Nel's New Day

September 27, 2022

News on September 27, 2022, Hearing Canceled Etc.

The House January 6 investigative committee has postponed its September 28, 2022, hearing because of Hurricane Ian, expected to go through Florida the next two days. The upcoming hearing was expected to focus on a declaration of victory for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) despite his loss in the 2020 presidential election. Danish filmmakers filmed DDT’s friend Roger Stone during the months prior to the election showing his prediction of violent clashes with left-wing activists because DDT would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power. In one video clip, Stone says:

“F–k the voting, let’s get right to the violence. Shoot to kill. See an Antifa? Shoot to kill. F–k ’em. Done with this bulls–t.”

The committee also has details about Stone’s contacts after obtaining records of Kristin Davis, aka the Manhattan Madam, who was with Stone at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC on the day before and the day of the Capitol attack. Stone also called Enrique Tarrio, head of the Proud boys, before and after the January 6 and contacted the former Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes nine days after the attack. Both are charged with seditious conspiracy.

Other Stone contacts are with prominent Republicans who tried to overturn the 2020 election such as Texas AG Ken Paxton and Donald Trump Jr’s aide Arthur Schwartz. During the 2016 election, Stone was middle-man between Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and DDT’s campaign. In his book The Breach, Denver Riggleman, former staff member of the investigative committee, describes how DDT’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was the center of the efforts to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win through his thousands of texts.

According to recent revelations, Secret Service leadership turned over cell phones from 24 agents to DHS Inspector General, DDT-appointed Joseph Cuffari, in July. The House committee had requested texts from the phones almost a month ago. Cuffari knew in December 2021 that the phones had been wiped, but he waited to inform Congress and the National Archives required to retain the records. His own staff called on President Joe Biden to fire Cuffari, and political scientist Norman Ornstein describes Cuffari’s actions a “coverup of treason.”

Paxton, who initiated the persecution of families with trans youth, ran away in a truck to avoid being served with a subpoena for a federal court hearing scheduled for Tuesday. The lawsuit is from nonprofits trying to help state residents pay for out-of-state abortions because of Texas’ vigilante law against the procedure. Paxton claimed he left the premises because he was concerned for his safety although the process server identified himself and held up the subpoena. For the past seven years, the attorney general has been under indictment for securities fraud and faces a lawsuit from former top deputies accusing him of abuse of office. In his reelection primary, Paxton received under 43 percent of the vote as high-profile Republicans tried to unseat him, but he defeated George P. Bush, Jeb Bush’s son, in the runoff. Texas’ voter suppression laws will likely put Paxton into power while he awaits a trial on his indictment.   

DDT’s special master, Raymond Dearie, has postponed the deadline for another week to complete digitizing the 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago because no vendor will work for him. The government may need to hire a vendor. DDT’s $3 million new lawyer, Chris Kise, has also disappeared from the investigation into the 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago; he may be moved into DDT’s business legal problems.

Two new books about DDT reported House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called DDT “crazy” and considered a vote to convict DDT in the January 2021 impeachment trial. Now McConnell has endorsed the bipartisan electoral count reform bill to keep future presidents from trying to overturn presidential elections through Congress. The bill would reaffirm that the vice president has only a ceremonial role for the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes and increase the number of congressional members to object to a state’s electors. The Senate bill already has support from 11 GOP senators, more than enough to overcome a filibuster if all Democrats vote for cloture.

McConnell prefers his bill to the House bill passed by 229-203 with support from nine Republicans who will not be returning in 2023. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was one of the sponsors, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the bill unconstitutional. The House bill requires at least one-third of the members of both the House and the Senate to object to a state’s electors instead of the current one member from each chamber. McConnell’s preference is for one-fifth of the members from both chamber in the Senate bill.

The electoral bill has been struck from the continuing resolution bill trying to avoid a government shutdown this weekend. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-V) will not support Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) bill because part of the pipeline runs through his state and seizes property from private owners. Kaine said he wasn’t consulted on the language of the bill or given a chance to share his constituents’ “deep concerns” over the project. The bill also changes the legal battle from the 4th Circuit to the D.C. Circuit. Kaine said litigants should appeal instead of changing “federal law to achieve their goal” if they object to the 4th Circuit ruling. If Congress doesn’t soon pass some sort of budget agreement, the government will shut down on October 1.

In a frantic search for the way out of his problems, DDT moved from Hillary Clinton’s missing emails to the “lost” millions of emails in George W. Bush’s White House. In 2008, Democrats claimed the missing emails left an “enormous gap in the historical record“ during a critical period. Newsweek reported in 2016:

“This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction, and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.”

DDT may have given up on Clinton’s “scandal”: the article states in the first sentence that no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Clinton exists. After his recent—and repeated—claims about Clinton, DDT lied about Barack Obama taking classified secrets and clashing with the National Archives. DDT still can’t find a parallel for his taking classified materials, leaving them lying around in a fancy country club, refusing to return them, and being investigating for obstructing the retrieval process. He’s working on the “what about …” and “everybody does it” defense.  

The party of “law and order” and its leader are still savagely attacking the FBI, the lead agency for enforcing both domestic and foreign crimes. After its investigation into DDT’s alleged crimes, DDT called them “corrupt,” “mobsters,” “vicious monsters,” and “a real threat to democracy” while accusing them of “atrocities.” His allies fell in line, claiming they are politicized, pushing conspiracy theories and calling on the FBI to be defunded—sort of like “defund the police.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Fox network viewers that a possible “cabal” within the FBI politicized the agency’s work.

Next year if they gain power, the GOP plans extensive investigations, possibly a select committee, to probe the recovery of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago as well as curbing FBI funding and surveillance permissions. With no visible evidence, the GOP “Commitment to America” claims “more than 14 whistleblowers” have “come forward to publicly raise concerns about the FBI’s politicization,” based on an assertion from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The people of the U.S. should be treated like little children, says Arizona’s supposedly Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema as she praised McConnell and declared she shares GOP values. According to her reasoning, the filibuster needs to be restored to its former glory because parents shouldn’t give children everything they want. MSNBC Chris Hayes described her comparison:

“Sinema and others like her are the Grown Ups. And We The People are spoiled children constantly asking for things.”

Sinema falsely claims the filibuster was “what our forefathers intended.” The first use of the Senate filibuster,however, was in 1837 to keep President Andrew Jackson from a resolution of censure, and it didn’t become popular until the mid-20th century when Southern Democrats used it to fight the Civil Rights Act. Until 1970, a senator could filibuster only by standing on the chamber floor and non-stop talking, but now it requires only a senator effortlessly submitting an intent to filibuster in writing.

MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out:

“The number 60 never appears in the Constitution, but it seems to live in Kyrsten Sinema’s imagined version of the Constitution. If a simple majority vote is a dangerous and fickle threshold for governing in a democracy, then why should only five members of the United States Supreme Court get to decide the final interpretation of the law of the land? Why doesn’t Senator Sinema advocate a minimum of a 6-vote threshold in the Supreme Court instead of a mere majority and why is the United States of America the only country that has a 60 percent threshold to win a vote in a national legislative body?”

More news tomorrow.

