Nel's New Day

March 6, 2021

Biden’s Cabinet: Diversity to Guide the U.S.

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:12 AM
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The 50-50 political split of the Senate is limping through confirmations of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet members. Within the first 45 days, 13 confirmations for Cabinet and Cabinet-level positions leave another nine waiting in the wings with one withdrawal. To help guide the course of the United States, Biden appointed ten women and 13 men which include 11 people of color. Neera Tanden, an Indian-American, withdrew her name from nominee for Office of Management and Budget because of excessive criticisms from GOP senators about her “mean” and “shrill” tweets.  Hearings have been marked by an extremely high level of hypocrisy among GOP questioning and objections.

The nine Cabinet members confirmed since the beginning of February 2021:

Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation: The former presidential candidate’s confirmation vote was 86-13 for the first openly LGBTQ Cabinet member.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security: The department’s first Latino and immigrant leader was confirmed by the tight margin of 56-43 after extensive questioning from Republicans about his background. Calling Mayorkas an “ethically compromised partisan lawyer,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told his caucus to vote against Mayorkas who came to the U.S. with his Cuban refugee parents in 1960.

Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy: Former Michigan governor, Granholm garnered fewer than two-thirds of the Senate’s votes with a vote of 64-35. Her experience with the auto industry, especially the development of electric vehicles, made her a strong asset. Since taking her position, the new Energy Secretary found $40 billion, unused during DDT’s term, for loans to boost clean energy. Over $35 billion in loans from the 2009 stimulus funding was paid back by such companies as Tesla.

Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs:  With an 87-7 vote for his confirmation, GOP senators—Ted Cruz (TX), Rick Scott (FL), Tom Cotton (AR), Josh Hawley (MO), Bill Hagerty (TN), Roger Marshall (KS), and Joni Ernst (IA)—didn’t explain their negative votes.

Michael Cardona, Education Secretary: The vote of 64-33 was more supportive than for former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who needed VP Mike Pence to break a tie in her favor. Some Republicans opposed Biden’s “union-focused progressive policies.” Cardona will return oversight on for-profit higher education to the department and help with student debt.

Gina Raimondo, Commerce Secretary: The Rhode Island governor was confirmed by 84-15, but Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) delayed the vote with a procedural move. Her new department includes the Census Bureau, the Patent and Trademark Office, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The 2020 census report is over two months late because of last-minute changes by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Raimondo faces ongoing court challenges regarding the delay of data including a request to order March 31 as the deadline.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture: In the 92-7 confirmation vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined six GOP senators against Vilsack’s appointment because of his corporate ties. Sanders said Vilsack would be “fine” on family farms, just not as strong as he wished. During his confirmation, Vilsack talked about the importance of solving climate change in these “different times.” Some issues he faces.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, UN Ambassador: The 78-20 confirmation vote came after GOP criticisms about a 2019 speech in which they claimed she downplayed China’s expansionist ambitions and investments in Africa. Thomas-Greenfield said she regretted speaking at the Chinese-funded Confucius Institute at Savannah State University as part of her commitment to encouraging Black students in foreign service careers.

Cecelia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors: In the most successful confirmation thus far, with a vote of 95-4, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) broke his record of 12 straight “no” votes on Biden’s nominees to vote for Rouse. He still maintains the record, however, of the largest number of negative votes.  

Republicans are stalling on more confirmations, sometimes with their usual hypocritical complaints:

Xavier Becerra: The Senate Finance Committee failed to move Becerra for confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary with a partisan tie. The 14 GOP naysayers have taken $36.1 million from the health industry, $9.6 million from large pharmaceutical companies. Becerra has taken on corrupt price gouging for drugs, and he promised to expand healthcare access and lower drug prices. The healthcare sector donations are here. Democrats can move him out of committee to a floor vote with “a motion to discharge his nomination and … an additional four hours of debate,” according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). GOP senators already delayed Becerra’s confirmation hearing, and HHS, vital to deal with vaccine distribution and other public health crises connected to the pandemic, has no permanent director.

GOP senators such as Ted Cruz (TX) and Richard Burr (NC) who complained about Becerra not being a doctor voted for DDT’s HHS Secretary Alex Azar, not-a-doctor. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) falsely accused Becerra of suing anti-abortion Catholic nuns when he sued DDT’s administration for its policy exempting employers from signing off on contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Merrick Garland: Sen. Tom Cotton, (R-AK) who faithfully voted for DDT’s attorney general nominees without answers to most questions, stalled Garland’s confirmation by claiming Garland refused “to answer entire basic questions” about immigration, death penalty, and guns. The hold requires another procedural step before a final confirmation vote, perhaps by next week. Garland was voted out of the Judiciary Committee, 15-7, with four GOP votes.

Deb Haaland: As the first Indigenous person nominated for Cabinet, the nominee for Interior Secretary was extensively questioned about her past support to end natural gas fracking and pipeline development. GOP senators complained about her tweet from last October, “Republicans don’t believe in science” and tried to use a study commissioned by the biggest oil and gas trade association against her with information about her position against federal leases. Despite misgivings, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) supported Haaland because of her support from Alaskan constituents, many of them Indigenous people. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) “apologized” for calling Haaland a “whack job,“ saying he was looking for another word before calling her “a neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job.”

Marcia Fudge: The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs confirmed Marcia Fudge for HUD Secretary by 17-7 with five Republicans voting yes. No Senate action has been taken in almost a month since the vote. Republicans are upset because Fudge has criticized the GOP.

Michael Regan: The Environment and Public Works Committee approved Regan as administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency by 14-6. 

Katherine Tai: The Senate Finance Committee surprisingly moved Tai along for Secretary of Trade with a unanimous voice vote

Isabel Guzman, Small Business Administrator: She passed the committee by 15-5.

Attacks against nominated women of color come from both GOP senators and conservative groups, including one waging a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against Vanita Gupta. She and another civil rights leader Kristen Clarke, appointed for the DOJ, have been described as cop-hating, anti-Semitic reverse racists. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) found it “particularly troubling” that Merrick Garland defended the two women and called them “all about politics.” Both female nominees want laws enforced, unlike the DOJ under the previous administration. Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) questions to Garland concerned only Gupta, who is supported by the country’s largest police union, and Clarke.

Democratic senator Joe Manchin (WV) joined the Republicans in opposing women of color, including his objections about Tanden’s tweets. Yet Manchin voted for DDT’s white males such as Ric Grenell, who ridiculed Newt Gingrich’s weight and asked whether Callista Gingrich’s “hair snaps on.” Grenell also said MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked like Justin Bieber and should “take a breath and put on a necklace.” Manchin voted for Ryan Zinke as Interior Secretary after he called Hillary Clinton the “antichrist.” Other Manchin votes were for Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State), who called then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry a “traitor” and “Vietnam’s worst import,” and Jeff Sessions (AG), who called the NAACP a “pinko organization” that “hates white people.”

Granholm, a white woman, was confirmed despite making caustic comments such as calling DDT “a swindler in chief.” Tanden did question possibly excessive compensation for Manchin’s daughter, CEO of EpiPen, after the product cost had a massive increase.

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) transphobic statements toward the nominee for assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services caused the most disgusting performance in the Senate confirmation hearings thus far. When questioning Dr. Rachel Levine, a trans pediatrician who served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Rand equated gender-affirming healthcare with “genital mutilation” and accused people seeking gender-affirming surgery because of “the social pressure to conform, to do what others do… as well as the need to be accepted socially and fear of being rejected by the community.” He then accused Levine of advocating “surgical destruction of a minor’s genitalia” before asking if she believes “minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex.”

Levine has maintained this treatment is not recommended for anyone under 18 years of age with “some exceptions.” She politely thanked Rand for his interest, saying that “transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” Rand could not drop the subject, however, saying a British woman who “read something about transsexuals” had “sex reassignment” surgery that she later regretted. Health, Education, and Labor Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) eventually shut him up and thanked Levine for her thoughtful answers, adding:

“It is really critical to me that our nominees be treated with respect and that our questions focus on their qualifications and the work ahead of us rather than on ideological and harmful misrepresentations like those we heard from Sen. Paul earlier.”

A tracker for 800 of the over 1,250 presidential political appointments requiring Senate confirmation. With the current Senate stalling, Biden’s 57 confirmations are far behind his four predecessors.

February 8, 2021

DDT Returns to News, Biden Still Governs

This week’s biggest news will probably be the second impeachment trial of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) which starts tomorrow. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have agreed to the impeachment rules:

Tuesday: Four hours of debate followed by vote on the trial’s constitutionality.

