Nel's New Day

August 7, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act Passes!

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed at 3:18 pm EST on Sunday, August 7, 2022 with the anticipated partisan 51-50 votes and VP Kamala Harris breaking the tie. Part of the all-night event was the presentation of amendments to highlight the politics of the senators. Each senator was required read their amendment aloud from the Senate floor, and each side had only one minute to argue for or against the proposal before a vote. Amendments violating the Byrd Rule, requiring a non-tangential impact on spending, revenues or the debt limit, required 60 votes to pass them.

Two amendments passed of the 35 amendments and motions regarding the bill, most of them from Republicans who said they wouldn’t vote for the bill even if their amendments passed. Samples of failing amendments:

  • Prohibiting the IRS from accessing its additional money in the bill until 90 percent of the agency’s employees were back to work in person. – Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Prohibiting the new IRS funds from audits of taxpayer incomes under $400,000 annually. – Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Replacing the health and energy subsidies in the legislation with permanent, 100-percent bonus depreciation. – Pat Toomey (R-PA)   
  • Extending the $2,000 Child Tax Credit (CTC) as expanded under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which would cause at least one Democrat to vote against the IRA. – John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Blocking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring companies to publicly disclose climate-related information. – Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • Opening up Outer Continental Shelf areas for energy exploration.
  • Preventing migrants from entering the U.S. while awaiting asylum.
  • Expanding health care benefits to Medicare dental, vision and hearing benefits  because it would have lost too much revenue in this bill. – Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  Requiring Medicare not to pay more for prescription drugs than the Department of Veterans. – Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  

Republicans killed the cap on insulin costs for private insurance. In the U.S., insulin costs five to ten times as in other economically developed countries, and almost 80 percent with diabetes taking insulin says the cost creates financial difficulty. The GOP blocked a limit of insulin co-payments to $35 a month. Among likely voters, 61 percent strongly support the cap which still exists for those insured by Medicare insurance.

Democrats will likely use the GOP opposition to capping the cost of insulin for campaigning. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), a U.S. senator candidate, released this statement directed at his opponent, Mehmet Oz:

“Dr. Oz and his Republican friends in Washington want you to pay outrageous prices for lifesaving medications, like insulin. No one should have to ration the medication they need to survive.

“Insulin should be capped at $35 for everyone. Republicans just blocked that from becoming a reality.

“Dr. Oz won’t stand up to Big Pharma because he’s not only palled around with them and promoted their products on his shows, he’s also invested in the companies that are raking in billions while helping drive up costs and force families to ration insulin. When Oz’s Pharma CEO buddies make more cash, he makes more cash.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) caused more problems to support her big businesses donors by backing a GOP amendment to protect businesses relying on capital investment from private equity groups from the 15 percent corporate minimum tax in the IRA. Other Democrats, some of them up for reelection this year, also voted for the amendment: Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Maggie Hassan (NH), Mark Kelly (AZ), Jon Ossoff (GA), Jacky Rosen (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA). Revenue would have come from a one-year extension of the 2017 tax law cut on state and local tax deductions (SALT), hitting residents of high-tax blue states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California.

After that amendment passed, Mark Warner (D-VA) offered another amendment to replace the SALT cap extension with another tax provision raising revenue of $35 billion. Harris cast the vote to break the partisan tie. Revenue comes from companies required to declare income based on generally accepted accounting practices, stricter than required under current law allowing tax breaks and shelters shielding income from the IRS.

Even with the Democrats’ support to help big business, many will be paying more taxes. The 15 percent requirement is only for companies with annual average earnings over $1 billion or $100 million earned in the U.S. for foreign-owned businesses. Only 150 companies fit this category, i.e., Amazon, paying only six percent in federal taxes on its $35 billion in profits last year. With almost $30 billion profits last year, AT&T received $1.2 billion more in rebates than it paid in taxes. Bank of America, which didn’t benefit from accelerated depreciation, paid a three-percent federal tax from 2018 to 2019; FedEx, which accelerated depreciation for all its tax breaks, had a negative tax rate for that time period. This IRA provision may limit the extent of share repurchases to boost their stock prices and reward investors. Before the bill’s passage, Apple planned to buy back up to $90 billion in stocks this year, and Morgan Stanley and Nike announced $20 billion and $18 billion buybacks respectively.

The biggest surprise in the past week during the IRA public negotiations was the support of Joe Manchin (D-WV), who earlier said he would vote only for bipartisan bills. He tweeted his explanation of his change from his negative position:

“My R[epublican] friends have made clear they’re completely unwilling to support this bill under any condition. None of their amendments would change that. For this reason, I’ll vote to protect the integrity of the IRA regardless of the substance of their fake amendments.”

Democrats pandered to Manchin by abandoning provisions such as free prekindergarten for all and paid family and medical leave for workers nationwide while providing support for fossil fuels.

Although inflation won’t immediately drop to pre-COVID levels without the benefits of the Democrats initial Build Back Better plan, the IRA will help healthcare costs and fight the threat of climate change. It keeps insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act through 2025 to make this insurance more affordable for those who obtain their insurance through the healthcare marketplace. If these subsidies had sunset this year, as originally legislated, millions of people qualifying for free health insurance when Congress eliminated the income cap would have paid premiums.

According to Newsweek’s factcheck, IRA does not increase taxes for people earning less than $400,000, a common complaint from Republicans. Many economists agree the plan modestly reduces inflation in the long term and improves the federal government’s financial outlook. Jennifer Rumsey, CEO of Cummins specializing in advanced diesel and natural gas engines, said the bill would be “good for the economy and the environment.”

The only GOP criticisms of the bill seem to be their lies about increased taxes and inflation. The minute that people, who want the bill passed by almost three-fourths of the voters, benefit from its provisions, all the Republicans, who voted against it, will take credit for it—just as House Republicans did for the benefits of Biden’s and the Democrats’ massive infrastructure bill passed last November with only six GOP votes.

During the Senate marathon voting, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) gave a 108-minute speech at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) summit that managed to out-fascist the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In DDT’s perception, his loss led the U.S. to out-of-control crime, inflation, and unemployment, which he stated at three times more than the existing 3.5 percent. He said his doctor, Ronny Jackson who was fired for his drinking on the job and other misbehaviors, “loved to look at my body. It was so strong and powerful.” Jackson is now a U.S. representative from Texas.

After introducing the QAnon trio in the House—Matt Gaetz (FL), Lauren Boebert (CO), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA)—he said they needed “to deal with the radical left socialist lunatic fascists.” Michael Hardy, senior editor at the Texas Monthly, said DDT’s criticism about Biden surrendering “our strength” had “echoes of the Nazi ‘stab in the back theory’ of losing WW1.” The lines about “blood of innocent victims” in “Democrat-run cities [sic]” compared to “literal blood-and-soil rhetoric.” DDT called for a military takeover of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Hardy said:

“Trump’s rhetoric is significantly more extreme than even a few years ago. This might be most frightening speech I’ve ever heard. Full-on, unapologetic fascism. Trump has either been reading Mein Kampf or having someone read it to him.”

As usual, DDT dwelled on his lies of election fraud, attacked LGBTQ people, and teased a 2024 presidential return. He also joined the other speakers in defending insurrectionists while threating violence. DDT presented his policies of a police state: about the opposing  party, “we have to hit them very, very hard, it has to be a crippling defeat.” He plans to use the National Guard to gun down Black, immigrant, and left-wing workers—anyone brave enough to demonstrate for democracy—with no approval of state governors.

The next two elections will provide a path for the United States into one of two directions—fascism or democracy.

August 6, 2022

Inflation Reduction Act Heads for a Vote

A Senate vote of 51-50 has sent the climate/healthcare/tax reduction bill for debate and a final vote by Sunday morning with all Republicans opposed. During a rare Saturday vote in the Senate, Democrats want to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) before Republicans head off for over a month at home trying to explain to their constituents why they are voting against the measure. Sad to say, the chamber’s parliamentarian has nixed lower prescription prices for the reconciliation (aka budget) process, and Republicans will be able to charge their constituents much more for medications. That way, GOP politicians can get bigger donations from the pharmaceutical industry. To beat the filibuster, ten Republicans would have to agree that 180 million people deserve fairer prices, and they won’t be doing that in order to deny any win for Democrats.

The parliamentarian’s and GOP decision will mean tens of millions of dollars lost in federal savings because drug prices, some of them paid for by the government, can be increased much higher than inflation as drug companies are doing. Yet this provision of the measure was the only one to fail the “Byrd bath,” so called because of the “Bryd Act” from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) passed in 1985. Reconciliation must be “germane to the budget” and cannot be considered an “extraneous matter,” confusing to those who see the government saving money with lowered drug prices as part of the budget. Byrd may have set the pattern for Democratic obstructionism from West Virginia.

Otherwise, the provisions in the IRA have passed the parliamentarian’s testing, including its package providing $369 for climate, much of it for tax credits to support clean energy technologies including consumer credits for “home energy efficiency improvements” and electric vehicles. The bill also retained its Medicare benefits by negotiating some prescription drug prices, capping out-of-pocket costs in Medicare drug plans at $2,000, and providing free vaccines through Medicare.