June 25, 2022

The Blame Game Continues in Uvalde

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Texas Tribune collected other revelations about the shooting: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 6, 2022

GOP Definition of ‘Freedom’ Equals Mass Fear

Twelve days ago, 19 children and two teachers died in a Uvalde (TX) classroom while school district police chief Pete Arredondo, with no training in hostage situations, blocked 140 law enforcement officers representing 14 different agencies, including Border Patrol agents, from going into the classroom for 78 minutes. Also blocked was the Uvalde police force, who has active training in these situations and cost the town of 13,000 at least 40 percent of its budget. Motives for the 18-year-old’s shooter include lies by GOP Nevada state treasurer candidate and present Las Vegas city Council member Michelle Fiore who repeated false rumors that the cause was the drugs taken by the shooter because he was “transgendering,” which made his mind “defective.” Earlier Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) lied that the shooter was a transgender. “It’s a transsexual leftist illegal alien. It’s apparently your kind of trash,” he tweeted to a question about the shooter being the type of “trash” who supported Gosar and other of his similar ideological allies such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

A few days after the shooting, all law enforcement and state officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott stopped proving any information or holding press conferences, but AG Ken Paxton has initiated an investigation—into Twitter for possibly deceiving Texans with fake bot accounts. Conservative multi-billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Texas-based Tesla, threatens to withdraw his offer to purchase Twitter if the social media platform has over the estimated 5 percent bots it claims. Paxton said he had “a duty to protect Texans.”

Arizona GOP legislators are praising the law enforcement mistakes made in the Uvalde massacre. State Sen. Kelly Townsend explained how school shootings can’t be stopped and compared them to abortions, but she wants vigilantes to guard ballot drop boxes in upcoming elections. Her senator colleague Rick Gray, GOP majority leader, said school shootings are because “for decades, we’ve been teaching our children in school that there is no God.” Yet some state Republican lawmakers want teacher licenses pulled if they don’t carry guns in the classroom and teach lessons on religion. Any call for action from Democrats have been ignored. The GOP ignores needs for a stable water supply, mitigation of wildfires, and affordable housing.  

Ohio got on the GOP teacher-with-guns movement. A new law allows teachers to have firearms in their classrooms after completing 24 hours of training. Gov. Mike DeWine said he had “worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety.” The bill was opposed by major law enforcement groups, gun control advocates, and the state’s teachers’ unions. Ohio teachers can lose their licenses, however, if they talk to students about issues of race and ethnicity.

In New York state, where an 18-year-old killed ten people in a Buffalo grocery store ten days before the Uvalde massacre, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new laws to bolster existing ones and loopholes. New laws

  • Microstamping of bullets and new semiautomatic pistols to help law enforcement solve gun-related crimes.
  • Elimination of grandfathering high-capacity feeding devices.
  • Expansion of the “red flag” law taking guns from people who could be a threat to themselves or others to allow the involvement of more people, including healthcare professionals. It also requirements, not permits, law enforcement to seek an order with credible information.
  • Requirement of a license for purchasing semiautomatic rifles, former mandated only for handguns.
  • Age limit of 21 or higher to purchase semiautomatic rifles.
  • Expansion of a “firearm” definition to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive including modified firearms to be shot from an arm brace.
  • Restriction of bullet-resistant vests and armor to people in certain professions.
  • Criminalizing mass harms threats. 
  • Enhanced law enforcement reporting by law enforcement to state and federal gun databases—seized  or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse, participation in the ATF’s collective data sharing program, and the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun entered into the national crime information center.
  • Gun dealers required to enact uniform security and reporting standards and employee training on conducting firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases with State Police inspections every three years.
  • Prohibition of those under 18 who are not accompanied by a parent from entering certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises.
  • Mandate for social media platforms to improve policies in responding to hateful conduct and “maintain easily accessible mechanisms” for public reporting.

Hochul said that the law was passed “in the name of the lives that have been lost, for the parents who will no longer see their children stepping off the school bus.” If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the New York concealed carry law, lawmakers will return to pass a new law to limit those who may be allowed these permits. Because of the state’s tough laws, most violent crimes use handguns, not AR-15 style rifles, from out of state.  

Almost half the Republicans, 44 percent, love their huge caches of guns so much that they prefer dead children to giving up their “freedom.” They say that the violent U.S. just has to live with mass shootings. Of all the people in the nation, however, 62 percent want a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles, used in two thirds of the mass shootings during the past three years. Support for “red flag” laws to stop gun purchases by people considered a danger to themselves or others are at 72 percent. In a new poll, 77 percent want the minimum age for buying an assault to be over 18—32 percent at 21 and 45 percent at 25. Support for federal background checks on all gun purchases is at 81 percent. All these percentages are over 60 percent, the number required to pass the Senate, but that 60 percent represents only 43.3 percent of the population—and most of them Republicans.

This 44 percent of Republicans stall with “thoughts and prayers,” using fake excuses such as mental illness and security issues for blame instead of the 400 million guns in the United States. Even without the new gun safety laws, New York’s death rate is 5.3 per 100,000 people, half the U.S. average and 18.5 percent of the 28.6 death rate per 100,000 people in Mississippi which has a 50-percent gun ownership. Red states have the highest rate of gun deaths and gun ownership; blue states have the lowest.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) complained about “elite” gun control advocates in government and media who have “great bulwarks of safety, from gated communities equipped with private security or, at the very least, from safe and expensive neighborhoods protected by high home prices and low crime rates.” In 19 months, Cruz has spent about one-half million dollars to a protection firm; as a Harvard graduate, Cruz belongs to the “elite.” His expenditure on “security” is slightly more than the gun lobby gave him.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who refused to traumatize children by requiring them to wear masks protecting them from COVID, wants to bring back veterans with guns to fill classrooms.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is all for “stopping things before they happen” but not if it means gun safety regulations. No limiting access to deadly weapons, no “red flag” laws,” no keeping guns from “a 19-year-old.”  He claims these ideas are “unconstitutional” although the courts haven’t made that decision. His complaint about removing weapons through “red flag” laws takes away due process, but the procedure uses judicial reviews and court orders. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is the only recent prominent U.S. politician who wanted to violate due process in connection to guns. After an expelled student killed 17 people and wounded another 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL), DDT said, “Take the firearms first and then go to court.”

In 11 mass shootings this past weekend, at least 17 people died and over 60 were wounded in eight states from Pennsylvania where multiple shooters shot into a crowd enjoying Philadelphia nightlife to Chattanooga (TN) where another 3 people were killed and 14 injured near a nightclub. It was the second mass shooting there in a week. A drive-by shooting hit at least eight people at a graduation party with a 32-year-old woman killed and the others wounded, six or seven age 17 or younger. In Arizona, a 14-year-old girl died, and eight other people were hospitalized. Nearby Mesa (AZ) saw two more people dead and two others injured outside a bar. Texas, Georgia, New York, and Michigan had more mass shootings this week, resulting in a total of at least 246 throughout the U.S. since January 1, 2022—157 days. A mass shooting is defined as “one that injures or kills four or more people.”

The definition of freedom to 44 percent of Republicans is forcing fear on everyone as they walk on the streets, shop, send their children to school, go to a hospital or doctor’s office, honor their religious faith, attend festivals, have a night out on the town, even stay home. The only safe place where Republicans ban guns is at an NRA convention.

