Nel's New Day

June 29, 2021

The Barr Show Dominates Media 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six months later, he said:

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

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

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

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

Barr: “Because it’s true.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Harry Litman wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

June 28, 2021

DDT Goes to Court

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

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

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

Election Tampering:

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

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

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

U.S. Capitol Officers:

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

Members of Congress:

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

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

Sexual Activities:

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

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

Family Issues:

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

Businesses:

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

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

Profit from the 2017 Inauguration:

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

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

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

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

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

June 27, 2021

DDT’s Life Goes Downhill

In his first rally since Joe Biden became president of the United States, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) whined and ranted through 90 minutes of lies about being defrauded out of his re-election and his bad treatment since he lost the election on what he called his “revenge” tour. Mainstream networks avoided DDT’s rally speech although CSPAN ran it as part of his presidential campaign for 2024, and people left the rally before he was finished.

Two days after DDT delivered his lies, the Trump Organization “will be criminally charged” and “will have faced criminal charges” from an investigation by the Southern District of New York City. Charges will deal with whether taxes were paid on the company’s fringe benefits for a top executive and false valuations of properties to obtain large loans and pay small taxes.  

Prosecutors gave DDT until tomorrow afternoon to make final arguments about why DDT’s business should not face these criminal charges. The Trump Organization, controlled by a DDT-owned trust, uses a web of hundreds of individual limited liability corporations. The case against the company is moving forward because DDT’s CEO Allen Weisselberg wasn’t “cooperating.” Weisselberg went to Trump Tower while DDT was in residence. 

Since the investigation into DDT and his business, most of its longtime employees, DDT’s family members who worked there, and some of his protectors such as former lawyer Michael Cohen left. After being his fixer for decades, Cohen turned on DDT. Now DDT works at the business, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. A grand jury, convened earlier this year, is to consider indictments from the investigation.

Indictments could financially destroy DDT and his family, driving DDT into bankruptcy. DDT almost may owe hundreds of millions of dollars to the IRS, and his loans of hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks like the Chinese are coming due soon. Even without criminal indictments of the Trump Organization, DDT’s money-making could be shut down.

Rudy Giuliani’s former lawyer, replacement for Cohen, is also in trouble: the New York Supreme Court suspended his law license, and he can not practice law at this time. He faces disbarment for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while pushing DDT’s multiple court cases challenging the legal 2020 election. The court called Giuliani an “immediate threat” to the public who had “directly inflamed” the tensions leading to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” according to the court. 

DDT angrily attacked “the same court that would handle any appeals in any prosecution the Manhattan DA may bring against the Trump Organization or any of its principals or employees,” according to George Conway’s tweet.

Examples of Giuliani’s incompetence and dishonesty:

Told a court that voter fraud cost DDT the election before Giuliani admitted he isn’t claiming voter fraud.

Defended lies about absentee ballots by saying he sincerely believed the lies at one time.

Lied to a court about a dead boxer voting in Philadelphia.

Claimed underage Georgia residents gave President Joe Biden up to 165,000 votes when the number was zero.

Repeatedly claimed “a few hundred thousand” undocumented immigrants voted for Biden in Arizona after being told no data existed to support his statement.

Giuliani is bringing down others with him.  FBI agents searched the home of George Dickson, a marijuana entrepreneur who worked with Giuliani for financing a documentary, never completed, to present the lies about Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani thought the film would kill Biden’s chances to be elected. Federal prosecutors are probing Giuliani’s actions for violating foreign lobbying laws when he worked with former Ukrainian government officials and Russian agents to spread lies about false allegations about Biden.

DDT has faced a few others disasters:

A Georgia Superior Court dismissed seven of nine claims in a lawsuit alleging 147,000 fraudulent ballots were cast in the Fulton County 2020 election. Two of them were argued under a different claim, but the Fulton County elections board intends to file to get those claims dismissed as well. The ballots have been legally audited three times, including one hand recount with finding no evidence of widespread fraud.

The United States AG, Merrick Garland, announced a DOJ lawsuit against Georgia for its new anti-voting laws. Garland stated Georgia’s law was intended to be discriminatory against people of color instead of doing so accidentally. The DOJ is also following anti-voting bills and laws in other states for possible more lawsuits, according to Garland. Federal prosecutors are to make voter intimidation a priority, and Georgia may end up on preclearance requirements again. As states move to strip powers from elected secretaries of state, the DOJ lawsuit plans concrete steps to protect their legal powers.

In another move, the DOJ has established a task force to deal with the growing threats against election workers. In a number of states—including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—intimidation and threats have resulted in these officials’ early retirement. Pennsylvania lost at least one-third of county election officials. Last May during the Pennsylvania municipal primary, new election directors with no experience or knowledge took control. Untrained staffers can make mistakes programming races into the right districts, and the ignorance can lead to lack of consistency. Some counties haven’t even replaced election directors who resigned.

But it’s not just high-profile officials. One-third of election officials don’t feel safe in their jobs, and one-fifth have received death threats related to their jobs. Garland said, “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.” In Georgia, new ordinances or state laws have removed or eliminated positions of members of at least ten county election boards, mostly Democrats and some people of color. Republicans have largely replaced these people.  

The DOJ also told Missouri that states cannot overturn federal laws after Republicans passed a law not to enforce federal gun laws in the state. Gov. Mike Parsons signed the bill fining any local law enforcement agency $50,000 if it enforces federal gun laws and regulations constituting “infringements” of the Second Amendment. The DOJ told Missouri the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause outweighs Parson’s measure. Missouri’s law doesn’t even refer to current federal law; GOP legislators merely passed the law in case Congress passed a law that Missouri didn’t like. Eight other states have already passed similar laws, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said federal legislators should not pass any laws that any states would consider “nullifying.”

Other GOP governors are trying to keep members of Congress from supporting voting rights by lying about the proposed federal bill and their own anti-voting laws:

Florida: Ron DeSantis claimed that the laws were passed “so that someone can’t dump 100,000 votes two or three days later.” It didn’t happen, and DeSantis didn’t try to identify when his claim occurred. Sen. Rick Scott had falsely claimed in his 2018 race that “they found 95,000 votes after election night.”

Georgia: Brian Kemp claimed the new restrictions on drop boxes expanded the number, but it limits the number of drop boxes per county to “either one drop box for every 100,000 registered voters or the number of advance voting locations.” Larger counties, predominantly Black, are limited to 23 or fewer drop boxes, down from 94 in the 2020 election. Drop boxes, available only during early voting hours, are located inside. My Oregon county in Oregon has seven drop boxes, one per 5,467 voters, accessible 24 hours a day.

Arizona: Doug Ducey said no one loses their right to vote with Arizona’s new law, but the state automatically removes everyone from the early voter list, determining who receives mail ballots, if they don’t vote in a two-year cycle, removing over 100,000 Arizonans.

The Arizona ballot “fraudit” or ballot count or whatever is over after two painful months, but news about it is still available. Doug Logan, head of Cyber Ninjas running the operation, has claimed to be completely unbiased, but his possible appearance in the documentary Deep Rig belies his claims. Directed by a man whose work claims aliens were behind the 9/11 attack, the current conspiracy theorist film trying to prove the 2020 presidential election was rigged againt DDT uses Logan as the voice of “Anon.” 

