Nel's New Day

October 17, 2022

What Happens to Liz Truss?

By her 41st day of being the British prime minister, Liz Truss had fired the cabinet, rehired a new one, fired the Treasury chancellor she hired, seen her agenda destroyed, reversed her financial positions, dropped the UK pound to a value below that of a dollar, forced the Bank of England to solve her problems, and apparently lost her leadership. She watched as Jeremy Hunt, a political rival now the new finance minister with no Treasury experience, announced that the government would allow taxes to increase instead of being slashed. Truss had said the former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, her former friend and ally, was doing “an excellent job’” as chancellor and the pair were “in lockstep”—until they weren’t. Newspapers have been uniformly critical.

UK low-income households would have lost about £400 with her system of increasing benefits with earnings, a lower rate than inflation. The raise would be 5.5 percent instead of the inflation rate of 10 percent. Disposable income would have shrunk by about 7.7 percent, hurting businesses that will make less money. In-work households lost by £458, and the loss for couples with children was £640. For conservatives, welfare is an easy place to cut spending, but even Truss’ own party, the Tories, was upset by the plan. She had also considered increasing the age for state pensions and cutting housing benefits.

Other “slash and burn tactics” including dumping free childcare hours, putting housing on green belt land, abolishing corporation tax, and eliminating teacher training qualifications. Her remote learning would have allowed parents to pick the best teachers, amending the Equalities Act to protect white working-class boys, and returning the link between tax and household income to make a married woman’s income become part of her husband’s. Her expected deregulations covered deregulation in eight areas including planning, business regulation, childcare, immigration, agricultural productivity, and financial services.

Kwarteng’s unfunded tax cuts and extra borrowing leaves a shortage of £60 billion by 2026 and results in serious public services reductions and an annual growth of 0.8 percent during the next five years from a slowing global economy, Brexit issues, and Kwarteng’s £45 billion cost of Kwarteng’s mini-budget. He abruptly left the International Monetary Fund to fly back to London and be fired. Because of Truss’ positions, the IMF had dropped projection of this year’s UK growth from 3.6% to 0.3% in 2023. Markets are happier with the decision, but the question is who’s in charge of the government.

Another Truss rival, House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, was assigned to defend the PM’s fiscal U-turns in a parliament where both sides are calling for Truss to resign. She was forced to say that Truss had “urgent business” about Truss’ absence. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer summed it up: Truss is “in office but not in power.”

The joke from British tabloid Daily Star asks whether a head of iceberg lettuce or Truss will last longer; it’s livestreaming Truss’ photo with the unrefrigerated lettuce. (At least 96.8 percent voted thus far for the lettuce to last longer.) The conservative Sunday Times editorial called Hunt the “de factor prime minister.”

Elected by 160,000 dues-paying members of the Conservative Party, about 0.3 percent of the country’s population, Truss ran as an “iron lady” Margaret Thatcher look-alike. Her campaign promises have now been gutted. People struggling with 10-percent inflation didn’t approve of Truss’ tax cuts for the wealthy, and bond traders were alarmed by the amount of borrowing needed for the plans. Hunt announced “almost all the tax measures announced in the growth plan three weeks ago” would be scrapped. The shift stabilized the UK pound, increased the leading stock index, and dropped the cost of government borrowing although it remains higher than before Truss started her damage.

No general election has been set, but the Labour Party is 30 points ahead of the Conservatives. Jonathan Tonge, professor of politics at the University of Liverpool, said Truss’ survival as PM comes only from the Conservative Party’s inability to “agree on a replacement.” One wing wants former finance minister Rishi Sunak, Truss’ runner-up, but Boris Johnson loyalists see him as the leader of the revolt bringing down their PM hero. A PM is in trouble when a replacement awaits in the wings such as Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Truss’ economic program lasted only ten days because interest skyrocketed with no budget score. A conservative view that tax cuts boost the economy didn’t meet reality because lower-income people were responsible for hardships. British journalist Archie Bland wrote that Kwarteng “wanted to fundamentally reshape the British economy in a matter of weeks” and did—“currency fluctuations, mortgage deals withdrawn, £65 billion of emergency first aid for the bond market, and the prospect of deep spending cuts.

Aditya Chakrabortty explains the problems came from the influence of conservative as young people who don’t represent the county generate policies for the government. They also announce ideas to see if the public will tolerate them before the government tackles them. Truss and Kwarteng are connected to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), formerly a fringe group and funded by dark money including tobacco, oil, alcohol, and gambling.  

The UK’s massive train strikes would add to the disaster, threatening the supply chain. During her campaign, Truss had promised to block trade unions. The UK also faces strikes across UK industries—transport, trash collection, lawyers, etc.—which all relate to pay and great concern about the British economy.

Financial problems were only part of Truss’ differences of opinion. She promised to suspend the U.K.’s “green levy,” in which 8 percent of energy bills fund green energy project that curb the cost of energy. She lifted a 2019 moratorium on fracking, a move supported by only 27 percent of Britain, and announced new North Sea oil and gas licenses. Two of her cabinet picks are outspoken climate change skeptics. Truss’ environment secretary opposes more solar farms in the countryside and told King Charles III, an advocate of delaying climate change, to cancel his plans for attending the COP27 conference about the economics of clean energy in Egypt this November.

To win her election, Truss curried favor with a very narrow and very conservative constituency. A survey had found that the Conservative Party overwhelmingly preferred the previous PM Boris Johnson to both Truss and her opponent. Her win may have come from a scandal regarding Sunak’s taxes. Only 14 percent of the party members said Truss would be better than Johnson, and one-fourth said she would be worse. Uncharismatic and lacking communication skills, she couldn’t even identify two Russia regions mentioned by her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

UK didn’t hold a general election because The Conservative Party had a majority in the House of Commons, the democratically-elected lower house of the UK’s parliament. The next general election will be no later than January 24, 2024. When she took over, she said she was looking forward to “victory” in 2024, but that was six weeks ago.

The Daily Mail reported that lawmakers will try to oust Truss this week despite the warning of a general election. Over 100 Conservative Party MPs are prepared to submit letters of no confidence in Truss to Graham Brady, the head of the Conservative Party’s committee which organizes the leadership contest. If she doesn’t resign, the MPs urge Brady to change the political party rules to allow an immediate vote of confidence in her leadership. Grady argued that Truss deserves the opportunity to set ou9t economic strategy in a budget on October 31.

Truss is the fourth PM since change-happy Brits voted for the ill-fated Brexit, the UK separation from the European Union. Stryker McGuire wrote that former PM Tony Blair called it a “post-empire malaise”—the urge to “take back control” and run an empire. Within 24 hours of the June 23, 2016 vote, the “Brexit pound” fell from $1.50 to $1.33 of its dollar value and his the lowest-ever recorded level of $1.03 on September 26, 2022—thanks to Liz Truss. Being “liberated” never came to fruition: Britain’s borders stayed porous while the post-Brexit trade deals failed to overcome the loss of its largest trading partner, and the former administration didn’t come through with its wonderful deal.

Labor no longer freely moving between the UK and the continent “hollowed out the workforce.” The number of job vacancies in all businesses dropped by one-third this past quarter from before Brexit. Long-term productivity will slump by four percent, both exports and imports will be around 15 percent, newly signed trade deals with non-EU countries “will not have a material impact”, and the government’s new post-Brexit migration regime reducing net inward migration will worsen critical labor shortages.

The Conservative Party and the UK right-wing press are no longer concealing troubles: a “calamitous loss of international standing” and six years of “damage,” “policy confusion” and “ineptitude,” according to the Telegraph newspaper. The columnist added claims of Project Fear, a derogatory term for pre-Brexit warnings about economic harm and disruption, “have turned out to be overwhelmingly correct.” This month, a UK minister apologized to the EU for the UK handling of post-Brexit negotiations over Northern Ireland and said the UK needed to show more humility. Truss has been openly pro-Brexit, but future PMs may not follow her lead.

October 15, 2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Day 235

In breaking news about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, two volunteer soldiers from a former Soviet Union republic opened fire on other Russian troops at a military training ground for volunteers in the country’s Belgorod region. Eleven people died, and another 15 were wounded. The two shooters were killed.

Since the explosion on Kerch Bridge from Russia to Crimea, Kremlin accelerated its attacks across all Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin blames Ukraine for the explosion, perhaps caused by Russian intelligence. Suspects—five Russian citizens, two Ukrainians, and an Armenian national—were arrested by Russia. They loaded 22 tons of explosives into a truck and drove from Odesa to Russia through several other countries. Russian authorities partially reopened the roadway part of the bridge hours for only light traffic as well as the railway part of the bridge where oil tankers caught fire.

