Nel's New Day

October 21, 2022

Corporate Profits Lead to Inflation

With the election only 17 days away, Republicans—especially the “party of Trump (POT)—concentrate on three campaign subjects: crimes, taxes, and inflation. Their lies:

Lie #1: Crime is rising because Democrats are “soft on crime.”

  • Facts: Violent crime rose from 2019 to 2020, the last year of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), at the same time gun homicides went up 35 percent.
  • The highest percentage of the gun crime surge came in states following GOP policies, weakening gun laws to make them highly available and protecting their huge donors, gun manufacturers. 
  • Democratic-run major cities that spent 38 percent more on policing per person than Republican-run cities, and 80 percent of the largest cities increased police funding from 2019 to 2022.
  • Re-arrest rates remained stables wherever bail reforms were implemented, and major cities’ data shows no connection between progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.
  • In a gubernatorial debate, Oklahoma’s GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt attempted to laugh off his state’s crime statistics: Oklahoma’s homicide rate of 9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 6.1 in California and 4.7 in New York. His opponent is seven points ahead.

Lie #2: Democrats are hiring 87,000 IRS agents to audit and harass the middle class.

  • Facts: The new law, that Republicans plan to immediately repeal, are looking for ultra-wealthy tax cheats with the advantage of multiple accounts and lawyers hiding their taxable incomes.
  • Audit rates for people making under $400,000 will stay the same.
  • Funding only starts to take IRS staffing back to before 2010, when Republicans reduced the staff by about 30 percent despite an increase of the population filing tax returns.

Lie #3: Policies of Democrats and President Joe Biden, including the spending and wage increases, are responsible for the high rate of inflation for the past year.

  • While in charge, DDT and the GOP dropped taxes and spent so “bigly” that the national debt increased $7.8 billion during DDT’s term.
  • Biden’s first complete fiscal year cut the U.S. deficit in half, $1,375 trillion, the biggest decrease in history.  
  • Facts: Government heavy spending began a year before Biden was inaugurated to alleviate the ravages of COVID.
  • Wages increased at a lower pace than prices.
  • DDT’s and the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business are adding at least $400 billion to the deficit every year. 

The Hill, a conservative publication, gives some reasons for the growing inflation that dropped to an annual rate of 8.2 percent in September:

  • A strong labor market with better work for higher pay.
  • Slow healing of supply chains from lack of production during the pandemic and increased gas prices.
  • Costs for both supplies and labor thanks to a mix of shortages and higher consumer demand. 
  • Delayed impact of rate hikes showing inflation reductions.

The reason accounting for at least half the increases in price increase, however, is greater profit margins for businesses through overcharging.  

Excerpts from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), in her questioning of Mike Konczal, director of Macroeconomic Analysis at the Roosevelt Institute, who admitted that surging corporate profits are the current primary cause of inflation:

Porter: Biggest driver of inflation? Konczal: Corporate profits.

Porter: The percentage? Konczal: “54 percent and that number does stay that level of high if you update that number to more recent numbers as well.”

Porter: “Over half of the increased prices people are paying are coming from increases in corporate profits?” Konczal: Yes and “the unit price index is reflected in corporate profits as opposed to other costs.”

Porter: “How does that compare to, historically, other periods of inflation or over other periods of economic time?” Konczal: “Significantly higher in this recovery—11.5 percent.”

Porter: “What is it today?” Konczal: “53 percent.”

Porter: “What is a ‘unit labor cost’?” Konczal: “Cost in wages and associated work.”

Porter: “But we can just say wages. What is a ‘non-labor input cost’?’ Konczal: “A variety of things, including maintenance and investments.”

Porter summarized, and Konczal agreed: “Okay, so I have to buy the stuff to make the widget. I have to have a factory. I have to keep the lights on. I have to hire someone to make the widget. That’s this stuff. And this is what I add on, on top?” She pointed to the 53 percent.

Lack of competition allows big businesses to have high profits not seen in over a half century. Two-thirds of all U.S. industries have become more concentrated since the 1980s. Companies are 50 percent more concentrated than in 2005. Four companies control 85 percent of meat and poultry processing, one corporation sets the price for most of the U.S. seed corn, and two firms dominate consumer staples. Big pharma, radically increasing prices, comprises five companies. Airline carriers dropped from 12 in 1980 to four, and Wall Street has five banks, profiting on the spread between the interest paid on deposits and charges for loans. Three cable companies dominate broadband.

Huge corporations continue to buy back their shares instead of investing in the supply chain. U.S. corporate profits rose to $2 trillion in 2022’s second quarter in the widest profit margins since the 1950s. When people buy less, big business charges more. The pretax corporate profits surged 6.1 percent for this quarter from the first quarter in 2022—and corporations have no plans to bring down prices. Only regulation can slow down these profits, and Republicans will never agree because of the huge amounts they receive from these businesses.

Profits keep skyrocketing because there is no monthly measurement of them as there are for consumer prices and wages.

The remainder of price increase comes from issues such as the global economy, the Russian war in Ukraine, diseases such as bird flu, pass-through costs from a tight economy, and the OPEC+ control through Saudi Arabia on gas prices—all things that a president doesn’t control. Big business has sold U.S. refineries to Saudi Arabia, allowing them to restrict gas which raises prices. To lower the cost of gas, a considerable percentage of inflation, Biden is dropping prices by releasing gas reserves, angering Republicans. ProPublica’s new exposé on how rental companies, many of them owned by Wall Street investors, are gouging renters to the max by using an algorithm explains the rental increases, causing a large percentage of inflation.

Food prices are particularly susceptible to Russia’s war. Three major attacks were reducing food exports such as wheat from Ukraine, surging fertilizer prices from limited exports, and increased fuel prices because of Russia’s restricted exports and the Middle East cuts in oil production out of support for the invaders. In addition, poultry and egg prices skyrocketed after the onslaught of the avian flu.  

Increasing fuel prices and the shortage of truck drivers raised the costs of transporting livestock and other products. Reliability issues come from ongoing threats of a rail strike. Barges, which transport 13 percent of U.S. grain, struggle to travel the dangerously low Mississippi River. 

Severe weather, sure to worsen in upcoming years from climate change, will “disrupt availability, reduce agricultural productivity and interrupt food delivery,” according to a report in the Hill by Shirin Ali. Hurricane Ian will have serious impacts on Florida’s citrus belt from flooding in at least 75 percent of the state’s citrus belt. California citrus production will drop 13 percent to the lowest level in 55 years from poor fruit set, caused by the state’s severe drought. In both the U.S. and Mexico, droughts have vastly reduced the availability to fruits and vegetables, and droughts in South America cause spiking coffee prices. Other U.S. disasters have hit wheat fields in the Plains area, cotton harvests in Texas, and tomato products in California. Climate disasters have cost North America $415 billion with a five to 15 percent decrease in crop production for each degree Celsius.

