Nel's New Day

April 6, 2021

Good News in the Senate; Gaetz, Georgia Problems Build

The biggest news for the week may have been the Senate parliamentarian decision permitting expanded use of the reconciliation process for budget bills. At one time, the ruling would not have been important for solving legislative issues in Congress, but for a decade, Republicans have largely refused to vote in favor of any bill proposed by Democrats even if they or their constituents agree with the bill. Since the 2008 election of President Obama and the 2010 Tea Party sweep of Congress, Republicans have subscribed to one goal—gridlock through opposition to all Democratic bills. The Senate filibuster requiring a 60-percent vote makes gridlock easier.  

The only flexibility in the Senate has been the budget reconciliation process in which a maximum of three bills can be passed each year with a simple majority, one each on spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit. Democrats already used one bill this year with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), providing financial relief for the COVID-19 crisis. Republicans, with seeing provisions in the upcoming infrastructure bill, have declared they will vote against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, found a law that legislation for an annual budget resolution, passed by the reconciliation process in the current Congress, can be revised through amendments. The Senate parliamentarian agrees, giving Democratic senators more flexibility without putting every issue into one bill. This process frees up budgetary timelines, again because of the smaller budget bills not requiring the 60-percent threshold. This flexibility may permit the budget to be finished by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, instead of stalling the process with a number of continuing resolutions and creating the danger of a government shutdown. Raising the debt ceiling might not be used for GOP blackmail in cutting back spending for domestic needs, a situation created by a cap on the debt limit forced through a decade ago by then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Trying to cling to his position of leadership and sucking off the corporate teat for decades, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fighting large businesses rejecting the Georgia anti-voting law. He threatened them with a warning to “stay out of politics” to avoid “consequences.” McConnell did add “I’m not talking about contributions” to his directive. Last year—2020—his super PAC took in $475 million from corporations and their CEOs, including Chevron, Mountaire Corp, Koch Industries, and many others. 

In 2010, McConnell, calling donations “free speech,” praised the Supreme Court lifting political spending limits by “outside groups” in Citizens United v. FEC:

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process … the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.”

Gabby Orr and Meredith McGraw wrote on Politico:

“During the 2017 GOP tax reform push, the [GOP] party slashed the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent. In return, they have been bolstered with industry money and political support. Now, however, they’re betting that they can win on a backlash to the idea that political correctness has entered the boardroom and is irreversibly damaging conservative causes.”

Three days ago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) called on all his followers to boycott the corporations criticizing Georgia’s new law and other states’ anti-voting bills, one business being Coca-Cola. For his photo shoot, he should have removed the Coke bottle from his desk rather than trying to hide it behind his telephone while he pretends to still be in the Oval Office. 

“I feel so good not drinking Diet Coke on a Delta flight,” Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, tweeted Monday. Pepsi supports LGBTQ and voting rights.  

In the GOP attempt to “cancel” MLB (Major League Baseball), Republican lawmakers are looking at Commissioner Rob Manfred’s membership at the Augusta (GA) National Golf Club and threatening to remove its long-time antitrust exemption so that the MLB could be sued. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested a boycott of MLB. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) distributed a list of official MLB sponsors, asking if “all of them [are] willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party?” The attack resembles DDT’s fight against ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who knelt to protest police brutality.

The outrage from Republicans regarding MLB making a statement about the anti-voting law is not new for sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) relocated its All-Star Game in 2017 from North Carolina in reaction to HB2, a state law requiring people to use only restrooms that correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. The owners of teams in the National Football League (NFL) voted in 1991 to withdraw the 1993 Super Bowl Game from Phoenix following Arizona voters’ refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a legal holiday. Recently, the NFL apologized for not supporting protests of police violence against people of color, started by Kaepernick taking a knee.

MLB found a new home for its All-Star Game in Denver (CO), resulting in GOP and Fox network’s lies about Georgia’s new voting law being less restrictive than those in Colorado. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) tweeted that both states require voter ID and Georgia has two more days of early voting. With Colorado’s mail-in voting system, less than one percent of Colorado voters cast their ballots in person and aren’t required to have photos on their IDs. All registered voters in Colorado are sent ballots, but Georgia law blocks election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to registered voters. WaPo reporter Dave Weigel told critics of Colorado voting to “find a photo of Colorado voters waiting in a long line on Election Day” within the past seven years. (Right: Georgia’s voting lines.) Republicans lie about Georgia’s new law “expanding” voting access, but an analysis reveals 16 provisions limiting ballot access, confusing voters, and giving GOP lawmakers more power to determine the electoral college vote in the state.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is working on ways “to mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s new anti-voting law, part of to “develop a plan of action within the city’s authority to expand opportunity and access to the ballot box.” Methods include staff member training on voter registration; general information on early, absentee, and in-person voting; and dissemination of information to residents about obtaining forms of identification required for absentee voting.

In another story from the South, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), facing sex-trafficking accusations from a DOJ investigation started by DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr, found himself in more hot water. According to The New York Times, he asked for “blanket preemptive pardons” for himself and his allies, possibly Joel Greenberg, before DDT left the Oval Office which would give him immunity from any future crimes. The inquiry into Gaetz began late last summer, and people wonder if Gaetz knew about the probe before DDT’s departure. DDT has not mentioned Gaetz’s name since the scandal broke, and DDT’s loyalists have anonymously shown glee about Gaetz’s problems. One staffer expressing a feeling of vindication said about Gaetz, “He’s the meanest person in politics.

Fox News, for some reason, has published details of Gaetz’s sordid past. As a young state legislator in Florida, he allegedly competed with other lawmakers in sexual conquests, gaining extra points for having sex with married lawmakers and spending the night in a college sorority house. Special points came from sex with virgins, but the top number came from sex with one specific conservative woman, nicknamed the “snitch.” Other points came from sex with lobbyists, interns, and aides. Some women called him “Creepy Gaetz” because of how uncomfortable they were in his presence.

One question about indictments for Gaetz is whether his buddy Joel Greenberg, formerly Seminole County (FL) tax collector and now recipient of at least three dozen federal criminal charges, turns on him. Greenberg’s evidence could erase Gaetz’s weak defense that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old being investigated or she turned 18 by the time he made the moves on her. Greenberg’s case involves the same girl, indicating her age as 17 and the belief that he paid her, possible federal charges against Gaetz. If prosecution couldn’t prove Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, Florida has a 15-year maximum sentence for sex with a minor and registration as a sex offender. Even solicitation of a sex act is a felony.

Gaetz is known for being the only member of the U.S. House to vote against increased penalties for sex-trafficking. While in the Florida legislature, he also fought a bill against “nonconsensual pornography,” aka “revenge porn.” For several years, fellow Republican tried to put the bill into law, but the main opposition was Matt Gaetz. In one discussion, Gaetz maintained a person can use “an intimate image [sent from] their romantic partner” in any way they want. That’s what Gaetz did when he showed nude photos and videos to other members of Congress.

This weekend at DDT’s Miami Doral hotel, Gaetz will appear at the Save America Summit, a Women for America First event, as the headline speaker along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Calling Gaetz a “fearless leader,” the organization secured the permit for DDT’s speech inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Topics at the summit include “Election Integrity,” “Big Tech & Censorship,” and “Defeating the Radical Biden/Harris Agenda.”

April 4, 2021

Voting: States Polarize

When Georgia passed the most anti-voting rights law in over a half century, they likely hoped that the anti-Georgia backlash to authoritarianism would soon disappear. It’s just getting worse for them.

Atlanta has become the business hub of the South, moving the state from a backwoods region to a leader in world economy. At one time, Coca-Cola was the only major business, but the area’s development ballooned into the 10th largest in the country and the 18th in the world. The estimated GDP in 2014 came in over $324 billion, and investments cover the waterfront—finance, media, film and TV, healthcare, manufacturing, education, travel, etc.

Corporate objections to the law quelling voting by minorities and low-income people started slowly but took on momentum after the public backlash. Coca-Cola, a world empire, called the law “unacceptable” and objections from 73 Black business executives included Merck & Co. and American Express. Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, stated the company would have second thoughts about a decision “to invest substantially in Atlanta.” The Major League Baseball removed its July 13, 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta. A list of over 170 companies asking elected officials to protect voting access and oppose voter suppression.

