Nel's New Day

February 5, 2023

Balloons Plus More News

The White House didn’t have information about the three suspected Chinese spy balloons during the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) until President Joe Biden took office, and DDT said on Truth Social that these balloons’ transiting the U.S. during his administration were “fake disinformation.” The Pentagon, however, had briefed Congress about these surveillance balloons near Texas and Florida. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) talked about past Chinese balloon surveillance near Florida, Texas, Hawaii, and Guam. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had said that Chinese aircraft illegally entering airspace was unprecedented.

After the newest balloon was shot down Saturday, the debris of the one-ton balloon payload spread along seven miles, an excellent reason for waiting until the balloon was over the ocean, not land. Rep. Mike Turner made the balloon into a game when he said that Biden’s shooting down the balloon was “sort of like tackling the quarterback after the game is over.” Former chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff said risking civilian life by shooting the balloon down over land was not warranted.

With some of the hubbub about the Chinese balloon no longer bearing fruit, Republicans have reverted to attacking social media TikTok for security concerns.

At a tech finance symposium, a member said that war between China and Taiwan would be good for America’s Frontier Fund (AFF), an investment group whose co-founder and CEO sits on both the State Department Foreign Affairs Policy Board and President Joe Biden’s Intelligence Advisory Board. Other venture funds would benefit from the destabilization of the global crisis. AFF has close ties to Peter Thiel, the conservative billionaire who gave millions of dollars to senatorial candidates Blake Masters (AZ) and J.D. Vance (Ohio).

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) hasn’t avoided ridicule after he handed out pins with the image of semi-automatic rifles to any members of the House who would take them. This photo of the terrified Clyde cowering behind law enforcement from people he later called “tourists” disproves his braggadocio. Other photos show him pushing furniture against the door to keep out DDT’s supporters.  

This past weekend, the Democratic party changed the order of primaries, moving South Carolina to first place. In 2023, South Carolina will vote on February 3. New Hampshire and Nevada follow on February 6, Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. Iowa, which like New Hampshire votes with a caucus, has been moved out of early primaries. With a state law to be the first primary, including the federal one, New Hampshire is traumatized and vows to hold its primary first, no matter what. In Georgia, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sets the date, and his office refuses to split the primaries for the two parties. Gov. Brian Kemp also said he won’t support any changes. Michigan’s Democratic legislature and governor have passed a bill to change the state’s primary date, a problem for the GOP.

Among proposals passed at the DNC is one emphasizing the importance of youth voting and youth Democratic engagement. Other resolutions include support for President Joe Biden’s policies on the environment and Ukraine.

Elon Musk’s Tesla raised prices on its Model Y in the U.S. after government made more versions of the car eligible for tax credits. The increase came three weeks after Tesla cut prices for some versions of the Model Y by 20 percent for slumping demand. That cut caused Ford to drop the price of the Mustang Mach-E, but General Motors held firm.

Twitter’s changes continue to upset users, the most recent one the elimination of free API access for third-party developers. The site’s automated accounts will disappear unless the person in charge pays for access and researchers collecting public data from the site will lose the resource. API, application programming interface, allows programs to communicate and connect with each other; therefore developers outside the company can create connecting programs.

API stands for “application programming interface,” and it’s a framework that allows programs to communicate and connect with each other. In the case of a platform like Twitter, or Facebook or YouTube, this means developers outside the company can create programs that connect with the main product. Twitter’s description of its API says developers can use the feature to “moderate conversations for health and safety,” “enable creation and personal expression,” “measure and analyze what’s happening” and more. The latest move again shows Musk’s financial difficulties with Twitter.

Leonard “Raheem” Taylor will be executed this week despite a camera recording showing him 2,000 miles away from the crime and witnesses seeing the victims alive at that time. Police had arrested and harassed Taylor’s brother into implicating Taylor in the crime before he recanted his statements before the 2008 trial, saying that all his statements were “coerced.” Police told the brother if he didn’t say what they wanted that they hurt his disabled mother. A medical examiner changed his time-of-death estimate to support the state’s version of events. Missouri has refused to reopen the case and review the evidence. With all the evidence about Taylor’s innocence, however, a prosecuting attorney claimed no facts “to support a credible claim of innocence” in Taylor’s case.

Florida legislators are returning to the Capitol this week for a special legislative session to remove governing powers from the Walt Disney Company as part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ retaliation. Other objectives are fixing legal problems with DeSantis’ new election police force and the migrant transport program.

In 1967, Florida gave control to Disney over the Reedy Creek Improvement District land in and around its central Florida theme parks. Disney criticized DeSantis for his “don’t say gay” bill, and the governor took aim at the corporation. Lawmakers voted to dissolve Reedy Creek in June 2023 but left town without a plan. A serious issue is how to save Orange and Osceola county residents from paying a $1 billion debt. DeSantis has reassured bondholders they won’t have to pay.

Florida legislators will use the special session to consider the transport of migrants from anywhere in the United States, a significant expansion of a program in which DeSantis paid for two flights that carried migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The program stalled after legal challenges over whether the DeSantis administration violated a state law limiting the transport to migrants from only Florida.

Another consideration is giving jurisdiction to the new Office of Elections Crimes and Security prosecutorial power for crimes involving elections. A judge had dismissed a case regarding the arrest of a Miami defendant, ruling that state prosecutors had acted beyond their authority.

Voter fraud isn’t a big deal—if it’s committed by GOP voters. The most recent sentence was for one of four voting cheaters from the large Florida retirement community, The Villages, who were caught in 2021 voting both in Florida and in other states. They and others who committed voting felonies require prison sentences have almost all received probation for pleading guilty. One Ohio double voter got only three days in jail. On the other hand, DeSantis arrested former felons who voted about clerks gave them ballots. Republicans had passed a law saying that they could vote only if they had paid all their fees. 

GOP attorneys general from 20 states are warning CVS and Walgreens not to mail the abortion pill mifepristone into their states. The medication was approved over 20 years ago as a safe and effective method of terminating an early pregnancy. Last month, the drugstores said they are applying for certification with the FDA to dispense the prescription in states where it is legal to do so. Walgreens is waiting for this approval before dispensing the drug. The DOJ has argued that exceptions exist in states with severe restrictions on abortion despite the 1873 law, the Comstock Act, that prohibits sending anything used to terminate a pregnancy through the mail.

Section 1461 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code does not prohibit the mailing of certain drugs that can be used to perform abortions if the sender lacks the intent that the recipient of the drugs will use them unlawfully. Because it blocks the hormone cortisol, mifepristone is also used to treat Cushing’s syndrome and elevated blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus as well as clinical trials for breast cancer, brain cancer, prostate cancer, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

GenBioPro, one of the pill’s manufacturers, is suing to overturn West Virginia’s abortion ban with the argument that FDA approval of drugs preempts state law, and a North Carolina physician who prescribes the pill is also suing for its lack of availability because she cannot treat her patients. In Texas, anti-abortion physicians are suing the FDA in federal court to completely pull mifepristone from the U.S. market. The case is before one of DDT’s most conservative, anti-rights Judge Matthew Kaczmaryk. If he removes the medication from the U.S., an appeal goes to the ultra-conservative Fifth Circuit Court.

The anti-abortion Church at Planned Parenthood, founded by the Covenant Church, has been ordered to pay $960,000, including $850,000 in legal fees for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho after a Spokane judge ruled the group violated with state law by interfering with patient care.

February 4, 2023

Balloon Blown Up, Courts Go Right-Wing

More balloons: President Joe Biden ordered a Chinese balloon, which crossed the U.S. after entering Alaska a week ago, shot down off the coast of South Carolina. The size was estimated at the equivalent of three school buses, and it had traveled about 12 miles in the sky. Biden waited until it was no longer above land, thus not endangering civilians. His administration also had time to analyze the balloon and learn about what it was doing with its “sophisticated communications gear” and how it was performing. Details of shooting. (Photo by Randall Hill, Reuters)

An F-22 Raptor took it down with a single missile at 2:39 pm on February 4. The pilot’s call sign, Frank 01, was named after Frank Luke Jr., “the Arizona Balloon Buster” destroying German observation balloons and enemy planes. Downed in water about 47 feet deep, the balloon’s recovery may be simple. A Navy salvage ship will start in two days to bring it up with divers and unstaffed underwater vessels.

The administration had blocked the balloon’s ability to collect information undermining U.S. national security. Yet Republicans had a number of criticisms, one of them allowing the balloon to proceed across the country. None of them had commented on the four Chinese surveillance balloons in U.S. airspace during the last few years, three of them while Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was still in the White House. Other than the balloons during DDT’s administration, which an official called “no big deal,” other hostile aircraft was seen during his four years; i.e., swarms of drones over Colorado and Nebraska in 2019 and January 2020.

House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) fueled conspiracy theories for the Fox network audience when he suggested that the balloon contained “bioweapons” and asked if it took off “from Wuhan.” He called Biden “compromised” and said he will target and investigate him. If his theories turned out to be true, which is extremely unlikely, shooting it down would spread Comer’s bioweapons. Comer missed the Pentagon briefing to appear on television.

For at least two years, the Pentagon has been working on high-altitude inflatables flying between 60,000 and 90,000 feet to add to its surveillance network and track hypersonic weapons developed by China and Russia. The Defense Department is also developing drones equipped with “stratospheric payloads” along with balloons to track moving ground targets, provide communications, and intercept electronic signals.

More Supreme Court problems: Chief Justice John Roberts insisted on an in-house investigation into the leaking of a rough draft overturning Roe v. Wade because he could do a better job. Yet he discovered nothing from the probe. CNN, however, has found out about the “security” used within the high court.