The U.S. is not unique in its inflation problem and is even better off than some other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GOP’s plan to defeat inflation is to blame Democrats. Rep. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), five-term incumbent and ranking member on the Financial Services Committee’s panel on monetary policy, was asked for the Republican plan “to deal with inflation other than not supporting Joe Biden policies.” He responded:

“Well, we have a positive agenda. We have a commitment to America, and we’re going to get back to basics.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said, “Stop spending federal money and then start investing in American innovation and energy.” So spend less and spend more. Leader of the National Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL) called inflation “a gold mine for us”—delighted that economic conditions cause suffering.

The GOP’s advantage with voters is the Inflation Reduction Act that they all opposed. Red states largely benefit from its provisions unless they are able to overturn it. GOP-led states, some of the biggest wind and solar producers in the U.S., benefited in the past decades through their job growth and lower ratepayer prices. In Oklahoma, over 40 percent of the state’s electricity comes from wind generation and, 1.3 percent of the workforce is employed in clean energy. GOP Gov. Stitt wants to do away with tax credits advantaging Oklahomans. Texas residents save millions of dollars through renewable energy.

Paul Krugman believes the partisan divide over the environment is emotional rather than rational—as is all the “culture war.” He wrote that, to Republicans, “neither policy details nor rational argument matters.”

October 18, 2022

News Bits – October 18, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is driving the media while President Joe Biden quietly works toward peace in the world. One of his recent accomplishments is negotiating an agreement between Israel and Lebanon to identify their maritime boundary. At war since 1948, the two countries have sometimes had military conflict, most recently in 2006, partly because of their lack of internationally recognized borders on land and on sea, a problem especially because of the large natural gas fields off their coasts. Progress was difficult because the countries’ officials refused to be in the same room, and Lebanon does no recognize Israel as a country.

Amos J. Hochstein, presidential coordinator for energy security, began diplomacy at the beginning of the year, commuting between Tel Aviv to Beirut through a third country because Israel and Lebanon have no direct air of road links.  He used the approach of how both countries could safeguard their vital interests, and both made concessions. Both sides called the deal “historic” as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to regain power in the November 1 election, said it was a “disgraceful surrender.” DDT’s former negotiator also attacked the agreement. With the countries at war, this agreement was more remarkable than DDT’s Abraham Accord in which three Arab states—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco—recognized Israel because the three countries weren’t at war with Israel. Proof that diplomacy pays.

The federal website to apply for relief from student debt opened on October 17, an act that could directly help 43 million people in the U.S. and others connected to them as debt relief frees up family resources. Within a day, over 8 million people completed the application requiring five minutes.

Thanks to another Biden action, people can also save as much as $3,000 with hearing aids now available over the counter.

Earlier this month, Biden issued restrictions on selling semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China, blocking them from critical technologies from supercomputing to guiding weapons. The purpose is to delay Chinese military programs for nuclear blasts, hypersonic weapons, and surveillance. Companies selling advanced chips and chip-making equipment will need a special license given out on a case-by-case procedure.

After Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Hondo plans to build a $4.2 billion electric vehicle battery plant forty miles from Columbus (OH), creating 2,200 manufacturing jobs. Since Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. has added 620,000 manufacturing jobs. By August 2020, DDT had lost 237,000 manufacturing jobs among the total 3.1 million jobs that disappeared during his four years.

Republicans voted against Biden’s infrastructure bills, calling them “socialist,” but returned home to take credit for the funding given to their states. Biden’s response: “I didn’t know there were that many socialist Republicans.”

Fox network continually searches for ways to shame Biden. A recent one is Biden’s telling his son Hunter Biden that he loves him when Hunter was struggling with drug addiction. Sean Hannity played a private voicemail Biden left for Hunter in which Biden first expressed his love for his son and then said, “You gotta get some help. I don’t know what to do. I know you don’t either.” Hannity asked people to “imagine how the mob and the media” would cover the situation if DDT expressed the same sentiment. Maybe with some appreciation for the man?

Biden has never tried to hide his son’s addiction and isn’t embarrassed about loving his children. Yet Hannity whines about “attacks” on Herschel Walker, GOP candidate for Georgia’s U.S. Senate, the man who rejected his three illegitimate children, incessantly lied, considered killing a man in road rage, and threatened to kill his wife and another son. Oh yes, and denied paying for his girlfriend’s abortion and claimed not to know her, the mother of one of his children.

New discoveries about the past administration:

In its third installment, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis report specified DDT’s administrative undermining “the scientific integrity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) coronavirus response in an attempt to serve the former President’s political goals.” The first installment addressed DDT’s attachment to the deadly “herd immunity via mass infection strategy,” and the second gave evidence of his high pressure campaigns on the CDC COVID decision-making and change scientific reasons. Part of Chairman James Clyburn’s (D-SC) statement:

“The previous administration engaged in an unprecedented campaign of political interference in the federal government’s pandemic response, which undermined public health to benefit the former president’s political goals… President Trump and his top aides repeatedly attacked CDC scientists, compromised the agency’s public health guidance, and suppressed scientific reports in an effort to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus. This prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts harmed the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis and put Americans at risk.”

The report contains details of the above statement as well as how DDT used the pretense of a virus spread to close the southern border in the Title 42 order and blackmailed CDC into wasting hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget for DDT’s celebrity vanity campaign leading up to the November 2020 election. CDC said that accurate scientific advice to the public would have stopped some of the COVID deaths.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/10/17/trump-secret-service-hotel-rates-records/     Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has records proving the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him “exorbitant rates”—up to $1,185 per night—to stay at his properties, amounting to $1.4 million over four years. DDT promised that federal employees traveling with him would stay at his properties “free” or “at cost,” but DDT’s business charged the Secret Service over the government rate at least 40 times from January 2027 to September 2021. Some of the charges were for DDT’s family as in the nightly rate of $1,160 at the Washington, D.C. Trump hotel to protect Eric Trump when he promoted a golf tournament at the Trump National Golf Club.

During his term, DDT visited his own properties over 500 times and continues to take security with him after he left the White House. (To make John Malone, DDT supporter and board member of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros, happy, CNN tried to show that Biden took off more time than DDT but deflated DDT’s days off work and playing golf without discussing DDT’s expenditures in the article.) 

Maloney wrote to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, demanding a full accounting of what taxpayers have paid DDT’s business in the past and continue to pay. Cheatle replaces DDT-appointee James Murray who retired under a scandal of missing text message during the January 6 insurrection when the 27-year veteran of the agency returned from her job as senior director at PepsiCo North America overseeing facilities, personnel, and business continuity. Since her return, over one million texts and cellphone messages appeared.