After Delta objected to the new law, the state House tried to punish Delta by removing tens of millions of dollars of tax breaks, but the Senate wouldn’t touch the bill before it adjourned for the year.

MLB’s decision caused loud GOP cries of “cancel culture”—a term deteriorated into “anything the GOP doesn’t like.” Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp complained about MLB and the corporations’ opposition to his law being “woke”—defined as “alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice.” He’s correct, but being “woke” simply means fighting for voting rights. 

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) stated, “Boycott Major League Baseball (MLB), Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck” He ranted about the “rigged” 2020 presidential election before he finished with “Happy Easter.”

Yet the GOP is blaming talk about boycotts on Black activist Stacey Abrams who protested the new Georgia anti-voting law but opposed boycotting Georgia because it hurts minorities and low-income people. Instead she asked corporations to find other ways to support voting rights activists and hold Republicans accountable.

Southern GOP bigotry already cost North Carolina $3.76 billion in lost business after its “bathroom” bill blocked transgender people from using facilities matching their gender identities. In addition, Gov. Pat McCrory lost his re-election attempt in the same year DDT won the state. Kemp, who signed the punitive Georgia bill the same day it passed, is up for re-election in 2022. To win, he will have to convince Georgia should return to the days of the Confederacy.

Georgia is leading the way for anti-voting bills in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, and companies in those states and others are responding with the same opposition as the ones in Georgia. Huge international businesses with headquarters in Texas such as American Airlines (Fort Worth) and Dell Technologies (Round Rock) are criticizing voter suppressions. Southwest Airlines and AT&T have already criticized these restrictive proposals.

After MLB backed out of Georgia, another 193 companies joined in a statement against states’ proposals threatening access to voting in almost all states. Signatures of CEOs include those from Armour, Salesforce, HP, Twitter, Estée Lauder, and Dow. Companies are called upon to testify in legislatures, withdraw financial support from lawmakers supporting anti-voting laws, and back federal election reform legislation.

Arizona temporarily pulled its anti-voting bill because the Republicans lost enough votes to pass it. A concern might be the potential loss of the 2023 Super Bowl, scheduled in Glendale (AZ).

Yet there is another side to new voting laws. With Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature, Virginia became the first state to approve a voting rights law, protecting state citizens against voter suppression, discrimination, or intimidation. It not only restores but also expands the provisions of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act overturned by John Roberts and his Supreme Court in 2013. A description of the state law:

“The Voting Rights Act of Virginia prohibits discrimination in elections administration, requires local election officials to get feedback or pre-approval for voting changes, and allows individuals to sue in cases of voter suppression. It requires localities seek public comment or pre-approval from the Office of the Attorney General on any proposed voting changes and empowers voters and/or the Attorney General to sue in cases of voter suppression. Civil penalties awarded as a result of voting discrimination will go towards a newly-established Voter Education and Outreach Fund.

“Additionally, the Voting Rights Act of Virginia prohibits at-large local elections if they dilute the voting power of racial minorities. It also ensures accessibility by requiring local election officials provide voting materials in foreign languages, as needed. The Governor’s minor technical amendments clarify that certain provisions apply to all localities not just “covered jurisdiction(s).”

Other provisions of the new law eliminate witnesses for absentee ballot signatures during public health emergencies, allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote for automatic addition to the rolls at the age of 18, permits curbside voting, moves municipal election voting from May to the November elections, and restores voting rights to people on parole or probation for a felony conviction and codify the restoration of rights to those who have fully completed their sentences.

Virginia also has same-day voter registration; a holiday for Election Day replacing one honoring Confederate generals; elimination of an excuse for absentee voting; permission to permanently receive absentee ballots; inclusion of ballots received three days after Election Day if postmarked by Election Day; extension of polling close on Election Day from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm; permission to use non-photo IDs and some out-of-state college IDS for voter identification; permission for municipalities to use instant run-off for local elections; mandatory hand-filled paper ballots or printouts of ballots; a bipartisan redistricting commission with nonpartisan redistricting criteria; and a ban on prison gerrymandering.

For equitable access to voting during the pandemic, Northam signed H.B. 1888 and SB 1245 requiring drop boxes, prepaid return postage, and ability to fix mistakes on envelopes for absentee ballots. Blind or vision-impaired Virginians can also receive the help they need to cast votes.

These laws should be passed in all states to maintain the GOP desire for “election integrity,” the false name for Georgia’s law.

  • Even Kentucky is passing election laws with “integrity”:
  • Three days of in-person voting on Thursday-Saturday before Election Day.
  • Permission to “cure” absentee ballots of problems such as mismatched signature.
  • Reinstitution of an internet system for requesting absentee ballots.
  • Permission for counties to have vote centers where people can turn in absentee ballots.
  • Secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots.
  • Phasing in paper ballots for electronic voting systems.
  • No-excuse early voting although people will again need an excuse for absentee voting.

Washington state automatically restores voting rights of people convicted of felonies after they are released from prison, and Delaware passed a House bill automatically registering voters when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Georgia has a history of blocking minorities from voting. Blacks attempting to register to vote and Whites attempting to help them were beaten and killed during the 1960s. Perpetrators of the crimes included the Ku Klux Klan and law enforcement officials. The current bills and laws to block ease of voting comes from the GOP evidence-free belief that Republicans cannot win elections if every eligible voter can vote without great difficulty.

Although Republicans have openly given this reason to justify their support of these bills, much of the publicity promotes DDT’s “big lie” about massive election fraud. The 2020 election was the most carefully guarded one perhaps ever, and no one—not DDT’s courts, Department of Justice, elected GOP officials, the FBI—could find systemic fraud. Hundreds of searchers and thousands of hours found under 100 cases of voter fraud among 161 million voters, and most of these were by Republicans.

In his bigoted response to the backlash against the Georgia law, ordained Baptist minister Mike Huckabee tweeted on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, celebrating Christ’s resurrection:

“I’ve decided to ‘identify’ as Chinese. Coke will like me, Delta will agree with my ‘values’ and I’ll probably get shoes from Nike & tickets to @MLB games. Ain’t America great?”

Ain’t religion great?

Today, April 4, is the 53rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s death. In Memphis (TN), the Black activist was shot and killed in his fight for Black people to have equal access to the ballot box. At the end of the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, King talked about “the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote.” In his 1957 “Give us the ballot” speech, he decried the “types of conniving methods” used by Southern elected officials to disenfranchise Black voters. Republicans are forcing the U.S. to come full circle, destroying the rights of all to vote, in little more than a half century.

March 29, 2021

Whither the GOP Filibuster

For the first time in four years, more voters, 46 percent, believe the U.S. is on the right track than the opposite. The economy is heading in the right direction, according to the 42-percent plurality of voters, a 13-percent improvement since January. Approval of President Joe Biden is still at 61 percent, and the pandemic management approval is 71 percent, up three points since February, all according to the new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. In January, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) received a 56-percent approval for the economy, his only rating above 50 percent, but Biden now has an approval of 60 percent on the economy and the same percentage for administering the government, compared to DDT’s rating of 49 percent approval.

Conservatives also struggle with the current popularity of For the People Act, the voting bill passing the House and waiting for Senate attention. A policy adviser for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and research director for the Koch-run advocacy group Stand Together, Kyle McKenzie, discovered “people were very supportive” by learning a “very neutral description” of the bill. McKenzie stated:

“The most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description. There’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.”

Even conservatives don’t want wealthy people buying elections through huge anonymous political donations. Unable to find persuasive arguments against voting rights, McKenzie told conservative activists the GOP senators need to use “under-the-dome” tactics to kill the bill. The bill could pass the Senate with a majority vote, but the current filibuster, enacted by any one senator sending in an email to protest a bill obstructs democracy by requiring 60 percent of the vote.

