Nel's New Day

October 17, 2022

What Happens to Liz Truss?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2022

When the GOP Dumps a Republican Candidate

During the past several months, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has endorsed at least 140 GOP politicians for election this year. Rising to the top of the toxic swamp, however, is his pick for the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina.

Two years ago, the 25-year-old managed to get elected by a respectable margin of over 13 percent above a Democrat in the race.

Since then he has bragged about smuggling loaded guns onto the congressional floor in his wheelchair and been twice charged for trying to carry firearms onto planes, the most recent time a loaded gun. He has been pulled over for driving with expired tags, driving under the influence of alcohol, and speeding. His driver’s license has been revoked. He was found carrying a knife on school property four times in four weeks. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) even lightly scolded him for bragging about attending orgies with prominent GOP politicians where they were using cocaine. About the Russian invasion into Ukraine, Cawthorn called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug” and his government “incredibly evil.”

In 2020, Cawthorn named his real-estate company SPQR Holdings, an abbreviated Latin phrase used by white nationalists. A photo on his campaign website shows him with a rifle and pistol in a holster with an Oath Keeper symbol. His campaign attacked a local journalist, calling him somebody who works “for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.”

Recently, the media published photos of Cawthorn wearing women’s lingerie, followed by allegations against him of insider trading.  In late December, he posed at a party with hedge fund manager James Koutoulas, the ringleader of the Let’s Go Brandon cryptocurrency, a meme coin named for the chant mocking President Joe Biden. Allegations describe him hyping a pump-and-dump cryptocurrency scheme. Cawthorn continued to push the sale of the coin that Koutoulas said later was owned by Cawthorn although he hasn’t signed any disclosure. After Cawthorn’s first public announcement, the value of the LGBCoins in circulation went to $570 million before it dropped to $0. After the coin’s February relaunch, it has traded at 95 percent below its peak price. Despite its failure, Cawthorn hyped it at the Conservative Political Action Conference and the white supremacist American Freedom Tour in Fort Lauderdale (FL) as well as other venues. Insider trading can result in prison time, and failing to file disclosures violates congressional rules.

Four women have accused him of sexual misconduct, and a former campaign aide who was fired called him “just a bad person” in a leaked tape of a phone conversation. Lisa Wiggins, who didn’t know she was being taped, had filed a workplace complaint against Cawthorn for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act after he refused to permit her to take leave during a series of family crises. She said he avoided talking to constituents because he doesn’t care about them and his office contains more liquor than water bottle. About Cawthorn, Wiggins said:

 “He’s a habitual liar and he’s going to say and do anything he can to your face but behind your back he’s completely opposite. People need to know how this man really is…He’s still got a lot of people fooled… The ultimate goal of course is to get him out.”

April ended on an even more sour note with the request by North Carolina’s GOP senator, Thom Tillis, for an ethics investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship with Stephen Smith, a male staffer and Cawthorn’s third cousin. The complaint includes photos, video, and screenshots of the men’s Venmo history with Cawthorn giving or lending Smith thousands of dollars. They have lived together for years, and Smith went along on Cawthorn’s honeymoon; the sudden marriage after Cawthorn was accused of sexual harassment lasted only eight months. In the video, Cawthorn says in a fake accent, “I feel the passion and desire and would like to see a naked body beneath my hands.” Smith answers, “Me too” before briefly touching Cawthorn’s crotch. Venmo descriptions include “the quickie at the airport,” “the stuff we did in Amsterdam,” and “getting naked for me in Sweden.” Smith’s payments to Cawthorn include “for loving me daily and nightly” and “nudes.”

Cawthorn’s lying started long before he ran for Congress. His claim that a “tragic automobile accident” ruined his nomination for the U.S. Naval Academy; he had been rejected before the accident. Cawthorn complained that a friend left him to die in the burning car after the accident; the friend really pulled him out of he car and saved his life. Calling himself the CEO of his company, Cawthorn’s the only employee. Cawthorn lied about being a former full-time staffer for then-Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) when his longest employment was at Chick-fil-A. Cawthorn also dropped out of Patrick Henry College, and 150 students signed a letter accusing him of “gross misconduct toward our female peers,” “predatory behavior,” and “vandalism.” Knowing his past, DDT said, “You’re going to be a star of the party”; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and the Club for Growth helped bankroll him. The RNC gave him a prime speaking slot at the 2020 convention, and McCarthy named him a “Young Gun,” the highest GOP level for top prospects.

Republicans tend not to complain about other Republicans, even when their actions are this egregious. As Dana Milbank pointed out, “over 50 QAnon believers have run for Congress in 2022” including several candidates who participated in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. So why is Cawthorn so far out of the loop?

It started last fall with Art Pope, the billionaire owner of the North Carolina politicians and person behind the GOP ownership of the state’s legislature, thanks to the project redmap created by conservative political strategist in 2010. The GOP had not controlled the legislature for over a century, and Barack Obama carried the state in 2008. Pope also succeeded in stopping public financing for judicial races, thus taking over the courts, and cut funding for the state’s university system.

After Cawthorn won the 14th North Carolina congressional district in 2020, the redistricting legislature created the 13th congressional district specifically for state Speaker of the House, Tim Moore. Cawthorn, however, wanted that district because the city of Charlotte would give him more visibility. It didn’t make Cawthorn popular.

In the Asheville Citizen-Times, former GOP state representative Charles Jeter Jr., among the first to go after Cawthorn, wrote:

“This isn’t a noble effort. This is ambitious cowardice at its worst. He’s an embarrassment that we need to defeat.”

Thus the anti-Cawthorn campaign from the right-wing began. Susan M. Tillis, head of a foundation for veterans and coincidentally the wife of a North Carolina U.S. senator, tweeted:

“I can assure you that those of us in the new 13 (Congressional District) don’t need any intervention and we are capable of making our own decisions.”

John Hood, board member and former president of the conservative John Locke Foundation, stated:

“Madison Cawthorn is a callow and appallingly ignorant young man who regularly embarrasses conservatives and Republicans, whether they admit it or not.”

Hood didn’t quit there. In the Carolina Journal, he added:

“Of course, one regularly finds the words ‘embarrassing’ and ‘ignorance’ in the same sentence as the name of the freshman congressman from Western North Carolina…My indignation about this episode, however, isn’t primarily directed at Cawthorn, who is likely a pawn in some broader (and sillier) scheme hatched by others. What appalls me is that out-of-state operatives are using him as a vessel to trash the very real accomplishments of conservative governance in our state. You can see the same dynamic in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, with the Club for Growth and other supporters of U.S. Rep. Ted Budd sliming former Gov. Pat McCrory as ‘unprincipled’ with ‘a record of failure.’”

Tim Moore decided to drop his candidacy but is supporting the challenger. Last December, while Cawthorn was still running in the 13th District, he asked Michele Woodhouse to run “a the America First candidate” in the district where he lived. He changed his mind about where he would run and moved back to the 11th District—running against Woodhouse while she’s still in the race. She maintains Cawthorn plans to run for U.S. Senate in 2026—Thom Tillis’ position. She also said that a Democrat running against Cawthorn would likely win in the district which includes the liberal town of Asheville.

Hood said the best strategy to defeat in a primary would be to “shake your head sadly” like:

“What an unfortunate situation for this young man. He’s gotten himself in over his head. Fame went to his head. He doesn’t have good friends in his world.’ That’s different from treating him as a cartoon villain.”

Jeter worries about Cawthorn winning because the state lowered the level for avoiding a runoff in a primary from 40 percent to 30 percent. He regrets voting for the change and wonders how much support Cawthorn has from voters.

It’s a giant case for Republicans of buyers’ remorse. And Cawthorn isn’t unique: he just offended the wrong donor.

April 11, 2022

Happenings from the Past Few Days – 4/11/22

During the past several weeks, the media had a lot to say about into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, after the discovery of her texts with former chief of staff Mark Meadows for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) strategizing the overturn of Joe Biden’s legal win in the 2020 presidential election. These weren’t the only conflicts of interest from his wife’s involvement in corporate and far-right political activities—or Thomas’ personal activities. Conservatives claimed Ginni Thomas has First Amendment rights and that spouses could do anything they want, that her lobbying has nothing to do with Thomas’ decision on the court.