March 13, 2022

Democrats Gaining Ground with Keeping Government Open, Other Hopeful Signs

The government won’t be shutting down this weekend since Congress passed the $1.5 trillion government funding that includes $13.6 billion aid for Ukraine. Thirty-one GOP Senators opposed the House bill that President Joe Biden signed soon after the vote, but Republican leaders, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted for it. Failing amendments in the Senate would have defunded vaccine mandates for medical workers, military personnel, and federal employees and contractors (Mike Lee, Utah); stripped earmarks (Mike Braun, Indiana); and provided $2.5 billion in disaster relief for Louisiana (John Kennedy, Louisiana). Rand Paul’s (KY) stand-alone resolution blocking arms to Egypt also failed.

The bill includes the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), first passed in 1994 which lapsed four years ago because of partisan issues. It provides resources to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence, and the new law expands resources for victims in marginalized and rural communities plus prevention programs on college campuses.  Republicans again refused an expansion of gun laws prohibiting abusers from possessing firearms.’

In another successful bill, the Postal Service Reform Act, passing the House by 342-92, moved through the Senate at 79-19. It drops the existing mandate forcing the agency to cover health care costs for decades in advance by requiring retired employees to enroll in Medicare when eligible, saving $5 billion a year. The USPS is also required to create an online dashboard with local and national delivery time data. Among the oldest government institutions in the U.S., the postal service has almost none of the financial benefits others receive, relying on revenue from stamps and package deliveries while required to maintain unprofitable routes. One of them is delivery by mule to a remote Grand Canyon community. The USPS will continue six-day delivery.

After over 200 attempts in 122 years to pass an anti-lynching bill, Congress sent one to President Biden for signing. Only GOP Reps. Andrew Clyde (GA), Thomas Massie (KY), and Chip Roy (TX) voted to support lynchings; the Senate passed it in a unanimous voice vote after GOP Rand Paul (KY) lifted his objection. The bill is named for 14-year-old Emmett Till whose 1955 brutal torture and murder in Mississippi, based on a woman’s now-recanted lie, sparked the civil rights movement.

DDT lost his appeal to the Supreme Court blocking access to congressional investigators for White House records as part of the House probe into the January 6, 2021, insurrection. He can no longer prevent the committee from his schedules, call logs, emails, and other requested documents.

The DOJ has thus far uncovered over $8 billion in federal aid fraud connected to the COVID pandemic, bringing over charges against over 1,000 defendants for relief losses over $1.1 billion and 240 civil investigations into over 1,800 individuals and entities for over $6 billion. The biggest problem were the SBA-led activities, Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, supplying forgivable funding to supposedly smaller firms. A year ago, a 55-year-old man in Coppell (TX) was sentenced for seeking $24.8 million in PPP loans for businesses with no employees, providing falsified tax documents and bank statements. The man used his illegal gains to “buy a fleet of luxury cars,” including a Bentley convertible, a Corvette Stingray, and a Porsche Macan.

The extensive fraud found by the DOJ touched almost every major part of the $6 trillion adopted by the Congress throughout a two-year period intended to support families, workers, and small businesses. Suspects fabricated non-existent companies, stole, workers’ identities, and lied about possible cures. Tens of billions of dollars are still under investigation led by the agency’s new director for COVID fraud enforcement. The SBA’s own inspector general during the distribution warned about as much as $80 billion in fraud affecting just its own programs.  

Texas AG Ken Paxton, facing a run-off against George P. Bush in the general election, is being investigated for more alleged misconduct. A Texas State Bar complaint accuses Paxton of professional misconduct in his suing to overturn the 2020 presidential election in states with no evidence of voter fraud. Part of his attempts was asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate election results from the Electoral College vote. Paxton has under three weeks to decide on either a jury trial or evidentiary hearing after a probe by the state bar. He has already been indicted on felony securities fraud charges as well as found violating the state’s open records law and accused with multiple criminal allegations by his own team.

The EPA has restored California’s rights to set its own clean car standards after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) removed them while he was in the White House. Other states may also use these standards instead of the federal ones. At least 13 states and the District of Columbia—36 percent of the U.S. auto market—signed on to California’s stricter emission standards.  

Colorado County clerk Tina Peters and her deputy have been indicted by a grand jury on counts related to an election security breach supporting by DDT’s lie that he won the 2020 presidential election. Peters faces ten charges include attempting to influence a public servant, conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation, identity theft, and criminal impersonation, and the jury indicted her deputy, Belinda Knisley, on six counts. They allegedly helped an unauthorized person make copies of voting-machine hard drives that was shared, along with passwords, with election conspiracy theorists online and at a QAnon conference presented by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Peters is running for Colorado secretary of state to control elections.

Two other MAGA-supporting Colorado elections officials, Douglas County Clerk/Recorder Merlin Klotz and Elbert County Clerk Dallas Schroeder, are also under investigation for deliberate security breaches. Klotz is also connected to Lindell. Last November, the FBI searched the homes of both Peters and Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-CO) former campaign manager, among others. In the past, Peters’ office was found not counting 574 ballots and allowing ballots to blowing across a parking lot from a defective ballot box. Almost 20 of her 32-person staff left before those problem, and four went afterwards. A recall petition during the pandemic failed to garner enough signatures. After Peters’ participation in the QAnon conference, she disappeared into Lindell’s safe house.

Some good news from earlier this year:

A judge canceled 1.7 million acres of a drilling lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history. He ruled that the Biden administration relied on a seriously flawed analysis that miscalculated greenhouse gas emissions from future oil and gas drilling in the gulf. Originally, Biden suspended all new oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters, but a Louisiana judge overturned his moratorium.

States can investigate the fundraising tactics of WinRed, the GOP digital donation platform that uses prechecked boxes for automatic donation withdrawal. To protect consumers, attorneys general from Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, and New York have subpoenaed WinRed for documents. WinRed argued that the four Democratic AGs were acting out of political bias, but they sent the same request to ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing platform. In Fall 2020, DDT’s campaign hid prechecked boxes for extra donations every week under text unrelated to the additional withdrawals. Supporters said they were duped to unwittingly contribute.

Biden’s administration canceled two leases for a copper and nickel mine near the Minnesota wilderness to reverse those improperly renewed by DDT. The decision protects hundreds of lakes, streams, and wetlands in the 1.1-million-acre area on the Canadian border for toxic leaching.

A White House executive order makes military sexual harassment a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The order also strengthens the military’s response to domestic violence incidents and increases penalties for service members who share “intimate visual images” without permission. Earlier, lawmakers changed the way military sexual misconduct crimes are prosecuted.

Student loan company Navient, known for misleading borrowers about cheaper payment plans, settled with 39 state AGs for $1.85 billion and paid 350,000 federal loan borrowers about $260 each. The company will also cancel $1.7 billion worth of private student loans to students at for-profit colleges. 

A U.S. judge ordered Martin Shkreli to return $64.6 million in profits from inordinately increasing the cost of the drug Daraprim and banned him from the pharmaceutical industry for life. Shkreli must also remain in prison for his seven-year sentence on securities fraud charges in hedge funds before he moved to the pharmaceutical industry. After obtaining exclusive rights to the decades-old drug for a rare parasitic disease striking pregnant women and cancer and HIV patients, he raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill, claiming capitalism and saying insurance would pay the cost.

