Nel's New Day

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.

July 18, 2021

Biden Quietly Moves Ahead for Six Months

President Joe Biden continues his accomplishments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 27, 2021

Georgia:   Republicans Opposed to ‘Cancel Culture” Decides to ‘Cancel Voting’

People who know nothing about the new voter-prevention law in Georgia are either hiding under a rock or watching Fox network. Passing legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in one day, state GOP legislators included a large number of provisions, all designed to destroy democracy and elect only Republicans. Yet they claim to try to prevent the non-existent fraud which could not be found by multiple investigations and court cases, many of them by Republicans.

The so-called “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” two pages long in addressing absentee votes, grew to 96 pages in the hour before the voting. Some provisions:

  • Allows state lawmakers to take over local election boards—meaning Republicans can eliminate votes they don’t like with their ability to certify results if Democrats win close race—something DDT failed to do in 2020.
  • Gives GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members to the State Election Board.
  • Removes the authority of Georgia’s secretary of state from any control over the election (because Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t find 11,000 for Dictator Donald Trump [DDT] to win the state.
  • Criminalizes photographing one’s own ballot.
  • Eases ability to challenge vote eligibility.
  • Prevents anyone from giving even water to people standing in voting lines even if they are forced to be outside for up to ten hours before casting their votes.
  • Blocks counties from having almost all ballot drop boxes during early voting, allowing them only inside early voting locations during business hours.
  • Removes drop boxes during last four days before an election, a time when mail-in ballots are most likely not receive in time.
  • Disqualifies provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. 
  • Makes counties responsible for deciding Sunday voting but permitted only twice.
  • Moves runoffs to four weeks after general elections with early voting reduced to one week.
  • Eliminates mobile voting vans to alleviate long lines in heavily Democratic Fulton County.
  • Sets up hotline to report election activities in the attorney general’s office.
  • Mandates certification of votes within six days instead of ten days.
  • Requires election voters to count ballots without stopping until they finish.

The only piece missing in the final bill was ending no-excuse absentee voting, a system allowing Republicans to win the elections until the past few months, but the stricter requirements for voter ID with these ballots again creates more problems for minorities and low-income people. Absentee ballots will be verified based on driver’s license numbers or other documentation instead of voter signatures. The law did reduce the time in which voters can request an absentee ballot to 11 days before Election Day and complicated the request process.

The Georgia legislature now permits the kind of voter fraud DDT demanded. In addition to begging Raffensperger for enough votes to win, he earlier asked Raffensperger’s lead investigator, Frances Watson, to find fraud in specific counties, promising she would “be praised” by finding “the right answer.” The GOP search for voter fraud was investigated only in states where President Joe Biden won. DDT pushed Watson to keep looking for votes in his favor until January 6, 2021, when Congress certified the presidency for Biden.

Georgia made more history when state troopers handcuffed state Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) and charged her with a felony for knocking on the governor’s door while he signed the law in the midst of six other white men. (Right: Cannon – Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Biden called the law an “atrocity” and said the DOJ is taking a look at it. He added:

“If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency—they passed a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote.”

The law directly attacks Black voters.They are more likely to vote remotely and less likely to have the required identification for an absentee vote, formerly allowed through signature-matching. Over 200,000 Georgia voters have no driver’s license or state ID number. The average wait time to vote in Black communities is also far more than in predominantly White communities.

Groups immediately began to file lawsuits against the new law, calling it an effort to impose “unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote.”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote: 

“The United States defeated the Confederacy, outlawed human enslavement except as punishment for crime, declared Black Americans citizens, and in 1867, with the Military Reconstruction Act, began to establish impartial suffrage. The Military Reconstruction Act, wrote Maine politician James G. Blaine in 1893, ‘changed the political history of the United States.’

“Today, as I looked at the photograph of Governor Kemp signing that bill, I wondered just how much.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is responsible for the draconian voting law in Georgia and probably other states. Eight years ago, he authored the majority opinion of 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder which trashed the Voting Rights Act protecting voting procedures from discrimination. Roberts wrote, “Things have changed dramatically [in the South].” He may be right—the South may be able to make discrimination against Democratic voters much worse.

