Nel's New Day

November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Gratitude for Government Actions

Every year on Thanksgiving, many people express gratitude for what happens in their lives. For me, this means my fabulous partner of over 53 years and our joy in working together. We’re grateful for the friends who contribute to our lives through their love, humor, acceptance, and help whenever we need it. We take delight in our loving standard poodle and our delightful cat. Our home is exactly what we want, and we feel safe in the small town where we live.

Beyond that—because I’m a politics junkie—I have much more to list in my gratefulness because they demonstrate that others share with me my desire for human rights and democracy.

Elections:

After a long 15 days, Alaska has declared the winners of its ranked choice votes. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) returns for a full House term after she won her special election last summer, both elections defeating former VP candidate Sarah Palin. She cares about people, not herself. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will also return to Washington after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) tried to destroy her for her impeachment vote against him. DDT endorsed opponents of both these winners.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) will be Los Angeles’ first female mayor despite her wealthy opponent outspending her by $91 million.

Two extremely close races flipped the Pennsylvania state House to Democrats for the first time in a decade. The Dems flipped a total of 12 seats in the chamber.

The GOP will likely have 222 members of the House for the 118th Congress, outnumbering Democrats by five. Democrats are suing to overturn districting maps in six states they couldn’t do before 2022 elections: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas.

Georgia will determine whether Democrats have 50 or 51 Senators in the election on December 6.  Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) leads opponent Herschel 51 percent to 47 percent and has an 11-point lead among women voters plus 12 percent of those with a four-year or more college degree.

The week after DDT announced his 2024 presidential campaign, 57 percent thought it was a bad idea. Only 27 percent approved in the Quinnipiac University poll. Among independents, the disapproval was 58 percent to 32 percent. Forty-four percent don’t want Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to run for president, compared to 37 percent supporting him.

Courts:

The Supreme Court, typically supporting DDT, turned him down in his request to block House Democrats from seeing his tax records. Sought for 42 months, the decision listed no dissenting votes, and the records should be immediately turned over to the House committee.

The Supreme Court rejected appeals from a Virginia public school district and the University of Toledo in Ohio to stop sexual harassment lawsuits by female students using the law prohibiting sex discrimination at schools receiving federal funds.

A federal judge continued to send Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ beloved Stop WOKE Act into the trash pile, starting when he blocked provisions related to regulating private speech. In August, he wrote:

“Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely.”

DeSantis’ law targeted concepts about race and history that Republicans dislike. In banning any information about critical race theory, DeSantis tried to regulate private businesses’ training sessions with their own private-sector employees. 

The November ruling stopped what the judge called a “positively dystopian” policy restricting how lessons on race and gender can be taught in colleges and universities. DeSantis wants to control what scholars can say in higher education. He quoted George Orwell’s novel 1984:

“’It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,’ and the powers in charge of Florida’s public university system have declared the State has unfettered authority to muzzle its professors in the name of ‘freedom.”

The judge added:

“The law officially bans professors from expressing disfavored viewpoints in university classrooms while permitting unfettered expression of the opposite viewpoints. Defendants argue that, under this Act, professors enjoy ‘academic freedom’ so long as they express only those viewpoints of which the State approves. This is positively dystopian.”

DeSantis will certainly appeal, but this ruling is a start. Other lawsuits are fighting the suppression of education in K-12.

With no comment, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the GOP request to remove a day of early voting for the U.S. Senate runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Herschel Walker. The GOP knows that it needs to block voting to win, causing the Republicans already passing a large number of voter restrictions including cutting the runoff calendar in half with a ban on Saturday voting after a holiday. Georgia’s runoff early voting now runs from November 27 to December 2.

A three-judge 11th Circuit Court panel, two DDT-appointed judges and one from George W. Bush, appear ready to support the DOJ by rescinding the special master appointment in the Mar-a-Lago documents case made by DDT’s pet judge Aileen Cannon. One of the DDT judges told DDT’s lawyer that sweeping up personal items in a court-authorized search was not unusual. The DOJ has also asked for the return of 13,000 documents to investigators examining if DDT illegally retained highly sensitive documents of national defense information after he left the White House and possibly obstructed justice in their retrieval.  

A judge asked DDT’s lawyer that if he can’t establish the seizure is unlawful, “what are we doing here?” Another judge pointed out that a special master has no relationship to unlawful seizure.

A complaint has been filed against a Greenville (MS) municipal judge who signs no-knock search warrants allowing police to go into a home unannounced and then keeps them instead of turning them over to the clerk. Violating the state’s criminal procedure rules, his process hides warrants from the public and The public has no access to the warrants and prevents people from defending themselves when they are charged with crimes.

Congress:

The Senate unanimously passed legislature to make funding for survivors of gender-based violence more inclusive of the neediest communities. This amendment to the Violence against Women Act increased funding for domestic violence and sexual assault services specifically helping Native Hawaiian survivors who were inadvertently excluded from the funding. Roughly two-thirds of sex-trafficking victims in Hawaii are Native Hawaiian.

Another unanimous Senate vote passed the Safe Connections Act to help survivors of domestic violence and other crimes cut ties with their abusers and separate from shared wireless service plans, useful to monitor, stalk, or control victims. Abused victims and dependents in their care won’t have penalties or other requirements to separate from shared plans, and the FCC must make rules to keep calls or texts on hotlines from appearing on call logs.

Almost 200 years ago, the U.S. agreed to seat a member of the Cherokee Nation in the House as a non-voting delegate. A House vote could make that happen. The House has six non-voting delegates, including from the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, who can introduce legislation and sit on committees but cannot vote on the House floor.

President Joe Biden:

Facing opposition from conservative states to his student loan forgiveness of $20,000 per person, Biden will extend the payment pause on federal student loans until 60 days after the relief plan is permitted.

The price of crude oil has dropped from almost $120 in March to $77.50, plunging over one-third of its cost from this year’s highest point. Shipping prices are lower, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) drove investment in U.S. battery equipment manufacturing, taking the industry from China.  

Jason Easley and Sarah Jones wrote about gratitude for Biden:

“After four years of feeling like the country was careening out of control, President Joe Biden assumed office and immediately restored stability and normalcy to the country…. Biden got the pandemic under control, oversaw record-setting job growth, and made a huge downpayment on rebuilding America’s infrastructure and helping the planet. Biden has gotten Congress to function in a bipartisan way and has lived up to his promise to try to help people and make their lives better.

“Things have not been perfect. Inflation remains a stubborn and persistent problem. The Senate filibuster has stopped Biden from achieving goals like voting rights reform, an assault weapons ban, and the codification of Roe.”

Easley and Jones described Biden’s leadership:

“You may not appreciate it at the moment, but you’ll know when it is not there.

“The reason why so many Americans will be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday is that a steady hand is again steering the national ship from the Oval Office.

“The feeling that there has been a dark cloud hovering over the nation has passed.”

Footnote for Biden: For many years, Fox network attacked “liberals” for their “War on Christmas.” Evidently that particular war has ended. Fox’s latest complaint is that Biden is “too pro-Christmas,” led by Laura Ingraham on her prime-time show. (The official lighting of the National Christmas Tree isn’t until November 30.) 

And then there’s the scandal about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaking information to evangelical Christians before his announcements of two cases about reproductive rights. But that’s a longer story!

October 26, 2022

DDT’s Gubernatorial Endorsements Dangerous

Thirty-six states will elect governors in November, 20 of them held by Republicans. All nine states are currently held by women, and eight of the races are open. Seven states have only women candidates, and another four have female incumbents.

In Alaska, ranked choice voting voting means races can have four candidates, and Charlie Pierce, a Republican running against the GOP incumbent Mike Dunleavy, has been credibly charged with sexual harassment including unwanted physical touching. The other two candidates are a Democrat and an unaffiliated.

In Maryland, Dan Cox, DDT’s endorsement against existing Gov. Larry Hogan’s preference, was filmed accepting a gift from the Proud Boys, a group storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Cox organized buses to take people to Washington, D.C. on January 6. His website erased prominent references to DDT who held a fundraiser for Cox at Mar-a-Lago. The campaign for Cox’s opponent Wes Moore, has outraised Cox 10-to-1 in the state where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-to-1. In early October, Moore was ahead, 60 percent to 28 percent. 

Two other DDT-endorsed gubernatorial candidates are more frightening.

In Arizona, Kari Lake displays the polish she gained as a TV news personality, and the state may provide enough MAGA crazies to vote her in, with a polling one percent ahead of her opponent, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. She describes her lies as facts, including the falsehood that Joe Biden lost the 2020 presidential election. Despite Arizona Republicans claiming “election integrity” by passing “one of the worst voter suppression laws in the nation” for the purported purpose of “election integrity,” Lake still declares election outcomes should be doubted, and she declines to accept a loss.

