future throughout a large part of the world while DDT leads his followers into more violent insurrection against the U.S. government.

April 25, 2021

Biden’s Economy Disappoints GOP

With lies and no evidence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Joe Biden is taking “destabilizing” actions, his foreign policy has been a “disaster,” and he has tossed a “wet blanket” on the economy. He accused Biden of “wanting to raise taxes in a large amount” although Biden’s taxes will drastically drop for anyone making under $75,000.

The U.S. economy seems to be humming along: stock markets rising, the weekly number of unemployment claims is almost half what they were a few months ago, and March saw almost one million new jobs, the largest increase in seven months. The thought of Biden’s stable economy greatly disappoints most Republicans. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ran his losing campaign by claiming Biden’s election would cause a huge economic crash.

“If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Republicans guaranteed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would be a disaster. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), leaving Congress next year, warned about “too much liquidity going into the system.” The checks went out last month, immediately after the GOP congressional members voted en masse against ARPA and then had to lie about supporting the law all along. Retail sales are up, and the unemployment rate is dropping. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a DDT appointee, dismissed the GOP’s dire warnings  about runaway inflation.

Republicans trying to sabotage any Democratic success and help for people howled about Biden’s proposal of an infrastructure law paid by the corporate tax increase to seven percent lower before DDT’s tampering. They claim the tax increase will “hurt the American family and millions of struggling small businesses.” Yet reducing the corporate tax rate in 2017 didn’t lower prices, and Biden’s plan raises capital gains tax only on people earning more than $1 million a year.

The American Families Plan provides for national paid leave, reduction in childcare costs, and free prekindergarten and community college. With free childcare costs, mothers can afford to find employment. Increasing taxes for the wealthy and big businesses also provides lead-free water, transit, education, and other infrastructure as well as decent jobs. Republicans know that Biden’s success means their possible failure in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Biden’s economy will have its best year since 1984 after the first quarter indicated an annual increase of six percent or possibly higher by the end of the year. DDT gained no new jobs during his full four years; Biden added 1.3 million jobs since the election. DDT’s sole economic metric was the stock market: the Dow Jones has gone up almost 17 percent since Biden’s presidency was announced on November 7, 2020, greater than DDT’s 10.5 percent gain in the same time period four years ago.

Republicans spread the same doom and gloom after the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. John Kasich, a former GOP congressman and Ohio governor, said about Clinton’s agenda:

“This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I’d have to become a Democrat.”

Clinton’s plan worked, but Kasich stayed a Republican. Republicans predicted George W. Bush’s tax cuts would bring historic economic gains; his second term ended with the worst recession in many decades. Republicans predicted disaster for President Obama’s Recovery Act; Indiana’s Mike Pence claimed in 2009, it “won’t work to put Americans back to work.” He continued:

“It won’t create jobs. The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt. It will probably do more harm than good.”

President Obama’s plan brought the U.S. out of the Great Recession, rescued jobs, and introduced a decade of sustained growth.

In 2017, Republicans and DDT lost big when their regressive tax plan failed to improve private-sector hiring, bring higher wages, and greatly increase business investments. Corporations used financial gains from tax cuts to buy stocks in their companies, purchase other companies, fire employees, and stash money overseas. Lack of revenue from less consumer spending by lower- and middle-class people couldn’t replace losses from the tax cuts, and business investment abruptly dropped.

Why Republican presidents’ economies fail:

Republican presidents are slow to respond to recessions and other crises.

Democratic presidents are more pragmatic and listen to evidence about deficit reduction and government support.

Republican presidents believe only in tax cuts for the wealthy that do nothing for economic growth.

According to Neil Barron in the conservative Hill, Biden’s ARPA reverses 30 years of failed trickle-down economics widening income and wealth inequality to trickle-up economics. It creates demand for products and services to generate economic growth by increasing spending ability for consumers who will spend money. Biden’s “jobs” (aka infrastructure) plan invests in families, education, clean water and energy, housing, healthcare, etc. The strategy follows economic success after World War II when the top tax rate was 70 to 90 percent. Funding the world’s biggest middle class, investment went not only to the GOP mandate of roads and bridges but also to education, health, and research. The 1950s brought three of the four biggest decreases in U.S. unemployment and two years of the nation’s fastest economic growth—under a Republican president.

For the last half century, the GOP trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy brought negative or flat economic growth, higher unemployment, and stifled consumption by moving income from consumers to rich savers. In over a half century, Republicans contributed more to federal deficits: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush raised the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion (almost double today with inflation), but Democrat Bill Clinton cut it to zero. George W. Bush took the deficit back to $1.2 billion with tax cuts and war; Democrat Barack Obama rescued the nation from the Great Recession and halved the deficit to $600 billion before DDT ran it up to $1 trillion—before COVID-19.

Barron writes:

“Spending $100 billion [in infrastructure] would add roughly 1 million full-time American jobs. And each $100 invested in infrastructure would boost productivity and private sector output by $13 to $17, generating more wage growth and economic benefits across more income classes. Every dollar invested in infrastructure under the AJP is expected to return $1.50, which is among the highest rates of return for federal government spending. And by 2024, the AJP would grow GDP by 3.8 percent and add 13.5 million jobs, compared with just 2.2 percent GDP growth and 11.4 million jobs if it doesn’t become law.”