The ability to avoid the filibuster through the reconciliation process comes from the 1974 Congressional Budget Act (CBA) passed over Richard Nixon’s veto. It permits additional spending compared with additional revenue. Both parties have used the process: in 2017, Republicans used it to lose $2 trillion in revenue by cutting taxes for big business and the wealthy. With reconciliation, the CBA limits debate to 20 hours evenly divided between the two parties before the Senate holds a final simple majority vote on the bill.

Last November, the Build Better Bill was on track to pass through the reconciliation process until Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) torpedoed the bill in December. After seven months of dissension, Manchin agreed to a new bill that he renamed the Inflation Reduction Act. With the new bill on the floor, Republicans can offer challenging amendments to strip the main provisions and force Democrats into votes that can politically damage them in midterm campaigns. Even with these amendments, Democrats can erase changes with a final “substitute” known as a “wraparound” amendment if Manchin will vote for it.

Amendments must be germane to the bill and not cost the government additional money unless they strike provisions in the measure. After the 20-hour debate period, amendments can be presented but not debated. Amendments violating the Byrd Act must be approved by 60 percent of the senators. Anyone presenting an amendment must stand and read it to the Senate. The presentation of amendments after the 20-hour debate is called the “vote-a-rama.” 

When (if) the Senate passes the bill, it goes to the House which will hopefully pass it without changes that would require it to go back to the Senate. GOP senators have promised to make the process as difficult as possible, “’like hell,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He added Democrats “deserve” it. Republicans have also spread lies about the bill which conservative media outlets including Fox have told their audiences such as the lie about the proposed law raising taxes on people making under $400,000.

Republicans said their 2017 tax bill, determined through reconciliation, would lower taxes for everyone in the U.S. It didn’t. Only big business and the wealthy got lower taxes. Now they say that the Inflation Reduction Act will raise taxes for everyone. It doesn’t. This disinformation comes from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) based on the Joint Committee on Taxation which omitted several factors in its analysis, especially the way the new law changes IRS processes. The analysis also overlooks the IRA’s financial benefit to middle-income families. Yet Crapo admits that Ira doesn’t raise taxes on most people.

Graham also claimed the law would make life “more difficult” for people in the U.S., but the opposition is true. In addition to the Medicare benefits, it will:

  • Cut carbon pollution dramatically with emissions in 2030 project at 40 percent below peak levels.
  • Lower energy costs by allowing people to shift to cheaper electricity for home heating, cooking, and driving, a savings of $500 for the average household with total spending on oil down by almost 25 percent over the decade.
  • Create millions of jobs with investment in refurbishing old factories; building new factories; requiring high wages; and mandating apprenticeship training for companies using clean energy tax credits by increasing domestic production of batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.
  • Invest in communities suffering the most from environmental and health hazards that cause health problems and deaths.
  • Crack down on wealthy tax cheats by more fairly enforcing the tax code that has seen income tax audits of households annually earning $5 million or more drop to only two percent in 2019 from over 16 percent in 2010.
  • Fix loopholes allowing wealthy corporations and Wall Street fund managers to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by requiring that each corporation with at least $1 billion worth of profits pay a minimum of 15 percent of their profits in taxes instead of none.
  • Cut inflation and drive down the deficit through fairer taxes; increased supply investing in manufacturing and clean energy; and decreased costs for energy, health care, and prescription drugs.

Ten Republicans were missing for the bill’s first vote, but Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said he expects they will return for the vote, perhaps hoping the Democrats will lose some votes for the required majority. In a petty attack, Republicans claim that Democrats aren’t testing for COVID to keep their vote number up. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) debunked that claim and pointed out Republicans “wouldn’t wear masks…, wouldn’t test…, tested positive and still showed up?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attended the bill’s early votes on Saturday although he tested positive for COVID this week.

Discharged from rehab after an emergency hip replacement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 82, is expected to be present in the Senate chamber. The Senate president pro tempore signed the CHIPS and Science Act at the Capitol on July 29.

Long-time holdout Democratic Manchin never does anything for free—that’s why he’s a multi-millionaire. In this case, his payment is legislation streamlining permits for his state’s 303-mile, two-state Mountain Valley Pipeline and removing jurisdiction from a court that keeps ruling against the project. Nearby residents have fought against the construction of the huge natural gas pipeline that may contaminate rural streams and cause erosion or landslides. It can impact water, endangered species, and public forests. The 4th Circuit Court has ruled against the pipeline for years because developers and permitting agencies skirted regulations during DDT’s control. Now the court may assign the case to a new three-judge panel. The outcome, however, is not actually a done deal.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) willinness to support the IRA came from an obscure tax break called the “carried interest loophole” or “the carry” that taxes private equity and venture capital income at a lower, 15 percent rate, lower than for other taxpayers. It was included in the original IRA, but Sinema’s donors want it removed. And so it was. Instead companies have to pay a new 1 percent excise tax on the amount of stock they repurchase, still reducing the federal deficit by up to $300 billion.

Republicans are working hard to spread lies about IRA’s effects, but they aren’t completely successful. Of the voters, 73 percent, including 52 percent of Republicans, support the bill. Another 64 percent of voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate supporting the bill.  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill will provide at least a deficit decrease of over $100 billion in the next decade, even as much as $300 billion. The deficit could be even more because the CBO didn’t factor in all the effects of the bill. The $124 billion in revenue from building enforcement of IRS laws was considered a lowball estimate. It’s a win for the vast majority of people in the U.S.

The bill’s resolution should be available by tomorrow afternoon or evening.

July 27, 2022

GOP, DDT Reject Human Rights

After a year, the Senate passed a bill to provide $280 billion for chip manufacturing, design, and scientific research. Seventeen Republicans supported the bill in the 64-33 vote with only one member of the Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in opposition because of its weak guidelines. The U.S. has contributed no money to chip manufacturing, compared to the $150 billion that China pays to support the industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she had the votes in her chamber for the bill.   

Most of the funding goes toward advanced, rather than basic, chips, the majority currently coming from Taiwan. The U.S. went from making 37 percent of the world’s chips in 1990 to only 12 percent while the nation contributes “nearly nothing” to their manufacturing  compared to China’s $150 billion investment. Even with the advantages to their states, some senators, such as Tommy Turberville (R-AL) ignored the importance of chips, i.e., a critical component for Javelin missiles, manufactured in Turberville’s state.

After Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans to force the removal of tax increases for the wealthy and big businesses from the bill, he failed to vote after testing positive for COVID.

In Congress, Republicans joined Justice Clarence Thomas to make women into baby incubators by removing female rights to travel, contraception access, and marriage to whom they love. Although 47 GOP House members voted for marriage equality, only eight supported the right to contraception, and 205 Republicans voted against women traveling across state lines for an abortion. This dystopian vision of the U.S. comes directly from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The GOP refusal to protect marriage equality and contraception is exactly the same Republicans used to deny protection for Roe v. Wade—their assumption these rights will never be overturned. Yet justices are calling the 2015 marriage equality ruling “undemocratic,” “a problem that only [the court] can fix.”

Sen. Joni Ernst has also blocked a bill legalizing contraceptives; at 52 years old, she probably doesn’t need them. Ernst made her reputation—and may have gotten elected in 2014—with a TV ad about comparing her goals in the Senate to castrating hogs.

Twenty House Republicans also supported human trafficking by voting against a bill to combat the problem. One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), criticized Democrats for doing nothing about protecting victims. Another naysayer, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), is under investigation for sex trafficking at least one underage girl. Pence’s former aide, Marc Short, said about Gaetz’s recent speech to Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, “I’m actually surprised the Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that.”

In his speech to Turning Point, Gaetz said all anti-abortionists were fat and ugly, that they couldn’t get pregnant anyway. After a 19-year-old Texas girl objected, he used her photo to support his lie and sent her a vile insulting tweet. She used his body-shaming abuse to raise $214,000 thus far for an anti-abortion group.  

DDT’s favorite network—no, it isn’t Fox—may disappear after Verizon Fios stopped carrying One America News, removing 3.5 million subscribers. Earlier this year, OAN lost its biggest revenue when AT&T dumped DirecTV off the service in April, losing another 15 million subscribers. Far to the right of Fox, OAN created a haven for pundits who couldn’t get jobs on other channels, those willing to promote conspiracy theories including the “stolen” election.  OAN has admitted Verizon thinks that the channel is not “a credible news organization.”

Perhaps not noticing that CNN’s new CEO is directing the network to the right-wing dark side, DDT threatens to sue the company for defamation going back to his 2016 presidency campaign. DDT is still claiming his 2020 election was “stolen,” as recently as his speech in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. Clarence Thomas has said the Supreme Court should create an easier environment for people to win lawsuits against the media.   

DDT’s speech seems to be winding up to another presidential campaign with the lies about stolen elections and LGBTQ people front and center, especially trans women. For example, he misgendered swimmer Lia Thomas, accusing “him” of having “arms that are 30 feet long” and “seriously injur[ing]” a competitor “because he swam so fast that he gave her major wind burn as he went by.” Thomas also wasn’t named “female athlete of the year” and didn’t break the record “by 38 seconds.” DDT also talked about a transgender weightlifter who doesn’t seem to exist. In his speech, DDT called LGBTQ people “sickos.”

