Nel's New Day

July 27, 2021

January 6 Hearings First Day

The House select committee hearings began today with four police officers who described what they called an insurrection of white supremacists breaking into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and viciously attacking them—both physically and verbally with racist slurs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had prevented one of the worst circus performers in the House, Jim Jordan (R-OH), from being on the committee so the circus stayed outside where Republican congressional members supported the domestic terrorists who broke into the Capitol, threatening the lives of congressional members and vandalizing the venerated federal building.

Verbal testimony from four police officers trying to keep the insurrectionists from breaking into the Capitol was supplemented by phone videos and body-camera footage. Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said “nothing in my experience” in Iraq prepared him for the January 6 attack; MPD officer Michael Fanone called the House Republicans’ indifference “disgraceful”; and USCP officer Harry Dunn, called an “angry left-wing activist” by Fox’s Tucker Carlson, talked about being repeatedly called the racist n-word while in uniform.

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 27: Protestors hold an effigy of former President Donald Trump. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In the circus outside, supposedly a press conference, GOP leadership tried to blame Pelosi for lack of security on January 6, and GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) complained about the “political prisoners” arrested for storming the Capitol. Protesters shut them down. The four G’s had planned to distribute disinformation about the DOJ’s mistreatment of the insurrectionists, but they called off their press conference while Greene, known for her intimidation tactics, was speaking.

Before the hearing, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tried to pass a privileged resolution, with precedence over regular business, to condemn Pelosi and force her to reappoint his five picks to disturb the committee progress. Both GOP select committee members, Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (OH), voted with the Democrats to kill the resolution in the 218-197 vote.

In another act of destruction, McCarthy had earlier removed all six GOP representatives from the special committee on economic disparity. One of the Republicans removed, Byron Donalds (FL) had written:

“While serving on this committee, my priority is to empower families, support American workers, and to strengthen and bolster our economy with pro-growth legislation.”

At today’s hearing about January 6, Cheney called for an end to the cover-up. She said:

“On January 6 and the days thereafter, almost all members of my party recognized the events that day for what they actually were. One Republican, for example, said, quote, ‘What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and un-American. Those participating in lawlessness and violence must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.'”

She was quoting Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), now trying to discredit the investigation. Pelosi had refused to put Banks on the January 6 committee after McCarthy picked him. Another committee member, Kinzinger, called the “counter-narratives” and conspiracy theories undermining the insurrectionist violence “toxic” and “a disservice to the officers and their families.”

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, announced his plans for “a rules change that would expel any member of the GOP conference if a House Republican accepted a committee assignment from Democrats.” Complaining about Cheney and Kinzinger accepting posts on the January 6 select committee, he tweeted that they “have effectively removed themselves from the Republican Conference. We should help them out the door by formalizing their departure.”

In a blow to Deposed Dnald Trump (DDT), the DOJ informed him that his attempts to get the DOJ to overturn the 2020 presidential election is not protected by executive privilege and officials serving in his administration may give “unrestricted testimony” to investigative committees into the January 6 insurrection. The letter from Bradley Weinsheimer, a top-ranking career official in the deputy attorney general’s office, stated DDT is trying to use the DOJ to advance his “personal political interests.”

David Corn pointed out that most behind the scenes’ witnesses for the January 6 insurrection are DDT’s sycophants. He gave a partial list of these GOPers:

Former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC):  DDT’s White House chief of staff on January 6, he could explain whether DDT was really excited about watching the violent rioters try to stop the election certification, as CNN reported.

Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AL): According to Ali Alexander, an organizer of the pro-DDT “Stop the Steal” movement, he worked with the three legislators on a January 6 event putting “maximum pressure” on Congress while voting to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): A question could be about details between McCarthy’s furious, expletive-filled phone call with DDT after the beginning of the insurrection when DDT said he wouldn’t call them off.

Kimberly Guilfoyle: Alexander said he talked with the former DDT campaigner and Trump Jr’s girlfriend late on January 5 when she encouraged his efforts. What did she say and was her message from anyone else?

Caroline Wren, Guilfoyle’s deputy at the fundraising campaign Trump Victory, and Katrina Pierson, DDT’s 2016 campaign spokesperson and senior adviser to DDT’s 2020 reelection bid: They were involved in the planning of the rally near the White House before the crowd violently stormed the Capitol, and Pierson acted as liaison between the White House and the organizing conservative groups of the pre-attack gathering. How much was the White House involved in the rally and subsequent march, and how much did they know about the violent plans?