The star of the film, Patrick Byrne, wrote the book used for the documentary and is working to get $2.8 million funding for the Arizona fake audit. Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, liaison for the “fraudit,” also took part in the film. The movie showed scenes of the audit floor, including close-ups of ballots with clearly visible choices, although a journalist was thrown out of the counting site for accidentally taking a photograph of this. Some GOP lawmakers, including Senate President Karen Fann, attended the premier of the film, filled with QAnon conspiracy theories and other lies about voter fraud.

June 25, 2021

Heat Builds Up in Weather, Voting

Over a month ago, conservative columnist Mark Thiessen wrote one of his evidence-free pieces for the Washington Post, this one about how the U.S. has no problem with drought. He cherry-picked a few facts, including this one from “NOAA figures”—“the past fifty years have been slightly wetter than average” in the United States. 

The new administration recognizes the serious problems of climate change, but those clinging to the unscientific beliefs of the old one are deeply entrenched in denial. They won’t associate the abnormal June heat waves with climate change, but fence sitters may develop an understanding for the seriousness of the problem.

For the second year in a row, Russia saw record-breaking heat north of the Arctic Circle as the country heats up twice as fast as the rest of the world. The land surface temperature in Siberia rose as high as 118 degrees on June 20. The result is record-low sea ice along Siberia’s coastline. Some of the areas are warmer by 16 degrees and severe wildfires burned through Siberia in the past two years.

Last September, a huge Greenland glacier, twice the size of Manhattan and the second largest in the world behind Antarctica, disintegrated. Melting ice in the next eight decades will cause sea levels to rise by over three feet, erasing beaches and coastal properties.

Last summer and fall marked the least area covered by sea ice ever recorded in the Arctic Ocean, unprecedented in at least 1,000 years. The drop has disastrous effects for the planet beyond the sea rise causing storm surges, flooding, and infrastructure costs throughout the world. With higher pH than freshwater, seawater from collapsing ice sheets causes ocean acidification impacting fisheries. In one example, over 80 percent of northeast Arctic cod may be eliminated, dropping the economy from a catch from $285 million to $36 million in eight decades.  

Snow and ice are part of the circular cooling of the earth: less ice, more energy absorbed by land and water which is then translated into heat, blocking an increase of ice. Melting permafrost releases carbon dioxide and methane, accelerating global warming, and diseases from past centuries are released from the thawed permafrost.

Before the end of June, a second heat wave is hitting the western United States. The one last week in the Southwest moved east, and at least 4,000 new temperatures were set this year, including every square inch of Arizona, according to the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. Palm Springs (CA) hit 123 degrees, and Phoenix and other Arizona areas were at least 120 degrees.

Like the current heat wave hitting the Northwest this coming weekend, a heat dome formed by high pressure in the upper atmosphere has put a lid on the area, trapping the hot air. The air sinks down, compresses, and heats up more while the dome blocks clouds and storms which otherwise would provide relief from the sun’s rays. The feedback loop creates longer and more intense heat waves. Temperatures in the next three to seven days will be unusually high—for example, 113 degrees in Portland at a time when normal June highs are in the mid-70s.

The result of this extreme weather can be death from drought, wildfires, and lack of refrigeration. Normal storm systems can’t get under the dome, lack of rain dries up reservoirs, crops suffer, and forests and shrubbery kindle fires. People end up with a shortage of food and water if they don’t burn up in their homes.

With less flow from the Colorado River, Lake Mead (right), supplying water for 25 million people in three Southwestern states and Mexico, is at 36 percent capacity, the lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. Arizona will lose one-fifth of its water allotment. The Folsom Lake near Sacramento (CA) is so low that a plane from a 1986 crash appeared. 

It’s not summer yet, and Mark Thiessen says our only choice is to “adapt.” Yet conservatives don’t want any adaptation which would requires conservation of resources, infrastructure redesign, and energy grids that don’t fail with the slightest provocation, as currently in Texas. Ranchers are selling their sheep and cattle early, and dairy farmers are selling their cattle because they can’t come up with the daily 50 gallons of water each animal needs. Farmers are leaving portions of their land fallow. The result is higher prices from less supply. Adaptation will be difficult.

Another heated problem this summer is voting rights. A divided 6th Circuit Court panel replaced a Tennessee law prohibiting first-time voters from using absentee ballots.  

The decision overturned a lower ruling. The Tennessee Supreme Court had permitted anyone with a “special vulnerability to Covid-19” to vote via absentee ballot in the 2020 election. The NAACP argued that the situation can be repeated, but the judicial majority called the pandemic a “unique factual situation.” The judge, a George W. Bush appointment, was joined by a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee. In her dissent, the third judge, appointed by Bill Clinton, accused her colleagues of “haphazardly wielding the law and the facts.”

Following the insistence that fraud stole the election from DDT, Michigan Senate Oversight Committee investigated the election in their state for almost eight months. The GOP-majority group, led by a Republican, issued a 55-page report finding absolutely “no evidence of widespread or systemic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.” According to the report, “Citizens should be confident the results represent the true results of the ballots cast by the people of Michigan.” Every Republican on the committee adopted he report.

Falsehoods debunked by the GOP investigation:

  • Dead people voted;
  • Hundreds of thousands of unsolicited absentee ballots were sent to Michigan voters;
  • A machine error switched votes in Antrim County;
  • Tabulators at the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots were counted, were connected to the internet which allowed tampering by outside parties.
  • “Fractional voting;”
  • Over 100 percent voter turnout in any Michigan precinct.  

The irony of the investigative report is that it supports anti-voting bills such as preventing the secretary of state from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications to registered voters. Proposed GOP bills also want more GOP poll workers in Detroit and canvassers to be present during the process as a stall to counting ballots as well as locking drop boxes before polling locations close. The Michigan House has passed bills for voter ID and signature matching. Other introduced legislation creates an “audit board” to hire an outside firm to review ballots, voting machines, and poll books, targeting the Democratic stronghold of Detroit.

The state’s GOP precinct delegates have called on the party leadership to fire Michigan GOP Executive Director Jason Cabel Roe because he told Politico last year that “the election wasn’t stolen” and only DDT was to blame for his loss.

Regarding dead people voting, the committee probed the only two claims they found. One was a clerical error; the other was a woman who died after she cast her vote but a few days before the election. A video purportedly showing late-night “ballot dumps” was of a news photographer moving his gear, not ballots. Despite the report showing no fraud in the election, Republicans are pushing almost 40 anti-voting bills.  DDT’s supporters rallied on the state Capitol steps calling on the GOP for an audit of the presidential election, exonerated by the legislative Republicans. Over 250 election audits in the state affirmed the results submitted to the Electoral College, including a human error in Antrim County quickly corrected. DDT carried Antrim by 61 percent. The report also called on the AG to investigate “utilizing misleading and false information about Antrim County to raise money or publicity for their own ends.”

In Arizona, the counters finished looking at 2.1 million ballots, and the process has turned to the 70,000-80,000 tally sheets, verifying the data. Cyber Ninjas’ counters have compiled 15 subtotals, points of comparison, with official totals for each candidate, according to the leadership of the Ninjas’ CEO Doug Logan. Official 2020 election records used 10,341 subtotals as its benchmark, a spreadsheet of all votes. GOP Senate President Karen Fann is still debating whether to do another count as comparison to the hand counts from the past two months. Don’t expect any results until at least August.

Several prominent Republicans in Arizona, once approving the “fraudit” fiasco, now oppose it. Conservative talk show host, who initially approved the idea, says the Arizona audit is a disaster for the GOP. He said:

“If we are going to let this audit define the Republican Party, which we are doing right now in Arizona, I think it’s going to be big trouble.”