The latest story, however, concerns the justice himself; this photo shows him supporting Herschel Walker, DDT’s candidate for Georgia’s U.S. senator. Walker will likely use it for his campaign. Although personal ethics have kept justices out of political campaigning until now, the Supreme Court has no mandate for judicial ethics, unlike for every other judicial position in the U.S. Republicans accused Ketanji Brown Jackson, confirmed as the first Black female justice about her prejudice for affirmative action although no white person has been accused of bias.  decisions. She plans to recuse herself because of her relationship with Harvard, but Thomas will almost surely not recuse himself from any cases involving Walker’s election. [Visual – Thomas Walker]

In a harbinger of future GOP control, a woman was jailed for homocide in southeastern Texas for a “self-induced” abortion. The Texas vigilante law against abortion is civil, not criminal, and state law specifically exempts people from criminal homicide charges for having abortions. For now. The DA’s office got an indictment from a grand jury with a $500,000 bail, but the backlash against the DA’s action forced him to release her. The hospital staff reported her miscarriage after she told them she tried to induce her abortion.

Fed up with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) rejection of democracy when he joined Republicans to block the right to vote, the “Coal Baron Blockade” gathered at the Grant Town Power plant. Police started arresting protesters where Manchin earns $500,000 a year from the use of coal waste from Enersystems, owned by Manchin’s son. Manchin also refused to vote for the Democratic Build Back Better Act because it promotes renewable sources and extends the Child Tax Credit, paid family leave, and other anti-poverty measures. West Virginia is the second poorest state in the U.S., up from the third poorest since Manchin went into leadership. In 2006, Manchin, then governor, oversaw the increase of electricity from Grant Town from $27.25 per megawatt to $34.25, giving West Virginians some of the highest electricity rate increases in the nation because of coal.  

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, paid almost $3 billion for 9.2 percent of Twitter’s private stock shares and went on its board. He planned to stop Twitter from blocking white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). The company said that his appointment was “contingent on a background check and formal acceptance”; Musk said he won’t be joining the board. Musk no longer has the board restriction of owning no more than 14.9 percent of the shares and can now publicly share all his comments about Twitter. Over the weekend, Musk tweeted removing the “w” from Twitter and questioned whether Twitter is “dying” because some of its most-followed accounts don’t often tweet. He criticized Twitter for not permitting free speech.

Six months after DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, left the White House, Saudi Arabia sank $2 billion into Kushner’s new private equity firm, Affinity Partners. The screening panel for investments opposed the loan based on its risk, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mandated the loan within a few days. The money could be either payback for Kushner’s past favors while he was in the White House or hope for future ones if DDT wins another presidential term. Or both. Kushner led the defense of his good friend MBS after he approved the 2018 murder and dismemberment of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi and orchestrated $110 billion in weapons sales to Saudi. In addition, Kushner had access to sensitive information after DDT overrode the denial of his security clearance from concern about his foreign connections. Kushner’s few investors are foreign. 

Kushner got twice as much—with more generous terms—than former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for his new fund. Munchin also did favors for Saudi Arabians. He chaired a committee vetting merger deals with foreign companies and “shaped” the new fund to permit foreign government investments.

Two years ago, DDT’s inaugural committee was investigated for selling access to foreign governments, money that could be moved on to DDT. He made at least $200 million from foreign deals while he was in the White House and had 3,403 conflicts of interest during the time, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). 

Saudis may be disappointed about DDT’s chance as a 2024 candidate. Although becoming president might keep him out of prison, he turns 78 several months before the election, and his health doesn’t look good. Recognizing that, at least nine leading Republicans have PACs collecting a war chest for possible presidential campaigns. Until candidates declare themselves, they don’t need to divulge any funding. Pence’s Advancing American Freedom spent $787,000 in the past year. Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) group collected $650,000, far less than the $9.3 million gathered in 2020 by Nikki Haley’s Stand for America. One-third of that sum was spent on fundraising in 2021. Democrats with non-profit groups include Joe Biden, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, but they are more quiet than the GOP ones.

Texts to Meadows from DDT’s older son, Donald Trump Jr., two days after the 2020 election—before it was called for Biden—show he was a leader in trying to keep his father in the White House. Jr. asked Meadows to communicate his stragegies to “everyone that needs to see it.” His message:

 “It’s very simple … We have multiple paths[.] We control them all.”

Jr.’s texts laid out the same ones that DDT’s team pursued to spread lies about election fraud and pressure state and local officials: lawsuits in swing states (which were rejected) and “having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake ‘Trump electors.’” If those failed, Jr. wanted lawmakers to reject electoral results and vote in DDT. The texts may implicate DDT’s former trade adviser Peter Navarro as well as Meadows in corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the US.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice-chair of the House January 6 investigation committee, said it was “absolutely clear” that DDT and several people around him knew their actions were “unlawful” but “did it anyway.” She called it “a massive and well-organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election.”

QAnon people have become fixated on sex-trafficking and education about racism but don’t mind kidnapping plots for elected officials—if they are Democrats. A Michigan jury acquitted two men charged with their plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; the other two weren’t convicted because of a hung jury. State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, a Democrat, said that one of the acquitted men had threatened to kill her. The defense attorney used the excuse of dirty FBI tactics and “rough talk.” Talk about killing the governor, blowing up a bridge, and other violence wasn’t shocking, according to the men’s attorney. At the time of the threats and plots, DDT had supported violence in Michigan, but the rationale for acquittal was the men’s weakness, that they were easily influenced.

Facing competition from Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and DDT’s former VP Mike Pence for a platform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came out with—something. It wants continued immediate expulsion of noncitizens, even refugees, a talking point after Biden lifted the COVID excuse to not permit these people into the U.S.

As for the remainder of the platform, McConnell said it “will be focused on … crime, education, beefing up the defense of our country.” Missing from his “platform” are the economy (which is good), abortion (because anti-abortion is getting unpopular), taxes (which infuriated people after Scott’s desire for “skinning” poor people), and inflation (which McConnell can’t figure out a solutions).

In her article “Cancel Your Disney Vacation and Go to Dollywood Instead,” Joy Pullmann, managing editor of the conservative Federalist and research fellow at the Heartland Institute, gives the usual conservative damning comments about Disney because they objected to Florida’s “don’t say gay” law. Instead she advocates for Dolly Parton’s playground in Tennessee because Disney’s support for LGBTQ rights “works to undermine sexual wholeness. Pullmann also has a “fact-checking” column; she missed some of this information:

  • Dolly supports marriage equality.
  • Many in the LGBTQ community consider her a gay icon.
  • She advocated for trans people in the midst of North Carolina’s bathroom bill and called it bad legislation.
  • She frequently dedicates her hit “Jolene” to drag queens who dress like her at concerts.  
  • She contributed an Oscar-nominated hit song to Transamerica.

Thus far Pullmann doesn’t seem to have made any comments about the hilarity her article ensued.

March 6, 2022

MAGA Senator Wants Poor People Skinned

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 10:44 PM
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People always talk about how the Democratic party is internally polarized within itself. Even with recent compromise, people accuse of left progressives at odds with moderates. Since Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) clings to GOP control, Republicans show a huge split, one big example Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) decision to determine the party platform through his “11-Point Plan to Rescue Plan.”

Scott, chair of the 2022 Senate Republican campaign, is facing opposition from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who doesn’t want the public to know anything about GOP positions, officially opposes everything Democrats support.

Some of the 128 demands in Scott’s 11-point plan:  

Education: Public students will say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand for the National Theme, “honor” the U.S. flag, and “learn that American is a great country.” They will also choose the school that best fits them. The Department of Education and teacher tenure will be eliminated, and schools will be required to have “voluntary prayer.”

Race: No government form, especially the census, can require disclosure of race or ethnicity. Scott writes, “We are all created in the image of God.” The military will have “ZERO diversity training, teachings on critical race theory, or any woke ideological indoctrination that divides our troops.” Colleges and universities employing any use of affirmative action will lose federal funding and tax-exempt status.

Law enforcement: “The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end.” There will be zero tolerance for protests (which Scott describes as attacking police officers, looting businesses, and burning down out cities).  Penalties for theft and violent crime will be increased. Any efforts to “re-imagine” policing will be blocked. The federal government will declare “strict” mandatory minimum sentences for any seriously injured police office. Law enforcement immunity from its offences will be strengthened, and prosecutors will be forced “to prosecute.” All attempts to deny the Second Amendment will be opposed.