Fifty-five trans candidates running in 2022 have been joined by 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Some of them are in red states such as Montana and Oklahoma. A total of 1,068 LGBTQ candidates, an increase of 73 percent since 2020, is running this year when legislatures introduced 162 anti-LGBTQ bills before July 1. Congress has 11 elected LGBTQ members.

Witnesses in the House January 6 probe are revealing more of his lies. The Pentagon now supports the many claims that he never called on the National Guard to protect the U.S. Capitol. DDT’s former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said DDT never requested the 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol before January 6, a claim made by both DDT and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. DDT’s former official Mick Mulvaney will also testify before the committee; he says he believe the testimony of witnesses Cassidy Hutchinson and other top former DDT officials,

After eight hearings from the House January 6 investigative committee showing DDT’s involvement in the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, the DOJ is taking steps to investigate him. Concerns include DDT’s attempt to force former VP Mike President to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election and DDT’s ties to establishing fake alternate electors in battleground states he lost. In five of seven states, these electors appear to be driven by DDT’s lawyers with DDT also involved. The DOJ interviewed witnesses, seized phone records of his top allies, and searched the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark who enabled DDT in his election-fraud theories. AG Merrick Garland has repeatedly said that no one is above the law, and the Fulton County (GA) criminal investigation into DDT’s efforts to overturn the election is also expanding.

Furious about the investigation, DDT used his Truth Social to repeat his lies and conspiracy theories—“massive and irrefutable” evidence about the “rigged and stolen” election, his “perfect” phone call to Georgia begging for more votes to make him a winner, and more whining about his impeachments and Russia scams. The extensive quotes, complete with excessive capital letters, are here.

The DOJ has a new warrant to search John Eastman’s phone in the continued investigation regarding a criminal conspiracy between DDT and his lawyer to overturn the election, partly through using fake electors. Eastman’s employer, conservative Claremont Institute, is backing off from its staunch DDT support after standing by Eastman before it learned more about his actions. Now they’re lamenting that he decided to jettison the Constitution for DDT’s benefit. The question now is how the think tank can separate itself from Eastman.

The House committee evidence supports charges of obstruction of an official proceeding with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and used against hundreds of insurrectionists along with possibly seditious conspiracy, like charges brought against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. In a new poll, 79 percent of people think DDT’s actions on January 6 were illegal or unethical with only 21 percent believing he did nothing wrong. Even 55 percent of Republicans agree with either illegal or unethical behavior, the same percentage of Republicans who don’t want DDT as the 2024 candidate. The 69 percent of people who believe the January 6 attack to be a crisis or major problem for American democracy is up from 65 percent earlier this year.

Leaked audio from Steve Bannon, added to his saying that DDT would declare victory on election night even if he lost, are his conspiracy with exiled Chinese mogul Guo Wengui and his associates to spread the lies that Hunter Biden’s computer, Joe Biden’s son, contained proof about salacious crimes. Guo controls pro-DDT media sites spreading far-right disinformation. Before the election, Guo’s associates disseminated videos and photos of Hunter Biden in sexual encounters and drug use.

After paying almost $2 million for DDT’s legal bills, the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said the money stops if he becomes a 2024 candidate using the weak excuse of its “neutrality policy.” Earlier, DDT backed down when McDaniel made the same threat after DDT said he was creating his own political party. DDT’s leadership PAC, Save America, and his presidential committee-turned-PAC Make America Great Again PAC are paying legal bills for issues related to January 6, raising concerns about his witness tampering.

A Harvard study of almost 500 documents shows primary motivation for 417 Capitol rioters charged for insurrection: support for DDT, 20.6 percent; DDT’s lie about a stolen election, 20.6 percent; “peacefully protest,” 7 percent; and “general interest in violence,” 6.2 percent.  

May 25, 2022

Right to Life on GOP Terms

The “right-to-life” Republicans in Congress are praying about the recent mass killing—first ten people dead in Buffalo by a teenage killer who targeted Blacks and now a teenager in Uvalde (TX) who killed at least 19 children under ten years old at an elementary school as well as himself and two adults. Before going to the school, he shot his grandmother who is in critical condition. It is the 30th school shooting thus far in 2022 and at least 200 mass shooting. Yet they do nothing.

GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Uvalde, wrote, “we have to protect” children but didn’t indicate how. His recent tweets bitterly complained about the “Radical Left” and his strong opposition to any gun control efforts, bragging that he “voted NO on two gun control measures.” As a “proud supporter of the Second Amendment” (meaning unfettered ownership of guns), he “will do everything I can to oppose gun grabs from the far Left.” Now he declares himself “heartbroken” and choked up when he talked about the tragedy.

Three days after the Uvalde school shooting, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will appear at the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Leadership Forum with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) canceled his appearance. Twenty-three years ago, NRA had a conference in Denver shortly after Colorado’s mass shooting at Columbine High School, killing 13 and wounding another 20. During the 2018 election cycle, Cruz received the largest amount of donations from gun rights backers at $311,151.

The NRA is blocking the Second Amendment and banning the presence of any weapons for DDT’s appearance. Attendees will be searched.

No Republicans complain about suspending the Second Amendment in some cases, but GOP legislators and far-right are using the same old canard about politicizing the Buffalo murder with a domestic terrorism bill including white supremacy. Fox’s Tucker Carlson called such a bill “scary,” but Buffalo’s mass shooter wrote he had been radicalized on 4chan and referred to the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, fears of whites being replaced through immigration, that Carlson promoted on his program over 400 times. Conspiracy theorist and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers pushed the lie of the shooting being a “false flag,” staged by Democrats. A Proud Boys group called the bill “the creation of an anti-white secret police.”

Democrats introduced the original version of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act a few weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Democrats, joined by GOP Adam Kinzinger, passed a newer iteration of the bill after the Buffalo mass shooting. It would create dedicated domestic terrorism departments in the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. The U.S. has no law against general domestic terrorism, but the addition of “terrorism enhancement” in federal cases can add 15 years to a sentence.

The bill would also establish an interagency task force to investigate white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies. A special agent in each field office would investigate hate crime events and connections to domestic terrorism. According to FBI Director Chris Wray, the growing threats of domestic terrorism in the U.S. with “racially motivated violent extremism” are the majority of the agency’s domestic terrorism probes. Senate Republicans have promised to block the legislation which would require 60 votes in that chamber.

The far-right Gateway Pundit falsely stated the goal of the bill was to “silence conservatives and those Americans who disagree with them.” Carlson complained the bill doesn’t specifically mention “BLM or antifa” and lied about the bill redefining domestic terrorism to include hate crimes. About three-fourths of voters support the bill

Lachlan Murdoch, CEO and executive chairman of Fox’s parent company, said white supremacy just “comes with the territory” for Fox being “number one.” He shrugged off the increasing polarization of society since Fox was created. Media Matters senior fellow Matthew Gertz believes “Lachlan Murdoch has apparently given up on his obvious lie that Tucker Carlson doesn’t promote ‘replacement theory.’ He is making it quite clear that Fox prioritizes white supremacist content.”

Republican legislators will also be traumatized by the update of the DOJ use-of-force policy, ordering federal agents to intervene if other law enforcement officials use excessive force. Taking effect July 19, the policy does not cover non-federal law enforcement and federal law enforcement agencies outside the DOJ. Federal law enforcement officers must also act if someone needs medical care and repeats current policies that officers should not fire their weapons at people solely because they are fleeing or fire into vehicles to make them stop. Deadly force should not be used “against persons whose actions are a threat solely to themselves or property unless an individual poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others in close proximity.” With new priorities, AG Merrick Garland’s memo tells officers and agents to first select de-escalating confrontations for “voluntary compliance from a subject before using force.”

The current politically conservative Supreme Court majority may decide to overturn the new DOJ policy, just as they overturned existing law this week in order to kill two Arizona men. Six conservative justices used an anti-terrorism law to rule that convicted felons are not allowed to present evidence in federal court about ineffective counsel or present new evidence. Clarence Thomas declared that the two men have no federal standing to sue because the state denied their appeals, writing that this has happened “only rarely.” Despite this violation to Sixth Amendment rights to due process and habeas corpus, Arizona may execute two more men

Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision “perverse” and “illogical.”  She wrote:

“The Court’s decision will leave many people who were convicted in violation of the Sixth Amendment to face incarceration or even execution without any meaningful chance to vindicate their right to counsel.”

Legal experts agreed, including University of Texas Law Professor Lee Kovarsky.  He tweeted:

“Since representation in state post-conviction proceedings is a national embarrassment, it means that it’s not a really useful site of Sixth Amendment enforcement.”

One of the men to be executed, Barry Jones, may not have murdered anyone, meaning the so-called “right-to-life” justices are killing an innocent man. A witness said that Jones hit a four-year-old girl who died 12 hours later. Three experts, however, said that the girl could not have died from that supposed injury within that time period. Others, including the girl’s mother and uncle, were suspect. The mother was subsequently convicted of child abuse, and before her death, the girl said a boy had hit her in the stomach with a metal bar. Jones’ lawyer didn’t present any of this evidence at the trial.