My favorite news from today: all 133 school superintendents in Virginia have rejected the order from new GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin to censor the school curriculum. They sent a letter to the commonwealth’s superintendent of schools Jillian Balow requesting the shutdown of the website for parents’ complaints about teachers and principals about “divisive” content in schools and asked Youngkin to stop his crusade. The letter called the administration report eliminating policies referencing race and gender equality misguided and prepared with no input from school districts. The superintendents blame Balow for condemning and discontinuing racial equity programs with no evidence to support that position. Protests to Virginia’s actions have come in from across the nation, including singer John Legend’s tweet to 13.8 million followers stating, “Black parents need to flood these tip lines with complaints about our history being silenced. We are parents too.”

July 2, 2021

Texas Continues To Be Disaster

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:49 PM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Texas keeps getting publicity, the most recent an event cancellation at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Right-wingers, supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and two GOP state lawmakers censored an appearance by Chris Tomlinson about his book Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth. The book explores the Battle of the Alamo as a fight to maintain slavery, legalized in the original Texas constitution. Conservatives maintain 180 rebels defended Texas from Mexico in an heroic battle. Texas legislators recently passed “The 1836 Project,” advocating for the “patriotic education” of Texas history.

Abbott has asked other states to deploy their National Guards—including from Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota—to block immigrants from coming across the Southern border. Three of the governors consider runs in the 2024 presidential election: Abbott, Ron DeSantis (FL), and Kristie Noem (SD). Noem has a twist to deploying her state’s National Guard: she obtained a sizeable donation from Willis Johnson, a Tennessee-based billionaire whose company auctions used cars, to pay for her state’s deployment, turning them into mercenaries.

Rep. Adam Smith, Armed Services Committee chair, wants Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to look Noem’s actions, objecting to the Guard being treated like a “private militia.” Smith said:  

“This is unbelievably dangerous to think that rich people can start using the U.S. military to advance their objectives, independent of what the commander in chief and the secretary of defense think they ought to be doing.”

Nobody knows if Noem’s actions are legal, including current legislators in South Dakota and a former state AG. Geoffrey Corn, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said he’s never heard of private funding for U.S. military activity.

Abbott promised to finish the wall started by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), starting with slashing prison funds. Crossings are slightly up after DDT’s punitive protocols forced immigrants to wait in Mexico. The influx of asylum-seeking children increased from the COVID border closure backlog. This past week DDT and Abbott addressed an audience to foment hate about President Joe Biden.

The disaster declaration of emergency fund transfers has been questioned because immigration issues are under the federal government’s jurisdiction. The $250 million raised thus far through these transfers and crowd-funding may build at least five miles of wall. Abbott also wants to put $15 billion of federal COVID funding into his wall project.

Abbott would better spend state’s money on the state’s failed power grid. During the cold wave last winter, three million people had no heat or electricity, and hundreds of people, possibly a thousand, died from the loss. Abbott claimed the highly unusual situation would never happen again. Four months later, the heat wave arrived with power outages. To avoid publicity about this problem, Abbott defunded the legislature and any agencies connected to it by vetoing part of the budget because state Democratic House legislators walked out on the last day to block the anti-voting bills. One of the bill’s provisions would allow Texas judges to void people’s votes if someone accused the election of being fraudulent.

Abbott now faces a lawsuit from Texas House Democrats, legislative staffers, and the Texas AFL-CIO to override the budget veto. The Democratic petition reads:

“Gov. Abbott’s veto is an attempt to coerce, and thereby direct, how the Legislature discharges its functions—far exceeding the usual mechanism of the veto as a check on legislative excess. If accepted, it would allow the governor to indirectly commandeer the Legislature by making its very existence contingent on its willingness to enact the governor’s preferred agenda. And it would set the precedent for the governor to do the same to the judiciary.”

The budget veto included the Legislative Reference Library and the Legislative Budget Board, and Abbott also killed bail legislature he claimed was a priority. If Democrats return for a special session, they face not only the anti-voting bill but also redrawing the legislative district maps and dealing with the money Abbott wants to move into his wall.  

To protect the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the operating agency for the state’s faulty electricity grid, the state’s AG Ken Paxton, under indictment for securities fraud charges, ruled ERCOT is not subject to the Public Information Act. Therefore it won’t release documentation associated with last February’s disastrous grid failure. No texts, no emails, no recorded phone calls. Nothing. After Paxton released his ruling, an ERCOT spokesperson promised the agency would continue its “robust and transparent process.”

With no evidence of widespread election fraud, Texas is naming its anti-voting bill the Election Integrity Protection Act. After the state Senate passed the bill on Sunday morning of Memorial Day weekend, it went to the House. The state with the most restrictive voting laws would add these restrictions:

  • Ban drive-thru voting.
  • Prohibit ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting centers.
  • Mandate all weekday early voting take place sometime between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Bar polling places from being open 24 hours a day.
  • Ban voting on Sundays before 1:00 p.m.
  • Make it illegal for elections officials to send applications to vote by mail to people who did not request one.
  • Bar counties from helping facilitate the distribution of unsolicited ballot requests.
  • Add an additional identification requirement for those legally eligible to vote by mail—the driver’s license number or Social Security number on both the request for a ballot and the return envelope containing their ballot.
  • Bar counties from helping facilitate the distribution of unsolicited ballot requests.
  • Require voters with disabilities by declaring they are “not capable of” voting in person without needing assistance or injuring their health.
  • Mandate people helping voters with disabilities cast a ballot by removing their ability to answer questions.
  • Require people driving voters with disabilities
  • Allow poll watchers to observe “any activity” related to curbside voting for disabled people, even permitting the poll watcher to enter the car where the disabled person is riding.
  • Allow poll watchers “free movement where election activity is occurring,” close enough “to see and hear” election officers’ activities.
  • Guarantee poll watchers can follow election materials, including the sealing and transfer of memory cards and computer drives plus following the transfer of election materials as they are taken from the voting location to the regional tabulation center.
  • Criminally charge an election officer who does anything to make poll watcher activities “not reasonably effective” with no definition.
  • Make “vote harvesting services” (with no definition but presumable taking someone else’s ballot to the post office or drop box) a felony, thereby removing that person’s right to vote.
  • Allow officials to look at old signatures for as far back as six years, allowing for more mismatches.

Republicans may have reconsidered some of the provisions after House Democrats walked out. A ban on Sunday morning voting was called a “typo,” and one of the bill’s sponsors called permission for judges to eliminate legal votes “horrendous.”

On the third day of asking people in Texas to cut back on energy use in mid-June, Abbott said his power grid “is better today than it’s ever been.” With the hottest summer in winter, 68 percent of Texans don’t trust ERCOT and its power grid to not fail during the summer, and 85 percent of Texans say they cannot live without air conditioning. In the land of fossil fuels, 56 percent of the state’s residents are willing to consider a change to renewable energy.

ERCOT refused to give the reason that many power plants were unexpectedly offline in June—enough to power 2.4 million homes. Plants were already down for maintenance in April after the February disaster. In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush separated the Texas grid from all the neighboring states to avoid federal overight and put ERCOT in control of the mostly-privatized grid. Since 2004, these deregulated residential consumers paid $28 billion more for their power than rates by the state’s traditional utilities, enriching the investors, power company CEOs, and GOP political campaigns.

