Nel's New Day

October 25, 2022

Week’s News – October 25, 2022

Liz Truss is out as British prime minister, and Rishi Sunak is in. Fewer than 200 votes conservative MPs made him leader of 67 million people. Gone on the first day is 40 percent of Truss’ 30-person cabinet. The longevity of the anti-immigration, anti-low-income class positions from the wealthy immigrant raises the question of which fruit or vegetable will appear next to his photograph. Sunak was largely responsible for ousting former PM Boris Johnson but had to wait almost two months until Truss came, served, and left before he could take over. The deal was cemented when Sunak met with King Charles III. Almost exactly 75 years after India gained independence from British rule, a British-Indian now rules the United Kingdom.

Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis might have been better off if he had refused to debate his Democratic opponent, former Florida GOP Gov. Charlie Crist. After DeSantis refused to answer Crist’s question about whether he would serve the entire four-year term, the wannabe 2024 presidential candidate lost the October 24 debate, 63 percent to 37 percent from 65,000 respondents, to Crist, according to the informal online poll by local NBC affiliate WFLA. Crist also slammed the misuse of taxpayer funds in DeSantis’ “horrible political stunt” of flying 50 Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

During the debate, DeSantis struggled with defending his policies after Crist called him “the most anti-business governor I’ve ever seen.” Crist pointed out the governor’s attacks on the cruise industry for requiring vaccines, on Disney for expressing its point of view about the “don’t say gay” bill, and on the DeSantis order to not invest funds in “woke” corporations which blocked pension fund managers from using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings when determining investments.

In the land of book banning, anti-LGBTQ parents recruited by Gov. Ron DeSantis are training Florida school librarians in what books to censor. Bipartisan school boards submissions are rejected despite the applicants’ qualifications in favor of members from Moms for Liberty (M4L). Michelle Beavers wants statewide bans on titles, calling them a “felony.” M4L has offered bounties for people turning in teachers who discuss “divisive topics,” attacked the Trevor Project for trying to prevent LGBTQ suicide, tried to ban a book about seahorses for being too sexy, and said that two girls briefly kissing at a school function is “lewd” and “traumatic.” Another “trainer,” Jennifer Pippin, was nominated by the founder of Florida Citizens Alliance that provides lists of “objectionable” school texts accusing them of promoting Islam, socialism, sex, LGBTQ identity, evolutionary science, climate change, and gun control.

The Kanye West scandal has eaten up so much of the media that I’ll join the fray. The white supremacist, anti-Semite Black rapper has gone over the edge so far that Adidas, which “Ye” claimed would never drop him, dropped him. Along with talent agency CAA, record label Def Jam, CAA, Balenciago, and who knows how many more companies. Adidas provides a large share of West’s wealth. Products related to West are removed from stores because, as Gap state, “antisemitism, racism and hate in any form are inexcusable and not tolerated in accordance with our values.” Adidas agreed:

“Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”

Jeremy Zimmer, CEO and co-founder of talent agency UTA, asked staff to “please support the boycott of Kanye West,” and the Endeavor talent agency’s CEO Ari Emanuel said companies that make money from West like Spotify and Apple should drop him. Twitter and Instagram restricted him for his posts, and bank JPMorgan Chase earlier severed ties. George Floyd’s family said they intent to sue West for $250 million for his podcast lie that Floyd was killed by fentanyl.

The evidence-free battle about furries continues! A North Carolina school board is more worried about children wearing furry costumes to school than the shortage of teachers and considered a proposal to ban any furry clothing including gloves and collars. The superintendent of Iredell-Statesville Schools said he spends hours responding to emails and social media about the false  rumor of kitty litter boxes and furry outfits, but a school board member ignored him. The entire rumor started from GOP politicians who oppose trans students, and at least one of the rumor-mongers, a losing candidate for Nebraska governor, had to admit his claims were false. “Christian” hate pastors are spreading the same lies.

Social Security Inspector General Gail Ennis, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), continues to persecute whistleblowers although DDT has left the White House. In 2019, senior Social Security officials Joscelyn Funnié and Deborah Shaw, who exposed hundreds of thousands of dollars against 100 disabled and poor elderly people without due process or federal regulations, were put on paid leave. Eventually reinstated, they were shunned in assignments, shut out of meetings, and denied any chance of advancement.

Funnié was fired 11 months later, only returning to work as a “special adviser,” in late 2021 after an investigation was opened. During the first six weeks after her return, her only assignment was to read two books on resilience and spirituality. She was then assigned a job requiring auditing and another designing a logo, both skills she lacks, and her supervisor requires his permission before she speaks with colleague. She wrote that Ennis and her staff “pretend I don’t exist.”

In early 2020, Shaw returned to work but was demoted without staff and faced the 45-day unpaid suspension that Ennis mandated. A judge ruled that she is the victim of “whistleblower reprisal” by Ennis’s office with “motive to retaliate” against her. He ordered Shaw receive back pay, return to her supervisory role, and remove potential for a suspension. Ennis’ appeal put the ruling on hold except for the return of her former rank. Ennis’ counsel, coordinator of the Social Security’s whistleblower protection program who retaliated against Shaw, is her supervisory, controlling all her work actions. Shaw is prevented from her former responsibilities in anti-fraud, reprimanded for helping colleagues asking for advice on a fraud case, and assigned to write a legal opinion on the soundness of starting a book club to improve morale on Ennis’s staff. Ennis’s office is last in 432 federal departments in the most recent survey of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government.

A California county judge has ruled that another bakery may discriminate against same-gender couples in refusing to make a wedding cake because of her “beliefs about that the Bible teaches marriage.” The baker wants the community to “grow together.” The Bible doesn’t mention same-sex marriage, and Jesus never mentioned homosexuality. The seven verses in the Bible typically used to condemn homosexuality refer to male ritual sex, rape, and molestation. The good book does approve of polygamy, husbands taking concubines, and treatment of women as property to be traded or sold.

A second DDT-appointed judge has upheld Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law in schools for the second time, despite proof of largely increased bullying since the law went into effect. She declared that bullying is “a fact of life,” opposing the precedent of school’s’ constitutional obligation to “protect students from targeted bullying and harassment based on who they are.”

California-based Fox network is in worse shape for the $4.3 billion defamation lawsuits from Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic about Fox “reporters” lying about their equipment helping to elect Joe Biden as president. The falsehood has been completely discredited, and bigger problems came from the discovery that Viet Dinh became Fox’s top legal officer in September 2018 but wasn’t licensed to practice law in California until June 2022 despite efforts to clear up the problem.   

Dinh claimed California’s state bar lost his application and COVID delayed his application, but the bar rejected these claims. He was paid $12 million last year, partly to operate the business. Plaintiffs could ask for some of Dinh’s communications not related to his legal responsibilities. The case is not going well: motions failed to dismiss both cases and the replacement of Fox’s outside team. Fox’s retention of internal emails has dropped to 13 months as of July 1, 2022, another reflection of the company’s legal worries. One discovery was an email from Fox News president Suzanne Scott indicating she knew the network aired airing false claims, leaving her taking the blame if necessary. Thus far, Fox maintains it only repeats allegations from others.

In an Australian court, court CEO Lachlan Murdoch is the plaintiff in a libel case against a local publication, Crikey, publishing a column concluding that “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” Last week, a judge ruled that Murdoch must explain his person view of who won the 2020 election and Fox clips could be played in court—against the wishes of Murdoch’s lawyers.

Republicans are still trying to define a woman. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), facing a difficult re-election, said women are “the lesser vessel,” needing “masculinity in our lives to balance that … weakness.” Herschel Walker, GOP candidate for Georgia’s U.S. senator, has another definition:

“If you can’t have, you can’t produce, uhhhh, a child, you’re a man.”

In the U.S. approximately 18 percent of females between the ages of ten and 49 can “produce, uhhh, a child.” That leaves the remaining 82 percent of the population men. At least according to Walker.

October 23, 2022

News – Week Ending October 23, 2022

Update on possibility of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) testifying live to House January 6 investigate committee: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this won’t happen; DDT won’t be allowed to turn his testimony into a “circus” or a “food fight.” About House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement he may take military aid from Ukraine, Cheney accused him of becoming “the leader of the pro-Putin wing of my party” and added that McCarthy “always chooses to serve his own political purpose.” After McCarthy’s mentor DDT put the U.S. a further $8 trillion into debt, McCarthy said he must “eliminate wasteful spending.”

By now, the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister after 44 days, the shortest term for any British PM, is old news. The head of lettuce won, lasting longer than she did when the contest began a week earlier. The event ended in a fanfare of colored lights and messages of congratulations for the crowned lettuce as Truss’ photo was laid down to the sound of “God Save the King.” Celebratory alcohol was provided by the lettuce joined by fruit and vegetable friends. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for 11 days, 33 days fewer than Truss, praised her after she “outlasted the milk in the refrigerator.”  

Truss’ resignation leaves her with the possibility of $129,000 for any business expenses and another almost $100,000 pension, available to any PM lasting over 42 days, and depending on how well the British pound does after her departure. She can add that to her net worth of almost $10 million. Traumatized by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ 44 days in office, the British public now must cope with who will assume leadership.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin described Truss’ failure in six weeks and concluded:

“If you like what Brexit and Truss have done for the British economy, vote Republican. If you prefer prosperity, then don’t.