A simple Senate majority can change—even eliminate—the filibuster, but some Democrats are reluctant to agree. With Republicans determined to be intransigent enough to cause permanent gridlock for the 117th Congress, at least one senator, Angus King (I-ME), may be reversing his negative position toward a shift. In a WaPo op-ed, King wrote that he decided to support the filibuster because an opposing party could use it to erase important legislation as the Affordable Care Act. According to King:

“But this argument is sustainable only if the extraordinary power of the 60-vote threshold is used sparingly on major issues or is used in a good-faith effort to leverage concessions rather than to simply obstruct.”

King cited the voting rights protection to oppose the GOP “nakedly partisan voter-suppression legislation pending in many states” as a reason to fight the filibuster. He continued:

“If forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down. As new Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) noted on the floor recently, ‘It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate, while refusing to protect minority rights in the society.’”

Biden now supports the “talking filibuster,” opposition to a bill lasts only as long as the filibustering senator stands on the chamber floor and talks, and said the 60-vote requirement for any bill is “being abused in a gigantic way.” One exception to the filibuster, he said, is for laws “elemental to the functioning of our democracy—like the basic right to vote.” The biggest holdout to changing the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be willing to move to the talking filibuster.

The Senate has radically changed since Biden defended the filibuster as a new senator. Once rare, filibustering obstructionism is business as usual. The 44 cloture motions filed during the first two years of Biden’s senate career were relatively high for the time, but Republicans almost doubled in 1993-94 to kill Clinton’s agenda. In the 2007-2008 Democratic Congress, McConnell saw 139 filibusters filed, and the number topped 200 in 2013-2014 during President Obama’s second term. The 2019-2020 Congress saw 339 cloture motions in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have found a way around filibusters to fund Biden’s policy initiatives. The Senate allows budget reconciliation only once a year to permit a majority of senators to pass a bill, and the Democrats used the one time to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus relief law, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Passed in 1974, Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act, however, allows a simple majority to revisit and amend an already-passed budget resolution, such as ARPA. The parliamentarian will decide whether Section 304 permits more reconciliation bills tied to revenue, spending, and the public debt during Fiscal Year 2021, ending the end of September.

McConnell’s first response to doing away with the filibuster—which he did to get three far-right justices on the Supreme Court—was to threaten a “scorched earth” in the Senate, highly punitive actions to block every bill. Then he joined other senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Graham to play victim. Biden agreed with former President Obama about the filibuster being “a relic of the Jim Crow era”; and McConnell claimed the filibuster “has no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.” Historians taught McConnell he was wrong.

Both the longest single-speaker filibuster and the longest multiple-speaker filibuster in U.S. history tried unsuccessfully to block two non-discrimination laws, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964. The latter filibuster lasted 60 days before a bipartisan coalition stopped it. The 1957 law, the first federal civil rights legislation in almost 90 years, established a DOJ civil rights division and other measures to support the right to vote for Blacks. Virulent segregationist Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat until 1964, personally filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes, the longest speaking one by a single senator.

Other failures during the past century show the racist and bigoted use of the filibuster:

  • During the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction periods, senators filibustered against civil rights bills.  
  • Bills outlawing racist lynching, first introduced in 1922, didn’t pass until 2018, but the GOP House refused to take action.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 survived a filibuster, but Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) brief filibuster destroyed an extension to strengthen its provisions after a Supreme Court decision required proof of discrimination by covered jurisdictions. Even that weaker provision of the Voting Rights Act disappeared in John Roberts’ court, the 2013 decision permitting rampant racist discrimination by laws sweeping across the U.S.

Newly-elected Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), elected before his state passed a draconian set of anti-voting laws hurting his 2022 re-election chances if not overturned, described nationwide anti-voting laws as “Jim Crow in new clothes.” In his first speech on the Senate floor, he said about the requirement for 60 percent of senators to pass any legislation, “No Senate rule should overrule the integrity of our democracy.” He explained:

“I’m not here to spiral into the procedural argument over whether the filibuster in general has merits or has outlived its usefulness. I’m here to say that this issue is bigger than the filibuster. This issue, access to voting and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting, is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule, especially one historically used to restrict expansion of voting rights.

“It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society. We must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

Warnock denounced the 253 voter suppression bills in 43 states introduced since January as “democracy in reverse” and attempts by Republican politicians to “cherrypick their voters.” Warnock declared, “This cannot stand.”

Other losses from the filibuster:

  • A bipartisan piece of popular legislation including gun background checks from Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) after the horrific Newtown massacre.
  • Government shutdowns resulting from huge omnibus bills with multiple “riders” designed to get around filibusters.
  • Bad legislation from the reconciliation process, created by Ronald Reagan in 1981, to use a simple majority for passage.  
  • GOP refusal to undertake any bills alleviating climate change.

Norm Ornstein, a Democratic at a conservative think tank, suggests ways to honor minority rights instead of using the filibuster “as a weapon of mass obstruction.”

“Instead of having 60 votes required to end debate, have 41 required to continue with 41 members… Make the minority have to debate the actual issue. No reading Green Eggs and Ham to waste time.  You’d have to talk about why you are blocking, say, a universal background check bill supported by 94% of Americans.

“…Return to that ‘present and voting’ standard.  So it matters how many Senators actually show up.  If 20 of them don’t show up, you only need 48 votes to end debate. Again, make the minority do the work…

“Reduce the threshold to end debate outright. You could reduce it down to 55 Senators. But you could also be more creative. Former Senator Tom Harken’s idea was to step down the threshold as you debate a bill. So start with a level of 60 votes for a couple of weeks. And then lower the bar to 57, and then 54, and then 51. So ultimately the majority is going to have the ability to act, but there’s plenty of time devoted to the minority.”

The Senate is already rigged for the minority: the 50 Republicans currently in the Senate represent 41 million fewer people than the 50 Democrats. The Senate has been marked for inaction for years. It’s time to legislation to more forward, to do more than Republicans putting highly conservative and frequently inexperienced judges on the federal bench. And it’s time for Republicans to constructively work for elections rather than employing a system to “cancel voters.”

March 28, 2021

Biden’s Progress – March 2021

In this great piece, attorney and author Teri Kanefield addresses how dangerous the anti-voting Georgia law could be for Republicans. Her position is that the GOP attempt to win elections by carefully selecting voters could backfire on them. For example, after Wisconsin created voting hurdles in its primaries last April, people showed up in much larger numbers than normal to elect challenger Jill Karofsky over conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly for a state Supreme Court seat. Even conservative courts refused to overturn legal votes when Republicans tried to subvert the will of the people.

Kanefield points out that federal legislation can override draconian GOP laws because Congress has the ability to regulate federal elections, according to Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. In addition, the 14th and 15th Amendments block states from racial discrimination.

Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman posits that citizens are less likely to vote for a party passing “mean-spirited and anti-democratic laws.” What does it say about a party that prevents giving water to voters kept in lines of many hours?

Republicans trying to argue that President Joe Biden has dementia, were crushed by his first press conference in which he made no gaffes in his composed delivery. Some highlights: denying his policies are responsible for a surge of immigrants; keeping an “open mind” about the filibuster if the GOP consistently throws roadblocks in front of voting rights; and expecting to run for re-election with VP Kamala Harris. Biden called the massive GOP attempt to restrict voting access “un-American.” 

Biden called on 10 of 25 journalists during the press conference but hurt Peter Doocy’s feelings when he failed to call on him. (Biden also didn’t answer questions for The New York Times, Reuters, NPR, and Politico.) Fox network’s attempt to make its journalist a martyr to Democratic discrimination didn’t play well with the media outside its own house. In Doocy’s interview with White House press secretary Jen Psaki, he had to agree that she took questions every time he was in the briefing room, Biden has taken questions from Doocy, and for the third time in a few months she will be doing Fox News Sunday the next day. The martyrdom complaint came on the same day that Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit for $1.6 billion for lying to viewers about a stolen election, making it appear like a deflection.

In the Dominion lawsuit, Fox could use the same “Tucker Carlson Defense” that former lawyer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), Sidney Powell, employs. In Dominion’s $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell for her lies about the stolen election from DDT, she is claiming no one would take her claims seriously. A DDT judge has already ruled against a defamation lawsuit regarding Carlson by saying that no one should believe anything he says. About her frequent and public accusation about Venezuela being part of an election-rigging scheme, Powell said “no reasonable person would conclude” her statements were factual. Author Grant Stern tweeted:

“In deploying The Tucker Carlson defense, Sidney Powell is admitting that her credibility is completely nonexistent.”