According to a QAnon conspiracies, a GOP Maricopa Supervisor, Clinton Hickman, fed shredded ballots to the chickens at his family’s egg farm. One of his barns burned down, killing 162,000 chickens, leading to the false accusation that it was his way of destroying ballots.

In a Monmouth University poll, only 33 percent of people in the U.S. see the project as legitimate, and even they have no evidence for their belief. In the survey, 57 percent agreed the audits were partisan-based with the goal of questioning the election’s validity. Forty percent think this type of audits weaken democracy, twice as many as those who believe it strengthens it. Another 50 percent of respondents think voter disenfranchisement from red state laws is a bigger issue.

June 22, 2021

Voting Filibuster, Round One

Today, to the surprise of no one, GOP senators unanimously blocked any debate on the voting rights reform bill although Democrats unanimously voted in favor of addressing the measure. In the struggle to allow all eligible people have the right to vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and recalcitrant Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) struck a compromise to unify Democrats. Manchin, the only Senate Dem to oppose the House voting bill, created an alternative bill accepted by some Republicans until Georgia’s former Dem gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams endorsed it. GOP senators whirled away from an initial approval, changing their name for the new proposal from Manchin to “Stacey Abrams.” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), opposed to overriding the 60-percent filibuster, had earlier approved of the House bill.

The filibuster has nothing to do with the final passage of the bill; it blocks even debating it on the Senate floor. Manchin’s statement:

“Today I will vote ‘YES’ to move to debate this updated voting legislation as a substitute amendment to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and participate in our great democracy.”

Manchin does support these provisions:

  • Making Election Day a public holiday;
  • mandating at least 15 consecutive days for early voting in federal election;
  • Banning gerrymandering;
  • Setting up voter registration through state motor vehicle departments;
  • Backing tighter campaign finance requirements, including requiring online and digital ads to disclose their sources, imposing tighter ethics requirements for presidents and vice presidents, and requiring campaigns and committees to report foreign contacts.

He proposes voter ID requirements, but with the alternative such as utility bills for identity, and does not endorse no-excuse absentee voting. West Virginia does not have no-excuse absentee voting, but its rules for excuses are much more lenient than other states that require it. 

Sinema’s excuses for supporting the filibuster are both irrational and untrue. She attributed the filibuster to the Founding Fathers, a common excuse for people attempt to justify the unjustifiable. In 1789, the first U.S. Senate in 1789 adopted rules allowed a simply majority vote to end debate and proceed to a vote with no alternative method of ending debate. Without any rules for terminating debate, Whig senators filibustered in 1837 and another one in 1841. The formal rule was created in 1917 with a two-thirds requirement for cloture because President Woodrow Wilson wanted to arm merchant vessels.

Most of the filibusters during the mid-20th century were from Southern Democrats blocking civil rights legislation. The filibuster changed to 60 percent in 1975 with the election of 61 Democrats and one independent in the Senate, but the number 60 was required no matter how many senators were absent for voting. Oddly enough, a simple majority of senators can change this rule. 

In the 19th century, a filibuster lasted only as long as the filibustering senators talked to the entire Senate. The end of the talking led to debate moving on to a vote. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed after a 75-hour filibuster, including Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-WV) speech lasting 14 hours and 13 minutes. In only the second time since 1927, a bill went on for a vote.bEven when filibuster use dramatically increased in the 1970s, the Senate had only 413 by 1990. The last 12 years, however, have seen its use almost 600 times—now for preventing any debate. Used to stall business until the next Senate is elected, a filibuster can stop the Senate from addressing any issues on the floor for up to a week. A bill proving medical care for 9/11 responders, supported by a majority of senators, died from filibusters.

Because filibusters tend to come from small GOP states, senators representing as little as 11 percent of the population can block the Senate as a whole from doing business. The 21 smallest states with two GOP Senators, giving that party 42 votes to maintain a filibuster, have 29 percent of the U.S. population. Those 21 states can override the population of 71 percent of the population in the other 29 states. Republicans might want to be more cautious about their constant filibusters: the 21 smallest states with two Democratic senators represent 39 percent of the population, meaning they could block GOP legislation for 61 percent of the population. The result is gridlock because Republicans refuse to compromise.

Sinema’s argument to block the filibusters asserts that any bill passed without it could then be overturned by Republicans in the future. According to that position, no bill should be passed because all of them can be overturned, those dealing with domestic abuse, clean air and water, healthcare, Social Security, gun safety, etc. In short, the Senate would pass nothing because Republicans are always ready to overturn laws that help the population and give people rights. Lasting laws—including Social Security and the Affordable Care Act—have a majority popularity and thus last from one GOP administration to another. Republicans have failed to overturn the ACA for 11 years, Social Security for 86 years.  

In 2021, Manchin protests the loss of the filibuster because he wants to be bipartisan with a party refusing to compromise. In 2011, Manchin just as vigorously opposed the filibuster:

“West Virginians deserve a government that works for them, and they are understandably frustrated with the way things get done—or don’t—in Washington.”

In 2011, Manchin cosponsored Senate Resolution 20 which allowed elimination of the filibuster to block debate and secret holds, permission for both majority and minority leaders to offer up to three relevant amendments on behalf of their members, and the mandate that senators speak on the floor for a filibuster.

Republicans are in a panic about any federal bill allowing voting eligibility: they are all convinced they will lose control if all eligible voters are permitted for participate in selecting their representatives. Their strategy is not to broaden their base but to narrow the pool of voters. The House bill sent to the Senate was written before the 2020 general election, but its results sent the GOP into pure terror.

In their attempt to stop people from voting, 18 states have thus far enacted over 30 anti-voter laws affecting 36 million people, 15 percent of all eligible voters. Laws restrict access to mail voting, create problems for voters’ registration, impose new ID requirements, and expand legal definitions of criminal behavior by voters, election officials, and third parties.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said he was focused “100 percent” on blocking Biden, called a bill to allow voting “craven political calculation.”

The GOP work against democracy reflects the 19th century. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declared that “Jim Crow laws came out of democracy,” but they came from selecting government leaders from insurrection and violence. The new laws are trying to revert to the 18th century when women, Blacks, and non-landowners could not participate in selecting their representatives.

Texas AG Ken Paxton openly bragged about restricting voters by saying “Donald Trump would’ve lost the [Texas] election” if he hadn’t blocked mail-in ballots in Harris County, actually unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots. In Texas and other red states, “election integrity” literally means blocking access to the ballot by any means, especially in Democratic-learning and nonwhite areas.

Republicans no longer have any policy: they just demand power and will obtain it by any means.

The bad news for Republicans is they are accidentally suppressing GOP voters. Most of the new laws, for example mandatory IDs and limits on drop-box and early voting hours, could restrict Black voters, but limiting mail balloting may block GOP voting. Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) lies about fraudulent vote-by-mail probably stopped many Republicans from voting, especially because the GOP has an older White population. This demographic has a higher proportion of voters by mail. 

In one bright light of the voting controversy, Vermont expanded voting rights. The state will mail ballots to all registered voters and permit them to “cure” or fix incorrectly submitted or defective ballot. Nevada also expanded mail-in voting to all registered voters.

Satirist Andy Borowitz’s humor column wrote the McConnell complained about the federal voting bill would take the U.S. “to the brink of democracy.”