During the trial: Debate on calling witnesses.

Wednesday: Opening arguments beginning at noon for both sides having 16 hours to present case.

Friday, 5:24 pm – Sunday: Originally a pause to observe the Jewish Sabbath although it does not conform with constitutional process. But after the agreement, the Jewish lawyer who asked for the dispensation then said the trial could proceed. It’s the typical DDT process—make a statement, change the statement, and then maybe make more changes. Friday isn’t here yet.

Both Sides: Two hours for closing arguments.

Conclusion: Within a week.

According to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, 56 percent of people think DDT should be convicted; they also say by a 17 percent margin that the GOP has more radical extremists than Democrats. In a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 58 percent believe DDT should either “probably” or “definitely” be barred from running for public office in the future. One-third of Republicans want DDT to testify in his impeachment trial.

DDT ended his term with pathetic jobs reports. After losing 227,000 jobs in December, his last month of January 2021 picked up only 49,000 jobs, showing that Biden’s stimulus plan is badly needed. About 3.5 million people formerly considered temporarily unemployed permanently lost their jobs, and 40 percent of the 10 million unemployed during the past year have had no job for over six months. DDT may have been the first person in the Oval Office during modern times to have no new jobs for the entire four years. The fall in unemployment from 6.7 percent to 6.3 percent was driven by over 400,000 people who left the workforce. Regaining the lost jobs from the past year could take over 16 years at January’s rate.

Before the GOP games begin tomorrow, news about President Joe Biden’s progress:

As with all new administrations, Biden is making a great deal of personnel changes. This week he called for the resignation of all DDT’s ten appointees to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, in charge of resolutions for “impasses” in negotiation. Not only DDT loyalists, these members of the agency, anti-union activists, undermined collective bargaining and discouraged managers from working with employees. Eight of the members gave Biden resignations when he asked, but two refused. He fired them.

Biden’s next project is to remove the Federal Labor Relations Authority, home to the impasses panel, from GOP control. The three members deliver binding decisions about federal unions’ rights. The two Republicans wrote “policy statements” giving the managers power over the unions before a dispute about the situation. In addition, they eliminated the unions’ right to bargain over workplace conditions before the expiration of current agreements. Their actions prevented unions from negotiating health and safety rules during the pandemic.

In another act, Biden removed over 30 nominations DDT had sent to the Senate, many in his last weeks, including judges, ambassadors including those to Bahamas and Singapore, and a member of the Federal Reserve System.

Not all DDT’s appointees are going quietly. Roger Severino, appointed to the council of the Administrative Conference of the United States a day or two before Biden became president, is suing him for being ousted. Severino claims the council is separate from executive power. Before this appointment, he worked at DHS preventing abortions and protections for LGBTQ patients.

DDT’s attempt to permanently embed his loyalists in agencies, many of them as recently as days before Biden’s inauguration, continues to unravel. New Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin removed all members on 31 defense advisory boards, starting February 16, and immediately suspended operations for 42 panels while the Pentagon completes a “zero-based review” of boards and commissions. Unfortunately, DDT’s appointments should be retained during the review, but some can go because their paperwork had not been finished.

Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) former staffer Kash Patel, part of Nunes’ leaking to DDT, is on hold. Under review are four DDT appointees on a committee to remove names of Confederate leaders from military bases, opposed by DDT. One of these appointees was in charge of DDT’s purge and replacement with DDT’s loyalists. Gone are Anthony Tata, policy chief who called President Obama a “terrorist leader,” and Scott O’Grady, who tweeted Biden is not the real president. The boards of visitors to military academies thus far keep Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, former Pentagon adviser Douglas Macgregor, and former Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought.

DDT’s support for white supremacists—aka domestic terrorists—let them get out of control, and Austin is working to struggle with the issue in the military. One of his memos orders commanding officers and supervisors to have a one-day stand-down within 60 days in a search for this violent extremism in the military. Before that step, Biden is reviewing whether more FBI agents are needed to work on the threat of “domestic violent extremism,” according to one of Biden’s senior officials.

Biden had already ordered intelligence agencies to conduct a “comprehensive threat assessment.” Former DHS officials from both parties blamed the January 6 Capitol attacks on ”four years of inadequately monitoring and communicating the rising threat of right-wing domestic extremists.” DDT had pressured his officials to overlook this threat and instead find a non-existent left-wing criminal conspiracy. He also eliminated resources in opposition to the top domestic terrorism threat of white supremacy. New Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) plans an investigation including issues about ties between anti-government extremism in the United States and in similar European and Russian organizations.

The Senate confirmed Denis McDonough for Secretary of Veterans Affairs by 87-7. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is the only senator to oppose all Biden’s appointments. McDonough’s early responsibility is providing 18 million veterans with COVID-19 vaccinations while heading up the largest integrated healthcare system in the nation. He inherits a problem with falsifying records to cover up long wait times for medical care and former VA Secretary David Shulkin’s scandal of inappropriate spending, requiring subordinates to perform personal duties and unethically accepting gifts.

While Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), tried to get judges to retire so that he could cram more young, unexperienced, highly conservative people into the federal judicial system. He failed, but with a Democratic Senate majority and president, judges have started to retire. In fewer than three weeks since Biden’s inauguration, federal district and appellate courts have 57 vacancies with another 20 soon becoming vacant. Check here for details about retirees. DDT managed 226 appointments including three Supreme Court justices, 54 appeals court judges, and 174 district court judges. To push through DDT’s appointments, McConnell greatly shortened the time to confirm judges which can benefit Biden.

Eighteen months into his first term, DDT stripped former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearance to obtain classified information because Brennan had offended DDT. Now Biden has talked about removing DDT’s rights to classified daily briefings but explained his intelligence team would have the final decision. A president has authority to deny intelligence access to anyone. Reasons for keeping DDT from classified information include his high level of political activity with far-right extremists and close business ties with foreign entities, both making DDT vulnerable to U.S. enemies.

The U.S. will return to the UN Human Rights Council after DDT withdrew from the organization, leaving a “vacuum of U.S. leadership,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He added:

“When it works well, the Human Rights Council shines a spotlight on countries with the worst human rights records and can serve as an important forum for those fighting injustice and tyranny.”

The UN General Assembly will be electing new members for three-year terms later this year. China, with a seat on the Council, may object to a U.S. attempt for full membership, but Biden plans to begin as an observer. Republicans will hope the U.S. cannot gain membership because the Council criticizes Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

Biden has deployed over 1,000 active-duty troops to five FEMA COVID-19 vaccination centers, and FEMA has requested another 10,000 DoD personnel. Although the number is still low, vaccinations are up to between 1.3 to 1.5 people a day, and these deployments should speed it up.

Concerned about Russia’s attempts to shut off natural resources and maritime access through militarization, Biden has deployed four B-1 bombers and 200 personnel to Orland Air Base in Norway for missions in the Arctic Circle and international airspace off northwestern Russia. Last month, a Russian fighter jet flew near the USS Donald Cook, a naval destroyer, in the international waters of the Black Sea. As Biden said, “America is back!” and the days of coddling Russia are over.

A judge gave Biden another month to consider how to proceed in a lawsuit about DDT’s tax returns. The law allows heads of congressional tax committees to examine private tax information, and House Democrats are suing the Treasury demanding six-years of DDT’s returns after issuing a subpoena. DDT’s Treasury Department had refused. DDT’s team has a 72-hour notice if the returns will be given to House members, giving the lawyers an opportunity to block the action in court.

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

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

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

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

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

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

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

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Majority:

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

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

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

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

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

January 16, 2021

DDT: Weeks 207 & 208 – ‘The Big Lies’

Only the legacy of insurrection and sedition left by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rises above his cruelty and inhumanity. He started his white supremacist campaign on June 16, 2015 when he declared people from Mexico are “rapists” who are “bringing drugs, and he finished it as a cult leader of a white supremacist terror cell attacking the U.S. Capitol.

The DOJ inspector general’s report about DDT’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy for immigrants proves DDT’s incessant cruelty. Interviews and email reviews define DDT’s involvement in the policy of separating separate children from their families with no hope of reunification. Too little too late, former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein expressed regret, “I wish we all had done better.”

The report’s findings match the 21-month House Judiciary Committee’s investigation accusing DDT’s administration of “reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty.” Last November, 666 children, 20 percent under the age of five, were still not reunited with their families. Children reunified suffered trauma described by doctors as “torture” and “state-sanctioned child abuse” after U.S. officials had told the children they would never see their families again. Only public outrage over such revelations as a breastfeeding baby torn from the mother and a man’s suicide after separation from his wife and child forced the government to slightly modify its policy. The government continued its human rights violation with the removal of reproductive organs from immigrant women in concentration facilities until recently.  