In another probe, the House January 6 investigative committee is asking Cheatle about contacts between Secret Service agents and members of the far-right Oath Keepers group. Court testimony has revealed that Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, claimed to be in contact with the agents before the rallies, one of them giving advice on what weapons they could take to the rally.

In the second and last trial by John Durham, the special counsel investigating the special counsel Robert Mueller probing Russian interference into DDT’s 2016 campaign, the defendant has been acquitted of lying to the FBI about his sources. Appointed by AG Bill Barr before the 2020 election, Durham’s claims about private researcher Igor Danchenko for the Steele dossier about DDT’s Russian connections lacked evidence. During the hearing, Durham became confrontational and aggressive with his own witnesses, FBI counterintelligence supervisor and agent, who described Danchenko as a trusted source of information on Russian influence.

Durham’s first trial led also to an acquittal, and no one else is charged from Durham’s probe, his grand jury is inactive, and Durham will likely be pressured to wrap up his work after failing to achieve DDT’s claim of discovering “the crime of the century.”

The FBI promised Danchenko he would be protected by keeping his identity secret, but DDT’s allies exposed him. A witness testified that AG Bill Barr damaged national security when he gave a declassified redacted report of his interview with Danchenko to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who shared it with the world in an attempt to prove the corruption of the Russian investigation.

New Jersey is suing five major oil and gas companies and a leading fossil fuel lobby group for knowingly lying to the public about the existence of climate change and the role their products play in exacerbating human-caused global heating as far back as the 1970s. Dozens of states and cities have already filed similar lawsuits against fossil fuel corporations. New Jersey’s lawsuit is on the tenth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy which killed 38 people in the state and caused about $30 billion in damage.

Two strange stories from last summer. Deutsche Telkom AG, parent company of T-Mobile, trademarked the color magenta, declaring ownership over them and banning any other business from using them, after making them synonymous with a brand. And only 1,867 solid Pantone colors exist, and pink is already taken by Owens-Corning followed by green-gold by Qualitex. Etc. Trademarks must be renewed every ten years. Ohio University has also trademarked the word “THE,” covering “clothing, namely, t-shirts, baseball caps and hats; all of the foregoing being promoted, distributed, and sold through channels customary to the field of sports and collegiate athletics.”

It’s a crazy world.

October 17, 2022

What Happens to Liz Truss?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 1, 2022

Hurricanes – Ian, DDT

The government shutdown has been postponed until December 16 after the House passed Senate legislation by 230-201. All except ten Republicans voted for a shutdown and blocking the $18.8 billion disaster relief for Western wildfires, Kentucky floods, and Southeast hurricanes. GOP House leadership had whipped its members to vote against the continuing resolution (CR) which provides support for a block of six southeastern states with Republican governors. Two Republicans from the impacted red states among the Republican representatives voting yes; the other 43 representatives for the six states voted to provide no aid to their constituents. Voters might want to consider how their representatives voted when they cast their ballots this fall. And thank a Democrat for every dollar they receive.

Democrats also provided funding to support Mississippi’s problem with unsanitary drinking water in its state capitol after mismanagement by the GOP governor. Subsequent funding packages may also add help for devastated Florida from Hurricane Ian. The estimated property losses from Hurricane Ian will exceed $60 billion, according to an estimate from the Insurance Information Institute, which said that would make the storm the second-largest “catastrophe loss event” on record after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Hurricanes like Ian, one of the five worst hurricanes in U.S. history, will become the norm from warmer oceans and air, more water vapor in the atmosphere, and higher sea levels as storms are less likely to churn up colder water. Warmer oceans add fuel to strengthen hurricanes, increasing the average wind speeds of major hurricanes by about 18 mph for each 1.8F of ocean surface warming, a 13 percent increase. Larger storms pile up more water for bigger surges such as the unprecedented 12 to 28 feet Ian produced. With wind of 150 mph, rain as much as 20 inches, and these storm surges, Ian destroyed 90 percent of just one city, Ft. Myers, that has a population of 83,000+.

Despite announced dangers of Hurricane Ian, many people refused to evacuate, believing that it was just another storm. QAnon conspiracy theorists spread lies about the hurricane being fake news.

When Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), was governor, he rejected the concept of “man-made climate change,” overturned all previous initiatives to cut fuel emissions, cut the budget for reducing pollution, and banned agencies from using the term climate change. Three months ago, eight Florida GOP lawmakers, receiving over $1 million for fossil fuel industry donors, pushed federal regulators to stop a requirement for businesses to disclose risks from climate change. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has evolved on the need for disaster aid after his “no” vote on help for northeastern states while a U.S. representative in 2013, but last month, he led the drive to ban the state from considering climate risks in investments for pensions of teachers, firefighters, and other government workers. He picked up over $800,000 in donations from the fossil fuel industry.

Firmly believing in aggression, DDT launched a full-scale racist attack against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his wife, DDT’s former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. In a virulent reaction to a few Republicans—including McConnell—passing the CR, he posted a long screed on Truth Social including the statement about McConnell, “He has a DEATH WISH. Must immediately seek help and advise [sic] from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” MAGA Republicans claim that DDT meant no violence, but Alyssa Farah Griffin, DDT’s former White House Director of Strategic Communications, slammed his statement.

The more DDT loses, the more aggressive he becomes, and his attempts to block the investigation into classified and other government document found at Mar-a-Lago are increasingly turning against him. The DOJ filed an expedited appeal to the 11th Circuit Court after DDT’s pet judge Aileen Cannon delayed the processing of documents seized from Mar-a-Lago, stating it slows efforts to determine how the classified records were transferred and whether they were improperly accessed. Cannon also denied the order from her hand-picked special master for DDT, Rayond Dearie, that lawyers support their statements under oath about FBI-planted materials at Mar-a-Lago.

According to the filing, the DOJ wants Cannon’s order for a special master be overturn because Cannon repeatedly overrules his decisions. Legal experts have wondered if the appeals court will remove Cannon from the case after its stinging rebuke in a recent decision against her.

 

Another DDT problem is infighting among his legal team between his new expensive lawyer and the former ones for the past week. Chris Kise wants to calm everyone down and have DDT willingly give up the classified documents to keep him from being indicted. DDT seems to have joined the other attorneys to keep attacking. The combative filing last week, which Cannon accepted, questioned DOJ’s motives and truthfulness, and Kise did not sign it as he has with previous filings since he was hired.

Three of DDT’s lawyers may face their own days in court with personal legal risks:

Christina Bobb told DDT allies that she is willing to allow the DOJ to interview her about her role in responding to the subpoena.

