Nel's New Day

October 9, 2022

News – October 9, 2022 (Some Hopeful)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17, 2022

Loss of Democracy on Constitution Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now if only the Supreme Court would learn these rights.

July 15, 2022

News – Week of July 15, 2022

More January 6: The House January 6 investigative committee plans a primetime hearing on July 21. The committee also issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service requesting records that a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee said were mistakenly erased.

More Musk: Elon Musk thinks he can force Twitter to pay $1 billion when he reneges on his $44 billion deal to buy the company, but his banks have signed a deal with him to put up the acquisition money. Both Musk and the banks may have trouble breaking their commitment letters. Bank of America, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley aren’t responding to questions.

More Antiabortion: Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R), a former majority leader now running for state Senate, emailed over 100 legislators that a woman’s womb “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.” He expanded his argument to the local media stating that there is only one organ in a woman’s body “that is not there to serve a purpose for her and that is her womb.” 

The media got excited when obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be joining his party policies. As usual it was wrong. Manchin, a millionaire supported by fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries, followed his pattern of appearing to negotiate before reneging on any agreements. Just like the Republicans for the past decades, he makes promises if Democrats eliminate important provisions and then fails to follow through after they appease him, this time backing down on legislation regarding climate change, tax legislation, lower prescription drug prices, and an extension of enhanced Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsides for two years. Manchin dumped an agreement that would have raised about $1 trillion in revenue by Rolling back 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big business could have raised about $1 trillion with half the money shrinking the deficit that DDT raised by $7.8 trillion in just four years. Savings from negotiating down prescription drug prices would fund ACA subsidies.

Immediately after Travis Herzog, a Texas meteorologist, warned his audience about power outages, the studio lights went out from a power outage. The rolling blackout was not planned, but engineers switched to generators to stay on air. State-controlled electricity returned in two hours before another power outage. Herzog was describing the extreme heat causing outages. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott had a lot to say about the 53 immigrants who died in a tractor trailer after human traffickers abandoned them in San Antonio but about his failing electric power grid, not so much. 

Eighteen months ago, Abbott’s failures with the power source independent of the U.S. killed hundreds of people in the power outage; now the grid operator wants Texans to turn off appliances during the afternoon in the state producing more natural gas than any other in the nation. In a tight re-election race with Beto O’Rourke, Abbott had promised the grid was fixed after 702 people died in the cold but hasn’t mentioned ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) since early February when he went on social media to praise the power organization designed to avoid federal regulations. The Texas governor appoints three of four state Public Utility Commission members which has co-oversight of ERCOT with the GOP-dominated state legislature.

In mid-May, the grid’s operator asked users to conserve energy because six power plants went offline with no explanation amid soaring temperatures. Excuses during the winter were frozen equipment; legislation was directed to making the grid more resilient in the cold. Nine months ago, an investigation by NBC News and the Texas Tribune found a vulnerable grid with new regulations permitting companies to avoid improvements. Nothing has been done to repair the problem of keeping enough natural gas for the electric plants.

ERCOT’s pricing strategy during February 2021 caused Brazos Electric, a cooperative operating four plants, to go bankrupt instead of passing along a $2 million bill for a few days of power to members and consumers. Brazos took the Texas power system to court, and former ERCOT CEO Bill Magness testified that Abbott was responsible for maximum costs days after the system was back in business, $9,000 per megawatt hour, over 150 times higher than the average price, hoping big business would cut back on usage. Stuck with same price, all consumers got the same price, and household bills were well over $15,000 for one month of power. The problem of natural gas shortages was ignored

Record temperatures in the 110s and high humidity, called “extreme” and “dangerously hot,” continue to cover Texas. The 105 degrees in Houston matched its highest July temperature recorded. Solar energy works well under the scorching sun, but stagnant winds under the heat dome limit wind generation to about 10 percent of capacity. Other states suffering from these problems could borrow energy from the rest of the U.S., but Texas’ independence makes it helpless. Led by conservatives such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Texans ignore the problems from climate change. 

Abbott has been using his “Operation Lone Star” for his re-election campaign, a state-run border control program, but the DOJ is now investigating it for civil rights violations. He assigned over 10,000 National Guard members to act as federal border agents although they have no authority to apprehend or incarcerate migrants crossing the border without legal documentation. Deployed National Guard members state they are being misused, forced to leave their families and jobs to stay idle. For media attention, Abbott performed actions such as busing migrants to Washington, D.C. from the southern border, much to the appreciation of the migrants. Instead of arrests for border and drug issues, the charges were largely trespassing when officials ordered migrants onto private property and then arrested. Jailed without charges for weeks, some of the migrants have filed a class-action lawsuit.

Republicans are building their fascist reputation by inviting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to open the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas (TX) from August 4-7. Headlining CPAC held in Hungary last May, he outlined the 12 ways leaders can capture and consolidate power, including the control of media’s information. He silenced Hungarian independent media and controls all the nation’s television, newspaper, and online media outlets. Orbán also took control of the judiciary and attacked the few financial institutions not under the control of his far-right Fidesz Party. In Dallas, he will share the stage with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and possibly DDT who admires Orbán’s authoritarian leadership style. CPAC stated that Orbán is the “leading voice” in Europe fighting for his people and “everyone who believes in national sovereignty.”

Dominion Voting Systems issued a subpoena to former AG Bill Barr, requiring him to testify in its defamation lawsuit against Fox network. Barr had told the House January 6 investigative committee that he believed the lies about fraud claims regarding Dominion voting machines were “complete nonsense.” Dominion has also subpoenaed DDT’s allies such as attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also being sued for defamation by Dominion. Fox has claimed that its fraud accusations are protected by the First Amendment but lost its motion to dismiss the case in December 2021. The trial is scheduled for April 2023. Dominion has filed at least eight lawsuits concerning the conspiracy theory after the 2020 election, including Fox’s parent company Fox Corporation after the company refused to give Dominion documents from Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan.

DDT’s former national security adviser John Bolton talked about the work needed to “plan [a] coups d’état” but excused DDT by saying he didn’t really mean to “overthrow the Constitution.” Bolton cited the unsuccessful attempt to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro when DDT recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as interim president. Maduro stayed, and Bolton was fired.

Between 1947 and 1989, the U.S. attempted 72 times to change another nation’s government, including 66 covert operations, not including pre-Cold War interventions in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Cuba.  Obviously, Bolton was too young for those in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Syria (1949, 1956, and 1957), Cuba (1959), Congo (early to mid 1960s), Vietnam (1964), and Chile (1973) after Bolton was an aide to Spiro Agnew in 1972. In the 1980s, Reagan secretly worked to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua by supporting the Contras. During George H.W. Bush’s administration, the U.S. invaded Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega, and in 1991, the U.S. invaded Iraq while Bolton was still in the State Department. He later advocated for Bill Clinton to send troops into Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and succeeded with George W. Bush in 2003, pushing the myth of WMDs. Bolton would have been involved with military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and argued after 20 years that Joe Biden should not have pulled out of the country. 

World leaders took note of Bolton’s coup offhand remarks. Evo Morales, former Bolivian president ousted from office in 2019, tweeted Bolton’s remarks showed that the U.S. was “the worst enemy of democracy and life.” Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, called for an international investigation into Bolton’s statements. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “This is no surprise. The admission simply shows that interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and overthrowing their governments have become the standard practice of the U.S. government.” Turkish media supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tied Bolton’s coup comments to the failed attempt to overthrow the Turkish government in July 2016.

