Nel's New Day

June 3, 2023

Biden’s Good News, Problems from the GOP

May added 339,000 new jobs in the U.S., far above the projected 190,000. In 27 months, President Joe Biden added 13.6 million new jobs, over double those in the first three years of former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). And DDT lost all his jobs in his fourth year, bungling management during the Covid pandemic. Republicans will stay silent.

With the dark cloud of default gone, the Dow increased 710 points on June 2, over two percent. S&P went up almost 1.5 percent, and Nasdaq over 1 percent.

The removal of Title 42, the Covid rule keeping immigrants from crossing the southern border, has produced no large influx in migrants. Instead, the number plummeted from 65,000 living in northern Mexico ready to cross into the U.S. now at 20,000. More of them are using the asylum app provided by the U.S. government to book appointments for asylum. 

The Biden administration is tackling racial bias in home valuations that produce lower values for homes owned by people of color. It will also create an easier path for consumers to appeal possibly unbiased valuation. According to VP Kamala Harris, building assets through home ownership is vital, and Black and Latino families’ homes are more the most likely to be undervalued.

A Missouri nonprofit is providing free emergency contraception by mail, legal in the state. Federal Title X funds for family planning programs provide the necessary money. The medication, also known as the morning-after pill and Plan B, can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex to avoid pregnancy by preventing ovulation. Available over the counter, it’s legal in all 50 states. For almost a year, Missouri has outlawed abortion except for medical emergencies.

In Connecticut, two Republican members of the Newtown Board of Education resigned after a book-banning debate in which they voted to restrict two books: Mike Curato’s Flamer, chronicling  a queer Filipino-American teen bullied for his race, his weight and his effeminate presentation, and Craig Thompson’s Blankets, depicting a boy’s struggle with religion, relationships, and sexual abuse. One resigned member cited the need for a better work-life balance and the other, “abhorrent” behavior by people attending public meetings.

The district superintendent and a committee composed of the school principal, medial specialist, two teachers, and an assistant superintendent unanimously agreed to keep the widely-acclaimed books on the shelf. The superintendent said that parents wanting to pull the novels use a double standard, opposing books personally offending them while retaining others possibly bothering people of different identities or political persuasions. He said that parents can choose what their children do and don’t read but shouldn’t impose those preferences on other families.The librarian said the book challenges are the worst since the 1950s Red Scare.

At a June 1 school board meeting, the school board unanimously agreed to keep the books in the library. State lawmakers are proposing subsidies for “sanctuary libraries,” making available challenged or banned books. Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of a shooting massacre a little over a decade ago, is in Newtown.

Utah’s new book banning bill blocks those with “pornographic or indecent” content, defining the terms so loosely that many age-appropriate books addressing characters’ gender, sexuality, and race have been eliminated. A parent complained about a book including “incest, onanism, bestiality, prostitution, genital mutilation, fellatio, dildos, rape, and even infanticide”—the Bible. The district banned it from elementary and middle school libraries for containing “vulgarity or violence.” Another parent appealed the removal; the district fill form a committee of three Davis School District’s Board of Education members to make a recommendation  and submit it to the board for a vote.

DDT has another reason to avoid the GOP presidential debates on August 23 and 24: the RNC will require all participants to agree that they will support the primary winner for the general election. Criteria to participate include the number of donations from each state.

In a win for labor union protection with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting, the high court ruled against unionized drivers who walked off their jobs leaving trucks loaded with wet cement. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act mandates unions take reasonable precautions to protect an employer’s property when workers strike. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented, agreeing with the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling that the complaint should have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board that has the responsibility to decide labor disputes. The three most conservative justices—Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas—wanted to reverse many protections for striker rights. Alito told the plaintiff and other business interests to refile lawsuits against the union.

In an unusual pro-union decision for this court, seven of the nine justices required the Ohio National Guard to deduct payroll union dues. Alito and Gorsuch dissented from the majority.The ruling also confirmed the power of a federal agency, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), over a state government militia. Union opponents view the decision as an opening to intrusive federal power in the workplace.

The decision permits voluntary paycheck dues deductions for “dual-status” civilian members of the National Guard, full-time civilian employees of the Guard who are also part-time uniformed military members. The Supreme Court also allows the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to resolve disputes involving National Guard units that report to both state and federal officials. Claiming that the National Guard wasn’t bound by the labor relations statute, state officials stopped withholding union dues for 89 employees in 2016. 

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who won’t turn over information he gathers for the Judiciary Committee to any Democratic members, is demanding that the DOJ report a breakdown of the number of FBI personnel working on the John Durham case, including whether any have previously investigated DDT.

The end to the default threat revealed previously unknown promises that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) supposedly made to Freedom Caucus members to get their votes for his position. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) sited an agreement refusing bills with more Democratic votes than Republican ones. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said the GOP members on the Rules Committee had to unanimously vote for bills to be moved to the House floor. Earlier he gave the number as seven. Despite these claims, eight Freedom Caucus members voted for the debt ceiling bill. The Freedom Caucus learned that the House doesn’t need their votes to pass bills. 

Will Saletan calls the obstructionist subset of the Freedom Caucus the Antagonism Caucus. Biggs explained Republicans should vote for bills with Democratic support. Democrats didn’t like the bill’s provisions, but they didn’t want a default. The Antagonism Caucus was willing to send the U.S. into a spiraling default. Rep. Bob Good (R-PA) complained that House GOP has a disgusting habit of associating with Democrats. The Antagonism Caucus also hates approval by moderate—or reasonable—Republicans and acceptance by conservative Bill Kristol. Even Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), formerly considered “reasonable,” follows the AC position. Republicans who claim they want unity oppose anything the other party supports.  

A fact check about McCarthy’s claim that the new law “is the largest cut that Congress has ever voted on, more than $2.1 trillion” garnered three Pinocchios from Glenn Kessler. McCarthy’s statement came from a preliminary Congressional Budget Office estimate leaked by GOP sources assuming caps will remain for the next six years. Only the first two years of caps on discretionary budgets are semi-binding, meaning huge loopholes. Inflation makes McCarthy’s cuts flat for the next two years.

The biggest debt reduction deal in the past four decades was the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, 1.72 percent of GDP, but the Supreme Court invalidated the law. Three other agreements—those in 1990, 1993 and 2011—exceeded 1 percent of GDP, but many of the cuts were later reversed. McCarthy’s $2.1 trillion, based on savings over ten years that included net interest savings from budget caps over six years, did not account for inflation or a measure of the percentage of GDP.

After the agreement was made, the CBO released its official score: $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over ten years if only the first two years of caps remain in place. That would be the smallest of the seven deficit-reduction deals.

The media praises McCarthy’s great leadership, but Democrats had to bail him out. More of them voted to save the country than Republicans, and Biden orchestrated the entire process. Biden succeeded where DDT failed; the current president negotiated and compromised, a skill DDT said he had before he bullied and got nothing. In 27 months, Biden’s bipartisan achievements were an infrastructure package, CHIPS and Science Act, expansion of veterans benefits in the PACT Act, Respect for Marriage Act, Postal Service Reform Act, and the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the first major law addressing gun violence in almost three decades. DDT? Bupkis.  

Wooing the far-right, McCarthy’s surrogate, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), said he is giving full access to the Capitol security footage from the January 6, 2021 insurrection to three conspiracy-peddler “journalists”—John Solomon, Julie Kelly, and “a third outlet.” Solomon was fired from the conservative Hill after he laundered Rudy Giuliani’s theories to claim Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election and the Biden family, not DDT, held up funding to Ukraine. Kelly accused the policeman attacked in the insurrection of being a “crisis actor” and the pipe bombs left near political parties a hoax.

Greene has mysteriously changed her delight in releasing the footage to a warning that their release could “put the security of the Capitol at risk.” She told Real America Voice that left-wing groups could use facial-recognition technology to identify people in the videos and “hand them over” to the FBI and DOJ.

June 1, 2023

Debt Ceiling Solved Until 2025, plus Extras

On June 1, the U.S. had only four days before defaulting on its past debts; Republicans planned to deny these payments if their opposition didn’t pass draconian cuts in the nation’s discretionary budget. President Joe Biden’s “negotiations” led to an agreement going to the House, much to the dismay of the far-right Freedom Caucus members. Passed in that chamber on May 31, the bill moved to the Senate on June 1, and the bill, which included no debt ceiling hostage until January 2025 after the next general election, passed at 10:54 pm on June 1, 63-37, after a fast-track agreement between Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  

In the Senate, 44 Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 2 independent voted in favor of the bill; four Democrats, 31 Republicans, and 1 independent opposed it. Biden will sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. How each senator voted

In the House, the bill passed 314-117 for the 99-page measure, 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans in favor,  46 Democrats and 71 Republicans opposed, and two Republicans highly opposed to the bill, Jim Banks (IN) and Lauren Boebert (CO), showing up too late to vote. How each representative voted—or didn’t. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had claimed over 95 percent of his caucus was excited about the bill: he overestimated them by almost 30 percent.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), a bill obstructionist, complained about having only three days in which to read 99 pages, double-spaced with large print and margins. He has also voted against protection of child sex abuse victims, refused to wear masks during the height of Covid because he was tired to, denied that January 6 insurrectionists were DDT supporters, urged the Supreme Court to make discrimination against LGBTQ people legal, and pushed DDT’s White House for “marital law” to deploy the military nullifying the 2020 election. He also claimed that children are being aborted after being born. Fox network John Roberts told Norman, “It’s only 99 pages.”

The number of people willing to depose Speaker McCarthy is up to seven. According to new rules, it only takes one.