Graham complains about “destabilizing,” but evidence shows a different picture. In the three months since Biden’s inauguration, fewer households say they can’t pay their rent and don’t have enough to eat in the past week. In December, 1 in 7 adults reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat; now that number is 1 in 11—the lowest percentage since April 2020 when the survey began.

In Biden’s first three months, 200 million doses of vaccines were administered although a large number of Republicans, including 47 percent of white males, refuse to be vaccinated. The United States is experiencing a greater feeling of optimism although the wealthy are still doing better. The economy may largely depend on the pandemic: GOP counties and states may suffer the most if Republicans continue to refuse vaccinations. Most Southern states, like tourism-dependent North Carolina, lag behind the national average in vaccinations.

Bloomberg’s positive view of Biden’s economic dynamism comes from companies’ readiness to increase efficiency and employees ready to return to work. The pandemic changed business practices—stronger productivity with increased online marketing and automation. In the last quarter of 2020, businesses increased spending on equipment by 25.4 percent after reducing this spending for over a year. For two decades, the GDP increased at two percent average, lower than 3.3 percent than the previous two decades. A faster growth in the future will help the government’s debt because of increased revenue.

A major difference between Biden’s and DDT’s economic strategies is DDT’s reliance on the Federal Reserve. In the past decade, Congress counted on the Fed’s cheap-money policies for economic health, causing more wealth inequality: the stock market kept rising, but people couldn’t find jobs. Richer people worked from home, but poorer people couldn’t find jobs. Fifty million people in the world moved from middle- to lower-class. With GOP presidents, Republicans gave some support for the poor to be re-elected and then declared austerity with Democratic presidents.

In 2010, GOP lawmakers called for cuts before the economy healed. With interest rates almost at bottom, the Fed made large-scale bond purchases, hoping to save the economy. The slow solution finally dropping the unemployment rate after a decade to a half-century low. In 2007, the bottom half of the population had 2.1 percent of U.S. assets, and the top one percent had 29.7 percent. By 2020, the bottom half dropped to 1.8 percent while the top one percent owned 31 percent of the wealth. The pandemic made the situation worse.  

April 24, 2021

 Troubles for Trump—and His Minions

(more…)

April 23, 2021

Biden Changes View of Climate Change

Yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and the Muldrow Glacier is surging down Denali, Alaska’s highest mountain, at 50 to 100 times faster than a normal rate for the past 60 years. Only a few mountain glaciers ever surge because they grow at the top areas and diminish at the bottom. With climate change, glaciers melt faster, keeping ice from accumulating as melting occurs farther upslope. These glaciers just melt away. Yet in some parts of the world, climate change increases the risk of surging if rainfall increase creates a more slippery ground. Another Alaska Glacier collapsed in both 2013 and 2015 from extremely warm temperatures. Mountain glaciers have lost at least six trillion tons of ice in fewer than three decades.

Four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) dumped the U.S. participation in the Paris climate agreement as the vast majority of countries of the world developed plans to reverse climate change. Although the federal government refused to take any action, many U.S. cities and other municipalities continued the work of the Paris deal. Elected as president last November, Joe Biden promised to rejoin the agreement with the statement, “America is back!” He honored the 2021 Earth Day theme, “Restore Our Earth,” by calling together 40 world leaders in a virtual summit with a major goal of cutting back greenhouse gas emissions. Biden topped them by pledging the U.S. would reduce the 2005 levels by 50 to 52 percent by 2030. Even that goal may fall short of keeping the temperature down.

Although conservatives complain that China is much worse than the U.S. in causing climate change, the U.S. is the biggest emitter of carbon and second only to China, with a population four times that of the U.S., in emitting greenhouse gases. The next deadline for U.S. movement to make plans for turning around climate change is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, scheduled in Glasgow a year after Biden’s election.

Biden’s speech focused on jobs in transforming the nation’s economy toward clean energy and electric vehicles, but he needs congressional help to meet his goal. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is looking toward the private sector to help solve the problem of improving climate change with the economy, and many huge fossil fuel companies have quietly invested in clean energy because they see the writing on the wall. Renewable energy costs are now cheaper than fossil fuels.

Supporters of the coal industry are griping about Biden’s target. The 191 plants still operating, down from the beginning of DDT’s four-year term, may be almost gone by 2030. Fifty coal plants closed during DDT’s first two years, and the pandemic wiped out another 50. Even the Coal Mine Workers representing coal miners support Biden’s infrastructure package with its clean energy standard.

Last year, the increase of tropical deforestation of 12 percent from 2019 doubled the annual tailpipe emissions of cars in the U.S. a well as helping cause the pandemic. A new coalition plans to pay $1 billion to countries preventing this deforestation.

Republicans in the U.S. have fought to continue climate change by denying science. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has produced a video about the Energy Innovation Agenda, “dozens of bills and solutions” in opposition to Biden’s agenda. Part of their program is simply planting more trees and capturing carbon while opposing the Paris climate agreement. With 40 other Republicans, McCarthy plans to keep fossil fuels as the GOP focus of U.S. economy.

Biden’s summit may oppose coal, but it waffles about natural gas, a problem with methane production trapping heat in the atmosphere. His vague fact sheet doesn’t clarify how the U.S. will reduce “methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and other potent short-lived climate pollutants.”

