Nel's New Day

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 6, 2021

Some Political News of Cheer

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 10:50 PM
Tags: ,

Yesterday Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) gave his first major speech since February. Looking for attention, he was sure to be disappointed after no major news networks, including Fox, broadcast his low-energy, whining 85 minutes. Only the right-wing networks Newsmax and One America News aired the event. DDT did gain attention from wearing pants with no front zipper, producing claims that he might have put them on backwards. About DDT’s hopes to be instated to the White House in August, his former campaign manager Corey Landowski told Fox network earlier in the day that DDT “lost the election.”

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is obviously the president. On Memorial Day, he commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre in person, the first of 18 presidents to take part in this remembrance. Rejecting the long-time descriptor of attacks by Whites that decimated the upper-middle class community of Blacks as a “race riot,” he said, “This was not a riot; this was a massacre.” One-hundred years ago, a violent white supremacist mob destroyed 1,100 Black homes and businesses in under 24 hours. Insurance refused claims, and officials refused to prosecute anyone. At Biden’s speech and earlier testifying at a House hearing were three survivors: Viola Fletcher, 107; Lessie Benningfield Randle, 106; and Hughes Van Ellis, 100. In his speech, Biden said:

“Terrorism from white supremacy is the most lethal threat to the homeland today,” he said. “Not ISIS, not al Qaeda. White supremacy.”

More Biden actions:

Signing an anti-corruption national security memo, directing federal agencies and departments to report, within 30 days, best ways to fight global corruption. Biden’s memo lists problems fostered by the former administration: erosion of public trust, the chance for authoritarian leaders to flourish and subvert democracy, an increase in security concerns, and economic damage.

Ending DDT’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, forcing possible asylum seekers to remain in danger outside the U.S. to await the resolution of their immigration cases.

Reversing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain by suspending nine leases issued the few days before DDT left the White House. Biden will conduct a new environmental review of the program to determine the 10-year leases’ status. No major oil companies bid on the leases, and seven of them went to a state-owned agency.

Reviewing and revising DDT’s regulations to roll back protections for endangered and threatened species. DDT’s rules would have allowed more oil and gas drilling as well as limited considerations of climate crisis impacts.

Complying with a March court ruling that found DDT acted unlawfully in 2019 by eliminating limits on pork plant line speeds and ignoring injury risks to workers. Plant owners have until the end of the month to reduce speeds to the legal limit of 18 hogs per minute. High speeds are correlated with musculoskeletal injuries, cuts, and amputations. DDT allowed eight large plants to increase speeds as much as they wanted and replaced USDA inspectors on slaughter lines with their own employees. The court did not rule on the latter problem.

Expanding access to legal representation and the courts. Biden’s memorandum requires a plan from the attorney general, within 120 days, to submit a plan increasing the DOJ’s “access to justice work.” The memorandum also re-establishes the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable to prioritize civil legal aid and expand access to federal programs, established in 2015 and eliminated in the last administration. Its purpose is to “raise federal agencies’ awareness of how civil legal aid could increase employment, family stability, housing security, consumer protection, and public safety.”

Signing a hate crimes law after rising attacks on Asian Americans. Overwhelming support in the Congress passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, making the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at local and state levels, by boosting public outreach, and ensuring multiple languages online for reporting resources. A point person will expedite review of hate crimes related to COVID-19, and the law authorizes grants to state and local governments for crime-reduction programs preventing and responding to hate crimes. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was the only senator in opposition, and 62 House Republicans voted against the bill.

Encouraging more COVID vaccinations by moving the process to barbershops and hair salons, known as hubs of the Black communities, during “a national month of action.” Biden’s goal is to have 70 percent of adult people in the U.S. have at least one shot by the Fourth of July. Other perks include free food delivery, baseball tickets, Xboxes, and lotteries for cruise tickets, groceries for a year, and airline flights. Over 63 percent of adults have been vaccinated.