In a 1984 ruling (Strickland v. Washington), the Supreme Court determined a “deficient” lawyer’s performance that “prejudiced the defense” can toss out a conviction, but Thomas’ opinion claimed the law restricts federal courts from rejecting state courts’ opinions no matter how poorly they were decided. In essence, the six justices changed the law and “all but overrules” Martinez v. Ryan (2012) and Trevino v. Thaler (2013), according to Sotomayor. Therefore, states can kill people wrongly convicted, and the federal government will not step in despite the Sixth Amendment guaranteeing “criminal defendants the right to the effective assistance of counsel at trial.”

As Ian Millhiser wrote, three justices—the minority—believe “the purpose of a criminal trial is to determine whether or not someone is actually guilty of a crime—and to do so through an adversarial process where both sides are represented by lawyers who can present the best possible legal and factual case for the prosecution and the defense.” Clarence differs, according to Millhiser:

“[Clarence] deems federal habeas proceedings problematic because they ‘override] the States’ core power to enforce criminal law.’ When a federal court deems someone’s conviction constitutionally inadequate, Thomas complains, it ‘overrides the State’s sovereign power to enforce ‘societal norms through criminal law,’” and ‘disturbs the State’s significant interest in repose for concluded litigation.’”

And Arizona will kill two more men after the conservative justices refused to intervene in the killing of Clarence Dixon.

At one time, only Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with Thomas. Now Scalia is dead, and Republican presidents have appointed five justices who agree with Thomas.

Civil war—that’s what DDT thinks is imminent according to his reposting on his personal Twitter-like “Truth Social.” The killings in Buffalo are only the latest example of how irresponsible violent rhetoric can lead to physical violence.

  • Doug Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s newly elected GOP gubernatorial candidate, wrote about a potential “Hitlerian putsch” from the left requiring a civil war with the military fighting back.  
  • The head of the Claremont Institute, a think tank of members such as John Eastman who created the strategy to overturn Biden’s election, said that conservatives must fight against “woke communists,” false meaning all Democrats.
  • Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-SC) promised “bloodshed”; former U.S. Joseph diGenova told Laura Ingraham on her podcast that the “civil war” requires people to buy guns.
  • Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that “America is heading in the direction of another Harpers Ferry.” He shared the meme that the right has “8 trillion bullets” and would win a civil war.

GOP “right to life” ends with birth.

May 20, 2022

Republicans Fight Democrats, Each Other

A week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had his time in the sun by single-handedly blocking the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, the Senate passed the House bill by 86-11. Eleven Republicans, 22 percent of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Paul, and Tommy Tuberville (AL). All 57 dissenters to the bill in the House vote 368-57 are Republicans. 

About the serious shortage of baby formula, Republicans claim that President Joe Biden is doing nothing about the problem or women should breastfeed so they don’t need the formula.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), among the House leadership, called Biden and other Democrats “pedo grifters.” She blamed the shortage on Biden’s economic policies instead of mismanagement by one of the four monopolizing manufacturers with dirty conditions and massive expenditures on the company’s stock. Republicans ignore Biden’s actions solving the shortage:

  • Invoking the Defense Production to speed up the production.
  • Authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to bring more imports for overseas.
  • Requiring suppliers to fulfill orders from baby-formula producers before other customers.
  • Making a deal with Abbott Nutrition for them to manufacture baby formula if they clean up the plant where it’s made.

His ideas seem much better this one from Republicans, introduced by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott: starve migrant infants so that white infants will have the formula. Or Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), allegedly accused of sex trafficking minors, who wants to deny fomula to infants in poor families and save it for “hard-working Americans.”

The House appropriated $28 million in emergency funds for the baby formula shortage, but only 12 Republicans supported the bill. Stefanik, a new mother who uses baby formula, was not one of them, but she did vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act, temporarily waiving exclusive contracts between states and baby formula manufactures for six million people enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children program. Nine other Republicans, however, voted against that bill: Andy Biggs (AZ), Laurie Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Clay Higgins (LA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX).  Stefanik’s own bill was for more foreign imports of the product. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act but didn’t take up the funding bill.  

The U.S. House also passed a bill 217-207 permitting Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration blocking gasoline and home fuel price gouging. Despite the huge hue and cry from the GOP about inflation, no Republicans voted for the bill, and it has little chance of getting the necessary 60 percent of votes in the Senate. Four House Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), and Kathleen Rice (NY). 

The partisan vote in the House of 222-203 on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 shows how the GOP supports white supremacy.

Republicans hate globalization and want to bring home manufacturing, but Senate Republicans will likely drop a small program to train workers in new careers if they lose jobs from offshoring. GOP legislators say the U.S. is not working on new trade deals with other countries although old trade deals are still in effect. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated that Republicans care very little “about people getting laid off because of bad trade deals and tax policy that encourages jobs to go overseas.”

As frustrated as Democrats are with the GOP, Republican splits are causing dissension within the party. Hardline tactics of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus have forced recorded votes instead of voice votes on what should be noncontroversial bills; legislators forced to stay for the voting can’t leave to do other business. A heated confrontation during a 2.5-hour voting on 13 measures led to raised voices from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and caucus members Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), the current chair. Witnesses reported that Rogers promised consequences for the Freedom Caucus members if they continue delaying tactics. Beyond virtuous comments about the need to review all legislature, the Freedom Caucus bragged that they slow down the Democrats’ “agenda.” Suspension bills need a two-thirds’ vote to pass, and some are failing because of GOP opposition. One required the VA to provide contraceptives without co-pays. The bill later later passed after the normal rules process. In another bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only member of the House to oppose a resolution calling on leaders to condemn anti-Semitism.  

The House January 6 investigation committee is heating up the media with more information about who worked to overturn Biden’s presidential election. With evidence that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, the committee wrote him, asking for his testimony. GOP legislators had claimed that security footage shows “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” in the complex on the days before the insurrection. The committee wants to know about “individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”

Both Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IA) denied any tour like that, stating “a constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’” They added, “The family never entered the Capitol building.” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused Republicans of leading tours to people using them to help interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. She didn’t provide any names, and Loudermilk called anyone in Congress who made these claims “morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution.” He asked the House Ethics Committee to “take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.” The committee’s evidence contradicts these denials and raises questions about Loudermilk’s tour and its purpose. He is also among those texting former chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election.

Note that Loudermilk and Davis lied with their claim of “no tours” for the past 16 months.

New committee findings include official White House photos from January 6 showing Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) activites on the day. The probe is also targeting DDT’s 11:20 am phone call with then-VP Mike Pence in a final push for him to overturn the election and DDT’s 2:24 pm attack tweet, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” At that time, the Secret Service was rushing Pence into an underground Capitol loading dock for protection from the mob. The committee perceives this tweet as the driver of the mob’s fury and worst violence as well as DDT’s indifference to it.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder/chair of the Oracle software company and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call with Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, True the Vote’s attorney James Bopp Jr., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) focusing on strategies for overturning the election. Ellison’s part may have been to assess Sidney Powell’s false claims about voting machines. He has been an active participant in a number of DDT’s conspiracy theories.  

Powell, well-known for her evidence-free claims of election fraud in multiple court cases, is now providing financial support for high-profile insurrectionists through donations to her non-profit, Defending the Republic. One of them, Kelly Meggs, is an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges who has a new lawyer after her former one, Jonathan Moseley, was disbarred in Virginia for improper billing practices. In 2009, Virginia suspended his law license for frivolous discovery requests and false statements about the judge in the case. On January 6 he was in a restricted area at the Capitol but said he didn’t notice.

Known as the “Kraken,” Powell is also paying to defend Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, from the network of militia-style groups created in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential election. A few dozen face criminal charges for the January 6 insurrection, and 12 of them have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Powell was responsible for a far-reaching set of conspiracy theories about the non-existent election fraud from billionaire George Soros to the involvement of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who died in 2013. The committee subpoenaed Powell, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for $1.3 billion. She is also facing disbarment in Texas from allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct prohibiting attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, and taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Another DDT shyster lawyer and architect to overturn Biden’s election, Rudy Giuliani, testified to the House committee for nine hours.

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas pushing two Arizona state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win in that state by picking their own electors contrary to the popular vote. The justice is also godfather to the son of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, married to one of the lawmakers, and the lawmaker, Shawnna Bolick, is a candidate for the secretary of state. Incestuous? Definitely a loss of democracy for Arizona’s voters if she’s elected.

March 19, 2022

Courts, Legislation for Spring Equinox 2022

Migrant families experienced a small victory last week when the D.C. Circuit Court said President Joe Biden can remove them under an emergency pandemic rule “only to places where they will not be persecuted or tortured.” Biden has followed a rule instated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), Title 42, allowing the U.S. to turn back thousands of migrants at its southern border.

Soon after that ruling, however, a one of DDT’s federal judges in Texas ruled against Biden’s exemption of unaccompanied migrant children from DDT’s rule, but CDC terminated the government’ ability to reject these children. Title 42 can still expel single adult migrants and families traveling with children to Mexico or their home countries. CDC said that expulsion of unaccompanied children seeking asylum, established because of COVID, is no longer necessary for health reasons, citing increase of vaccination rates and decrease in cases.

