Nel's New Day

January 31, 2022

Youngkin Follows Trump’s Path

Presidential competition in 2024 for Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, may be from Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, who took over the office in office a little over two weeks ago. As a candidate, Youngkin appeared to be DDT-Lite, his primary campaign platform putting parents into control of school curriculum and banning books. His executive orders on his first day of office, however, show the “Lite” is gone. He went full-blown Trumpism, signing 11 executive orders and saying, “The work is only beginning,” meaning his control of education, more police, fewer regulations, and “making government work for the people.” 

One order blocked mask requirements in public schools. He admitted that “the governor cannot ban mask mandates. Schools make those decisions. We will in fact, then, also make sure that schools allow parents to exercise their rights for what’s best for their children, to opt-out of those mandates.” For no reason. Almost half of Virginia’s schools are suing Youngkin, stating his order is unconstitutional and pointing out that Youngkin’s son attends a private school with a mask mandate. In a poll, 56 percent agree that school districts should establish their own policies. Youngkin also signed an order permitting for-profit businesses to use taxpayer money in setting up private schools. The South has a long tradition of segregation using taxpayer funding for private schools. 

Despite Youngkin’s threat to withhold funds from schools not following his mask ban, the superintendent of Richmond Public Schools said, “We will fight it to the end.” Part of the lawsuits argues that Virginia law requires school adherence to CDC provisions which include universal mask wearing in schools and overrides Youngkin’s order. His excuses for banning mask mandates falsely claim that children wear unclean masks with “bacteria and parasites” and long-term mask-wearing “decreases their effectiveness.” Dr. Colin Greene, the newly appointed state health commissioner, couldn’t find one study to support Younkin’s statement but said that it was “intuitive.

Virginia’s order versus school district’s attempt to protect student has boiled over into schools. At a school board meeting in Page County, a woman threatened to bring “every single gun loaded” to her children’s school on the next Monday. Charged with a crime, she said she didn’t literally mean it, but the district increased security. Some parents kept their children home from school. The website Mask Off Monday told parents to disobey school rules for wearing masks. Their direction:

“You may feel the need to explain your mask issues further. Resist that feeling. When it comes to the law, explanation is weakness. It’s time to get back to normal life, and the time to push is right now. Fear has ruled our lives for far too long. No ‘health authority’ will give you the all clear after all of the new power they have seized and wielded. You must turn off the television, and take it for yourself.”

Before his election, Youngkin said that “localities” must decide “the way the law works,” and his campaign promised Youngkin “would not go as far as Desantis.” After his ban on mandate requirements blew up in his face, the new governor wrote, “We’re all in the same boat and love one another.” Yet, as Dahlia Lithwick wrote, “He personally modeled contempt for authority—he encouraged it and rewarded it. He did so in the full knowledge that he was essentially deputizing furious parents to follow only the kinds of laws they liked and conscripting their kids into participating.”

Virginia’s new attorney general, Jason Miyares, is cut from Youngkin cloth: he told state universities they cannot mandate the COVID mandate for students to enroll or attend in person unless legislature includes the requirements among the immunizations. The legal opinion overturned one from April 2021 by Democratic AG Mark Herring allowing the mandate during the pandemic. The statement isn’t law and has no direct consequences if not followed. Miyares’ office stated, however, that “if an individual decided to sue a university for not following the attorney general’s guidance, they could use the Attorney General’s opinion in court.”

Before being sworn in, Miyares fired 30 lawyers, many of them in the Office of Civil Rights, with only a 24-hour notice. Some were career civil servants, not political appointees. Helen Hardiman, an investigator and litigator against housing discrimination, had 20 cases in court or going to trial. Miyares also fired top counsels at the University of Virginia and George Mason University with no justification. He said their legal advice was based on “the philosophy of a university,” indicating that the firing was political.  One attorney was fired while on leave from his university position to be the top investigator for the House January 6 committee. Miyares’ campaign promise to call “balls and strikes” with no allegiance to a political party has disappeared.

Miyares pulled Virginia out of a multi-state climate contract just two weeks after another disastrous storm from climate change. He announced Virginia would no longer participate in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case supporting the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions related to climate change, saying, “Virginia is no longer anti-coal.” Virginia will join the coalition of 27 attorneys general asking OSHA to withdraw its COVID vaccine mandate of large private employers. Miyares seeks legislative authority to prosecute local cases he determines to be treated with too much leniency or completely bypass “liberal” prosecutors. Yet he refused to say whether he would continue Herring’s cases such as a lawsuit against Windsor (VA) alleging police discriminated against Blacks and violated their constitutional rights.

Another Youngkin order on his first day followed other states to give students “comfort” in their education by blocking instruction of “inherently divisive concepts.” A legislative bill defines that term as one race is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously” and that “meritocracy or traits, such as a hard work ethic, are racist or sexist or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.” Pushed to more clearly define the term, a GOP lawmaker answered, “Anything that’s dividing”—eliminating lessons to “analyze bias and examine privilege.”

The proposed law could return the state to the mid-twentieth century as the South Florida Sun Sentinel pointed out: 

“Virginia textbooks in the mid-20th century fed students a fiction of happy slaves who loved their kindly masters. One particularly deceitful illustration portrayed a well-dressed Black family—father, mother and children—being welcomed with a handshake aboard a slave ship.”

Youngkin outdid DeSantis in this “anti-critical-race-theory” order: he set up a tip line for reports of anyone who dares violate his command. It backfired. Trolling Gen Zers on TikTok flooded the email address using a website to send prewritten emails containing song lyrics. Ironically, the governer’s office tweeted a complaint about this “misinformation” to the disinformation the governor spread through his executive actions. Gen-Z for Change made this statement to The Washington Examiner:

“If Governor Youngkin is worried that his tactics to distract from his poor handling of the pandemic are being disrupted by the collective effort of a bunch of kids who think racism is bad, he should feel free to contact us at our tip line: cryaboutit@genzforchange.org. Then again, we appreciate Governor Youngkin sticking to email—it would have been a real pain to lick this many envelopes.”

Youngkin bans “divisive” concepts in public schools, but the private schools where Youngkin’s children attended teaches these concepts. He was even on the board of National Cathedral, an all-girl Episcopal-sponsored school, known for developing anti-racism teachings with diversity forums, an equity board, an intersectionality council, and a student diversity leadership conference. The curriculum provides time for “critical conversations around topics of race, anti-racism, social justice, and inclusion”; added courses such as “Black Lives in Literature” and “Courageous Dialogues”; developed new hiring protocols “as a result of our anti-bias work,” and required diversity training for all staff members. On the summer reading list are books such as Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk about Racism.  According to the school, “discomfort helps us to stretch and grow. Learning how to engage in difficult conversations [is] vital.” The companion all-boys school, St. Albans, followed the same anti-racism initiatives. Youngkin is denying his children’s educational advantages to all public school students.

With his own pro-coal policy,  Youngkin appointed Andrew Wheeler, former EPA secretary and coal industry lobbyist, as the state’s secretary of natural resources, implementing environmental policies. Virginia also dropped opposition in the Supreme Court to Mississippi’s unconstitutional abortion restriction before 15 weeks, and Youngkin expanded duties of a state diversity officer as an “ambassador for unborn children,” actually fetuses. He fired the entire state parole board and replaced the members with more conservative ones. Anti-LGBTQ, Youngkin referred to transgender girls as “biological males” and opposes same-gender marriage. He was honored at an anti-LGBTQ group gala supported by hate groups and Trump-affiliated organizations. His transition’s top officials wrote the legislation outlawing marriage equality and helped build anti-LGBTQ conservatives’ careers such as those of former VP Mike Pence and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. As he bragged to Fox’s Laura Ingraham, there’s “a new sheriff in town.”

The “new sheriff” is already underwater in approval: the PPP survey shows positive rating at 44 percent compared to 47 percent disapproval. Having put Virginia into chaos, Youngkin says he’s “having a ball.” He lies about his campaign promises and endangers lives both from the virus and the violence ensuing because of his “inherently divisive” behavior. His next move is to restrict voting in Virginia. And he’s a businessman. He’s checking off all the Trumper boxes.

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

Throughout the U.S., 88 percent of families have received the first direct deposit for their children, $300 per child under the age of six and $250 for each child from 6 through 17. Previous tax credits excluded the poorest third of children because parents didn’t pay income taxes, but families making $400,000 would receive full payments. Now the poorest families receive the money, but the top limit is $150,000 for families. If everyone deserving the checks receives them, child poverty can be reduced by 40 percent—even more with stimulus checks. More details here.

Protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest include a ban on large-scale old-growth logging and road development on over nine million acres. Part of one of the world’s remaining relatively intact temperate rainforests has been the only national forest with industrial old-growth logging.

To eliminate a huge backlog of asylum cases, AG Merrick Garland reversed DDT’s immigration policy preventing immigration judges from closing low-priority cases and removing them from their dockets. Because of DDT, 1.3 million immigration cases wait to be heard in the U.S.

Garland also temporarily blocked executions of federal inmates, because of exonerations after death sentences and discrimination against minorities. He has directed a review of recent policy changes. After almost 20 years of no federal executions, DDT’s AG Bill Barr executed 13 people, more than in all 50 states combined.