Removing four members on Commission on Fine Arts appointed by DDT on January 12. The seven-member Commission, all DDT-appointed, was part of DDT’s executive order mandating classical architecture for all new federal buildings to create his preferred national style. Leader of the push on the Commission for classical style, Justin Shubow, refused to resign, saying he had been appointed for four years. Biden told him he could leave voluntarily or be terminated the same day. Biden plans a wider range of aesthetic viewpoints including an architect who worked on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

More progress:

After Europeans persecuted Native Americans in America for over four centuries, Supreme Court justices unanimously affirmed the sovereign power of American Indian tribes to temporarily detain and search non-Indians on public rights-of-way through Indian lands. Although local governments in the U.S. can investigate and prosecute both misdemeanors and felonies, tribal governments lost their ability to prosecute non-Indians for crimes in Indian country through a 1978 Supreme Court decision. Instead, tribes had to rely on state and federal governments for this prosecution, and most non-Indians committed crimes on Indian land with impunity. The new ruling permits tribal police, usually first responders, to search non-Indians suspected of state or federal crimes on Indian land and detain them until delivering them to the appropriate authorities.

DDT-supporters are so fixated on removing any information about Blacks in the United States that the leaders of the American Legion post in Hudson (OH) cut off retired Army Lt. Col Barnard Kemter’s microphone on Memorial Day when he spoke about the earlier commemoration being organized by Black people. The chair of the Memorial Day parade committee had asked Kempter, a veteran of 30 years service, to omit this information. When he didn’t, she and the American Legion post officer/president cut his sound. The audio engineer told Kempter that event organizers tampered with the volume. Kempter’s speech told how Blacks honored Union soldiers who died as prisoners of war by properly burying them, decorating their graves, and organizing a parade for them. The president resigned, and the post’s charter is suspended “pending permanent closure.”  

The FBI is investigating a scheme to illegally finance Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-ME) 2020 re-election: a Hawaii defense contractor may have funneled $150,000 to the pro-Collins super PAC. She helped the contractor obtain an $8 million Navy contract before the transactions. CEO of the contracting company, Martin Kao, was indicted last year for allegedly cheating the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief loans. Bank records show an illegal “straw” donation because the company reimbursed some of Kao’s colleagues for their contributions and Kao illegally reimbursed family members who donated to the PAC. Collins’ spokesperson said Collins knew nothing about the donations. Government contractors cannot legally donate to federal political committees.

The 182-year-old Virginia Military Institute (VMI) has a “racist and sexist culture,” according to an independent investigation. It has a fierce resistance to change and a fear of retaliation among anyone wishing to report bigotry or sexual misconduct. “Institutional racism and sexism are present, tolerated, and left unaddressed at VMI,” according to the report that recommends a sweeping reform plan with quarterly reports to the state.

Half the Black students “strongly or somewhat agree,” whereas only ten percent of White students do. Some White cadets insist the problem at VMI is racism against Whites. Those surveyed said the military academy’s gender equity issues are worse than the racial ones. Fourteen percent of female cadets reported they had been sexually assaulted, and 63 percent of female cadets said another cadet had told them about being sexually assaulted. Female students said, “Male cadets treat [campus sexual assault training] as a joke and an opportunity for misogynistic humor, without consequence.”

The report also criticized the school for not cooperating with the investigation and denying any serious problems on campus. Despite stalling in the beginning months of the probe at VMI, however, change has started. The longtime superintendent resigned and been replaced by the first Black superintendent in the school’s history. He determined VMI will stop publicly shaming expelled students from violating the honor code by announcing their names in middle-of-the-night “drum out” ceremonies. The school also removed the statue of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson, slave owner and VMI professor, after years of students objecting to its presence.

A Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut carbon emissions 45 percent by 2030 compared with 2019 levels. This ruling may set climate litigation into motion.

Today is the anniversary of D-Day, the turning point against the Nazis in World War II. May the U.S.—and the world—defeat the authoritarianism of the past few years.

May 2, 2021

Biden’s First 100 Days

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 10:16 PM
Tags: , , , ,

President Joe Biden celebrated his first 100 days last Thursday, the day after his highly successful speech to a joint congressional session. That arbitrary number representing a president’s honeymoon period comes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s announcement about what he would do in that time because of the disastrous financial situation he inherited from Herbert Hoover. The marker, however, demonstrates what can be suspected from the new person on the job. With a narrow House majority and ten senators short of the 60 percent required by the Senate for passing most bills, Biden used reconciliation to pass the well-liked stimulus bill as he promised.