In another cruel act, DDT and his HHS Secretary Alex Azar lied about releasing the “reserve” vaccines to increase the number of people receiving vaccinations.  DDT had claimed he was saving the doses for booster shots, but Azar finally admitted the government started sending out the reserves in December with the final shipment last week. Three years after DDT was inaugurated, he falsely accused President Obama of leaving “a bare cupboard” with no PPP supplies. Yet the “bare cupboard” with no vaccine is exactly what DDT leaves Joe Biden’s administration. Millions of people—teachers, healthcare workers, elders, etc.—expected to receive the vaccinations as soon as this month. Instead, everyone will watch DDT fly away on Air Force One the morning of January 20 for the last time and wonder when they will be vaccinated.

Biden’s transition team has been blocked from access to information or personnel about the production and distribution of the vaccine. Team members were also not briefed on new policies such as offering the vaccine to anyone with high-risk medical conditions, guaranteed to fail because of DDT’s vaccine shortage. Another policy to be put into effect after Biden became president was designed to penalize slower-moving states. Biden has promised to not punish any states. The new administration is developing a real plan for vaccinating the nation while dropping DDT’s name “Operation Warp Speed” for the vaccine.

Azar submitted his resignation letter dated January 12. He blamed DDT’s “actions and rhetoric” for tarnishing the administration’s legacy and touted his own accomplishments, including the COVID-19 vaccine. He omitted his lies to the people exacerbating its disaster with over 400,000 deaths, instead claiming that he saved millions of lives. He also didn’t mention his most recent lie to the states about having reserves for vaccinations or address the 20 million vaccinations he promised by the end of December. The total of doses delivered is currently 10.6 million.

January 15 would have been the 92nd birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, and DDT is using this anniversary by executing people. The execution on King’s birthday, DDT’s 13th since last summer when AG Bill Barr thought killing people is a good idea, is the third in three days. The first woman to be executed in the U.S. since 1953 was killed January 13; she was seriously mentally ill. Another man, intellectually disabled, was killed January 14. Courts had objected to their executions. The DOJ complained that the U.S. would suffer more harm from the inconvenience of rescheduling private contractors than prisoners would be harmed by their deaths.

The most recent man executed was convicted in Maryland which outlawed the death penalty. Because the Federal Death Penalty Act bans executions for people from states banning the killing of prisoners, DOJ moved the case to Indiana, which does permit executions. Lawyers objected, and the legality of DOJ’s move to Indiana has a hearing on January 27—12 days after DOJ killed him. DOJ also lied about his killing three women: his co-defendant, who actually did the killing, is in prison for life without parole.

Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, wants to continue propagandizing government-funded broadcasts from Voice of America (VOA) and other networks such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during the Biden administration. He serves as chair of the networks’ boards and packed them with conservative activists and DDT loyalists. The boards have agreed to binding contractual agreements which supposedly cannot be removed for another two years except “for cause.”

Because of internal objections and objections, the new presidents, appointed by Pack this month, have not yet signed the contracts. The European network reaches over 40 million people in 27 languages across 23 countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Ukraine; Radio Free Asia audiences are in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and North Korea. Some VOA journalists signed a letter demanding Pack and his deputy resign for their use of VOA in a “propaganda event” for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the “sudden and unexplained” reassignments of the chief news editor and White House correspondent. Pompeo told the journalists at the event “to cease critical coverage of the United States.” A VOA journalist who tried to ask Pompeo questions after his speech was taken off the White House beat, and the new chief news editor told her she doesn’t “know how to behave!”

As a lame duck, DDT suffers continued financial losses:

Three banks—Signature, Professional, and Deutsche—stopped doing business with DDT. Signature, where DDT has a $5.3 million loan, closed his personal accounts; Professional in Florida had loaned DDT’s company $11.2 million to buy his sister’s home near Mar-a-Lago; and Deutsche, which holds $400 million in loans for DDT, will no longer lend to him.

Real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield will not work with DDT, including office leasing at Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street as well as retail leasing in Chicago. DDT has lost the real estate broker to sell his hotel in D.C.

Four Trump-branded hotels closed, and his company’s plans for new hotel chains disappeared. Biden is now DDT’s new “landlord” at the D.C. hotel because the government holds the lease.

Decorated chef David Burke left DDT’s D.C. hotel’s BLT Prime restaurant.

DDT’s worldwide 19 golf courses won’t be holding international events—the 2022 PGA at Bedminister (NJ) and the British Open at Turnberry (Scotland). His tax returns show a $315.6 million loss over two decades. Turnberry, Trump International Scotland, and Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland together lost $63.6 million, and Trump National Doral (Miami, FL) lost $162.3 up to 2018.

Shopiify will not host TrumpStore.com.

New York City is considering canceling all contracts with DDT’s company, including operating the Central Park skating rink.

DDT is facing state-level investigations into his financial practices in New York, probably blocking his former business of money laundering and tax fraud. The unconstitutional emoluments will be gone.

And Lehigh University, Robert Gordon University, and Wagner College rescinded and revoked honorary degrees given DDT. He keeps only two honorary degrees from Liberty University.

At least, DDT doesn’t need to look for a new job; his staffers aren’t as lucky. With their negative branding, they are having difficulty. One PR recruiter who took only six of over a dozen staffers as clients couldn’t get interviews for any of them. One recruiter talked about the applicants “narcissistic attitudes, thinking any company” would want to hire them. For the first few couple of months after the election, staffers couldn’t even openly look for a job, afraid that the personnel director would carry through with his threat to fire them.

PR firm Burson Cohn and Wolfe (BCW), with executives from both Clinton and W. Bush administrations, stated it has “no current plans to hire from this administration.” In an op-ed, Forbes wrote it will assume any company or firm hiring current or former press secretaries is always telling lies. Former DDT officials such as Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton want jobs as a television commentator or an academic, but Fox has only so much room and the lying goes for academia. One media executive said:

“We’re not taking people who have no credibility. Very few of them have real value beyond Fox News, [One America News], and Newsmax.”

Recent polls:

  • 76 percent: Voters rating DDT’s conduct since the election as fair or poor, up eight points from November and now 62 percent “poor.”
  • 84 percent: support for another stimulus package, including 56 percent from Republicans.
  • 56 percent: support for Congress to disqualify DDT from future offices.
  • 66 percent: belief DDT acted irresponsibly since election.
  • 71 percent: DDT’s responsibility for the Capitol attack from “a great deal” to “good amount.”
  • 54 percent: in favor of charging DDT for crime of inciting a riot.
  • 69 percent: viewing white supremacists as a serious problem.

Last week, DDT fired Byung Pak, his appointed Georgia U.S. Attorney, after DDT insisted Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” another 11,780 votes to swing the state for DDT. Furious because Pak wouldn’t help him change the votes, DDT replaced him with Bobby Christine who brought assistants involved in monitoring election fraud. Christine dismissed two DDT election fraud cases on his first day.

Four more days until the inauguration.  

January 7, 2021

Fallout from DDT’s Attempted January 6 Coup in the U.S. Capitol

At 3:45 a.m. on January 7, VP Mike Pence announced Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice-president of the U.S. with 306 Electoral College votes after white supremacist supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) breached the U.S. Capitol and took over the building. DDT received 232 votes. Almost 150 GOP congressional dissidents created havoc by voting to overturn the legal elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania. These are the names of every congressional members voting in favor of overturning a legal presidential election. Only the attempted insurrection stopped their plans from also attacking legal votes in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin. Five people died, one of them a U.S. Capitol Police officer, and 52 people were arrested in the melee. 

While DDT raged in the White House, aides considered resigning, and senior officials discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him before he can do more damage. According to the constitution, removal requires approval by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet or the vice-president and a congressional body if they determine he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) called for invoking the 25th Amendment to ensure “we have a sane captain of the ship” because DDT has become “unmoored not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself.” Former AG Bill Barr, once DDT’s strongest supporter, called DDT’s conduct “a betrayal of his office and supporters” and stated that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

After Pence made the announcement about the votes, DDT made this statement:

“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again.”

The sort-of concession may come with the help of his small group of other seditionist advisers: chief of staff Mark Meadows, deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, personnel director Johnny McEntee, and policy adviser Stephen Miller. Later DDT added, “A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20.” He didn’t mention Biden or say he lost, but West Wing staffers have received orders to pack up and move out.  

Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) and Senate Minority Leader (soon to be Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer (NY) called for DDT’s immediate removal from office because of his inciting sedition. Pence refused to talk to them. Although praising the action of “many of our Capitol Police,” Pelosi also called for the Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to step down for his failure yesterday; he plans to leave in another nine days—four days before Biden’s inauguration. Sund had turned down National Guard assistance when the mob laid siege to the Capitol. Both House and Senate sergeants at arms resigned.

Almost 100 Democratic congressional members called for DDT’s removal with either impeaching him or invoking the 25th Amendment. The administration officials discussing DDT’s removal didn’t know if “acting” Cabinet members could participate in a vote about it.

Pelosi also asked for a full review of security failures at the executive branch level and the Pentagon’s delay in mobilizing the National Guard. DDT’s press secretary announced DDT had called in the National Guard, but DDT rejected the idea so Pence made the request. House Majority Leader Steny Hogan (D-MD) called Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan for help with the National Guard, but their deployment was delayed almost two hours because Hogan couldn’t get permission from Defense Secretary Chris Miller, a new DDT appointee. Hogan and two other GOP governors, Charlie Baker (MA) and Phil Scott (VT), called for DDT’s removal.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin for Washington, D.C. said DDT may be one of the “actors” investigated to decide if they broke the law after DDT told his followers to “fight like hell” before the insurgence.

DDT’s appointees are considering departing if not actually doing so. Two Cabinet members are gone: Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, wife of current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They cited DDT’s behavior, but they may want to avoid voting on removing DDT from office.

DDT’s appointments who left: Tyler Goodspeed, acting chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, who left the White House Council of Economic Advisers with no members, and U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, formerly DDT’s chief of staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget, who also destroyed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when he was acting director.  

Other departures:

  • Melania Trump’s chief of staff, Stephanie Grisham, formerly White House press secretary.
  • Anna Cristina Niceta, the White House social secretary.
  • Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews.
  • Matt Pottinger, deputy national security adviser.
  • Ryan Tully, senior director for European and Russian affairs at the National Security Council.
  • John Costello, deputy assistant secretary of commerce.

National security adviser Robert C. O’Brien and deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell are considering resignations.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), a lead in overturning the presidential election within Congress along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has been severely reproached by the Kansas City Star, his home state’s largest newspaper. According to its headline, Hawley “has blood on his hands in Capitol coup attempt,” and the editorial describes him as self-interested and dishonest, interested only in furthering his own political career. “Trump did not manage this madness on his own,” editors wrote.

After what Simon and Schuster calls a “deadly insurrection,” the publisher withdrew its offer for a planned book from Hawley. Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth said mentoring Hawley “was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life” and blamed Hawley for sparking the insurrection.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is demanding resignations by Cruz and Hawley for trying to overturn the elections. If they don’t, she asks Senate to expel them. Ocasio-Cortez has been joined by Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) to expel House members voting to overturn the election.

After the attempted insurgency and one hour before Congress reconvened to certify electoral votes,  DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani sent a voicemail to newly-installed Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), urging him to “try to just slow it down” by objecting to electoral votes from “numerous states,” perhaps as many as ten, letting DDT’s team have more time to overturn Biden’s legal presidential win. The transcript of the call, reading like a conspiracy plan, was publicized because he mistakenly dialed another person with the message. Earlier in the day, Giuliani called for “trial by combat” at DDT’s rally outside the White House.

U.S. rivals such as China reveled in the attempted coup while allies expressed horror, some of them blaming DDT, and called for upholding democracy in the United States—similar to what the U.S. has done to other countries in the past. Russia ridiculed the U.S. for January 6’s events, and Iran pointed out how weak the U.S. is. 

Far-right media as well as social media are lying about the attempted coup by blaming it on the “antifa” or paid participants. Others blame the visuals of far-right people at the insurrection on evidence-free photoshopping and claiming a tattoo from the video game show Dishonored is the logo of the Communist party. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and QAnon congressional members spread conspiracy theories, and Fox network’s Laura Ingraham told fake news from Washington Times to millions of her followers. XRVision, the facial-recognition company cited in the conservative publication, calls the Washington Times’ reporting “outright false, misleading, and defamatory” and demands a retraction.

Unlike antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters, almost no thugs assaulting the U.S. Capitol wore masks, making identification much easier. The FBI already has over 4,000 tips online with more coming in by phone. Analysis from digital media is being forwarded to agents working the case. Among those who sacked the Capitol is a newly sworn-in West Virginia legislator who live-streamed the entire event. Later he claimed to be “an independent member of the media to film history” and didn’t participate in any “destruction.”

The Capitol’s invaders have been planning the event for weeks, indicated by their ease in navigating the buildings. Some wonder if they had inside help. The FBI, Secret Service, Homeland Security, Pentagon, National Guard, and Joint Task Force knew about the strong possibility of violence after DDT kept telling white supremacists to come of Washington, D.C. on January 6 for a “wild” time. The protection agencies ignored the problems and failed to coordinate, permitting thugs to break into the U.S. Capitol. Because of DDT’s sedition, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has permanently banned DDT from Facebook and Instagram.

This weekend, one of two weekends before he leaves the White House, DDT is going into hiding at Camp David, 70 miles from the White House. The chief of domestic terrorists may spend his time working on his list of pardons, including one for himself.

The situation in Washington is obviously fluid and rapidly changing. Meanwhile, January 7 saw another 4,134 new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. along with 274,190 new infections. Hospitalizations are up at least ten percent to over 132,000 people.

January 2, 2021

DDT: Week 206 – Sabotage, Blocking Change

President-elect Joe Biden continues to face sabotage from the far-right loyalists of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Dana Milbank lays much of the responsibility in the hands of DDT’s budget director, Russell Vought. During Vought’s two years in the office, the national debt increased by $6 trillion while predicting a 2.8 percent GDP growth last February, just before the economy’s collapse. Milbank writes:

“But what Russ Vought is very good at is sabotage. He’s sabotaging national security, the pandemic response and the economic recovery — all to make things more difficult for the incoming Biden administration… He has blocked civil servants at OMB from cooperating with the Biden transition, denying President-elect Joe Biden the policy analysis and budget-preparation assistance given to previous presidents-elect, including Barack Obama and Trump himself. Transition figures warn that it will likely delay and hamper economic and pandemic relief and national security preparation (the Pentagon is the other key agency resisting transition cooperation with the incoming administration).”

Milbank tells about Vought’s past:

“He was the author of a Sept. 4 memo attacking critical race theory and canceling racial sensitivity programs, which he called ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda.’

“Vought was also the mastermind of Trump’s executive order that attempts to reclassify tens of thousands of civil servants who work in policy roles so they can be easily fired…

“He was a key figure in the Ukraine imbroglio, freezing military aid to the country as Trump pushed for Ukraine’s president to announce a probe of Joe and Hunter Biden and the Democrats… Vought also ignored a subpoena during the impeachment inquiry.

“[In] a 2016 article … he wrote: ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, his Son, and they stand condemned.’

“Vought spent seven years on the vanguard of conservative extremism as a senior official at Heritage Action, the political wing of the Heritage Foundation…

“Before Heritage, Vought worked for the right-wing House Republican Study Committee whose job, he said, ‘is to push leadership as far to the right as is possible and flat out oppose it when necessary.’

“At an antiabortion rally, he claimed credit for blocking Planned Parenthood’s funding. He infuriated Democrats by refusing to share projections with Congress…

“He ran the botched White House response to the 2019 government shutdown, issuing legally dubious decisions and, as one Republican budget expert told The Post, ‘making up the rules as they go along.’ It became the longest-ever shutdown and ended in Trump’s surrender.”

Now Vought is in charge of destroying the transition—and the U.S. along with it.

The Secret Service is planning changes in its protection for Biden because of existing white House agents’ loyalty to DDT. While working for DDT, some agents told colleagues not to wear masks during trips, perhaps the reason over 130 agents tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined because of exposure to the virus. In addition, former agent detail leader Anthony Ornato also worked as DDT’s chief of staff. Ornato helped coordinate the photo op when DDT walked through the cleared Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible and his people attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas.

One country nervous about Biden’s upcoming administration, Saudi Arabia, departs the golden years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). For four years, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam committed human rights abuses and even killed a U.S. journalist with no objection from DDT who promoted the sale of huge quantities of weapons to the Saudis used to kill large numbers of people in the Middle East, including Yemeni civilians. DDT sided with Saudi Arabia over Qatar where the U.S. has a military base. In possible steps to appease the new administration, the Saudis are considering the release of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Haltoul, sentenced in 2018 to almost six years in prison for defying the country’s ban on women driving, and a resolution to its four-year blockade of Qatar.