Lake also:

  • Threatens to cancel the Super Bowl if the NFL disagree with her immigration policies. She said, “I’m not going to be taking marching orders from the NFL.”
  • Accused China of poisoning people in Arizona with fentanyl in an attempt to “take down civilization,” apparently a reference to the 19th-century opium wars when Great Britain smuggled opium from India into China.
  • Told people not to take any precautions against COVID because “hydroxychloroquine works” and sells a t-shirt with the image of a burning mask.
  • Said that her opponent would be in jail by Election Day and promised she would criminally prosecute journalists who “dupe the public.”
  • Approved an ad from from an anti-Islam and anti-LGBTQ pastor who preaches the “submission of the wife.” 
  •  Thinks low majority votes for President Joe Biden should all be decertified to overturn his 2020 election.
  • Endorsed Oklahoma candidate Jarrin Jackson, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ nationalist extremist saying “Jews will go to hell” and LGBTQ is a “gateway to pedophilia.”
  • Announced her “team is triple-confirming … some really painful hurtful news” about her opponent that would shake up the race. The new, which turned out to be wrong, was that Hobbs fought to keep the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution out of Arizona’s public school classrooms. The 2018 law added the state motto to Lake’s cited documents already permitted to be read or posted in classrooms. Lake and her team can’t read a state statute, and she’s never held any elected office.
  • Used footage of Russian troops marching in a “victory parade” in her political ad when she says she will “stand with Arizona’s border sheriffs.”
  • Said Arizona’s strict anti-abortion1864 law will put more rapists in jail but didn’t explain how.
  • Accepted hundreds in donations from people convicted of serious sex offenses while accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children.
  • Worried academicians with threats of “cleaning up show” at Arizona State University.

On Indigenous People’s Day, Lake’s campaign manager compared all Native Americans to bloodthirsty savages who engage in human sacrifice in a tweet with an image of human sacrifice by an ancient Mesoamerican civilization thousands of miles from Arizona.

Arizonans are filing complaints about voter harassment. Two armed and masked men wearing tactical gear staked out a drop box in Maricopa County and left only after the police were called. Local sheriffs tried to intervene in a standoff between the armed men and people observing the watchers, and several voters reported being intimidated at the same location. Mark Finchem, candidate for secretary of state, sent people to “watch all drop boxes” and repeated the lie that voters dropping off ballots were “ballot mules,” from the lies in the movie 2000 Mules, and covering their license plates. People are doing so for personal safety, and the men in masks also covered up their license plates. Writing about Clean Elections USA run by QAnon election conspiracist Melody Jennings, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino filed complaints that that “vigilante groups have already turned away voters.”

Lies about election fraud led to anonymous violent threats using vile obscene language targeting Arizona’s election officials. Threatening letters to the Democratic party stated that judges not fully sentencing election fraud will be “dealt with” as a traitor. Letters also threaten to publish personal details of judges and sheriffs. The state is at the top for threats against these officials and poll workers which includes photographing them and following them.

In North Carolina, election officials in at least 15 counties have reported violations of poll watchers harassing voters and trying to get into restricted areas to view confidential voting records.

In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano could be even more dangerous as governor because he also selects the secretary of state, in charge of elections. He promised to pick one who would certify DDT. Mastriano is so scary that GOP leaders support his Democratic opponent, Josh Shapiro, and a GOP organization is posting billboards asking people to vote for Shapiro.

Mastriano:

  • Wants to prosecute women for murder if they have abortions.
  • Claims that banning books is “not a book ban.”
  • Calls any book mentioning LGBTQ people “pornographic.”
  • Promises to ban “pole dancing” in the schools “on day one” but can’t name any school teaching pole dancing—because there aren’t any.
  • Plans to fund private schools with public school funding and eliminate school property taxes.
  • Hopes to de-register all approximately nine million registered voters in Pennsylvania and require them to register again.
  • Registered to vote in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania for 11 years.
  • Led a crowd at a rally in a “liberty oath,” swearing they would fight like in the Civil war to experience a “new birth” in Pennsylvania. Days before the January 6 insurrection, he called on fellow DDT supporters to “rise up” and overthrow the government.
  • Sued the House January 6 investigative committee for interviewing him.
  • Asked for “40 days of fasting and prayer” to support his campaign. The Christian nationalist averages 8.6 points behind Shapiro.

At the University of New Brunswick, a U.S. history professor declared Mastriano’s Ph.D. was undeserved and his dissertation about World War II soldier Alvin York atrocious academic work—dishonest, sloppy, fanatical, and tinged with religious zealotry. During his “research,” Mastriano ruined an archeological site in France and then used his degree to deflect criticism for his wearing a Confederate uniform in a faculty photo at the Army War College. The professor said the fanaticism and indifference to facts are apparent in the candidate’s public life. The university hid Mastriano’s 2013 dissertation, even its title, until last August. Some of the “fraudulent” fabrications.

Mastriano holds mostly closed events, keeps reporters away from him at public events, and hires the Christian militia and former Oath Keepers for his security team. Several of them from the Lifegate Church in Elizabethtown (PA) may not have received the training requiring by state law. His church’s mission is to control government by electing their Christians, and the property has political yard signs. Members gained seven seats on the local GOP committee which some describe as “a hostile takeover.” Three days before the January 6 insurrection, a social media post connected to the Pennsylvania Oath Keepers, split from the national group in 2015, alluded to armed veterans violently resisting election results.

“Prophet” Julie Green, head of Green Ministries who receives direct prophecies from God, says she has a “special relation” with Mastriano. Some of her other claims: Biden is not alive, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drinks “children’s blood”; God will execute political figures; Rep. Ilhan Omar is “a spy”; and several prominent lawmakers who failed DDT will soon die. Green promises not to “forsake” Mastriano.

Back in Georgia, a second woman claims anti-abortion Herschel Walker, the GOP U.S. Senate candidate from Georgia, pressured her to get an abortion. As in the first case, Walker denied the allegation from his ex-girlfriend. He had a six-year relationship with her while he was married. Despite his anti-Christian actions, evangelical voters support him because they only want to take the Senate. Walker, GOP also sent his supporters a flyer urging early voting—with the wrong date. His one debate with opponent Sen. Raphael Warnock showed he is trainable: his comments were less garbled.

Walker has company carrying a fake police badge: MyPillow Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell brandished his own badge at DDT’s October 21 rally in Texas when he told people not to vote before Election Day. If anyone is accused of already voting, he said, “Go to your local sheriff.” He concluded, “Sheriffs and judges … are gonna bring this country back. They gave me a badge. I’m semi-official.”

October 23, 2022

News – Week Ending October 23, 2022

Update on possibility of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) testifying live to House January 6 investigate committee: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this won’t happen; DDT won’t be allowed to turn his testimony into a “circus” or a “food fight.” About House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement he may take military aid from Ukraine, Cheney accused him of becoming “the leader of the pro-Putin wing of my party” and added that McCarthy “always chooses to serve his own political purpose.” After McCarthy’s mentor DDT put the U.S. a further $8 trillion into debt, McCarthy said he must “eliminate wasteful spending.”

By now, the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister after 44 days, the shortest term for any British PM, is old news. The head of lettuce won, lasting longer than she did when the contest began a week earlier. The event ended in a fanfare of colored lights and messages of congratulations for the crowned lettuce as Truss’ photo was laid down to the sound of “God Save the King.” Celebratory alcohol was provided by the lettuce joined by fruit and vegetable friends. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for 11 days, 33 days fewer than Truss, praised her after she “outlasted the milk in the refrigerator.”  

Truss’ resignation leaves her with the possibility of $129,000 for any business expenses and another almost $100,000 pension, available to any PM lasting over 42 days, and depending on how well the British pound does after her departure. She can add that to her net worth of almost $10 million. Traumatized by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ 44 days in office, the British public now must cope with who will assume leadership.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin described Truss’ failure in six weeks and concluded:

“If you like what Brexit and Truss have done for the British economy, vote Republican. If you prefer prosperity, then don’t.

Her warning is reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s question in 2000 before George W. Bush lowered taxes and started two wars:

“What are you afraid of? Four more years of prosperity?”

Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss, has again thrown his hat into the ring despite tax scandals for both himself and his wife, Akshata Murty. Together they are worth £730 million, over twice the assets of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Runak and Murty keep their money, he with a U.S. green card until last year promising to become a citizen and paying less taxes and she with her non dom classification, permitting her to pay an annual maximum of £30,000 a year instead of taxes on foreign income. She has saved millions of pounds on taxes for her dividends in her father’s firm, India-based Infosys, which did business with Russia after British sanctions because of the invasion of Ukraine.  

Upsetting senior Tories, former PM Boris Johnson flew back to Britain to drum up support for another win. Without sufficient support, Johnson changed his mind and said that he couldn’t govern with a unified party. In a BBC poll of 357 conservative MPs, only 227 were willing to go public with their support, Johnson came out far below Sunak. The runner-up ran against Truss last time.