  • Some justices often use personal email accounts for sensitive transmissions instead of secure servers established to guard this information. (Lock them up, anyone?)
  • The court’s employees use printers that don’t produce logs and are able to print sensitive documents off-site without tracking.
  • “Burn bags” for sensitive materials to be destroyed are left open and unattended in hallways. Others are filled to capacity and left near desks.
  • The code for access into non-public areas weren’t changed very often.
  • Covid relaxed the rule that sensitive information could not leave the facilities without appropriate authorization. Even before the pandemic, no mechanisms existed to check what was taken from the court.

The North Carolina Supreme Court voted 5-2 along party lines for a hearing to reconsider its decision striking down the congressional districts as unconstitutional party gerrymandering. State districts and a separate voter ID case may also be reconsidered. These cases were all decided before the partisan majority on the court flipped to Republican. The case Moore v. Harper, already argued before the Supreme Court with no decision yet, could become moot, depending on the outcome of the hearing. Moore’s focus is whether North Carolina’s original ruling violated the power of the state’s general assembly to determine maps for congressional districts. The case filed by Republicans asks that the current North Carolina court ruling be overturned.

With the state hearing set for March 14, the court could hand down a decision before the U.S. Supreme Court does. Republicans asked the GOP judges to overturn the decision that the partisan gerrymander was so egregious that it violated the state constitution. SCOTUS heard Republicans argue in favor of the independent state legislature doctrine that only a state legislature can set rules for a federal election, rules that cannot be changed by state courts. Deciding in favor of the Republicans could completely change the way that election rules are determined in all the states.

Immigration is one of GOP favorites in attacking Biden, but illegal migrant crossings decreased by 40 percent between December 2022 and January 2023. Biden has a new policy offering two-year permits each month for 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela according to an agreement with Mexico. Texas AG Ken Paxton is leading A Group of 20 in a lawsuit to overturn Biden’s policy.

Men who want to kill their partners and families and commit mass shootings can sigh with relief now that a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court, the most conservative appeals court with six of 17 judges appointed by DDT, has struck down the law preventing people with domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns. Two of the three judges on the panel for U.S. v. Rahimi were DDT appointments; the third came from Ronald Reagan.

Once again, history is the reason; judges maintain the Founding Fathers didn’t have any objections to domestic abusers carrying guns. (Muskets?) A question is how far “originalists” will go. Men beating their wives was legal in the U.S. until 1871 when Arkansas passed the first law against the abuse.  

The case was against a man prevented by a civil protective order banning him from harassing, stalking, or threatening his ex-girlfriend and their child was overturned after the Supreme Court decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The opinion set new standards for the Second Amendment by demanding justification of gun safety laws by showing they are “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” A statement from DOJ AG Merrick B. Garland:

“Nearly 30 years ago, Congress determined that a person who is subject to a court order that restrains him or her from threatening an intimate partner or child cannot lawfully possess a firearm. Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent, or of the text, history, and tradition of the Second Amendment, that statute is constitutional. Accordingly, the Department will seek further review of the Fifth Circuit’s contrary decision.”

Thursday’s ruling overturned the federal law and is not likely to impact similar state laws, including one in California. Still, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, called the judges who issued the ruling “zealots” who are “hellbent on a deranged vision of guns for all, leaving government powerless to protect its people.”

States searching for gun safety laws are reviewing the language. California’s Gov. Gavin Newson endorsed a bill banning people from carrying concealed guns in almost all public places except for churches and businesses posting signs saying guns are acceptable. Churches are popular places for mass shootings.

Bruen said “ordinary, law-abiding citizens [can] carry handguns publicly for their self-defense.” The Fifth Circuit classifies this man as “ordinary, law-abiding”: during six weeks he fired an AR-15 into the home of his Percocet buyer, shot at a driver after an accident and drove off, returned to fire a different gun and again flee, shot at a police car, and fired several rounds in the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a fast-food restaurant. Three conservative judges ruled he has the right to own a gun because he is “part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees.” The man was also accused of dragging his girlfriend into his car, shooting at witnesses who saw him assault her, and threatening the girlfriend with shooting her if she told anyone what happened.

DDT’s judge who wrote the opinion said that several colonies and states had laws to disarm classes of people considered dangerous but “the purpose of these ‘dangerousness’ laws was the preservation of political and social order, not the protection of an identified person from the specific threat posed by another.”

The source of pins glorifying the AR-15 worn by some House members instead of flags is Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who said the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was like a “normal tourist visit.” He owns a gun shop.

What did Republicans say about Biden’s amazing jobs report? Nothing. But they greatly admired DDT in 2018 when his numbers weren’t nearly as good. And Republicans have said nothing about the cost of gas going down over one-third between June and December 2022. 

February 3, 2023

News – February 3, 2023

Follow-up on House Judiciary Committee meeting: Member Chip Roy (R-TX) was caught in the lie that migrants on the southern border are responsible for the fentanyl crisis. A Washington Post reporter called the statement “a rather insidious falsehood.” Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked the reporter, but extensive investigation provides “decades of evidence” that seizures of smuggled fentanyl are primarily at ports of entry and tied to people with legal U.S. status, even a border agent. An El Paso judge also lambasted the myths of migrant invasions “in our community” and said that the “false racist narrative” continues devasting violence in U.S. communities.

House Republicans work on their message that the U.S. has a bad economy under President Joe Biden, but January added 517,000 jobs, double the Wall Street estimate. Unemployment dropped to 3.4 percent, the lowest since 1969 instead of the expected increase to 3.6 percent. In Labor Department revisions, the economy added 500,000 more jobs in 2022 than previously recorded for a total of 12 million jobs in the past 24 months.

Each of the past six months has also seen a drop in annual inflation and a growth in the GDP. Biden’s actions to cut back inflation:

  • Expanding capacity of U.S. ports to address supply chain bottlenecks: Critical U.S. ports operate 24/7 to get goods to market without a price spike.
  • Lowering gas prices by taking gas from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and transitioning to a clean energy economy: These actions countered Russia’s war in Ukraine. Far-right conservatives in the House were so upset with the drop in gas prices that they tried—and failed—to block the use of the reserves to help consumers.
  • Lowering prices on groceries by cracking down on anti-competitive behavior: Lack of competition had especially increased meat and poultry costs.
  • Reducing health care costs: Republicans fought lower costs for prescription drugs, but Biden lowered out-of-pocket costs for medications from Medicare and expanded financial assistance for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.  
  • Pushing private sector investment in job creation and cutting prices: Investments include electric vehicle charging and semiconductors with domestic manufacturing that creates high-quality jobs and boosts U.S. competitiveness now and in the future. Companies such as Tesla and Ford cite Biden’s agenda for significant price cuts to their electric vehicle fleets.

The Department of Transportation also announced nine new projects for roads, bridges, and a tunnel provided by the Mega Grant program supplied by Biden’s infrastructure law.

Behind-the-scenes tapes secretly recorded after DDT’s 2020 loss in Wisconsin show his state GOP campaign knew he had lost the election but decided to “fan the flames” by crying widespread fraud and Democrats stealing the election. Andrew Iverson, then head of the Wisconsin DDT campaign and now Midwest regional director for the RNC, told Republicans to “be on standby if there’s any stunts we need to pull.” He was also heard to concede that Democrats won because they beat Republicans in getting out the vote. On tape, Iverson also admitted that Biden won the state by almost 21,000 votes.

Republicans are delighted with the huge balloon from China about the size of two school buses seen hovering 60,000 feet above Montana: they have another opportunity to attack the president and other Democrats. Conservatives demand it be shot down, calling the president “China Joe.” The Pentagon advised against the shooting idea because of the danger from falling debris to people on the ground so Don Trump Jr. told Montanans to shoot at it with their own guns. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said the balloon was just over land; shooting it wouldn’t be a problem. The military would also like recover part of the balloon intact.

By late February 3, the balloon crossed Kansas into Missouri. The Pentagon expects it to stay in U.S. airspace “for a few days.” The Pentagon expects it to stay in U.S. airspace “for a few days.” While the U.S. complains, China reports that U.S. surveillance has violated Chinese territory at least 800 times last year. Early in the discussion, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) seemed the voice of reason when he said shooting down the balloon could give China a pretext to take action. By late in the day, however, he joined the party line about needing to shoot it down if there is any suspicion of surveillance.  Leaders from both parties in Congress will receive a briefing next week. Another balloon was seen above Latin America on Friday.

Hours before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was scheduled to leave for a diplomatic trip to Beijing, he canceled his first official visit because of the balloon. He told China’s foreign affairs chief Wang Yi that the “surveillance balloon” in U.S. airspace was an “irresponsible act” and a “clear violation of U.S. sovereignty.”

Early this morning, the GOP sent out an email echoing DDT with the subject heading, “Shoot down the balloon, you coward!” The content began with asking readers to sign a petition to pass along the message to Joe Biden. There was more: “Chip in $35 or more.”  

A federal judge is allowing a wrongful death civil case to proceed against city officials, police officers, and Kyle Rittenhouse who shot and killed two men during a protest in 2020. The father of one of the men shot filed the lawsuit. The suit alleges officers permitted a dangerous situation violating his son’ constitutional rights resulting in his death and that Rittenhouse conspired with police to cause harm to protesters. The judge said that the man’s death “could plausibly be regarded as having been proximately caused by the actions of the governmental defendants.”

Rittenhouse tried to get the case dismissed, claiming he wasn’t properly served, but the judge said Rittenhouse “is almost certainly evading service.” Rittenhouse was acquitted of homicide and reckless endangering for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle he illegally brought to Kenosha (WI) from his Illinois home. He was 17 at the time, thus illegally having a gun.