If Fox network takes that approach, then everyone will know the truth: no one can trust anything said on the network.

Fox must be worried about Dominion’s lawsuit because host Laura Ingraham cut off DDT when he started delivering his lies about the election being stolen from him. She said he didn’t want to “relitigate” the election. DDT moved on to damn the U.S. Supreme Court which rejected three cases to invalidate election results in states he lost. Ingraham pointed out the high court had “a lot of Republicans.” In addition to Dominion’s $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox, Smartmatic, a company making voting machines, filed a $2.7 billion suit against Fox for hosts’ lies about the company fixing machines to elect Biden.

A few details from Jonathan Blitzer’s article on what Republicans call, the “border crisis.”

The last three men in the Oval Office faced humanitarian emergencies at the southern border; DDT was the most overwhelmed.

Currently, 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children are in U.S. custody, including 5,000 in holding cells, while the country searches for housing space. Silent during DDT’s separation of families, Republicans now shout “Biden’s border crisis” from the rooftops to divert attention from their refusal to help most U.S. residents. Biden is turning away all single adults at the border and 40 percent of asylum-seeing families under DDT’s Title 42 while the media blames Biden for encouraging migrants to come north. For example, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) lambasted Biden’s “humane treatment of immigrants.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced the border is closed, but about 550 children come to the border each day. DDT had more families and children seeking asylum at the border in 2019: Central America is also facing the pandemic as well as two devastating hurricanes last fall. Families seek escape from violence, poverty, and government corruption. Resolution of an asylum claim requires almost two and a half years, and DDT’s backlog of 1.3 million cases is 500,000 over those under Obama. By the end of his term, DDT left 70,000 asylum seekers in Mexico and turned away almost everyone at the border, including 16,000 children and 34,000 families. Children are not to be left in facilities maintained by HHS, responsible for placing them with family sponsors, for over 72 hours, but these are almost full, including nine more emergency shelters.

Biden’s administration is working on the problem with an intention to provide more aid to Central America and make the assistance circumvent corrupt officials. The government also wants to process children as refugees in their home countries, a program created by President Obama and eliminated by DDT. Biden is paying the price for DDT’s attempts to hide the “Trump border crisis.”

Pieces of Biden’s progress:

Despite opposition from Sens. John A. Kennedy (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Congress passed the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) past the March 31 deadline to the end of May with another month for application processing. Because many large businesses were fraudulently awarded these loans for small businesses under DDT, this law prioritizes smaller businesses, those in low income areas, and community financial institutions. The bill passed 92-7 in the Senate and 415-3 in the House.

DOJ has charged 474 people of COVID-related fraud in attempts to steal over $569 million. At least 120 of these people used lax oversight by DDT’s administration. Business owners inflated payroll expenses to get larger loans, and others revived defunct corporations or purchased shell companies with no operations to get loans. In Texas, a man submitted 15 fake applications for $24.8 million in loans for businesses with no employees or salaries. Other fraud is connected to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program with another $580 million seized in Colorado.

DHS, originally created to fight international terrorism, is making policy changes to detect and stop domestic violent extremism. Part of the plan is expanding ties to companies searching public data for intelligence and better using the data already being collected. One method is identifying people from social media behavior to find toxic messaging from foreign governments, terrorists, and domestic extremists, scrutinizing them for violence plans.

Biden has withdrawn DDT’s appeal of an earlier ruling to the DC Appeals Court banning DDT’s draconian work requirements to obtain food stamps. DDT’s rule would have created difficulties in states to waive these work requirements despite the increase of food insecurity for 700,000 people during the pandemic.

Biden wishes to cooperate with Russia and China on climate change at the global leaders’ climate summit where Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have been invited. Hosting the summit, held remotely on April 22 and 23, he plans to unveil a new carbon emissions target to the 40 world leaders.

The DHS Advisory Council of over 30 members has been dissolved and will be reconstituted with a new model. Gone are DDT’s appointments Ken Cuccinelli and Tom Homan as well as Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano. Priorities of the new council, using a demographic makeup to “look like America,” will be immigration, domestic terrorism, and cyber concerns. The past council providing independent advice to the secretary conducts research and provides policy analysis on security issues. Some former members may be called back.

During his mishandling of the pandemic, DDT forced the CDC to use anti-science disinformation supporting his positions. The current administration is cleaning up the “junk” it inherited. In charge is Dr. Anne Schuchat, the second in command who DDT shut up. She’s searching all CDC COVID guidance and advice published during the last administration to permanently kill it. Unfortunately, the mainstream media is still spreading evidence-free statements from former CDC director Robert Redfield, for example that COVID-19 came from a Wuhan lab. The media hasn’t pointed out that Redfield’s past research, one for a HIV vaccine, used data either “egregiously sloppy” or “fabricated,” according to a doctor at clinical pharmacology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  

And the Ever Given is still blocking the Suez Canal after five days.

March 23, 2021

Mass Shootings Cover Up Good News from Biden Administration

The focus of the news for the past week has been mass shootings—first the eight in Georgia primarily of Asian-American women and then another ten people killed at a grocery store/pharmacy in Boulder (CA). In these seven days, however, were five other mass shootings, defined as one with four or more wounded or dead casualties, in the U.S.: March 17, Stockton (CA) – five people preparing a vigil shot in a drive-by shooting with no life-threatening injuries; March 18, (Gresham (OR) – four victims taken to the hospital; March 20, Houston (TX) – five people shot inside a club, one in critical condition; and March 20, Philadelphia – one person killed and five injured at an illegal party where 150 people fled for their lives. The U.S. keeps no centralized system or database for firearm victims and mass shootings so no one knows whether an average daily mass shootings is typical. In 2019, almost 40,000 people were killed in firearm-related events.

A county judge revoked a ban on assault-style weapons in Boulder only ten days before ten people were killed, and the perpetrator bought his gun only six days earlier. As usual, Republicans opposed even the most popular remedies such as universal background checks, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced the Democrats are to blame for the shootings because they want control to prevent them. 

White supremacists and the extreme right, DDT’s base of voters, celebrated the Georgia mass shooting, including the murder of six Asian-American women, with posts dehumanizing people of Asian descent and praising the killer. Posts on a neo-Nazi Telegram site advocated for violence against Asian Americans, calling the murders “always a good thing.” A Proud Boys media group ridiculed protests against anti-Asian violence and promoted anti-Asian racism. Users of the main 8chan/pol successor forum also praised the attack, one person hoping the violence would force non-Whites to leave Europe and the U.S. A white supremacist strategy spreads footage of violence against people of Asian descent to brainwash Whites, “especially the youth.” White supremacists also celebrated the second anniversary of the March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack by posting the video of the attack, praises of the 51 murders in mosques, and calls for violence against Muslims.  

Georgia’s GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had no statement on the mass shooting in her state. Earlier, she had verbally attacked David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland (FL) school shooting killed 17 people and wounding another 17 people for his gun control activism. Greene had also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) deserves “a bullet to the head.” Colorado’s GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who produced a video advertisement with a gunshot at the end, sent prayers in a fundraising email two hours after the killings that encourages people to “tell Joe Biden … HELL NO” to gun control. 

Anyone who believes Boebert’s lie about her reason for carrying a gun needs the true story. She claims a man was beat to death outside her restaurant “by another man’s hands,” and she needs to carry a gun “to protect everyone.” The truth: a man involved in a fight with another man with a prosthetic leg ran from the scene, three blocks away from Boebert’s restaurant. A teenager helped the second man get his leg back, and the second man said the fight was about a woman. The first man ran several blocks away and was discovered after his fall with a glass pipe containing methamphetamine residue. Police saw no blood or other evidence of any deadly fight, and the autopsy report gave “methamphetamine intoxication” as the reason for death.