Georgia’s new law is one of 253 measures in 43 states designed to keep the GOP in complete control no matter what. With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) determined to refuse any bills not supported by Republicans, H.R. 1, For the People Act, won’t be able to defend democracy through people’s right to vote.

Journalist Bonnie Kristian points out that a conservative (a real one!) should oppose Georgia’s law. Her definition of conservative is “someone who wants to preserve tradition and institutional stability, to thicken the thin veil that separates our society from chaos.” She quotes psychologist Jonathan Haidt as conservatives have five moral values: Harm/Care; Fairness/Reciprocity; In-Group/Loyalty; Authority/Respect; and Purity/Sanctity. Liberals have only the first two—care and fairness—because they value diversity over in-group loyalty and question authority and traditional notions of social and sexual purity. Georgia’s law fails in-group loyalty in self-governance, lying about trying to stop voter fraud; authority, by diminishing moral authority necessary in popular government; and fairness, the law being a dishonorable act. It is “shameless, disgraceful, a poor loser’s move … changing the rules of the game instead of putting in the work to win it as-is or accepting victory isn’t possible.” Now, someone needs to explain this position to the “conservatives.”

Republicans are working hard to get the subject back to what they see as Biden’s failure of immigration at the southern border. Toward that end, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took 17 friends, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in armored patrol boats along the Rio Grande for a midnight visit to prove abuse of migrant children. They were also looking for human traffickers taunting border agents across the “open border” and, hopefully, chaos and lawlessness. All they could say was that VP Kamala Harris, now in charge of the immigration situation, should come down to the border as well instead of working on a solution.  

As a British newspaper describes, the 18 mostly White, male Republicans left “Anzalduas Park Mission, on four Texas Highway Patrol power boats, bristling with machine guns, and armed officers.” A woman said she had been birdwatching in the same location where the tour created a false danger with “fancy camo gear and [a] ride in boats with guns,” according to writer Annie Hartnett. Asked about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants, Cruz bragged about his father coming to the county in 1957. Graham bailed him out by telling journalists they should talk to border patrol officers instead of politicians. Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said DDT’s promise to build a border wall caused a jump in crossings.

Next time, Cruz and his far-right colleagues might want to get protection from the birdwatchers. And they aren’t getting the focus off voting rights.

March 13, 2021

Biden Spends Successful Week

In a paraphrase of Charles Dickens—it was the best of speeches; it was the worse of speeches. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wanted to appear in control. DDT had blocked testing, but the number of coronavirus case was still at 1,267. For a month, he had compared the deadly disease to the seasonal flu, claiming coronavirus  would just disappear and continued that lie for another seven-plus months as the daily number of U.S. cases rose to over 77,000. 

DDT read from his speech in a monotone when he announced a limit on some world travel, suspending travel from Europe for 30 days which added to bans on parts of Italy and South Korea as well as China and Iran. He exempted the UK, with far more cases than many EU countries, and permitted U.S. citizens to return to the U.S., crowding the airports and spreading infections. DDT said, “The virus will not have a chance against us.”

DDT’s speech misrepresented the administration’s policy in “suspending all travel from Europe” and blocking “tremendous amount of trade and cargo,” which also hadn’t been decided. His boast that the health insurance industry agreed to waive “all co-payments for coronavirus treatments” was also a lie. DDT continued his racist assertion about COVID-19 being a “foreign virus” that “started in China.”

Exactly one year later, March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden’s first prime-time speech excelled in empathy for the U.S. people and hope for the future. He announced all adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 virus by May 1, and his promise of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days will be achieved by his first 60 days. The increase in vaccinations comes from the purchase of 100 million more doses of the one-time shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Biden also mourned the 545,000+ deaths in the past year from the virus, many of the deaths unnecessary because DDT did little or nothing about stopping the disease.

The far-right frantically searched for ways to criticize Biden’s speech. Tucker Carlson, already in trouble for attacking women in the military, came up with his need for “freedom.” About Biden’s statement that people in the U.S. can safely gather in small groups for Independence Day, Carlson ranted:  

“This is a free people. This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”

Erik Wemple sarcastically wrote that “only a power-hungry radical would suggest that people hang out with ‘your families and friends’ on a holiday.” 