Her warning is reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s question in 2000 before George W. Bush lowered taxes and started two wars:

“What are you afraid of? Four more years of prosperity?”

Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss, has again thrown his hat into the ring despite tax scandals for both himself and his wife, Akshata Murty. Together they are worth £730 million, over twice the assets of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Runak and Murty keep their money, he with a U.S. green card until last year promising to become a citizen and paying less taxes and she with her non dom classification, permitting her to pay an annual maximum of £30,000 a year instead of taxes on foreign income. She has saved millions of pounds on taxes for her dividends in her father’s firm, India-based Infosys, which did business with Russia after British sanctions because of the invasion of Ukraine.  

Upsetting senior Tories, former PM Boris Johnson flew back to Britain to drum up support for another win. Without sufficient support, Johnson changed his mind and said that he couldn’t govern with a unified party. In a BBC poll of 357 conservative MPs, only 227 were willing to go public with their support, Johnson came out far below Sunak. The runner-up ran against Truss last time.

  • Rishi Sunak – 146 MPs
  • Boris Johnson – 57 MPs
  • Penny Mordaunt – 24 MPs

Only Mordaunt and Sunak have announced they are running. A candidate requires at least 100 votes from MPs. If over two receive 100 or more votes, the one with the fewest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Conservative MPs then vote their preference between the two, and the candidates are then sent to the conservative party members who vote online. Last time, Truss was selected with 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) in a country with a population of over 67 million.

Fed up with gun violence in Canada, much less than in the U.S., Canada is banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of all handguns within the country and cannot bring them from outside the country. The bill was introduced after 19 children were killed in Uvalde (TX) on May 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship.”

A government buyback for assault-style rifles is planned, and further restrictions in Bill C-21 are being debated in the House of Commons.

Those who worry about President Joe Biden running again in 2024 at the age of 81 should consider that the GOP may elect a 90-year-old man to be third in succession for the president in 2022. He could hold that position for the next six years. Chuck Grassley could become President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, the position held by the most senior senator in the majority party. The current pro tem, 82-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is not seeking re-election. Resurgence against Grassley

Alaskan Republicans tried to do away with ranked choice voting in the state after Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for U.S. House. The state Supreme Court rejected their constitutional challenge.

A Miami judge dismissed one rigged arrest by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of a man convicted in 1991 who voted in 2020 after a clerk told him he was eligible to register to vote. The other 18 voter prosecutions may meet the same fate. Videos of the arrests show police officers not understanding the offense. A state constitutional amendment restores voting rights to most people with felonies, but Republicans said that they were ineligible until they paid all fines and fees.

Texas state police Capt. Joel Betancourt is under investigation because he ordered his officers to stay out of the school over 70 minutes while 19 children were massacred on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde (TX). State trooper Sgt. Juan Maldonado, the highest ranking officer at the scene at the Uvalde (TX) massacre of 19 children, was fired because he didn’t go into the building although arriving four minutes after the shooting began. He is the third law enforcement and first state police officer to be sacked for lack of response.

The postal service plans to implement “extraordinary measures” delivering ballots for 2022, compared to those measures opposing them two years. These new measures include extra deliveries and collections, special pickups, expanded hours at processing facilities, and fast-tracking ballots to election officials through and bypassing some standard mail processing procedures. Employees are also being trained to speed ballot deliveries. A joint task force between postal unions and management oversees ballot delivery. In a lawsuit settlement last year, the agency agreed to keep these measures for federal elections until at least 2028.

GOP Georgians have challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year regarding voting eligibility, but they can no longer do this with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their votes. About 97 percent of the challenges have been dismissed.  

A North Carolina judge has denied a GOP request to temporarily use signature-matching requirements for mail-in ballots; election officials must could these ballots even if the signature doesn’t exactly match the one on the voter registration record. County election boards will have the discretion to make the determination.

Federal officials will recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid and stop deporting those pardoned for crimes by a state board. The decision reverses a hard-line stance from DDT’s administration that changed six decades of practice by singling out Connecticut. DDT didn’t reverse the same practice in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah.

Same-gender spouses can qualify for a higher rate of survivor benefits requiring eight years of marriage even if they didn’t meet the mandate because of being unable to be married before the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, according to the VA. The agency now begins the duration of the rights beginning with when the couple established a “marriage-type” relationships including commitment ceremonies, joint banking accounts, or joint purchase of a home. Benefits are now retroactive to October 11, 2022.  

Last week, that Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy Twitter that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers. https://www.reuters.com/technology/twitters-workforce-likely-be-hit-with-massive-cuts-coming-months-report-2022-10-20/      Twitter said it isn’t true, but the current management planned to trim the payroll by $800 million, one-fourth of the workforce.

The EPA plans to investigate allegations of racist federal spending in Mississippi causing the Jackson city’s water system disaster. The state is suffering from another scandal, this one when former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money intended for low-income families. GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has joked about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson, 82 percent Black, while the water crisis in Jackson was dire. Leaders of two congressional committees are also starting a joint investigation into the crisis leaving most homes and businesses in Jackson without running water for several days in late August and early September.  NAACP President Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson with his family,

 Michigan opponents to an anti-abortion ballot proposal, Proposal 3, have found a new way to force child-birth on women by keeping a 1931 law: they falsely claim the measure to retain “reproductive rights” permits transgender minors can get sterilized by repealing parental consent laws.

October 17, 2022

Week’s News – October 9-16, 2022

Breaking news since yesterday’s post on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: 

  • Russia hit a key energy facility near Kyiv, seriously damaging it and seizing the property. 
  • President Vladimir Putin said that of his 29 targets for this weekend, seven weren’t damaged but would be taken out gradually.
  • Police and military officers are grabbing men off Moscow streets, even those disabled, as well as in apartment building lobbies, and throughout places of business including cafes and restaurants. Not fitting Putin’s announced criteria Putin, they will be forced into the Russian army.
  • Iran publicly denies contributing weapons to Russia but has secretly agreed to send more weapons shipments, including more “kamikaze” drones and surface-to-surface missiles, for Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Iran has one of the largest and most diverse arsenals of short- and medium-range missiles in the Middle East although they tend to have reliability problems. Among other attacks today, Russia used these drones on Kyiv.
  • A religious argument may have been why two men from Tajikistan killed 11 other volunteers at a Russian military training. Tajikistan, home to the killers, is Islam; Russian is largely Christian.

After Florida areas were hard hit by Hurricane Ian, Gov. Ron DeSantis eased his own voting restrictions such as extending time for voter registration and early voting days, adding drop boxes for ballots, and allowing voters to submit mail-in ballots from addresses not in voting records—but only in Republican areas. He gave no help to regions with a majority of Democratic voters and claimed he’s using advice from supervisors of elections and written requests from the GOP counties.

Bexar County (TX) Sheriff Javier Salazar certified that the 49 migrants who Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard with Florida money provided by the federal government are victims of a crime. As such, they can get a special visa allowing them to stay in the U.S. otherwise not available to them.

According to a federal judge, DDT-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy harmed mail delivery with his changes in 2020 and placed orders to stop him from doing it again. A lawsuit charged DeJoy with higher rates of mail not being delivered on time impacting states’ abilities to stop the spread of COVID and a reliable alternative to in-person voting. DeJoy’s demands removed postal boxes, cut back on the number of mail sorting machines, and hindered the extra postal trips that would have cost overtime as DDT objected to mail-in ballots. These changes were made without consulting the overseeing regulator agency.

The ruling came out the day before backlash to Deloy’s hiking postcard and stamp prices as part of his proposed 10-year plan to change mail operations. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has not approved the price increases. People ask why the postal service is the only government agency that needs to make a profit, DeJoy’s voiced reason for slashing jobs, closing postal facilities, and raising prices.

Elon Musk thought he could escape problems by offering to go through with his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, but federal authorities are investigating his conduct in the takeover. Attorneys for Musk revealed a “privilege log” of withheld documents, and an October 6 court filing requests an order to share the materials. The FTC is monitoring whether Musk failed to comply with the antitrust reporting requirement related to investor’s intentions of a passive or active shareholder. A trial will be scheduled in November if the deal doesn’t meet the October 28 deadline.

Tesla’s stock prices have badly suffered from Musk’s erratic behavior since he decided to control Twitter. Its latest price drop brought the current value to $204.99 last Friday, almost exactly half the value almost a year ago on November 4–$409.97–$640 billion vanished. Columnist Wolf Richter reports that Tesla shares are “still ridiculously overvalued… Tesla is not a car company, it’s a religion.”

In Alex Jones’ latest civil trial, a Connecticut jury ordered him to pay almost $1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to 15 plaintiffs, relatives of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting victims. A request had been only $550 million. The judge already ruled that Jones was guilty of defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Jurors will determine how much money he owed each of the plaintiffs.

After the verdict, Jones cheered and begged for donations on his program. He told his audience, “They want to scare us away from questioning Uvalde or Parkland. We’re not going away. We’re not going to stop.”

