Nel's New Day

November 14, 2022

News Avoiding the Election, Mostly

Great news for Arizona and democracy! Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), lost her election to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Bad news for Arizona: after the losses of her and two other major DDT candidates, Mark Finchem for secretary of state and Blake Masters for U.S. senator, election liars may try to burn the state down. DDT wants an entire new election for the state because Democrats won some of the races, and some of the losers refuse to concede, saying that they will ensure that they win. With a little over 100,000 ballots still to be counted, Kris Mayes is only 3,000 votes ahead of GOP Abe Hamadeh, another DDT election liar who can bring lawsuits for the state.

In a three-hour face-to-face meeting, President Joe Biden and Chinese President XI Jinping looked for ways to work together. Biden said there will be no “new Cold War” and believes China has no imminent plans to invade Taiwan. The leaders were in Bali for the G20 summit, and the meeting came after months of quiet negotiations. Biden asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to follow up on the discussion in Beijing as part of a long process to thaw a tense relationship. Biden kept DDT’s tariffs and restricted selling semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China.

For the first time, Xi warned against nuclear weapons in Russia’s war when he met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. A Chinese senior official said on the condition of anonymity:

“I think there is undeniably a discomfort in Beijing about what we’ve seen in terms of reckless rhetoric and activity on the part of Russia. I think it is also undeniable that China is probably both surprised and a little bit embarrassed by the conduct of Russian military operations.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was absent for part of the summit after he was taken to the hospital for a heart problem. He said he is fine. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), possibly the biggest liar in the Senate, feels that Biden is compromised by China. No evidence, just a “feeling.”

The House January 6 investigative committee may subpoena the phone records of Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward according to a Supreme Court ruling. She had claimed the request for her phone records violated the First Amendment. The committee requested call records, phone numbers, text messages, and IP addresses communicating with Ward’s number between November 2020 to January 2021 when she was connected to the scam of an Arizona alternate electors’ slate to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.      

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision without explanation. Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, had taken part of the attempted coup by writing 29 Arizona lawmakers, urging them to choose “a clean slate of electors” instead of the state electors pledged to Biden in support of the popular vote. Ward and her husband were “fake electors” from Arizona, lying about the 2020 presidential election in their state. Both the state district court and the 9th Circuit Court disagreed with Ward’s arguments, one of the three-judge panel a DDT appointee.

Ginni Thomas is working on another coup, this one to get rid of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for congressional leaders. She joined almost 60 far-right politicians, some of them like Thomas investigated by the House January 6 investigative committee, in signing a letter to delay the choice of GOP leadership in the 118th Congress.  The American Independent’s senior political reporter Emily C. Singer called it a “who’s who of insurrection supporting Republicans.”

A DDT-supported federal judge in the U.S. District Court for D.C. dismissed a year-old lawsuit by Mark Meadows, DDT’s former chief of staff, to block the House investigative committee to subpoena him. He will likely appear and run the clock out to the end of the 117th Congress, but the ruling is a precedent for many other suits in the same court. Meadows was on the telephone when DDT tried to persuade Georgia election officials to “find” sufficient votes for his victory and with DDT on January 6, 2021 when insurrections illegally entered the Capitol.

A federal judge blocked attempts by Rudy Giuliani to dismiss a lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. Giuliani’s accusation of election fraud by the mother/daughter pair caused serious threats and harassment against them; Freeman even had to leave her home for months. Giuliani had falsified a video for his lies.

The Senate returns next week, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), also elected for that position in the 118th Congress, scheduled a Wednesday vote on the bill to codify the right to same-gender and interracial marriage. Democratic leader Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said she thinks the bill has the 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and has reached an agreement on “commonsense” changes to protect religious freedom with Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ, and Thom Tillis (R-NC). In July, almost 50 House Republicans joined Democrats to pass the bill.  

When Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) politely protested Elon Musk’s allowing Twitter impersonation of him—and many others—Musk responded by saying Marky’s own account “sounds like a parody.” Marky tweeted back:

“One of your companies is under an FTC consent decree. Auto safety watchdog NHTSA is investigating another for killing people. And you’re spending your time picking fights online. Fix your companies. Or Congress will.”

A fake tweet from Eli Lilly about free insulin in a supposedly verified account brought outrage after Lilly’s “apology” that it was false, including from a parody imitating Lilly:

“We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account about the cost of diabetic care. Humalog is now $400. We can do this whenever we want and there’s nothing you can do about it. Suck it. Our official Twitter account is @LiIlyPadCo.”

About 37.3 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and 8.4 million need insulin to survive. To manufacture, a vial costs under $10, but Lilly’s list price is $274.70, the generic at $82.41. Most people on insulin require 2-3 vials a month so at least 1.3 million people risk their lives by rationing their insulin. The Inflation Reduction Act caps insulin out-of-pocket costs at $35 per month for Medicare participants, but Republicans blocked all other price caps.  

In the midst of ballot-counting, the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel released the newly declassified summary of a joint interview with George W. Bush and his VP Dick Cheney regarding the September 11 attacks. Members of the 9/11 Commission, did not record the event on April 29, 2004, and the released summary document is the only official record, a “memorandum for the record.”

Bush evidenced no sense about the death and destruction set free by his global war; the interview was at the same time as a massive insurgency in Iraq against a U.S. occupation which would kill thousands of U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Seeing the first plane hit the World Trade Center, he thought what a terrible pilot. When his chief of staff Andy Card told him the U.S. was under attack, he stayed in the classroom where he had been reading My Pet Goat to children. He tried to “collect his thoughts” and decided he should “project calm and strength.”

Communications equipment kept failing, including the secure phone line between Bush and Cheney. Bush couldn’t find Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and complained about not having “good television” on Air Force One. Cheney was responsible for authorizing the military to shoot down civilian aircraft. Bush also claimed he didn’t know anything about Saudi nationals receiving permission to leave the country after 9/11.

Bush said he got no “actionable intelligence” About Osama Bin Laden and preparation for hijackings or other attacks in the U.S. and claimed CIA Director George Tenet said “the threat was overseas.” Cheney criticized congressional oversight of covert operations, especially by the CIA, because it weakened the agency. To make the U.S. less vulnerable to attack, Bush said, “We had to kill them before they kill us.” Working with Putin was important to use U.S. military and intelligence of bases in central Asia.

Inflation dropped to an annual rate of 7.7 percent in October, down a half percent. The biggest inflationary contributors were shelter, gasoline, and food, the first two items raising historic profits for companies. Buyers will find less inflation in used cars prices, household supplies, clothing and accessories, household gas, and some food items.

Biden gave all veterans and Gold Star families lifetime passes to national parks.

New drugs could restore a woman’s period using the same medication as used in medical abortion, misoprostol or in combination with mifepristone. The process might not be classified as abortion because the woman doesn’t know whether she is pregnant. Misoprostol is also used for gastric ulcers in nonpregnant people but have become more difficult to obtain because of its connection to abortions. The courts, however, have described abortion as related to “knowledge of a confirmed pregnancy” or “intent to end a confirmed pregnancy.” Menstrual regulation doesn’t rely on a confirmed pregnancy, and no states ban or restrict this regulation with an unknown pregnancy status.

October 4, 2022

News: Supreme Court, DDT Plus More

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) head to Mesa (AZ) on October 9 for another rally so supposedly campaign for his endorsed candidates Kari Lake (governor) and Blake Masters (U.S. Senate). No mention of another far-right GOP candidate Mark Finchem for Secretary of State. The day before, October 8, he’ll be at the Minden-Tahoe (NV) Airport for Adam Laxalt (U.S. Senate), Joe Lombardo (governor), and “the entire Nevada Trump ticket.” At DDT’s rally last week, people started leaving after 15 minutes, almost two hours early, from the facility not filled to capacity. 

As befits their ideology, six conservative justices appear to lean on their second day toward narrowing voting rights by permitting racial gerrymandering even after a Circuit Court three-judge panel, two of them DDT appointees, ruled the racial discrimination violated the Voter Rights Act (VRA). Justice Samuel Alito went the farthest, possibly willing to make the legal challenges against racial gerrymander even more stringent by “revisiting” Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), in which a unanimous vote blocked North Carolina from partisan racial gerrymandering.  

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson brilliantly defended the VRA, at least the small piece left after Roberts court destroyed an important part of it in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) to permit racial discrimination and opened the South to voting oppression laws.