The news of the two worst mass shootings of the week concealed good news coming out of the White House:

The Affordable Care Act special enrollment period is extended to August 15, 2021, allowing people use the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with benefits such as the decrease of premiums after advance payment of increased tax credits up to $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. Four of five enrollees (up from 69 percent pre-ARPA) can find a plan for $10 or less per month after tax, and over 50 percent (up from 14 percent pre-ARPA) can find a Silver plan for $10 or less per month. One-fourth of ACA enrollees can pay the same or less than formerly to get better out-of-pocket costs. Consumers can use increased premium tax credits on high quality health care plans by enrolling through HealthCare.gov.

President Joe Biden reversed a policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by cancelling about $1 billion in student debt for those defrauded by their colleges. The loan forgiveness to 73,000 people eligible for this relief was reduced by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who gave only part forgiveness by changing the cancellation calculation. DeVos had also postponed over 200,000 borrower defense claims for four years by refusing to allow those in debt to hear whether they were eligible for relief.

Biden’s new Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, also granted Puerto Rico immediate access to $912 million in federal funds made unavailable to students in public and private schools by DDT’s restrictions. Funds included $302 million provided by the CARES Act a year ago for COVID-19 relief; other aid came from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. All fiscal year 2019 department program grant funds withheld by DDT totaled $522 million. Puerto Rican schools are now beginning to open.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is withdrawing DDT’s rule barring graduate students from joining a union: DDT had declared these students were not employees even if they were paid for teaching or research. DDT’s regulation took collective bargaining rights from 57,500 unionized graduate students and prevented another 1.5 million graduates from unionizing. In 2000, the NLRB gave graduate students at private universities the right to unionize and then reversed the decision in 2004. Twelve years later, the Board ruled graduate students were employees under the National Labor Relations Act and could thus join unions after students from Columbia University petitioned the NLRB. Graduate students can make as little as $20,000 a year, giving their employers the impression they aren’t workers.

In an ongoing GOP attempt to smear Biden, Republicans are running a campaign pushing the recent immigrant “border crisis” as his personal disaster. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) went so far as to say that the reason behind the attempts to migrants to cross the border comes from the current administration’s decision to treat them “humanely.” Conservative Bill Kristol begs to differ: he describes the situation as a recurring problem made worse by DDT. The history of these surges shows decades-old issues, and Biden inherited DDT’s huge mess after DDT dismantled the asylum system. 

A combination of John Oliver’s piece on Last Week Tonight and the murder of Asian-American women may have awakened Meghan McCain, daughter of deceased Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), to the understanding that words matter. After Oliver’s segment on the vast increase on the abuse of Asian Americans, McCain, often delivering her opinions on The View, apologized for repeating DDT’s racist rhetoric about the coronavirus’ relationship to Chinese people while he refused to contain the pandemic in the U.S.  McCain had said that DDT’s reference to “the China virus” was a clever strategy to win votes. When McCain tweeted last week about ending anti-Asian violence, Oliver clearly pointed out her hypocrisy. On his show, Oliver said:

“Oh good! Meghan McCain doesn’t have a problem with it. Listen, not to the scores of Asian Americans telling everyone that the term is dangerous and offensive. Instead, gather around and take the word of a white woman who’s dressed like she’s about to lay off 47 people over Zoom.”

In response, McCain said:

“I condemn the reprehensible violence and vitriol that has been targeted towards the Asian-American community. There is no doubt Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric fueled many of these attacks, and I apologize for any past comments that aided that agenda.”

The U.S. intelligence community has released a report that the U.S. election infrastructure in 2020 stayed secure despite Russian President Vladimir Putin promotion of DDT and Iran’s work to denigrate DDT. The U.S. has no evidence that any foreign actor tried to change any voting technology, “including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results.” Intelligence did discover Putin’s authorization to “influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the US.” These included lies to undercut Biden.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has asked new AG Merrick Garland to examine how thoroughly DDT’s FBI looked into Brett Kavanaugh for a background check before Republicans confirmed him for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault and several other misconduct allegations, but the four-day investigation was extremely incomplete. One concern was that witnesses wanting to share the accounts were rejected by the FBI, which had not assigned anyone to accept or gather evidence. Whitehouse also said senators were not given any information about processing or evaluating allegations on a “tip line.” In addition, DDT’s FBI Director Christopher Wray would not answer questions about the investigation.

And there’s more good news! Stay tuned in the next few days.

March 17, 2021

GOP Votes Oppose Help for U.S. People

Wednesday, 172 House Republicans voted in favor of domestic violence and opposed a law’s renewal to protect women. The Violence against Women Act, originally passed in 1994 and periodically requiring reauthorization, faces increasing struggles as Republicans oppose funding to protect women from domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. Objections this year came from ensuring accountability for non-tribal offenders on tribal lands and closure of the “boyfriend loophole,” barring stalkers from obtaining firearms. The bill includes housing vouchers to help survivors in federally-assisted housing to quickly relocate if necessary. Another provision permits people to obtain unemployment insurance if they must leave a job for their safety.

With COVID-19 forcing people to stay at home, domestic violence incidents have sharply risen within the past year, and organizations have offered more flexible texting services and housing assistance. One report shows an eight-percent rise in domestic violence, and another study shows an increase of injuries at emergency room patients from this violence.

The bill requires 60 Senate votes to pass because of the watered-down filibuster. Now, one person can announce a filibuster, and no action is taken until 60 percent of senators move it forward.  Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has already said that barring a stalker from owning a gun to menace a domestic partner with a gun is unconstitutional.

The lack of GOP support for women came the day after a young white man killed eight people in Georgia, six of them women of Asian descent. The reason, according to the killer, was an attempt to avoid “temptation” for his “sex addiction.” The killer was having “a bad day,” explained the officer, who has posted racist COVID messages on social media. He said that the alleged killer “was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope.” The young man was apprehended on his way to Florida to kill more women. He said he had frequented massage parlors and killed the people, seven of them women, for “vengeance.”

Organizations studying and tracking hate groups and violence described “male supremacy terrorism,” driven by aggrieved male entitlement and a desire to preserve traditional gender roles. Three years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism began tracking male supremacist ideology, and the Anti-Defamation League published a report called “When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy.” According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, the ideology’s two core beliefs are that “men are entitled to sexual access to women” and that “feminists are a malevolent force controlling society at the expense of men.” Men have used these beliefs to justify mass shootings at yoga and fitness studios frequented by women, the slaughter of 10 people in Toronto in 2018, and the 2011 shooting deaths of 77 people in Norway by Anders Breivik, who viewed feminism as a significant threat.

As right-wingers, led by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), used racist language to describe the global epidemic, Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 hate incidents including name-calling, shunning, and assault in the U.S. against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders during the past year. The number could be much higher because not all incidents are reported. Most were against women, in businesses, and on public sidewalks or streets, the report said. Other events included civil rights violations such as workplace discrimination or refusal of service and online harassment.

Last week, a 75-year-old defenseless Asian man was killed in Oakland’s (CA) Chinatown on his morning walk. A friend had warned him about the danger of being there because Asian people were being attacked. Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said that seniors were afraid to walk on the streets because of hateful attacks after political statements about the “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu.”

The suspected Georgia killer, who has confessed, was an active member with his parents in the evangelical church Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton (GA). Brett Cottrell, the youth and missions pastor from 2008 to 2017, talked about the killer’s participation “in everything we did.” Crabapple is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and theologically conservative with mostly white members. The group is opposed to “critical race theory, “intersectionality, and the social justice movement in Baptist circles.

In another House bill, passing by 413-12, the 12 self-professed “law and order” Republicans voted against giving the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police for their bravery on January 6 when insurrectionists stormed the building. According to the bill, the three medals would be displayed at the Capitol Police headquarters, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, and the Smithsonian. Naysayers said they opposed the terrorist attack being called an insurrection. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) lobbied for a bill with no mention of January 6 or the Capitol attack. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) didn’t want the medal to be displayed at the Smithsonian. In February, the Senate voted to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for putting himself in harm’s way to protect lawmakers and staff during the assault on Congress.