Major U.S. health insurance companies have made up to $25 billion in profits by fraudulently billing the federal government for nonexistent healthcare changes through the 64 million people using a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, almost half the people eligible for Medicare. Companies—including UnitedHealth, Humana, CVS Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Cigna—falsely report patient ailments, and most of them have been accused of fraud in court. Of the top ten companies, only Centene has not been accused of any fraud. Three companies were accused of paying doctors or nurses more for recording additional diagnoses.

Journalist Natalie Shure explained the scam:

“Privatized Medicare plans cherry-pick healthier enrollees, fudge medical records to make them look as sick as possible, coax doctors into tacking on extra sham diagnoses to bill for, and pay themselves a profit on top of it.”

Shure added that the companies also refuse to provide additional treatment for these allegedly sick patients subscribing to MA. Almost 80 percent of U.S. House members, many of them taking donations from insurance companies, signed onto a letter “to protect the [MA] program from policies that would undermine” its stability. Critics have stated that the MA program is designed to completely privatize Medicare, allowing private insurance companies to extend the fraud for additional billions of dollars. The MA program costs more money per patient than those enrolled in Medicare.

GOP governors tried to look virtuous for their conservative constituents by not pardoning people for simple possession of cannabis, but they made big bucks after the private prison industry ponied up big campaign donations. Major recipients are Greg Abbott (TX), Bill Lee (TN), and Asa Hutchinson (AR). Private prison corporations even report that their profits need harsh drug laws. Florida Republicans also get a large share of private prison industry donations. Thus far, however, Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) praised Biden for his pardoning people federal convicted of simple Cannabis possession.

Conservatives are so delighted about the revelation that the president of moderate Brookings Institution secretly lobbied for Qatar’s government that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to join Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in proposing a bill requiring think tanks to disclose donors paying for lobbying. The measure likely won’t pass become right-wing think tanks would block it because they would suffer more than others. Center-left groups such as Brookings already share much of its donation sources, but the Heritage Foundation, for example, claims under two percent of its income is from corporations. The Cato Institute is far more libertarian than Heritage, and the Claremont Institute has a strong MAGA bent.

The proposed law would not have affected John Allen at Brookings because his lobbying for Qatar was finished before he took over Brookings and would be covered by the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Grassley said, “Congress, the executive branch, and the American people deserve to know who’s influencing research and public policy in our country.” He may have to change his mind if conservatives attack the bill. At the age of 89, Grassley is only three points ahead of his opponent, the tightest election he has faced since he started running for office in 1958, 64 years ago.

About 200 same-gender Chinese couples have been married in Utah, thanks to a legal loophole from a combination of two state laws. The state doesn’t have residency or citizenship requirements for marriage licenses, and Utah County permits international marriages online. China does not recognize the marriages, but the couples have an essence of a legal union.

Ben Sasse wants to move from the Senate to heading up the University of Florida because he doesn’t like conflict. Students and faculty, however, are already protesting his arrival because of his LGBTQ discrimination and urging the school’s board of trustees to reject him. He tried to claim that marriage equality is the “law of the land,” reminiscent of the lies that Supreme Court justices used to get confirmed. Sasse’s employment will be formally considered on November 1.  

How crazy are DDT’s supporters? Denis Molla burned down his own camper two years ago so that he could blame the antifa. Now the 30-year-old Minnesota man is sorry because he faces up to four years in prison. He pled guilty to wire fraud after trying to cheat an insurance agency and GoFundMe donors of over $300,000. His lawyer said Molla is “a wonderful husband and father.” (Right: Image of Molla’s handiwork; check for Molla’s anti-left graffiti on his garage door.)  

After Kingsview Asset Management CIO Scott Martin claimed on the Fox Business Neil Cavuto show that he spent $28 for a Taco Bell lunch, his host was stunned—and so were the humorous Twitter responses. Kingsview might want to reconsider keeping Martin as the “chief information officer.”

October 9, 2022

News – October 9, 2022 (Some Hopeful)

Twenty miles from Fort Myers (FL) where multitudes of homes were destroyed, a 4,600-resident model community at Babcock Ranch, a 100-percent solar-powered built-to-code storm-resilient town, suffered only ripped pool coverage, broken fence posts, downed trees, and a few missing shingles. It didn’t even lose power. Structures are on land 25 feet higher on average than surrounding communities, and buildings are specified for Category 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off from the water system and wastewater plant deep into an underground aquifer. The 700,000 solar panels owned by Florida Power & Light covering 900 acres suffered little damage. Population of the town is expected to grow to 50,000 with six million square feet of commercial space. Houses can be expensive, but some of them start about $300,000. Sadly, Florida will probably rebuild on the beaches with no regulations, and people will again be destroyed in another hurricane.

President Joe Biden’s administration has reunited 500 children separated by the zero tolerance border policy instated by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The number is almost half the goal of over 1,100 separated children returned to their parents. About 200 families are being processed, and another 150 contacted by the government haven’t responded. Reunited families may temporarily stay in the U.S., and parents separated from their children have work permits for three years. The program also provides mental health service through non-profits. Some children have not seen their parents for four years. The cases meet the definition of torture, according to a study, because “U.S. officials intentionally carried out actions causing severe pain and suffering in order to punish and intimidate mainly Central American asylum seekers to not pursue their asylum claims.”

Headlines have lambasted President Joe Biden’s job losses the past month from 315,000 to 263,000 jobs, “the slowest month of hiring in 18 months” (Fox), after his administration created 10 million jobs in the past 20 months. Yet increasing employment edged down to unemployment of 3.5 percent, and real economists are delighted with the overall picture, predicting no recession.

Compare Biden’s record to that of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who promised 25 million new jobs in a decade but ended up with 3.1 fewer million jobs when he left office than when he came into office. People might blame the COVID problems, but he increased jobs by only 6.6 million in his first three years and then badly mismanaged COVID in his last year. DDT left office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in 1932. President Bill Clinton created 22.745 million jobs during his two terms followed by George W. Bush with 0.523 million new jobs in two terms.

In the 18 months since Biden’s rescue act, over 8 million people jobless in March 2021 now have jobs. Last year’s economy had its fastest growth since 1984, ending 2021 with a three-percent higher GDP than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, a hot economy also kicked off a higher inflation rate exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, higher prices for huge big business profits, and now the OPEC’s cut in oil production. People had money, and their purchases drove up prices. The Federal Reserve started to drive down prices by raising interest rates which angered people who want both low prices and low interest rates.

In one way to lower costs for people, Biden is tackling “junk fees,” the hidden costs from overdrafts on a bank account to terminating cellphone contracts early, usually impacting low-income people the most. The project goes through agencies controlling areas in which these fees predominate—banks, credit unions, debt collection, transportation, etc. For example, payments for credit card late fees fun $12 billion. Eliminating some of these fees may help problems with inflation. Some banks such as Capital One and Citibank have already done away with non-sufficient funds and overdraft fees. Wells Fargo dropped NSF fees but kept the overdraw ones after making $1 billion from January through September 2021.

Two states have delayed anti-abortion laws until litigation moves through the courts. One of the blocked laws is the 1864 anti-abortion legislation passed in Arizona passed during the Civil War, 48 years before Arizona became a state. In Ohio, a county judge blocked the state’s “heartbeat law,” eliminating any abortions after the law pretends an ultrasound noise at six weeks is an embryo’s heartbeat.

A dozen hypocritical Florida members of Congress joined both Florida senators and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to beg Republican Kay Granger (TX) for aid after Hurricane Ian despite their “no” votes on providing the assistance. At least one of them still stands by his “no” vote and praised his colleagues in the Florida delegation for the same action. Their objection is that other states could receive disaster assistance.

Republicans have continued their fury with the Democratic opposition to “trickle-down” economics, the theory that cutting taxes for the wealthy would allow them to hire more workers, a philosophy that failed for much of the 20th century and most recently failed in the 2017 GOP tax cuts for big business and the rich that financially benefited only these categories. Unfortunately, the good news of over 10 million jobs created since Biden’s inauguration and the increased buying power from congressional economic stimulus bills led to inflation and lower stock markets because business wasn’t prepared to provide goods and it raised prices for greater business profit.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have committed fraud by using federal COVID-19 relief funds for transporting migrants out of the state to northeastern U.S. as part of his anti-immigrant Operation Lone Star. In the 2021 regular session, Abbott persuaded the GOP legislature to approve $1.1 billion for border guards and their supplies but wanted more money. He called a special session to get for another $1.9 billion for another 1,800 guards/troopers and a border wall, Operation Steel Curtain. When Abbott reallocated funds from a number of agencies, he said nothing about using COVID funds and told them that “the agencies’ earlier appropriations have been fully funded with other sources.”