Strikes on the capital of Kyiv, eastern Lviv, northwestern Kharkiv, southern Odesa, and over a dozen other Ukrainian cities killed at least 19 people, injured another hundreds, and temporarily cut off power and water for millions. Ukrainian air defense system intercepted over half the rockets. Targets included a children’s playground, causing a huge crater;  a glass bridge, a tourist spot crossing the Dnipro River; museums; and the Philharmonic building were hit. The new leader for Russian forces in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, is known as “General Armageddon,” among other epithets, for his brutality and possibly war crimes first years ago in Syria. He has been suggested as a replacement for Putin in case of a coup.

Russian blames Ukraine for shelling an area within Russian territory at the border, but Ukraine blames stray Russian fire. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted that “something went wrong” with a Russian missile launched toward Kharkiv.

A Ukraine prosecutor is investigating Russian air strikes as “a classic act of terror” to “provoke a humanitarian catastrophe” and “intimidation tactics toward civilians.” Russia is also threatening to “not renew” its grain and fertilizer export deal unless its demands are met.  

Pushed by war hawk hardlines, Putin’s heavy use of air strikes indicates a failing ground strategy. Troops retreating on three separate fronts lack supplies, worse since heavy vehicles cannot crossing the Kerch Bridge for another nine months. Fear as Putin’s military strategy for the last century is caving to from poor fuel supplies, terrified conscripts, and lack of effective tactics. Russian conscripts must buy their own body armor, especially the modern 6B45 vest which is part of the Ratnik armor personal equipment program costing about $640 after prices soared.

Putin said he had found 222,000 reservist recruits, instead of the 300,000 he wanted, and announced the end of mobilization with the beginning of fall conscriptions. Moscow government officials are leaving in droves after the death of a colleague in Ukraine after Putin’s mobilization. Despite having no combat experience, Aleksey Martynov was conscripted on September 23, sent to the front within a few days, and killed on October 10. In “a mass exodus,” employees left—”IT people, advertisers, marketers, PR people, and ordinary civil servants.” Since the mobilization decree, multiple conscripted Russians mysteriously died before reaching the battlefield and others soon after being deployed in Ukraine. The deaths cause outrage on social media.

Germany has given Ukraine over 16 Biber bridge-layer tanks and ten pontoon bridge machines. Also promised are more Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers and MARS II multiple rocket launchers.

To avoid conscription, Russian men are buying false HIV and hepatitis diagnoses added to the Ministry of Health’s database. HIV costs $620; hepatitis runs for $820. The groups selling these certificates also offer transportation to border countries, job opportunities, and housing as well as offering forged government documents and currency exchanges—all payable in Bitcoin. Unfortunately, buyers cannot confirm if the offered services are genuine.

Instead of weakening Ukraine, Russia strikes confirmed world opinion against Russia, weakened the calls for peace talks, and strengthened declarations to supply more advanced weapons systems and air defenses to the invaded country, speeding up their deliveries. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution with 99 votes; it had only one abstention and no one opposed.

Eight countries, including Ukraine, joined the European Council’s decision on the eighth package of sanctions against Russia. These include oil price caps, new bans on imports and exports, and sanctions against people, legal entities and companies warring against Ukraine.

Strikes temporarily cut power went out in Ukraine, but the stations were built during the Soviet regime and designed to withstand a nuclear attack from the U.S. Now they protect against Russian attacks.

While Putin tries to reduce Ukraine to rubble, he wants help from Belarus and deployed troops near the Belarus-Ukraine border. Yet “elected” leader Aleksandr Lukashenko says he doesn’t want to get into war, and his opposition activists volunteer to fight for Ukraine where they have training with modern weapons and combat which could liberate Belarus. Lukashenk has few combat-ready troops and only Soviet-era hand-me-down equipment.

A Russian submarine off the Brittany (France) coast is being monitored by French, British, and Spanish warships. Two NGOs are also suing France’s TotalEnergies for “complicity in war crimes”; the company allegedly helped fuel Russian planes that bombed Ukraine. Russians control TotalEnergies.

Putin has said he doesn’t need to unleash more massive strikes across Ukraine. Analysts believe Russia could be running out of long-range precision weapons, forcing the military to resort to less-accurate missiles. The 84 missiles used in one day’s attack cost between $400 million and $700 million. Putin said he was willing to hold talks. Russia has been using more “kamikaze” drones, purchased from Iran, as a cheaper and more dispensable alternative, although Iran denies it provides any weapons to Russia. If the military had short pulses of long-range missile fire, they would probably have used them, not concerned about civilian casualties.

To make Russian positions on the west side of the Dnipro River unsustainable, Ukrainian troops have attacked bridges, ferries, and pontoons in recent weeks. In the south, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called for the demilitarization of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after Ukrainian engineers twice restored back-up power following last week’s Russian shelling.

Ukraine claims it recaptured over155 miles in the annexed southern Kherson region in less than a week. Russians told civilians to evacuate, indicating Putin thinks he’s losing the region. Last month, Ukraine recaptured over 600 settlements from Russia, including 75 settlements in Kherson along with 502 settlements in the Kharkiv area, 43 settlements in the Donetsk region, and seven in the Luhansk region.

After the invasion, Ukraine lost cellular phone and internet networks, and Elon Musk’s spacecraft engineering firm donated about 20,000 Starlink satellite units to Ukraine. Musk had said that the Pentagon must start paying, but a a new tweet states he changed his mind and will continue the funding. Paying $80 million thus far, Space X estimated the U.S. would have to pay over $120 million for the rest of the year and about $400 million for the next year. The terminals are vital in keeping Ukraine’s military online.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller reported that hundreds of kilometers of the damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines might need replacement. With a series of bullet points, they have filled with water. The process could last require at least a year.  

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called on Hungary and Turkey, the only holdouts of NATO’s 30 member countries, to ratify Finland and Sweden’s memberships. Slovakia was the latest NATO ally to sign ratification documents on Sept. 27.

The UN overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s “attempted illegal annexation” of the four Ukrainian regions and demanded that the Kremlin reverse course. In a vote, 143 states, three-fourths of the 193-member general assembly, supported the resolution. Belarus, Nicaragua, North Korea, and Syria joined Russia to vote against the resolution, and 35 countries abstained including some of Putin’s quasi-supporters China, India, Pakistan, and South Africa. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said:  

“Today it is Russia invading Ukraine. But tomorrow it could be another nation whose territory is violated. It could be you. You could be next. What would you expect from this chamber?”

The resolution demands that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.” It also supports “the de-escalation of the current situation and a peaceful resolution of the conflict through political dialogue, negotiation, mediation and other peaceful means” that respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders.

International Monetary Fund member countries issued a near-unanimous call for Russia to end its war in Ukraine calling the conflict the single biggest factor fueling inflation and slowing the global economy. Only Russia blocked consensus.

In retaliation for U.S. assistance to Ukraine, Russian hackers crashed 14 U.S. airport websites in a coordinated cyberattack. All exhibited “denial to service” to those who wanted to access them. In this attack, air traffic control, internal airline communications and coordination, and transportation security were not targeted. The pro-Russian hacker group “Killnet” took credit.

Russian propaganda films are warning people attempting to seek refuge in the U.S. about the dangers of LGBTQ people, Blacks, and vegetarians.

In ridiculing Russia’s sham vote to annex Ukrainian regions, Poland held a mock referendum to annex Russia’s embassy in Warsaw. Eight days ago, 97.9 percent of an online vote approved the Czech Republic referendum to annex the Russian city of Kaliningrad, changing its name to Královec. Originally the German city of Königsberg, Kaliningrad, not physically connected to Russia, was given to the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. It is Russia’s only ice-free port on the Baltic Sea.

October 5, 2022

Herschel Walker Hits the Bottom of DDT’s Candidates

The classic candidate of the week is Georgia’s U.S. Senate GOP candidate, Herschel Walker. Inarticulate and ignorant, his biggest problem is his lying—and the inability to pull it off. The biggest one thus far is this October bombshell, trying to cover for urging his girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009 and then paying for it. That from the man who pretends to be completely “pro-life,” no exceptions for abortions even in the case of rape or incest. And the ex-girlfriend comes with receipts: the charge for the abortion, the check from Walker, and the sweet “Get Well” card that he sent her. Walker’s abortion for a girlfriend has been well-known for months in Georgia and among Republicans, but that could have been another abortion. His own team didn’t deny it. Everyone evidently hoped that nothing would appear about this scandal for another five weeks, after the Midterms.