Borowitz continued:

“Noting that the word ‘democracy’ originated in ancient Greece, [McConnell] vowed, ‘I will not sit idly by and watch a foreign form of government sneak across our border.’ …

“’The people who voted for us did not vote for us so that other people could vote for other people,’ he said.”

Despite obstructionism from Manchin and Sinena, the rest of the Democrats are not quitting on the U.S. people. During the Senate two-week vacation for the Fourth of July, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, chair of the Rules Committee, plans a series of field hearings, drawing attention to the GOP anti-voting laws and “the urgent need to pass critical voting, campaign finance, and ethics reforms.” The Georgia event will “hear testimony on the recently enacted legislation to restrict voting in the state.”

June 20, 2021

Religion Moves to QAnon Beliefs

The Southern Baptist Church conference is over, and thousands of people elected the less extreme Rev. Ed Litton as president. In Slate, Molly Olmstead called the vote a move away from extremist support for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Before last week’s meeting, ultraconservatives had pushed DDT supporters to elect far-right Mike Stone and vote for their positions about critical race theory (against) and the church’s sexual abuse (ignore). Former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president Paige Patterson, accused of trying to intimidate and silence an alleged sexual assault victim, was a strong proponent of Stone.

Outgoing president J.D. Greear introduced the two-day conference by warning about the dangers of hypocrisy—even worse, he said, than the “curse of liberalism.” He cautioned against a convention mistreating and maligning “female abuse victims” and putting more energy into lambasting CRT than “lamenting the devastating consequences of years of racial bigotry and discrimination.” Two years ago, the SBC convention passed a resolution to use CRT and intersectionality if they were second to Scripture; in November, seminary presidents declared CRT “incompatible with the Baptist Faith and Message. Prominent Black pastors left the SBC.  

Prepared for a fight, convention organizers combined many resolutions into one, apologizing for the SBC’s part in perpetuating systemic racism but rejecting “any theory or worldview that finds the ultimate identity of human beings in ethnicity or in any other group dynamic” as well as “any theory or worldview that sees the primary problem of humanity as anything other than sin against God and the ultimate solution as anything other than redemption found only in Christ.” The resolution easily passed, and conservatives failed with resolutions to specifically condemn CRT or stop funding institutions promoting CRT. A final vote also amended SBC rules to expel a member church for racism.

In the other issue, the SBC has been accused of ignoring claims by victims of sexual abuse and sheltering the abusers, swiftly clearing accused pastors without a complete investigation. Recently, a report alleged the SBC failed to look into allegations of a church staffer who moved on to abuse children at other churches. A popular Bible teacher, Beth Moore, left the SBC in March, citing sex abuse allegations. She had also broken SBC rules by speaking publicly to men and women as well as opposing DDT in the convention.

Russell Moore (no relation), who pushed for reform within the conference, criticized the SBC for its poor handling of abuse allegations and left the church’s leadership. The convention passed a resolution that “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor.” 

Resolutions are non-binding opinions, and SBC conservatives elected their choice as vice-president. Yet some evangelicals may separate themelves from the secular focus that elected DDT.

Peter Wehner, who worked for three GOP administrations before DDT as speechwriter, wrote about a concern about evangelicals participating in the QAnon movement as 31 percent of them have. In an interview with The Atlantic, Tennessee’s former two-term GOP governor Bill Haslam said:

“I have heard enough pastors who are saying they cannot believe the growth of the QAnon theory in their churches. Their churches had become battlegrounds over things that they never thought they would be. It’s not so much the pastors preaching that from pulpits—although I’m certain there’s some of that—but more people in the congregation who have become convinced that theories are reflective of their Christian faith.”

Wehner wrote:

“Countless people who profess to be Christians are having their moral sensibilities shaped more by Tucker Carlson’s nightly monologues than by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

“Many of those who most loudly proclaim the ‘pre-eminence of Christ’ have turned him into a means to an end, a cruel, ugly and unforgiving end. And this, too, is not quite what Jesus had in mind.”

The SBC is not the only fundamentalist Christian religion being taken over by the QAnons, and pastors are leaving their churches because of parishioners’ radicalization. Even YouTube sermons are infusing dangerous conspiracy theories about rampant sex-trafficking and demon possession of Democrats. Consider Sen. Ted  Cruz’s (R-TX) speech to a recent fundamentalist conference about Democrats being “soulless” with “red eyes” and “no brain.” Many of the audience literally accepts his message. Christian fundamentalism continues to be ripe for takeover by White supremacists.

Last January, over 45 percent of Protestant pastors reported often hearing congregants repeating conspiracy theories about national news events. Sixty percent of White evangelical respondents believe President Joe Biden’s 2020 win was “not legitimate”—the highest of any religious group. Last February, more than 1,400 evangelical pastors and faith leaders published an open letter condemning “radicalized Christian nationalism” and the “rise of violent acts by radicalized extremists using the name of Christ,” according to the Washington Post. SBC youth pastor Jared Stacey, who left the church, said, “The church is going through the biggest information shift since the printing press.”

Since January 6, Derek Kubilus, senior pastor of Uniontown United Methodist Church (OH), has offered “healing for QAnon followers and family members from a Christian perspective” through his “Cross Over Q” podcast. He said he felt he had to do something after seeing “crosses being carried alongside QAnon banners and a noose.”

Also at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference where Cruz spoke, a group shouted “traitor” at former VP Mike Pence. The MAGA group claimed he had validated the presidency of Joe Biden by permitting the Electoral College to cast the votes of the people for the 2020 election.

The FBI sent Congressional members an unclassified threat assessment that QAnon may go from “digital soldiers” to “real world violence.” The “believers” already played a central role in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol with over 20 of them arrested for their participation. The FBI had already classified QAnon as a domestic-terror threat in an internal memo, but DDT accepted their members, calling them “people who love our country” and “they like me very much, which I appreciate.” The recent FBI report comes after requests by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) for a full assessment on the QAnon threat.

Steven Benen wrote about QAnon:

“The basic idea behind the madness is that Donald Trump is secretly at war with nefarious forces of evil, including Democrats, Hollywood celebrities, the “deep state,” cannibals, and an underground ring of Satanic pedophiles who are operating a child sex trafficking ring that only adherents of the conspiracy theory are aware of.

“QAnon adherents were convinced that a reckoning was imminent, in which Trump would be re-elected and his enemies would be vanquished. When President Biden took office, some followers of the crackpot theory came to realize that their bonkers ideas were not coming to fruition.”

Because of DDT’s pressure, QAnon followers have not moved on with their lives but instead joined him in the master conspiracy theory that the election was “stolen” from him. The FBI fears that they “will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts,” leading them to extreme violence. Facts contributing to QAnon’s lasting effect, according to the FBI report, include COVID, posts on social media platforms, U.S. polarization, and support from public individuals. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is a QAnon strong advocate.

Fivethirtyeight.com, a political website reporting surveys, has a detailed explanation of why people fall for conspiracy theories such as the moon landing being a hoax and vaccines being dangerous. The article presents testing for different traits such as the jumping-to-conclusions bias with little evidence, a trait more likely held by conspiracy theories. No one trait of the article predicts belief in conspiracy theories, but several of them may indicate a pattern.

A 2018 study about whether a series of coin tosses is random or predetermined examined tendencies to see patterns even if there are none. Those who see predetermination also find them in random statements—as in QAnon conspiracy beliefs making connections between unrelated events and symbols as a marker of conspiracy theories—such as a cicada landing on Biden’s neck meaning the onslaught of “the storm.” Or the connection of the Ever Given, ship caught in the Suez Canal believe by QAnon to transport trafficked children, and a March madness tweet from Mike Pompeo, a warship transit, and a 2018 Q post. [Hint: these coin tosses are random, not predetermined.]