  • Rishi Sunak – 146 MPs
  • Boris Johnson – 57 MPs
  • Penny Mordaunt – 24 MPs

Only Mordaunt and Sunak have announced they are running. A candidate requires at least 100 votes from MPs. If over two receive 100 or more votes, the one with the fewest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Conservative MPs then vote their preference between the two, and the candidates are then sent to the conservative party members who vote online. Last time, Truss was selected with 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) in a country with a population of over 67 million.

Fed up with gun violence in Canada, much less than in the U.S., Canada is banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of all handguns within the country and cannot bring them from outside the country. The bill was introduced after 19 children were killed in Uvalde (TX) on May 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship.”

A government buyback for assault-style rifles is planned, and further restrictions in Bill C-21 are being debated in the House of Commons.

Those who worry about President Joe Biden running again in 2024 at the age of 81 should consider that the GOP may elect a 90-year-old man to be third in succession for the president in 2022. He could hold that position for the next six years. Chuck Grassley could become President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, the position held by the most senior senator in the majority party. The current pro tem, 82-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is not seeking re-election. Resurgence against Grassley

Alaskan Republicans tried to do away with ranked choice voting in the state after Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for U.S. House. The state Supreme Court rejected their constitutional challenge.

A Miami judge dismissed one rigged arrest by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of a man convicted in 1991 who voted in 2020 after a clerk told him he was eligible to register to vote. The other 18 voter prosecutions may meet the same fate. Videos of the arrests show police officers not understanding the offense. A state constitutional amendment restores voting rights to most people with felonies, but Republicans said that they were ineligible until they paid all fines and fees.

Texas state police Capt. Joel Betancourt is under investigation because he ordered his officers to stay out of the school over 70 minutes while 19 children were massacred on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde (TX). State trooper Sgt. Juan Maldonado, the highest ranking officer at the scene at the Uvalde (TX) massacre of 19 children, was fired because he didn’t go into the building although arriving four minutes after the shooting began. He is the third law enforcement and first state police officer to be sacked for lack of response.

The postal service plans to implement “extraordinary measures” delivering ballots for 2022, compared to those measures opposing them two years. These new measures include extra deliveries and collections, special pickups, expanded hours at processing facilities, and fast-tracking ballots to election officials through and bypassing some standard mail processing procedures. Employees are also being trained to speed ballot deliveries. A joint task force between postal unions and management oversees ballot delivery. In a lawsuit settlement last year, the agency agreed to keep these measures for federal elections until at least 2028.

GOP Georgians have challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year regarding voting eligibility, but they can no longer do this with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their votes. About 97 percent of the challenges have been dismissed.  

A North Carolina judge has denied a GOP request to temporarily use signature-matching requirements for mail-in ballots; election officials must could these ballots even if the signature doesn’t exactly match the one on the voter registration record. County election boards will have the discretion to make the determination.

Federal officials will recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid and stop deporting those pardoned for crimes by a state board. The decision reverses a hard-line stance from DDT’s administration that changed six decades of practice by singling out Connecticut. DDT didn’t reverse the same practice in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah.

Same-gender spouses can qualify for a higher rate of survivor benefits requiring eight years of marriage even if they didn’t meet the mandate because of being unable to be married before the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, according to the VA. The agency now begins the duration of the rights beginning with when the couple established a “marriage-type” relationships including commitment ceremonies, joint banking accounts, or joint purchase of a home. Benefits are now retroactive to October 11, 2022.  

Last week, that Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy Twitter that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers. https://www.reuters.com/technology/twitters-workforce-likely-be-hit-with-massive-cuts-coming-months-report-2022-10-20/      Twitter said it isn’t true, but the current management planned to trim the payroll by $800 million, one-fourth of the workforce.

The EPA plans to investigate allegations of racist federal spending in Mississippi causing the Jackson city’s water system disaster. The state is suffering from another scandal, this one when former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money intended for low-income families. GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has joked about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson, 82 percent Black, while the water crisis in Jackson was dire. Leaders of two congressional committees are also starting a joint investigation into the crisis leaving most homes and businesses in Jackson without running water for several days in late August and early September.  NAACP President Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson with his family,

 Michigan opponents to an anti-abortion ballot proposal, Proposal 3, have found a new way to force child-birth on women by keeping a 1931 law: they falsely claim the measure to retain “reproductive rights” permits transgender minors can get sterilized by repealing parental consent laws.

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) lawyers tried to stall DDT’s problems from stealing classified documents by claiming that taking them was like having overdue library books, and President Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about preserving democracy that infuriated Republicans. More about that later while the judge decides whether to assign a “special master” for DDT but meanwhile lots of other news.

In the Alaska’s first ranked-choice election, Democrat Mary Peltola’s win by three percent came from half the people voting for GOP Nick Begich refusing to put Sarah Palin for their second choice—29 percent picked Peltola, and 21 percent didn’t vote for anyone. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), presidential wannabe, tweeted that the GOP-created ranked-choice voting process “is a scam to rig elections.” Peltola’s win was an 18-point overperformance for Democrats in a red state. In special elections since March 2021, Republicans were two percent over the estimated leaning for the winners before Roe v. Wade was overturned; after that, Democrats had an 11-percent lean.

Tony Ornato, DDT loyalist and deputy chief of staff for operations, retired two days before a scheduled interview with Inspector General investigators after stalling for two months. A top Secret Service official, Ornato may have tried to send VP Mike Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 6, 2022, so that the presidential counting of votes would be delayed. Pence refused to get into the car. Ornato also told DDT’s White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson DDT demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6 after the rally and lunged for the steering wheel when Ornato refused to drive him there. Having met with the House January 6 investigative committee twice about Pence’s location, Ornato said he will meet with the Inspector General investigators, but, as a private citizen, he cannot be required to do so with a testimonial subpoena.

The House committee has asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for an interview regarding his communications with DDT’s senior advisers, including Jason Miller and Jared Kushner, about television advertising claiming lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that Gingrich was part of the fake elector plot to persuade Pence and congressional members affecting the outcome of vote counting on January 6. Committee investigators interviewed witnesses during much of August and continue to receive many new documents while they work to recover missing texts from the Secret Service and Defense Department that the agencies wiped from phones of former and current officials.

Members are exploring identification of documents that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned in his office fireplace and other mishandling of documents. After the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Meadows made arrangements to return records to the National Archives.

The committee also interviewed some of DDT’s Cabinet secretaries including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao about their conversations after the insurrection in connection with invoking the 25th Amendment, the removal of a president on grounds of incapacitation, mental health or physical fitness. These discussions could show the serious problems of DDT’s behavior.

Former DDT White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 insurrection.

New information about Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may contribute to the January 6 investigation. She pushed state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well as Arizona to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Emails show emails to at least two Wisconsin state lawmakers appear to be pre-generated by Thomas, mirroring form letters she sent to 29 Arizona legislators asking them to interfere in the state’s slate of presidential electors. She told them to unilaterally choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors and “consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

Thomas’ push to overturn the election received scrutiny because of her husband’s refusal to recuse himself in a case about the House’s January 6 investigation. He was the only justice to publicly dissent from the Supreme Court’s move not to block a court order permitting House investigators to see DDT’s White House documents. Thomas also exchanged texts with Meadows in 2020 to persuade him in continuing the fight to overturn Biden’s win. Meadows gave these texts to the House select committee. Thomas has also openly opposed House investigation, calling on the two Republican members of the committee to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Owners of Fox network are defending itself in a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems with the position that media sources shouldn’t be punished for lying about the 2020 election. Dominion asks for $1.6 billion in damages and has moved into discovery with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro being deposed. According to the Fox argument, the First Amendment allows news organizations to lie about public figures if it’s not done knowingly and has no reckless disregard for the truth. A Delaware judge denied the motion to dismiss the suit last year and stated that the case should proceed and that “the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth.”  

On the flip side of the coin, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch’s son, is suing an Australian news outlet, accusing it of lying about Fox and its news about the election. Lachlan Murdoch contends an article calling the Murdoch family “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection and the preceding election lies caused him to be “gravely injured in his character, in his personal reputation, and his professional reputation.” Crikey, the independent outlet, had stated that if DDT is indicted, “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” The First Amendment protects the statement in the U.S., but Australia has no such protection.

The Murdochs will want to avoid discovery because opposing counsel has access to emails and other internal communication. Concern about discovery caused Fox to settle a suit with the family of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who Fox falsely accused of leaking emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election after Rich was shot and killed. In the Dominion lawsuit, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may be forced to join their hosts in being deposed. The owners claim they don’t make day-to-day decisions on programming or tell hosts what to say or not to say, but text messages prove the opposite.

A three-judge panel of the conservative 8th Circuit Court temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans children and teens. The court ruled that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” Last year, over 200 anti-trans bills were introduced in over 30 states, and many of them have passed. Lies sent about trans people include trans children receiving gender-confirming surgery. Conspiracy theorists have attacked Boston Children’s Hospital for its Gender Multispeciality Service program treating children with gender dysphoria, including a bomb threat this week.

