Nel's New Day

November 13, 2022

Mistakes Were Made: FTX, Twitter

While the 2022 midterm elections released the majority of its results this past week, two financial disasters ran with a flood of breaking news in crypto currency and Elon Musk’s new toy, Twitter.

Last Wednesday, Dow Jones dropped about 1,000 points, alerting people to the collapse of FTX, a Bahama-based crypto currency exchange. FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, lost 94 percent of his assets, going from net worth of $15.2 billion to $991.5 million, in one day of stock losses and resigned. He had secretly moved $10 billion of customer funds to his trading company Alameda Research with about 130 affiliated companies, and about $1-2 billion disappeared. A rescue deal with Binance collapsed, and the company filed for bankruptcy.

Major coins prices regained some of its lost value after the bankruptcy filing only to plummet after the discovery of a hack into FTX. Various tokens worth $663 million were drained from FTX’s crypto wallets, $477 million in the suspected theft, with the remainder believed to be put into secure storage by FTX. Those holding their own cryptocurrency can store it “hot,” “cold,” or a combination. “Hot” is attached to the internet permitting easy access; “cold” refers to wallets not internet connected. Many crypto start-ups used FTX because it paid high yields for assets on its platform. Before the collapse, Genesis locked up $175 million in funds with FTX; Pantera Capital, $135 million.

Crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) fell nearly percent, and MicroStrategy dropped 10 percent. Crypto-focused bank Silvergate (SI) lost 14 percent. The two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) both declined about 6 percent, similar to declines in the crypto sector. Blockchain and Tech ETF dropped 46 percent since their April debut. The wipeout for cryptocurrency was about $5 billion.

On November 11, Bitcoin’s price hovered around $17,000, down from above $20,000 on November 8 and well below the $68,000 a year ago. Except for supposed “stablecoins,” crypto’s value solely depends on what someone is willing to pay for it, like a lottery ticket.

The bankrupt FTX crypto exchange, according to its new CEO, is “in the process of removing trading and withdrawal functionality” and “moving as many digital assets as can be identified to a new cold wallet custodian.” FTX calls the hacking  “unauthorized transactions.” 

Bankman-Fried spent tens of millions of dollars to reconfigure the culture of finance in both the U.S. and the world. As recently as January, his FTX was worth $32 billion. The story of his rise—and fall—is here as he used his charm, trying to manipulate people into believing his company was a trustworthy investment. Money went into naming the Miami Heat arena and its logo on Major League Baseball umpires’ uniforms, Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen for spokespeople, and comedian Larry David starring in the FTX Super Bowl ad. Bankman-Fried’s partners are fleeing, Miami Heat is terminating its relationship to look for a new naming rights partner.

Having left the U.S., Bankman-Fried may be under supervision in a Bahamas resort with his co-founder, Gary Want, and FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh on his way to non-extradition haven Dubai. The resort is owned by Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake

A way to avoid banks, cryptocurrency, which isn’t really “currency,” has been quite volatile, but risk-takers have used it in the hope of making a fortune. Melanie Trump used it for her business, and Elon Musk considered requiring bitcoins as payment for participation in his new company, Twitter.

Musk’s recent acquisition of the social media platform has kept the media busy following the constant shifts in what he is doing, starting out with the number of Twitter employees the wealthiest man in the world has fired. He started out with 25 percent of the 7,500 workers as well as almost all the top people in the business. Within a week, that figure expanded to 50 percent, which Jonathan Last called Twitter’s Red Wedding, comparing it to the massacre in The Game of Thrones. Layoffs were particularly extensive in Twitter’s “product trust and safety, policy, communications, tweet curation, ethical AI, data science, research, machine learning, social good, accessibility, and even certain core engineering teams.”

When Musk decided he needed some of them, he called them back, but many refused to return. They have three months salary but will be punished if they talk with any other former employees. (Library computers are probably very busy!) The ones he kept were told they had to report to offices instead of working remotely although that was not the deal when they were hired. Musk also dumped the board of directors and replaced them with his friends while making himself CEO. 

Most executives who weren’t fired walked out—top privacy, security, and safety executives. Axios reporter Sara Fischer tweeted, “Twitter is on life support.” Employees told her “it’s over” because “trust is gone.” According to a spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission, agents were “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.” The agency is prepared to take action to require compliance with a consent order established earlier this year. Three of the resignations were part of the FTC mandated data handling practices. With greater restrictions, European countries are carefully watching Twitter problems.

Part of the investigation into Twitter is Saudi Arabia’s partial ownership because Musk said the company must follow the freedom of expression laws by the country in which it operates. Saudi Arabia has the eighth most Twitter users in the world with limited freedom of speech.  

The big tech moguls and financiers buying into Twitter, like Saudi Arabia, may suffer from buyers’ remorse, possibly losing much of their investment at $54.20 per share. The Saudi’s piece is almost $2 billion. Winners are those who bought shares at a lower price; privatizing stocks in the company forces Musk to reimburse shareholders at the buying cost.  Chief Twit, Musk’s self-identified nickname, is threatening bankruptcy after the company loses $4 million a day and could end up with hundreds of billions of dollars in fines. His financial situation worsened after advertisers, providing 90 percent of Twitter revenue, began to suspend their accounts. After losing at least nine major advertisers, Musk begged them to return on “Twitter Space,” an hour-long livestream, with promises of content moderation and account verification while blaming activists for their Twitter boycott.

For over a week, Twitter increasingly lost credibility, and tweeting comedians impersonated Musk in fake accounts. One of them, Kathy Griffin, encouraged encouraging people to vote Democratic before Musk told them to select GOP candidates. Musk tried to charge $19.95 for his verification accounts with a blue check. When people refused to pay the charge, he dropped the cost to $7.99. For this “Twitter Blue,” Musk didn’t even verify the accounts for accuracy, requiring only an Apple ID and phone number. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems. [Left: Musk’s tweet pleading for subscriptions.]

Musk paused the product which was flooded with misinformation and permitted neo-Nazi accounts. A fake account from Lilly, for example, announced free insulin. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems.  

Within the first week, Musk may have lost a million users, and many of them are going to Mastodon, a decentralized platform founded in 2016 which rose to 1 million users this month, doubling the past number. Users can set their own content moderation rules and uses hashtags, replies, and “boosting” (like retweeting). Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is a nonprofit and has no ads (#omg).

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, but its value dropped to $25 billion during its first week. He also has a $1 billion annual interest payment for the huge loan to help pay for the inflated price. In addition, fired workers are suing him for violating California and federal law because of his mass layoffs.

As Jonathan Last wrote, “Elon Musk has turned Twitter from a minimally-functioning company into a distressed asset. And he did it in a week.” Musk promised Twitter would not become “a free-for-all hellscape,” but that’s the perfect description of the social media site inundated with racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic posts accompanied by election disinformation and conspiracy theories—many of them promoted by Musk.

The end of Twitter would lose Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) tweets. People may remember  “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police” instead of Gestapo. There was “Bill Gates wants you to eat his fake meat that grows in a peach tree dish.” Most recently, Greene wrote, “I’m sure our enemies are quacking in their boots while we are still over here trying to count ballots.” Alex Bollinger wrote, “On Twitter, people were quacking up about Greene’s latest complaint.” Twitter provided many images, including this one. 

Over at Meta, parent of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg may not being doing as well since his name change. The company’s $234 billion fall last February set the record for the biggest one-day value drop in stock market history, more than Apple’s one-day $182 billion loss in September 2020. Over 11,000 Meta employees, about 13 percent of the work force, were fired. Meta’s stock dropped over 50 percent from $200 six months ago before crawling back up to $113.02.

August 15, 2022

Primaries – August 13, 2022 + It’s a Weird Time

Hawaii held their primary elections last Saturday, and almost no one noticed, perhaps because of the shortage of scandals. Tulsi Gabbard is off substituting for Tucker Carlson on Fox, taking her vitriol there, and no one left in the state seems to be vicious. Gabbard was elected four times from 2013 to 2019 as a Democrat, but she increasingly supported GOP policies, even speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference summit last spring.