M. Evan Corcoran was told by colleagues that he should hire a criminal defense lawyer because of his response to the subpoena but keeps insisting it isn’t necessary.

Boris Epshteyn, a long-term DDT adviser, had to give his phone to the DOJ after he was subpoenaed as part of the agency’s investigation into DDT’s fake elector scheme and appeared before a Georgia grand jury probing into DDT’s attempt to overturn the state’s popular vote in favor of himself.

More details about DDT’s attorneys here.

Twenty months after DDT left the office, he and his administration have not yet turned over all its records to the National Archives which will consult with the DOJ about whether “to initiate an action for the recovery of records unlawfully removed,” according to acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall. Missing are “non-official electronic messaging accounts that were not copied or forwarded into their official electronic messaging accounts.” These include DDT’s adviser Peter Navarro’s failure to turn over official White House business he stored in private emails. Thus far, the FBI has recovered over 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago thus far in 2022: 184 in a set of 15 boxes in January, 38 handed over by a DDT lawyer in June, and over 100 more documents from the August 8 search after the FBI received a warrant. (Left: Documents found from the August search warrant.)   

 

DDT specializes in lies and exaggerations, and the best one recently is that the FBI took 200,000 pages. Let’s imagine how many boxes that would be. Philip Bump did the math and figured that 200,000 pages was off by a factor of 18. With the search warrant, the FBI removed 26 boxes or containers from the storage room and one box and six collections of documents from DDT’s office. He breaks down the number of each category in his article, but the items included government documents/photos, news articles/clippings, empty folders, books, and clothing/gifts. Nothing was said about digital devices so only paper was taken.

A 500-sheet ream of paper, 8.5” X 11” and two inches deep, will take up at least double the room when it’s gone through the copies. In the photos of material taken, cartons were banker’s boxes which are 10” 12” X 15”, holding about ten reams of paper—5,000 sheets or 27 boxes for 135,000 pages if the paper hadn’t been copied. But it was, and the boxes held much more than paper, using up a great deal of room. The number goes back to about 11,000 documents.

A week ago, the “Truth Rally” for DDT on the steps of the U.S. Capitol fizzled like wet fireworks. Billed as “the biggest to date,” the event drew a few dozen DDT supporters with a few dozen counter-protesters. The supporters couldn’t figure out if rioters were proud of their January 6 insurrection, didn’t do it, and were set up. NBC reported Ben Collins concluded, “The theme is basically: There was no insurrection on January 6th, and we’d do it again.”

A week later on October 1, DDT went to Michigan where early voting started on September 29, ostensibly to support his “stop the steal” candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and attorney general. His speech, however, was the typical litany of grudges. The event was at an expo center at the community college in the Detroit suburb of Warren. It has a 4,000-seating capacity. Gone were the QAnon gestures and creepy music from the last two rallies last month, but DDT satisfied his MAGA folk by ending his speech with his MAGA slogan reminiscent of QAnon.

The mainstream media is tired of DDT; there was little information about his latest rally.

August 15, 2022

Primaries – August 13, 2022 + It’s a Weird Time

Hawaii held their primary elections last Saturday, and almost no one noticed, perhaps because of the shortage of scandals. Tulsi Gabbard is off substituting for Tucker Carlson on Fox, taking her vitriol there, and no one left in the state seems to be vicious. Gabbard was elected four times from 2013 to 2019 as a Democrat, but she increasingly supported GOP policies, even speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference summit last spring.

The last time Hawaiians elected a Republican to federal or statewide office was 2010, and general elections haven’t been competitive since 2014. In November Democrats have a 99 percent chance to win the U.S. Senate seat, governor, and both U.S. House positions. Jill Tokuda, a close ally of progressive Sen. Mazie Hirono, took the Democratic candidacy for Kahele’s House seat with over 57 percent. Incumbents won the Democratic candidacies for the other two congressional elections, Ed Case for the House and Blue Dog Brian Schatz for Senate.

Tuesday has two more primaries on August 16—Alaska and Wyoming where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) face fierce opposition from Deposed Donald Trump (R-WY).

What’s being ignored during tantrums from Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) regarding the removal of documents he illegally took to Mar-a-Lago:

A new study has mapped the “extreme heat belt” by 2053 where the heat index can reach 125°F at least one day a year. Part of the belt is a three-state swath from Texas to Alabama through Iowa and Illinois into southern Wisconsin. Other parts go north from Florida to southern Pennsylvania, primarily along the coasts and southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The interactive map is here. The number of people suffering in this belt will rise to 107 million by 2053, but many coastal areas will have the 125°F by 2030. The states most likely to see the greatest growth in dangerous days are Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Florida with the greatest changes primarily in Florida. Many places currently with heat indices above 100°F for over 20 straight days may have 74 consecutive days by 2053.

Oil prices in the U.S. are falling while China economy is weakening as Saudi Aramco stated it will increase oil input. China’s central bank cut a key interest rate to boost growth. U.S. gas prices have dropped for 30 straight days.

DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani no longer plans to stall his appearance before a Fulton County (GA) grand jury concerning the DDT administration interference in the 2020 presidential election. As a “target,” open to possible criminal charges, he plans to show up and refuse to testify, citing attorney-client privilege. A judge also denied Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) request to dismiss his subpoena in the state prosecutor’s investigation and requires him to testify as a material witness. Graham plans to appeal with the claim that he is a high-ranking government official although his inappropriate questions to the state Secretary of Staff and his staff were not related to his position. Graham’s office asserts cited the Constitution’s speech or debate clause “prevents a local official from questioning a Senator about how that Senator did his job.”

Georgia is one of at least three states in which lawyers tied to DDT directed computer experts to copy sensitive data from elections systems in accessing voter equipment. The forensic firm performing the task charged an upfront retainer fee for each job, in one case $26,000. The other identified states are Michigan and Nevada. A Colorado county clerk, Tina Peters, was indicted on charges connected to an alleged breach of the voting system and leaking sensitive data online. Tightly regulated, voting systems are classified as “critical infrastructure” vital to national security. Officials took the machines out of service in many cases because the chains of custody were disrupted. DDT insiders also sent protesters to Washington, lobbied Congress to reject electoral votes, push former VP Mike Pence to block the voting process.  A WaPo report describes specific illegal activities in these attempts.