Biden made the speech on the same day he signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) after its final passage in the House with a 220 to 211 vote. Of the two House Democrats opposing the bill the first time, Jared Golden (ME) voted no the second time while Kurt Schrader (OR) changed his vote to yes.

With the signing a day early before the promised deadline, many of the $1,400 stipends were delivered this weekend. ARPA provides an average tax cut of $3,000 for the low and middle class and a $6,000 cut for families, giving people in this category almost 70 percent of the tax benefits. It will raise after-tax incomes by 3.8 percent. This step is the opposite of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which provided about half the benefits to the top five percent of the population, those who made about $308,000 that year.

Not one Republican voted for ARPA, but at least one of them took credit for it. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi bragged about the approximately $29 billion bailout for the restaurant industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It’s typical that they will vote no and take the dough.” Republicans are now moving forward to repeal the estate tax for the remaining 1,900 people not exempted by the 2017 tax cut bill. The current tax covers only estates worth more than $22 million. Their action doesn’t fit Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) description of the GOP as “the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters, and waitresses.”

The 657 wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. could pay for two-thirds of ARPA with the $1.3 trillion they acquired in the past year. Three of them—Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg—made enough to pay for the $250 billion of supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 weekly for the upcoming six months. Musk’s increase of $142 billion, a 567 percent increase in assets, could support farmers, small businesses, bars and restaurants, and other industries. Bezos’ $67 billion could fund assistance to renters, homeowners, and veterans with $8 billion left over. [visual – ARPA chart]

Because of current law, the billionaires $4.2 trillion in wealth won’t be taxed during their lifetimes less they sell the underlying assets at a gain. Other laws allow inheritors to escape taxation on the increase.

Biden and the Dems aren’t resting on their laurels after passing ARPA: their next project will be job-creating packages on climate, broadband, and transportation issues. Pelosi expressed hope a transportation system will let them address more needs such as education, housing, and water systems, some of them over 100 years old. With the Senate filibuster requiring at least ten Republicans to support any bills, Democrats ponder another budget reconciliation process for infrastructure and ways to pay for expenditures. One possibility, bringing GOP opposition, is tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, drastically lowered in the 2017 GOP tax cut bill.

More success for Biden during the week came from the Senate confirmation of three more Cabinet members:

Michael Regan: The vote for EPA Secretary, 66-34, allows him to rebuild an agency losing thousands of employees and rolling back dozens of clean air and water protections during the Trump administration. A former EPA employee, he pledged to change years of funding cuts, industry-friendly policies, and rejection of its scientists. Regan has “a special obligation to the underserved and under-represented.” Soon before he took over the agency, the EPA gave his predecessor a 23-page “letter of concern” to Regan’s predecessor reporting racial discrimination from hog-farm pollution resulting from investigation into a complaint. The EPA has “deep concern about the possibility that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have been subjected to discrimination as the result of [North Carolina] DEQ’s operation of the Swine Waste General Permit program.”

 Merrick Garland: The new DOJ Attorney General, confirmed with a 70-30 vote, will begin investigating whistleblower allegations about political DOJ hiring by acting AG Jeffrey Bossert Clark in the last days before Biden’s inauguration. In late December, Clark and DDT allegedly discussed a method of unseating then acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to advance DDT’s plans for overturning Georgia’s election before the congressional certification of electoral votes on January 6. Garland was greeted with a standing ovation when he took his oath and promised everyone will be treated by the same set of rules.

Marcia Fudge: HUD Secretary was confirmed with a 66-34 majority, thanks to GOP support including that of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.  She needs to overcome the actions of her predecessor, Ben Carson, with his massive exodus of career staff, destruction of fair housing enforcement, and failure to address a nationwide crisis in affordable housing worsened by the pandemic. HUD’s aging issue includes 63 percent of employees eligible to retire, including 50 percent of supervisors and managers.

Although the confirmation of Xavier Becerra for HHS Secretary was blocked in committee, the Senate voted 51-48 to bypass the panel for the entire chamber to consider his nomination. Both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have announced their support of Becerra.

With southern border shelters freed up from some pandemic restrictions, Biden has reactivated over 200 beds for unaccompanied immigrant children and eliminated DDT’s agreement causing the arrest of sponsors who want to take them. The former administration had given sponsors’ fingerprints and other information to DHS.