How Biden’s other promises fared during his first 100 days:

  • Administer 100 million vaccinations: By his 99th day, 220 million vaccinations had been delivered.
  • Reopen a majority of elementary and middle-schools: By February, about 47 percent of these schools were offering full-time, in-person classes.
  • Enact a mask mandate: An executive order requires mask-wearing, social distancing, and other public health measures in federal buildings and on federal lands.
  • Pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package: The American Rescue Plan Act has passed.
  • Repeal his predecessor’s tax cuts: The proposed infrastructure bill, popular with the U.S. people, would replace half the corporate tax cut, taking it back to 28 percent.
  • Change taxes on overseas profits: His new proposal would tax foreign profits at 21 percent, an increase over the current 10.5 percent and eliminate loopholes, one of which allows corporations to move taxes from one county to another for the absolutely lowest rate.
  • Reverse Trump’s environmental rollbacks: Biden’s changes to energy and environmental policy overturned 29 of his predecessor’s 100 policies and finalized 19 of his own with dozens more changes and eight new ones in progress.
  • Rejoin the Paris climate accord: Biden signed an executive order rejoining the agreement.
  • Convene a world climate summit: Also done with leaders of 40 countries meeting on April 22-23 where the U.S. made new commitments to fight climate change and meet goals in the Paris agreement.
  • Revoke the Keystone XL permit: Again finished with an executive order to rescind the permit for the pipeline carrying tar sands—heavy bitumen—from northern Alberta (Canada) to Gulf Coast refineries before it is sold off to foreign countries.
  • Bring troops home from Afghanistan: Biden’s plan finishes the task by September 21, 2021.
  • Rejoin the World Health Organization: On his first day, Biden reversed the U.S. withdrawal from the organization.
  • Rejoin the Iran nuclear deal: Diplomatic talks focus on a deal in which Iran retreats from nuclear weapons in exchange for international sanctions relief.
  • Create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: Biden’s proposal includes his campaign priorities, and congressional Democrats filed legislation, working against GOP opposition.  
  • Rescind the ban on travel from majority-Muslim countries: An executive order on Biden’s first day accomplished this promise, and later he resumed processing visas for people affected by the ban.
  • Appoint a Cabinet that “looks like America”: His historic firsts in appointments—female treasury secretary, gay secretary, and Native American secretary–are members of the group in which half are non-White and 46 percent are women.
  • Reverse the transgender military ban: Days into his presidency, Biden signed an executive order effecting this goal.
  • Create a commission on changing the court system: He formed a 36-member commission on April 9 to study changes to the Supreme Court with a report on topics such as court expansion and term limits to be completed in 180 days—but only for the high court.
  • Enact the Equality Act: In February, the House passed legislation to add federal civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the 1964 Civil Rights Act; the Senate has not yet addressed it.
  • Pass the Voting Rights Act: In March, the House passed H.R. 1—For the People Act—but the Senate requires ten GOP senators to accept it in addition to the Democratic majority.
  • Empower unions: During his first few days in office, Biden signed several executive orders to strengthen federal unions and overturned several of his predecessor’s anti-union policies; later he pushed in favor of 6,000 Amazon workers attempting to unionize in Alabama.
  • Send legislation on gun control to Congress: Biden’s executive orders could not address the necessary sweeping changes, and GOP congressional members see no need for laws despite the majority wishes of the people. 
  • Create a national commission on police restructuring: On April 11, Biden decided to use congressional legislation instead of a commission.

A chart of promises and accomplishments is here. 

Biden signed 106 executive actions in his first 100 days, more than any recent president after a partisan change. Twenty of Biden’s executive orders reverse those his predecessor with over 60 prior orders revoked in total. During the first 100 days of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), he reversed 14 orders. Biden’s actions are here.

DDT bragged about his amazing economy, using the stock market as his sole criterion. During his first 100 days, the Dow Jones increased 6.12 percent; it went up 9.34 percent in Biden’s first 100 days despite DDT’s and the Republicans’ predictions of doom and gloom.