Border: The U.S. will “finish building the wall and name it after President Donald Trump. Immigrants cannot collect any unemployment benefits or welfare until they have lived in the U.S. for seven years. Sanctuary cities, defined by the right wing, will be stripped of all federal funding. All “comprehensive” immigration reform measures will be opposed until “we stop the lawlessness on our border.”

Economy: “We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism [which is] un-American and always leads to poverty and oppression.” The federal government work force will be reduced by 25 percent in five years, and government buildings and assets will be sold. All “essential core functions” by the government will be turned over to the private sector if it’s better and cheaper. All “non-essential government positions” will be eliminated. No one receives “government assistance” unless they are “disabled or aggressively seeking work. The federal budget must be balanced; if not, congressional members will not receive their salaries. Federal debt ceiling increases will be banned unless war is declared. So-called sanctuary cities would be stripped of all federal funding. Everyone living in the U.S. will pay some income tax “to have skin in the game.” (Currently, about half the residents don’t make enough money of the minimum threshold.) “Socialism will be treated as a foreign combatant which aims to destroy our prosperity and freedom.”

Government: All federal programs will be eliminated if they can be done locally, and federal bureaucrats and congressional members will have term limits. Government agencies will be moved out of Washington or “shuttered.” All federal legislature will sunset in five years. (Social Security and Medicare?) Citizens can sue to force government to comply with the law. All government employees are prevented from making more than five times the national median individual income, currently under $70,000. IRS funding and workforce will be cut by 50 percent. Every year, Congress must issue a report on their plans when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.

Voting rights: “Today’s Democrat Party is trying to rig elections and pack the courts because they have given upon Democracy. They don’t believe they can win based on their ideas, so they want to game the system and legalize voter fraud to stay in power. In true Orwellian fashion, Democrats refer to their election rigging plans as “voting rights.” (Actually what Republicans are currently doing like Rick Scott when he voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral college votes on January 6, 2021.) In other words, Scott accuses Democrats of doing that the GOP is currently doing. Only the voter or the post office can take ballots to polling locations. Taxpayer money cannot be used to finance political campaigns. Same-day voter registration and “unmanned or unmonitored ballot boxes in public areas” are eliminated. “Counting of ballots must be done in full public view, expeditiously, and continue without pause until all votes have been tabulated.”

Family: “We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs. The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science.” Scott’s plan will “help” low-income single women planning abortions choose life and block Democrats from “efforts to discriminate against faith-based adoption agencies.” The choice of school will be made by parents, not government.  

Gender: “Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies … and female He created them…. there are two genders.” “Gender identify” or “sexual preference” will not be listed on government forms. Minor children cannot receive “irreversible surgical or gender-altering procedures on any minor child.” Biological males cannot compete in women’s sports.

Religious freedom: Secular rights will be blocked, and the government will not deny any “religious freedom.” Scott added, “We will not be silenced, canceled, or told what words to use by the politically correct crowd.” Social media platforms (probably including private companies), like publishers, can be subjected to legal action if they “censor speech and cancel people.” Tax dollars cannot pay “for any diversity training or other woke indoctrination that is hostile to faith.” Churches won’t be required to hire employees disagreeing “with their tenets and convictions.” Federal retirement dollars cannot be invested “with ‘woke’ fund managers and companies that put left-wing politics ahead of profits.” And once again, “Remember—the Second Amendment was established in order to protect the freedoms guaranteed in the Second Amendment.”

Globalism: The U.S. will have no trade taking jobs of displacing U.S. workers, and countries opposing U.S. position at the UN will receive no financial aid. Only countries willing to defend themselves will receive aid. Scott promotes the Monroe Doctrine by preventing “any global enemy, such as China, Russia, or Radical Islam, to grow their presence in our hemisphere. (Scott’s plan to “adhere” to the Doctrine still allows the U.S. to interfere with any foreign countries.) International allies are required to “pay their fair share for their own defense,” and the military will be used only for “intimidating or killing our enemies.” Defense, however, is fine for Israel—mentioned twice in Scott’s 11 points. “Weather is always changing [and] we will not adopt nutty policies that harm our economy or our jobs.” All imports to Communist China will end “until a new regime honors basic human rights and freedoms.”

Scott’s demand for everyone to have “skin in the game” has received most of the publicity and worries McConnell the most. Under his plan, low-income families with children would lose $5,000 more of their after-tax income—a 20 percent increase—and the wealthy and corporations would keep their low taxes. Nothing in Scott’s plan address any skin from the wealthiest people and businesses that pay no taxes—businesses getting subsidies on top of that benefit.

The irony of Scott’s plan is that he wants to eliminate federal government while putting it in charge of take people reproductive, LGBTQ, secular, private companies, and trade rights, to name a few. He wants to legalize a lawless law enforcement and favor Israel over all other countries.  

Scott introduced his plan outside the Senate chamber and left before McConnell had time to respond. In an op-ed for Wall Street Journal, Scott continued his defense. The two differ about whether “skin in the game” will get votes for Republicans. And midterms for 34 Senators and 435 House members are eight months away. Democrat’s ads are already on the air

Every time Scott denies he wants to raise taxes on millions of Americans, people should think of this quotation from his 11-point plan:  

“All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently, over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

Scott might have been smart to skip the wall on the southern border as one of his 11 points. Declared “virtually impenetrable” by then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), parts of the 458-mile wall blew over in 37 mph winds. Flooding ripped off gate hinges in another part of the wall, and smugglers have used cheap, off-the-shelf power tools to saw through the barriers 3,272 times in the past three years. The breaches were then hidden with tinted putty, allowing repeated entry into the U.S.

Absent from Scott’s plan is any mention of solving inflation, increasing wages, reducing income inequality, and providing tariff relief. And there’s nothing about the Russia/Ukraine crisis. The plan largely relies on culture wars and government eradication, undesirable in states like West Virginia that heavily relies on government support. The entire support is “White grievance,” as Jennifer Rubin writes. Even the conservative review finds Scott’s plan “illogical.” 

Democrats want to help people; MAGA followers want to skin them. That’s a big difference between the two parties.

March 4, 2022

1/6 Criminal Charges Possible for DDT

While Vladimir Putin threatens to end the world, the House committee investigating events surrounding the January 6 insurrectionist is moving Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) toward criminal charges for his part in the attempted coup. According to a committee filing, DDT and a right-wing lawyer were part of a “criminal conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 presidential election. The filing is an attempt to persuade a judge to allow the panel access to emails from John Eastman, who claims attorney-client privilege.

The committee also hinted it may make a criminal referral to the DOJ using the arguments to the court as a preview to the case. Congress cannot bring criminal charges; only the DOJ can do that. One of the possible charges against DDT is obstruction because of his attempts to block Joe Biden’s certification as president. After DDT’s election loss, he communicated with state officials and “engaged in a personal campaign to persuade the public that the election had been tainted by widespread fraud,” according to the House lawyers. They cited DDT’s personal pressure on then-VP Mike Pence “to manipulate the results in his favor” and to block Congress’ vote although DDT knew he lacked sufficient legitimate electoral votes from the states.

The filing also detailed how DDT’s officials pushed back at his insistence to block the election result. DOJ leadership testified that DDT pressured them to declare the entire election “corrupt.” Eastman was also told that no Supreme Court justice would approve of his legal theories. Even DDT’s faithful adviser, said DDT had been advised “in pretty blunt terms” he was going to lose his fight. Pence, his advisers, and prominent conservative attorneys condemned Eastman’s theory as nonsensical and impossible.

The House is trying to overcome Eastman’s confidential attorney-client claim by showing his communications are about fraudulent activity, or ongoing or future crimes. One of Eastman’s available emails shows he knew people delaying the electoral count were breaking the law. A judge earlier ruled that Eastman cannot shield 19,000 emails requested by the House committee.

During the insurrection, Eastman wrote Pence’s aide that he had told DDT his vice president could not unilaterally determine the electoral college vote. Yet five hours later, he wrote the same aide, again asking that Pence stop the certification.

The second possible charge is conspiracy to defraud the United States. DDT lied about the 2020 election and therefore attempted to “interfere or obstruct legitimate Government activity” with “deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest.” The committee also accuses DDT of conspiring to commit the same types of crimes as many of his followers breaching the Capitol grounds found guilty of engaging in conspiracies to interrupt Congress from its session certifying the election.