A federal judge ruled that New York illegally took a 2,000-acre plot of land in the northeastern part of the state from the Akwesasne Nation of the Mohawks in the 1800s. After the 1796 Treaty of Canandaigua, the state bought the Hogansburg Triangle in 1824 and 1825 but failed to get federal approval, thus violating the Non-Intercourse Act of 1790. The ruling affects one square mile of Massena, a town of about 13,000 population.

The Second Circuit Court has denied ExxonMobil’s latest try to stop New York and Massachusetts AGs from investigating whether the company lied about how much it knew regarding climate change. To stop the states, ExxonMobil started to sue them in 2016 to keep them from obtaining documents and continuing the probe.

DDT’s campaign must pay over $350,000 in legal fees and expenses for trying to enforce and “unenforceable” nondisclosure agreement against former staffer Alva Johnson. Her case, including claims that he tried to forcibly kiss her, was dismissed by one of DDT’s judges who declared it was merely political. Johnson also asserted she was paid less than comparable workers because she is a Black women. The arbitrator found that the campaign couldn’t invoke a legally unsound NDA. DDT typically uses arbitration to conceal potentially damaging or embarrassing claims from being revealed in court. Two other DDT campaign staffers, Jessica Denson and Omarosa Manigault Newman, won challenges to identical NDAs. In all the cases, the NDA confidentiality and nondisparagement sections were ruled “vague and unenforceable.”

The House of Representatives have passed a bill banning discrimination against hairstyles by 235-189. It “would bar discrimination against locs, braids, Bantu knots, and other hairstyles to make uniform the hodgepodge of state laws against this form of bias, as well as competing court rulings weighing in on bias against specific styles,” according to Bloomberg reporter Paige Smith. The NAACP stated:

“Hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism, and its purpose is to preserve white spaces. Policies that prohibit natural hairstyles, like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs, have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms, and Black adults from their employment.”

On the last day of Black History Month (February), 188 Republicans tried to block the bill from a vote. Fourteen Republicans, all from northern or western states, voted yes. The House has 56 Black Democrats and 2 Black Republicans.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who will be 89 by his 2022 re-election try, has told Democrats that they must pass lowered prescription medication costs before Republicans re-take Senate control because the GOP won’t support it. He said that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sabotaged the legislation in 2019 by telling GOP senators to reject a bill that easily passed the House. The bill never got to the Senate floor. The current bill needs 60 votes to overcome Senate opposition. Democrats are largely in support, perhaps even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has fought Biden’s agenda. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) ran on drug-price reform but has opposed it for several months.

Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ) teaches a class at Arizona State University on funding campaigns, perhaps explaining this strategy. At a fundraiser, she ridiculed the Democratic president, praised congressional GP members, and called herself “anti-government” and “anti-tax.” Sinema appreciates House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who allows QAnon behavior from his representatives while chastising GOP representatives who tell the truth. About her far-right colleague from Arizona, she said, “I love Andy Biggs.” He believes the election was stolen and denies climate change. Two of his own brothers have called for his removal from Congress for his involvement in the insurrectionist at the Capitol by “attempting to cause uncertainty in the election’s outcome.” Sinema opposed wearing a mask to a meeting with Biden at the White House and told him not to appear in Arizona about the passage of the American Rescue Plan.

Republicans have accused Democrats of wanting to “defund the police” when the argument has been to fund mental health teams in an attempt to stop unnecessary police killings. Denver has a program that does this, a pilot so successful that the Colorado city is expanding it. STAR sends medical and behavioral health clinicians to low-risk calls of trespassing, intoxication, or mental health crises involving poverty, homelessness, or addiction. In its 2,200 calls, the teams have not needed any police back-up for safety issues and saves money for the cities. Other Colorado cities—Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins—are investigating similar programs. Aurora has already duplicated Denver’s model.

North Carolina is investigating DDT’s former chief of staff and former representative Mark Meadows for voter fraud after reports that he registered to vote at a property he had never visited. Meadows and his wife are also registered to vote in two different states. Since DDT lost the 2020 presidential election, Republicans have consistently accused minorities and Democrats of voter fraud and passed punitive laws against them voting in at least 19 states. Meadows has been a leader in the charge in the lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from DDT. Almost all the identified cases of voter and election fraud involve Republicans, and Meadows’ case is for the most prominent Republican. A Florida probe has discovered Republicans coordinating efforts to change registration from Democrat to GOP with the persons’ consent.

Life expectancy is lower in red states such as West Virginia and Mississippi (74 years) and Alabama (75) compared to 80 years in blue states including California, Hawaii, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote: 

“A political mindset that prioritizes racial resentment, anti-science zealotry and manufactured cultural wedge issues is not likely to be conducive to long, healthy lives. Indeed, antagonism toward ‘elites’—e.g., experts—often impedes common-sense measures that save lives.”

Stephen H. Woolf, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, explained

“Conservative governors increasingly use preemption, the authority to override local governments, to block liberal health policies—e.g., indoor smoking bans. States have preempted local regulations on nutrition—e.g., menu labeling, food deserts—and as of 2013, 45 states had enacted statutes to limit local firearm regulations.”

These figures of 2019 don’t reflect COVID deaths, but “eight of the ten states with the highest COVID death rates adjusted for age have Republican governors: Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas and Indiana,” according to Rubin. “Nevada and Kentucky are the exceptions, coming in 6th and 10th, respectively.”

Rubin concluded:

“It’s clear the governing philosophy of right-wing states—e.g., low spending; prioritization of cultural wedge issues; anti-elitism—leads to deadly results. Maybe it’s time they stop spending their political energy persecuting gay kids, banning books, outlawing abortion and fanning culture wars. They have plenty of systemic problems they’ve failed to address while busying themselves with MAGA crusades. Red-state voters should look around and see why their states have fallen so far behind in so many categories.”

Republicans also blame Democrats for the crime rate. A few statistics: the homicide rate in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) San Francisco is half that in Bakersfield, McCarthy’s region. In 2020, DDT’s states had a 40 percent higher rate than Biden’s states. And 8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rate in 2020 voted for the GOP candidate in the 21st century. And the GOP stats keep getting worse.

While the U.S. faces the possibility of World War III, the Senate worked on a distraction issue—unanimously passing their all-important bill to keep Daylight Savings Time. It now goes to the House where Democrats are still amazed that the Senate Republicans can accomplish anything. (I confess I’m not real happy about exchanging ordinary time to fake time: success means that the sun won’t come up in the winter until about 8:30 am.)

The lovely bill, the Sunshine Protection Act, would be better named the Business Protection Act: people spend more money if the sun goes down later. People have long known that changing time twice a year causes health problems by disturbing the circadian rhythm, or internal clock. The “social jet lag” almost always results in sleep deprivation with increased risk of mood disturbance, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic dysregulation especially for those in the western areas of any time zone and in northern latitudes. Children have greater safety issues when going to school in the dark.

People grew dissatisfied with the last experiment with permanent DST in January 1974; by February, polling approval dropped to about 30 percent and 19 percent in March. The law lasted only ten months. You can check on your sunrise here.

Consistency can be good, but even when the Senate takes action, it screws it up.

January 31, 2022

Youngkin Follows Trump’s Path

Presidential competition in 2024 for Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, may be from Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, who took over the office in office a little over two weeks ago. As a candidate, Youngkin appeared to be DDT-Lite, his primary campaign platform putting parents into control of school curriculum and banning books. His executive orders on his first day of office, however, show the “Lite” is gone. He went full-blown Trumpism, signing 11 executive orders and saying, “The work is only beginning,” meaning his control of education, more police, fewer regulations, and “making government work for the people.” 

One order blocked mask requirements in public schools. He admitted that “the governor cannot ban mask mandates. Schools make those decisions. We will in fact, then, also make sure that schools allow parents to exercise their rights for what’s best for their children, to opt-out of those mandates.” For no reason. Almost half of Virginia’s schools are suing Youngkin, stating his order is unconstitutional and pointing out that Youngkin’s son attends a private school with a mask mandate. In a poll, 56 percent agree that school districts should establish their own policies. Youngkin also signed an order permitting for-profit businesses to use taxpayer money in setting up private schools. The South has a long tradition of segregation using taxpayer funding for private schools. 

Despite Youngkin’s threat to withhold funds from schools not following his mask ban, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools said, “We will fight it to the end.” Part of the lawsuits argues that Virginia law requires school adherence to CDC provisions which include universal mask wearing in schools and overrides Youngkin’s order. His excuses for banning mask mandates falsely claim that children wear unclean masks with “bacteria and parasites” and long-term mask-wearing “decreases their effectiveness.” Dr. Colin Greene, the newly appointed state health commissioner, couldn’t find one study to support Younkin’s statement but said that it was “intuitive.

Virginia’s order versus school district’s attempt to protect student has boiled over into schools. At a school board meeting in Page County, a woman threatened to bring “every single gun loaded” to her children’s school on the next Monday. Charged with a crime, she said she didn’t literally mean it, but the district increased security. Some parents kept their children home from school. The website Mask Off Monday told parents to disobey school rules for wearing masks. Their direction:

“You may feel the need to explain your mask issues further. Resist that feeling. When it comes to the law, explanation is weakness. It’s time to get back to normal life, and the time to push is right now. Fear has ruled our lives for far too long. No ‘health authority’ will give you the all clear after all of the new power they have seized and wielded. You must turn off the television, and take it for yourself.”

