Nel's New Day

November 7, 2022

One Day to the End of Democracy

Tomorrow will be the turning point for democracy in the United States when ballots are due for the 2022 midterm election. Results will trickle in with slow counts where ballots haven’t been touched until the polls close on November 8, causing conservatives to begin suing for fraud. A few other decisions may dribble on as states requiring a majority have runoffs, maybe the U.S. Senate race from Georgia. The question is whether people are willing to give up their rights and their benefits—like Social Security and Medicare—to get a dollar or two off their gas and hand off democracy to power-hungry Republicans and greedy corporations.

One lie about elections has already been clarified. For six years, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) railed about the “witch hoax” surrounding the Russian interference in elections that helped him win. With a declaration from Russian president Vladimir Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, the “hoax” has been eliminated and the “witch” exposed. The oligarch’s admission, revoking his denial of participation:

“Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do.”

Known as “Putin’s chef” because he caters for the president, Prigozhin earlier revoked his denial about running the Wagner Group mercenary force to claiming he was behind the forces and bragged about its involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian law prevents private military contractors, but state media openly reports on Wagner’s forces in Ukraine. In 2018, the U.S. charged Prigozhin, a dozen other Russian nationals, and three Russian companies with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of DDT’s winning 2016 presidential election as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Election deniers still have no evidence of fraud for a “stolen election,” and a judge in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan concurs by dismissing a lawsuit from Kristina Karamo. The DDT-endorsed nominee for secretary of state, who claims that elites drink blood from abortions tried to disqualify over 60,000 mail-in ballots from Detroit. The plaintiffs had no evidence and couldn’t explain what relief they wanted, the first time in the judge’s 26-year experience. He also blasted the plaintiffs for waiting months after the alleged violations in August to file their suit. He said that disenfranchisement “cannot be permitted.”

Karamo has company: organized groups in Michigan are disputing voters who requested or cast absentee ballots, promising future litigation. Pennsylvania ruled that mail-in ballots without voter-written dates won’t be counted even if they come before Election Day. A court ruling in Wisconsin blocks ballots if the required witness address is incomplete. Earlier this year, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled failure to count undated mail ballots violates federal civil rights law, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision as moot because the election was over. Philadelphia voters can cast a replacement ballot at city hall which doesn’t work for disabled voters; they mail in their ballots because they aren’t mobile.

Democrats are suing to count undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots be counted in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit maintains that the date requirement is immaterial and enforcing it violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The filing states that the date “has no bearing on a voter’s qualifications and serves no purpose other than to erect barriers to qualified voters exercising their fundamental constitutional right to vote.” Last Friday, civil rights groups filed a similar complaint. The Supreme Court ruled these undated ballots should be counted in a June decision.

A judge in Wisconsin has refused a lawsuit from a Republican state legislator to block all military mail-in ballots to be blocked from the state’s vote because he considered disenfranchising over 1,400 service members a “drastic remedy.” Rep. Janet Brandtjen brought her suit with the conservative Thomas More Society and Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who failed to find election fraud in a year-long review of the 2020 election for GOP lawmakers. Gableman requested trying to rescind the state’s election results.

The problem began with Milwaukee’s deputy elections director’s stunt when she sent multiple fake names for military members’ ballots to state GOP Rep. Janel Brandtjen as proof of election fraud. Promoter of lies about elections, Brandtgen received three military ballots under fake names, gave them to the Waukesha County sheriff’s office, and released the information in a news release. The election official has been fired and charged with a felony and three misdemeanors.

Unlike almost all other states, Wisconsin does not require service members to register to vote for casting their ballots, and a state website permits people to order military ballots without providing proof of residency. Election officials have seen no other evidence of ordering absentee fake names, and the problem with three of them was quickly identified.

Last summer, another Republican requested ballots in others’ names to be sent to his home in his attempt to prove problems in Wisconsin’s voting system. He faces criminal charges.

The DOJ will monitor polls in 64 communities within two dozen states on Election Day to protect voters’ rights. In addition, the Civil Rights Division will take complaints regarding alleged violations of voting rights laws at 800-253-3931. Two years ago, the DOJ focused on 44 jurisdictions in 28 states. Attorneys at the agency’s National Security Division, overseeing cases related to foreign interference in elections and violent extremist threats to elections, will work with the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices to counter any potential threats.

Priority elections in 2022 will include Florida (GOP Sen. Marco Rubio against Dem. Val Demings for U.S. Senate) and Georgia (Dem. Raphael Warnock against Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate). Other areas are Nevada’s Clark County (Las Vegas) and Arizona’s Pinal County (a bellweather district). In other monitored areas, Yavapai County (AZ) have self-proclaimed militia groups monitoring drop boxes in the past, and Berks County (PA), sheriff’s deputies staffing ballot drop boxes are told to question voters about whether they are returning their own ballot. Five monitored counties in North Carolina have sizable Black populations, two of them experiencing recent racial controversies. Ten of the state’s counties have experienced intimidated or harassed voters and poll workers. In Texas, Harris County (Houston) has been added to the monitoring list. List of locations

Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft (R) is refusing the monitoring because the federal presence would “bully a local election authority” and could “intimidate and suppress the vote.”

In an amazing move, the Supreme Court refused a GOP challenge to Michigan’s congressional district maps for the 2022 election because the election is underway. A three-judge panel had already upheld the maps last April. Georgia Cobb County’s is also facing an investigation because over 1,000 voters failed to receive absentee ballots requested weeks ago. State law mandates they be sent within three business days of processing applications. A lawsuit also sues for the absentee ballots to be sent overnight.

A Georgia judge extended until November 14 the deadline for election officials receiving absentee ballots and ordered replacement ballots to be sent overnight who haven’t already been sent them. Affected voters can also vote in person or with a federal write-in absentee ballot. The county supported Joe Biden by 14 points in 2020.

The 2020 election will likely set the pattern for culture in the U.S. with the 2022 midterms blowing up into massive violence. The GOP position is that every election in which Republicans lose—even some of those when they win—should be litigated and then followed with violence if the judge doesn’t give Republicans what they want. This ideology can move into all parts of people’s lives. Lost school games from football to speech debates should create lawsuits if the conservative side loses. If the judge disagrees, the losers can buy guns and kill people in mass shootings. In the U.S., everyone must always hold a gun in their hands as losers are excused for violence—just like Republicans claimed that the January 6 insurrectionists at the Capitol were “tourists.”

Conservatives will blame every victim for all violence they experience. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) blamed Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for being beaten up in his own home. He was sleeping in his San Francisco home while his wife was in Washington, D.C. A radicalized MAGA-supporter broke into his home and caused possibly irreparable physical damage by striking him with a hammer. Pelosi may never completely heal from head fractures and injuries to his arm and hand. Instead of sleeping, Pelosi should have “shot his attacker,” according to Greene at a GOP rally. Greene also blames Democrats for every victim in the U.S.

That will be life under Republican authoritarianism because legislators like Greene will be running all the committees, according to wannabe House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

October 2, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More in Part II.