Now Republicans are trying to overthrow the U.S. government.

June 25, 2022

The Blame Game Continues in Uvalde

The last victim has been buried after an 18-year-old used his newly-purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to kill 19 small children and two teachers on May 24 in a Uvalde (TX) classroom. Reasons for how it was allowed to occur have grown murkier because officials keep changing their answers and concealing the problems. Searching for answers, the relative of a victim, a local chaplain, and journalists were even forced to leave City Hall this past week before a closed-door hearing of the Texas House of Representatives and law enforcement because an official felt “intimidated.” Uvalde law enforcement stopped briefing the public about the shooting and refuse to respond to the media about surveillance footage, 911 calls, and bodycam.

Uvalde’s mayor Don McLaughlin accused state authorities of scapegoating local law enforcement and cherry picking details about state’s response to the massacre. He said Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, “continued to … lie, leak … mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response.” He said he would release information about the investigation and that “the gloves are off,” yet city officials wouldn’t comment on the probe.

After early reports from the state department needed to be corrected, the agency stopped public briefings for a week. One revision was how the shooter gained entrance into the school through a door with a faulty lock after erroneous initial accusation of a teacher leaving the door open. The conflict may also come from McCraw’s statement three days after the shooting that the school district police chief PetebArredondo was in charge of police response and made the “wrong response” in not immediately confronting the shooter. McLaughlin immediately asked for an investigation from the federal DOJ, independent from the one by the Texas Rangers. The State House inquiry makes three separate probes.

No longer providing updates on the shooting, Uvalde law enforcement officials have hired a private law firm to block the release of public records about the shooting that contain “highly embarrassing information.” A legal loophole allows them to refuse the release if no one has been convicted of the crime. Killed by a Border Patrol tactical team, the shooter can never be convicted.  

In a special State Senate committee hearing, McCraw described the law enforcement response an “abject failure” where the on-scene commander placed the “the lives of officers above the lives of children.” McCraw said, “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander.” Three officers armed with rifles, pistols, and body armor arrived outside the unlocked classroom three minutes after the shooter entered the school, and Arredondo said they had to wait to get keys to a locked classroom door before entering. McGraw said that neither video nor interviews had evidence that anyone checked the doors and that law enforcement could have entered through the windows. Arredondo’s decision delayed entering the classroom for almost an hour.

Arrendondo said he did not consider himself in charge, but McCraw said, “If you’re going to issue commands, if you’re going to direct action, you’re the on-scene commander.” The delayed confrontation with the gunman was “antithetical to everything we have learned over the past two decades since the Columbine massacre” in 1999, according to McCraw.

After the city council rushed to swear in Arrendondo, elected before the shooting, Council members voted to not offer him a leave of absence. He has not attended any meetings since his swearing in, and he will be forced to leave the Council after missing three consecutive meetings without being excused. Members of the Uvalde have called for his removal.

After almost a month after the massacre, the Uvalde school district has put Arrendondo on administrative leave after allegations against him. Uvalde school superintendent Hal Harrell didn’t give a reason for the action. No one confirmed whether the leave was paid, and “personnel decisions” won’t be made until the investigation is finished.

The Texas Tribune collected other revelations about the shooting: 

  • Officers doubted the decision to wait.
  • Communications and tactics suffered breakdowns.
  • Law enforcement delayed confrontation although they knew people were injured and possibly dying in the classroom.
  • Officers had sufficient firepower, equipment and motivation to breach the classrooms.
  • Footage and records show a well-equipped group of local officers entering the school amost immediately were pulled back after the shooter started firing inside the classroom and then waited over an hour.
  • The shooter was seen walking unobstructed into the room and then going in and out at least three times.
  • Up to 19 officers were outside the classroom while the shooter was inside, and 60 law enforcement officials were around the school during the shooting. 

The Tribune also gives a timeline beginning when the planning of the shooter and after he arrived on campus.

In mid-June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and state agencies fought the release of any information clarifying the contradictory statements. DPS claimed that releasing bodycam footage would provide criminals with “invaluable information” about its investigative techniques, information sharing, and criminal analysis. Republicans have claimed that the shooter’s gun making no difference in the number of deaths, that he could have killed them all with a bat, a theory that McGraw refuted. Texas AG Ken Paxton has 45 days to consider requests from government and law enforcement officials to withhold records from the public. Both Paxton and Abbott are up for re-election in four and a half months.

The day after the Uvalde shooting, Abbott, who has been obsessed about the immigrants on the southern border, said that the shooting “could have been worse.” Yet during his seven years as governor when firearms were loosened, gun deaths for children 17 and under grew from 54 in 2015 to 146 in 2020. Avoiding the topic of guns, Abbott outlined the topics for his special legislative committee for shooting solutions.

Paxton doesn’t even have a solution for mass shootings. Asked what he would Texas lawmakers, who have legislated looser and looser gun laws, have a variety of solutions. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz wants to “harden” schools, limited the buildings to only one door in and out. Others want to arm teachers or train students to fight shooters or to provide body armor for all students and educators. Other suggestions are taller fencing, tripwires, and metal detectors. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) recommends more “prayer.” Their ideas have not worked in the past and have nothing to do with restrictions of guns, but Republicans repeat past ideas.

With no solution for mass shootings, Paxton said he would tell families of the victims, “God always has a plan. Life is short no matter what it is.” After Texas lawmakers heard heart-wrenching testimony from the family members, only five Republicans voted to raise the age to buy semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21 and toughen the loose gun laws. Paxton did recommend arming teachers, adding to their multiple responsibilities beyond educating their students. 

As usual, Paxton said, “We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things.” Federal law prevents Paxton from buying a gun because he has been under indictment since 2015 for breaking state securities law.

A review of 89 journal publications and media reports by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University found no help relief from armed school resource officers, restrictions on the number of school exits, active-shooter drills, and arming teachers and school personnel. The researchers concluded that the “ideal method for eliminating school firearm violence by youths is to prevent them from ever gaining access to firearms,” adding that “unfortunately, studies have found an alarming rate of firearms accessible to youths.”

Despite the majority of Texans supporting universal background checks, including at gun shows and from private sellers, the GOP legislators reject the idea. In February 43 percent of Texas wanted stronger gun laws while only 16 percent want to loosen them. The Texas GOP also rejects red flag laws, a process by which courts can temporarily take guns from people judged to be a danger to themselves or others, and safe storage laws requiring guns to be locked when stored. Reducing mass shooting by ten percent reduces homicides by 20 percent.

The media protects people from the horror of the mass shooting aftermaths. In Uvalde, dead children had to be identified through DNA because they were “pulverized” and “decapitated,” according to a doctor who saw the bodies. Only green sneakers revealed the identity of one victim. In the argument of whether this protection should continue, Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2017, wrote, “We need an Emmett Till moment.” Till was a 14-year-old Black shot in the head after being tortured for lipping off to a white woman in Mississippi. It was August 1955. Till’s mother insisted on an open casket to show the bloated, mutilated body left in a river by two White men later acquitted of the crime by an all-White Mississippi jury.

