Nel's New Day

April 15, 2021

Biden’s Foreign Policy, Domestic Terrorism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to “Build Back Better.”

March 28, 2021

Biden’s Progress – March 2021

In this great piece, attorney and author Teri Kanefield addresses how dangerous the anti-voting Georgia law could be for Republicans. Her position is that the GOP attempt to win elections by carefully selecting voters could backfire on them. For example, after Wisconsin created voting hurdles in its primaries last April, people showed up in much larger numbers than normal to elect challenger Jill Karofsky over conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly for a state Supreme Court seat. Even conservative courts refused to overturn legal votes when Republicans tried to subvert the will of the people.

Kanefield points out that federal legislation can override draconian GOP laws because Congress has the ability to regulate federal elections, according to Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. In addition, the 14th and 15th Amendments block states from racial discrimination.

Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman posits that citizens are less likely to vote for a party passing “mean-spirited and anti-democratic laws.” What does it say about a party that prevents giving water to voters kept in lines of many hours?

Republicans trying to argue that President Joe Biden has dementia, were crushed by his first press conference in which he made no gaffes in his composed delivery. Some highlights: denying his policies are responsible for a surge of immigrants; keeping an “open mind” about the filibuster if the GOP consistently throws roadblocks in front of voting rights; and expecting to run for re-election with VP Kamala Harris. Biden called the massive GOP attempt to restrict voting access “un-American.” 

Biden called on 10 of 25 journalists during the press conference but hurt Peter Doocy’s feelings when he failed to call on him. (Biden also didn’t answer questions for The New York Times, Reuters, NPR, and Politico.) Fox network’s attempt to make its journalist a martyr to Democratic discrimination didn’t play well with the media outside its own house. In Doocy’s interview with White House press secretary Jen Psaki, he had to agree that she took questions every time he was in the briefing room, Biden has taken questions from Doocy, and for the third time in a few months she will be doing Fox News Sunday the next day. The martyrdom complaint came on the same day that Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit for $1.6 billion for lying to viewers about a stolen election, making it appear like a deflection.

In the Dominion lawsuit, Fox could use the same “Tucker Carlson Defense” that former lawyer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), Sidney Powell, employs. In Dominion’s $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell for her lies about the stolen election from DDT, she is claiming no one would take her claims seriously. A DDT judge has already ruled against a defamation lawsuit regarding Carlson by saying that no one should believe anything he says. About her frequent and public accusation about Venezuela being part of an election-rigging scheme, Powell said “no reasonable person would conclude” her statements were factual. Author Grant Stern tweeted:

“In deploying The Tucker Carlson defense, Sidney Powell is admitting that her credibility is completely nonexistent.”

If Fox network takes that approach, then everyone will know the truth: no one can trust anything said on the network.

Fox must be worried about Dominion’s lawsuit because host Laura Ingraham cut off DDT when he started delivering his lies about the election being stolen from him. She said he didn’t want to “relitigate” the election. DDT moved on to damn the U.S. Supreme Court which rejected three cases to invalidate election results in states he lost. Ingraham pointed out the high court had “a lot of Republicans.” In addition to Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox, Smartmatic, a company making voting machines, filed a $2.7 billion suit against Fox for hosts’ lies about the company fixing machines to elect Biden.

A few details from Jonathan Blitzer’s article on what Republicans call, the “border crisis.”

The last three men in the Oval Office faced humanitarian emergencies at the southern border; DDT was the most overwhelmed.

Currently, 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children are in U.S. custody, including 5,000 in holding cells, while the country searches for housing space. Silent during DDT’s separation of families, Republicans now shout “Biden’s border crisis” from the rooftops to divert attention from their refusal to help most U.S. residents. Biden is turning away all single adults at the border and 40 percent of asylum-seeing families under DDT’s Title 42 while the media blames Biden for encouraging migrants to come north. For example, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lambasted Biden’s “humane treatment of immigrants.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced the border is closed, but about 550 children come to the border each day. DDT had more families and children seeking asylum at the border in 2019: Central America is also facing the pandemic as well as two devastating hurricanes last fall. Families seek escape from violence, poverty, and government corruption. Resolution of an asylum claim requires almost two and a half years, and DDT’s backlog of 1.3 million cases is 500,000 over those under Obama. By the end of his term, DDT left 70,000 asylum seekers in Mexico and turned away almost everyone at the border, including 16,000 children and 34,000 families. Children are not to be left in facilities maintained by HHS, responsible for placing them with family sponsors, for over 72 hours, but these are almost full, including nine more emergency shelters.

Biden’s administration is working on the problem with an intention to provide more aid to Central America and make the assistance circumvent corrupt officials. The government also wants to process children as refugees in their home countries, a program created by President Obama and eliminated by DDT. Biden is paying the price for DDT’s attempts to hide the “Trump border crisis.”

Pieces of Biden’s progress:

Despite opposition from Sens. John A. Kennedy (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Congress passed the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) past the March 31 deadline to the end of May with another month for application processing. Because many large businesses were fraudulently awarded these loans for small businesses under DDT, this law prioritizes smaller businesses, those in low income areas, and community financial institutions. The bill passed 92-7 in the Senate and 415-3 in the House.

DOJ has charged 474 people of COVID-related fraud in attempts to steal over $569 million. At least 120 of these people used lax oversight by DDT’s administration. Business owners inflated payroll expenses to get larger loans, and others revived defunct corporations or purchased shell companies with no operations to get loans. In Texas, a man submitted 15 fake applications for $24.8 million in loans for businesses with no employees or salaries. Other fraud is connected to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program with another $580 million seized in Colorado.

DHS, originally created to fight international terrorism, is making policy changes to detect and stop domestic violent extremism. Part of the plan is expanding ties to companies searching public data for intelligence and better using the data already being collected. One method is identifying people from social media behavior to find toxic messaging from foreign governments, terrorists, and domestic extremists, scrutinizing them for violence plans.

Biden has withdrawn DDT’s appeal of an earlier ruling to the DC Appeals Court banning DDT’s draconian work requirements to obtain food stamps. DDT’s rule would have created difficulties in states to waive these work requirements despite the increase of food insecurity for 700,000 people during the pandemic.

Biden wishes to cooperate with Russia and China on climate change at the global leaders’ climate summit where Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have been invited. Hosting the summit, held remotely on April 22 and 23, he plans to unveil a new carbon emissions target to the 40 world leaders.

The DHS Advisory Council of over 30 members has been dissolved and will be reconstituted with a new model. Gone are DDT’s appointments Ken Cuccinelli and Tom Homan as well as Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano. Priorities of the new council, using a demographic makeup to “look like America,” will be immigration, domestic terrorism, and cyber concerns. The past council providing independent advice to the secretary conducts research and provides policy analysis on security issues. Some former members may be called back.