The DOJ eliminated former AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to allow asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence in their home countries. Garland also vacated a decision during DDT’s term refusing asylum to a Mexican man targeted by cartel La Familia Michoacana because the man’s father refused to sell the cartel’s drugs in his store.

Biden plans to increase the U.S. annual refugee admissions cap of 62,500 for the current fiscal year to 125,000 next year.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide gender-confirmation surgery through its health-care coverage by reversing a 2013 ban. According to the VA, fewer than 4,000 veterans would have this surgery although it is estimated that about 134,000 veterans are transgender. The VA is also changing the name from LGBT health program to LGBTQ+ Health Program for inclusiveness.

The Antiviral Program for Pandemics will provide $3.2 billion for clinical trials of antiviral medication treating COVID-19 and other potential epidemic viruses. Treatments, called protease inhibitors which inhibit an enzyme needed to replicate the virus in human cells, could be distributed by the end of 2021. Protease inhibitors are already used for HIV and hepatitis C.

Federal loans will be cancelled for 18,000 ITT Technical Institute students defrauded by the for-profit chain, shut down in 2016. During DDT’s term, 34,000 former students petitioned to cancel their debt under the “borrower defense to repayment” but were refused. ITT Tech consistently lied to students about their ability to transfer credit to other schools as well as about employment and earnings prospects after graduation.

Biden’s new executive order limits noncompete clauses designed to keep low wages by blocking tens of millions of private-sector employees from moving to better-paying jobs for any reason. These clauses, originally to keep employees from passing along corporate secrets, are now for even low-wage services with no justification. Another part of the sweeping order to open up “fair competition” tries to lower prescription drug prices and cracks down on internet service providers by promoting competition. Biden said:

“Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism. It’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. And for too many Americans that means accepting a bad deal for things you can’t go without.”

Biden called for the return of net neutrality rules to block broadband companies from selectively blocking, slowing, or speeding up websites. He also called for greater scrutiny of mergers, including those already completed and “killer acquisitions,” the takeover of competitors showing potential.

Another Biden order permits independent repairs on devices and equipment, including electronics, and removes repair monopolies. It also directs federal agencies to create consumer- and worker-protecting rules across the broadband, agricultural, transportation, and technology industries. More than half the states have considered right-to-repair legislation, protecting rights for people to fix their own possessions.

Three million adults will not be removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and one million children will continue to have free school lunches. A judge had ruled against DDT’s changes, and ARPA expanded Snap benefits by 15 percent through September 2021.

Biden dropped DDT’s ban on apps TikTok and WeChat to conduct a review of apps tied to foreign adversaries.

The Defense Production Act Loan Program must guarantee its funds can be used only for direct Covid-19 response and medical-related supply chain projects after DDT used it as a military slush fund.

DDT’s war on so-called “sanctuary cities” is over after Biden repealed the former policy preventing federal funds from those areas.

At the end of DDT’s term, his Energy Department changed the limits on water flow so he could wash his “beautiful head of hair.” Biden reversed DDT’s rule, allowing the same limits established by the industry in 2013.

Last week, Senate Democrats announced an agreement on the $3.5 trillion budget during the next ten years. Federal resources will go into helping climate change, healthcare, and family-service programs. Assistance goes to the U.S. drought and fire crises, individuals, and the economy, ravaged by the pandemic, moving toward long-term growth. Part of the budget expands vision, hearing, and dental benefits for Medicare recipients.

Last week, Biden’s nominee for the Census Bureau, Robert Santos, testified before the Senate that has still not confirmed over 200 of Biden’s appointments. The abrupt departure of Steven Dillingham in January after complaints about his attempt to rush out an incomplete data report on noncitizens has left the position vacant since then. The bureau will release data by August 16 despite Alabama’s federal lawsuit about the bureau’s privacy protection plans which has been blocked by the court.

Biden can replace the chief of the Federal Housing Finance Agency overseeing mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mark Calabria, appointed by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), has been replaced by a deputy agency director Sandra Thompson as acting director. Calabria wanted to privatize the government agency that helps people to buy their homes and keeps mortgages low.

Biden also removed Rodney Scott, head of the U.S. Border Patrol. Earlier this year, Scott, a supporter of DDT who appointed him in all his policies including building the wall, refused to comply with Biden’s administration directive to stop using the term “illegal aliens” for undocumented immigrants. He claimed the Border Patrol would lose public trust if agents were forced to use terms “inconsistent with law.”

DDT’s Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul is also gone. DDT’s anti-union pick to curb benefits, 74-year-old Saul, was fired after he refused to resign. His DDT-appointed deputy, David Black, resigned upon request.  Saul delayed stimulus checks for millions of disabled people by trying to make them reestablish their eligibility for benefits. A former women’s apparel executive and current GOP donor, he served on a conservative think tank calling for Social Security cuts. Saul declared Biden couldn’t make him leave, but last year the Supreme Court ruled that the president can remove directors, for example that of the consumer Financial Protection bureau. When Saul wouldn’t leave, his access to agency computers was cut off in his Katonah (NY) home where he worked for 17 months. Saul’s acting replacement, Kilolo Kijakazi, is undoing Saul’s policies and planning the safe reopening of the department’s 1,200 field offices.

Biden has two infrastructure bills, a bipartisan agreement with enough GOP support to pass investing $579 billion in new spending for domestic needs and another one for “human infrastructure” from healthcare to housing to be passed through the reconciliation process like the ARPA Act last March. Originally, the former plan would be partially financed by enforcing IRS debts by the wealthy, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said the GOP doesn’t want to make rich people pay their owed income taxes, up to $1 trillion for the past year, according to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.    

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told his Senate GOP comrades to walk out and deny a quorum for the reconciliation bill. His tactic requires all 50 GOP senators to leave, and the departure of any one of them reduces the number necessary for a majority of the vote.

DDT’s White evangelical base is rapidly shrinking, according to the 2020 Census of American Religions, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 14.5 percent last year.

People are far more optimistic and happier now, according to a new Gallup poll: 59.2 percent say they’re thriving, and 73 percent said they experienced enjoyment for much of the previous day. The first is the highest since the poll began 13 years earlier, and the second is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic almost 18 months ago.

February 4, 2021

Biden: The Move Back to Governing

Two astonishing things happened on Thursday. Both were predictable, but the first was refreshing after four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). In President Joe Biden’s first foreign policy address, he provided the United States is back—and Biden is governing through diplomacy and rejection of authoritarianism.

Russia: Biden clearly told Vladimir Putin the U.S. is through “rolling over in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions,” specifically referring to the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny after Putin’s failure to kill Navalny with a nerve poison. 

Yemen: Biden said the U.S. will not support “offensive operations” and instead increase humanitarian aid in the country devastated by DDT’s friend Saudi Arabia. A special envoy at the State Department is to work toward ending the conflict. Biden has also frozen these DDT’s arms sales to the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates while he investigates if U.S. weapons are being used to continue the Saudi-led attacks on Yemen, causing thousands of civilian deaths and overwhelming hunger.

Myanmar: Biden asked House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a bipartisan response to persuade the military to release detained activists and officials and end the coup in the Southeast Asian nation.

Other Biden actions include a memorandum protecting LGBTQ rights worldwide, an increase in refugees permitted into the U.S. to 125,000 (instead of DDT’s 15,000) in the fiscal year beginning October 1, and a freeze on DDT’s deployment of U.S. troops from Germany. Biden told State Department employees, “We’re going to rebuild our alliances. We’re going to reengage the world and take on the enormous challenges we face.” Biden added that in his administration employees will “be trusted and empowered to do your job. [It will] not target or politicize you.” As Biden said, “America is back.”   

On the bottom of the strata, 199 GOP members of the House endorsed QAnon conspiracy theories and incitement to violence by voting against removing committee assignments from newly sworn-in Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led the exoneration when he told the assembled House members that Greene had assured him she didn’t echo QAnon statements or if she did, she didn’t mean them now. Videos show Greene had lied to him, and he accepted her lies without looking into her background. Her writings in 2019 refute her claim she broke away from QAnon in 2018 and knew nothing about “space lasers,” controlled by a wealthy Jewish family, causing California forest fires.

Documentation clearly shows Greene either supported or stated graphic threats to kill Democratic political figures such as Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She didn’t withdraw her threats when she gave her speech to the House, only justifying herself by saying she was “allowed to believe things that weren’t true.” While campaigning last September, Green posted an image of three progressive Democratic House members—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Rashida Tlaib (MI)—next to her photo holding an AR-15 with the caption, “Squad’s Worst Nightmare.”

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Chair of the Rules Committee, said:

“I just have to say that I did not hear an apology or denouncement for the claim, the insinuation that political opponents should be violently dealt with. I didn’t hear anybody apologize or retract the anti-Semitic and Islamophobic remarks that have been made, that have been posted, over and over again.”

Greene called being the mother of three children “the greatest blessing of my life and the greatest thing that I’ll ever achieve. One of her children responded with a tweet, calling her mother “batsh*t f**king crazy.”

Instead of taking responsibility, Greene blamed the media. In her speech, she said they were “just as guilty as QAnon for promoting lies.”