Johnson wrote, “Something graphic is required to awaken the public to the real horror of these repeated tragedies.” He cites other horrific images of brutality showing what words cannot describe. If the six Supreme Court justices had seen these images, would they have so casually lifted New York’s commonsense gun safety law passed 109 years ago?

Uvalde had “good guys with guns,” like Republicans and the NRA recommend; they just didn’t use them. What is needed is bad guys without guns.

May 20, 2022

Republicans Fight Democrats, Each Other

A week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had his time in the sun by single-handedly blocking the $40 billion Ukraine aid package, the Senate passed the House bill by 86-11. Eleven Republicans, 22 percent of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill: Marsha Blackburn (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Bill Hagerty (TN), Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Roger Marshall (KS), Paul, and Tommy Tuberville (AL). All 57 dissenters to the bill in the House vote 368-57 are Republicans. 

About the serious shortage of baby formula, Republicans claim that President Joe Biden is doing nothing about the problem or women should breastfeed so they don’t need the formula.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), among the House leadership, called Biden and other Democrats “pedo grifters.” She blamed the shortage on Biden’s economic policies instead of mismanagement by one of the four monopolizing manufacturers with dirty conditions and massive expenditures on the company’s stock. Republicans ignore Biden’s actions solving the shortage:

  • Invoking the Defense Production to speed up the production.
  • Authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to bring more imports for overseas.
  • Requiring suppliers to fulfill orders from baby-formula producers before other customers.
  • Making a deal with Abbott Nutrition for them to manufacture baby formula if they clean up the plant where it’s made.

His ideas seem much better this one from Republicans, introduced by Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott: starve migrant infants so that white infants will have the formula. Or Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), allegedly accused of sex trafficking minors, who wants to deny fomula to infants in poor families and save it for “hard-working Americans.”

The House appropriated $28 million in emergency funds for the baby formula shortage, but only 12 Republicans supported the bill. Stefanik, a new mother who uses baby formula, was not one of them, but she did vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act, temporarily waiving exclusive contracts between states and baby formula manufactures for six million people enrolled in the Women, Infants, and Children program. Nine other Republicans, however, voted against that bill: Andy Biggs (AZ), Laurie Boebert (CO), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Paul Gosar (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Clay Higgins (LA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX).  Stefanik’s own bill was for more foreign imports of the product. 

The Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act but didn’t take up the funding bill.  

The U.S. House also passed a bill 217-207 permitting Biden to issue an energy emergency declaration blocking gasoline and home fuel price gouging. Despite the huge hue and cry from the GOP about inflation, no Republicans voted for the bill, and it has little chance of getting the necessary 60 percent of votes in the Senate. Four House Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the bill: Reps. Jared Golden (ME), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Stephanie Murphy (FL), and Kathleen Rice (NY). 

The partisan vote in the House of 222-203 on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 shows how the GOP supports white supremacy.

Republicans hate globalization and want to bring home manufacturing, but Senate Republicans will likely drop a small program to train workers in new careers if they lose jobs from offshoring. GOP legislators say the U.S. is not working on new trade deals with other countries although old trade deals are still in effect. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stated that Republicans care very little “about people getting laid off because of bad trade deals and tax policy that encourages jobs to go overseas.”

As frustrated as Democrats are with the GOP, Republican splits are causing dissension within the party. Hardline tactics of the highly conservative House Freedom Caucus have forced recorded votes instead of voice votes on what should be noncontroversial bills; legislators forced to stay for the voting can’t leave to do other business. A heated confrontation during a 2.5-hour voting on 13 measures led to raised voices from Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and caucus members Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA), the current chair. Witnesses reported that Rogers promised consequences for the Freedom Caucus members if they continue delaying tactics. Beyond virtuous comments about the need to review all legislature, the Freedom Caucus bragged that they slow down the Democrats’ “agenda.” Suspension bills need a two-thirds’ vote to pass, and some are failing because of GOP opposition. One required the VA to provide contraceptives without co-pays. The bill later later passed after the normal rules process. In another bill, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the only member of the House to oppose a resolution calling on leaders to condemn anti-Semitism.  

The House January 6 investigation committee is heating up the media with more information about who worked to overturn Biden’s presidential election. With evidence that Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) led a tour of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021, the committee wrote him, asking for his testimony. GOP legislators had claimed that security footage shows “no tours, no large groups, no one with MAGA hats on” in the complex on the days before the insurrection. The committee wants to know about “individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.”

Both Loudermilk and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IA) denied any tour like that, stating “a constituent family with young children meeting with their Member of Congress in the House Office Buildings is not a suspicious group or ‘reconnaissance tour.’” They added, “The family never entered the Capitol building.” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused Republicans of leading tours to people using them to help interrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. She didn’t provide any names, and Loudermilk called anyone in Congress who made these claims “morally reprehensible and a stain on this institution.” He asked the House Ethics Committee to “take quick and decisive action to ensure this never happens again.” The committee’s evidence contradicts these denials and raises questions about Loudermilk’s tour and its purpose. He is also among those texting former chief of staff Mark Meadows to overturn the election.

Note that Loudermilk and Davis lied with their claim of “no tours” for the past 16 months.

New committee findings include official White House photos from January 6 showing Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) activites on the day. The probe is also targeting DDT’s 11:20 am phone call with then-VP Mike Pence in a final push for him to overturn the election and DDT’s 2:24 pm attack tweet, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.” At that time, the Secret Service was rushing Pence into an underground Capitol loading dock for protection from the mob. The committee perceives this tweet as the driver of the mob’s fury and worst violence as well as DDT’s indifference to it.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder/chair of the Oracle software company and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call with Fox’s Sean Hannity, DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow, True the Vote’s attorney James Bopp Jr., and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) focusing on strategies for overturning the election. Ellison’s part may have been to assess Sidney Powell’s false claims about voting machines. He has been an active participant in a number of DDT’s conspiracy theories.  

Powell, well-known for her evidence-free claims of election fraud in multiple court cases, is now providing financial support for high-profile insurrectionists through donations to her non-profit, Defending the Republic. One of them, Kelly Meggs, is an Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy charges who has a new lawyer after her former one, Jonathan Moseley, was disbarred in Virginia for improper billing practices. In 2009, Virginia suspended his law license for frivolous discovery requests and false statements about the judge in the case. On January 6 he was in a restricted area at the Capitol but said he didn’t notice.

Known as the “Kraken,” Powell is also paying to defend Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and another Oath Keeper, Kenneth Harrelson, from the network of militia-style groups created in 2009 after Barack Obama’s first presidential election. A few dozen face criminal charges for the January 6 insurrection, and 12 of them have been charged with seditious conspiracy for allegedly plotting to use violence to stop the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Powell was responsible for a far-reaching set of conspiracy theories about the non-existent election fraud from billionaire George Soros to the involvement of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who died in 2013. The committee subpoenaed Powell, and Dominion Voting Systems is suing her for $1.3 billion. She is also facing disbarment in Texas from allegations that she violated rules of professional conduct prohibiting attorneys from making false statements, using false evidence, bringing frivolous lawsuits, and taking a position that causes “unreasonabl[e] delays” or “burdens” and “engag[ing] in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Another DDT shyster lawyer and architect to overturn Biden’s election, Rudy Giuliani, testified to the House committee for nine hours.