The Satanic Temple (TST) has started a telehealth abortion clinic in New Mexico named “The Samuel Alito’s Mom’s Satanic Abortion Clinic.” The virtual clinic “provides free medication abortion services to those participating in TST’s religious ritual.” It schedules screenings and appointments, as well as prescribing abortion medication via mail for patients. The news release states:

“In 1950, Samuel Alito’s mother did not have options, and look what happened. Prior to 1973, doctors who performed abortions could lose their licenses and go to jail. The clinic’s name serves to remind people just how important it is to have the right to control one’s body and the potential ramifications of losing that right.”

Alito wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court for Dobbs v. Jackson which overturned abortion rights in Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. The dissent from the minority of three justices stated:

“[This court] says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. An abortion restriction, the majority holds, is permissible whenever rational, the lowest level of scrutiny known to the law.”

TST is a religion recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

Jair Bolsonaro, deposed president of Brazil who applied for a new six-month U.S. visa, headlined Turning Point’s “Power of the People” rally with Charlie Kirk on February 3. Brazilian investigators are probing any role Bolsonaro had in the protest at his country’s capital after he fled to the U.S. shortly before the attempted coup. He was able to come on an A-1 visa because he was still president.

A Brazilian magazine has the recording of Bolsonaro three weeks before the winner, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Trying to keep power, he wanted help to annul the elections and gave his ally, Sen. Marcos do Val, the responsibility of taping Supreme Court justice Alexandre de Moraes while getting the judge to confess he overstepped his powers under the constitution. Police also found a draft decree at the home of Bolsonaro’s former justice minister to overturn the election.

Thorough searches of President Joe Biden’s vacation home in Rehobeth Beach (DE), purchased in 2017, revealed no more classified documents; none has been found in his possession since the few in his home on January 20. Searches were done with Biden’s permission, unlike those in the property of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) who fought their removal.

Next, the FBI plans to search former VP Mike Pence’s residence in Indiana and his office in Washington, D.C. for any classified documents after some were found at his home last month. Only Pence’s attorneys have conducted any searches his premises.

Questions have been raised if the FBI plans to search the multitude of DDT’s homes beyond Mar-a-Lago in New York—Seven Springs, Trump Tower penthouse, Trump Parc building, and Trump Park Avenue—and his Bedminster (NJ) golf resort. And of course, his 500+ “companies, solely owned by DDT, comprising the Trump Organization. Outside of DDT’s apartment and a storage unit at Mar-a-Lago, the only searches have been of part of Trump Tower and one area at Bedminster.  

January 27, 2023

RNC Elects McDaniel, Seditionists Found Guilty, Culture Shocks Conservatives

Ronna Romney McDaniel, Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) niece, won her fourth round for another two years as RNC leader with 111 votes, becoming the longest-serving chair since the Civil War. Opposition candidates were pillow guy Mike Lindell and California lawyer Harmeet Dhillon who represented former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and failed gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. (Despite a shortage of votes, Lake still claims her “victory.”) Dhillon had promised a place at her table for Lindell, who received four votes. Former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who pulled his candidacy, got one vote.

The quality of candidates was at fault in the 2022 midterms, according to McDaniel, a position supported by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). RNC members weren’t taken in by Dhillon’s conservative alliance and far-right media appearances. One of them said he didn’t care what Tucker Carlson or Charlie Kirk thought. Dhillon’s endorsement from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did bring her 11 of her 51 votes from the 168 committee members, and one Dhillon supporter said the 168 members “know more about that the party needs going forward than the rank-and-file voter back home.” DeSantis had called for “new blood.”

The struggle boiled down to whether the members voted for status quo or change. McDaniel’s win may have been helped by the lack of DDT’s endorsement and Dhillon’s abrasiveness. Colleagues considered her messages to follow her GOP supporters spam as well as rude or threatening. Her apology for the messages in a closed-door session were “backhanded,” according to one member. The response Dhillon’s response after McDaniel’s win matched her reported earlier behavior when she said GOP leaders would face widespread distrust in the party members throughout the country.

Talk radio host John Fredericks called the conference exclusive after only one candidate, Lindell, showed up for his public debate. Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi said McDaniel’s victory would tell the rank-and-file Republicans “that their voice doesn’t matter.” Charlie Kirk told Fox:

“It shows that a majority of the members of the RNC have contempt for the people that put them there. I cannot in good faith tell our audience… to keep giving money to the RNC. In fact, I tell them not to.”

The contentious two-month debate leading up to the election criticized fiscal management, poor results in recent elections, and the character of those on all sides of the contest. Dhillon allies raised questions about McDaniel’s compensation and benefits from being chair; McDaniel supporters questioned the high fees that Dhillon’s law firm charged both DDT and the RNC—over $400,000. At the conference, Dhillon’s top advisor threatened a voting member who changed his allegiance to McDaniel with losing votes in a race.

White supremacist MAGAs may not approve a resolution passed at the conference condemning anti-Semitism and specifically Kanye West and Nick Fuentes although the resolution also accuses Democrats—Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Cori Bush (MO)—for “their antisemitism beliefs.” The resolution is correct about West and Fuentes but not the others.

In 2021, McDaniel had said she would not seek a fourth term, but she announced her candidacy on November 14, 2022, and called members to tell them why she should continue as the RNC chair. Her “Vision for Unity” promotes improvement of GOP “legal ballot collecting,” new tactics for small-dollar fundraising, and greater youth vote. She also promised unity within the party.

In McDaniel’s first term as chair, the Republicans lost 40 House seats and the Senate majority. In her second term, the GOP lost the White House to Joe Biden, and Congress stayed Democratic. She was part of DDT’s attempt to overturn the election and helped recruit MAGAs for the faux elector plot. Her third term with the 2022 midterms experienced DDT’s highly improbably candidates: the House has a majority of only four members, two of them with campaign finance improprieties, and the Senate picked up an additional Democrat. And the party remains divided.

McDaniel has been a good fundraiser, but big-ticket Republicans are becoming disillusioned with the party. Another of the chair’s responsibility is to work with states in elections. Although McDaniel is a DDT supporter, the MAGAs would have preferred Dhillon. Unifying the GOP will be like herding cats; the next two years will see how skillful McDaniel is.

Another struggle for conservative Republicans came from the accusation against Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union (ACU). A male staffer who worked for Herschel Walker claims Schlapp groped and fondled his genitals at length while the staffer was driving Schlapp after buying him drinks at two different bars in Atlanta last October. Most Republicans are reluctant to attend this year’s ACU-sponsored Conservative Political Action. Only Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) enthusiastically declared he would attend. Schlapp has quietly disappeared from the Fox network, which published only one story about the accusation after the staffer filed a lawsuit on January 17 against Schlapp who had denied the sexual abuse. The Fox network has made no other mention of either Schlapp or his wife Mercedes although they were frequent guests prior to that time.

More insurrectionists are receiving guilty sentences from their actions on January 6, 2021. Four Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the second trial with the same sentence. This sentence requires proof that defendants planned to forcibly prevent the execution of a U.S. law. The purpose of attacking the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to overturn Joe Biden’s election by blocking the counting of the electoral votes. The conviction carries up to 20 years in prison, but no date has been set for sentencing.

The government has ten convictions for the charge since the insurrection, and five Proud Boys leaders are currently on trial for the same charge. Oath Keepers had also organized a large number of guns and other weapons at a nearby hotel in Arlington (VA) to use if they managed to further escalate the violence.The man photographed with a foot propped up on a desk in then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office on January 6 has been found guilty of eight federal crimes including four felonies. Sentencing is scheduled for early May; he also faces 20 years in prison for the top charge of obstructing an official proceeding. After the trial, the man’s lawyer claimed it was unfair because Washington, D.C. is not a “state” and the population is mostly “Biden voters.” The man declared he wasn’t part of the protest, that he was looking for a bathroom. He had a stun gun tucked in his pants while in Pelosi’s office but said he thought it didn’t work because it had been washed in the shower. Prosecutors later accused him of lying and being “belligerent” during the trial.

Conservatives are creating more culture wars. Xbox consoles now have an optional feature to save power with a “Shutdown mode,” and radio host Jimmy Failla appeared on Fox & Friends to accuse the company to trying to “recruit kids into climate politics” by “going woke.”  Anchor Ainsley Earhardt agreed with Failla, “You’re right, they’re going after the children.” The majority of gamers possibly using the Xbox are adults: those under the age of 18 comprise only 24 percent of its audience. Faila said the “point of video games [is] for kids to be kids.” He ignored the money savings on electricity bills.

Another crisis for the right wing is the type of shoes depicted on M&M characters and whether they are sexy, causing Mars corporation to retire its 69-year-old “spokescandies.” Much of the hue and cry came from Tucker Carlson, traumatized after knee-high boots and stiletto heels were exchanged for useful footwear. He ranted about Mars changing the appearance of all the female-designated figures “until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with anyone of them. That’s the goal. When you are totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity.” Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted, “You… wanted to have a drink… with an M&M?” In another rant, Carlson said the green M&M is “now a lesbian maybe” and the purple peanut M&M is “obese.” All of the M&M characters are shaped like round candies with stick legs and arms. As usual, the Twitter responses to Carlson’s sexually-frustrated statements were dark humor.

Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee felt that the topic was important enough to officially tweet a complaint about M&Ms and a Disney amusement-park ride that was overhauled because of its racist undertones. 

 

Fox, which started the entire “anti-woke” war against Mars regarding M&Ms, got punked by A&W with a statement that its mascot Rooty the Bear would have to wear pants. In outrage over the A&W statement, Cheryl Casone talked with Maria BARTIROMO  about “the latest company bowing to woke.” Except the A&W declaration was a joke. And Fox Business fell for it. 