Foreign leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Ursula von Leyden, alienated by DDT, warmly welcomed Biden as he works to move the U.S. back into international leadership. Biden’s steps to reverse DDT’s actions damaging the climate and environment include revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit and declare moratoria on new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. He also touts his infrastructure plan to make electric vehicle more affordable, incentivize electric vehicle charging stations, retrofit buildings, replace lead pipes, and modernize the nation’s electrical grid.

Sad to say, Democrats have always been in the forefront of trying to save the earth while conservatives have consistently blocked the effort. Wisconsin’s new Democratic senator Gaylord Nelson began his Washington career in 1963 energized by Rachel Carson’s bestselling book Silent Spring that addressed the disastrous effect of pesticide use. President John F. Kennedy was receptive to Nelson’s proposal of a “conversation tour,” part of his eleven-state trip in five days, culminating with his assassination on November 22, 1963, but largely ignored environmental issues.

Seeing the 1969 oil spill aftermath in California, Nelson accelerated his push to raise environmental awareness and gained supporters for the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, marked by rallies and reflections. Nelson focused on young activists, especially at colleges, for organizers and thousands of field volunteers. A graduate student, Denys Hayes, helped coordinate speeches, concerts, demonstrations, fundraisers, nature walks—even mock trials for polluting objects such as an old Chevrolet executed by a sledgehammer. The car did live on in an art class. In New York City, 22,000 people in Union Square heard Paul Newman and Mayor John Lindsay. Hayes’ effort expanded Earth Day to 180 countries and continues to be a leader in environmental and energy policies. 

Conservative groups such as the John Birch Society claimed Earth Day honored the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin’s birth. Progressives complained the day distracted from protests against the Vietnam War by concentrating on “litterbugs.” Others criticized corporations with bad environmental records that could appear righteous once a year.

Yet Earth Day concerns led to environmental legislative reform. Within a year, 25 percent of the public agreed protection of the environment was an important goal, compared to almost no one two years earlier. By the end of 1970, President Richard Nixon approved the Environmental Protection Agency. New legislation included the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act—all laws that DDT tried to erase.

In 1990, 200 million people in 141 nations were involved in Earth Day; ten years later, the emerging Clean Energy movement spread to 184 countries and 5,000 environmental organizations. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Gabon (Africa) experienced a traveling drum chain. Over one billion people participated in Earth Day activities. In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Astronaut Stuart Roosa had taken hundreds of tree seeds—loblolly pine, sycamore, sweetgum, redwood, Douglas fir, etc.—on the Apollo 14 moon mission that orbited the moon 34 times in the Kitty Hawk. Although the containers broke open, most of the seeds were successfully planted and cultivated around national monuments as well as other sites around the globe. In 2009, NASA planted a second generation “moon” sycamore on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum and American Forests in Washington, D.C.  

This morning, I admired the bees on my blueberries. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen honey bees in our yard—perhaps not since I watched a new neighbor spraying Roundup on his yard. With all the publicity about cancer, he’s slowly changed his patterns, first no longer burning his steaks outside with the smell wafting over the shrubs and then no longer using chemical pesticides on his lawn.

Bees are vital to our food supply: they pollinate over a third of the food supply and 90 percent of wild plants. In addition, bees pollinate over 16 percent of flowering plant species and produce over $130 million worth of raw honey each year. Since 1990, over 25 percent of managed honeybees in the U.S. have disappeared. Global warming may affect pathogens such as viruses and fungi destroying bee colonies. Atmospheric radiation from cell phones and wireless communication towers can adversely affect bees.

Massachusetts has become the first state to restrict pesticides—neonicotinoids—killing bees and other pollinators by removing them from retail shelves. These products get into every cell of the plant, into the soil, into the water supply, and into the pollen and nectar that bees eat. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t go into effect for another 15 months, but it’s a start without DDT.

The impetus for Silent Spring is the silence caused by the disappearance of birds because their food supply, insects, is killed by pesticides. With laws preventing pesticides and work to reverse climate change, the world can continue to hear singing birds, grow food and flowers, stop cities from flooding because of melting glaciers, and … and… 

April 18, 2021

Sunday: Religious Numbers Drop, Court Gives Christianity Preference

On Sunday, fewer people than ever are going to a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious gathering. Pew Research reports that the share of religiously unaffiliated people in the U.S. has been growing across all demographic groups. The “nones”—those who self-identify as atheists, agnostics, or religion as “nothing in particular”—have become 23 percent of the population, almost 50 percent up from 2007 when 16 percent of people were “nones.” At the same time, the number of “Christians” have dropped from 78 percent to 71 percent.

More Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996) self-identify as “nones,” and the median age of unaffiliated adults is currently 36, down from 38 in 2007 and younger than the 46 years of media age of adults in the U.S. More in the older generations, however, are also becoming unaffiliated: 17 percent of Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are now unaffiliated, compared to 14 percent in 2007.

Of people raised as Christian or another faith, 18 percent now have no religious affiliation, compared to the roughly half of the 9 percent of U.S. adults raised without any affiliation now who identify with a religion, mostly Christianity. More men than women are “nones,” but education, race and ethnicity, and income make no difference. Nearly two-thirds of the seven percent of atheists and agnostics are men who are more educated and more White than the general population.

Two years ago, then-VP Mike Pence announced the nation’s religiosity “has remained remarkably consistent.” Yet a Gallup poll reinforced the Pew Research in its finding that only 47 percent belonged to a congregation in 2020, down from 70 percent in 2000. The percentage of people who think religion is important dropped to 48 percent with the number of people regularly attending worship services even lower.