To preserve his faulty grid, Abbott has declared his state “sovereign” under the 10th Amendment, and the legislature passed a bill mandating all the state’s entities separating from companies not investing in fossil fuels. The power grid failure last winter was a repeat of the one a decade ago, when El Paso separated from the state power grid. The rest of the state is in hostage to the Republicans and their failure to provide for the people while Abbott takes all the money to build his wall.

Abbott made himself even more unpopular when he vetoed the bipartisan Safe Outdoor Dogs Act which would protect dogs through illegalizing their being tied up with heavy chains out doors as well as leaving them without water or shade. The legislation, passing 28-3 in the Senate and 83-32 in the House, was to expand and clarify the state’s animal cruelty laws. Former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro tweeted,  “‘Anti-voting rights, pro-animal cruelty’ is a bold re-election message.”

December 13, 2020

DDT: Week 203 – Chaos to Cover Disasters

The past week celebrated huge pieces of news: the certification from 50 states for their presidential choices with Joe Biden receiving 306 votes; the Supreme Court rejection of the Texas case in its lawsuit against voting practices in four other states; and the authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, the first one for COVID-19 approved in the United States following the UK use of the vaccine beginning last Tuesday. Congress also passed the National Defense Authorization Act with a veto-proof vote and a one-week extension of the budget bill to stave off government closure for that time.  

Certification of votes: Biden’s 306 votes were the exact number of votes Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) received four years ago, and the losing lawsuit brings DDT’s losses to almost 60. In one win

The Texas loss from the Supreme Court led the state’s GOP to encourage states to secede from the U.S.:

“Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.” 

Supreme Court Rejection: Texas AG Ken Paxton led an insurrection last week against the legal certification of electoral votes with the support of 17 red state AGs and 126 House Republicans. They all lost when the justices unanimously ruled against overturning votes in four swing states to give the Oval Office to DDT. After he heard about his Supreme Court loss, DDT refused to leave his bedroom to join a White House Christmas party. Earlier, on November 14, he had refused to greet the newly elected GOP House members in the White House after Joe Biden was declared the president-elect.

The GOP keeps filing lawsuits: after a federal judge ruled against election fraud in Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court took a case asking for 221,000 ballots in two counties be thrown out with the false claim the jurisdictions didn’t follow state law. In the unlikely event Biden would lose the majority in the state that he won by 20,000 votes, he would lose only 10 electoral votes, still winning with 296 votes—26 over the necessary 270 to become president. All the 38 GOP-appointed judges who have ruled against DDT’s election fraud myth, the most recent, a federal judge in Wisconsin, was appointed by DDT like some other judges ruling against him.

After 126 members of the U.S. House supported Paxton’s case to put DDT back into the Oval Office, Rep. Brad Pascrell (D-NJ) tweeted:

“The 14th Amendment expressly forbids members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that.”

He declared the 126 Republicans trying to overturn the election, violating the Constitution, and attempting to “demolish democracy” should not be sworn into office on January 3, 2021. Pascrell also justified his argument on Article I, Section 5 of the 14th Amendment giving each congressional chamber final authority over membership with a two-thirds vote. Pascrell explained:

“These lawsuits seeking to obliterate public confidence in our democratic system by invalidating the clear results of the 2020 presidential election attack the text and spirit of the Constitution, which each member swears to support and defend, as well as violate the rules of our House of Representatives, which explicitly forbid members from committing unbecoming acts that reflect poorly on our chamber.”

He added that the 126 members supporting the Supreme Court case are “seeking to make Donald Trump an unelected dictator.” Pascrell argued their actions “must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms” because this time “may be without parallel since 1860. The fate of our democracy depends on us meeting that moment.”

After the top GOP House leader, Kevin McCarthy (CA), and VP Mike Pence’s brother, Greg Pence (IN), joined 124 other representatives in the attempted coup, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) accused the 126 of “subverting the Constitution” and engaging “in election subversion that imperils our democracy.” In her statement, Pelosi said:

“The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House. …The pandemic is raging, with nearly 300,000 having died and tens of millions having lost jobs.  Strong, unified action is needed to crush the virus, and Republicans must once and for all end their election subversion—immediately.”  

The GOP attorneys general who did not join the attempted coup explained that states should be able to govern themselves and expressed concern that a precedent of one state suing another could result in Democratic states forcing their procedures on Republican states. Opposing federalism, Ohio AG Dave Yost said the Supreme Court has no right to tell states how to appoint electors, an ideology from conservatives in the past.

Vaccine Approval:

DDT also tainted the approval of the first virus vaccine by threatening to fire the FDA leader, Stephen Hahn, if the Pfizer vaccine is not approved for emergency authorization by Friday. DDT, who called the FDA “a big, old, slow turtle,” tweeted, “Get the dam [sic] vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn @SteveFDA. Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!” The authorization was announced later on Friday.

Dr. Charlotte Kent, a CDC manager, has testified to congressional investigators about the order purported by CDC’s director Robert Redfield to delete an email reporting a spread of coronavirus if children gather together. Redfield claimed he instructed agency staffers to ignore the mail but didn’t order its deletion. By law, federal officials are to retain records. When Kent looked for the email from Paul Alexander and Michael Caputo, now departed from HHS, it was missing.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA): Some congressional Republicans did turn on DDT when they voted for the $741 million NDAA in sufficient numbers to overturn his threatened veto if all of them repeated their “yes” votes. DDT was upset because it didn’t contain an amendment removing protection for social media platforms. Twitter is currently marking his false tweets as “disputed” and could drop his account when he no longer has the label of a world leader. He wants a law allowing him to sue the company if is doesn’t do what he wants.

DDT also threatened to veto the NDAA if it changes the names of ten military bases honoring Confederate officers, but the bill does make that change. If he takes no action on the bill by the day before Christmas Eve, it becomes law providing Congress is still in session. An congressional adjournment would make the bill defunct. To keep President Obama from appointing people during a recess, Congress held “pro forma” sessions when one lone person, the Presiding Officer, walks into the room, calls the body to order, and immediately dismisses it without transacting any business. They could do the same to get the NDAA passed if DDT doesn’t veto it.

The Senate vote for NDAA was 84-13, the House 335-78. McCarthy voted for the bill but said he wouldn’t vote against DDT’s veto. If enough Republicans follow the Minority Leader’s example, the NDAA would not be passed during the 116th Congress for the first time in 59 years. Washington Post reporter Paul Kane wrote:

 “It’s another destruction of what it means to be a conservative in the Trump era, as support for a strong national security has been a bedrock of party orthodoxy for decades and decades.”

Budget Continuing Resolution: The government stays open until December 11 after Congress passed a “C.R.” to continue funding for most government programs at the same levels as fiscal 2020 through December 18, 2000. The deadline for the omnibus spending package of 12 appropriations bills was last October 1, but a C.R. put it forward until last Friday. It contains no COVID-19 relief, as many congressional members had hoped. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) both said they would agree to the one-week extension but not vote for the bill again without stimulus checks for people. Sanders is asking for $1,200 per person, a repeat of last March. A House vote of 343-67 vote preceded the final Senate voice vote on Friday. DDT signed the bill late Friday

DDT’s chaos is not only in an attempt to win the election. He wants to use it to hide the problems he faces:

COVID-19: The number of daily cases and deaths increased almost 30 percent from two weeks earlier.