In another immigration change this week, a program reinstated permission for parents legally in the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to ask for their children to come to the U.S.

On International Women’s Day, Biden signed two executive orders. One orders the review of former Education Secretary DeVos’ regulation in handling the process of sexual assault allegations by higher education institution. New Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was directed to consider “suspending, revising, or rescinding” agency actions violating the policy of non-discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

The other order establishes the White House Gender Policy Council. The Council will help Biden “ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women.” A special assistant to Biden will focus on “policies to advance equity for Black, indigenous and Latina women and girls of color.” Co-chair Julissa Reynoso, first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff, said that the full participation of women and girls in society is “essential to the economic well-being, health and security of our nation and the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness.”

To complete Dickens’ beginning to A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

And thus we have the description of life before and after January 20, 2021.

 

February 5, 2021

Biden, Democrats Forge Ahead

The National Defense Authorization Act went into effect last December with a little-known provision, that federal agents must identify themselves to protesters. Until this law, unidentified federal agents could emulate banana republicans by snatching people off the streets. Assaulted and kidnapped people didn’t know until the law whether they were attacked by federal employees or illegitimate, armed vigilantes. Now agents must have visible name labels and insignia marking their government agency, unlike their anonymity in cities across the U.S. during last summer’s protests when they could attack journalists and peaceful protesters with impunity.

This law was one of the few bright lights between the election and the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Now, the new normal has returned to leading—meetings to inform and support people, qualified appointees with experience for their positions, daily civil informative press conferences, and no tweeted insults or slurs—except from the Republicans upset about the Democratic Congress and executive branch.

Instead of nothing happening in the Senate with Mitch McConnell (R-CA) in charge, the Democratic senators charge ahead. After a 15-hour overnight session, the Senate voted about 5:30 am on Friday to move Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package forward so that it could be debated and presented for a final vote. VP Kamala Harris  cast the deciding vote in 51 to 50. Democrats voted for some of the GOP amendments before all Republicans voted against addressing the final bill without a filibuster. The bill passed the House in the afternoon, and Senate can move forward with debate to a simple majority vote. Republicans followed their usual pattern when voting for bills while Democrats have the majority: insist on their changes and then vote against it en masse.

Last week, ten GOP senators met with Biden with their version of a bill for only one-third the amount Biden requested. Again, the Republicans followed their usual pattern: ignore “austerity” with a Republican president, but bring back cuts after a Democratic becomes president. Under Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Republicans gave an extra $2 trillion to the wealthy and big businesses with the 2017 tax cuts, passed two stimulus bills worth over $3 trillion, and jacked up expenditures for the military while trying to pull out of the Middle East. Republicans in the administration also guaranteed that a large percentage of the two stimulus bills would go to their friends, donors, and big business. In the first stimulus bill, Republicans buried a tax break giving 80 percent of the benefits to 43,000 millionaires at a loss of $250 billion for the government.

Biden’s administration succeeded in expanding the New START agreement with Russia requiring limits on nuclear weapons in both Russia and the U.S. until 2026. The U.S. will also get a better view of Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Russia has been in compliance with the deal since it went into force in 2011. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his department is working on another agreement with Russia to regulate smaller arms, “battlefield” or “tactical” nuclear weapons, falling outside the New START accord, and an agreement with China. Failing to extend the agreement, DDT had told Russia that it must include the two proposed ideas before he would sign it. DDT abandoned the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019 and the Open Skies Treaty allowing mutual reconnaissance flights in 2020.

Blinken also called on Russia to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, sentenced for almost three years to a penal colony. Russians poisoned Navalny, who recovered and then insisted on returning to the country. Sergey Maximishin, a senior doctor at the Russian hospital where Navalny was treated after the poisoning, “suddenly” died at the age of 55. The hospital did not list a cause of death although the regional health ministry said “preliminary data” indicated a heart attack.