After The Daily Beast released the story, Walker’s early insistence to sue the website for defamation ceased within a day because he would have to back up his denial in court or appear to be bluffing Court appearances would also mean depositionsmwhere he would be forced to tell the truth under oath. Instead, an adviser recommended he downplay the story. He hasn’t succeeded; it’s gone viral, including interviews with Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade on the Fox network.

Walker’s defiant denial caused the ex-girlfriend to tell media that she is also raising one of his children. She responded to his claim that he didn’t know who the woman is:

“Sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn’t shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn’t remember. But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too.”

She explained he isn’t the Christian he claims to be:

“I don’t think there’s anywhere in the Bible where it says ‘have four kids with four different women while you’re with another woman.’ Or where it praises not being a present parent. Or that an abortion is an OK thing to do when it’s not the right time for you, but a terrible thing for anyone else to do when you are running for Senate. He picks and chooses where it’s convenient for him to use that religious crutch.”

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) talked Walker into moving from Texas to Georgia so he would defeat incumbent Pastor Raphael Warnock, and then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fell into line behind DDT and Walker along with GOP donors and primary voters.

Walker now says that if people in Georgia don’t vote for him, they won’t “be redeemed.” About Warnock, Walker said, “He’s a minister and he doesn’t even believe in redemption.” Warnock is senior pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church until his assassination. Walker’s latest ad doesn’t deny the abortion story but claims he has “overcome” his mental illness thanks to God. Fox interviewed Newt Gingrich with the headline, “Warnock is running the most vicious and dishonest campaign in Georgia.”

A few of Walker’s scandals and personal flaws Christians must accept to be “redeemed,” in Walker’s definition:

His own campaign team calls him a pathological liar, spouting falsehoods “like he’s breathing.” Like his having served in law enforcement (he didn’t), he has great business experience (he doesn’t), and he gave money to charity (another he didn’t). In another lie, he said he graduated from the University of Georgia in the top 1 percent.     

Walker’s latest lie is that he oversaw “six hospitals around the United States.”

He even lies about his lies, saying he never said them.

His campaign also questions his mental fitness. His wife said Walker allegedly put a gun to her head, and he doesn’t deny it but says his violent behavior came from his mental illness.

Walker said he almost shot and killed another man out of road rage for “messing up my schedule” until he saw a bumper sticker stating, “Honk if you love Jesus.”

During the campaign, Walker had to admit he had three illegitimate children not previously revealed to the public. No one knows how many more he has, and he has no answer for accusations that he fathered children he doesn’t know. He laments about the huge “fatherless problem” in the Black community while saying he’s a good dad.

Although he has one son attracted to men, he wants to stop all same-gender marriages. Trans youth cannot get into heaven because Jesus won’t recognize them, according to Walker.

Walker makes multiple nonsensical statements—when his handlers allow him to speak publicly. Take for example, his complaint about $1.5 billion in the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act for forestry management, some of it likely to prevent wildfires: “Don’t we have enough trees around here?” That was before he lied about people making under $200,000 paying for the trees. Taxation in the IRA is only on income above $400,000. Even DDT announced the U.S. would join an international effort to plant and restore a trillion trees by 2050.

Asked about stopping mass shootings at schools, he replied, “You know, they talk about doing a disinformation, what about getting a department that could look at young men that’s looking at women that looking at social media.”

His solution for the closure of a large hospital in Atlanta? “So I think what people need to do first is talk to Wellstar, and see what the problem is, then try to solve that problem.”

Walker’s ignorance of science: When U.S. “good air … decides to float over to China,” it’s replaced by China’s “bad air [and] we got to clean that back up.” He also found a “dry mist” that “will kill any covid on your body.” And the existence of apes that have not turned into humans disproves Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

He also has trouble with events during his own time, referring to 9/11 on its 21st anniversary as “uh, on the war with a country that didn’t believe in us.” Fifteen of the 19 men who attacked were from Saudi Arabia.

Reportedly worth over $30 million, he’s made hundreds of thousands of dollars giving speeches while being a candidate, taking money even from non-profits like a Boys & Girls Club in Georgia. Hillary Clinton was lambasted for paid speeches when she was neither in office nor campaigning.

One truth: he was a star football player, but being senator may require other skills.

With half a million followers on Instagram, Walker’s son, Christian Walker, expressed his outrage: 

“Family values, people? He has four kids, four different women, wasn’t in the house raising one of them. I was silent after lie after lie after lie … We were told at the beginning of this he was going to get ahead of his past, hold himself accountable. That would have been fine, go ahead. He didn’t do any of that.”

In another posting, Christian wrote: 

“I know my mom and I would really appreciate if my father Herschel Walker stopped lying and making a mockery of us. You’re not a ‘family man’ when you left us to bang a bunch of women, threatened to kill us, and had us move over 6 times in 6 months running from your violence.”

Desperate to win Georgia, Republicans are attacking the media for smearing a GOP candidate, specifically Walker. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel accused the publicity as a distraction “from Warnock’s record of failure resulting in rising costs and out of control crime.” Other Republicans advised humility might be better, pushing the story that a celebrity doesn’t always “understand the microscope that accompanies the decision… They are going to try to say anything to rip you apart.” (In this case, that means the truth about the quality of the candidate, which McConnell has already suggested is not necessarily good.) American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp recommended that he say that candidates don’t think mistakes are anyone’s business, “tell them to flip off, and just stay on message.” Listening to Walker, however, his “message” comes out as gibberish.

The evangelical Christian perspective comes from Ralph Reed, the first executive director of the Christian Coalition during the early 1990s, when he said that the issue is “unlikely to resonate with voters in Georgia. It’s based on an anonymous allegation that is 13 years old.” He immediately attacked Warnock’s record and the senator’s votes with President Joe Biden—like helping people. Conservative columnist Matt Lewis wrote:

“Values don’t matter [to evangelicals]. Pay for abortions. It doesn’t matter what you do. Character doesn’t count. Family values are for suckers.”

It’s hard to believe that this revelation would discourage people from voting for Walker, but the polls have changed from extremely close to a 12-point difference among likely voters, 50 percent to 38 percent by Survey USA with most of the polling completed before the first story about the abortion broke. Men were fairly equally split, but women favored Warnock by a margin of 29 points.

Walker bears a strong similarity to DDT—lying, sex, ignorance, meaningless statements, and complete incompetence for a job in government. DDT’s choice for U.S. senator in Georgia still has time to sink farther before early voting begins on October 17.

Early voting starts in eight more states in the next: October 9 – Maine; October 10 – California; October 11 – Montana, Nebraska, and New Mexico; and October 12 – Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio.

October 2, 2022

New Supreme Court Term: Repeal the 20th Century (Part I)

The U.S. Supreme Court launches the 2022/23 year of conservative decisions this coming week, and scandals grow as more information comes out about both justices and their spouses. (Above: President Joe Biden and Vice-president Kamala Harris, center, with Supreme Court justices; below left: illustration by João Fazenda) )

The best known may be Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Thomas Justice, who still declares that the 2020 presidential election was overturned, even to the House January 6 investigative committee. With extensive work to overturn the elections through texting and other contacts with both federal and state officials and legislators, she has political connections with over half the anti-abortion organizations lobbying the justices and operates a consulting business including conservative activist groups with interest in Supreme Court decisions as clients. She hides names of clients and how much money she gets from them but maintains she never talks to her husband about the court while he votes in her favor.

More information came out this summer about the beer-swilling, Hillary Clinton-hating, sobbing caricature regarding the complete lack of vetting for the lifetime term to tell everyone in the U.S. how to behave. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was pushing his hand-picked agencies to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed and ignored 4,500 comments about him, many of them about his sexual assault, were sent into a tip line about him. None of them was investigated because DDT-appointed FBI director Chris Wray sent them to DDT and claimed that the FBI lacked authority to further investigate Kavanaugh. Yet Wray used “proof” that doesn’t clearly state any restrictions.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who earlier ruled a trucker driver must die because leaving his rig in the cold was illegal, was so eager to push “religious freedom” that he ruled for a praying football coach based on the lies that a lawyer told the high court. He also ignored testimony about the coach coercing players into joining the prayers. Gorsuch declared that prayer is protected by “free speech,” making it “doubly protected,” two clauses against one. He sees himself protecting Christians against a government “hostile” to religion.  

Justice Samuel Alito used religion to outlaw abortion using religious opposition to abortion by a 13th-century judge and a 17th-century Puritan judge who burned witches and supported marital rape. Alito calls secularism “secular orthodoxy” with anti-Catholic prejudice.