During his mishandling of the pandemic, DDT forced the CDC to use anti-science disinformation supporting his positions. The current administration is cleaning up the “junk” it inherited. In charge is Dr. Anne Schuchat, the second in command who DDT shut up. She’s searching all CDC COVID guidance and advice published during the last administration to permanently kill it. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is still spreading evidence-free statements from former CDC director Robert Redfield, for example that COVID-19 came from a Wuhan lab. The media hasn’t pointed out that Redfield’s past research, one for a HIV vaccine, used data either “egregiously sloppy” or “fabricated,” according to a doctor at clinical pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  

And the Ever Given is still blocking the Suez Canal after five days.

March 23, 2021

Mass Shootings Cover Up Good News from Biden Administration

The focus of the news for the past week has been mass shootings—first the eight in Georgia primarily of Asian-American women and then another ten people killed at a grocery store/pharmacy in Boulder (CA). In these seven days, however, were five other mass shootings, defined as one with four or more wounded or dead casualties, in the U.S.: March 17, Stockton (CA) – five people preparing a vigil shot in a drive-by shooting with no life-threatening injuries; March 18, (Gresham (OR) – four victims taken to the hospital; March 20, Houston (TX) – five people shot inside a club, one in critical condition; and March 20, Philadelphia – one person killed and five injured at an illegal party where 150 people fled for their lives. The U.S. keeps no centralized system or database for firearm victims and mass shootings so no one knows whether an average daily mass shootings is typical. In 2019, almost 40,000 people were killed in firearm-related events.

A county judge revoked a ban on assault-style weapons in Boulder only ten days before ten people were killed, and the perpetrator bought his gun only six days earlier. As usual, Republicans opposed even the most popular remedies such as universal background checks, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced the Democrats are to blame for the shootings because they want control to prevent them. 

White supremacists and the extreme right, DDT’s base of voters, celebrated the Georgia mass shooting, including the murder of six Asian-American women, with posts dehumanizing people of Asian descent and praising the killer. Posts on a neo-Nazi Telegram site advocated for violence against Asian Americans, calling the murders “always a good thing.” A Proud Boys media group ridiculed protests against anti-Asian violence and promoted anti-Asian racism. Users of the main 8chan/pol successor forum also praised the attack, one person hoping the violence would force non-Whites to leave Europe and the U.S. A white supremacist strategy spreads footage of violence against people of Asian descent to brainwash Whites, “especially the youth.” White supremacists also celebrated the second anniversary of the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack by posting the video of the attack, praises of the 51 murders in mosques, and calls for violence against Muslims.  

Georgia’s GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had no statement on the mass shooting in her state. Earlier, she had verbally attacked David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland (FL) school shooting killed 17 people and wounding another 17 people for his gun control activism. Greene had also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) deserves “a bullet to the head.” Colorado’s GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who produced a video advertisement with a gunshot at the end, sent prayers in a fundraising email two hours after the killings that encourages people to “tell Joe Biden … HELL NO” to gun control. 

Anyone who believes Boebert’s lie about her reason for carrying a gun needs the true story. She claims a man was beat to death outside her restaurant “by another man’s hands,” and she needs to carry a gun “to protect everyone.” The truth: a man involved in a fight with another man with a prosthetic leg ran from the scene, three blocks away from Boebert’s restaurant. A teenager helped the second man get his leg back, and the second man said the fight was about a woman. The first man ran several blocks away and was discovered after his fall with a glass pipe containing methamphetamine residue. Police saw no blood or other evidence of any deadly fight, and the autopsy report gave “methamphetamine intoxication” as the reason for death.

The news of the two worst mass shootings of the week concealed good news coming out of the White House:

The Affordable Care Act special enrollment period is extended to August 15, 2021, allowing people use the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with benefits such as the decrease of premiums after advance payment of increased tax credits up to $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. Four of five enrollees (up from 69 percent pre-ARPA) can find a plan for $10 or less per month after tax, and over 50 percent (up from 14 percent pre-ARPA) can find a Silver plan for $10 or less per month. One-fourth of ACA enrollees can pay the same or less than formerly to get better out-of-pocket costs. Consumers can use increased premium tax credits on high quality health care plans by enrolling through HealthCare.gov.

President Joe Biden reversed a policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by cancelling about $1 billion in student debt for those defrauded by their colleges. The loan forgiveness to 73,000 people eligible for this relief was reduced by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who gave only part forgiveness by changing the cancellation calculation. DeVos had also postponed over 200,000 borrower defense claims for four years by refusing to allow those in debt to hear whether they were eligible for relief.

Biden’s new Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, also granted Puerto Rico immediate access to $912 million in federal funds made unavailable to students in public and private schools by DDT’s restrictions. Funds included $302 million provided by the CARES Act a year ago for COVID-19 relief; other aid came from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. All fiscal year 2019 department program grant funds withheld by DDT totaled $522 million. Puerto Rican schools are now beginning to open.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is withdrawing DDT’s rule barring graduate students from joining a union: DDT had declared these students were not employees even if they were paid for teaching or research. DDT’s regulation took collective bargaining rights from 57,500 unionized graduate students and prevented another 1.5 million graduates from unionizing. In 2000, the NLRB gave graduate students at private universities the right to unionize and then reversed the decision in 2004. Twelve years later, the Board ruled graduate students were employees under the National Labor Relations Act and could thus join unions after students from Columbia University petitioned the NLRB. Graduate students can make as little as $20,000 a year, giving their employers the impression they aren’t workers.

In an ongoing GOP attempt to smear Biden, Republicans are running a campaign pushing the recent immigrant “border crisis” as his personal disaster. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) went so far as to say that the reason behind the attempts to migrants to cross the border comes from the current administration’s decision to treat them “humanely.” Conservative Bill Kristol begs to differ: he describes the situation as a recurring problem made worse by DDT. The history of these surges shows decades-old issues, and Biden inherited DDT’s huge mess after DDT dismantled the asylum system. 

A combination of John Oliver’s piece on Last Week Tonight and the murder of Asian-American women may have awakened Meghan McCain, daughter of deceased Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to the understanding that words matter. After Oliver’s segment on the vast increase on the abuse of Asian Americans, McCain, often delivering her opinions on The View, apologized for repeating DDT’s racist rhetoric about the coronavirus’ relationship to Chinese people while he refused to contain the pandemic in the U.S.  McCain had said that DDT’s reference to “the China virus” was a clever strategy to win votes. When McCain tweeted last week about ending anti-Asian violence, Oliver clearly pointed out her hypocrisy. On his show, Oliver said:

“Oh good! Meghan McCain doesn’t have a problem with it. Listen, not to the scores of Asian Americans telling everyone that the term is dangerous and offensive. Instead, gather around and take the word of a white woman who’s dressed like she’s about to lay off 47 people over Zoom.”

In response, McCain said:

“I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian-American community. There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks, and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.”

The U.S. intelligence community has released a report that the U.S. election infrastructure in 2020 stayed secure despite Russian President Vladimir Putin promotion of DDT and Iran’s work to denigrate DDT. The U.S. has no evidence that any foreign actor tried to change any voting technology, “including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.” Intelligence did discover Putin’s authorization to “influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” These included lies to undercut Biden.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has asked new AG Merrick Garland to examine how thoroughly DDT’s FBI looked into Brett Kavanaugh for a background check before Republicans confirmed him for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and several other misconduct allegations, but the four-day investigation was extremely incomplete. One concern was that witnesses wanting to share the accounts were rejected by the FBI, which had not assigned anyone to accept or gather evidence. Whitehouse also said senators were not given any information about processing or evaluating allegations on a “tip line.” In addition, DDT’s FBI Director Christopher Wray would not answer questions about the investigation.

