Nel's New Day

August 29, 2021

Afghanistan: Three More Days

With the deadline to complete withdrawal on August 31, the evacuation brought about 112,000 people in its first two weeks. The 5,400 evacuated U.S. citizens leaves about 350 U.S. citizens still trying to leave the country as of yesterday although some of them may have gotten out. Another 280 wish to stay or haven’t told the State Department their intentions. The U.S. has begun its withdrawal from the airport in Kabul but will continue its operation there “up until the end,” according to Army Maj. Gen. William Taylor. The U.S. destroyed Eagle Base, the last CIA outpost outside the airport, to keep equipment and information from the Taliban.

The U.S. occupied Afghanistan for almost 20 years, compared to the 14 years of the Vietnam conflict. The evacuation from that conflict, 7,500 people, brought out only 1,500 U.S. citizens. Thursday, a suicide bomber from ISIS-K, a terrorist group and enemy of the Taliban, killed 13 U.S. service members, wounded 15 others, and killed approximately 170 others. After the bombing, evacuations continued. President Joe Biden had previously warned the public of attack threats and said there may be more before the evaluation deadline on August 31. 

U.S. military troops conducted an unstaffed airstrike against an ISIS-K planner and may have killed two “high-profile ISIS targets.” Another was wounded. Biden said this airstrike will not be the last and promised to “hunt down” this group that took credit for the attack outside the airport entrance. by one suicide bomber. The Taliban said it arrested two ISIS-K members but didn’t give details.

On the same day of the attack killing almost 200 people, US Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller posted a video on his Facebook page criticizing the handling of the situation. He has been relieved of command. With no solutions, Republicans—politicians, media pundits, letter-writers, etc.—have criticized Biden for the withdrawal. Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said Afghanistan should have no troops; a few days earlier he wanted to keep a military presence and Bagram Air Base. With no evidence, McCarthy claimed the U.S. could have “maintained it safely” with no casualties. McCarthy also lied when he blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for trying to defund the attempt to get more U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan.

The hawks who started the war and those who continued it returned to cable TV, complaining about the withdrawal before the U.S. “won” the war. Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s aide called the withdrawal Biden’s “stain.” John Bolton, who wants regime change around the world, called DDT and Biden “Tweedledee and Tweedledum” in their approaches. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of Afghanistan architect former VP Dick Cheney, said “the catastrophe … did not have to happen.” Neither she nor her ABC interviewer mentioned her father or his part in the “catastrophe.”

DDT’s officials who offered no objections to DDT’s agreement are now bitterly complaining about it. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who negotiated and attended the agreement signing, said this “debacle … will certainly harm America’s credibility with its friends and allies.” Pompeo turned 5,000 Taliban fighters loose from prison, and now he complains about how they “run free and wild.” DDT’s former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who quit a year before DDT’s idea of befriending the Taliban, said about his “surrender agreement,” “The Taliban didn’t defeat us. We defeated ourselves.”

According to DDT’s deal, signed on February 29, 2020, the U.S. and NATO were to release 5,000 Taliban fighters from prison, reduce military members from 14,000 to 8,600 within 100 days, and leave five military bases. The remainder of the troops would be gone within the next nine months. A U.S. inspector general report summarized DDT’s deal:

“The Taliban views the negotiations as a necessary step to ensure the removal of U.S. and other foreign troops under the U.S.-Taliban agreement, but the Taliban likely does not perceive that it has any obligation to make substantive concessions or compromises.”

Ironically, the same Republicans who whine about how Biden has failed to get refugees out of Afghanistan then scream about not wanting any of them in the U.S. Tucker Carlson leads the pack in claiming Democrats want these “criminals” in the U.S. to vote for their party.

DDT made a campaign promise to take the U.S. out of Afghanistan and started withdrawing thousands of troops. His defense secretary Mark Esper was fired after he disagreed with DDT’s actions. Esper now says that DDT’s withdrawals at that time contributed to current problems in Afghanistan. Despite his promises, DDT lost the election, but by the time Biden was inaugurated, only 3,500 service members remained in Afghanistan. With no leverage, Biden decided to pull the rest of the troops from the country. He said his choice was to follow the deal with a short extension of time and get U.S. forces and allies out safely or replace the troops to continue the participation “in another country’s civil conflict.” The Taliban has not attacked the U.S. during Biden’s withdrawal.

Former Secretary of State and senator Hillary Clinton has paid to charter airplanes, rescuing Afghanistan’s vulnerable women and children. In contrast, wealthy mercenary Erik Prince, brother of DDT’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is charging $6,500 for flights out of Afghanistan—per person. He charges extra to get them from their homes to the airport.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) keeps delivering his opinions even without wide-spread social media. A few days before the anniversary of the 9/11 attack that George W. Bush used to make himself important, DDT, who declared he defeated “100%” of ISIS, said on the far-right Hugh Hewitt radio program:

“We took out the founder of ISIS, [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi, and then of course [Iranian military leader Qassem] Soleimani. Now just so you understand, Soleimani is bigger by many, many times than Osama bin Laden. The founder of ISIS is bigger by many, many times—al-Baghdadi—than Osama bin Laden. Osama bin Laden had one hit…”

DDT went on to say that bin Laden wasn’t a “monster.” Bess Levin pointed out bin Laden’s links to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings killing over 200 people and the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors. The “one hit” on 9/11 immediately killed 2,996 people.

Levin also explains how a difficulty in the evacuation came from DDT’s top advisor, Stephen Miller, who slowed down processing of Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Afghan interpreters, embassy staff, and other top targets for Taliban assassination. With Miller, DDT refused to follow congressional mandates for time limits and a senior coordinating official for the SIVs along with DDT’s requirement of the “human resources” employer letter. Miller now says no Afghan refugees should enter the U.S. DDT’s agreement with the Taliban also has no method of enforcement, no denunciation of al-Qaeda terrorists, and no demand for the Taliban to stop attacks against Afghan security forces.

The U.S. could have left Afghanistan almost 20 years ago if George W. Bush had taken the unconditional surrender offer from the Taliban. On December 5, 2001, they said they would disband and disarm with no military force. Bush ignored their offer and attacked the Taliban throughout his two terms. Within ten days of taking office on January 20, 2001, Bush also formalized a decision to preemptively invade Iraq—months before 9/11. The goal was access to Iraqi oil and a pipeline right-of-way through Afghanistan for the Unocal Corporation.

Bush ignored another offer from the Taliban in late 2000 to assassinate or surrender Osama bin Laden after the bombing of the USS Cole. The Bush administration refused the offer four times before 9/11 and a fifth time on 9/16. George W. wanted his “war on terrorism” for the pipeline. On November 27, 2001, Bush ordered his defense department to plan the Iraqi invasion, eleven months before Congress authorized it.

The U.S. has failed in the Middle East. Oil companies from Egypt, Italy, Japan, France, Austria, the UK, Canada, Hungary, India, Norway, Russia, and China dwarf the few from the U.S. The U.S. has no oil pipeline in Afghanistan, which boils with violence. U.S. journalist Anand Gopal tells the story in his 2014 book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes.

The editors of Commonweal wrote about the “unwinnable war”:

“For Americans, it cost thousands of lives and more than $2 trillion. But the toll for Afghans was far worse: there the war meant not only occupation by a foreign power, but also constant political instability, corruption, drone strikes, civilian deaths, starvation, and displacement… Even Afghans who despise the Taliban may care less about who rules in Kabul than whether they can travel to work, plow a field, or attend a wedding without the constant fear of being shot at or bombed. ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ is heroic, but ‘Give them liberty or give them death’ is obscene.”

In mid-August when the Taliban took over Afghanistan and the withdrawal began, almost two-thirds of people in the U.S. believed the conflict was not worth fighting. Even 57 percent of Republicans saw it as not worthwhile. Another two-thirds of respondents stated the Iraq War that coincided with Afghanistan was a mistake. As usual, however, Republicans in Congress ignore their constituents’ opinions. One of the reasons? Making money from defense contractors’ donations and businesses.

August 27, 2021

Noted Journalist Ezra Klein on the Afghanistan Blame Game

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 11:45 PM
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“Let’s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew from Afghanistan Was the Problem”

Republicans are attempting to use issues of the Afghanistan withdrawal to impeach President Joe Biden–even possibly get him out of his office through the 25th Amendment by declaring him mentally incompetent. Ezra Klein has this thoughtful perspective on the current blame game pointed at Biden. 

In 2005, two of my colleagues at The American Prospect, Sam Rosenfeld and Matt Yglesias, wrote an essay I think about often. It was called “The Incompetence Dodge,” and it argued that American policymakers and pundits routinely try to rescue the reputation of bad ideas by attributing their failure to poor execution. At the time, they were writing about the liberal hawks who were blaming the catastrophe of the Iraq war on the Bush administration’s maladministration rather than rethinking the enterprise in its totality. But the same dynamic suffuses the recriminations over the Afghanistan withdrawal.

To state the obvious: There was no good way to lose Afghanistan to the Taliban. A better withdrawal was possible — and our stingy, chaotic visa process was unforgivable — but so was a worse one. Either way, there was no hope of an end to the war that didn’t reveal our decades of folly, no matter how deeply America’s belief in its own enduring innocence demanded one. That is the reckoning that lies beneath events that are still unfolding, and much of the cable news conversation is a frenzied, bipartisan effort to avoid it.