GOP legislators loudly shouted the word “socialism” for the new infrastructure law while grabbing the money and behind the scenes begging for funding before telling their constituents how they, who voted against the laws, are benefiting them. In one of dozens of requests, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) attacked what he called “President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list” and wrote Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about his support for the multimillion dollar grant to improve part of Highway 65 in his district. Emmer called it “a social justice measure.” Perhaps the most hypocritical and crazy congressional member, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) bitterly complained about the bill serving “the America Last’s socialist agenda” before writing three separate letters imploring for funding that would enhance quality of life with the projects he wants. Other congressional members—Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Reps. Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez (R-FL) Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA), Rep. Marwayne Mullin (R-OK)—took the same approaches to smear the bill and pleading for money.

Republicans almost always take the opposite position of President Joe Biden in anything he does, but in the case of the president’s pardons for federal convictions of cannabis possession, they’ve gone off the radar. From the RNC and the congressional and senate committees, only silence. From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), nothing. Just a couple of weak tweets about “soft on crime” from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), wannabe presidential candidate, and Fox network’s Laura Ingraham.

Last week for Tesla was the worst week since March 2020 when COVID was announced. Electric vehicle production and delivery numbers didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, over 21,000 short despite two new factories in Brandenburg (Germany) and Austin (TX). That was before Elon Musk posted his controversial solution to the Russian invasion that Ukraine should give them part of the Country that Russian president Vladimir Putin wants. Musk also said he was continuing his deal to buy Twitter but would charge cryptocurrency for posts.

Then Musk took China’s side against Taiwan for “peace reunification” in which China controls Taiwan—sort of like Musk recommended for Russia’s control of Taiwan. The response was the same as from Ukraine: Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim answered, “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.” Tesla has a large factory in China.

And an oldie but goodie from August. In McAllen (TX), an anti-LGBTQ church put on an unauthorized performance of the popular musical Hamilton that changed language to make it homophobic with its version of Christianity. One of the pastors lied about how “the Hamilton team” gave the church “the license to perform” their version, but Hamilton’s creators called them out on the falsehood. The pastor then admitted the church didn’t request or receive this permission and promised to destroy all images of the production, never stage it again, and pay damages. The pastor had depicted Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, as accepting Jesus Christ as his savior, and gave a sermon comparing homosexuality to drug use. Hamilton’s letters indicated his romantic feelings for his closest male friend, and the play’s creator Lin Miranda helped launch an initiative to support Florida’s Hispanic LGBTQ community. The money for damages goes to the South Texas Equality Project, a coalition of LGBTQIA+ organizations.

September 29, 2022

Pot-pourri – DDT, Uvalde, Etc.

Senate passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) to prevent a government shutdown by 72-25 with only one day remaining before the deadline. The CR succeeded after Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) bill for a pipeline approval was pulled from the measure. Big-oil Republicans opposed it because they are angry with Manchin for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act, and progressive Democrats didn’t want to put fossil fuels over renewable energy. The law would keep the government open for 2.5 months until December 16 before Congress needs to pass a budget. The bill provides $12.4 billion for Ukrainian aid but nothing for COVID or monkeypox assistance. If the House, where GOP leadership is pushing the measure, accepts the bill, congressional members can go home and campaign for their reelections in November.

Nine years ago, the newly-elected congressional member from Florida, Ron DeSantis, voted against a $9.7 billion aid bill for New York and New Jersey because of the disastrous storm, Sandy. He said, “The credit card mentality … puts us almost $17 trillion in debt.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) agreed, claiming that money shouldn’t go to blue states. DeSantis formed the Freedom Caucus to block budget deals, but in October 2017, nearing his gubernatorial campaign, he flip-flopped, voting in favor of a $36.5 billion relief package for Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico.  

This week, DeSantis begged President Joe Biden for funds after Hurricane Ian hit, full federal reimbursement up front for 60 days, and told Tucker Carlson on the Fox network:  

“You know, when people are fighting for their lives, when their whole livelihood is at stake, when they’ve lost everything—if you can’t put politics aside for that, then you’re just not going to be able to.” 

DeSantis lied about the 2013 bill having non-emergency funds and blamed New York for failing to insure buildings. His request for billions of dollars began “Dear Mr. President.” The governor’s spokesman said, “We have no time for politics or pettiness,” unlike earlier when DeSantis flew 48 Texas asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard with no warning. DeSantis is “thankful”—for now—adding, “We all need to work together, regardless of party lines.” Biden’s approval of disaster declaration covers temporary housing, home repairs, and low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.

Floridians are suffering from flood/storm surge insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program, covering almost 1.8 million home and business owners in flood zones is over $20 million debt to the federal treasury, and DeSantis voted against bailouts after Sandy. He also opposed keeping insurance at affordable rates for most homeowners. Homeowner policies typically don’t cover flood damage, primarily insuring for wind damage.

Hurricane Ian may cause more insurance companies to declare insolvency. Since January 2020, at least a dozen insurance companies in the state have gone out of business, six of them in 2022. Almost 30 others are listed on the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s “Watch List” because of financial instability. Other large insurers such as Allstate and State Farm pulled much of their business out of Florida. The state already has the highest insurance premiums in the U.S.

State Rep. Spencer Roach, DDT supporter and author of DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay” bill in the schools, may need Biden’s help. Roach lost his house in Fort Myers.

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) pet judge Aileen Cannon still puts him above the law, negating orders from her appointed “special master” Raymond Dearie who DDT demanded. Dearie told DDT’s lawyers to identify whether documents were planted or declassified, as DDT claimed. Cannon told DDT’s lawyers that they didn’t need to comply with Dearie’s orders which included lawyers state in a court filing whether they believed FBI agents lied about documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. Part of DDT’s strategy is to claim that the FBI had brought documents with them to the search and left them to make him look guilty.

Cannon also supported DDT in his stalling strategy by extending the special master review deadline to December 16, later than her original deadline of approximately Thanksgiving. Both dates are after the Midterm election. Dearie had said he would be finished by October 21. In another contradiction of the special master, Cannon blocked his authority to issue interim reports. Dearie firmly responded to her flip-flopping:

“In the original Appointing Order, the Court directed that ‘the Special Master shall submit interim reports and recommendations as appropriate. Upon receipt and resolution of any interim reports and recommendations, the Court will consider prompt adjustments to the Court’s orders as necessary.’ However, the Court later struck that language as part of its order implementing an unrelated ruling by the Eleventh Circuit. As the language quoted above as to interim reports and adjustments to prior orders is consistent with the Eleventh Circuit’s ruling and the efficient administration of the Appointing Order as amended, the undersigned respectfully recommends that the Court issue an order reinstating that language.”

Dearie made this statement after a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court, two of them appointed by DDT, reversed Cannon’s order blocking the DOJ from access to documents that were marked classified while he reviews unclassified materials.

DDT and his lawyers also lie about Biden orchestrating the probes into DDT. DOJ’s AG Merrick Garland stated:

“I think that the president made clear when he appointed me that he would not interfere with in any way any criminal investigations and he has stood by that. And there has been no White House participation whatsoever.”

This week, DDT’s lawyer Alina Habba told Newmax the FBI “planted” the evidence seized on August 8 at Mar-a-Lago and accused the administration about not “following the law.” DDT’s lawyers also refuse the special master’s order to identify which top-secret documents seized with the warrant were those that DDT insisted he “declassified”—possibly by telepathy.

Over three years ago, DDT denied that he tried to hide the USS John McCain during his visit to Japan because of his antagonism toward the noted senator who died nine months earlier. New information proves the White House Military Office told military to hide the name not put anything in writing. Emails stretched over a month before DDT’s trip in late May 2019 were largely redacted, but one directly states, “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.” Another reference states the action of covering the ship’s name with a tarp was “NOT instructed” by the 7th Fleet. Paint scaffolding was also used to obscure the name, and the ship’s sailors wearing caps with its name were given the day off during DDT’s visit. 

Text messages sent to former chief of staff Mark Meadows released this week further revealed DDT’s attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Phil Waldron, DDT supporter and retired U.S. Army colonel, sent the texts and circulated a PowerPoint presentation to federal legislators recommending that DDT declare a national emergency over the mythical “fraud” to stay in power. Waldron also helped write a draft executive order to seize voting machines that was never formally issued. On December 23, 2020, Waldron told Meadows that Arizona was the “lead domino,” and they had to move fast. Meadows’ brief responses indicated agreement with the plans.  

Three shooting survivors’ families in Uvalde (TX) are suing the school district, gun maker and store, city officials, and law enforcement officials after the mismanaged massacre of students and teachers on May 24. The lawsuit names ten defendants, including the school district police chief Pete Arredondo who was fired several months after extreme controversy.  Many red flags surrounded the isolated and depressed teenager regarding his potential for this type of violence from fixation on cruelty. Friends often ridiculed the teenage boy for looking like a “school shooter.”

A three-person legislative panel ruled “systemic failures” and “egregiously poor decision making” among all levels of law enforcement involved, the school, the family, and the shooters but found no one responsible. Investigators questioned whether frequent lockdown practices, 50 at the school in three months before the massacre, contributed to the teenager’s success through complacency. Law enforcement sent to the school were also trained to apprehend migrants, not deal with mass shooters. Officers early on the scene thought the threat could be a “bailout,” a term for fleeing suspected migrants because the school’s alert system didn’t specify the threat.