The background of Justice Amy Coney Barrett is steeped in the tiny, rigid Catholic group People of Praise rejecting homosexuality, practicing ecstatic Christian traditions like speaking in tongues and called a “covenant community.” She’s so secretive about her husband’s work that she redacted his business name in her most recent disclosures. In contrast, her husband prominently displays his wife’s name on the website of the boutique firm advertised as a “white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation [across] virtually every industry.” The justice objected to any guidelines for spouses because they wouldn’t “be very happy.”

Even the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, Jane Roberts, is active in the political world as a legal head-hunter at Macrae representing high-powered attorneys looking for jobs in wealthy firms. A former managing partner at a firm hiring her said the firm hoped for a benefit from employing her to share networks. Jane Roberts also represented top government officials at federal agencies with direct interests in court business.  

Justices have great latitude in what they must include on their disclosure forms, a way to conceal conflicts of interest, and some of them omit expensive dining and access to luxurious vacation homes. The religious organization Faith and Action bragged about using wealthy couples to “wine and dine” conservative Supremes, helping them to feel “more secure” in pushing a faith-based legal agenda. None of these expensive meals, club visits, and plush vacation properties appears on the justices’ disclosure forms. An excuse is the pitiful salaries for justices–$274,200 for associates and $286,700 for the chief—compared to millions for elite attorneys in private practices.

Despite multiple efforts, the only law regarding conflicts of interest for justices in the past decade has added the requirement for judges and justices to report stock trades on their disclosures. Previously, Roberts was upset about the problems in federal courts’ ethics practices after conflicts of financial interest in almost 700 instances over nine years and suggested more “rigorous” ethics training programs. Now he declares the high court hasn’t lost its legitimacy, it’s just that the public disagrees with what they’re doing.

Roberts spent part of the summer trying to convince people that he was part of—certainly not leading—a legitimate court, but the GOP Senate clarified that SCOTUS is a political group by ignoring President Obama’s nominee and pushing through DDT’s picks from the Federalist Society. The five justices follow GOP guidance; Roberts just trails along with them.

Justices greet the all-time low court’s ratings, according to conservative Gallup polling, with defiance. Only 40 percent approve of its job performance, down nine points from last year, with 58 percent disapproving while conservative justices say they should ignore any public opinion. Dropping 20 percent from two years ago, only 47 percent cite “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the government’s judicial branch—the lowest ever rating by six percent. Plus 42 percent find the court too conservative, up 22 points from 2016 before DDT and the GOP Senate added Barrett, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh.

Justice Elena Kagan tried to explain the problem with the high court:

“If, over time, the Court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that is a dangerous thing for democracy… The very worst moments have been times when judges have even essentially reflected one party’s or one ideology’s set of views in their legal decisions. The thing that builds up reservoirs of public confidence is the Court acting like a court and not acting like an extension of the political process.”

Alito, in essence, told her to shut up, saying that “implying that the Court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.”

After taking away women’s reproductive rights, the Supremes plan high-profile cases this year to turn the country into a far-right theocracy and remove democracy. They’ve already taken away women’s reproductive rights and maintain that Congress can’t make laws. Issues thus far this year:

Voting Rights: Using the earlier overturning of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, districts with predominantly Black voters are disappearing, and the Supremes will increase the trend by legalizing racial gerrymandering and doing away with Black legislators. Equally—or more—dangerous, a major case this year could turn over all election decisions to state legislatures, eliminating any involvement from judges, governors, state supreme courts, even voter initiatives. The court could permit legislators to give electoral votes to a candidate of a candidate who lost the state’s popular vote.

Clean Water/Environmental Protections: The Clean Water Act doesn’t define “waters of the United States” in prohibiting discharges of pollutants so the high court can permit polluting wetlands bordering a river or lake and connections between two bodies of water such as creeks and ditches. In a less conservative court, the last case on the subject, Rapanos v. United States (2006), had no majority and thus no decison.

Affirmative Action: Another two cases can forbid universities to completely consider race in student admissions, possibly even overturn race-based hiring initiatives at private companies. Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) ruled that universities can take limited account of race to block an inferior educational experience for all students, but the new Supremes love to overturn recent cases while looking to decisions from the 17th century.

Medicaid: With current law, the federal government funds much of poor people’s healthcare if states and health providers comply with patient protection guidelines. The lawsuit, which could erase these rules, is from a woman who wants a nursing home to give her husband, who has dementia, “powerful and unnecessary psychotropic medications for purposes of chemical restraint,” currently against the federal Medicaid law.

Cultural Genocide of Native Americans: In the past, the U.S. used the Constitution to “Christianize” supposed “heathens” and removed Native children from their homes to erase their cultural knowledge. To stop these practices, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in 1978 requires that children removed from their homes must be placed with an American Indian family, preferably with the child’s extended family or at least their own tribe. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs in three red states don’t want to comply with ICWA’s requirements. The current court sees established precedents as optional and sometimes a nuisance/ A ruling could upend relations between the government and federally recognized tribes.

Immigration: The Supremes wants to overturn federal law and remove control of immigration enforcement policies from the Department of Homeland Security after a conservative Texas judge said that would be okay. Even if the Supremes rule in favor of federal law, they have already taken the right from the DHS secretary and support a GOP excuse for impeaching Biden by accusing him of focusing on only migrants deemed a “threat to public safety.”

LGBTQ Rights: Religious conservatives also want to erase LGBTQ people. Two SCOTUS rulings favoring discrimination have been narrow, but the current court prefers a shotgun—or an AR-17—approach. The court returns to wedding cakes—specifically designing them. The question is whether the new court will rule that all “religious liberty” is good even if it broadly discriminates. Sensing a friendly high court, Melissa Klein and her husband are also asking the Supremes to take an Oregon case charging them a $135,000 fine for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple who had been together for ten years. Online funding brought them almost $500,000, and now they complain about being poor. The high court could also overturn the 2013 Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing marriage equality, and 35 states still have laws banning same-gender marriage. A May 2022 Gallup poll revealed that support for same-sex marriage is at 71% – an all-time high.

And the Supremes have just started; their docket has more room. They also might take a few minutes here and there to make a ruling in a shadow docket, not bothering with any arguments or testimony. 

More in Part II.

September 22, 2022

More Fraud – September 22, 2022

Special master Raymond Dearie is back in the news on Thursday: he ordered the lawyers of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to submit a sworn declaration if they believe the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago during the August 8 search. The declaration must include “a list of any specific items set forth in the Detailed Property Inventory that Plaintiff asserts were not seized from the Premises on August 8, 2022.” DDT recently repeated the accusation of FBI planting materials this week when talking to Sean Hannity on Fox network. Dearie set September 30 for the declaration’s deadline and asked DOJ for declarations about key facts regarding the search. His actions give an opening to hearing testimony about the search and seized materials from “witnesses with knowledge of the relevant facts.

The DOJ was also ordered to submit “copies of all seized materials” except those marked classified to DDT’s lawyers by September 29. DDT’s legal team must finish reviewing all documents for potential executive or attorney-client privilege by October 14 while regularly sending designations during the interim. Reviews and final designations from both sides are due by October 21. Dearie may also send  proceedings to Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the search warrant. Retired federal judge James Orenstein, appointed by George W. Bush, has been hired to help the review with his staff from the Eastern District of New York assisting. Orenstein had served “on the prosecution team in the Oklahoma City bombings trials.” Attorney General Merrick Garland played a leading role earlier in his career in the Oklahoma City investigation. Dearie said he won’t be paid for his work because the government is paying him as a federal judge but proposed that Orenstein be paid $500 per hour covered by DDT, based on an earlier court ruling.

Some of DDT’s faithful GOP senators are abandoning him, especially his ability to declassify documents just by thinking he does. John Thune (SD) said declassification has a process which should be followed and “apply to anybody who has access to or deals with classified information.” Thom Tillis (NC) agreed, and Mike Rounds (SD) called handling of classified documents a “very serious” issue. Other senators dodged the question, like Mike Braun (IN) who claimed ignorance about the “proper methodology.”

DDT made many bizarre comments about the search for government documents at Mar-a-Lago, but one that belies belief is that the FBI thought they could find “the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around someplace.” He repeated that to Sean Hannity on Fox this week, trying to gin up rumors by lying about “a lot of speculation” in his alternative reality.   

Past fraud has returned to haunt DDT—his 2014 rivalry with the 1980s metal rocker Jon Bon Jovi to buy the football team Buffalo Bills. In the $250 million fraud civil lawsuit filed by Letitia James in New York, DDT allegedly inflated assets’ valuation to finance a purchase attempt. DDT smeared the New Jersey resident, saying was that he was too Canadian for Buffalo because of Bon Jovi’s coalition of Toronto-based investors. In his $1 billion bid for the team, DDT needed a letter from a bank that he could get $800 million in financing. A Trump Organization executive, Jeffrey McConney, told the bank that DDT’s wealth, reportedly $800 billion, had “no material decrease” since the 2013 personal statement of financial condition, but those valuations were artificially inflated with DDT’s “deceptive strategies.” Although DDT claimed Bon Jovi planned to move the Bills to Toronto, he didn’t get the team and neither did the rocker. The winning $1.4 billion bid came from Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.