Roger Stone, DDT’s longtime adviser: He was seen with people charged in the attack and accused of conspiring to create the raid; several of those people provided security for him. Stone also raised money for “private security” and equipment for January 5 and 6 events in Washington before the raid. He has already been convicted of lying to Congress before DDT commuted his sentence.

Rudy Giuliani, DDT’s former lawyer and dirt-digger:  At the pre-riot rally, he cried out to the crowd, “Let’s have trial by combat.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump: McCarthy begged Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law and top aide, for help stopping the assault in the afternoon of January 6, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) phoned DDT’s daughter Ivanka for assistance while she was in the Oval Office

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL): He received a call from DDT during the midst of the insurrection which mistakenly went to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The call was to get Tuberville’s help in overurning the Electoral College, but the senator said he can’t remember the conversation’s details.

Kellyanne Conway: DDT’s former senior adviser called an aide standing next to DDT during the attack. What was said?

Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary on January 6: With DDT during the attack, she supposedly pleaded with him to oppose the violence.

Former AG Bill Barr: He refused to support DDT’s lies about election fraud. What did DDT want Barr to do?

Pat Cipollone, White House counsel while DDT was trying to overturn the election results: How was DDT trying to block the democratic process? Jerry Rosen, Barr’s acting successor, and Jeffrey Clark, senior DOJ official immediately before the end of DDT’s term, should also be asked about DDT’s attempts to invalidate the Georgia election results and keep DDT in the White House.

Former VP Mike Pence: Although he didn’t talk to DDT during the attack, his chief of staff, Marc Short, communicated with DDT.

DDT: It was his riot.

Using the election, the insurrection, the vaccines, and congressional rules, Republican legislators are moving forward in their strategy to destroy democracy in the United States. Their moves:

  • Blame the insurrection on Pelosi. And the FBI. Antifa. BLM. And Hillary.
  • Call the COVID-19 vaccine the “trump vaccine” and blame Biden and immigrants for the unvaccinated masses of the Tepublican stripe.
  • Call the COVID-19 virus the “Fauci virus” and keep attacking him.
  • Keep pushing for recounts and recounts of recounts in AZ, GA, PA, wherever.
  • Keep filibustering in the Senate every bill including the upcoming infrastructure bill.
  • Remove Republicans from positions and blame Democrats for not letting them be involved in decisions.
  • Maneuver to shut down the government over the debt ceiling.
  • Relentlessly push voter suppression and voter disfranchisement efforts.
  • Keep sucking their supporters dry with incessant demands for donations.

In one more victory for democracy, the DOJ refuses to support Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in a lawsuit brought by Sen. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) regarding Brooks’ part in the insurrection. Brooks had claimed his part in DDT’s rally belonged to his duties when he said, “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking a**.” Apparently, the DOJ thinks planning a coup against a U.S. election is not part of a Congressperson’s official responsibilities. The General Counsel for the House of Representatives has also declined to represent Brooks.

July 26, 2021

January 6 Select Committee Begins

On January 6, 2021, tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of people watched in horror as supporters of then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attacked and vandalized the U.S. Capitol, threatening to hang VP Mike Pence and menacing congressional members and their staff. Even Republicans cowered in the building and begged DDT for help while he praised his followers and withheld assistance for several hours. The “football” with launch codes for nuclear attack was seconds away from being captured by the insurrectionists who wanted to overturn the 2020 presidential election putting Joe Biden in the White House.

 

 

 

 

Within the past six months, GOP members of Congress have attempted to create a revisionist history, first accusing progressives of the attack and then lying about the FBI being behind the danger. Losing that tactic, the Republicans now maintain that it was a loving gathering, people just wandering through the Capitol looking for the gift shop, despite hours of video to the contrary, arrests of over 550 of the 800 people filmed there, and guilty pleas from participants. Of those arrested for crimes that day, over 165 are accused of assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

The same Republicans originally terrified for their lives now fight any investigation into the events of January 6. Although six GOP senators supported an independent commission a late-May vote of 54-36, the filibuster, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) required 60 votes to even debate the bill on the floor. Patterned after the commission to investigate the 9/11 foreign attacks in the U.S., the ten-member panel would have had an equal number of each party’s members who would have subpoena powers. In the House, 35 Republicans joined all Democrats for the 252-175 vote to support the commission after Republicans made suggestions for its provisions and approved them.

