Nel's New Day

January 22, 2023

Santos, GOP Stand for Nothing

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) needs Rep. George Santos’ (R-NY) vote more than ever. The rules demanded by the conservatives ended proxy voting, and Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) is covering at home after falling 25 feet from a ladder on his Sarasota property. As of yet, there is no timeline for his recovery. Unfortunately for McCarthy, discoveries continue to spill out, and Santos keeps lying about them.

Santos’ has deep ties with Andrew Intrater, the cousin of a sanctioned Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg. Beyond heavily donating to Santos’ campaigns, Intrater invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into Santos’ former employer, Harbor City, now investigated by the SEC for its Ponzi schemes, and Intrator’s investment firm, Columbus Nova, is connected to Vekselberg’s business interests. In 2020 Santos bragged that Columbus Nova was a “client” of his.

When Harbor City’s assets were frozen in 2021, Santos, with help from a former Harbor City employee, formed his company, the Devolder Organization, which paid him at least $3.5 million in the next two years. The business is also incorporated in Florida using the now-empty Melbourne offices of a Ob/Gyn practice as its address along with several companies tied to former Harbor City executives. Odette Daley, the doctor who formerly practiced here, is married to Devaughn Dames, former CFO of Harbor City. After the New York Times story about Santos and Harbor City, he moved the headquarters address to a Merritt Island penthouse, home of Harbor City’s former chief technology officer Jayson Benoit. A few weeks later, the business address shifted to a Fast Mail N More store in Melbourne, using the same box number as D&D International Investment Services Inc., listed as the registered agent for the Devolder Organization. In state records, Dames is president of D&D and Daley as vice president.

Intrator claims that Santos conned him and continued his support for Santos’ election because Santos said he was also a victim of Harbor City’s fraud.

After Santos lied about being a college volleyball player at Baruch College, he gilded the lily with false claims that his volleyball scholarship caused him to get bilateral knee replacements from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the #1 hospital for orthopedic surgery. He also expressed anger at “youth today” who are “sitting on their behinds” with the lie that he earned an MBA from New York University without going into debt. According to Santos, his parents couldn’t help him because they were going through bankruptcy. No records exist of Santos attending Baruch or NYU and his parents going through bankruptcy. 

A homeless veteran said that Santos stole $3,000 from a GoFundMe page that Santos set up to help pay for surgery for the man’s dying service dog. A veterinarian tech suggested that Anthony Devolder, an alias for Santos, could help the veteran because Devolder ran a pet charity. Friends of Pets United has no record of registration with either the IRS or AG offices in either New York or New Jersey. The veteran discovered that Santos closed and deleted the fundraising page; Santos stopped answering the veteran’s texts and calls.

Another vet had been willing to do the life-saving surgery, but Santos/Devolder insisted the dog go to a different vet who refused to perform the surgery. The dog died six months later, and the veteran, who was out of work for over a year because of a broken leg, was forced to panhandle to pay for the dog’s euthanasia and cremation. Other people have reported that Santos scammed them. Last month, a woman reported that never received any funds from a 2017 fundraising event in which Santos charged $50 per person.

Earlier Santos lies:

  • His grandparents fled the Holocaust.
  • His mother died as a result of 9/11.
  • He was mugged on the way to deliver a check for bank rant. (No record of this crime!)
  • He “lost four employees” in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando where 49 people died.

Revisionist lying: Caught in his lie that his mother died in the Twin Towers on 9/11, he said she “was in her office in the South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, when the horrific events of that day unfolded.” He added that she died a few years later from cancer. When she applied for a visa from Brazil in February 2003, she stated she hadn’t been in the U.S. since 1999.   

Some Santos’ crimes:

  • He stole a checkbook in Brazil from his mother’s patient and bought clothing. (The retail clerk had to pay for the items when the theft was discovered.)
  • He wore a scarf at a “Stop the Steal” rally that he stole from a roommate.
  • He spent exactly $199.99 on several campaign expenditures filed with the FEC, precisely exactly one-cent below the amount required for the FEC to keep receipts. (One was at a restaurant where he spent over $25,000 where that exact amount couldn’t be spent.)
  • His staffer pretended to be McCarthy’s chief of staff for donations.

In an embarrassment for Republicans, Santos allegedly performed in drag in Brazil 15 years ago. Journalist Marisa Kabas has a photo of him as Kitara Revache dressed in drag with fellow drag queen Eula Rochard. Santos denounced drag shows and vigorously slammed gender-nonconforming people, describing their surgeries as “mutilations.” Trying to dodge GOP censure, Santos more quickly denied the drag queen story than the stealing money from a veteran and sick dog story. In 2011, Sandos, going by his Anthony Devolder, appeared to speak positively about his drag queen appearances, and a 2005 video from the Rio Pride parade shows him wearing a black dress and bragging to a Portuguese interviewer about his drag shows. (Photo of Santos from Brazilian drag performer Eula Rochard.) Yesterday, however, Santos admitted to dressing in drag but he’s no “drag queen.” He was “just having fun.”

In a 2011 Wiki bio, Anthony Devolder, aka George Santos, describes his successful Hollywood career after meeting with a producer of the 1996 blockbuster Independents [sic] Day. He name-dropped Steven Spielberg (misspelling it “Spilberg”) instead of director Roland Emmerich and claims to have starred in “a few T.V shows and DISNEY Channel shows such as ‘the suite life of Zack and Cody” and the hit “Hanna [sic] Montana.” He concluded by writing that, two years prior, he “taped his very first movie startting [sic] Uma Turman, [sic] Chris Odanald [sic], Melllisa [sic] George, and Alicia Silver Stone [sic] in the movie “THE INVASION.” The 2007 SF/thriller starts Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

Vanessa Friedman writes about grifter Santos stereotypically dressing the part of the lies he tells—the blue blazer, intellectual glasses, etc.—to match his fabricated résumé. McCarthy just hopes that he can get away with keep Santos’ vote by expressing ignorance about anything connecting with Santos. The closest concern McCarthy showed was to say, “I never knew all about his resume or not, but I always had a few questions about it.”

Four years ago when McCarthy was House Minority Leader, he agreed with the decision to strip then-Rep. Steve King (R-IA) of committee assignments, saying his conference simply could not “tolerate” King’s racism any longer, and the Iowan was no longer a Republican member in good standing. King wasn’t convicted of any crime, and he had been elected for the position, two reasons McCarthy used to put Santos on committees. Yet four years ago, the GOP was the minority party in the House, and King was expendable.