For years, conservative justices have driven poor decisions through SCOTUS through their personal views of originalism of WWTFFD—What Would the Founding Fathers Do. Conservative justices have insisted that the Constitution is “colorblind,” allowing them to allow racial discrimination by saying it wasn’t discriminatory. Jackson refused to give in to them. In the arguments on Merrill v. Mulligan to determine the Alabama districting case, the theory emerged again from conservatives. Jackson tutored them and Alabama’s lawyer in the purpose of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments: “provide equal opportunity for formerly enslaved people, using color-conscious remedies whenever necessary to put them on the same plane as whites,” according to Mark Joseph Stern. She added that drilling down in the Constitution shows “that the Framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious way.”

Alabama Republicans argue that protecting Black citizens’ voting power would violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Jackson may lose, but she won’t give up without a fight.

In other business, the Supremes declined to hear Costello v. Carter, challenging Pennsylvania’s court-approved congressional map after the GOP legislature deadlocked with the Democratic governor, an issue with the high court’s upcoming arguments on Moore v. Harper. Perhaps they figure a ruling to give state legislatures carte blanche would render the case moot. Tragically, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and strong supporter of voting rights, Max Baer, died last Friday. The governor appoints his replacement until an election in 2023, but the legislature may not confirm the current governor’s choice. If extremely far-right Doug Mastriano gets elected in five weeks, the replacement can be a disaster for all rights in the state. In Pennsylvania, the governor also appoints the Secretary of State, who manages elections.

The Supreme Court has another chance to take on a gun issue, this time from Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, the country’s lead attorney, wants to sue U.S. gun manufacturers.  Last year, a judge dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against eight companies making and selling weapons favored by drug cartels with a law giving U.S. companies immunity from liability for guns illegally used by criminals. The lawsuit asserts 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are illegally trafficked from the U.S. with the eight companies making over two-thirds of those weapons.    

DDT didn’t waste time sending his appeal to overturn the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court to allow the DOJ to start examining classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8; he went directly to Justice Clarence Thomas. He wants the court to give the documents back to his special master. Thomas can refer DDT’s request to the full court, but the question is whether he will.   

Another question is whether anyone will trust DDT with classified documents after 14 of his officials reported on his four-year failure to follow guidelines for handling sensitive government documents. One adviser still seeing him regularly describes him as a “pack rat” and a “hoarder.” Some classified documents could be seen by anyone walking by him, and he didn’t always have them for official purposes.  

This week, DDT was directly connected to withholding federal documents when he asked Alex Cannon, a former DDT lawyer, to lie to the National Archives last February and tell the agency that DDT returned everything the archives wanted. Now DDT is accusing the Archives, as well as the FBI, for planting documents at Mar-a-Lago.  

There’s also DDT’s problems with his social media platform. After months of hype about Digital World, the company behind Truth Social, over three dozen disillusioned investors want a way out of the $1.3 billion to take the startup public. Last October, Digital World’s stock skyrocketed from $10 to $175 but dropped to $17.10 this week, ten percent of its high. A year later, the company faces the threat of liquidation, and backers had to pony up another $2.9 million in September to extend a deadline until December 8 for finalizing the deal. Digital World already moved from luxurious office space to a UPS store.

Bad news has piled up: a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into illegal stock trading, a lawsuit by a scorned business partner against going public, investors promising $138 million have already pulled out, and reports that the social media platform isn’t paying its bills. Truth Social’s web host, RightForge, threatens legal action with claims that it is owed $1.6 million after the social platform paid for only three months since Truth Social inception in February 2021. In response to questions about the financial viability of Digital World, DDT said, “I don’t need financing. I’m really rich!” He just doesn’t pay his bills.

Investors may be unnerved by the trend for Truth Social to run QAnon advertising explicitly referencing a coming storm and including Q in the logo. The ads follow DDT sharing posts from over 100 QAnon accounts with images of DDT wearing a Q lapel pin. This week, he promoted QAnon and its predisposition of violence by tagging its image of a burning Q on top of the U.S. flag. Recent DDT’s and Truth Social’s promotion of QAnon has occurred at the same time as an increase in QAnon-linked violence. In June, Kash Patel, former DDT official and Truth Social board member, said, “We try to incorporate [QAnon] into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences. Analysts state the social platform’s biggest problem is its narrow audience, lacking diversity of opinion and content—an echo chamber for DDT’s followers. 

DDT has twice endorsed Jair Bolsonaro for his last Sunday’s election, but the “Trump of the Tropics” lost his election by over five points. Unfortunately, his opponent, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was short of 50 percent by 1.2 percent. The runoff is on October 30.

After VP Kamala Harris said that North Korea has a “very important relationship” with the U.S., DDGT called her a “North Korea sympathizer.” This from the man who “fell in love” with Kim Jong-Un.

Eager for more attention, DDT is suing CNN for defamation; he wants $475 million. He claimed the network used its influence to defeat him politically.

More clarity has come out about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ use of federal monies authorized for Florida use to ship 48 migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard after lying to them about their advantages and destination. Migrants were lured onto the flight with lies from a woman calling herself “Perla.” Her last name is Huerta, and she is allegedly a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent” discharged after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was sent from Tampa to Texas to help execute DeSantis’ plot. Migrants suing DeSantis plan to name Huerta as a defendant in the civil suit, leaving her open to deposing her for details about Florida administration’s potential involvement in the deception. Under immigration law, the asylum seekers aren’t “unauthorized aliens” as DeSantis claims.

Possibly to put the GOP back into control of the U.S. government, OPEC may cut oil production at a Wednesday meeting, driving up the price of gas in the U.S. Since June, gas prices have dropped by one-third from $120 to $80 a barrel, easing inflation. OPEC countries want to have greater control over the world’s oil production as the U.S. became a bigger player in the oil market. OPEC also blames the dollar’s rising strength for decreasing revenues.

Another Republican violated his state’s voting laws by creating a fake ID and using it to vote in multiple elections, this one Alabama’s GOP chairman John Wahl. The state government never issued him an ID, and he wasn’t on any state list of employees. Wahl claimed State Auditor Jim Zeigler gave him permission to make the ID himself, but Secretary of State John Merrill said he told Wahl it is not a valid voter ID. Although Wahl blamed poll workers for forcing him to use the ID through harassment, he also had a driver’s license that he could have used for a legal ID when voting. And he lied about not having made the ID himself.  

September 13, 2022

News – September 13, 2022

Once again, Republicans reinforced their message that they can’t be trusted. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) dropped a bombshell today when he announced for the sixth time that the GOP would pass a national law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy if Republicans took the Congress in 2022. (The bill actually states “at 15 weeks”—a week less, important when time is of the essence.) When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, the majority assured women that the abortion ban was only state-wide, that they could go to states permitting abortions for the procedure.  

Nationwide, 60 percent in polling support abortions in all or most cases, up from 55 percent in March, according to the Wall Street Journal. Graham said that he chose 15 weeks because “unborn child” (a fetus) the fetus can then feel pain. Studies show that the sensation of pain doesn’t occur until after 24 weeks. Advocates of the bill refer to 15-week abortions as “late-term,” a term used for pregnancies after at least 21 to 24 weeks. Asked about Graham’s proposal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said most GOP senators prefer abortion to be under state law rather than a national restriction.

On May 3, Graham said that each state deciding the legality of abortion “and on what terms … is the most constitutionally sound way of dealing with this issue.” On August 7, 2022, Graham said, “I’ve been consistent. I think states should decide…the issue of abortion.” Yet he proposed a national abortion restriction less than two months before an election largely focused on the loss of women’s rights.

Graham’s press conference announcing his proposed federal anti-abortion bill covered the other big news of the day, the Dow Jones dropping over 1,200 points because of the 0.1 percent August inflation increase. Food and gas continued to drop in prices, but some tech stocks lost up to ten percent. The biggest increase in prices for August was in medical services, a problem that the Inflation Reduction Act is intended to address. Rising rents were also responsible for the inflation increase.  

Another commentary on the filing by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to keep government-owned classified documents in the National Archives instead of in DDT’s unlocked desk drawers while he is gone for months: DDT’s attorneys compared those documents to tapes found in “the Clinton sock drawer,” when describing personal tapes from Bill Clinton’s interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch as part of a memoir about Clinton’s views on the issues of the day. Branch made follow-up tapes of his impressions, and the resulting book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President, came out in 2009. A 2012 ruling from a case filed by the conservative Judicial Watch demanding they have access to the recordings established the difference between a private record and a Presidential Records Act document in post-presidency. According to the ruling by U.S. district judge Amy Jackson, the Presidential Records Act identifies Clinton’s tapes as personal records, “purely private or nonpublic,” not official presidential materials such as the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.  