Although Biden’s approval as a president is lower than former Democratic presidents at the 100-day mark, he’s much higher than DDT’s approval at that time, and ratings show approval of his actions and direction. Almost two-thirds of people (64 percent) are optimistic about the direction of the country. As for the problem of unity, two-thirds of the people think congressional GOP leaders are doing too little to compromise with Biden. Two-thirds also support Biden’s $1.9 trillion ARPA which sent into effect in March. A majority also backs Biden’s proposed infrastructure and family plans.  

Biden’s speech on his 99th day was phenomenal in its difference from speeches of his predecessor. “Because of you” was an expression Biden used, sometimes even referring to Republicans, to credit the accomplishments of the first 100 days instead of DDT’s frequent claim, “Only I can do it.” DDT’s speeches, like statements from Republicans, were and are consumed by grievances and revenge; even his Mar-a-Lago speeches to guests focus on the “stolen” election lie. The GOP currently has no policies or messages while Biden is filled with plans to help the people of the United States.

During Biden’s campaign, Republicans ridiculed his age and warned voters he was too old for the job of president. Yet 59 percent of younger voters ages 18 to 29 approve of Biden now, much higher than 34 percent of young adults a year ago. A majority of young voters want government help with poverty, health care, and stopping climate change. Over three-fourths don’t trust Facebook or Twitter “to do the right thing,” and 58 percent believe political leaders should be held to stricter standards on social media than ordinary citizens. Another 52 percent support a permanent Twitter ban for DDT, whose standing is now down to 32 percent among all age groups of adults, a drop of 8 percent since January. 

On Biden’s 101st day, last Friday, he signed another 11 executive proclamations, some of them recognizing celebrations of groups and organizations. May is heritage month for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, and Jewish Americans. It is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, National Building Safety Month, National Foster Care Month and National Mental Health Awareness Month. May 1 commemorated Law Day, and National Teacher Appreciation Week begins on May 3. One proclamation stopped non-citizens coming to the U.S. if they have been in India for 14 days before the desired entry date because of the coronavirus danger.

Above all else, as former Republican Max Boot writes:

“Joe Biden has an unbeatable advantage: He is not Donald Trump. Simply by not inciting his supporters to attack the Capitol and not telling them to take hydroxychloroquine, President Biden looks infinitely better than his predecessor.”

Boot continues with “the night-and-day differences”:

“Biden has been scandal-free…

“The 46th president doesn’t play lose and free with the truth: The Post fact-checker counted only 67 false or misleading claims during Biden’s first 100 days compared with 511 for Trump in the same period.

“Biden has picked well-qualified appointees who know what they are doing. Trump stocked his administration with relatives (Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump), far-right extremists (Stephen K. Bannon, Peter Navarro, Stephen Miller), lickspittles (CIA Director Mike Pompeo), clueless rich people (Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson) and ethical disasters (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, EPA chief Scott Pruitt). National security adviser Michael Flynn had to resign after just 24 days for lying to the FBI. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has already served four times longer than Flynn. So far there isn’t a single clunker among Biden’s senior selections.

“Biden is making real progress on the biggest issues facing America—the unemployment rate is declining while the number of vaccinations is skyrocketing… [And much more including Biden confronting “real threats” while “Trump fixated on imaginary dangers.”]

“Biden is reasserting America’s international leadership…

“Biden is turning down the temperature on our politics. Although Biden is obviously no fan of Trump, he does not go out of his way to trash his predecessor the way that Trump did with Barack Obama…

“Biden hasn’t gotten everything right…  But you have to give Biden credit: He is actually trying to do his job rather than simply drawing attention to himself. That is something we once could take for granted. Now we have to be grateful that we no longer have to wake up every day wondering what crazy, damn fool thing the president just said.”

Biden’s first 100 days: hope for the future instead of fear and dread.

April 30, 2021

Socialist Republicans Lambast Biden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the far-right:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 29, 2021

Can Democracy Compete with Autocracy?

Filed under: Joe Biden — trp2011 @ 12:25 AM
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Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who the GOP drags out for lying reasons to be elected, wanted equality for all—both before the law and in gaining resources. At that time, the GOP gave land to people, built railroads, created public colleges, and legislated Black equality. Another Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, regulated business and supported labor. Now, Republicans block help for people by opposing such legislation as expanding infrastructure and making voting available for all eligible voters.

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

Tonight Biden said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Biden quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 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.      

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