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas pushing two Arizona state lawmakers to overturn Biden’s win in that state by picking their own electors contrary to the popular vote. The justice is also godfather to the son of Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, married to one of the lawmakers, and the lawmaker, Shawnna Bolick, is a candidate for the secretary of state. Incestuous? Definitely a loss of democracy for Arizona’s voters if she’s elected.

May 15, 2022

Republicans: The Cult of Death

David Barnhart, a pastor in Alabama, wrote the following about the anti-abortion, so-called “right-to-life” movement banning abortions:

“’The unborn’ are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.”

The anti-abortion movement—actually the anti-choice movement because they don’t want to give rights to people—calls itself the “right to life,” but it’s actually only rights for the human zygote, embryo, or fetus. Conservatives’ respect for life by conservatives disappears at the instant a fetus emerges from the uterus. From then on, they embrace death:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants to starve migrant babies held in custody for crossing the southern border because selfish baby formula manufacturers have caused a shortage.

New state anti-abortion laws block treatment for ectopic pregnancies in the fallopian tube, cervix, abdominal cavity, ovary or scar from a cesarean section instead of in the uterus. They never result in a birth and are guaranteed to kill the pregnant woman without surgery. A Louisiana bill would permit the charge of murder for anyone who miscarries or needs surgery for ectopic pregnancies. An Ohio bill would mandate doctors to “reimplant” an ectopic pregnancy, medically impossible. An Oklahoma state senator disagreed with permitting surgeries for these pregnancies. Texas law does not define exceptions for medical emergencies, and a doctor denied a woman treatment for her ectopic pregnancy before she was rejected at an emergency room. At least one pharmacy refused to fill prescriptions for this condition. Ignorant legislators create these bills which are then supported by more ignorant people. If laws allow ectopic pregnancies, the confusion may keep women from seeking help. In some states, medical students receive limited education about abortion which means they also don’t know how to care for patients who have had miscarriages. The women who die don’t have the “right to life.”

The Supreme Court supporting “right to fetuses” opposed life for Clarence Dixon, a schizophrenic executed in Arizona last week. His lawyers said he didn’t understand why he was being put to death and suffered for over 25 minutes during the procedure. Age 66 and blind, Dixon is the first execution since Joseph Wood was given 15 doses of a two-drug combination over two hours, repeated gasping until he died. Witnesses reported that prison had trouble finding a vein for the lethal injection, and Dixon was in pain for 25 minutes until they injected him in the groin. An AP journalist said, “They did have to wipe up a fair amount of blood.” Arizona also has a gas chamber which uses hydrogen cyanide, the same gas used at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Arizona can still kill another 112 people on death row. Supreme Court decisions determined justices shouldn’t meddle in state lethal injections so Arizona can handle the situation any way it wants.  

Republicans virtuously permit people with COVID to infect and kill others with the ridiculous claim of needing freedom from wearing masks. Studies have shown over and over that social distancing, vaccinations, and masks will block the transmission of the disease killing people in a little over two years. Even those who refuse all these precautions have learned how their loved ones have died the hard way, and many of them have admitted this fact. 

In another way to kill people, Republicans block any kind of sex education for young people so that they can protect themselves. Without that knowledge, girls employ myths to avoid pregnancy, myths that don’t work. Their solution is sometimes self-induced abortions, killing the young girls.

In 2008, before President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, over 26,000 people died because they lacked health insurance. Since it passed in 2010, the Republicans have tried non-stop to block health insurance for the poor. Even ten years after the law passed, 45,000 people are still dying each year from lack of health insurance. Even if they don’t die, 25 percent of people in the U.S delay health care for serious illnesses.

GOP hatred for LGBTQ people also promote violent deaths by those with anti-LGBTQ fear and loathing with the attitude that they are following God’s will.   

The deaths of at least ten people in a Buffalo story also shows how cavalier conservatives are permitting mass shootings through the freedom to buy guns. An 18-year-old who had previously threatened a school shooting and posted a “manifesto” on the website murdered people peacefully shopping because they were black. The GOP party line will be that he was a “lone wolf” although the persuasion to stop white people from being “replaced” by minorities has come for the far-right media, especially Fox’s Tucker Carlson, and GOP leaders. This mass shooting was #198 in the first 19 weeks of 2022.

Deliberate income inequality in which Republicans ensure that the wealthy and big business collect the vast majority of assets while people in poverty die from lack of resources.

The conservative anti-science aggression is also causing hunger and starvation by refusing to recognize climate change. Republicans also permit toxic chemicals and other pollution to kill people—if they are poor—to benefit big business.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, said the loss of abortion rights won’t bother most voters although it “might be a little messy for some people.” He blithely commented that women can just drive across state lines for the procedure. No worry about lack of resources, distances from blocks of states banning choice, laws blocking getting an abortion in another state, prosecution for getting an abortion at all. Republicans want to have it both ways—get rid of all abortions while persuading the 70 percent of pro-choice voters that he’s not really against women having reproductive rights. The GOP just wants the discussion to disappear before the 2022 election.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees with Johnson that voters for congressional members don’t really care. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that “angry leftists … don’t even know that overturning Roe means.” They haven’t noticed that 26 percent of respondents to a Monmouth University poll rated their top concern, only one percent below the economic policy. That’s far above the nine percent of them rating abortion policy as the top concern a year ago. McConnell also tries to persuade people that getting an abortion won’t be any problem because it’s up to the states. People who have seen their rights disintegrate won’t believe that either.

In Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft of the ruling that overturns Roe, he bases part of his opinion on the “great” and “eminent” legal authority, Sir Matthew Hale. The English judge and lawyer who died in 1676 at the age of 67, he presided over a witchcraft trial in which he sentenced two “witches” to death.  His “History of the Pleas of the Crown,” published posthumously in 1736, stated that authorities should distrust women who claimed to have been raped, a position still popular in the second half of the 20th century and used even in the 21st century. He wrote the marital rape exemption protecting a man from prosecution if he raped his wife because marriage means the woman has put her body under her husband’s permanent dominion “which she cannot retract.” In the U.S., no state could prosecute a man for raping his wife—even brutally—until 1970. At the current time, 21 states are still more lenient toward marital rape than rape outside the marriage. Men will cling to a legal system in which men complete control their wives.  

His claim about the “deep roots” of history ignores common law in the first decades of the United States that did not regulate abortion before “quickening”—the first feeling of fetal movement occurring as late as 25 weeks into pregnancy. Alito ignored Hale’s description declaring abortion as a crime “if a woman be quick or great with child.” And he uses as his justification the man who sentences women to death as witches, knows women are liars, and believes women own their wives’ bodies.

Blocking abortion will lead to preventing other human rights such as contraception, same-gender relationships and marriage, biracial marriage, transgenderism, etc. All these rights will be blocked by Republican legislators and their activist partisan judges in a huge government overreach eliminating freedom and liberty for half the people in the country. The GOP has claimed they objected to this practice with Democrats but are now allowing only Christian evangelical laws.  

May 12, 2022

Baby Formula Shortage, Indian Board School Abuse, More

The news keeps rolling in.