And there’s more good news! Stay tuned in the next few days.

March 13, 2021

Biden Spends Successful Week

In a paraphrase of Charles Dickens—it was the best of speeches; it was the worse of speeches. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wanted to appear in control. DDT had blocked testing, but the number of coronavirus case was still at 1,267. For a month, he had compared the deadly disease to the seasonal flu, claiming coronavirus  would just disappear and continued that lie for another seven-plus months as the daily number of U.S. cases rose to over 77,000. 

DDT read from his speech in a monotone when he announced a limit on some world travel, suspending travel from Europe for 30 days which added to bans on parts of Italy and South Korea as well as China and Iran. He exempted the UK, with far more cases than many EU countries, and permitted U.S. citizens to return to the U.S., crowding the airports and spreading infections. DDT said, “The virus will not have a chance against us.”

DDT’s speech misrepresented the administration’s policy in “suspending all travel from Europe” and blocking “tremendous amount of trade and cargo,” which also hadn’t been decided. His boast that the health insurance industry agreed to waive “all co-payments for coronavirus treatments” was also a lie. DDT continued his racist assertion about COVID-19 being a “foreign virus” that “started in China.”

Exactly one year later, March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden’s first prime-time speech excelled in empathy for the U.S. people and hope for the future. He announced all adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 virus by May 1, and his promise of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days will be achieved by his first 60 days. The increase in vaccinations comes from the purchase of 100 million more doses of the one-time shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Biden also mourned the 545,000+ deaths in the past year from the virus, many of the deaths unnecessary because DDT did little or nothing about stopping the disease.

The far-right frantically searched for ways to criticize Biden’s speech. Tucker Carlson, already in trouble for attacking women in the military, came up with his need for “freedom.” About Biden’s statement that people in the U.S. can safely gather in small groups for Independence Day, Carlson ranted:  

“This is a free people. This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”

Erik Wemple sarcastically wrote that “only a power-hungry radical would suggest that people hang out with ‘your families and friends’ on a holiday.” 

Biden made the speech on the same day he signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) after its final passage in the House with a 220 to 211 vote. Of the two House Democrats opposing the bill the first time, Jared Golden (ME) voted no the second time while Kurt Schrader (OR) changed his vote to yes.

With the signing a day early before the promised deadline, many of the $1,400 stipends were delivered this weekend. ARPA provides an average tax cut of $3,000 for the low and middle class and a $6,000 cut for families, giving people in this category almost 70 percent of the tax benefits. It will raise after-tax incomes by 3.8 percent. This step is the opposite of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which provided about half the benefits to the top five percent of the population, those who made about $308,000 that year.

Not one Republican voted for ARPA, but at least one of them took credit for it. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi bragged about the approximately $29 billion bailout for the restaurant industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It’s typical that they will vote no and take the dough.” Republicans are now moving forward to repeal the estate tax for the remaining 1,900 people not exempted by the 2017 tax cut bill. The current tax covers only estates worth more than $22 million. Their action doesn’t fit Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) description of the GOP as “the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters, and waitresses.”

The 657 wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. could pay for two-thirds of ARPA with the $1.3 trillion they acquired in the past year. Three of them—Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg—made enough to pay for the $250 billion of supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 weekly for the upcoming six months. Musk’s increase of $142 billion, a 567 percent increase in assets, could support farmers, small businesses, bars and restaurants, and other industries. Bezos’ $67 billion could fund assistance to renters, homeowners, and veterans with $8 billion left over. [visual – ARPA chart]

Because of current law, the billionaires $4.2 trillion in wealth won’t be taxed during their lifetimes less they sell the underlying assets at a gain. Other laws allow inheritors to escape taxation on the increase.

Biden and the Dems aren’t resting on their laurels after passing ARPA: their next project will be job-creating packages on climate, broadband, and transportation issues. Pelosi expressed hope a transportation system will let them address more needs such as education, housing, and water systems, some of them over 100 years old. With the Senate filibuster requiring at least ten Republicans to support any bills, Democrats ponder another budget reconciliation process for infrastructure and ways to pay for expenditures. One possibility, bringing GOP opposition, is tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, drastically lowered in the 2017 GOP tax cut bill.

More success for Biden during the week came from the Senate confirmation of three more Cabinet members:

Michael Regan: The vote for EPA Secretary, 66-34, allows him to rebuild an agency losing thousands of employees and rolling back dozens of clean air and water protections during the Trump administration. A former EPA employee, he pledged to change years of funding cuts, industry-friendly policies, and rejection of its scientists. Regan has “a special obligation to the underserved and under-represented.” Soon before he took over the agency, the EPA gave his predecessor a 23-page “letter of concern” to Regan’s predecessor reporting racial discrimination from hog-farm pollution resulting from investigation into a complaint. The EPA has “deep concern about the possibility that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have been subjected to discrimination as the result of [North Carolina] DEQ’s operation of the Swine Waste General Permit program.”

 Merrick Garland: The new DOJ Attorney General, confirmed with a 70-30 vote, will begin investigating whistleblower allegations about political DOJ hiring by acting AG Jeffrey Bossert Clark in the last days before Biden’s inauguration. In late December, Clark and DDT allegedly discussed a method of unseating then acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to advance DDT’s plans for overturning Georgia’s election before the congressional certification of electoral votes on January 6. Garland was greeted with a standing ovation when he took his oath and promised everyone will be treated by the same set of rules.

Marcia Fudge: HUD Secretary was confirmed with a 66-34 majority, thanks to GOP support including that of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.  She needs to overcome the actions of her predecessor, Ben Carson, with his massive exodus of career staff, destruction of fair housing enforcement, and failure to address a nationwide crisis in affordable housing worsened by the pandemic. HUD’s aging issue includes 63 percent of employees eligible to retire, including 50 percent of supervisors and managers.

Although the confirmation of Xavier Becerra for HHS Secretary was blocked in committee, the Senate voted 51-48 to bypass the panel for the entire chamber to consider his nomination. Both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have announced their support of Becerra.

With southern border shelters freed up from some pandemic restrictions, Biden has reactivated over 200 beds for unaccompanied immigrant children and eliminated DDT’s agreement causing the arrest of sponsors who want to take them. The former administration had given sponsors’ fingerprints and other information to DHS.

In another immigration change this week, a program reinstated permission for parents legally in the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to ask for their children to come to the U.S.

On International Women’s Day, Biden signed two executive orders. One orders the review of former Education Secretary DeVos’ regulation in handling the process of sexual assault allegations by higher education institution. New Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was directed to consider “suspending, revising, or rescinding” agency actions violating the policy of non-discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

The other order establishes the White House Gender Policy Council. The Council will help Biden “ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women.” A special assistant to Biden will focus on “policies to advance equity for Black, indigenous and Latina women and girls of color.” Co-chair Julissa Reynoso, first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff, said that the full participation of women and girls in society is “essential to the economic well-being, health and security of our nation and the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness.”