The DOJ grand jury has subpoenaed Eric Herschmann, DDT’s former White House legal adviser for documents and testimony. He represented DDT in his first impeachment trial but opposed DDT in his fight against the election results. Present at many important meetings, including the one where most of the DOJ top officials threatened to resign if DDT appointed Jeffrey Clark as AG, who pushed false voter fraud claims, Herschmann also opposed Powell’s and Michael Flynn’s requests for the military to seize voting machines. Testimony by Herschmann, included in public hearings, was quite colorful such as calling Clark’s proposal “nuts” and telling John Eastman, who pushed refusal of the electoral votes, to “get a great F-ing criminal defense lawyer.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has won the contest—for the most hateful tweets since Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Also on the top ten are Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-TX) and Christina Pushaw, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis former press secretary who has now joined his gubernatorial campaign. Greene’s tweets about the false “grooming” narrative reached almost 18 million viewers.

The far-right is now attacking school counselors, threatening them for “spreading hate and race-baiting” with accusations from Twitter accounts from such organizations as Courage Is a Habit. Fox’s Tucker Carlson also made the evidence-free claim to his TV audience that school shooters are “numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out at every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors.” In addition to helping students with goals for their future, counselors oppose bullying, combat discrimination, teach organizational skills, and support students understanding their sexuality or gender identity.

School nurses are other villains, according to conservatives. Parents confuse the approximately 2,500 health care centers at schools, operating under the local health department, which are completely separate from the school nurses. Parents or guardians must sign a consent form for students to be treated at these health centers, and they don’t provide hormonal therapy, as conservatives accuse them of doing.  

Parents’ opposition to schools began with mask mandates at the beginning of the pandemic and then increased to Republican myths about schools’ teaching systemic racism with demands to stop teaching history. For example, a special education teacher at an Escambia County (FL) public school quit after a staff employee told him to remove a display exhibiting “age inappropriate” racist behavior with photos of Black heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman, George Washington Carver, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former President Obama. In a predominantly Black part of the county, the majority of his former students are Black.

Parental discrimination moved on to the LGBTQ school community. A DDT-appointed judge in Tennessee banned two federal agencies from enforcing federal directives in 20 states providing protection for LGBTQ people in schools and workplaces. In 2020, a Supreme Court opinion, Bostock v. Clayton County, ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace.

Some January 6 insurrectionists are promoting businesses, boosting social media profiles, and raising cash from their experiences through selling books, clothing, and even a rap album. Their plans lead prosecutors to ask for tougher punishments, and the DOJ is thinking about taking the money. Federal authorities have seized over $62,000 from a Utah defendant who sold his January 6 footage for $90,000. The man who propped his feet on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) is selling photos for $100. Anti-vaxxer Dr. Simone Gold raised over $430,000 for her legal expenses from a nonprofit, but she didn’t tell the donors she had already pled guilty to illegally entering the Capitol. A rioter sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol and watching insurrectionists beat up on the police helped his father sell clothing with “Back the Blue.”

A Kentucky judge using a lawyer for political purposes to support his reelection campaign accused the state Judicial Conduct Commission of being used for political purposes. In Kentucky’s southwestern Christian County, the county judge, suspended with pay, declared he will “stay the course.”

Almost a month ago, DDT buried his first wife, Ivana, at the first hole at his Bedminster (NJ) golf course, the first one there and requiring consecration of the property for a traditional Catholic burial. (Seventeen wives still have room.) Researchers debunked the idea that it was done for a tax break by saying the cemetery taxes waived only 5,700 square feet of land. One assumption is that DDT did it because he loves northern New Jersey. He’s also interested in burials. In 2007, he got permits for a windowless wedding chapel at the club to be converted into a mausoleum for himself and his families. Later, he planned a cemetery holding over 1,000 graves which morphed into two cemeteries, one selling 284 plots to the public and the other for ten plots next to the first tee from himself and his family.

DDT already gets massive tax breaks at the club, $88,000 annually, with keeping eight goats and raising hay on 113 acres of the property. New Jersey cemeteries avoid taxes, rates, assessments, and personal property taxes as well as business taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and inheritance taxes. In 2016, the Trump Family Trust has tried to designate a property in Hackettstown (NJ), 20 miles from Bedminster, as a nonprofit company, but it won’t save them money. DDT annually pays $16.35 in taxes on the property, designated as a farm, that he bought for $461,000.

Richard Nixon did a better job honoring his dog, Checkers.

August 6, 2022

Inflation Reduction Act Heads for a Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 15, 2022

News – Week of July 15, 2022

More January 6: The House January 6 investigative committee plans a primetime hearing on July 21. The committee also issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service requesting records that a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee said were mistakenly erased.

More Musk: Elon Musk thinks he can force Twitter to pay $1 billion when he reneges on his $44 billion deal to buy the company, but his banks have signed a deal with him to put up the acquisition money. Both Musk and the banks may have trouble breaking their commitment letters. Bank of America, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley aren’t responding to questions.

More Antiabortion: Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R), a former majority leader now running for state Senate, emailed over 100 legislators that a woman’s womb “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.” He expanded his argument to the local media stating that there is only one organ in a woman’s body “that is not there to serve a purpose for her and that is her womb.” 

The media got excited when obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be joining his party policies. As usual it was wrong. Manchin, a millionaire supported by fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries, followed his pattern of appearing to negotiate before reneging on any agreements. Just like the Republicans for the past decades, he makes promises if Democrats eliminate important provisions and then fails to follow through after they appease him, this time backing down on legislation regarding climate change, tax legislation, lower prescription drug prices, and an extension of enhanced Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsides for two years. Manchin dumped an agreement that would have raised about $1 trillion in revenue by Rolling back 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big business could have raised about $1 trillion with half the money shrinking the deficit that DDT raised by $7.8 trillion in just four years. Savings from negotiating down prescription drug prices would fund ACA subsidies.

Immediately after Travis Herzog, a Texas meteorologist, warned his audience about power outages, the studio lights went out from a power outage. The rolling blackout was not planned, but engineers switched to generators to stay on air. State-controlled electricity returned in two hours before another power outage. Herzog was describing the extreme heat causing outages. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott had a lot to say about the 53 immigrants who died in a tractor trailer after human traffickers abandoned them in San Antonio but about his failing electric power grid, not so much. 

Eighteen months ago, Abbott’s failures with the power source independent of the U.S. killed hundreds of people in the power outage; now the grid operator wants Texans to turn off appliances during the afternoon in the state producing more natural gas than any other in the nation. In a tight re-election race with Beto O’Rourke, Abbott had promised the grid was fixed after 702 people died in the cold but hasn’t mentioned ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) since early February when he went on social media to praise the power organization designed to avoid federal regulations. The Texas governor appoints three of four state Public Utility Commission members which has co-oversight of ERCOT with the GOP-dominated state legislature.