Bipartisan legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has failed in the Senate, as Republicans staged their first filibuster since President Biden took office to block the plan. Opposing Republicans were afraid the investigation would hurt them in the 2022 election.

Republicans moved on to oppose a House select committee passed by the Democratic majority. That committee begins its investigation into the January 6 insurrection this week, but at this time with the only two Republicans who voted for the committee, Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (OH).  After Pelosi rejected two of five GOP members selected for the committee by House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), he promised retribution against any Republicans supporting the committee, perhaps stripping them of committee assignments, something he refused to do to QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), despite her support of violence against Democratic members of Congress.

Of the five Republicans McCarthy selected, three voted to overturn the Electoral College vote, and all five voted against the select committee. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) could be brought before the committee because he helped organize the plans for the “protest” on January 6. He also blames Democrats for the insurrection because of their protests against DDT and police brutality. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), another choice, ridiculed any investigation and accused Pelosi of not keeping the Capitol secure from rioters.

After Pelosi’s rejection of two selections by McCarthy, he suggested he would create a GOP-only commission to investigate the Capitol riot, saying “Republicans … will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.” His suggestion reinforces the belief that he has no interest in finding out After their initial horror at the insurrection, Republicans rapidly switched to avoidance after they recognized their political allies caused it. An alternative investigation from Republicans might hide the discovery of who was behind the attack and how badly it was handled. Banks called the select committee an effort to “malign conservatives.” Having him on the committee would be like putting hijackers on the 9/11 commission.  

Before the committee was created, McCarthy mandated changes for negotiation. The Democrats conceded to them, and McCarthy came out against the deal. Furious with Pelosi rejecting two of his choices, McCarthy then pulled all five selections. In his outrage, he called Pelosi’s action unprecedented; she responded by saying that the insurrection was unprecedented.

McCarthy might join Jordan as a witness because early in the insurrection he was heard begging DDT for help for hours with no results.  He now lies about not trying to overturn the presidential election in favor of DDT and flipped on his blaming DDT for the January 6 insurrection by saying, “I don’t believe [Trump] provoked.” 

In a prologue to the investigation, four police officers, two each from the Capitol Police and the D.C. police, will testify publicly before the committee about verbal and physical abuse during their attempts to protect the Capitol. Some of them earlier lobbied congressional members to create the independent commission.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said the committee will investigate “why we were not prepared for the president to unleash the violence against us and what that means in terms of security.” He added the panel hopes to discover “what groups and political forces came together to do this, how did they operate and why did they do this, what was the purpose of it.” Another purpose is how “to prevent this from happening again.” Last month, a Senate committee released a report about who took part in the insurrection and why law enforcement wasn’t prepared but didn’t address how DDT was responsible for the riot. 

Throughout the country, judges gave a mixed bag of reactions to arrests for insurrection from releasing them with no bail to keeping them behind bars, even a former New York Police officer who complained about the conditions in a D.C. jail. Violence promised by these GOP-called “tourists” to the Capitol presented extreme danger, for example, the Texas militiaman who parked two blocks away from the building in a truck full of guns, Molotov cocktails, and bombs. Carrying two handguns, he was seen conferring with the other insurrectionists. Some of the arrested insurrectionists told judges they did it because of DDT’s persuasion, mental illness, or “Foxitis” (news from the Fox network) and called on their GOP representatives and senators to protect them. 

By refusing the independent commission, Republicans lost their opportunity to control the investigation. The current select committee is still bipartisan thus far with seven Democrats and two Republicans. Four positions are still not filled. Republican leaders no longer want to investigate: McCarthy deliberately selected his five members as an act of sabotage for the probe after visiting DDT before making his picks. Unlike the Senate committee investigation, scheduled to finish by the end of the year, the House select committee has no end date and can have at least until the end of the 117th Congress—the end of 2022—to do its work.