A KKK plaque is installed at the entrance of Bartlett Hall, the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point (NY). It depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on a triptych titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.

Florida is rejecting donations of dictionaries after a freeze on new books in its libraries and classrooms so that parents have more control of school materials. In Sarasota, officials declined hundreds of dictionaries from a Venice Rotary Club’s donations. The group has donated over 4,000 dictionaries to the city’s elementary schools for almost 15 years in partnership with a nonprofit called the Dictionary Project. The law requires all “reading material” be “selected” by a certified education media specialist, but the district has none.

Texas loves God, as long as he’s straight, Christian, and English-speaking. A new law requires schools to display donated posters with “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. So parent Sravan Krishna tried to present a sign with the national motto in Arabic to a school district, and they refused after they tried to keep him from speaking. Muslims are the fifth-largest religious group in the state, and Texas has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. The law has no requirement for English, but the school board said they had enough signs. (The law also makes no requirement for the number of signs.)  In addition to presenting posters in Arabic, Krishna donated another one with “God” in rainbow colors. Although a lawyer has said that the motto must be in English, the colored one didn’t pass muster either. About 20 percent of youth in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.  

[Note the U.S. and Texas flag on the sign. According to the law, the sign must include them and only the words “In God We Trust”–nothing more.]

Despite GOP attempts to kill unions, their approval is at the highest point since 1965 at 71 percent. And just before Labor Day!

August 31, 2022

No Primaries – August 30, 2022, But DDT News Worse

No primaries this week, but Alaska declared Democrat Mary Peltola the winner of a special election for its one U.S. representative. A Yup’ik, Peltola is the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress, the first woman to represent Alaska in the U.S. House, and the first person to win Alaska’s new ranked-choice election process. Defeating GOP candidate Sarah Palin, endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Peltola won by three percent after receiving second-choice votes from the primary’s third-runner, Nick Begich, and will serve for four months. She is also competing against Begich and Palin in November 2022 for a two-year term beginning in January 2023. Peltola replaces GOP Don Young, who served for 49 years before he died in March 2022. Only the third representative since Alaska became a state in 1959, Young replaced Democrat Nicholas Begich, the current candidate’s grandfather, after he disappeared on a campaign flight from Anchorage to Juneau in late 1972.

The major news today, however, was information about the DOJ response to DDT’s motion for an independent “special master” to review all documents taken from Mar-a-Lago in an August search warrant. Just before the midnight deadline on August 30, the DOJ submitted its 36-page response with more news about DDT illegally hiding documents from the federal government.

The DOJ filing rebuts DDT’s claims about investigators’ private interactions with DDT and his lawyers. Although DDT’s counsel and other representatives claimed a “diligent search” in June, the FBI’s August search recovered twice as many classified documents in a few hours. The statement, signed by DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb, may be a legal problem for her because the statement, verifying the “diligent search” for “any and all” remaining and relevant documents, was delivered “on behalf of the Office of Donald J. Trump.” That indicates it was authorized by DDT himself.

DOJ’s filing also asserts that DDT’s attorneys moved so slowly that appointing a special master would be pointless. Investigators have already reviewed all the seized material except items set aside by the filter team. If the judge goes ahead to appoint the third party, DOJ recommends the person review seized records only for potential attorney-client privileged information and be required to have a top-level security clearance sufficient to reviewing classified documents. According to DOJ prosecutors, “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.” According to the DOJ, DDT’s motion is only to disrupt the investigation; if one is assigned, the response asks that the work be completed by September 30.

The DOJ may be adding to DDT’s criminal charges. The affidavit stated:

“There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contained classified NDI [national defense information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at [Trump’s residence].”

To justify its demand, DDT’s response added executive privilege but cited no cases in which former presidents have successfully prohibited sharing documents and made no such claim of priviege before the search. On Truth Social, DDT again claimed he had declassified the documents, but there is no proof he did so, and the law also covers unclassified documents.

DDT’s response to the DOJ states that the special master should decide questions of executive privilege as well as attorney-client privilege. Executive privilege doesn’t exist among one branch of government; the DOJ is part of the executive branch. Previously, the DOJ said that its team examining the seized materials “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, [and] completed its review of those materials.”

In their response, DDT’s lawyers assured that there was “no cause for alarm” about finding top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago that dealt with national security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is conducting a review of recovered materials regarding the potential risk from disclosure of the materials. DDT lawyers also accused prosecutors wh would “impugn, leak and publicize” details of its investigation without a special master. 

The judge has scheduled a hearing on September 1 at 1:00 pm EST to determine whether to appoint a special master.

One of DDT’s lawyers, Alina Habba, complained that the DOJ investigation into DDT’s mishandling classified documents is for “mundane” offences like “espionage,” mundane meaning “commonplace.” In 105 years, only 55 people have been convicted of espionage. Habba also submitted court filings asserting she performed a “comprehensive search” of Mar-a-Lago for a separate case in New York. She’s either lying, breaking the law, or a witness. Either way, she should be ineligible to represent DDT.  

A photo of classified documents scattered on the floor among DDT’s memorabilia has gone viral with a debate about its accuracy. Phillip Bump wrote that the carpet background is typical of Mar-a-Lago, and a post from DDT indicated that was the location. A photo scale (bottom of page) and a small marker, 2A (center right), indicates it is for documentation of materials found in a “leatherbound box of documents” (not shown) with a property receipt of contents. Classified Documents 1 and 2 are dated August 16, 2018, and Document 3 is dated May, 9, 2018, one day after DDT announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. None of the documents is marked “Declassified.”

The FBI has also newly unsealed a letter from May 25 from DDT’s attorney Evan Corcoran suggesting that the team plans to use the argument that DDT is above the law, trying to persuade the court that a law against keeping U.S. classified information at home doesn’t apply to DDT. According to legal experts, a president out of office is no longer president and becomes subject to laws applying to everyone else. The “good faith” argument that documents were mistakenly taken can be negated by DDT’s refusal to return them earlier and that there may still be more classified information at Mar-a-Lago.

DDT’s desperate attempts to add members to his legal team has been the joke of the media, but he finally found one—former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise. Unfortunately, he’ll have to pay Kise: the RNC has been floating funds for his legal problems but won’t pay for the problem with hiding the documents at Mar-a-Lago. At least he’s stashed most of the tens of millions of dollars donated to sue for the “stolen election” because he never followed through with the plan. Kise, formerly adviser to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ transition team, might want to get paid up front; DDT is known for not paying his bills.

A timeline for those who thus far escaped the ongoing saga of DDT and the stolen classified documents.

Soon after the Mar-a-Lago search, the “what abouts” started with the Clinton “lock her up” trope. The differences:

Federal officials searching Clinton’s emails found 193 with classified information when they were sent. Officials have found over 322 documents with classified information, many of them top secret and some of them in a desk drawer at Mar-a-Lago. Investigators found “a conscious effort to avoid sending classified information, by writing around the most sensitive material.”

Contrary to DDT’s former CIA director Mike Pompeo’s comment, federal investigators obtained Clinton’s materials at her home. The FBI took over 30 devices from Clinton and her aide and received consent for their searches. Evidence center to DDT’s ongoing investigation were never voluntarily turned over despite government requests.

The government could find no evidence that Clinton acted “willfully,” unlike DDT’s behavior.

Clinton’s emails showed no evidence that either she or the recipient was aware that the content was classified. Documents at Mar-a-Lago were labeled with different classified levels with no indication of declassification.

Clinton’s emails, expected to be preserved in other sources and/or acquired from other devices, had been deleted from servers; DDT’s documents were originals and lying around in plain sight.

Columnist Jennifer Rubin points out that GOP candidates are caught in the middle, either defending what is becoming increasingly indefensible or risking votes by cutting loose their cult leader. They also risk ridicule from Democrats who accuse the defense hawks of having flagrant disregard for national security and irrationally strike out at government officials protecting U.S. secrets.

The current solution for Republicans is to go silent. Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened “riots in the streets” if anyone prosecute DDT. After backlash, he backed down and said he would never say such a thing. Now he says nothing. When asked about the probe into DDT, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he has “no observations.” Republicans campaigning last week with their rage about the misnamed FBI “raid,” including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have no comment today.

Retirement for DDT means he has time to retweet QAnon accounts on his Truth Social—18 different posts in 12 different accounts within 60 hours. In between, he attacked the DOJ and AG Merrick Garland as well as pushing his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s book, described as “one of the worst political memoirs in recent history.” 

Recent polls: 76 percent are following the news about removal of classified documents; 59 percent think DDT acted inappropriately in taking them; and 64 percent think the allegations are serious.

The next two Tuesdays finish the 2022 primary round with elections in Massachusetts on September 6 and Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island on September 13. Only Louisiana doesn’t hold a primary before the general election.