The 21st century has been an embarrassment for House Republicans with scandals for Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, and Mark Foley as well as the revelation that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert from 1999 to 2007 had sexually molested boys as young as 14 when he was a high school wrestling coach. In 2010 when the Tea Party put the GOP back in the House majority, their leaders promised a “zero-tolerance policy” for members’ embarrassing controversies reflecting poorly on the party. GOP leaders got resignations from then-Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) who had an affair with a congressional staffer and then-Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) who tried to meet women in Craiglist’s personals section. Then-Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) wouldn’t resign for kissing a staffer not his wife, but he lost his re-election within months. None of these people was charged with crimes or send them to the Ethics Committee.

Arithmetical problems representing the need for GOP votes controls the change in morality. Both Democratic and GOP House members have suffered censure and reprimands, but Republican leadership now rewards their members for violent threats toward other members and QAnon lies by giving them seats on plum committees.

Satire showing Santos’ medals during World War II showing how far he might go with his lies. 

Last September, before the election, a small newpaper, The North Shore Leader, laid out Santos’ corrupt past to its largely Republican readership, but the information was largely ignored by the electorate and larger press. Suggestions for Democrats: vet the opposition and pay attention to all the press, not just the major media. 

Meanwhile, Santos’ colleagues aren’t even sure what his name really is, but he has been put on House committees. The “Grand Old Party” stands for nothing.

 

January 13, 2023

House Out for Blood, DDT in Trouble

The biggest news of the day is the opening salvo of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his House Republicans to breach the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that January 19 was the date when the U.S. must take “extraordinary measures” to pay its debts with no increase in the debt ceiling. The purpose of this raise is not to borrow more money; it’s to pay debts incurred, including those from the wealthy and big business paying less taxes, GOP laws under George A. Bush and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Plus two wars started by Bush and DDT’s mismanagement of Covid funds. Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during DDT’s four years in the White House.

The GOP proposal to prioritize payments when the U.S. runs out of enough money without raising the debt ceiling is part of the private deal McCarthy made with conservatives to get their votes for Speaker. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) brokered the deal: McCarthy agreed to pass a payment prioritization plan by the end of March 2023. Congress must raise the current limit of $31.4 trillion before the Treasury Department can borrow more money to pay for the spending lawmakers authorized in the past.

Failing to increase the debt ceiling will allow conservatives to destroy the parts of government they don’t like. Roy called on GOP House members to defund the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Other suggestions have been defunding the IRS, FBI, and even parts of the military. On Fox Business Network, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) complained about “the woke nonsense that we see now in our military” (aka education).

According to the GOP proposal, the Biden administration can make only critical federal payments, probably interest payments on the debt because it will be short 20 percent of its budget. Anonymous sources said the government should continue payments for Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and the military. That omits Medicaid, food safety inspections, border control, and air traffic control among thousands of other programs. Bondholder payments means foreign countries, including China, are prioritized over U.S. citizens.

During 2011 and 2013 debt ceiling arguments, Treasury Department officials said prioritizing payments was not possible because of the daily millions of payments by the federal government. Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the business group opposes the proposed prioritization. As he said, “We had this discussion a decade ago.” Policy analyst Brian Riedl studied a similar proposal in 2011 when he was a staffer for then-Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and said that huge numbers of people could be immediately hurt and a “disaster.” An economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute Michael Strain said that financial markets might not be appeased by the government failing to meet some of its spending obligations.

The GOP proposal in the House must pass not only that chamber but also the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed into law by President Joe Biden. Even if that were to happen, probably impossible, the prioritization would jeopardize trust in the U.S. and throw the global economy into chaos.

On Fox’s Sean Hannity show, McCarthy used the false analogy of changing a child’s behavior if they hit the limit on a credit card. McCarthy threatens to not pay the bills already incurred on the “credit card.” He also blamed the spending on Democrats, despite the fact that deficits rose under GOP presidents and fallen under Democratic ones.  Bush’s and DDT’s tax cuts lost $3.5 trillion with no offsetting revenue or spending cuts whereas both President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act reduce deficits because of new taxes and cuts to other programs.

Debt does not concern McCarthy and the Republicans; it’s the spending programs and taxes financing them. Conservatives believe that taxes are unfair because they take money from deserving people and give it to others. GOP unwillingness to tackle Social Security and Medicare comes from the potential loss of their base—the older people. Even Medicaid is popular as shown by DDT’s proposed cuts in that area being politically disastrous for GOP elections. At a press conference, McCarthy said Republicans need to “protect” Social Security and Medicare—but he didn’t say how.

A mandate from the new House rules package is that any finance bill spending more money must be offset by cutting spending. Typically an offset means that cutting a tax requires cutting a spending program or raising another tax by the same amount. The new GOP rules, however, state that spending program increases have to be paid for by spending cuts, not raising taxes. Any support has to come from slashing other programs that help the same groups such as low- or middle-income people. Stacking the deck against raising taxes also comes from the new rule requiring a three-fifths vote instead of a simple majority. It’s like a filibuster in the Senate. Although Republicans say tax cuts will pay for themselves, they don’t believe it as shown by the new rules.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mike Johnson (R-LA) are leading the charge by the Judiciary Committee to investigate the few documents found in President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and former Washington office despite an independent special counsel. A letter to AG Merrick Garland demands all documents and communications among the DOJ, FBI, and White House about the discovery and any information about Garland’s appointment of special counsel Robert Hur who is overseeing the case. The letter asks whether the DOJ “actively concealed” the November 2, 2022 discovery from the public “on the eve of the 2022 elections.” The DOJ typically does not announce its opening reviews.

In addition, the letter lies about how the DOJ’s “actions here appear to depart from how it acted in similar circumstances” because Garland approved a search warrant looking for government documents in DDT’s Florida home last August “despite the publicly available evidence of President Trump’s voluntary cooperation.” Jordan and Johnson’s letter ignores how the DOJ investigated DDT’s lack of cooperation for several months before the search warrant led to the discovery of some of the classified warrants DDT had concealed and that DDT refused to turn over the documents the DOJ subpoenaed. They also repeat their request from last August for “documents and information related to the FBI’s raid of President Trump’s residence” and give Garland until January 27 to comply with their demands.

Under Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the Oversight Committee is probing corruption among “pandemic relief,” but only under Biden’s administration and primarily in Democratic states. Comer sent letters to the Labor Department and the states of California, New York, and Pennsylvania, stating:

“For the past two years, the Biden Administration has allowed fraud to run rampant in federal assistance programs and Democrats in Congress conducted little oversight. That changes with our House Republican majority.”

In March 2020, the first bipartisan relief package, the Cares Act, saved an economy but faced serious problems in implementation, allowing fraudsters to cheat the system. The damage was done by the time Biden was inaugurated 11 months later. Requests to Democratic states ignored other states, such as Florida, in which benefits were stolen. Oversight hearings will focus on the origin of Covid, the development of vaccines, and lawmaker complaints, and Comer is also investigating Biden and his family.

