Nel's New Day

January 31, 2023

Supreme Court, House Attempt to Cover Up Scandals

Another ethics scandal has hit the Supreme Court: the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts makes millions of dollars each year by placing lawyers in firms that argue cases before the high court. One of Jane Roberts’ recruits, Ken Salazar, was put into a firm arguing over 125 times before the Supreme Court that has no binding ethics rules. The chief justice refuses to support a Judicial Code of Ethics and simply watches as “Clarence Thomas flouts ethical standards over and over and over,” according to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the center-right American Enterprise Institute. A month later, Ornstein said, “This is [Samuel] Alito’s court, and it is partisan and corrupt.”

The House is trying to match the Supreme Court in corruption and lack of ethics. Its new select subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal collection is thus far composed of a dozen GOP malcontents with one more added unless House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) increases the number. Leader is Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the chair of the Judiciary Committee that heads up the subcommittee. The purpose of the subcommittee is to attack the DOJ, FBI, and other intelligence departments as well as the Department of Education and big tech. 

Members include two House GOP leaders, Elise Stefanik (NY) and Mike Johnson (LA); others are Chip Roy (TX), Dan Bishop (NC), Chris Stewart (UT), Kelly Armstrong (NC), Darrell Issa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Greg Steube (FL), Kat Cammack (FL), and Harriet Hagerman (WY) who defeated Liz Cheney last year. McCarthy made the choices to pay for the votes he received in the speaker battle; Bishop and Roy consistently voted against McCarthy for the first 11 of the 15 ballots.

Without Democratic members at this time, the committee is already discussing subpoenas skipping any requests for documents and witness testimony because they don’t need any Democratic support. Jordan’s targets include a current and a former FBI employee, two people associated with the National School Boards Association, and the former head of the disbanded DHS Disinformation Governance Board.

Like Fox, the “weaponization” targets will not be anything detrimental to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and other Republicans. Although Jordan plans to go after recently indicted former FBI agent Charles McGonigal as part of his attack on that agency, he tried to avoid questions about investigating DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort for his ties to the same Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, also connected to McGonigal.

Another issue that will be ignored in the “weaponization” subcommittee is the failure of special counsel John Durham to investigate DDT after receiving tips about his campaign’s involvement with Russia during his 2016 campaign. On Meet the Press,  Jordan said:

“The Durham investigation is not done. The Mueller investigation is done. And what did he conclude? No collusion, no conspiracy, no coordination.”

That’s one misrepresentation and one lie. The final Durham report is due in February, almost two years before the end of Jordan’s leadership of the Judiciary Committee, and Robert Mueller refuted the “no collusion” statement. Fortunately, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be investigating the omission of former AG Bill Barr’s and Durham’s decision to follow the tips about DDT’s possible involvement with Russia. 

Jordan holds his first Judiciary Committee hearing on February 1, this one about the border followed by the same subject with the Oversight Committee on February 6. Instead of a hearing, DHS wants a member briefing bringing threats of subpoenas from Comer. The GOP also has a problem with a lack of consensus especially between two Texans, conservative Roy and more centrist Tony Gonzales. All during the impeachment resolution of DHS Secretary Mayorkas from Pat Fallon, another Texas representative. Arizona’s Andy Biggs plans to lead impeachment articles against Alejandro Mayorkas this week.

On February 1, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing on government funding because of Covid, focusing on “waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.” The Democrats have already studied this issue, but the GOP now has a Covid subcommittee to examine the intent of making viruses and pathogens more deadly or contagious with the evidence-free GOP theory that Covid was intentionally created in a lab.

In the $5 trillion of stimulus aid starting in spring 2020, the federal government may have awarded $5.4 billion in Covid aid to small businesses with ineligible Social Security numbers. Of over 33 million applicants studied, more than 221,000 ineligible Social Security numbers on requests for small-business aid were identified, and 70,000 of these applications were approved despite questionable data. Grift began with two programs created under DDT, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

On February 8, the Oversight Committee plans a hearing about Twitter restricting users from sharing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden and continue with questions about a gallery selling Hunter Biden’s art. Chair James Comer (R-KY) plans to subpoena the Treasury Department after it rejected requests for documents. He declares his investigation “credible,” but conspiracy believers on the committee such as Paul Gosar (AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Green (GA), and Scott Perry (PA) raise skepticism.

Another hearing is from a new subcommittee to look at “strategic competition” between the U.S. and China with a focus on supply chains and social media, specifically TikTok. Although the decision was bipartisan, Democrats warned that the GOP may incorporate conspiracy theories and xenophobic language. Other foreign policy investigations are the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan and the oversight of aid to Ukraine.

Jennifer Rubin predicts failure from the GOP hearings because Republicans don’t have evidence for their so-called Democratic scandals. Explaining the convoluted right-wing conspiracy theories will take a lot of time and then not be accepted, like Jordan’s attempt on Meet the Press to explain how the FBI “targeted parents. Host Chuck Todd asked Jordan if the FBI should not “look into a death threat when an elected official gets a death threat.” Jordan struggled with the answer.

While the weaponization committee wastes time, the rest of the Republicans have been preparing useless bills that they will pass before sending them into the void. This week, they will address the horror of socialism as the “bill of the month,” according to FreedomWorks providing dark money to the Freedom Caucus members. The resolution outlines “the history of socialism as a failed ideology that has resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people worldwide.” Congress has no Socialist representatives.

A quote in the bill attributed to Thomas Jefferson about not taking money from hard workers to share with others is actually by French economist and philosopher Antoine Destutt de Tracy. The resolution also criticizes DDT’s BFF Kim Jong Un, leader of the North Korea.

Abandoning its concern for deaths, another bill this week will declare “The Pandemic Is Over,” removing healthcare workers from any vaccine mandate and eliminating the right for federal employees to work remotely. Within three years, Covid killed at least 1.1 million people in the U.S. and 6,759,755 worldwide. It is the eighth most common cause of child deaths in the U.S. Thus Republican bills supposedly stop the non-existent deaths from socialism but open up the possibility of millions of deaths from Covid. 

Bills and hearings show how Republicans have abandoned their campaign issues of crime and inflation. Jordan said that he has no interest in police killing the people they are employed to protect which reached an all-time high in 2022. 

When the House finally elected a speaker, it had 11 “ready-to-go” bills for the first two weeks. By the fifth week, they passed only six, some of them toothless resolutions. Some of them have disappeared because of GOP dissension. Primary subjects: two anti-abortion bills, one anti-IRS bill that raises the deficit, and one limiting oil withdrawal from emergency reserves that increases inflation.