Environmental factors can influence cognitive traits. Conspiracy theories can make people feel safer, perhaps by having a specific political candidate win or keeping a job endangered by an understanding of climate change. The theories may make them part of their tribe, “in-group” instead of “out-group.” Belief can make a person feel superior or important. The sharing of conspiracy theories builds them, and social media has been instrumental in doing this, especially when people were staying at home and on the internet during the pandemic.

About half the population endorses at least one conspiracy theory. (I won’t tell you mine!). And all brains want to take shortcuts, make assumptions, and be irrational. The extremes create danger for our lives and for our democracy.

A fascinating look at conspiracy theories through the last six centuries, their relationship to social and political upheavals, and DDT’s history of conspiracy theories.

 

June 19, 2021

Time to Talk Critical Race Theory

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:01 AM
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One of the speakers featured at this weekend’s Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), spreading more disinformation about critical race theory. He claimed that CRT tells every white person they are a racist and the theory is “as racist as the Klansmen in white sheets.” Then he topped off his damning remarks by how it came from Marxism, that CRT changed the conflict “between the owners of capital and the working men and women” to that of race. Cruz finished by claiming he loves everyone, “whatever skin color you are” before he compared Democrats to the Terminator: they “are soulless, have no brain, and red eyes.” So much for love.

Most people have heard the term “critical race theory,” but most people may not know what it means. For that reason, Christopher Rufo decided it would be the “perfect weapon” against Democrats and created the conflict with falsehoods about it. He took advantage of remote work, making leaked large meetings and emailed documents much easier to access. In July 2020, a Seattle employee sent Rufo documentation from an anti-bias training session, and he sent a report claiming forced education about internalized white supremacy to the center-right Manhattan Institute, once home to white nationalist Charles Murray who talks about Blacks have lower IQs than Whites:

“Under the banner of ‘antiracism,’ Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.”

Collecting more stories of anti-racism trainings, Rufo noted they cited popular anti-racism books, for example, by Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. The books’ footnotes cited academic scholarship from the 1990s by legal scholars arguing current laws and societal rules reflecting past white supremacy which were called critical race theory. Rufo associated CRT with critical-theory, sometimes Marxist, research by the 1968 generation including Angela Davis—aka “red-baiting.” He created language to supplant the former conservative targets such as “political correctness” during President Obama’s second term and “cancel culture” of more recent years. He wrote:

“’Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain. Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.”

On Tucker Carlson’s show, Rufo said, “It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory”—emphasizing the last three words by saying them slowly—“has pervaded every aspect of the federal government.” He continued by describing his articles and then said:

“Conservatives need to wake up. This is an existential threat to the United States. And the bureaucracy, even under Trump, is being weaponized against core American values. And I’d like to make it explicit: The President and the White House—it’s within their authority to immediately issue an executive order to abolish critical-race-theory training from the federal government. And I call on the President to immediately issue this executive order—to stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology.”

The next day, White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows called Rufo who immediately helped draft a presidential executive order issued in late September to block contractors from talking about race in federal diversity seminars. Recently, Rufo bragged about how the conservative campaign against critical race theory he invented “came from nothing.”

The farthest right became Rufo’s followers: Carlson hosted Rufo for an hour-long segment on “woke education”; Rufo advised language for over ten bills banning the teaching of CRT; and people like Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) use Rufo’s language. He speaks to Congress and has drinks with Cruz. The Fox network mentioned “critical race theory” 1,300 times in under four months—244 times last week—in order to influence the 2022 election

Rufo’s goal in his personal movement is “to politicize the bureaucracy,” allowing conservatives to take over from the liberals. His laws prevent social studies teachers from explaining current events at all levels. Three months ago, Rufo promised to make CRT “toxic” in the public imagination. He even provided his own definition of the term in a tweet:

“The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.”

Five states passed bills preventing the teaching of CRT—whatever they think it is—and another seventeen introduced bills to ban that education. The bills condemn teaching of historical racism and its impact on modern U.S. society as divisive or racist. Florida, Montana, and Utah have banned CRT through their states’ boards of education.

Law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw explained that in the “post-George Floyd backlash” the anti-CRT campaign tries to change the argument focus from addressing structural racism to the anti-racism seminars addressing structural racism.

Conservatives are delighted with the success of its anti-CRT campaign. The Affordable Care Act hasn’t gone away, the religious right hasn’t yet destroyed LGBTQ rights, and Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) involvement in elections frightens Republicans for future elections. Now the far right feels successful because they are banning the teaching of a concept in the schools that has not been taught in schools. They have defeated a threat that doesn’t exist. Instead, teachers are becoming terrified of even mentioning race—a difficult proposition when explaining the newest federal holiday of Juneteenth. Conservatives complain about a new holiday to recognize just one race, forgetting that the original Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, celebrated only White people. No people of color had “independence” in the United States of the 18th century.

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis forced the state board of education to ban CRT in classrooms, the state’s U.S. GOP Sen. Rick Scott proposed a similar resolution in the Senate. It claims CRT “serves as a prejudicial ideological tool, rather than an educational tool, and should not be taught in K-12 classrooms” while encouraging states and localities to take action to discourage the theory. The resolution avoided the truth: CRT is not a defined doctrine, and CRT, taught in graduate school, does appear in K-12 schools. Three senators co-sponsoring the resolution did not provide specific supporting information, and three anti-CRT groups did not explain its problems.

Falsehoods used to “support” the resolution:

“Whereas Critical Race Theory’s teachings stand in contrast to the overarching goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in the United States”: Nope. CRT supporters believe in the Civil Rights Act, hailed as an important step to equality, but think that more is needed to done to achieve its goal of equality “in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public,” as Lyndon Johnson said. When the law didn’t cause the end of discrimination, Harvard philosopher Cornel West praised CRT’s founders in the 1990s for exposing society’s failure to deliver on the “possibilities for human freedom and equality.” Khiara Bridges’ 2018 book, Critical Race theory: A Primer, showed that Blacks are still disproportionately poor.

“Whereas Critical Race Theory serves to resegregate institutions of education and balkanize students into groups by race and ethnicity”: Nope. No current scholarship advocates resegregating schools. Any desire appears to be extremely limited. Desegregation peaked in 1988, but by 2016, they were returning to segregation. As children see more racism in their lives, they can learn about it.

“Whereas efforts to indoctrinate critical race theory into United States school children are designed to eventually transform the United States by stigmatizing its economic system and creating a hatred of all its institutions”: Nope. Anti-CRT people can’t find any examples of this. Teaching history shows a growth from the nation’s inception when voting was related to owning property and people could be owned. Learning how this is wrong is part of civic reasoning.

“Whereas the 1619 Project, which puts slavery, not the ideal of equality, at the center of our Nation’s storyline, and has been widely debunked by historians across the ideological spectrum, is nevertheless being taught in 4,500 classrooms across the country”: The New York Times edition on the legacy of slavery and racism in America since the arrival of the first slaves in 2019 was revised, and classroom materials are not identical to the piece. In addition, the material is available to classrooms but not mandated.

A definition of CRT from Isaac Saul on the middle-of-the road website Tangle:

“An academic movement that recognizes systemic racism in American society and examines how that racism impacts the law, institutions, and outcomes. It argues that many social problems are influenced more by racial inequity in societal structures than individual or psychological factors. CRT teaches that racism is an everyday experience for people of color, and that white supremacy maintains its power through our systems of government and law.”