The House had insisted on an additional work requirement for benefits to cut the national debt. Yet the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that this provision would save only $1 billion a year because of the expansion of those benefits to veterans, unhoused people, and children aging out of foster care. The measure adds 78,000 people a month to food assistance programs.

At the State of the Union speech, Biden pushed Republicans into promising that they would not be cutting Social Security or Medicare, but McCarthy announced on Fox that he is launching a “commission” for budget cuts, including those two areas. Earlier, he had promised that these programs were off the table, but he’s likely trying to return to his wish to strip them. To get Freedom Caucus members on the 15th ballot when he was elected, he offered a House rules change that would allow only one person to propose his being deposed; the number is up to at least seven. McCarthy is likely making an attempt to placate them.

In February, McCarthy rejected any commissions, saying Republicans don’t need one “to tell us we have spent too much.” All the commissions in the past decade, at least seven of them, have failed because the GOP refuses to make concessions on taxes. Both congressional chambers have  budget committees with the responsibility of looking at the “entire budget,” the supposed purpose of McCarthy’s proposed commission.

McCarthy also complained that Biden had “walled off” all except 11 percent of the budget. This is the percentage of the budget after removing Social Security, Medicare, other healthcare, and the military. McCarthy misrepresented his problem of being limited to only non-military discretionary budget funds: the Republicans knew that they would be extremely unpopular if they attacked these parts of the budget.  

Before passing the bill to raise the debt ceiling, the Senate passed a measure to overturn Biden’s student debt relief plan with a 52-46 vote after it passed the House. No filibuster was permitted because it was a Congressional Review Act bill; only 50 votes were required. Biden had promised to veto the bill, but the debt ceiling measure also erases the relief. The Supreme Court should be releasing its decision about the student debt relief within the next three weeks.

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) top military adviser, Morgan Murphy, has resigned after publicity that orchestrated Tuberville’s blocking hundreds of military promotions. Murphy called himself just “a staffer.” Tuberville’s blockade could affect Biden’s choices for the Joint Chiefs chair.

Musician Charles Tuberville also criticized his senator brother’s racist remarks, including the one about inner-city teachers being lazy and illiterate and another praising which supremacist in the military. In a Facebook post the brother said:

“Due to recent statements by him promoting racial stereotypes, white nationalism and other various controversial topics, I feel compelled to distance myself from his ignorant, hateful rants.

“What I’m trying to say is that, I DO NOT agree with any of the vile rhetoric coming out of his mouth. Please don’t confuse my brother with me. Thanks, Charles Tuberville.”

Tara Reader, a former Senate staffer and worshipper of Russian President Vladimir Putin who accused Biden of a 1993 sexual assault in 2020, has applied for Russian citizenship. She sat next to a convicted Russian agent released to Russia when she talked with the Russian press outlet Sputnik. Biden denied her accusation. Reade apologized to Russians for the “aggressive stance” from “American elites.”

Charlie Sykes quoted some of a post she has since deleted:

“President Putin’s obvious reverence for women, children and animals, and his ability with sports is intoxicating to American women.

“President Putin has an alluring combination of strength with gentleness. His sensuous image projects his love for life, the embodiment of grace while facing adversity. It is evident that he loves his country, his people and his job.” 

To prove that Biden is innocent, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) tweeted, “I believe Tara Reade.”

The far-right judge known for erasing, at least temporarily, mifepristone, the abortion medication, from the U.S. is going after Planned Parenthood. Matthew Kacsmaryk is hearing a $1.8 billion lawsuit from an anonymous anti-abortion activist that will give most of the money to Center for Medical Progress, an ironic name for an anti-abortion. Texas AG Ken Paxton, now impeached, is backing the suit. The accusation is Planned Parenthood defrauding Texas and Louisiana Medicaid systems. The cost of complying with a federal court order would bankrupt the organization, attacked by an illegal sting, and eliminate the two states’ affiliates despite investigations finding no wrongdoing.

Even the Washington Post can’t tolerate the ultra-conservative columns of its employee Mark Thiessen. After the publication of “The Durham Report is a damning indictment of the FBI—and the media” about former DDT’s former AG Bill Barr’s special counsel, WaPo published a number of the corrections to Thiessen’s disinformation.

“An earlier version of this column incorrectly identified the Trump campaign as the target of an FBI FISA warrant application. The warrant application was for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. It also implied that the FBI’s statements to special counsel John Durham regarding its doubts about the case were made before the investigation started; they were made after it had begun. The earlier version also should have described the respondents to a question about the mainstream media from a New York Times-Siena College poll as “among those who say democracy is under threat. This version has been updated.”

Thiessen had attacked a New York Times article by Charles Savage titled “After Years of Political Hype, the Durham Inquiry Failed to Deliver.” Savage tweeted that the report failed to produce evidence leading to indictments of those accused in a “deep state conspiracy” against DDT. He also detailed Thiessen’s omissions, misrepresentations, factual errors, dishonesty, etc. in a thread of serious distortions in Thiessen’s column. In its series of corrections, the Washington Post agreed with Savage.

Seven months ago, Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion. It is now worth one-third of the purchase price.

The Church of Chick-fil-A has lost its evangelical followers after the anti-LGBTQ fast-food restaurant hired a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) vice-president. Too “woke,” say the conservatives. They were also offended by the company’s chair Dan Cathy stating in 2020 that white people should speak up against racial injustice toward Blacks. The corporation also claims it will stop anti-LGBTQ donations. The Fox network has played the video of Cathy’s statements, and conservatives are debating whether to boycott Chick-fil-A.  

 During a committee hearing on childcare, Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) furiously described a children’s book explaining race and called for schools to provide books about Jesus Christ instead. He attacked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for being a “self-declared democratic socialist.” A witness tried to pacify him by answering his question about which book is “better to teach” by saying teaching about Jesus is important, saying “but the reality is—.” Mullin snapped, “I don’t want reality” before he said he “misspoke.”

“I don’t want reality.” What a great slogan for Republicans! 

 

May 22, 2023

Stories of Unbalanced Conservatives

When Fox fell for a hoax in the New York Hudson River Valley, even credible media such as the Washington Post reported the lie. The false story was about veterans thrown out of a hotel because and replaced with migrants. Seven homeless men of a group of 15 now say they were each offered $200 along with food and alcohol to pretend they were vets, but they never got paid. The New York Post first reported the story on its front page,and Fox stated that the network “confirmed” the story.

The small local Mid Hudson News uncovered the scam. Sharon Finch claimed her nonprofit, Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, paid to house veterans and had to scramble for other housing for them. She even said, “Last night, I was crying.” Brian Maher, a GOP assemblyman in New York, introduced legislation to block veterans’ housing displacement. The probe discovered a $37,000 credit card receipt from the foundation for the hotel had been doctored. The hotel said it had no payments on the credit card, no veterans stayed there, and vacant rooms were available.

Trying to cover her lies, Finch changed the date when veterans were displaced, the number of them, and names of hotels where veterans were being evicted in exchange for migrants. One homeless man hired for the hoax said Finch told him to answer any questions from reporters or politicians with “I am too traumatized to talk about it.” She finally confirmed that she arranged for a volunteer to pick up the men at the shelter and taken them to an event to present their plight as “veterans.” Maher is now investigating Finch.  

Another Republican, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), has led the crusade against drag shows, but her new boyfriend wore drag on his right-wing “news” program, available to children, to promote a theatrical production. Greene has “dated” Brian Glenn since her husband filed for divorce last September. He filed for divorce three days later. He evidently enjoyed wearing women’s clothing because he said:

“I may keep the pantyhose on. It does feel kind of good.”

Complaining about a Drag Queen Story Hour in Georgia, she wrote on Facebook:

“Trans does not mean gender change, it just means a gender refusal and gender pretending. Truth is truth, it is not a choice!!!”

Green confronted a library worker at the event and asked why they were hosting “an event that went against her personal beliefs as a taxpayer” before she posted a 90-minute video from the library attacking the drag queen. Filming youth and adults, she said:

“That’s the abomination that just read four children’s books to children in our public library here in Alpharetta, Georgia. I do not hate or have any ill will against that man. I just don’t like that gender confusion being put on young children.”

In 2021, she called on a drag queen to be “arrested and charged!” A year later, she compared drag queens to strippers although they didn’t take off their clothes. This year, she accused Antifa of defending “drag queens targeting our children with drag queen story time,” called them “domestic terrorists,” and tried to get them officially declared a terrorist organization. About Glenn, though, she tweeted that she “lol” (laughed out loud) at his drag performance and lambasted liberals for commenting on it. (Above right: Glenn in one of his drag performances.)

In another diversion from illegal activities by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chair of the House Judiciary Committee and the weaponization subcommittee, considers “another investigationinto Hillary Clinton. Fox host Maria Bartiroma asked him if he wanted to see the probe, and he didn’t say no.

“[W]e’re going to talk with our lawyers. We’re going to talk with Speaker McCarthy on where we proceed from here. In fact, are there people that were highlighted in the Durham investigation and the Durham report that we need to talk to on the Judiciary Committee? We’re going to give that a good, hard look. But nothing is off the table.”