Conservatives complained that the nation’s unemployment insurance program to help people during the pandemic caused people to quit work and live on the “government dole.” Yet fraudsters skimmed over $45.6 billion from the program, using dead people’s Social Security numbers and identities of prisoners ineligible for aid. That finding could be incomplete because of the focus on “high risk” areas for fraud; billions of dollars may also have been stolen. Thus far,1,000 people have been charged for these crimes, and 190,000 investigative matters have been opened. The program began in 2020 under DDT’s term in the White House.

In another program to help people during the worst of COVID, 47 defendants have been charged with stealing over $250 million from Feeding Our Future to provide free meals for needy children. Other charges involved about $1 trillion in loans and grants intended for small businesses, and GOP governors have used funding from a $350 billion program by making tax cuts and immigration crackdowns—such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis shipping migrants from Texas to Massachusetts.

DeSantis has dropped to a new low in cruelty. He lured migrants to a hotel in San Antonio (TX) miles from their shelter with the promise to fly them to jobs, homes, and help in Delaware, only to cancel the flight and abandon the people. An anonymous source close to DeSantis stated that the flight, supposedly scheduled to land about 20 miles from President Joe Biden’s beach home, was to “punk” media and Democratic officials and “put a spotlight on the border.” Migrants were told they could stay in the hotel for the night before the bogus flight if they didn’t talk about the travel plans or who arranged them. The next morning, they were told the flight was canceled. Their recruiters hired a bus them back to San Antonio’s Migrant Resource Center ten miles away which would provide three days of shelter and aid. Some migrants were not told about the bus, and none of them received food after the flight was canceled.

In April, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sought federal protection for Venezuelan asylum seekers in the U.S.; five months later he accuses them of entering the U.S. “illegally.” He also doesn’t twisted the law, lying that migrants kidnapped by Florida’s governor from Texas and transported across several state lines could not sue for legal recourse. Rubio is only two points ahead of his reelection opponent, Val Deming.   

According to Rubio, health exceptions for the pregnant woman in an abortion ban are also a “massive loophole” and like vehicular manslaughter.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the man who fled the Texas cold during the energy shutdown for the Cancun warmth, is claiming “a great partisan victory!” In a video he took credit for a highway from Laredo to North Dakota that brings jobs and ”tens of billions of dollars” to his state, declaring his pride in the years of hard work for the project. Yet he voted against the bill unlike the other Texas senator, John Cornyn, among 18 Republican senators.

The GOP, party who claims to want transparency, unanimously blocked a Senate bill revealing names of donors giving over $10,000. Republicans need the dark money to get elected.

House Republicans briefly released their policy platform called “Commitment to America” on House Minority Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) website but soon dropped the public’s ability to see the document. Before its disappearance, however, multiple screenshots were taken. It criticizes the Democrats reduction of popular prescription drug costs and “fight inflation and curb the cost of living” through cuts in government spending and taxes, probably for the wealthy as in the 2017 GOP law. Its promise to “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare” was preceded by a GOP House committee meeting to reduce coverage and cut benefits by “massively” slashing Social Security in its proposed 2023 budget. Another “commitment” is new restrictions on voter access, including mandating voter ID, loosening rules on voter roll purges, and increasing access for observers during elections.

The platform is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract with America.” McCarthy, however, proposed only one bill promised to get floor votes instead of Gingrich’s ten, a Parental Bill of Rights based on blocking the teaching of “critical race theory.” Deliberately vague, the agenda doesn’t deal in specifics. The one-page document, now removed from McCarthy’s website, is here

McCarthy tried the same grocery store stunt as Pennsylvania’s GOP candidate for U.S. senate, Mehmet Oz, to show the plight of people in the U.S. and failed, just like Oz. In a video with the store as backdrop, McCarthy talked for 15 seconds about financial problems before hellish images and statements about the country’s drugs, inflation, and kids falling behind because of non-existent school closures. He lied about the U.S. being in a recession, and he had no Republican solution, only GOP control of the House.

Claremont, MAGA’s most prominent think tank, is home not only to John Eastman, legal architect of DDT’s plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election, but also the “Sheriff Fellows,” MAGA sheriffs learning the fellowship’s curriculum of two sets of people in the U.S.—communities to be treated as freely and brutally as law enforcement wish and the “real Americans” who are above the law. Sheriffs are a likely target for extremism because the office is vulnerable and can enable vigilantes to exert havoc on society. They have great authority with tanks, helicopters, SWAT teams, battering rams, surveillance technology and guns to terrify community members. Claremont’s curriculum for training these sheriffs is here. Sheriffs are elected; voters should be wary.

And Thomas Barrack, DDT’s close friend, is on trial this week for secretly lobbying DDT on behalf of the United Arab Emirates for personal power and financial gain.

September 13, 2022

News – September 13, 2022

Once again, Republicans reinforced their message that they can’t be trusted. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dropped a bombshell today when he announced for the sixth time that the GOP would pass a national law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy if Republicans took the Congress in 2022. (The bill actually states “at 15 weeks”—a week less, important when time is of the essence.) When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, the majority assured women that the abortion ban was only state-wide, that they could go to states permitting abortions for the procedure.  

Nationwide, 60 percent in polling support abortions in all or most cases, up from 55 percent in March, according to the Wall Street Journal. Graham said that he chose 15 weeks because “unborn child” (a fetus) the fetus can then feel pain. Studies show that the sensation of pain doesn’t occur until after 24 weeks. Advocates of the bill refer to 15-week abortions as “late-term,” a term used for pregnancies after at least 21 to 24 weeks. Asked about Graham’s proposal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said most GOP senators prefer abortion to be under state law rather than a national restriction.

On May 3, Graham said that each state deciding the legality of abortion “and on what terms … is the most constitutionally sound way of dealing with this issue.” On August 7, 2022, Graham said, “I’ve been consistent. I think states should decide…the issue of abortion.” Yet he proposed a national abortion restriction less than two months before an election largely focused on the loss of women’s rights.

Graham’s press conference announcing his proposed federal anti-abortion bill covered the other big news of the day, the Dow Jones dropping over 1,200 points because of the 0.1 percent August inflation increase. Food and gas continued to drop in prices, but some tech stocks lost up to ten percent. The biggest increase in prices for August was in medical services, a problem that the Inflation Reduction Act is intended to address. Rising rents were also responsible for the inflation increase.  

Another commentary on the filing by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to keep government-owned classified documents in the National Archives instead of in DDT’s unlocked desk drawers while he is gone for months: DDT’s attorneys compared those documents to tapes found in “the Clinton sock drawer,” when describing personal tapes from Bill Clinton’s interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch as part of a memoir about Clinton’s views on the issues of the day. Branch made follow-up tapes of his impressions, and the resulting book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, came out in 2009. A 2012 ruling from a case filed by the conservative Judicial Watch demanding they have access to the recordings established the difference between a private record and a Presidential Records Act document in post-presidency. According to the ruling by U.S. district judge Amy Jackson, the Presidential Records Act identifies Clinton’s tapes as personal records, “purely private or nonpublic,” not official presidential materials such as the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.  

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney has asked that the National Archives review DDT administration’s presidential records in a search for “presidential records … outside the agency’s custody and control. She sent this request after the archives staff told the committee that “the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody.” Maloney also asked the archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”

Kenneth Starr has died at the age of 76, after complications from surgery. Widely accused of political bias, the GOP investigator spent most of Bill Clinton’s two terms pursuing the president for investment questions, which never resulted in any evidence, and then followed by impeachment after Clinton’s affair with an intern. Starr’s appointment as Baylor University president in 2010 ended six years later after a sexual assault scandal in which women alleged campus leaders bungled or ignored their complaints. A review noted that administrators, under Starr, possibly accommodated a “hostile environment against the alleged victims. In 2020, Starr took part in DDT’s defense for his second impeachment. Over 20 years earlier during Clinton’s impeachment, DDT called Starr “a total wacko” and “totally off his rocker.”

September 13 is the last day in 2022 for primaries in the U.S. determining candidates in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. (Commentary on winners—and losers—tomorrow.) The count in Sweden’s Sunday vote still hasn’t determined whether the extremists in the far-right Democratic party will take over the nation. But one vote has been determined: Twitter shareholders accepted Elon Musk’s purchase of the company.