This week, Biden made three appointments to the Department of Defense.

Kathleen Hicks, nominated for deputy secretary of defense, has a history of posts in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Colin Kahl, another former Pentagon official overseeing Middle East Affairs, has been appointed for undersecretary of defense for policy.

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs now at the Center for American Progress, has been named Pentagon chief of staff.

Meanwhile DDT continues his “scorch the earth” policies and killings. He headed home early from Mar-a-Lago before the large New Year’s Eve party where he had promised to appear. Those who attended still managed to make it a grand superspreader event with mask-less proximity and kept Mar-a-Lago fiscally afloat by paying over $1,000 a ticket each. Before he left the club, DDT had a tantrum about his wife’s renovations of his living quarters and demanded the removal of the white marble and dark wood.  

Trying to get the heat off Russia’s paying bounties to the Taliban to attack U.S. troops, DDT declassified unconfirmed information about China paying people in Afghanistan to attack U.S. soldiers. Months ago, news reports revealed Russians gave bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

DDT also completely ignored the Nashville (TN) explosion taking out AT&T communication from Georgia to Kentucky. The alleged perpetrator was a 63-year-old white man who supposedly died in the explosion. According to reports, the man believed in conspiracy theories such as “aliens and UFO’s began attacking the earth” on 9/11, and the world is controlled by reptilians and lizard people masquerading as humans. The man’s girlfriend told the police over a year ago he was building bombs, but police discounted her information and didn’t follow up on it.

Three federal executions will be DDT’s way of honoring the 91st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthdate; one of the killings is of a mentally-disturbed woman

DDT extended the ban on some immigrant work visas for three months, including the diversity visa lottery allowing people from underrepresented countries to come to the U.S, the H-1B tech program, and the H-2B non-agricultural seasonal workers.

Customs and Border Protection are illegally expelling newborn U.S. citizens from the country with their migrant mothers without giving any citizenship proof. CBP is lying about the women, asylum seekers, voluntarily leaving the U.S.

Although DDT cannot defund foreign aid, he plans to freeze it for the last 18 days. 

The sinking ships are still leaving the rat. One resignation came from U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David Freed, who fueled DDT’s claim of widespread voter fraud when he told him about nine discarded mail-in ballots in Luzerne County. The election worker had made a mistake, she was fired, and the ballots were retrieved. Yet Freed improperly made a public declaration, and DDT turned a preliminary investigation into a conspiracy theory.

Texas owes Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman $3 million because of its bounty on cheating voters, and he isn’t letting them forget. Fetterman claims Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick—the man who suggested old people should die of coronavirus to open up businesses—should pay him the money because of Fetterman’s proof of voter fraud, all three cases against Republicans. Fetterman also pointed out that his legal case is far stronger than the false one for election fraud Texas sent to the Supreme Court.

After the deaths of 346 people in the 2018 and 2019 crashes, the Boeing 737 Max was grounded for 20 months until the FAA permitted the plane style to return to the skies. Within 34 days, an engine issue in a 737-8 Max forced the plane to divert to Tucson (AZ) four days ago.

DDT is transferring up to $700 million from low-paid wage earners to their employees by giving tips for waiters and waitresses to back-of-the-house employees. That money can then be used for minimum wages. With the change, tipped people can be required to do non-tipped work for their minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour and under the federal minimum wage in half the states. Employers can then fire some of the regular minimum wage employees.

The favorite bankers of DDT and Jared Kushner at Deutsche Bank, Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi, have unexpectedly resigned after the Manhattan DA’s office and New York AG subpoenaed Deutsche Bank about its lending relationship with the Trump Organization.  DDT owes Deutsche Bank about $330 million, and the loans come due in 2023 and 2024. If he doesn’t repay the bank, it can collect on his personal assets. Last year, the bank’s anti-money-laundering specialists recommended DDT’s and Kushner’s transactions be reported to the Treasury Department’s financial crimes watchdog, but executives failed to follow through.

As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths skyrockets, so does the number of hospitalizations. The total ratcheted up to over 125,000, up from 100,000 five days earlier. Although totals drop from lack of recording on weekends and holidays, new infections in the U.S. for the second day of 2021 are 232,227. Deaths are 2,107.

December 20, 2020

DDT: Week 204 – More of the Same

News of the week may include Senate coming to terms with a stimulus bill keeping the government from shutting down, but details are uncertain because Republicans change their minds hour to hour. More after a final vote. Instead of working to help people and stop a government shutdown by passing a budget, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) uses Senate time to pass more right-wing, inexperienced judges.

Will Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blow up democracy? He still wants to leave himself in the White House by ordering the military to throw out swing state election results for a new vote favoring himself. Career Pentagon officials are also horrified by acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller’s refusal to allow cooperation between President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team and his department. DDT’s only event last Friday was a meeting with Miller. The Pentagon said it is “taking a knee for two weeks” because of the “holidays.”

One month before he leaves the White House, DDT, obsessing about his legacy, tweeted the SPACE FORCE, as he cites it in a tweet, will be one of his “great achievements.” VP Mike Pence proudly announced “guardians” will be used for its members, along with Marines, sailors, and soldiers, after a year-long search for a name. James Gunn, director of the Marvel franchise Guardians of the Galaxy, tweeted, “Can we sue this dork?” The logo looks like Star Trek’s insignia for the StarFleet.

DDT’s obsession overrides any great concern about the hacking in government agencies and private businesses. Saturday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Russia is behind the hack, “a very significant effort.” For the first time, DDT mentioned the hack, only to declare China may have been responsible and claimed “everything is well under control.” He accused the media of exaggerating the damage and proposed the real issue is his belief elections results have been compromised. His claim again brings up the question of what Russian president Vladimir Putin is holding over DDT. Privately, he calls the hack a “hoax” and told others to give alternative theories—such as China—for the responsible party instead of Russia. John Bolton, DDT’s third national security adviser, did away with the strong cybersecurity team in the White House. The newly passed National Defense Authorization Act recreates the team with a “cyber czar” with direct access to the president, but DDT has promised to veto the bill.

Biden, currently shut out by the Pentagon, faces a difficult task because the U.S. hacks other countries and a military response violates international law. Within 16 days of Biden’s inauguration, he must also address the renewal of New Start, the nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.

Rupert Murdoch, owner of media entities such as Fox network leading the war against health, received his vaccine for COVID-19 the day before Tucker Carlson promoted anti-vaccine theories. While Carlson and other Fox notables killed people by supporting the lies the virus is a hoax, Murdoch and his wife isolated themselves in the UK.

The three most recent U.S. presidents are offering to get the vaccine live on TV, and VP Mike Pence got his “jab” on Friday, in time for a second shot before his departure from the U.S. after he accepts the vote on January 6, forcing him into new housing. DDT won’t commit. Maybe he doesn’t want anyone to see his arm.

Fox programs, such as the one hosted by Lou Dobbs is backing down on their conspiracy theories about election fraud. At least three programs played clips from Smartmatic debunking fraud accusations by DDT’s personal lawyer and his other supporters against its technology company after Smartmatic sent a 20-page legal demand to Fox, Newsmax, and One American News. One of the conspiracy theories is that former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who died seven years ago, designed the software to rig elections used to fix the 2020 U.S. election. In addition to lies on his program by Giuliani about Smartmatic owning Dominion voting software and other lies by attorney Sidney Powell, Dobbs accused Smartmatic of being controlled by “left-wing radicals.” The debunking video was also played over the weekend on conspiracy theorist programs hosted by Jeanine Pirro (Justice with Judge Jeanine) and Maria Bartiromo (Sunday Morning Futures). The clip didn’t go over well with Bartiromo’s watchers.

Antrim County in Michigan has been the center of conspiracy theories about a stolen election because the voting machines originally gave Biden more votes than DDT in the traditionally GOP county. Correcting updating the software brought DDT in ahead by 4,000 votes over Biden out of 16,000 ballots. The lies have a life of their own, but Antrim has paper ballots, providing evidence about the accurate vote in the county. A hand tally of all 15,962 votes gave DDT more votes—12 to be exact. Losing one vote in Antrim County, Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes.