The legislative panel reported that law enforcement prioritized their own lives over those of the children and found excessive problems with lack of security—a faulty lock on classroom doors, “poor Wi-Fi connectivity” delaying alerts of the crisis, and failure of police “to adhere to their active shooter training.” In addition, the 77-page report commented on “the void of leadership” contributing to the loss of life supplemented by lack of “incident command post.” A video showed police as they waited in the hallway for 73 minutes to enter the unlocked room. They fist bumped, texted, and sanitized their hands while hearing gun shots from inside the room. Video and details here.   

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) boycotted a hearing on gun violence focused on victims and survivors of mass shootings in Buffalo (NY) and Uvalde. He said it exploited children and objected to children voluntarily testifying about their experiences.

Six people, two of them were students, were hospitalized after a shooting at an Oakland (CA) shooting at a charter school which might have been gang-related with weapons possibly banned in California. As of this shooting, the U.S. has had 508 mass shootings in the first nine months of 2022 with 545 dead and 2089 injured.

September 17, 2022

Loss of Democracy on Constitution Day

September 17, 2022 is the little noticed Constitution Day. The U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia 235 years ago, and leaders swore to uphold this framework for democracy. In the beginning, it protected only white men; almost 200 years were required to give women and minorities more equal rights.

Meant to be limits and protection for the government power, the Constitution divides the rule of the government into three parts to block a monarch or a tyrant. Congress writes laws, levies taxes, borrows money, declares war, pays debts, establishes courts, sets up a postal service, and provides for “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” The president can veto laws, but Congress can override the veto. The judicial branch settles disputes between states and guarantees a jury trial.

A major problem after 235 years is the continued belief of some states’ governments that, although they cannot strip people of the right to vote, they can stop citizens from this right, preferably the low-income and minorities who are feared by conservatives to support their rights. At this time, Republicans use threats and violence to destroy the ability of people to participate in the voting process, both in going to the polls and in working to help people carry out their constitutional right to vote.

These attempts to prohibit voting go beyond the 400+ voter suppression bills introduced in 48 states creating barriers to register, vote by mail, and vote along with redistricting, gerrymandering, and mass purges of voter rolls. Repeated requirements of “citizenship papers” intimidate naturalized citizens, and threats of violence against election workers drive them away from what they see as their civic duty. Inside the polling places, watchers can frighten voters by standing close to them, challenging ballots, or brandishing weapons. Outside, bullies can wear military-style garb when confronting voters, write down voters’ license plate numbers, block the polling entrance, aggressive question voter, and follow them.

After the election, Republicans who lose spread the lie that they actually won but the election was rigged—even if they lose to another Republican.

Recent events are threatening U.S. democracy and its foundations:

A judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to declare DDT above the law because he was elected to the presidency in 2016. She also ignores the importance of national security documents by delaying any resolution to the ones found lying around during the summer break at Mar-a-Lago. Having named DDT’s choice as “special master,” Judge Aileen Cannon denied the DOJ request to pursue an investigation into classified documents while the master looks through the 11,000 records taken with a search warrant. His deadline is November 30, but no earlier deadline was set for the classified documents.

The DOJ asked an appeals court, comprised of six DDT-apppointed judges out of 11, to permit criminal investigators to examine the seized classified materials while the master works on the other records. Its filing wants those “causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” It argues that classified documents are by definition the property of the government, not a former president or a private club and not subject to personal attorney-client privilege. DDT has not cited no legal authority to executive privilege keeping the executive branch, to which the DOJ belongs, from reviewing its own records. Cannon was skeptical that these highly classified documents could cause any harm to national security and indicated a lack of “unquestioning trust in the determinations of the Department of Justice.”

DDT has until Tuesday to respond to the DOJ’s filing. He may have a decent lawyer this time. Using private donations to his PAC Save America, DDT paid Chris Klise $3 million up front. DDT also used mob-like innuendo for violence when he told far-right conservative Hugh Hewett in an interview that people would not “stand for it” if he were indicted.  

DDT constantly lies about the documents he stole and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the reason that a search warrant was needed after a DDT lawyer signed an official document lying about all documents being submitted to the DOJ by June 2022. This lie followed DDT’s lie to the National Archives that none of the documents was sensitive or classified. Instead, Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the archives that DDT had only 12 boxes of “news clippings.” Since Meadows’ claim, officials have recovered 42 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago, including top-secret U.S. operations and information about a foreign government’s nuclear-defense readiness. Some of the documents had been torn up.

Far right states use parental rights as an excuse to strip bookshelves of books that don’t support heterosexual white supremacism and eliminate all non-white supremacism from the curriculum, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has removed the rights of parents who support their trans children. With the help of his AG Ken Paxton, who is scheduled to be deposed for his fraud indictment soon after the November election, Abbott has orchestrated a regulation that identifies any medical care for trans youth as child abuse. Texas has no legal restrictions against trans care.  

Because of Abbott’s and Paxton’s regulation, a 13-year-old trans boy was taken from his class at school and interrogated for an hour about intimate personal details without any parents present. Before he received puberty blockers, he had suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty attending classes. The questioning caused him to have a “meltdown,” according to his mother, and he has started missing school and has anxiety attacks because he no longer sees school as a safe place. State child services is investigating the mother for physical child abuse, calling the boy’s testosterone treatment “illegal.” The boy’s treatment is under the guidance of a pediatrician, endocrinologist, and two therapists. Medical experts widely agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary, and puberty delay can be reversed.

A state court already ruled against Abbott in the case of one family, but he continued to persecute other families for months. An injunction from a state judge last Friday shielded a group of families because such investigations could cause “probable, imminent and irreparable injury” to the families, including “gross invasions of privacy in the home and school, and the resulting trauma felt” by the family, as well as an increased risk of depression and suicide. The state made an immediate appeal to overrule the judge, and the mother of an 18-year-old trans boy is afraid she’ll lose her job with a child abuse charge.

Montana officials plan to defy a judge’s order to permit trans person’s gender changes on birth certificates, and Virginia now requires transgender students to use school programs and facilities according to sex assigned at birth.  

Abbott sent two more busloads of migrants to the home of VP Kamala Harris, and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is trying to cover his use of Florida money to fly Venezuelan and Colombian migrants out of San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard. He claims that all the migrants planned to go to Florida. He also said they knew their destination, but they thought they would be going to cities, close to public transportation, instead of to an island of 20,000 people. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre compared DeSantis’ actions to those of other traffickers:

“These are the kinds of tactics we see from smugglers in places like Mexico and Guatemala. And for what, a photo op? Because these governors care about creating political theater.”

The GOP has bragged that Hispanics are leaving the Democratic party, but DeSantis may have reversed that trend. The Cuban community, identifying with Venezuelans fleeing communism, compared the move to that of deceased Cuban dictator who relocated Cubans in the early 1960s.

On Constitution Day, U.S. knowledge of basic facts about government declined for the first time in six years:

  • Only 47 percent could name all three branches of government, down from 56 percent last year and the first decline since 2016.
  • One-fourth (25 percent) could not name one single branch of the government.
  • 26 percent could not name any First Amendment freedoms. 
  • Only 24 percent could name freedom of religion, down from 56 percent last year.
  • Only 20 percent could name freedom of the press, down from 50 percent last year.
  • 63 percent cited freedom of speech, down from 74 percent last year; right to assembly 16 percent, down from 30 percent; and right to petition 6 percent, down from 20 percent.
  • 9 percent, tripled from 3 percent last year, put the right to bear arms in the First Amendment instead of the Second Amendment, but 82 percent know the Supreme Court upheld the right to own guns.
  • 78 percent know that the Bill of Rights protects people from illegal searches and seizures.
  • Only 55 percent know that a 5-4 ruling in the Supreme Court makes the decision law, down from 61 percent last year.
  • 76 percent the federal government cannot establish an official religion, and 88 percent know atheists have the same rights as other citizens.

Now if only the Supreme Court would learn these rights.

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) lawyers tried to stall DDT’s problems from stealing classified documents by claiming that taking them was like having overdue library books, and President Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about preserving democracy that infuriated Republicans. More about that later while the judge decides whether to assign a “special master” for DDT but meanwhile lots of other news.

In the Alaska’s first ranked-choice election, Democrat Mary Peltola’s win by three percent came from half the people voting for GOP Nick Begich refusing to put Sarah Palin for their second choice—29 percent picked Peltola, and 21 percent didn’t vote for anyone. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), presidential wannabe, tweeted that the GOP-created ranked-choice voting process “is a scam to rig elections.” Peltola’s win was an 18-point overperformance for Democrats in a red state. In special elections since March 2021, Republicans were two percent over the estimated leaning for the winners before Roe v. Wade was overturned; after that, Democrats had an 11-percent lean.

Tony Ornato, DDT loyalist and deputy chief of staff for operations, retired two days before a scheduled interview with Inspector General investigators after stalling for two months. A top Secret Service official, Ornato may have tried to send VP Mike Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 6, 2022, so that the presidential counting of votes would be delayed. Pence refused to get into the car. Ornato also told DDT’s White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson DDT demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6 after the rally and lunged for the steering wheel when Ornato refused to drive him there. Having met with the House January 6 investigative committee twice about Pence’s location, Ornato said he will meet with the Inspector General investigators, but, as a private citizen, he cannot be required to do so with a testimonial subpoena.