January 15, 2023

Politics, More News

Talking to CNN’s Jake Tapper, James Comer (R-KY), chair of the House Oversight Committee, called President Joe Biden’s home a “crime scene” because two dozen classified pages were discovered there and immediately turned over to the DOJ. Yet Comer said they didn’t need to investigate Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) after the discovery of hundreds of classified documents, some of them in DDT’s desk drawer, because the Democrats had already done that. Republicans consistently defend DDT and criticized the FBI search while not calling for any congressional oversight, avoiding questions about their hypocrisy.

Although Comer doesn’t need visitor logs from DDT’s Mar-a-Lago residence, Comer wants that information from Biden’s home, claiming people need to know who “had access to these highly sensitive documents.” That request was sent to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain. Biden had reinstated disclosures of official guests to the White House and released their first records within a few months after his inauguration; DDT had stopped the practice when he moved into the White House.

Comer did describe Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “a bad guy” and called his lies “despicable” but didn’t call on him to be forced out of Congress unless he broke campaign laws. Harbor City Capitol in Florida called George Santos, under the name George Devolder, a “perfect fit” as an employee. The Securities and Exchange Commission has accused Harbor City of running a “classic Ponzi scheme” defrauding investors of millions of dollars. In late 2020, Santos said he was “Harbor City Capital’s head guy for New York City.”

Shortly before the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, one of the insurrection leaders, Ali Alexander, texted the top aide of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) stating, “I think you and your staff should leave.” A protégé of Roger Stone, Alexander testified that Gosar is “a friend to the movement” and “a stellar dude.”

Speaker McCarthy vowed publicly that he will hold China accountable for its damage to the U.S. economy. His chief of staff, Daniel P. Meyer, owns between $250,000 and $300,000 of shares in Alibaba Group Holdings Limited, one of the largest companies in China with close ties to its government. In the decade before working for McCarthy, Meyer was president of the Duberstein Group, the firm earning millions lobbying for Alibaba in the U.S. Meyer was also former senior aid to ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich and helped to develop the Contract with America, a document undermining the social safety net in 1994.

Too little, too late. Fox wants to move past DDT, according to contributor Mara Liasson after Media Buzz host Howard Kurtz of the network’s Media Buzz questioned why DDT isn’t getting the same media coverage for his comments about Biden’s classified documents as Biden is about DDT’s hiding the same sort of materials. The reason the network is stuck? It elected DDT in 2016 because owner Rupert Murdoch was DDT’s close friend. Fox made money on DDT: he owns them. But now DDT has CNN because his supporter John Malone is on the board controlling that network.

A few other bits:

The conservative Heritage Foundation spent over $5 million in 2021, lobbying for laws to block voters, on top of another $560,000 from in-house federal lobbying efforts and registered lobbying by its staffers in at least 24 states. The wealthy Rebecca Mercer, a Heritage board member, helped elected DDT in 2016. Heritage maintains a database of election fraud but finds only 1,402 “proven instances of voter fraud”—an annual average of 35 among hundreds of millions of votes.

In 2017, then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Republicans passed a law dropping taxes for the wealthy and big business. The next year, 34 percent of large, profitable corporations paid no federal taxes, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The report also shows that, on average, large profitable U.S. corporations paid less than nine percent of their profits in federal income taxes for that year. Instead of making these corporations pay their fair share, the Republicans want to reduce amounts for Social Security and Medicare, programs that people have already paid into as part of their taxes.

The GAO didn’t name specific corporations, but another report found that AT&T paid no taxes for 2021 although the company made $29.6 billion that year. AT&T also got a $1.2 billion refund from the IRS. In 2017 before the new law reduced taxes, profitable U.S. corporations paid only 14 percent of their profits; the percentage dropped to 8.9 percent in 2018. Profitable U.S. corporations paid 14 percent of their profits in federal income taxes on average between 2008 and 2012; only one-fifth of them paid nothing every year. The Corporate Tax Dodging Prevention Act introduced in 2021 would have restored the tax rate to 2017. The provision in the bill closing offshore loopholes would have raised over $1 trillion in revenue during the next decade.

A new study verifies eight-year-old news that Exxon was aware in the 1970s of how his company caused climate change when its action could have made a difference. In short, the oil company knew that carbon dioxide from the fossil fuel industry would heat the earth in drastic fashion. Lead author Geoffrey Supran, from his new post at the University of Miami, stated:

“This is the nail-in-the-coffin of Exxon Mobil’s claims that it has been falsely accused of climate malfeasance. Our analysis shows that ExxonMobil’s own data contradicted its public statements, which included exaggerating uncertainties, criticizing climate models, mythologizing global cooling, and feigning ignorance about when—or if—human-caused global would be measurable.”

Exxon minimized the reality of climate change for decades and obfuscated its reality. Over 25 years ago, CEO Lee Raymond attended the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing shortly before the Kyoto climate talks and insisted that the world was cooling and that even if it wasn’t it would make no difference if people delayed action for a few decades. He lied so that Exxon could begin to set the record for highest annual corporate profit.

Those questioning the accuracy of the New York Times have a new problem with the publication. When the U.S. deficit dropped from $2.6 trillion to $1.4 trillion in 2022, Biden’s first full year as president, the country was led by Democrats. Yet the newspaper report used a photo of Republican legislators cheering McCarthy as newly-elected Speaker. One tweet explained:

“But isn’t that the usual MO? When things go well, GOP take wholly undeserved credit. When they eff things up, they blame Biden. And the glorified stenographers, pretending to be journalists, gladly play along to get along.”

Buried toward the end of the article, however, is information about how GOP policies will add to the deficit.

Republicans pretend they are attacking transgender healthcare only for children, but at least three states have bills to restrict access to gender-affirming health care for people up to age 26. Oklahoma has the most extreme, restrictive bill thus far in the Millstone Act, the name taken from a Bible verse punishing adults harming children, that bans Medicaid from coverage for “gender transition procedures” to individuals younger than 26. Justification for the age of 26 is the belief that the human brain doesn’t reach full maturity until adults turn 25. Over ten states have also introduced dozens of bills to ban gender-affirming care for minors.

The Supreme Court is hearing a challenge to New York’s new restrictions on concealed carry of firearms but agreed that the law can continue until it decides whether to uphold a 2nd Circuit Court order to reinstate the law while considering judicial rulings against the law in three cases. The law lists places where guns can be banned such as bars, stadiums, subways, and Times Square. People can carry a concealed weapon on private property only if the property owner consents. Permits require a character test, 18 hours of training, and disclosure of social media history and family members.

Elon Musk turned over internal Twitter company documents to Alex Berenson, a leader in spreading vaccine lies, who had been banned from Twitter in 2021 for repeatedly writing misinformation about the pandemic. In the first of Musk’s “Twitter Files,” Berenson tries to prove that the company censored “vaccine debate” in 2021. Matt Taibbi also made claims that Twitter worked with the federal government to suppress free speech on the social media platform.

The six-year-old boy who shot his teacher in Virginia on January 6 was suspected of bringing the 9mm handgun to school, according to the school superintendent. Parents are wondering why a search of the boy’s backpack but did not reveal the weapon. Police were not told about the tip that he had a gun. The condition of the teacher, 25-year-old Abigail Zwerner, has improved to “stable.” No warning or struggle occurred in the classroom before the boy intentionally shot Zwerner. The gun belonged to the boy’s mother who legally purchased it. Virginia law prohibits leaving a loaded gun accessible to a child under 14. With a wound in her chest from the 9mm bullet shot through her hand, Zwerner had ushered her students to safety, perhaps saving their lives. Investigators found the handgun next to the boy’s desk along with a cellphone and backpack. The school is still closed.

Another Republican has been charged with voter fraud, 52 counts after Kim Phuong Taylor filled out and cast dozens of absentee ballots throughout Sioux City’s Vietnamese community in her husband’s failed race in Iowa for Congress in 2020. Prosecutors stated she also committed the same fraud for the November 2020 election when her husband was elected to the Woodbury County Board.

 

January 10, 2023

Biden’s Classified Documents, GOP, Brazil, Ukraine

Republican legislators and other allies of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) are filled with joy after President Joe Biden’s lawyers reported the discovery of ten classified documents in Biden’s office between 2017 and 2020, his hiatus between vice president and president. Lawyers immediately gave the documents to the National Archives, which hadn’t realized they were missing. The DOJ is reviewing the materials. Key differences between Biden and DDT having classified documents:

  • The FBI didn’t need involvement, including a warrant, to retrieve the documents in Biden’s office.
  • Materials were located in an office Biden used while he was an honorary professor for the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Lawyers notified the National Archives on the same day as the discovery of documents in Biden’s office; the agency took them the next day.
  • Biden’s documents were turned over to the DOJ for review.
  • Federal agents were required to search DDT’s Mar-a-Lago estate and other locations to find sensitive government materials and spent months finding them, some of them in unsecured locations.
  • DDT had far more documents of varying classification degrees, some of them at the highest sensitive level. Some of them described the nuclear capability of a foreign military’s military and top-secret U.S. operations shared with a select few government officials. Documents in Biden’s office didn’t contain nuclear secrets.
  • Instead of handing over the documents, DDT kept claiming they were his and even went to court in his attempt to keep them.

To politicize the discovery of the documents in Biden’s office, Republicans are demanding a national security damage assessment in what Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) called “Republican hypocrisy at its finest.” Republicans found that the 320 documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago “will not be a priority.”