In mid-May, the grid’s operator asked users to conserve energy because six power plants went offline with no explanation amid soaring temperatures. Excuses during the winter were frozen equipment; legislation was directed to making the grid more resilient in the cold. Nine months ago, an investigation by NBC News and the Texas Tribune found a vulnerable grid with new regulations permitting companies to avoid improvements. Nothing has been done to repair the problem of keeping enough natural gas for the electric plants.

ERCOT’s pricing strategy during February 2021 caused Brazos Electric, a cooperative operating four plants, to go bankrupt instead of passing along a $2 million bill for a few days of power to members and consumers. Brazos took the Texas power system to court, and former ERCOT CEO Bill Magness testified that Abbott was responsible for maximum costs days after the system was back in business, $9,000 per megawatt hour, over 150 times higher than the average price, hoping big business would cut back on usage. Stuck with same price, all consumers got the same price, and household bills were well over $15,000 for one month of power. The problem of natural gas shortages was ignored

Record temperatures in the 110s and high humidity, called “extreme” and “dangerously hot,” continue to cover Texas. The 105 degrees in Houston matched its highest July temperature recorded. Solar energy works well under the scorching sun, but stagnant winds under the heat dome limit wind generation to about 10 percent of capacity. Other states suffering from these problems could borrow energy from the rest of the U.S., but Texas’ independence makes it helpless. Led by conservatives such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Texans ignore the problems from climate change. 

Abbott has been using his “Operation Lone Star” for his re-election campaign, a state-run border control program, but the DOJ is now investigating it for civil rights violations. He assigned over 10,000 National Guard members to act as federal border agents although they have no authority to apprehend or incarcerate migrants crossing the border without legal documentation. Deployed National Guard members state they are being misused, forced to leave their families and jobs to stay idle. For media attention, Abbott performed actions such as busing migrants to Washington, D.C. from the southern border, much to the appreciation of the migrants. Instead of arrests for border and drug issues, the charges were largely trespassing when officials ordered migrants onto private property and then arrested. Jailed without charges for weeks, some of the migrants have filed a class-action lawsuit.

Republicans are building their fascist reputation by inviting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to open the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas (TX) from August 4-7. Headlining CPAC held in Hungary last May, he outlined the 12 ways leaders can capture and consolidate power, including the control of media’s information. He silenced Hungarian independent media and controls all the nation’s television, newspaper, and online media outlets. Orbán also took control of the judiciary and attacked the few financial institutions not under the control of his far-right Fidesz Party. In Dallas, he will share the stage with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and possibly DDT who admires Orbán’s authoritarian leadership style. CPAC stated that Orbán is the “leading voice” in Europe fighting for his people and “everyone who believes in national sovereignty.”

Dominion Voting Systems issued a subpoena to former AG Bill Barr, requiring him to testify in its defamation lawsuit against Fox network. Barr had told the House January 6 investigative committee that he believed the lies about fraud claims regarding Dominion voting machines were “complete nonsense.” Dominion has also subpoenaed DDT’s allies such as attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also being sued for defamation by Dominion. Fox has claimed that its fraud accusations are protected by the First Amendment but lost its motion to dismiss the case in December 2021. The trial is scheduled for April 2023. Dominion has filed at least eight lawsuits concerning the conspiracy theory after the 2020 election, including Fox’s parent company Fox Corporation after the company refused to give Dominion documents from Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan.

DDT’s former national security adviser John Bolton talked about the work needed to “plan [a] coups d’état” but excused DDT by saying he didn’t really mean to “overthrow the Constitution.” Bolton cited the unsuccessful attempt to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro when DDT recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as interim president. Maduro stayed, and Bolton was fired.

Between 1947 and 1989, the U.S. attempted 72 times to change another nation’s government, including 66 covert operations, not including pre-Cold War interventions in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Cuba.  Obviously, Bolton was too young for those in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Syria (1949, 1956, and 1957), Cuba (1959), Congo (early to mid 1960s), Vietnam (1964), and Chile (1973) after Bolton was an aide to Spiro Agnew in 1972. In the 1980s, Reagan secretly worked to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua by supporting the Contras. During George H.W. Bush’s administration, the U.S. invaded Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega, and in 1991, the U.S. invaded Iraq while Bolton was still in the State Department. He later advocated for Bill Clinton to send troops into Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and succeeded with George W. Bush in 2003, pushing the myth of WMDs. Bolton would have been involved with military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and argued after 20 years that Joe Biden should not have pulled out of the country. 

World leaders took note of Bolton’s coup offhand remarks. Evo Morales, former Bolivian president ousted from office in 2019, tweeted Bolton’s remarks showed that the U.S. was “the worst enemy of democracy and life.” Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, called for an international investigation into Bolton’s statements. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “This is no surprise. The admission simply shows that interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and overthrowing their governments have become the standard practice of the U.S. government.” Turkish media supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tied Bolton’s coup comments to the failed attempt to overthrow the Turkish government in July 2016.

Now Republicans are trying to overthrow the U.S. government.

March 19, 2022

Courts, Legislation for Spring Equinox 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rubin concluded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 31, 2021

2021: A Year of Denial

The past tumultuous year has largely been marked by insurrection, inauguration, and infections—all major event which Republicans denied. Within a month after January 6, GOP congressional members were either silent about the attack by supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) on the U.S. Capitol or they denied any violence by the people they called “tourists” despite five dead people and 140 wounded—many in law enforcement. Some naysayers still falsely accuse the “antifa” (literally anti-fascists) for the unprecedented desecration by domestic terrorists. Also overlooked is the attempt to overturn the election by 147 congressional members who challenged legal electoral votes after the attack and mostly continue to support the “Big Lie” of a “stolen” election. That leadership, plus DDT’s unremitting similar claims, results in 71 percent of Republicans declaring Biden is not their president. 

Denial of the inauguration matches the denial of the insurrection as DDT and his supporters continue their march to a coup by declaring DDT the “true” president. Violent militia members use denial of Joe Biden as the legally elected president in their supposed “First Amendment” rights in court cases—a defense struck down by even DDT-appointed and GOP-confirmed judges. The abject fear of losing elections has led to 19 states passing 33 new voter-suppression laws, not only turning the voting process over to Republicans but also giving legislatures the right to change legal state ballot counts if the election officials don’t fall in line with the party. These laws have accompanied a huge spate of threats to election officials, who then resigned. To illustrate the severe national polarization, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws to expand voting access.

Big judicial cases dominated much of the year. The cases of three killed Black men brought three convictions: the police officer who killed George Floyd, a police officer who “accidentally” killed Daunte Wright, and three men who killed Ahmaud Abrey. After a police officer received “immunity” for killing a schizophrenic man by kneeling on his neck for 14 minutes in 2016, the family finally has the right to take the case to civil court. Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of federal sex trafficking after recruiting and grooming teenage girls sexually abused by her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison.