July 21, 2022

January 6, 2021 Hearing – July 21, 2022

The eighth hearing from the House January 6 investigative committee lasted 135 minutes and covered 187 minutes while supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) followed following his orders to violently destroy the orderly process of announcing electoral votes for the next president of the United States, Joe Biden. For that entire time, congressional members, their staff, and others were hiding from the insurrectionists while the Capitol Police tried to protect them. The Secret Service, who also feared for their lives and made goodbye calls to their loved ones, smuggled VP Mike Pence out of the Capitol and into safety from the mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence” because he didn’t follow their demands.

Complainers about how the hearings’ information has already been in the news are, in part, correct, but witness testimony verifies what was formerly called hearsay. DDT attacked a Secret Service driver when he demanded he was going to the Capitol for the insurrection and had to be forced back to the White House where he sat in his dining room and watched Fox reporting on the insurrection. For almost three hours he refused to take any action, despite begging from family, friends, and advisers; as Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-OH) said, “He chose not to act.” DDT would not allow any photographs and legal record-keeping of his communications during that time. 

Committee Vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) facilitated the session, and Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), isolated after testing positive for COVID, spoke by video at the beginning and end of the hearing. Kinzinger and Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) led the questioning of witnesses Matthew Pottinger, former National Security Council official, and Sarah Matthews, DDT’s deputy white House press secretary. Matthews, a House GOP staffer, has already been attacked as a liar and a pawn for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the House GOP account from the office of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Jeremy Adler, one of Cheney’s top aide, shamed Stefanik’s team because Matthews is “doing her patriotic duty.” The tweet was then deleted. A second tweet calling tonight’s hearing “heresy,” perhaps meaning hearsay, was also deleted.

Clips at the beginning and end of the hearing play speeches immediately after January 6 by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) given on their chamber floors. McCarthy said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” because he didn’t act “immediately.” McConnell said, “It was obvious that only President Trump could end this” because people were acting on Trump’s behalf and blamed DDT for using false voter-fraud claims to inflame supporters.   

The committee revealed more hearings are planned for September after Congress returns from its August hiatus. More people are volunteering testimony to support the proof DDT’s dereliction of duty and violating his oath to protect the U.S. Constitution.

Showing DDT’s dereliction of duty, White House counsel Pat Cipollone gave a detailed timeline on DDT’s January 6 activities during the insurrection, beginning as early as 2:00 pm when Cipollone and several others pushed for a statement to call off rioters. After a long pause, he answered a question by adding that everyone in the White House wanted the insurrectionists to leave except DDT.

Outtakes of DDT’s videos to—reluctantly—stop the mob’s violence and his follow-up speech the next day demonstrate his refusal to include any mention of peace and vilification of the insurrectionists (which Republicans still call “tourists”). He also couldn’t say, “The election’s over.” DDT did not call any agency—not Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, or any other—for a response to the attack. That was left of to Pence while he was in hiding. Then White House chief of staff Mike Meadows told Gen. Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to say that DDT had called him, not Pence, in an attempt to make him look as if he were in control. Earlier, DDT refused to take a call from the Pentagon that was seeking to “coordinate on the response to the attack.” Adviser Eric Herschman told Cipollone that “the president didn’t want anything done.”

DDT wasn’t through after the failed insurrection. His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani made calls reinforcing support for the plan of overturning the election to such congressional members as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-Mo), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). A voicemail for Tuberville laid out the scheme: “just slow [this hearing] down.”

DDT left his dining room for his White House residence at 6:27 pm on January 6 after his last tweet of the day, a love note to his followers:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously, viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly, unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and peace.”

The last thing DDT said on January 6 was “Mike Pence let me down.” Herschmann said everyone left the White House because they were “drained.”

At the Capitol, congressional members came out of hiding, resumed the electoral vote counting about 8:00 pm, and then finished their job at 3:41 am EST on January 7, 14 hours and 41 minutes after they started. The counting must be done in a session beginning son January 6 unless Congress passes a law changing it.

Senate staff had saved the paper Electoral College ballots when the chamber was evacuated because the mob was breaking into the building.

A lasting video of the eighth hearing is Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) running in terror through the halls and down steps. This was after he thrust his fist in the air in support of the protesters and adding fuel to the violence while he was behind the barricades.

Three days after the insurrection, texts from DDT’s campaign officials and loyalists Tim Murtaugh and Matthew Wolking show their disgust and rage with DDT when he didn’t even acknowledge the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick on the night of January 7. Wolking wrote, “Everything [DDT] said about supporting law enforcement was a lie.”

Viewers see the hearings as building a criminal case against DDT and his enablers of seditious conspiracies in overthrowing the government and forcibly opposing its authority. The DOJ can use the committee’s work. Just as important, however, is “to stop Trump’s continuing attack on American democracy,” according to Robert Reich who lists six ways through the hearings:

Be crystal clear that the continuing attempted coup is based on a lie through repeatedly playing DDT’s former AG Bill Barr stating:  

“I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations [of voter fraud], but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public, that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn’t count and that these machines controlled by somebody else were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense. And it was being laid out there, and I told them that it was—that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that. And it was doing a grave disservice to the country.”

Showing the battle between democracy and authoritarian is non-partisan with all the GOP witnesses who worked for DDT, GOP legislators, GOP-appointed judges, GOP-elected state officials, etc. They are all citizens disgusted by and worried about DDT’s attempted coup.

Appealing to Republican lawmakers to stop supporting DDT’s continuing attempted coup in stressing oaths to defend the U.S. Constitution. 

Explaining how average people fell for DDT’s treachery with disastrous results with witnesses such as Stephen Ayers representing the ordinary “family man and a working man” who took part in the insurrection because he thought DDT wanted him there.  

Reminding people of their duties to democracy as Committee chair Thompson said in the seventh hearing:

“We settle our differences at the ballot box. Sometimes my choice prevails, sometimes yours does, but it’s that simple. We cast our votes. We count the votes. If something seems off with the results, we can challenge them in court, and then we accept the results. When you’re on the losing side, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. And in the United States, there’s plenty you can do and say so. You can protest. You can organize. You can get ready for the next election to try to make sure your side has a better chance the next time the people settle their differences at the ballot box. But you can’t turn violent.”

Presenting DDT’s attempted coup as ongoing like Cheney did when she described DDT’s attempts at witness tampering.

The hearings are making a difference. Without them, DDT’s popularity would increase as people lack information and forget. Instead, the 57 percent of people say DDT has, at least, a good amount of blame for the January 6 insurrection, up from 53 percent six months ago. Half the people think DDT should be charged with crimes based on the evidence presented in the hearings. At least 58 percent of people in the U.S. are paying either a lot of attention (25 percent) or some attention (33 percent) to the hearings.

The drip, drip, drip accumulation about a corrosive DDT provided by the hearings is eroding support for him, shown in polling, focus groups, and fundraising. Part of DDT’s problem is that he won’t stop litigating the 2020 election, which some describe as “Trump fatigue.”