With their unwillingness to defend Greene’s outrageous statements, GOP representatives claimed the House had no right to remove her from committees. McCarthy called it “unprecedented” because the opposite party has never taken away committee assignments. Greene’s statements are also “unprecedented”: never before has a lawmaker threatened the unwarranted executions of legislators, a U.S. president, and other officials in the opposing party. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) described the vote as a “slippery slope” but overlooked the “slope” of permitting a lawmaker to make these threats without a penalty.

Eleven House Republicans voted with 219 Democrats to remove Greene’s committee assignments:

  • California – Young Kim
  • Florida – Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Gimeniz, Maria Elvira Salazar (all three from the southern part of the state where a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at a high school, a tragedy which Greene called a staged “false flag”)
  • Illinois – Adam Kinzinger
  • Michigan – Fred Upton
  • New Jersey – Chris Smith
  • New York – Chris Jacobs,  John Katko, Nicole Malliotakis (representatives of the 9/11 tragedy location killing 3,000 which Greene originally said didn’t happen)
  • Pennsylvania – Brian Fitzpatrick

On Wednesday, almost 30 percent of the Republicans secretly voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her party leadership position in the House because she had voted to impeach DDT. Thursday, she voted to leave Greene on the committees but condemned her statements, stating, “Republicans are not the party of QAnon conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Holocaust deniers, or Neo-Nazis.” After the 95-percent GOP support for Greene, she sounds wrong. Greene’s statements cannot be separated from her political philosophy.

In the past 15 days, the GOP has supported conspiracy theories, and state GOP leaders censured anti-DDT Republicans. At the same time, the country has approved Biden’s executive directives and ideas: demonstrated approval for many of Biden’s actions during the past 15 days:  

  • 83 percent: extending the anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ. (Even 64 percent of self-identified Republicans support the executive order.)
  • 77 percent: committing to a government-wide focus on racial equality, with 52 percent of Republicans approving.
  • 71 percent: a Gallup poll showing a support of transgender people in the military.
  • 68 percent: continuing suspension of federal student loan repayments.
  • 66 percent: continuing eviction ban.
  • 65 percent: extending the DACA program.
  • 65 percent: a Pew poll last year indicating people believing the government does too little on climate change.
  • 63 percent: rejoining the Paris climate agreement.
  • 62 percent: rejoining the World Health Organization.
  • 61 percent: recommitting to the Paris climate agreement.
  • 57 percent: reexamining DDT policies on public health and the environment.
  • 56 percent: allowing noncitizens to be counted in the U.S. Census.
  • 53 percent: stopping the southern border wall.
  • 52 percent: ending the Muslim travel ban to the U.S.

A moratorium on drilling in the Arctic refuge and revoking the permit for the Keystone gained supporting pluralities. And 68 percent of people in the U.S. supports Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University. As Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said about the bill, “It is bipartisan amongst the American people.” Another 61 percent supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, and the same percentage is optimistic about Biden’s next four years in office. 

Biden created a task force to reunite migrant children after DDT separated them at the southern border from their families. Another Biden directive reviews opportunities for foreign workers and students to enter the country. Biden ordered the State Department to consider the suspension of rapidly deporting migrants seeking protection to Central America. More “cooperative agreements” would replace those with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras although DDT’s appointees still refuse migrants entry or deport them. DDT was responsible for over 400 immigration-related executive actions during his four-year term.

Biden also resumed relations with Palestinian leaders and returned U.S. contributions to the UN agency giving aid to Palestinians. DDT cut off all support four years ago to please Israel. Richard Mills, acting U.S. ambassador to the UN, said the new administration wants a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state.” DDT closed the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization; halted contributions to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency aiding Palestinian refugees and their descendants; moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the city as Israel’s capital; recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights; and proposed a peace proposal which left all Israeli West Bank settlements in place.

Biden is also correcting DDT’s removal of disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people.

Biden restored the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), initiated by George H.W. Bush. It protects scientists from political interference and ensures federal decisions across the agencies are based on science whenever possible. An accompanying memo states, “Science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government.” A task force will evaluate scientific-integrity policies across the government. A chief science officer will ensure agencies follow the task force guidelines and provide annual reporting for complaints about guidelines not being followed and the investigation’s outcomes. Biden has moved from evidence-free to evidence-based.

On his first day, Biden issued an executive order requiring the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to review regulations proposed by the executive branch. It calls for appropriate offices to “provide concrete suggestions on how the regulatory review process can promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.” The entire executive order is well worth reading.

DDT postured and bullied for four years; Biden is governing.

January 26, 2021

Biden: An Amazing Week

In his first 100 days, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) signed 32 executive orders—fewer than President Joe Biden signed in his first week. Both of them overturned the previous person’s rulings, but Biden did his signings with much less fanfare. DDT always insisted on a large media gathering while he held up his signature each time. He also chose to make policy by himself instead of working with Congress to enshrine his wishes into law.

Within his first week, Biden reversed DDT’s orders to destroy the environment, immigration, and LGBTQ rights. Other documents initiated the management of COVID-19 response, began a movement toward racial equality, undid regulatory restrictions on federal agencies, reinstated ethics pledge for government appointees, terminated building of the wall, paused federal student loan payments, expanded food assistance programs, helped veterans with debt, and provided other federal aid in the midst of the pandemic. A recent order bolsters his “Buy American” agenda and “close loopholes that allow companies to offshore production and jobs while still qualifying for domestic preferences.” Another called for evaluation of DDT’s housing policies and ordered private prison contracts to not be renewed. Biden also emphasized a commitment of Native American tribal sovereignty and denounced anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia.

Biden revoked DDT’s ban on federal agencies, contractors, and other recipients of federal funding from conducting diversity training exploring racism and privilege. DDT had deemed these trainings harmful to White workers. The Department of Labor had suspended the order’s enforcement after a federal court in California granted a preliminary injunction against it after Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit, but departments including State, DOJ, EPA, and Veterans Affairs had already suspended diversity and inclusion training. The lawsuit will continue in order to ensure organizations suffer no adverse consequences from diversity practices they might have pursued while the order was in effect.

The president also plans to reopen federal marketplaces for the Affordable Care Act for a few months and lower DDT’s barriers to joining Medicaid. DDT had put much greater restrictions on participating in the ACA and dropped all advertising about it.

Biden will also review DDT’s February 2020 “peace” deal with the Taliban to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. According to National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne, Biden wants to ensure the Taliban is “living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.” Despite the agreement, Afghanistan has seen surging violence, and the country thinks “the Taliban did not live up to its commitments.”

Domestic terrorism is another threat that Biden is tackling. After DDT spent four years praising these people, considered the most serious threat to the U.S. by a survey of law enforcement, Biden announced a major initiative overhauling the federal approach by ordering intelligence agencies to conduct a “comprehensive threat assessment” in cooperation with the FBI and the DHS. Press Secretary said the National Security Council wants “fact-based analysis” for policy to counter the domestic terrorism.

One Biden order started the process of amending or reversing over 100 of DDT’s almost 200 anti-environment decisions by stopping them while they are under review.  A major policy is DDT’s alteration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when DDT eliminated environmental impact reports for many projects and shortened the time for evaluations’ reviews as well as restrictions on public input. A major DDT focus was expanding use and extraction of coal, oil and natural gas. He dropped a provision permitting state and tribal government to reject federal permit decisions on fossil fuel projects. In his last days, DDT destroyed protections by the Endangered Species Act.

Biden plans to put a moratorium on new federal oil and gas leasing although about 10,000 approved applications are still not in use, meaning companies can proceed with them.

The new president also plans to revoke DDT’s order changing career employees into political appointees. Affecting tens of thousands of career employees, DDT’s order would have removed all rights from career employees and allow him to fire them at will with no justification. DDT’s orders also removed paid time for fulfilling certain union responsibilities and gave agencies the ability to decide on their own penalties for perceived poor performance or misconduct.

Other changes are replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, something DDT delayed for several years into the future, and using an American Sign Language interpreter at all press conferences. DDT had refused to have an ASL interpreter. Biden is also replacing White House Dr. Sean Conley, who admitted lying to the public about DDT’s COVID-19 treatment and condition. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Conley’s replacement, has treated Biden since 2009.

A federal judge in Texas appointed by DDT blocked Biden’s 100-day deportation “pause” for 14 days. Texas AG Ken Paxton, Paxton, under investigation for alleged state securities fraud, bribery, etc., cheered at his “victory.”

In one victory, however, the DOJ rescinded he DHS “zero tolerance” policy, causing family separations among asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants crossing the border. Acting AG Monty Wilkinson ordered federal prosecutors to return to return to the previous policy of acting on merits of each case. DDT’s policy required every adult illegally crossing the border be prosecuted.

While all except five GOP senators think that DDT should be put on trial for his crimes, confirmations for Biden’s appointments are still gradually moving forward. One reason for the decision to put a Republican elected as president above the law may be fear. Instead of starting a third party to re-elect him, DDT plans to control the GOP and promises vengeance against any Republican who isn’t his loyalist. DDT has already threatened non-loyalists with primary challengers. According to rumors, Ivanka Trump may primary Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in 2022.Most GOP senators are weaseling out of convicting DDT by calling the impeachment “unconstitutional.” In Florida, DDT has established “The Office of the Former President” for political action. 