The House committee has asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for an interview regarding his communications with DDT’s senior advisers, including Jason Miller and Jared Kushner, about television advertising claiming lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that Gingrich was part of the fake elector plot to persuade Pence and congressional members affecting the outcome of vote counting on January 6. Committee investigators interviewed witnesses during much of August and continue to receive many new documents while they work to recover missing texts from the Secret Service and Defense Department that the agencies wiped from phones of former and current officials.

Members are exploring identification of documents that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned in his office fireplace and other mishandling of documents. After the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Meadows made arrangements to return records to the National Archives.

The committee also interviewed some of DDT’s Cabinet secretaries including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao about their conversations after the insurrection in connection with invoking the 25th Amendment, the removal of a president on grounds of incapacitation, mental health or physical fitness. These discussions could show the serious problems of DDT’s behavior.

Former DDT White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 insurrection.

New information about Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may contribute to the January 6 investigation. She pushed state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well as Arizona to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Emails show emails to at least two Wisconsin state lawmakers appear to be pre-generated by Thomas, mirroring form letters she sent to 29 Arizona legislators asking them to interfere in the state’s slate of presidential electors. She told them to unilaterally choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors and “consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

Thomas’ push to overturn the election received scrutiny because of her husband’s refusal to recuse himself in a case about the House’s January 6 investigation. He was the only justice to publicly dissent from the Supreme Court’s move not to block a court order permitting House investigators to see DDT’s White House documents. Thomas also exchanged texts with Meadows in 2020 to persuade him in continuing the fight to overturn Biden’s win. Meadows gave these texts to the House select committee. Thomas has also openly opposed House investigation, calling on the two Republican members of the committee to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Owners of Fox network are defending itself in a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems with the position that media sources shouldn’t be punished for lying about the 2020 election. Dominion asks for $1.6 billion in damages and has moved into discovery with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro being deposed. According to the Fox argument, the First Amendment allows news organizations to lie about public figures if it’s not done knowingly and has no reckless disregard for the truth. A Delaware judge denied the motion to dismiss the suit last year and stated that the case should proceed and that “the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth.”  

On the flip side of the coin, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch’s son, is suing an Australian news outlet, accusing it of lying about Fox and its news about the election. Lachlan Murdoch contends an article calling the Murdoch family “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection and the preceding election lies caused him to be “gravely injured in his character, in his personal reputation, and his professional reputation.” Crikey, the independent outlet, had stated that if DDT is indicted, “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” The First Amendment protects the statement in the U.S., but Australia has no such protection.

The Murdochs will want to avoid discovery because opposing counsel has access to emails and other internal communication. Concern about discovery caused Fox to settle a suit with the family of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who Fox falsely accused of leaking emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election after Rich was shot and killed. In the Dominion lawsuit, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may be forced to join their hosts in being deposed. The owners claim they don’t make day-to-day decisions on programming or tell hosts what to say or not to say, but text messages prove the opposite.

A three-judge panel of the conservative 8th Circuit Court temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans children and teens. The court ruled that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” Last year, over 200 anti-trans bills were introduced in over 30 states, and many of them have passed. Lies sent about trans people include trans children receiving gender-confirming surgery. Conspiracy theorists have attacked Boston Children’s Hospital for its Gender Multispeciality Service program treating children with gender dysphoria, including a bomb threat this week.

A KKK plaque is installed at the entrance of Bartlett Hall, the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point (NY). It depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on a triptych titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.

Florida is rejecting donations of dictionaries after a freeze on new books in its libraries and classrooms so that parents have more control of school materials. In Sarasota, officials declined hundreds of dictionaries from a Venice Rotary Club’s donations. The group has donated over 4,000 dictionaries to the city’s elementary schools for almost 15 years in partnership with a nonprofit called the Dictionary Project. The law requires all “reading material” be “selected” by a certified education media specialist, but the district has none.

Texas loves God, as long as he’s straight, Christian, and English-speaking. A new law requires schools to display donated posters with “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. So parent Sravan Krishna tried to present a sign with the national motto in Arabic to a school district, and they refused after they tried to keep him from speaking. Muslims are the fifth-largest religious group in the state, and Texas has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. The law has no requirement for English, but the school board said they had enough signs. (The law also makes no requirement for the number of signs.)  In addition to presenting posters in Arabic, Krishna donated another one with “God” in rainbow colors. Although a lawyer has said that the motto must be in English, the colored one didn’t pass muster either. About 20 percent of youth in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.  

[Note the U.S. and Texas flag on the sign. According to the law, the sign must include them and only the words “In God We Trust”–nothing more.]

Despite GOP attempts to kill unions, their approval is at the highest point since 1965 at 71 percent. And just before Labor Day!

August 24, 2022

Primaries – August 24, 2022

With two more Tuesdays of primaries before the general election, Florida voted for all its candidates, New York cleaned up candidates for state and federal districts after the map had to be redrawn, and Oklahoma decided 11 GOP runoffs. No Democratic runoffs were necessary because all those elections had winners with at least 50 percent, and five legislative races were settled because of no competition from another party.  

The primary in the Empire State is the second in just eight weeks because the state Supreme Court ruled the earlier revised maps were unconstitutional. ordered the redrawing of district maps because the revised ones were unconstitutional. On June 28, 2022, New York Democrats voted for Gov. Kathy Hochul to be their candidate this fall, but congressional and state senate decisions were made with the vote on August 23.

In a special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District, voters selected Democrat Pat Ryan despite positive polling for Republican Marc Molinaro. Ryan replaces Rep. Antonio Delgado (D), the new state lieutenant governor, and will run in the fall for a full term in the newly redrawn 18th District. His campaign on access to abortion makes his win “a huge victory” for Democrats in a “bellwether” district,” the first election to use this campaign issue, according to Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman. Ryan also won by over three percent in a district that went for President Joe Biden by only 1.5 percent.

In New York’s conservative 23rd Congressional District, GOP Joe Sempolinski’s win was narrower than expected, 53 to 47 percent, in a district DDT won by 12 points in 2020. Sempolinski will not be running for the full term this fall. 

Florida:

Current Gov. Ron DeSantis, unopposed in the GOP primary, will run against former Gov. Charlie Crist, currently a U.S. representative who changed parties in 2011 after his gubernatorial election in 2007, moving first to unaffiliated and then to Democrat. With almost 60 percent of the vote, Crist defeated three opponents. His victory speech showed his campaign against DeSantis; Crist is running on “fundamental freedom,” including “a woman’s right to choose” in a time of “extremist” Republicans, who “want to turn back the clock on our freedom.” In opposition to DeSantis, Crist said he will make voting easier and reinstate legally elected Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, fired by DeSantis for a declaration he wouldn’t prosecute women seeking an abortion and replaced him with an ally. Another Crist campaign issue is DeSantis’ refusal to call out GOP Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez for suggesting Cubans “illegally” in the state should be bused to Delaware.

Anna Paulina Luna, who brought the most money to the campaign with $1.9 as well as DDT’s endorsement, won Crist’s current 13th Congressional District that he’s leaving to run for governor. The district is predicted to turn red.

Val Demings defeated her three opponents with almost 85 percent of the vote. She faces GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who was uncontested in his primary. Her former blue district picked Gen Z Afro-Cuban Maxwell Frost, 25, for the Democratic candidate over former Reps. Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, who had been in prison for mail and tax fraud, as well as seven other candidates. If he wins in the blue district, Frost will be the first Gen Z member of Congress. 

Rep. Daniel Webster won the GOP primary for the 11th Congressional District, setting off histrionics from competitor and self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer, 29, who lost by six points. “I’m not conceding, because I’m a winner,” Loomer declared, pushing falsehoods of election fraud against other Republicans. A conspiracy theorist and contributor to Alex Jones‘ far-right conspiracy media platform Infowars, she has been banned by mainstream social networks Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Medium; payment platforms Paypal, Venmo, GoFundMe and Chase; ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft—even the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC. On Loomer’s Telegram channel, a supporter wrote, “OUR ENEMIES EAT BABIES.” She received over 37,000 votes in a district from Tampa east, including the huge, predominantly GOP retirement development The Villages.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, DDT-endorsed and under investigation for sex trafficking, won the GOP primary in the First Congressional District. His opponent in November is Rebekah Jones, fired from the Department of Health for her unwillingness to falsify COVID numbers.

School boards are where DeSantis won big time in Florida: at least 21 of his 30 hand-picked “parent-centered,” anti-woke candidates won their elections. Nonpartisan school boards are gone. The school district with 45,000 students in Sarasota County flipped to DeSantis’ conservative majority, 4-1. They plan leaving “CRT out of the classroom,” keeping “boys out of girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms,” and “sexual education focused on biology, not pleasure or gender theory.”

Florida’s turnout was light, perhaps 25 percent of registered voters.