First, a bit about the serious shortage of baby formula while the Supreme Court will mandate an increased “domestic supply of infants” (words from Justice Samuel Alito) by overturning Roe v. Wade. Brigid Kennedy cites two reasons: the problematic supply chain and the FDA closure of a major manufacturing plant from recalls of three powdered baby formula brands because of bacterial infections. At least four babies were hospitalized and two died after drinking the products from Abbott Laboratories. The FDA is working with manufacturers to increase production and prioritize product supply lines, but conservatives blame the FDA for not taking action. 

Kennedy skipped a third problem—hoarding. During the shortages in 2020, parents hoarded baby formula. When sufficient supply was manufactured, demand fell while parents used their hoarded product, and manufacturers cut back production. After the hoard disappeared, parents went back to buying baby formula, but the manufacturers weren’t ready for the demand. Canada isn’t a good source because the new U.S. North American trade agreement under Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) discourages formula imports from Canadians.

Conservatives want all the needs of people in the U.S. to be produced within its borders, and President Joe Biden tries to accommodate this demand and support U.S. manufacturing. Yet domestic producers such as Abbott, which had the bacterial infestation, hold buyers captive for prices and availability. Reducing trade with other countries then makes people in the U.S. more vulnerable to emergencies such as baby formula shortages. Narrow trade policies and pandemic hoarding have led to crises in availability of supplies.

Male conservatives are giving solutions after they finally figured out the baby formula shortage is a problem:

Just change brands: (a) that might also not be available; and (b) the host of side effects could cause health problems for an infant.

Use regular milk: cow’s milk before the 12-month mark can lead to serious issues—intestinal bleeding, kidney problems from too many proteins and minerals, and lack of nutrients for thriving infants.  

Shop on Amazon: not really a guarantee in a time of shortages, especially with suddenly canceled or pushed-back shipments, not to mention price-gouging.  

Congressional Republicans lambast Biden for doing nothing—although he is—while they sit back and taken no action. Oh yes, they are having a hearing on the baby formula shortage—in two weeks.

Abbott did well under DDT, able to make a $3 billion buyback of stocks. Last October, a whistleblower reported that its Michigan plant needed repair and claimed Abbott had lax cleaning procedures, falsified records, and hid information from FDA. The FDA issued a recall of Abbott’s product in February 2022. Abbott is one of three baby formula manufacturers largely controlling the industry in the U.S.

“Pro-life” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has an answer for obtaining more baby formula: he demands that Biden withhold it from any migrants in U.S. custody. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) agrees.

After over a half century, the U.S. reports on the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes for 150 years between 1819 to 1969 and put into Indian boarding schools. Developed by Thomas Jefferson, the racist violent system was intended to assimilate Native Americans and take their territories, according to the Interior Department. Over 500 of these children died in only 19 boarding schools after their kidnapping, and this report is only the first step for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Federal Indian Board School Initiative’s investigation.

Included in the report are recommendations for more investigation, additional funding, and a repository for information gathered by federal agencies and private institutions. Also requested is more funding for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the federal law that regulates the repatriation of Indigenous remains. Haaland also wants to use the report for ways to overcome the trauma of family separation such as mental health services and language revitalization. Recent studies show adults attending the schools when children suffer from much higher rates of physical health problems and passed these issues to their their children, who also are less healthy than the general population.

Never before has the federal government tried to research the tragedy in an attempt to acknowledge the horrors it inflicted on all these children and their families. It has a long way to go to record the deaths, the reasons for them, and the people responsible. Thus far, there is also no apology which tribal leaders have requested for decades, and the report doesn’t ensure any immediate steps to address the devastation. Haaland plans a year-long tour of Indian Country to hear survivors’ stories for a permanent oral history and connect them with support.

At least 408 of the boarding schools were located in 37 states, and the investigation located burial sites, some unmarked, at over 50 of them. School personnel renamed incarcerated students with English names, cut their hair, and denied them their language and cultural practices. Children as young as four years suffered corporal punishment, solitary confinement, flogging, withholding food, whipping, and slapping. According to the report, “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, disease, malnourishment, overcrowding, and lack of health care in Indian boarding schools are well-documented.” Children were also forced to do manual labor, sawing lumber, making shingles, digging wells and irrigation ditches, and sewing clothing.

At a press conference, Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, said that her grandparents were each eight years old when forced into a boarding school. Holding back tears, she continued:

“Many children like them never made it back to their homes. Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system.”

Indian boarding school historian and Comanche descendent Preston S. McBride said the nation doesn’t even know the number of Indigenous students attending these institutions—and certainly not how many died while kept there. He found over 1,000 deaths at the four former boarding schools he studied, and the number could be as high as 40,000 at the schools. Using a review of historical records, including letters from administrators, parents, and students, he said the reason for the deaths ranged from illness to abuse.  

Media across the nation are reporting the travesties of the Indian boarding schools in their own states as a simple internet search shows. Oklahoma had 79 of these facilities, more than any other state. Testimony from survivors from a House hearing on May 12.

In Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KA), a citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have introduced bills for a truth and reconciliation commission on Indian boarding schools, providing a framework for government response to tribal nations and citizens negatively affected by former federal policies. Boarding school survivors can submit testimony until May 26. The legislation would still permit religious organizations, responsible for about half the schools, to opt out. NAGPRA also covers only land under federal control or those receiving federal funding.

The leaks keep coming, and this one from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a classic. According to a recently discovered tape, Graham said after the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, that Democrat Joe Biden is “the best person” to lead the U.S. Graham was talking to Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, who taped it for their new book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future. To the question of whether Biden could bring the country together, Graham said, “Totally.” He added, “He’ll maybe be the best person to have. I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?” In other criticisms about DDT, Graham said:

“He plays the TV game and he went too far here. That rally didn’t help, talking about primarying [the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney]. He created a sense of revenge.”

Graham tried to weasel out of his comments by having his spokesperson blame Biden for his “far-left agenda as president.”

Russia’s congressional assets emerged from the House vote on assistance for Ukraine.  The split for the $40 billion bill to deliver aid to Ukraine came in at 368-57—with all the 57 Republicans. A list of them includes the usual suspects. Part of the funding comes in the form of presidential drawdown authority funding increased to $11 billion so that the U.S. can send military equipment and weapons from U.S. stocks. In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly blocked a vote on the House bill in an objection to unanimous consent. He demanded an inspector general to oversee the funding, requiring the bill to be sent back to the House, but refused to make an amendment for his requirement.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson also continues to be a Russian asset. Last night on his show he called on “some billionaire … to fund a primary challenge against every single one of those Republican senators standing by Mitch McConnell” because the House Minority Leader advocates support for Ukraine in the brutal Russian invasion.

May 7, 2022

New This Week outside the Anti-Abortion Draft Leak

Washington Post has a piece today called “what happened this week besides Roe v. Wade.” My thought exactly, because Republicans want you to skip over all the other news. Here are some of the other happenings.

Former federal official in a variety of capacities while he was sycophant for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) Mike Pompeo held a press conference and expressed national security concerns regarding “Dr. Oz,” DDT’s pick for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish citizenship, has “close ties to the Turkish government and military,” according to Pompeo. Oz also voted in the 2018 Turkish election. Supporting the hedge fund billionaire opposing Oz for the GOP candidate in the general election, Pompeo stated that if Oz were elected, he would have much less scrutiny for a security clearance as a senator than a civilian applying for a clearance. DDT had a Friday evening rally in Pennsylvania for Oz.