The last time Hawaiians elected a Republican to federal or statewide office was 2010, and general elections haven’t been competitive since 2014. In November Democrats have a 99 percent chance to win the U.S. Senate seat, governor, and both U.S. House positions. Jill Tokuda, a close ally of progressive Sen. Mazie Hirono, took the Democratic candidacy for Kahele’s House seat with over 57 percent. Incumbents won the Democratic candidacies for the other two congressional elections, Ed Case for the House and Blue Dog Brian Schatz for Senate.

Tuesday has two more primaries on August 16—Alaska and Wyoming where Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) face fierce opposition from Deposed Donald Trump (R-WY).

What’s being ignored during tantrums from Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) regarding the removal of documents he illegally took to Mar-a-Lago:

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

Oil prices in the U.S. are falling while China economy is weakening as Saudi Aramco stated it will increase oil input. China’s central bank cut a key interest rate to boost growth. U.S. gas prices have dropped for 30 straight days.

DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani no longer plans to stall his appearance before a Fulton County (GA) grand jury concerning the DDT administration interference in the 2020 presidential election. As a “target,” open to possible criminal charges, he plans to show up and refuse to testify, citing attorney-client privilege. A judge also denied Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) request to dismiss his subpoena in the state prosecutor’s investigation and requires him to testify as a material witness. Graham plans to appeal with the claim that he is a high-ranking government official although his inappropriate questions to the state Secretary of Staff and his staff were not related to his position. Graham’s office asserts cited the Constitution’s speech or debate clause “prevents a local official from questioning a Senator about how that Senator did his job.”

Georgia is one of at least three states in which lawyers tied to DDT directed computer experts to copy sensitive data from elections systems in accessing voter equipment. The forensic firm performing the task charged an upfront retainer fee for each job, in one case $26,000. The other identified states are Michigan and Nevada. A Colorado county clerk, Tina Peters, was indicted on charges connected to an alleged breach of the voting system and leaking sensitive data online. Tightly regulated, voting systems are classified as “critical infrastructure” vital to national security. Officials took the machines out of service in many cases because the chains of custody were disrupted. DDT insiders also sent protesters to Washington, lobbied Congress to reject electoral votes, push former VP Mike Pence to block the voting process.  A WaPo report describes specific illegal activities in these attempts.

The DOJ grand jury has subpoenaed Eric Herschmann, DDT’s former White House legal adviser for documents and testimony. He represented DDT in his first impeachment trial but opposed DDT in his fight against the election results. Present at many important meetings, including the one where most of the DOJ top officials threatened to resign if DDT appointed Jeffrey Clark as AG, who pushed false voter fraud claims, Herschmann also opposed Powell’s and Michael Flynn’s requests for the military to seize voting machines. Testimony by Herschmann, included in public hearings, was quite colorful such as calling Clark’s proposal “nuts” and telling John Eastman, who pushed refusal of the electoral votes, to “get a great F-ing criminal defense lawyer.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has won the contest—for the most hateful tweets since Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Also on the top ten are Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-TX) and Christina Pushaw, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis former press secretary who has now joined his gubernatorial campaign. Greene’s tweets about the false “grooming” narrative reached almost 18 million viewers.

The far-right is now attacking school counselors, threatening them for “spreading hate and race-baiting” with accusations from Twitter accounts from such organizations as Courage Is a Habit. Fox’s Tucker Carlson also made the evidence-free claim to his TV audience that school shooters are “numbed by the endless psychotropic drugs that are handed out at every school in the country by crackpots posing as counselors.” In addition to helping students with goals for their future, counselors oppose bullying, combat discrimination, teach organizational skills, and support students understanding their sexuality or gender identity.

School nurses are other villains, according to conservatives. Parents confuse the approximately 2,500 health care centers at schools, operating under the local health department, which are completely separate from the school nurses. Parents or guardians must sign a consent form for students to be treated at these health centers, and they don’t provide hormonal therapy, as conservatives accuse them of doing.  

Parents’ opposition to schools began with mask mandates at the beginning of the pandemic and then increased to Republican myths about schools’ teaching systemic racism with demands to stop teaching history. For example, a special education teacher at an Escambia County (FL) public school quit after a staff employee told him to remove a display exhibiting “age inappropriate” racist behavior with photos of Black heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman, George Washington Carver, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former President Obama. In a predominantly Black part of the county, the majority of his former students are Black.

Parental discrimination moved on to the LGBTQ school community. A DDT-appointed judge in Tennessee banned two federal agencies from enforcing federal directives in 20 states providing protection for LGBTQ people in schools and workplaces. In 2020, a Supreme Court opinion, Bostock v. Clayton County, ruled 6-3 that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in the workplace.

Some January 6 insurrectionists are promoting businesses, boosting social media profiles, and raising cash from their experiences through selling books, clothing, and even a rap album. Their plans lead prosecutors to ask for tougher punishments, and the DOJ is thinking about taking the money. Federal authorities have seized over $62,000 from a Utah defendant who sold his January 6 footage for $90,000. The man who propped his feet on the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) is selling photos for $100. Anti-vaxxer Dr. Simone Gold raised over $430,000 for her legal expenses from a nonprofit, but she didn’t tell the donors she had already pled guilty to illegally entering the Capitol. A rioter sentenced to three weeks in jail for entering the Capitol and watching insurrectionists beat up on the police helped his father sell clothing with “Back the Blue.”

A Kentucky judge using a lawyer for political purposes to support his reelection campaign accused the state Judicial Conduct Commission of being used for political purposes. In Kentucky’s southwestern Christian County, the county judge, suspended with pay, declared he will “stay the course.”

Almost a month ago, DDT buried his first wife, Ivana, at the first hole at his Bedminster (NJ) golf course, the first one there and requiring consecration of the property for a traditional Catholic burial. (Seventeen wives still have room.) Researchers debunked the idea that it was done for a tax break by saying the cemetery taxes waived only 5,700 square feet of land. One assumption is that DDT did it because he loves northern New Jersey. He’s also interested in burials. In 2007, he got permits for a windowless wedding chapel at the club to be converted into a mausoleum for himself and his families. Later, he planned a cemetery holding over 1,000 graves which morphed into two cemeteries, one selling 284 plots to the public and the other for ten plots next to the first tee from himself and his family.

DDT already gets massive tax breaks at the club, $88,000 annually, with keeping eight goats and raising hay on 113 acres of the property. New Jersey cemeteries avoid taxes, rates, assessments, and personal property taxes as well as business taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and inheritance taxes. In 2016, the Trump Family Trust has tried to designate a property in Hackettstown (NJ), 20 miles from Bedminster, as a nonprofit company, but it won’t save them money. DDT annually pays $16.35 in taxes on the property, designated as a farm, that he bought for $461,000.

Richard Nixon did a better job honoring his dog, Checkers.

August 8, 2022

The News Doesn’t Stop – Search for DDT, More CPAC, Alex Jones, Toilets

When I started writing this blog over 11 years ago, a wise friend advised me not to put everything in the first few posts so I wouldn’t run out of material. Since then, Barack Obama was in office for eight years. But then came four years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after over a year of his campaigning. News has so filled the media that no one can ever run out information for any political blog. Today, I told my partner that the news might settle down this month because Congress went home to persuade people to vote for them. Yes, there are a few more primaries, but then Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) broke more news.

The FBI received a warrant to search DDT’s resort in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach (FL) while he summers at his northern home at his Bedminster (NY) residence and awaits a deposition for a lawsuit in his apartment at New York City’s Trump Tower. “They even broke into my safe,” DDT said. “My beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.”

DDT made his announcement the day after he teased a 2024 run for the president at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) summit. In a hypothetical matchup for the presidency, DDT trailed Biden, 41 percent to 44 percent, and 75 percent of Democrats prefer Biden not run for another term in 2024.Conviction of the federal crime to wrongly remove classified documents can keep the person from running for public office.