At the same time, Musk is working hard to get out of the $44 billion takeover, and Twitter’s stock opened on Tuesday at under $41 per share, almost 25 percent under the deal price. Musk has sent three letters to Twitter in his effort to void the agreement, the last time just days ago citing the $7.75 million severance payment the company made to whistleblower and former head of security Peter Zatko. The contract for the purchase supposedly promised no severance payments outside “past practice.” This letter followed another with Musk’s accusations of Twitter’s misrepresenting the number of spam and fake bot accounts on its platform. Twitter sued, but Zatko, a renowned hacker, testified to the Senate about alleged security and privacy vulnerabilities. The Musk-Twitter trial is scheduled for October 17.

In early August, Musk sold almost $7 billion of his Tesla shares in preparation for a forced purchase of Twitter. Openly criticizing government spending, Musk has taken $7 billion in government contacts with billions more in tax breaks, loans, and other subsidies, making the difference between profit and loss. Last summer, studies showed that Tesla vehicles running on Autopilot software had 273 crashes for the previous year, almost 70 percent of the 392 crashes reported in that time. His 18-year-old trans daughter has also filed legal documents to drop her last name of Musk and cut off any association with her father. Musk has seven children, sharing five with his ex-wife Justine Wilson and the others with ex-girlfriend Grimes.

Sample MAGA views from the third National Conservatism conference in Miami on September 11-13:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said tech companies “cannot be viewed as private entities” because “we know without a shadow of a doubt they are doing the regime’s bidding when it comes to censorship.”

A breakout session called for mandatory military service for anyone making over $250,000 a year.

Not one MAGA hat was seen at the meeting, and DDT was at his golf club in Virginia at that time after a mystery flight into Washington, D.C. Yet most 2024 presidential GOP wannabees, mostly governors and congressional members, were present: Mike Pence, Larry Hogan, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, and Liz Cheney.

After a judicial order to pay $49.3 million in his first defamation trial because of conspiracy theories regarding the Sandy Hook massacre, Alex Jones heads into the second trial by plaintiffs Jones claimed were “crisis actors” who lied about the children’s deaths. Parents’ and others’ cyberstalking and threatening harassment came from his encouragement for his audience to “investigate.” Plaintiffs have also asked the court to remove its current management after it filed bankruptcy in August which Jones said would keep Infowars on the air and keep him from “paying any judgements as he appeals.” Jones also uses the court decision to advertise his supplements and forthcoming book.

Jones’ ex-wife, Kelly Jones, also plans to subpoena her ex-husbands phone records, inadvertently given to the plaintiff’s attorney. Given custody of their three children in 2017 after she filed for divorce in 2013, she maintains their father forced the children to lie about her in court and has been non-compliant about court orders. Phone records also show that Jones has been secretly surveilling both Kelly Jones and his current wife, Erika Wulff Jones, through what could be called a “spy ring.” He also had one of his security team follow his wife.

According to his financial records, highly conservative China-hater Ron Johnson, running for a third senatorial term from Wisconsin, made $57 million in the last decade from a company closely aligned with China. He purportedly sold his shares in the company but still receives up to $1 million annually from rent and royalties as owners of its building. His campaign ads have bragged about the jobs he created as a manufacturer, and his company sued the U.S. government for softer trade relations with Beijing. Johnson threatens to start an investigation into President Joe Biden’s alleged relationships with Chinese businesses. 

Ronny Jackson was first known for being DDT’s White House doctor who said DDT could live to be 200 years old. Jackson left because of drinking on the job and inappropriate interactions with subordinates, including sexual and denigrating statements, to be elected U.S. House representative from Texas. Now he’s so excited about royalty that he wants DDT to be crowned the U.S. “MAGA King.” Maybe he didn’t know that Biden’s reference to DDT as “the great MAGA king” was a joke.  

August 27, 2022

Search Warrant Affidavit – Revelations, DDT Excuses for Having Documents

The judge who issued the order to release the search warrant release for documents taken by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) at Mar-a-Lago said that it would probably be “meaningless” to the public because of the redactions, and the quantity of blacked out content produced jokes. Even with those redactions, however, the affidavit provided a great amount of information, enough that Republicans are backing down after their temper tantrums about the search warrant. DDT-supporter Glenn Youngkin, Virginia governor, said people can’t “draw too many conclusions” after earlier saying the search were “politically motivated actions.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) switched the topic to “border invasions,” and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) moved to the anniversary of the suicide bombing of U.S. service members at the Kabul (Afghanistan) airport, Afghanistan. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) addressed an interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Nothing about the affidavit.

Not all Republican legislators protected DDT before the affidavit was released. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), an Intelligence Committee member, wanted more information and said:

“If he had actual Special Access Programs—do you know how extraordinarily sensitive that is? That’s very, very sensitive. If that were actually at his residence, that would be a problem. But we just don’t know that. So let’s find out.”

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said:

“When you get to compartmentalized classified spaces, it gets more serious.”

The affidavit and search warrant cited three criminal laws from Title 18 of the U.S. Code:

  • Section 793, better known as the Espionage Act, which covers the unlawful retention of defense-related information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.
  • Section 1519 covers destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings.  
  • Section 2071 covers the unlawful removal of government records.

Some revelations from the unredacted portions of the August 5 affidavit, about half the 38 pages: 

The DOJ involvement came after the National Archives sent the agency a criminal referral on February 9, 2022, after the archives had worked to obtain the documents for over a year. The FBI and DOJ coordinated a criminal investigation that led to a subpoena in June for classified material. When that was unsatisfactory, the DOJ submitted an affidavit to a DDT-appointed magistrate judge in Florida for the search warrant.

The government is “conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records.” The probe deals with possibly violating several statutes relating to his illegal retention and storage of official documents containing sensitive secrets.

The storage for the documents had no lock until the government demanded it have one after almost 18 months of requesting the documents be returned. Mar-a-Lago had no “secure location authorized for the storage of classified information,” according to a June 8 letter that DOJ sent to a DDT lawyer. The documents have “not been handled in an appropriate manner.” Surveillance “footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”

Of 15 boxes of documents redeemed after a year of requesting them, 14 contained highly secret information: “184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET.” Additional markings included “HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI,” some of these referring to technology and foreign communication. “HCS,” or human intelligence sources, means information gained from spies. The 184 documents marked as classified contained National Defense information and extremely sensitive top-secret information important to national security, considered among its most valuable and protected secrets.” 

Many of the classified documents, including top secret ones, were mixed in with miscellaneous newspapers, magazines and personal correspondence.

The affidavit indicated “probably cause” of more boxes, with more highly classified documents, still at Mar-a-Lago, many not secured, “that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found at the PREMISES.” (The search on August 8 added many more documents, for a total of over 300 classified documents.)

According to law, “classified information of any designation may be shared only with persons determined by an appropriate United States Government official to be eligible for access, and who possess a ‘need to know.”

In citing 18 USC 793(e), the government asserts that DDT had no legal right to refuse the return or any document “relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” according to 18 USC 793(e).

Tabs and markings are removed from declassified documents; the materials found at Mar-a-Lago still had these on the documents. Declassification of some documents must also be approved by the originating agency, something not done for these documents. The affidavit listed statutes criminalizing the mere possession of these documents, whether they are or aren’t classified.

Some of the documents had DDT’s “handwritten notes”; the government is investigating when those notes were made. Other documents were torn. Statute 18 U.S.C. § 1519 criminalizes knowingly altering any government record or document, whether or not classified or relating to the national defense, if a person’s intent is to obstruct not only an investigation but also the “proper administration” of any federal department or agency.

The moving trucks at Mar-a-Lago on January 18, 2021, at least two of them, were also noted in the affidavit because a president typically moves out of his residence by military plane or at least military truck instead of unguarded moving vans—unless trying to avoid attention. The following material to this information is redacted.

Because of threats by DDT supporters against people involved in the affidavit, the names were redacted, but some information was not blacked out. The FBI agent submitting the affidavit was trained in “counterintelligence and espionage investigations” at the FBI Academy in Quantico (VA), and information had come from a “a significant number of civilian witnesses.”

DDT has provided a number of fake defenses: the classified documents belonging to the government are “mine”; he always planned to turn over the right thing to the government; he could just declassify documents by issuing a tweet; DDT took work home with him from time to time; he withheld the documents because he didn’t trust “partisan Democrat appointees” who were “releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege”; possession of government classified documents is protected by attorney-client and executive privileges; and of course, it’s all about political and “what about ‘Clinton’s emails.’” 