While the general population becomes less religious, the Supreme Court, because of appointments by Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) and confirmations by GOP senators, gives preference to Christians. Late Friday night, April 9, 2021, in a “shadow docket,” justices made a 5-4 decision in a case not on the docket and had no oral argument. The Tansom v. Newsom ruling determined that religious groups can gather in homes although other groups are still banned from this practice.

With no signature, the ruling changed the constitutional view of “religious liberty that now permits religious exemptions to situations not discriminating against religion. The court’s new rule, “most favored nation” permits any secular exemption to a law permitting a claim for a religious exemption. The decision stated required permission to gather for Bible study just as they would to get haircuts, food, or pedicures. Any time a government grants any exemption to a law for any reason, it has to grant the same exemption to religion—which in the U.S. typically means Christianity.

These conservative justices have gone far beyond the belief of Justice Antonin Scalia, formerly the most conservative judge of the modern era, when he said this type of ruling should be done “sparingly, and only in the most critical and exigent circumstances,” where “the legal rights at issue are indisputably clear.” The new ruling doesn’t fit these criteria because the high court gave a different meaning to the scope and applicability of the free exercise clause. With no explanation for the court’s decision, five justices are trying to bind lower courts to their personal opinion. The current Supreme Court has used its emergency injunctions seven times, all of them in COVID-19 cases. Before last November, the court had not done so for five years.

DDT used emergency relief from the high court 41 times, winning 28 of those appeals. In contrast, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama together went to the court for this relief only eight times in 16 years. Almost all DDT’s cases requested “stays” pending appeals against a lower court ruling, but the current support for a Christian group froze a government policy losing in the lower courts pending appeal. Scalia pointed out that an injunction “grants judicial intervention that has been withheld by lower courts,” unlike a stay, a short-term delay of a proceeding.

This injunction overrides the lower courts instead of the justices’ position from the past of “a court of review, not first view” as an “appellate tribunal.” The action reverses the function of the Supreme Court and exceeds the justices’ statutory authority to issue such relief—for the seventh time since October. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent, the majority relied only on “separate opinions and unreasoned orders” to make a new constitutional rule. Conservative justices “using procedural tools meant to help them control their docket to make significant substantive changes in the law, in defiance not only of their own standards for such relief, but of fundamental principles of judicial decision making,” wrote legal expert Stephen I. Vladeck.

Since the new term began last October, the court has used shadow dockets at least 20 times to make secret rulings with no arguments and no identification of how each justice ruled. The new justices, in control of making law over legislatures and lower courts, remove transparency from the process of law.

The recent ruling agrees with an earlier decision that religion should allow people to infect others with COVID-19 by opening church services in California while other public activities are closed. Last December, SCOTUS also put religion over public health by siding with religious groups in Colorado and New Jersey. At that time, the U.S. had almost 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 and 16.5 million infections.

Over five years ago, Jerry Falwell Jr, then president of Liberty University, endorsed DDT for president which gave him the evangelical vote in 2016. The past few years have not been good for Falwell. After a series of failed to gain traction, the photo of him and his wife’s pregnant assistant in an inappropriate pose on a boat was the tipping point. He lost his leadership position at the university but claimed a resurrection comeback on Good Friday with his belief the “community still embraces him.” Denied a contracted $10.5 million severance package, Falwell, worth over $100 million, told the media the dispute was resolved.

Good Friday passed, and Liberty is now suing Falwell for over $40 million in damages, alleging breach of contract and fiduciary duty. The lawsuit states Falwell withheld “scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees, while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses,” according to journalist Ruth Graham. Some of the scandal included an on-going three-some among himself, his wife, and a former pool boy. (More details about Falwell’s scandals.) 

Employees have been ordered to not communicate with either Falwell or his wife Becki Falwell other than any concerns about their daughter, a student. The university also wants Falwell to return its electronic equipment with confidential information. Their oldest son, Trey Falwell was also forced from his vice-presidency at Liberty, while Jerry Falwell Jr’s brother Jonathan Falwell has taken a bigger role at the school.

Also gone from Liberty University is the name for its political “think tank,” Falkirk Center, named after Falwell and DDT’s former pet, Charlie Kirk. Over 400 Liberty students and recent graduates signed a petition to close down the group because the Center “is trying to undo Liberty’s mission.” They rejected the idea they are “people who were educated to become champions for Trump and Western Civilization in the ‘cultural battlefield.’” They also object to the “fellows” using the Center as a “gateway for … people who claim Christ’s name because it is convenient for their personal or political gain.” The Falkirk Center sank $50,000 into political ads for DDT and other GOP candidates before the election.

The Center did not renew Charlie Kirk as a fellow, and he plans to start his own group called Turning Point Faith. Falkirk is now Standing for Freedom Center but kept its political philosophy and some of its questionable “fellows,” such as conservative commentator Eric Metaxas who punched an unarmed anti-DDT protester in the back of his head last year and continues to spread conspiracy theories about voter fraud.  