In an interview with CBS News, Biden said DDT should not receive intelligence briefings because he was “unfit to be president” and had “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.” Biden confirmed former opinions about DDT being “an existential threat,” “dangerous,” and “reckless.” According to Biden:

“I just think that there is no need for [DDT] to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

Seventeen days into his presidency, Biden has taken 48 actions—executive orders, presidential declamations, and memoranda. Over one-third related to health policy, including several executive actions about the pandemic response. Nine actions concern immigration, revoking DDT’s directives, and another two are environmental reforms, one of them revoking or revising 15 of DDT’s energy and environmental actions and reinstating two of President Obama’s revoked actions. Other directives cover gender and racial equality, the economy, trade, national security, and ethics in government. The listing is available here.

One controversial order reverses the gag rule on international family planning organizations. Called the “Mexico City Policy,” the policy allowing groups receiving public funds to tell patients about abortion has ping-ponged between presidents since Ronald Reagan adopted it. GOP presidents enforce it; Democratic presidents remove it. DDT went even farther by issuing a domestic gag rule. Taxpayer support for abortion is already prohibited, but DDT blocked organizations receiving federal funds from saying the word “abortion.” Biden told the HHS to “consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind” the so-called domestic gag rule. He told officials to be undoing the regulatory process is required to undo the domestic gag rule.

According to an analysis of studies, the Mexico City Policy eliminating information about abortion increases abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa. High exposure to it raised the rates by 40 percent along with a 14-percent decline in use of modern contraceptives and a 12-percent increase in pregnancies. Access to and use of contraception is vital to preventing unintended pregnancies and thus reducing abortion, including unsafe abortion.

Under acting AG Monty Wilkinson, the DOJ rescinded two memos about voter fraud investigation. Under DDT, former AG Bill Barr had permitted the department to interfere in states’ vote certification. Barr’s order allowed prosecutors to interview witnesses with no permission from District Election Officers. A second Barr order allowed a reduction of coronavirus-related expansions of voting access, including greater early or absentee voting.

The DOJ dropped a discrimination case against Yale University that claimed the school weren’t fair to White and Asian applicants. DDT supported the case in opposition to attempting greater racial diversity by factoring in applicants’ race and country of origin for admissions, long reinforced by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court removed arguments for two immigration cases in February per a request from Biden’s acting solicitor general Elizabeth B. Prelogar. She asked for a delay in cases concerned a funding dispute about the southern border wall and DDT’s policy mandating asylum seekers to wait in Mexico because wall construction has been halted, and the asylum program is being reviewed. The immigration case has its third name in two weeks, Mayorkas (Pekoske, Wolf) v. Innovation Law Lab, because Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as the new DHS secretary by a 56-43 vote—the first confirmed DHS secretary for almost two years.   

In addition to confirming the first Latino and immigrant for a DHS secretary, the Senate also confirmed its first gay Cabinet member after Pete Buttigieg became Secretary of Transportation with an 86-13 vote. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) did not vote in either Buttigieg’s and Mayorkas’ confirmations. The map (left) shows the “no votes” for Buttigieg—yellow for one senator, red indicating both senators. All 13 senators who declared he didn’t have enough experience voted to install Ben Carson for HUD and Betsy DeVos for Education departments as well as supporting all DDT’s inexperienced judges.

To get low-income families online, Jessica Rosenworcel, new acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is moving the FCC into expansion of a broadband services discount program to cover remote schooling. Comcast has voluntarily doubled its internet speeds for people on government assistance. E-Rate offers schools and libraries discounts on equipment and services for internet access. COVID-19, however has closed these facilities, forcing many students to use access from nearby fast-food restaurants. Former FCC Chair Ajit Pai had refused the expansion.

Biden will choose Timothy Lenderking, former State Department official focused on the Middle East area, as his envoy to Yemen in an indication the U.S. will try to end the conflict starving millions of people. The United States will no longer support military operations in Yemen although the U.S. will continue the fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition including the U.S. indiscriminately bombed Yemeni civilians and targeted the already partially-destroyed infrastructure.

Robert Malley, who helped negotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is special envoy for Iran. The appointee earlier warned DDT his maximum pressure on Iran from the military and sanctions which devastated the economy accomplished very little.

Wisconsin Republicans have overturned the state’s mask requirement, and Iowa requires neither masks nor social distancing. On February 5, 2021, the number of deaths from COVID-19 reached 470,705. If the average of deaths continues at this rate, the U.S. will be at 500,000 deaths from the virus by the middle of February without counting excess deaths. Wisconsin’s removal of the mask mandate also lost the state $50 million a month for food stamps. The governor reissued the mask mandate, and the state legislature is working on a law to get the federal funding back.