And new evidence will be back in September hearings!


July 3, 2022

Supreme Court Destroys Constitution, Part III

On July 4, 2022, the day that the Continental Congress official accepted the Declaration of Independence, the Supreme Court is considering more steps from democracy to authoritarianism by hearing Moore v. Harper. Justice Clarence Thomas has threatened to remove constitutional rights, but the slate for next year could completely devastate the democracy if the six Supremes give permanent power for setting election rules to state legislatures even if laws violate state constitutions. The court already permits North Carolina’s gerrymandering for 2022 by postponing a decision; Moore argues for the permanence of maps struck down by the state Supreme Court in a finding that the maps favored “extreme partisan advantage” for the Republican Party. The GOP claims that the U.S. constitution prevents state courts from striking down anti-democratic state laws such as gerrymandering and laws eliminating ballots for arbitrary reasons. Republicans want to remove any governor’s ability to veto new state election laws.

Justice Neil Gorsuch already supported the GOP viewpoint in a concurring 2020 vote about the Wisconsin deadline for casting mail-in ballots by stating that “state legislatures—not federal judges, not state judges, not state governors, not other state officials—bear primary responsibility for setting election rules.” Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh support Gorsuch and Thomas in this position, overruling the Court’s multiple precedents rejecting this “independent state legislature doctrine.” Amy Coney Barrett, who votes Republican, is left to split the vote.

When the Moore case appeared last March on the high court’s “shadow docket,” the majority temporarily turned it away with Kavanaugh explaining the case arrived at the wrong time. Alito’s dissent stated he would immediately reinstate North Carolina’s gerrymandered maps and overrule state court decisions he didn’t like. A ruling for the GOP in Moore would give them complete control of how federal elections are conducted in states with GOP legislatures.

In Davis v. Hildebrant (1916), the Supreme Court rejected this theory by upholding a state constitution provision allowing voters to veto state election laws through a popular referendum. Davis defined “legislature,” per the U.S. Constitution’s relevant provisions, as any individual or body possessing some part of power to make laws within a state—the “legislative power.” Therefore, under Ohio’s constitution, “the referendum was treated as part of the legislative power” and thus “should be held and treated to be the state legislative power for the purpose of creating congressional districts by law.” Legal scholars and brothers Vikram David Amar and Akhil Reed Amar supported this position by writing, “state people and state constitutions are masters of state legislatures,” not the other way around.

States can determine, through its constitution, who belong to the “legislative power,” according to Supreme Court precedent. It can give power to the governor, the state courts, a redistricting commission, or the people themselves through referenda and ballot initiatives. Most state governments function this way. Like the federal constitution, state constitutions usually permit the chief executive to veto law, even election law, and give state courts the power to resolve conflicts arising from interpretation of the constitution and existing laws.

Davis has been upheld multiple times since 2016, most recently in 2015 when the high court upheld the right of Arizona’s bipartisan commission to draw congressional maps in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. According to the ruling, “Our precedent teaches that redistricting is a legislative function, to be performed in accordance with the State’s prescriptions for lawmaking, which may include the referendum and the Governor’s veto.” Three of the four dissenting justices—Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Thomas—still sit on the court. Neil Gorsuch indicates he will join their overturn of election precedence.

Moore is a strange case to use in arguing for “the independent state legislature doctrine”: although North Carolina is trying to overturn the court’s authority, its legislature specifically authorized the state courts to hear the case. North Carolina law provides that lawsuits challenging “any act of the General Assembly that apportions or redistricts State legislative or congressional districts” may be filed “in the Superior Court of Wake County and shall be heard and determined by a three‑judge panel.” This court’s decision may then be appealed to the state supreme court, and the law delineates the specific process to be followed in the courts. With no legitimate legal conflict, the Supreme Court accepted the case for Republicans to overturn its own legislative mandate to put only the legislature into complete control.  

The Supreme Court may have taken the case because a majority of justices already intend to roll back all the precedents for over a past century.

Another clause of the U.S. Constitution states that “each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his supporters used this clause in their effort to keep him in the Oval Office: according to them, GOP state legislatures could ignore the popular vote and send electors to vote the way that the GOP legislatures wish. Five Supreme Court justices could take all the power from secretaries of state and elections commissions. The GOP controls 30 state legislatures, enough to elect Republicans in perpetuity. John Eastman, a leader in persuading state legislatures to negate the popular vote, was a law clerk for conservative judge J. Michael Luttig. In an op-ed, Luttig described the GOP “blueprint” for stealing the 2024 election. He wrote:  

“Trump and the Republicans can only be stopped from stealing the 2024 election at this point if the Supreme Court rejects the independent state legislature doctrine (thus allowing state court enforcement of state constitutional limitations on legislatively enacted election rules and elector appointments) and Congress amends the Electoral Count Act to constrain Congress’ own power to reject state electoral votes and decide the presidency.”

More details on the independent state legislature doctrine and why Moore can be the end of U.S. democracy. 

Ruth-Ghiat, scholar of authoritarianism, finds a relationship between the Supreme Court’s radical decisions and the January 6 insurrections. Thomas has gone even further right in his recommendations for future decisions to do away with federal LGBTQ rights, the ability to have contraception, and freedoms of the press and religion. In reference to the last one, she tweeted:

“Self-protection (and protection for corrupt family members) is a huge driver of authoritarian behaviors. He feels threatened and will try and change the legal order to avoid scrutiny. Radicalized people no longer care about ‘how it looks’ to outsiders.”

Ben-Ghiat noted that Thomas’ interest in overturning New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), protecting freedom of the press, came after the House January 6 investigative committee asked his wife, Ginni Thomas, to testify regarding her role in the coup attempt and her potential conflicts of interest. He is also politicizing the Supreme Court. “Politization of institutions is a major warning sign of creeping authoritarianism,” according to Ben-Ghiat. She continued:

“Societies around the world have gone through the same cycles of disbelief, agitation, anger and fear as things worsen. Since the loss of freedoms looks different in every place and time, we can have trouble acting preventively.”

In October 2017, Ben-Ghiat wrote:

“Authoritarianism is not something presented to us as a fait accompli, but something we help along, step by step, by acquiescing to changes in political climates that start with pronouncements by the leader and slowly move the boundaries of what is possible.”

DDT pushed hard for Thomas’s ideas to remove Supreme Court precedents. He follows the practice of “floating extreme ideas so that they enter the mainstream” as a joke or just “an off-the-cuff remark” so that he can take it back or accuse others of mishearing or misrepresenting him if he wants. He has frequently called the press “the enemy of the people” to pass controls on it, violating the Constitution’s First Amendment. He “joked” about VP Mike Pence’s wanting to “hang gays,” leading to a movement criminalizing LGBTQ people and their rights. Two days after DDT’s “joke,” anti-LGBTQ posters with bodies hanging from a noose appeared on college campuses and in social media.