Questions to be answered:

  • How much were DDT and his insiders aware in advance of the riot’s danger?
  • How much communications did the White House have with agencies before January 6?
  • How did these interactions affect the ways in which the agencies handled—and didn’t handle—the crisis?
  • What flaws contributed to the failure of the Capitol Police and intelligence to identify potential rioters as a threat?
  • How could they have prepared?
  • What was the security response to the insurrection on the House side of the building, not addressed because the office of the House sergeant-at-arms would not cooperate?
  • Will that office cooperate more with the House than with the Senate?

DDT, the self-identified man of “law and order,” has turned against the Capitol Police and celebrates Ashli Babbitt, an insurrectionist who was shot and killed while breaking into the Capitol. He called her a “wonderful, incredible woman” and invited her mother to his recent rally in Arizona.

During the first committee hearing, three of four participants of the insurrection—Reps. Mat Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)—plan a protest supporting domestic terrorists

DDT’s delusion that he will be returned to the White House during the current year is likely to result in continued violence from people who DDT calls a “loving crowd” and Republicans call “tourists.” 

Republicans claim they want no investigation because people need to “heal.” They’re just avoiding any bad publicity for their campaigning.

July 25, 2021

Court Rulings Support Voters, Protesters

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 4:31 PM
Tags: , , , ,

[Update on backlash to GOP attempt to save lives through COVID vaccinations: 

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), a 2024 presidential wannabe: “If you just turn [health] decisions over to a bunch of public health bureaucrats, of course, the only thing they’re going to consider is what they think is in the best interest of the public health.”

Conservatives are now accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a 2024 presidential wannabe, of accepting bribes because he flipflopped on his anti-vaccination stance and now promotes them.

Court cases are sometimes supporting people and not politicians:

In Missouri, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of voters. They passed a state constitutional amendment to adopt Medicaid expansion, but the GOP lawmakers refused to follow through. The court supported the voters’ decision, but the 275,000 newly eligible recipients will have to wait because Gov. Mike Parsons had pulled federal paperwork to enroll them. As of now, 38 states, including ones ruled by Republicans, have either expanded or are in the process of expanding Medicaid with federal aid.

In Mississippi, the state Supreme Court ruled against the people, overturning an a medical marijuana proposal passed by the voters because, according to the court, the state’s initiative process is outdated and unworkable. The court also removed the initiative process. Gov. Tate Reeves has tried to persuade the legislature to reinstate the results of the initiative. The marijuana initiative was even more popular in the state than DDT last November. 

A Minnesota court ordered police to stop blocking access to the area where anti-pipeline activists are organizing opposition to the multimillion-dollar tar sands project by the Canadian company Enbridge. Police called a driveway to the camp a “trail” not designated for vehicular traffic even to deliver food and water. Enbridge has paid over $1 million to local sheriffs’ departments. Indigenous people protest the pipeline sending 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil every day from Alberta to Wisconsin though 800 wetland habitats and violating the treat rights of Anishinaabe peoples. Energy sector employment would add 18 million jobs in under 30 years with a shift from the fossil fuel industry to renewable energy.

A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court upheld a lower court ruling supporting voter rights groups by barring Indiana’s law allowing purging of voter lists without notifying the voters. The legal fights in the state have been ongoing for four years. The purge dropped the inaccurate program Crosscheck, but a judge wrote that the most recent law violated the Voting Rights Act safeguards requiring a voter authorize the removal of their registration or following the law’s “notice-and-waiting procedures.”

A federal judge appointed by DDT has upheld the COVID vaccine mandate at Indiana University, the first ruling of its kind. Exemptions are permitted for religious objections, documented allergies to the vaccine, medical deferrals, and virtual class attendance. His decision, based on the 14th Amendment, was “in the legitimate interest of public health for its students, faculty and staff.”

An 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals panel on Friday upheld a federal judge’s May 2020 order that the state pay $452,983 in tribal voting rights. The state in February 2020 agreed to settle longstanding legal disputes with Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa members as well as the Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The crux of the tribal claims was that North Dakota’s requirement that voters have identification with a provable street address creates a voting barrier for Native Americans who live on reservations where street addresses are hard to come by.