February 4, 2021

Biden: The Move Back to Governing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 26, 2021

Biden: An Amazing Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the White House press release:

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

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

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

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

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

September 6, 2020

More Stress for DDT

Life keeps going downhill for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

More responses from the courts:

A federal judge ordered DDT to stop keeping immigrant children in hotels and move the 660 children, 577 unaccompanied, out by September 15.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blocked a Canadian company from building a massive gold and copper mine at the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay for 90 days. The company must find measures mitigating the project’s “unavoidable adverse impacts” to water and marine life; the “project, as currently proposed, cannot be permitted under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.” This action reverses the agency’s two-year history of fast-tracking the mine. The Bristol Bay watershed, home to bears, eagles, and wolves, has the world’s most prolific salmon fishery generating $1.5 billion in annual revenue and supporting 14,000 jobs. The mine would store 10 billion tons of mining waste in a wet and seismically active region.

Last month, the D.C. Circuit Court ruled the Federal Elections Commission (FED)’s disclosure rules on dark money are too weak. In CREW v. FEC, the nonpartisan nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sued the FEC for not taking action against Crossroads GPS, which engaged in secret spending during the 2012 election cycle—and won in a federal district court in August 2018. Details of the case.

Curtis Flowers, freed after 22 years in a Mississippi prison and six trials, won’t face a seventh trial. Two convictions for individual murders and two for all four killings were overturned, and two other trials for all four deaths ended in mistrials. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Flowers’ conviction, noting that the prosecution had misrepresented evidence in three prior convictions. During a bond hearing for a seventh trial, the Montgomery County Circuit Court judge said if prosecutors didn’t respond to a previous defense motion to drop the charges against Flowers, “the state will reap the whirlwind” from him. They dropped the charges.    

The people fight back:

In one of three lawsuits from states’ attorneys general about the destruction of the USPS, the chief judge of the U.S. District court for the Eastern District of Washington gave DDT’s administration and the USPS until September 7 to provide requested documentation about Louis DeJoy’s mail delivery slowdown. Fourteen AGs argue that DeJoy’s changes interfering with November’s election are “unlawful.” Washington’s AG Bob Ferguson, known for winning his cases against DDT, added other USPS problems about other slow deliveries; i.e., prescription drugs, Social Security benefits, rent payments, etc.

California is leading a coalition of 27 U.S. states, commonwealths, territories, counties, and cities to block new rules putting a hard-time deadline on environmental reviews of major federal infrastructure projects. The case is the 100th for lead AG, California’s Xavier Becerra, challenging DDT’s “unlawful, unjustified, and sweeping revisions” to a 50-year-old law

Civil rights groups and local governments in California filed for an emergency nationwide injunction against DDT’s attempt to prematurely end 2020 Census counting and “sabotage” the decade count for his and the GOP political advantage. The population count determines U.S. House representation and the annual distribution of $800 billion in federal aid.

Immigration advocates are in court because ICE prevents detained people from placing phone calls to legal representatives from El Paso and Otro County processing centers. Last year, a complaint accused Otero of “rampant discrimination and violence” against LGBTQ people a few months before transgender asylum-seeker Johana Leon died in Otero’s custody. In mid-August, a complaint alleged a “pattern and practice of sexual harassment and sexual assault” against El Paso’s detainees. Other ICE centers face similar complaints.

The Oregon Coast Alliance notified Facebook on August 26 it plans to sue the social media giant for leaving drilling equipment, debris, and 6,500 gallons of drilling lubricant underneath the beach and seabed next to the Tillamook County village of Tierra del Mar after a drill bit broke. The residents opposed Facebook’s subsidiary, Edge Cable Holdings, landing a trans-Pacific telecommunications cable on a lot zoned residential in the middle of their community.

A University of Pennsylvania professor repeated his request to investigate DDT’s admission to the school in 1966. On one tape, DDT’s sister MaryAnne Trump Barry said DDT “got into University of Pennsylvania because he had somebody take the exams.”