The reputation of the GOP, however, is suffering from one of its freshman House members of the House, New York’s George Santos. In addition to Santos’ many other lies, one of his staffers tried to dupe donors by impersonating new Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) chief of staff, Dan Meyer. The new GOP rules in the House have gutted the ethics committee, and Santos called this decision “fantastic.” 

In the midst of Santos’ glee, two Democratic House members from New York, Ritchie Torres and Dan Goldman, filed an official ethics complaint with the committee about misleading voters regarding “his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history, among other things.” The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission; it alleges wide-ranging campaign violations including Santos’ “straw donor campaign” that helped him evade campaign finance limits.

A few GOP House members have questioned whether Santos should be seated on committees, especially those with sensitive intelligence, but GOP leadership claims the problems are being addressed “internally.”

Another black mark against the new GOP leadership of the House is the silence regarding the attempted coup in Brazil. World leaders have condemned the far-right insurrection orchestrated by supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s losing ex-president, but Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been silent about the violent protest to what the attackers called a stolen election. Virulently opposed to immigrants from south of the border, Republicans are also silent about Bolsonaro hiding out in a Florida hospital while DDT’s staunch supporter Steve Bannon echoes the lie about a “rigged and stolen” election and promotes unrest in Brazil.  

Although Brazilian insurrectionists imported the ideology of the attempted coup from the U.S., that has been somewhat ineffective in punishing the perpetrators, the government in Brazil took direct action during and immediately following the event unlike U.S. officials two years ago. No one was arrested when rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol, and Capitol Police were not given any assistance for hours while legislators were hiding in the building. In Brasilia, at least 1,200 attackers were arrested at the event, and a senior judge on Brazil’s Supreme Court ordered the arrests of two security officials accused of colluding with the rioters. U.S. judges delivered harsh speeches and mostly lenient sentences, and U.S. GOP legislators, many of them re-elected to the House, continue to exude sympathy to the convicted insurrections for over two years of their sedition.

Brazil’s Justice Minister Flavio Dino is investigating the financing behind his country’s insurrection whereas U.S. GOP legislators tried to block any investigation and now declare retribution against the nine members of a House committee who uncovered information about the January 6 insurrection.  

A big difference between U.S. and Brazilian insurrections is that the purpose of riots on January 6, 2021 in the U.S. was to block government business, specifically the election of a U.S. president. The inauguration of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was eight days before the insurrection, and Brazil does not have the U.S. process of counting electoral votes to formalize the president’s election which was interrupted by the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The U.S. Supreme Court dragged its decisions on the U.S. insurrection, but the highly conservative court finally decided Texas went too far when the state refused to grant Areli Escobar, a prison on death row, a new trial. Despite the Texas prosecutors agreeing for a new trial, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ignored the prosecutors’ position when it refused a new trial. An audit by the Texas Forensic Science Commission found fault with the DNA lab’s work—failures to follow scientific protocols, bias, contaminated samples, and inadequate training. The Supreme Court making the unanimous decision for Escobar’s review in the lower court hasn’t given up its conservative reputation, however, to be hostile toward death row prisoners: it refused an execution stay for two different appeals from Texas prisoners to be executed. The high court also didn’t order a new trial; it just told the lower court to take another look at the evidence.

Updates about Ukraine:

Russia claimed it killed 600 Ukrainian troops with “retaliatory” missile strikes on their barracks in Kramatorsk, Donetsk province, but Ukraine, Western reporters, and Russian pro-war military bloggers called Russia’s claim a lie and simply propaganda. Reuters reported “no obvious signs that soldiers” lived in the barracks and “no sign of bodies or traces of blood.” CNN reported “no visual evidence that shows these two buildings were badly hit or that there has been mass deaths on the scale claimed by Russia.”

Almost 11 months since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, its artillery fire has drastically reduced from a wartime high, down by 75 percent in some places. Reasons may be new tactics or rationing artillery rounds because Russia has low supplies. At the same time, Western allies continue to supply Ukraine with weapons, supplies, and training. In the past two months, the mercenary Wagner Group, has lost thousands of fighters and complains it is running low on combat vehicles, artillery shells and ammunition. The leader blames the problem on “internal bureaucracy and corruption.” Of about 50,000 mercenaries—80 percent of them convicts–over 4,100 have been killed and another 10,000 wounded. About 90 percent of the dead are convicts.

Captured inmates say many of the recruited prisoners are “completely insane” and that deserters and troops not following orders are publicly executed. Many Russian prisoners on the front line in Ukraine are drug addicts, “very different from ordinary mercenaries,” according to reports. The first group of prisoners has been released in Russia after their six-month tour and told not to drink too much, do drugs, rape women, or kill.

Earlier this month, Ukraine scored hits on a Russian weapons depot. As Russia’s supply of new ammo disappears, it resorts to 40-year-old degraded artillery shells. Russia can apparently no longer carry out heavy bombardments with massive artillery fire and rocket fire as it did earlier in the invasion. A new Russian strategy may be building up defense fortifications.

According to the head of Britain’s armed forces, about 50,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded since its president, Vladimir Putin, began the invasion, and almost 1,700 tanks were destroyed. In addition, about 4,000 of its armored fighting vehicles have been destroyed.

The Wagner group claims it took over the eastern salt mining town of Soledar, but Ukraine responded that its soldiers are fighting on.

Ukraine is only one of the seven most pressing threats in 2023 as identified by 500 government officials in the annual Preventive Priorities Survey. The others are a confrontation between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, a cyberattack hitting U.S. critical infrastructure; economic collapse and social unrest within Russia because of its war, North Korea testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, Israel’s right-wing government taking action against Iran’s nuclear weapon, and possible natural disaster and social unrest in Central American causing more migration to the U.S. The map shows other hot spots. 

January 8, 2023

House Goes to DDT, More News

Anyone who doubts the direction of new House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) should consider his statement, “I do want to thank especially President Trump. I don’t think anybody should doubt his influence.” According to GOP Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) on The Tucker Carlson Show, McCarthy promises to investigate “influence of FBI and various intel agencies on domestic politics.” McCarthy said he would be responsible to the people of the U.S., not to his party. Some of the ways:

  • Change a strong economy to make it strong.
  • Have a safe nation in which the Democrats have brought crime down.
  • Prosecute criminals (except the ones in Congress).

“Children come first,” said McCarthy although Republicans restrict curriculum to teach them lies. His promise to “stop the rising national debt” sounds as if he plans to default on the roughly $10 trillion that GOP presidents George W. Bush and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ran up through lowered taxes for the wealthy and big business, wars to give them power, and give aways to friends. McCarthy promises to take money from the IRS so that the wealthy won’t need to worry about being audited and bring back jobs from China that the Democrats have started to return to the U.S. “We will use … the power of the subpoena to get the job done,” the same subpoena that he and three other GOP members of Congress ignored.

How long McCarthy will last, no one knows. Because of his concessions, one member of the House can move to oust McCarthy if he displeases them. That situation led to the resignation of John Boehner as Speaker in 2015 and which former speaker Paul D. Ryan’s team compared to a “weapon pointed” at the speaker “all the time.”

After McCarthy made his walk of shame to beg Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for his vote, Joanne Freeman, professor of history and American studies at Yale, wrote about the difference between the 21st-century need for 15 ballots to elect McCarthy as compared to earlier struggles. The last time the decision required at least 15 ballots was before the Civil War when members of the House were fighting about an issue, slavery, and not about who gets power—and McCarthy relinquished power to get the position. As Freeman wrote:

“Promises to support key bills or logrolling mean nothing in a party that has very little real planned legislation and very few policies… It was a symptom of a dysfunctional party that is questionably anchored in a democratic politics, and a glaringly obvious sign of things to come.”

Freeman described the difference of opinion as “the suption of the Republican Party, the ultimate outcome of Republicans’ continuing failure to stand up to the extremism in their ranks” and endorsing it by remaining silent.

In the tenth round of voting, George Santos (R-NY) was photographed flashing the white power gesture with his vote. The image symbolizes “W” and “P” for white power. McCarthy has promised to almost eradicate the ethics committee for the House, meaning that Santos’ problem will not suffer any repercussions. Even if he is charged for campaign fraud, he can stay in Congress while under indictment as other GOP congressional members have. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Chris Collins (R-NY) were reelected a few years ago after charged with felonies. (A few more Santos lies. I had missed the ones about his having a brain tumor and having employees killed in the Pulse Club shooting.)

While House Republicans are glorying in investigating everyone they don’t like, President Joe Biden visited the southern border in El Paso, a city inundated by migrants. Both political parties have attacked Biden for his new enforcement plan, Democrats claiming it was a “humanitarian disgrace” and Republicans complaining his delay in going to a “wide open” border from the record-breaking number of migrants from Central and South America.  Almost one million immigrants became U.S. citizens in 2022 after the pandemic. After El Paso, Biden went to Mexico City for a North American leaders summit on Monday and Tuesday with leaders from Mexico and Canada who will talk about immigration in their discussions.

This past week, Biden changed policies to contain illegal border crossings that turn away tens of thousands of migrants at the border but allow 30,000 migrants to enter the U.S. monthly from Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Venezuela if they arrive by plane, have a sponsor, and pass background checks. Migrants who do not seek asylum first in a country on their route to the U.S. will be turned away. They must complete a form on a phone app to go to a port of entry at a pre-scheduled date and time. According to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the purpose is to “incentivize a safe and orderly way and cut out the smuggling organizations.” Immigrant advocate groups accused Biden of copying DDT’s measures.