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney has asked that the National Archives review DDT administration’s presidential records in a search for “presidential records … outside the agency’s custody and control. She sent this request after the archives staff told the committee that “the agency is not certain whether all presidential records are in its custody.” Maloney also asked the archives “seek a personal certification from Donald Trump that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.”

Kenneth Starr has died at the age of 76, after complications from surgery. Widely accused of political bias, the GOP investigator spent most of Bill Clinton’s two terms pursuing the president for investment questions, which never resulted in any evidence, and then followed by impeachment after Clinton’s affair with an intern. Starr’s appointment as Baylor University president in 2010 ended six years later after a sexual assault scandal in which women alleged campus leaders bungled or ignored their complaints. A review noted that administrators, under Starr, possibly accommodated a “hostile environment against the alleged victims. In 2020, Starr took part in DDT’s defense for his second impeachment. Over 20 years earlier during Clinton’s impeachment, DDT called Starr “a total wacko” and “totally off his rocker.”

September 13 is the last day in 2022 for primaries in the U.S. determining candidates in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. (Commentary on winners—and losers—tomorrow.) The count in Sweden’s Sunday vote still hasn’t determined whether the extremists in the far-right Democratic party will take over the nation. But one vote has been determined: Twitter shareholders accepted Elon Musk’s purchase of the company.

At the same time, Musk is working hard to get out of the $44 billion takeover, and Twitter’s stock opened on Tuesday at under $41 per share, almost 25 percent under the deal price. Musk has sent three letters to Twitter in his effort to void the agreement, the last time just days ago citing the $7.75 million severance payment the company made to whistleblower and former head of security Peter Zatko. The contract for the purchase supposedly promised no severance payments outside “past practice.” This letter followed another with Musk’s accusations of Twitter’s misrepresenting the number of spam and fake bot accounts on its platform. Twitter sued, but Zatko, a renowned hacker, testified to the Senate about alleged security and privacy vulnerabilities. The Musk-Twitter trial is scheduled for October 17.

In early August, Musk sold almost $7 billion of his Tesla shares in preparation for a forced purchase of Twitter. Openly criticizing government spending, Musk has taken $7 billion in government contacts with billions more in tax breaks, loans, and other subsidies, making the difference between profit and loss. Last summer, studies showed that Tesla vehicles running on Autopilot software had 273 crashes for the previous year, almost 70 percent of the 392 crashes reported in that time. His 18-year-old trans daughter has also filed legal documents to drop her last name of Musk and cut off any association with her father. Musk has seven children, sharing five with his ex-wife Justine Wilson and the others with ex-girlfriend Grimes.

Sample MAGA views from the third National Conservatism conference in Miami on September 11-13:

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said tech companies “cannot be viewed as private entities” because “we know without a shadow of a doubt they are doing the regime’s bidding when it comes to censorship.”

A breakout session called for mandatory military service for anyone making over $250,000 a year.

Not one MAGA hat was seen at the meeting, and DDT was at his golf club in Virginia at that time after a mystery flight into Washington, D.C. Yet most 2024 presidential GOP wannabees, mostly governors and congressional members, were present: Mike Pence, Larry Hogan, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Mike Pompeo, and Liz Cheney.

After a judicial order to pay $49.3 million in his first defamation trial because of conspiracy theories regarding the Sandy Hook massacre, Alex Jones heads into the second trial by plaintiffs Jones claimed were “crisis actors” who lied about the children’s deaths. Parents’ and others’ cyberstalking and threatening harassment came from his encouragement for his audience to “investigate.” Plaintiffs have also asked the court to remove its current management after it filed bankruptcy in August which Jones said would keep Infowars on the air and keep him from “paying any judgements as he appeals.” Jones also uses the court decision to advertise his supplements and forthcoming book.

Jones’ ex-wife, Kelly Jones, also plans to subpoena her ex-husbands phone records, inadvertently given to the plaintiff’s attorney. Given custody of their three children in 2017 after she filed for divorce in 2013, she maintains their father forced the children to lie about her in court and has been non-compliant about court orders. Phone records also show that Jones has been secretly surveilling both Kelly Jones and his current wife, Erika Wulff Jones, through what could be called a “spy ring.” He also had one of his security team follow his wife.

According to his financial records, highly conservative China-hater Ron Johnson, running for a third senatorial term from Wisconsin, made $57 million in the last decade from a company closely aligned with China. He purportedly sold his shares in the company but still receives up to $1 million annually from rent and royalties as owners of its building. His campaign ads have bragged about the jobs he created as a manufacturer, and his company sued the U.S. government for softer trade relations with Beijing. Johnson threatens to start an investigation into President Joe Biden’s alleged relationships with Chinese businesses. 

Ronny Jackson was first known for being DDT’s White House doctor who said DDT could live to be 200 years old. Jackson left because of drinking on the job and inappropriate interactions with subordinates, including sexual and denigrating statements, to be elected U.S. House representative from Texas. Now he’s so excited about royalty that he wants DDT to be crowned the U.S. “MAGA King.” Maybe he didn’t know that Biden’s reference to DDT as “the great MAGA king” was a joke.  

August 19, 2022

The U.S. May Run Short on Water, Food As Well As All Other Commodities

Climate deniers claim that the world has always changed, that the U.S. has no problems. So what if we have severe storms that destroy people and kill people, rising sea levels wiping out coastal structures, excessive heat that kills more people, wildfires exacerbated from drought and heat. Let’s just wait until the “weather” changes, so sayeth these deniers. A question for them is what they will do when they no longer have food and water because of the droughts. And the problem is hitting the entire United States. The western half of the U.S. suffers a drought; the eastern part has severe floods. And parts of the West may have flash floods following the severe drought. 

Seven states in the West are facing the federal government’s reduction of Colorado River water allocations to Arizona and Nevada because they missed the deadline to develop a new water-sharing agreement. Arizona loses 21 percent of its former allocation, and Nevada will be down by 8 percent. The river serves seven states: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming in the Upper Basin and Arizona, California, and Nevada in the lower one.

The agreement was made a century ago when the river had much more water; now the region faces a 30-year drought that may last until 2030, the worst stretch for the region in over a millennium. As the climate warms, the snowpack feeding the 1,450 mile river steadily dimished, and ever-drier soils absorb runoff before it can reach reservoirs. More frequent extreme heat speeds up evaporation. For the first time, Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River, will be at a Tier 2 shortage in January, 1,050 feet below sea level. The expected level of 3,522 feet at Lake Powell is only 32 feet above an electricity-generating threshold known as the “minimum power pool.” [Lake Powell reservoir after three-fourths of its water disappeared.]

Kyle Roerink, executive director at the Great Basin Water Network, said the breakdown came from parties being focused only a deal benefiting themselves at the expense of others instead of a mutually beneficial agreement. They’re “talking about for legislation, litigation, other tactics to try and get the best deal, they believe, for their respective constituencies.”

Christopher Kuzdas, a senior water program manager with the Environmental Defense Fund, said that not all the water needed to be taken from the system during the past 20 years, but ignoring that possibility brought down the levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell. Other sources said that states kept drawing water to keep up its portion of the river withdrawals. Republicans in Arizona and Nevada should be grateful to the billions of dollars in drought preparedness provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, a new law that all their GOP representatives opposed. Thanks to Democrats, the two states can share in the $4 billion to rent, buy or save water for the beleaguered basin.

Why should anyone outside those seven states care about their problems? Eighty percent of the Colorado River’s water goes to irrigate 15 percent of the nation’s farmland and produce 90 percent of winter vegetables. There goes the food for the rest of the U.S.

 A new study has mapped the “extreme heat belt” by 2053 where the heat index can reach 125°F at least one day a year. Part of the belt is a three-state swath from Texas to Alabama through Iowa and Illinois into southern Wisconsin. Other parts go north from Florida to southern Pennsylvania, primarily along the coasts and southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The interactive map is here. The number of people suffering in this belt will rise to 107 million by 2053, but many coastal areas will have the 125°F by 2030. The states most likely to see the greatest growth in dangerous days are Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri and Florida with the greatest changes primarily in Florida. Many places currently with heat indices above 100°F for over 20 straight days may have 74 consecutive days by 2053. 