He continues:

“If K-12 students are being taught that they are inherently inferior, superior, or racist, based on their race—or otherwise being compelled to espouse those ideas—they are already protected by our country’s laws. And they can use those laws to seek recourse.”

There’s much more to say about critical theory, but basically, as its inventor claimed, its “toxic” and the “perfect weapon.”

June 17, 2021

An Historical Day for the Supreme Court, Congress

The Supreme Court “giveth and … taketh away.” In the giveth, seven justices preserved the Affordable Care Act for the third time by ruling Texas and the other plaintiffs lacked standing in California v. Texas. With no penalty for not having health insurance, no one filing the suit could claim “personal injury.” President Joe Biden lauded the decision: “It remains, as ever, a BFD.” Oddly enough, Clarence Thomas was not one of the dissenters, but Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch disagreed with the failure to rule on the law’s constitutionality. The lawsuit was brought in Texas with the selection of a “friendly” judge. Since DDT appointed 226 federal judges, the people who want to take health care from tens of millions of people have a bigger pool from which to pick. Yet even GOP party leaders still talk about the “failed” healthcare plan, but they have no alternatives and may not want to face a fourth loss.

The taketh away refers to the unanimous SCOTUS ruling in Fulton v. the City of Philadelphia that requires taxpayers to pay for discrimination against same-gender couples wanting to foster and adopt children. According to the decision, Philadelphia violates the constitution’s First Amendment by not sending foster children to Catholic Social Services, a religious organization refusing to certify same-gender couples as foster parents. This decision is in keeping with the shift from a half-century ago to protecting Christians. The change has been worsened by “Project Blitz,” the religious right flooding of state legislatures with “religious liberty laws” challenging the status quo through the Supreme Court. Targets include LGBTQ rights and women’s reproductive rights.

Without support from three progressive justices, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the group “does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else,” and he pointed out that the city’s non-discrimination ordinance does not apply to foster care. The city also allows unspecified exemptions to the ban on discrimination, giving the Catholic group permission to create their own exemptions “without compelling reason.”

Two lower courts ruled in favor of the city, using the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith requiring any law infringing on religion to be neutral, not targeted at a specific religion, and equally applied to all. The narrow ruling failed to overturn Smith, much to the distress of Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas, making it a small win for “religious liberty” and a small loss (except for same-gender couples in Philadelphia) for the LGBTQ community because it sets no precedents. Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote that several justices don’t know what to do if Smith were overturned. A law expert said the win for Catholics was based on the city’s decision-making and not “an automatic right to discriminate.”

Congress passed a bill to make Juneteenth, celebrated for 155 years, a federal holiday on June 19, and Biden signed it earlier today at a White House ceremony. Biden invited Opal Lee (left), who he called “a daughter of Texas, grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a holiday,” to the signing and credited the 94-year-old woman’s organizing efforts. With Lee are VP Kamala Harris, the bill’s cosponsors, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Federal employees will have the day off tomorrow or receive time-and-a-half pay.  https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/558937-federal-government-to-observe-juneteenth-holiday-on-friday   Earlier known as Jubilee Day, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of slaves on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers made the announcement in Galveston (TX), the last place in the state to hear slavery’s abolishment after Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomatox two months earlier. A majority of the states ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery on December 6, 1865.

Although the Senate unanimously supported the bill after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) removed his objection, 14 white men in the House voted in opposition to the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. The same people crying “cancel culture” and fighting against “critical race theory”—without the ability to define the concept—complained that one more federal holiday was too many, the name uses “independence” instead of emancipation, and honoring the end of the Civil War will “polarize” the country. GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale, Montana’s only representative because of its low population, called it “identity politics … to make critical race theory the reigning ideology of our country.” He said he voted no “since I believe in treating everyone equally.” A chief Senate sponsor of the bill, John Cornyn (R-TX), called the excuse “kooky.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) protested the bill was “creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin.” Rep. Brenda Lawrence answered Roy:

 “I want to say to my white colleagues on the other side: Getting your independence from being enslaved in a country is different from a country getting independence to rule themselves.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) grumbled that the bill wasn’t passed in a “harmonious” fashion, that Democrats “weaponized” it. Under 3 percent of Congress objected to the bill, and 195 House Republicans voted in favor of it. https://www.theroot.com/tucker-carlson-guest-black-people-succeed-less-because-1847120979   On his show, Tucker Carlson pushed opposition to the holiday, including hosting Charles Murray, who promotes the falsehood that Whites have higher IQs than Blacks by a “dozen” points.  

Biden’s guest at the ceremony, Opal Lee, had a long and arduous journey to passing the bill. When she was 12, Whites burned her Black family’s home. After she retired from being a teacher and counselor, she became involved with the local Black historical and genealogical organization. At 89, Lee started an annual walking campaign in cities between her home in Fort Worth (TX) to Washington, D.C. to promote Juneteenth as a federal holiday. She walked 2.5 miles to represent the 2.5 years between Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and slaves learning they were free. Last September, she brought a petition signed by 1,500,000 people to Congress asking them to legislate a federal holiday. In February, she returned when a bill for the holiday was reintroduced. Tonight, Rachel Maddow’s segment on her show is tear-jerking, especially the scene where the president of the United States kneels before the chair where Lee sits during the White House ceremony.

South Dakota is the only state to not recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or have an official observance of the day, but four states—New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington—declare it a paid holiday. The 12th federal holiday, Juneteenth National Independence Day is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. Six states still combine King’s name with others such as Robert E. Lee, Civil Rights, Human Rights, and Equality.

Twenty years ago, Congress abdicated its constitutional control of the use of force to the president in the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) after the 9/11 attacks. The next year, Congress passed the second AUMF which George W. Bush used to attack Iran after invading Afghanistan with the 2001 AUMF. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) was the only member of Congress to oppose the 2001 law. In 2002, she was joined in dissent by 132 representatives and 23 senators. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used the 2002 AUMF to justify his airstrike against an Iranian target in Iran.

Lee has repeatedly sponsored measures to repeal both war power bills, thus returning authorization to Congress.  In March 2020, Congress passed a resolution to limit the president’s authority for initiating military action against Iran without congressional approval, but it didn’t repeal the AUMF. The GOP-controlled Senate passed the resolution by 55-45, indicating some GOP support for a repeal.

The House has now passed a bill to repeal the 2002 AUMF by 268 votes, 49 of them Republicans. Perhaps a majority of Congressional members have reached the breaking point in facing non-stop warfare by the United States.

Crazy for the day: According to a new report, about one-third of election workers feel unsafe because of conservative threats, but conservatives are turning on each other. For example, Florida’s competition for a U.S. representative is heating up. A candidate for one of the state’s most competitive seats was secretly recorded when he told an activist he could make his opponent Anna Paulina Luna “disappear” with “a hit squad…, Ukrainians and Russians.” Politico obtained a recording of the 30-minute call when William Braddock warned the activist not to support Luna in the GOP primary. Braddock said he was paying $20,000 for polling before the primary, and “she’s gonna be gone” if the poll makes her the winner. “For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few.” Asked about Luna’s win, Braddock said his “hit squad” would send him “pictures of her disappearing” in 24 hours. “No, I’m not joking,” he finished. The activist called the police and Luna, who took out a temporary restraining order against Braddock. He said he may sue the activist. Pro-DDT Luna has been endorsed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Braddock sounds crazier than she does.