First, Republicans tried to block the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by unanimously voting against it. Almost three-fourths of people approved of ARPA, including 59 percent of Republicans, so those voting no tried to take credit for it. Now both President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, and their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, are crossing the U.S. to talk about the benefits while the IRS has already sent out 90 million relief checks of $1,400 each. Republicans and the media criticize Biden for not spending enough time talking with the media, but he has historically talked to both small and large groups of people.  

Republicans hoped voters would turn against the law; now they are concerned Biden will move forward with more approval of his agenda. The real GOP concern is the 2022 election, a little more than a year away.

The RNC struggles with refuting ARPA after supporting deficit-spending such as massive cuts for the wealthy and businesses plus giving hundreds of billions of dollars to large businesses in a bill supposedly to save people from the economic pain of COVID-19. Earlier this year, they were overwhelmed by the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and DDT’s impeachment for inciting violence.

People like ARPA because it benefits the middle class over wealthy people, helps with vaccinations, and supports the opening of schools. The GOP can only wish people will forget ARPA’s benefits before the election; Democrats are intent on that forgetfulness not happening. When Republicans try to take credit for ARPA benefits, Democrats say, “You voted against it.” Republicans are working on publicity about the immigrants at the southern border, but the issue has no connection to the relief bill.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin benefited Biden’s bill by stashing away “well over $1 trillion” at the end of DDT’s presidential term when he assumed the former White House would pass a sizeable relief bill. Almost 100 million people got their $1,400 checks within two days of ARPA’s signing instead of waiting two weeks as they did with DDT because he wanted his name on the check.

Even the House chaplain supported U.S. people in distress from DDT’s mismanagement of the pandemic. In a prayer, Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben asked God to forgive Republicans:

“For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, upended its economy and widened the chasm of partisan opinion, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite to attend to this national crisis…

“In failing to address the acrimony and divisions which have prevailed in this room, the servants you have called to lead this country have contributed to the spread of an even more insidious contagion of bitterness and spite.”

Her reference to the New Testament’s letter to the Colossians argued that “rather than employing the preventive measures of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” lawmakers have set that “armor” aside “in favor of argument, disparaging words and divisiveness.” In recalling the Gospel of Mark’s third chapter of “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” she said Congress stands “in need of healing and reconciliation.”

Kibben concluded:

“Merciful Lord, rebuild this House, that their labor will not be in vain.”

ARPA will stay in the news if Ohio GOP AG David Yost continues his lawsuit against the Biden administration. He claims the prohibition of this federal money to states and municipalities to offset new tax cuts is unconstitutional. Ohio receives $11.2 billion, but GOP Gov. Mike DeWine ordered $390 million in new spending cuts among state agencies. Leaders of 21 other red states wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the provision “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.” A White House official pointed out states aren’t blocked from tax cuts: they just need to replace the revenue without using stimulus funds.

Not all Republicans are stupid about ARPA money. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis to refuse all the money to the state. DeSantis has already made plans for spending his $10 billion.

February 23, 2021

DDT’s Lawsuits ‘the Rest of My Life’

With Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) out of Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court may stay out of his legal messes—at least for now. On Monday, the justices’ refused to block a lower court giving DDT’s financial records and tax returns, both personal and corporate, to New York City prosecutors. The grand jury will have eight years of tax returns, 2011-2018, for a grand jury investigation, and last July, the high court ruled 7-2 against DDT’s claim he was immune from prosecution while still in the Oval Office. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority:

“No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.”

This decision not to hear the appeals court case frees Manhattan DA Cy Vance to continue his criminal probe. Michael Cohen, DDT’s former personal lawyer, has claimed the Trump Organization committed insurance fraud, avoided taxes, and jacked up loan collateral by manipulating real estate valuations. New York state AG Letitia James is pursuing the same information for a civil probe. DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, and his bank, Deutsche Bank, said in the past they will release the information if subpoenaed.

Vance recently issued another dozen subpoenas for the investigation, including one for Ladder Capital Finance, one of DDT’s major creditors for commercial real estate holdings. DDT’s $160 million interest-only mortgage with Ladder on Trump Tower comes due in 18 months.  

Taking part in the inquiry is Mark Pomerantz, who both prosecuted and defended mob figures.

In another New York case, Manhattan prosecutors subpoenaed documents from an engineer working on the Trump-owned 200-acre Seven Springs Estate in Westchester County. In the past decade, DDT’s valuation of the property, purchased in 1995 for $7.5 million, ranged from $25 million to $291 million. In 2014, he deducted $2.2 million in taxes by claiming it as an investment property and then claimed a $21.1 million tax deduction for donating a conservation easement for 2015, not “reflected on applicable tax returns.” DDT tried to build a golf course on the property, but quit after local opposition, and then considered a development with 15 mansions.

DDT’s returns may not be public unless they lead to criminal charges. In that case, the documents could be evidence, allowing them to be public. If those charges lead to conviction, DDT can’t escape it with a pardon, even a secret blanket one he might have made before he left the Oval Office, because it’s a state, not a federal, charge.

In another rejection of DDT, SCOTUS refused to consider cases out of Pennsylvania to block a deadline for absentee ballots three days after Election Day which were postmarked by Election Day in cases from a legislator and from DDT to block Pennsylvania’s certification of election results. The disposition of absentee ballots either way would not have affected President Joe Biden’s win in the state.

Thanks to Fulton County (GA) DA Fani Willis, DDT may also face RICO, an anti-racketeering law to prosecute the mob, in trying to change Georgia’s majority to favor himself. Willis successfully used the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in a case against Atlanta teachers accused of organized cheating by falsifying student standardized scores to improve schools’ standing. Former Georgia public defender Ryan Locke said RICO is used “in a case where someone commits a number of crimes that all lead toward one common corrupt aim.” RICO can be used for using a legal entity, i.e., a government agency or public office, to break the law.

More fallout has come from 60+ frivolous lawsuits claiming, with no evidence, fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Both public officials and private companies want to hold DDT and his GQP (Grand QAnon Party) allies accountable for the rhetoric causing insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. Federal rules prohibit lawyer participation in frivolous suits or use of litigation for such improper purposes as to delay or harass. Laws prevent attorneys from lying in court. Judicial sanctions to discourage bad practices could be monetary penalties or references to disciplinary action.

Michigan and Detroit asked a federal judge to sanction attorneys filing lawsuits falsely alleging fraud in the election. Al Schmidt, GOP Philadelphia City Commissioner facing threats with falsehoods about fraud in vote counting, asks for reconciliation. “Moving on isn’t enough,” he said. Last Friday, a federal judge in D.C. referred a lawyer for possible disciplinary action.

In Wisconsin, lawyers representing the state council of the Service Employees International Union requested a criminal investigation about ten false Wisconsin electors who secretly met at the state Capitol in an attempt to appoint themselves electoral voters for DDT. On the same day Wisconsin convened electoral representatives representing the state’s voters, the illegitimate group signed fake certificates of election with DDT’s name and sent them to federal and state officials. The six laws possibly broken include forgery and falsely assuming the role of public officer.

In New York, Stephen Gillers, a NYU law school professor, helped draft a complaint to investigate DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s conduct and possibly revoke his license to practice law in the state. State rules prohibit lawyers from “conduct that adversely reflects on the lawyer’s fitness as a lawyer.” A court can suspend the lawyer’s license on an interim basis while the disciplinary process is being resolved, sometimes three to four years.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MI), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, is suing DDT, Giuliani, and members of two extremist groups, the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, on the basis of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan law banning violent interference in congressional duties. His representation, NAACP, said other congressional members may join.

Two election technology companies filed multibillion-dollar defamation suits against DDT’s allies for telling lies about the software and equipment. Dominion Voting Systems, with $1.3 billion defamation lawsuits against lawyers Giuliani and Sidney Powell, has a new $1.3 billion suit against the MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Dominion claims Powell has been evading service of its suit. Smartmatic’s lawsuits have forced conservative media into reversing its lies.