The megadrought in the West, worst in 1,200 years, is also causing problems with cattle-raising as pastures wither. Ranchers are forced to decide whether to sell early for less money or pray for rain—and lose everything. Eight-five percent of ranchers are selling part of their herds, and some farmers are even selling their breeding stock. Herds are down by 2.4 percent since last year, a decrease of 750,000 cows and a fall of two million since 2018. Cattle sales jumped to 120 percent in the last two weeks of July above the 2021 levels. Consumers will pay higher prices for meat for at least two more years.

The drought is lowering the level of the massive Ogallala Aquifer stretching underneath most of the Great Plains, much of it growing the protein-rich cattle feed. Over 80 percent of the West is in severe drought this year, up from 20 percent last year, and other three-fourths of farmers have pulled farmland out of production. During the last serious drought in Texas, 2008 to 2011, the state herd fell from 5.1 million to 3.9 million.

Beef and dairy cattle make up 62 percent of the 8.1 gigatons of global greenhouse gas emissions released worldwide by livestock. That means the world’s cattle industry is responsible for more emissions than the U.S. at 4.8 gigatons in 2021.

Chickens and pigs can be raised in captivity, but breeding beef cattle in confinement is difficult. About 27 percent of all cattle sold in the U.S. comes from herds of under 50. These small producers are the hardest hit by the drought. These are the ones liquidating herd sizes, especially because the younger generation doesn’t want to continue the business. As they leave, big business, such as Brazil’s JBS, takes over and charges higher prices which doesn’t go to the farmers and then use the prices as reason to import more beef from countries such as Brazil and Australia. Loss of these businesses destroys an entire chain of businesses from gate and fence installers to large animal veterinarians.

The climate disasters have been building throughout the past few years as the number of “billion-dollar” climate calamities increases. In the past four decades, the U.S. had an average of 7.7 annual billion-dollar disasters, but the annual average jumped to almost in the past five years. The last two years had 22 and 20, respectively with 2021 the seventh consecutive year of ten or more separate billion-dollar disasters. The 2021 cost was estimated $145 billion with almost 700 people killed. More statistics. If the country doesn’t suffer from drought, as in the map above, it may suffer from flooding. The East Coast is subject to losing its land and buildings from rising sea levels. 

A majority of people in the U.S.—71 percent—said their community experienced at least one form of extreme weather in the past year: heat, flooding, drought, wildfires or rising sea levels. These hazards are responsible for worsening 58 infectious diseases such as malaria, hantavirus, cholera, and anthrax. In addition, 233 non-infectious sicknesses such as allergies, asthma, and even animal bites can be connected to these climate hazards. Although the study did not find specific causation, scientists say that the results are a warning about climate and health.

The Supreme Court justices recommended by the Federalist Society and appointed by DDT were purchased by big business, including the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity closely tied to Leonard Leo, Federalist Society co-chair. With the support of Koch’s Republican Attorneys General Association and four Koch-funded entities, the opinion in West Virginia v. the EPA removed the government agency’s ability to make decisions to delay climate change with a congressional law.

The Republicans have decided to focus on inflation as their campaign talking point, hoping people will ignore the myriad problems they have caused for people besides climate change—DDT’s corruption, insurrection, anti-abortion, COVID, etc., etc. But the change in climate is a prime mover of increased prices. In the conservative Hill, David Super uses a loaf of bread to demonstrate how prices are rising across the board.

With the drought cutting back wheat in the dry regions, bakers must find an alternative supply. Oats might have come from a flooded region where half the crop was destroyed. Barley comes from the West, suffering from wildfires. The millet crops might be caught up in tornadoes where it’s stored in silos, and flax might be destroyed in ships downed by hurricanes. Prices go up because the same number of bakers bid for the product cut in half. And that’s just bread which is a prominent staple. People pay more for this one item at the grocery store or more for their meals they eat out. Higher prices for bread can mean higher prices for other food items.

Trouble growing wood and other building materials increase housing costs, and skyrocketing weather-related claims cause insurance companies to sharply raise premiums or deny homeowners coverage. Calamities also cause shortages in habitable areas. Disasters result in higher utility costs from both government and private companies, and transportation prices go up after storms damage bridges and wash out roads. The need for higher prices might be temporary, but businesses figure they can make them permanent and make a higher profit.

Thanks to conservative climate deniers who control the laws in the Senate, the people in the U.S. are on the way to shortages that are faced in non-developed countries from the U.S. rapid depletion of its resources and in the ocean.

August 1, 2022

Biden Takes Out al-Queda Leader, DDT Continues Idiocy, More News

In a fit of desperation, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) told his followers last Saturday that President Joe Biden’s recurrence of COVID is actually “Dementia” and that he is “thinking of moving, part time, to one of those beautiful Wisconsin Nursing Homes, where almost 100% of the residents miraculously … had the strength and energy to vote—even if those votes were cast illegally.” The post on DDT’s Truth Social is ironic on several levels, especially because his associates such as Steve Bannon and Joe Scarborough claim a decline in DDT’s mental abilities, even dementia.

Two days after DDT gave at least three false claims, including illegal votes from Wisconsin nursing homes, Biden, isolated with COVID, gave a brief speech about the U.S. killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan:

“Justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more. No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide — if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out… He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats and American interests.”

A CIA drone strike secretly killed only al-Zawahiri and didn’t hurt anyone else. In 2001, al-Zawahiri, who Rachel Maddow called Osama bin Laden’s “brains,” escaped, but U.S. intelligence located him in downtown Kabul earlier this year in a safe house. Biden has been briefed about ways to kill the al-Qaeda leader without danger to civilians or warning to the Taliban.

After September 11, 2001, al-Zawahiri built al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Asia, and Yemen. Second in command to bin Laden, he became leader after President Barack Obama killed bin Laden in 2011 and continued to call on attacks against the U.S. and its allies. Attacks were in Bali, Mombasa, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, and London—one of those killing 52 people in 2005. On July 31, al-Zawahiri came out onto a balcony about sunrise, and a drone killed him at 6:18 a.m. (9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday) with two Hellfire missiles.

The administration official said Monday that the Taliban was not warned ahead of the strike against al-Zawahiri, and that the al-Qaeda leader’s presence in the country was a violation of the Doha Agreement signed by the U.S. and the Taliban in 2020.

Biden had been criticized for removing U.S. troops from Afghanstan, but in his speech he said he “made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm, and I made a promise to the American people, that we continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.” He also gave thanks to the intelligence community for its work in the successful counterterrorism plot for several months with no leaks. This is the man who DDT accuses of having dementia.

Meanwhile, 50 miles from Ground Zero in New York City, where Saudi Arabia bankrolled the killing of thousands of people and sent 15 Saudis to attack the U.S., DDT is hosting the Saudis for the LIV golf tour at Bedminister (NJ). He thinks the tour will help the image of the country seen as having no human rights and murders journalists. DDT said the MBS’ killing of Washington Post’s reporter Jamal Khashoggi has “totally died down.”

In early 2020, NBC reported how DDT ignored intelligence reports on the senior terrorist figures who CIA was trying to find and kill, including al-Zawahiri, because he “had never heard of any of these people.” didn’t recognize the names. He finally picked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Yemeni al-Qaeda chief Qasim al-Rimi but kept referring to Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s youngest son because it was the only name DDT recognized, according to a Pentagon official. Hamza wasn’t planning attacks, but a U.S. airstrike killed him in 2018. Not reading or digesting detailed intelligence assessments, DDT says his “gut tells me more sometimes than anybody’s else’s brains can ever tell me.”

Former CIA official Douglas London, who led a unit targeting senior terrorists in 2018, said DDT had a “preference for a ‘celebrity’ targeted killing versus prioritizing options that could prove better for U.S. security.” London added, “It was not lost on us working the issue that the president pressed hardest for results in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.”

After 18 months, DDT’s lawyers have decided to prepare a legal defense against criminal charges from the DOJ, worried about prosecution for DDT’s role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Efforts exacerbated after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on June 12. Possible strategies include shifting blame from DDT to his advisers to find one or more fall guys, free speech, and the right to petition the government over a political grievance.