In addition, the House committee issued subpoenas to DDT’s lawyers suspected to be part of the efforts to stop certifying Biden’s presidential election. Closely involved in the scheme, DDT called the “war room” at the Willard Hotel, the location for planning to overturn the election, on January 5 to talk about ways that they could completely stop Biden’s certification. Present were the subpoenaed legal team with DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. Christina Bobb, One America News host, was subpoenaed because of her involvement in drafting the executive order to direct federal agencies in seizing voting machines in states that Biden narrowly won. Cleta Mitchell, also subpoenaed, participated in DDT’s phone call to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state Brad to “find” the exact number of votes to reverse his loss in the state. Other subpoenaed people also worked with the executive orders or pressure on the DOJ or state legislators to commit fraud.

The House committee has interviewed over 550 people and still wants to talk to DDT’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle as well as the people they subpoenaed earlier this week. Roger Stone, DDT’s longtime friend, refuses to testify, but Danish filmmakers have footage for two years showing frank statements about his part in overturning the election. Committee members just need to watch the film, and everyone can watch A Storm Foretold, expected to be released later this year. A 90-minute period covering the height of the violence on January 6 and Stone’s conversations with DDT are missing, but he may have talked about these.

Part of the filming shows Stone pushing the “Stone Plan”—a blanket presidential pardon for himself, DDT’s congressional allies, and the America First movement for trying to overturn the election. Stone also wanted DDT to pardon other backers, including convicted mobsters, but White House counsel Pat Cipollone scuttled the idea. Wanting a pardon for what they did shows Stone realized his and conspirators’ actions were illegal.

Stone and DDT probably won’t be friends anymore. On Inauguration Day, Stone said DDT deserved to be impeached and was the “greatest single mistake in American history.” He added that federal authorities in Manhattan might prosecute DDT because he didn’t preemptively pardon himself. “A good, long sentence in prison will give him a chance to think about it, because the Southern District is coming for him, and he did nothing,” Stone said.

More details of the film here.

Eastman has already “retired” from Chapman University for his part in trying to overturn the election; now California’s state bar is investigating him for possible violations of “California law and ethics rules governing attorneys following and in relation to the November 2020 presidential election.” The probe began last September. A press release stated that “a number of individuals and entities have brought to the State Bar’s attention press reports, court filings, and other public documents detailing Mr. Eastman’s conduct.”

While the January 6 insurrectionists chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” Eastman blamed Pence for the violence when he wrote Greg Jacob, Pence’s chief counsel:

“The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.”

Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said the filing is really about DDT, not Eastman. He added that the legal brief states “there is a good faith basis to believe that Donald Trump committed felonies and this lawyer, John Eastman, helped him do it.”

One viable theory regarding DDT’s behavior, considering his past, comes from author Don Winslow. He thinks the sole goal of DDT and his allies is to stall the process by questioning the integrity of the investigation with the hopes that Republicans will take over the House this year and shut down the probe. Winslow tweeted footage from a political ad stating:

“Every single deposition that the [January 6th Committee] does from today forward will be able to be dodged by the person till after the November mid-terms, including [Kim Guilfoyle] It’s not an accident that they subpoenaed Kim Guilfoyle this late.”

Documents for the filing show that multiple witnesses and documents prove DDT was repeatedly told his election loss was real and his claims of “fraud” were based on nothing. As advisers destroyed his conspiracy theories, he made up more. It’s the behavior of someone creating false evidence to support a lie. Former DOJ official Richard Donoghue testified about DDT’s reason for trying to overthrow democracy. DDT said something like, “What do I have to lose?” Donoghue pled with DDT not to “hurt the country,” but DDT ignored him. DDT believed he would never face any consequences.

Amanda Marcotte wrote:

“Trump has been criming his entire life, and never faced anything like a serious consequence. As the New York Times has repeatedly shown in its reporting, Trump has been a massive tax fraud his whole career. He doesn’t even bother to deny it, but brags about how defrauding the government and other taxpayers is a ‘sport’ and makes him ‘smart.’ He’s been accused of sexual harassment, assault, and rape by over two dozen women. But we don’t have just their testimony to rely on to believe them, because Trump himself bragged about it on the infamous ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ tape. Even when one of his illegal schemes comes back to bite him—as happened when he was forced to settle out of court with defrauded customers of his “Trump University” grift—the consequences are insufficient to actually be felt. Hell, he’s even managed to get the Republican National Committee to pay his legal bills so that he can keep wasting his money on golf courses.”

With DDT, it’s the thrill and power of getting away with whatever he wants and putting one over on everyone else. Yet he never uses words that are likely to get him convicted. Like when he blackmailed Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelinsky, he said things such as “I would like you …” or asking him for a “favor.” In February, DDT did slip when he said that “Pence did have the right to change the outcome,” indicating his state of mind, but even that might not stick.

DDT has neither morality or ethics, just a fear of consequences.

February 6, 2022

Grand Insurrection Party – The Cult of Donald Trump

According to Rick Ross, “a typical cult has a charismatic, unaccountable leader, persuades by coercion and exploits its members, economically, sexually or in some other way.” The biggest problem with cults is the way that they harm people through the leader, the coercion, and the exploitation. Warning signs for unsafe cult groups and leaders:

  • Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  • No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.
  • Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies, and persecutions.
  • No legitimate reason to leave—departing followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  • Repeated stories by those leaving of abuse with a similar pattern of grievances.
  • Records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports documenting abuses of the group/leader.
  • Feelings of inadequacy by members.
  • Demand that the group/leader is always right.
  • The exclusive “truth” or validation comes only from the group/leader with no other ideas acceptable or credible.

Thus the description of the “Grand Insurrection Party (GIP),” Republicans who follow Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) without question and the reason for the RNC vote without discussion and almost no dissent to censure two Republican representatives involved in the process of investigating the events of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Steve Bannon led the GOP charge against former VP Mike Pence for calling former DDT “wrong” in saying Pence could overturn President Joe Biden’s legitimate election. Other Republicans are staying quiet, but it’s early days. They’re likely waiting to see the direction of the wind. Without the cult of DDT, the RNC would not have visualized insurrectionists as heroes and martyrs—beyond accountability for their crimes.

Over a year ago, DDT said the people who attacked the Capitol should have to pay for their crimes. He even said he was “outraged” at their actions, calling for “law and order,” and said they “have defiled the seat of American democracy.” Reversing his opinion a year later, he attacked loyal followers who don’t follow his new position, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), by name-calling such as RINO (Republican in Name Only). DDT lambasted Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) earlier for not saying that Biden stole the election.

More information has recently been released about DDT’s plans to put himself back into the White House even before Pence refused to follow his orders. Soon after the election, DDT asked personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to talk to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about the government seizing voting machines in battleground states that he lost. When Giuliani told him he couldn’t, DDT went to his AG Bill Barr with the same request. Barr told him “no,” that the election evidenced no crime.

DDT’s allies wrote him to use his National Security Agency (NSA) and Defense Department to look at intelligence, searching for evidence that foreign powers had interfered with election results, allowing extrajudicial responsibilities. To further his efforts, DDT pressured the Pentagon into naming his barely qualified loyalist, Michael Ellis as top NSA lawyer. Unfortunately for DDT, Ellis didn’t take charge until Biden’s inauguration, but three GOP senators—Kevin Cramer (ND), Ron Johnson (WI), and Cynthia Lummis (WY) received the memo. Lummis also attended a meeting where she was falsely told that foreign governments had changed the vote. None of the senators, however, alerted the FBI. The House January 6 investigation committee is looking into these events, helping prompt the RNC to pass its resolution.

Another problem for DDT is the history of fake electors from the battleground states that he wanted to overturn. Recently, memos made public show the involvement of his campaign lawyer at the advice of another lawyer, DDT’s ally, to create “an alternative slate vote, in hopes that its legitimacy will be validated.” It told fake electors to secretly meet and sign fake documents that they submit as if they were real. The advising lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, examined state law to find loopholes for the process. Fourteen fake electors have been subpoenaed to appear before the House committee, the chairs and secretaries of the groups in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In January, the right-wing Gatewing Pundit falsely reported that the Wisconsin State Assembly unanimously voted to withdraw Joe Biden’s ten legitimate electors. It didn’t happen because the bill was sent to the Rules Committee to die.

DDT, known for keeping all the money donated to him, gave $1.35 million to the Conservative Partnership Institute, a nonprofit organization where his former chief of staff Mark Meadows is a senior partner. The $1.35 million gift was made less than a month after the House committee was formed. Meadows initially turned over about 9,000 documents but then refused to give the committee any more and would not testify, even under the threat of criminal charges. The second largest donation from DDT’s Save America is $10,000, and most were $5,000. Recipients were those who supported DDT’s goal of overturning the election.