Focusing on the execution of the withdrawal is giving virtually everyone who insisted we could remake Afghanistan the opportunity to obscure their failures by pretending to believe in the possibility of a graceful departure. It’s also obscuring the true alternative to withdrawal: endless occupation. But what our ignominious exit really reflects is the failure of America’s foreign policy establishment at both prediction and policymaking in Afghanistan.

“The pro-war crowd sees this as a mechanism by which they can absolve themselves of an accounting for the last 20 years,” Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, told me. “Just think about the epic size of this policy failure. Twenty years of training. More than $2 trillion worth of expenditure. For almost nothing. It is heartbreaking to watch these images, but it is equally heartbreaking to think about all of the effort, of lives and money we wasted in pursuit of a goal that was illusory.”

Emma Ashford, a senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, phrased it well: “There’s no denying America is the most powerful country in the world, but what we’ve seen over and over in recent decades is we cannot turn that into the outcomes we want. Whether it’s Afghanistan or Libya or sanctions on Russia and Venezuela, we don’t get the policy outcomes we want, and I think that’s because we overreach — we assume that because we are very powerful, we can achieve things that are unachievable.”

It is worth considering some counterfactuals for how our occupation could have ended. Imagine that the Biden administration, believing the Afghan government hollow, ignored President Ashraf Ghani’s pleas and began rapidly withdrawing personnel and power months ago. The vote of no-confidence ripples through Afghan politics, demoralizing the existing government and emboldening the Taliban. Those who didn’t know which side to choose, who were waiting for a signal of who held power, quickly cut deals with the Taliban. As the last U.S. troops leave, the Taliban overwhelms the country, and the Biden administration is blamed, reasonably, for speeding their victory.

Another possible scenario was suggested to me by Grant Gordon, a political scientist who works on conflict and refugee crises (and is, I should say, an old friend): If the Biden administration had pulled our allies and personnel out more efficiently, that might have unleashed the Taliban to massacre their opposition, as America and the world would have been insulated and perhaps uninterested in the aftermath. There have been revenge killings, but it has not devolved, at least as of yet, into all-out slaughter, and that may be because the American withdrawal has been messy and partial and the Taliban fears re-engagement. “What is clearly a debacle from one angle may actually have generated restraint,” Gordon told me. “Having spent time in places like this, I think people lack a real imagination for how bad these conflicts can get.”

Let me offer one more: Even though few believed Ghani’s government would prevail in our absence, and the Trump administration cut them out of its deal with the Taliban, there’s widespread disappointment that the government we supported collapsed so quickly. Biden has been particularly unsparing in his descriptions of the Afghan Army’s abdication, and I agree with those who say he’s been unfair, underestimating the courage and sacrifice shown by Afghan troops throughout the war. But put that aside: Americans might have felt better seeing our allies in Afghanistan put up a longer fight, even if the Taliban emerged victorious. But would a multiyear civil war have been better for the Afghans caught in the crossfire?

Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, put it simply: “I think there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance, and smart people are struggling with how to rationalize defeat. Because that’s what we have here in Afghanistan — a defeat.”

I will not pretend that I know how we should have left Afghanistan. But neither do a lot of people dominating the airwaves right now. And the confident pronouncements to the contrary over the past two weeks leave me worried that America has learned little. We are still holding not just to the illusion of our control, but to the illusion of our knowledge…

“Look at the countries in which the war on terror has been waged,” Ben Rhodes, who served as a top foreign policy adviser to President Barack Obama, told me. “Afghanistan. Iraq. Yemen. Somalia. Libya. Every one of those countries is worse off today in some fashion. The evidentiary basis for the idea that American military intervention leads inexorably to improved material circumstances is simply not there.”

…Initially, the war in Afghanistan was as broadly supported and bipartisan as anything in American politics has ever been. That made it hard to question, and it has made it harder to end. The same is true of the assumptions lying beneath it, and much else in our foreign policy — that America is always a good actor; that we understand enough about the rest of the world, and about ourselves, to remake it in our image; that humanitarianism and militarism are easily grafted together.

The tragedy of humanitarian intervention as a foreign policy philosophy is that it binds our compassion to our delusions of military mastery. We awaken to the suffering of others when we fear those who rule them or hide among them, and in this way our desire for security finds union with our desire for decency. Or we awaken to the suffering of others when they face a massacre of such immediacy that we are forced to confront our passivity and to ask what inaction would mean for our souls and self-image. In both cases, we awaken with a gun in our hands, or perhaps we awaken because we have a gun in our hands.

To many, America’s pretensions of humanitarian motivation were always suspect. There are vicious regimes America does nothing to stop. There are vicious regimes America finances directly. It is callous to suggest that the only suffering we bear responsibility for is the suffering inflicted by our withdrawal. Our wars and drone strikes and tactical raids and the resulting geopolitical chaos directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis.

This is the deep lacuna in America’s foreign policy conversation: The American foreign policy establishment obsesses over the harms caused by our absence or withdrawal. But there’s no similar culpability for the harms we commit or that our presence creates. We are much quicker to blame ourselves for what we don’t do than what we do.

My heart breaks for the suffering we will leave behind in Afghanistan. But we do not know how to fix Afghanistan. We failed in that effort so completely that we ended up strengthening the Taliban. We should do all we can to bring American citizens and allies home. But if we truly care about educating girls worldwide, we know how to build schools and finance education. If we truly care about protecting those who fear tyranny, we know how to issue visas and admit refugees. If we truly care about the suffering of others, there is so much we could do. Only 1 percent of the residents of poor countries are vaccinated against the coronavirus. We could change that. More than 400,000 people die from malaria each year. We could change that, too.

“I want America more forward-deployed, but I want it through a massive international financing arm and a massive renewable energy arm,” Senator Murphy told me. “That’s the United States I want to see spread across the world — not the face of America today that’s by and large arms sales, military trainers and brigades.”

The choice we face is not between isolationism and militarism. We are not powerful enough to achieve the unachievable. But we are powerful enough to do far more good, and far less harm, than we do now.

August 20, 2021

GOP: Killing Children—and Others

While many U.S. governors are trying to save student lives while keeping schools open, a few GOP governors, some of them considering a run for president, have banned health protections for their youngest and most vulnerable constituents. Eleven states mandate masks in schools, five states ban mask mandates with a sixth starting a ban on September 29, and the other 33 states permit local officials to make the decision. School board members say they don’t want to see young people die; governors claim wearing masks stifles learning.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is blackmailing schools into refusing mask mandates. Using $163 million of COVID relief funds, he promises $1,800 per student in all schools with no mask requirements and staying open through outbreaks no matter how serious these are. All money goes to schools willing to kill their students.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has a good reason for supporting the emergency treatment REGEN-COV, a monoclonal antibody therapy costing the government $1,000, instead of the preventative vaccination, costing taxpayers $25: his #1 political donor, hedge fund Citadel’s DEO Ken Griffin, has almost $16 million in Regeneron Pharmaceutical. DeSantis’ political committee got $10.75 from Griffin. The governor downplays vaccinations while traveling his state promoting REGEN-COV and announcing huge centers where they are available.

Furious because AP journalist Brendan Farrington wrote about DeSantis’ push for treatment while downplaying vaccinations, DeSantis’ press secretary Christian Pushaw lashed out at Farrington. He is now getting death threats. Pushaw warned AP and Farrington of consequences if they didn’t change the factual headline, “DeSantis top donor invests in COVID drug governor promotes.” Before the deadline to change the headline—which didn’t happen—Pushaw urged people to “drag” Farrington.

Backing up the governor, Florida’s board of education voted to punish Alachua and Broward county school districts for mandating masks because Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibit all school districts from any mask requirements. The agency threatens loss of state funds and firing of officials, but further investigation is necessary before any penalties, claiming the issue has nothing to do with what was “good or bad,” just that schools had to follow “the rules.” The school leaders said they were legally responsible for protecting students and staff. After the state agency attacked these two school districts, three more joined them in mandating masks, opposing DeSantis’ ban.

For weeks, Florida has consistently produced at least 20 percent of the rapidly growing number of new COVID infections, many of them among youth, with the highest COVID rate in daily testing, infections, and deaths among the states. In the Hillsborough County Public Schools, including Tampa, 10,384 students and 338 staff members were either in isolation because of a positive test or in quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who tested positive as of two days ago. A little over one week into the opening of schools, 4.8 percent of the 214,791 students were affected as are 1.4 percent of all employees. A scheduled emergency meeting in Hillsborough County, days after several educators in Broward County died of covid-19 within a 24-hour period, voted a mask mandate.  One high school students at the meeting said to the anti-maskers, “This tiny piece of cloth is not taking away your freedom. Grow up.” 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott seems to be failing in his order to ban schools from mask mandates: the state board of education won’t enforce his prohibition, and the State Supreme Court’s new ruling reversing an earlier one permits school districts to require masks. Both rulings are temporary, but the Texas Education Agency will also require schools to notify the local health department of students’ positive tests as well as tell students in the same classroom and shared extracurricular activities about positive testing, contrary to Abbott’s order. Seven counties and 48 school districts defied the governor’s ban on mask mandates. Daily cases in Texas increased 37 percent in the past two weeks; 829 students and 872 school staff members tested positive for the virus as of August 8.

The Paris Independent School District in northeast Texas fights Gov. Greg Abbott’s order banning mask mandates by making masks part of the students’ and employees’ dress codes “to mitigate communicable health issues. According to the district statement:

“The Texas Governor does not have the authority to usurp the Board of Trustees’ exclusive power and duty to govern and oversee the management of the public schools of the district. Nothing in the Governor’s Executive Order 38 states he has suspended Chapter 11 of the Texas Education Code, and therefore the Board has elected to amend its dress code consistent with its statutory authority.”