Other news:

Two days after McCarthy became the Speaker and after the second anniversary of the GOP insurrection at the Capitol to block the legal election of Joe Biden as president, the followers of the “Trump of South America,” Jair Bolsonaro, used the claim that October’s Brazilian election was stolen when they attacked the presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, inaugurated on January 1, 2023, earlier appeared to escape any insurrection, but the attempted coup came when he traveled 500 miles away to visit flood victims. Biden’s administration denounced the attack, but GOP legislative leaders remain silent. DDT and other authoritarian leaders had supported Bolsonaro before the election, and DDT’s allies had spread lies about Brazil’s “rigged elections.”

While he stayed in Florida, Bolsonaro remained quiet until several hours after the insurrection until police regained control of the attacked buildings and Lula returned to tour the Supreme Court building. At least 400 people were arrested within hours, and the governor of Brasilia, Brazil’s capital, was removed from his position for 90 days for being “painfully silent” and not stopping the riot. He had left the country to avoid taking part in the inauguration.

Last week, Russia promised a 36-hour ceasefire this weekend to commemorate the Orthodox Christmas. Yet Russians kept firing on eastern Ukraine and killing people.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for South Carolina ordered Congressional District #1 be redrawn because it discriminates against Black voters. According to the judges, over 30,000 Blacks were removed from their home district when Charleston County was racially gerrymandered. The judges unanimously ruled that “state legislators … may not use race as a predominant factor” to design a legislative district. They also found “discriminatory intent in drawing the map,” according to the NAACP. Recently, federal courts have struck down congressional maps in Alabama and Louisiana for racial gerrymandering although the Supreme Court has blocked the rulings.

Data shows 2022 to be the deadliest year on record for people with police encounters in the U.S. with at least 1,176 people killed by police officers last year—on average over three people each day. That figure could be double because half the killings by law enforcement are unreported. In about one-third of he cases, the victim was fleeing the police before they were killed, and only 31 percent of police killings occurred after an alleged violent crime; 46 percent did not involve people accused of violence. Nine percent took place during mental health or welfare checks, 8 percent involved traffic violations, 18 percent involved allegations of nonviolent offenses, and 11 percent involved no alleged offense. Blacks accounted for 24 percent of people killed by police last year although they comprise only 13 percent of the population.

A second Texas Ranger has been fired for not performing his duty during the mass shooting at the Uvalde elementary school.

New Jersey became the first state to mandate K-12 students learn information literacy to help students “weigh the flood of news, opinion, and social media they are exposed to both online and off.” The education will not declare ideas are true or false; it helps them “to research, evaluate, and understand” information. The curriculum includes ways information is produced and spread on the internet; difference among facts, points of view, and opinions; critical thinking skills; and the ethics of creating and sharing information both online and in print. In signing the bill, Gov. Phil Murphy stated:

“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse. It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”

A six-year-old student in Newport News (VA) deliberately shot his 25-year-old teacher in the abdomen during an “altercation.” Her condition is improving but still classified as serious, and the boy was arrested. The school district has had three instances of gun violence on district property in 17 months, one of them a fatal shooting. All schools in the district have metal detectors, but they are used only in cases of specific threats.

A question is when the six-year-olds in the House will start shooting other congressional members.

January 4, 2023

House Speaker Elections, More News

Members of both political parties claim that the GOP is “broken,” but other frustrated Republicans declare that the GOP is in a state of “self-immolation.” In the fourth vote to become Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received one fewer vote when newly elected Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted present after supporting McCarthy in the first three votes. The 20 votes for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the third vote all moved to Byron Donalds, 44, a Black Republican who formerly represented a Florida district. Two more votes followed exactly the same pattern before the House adjourned. It planned to continue at 8:00 pm on January 4, but a raucous vote postponed the next vote to noon (EST) on January 5. 

Unable to control his own caucus, McCarthy went to Democrats, asking them to support a “consensus candidate” for Speaker or not vote so that he can reach a lower threshold of required votes that would make him Speaker. By the fourth vote, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries (NY) received 11 votes more than McCarthy. McCarthy dissenters such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) are also asking Democrats to help them. The 20 representatives voting against McCarthy are all DDT-supporters, and 18 of them deny the 2020 presidential election was legal.

Ginni Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court justice, has dived into the fray by joining DDT’s former attorney Cleta Mitchell and another two dozen far-right members in a joint letter from the Conservative Action Project to attack McCarthy’s attempts to become Speaker. Other signers of the letter are Kenneth Blackwell of the Family Research Council listed as a SPLC hate group, and David Bossie, head of conservative Citizens United winning the Supreme Court case releasing huge amounts of dark money into U.S. politics. 

A new question about the newly elected GOP representative from New York, George Santos, is whether he meets the requirement of his new office—whether he has been a U.S. citizen for seven years. He claims he was born in Queens, but no one has verified the information. And no one in the House is taking responsibility to do so.

On his website, Santos also lied about being sworn in on January 3, 2023; no House member can be sworn in for the 118th Congress without a Speaker—who hasn’t been elected yet. One response to Santos was that he was “sworn-ish,” ridiculing him for his declaration that he is Catholic but “Jew-ish” after he was caught in the lie of being Jewish. Incoming freshmen members—Robert Garcia (D-CA), Michael Lawler (R-NY), and Yadira Caraveo (D-CO)—made the same mistake.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) changed from yesterday’s tepid attitude toward McCarthy to repeating his racist diatribe against his former Secretary of Transportation to support the Speaker candidate.

“If Republicans are going to fight, we ought to be fighting Mitch McConnell and his domineering, China loving BOSS, I mean wife, Coco Chow.”

In addition, DDT returned to his baseless attacks on election worker Ruby Freeman after trying to destroy her two years ago. In a temp job, Freeman counted votes in Georgia, and DDT claimed she and her daughter Shaye Moss were personally responsible for election fraud. A retiree, Freeman was forced to leave her home, close her small boutique business, and move to an undisclosed location. DDT’s continuing lies will likely lead to a renewal of threats, harassment, and possibly violence from his followers. Already suing a far-right conspiracy website, Rudy Giuliani, and far-right media outlet One America News Network (OANN), Freeman and Moss are within their rights to sue DDT.

Donald Trump Jr. is now hawking bibles on social media: for only $69.99 a person can get “We the People,” the King James version with copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Pledge of Allegiance. The grifting group has displayed its ignorance: the “Bill of Rights” are the first ten amendments of the constitution, making a separate document redundant.

In a victory for women, the DOJ stated that federal law legally permits mail delivery of so-called abortion pills to all states because the sender doesn’t know if the medication will be illegally used. Some states had attempted to ban or restrict the mailings. Both mifepristone and misoprostol are used for managing miscarriages or treating gastric ulcers. Federal law supersedes state laws, and the postal service cannot inspect packages possibly containing prescription drugs.

In a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wichita (KS), patients can obtain abortion pill prescriptions from out-of-state doctors through telehealth. This opportunity comes from a court ruling blocking the state law banning doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication remotely. Patients much visit the clinic in-person for an evaluation, education, and state-mandated counseling from local clinicians before their meeting with an offsite doctor.

As people refuse to wear masks and follow other guidelines to prevent transmitting Covid, the Omicron strain XBB.1.5, becoming the most dominant strain in the U.S. in a few weeks, will drive new cases and not be blocked by Covid boosters. Recently, the sub-variant has gone from 4 percent of the cases to 40 percent; about 75 percent of new cases in the Northeast come from the subvariant. 

Russian files from after its invasion of Ukraine reveal disinformation about U.S.-funded bioweapons, accusing Ukrainian labs of spreading Covid through experimenting with bat coronaviruses. Soon after the accusation, China distributed the biolabs conspiracy theory. Media narratives from Russia and China have been remarkably similar since the invasion, according to hacked emails showing that the countries pledged to join forces in media content and held annual media cooperation meetings since 2008, aimed largely at domestic audiences.

Two days ago, the Buffalo Bills football team stopped play with the Cincinnati Bengals after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest after he tackled a receiver. By January 4, he shows signs of improvement after a blow to his chest may have created heart arrhythmia. Fox host Tucker Carlson, however, attributes Hamlin’s health problems to the Covid vaccination, despite Carlson’s ignorance about Hamlin’s vaccine status. Carlson said, “We don’t know whether he got the shot” but still spread misinformation about the possibility that Hamlin could have received one. Millions of right-wing media spreading misinformation have no knowledge about the vaccine and the cause of Hamlin’s collapse; Carlson calls medical experts “witch doctors.”

Myocarditis, heart inflammation, is an extremely rare side effect of the Covid vaccine: only 617 people experienced the disorder out of 43 million people after they were vaccinated, and the disorder predates the Covid pandemic.The risk of heart inflammation and other cardiac problems is far higher from Covid than from the vaccine. The risk for “commotio cordis,” blunt force trauma to the chest and subsequent sudden cardiac arrest and death, is more common among athletes.

Before DDT left office, he pardoned Jesse Benson, a top aide to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Paul (R-TX), for campaign finance violations. Benson has now been convicted of funneling Russian money to DDT’s 2016 campaign.

According to DDT’s deputy press secretary Judd Deere, DDT didn’t know his schedule was public until a few weeks before he left the White House. In late December 2020, DDT learned his schedule was released to the public and then tried to change the way it was written, making it less specific and presented in “boilerplate” language. For example, the schedule would be that DDT would “work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “make many calls and have many meetings.” No specific times, just generalities. Five hours of his morning would be “executive time” but really watching TV, reading newspapers, and phoning aides, congressional members, friends, administration officials, and informal advisers.  

Elon Musk destroyed over half the value of Twitter in one month. At the end of October, the quarterly holdings report valued Twitter at $19.66; it dropped to $8,626,218 by the end of November. To cut costs, Musk canceled janitorial services this month at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, and Columbia Property Trust sued the company for not paying rent at these headquarters. Supposedly relying on polling, Musk said he would resign as CEO if the majority of respondents wanted him to do so. They did, and he resigned. But he still owns the company.