A bad day for DDT and Bannon:

A newly unsealed deposition reveals how DDT repeatedly insulted E. Jean Carroll while he denied a rape accusation. The judge unsealed excerpts of the deposition from last October after denying DDT’s motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit. DDT claimed Carroll “fainted with great emotion” in response to his attack and “actually indicated that she loved it.” He added that Carroll in a 2019 interview with Anderson Cooper said, “It was very sexy to raped.” She told Cooper what DDT did to her “hurt” and was “not sexual.” DDT’s lawyer Alina Habba praised the judge’s ruling for Carroll’s suit to proceed, saying, “We look forward to trial in April.”

In another DDT loss, the Trump Organization was fined $1.6 million for 17 felonies, including its long-running tax fraud scheme and falsifying business records. The maximum penalty possible will have a “minimal impact” on the company, according to prosecutor Joshua Steinglass. New York DA Alvin Bragg is asking state legislators to raise the fines for companies breaking the law. A bigger threat to DDT is New York AG Letitia James’ $150 million civil lawsuit alleging DDT, his three eldest children, former CFO Allen Weisselberg, and others defrauded lenders, insurers, and tax authorities by inflating the value of multiple Trump Org. properties for more than a decade. In addition to the fine, James is asking that the Trump Organization’s corporate certificate be canceled and block DDT and the children from serving as directors of any business registered in New York state.

Steven Bannon has until the end of February to find new lawyers in a criminal fraud case because the attorney declared “irreconcilable differences.” The case concerns Bannon’s defrauding donors for “We Build the Wall,” the construction of a wall along the U.S. southern border. He may have found another attorney from over seven law firms. And DDT isn’t in the White House to pardon him again.

January 12, 2023

Back to the House

The news about President Joe Biden having a few classified documents after he left the vice-president position has left the Republicans in an awkward situation. Although the National Archives didn’t know he had them and Biden’s lawyers immediately notified the government and returned them, Republicans are vigorously hyping the situation. In return, AG Merrick Garland appointed a conservative Republicans as a special counsel as investigator. The wind went out of the GOP sails: Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) whimpered that there was no need for a special counsel, that the House’s new “weaponization” committee could take care of the problem. (By that he meant pitbull Jim Jordan, R-OH.)  

McCarthy hopes that his constituency will ignore the large number of documents that Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) took from the government, hid in unsecured locations, and then fought to retain as he obstructed justice. Biden returned over the few documents immediately; DDT refused to permit the government to have them for over a year and then went to court, trying to get them back. He accused the FBI of planting the documents, and his lawyers lied, saying they had returned all of them before more were discovered. The recovery of documents from DDT required a warrant, a grand jury, subpoenas, and court orders. Biden has never been found to shred documents to flush them down the toilet, and his aides didn’t burn government materials as DDT’s chief of staff Mark Meadows did.

For the special counsel to investigate Biden’s classified documents, Garland picked DDT’s appointment for Maryland’s AG, Robert Hur. His strong GOP connections are shown by serving as aide to Christopher Wray at the DOJ before DDT appointed Wray to head up the FBI and clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquest, the conservative who Ronald Reagan appointed to the Supreme Court. GOP spin is that Hur was tainted during his time at DOJ in association with Wray and his appointment is more proof of the DOJ and FBI “political weaponization.”  

DDT has thus far been silent about Hur, but his comments about Jack Smith, the Garland-appointed special counsel to investigate DDT, have grown increasingly hysterical. Immediately after the appointment, DDT called him a “Trump hater,” “political hit man,” and “fully weaponized monster.” Today, he added the term “thug” and “an unfair Savage,” that Smith “may very well turn out to be a criminal. His conflicts, unfairness, and mental state of derangement make him totally unfit for the job of ‘getting Trump.’”

Legal experts have said that the special counsel for Biden would simplify DDT’s indictment. Just having the documents typically does not result in criminal charges; the aggravating factor is the difference.  Barbara McQuade said that DDT meets two of the four circumstances—willful violation and obstruction. Former FBI Special Counsel Andrew Weissmann, employed at the DOJ for two decades, said there are “no facts from which to think anything Biden did was with knowledge and intent.”

Backlash to yesterday’s House’s anti-abortion bills may have inspired pulling a couple of bills today. The already marked-up Prosecutors Need to Prosecute, heavily criticized by prosecutor groups, would require DAs in large cities to make reports to the DOJ on data about the number of cases they declined to prosecute for certain crimes in the conservative attempt to find partisan divide in implementing different policies. The bill was targeted at prosecutors who were too lenient, and not responding would cause loss of funding by a DOJ grant program. The bill would have been related to their campaign issue of violent crime. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN), who voted “present” several times during the 15 ballots for House Speaker, withdrew herself as the bill’s sponsor, saying it might infringe on state’s rights.

In a 331-97 vote, the House did pass Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, restricting sales of oil reserves to entities under the Chinese Communist Party unless that oil will not be exported to China. All 97 no votes came from Democrats. Rep. Frank Pallone, (D-NJ) opposes exporting U.S. oil to China but said the GOP measure didn’t adequately address the problem. He stated that Republicans serious about the issue would have “banned all oil exports to China.” Two percent of oil sent to China last year were from emergency reserves.   

The House passed its “rules,” moved on to bills fitting their ideology, and now changes names. In 2004, the GOP changed the GAO’s official name from the General Accounting Office to the Government Accountability Office. No reason given. This week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform is now called the Committee on Oversight and Accountability. And the Committee on Education and Labor was renamed the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the second change the GOP has made to that committee. The founding name in 1867 was the Committee on Education and Labor, but the GOP majority changed the name in 1995 to the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities before the Democrats moved it back to the original name two years later.

So why don’t Republicans like the word “labor”? According to the committee’s chair, Virginia Foxx (R-NC):

“’Labor’ is an antiquated term that excludes individuals who contribute to the American workforce but aren’t classified as conventional employees. ‘Labor’ also carries a negative connotation that ignores the dignity of work; the term is something out of a Marxist textbook that fails to capture the accomplishments of the full spectrum of the American workforce. The Left prefers the term labor because it creates a sense of enmity between employees and employers which union bosses and left-wing activists seek to stoke for political gain. … Though the Left likes to treat employers like predators, we know that most job creators have their employees’ best interests in mind.”

Foxx added that the word “labor” in the panel’s name “inadvertently ignores the dignity of the work of those individuals.” Also “using outdated terms like ‘labor’ creates an overt bias towards union bosses while widening fissures created by Big Labor between workers and employers.” The convoluted language making “labor” a slur likely comes from the GOP hostility toward unions.

McCarthy considers expunging one of DDT’s two impeachments. The idea started with DDT’s rhetorical question. Without GOP help, inflation in the U.S. has fallen for the sixth month, declining to 6.5 percent in December compared with a year earlier and down from 7.1 percent in November.