Economy: Since corporations received billions of dollars from earlier virus stimulus bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocks the current bill because Democrats want $160 billion to help state and local governments and won’t shield businesses from their intentionally-caused coronavirus injuries and deaths.

Control of GOP: DDT plans to keep the power over Republicans with both the funding and the list of supporters for GOP candidates.

Electoral College votes are set to be cast on Monday. Republicans have promised to agree Joe Biden is president-elect if he receives at least 270 votes. We’ll see.

December 9, 2020

DDT Spirals Downward in Court

All 50 states have certified their electoral college votes according to the votes of their populations. President-elect Joe Biden has 306 votes; loser Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has 232 votes. The party totals are exactly the opposite from those in 2016 when DDT received 306 votes. After December 8, 2020, votes cannot be challenged in court or in Congress. Fox network traumatized supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) when Neil Cavuto broke into DDT’s “vaccine summit” programming to announce Joe Biden is president-elect and the Supreme Court isn’t going to put him back into the Oval Office.

Next Monday, December 14, the electors meet in their separate states to vote by paper ballot for president and vice president. After the vote, they sign “Certificates of the Vote” with the list of votes and distribute them to officials along with the Certificate of Ascertainment. Thirty-three states have laws requiring electors to follow the vote of the people; Georgia, with 16 votes, and Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, are the only swing states without this law. Without those 36 votes, Biden still has the necessary 270 electoral votes to be president.

Tuesday was another marker in losing for DDT. He and his allies passed the marker for 50 lost post-election legal battles, exactly 51, according to Marc Elias, Democrats’ top election attorney. The GOP came out victorious in one minor case allowing them to move from ten feet to six feet away from ballot counters. The icing on the losing cake was a rejection from the U.S. Supreme Court for a request to throw out all of Pennsylvania’s 6.7 million votes. The order from conservative Justice Samuel Alito had no dissents from the conservative 6-3 court—including the three justices DDT appointed to give him the White House in the next term. The case was the first—and perhaps the last—to reach the Supreme Court to overturn Biden’s win. In arguing the Supreme Court case, lawyers tried to use the 2000 decision putting George W. Bush into the White House, but that case overturned Florida’s Supreme Court decision on the basis its ruling “impermissibly distorted [state law] beyond what a fair reading required.” SCOTUS rejected the argument.

The basis of the case, filed by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) was against Act 77, last year’s law to allow unlimited absentee ballots to eligible voters. Republicans passed the law with the belief it would increase Republican voters, but DDT’s belief it would help Democrats drove Republicans to oppose the law that they passed. The state Supreme Court stated that the challenge was filed far too late, after Biden’s 80,000 majority was known. Challengers to Act 77 already ignored the 180-day window set by the GOP legislature to raise any constitutional objections. The GOP goal was to disenfranchise over 2.5 million voters so they could give the state to DDT.

One Pennsylvania state legislator gave an explanation for the recent interest in nullifying election results. Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward said defying DDT’s position might “get my house bombed.” Armed threatening men gathered around the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, and extremists are posting photographs of the home of Ann Jacobs, Wisconsin Elections Commission chair, and threatening her children.    

After the conservative Supreme Court rejected the GOP’s effort to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump’s supporters are using Parler social media to call for martial law and armed rebellion across the nation. The same people called liberals “snowflakes” in 2016 and accused them of not being able to accept DDT’s victory four years ago. DDT lost both the electoral college and the popular vote to Biden, but DDT’s supporters claim people would not have voted for Biden.

After DDT’s Supreme Court loss came Nevada’s Supreme Court agreement with a lower court of “no credible or reliable evidence that the 2020 general election in Nevada was affected by fraud.”

Arizona’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected the “election fraud” lawsuit from the state’s GOP chair, Kelli “Chemtrail” Ward, who tried to give the state’s certified votes to DDT instead of the popular vote for Biden. The case accused both election workers and foreign countries of manipulating the results. After Arizona’s GOP Gov. Doug Ducey certified the vote for Biden, Ward told him to “shut the hell up.” The state GOP has asked Republicans if they are willing to die in the cause of obtaining the election for DDT. Activist Ali Alexander set the tone when he said he was “willing to give my life for this fight [to put DDT in the Oval Office].” The party sent out Alexander’s statement with the words, “He is. Are you?” with a clip from Rambo. A few respondents said they would, but far more ridiculed the approach.

A Georgia judge denied a lawsuit to force the state’s GOP governor and secretary of state decertify the election results for Biden to give the state to DDT. Desperate to get votes despite their openly fraudulent activities, Georgia’s GOP incumbent senators, up for reelection on January 6, have both signed a statement asking the state to invalidate the vote of the people for Biden.

Another Tuesday event was learning that DDT’s campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, who worked closely with COVID-19 infected Rudy Giuliani, also tested positive for the virus. She had told Fox she was bringing lawsuits to put loser DDT into the Oval Office for “Lord Jesus Christ.” Evidently, God blocked Ellis by giving her coronavirus.

The “safe harbor deadline” has passed, but 17 flaming red states are following Texas AG Ken Paxton in his filing opposition to Biden’s election in the Supreme Court, claiming four states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia—for “illegal election results.” DDT needs to get electoral votes from an additional four states to pass the 270-vote threshold for presidential election; he is ignoring the other 46 states.

Paxton’s lawsuit has serious problems. (1) It has no evidence. (2) One state has no standing to sue another state for its election processes. If so, many states could sue Paxton’s Texas for its multiple voter suppression tactics. (3) DDT has joined the lawsuit. Acting “in his personal capacity” as a presidential candidate, DDT wants “to protect his unique and substantial personal interests as a candidate for re-election.”

DDT’s new attorney, John Eastman, is using his birther belief attempting to disqualify VP-elect and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) for both her government positions because she was born in Oakland (CA) to U.S. immigrants. Newsweek ran an article from Eastman and then profusely apologized for having published his highly discredited column. 

Paxton’s lawsuit appears self-serving. After being under indictment for five years for securities fraud, several of his senior officials accused him of “bribery, abuse of office and other crimes.” He may be shopping for a pardon before DDT leaves office.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies turned sour Tuesday when Republicans rejected the customarily pro-forma resolution stating Joe Biden is president-elect in a preparation for him and VP-elect Kamala Harris. With six members on the committee, the resolution met with a tie. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) accused Democrats of getting “ahead of the electoral process [to] decide who we are inaugurating.” He wants them to “adhere to the committee’s longstanding tradition of bipartisan cooperation.” The other two Republicans on the committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), look upset about planning a Democrat’s inauguration. 

GOP leaders are giving December 14, the meeting of electors as the end of the elections. Next Tuesday will determine whether Republicans come up with a new personal deadline. Chair of the committee, Blunt indicated it won’t be meeting again. More sabotage of what should be a celebration of democracy. Blunt also said the committee members would accept the president-elect after the Electoral College meets. When the 249 GOP congressional members were asked if they would accept Biden as president-elect after formalization by the electors, only 32 said yes. Two said no, and the remaining 215 wouldn’t answer. The 32 accepting the inevitable is only five more than the 27 who had already agreed with Biden as the president-elect.