On Fox, Jesse Watters falsely claimed that a “liberal librarian” wanted boxes of materials and that the boxes just had things “like golf balls and Oval Office raincoats.” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said there was no need for a search warrant because DDT would return any documents; Crenshaw insisted DDT would cooperate—before the affidavit’s pointing out all DDT’s refusals.

DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb claimed that Mar-a-Lago was secure for classified materials. Yet the facility has no Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and DDT has no national security clearance. Bobb said the basement door was secure but didn’t say how many people had access to the key. As part of the federal investigation, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, plans an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents DDT took to Mar-a-Lago.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said no one vetted the guests that come and go from Mar-a-Lago. A current example of that failure is the confidence that DDT and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appear to display in Inna Yashchyshyn before they discovered she was posing as a member of the famous Rothschild banking family. Federal authorities were alerted after a legal dispute exposing her frequent trips to DDT’s Florida club. She previously worked for an adoption agency specializing in helping pregnant Russian women come to the U.S. for their infants’ citizenship.

In a security analysis of Mar-a-Lago, ProPublica quoted a cybersecurity expert who reported hackers could use Mar-a-Lago’s network to remotely turn on the microphones and cameras of devices connected to the network in “typical hotel security.” An attacker could listen to sensitive national security conversations. A Chinese citizen, a part of her name matching a club member, entered Mar-a-Lago bringing four cell phones, an external hard drive, a laptop, and a thumb drive infected with malware while DDT was visiting from the White House. Hearing about the problems, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), running for reelection said that possible felonies aren’t important. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants the Espionage Act repealed because, to him, leaking classified information isn’t a problem.

DDT reportedly oversaw which documents he wanted to take to Mar-a-Lago. Even his lawyers didn’t know what he packed. And there would be no mess if he had just voluntarily returned the documents. Questions are why DDT insisted on keeping the documents and what he intended to do with these highly secret documents.

At least no one has cried “defund the FBI” since the affidavit was released.

August 16, 2022

Please Note Corrections

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM

The post for August 16, 2022 may have been mistakenly published before it was finished. For the completed one, go to https://nelsnewday.wordpress.com/2022/08/16/russian-invasion-of-ukraine-day-174/

July 13, 2022

News – Week of July 13, 2022

Updates: When Twitter gave Elon Musk 53 terabytes of raw user data, the company was concerned that he would use it for building his own social media platform. According to Twitter, Musk had only three plans: “sit on its board, buy it, or build a competitor.” If Musk tries to buy Twitter at a reduced price, his lawsuit could become the “world’s most expensive case of ‘if you break it, you pay for it.’” Delaware have forced other prospective buyers, such as Louis Vuitton maker LVHM in 2020, to comply with signed merger agreements.  

The feud between Musk and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) continues after Musk tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset” after DDT called him “another bullsh–t artist.” DDT’s lengthy response slammed electric, “driverless cars, … rocketships to nowhere,” and more. Tesla laid off 229 employees in its Autopilot team and closed its San Mateo office, transferring other workers to another facility. Musk said he will be firing ten percent of Tesla’s workforce; his net worth has fallen $65 billion in the past three months, largely because of the 24-percent drop in Tesla stock value. In November 2021, Musk was worth $340 billion, but his assets fell 42 percent by May 2022 to $197.1 billion.

Notes about the January 6 debacle:

DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who may end up being the patsy for all the illegal activities setting up the insurrection, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin that she shouldn’t resign after DDT lost the election because he wasn’t leaving the Oval Office.  

DDT’s Islamophobic supporter Brigette Gabriel wanted all January 6 hearings canceled “out of respect” for DDT while he mourns the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. One respondent pointed out that DDT barely knew Abe who was in the same room as DDT only a few times.

Alex Holder, the British director of a documentary film Unprecedented with footage from DDT, his family, and his allies, is under armed protective guard because of threats from DDT’s supporters.

More video footage of the insurrection planning comes from two conservative filmmakers, Jason Rink and Paul Escandon, who filmed footage of DDT’s friend Roger Stone and his protégé organizer of “Stop the Steal” Ali Alexander leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The documentary is to be called The Steal. Also starring in the film are insurrectionists Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and DDT’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn.  Stone also gave permission for a Danish documentary film crew to record his activities in the Willard Hotel, where DDT’s allies planned the election overturn. The content of the film footage is not known.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is really afraid of testifying to a Fulton County (GA) grand jury about his trying to interfere in its state 2020 presidential election: asking a federal court to quash a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to undermine Georgia’s election results.

For the first time in seven years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will have a director after the Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s second nomination after he withdrew David Chipman. The vote was 48-46 with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Rob Portman (OH) joining Democrats. The NRA called Dettelbach “anti-gun.”

After the six Supremes removed the right to abortion for all women in the U.S., Biden signed an executive order in an attempt to mitigate the removal of reproductive rights. It tries to strengthen existing provisions for medication abortion, emergency care, contraception access, resources, and information. Doctors and hospitals in all states accepting federal funding must provide abortions to women whose lives are at risk through the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The federal mandate preempts state law that doesn’t permit a woman’s life to be saved.

The story about a raped 10-year-old Ohio girl forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion resulted in great skepticism from conservatives, including Ohio’s Republican AG Dave Yost, who claimed it was fake reporting to push for legalized abortion. The 27-year-old rape suspect was arrested after he confessed to raping the child at least twice at the same time the Wall Street Journal published an editorial doubting the victim’s truthfulness. Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine agreed with Yost that the rape is likely a “fabrication.” Evidencing approval of the arrest, DeWine and Yost did not issue any apologies for their attacks on the girls and her doctor. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) deleted his tweet about the reporting about the rape that ended, “Another lie. Anyone surprised?” The surprise is that anyone reports a rape.

With abortion gone in some states and contraception on the chopping block, some men are getting prepared. Anecdotally, the interest in vasectomies has largely grown since the announcement from the six Supremes in late June. A Kansas City (MO) doctor said his vasectomy consults skyrocketed 900 percent since then, and a Laredo (TX) described a similar uptick. Same for urologists in Idaho and Tampa Bay. According to a research company, searches for “where can I get a vasectomy?” spiked 850 percent. While 18 percent of women use tubal ligation, an invasive surgical procedure, for birth control, only six percent of men in the U.S. have vasectomies.

Suggestions that the pro-forced-birth legislators should help women and children in the future chaos of more births and parental hardship following the six Supremes’ mandate blocking abortions have fallen on deaf ears. Democrats have supported assistance through direct cash or family leave, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that “supporting families and family formation [is] separate and apart from the abortion questions.” No one on the right is disagreeing with them, and many Republicans claim their opposition to more federal assistance means they don’t support children. The U.S. already does enough to support families, according to the GOP.

Only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) believes in a monthly cash allowance for families. Two other GOP senators, Steve Daines (MT) and Richard Burr (NC), propose “child” tax credit for the fetus until it becomes a baby but say it won’t pass anyway. A few Republicans, like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) support paid parental leave by taking the money out of later Social Security benefits. GOP ideas come from their philosophy that reducing material hardship removes any desire to have a job.

Republicans are also silent about the new jobs report for June—an additional 372,000. The private sector has recovered all the jobs that DDT lost during the pandemic plus more. During the second quarter of 2022, Biden created more jobs during that period of time in almost 40 years.  For the first half of 2022, 2.63 jobs have been added, more than any full year under DDT even before the pandemic. Despite an additional 9.37 jobs since Biden’s inauguration, the GOP blames Democrats for poor job growth but gives them no credit for job growth.

The media focuses on the annualized inflation being higher than a year ago, but it actually shrank a bit from June 2022 to the previous June. Core inflation in June, excluding gasoline and food, is expected to be the third month of slowing. Retail prices will likely drop because retailers miscalculated some inventories, and container costs of shipping and airlines are falling. The Federal Reserve also plans to peak out prime rate with one more 0.75 percent increase on top of June’s 0.75 percent.  

After whining about inflation, Fox hosts are now upset because gas prices are declining too fast. According to Martha MacCallum, lower gas prices are bad for “mom-and-pop” gas station owners.

The DOJ is suing Arizona to block its law, set to take effect in January, requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s proof of citizenship law, and this new law violates the National Voter Registration Act, according to DOJ. State law already requires Arizona voters in state elections to provide proof of citizenship, but this law extends the requirement to federal election. Registering to vote in federal elections requires attesting under penalty of perjury but doesn’t require proof until this new law. County records or election officials who don’t attempt to verify citizenship status and registers voters without documentation can be charged with a felony. Federal statutes do not require this documentation. Arizona already requires attestation of citizenship on the ballot; lying is a crime.