Clinging to votes from George Santos, McCarthy is still supporting him, but staffers for the New York GOP representative aren’t on Santos’ side. About Santos’ political future, one of them said he could be “perp walked out of a building” while another staffer described “something not feeling ‘right’ on the campaign.” Toby Gotesman, briefly a fundraising consultant on the campaign, remembered her conversation with Santos about finances while he was on the campaign trail:

“He was explaining to me how certain things worked with the campaign, and there were certain things he couldn’t know about, and I had to deal with Nancy [Marks, campaign treasurer,] if somebody wanted to give more than the limit. Now … I see what he did, and then I started to think here I am introducing my lifetime friends to this guy and asking them for money. I wish I hadn’t.”

Marks may be a problem for Santos. Campaign treasurers are not liable for finance violations, but knowingly submitting false reports is illegal. Santos paid her consulting company, Campaigns Unlimited, over $100,000 for accounting and fundraising. The question is whether the person who compiled and submitted Santos’ FEC reports, apparently false, believed they were true. Marks and several relatives contributed over $30,000 to Santos’ campaign but not to any other federal candidate during the recent election cycle. She was also Santos’ business partner in the Devolder Organization, a mystery firm supposedly providing from $3.5 million to $11.5 million Santos took in 2021 and 2022. Marks has a history of involvement with other shady candidates.

When the new House leadership isn’t excusing crime among its members or changing names, it’s proposing wacky bills. Going far beyond removing $80 billion from the IRS funding, one of them would abolish the IRS, remove the tax code, and replace it with a consumption tax. Called the Fair Tax Act, it also repeals payroll taxes, gift and estate taxes, capital gains taxes, and personal and corporate income taxes. A 30-percent sales tax would replace all these taxes.

The bill is another scam to benefit the wealthy, a regressive tax taking a much larger percentage of salaries for low- and middle-income people because the wealthy stash most of their income away. With this idea, identical to a flat tax, billionaires would pay 23 percent, less than the 25 percent for the poorest people. Sales taxes already make the poorest pay ten percent of their income while the top-earning one percent pays one or two percent.

Note the language in the bill. It’s called a 23 percent tax although buyers would pay $30 extra for an item originally costing $100. It’s called a 23% tax, because $30 is 23% of the gross payment of $130. The argument is that people can decide how much tax they pay by how much they spend—like deciding how much they can afford to eat.

Addressing the misnamed “Fair Tax” is just part of the deal that McCarthy cut with the also misnamed Freedom Caucus to get their votes for Speaker. The bill has 30 co-sponsors.

January 9, 2023

House Conservatives Victorious over a Weak Speaker

House Republicans are delighted with themselves for now having a Speaker, but some in the GOP realize that the Midterms didn’t go as well as they wanted. Therefore, the blame is on the lack of “quality candidates,” according to Republicans, so they have a solution. Blaming the number of untested and controversial candidates, they think one problem is running newcomers, such as GOP Senate nominee Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and those with personal controversies, such as Georgia’s Herschel Walker for Senate. The answer is to pick “people who can successfully navigate both the primary and the general,” according to a strategist. They still worry about Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) loyalists winning primaries and the dysfunction in Washington from the House conflicts. No one mentioned the problem with voters not buying what Republicans are selling.

Last week, millions of people watched the15 ballots required to elect Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) while he made non-stop concessions to the far-right, begged for votes, and watched the leadup to a physical confrontation. Hardliners, however, are proud of their behavior and claim that potential gridlock is quality governing.  

“Are we going to have this kind of conflict going forward? I hope so.” – Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who voted 11 times against McCarthy

“The new rules and the way of doing business is good.” – Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX)

“When you push back on the swamp, the swamp’s going to push right back. We saw that on display. That’s okay.” Roy, about the need to restrain Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) from striking Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). He added it was a “little temporary conflict.”

“[Turmoil is] quite healthy.” – Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)

“Last week was the most productive week I have experienced in Congress.” – Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)

McCarthy survived his first test as Speaker on Monday: the rules for the 118th Congress passed in the House along party lines 220 to 213. Only one Republican voted against it with all the Democrats. The 55-page plan may have been accompanied by three pages of secret rules that convinced Freedom Caucus members to vote “present” 

Rules supposedly dictate governing, and conservatives came out victorious:

Mandatory spending increases must be offset with equal or greater decreases in mandatory—no new taxes. The GOP put this into the rules in the 112th Congress in 2011. The loophole, however, is that it only applies if bills increase spending within a budget window of five or ten years. They can pass extensions of the 2017 GOP tax cuts that raised the debt a few trillion. The first GOP bill will increase the deficit by more than $114 billion over a decade when it rolls back $80 billion in IRS funding and decreases revenues by almost $186 billion. Called the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, the bill protects the wealthy and big business—like DDT.

New taxes will require a supermajority of three-fifths. No danger of new taxes—Republicans hate them.

No longer can the House automatically send a measure extending the debt limit to the Senate when it adopts a budget resolution. The danger of the U.S. defaulting on its debts returns to 2011 when the GOP game of chicken downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time and raised the interest on the debts.

Republicans can again use amendments to reduce salaries, terminate employees, and cut specific programs after Democrats had done away with the rule that permits political vendettas toward career civil servants. It was used to eliminate 89 positions at the Congressional Budget Office’s Budget Analysis Division, but the bill failed to become law. 

Every committee must submit a plan for authorization and oversight to the Oversight and House Administration Committees by March 1. The rule also requires a full accounting of any unauthorized federal programs and agencies that received funding in the last fiscal year and determine whether programs should be removed from mandatory funding to discretionary funding, forcing the budget into one controlled by lawmakers. House Appropriations, Ethics and Rules Committees are exempt from that mandate.

The Ohio pit bull, Jim Jordan, may become chair of the House Judiciary Committee. As such, he would be in charge of the new panel, Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, with the twin goals to receive sensitive intelligence and destroy anyone except Republicans. Jordan plans to subpoena the DOJ about the ongoing special counsel inquiry regarding DDT’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his mishandling of top secret documents and investigate Hunter Biden, turning the president’s son into a new Benghazi.

The committee will also demand copies of White House emails, memos and other communications with Big Tech companies. Conservatives believe the companies colluded with the Biden administration to censor conservatives. Another committee target is Anthony Fauci and his approach to Covid misinformation, the DOJ’s interaction with local school boards on Covid policies, and the DHS’ failure to create a Disinformation Governance Board.

Jordan, who plans to issue a large number of subpoenas refused to respond to one from the House January 6 investigative committee because it lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”  

The ones above were in the published version, but McCarthy’s “deal” included three conservatives on the Rules Committee, the freeze of spending at FY 2022 levels, coveted committee assignments, etc. The budget freeze drops defense spending, annoying hawks. Three of the first 12 bills in the House supposedly to help “working families” tighten abortion restrictions, put on the schedule with no consultation from “moderates.” Social programs lose about $100 billion. Republicans who know the Senate won’t accept these bills have to decide whether they vote in favor of them and offend constitutions.