After confirming Avril Haines for Intelligence Director, it is leisurely confirming more Biden appointments. It confirmed the first Black secretary of the Defense Department, Lloyd Austin, by 93-2 with only Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Lee (R-UT) as holdouts. Biden has ordered a 90-day commission to pursue solutions to sexual assault in the military. Janet Yellen was confirmed, 84 to 15, as the first female secretary of the Treasury Department and faces the worst economy in decades. Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, won Senate confirmation by 78-22.

After Biden had his first call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House, for the first time in four years, is releasing information about the conversation. Topics of the call:

  • Concern about the Russian SolarWinds hacking campaign breaching DOJ email accounts.
  • Reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops.
  • Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Concerns about the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • The Kremlin’s recent treatment of peaceful protesters demonstrating in support of Navalny.
  • Support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
  • A goal of extending a nuclear arms treaty for five years with Russia.

According to the White House press release:

“President Biden made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. The two presidents agreed to maintain transparent and consistent communication going forward.”

Biden’s first approval rating since his inauguration shows 63 percent support from registered voters. He received 61 percent support for the economy, stimulating jobs and fighting terrorism, 60 percent for foreign affairs, and 57 percent for immigration. The highest ratings came from administering the government, 65 percent, and handling the pandemic, 69 percent. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/13/trump-approval-rating-poll-458602  DDT’s last approval rating was 34 percent, the lowest of his four years. Disapproval was at 63 percent for DDT, the same as Biden’s approval rating.

Up ten percent from a week ago, 50 percent of people have confidence in the government’s information about COVID-19. False information, however, comes from pro-DDT areas. Studies of “excess deaths” show the number of deaths from COVID-19 is 31 percent higher than currently reported, with most of these “excess deaths” in areas leaning toward DDT, especially rural areas. According to an analysis, “25 percent of counties with the most Trump voters in 2020 [have] 163 excess deaths for every 100 Covid-19 deaths.”

One reason for high disparities is that deaths might be counted as COVID-19 related only if people are tested for the virus, and DDT’s poor testing infrastructure led to ignorance. The highest correlations were between high excess deaths and elected non-medical coroners, especially when rural coroners must pay for post-mortem testing from their own budgets. These officials also suffer from pressure by families’ beliefs about how their relatives die. People claim they don’t have COVID-19 when they are dying from the disease, and officials in pro-DDT areas lie about the cause of death.

As of January 26, 2021, world cases have topped 100 million and deaths are over two million. Today another 148,265 infections in the U.S. top the total over 26 million in a year, and the 4,045 deaths in the U.S. bring the total to 435,452—with another 135,000 “excess deaths.”

January 21, 2021

Biden’s First Full Day at Repairing the U.S.

Last night, I had over six hours of uninterrupted sleep, the first time in many months that led up to the 2020 presidential election and the aftermath of election denial leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Instead of recording the horrific current acts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), I look forward to the chronicle of President Joe Biden and a Senate majority working for democracy.

As 34 agency acting directors (complete list) are in place, waiting the Senate to confirm the permanent appointments, Avril Haines is now National Intelligence Director, replacing the statutorily unqualified John Ratcliffe confirmed unanimously by the GOP loyalists. Biden may also leave Christopher Wray as FBI director. Both the House and Senate approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin, appointed for Department of Defense secretary, necessary because he retired from the military under five years ago instead of the required minimum seven years for the position.

On his first full day, Biden designated two more acting positions: Rebecca Kelly Slaughter to chair the Federal Trade Commission and Jessica Rosenworcel to head up the Federal Communications Commission. The FTC will be active in watching Big Tech such as Facebook and Google, and the FCC will address net neutrality with Rosenworcel’s support.

Biden also appointed Dr. Rachel Levin, currently Pennsylvania’s health secretary, to assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. Despite transphobic backlash, Levine pushed the state toward more responsible COVID-19 guidelines. If confirmed, she would become the first openly transgender federal official.

Working with other White House policy councils, the White House Gender Policy Council, co-chaired by Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso, will guide and coordinate government policy impacting women and girls in issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy.

Before Joe Biden became president, he and his transition team were not permitted to view the COVID-19 plan. Seeing the plans, they discovered there is no vaccine distribution strategy, according to Jeff Zients, Biden’s virus response coordinator. Instead, everything must start at “square one,” a CNN source said. Biden’s strategy can be found here.  Biden has already issued multiple executive orders to expedite the process:

  • He directed agencies to use wartime powers requiring U.S. companies to make PPE equipment such as swabs and N95 masks.
  • Mask usage is mandated in airports and on many planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses.
  • International travelers need to show a negative Covid-19 test before entering the U.S. and will have to quarantine upon arrival.
  • “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain” will “direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy” in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing of critical supplies.
  • The administration will try to accelerate more funding to local and state officials for vaccine distribution, creating more vaccination sites and launching a national public education campaign.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will set up 100 community vaccination centers in the next month.
  • The COVID-19 response office and all federal agencies will improve federal data collection and sharing; CDC will publish a dashboard of the coronavirus cases at the county level.
  • Continued treatment research emphasizing diversity in clinical trials will also expand in programs to support recovering patients and increase the healthcare workforce.
  • A new pandemic testing board is intended to discover new types of effective and rapid tests.
  • Schools, businesses, and other settings with gatherings will receive guidance about the best way for widespread testing.
  • HHS is directed to collect data on school reopenings and the spread of COVID-19 to minimize any problems of sending young people back to schools.
  • OSHA will provide clear guidance to employers about safe workplace practices and enforcement.
  • A “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force” will ensure vaccines, treatments, masks, and other resources for everyone, including communities of color suffering high death rates.

Biden won’t enforce DDT’s lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions to places with coronavirus surges, lobbied by airlines.

Orders other than COVID-19:

  • Deportations for many undocumented immigrants with final orders of removal will be halted for 100 days. This order does not apply to those not in the U.S. before November 1, 2020, voluntarily waiving rights to remain, and having engaged in suspected terrorism. DDT deported over 185,000 people for the 2020 fiscal year. ICE officers are to focus arrests only against people who are national security threats, arrested at the border after November 1, 2020, and deemed public safety threats who have been convicted of an aggravated felony. Earlier, Biden rescinded DDT’s memo making almost every undocumented immigrant a deportation priority.
  • Agent officials will conduct a review and issue recommendations to “address aspects of immigration enforcement, including policies for prioritizing the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets; policies governing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion; policies governing detention; and policies regarding interaction with state and local law enforcement.”
  • The rule reversing DDT’s discrimination against LGBTQ people states:

“It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.” 

Biden also plans to reverse DDT’s policy preventing U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups (NGOs) providing or referring patients for abortions. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the World Health Organization executive board that Biden will revoke the Mexico City Policy “as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.” The Mexico City Policy increases the abortion rate because it reduces access to contraception. DDT had also cut off federal Title X family planning funding to domestic health care providers performing or referring patients for abortion.

Two weeks before the expiration of the New START pact with Russia, Biden is working on a five-year extension for the treaty limiting both countries’ nuclear arsenals. He also plans to impose new costs on Russia for their recent aggressive actions in the U.S. election interference, the poisoning of Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexi Navalny, and bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. DDT had failed to reach any agreement because of his attempt to include China in the accord. Biden also asked new Intelligence Director Avril Haines for analysis of the massive cyberattack on the federal government blamed on Russia.

Biden will examine an agreement with the United Arab Emirates, signed an hour before his inauguration, selling them 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones.

In another focus, Biden began overturning over 100 of DDT’s actions damaging the environment. A new rule from the Interior Department orders sign offs from a top appointee for new oil and gas lease or drilling activity. With John Kerry as his climate envoy, Biden plans to go much farther than just reversing DDT’s aggressively prioritizing the fossil fuels industry at the cost of fighting climate change or protecting imperiled animals. During his term, DDT attacked over 200 environmental protections by trying to abolish or scale them back. Of DDT’s 64 policies weakening or overturning ways to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, 1 has been overturned, 22 targeted, and another 41 not yet targeted. DDT also has 27 policies about wildlife and 23 relating to infrastructure and planning. Details about DDT’s orders are here. The day before Biden’s inauguration, a federal court struck down the DDT’s rollback of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Beginning on the day of Biden’s inauguration, the White House plans press briefings five days a week. Aaron Rupar described the first one by Press Secretary Jen Psaki as a “breath of fresh air.”

“There were no angry outbursts. No insults. No conspiracy theories pushed from the briefing room lectern. Just civil, if largely unmemorable, exchanges with reporters.”

He noted the “starkest possible contrast” with DDT’s first on four years ago when then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer lambasted reporters for “accurately covering the relative smallness of Trump’s inaugural crowd size.” Rupar described past briefings—when they occasionally occurred—as “more like professional wrestling events than they were good-faith efforts to inform the American public.” Major networks have assigned women to the White House beat: ABC, Cecilia Vega; CNN, Kaitlan Collins; CBS, Nancy Cordes, and NBC, Kristen Walker joining Peter Alexander. Sean Spicer has applied to be in the White House press corps because he has a show on the far-right Newsmax.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The day of the presidential inauguration was also the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. The night before, Joe and Jill Biden attended a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial with VP Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Looking at the 400 lights representing the 400,000 people who have died of the coronavirus in the past year, Biden talked about the importance of remembering in order to heal. Since the memorial, about 9,000 people have died in the U.S. of the virus, bringing the total to 420,285. On January 21, the day after the inauguration, the number of infections in the U.S. surpassed 25 million.