Before his election, Youngkin said that “localities” must decide “the way the law works,” and his campaign promised Youngkin “would not go as far as Desantis.” After his ban on mandate requirements blew up in his face, the new governor wrote, “We’re all in the same boat and love one another.” Yet, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “He personally modeled contempt for authority—he encouraged it and rewarded it. He did so in the full knowledge that he was essentially deputizing furious parents to follow only the kinds of laws they liked and conscripting their kids into participating.”

Virginia’s new attorney general, Jason Miyares, is cut from Youngkin cloth: he told state universities they cannot mandate the COVID mandate for students to enroll or attend in person unless legislature includes the requirements among the immunizations. The legal opinion overturned one from April 2021 by Democratic AG Mark Herring allowing the mandate during the pandemic. The statement isn’t law and has no direct consequences if not followed. Miyares’ office stated, however, that “if an individual decided to sue a university for not following the attorney general’s guidance, they could use the Attorney General’s opinion in court.”

Before being sworn in, Miyares fired 30 lawyers, many of them in the Office of Civil Rights, with only a 24-hour notice. Some were career civil servants, not political appointees. Helen Hardiman, an investigator and litigator against housing discrimination, had 20 cases in court or going to trial. Miyares also fired top counsels at the University of Virginia and George Mason University with no justification. He said their legal advice was based on “the philosophy of a university,” indicating that the firing was political.  One attorney was fired while on leave from his university position to be the top investigator for the House January 6 committee. Miyares’ campaign promise to call “balls and strikes” with no allegiance to a political party has disappeared.

Miyares pulled Virginia out of a multi-state climate contract just two weeks after another disastrous storm from climate change. He announced Virginia would no longer participate in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case supporting the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions related to climate change, saying, “Virginia is no longer anti-coal.” Virginia will join the coalition of 27 attorneys general asking OSHA to withdraw its COVID vaccine mandate of large private employers. Miyares seeks legislative authority to prosecute local cases he determines to be treated with too much leniency or completely bypass “liberal” prosecutors. Yet he refused to say whether he would continue Herring’s cases such as a lawsuit against Windsor (VA) alleging police discriminated against Blacks and violated their constitutional rights.

Another Youngkin order on his first day followed other states to give students “comfort” in their education by blocking instruction of “inherently divisive concepts.” A legislative bill defines that term as one race is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously” and that “meritocracy or traits, such as a hard work ethic, are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.” Pushed to more clearly define the term, a GOP lawmaker answered, “Anything that’s dividing”—eliminating lessons to “analyze bias and examine privilege.”

The proposed law could return the state to the mid-twentieth century as the South Florida Sun Sentinel pointed out: 

“Virginia textbooks in the mid-20th century fed students a fiction of happy slaves who loved their kindly masters. One particularly deceitful illustration portrayed a well-dressed Black family—father, mother and children—being welcomed with a handshake aboard a slave ship.”

Youngkin outdid DeSantis in this “anti-critical-race-theory” order: he set up a tip line for reports of anyone who dares violate his command. It backfired. Trolling Gen Zers on TikTok flooded the email address using a website to send prewritten emails containing song lyrics. Ironically, the governer’s office tweeted a complaint about this “misinformation” to the disinformation the governor spread through his executive actions. Gen-Z for Change made this statement to The Washington Examiner:

“If Governor Youngkin is worried that his tactics to distract from his poor handling of the pandemic are being disrupted by the collective effort of a bunch of kids who think racism is bad, he should feel free to contact us at our tip line: Then again, we appreciate Governor Youngkin sticking to email—it would have been a real pain to lick this many envelopes.”

Youngkin bans “divisive” concepts in public schools, but the private schools where Youngkin’s children attended teaches these concepts. He was even on the board of National Cathedral, an all-girl Episcopal-sponsored school, known for developing anti-racism teachings with diversity forums, an equity board, an intersectionality council, and a student diversity leadership conference. The curriculum provides time for “critical conversations around topics of race, anti-racism, social justice, and inclusion”; added courses such as “Black Lives in Literature” and “Courageous Dialogues”; developed new hiring protocols “as a result of our anti-bias work,” and required diversity training for all staff members. On the summer reading list are books such as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk about Racism.  According to the school, “discomfort helps us to stretch and grow. Learning how to engage in difficult conversations [is] vital.” The companion all-boys school, St. Albans, followed the same anti-racism initiatives. Youngkin is denying his children’s educational advantages to all public school students.

With his own pro-coal policy,  Youngkin appointed Andrew Wheeler, former EPA secretary and coal industry lobbyist, as the state’s secretary of natural resources, implementing environmental policies. Virginia also dropped opposition in the Supreme Court to Mississippi’s unconstitutional abortion restriction before 15 weeks, and Youngkin expanded duties of a state diversity officer as an “ambassador for unborn children,” actually fetuses. He fired the entire state parole board and replaced the members with more conservative ones. Anti-LGBTQ, Youngkin referred to transgender girls as “biological males” and opposes same-gender marriage. He was honored at an anti-LGBTQ group gala supported by hate groups and Trump-affiliated organizations. His transition’s top officials wrote the legislation outlawing marriage equality and helped build anti-LGBTQ conservatives’ careers such as those of former VP Mike Pence and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. As he bragged to Fox’s Laura Ingraham, there’s “a new sheriff in town.”

The “new sheriff” is already underwater in approval: the PPP survey shows positive rating at 44 percent compared to 47 percent disapproval. Having put Virginia into chaos, Youngkin says he’s “having a ball.” He lies about his campaign promises and endangers lives both from the virus and the violence ensuing because of his “inherently divisive” behavior. His next move is to restrict voting in Virginia. And he’s a businessman. He’s checking off all the Trumper boxes.

January 20, 2022

Subpoenas Continue to Pour Out in January 6 Investigation

More shoes have dropped from the centipede in the House January 6 committee as it seeks testimony from witnesses to instigators of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

The committee has asked Ivanka Trump, daughter of now Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and a former government official who swore to protect the constitution, for voluntary testimony regarding her knowledge about DDT’s actions before, during, and after the attempt to block reading of the Electoral College votes certifying Joe Biden’s election as president. According to evidence, Trump was present when her father tried to push Pence into rejecting votes for Biden and enlisted in White House aides’ attempt to persuade DDT to call off his supporters rioting at the Capitol. Other questions for Trump would be whether her father tried to block the National Guard deployment to the attack and if DDT “took appropriate action regarding the continuing threats of violence” in the days after the insurrection.

Trump was at the White House for all day on January 6, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said he called her during the riot, asking for her help with her father. She told Graham she was trying to get her him to make a statement to stop his supporters. Former chief of staff Mark Meadows also called her for help, saying, “We’ve got to get this under control.”

The committee’s letter to Trump reveals information about her father. There is no evidence that DDT took any action for assistance at the Capitol, including deploying the National Guard or calling any law enforcement agency. Testimony from Gen. Keith Kellogg reveals the White House was worried about putting DDT on live TV during the insurrection for fear he would make the disaster even worse. DDT also pushed VP Mike Pence into making the “hard decision” to overturn Biden’s election, according to Kellogg, by trying to humiliate him. DDT’s White House counsel likely determined that Pence’s following DDT’s plans would be illegal or violate the U.S. Constitution. An unidentified member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus warned the White House that following DDT’s plans would “drive a stake in the heart of the federal republic.”

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has already told the January 6 committee about DDT’s secret meetings at the White House in the week preceding the insurrection. Grisham resigned from her position as Melania Trump’s chief of staff on January 6. She said Meadows scheduled the off-the-book meetings, known to only a few aides, and the former chief usher Timothy Harleth waved participants upstairs. Before going to the White House, Harleth was the director of rooms at the Trump International Hotel. He was almost fired after the election when tried to gain favor with Biden during the transition, but Melania Trump insisted on keeping him employed until Biden’s inauguration. DDT had increasingly stayed in his White House residency to work during his term to avoid being watched by aides. The committee is also seeking information from the Secret Service regarding DDT’s marching with supporters from the Ellipse to the Capitol as he promised the crowd.

The panel sent several subpoenas including to DDT’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and his campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis who defended DDT’s lies in court and traveled to a number of states to encourage legislators and electors to overturn the Electoral College votes. Two others receiving subpoenas are Boris Epshteyn, a former DDT campaign strategic adviser, and Sidney Powell, another attorney leading failed lawsuits against the big lie of a stolen election.

Giuliani, whose license has been suspended in New York and Washington, D.C. for his lies, has been identified as the coordinator for fake electors in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin to prepare false Electoral College certificates in their attempt to overthrow the 2020 election in favor of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). He publicly said these rival (aka false) slates were appropriate and necessary and was helped by Christina Bobb, an anchor from the conservative One America News. Former administration officials’ campaign was to recruit replacements for electors who didn’t want to participate in the scheme, distribute the fake language for certificates, and help electors gain access to Capitol buildings.

Leaders maintained that the fake certificates emulated Democratic actions six decades ago in a close race in Hawaii. In the state’s first election, a court found that the count favoring Richard Nixon was inaccurate but had not established that fact before certificates were required to be submitted on December 19. Both slates were submitted, and Congress unanimously voted to accept the certificate for John F. Kennedy. Presiding over the session, VP Richard Nixon accepted the decision “without the intent of establishing a precedent.” Hawaii had three electoral votes; JFK won by 84 votes, including those three.