Abbott lost some of his credibility by contracting COVID and then demanding expensive treatment after he was vaccinated. An expert on COVID, Dr. Vin Gupta, tweeted that Abbott’s immediately obtaining the monoclonal antibody therapy (REGEN-COV) despite being vaccinated and asymptomatic “shows just how anxious and scared [Abbott] actually is of a virus he constantly downplays.” Another of Abbott’s solution Abbott to care for the Texas surge of coronavirus cases is his request for five FEMA morgue trailers because of limited access for bodies otherwise.

In Tennessee, however, Nashville DA Glenn Funk refuses to prosecute any teacher or school official, refusing the order from Gov. Bill Lee to not mandates masks.

Another source of bad medical information comes from Fox network. Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt told the viewing audience that REGEN-COV is the same as “getting vaccinated.” The treatment is used only when people become ill and takes medical care from people who need it—i.e., those with heart attacks, strokes cancers, injuries from serious accidents, etc. People complain that vaccinations haven’t received final FDA approval, but the FDA has not given REGEN-COV final approval. A tweet in response to Earhardt:

“I find it ironic they are so willing to take antibodies harvested from a genetically engineered hybrid mouse spleen, but unwilling to get vaccinated.”

Another question for Earhardt could be how many Regeneron shares she has, like DeSantis’ donor.

Earhardt’s co-host Brian Kilmeade also seemed to express approval for how easily and cheaply people can get knock-off vaccination cards so they can go out and entertain themselves in crowds. That was immediately after they talked about Abbott’s COVID infection.   

In more Fox disinformation, Will Cain, another Fox & Friends host,told his audience “natural immunity is better than vaccine immunity” and people who have had COVID don’t need a vaccine. His employer, however, requires either vaccinations or weekly testing.

A new frightening problem worsened by Fox comes from their disinformation about taking Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug used for horse and cattle deworming. People who don’t want to put what they see as the toxic vaccine into their body are poisoning themselves with hydroxychloroquine and animal medicine because of deadly advice from Fox, DDT, social media, and politicians. Recommendations for Ivermetin have appeared on shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), known for his disinformation in several issue has promoted the medication for COVID treatment.

A pre-print study put on the Research Square website in November recommended Invermectin but was pulled for alleged plagiarism and calculated data points “mathematically impossible,” according to the Guardian. People submit studies to the site before they are peer-reviewed and accepted by a journal. for alleged plagiarism.  

Mississippi health officials warn residents against using ingesting after 70 percent of their calls to the state Poison Control Center concern Ivermectin. Until now, 85 percent have reported “mild symptoms”: possible symptoms of invermetcin in humans are rash, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, neurologic disorders, and sometimes severe hepatitis. The state has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the nation, third in the greatest number of deaths per capita, and a serious increase in virus cases. The FDA reports “multiple reports of patients who have required medical support and been hospitalized after self-medicating with Ivermectin intended for horses.”

According to a Yale study, the bans on mask and vaccination policies by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott caused 4,700 unnecessary deaths, DeSantis 2,800 and Abbott 1,900. With only half Texas nursing home staff members vaccinated, the number of places with at least one new COVID case skyrocketed 800 percent in the past month. DeSantis is forcing students back into unsafe schools, for example the 204 infections during the first few days of school in Pinellas County.

Five of the Northeastern states—Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island—have the highest rates of vaccinations and are in the seven with the lowest number of new cases from the delta variant. Florida and Texas, however, are topping the charts with new infections. Florida had 39,000 unnecessary hospitalizations and 2,806 more deaths than if DeSantis had followed public health policies. People living in the ten states with the lowest vaccination rates, below 41 percent of the population fully vaccinated, are almost four times higher to be hospitalized and 5.5 times more likely to die. These ten states: from ranking of 41 to 50: Oklahoma, North Dakota, Tennessee, Georgia, West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Idaho. Wyoming, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) may be anti-mask, but his properties aren’t. People must wear masks in the Miami Trump International hotel in all public places, and employees and vendors must wear masks while at the hotel. The same mask mandate goes for properties with his name in Las Vegas and Waikiki. The expensive private school where Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) children attend requires masks while Cruz repeatedly opposes wearing them.  

August 17, 2021

Afghanistan–20 Years of Lies, Failure

While Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was in the White House, he arranged a peace agreement with the Taliban and arranged for 5,000 of their fighters to be released from prison with no involvement from the Afghan government. Now he watches television—as usual—and lambasts President Joe Biden who, DDT said, “ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him.” Four months ago, DDT lauded Biden’s withdrawal plan as “wonderful” and “positive” although he wanted Biden to leave before September 11. Three weeks ago, DDT took credit for the exit at a rally in Ohio.

DDT negotiated a peace treaty with the Taliban and agreed to withdraw all U.S. troops by May 1 if the terrorist group agreed to stop attacking U.S. troops. Afghans were not included in the negotiation, and the Taliban assassinated Afghanistan leaders while not killing any U.S. soldiers until after the deal was signed. Funded by foreign investors, the Taliban took over two-thirds of Afghanistan. 

Almost 20 years ago, the 9/11 hijacking of U.S. jetliners and attacks in the U.S. by a majority of Saudi Arabians, including the Twin Towers, was blamed on al-Qaeda, and the U.S. attacked Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and kill Osama bin Laden although Bush made little effort to catch the man blamed for the 9/11 attack. The Taliban retreated into rural Afghanistan, and George W. Bush soon declared “Mission Accomplished,” continuing the 20-year-old war in a nation with corrupt, incompetent leadership. Bin Laden and other Taliban leaders settled in Pakistan, and the U.S. refused an unconditional surrender in December 2001. Instead Bush moved toward nation-building in Afghanistan, complete with waste, fraud, and confusion. The Taliban regrouped, and the U.S. ignored Afghan traditions by centralizing the government. U.S. resources then poured into Iraq for a war based on U.S. government lies about “weapons of mass destruction.”

Despite the Osama bin Laden’s killing in 2011 and a timeline to withdraw troops in 2014, Afghan relationships with the U.S. continued to deteriorate especially after U.S. troops maltreatment of Afghans, for example, filming of U.S. Marines urinating on dead Afghans and accusations of Qurans burned at a military base. The Taliban ceased talks after a soldier allegedly shot and killed 17 Afghans, mostly women and children.

An RNC statement from its 2020 campaign, now removed, accused Biden of “a history for pushing for endless wars” and praised DDT for leading historic “peace talks” with the Taliban. DDT’s withdrawal plan, “the best path” for the U.S. was a Fox News commentary on the RNC press release that disappeared. No praise, however, for Biden’s withdrawal which followed DDT’s plan.

A month ago, former Secretary of State and presidential wannabe Mike Pompeo announced he wanted to “applaud” the withdrawal, stating, “I want the Afghans to take up the fight for themselves.” Pompeo took a personal role in DDT’s Taliban deal, directly talking twice with Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban cofounder and Afghanistan’s new de facto leader. Baradar, co-Taliban co-founder in the mid-1990s, was captured in 2010 but released in 2018 at DDT’s request, despite he Afghan’s opposition, so Baradar could lead DDT’s peace agreement, essential the U.S. surrender to the Taliban. In 2020, Baradar was the first Taliban leader to speak directly with a U.S. president when he talked with DDT on the phone after signing the initial agreement.

Pompeo, who tweeted this photo of himself with Baradar, now calls the withdrawal “weak American leadership”; President Joe Biden was essential following DDT’s and Pompeo’s pattern for pulling out of Afghanistan. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace had hard questions for Pompeo, including whether he regretted “pressing the Afghan government to release 5,000 prisoners, which they did, some of whom are now back on the battlefield fighting with the Taliban.” Pompeo claims Biden should “crush those Taliban” after signing a deal with them. Asked about DDT’s administration “giving the Taliban legitimacy,” the former deal-maker attacked “corrupt” Afghan leaders who only wanted money and claimed he and DDT “never trusted the Taliban.” Now Pompeo calls the Taliban “butchers.”

Republicans cheered George W. Bush’s Afghanistan war and endorsed withdrawal during DDT’s term. In cognitive dissonance, the GOP now condemns Biden, blames his administration for Afghan conditions, supports DDT’s position, and avoids a position on the war.

Biden announced the U.S. military would be withdrawing from Afghanistan five weeks ago; today the Taliban took over the country’s capital, Kabul, after taking over almost every major city in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani fled to Tajikistan. The U.S. increased the number of service members from 2,500 to over 5,000 in an effort to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen blocked the Taliban from accessing Afghan’s billions of dollars in U.S. bank accounts.

In Afghanistan, 2,448 U.S. military members and personnel have been killed and another 20,722 wounded out of than 775,000 deployed military members. Evaluation of the mission’s cost varies between $1 trillion and $4 trillion with multiple trillions of dollars in the companion war in Iraq. By July 2021, 73 percent of people in the U.S. supported withdrawal. The U.S. began withdrawal, and the Afghan military disappeared, leaving the country to the Taliban.

An Afghanistan veteran, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), opposed the withdrawal but tweeted:

“Do not let my party preten[d] to be outraged by this. Both the [Republicans] and [Democrats] failed here. Time for Americans to put their country over their party.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert, GOP QAnon believer from Colorado’s Grand Junction area, tweeted, “The Taliban are the only people building back better.” Tucker Carlson accused the Taliban takeover of its reaction to U.S. “radical gender politics.”  In part of his rant, Carlson complained:   

“Thanks to American-imposed gender quotas, dozens of women ultimately were installed as representatives in Afghan’s parliament. [T]he whole thing was a sham, as always.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) suggested Biden is “paying the Taliban … with weapons, vehicles, Blackhawk helicopters because the Afghan army is handing them over as fast as possible.” She’s right about the Afghans turning over these weapons to the Taliban, but not about that being Biden’s intention. Told that the Afghan was not protecting the country, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), with no evidence, said, “What a bunch of crap!”