Republicans have cited proof of election fraud because people wouldn’t vote for Biden. They might find more fraud in GOP Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky reelection to the Senate, 57.8 percent over Democratic Amy McGrath’s 38.2 percent:

  • McConnell won large vote leads in Democratic strongholds, ones he never before carried.
  • Wide discrepancies between DDT and down-ballot candidates were not explained.
  • Along with other states, Kentucky’s vote tabulation by Election Systems & Software (ES&S) reported down-ballot race result significantly different from pre-election polls.
  • Forty percent of Kentucky’s counties have more registered voters than voting-age citizens; in November 2017, right-wing Judicial Watch sued Kentucky for its “Dirty Voter Rolls” and failure to maintain voter registration lists.
  • (Details here.)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also won by a comfortable 10 percent lead after a squeaker election; his votes were tabulated on ES&S machines. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who never had a polling lead in the four months before the election, won by almost nine points. Yup, ES&S machines counted the votes for Collins. Maybe the polls about their losing weren’t wrong.

McConnell and Russian president Vladimir Putin may have admitted DDT lost the election, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is staying silent. Asked if Biden won, he ducked into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office. McCarthy was one of the seditious 126 House members trying to overthrow the election results in the Supreme Court. Newsmax’s Greg Kelly thinks DDT will be inaugurated because Biden coughed during his speech on Monday. Bad news for Kelly: VP-elect Kamala Harris is second in line for the president, according to the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. DDT isn’t in line.

DC visitors can’t go to the Washington Memorial for a few days after Interior Secretary David Bernhardt took people on a private tour after hours last week and tested positive for COVID-19. He also caused a staffing shortage at the monument: National Park Service staff near Bernhardt are under quarantine. His virus also caused the cancellation of a large Interior Department party—perhaps lucky for those who planned to attend—and concerns about Deputy Secretary Katharine MacGregor’s plans to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Staff was supposed to drive her between the two parks and give her tours for four days. She still plans the trip. Despite the possibility of contagion, agencies are still hosting large parties, and both Bernhardt and MacGregor do not consistently wear masks.

The Supreme Court will allow people in Kansas to vote without presenting a birth certificate or passport. The former state’s secretary of state, anti-immigrant Kris Kobach, succeeded in putting this requirement into law, but a trial court and the 10th Circuit Court both declared the mandate unconstitutional. The high court declined to address those rulings. Kobach briefly led DDT’s “election integrity” commission when DDT lied that three million immigrants voting against him caused him to lose the 2016 popular vote. About 30,000 people in Kansas couldn’t vote because of the punitive law.

DDT has come to the last month of pardoning capability, and Bill Barr has left the DOJ. New acting AG Jeff Rosen has continually demonstrated his unswerving loyalty to DDT. He quashed the investigation into DDT’s extortion scheme against Ukraine, tried to force an indictment against former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, and reviewed career prosecutors’ work in an attempt to save Roger Stone. Rosen also saved former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from prosecution for his scandals and led the case against John Bolton in DDT’s attempt to keep his book from being published. In other actions, Rosen kept Paul Manafort out of Rikers Island when he was arrested and encouraged prosecutors to aggressively prosecute activists, even with the charge of “sedition,” to satisfy DDT. The month of pardons is beginning. Let DDT pardon himself? To Rosen, it’s a piece of cake.

In the White House, DDT always had his priorities. He has succeeded in getting the Energy Department to finalize a rule increasing shower pressure to rinse his “beautiful head of hair,” in his own words. Part of his “energy dominance” policy, it’s one of his biggest talking points at rallies.  Another achievement for the people starving in the country is “Freedom” cherry pie. DDT’s administration is persuading the persuadable FDA to remove regulations from frozen cherry pie—like requiring cherries. In deregulating vegetable oil and an acid in French dressing, the FDA said the agency doesn’t need “to promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers.” DDT can leave the White House, secure in the knowledge he can always have a good hairdo. And Freedom “Cherry Pie.” DDT’s priorities in his last month during massive hacking and a deadly pandemic.  

December 18, 2020

DDT Abandons U.S.: Cyber Espionage, Virus Vaccine

The hacking intrusion into U.S. federal agencies has expanded to the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, added to breaches at the State, Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments along with the National Institutes of Health. Other areas are electrical grid and telecommunications companies. Tracking shows the entry through a think tank’s email service by Russians although Russia denies doing it. The thousands of affected private companies, some in sensitive industries, had uploaded software patches with malware by Russia’s foreign intelligence service, SVR, which collected and deployed authentic system credentials. Purging hacks and restoring security in deeply penetrated networks can take months. The Defense Department’s IT nerve center, DISA, may also be compromised although the network shows “no evidence of compromise.”

President-elect Joe Biden said he is working to learn about the breaches and will work with allies to put costs on the responsible parties.

Microsoft, a customer of the problematic SolarWinds infecting thousands of private and public entities, has identified 40 infiltrated companies, government agencies, and think tanks—almost half of them private technology firms and many in the security industry. President Brad Smith said “that number should rise substantially.” SolarWinds may not be the only source of infection; foreign spies may use other infected software for access.

(Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has remained silent about the hacking, and heads of most agencies connected to the event—Defense, State, Justice, national intelligence director, and CIA—were not present at his Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. No formal intelligence briefing has been scheduled at the White House since early October. The government did not admit the ongoing cyber espionage until Wednesday night. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said it was “stunning” to have no response from DDT. In 2017, DDT had announced a possible joint Cyber Security unit with Russia. Under DDT, Cabinet meetings have focused on his personal bragging, criticisms, and solicitations of praise from participants as a showcase for the press. Since he was inaugurated, DDT has had 25 Cabinet meetings, an average of one every eight weeks. The one on Wednesday may be his last one.

In the conservative Bulwark, Jonathan Last wrote:

“In 45 tweets this week (so far) the president has not said a single word about the record deaths from COVID. Or economic stimulus. Or the Russian hack. Not. One. Word. Instead, it is an endless litany of complaints, self-aggrandizement, and conspiracy theorizing.

“We have never seen a dereliction of duty at this scale from an American president. With citizens dying by the thousands every single day and the federal government being raided by the intelligence services belonging to his good friend, he pouts and rages and tweets and tries to overturn a free and fair election in order to break our democratic republic.

“There is no precedent for this. No historical analog to help us understand the scale of destruction and the level of irresponsibility, stupidity, and derangement.

“At least not in American history.”

Dutch prosecutors claim a security researcher hacked DDT’s Twitter account that uses the “password maga2020!” The White House and Twitter deny the possibility of the October event. DDT has admitted at least one breach of his personal Twitter account. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin may feel secure about attacking the U.S. cyber infrastructure because DDT never fights back against him; DDT even fired the three top officials of the agency to protect the U.S. against cyber espionage.

While DDT ponders a permanent residence in the White House, VP Mike Pence, who has no home outside public housing, plans to skip town for a while after he performs his duty of replacing DDT and himself on January 6. The purported trip includes Poland, Bahrain, and Israel—a favorite spot for evangelicals.

About the COVID-19 vaccine, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that a second vaccine, one from Moderna, has passed a panel almost unanimously with only one abstention. FDA will most likely give it emergency authorization in the next few days. The second vaccine has advantages over the first one because it can be stored at a higher temperature for a longer period of time.

The bad news comes from the lack of vaccine shipments because the government hasn’t given any directions. States have been notified of drastic cuts in numbers of dosages for next week, not from production issues but from lack of shipment instructions. Again, DDT seems unable to negotiate the vaccine doses to be distributed across the nation. For example, Illinois’ allotment is cut in half, and Florida’s shipments are “on hold” after its allocation disappeared in the federal online tracking system used to coordinate vaccine distribution. Washington is receiving 40 percent less than the state had been told. Pfizer cannot understand why the administration doesn’t immediately distribute all the vaccine being produced. The number of doses had already been dropped by at least 75 percent before the latest glitch. Although vials with the vaccine may contain more than the promised five doses, the companion kits shipped by the government lack spare syringes for the excess. 

In another CDC problem, its text message program to track side effects of the vaccine uses only English. The v-safe program to follow up with people given the vaccine will have a Spanish version “fairly shortly,” but CDC has no timeline for a translation or for simplified Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese. Fact sheets for the first set of healthcare workers are still only in English. Non-English speakers are traditionally underserved by the health care system, and the lack of language-appropriate materials makes the situation worse.

Biden had said the government lacked specific distribution plans. HHS Secretary disagreed, saying, “That’s just nonsense.” Biden was correct.

Almost all states plan to immediately use the vaccine, but Tennessee plans to store (hoard?) 5,000 doses of Moderna, 5 percent of its allotment, “in case of spoilage” despite a federal backup supply for that purpose. State health officials maintain they want to be more equitable by waiting for larger number of doses to ensure no one is favored. Tennessee ranks second in the nation for new cases per capita and has no mask mandate.