Currently, the DOJ has active investigations regarding DDT—wire fraud, attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, and the mishandling of classified documents, subject of the search. DDT took documents with him, some of them classified, after President Joe Biden’s inauguration and stored them in Mar-a-Lago’s basement. Previously, the National Archives reported that at least 15 boxes of White House records had been recovered from Mar-a-Lago, some of them classified, but more may still be there.

A search warrant, requiring two branches of the government, is issued when criminal investigators need to move quickly because sensitive materials might be moved, concealed, altered, or destroyed. It can be for a person’s residence, business, car, or other property.

Forty-eight years ago this day, Richard Nixon resigned his presidency. A month earlier, he visited Mar-a-Lago after he left the office, considering a move there.

Desperate to be re-elected—and possibly regain the House leadership—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) threatened Attorney General Merrick Garland for the search on DDT’s property. “I’ve seen enough.” McCarthy tweeted. “Preserve your documents and clear your calendar.” As usual, the party that claims to be the one of “law and order” accused attempts to find criminal actions to be “political” but still comparable to harassment of everyday citizens in Third World Countries, or “Banana Republic” as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis accused. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) compared the search to the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said nothing.

To compound DDT’s problems, Cushman & Wakefield, DDT’s real estate appraiser, turned over 36,000 documents after being held for contempt of court for refusing a subpoena. The judge lifted the $10,000-a-day fine for not complying. State AG Letitia James’ office reported “serious problems” with some of Cushman’s appraisals for the Trump Organization over the years, including 40 Wall Street, his Seven Springs property in New York, and his Los Angeles golf club. Earlier this year, the judge found DDT in contempt for refusing to provide information but lifted the charge after DDT convinced the court he couldn’t find the information and paid $110,000 in fines.

While the FBI searches for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, photos purportedly of more documents in toilets have emerged. The information about DDT trying to flush these down toilets at the White House have been circulating for six months, but the photos create a greater sense of reality for a completely absurd—but perhaps true—situation. Images on Axios show folded paper with DDT’s handwriting using a Sharpie submerged in various toilet bowls. The book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America by Maggie Haberman, New York Times White House correspondent, will have the images and more information when released in October. If true, the document dumps violate the Presidential Records Act.

Haberman reported DDT used these disposals many times at the White House and on at least two foreign trips. Haberman wrote that the toilet dumps are “an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.” Her book also reveals she was told that DDT has kept contact with North Korean president Kim Jong-un. One legible name in the photo, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), is a possible running mate for DDT in 2024. [Left, White House; right, overseas trip.]  

Topping off a really bad week for Alex Jones after he was found guilty of defamation regarding the Sandy Hook massacre and ordered to pay almost $50 million, the House January 6 investigative committee has his cellphone contents for the past three years. Those are the same contents he mistakenly sent to the plaintiffs’ attorney. According to the attorney, Mark Bankston, the texts include “intimate messages with Roger Stone,” DDT-aligned operative. Stone has several connections with the Oath Keepers, the far-right militia charged with orchestrating the violent plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. A major election-denier, Jones already sued the committee to block a subpoena for communications about his meeting the rally-goers intent on marching on the Capitol. Bankston said that “several law enforcement agencies” have also requested the phone data and intends to “immediately” comply with the requests. Roger Stone may be preparing a criminal defense or at least an excuse by claiming that Jones’ lawyer set him up.

The August 2022 CPAC has concluded, three days bracketed by two fascists, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and DDT. Orbán managed to outlie DDT, quite a feat considering DDT’s record. His false claims:

Zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, but he opposes race-mixing, and many of his close associates are anti-Semitic.

Stopped illegal migration with a wall that happens to be a wire fence and uses the “illegal migrants” to stir up fear so that he continues his control. Criminals can stay in the country if they purchase residency permits from his friends.

Prohibition of migration and sex education supported by Hungarians through referendums which were actually a simple questionnaire with loaded questions, ultimately invalid. Binding referendums must have 50 percent participation in an official vote.

Lower taxes in Hungary than in the remainder of Europe although the sales tax is 27 percent as well as thousands of small fees and other taxes for almost every economic transaction.

Support for families by six percent of the GDP, but really 1.3 percent, down from 2.5 percent in 1995.

CPAC’s memory will reverberate, however, through its political melodrama. Inside a cage, a barefoot man, dressed in orange jumpsuit and red MAGA hat, cried all day long in the Dallas convention center booth imitating a prison cell. Bluetooth headphones with the word “silence” were available for attendees who could listen to audio accounts from jailed January 6 defendants. Responders wept, threw money into the cage, and gave words of comfort and support to the man who wrote unhappy slogans on a blackboard, such as “Where Is Everyone?” 

Friday’s star was Brandon Straka, a 45-year-old self-proclaimed former liberal who founded #WalkAway, sponsor of the booth, a social media campaign encouraging Democrats to ditch their party for the GOP.  A gay man, the vocal “Stop the Steal” activist found himself in trouble with the government when he filmed himself on the steps of the Capitol on January 6 and encouraged the angry crowd to steal a police officer’s shield. He pled guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to 90 days of home detention, $5,000 fine, and three years probation. The public learned through mistakenly unsealed court documents that he had extensively cooperated with prosecutors and provided information to authorities about other Stop the Steal activists, including Ali Alexander, a leader in the movement.

Before putting himself in the cage, Straka berated Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on a panel, saying that he and the GOP didn’t do enough to help January 6 defendants. Riled audience members heckled and booed Biggs. The icing on Straka’s cake was the “jail guards” unlocking the cage to allow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA) inside where she hugged him and fell to her knees in front of him. They held hands and prayed.

Because of his plea deal, Straka didn’t spend any time in prison. The judge appreciated his “willingness to assist the government by providing complete and truthful information,” including at least one incriminating voicemail message he received from another conservative activist.

Straka may be back in a prison cell for real. The judge found Straka’s public comments made last week “inconsistent” with his statements in court. The DDT-appointed judge said Straka was “losing more and more credibility by the moment” and putting himself at risk of prosecution over possible lies to investigators.

And tomorrow is primary day in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Ten more states to go, with Louisiana have a free-for-all on November 8. Races not resulting in one person achieving over 50 percent of the vote return on December 10 for the run-off between the top two in the race.

I haven’t run out of ideas for the blog yet.

August 1, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 31, 2022

Alito Leads the Christian Nationalists

Last week, Rep. Marjorie Taylor (R-GA), a GOP leader, called on Republicans to rename themselves “The Christian Nationalist Party.” She said, “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.” In the past, Christian nationalists largely denied its existence or shouted name-calling if accused of the religious white supremacy. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) followed Greene by saying:

“The church is supposed to direct the government, the government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

Christian nationalists believe the myth that the U.S. was created as a “Christian nation,” that framers didn’t believe in neutrality in religion. The purpose of Christian nationalism is dividing the nation into “us v. them” with entitled White Christians controlling all governments and courts. The January 6 insurrectionist was a public example of the violence to obtain this privilege. The 2022 election has expanded the push toward Christian nationalism with candidates such as Doug Mastriano as a candidate for Pennsylvania’s governor.

When Greene ran for Congress in 2019, she attacked Muslim Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), accusing them of trying to impose “Sharia in America” and demanded they “go back to the Middle East.” No religious freedom there. Omar is a naturalized citizen from Somalia, and Tlaib was born in Detroit. Greene’s accusations violate the “freedom of religion” in the U.S. Constitution. Mastriano agrees with Greene in falsely claiming that elected Muslims “practice Sharia law” because they “respect neither the culture nor the rights of the original population.” Neither does he, because Native Americans, America’s indigenous peoples, did not practice Christianity.

Christian nationalism tries to enforce their belief that only White Christians have full rights, and the U.S. Supreme has gained a majority supporting that fascist belief. Justice Samuel Alito is leading the group to force his values on the entire nation. Last Thursday, he gave a political speech in Rome, supposedly about “religious liberty,” but ridiculing national opposition to his opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. In his writing, he went back to rulings from the 1200s to justify the rights of states to block all abortions, even one for a raped 10-year-old girl.