What to know about Speaker McCarthy:

His thin legislative record shows he has been lead sponsor of ten bills, four of them renaming federal buildings, in 15 years. Nothing of “substance.”

McCarthy accidentally tells the sometimes embarrassing truth. Such as the purpose of the GOP Benghazi committee, to defeat Hillary Clinton. And saying in 2016 that DDT was on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s payroll.

In questioning McCarthy’s intellect, Politico started its report with “Is Kevin McCarthy a great big dummy? That’s not a rhetorical question.” A long list of McCarthy’s gaffes. Watch for more in the next two years if he lasts that long.

Dishonesty is a familiar McCarthy characteristic, made more obvious by his rapid shifts of attitude toward DDT and the January 6 insurrection in the past two year. A senior GOP aide told Politico that “he’s a bald-faced liar who literally just has no problem completely lying.” The lies fit with McCarthy’s lack of core principles. The New York Times’ Michelle Cottle called McCarthy “a jellyfish, carried spinelessly along by the political currents.” The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer called McCarthy’s main strength “his malleability. There are no red lines, core policy beliefs, or inviolable principles, just a willingness to adapt to the moods of his conference.”

McCarthy wants power for the sake of having power, for no other reason. He has no bold ideas he wishes to implement in service of a constituency; he wants a nice office and a portrait on the Capitol wall.

With no evidence immediately after the election, McCarthy said DDT won the presidency and signed his name to a legal brief the next month, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the election results—with no evidence for it. Lisa Rubin called McCarthy “a chameleon with ambition.”

McCarthy can’t count votes, a great skill of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA). He said he would be elected Speaker on the 14th ballot “because I counted.” Gaetz delayed it until the 15th ballot.

The job may make McCarthy miserable. He wants people to like him, and pleasing everyone in the House will be impossible. Before he died, Michael Gerson, George W. Bush’s former chief White House speech writer, argued, “Whatever his political future, McCarthy will be remembered as his generation’s most pathetic, unprincipled and contemptible political figure.” Earlier Gerson wrote, “The political future is unpredictable and ever-changing. But here is something you can depend on: The elevation of McCarthy to House speaker would be a disastrous day for the Republic.”

While Republicans wield power at the federal level, the special grand jury convened eight months ago in Fulton County (GA) has been “dissolved” after it finished its job, providing a report on its conclusions. Its responsibility was not to indict anyone; instead it provides recommendations which DA Fani Willis may or may not follow. A January 24 hearing will determine whether to make the report public, a recommendation from the jury. Willis has said she considers subpoenaing DDT and notified at least 18 others that they are “targets” who could face indictment.

The grand jury started out investigating DDT’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election in the state but expanded to false claims of election fraud to state lawmakers, the fake elector scheme, efforts by unauthorized individuals to access voting machines in one Georgia county, and threats and harassment against election workers.

The longtime partner of Brian Sicknick, who died after the January 6 insurrection is suing DDT and two rioters for wrongful death, claiming the death was “a direct and foreseeable consequence” of Trump’s words that day. She also assigns liability to Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios, two men accused of assaulting Sicknick with chemical spray during the attack. The suit seeks at least $10 million in damages from each defendant.

January 6, 2023

The Far-Right Controls the U.S. House, Plus Other News

On the two-year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, the far-right House members bought Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); he gave them everything they requested in order to become the Speaker of the House on the 15th ballot.  Two years ago, GOP insurrectionists took over the Capitol and drove out the Congressional members, their staffers, and their families. They threatened to hang VP Mike Pence and carried out their interference to the constitutional processes with the leadership of then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and many congressional members, some of them reelected last year.  Keep the popcorn available for GOP antics in the 118th Congress. Note that anytime someone says “the smart thing Congress will do” is what they won’t do.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., left, pulls Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., back as they talk with Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other during the 14th round of voting for speaker as the House meets for the fourth day to try and elect a speaker and convene the 118th Congress in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2023. At right is Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Today, McCarthy slowly moved toward his “victory” in four separate ballots. Matt Gaetz’s (R-FL) “present” vote on the 14th ballot caused McCarthy to lose by one vote. Mike Rogers (R-AL), furious because McCarthy may have bought Gaetz’s vote by offering him the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, had to be stopped from striking Gaetz.

Hakeem Jeffries consistently received 212 votes except for the 12th ballot because David Trone (MD) had surgery. Trone, however, showed up for the 13th ballot to return Jeffries’ vote to 212. By the 13th ballot, McCarthy received 214 votes, still two short of the necessary 216 because of two Republican absences in the chamber. The House voted on party lines 220-212 to adjourn until 10:00 pm when two GOP House members would return and vote for McCarthy. He still lost that round.

The voting appeared to be done for the week at the end of McCarthy’s loss in the 14th ballot. The majority of House members initially voted for adjournment until Monday, but McCarthy talked to Gaetz who then changed his vote to not adjourn. The big smile on McCarthy’s face indicated his belief he would be elected Speaker on the next ballot. For the 15th ballot, six naysayers simply voted “present,” giving the Speaker position to McCarthy with 216 votes, only four more than for Jeffries.

The House spent over 20 hours this week in their attempts to elect a Speaker, spending more and more time each day. Thursday’s eight nonstop hours was the longest, and Friday had the biggest hiatus between its two sessions, about seven hours.

By Friday evening, McCarthy bought votes with a large number of concessions.  In addition to earlier ones, McCarthy promised to bring up 12 regular appropriations bills individually and commitments on an open amendment process. Like the promise for 72 hours from the release of a final bill text before a floor vote, McCarthy’s concessions will delay the lawmaking process, the goal of the far-right House members who want to close down government. He also agreed to make ultra-conservatives the chairs of important committees.

McCarthy’s kowtowing to the far-right angered other GOP members; McCarthy is empowering hardliners to make governing difficult if not impossible. One of McCarthy’s promises was also steep budget cuts across the board which means taking money from defense. Senior members have also “forcefully” warned McCarthy against giving his detractors plum committee posts, such as allowing Andy Harris (R-MD) to lead the Labor/HHS subcommittee.  Harris opposes government-mandated project labor agreements on federally funded construction projects and claims that President Joe Biden’s immigration policy promotes “illegal immigration.”

A huge concern is whether McCarthy will promise to not raise the debt ceiling causing severe problems for the economy. If the debt ceiling is frozen, the government must make choices in spending existing funds—paying federal employee salaries, Social Security benefits, or interest on the debt. Military wages and small businesses with federal loans would be at risk, increased interest rates would increase prices and exacerbate inflation, and U.S. investments would be considered unsafe, negatively impacting the stock market. Not paying the interest puts the U.S. into default. 