Liberty’s direction is shown by two new fellows, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, both wannabe presidential candidates—Huckabee in the past and Pompeo in 2024. Pompeo, claiming he wants “religious freedom, created many federal groups promoting evangelical Christianity around the world including one educating officials that the Bible mandates them to support back right-wing social, economic, environmental, and criminal justice policies. When in Congress, Pompeo worked with anti-Muslim activists to promote Christian nationalism. Pope Francis denied an audience with Pompeo because of his use of “religious freedom” for political gain.

Pompeo’s background as Secretary of State illustrates his lack of ethics. The Inspector General reported Pompeo violated government federal ethics rules in using the agency’s resources by asking its employees to carry out personal tasks over 100 times, as did Pompeo’s wife, Susan. Pompeo said they were just things friends did for friends—like working all weekend “to envelope, address, and mail personal Christmas cards for the Pompeos” with no compensation.

Just a few reasons that the number of religiously unaffiliated grows every year.

 

April 17, 2021

Systemic Racism Leads to Explosions

Last week, the trial defense for the police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis rested after two days of their lies about the cause of Floyd’s death last summer—including the false accusation of carbon monoxide from car exhaust, thrown out of court.

Both prosecution medical experts testified the death came from lack of oxygen caused by nine minutes and 29 seconds of the officer pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck exacerbated by the officer’s refusal to permit any attempt at resuscitation. Law enforcement officials testified that the policeman who killed Floyd used excessive force and did not comply with his training.

Closing arguments start Monday before the jury is sequestered to make its decision.

According to the autopsy, Floyd had heart disease and illicit drugs in his system. Testifying for the defense, David Fowler, facing a lawsuit in his home state, said he would not have categorized Floyd’s death a homicide but admitted under cross-examination that Floyd should have received immediate medical attention, blocked by the police officer, to reverse any cardiac arrest.

The defense claimed no force because of no bruising, but prosecution testimony stated bruising wasn’t necessary to indicate loss of oxygen. Cardiologist Jonathan Rich said “the position that he was subjected to” meant his heart “did not have enough oxygen.” Pulmonologist Martin Tobin testified that a perfectly healthy person could have pulmonary failure under this type of physical restraint. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the police officer’s restraint “is not part of our training” and “in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy,” and a Minneapolis police lieutenant called it “totally unnecessary.” Other people testifying for the prosecution supported these statements.

The police officer refused to testify at the trial, claiming Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself. Last year he offered to plead guilty to third-degree murder with a ten-year prison sentence before then-Attorney General William Barr personally stopped the deal. This plea would have blocked federal charges, including civil rights, and the rapid resolution would have avoided the year-long protests about the murder. 

The officer’s conviction of second-degree murder, with a sentence of 40 years in prison, requires the finding that he caused Floyd’s death “while committing or attempting to commit a felony offence,” meaning assault. The lesser charge of third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, requires the finding that he committed an “act eminently dangerous to others … without regard for human life.” Although the judge blocked the third-degree murder charge, an appeal from the prosecution to overturn that decision succeeded because of a greater chance for conviction with a jury decision he showed disregard for Floyd’s safety. A second-degree manslaughter conviction with ten years in prison would come from the finding that the officer took “an unreasonable risk” that endangered Floyd’s life.

Three other police officers who stood and watched the murder will be tried together later this year for charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The Army has now disciplined soldiers in the D.C. National Guard for hovering only 55 feet over protesters’ heads to frighten and scatter the crowds. Then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy falsely claimed helicopters were to monitor crowd movements. One crew member said the mission was to “be loud … fly low over the crowds.” Ryan said then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) “fully vetted” the mission. Four of the five helicopters carried painted red crosses to identity them as medical transports; their use for non-medical mission without specific approval violates Army regulations, which they did not obtain. One reporter recounted pulling shards of glass from her hair spread by the helicopters. 

Emails obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted “covert surveillance” on protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Albuquerque. DEA agents were assigned to “infiltrate” protests, monitor social media monitoring, and perform aerial surveillance. The DOJ authorized these DEA activities.

Protests for almost a year after Floyd’s murder by a police officer on May 25, 2020, focus on the law enforcement killings of black people for small offenses. Almost 800 people, almost all White, broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to stop the legal counting of electoral votes for the president of the United States. They beat up law enforcement officers, rifled through classified documents, vandalized the building, and threatened the lives of hundreds of people including members of Congress and the vice president of the United States. No one was arrested that day, and conservative judges and lawmakers are still trying to protect these criminals.

George Floyd paid with his life for trying to pass a $20 counterfeit bill—perhaps unintentionally. Fewer than seven years ago, Eric Garner was also choked to death for suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. A police officer put him into a chokehold after he tried to pull away from two of them. The unindicted killer kept his job in law enforcement for another five years. Both Black men, George Floyd and Eric Garner, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” until they lost consciousness.

Since Floyd’s trial started on March 8, 2021, law enforcement has continued killing Black males, often with little provocation:

Chicago: A police officer chased a 13-year-old in an alley and told him to put his hands up. The boy started to comply, and the officer shot him dead.

Minnesota: Ten miles away from Floyd’s murder trial, in Brooklyn Center, a police officer shot a 20-year-old Black man dead when he tried tog et back into his car after a stop for expired license plates and an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror; she said she meant to use a taser.

Knoxville (TN): A police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old Black teenager in a school bathroom after reports that the boy had a gun. The first report stated that the teen had shot the school resource officer, but he was critically wounded by the officer who killed the student.