Meanwhile, Biden is moving forward with his own inaugural committee. He has appointed five chairs with Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the lead, with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the co-chair. Others are Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). At the same time, Ivanka Trump, deposed for an investigation into the misuse of funds for her father’s inauguration called it “a politically motivated demonstration” and “waste of taxpayer dollars.” After the 50+ lawsuits against states because Republicans can’t believe Joe Biden can get over 80 million votes.

U.S. COVID-19 for December 9, 2020: cases – 225,441; deaths – 3,243. Within the next two days, anticipate total cases to go over 16 million and deaths over 300,000.

July 4, 2020

The U.S., a Failing State

A definition for 2020 is clear sight or “accurate discernment, judgment, or assessment hindsight.” The year 2020 clearly shows the United States as a failing state, defined by Rebecca Gordon as “a political entity whose government has ceased to perform most or all of its basic functions. Such a condition can result from civil war, untrammeled corruption, natural disaster, or some combination of those and more.” The Fund for Peace has four criteria:

  1. “Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
  2. Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  3. Inability to provide public services
  4. Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community”

1. Loss of control: The administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is replacing the rule of law with the wishes of one man who threatens his citizens with military force, ordering law enforcement to attack legal peaceful protesters to show his power. DDT encouraged his rally audience to “knock the crap out of hecklers” and congratulated a GOP congressman for physically attacking a reporter. DDT sees white supremacists who commit violence as “very fine people” and encourages to physically menace legislators debating Michigan’s stay-at-home policies. 

2. Erosion of legitimate authority: The growing suppression of voting increasingly removes collective decisions and replaces them with control by the wealthy. The Supreme Court elimination of the 1965 Voting Rights Act accelerated unequal access to the polls in 25 states during the past decade with voter ID mandates and restrictions on early voting, number and placement of polling places, and vote-by-mail. DDT failed to find voting fraud with a now defunct presidential commission and now spreads lies about vote by mail. DDT’s goal is to undermine confidence in elections to cover himself if he loses in November. For months, people have asked what can be done if DDT loses but stays in the White House. Today, DDT’s Supreme Court majority temporarily froze a decision from a lower court: people in Alabama are stopped from safely voting in its July 14th primary through requesting mail-in ballots. 

3. Failure to Provide Public Services: Just this year, DDT failed to stop COVID-19, causing a tripling of the unemployment rate and pushed a disastrous recession that could destroy the nation’s economy. Six months after an awareness of the disease in China, the government lacks enough equipment and supplies to care for millions of infected people. DDT insisted on reopening businesses and created a massive surge in the virus. He favors his friends and donors by giving them contracts. For example, Fillakit, a new contractor, took $7.3 million for plastic tubes for making soda bottles instead of the ordered test tubes. The contaminated product doesn’t fit the racks for lab analysis. Without masks and in the open air, employees used snow shovels to put the unsterilized tubes into plastic bins. In the early onslaught of COVID-19 in the U.S., the White House knew the CDC distributed contaminated tests to states.  As the number of infections and deaths hit a new peak, DDT has gone to court to remove healthcare for 23 million people in the U.S. Without the preexisting condition requirement, the millions of people contracting COVID-19 cannot be covered for any issues attributed to the virus.

4. Inability to interact with other states: Since his inauguration, DDT consistently cozied up to world dictators and alienated countries of the free world. He pulled the U.S. out of successful and hopeful treaties such as denuclearization of Iran and a world-wide climate agreement. He threatened to drop NATO and placed sanctions on cooperative countries of the International Criminal Court. He even pulled out of the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic. This past week, DDT turned his back on global cooperation in buying the entire three-month stock of remdesivir—a medication that might lessen stays in the hospital for people with COVID-19—so no one else could have any at a cost of $1.56 billion.

Today, the U.S., with 4.25 percent of the world’s population, has 26 percent of the over 11 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 25 percent of the world’s deaths, and cases are rising in 36 states. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress this past week the new COVID-19 cases, over 55,000 for each of the past four days, may rise to 100,000 a day. The count for today, July 3: 2,890,588 infections; 132,101 deaths. Statistics would show more infections and deaths if the reporting was honest.

The increasing numbers of deaths within jails and prisons brings to light the unnecessary and cruel incarceration in the U.S. along with the massive disconnect in healthcare services between the well-off and the marginalized communities. Homelessness suffers from the same health disaster in the greatest income inequality since the Gilded Age from tax cuts for the rich and the destruction of public services including education and infrastructure. In the U.S., 63 million people lack clean drinking water. As the virus expanded during the first three months of 2020, over $6.5 trillion in household wealth in the global economy equivalent to the combined economies of France and the UK; since March 18, U.S. billionaires have gained 20 percent in wealth–$584 billion.

Federal officials failed to protect healthcare workers by closing many of the over 4,100 coronavirus-related workplace safety complaints without taking action. At least 35 healthcare workers died after OSHA received safety complaints about their workplaces. Other than 275 fatality ongoing probes and 1,300 open healthcare complaints, the remainder of the complaints are listed “closed” in OSHA’s database. Its only citation was a $3,900 fine for a Georgia nursing home.

The man in the Oval Office declared himself a wartime president against COVID-19 and then surrendered. This week he said people will just have to “live with it” about millions of people contracting the disease, hundreds of thousands of people dying from it, and the economy crashing. DDT also claimed “not one governor needed anything” when VP Mike Pence’s questions. Yet across the nation, governors have asked Pence for help with viral spikes in their states.

Instead of trying to solve the COVID-19 disaster, DDT’s HHS Secretary Alex Azar is campaigning in election battleground states and pushing for reopening businesses. Last Sunday, Alex Azar called the virus a catastrophe but laid responsibility for handling it anyplace except the federal government.

A serious loss for democracy is this week’s decision from the Supreme Court, putting the Christian church in charge of the nation. Forcing taxpayers in Montana to pay for religious education, the high court violated the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. This ruling adds to DDT’s order that evangelicals can discriminate against women, LGBTQ people, Catholics, Muslims, atheists, differently abled, etc. in other areas such as fostering children. Private schools became popular in the mid-20th century to oppose racial integration.

The Supreme Court also conceals information about DDT by taking an appeal from a lower court decision making grand jury materials from the Mueller report available to members of Congress. Even if the Supreme Court were to affirm the lower ruling—which is unlikely—the decision won’t come down until after the election. DDT will be protected from public knowledge about Russian interference in his 2016 win until after his next election.

Acting as DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr is picking off U.S. attorneys general, and Richard Donoghue, representing the Eastern District of New York, is the most recent one. The Brooklyn post investigated, among other people close to DDT, Tom Barrack who chaired his inaugural committee. Donoghue was also in charge of all DOJ investigations about Ukraine. Now he’s headed for Washington, and a good friend of Barr will likely replace him. On Memorial Day weekend, Barr also removed Joseph Brown, U.S. Attorney for eastern Texas, who had been blocked in his attempts to criminally charge Walmart for its part in an opioid case, and replaced Brown with Stephen Cox, one of the Washington officials who blocked the charges. 