January 20, 2021

Biden’s Day One: Clearing the Swamp

On January 20, 2021, Dictator Donald Trump, now the Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), left the White House, and President Joe Biden moved in. An eternity ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came to his inauguration in a time of growing prosperity to give a speech about “American carnage” where he promised to “drain the swamp.” During the next four years, DDT:

  • Filled positions with a swinging door of loyalists and family members.
  • Incited violence and hatred from racism, beginning with a ban against Muslim and “brown” immigrants coming into the U.S. and continuing with his praise of white supremacists at the Charlottesville (VA) rally.
  • Drove the U.S. people against legitimate media by calling it “fake” and called the Russian investigation finding Russian interference in the 2016 election a “hoax.”
  • Destroyed the expanding economy but gave a false sense of security by artificially propping up the stock markets.
  • Made the national debt skyrocket by catering to the wealthy and big business, especially with his drastic tax cuts primarily for those two demographics, to over $10 billion before costs of his mismanaged COVID-19 crisis—which he also called a “hoax.” 
  • Became the first president in modern times creating no new jobs for the entire term.
  • Exacerbated the crises in the U.S. by alienating world allies and finished with denying a legal election for president.
  • Faced two impeachments, one for blackmailing a foreign leader and the other for inciting violence leading to domestic terrorists taking over the Capitol, the first time it was breached since the War of 1812.
  • Splintered the GOP.
  • Almost changed the U.S. democracy into an evangelical Christian theocracy.
  • Ignored the pandemic before sabotaging any solutions for the number of cases and deaths in the U.S.
  • Granted almost 200 pardons, many for bribery and corruption (aka “swamp”), finishing with one for Steve Bannon, arrested for defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors to “We Build the Wall” out of millions of dollars. The last, less than an hour before Biden’s inauguration, was for Albert Pirro, GOP donor and ex-husband of Fox network’s Jeanine Pirro, convicted almost 20 years ago on 34 counts of conspiracy and tax evasion for over $1 million in illegal tax write-offs for his business.
  • Led the worsT “transition” in modern history finished by refusing the courtesy of Biden’s flight Washington on a military plane.

DDT left Washington on January 20, 2021, a loser even with Republicans and white supremacists. Former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said DDT “fed lies” to his supporters to incite violence, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) praised Harris to cover up his vote to overturn the election. White supremacist Proud Boys, told by DDT at his first debate with Joe Biden to “stand by,” dumped their former hero. Calling DDT a “shill” and extraordinarily weak,” they told supporters to avoid rallies and protests for DDT and the GOP, stating DDT “will go down as a total failure.” Part of their anger came from the lack of pardons any of the insurgents received for the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

QAnon conspiracy theorists expected DDT would announce The Storm via the Emergency Broadcasting System to round up and arrest Democrats before being declared president. Ron Watkins, former 8kun administrator for QAnon, wrote:

“We gave it our all. Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.”

Conspiracy-debunker Travis View said people making money from the conspiracy theory have difficulty persuading followers to stay with them after this drastically wrong prediction. One said, “If nothing happens I will no longer believe in anything,” and another one dejectedly stated at the beginning of Biden’s inauguration, “We all just got played.” White supremacist groups are absorbing disenchanted QAnon members, targeting Parler users, now back on line after Russia hosts the social medium platform Parler on the same website as Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist political organization. Death threats from conservatives have driven the family of Parler’s CEO into hiding.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The inauguration of Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice-president, well documented throughout the day, preceded their work after the ceremonies.  At the White House, Biden signed a tall stack of orders left on his desk in the Oval Office. The 15 executive actions and two directives:

  • Halting the building of DDT’s “wall.”
  • Ending the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries.
  • Declaring his intent to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization
  • Revoking the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. 
  • Requiring masks and social distancing on federal property and by federal employees.
  • Extending the eviction freeze to help people struggling from the pandemic economy.
  • Continuing a pause on student loan payments until September 30. 
  • Counting non-citizens in U.S. Census again.
  • Restoring the White House’s National Security Council directorate for global health security and defense, eliminated by DDT. The same order creates a COVID-19 response coordinator position with Jeff Zients.
  • Instructing federal agencies to prioritize racial equality and review policies reinforcing systemic racism.
  • Extending protections an additional year for Liberians in the U.S.
  • Releasing the $27.4 billion in funding for 73 world programs as part of December’s spending bill that DDT had frozen.
  • Ordering federal employees to take an ethics pledge committing them to upholding the independence of the Justice Department.
  • Issuing an ethics rule much stricter than the one DDT recently issued, allowing reversing DDT’s recent order telling executive branch employees they can lobby anywhere anytime after they leave the administration.
  • Revoking the newly-released report of DDT’s “1776 Commission” promoting systemic racism through DDT’s definition of “patriotic education.”
  • Fortifying DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  • Repealing DDT’s ICE arrest priorities making immigration enforcement stricter.
  • Freezing DDT’s last-minute administration regulatory actions.

Biden also called for a review of all regulations and executive actions damaging to the environment or public health and plans dozens of more orders and directives redirecting the country without going through the Senate. In his spare time, Biden swore in dozens of appointees and staffers, telling them to treat each other with respect or he will fire them “on the spot.”

Another swearing-in ceremony made the Senate a Democratic majority with the vote of the vice-president to break a tie. VP Kamala Harris swore in Democrats Jon Ossoff (GA), Alex Padilla (CA), and Raphael Warnock (GA) as the new senators. [Above right: Harris looks very different from all the former VPs.]  

DDT’s National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Peter Robb refused to step down from his position so Biden fired him. Pro-management Robb attempted to reorganize the NLR’s regional offices and make new guidelines for agency investigations. He had great control over cases considered by the board against companies accused of violating the National Labor Relations Act amid conflicts of interest regarding DDT’s board members and their former clients.

Biden also fired Michael Pack, the corrupt head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media who removed its independence, and Kathleen Kraninger, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who persecuted consumers. Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency, also put Michael Ellis, the NSA top lawyer, on administrative leave after DDT pressured the Pentagon acting-acting DOD Secretary Chris Miller to put him into the job three days before the inauguration.

After the inauguration, China sanctioned former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and 27 other high-ranking DDT officials including former trade adviser Peter Navarro, chief China-hater in the White House; former national security advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton with former deputy Matt Pottinger; and pardoned Steve Bannon.

On his last day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, descended from Italian immigrants, said multiculturalism “is not who America is.” He tweeted it “points to one direction—authoritarianism.” Under Pompeo, the foreign service has 8 percent Black and Hispanic diplomats and 7 percent Asian. Hoping to run for president in 2024, Pompeo may have been again attacking the New York Times 1619 Project describing the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black people in the U.S. On Monday’s 35th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, DDT released a commission report from his “1776 Commission” blaming school curriculum for BLM protest violence, stating “the left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.” [Notice Biden revoked the commission and its report.]

Lagging far behind its work in confirming DDT’s appointments four years ago, the Senate approved Biden’s first Cabinet member, Avril Haines, for intelligence director by 84-10. The vote was taken before the new Democratic senators were sworn in, and the ten opposing Haines represent “the Trump Line,” several of them planning to be presidential candidates in 2024. Republicans objecting both initially and later: Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun, (IN), Ted Cruz (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Roger Marshall (KS), Rand Paul (KY), and James Risch (ID).

As for the threatened violence from far-right extremists, even throughout the nation’s state capitols, actions could be described as “low energy.” No one reported violence by 4:00 pm on January 20, 2021, and some of the “crowds had fewer than five people, only one at New York’s state capitol. Arizona did get about a dozen. Photos of the different states are available here. With the heavy National Guard force and hundreds of arrests after the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol, neo-Nazis and terrorists used the social medium Telegram to tell everyone to stay home. They wrote to use alternative sources for future battles.

His final desperate move inviting mass emails for his departure from Andrews Air Force asking everyone to bring five people brought out under 500 people.

From around the world, leaders of democracies praised Biden’s presidency. Their expressions of relief parallel those from many tens of millions of people in the U.S. Biden’s first day was a return to reality when the president works—for the people—and, in Biden’s words, “democracy has prevailed.” As for the rest of the term, Biden’s job, as for many other Democratic presidents, is to clean up the Republicans’ messes. And Biden keeps it up tomorrow with more items on his agenda than DDT has for weeks on end. 

To follow political adventures, I recommend three daily credible political reports—Rantt, Wtf, and Heather Cox Richardson’s blog—in addition to more standard sources. If you find yourself missing DDT, Rantt has an excellent overview of the past four years. Richardson’s analysis of the inauguration.

 

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) Senate is on vacation, unlike four years ago when they were busy confirming the appointments of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). By his inauguration, McConnell had held Cabinet hearings on Jeff Sessions (DOJ attorney general), Wilbur Ross (Secretary of Commerce), James Mattis (Department of Defense), Betsy DeVos (Secretary of Education), Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy), Tom Price (Secretary of Health & Human Services), John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security), Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing & Urban Development), Ryan Zinke (Secretary of Interior), Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State), Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation), and Steve Mnuchin (Secretary of Treasury.) Mattis and Kelly were confirmed on January 20, 2017—the day of DDT’s inauguration.  Only three Cabinet positions had no hearings by DDT’s inauguration, and one of them, Andrew Puzder withdrew his name in disgrace.