The subpoena for Giuliani also demands evidence for his claims about the “stolen election” and specifics about the fees he was paid as attorney to push his false claims. A report had stated DDT didn’t pay the fees for Giuliani’s legal work, and DDT has paid nothing for Giuliani’s legal defense. The subpoena also requires information about the conspiracies used in the attempt to seize voting machines and the meetings at the “command center” at the Willard Hotel prior to January 6 to coordinate the overturn of the Electoral College votes.

Jenna Ellis, Giuliani’s close colleague, “prepared and circulated two memos purporting to analyze the constitutional authority for the Vice President to reject or delay counting electoral votes from states that had submitted alternate slates of electors,” according to the January 6 committee. Michigan AG Dana Nessel maintained the false electoral vote certificates were “an open-and-shut case of forgery of a public record.” New Mexico AG Hector Balderas also referred the fake certificate to federal prosecutors, and Wisconsin AG Josh Kaul said the federal government should investigate any illegal act furthering “seditious conspiracy.”

Epshteyn said he had conference calls with the legal team for discussions of alternate slates “in total congruence with the overall effort to send it back to the states” because of “rampant fraud across the country.” He was also at the Willard Hotel “command center” with Giuliani and others who have received subpoenas. A federal court in Michigan sanctioned Powell because her lawsuit against the state’s voting results was based on “speculation and conjecture.” She called it an “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.”

About the alternative slate and false certificates, former chief of staff Mark Meadows texted, “I love it!” DDT’s sycophant in the DOJ, drafted a letter to Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, that lied about the DOJ believing these false electors were valid rivals, but Kemp’s supervisors rejected Clark’s letter. Kemp had already certified Biden’s elector, but Clark said the letter was legal. At the same time, DDT’s attorney John Eastman had written memos describing ways VP Mike Pence could use the false electoral college certificates to declare that seven states had no winner for the presidential election. The proposal became a PowerPoint presentation for many GOP congressional members. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short has testified that his and Pence’s legal team found no legal basis in Eastman’s proposal to accept any DDT electors from states voting for Biden. At least 86 judges, including the nine Supreme Court justices, had reject all efforts to overturn the election’s results.

Other subpoenas issued by the House investigative committee:

Nick Fuentes: a self-described “white majoritarian” and supporter of the insurrection who was removed from several social media platforms for hate speech; leader in the “groyper” movement comprised of of young reactionary far-right nationalists white nationalist, homophobic, nativist, fascist, sexist, and anti-Semitic believers.

Patrick Casey: like Fuentes, an organizer of far-right rallies in Washington, D.C. and leader of the white nationalist American Identity Movement and also of the Groyper movement; also with Fuentes, receiving “tens of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin from a French computer programmer” being investigated by the FBI for links to the Capitol attack or other illegal activity.

Phone records for Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle. 

Records from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit.

Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows are still refusing to cooperate with the investigation and have ben referred to the DOJ on criminal contempt charges.

Fulton County (GA) Fani Willis is continuing her probe into DDT’s alleged election fraud by requesting a special grand jury to investigate his efforts to swing the state’s election to his favor. On January 2, he called state Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ask him to “find” just enough votes to create a win for DDT. Willis is also investigating the unexpected resignation of Atlanta’s top federal prosecutor, Byung J. “BJay” Pak, two days after DDT’s call and a call from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Raffensperger about the election. The grand jury would force the testimony of several witnesses refusing to cooperate with the investigation into the “reasonable probability” that Georgia’s election in 2020 “was subject to possible criminal disruptions.”

January 16, 2022

Republicans Love Manchinema for Fighting Filibuster

“We have but one democracy. We can only survive, we can only keep her, if we do so together.” That was one statement in Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) speech announcing that she was “together” with the Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) to oppose the filibuster and destroy the possibility for passing the voting rights bill to protect democracy. She was already “together” with Republicans—and Manchin—in opposing jobs and other benefits for people in the United States through the Build Back Better bill. 

Sinema’s speech was less than 45 minutes before President Joe Biden came to ask all 50 Democratic senators to change Senate rules for only allowing the voting rights legislation. She concluded:

“I am committed to doing my part to avoid toxic political rhetoric, to build bridges, to forge common ground, and to achieve lasting results for Arizona and this country.”

Her aim is for personal bridges and common ground with Republicans but not Democrats plus authoritarianism in both “Arizona and this country.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ecstatic about this victory with Manchin and Sinema, which he thinks could lead him back to being Senate Majority Leader in 2023. Therefore, McConnell is working harder to lie in his hypocrisy and threats to destroy Democrats if they change the filibuster. After pandering to the behavior of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for over four years, McConnell called Biden “profoundly unpresidential” in his Georgia speech about voting rights. McConnell’s first favor for DDT was to hold up the nomination for Supreme Court justice with no hearing for 293 days so that DDT could nominate Neil Gorsuch, who justified his wiping out a vaccine mandate with ignorance about the extent of the pandemic danger. McConnell then pushed the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s replacement to eight days before the election that DDT lost and Biden won—after declaring four years earlier that “the people should decide.” McConnell declared, “Major changes need major buy-in.

The most prominent anti-abortion group is leading the charge to keep the filibuster, from the Dutch word for pirates. Toward that end, the Susan B. Anthony List co-founded the misnamed Election Transparency Initiative to block the federal voting rights bill. Allowing all eligible people would permit them to vote for reproductive rights. Anti-abortionists’ need for the filibuster is not a call for a legislative tradition—just rigging laws for the conservatives. And their advertising praises Manchin and Sinema. The group also opposes the addition of seats to the supreme Court because they already have six conservatives to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade, permitting abortion for the first trimester.

McConnell wields the filibuster as a political tool that he controls; after January 6, he used it to block an independent bipartisan commission. GOP senators would have voted for either one of the voting rights bills, but McConnell didn’t allow even a debate on either one. He claimed the end of the filibuster would cause a takeover, but he’s already done that with the help of two Democratic senators. 

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner published evidence against the GOP arguments for keeping the filibuster that blocks legislation:

With the increased use of the filibuster, the Senate has become increasingly partisan.

The use of the filibuster blocks collaboration: Republicans are now evading any responsibility to shape bills on education, climate change, taxes, immigration, war, etc.  

The filibuster permits senators to hide from voting on any bills, and thus hide sharing their political positions from the voters.

The U.S. public becomes more and more angry about congressional gridlock, and the filibuster promotes it.

Like Republicans, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) either knows nothing about the filibuster or flat-out lies about it. Recently, he touted the “tradition” of the practice for “232 years.” The Founding Fathers, however, were opposed to supermajorities and didn’t not put the filibuster into the 232-year-old U.S. Constitution. “Father of the Constitution” James Madison wrote that the requirement for supermajority would reverse “the fundamental principle of free government,” transferring the power to the minority. Alexander Hamilton called it a “poison” and wrong “to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser… [If] a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority,” [the result would be] “tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.”

The filibuster requires only 41 senators to block any bill from moving forward. Those 41 Republicans represent only 21 percent of the U.S. population for the voting rights bill supported by 67 percent of the population. The only issues requiring a supermajority by the Founding Fathers is impeachment, expulsion of members, overriding a presidential veto, ratification of treaties, and constitutional amendments. True textualists in the Supreme Court instead of the faux ones sitting on the bench would overturn the filibuster.

For almost a century after the Civil War, the filibuster, first used in 1841, was primarily used to block rights for Blacks such as voting and anti-lynching. In 1917, Woodrow Wilson’s Senate ended filibusters with a two-thirds vote, and the number was dropped to 60 in the 1970s. At that time, the rules also didn’t require non-stop talking to continue the filibuster: it just needed 41 votes. When the Democrats took the Senate and McConnell became Senate Minority Leader in 2007, the Republicans began using the filibuster with excessive frequency. In 2009 when Barack Obama became president, the GOP minority blocked every significant piece of legislation because of the 60-vote requirement. The 67 filibusters that year were double the two decades between 1950 and 1969. The next year added another 60 filibusters.

Sinema’s fake flowery speech came after the House passed a bill with new voting rights protections with a party line vote of 220 to 203. The bill came from a combination of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act with a measure covering NASA. The Senate can then be brought directly to the floor for debate without a filibuster although Republicans can block it from the final vote.