The last ceiling was $28.4 trillion in August 2021 after DDT increased the debt by $7.8 trillion.  In November 2022, it was $31.238 trillion. Congress has always raised the debt, 78 times since 1960, to raise, extend, or revise the debt limit definition—49 times with GOP presidents and another 29 times with Democratic presidents. The current unprecedented times, however, are endangered by the control that McCarthy is giving the far-right members, some of them QAnon believers and election-deniers, to allow him to move into the Speaker’s office and have his portrait hanging in the Speaker’s Lobby next to that of Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the first woman Speaker of the House.

Conservative columnist Henry Olsen writes that the only way McCarthy could lead the House GOP members is “the power to expel members from the party caucus.” McCarthy, however, would never use that power even if he retained it. This is the man who immediately blamed DDT for the January 6 insurrection and found DDT’s behavior “unacceptable” before backing down within days to return to DDT worship. Audio proves that McCarthy now lies about his statements in January 2021. Thus, McCarthy will remain, as Michelle Goldberg wrote, “a hostage to the hard right and constantly in danger of defenestration.” He doesn’t dare offend any GOP House member because he agreed to a change in the rules that one person can call for a new vote for a different Speaker.

Polling for McCarthy and other issues:

  • 35 percent: Maintaining McCarthy’s role as leader.
  • 45 percent: Republicans viewing McCarthy favorably.
  • 73 percent: Republicans wanting new Congress leadership.
  • 90 percent: General expectations of political conflict instead of political cooperation.
  • 40 percent: Trust in NFL to address NFL players’ safety concerns.
  • 43.4 percent: Approval of President Joe Biden, up almost two percent from last month.  

While the House Republicans were fighting each other and Democrats on Wednesday, Biden went with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a joint appearance to promote the bipartisan infrastructure spending for an addition to a 60-year-old  bridge in great disrepair. They appeared with Govs. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Andy Beshear (D-KY) to celebrate the $1.64 billion funding a new bridge connecting the two states across the Ohio River. McCarthy opposed the infrastructure law providing the funding whereas McConnell voted in favor of it. McConnell declared  that “building a new companion bridge on the Brent Spence Bridge corridor will be one of the bill’s crowning accomplishments.” In 2011, President Obama visited the bridge and urged Congress to pass a jobs bill that would rebuild the bridge, already declared functionally obsolete. Before Biden returned to Washington, he said, “To have a Congress that can’t function is just embarrassing.”

Biden commemorated today’s anniversary by presenting Presidential Citizen Medals to 14 people, some posthumously, who battled to defend America’s democracy after the 2020 election. All Republicans except Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA) boycotted the event. His statements about the award for Rusty Bowers, the former speaker of he Arizona House of Representatives, were particularly symbolic. After Bowers refused to overturn the 2020 election results, he lost his primary. Biden said

“Public service isn’t about what you’re willing to do to win. It’s what you’re willing to lose over… Rusty, you’re … a demonstration to every young man and woman thinking about entering politics about what integrity — what integrity is all about.”

The praise for Bowers made McCarthy’s lack of integrity in his sole goal of winning stand out.

Biden also presented a medal to Ruby Freeman, a temporary election worker recently attacked again by DDT who lied about her rigging the Georgia election. Because of DDT’s falsehoods, Freeman was temporary forced out of her house and had to close her small business, but she testified in one of the House January 6 investigative committee’s public hearing. DDT may think his lies can fend off problems from the Georgia investigation. 

In other news:

A New York state judge denied motions by DDT and three of his children—Jr., Eric, and Ivanka—to dismiss the state’s AG $250 million lawsuits, calling some repetition of arguments “frivolous.” A federal judge also ordered DDT’s former lawyers to provide the names of private investigators searching DDT’s properties last year for more classified documents.

The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s 2021 ban on six-week abortions with exceptions only for rape and incest as unconstitutional under the right to privacy. The 3-2 decision means that abortions will remain legal up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The FTC has proposed a ban on U.S. employers forcing noncompete clauses on workers so that they can more easily change jobs. It would also deepen competition for labor. Noncompete clauses prevent employees from moving to a competitor, usually for a period of time. Over one-fourth of workers making under $13 an hour suffer from noncompetes.

GOP legislators criticize the economy, but 6.7 million jobs were created in Biden’s first year, and December 2022 added 235,000 jobs, well above the153,000 Dow Jones estimate and making a total of 4.5 additional jobs—adding up to 11.2 million jobs. In contrast, the GOP hero DDT created 6.4 million jobs in three years and then lost all of them his last year because of his mismanagement of the pandemic. Biden also dropped the unemployment rate from 6.4 percent to 3.5 percent, a level lower than any time during the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The chart shows Democratic presidents gain more jobs than Republicans.  

January 5, 2023

Third Day of House Speaker Election Chaos; Ukraine Update

Filed under: Legislation,War — trp2011 @ 10:57 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

In the five ballots for House Speaker on the third day, the votes for Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), 212, and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), 200, stayed the same as yesterday while Vicky Spartz (R-IN) continued to vote “present” and another 20 members voted for “others.” The only difference came from those who didn’t vote for Byron Donalds (R-FL): Matt Gaetz (R-FL) picked Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) in his first two votes of the day, and Josh Brecheen (R-OK) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) chose Kevin Hern (R-OK) starting with the second ballot on January 5. Hern had voted for McCarthy but said he wouldn’t mind being Speaker. For the ninth ballot, Boebert nominated Hern, who received three votes when Gaetz joined Boebert and Brecheen. Donalds’ 17 votes and Spartz’s “present” vote left McCarthy and Jeffries with their usual votes because Hern voted for McCarthy.

After these three votes, the House moved on to the tenth ballot—same status for both Jeffries and McCarthy with Spartz’s “present.” The change came with a movement to Hern, seven votes, while 13 members stayed with Donalds. In the 11th ballot, Hern kept the seven votes, and Donalds lost one to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), nominated  by Gaetz who also voted for him. These eleven ballots make the number of votes for House Speaker the highest since 1856 with its 133 ballots. Only 14 Speaker elections have required multiple ballots in the 127 Speaker elections since 1789. Thirteen of them were before the Civil War, and, until the 118th Congress, only seven required over nine ballots.

McCarthy had one victory today: he managed to get the House to adjourn with a vote of 219 to 213 before he lost a 12th ballot. The House reconvenes at noon on January 6, the second anniversary of the GOP insurrection at the Capitol. One Republican joined all Democrats in opposing the adjournment. The freshman congressional retreat with trainings and policy discussion planned for this weekend was postponed.