To support Russian president Vladimir Putin, DDT has also attacked “spoiled” Brittney Griner, saying she was “loaded up with drugs” and deserves to be in a Russian prison. Russian customs found under a gram of cannabis oil, worth about $5, in her luggage; she uses it for pain. Biden is trying to get her released.

Moody’s economists say that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will probably live up to its name by cooling inflation and providing a “material beneficial economic impact.” If passed, IRA “will nudge the economy and inflation in the right direction” with the $790 billion package completely paid for by higher taxes on corporations and wealthy households, enhanced enforcement, and lower Medicare drug costs. The bill lowers ACA healthcare premiums, funds clean energy projects, and reduces the government’s deficit. Taxes will slow growth to control price growth. The only question now is whether Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will stick to corporations and the Republicans.

In a “Mid-year Review,” a Bank of America executive wrote that “we hope” working conditions for working people in the U.S. will get worse so that they lose leverage in the labor market and “help push up the unemployment rate.” It’s his solution for dropping inflation, the reverse of what will be successful. In 2009 during the worst of George W. Bush’s recession, the unemployment ratio was 6.5, over six unemployed workers for every open job, compared to the present ratio of 0.5, two job openings per unemployed person.

The memo ignores the negative effects of high profits while lamenting its problem of high wages. Yet corporate profits are causing a big part of inflation with after-tax corporate profits rising to 11.8 percent from 8.1 percent at the beginning of 2020, an increase of $700 billion in profits per year and creating over 50 percent of recent price increases.

Oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron reported historic profits from the last three months. Exxon made $17.9 billion (not a typo) last quarter, up 273 percent from the same time last year, while Chevron made $11.6 billion. Exxon’s rate of income was $2,245.62 every second of every day for the past 92 days; Chevron made $1,462.11 per second. Together, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies announced $60 billion in profits for the past three months. They plan to spend much of the profit not on reinvesting in their businesses but on stock buybacks, which drives up the price of the stock. Gas prices on these profits make up almost half the increase in inflation during the past few months.

Rep. Joe Manchin (R-WV) issued a summary of the agreement that raises $739 billion in ten years:

  • Raising the corporate minimum tax to 15 percent ($313 billion) for businesses over $1 billion.
  • Reducing prescription drug pricing ($288 billion).
  • Increasing IRS tax enforcement ($124 billion).
  • Closing the “carried interest” loophole and taxing it as income ($14 billion).

The summary states the bill would decrease the deficit by over $300 billion, reduce inflation, lower energy costs, increase clean energy production, reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, create electric vehicle tax credits, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare recipients at $2,000, and lower the ACA premiums.

Convinced that Manchin had wedded himself to the GOP, Republicans are furious about his betrayal  and “double-cross” in supporting a bill that will make Democrats look good and help the people of the U.S. As satirist Andy Borowitz wrote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expelled Manchin from the GOP for “collaborating with the enemy.” In humor, Borowitz concluded his humor column: 

“The party leader said that ‘what hurts the most’ is that Manchin agreed to a deal that mitigates climate change and lowers health-care costs. ‘He no longer deserves to call himself a Republican,’ he said bitterly.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wants to be DDT’s vice president, and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claims that a ban on assault-style weapons would force people to eat dogs—as happened in Venezuela—because no one can “protect themselves against a tyrannical government.” She missed the part in her civics class that the Constitution permits guns such as muskets to block a professional army and protect the new nation against foreign countries. Boebert also ignored the ten years in the U.S. when assault-style weapons were banned: no requirement to eat dogs. People in New Zealand aren’t required to eat dogs after assault-style weapons were banned in 2019 after a massacre of 51 people in mosques. Venezuela is a popular scapegoat of the dingy far-right who claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged by machines approved by Hugo Chavez. He died in 2013.

July 13, 2022

News – Week of July 13, 2022

Updates: When Twitter gave Elon Musk 53 terabytes of raw user data, the company was concerned that he would use it for building his own social media platform. According to Twitter, Musk had only three plans: “sit on its board, buy it, or build a competitor.” If Musk tries to buy Twitter at a reduced price, his lawsuit could become the “world’s most expensive case of ‘if you break it, you pay for it.’” Delaware have forced other prospective buyers, such as Louis Vuitton maker LVHM in 2020, to comply with signed merger agreements.  

The feud between Musk and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) continues after Musk tweeted, “It’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset” after DDT called him “another bullsh–t artist.” DDT’s lengthy response slammed electric, “driverless cars, … rocketships to nowhere,” and more. Tesla laid off 229 employees in its Autopilot team and closed its San Mateo office, transferring other workers to another facility. Musk said he will be firing ten percent of Tesla’s workforce; his net worth has fallen $65 billion in the past three months, largely because of the 24-percent drop in Tesla stock value. In November 2021, Musk was worth $340 billion, but his assets fell 42 percent by May 2022 to $197.1 billion.

Notes about the January 6 debacle:

DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who may end up being the patsy for all the illegal activities setting up the insurrection, White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah Griffin that she shouldn’t resign after DDT lost the election because he wasn’t leaving the Oval Office.  

DDT’s Islamophobic supporter Brigette Gabriel wanted all January 6 hearings canceled “out of respect” for DDT while he mourns the death of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. One respondent pointed out that DDT barely knew Abe who was in the same room as DDT only a few times.

Alex Holder, the British director of a documentary film Unprecedented with footage from DDT, his family, and his allies, is under armed protective guard because of threats from DDT’s supporters.

More video footage of the insurrection planning comes from two conservative filmmakers, Jason Rink and Paul Escandon, who filmed footage of DDT’s friend Roger Stone and his protégé organizer of “Stop the Steal” Ali Alexander leading up to the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The documentary is to be called The Steal. Also starring in the film are insurrectionists Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and DDT’s former national security adviser Mike Flynn.  Stone also gave permission for a Danish documentary film crew to record his activities in the Willard Hotel, where DDT’s allies planned the election overturn. The content of the film footage is not known.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is really afraid of testifying to a Fulton County (GA) grand jury about his trying to interfere in its state 2020 presidential election: asking a federal court to quash a grand jury subpoena for his testimony in the Fulton County district attorney’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to undermine Georgia’s election results.

For the first time in seven years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will have a director after the Senate confirmed Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s second nomination after he withdrew David Chipman. The vote was 48-46 with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Rob Portman (OH) joining Democrats. The NRA called Dettelbach “anti-gun.”

After the six Supremes removed the right to abortion for all women in the U.S., Biden signed an executive order in an attempt to mitigate the removal of reproductive rights. It tries to strengthen existing provisions for medication abortion, emergency care, contraception access, resources, and information. Doctors and hospitals in all states accepting federal funding must provide abortions to women whose lives are at risk through the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). The federal mandate preempts state law that doesn’t permit a woman’s life to be saved.

The story about a raped 10-year-old Ohio girl forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion resulted in great skepticism from conservatives, including Ohio’s Republican AG Dave Yost, who claimed it was fake reporting to push for legalized abortion. The 27-year-old rape suspect was arrested after he confessed to raping the child at least twice at the same time the Wall Street Journal published an editorial doubting the victim’s truthfulness. Ohio GOP Gov. Mike DeWine agreed with Yost that the rape is likely a “fabrication.” Evidencing approval of the arrest, DeWine and Yost did not issue any apologies for their attacks on the girls and her doctor. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) deleted his tweet about the reporting about the rape that ended, “Another lie. Anyone surprised?” The surprise is that anyone reports a rape.

With abortion gone in some states and contraception on the chopping block, some men are getting prepared. Anecdotally, the interest in vasectomies has largely grown since the announcement from the six Supremes in late June. A Kansas City (MO) doctor said his vasectomy consults skyrocketed 900 percent since then, and a Laredo (TX) described a similar uptick. Same for urologists in Idaho and Tampa Bay. According to a research company, searches for “where can I get a vasectomy?” spiked 850 percent. While 18 percent of women use tubal ligation, an invasive surgical procedure, for birth control, only six percent of men in the U.S. have vasectomies.

Suggestions that the pro-forced-birth legislators should help women and children in the future chaos of more births and parental hardship following the six Supremes’ mandate blocking abortions have fallen on deaf ears. Democrats have supported assistance through direct cash or family leave, but Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said that “supporting families and family formation [is] separate and apart from the abortion questions.” No one on the right is disagreeing with them, and many Republicans claim their opposition to more federal assistance means they don’t support children. The U.S. already does enough to support families, according to the GOP.