Meanwhile, the Senate is waiting for Republicans to decide what committees they wish to join. Or maybe Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is just stalling.

Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“Republicans] prefer to spend time trying to defund the Internal Revenue Service, criminalize abortion providers, threaten economic meltdown, and beat the drum on ‘scandal’ investigations. Instead of working to clamp down on crime, House Republicans want to investigate those prosecuting the Jan. 6, 2021, armed insurrectionists and ride to the rescue of the former president, the target of multiple criminal investigations.”

For the last six months of 2022, while the GOP was hyping inflation, the rate declined with gas prices levels before the Ukraine war. Wages went up in December. The first bill passed in the House’s new GOP Congress was to increase the deficit by $100 billion by defunding the IRS; another one stopped President Joe Biden from reducing gas prices. Crime rates had already fallen in 2022, four percent lower than the previous year. This year, however, mass shootings are already up, but Republicans will never concern themselves with reducing those disasters. Crime is useful to Republicans only for its racist image as campaigns depict Black candidates as “different” and “dangerous” plus darkening their skin, hoping to make them appear more menacing.

But there’s really big news today in the House: McCarthy convinced Rep. George Santos (R-NY) to recuse himself from his two committee assignments until he no longer was a “distraction.” That’s a long story for another day.

January 13, 2023

House Out for Blood, DDT in Trouble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bad day for DDT and Bannon:

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

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

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

January 4, 2023

House Speaker Elections, More News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 18, 2022

News – December 18, 2022

Politics surrounding Covid and other health issues can kill people. According to two studies, mortality rates are higher for working-age people living in more-conservative U.S. areas and places with more conservative state policies. Expansion of social safety nets, increase in minimum wages, and taxes on unhealthy behaviors such as smoking increase human lifespans. Researchers examined Covid mortality records and stress on hospital intensive care units as well as congressional members’ overall voting records and whether the state was a political trifects, governor and both legislative chambers of the same house. States with GOP-controlled governments had 11 percent higher Covid rates, also 26 percent higher in areas where voters lean conservative. Hospital ICU capacity followed the same higher pattern when state political power was conservative. Public policies such as general opinions about masks and vaccines helped change the nation’s pattern of Covid mortality.

“If liberty means you’ve got guns and that gun is accessible when you’re having a depressive episode, they’re not there to coddle other citizens.”

If all states implemented liberal policies on the environment, gun safety, criminal justice, health and welfare, labor, marijuana, and economic and tobacco taxes, 170,000 lives would have been saved in 2019, but conservative policies in all states would have caused about 217,000 more deaths, “the equivalent of a 600-passenger airplane crashing every day of the year.” Blocking nationwide abortion services can increase maternal deaths by 25 to 30 percent.

Covid vaccines have saved 3.2 million lives and kept over 18.5 people in the U.S. out of the hospital, according to a new study that states this estimate is conservative. Thus far, Covid caused almost 100 million cases and over 1 million deaths in the U.S. Healthcare is again featuring the use of masks as numbers of Covid cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are increasing.

Long-Covid also killed over 3,500 people during the first 30 months of the pandemic, 30 percent in adults 75 to 84 years old with more deaths over 85 years old and more in males than females. Almost all the deaths were among non-Hispanic Whites. This figure could be a large undercount. At least 7.5 percent of the U.S. population suffer symptoms lasting over three months after contracting the virus. Diagnosis is frequently cognitive impairment, breathlessness, fatigue, and coughing, but others have debilitating pain, racing heartbeats, and severe neurological tremors. New studies reveal brain disorders.

Benjamin Abramoff, director of the Post-COVID Assessment and Recovery Clinic at Penn Medicine, cautioned that it is difficult to draw conclusions from the study without additional details about the patients’ medical histories and the severity of their covid infections.

On other subjects:

Fewer than two weeks before the GOP judicial majority takes over North Carolina’s Supreme Court, the current court ruled 4-3 that Republicans acted unconstitutionally to decrease Democrats’ influence by gerrymandering and its voter ID law intentionally discriminating against Black voters by 4-3 decisions. We’ll watch to see that the state’s high court does after its control in 2023.

The District of Columbia Circuit Court ordered the ending of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) Title 42, permission to expel migrants from U.S. borders because of Covid, on December 21 unless the Supreme Court interferes. Since DDT’s order in March 2020, over 2.4 million people have been expelled. To qualify for asylum, migrants must face persecution for specific reasons such as their race or political opinion.

Wonder how Brett Kavanaugh will vote in the Supreme Court? The man who loves beer attended a party hosted by Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC) chairman Matt Schlapp and also partied with DDT’s top adviser Stephen Miller, suspected sex-trafficker Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Sebastian Gorka, and other far rightwing celebrities.    Congress may have salvaged marriage equality in the U.S., but women may lose their rights to birth control, just as many of them had lost to have abortions. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) handpicked Matthew Kacsmaryk and was confirmed by only GOP votes for a federal court in Texas. In Deanda v. Becerra, he opposed the part of Title X, a federal law for over 50 years that provides grants to health providers funding  voluntary and confidential family planning services for patients that includes “services for adolescents.”

With no standing, a father sued to block all grants not requiring patients under 18 to “obtain parental consent” before receiving Title X-funded medical care in opposition to the “minor’s right to privacy” including a right to contraception, which Alexander Deanda states is unconstitutional. He never tried to get Title X-funded care, his daughters never attempted to get it, and he doesn’t indicate that they might seek Title X-funded care. He just says that one of his daughters might try to get contraception, and Kacsmaryk agreed. Deanda uses a Texas state law, despite the federal law being “the supreme Law of the Land” with state law yielding to federal law. The federal appeals court case Doe v. Iwin (1980) rules “as with adults, the minor’s right of privacy includes the right to obtain contraceptives.” The Supreme Court, however, could overturn minors’ rights, and maybe even contraceptive rights for adult women.

Kacsmaryk follows Justice Samuel Alito’s devotion to centuries-old rulings by claiming that “the common law held minors were incapable of giving consent to make important life decisions.” The judge in this case ignores English and early American law permitting minors to consent to sex as early as age 12 when he states that 17-year-olds historically have no control over their sexuality. Thus he ruled that “the Title X program violates the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing of their children.” Public universities can’t even leave out a basket of free condoms with the danger that someone under 18 could take one. Deanda’s goal is to shut down Title X, and Kacsmaryk seems quite happy to do so.