While Republicans damn Democrats for not saving Afghan refugees, they bitterly oppose any refugees being brought to the U.S., claiming that the Democrats only want the votes of these “criminals.”

U.S. allies don’t agree with the GOP’s smearing Biden to score points for the next election. The UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace said DDT’s “rushed” deal with the Taliban omitting any involvement from the Afghan government or the international community set up the disaster. Wallace said, “The die was cast when the deal was done by Donald Trump.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg blames Afghan leaders for the government’s collapse because of the refusal to stand up to the Taliban. He follows Biden’s assessment that “what [the U.S.] could not provide [the Afghan forces] was the will to fight for their future.” About 800 NATO civilian personnel are still in Afghanistan for air traffic control and provision of fuel and communication.

Most pundits prefer to write about “who lost Afghanistan,” but Katrina vanden Heuvel addresses how the U.S. got into the seemingly never-ending war. After a few months of defeating al-Qaeda and finding Osama bin Laden, George W. Bush shifted his focus to nation-building to build his importance. Never mind the ignorance of people attempting this effort. Corruption included incompetence, lack of motivation, theft, and drug trade from both U.S. and Afghan military leaders. Every year, inspector generals reported the “war” as a failure. Commanders exaggerated the positive numbers and erased bad ones. Craig Whitlock reported on “explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public” and the distortion of statistics “to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.”

Afghans took bribes to move to the Taliban as soon as the U.S. left gone. After DDT’s deal with the Taliban, Taliban leaders offered money for U.S.-provided weapons and a future of surrenders.  Susannah George writes about the steps leading up to Taliban fighters walking into Kabul, the capital, with no resistance.

Despite the trillions of dollars lost by taxpayers and the ever-ending pain of anyone involved in Afghanistan, stockholders greatly benefited from the 20-year failure. An investment of $10,000 in stock with the U.S. top five defense contractors on September 18, 2001, if consistently reinvested, would now be worth $97,295. These stocks outperformed the stock marked by 58 percent during the past two decades. These contractors are Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. All but Boeing got their money from the U.S. government. 

George W. Bush, who gave the Taliban over $5 million in May 2021, started the 20-year war, and supported torture, gets to view the events in Afghanistan “with deep sadness” and wish Biden, who got stuck with the buck, would move more quickly to evacuate people. DDT, who bragged in June about setting the withdrawal, now calls on Biden to “resign in disgrace.” And Afghanistan diverts the media from climate warming, voting suppression, COVID, and other disasters directly affecting the United States.

August 14, 2021

Diversity of Census, Cult of DDT

No matter how hard Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tried to keep racial and ethnic minorities from responding to the census, the final result reflects an increasing diversity. The two most important reasons for the census every ten years are voting districts and federal funding of $675 billion to state and local governments. DDT tried to block minorities being counted through questions about undocumented immigrants and delays in the process. Despite the lies DDT’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told during his testimony before Congress, according to the Supreme Court, and the problems created by the pandemic, census takers proceeded to go door to door where people had not submitted their census forms.   

Results about the 2020 census released on Thursday, August 12:

The United States is more diverse and more multiracial than ever before with the percentage of White people shrinking for the first time in census-taking history. People of color represented 43 percent of the U.S. population, up from 34 percent in 2010, with non-Hispanic Whites dropping to 57 percent. The share of Hispanic, Latino, or multiracial grew the most.

The total population grew from about 308.7 million in 2010 to 331.4 million, a 7.35 percent increase. It is the slowest population growth since 1930-1940, dominated by the Great Depression.

The number of adults grew from 237 million in 2010 to 261 million in 2020, an increase in the share of the adult population from 76 percent to 78 percent. With the decrease of those under 18-years-old, Whites now make up only 47 percent of that age group, down from 53 percent in 2010.

In every state, the percentage of Whites dropped, and large cities are becoming majority people of color. Population growth in metro areas during the past decade grew 8.7 percent since 2010. Over half of the nation’s 3,183 counties lost population in the last decade with counties under 50,000 residents most likely to lose.

Washington was the most changed state, its non-Hispanic White population dropping 8.7 percent since 2010, but Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Nevada also had declines over 8 percent. The White states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and West Virginia dropped below 90 percent White; only Maine stayed over 90 percent non-Hispanic White.

Non-Hispanic Whites are now the minority in seven states and territories — California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. In California, that percentage dropped to 34.7 percent, meaning the non-Hispanic White population in the state is almost down to one-third.

The shifting population means 13 states would gain or lost seats in the House of Representatives, thus needing to redraw boundaries. Changes:

  • States gaining seats: Texas (2), North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Montana, and Colorado.
  • States losing seats: New York, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Michigan, and West Virginia.

Niall Stanage, editor of the conservative Hill, writes about how the census may “fan the flames of nativism” (aka white supremacy) in U.S. politics, “a fire that … has burned brightly since former President Trump began his 2016 campaign with a speech maligning many immigrants.” According to Stanage, the census may support the far-right argument “that white Americans are under siege, their culture under threat from the rising numbers of immigrants and people of color.” Conservatives spread the myth that a majority non-white population will “take revenge on white people.”

The changing racial makeup of the U.S. may contribute to conservatives’ fascination with Hungary’s authoritarian rule under Viktor Orbán. Immigration, however, may not be responsible for the shrinking number of Whites. One demographer attributed the change to the opioid epidemic and the lower birthrates among millennials since George W. Bush’s Great Recession. Other reasons may come from economic hopelessness and affluence.

You can find changing demographics for where you live on this interactive map.

Meanwhile, news about the cult of DDT continues, with a rally on September 16 demanding “justice” for the January 6 insurrectionists facing prison time. Multiple people, including law enforcement, died, and another 140 police officers were wounded. Leader of the debacle is DDT’s campaign data person Matt Braynard who extolls the “American heroes” perpetrating the violent treasonous attempt to overturn the election of President Joe Biden. Braynard had raised over $700,000 in his search for “voter fraud” and was paid for helping Rudy Giuliani spread false claims about the election. 

One definition of a cult is that members cannot police their own. While sexual-assaulter DDT has escaped any charges for his crimes, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned after the report about his sexual attacks. He denied them, but Democrats, his own party, have forced him out. On the other hand, Republicans chose to exonerate DDT during his impeachment trials—twice—despite his obvious guilt. Yet DDT, a possible sex-offender, called on “loser” Cuomo to resign while Republicans ignore claims of sexual impropriety of a number of GOP officials such as Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) as well as the Republican Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Damon Linker writes:

“The GOP has adopted an ethos of merciless bellicosity. Fighting is what counts and what gets rewarded. Sacrificing for the sake of principle is denigrated and dismissed. To resign is to give up power voluntarily. It’s therefore a choice reserved only for suckers and chumps.

“Add in the cult of personality that has accompanied this shift in moral orientation and we’re left with a party overwhelmingly predisposed to forgive transgressions of the most charismatic and politically potent members of the team. Not even overwhelming evidence of treasonous acts, and certainly not accusations of sexual misconduct and violence, is sufficient to get large numbers of Republican voters to turn on their own.

“That makes the GOP America’s party of political shamelessness. One wonders if Andrew Cuomo sometimes wishes he were a Republican.” 

Judges also continue to reject the GOP myth of a “stolen election.”  A federal judge denied appeals from DDT’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pro-DDT attorney Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to dismiss Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuits against them. Lawsuits for $1.3 billion each fight the claims that Dominion rigged the 2020 presidential election for Biden. Dominion is also suing Newsmax, One America News Network (OAN), and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, the first two for airing false reports about Dominion switching votes from DDT to Biden and Byrne for his “stolen” election conspiracy theories. Each lawsuit is for over $1.6 billion.

Part of Dominion’s lawsuit against OAN concerns a segment from “expert mathematician” Ed Solomon who claims he discovered evidence of an algorithm-rigged result within precinct-level reporting. His prediction of this occurrence was “an exponent so large there’s not enough stars in the universe—there’s not enough atoms in the universe to explain the number.” An odd response for a mathematician, but Solomon is a convicted drug dealer serving two years in prison who had a job installing swing sets when he was interviewed. His math expertise comes from a few math classes at Stony Brook University between 2008 and 2015 with no degree. Actual experts found that different precincts can logically have the same vote shares at different times in different parts of the county.

The source of Solomon’s purported information is not known although he said he used “data from the NYT feed from PA on November fourth” and the link to the “original data sets” is dead. After Dominion demanded retractions to Solomon’s statements, OAN removed the video and story at its website but left it on the network’s video platform, Rumble Page, with the title “Smoking Gun.” Solomon has since posted YouTube videos of his election analysis, including one almost 12 hours long about the fraudulent Maricopa County (AZ) ballot count.

Far-right media network Newsmax was on a roll in 2020 when DDT became angry with Fox network’s failure to be sufficiently conservative, but this year its ratings dropped 50 percent. One theory for its failure is that Joe Biden moved into the White House, despite the conspiracy theories spread on Newsmax, and the other that the network is “incredibly dull and incredibly boring,” according to Media Matters expert on Newsmax, Jason Campbell.  