Question: If GOP legislators like Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), and Louie Gohmert (TX) believe Tucker Carlson’s claim that FBI agents are behind the January 6 insurrection, why don’t they want an independent commission to find the answers?

June 16, 2021

Biden Returns, World Changes Continue

President Joe Biden has returned from eight days in Europe—misnamed “vacation” by my conservative newspaper from Eugene (OR)—and ruffled few feathers. Compared to the ongoing disaster from any time Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) left the U.S., the trip appeared productive and short on viral media attention. Six of the G7 countries refused to hold a summit in 2019 because of DDT’s egregious behavior. The Republican National Committee (RNC), however, decided to create controversy.

Biden’s culminating activity of his three-country diplomatic tour was a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. RNC Communications Director Danielle Alvarez accused Biden of giving Putin a “win,” just by the act of meeting with him, and damned Biden’s “foreign policy failures” that have “strengthened Russia at the expense of our country.” Republicans obviously forgot their support of their man in the White House owned by Putin while GOP legislatures refused to block Russian interference in the presidential elections when DDT was a candidate.

In Helsinki, DDT stood next to Putin, saying he believed the Russian president’s statement that he didn’t interfere and didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would have interfered in 2016, contradicting U.S. intelligence agencies.

Republicans are walking a very fine line, trying to look tough on Russia while kissing the ring of the man who supported Russia in everything it does.

A few of Biden’s accomplishments:

  • Reassurance that the U.S. will be a part of the democratic part of the world by being a more reliable diplomatic presence;
  • Meeting with NATO allies to promise a “rock solid and unshakable” military alliance;
  • A pledge of 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to the world to speed up vaccinations;
  • A joint communiqué from the G7 endorsing a global minimum tax for equity and financing infrastructure projects in the developing world to counter China’s influence;
  • Response to “China’s nonmarket conomic practices and the need to speak out against human rights abuses”;
  • The need for “supply chain resilience and technology standards so that democracies are aligned and supporting each other”;
  • An overhaul of international tax laws to ban large multinational companies from locating tax havens;
  • An investigation of COVID origins in china;
  • Alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its overseas lending and investing push spread across Africa, Latin America, and into Europe;
  • Freeze on the huge 17-year-old trade dispute between Boeing and Airbus to focus on new competition, possibly from China.

Biden participated in the G7 Summit experiencing success in the world’s respect. When DDT left the White House, he asked Biden not to lose the mythical respect he thought he had gained for the United States. At the end of DDT’s four years, 83 percent of 16 countries lacked confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing about world affairs whereas 17 percent did. Just a few months into his first term, Biden flipped that lack of confidence in the U.S.: 75 percent of these respondents have confidence in the president, and 22 percent don’t. DDT’s finish had a 63-percent unfavorable view of the U.S. with a 34 percent favorable perspective. The view under Biden is just the opposite—62 percent favorable and 36 percent not.  

A recent example of renewed favorability came after Biden’s conversation with the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” Johnson said about his discussion with Biden regarding what they can accomplish together.

A few nuances keep the U.S. from more positive views, such as using the U.S. as a model of democracy. That, however, is the fault of the GOP and not the president. Republicans are fond of complaining about how Democratic presidents lose “the trust and confidence of our friends,” as Jeb Bush insisted about the Barack administration. Yet President Obama largely repaired the Bush/Cheney damage, and Biden is doing the same thing for the DDT devastation.

While Biden was away from the U.S., Israel’s parliament rejected Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, but he’s playing the same game that people feared DDT would: he won’t leave the prime minister’s residence. Instead he’s staying there and entertaining foreign dignitaries. Netanyahu stayed at the official residence for six weeks after he was last voted out of office in 1999.

In the United States, Fox’s Tucker Carlson spread another baseless conspiracy theory about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, that the attack was organized by FBI agents who were present at the riot. Thus far, over 500 of the 800 people in the Capitol have been charged, but Carlson focused on the others who he called FBI operatives. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are promoting the lies.

Last Friday, AG Merrick Garland called the expansion of voting rights “to all eligible citizens” a “central pillar” to democracy in the U.S. He promised the DOJ would protect this democracy and doubled the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights enforcement staff with an additional members within 30 days. In addition, he promised to scrutinize “post-election audits to ensure they abide by federal statutory requirements to protect election records and avoid the intimidation of voters.” Garland asked for Congressional help from Congress to pass two bills waiting for Senate action: the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

Garland also laid out his strategy to combat domestic terrorism, tying it to the violence of the January 6 insurrection. Citing a number of domestic violence in recent history, he addressed threats by White supremacists and right-wing militia to be stopped by shared information on all government levels, prevention of domestic terrorism recruitment and violent mobilization, blocking domestic terrorism activity, and confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism. The task will tackle racism, gun violence, and mass murders with attention to mental health and education promoting tolerance and respect.

At the request of the House Intelligence Committee Democrats, the DOJ’s inspector general is investigating DOJ’s past probes into DDT’s political enemies, including subpoenas collecting metadata from lawmakers, staff, and some family members. DDT even subpoenaed information about his own White House Counsel Don McGahn. Microsoft also received a subpoena in 2017 for a congressional staffer’s personal email account, also with a gag order. DDT’s former AGs Jeff Session and Bill Barr say they know nothing about the investigation. Democratic lawmakers want Barr and Sessions to testify under oath about the investigations. Republicans are determined to block any subpoenas for them. Barr may have lied during his confirmation hearings when he said he knew nothing about whether DDT had pressed the DOJ to open any investigations.

The Pulitzer Board gave Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she recorded the police officer killing Floyd, a special citation for the video which went viral and led to protests around the world. It was likely an important factor in the policeman’s conviction. The board honored Frazier for “highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

An Alaska indigenous corporation owning 44,000 acres of land near Bristol Bay voted to sell conservation easements to an environmental nonprofit, destroying plans to build a gold and copper mine eliminating the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery. The mining industry has fought for 40 years to buy the easements, but the easements can protect the area from developments, including the mining operation’s plan for an 82-mile road and contamination from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Biden is moving to “repeal or replace” DDT’s rule permitting roads and other developments in over half Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, protected at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term. George W. Bush held timber sales in the national forest before a judge reinstated Clinton’s rule.

Reagan National University in Sioux Falls (SD) lost its accreditation—and federal funds—given by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who resuscitated a questionable accrediting agency. The school has no students, no faculty, and no classrooms. The agency, which accredited other for-profit schools closing after stealing billions of dollars from students, is also gone.

Former Oregon legislator Mike Nearman made history when he was the first legislative member expelled from the House in its 162 years. He was the only person to vote for him to remain; 22 other Republicans voted against him. During a special session on December 21, Nearman had opened a door in the state capitol allowing violent armed protesters to enter after telling them to text him. He faces criminal misconduct charges. 

Update: A veteran who had his speech censored when the Hudson (OH) American Legion chapter leaders cut off his microphone will give that speech at the Legion’s Buckeye Boys State, teaching male youth about government. In a speech commemorating Memorial Day, Retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter gave the days history about freed Black slaves beginning the tradition when they honored fallen Union soldiers during the Civil War by burying them, decorating their graves, and holding a parade for them. The Legion chapter is temporarily suspended with a meeting to discuss its future schedule later this month.