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two men and wounded another while gunning for them, was acquitted and became a far-right hero.  DDT escaped conviction in his second impeachment trial, going on to control the GOP—much to the dismay of most Republicans. Now he’s bilking GOP donors to pay for his ongoing criminal cases. 

Upcoming court cases will include those for a teenage boy who shot and killed four classmates and injured another seven while his parents have been charged with abetting his actions. This horrific event was one of almost 700 mass shootings during the year in the United States.

As cases and deaths from COVID skyrocket, conservatives, especially Christian evangelists, deny both the effectiveness of vaccines and the existence of huge numbers of people suffering and dying from the coronavirus. With his desire to live in the White House, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has tried to block every public health policy to keep people safer, including his fight to permit cruise ships to land at his docks. This past week, Florida had its highest level of COVID cases, 31,758 new infections, since the pandemic started in February 2020 and its third COVID outbreak on a Florida-based cruise ship. In the past two weeks, cruise ships in U.S. waters reported 5,013 COVID cases, up from 162 cases during the previous two weeks. Overall, the U.S. has 265,000 reported cases average for a week, up 60 percent from the previous week. Only 62 percent of people in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Yesterday, the U.S. experienced 572,019 infections with 1,362 deaths.

Denial of climate change has led to more horrific disasters in 2021 with fires, the most recent one this December described as the worst one in Colorado’s history and tornadoes, the deadliest one in history and staying on the ground for a 250-mile swath, earlier in December.

The so-called “culture wars” are leading to states passing laws against the non-existent teaching of “critical race theory,” expanding into a censorship of curriculum and library books not seen for decades. School boards are calling for the burning of books about racism and LGBTQ rights issues or being physically threatened and attacked for not following the wishes of “parents,” sometimes childless violent protesters who don’t live in the districts.

The worst denial for the year is how well Biden is administering. Immediately after his inauguration, he used the Defense Production Act to purchase more vaccines and coordinate the transportation to states. The project would have been a success except for the concerted effort of Republicans to remain unvaccinated, partly to thwart any achievement on the part of Democrats. As vaccinations waned from GOP opposition, mandates issued by Biden and government entities were sent to courts where several of them were overturned by DDT-appointed judges. When death rates for Republicans tripled those for Democrats, even before the Omicron variant, conservatives blamed Biden for not stopping the disease that the GOP made worse by rejecting vaccinations.

Throughout the year, Biden worked to improve the economy with the successes—and problems—described in yesterday’s post. The U.S. would be in even better shape if Republicans, aided by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) had not blocked the second infrastructure bill by denying that people needed any money. With no or almost no GOP votes, Biden succeeded in moving three must-pass bills through Congress in December: the budget, the increase in the debt ceiling, and the military appropriations bills.

The biggest problem this year would be if Congress had not increased the amount permitted to cover the nation’s debts, raised $7.8 trillion by Republicans and DDT during his four-year term. Republican senators use the filibuster, a requirement of 60 percent approval to debate a bill, for all major Democratic bills, but knew the country could not default on its debt. To these senators, the filibuster is sacred—unless they want something—so they waived the filibuster this one time while not one of them voted to increase the debt ceiling. Again, a denial that the filibuster is really necessary unless Republicans say it is. The GOP-permitted debt ceiling increase of a paltry $2.5 trillion is good only until 2023 when Republicans hope to control Congress.

With no discussion of inflation or debt ceiling, the military appropriations bill passed at $25 billion higher than Biden and the Pentagon requested while protecting Saudi Arabia. Congress tacked on 12 additional F/A-18 Super Hornets, five extra Boeing F-15EX jets than the request for 17 total, and five more ships including two attack submarines and two destroyers. The president can also declare war, in opposition to the Constitution. The $768 billion, over four times the request in the Build Back Better bill, takes 65 percent of the budget’s discretionary spending. Once again, denial for domestic needs because of funding for “the military-industrial complex,” something President Dwight Eisenhower warned about 63 years ago.  

Unlike the military appropriations bill, the general budget faced a rocky road because Republicans, like Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who was formerly Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) chief of staff, wanted to block the bill in his effort to stop Biden’s vaccine mandates. Not funding the United States would close down the nation like many other GOP shutdowns. Roy’s idea received traction from the Senate with Mike Lee (R-UT) leading the charge. Eventually, the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until another showdown on February 18, 2022, passed the House with only one GOP vote, Illinois’ Adam Kinsinger.

QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), most recently known for her idea that people moving from blue states to red states should be fined and blocked from voting, gave her rationale for a shutdown vote—“The people in here cannot control themselves.” Eleven months before her win in a solidly red district, Greene moved there from a district electing a Democrat. 

In attempts to salvage the U.S. standing in the world, where the nation fell to a “flawed democracy” for the first time, Biden worked to revive the Iran nuclear agreement while rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization. As Russian president Vladimir Putin threatens the autonomy of Ukraine, Biden is communicating to stop the giant power—and prevent a world war.

After the U.S. occupied Afghanistan for 20 years following George W. Bush’s preemptive war against the country, Biden fulfilled past promises to pull troops out of the country—much to the dismay of all the people who had demanded the administration follow through with the promises. Once again, conservatives denied that DDT had made a deal with the Taliban for doing this and left only 2,500 military members in the country.

In the corporate world, Mark Zuckerberg changed his company name to “Meta,” trying to deny the bad press he received from helping destroy people’s lives with “Facebook” as reported by whistleblowers. Thus far no one seems to have noticed the name change. AT&T was outed as the bankroller for One America News Network (OANN), which Salon called “one of the most corrosive news channels in America.” AT&T denied their actions which were backed by evidence. Caught in a Greenpeace sting, two Exxon lobbyists openly admitted the company had blocked effective climate action and bragged about using the American Petroleum Institute as Exxon’s “whipping boys.” Exxon CEO Darren Woods denied the comments.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve. You can top off the year with these holiday songs. 

December 30, 2021

Republicans Glory in Their Manufactured ‘Poor’ Economy

As 2021 ends, moans about inflation and people quitting their jobs fill the media. At the same time, the media ignores the booming economy. At the end of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) rule, the economy followed the trajectory of COVID, going downhill into a disaster that DDT worsened for his efforts to be reelected. Less than a year after the inauguration, the economy has turned around, despite the worsening COVID cases from variants caused by people who refused vaccinations. How good are things? Here’s some indication.