Daly City (CA): Police shot and killed a 44-year-old Black man sitting in his pickup truck with a flat tire because they claimed he had a gun on his lap. It was a BB gun. 

Almost all the victims of 64 fatal encounters with law enforcement within the past three weeks are are male, Black or Latino. Many of all the killings have no video evidence, unlike the death of George Floyd and the boy in Chicago. Fortunately, the video of the horrific traffic stop of an Army medic near Norfolk (VA) in the small town of Windsor has gone viral after he filed a federal lawsuit against the abusive police officers. The police officers threatened and attacked Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, because he had temporary license plates on his brand-new car. When he was ordered out of the car, he said he was afraid to get out. One of the policeman said, “You should be.” Journalists wrote, “Nazario was pepper-sprayed, struck in the knees to force him to the ground and handcuffed. No charges were ever filed.” Police threatened to destroy Nazario’s military career if he talked about the traffic stop. Nazario is related to Eric Garner and called him “uncle.”

Veterans of color describe the racist abuse they have suffered. 

David Gray’s commentary on the difference between Black and White:  

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).

After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor).

“These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”

The United States is a tinderbox, waiting for the outcome of George Floyd’s trial. Without justice, the Black Lives Matter movement will blow up; with justice, conservatives, fueled by the hateful rhetoric from Fox and other far-right media, will come out in full Ku Klux Klan force. Summer will be very long.

April 15, 2021

Biden’s Foreign Policy, Domestic Terrorism

While Republicans complain about President Joe Biden’s inaction and lack of lying bombast exhibited by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Biden is quietly strengthening U.S. foreign policy.

Today Biden sanctioned 40 Russian groups and individuals for the Russian major cyber espionage operation, operations to elect DDT in the past two presidential elections, the massive Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border, and Russia’s ongoing occupation and “severe human rights abuses” in Crimea. He blocked U.S. financial institutions from purchasing bonds from Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund, and Ministry of Finance after June 14 and from lending money to these institutions. Biden also expelled ten people from Washington’s Russian diplomatic mission and considers sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt. He now proposes a summit where the U.S. and Russia can discuss these problems.

Republicans yell and whine about election fraud, but reports show DDT’s 2016 campaign manager in frequent, covert contact with a Chinese intelligence officer, once his business associate. Paul Manafort passed internal polling data to the operative who asked him to support a proposal to allow Chinese success in the South China Sea territorial disputes. Biden sanctioned the operative Konstantin Kilimnik, identified as a “Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf.” Manafort promoted the lie, still pushed by GOP congressional members, that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on DDT’s behalf. The FBI has a reward of $250,000 for Kilimnik’s arrest. DDT pardoned Manafort and freed him from prison. 

Kilimnik’s information from Manafort went through a secret pipeline, perhaps used throughout DDT’s four-year term, directly to Russian intelligence to defeat Hillary Clinton. A Senate Intelligence Committee report, endorsed by Republicans, marked him a “grave counterintelligence threat.” Secretary of State Antony echoed the Senate report by repeating the U.S. intelligence report that Russia “presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States.”

This week, Biden also gave September 11, 2021, as the deadline for removing the last 2,500 U.S. military members from Afghanistan. He selected the 20th anniversary of the foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil killing 3,000 people which led George W. Bush to start the “military mission” in the Middle East costing U.S. taxpayers almost $7 trillion. Biden said he will not pass the war to a fifth president and is following DDT’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops.

Today Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed Biden’s announcement with a surprise visit to Afghan leaders in Kabul and repeated the U.S. commitment to helping their government. He emphasized counter-terrorism cooperation and “protecting the rights of women and girls,” according to a department announcement.

Biden has also sent an unofficial delegation to Taiwan as “an important signal about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy,” according to an official. Last week, the USS John S. McCain went through the Taiwan Strait, and the carrier Theodore Roosevelt went to the South China Sea for “routine operations.” China typically protests the U.S. being in those international waters, especially with its support for Taiwan.

Biden plans to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, hoping for a joint statement supporting Taiwan and discussing China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang and influence over Hong Kong. Japan and the U.S. have not had a joint statement about Taiwan for over 50 years. The meeting prefaces one in May with Biden and South Korea’s President Moon Jae about managing China’s rising power and that of North Korea with the help of the Quad—Australia, India, Japan, and North Korea.

A U.S. negotiating team in Vienna led by Robert Malley is working with Iran representatives to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. Initially, they are working on the over 700 sanctions imposed by DDT to permanently destroy the deal. In efforts to scuttle any deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed pleasure when opposing Israelis reportedly bombed an Iranian nuclear facility. If Biden succeeds in redeeming the agreement, he plans to “expand and strengthen” the pact by covering Iran’s militant activities and missile program to obtain support from congressional opposition. Iran may hold off until after their elections in June.

Today, Inspector General Michael Bolton testified before the House Administration Committee about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and argued for a campus security overhaul. He said a deputy assistant chief of police told officers not to use any weapons including stingballs and 40mm launchers, weapons that could have helped them protect the Capitol. Thus far, one task force and over one-half dozen congressional committees have started investigations into why law enforcement failed to prevent the insurrection when hundreds of DDT’s supporters invaded and vandalized the Capitol building to stop the certification of Biden as the legal president.