On January 26, a judge ordered John Eastman, the man who concocted the scheme to stop the Electoral College vote count on January 6, to quickly get the 94,000 subpoenaed documents, including 19,000 emails, to the House investigation committee. Eastman was told to review 1,500 pages per business day and immediately give them to the committee. The documents, which Eastman had fought to keep secret, are from Chapman College. Eastman tried to stall on the almost four-month job by beginning with the earliest documents and sending in newspaper articles, but the judge issued another order to prioritize documents between January 4 and 7, 2021. When Eastman was subpoenaed for his testimony, he invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 146 times.

Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has turned over text messages two months, some of them already public, after they were subpoenaed. They include exchanges with Fox’s Sean Hannity about handling an unbalanced DDT after the Capitol attack, but these messages are a small part of her records.

No one knows if Pence will testify for the House committee, but the National Archives will be turning over some of his documents to the committee. That, however, was only the first round of document production. These materials specifically include “communications concerning the former Vice President’s responsibilities as President of the Senate in certifying the vote of presidential electors on January 6, 2021.”

Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, has testified in defense of his former boss, saying “snake oil salesmen” gave DDT bad advice to overturn the election. Short said he didn’t know if DDT was actually “seeking the bad advice” and confirmed “Joe Biden is the duly elected president of the United States.”

DDT is also calling on his cult members to violently protest any problems from the personal and political criminal and civil lawsuits against him, he said:

“They’re trying to put me in jail. These prosecutors are vicious, horrible people. They’re racists and they’re very sick. They’re mentally sick…. If these radical, vicious, racist prosecutors do anything wrong or illegal, I hope we are going to have in this country the biggest protests we have ever had in Washington, D.C., in New York, in Atlanta and elsewhere.”

DDT also called on his mob to protest en masse to attack three Black law enforcement officials came almost immediately after his suggestion he would pardon violent protesters on January 6.

The House committee has a solution for high level officials who refuse to testify: they turn lower-level staff members into witnesses who provide information about their employers’ activities. The group has interviewed over 475 witnesses with over 100 subpoenas including ones for banks and telecommunications and social media companies which gathered personal data of DDT family members and allies, politicians, and one congressional member, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). With this data, they use link analysis, a mapping technique key to identifying terrorist networks after 9/11.

DDT’s cult followers have established a legal defense fund for his former aides associated with the January 6 inquiry. The one requirement for the First Amendment Fund from the American Conservative Union is that they disagree with the committee’s mission. DDT won’t be donating any money for them. Anyone not bending before DDT’s will should be eliminated. For example, after GOP Gov. Chris Sununu (NH) opposed DDT’s pardon idea for insurrectionists, DDT wants him removed from office and came out in support of any opponent to Sununu in the upcoming election.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) declared all the “mean” and “nasty” committee members could face jail time when the Republicans take over the House. He didn’t list any “laws” the committee members are “breaking.” Gingrich is working on GOP policy statements for the 2022 election.

DDT’s actions follows all the boxes applicable to a cult leader which can also drive away legitimate Republicans. Before the censure resolution, Mike DuHaime, former RNC political director, tweeted the RNC would be “insane” if it carries through:

“The party that long valued individuality and differences of opinion now demands fealty to the election results lie. And it stupidly keeps the focus Trump instead of Biden.”

Not all members of the GOP support the cult of DDT, but by the RNC is the Republican leadership. Those who allow the cult to continue are enabling it.

December 18, 2021

House January 6 Hearing Opens Strange Can of Worms

A Florida man has the longest sentence thus far for violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 for emptying a fire extinguisher at Capitol Police officers before throwing it, a plank, and a long pole at them. The 54-year-old had agreed to between 46 and 57 months, but he arranged an online fundraising plea from jail stating lying about what happened. Earlier, he held media interviews depicting himself as a victim. At his sentencing, he said he was ashamed and that Dictator Donald Trump lied to him—like most other convicted rioters. Other sentences are listed here

This prison sentence happened during a turbulent week beginning with revelations by the House January 6 investigation committee regarding texts and emails, many of them secretly to and from former chief of staff Mark Meadows, regarding the GOP and DDT’s conspiracies to overthrow the legal election of President Joe Biden. After turning over almost 9,000 documents to the House and writing a book in which he said DDT had COVID for a week before he was hospitalized, Meadows tried to get back into DDT’s favor. DDT called Meadows “f**king stupid.”

Yesterday, three committee sources reported that former Texas governor and DDT’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry wrote a text to Meadows the day after the election in November 2020 pushing a strategy for three state legislatures to deliver their personally-chosen states’ electors presidential votes, in opposition to the legal votes. Perry denied writing the text, but several people confirmed the telephone number tied to the text belongs to Perry. It is also connected to a database registered to an Energy Department email address while Perry was the secretary for the agency. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) read the text at last Monday’s hearing:

“HERE’s an AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY: Why can t (sic) the states of GA NC PENN and other R controlled state houses declare this is BS (where conflicts and election not called that night) and just send their own electors to vote and have it go to the SCOTUS.”

The committee wanted to ask Meadows about the text, but he refused to obey a subpoena to appear before the group in a long range plan of stalling. The House sent a charge of contempt against Meadows to the DOJ. The text’s “strategy” was to submit wrong electoral votes before all the legal votes in Georgia and Pennsylvania were counted, thus ignoring the will of the people.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the outs with DDT since his criticism immediately after January 6 about the insurrection, is using this weeks’ information to turn the tide against him. For almost a year, McConnell opposed any investigation into the insurrection, even orchestrating DDT’s impeachment to guarantee an acquittal. After this week’s hearing, he reversed this position and called the January 6 attack “a horrendous event,” adding “what they’re seeking to find out is something the public needs to know.” McConnell called the House members “participants.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also tried to stop any investigation, first by appointing Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Jim Banks (R-IN) on the January 6 committee. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected them, McCarthy used her action against her, and several subpoenaed witnesses call the committee “partisan” despite two GOP members, Liz Cheney (WY) and Adam Kinzinger (IL). Cheney had agreed Jordan shouldn’t be on the committee because he might be subpoenaed.

The ultra-conservative publication The Federalist, from the group with the same name that picked all DDT’s far-right, sometimes inexperienced judicial nominees confirmed by the GOP Senate, outed Jordan as the sender of this text read at the hearing:

“On January 6, 2021, Vice-President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all.”

This text to block Biden from the White House came from Joseph Schmitz, former U.S. Defense Department inspector general. Jordan complained because the full text was not read aloud. The remainder of it, unintentionally proving the idea’s illegality, would not have helped. Plotters maintain that the Constitution gave Pence authority to reject legal election results in exchange for GOP slates in some of Biden’s winning states.

Involved with Jordan and the conspiracy to overturn the election are five other members of the House GOP Freedom Caucus, co-founded by Meadows: Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), and Scott Perry (PA):

Brooks wore a bullet-proof vest while giving an inflammatory speech before the Capitol attack in which he urged the crowd to start “kicking ass.” He is now running for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat.

Gosar, known for close relationships with white supremacists and an anime video depicting his killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-CA), called Pence’s certification of the Electoral College votes “sedition” and praised the violent rioters on January as “peaceful patriots.” After the conspiracy theory about a jet carrying ballots from Arizona to South Korea, Gosar’s chief of staff, Tom Van Flein, rushed to a Phoenix (AZ) airplane hangar parking lot to catch the plane.

Perry went to Jeffrey Clark in the DOJ after the election, promising him a list of voter fraud allegations for him to vet. He now heads up the House Freedom Caucus.

Gohmert sued Pence at the end of December for following the 1887 Electoral Count Act. Gohmert declared that Pence, with no authority or evidence, should decide which states’ votes were counted. He offered to drop the lawsuit if Pence did what Gohmert ordered. Both a Texas federal court rejected the case and a court of appeals refused to take the case. Gohmert is a candidate for Texas attorney general.

This week, the January 6 committee subpoenaed Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel, for his spreading a strategy of elminating enough of Biden’s votes to put DDT back into the White House through his PowerPoint presentation. Waldron sent the presentation to Meadows and communicated with Meadows between eight to ten times as well as discussing his plan with other White House officials and members of Congress. 