Justices now give faith-based speeches at faith-based events sponsored by faith-based parties who file briefs before the court. They have no obligation to publicize or record their speeches, but the University of Notre Dame released a video of his speech. To Alito, secularism is a threat to religious freedom although authors of the Constitution created a secular government with religious liberty. Alito’s justification for forcing religion on people is that an increasing percentage of the population is rejecting it.

In his speech, Alito attacked world readers to get cheap laughs about people who don’t meet his high “religious” standards. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed disappointment at Alito’s faulty ruling and opinion in eliminating abortion in the U.S., and the European Union’s parliament formally condemned the reversal of protections for this reproductive healthcare after the SCOTUS ruling of Roe v. Wade a half century ago. Alito sarcastically said that Johnson “paid the price” with his criticism by his resignation from the position, which had nothing to do with his comments about the supreme Court ruling.

Alito decried the “growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.” When he complained almost two years ago about safety restrictions precautions during the pandemic, his political speech railed against marriage equality, contraception, reproductive rights, and five Democratic senators. Last fall, Alito criticized U.S. journalists,Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CO) said that “judges turning into political actors, giving speeches attacking journalists, is terrible for the court and terrible for democracy.” 

Instead of a “new moral code,” however, the United States “has more non-Christian people to question the implied, often systemic primacy of Christian values and rules in American society,” wrote Philip Bump. He compared the change to the increase of non-White people who may be skeptical of a society in the U.S. that advantages Whites.  The “new code” which Alito sneers at, is recognition of people long excluded from power. This is the threat to Alito’s “traditional” beliefs.

Since Alito got on the Supreme Court, thanks to George W. Bush, he has followed the evangelical policy of denying rights to women. In 2007, he ruled against Lily Ledbetter’s lawsuit that Goodyear was guilty of pay discrimination by giving men higher wages than women for the same type of job. Ledbetter discovered the discrimination in 1998 and filed an EEOC complaint, and Alito stated that she should have followed the law by filing her claim within 180 days after he first paycheck. She filed as soon as she discovered, after nine years, the disparity, but Alito didn’t care. 

Known for rolling his eyes at female justices during oral arguments, Alito belonged to Concerned Alumni of Princeton, formed from outrage for women being admitted to the university. Appointed to the 3rd Circuit Court by Ronald Reagan, Alito argued that women must tell their husbands before having an abortion, indifferent to the possibility of domestic violence. He used the justification that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor held that position although she joined the ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that “women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry.” Angry about Casey’s reference to “undue burden” permitting abortions, Alito threw out the possibility of any abortions. His argument is that regulating abortion is not a “sex-based classification” of the sort that would trigger heightened constitutional scrutiny merely because it’s a “medical procedure that only one sex can undergo.”

During Alito’s speech, he took umbrage that he witnessed a young boy in Berlin ask who Jesus was, which he described as ignorance about religion. He described it as a “growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.” Thus  he makes Christianity is mandatory although Christians comprise under one-third of the people in the world. Alito’s speech was the emphasis on demanding all people being religious (aka Christian).  Quoting St. Augustine, he said, “Our hearts are restless until we rest in God.”

On the same day as Alito’s speech, Justice Elena Kagan warned that the hard-right majority of justices risks destroying the court’s legitimacy. At a conference in Montana, she said,

“I’m not talking about any particular decision or even any particular series of decisions, but if over time the court loses all connection with the public and with public sentiment, that’s a dangerous thing for a democracy. People are rightly suspicious if one justice leaves the court or dies and another justice takes his or her place and all of sudden the law changes on you.”

After the six Supremes removed women’s right to abortions, confidence in SCOTUS fell to 25 percent in a conservative Gallup poll. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called Alito’s speech an “embarrassment to the Supreme Court.” Lieu tweeted:

“He doesn’t understand there are different religions in America. What makes America great is that we let you practice your faith, change your faith or have no faith at all. Some religions support abortion, some don’t.”

Norm Ornstein, Emeritus scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote:

“Alito is not just a partisan hack. He is the leader of this partisan and reckless court, and he is a clear and present danger to our basic system of governance and of justice.”

Samantha Marcotte tried to explain how Alito was wrong in why people abandon religion, that it has occurred because of evangelicals’ opposition to expanded rights for all regardless of race, gender, sex, and sexuality:

“If Republicans want to know who is to blame for young people abandoning the church in droves, they should look in the mirror. The more both Republicans and the Christian establishment reject these basic rights, the more they can expect to be rejected themselves, especially by younger people.”

Instead of protecting religious freedom, Alito wants to impose his religion on everyone as a baseline of morality and public policy. He ignores any separation of church and state but instead expresses rage and disgust that society shifts away from the beliefs that he wants to be central to society. His treatment of those presenting cases in his court displays a personal belief that they are all fools or idiots—Republicans in the first group and liberal justices disagreeing with in the second.

Both Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas lead the charge to do away with rights by appearing to keep them—just making them much harder to achieve. In the case of blocking abortion, they turned it into states’ rights with about 60 percent of the states determined to block the procedure and going so far as to prevent pregnant women from cross state lines and perhaps even execute women who obtain abortions. In Miranda, people must still be read their rights—if they know enough to ask for them; people can’t sue police for not receiving a Miranda warning. Criminal defendants can’t challenge convictions for bad legal help with lawyers missing deadlines for appeals.

In the past, sane people held out a hope that Congress could protect them from Christian Nationalists; now the Supreme Court will not be protecting the law.

April 22, 2022

Republicans’ Lies Catching Up with them

Thursday’s news will guarantee placement of the book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future at the top of bestseller lists when it comes out on May 3. Authors Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin promise tapes to prove the contents of the book, and the first one came out today, showing the lies House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told about a telephone call to DDT following January 6, 2021.

McCarthy denied he ever made the call, but he is heard on the audio tape of the telephone call to say, “I’ve had it with this guy” and that DDT’s remarks before the attack were “not right by any shape or any form.” In a separate call on January 10, McCarthy told his colleagues he would recommend that DDT resign immediately. “What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it,” McCarthy said.

In a speech after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, McCarthy had called DDT’s actions “atrocious and totally wrong” in his acknowledgment that DDT “incit(ed] people” to attack the Capitol to block the Electoral College certification of the presidential win for Joe Biden. Before the end of January, McCarthy groveled to his leader and posed with DDT for a photo-op at Mar-a-Lago.

More dish in the book describes then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) recommending action against Trump while privately talking with his colleagues. They concluded that impeachment would solve their problems. “The Democrats are going to take care of the son of a bitch for us” through impeachment, McConnell said and claimed that enough GOP senators would go with the Democrats. He even hinted that he would go along with them. “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is,” McConnell said.

Immediately after the insurrection, McConnell clearly blamed DDT for the violence when he said the insurrectionists “did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth—because he was angry he’d lost an election.” McConnell was lying about voting for the impeachment, and he delayed the impeachment process to make the trial finish after DDT left the White House. That gave Republicans the excuse to vote against conviction. Now McConnell maintains he’ll vote for DT if he runs in 2024.

In private, McCarthy and McConnell also talked about wanting to ban GOP lawmakers from Twitter in opposition to McCarthy’s public complaints about Republican congressional members being barred.

McCarthy has a history of lying about his statements after they have been leaked. A month before DDT was selected as the GOP presidential candidate in 2020, McCarthy, speaking with other GOP leaders, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was paying DDT. The tape shows then House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) shutting him down and swearing the Republicans to secrecy. A short time before McCarthy’s revelation, he and Ryan had met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who told them about Russia’s policy of paying populist politicians to undermine Eastern European democracies. When people laughed at McCarthy’s statement, he said, “Swear to God.” Ryan ordered, “No leaks… This is how we know we’re a real family here.” McCarthy first denied it happened but when faced with the tape said it was a joke.