DDT tweeted, “get your vaccine everyone,” but the quantity of vaccine is currently sufficient for under ten percent of the population. There is also no public information program. People are already being vaccinated, but DDT’s administration is still developing its $250 million campaign to persuade people to take part. HHS’ Michael Caputo plan went off the rails after he investigated if the participating celebrities supported DDT with contractors investigating confirmed or suspected political leanings. Caputo went on medical leave for three months with no replacement.

A PR campaign may be difficult because of DDT’s attitude about the coronavirus. A Houston critical care doctor at the United Memorial Medical Center reported that over half the nurses in his unit refuse to take the vaccine for political reasons.

HHS science adviser Paul Alexander, who has no science expertise, wrote his supervisor Michael Caputo on July 4, “We want them infected.” He wanted to expose all young people and middle-aged adults with no conditions to COVID-19 to develop the mythical “herd immunity.” Alexander repeated his appeal later in July to others, including FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and eight other senior officials. A few days later, Alexander recommended leaving colleges open to infect students and sent his “herd immunity” request to CDC Director Robert Redfield, probably with DDT’s approval.

Senior DDT officials, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and DDT’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany frequently denied DDT supported herd immunity while he spoke positively about it since Dr. Scott Atlas edged Dr. Anthony Fauci off the White House coronavirus task force. Alexander was forced out of the HHS. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the coronavirus subcommittee chair, said the documents “show a pernicious pattern of political interference by Administration officials.” He added:

“As the virus spread through the country, these officials callously wrote, ‘who cares’ and ‘we want them infected. They privately admitted they ‘always knew’ the President’s policies would cause a ‘rise’ in cases, and they plotted to blame the spread of the virus on career scientists.”

Alexander’s July 3 email to HHS top communications officials:

“So the bottom line is if it is more infectiouness [sic] now, the issue is who caresIf it is causing more cases in young, my word is who cares…as long as we make sensible decisions, and protect the elderely [sic] and nursing homes…”

Kyle McGowan, DDT’s former CDC chief of staff who left last summer, talked about how DDT watered down CDC’s agency and delayed the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. He said it will “take years to undo” the damage from DDT’s administration. In addition to Alexander’s demand to get rid of evidence, the anti-science White House suffocated CDC’s voice, meddled in its messages, and siphoned off its budget. Kellyanne Conway changed guidelines on choirs and communion in faith communities, and Ivanka Trump revised guidelines on schools. McGowan said:

“Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won.”

Fox’s Tucker Carlson declared the U.S. had no Thanksgiving surge in COVID-19 cases after people ignored guidelines with travel, large gatherings, no masks, and lack of social distancing. Check out the growing daily numbers, Mr. Carlson: December 17, 2020 – 231,269 infections and 3,278 deaths. At this rate, the current total of 17,627,070 cases will hit 20 million before the end of the year, and the number of deaths of 317,929 (probably far more) will climb to 350,000 by the new year.

Thirty-three more days until Joe Biden’s inauguration.

 

December 16, 2020

Biden Assumes Mantle, Hacking a Problem

Biden is the president-elect. The formal announcement was made when Russian president Vladimir Putin congratulated him. Listening to Putin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told GOP senators of Biden’s election and told them to accept the news. He said objecting to a state’s electoral votes and forcing the Senate to debate would make Republican senators look bad. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) threatened to fight the election results at the January 6 congressional session but needs the support of a senator to carry it farther. A few conservatives such as Josh Hawley (MO), Ron Johnson (WI), and Rand Paul (KY) still haven’t said they won’t object although Johnson did admit the election is legitimate. The GOP senators would have to vote down the overturning of the election, thus voting against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who still appears to be the leader of their party. That vote would also hurt congressional GOP incumbents in the next election.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned on McConnell for his admission that Biden won, saying it’s “too soon to give up.” DDT has repeatedly claimed he won the election because he has 75,000,000 VOTES. Biden has 81,284,000 votes (51.3 percent of the total), and DDT has only 74,221,000 votes (46.9 percent).

Until this week, most Republican congressional members have refused to call Biden the “president-elect,” pretending the term doesn’t exist. These conservatives, who say they worship the U.S. Constitution, have said that the term “president-elect” doesn’t really exist. The 20th Amendment, passed in 1933 uses the term twice.  After the electoral votes, however, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-NC) made this classic statement:

“Well, it seems to me that being elected by the Electoral College is a threshold where a title like that is probably most appropriate and it’s, I suppose you can say official, if there is such a thing as official president-elect, or anything else-elect. And there’s an inauguration that will swear somebody in and that person will be the president of the United States, but whether you call it that or not, you know, there are legal challenges that are ongoing — not very many — probably not a remedy that would change the outcome but, so, I don’t — again I don’t know how politician refers to another politician, but it does look to me like the big race is really between the inaugural committee and the Justice Department at this point, so we’ll see how the emails turn out.”

Known for his even temperament, Biden openly criticized the GOP attack on the democratic election after residents of six states tried to circumvent Monday’s legal voting by certified Electoral College voters, including promising violence and counterfeiting documents. Biden described these attacks “simply unconscionable” and an “abuse of power.” He said:

“In America, politicians don’t take power—the people grant it to them. The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know that nothing, not even a pandemic—or an abuse of power—can extinguish that flame.”

He concluded by calling for unity and healing.

By clearly declaring that official, state and local, from both parties managed, overseen, and confirmed the election, Biden pointed out Republicans would need to have taken part in any widespread conspiracy. He added:

“I hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kind of threats and abuse we saw in this election. We owe these public servants a debt of gratitude . . . our democracy survived because of them.”

About Texas AG Ken Paxton’s lawsuit to the Supreme Court supported by attorneys general from 18 states and 126 GOP House members, Biden said:

“It’s a position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before. A position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused to respect the rule of law, and refused to honor our Constitution.”

Through the speech, Biden took his place as the legally indisputable winner of the 2020 election. As such he has the opportunity to repair the loopholes allowing DDT to create permanent chaos.

In the meantime, Biden continues to make appointments:

Secretary of Energy Department: Jennifer Granholm, former Michigan governor, who has worked with the auto industry. The agency can lead the U.S. away from dependence on fossil fuels, opposite from DDT’s first Energy secretary who received donations for pushing natural gas exports and coal as a power source. The budget operates 17 national labs for technology development in renewables, nuclear energy, and fossil fuel production.

Secretary of Transportation: Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend (IN) mayor and presidential candidate, who would be the first openly-gay Cabinet member. Although this department is not as visible as some others, it is vital for infrastructure, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, technology, and labor. Building highways was a key to Dwight Eisenhower’s legacy, and his legacy is now crumbling because it’s had no care. The department budget funds highways, transit systems, and the air traffic control system as well as overseeing the safety of civilian aircraft and regulating a trucking industry. The virus has damaged the transportation networks with greatly reduced revenue and employee layoffs.

Potential appointments:

Domestic “climate czar” coordinating policies across federal agencies: Gina McCarthy, director of the EPA.

Environmental Protection Agency: Michael Regan, top North Carolina environmental regulator, considered after civil rights groups objected to Mary Nichols, leader of the California Air Resources Board.

Without a Senate, Biden will have tremendous trouble passing legislature to help the economy, but Mother Jones has ideas on how he can help the economy without congressional support.

The Federal Reserve: The $2.2 trillion CARES Act authorized the Federal Reserve to help stabilize the finances of state and local governments hit by the pandemic by buying up their debt and gave the Treasury Department $454 billion to back the lending.  Current Secretary Steve Mnuchin has tried to block Biden from using the money, but Biden and the Fed could restart the lending program.

Student Debt: Forgiving $10,000 of federally backed student loans for all borrowers and canceling all undergraduate debt for anyone who attended public colleges or historically Black colleges and universities could juice the economy.

Protection of Workers from COVID-19: Failing to protect workers hurts the economy; OSHA can issue mandatory standards, something DDT refuses to do.

Eviction Moratorium: Extending the time would allow renters to find more stable footing while the labor market recovers.

Consumer Protection: Biden could reverse the changes in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that allowed corporations to destroy anyone who borrowed money, especially during the economic crisis.  

Updates keep coming. Yesterday I wrote about National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien on a junket around Europe, the Mediterranean, etc. on a holiday with his wife just five weeks before he will likely be deposed. Embarrassment may have forced him back home within two days, especially because the hacking federal agencies appears to be much worse than the public knew. And perhaps his use of taxpayer money may not have looked good for a man who wants to run for president in 2024.