Cruel cold weather is attacking a good part of the U.S., and corporate utility giants will benefit from the bills. The nine largest energy utility companies collected almost $14 billion in profits in 2022’s first three quarters and about over $11 billion benefiting wealthy shareholders with dividends and stock buybacks. Energy companies are sharing in the high costs of inflation to give themselves billions. Because some people cannot afford the higher bills, utilities have shut off households’ power 440,000 times across 15 states making their rates publicly available, a large increase from last year. Southern Company’s Georgia subsidiary raised rates almost 12 percent in June 2022, and its Tennessee subsidiary increased rates 25 percent two months later.

FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried has been arrested and denied bail in the Bahamas for his alleged massive fraud in the company with eight counts of wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering, and campaign finance violations. After saying he will fight extradition, he reversed his position and plans to return to the U.S. where he faces a possible 115 years in prison.

Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R-UT), Ronna McDaniel, may lose her position leading the RNC because of the GOP losses in the past three general elections, her entire term as RNC chair.

U.S. inflation is still going down for the fifth month in a row while the rates around the world are rising in major economies.

The past week has revealed more information about texts from Mark Meadows, DDT’s former chief of staff, who Mother Jones’ David Corn calls “a liar—at least by omission.” Last year, Meadows’ book, The Chief’s Chief, worshipped DDT and blamed his presidential loss on Fox’s “less-than-enthusiastic coverage” of the candidate, purported media conspiracies, and massive fraud. Unfortunately, he had no proof but insisted that DDT had won the election because of the “palpable” excitement at rallies and the “feeling I got during the final days of President Trump’s campaign.” Plus proof from the social media. DDT’s January 6 speech was only a farewell address that “did not call for violence” and told Meadows he didn’t intend to go to the U.S. Capitol, despite evidence to the contrary.

The trove of thousands of text messages revealed by Talking Points Memo that Meadows received and sent during the post-election period created a new picture. Some of them had been already made public, but one outstanding came from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) on January 17, 2021 citing a conspiracy theory of Dominion Voting Systems rigging the election declared:

“Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!” [Norman misspelled “martial” law.]

Meadows left that out of his book, and Norman is back in Congress for another two years. Meadows discouraged none of the texts calling for insurrection to overturn Joe Biden’s election. According to TPM:

“Meadows received at least 364 messages from Republican members of Congress who discussed attempts to reverse the election results with him. He sent at least 95 messages of his own… The members who messaged Meadows about challenging the election included some of the highest-profile figures on the right flank in Congress, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), all of whom are identified as playing leading roles in the effort to undo Trump’s defeat.”

Three days after the election, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) wrote Meadows:

“Mark, When we lose Trump we lose our Republic. Fight like hell and find a way. We’re with you down here in Texas and refuse to live under a corrupt Marxist dictatorship. Liberty!”

Some of this information may appear in the last House January 6 investigative committee hearing at 1:00 pm EST.

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.     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.

August 18, 2022

News – August 18, 2022

Another day, and another news cycle largely fixated around Deposed Donald Trump.

In pleading guilty to a 15-year-long tax fraud, decades-long CFO for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, agreed to testify against DDT’s business but not DDT. Weisselberg admitted he failed to pay taxes on $1.7, concealing it from his accountant, and pled guilty to 15 felonies. He agreed to five months in the notorious Rikers Island jail followed by five years of probation instead of 15 years in prison as well as repaying $1.9 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties to New York state and New York City.

Consider all the “good men” who DDT promised he would select to surround him in government. Those charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison: former campaign chair Paul Manafort, former campaign vice chair Rick Gates, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, former adviser and campaign aide Roger Stone, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. DDT’s former National security adviser Michael Flynn was charged and convicted, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon was charged with wire fraud and money laundering before DDT pardoned him, and his former inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack was charged with illegally lobbying DDT on behalf of a foreign government. These are the criminals selected by a Republican “tough on crime” who represents the “law and order” GOP. When talking about the border wall in 2019, DDT said, “I care about crime.”

DDT’s sons aren’t bothered about crime. Trump Organization executives Donald Jr. and Eric Trump argued that it’s not a big deal because people dodge taxes all the time. The $1.76 million in taxes that Weisselberg didn’t pay to the government is “pennies on the dollar.” In another encouraging response, conservative Newsmax host Greg Kelly said that DDT could run from prison if he’s indicted. Former Donald Trump campaign attorney Joe diGenova pointed out that “Eugene Debs ran for president from a federal prison,” referring to the activist charged under the Espionage Act who competed with Warren Harding in 1920.

A federal magistrate judge appointed by DDT said he may unseal at least part of the probable cause affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago and stated the it wouldn’t jeopardize the investigation into DDT’s alleged theft of government documents. The argument against the release also expressed concern for “the safety of the witnesses.” Conservatives have also threatened FBI agents, the judge, and his family members. DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb was in court but said nothing.

DDT’s spokesman Taylor Budowich accused the DOJ of trying to “hide” the affidavit and said that DDT was “clear” that people “should be permitted to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid and break-in of his home.” He criticized redacting any part of the document, possibly so that DDT could discover the informant(s). The judge asked for DOJ’s suggested redactions by August 25. DDT doesn’t realize that publicizing the affidavit may not help his cause.

In another disagreement, DDT’s aides want him to release the surveillance footage of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago that he claims to have. They don’t know if DDT has seen the footage himself and may not know what is on it. Other people close to DDT are concerned about its footage because it could be a strong visual of the quantity of documents illegally taken from the White House. DDT is also angry about news reports that he cannot find experienced legal advice and disputed the story in Washington Post. He said he’s “very happy with” his “excellent and experienced” lawyers. As the article stated:

“The former president’s current legal team includes a Florida insurance lawyer who’s never had a federal case, a past general counsel for a parking-garage company and a former host at far-right One America News.”

The government may need to take some action on whether the documents are actually classified. Two months ago, Kash Patel, once an aide for former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), now the Truth Social CEO, declared he would retrieve documents from the National Archives and publish them on his website. DDT had told the National Archives it should give Patel and conservative journalist John Solomon, fired by the conservative Hill, access to nonpublic administration records. Chief of staff for the acting defense secretary during the last months of DDT’s term, Patel claimed that DDT had declassified a large collection of “Russiagate” documents but the White House counsel blocked his getting them and sent them to the National Archives.