Researchers have linked the climate crisis with extreme weather patterns to gun violence because of higher-than-average temperatures. Seven percent of shootings in 100 U.S. cities between 2015 and 2020 occurred in unseasonable heat. The Northeast and Midwest had the greatest increases in gun violence on unseasonably hot days. The stress from heat may make people more aggressive. Another link exists between extreme weather and domestic violence, according to over 40 studies. Economic stresses from flooding, drought, and extreme heat in Kenya were connected to a 60-percent rise in domestic violence.

 A bill permitting the FCC to regulate the price of phone calls from prison is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature. A 15-minute phone call from jail now costs $3 not including other charges for setting up and funding the prepaid phone accounts for making calls. Costs vary by state, but phone providers have given kickbacks to prisons and local governments in a $1.4 billion industry.

January 2, 2023

Politics in 2023

Ukraine started 2023 by shooting down 45 Iranian-made Sahed drones fired by Russia and attacked the occupied Donetsk region, hitting a building in Makiivka where Russian ammunition was stored. Foreign conflicts will form challenges as autocrats try to destroy democracies: China’s military drills around Taiwan, Iran’s support of Russia, North Korea’s missiles, the Taliban’s draconian rule in Afghanistan, gang takeover in Haiti, and ISIS franchises spreading throughout Africa. About half the world’s democracies are in decline, and societies growing polarized don’t trust elections.

While the U.S. worries about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons, his invasion strengthened NATO, an alliance of 30 nations. In Iran, young women, even teenagers, have mobilized protests for a 22-year-old woman dead because she didn’t cover her hair, the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is old and sick.

In the U.S. the GOP, with a weak majority of five in the House but still not controlling the Senate, is highly polarized between the different factions from the ultra-conservative QAnon believers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to the bipartisan group with Democrats. The leadership’s agenda, as displayed by the GOP majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) pretends to help “hardworking families” but only blocks abortion, release of gas from emergency reserves, and immigration. Their obsessions focus on Hunter Biden’s laptop, a replace for Hillary Clinton’s emails which went nowhere, and impeaching any Democrats who offended any Republicans.  

In wooing voters for the Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has made more promises such as removing metal checks to enter the chamber, allowing guns to be smuggled inside, and create select committees on a wide number of subjects from the source of Covid to “the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Covid topics also include “the impact of school closures on American children” and the development of vaccines and corresponding federal mandates. House Republicans want to remove the IRS of additional sources provided by Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, providing safety for the wealthy to not be audited for tax fraud. Other goals are legislation to zero out a government official’s salary, cut specific government programs, and fire specific federal employees.

On Day One, the Republicans plan to remove the right for congressional staffers to unionize. New House leaders have ignored the Congressional Accountability Act requiring legislation to remove implemented rights. Another GOP aim is to gut the independent, nonpartisan House ethics office established 15 years ago to review misconduct allegations against chamber members and their staffers. Representatives benefitting from this action include McCarthy, Jim Jordan (OH), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (TX) who ignored subpoenas from the House January 6 investigative committee.

Newly-elected New York representative George Santos, who already expanded the party’s scandals, could benefit most from the loss of the ethics committee. Within the past weeks, Santos’ news leaking daily shows that almost everything he ran on was a lie—his schooling, work history, religion, mother’s death, etc. Brazilian authorities may charge him for using a stolen checkbook and false name to make purchases in the country, and the sources of his finances are being investigated. Santos also faces investigations from federal prosecutors in New York, New York’s AG’s office, the Nassau County DA’s office, and the Queens DA office. Several Santos’ campaign disbursements were for $199.99, a penny under the requirement for receipts.

Santos’ problems might have been kept under wraps if the current time had distracting news, as happened before the election. Now, the media wants to know how his income changed from $55,000 in 2020 to $1 million to $5 million in 2022 as reported by his campaign filings. Another mystery is where he got the $700,000 he lent his campaign. His almost $100,000 expenditures for campaigning in his urban district of 254.8 square miles also raised questions. Even Santos’ ex-boyfriend said that the elected representative is lying and that the boyfriend had to pay Santos’ bills. Santos never went to work, according to the boyfriend.

GOP House members are staying silent because Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) badly needs Santos’ vote for his losing campaign to become Speaker of the House. (The election is on January 3, and the House cannot operate until a Speaker is elected.) Santos also represents a swing district in a blue state where a reelection could change the Republicans’ majority to four in the House. The Republicans say that Santos deserves a “second chance.” This philosophy means that the GOP will support any potentially criminal or morally decrepit representative to retain control.

More polarity between GOP factions came from anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for supporting the $1.7 trillion spending package instead of closing down the government or blocking a vote on the budget until 2023. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blames McConnell for the GOP failure in the 2022 midterms because of McConnell’s “terrible” record. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) also condemns McCarthy to avoid accepting blame for the poor quality of candidates DDT selected.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel may not be back for a fourth term after the failures of the past three electoral terms. Election conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell wants the job and said he is calling all 168 RNC committee members. He said he is investigating how Ron DeSantis won Dade County in Florida “because it’s a deviation.” Lindell said. He blames all the problems on the voting machines. “They gotta go,” he said.

Issues for 2023:

Selection and Retention of House Speaker: This is a huge problem with the slim majority of five Republicans. More later.

Control of the House GOP, Extremes or Moderates: The far-right Freedom Caucus has 30-40 members; moderate Republican Governance Group, over 40 members; and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, about 100 members. The remaining 100+ members are in the more moderate New Democrat Coalition and “centrist” leaning right Blue Dog Coalition, and dozens are in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus with equal numbers from each political party.

Raising the Debt Limit: After increasing the debt limit over 100 times, the House conservatives are threatening to refuse this year to blame the Democrats’ spending, despite the $7.8 trillion that DDT added to the debt. Some Republicans want to reduce “entitlement” (Social Security and Medicare funding among others) in exchange for the debt ceiling increase.

Accomplishments in Divided Government: Must pass legislation—the coming year’s annual appropriations, defense authorization, Farm Bill, and Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization—will get through, hopefully without a government shutdown. A fix to a possible recession could be addition to the Child Tax Credit in exchange for business tax breaks giving companies more tax breaks.

A Shift of Leadership at the Federal Reserve: Not likely. Jerome Powell is determined to drop inflation to two percent although some believe he’s using the wrong process to do it.

Biden’s Run for Reelection: His second-year successes, including the lack of Republicans elected during the 2022 midterms for both state and national offices, may calm Democrats. No one hates Biden except for rabid Republicans who hate all Democrats, unlike the response to DDT, another potential president candidate in 2024. Even if DDT loses the primary, he’s still regarded as the GOP leader.

Ron DeSantis’ Run for Election: Every vile action the Florida governor has taken as pointed toward a DDT-esque push toward candidacy and desire to lead the MAGAs. DDT has threatened to leave the GOP if it doesn’t choose him for the presidential candidate.

DDT’s Possible Indictment: If the DOJ’s investigator, Jack Smith, comes through as special counsel probing DDT’s part in theft of classified documents and the January 6 insurrection, a prosecution may throw the 2024 elections in extreme flux. Most congressional Republicans have publicly defended DDT, creating problems for non-DDT candidates and disturbing the possibility of moderate Republicans to run for congressional positions. This led to a GOP majority of only five House members after the 2022 elections instead of the customary practice of the president’s opposing party adding tens of additional members from midterms. DDT also faces a criminal investigation in Georgia which could present the biggest charges after he tried to overturn the state’s election in 2020.

Judicial Response to Biden’s Administrative Agenda: The power of businesses and the number of DDT/GOP judges may block control on tech mergers and acquisitions, surveillance and data security, and classification of workers as employees instead of independent contractors.

The U.S.-China Relationship: Republicans will focus on China more than Ukraine with their desire to opposed authoritarianism in other countries, especially China. Biden has already started export controls of advanced computing chips and semiconductors, and both parties want him to expand the export control list as well as screening China’s outbound investments, preventing China from access to U.S. user data from TikTok, and changing DDT’s tariffs on China. The less conservative goal is commercial ties with China in industries not posing concerns to national security.

After the GOP turned two governors over to the Democrats in 2022, three Southern states will elect governors in 2023: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Two are Democrats, and Mississippi’s Tate Reeves is a Republican. That party is a shoe-in for Mississippi’s governor. Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards is term-limited, and Republicans are lining up to take the position. Andy Beshear (Kentucky), who has high support, will likely run again.

Public knowledge of DDT’s tax returns may increase his liability, especially after he has shown himself to not be successful in business endeavors despite his claims to the contrary. The documents show his heavy losses except for his inherited assets and his fraudulent endeavors. He paid little in taxes, didn’t donate his salary in 2020 as he promised, and brought in $78 million of revenue from 16 foreign countries including $6.5 million from China. DDT paid more in foreign taxes than in the U.S. but told moderator Chris Wallace during the first 2020 presidential campaign that he paid millions of dollars during his first term. (The exchange is here.) With only one person beginning an audit of DDT’s taxes in 2019, violating the U.S. mandate that a president’s taxes be audited every year, his returns show the inequity of the U.S. tax code.   

And the direction of the Supreme Court may create chaos. But that’s a very long story. Meanwhile, there is room for optimism in 2023 unless the Republicans climb out of chaos, which is unlikely because they are so full of hate that they could destroy themselves.