In January 2016, DDT said he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose followers, and the crowd cheered. The media treated his comment as “just being Trump,” but DDT discovered he could violate civilized norms with impunity. Becoming the GOP candidate convinced him he was above the law. Republicans typically use fear to recruit members to their political party; they promise to exercise law and order and then exacerbate situations to increase crime. The GOP demoralizes people through political and social polarization while promising to fix the problem.

Moore is a continuing departure from democracy to authoritarianism by shredding of voting rights. Hearing the case rejects a five-justice decision three years ago in Rucho v. Common Cause which blocks federal courts from addressing whether extreme partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution and claiming state courts can handle any violations of a state constitution. Nine years ago, the Supreme Court removed part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) intended to protect Black voters. A year ago, the court further weakened the VRA by creating greater difficulties in challenging voter regulations disproportionately burdening minority voters.

The justices supporting the “independent state legislature theory” (ISLT) cite history, but this “theory” has no historical basis and no supporting scholarship. If a majority of the high court votes in favor of the case, the chaotic system will result in states not being able to reliably hold unified elections for state and federal offices. Gone will be state constitutional provisions guaranteeing “free,” “free and equal,” or “free and open” elections for federal positions.

May 11, 2022

Republicans Discover Leaks May Come from Conservatives, With to Protesting Protests

Eight days ago, the news was filled with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s rough draft of a majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Republicans were outraged as well along with half the media. It filled the news with a huge number of articles about who did it and how horrible they were. Six days later, Washington Post reported another leak from someone close to the court’s most conservative members. Supposedly Chief Justice John Roberts told his jurist colleagues in a private conference that he would both uphold the Mississippi law and leave both Roe and he later Casey v. Planned Parenthood in place. Therefore, Alito wrote the opinion because, as the most senior justice in the majority opinion, Clarence Thomas could select the opinion author. Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Roberts was trying to persuade Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to join him in moving more incrementally. Roberts’ reputation is on the line because it’s his court.

In the past, Roberts has opposed the Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals because a similar law in Texas was struck down in 2016. The legal principle “stare decisis” means the court should treat “like cases alike.” Last fall, Roberts was in the minority when he declined to join the majority that stated abortion Texas’ bounty law could not be challenged in federal court before it went into effect.    

Note, however, that neither Republicans nor the media have said almost nothing about this particular leak. Was it because it came from “the court’s most conservative members.”

Before this report, Cruz repeatedly stated that the leak came from some horrible liberal because “some left-wing presumably law clerk wanted to put political pressure on the five Justices” in the document’s majority. “They wanted to put heat and they wanted to invoke politics to try to get them to change their vote. And by the way,” Cruz continued, “if that left-wing law clerk succeeds, it would be the most grotesque politicization of the Supreme Court in the history of our nation.” Asked for evidence, Cruz answered, “Because I’m not a moron.” He didn’t give any evidence for that statement either. Cruz was not happy when the journalist suggested a conservative inside the Court leaked the opinion because “they supported the original [Roe] decision and wants to lock them [the Justices] back in.”

Cruz accused peaceful pro-choice protesters of stirring up violence but told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the January 6 insurrectionists were all “peacefully protesting.” No protesters outside the homes of justices have caused trouble, damaged property, or hurt anyone—let alone kill them. They also aren’t making nooses and chanting “Hang Mike Pence” about a justice as DDT’s supporters did about their Republican vice president. Shortly after that attack, however, Cruz described the rioters as “terrorists assaulting police officers, tragically murdering a police officer.”

Cruz now has a new topic, the ethics and legality of people protesting at the homes of justices. It started with one of Brett Kavanaugh’s neighbors standing across from his house with signs and hangers, a symbol of illegal abortions. Since then protests moved to the homes of Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Congress has passed a law protecting them although no one else doctors performing abortions and their patients have not received the same protection. Republicans ignore the fact that men and right-wingers are far more likely to be violent than women and progressives.

The conspiracy theories moved to Alito. On Friday, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students4Life, tweeted, “Justice Alito and his family have been moved to an undisclosed location. Let us pray for he [sic] and his family’s safety.” On Monday, Politico wrote the reports seem to come from conservative lawyer and author Ilya Shapiro who had said on Fox he “heard that Justice Alito has been taken to an undisclosed location with his family.” He didn’t know where it was or whether it was true. According to Shapiro, “I forget whether I saw the rumor on Twitter or somebody told me. I don’t know.” Cruz poured fuel on the flames:

“Shameful. And the Biden White House is encouraging this lawless mob intimidation.”

Cruz is well-known for spreading evidence-free rumors about a variety of subjects.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a supporter of the insurrectionists, has been highly critical of the peaceful protesters at the justices’ homes. Her constituents didn’t take it lightly. This image was headed “Speaking of safety and security for public officials… 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to confirm the anti-abortion justices, called the police after her constituents left a polite chalk message on the sidewalk in front of her house asking her to please vote for a bill to protect women’s rights. She called it “defacement of public property in front of our home”; the Bangor police called it “not overtly threatening.” Collins said she supported both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch because they promised her in meetings and during confirmation hearings that Roe was “settled law.” As Melissa Ryan tweeted, “Susan Collins will put more effort into protecting herself from sidewalk chalk artists than she will protecting everyone else’s right to an abortion.”

Tucker Carlson argued that attempts to influence “any judge, juror, witness, or court officer” could be fined or imprisoned. According to the Supreme Court case Cox v. Louisiana (1965), Carlson may be correct. The court’s opinion stated that “mob law is the very antithesis of due process.” Any trial against protesters, however, would have to prove that the attempt was to influence instead of expressing outrage.

The government has also placed fences and barricades around the Supreme Court building to put protesters at a distance. Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney general in Alabama, tweeted, “Odd that the Supreme Court is acting like they’re under assault, when it’s actually us who are under attack by them.” In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law allowing a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics providing abortion services because the violated the First Amendment’s right to protest. According to the Supreme Court, the barricades are a violation of free speech. And Alito’s rough draft states that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to privacy.

Justice Clarence Thomas worries that protest does not bode well for a “free society,” in a speech at a judicial conference of 11th Circuit judges and attorneys, he complained about how the judiciary is threatened if people are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with.” Thomas’ wife lobbies for the people and groups who appear in front of Thomas in the court, and she was part of the instigation before the insurrection at the Capitol, lobbying then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with overturning Biden’s election because she couldn’t “live with outcomes.”  While unethically supporting his wife’s lobbying and overturning a 49-year-old law, he berated younger Americans for not respecting the law. He wants people to comply with the law but belongs to the cabal overturning the law by reversing two earlier Supreme Court decisions permitting women autonomy over their bodies.