After supporting DDT for keeping congressionally-approved weapons from going to Ukraine, McCarthy now blames Biden for not sending weapons to Ukraine early enough. Putin likely felt more comfortable for invading Ukraine as he works to put Republicans back into power, and McCarthy is helping him. In response to McCarthy’s complaints, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:

“We sent a record amount of security assistance to Ukraine during President Biden’s first year in office—more than any other president in history. That’s in direct contrast with our predecessor who withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid from Ukraine, including Javelins, which Mr. McCarthy, who was critical of us in this moment, defended at the time as, quote, ‘the rightful thing to do’ because he claimed people believed there was corruption in the Zelensky administration. So, I don’t know if that’s a question for us as much as a question for him—what has changed in that period of time?”

Since Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. provided over $3.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, including $2.6 billion since the start of the war. Another $800 million package was announced this week. Knowing the Russian threat, the U.S. military drew from its weapons stocks to supply Ukraine in the fall of 2021 and approved another $200 million in aid in December. McCarthy hopes blaming Biden will give the House a GOP majority in 2023 as well as getting him the position of House Speaker. Biden has been walking a fine line to provide aid to Ukraine with starting World War III.

Mike Lee also struggles with evidence of his lies. On January 6, 2021, after the insurrectionists were driven out of the U.S. Capitol, Lee declared to all the congressional members present that they shouldn’t question the votes presented by the electoral college. He said, “Our job is to open and then count — open, then count. That’s it.” Those comments were in contrast to the his texts for almost two months when he tried to overturn the election. He was part of the conspiracy to keep DDT in the White House. He claimed he refused the plot, but the texts show the great efforts he made to go around the constitution. All he wanted in the investigations was to “make this legitimate,” not to get any real evidence. In the days before January 6, Lee frantically called states to get alternative slates of electors for DDT, part of the conspiracy.

Lee is in so deep in trouble with the publication of his texts that he’s hiding from the media and refuses to answer any questions. This weekend is Utah’s GOP nominating convention where the state’s congressional members are expected to be present. As conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote:

“If Lee had acted ethically and in accordance with his oath, he should have no compunction about taking questions. Instead, the [Salt Lake City] Tribune reports, “Approached by a Salt Lake Tribune reporter at the Summit County Republican Party Convention in Kamas, Lee staffers blocked access to the senator.’ (Lee’s behavior is unacceptable, but so is that of aides, who are employed and paid by taxpayers. They are not Lee’s private security force.)”

Featuring another congressional liar, a court hearing in which Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) must defend her role of the insurrection on January 6 under oath in a hearing that begins tomorrow, April 22, at 6:30 EST. She allegedly helped plan and support the attack and argued for violence to keep DDT in the White House. The hearing will be broadcast on YouTube and Facebook.

The question is whether Greene should be removed from the ballot according to Article 3 of the constitution’s 14th Amendment:

“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

While on a lower court, Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed with the majority ruling to keep candidates off the ballot who fail to meet constitutional requirements. Originally written to keep former Confederate soldiers from taking power in the government after the Civil War, it was largely ignored until the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Greene called January 6 “our 1776 moment” and said:

“You can’t allow it to just transfer power ‘peacefully’ like Joe Biden wants and allow him to become our president because he did not win this election. He’s guilty of treason. It’s a crime punishable by death is what treason is. Nancy Pelosi is guilty of treason.”

In a meltdown, Greene said about the use of the constitution in the hearing:

“They are literally, ah, using, uh, uh, like a loophole in our, in our laws and they’re challenging my candidacy.”

The hearing doesn’t stop Greene’s re-election campaign, but it prevents a federal court from granting lawyers the ability to avoid a court hearing by asking Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to instead make a decision. A DDT-appointed judge had turned down citizens’ requests to have hearings on Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) on the grounds of the 1872 Amnesty Act to protect Confederates, but Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that the act did not apply to future insurrectionists. She explained that “shall have engaged” in Article 3 is the future perfect tense and the Amnesty Act uses only the past tense.

Even if Greene isn’t dropped from the ballot, the process means that candidates involved in the insurrection can be questioned under oath in open court. Those opposing the use of the 14th Amendment in disqualifying insurrectionists for candidacy claim that it’s wrong because it’s never been used before. Never before, have people physically attacked the U.S. Capitol to block a presidential election with some congressional members calling for violence.

December 31, 2021

2021: A Year of Denial

The past tumultuous year has largely been marked by insurrection, inauguration, and infections—all major event which Republicans denied. Within a month after January 6, GOP congressional members were either silent about the attack by supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) on the U.S. Capitol or they denied any violence by the people they called “tourists” despite five dead people and 140 wounded—many in law enforcement. Some naysayers still falsely accuse the “antifa” (literally anti-fascists) for the unprecedented desecration by domestic terrorists. Also overlooked is the attempt to overturn the election by 147 congressional members who challenged legal electoral votes after the attack and mostly continue to support the “Big Lie” of a “stolen” election. That leadership, plus DDT’s unremitting similar claims, results in 71 percent of Republicans declaring Biden is not their president. 

Denial of the inauguration matches the denial of the insurrection as DDT and his supporters continue their march to a coup by declaring DDT the “true” president. Violent militia members use denial of Joe Biden as the legally elected president in their supposed “First Amendment” rights in court cases—a defense struck down by even DDT-appointed and GOP-confirmed judges. The abject fear of losing elections has led to 19 states passing 33 new voter-suppression laws, not only turning the voting process over to Republicans but also giving legislatures the right to change legal state ballot counts if the election officials don’t fall in line with the party. These laws have accompanied a huge spate of threats to election officials, who then resigned. To illustrate the severe national polarization, at least 25 states enacted 62 laws to expand voting access.

Big judicial cases dominated much of the year. The cases of three killed Black men brought three convictions: the police officer who killed George Floyd, a police officer who “accidentally” killed Daunte Wright, and three men who killed Ahmaud Abrey. After a police officer received “immunity” for killing a schizophrenic man by kneeling on his neck for 14 minutes in 2016, the family finally has the right to take the case to civil court. Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of federal sex trafficking after recruiting and grooming teenage girls sexually abused by her former boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison.

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two men and wounded another while gunning for them, was acquitted and became a far-right hero.  DDT escaped conviction in his second impeachment trial, going on to control the GOP—much to the dismay of most Republicans. Now he’s bilking GOP donors to pay for his ongoing criminal cases. 

Upcoming court cases will include those for a teenage boy who shot and killed four classmates and injured another seven while his parents have been charged with abetting his actions. This horrific event was one of almost 700 mass shootings during the year in the United States.

As cases and deaths from COVID skyrocket, conservatives, especially Christian evangelists, deny both the effectiveness of vaccines and the existence of huge numbers of people suffering and dying from the coronavirus. With his desire to live in the White House, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has tried to block every public health policy to keep people safer, including his fight to permit cruise ships to land at his docks. This past week, Florida had its highest level of COVID cases, 31,758 new infections, since the pandemic started in February 2020 and its third COVID outbreak on a Florida-based cruise ship. In the past two weeks, cruise ships in U.S. waters reported 5,013 COVID cases, up from 162 cases during the previous two weeks. Overall, the U.S. has 265,000 reported cases average for a week, up 60 percent from the previous week. Only 62 percent of people in the U.S. have been vaccinated. Yesterday, the U.S. experienced 572,019 infections with 1,362 deaths.

Denial of climate change has led to more horrific disasters in 2021 with fires, the most recent one this December described as the worst one in Colorado’s history and tornadoes, the deadliest one in history and staying on the ground for a 250-mile swath, earlier in December.

The so-called “culture wars” are leading to states passing laws against the non-existent teaching of “critical race theory,” expanding into a censorship of curriculum and library books not seen for decades. School boards are calling for the burning of books about racism and LGBTQ rights issues or being physically threatened and attacked for not following the wishes of “parents,” sometimes childless violent protesters who don’t live in the districts.