Hearings for only four President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet appointments may occur on January 19, 2021—Homeland Security, Defense, State, and Treasury—but McConnell can drag his feet for weeks in the confirmation process. DDT came into the Oval Office at a high time of economy and safety with foreign countries. Biden, however, is facing 4,000 U.S. deaths a day from COVID-19, and the HHS Secretary submitted his resignation for the day of the inauguration after having lied to the nation about the shortage of vaccine doses. Domestic terrorists threaten more attacks after an attempted coup on the Capitol, breaching the building and coming within a minute of finding VP Mike Pence, who insurgents promised to kill, but DHS is being run by an acting-acting DHS Secretary, moved up with the ninth position of FEMA. State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo is driving hatred toward the U.S. from the world’s countries just to cause trouble for Biden.

The Constitution does allow ways for Biden to move ahead even with McConnell’s obstruction. A document from the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force reveals 277 policies Biden can immediately invoke. Although Democrats opposed DDT’s broad interpretation of executive power with legal and political evasion, the ideas, however, provide food for thought.

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

In a constitutional alternative for confirmations, a president can make a “recess appointment” if the Senate adjourns for ten days. Appointments could last until the end of the congressional session, in this case the end of 2022. Republicans blocked any adjournments to keep President Obama from making any recess appointments, but the adjournment clause in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution has another option. Anticipating a “disagreement” between the House and the Senate about adjournment, the Constitution gives Biden the power to personally adjourn both chambers if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) cooperates, allowing Biden to appoint his Cabinet and the principal deputies on an acting basis until the Senate has a Democratic majority. Most of the other positions, lacking statutory authority or the ability to legalize policies, do not require confirmation.

According to Peter Shane, DDT’s practice of “acting” was to make “an administrative ‘delegation of authority’ from one agency official to a subordinate that allows the subordinate to do yet a third person’s job—to put officials in place who would presumably owe their political accountability solely to Trump and not to Congress.” Nowhere is the danger of this practice more obvious than at DHS: only two of the top dozen positions are filled by Senate-confirmed people. The remainder have an acting official or a senior official in a different post performing the duties of the vacant position. No president has ever followed this process of appointing a Cabinet, but no other person in the Oval Office has ever incited violence and been impeached twice.

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

DDT’s loyalists are so embedded within the executive branch that getting rid of them will be a challenge, especially in the cases of DDT’s political appointees moving to senior civil service positions; i.e., Michael Ellis becoming top lawyer for the NSA just three days before Biden’s inauguration. But many of DDT’s recent regulation changes won’t be legally effective until after January 20, and Biden can direct administrative agencies to stop regulations not yet final and hold unpublished ones in abeyance. Those not yet effective can be postponed until consideration. With the addition of Georgia’s Democratic senators, the Senate can use the Congressional Review Act to void DDT’s regulations made as far back as last summer. 

The Congressional Review Act, used frequently by DDT’s GOP senators, applies whether a rule expands or rolls back regulations within 60 days of Senate session, going back to July, after a new rule is published. No filibusters are allowed, and debate is limited to ten hours. A disapproved rule cannot be reissued, and no rule can be issued in “substantially the same form” without additional authorization from Congress. The process could work for such recent DDT rules as requiring banks to make loans to firearms and oil industries and protecting industries other than electric utilities from climate change regulations. The law comes from Newt Gingrich’s deregulation “Contract with America.”

Another kind of executive order specifically authorized by statute and directly affect people’s legal rights or obligations includes DDT’s travel ban order. On his first day, Biden can issue an executive order repealing all DDT’s executive orders he considers bad policy.

Regulations ordering public behavior, called “substantive rules,” require a lengthy process—public comments, detailed explanation considering the comments, final publishing, and a wait for Congress to review the rule. These rules, such as DDT’s rollback of clean water protections or withdrawing safeguards of the Endangered Species Act, require a new substantive rule following the same process. Biden can find leeway by lightening or removing the requirement of regulatory cost-benefit analyses approval. With “good cause,” an agency can make a rule effective immediately after its publication. The agency is still required to follow the process, but the rule is binding before the process. An interim final rule can be carried out if an agency believes delay in revising DDT’s rule would be, according to the Administrative Procedure Act, “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest,” it could consider an interim final rule.

Many of the DDT’s agency rules are not substantive because they don’t impose new legal obligations or remove existing ones. Most of them tend to be informative statements about priorities or interpretive ones to clarify exiting policies under statutes or other substantive rules. These “guidance” orders can be revised or repealed with no elaborate procedures.

Senate Majority:

With 100 percent of the votes counted from the January 5, 2021, runoff election for two U.S. Georgia senators, the majority of almost 4.5 million voters picked Democrats Jon Ossoff (2,269,738 votes, 50.62 percent) and Raphael Warnock (2,288,923 votes, 51.04 percent) over GOP incumbents David A. Perdue (2,214,506 votes, 49.38 percent) and Kelly Loeffler (2,195,373 votes, 48.96 percent). Because both Ossoff and Warnock won by over one percent, there will be no recount. Both Perdue and Loeffler conceded the election and don’t plan to contest it in court. All the counties have certified the votes, and the state must finish the process by January 22, 2021. Georgia now has its first Black and its first Jewish senators. The runoff was forced by no candidate receiving at least 50 percent in the general election, required by a 1963 law, common in Southern states, to block Blacks from winning any contests after the Supreme Court struck down its earlier discriminatory law. 

At the swearing in of the 117th Congress on January 3, the Senate had 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who vote with Democrats. Perdue’s term ended on January 3, but Loeffler stays until she is replaced because she was appointed a year ago. If Georgia certifies the election on January 20, the new senators can be sworn in the next day—unless McConnell decides to balk. With a 50-50 split, VP Kamala Harris will break any ties. Harris resigned her senatorial seat January 18, and appointed former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla replaces her. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will trade places with McConnell after the new senators are sworn in to become the Majority Leader.

The history of a 50-50 Senate split goes back to 2001, when Trent Lott (R-MS) and Tom Daschle (SD) negotiated equal membership on committees, equal budgets for both parties on committees, and the right of either party leader to discharge bills or nominations from deadlocked committees. The two former senators wrote an op-ed about the difficulty of sharing power in a highly-polarized society and giving recommendations for the process. McConnell’s behavior during the past six years has created a huge partisan distrust from the Democrats. This shift in Senate control influences the upcoming impeachment trial after the House approved the charges against DDT of incitement of insurrection connected to the January 6 attempted coup at the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment passed by the House on January 13 to the Senate for its trial. Traditionally, all other business stops with an impeachment trial, but with Biden’s first 100 days plan, that process may be changed. Biden has asked for half days devoted to the trial proceedings with the remainder of the needs addressed in the rest of the time. A trial requires two-thirds of the Senators present for conviction. With everyone in attendance, the number is 67, but Republicans may wish to avoid making a decision about the impeachment and not show up for the trial.

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

August 8, 2020

DDT: Week 185 –Actions Follow Title of ‘Dictator’

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress “the power of the purse,” but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is taking his title of dictator seriously. Congress failed to pass another stimulus bill to help people suffering from DDT’s pandemic in the U.S. which crashed the economy. Unable to strike deals, DDT just issued orders to change tax and spending policies, something over which he has no control.

Unemployment benefits: States, which cannot afford the expenses, will pay 25 percent of the $400 in weekly unemployment aid for millions of people. The federal portion will be transferred from FEMA’s disaster relief money which won’t last more than five weeks and decimate the funding the agency needs for the wildfire/hurricane/flooding season. Experts claim the new program would require months to establish and would not increase benefits. Repurposing repurpose funds for unemployment benefits could violate the Antideficiency Act, a federal budgeting law. The current law providing $600 for unemployment benefits ended on July 31.

Payroll tax payments: DDT’s #1 priority has been to defer these payments for Social Security and Medicare for September through December. The action covers people making less than $100,000. This order will go into effect only if companies comply with DDT’s demand; they are the ones responsible for withdrawing the money from employees’ paychecks. DDT said he will extend the deferral and “terminate” owed taxes if he is reelected with the goal of ending the Social Security and Medicare programs. No one knows the source of the financing for deferred taxes. 

Eviction protections: The order only makes suggestions to federal agencies instead of halting evictions nationally. The executive order only states U.S. policy minimizes evictions and foreclosures; it doesn’t reinstate the federal moratorium expiring last month of fund billions in assistance necessary for people already behind in rent. It calls on HHS and CDC to “consider” the necessity of temporarily halting evictions and the Treasury Department and HUD to “identify” federal funds for temporary assistance to renters and homeowners. The moratorium on evictions ended on July 24.

Student loan relief: This measure tries to extend congressional relief in March through the remainder of the year.

Missing: Funds for safely opening schools; another $1,200 stimulus payments program; the continuation of the Paycheck Protection Program; etc.

DDT declared his mix of memoranda and an executive order were “bills” instead of “measures.” Only Congress can write and vote on bills. The actions authorize only limited relief—for example, $50 billion from FEMA before the White House must go to Congress for money. DDT’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, questioned whether DDT will be able to extend unemployment benefits. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who refused to address the House stimulus bill for almost three months, praised DDT for helping people when Democrats wouldn’t. Democrats promised to meet GOP senators in the middle by taking $1 billion off their bill and asked Republicans to add $1 billion, making the bill $2 billion. Republicans refused their overtures.