Actually, DDT is off the table for Republicans. Instead, congressional Republicans, including DDT, fixated on Clinton for almost a decade. Rep. Josh Hawley (R-MO) still wants to imprison her but doesn’t have any reasons. DDT accused the FBI of looking for Clinton’s emails when it followed up on a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago for classified documents. In 2015, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged about the GOP’s Benghazi committees to damage Clinton’s presidential campaign instead of being a valid investigation. At that time, he told Fox:

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee ― what are her numbers today…”

Rep. James Comer (R-KY), chair of the Oversight Committee, told Fox & Friends Ashley Strohmier, that the GOP was doing the same thing to President Joe Biden during his reelection when she asked about the probe into Biden. He claimed proof about Biden’s families receiving money from foreign nationals but presents no evidence:

“You look at the polling, and right now Donald Trump is 7 points ahead of Joe Biden and trending upward, Joe Biden’s trending downward. And I believe that the media is looking around, scratching their head, and they’re realizing that the American people are keeping up with our investigation.”

The 7-point edge he claimed on Fox was earlier this month; other surveys show Biden leading with an overall tight race between Biden and DDT. Polls have also shown no indication that Comer’s investigations have a major effect.

In opposition to an Illinois bill approving bathrooms open to all genders, a GOP state senator threatened violence if “a guy” walked into the same bathroom as his 10-year-old daughter. The bill passed the Senate by 35-20 and needs only a signature from Gov. J.B Pritzker (D). Bathrooms would require floor-to-ceiling stall dividers with locks and coverings preventing anyone from seeing through the space between the stall divider and the door. The senators might be more worried about his family and friends: over 90 percent of child abusers are people who children know, love, and trust. A “guy” coming into a bathroom is an unlikely perpetrator.

Republicans want to put librarians in prison if they let youth have books about racism or the LGBTQ+ community—aka “obscene” books to the GOP. At least seven states have passed these laws in the past two years, two of them in the last two months, although Idaho and North Dakota GOP governors vetoed the legislation. Another dozen states considered over 20 similar bills this year, half of them likely to come up in 2024.  An Arkansas measure imprisons school and public librarians as well as teachers for up to six years or fined $10,000. Keith Gambill, president of Indiana’s teachers union, said about the state’s new law:  

“It will make sure the only literature students are exposed to fits into a narrow scope of what some people want the world to look like. This is my 37th year in education. I’ve never seen anything like this. … We are entering a very frightening period.”

A Republican asserted that any librarian or teacher afraid of the law obviously has obscene material available for students. All 50 states, including the ones enacting new laws, have obscenity laws prohibiting the distribution of obscene material to minors with heavy fines and prison sentences for violations. The majority of the states, however, had exemptions to ensure educators could provide information to children on biology, health, and sex education without litigation. States enacting new laws to imprison librarians: Arkansas, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

A conservative group taking over the Woodland Park (CO) school board has adopted the American Birthright social studies, created by a right-wing group warning of the “steady whittling away of American liberty.” It promotes only “positive aspects” of the U.S., pushes patriotism, and does not encourage “social strife.” The program argues that teachers should not encourage civic engagement, such as registering to vote or petitioning local lawmakers on issues that interests students. David Randall, research director for the organization creating the standards for a district with 2,000 students said:

“It is terribly important to be a disengaged citizen, and indeed, a disengaged student.”

Far-right groups and activists providing input into the curriculum include the Claremont Institute, the Family Research Council, and Moms for Liberty. The far-right agenda presents Bill Clinton’s impeachment but not those of DDT. The Colorado State Board of Education rejected American Birthright in October, and the National Council for the Social Studies issued a rare warning against using it. Forty percent of the high school’s teachers said they won’t be back next year, and at least four top administrators have already quit. Three of the five board members are up for a vote in November 2023.

Despite the emotional problems of students in the community, the new superintendent refused to apply for grants paying mental health professionals, losing $1.2 million covering the annual salaries of 15 positions.

Conservatives are furious with Biden for his statement at Howard University calling white supremacy the “most dangerous terrorist threat.” Fox’s Rachel Campos-Duffy called the U.S. “the least racist country in the world” in the same week that 150 white supremacist Patriot Front members marched in Washington, carrying swords and battle drums while wearing masks to conceal themselves as part of the “Reclaim America.” A March study from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) shows a 38 percent increase in white supremacist activity from 2021 to 2022, with more than 6,700 incidents reported throughout the year.

May 21, 2023

The Cult of DDT on May 21, 2023

As always, followers of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) valiantly defend him, but even usually spineless Chuck Todd (Meet the Press) tired of their lies and avoidance. In 2019, DDT, when in the White House, said, “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.” Todd asked DDT sycophant Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) why he, an advocate of sending the U.S. into default, doesn’t agree with DDT. Donalds quoted DDT saying that he reversed his position because he’s no longer president. “Do you realize how absurd that sounds?” Todd asked Donalds who denied that DDT’s excuse for changing his position wasn’t absurd. Todd said:

“‘What is good for me is not for thee.’ He’s basically saying, ‘When I’m president, there’s no negotiating on this. But, hey, when somebody else is president, screw them.”

Donalds retorted that DDT is “what America needs.” Actually, DDT is what MAGA wishes

  • Education: ranting against transgender people and burning woke books
  • Military policy: retain insurrectionists.
  • Healthcare: incite death threats against scientific methods.
  • Campaigns: be as nasty and cruel as possible.
  • Guns: promote deaths and injuries.

Mike Lofgren wrote about the new GOP: armed survivalists, psychopathic grifters, con artists, incels living in parents’ basements.

“Having been abused himself as a child, Trump now transmits abuse to others. The Trump base, disproportionately conservative and religious fundamentalist, is also likely to have been the subject of punitive and authoritarian upbringings; rather than making a clean break with the sickness, they keep replicating it in their lives. Their slave-like loyalty to Trump is a form of masochism towards the angry yet protective family patriarch…

“[Republicans] don’t want better health care, fiscal responsibility, better infrastructure, clean drinking water, or anything on a policy menu that serves rational ends… What they truly want is demons to wrestle with till the end of time. They want revenge… They crave contentiousness and conflict 24/7…

“Scholars studying the conspiracy theories these people fall for sometimes belabor the issue of whether they really “believe” such crackpot notions. Whether they believe is probably unknowable, but that is less important than the fact that loudly saying they believe it creates endless friction with relatives, co-workers, and neighbors. Being abrasive, if not actually threatening, gives them a sense of identity and attention they would otherwise lack.

“Other than tax cuts for the rich (and for himself), Trump hardly undertook any policies in his four years in office; instead he filled his time with giving his base a whole menagerie of demons to contend with. It is no coincidence that the people he verbally assaulted, be they politicians, the press or election workers, were soon besieged by death threats from his unhinged followers…

“The real glue between Trump and his devotees is his endless assurances that their lot in life is not the result of their own laziness, irresponsibility or failure to seek counseling. No, they are innocent victims, endlessly picked on by elitists, socialists and foreigners. These sinister groups are constantly changing according to expediency, but the point is to keep his acolytes in a constant state of agitation.

“He [demonized] Muslims … while going on to set up business deals (meaning bribes) between his family and the Persian Gulf despots. He even sided with the bloodthirsty Mohammed bin Salman over the Saudi-American journalist whom the Saudi princeling had murdered and dismembered…

“More than 80 years ago, George Orwell commented on the malleability of the endless hate propaganda of earlier charismatic dictatorships; it sounds eerily like the Trump technique: ‘As for the hate-campaigns in which totalitarian régimes ceaselessly indulge, they are real enough while they last, but are simply dictated by the needs of the moment. Jews, Poles, Trotskyists, English, French, Czechs, Democrats, Fascists, Marxists—almost anyone can figure as Public Enemy No. 1. Hatred can be turned in any direction at a moment’s notice, like a plumber’s blow-flame.’

“Trump’s hold over his base, a force that none of his Republican opponents can quite replicate, is ultimately predicated on the implied threat of violence. As armies, gangs and cults have demonstrated, violence is a tacit loyalty oath that bonds one member to another and above all the group to the leader. The simmering air of menace that characterizes Trump rallies is the sadomasochistic tie between Trump and his followers turned outward as hatred towards the rest of society…

“His pronouncements to his followers are functionally no different than an imam in a failed Middle Eastern state issuing fatwas to kill the infidel.”

Donalds also argued that DDT is the only person who can oppose Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russan President Vladimir Putin. Yet DDT fawned over both of them and gave Xi state secrets in front of a crowd of his followers at Mar-a-Lago. While in the White House, DDT also gave Putin anything he wanted.

Todd asked Donalds if January 6 was a “beautiful day,” as DDT claimed. Donalds disagreed it was “beautiful” but switched the topic to the southern boarder and the inflation he blamed on President Joe Biden—the inflation caused by big business that’s rapidly shrinking because of Biden’s actions. Also Donalds skipped over the progress that Biden is making, with the cooperation of the G7 summit, against China’s economic importance.

DDT led the Republicans to tie Biden to China. In 2019, while DDT was being investigated for his extortion of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelinsky, he publicly called on China to publish negative information about Biden, then his opponent for the presidency. DDT accused of “all that money from China” going into Biden’s “pockets” because he was in China’s employ.  

While in the White House, DDT collected at least $7 million from Chinese government-owned entities through just a lease agreement with a state-owned bank in Trump Tower. It was the second-largest tenant in the building. Two years after a five-year extension, the bank left Trump Tower at the same time that DDT left the White House.

As of 2017, DDT had at least 72 trademarks in China with another 45 pending. He also had a bank account in China, and his daughter Ivanka Trump received 41 Chinese trademarks while she was a White House adviser. Those trademarks were approved 40 percent faster than those she applied for before his inauguration. In the same year, a Chinese firm invested over $400 million in the Manhattan office tower owned by the family of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband. Kushner Companies received a cash payout, an equity stake in a new partnership, and a refinancing of $1.14 billion in existing mortgage debt. About 80 percent of a $250 million loan was forgiven. Kushner had supposedly sold his stake in the property, but it was a “sweetheart deal” for his family.