Only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) believes in a monthly cash allowance for families. Two other GOP senators, Steve Daines (MT) and Richard Burr (NC), propose “child” tax credit for the fetus until it becomes a baby but say it won’t pass anyway. A few Republicans, like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) support paid parental leave by taking the money out of later Social Security benefits. GOP ideas come from their philosophy that reducing material hardship removes any desire to have a job.

Republicans are also silent about the new jobs report for June—an additional 372,000. The private sector has recovered all the jobs that DDT lost during the pandemic plus more. During the second quarter of 2022, Biden created more jobs during that period of time in almost 40 years.  For the first half of 2022, 2.63 jobs have been added, more than any full year under DDT even before the pandemic. Despite an additional 9.37 jobs since Biden’s inauguration, the GOP blames Democrats for poor job growth but gives them no credit for job growth.

The media focuses on the annualized inflation being higher than a year ago, but it actually shrank a bit from June 2022 to the previous June. Core inflation in June, excluding gasoline and food, is expected to be the third month of slowing. Retail prices will likely drop because retailers miscalculated some inventories, and container costs of shipping and airlines are falling. The Federal Reserve also plans to peak out prime rate with one more 0.75 percent increase on top of June’s 0.75 percent.  

After whining about inflation, Fox hosts are now upset because gas prices are declining too fast. According to Martha MacCallum, lower gas prices are bad for “mom-and-pop” gas station owners.

The DOJ is suing Arizona to block its law, set to take effect in January, requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration. In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Arizona’s proof of citizenship law, and this new law violates the National Voter Registration Act, according to DOJ. State law already requires Arizona voters in state elections to provide proof of citizenship, but this law extends the requirement to federal election. Registering to vote in federal elections requires attesting under penalty of perjury but doesn’t require proof until this new law. County records or election officials who don’t attempt to verify citizenship status and registers voters without documentation can be charged with a felony. Federal statutes do not require this documentation. Arizona already requires attestation of citizenship on the ballot; lying is a crime.

California now has a law modeled after Texas’ law allowing private citizens to sue people enabling abortions. The Supreme Court refused to block the law so California now has a law allowing private citizens to sue gun manufacturers and distributors whose produces cause them harm. When signing the bill, Gov. Gavin Newsom said “that nearly every industry is held to account when their products cause harm or injury, except one: the gun industry.”

Rules require “reasonable controls” to keep guns from people most likely to cause harm such as systems to prevent gun sales to straw purchasers, gun traffickers, everyone legally prohibited from owning firearms, and those whom the business has a reasonable concern might unlawfully harm themselves or others. A 2005 federal law bans state and federal lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, but a clause in that law allows lawsuits if a firearms business “knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product” and harm was directly caused because of it.

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.

January 18, 2022

President Biden’s First Year

Thursday is the first anniversary of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, and the media have preached doom and gloom for his prospects since Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) turned against the voting act and Build Back Better jobs bill months ago. His average polling at this time is 42 percent, and COVID’s variant Omicron has sent the number of infections and even deaths sky high after Republicans decided they wouldn’t get vaccinated. A higher-than-usual inflation rate, blamed on Biden, also comes from price gouging by big businesses while they pay far less or no taxes than before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Hurt by storms, lack of manufacturing, and a shortage of labor from the pandemic also attacked the supply chain. Biden was blamed for its problems but given no credit for improvement. 

History, however, shows that serious problems in a president’s first year doesn’t predict defeat. Two-term Ronald Reagan spent his first year in a serious economic recession after disastrous anti-inflationary policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, and the two political parties were fighting about Reagan’s shredding the social safety net. Reagan’s approval fell to 41 percent within 18 months in a far less politically polarized time with no pandemic and no sniping from a former president. His standing improved with his taking credit for a better economy, and he won in 1984 by standing up against the Soviet Union.

Bill Clinton, also two terms, won his second election in 1996 despite problems with the recovering recession during the first year of his first term and a population angered by his health plan. Fifteen months after his first inauguration, his approval rating dropped to 37 percent, and the GOP took over Congress in 1994, shutting down the government in both 1995 and 1996. Voters put the blame on House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the other Republican for the legislative dysfunction. Clinton also received praise for his toughness after the April 1995’s bombing by an extremist in Oklahoma City, and he ended his second term with an approval rating of 66 percent despite his GOP impeachment.

When Barack Obama became president in 2009, the country was in dire economic circumstances from George W. Bush’s wars, tax cuts, and deregulated housing. Conservatives bitterly fought Obama for his Affordable Care Act, worrying people on the left. His approval rating dropped from 68 percent at inauguration to 46 percent 21 months later, and, as is customary, the midterm elections gave House control to Republicans. As usual under Democrats, the economy rebounded even when Republicans threatened catastrophe by fighting an increase in the debt ceiling.  

Republican Jennifer Rubin describes the media’s destructive tendencies toward Biden in her column, “Dear Media, Stop Giving Republicans the Benefit of the Doubt.” In the media’s efforts “to make the authoritarian and often blatantly racist party seem ‘normal,’” it depicted Virginia’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, as distancing himself from DDT, according to Rubin. “The coverage rarely scrutinized his positions, such as his potentially disastrous proposed tax cuts or his aversion to mask mandates, a critical part of Virginia’s school reopening.” His first day on the job, Youngkin catered to white supremacists by banning critical race theory, not taught in the schools, from the curriculum as well as blocking mask mandates. Rubin continues with more examples and explains:

“This refusal by the media to render judgment on the GOP’s cult leaders has gone on for more than six years. Despite replete evidence of Trump’s inability to distinguish truth from fiction, his self-image of grandiosity and his fixation on conspiracy theories, the mainstream media failed to characterize Trump’s conduct as abnormal.”

In DDT’s Arizona rally last weekend, he insisted on this lie:

“The left is now rationing lifesaving therapeutics based on race, discriminating against and denigrating, just denigrating, White people to determine who lives and who dies. If you’re White, you don’t get the vaccine, or if you’re White, you don’t get therapeutics.”

DDT’s referred to violent insurrectionists on January 6 as “political prisoners”; 200 of them already pled guilty to crimes. Then he bragged about the size of his crowd that day as “the largest crowd I’ve ever spoken before.” Politico covered the crowd cheered “as [DDT] aired complaints about the election and made swipes at the Biden administration.” Rubin asked if he was “airing complaints” or “making positively ludicrous claims.” She concludes:

“Anodyne descriptions that slot Trump’s antics into “politics as usual” mislead news consumers. To make matters worse, interviewers avoid asking Republicans how they can pledge loyalty to someone so bonkers.

“Certainly, the media should avoid rendering a psychiatric evaluation for Trump. But they routinely refuse to convey the abnormality on display before them. This is “the emperor has no clothes” on steroids.

“Unflinching, brutally honest coverage would describe Trump’s behavior accurately, including his syntax and preposterous lies. It would concede this conduct would be disqualifying for any business executive or even a small-town mayor. The media are compelled to level with voters: The two parties are not equivalent, in part because one treats its crackpot leader like a messiah. Unfortunately, there are no signs the media are ready for such candor.”

In a demonstration of Rubin’s criticism of the media, Politico’s daily West Wing Playbook, a summary of the Biden administration, began with “Even JENNIFER RUBIN thinks JOE BIDEN is in trouble,” citing her column, “Biden needs a reset. Here’s how he can do it.” It ignored her commentary on the media. 

A year ago, Biden identified four major issues: COVID, climate, economy, and racial justice. Since then, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin made Ukraine another one, and Republicans added the loss of democracy in the United States.

COVID: Vaccinations went well until Republicans refused them, helping cause first the Delta variant and then the Omicron. His plan to provide free testing, however, took off a day early with federal mailings of tests or insurance companies paying for tests.

Climate: Senate Republicans plus Democratic senators Manchin and Sinema delayed many of his plans, including the Build Back Better bill, although he issued several executive orders to fight global warming. Biden has made several appointments prioritizing climate change, reversed DDT’s anti-environmental policies, and rejoined the Paris climate accords.

Economy: Jobless claims are at a 50-year low, the stock market has hit records, and the nation’s economy is the fastest-growing in the world with 6.4 million jobs added, the most for any first-year president, and unemployment dropped from 6.3 percent to 3.9 percent in a year, the lowest for the pandemic. The GDP grew by seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and wages rose by 4.7 percent in the past year. With almost no media on these improvement, most people notice only the seven-percent inflation for the year, the most in 40 years from struggles in the supply chain, Middle East oil prices, and unfettered free enterprise allowing businesses to profit by trillions of dollars. 