Last night, DDT gave a speech to a crowded room, including children, at his Bedminster Golf Resort where only four people wore masks. To defy New Jersey restrictions slowing the COVID-19 spread, DDT called the gathering a “peaceful protest.” He claimed the pandemic “is disappearing. It’s going to disappear.” The next day, he put together more supporters, members who paid a six-figure fund to join his private club, to witness his signing documents providing little help impoverished people in the U.S. This time, he distributed masks. In addition to other lies, he promised an executive order requiring health insurers to cover preexisting conditions for all customers, something he said “has never been done before.” The Affordable Care Act, that he wants to get rid of, already enshrined this requirement in law. DDT’s administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court to invalidate the ACA, including preexisting conditions.

In another disastrous Friday news dump, DDT’s new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continued his work to destroy the post office services before the election, reassigning or displacing 23 USPS executives, including the top two who oversee day-to-day operations. DeJoy’s actions gives him complete power and ignores decades of postal knowledge. He kept 33 staffers or reassigned them plus adding five more staffers to leadership from other roles. The Postal Service will also have a hiring freeze, ask for voluntary early retirements, and scale down from seven to four regions. Democrats are conducting an investigation into DeJoy and his new procedures greatly slowing down the delivery of mail. DeJoy’s failure concern not only the excessive time in mailing ballots but also problems with people receiving prescriptions, pay checks, and other vital mail. While taking far more time to deliver ballots, DeJoy told states they cannot send them bulk rate, raising the cost from $.20 to $.55.

Holdings of DeJoy and wife, Aldona Wos who is the nominee for ambassador to Canada include between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors. DeJoy has not cited any conflicts of interest, but he has donated over $2 million to DDT’s campaign or GOP causes since 2016. Even Florida’s GOP Sen. Marcos Rubio finds the slowing of the mail “outrageous” and asked the inspector general to look into the reason. The USPS is the only agency required to be self-supporting; the military, ICE, FDA, USDA, etc. are not required to make money from the public to support their services. Congress allotted $10 billion to the USPS in its March stimulus bill, but Treasury Secretary held the funding for leverage until recently when he suggested he would “lend” the money to USPS in exchange for revealing its top ten contractors.

Having slowed down the mail delivery, DDT is suing Pennsylvania for using ballot drop boxes, claiming they are unconstitutional. Ninety days before Election Day, he’s working with the RNC to further block voting access in 17 states over half of them key battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, and Nevada.

In two other executive orders with no due process (remember when he said orders were wrong because they showed presidents didn’t know how to work with Congress), DDT prevented China-based TikTok and messaging app WeChat from doing most business in the U.S. The transactions weren’t specific, but it was assumed the companies could not be on Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store in the U.S. as well as blocking U.S. companies from purchasing advertising on TikTok. DDT said a U.S. firm could purchase TikTok within the 45 days if it gives the U.S. a bribe for rights. In the U.S., TikTok has 100 million users with a high popularity among people under 25 years of age.

According to White House officials, DDT’s decision followed a “knock-down, drag-out brawl” between Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and China-hating trade adviser Peter Navarro. Mnuchin wanted a sale while Navarro wanted a total ban. Like DDT’s famous business transactions of yore, shouting debates led to multibillion-dollar decisions reshaping, in this case, technology for the future.

DDT’s Citizenship and Immigration Services has a way to keep people from getting visas: all applications are rejected if every field isn’t filled in, even ones not applying to the applicants. No middle name? The applicant fails without a N/A in that space. No apartment number if the applicant lives in a house. Rejected. No address for deceased parents. Yup, rejected. Same for no siblings named by only children or work history dates for a child. One applicant filled in names for his three siblings but was rejected because the application has fields for four siblings. The agency insists on N/A or None, but coding on the PDF file won’t allow these responses.

DDT continues to illegally expel unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. under Stephen Miller’s COVID-19 health order. Some children as young as one-year-old old are kept at Arizona and Texas hotels until they can be returned. With only a cursory government screening, they have no judicial ruling and no access to social workers, lawyers, or their family. According to a report for April through June, of “3,379 unaccompanied minors at or between ports of entry … just 162 were sent to federal shelters” operated by HHS. CBP didn’t provide information about where the other children are, and the lack of identifying information means they cannot be located after being expelled.

DDT is charging all states 25 percent of the cost for National Guard deployments helping with coronavirus response—except Florida and Texas. No reason except for being red states with lots of Electoral College votes.

Chad Wolf, acting secretary of Homeland Security who outstayed his legal assignment, gave at least $160 million in government contracts to former lobbying clients while he served in DHS.

DDT named Elliott Abrams, a “war criminal” and Iran-Contra convict, as envoy to Iran. In 1991, the supporter of Latin American death squads was convicted of withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal. Abrams will also keep his position as special representative for Venezuela where he’s still trying to overthrow the legally elected president.

August 8: U.S. COVID-19 cases – 5,149,723; deaths – 165,070.

July 19, 2020

Week 182 – Hope for the Future

Throughout the week, I save news giving me hope or just making me laugh. Here are those from the past couple of weeks.

Since the Supreme Court declared almost half Oklahoma’s land is under Native American ruling, one-fourth of oil and gas drillers and 60 percent of refinery capacity operate on reservation land. The Keystone XL pipeline also crosses the Indian country. Regulation for all this moves from oil-friendly Oklahoma to federal and tribal governments. The state’s shale fields were already hard hit with a one-third drop in oil prices this year. The Bureau of Indian Affairs may also have authority over clean-air programs and pipeline grants within the reservation.

Chief Justice John Roberts granted permission for New York DA Cyrus Vance to skip the 25-day waiting period to move forward in issuing a subpoena for DDT’s financial records. Roberts did not grant the same privilege to the House for requests to immediately go forward. In last Thursday’s hearing where DDT’s lawyers gave the same failing arguments and seemed unprepared, a federal judge gave DDT until July 27 to file more challenges to the subpoena. To investigate hush money DDT paid two different women with whom he had affairs, Vance asked for eight years of DDT’s personal and business records from he accounting firm Mazars USA. The firm does not object.

The Supreme Court also ruled against DDT on his DACA program, but he illegally rejects applications and hasn’t even filed for a rehearing with the required 25 days. Also, he consistently changed his mind about moving forward: no executive order, signing a bill to “give [Dreamers] a road to citizenship, no permission for “amnesty” but “want[s] to make people happy.” Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Home Security, refused to remove the website statement that the Supreme Court ruling “has no basis in law.” A federal court has ordered DDT to accept the applications and return the policy to where it was before September 2017.

DDT rescinded his controversial plan to deport all students who are not enrolled in at least one face-to-face class this fall. Lawsuits against DDT had alleged the action violated the Administrative Procedure Act governing rule-making and was a political move to force universities to reopen campuses with classes in person.

After DDT sent his thuggish federal agents to Portland (OR), Oregon’s AG Ellen Rosenblum announced her office will sue federal law enforcement agencies and start a criminal investigation into the agents’ force. She seeks a temporary restraining order stopping them from detaining Portlanders after agents had no probably cause to seize and detain them. Several people destroy DDT’s behavior as “Pinochet-style abducting citizens.” August Pinochet became president of Chile in a junta when he overthrew a democratically-elected leader and became the country’s dictator. Violations of human rights through rape, torture, abduction, murder were common in the 1970s along with Operation Condor, a secret campaign to wipe out the opposition as people were “disappeared.” 

The brutality by federal agents has energized the protest movement and caused protest crowds to grow. On Friday night, a naked woman went up to federal officers line and pointed her finger at them, daring them to shoot. They sprayed pepper balls at the ground inches from her feel. She didn’t move. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the presence of federal agents is “like adding gasoline to a fire.” [Right: federal agents firing pepper spray.] 

Brown also said the deployment of federal officers is “a mere distraction from the president’s failure to lead this nation through a global pandemic. It is a blatant abuse of power by the federal government. They are inappropriately trained [according to DHS]. Their presence is not needed. And frankly they’re exacerbating an already challenging situation. It is absolutely counterproductive to the work we’re trying to do here.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has decided to ban the Confederate flag at military installations by listing flags that can be flown.  With the new policy, the LGBTQ rainbow flag will also be banned. Esper’s memo stated unauthorized flags—like the Confederate flag—are acceptable in museums, historical exhibits, works of art, and other educational programs.

As DDT gives everyone a rosy picture of COVID-19 in the U.S., Senators pass along the opposite image to their constituents—especially vulnerable ones up for re-election such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Forty states see surges in infections, and 67 percent of registered voters distrust and disapprove of DDT’s virus information.