New York: 

DDT is now not only endorsing sure candidates but also Democrats, in this case two incumbent representatives running against each other in the same district—Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler—and the lead counsel for his impeachment, Dan Goldman. In all three cases, he lavishly praised the candidates despite his recent attack against Goldman. Maloney leads a House Oversight Committee investigation into DDT’s storage of documents at Mar-a-Lago, and Nadler leads the House Judiciary Committee. DDT won two out of three.

Rep. Jerry Nadler defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the 12th Congressional District, perhaps because of how the map was drawn.

Dan Goldman, the richest candidate in the race for the 10th Congressional District, put $4 million of his own money into the race. Among the dozen candidates, Goldman received over 25 percent of the vote, beating another incumbent from another district, Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Black gay man going to the U.S. House after his win in the last election. Heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, Goldman, an MSNBC analyst, was endorsed by the New York Times.

Rep. Sean Maloney won the Democratic candidacy in the 17th Congressional District where Jones was the incumbent. He was supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Bill Clinton while his Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and progressive organizations supported the opponent, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Oklahoma:

Ally Seifried defeated Christian Nationalist Jarrin Jackson for GOP state senate candidate, known for his anti-Semitic statements. Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who claims she “absolutely denounces bigotry in all its forms,” endorsed Jackson. Outrage caused Lake to rescind her endorsement.

Gloria Banister defeated Scott Esk, another bigot, in state House District 87. In 2013, while running in another election, he said “homosexuals” should be executed and repeated his sentiment the next year, using the Old Testament to justify his comments, when he advocated stoning gays. He said his position just “makes me a Christian” to “the voters of House District 87.”

As the counting for one federal House member from Alaska in a ranked-vote voting grinds on, Democrat Mary Pertola is 13,000 votes ahead of two GOP competitors—including former Gov. and VP candidate Sarah Palin. Alaska gave Palin a 37 percent approval rating

According to FairVote, an elections nonprofit, primaries can be divided into three categories: open primaries, in which voters choose any party’s primary no matter their voter affiliation; closed primaries, in which voters are restricted to the primary of their registered party; and semi-closed primaries, in which voters vote in only the primary of their registered parties unless they are unaffiliated and can choose whichever party election they choose. Twenty states have open primaries, and 10 states have closed primaries but some of them allow voters to change their registration on election day. Ten states also require a majority of votes instead of a plurality; without a majority, the top two candidates return for a runoff. Two states, Alaska and Maine, have a ranked-choice vote system.

The Supreme Court announcement that it was overturning Roe v. Wade came almost exactly in the middle of primary season, with 24 primaries after June 24. Since that date, states, especially red ones, have seen a surge in women registering to vote with the numbers far greater than for men registering, especially where reproductive rights are at risk. Kansas women out-registered men by 40 percent with 70 percent of new registrants women. Michigan women out registered men by 8.1 percent, and Wisconsin women have almost doubled that percentage.

Another phenomenon is the shift in support for reproductive rights by Latinx in the U.S. In 2019, only 45 percent favored abortion legalization in almost all cases. In a recent poll, 76 percent of Latinx agreed with this statement:

“No matter what my personal beliefs about abortion are, I think it is wrong to make abortion illegal and take that choice away from everyone else.”

Subgroups of Latinx supported the statement by majorities: Catholics, 76 percent; non-Catholic Christians, 68 percent, Republicans, 55 percent; Latino, 72 percent; and Latina, 85 percent. Nineteen percent listed abortion as one of top important issues, for the first time being one of the top five. Almost 12 million Latinos will likely vote in November 2022, and many of them will be considering their candidates’ positions on women’s reproductive rights.

Two more Tuesdays of primaries: September 6 – Massachusetts; and September 13 – Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

July 28, 2022

Politics – July 28, 2022

January 6, 2021 was a popular time for missing texts. The Secret Service can’t find any because of a “migration,” and messages for acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are also missing for a period of time leading up to the insurrection. A problem with a “reset” of their phones. Joseph Cuffari, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), didn’t seem concerned about the missing texts, didn’t alert Congress about the problems with its request, and didn’t try to recover the lost data. Wolf was DDT’s favorite DHS Secretary and would likely be called back to work for DDT if he came back to the White House.

In a court filing, DDT’s attorneys asked a judge to grant him total immunity against any civil law lawsuits connected to the insurrection. DDT is attempting to ask all lawsuits to be dismissed. Previously, DDT claimed his January 6 speech was “protected by presidential absolute immunity.” The newer filing said DDT’s “statements were on matters of public concern.” Lawyers insist “impeachment is the only means of punishing a president for abuse and that attempts by Democrats and others to sue Trump after he emerged victorious in his impeachment trial are tantamount to ‘harassment.'” In February, the judge ruled the speech was likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.” [Right: the man who considers running for re-election in two years.]

The DOJ probe into the insurrection, ongoing since April, is building, and AG Merrick Garland said he may charge DDT. Prosecutors are willing to go to court to get DDT’s White House officials to testify about conversations on and around January 6m, 2021. No former president has ever been criminally charged in U.S. history, but Garland hasn’t ruled out indicting DDT.  

Lawyers passing through DDT’s White House are adding themselves to the vast number of witnesses testifying about the January 6 insurrection, including DDT’s participation in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Last week, former VP Mike Pence’s aide Marc Short, a DDT accuser, and Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob testified before the DOJ grand jury investigating these events. Emmet Flood, briefly acting White House counsel, is Short’s lawyer. In 2019, DDT tweeted his “friend” Flood did a “GREAT JOB.”

Ty Cobb, Flood’s predecessor and overseer of the White House’s response to the Mueller investigation, said DDT’s declaration of candidacy “serves no interest but his self-defeating and overwhelming need for relevance, attention and money. Such an announcement also does not inoculate him from criminal investigation.” Cobb also listed DDT’s possible crimes on CNN. Pat Cipollone, DDT’s last White House counsel, confirmed earlier testimony and stated that everyone in the White House except DDT wanted people to leave the Capitol on January 6. At Cipollone’s side during his testimony was Michael Purpura, deputy White House counsel during the DDT’s administration.

Russian State Duma member Evgeny Popov is bragging about a close connection with DDT by calling him “our own Donald Trump” and lamenting the DOJ criminal investigation into DDT’s actions. He insinuated that DDT belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Popov also echoed the lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and DDT’s complaints about Joe Biden and the current state of the U.S. The Russian also ranted:

“Didn’t we write a cool speech for Donald Trump? The best is yet to come. It won’t be surprising if DOJ adds Trump’s speech to the materials of their criminal case. Donald says he is an agent of Russia, which is true.”  

In a bipartisan act, the Senate voted 84-14 in favor of the Honoring Our Pact Act (HOPA), passed in the House with a 256-174 vote, that expands health care and benefits to veterans suffering from exposure to unsafe practices, such as “burn pits,” while in the military. The typical conservative senators as well as Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized the bill for mythical budgetary reasons. The bill moved to the House which supported it by a 256-174 vote and a tweak to make some spending mandatory.  When the bill was returned to the Senate for final approval, 42 Republicans voted against a procedural vote, leaving the bill in question. Jon Stewart gave an impassioned speech about the GOP abandonment of veterans in retaliation for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) supporting a bill delaying climate change, lowering drug prices, and slightly raising corporate taxes,.

The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) bill passed the Senate by 64-33 and moved onto President Joe Biden’s desk after a 243-187 vote in the House. Despite more attempts at retaliation for any action by Democrats, 24 House GOP members voted for the bill.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), the biggest joke in the House before the onslaught of QAnon representatives, is irate because Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) put fact-checking articles about GOP lies from the past year into the congressional record, such as the false claims that AG Merrick Garland was investigating parents speaking at school boards and calling them “domestic terrorists.” In response to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) misrepresentation of a DOJ whistleblower memo, Cicilline read the memo into the record. When Republicans objected, Cicilline asked that “the Republicans were afraid for the document to be in the record.” The incensed Gohmert said Cicilline isn’t permitted “to impugn false statements by this side.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) laughed at Gohmert, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) first put his head in his hand and then went to using his cell phone.

Kentucky’s GOP senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, do their constituents a great disservice if they continue to ignore the dire consequences of climate change. In the past week, the catastrophic flooding in the mountainous eastern part of the state has killed at least eight people and left many others missing or trapped. Gov. Andy Beshear said, “We expect double-digit deaths.” He added, “Hundreds will lose their homes.” One county received 11 inches in rain in two days and expects more in the stalled weather front that caused historic flooding in St. Louis last Tuesday from over 12 inches of rain. In Kentucky, the hardest place hit, Hazard with 5,000 population, had over nine inches in 12 hours, and the terrain funnels more water down into the valley towns. Rock and mudslides also cut off populated areas. Heavy rainfall is now 20 to 40 percent more likely in the area than in 1900.

Remember when Republicans opposed regulations? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis disagrees with his party’s approach. He is notorious for blocking mask mandates during the worst of the pandemic, delaying COVID vaccinations for children, eliminating LGBTQ mention in classrooms while mandating Christian nationalism in the curriculum, countermanding constitutional separation of church and state, preventing protest gatherings of more than two people, removing the right to discuss race in the workplace, redrawing the state’s Congressional map to increase the number of Republicans Florida sends to Congress, establishing his own personal state army with no federal oversight, and permitting bullying of LGBTQ students.