A federal judge ruled that DDT’s media and technology company must turn over information about Nunes’ employment after the former representative filed a $75 million defamation lawsuit against Hearst Magazine Media Inc and journalist Ryan Lizza. The suit involves a 2018 Esquire magazine article stating that the Nunes dairy cow farm had moved from California to Iowa. A district court dismissed the lawsuit a year ago, but the 8th Circuit Court resurrected it with a ruling about the single publication rule based on a tweet by Lizza. Nunes has a history of filing—and losing—multiple lawsuits, stating his right to an “unimpaired reputation” as a “sacred right.”

A federal judge blocked partial enforcement of Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ruling that it suppresses free speech. He compared the state to the upside-down world in Netflix’s Stranger Things, picturing “a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world.”The law prevents teaching race-based school curriculum and mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training in private companies.

According to the DOJ, the Florida GOP intentionally targeted Black voters with their new voting restrictions last year. In March, a U.S. District judge blocked the restrictions on absentee ballot drop boxes, regulations for third party voter registration groups, and a ban on providing food and water to people standing in line to vote. The deeply conservative 11th Circuit Court overturned the block while considering an appeal. The DOJ agreed with the court’s findings that the state’s lawmakers passed the laws to harm Black voters after their turnout surged in 2020 and violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting practices. The judge also said the risk of racial discrimination was so severe that the state needed to get approval from a federal court for the next decade to change its voting laws. That ruling was also blocked, pending appeal. Judicious about involvement in state voting laws, the DOJ has also filed challenges to laws in Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. 

Edging closer to Fox network conservatism with its new management, CNN has canceled the Brian Stelter show, Reliable Sources, which discusses the media. Stelter has led the show for nine of its 30 years. In a February episode, he expressed a concern about the influence of investor John Malone, a major financial stakeholder of the new Warner Discovery conglomerate. Author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Stelter has been targeted by conservative critics. Corporate leaders claim they want more reporting and less opinion on CNN.

The DOJ has subpoenaed the National Archives for all the documents that it provided to the House January 6 investigative committee for the grand jury. The subpoena lists “all materials, in whatever form,” including the more than 770 pages of documents that DDT unsuccessfully tried to claim executive privilege over.

Jared Kushner’s book, Breaking History, may have received the worst possible review from the New York Times. Some bits:

“He betrays little cognizance that he was in demand [in the White House] because, as a landslide of other reporting has demonstrated, he was in over his head, unable to curb his avarice, a cocky young real estate heir who happened to unwrap a lot of Big Macs beside his father-in-law, the erratic and misinformed and similarly mercenary leader of the free world. Jared was a soft touch.”

The book is “earnest and soulless” that “almost entirely ignores the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership, and so on, ad infinitum, to speak about his boyish tinkering (the ‘mechanic’) with issues he was interested in.” [The Secret Service moniker for him was “mechanic.”]

“You finish Breaking History wondering: Who is this book for? There’s not enough red meat for the MAGA crowd, and Kushner has never appealed to them anyway. Political wonks will be interested—maybe, to a limited degree—but this material is more thoroughly and reliably covered elsewhere. He’s a pair of dimples without a demographic.”

The NYT was alone in its criticism. The Guardian called it “dispiriting,” and Goodeads reviewers averaged it at 2.2 points out of 5. Most major publications, however, just chose to review the NYT review.

Outside politics, a new study from Oxford University of over one million patient files discovered that people recovered from COVID are at higher risk of “brain fog,” dementia, and psychosis for two years after the infection. Some symptoms such as anxiety and depression can level off, in line with other respiratory diseases after two months. People between 18 and 64 suffer from brain fog at a rate 16 percent higher than patients with other respiratory diseases, and the difference is greater for those over the age of 65. Even the mild Omicron variant poses similar long-term risks. Only those in the health system with a COVID diagnosis were included in the study, undercounting those with only mild symptoms. People might want to wear their masks.

And those are pieces from August 18, 2022.

June 12, 2022

Catchup – June 5-12, 2022

Update: Nine infants—two more than originally reported—have died since early 2021 after consuming baby formula produced at the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis (MI). The source of the infection could not be identified, sometimes because not enough formula remained for testing. Complaints were discovered through a Freedom of Information request; consumers also reported 25 for “life-threatening illness/injury” and 80 for “non-life-threatening illness/injury.” The Sturgis plant opened last week.

Mass shooting, June 9: Six people, three dead and three injured, were shot by a male at a manufacturing facility north of Smithsburg (MD), in the northwestern part of the state. The suspect was shot by a state trooper who was injured when the suspect shot him.

Mass shootings, June 10-12: At least seven mass shootings left at least five people dead and 27 others injured in seven cities: New Orleans, Detroit, Louisville (KY), Decatur (GA) Antioch (TN), Gary (IN) and Chicago. In another incident, three people were shot and wounded Friday afternoon at a shopping mall in Temple Hills (MD), a suburb of Washington, D.C., but the number of people shot doesn’t rise to the minimum of four people shot and/or wounded at one time.

A few happenings while people were focused on the January 6 hearings:

With much excitement, the media announced a Senate compromise proposal between ten Democrats and ten Republicans for gun reform. If all the Democrats agree and the ten Republicans don’t flip-flop, it would meet the 60 percent majority necessary to pass anything in the Senate. Don’t get too excited—it doesn’t do much. Provisions:

  • Juvenile records of gun buyers under age 21 available (to whom?) when they undergo background checks.
  • State funding for implementing “red flag” laws making it easier to temporarily take guns from people considered potentially violent, legally only in only 19 states and D.C., and bolstering school safety and mental health programs.
  • Some more people required to have federal dealers’ licenses, mandating background checks of more purchasers.
  • Domestic abusers not living with a former partner, such as ex-boyfriends, barred from buying firearms.
  • Criminalizing the purchasing a weapon for someone who doesn’t quality for ownership.

Missing? No bans of semi-automatic AR-15 style rifles; no increase in the age for buying these extra-lethal weapons; no barring large-capacity magazines; and no giving federal courts the power to rule when local authorities want to remove from people considered dangerous.

Little will change, and Republicans will brag while repeating that gun reform bills do no good.

Drew Tipton, a federal judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), vacated guidelines giving priorities for immigration enforcement. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest immigrants deemed risks for public safety or national security risks and recent border crossers. Tipton acknowledged the federal government had discretion but said guidelines bind officials in a “generalized, prospective manner” in decision making. It was his second ruling against President Joe Biden’s policy.