During DDT’s first few months, he used the 1996 Congressional Review Act to erase 14 Obama-era regulations, a law used only once previously. According to that law, any regulation not submitted by the agency within 60 legislative days can be fast-tracked.  Thus far this year, DDT signed at least 33 executive orders and plans far more as Democrats eye them for dissolution:  

  • Destroying environmental law signed by Richard Nixon stopping environmental impact requirements for Infrastructure that he has avoided for over years;
  • Preparing another illegal DACA order with the claim the Supreme Court told him to do it;
  • Banning undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census;
  • Eliminating a fair housing regulation designed to block racial disparities in the suburbs;
  • Weakening an Obama-era controls on climate-warming methane pollution.
  • Restricting the type of scientific research to be used to craft environmental and public health regulations;
  • Forbidding retirement investment managers from considering environmental consequences in their financial recommendations;
  • Making asylum even more difficult for migrants;
  • Erasing civil rights protections for transgender patients seeking health care;
  • Allowing homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters corresponding to their gender identity;
  • Stopping persecution for businesses killing birds “incidentally”;
  • Permitting energy firms to use undersea sonic blasts to search for oil, regardless of the impact on ocean mammals’ health.

As of a year ago, judges have overturned at least 70 executive orders, and the GOP Congress has overturned three more. In three years, Earthjustice filed over 100 lawsuits to defend environmental and health protections. Of the settled 49 lawsuits, Earthjustice won 39. Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Democratic leaders have kept a careful eye on the executive orders for a review. DDT believes he is creating new laws when he signs executive orders, but his orders are only implementations of laws by the Executive branch. Orders cannot overturn U.S. laws, but Congress can overturn DDT’s orders.

Hackers have found almost 300 documents in which police shared detailed reports about the threats in protests from far-right extremists attempting to create chaos and disorder instead of DDT’s myth of the “antifa.” Law enforcement intelligence was politicized, causing danger to both protesters and police, according to the communication, because of sensationalization of antifa threats with no substance, a situation not part of the factual material about the boogaloo documents. The disaster lay with the desire of the intelligence to paint the antifa as threatening as the far right although the latter showed no concrete evidence of serious criminal activity. Details about their communication. The good news would be dissemination of DDT’s government manipulation.

On July 1, several civil rights laws went into effect in Virginia:

  • Removing unnecessary abortion regulations.
  • Preventing driver’s licenses suspension over unpaid court fees.
  • Ending the requirement of principals to report to police misdemeanors committed at school.
  • Limiting to $50 what health insurers can charge for insulin.
  • Extending to aspiring Americans in-state tuition at public colleges and driver privilege cards.
  • Banning discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in employment and housing.
  • Banning the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors.
  • Decriminalizing cannabis possession.

DDT received a sad comeuppance this past week. A week ago, he spent his morning retweeting messages from Chuck Woolery, a conservative former game show host who accused health experts of lying about COVID-19’s seriousness. Woolery wrote:

“Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

Woolery continued by claiming there “much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall.” The next day he sent his last tweet for now:

“Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones.”

Woolery deactivated his Twitter account on Wednesday; his son is apparently doing well.

World COVID-19 cases, 14,646,706; deaths, 608,978. USA cases, 3,898,550; deaths, 143,289.

Ending with a bit of humor.  After DDT repeatedly told the world the U.S. would have fewer cases of COVID-19 without testing, Dan Rather offered some assistance to DDT: “We can apparently solve the issue of undocumented immigrants by just not counting them.” DDT could save $20 billion.

April 28, 2017

DDT: Week Fourteen, More Failures

The quarterly GDP report just came out, and the average 0.7 percent increase is bad news for news for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who bragged that his leadership would move the gross domestic product skyhigh. Instead the GDP for his first quarter is the worst in three years. Why do people vote for Republicans? In a statement of how DDT is struggling, he said, “I thought it would be easier.” This is DDT’s classic statement as he reflects on his first 100 days. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going.” Many other people wish he were back in his previous life too after his string of failures.

Alienation of South Korea: After picking a fight with North Korea, DDT attacked South Korea by threatening to terminate the U.S. trade agreement with South Korea because the five-year-old accord was “a horrible deal” that has left America “destroyed.” To make things worse, he told South Korea that they should pay the $1 billion for the U.S. missile-defense system, Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (Thaad), to be installed in South Korea as protection against a North Korean attack.

Flynn’s Failure: When Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser for 24 days, started the chant of “Lock her up” about candidate Clinton last summer, he said that he’d be in prison if he did one-tenth of the things that she had done. Maybe he will be incarcerated. The investigation into Flynn has already shown that he likely took money from Russia without notification to the U.S. after the Pentagon warned him against doing it and that his work for Turkey has a Russian connection. Meanwhile, DDT is trying to cover for Flynn’s illegal activities by refusing to release any information about him. Now the Pentagon has joined the investigation into Flynn, and DDT’s AG Jess Sessions has recused himself from the whole problem. Maybe if FBI James Comey had been more worried about real treason and not Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The Wall: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is trying to cover for DDT’s backing off from his main promise by saying that it was a priority and not a demand, but DDT tweeted that the drug problem will never be solved without a wall. Yet 56 percent responses to a poll agree that DDT hasn’t accomplished much, and 47 percent of the blame goes to DDT. The GOP gets 25 percent blame and Democrats only seven percent. At the same time, the majority of people—a number that is growing—oppose building the wall, and an increasing number want money put into infrastructure instead. Texans oppose the wall as much as Mexico on the possibility of making Mexico so instable that it becomes another Venezuela as well as flooding and sewage in the Rio Grande River.

Tax Increases: DDT may have hoped that his shiny new tax plan would distract from his other problems, but it’s going downhill fast. Presenter and Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin knows that it gives cuts to the wealthy but can’t guarantee that “no one in the middle class is gonna pay more.” At least DDT will get a big cut with his own plan. A 65-year study by the Congressional Research Office found no correlation between cutting taxes and economic growth.

Latest Executive Order Overturned: Judge William Orrick, of the federal Northern District for California, has blocked DDT’s threat to cut off funds to sanctuary cities if they refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an executive order by Donald Trump which threatened to cut off funds to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration authorities. The injunction retains the right to identify sanctuary cities and withhold certain grants but cannot alter the way federal funds are spent because that power lies within the congressional, not the presidential, branch of government. The Justice Department said that the order applies only to the failure in sharing citizenship information as required by law and three federal grants that require compliance as a pre-condition. Orrick said that this defense is worthless because law already permits it, leaving no purpose for the executive order. He also said that DDT’s rhetoric and surrogate statements, including those from the AG, contradicted the interpretation that the Justice Department tried to place on it. Orrick said:

“The President has called it ‘a weapon’ to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his preferred policies of immigration enforcement, and his press secretary has reiterated that the President intends to ensure that ‘counties and other institutions that remain sanctuary cites don’t get federal government funding in compliance with the executive order.'”

Press Secretary Sean Spicer had said that the administration stood behind its threats to eliminate law enforcement funding to those cities. The federal government is now trying to decide on a definition of “sanctuary” jurisdictions.

Massive Donor Errors for Inauguration: Inauguration Donor Fraud?: Follow the rubles. A crowdsourced data project at HuffPost found massive mistakes in DDT’s final campaign report with the was filled with mistakes—missing addresses, vacant lots used for addresses, anonymous or fake names, etc.—showing that even basic checks on accuracy were made.

Failure of Conservative Press Control: Unhappy with the sometimes factual reporting in the mainstream press, DDT has been wooing the far-right outlets and frequently failing. After they didn’t support his healthcare plan, he called them to the White House last Monday to tell them—gently, for him—to shape up. It wasn’t a success: they’re still complaining about the lack of attention that DDT has given them despite his favoritism. They’re also upset that they were told to leave their phones outside the room and not to report on what was said until 30 minutes into the meeting. The result was bad press from conservatives about DDT’s communications team. 

Empty Rooms: Cite Priebus: The Senate has confirmed 26 of DDT’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts, but he’s nominated only 37 people for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation.

Disappearance of Zombie Healthcare Bill—Again: Once again, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t get the votes for the revised healthcare bill. The ultra-conservatives loved it because it takes insurance from more people, but the more centrist GOP members balked. One embarrassment for the GOP is that the failed bill exempted members of Congress and their staff: they can keep all their benefits. Once this fact came to light, GOP representatives talked about changing their minds about piece of the bill.

No Budget: The House passed a one-week extension on passing the budget to keep the government functioning for another seven days. The reason may be to prevent a shutdown on DDT’s 100th day tomorrow. The GOP House follows the pattern of teenagers who do no school work and then ask for an extension. And the action saves DDT the embarrassment of a government shutdown on his 100th day.

The United States has become so racist—including some law enforcement officials—that Sanya Gragg has published a book on the “talk” with black children: what they should do to stay ALIVE. Momma, Did You Hear The News?, a picture book for small children, gives this directions if they are confronted by the police, even if they’re just innocently walking down the street.

  • A – Always use your manners
  • L – Listen and comply
  • I – In control of your emotions
  • V – Visible hands always
  • E – Explain everything

Something else that white children don’t have to face.

Much more about DDT’s last week, but tomorrow is his 100th day—and lots more for another post.

Meanwhile, cheers for recently retired GOP Judge GOP Judge Doug McCullough, who resigned from the North Carolina Appeals Court a month before his date of mandatory retirement to allow the Democrat governor to replace him. McCullough is disgusted with the legislature’s blatant attempt to strip the new governor of any appointment abilities, going so far as to pass a bill to reduce the court from 15 to 12 so that newly elected Roy Cooper cannot fill any vacancies. An attempt to override Cooper’s veto leaves the governor with a small window of opportunity. Cooper’s new appointment, Judge John Arrowood, is the first openly gay member of the North Carolina court of appeals. McCullough is a man with ethics.

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