To complete Dickens’ beginning to A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

And thus we have the description of life before and after January 20, 2021.

 

February 27, 2021

Biden, Democratic Congress Moving Rapidly Forward

The year 2021 marks the 20th year of the U.S. preemptive war in the Middle East, starting with George W. Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. President Joe Biden delivered the latest bombings, seven against two Iran-backed militias smuggling weapons in Syria. The airstrikes hit buildings on a border crossing with Iraq. Iranian state television reported 17 fatalities, but Biden had no exact number. Biden said he intended to “send a message” about the militias’ aggressive actions in Iraq against the U.S. including last week’s rocket attack. Experts have differed on the appropriateness of Biden’s actions, but Biden hopes to keep the path open for renewing an anti-nuclear agreement in Iran.

Years after U.S. intelligence prepared a report on the 2018 torturing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the new Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has declassified and released the document. According to the report, available here:

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi… The Crown Prince has absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

Although Congress mandated the information be made public, former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had covered up for MBS because of his friendship with Saudi Arabia and took no action about the vicious assault.

On the day before the report’s release, Biden called the 85-year-old Saudi king, instead of his son MBS, the crown prince and heir apparent, who has been giving orders. Biden may have had trouble reaching the king: sources say, “MBS has controlled his father’s switchboard.” The conversation skipped the report, but Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and discussed working on “mutual issues of concern.” Biden has eliminated U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The U.S. does not plan to charge MBS of any crimes, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the “Khashoggi Ban,” restricting visas for people acting on behalf of foreign governments directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.” The ban can also cover family members and will be applied immediately to 76 Saudis “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.” The Treasury Department also sanctioned a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, and the crown prince’s personal protective detail, the Rapid Intervention Force (aka the “Tiger Squad”). Blinken echoed Biden’s earlier statement that the U.S. wishes to “recalibrate” the relationship with Saudi Arabia “to be more in line with our interests and our values.”

The Treasury Department also replaced sanctions on Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler for corruption in Africa after DDT rolled them with no explanation or announcement during his last few days in the White House. Gertler is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden also plans sanctions and other punishments for Russia for the SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign, interfering in elections, and the Kremlin’s use of a banned chemical weapon against anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny before jailing him.

On Thursday, three Republicans supported the Democratic representatives in a 224-206 vote to expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include specific protections for LGBTQ people. The Republicans voting for the bill are John Katko (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), and Tom Reed (NY); the other Republican support discrimination in the name of religious freedom. The legislation passed the House almost two years ago, but then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignored it. McConnell has become the minority leader, and the Democrats will likely address the House bill.

Early Saturday morning, the House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by 219-212 with opposition from all Republicans and two Democrats, Kurt Schrader (OR) and Jared Golden (ME).  Although the Senate parliamentarian refuses to allow the hourly $15 minimum wage in the reconciliation bill permitting a 50-50 vote in the chamber without a filibuster, the House included it in their bill.

As usual with a Democratic president, Republicans are arguing for austerity after driving up the national debt with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Another false argument is that only a small portion of the $1.9 trillion goes to combating the virus, “actually used to put shots in people’s arms,” according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). He ignores the funding for stimulus checks, school openings, unemployment payments, assistance for small businesses, and other types of expenditures the GOP legislators willingly passed while DDT was in the White House.

Biden insisted on changes in the bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans after they went to big businesses in the first bill instead of the mandated small business. He wants to guarantee loans to businesses with under 20 employees and restricts applications from these businesses for 14 days so that lenders can prioritize those businesses. Other changes open up loans to people with non-fraud felony convictions and to non-citizen business owners. In the last round, a large number of loans were flagged for potential fraud. A new mandate tackling “waste, fraud, and abuse across all federal programs” requires approval of PPP loans “contingent on passing [Small Business Association] fraud checks, Treasury’s Do Not Pay database, and public records.”

A proposed bill for a special commission probing the January 6 attack on the Capitol, such as the one which investigated the 9/11 attacks, is struggling because of GOP opposition. Objections started when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wanted a majority of Democrats on the commission. If Republicans approached the situation with a lack of bias, the equality might have worked. Yet Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) believes not only that DDT had nothing to do with the insurrection but also that it was a friendly group of people who were coming into the Capitol until the Capitol Police provoked them. Earlier, he had falsely asserted the seditionists were all on the left side, that all of them were not DDT’s supporters. Some GOP legislators, such as Steve Scalise (LA), second in House minority command, still maintain Biden is in the White House illegally and should be removed.

In addition, almost 150 GOP legislators of the 261 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the legal votes from the electoral college after the far-right attack on the Capitol to stop the vote—almost 40 percent of the number of Republicans in Congress. All those Republicans have a conflict of interest to be on a commission to investigate the insurrection and would likely sabotage its investigation and reporting.

On the Senate side, Republican Mitch McConnell insists the commission also investigate all Black Lives Matter protests. If not that, then it should concentrate only on Capitol security failures, avoiding any white supremacy terrorism issues. The approaches would be like telling the 9/11 Commission to focus only on planes hitting the World Trade towers without reviewing radical Islamist terrorism or focus on all international violence. The mandate of the 9/11 Commission was to examine “the facts and circumstances relating to the 9/11 terrorist attack . . . including those relating to intelligence agencies; law enforcement agencies; diplomacy; immigration, nonimmigrant visas, and border control; the flow of assets to terrorist organizations; commercial aviation; the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation; and other areas determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry.”

After DDT’s administration ignored reunification of families who they separated at the southern border, Biden appointed a task force to find the parents of 611 children. In less than a month, 105 children have been returned to their families, and the group is working to reunify the others.

Biden revoked the following presidential orders and memoranda signed by DDT:

  • Cutting funding from cities DDT declared as “anarchist” havens.
  • Mandating all new federal buildings be designed in classical aesthetic.
  • Limiting the ability of federal agency employees to make regulatory decisions.
  • Calling for agency heads to review welfare programs and strengthen work requirements for some recipients.

After a month in the White House, Biden has an overall job approval rating of 56 percent with 54 percent for his handling the economy and 56 percent for foreign affairs. His best rating is 67 percent approval in handling the coronavirus. That rating might go up with the FDA approval of a third vaccine, the one-shot vaccination from Johnson & Johnson. In DDT’s last six weeks, people received 12 million vaccinations. Biden promised 100 million in the first 100 days: in his first five weeks, people have gotten 58 million, 1.6 million a day and rising.

On February 26, 2021, the number of daily U.S. infections is down (80,625), but the daily number of deaths is averaging above 2,000—the most recent number 2,216. Total U.S. infections – 29,136,912; deaths – 523,082.      