And that was just in China.

DDT has lost his legal team’s  lead lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, because of infighting, according to the attorney who will no longer participated in the special counsel investigations. He said he stepped down because of differences with another of DDT’s lawyers, Boris Epshteyn, and accused him of “misrepresenting” the classified documents that DDT illegally collected. Parlatore explained how Epshteyn blocked him and other lawyers from giving DDT information, creating a disadvantage in dealing with DOJ. Epshteyn tended to deliver good news to DDT, no matter the circumstances, according to Parlatore. He added:

“In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or with the client on certain things. Uh, there were certain things like the searches that he had attempted to interfere with.”

Parlatore also ridiculed Epshteyn’s limited legal experience of only 18 months as a corporate lawyer. In late April, DDT’s lawyers asked lawmakers to remove DOJ authority to run the investigation, moving the probe to the intelligence community. In the CNN town hall, DDT again admitted he took classified documents but repeated his false claim that he had the right to do it. Asked for the reason, he said:

“I was there and I took what I took. … I had every right to do it. I didn’t make a secret of it.”

By stating he took the classified materials when he moved out of the White House, DDT was confessing to a federal crime. The National Archives also found 16 records proving that DDT knew he broke the law by taking the classified documents to Mar-a-Lago. In them, advisers directed him on how to declassify materials.

Fulton County DA Fani Willis has told her staff they will be working remotely for the first few weeks of August. It seems the hammer is about to drop in litigation regarding the attempt to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. DDT is trying to block the proceedings.

In the five-year lawsuit claiming DDT stole from Celebrity Apprentice viewers by pushing investments in an unsuccessful desktop videophone scam, his children have been removed to speed up the legal procedure.

The FBI raided an apartment owned by two Russian businessmen, partners in a shell company, in Miami’s Trump Tower. They have been evading trade sanctions with Russia caused by its invasion of Ukraine by sending Boeing and Airbus aircraft parts and electronics to Russia through an elaborate network.

Heather Cox Richardson’s “letter” for April 21 describes the way Putin has aligned himself with DDT in his list of 500+ people not permitted to enter Russia—both Republicans and Democrats who have opposed DDT. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/21/world/europe/russia-sanctions-trump.html She also explains how DDT’s loyalists in state legislatures are using the fear tactics of Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to fight democracy.

May 19, 2023

Default Nears, DeSantis Creates Prototype for U.S.

As of late afternoon on Friday, debt ceiling talks resumed after Republicans earlier walked out. Retirement accounts and other assets related to the stock market had taken another hit during the day after Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), assigned negotiator, walked out of talks in the morning, branding Democrats “unreasonable,” just 12 days before the default deadline. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) spokesperson had reported that talks are on “pause” hours after President Joe Biden cut short a dinner with UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other G7 leaders to focus on saving the world’s economy and controlling China. The entire argument comes from the GOP unwillingness to pay the debts, one-fourth of them added while Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was in the White House.

After a few hours, the talks broke off again with no future meeting scheduled and GOP “negotiators” reporting no progress. Republicans are adamant about sharp cuts without closing loopholes in taxation for the wealthy or any replacement of taxes for big business and the rich that Republicans put into effect in 2017.

Republicans, who want the U.S. to be dominant over China, are damaging U.S. supremacy in the world. Biden’s visit to Asia was to boost the message that the U.S. is a leader, but Biden was forced to pull out of two important stops and the Quad summit on his journey to the G7 summit in Japan, missing important diplomatic interactions. China and other anti-U.S. countries are delighted because a coalition against China’s military and economic aggression was a key agenda item at the summit.

A goal was to determine that the U.S. “is a reliable, stable, credible partner in this part of the world … and to give people alternatives to the coercion and intimidation that the Chinese tend to demonstrate.” Chinese media can describe the U.S. as an unreliable partner, suffering from serious domestic upheaval that leaves its allies without help. The trip cancellation appears to lessen the U.S. commitment to the Pacific, allowing China to defeat the U.S. in influence. Republicans demonstrate lack of commitment to the U.S. being superior to China.

Biden’s stop at Papua New Guinea would have been the first for a U.S. president. Chinese President Xi Jinping went to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2018, spending a week there for a state visit to met with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum. Jinping has been expanding diplomatic, economic, and military relationships with Pacific Island nations while saving the U.S. from the GOP has distracted the U.S. for over two years.

McCarthy said the resolution is “easy”: Democrats just need to agree to across-the-board discretionary domestic cuts between 28 percent and 33 percent. McCarthy said that “we can’t be spending more money next year,” but the debt ceiling has nothing to do with future debts. That’s the purview of the budget, which House Republicans have been unable—or unwilling—to formulate.

On Thursday, McCarthy expressed optimism that the two sides could reach a deal to go to a vote next week, but the highly conservative Freedom Caucus told him to quit before a deal could be reached. Instead, McCarthy should work on the Senate to pass their bill. The conservative caucus stated on Thursday:

“There should be no further discussion until the Senate passes the legislation.”

The Freedom Caucus essentially wrote the extortion bill; McCarthy said he and his team “just picked up the House Freedom Caucus plan and helped us convert it into the legislative text.” The GOP House never intended to find an “agreement” and a “deal” to save U.S. from an economic catastrophe. On Twitter, the Freedom Caucus ordered:

“No more discussion on watering it down. Period.”

The MAGA House members are following the orders of their leader, DDT, issued last week in his CNN town hall and repeated on Truth Social on Friday:

“REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the ‘kitchen sink’). THAT’S THE WAY THE DEMOCRATS HAVE ALWAYS DEALT WITH US. DO NOT FOLD!!!”

Previously, DDT had praised Democrats for not creating debt ceiling crises while he was in the White House. It appears that DDT and his followers all want a world disaster because they love chaos.

While DDT promotes devastation, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis uses his state as a prototype of the U.S. if her were elected president. Right now, however, he’s on a losing streak. Because of his petty personal retributions toward Disney, the company stopped plans for a $1 billion employee campus in Lake Nona (FL) and no longer require over 2,000 California-based employees to relocate to Florida. Employees who moved to Florida may be able to return to California. Average salary for those employees would be about $120,000—a total of $240 million coming into the state.

DeSantis tried to cover his new problem by blaming the loss on Disney’s poor finances and “declining stock price,” but he failed. GOP Miami mayor said the governor took a “winning issue [of] parental rights” and moved on to “potentially a personal vendetta” costing the state 2,000 jobs. Former VP Mike Pence slammed “woke Disney” but said “the business of America is business” with the cancellation “only going to harm people in the Orlando and Florida area.”

Latinx people, who comprise an important part of workers in the state, are thinking about moving away from Florida and Texas because of persecution in those states. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is also issuing a travel advisory in Florida, only the second time they have done this in a state after Arizona’s profiling law against migrants. Florida will no longer recognize driver’s licenses issued out of state to undocumented immigrants and prohibit Florida counties from issuing ID cards to them. A new law also requires the use of the inaccurate E-Verify for hirings; of 48 million job applicants, only 525,000 were listed as unauthorized with 60,000 of those proving a legal right to work in the U.S.

Florida criminalizes anyone associating with undocumented migrants, including giving them transportation. Even the Catholic Church rejected this law. Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski accused Florida Republicans of trying to “demonize” vulnerable people, making a good Christian’s actions illegal by preaching the gospel.

New Florida laws remove “parental rights.” DeSantis used the slogan to claim he gave parents rights when he banned any rules for wearing masks during the pandemic that would protect people from the health emergency, but he’s moved on to mandate what parents can and cannot do. A new law permits the government to take transgender children who receive gender-affirming are from their families even if the children live out of state with a custodial parent. Parents and doctors cannot provide any gender-affirming care for minors, as decreed by people with no medical training. DeSantis lied when he with his justification in preventing teachers from educating students in acceptance of their LGBTQ+ classmates and students with LGBTQ+ family members.

In another bizarre Florida law, the bathroom regulations go beyond requiring people over the age of 18 to use the facilities matching their sex at birth. Anyone can be charged if they don’t leave a bathroom when someone else asks them to do so—even if their sex matches the one from birth. Basically, it legalizes harassment in public bathrooms if a person considers another to not being feminine enough for women’s restrooms or masculine enough for the designative men’s facilities.  

Other DeSantis’ bans and restrictions for the U.S.:

  • Control curriculum and books in libraries, keeping them from an well-rounded education. 
  • Defund diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Florida’s state colleges and universities.
  • Ban state officials from making investment decisions based on “environmental, social, governance” goals.
  • Allow healthcare providers and insurers to deny patients medical care on the basis of religious, moral, or ethical beliefs
  • Execute child rapists.
  • Allow only eight of 12 jurors to determine the death penalty.
  • Let people carry concealed firearms with no permit or training.

DeSantis’ latest stunt is to probably to lose public employees retirement funds for his own benefit. He moved $1 billion from safe investments to high-fee, poor-performing hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, and real estate firms managed by major GOP donors who promise to bankroll his campaign. DeSantis’ “investments” already lost about $10 billion retirement funds for teachers, police officers, and other state employees. A new bill could move another $18 billion from traditional stocks and bonds.

Florida public pensioners receive benefits well below the national norm, just $23,712 per year in 2020 compared to the national average of $29,132. Between 2019 and 2021, however, pension fees for investment managers increased by 11 percent, costing the pension $54 million in additional fees in 2022. 