While DDT prepares for his first speech since leaving Washington for Mar-a-Lago, possibly to announce his presidential candidacy in 2024, he fears he will be sued for the rest of his life—sort of like his life before the White House. A few non-political cases:

Former journalist E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit is still active. After the statute of limitations for rape expired, she is suing DDT for defamation because he said she lied about a rape in a New York department store. Former AG Bill Barr tried to move the case from state to federal court and assign DOJ lawyers to defend DDT, but the new administration dropped that effort.

A one-time contestant on DDT’s former TV reality show The Apprentice, Summer Zervos, has requested a continuation of her suit now that DDT, presently a private citizen, no longer has protection from a deposition regarding alleged sexual assault.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, once a close friend of DDT who advised him for his campaign, is considering a lawsuit because DDT repeated—and falsely—called Scarborough a murderer.

DDT may be in financial trouble despite grifting throughout four years in the White House. Vornado Realty Trust, owning 70 percent of two first-class commercial buildings in New York and San Francisco, may force DDT to sell his 30 percent stake at a discount. With control over DDT’s cash flow, Vornado can withhold money from DDT, who desperately needs the funds to pay for his loan. After a decade, DDT has owned a share worth $784 million with a $285 million share of the debt. Almost $400 million in DDT’s debt partially backed by Trump International Hotel (Washington, D.C.) and the Trump National Doral Golf Resort (Miami) comes due in 2023. Without money to maintain the facilities in good shape, he loses the ability to attract future business.

Since DDT left the White House, members are leaving Mar-a-Lago because of bad food and a depressing atmosphere, lacking even entertainment. Calling DDT an “employee,” however, Palm Beach allows DDT to live at Mar-a-Lago, despite his agreement in 1993 to not stay there for longer than seven days at a time and only three times a year. Neighbors still oppose his residence there.

DDT lost over $120 million in revenue last year, according to his financial disclosure forms, the worst losses at his D.C. hotel, down over 60 percent, and Doral Resort, dropping 44 percent. Revenue amounts for 47 companies declined over 35 percent, and banks and law firms are cutting ties with DDT’s businesses. Gone are three of four banks with DDT’s largest deposits. Even a small event like the triathlon at DDT’s golf course outside Charlotte canceled when the January 6 Capitol attack caused sponsors and vendors to drop out. The event’s founder had canceled another event almost four years after DDT’s comment about “very fine people” among white supremacists,  but he came back to lose again.

And DDT’s supporters think he’s a good businessman.

February 10, 2021

Impeachment Day Two, Horrifying Images

The U.S. House continued its part in the second impeachment of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) on Wednesday with startling new revelations about how close congressional members and staffers in the Capitol came to physically being attacked by the mob on January 6. The case is based on DDT calling people to come to Washington, D.C. on January 6 to block the peaceful counting of votes for the president with his continued claims the election of Joe Biden as U.S. president was rigged. Once his supporters arrived, as DDT told them to do, he ordered them to go to the Capitol and stop the reading of the votes, to “fight” for their country.

DDT has refused to be a witness at the trial, but the presentation of a great number of tweets and videos starring him are front and center, making him a defacto witness in the Democratic prosecution. After Democrats spend one more day defining DDT as “inciter in chief,” the Senate can vote on whether either side will request actual witnesses.

Amidst the newly-released terrifying videos showing how close congressional members and their staffers were to being physically attacked and possibly killed, one of the House Democratic presenters talked about DDT’s order for his violent supporters to go from his rally at the Ellipse south of the White House, where people had a permit to be, and go to the Capitol.  

The rally was a big show, orchestrated by DDT who helped organize the speaking lineup and the music, but the permit for the event included no march. Another rally in Freedom Plaza also specified no march was authorized. After DDT got involved in the rally, the permit included an “activity overview” mentioning movement between the two sites. At his rally, DDT announced the march:

“We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

The organizer of the original speaking line-up before DDT involved himself, Dustin Stockton, said the plan was “to stay at the Ellipse until the counting of state electoral slates was completed.”

In another revelation, DDT’s tweet attacking VP Mike Pence was posted ten minutes after DDT learned Pence was removed from the Senate floor to save him from DDT’s mob. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) had told DDT about the Pence’s danger when DDT called Tuberville to delay the counting of votes. DDT tweeted:

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”

Outside the Capitol, the mob built a gallows; inside the mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence.” At one point, violent mob members were only a few yards away from Pence.

DDT’s campaign and joint fundraising committee provided at least $3.5 million directly to people and organizations participating in the January 6 demonstration, and name of at least three people and a firm paid by DDT’s campaign were on the permits.

Andy Kroll compared DDT’s impeachment trial strategy to QAnon conspiracy theories:

“It is admitted that after the November election, the 45th President exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect, since with very few exceptions, under the convenient guise of Covid-19 pandemic ‘safeguards’ states election laws and procedures were changed by local politicians or judges without the necessary approvals from state legislatures. Insufficient evidence exists upon which a reasonable jurist could conclude that the 45th President’s statements were accurate or not, and he therefore denies they were false.”

Because of insufficient evidence to disprove DDT’s unsupported claims about a stolen election, his claims must be true–according to his supporters. DDT and his allies lost more than 60 lawsuits in state and federal courts while winning one minor one. Judges and elected officials from both parties dismissed fraud or corruption. DDT’s own appointee, Judge Stephanos Bibas, wrote, “Calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific  allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Like other conspiracy theorists, DDT claims if one cannot fully disprove repeated claims, one cannot say they’re false. Joe Uscinski, a University of Miami associate professor and expert on conspiracy theories, calls his approach the classic defense of the conspiracy theorist. President Obama’s birth certificate never satisfied “birthers” who believed he wasn’t born in the U.S. Conspiracy theorists always claim that denials are tantamount to coverups. Inability to disprove a negative makes people believe their beliefs are true. A prime example: how do you prove Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction if you can’t find any weapons? Some people still believe the weapons existed because no one found them.

The Coup D’etat Project at the University of Illinois’ Cline Center for Advanced Social Research determined the events of January 6 are an “attempted coup d’état [by dissidents]: an organized, illegal attempt to intervene in the presidential transition by displacing the power of the Congress to certify the election.” The center defines “dissidents” as a “small group of discontents that can include former government officials, religious leaders, business owners or civilians.” Coup is a shortened version of “coup d’etat,” a French term that meaning the overthrow of the government beyond the bounds of legality. In 2013, the Cline Center defined a coup d’état as “the sudden and irregular (i.e., illegal or extra-legal) removal, or displacement, of the executive authority of an independent government.”

The three categories of coups:

  • Coup conspiracies: planned but thwarted before they start.
  • Attempted coup: actions taken but unsuccessful.
  • Successful coup – those achieving its goals.

The project’s database includes 426 realized coups, 336 coup attempts, and 181 coup conspiracies with the event on January 6 being an attempted coup. This one is only the second entry in the U.S., the first being a conspiracy in 1948 when members of the Communist Party planned to violently overthrow the U.S. government.

Three characteristics of the January 6 attempted coup:

  • One or more persons posing a credible threat to the legislative power to determine national policy: safety concerns from thousands of people advancing on the Capitol forced lawmakers to stop conducting constitutionally mandated business to be evacuated from the building.
  • Attackers trying to change who controls the government: the focus of “The ‘Save America March’ rally immediately before the attack was changing the results of the 2020 presidential election.
  • Elements of advance organization before the attack: one or more groups “carefully planned, equipped, and organized themselves for violent action.”

If other revelations encompass sitting government officials, the event would be an attempted auto-coup, defined by when “the incumbent chief executive uses illegal or extra-legal means to assume extraordinary powers, seize the power of other branches of government, or render powerless other components of the government such as the legislature or judiciary.”

Much has been said about the pathetic performance of DDT’s first defense lawyer, Bruce Castor, on Day One of the second impeachment trial. Conservative pundit Matthew Walther, however, made these comments about the second speaker:

“The main event from David Schoen was a rant about ‘cancel culture.’ He screamed about due process and insisted that his client, who has refused to take part in the proceedings, deserved the right to be there. He contradicted his partner by invoking the rights of accused persons in the British legal tradition. He used the phrase ‘insatiable lust.’ He insisted that by speeding up the trial process, Democrats were violating some deep but unwritten principles of the same common law that are supposed to be irrelevant here, albeit without noting that the timeline was accelerated with the cooperation of the Senate Republicans who will be voting to acquit Trump. He ended with a poem by Longfellow.”