In Florida, teachers are ordered to dedicate 45 minutes of instruction about the suffering of people around the world on November 7, “Victims of Communism Day.” Mandated subjects are Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro along with “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech” endured under those regimes. Teaching materials will be prepared by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Teachers are fleeing Florida, the state needs 10,000 teachers, and DeSantis accuses elementary school teachers, lying how they “instructed” children they may be transgender and anyone disagreeing with him is “lying.”

DeSantis latest regulation is blocking his administration from investments in “woke” corporations by prohibiting the use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings for these decisions. Doing so would allow recipients of pensions to receive funds from companies with similar funds. DeSantis said, “The inmates are running the asylum.” Yet the State Board of Administration stated it didn’t use these ratings for overseeing the $250 billion in funds. DeSantis’ revoking Disney’s zoning agreement for criticizing his “Don’t Say Gay” law has already cost Florida taxpayers $1 billion.

In the past, Republicans objected to being surveiled; now they promote it. With the approval of a Supreme Court majority, Texas’ anti-abortion law turns all citizens into vigilantes, reporting anyone supporting abortion and creating a society reminiscent of a totalitarian state. Tennessee and Florida allow students to sue transgender students for using the “wrong” bathroom. Anyone in New Hampshire can sue a school for violating vague rules regarding teaching about race, sex, gender, and other sensitive issues, and teachers lose their licenses. Only Democratic governors in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—up for re-election this fall—protect people from totalitarian surveillance. And only the six Supremes can protect others in the U.S., and they aren’t likely to do so.

Outrage by students at George Washington University has caused Justice Clarence Thomas to cancel his plan to teach a seminar there, something he has done since 2011. Thomas is threatening to overturn a large number of human rights after participating in overturning the constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

April 1, 2022

News – But Not ‘April Fools’

A gain of 431,000 new jobs in March makes this the 11 straight monthly gain above 400,000 on record beginning in 1939 and dropped unemployment to 3.6 percent. Job totals for January and February were also revised upward with 95,000 more new jobs on top of those 431,000 jobs in March. The U.S. economy has replaced 93 percent of pandemic job losses since President Joe Biden took office 14 months ago. In his first three years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), which he called the greatest U.S. economy in the history of the planet, he gained 6.5 million jobs—and lost all and more with his mismanagement of the pandemic. In Biden’s first 14 months, the nation’s economy created 8.43 million jobs.

DDT is the only person in the White House to record net job losses since Herbert Hoover’s presidency led to the Great Depression. George W. Bush’s eight years saw a gain of only one million compared to the gain of 12 million jobs during President Obama’s eight years.  Per the chart, Trump is the only president in the last 80 years to net job losses during his presidency. 

Republicans fight any increase in the federal $7.25 minimum wage, but in 2020, CEOs were paid 351 times as much as a typical worker, up from 307-1 in 2019 and 21-1 in 1965 and 61-1 in 1989. The 2020 ratio is an 18.9 increase from 2019 because of the rapid growth in vested stock awards and exercised stock options. The average CEO compensation in 2020 was $13.9 million. CEO gets these increases because they set pay and their pay is stock-related.

In contrast to CEO salaries, those for teachers are so bad that many of them are forced to take a second job for survival. In the first years that they work, many of them have to pay off student loans; when that is finished, the child care expenses are stupendous. Average salary for new teachers is $41,000; it’s $64,000 for teachers across all levels of education and years of experience. The 18 percent of teachers holding second jobs outside their teaching makes them three times as likely as all U.S. workers to handle multiple jobs at once. Forty-one percent of preK-12 teachers work more than one job.

Raises for teachers haven’t kept up with inflation in over half the states, stagnating in the past two decades within two states and declining in another 27 states. With a loss of 20 percent in Indiana, for example, the $61,000 that a teacher makes today would have the buying power of under $48,000. For that money, teachers not only instruct but also act as facilitators, mentors, family liaisons, behavioral interventionists, etc. Staff shortages erased planning periods, moving all lesson preparations, grading communication, and other work into evenings and weekends. Teachers make 19 percent less than employees in commensurate professions, about 81 percent on the dollar. In 1996, the penalty was only six percent for teachers.

Some teachers have more advantages than others. The highest-paying states are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Those with partners or other family members may keep them from taking on additional paying jobs.

One person other than teachers will make less money after DDT stiffed her. Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, each man in the Oval Office has had an official photographer to chronicle his administration’s experiences. Many people take photos of the president for the media, and the White House has staff photographers. Only one person, however, is the chief White House photographer for the president.

After another photographer failed to stay, Shealah Craighead, staff photographer for George W. Bush, had the primary position. Like every other chief White House photographer, she planned a collection of her photographs, and asked DDT if he would write a foreword. Unlike other men in the Oval Office, however, DDT wanted some renumeration for doing this historical document. She obtained his commitment and negotiated her contract with a publisher when DDT stalled on his commitment.

That’s when Craighead discovered DDT took her photos for his own book, Our Journey Together: he’s selling it for $75 a copy, $229.99 for a signed copy in his “Winning Team Publishing” section of his merchandising operation. This after he insulted Craighead and told White House guests “that he questioned her skills as a photographer.” His “publishing” is “co-founded by Donald Trump Jr. and Sergio Gor, a former Capitol Hill aide and Republican campaign operative.” DDT’s representative told Craighead that the “noncompete” clause from DDT’s publisher meant more stalling of the foreword. The book from DDT also provides no photo credits and doesn’t not mention any photographers taking the images until the last page that has a “grateful acknowledgement” to “all the phenomenal White House photographers” listed them.

No president personally profited from the photographs as DDT has. The company has evidently grossed at least $20 million by now. After the New York Times contacted DDT for a comment, he said he’s ready to write the foreword.

DDT’s behavior with the book is nothing new: he cheated hundreds of contractors, ran a scam university, and misstated his assets’ evaluation to cheat on taxes and loans. He wrote all the photo captions, including one for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

“She was screaming and shaking like a leaf, she’s f***ing crazy, hence the name ‘Crazy Nancy.’”

My personal suggestion is for a collection of DDT’s photographs taken by the media. It could include photographs such as the one of his dragging toilet paper behind him while he ascends the stairs to Air Force One. Or this one. 

Biden has rescinded Title 42, DDT’s policy expelling and blocking migrants at the border from seeking asylum. Supposedly based on the pandemic, the order was lifted by the CDC because it is no longer needed “to protect U.S. citizens.” Most of those crossing the border will still not be permitted to stay, removed if they cannot prove a legal reason for remaining the U.S. Asylum is for “a well-founded fear of persecution on protected ground.” Biden’s administration used Title 42 to expel migrants 1.7 million times.

Biden also announced an expenditure of $3.2 billion to retrofit 450,000 homes in low-income communities to cut power bills and lower fossil fuel emissions. Funding comes from last year’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to boost the home weatherization program from the 1970s. Other climate-related actions announced Wednesday include new energy code requirements for federal buildings and new efficiency standards for residential air conditioners and pool heaters. Federal contractors use concrete and asphalt with a low carbon footprint.

After Florida had an almost perfect election with GOP winners, the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, led the charge in legislation highly restricting voter access to the polls. At least one federal judge agrees that the new laws cause unneeded problems and banned the enforcement of most new restrictions, calling them discriminatory and infringing on voting rights. Mark Walker’s 288-page ruling declared much of the state’s voter suppression law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction barring its enforcement—with lots of details. The order also mandates “preclearance,” using Section 3(C) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to get pre-approval on election law changes with Walker’s court for the next ten years if they involve drop boxes, third-party voter registration, or line-warming activities (giving food or water to people waiting to vote). Appeals will go to the highly conservative 11th Circuit Court. Heather Cox Richardson has more to say about the decision.

The DOJ has also filed its third lawsuit against Texas about its discriminatory voting laws, this one over county precincts in Galveston that disenfranchise Black and Latinx voters. The U.S. has already sued Texas for its new redistricting maps and its new voting law restricting mail ballots and outlawing drive-through voting and 24-hour polling places. Texas rejected at least 23,000 mail ballots last month under the new law, a 13-percent rejection rate. Usually, the rate is in the low single digits. The state has had to defend every redistricting process since the 1965 Voting Rights Act went into effect, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down preapproval for the process in 2013.

Texas has had to defend its maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965. Previously, Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination had to seek preapproval before changing election laws, but that is no longer the case after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that requirement in 2013.

Despite Amazon’s dirty tricks in union votes, its 6,000-employee warehouse on Staten Island won its union election—on April Fools Day—making it the first U.S. union in the company’s 28-year history. Amazon, the second largest employer in the nation, issued a statement disapproving of the vote and the possibility of challenging the results. It alleged misconduct on the part of the National Labor Relations Board that administered the election. A similar vote at Bessemer (AL) came out against the union by 993-875, but 416 ballots have been challenged. Starbucks workers have unionized nine stories and filed for elections in over 100 stores within 25 states.

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