The possible arrest of Texas Democratic lawmakers bounces back and forth among courts. A district judge ruled they won’t be arrested for missing a special session focusing on anti-voting bills, but the state Supreme Court overturned the decision. Texas law enforcement was deputized this week to find missing Democrats and haul then off to the state Capitol. The Texas Senate chamber doors are locked, lawmakers must appear daily, and then must obtain permission slips each day to leave. Gov. Gregg Abbott wants a quorum for the GOP majority to push through punitive laws keeping minorities and low-income people from voting. Arrest merely means being forced to be present for the voting. Democrats plan to request a temporary injunction on August 20, in a quest for protection.

Yesterday’s “Reinstatement Day” came and went without DDT’s “reinstatement” in the Oval Office. But did he get out his Sharpies? In an odd coincidence, yesterday was also National Kool-Aid Day. August 13, which fell on a Friday, is the fourth failed reinstatement day after January 20 when Biden was inaugurated, March 4 when QAnon conspiracies believed was Inauguration Day, and June 23. 

August 13, 2021

GOP Promotes COVID, Commit Voter Fraud

When Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was in the White House, he had no ventilators to send states. The “cupboards” were empty because of President Obama, he said, although the crisis began three years after DDT was inaugurated. After DDT finally obtained supplies, he sent them primarily to GOP states or places where he could guarantee over-the-edge praise for him. Six months after Joe Biden became president, he sent 200 ventilators and 100 high-flow nasal annual kits to Florida, the state with 20 percent of all U.S. new infections, over 24,000 new Florida infections of yesterday’s over 144,000 new infections just yesterday. The U.S. now has over 37 million recorded cases and at least 635,257 deaths in under 18 months.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said he doesn’t know anything about any requests for help or any emergencies in his state, but Savannah Kelly, spokesperson for the state hospital association, said the “unprecedented level of patients” requires more ventilators. Florida hospitals reached a high of 13,435 hospital beds, over one-third more than the high on July 23, 2020, are used for COVID, including 3,112 intensive-care beds. 

Angry about school officials protecting children through mask mandates, DeSantis threatened to remove their salaries if they did. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said if DeSantis follows through the American Rescue Plan could provide salaries. DeSantis had issued an executive order preventing any public or private sector in the state from requiring mask wearing or social distancing. The threat to block salaries from officials of schools mandating masks didn’t last long: DeSantis admitted he has no control over their salaries. He could fine schools, but some school superintendents stated they are more concerned about public health than DeSantis’ GOP political agenda. To the governor’s threats, Alachua County School Superintendent Carlee Simon explained in a Washington Post op-ed

“As our school board chair has so aptly put it, better a loss of funding than a loss of lives.”

DeSantis has been named in two lawsuits for his ban of mask mandates in schools. One comes from a coalition of large counties accusing the governor of violating the state constitution requiring a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system” of public schools. The suit claims defendants “cannot legally deny … basic human needs for health and safety.” The Disability Independence legal services group is representing another group of parents protesting the withholding of state funds from schools not complying with his anti-mask mandate. A news release about the case asserted “politics do not override the ability for a child to go to school without risk of serious injury of death.”

In Texas, where Gov. Gregg Abbott issued the same ban as DeSantis, county judge ruled San Antonio and Bexar County can require masks in public schools and municipal buildings. The order lasts a few days until plaintiffs return to court for a longer extension.

Republicans’ “free market” beliefs disappeared with COVID laws. Florida prevents private businesses from requiring vaccinations for customers, and Texas has a new law blocking restaurants and bars from mandating at least one COVID vaccination for indoor diners. The law removes state licenses for any vaccination requirements. Republicans protect businesses from denying services to LGBTQ people but are outraged at any denial of service for public health. Steve Benen’s conclusion: “business owners who make choices Republicans don’t like should expect punishment. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been the most virulent perpetrator of vaccine denial. Turns out his wife, Kelley Paul, bought stock in Gilead Sciences making a drug to treat COVID-19 just as people started to die from the disease in late February 2020—and he didn’t disclose the information for 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline in the Stock Act prohibiting insider trading for federal employees. Unfortunately for Kelley Paul, the stock in the company making remdesivir is now worth about $5 per share than the purchase, but Rand Paul, a member of the Senate health committee, has told his constituents to refuse to be vaccinated. Paul attended no briefings on COVID and was the first U.S. senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The man regularly lying about COVID said he didn’t know the form wasn’t submitted. [Rand and Kelley Paul in 2017]

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) outrageous disinformation about COVID caused YouTube to suspend him for a week. That ban was joined by Twitter who suspended Rep. Marjorie Greene (R-GA) for a week after she lied about “failing” and ineffective vaccines. This is Greene’s third Twitter suspension; her current argument against vaccinations is that “we can’t live forever.”

Greene is also using her wealth to hire a lawyer in a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her mask mandate. Her choice of attorney, Chris Wiest, was earlier suspended by the Ohio and Kentucky bar associations for insider trading. Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) have joined Greene in the suit for “freedom.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is fundraising off these shirts, an ideal gift for people who have died or are hospitalized from COVID. 

According to three scholars from a Swiss university, watching Fox causes people under 65 years old to refuse vaccinations:

“Watching one additional hour of Fox News per week ‘accounts for a reduction of 0.35 to 0.76 weekly full vaccinations per 100 people’ in May and June.”

This study supports research at the beginning of the pandemic, that Fox viewers are more likely to subscribe to conspiracy theories that CDC exaggerated the virus to damage DDT. Tucker Carlson has suggested the COVID vaccine killed recipients, the government considers vaccines ineffective, and untrustworthy authority figures try to force people to take questionable vaccines. Carlson was joined by Fox’s Laura Ingraham to lambast vaccine efforts as authoritarian and promote paranoia about their dangers. Fox viewers have a greater denial level than CNN and MSNBC viewers by about 10 percentage point because of Fox programming.

The Supreme Court supported an 7th Circuit Court ruling permitting Indiana University to mandate vaccinations for students and faculty members meeting in person after Justice Amy Coney Barrett requested the students’ request for emergency relief. The case was the first challenge to a vaccine mandate.

The National Education Association has also endorsed vaccine requirements for school workers with the opinion for regular COVID testing.  American Federation of Teachers take the stance of negotiating mandates with local governments and school systems. Both groups support COVID vaccines as does Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

Landlords failed to block the renewed eviction moratorium until early October when a federal judge left it in place. The extension came after the recent COVID surge and failure of the government to distribute $44 billion of the $47 billion allotted for rental payments. The judge followed a similar ruling by the Washington, D.C. circuit court.

The U.S. has settled with Dr. Rick Bright, the whistleblower who reported DDT botched the early pandemic response, compensating him “to the fullest extent allowed by the law” with “back pay and compensatory damages.” The government removed him in April 2020 as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for his concerns about preparedness, according to Bright. He also said his ousting came became he refused to push the drug hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID.

The U.S. may have finally found a case of voting machine tampering—by a DDT-loving clerk in Grand Junction (CO). That’s Rep. Lauren Bobert’s (R-CO) district, the QAnon follower who runs a gun-promoting bar. A video depicts the conversation between an election official and a Dominion employee as the official asks about how the machine can be tampered with over the internet using the BIOS motherboard settings. During the January 6 insurrection, the clerk had made a variety of social posts about the ease of tampering with election equipment. A county clerk tweeted that someone in her office carried out a breech to prove the vulnerability of election machines.

The same DDT-loving clerk, Tina Peters, is also accused of leaking information to QAnon promoter Ron Watkins as well as filming a Dominion employee updating the election system software, according to Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The clerk’s office had ordered county staff to turn off surveillance cameras monitoring the voting equipment and left off until this month. In late May, Peters’ staff illegally permitted a man called Gerard Wood to join Dominion during an installation. The mystery many obtained footage of Dominion updating the machines, footage put on Watkins’ Telegram channel on August 2. Griswold was able to identify the place and time of the video from the footage from an image of passwords for accessing election equipment.

Peters could not be found in her office last week because she appeared on the stage at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s bogus Cyber Symposium conference where Watkins shared the data stolen from Mesa County with the entire world. Forty pieces of Mesa County’s election equipment will need to replaced, at taxpayer cost, because of the broken chain of custody. The lawyer for Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign manager is also involved.

This day in August, Friday the 13th, is when people like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell predicted DDT would be back in the White House on “Reinstatement Day.” It didn’t happen, but DHS officials worry about resulting violence because of DDT’s lies about election fraud.

August 9, 2021

Republicans Caused COVID Surge

All the COVID news from Florida is worse. A week ago, NBC reported, “The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus.” The weekend showed Florida breaking another of its records for new infections, and COVID-related hospitalizations are an all-time high. Fatalities are climbing in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis is fighting the coronavirus by blocking all methods to stop infections—“no to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions, and no [to] mandates.” He followed that by lambasting public-health officials, President Joe Biden, journalists, and immigrants. 

After officials threatened to disobey DeSantis’ order, his office threatened to withhold salaries of officials, including superintendents and school board members, who mandate masks in schools. DeSantis believes his new surges are “tolerable” and don’t need “a robust response to quell.” He blasted reporters for spreading “hysteria” about the growing number of state infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Not all Republicans, however, agree with him. Yesterday on CNN, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) disagreed with DeSantis and said, “The local officials should have control here.”