One important provision of the voting bill, which Republicans find offensive, was the restoration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 provision requiring permission for new election laws by states with histories of voting rights violation. When the Supreme Court struck down that provision in 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts recommended Congress replace the provision with a law. Republicans also find no voter suppression in the 33 laws already passed by 19 states since the 2020 election, laws that highly restrict access to submitting ballots.  [visual: voting Reich voting poster]

Other provisions of the House voting rights bill:

  • Fifteen days of early voting.
  • Easier voter registration, including online registration and automatic registration at state motor vehicle agencies.
  • Same-day and automatic registration.
  • Removal of election officials without justification made more difficult.
  • Protection of election workers and records, making it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, or coerce election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers doing their jobs.
  • Voters going to court ensuring their votes are’t eliminated made easier.
  • Ability to vote by mail for any reason.
  • National standard of forms with wide range of identifying documents and electronic copies for states requiring voter ID.
  • Election Day a national holiday
  • Keep voting lines to 30 minutes or fewer.
  • Creation of or increased penalties for intimidating and deceiving voters with disinformation about elections.
  • Restoration of federal voting rights to people with felony convictions after their release from prison.
  • Outlawing of partisan gerrymandering for congressional maps with neutral redistricting standards and transparency in the process.
  • Protection of election workers and records, making it a federal crime to intimidate, threaten, or coerce election officials, poll workers, and election volunteers doing their jobs.
  • Requirements and regulations keeping election materials from use in partisan ballot reviews.
  • Disclosure of donations by doors spending over $10,000 in one election reporting cycle.
  • New rules to separate super PAC operations from campaigns.
  • Small-donor matching program for House candidates who opt in.
  • Federal Election Commission permitted to be less dependent on a majority of members for new investigations by allowing the commission’s general council to investigate and issue subpoenas.
  • Addition of Native American Voting Right Act to make it easier for voters on tribal lands such as polling sites and voter registration on tribal lands.

Despite the rule of the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have an alternative to the requirement for 60 votes to even debate the voting rights bill. A process called “messages between the houses” moves bills back and forth between the two congressional chambers. It has been used for both of them to agree on the final bill’s language. Usually done for amendments, these “messages” can be put before the Senate without debate. Attaching the voting rights bill to the NASA bill, already passed several times between the chambers, can remove the filibuster for the voting rights bill. This process may not get the 50 necessary votes to pass the Senate, but it forces naysayers to openly vote against rights for people.  [visual: voting nice sticker]

January 5, 2022

Leadup to First January 6 Anniversary

On the day before the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, Attorney General Merrick Garland asked Congress to safeguard elections with new powers for the DOJ to protect voting rights. His speech discussed the gutting of the 1966 Voting Rights Act by Chief Roberts’ Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder (2013), allowing the DOJ “to ensure that every eligible voter can cast a vote that counts.” In responding to concerns that he was not acting fast or aggressively enough to prosecute insurrections and their instigators, he guaranteed the federal government will hold all January 6 perpetrators “at any level” accountable—“whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.”

Previously released were texts from Fox network’s Sean Hannity former chief of staff Mark Meadows on January 6 pleading with him to get Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to stop his followers from attacking the U.S. Capitol. More Hannity text texts have emerged, suggesting he knew about DDT’s complicity in the insurrection. On January 5, 2020, Hannity wrote he was “very worried about the next 48 hours” probably about plans to oppose the electoral vote certification for Joe Biden as president. On December 31, 2020, Hannity wrote Meadows:

“We can’t lose the entire WH counsel’s office. I do not see January 6 happening the way he is being told. After the 6th. [sic] He should announce will lead the nationwide effort to reform voting integrity. Go to Fl and watch Joe mess up daily. Stay engaged. When he speaks people will listen.”

 On January 10, Hannity wrote Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Meadows:

“Guys, we have a clear path to land the plane in 9 days. He can’t mention the election again. Ever. I did not have a good call with him today. And worse, I’m not sure what is left to do or say, and I don’t like not knowing if it’s truly understood. Ideas?”

The House January 6 investigation committee has asked Hannity to voluntarily cooperate with them in explaining what he knew about DDT’s and his legal team’s plans for January 6, particularly his communications with DDT, White House staff, and his legal team from December 31, 2020, to January 20, 2021.

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) also wants VP Mike Pence to tell members about conversations before January 6 and what he witnessed on the day of the insurrection. Another possible witness is Mike Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), who was present when the former VP refused to let Secret Service take him to Joint Base Andrews because he couldn’t complete his job of certifying the electoral votes. Pence had said he didn’t trust the people driving the car. Last July, Greg Pence said, “My brother was being asked to do what we don’t do in this country.”

After the January 6 attack, right-wing social media platform Parler’s bad cybersecurity made all its data public. A year later, New America released findings from the 183 million posts made public in a report, “Parler and the Road to the Capitol Attack” by Candace Rondeaux, Ben Dalton, and Cuong Nguyen. Rondeaux said that Parler’s design “make[s] it easy to run coordinated inauthentic campaigns,” artificially boosting specific content and perspectives on social media platforms like Russia’s methods of influencing U.S. politics and right-wing James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas’ use of altered videos to spread disinformation. She said one user posted “at a rate of 1,000 posts per hour,” mostly QAnon content. More than an “echo chamber,” Parler represents bent and manipulated communication. People in Washington on January 6 likely also posted their attendance at other right-wing rallies in the U.S., using them as a gateway.

Facebook also contributed to the insurrection. A study revealed at least FB 650,000 posts between Election Day and the January 6 insurrection attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s win for president; many of them called for executions and other political violence. These 10,000+ daily posts set up the storming of the Capitol with followers of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) calling for his illegal return to the White House through the use of force. The number is considered a serious undercount because the analysis included only a portion of public groups and did not examine comments and posts in private groups or on individuals’ profiles.

Facebook refuses calls, even from its own Oversight Board, into an internal investigation and will not submit January 6 information requested by the House committee although he company claims it is negotiating with the committee. Posts provide evidence of Facebook’s role in the spread of false narratives inciting the days events; any small effort to stop the disinformation began too late to be effective. Meta, Facebook’s parent company, blames DDT and others who made the posts.

Before the election, Facebook created a task force to police toxic groups focusing on U.S. politics but elimated it after the election it rolled back other enforcement measures. Former employees report that the company prefers to not enforce group posts because groups are important to Meta’s profit margin. Testifying to Congress, Frances Haugen, former member of the company’s Civic Integrity team, said many of the group posts were identified as “harmful non-violating narrative”—content not breaking Facebook rules but causing people to “act in ways which are harmful to themselves, others, or society at large.” The result of these narratives, according to the study, is “substantial negative impacts including contributing materially to the Capitol riot and potentially reducing collective civic engagement and social cohesion in the years to come.”

Before his banishment on January 6, DDT used Facebook to post his lies about the election with unequaled reach to his lies. Only after serious damage, including world disasters, does the company consider enforcement. Facebook resumed enforcement against election disinformation on January 6. The Russia-based Internet Research Agency spread disinformation in support for DDT and other Republicans on Facebook until months after the 2016 election. Myanmar military leaders used Facebook to incite murders, rapes, and forced migrations of minority Rohingya people. 

Last Friday, high-school dropout and convicted felon Bernard Kerik, once the New York City Police commissioner, submitted documents to the House committee, including a plan to overturn the government. “Strategic Communications Plan—Giuliani Presidential Legal Defense Team: We Have 10 Days to Execute This Plan & Certify President Trump” for “swing state Republican senators—AZ, GA, MI, NV, WI,” Repubican [sic] members of the House,” and “Republican members of the Senate” defines ways to pressure congressional members into voting against Joe Biden on January 6, including protests at “weak Members homes.” Also in the plan was recruiting possible QAnon leader Ron Watkins and mobilizing a MAGA Twitter troll for the protests.  Kerik is withholding other documents, perhaps a letter about Michael Flynn’s and Sidney Powell’s plan to “rerun” the 2020 election by declaring martial law and seizing the voting machines.

To provide fodder for the Fox network, House Republicans will release their own report for January 6. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for the legitimate House investigation committee, takes the lead. On January 6, Banks voted against certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college votes and later voted against any investigative committee. His report will purportedly cite security failures at the Capitol on that day and interviews with Capitol Police members, their union, and other officials. Last September, Banks had sent out letters claiming he was the ranking member of the official House committee, and the Indianapolis Star falsely gave him this status last July.

At least 57 people involved in the January 6 events, including some arrested for the insurrection, are running for elected office this year. Last year, at least six protesters were elected to office.

In a flip-flop, DDT canceled his press conference intended to replay his lies about a “stolen” election and defend the rioters who chanted about killing Pence. It had been scheduled at his golf club in Palm Beach (FL) for the same time as the Capitol commemorative services on January 6 with historian Jon Meacham and Doris Kearns, a prayer vigil, a moment of silence, and time for lawmakers to share their experiences on January 6, 2020. DDT’s excuse for the cancelation was the “total bias and honesty” of the media and the House committee. DDT now plans to present the same lies and defense at a January 15 rally in Arizona.

In this cancellation, DDT showed a modicum of sense, but Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) are filling the gap with stupidity. They plan a press conference as “a Republican response.” The funeral of Georgia’s former GOP senator, Johnny Isakson, is also scheduled for the same day.

Adam Kinsinger, a Republican from Illinois on the committee, said that House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “made an epic mistake” when he refused to appoint members to the committee because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) would not put two possible insurgents on it. “I think part of the reason we’ve gone so fast and have been so effective so far is because we’ve decided and we have the ability to do this as a nonpartisan investigation,” and it would have been “a very different scene” if Trump allies were on the committee, obstructing their work, according to Kinzinger. Politico’s Kyle Cheney said that McCarthy’s decision allowed the committee to “stay relentlessly on message,” describing Liz Cheney as “a singular, and singularly disciplined, force.”

The January 6 committee is considering televised hearings during prime time.   

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