Yusef Salaam, one of the innocent Central Park Five accused of rape, was exonerated in 2002 after prisoner Matias Reyes confessed to the crime. In 1989, DDT took out full-page ads in several New York newspapers demanding their executions and never retracted his demands. His ad inflamed public opinion and led to five teenage males of color going to prison for something they didn’t do. Their story was told in the Emmy-winning Netflix drama When They See Us. Fifteen-years-old when he was arrested, Salaam completed a college degree during his almost seven years in prison. Now he educates others about “the criminal system of injustice” and has written a young adult book inspired by his experience. Co-authored by National Book award finalist Haitian-American author Ibi Zoboi, the novel-in-verse, Punching the Air describes institutional racism and the school-to-prison pipeline as told by a Amal Shahid, a 16-year-old Black Muslim boy who is wrongfully incarcerated after a fight in a park leaves a white teen in a coma.

The self-declared “law and order” GOP presidential candidate broke the law by using Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” at his recent convention after Cohen’s reps refused DDT’s requests for its use. It was played twice after DDT finished his 70-minute acceptance speech. A lawyer for the Cohen estate, Michelle L. Rice, decried the GOP’s and DDT’s “brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah,’ one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue.” She added:

“Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’ for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”

Cohen’s publishing company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, also refused the RNC’s use of “Hallelujah.” Tori Kelly, the singer of the first version heard, assured upset fans she had nothing to do with its use and tweeted she had not been asked about its use.

And discoveries:

Rod J. Rosenstein, former deputy attorney general, controlled the scope of Robert Mueller’s investigation into DDT’s ties with Russia by privately restricting the investigation to crimes instead of the public order to examine “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government” and DDT’s campaign. Mueller never investigated DDT’s relationship with Russia although he managed 36 indictments, convictions of DDT’s top advisers, and a report outlining Russia’s operations to help elect DDT and DDT’s efforts to block his inquiry. The bipartisan Senate report from earlier this month did a better job of DDT’s connections to Russia and ways that Russia compromised DDT, but the report stated senators lacked access to all the information. Acting FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe said he would have assigned the inquiry to the FBI if he knew Rosenstein had limited Mueller. According to McCabe, investigating only crimes was inappropriate for a national security threat. DDT also fired FBI director James Comey to stop any further FBI investigation.

The above information came from NYT journalist Michael Schmidt’s new book, Donald Trump v. the United States, In which Schmidt also wrote about DDT offering then DHS Secretary John Kelly (who because DDT’s chief of staff) the position of FBI director the day after DDT fired Comey. DDT, however, required Kelly “to be loyal to him, and only him.” Kelly failed to get the job when he said he would only be “loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law.” Kelly said “having to say no to Trump was like ‘French kissing a chainsaw.'”

In July, Ohio GOP Speaker of the House Larry Householder was arrested for a $60 million bribery scheme. The racketeering indictment for Householder and four others was “likely the largest bribery money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio,” according to U.S. Attorney David DeVillers. In House Bill 6, the “pay-to-play” plan took $60 million from “Company A,” identified as FirstEnergy Corp, for the company’s bailout worth over $1 billion which saved two nuclear power plants. Householder’s share got him a Florida residence, a personal lawsuit settlement, and payoff for thousands of dollars of credit card debt. No longer the Speaker, Householder remained in the General Assembly despite calls for him to resign. Republicans in the majority closed the House voting session to prevent Democrats a repeal of House Bill 6. Householder declares himself “innocent” and compared himself to DDT.

T. Denny Sanford, the richest man in South Dakota and a major donor to children’s charities, is under investigation for possession of child pornography. He is also a big donor to state GOP leaders with close ties to Sen. John Thune. The state’s largest city is sometimes called jokingly Sanford Falls instead of Sioux Falls.

DDT’s campaign has worked hard to get Kanye West on ballots in different states, but they failed in at least 30 states. The large number of petition signatures have included a large number of illegible and fraudulent names, and some states don’t accept two registered Republicans running for the same office. West has spent $6.8 million of his own money for his “Birthday Party” but raised only $11,500. Of the possible nine states where he may be on the ballot, only three are definite, and only Colorado and Minnesota are swing states.  

August 8, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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