DeSantis’ move is illegal according to anti-pay-to-play laws, but other governors have used the same tactic with donations to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) that move to indiviual gubernatorial campaigns. The RGA gave DeSantis over $21 million for his reelection campaign in 2022.  

Using this system to get presidential campaign funds would be more difficult. A decade ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Gov. Rick Perry both considered the idea, but Christie’s top adviser admitted that “there is no way around it and there are no loopholes.” The rule proved so strict that it reportedly deterred Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney from putting Christie on the ticket in 2012, because Romney knew it would complicate his Wall Street fundraising. The GOP failed to overturn the rule in court.

People in Florida, like those in Russia, live in fear. Ridiculed for his claim that he makes Florida “free,” however, DeSantis now declares Florida the “citadel of normalcy.” This is the “normal” he wants to being to all 50 states.

May 16, 2023

Debt Ceiling Talks, Elections

The immediate problem in the nation is the GOP resistance in increasing the nation’s debt ceiling, one-fourth of it caused by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his Republicans. The same four political leaders of Congress met with President Joe Biden at the White House on May 16. He said there is “still work to do” and that staff will continue to meet daily. Biden frequently says he won’t make spending cuts in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling to pay prior U.S. debts but will discuss spending levels because they are two separate issues.

After the meeting, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters that the “structure” of the negotiations had improved, but Republicans and Democrats are far apart on a potential deal. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took comfort in McCarthy’s acknowledgement that default was “the worst outcome” and a bipartisan bill was necessary.  Top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries (NY) told members that he considered any additional work requirements a nonstarter in the debt ceiling negotiations. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that “we’re not going to default, but we’re running out of time.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen still gives June 1 as the absolute deadline before default. By that date, congressional leaders must negotiate a deal to raise the ceiling and persuade their caucuses to vote in favor of the same bill with Biden also approving the measure. Before Congress’s looming departure from Washington for Memorial Day, the House will be in session only six days and the Senate only five. Biden will be out of the country for the next five days.

To call the debt ceiling talks a negotiation is a farce: negotiations require a give and take—and McCarthy is intent only on taking. Before the meeting, McCarthy complained that President Joe Biden didn’t want a “deal,” but McCarthy isn’t offering anything. He said he wouldn’t compromise on work requirements and refused to close tax loopholes for more revenue—in short, no compromise. Democrats have rejected the GOP’s proposal to cut non-defense discretionary spending by 27 percent across the board and resisted efforts to impose such caps for more than two years. If the veterans funding is removed from cuts, as McCarthy maintains, the cut for all discretionary spending would be 33 percent.

McCarthy claims he wants austerity, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted that 275 of the 317 pages of McCarthy’s debt limit bill are “giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.” Just the reduction of royalty rates for drilling on federal land costs $430 million. Taking back $71 billion from the $80 billion for the IRS in last year’s climate bill costs an additional $115 billion in lost revenue. These additions to the national debt don’t match McCarthy’s meme of “we owe it to our children.”

The GOP proposed default can push the unemployment rate near or beyond ten percent in the next quarter along with a drop in GDP of over 6 percent. Even a brief default could lower the yield on Treasury bills by $750 billion over the next decade, and the default threat is driving down stocks, damaging retirement accounts. DDT, who wants another term in the White House, has no idea of the seriousness of a default saying, “Maybe it’s—you have a bad week or a bad day.”

The government is already losing revenue from “extraordinary measures” forced on the administration since January. The same accounting maneuvers cost the federal government $260 million in 2011 and $230 million in 2013 from rising yields on Treasury bills. The average of these sums plus inflation brings the current estimate to $328 million loss added to the $115.4 billion McCarthy’s bill costs the government. Saving this amount would be big news if Republicans mentioned it but kept quiet if they spend it.

Civics classes teach the process for passing a bill: write a bill, send it to committee, hold hearings, work on changes, hold debates, and try to pass it before it might move to the other chamber. House Republicans changed the system:

  • Meet in secret to put together a list of far-right desires.
  • Skip committee hearings, debates, policy analysis, and pass it on the House floor without committee hearings, scrutiny, policy analysis, and permission to add amendments.
  • Order the Senate to support it, even with voters opposition, with the threat of an economic catastrophe.

Success with this measure can lead to a federal abortion ban, a pardon for insurrectionists, etc. The GOP could use extortion to chop Social Security and Medicare. And civics books will need to be rewritten.

A Democratic proposal put McCarthy between the proverbial rock and hard place. He promised his far-right caucus he would strip people of benefits to cut back on the U.S. debt—at least until the next GOP president—but moderate Democratic congressional members offered to protect him as Speaker if he doesn’t default on the debts. Just one House member can call for a vote to select the Speaker, and Democratic support could keep him as Speaker. In the 2013 debt ceiling fight, Democrats made the same offer to then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) who later chose to resign instead of counting on his opponents. If McCarthy doesn’t reach a deal with Biden, which looks unlikely, Democrats also have the discharge petition as an option, but it requires support from some Republicans.

In a survey, only 37 percent realized that a default on the debt ceiling would cause significant rate increases, a serious fall in the stock market, and an unstable financial system. After an explanation of the problems, only 30 percent agreed the ceiling should not be increased. Forty percent say they will blame Republicans for a default, and 76 percent in a Reuters/Ipsos poll agree that a default would add financial stress on families like theirs—including 77 percent of self-described Republicans.

To continue discussions, Biden cut short a long-planned foreign trip. He still leaves on May 17 for a G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, but returns on May 21, skipping stops in Papua New Guinea, which would have been the first for a U.S. president, and Australia.

Across the U.S., states are holding elections on May 16, 2023, some of them primaries for lawmakers and judges along with special elections for state legislators.

Pennsylvania:

Democrats kept their narrow hold on the state House when Heather Boyd was kept her seat, replacing Democratic state Rep. Mike Zabel, who resigned after allegations of sexual harassment. A GOP majority might have passed an abortion ban.

Cherelle Parker will likely become the first Black female mayor of Philadelphia in the heavily Democratic city after she defeated eight opponents in a competitive primary to be the Democratic candidate for the general election in November. Billionaire Jeffrey Yass, Pennsylvania’s wealthiest man and a charter school advocate, gave $1 million to a group opposing another candidate, progressive Helen Gym. She came in ten points below Parker who received one-third of the Democratic votes.

In a primary, Judge Carolyn Carluccio defeated a judge who stopped the certification of the 2020 election results in support of DDT. She faces Democrat Dan McCaffery for the seat in the November general election in a court with a Democratic majority of 4-2 after the death last fall of Democrat Chief Justice Max Baer. Current court issues are the use of public funds to help women get abortions, restrictions in the sale and possession of guns, and permission to count mail-in ballots delayed by the pandemic disruptions.  

Kentucky:

Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the DDT-endorsed candidate, won the GOP gubernatorial nomination defeating 11 rivals, including Kelly Craft, who served as DDT’s ambassador to the UN and Canada. In the November general election, the Black candidate opposes Gov. Andy Beshear (D) who has a 63 percent approval rating.

Incumbent Secretary of State Michael Adams fended off two challengers who cast doubts on the state’s election system. Adams, praised for running fair elections, has spoken against election deniers, calling the trend “demagoguery.”

Florida:

In a big upset, Democrat Donna Deegan flipped the Jacksonville mayor from Republican to Democratic with 52 percent of the vote in a one-third turnout. The 12th largest city in the U.S., Jacksonville was the largest city with a GOP mayor until the current one became term limited. State Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed the GOP candidate; DeSantis’ endorsement for Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidate Kelly Craft lost to DDT’s preference.

In Thailand, a youthful democratic movement may have defeated the military control in power since a 2014 coup. The progressive Move Forward Party, led by 42-year-old Ivy League-educated business executive Pita Limjaroenrat, came in first with a predicted 152 seats in the 500-seat lower house. In second place with 141 seats was Pheu Thai, the main opposition party, led by Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the 36-year-old daughter of exiled populist former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, former miliary leader who seized office and renewed his position in a 2019 controversial election, had only 36 elected seats.

The alliance among Move Forward, Phew Thai, and smaller parties could hold 60 percent of Thailand’s lower house but perhaps not enough to oust Prayuth and his allies. Control is determined by a majority of both the 500 seats of the lower house and the 250 members of the unelected Senate, full of establishment boosters appointed by the country’s military leaders. Exact vote counts must be finished in 60 days.

Pita’s party campaigned on lessening the military and the monarchy and a faster economic growth by diversifying Thailand’s tourism-dependent economy to spread it beyond the capital of Bangkok. Ending military conscription would also improve the economy. Another aim is decriminalizing criticism of the monarchy, laws used to target and persecute political opponents. Weary of being controlled “by generals and kings,” protesters flooded the streets in 2020.

May 10, 2023

May 9 – Overwhelmed by DDT, GOP

Yesterday the meeting at the White House looked like the major news story for May 9, but it may have fallen to the bottom.

Deliberation among the nine jury members in E. Jean Carroll’s civil trial for the attack by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) 27 years ago lasted under three hours before a unanimous guilty plea against DDT for battery and defamation, awarding Carroll $5 million damages—$2 million for sexual abuse count and almost $3 million for defamation, for branding her a liar. They did not find that DDT raped her.

DDT still claims he has no idea who Carroll is although photographs show him with her. Defending himself on his Truth Social and at his rallies, refusing to testify at the trial. His lawyers, especially Joe Tacopina, believed that they could win by battering Carroll in court.

In the two-week trial, the judge kept jury members anonymous to keep them from being persecuted. He recommended they maintain their anonymity and not reveal their identities of other jury members. Before jury deliberations, DDT lied on his Truth Social that he was “not allowed to speak or defend” himself in the trial, but he voluntarily avoided it, even when given the opportunity to return from Ireland to testify after he said he would.