This past week, Waldron spoke to a Louisiana state commission about voting reforms. His recommendation to count paper ballots by hand instead of machine-scanned and tallied was considered impractical. Voters in other states already mark paper ballots by hand, but they are scanned and tallied by machines. People at the meeting said they have trouble finding enough election workers, and the manual process would require far more. Plus, as this year’s problem ballot count in Arizona by a private company proved, people don’t always accurately count ballots. Waldron also recommended ballot-counting be streamed live online with ballots scanned and posted only so that voters can check their personal ballots for accuracy. Commissioners explained that this process could raise privacy and secrecy issues as well as delaying the election results. He was invited before his farcical theory to put DDT back in the White House.

The January 6 committee deposition from Roger Stone, a DDT friend who was pardoned for other convictions, lasted less than an hour until he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating himself. In an interview with the media, he claimed he had done nothing criminal and said lawyers and security cost him $35,000. He asked for contributions to his “legal defense fund.” “Protecting” Stone at the hearing were six people, associated with the far-right anti-government-militia Oath Keepers, who also went inside the Capitol during the January 6 attack.

Other events of the week:

In an interview on CNBC News, MyPilllow CEO Mike Lindell said he has spent $25 million to spread the evidence-free claims of voter fraud and “will spend every dime I have” on the task. The January 6 committee wishes to investigate funding surrounding the day’s events.

On Steve Bannon’s podcast, DDT’s former trade adviser Peter Navarro implicated him in January 6 events while trying to exonerate DDT from blame. He called Bannon, indicted on a contempt charge for not testifying to the House committee, “the hero of January 6th and said, “You were the guy who had the … strategy to go up to Capitol Hill.”

John Eastman, author of a strategy to overturn the 2020 election who took the Fifth to avoid testifying, is suing to conceal data from his phone records with a lawsuit against both Verizon and the House January 6 committee. Four rally organizers are also suing to keep this data private.

Still trying to cover for DDT, Meadows lied to Sean Hannity on his Fox network show about DDT being a hero by ordering 10,000 troops for assistance. Meadows claimed, “The request was rejected—by Pelosi, by congressional leaders, by … the Capitol Police chief.” According to a Vanity Fair reporter embedded with the Defense Department the statement was an offhand remark, not a request. Evidence indicates that DDT made no request and the lies were to cover up for Army officials.

Fox hosts are back to protecting DDT on air. MSNBC Chris Hayes lumps them legislators following the same practice by calling them TOCOs, Trumpers On Camera Only. 

In one victory, both the House and the Senate unanimously voted for a bill permitting the Capitol Police chief to directly call for assistance from the National Guard. On January 6, DDT’s officials stalled for 187 minutes while people were wounded and killed before sending the Guard.

October 22, 2021

House Votes for Bannon’s Criminal Contempt

The U.S. House voted today to hold Steve Bannon, former White House adviser to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), in criminal contempt of Congress because he refused to comply with the subpoena from the January 6 Committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nine Republicans joined all Democrats for the 229-202 yes vote; seven of the Republicans also voted to impeach DDT the second time. Bannon, who left the White House 3.5 years before DDT did—and before the attack on the Capitol—has claimed protection from DDT’s “executive privilege.” Legal experts, however, state that the claim cannot apply to private citizens. The charge can result in up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

DDT is also using executive privilege to keep the House investigation committee from obtaining archived records surrounding January 6, but he isn’t the executive. President Joe Biden has already approved the request for the records. At her weekly news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Bannon reportedly “had specific knowledge about the events of January 6th before they occurred and had multiple roles relevant to the attack and [was] very outspoken about it.”

Last year, Bannon was charged in a fundraising scam supposedly to collect money for DDT’s wall on the southern border in which he took about $1 million. One of DDT’s last acts before leaving the White House was to pardon Bannon, and a judge dismissed that specific fraud case four months later. After Bannon’s conversations with DDT leading up to the attack, he made a January 5 comment on his podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The “hell” included five dead, several of them police officers, and over 140 officers injured with ax handles, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks, and other weapons.

Although the January 6 Committee has two Republicans, House Minority Leader (R-CA) Kevin McCarthy falsely claimed that it represents “the first time in the history of Congress that the minority was not able to participate.” McCarthy pulled all his GOP nominations for the committee after Pelosi refused two of them, one of them being Jim Jordan (R-OH) who may receive a subpoena to testify before the committee. The other one, Jim Banks (R-IN) is still claiming the riot on January 6 was a “permitted political rally” and asked why it needed to be investigated. Both Banks and Jordan voted against creating the committee and to overturn Biden’s presidency on January 6.

Banks also wrote letters signing himself as the “ranking member” of the committee in a letter to the Department of the Interior on September 16 when he requested all information provided to the committee. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy), actually a committee member, called him out for his falsehood on the House floor today. Another committee member, Rep. Jamie Rankin (D-MD) called Banks “not only delusional and fantastical, but it might be some kind of violation of the rules of the House.”

The fireworks were on display both during the debate for the vote and earlier during the Rules Committee hearing when Republicans tried to protect Bannon from the subpoena. The January 6 Committee had unanimously voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt and refer charges to the DOJ, and the Rules Committee met to determine process for the full House vote. Appearing before that committee, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) argued that DDT’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election was legal came to naught when confronted by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a constitutional law professor. Raskin said DDT’s over 60 lawsuits to “prove” a “stolen” election failed courts found no evidence of voter fraud, and Gaetz claimed a need for a legal “remedy.” The law professor responded:

“There’s no remedy because there’s no violation, Mr. Gaetz.”

Gaetz said the courts didn’t “take up the facts” on “jurisdiction or remedy,” and Raskin came back at him:

“You know what? That might work on Steve Bannon’s podcast, but that’s not going to work in the Rules Committee in the United States House of Representatives.”

The discussion went to why Gaetz didn’t want a congressional inquiry into the violent January 6 attack. Gaetz declared the inquiry was “unwarranted,” and Raskin accused him of not wanting “to know the answer.” In denying investigations, Gaetz may have been thinking of the FBI probe into Gaetz’s alleged sex trafficking and other crimes with evidence, including witnesses.

The perpetually angry former assistant wrestling coach who ignored reports of his team doctor’s sexually abusing athletes, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), furiously refused to say the 2020 election was “not stolen” by President Joe Biden. Jordan claims he never said the election was stolen but that it should be investigated, later falsely saying that Republicans “condemned violence every stinking time” although many of his colleagues compared the January 6 attack to “tourists” in the Capitol.

Jordan again displayed his poor memory when he told the Rules Committee he couldn’t remember how many times he talked to DDT on that day. He repeated his statement that “it’s not about me” and testified that he didn’t talk to DDT “before or during” the attack.” Yet he told Politico in August that he was “sure” one of the calls was in the safe room where lawmakers were sequestered during the attack. Democratic lawmakers have suggested that Jordan may also be subpoenaed to testify before the January 6 Committee.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, also testified before the Rules Committee:

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.”

Cheney also directly addressed “my Republican colleagues”:

“Almost all of you know in your hearts that what happened on Jan. 6 was profoundly wrong. You know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know those claims are false. Yet President Trump repeats them almost daily.”   

McCarthy told all the Republicans to vote against holding Bannon in criminal contempt, but he might also be subpoenaed for testimony regarding his events on January 6. Last month, Sidney Powell, one of DDT’s lawyers to overturn the election, implicated both McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the plot. She suggested the insurrection could delay the election’s certification until DDT’s lawyers could file a 12th Amendment case allowing state electors to change their votes to DDT. Buying time could allow Justice Samuel Alito to block the certification.

In another high-profile subpoena, the January 6 committee summoned Jeffrey Clark, the former little-known DOJ official who tried to overturn Biden’s election. It was the 19th subpoena leading up to the vote on Bannon’s criminal contempt charge. Clark had delivered a letter to George state legislators and others requesting a delay in the election results certification. Despite no evidence of fraud, he also wanted to hold a news conference about allegations of DDT’s claims about a “stolen” election. DDT and Clark discussed ousting the newly-appointed acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to force Georgia to overturn the state’s presidential election results, according to former DDT administration officials.

Clark’s subpoena was the 19th from the January 6 Committee. Fourteen subjects have scheduled depositions, and three are “engaged. George Baron Coleman representing Ali Alexander, head of Stop the Steal, won’t be deposed. Alexander said he planned the January 6 insurrection with the help of Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ).