The worst denial for the year is how well Biden is administering. Immediately after his inauguration, he used the Defense Production Act to purchase more vaccines and coordinate the transportation to states. The project would have been a success except for the concerted effort of Republicans to remain unvaccinated, partly to thwart any achievement on the part of Democrats. As vaccinations waned from GOP opposition, mandates issued by Biden and government entities were sent to courts where several of them were overturned by DDT-appointed judges. When death rates for Republicans tripled those for Democrats, even before the Omicron variant, conservatives blamed Biden for not stopping the disease that the GOP made worse by rejecting vaccinations.

Throughout the year, Biden worked to improve the economy with the successes—and problems—described in yesterday’s post. The U.S. would be in even better shape if Republicans, aided by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) had not blocked the second infrastructure bill by denying that people needed any money. With no or almost no GOP votes, Biden succeeded in moving three must-pass bills through Congress in December: the budget, the increase in the debt ceiling, and the military appropriations bills.

The biggest problem this year would be if Congress had not increased the amount permitted to cover the nation’s debts, raised $7.8 trillion by Republicans and DDT during his four-year term. Republican senators use the filibuster, a requirement of 60 percent approval to debate a bill, for all major Democratic bills, but knew the country could not default on its debt. To these senators, the filibuster is sacred—unless they want something—so they waived the filibuster this one time while not one of them voted to increase the debt ceiling. Again, a denial that the filibuster is really necessary unless Republicans say it is. The GOP-permitted debt ceiling increase of a paltry $2.5 trillion is good only until 2023 when Republicans hope to control Congress.

With no discussion of inflation or debt ceiling, the military appropriations bill passed at $25 billion higher than Biden and the Pentagon requested while protecting Saudi Arabia. Congress tacked on 12 additional F/A-18 Super Hornets, five extra Boeing F-15EX jets than the request for 17 total, and five more ships including two attack submarines and two destroyers. The president can also declare war, in opposition to the Constitution. The $768 billion, over four times the request in the Build Back Better bill, takes 65 percent of the budget’s discretionary spending. Once again, denial for domestic needs because of funding for “the military-industrial complex,” something President Dwight Eisenhower warned about 63 years ago.  

Unlike the military appropriations bill, the general budget faced a rocky road because Republicans, like Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) who was formerly Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) chief of staff, wanted to block the bill in his effort to stop Biden’s vaccine mandates. Not funding the United States would close down the nation like many other GOP shutdowns. Roy’s idea received traction from the Senate with Mike Lee (R-UT) leading the charge. Eventually, the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open until another showdown on February 18, 2022, passed the House with only one GOP vote, Illinois’ Adam Kinsinger.

QAnon Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), most recently known for her idea that people moving from blue states to red states should be fined and blocked from voting, gave her rationale for a shutdown vote—“The people in here cannot control themselves.” Eleven months before her win in a solidly red district, Greene moved there from a district electing a Democrat. 

In attempts to salvage the U.S. standing in the world, where the nation fell to a “flawed democracy” for the first time, Biden worked to revive the Iran nuclear agreement while rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization. As Russian president Vladimir Putin threatens the autonomy of Ukraine, Biden is communicating to stop the giant power—and prevent a world war.

After the U.S. occupied Afghanistan for 20 years following George W. Bush’s preemptive war against the country, Biden fulfilled past promises to pull troops out of the country—much to the dismay of all the people who had demanded the administration follow through with the promises. Once again, conservatives denied that DDT had made a deal with the Taliban for doing this and left only 2,500 military members in the country.

In the corporate world, Mark Zuckerberg changed his company name to “Meta,” trying to deny the bad press he received from helping destroy people’s lives with “Facebook” as reported by whistleblowers. Thus far no one seems to have noticed the name change. AT&T was outed as the bankroller for One America News Network (OANN), which Salon called “one of the most corrosive news channels in America.” AT&T denied their actions which were backed by evidence. Caught in a Greenpeace sting, two Exxon lobbyists openly admitted the company had blocked effective climate action and bragged about using the American Petroleum Institute as Exxon’s “whipping boys.” Exxon CEO Darren Woods denied the comments.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve. You can top off the year with these holiday songs. 

October 11, 2021

Celebrations on October 11, 2021

For the first time in U.S. history, a president turned from the tired trope of Columbus discovering America and officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Last Friday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation “to honor Native Americans, their resilience and their contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide spanning generations,” according to NPR’s Emma Bowman. Mandy Van Heuvelen, the cultural interpreter coordinator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from South Dakota, said commemoration of the day can be through reflection, recognition, celebration, and education.

In his proclamation for Columbus Day, Biden stated:

“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past—that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.” 

The first proposal for an Indigenous People’s Day occurred at a 1977 UN conference to address discrimination against Natives, and in 1989 South Dakota was the first state to replace the traditional Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. To date, another 13 states and over 100 cities celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, a federal holiday. Other states such as California, Maine, Ohio and Maine have proposed legislation to legally replace the holiday, and some states, including California, Tennessee, and Washington state, celebrate Native American Day in September or November.

The celebration of Christopher Columbus, rapist, enslaver, and murderer who landed in the Bahamas and abused its natives, began in 1792 but was formally politicized in 1892 when President Benjamin Harrison wanted support from Italian Americans. The year before, rioters in New Orleans lynched 11 Italian immigrants in anti-immigrant discrimination after the murder of a police chief. Italy recalled its ambassador in Washington and broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S. After nine months, Harrison called the murders “a most deplorable and discreditable incident”; five months later he paid a $25,000 indemnity, now worth $760,000, to survivors of three victims who were citizens of Italy. Harrison encouraged Congress to celebrate Columbus in a one-time holiday on October 21 in 1892.

In 1934, Congress, lobbied by the Knights of Columbus, authorized President Franklin D. Roosevelt to declare October 12 officially recognizing Columbus Day. Thirty Native Americans in San Francisco protested, and the leader, wearing a Chippewa tribe ceremonial headdress, called Columbus Day a day of mourning for Indians until “we are given the same opportunity to achieve the same social, economic and educational levels as the rest of those who call themselves Americans.” President Lyndon Johnson signed off on Columbus Day as a federal holiday in 1968 to be effective in 1971.

Italian Celia Viggo Wexler explained why Christopher Columbus is not a good role model for herself and all other Italians:

“[Looking for a fast route to China, Columbus] landed in the Bahamas and encountered the Taino people. When he met them, he wrote in his journal that these peaceful Indigenous people had the makings of ‘good servants’ and put them to work mining gold–and facing amputation or death if they came up short. (Columbus was personally entitled to 10 percent of the booty; the rest went to Spain.) Later, he would ship thousands of Taino back to Spain to be sold into slavery, while the diseases the explorers brought decimated the tribe…

“As governor of the West Indies, he imposed such brutal punishments on anyone who got in his way—including the Spanish colonists who tried to defy or belittle him—he was sacked by his royal backers and returned to Spain…

“If I were to nominate a new role model for Italians, it would be Mother Frances Cabrini, an Italian immigrant who in 1946 became the first U.S. citizen to be named a saint. Cabrini, like many immigrants, faced many obstacles and a lack of resources when she arrived, but persevered to help immigrants across the country. It was her work in the American West that prompted Colorado to designate the first Monday in October as Cabrini Day, replacing the state observance of the Columbus Day holiday…

“Columbus never found the route to China and India he was seeking. We shouldn’t make our own wrong turn by continuing to honor his memory.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), removed from all House committees after her strong advocacy of QAnon conspiracy theories, celebrated Columbus Day with this tweet: “Happy Colombus Day!” Happy Grene Day to her.

The homophobic lawmaker failed to wish people “Happy Coming Out Day.” October 11 is also the day encouraging LGBTQ people to come out to friends and family. Biden did remember and released a statement:

“Today and every day, I want every member of the LGBTQ+ community to know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.” 