DDT went to Pennsylvania for Friday evening rally to tout Oz, and it did not go well for DDT’s endorsement. In the pouring rain, the MAGA crowd consistently booed DDT’s choice for U.S. senator and groaned when DDT’s stumping began, groans building when DDT begged them to “secure a massive victory” for Oz. Jeers from the audience greeted Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) who tried to persuade them to pick Oz. They weren’t even impressed with DDT’s reason for picking Oz, that he was “in the bedrooms” of women across America. DDT called Oz’s opponent, David McCormick, a “liberal Wall Street Republican,” who had been appointed to Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for International Affairs by George W. Bush in 2007. McCormick spent over $6 million on his campaign, twice that of Oz.

Going beyond endorsing his own candidates, DDT is making robocalls for them.  In incoherent rambling, he pushed the election of Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s GOP Secretary of State primary. The rambling 1.5 minute schtick immediately with his talking about himself before repeating “stolen” election conspiracies and lambasting Hice’s opponent, incumbent Brad Raffensperger—the guy who wouldn’t hand over almost 11,000 to DDT. A new falsehood he espoused was accusing Raffensperger of “perhaps in collusion with Stacey Abrams, I don’t know if that’s possible, but perhaps.”

President Joe Biden received good economic news today with an additional 428,000 jobs in April after his first shrinking economy during the first 2022 quarter since he was inaugurated. Expectations were much higher than the predicted 400,000 jobs, and unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent. Economists’ reasons were supply chain issues and business purchases of less inventory. This number sets a record 12 straight monthly gains above 400,000 for the first time since statistics started in 1939. In four months of 2022, the economy created over two million jobs, almost one-third the number of DDT’s first three years before the pandemic. The U.S. economy has gained back about 95 percent of its pandemic job losses.

More leaked tapes immediately after January 6, 2021 from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recorded him saying that the 25th Amendment, a constitutional way to remove a president from office by the vice president and cabinet, “takes too long.” A majority would have to agree DDT was unfit for office.

The war in Ukraine caused by Russia’s invasion is dragging on much longer than expected with greater involvement from Western nations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), three steps from the presidency, became the highest ranking U.S. official to meet in Ukraine with its president Volodymyr Zelensky. First lady Dr. Jill Biden is currently in Romania.

Business owners need more workers so Biden is extending the time that immigrant workers can stay in the U.S. Work permits, usually for two years before the renewal requirement, can use the existing permits for almost 18 months after expiration.

Uncomfortable with the attempt to defend Samuel Alito’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans are concentrating on damning LGBTQ people. Sen. Roger Marshall’s (R-KS) letter to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board has been signed by four other GOP senators—Mike Braun (IN), Kevin Cramer (ND), Steve Daines (MT), and Mike Lee (UT). The letter demands that all programming with LGBTQ characters be labeled with “sexually-related content” for “mature” audiences only. The letter describes the use of these characters as “modeling behavior,” a term also used for “grooming.” There was no indication whether the demand extends to new programs. 

Rep. Jeff Van Drew introduced a bill requiring written consent from over 50 percent of parents at least 30 days prior to any discussions of LGBTQ people in schools. My Child, My Choice Act (MCMCA) claims schools are “compromising the safety of our young children.” Any school violating the act would lose federal funding, the only control the federal government has over education. States determine whether to provide an education or not and, if deciding to provide one, determine at what level of quality. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees every citizen equal protection under the law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a new case for the Supreme Court: overturning the 40-year-old decision requiring states to pay for children’s public education, regardless of citizenship status. Plyler v. Doe (1982) struck down a Texas law refusing to educate some children based on their immigration status. Abbott claims that the state cannot afford to educated undocumented children. In Texas, each student costs $6,160, less than half of the national average in 2018 of $12,600. Last month, Abbott spent $9 billion in ten days to make an anti-immigration statement by blocking traffic at the southern border. He isn’t finished with the expenditure; he took another $500,000 from state Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Public Safety to continue funding his “inspection” program. The 1982 decision was based on the 14th Amendment equal protection grounds. Abbott demands the federal government, but Texas already receives $1.20 per person from the government for each $1 the person pays.

Abbott’s stunt on the southern border is already making him a loser. Mexico’s trade railway from Mazatlán to Winnipeg, with a connection in Texas, will be rerouted through New Mexico losing international trade for Texas. The ten-day inspection showed up with zero migrants or drugs, but Abbott is having another search because he didn’t like critical remarks from Mexico’s president after massive commercial delays. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called Abbott’s policy extortion.

Texas leads in many ways, one is persecuting trans youth. Abbott requires that parents who permit their children to be transgender should be investigated by Children’s Services with possible child abuse. With over 300 anti-trans bills introduced in 28 states already in 2022, at least eight states passed laws blocking sports for trans youth and other laws charging doctors with felonies if they providing health care for trans youth. In other states, governors are issuing anti-trans policies. Legislation also attacks trans adults, targeting birth certificates, other legal identifying documents, and more rights.

In 19 states, Democratic legislators are trying to offer safe legal refuge for displaced trans youth and families forced from their homes because of the conservative legislation. A bill introduced in March would make California a refuge state, and Democrats are hoping to follow in West Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kentucky, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and Connecticut.

Starting in 2017, more people ages one to 24 have been killed with guns than in car crashes, reversing the decades-long cause of death. Between 2000 and 2020, the rate of firearm-related deaths in this age group increased from 7.3 per 100,000 people to 10.28 per 100,000 while deaths from car crashes decreased from 13.62 to 8.31 per 100,000. The difference comes from the work to prevent deaths in car crashes compared to federal inability to regulate firearms safety, deaths’ tracking, and the interpretation of a government law—the Dickey Amendment—discouraging CDC funding for research in preventing gun injuries until 2018. Federal gun laws allows gun purchases without background checks and shields gunmakers from negligence claims, including when guns fall into the hands of children with deadly results.

Sarah Palin, running for the sole U.S. House position in Alaska against 50 opponents, may know something about her bad chances of winning that others don’t: she’s already claiming voter fraud happened in the election that hasn’t occurred, the one on June 11. For those who haven’t kept up with Palin, she lost the 2008 election when former Arizona Sen. John McCain picked her as his Republican running mate. Less than a year after she lost that election she resigned as Alaska’s governor. Maybe she noticed last October that 56 percent Alaskans view her negatively. Locals say she doesn’t spend any time in the state. Palin told Fox News’ Mark Lewin that she will lose because of mail-in ballots and the Dominion Voting Services tabulation.

Much has been said about GOP candidates, but this one hits a new low—hopefully! In Boone County (IN), Andrew Wilhoite, in jail awaiting his trial for killing his wife, has secured his position on November’s ballot for the Clinton Township Board. Three Republicans ran for three primary seats, and Wilhoite got 60 votes. His wife, who recently completed chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, filed for divorce because Wilhoite had an affair. Her body was found in a creek near their home, and Wilhoite said he hit her with a flowerpot. His trial begins in August. At least, felony convictions prevent people from candidacy and holding office.

And lots more news other than the anti-abortion ruling leak. Maybe tomorrow?