 A federal judge blocked the new Arkansas law preventing almost all abortions until she hears the challenge to its constitutionality. The “heartbeat” law bans abortions at about six weeks before the fetus is viable. In its next session, the U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether to overturn Roe v. Wade in the Mississippi law banning abortions at 15 weeks before the fetus can survive outside the womb.

A unanimous panel of the 9th Circuit Court confirmed a lower court decision rejecting a claim against the Department of Homeland Security that DACA and other immigration policies ignore environmental impacts of greater population. Arizona AG Mark Brnovich filed a similar suit in Arizona, stating that the Biden administration will harm the environment with an influx of migrants. Two of the three judges were appointed by George W. Bush, the third by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

Frank Caporusso, who threatened the judge presiding over the Michael Flynn case, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after he pled guilty to Influencing, Impeding, or Retaliating Against a Federal Official by Threat.

At the beginning of the pandemic over a year ago, House Democrats tried to protect members’ health by proxy votes if they wished to avoid the Capitol because of from experiencing COVID symptoms, coping with an illness in their household, etc. Republicans were outraged, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) joined with 20 other members to file a federal lawsuit challenging the procedure’s constitutionality. A district court rejected the case, stating that the judiciary shouldn’t intervene in procedural rules for the legislative branch, and a three-judge panel, including a DDT appointee, for the DC Circuit Court supported the decision.

Yet Republicans, including far-right conservatives who were among the 161 House members to vote against proxy voting, took advantage of the system, including votes by proxy when they attended other events such as the Conservative Political Action Conference. Rep. Ralph Norman, one of 161 representatives who opposing the proxy system, used it to skip town for an appearance with DDT on the southern border with other representatives in late June. They certified on official letterhead that the coronavirus kept them from “physically” attending “proceedings in the House chamber.” Others use it for convenience to avoid their commute to Washington or campaign at home. McCarthy had no comment about Republicans’ behavior although he said he would end proxy voting if the GOP wins the House in 2022. The proxy voting is due to end in mid-August, and McCarthy must decide whether to object so that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will extend the emergency authority for 45 days.

First, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked, then they paid the ransom, and finally somehow they got the ransom back. Now Colonial is facing another problem: one of its customers is suing the company for lost business and hopes to be joined by hundreds of other gas station owners in the impacted dozen states. In addition, consumers forced to pay higher prices for gas are filing class-action lawsuits. San Diego-based hospital system Scripps Health also faces class-action lawsuits from an April ransomware attack. All claim law cybersecurity. Target paid $10 million to consumers and $39 million to banks after personal information was stolen from the retailer by hackers in 2013, and Home Depot settled with shoppers whose credit card information was stolen from the business’ computers.

Anti-abortion bills and laws are irrational, but Texas has come out with the craziest one thus far. It has the standard unconstitutional and idiotic “heartbeat” provision blocking abortion after six weeks of pregnancy—before most women know they are pregnant. The Supreme Court ruled states cannot restrict abortions before viability, 24 to 28 weeks, when a fetus can survive outside the womb. “Heartbeat” laws opposing abortion when electrical activity occurs in embryo’s possible later heart location, have been passed in a dozen states. Federal courts struck down laws in four of these states and temporarily blocked the laws in the remaining eight states. Similar laws in Ohio and Wyoming failed.  

In the hopes that its law cannot be overturned, Texas GOP created an insane provision that government has no ability to enforce the anti-abortion bill for the women who obtains one. Instead, the law creates a vigilante approach by assigning private citizens to sue anyone who gives support for women getting abortions, as little support as a conversation or information. All private citizens successful in winning their vigilante suits, from disapproving neighbors to abusive spouses, will receive at least $10,000 from the state, thereby putting a bounty on all suspect people or entities who even give a patient money.

Anyone except convicted felons can sue for the $10,000 without being a Texas resident. Religious counselors can even be sued. The result of the law will be thousands of frivolous lawsuits seeking the state’s reward as courts will be overwhelmed. Anyone suing may also violate the Texas constitution which mandates filing a lawsuit is available only to a “person for an injury done [to] him.”

Doctors, clergy, and clinics have joined lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood in a lawsuit to stop the ban from going into effect on September 1, 2021. It is filed against all non-federal judges with jurisdiction over civil actions in Texas, all county clerks with jurisdiction over civil suits, The Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Nursing, the Texas Board of Pharmacy, the executive commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Texas AG Ken Paxton—possibly thousands of people. The coalition has also filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. district court in Austin to overturn the law.  