The verdict is the first time a person elected as president of the U.S. has been legally branded as a sexual predator. The judge said that DDT subjected Carroll to sexual contact without consent by use of force for the purpose of sexual gratification.

Republicans who want to “dump Trump” wonder what effect the verdict will have on his 2024 election chances. Alyssa Farah Griffin, DDT’s former White House communications director, tweeted that the GOP “must walk away from this man. It is beyond morally indefensible.” GOP strategist and former DDT campaigner Brian Seitchik wrote that the guilty verdict “won’t help among the suburban women that were with Trump in 2016, but abandoned him in 2018, 2020 and 2022.” Only 44 percent of women voted for DDT in 2020.

One of DDT’s election opponents, Vivek Ramaswamy said the verdict seemed like “just another part of the establishment’s anaphylactic response against its chief political allergen: Donald Trump.” (Whatever that means.) Another opponent, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said:

“Over the course of my over 25 years of experience in the courtroom, I have seen firsthand how a cavalier and arrogant contempt for the rule of law can backfire. The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump.”

Other Republicans were on the opposite side, claiming that the verdict won’t have any impact. Keith Naughton, however, pointed out that DDT’s reaction will make the difference and said that when DDT “goes on appeal … it could make it worse.”

After DDT was indicted on 34 charges for falsifying business records to provide $130 million hush money to Stormy Daniels, his poll numbers went up. Whether DDT suffers from the verdict may depend on the intelligence of his avid followers.

Media attention may move to DDT’s indictment. He ignored the judge’s caution to curb his comments about that criminal case so he has been barred from publicizing evidence and other material about the case available. DDT can’t even see the evidence except in the presence of his lawyers and can’t copy any of it. The order was based on concern that he would “inappropriately” use the material or post the information on social media or elsewhere. A prosecutor called the risk “substantial.” Assistant DA Catherine McCaw wrote:

“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk.”

The judge also said that names and identifying information of DA employees in the case other than sworn law enforcement, assistant Das, and expert witnesses will not be revealed until after the jury selection begins.

The next news for the day was that federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Rep. George Santos (R-NY). Specific charges are under seal, but he is expected to appear before a federal court in New York as soon as May 10. Returning to New York, Santos skipped House votes on Tuesday evening. His collection of lies and fabrications are astonishing, even in a political world filled with corruption. Democrats called on Santos to resign, but Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) kept him because of the narrow GOP margin in the House.

According to a CNN article, Santos, in the House for a few days over four month “has been accused of breaking campaign finance laws, violating federal conflict of interest laws, stealing cash meant for an Iraq War veteran’s dying dog, masterminding a credit card fraud scheme, and lying about where he went to school and worked. Santos has admitted to making some misleading claims about his education and financial status, but continues to deny the more serious allegations.” (And these are just a few accusations.) Santos blamed his Democratic candidate for crime and inflation in the New York suburbs.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), who lost his position as Secretary of the Interior during DDT’s term after misusing his position, said he was “surprised [Santos] made it as long as he did.” Rep. French Hill (R-AR) said a congressional member charged with a federal crime should resign. McCarthy has a hard decision to make. Conviction from crimes resulting in two or more years in prison prevents a member of Congress from voting on the floor or in committee.

Harlan Crow, Justice Clarence Thomas’ munificent billionaire benefactor, has written to the Senate Finance Committee, telling them he will not provide them with a list of gifts he bestowed on Thomas. Crow’s lawyer, Michael D. Bopp wrote:

“The Supreme Court has explicitly stated that Congress has no authority to engage in law enforcement investigations or to conduct investigations aimed at exposing citizens private affairs for the sake of exposure.”

The refusal is separate from the investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee that also requested a complete list of the gifts valued at more than $415 from Crow to Thomas and other Supreme Court justices.

Biden met with congressional leaders to discuss raising the debt ceiling. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the only person at the meeting who wants draconian cuts for a miniscule debt ceiling increase after Republicans spent much of the money, has a choice: destroy the nation—and perhaps the world—or destroy his own career with the far-right wing. “I didn’t see any new movement,” McCarthy told reporters after he left the White House. He continued to insist on serious spending cuts, and President Joe Biden demanded Congress raise the debt ceiling unconditionally to pay previous debts and avoid a default.

Aides will meet through the week, and leaders will reconvene on Friday to discuss spending levels for next year. The House has still not presented a budget. Biden said that the U.S. will pay his debts. He’s “prepared to begin a separate discussion about my budget and spending priorities but not under the threat of default.” Although he wants Biden to compromise with McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, “The United States is not going to default.” Biden and McCarthy did agree to dismiss the idea of a short-term debt ceiling increase for more discussions. McCarthy said that they need a deal by next week to pass legislation by the early June deadline.

Biden is now considering the possibility of bypassing Congress to pay debts on his own under a provision of the 14th Amendment that states “the validity of the public debt of the United States” authorized by law “shall not be questioned.” He noted that Laurence H. Tribe, longtime Harvard Law School professor, now believes a president has such power. Because the solution must be litigated, the U.S. can still be in trouble.

A union of federal workers has also filed a lawsuit to block the debt ceiling enforcement, declaring it unconstitutional. The lawsuit claims that the Treasury Department is forced to pay interest on debt because of the constitutional requirement to meet obligations to bondholders.

Scheduled to attend the G7 summit in Japan next week, Biden said he might have to curtail or skip the trip. He met with reporters and answered questions for about 20 minutes after the meeting. In his lengthy meeting with reporters McCarthy accused the White House of lying about cuts to the veterans’ programs which the House has not yet protected. In his answers, Biden talked about the ambiguous nature of the discretionary spending cuts in the Republican debt limit bill. The impasse continues to disturb financial markets in fear of default.

That’s the major news for May 9. The next day will surely bring more, including CNN’s hour-long “townhall” with DDT—if anyone wants to hear him repeat his lies.

May 3, 2023

Carroll’s Trial, Debt Ceiling Crisis, Supreme Court Hearing in Senate

Big news for today starts with the resolution of the mass shooting in Cleveland (TX) last Friday. After four days, the man who allegedly murdered five of his neighbors after they asked him to stop shooting an AR-15-style weapons has been arrested in Montgomery County, 17 miles from the massacre. A tip led authorities where he was hiding under laundry in a closet. The home belonged to one of his relatives. The undocumented migrant possessed at least five guns, the victims’ family reported deputies were slow to respond, and the FBI published the wrong photo and spelling of his name. The 38-year-old Mexican national had been deported from the U.S. four times since 2009. His mass shooting was the 180th one in the first 120 days of 2023. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had called the victims “illegal immigrants,” but at least one of them was not undocumented. The nine-year-old boy may be a citizen if he was born in the U.S.

E. Jean Carroll’s trial continued on Monday after the judge failed to agree with multiple requests from Joe Tacopina, attorney for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), for a mistrial based on the judge’s “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings.” The 18-page complaint included such issues as Tacopina’s courtroom table being larger than the one for Carroll’s lawyers. Failing to understand during his cross examination that part of Carroll’s memoir was satire, like that of 18th-century author Jonathan Swift, Tacopina claimed that the judge and Carroll belong to a kind of elite culture that excludes him.  Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said that DDT’s lawyers are establishing arguments for an appeal if DDT loses.

On Tuesday, a longtime friend of Carroll’s testified about the contents of a telephone call from the plaintiff in the lawsuit minutes after the rape, and Tacopina said DDT would not be appearing to take the stand. Because the case is civil, he does not need to appear in court, but he is one of only two defense witnesses listed by his attorney. Carroll’s attorney plans to play part of DDT’s testimony from his deposition in October. Another member of DDT’s legal team, W. Perry Brandt, cross-examined her.

Jessica Leeds, an 81-year-old retired stockbroker, also testified about DDT groping her on an airplane in the late 1970s after he moved her up to first class. She did not know who he was when he made the offer to upgrade her seat. She said that after she had to fight off his attempts to kiss her and grab her breast, she returned to her seat in coach.

According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the U.S. will fail to pay all its obligations starting on June 1 because of April’s lower-than-expected revenue if the det ceiling is not raised. Without a congressional vote to raise the debt ceiling, the country and the world will be in dire financial problems. The House is gone for this week, leaving it in session for only 12 days before June 1. President Joe Biden will be in Australia and Japan for two weeks in May.

Republicans are upset about a fact sheet from the Department of Veterans Affairs describing the results of the House GOP bill cutting the department’s budget by 22 percent:  

  • Over 6,000 staff eliminated.
  • 30 million fewer Veteran outpatient visits.
  •  81,000 jobs lost in the VA causing veterans unable to obtain healthcare including wellness visits, cancer screenings, mental health services, and substance use disorder treatment.
  • 134,000 disability claims put in a backlog.
  • Stop construction on VA healthcare facilities. (The median time a VA hospital was built is almost 60 years ago compared to 13 years in the private sector.)
  • $565 million loss for construction projects including clinical upgrades to hospitals and clinics.
  • 500 staff eliminated in VA’s National Cemetery Administration including the delay of five new national cemeteries to serve almost 1.6 million veterans and eligible family members.

Outside the VA but affecting veterans:

  • Eliminate funding for Housing Choice Vouchers for up to 50,000 veterans, increasing their risk of homelessness.
  • Increase food insecurity for 1.3 million veterans relying on SNAP.
  • Deprive veterans of mental health, substance sue, and other health services.
  • Deprive veterans of mental health, substance use, and other health services.
  • Stop job training and other support for 4,200 homeless veterans.