As incensed as Republicans are about leaking a Roe v. Wade decision, the first decision for Roe happened almost 50 years ago. David Beckwith published a story in Time magazine that the court was ready to legalize abortion. It was detailed—when justices met and Justice William O. Douglas rage at Justice Warren Burger’s delay tactics to subvert the outcome. Months before the decision was announced, Douglas’ memo to fellow justices and their clerks describing Burger’s inappropriate power plays was on the front page of the July 4, 1972 Washington Post. Burger did put off the decision until the next session when the court heard the case again in October 1972. Beckwith bird-dogged the case and published the article on January 22, 1973, although it was supposed to come out on January 17, when the announcement was supposed to be announced.

Burger delayed the announcement, however, because he didn’t want to face President Richard Nixon while presiding over his second inauguration. When Time printed the story, Burger was furious because it came out a few hours before the court’s announcement. Burger met with its editors and insisted that Beckwith be fired for “espionage.”

Justice Harry Blackmun was also furious about Beckwith’s article because he planned to make his announcement the apex of his career. Former President Lyndon Johnson, however, scooped everyone: he died on the day of the announcement. The leak, by the way, came from Larry Hammond, a clerk for Justice Lewis Powell. He suffered no repercussions because Powell told Burger “that Hammond had been double-crossed.”  

The right-wingers are proving they can go farther right. Republican Ryan Kelley, running for Michigan’s governor is opposing democracy. He said, “Socialism—it starts with democracy. That’s the ticket for the left. They want to push this idea of democracy, which turns into socialism, which turns into communism in every instance.” The concept comes from the philosophy of the John Birch society opposing one person one vote to protect them from minority people voting. Christian evangelicals in the U.S. are converting to the Russian Orthodox Church in a rejection of democracy. They like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism. 

What’s next?

March 30, 2022

U.S. Putin Wing, Great Russian Assets

QAnon and wingnut pundits are going to put satirists out of business, unable to match the latest theory espoused by Lara Logan, presenter on Fox nation which streams for the network. According to Logan, the wealthy Jewish Rothschild family paid Charles Darwin to create the theory of evolution. On the podcast As We Know, she purported the theory is a hoax, because the question of evolution, a “chicken or the egg” debate, cannot be scientifically answered. Logan has a trail of lies, such as comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci and his vaccinations to the Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele who conducted horrifying experiments in the Holocaust concentration camps. After that comment, Logan had to find a new talent agency. She is one of the many U.S. assets for Russia who spread its disinformation. For example, this lies that Ukraine caused the invasion and Russian President Vladimir Putin is the “man standing between us and the New World Order.” This theory comes from the conspiracy theory that Jews want to control the world.

The Rothchilds are popular with conspiracy theorists. On her Facebook, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claimed they funded a space laser starting the California wildfires. Greene also blamed Ukraine for the invasion, claiming the country is controlled by Nazis. In a video, she said she wants no more military aid sent to Ukraine and called on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to surrender. Greene added that people in the U.S. don’t care about Ukraine and blamed President Obama for the non-existent “bioweapon labs” in Ukraine. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) agrees and thinks that President Joe Biden is collaborating with Ukraine in these labs for chemical weapons.

Logan’s and Greene’s false allegations of “bioweapon labs” in Ukraine have already been debunked several times. In reality, the “labs” are biological research facilities attempting to better detect, diagnose, and monitor infectious-disease outbreaks.  And Hunter Biden was not “financing” these labs. He had no part in a decision to invest in a company at the center of the Russian allegations; he did not profit from it because he was fired by the firm from cocaine allegations; and the company made little money from its tiny bit of business in Ukraine.

Interviewed on Real America’s voice Just the News, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), another Russian asset, called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to find dirt on President Joe Biden’s family. He claimed the wife of Moscow’s late mayor gave Hunter Biden and Joe Biden each $3.5 million. DDT cited a Senate report prepared by Republicans that reporting that a Russian oligarch gave $3.5 million to the company he claims was founded by Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Joe Biden explained that the firm giving Hunter money was not the same one which received the “consultancy agreement” payment from Baturina and that there is no indication of any corruption or relationship to Hunter.

The pattern follows DDT’s calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails during his 2016 presidential campaign. On the day DDT made this request, Russia started targeting Clinton’s accounts. In 2018, DDT also tried to blackmail Zelensky into releasing damaging information on the Biden family by withholding congressionally approved military aid.

DDT’s interviewer, John Solomon, had been fired by the conservative publication The Hill for his smear campaign against former against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch using sources considered not credible. Solomon also had questionable relationships with DDT’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associate Lev Parnas behind the effort to find dirt on both Bidens in Ukraine. Parnas recently pled guilty to wire fraud.

In his speech last Saturday to a smaller than usual crowd in Georgia, DDT went back to praising the world’s top autocrats. He called China’s Xi Jinping “smart” ruling over his country “with an iron fist,” North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un “tough,” and Putin also “smart,” although putting “200,000 troops on the border” was a “big mistake, but it looked like a great negotiation” that “didn’t work too well for him.” DDT’s close associates such as Roger Stone and Roger Bannon have opposed aid for Ukraine.

Among congressional members, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-SC) called Zelinsky a “thug” and Ukraine “incredibly evil.” Eight House members voting against revoking Russia’s normal trade status: Lauren Bobert (CO), Thomas Massie (KY), Matt Gaetz (FL), Andy Biggs (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Dan Bishop (NC), Chip Roy (TX), and Glenn Grothman (WI). Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) supported Russia by voting against a resolution to support Ukraine. Seventeen GOP House members voted against a ban on Russian oil, but Senate Republicans have not taken up the bill.  In Congress, 69 GOP representatives and 31 GOP senators voted against giving Ukraine $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has blocked bills to put sanctions on Russia. Wannabe president Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis blames Biden for Russia’s invading Ukraine, but he refused to divest Florida of $300 million of Russia in investments.  

In addition to Fox’s Tucker Carlson, these GOP leaders are just a few of the U.S. Putin wing, as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) calls them:

  • Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA founder: “It feels as if Putin is going into places that want him. They have voted overwhelmingly to be part of it. It is a family dispute that we shouldn’t get in the midst of, that’s for certain.”
  • Laura Ingraham, Fox network: “We had kind of a really pathetic display from the Ukrainian President Zelensky.”
  • Dinesh D’Souza, convicted felon: “Putin–unlike someone else we know–LOVES his country & FIGHTS for its interests”
  • Michael Lynn, A DDT former national security adviser for three weeks: “[Putin is] a very strong leader. He’s been in charge for a long time. And he’s not going to put up with the nonsense he’s seeing in Europe.”
  • State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-AZ), who called for Maricopa County’s fake ballot count: “Zelensky is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”
  • Nick Fuentes, America First Political Action Conference: “I wish Putin was president of America.”

A large number of people opposing vaccinations and “wellness influencers” claims Biden is “trying to pull a fast one on them by painting Russia as the aggressor” in Ukraine, according to Kiera Butler. She added, “By the time Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, anti-vaccine activists were primed to believe that Putin was the good guy.”

DDT’s former campaign spokesperson A.J. Delgado called reports of Russian bombs hitting maternity wards and other civilian targets “probably bullshit.” Ukraine isn’t a real country, DDT’s fan Candace Owens asserted.