In the Senate on Wednesday, all 50 Republicans voted against the right for Democrats to vote on the Freedom to Vote Act. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) objected to an earlier voting rights bill and promised to write a bill that Republicans could support. He wrote the bill, it was presented, and Republicans voted down any debate on it in a filibuster for the third time regarding a bill blocking many eligible voters in the nation, primarily low-income and minorities, from democratically voting in elections. House Minority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the bill permitting eligible voters to participate in elections a “rotten core” and a “radical agenda.” He also claimed that requiring 60 percent of the senators to even discuss a bill came from the “framers,” which it did not. Unlike the past when filibusters required a person’s nonspeaking behavior on the Senate floor, a senator can just call in a filibuster while they are on vacation.

The “rotten core” McConnell claimed: a paper trail for ballots, Election Day a holiday, two weeks of early voting, no permission required for vote by mail, and automatic and same-day voter registration. the bill also prohibits partisan gerrymandering, require transparency in advertising, and protect election officials from attacks. The Federal Election Commission gutted under DDT would be rebuilt. The Senate has an advantage over individual states: the federal lawmakers must have 60 percent to pass a bill whereas state legislatures require only a simple majority. In the U.S. Senate 41 senators represent only 21 percent of the population. 

October 10, 2021

Hopeful Signs from Courts, Biden’s Administration

Disinformation dissemination lost twice last week when conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost two defamation lawsuits from parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. After repeatedly telling his Infowars audience the event was a “hoax” by “crisis actors,” Jones refused to provide a judge’s demand for information. Jones’ claims led to harassment, stalking, and death threats against the victims’ families. In their attacks on reality, conspiracy theories lead to violence such as that at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Logic and proof refuting these theories only lead to their spread and faith in false information. The internet is the prime source for false information although online misinformation about election fraud declined 73 percent after Twitter banned DDT. Defamation suits are one way to discourage the creation and amplification of conspiracy theories.

A federal judge ruled that Brian Newby, then-executive director of the independent federal agency Election Assistance Commission, violated federal law in 2016 by changing the national voter registration form to require documentary proof of citizenship in Alabama, Georgia, and Alabama. A federal appeals court earlier blocked the requirement enforcement. Kansas law requiring citizenship proof was also found unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court declined to intervene. Other courts had maintained that the requirement, while not stopping fraud, denied voting rights to thousands of Kansas citizens. The law’s supporter, Chris Kobach, is running for Kansas attorney general in 2022. Because of the lawsuit and other unethical reasons, Newby was removed from his position in Fall 2019 and moved on to become North Dakota’s election director.

A federal judge blocked Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order stopping the transport of migrants through the state and authorizing state troopers to pull over vehicles suspected of doing so until judicial decision. DOJ AG Merrick Garland called the order “dangerous and unlawful.”

A federal judge rejected permits for an oil project planned for Alaska’s North Slope because of DDT’s faulty environmental impact, including its harm on polar bears. Alaska Natives had sued to stop the ConocoPhillips’ Willow Project, and the judge ruled the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to show how the operation would not harm polar bears, a threatened species, and their critical habitat. The Bureau of Land Management also used a model for estimating gas emissions already rejected in another case.

In an amended lawsuit, New York AG Letitia James declared the NRA must be dissolved because it failed to clean up financial and managerial misconduct, despite its claim last year to do so. Descriptions of some of the NRA’s corruption.

Bayer has lost its third appeal against its herbicide Roundup verdicts. In 2019, a jury awarded a couple $2 billion who claimed it made them sick, the eighth-largest product-defect award in U.S. history, but the trial judge dropped the amount to $86.7 million. Bayer had set aside another $4.5 billion for the thousands of Roundup lawsuits for a total of over $16 billion. A fourth Roundup trial began this month.

The U.S. has returned to taking action against companies responsible for killing wild birds if it can be prevented, in reversal of DDT’s permission for the killing from chemical poisonings, oil spills, etc. which primarily benefited the oil and gas industry. The rule returns penalties for causing bird deaths through drilling, construction, and other activities as decreed in the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  It also restores protections which prohibit the “take” of migratory bird species—hunting, killing, capturing, selling, or otherwise hurting them. The new rule was announced on the same day as the declaration that 23 more species, including the Ivory-billed woodpecker, became extinct in the wild.

The EPA is planning to address “inadequate” regulations on PFAS, toxic chemicals, that disproportionately affected “vulnerable groups.” PFAS, linked to kidney and testicular cancer, is found in nonstick cookware, food packaging, firefighting foam and drinking water. They are called “forever chemicals” because they accumulate in the human body and the environment and persist for long periods of time. A 2015 study found PFAS in 97 percent of people in the U.S.

Chlorpyrifos, a pesticide causing neurological damage, will be banned for fruits and vegetables after DDT permitted it. When ingested or inhaled, the chemical can result in headaches or blurred vision; exposure during pregnancy can lead to memory loss and other cognitive issues in children. Several states, Canada, and the European Union are phasing out the insecticide use on farms. It can still be used on growing cotton and treating golf courses until another review by the EPA.

In August, President Joe Biden increased monthly SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) by 27 percent on average, compared to pre-COVID levels after DDT’s insistence to slash funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program serving 41.8 million people. Over two-thirds of them live in households with children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Before the pandemic, SNAP averaged under $1.40 per meal; currently 38.6 million adult workers, including 11.2 million parents, make under a living wage.

Biden has signed a law, Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act (PAWS), for a five-year pilot program connecting veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs. Up to 30 percent of veterans serving in conflicts have PTSD, and an average of 20 veterans commit suicide each day. Calls to the veterans’ crisis line increased by over 15 percent last year, and PTSD is underreported. Veterans may adopt the dogs after training them to protect veterans from overwhelming crowds or wake them from nightmares.

The DOJ has declared Missouri’s state law nullifying federal firearms law is unconstitutional and blocks law enforcement official efforts’ working with state and local police. The state law tries to prevent the DOJ trafficking task force tracing origins of guns to commit crimes. In August, the DOJ filed a statement of interest in a lawsuit in Cole County (MO) along with a statement from Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Frederic Winston who said the new law “has already had a significant impact on ATF’s partnerships with state and local law enforcement offices.” Twelve of 53 state and local officers withdrew from ATF task forces since the law’s enactment.

The secret Pentagon pilot program created three minutes before Biden’s inauguration,  giving management of a large portion of the Internet to a Florida company, has ended with the Defense Department taking back 175 million IP addresses. DDT’s action gave Global Resource Systems almost six percent of IPv4 with unused IP addresses worth billions of dollars. The company was created only four months earlier and had no physical address. The program remains a mystery, but traffic through the Internet addresses lead to the same place as they did with the private company, a computer router in Ashburn (VA). Global Resource Systems does not seem to have an Internet presence at this time.

Furious parents at school board meetings have gotten so out of control that AG Merrick Garland has requested federal law enforcement authorities federal, state, local, tribal and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district in the next 30 days to “facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats” against school administrators, board members, educators, and staff. The purpose is to deal with what he called a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence.” Last week, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked Biden for federal help in dealing with threats mainly coming from anti-maskers and parents who falsely believe their kids are being taught critical race theory. The NSBA suggested school board members faced actions “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.”

In Tennessee, protesters surrounded a doctor testifying for mask-wearing and shouted “child abuser” at him as well as “We know who you are” and “You’ll never be allowed in public again.” San Diego County anti-mask protesters tried to swear themselves in as new unelected school board members, and North Carolina parents proclaimed that they had “overthrown” the school board. Faces covered, Proud boys appeared twice at Nashua (NH) school-board members. Other Proud Boys forced a lockdown of Vancouver (WA) schools. The school-board chair was forced to stop a Loudoun County (VA) meeting for the police to clear the room.

Conservatives, including the Heritage Foundation, are hoping the violent protests will lead to more parental rights and liberties. Yet the protesters refuse to civilly debate ideas; instead they ridicule and threaten anyone who disagrees with them. In Murfreesboro (TN), audience members laughed at a high school junior who talked about his grandmother dying of COVID. GOP lawmakers who support the threats of violence to put DDT back into the White House, such as Rep. Josh Hawley (R-MO), complain about Biden “deploying the FBI” to deny the rights of parents. Florida’s Gov Ron DeSantis, who prevents schools from mandating masks by taking salaries from school officials, accused Garland of intimidation.