February 19, 2021

Biden: Mundane Can Be a Relief

Tomorrow celebrates the one-month anniversary of President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, and the contrast to the four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) in the White House is overwhelming. Before DDT, much news would have been mundane, reflecting ordinary governance—like now. News about DDT, however, usually reported his alienation of foreign allies, rejection of help for anyone except the wealthy and big business, and complete chaos as he rapidly changed his positions—sometimes before the end of a sentence.

Participating in the G7 summit, Biden pledged full commitment to NATO after DDT cursed it for four years. “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. In a major address to the Munich Security Conference, he warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. also officially rejoined the Paris climate accord and supports a global effort to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines, donating $4 billion over two years for the effort. After cancelation of the G7 summit, scheduled for the United States in 2020, the UK plans the 2021 summit in June at a Cornwall seaside resort. 

Biden also offered to join European nations in diplomacy with Iran and backed away from DDT’s attempt to restore UN’s sanctions on the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reported the U.S. plans to join them for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. EU’s deputy secretary general asked the other original signers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China—to bring back the agreement, possibly with the U.S. as observer or guest instead of participant to work with Iran. The U.S. hopes to expand the agreement to control Iran’s growing missile ability as well as the country’s support of terrorist groups and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

After DDT violated the agreement, Iran compiled and enriched nuclear fuel over the 2015 limits. Biden started negotiations by withdrawing DDT’s demand of UN international sanctions against Iran. Other nations had dismissed insistence from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for invoking the “snap back sanctions” because DDT had dropped out of the agreement. Biden is also lifting travel restrictions on Iranian officials allowing them to attend UN meetings in the U.S.

Biden plans to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, communicating with King Salman instead of his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Next week, the U.S. will release the report of MBS’s torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, over two years ago. Biden also cancelled the arms sale to Saudi and criticized Saudi human rights abuses. DDT discounted his intelligence conclusions; protected MBS, a friend of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; and ignored a law passed by Congress in 2019 to submit an unclassified report about the Saudi involvement in the murder. DDT’s intelligence director John Ratcliffe’s excuse for violating the law was “a marginal ‘public interest’” in the declassification.  

In domestic issues, Biden will appoint Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a senior CMS official for President Obama, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion and insurance-market reforms. Expanding insurance coverage is a goal of Biden’s administration. Brooks-LaSure also wants to improve health coverage and address high rates of maternal mortality, much worse than in other industrialized nations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Congress will approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill by March 14. The House plans to pass the bill next week and send it to the Senate perhaps Friday or Saturday, allowing that chamber to work through issues before returning it for final passage. Current $300 weekly emergency federal employment benefits expire on March 14, and the current bill would increase benefits to $400 until fall.

Also in the bill are $1,400 stimulus checks for those eligible to add to the $600 approved in December; $350 billion for city and states governments with massive revenue shortfalls; $160 billion for vaccines, increased testing and other health care assistance; approximately $130 billion to help schools reopen; food assistance and rent help; and an increased child tax credit. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told GOP  House members to vote “no” and called it “Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives Act,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He accused the bill of keeping schools closed, bailing out blue states, and paying people not to work.

Although a split between the two parties in voting for the bill may seem to lack the “unity” Biden wants, the country is unified in supporting the relief. Earlier this month, 78 percent of people supported the stimulus checks, including 64 percent of Republicans. The entire bill has overall 68 percent support, and only 47 percent of Republicans oppose the bill. 

Republicans are suffering low polls compared to Biden’s 62 percent approval rating:

  • 19 percent: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • 27 percent: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • 26 percent: Congressional Republicans job performance
  • 23 percent: Approval of Republican Party direction 

Biden promised help for mayors in at least 17 large Texas cities and other county officials suffering loss of power because of the state grid’s failure and lack of potable water for almost half the state’s population. Republicans failed to get FEMA generators to hospitals so Biden is working with local governments to move them.

On Wednesday, Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said rolling blackouts started on Monday because the state’s entire power grid providing power to 90 percent of the state “seconds and minutes” from crashing. Without that action, Texas could have suffered uncontrolled blackouts for an “indeterminately long” crisis, possibly for months. Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed members of the three-member ERCOT board, has called for their resignations. 

Biden has been replacing DDT’s incompetent, conservatively biased loyalists, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has two of them at the top of his list—Andrew Saul and David Black, Social Security Administration commissioner and deputy commissioner. Brown said they “cut the benefits that hardworking Americans have earned, attacked the Social Security Administration’s employees, denied beneficiaries due process, and needlessly increased disability reviews during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Current law protects them from firing except for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”

To block unnecessary deportations, Biden signed orders and directives to reduce the excuses ICE agents use for deporting people and mandates greater oversight of ICE agents. The order is good for 90 days while the agency develops long-term guidelines, but ICE agents rebelled by attempting to release three men convicted of sex offenses against children, against Biden’s orders, until they were stopped. These orders lead into Biden’s immigration reform bill. 

President Ronald Reagan was responsible for the last big immigration reform bill in 1986 when Republicans believed in passing on “America’s triumph … into the next century and beyond.” Senate passed a bill in 2013 by 68 to 32 when, as Jennifer Rubin wrote, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Lindsey Graham (SC) “still sounded like Reagan.” Since then, Graham’s best friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died, and Rubio decided he wanted to be president. And the House killed the Senate bill.

The paths to citizenship including not only Dreamers who arrived in the U.S. as children but also farmworkers and refugees fleeing danger in their home countries provide immediate eligibility for green cards and applications for citizenship after three years. Others will need to wait eight years. all need to have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The bill also increases available diversity visas and assigns more funding to immigration courts and technology. Other provisions include “increased border technology to interdict drug traffickers and smugglers, higher penalties for employers who exploit undocumented laborers in the United States, and increased funding for immigration courts.”

The current administration rejected an anti-immigrant agreement signed by illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli, acting DHS Deputy Secretary, on the day before Biden’s inauguration. The document gave the ICE union veto power over any changes and policies by the new administration. Biden had 30 days to “approve or disapprove” the directive; he denied it Tuesday, hours before the deadline. A whistleblower exposed the document as part of a complaint into Cuccinelli’s corrupt actions.

Biden told Congress the Equality Act has his full support. Adding sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation to protected classes in the Civil Rights Act, the bill provides complete anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community in areas like housing, credit, employment, public spaces and services, and federal programs. LGBTQ+ people have no federal civil rights protections and can be denied the rights of heterosexual people in 29 states. The new bill is the fourth one with these protections since the first one was introduced in 1974. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in the workplace also covers sexual orientation and gender identity, but the ruling does not list other areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. The decision also lacks the power of a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.

One of DDT’s actions in his last year was to remove conservation of water by passing new regulations against low-flow toilets and increasing water flow in many other household appliances and fixtures. Biden plans reviews of these regulations and other DDT’s energy-wasting rules such as using LED lighting, saving not only resources but also money in utility bills.

February 14, 2021

Biden’s Work Leads to Popularity

Republicans are still wreaking havoc from Saturday’s acquittal of Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT): instead of declaring any victory, they are damning the seven GOP senators who voted to convict DDT for inciting violence in his unrelenting attempt to overturn the election—and democracy. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) explained best the reason for votes for conviction—“he is guilty.” His op-ed in the Baton Rouge newspaper covers the facts that DDT’s cult followers refuse to recognize.