In his statement, Biden described his efforts to advance LGBTQ rights and areas still needing work, with promises that he will continue his attempt to make life equal for LGBTQ people. The full statement

In 1988, LGBTQ activists Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary founded the day on the anniversary of the second “National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights” in 1987. About one-half million people attend the march in 1987 to demand equality and fairness for people in LGBTQIA+ communities and groups. Organizers of the first march in 1979 identified the Five Demands:

  • Pass a comprehensive lesbian/gay rights bill in Congress.
  • Issue a presidential executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Federal Government, the military, and federally-contracted private employment.
  • Repeal all anti-lesbian/gay laws.
  • End discrimination in lesbian mother and gay father custody cases.
  • Protect gay and lesbian youth from any laws which are used to discriminate against, oppose and/or harass them in their homes, schools, jobs, and social environments.

Following marches occurred in 1993, 2000, and 2009. This year, the 33rd  annual Coming Out Day celebrates the theme “Born to Shine.” Expressing an LGBTQ+ identity takes courage.Thanks to people brave enough to come out, more and more LGBTQ people have some rights in many countries around the world.

In another form of bravery, Republicans or former Republicans have op-eds in the New York Times and the Washington Post trying to save democracy in the United States by encouraging GOP members to vote Democratic until the current authoritarian movement has lost its shine. Miles Taylor, a member of the Department of Homeland Security during the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), used the name Anonymous when he wrote a critical column about DDT in 2018. Christine Whitman, New Jersey governor from 1994 to 2001, headed George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency. They wrote that “rational Republicans” are losing the GOP’s “civil war” and concluded that Republicans must join Democrats to block Trumpism through electing moderate and “honorable” Democrats to regain the Congress. Unlike the current GOP leadership, they ask Republicans to put country over party and specified several Democrats they support.

Max Boot, a conservative Russian-American specialist in foreign affairs, wrote:

“I’m no Democrat—but I’m voting exclusively for Democrats to save our democracy. I’m a single-issue voter. My issue is the fate of democracy in the United States. Simply put, I have no faith that we will remain a democracy if Republicans win power. Thus, although I’m not a Democrat, I will continue to vote exclusively for Democrats—as I have done in every election since 2016—until the GOP ceases to pose an existential threat to our freedom.”

Boot described the “dueling” reports from the Senate Judiciary Committee about DDT’s attempts to overturn the election by pushing former acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to back the claim of a “stolen” election. According to Boot, the Democrats’ report was evidence-based; the Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), maintained DDT didn’t abuse his office because he didn’t really replace Rosen. Grassley turned from condemning DDT in January to groveling for his endorsement last week, and DDT didn’t replace Rosen because the DOJ leadership threated to resign in mass protest.

As in DDT’s first campaign, the mainstream media is largely ignoring the danger DDT presents to the nation. Such an attitude could get him elected in 2024, and Republicans loyal to the United States want to block him. Maria Ressa, winner of a 2021 Nobel Peace Prize described the problem with journalism in the U.S. as it fails to protect democracy:  

“[Disinformation] is how you transform a democracy. This is death by a thousand cuts. …The goal of influence operations or information operations is to seed it, repeat it, incite hate and…change the way real people think, and that impacts the real world. This is happening all around the world. That’s what the research has shown us, that’s what the data shows us.” 

Happy Coming Out Day and Indigenous People’s Day! And vote Democratic.

September 1, 2021

GOP Fights Privacy, Liberty

Vigilante law is alive and well now in Texas, thanks for the GOP majority on the state legislator and the GOP Gov. Greg Abbott. The political party claiming “it’s my body” about mandates on vaccines and privacy and who shouts “small government” now permits anyone, even a priest or pastor, who has the slightest connection to a woman having an abortion after six weeks—even listening to her talk about the possibility—can be sued by anyone in the world. Texas knows that its new law would be overturned as unconstitutional if it were enforced by government officials so the state turned the work over to the general public. And the lawsuit can be in any Texas jurisdiction.

Defendants must pay each winner of civil lawsuits against them $10,000 and legal costs for any case against them. The anti-abortion Texas Right to Life established a website for people to anonymously report rumors of illegal abortions and allow volunteers to launch cases as plaintiffs. Anyone can sue, even if they don’t have firsthand knowledge of the abortion in the lawsuit they can file up to four years after the supposed violation of the law.

Abortions after six weeks are legal in cases of medical emergencies but not for rape or incest. Legal defenses prevent abortion providers from arguing the law is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs have nothing to lose by filing lawsuits because they have no charges. The result will be endlessly streaming allegations.

The law went into effect at 12:01 am September 1 after the Supreme Court, known for many immediate emergency actions to keep people infecting others in churches, briefly ignored an emergency appeal. Later in the day, five conservative justices—three of them belonging to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT)—refused to block the law during a legal battle. A U.S. district court judge had set a hearing for September 6 to consider blocking the law, but the 5th Circuit Court called it off. Chief Justice John Roberts, joining the three progressives, called the Texas law “not only unusual but unprecedented.”

In a “shadow docket” decision with no briefs or arguments, the Supreme Court has also recently ended a national ban on evictions to help people in the pandemic and set immigration policy by ordering the current administration to reinstate DDT’s policy forcing asylum seekers to stay outside the U.S. borders.

The Texas law prevents abortions after cardiac activity in the fetus, as early as six weeks after conception and before women know they are pregnant. This statute doesn’t help prevent unplanned abortions, support children and pregnant women, or provide any resources to families. It simply drives desperate women to obtain dangerous, illegal abortions.

Even before this law went into effect, Texas required useless sonograms, explanations by abortion providers about the image, and a state-mandated booklet with falsehoods about fetal development and adoption. The patient must then wait another 24 hours before the procedure because the males who introduced, voted for, and signed the law believe women are too emotional to make appropriate decisions. The new law banning abortion after six weeks will also force women to leave the state for their medical help, making it available only to those wealthy enough to arrange the travel.

Throughout the U.S., GOP-led state legislatures have enacted restrictive laws, many of them blocked. In the fall, the Supreme Court will consider Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks in an attempt to overturn Roe. As indicated on the map, many states passed “trigger bills” to immediately outlaw all abortions in their jurisdictions if Roe is overturned.  

The new law may have greater ranging impacts than just blocking abortions. The 1973 Roe v. Wade, stating women have the right to have abortions, upholds personal decisions with the ruling that the state does not uphold a specific ideology. If the Texas law is not overturned, it sets a precedent for state-level regulation of these personal and private decisions. Ending an unwanted pregnancy does not cause others any physical, financial, and social harm as refusal to wear a mask can.

Roe v. Wade is an example of individual and/or family decisions permitted by the government; i.e., disability rights, opportunity to send children to religiously affiliated schools or homeschool them, and contraceptive use. The anti-vax and anti-mask movement will not benefit if the government can take over their privacy. The abortion-right Supreme Court decision protects privacy and liberty under the 14th Amendment’ Due Process Clause, interpreted as privacy as a part of liberty. It also mandates the ideology that only one theory of the beginning of life can be legal in the United States although religions and individuals differ in this belief. 

Jewish law purports a fetus is not alive and abortion is health care, both psychological and physical.  Presbyterians, who admit they don’t know when life begins, ask followers to make their own decision, and pro-choice Unitarians believe in the value of both life and the quality of life. During most of its history, the Catholic Church declared “quickening,” the first time the pregnant woman feels a fetal movement at about 18 weeks, as the beginning of life. Overturning abortion removes the right to plan a family, and the Texas law could lead to reversing the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut, upholding the right of married couples to obtain contraceptives.

The purpose of the Texas law is to save a fetus. This philosophy could lead to the law mandating the saving of other lives, possibly those who need an organ transplant. The government might allow people to sue if they heard about a person who refused to donate a kidney or a sliver of a liver to save another person’s life.

Texas Republicans also passed a draconian anti-voting bill this past week. Satirist Andy Borowitz combined both anti-freedom laws in one column, “New Law Requires Texans to Have Counselling Before Being Allowed to Vote”:

Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill requiring all Texans to submit to counselling before being allowed to vote.