April 27, 2022

Republicans’ Move to Fascism

The head of the Surry County (NC) GOP threatened to fire an elections official or lower her pay if she didn’t give him illegal access to the county’s vote tabulators, one of over 900 instances of intimidating election officials after the 2020 election. Republicans are also trying to discourage voters from using electronic tabulators, but “there is no hand-count option.” Elected GOP officials are willing to overturn a legitimate Democratic victory in order to guarantee that only a Republican can hold office. That means a one-party state, which will be overseen by a single, powerful individual, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal in Ukraine. 

A veto from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves means that the Jim Crow era law blocking Black voters stays on the book. House Judiciary Chair Nick Bain, the Republican who drafted the bill, said the bill “clarified” that judges should continue their policy of returning voting rights to those who have their criminal records expunged. Only nine other states permanently block felons from every voting. Approximately ten percent of the state’s population, 16 percent of the Blacks, cannot vote.

In 1890, the Mississippi constitution listed specific crimes preventing people from voting, specifically those they claimed Black men were more likely to commit: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy. One of the legislators involved in the 1890 language bragged about how they “legislated against the racial peculiarities of the negro.” Murder and rape weren’t added to the list until 1968. Last year, Reeves claimed that “there is not systemic racism in America.”

Reeves wrote:

“Felony disenfranchisement is an animating principle of the social contract at the heart of every great republic dating back to the founding of ancient Greece and Rome.”

The vetoed bill would also have created a public registry of “offenders whose crimes involved the embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds.” These names would stay on the list for five years and be blocked from holding public office for that time. Reeves vetoed a legislative-approved $50 million for upgrades at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Last Monday in Mississippi was Confederate Memorial Day, and Reeves proclaimed April Confederate Heritage Month. He said, “There is not systemic racism in America” in a state where 38 percent population who are Black must honor slavery. In Mississippi’s 2015 data, 383 of every 100,000 Black juveniles were in custody compared to 83 white juveniles in 100,000.

Reeves also let a law for increasing government officials’ wages go into effect without a veto. His own salary goes up 31 percent to $160,000, higher than over half the states. Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the U.S. 

In Louisiana, DDT-appointed federal Judge Robert Summerhays blocked President Joe Biden’s ending Title 42 which prevented all immigrants seeking asylum on the southern border because of COVID precautions. The ruling covers Arizona, Missouri, and Louisiana—the three states suing to pause the end of Title 42—but they must come to an agreement with the DOJ. In a hearing this week, GOP lawmakers grilled Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about how Biden plans to conclude DDT’s policy. Asked if he supports Biden’s decision, Mayorkas said he deferred to the CDC. Republicans call for Mayorkas’ resignation and possible impeachment if they take over Congress this coming year.

During his re-election campaign, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attracted voters by showing how anti-immigration he is. Earlier this month, he promised to transport immigrants to Washington, D.C. but had to change the claim to volunteers after accusations of kidnapping. Accused of kidnapping them for taking them involuntarily, he said he would take only volunteers. Thus far Abbott has moved 152 migrants and is now asking for donations to fund his program. Those who took him up on his request are expressing gratitude for the “free” ride. His blockage of the southern border with the excuse of inspections fiscally hurt both his state and the entire U.S. with multibillion-dollar losses to the economy.

Abbott’s claim of success in his Operation Lone Star uses myths and disinformation. Starting in March 2021, Abbott deployed over 10,000 National Guard members to join state troopers in a mission to patrol the border, build barriers, and arrest migrant men for trespassing. He counts arrests for crimes with no connection to the border and captured drugs in communities with no connection to the initiative. Abbott said he targeted Mexican cartel members and smugglers, but most of his arrests were for misdemeanor trespassing. Three-fourths of captured illegal drugs was marijuana. Abbott claimed the operation found 887 pounds of fentanyl, but only 160 pounds of that was in the 63 counties included in the initiative, all but 12 pounds in El Paso County that refused to sign onto Abbott’s declaration.

Abbott’s border disaster declaration, patterned after one for a natural disaster, increased trespassing penalties to up a year imprisonment. Since his announcement of the order 11 months ago, over 2,900 people arrested for allegedly crossing into the state came through private property in two rural southwest counties. For arrests July through February, 40 percent were misdemeanor trespassing charges, and hundreds of the charges were dismissed or rejected, many because troopers marched migrants across the private property. Officials couldn’t prove that arrested people were gang members. Questions led to the removal of over 2,000 charges. Abbott’s operation also arrested U.S. citizens and other authorized people in the 63 countries, sometimes charging them with crimes not connected to the border.

Last September, about 15,000 Haitian immigrants searching for asylum because of the earthquake, the president’s assassination, and economic instability camped under the international bridge in Del Rio. Troopers and National Guard members lined up vehicles along the Rio Grande as a “steel barrier.” Texas supported Homeland Security to clear the bridge.

After the state legislature tripled its expenditure on border security last year, most of it going to Operation Lone Star, the state shifted another $500 million from other agencies to pay costs exceeding legislative appropriations. Abbott said its $3 billion in costs was more than the U.S. paid; yet the U.S. border budget is over $16 billion, and 8,000 Border Patrol agents are assigned to 1,285 miles of border with Mexico. More customs officers are stationed at international ports of entry in the state.

DDT stories usually take a bizarre twist, but this one is exceptional. His deposition from last October regarding the violent treatment of his bodyguard Keith Schiller toward protesters outside Trump Tower in 2015 has just been made public. Although DDT claims he knew nothing about it, he defended Schiller’s actions and said “he did nothing wrong.” Protesters are suing DDT for his security officers’ “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries.” The case goes to the New York Supreme Court in the Bronx in May. His lawyers are trying to delay the trial after DDT’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen came forward as a witness—against DDT.

All that is pretty standard for DDT. The bizarre part is his fear of tomatoes. In his deposition he talked about the rally in Cedar Falls (IA) where he told attendees that “if you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them, would you?” He told the protesters’ lawyer:

“It was very dangerous. We were threatened. … They were going to throw fruit…  It’s worse than tomato, it’s other things also. But tomato, when they start doing that stuff, it’s very dangerous. There was an alert out that day.”

He called it “very violent stuff.” Trying to cover himself, he said his 2016 remark to the crowd was “sort of in jest,” but added about his fear, “But maybe, you know, a little truth to it. It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things.”

During the 4.5-hour deposition, he was very specific about the dangers of different fruits, also specifying pineapples and bananas as potentially lethal projectiles. “I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit” and explained that “some fruit is a lot worse [than tomatoes.]” Asked if anyone had tomatoes at the rally, he answered, “It worked out that nothing happened.” He said he expected his security to use physical force on anyone seen with a tomato. Lawyers even debated whether a tomato is a fruit. DDT’s lawyer settled the question by explaining that a tomato “has seeds.”

If you have a few minutes, tun in to watch Rachel Maddow read parts of DDT’s deposition. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has overseen the banning of over 200 books from Florida schools; his recent Stop WOKE Act objects to books about race, gender and sexuality and allows members of the public to challenge and ban books. Chaz Stevens has filed complaints in at least eight school districts for the removal of the “woke” Bible. According to the complaint, the Bible deals with slavery, racism, and rape as well as age inappropriateness, “wokeness”, social-emotional learning, bestiality, cannibalism, fornication, and infanticide. He included biblical excerpts as evidence and asked for a book burning. 