DeSantis also lost the battle with the cruise lines. A judge had ruled in favor of his banning Norwegian Cruise Lines from mandating vaccination proof if they dock in Florida. Yesterday, a federal judge issued an order that removed DeSantis’ ban, ruling that the cruise line would be “irreparably injured” by DeSantis’ policy. The cruise line argued that Florida violated the First Amendment and interferes with interstate commerce. Republicans typically tout the rights of private businesses but not with the vaccine.

Travel from 49 states in the U.S. would be banned to Florida if it were a country. Jonathan Reiner, a professor and expert on infectious diseases at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said only Botswana and the state of Louisiana had “higher” viral loads of COVID.

Some Republicans fight back by blaming the Democrats for not encouraging vaccinations. For example, Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) maintained that his party supports vaccines. He may not have heard Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) comparing vaccine mandates to segregation and calling on people in Biden’s vaccination push to be shot. She laughed when a reporter asked her if she felt responsible for deaths caused by her vaccine disinformation. [Visual – Greene laughing]

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told his state to resist the CDC guidance, saying, “They can’t arrest all of us.” He continued by claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) plans to arrest him and his staff. Paul is up for reelection in 2022.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has asked Biden to require the 1.4 million military service members to be vaccinated by waiving the federal law giving people a choice if the vaccine is not fully authorized by the FDA, an action expected by Labor Day. Last month, Biden mandated either vaccinations or frequent testing for federal employees. Over 30 percent of active-duty troops have not been vaccinated. The military requires 17 FDA authorized vaccines for a number of diseases including flu, measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, and yellow fever. The State Department and Pentagon again require indoor mask use.

Texas school districts and a non-profit group are suing Gov. Gregg Abbott for his ban on mask requirements in schools, and Dallas ISD will require masking. Other school districts are considering mandates on masks. On August 8, 254 counties had 2.7 million cases. Joining Florida with one-third of the new infection cases, Texas is in such bad shape that Abbott asked hospitals to delay nonessential procedures and requested medical care from other states.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has also banned mask requirements in schools despite outrage from physicians who wrote Ducey:

“Your prohibition on mask requirements means no Arizona school can provide a safe learning environment,” the group of over 150 doctors wrote. “Each and every one of our students and their educators deserve better.”

A major excuse for vaccine denial is that vaccinated people have breakthroughs, yet only 0.01 percent of fully-vaccinated people have suffered hospitalization or death. That’s 1,507 deaths and 7,101 hospitalizations out of the over 164 million people vaccinated against COVID.

Vaccinations radically slowed down after two-thirds of the population, desperate to receive them, managed to get the shots. After that, vaccine deniers, still known in the media as “skeptics” or “doubters,” took over through conservative and social media. They weren’t even persuaded by the diversity of bribes to protect themselves and others. Worldometer puts the number of infections at over 36 million, today’s new cases at 102,375. Deaths are over 633,000 in the U.S.

Men exhibit more reluctance to protecting themselves and others from COVID—including masks, hand-washing, and vaccinations—than women, and a study shows that men trying to project traditional masculinity represent a larger number of vaccine deniers. Men identifying as the most masculine are more likely to attend gatherings of more than 10 people. The “completely masculine” are almost twice as likely to accuse mask-wearing as “dangerous to the health of the wearer” and three times more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. GOP men also comprise the largest percentage of vaccine deniers; eight times as many Republicans as Democrats refuse to be vaccinated.

Vaccine denial also comes from a variety of conspiracy theories, many of them from Fox network—especially Tucker Carlson. Beyond guests talking about microchips and magnets in the vaccine, Fox has reported about deaths, paralysis, and the lack of need for any vaccine. Carlson has said that wearing masks has “no basis in science.” Very little has been said on Fox network about the vaccine’s safety until recently.

According to John Culhane, an intentional bad act of one allows another to sue for personal injury, property damage, and economic loss caused by the wrongful activity. Deliberate representation is fraud, and viewers may have the right to a claim.

“First, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant made a misstatement of fact, knowing that it was false or with reckless disregard as to whether it was true or false. (“Reckless disregard” means that the defendant did no investigation at all, but just put the statements out there.) Examples of such misstatements on Fox are abundant… [Samples]

“To prevail on a fraud claim, the plaintiff next has to show that the defendant intended that the injured party rely on the misrepresentation (this can be inferred from the fact that Fox holds itself out as a purveyor of news) and that the plaintiff reasonably relied on the misstatement. Each potential plaintiff would have to allege, and then prove, that they had relied on Fox and the ‘expert’ making the statements that induced them to forgo vaccination. It’s impossible to imagine that at least some of the sickened and killed didn’t count on Carlson, his guests, and the rest of the Fox misinformers, and it would be hard to hear Fox attorneys claim that no one should “reasonably” rely on what their news station puts out. (Ironically, the network has successfully made this argument in court before, but in a case that involved statements by Carlson that might reasonably be seen as hyperbole. It’s a different story when he puts out information—some of it from so-called experts—that makes demonstrably false claims in a case involving hard facts.)

“The final requirement for a successful fraud claim is a showing of economic loss, which would be easy enough. Hospital bills not covered by insurance, lost wages, and even lost income from the deceased, in a wrongful death situation, are some ready examples.

“But one final hurdle remains. Although such a case would look strong when ticking through the requirements of a fraud case, this situation does not look much like a traditional claim, which typically involves a direct out-of-pocket loss that was itself intended by the fraudulent party. More run-of-the-mill cases would include stock fraud, or selling someone a used car the seller represents as safe, but which has a shoddy transmission of which he had knowledge. Yet even though the misstatements in this case seem designed not so much to bilk viewers out of money directly, it could be argued that Fox News intended to pad its bottom line by catering to a particularly conspiracy-minded market by pushing its anti-vaccine garbage.

“Even beyond the potential economic gain to Fox, though, at least some courts have been willing to extend fraud claims to situations where the defendant’s conduct violates a strong public policy—even without demonstrable economic loss…

“In our world of segmented media, Fox News watchers rely heavily on what they hear on the network. They trust Fox to deliver truthful information. No greater breach of that trust can be imagined than relating misinformation designed to keep people away from lifesaving vaccines… How many … people relied on Fox News? Perhaps we will one day find out in court.”

Talking about the vaccine, conservatives claim right to privacy. A question is whether they will stop buying the Apple iPhone now that the company has new tech to search the phones for child pornography. Software can scan all photographs on the phone. Apple’s “Siri” will also “intervene” if it hears an inappropriate question about sexual abuse or child pornography. Microchips in vaccines are fake; Apple’s new search software is real—like technology’s other methods to violate privacy.

August 8, 2021

Whither Infrastructure, DDT?

President Joe Biden’s first bill to repair U.S. physical infrastructure—roads, bridges, railroads, etc.—is limping on its way over the weekend as some Republican senators try to delay it and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) lambasts Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for permitting its existence. The bill, moved forward by Democrats and 18 Republicans, would add $550 billion for the project if it passes a vote after up to 50 hours debate. The bill would then have to pass the House where several Democrats are trying to wait for a second bill for social spending to pass the Senate. Because the second bill would be through the reconciliation process, it needs only 50 votes, probably from Democrats, and cannot be filibustered which demands 60 votes. The question is whether Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would not support the measure.

DDT’s ally Maria Bartiromo attacked Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on her Sunday Fox show, accusing him of “betraying the Republican base” and not providing money for DDT’s wall. In defense of the bill, the far-right senator said that there were things that both parties did and didn’t like. When Cramer repeated that Democrats won’t agree to building a wall, Bartiromo said, “Why not work for the American people!” Then she repeated DDT’s comments about the bill being used against the GOP in 2022 and 2024. DDT has said he won’t endorse any Republican who supports it. Cramer pointed out that “the vast majority of Republicans are very supportive of this” and that DDT “didn’t give one reason why it’s a bad deal other than it’s Joe Biden’s.”

DDT used the infrastructure bill to again insult McConnell, first calling the bill a “disgrace” and then blaming the Senate Minority leader for it. DDT wrote:

“If Mitch McConnell was smart, which we’ve seen no evidence of, he would use the debt ceiling card to negotiate a good infrastructure package… It is a gift to the Democrat Party, compliments of Mitch McConnell and some RINOs [Republicans in name only], who have no idea what they are doing.”

DDT also stayed in the limelight when his replacement for AG Bill Barr in late December 2020, acting AG Jeffrey Rosen, testified in a closed-door hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee about DDT’s efforts to suborn the election in a conspiracy with acting deputy AG Jeffrey Clark. The testimony concerned Clark’s attempts to push top leaders to falsify the election and publicly assert that election fraud investigations went against the Electoral College results. Earlier Barr had stated that DOJ found no fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Rosen refused to follow DDT’s demands, leading DDT to consider replacing Rosen with Clark in January 2021. Clark continues to maintain his official White House communications “were consistent with law.”

Rosen described five encounters with Clark, including one in late December when Clark admitted to meeting with DDT and promised he would not do so again. Clark continued his unauthorized conversations with DDT about casting doubt on Biden’s victory, especially in close states such as Georgia, and drafted a letter for Rosen to send to the state’s legislators, wrongly demanding they should void Biden’s victory in the state because DOJ was investigating voter fraud there. These actions were followed by DDT’s fiery speech on January 6, encouraging his followers’ violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

DDT ranted about election fraud, claiming his victory for president in the 2020 election, in an interview with Fox’s Dan Bongino last night, but his lies were edited out, according to his furious spokeswoman Liz Harrington. Her tweets justifying his statements are here. DDT also claimed he was being politically persecuted by prosecutors in New York.  