California now has a law modeled after Texas’ law allowing private citizens to sue people enabling abortions. The Supreme Court refused to block the law so California now has a law allowing private citizens to sue gun manufacturers and distributors whose produces cause them harm. When signing the bill, Gov. Gavin Newsom said “that nearly every industry is held to account when their products cause harm or injury, except one: the gun industry.”

Rules require “reasonable controls” to keep guns from people most likely to cause harm such as systems to prevent gun sales to straw purchasers, gun traffickers, everyone legally prohibited from owning firearms, and those whom the business has a reasonable concern might unlawfully harm themselves or others. A 2005 federal law bans state and federal lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, but a clause in that law allows lawsuits if a firearms business “knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product” and harm was directly caused because of it.

June 29, 2022

Primaries – June 21 & 28, 2022

Voters went to the polls on June 28, 2022 in Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma, Utah, and South Carolina, in part to decide whether they would support the picks for Deposed Donald Trump. 

In the Democratic world, governors of Colorado, Illinois, and New York—Jared Polis, J.B. Pritzker, and Kathy Hochul, respectively—all won their primaries. For her first general election after her appointment, Hochul faces pro-gun, anti-abortion Rep. Lee Zeldin who beat Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew. Facing incumbent Pritzker in Illinois, Darren Bailey, DDT’s pick, beat Richard Irvin who received $50 million from GOP billionaire Ken Griffin. Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association spent $35 million opposing Irvin, preferring a contest against the weaker, anti-abortion opponent.

Colorado:

Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) will face off against Joe O’Dea, one of the only abortion-rights Republicans winning a statewide primary this year, despite progressive ads for his opponent Ron Hanks.

Pro-DDT election conspiracist Tina Peters lost the primary for Colorado secretary of state. As might be expected, Peters and her followers are declaiming a “stolen” election. “It’s not over,” Peters said. Once again, the only “stolen” elections are those lost by far-right conservatives.  

  • Peters faces multiple felony charges for tampering with election systems.
  • A judge had blocked Peters from overseeing elections because of her failure in her duties as county clerk and being “untruthful” when she brought in someone who was not a county employee to copy the hard drives of Dominion Voting Systems machines.
  • The FBI raided her home after she pressured her employees into not cooperating with a joint local, state, and federal criminal investigation.
  • Conservatives in her former county objected to Peters being secretary of state, and some switched their party affiliations to vote against her. They said that Peters “caused” voter fraud and is a “crook [who] should not be running for secretary of state.” Now she isn’t.

In a heavily-red area of Colorado, DDT-endorsed Rep. Lauren Boebert won the GOP primary, despite her outrageous positions, worsening by the day.

  • A recent one is being “tired of this separation of church and state junk that’s not in the Constitution … in a stinking letter [that] means nothing like what they say it does.” The referred letter, by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, stated that the First Amendment builds “a wall of separation between Church and State.” Boebert’s comments seem to reference only Christianity.
  • Earlier this year, her employees said they aren’t paid on time, and Colorado plans an investigation into her misuse of campaign funds.
  • The new owner of the building has threatened to drop her lease, but Boebert has enough money.
  • Last year, her husband made $478,000 from a non-existent company.
  • She frequently tells people to “go back to your country,” including congressional members, and called Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) a terrorist
  • Desperate to please her voters, she asked Transportation Secretary for $33 million funding a bridge despite insulting the gay father about learning “how to chest feed” his children and accused him of making an “R-rated” movie with Jeff Bezos instead of doing his job. Boebert had decried the funding from the infrastructure bill as “wasteful” and full of “slush funds” and “government welfare.” She avoids questions about her hypocrisy.

Illinois:

DDT-supported election-denier Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL) beat five-term Rep. Rodney Davis. Miller most recently praised the overturn of Roe v. Wade as “victory for white life” and earlier supported Adolf Hitler for his quote, “Whoever has the youth has the future.” Later she said she misspoke about “white life” but doesn’t withdraw her praise for Hitler.

Mississippi – runoff:

Rep. Michael Guest, who voted for an independent January 6 commission, survived a GOP challenge from Trump loyalist Michael Cassidy. Earlier, he looked like a goner by finishing in second place, but neither candidate had over 50 percent. Cassidy backed off from his support for a universal health insurance programs, but his flip-flop didn’t save him. Guest went negative in ads after Cassidy beat him 47.5-46.9 percent in the primary’s first round, declaring Cassidy “just came to Mississippi from Maryland and only registered to vote here last year” and that he was “grounded and put under an investigation” when he was a Navy Reserve pilot.

In a runoff, Rep. Steven Palazzo was the first incumbent to lose in the state in 60 years after defeating Mike Ezell in the June 7 primary without a 50-percent victory. According to the House Ethics committee, the six-term representative misused almost $200,000 in campaign funds for his home’s rent and repair and asked his aides to work for his campaigns and himself. Palazzo also paid his brother, Kyle Palazzo, $23,000 from campaign funds for unjustified work and may have used his federal position to get his brother reenlisted in the military.

Nebraska:

In the nation’s oddest special election, GOP Mike Flood will finish former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s Republican term after beating Democrat Patty Passing Brooks by four percent. Fortenberry resigned after his sentence of two years of probation for lying to the FBI. Flood’s win is in a redistricted area where 75,000 people living in the current 1st District but not the new one couldn’t vote for their representative and the 69,000 people living in the new district but not the old one can vote for the person who isn’t representing them. That’s about 11 percent of each district. Flood and Brooks go up against each other in November to determine the representative who takes over in January 2023.

Oklahoma:

Rep. Markwayne Mullins and former state House speaker T.W. Shannon are headed to a runoff on August 23 to pick the GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate position vacated by Jim Inhofe. The primary had 13 candidates for the position including disgraced former EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who received only five percent of the vote. Sen. James Lankford managed to win his GOP candidacy by two-thirds of the vote, despite being one of a few senators who decided not to challenge the electoral votes on January 6 after the attack. Conservatives found an opponent for the primary, but Pastor Jackson Lahmeyer received just over one-fourth of the total.

Texas:

Recount: Henry Cuellar, the only anti-abortion Democrat in the U.S. House, won the recount for the primary election by eight additional votes, 289, despite an FBI raid on his home during his campaign.

Indictments: DDT-endorsed candidate for the Texas House has been indicted for impersonating a public servant. There were no specific allegations. Frederick Frazier blamed his opponent, Paul Chabot, for suggesting Frazier pose as a city code compliance officer to remove Chabot’s campaign signs from a Walmart after winning the GOP primary runoff last month.

Utah:

Rep. Blake Moore is the GOP candidate for a second term in the U.S. House although he voted for the independent January 6 commission and aligned himself with GOP rejects Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY). He also denounced “the political violence at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th.”

Primaries from June 21: Only one state, Virginia, and Washington, DC had a regular primary on June 21.

Alabama – runoff:

Katie Britt, lately endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) after competitor Mo Brooks went down in the polls, gave DDT another win, this on as the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. The large Republican vote in the state gives her a good chance in November. DDT earlier endorsed Brooks until the candidate said it was time to move beyond the 2020 election. Less than a year ago, DDT said Britt was “not in any way qualified” to serve in the Senate. MAGA extremists opposed DDT’s establishment choice but perhaps less so since Brooks said he would testify before the House January 6 investigative committee after his loss.

Wes Allen, a state representative, defeated state Auditor Jim Zeigler, for GOP secretary of state candidate, both believing in election conspiracy theories. Allen makes the fourth GOP candidate for the position in different states who believe in the “big lie,” joining ones in New Mexico, Michigan, and Nevada.

Georgia:

Chris West, an Anglo, defeated Jeremy Hunt, the GOP hope in a revised district with a significantly Black voter base. West goes up against Sanford Bishop, who has served the district for three decades. Leading Republicans—Sens. Tom Cotton (AR) and Josh Hawley (MO), former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—had endorsed Hunt.

Rich McCormick won in another congressional district against DDT-endorsed Jake Evans.

Mike Collins soundly beat former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a DDT endorsement who had switched from Democrat to Republican. Jody Hice vacated the seat to lose to Brad Raffensperger for GOP secretary of state candidate. Collins’ win devolved into a nasty fight when he called his Black opponent a “radically anti-white racist.”

Virginia:

Ben Cline, Morgan Griffith, and Rob Wittman, DDT-endorsed incumbents, easily won—two of them uncontested.

Washington, DC:

Democratic incumbent Muriel Bowser defeated three other Democrats in a bid for her third term as mayor.

June 21 made 100 out of 117 wins for DDT’s endorsements, but his record is only 75 percent for nonincumbents, 18 of 24. Of GOP nominees following DDT’s “big lie” about the 2020 election, 52 percent have won their primaries. DDT’s June 28 wins were largely safe seats.

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