Israel is siding with Russia with its refusal to sell the spyware tool Pegasus to Ukraine and Estonia. The countries wanted to find intelligence from Russian mobile phones. Israel also refuses to provide Ukraine with the Iron Dome antimissile system and other defensive weapons like the ones that the U.S. buys for Israel.

In a circle of lies, Russia feeds them to far-right people in the U.S. who spread them across the country through forms of media before Russia picks them up again for its continuing disinformation campaign. The falsehood about U.S. biological program in Ukraine came from Russia’s Defense Ministry and is now a frequent talking point for the Putin wing. The result is an alternate reality that pushes the idea of the West as the provokers for the Russian invasion. The ones who had not totally bought into the lies then complains about Biden’s lack of aggression after they attack him for an impassioned speech about Putin shouldn’t be Russia’s leader. It’s all a grand game to Republicans, designed to win an election rather than help the cause of democracy and the United States.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson, a typical “snowflake,” led the charge of spreading Russian propaganda so well that Russia state TV plays many of his programs. Yet he can’t bear being called out. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) called his show an “organ of Russian disinformation,” and Carlson said he would sue him for slander. Carlson tried to declare that he is only “interested in the interests of our own country.” He went on to attack Biden and the Democratic party by being wrong about Russian disinformation.

The right-wing in the U.S. wants what Putin has. DDT wants the power to kill with impunity. His supporters want to destroy democracy by claiming “freedom,” to them the right to take over anything they want despite the law and the Constitution. Without any punishment. Even if some conservatives disagree with the Putin wing, they won’t object to it. The Putinites want a pathocracy, in which “a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people,” according to Andrzej Lobaczewski. As long as they are part of that minority. And DDT leads this cult along with the QAnon followers. Chauncey DeVega wrote:

“The Russian partnership has proved invigorating to the American right’s overlapping agendas of white supremacy, masculine authority, and anti-democratic Christian authority… American theocrats are telling us what they seek here at home.”

A new survey shows that the Putin wing, while noisy, is also unpopular. Over three-fourths of U.S. voters, 77 percent which includes 68 percent of the Republicans, disapprove of lawmakers’ expression of support or admiration for Putin, and 71 percent disapprove of DDT’s glowing comments about the Russian president. Only 17 percent approve of those statements.

Democracy is a choice. The question in the U.S. is whether those who choose democracy can overcome the ones who prefer a pathocracy.

January 3, 2022

2022: The GOP March to Fascism

A year ago, hopes were high after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) had to leave the White House after the inauguration of Joe Biden as president. The plan for mass vaccinations was ready to roll, and reasonable people hoped DDT would disappear at Mar-a-Lago. But then came the insurrection on January 6 when DDT’s followers attacked the U.S. Capitol to overturn the election, and the GOP preparation for another coup continued. Despite over 100 judges ruling that the 2020 election had no wide-spread fraud and the failure of even Arizona’s $6 million ballot-counting by a private company, DDT and his followers—including congressional members—lie about a stolen election, inciting more violence. Texas also failed to change votes, and Wisconsin starts a new “audit” every time the old can’t find fraud.

Biden’s economy is far better than during the past four years, but the mainstream and far-right media refuse to publicize positive information. If the bull market, by now with highly overvalued stocks, turns bearish, it can devolve into another depression. The media calls Biden soft while he plays hardball with Vladimir Putin involving Russian threats against Ukraine—ironic DDT ‘s being Putin’s BFF, even allowing Russians to spy inside the Oval Office. China gallops ahead of the U.S. after DDT failed to manage the problems. Congressional hawks cry for blood, threatening world wars, speeding climate warming, and destroying security and economic growth.

The media may beat up on Biden to increase its audience, seriously shrinking without DDT in the White House. It made hay criticizing the withdrawal from Afghanistan and ignored the collapse’s trajectory for 20 years since George W. Bush declared a preemptive war. The media works on the same sensationalism it got from DDT.  

This year’s elections in other countries will help determine the global direction toward democracy or siding with China. South Korea (March 9) and France (April 10 and April 24 runoff) will decide whether to keep a progressive leader while Australia (probably mid-May) will determine whether it has a conservative Parliament. Its decision will determine relationships with the U.S. or China. Sweden’s center-right parties want to take over Parliament (September 11), and Western European far-right is on the rise.

Polls for the presidential election of Philippines (May 9), already leaning toward China, give a strong lead to the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos with current President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter running for vice-president. In Brazil, leftist leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who governed the country from 2003 to 2011, has a comfortable lead for October’s election after the Supreme Court threw out his conviction of corruption. Right-wing incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, known as the Trump of South America, is trailing by 30 percent, and Serge Moro, the judge who help to put Lula into jail, has only six percent.

Before DDT lost his election, he endorsed the authoritarian Bolsonaro, and four days before Poland’s election day last July, he endorsed the winner, incumbent President Andrzej Duda, for his restrictions on the judiciary, media, and civil society. Now he formally supports Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in more opposition to democracy. Because of gerrymandered districts, the election in April or May will likely go to Orbán who consolidated hundreds of media outlets to be controlled by political allies, gamed elections, and expanded his power with the excuse of the pandemic. The title of a Vox report was “How Democracy Died in Hungary.”

Thomas Homer-Dixon, a political science professor at a British Columbia University only 35 miles north of the U.S., wrote an op-ed for Globe and Mail about how the United States could be ruled by a fascist dictator eight years from now. The piece covers implications for Canada, for example if “the U.S. regime demands” the return of “high-profile political refugees fleeing persecution.” The entire piece is here.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of two Republicans on the nine-member House investigation committee, said the committee might consider criminal charges against DDT because he did nothing to halt the insurrection for the first 187 minutes. She said, “The Committee has firsthand testimony now that he was sitting in the dining room next to the Oval Office watching the attack on television as the assault on the Capitol occurred.” Twice, he ignored pleas from his daughter Ivanka Trump to go to the nearby briefing room and tell his followers to “stop,” “to stand down,” “to go home.” She added that the committee knows other people, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), asked DDT to tell his supporters to stop the violence.

According to Cheney, one criminal statute without question is “dereliction of duty,” and the committee must “look at … enhanced penalties for that kind of dereliction of duty.” She declared that DDT is “at war with the rule of law” and if he repeats the lies about a “stolen election,” he does so, knowing that violence will ensue. DDT plans to do exactly that during a press conference on January 6 at exactly the same time as the Capitol prayer service. Cheney called on her Republican party to choose between being “loyal to Donald Trump or … to the constitution.” She concluded, “We cannot be both.”  

Last year, Democrats passed at least a dozen major bills, including a large infrastructure bill and more financial assistance for a country suffering from the disease that DDT permitted to continue as a benefit to his political campaigning. Yet right-wing media, sometimes with the assistance of mainstream media, claim that Biden has accomplished nothing because two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), oppose both the jobs bill, Build Back Better, and the bill to protect voting rights for everyone in red states, both to be addressed during the upcoming year. An appropriations bill must be passed by February 13 to keep the country from shutting down.  