Some state governors collaborate with DDT in making the U.S. a failed state. Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott now requires wearing masks in public, less than two months ago his state attorney, Ken Paxton, threatened cities such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio with lawsuits if they require masks and sheltering in place. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who wants to preserve the economy by letting older people die, still insists, without evidence, the state reopen because infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “has been wrong every time in every issue.” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts threatened cities with not giving them federal virus relief funding if they require people to wear masks in government buildings.  Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey blocked cities and counties from restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 until June 17. All three of these states have serious spikes in the disease.

The United States is becoming a failed state, and Republicans work hard for it to happen.  

May 31, 2020

Week 175 – Sunday Good News

In the midst of protesting George Floyd’s killing throughout at least 75 cities where police attack and arrest law-abiding reporters, one place in the United States provides a model of reaction to demonstrations. In Flint (MI), a sheriff and his officers put down their riot gear and joined with protesters. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson (left) told the crowd marching on the Flint Township police station he wanted to hear them. He added he and his officers are in service of their demands and their protest. The leaders talked with Swanson, and law enforcement joined with protesters to “make this a parade, not a protest.”

Local photographer Leni Kei Williams documented the event in a photo essay posted to Facebook. He wrote about the inception of the interaction:

 

“When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question… ‘We are mad too! What can we do?’ and the crowd responded, ‘Join us.’”

“You got little ones here, you got dogs,” the sheriff said to the crowd in remarks caught on camera. “So listen, I’m just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there, hugs people. So you just tell us what to do.”

Later, Swanson said:

“We can’t forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, ‘protect and serve.’ That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity. If you can’t call out what’s wrong, try to make it right. And that’s the magic we saw tonight. Nobody’s arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it’s supposed to be.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be—the police working with the community. When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. … The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy [who killed George Floyd] is not one of us.”  

More of Williams’ photographs.

Similar actions happened in Camden (NJ), Coral Gables (FL), Santa Cruz (CA), Norfolk (VA), and probably other areas.

As DDT grows more desperate in his opposition to mail-in ballots, including raving about bands of children stealing ballots from mail boxes to get them signed and mailed in, a large majority of people in the nation, including 57 percent of Republicans, want mail-in ballots. We all feel we can safely cast our votes without long lines or dangers of crowded places. A new Brennan Center poll finds 80 percent of U.S. people, 90 percent of them registered to vote, want all voters to have the option of mail ballots for the 2020 election.  A Reuters poll found 65 percent of Republicans want the mail ballot option. In addition, two-thirds of people in a poll want voting available for as long as two weeks to eliminate long lines. Republicans are also creating organizations supporting mail ballots, for example former Pennsylvania GOP governor Tom Ridge who has co-founded “VoteSafe.” 

Ridge’s definition of democracy differs from Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons who said, “If you don’t [feel safe], don’t go out and vote.” He’s the same guy who passed on the question about who was responsible for the massive crowds at the Lake of the Ozarks who kept gathering because the county said it was the state’s responsibility. With an answer fitting every question, Parsons said, “It is what it is.” And about the tragic death of George Floyd, Parsons said, “It didn’t look too good.” [Parsons may not fit the “good” part of Sunday’s blog post, but his comments are too good to pass up.]

The Texas absentee voting lawsuit is still ping-ponging through the courts. State AG Ken Paxton wants mail-in ballots greatly restricted, but people want to maintain social distancing by voting from home. The latest state Supreme Court ruling is that concern about COVID-19 is insufficient to obtain a mail-in ballot. But the news for people isn’t all bad. The court also decided voters can assess their personal health to see if they have a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition” preventing a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” Voters are also not required to explain what their disability is; they just check the box on the application form. And Paxton cannot prevent local election officials from sending ballots to voters who cited lack of immunity to the virus.

In an attempt to exonerate Michael Flynn and DDT, Congress released what the media calls “transcripts” of Flynn’s communications with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak when Flynn personally negotiated with a foreign country while Barack Obama was president. The conversations followed President Obama’s sanctions on Russia because of the country’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election. Flynn asked Kislyak to be “even-keeled” about the president’s punishment because “we can have a better conversation” about the relationship between U.S. and Russia after DDT’s inauguration. What has been released is enough of a condemnation of Flynn, who lied to the FBI in denying details of the conversation and undercutting a sitting president. Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) said the conversations also prove Flynn liked to VP Mike Pence. DDT had fired Flynn for his lies and admitted Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The released material, however, is only a summary of the interactions with some quotation—transcripts of every part of their conversations. DDT’s allies are still claiming Flynn did nothing wrong, and AG Bill Barr called Flynn’s actions “laudable.”

After protests from media such as The Rachel Maddow Show and legislators including Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Max Rose (D-NY), DDT extended the deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops fighting COVID-19 through mid-August. He originally removed the deployment on June 24, 89 days, to refuse Guard troops any federal retirement and education benefits. Earlier deployment would also have caused problems for states depending on the Guard in new hot spots caused by reopening economies. Troops help understaffed and underfunded public health agencies with testing, contact tracing and other health services. Deploying on June 24 would have meant troops would leave by Jun 10 to quarantine for two weeks. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Guard Chief General Joseph Lengyel endorsed an extension last week, and 42 governors sent DDT a letter demanding continued federal support for the Guard.

Paul Manafort got out of prison because of COVID-19. So did Michael Cohen. But DDT wanted to leave all the other prisoners in danger of infection in place despite a virus hot zone in a federal prison in Ohio. For once, the Supreme Court disagreed—at least temporarily—with DDT. 

Late Friday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject a California church’s challenge to the restrictions intended to protect people’s health. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Gov Gavin Newsom could impose these restrictions because he didn’t single out specific places of worship. The court also turned down a request for Illinois churches to reopen. Both states had already removed some restrictions and permitted in-person services on last Sunday’s Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.

In the midst of DDT’s fight with Twitter, one of his judges rejected a lawsuit alleging Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google conspired to silence conservative voices. Right-wingers accused the four companies of stifling First Amendment rights. Washington, D.C. appeals court Judge Trevor McFadden said First Amendment rights regulates the government, not the private sector and the plaintiffs didn’t prove the companies are “state actors.”

Opponents of Keystone XL and other pipelines picked up another victory from the 9th Circuit Court in a ruling that upheld a lower court ruling suspending a federal fast-track permit for the tar sands project. The court’s ruling stated the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” This decision followed a U.S. district court in Montana which ruled DDT’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it used the fast-track “Nationwide Permit 12.”

The League of Women Voters of Michigan has the right to be interveners in a lawsuit attempting to stop the mandate for Detroit to conduct an aggressive purge of voters, some of them most likely eligible because of the questionable and unsubstantiated data used in the process. The purge risks removing voters with similar names and allegedly “deceased” voters who are still alive. The League asserts federal law doesn’t require purges from third parties using questionable data, Detroit meets federal law requirements, and the process would threaten voters’ rights.

Twenty-three U.S. states, four cities, and the District of Columbia are suing DDT’s administration for weakening fuel efficiency standards. The lawsuit also pits auto manufacturers against each other: GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and others support DDT, and Ford, Honda, BMW, and other automakers oppose him.

President Trump’s job approval sank to 42 percent last week in a two-year low from the highly conservative Rasmussen poll. During several days of protesting, DDT’s rating dropped four points from the previous Friday.

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