A chief scandal during DDT’s administration was the kidnapping of at least 3,900 children at the border when DHS separated families to punish them. With no tracking of these separations, DDT’s officials didn’t bother to reuify families back together again. A current ICE official from DDT’s time called the reunifications a “fiasco” because they occurred too fast. Former official Matthew Albence, who described migrant family jails as “summer camps,” worried that the parents’ court proceedings could return them to a Customs and Border Protection facility before their children could be sent to the program for unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings.

The D.C. bar regulating attorneys charged DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with an ethics violation because he “pushed baseless claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election in a Pennsylvania court and [violated] two professional conduct rules in the state.” The charges also included Giuliani’s support of a Pennsylvania lawsuit filed by DDT’s campaign to overturn the state’s election results when Giuliani sought an emergency ruling to prevent certification of the presidential election. The lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania was dismissed. The D.C. Bar argues that the affidavits were “(a) unsupported, (b) unrelated to Trump voters (c) involve conduct outside the seven Defendant Counties, and (d) by their own terms were isolated incidents that could not have affected the presidential election’s results by offsetting the Biden majority of over 80,000 votes.” A hearing will now be scheduled and Giuliani will have an opportunity to respond. A year ago, New York blocked Giuliani from practicing law in his home state. The

A Wisconsin judge found Michael Gableman, former state Supreme Court justice who led the state bogus investigation on overturning the presidential 2020 election, in contempt because he berated the judge and refused to answer questions while on the witness stand. The hearing concerned questions for one of three open records lawsuits that the watchdog organization American Oversight filed against Gableman, the speaker of the state Assembly, and the Assembly itself.

Far-right conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones lost his bankruptcy lawsuit, intended to preserve his fortune in three separate companies after legal settlements with families of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School 20 child victims after Jones called the shooting a hoax. DDT appointed the judge who dismissed Jones’ case. The parents’ defamation lawsuits against Jones can continue after Jones’ followers subjected them to harassment and death threats.

Before COVID vaccinations, the per capita death rate for Black people in the U.S. was almost twice that for White people and over twice that of the Asian rate. Latinx death rates were less than for Blacks but above the average. Blacks and Latinx had less access to the shots, but the death rates have now flipped. For the past year, the COVID death rate for Whites in the U.S. has been 14 percent higher than that of Blacks and 72 percent higher than of Latinx. For both these groups the vaccination rate is higher than for Whites. Local outreach provides vaccinations through the Affordable Care Act as workers listen to concerns respectfully and “with humility.”

Because of politics, the share of Whites receiving COVID vaccinations has barely moved in the past year. Only about 60 percent of Republican adults are vaccinated, compared with about 75 percent of independents and over 90 percent of Democrats. Republicans are both disproportionately White and older. In highly conservative White communities, leaders—media figures, politicians, clergy members, and others—spread false or misleading information about vaccines, and people didn’t get the shots. White Republicans, who complain about a conspiracy to replace them, are killing White Republicans. 

After authorities received a tip about a “little army” loading into a U-Haul truck in Coeur d’Alene (D), they arrested 31 people, most of them members of the white supremacist Patriot Front, who participated in the Charlottesville (VA) rally where one of them killed a woman with his car. They wore face coverings, white-supremacist insignia, and shields, and carried a “operations plan” for their plan to riot at an Idaho Pride festival. Some of them had traveled across the county to participate. One of the charges was criminal conspiracy to riot. All of them posted bond and are now free, waiting arraignment later this week. Online threats had been made in the days before the weekend.

Updating Pennsylvania’s crime code, the state House of Representatives unanimously voted to remove the word “homosexuality” from the definition of prohibited sexual acts in sections relating to prostitution and child pornography.

The media focuses on inflation and gas prices, with little reference to price gouging from big business, but it skips the current strength of the economy, better than DDT’s last couple of years:

A slowing job growth remains strong: May added 390,000 jobs, 40,000 more than predicted, while unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent. The current per month job addition is twice what it was before the pandemic. The labor force size also grew in May, meaning less trouble for businesses to fill jobs.

Businesses still struggle with labor shortages: about 11.4 million jobs were open in April, down from 11.98 million in March—almost two open jobs for each of the six million people considered unemployed. A record number of people, 4.2 million, continued to leave jobs, keeping businesses from making layoffs; only 200,000 people signed jobless claims for the last week of May, 11,000 fewer than the previous year. The number of people on unemployment insurance is the lowest since December 1969.

Wage growth is cooling off: economists agree that slowing wage growth also slows inflation. Average hourly earnings rose 5.2 percent during the year ending in May but fell from a 5.5 annual increase in March.

Supply chain snarls are still boosting prices: Prices are increasing because of shortages, shipping delays, port bottlenecks, factory shutdowns, and problems from the war in Ukraine, but manufacturing picked up.

Fed rate hikes show no end in sight: during the next two meetings, the Feds may have two 0.50 percent increases.

DDT is gone and so is his new paint design for Air Force One. He ordered a red, white, and blue color scheme, similar to his private 757, but it costs more. The dark blue color on the plane’s belly and engines also creates heating problems on the aircraft, costing more to cool some of the components. The light blue and white motif will likely stay.

June 1, 2022

Month Disappoints Republicans

In one of today’s mass shootings, at least four people were killed at a Tulsa (OK) hospital campus. The shooter also died, possibly from self-inflicted wounds. Up to ten people were also wounded. Response time was three minutes. There are more prayers.

President Joe Biden opened the annual commemoration of LGBTQ Pride Month with a proclamation confirming his administration’s commitment to the queer community. Noting that the community has been under “relentless attack” by Republican politicians and far-right extremists, he stated that the massive amount of anti-LGBTQ legislation targeting children creates difficulties for “LGBTQI+ youth, 45 percent of whom seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year.” Congressional legislations for any LGBTQ protection remains stalled between the two political parties.

Meanwhile, GOP social media attacked Biden, the queer community, and immigrants after 250 anti-LGBGTQ bills were pushed throughout the U.S., primarily against children and transgender people. On June 1, the GOP honored Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by highlighting New Hampshire National RNC Committeeman Chris Ager. AAPI Month was in May.  The House has two AAP members, Kim Young and Michele Steel, but the two women were not mentioned.

The United States entered Memorial Day weekend with new coronavirus cases at least five times higher than this point last year. Paxlovid, given to people testing positive to keep them from serious illness, can cause negative tests a few days later before the symptoms and positive tests return in a few days, even in vaccinated people. The DOJ has asked the 11th Circuit Court to overturn the decision from a judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to remove any mask requirements for public transportation.    