Part of the change comes from President Joe Biden putting money into the hands of the poor and middle-class instead of using DDT’s approach to provide trillions to big business and the wealthy. His stimulus bill, passed only by Democrats but later touted by Republicans with their constituents prevented the recession and dropped unemployment to 4.2 percent. National economic consultant Robert J. Shapiro described “extraordinary gains” of the first three quarters of 2021:

“Real GDP increased at a 7.8 percent annual rate—that’s adjusted for the current inflation. The Federal Reserve expects real growth of 5.9 percent for all of 2021, followed by another 3.8 percent increase in 2022.”

By contrast, the real GOP grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent, never reaching even three percent, in the two previous decades. In this year’s stock market, the S&P Index, reporting the most diversified stocks, jumped 21.7 percent from January 20, Biden’s inauguration day, to December 7, 2021. People’s disposable income grew three percent after inflation between January and October compared to 0.5 percent increase in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2018. Since January, unemployment fell by one-third, and wages climbed.

U.S. economic output jumped over seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and overall growth for the year should be about six percent with another four percent increase in 2022—the highest increases in decades. During the same period, China’s growth is predicted at 4 percent and the Eurozone at two percent. U.S. companies have profit margins of 15 percent, higher than since 1950. Matthew A. Winkler wrote:  

“[The U.S. is] outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century, and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” 

The jobless rate dropped from 6.2 percent in February, Biden’s first month in office, to 4.2 percent. His administration created 4.1 million jobs, more than new jobs in the 12 years of George W. Bush and DDT. Biden is the only president over the past half century with robust increases in non-farm payrolls (4.3 percent) and manufacturing jobs (2.6 percent). approaching the gains enjoyed by Carter in general employment (4.6%) and factory workers (3.9%).

Wages in the U.S. are increasing at an annual rate of four percent compared with under one percent in the Eurozone. The American Rescue Plan, passed by only Democrats in March cut child poverty in half when it put $66 billion into 36 million households. Over 4.6 million more people have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act—a total of 13.6 million insured people under the law. On Biden’s inauguration day, only 46 percent of the schools were open; now 99 percent are.

On the foreign-exchange market, the dollar strengthened 7.37 percent this year, the most under a presidential first year since Ronald Reagan. U.S. stocks outperformed the world equity market by 6.3 percentage points, the biggest advantage since 1988.   

Biden’s ratings in market and economic indicators for his first year when compared to seven previous presidents–no one matching Biden’s combination of No. 1 and No. 2 rankings:

  • Gross domestic product (1)
  • Profit growth (1)
  • S&P 500 performance (2)
  • Consumer credit (1)
  • Non-farm payrolls (2)
  • Manufacturing jobs (2)
  • Business productivity (2)
  • Dollar appreciation (2)
  • S&P 500 relative performance (2)

November saw the passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to repair roads and bridges while getting broadband to areas lacking it. Over 93 percent of House Republican and 62 percent of GOP senators refused to support the infrastructure bill although many of them are now taking credit with its benefits when talking to their constituents. The law will help 2022 because it creates jobs. Republicans voted against it to keep Biden from positive publicity.

The only complaint people seem to have about Biden’s economy seems to be inflation, at 6.8 percent in November and the highest in 39 years. Yet gas prices are falling, under $3 a gallon in 12 states and $.25 a gallon lower in 36 U.S. cities, with skyrocketing gasoline inventories.  

The media were traumatized by problems with the supply chain, but 99 percent of packages arrived on time for the holiday, an improvement over the past two years. While U.S. major ports process almost one-fifth more containers in volume than two years earlier, European port container traffic stayed flat or declined. Consumer goods moved off the shelves at a 45 percent higher rate than in 2018, and expenditures is estimated at 11.5 percent more for the holiday season than a year ago. Consumer demand was a huge problem for the global supply chain bottlenecks.

According to polls, 63 percent said they think the nation’s economy is in bad shape because of bad news, and only 19 percent hear the good news about the economy. Part of that comes from how GOP congressional members have falsely convinced 91 percent of their party that the U.S. economy is in fair/poor condition. 

Why are people complaining about higher prices? Medications, rentals, houses costs, health insurance, etc.—the prices for all these have gone through ceiling for several years, but the media has never pushed them as “inflation.” At the same time, wages stayed largely static, but most people didn’t view these problems as a crisis. Now even with inflation outpacing the current wage increases, the bottom 60 percent of workers have more money left over than during pre-pandemic.

Publicity about inflation is being sensationalized by corporate lobbying groups such as the Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to promote conservatism. Corporate media looks for one family drinking 48 gallons of milk to push the idea of milk inflation, actually higher a decade ago, or complaints about gas prices, again higher a decade ago, by someone driving an older gas-guzzler. Corporations wanting to lower wages falsely state salary increases for lower-paid workers causes inflation. Yet the following issues are not addressed in the mainstream media:

Inflation by the Top: Corporate greed and power are jacking up the prices for the wealthy who can then spend tens of millions of dollars in speculation and purchasing “digital art” only on their computers. Income gains for the rich far outpaced inflation.

Corporate Consolidation: A few companies dominate the market for essential goods such as diapers and meat and insulin. At the same time, Republicans fight any kind of regulation to control unreasonable increases in prices.

Wars and Fossil Fuels: Despite fear mongering about government spending, the deficit, and inflation, Congress is delighted to pass a military budget larger than presidents’ requests. For political reasons, some presidents also start wars with the hopes they will provide reelection. Gas prices are also highly volatile because they are controlled in the Middle East, but conservatives fight clean energy which is less liable to inflation.

Health Care and Housing Costs: Conservative lawmakers refuse pass laws to address long-term inflation: healthcare costs have risen faster in the past 30 years than in any other sector, but conservatives won’t control drug prices.  

The Fed Tradeoff: The Federal Reserve requirement to maintain price stability and maximum employment is managed largely by adjusting interest rates and buying government bonds. Sixteen months ago, Chair Jerome Powell changed its inflation policy. Instead of keeping interest rates high leading to low inflation and keeping unemployment high enough to block worker bargaining power, he kept low interest rates to reach full employment with concern for high inflation. At this time, higher interest rates would slow market recovery; higher inflation is less devastating than mass unemployment. 

Price Controls: Congress could lower inflation without mass unemployment if it created price controls, used in the past during wartime. This move would block corporations from jacking up prices beyond the increased cost of input to report huge profits. During the first nine months of 2021, the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations made $174 billion in profits–$74.9 net income for two dozen of them in just the third quarter.

Climate Change: Conservatives refuse to recognize the existence of global warming, but food prices have gone up because of changes in crop yield.

It’s to the advantage of Republicans to keep inflation high because it helps their chances of having majorities in the legislators. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called it a “gold mine.”  Just like using a strategy of promoting COVID infections and deaths to make Democrats look bad, conservatives care nothing for people. They just want to keep their position and gather wealth. And like COVID, they won’t fix it if they become the majority party.

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