Bolton, who may have the most complete examination of problems permitting the Capitol Police to be overrun by “deficiencies,” will continue the probe for several more months. He has already provided Congress with two interim reports about the lack of security clearances, personnel, equipment, and training to respond to these attacks. Calling for a “cultural change,” Bolton said law enforcement at the Capitol must move from the “traditional posture of a police department” to “a protection agency” focusing on preventing events like the January 6 riot. Preparation of a supplemental spending package for reforms of campus security will also use an evaluation from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré requested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA), in addition to Bolton’s recommendation to invest funding in training. That activity would include gathering, analyzing, and assessing intelligence for responses to future threats.

Following TheDonald.win before the Capitol attack would have made the high danger of violence on January 6 obvious. Participants covered ways to bring guns into D.C., quantity of ammunition, legal weapons such as stun guns and small knives, methods of attacking police officers with flagpoles and other objects, the best type of zip ties to use on congressional members certifying Biden’s election, and discussions of building the most effective gallows for use on disloyal congressional members according to the attackers. “Camarokirk” preferred a guillotine because it’s “more scary.” A dissenter brought up the problem of how “to get that big blade into town,” and the gallows the insurrectionists actually built, intended for VP Mike Pence, cost only $200. Many of the violent ideas on the website came to fruition on January 6 with right-wing domestic terrorists disrupting the presidential vote certification.

DDT encouraged the violence as shown by this tweet on December 19: 

 “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Website users traded maps, travel information, money, hotel recommendations, and organizations of cross-country caravans. Also available on the website were diagrams of the tunnel systems below the Capitol complex and ways of creating a “wall of death” by pushing the mob forward, forcing police to give up their positions.

A recent report shows that DDT, who told his conservative terrorist Proud Boys to “stand by” in his first presidential debate with Biden, is completely wrong in his obsession about the “left-wing problem” of domestic terrorism. Asked at the debate about white supremacists and fringe militia groups, he saw them as political allies and then pushed the far-left menace as being the danger. According to information from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the new highs of domestic terrorism events are chiefly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim, and anti-government extremists on the far right. The surge is the worst since the 1990s. The WaPo reported:

“Since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities, the data shows. At the same time, attacks and plots ascribed to far-left views accounted for 66 incidents leading to 19 deaths…. More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.”

The most common targets in these far-right events are mosques, synagogues, Black churches, abortion clinics, and government buildings, which have been “threatened, burned, bombed and hit with gunfire over the past six years.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) announced his panel would do a “significant dive” into domestic anti-government extremists, including radicalized groups’ possible connections to foreign allies. Earlier, Biden officials announced an overhaul of the government treatment of domestic terrorism with a “comprehensive threat assessment” by intelligence agencies. Former DHS officials from both parties agreed DDT’s failure to focus on “the rise of domestic threats” was among the agency’s problems. According to the NBC News report, these officials agreed:

“[I]t was the four years of inadequately monitoring and communicating the rising threat of right-wing domestic extremists that ultimately led to DHS’ failure to prevent [the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol].”

The New York Times reported that DDT’s administration “diverted” federal law enforcement and domestic security agencies, pressuring officials to “uncover a left-wing extremist criminal conspiracy that never materialized,” even as “the threat from the far right was building ominously.” It added that the FBI, “in particular, had increasingly expressed concern about the threat from white supremacists, long the top domestic terrorism threat, and well-organized far-right extremist groups that had allied themselves with the president.” DDT did not find these issues at all concerning. 

Time to “Build Back Better.”

April 10, 2021

DDT Gathers Faithful As Insurrection Reports Continue

With hundreds of his faithful followers gathering at Mar-a-Lago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is playing king for the weekend while reaping the financial benefits at his club, struggling since Joe Biden became president 81 days ago. DDT headlines the closed-door event to raise millions for the GOP in the luxury hotel Four Seasons four miles from DDT’s Florida estate, the location for his own fundraising. Participants can hear more lying rants about a “stolen” election wannabes such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton wait for DDT to give up. He also made the event a feeding frenzy against absent Republicans such as former VP Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Elaine Chao.

Fundraising comes at the end of a week when the media described DDT’s scams to rip off poor constituents. His campaign automatically took regular sums of money from donors, many of them poor, unless the victims rescinded this process after reading through the fine print. Outcries caused the campaign to return $122 million—11 percent of his take last fall—to hundreds of thousands of people who discovered they were duped. Many more not be aware of the their losses. For months DDT used the money interest-free.

Instead of backing down, the site now threatens people with being “reported” to DDT as “defectors” if they don’t donate. The NRCC is participating in DDT’s scamming the Republicans through texting a ten-minute chance to join DDT’s “new social media site”—which doesn’t exist—and then using a default box to double their pledge amount and make it recurring.  DDT’s campaign also sent out over 500 fundraising requests since his election. 

DDT isn’t the only GOP scammer. WinRed, the for-profit collecting a percentage of the donations, is now on the websites of GOP committees and congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and McConnell with the same pre-checked boxes at the end of text-heavy messages. The GOP website is based on ActBlue, a non-profit website where Democrats can donate to candidates.

The relationship between DDT and the RNC became tense last month when his PAC told other Republican groups to “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”

Competing with DDT’s event at another of his Florida properties, the Doral golf resort in Miami, is a conference hosted by Women in America First, a group leading the D.C. rally contributing to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Notable among guests are such GOP rejects as Rep, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), stripped of all her committee assignments only weeks after being sworn in, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), investigated for several federal charges including sex-trafficking. Gaetz gave the keynote speech.