July 24, 2021

The Big Lies: Anti-Vaccines, ‘Stolen Election’

As GOP politicians begin to figure out that their constituents are hospitalized and dying because Republicans have opposed vaccinations, a few lawmakers begin to advocate, sometimes reluctantly, for the COVID vaccine. House Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) announced he got his first vaccination last week, and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said “it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks” for COVID. The unvaccinated, Ivey said, are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain” and added that the unvaccinated are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.” With only one-third of Alabama adults vaccinated compared to 69 percent in the U.S., the state has a 92 percent increase in infections and 72 percent rise in hospitalizations over the past week.  

Even Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, defensively protecting lack of vaccinations in the past, presented data about the almost 100 percent of hospitalized people not receiving their shots and said “these vaccines are saving lives.” Florida is one of three states, along Texas and Missouri, currently having 40 percent of new virus infections.

 

Only 51 percent of Republicans have gotten their shots compared to 83 percent of Democrats, and Republicans are deadset against vaccinations—only 12 percent of unvaccinated Republicans saying they plan to get vaccinated. GOP pollster Frank Luntz said:

“I think [Republican politicians have] finally realized that if their people aren’t vaccinated, they’re going to get sick, and if their people aren’t vaccinated, they’re going to get blamed for COVID outbreaks in the future.”

Yet Luntz, reporting on his most recent focus group with vaccine holdouts, said he saw a shift from skepticism into complete refusal:

“The hesitation has transformed into opposition. And once you are opposed, it is very hard to change that position. And that’s what’s happening right now.”

 

GOP lawmakers have pushed anti-vaccine positions for months: downplaying the virus’ severity, refusing to be vaccinated, signing bills protecting the unvaccinated, and rolling back health mandates to protect people from COVID. Tennessee went so far as to block all outreach about any vaccinations for youth and fire the state’s top immunity official until the state changed its position after two weeks. Yet the state’s health department may not promote social media information promoting vaccinations for children. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is still praising anyone choosing against vaccinations, blaming Democrats for the GOP distrust.  

The GOP blame continued in a House news conference advertising information from Republican doctors in Congress about the increasingly common delta variant of the coronavirus. Instead of pushing vaccinations, the group complained about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and President Joe Biden hiding the origins of the COVID virus. Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) commented on vaccine “side effects” and “a personal decision.”

Trump Party (TP) leaders like QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and founder of Turning Point USA Charlie Kirk push the lie that up to 1.2 million people may have died after receiving the vaccine. Asked if she feels “any responsibility” for spreading disinformation about COVID in reference to a five-year-old’s death, Greene laughed and said, “Gee, you crack me up. You know what, I think people’s responsibility is their own.”

Praised for recommending vaccinations, Fox’s Sean Hannity: “I never told anyone to get a vaccine!”

Obstetrician Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) sticks with his anti-vaccination position. During a hearing with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, he claimed, with no evidence, that “probably zero” of the 400 youth who died of COVID had no pre-existing condition. Marshall proved he wasn’t concerned about death when he pushes hydroxychloroquine as a COVID cure. Reputable sources purport over four million children in the U.S. may have contacted the virus, and almost half of them “may have lasting symptoms.”

A few statistics on the vaccine:

Sixty-nine percent of people in the U.S. who are 18 years old have at least one vaccine shot, but rates are as low as 48.4 percent in Mississippi, 51.3 percent in Wyoming, and 54.7 percent in West Virginia.

Three states with lower vaccination rates, Florida, Texas, and Missouri, had 40 percent of all the nation’s cases. 

Over 91 million people live in US counties with high Covid-19 infections, counties with the lowest vaccination rates.

The U.S. averaged over 37,000 new cases each day for a week with the number averaging over 65,000 for the past two days.

Cases of COVID have doubled among children since late June, last week over 23,000 at 16 percent of weekly reported cases.

The vaccines are 90 percent effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, and 99.5 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths this year have been among unvaccinated people. As of July 12, CDC reported 5,492 severe infections, including 1,063 deaths, among the 159 million vaccinated people in the U.S.