To address the looming monster of the 2022 elections, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will force a vote by January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, to change the filibuster if GOP senators block voting rights legislation. A change requires only 50 votes, but Manchin and Sinema block altering it. Sinema even opposes voting rights reform, a serious problem in many states since 2013 when the Roberts Supreme Court overturned part of the 1966 Voting Rights Act. Democrats may try to make the filibuster more difficult that the current method in which one person can stop debate on a bill by calling in with that request.

Voter reform is vital. At least one state, Georgia, permits the legislature to overturn the legal vote in an election by selecting electoral voters who reject the ballot majority. In one poll, only 13 percent was “very confident” GOP state officials would accept election results if Republicans lose.

DDT and his conservative GOP followers, including legislative leadership, work to create another year of turbulence, but polls reflect they don’t necessarily represent the majority of the people. In an ABC News-Ipsos poll, 72 percent agree that the January 6 rioters threatened democracy, and 58 percent think DDT has a great deal or good amount of responsibility for the insurrection. Only 25 percent think DDT has no responsibility for the attack. The media usually reports only the large percentage of Republicans who refused to recognize Biden as the president, but almost two-thirds of the general population accept Biden as being legitmately elected president. Unfortunately, 68 percent of respondents to a CBS poll expect more violence after January 6, 2021.

The courts are also home to a building storm in the next year. Recently, DDT’s two older children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, refuse to comply with subpoenas from New York AG Letitia James for a civil inquiry into the Trump Organization’s possible inflation of assets value for bank loans and understatements of these values elsewhere to reduce taxes. James already questioned DDT’s younger son, Eric, in her office. She cannot file criminal charges in the case but is involved with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s criminal investigation into DDT’s business affairs. DDT’s lawsuit against the civil inquiry is based on his opinion of “political animus” and the claim that his testimony could be used against him, violating his Fifth Amendment rights.   

Always litigious, DDT will likely be embroiled in lawsuits until he dies. He does it to intimidate, to stall, to cost people money, to make news, to look impressive—almost any reason except to win. And now they aren’t costing him any money; GOP donors are paying for them. Before the 2020 election, he and his businesses were part of 4,095 lawsuits during three decades, over 2,100 as the plaintiff. Biden won the 2020 election, but DDT is still suing to overturn the election. Now he’s in the middle of lawsuits to secrete his shady—possibly illegal—involvement in overturning the election and his business affairs. Here is an amazing list and description of notable cases occurring or starting while he was in the White House.

There’s much more about upcoming events, but that’s for another time. As Rachel Maddow would say, “Watch this space.”

December 31, 2021

2021: A Year of Denial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 11, 2021

Celebrations on October 11, 2021

For the first time in U.S. history, a president turned from the tired trope of Columbus discovering America and officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Last Friday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation “to honor Native Americans, their resilience and their contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide spanning generations,” according to NPR’s Emma Bowman. Mandy Van Heuvelen, the cultural interpreter coordinator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from South Dakota, said commemoration of the day can be through reflection, recognition, celebration, and education.

In his proclamation for Columbus Day, Biden stated:

“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past—that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.” 

The first proposal for an Indigenous People’s Day occurred at a 1977 UN conference to address discrimination against Natives, and in 1989 South Dakota was the first state to replace the traditional Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. To date, another 13 states and over 100 cities celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, a federal holiday. Other states such as California, Maine, Ohio and Maine have proposed legislation to legally replace the holiday, and some states, including California, Tennessee, and Washington state, celebrate Native American Day in September or November.

The celebration of Christopher Columbus, rapist, enslaver, and murderer who landed in the Bahamas and abused its natives, began in 1792 but was formally politicized in 1892 when President Benjamin Harrison wanted support from Italian Americans. The year before, rioters in New Orleans lynched 11 Italian immigrants in anti-immigrant discrimination after the murder of a police chief. Italy recalled its ambassador in Washington and broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. After nine months, Harrison called the murders “a most deplorable and discreditable incident”; five months later he paid a $25,000 indemnity, now worth $760,000, to survivors of three victims who were citizens of Italy. Harrison encouraged Congress to celebrate Columbus in a one-time holiday on October 21 in 1892.

In 1934, Congress, lobbied by the Knights of Columbus, authorized President Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare October 12 officially recognizing Columbus Day. Thirty Native Americans in San Francisco protested, and the leader, wearing a Chippewa tribe ceremonial headdress, called Columbus Day a day of mourning for Indians until “we are given the same opportunity to achieve the same social, economic and educational levels as the rest of those who call themselves Americans.” President Lyndon Johnson signed off on Columbus Day as a federal holiday in 1968 to be effective in 1971.

Italian Celia Viggo Wexler explained why Christopher Columbus is not a good role model for herself and all other Italians:

“[Looking for a fast route to China, Columbus] landed in the Bahamas and encountered the Taino people. When he met them, he wrote in his journal that these peaceful Indigenous people had the makings of ‘good servants’ and put them to work mining gold–and facing amputation or death if they came up short. (Columbus was personally entitled to 10 percent of the booty; the rest went to Spain.) Later, he would ship thousands of Taino back to Spain to be sold into slavery, while the diseases the explorers brought decimated the tribe…

“As governor of the West Indies, he imposed such brutal punishments on anyone who got in his way—including the Spanish colonists who tried to defy or belittle him—he was sacked by his royal backers and returned to Spain…

“If I were to nominate a new role model for Italians, it would be Mother Frances Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who in 1946 became the first U.S. citizen to be named a saint. Cabrini, like many immigrants, faced many obstacles and a lack of resources when she arrived, but persevered to help immigrants across the country. It was her work in the American West that prompted Colorado to designate the first Monday in October as Cabrini Day, replacing the state observance of the Columbus Day holiday…

“Columbus never found the route to China and India he was seeking. We shouldn’t make our own wrong turn by continuing to honor his memory.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), removed from all House committees after her strong advocacy of QAnon conspiracy theories, celebrated Columbus Day with this tweet: “Happy Colombus Day!” Happy Grene Day to her.

The homophobic lawmaker failed to wish people “Happy Coming Out Day.” October 11 is also the day encouraging LGBTQ people to come out to friends and family. Biden did remember and released a statement:

“Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.” 

In his statement, Biden described his efforts to advance LGBTQ rights and areas still needing work, with promises that he will continue his attempt to make life equal for LGBTQ people. The full statement

In 1988, LGBTQ activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary founded the day on the anniversary of the second “National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights” in 1987. About one-half million people attend the march in 1987 to demand equality and fairness for people in LGBTQIA+ communities and groups. Organizers of the first march in 1979 identified the Five Demands:

  • Pass a comprehensive lesbian/gay rights bill in Congress.
  • Issue a presidential executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Federal Government, the military, and federally-contracted private employment.
  • Repeal all anti-lesbian/gay laws.
  • End discrimination in lesbian mother and gay father custody cases.
  • Protect gay and lesbian youth from any laws which are used to discriminate against, oppose and/or harass them in their homes, schools, jobs, and social environments.