For those who question the Democrats’ wisdom in not calling witnesses after the Senate voted in favor it, another reason has emerged. Republican senators threatened to filibuster every Biden nominee, every piece of legislation, in short everything Democrats brought to the Senate. Attempting to get 60 votes for everything with only 50 Democrats in the Senate was not worth the risk. As Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), lead prosecutor for the trial, said:  

‘We could have had 500 witnesses and it would have not have overcome the kinds of arguments being made by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who were hanging their hats on the claim that it was somehow unconstitutional.”

DDT issued a statement about his victory and insinuated he could return in some fashion. President Joe Biden set the tone for the future of the United States. He stated the impeachment trial showed the charge against DDT is not in dispute and quoted House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who voted to acquit but still believes DDT is guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for provoking” violence at the U.S. Capitol, directly killing five people:  

“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant … Each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

Contrasting DDT’s life in the White House with family events of the Bidens, this video shows a casual-looking Biden couple wandering the White House lawn with their two dogs looking at the Valentines that Dr. Biden had arranged to honor the day.

Conservative pundits accused Biden of avoiding the impeachment trial by working, ignoring his busy schedule which was so different from DDT’s obsession with watching television and being admired. These are a few of his accomplishments in the past week while the media focused on impeachment.

Biden reinstated the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, greatly changed and unstaffed during the previous administration. Melissa Rodgers, First Amendment lawyer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will head up the agency with goals including help for disadvantaged communities, advancement of global humanitarian work, and protection for “church-state separation and freedom for people of all faiths and none.”

Before the impeachment trial, nominees for secretaries of the Education Department and the Labor Department were passed out of committee with the customary few naysayers.

Biden will rescind the ability of states to mandate work requirements for Medicaid coverage. Because of DDT’s request for these rules, some states require residents work for 20 or more hours a week in jobs, job search, community service, or taking classes. Judges have already struck down some of these requirements.

Protections under the Fair Housing Act now cover LGBTQ people, allowing the government to investigate discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This executive order follows an earlier one prohibiting the same discrimination in employment. Last summer, then HUD Secretary Ben Carson stripped protections for transgender people to go to federally funded homeless shelters, a policy set to go into effect in two months until Biden reversed it.

Biden said his climate-change executive order combined with “Buy American” would help create one million new jobs in the automobile industry.

The 9th Circuit Court revoked an earlier general permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ authorizing most of commercial shellfish aquaculture in Washington’s Puget Sound seriously harming the environment.  

The government has finalized deals for another 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by summer, half from Pfizer and half from Moderna, bringing the total to 300 million. 

Biden told Congress he terminated DDT’s national emergency order diverting billions of military appropriations DDT used to build part of the southern wall. DDT issued the order because Congress refused to allocate the money. Part of Biden’s direction was to divert no more taxpayer dollars to construct a border wall and review “all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”

The president also plans to ask Congress to eliminate $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry. Last year, progressive lawmakers in both chambers introduced legislation to end federal subsidies and loopholes.  

Biden has “indefinitely” shelved DDT’s deal for Oracle and Walmart buying much of the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. DDT had claimed “national security” but was really upset because the young people on the app had first ordered unused tickets for his Tulsa (OK) rally and then advertised the Georgia senatorial runoff election for younger voters in favor of the Democrats.

The DOJ notified the Supreme Court it does not regard the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional and considers it legal as the high court considers a challenge to the law by Texas and other GOP states. California and other Democratic states are defending the law. Although the Supreme Court earlier upheld the individual mandate in the law, some justices have been replaced by DDT’s appointments.

After the February 1 military coup in Myanmar, aka Burma, Biden announced sanctions on the leaders who deposed and detained its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others until it relinquishes power and releases prisoners. Biden will also freeze U.S. assets of up to $1 billion benefiting the Burmese government. Like the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the coup was intended to destroy the nation’s democracy.

While the House works on the stimulus bill, Biden is working on a $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package to create jobs and rebuild transportation networks, both growing the economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In an opening meeting, four members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, two from each party, joined both Biden and VP Kamala Harris in the White House. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participated by video while he is quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. They agreed new infrastructure must be built in both urban and rural areas. More meetings with congressional members are planned. Biden pointed out China is advancing high-speed-rail projects. Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV) called the meeting productive. Biden has said he doesn’t support increasing the gas tax, but it has had no changes for 24 years while inflation and better gas mileage has taken its purchasing power. The current federal surface transportation expires in Fall 2021.

With Ron Bloom the new chair of the postal service board, the leadership has changed although the former RNC chair, Mike Duncan, remains as a Governor. Bloom plans to “revitalize” the USPS and restore its functionality, badly needed since DDT’s choice of the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was intended to destroy the agency before the election. Working on the automobile industry bailout over a decade ago, Bloom was a senior adviser to the Treasury Secretary. Getting rid of DeJoy may be difficult, especially because he wants to stay, because the conservative majority of the board hired DeJoy. Biden could fill the three openings on the board, but Congress would need to confirm them.

DeJoy apologized to the board for problems with delivery and promised to do better, but his vision for the future includes even deeper service cuts, more expensive postage and services, and lower delivery commitments. Already one-time delivery of non-first class mail last month dropped to 38 percent, half of the same month in the previous year. Without DeJoy, the USPS could come back, especially if Congress passes its legislation rescinding the law requiring the agency to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree benefits—something no other government agency requires. This mandate is responsible for putting the USPS billions of dollars in debt giving DeJoy and the GOP leverage for their changes. Democrats have also been pushing an expansion into postal banking to both provide more revenue and give over 7 million unbanked Americans with options for checking and savings accounts, bill payments, small loans, and low-fee ATMs instead of usurious payday lenders and check-cashing businesses.

Since the election, the favorability of the GOP has seriously dropped, completely because of changes from Republicans. For the first time in eight years, the Democrats are more favorable than Republicans by double digits. In 25 states, the only ones making voter registration available, 140,000 registered voters have dropped the GOP in the first month after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Only 20 percent of voters think the GOP idea about the stimulus bill being “too much” is right, whereas 79 percent believe the COVID-19 relief package is either “about right” or too small.

And many Republicans, such as state GOPs and several congressional members, continue to sabotage anything Biden does.

February 5, 2021

Biden, Democrats Forge Ahead

The National Defense Authorization Act went into effect last December with a little-known provision, that federal agents must identify themselves to protesters. Until this law, unidentified federal agents could emulate banana republicans by snatching people off the streets. Assaulted and kidnapped people didn’t know until the law whether they were attacked by federal employees or illegitimate, armed vigilantes. Now agents must have visible name labels and insignia marking their government agency, unlike their anonymity in cities across the U.S. during last summer’s protests when they could attack journalists and peaceful protesters with impunity.

This law was one of the few bright lights between the election and the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Now, the new normal has returned to leading—meetings to inform and support people, qualified appointees with experience for their positions, daily civil informative press conferences, and no tweeted insults or slurs—except from the Republicans upset about the Democratic Congress and executive branch.