As DDT is back to doing what he prefers—giving speeches and taking money–documents show how he was MIA on January 6 as his crowd attacked the U.S. Capitol. The media politely called DDT “disengaged” while insurrectionists beat up police and vandalized the U.S. legislative headquarters. He failed to stop the attacks for hours after VP Mike Pence, his life threatened by DDT’s followers, ordered acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to “clear the Capitol” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made desperate pleas to military leaders for the deployment of the National Guard.

The Pentagon and DDT wanted to avoid a military presence after ongoing fiascos during the Black Lives movement protests, including the use of helicopters over D.C. attempting to intimidate crowds. The Pentagon didn’t plan to notify Miller until the protesters numbered more than 20,000 at the Ellipse, but participants who went to the Capitol became immediately violent, breaking into the building and assaulting police officers in their way.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, now replaced, called the National Guard commanding general William Walker for help at 1:49 pm and repeated his request 20 minutes later. Meanwhile, senators ran from the chamber, and rioters went through their desks while more insurrectionists broke through more Capitol entrances to the House chamber. The troops weren’t activated for at least 75 minutes after the first panicky telephone call from Sund, and they still had to make their way from Andrews to the D.C. Armory before they went to the Capitol. Executing a plan took another two hours, but Pentagon security forces were guarding homes of defense leaders.

Two hours and 28 minutes after the first call, DDT finally tweeted his followers to “go home and go in peace.” Walker didn’t have approval to send the Guard to the Capitol for another 13 minutes. Almost three hours after their first call, Pelosi and Schumer again called Milley and the Pentagon leadership for help. The first contingent of 155 Guard members didn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. The Capitol wasn’t declared safe for over six hours after the Pentagon was told about the insurrection.

Thus far, 377 people have been charged for the Capitol insurrection. Almost 20 percent of them are connected to the military, either currently or in the past, many with dishonorable discharges. A new study of these arrested 377 people by Robert Pape, a specialist in security threats, examines demographics and county characteristics from their homes in 250 counties in 44 states. Some findings about the majority:

  • Most are older and more professional than right-wing protesters from the past.
  • They typically have no ties to current right-wing groups.
  • They are 95 percent White and 85 percent male.
  • Many live near or among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties, 52 percent of them Biden comfortably won.
  • “Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.”

Another report reveals law enforcement at the Capitol had expired ammunition, ineffective shields, and warnings from two weeks earlier about a map of the complex’s underground tunnels posted two weeks earlier on a pro-DDT website.  Capitol Police failed to establish standard operating procedures for the Civil Disturbance Unit and had fewer officers at the Capitol day than previously listed. Leadership ordered officers not to use all of its less-lethal options and “operated at a decreased level of readiness.” The intelligence division didn’t require security clearances and had no training program for all employees.

A riot defendant is exchanging a plea for testimony against the far-right extremist Proud Boys, one of the “paramilitary” groups attacking the Capitol.  About two dozen insurrectionists connected with the Proud Boys have been charged with federal crimes. Another rioter is flipping against the Oath Keepers, another extremist group.

After their December attack on a Black church in D.C., the Proud Boys may be short on resources because of a lawsuit for committing acts of terror. The group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, has refused to respond, leaving the church close to a default win. Although Tarrio says the group is not a legal entity, leaders are tied to a network of LLCs in Florida and other places, crowdfunding at a Christian site, and at least one online store selling merchandise, some of it on behalf of DDT’s friend Roger Stone.

Documents indicate the violence at the Capitol was orchestrated before January 6 by several groups including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and QAnon. Their goal was to stop the counting of the electoral college votes. Deputy to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and two other members guarding Stone were indicted after the discovery of 19 phone calls over three hours during the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Calls indicated coordination of storming the Capitol, likely by Rhodes, along with a previously organized strategy. The total of indicted Oath Keepers for the event is now 12.

DDT escaped conviction at his impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, but an investigation of his campaign shows his aides took dark money from campaign shell companies to subsidize the rallies—and riots. Women for America First, supposedly separate from DDT’s campaign, listed its staff members on a permit for the January 6 rally. They were directly paid by DDT’s 2020 campaign, and donations to DDT shelled out over $2.7 million to people and groups paying for the rally, one of them Megan Powers who received $290,000 for the campaign’s director of operations.

Fox network’s Tucker Carlson is spreading the fear of the “Great Replacement,” a theory believed by DDT’s supporters. White nationalists purport that mass migrations and low White birthrates supposedly replace White voters, perhaps why the insurrectionists come from counties with fast-increasing non-White populations. DDT spread the same fear almost four years ago by praising neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville (VA) and chanted “Jews will not replace us” before they beat up their protesters.   

Fox network, promoting the “replacement theory” opposing immigrants is run by immigrants: founder and co-chair Rupert Murdoch, born in Australia and living in the UK and the U.S.; co-chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch, born in London and living in Australia; chief legal and policy officer Viet Dinh, Vietnamese refugee born in Ho Chi Minh City; lead outside director Jacques Nasser, born in Lebanon and grew up in Australia; and Fox director Anne Dias-Griffin, born and educated in France. And Tucker Carlson’s mother was a Lombardi, Italian people who were lynched by white supremacists in the South during the early 20th century. He has replaced a “White” voter.

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