When Republicans claimed they didn’t make these cuts, Biden provided them with a diagram to show they did.

Question: “Did you vote for a bill that cuts domestic spending by 22%?”

If answer is yes – question: “Did the bill say, ‘This does NOT apply to veterans benefits?'”

If the answer is no – statement: “You voted to cut veterans benefits.”

With the bill’s growth cap at one percent per year exempting military spending, Social Security, and Medicare, cuts must be at least 22 percent across the board, perhaps 28 percent. If veterans’ care isn’t cut, everything else must be cut by one-third in 2024, increasing to 59 percent in 2033.

Republicans have vowed not to raise taxes, but 218 GOP House members voted to do exactly that. Their bill repeals clean-energy tax credits created last year, raising taxes on manufacturers, car buyers, etc. by $300 billion in the next decade. Republicans simply believe, however, that this tax doesn’t exist.

A large number of current Republicans in the House were not present for the last crisis in 2011, and their level of incompetence is stunning. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), in his second term, thinks that September is the “actual drop-dead rate, so we’re good.” In only his third term, Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) said the Senate could “take the heat for shutting [the government] down.” A default is far more than a simple “shutdown.” Coming into Congress in 2012, Rep. Tom Massie (R-KY) still hasn’t learned that the Federal Reserve is an independent agency. And others, including House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-IN) who is in his fourth term, think that the debt-limit bill used a process known as the “committee of the whole,” meaning devised on the chamber floor during discussion, although the bill came from a secret backroom deal.​

Predictably, the GOP threat of a debt default is driving the stock market down. The pain to investers and the destruction of the economy can help Republicans in 2024—or so they think. The House GOP insists it will crash the economy on purpose unless its radical demands are met, and Democrats refuse negotiations with threats of deliberate harm to people in the U.S. Emmer declined to say whether the U.S. would default.

In addition, a default will increase the debt, even temporarily, because it will cause the relatively low interest on current debts to skyrocket. Global investors may also look for alternatives because the U.S. would no longer be considered a safe asset.  

Biden has invited the four congressional leaders—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)—to the White House on May 9 for discussions about the House’s bill. Of the five, only one, McCarthy, is charging toward default, and presently he is out of the country telling Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Biden is wrong about the U.S. foreign policy. Schumer has begun the Senate process of both a clean debt ceiling bill to suspend the limit for two years and one to consider the House bill for future budget negotiations.

Heather Cox Richardson wrote about whether the constitution requires the government to pay its bills whether Congress actually raises the debt ceiling or not. She quotes the fourth section of the Fourteenth Amendment:

“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

Richardson’s explanation of the GOP lawmakers adding this section to the constitution after the Civil War:

“When Republican lawmakers wrote the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866, they recognized that a refusal to meet the nation’s financial obligations would dismantle the government, and they defended the sanctity of the commitments the government had made. When voters ratified that amendment in 1868, they added to the Constitution, our fundamental law, the principle that the obligations of the country ‘shall not be questioned.’”

The other big news of the day is a rancorous Senate hearing about the Supreme Court justices’ ethical problems. Democrats want a code of ethics, either from the justices themselves or, if they refuse, from Congress. Republicans say everything is just fine and that the Democrats are being political, just like the “liberal media.” For 32 years, the Supreme Court admits it is bound under federal financial disclosure rules—although they don’t follow them—but no other code of judicial conduct. Minority ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went so far as to accuse Democrats of encouraging assassination attempts against conservative justices. Other dialog disagreed about whether Congress could take action with authorities on both sides.    

Noted conservative J. Michael Luttig, a former appeals court judge, wrote that the constitution gives Congress the power “to enact laws prescribing the ethical standards applicable to the non-judicial conduct and activities of the supreme court of the United States” although it cannot mandate that the court “prescribe such standards for itself.”

Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general under George W. Bush, said “the public is being asked to hallucinate misconduct,” ignoring the evidence of unethical and inappropriate “record-keeping” by some of the justices.

Over half the people in the United States don’t trust the Supreme Court—and for good reason. Three of them—Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas—think a man should be executed without permission for DNA testing that could prove his innocence.

Out of room for today—more about the Supreme Court tomorrow!

April 22, 2023

Earth Day 2023

On Earth Day 2023, the world probably will heat up past the 2.7 degree Fahrenheit (1.5 degree Celsius) goal of the Paris climate agreement, closing in on shutting the door for action to control climate warning. Yet countries are starting to take action:

Wealthy countries are finally starting to contribute money to reverse climate change by compensating to poorer countries.

The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan climate treaty to phase out hydrofluorocarbons in refrigerators and air conditioners.

A new treaty can preserve almost one-third of the earth with 23 targets to accomplish by 2030.

The open ocean may be protected by a legal framework if the UN adopts the agreement and countries ratify the agreement.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine accelerated Europe’s movement away from fossil fuels.

A new law in the U.S. moves the economy away from fossil fuels with tax breaks, rebates, and investments.

Laws are setting up pollution regulations for vehicles, moving them away from using fossil fuels.

This piece from Heather Cox Richard in Letters from an American chronicles the history of this day:

[Today] is Earth Day, celebrated for the first time in 1970. Coming the same week that House Republicans demanded that Congress rescind the money Democrats appropriated in the Inflation Reduction Act to address climate change, Earth Day in 2023 is a poignant reminder of an earlier era, one in which Americans recognized a crisis that transcended partisanship and came together to fix it.

The spark for the first Earth Day was the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. A marine biologist and best-selling author, Carson showed the devastating effects of people on nature by documenting the effect of modern pesticides on the natural world. She focused on the popular pesticide DDT, which had been developed in 1939 and used to clear islands in the South Pacific of malaria-carrying mosquitoes during World War II. Deployed as an insect killer in the U.S. after the war, DDT was poisoning the natural food chain in American waters.

DDT sprayed on vegetation washed into the oceans. It concentrated in fish, which were then eaten by birds of prey, especially ospreys. The DDT caused the birds to lay eggs with abnormally thin eggshells, so thin the eggs cracked in the nest when the parent birds tried to incubate them. And so the birds began to die off.

Carson was unable to interest any publishing company in the story of DDT. Finally, frustrated at the popular lack of interest in the reasons for the devastation of birds, she decided to write the story anyway, turning out a highly readable book with 55 pages of footnotes to make her case.

When The New Yorker began to serialize Carson’s book in June 1962, chemical company leaders were scathing. “If man were to faithfully follow the teachings of Miss Carson,” an executive of the American Cyanamid Company said, “we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.” Officers of Monsanto questioned Carson’s sanity.

But her portrait of the dangerous overuse of chemicals and their effect on living organisms caught readers’ attention. They were willing to listen. Carson’s book sold more than half a million copies in 24 countries.

Democratic president John F. Kennedy asked the President’s Science Advisory Committee to look into Carson’s argument, and the committee vindicated her. Before she died of breast cancer in 1964, Carson noted: “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself? [We are] challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.” 

Meanwhile, a number of scientists followed up on Carson’s argument and in 1967 organized the Environmental Defense Fund to protect the environment by lobbying for a ban on DDT. As they worked, Americans began to pay closer attention to human effects on the environment, especially after three crucial moments: First, on December 24, 1968, William Anders took a color picture of the Earth rising over the horizon of the moon from outer space during the Apollo 8 mission, powerfully illustrating the beauty and isolation of the globe on which we all live.

Then, over 10 days in January–February 1969, a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, poured between 80,000 and 100,000 barrels of oil into the Pacific, fouling 35 miles of California beaches and killing seabirds, dolphins, sea lions, and elephant seals. Public outrage ran so high that President Nixon himself, a Republican, went to Santa Barbara in March to see the cleanup efforts, telling the American public that “the Santa Barbara incident has frankly touched the conscience of the American people.”

And then, in June 1969, the chemical contaminants that had been dumped into Cleveland’s Cuyahoga River caught fire. A dumping ground for local heavy industry, the river had actually burned more than ten times in the previous century, but with increased focus on environmental damage, this time the burning river garnered national attention.

In February 1970, President Richard M. Nixon sent to Congress a special message “on environmental quality.” “[W]e…have too casually and too long abused our natural environment,” he wrote. “The time has come when we can wait no longer to repair the damage already done, and to establish new criteria to guide us in the future.”

“The tasks that need doing require money, resolve and ingenuity,” Nixon said, “and they are too big to be done by government alone. They call for fundamentally new philosophies of land, air and water use, for stricter regulation, for expanded government action, for greater citizen involvement, and for new programs to ensure that government, industry and individuals all are called on to do their share of the job and to pay their share of the cost.”

Nixon called for a 37-point program with 23 legislative proposals and 14 new administrative measures to control water and air pollution, manage solid waste, protect parklands and public recreation, and organize for action. “As we deepen our understanding of complex ecological processes, as we improve our technologies and institutions and learn from experience, much more will be possible,” he said. “But these 37 measures represent actions we can take now, and that can move us dramatically forward toward what has become an urgent common goal of all Americans: the rescue of our natural habitat as a place both habitable and hospitable to man.”

Meanwhile, Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, visited the Santa Barbara oil spill and hoped to turn the same sort of enthusiasm people were bringing to protests against the Vietnam War to efforts to protect the environment. He announced a teach-in on college campuses, which soon grew into a wider movement across the country. Their “Earth Day,” held on April 22, 1970, brought more than 20 million Americans—10% of the total population of the country at the time—to call for the nation to address the damage caused by 150 years of unregulated industrial development. The movement included members of all political parties, rich Americans and their poorer neighbors, people who lived in the city and those in the country, labor leaders and their employers. It is still one of the largest protests in American history.