Instead of nothing happening in the Senate with Mitch McConnell (R-CA) in charge, the Democratic senators charge ahead. After a 15-hour overnight session, the Senate voted about 5:30 am on Friday to move Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package forward so that it could be debated and presented for a final vote. VP Kamala Harris  cast the deciding vote in 51 to 50. Democrats voted for some of the GOP amendments before all Republicans voted against addressing the final bill without a filibuster. The bill passed the House in the afternoon, and Senate can move forward with debate to a simple majority vote. Republicans followed their usual pattern when voting for bills while Democrats have the majority: insist on their changes and then vote against it en masse.

Last week, ten GOP senators met with Biden with their version of a bill for only one-third the amount Biden requested. Again, the Republicans followed their usual pattern: ignore “austerity” with a Republican president, but bring back cuts after a Democratic becomes president. Under Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Republicans gave an extra $2 trillion to the wealthy and big businesses with the 2017 tax cuts, passed two stimulus bills worth over $3 trillion, and jacked up expenditures for the military while trying to pull out of the Middle East. Republicans in the administration also guaranteed that a large percentage of the two stimulus bills would go to their friends, donors, and big business. In the first stimulus bill, Republicans buried a tax break giving 80 percent of the benefits to 43,000 millionaires at a loss of $250 billion for the government.

Biden’s administration succeeded in expanding the New START agreement with Russia requiring limits on nuclear weapons in both Russia and the U.S. until 2026. The U.S. will also get a better view of Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Russia has been in compliance with the deal since it went into force in 2011. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his department is working on another agreement with Russia to regulate smaller arms, “battlefield” or “tactical” nuclear weapons, falling outside the New START accord, and an agreement with China. Failing to extend the agreement, DDT had told Russia that it must include the two proposed ideas before he would sign it. DDT abandoned the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019 and the Open Skies Treaty allowing mutual reconnaissance flights in 2020.

Blinken also called on Russia to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, sentenced for almost three years to a penal colony. Russians poisoned Navalny, who recovered and then insisted on returning to the country. Sergey Maximishin, a senior doctor at the Russian hospital where Navalny was treated after the poisoning, “suddenly” died at the age of 55. The hospital did not list a cause of death although the regional health ministry said “preliminary data” indicated a heart attack.

In an interview with CBS News, Biden said DDT should not receive intelligence briefings because he was “unfit to be president” and had “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.” Biden confirmed former opinions about DDT being “an existential threat,” “dangerous,” and “reckless.” According to Biden:

“I just think that there is no need for [DDT] to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

Seventeen days into his presidency, Biden has taken 48 actions—executive orders, presidential declamations, and memoranda. Over one-third related to health policy, including several executive actions about the pandemic response. Nine actions concern immigration, revoking DDT’s directives, and another two are environmental reforms, one of them revoking or revising 15 of DDT’s energy and environmental actions and reinstating two of President Obama’s revoked actions. Other directives cover gender and racial equality, the economy, trade, national security, and ethics in government. The listing is available here.

One controversial order reverses the gag rule on international family planning organizations. Called the “Mexico City Policy,” the policy allowing groups receiving public funds to tell patients about abortion has ping-ponged between presidents since Ronald Reagan adopted it. GOP presidents enforce it; Democratic presidents remove it. DDT went even farther by issuing a domestic gag rule. Taxpayer support for abortion is already prohibited, but DDT blocked organizations receiving federal funds from saying the word “abortion.” Biden told the HHS to “consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind” the so-called domestic gag rule. He told officials to be undoing the regulatory process is required to undo the domestic gag rule.

According to an analysis of studies, the Mexico City Policy eliminating information about abortion increases abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa. High exposure to it raised the rates by 40 percent along with a 14-percent decline in use of modern contraceptives and a 12-percent increase in pregnancies. Access to and use of contraception is vital to preventing unintended pregnancies and thus reducing abortion, including unsafe abortion.

Under acting AG Monty Wilkinson, the DOJ rescinded two memos about voter fraud investigation. Under DDT, former AG Bill Barr had permitted the department to interfere in states’ vote certification. Barr’s order allowed prosecutors to interview witnesses with no permission from District Election Officers. A second Barr order allowed a reduction of coronavirus-related expansions of voting access, including greater early or absentee voting.

The DOJ dropped a discrimination case against Yale University that claimed the school weren’t fair to White and Asian applicants. DDT supported the case in opposition to attempting greater racial diversity by factoring in applicants’ race and country of origin for admissions, long reinforced by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court removed arguments for two immigration cases in February per a request from Biden’s acting solicitor general Elizabeth B. Prelogar. She asked for a delay in cases concerned a funding dispute about the southern border wall and DDT’s policy mandating asylum seekers to wait in Mexico because wall construction has been halted, and the asylum program is being reviewed. The immigration case has its third name in two weeks, Mayorkas (Pekoske, Wolf) v. Innovation Law Lab, because Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as the new DHS secretary by a 56-43 vote—the first confirmed DHS secretary for almost two years.   

In addition to confirming the first Latino and immigrant for a DHS secretary, the Senate also confirmed its first gay Cabinet member after Pete Buttigieg became Secretary of Transportation with an 86-13 vote. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) did not vote in either Buttigieg’s and Mayorkas’ confirmations. The map (left) shows the “no votes” for Buttigieg—yellow for one senator, red indicating both senators. All 13 senators who declared he didn’t have enough experience voted to install Ben Carson for HUD and Betsy DeVos for Education departments as well as supporting all DDT’s inexperienced judges.

To get low-income families online, Jessica Rosenworcel, new acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is moving the FCC into expansion of a broadband services discount program to cover remote schooling. Comcast has voluntarily doubled its internet speeds for people on government assistance. E-Rate offers schools and libraries discounts on equipment and services for internet access. COVID-19, however has closed these facilities, forcing many students to use access from nearby fast-food restaurants. Former FCC Chair Ajit Pai had refused the expansion.

Biden will choose Timothy Lenderking, former State Department official focused on the Middle East area, as his envoy to Yemen in an indication the U.S. will try to end the conflict starving millions of people. The United States will no longer support military operations in Yemen although the U.S. will continue the fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition including the U.S. indiscriminately bombed Yemeni civilians and targeted the already partially-destroyed infrastructure.

Robert Malley, who helped negotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is special envoy for Iran. The appointee earlier warned DDT his maximum pressure on Iran from the military and sanctions which devastated the economy accomplished very little.

Wisconsin Republicans have overturned the state’s mask requirement, and Iowa requires neither masks nor social distancing. On February 5, 2021, the number of deaths from COVID-19 reached 470,705. If the average of deaths continues at this rate, the U.S. will be at 500,000 deaths from the virus by the middle of February without counting excess deaths. Wisconsin’s removal of the mask mandate also lost the state $50 million a month for food stamps. The governor reissued the mask mandate, and the state legislature is working on a law to get the federal funding back.

February 4, 2021

Biden: The Move Back to Governing

Two astonishing things happened on Thursday. Both were predictable, but the first was refreshing after four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). In President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy address, he provided the United States is back—and Biden is governing through diplomacy and rejection of authoritarianism.