August 24, 2022

Primaries – August 24, 2022

With two more Tuesdays of primaries before the general election, Florida voted for all its candidates, New York cleaned up candidates for state and federal districts after the map had to be redrawn, and Oklahoma decided 11 GOP runoffs. No Democratic runoffs were necessary because all those elections had winners with at least 50 percent, and five legislative races were settled because of no competition from another party.  

The primary in the Empire State is the second in just eight weeks because the state Supreme Court ruled the earlier revised maps were unconstitutional. ordered the redrawing of district maps because the revised ones were unconstitutional. On June 28, 2022, New York Democrats voted for Gov. Kathy Hochul to be their candidate this fall, but congressional and state senate decisions were made with the vote on August 23.

In a special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District, voters selected Democrat Pat Ryan despite positive polling for Republican Marc Molinaro. Ryan replaces Rep. Antonio Delgado (D), the new state lieutenant governor, and will run in the fall for a full term in the newly redrawn 18th District. His campaign on access to abortion makes his win “a huge victory” for Democrats in a “bellwether” district,” the first election to use this campaign issue, according to Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman. Ryan also won by over three percent in a district that went for President Joe Biden by only 1.5 percent.

In New York’s conservative 23rd Congressional District, GOP Joe Sempolinski’s win was narrower than expected, 53 to 47 percent, in a district DDT won by 12 points in 2020. Sempolinski will not be running for the full term this fall. 

Florida:

Current Gov. Ron DeSantis, unopposed in the GOP primary, will run against former Gov. Charlie Crist, currently a U.S. representative who changed parties in 2011 after his gubernatorial election in 2007, moving first to unaffiliated and then to Democrat. With almost 60 percent of the vote, Crist defeated three opponents. His victory speech showed his campaign against DeSantis; Crist is running on “fundamental freedom,” including “a woman’s right to choose” in a time of “extremist” Republicans, who “want to turn back the clock on our freedom.” In opposition to DeSantis, Crist said he will make voting easier and reinstate legally elected Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, fired by DeSantis for a declaration he wouldn’t prosecute women seeking an abortion and replaced him with an ally. Another Crist campaign issue is DeSantis’ refusal to call out GOP Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez for suggesting Cubans “illegally” in the state should be bused to Delaware.

Anna Paulina Luna, who brought the most money to the campaign with $1.9 as well as DDT’s endorsement, won Crist’s current 13th Congressional District that he’s leaving to run for governor. The district is predicted to turn red.

Val Demings defeated her three opponents with almost 85 percent of the vote. She faces GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who was uncontested in his primary. Her former blue district picked Gen Z Afro-Cuban Maxwell Frost, 25, for the Democratic candidate over former Reps. Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, who had been in prison for mail and tax fraud, as well as seven other candidates. If he wins in the blue district, Frost will be the first Gen Z member of Congress. 

Rep. Daniel Webster won the GOP primary for the 11th Congressional District, setting off histrionics from competitor and self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer, 29, who lost by six points. “I’m not conceding, because I’m a winner,” Loomer declared, pushing falsehoods of election fraud against other Republicans. A conspiracy theorist and contributor to Alex Jones‘ far-right conspiracy media platform Infowars, she has been banned by mainstream social networks Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Medium; payment platforms Paypal, Venmo, GoFundMe and Chase; ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft—even the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC. On Loomer’s Telegram channel, a supporter wrote, “OUR ENEMIES EAT BABIES.” She received over 37,000 votes in a district from Tampa east, including the huge, predominantly GOP retirement development The Villages.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, DDT-endorsed and under investigation for sex trafficking, won the GOP primary in the First Congressional District. His opponent in November is Rebekah Jones, fired from the Department of Health for her unwillingness to falsify COVID numbers.

School boards are where DeSantis won big time in Florida: at least 21 of his 30 hand-picked “parent-centered,” anti-woke candidates won their elections. Nonpartisan school boards are gone. The school district with 45,000 students in Sarasota County flipped to DeSantis’ conservative majority, 4-1. They plan leaving “CRT out of the classroom,” keeping “boys out of girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms,” and “sexual education focused on biology, not pleasure or gender theory.”

Florida’s turnout was light, perhaps 25 percent of registered voters.

New York: 

DDT is now not only endorsing sure candidates but also Democrats, in this case two incumbent representatives running against each other in the same district—Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler—and the lead counsel for his impeachment, Dan Goldman. In all three cases, he lavishly praised the candidates despite his recent attack against Goldman. Maloney leads a House Oversight Committee investigation into DDT’s storage of documents at Mar-a-Lago, and Nadler leads the House Judiciary Committee. DDT won two out of three.

Rep. Jerry Nadler defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the 12th Congressional District, perhaps because of how the map was drawn.

Dan Goldman, the richest candidate in the race for the 10th Congressional District, put $4 million of his own money into the race. Among the dozen candidates, Goldman received over 25 percent of the vote, beating another incumbent from another district, Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Black gay man going to the U.S. House after his win in the last election. Heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, Goldman, an MSNBC analyst, was endorsed by the New York Times.

Rep. Sean Maloney won the Democratic candidacy in the 17th Congressional District where Jones was the incumbent. He was supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Bill Clinton while his Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and progressive organizations supported the opponent, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Oklahoma:

Ally Seifried defeated Christian Nationalist Jarrin Jackson for GOP state senate candidate, known for his anti-Semitic statements. Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who claims she “absolutely denounces bigotry in all its forms,” endorsed Jackson. Outrage caused Lake to rescind her endorsement.

Gloria Banister defeated Scott Esk, another bigot, in state House District 87. In 2013, while running in another election, he said “homosexuals” should be executed and repeated his sentiment the next year, using the Old Testament to justify his comments, when he advocated stoning gays. He said his position just “makes me a Christian” to “the voters of House District 87.”

As the counting for one federal House member from Alaska in a ranked-vote voting grinds on, Democrat Mary Pertola is 13,000 votes ahead of two GOP competitors—including former Gov. and VP candidate Sarah Palin. Alaska gave Palin a 37 percent approval rating

According to FairVote, an elections nonprofit, primaries can be divided into three categories: open primaries, in which voters choose any party’s primary no matter their voter affiliation; closed primaries, in which voters are restricted to the primary of their registered party; and semi-closed primaries, in which voters vote in only the primary of their registered parties unless they are unaffiliated and can choose whichever party election they choose. Twenty states have open primaries, and 10 states have closed primaries but some of them allow voters to change their registration on election day. Ten states also require a majority of votes instead of a plurality; without a majority, the top two candidates return for a runoff. Two states, Alaska and Maine, have a ranked-choice vote system.

The Supreme Court announcement that it was overturning Roe v. Wade came almost exactly in the middle of primary season, with 24 primaries after June 24. Since that date, states, especially red ones, have seen a surge in women registering to vote with the numbers far greater than for men registering, especially where reproductive rights are at risk. Kansas women out-registered men by 40 percent with 70 percent of new registrants women. Michigan women out registered men by 8.1 percent, and Wisconsin women have almost doubled that percentage.

Another phenomenon is the shift in support for reproductive rights by Latinx in the U.S. In 2019, only 45 percent favored abortion legalization in almost all cases. In a recent poll, 76 percent of Latinx agreed with this statement:

“No matter what my personal beliefs about abortion are, I think it is wrong to make abortion illegal and take that choice away from everyone else.”

Subgroups of Latinx supported the statement by majorities: Catholics, 76 percent; non-Catholic Christians, 68 percent, Republicans, 55 percent; Latino, 72 percent; and Latina, 85 percent. Nineteen percent listed abortion as one of top important issues, for the first time being one of the top five. Almost 12 million Latinos will likely vote in November 2022, and many of them will be considering their candidates’ positions on women’s reproductive rights.

Two more Tuesdays of primaries: September 6 – Massachusetts; and September 13 – Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

August 17, 2022

Primaries – August 16, 2022

Yesterday’s primaries in two states featuring three women—Liz Cheney, Lisa Murkowski, and Sarah Pain—hit the media, one with a decision within hours and the other not decided for several days.

Alaska:

State election officials hope to have some results on August 23 and 26 with final numbers at the end of the month. The reason is the new ranked-voting system passed through ballot initiative last year and used for the first time this year.

For primaries, the top four candidates move on to the general election. In the election to replace the late Rep. Don Young, Alaska’s only U.S. representative, winning Democrat Mary Peltola and two GOP opponents Sarah Palin and Nick Begich, move to the November general election along with the undeclared fourth person in the contest. If one of the four candidates don’t get at least 50 percent, votes are redistributed until one person gets the majority. Palin hates the system, perhaps because the intention was to elect politicians with a wider rather than a narrower appeal. Maine was the first state to employ this ranked voting.