Parents also physically attack teachers and principals for following mask-wearing and quarantine mandates as well as threaten them with a “citizen’s arrest.”

Mainstream Republicans in Idaho are so desperate to elect a hardline conservative as governor in the next election instead of the radical far-right woman running for the job that they are asking for help from Democrats and unaffiliated voters. To save the state’s economy, they want everyone, no matter what party, to register as Republican for the May primary and put in conservative for governor.  

 

October 9, 2021

Reversing DDT’s Policies

Today in Iowa, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ranted about his lost election, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who condemned DDT less than a year ago, stood beside him, hoping to be re-elected next year at the age of 89. Meanwhile, the U.S. is quashing DDT’s push to destroy protections for U.S. residents.

Twenty state attorneys general have filed a joint complaint against DDT’s Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for his new crippling rules to delay mail delivery including elimination of working hours, slower first-class mail delivery, and removal of equipment, delaying delivery of prescriptions, bills, Social Security checks, rent payments, etc. DeJoy’s 10-year plan to use trucks for hauling mail instead of airplanes would be accompanied by changing post office locations and increase postal rates. Thirty percent of standard mail delivery would drop from a 3-day maximum to five days, increase the cost of every piece of mail an addition three percent to nine percent, and not reduce the USPS budget deficit. AGs maintain the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), providing independent oversight of the USPS, permitted the new harmful plans to go into effect without appropriate review. The independent postal services is the only federal agency required to be self-sustaining.

DeJoy is making money off a $120 million contract between XPO Logistics, which he led, and USPS. Former White House chief ethics lawyer testified to Congress that DeJoy probably violated federal conflict of interest rules “unless he has recused from so many matters at the USPS that he is not fully functioning as Postmaster General.” DeJoy also bought stocks in Amazon at a lower price with options, another conflict of interest because of the company’s shipping arrangement for the USPS. The FBI is also investigating DeJoy for potentially pressuring his former employees at XPO Logistics to donate to GOP candidates before using his company funds to reimburse them.

Wisconsin is heading into a fake “audit” of the 2020 presidential election ballots with no evidence of any fraud. No Cyber Ninjas this time—instead GOP legislators picked former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, a “Stop the Steal” activist, to oversee the probe. Gableman went not only to Arizona to look at the event but also to South Dakota to attend the “symposium” run by conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell, My Pillow’s CEO. At the same time Gableman is subpoenaing mayors and elections for readily available information, he announced he has no “understanding” of how elections should run. The subpoenas are for “all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession,” millions of pages from the state and its five biggest cities. Wisconsin taxpayers are $680,000 for ignorance and failure for Gableman’s “audit.”

Lindell also caused the audit of three Idaho counties which he claimed had fraudulent votes. Idaho Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck is billing Lindell for the $6,500 cost. Lindell accused all 44 Idaho counties of “electronic manipulation,” but at least seven counties don’t use this method. He also declared votes in every county in Idaho, which supported DDT by 31 percent, and every county in the nation was off by 8.4. The audit found a 0.1 percent of margin of error in all three counties. Alabama dismissed a Lindell’s claim that the state had 100,000 votes switched from DDT to President Joe Biden.

The Education Department will relax rules retroactively for its Public Service Loan Forgiveness plan, allowing student loans for 22,000 people to be automatically erased. Another 27,000 borrowers could have debts erased if they prove they worked in public service when making payments previously declared ineligible. In the past, loan payments were disqualified for either being received late or slightly different from the required amount, even by a few cents. Different payment plans will also count toward forgiveness because of misleading information from the federal government and loan companies. Over 550,000 borrowers may now fast-forward their path to loan forgiveness.

After a Senate hearing, the Department of Justice is reviewing two former FBI agents accused of mishandling the sexual abuse investigation into former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar against at least 330 girls and women. Four famous female gymnasts testified to the FBI’s lack of accountability and inaction. It is highly unusual for the DOJ to consider reopening a case without charges, but the department’s Inspector General found major missteps by the FBI in 2015 which permitted Nassar to victimize scores more patients before state authorities arrested him the next year. According to the report, Supervisory Special Agent Michael Langement, fired a month ago, lied to the inspector officer’s officer in interviews during 2020 and 2021. W. Jay Abbott, the head of the FBI’s Indianapolis office, also talked to Stephen Penny, the president of the USA Gymnastics, about getting a job with the Olympic Committee during the Nassar allegations in late 2015. Later Abbott lied to the inspector general about seeking the job, and Penny resigned from his job and was charged with evidence-tampering regarding sex abuse. The FBI also failed to alert state authorities about Nassar’s possible sex crimes against children. Nassar, 58, was sentence to 40 to 175 years in prison.  

DDT kept trying to drop salaries for federal employees, but Biden plans to raise wages an average of 2.7 percent on January 1 and signed an executive order directing federal contractors to pay employees a minimum wage of $15 by March 30, 2022.

Changes by the Federal Emergency Management Agent (FEMA) will ease the method for verifying ownership for disaster relief applicants who lack certain legal documents for inherited property. The former system discriminated against Blacks in the Deep South who need help to rebuild after catastrophic storms such as Hurricane Ida. Many Blacks informally inherited property without written wills, a process known as heirs’ property, previously denied under FEMA rules. FEMA will now send inspectors to people without the documentation for property ownership. In majority-Black counties, FEMA’s denial rate regarding “title issues” is twice the national average. Other people suffering from FEMA’s former rules include Native Americans, people in Appalachia, and those in communities near the U.S.-Mexico border.

By the end of the year, the Commerce Department will shut down its 15-year-old security unit illegally making criminal investigations and collecting information on hundreds of its employees and other citizens. With no oversight, the 13-person Investigations and Threat Management Service (ITMS) opened cases against people who simply wrote innocuous letters to the department’s top official. Because almost no case was closed, people in almost 2,000 cases continued to be classified as still under scrutiny. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) called the ITMS a “rogue, unaccountable police force” that “opened frivolous investigations on a variety of employees without evidence suggesting wrongdoing.” The unit covertly searched offices at night, ran broad key word searches on emails, and examined social media accounts for critical comments about the census.

A federal judge tossed DDT’s rule scaling back protections for streams, marshes, and wetlands, saying that it could lead to “serious environmental harm.” The ruling from the District of Arizona applies nationwide and protects drinking water for millions of people and thousands of wildlife species depending on U.S. wetland acreage. Since a 1972 law prohibited the pollution of “waters of the United States” without a permit, courts and agencies have debated which waterways. Agencies will now return to water protections of the 1980s, less restrictive than those of President Obama but far more expansive than DDT’s guidelines. The judge’s ruling requires a permit for strip-mining for titanium in Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.  

Four years ago DDT reduced Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent and Grand Staircase in half, the biggest reversal of U.S. land monument protections in history. Biden restored Bears Ears to 1.36 million acres and Grand Staircase to 1.87 million acres, both areas having cultural and religious importance for Native American tribes. A lawsuit by environmental and tribal leaders against DDT has been on hold since Biden issued an executive order in January to examine the matter. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, threatens to sue Biden for his action.

Biden has also announced his plan to restore climate change protections to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and return the requirement for federal agencies to “evaluate all the relevant environmental impacts of the decisions they are making” for projects such as highways, mines, gas pipelines and water infrastructure. DDT’s removal of these mandates caused confusion and litigation.

In another reversed DDT rule, Biden will no longer prevent clinics receiving Title X family planning aid from advising people about terminating their pregnancies starting November 8. Under DDT’s rule preventing information about abortions, Title X grants served 2.4 fewer patients. The Hyde Amendment blocks federal money from directly paying for abortions, but DDT stopped clinics from sending patients where they can receive abortions. Biden also lifted the “Mexico City Policy” preventing worldwide nonprofit organizations from receiving any U.S. global family aid if they perform or promote abortions. DDT had expanded the ban to all U.S. international aid.

The Bureau of Land Management is returning to Washington, D.C. DDT’s decision to move the agency’s headquarters to Grand Junction (CO), causing almost 90 percent of the 328 former headquarters staff to retire, quit, or leave for other jobs. Ultimately, only three people relocated to the West, leaving 80 vacancies.  

The Washington, D.C. District Court ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to take action by the end of the month on complaints against the NRA for its shell companies coordinating campaign spending with federal candidates. In the past, Republican FEC board members blocked the commission from asking the FBI to look into the NRA laundering Russian money into DDT’s campaign.

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