January 1, 2023

2022 – A Look at Last Year

Politics: To get elected, Republicans have blamed President Joe Biden and the Democrats for the higher inflation during the past year. A new paper by Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and Ira Regmi, however, explains that the problem is insufficient supply shortages from “supply side disruptions, largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic … and disruptions to energy and food markets originating from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. … [It] is not the result of significant excesses of aggregate demand such as might have arisen from excessive U.S. pandemic spending.” The wealthy may be responsible for “industry-specific problems” because they prefer a weaker institution instead of being challenged in a stronger institution to increase their assets. The inflation within the car industry comes from the lack of microchips caused by car manufacturers’ cancelation of these orders at the beginning of the pandemic.

If the U.S. income distribution remained the same as in 1975, the bottom 90 percent would have a cumulative income of $50 trillion more. Yet companies used inflation as an excuse to increase prices more rapidly than costs.

Firearms were the number one cause of death for U.S. children in 2020, higher than vehicle deaths and other injuries. Between 2013 and 2020, the number of children’s firearm-caused deaths rose 81 percent, with a 31-percent increase from 2019 to 2020. The U.S. is unique among its peers in the number of these deaths; no other similar large or wealthy country shows firearm deaths in the top four causes of children’s mortality.

Many of these deaths occurred while children were in school. The K-12 School Shooting Database reported on-campus shootings “pretty much every single school day.” The year 2022 broke the record for most school shootings during over 40 years with 2022 one of the most violent years for youth ages 12-17. They increased 163 percent since 2020 and 1,900 percent since 2010, most of them this year by student shooters ages 10-18 years old who went to school armed.

Despite political divisiveness, last year was a good year for democracy:

The House January 6 investigative committee completed ten years and an extensive report on the attempts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to overturn the 2020 presidential election with no evidence of widespread wrongdoing;

Most states, like Arizona and Georgia, rejected extremist candidates although some of them are still suing to get an office to which they weren’t elected.

Congress revised the Electoral Count Act to keep a vice-president from turning an election over to the loser and approved the chips act for huge investments blocking China from controlling the semiconductor industry, a modest gun safety bill for the first time in almost 30 years, marriage equality, the first Black female Supreme Court justice, clean energy in the Inflation Reduction Act, and job-creating investments in an omnibus budget bill effective until September 30, 2023;

Biden manifested success when he mobilized a coalition and kept the economy on an historic run. He created over 10.5 million jobs since he took office, funded the hiring of teachers, increased the ability of people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, controlled drug prices for Medicare users, and gave debt assistance for student loans.

The Supreme Court decision overturning abortion rights in Roe v. Wade raised a strong backlash;

Bipartisan support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will help the country continue its brave fight against the Russian oppressive invasion on February 24, 2022; and

Authoritarian Jair Bolsonaro lost the Brazilian election, although he followed DDT in claiming he won, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, was inaugurated on January 1, 2023. (Bolsonaro refused to follow tradition by passing the presidential sash to Lula, so the representative of “the Brazilian people,” 33-year-old garbage collector Aline Sousa did the honors.)

Climate: Devasting flooding, storms, heat waves, and droughts with 15 disasters by October costing the U.S. over $1 billion in damage each, far above the average. The 233 reported tornadoes in March created a new record. During five weeks of summer, five 1,000-year rainfall events occurred, and severe flooding in Mississippi knocked out the troubled water supply for weeks in the state’s capital, Jackson. Montana’s historic flood from heavy rain and melting snow forced the evacuation of large parts of Yellowstone National Park. Hurricane Ian, largely in Florida, is the most expensive in U.S. history, and a typhoon pounded 1,000 miles of Alaska coast. Heat waves set temperature records, and wildfires were worse that at least 1,200 years in Arizona and New Mexico. The drought dropped the Mississippi River water level near Memphis so low that barges required additional dredging and upstream water releases, snarling grain shipping during harvest. Tighter water use restrictions of Colorado River water caused dangerously low levels in major reservoirs. Other continents faced the same problems which will only worsen as global warming fuels changes in global winds and jet streams.

DDT’s appointment for USPS Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, had refused to purchase electric delivery vehicles, but under Biden the agency purchased at least 66,000 of them, more than half the 106,000 vehicles to be acquired by 2028, replacing the fleet of 220,000 vehicles.

Media: Networks are shifting their focus: Rupert Murdoch, owner of an international empire, is distancing himself from DDT which bodes poorly for DDT’s hoped-for 2024 presidential election. On the other hand, CNN has moved from is middle-of-the-road to progressive approach into a conservative philosophy after its sale to TimeWarner by AT&T and Chris Licht’s replacement of Jeff Zucker. Licht follows John Malone, a board member of CNN’s parent company Discovery, is leading the movement to conservative support because of his support for DDT. CNN’s dip in ratings leads those for cable networks.

Foreign Policy: North Korea resumed its testing of nuclear bombs in 2022, proving the country has no intention of participating in denuclearization. Kim Jong-Un is violating the UN Security Council’s ban from nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, and China and Russia vetoed more UN sanctions on North Korea, splitting the council for the first time since 2006. North Korea will be siding with those two countries in trade and travel, moving from engagement with the U.S. and South Korea.

Words of the year reflect the culture of 2022:  

Dictionary.com – “woman”: Anti-trans attacks began the GOP’s call for defining woman, sometimes leading to vagueness, non-answers, and ignorance such as Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) answer of “someone with a uterus.” The announcement of the word stated that its “Word of the Year reflects how the intersection of gender, identity, and language dominates the current cultural conversation and shapes much of our work as a dictionary.” Definition: “an adult female person” with an explanation of the biology of female but continues that “the word belongs to each and every woman—however they define themselves.” The controversy started with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) asked then Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson for the definition of a woman.    The Cambridge English Dictionary expanded its definition of woman to include transwomen. 

Collins English Dictionary – “permacrisis”: “An extended period of instability and insecurity, esp. one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.”

Meriam-Webster – “gaslighting”: From the 1944 movie Gaslight, the term is defined as manipulating someone to make them question their own reality. It also means the presentation of a false narrative to another group of person so that they doubt their perceptions and become misled, disoriented or distressed, usually for the gaslighter’s own benefit. Typically the audience is vulnerable as from unequal power relationships of afraid of losses connected to challenging the false narrative.

Oxford English Dictionary – “goblin mode”: For the first time, this respected source permitted its users to vote on the “word of the year.” Viral on social media platforms such as TikTok, the term refers to the rejection of societal expectations and living without concern for self-image. Dictionary.com defines the term as “a slang term for a way of behaving that intentionally and shamelessly gives in to and indulges in base habits and activities without regard for adhering to social norms or expectations.” 

Tech Industry: Last year, shares lost $7.4 trillion, shown by the 30-percent decrease in the Nasdaq Composite, and Elon Musk lost $205 billion of his $269 billion assets when he purchased Twitter and began to make it a fascist social media platform. In the crypto currency world, Sam Bankman-Fried stole $8 billion from hjs FTX company, and DDT tried to make money from his NFT SUPERHERO trading cards. The entire industry is down 89 percent, and DDT’s digital cards, while make a profit the first few days, have seriously dropped.  

Supreme Court: For the past year, the high court has been marked by leaks—presumably by Justice Samuel Alito—and accusations of conflicts of interest, particularly from Justice Clarence Thomas as his wife, Ginni, has pushed for overturning the election and been active on conservative boards. Chief Justice John Roberts just released his annual report with no mention of these problems although he did complain about the possibility of violence toward the judicial branch because of protests following their overturning Roe v. Wade. He praised congressional action to shield personal information about judges and their families. No mention was made of the request for a Code of Judicial Conduct applicable only to the Supreme Court. Instead his introduction focused on the overturning of the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision by the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education that desegregated public schools—possibly his justification for overturning Roe.

Religion: With DDT’s judges and justices pushing religious practices on all the people in the U.S., the fundamentalist Christians have increased hatred and violence. The year 2022 might be considered the year that trans hate exploded. LGBTQ victories may have increased, but hundreds of hate trans bills proliferated across the U.S. along with anti-LGBTQ policies. Drag queens reading to children were attacked and threatened along with their advocates at over 120 events. Club Q in religious Colorado Springs saw five people dead and another 25 wounded after a mass shooting. A new culture espousing the false belief that trans people are dangerous to women’s athletics is another cry from people who want “traditional families.”

Texas AG Ken Paxton told the state’s Department of Public Safety to compile a list of people who legally changed their gender on driver’s licenses and other department records for the past two years. He ignored normal channels to get the information. Parents are fleeing to other states in fear for their families’ safety because of laws permitting child abuse investigations. Florida banning gender-affirming healthcare for patients under 18, and children’s hospitals have been threatened and attacked.

Investments: Losses in world stocks and crypto collapses took trillions of dollars from investors in 2022 with global equities down $14 trillion during the volatility of almost 300 interest rate hikes and three 10-percent rallies. U.S. Treasuries and German bonds, the basics for global borrowing markets and assets in troubled times, lost 17 percent and 25 percent respectively in dollar terms. In just January, ten-year Treasury yields jumped to 1.8 percent from less than 1.5 percent, knocking 5 percent off MSCI’s world stocks index with that yield at 3.8 percent by the end of the year, stocks down almost 20 percent, and oil 8 percent higher down from almost 80 percent last March. Natural gas is up almost 15 percent.

And much more: DDT is facing multiple court cases with existing and potential charges for his personal businesses and his professional life in the White House. 

Queen Elizabeth died, and her 15th prime minister, Liz Truss, lasted only 43 days before she was replaced. [The fight over managing Covid continues as anti-vaxxer Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, has become DDT’s leading competition for the next GOP presidential primary in 2024. And all this leaves out the problems among congressional Republicans who differ on leadership as well as sports and other culture.

 

The year 2022 was a combination of angst from the GOP and achievement from the Democrats led by Joe Biden.  

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