Peltola and Palin were winners in the special election to replace Young until 2023, and a ranked system is employed because neither of them received 50 percent of the vote. For voters who picked Begich, their second-choice votes are assigned to that pick. In an attempt to rig the system, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) told Palin voters “to pick only one” candidate, but that system would lessen the possibility of a Republican winning the seat by losing any power to rank a second choice. If enough voters pick only one candidate or select Peltola for their second choice, she could go to Washington for four months this fall.

Palin’s former in-laws won’t be voting for her, and they threw a big pre-Election Night party for opponent Nick Begich. As far back as her vice-president candidacy, they questioned Palin’s ability. Faye Palin said about Sarah Palin, “I’m not sure what she brings to the ticket other than she’s a woman and a conservative.” Sarah and Todd Palin were divorced in 2020 at Todd’s choice.

Lisa Murkowski, DDT’s target for losing the election, came in first of 19 candidates for U.S. Senate but didn’t rise to 50 percent of the vote. She is the only senator to vote to convict DDT in his second impeachment trial. Murkowski will compete against DDT-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka, who moved to Alaska to run for the position, and two others, not yet identified. The four candidates will follow the same one as Palin and her three candidates in the November election. Tshibaka is only four points behind Murkowski, but she may lose some of that lead because Election Day votes counted first would be more favorable to her. Murkowski’s top Democratic opponent also received only six percent of the vote indicating that she may be the choice for Democrats.

Carpetbagger Tshibaka, who returned to the state for the election and was investigated when she applied for a residential fishing permit after eight months residency. This permit requires one year living in the state. She also kept her Maryland voting registration when she applied to vote in Alaska. Murkowski has such a strong presence that she won her 2010 campaign as an independent after losing the GOP primary. At the end of December 2010, she was certified the winner over Joe Miller with 101,091 votes to his 90,839 even after he filed a lawsuit against her write-ins and won some of his conditions before the state Supreme Court.  

Mike Dunleavy will go to the general election for the gubernatorial seat and follow the same ranked-vote process with three others. DDT gave Dunleavy “Complete and Total Endorsement”—”subject to his non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski…  In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect.” Dunleavy didn’t “non-endorse” Murkowski, but he did say DDT “has nothing to worry about which seemed to satisfy DDT.

Wyoming:

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) lost her election to DDT-endorsed Harriet Hageman, as predicted, by over 37 points after she supported the constitution instead of DDT. He declared the primary the most important in the nation, and his attacks against her were so severe that she couldn’t campaign in open venues. Threats of violence by DDT’s supporters forced her to have invite-only house parties and not provide advance notice about her travel in the state.

DDT was so desperate to elect her opponent that he and Republicans used an obscure shell company to fund Cheney’s primary challenger, violating the “straw donor” ban in the Federal Election Campaign Act forbidding contributions using another’s name. One donation was for $50,000.

In an early July debate with her opponents, Cheney, the vice-chair of the House January 6 investigative committee, challenged Hageman to prove her statement that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and that DDT won the election. To win the election, Hageman reversed her position from 2016 when she called DDT a “racist and xenophobe” and said this about Liz Cheney:

“I know Liz Cheney is a proven, courageous, constitutional conservative, someone who has the education, the background, and the experience to fight effectively for Wyoming on a national stage.”

In accepting the Profile of Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, Cheney said, “Everyone has a duty to set aside partisan battles and stand together to preserve our great republic.” She posted the transcript and video of her remarks on her congressional site. Kennedy’s grandson presented Cheney with the award while his mother, Ambassador Caroline Kennedy watched.

Chuck Gray, a DDT-endorsed election conspiracy theorist stating that President Joe Biden was not elected in 2020, won the GOP race for secretary of state in charge of elections. Democrats had no candidates so he has been de facto elected.

The Lincoln Project, a group of Republicans opposing DDT, may agree with him about the importance of Cheney’s loss: the organization declared her loss is the death of the GOP:

“Tonight, the nation marks the end of the Republican Party. What remains shares the name and branding of the traditional GOP, but is in fact an authoritarian nationalist cult dedicated only to Donald Trump… Liz Cheney stood up to the lawless, reckless attack on our nation led by Donald Trump, and millions of Americans saw leadership that transcended ideological boundaries… She remains an essential leader of the pro-democracy forces in the United States today and we encourage her to continue to engage in the fight to save our Republic and protect our democracy.”

The Lincoln Project describes itself as a pro-democracy organization dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy.

Updates:

DDT is endorsing candidates without consulting them. It appears he is selecting those most likely to be elected because of polling or no opponents in the primaries.

During her campaign, newly-elected DA Coty Wamp in Tennessee’s Hamilton County said she might prosecute librarians and teachers who have LGBTQ books in libraries because the content “is called contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” Now she says she never made that claim. The far-right group Moms for Liberty is disappointed.

The Senate GOP Campaign Arm pulled $13.5 million in targeted advertising from Arizona (Blake Masters), Nevada (Adam Laxalt), Pennsylvania (Mehmet Oz), and Wisconsin (Ron Johnson) since August 1. All of them are losing in the polls. Chris Hartline, NRSC communications director, said the money had been transferred into independent expenditures to coordinate with campaigns but didn’t give the amount. States have limited coordinated amounts; in Arizona no more than $622,000.  Masters received $15 million from billionaire Peter Thiel but has only $1.6 million remaining, compared to the $24.8 million that his Democratic opponent, Mark Kelly, has. 

Blake Masters, Arizona’s GOP U.S. Senate candidate, tried to separate himself from the white supremacists, but Andrew Torba, founder of the far-right social media platform Gab, said “it’s a flat-out lie” that Masters doesn’t know who Torba is. The response was to Masters’ rejection of Torba’s endorsement in the Arizona Mirror where the candidate stated, “I’ve never heard of the guy … because he’s a nobody and nobody cares about him except the media.” DDT had endorsed Masters. Torba wrote back that Masters is “already become a typical politician before he is even elected!”

Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, may face a criminal investigation for a “dubious petitioning effort” to add third parties to the August 23 primary ballot who would siphon votes away from Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul. Signed Independence Party petitions were dropped at the GOP party headquarters—and bound in volumes—before submission to the state Board of Elections on the May 31 deadline.” According to the Times Union, almost 20 percent of the 52,000 signatures required to put “upstart third parties” on the ballot were “xeroxed copies of other, original signatures within those same records interspersed in a manner leading some election experts to conclude their inclusion may have been intentional, possibly to inflate the number of signatures to surpass the daunting new threshold of 45,000 valid signatures for upstart state parties to gain ballot access.” Over 12,800 signatures were invalid, including over 11,000 photocopied ones. The total was 6,000 short of an Independence Party ballot line to sway certain close elections for GOP candidates.” Another example of Republican “election integrity.”

September 23, 2021

COVID Unvaccinated Leads to Less Health Care, Increased Costs

Over four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointed Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn lasted three weeks before DDT fired him, ostensibly because Flynn “lied” to VP Mike Pence although there were several other reasons. Before DDT left the Oval Office he pardoned Flynn who had pled guilty to lying to the FBI as well as other multiple charges and who plotted the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Now Flynn stated that the “deep state” (aka people who don’t believe in QAnon conspiracy theories) plans to put COVID vaccine in salad dressing to impose their will on “us.”

Flynn is part of the cabal bringing death to people in the United States through the anti-vax movement. Over a decade ago, one of my friends complained that the Affordable Care Act would kill people because it would cause a shortage of doctors. People didn’t die, however, because millions more people had health insurance. But in 2021, conservatives are killing people because they refuse to be vaccinated.

A huge influx of seriously ill—unvaccinated—people has been inundating the hospitals for months, blocking necessary access for those who need medical care such as dialysis and ventilators as well as for others who have cancer, heart issues, dialysis, etc. from necessary access. Now hospitals are denying this care in at least three states—Alaska, Idaho, and Montana—where hospitals are rationing health care. And all because people refuse to be vaccinated. These three states have declared “crisis standards,” which uses legal protection in prioritizing care. Qualifications include both health issues and roles in society, i.e., higher status for health-care workers or politicians with essential responsibilities. Arizona and New Mexico had declared crisis standards in some hospitals for short periods in 2020.

Only 40 percent of people in Idaho are vaccinated, and the state has no mandated masks or other health requirements. A regional health board just appointed a doctor who called COVID vaccinates “fake.” One hospital still not declaring the crisis standard has delayed elective and nonurgent surgeries and checks vital signs less often. The state’s crisis plan prioritizes children through 17 years old, pregnant women, adults from younger to older, and patients who “perform tasks that are vital to the public health response of the crisis at hand.” Those who don’t meet the standards will receive palliative care. One patient suffering a major trauma was sent 800 miles away to Sacramento.

In Montana one hospital said its ICU was operating at 150 percent, and another said shortage of medications keeps them from treating everyone. Oxygen may be administered without monitoring. People going to Providence Alaska Medical Center emergency room must wait in their cars for care, and the hospital has no more staffed beds. Only 48 percent of people in the state are vaccinated.