Before the January 5 ballots, McCarthy made more concessions to the recalcitrant 20 when the first set of concessions lost him a vote. The biggest rule change he promised was to allow one House member to force a vote ousting the Speaker from his former concession of lowering the number to five. He also promised to put more conservative Freedom Caucus members onto the House Rules Committee that debates legislation before it moves to the floor. Another McCarthy promise was to relent on allowing floor votes for term limits on members and enact specific border policy legislation.

Thus far, McCarthy’s concessions have done no good; several of the non-McCarthy 20 have said they will not support him. McCarthy may also lose moderates who formerly pledged they would never support a rules package giving one House member the power to vacate a Speaker.

Another concession came from McCarthy’s super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) , which promised to not participate in open House primaries for safe Republican seats. The conservative Club for Growth, originally in opposition to McCarthy, made the same promise. Earlier concessions included no more remote votes and markups, a custom beginning with the pandemic; the ability to zero out a government official’s salary; 72 hours for lawmakers to a read bill before it comes to the floor; and a new select commit to investigative the “weaponization” of the Justice Department and the FBI. Any elected Speaker must comply with McCarthy’s concessions, weakening the position and the House itself.

During the 2022 election cycle, CLF spent almost $260 million to help reelect Republicans including members voting against his speakership bid. Top donors were business billionaires, giving them power over the GOP. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted:

“It is creepy that dark money super PACs are explicitly part of the negotiation regarding who becomes speaker of the United States House.”

Federal law blocks candidates from coordinating with super PACs; in this case, their action benefits McCarthy, possibly breaking the law. Club for Growth, that has switched opposition to McCarthy after his latest concessions, receives dark money from the Koch network and other right-wing forces.

DDT is pleased with the standoff, saying it will make the position of House Speaker “BIGGER & MORE IMPORTANT.”

The lack of a House Speaker for at least three days has stymied all House action: members can’t be sworn in or paid. and House rules cannot be passed. Without rules by January 13, staffers will also receive no pay. No elected representative is privy to national security matters and cannot see top-secret information or discuss these issues with national security officials because they lack clearance until sworn in. Most distressing to Republicans is that they cannot begin their oversight of the Biden administration.

McCarthy’s idea for getting enough votes is to lower the current 217 votes, Spartz already voting present, to a much lower number by more members also voting present. Democratic candidate Jeffries has received 212 votes. If ten Republicans vote present and McCarthy can’t come up with 212 votes, the Democrat could become House Speaker in a chamber with a GOP majority.

George Santos, new representative from New York who McCarthy kept in Congress for his vote despite serious ethical problems, has reached another low in lying. On his website, he stated he voted “nay” on the Omnibus bill passed on December 23, impossible because he and all other House members cannot be sworn in until a Speaker is elected. In addition, the Omnibus bill was passed in the 117th Congress; Santos can’t vote until the 118th Congress. He also claimed to have voted on four other bills during last year’s session. 

The GOP search for House leaders has come up with questionable choices. Bryon Donalds was touted by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) because the nominee for Speaker is Black and his large size would intimidate Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Missing from the description is his background as a youth, arrested on a marijuana charge dropped through a pretrial diversion program. Later he pled guilty to a felony bribery charge in a plot to defraud a bank, a charge later expunged. He was also part of the “Freedom Force,” a Republican group that lobbied for federal funding for a cobalt plant started by a GOP consultant who had run the Conservative Leadership PAC and led by a firm netting almost $1 million from GOP campaigns. In 2021, Donalds was refused membership in the Congressional Black Caucus and voted to overturn Joe Biden’s election. He also supported Florida’s voter suppression laws.

Steve Scalise (R-LA), already second in House GOP leadership who may be considered for Speaker, has a history of white supremacy. In 2002, Scalise accepted a speaking engagement at a white supremacist conference, but Scalise said he only vaguely recalled his speech and didn’t know that it was a white nationalist group. A journalist reported that Scalise “told him he was like David Duke without the baggage.”

Updates from the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

The U.S. and Germany are sending armored combat vehicles to Ukraine, and both countries will train Ukrainian forces on their use. France will send light tanks. Russia has moved its long-range bombers farther from Ukraine after they and medium bomber aircraft were damaged in two attacks by Ukraine last month. Long-range planes can still fire cruise missiles into Ukraine, but the range increases the maintenance stress on the planes. Sixty percent of Ukrainian-held city of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsky region largely held by Russia was destroyed by Russian shelling.

Russia has pardoned the first recruits for its Wagner mercenary group after six months fighting in Ukraine. Last month, the group received infantry rockets and missiles from North Korea. Wagner has 50,000 troops in Ukraine, 40,000 convicts serving prison sentences when they were enlisted.

Ukraine started 2023 by shooting down dozens of Iranian attack drones fired by Russia and killing dozens of Russian soldiers in a rocket strike on a vocational school used as an ammo dump in the occupied city of Makiivka, in Donetsk province. Russia declared the strike killed 89 of their soldiers, but Ukraine and Russian war correspondents said hundreds of Russian troops were killed, possibly 1,200. A day later, Ukraine destroyed another huge Russian ammo dump near Svatove.

Ukraine has also become skilled at shooting down the drones, reporting that it downed all 80+ exploding drones sent by Russia, some of them with antiaircraft guns and small-arms fire. Other methods are surface-to-air missiles.

Military analysts report that Ukraine’s success comes from its use of HIMARS, howitzers, and other long-range artillery along with Russian blunders. Russia blames its troops for giving away their location by using cellphones, but Ukraine and Russian military bloggers accuse their commanders. Russia lacks transport vehicles to distribute new conscripts, leaving the concentrated groups vulnerable to Ukranian attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his forces to hold a unilateral cease-fire for Orthodox Christmas from noon January 6 through January 7. He said he was following a request from the church leader, Patriarch Kirill. He called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do the same, but Zelensky said Putin’s order would increase the death toll. “Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses respites at war to continue the war with renewed vigor.” Ukraine celebrated its Christmas on December 25.

 

August 21, 2022

Whither GOP Abortion Bans

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:07 PM
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Last spring, a leaked draft of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade and denying women their reproductive rights spread like wildfire throughout the world. Republicans started to panic because its potential affect on the 2022 midterms but hoped that the new would be as disastrous as it sounded. On June 24, the high court, with the support of six Supremes, released the decision, and the draft, filled with irrational arguments, was official with almost no changes. GOP legislators kept hoping the result wouldn’t be as bad as they feared, but the fallout has been worse than they might have feared.

The polls showed a majority rejected the Supreme Court decision, and the first state initiative supporting Roe, this one in highly-GOP Kansas, followed the strong support for abortion rights on the same day as the August 2 primary with 59 percent voting for rights, despite the lies of the anti-abortionist activists to confuse the vote. With no evidence, anti-abortionists refused to accept the vote: nine of the 105 Kansas counties insisted on a recount of the votes. In eight of these countries, 32 votes were changed in the 543,855 votes supporting abortion rights. Thirteen fewer votes favored tighter abortion restrictions, and 19 fewer votes favored the retention of current rights. One county didn’t meet the August 20 deadline at 5:00 pm.   