In July, at the advice of a council convened to figure out how to consolidate government programs to combat pollution, Nixon proposed to Congress a new agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, which Congress created in 1970. This new agency assumed responsibility for the federal regulation of pesticides, and after the Environmental Defense Fund filed suit, in June 1972 the EPA banned DDT. Four months later, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, establishing protections for water quality and regulating pollutant discharges into waters of the United States.

Today, even as Republicans are attacking the EPA by suggesting that Congress cannot delegate major regulatory powers to it, President Joe Biden issued an executive order to promote environmental justice. In the past generation we have come to understand that pollution hits minority and poor populations far harder than it does wealthy white communities: the government and private companies target Indigenous reservations for the storage of nuclear waste, for example, because the reservations are not covered by the same environmental and health standards as the rest of the country.

Biden said, “To fulfill our Nation’s promises of justice, liberty, and equality, every person must have clean air to breathe; clean water to drink; safe and healthy foods to eat; and an environment that is healthy, sustainable, climate-resilient, and free from harmful pollution and chemical exposure. Restoring and protecting a healthy environment—wherever people live, play, work, learn, grow, and worship—is a matter of justice and a fundamental duty that the Federal Government must uphold on behalf of all people.”

Amen.

Happy Earth Day 2023.

As always, the fabulous photographs by Ann Hubard of nature gives me hope that our world will continue. Thanks, Ann!

April 20, 2023

McCarthy Makes Debt Ceiling Fight Front and Center

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:45 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally has a plan (proposal?) for managing the debt ceiling and wants his caucus to pass it next week. When he and other radical Republicans have declared they won’t pass an increase in the debt ceiling to the national debt, they completely ignore the fact that a debt ceiling is paying past bills. Without paying bills, the U.S. goes into default which causes financial disaster for both the nation and the world.

The proposal is actually a budget, which the House Republicans have been unable, or unwilling, to prepare. It’s just a way to remove $130 billion from the sliver of the national budget for domestic projects such as education, healthcare, etc. That $130 billion is almost 20 percent of discretionary funding. The other piece of the proposal is to increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion until March 31, 2024, before shutting down payment of debts again in the midst of the 2024 campaigns until another deal is made. The real goal of the proposal is to create votes for Republicans.  

The White House pointed out that supporters of McCarthy’s bill vote “to cut education, veterans medical care, cancer research, meals on wheels, food safety, and law enforcement.” They also support offshore manufacturing, take healthcare from people, threaten food for older people, increase energy bills, raise taxes, and “protect wealthy tax cheats.” They also vote to offshore America manufacturing, take health care away for Americans, threaten food assistance for older Americans, increase energy bills, raise taxes, and “protect wealthy tax cheats.”

McCarthy says his plan will create $4.5 trillion in cuts, but this is the same party that claimed tax cuts for the wealthy and big business would bring the U.S. about $1.8 trillion. Instead, the 2017 GOP tax cuts is losing $1.7 trillion; the loss of that revenue has caused the debt ceiling to increase. Corporations used their largess to buy back stocks instead of investing money in their businesses and creating more jobs. McCarthy’s idea, even if the U.S. doesn’t default, will trigger a recession in 2024, cost the economy up to six million jobs, and push unemployment to up to nine percent, according to Moody’s economists. Interest rates can skyrocket and $15 trillion in household assets can be wiped out. The GOP sees this as a win.

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came into office, the national debt was $19.9 trillion; on his departure, it was $27.7 trillion. He promised to get rid of the debt but added almost 40 percent to it. Republicans don’t care about the debt. They just want to destroy Democrats by causing chaos.  Republican presidents run up the deficit with their bad ideas, and Democrat presidents have to reverse the problem. Obama’s first two years were so bad because of W. Bush’s tax cuts, wars, and housing bubble leading to a serious recession. 

Some pieces in McCarthy’s 320-page proposal:

  • Revert funding for fiscal 2024 to fiscal 2022 levels.
  • Limit spending growth to 1 percent annually over the next decade. (Hopes for inflation are keeping it down to 2 percent.)
  • Roll back student loan actions, including the ongoing loan repayment pause, implemented by DDT, and plan for forgiveness.
  • Boost oil and gas production by cutting time to greenlight energy projects. (McCarthy said the legislation targets “green giveaways,” (his term for green energy tax credits).
  • Eliminate tax credits for electric vehicles along with credits for solar and wind infrastructure.
  • Increase work requirements for food stamps for people between 50 to 56 years old and Medicaid.
  • Take back unobligated coronavirus funds approved in March 2021.
  • Remove $70 billion in an IRS funding increase at a revenue loss of $180 billion.
  • Eliminate tax credits for electric vehicles along with credits for solar and wind infrastructure.

McCarthy didn’t list specific cuts, but House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asked agencies what would happen with his ideas to reduce 2024 discretionary, non-defense spending. Examples:

  • Shut down 125 air traffic control towers.
  • Eliminate nutrition services for 1 million senior citizens.
  • Lose house assistance for 1.1 million families.
  • Impact 6.6 million students relying on Pell Grants.
  • Lessen support for 1.2 million women, infants, and children receiving WIC.
  • Take 200,000 children from Head Start.
  • Remove 100,000 children from childcare.

McCarthy insisted that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and President Joe Biden “come to the table” and negotiate. Biden and congressional Democratic leaders call for a “clean” debt limit bill with separate negotiations on a budget. On the Senate floor, Schumer said:  

“With a default approaching, Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy yesterday capitulated to the MAGA right and rolled out a partisan wish list masquerading as legislation. This MAGA wish list has no chance of moving forward in the Senate, and it doesn’t move us any closer than we were yesterday to avoiding default.”

Biden said his budget would save $3 trillion in the next decade and added:

“Take default off the table, and let’s have a real serious, detailed conversation about how to grow the economy, lower costs and reduce the deficit.”

From far-right Scott Perry (R-PA) to “moderate” Nancy Mace (R-SC) with gadfly Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in between, Republicans are critical of McCarthy’s “Limit, Save, Grow” proposal for the same reason that Biden is—it’s not a plan. Their comments also demonstrate a distrust in the Speaker: after McCarthy walked Republicans through the proposal in a closed meeting, Perry said, “I don’t think that’s the entire package.” Mace said that “the debt ceiling vote without a plan [doesn’t] bode well for the outcome.” Gaetz added that McCarthy’s bill “couldn’t possibly have 218 votes because it doesn’t even exist.”

Arguments come from legislators who want to be more punitive; conservatives, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-MD) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), want to raise the mandatory number of work hours for benefits to 30 a week. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) also criticized the bill because it didn’t go through committees of jurisdiction although McCarthy had agreed to move most legislation through regular order so that he could be elected Speaker. Biggs was one of the hardline conservatives who had demanded that change. Roy told Biggs, “Most of it’s just cutting a bunch of things.”

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), who has been deeply involved in creating the bill, admitted that they must do more work to get enough support. McCarthy assigned Garret Graves, on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, to be instrumental in preparing the proposal, overlooking involvement from Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), budget committee chair, and Steve Scalise (R-LA), in preparing the proposal.  Arrington’s name will still be on the bill. 

Behind the scenes, McCarthy has said he has “no confidence” in Arrington and called his TV appearances “unhelpful.” McCarthy also regards Arrington “as incompetent.” Comments by McCarthy about Scalise:

“McCarthy has told colleagues and allies that he cannot rely on Mr. Scalise, describing the majority leader as ineffective, checked out and reluctant to take a position on anything.”

Both Arrington and Scalise wanted to be Speaker instead of McCarthy.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/senate-finance-gop-rich-taxes  Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) recognizes that the House Republicans may vote for the bill when he said that nothing unites the GOP more than “helping rich people cheat on their taxes.” He called it “a centerpiece of the ransom Speaker McCarthy has cobbled together as he threatens to trigger a catastrophic default.” To protect their wealthy friends, GOP legislators have repeatedly described armed IRS agents descending on small businesses and homes of ordinary U.S. people. Without intervention, the traditional IRS dodging by the wealthy may cost the government over $7 trillion in the next decade. The richest 1 percent of U.S. households don’t report 21 percent of their income while the working class pay their fair share of taxes.

The first bill passed by Republicans in the 118th Congress was to remove IRS funding. For decades the IRS has been underfunded, but the last decade has been the worst, with the enforcement budget dropping by almost 25 percent. In 2017, the under 10,000 revenue agents were the same number as in 1953 when the IRS annually handled 100+ million fewer individual income tax returns. Antiquated IRS technology is at least 25 years old with obsolete programming languages and lack of vendor support, training, and maintenance support. Instead of the mythical “gun-toting enforcement agents” that Republicans claim will be hired, the IRS needs employees to process refunds and answer phone calls. Increased audits with new funding will be used only for those annually earning over $400,000.

Thirteen years ago, a similar debt ceiling crisis resulted before President Obama agreed to a sequester imposing tough caps on discretionary spending. Under GOP control of Congress of both Congress and the White House, however, the spending caps set in 2011 were ignored, and discretionary spending increased by 16 percent. Now the Republicans are demanding a massive reduction with a Democratic president, waiting until they get a Republican back into the White House. To smear Biden, McCarthy is releasing doctored videos from 2011 with mixes of clips from 2011 taken out of context.

McCarthy’s timing for trying to pass his bill may be a bit off. With Fox and Dominion Voting Systems having settled, the media focus can return to the problems with settling the debt ceiling which must be finished by June before the U.S. runs out of money.

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