Another reason for overloaded hospitals is the myth that Ivermectin will protect people from COVID. In rural Oklahoma, emergency rooms and ambulances are backed up because people are taking doses meant for a 1,000-pound horse. One doctor said that gunshot victims have trouble getting into places where they can get care, and ambulances have to wait at the hospital for beds to open up. Symptoms in minor Ivermectin cases are nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, cramping, and don’t forget the inability to control bowels. Worse than that is vision loss, coming from a medication with no evidence of being effective against COVID. A recent review of 14 Ivermectin studies, with more than 1,600 participants, show no help for preventing COVID, and another 31 studies are still underway. One of the biggest trials, the Together Trial, was stopped on August 6 because Ivermectin was no better at a placebo in preventing hospitalization of a longer stay in the emergency room. The leader of the study said that the study would have been halted earlier for no evidence except for the public interest in the drug.

Even states with more vaccinated people, such as California and Washington, are experiencing the “tipping point” of care as people from those crisis states flood into other areas. Hawaii’s governor signed an order releasing health-care facilities and workers from liability if they must ration health care. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Idaho Governor to stop “clogging up my hospitals.”

This week, the U.S. averaged 153,000 new covid cases and 1,940 deaths each day. Today, clearly identified COVID deaths are 252 short of 700,000, and 2,228 people died in the past day. The so-called Spanish flu of 1918-19 killed 675,000 people, and fewer than the number of those who died from combat in all the American wars.

  WellSpan Health, a health care system covering South-Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland reports younger and sicker COVID patients—and  90 percent of them are unvaccinated. Despite this knowledge, the stupidity and ignorance of anti-vaxxers and their leaders continues.

While unvaccinated people block those with vaccinations from hospitals, the latter is paying hospital expenses for the 98 percent of people who want the freedom to infect themselves and others. The average hospitalization cost of between $20,000 and $24,000 with ventilators far more expensive is paid by taxpayers and insurance that increases because of vastly higher premiums. An analysis of data shows 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June, 68,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, and another 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. in August, for a total of 287,000 across the three months. These costs do not reflect the medical expenses of “long-haul” COVID and welfare for those who cannot work because of the aftereffects of the disease that unvaccinated people chose to contract.

Insurance companies, however, are getting fed up with make huge payments for unvaccinated people. Most of the private and group health plans no longer waive “cost-sharing,” co-pays and deductibles, for COVID treatment, including hospitalization. The change could mean thousands of dollars sick people may have to pay. Preventable hospitalization for June through August ran over $5 billion.

This story sounds like satire, but the mind of conservatives can sometimes be hard to fathom.  Breitbart News’ John Nolte talked with Howard Stern about a conspiracy theory that vaccine-believers are using “reverse psychology” to kill off “Trump supporters.” By pushing vaccines, conservatives won’t take them, and they will die.  Nolte wrote:

“Do you want to know why I think Howard Stern is going full-monster with his mockery of three fellow human beings who died of the coronavirus? Because leftists like Stern and CNNLOL and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci are deliberately looking to manipulate Trump supporters into not getting vaccinated. If I wanted to use reverse psychology to convince people not to get a life-saving vaccination, I would do exactly what Stern and the left are doing…. I would bully and taunt and mock and ridicule you for not getting vaccinated, knowing the human response would be: Hey, f**k you, I’m never getting vaccinated! And why is that a perfectly human response? Because no one ever wants to feel like they are being bullied or ridiculed or mocked or pushed into doing anything.”

With religious exemptions from mandated vaccinations growing popular, Arkansas’ hospital system Conway Regional Health System now gives those exemptions only to people who swear off medications and other vaccinations with the same issues as the COVID vaccine. Their objection to put a substance with fetal cell lines into their bodies also applies to over-the-counter medications including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Lipitor, Senokot, ibuprofen, Maalox, Benadryl, Sudafed, Claritin, Zoloft, etc. People signing up for religious exemptions to COVID vaccines are also prevented from vaccines such as those for measles, mumps, and rubella. All these medications/vaccines and more were developed using fetal cell lines. A religious exemption also lasts as long as it takes the person time to get another job.

The number of people objecting to vaccine mandates is shrinking. Across the U.S. between 53 and 61 percent of people want proof of vaccination for restaurants, hotels, offices or work sites, events with large crowds, and flying, percentages all up from April.

One reason people say they won’t get vaccinated is that it leads to sterility and sexual disfunction. Studies, however, show they are wrong; instead, contracting the virus causes problems in pregnancy, menstrual cycles, erectile performance, or sperm quality. Pregnant women will get infected more quickly without vaccinations. So not getting vaccinated leads to the sexual problems they fear as well as possibly death.

June 16, 2021

Biden Returns, World Changes Continue

President Joe Biden has returned from eight days in Europe—misnamed “vacation” by my conservative newspaper from Eugene (OR)—and ruffled few feathers. Compared to the ongoing disaster from any time Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) left the U.S., the trip appeared productive and short on viral media attention. Six of the G7 countries refused to hold a summit in 2019 because of DDT’s egregious behavior. The Republican National Committee (RNC), however, decided to create controversy.

Biden’s culminating activity of his three-country diplomatic tour was a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. RNC Communications Director Danielle Alvarez accused Biden of giving Putin a “win,” just by the act of meeting with him, and damned Biden’s “foreign policy failures” that have “strengthened Russia at the expense of our country.” Republicans obviously forgot their support of their man in the White House owned by Putin while GOP legislatures refused to block Russian interference in the presidential elections when DDT was a candidate.

In Helsinki, DDT stood next to Putin, saying he believed the Russian president’s statement that he didn’t interfere and didn’t “see any reason why” Russia would have interfered in 2016, contradicting U.S. intelligence agencies.

Republicans are walking a very fine line, trying to look tough on Russia while kissing the ring of the man who supported Russia in everything it does.

A few of Biden’s accomplishments:

  • Reassurance that the U.S. will be a part of the democratic part of the world by being a more reliable diplomatic presence;
  • Meeting with NATO allies to promise a “rock solid and unshakable” military alliance;
  • A pledge of 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to the world to speed up vaccinations;
  • A joint communiqué from the G7 endorsing a global minimum tax for equity and financing infrastructure projects in the developing world to counter China’s influence;
  • Response to “China’s nonmarket conomic practices and the need to speak out against human rights abuses”;
  • The need for “supply chain resilience and technology standards so that democracies are aligned and supporting each other”;
  • An overhaul of international tax laws to ban large multinational companies from locating tax havens;
  • An investigation of COVID origins in china;
  • Alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, its overseas lending and investing push spread across Africa, Latin America, and into Europe;
  • Freeze on the huge 17-year-old trade dispute between Boeing and Airbus to focus on new competition, possibly from China.

Biden participated in the G7 Summit experiencing success in the world’s respect. When DDT left the White House, he asked Biden not to lose the mythical respect he thought he had gained for the United States. At the end of DDT’s four years, 83 percent of 16 countries lacked confidence in the U.S. president to do the right thing about world affairs whereas 17 percent did. Just a few months into his first term, Biden flipped that lack of confidence in the U.S.: 75 percent of these respondents have confidence in the president, and 22 percent don’t. DDT’s finish had a 63-percent unfavorable view of the U.S. with a 34 percent favorable perspective. The view under Biden is just the opposite—62 percent favorable and 36 percent not.  

A recent example of renewed favorability came after Biden’s conversation with the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “It’s a breath of fresh air,” Johnson said about his discussion with Biden regarding what they can accomplish together.

A few nuances keep the U.S. from more positive views, such as using the U.S. as a model of democracy. That, however, is the fault of the GOP and not the president. Republicans are fond of complaining about how Democratic presidents lose “the trust and confidence of our friends,” as Jeb Bush insisted about the Barack administration. Yet President Obama largely repaired the Bush/Cheney damage, and Biden is doing the same thing for the DDT devastation.

While Biden was away from the U.S., Israel’s parliament rejected Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, but he’s playing the same game that people feared DDT would: he won’t leave the prime minister’s residence. Instead he’s staying there and entertaining foreign dignitaries. Netanyahu stayed at the official residence for six weeks after he was last voted out of office in 1999.

In the United States, Fox’s Tucker Carlson spread another baseless conspiracy theory about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, that the attack was organized by FBI agents who were present at the riot. Thus far, over 500 of the 800 people in the Capitol have been charged, but Carlson focused on the others who he called FBI operatives. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are promoting the lies.

Last Friday, AG Merrick Garland called the expansion of voting rights “to all eligible citizens” a “central pillar” to democracy in the U.S. He promised the DOJ would protect this democracy and doubled the Civil Rights Division’s voting rights enforcement staff with an additional members within 30 days. In addition, he promised to scrutinize “post-election audits to ensure they abide by federal statutory requirements to protect election records and avoid the intimidation of voters.” Garland asked for Congressional help from Congress to pass two bills waiting for Senate action: the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. 