While the infrastructure bill keeps chugging along, the U.S. added 943,000 jobs in July, bringing the total during President Joe Biden’s first six months to over four million, the only president with this achievement. June’s job gain was adjusted upward to 938,000 positions. Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years, and the unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is the lowest since the pandemic began. Now people wait to see the effect of COVID-19 problems from the unvaccinated affects.

Thanks to congressional action, the poverty rate in the U.S. may drop to 7.7 percent for the current year, a 45 percent decline from 2018 and the largest drop on record. The money sent to people in the past few months put food on the table and made rent payments as the pandemic forced people out of work. Without stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment insurance—which 26 states refused—the poverty rate would be at 23.1 percent. White people benefited the most: non-Hispanic White people in the U.S. have a projected 5.8 percent poverty rate compared to 11.8 percent for Hispanic people. Although the poverty rate for Blacks will still be 9.2 percent, it would have been 36.0 percent without assistance. 

After concerns that U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan abandoned Afghans helping U.S. forces including interpreting for them, Congress has passed $500 million to fund emergency transportation and housing for them and their families. Another $600 million goes to State Department funding and makes an additional 8,000 “special immigrant visas beyond the exiting 26,500 authorized while easing some eligibility requirements for those visas. Another $71 million in the $2.1 billion emergency spending package went to avert the Capitol Police funding crisis, and $42 million covered the pandemic costs on Capitol Hill, including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs, and telework equipment. More funding–$521 million—covers National Guard costs—and $300 million will harden doors and windows on the Capitol campus and install new camera systems. including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs and telework equipment. The Senate voted 98-0 and the House, 416-11 for the expenditures.

Republicans claim their objection to the second infrastructure bill is the $2.3 trillion over eight years, under $300 billion a year, to “Build Back Better.” Yet they don’t object to their expenditure of $6.4 trillion—outside the outrageously normal Pentagon budget—on destabilizing wars in the Middle East based on GOP lies. Deaths, either foreign or in the U.S., give Republicans no concern. The GOP expenditure of $6.4 trillion could give the U.S. a completely renewable energy grid. War and militarization annually take almost two-third of the U.S. discretionary spending.

Last year, the Defense Department, its leadership appointed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), gave $422 billion in frequently non-competitive contracts, $40 billion more than the previous year and $60 billion more than the year before that. The Pentagon is also spending $1.6 million for the F-35 fighter jet so unfunctional that it recently shot itself. At ten percent of GDP, Biden’s jobs package is one-fourth of the 1930s New Deal bringing the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

The GOP 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and big business costs the U.S. $2.3 trillion over ten years, a little more than the progressive American Jobs Plan, thus the U.S. is giving trillions more in tax breaks to the wealthy and big business than helping the economy. Taxing investment income like wages and strengthening the estate tax for the wealthy would bring in $886 billion more each year, over three times what the jobs act would cost. Tax evasion by the wealthy annually costs the U.S. $175 billion, one-third of that from the top 1 percent. Collecting that money would pay for two-thirds of Biden’s jobs plan, but Republicans refuse to allow it in protection of their donors.

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig reported a loss of perhaps $1 trillion each year because of error, fraud, and lack of staff to get the revenue. The loss of corporate taxes in a half century is phenomenal: corporate taxes provided 23 percent of federal revenue in 1966 compared to seven percent in 2019. Treasury Secretary refers to the “30-year race to the bottom” as tax havens and globalization ease the process of escaping taxes.

From 2000 to 2016, corporate tax receipts averaged about 1.7 percent of total GDP; corporate revenues dropped almost 40 percent and will be over 25 percent less during the next decade.

In the 1950s, revenue from the federal corporate income tax averaged about 5 percent of GDP per year. Last decade, corporate tax revenue averaged just 2 percent of GDP annually. Since 2009, corporate tax revenue has averaged just 1.2 percent, the lowest three-year average in American postwar history.  

The U.S. is at the bottom of the G7 countries.

 

 

 

Biden recommended that an increase for big business would more than pay for the two infrastructure bills, but Republicans are protecting their donors. Instead people will go back to poverty when they no longer receive the benefits from the stimulus bills. Republicans in the 1950s understood the importance of living wages, unions, healthcare, and other rights bringing people out of desperation. A half century later, Republicans use people only as menial labor in order to enrich themselves. That’s the reason they don’t want the second infrastructure bill.

August 7, 2021

Republicans Promote COVID Expansion

Last year, the community of Sturgis (SD), population 7,000, provided a COVID super-spreader event when 460,000 participants at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally returned to over half the counties in the United States and created at least 266,000 new infections. This year, 700,000 people are expected to attend the current ten-day event in the midst of the growing Delta variant and variant plus. Only 46 percent of adults in the host county are vaccinated, and South Dakota infections are rising—a 68 percent leap last week. Meade County, home to Sturgis, has a 37 percent vaccination rate, and neighboring counties are even lower.    [visual – Sturgis]

After a brief period of time when people assumed they could pack away their masks, COVID has come back with a vengeance, thanks to unvaccinated people who encourage new variants. The most famous one right now is Delta, but two of them on the horizon are Delta Plus and Gamma with Lambda not far behind. With an average of over 100,000 new daily cases, one-third of them crop up in Florida and Texas. Governors of both states refuse any precautions, choosing instead to blame foreigners for the massive numbers of infections.

In the ultimate GOP attemps to create new cases, GOP lawmakers in at least 11 states prohibit mandates on masks in schools or local government ordinances—some of them both. President Joe Biden has sent a message to the governors of these states to “Please help.” He added, “but if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

Florida governor and presidential wannabe Ron DeSantis responded, “I am standing in your way.” As schools begin to open in the state next week, DeSantis’ new executive order threatens to remove funding from any mandating masks. Another one invalidates emergency orders by local governments requiring mask wearing and social distancing; businesses may not require vaccination proof. 

Mayors of Miami-Dade and Orange County have defied the order, requiring masks in indoor county facilities, and Broward County plans to require masks at the beginning of the school year. Dan Gelber, major of Miami Beach, nicknamed DeSantis the “Pied Piper of Covid-19, leading everybody off a cliff.”

DeSantis persuaded the state school board to give taxpayer-funded school vouchers to students who claim they would be “bullied” if they wear masks. DeSantis also uses immigrants as scapegoats for surging COVID cases in Florida, but a study has debunked his claims.

Fox’s representative to the White House press conferences, Peter Doocy supported DeSantis assertion that public health officials should not be in charge of the decisions on masking and wanting government and politicians to make decisions for individuals. Press Secretary Jen Psaki had an answer for him:   

“I want public health officials to make decisions about how to keep my kids safe, not politicians, and not only is Governor DeSantis not abiding by public health decisions. He is fundraising off this.”

For the third time this week, Florida broke its record for new cases with 23,903 infections today. Earlier this week, the state broke its hospitalization record with 11,515; 95 percent of those hospitalized with COVID, averaging 42 years old, are unvaccinated. In a press conference, DeSantis complained about the judgmental attitude toward those who refuse to get vaccinations. Under 50 percent of Floridians aren’t vaccinated.

DeSantis is “standing” with lower favorability rates than Biden’s—44 percent to the president’s 58 percent approval. DeSantis has lost support from younger people because of his opposition to school mask mandates. 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, disagrees with other GOP governors, criticizing himself for signing a law last spring banning any mask mandates in the state. With only 37 percent of the state vaccinated, he’s calling a special session to change the law. Two parents sued Arkansas for banning masks in schools, and a judge blocked the law mandating masks. A few days ago, Arkansas had only 25 ICU beds for severely ill patients; Mississippi had only six ICU beds.

One reason given for refusing vaccinations is that the FDA has not given final approval, but that may change by Labor Day. Meanwhile, former anti-Vaxxers dying of COVID and their survivors are begging everyone to get the vaccine, including Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA) whose husband died of COVID in December before the vaccine was not available. The number of vaccinations has increased, rising to figures in early July with increases in these top states: Louisiana, 302 percent; Mississippi, 250 percent; Alabama, 215 percent; and Arkansas, 206 percent. 

After Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) contracted COVID after having been vaccinated, some of his colleagues attending a gathering with him on Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) houseboat became concerned, and a few senators returned to wearing masks. Of the 100 senators, 96 have reportedly been vaccinated. Yet Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) maintains mask mandates can violate the First Amendment because “wearing a mask in public communicates a message—one with which the wearer may strongly disagree.” He also complained about communication being more difficult with a mask because people cannot see facial expressions. In his state newspaper, The Salt Lake Tribune, experts called Lee’s protest “ludicrous.” Law attorney Ari Cohn said:

“Unless Sen. Lee would stipulate that vaccine mandates are less restrictive than mask mandates, it’s hard to see how a court would strike down mask mandates on 1st Amendment grounds.”

Eric Segall pointed out that the government mask mandate serves a “compelling interest.”

A local paper in Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-NY) district heavily criticized the DDT-supporting legislator who replaced Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) as House GOP Conference Chair after Stefanik proclaimed no mask requirements “for anyone.” Columnist Gretta Hochsprung pointed out that New York students must have seven vaccines as children before going to school and two more before going to middle and high schools. The writer stated:

“You can get an exemption if you have a medical condition that qualifies. No other sort of exemption, not for religious, cultural or ‘it’s a free country’ reasons is granted… What makes the COVID-19 vaccine any different from the hepatitis B vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine? Hepatitis B and chickenpox did not kill more than half a million people over the course of the past year, and that is because most of us were vaccinated for those viruses when we were kids…

“We don’t know why, as a federal representative, Stefanik is expending her energy on public school policy, which is the purview of the states. Like everyone else, we are weary of dealing with COVID-19. Being weary or angry or rebellious doesn’t make the virus go away, however, while vaccinations and mask-wearing do.”