New Omicron variants are more immune-resistant than the original strain, creating concerns that vaccines may be outdated when they become available in a few months. BA.4 and BA.5 are substantially more resistant to antibodies and to the dominant strain in the U.S., leading to breakthrough infections. Latest subvariants, almost more pathogenic, may evade the immune protection from a previous Omicron infection. As in the past, the unvaccinated are much more at risk from death than vaccinated people. Hospitalizations are up 20 percent in the past two weeks. A U.S. map of danger spots is here.

A month ago, a draft of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked to the public. Now the Supreme Court is creating its own scandal through Chief Justice John Roberts’ unprecedented order for clerks to give the Marshall private cellphones and sign affidavits. Law experts advise clerks to obtain independent counsel. According to a unanimous decision in Riley v. California (2014), warrantless searches by police are not permitted. Roberts said that cellphones “hold for many Americans the ‘privacies of life.’” Even Samuel Alito, who opposes women’s reproductive rights because the constitution does give the right to privacy, reluctantly assented. If clerks take the case to the Supreme Court, it would have to recuse themselves because its integrity is at issue.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote that “such heavy-handed tactics [shows] the Supreme Court has become just another D.C. workplace roiled in political finger-pointing and blame-casting.” She also pointed out “infidelities” at the court: “refusing to adopt a strict code of ethics and to recuse oneself from cases implicating a spouse’s conduct [and] deliberately misleading senators during one’s Supreme Court confirmation process by insisting, apparently with fingers crossed behind one’s back, that Roe v. Wade was settled law.” Another court failure is ruling that guilt is beside the point for prisoners on death row. Another question is why Roberts, if he wants to find the truth, doesn’t also demand private cellphones and signatures on affidavits from justices. Rubin concluded, “It’s only fair … unless, of course, this invasion of privacy is just too offensive for the justices to contemplate.

The leak is only an employment matter, according to Mark Zaid who legally represents clients in government leak cases. “If all they did was print it out and give it to Politico, there is no crime that is committed.” It had no consequences of national security leaks, disclosures of classified information, and violations of federal law. The draft document contains arguments, not revelations from intel sources.

On June 1, 2022, a federal jury cleared Michael Sussmann of lying to the FBI to benefit Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the 2016 election, a painful unanimous verdict for Republicans. Special counsel John Durham, appointed by DDT’s former AG Bill Barr, put great effort into convicting Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer who represented the campaign. The jury’s forewoman said, “Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted” and the government “could have spent out time more wisely.” A second juror said, “Everyone pretty much saw it the same way.” Durham was assigned to find wrongdoing among federal agents investigating DDT’s 2016 campaign, and the case was Durham’s first trial. He plans another one in the fall against a researcher accused to lying to the FBI about his research into DDT. Almost all of Durham’s investigation had earlier been examined by the DOJ inspector general before Durham’s appointment. Barr only wanted to obtain more DDT votes in the 2020 election.

Sussmann alleged a secret computer communications channel existed between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank. Prosecutors charged Sussmann for working on behalf of Clinton’s campaign and technology executive Rodney Joffe; Sussmann’s defense attorney explained that he acted on his own without his clients’ knowledge. Fox commentators blamed a poor jury pool for the verdict.

GOP leaders had held out hope in finding Democratic crimes. In September 2020, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed he saw “additional” documents spelling “trouble for former FBI officials. He cited problems for “the Peter Strzoks, the Andy McCabes, the James Comeys, and even others in the administration previously … because of their willingness to participate in an unlawful act.” Meadows said they “should go to jail.” 

At the same time, a top aide for Durham quit, and a congressional aide predicted a “meaningless” result with nothing revealed before the election. It wasn’t. For the past three years, DDT has been saying, “Where is John Durham?” Durham finally announced a grand jury indictment of Sussman a year later, days before the statute of limitations ran out.

Durham’s court filing in February 2022 falsely suggested that a cybersecurity expert used his job in the White House to find “derogatory information” about DDT. Despite Durham’s withdrawal of the accusation, Rep. John Jordan (R-OH) leaped on the statement to falsely blame Democrats for spying “on the sitting president of the United States … and it goes right to the Clinton campaign. DDT said Durham had “indisputable evidence that my campaign and presidency were spied on by operatives paid by the Hillary Clinton Campaign in an effort to develop a completely fabricated connection to Russia.… In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death.”

The trial went against DDT, but he’s still using it for fundraising with the focus on putting Clinton into prison.

In another disappointment for Republicans, a secret DOJ investigation conducted under Barr proves President Obama did not spy on Michael Flynn and the DDT campaign. “A Justice Department probe found that members of the Obama administration did not seek to reveal the identity of General Michael Flynn ‘for political purposes or other inappropriate reasons,’” according to the newly disclosed report. DDT incessantly accused Obama of spying on him, even saying it last week when he rebutted the former president’s convention address in August of 2020. Barr assigned John Bash, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, to do the investigation into spying. With a team of two prosecutors, three FBI agents, and one FBI analyst, Bash “uncovered no evidence,” but the report was classified top secret.  

The 11th Circuit Court rejected Lin Wood’s lawsuit against Georgia state bar authorities because they want the lawyer to undergo a mental health evaluation for his promotion of baseless election fraud theories. The court ruled that Wood failed to show there was “bad faith” behind the bar investigation. He physically assaulted two of his former law colleagues, tweeted that former VP Mike Pence should be executed, called Chief Justice John Roberts a pedophile murderer working with Jeffrey Epstein, and warned followers to stop buying food from Target and Walmart because it has “fetal tissue parts to kill you!” 

A judge refused Sarah Palin, currently candidate for Alaska’s U.S. representative, her request for a new trial in her defamation suit against the New York Times. He said he found no “actual malice” in the editorial’s mistake, not “even a speck of evidence.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told workers he will fire them if they aren’t physically present in the office “a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week.” Remote work “is no longer” acceptable, according to the subject line. Musk made the same demand to workers at his rocket company, Space X. According to economic and financial historian Natacha Postel-Vinay, “most of the evidence shows that productivity has increased while people stayed at home.” Musk also ridiculed companies using rainbows and ads to support Pride Month. In the past, Tesla frequently used rainbows in marketing and participated in Pride parades.

May 15, 2022

Republicans: The Cult of Death

David Barnhart, a pastor in Alabama, wrote the following about the anti-abortion, so-called “right-to-life” movement banning abortions:

“’The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

The anti-abortion movement—actually the anti-choice movement because they don’t want to give rights to people—calls itself the “right to life,” but it’s actually only rights for the human zygote, embryo, or fetus. Conservatives’ respect for life by conservatives disappears at the instant a fetus emerges from the uterus. From then on, they embrace death:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants to starve migrant babies held in custody for crossing the southern border because selfish baby formula manufacturers have caused a shortage.