Following marches occurred in 1993, 2000, and 2009. This year, the 33rd  annual Coming Out Day celebrates the theme “Born to Shine.” Expressing an LGBTQ+ identity takes courage.Thanks to people brave enough to come out, more and more LGBTQ people have some rights in many countries around the world.

In another form of bravery, Republicans or former Republicans have op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post trying to save democracy in the United States by encouraging GOP members to vote Democratic until the current authoritarian movement has lost its shine. Miles Taylor, a member of the Department of Homeland Security during the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), used the name Anonymous when he wrote a critical column about DDT in 2018. Christine Whitman, New Jersey governor from 1994 to 2001, headed George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency. They wrote that “rational Republicans” are losing the GOP’s “civil war” and concluded that Republicans must join Democrats to block Trumpism through electing moderate and “honorable” Democrats to regain the Congress. Unlike the current GOP leadership, they ask Republicans to put country over party and specified several Democrats they support.

Max Boot, a conservative Russian-American specialist in foreign affairs, wrote:

“I’m no Democrat—but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy. I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats—as I have done in every election since 2016—until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

Boot described the “dueling” reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee about DDT’s attempts to overturn the election by pushing former acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to back the claim of a “stolen” election. According to Boot, the Democrats’ report was evidence-based; the Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), maintained DDT didn’t abuse his office because he didn’t really replace Rosen. Grassley turned from condemning DDT in January to groveling for his endorsement last week, and DDT didn’t replace Rosen because the DOJ leadership threated to resign in mass protest.

As in DDT’s first campaign, the mainstream media is largely ignoring the danger DDT presents to the nation. Such an attitude could get him elected in 2024, and Republicans loyal to the United States want to block him. Maria Ressa, winner of a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize described the problem with journalism in the U.S. as it fails to protect democracy:  

“[Disinformation] is how you transform a democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts. …The goal of influence operations or information operations is to seed it, repeat it, incite hate and…change the way real people think, and that impacts the real world. This is happening all around the world. That’s what the research has shown us, that’s what the data shows us.” 

Happy Coming Out Day and Indigenous People’s Day! And vote Democratic.

October 2, 2021

A Study in Contrasts

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The past week has been focused on legislation that the Republicans have been determined to block. A blog post from Heather Cox Richardson led me to contemplate how different the news is from the times when Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was ensconced in the White House. She described the news from exactly one year ago. A major piece of news then was that DDT’s adviser Hope Hicks was diagnosed with COVID soon after she traveled on Air Force One. Traumatized by the news, the Dow Jones dropped 400 points. The day before, DDT had shouted and “snarled” at Joe Biden in the infamous presidential debate as his entire entourage refused to wear masks in violation of the mandate for the event. House later, the media announced both DDT and his wife, Melania Trump, were infected, and DDT was hospitalized, much more ill than the public were told.

Other news of that day from Richardson:

•A study of more than 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic between January 1 and May 26 showed that Trump was “likely the largest driver of…Covid-19 misinformation.”

•Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster, told MSNBC that Trump was “aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts” to disrupt the November election.

•We learned that Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, had not disclosed that in 2006, she signed an anti-abortion ad in the South Bend Tribune. It appeared near another ad from the same organization that called for putting “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.”

•A tape leaked of Melania Trump complaining about having to decorate the White House for Christmas—“I’m working… my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”—and then said of criticism that she was not involved with the children separated from their parents at the southern border: “Give me a f****** break.”

•News broke that Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had left the Fox News Channel after an employee complained of sexual harassment, saying she required the employee to work at her apartment, where she would sometimes be naked, and where she would share inappropriate photos of men and discuss her sexual activities with them. She denied any misconduct, but FNC settled the case against her for $4 million.

•The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief measure. No Republicans voted for it.

•Right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies in Michigan for intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election laws, and using a computer to commit a crime.

•Claiming he wanted to prevent “voter fraud,” Republican governor Greg Abbott of Texas limited the number of locations for dropping off mail-in ballots to one site per county. While Republican counties tended to have just one location already, Democratic Harris County, the third largest county in the country, with a population of more than 4.7 million and an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, had previously used 12. Democratic Travis County, which includes Austin, previously had four.

As Richardson wrote, “That was one single day in the Trump presidency.” She concludes:

In contrast, today, the Democrats are trying to pass an extremely complicated package, consisting of two major infrastructure bills, backed by different constituencies, that will alter the direction of our country by investing in ordinary Americans and revising the tax code to claw back some of the 2017 tax cuts the Republican Congress gave to corporations and the very wealthy. Although there is no guarantee they will pass, the bills are currently still on track, and all the relevant parties are still at work discussing them, exactly as one would expect.

What is the unusual piece in this process is that the other major American political party—the Republicans—is refusing to participate in the crafting of a major bill that is extremely popular.

This infrastructure package is huge, but it is hardly the only item in Biden’s agenda. In March 2021, the Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that has helped the administration produce more jobs in its first six months than any other administration in American history.

Not a single Republican voted for that bill; it passed while they were focusing on the ungendered Potato Head kin and the decision of the Dr. Seuss estate to stop the publication of some of Theodor Geisel’s less popular books.

The economy has recovered in large part because of the Biden administration’s enormous success at distributing the coronavirus vaccines to every American who wanted one.

Republican lawmakers have worked against this process, and today we crossed the unthinkable line of 700,000 officially counted deaths from Covid-19.

Now, the administration has begun to put vaccine mandates into effect, and they are working. Those who insisted they would never get vaccines changed their minds when employers and public venues required them. Today, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will require coronavirus vaccines for school children, along with the ten others it already requires, as soon as the Food and Drug Administration fully approves them for use in children.

Meanwhile, Republican-dominated state legislatures are following through on the voter suppression noted a year ago, passing measures to cut down Democratic voting and install Republican operatives in key election posts before the 2022 election.

As political scientist and foreign relations expert David Rothkopf tweeted: “Are the Dems the ones in disarray when they are crafting specific programs while the GOP offers up only cynical Tweets & obstruction? The only GOP agenda items are voter suppression, defending the worst president in history & when they have power, pushing tax cuts for the rich.”

For my part, I’m not sure what is driving the stories that seem to paint Biden’s work as a lost cause: The recent position that Democrats are hapless? That it’s safer to be negative than positive? That our news cycle demands drama?

Whatever it is, I continue to maintain that the issue right now is not Democrats’ negotiations over the infrastructure bills—regardless of how they turn out—but that Republican lawmakers are actively working to undermine our democracy.

That’s the difference between last year and this one. DDT wanted only chaos in which he was the center of attention. Biden wants people of the United States to have advantages that Republicans are focused on refusing them. DDT’s desire for authoritarianism and dictatorship led him to reject democracy, something that his supporters crying for “freedom” cannot understand.  


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