Unfortunately, too, Schoen read Longfellow’s poem very badly. Walther wrote:

“Trump would have been better served having the My Pillow guy give a two-hour infomercial or having Ted Nugent perform ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’ live on the Senate floor.”

In another backlash from DDT’s long series election lies and misuse of his power, the recently-elected Fulton County (GA) Fani Willis DA has started a criminal probe into DDT’s attempts to overturn the election in that state with grand jury subpoenas to be sent out as soon as March. The investigation comes from DDT’s January 2 conference call to Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when DDT badgered the official into finding 11,780 more votes for him. He wanted to be the winner of the state’s election, but the change would have made no difference in the U.S. presidential election selecting Joe Biden. The complete call was taped, and Raffensperger’s office has its own inquiry, possibly leading to a referral to a prosecutor’s office. DDT had already called Georgia’s GP governor, Brian Kemp, pressuring him to call a special legislative session to flip DDT’s loss to a victory. DDT’s spokesperson Jason Miller claimed that a president’s call to demand more evidence-free votes from state officials  is not “improper or untoward.”

Because of the aftermath of DDT’s long-term mishandling of the COVID-19 disaster, 6,700 people have died from the virus since the impeachment trial began. 

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

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

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

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

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

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

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

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Majority:

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

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

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

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

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

January 5, 2021

January 5: Georgia Turns Bluer, GOP Plans Coup

Democrat Democrat Warnock has been declared winner of the Georgia senate seat to replace Kelly Loeffler, and Democrat Jon Ossoff has a small lead against David Perdue. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who always wants instant gratification, won’t be happy. Just like he wasn’t happy with his 62-minute telephone call to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to beg and demand the 11,780 votes to flip the state for him. He expects Raffenperger to “find” the votes and “recalculate.”

No knows who leaked the tape. Raffensperger admitted to taping the call, and several people participated in the conversation from DDT’s end. One source stated Raffensperger had said he wouldn’t release the tape of the call unless DDT “attacked him or misrepresented the call.” In a tweet, DDT accused Raffensperger of being “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions” about election fraud conspiracy theories, a falsehood according to the tape. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Raffensperger earlier this year and asked him to destroy ballots, Raffensperger said he was glad he had a tape of the call to prove Graham’s lying denial to ask for certification of Georgia for DDT. No matter who leaked the conversation between DDT and Raffensperger, DDT may have committed a crime. Steve Benen wrote:

“Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes were obviously a turning point in history. By most measures, these new revelations are considerably worse. The abuse is direct and unambiguous. The corruption is overt and deliberate. The recording is a bit like a glorified confession. We’ve known for weeks that Trump has been engaged in a lobbying effort, targeting state officials in the hopes that they’ll overturn election results he doesn’t like, but it wasn’t until yesterday that we heard the precise nature of his perverse pitch—which includes elements of madness, extortion, and fraud.”

GOP response? They have no problem with DDT’s criminal interference in a presidential election, but they are outraged by the leaking of the tape.

Since the general election, DDT’s followers believed the lies about election fraud, including a large number of congressional members—140 in the House and a baker’s dozen in the Senate—who then claim people who believe the GOP leadership lies about the concern regarding election fraud “deserve to be heard.” Like in 60+ losing court cases?  The only “reason” provided for widespread election fraud is that DDT couldn’t possibly lose the election. Fox network’s Tucker Carlson blames DDT’s loss on “virtually every power center on Earth [including] big business, Wall Street, the defense establishment, pharma, the permanent bureaucracy in Washington and above all, Silicon Valley.”

On January 6, congressional members hope to keep DDT in the Oval Office by protesting the states’ legal certification of Electoral College votes, forcing each chamber into a two-hour session for each protest. If one chamber—such as the House with a Democratic majority—accepts election votes, they remain valid. Several Republicans in the Senate have indicated disgust and dismay with the 13 trying to overturn the election in favor of DDT and promise to vote against the conservative opposition to democracy.

When the 117th House of Representatives was convened, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) challenged “the seating of members-elect from the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” (North Carolina’s vote was closer than Michigan’s, but the GOP doesn’t mind because DDT won North Carolina.) Roy pointed out the claims of election fraud could also taint the elections of representatives and senators from these states because the same process was used to elect them.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), elected as an independent after her state’s GOP ran another candidate, opposes the coup because she “swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution“:

“I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election. The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results.”

On his Facebook page, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) posted:

“When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters…

“The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking—first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election. They have unsuccessfully called on judges and are now calling on federal officeholders to invalidate millions and millions of votes. If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote.

“We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) mourned, “Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”

Other GOP congressional members are coming out to vote against the challenge, including Sens. Jim Inhofe (OK), Jerry Moran (KS), Tim Scott (SC), and Tom Cotton (AR).  

Leaders of the attempted coup to overturn the presidential election struggled to provide rationales for their seditious behavior. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who has lost court cases to reverse the election, said that if legal elections are not nullified, “it will mean the end of our republic, the end of the experiment in self-government.” About his defeats, he called for violence, for the losers to “be as violent as antifa and [Black Lives Matter].”

A coup leader, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) attacked Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) for “shameless personal attacks” and “unfounded claims” about many court cases and AG Bill Barr’s statement disproving election fraud. Toomey also wrote about democracy being “the right of the people to elect their own leaders.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized people for their opposition in overturning a legal election. He told them to “calm down” and “tone down the rhetoric.”

Members of the coup who appeared on television like Hawley and Rep Clay Higgins (R-LA) cannot cite any evidence of “election crimes.” Two of them—Cruz and Hawley—aim at a 2024 run for the White House if DDT ever gets out of the way. Even VP Mike Pence, another presidential wannabe, said he “welcomes” the opposition to Biden’s win. 

Monday, DDT told a rally audience “if [Pence] doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much” after he told the crowd Pence would overturn the election results in DDT’s favor. At a lunch with DDT, Pence tried to explain he may not have the power to block the electoral votes for Joe Biden’s victory despite DDT’s false claim “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” Pence knows his role on January 6 is to preside over the counting of the vote and read them without changing them. Yet DDT maintains:

“The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”

DDT prefers people believe the election was stolen from him instead of thinking he lost. Initially, DDT knew he lost, according to advisers, but a small group of insiders fed his delusion about erasing Biden’s win. Cleta Mitchell, an attorney advising DDT during his telephone call, left the law firm Foley & Lardner because its policy is not to represent “any parties seeking to contest the results of the election.”

The pro-coup Republicans in Congress use their MO of beating down the opposition with illegitimate arguments to destroy the reputations of Democrats. The GOP had ten hearings, one of them 11 hours long, about Hillary Clinton after four deaths at the diplomatic outpost at Benghazi. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blatantly stated the reason was to lower Clinton’s poll numbers. Now Republicans want a commission to audit already audited election results already examined in 60+ court cases where 80 judges, including some appointed by DDT, ruled no fraud.

Overturning the election doesn’t appeal to supporters of states’ rights who are opposed to the federal government making decisions, especially the U.S. president. Business leaders also know that this attempt decreases the stability of the nation: 200 leaders of the biggest companies signed a letter of protest to “thwart or delay” the electoral process.

Arrests of DDT supporters in Washington, D.C. for assault and carrying weapons started on Tuesday. The leader of the Proud Boys is banned in D.C. after his arrest for destroying a Black Lives Matter banner at an historic Black church in the city and carrying two “high-capacity firearm magazines.” D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser mobilized 340 National Guard members to help police after permission from the city’s National Guard commanding general Maj. Gen. William J. Walker and acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller. Guns are also banned “within 1,000 feet of First Amendment Activities” (aka protests) on January 4-7. The city also blocks openly carrying firearms, and licensing for concealed carry must be from the District of Columbia.

And the ignored COVID-19 surges. On January 5, 15 days before the inauguration, new infections in the U.S. are 226,593 and new deaths 3,543. Total deaths are 365,664—closing in on the 400,000 expected on Inauguration Day.

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