Kansas was the first loss after the Roe overturning for anti-abortionists who planned to use ballot measures for their movement, a strategy that they have run since the Roe decision in 1973. In over 50 years, 85 percent of abortion-related measures on state ballots have been proposed by anti-abortion groups. Voters approved only one-fourth of them while accepting 57 percent of abortion rights ballot initiatives, all before 1992. Kentucky, Michigan, California, Vermont, and Montana have abortion rights initiatives on the November ballot. A history of abortion initiatives by year.

While 14 states partially or completely banned telemedicine abortion, used in 54 percent of all abortions, Massachusetts’ new law protects telemedicine abortion providers serving patients in states banning abortions by mailing medication and giving telemedicine abortion care.  Massachusetts providers proving legal abortion care cannot be extradited to another state where the practice is illegal. The law prevents anyone from providing information or help to law enforcement or private citizens against the providers, and they can countersue if they are prosecuted in criminal or civil lawsuits. Their licenses are protected and their malpractice insurance is kept within reach for those who face out-of-state civil lawsuits while providing lawful abortion care in Massachusetts. With no requirement of parental consent, minors ages 16 and 17 can receive care. Other required benefits for these Massachusetts legal abortion providers.

In Nebraska, a 17-year-old girl was criminally charged for an abortion of a fetus over 20 weeks. She will be tried as an adult, and her mother has also been charged. Officials discovered the abortion by investigating the girl’s Facebook messages.

Michigan has been struggling over a 1931 ban on abortion. A state judge finally blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the 91-year-old law after the state Court of Appeals claimed that these prosecutors could enforce the prohibition. Although Republicans previously claimed that doctors and pregnant people getting abortions wouldn’t be charged, the law states both these categories of people, including those using medication for abortions, could be guilty of felonies. An exception to “preserve the life” of the mother is vague. Like other states with GOP legislatures, Michigan didn’t repeal the law after the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Idaho Republicans took only seven days to pass the trigger law banning abortion in 2020. Public testimony wanted the law more restrictive by removing exceptions for rape and incest. With no medical professionals in the discussion, situations such as ectopic pregnancies or other medical problems weren’t even mentioned. Abortions are blocked after six weeks of pregnancy, before women know they are pregnant. Convicted doctors facilitating an abortion after that time face two to five years in prison.

The law needed a federal appeals court to deem a similar law constitutional, which occurred in July. The state Supreme Court refused to temporarily stop these laws during legal challenges; it takes effect on August 25 unless a federal judge intervenes in a fourth lawsuit. Technically the law went into effect on August 12 when the law permitting relatives of an embryo or fetus aborted after six weeks, including the family of a rapist, to sue the doctor in civil court for a minimum of $20,000 for a fetus aborted after six weeks.

A DOJ lawsuit to block the Idaho law asserts it violates a federal law requiring Medicaid-funded hospitals to provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients experiencing medical emergencies. Seventeen states oppose the DOJ case, stating that hospitals can just turn down federal funding.

Twenty states side with the DOJ and claim that their own residents would be at risk for a medical emergency while pregnant and in Idaho. Neighboring states such as Oregon and Washington expressed concern about the “spillover effect” if Idaho patients with ectopic pregnancies or other emergencies are forced to seek out-of-state care. Coalitions of major medical associations, including the American College of Emergency Physicians  and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also filed briefs in the case because Idaho’s law is too vague and difficult to medically interpret. It would also force health care providers to choose between violating state law and being charged with a crime or violating federal law and facing fines and the loss of federal funding.

People who live in red states with abortion bans can expect even greater problems with such issues as corporations boycotting the state, medical schools failing to recruit, communities unable to enlist doctors including obstetricians and gynecologists. Indiana immediately began to experience this difficulty when pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, one of the state’s biggest employers, said the company would look elsewhere for expansion. Republican legislators in the state are so radical that 35 of them are comfortable with a woman being forced to carry a dead fetus to full term.

In Indiana, 27 percent of the counties are considered maternity care deserts with limited or no access to maternal care, and the state has one of the nation’s highest maternal mortality rates, 52 deaths per 100,000 births—twice the U.S. average. In a recent survey of almost 1,400 residents and fellows at the IU School of the medicine, 80 percent said they are less likely to remain in the state after the abortion ban. Indiana is the home of Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the doctor persecuted by the state’s AG for performing a legal abortion on a ten-year-old girl.

Doctors who have a family practice worry not only about the abortion ban but also potential restrictions on fertility treatment and contraception such as IUDs and Plan B medication. Most Indiana Republicans voted against a measure protecting the right to contraception.

The abortion ban is leaching over into the false belief of “personhood” from fertilization. The myth of an early heartbeat is actually the sound manufactured by the ultrasound machine, an electrical pulse. The heart does not exist as any kind of structure until ten weeks when an embryo becomes a fetus, and the term “heartbeat” is not accurate until 17 to 20 weeks. At six weeks, the embryo develops a tube generating sporadic electrical impulses, according to Dr. Ian Fraser Golding, a pediatric and fetal cardiologist at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.

Even so, Georgia’s anti-abortion law gives $3,000 state income tax exemption for “any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat” (aka the ultrasound machine). At that point, the embryo “shall qualify as a dependent minor,” according to Georgia law.

Wisconsin anti-abortion law goes back to 1849, predating Michigan’s law by 82 years. The arguments within the GOP, however, demonstrate the party’s struggle to agree. The GOP Assembly speaker Robin Vos, running for another term despite the attempts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to vote him out of the primary, wants to reinforce the exception for a woman’s life and adding other exceptions such as rape and incest. Others want to make the law as restrictive as possible. Nine states currently have laws banning abortion from conception, with three more to take effect on August 25.

The red states moving to restrict or ban abortion are the most likely to provide the least care for pregnant women and the children they deliver.

  • Worst maternal and child health outcomes.
  • More difficulty in getting health insurance.
  • Refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • More child poverty.
  • More babies born with low birth weight, indicating serious health problems.
  • Highest infant and maternal mortality rates.
  • Less access to care for pregnant women.
  • Less financial support for families and children.

At this time, 40 percent of single mothers and their children live in poverty.

Despite all the laws, only 16 percent of Republicans say abortion generally should be “illegal in all cases.” Most Republicans said their state should generally allow a pregnant person to obtain a legal abortion if the child would be born with a life-threatening illness (61 percent), the person became pregnant as the result of rape or incest (77 percent) or if the pregnant person’s health is seriously endangered (85 percent). The GOP based insists on total abortion bans; others consider extenuating circumstances.

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.  

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