In the past, the Supreme Court has generally supported churches appealing an escape from lockdowns for health safety reasons despite their being super-spreaders. This week, however, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer denied a request from a Maine church to block any COVID restrictions after the Delta surge. The court is not in session, and Beyer did not refer the petition to the full court. Right now, Maine has no restrictions.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker drew a parallel between anti-vaxxers and the insurrectionists on January 6. She writes:

“Both were and are guided by disinformation intentionally distributed to pit Americans against one another—by forces internal or external, or both…

“Both the rioters and the anti-vaxxers believe what is demonstrably wrong to the detriment of others. The rioters believed that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump. The anti-vaccine crowd embraced Trump’s initially blasé attitude toward the virus, despite his having been vaccinated since—and despite massive evidence supporting the efficacy of the vaccines, which, until recently, were close to putting the virus to bed.”

According to Parker, both groups voted for DDT, and both have the belief that “someone—the Deep State, Anthony S. Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, Charles E. Schumer, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, take your pick—is trying to pull the wool over their eyes.” She describes anti-vaxxers as “the passive twin to the rioters’ aggression.”

“Both operate from a posture of certitude. Both threaten the health and welfare of the nation…. The good news is that the bad guys of January 6 ultimately will be brought to justice. But the ‘bad guys’ of the vaccine resistance, assuming they survive, likely will get away no matter how many others they infect…

“I’m weary of playing nice with people who are plain wrong and causing 300 million Americans, give or take, to suffer…

“To put it bluntly, the 25 to 30 percent of Americans refusing to get the vaccine are putting their own lives at risk, threatening our doctors’ and nurses’ ability to take care of other sick folks, and by mixing among vaccinated people, possibly causing even more infections.”

Parker concludes that the good news is that the bad guys of Jan. 6 ultimately will be brought to justice. But the ‘bad guys’ of the vaccine resistance, assuming they survive, likely will get away no matter how many others they infect.”

August 4, 2021

DDT’s Mounting Troubles

 

Problems keep invading the world of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). His personal social network GETTR, launched a month ago, faces an inundation of terrorist propaganda by Islamic State supporters, including videos of beheadings, promotion of violence against the West, and memes of the execution of DDT wearing an orange suit like Guantanamo Bay prisoners. DDT had intended his new social media to be his alternative to Twitter like his earlier little-read blog, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” now removed from the internet after ridicule. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter work with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism for removal of extremist material, but GETTR hasn’t signed up with the organization.

After the release of notes chronicling DDT’s private calls begging the DOJ to declare the 2020 corrupt between December 27, 2020, and January 6, 2021, he failed in one respect. He never denied that he pushed the acting AG Jeffrey Rosen and deputy AG Richard Donogue to lie. DDT’s statement after his falsehoods and unconstitutional behavior were made public:

“The documents were meant to uphold the integrity and honesty of elections and the sanctity of our vote. The American People want, and demand, that the President of the United States, its chief law enforcement officer in the country, stand with them to fight for Election Integrity and to investigate attempts to undermine our nation.”

DDT continued with lies about how the election was “incredibly corrupt” and later claimed he would have evidence “coming out in the very near future.” He also still pretends to be president. Former White House chief of staff told Newsmax he was meeting with DDT and “Cabinet members” and refers to DDT as “the president” at his Bedminster (NJ) golf club where he is “fully engaged.”

In the DOJ, Jeffrey Clark was amenable to DDT’s pressure about illegally regaining votes. On December 28, 2020, Clark, acting head of the DOJ civil division, drafted a letter to Georgia officials, telling them the DOJ was investigating “irregularities in the presidential election and asked for a special session of state legislators “pertaining to the appointment of presidential electors.” He explained that an appointment of their own slate of electors who backed DDT for president could be accepted as legitimate although Georgia’s popular vote favored Joe Biden. Fortunately, DOJ’s acting AG Jeffrey Rosen and acting deputy AG Richard Donoghue rejected Clark’s draft.

Earlier, the media reported about a plan to oust Rosen as AG so that the DOJ could force Georgia to overturn the presidential election results because Rosen would not comply with DDT’s demands. The plan was scuttled because the DOJ senior leadership team threatened to resign if DDT effected the plan. This was not the first time that Rosen pressured Rosen. In mid-December, DDT told Rosen he wanted the DOJ to file legal briefs overturning the presidential election to help DDT’s allies and then pressed Rosen and Donoghue to maintain the election was corrupt.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained how the current administration now treats the DOJ as an independent agency according to the law. The question was about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly sexually harassing a number of women, including those working for him. President Joe Biden already said Cuomo should resign if these allegations are proved, but Fox’s Peter Doocy wanted to know more. He asked, “Does the administration want the Justice Department to initiate a civil rights investigation into these harassment allegations revealed today?”

Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded, “We do something new here that feels foreign from the last four years and allow the Justice Department to act independently on investigations.”

The DOJ refused to defend Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in a lawsuit accusing him of contributing to violence at the January 6 insurrection, but Brooks came up with justification. He told the judge he should have immunity because he was “cooperating” with the “White House.” Brooks added that his inspiring the attack on the Capitol was “to protect and promote the direct and indirect jobs tied to federal activities in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.” Part of his speech was telling “American patriots [to] start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Two Colorado lawyers lost their $160 billion lawsuit against Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and must pay expenses for all 18 individuals and companies they sued. They used DDT’s fact-free tweet that Dominion Voting Systems had “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide” to support their claim the election was stolen from 160 million U.S. voters. A federal judge found the case “frivolous,” “not warranted by existing law,” and filed “in bad faith.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), well-known for lying and leaking classified congressional information, is suing MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for her March 18 story about his receiving a package from Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach. She reported Derkach was sanctioned by the U.S. for trying to influence the 2020 presidential election and the Treasury Department called him “an active Russian agent.” Nunes is accusing her of obstruction and treason in his tenth lawsuit since 2019. 

DDT’s business affairs are also not going well after he lost the 2020 election. Allen Weisselberg, longtime Trump Organization CFO, was removed from corporate filings after the 15-count indictment against him, and his name was removed from DDT’s Scottish Aberdeen golf club. As of July 20, he and Donald Trump Jr are persons “with significant control” over the parent company of DDT’s Turnberry resort, the biggest revenue generator of DDT’s properties during his term in the White House.  DDT’s Scottish businesses, however, are some of biggest money losers. Scotland’s supreme civil court heard arguments about investigating discrepancies in DDT’s financial reporting and the two golf club purchases regarding an “unexplained wealth” order regarding money laundering and other criminal financial activities related to “dirty money” from international criminals.

In Arizona, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge has ordered the release of all documents tied to a private company’s audit activities to a watchdog group, including records about who is financing the process. The judge declared these are all public records because Senate President Karen Fann claimed the audit is a legislative function by the Senate according to the state constitution. Judge Michael Kemp also rejected arguments by the Senate that it is immune to being sued over the records. Senate President Karen Fann said she couldn’t produce the ones that private contractor Cyber Ninjas has, but the judge wrote:

“Defenders claim that they have not even seen the documents of Cyber Ninjas Inc. and its subvendors does nothing to advance their position. Willful blindness does not relieve Senate defendants from their duties and obligations under the public records law.’’

Things got worse for the GOP and Ninjas on Wednesday when the House Oversight Committee requested all released materials. “Partisan audits funded by dark money groups undermine Americans’ confidence in elections,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) stated.

As the Arizona “fraudit” drones on, Republicans are losing their faith in the process.  Both Dominion Voting Systems and Maricopa County supervisors refused to comply with the subpoena from Fann and Judiciary Committee Chair Warren Peterson for more information: documents, passwords, security information, changes of voter registration records, signed ballot envelopes or images, documents related to any breaches of the election system, information about changes in voting records, county routers and IP addresses, and computer logs from two months before and three months after the election.  The county said it had already provided everything but routers which could not be released because of security reasons. 

As the GOP-majority board of supervisors noted, the lawmakers’ request “was not authorized by a vote of the Senate” and argued “it is an abuse of process or designed merely to harass.” Their letter, signed by Chair Jack Sellers, is a classic:

“If you haven’t figured out the election in Maricopa County was free, fair and accurate yet, I’m sure you never will. The reason you haven’t finished your ‘audit’ is because you hired people who have no experience and little understanding of how professional elections are run.”

“The Board has real work to do and little time to entertain this adventure in never-never land. Please finish whatever it is that you are doing and release whatever it is you are going to release… There was no fraud, there wasn’t an injection of ballots from Asia nor was there a satellite that beamed votes into our election equipment. It’s time for all elected officials to tell the truth and stop encouraging conspiracies.

“Release your report and be prepared to defend any accusations of misdeeds in court. It’s time to move on.”

The Senate could hold Maricopa County in contempt for refusing the subpoena, but Fann may not have the necessary 16 Senate votes for a contempt citation. Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, chairwoman of the Senate Elections Committee, said a contempt finding “is not an option” because the Senate likely won’t be in session before January 2022. GOP Sen. Paul Boyer praised the supervisors’ response in the letter below, stating, “I couldn’t agree more with Jack Sellers.”

In a touch of irony, Arizona GOP lawmakers are demanding an audit of the votes in Kelli Ward’s narrow January 23 reelection for state GOP chair. She has refused. 

DDT has counted on Arizona’s overturning its popular vote for Biden as a lead-in to overturning the 2020 election. It appears he won’t be successful.

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