April 23, 2022

Inflation from Corporate Greed, Disasters

With no real platform except for raising taxes on the poor, Republicans search for campaign topics for the fall 2022 election. A major one will certainly be inflation. The GOP talks about how it never would have happened if Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) were in the White House and how he needs to be returned to the Oval Office. They have no solution for the problem, but they figure they only need to condemn Democrats for not solving the issue.

Beyond the continued pandemic because of GOP spreaders, the invasion in Ukraine, and DDT’s shattering of the supply chain by allowing COVID to run rampant, corporate profits with no regulations raise prices. The Economic Policy Institute and the Brookings Institution report on the problem.

EPI’s Josh Bivens wrote:

“Since the trough of the COVID-19 recession in the second quarter of 2020, overall prices in the [non-financial corporate] sector have risen at an annualized rate of 6.1%—a pronounced acceleration over the 1.8% price growth that characterized the pre-pandemic business cycle of 2007–2019. Strikingly, over half of this increase (53.9%) can be attributed to fatter profit margins, with labor costs contributing less than 8% of this increase. This is not normal. From 1979 to 2019, profits only contributed about 11% to price growth and labor costs over 60%.”

These facts don’t jive with the wishful thinking that current inflation is “based purely on macroeconomic overheating.” Bivens continued:

“Evidence from the past 40 years suggests strongly that profit margins should shrink and the share of corporate sector income going to labor compensation (or the labor share of income) should rise as unemployment falls and the economy heats up. The fact that the exact opposite pattern has happened so far in the recovery should cast much doubt on inflation expectations rooted simply in claims of macroeconomic overheating.”

In DC Reports, Dean Baker agrees. History shows that low unemployment forces companies to pay higher wages and thus raise prices. Yet data disproves that reason for higher prices now because “the wage share of income has fallen sharply since the pandemic.” In 2021, the wage share fell from 76.1 percent to 73.7 percent. Baker does blame supply-side disruptions, caused by corporations not successfully planning sufficient products, for inflation.

In a report from Brookings, examining 22 major companies, “the average real wage gain, factoring in inflation, was between 2% and 5% through October 2021. Unless these companies raised wages substantially since then, fast-rising inflation would have eroded most, or even all, of the 2% to 5% average wage gains. And at most, only seven of the 22 companies are paying at least half of their workers a living wage—enough to cover just their basic expenses.”

The same companies paid their shareholders very well, spending five times more on dividends and stock buybacks than on paying their workers better. Sixteen companies repurchased almost $50 billion of their shares, equal to raising the annual wages by an average of 40 percent.

Most people are noticing—and complaining about—price increases for food. A “perfect storm” causes some of the problem: drought, an outbreak of avian flu, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s personal war at the southern border. Older factors are worker shortages, higher fuel costs, and supply chains snarls beginning when DDT failed to control the pandemic in the U.S. for political reasons. The other factors:

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Prices, especially for corn, skyrocketed. To mitigate the high price of gas, President Joe Biden permitted high-ethanol gasoline to be sold throughout the summer. Ethanol is made from corn usually used for human and animal food. Animal feed is 60 percent of the cost of raising livestock, even farmed fish. Ukraine’s inability to produce fertilizer contributes to higher meat prices because it is sometimes the only source of carbon dioxide for the pre-slaughter stunning of animals. Without that product, facilities need another way to humanely prepare animals. 

The avian flu: In 27 states, the worst outbreak in the U.S. since 2015 raised prices for chicken, turkey, and egg. Growers have killed 29 million affected birds, about three-fourths of them egg-layers. April and May are peak months for the disease; droppings of wild birds infect domestic flocks during migration patterns, especially in Iowa.  

California’s ongoing drought: As the disaster hits its third year, the government, operating the water systems, reported it has no more water for farmers who will now plant much less or nothing. In the Central Valley providing one-fourth of U.S. food, rice growers in the northern part plan to leave their fields fallow.

Border truck jams: Abbott’s decision to block the border to Mexico with unnecessary inspections stalled produce from the south, raising prices especially on avocados, limes, and tomatoes. The governor’s political stunt lost Texans $477 million per day for its ten days, and the U.S. lost $8.97 billion.

Examples of corporate greed:

  • Procter & Gamble raised prices on their product such as diapers and toilet paper and reported an almost 25-perent profit margin. Kimberly-Clark, dominating the market with P&G, raised its prices at the same time.
  • Pepsi-Cola, with increased prices for the second quarter of 2021, recorded a $3 billion profit for that time.
  • Coca-Cola made $10 billion in revenues for the third quarter of 2021, up 16 percent from the previous year.
  • Meat accounts for half of the increase in food prices, 15 percent more than the previous year. The U.S. has only four major meat processing companies. Antitrust enforcement all but disappeared in the 1980s with control by Ronald Reagan and the Republicans—including banks, pharmaceuticals, airlines, meatpackers, and soda.
  • Food prices are soaring, but half of that is from meat, which costs 15% more than last year. There are only four major meat processing companies in America, which are all raising their prices and enjoying record profits.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin pointed out how Republicans are responsible for our current inflation. Capitalists favor legal immigration because the shortage of workers raises prices by too little goods produced. The need for workers has been exacerbated through the pandemic and retirements, but the previous administration blocked immigration as a solution to transportation, warehousing, and accommodation and food services. The GOP, however, keeps its exclusionary policies, hurting former pro-business and pro-growth positions. Instead Republicans’ goal is only increasing wealth for the rich and big businesses.

DDT’s government actions also caused inflation to make himself look good on a short-term basis. His tariffs raised prices, and creating more money causes inflation. Instead of solving the pandemic problem, DDT kept the economy at a satisfactory level by printing new money at an unprecedented rate. More money in circulation means more spending and greater demand. That’s when prices go up. People like Karl Rove blame Biden for inflation with his pandemic payoff to people, but DDT gave away more money, vastly lowered the taxes on the wealthy and big business, and increased the national debt by $7.8 trillion. 

According to economists, a good economy can cause higher inflation. Positive news since Biden’s inauguration:

  • Over 6 million jobs created last year, compared to the minus number during DDT’s term.
  • Unemployment cut in half last year with jobless claims at their lowest level since the 1960s.
  • In this century, the first year the U.S. grew faster than China.
  • The highest rate of economic growth since Reagan’s first term.
  • Biggest drop in unemployment claims in U.S. history.
  • Since Biden’s inauguration, 1.36 million small business jobs created.

The pandemic caused oil companies to scale back in production; with the letup of the lockdown, prices went up because the oil demand was greater than the supply. Biden authorized the release of 1 million barrels of oil each day for the next six months to drop gasoline prices. He also made plans to increase food production and lower food prices rising because of lack of Russian and Ukrainian exports. The two countries are the largest and sixth-largest wheat producers in the world. 

An article in Hustle, blames future inflation on psychological reasons. Mark Dent and Zachary Crockett wrote that people spend more if they think prices will go up in the future and businesses raise prices if they think costs will go up in the future. Research shows that households are eight percent more likely to buy durable goods such as cars and refrigerators if they think the prices will increase. In February, ten percent of respondents said they bought goods for fear of price increases, mostly for houses.

The same approach is goes for basic goods such as toilet paper, cat food, and baby formula. People stock up, leaving store shelves looking bare. Other shoppers panic and try to load up on products for fear they won’t be available. Prices go up because corporations know they can charge more money. Thus the circle continues.

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