Free-lance writer and lawyer Dean Obeidallah has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Fox network regarding an alleged violation of the 2020 Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act in which a corporation or individual may not “engage in a deceptive act or practice in or affecting commerce associated with the treatment, cure, prevention, mitigation, or diagnosis of COVID–19.” It is the responsibility of FTC to protect the public from false information intentionally peddled by for-profit businesses. According to Obeidallah, “people receiving accurate information about the Covid vaccines is literally a matter of life and death.” Tucker Carlson’s lies have received the most attention, but Media Matters reported “57 percent of segments [between June 28 and July 11] about coronavirus vaccines on [Fox] network included claims that undermined or downplayed vaccination efforts.” These varied between Biden’s vaccination outreach taking “freedom” to suggestions “that vaccines are unnecessary or dangerous.” For example, Laura Ingraham rates “natural immunity” over the vaccine. As Obeidallah concluded, people are “entitled to accurate information about entitled to accurate information about Covid-19 … [L]ives depend on it.”

In Arizona’s big lie about a “stolen election,” a ballot recount suffered more problems, this one from a leaky roof, before a visit by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the state today. Unlike much of the West suffering a huge drought with wildfires, Phoenix is in the midst of the monsoon season with torrential rains. Because of no maintenance at the Coliseum, a former site for the fraudulent count, fire was considered a danger. The lease there ended in May, and ballots were again moved, this time to the Wesley Bolin building, named after a governor who died after only five months in office. The building is not air-conditioned, and temperatures make the building unsuitable for summer use, this year skyrocketing to almost 120 degrees in the past few months. A former state GOP chair claimed, “No ballots are at risk,” yet experts following the “fake” audit have questioned the veracity of the secret process at every turn.

In another glitch, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, supposedly assigned as the ballot count’s “director,” cannot enter the building because he gave data to outside experts showing the recount followed “very closely” with earlier counts and recounts. It is reported that state Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican, gave the order.

Doug Logan of Cyber Ninjas, is making new demands for more information and recounting the number of ballots, not the presidential votes. Inside observers report Logan believes his own hand count missed thousands of votes and is in a desperate attempt to support his QAnon belief of the “stolen election” when he began the process over three months ago, that DDT actually won Arizona in the 2020 election instead of being short by over 10,000 votes.

Publicly, the contractors maintain that they are working on the trail to the “stolen election.” If demands are granted by a subpoena, contractors could keep searching; if they don’t get what they want, they can cry “foul.” After DDT falsely claimed that the investigation found “hundreds of thousands” of missing votes for him, one of the contractors, who invented some of the more fantastical claims, lied about fraud denying DDT of electoral college votes. Privately, however, people working on the project realize their efforts point to the conclusion that Biden won Arizona’s electoral college votes.

Delighted with the “fraudit” surrounding the big lie of the “stolen election,” Texas is considering the same path. State Rep. Steve Toth introduced the Texas Voter Confidence Act for a “forensic audit” with Republicans—the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House—to select what he called an “independent third party” to conduct the election audit. According to the proposed bill, the review focuses on votes in Texas’ 13 counties with populations over 415,000, stopping at the counties voting for DDT. In fact, DDT carried the state, and GOP senate incumbent John Cornyn was also easily victorious. Yet Biden won areas such as Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Like Arizona and other states considering the same fraudulent ballot counts, only areas voting in favor of Democrats are subject to GOP questions about “election integrity” or “voter fraud.”

Toth was clear about his intent. Asked about including smaller counties in the election review, he responded, “What’s the point? I mean, all the small counties are red.”

https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/23/politics/arizona-audit-politicians-invs/index.html     Candidates running on the “stolen election” big lie have the same evidence-free opinion as Oklahoma pastor Jackson Lahmeyer: “Who could possibly believe the idea there were 80 million votes for Joe Biden?” And who would believe that conservatives would define “freedom” as being hospitalized, having long-term physical and mental effects, and dying from COVID.

July 20, 2021

COVID: A Plague of Unvaccinateds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 19, 2021

Congress, Courts behind U.S. Rights

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

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

Congress:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Courts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 17, 2021

Democracy at Risk in Voting Supression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2021

COVID, A Republican Disease

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 7, 2021

Political Grifting, Disasters from Florida, NYC

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

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

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

Five years ago, DDT bragged:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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