New state anti-abortion laws block treatment for ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tube, cervix, abdominal cavity, ovary or scar from a cesarean section instead of in the uterus. They never result in a birth and are guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman without surgery. A Louisiana bill would permit the charge of murder for anyone who miscarries or needs surgery for ectopic pregnancies. An Ohio bill would mandate doctors to “reimplant” an ectopic pregnancy, medically impossible. An Oklahoma state senator disagreed with permitting surgeries for these pregnancies. Texas law does not define exceptions for medical emergencies, and a doctor denied a woman treatment for her ectopic pregnancy before she was rejected at an emergency room. At least one pharmacy refused to fill prescriptions for this condition. Ignorant legislators create these bills which are then supported by more ignorant people. If laws allow ectopic pregnancies, the confusion may keep women from seeking help. In some states, medical students receive limited education about abortion which means they also don’t know how to care for patients who have had miscarriages. The women who die don’t have the “right to life.”

The Supreme Court supporting “right to fetuses” opposed life for Clarence Dixon, a schizophrenic executed in Arizona last week. His lawyers said he didn’t understand why he was being put to death and suffered for over 25 minutes during the procedure. Age 66 and blind, Dixon is the first execution since Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours, repeated gasping until he died. Witnesses reported that prison had trouble finding a vein for the lethal injection, and Dixon was in pain for 25 minutes until they injected him in the groin. An AP journalist said, “They did have to wipe up a fair amount of blood.” Arizona also has a gas chamber which uses hydrogen cyanide, the same gas used at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Arizona can still kill another 112 people on death row. Supreme Court decisions determined justices shouldn’t meddle in state lethal injections so Arizona can handle the situation any way it wants.  

Republicans virtuously permit people with COVID to infect and kill others with the ridiculous claim of needing freedom from wearing masks. Studies have shown over and over that social distancing, vaccinations, and masks will block the transmission of the disease killing people in a little over two years. Even those who refuse all these precautions have learned how their loved ones have died the hard way, and many of them have admitted this fact. 

In another way to kill people, Republicans block any kind of sex education for young people so that they can protect themselves. Without that knowledge, girls employ myths to avoid pregnancy, myths that don’t work. Their solution is sometimes self-induced abortions, killing the young girls.

In 2008, before President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, over 26,000 people died because they lacked health insurance. Since it passed in 2010, the Republicans have tried non-stop to block health insurance for the poor. Even ten years after the law passed, 45,000 people are still dying each year from lack of health insurance. Even if they don’t die, 25 percent of people in the U.S delay health care for serious illnesses.

GOP hatred for LGBTQ people also promote violent deaths by those with anti-LGBTQ fear and loathing with the attitude that they are following God’s will.   

The deaths of at least ten people in a Buffalo story also shows how cavalier conservatives are permitting mass shootings through the freedom to buy guns. An 18-year-old who had previously threatened a school shooting and posted a “manifesto” on the website murdered people peacefully shopping because they were black. The GOP party line will be that he was a “lone wolf” although the persuasion to stop white people from being “replaced” by minorities has come for the far-right media, especially Fox’s Tucker Carlson, and GOP leaders. This mass shooting was #198 in the first 19 weeks of 2022.

Deliberate income inequality in which Republicans ensure that the wealthy and big business collect the vast majority of assets while people in poverty die from lack of resources.

The conservative anti-science aggression is also causing hunger and starvation by refusing to recognize climate change. Republicans also permit toxic chemicals and other pollution to kill people—if they are poor—to benefit big business.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, said the loss of abortion rights won’t bother most voters although it “might be a little messy for some people.” He blithely commented that women can just drive across state lines for the procedure. No worry about lack of resources, distances from blocks of states banning choice, laws blocking getting an abortion in another state, prosecution for getting an abortion at all. Republicans want to have it both ways—get rid of all abortions while persuading the 70 percent of pro-choice voters that he’s not really against women having reproductive rights. The GOP just wants the discussion to disappear before the 2022 election.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees with Johnson that voters for congressional members don’t really care. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that “angry leftists … don’t even know that overturning Roe means.” They haven’t noticed that 26 percent of respondents to a Monmouth University poll rated their top concern, only one percent below the economic policy. That’s far above the nine percent of them rating abortion policy as the top concern a year ago. McConnell also tries to persuade people that getting an abortion won’t be any problem because it’s up to the states. People who have seen their rights disintegrate won’t believe that either.

In Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft of the ruling that overturns Roe, he bases part of his opinion on the “great” and “eminent” legal authority, Sir Matthew Hale. The English judge and lawyer who died in 1676 at the age of 67, he presided over a witchcraft trial in which he sentenced two “witches” to death.  His “History of the Pleas of the Crown,” published posthumously in 1736, stated that authorities should distrust women who claimed to have been raped, a position still popular in the second half of the 20th century and used even in the 21st century. He wrote the marital rape exemption protecting a man from prosecution if he raped his wife because marriage means the woman has put her body under her husband’s permanent dominion “which she cannot retract.” In the U.S., no state could prosecute a man for raping his wife—even brutally—until 1970. At the current time, 21 states are still more lenient toward marital rape than rape outside the marriage. Men will cling to a legal system in which men complete control their wives.  

His claim about the “deep roots” of history ignores common law in the first decades of the United States that did not regulate abortion before “quickening”—the first feeling of fetal movement occurring as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy. Alito ignored Hale’s description declaring abortion as a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” And he uses as his justification the man who sentences women to death as witches, knows women are liars, and believes women own their wives’ bodies.

Blocking abortion will lead to preventing other human rights such as contraception, same-gender relationships and marriage, biracial marriage, transgenderism, etc. All these rights will be blocked by Republican legislators and their activist partisan judges in a huge government overreach eliminating freedom and liberty for half the people in the country. The GOP has claimed they objected to this practice with Democrats but are now allowing only Christian evangelical laws.  

April 20, 2022

Mizelle Legislates from the Bench, Makes Policy

Many stories appear for a couple of days and then disappear, like Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and possesser of sensitive information, receiving $2 billion from Saudi Arabia for a “loan.” Others, however, start small and then, like Topsy, “growed.” The latest in this category is a federal judge in Florida removing the federal mandate for masks on public transport for the entire country as of the moment she issued her ruling.