June 15, 2021

DDT Pushes to Steal the Election

During the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), revelations came out via leaks; now a flood is being legally released. He spied on journalists, congressional members and their associates—even his own White House Counsel, Don McGahn. DDT’s official policy of cruelty toward migrants at the southern border included stealing children from their parents instead of deporting the family together. DDT told the Army National Guard to protect his followers on January 6 while they gathered to attack the Capitol. DDT’s Commerce Department spied on employees and others who opposed Census changes to undercount people of color. DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort gave information to a known Russian spy, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to intimidate Ukrainian government officials into smearing Joe Biden while he ran for president.

Throughout his term, DDT obviously used the Department of Justice, a supposedly independent agency to protect the nation, for his personal business. Recently released documents show how his chief of staff Mark Meadows pressured the DOJ into changing the election so that DDT could stay in the White House, going so far as to demand an investigation of conspiracy theories about Italy changing votes for DDT to Joe Biden through satellites. Democrats in the House Oversight Committee have now added to the lore of DDT’s work to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

On December 14, 2020, when each state’s electors submitted the official voting results for the Electoral College, his assistant emailed then-Deputy AG Jeffrey Rosen explaining why Michigan’s votes should not be recognized by the Electoral College because of voter fraud. DOJ official Richard Donoghue emailed the document to Michigan’s AGs, and DDT’s personally-chosen AG Bill Barr announced his retirement. DDT replaced him with Rosen, and Donoghue took Rosen’s place.  

As lawsuits to overturn the election continued, DDT’s assistant emailed a draft of a legal brief for the Supreme Court to Rosen, Donoghue, and Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall to redo the presidential election in six states that DDT lost to Biden. The pressure on the DOJ continued as did the “Big Lie” that Joe Biden was not the legitimate winner of the election. Rosen and Donoghue called the far-fetched claims “Pure insanity.”

DDT’s followers attacked the Capitol on January 6 to stop the Electoral College voting, and 147 congressional Republicans voted to overturn the election. Twenty-one House Republicans who voted against honoring first responders at the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol objected to calling it an insurrection, falsely claiming the insurrectionists walked through the building in an “orderly fashion.” On the same day, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified the event was “an affront to the rule of law.” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) voted against the bill awarding Congressional Gold Medals because it honored Capitol Police Officer Williams Evens, killed in April by a knife-wielding attacker ramming a security barricade with his car at the Capitol.

DDT has fanatically followed the latest GOP attempt to steal the election in Arizona, and a shabby building in Phoenix has become the mecca of political conservatives from throughout the nation—Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin thus far. An Arizona newspaper listed all the politicians who use their trip as part of their next campaign. For example, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is running for the U.S. Senate. He was forced to resign his former position after allegedly blackmailing a woman with whom he was having an affair by releasing nude photographs that he took after tying her up and blindfolding her.

As Arizona temperatures rise to 120 degrees, politicians head to a crumbling structure where volunteers try to count ballots as proof of their conspiracy theory that Maricopa County’s election was rigged. The conspiracy-ridden GOP state senators hired an inexperienced conspiracy-ridden company to lead the “fraudit.” Glowing false praise about the process’s security came from “audit team” leader Randy Pullen, who failed to win his election last fall. The next planned process will recount ballots for his desired position.  

Politician expenses are being covered by the fundraising group led by One America News network host Christina Bobb, who earlier worked for DDT’s administration. OAN is also filming the “fraudit” and raising more money for the process. The fiasco costs several million dollars, most paid by dark money donations, because the state Senate allotted only $150,000 for the fake “count” and “forensic audit,” searching for bamboo in the ballot paper and other QAnon conspiracies. Maricopa County will be on the hook for over $6 million because damaged voting machines must be replaced.

Bobb lost her temper with Jen Fifield, an Arizona Republic reporter, and swore at her for asking a question. At a press gaggle, Fifeld asked DDT-supporter Vernon Jones if he would support a Democrat-led and fundraised audit. Afterwards, Fifield asked Bobb why she stayed silent. “Go talk to your peers who do this to me every f**king day. I don’t care,” Bobb snapped. In addition to raising funds for the process, Bobb has passed information to the GOP Senate president, Karen Fann, to increase the GOP work undermining Maricopa County’s election results.

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett was assigned to be the Senate liaison, but flaws in the process bother even this Republican. He thinks another audit, this one digital, should be used to compare results of the two “fraudits.” Toward that end, he is trying to hire another company, California’s Citizens Oversight, also with no experience in audits. CEO Doug Logan of Cyber Ninjas, the company orchestrating the first “fraudit,” has secretly criticized Bennett for the digital count, maybe because he recognizes the shortcomings of his work. Bennett said, “It’s not what evidence is presented to most people, it’s who it is presented to them by.”

After the DOJ warned the Arizona Senate against its plans to canvass voters’ homes as part of its “fraudit,” people falsely claiming to represent the county recorder’s office are knocking on doors in Yavapai County and asking how the inhabitants voted in the last election. Backers of the Senate’s audit have organized their own door-knocking. Yavapai County, population 211,000, is northwest of Maricopa County.

All the demands for “election integrity” are coming from conservatives. The definition for this “integrity” is support for the “big lie” that DDT won the election, despite Republicans as well as Democrats praising the security and accuracy of the 2020 presidential election.

The constitutionality of two Arizona laws blocking voters awaits a decision from the Supreme Court in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee. Anyone other than family member, caregiver, or postal worker collecting and delivering ballots commits a felony, and ballots will be rejected if they aren’t cast in the precinct where a voter lives. The lawsuit deals with discrimination against minority voters. In Arizona, almost 80 percent of voters used mail for casting ballots, but mail service can be sketchy in rural areas where many Latinx and Native Americans live. Only 18 percent of Native Americans in the state have access to home mail delivery. With an area bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, the Tohono O’odham reservation has no home delivery and only one post office.

After Arizona’s district court and two different three-judge panels of the 9th Circuit Court ruled for the state, the full 9th Circuit Court reversed those decisions in favor of the voters. It wrote minority were more likely than non-minorities to rely on others to return their ballots. In addition, the mailing law isn’t necessary for election integrity because third-party ballot collection has not resulted in vote fraud. The court also wrote that Arizona officials frequently change polling places in urban counties with large minority populations leading to voter confusion. In 2018, two-thirds of the 3,709 out-of-precinct Arizona rejected ballots were from minority voters. Nationally, 26 states invalidated 140,000 provisional ballots as out-of-precinct in the 2018 midterm elections. In 2013, John Roberts’ Supreme Court overturned Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requiring federal approval before states with a history of discrimination, Arizona being one of them, could enact new voting laws.

AG Merrick Garland said the GOP-backed ballot reviews are “based on disinformation” and has doubled the number of staff dealing with voting rights enforcement by hiring another 300 people for the DOJ. 

According to Republican Tim Miller, QAnon activists describe the “fraudit” as the first step in “The Great Awakening,” and Arizona’s GOP chair, Kelli Ward, threatens “arrests” of anyone not complying with the audit. Bobb and Steve Bannon are leading the publicity for he debacle, and an Arizona woman quit her job as a real estate agent to detail the event on Facebook and YouTube. Both sides are predicting the fraudulent Cyber Ninjas will call Maricopa County—and Arizona—for DDT, and violence will break out—again.

According to Bennett, the ballot counting has finished all “regular” ballots, leaving only boxes with Braille, large-type, overseas military, and duplicated ballots. The fiasco, lasting almost two months, moves on, perhaps best illustrated by the lightning strike on the Washington Monument. This view is through the pillars at the Jefferson Monument. 

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