Racial justice: Biden’s infrastructure law has provided $5 billion for Black farmers, and he named an historically diverse administration. He is still pushing for a voting rights law despite opposition from Republicans and the two Democratic senators.

Russia: Standing firm against Putin’s attempt to take over Ukraine, Biden makes a huge contrast to DDT.

Democracy: In Georgia, Biden made his strongest speech thus far, indicating that he understands he cannot persuade the Republicans to support democracy and instead must fight for it. He has always supported bipartisanship, but by the end of his first year, he understands that the only unity with the majority of the GOP legislature would be to cave in to everything they want. This majority believes their only solution is to follow DDT’s “big lie” of a stolen election, one that supports white supremacy. In the upcoming year, the House January 6 investigation committee will be one of the leading tools to support democracy for the United States.

Journalist Dan Froomkin decries the lack of coverage regarding the erosion of democracy as conservatives promote authoritarianism and fascism. In December, columnist Dana Milbank wrote:

“The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians.”

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen told CNN’s Brian Stelter:

“News organizations have to come out and say, we are pro-democracy, pro-truth, pro-science, pro- evidence, pro-voting. Then they have to figure out for each of those new pros, what practices are we going to retire because they don’t meet that standard, and what are we going to start to do routinely that we didn’t do before?”

Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein called on journalists to “cover democracy like it matters.” And columnist Margaret Sullivan despaired that “news organizations are not making democracy-under-siege a central focus of the work they present to the public.” The Columbia Journalism Review gave more journalistic failings regarding a support for democracy in the press. The Fourth Estate needs to consider democracy in the second year of Biden’s term. 

In addition to fighting the massive far-right media, Biden must push against a selfish criminal who, like many of his supporters, believes himself the legal president of the U.S., and the “mainstream” media, owned by conservatives, searching for excitement, not accuracy. Conservatives view Biden’s politeness as weakness and dementia, and opposition from a political party determined to win at any costs is considered lack of unity. Yet he’s brought the nation a long way in just 365 days.

December 30, 2021

Republicans Glory in Their Manufactured ‘Poor’ Economy

As 2021 ends, moans about inflation and people quitting their jobs fill the media. At the same time, the media ignores the booming economy. At the end of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) rule, the economy followed the trajectory of COVID, going downhill into a disaster that DDT worsened for his efforts to be reelected. Less than a year after the inauguration, the economy has turned around, despite the worsening COVID cases from variants caused by people who refused vaccinations. How good are things? Here’s some indication.

Part of the change comes from President Joe Biden putting money into the hands of the poor and middle-class instead of using DDT’s approach to provide trillions to big business and the wealthy. His stimulus bill, passed only by Democrats but later touted by Republicans with their constituents prevented the recession and dropped unemployment to 4.2 percent. National economic consultant Robert J. Shapiro described “extraordinary gains” of the first three quarters of 2021:

“Real GDP increased at a 7.8 percent annual rate—that’s adjusted for the current inflation. The Federal Reserve expects real growth of 5.9 percent for all of 2021, followed by another 3.8 percent increase in 2022.”

By contrast, the real GOP grew at an annual average rate of 2.2 percent, never reaching even three percent, in the two previous decades. In this year’s stock market, the S&P Index, reporting the most diversified stocks, jumped 21.7 percent from January 20, Biden’s inauguration day, to December 7, 2021. People’s disposable income grew three percent after inflation between January and October compared to 0.5 percent increase in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2018. Since January, unemployment fell by one-third, and wages climbed.

U.S. economic output jumped over seven percent in the last quarter of 2021, and overall growth for the year should be about six percent with another four percent increase in 2022—the highest increases in decades. During the same period, China’s growth is predicted at 4 percent and the Eurozone at two percent. U.S. companies have profit margins of 15 percent, higher than since 1950. Matthew A. Winkler wrote:  

“[The U.S. is] outperforming the world by the biggest margin in the 21st century, and with good reason: America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden’s first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years….” 

The jobless rate dropped from 6.2 percent in February, Biden’s first month in office, to 4.2 percent. His administration created 4.1 million jobs, more than new jobs in the 12 years of George W. Bush and DDT. Biden is the only president over the past half century with robust increases in non-farm payrolls (4.3 percent) and manufacturing jobs (2.6 percent). approaching the gains enjoyed by Carter in general employment (4.6%) and factory workers (3.9%).

Wages in the U.S. are increasing at an annual rate of four percent compared with under one percent in the Eurozone. The American Rescue Plan, passed by only Democrats in March cut child poverty in half when it put $66 billion into 36 million households. Over 4.6 million more people have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act—a total of 13.6 million insured people under the law. On Biden’s inauguration day, only 46 percent of the schools were open; now 99 percent are.

On the foreign-exchange market, the dollar strengthened 7.37 percent this year, the most under a presidential first year since Ronald Reagan. U.S. stocks outperformed the world equity market by 6.3 percentage points, the biggest advantage since 1988.   

Biden’s ratings in market and economic indicators for his first year when compared to seven previous presidents–no one matching Biden’s combination of No. 1 and No. 2 rankings:

  • Gross domestic product (1)
  • Profit growth (1)
  • S&P 500 performance (2)
  • Consumer credit (1)
  • Non-farm payrolls (2)
  • Manufacturing jobs (2)
  • Business productivity (2)
  • Dollar appreciation (2)
  • S&P 500 relative performance (2)

November saw the passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to repair roads and bridges while getting broadband to areas lacking it. Over 93 percent of House Republican and 62 percent of GOP senators refused to support the infrastructure bill although many of them are now taking credit with its benefits when talking to their constituents. The law will help 2022 because it creates jobs. Republicans voted against it to keep Biden from positive publicity.

The only complaint people seem to have about Biden’s economy seems to be inflation, at 6.8 percent in November and the highest in 39 years. Yet gas prices are falling, under $3 a gallon in 12 states and $.25 a gallon lower in 36 U.S. cities, with skyrocketing gasoline inventories.  

The media were traumatized by problems with the supply chain, but 99 percent of packages arrived on time for the holiday, an improvement over the past two years. While U.S. major ports process almost one-fifth more containers in volume than two years earlier, European port container traffic stayed flat or declined. Consumer goods moved off the shelves at a 45 percent higher rate than in 2018, and expenditures is estimated at 11.5 percent more for the holiday season than a year ago. Consumer demand was a huge problem for the global supply chain bottlenecks.

According to polls, 63 percent said they think the nation’s economy is in bad shape because of bad news, and only 19 percent hear the good news about the economy. Part of that comes from how GOP congressional members have falsely convinced 91 percent of their party that the U.S. economy is in fair/poor condition. 

Why are people complaining about higher prices? Medications, rentals, houses costs, health insurance, etc.—the prices for all these have gone through ceiling for several years, but the media has never pushed them as “inflation.” At the same time, wages stayed largely static, but most people didn’t view these problems as a crisis. Now even with inflation outpacing the current wage increases, the bottom 60 percent of workers have more money left over than during pre-pandemic.

Publicity about inflation is being sensationalized by corporate lobbying groups such as the Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to promote conservatism. Corporate media looks for one family drinking 48 gallons of milk to push the idea of milk inflation, actually higher a decade ago, or complaints about gas prices, again higher a decade ago, by someone driving an older gas-guzzler. Corporations wanting to lower wages falsely state salary increases for lower-paid workers causes inflation. Yet the following issues are not addressed in the mainstream media:

Inflation by the Top: Corporate greed and power are jacking up the prices for the wealthy who can then spend tens of millions of dollars in speculation and purchasing “digital art” only on their computers. Income gains for the rich far outpaced inflation.

Corporate Consolidation: A few companies dominate the market for essential goods such as diapers and meat and insulin. At the same time, Republicans fight any kind of regulation to control unreasonable increases in prices.

Wars and Fossil Fuels: Despite fear mongering about government spending, the deficit, and inflation, Congress is delighted to pass a military budget larger than presidents’ requests. For political reasons, some presidents also start wars with the hopes they will provide reelection. Gas prices are also highly volatile because they are controlled in the Middle East, but conservatives fight clean energy which is less liable to inflation.