Russia: Biden clearly told Vladimir Putin the U.S. is through “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions,” specifically referring to the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after Putin’s failure to kill Navalny with a nerve poison. 

Yemen: Biden said the U.S. will not support “offensive operations” and instead increase humanitarian aid in the country devastated by DDT’s friend Saudi Arabia. A special envoy at the State Department is to work toward ending the conflict. Biden has also frozen these DDT’s arms sales to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates while he investigates if U.S. weapons are being used to continue the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen, causing thousands of civilian deaths and overwhelming hunger.

Myanmar: Biden asked House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a bipartisan response to persuade the military to release detained activists and officials and end the coup in the Southeast Asian nation.

Other Biden actions include a memorandum protecting LGBTQ rights worldwide, an increase in refugees permitted into the U.S. to 125,000 (instead of DDT’s 15,000) in the fiscal year beginning October 1, and a freeze on DDT’s deployment of U.S. troops from Germany. Biden told State Department employees, “We’re going to rebuild our alliances. We’re going to reengage the world and take on the enormous challenges we face.” Biden added that in his administration employees will “be trusted and empowered to do your job. [It will] not target or politicize you.” As Biden said, “America is back.”   

On the bottom of the strata, 199 GOP members of the House endorsed QAnon conspiracy theories and incitement to violence by voting against removing committee assignments from newly sworn-in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led the exoneration when he told the assembled House members that Greene had assured him she didn’t echo QAnon statements or if she did, she didn’t mean them now. Videos show Greene had lied to him, and he accepted her lies without looking into her background. Her writings in 2019 refute her claim she broke away from QAnon in 2018 and knew nothing about “space lasers,” controlled by a wealthy Jewish family, causing California forest fires.

Documentation clearly shows Greene either supported or stated graphic threats to kill Democratic political figures such as Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She didn’t withdraw her threats when she gave her speech to the House, only justifying herself by saying she was “allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” While campaigning last September, Green posted an image of three progressive Democratic House members—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Rashida Tlaib (MI)—next to her photo holding an AR-15 with the caption, “Squad’s Worst Nightmare.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Chair of the Rules Committee, said:

“I just have to say that I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the claim, the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with. I didn’t hear anybody apologize or retract the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic remarks that have been made, that have been posted, over and over again.”

Greene called being the mother of three children “the greatest blessing of my life and the greatest thing that I’ll ever achieve. One of her children responded with a tweet, calling her mother “batsh*t f**king crazy.”

Instead of taking responsibility, Greene blamed the media. In her speech, she said they were “just as guilty as QAnon for promoting lies.”

With their unwillingness to defend Greene’s outrageous statements, GOP representatives claimed the House had no right to remove her from committees. McCarthy called it “unprecedented” because the opposite party has never taken away committee assignments. Greene’s statements are also “unprecedented”: never before has a lawmaker threatened the unwarranted executions of legislators, a U.S. president, and other officials in the opposing party. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) described the vote as a “slippery slope” but overlooked the “slope” of permitting a lawmaker to make these threats without a penalty.

Eleven House Republicans voted with 219 Democrats to remove Greene’s committee assignments:

  • California – Young Kim
  • Florida – Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimeniz, Maria Elvira Salazar (all three from the southern part of the state where a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a high school, a tragedy which Greene called a staged “false flag”)
  • Illinois – Adam Kinzinger
  • Michigan – Fred Upton
  • New Jersey – Chris Smith
  • New York – Chris Jacobs,  John Katko, Nicole Malliotakis (representatives of the 9/11 tragedy location killing 3,000 which Greene originally said didn’t happen)
  • Pennsylvania – Brian Fitzpatrick

On Wednesday, almost 30 percent of the Republicans secretly voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her party leadership position in the House because she had voted to impeach DDT. Thursday, she voted to leave Greene on the committees but condemned her statements, stating, “Republicans are not the party of QAnon conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, or Neo-Nazis.” After the 95-percent GOP support for Greene, she sounds wrong. Greene’s statements cannot be separated from her political philosophy.

In the past 15 days, the GOP has supported conspiracy theories, and state GOP leaders censured anti-DDT Republicans. At the same time, the country has approved Biden’s executive directives and ideas: demonstrated approval for many of Biden’s actions during the past 15 days:  

  • 83 percent: extending the anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ. (Even 64 percent of self-identified Republicans support the executive order.)
  • 77 percent: committing to a government-wide focus on racial equality, with 52 percent of Republicans approving.
  • 71 percent: a Gallup poll showing a support of transgender people in the military.
  • 68 percent: continuing suspension of federal student loan repayments.
  • 66 percent: continuing eviction ban.
  • 65 percent: extending the DACA program.
  • 65 percent: a Pew poll last year indicating people believing the government does too little on climate change.
  • 63 percent: rejoining the Paris climate agreement.
  • 62 percent: rejoining the World Health Organization.
  • 61 percent: recommitting to the Paris climate agreement.
  • 57 percent: reexamining DDT policies on public health and the environment.
  • 56 percent: allowing noncitizens to be counted in the U.S. Census.
  • 53 percent: stopping the southern border wall.
  • 52 percent: ending the Muslim travel ban to the U.S.

A moratorium on drilling in the Arctic refuge and revoking the permit for the Keystone gained supporting pluralities. And 68 percent of people in the U.S. supports Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University. As Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said about the bill, “It is bipartisan amongst the American people.” Another 61 percent supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and the same percentage is optimistic about Biden’s next four years in office. 

Biden created a task force to reunite migrant children after DDT separated them at the southern border from their families. Another Biden directive reviews opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country. Biden ordered the State Department to consider the suspension of rapidly deporting migrants seeking protection to Central America. More “cooperative agreements” would replace those with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras although DDT’s appointees still refuse migrants entry or deport them. DDT was responsible for over 400 immigration-related executive actions during his four-year term.

Biden also resumed relations with Palestinian leaders and returned U.S. contributions to the UN agency giving aid to Palestinians. DDT cut off all support four years ago to please Israel. Richard Mills, acting U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the new administration wants a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state.” DDT closed the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization; halted contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency aiding Palestinian refugees and their descendants; moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital; recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and proposed a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place.

Biden is also correcting DDT’s removal of disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people.

Biden restored the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), initiated by George H.W. Bush. It protects scientists from political interference and ensures federal decisions across the agencies are based on science whenever possible. An accompanying memo states, “Science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government.” A task force will evaluate scientific-integrity policies across the government. A chief science officer will ensure agencies follow the task force guidelines and provide annual reporting for complaints about guidelines not being followed and the investigation’s outcomes. Biden has moved from evidence-free to evidence-based.

On his first day, Biden issued an executive order requiring the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review regulations proposed by the executive branch. It calls for appropriate offices to “provide concrete suggestions on how the regulatory review process can promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.” The entire executive order is well worth reading.

DDT postured and bullied for four years; Biden is governing.

January 26, 2021

Biden: An Amazing Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the White House press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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