Garland also laid out his strategy to combat domestic terrorism, tying it to the violence of the January 6 insurrection. Citing a number of domestic violence in recent history, he addressed threats by White supremacists and right-wing militia to be stopped by shared information on all government levels, prevention of domestic terrorism recruitment and violent mobilization, blocking domestic terrorism activity, and confronting long-term contributors to domestic terrorism. The task will tackle racism, gun violence, and mass murders with attention to mental health and education promoting tolerance and respect.

At the request of the House Intelligence Committee Democrats, the DOJ’s inspector general is investigating DOJ’s past probes into DDT’s political enemies, including subpoenas collecting metadata from lawmakers, staff, and some family members. DDT even subpoenaed information about his own White House Counsel Don McGahn. Microsoft also received a subpoena in 2017 for a congressional staffer’s personal email account, also with a gag order. DDT’s former AGs Jeff Session and Bill Barr say they know nothing about the investigation. Democratic lawmakers want Barr and Sessions to testify under oath about the investigations. Republicans are determined to block any subpoenas for them. Barr may have lied during his confirmation hearings when he said he knew nothing about whether DDT had pressed the DOJ to open any investigations.

The Pulitzer Board gave Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she recorded the police officer killing Floyd, a special citation for the video which went viral and led to protests around the world. It was likely an important factor in the policeman’s conviction. The board honored Frazier for “highlighting the crucial role of citizens in journalists’ quest for truth and justice.”

An Alaska indigenous corporation owning 44,000 acres of land near Bristol Bay voted to sell conservation easements to an environmental nonprofit, destroying plans to build a gold and copper mine eliminating the world’s most prolific sockeye salmon fishery. The mining industry has fought for 40 years to buy the easements, but the easements can protect the area from developments, including the mining operation’s plan for an 82-mile road and contamination from the proposed Pebble Mine.

Biden is moving to “repeal or replace” DDT’s rule permitting roads and other developments in over half Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, protected at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term. George W. Bush held timber sales in the national forest before a judge reinstated Clinton’s rule.

Reagan National University in Sioux Falls (SD) lost its accreditation—and federal funds—given by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who resuscitated a questionable accrediting agency. The school has no students, no faculty, and no classrooms. The agency, which accredited other for-profit schools closing after stealing billions of dollars from students, is also gone.

Former Oregon legislator Mike Nearman made history when he was the first legislative member expelled from the House in its 162 years. He was the only person to vote for him to remain; 22 other Republicans voted against him. During a special session on December 21, Nearman had opened a door in the state capitol allowing violent armed protesters to enter after telling them to text him. He faces criminal misconduct charges. 

Update: A veteran who had his speech censored when the Hudson (OH) American Legion chapter leaders cut off his microphone will give that speech at the Legion’s Buckeye Boys State, teaching male youth about government. In a speech commemorating Memorial Day, Retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter gave the days history about freed Black slaves beginning the tradition when they honored fallen Union soldiers during the Civil War by burying them, decorating their graves, and holding a parade for them. The Legion chapter is temporarily suspended with a meeting to discuss its future schedule later this month.

January 10, 2013

Shell Drilling Would Destroy Arctic Waters

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:34 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Shell Oil has spent almost $5 billion trying to set up offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, but the disaster at the end of December will hopefully prevent them from doing this—at least for a while. On New Year’s Eve, the 28,000-ton Kulluk, carrying about 140,000 gallons of diesel, grounded near Kodiak Island, Alaska, after losing its towing lines in heavy winds. The Coast Guard is coordinating a 500-plus person response to figure out the damage, but no one knows when or how they can regain control of the massive hulk.

One thing that is known is that Shell was most likely moving the rig in very harsh conditions to save $6 million in state taxes that they would pay if the rig stayed in Alaska waters on January 1. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has provided detailed information about this situation. Bad news for Shell: it’s still in Alaska waters. This is the company that wants rights to drill offshore in Arctic waters.

Some of Shell’s 2012 problems:

  • February: A Government Accountability Office report identified challenges related to Arctic offshore drilling and concluding that Shell’s “dedicated capabilities do not completely mitigate some of the environmental and logistical risks associated with the remoteness and environment of the region.”
  • February: Sixty members of congress, nearly 400,000 American citizens and 573 scientists urged the administration to halt Arctic offshore drilling.
  • April: Lloyd’s of London warned that responding to an oil spill in a region that is “highly sensitive to damage” would present “multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk.” (Does that mean no insurance?)
  • April: German bank WestLB refused to provide financing for any offshore oil or gas drilling in the Arctic, saying the “risks and costs are simply too high.”
  • July: Shell lost control of its Noble Discoverer rig when the vessel slipped its mooring and came close to running aground in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
  • July: Shell’s oil spill response barge, a key piece of oil spill response equipment, repeatedly failed to get Coast Guard certification keeping Shell from beginning drilling work on schedule.
  • August: Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil announces it will suspend its own plans to drill offshore in the Alaskan Arctic Ocean after watching Shell’s struggles. They said they were going to watch Shell before deciding to drill there.
  • September: A British parliamentary committee called for a halt to drilling in the Arctic Ocean until necessary steps are taken to protect the region from the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill.
  • September: France-based Total SA, the fourth largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world, became the first major oil producer to admit that offshore drilling in Arctic waters is a risky idea, saying such operations could be a “disaster” and warning other companies against drilling in the region.
  • September: Shell’s containment barge repeatedly failed to receive Coast Guard approval which forced Shell to postpone exploratory drilling operations until 2013 and settle instead for beginning to drill two non-oil producing preparatory wells.
  • September: Shell suspends drilling as a massive ice pack covering approximately 360 square miles drifts toward the site just one day after starting its preparatory drilling.
  • November: More than a week after preparatory drilling ended for the season, Shell experienced a number of complications when it tried to get its Kulluk rig out of the Beaufort Sea more than a week after the preparatory drilling season ended.
  • December: Internal emails between Interior Department officials showed that the September test of Shell’s oil spill containment system was not just a failure but a complete disaster. The containment dome “breached like a whale” and was “crushed like a beer can” – and all in the comparatively temperate waters of Puget Sound.
  • December: Shell’s second drilling rig, Kulluk, slips its cables while being towed out of Alaska waters on an accelerated schedule in order to dodge paying Alaska taxes in 2013. The rig, along with its 150,000 gallons of fuel and drilling fluid, washes up on an uninhabited island along one of Alaska’s most pristine coastlines.

Yet in June, June, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters “I believe there’s not going to be an oil spill.” The next month, Shell changed its spill response statement from recovering 95 percent of any spilled oil to encountering  95 percent of spilled oil with no provisions regarding what they would collect. Salazar now says the administration is committed to having exploration of oil in that region, but he isn’t sure it would happen this year. The Obama Administrations has ordered a sweeping review of Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic.

Drilling rig Kulluk, photo from Alaska Dispatch

Drilling rig Kulluk, photo from Alaska Dispatch

Why can’t people trust Shell’s offshore drilling? Here are a few reasons beyond the company’s preference to save tax money rather than the environment:

  • Shell has no idea how much an oil spill clean-up would cost. That’s the word from Peter Velez, Shell’s head of emergency response in the Arctic.
  • Shell’s barge, the Arctic Challenger, was not deemed safe enough by the US government. The 36-year-old barge used to drag safety equipment through the ice is “no longer appropriate” for the Arctic environment—according to Shell!
  • The U.S. Coast Guard is “not confident” with Shell’s dispersants in the event of an oil spill. The commandant said, “I’m not confident what it will do in the colder water up in Alaska.”
  • Shell’s drill ship runs aground in a “stiff breeze.” The Noble Discoverer ran aground in the sheltered and relatively calm Dutch Harbour, Alaska, in a 35mph wind. Both this drill ship and the Kulluk are old, rusty vessels, and the Kulluk was mothballed for the last 13 years.
  • Shell’s drill ship catches fire. The Noble Discoverer caught fire when it returned to Dutch Harbour last November; the fire had to be put out by specialist fire crews.
  • Shell’s capping stack safety system was “crushed like a beer can” during testing. In December a Federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement revealed that this had happened three months earlier.
  • Shell’s Alaskan Vice-President admits: “There will be spills.” They just don’t know what to do about this.
  • Shell is more interested in money than safety. That’s what caused their oil rig, Kulluk, to run aground off the coast of Alaska while the company was trying to tow it back to Seattle. The Kullik hit heavy weather in the gulf of Alaska a few days earlier. Its 400-foot towing line broke and the rig drifted free. The tug managed to reconnect with the Kulluk, but it “experienced multiple engine failures” 50 miles south of Kodiak Island, causing the rig to drift free once again in 35-foot seas and 40-mph winds. The rig eventually ran aground on December 31, 2012, after another attempt to tow it away. The Kulluk has 139,000 gallons of diesel and 12,000 gallons of hydraulic oil on board.  Teams on the ground are currently still trying to secure the rig.

Tell Shell to stay out of the Arctic waters.

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