Health Care and Housing Costs: Conservative lawmakers refuse pass laws to address long-term inflation: healthcare costs have risen faster in the past 30 years than in any other sector, but conservatives won’t control drug prices.  

The Fed Tradeoff: The Federal Reserve requirement to maintain price stability and maximum employment is managed largely by adjusting interest rates and buying government bonds. Sixteen months ago, Chair Jerome Powell changed its inflation policy. Instead of keeping interest rates high leading to low inflation and keeping unemployment high enough to block worker bargaining power, he kept low interest rates to reach full employment with concern for high inflation. At this time, higher interest rates would slow market recovery; higher inflation is less devastating than mass unemployment. 

Price Controls: Congress could lower inflation without mass unemployment if it created price controls, used in the past during wartime. This move would block corporations from jacking up prices beyond the increased cost of input to report huge profits. During the first nine months of 2021, the world’s biggest fossil fuel corporations made $174 billion in profits–$74.9 net income for two dozen of them in just the third quarter.

Climate Change: Conservatives refuse to recognize the existence of global warming, but food prices have gone up because of changes in crop yield.

It’s to the advantage of Republicans to keep inflation high because it helps their chances of having majorities in the legislators. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called it a “gold mine.”  Just like using a strategy of promoting COVID infections and deaths to make Democrats look bad, conservatives care nothing for people. They just want to keep their position and gather wealth. And like COVID, they won’t fix it if they become the majority party.

December 19, 2021

Lord Manchin says ‘No!’

When I was a graduate student at a university in a small Kansas town, I lived in a shabby apartment infested with cockroaches. My cat would chase down one of the insects, catching it on the carpet and taking off one of the legs. It would crawl to the carpet’s edge reaching the wooden floor. You could almost see the sigh of relief before the cat batted it back onto the carpet. Once again, it crawled away from the cat who had taken another leg. The scene occurred time and time again until, finally, the the cat put the cockroach out of its misery. I thought about that torture when, over a decade ago, the Republicans demanded to erase important provisions, time and time again, from the Affordable Care Act. Time and time again, Democrats gave and gave to the Republicans for their support, but at the end, not one Republican voted for the watered-down bill they said they wanted.

The same process happened again over the Build Better Act (BBB), a bill that to help at least two-thirds of the people in the United States with jobs, childcare, etc. while not adding to the debt. Time and time again, the BBB has been watered down and stripped of important provisions, this time not because of Republicans but because two Democratic senators insist on demonstrating their power. Today, the bill may be dead after “Lord” Sen. Joe Manchin (R-KY) announced with much fanfare on Fox network and no notification to Democrats that he refuses to vote for the bill he had helped create.

Every time, the bill was close to passing, Manchin would put it off—later in the fall, then not until Christmas, and the most recent excuse, next year. Today, he pompously announced, “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.” His excuse this time was the national debt which Dictator Donald Trump (a Republican in case you’re forgotten) raised by $7.8 trillion during his four years. Of course, Manchin had not problem adding to the military bill each year, including the one for next year despite no idea where the money goes and the U.S. finally getting out of its two long wars started by George W. Bush, another Republican. He also damned “my Democratic colleagues in Washington [who] are determined to dramatically reshape our society in a way that leaves our country even more vulnerable to the threats we face.” (Manchin never bothers to explain anything he says.)

Manchin knows that no Republican will vote for BBB because of their fear that Democrats will gain votes by benefiting people. Without Manchin, the bill won’t have the 50 votes necessary to pass the Senate. As Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, pointed out, Manchin reneged on his promise last week to work for a compromise agreement after Democrats made one compromise after another, removing over half the bill’s expenditure. Before today’s declaration, Manchin had provided his own concept for the BBB, also costing $1.85 trillion.

Although Manchin claims he doesn’t want to spend the money for the bill, he said this week that his new outline costs the same. In fact, he doesn’t want the provisions that might cause him to lose any money, both from his businesses and his Republican donors. Manchin’s daughter, who works for a large pharmaceutical company, opposes regulations on drug prices; during her career, she has ensured that her employers gain massive profits by huge increases in drug prices. The BBB would save $700 billion during the next decade, but the pharmaceutical industry has spent $263 million on lobbying against the bill this year with millions more going to a dark money group. Manchin’s campaign received over $1.5 million from corporations opposed to BBB.

Manchin comes from one of the poorest states in the nation, and the BBB would benefit his constituents. His refusal removes a $300 monthly payment to families with children, a payment he supported for the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package under nine months ago. Gone will be health coverage for 3.4 million more people. Medicare drug prices can’t be regulated. Slowing down climate change disappears, despite the state’s devastating floods. Manchin sees no need for paid family and medical leave although the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without these benefits. He had already decreased the time for this benefit to four weeks.

In 2018, Manchin’s net worth was $7.6 million and is higher now. The 2021 media household income in West Virginia is $51,615, almost $30,000 under the national average. The expanded child tax credit alone would cut poverty by 40 percent in the nation. Health care in West Virginia is abysmal: one-fourth of the people don’t have their natural teeth, the highest rate in the U.S., because they can’t afford dental care. Manchin says adding dental care to Medicare costs too much.

Also in West Virginia:

  • No state in the lower 48 is more vulnerable to flood damage.
  • Forty-six of the state’s roads are at risk of inundation.  
  • Sixty-one percent of its power plants are at risk, twice the national average.
  • Slanted trade deals destroyed one-third of its manufacturing jobs, and energy innovation destroyed most of its coal jobs, thus the entire industry. Wages and income for coal miners dropped from 16 percent of the state’s total labor income in 1982 to seven percent by the mid-1990s. 
  • A disproportionate number of the poorest parents without jobs live in the state.

With his wealth, Manchin complains about an “entitlement mentality” from providing child and health care for poor people on low wages. His participation in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) contributed to their drafting and spreading model bills to block labor unions, public-school funding, welfare, voting rights and environmental regulations. Senior lobbyist for ExxonMobil Keith McCoy called him the “kingmaker” on ridding legislation of emissions reductions and fossil-fuel companies’ taxes, including his own. Manchin claimed that Franklin D. Roosevelt, who created Social Security, never sent “a damn penny to a human being.” FDR talked about his “struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.  They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” Those are the real “entitlements.”

Manchin’s family business makes millions of dollars by selling waste coal from abandoned mines to a power plant emitting air pollution at a higher rate than any other plant in the state. It’s a good reason for him to fight any changes slowing climate change. He claims it’s in a blind trust, but much of his earnings comes from outside that trust. Manchin wants coal power over clean electricity, a much cheaper alternative, and his state’s electricity costs increased five times more than the national average between 2010 and 2019.

With four percent of the population, the U.S. supplies 20 percent of global CO2 emissions. Oceans absorb carbon dioxide, making them more acidic which kills marine life. When there is no more room for absorption, the rest of it stays in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years, keeping the earth hot. China’s President Xi Jinping  just announced the world’s largest wind-and-solar farm, generating four times the number of gigawatts that the U.S. does at this time. By 2025, unsubsidized solar power with battery storage in China will be cheaper than coal. Manchin has joined the Republicans in coming in second—or farther down—to China.

Manchin says BBB will add to inflation, but no legitimate study proves that. Instead, the bill cuts out-of-pocket costs for childcare, healthcare, housing, eldercare, and energy. And it would be paid by tax increases on large corporations, slashed under DDT and the Republicans.

In an attempt to excuse his refusal to support people with the BBB, Manchin cites fake Republican numbers. The Congressional Budget Office predicted BBB would add $36.7 billion a year to the deficit—compared to the annual $2 trillion DDT added—but the Treasury said the increased IRS enforcement in the bill would decrease the deficit. To persuade Manchin, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the cost of making all the programs in the bill permanent for ten years would cost add almost $300 billion per year for ten years. That isn’t the bill that’s being voted on. Psaki said the goal was to “pay for the $2 trillion tax cuts that Republicans didn’t pay for.”

Democrats have been careful about criticizing Manchin for his close friendship with Republicans and rejection of Democratic bills because, after all, he is important as a member of the Senate Democratic majority—for this term. The Democrats’ struggle to work with Manchin and support him, however, is likely gone. While Republicans welcome Manchin with open arms, Democratic lawmakers recommend that they ignore him and proceed to vote on the bill in January, letting him show people in West Virginia that he will deny them all benefits. Other Democrats say he is clearly not “a man of his word” no matter how much he brags about having this characteristic. Manchin may have overplayed his arrogance.

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