Actually, the story has a connection to Jared Kushner: Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s husband, Chad Mizelle, works for the Kushner’s company that got the $2 billion. He went there after he left DDT’s Homeland Security department, a position possibly orchestrated by his ally, white nationalist Stephen Miller who set up all of DDT’s immigration programs. Miller tweeted that people should vote Republican this fall to prevent any more mask mandates.

Mizelle, 33 years old when DDT appointed her and she was confirmed by 49 GOP senators 15 days after DDT lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden, was rated unqualified by the American Bar Association. Never having been a judge before, she had also never tried a case as counsel or co-counsel in her eight years as a counsel. Thus the ABA declared her “not meet[ing] the requisite minimum standard of experience necessary to perform the responsibilities required by the high office of a federal trial judge.” For a lifetime position.

Mizelle made her decision without any oral arguments, just off the top of her head after she looked at the law and checked a definition in the dictionary. The mandatory mask requirement was based on the 1944 federal law known as the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). As a supposed “textualist,” meaning that only the words at the time of writing matter and definitely not the intent, she checked out a contemporary dictionary—not one from 1944 as other so-called textualists might consider. Her decision was based on one definition of the word “sanitation,” the term she used to overthrow the mandate.

To Mizelle, sanitation “measures that clean something, not ones that keep something clean. Wearing a mask cleans nothing.” She pointed out that masks only stop droplets with virus from going into the air. Mizelle explained that the dictionary had two different definitions: to “clean something” or “keep something clean.” But she liked the first one so she used it for her ruling. Michael Dorf, a law professor at Cornell University, wrote:

“She looks at sanitation and says it has these two meanings. She then goes through an elaborate set of arguments why she thinks the first meaning is the better one. But then she says it’s unambiguous, and therefore the agency isn’t entitled to deference… I was not at all persuaded that she had eliminated the ambiguity.” 

Daniel Walters, a law professor at Penn State University, called Mizelle’s approach “so divorced from the text of the statute that it doesn’t deserve to be called textualism.” He continued:

“You can’t just splice the statute into a bag of words, consult a dictionary, pick out your favorite definition, and call that textualism.”

Adding to the peculiarity of Mizelle’s ruling, she twisted the part of the law which gives the CDC power “to make and enforce such regulations as in [its] judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases.”  An explanation of this statement does use the word “sanitation,” but it also adds “and other measures as in [its] judgment may be necessary.” As Ruth Marcus pointed out in her column about the issue, she could also rule that medical professionals won’t need to wear gloves or a gown, even when operating.

Mizelle wrote she overturned the mask mandate because the public didn’t have notice and a chance to comment. The agency had used a “good cause” with a “public health emergency.” Mizelle said that was insufficient. Despite the U.S. recording almost 82.5 million cases and over one million cases in two years. Not to mention that at least one-third of those with COVID suffer from symptoms of “long COVID.”                   

Like many others, conservative law professor Ilya Somin of George Mason University is opposed to the mandate but highly critical of the fallacies in Mizelle’s “reasoning.” He used a graphic comparison, that Mizelle’s ruling would prohibit a regulation to stop people from defecating on the floor of a train or airplane.

“That would not qualify as ‘sanitation’ under Judge Mizelle’s approach because it does not clean anything, but merely ‘keep[s] something clean’ (in this case, the floor).”

Ian Millhiser almost matched that analogy by writing that her definition would not allow CDC to require airlines to fix toilet defects causing sewage to be spewed into the cabin. Instead, the CDC would be forced “to wait until passengers were wading through feces before it could order the airline to clean it up.

Another fallacy in Mizelle’s ruling is her invention of a distinction in CDC regulations between governing “property” and governing “an individual’s liberty interests,” opposite to wording of the statutory text. She claimed that the CDC can regulate only “property” and not the person’s liberty. Yet she relies on provisions that have no distinction between “property” and “individual’s liberty” in the CDC’s ability to make regulations. Mizelle seems to have created that justification out of thin air.

The instant that airline pilots heard about the rule, many of them announced, while airplanes were in the air, that the mask requirement was no longer in effect. Much to the dismay of some travelers, others ripped off their masks and cheered. There are no reports of pilots recommending that people might want to voluntarily continue to wear their masks for the protection of both themselves and others, especially those who are immunocompromised and expected safety for their flights. As one person tweeted:

“Airlines dropping mask mandates mid-flight is such a classic example of capitalism making a mockery of consent. People got on a plane with the understanding others would be masked. Suddenly they’re trapped at 10,000 feet in a COVID deathtrap free for all. Nightmare sh*t.”

One person said:

“We’re still taking off our shoes because of one dude 21 years ago but can’t be bothered to wear masks after 1,000,000 dead from a virus that’s still killing over 500 a day. What a world.”  

A former clerk for Clarence Thomas, Mizelle had a record for dismantling civil rights protections during her two years as counsel to the associate attorney general in 2017 and 2018. According to a leadership coalition of more than 200 civil and human rights organizations, she participated in “rescinding Title IX guidance that protected transgender students, filing a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that businesses have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, asking the Census Bureau to insert a citizenship question on the 2020 form, and arguing in court that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional.” Her amicus brief for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed a labor union request that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide emergency standards protecting health care providers and other essential workers.

Mizelle belongs to the far-right Teneo Network and called Thomas “the greatest living American.” In a speech to the conservative Federalist Society, she said that paper money is unconstitutional. If she is as bright as people have claimed, her ruling simply came from her personal disagreement with mask mandates.

After the CDC asked for an appeal to Mizelle’s finding, the DOJ is moving forward to oppose her decision although the mask mandate is currently due to expire in under two weeks. The courts will likely take longer than that to make a ruling, but the serious flaws in Mizelle’s decision make it a dangerous decision about public health in the U.S. According to an Associated Press-NORC poll this week, the majority of people support the mask mandate for shared transportation—56 percent compared to 24 percent opposed. Approval was at 63 percent in a YouGov poll.  

If you consider this too much nit-picking, think about how many DDT judges will control our lives and use their skewed “textualism” to push their far-right agendas. Not one Republican demanding that Ketanji Brown Jackson not “legislate from the bench” has said anything about Mizelle’s bad legislation and avoidance of judicial neutrality. And DDT’s youthful, unqualified judges are with us for their lifetimes.

Although the U.S. undercounts COVID cases with at-home testing, the official number of infections has increased 47 percent in the past two weeks in 34 states and Washington, D.C. Sixteen states and Washington, D.C. have an increase in hospitalizations. And wait until fall when more variants and more cases sweep across the nation.

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