More information has emerged about hacking into federal agencies, targeting a huge number of U.S. government emails. By persuading over 18,000 private and government users to download malicious code into their Orion software, made by SolarWinds, hackers monitored internal emails at several top federal agencies. Solarwinds monitors for hundreds of thousands of computer business and government networks for outages; its password is solarwinds123. Seriously.

As local, state, and federal entities have been attacked throughout the U.S. by ransomware, DDT has not considered cybersecurity an important issue and blocked the government if Russia was a possible danger. The private company Microsoft said it “delivered more than 13,000 notifications to customers attacked by nation-states over the past two years and observed a rapid increase in [their] sophistication and operational security capabilities.” The company will block and isolate the Orion app.

Chris Krebs, fired from his leadership of DHS’ cybersecurity agency because he stated the U.S. election had no widespread fraud, testifies on Wednesday before a Senate committee as Ron Johnson (R-WI) continues his fruitless search for that fraud. In a piece for CNN, Krebs reiterated his position that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election “to disparage Hillary Clinton to the advantage of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.” He wrote his agency “prioritized election security” because “our democratic institutions are facing targeted, calculated threats from without, and from within.” He concluded:

“As foreign and domestic interests attack our democracy for political and financial gain, attempting to infiltrate American public opinion and confidence in our most sacred institutions, our elected representatives must now show true leadership in defending the people by defending the truth.”

The use of SolarWinds highlights the lack of mandatory minimum security rules for commercial software used on federal computer networks.

December 15 daily U.S. COVID-19 statistics: new cases, 200,035; deaths, 2,986.

December 14, 2020

Followups for Earlier Stories

Yesterday AG Bill Barr said he might leave the job; now he’s gone by December 23. He supposedly resigned after what DDT called “a very nice meeting,” but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has considered firing him since Barr wouldn’t file lawsuits to put DDT back into the Oval Office, declared no widespread election fraud, and didn’t announce the investigation into President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter before the election. The effusive resignation letter has the earmarks of DDT’s writing. DDT tweeted Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, “an outstanding person,” becomes acting AG for the last 28 days of his term. 

A recent Barr effort to act as DDT’s personal lawyer instead of leading an independent agency was trying to drop the case against Michael Flynn who pled guilty to lying twice to the FBI. DDT pardoned Flynn, requiring a federal judge to dismiss Flynn’s prosecution. The judge said he would not have dropped the case and was bothered by the government’s “dubious” rationales and aspects of its “ever-evolving justifications” ignoring applicable law. He called DDT’s pardon “a political decision, not a legal one.”

DDT fired three of four top officials in the agency to block cybersecurity, and Russians hacked another three agencies. The Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the National Institutes of Health on Monday have joined the Treasury and Commerce departments attacked by Russian cyber espionage.

DDT hasn’t fired VA Secretary Robert Wilkie although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and leading veterans’ groups call for his resignation because he tried to smear a congressional aide assaulted at a VA hospital. Pelosi stated:

“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran. He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”

American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford also called for acting deputy secretary Pamela Powers and top public affairs officials James Hutton and Curt Cashour to step down after the IG reported the three of them knew about Wilkie’s discrediting the veteran. Even the Koch’s Concerned Veterans of America criticized the four leaders of the VA. In the past, Wilkie tried to keep Nazi swastikas at federal veterans’ cemeteries and defended the use of Confederate symbols. The DOJ has taken no action against Wilkie.

The official Electoral College votes declared Joe Biden president-elect Monday, but unofficial electors met in swing states with Biden majorities—Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin—to vote for DDT if federal courts invalidate Biden’s electoral votes. Election-law expert Rick Hasen wrote:

“These electors have neither been certified by state executives nor purportedly appointed by state legislators. They don’t have legal authority and so this does not affect the counting of Electoral College votes.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) warned his GOP colleagues not to challenge the electoral vote results at the January 6 congressional meeting to formally approve Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as U.S. president and vice president. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), who did not run for re-election in 2020, announced his departure from the GOP to protest the Republicans support DDT’s attempts to overturn his loss because of its “third-world nation” approach. Michigan state House GOP leaders stripped GOP state Rep. Gary Eisen from his committee assignments until December 31 after he threatened violence to challenge the electoral college process. Threats required Michigan electors to complete their business in a closed Capitol building.  

Arizona Republicans created fake documents to claim the state’s 11 votes for DDT, notarized them, and then sent them to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Called “AZ Protect the Vote,” the group stated the documents were from the “sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona.” Three of the state’s four U.S. representatives were part of the 126 seditious House members who supported the overturn of Biden’s election in the Supreme Court.

By a 4-3 vote, Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected DDT’s lawsuit to invalidate about 220,000 ballots in the Democratic Milwaukee and Dane counties. In the court’s fourth rejection of the case within ten days, a “conservative swing” judge joined three progressive judges for the majority in each case.

When the media announced DDT planned to provide White House staff with the new vaccine—maybe because no one there wears a mask or practices social distancing—he backed off, possibly from embarrassment about taking the vaccine from high-risk healthcare workers. His new order left the door open for his staff to receive the vaccine by saying they would receive it if “specifically necessary.” DDT is holding at least 20 Christmas parties.

Crede Bailey, director of the White House security office, was hospitalized with COVID-19 for three months. His right foot and lower leg were amputated as well as the big toe on his left foot. A GoFundMe appeal has raised almost $50,000 to help cover his “staggering medical bills” from hospitalization, upcoming rehab, and necessary home remodeling for his disability.

DDT still threatens to veto the national Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) but has taken no action. With no explanation, he sent this tweet on Sunday on his way to play golf:

“THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA! I WILL VETO!”

The handful of GOP senators voting against the NDAA highlights are those aspiring to be president in 2024 if DDT ever moves out of the way: Sens. Josh Hawley (MO), Tom Cotton (AR), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rand Paul (KY). Issues addressed in the NCAA include the law protecting internet companies which was not overturned and removing Confederate names from military bases which is part of the NCAA. Republicans need to appeal to white supremacists for votes even without DDT. Paul and Cruz also opposed the provision restricting DDT’s ability to pull troops from any area without congressional approval.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis originally said he knew nothing about the raid on the home of Rebekah Jones, criticized for flimsy evidence about the accusation of her hacking into a state computer network. Last Friday during a mental health meeting, DeSantis had a tantrum and said he knew about the raid, again indicating it was retribution for her website with accurate data about COVID-19. DeSantis tries to hide the huge numbers of infections and deaths to open up his state and consistently conceals data about the virus spreading in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals and public schools. He pushes the theory about most infected patients being younger, healthier, and asymptomatic while ignoring statistics on the large number of patients in hospital beds and ICUs.

Two Florida newspapers are suing DeSantis for withholding weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports which urge the state to impose stricter coronavirus restrictions because of the surge in infections. Some states publish the weekly reports online. DeSantis claimed vaccines will end the problem, but the report stated the general public won’t have vaccinations until “late spring.” The vaccine requires two doses, but DeSantis suggested one per person might be enough. 

In the last 36 days before Biden’s inauguration, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is using taxpayer money to take his wife on a European “vacation,” heading to Paris as head of a U.S. delegation to the 60th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention. The trip includes a private tour of the closed Louvre from coronavirus restrictions before going to the Mediterranean and European capitals. The couple will be guided by government employees living there. Because of the virus, people in the U.S. can’t typically travel to any European countries, and residents in Paris must stay home except for grocery shopping and work. Most of the meeting’s participants are attending virtually.

A few Republican pundits are apologizing for not realizing the danger of DDT and his followers. Kathleen Parker, a Florida columnist, gave a mea culpa for claiming after the 2016 election “that we’d survive as a nation no matter who won.” She reversed her opinion by writing that the pandemic shows that “we now know that he is that bad a human being and that lousy a leader. We’ve come not to expect just worse from him but the worst.” Parker adds:

“Trump’s call to overthrow the 2020 election … has exposed the underbelly of the GOP. There’s nothing some Republicans won’t do to hold on to power, even at the expense of the country’s dwindling chances to unite in common cause… Worst of all, people whose minds have been warped by lies, conspiracy theories and disinformation would rather risk death and/or harm to others and themselves than wear a mask for a few more weeks. For Pete’s sake, people: What is wrong with you?”

She concludes: “I apologize.”

The Orlando Sentinel writes “we had no idea” when it endorsed Rep. Michael Waltz, one of the 126 seditious House members trying to overturn a legal vote for president. The newspaper pointed out it didn’t think about asking whether Waltz would support the disenfranchisement “of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump.” The piece concluded, “The only thing I know for sure is that he doesn’t deserve to represent the United States.”

More Republicans need to grasp this concept.

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