The law mandates a counselling session and a twenty-four-hour waiting period before a voter is permitted to cast a ballot, Abbott explained.

“Many people who think that voting is something they have to do haven’t gotten all of the information available to them,” he said. “There are many alternatives to voting, including not voting.”

“Sometimes, a person is upset with their situation and thinks that voting is the only answer,” the Governor said. “A counsellor can sit with them, pray with them, and help them make the right choice.”

Answering critics who claim that the twenty-four-hour waiting period is designed to keep voters from casting their ballots in a timely fashion, Abbott said, “All we’re trying to do is make sure that voting is the right decision for them. Every day, I hear from people who voted for me who say that they’ll regret that decision for the rest of their lives.”

A third Texas GOP law permits people to carry guns without either permits or training. Law officials are concerned the statute will increase crime rates and endanger police. Among Texas voters, 59 percent oppose the new law.

After violating privacy and liberty in a Texas law, other Republicans are threatening big business if they don’t do what the GOP wants. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has threatened any of the 35 tech and telecom firms complying with a request to preserve information related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He said:

“If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

He didn’t explain which law would be violated if they keep the information. Rep. Eric Swalwell called for a DOJ investigation into McCarthy’s threats, describing them “a clear obstruction of justice.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) created the January 6 investigation committee after McCarthy and other Republicans blocked an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the attack and attempt to overturn the election. Requested information includes “metadata, subscriber information, technical usage information, and content of communications for the listed individuals.” The committee also asked for preservation of information about people “involved in organizing, funding, or speaking” at January’s “Stop the Steal” rallies and those “potentially involved with discussions of plans to challenge, delay, or interfere” with the electoral certification process.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) amplified McCarthy’s message by declaring companies will be “shut down” if they give the Republicans’ data to the January 6 commission. Both Greene and McCarthy may appear in the data. Promising to close down private businesses for preserving these records, Republicans on conservative media called the request an authoritarian overreach. Promises to punish businesses for something GOP lawmakers don’t like moves the party toward big government and its own authoritarianism by eliminating liberty for private companies and individuals.

Admiration for the Taliban is growing among DDT’s supporters as they plan use the group’s ability to take over Afghanistan as a model for the GOP extremists to take over the United States.

And so the GOP’s big government opposes liberty and freedom.

August 13, 2021

GOP Promotes COVID, Commit Voter Fraud

When Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was in the White House, he had no ventilators to send states. The “cupboards” were empty because of President Obama, he said, although the crisis began three years after DDT was inaugurated. After DDT finally obtained supplies, he sent them primarily to GOP states or places where he could guarantee over-the-edge praise for him. Six months after Joe Biden became president, he sent 200 ventilators and 100 high-flow nasal annual kits to Florida, the state with 20 percent of all U.S. new infections, over 24,000 new Florida infections of yesterday’s over 144,000 new infections just yesterday. The U.S. now has over 37 million recorded cases and at least 635,257 deaths in under 18 months.

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis said he doesn’t know anything about any requests for help or any emergencies in his state, but Savannah Kelly, spokesperson for the state hospital association, said the “unprecedented level of patients” requires more ventilators. Florida hospitals reached a high of 13,435 hospital beds, over one-third more than the high on July 23, 2020, are used for COVID, including 3,112 intensive-care beds. 

Angry about school officials protecting children through mask mandates, DeSantis threatened to remove their salaries if they did. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said if DeSantis follows through the American Rescue Plan could provide salaries. DeSantis had issued an executive order preventing any public or private sector in the state from requiring mask wearing or social distancing. The threat to block salaries from officials of schools mandating masks didn’t last long: DeSantis admitted he has no control over their salaries. He could fine schools, but some school superintendents stated they are more concerned about public health than DeSantis’ GOP political agenda. To the governor’s threats, Alachua County School Superintendent Carlee Simon explained in a Washington Post op-ed

“As our school board chair has so aptly put it, better a loss of funding than a loss of lives.”

DeSantis has been named in two lawsuits for his ban of mask mandates in schools. One comes from a coalition of large counties accusing the governor of violating the state constitution requiring a “uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality system” of public schools. The suit claims defendants “cannot legally deny … basic human needs for health and safety.” The Disability Independence legal services group is representing another group of parents protesting the withholding of state funds from schools not complying with his anti-mask mandate. A news release about the case asserted “politics do not override the ability for a child to go to school without risk of serious injury of death.”

In Texas, where Gov. Gregg Abbott issued the same ban as DeSantis, county judge ruled San Antonio and Bexar County can require masks in public schools and municipal buildings. The order lasts a few days until plaintiffs return to court for a longer extension.

Republicans’ “free market” beliefs disappeared with COVID laws. Florida prevents private businesses from requiring vaccinations for customers, and Texas has a new law blocking restaurants and bars from mandating at least one COVID vaccination for indoor diners. The law removes state licenses for any vaccination requirements. Republicans protect businesses from denying services to LGBTQ people but are outraged at any denial of service for public health. Steve Benen’s conclusion: “business owners who make choices Republicans don’t like should expect punishment. 

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has been the most virulent perpetrator of vaccine denial. Turns out his wife, Kelley Paul, bought stock in Gilead Sciences making a drug to treat COVID-19 just as people started to die from the disease in late February 2020—and he didn’t disclose the information for 16 months after the 45-day reporting deadline in the Stock Act prohibiting insider trading for federal employees. Unfortunately for Kelley Paul, the stock in the company making remdesivir is now worth about $5 per share than the purchase, but Rand Paul, a member of the Senate health committee, has told his constituents to refuse to be vaccinated. Paul attended no briefings on COVID and was the first U.S. senator to test positive for the coronavirus. The man regularly lying about COVID said he didn’t know the form wasn’t submitted. [Rand and Kelley Paul in 2017]

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) outrageous disinformation about COVID caused YouTube to suspend him for a week. That ban was joined by Twitter who suspended Rep. Marjorie Greene (R-GA) for a week after she lied about “failing” and ineffective vaccines. This is Greene’s third Twitter suspension; her current argument against vaccinations is that “we can’t live forever.”

Greene is also using her wealth to hire a lawyer in a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her mask mandate. Her choice of attorney, Chris Wiest, was earlier suspended by the Ohio and Kentucky bar associations for insider trading. Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Ralph Norman (R-SC) have joined Greene in the suit for “freedom.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is fundraising off these shirts, an ideal gift for people who have died or are hospitalized from COVID. 

According to three scholars from a Swiss university, watching Fox causes people under 65 years old to refuse vaccinations:

“Watching one additional hour of Fox News per week ‘accounts for a reduction of 0.35 to 0.76 weekly full vaccinations per 100 people’ in May and June.”

This study supports research at the beginning of the pandemic, that Fox viewers are more likely to subscribe to conspiracy theories that CDC exaggerated the virus to damage DDT. Tucker Carlson has suggested the COVID vaccine killed recipients, the government considers vaccines ineffective, and untrustworthy authority figures try to force people to take questionable vaccines. Carlson was joined by Fox’s Laura Ingraham to lambast vaccine efforts as authoritarian and promote paranoia about their dangers. Fox viewers have a greater denial level than CNN and MSNBC viewers by about 10 percentage point because of Fox programming.

The Supreme Court supported an 7th Circuit Court ruling permitting Indiana University to mandate vaccinations for students and faculty members meeting in person after Justice Amy Coney Barrett requested the students’ request for emergency relief. The case was the first challenge to a vaccine mandate.

The National Education Association has also endorsed vaccine requirements for school workers with the opinion for regular COVID testing.  American Federation of Teachers take the stance of negotiating mandates with local governments and school systems. Both groups support COVID vaccines as does Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

Landlords failed to block the renewed eviction moratorium until early October when a federal judge left it in place. The extension came after the recent COVID surge and failure of the government to distribute $44 billion of the $47 billion allotted for rental payments. The judge followed a similar ruling by the Washington, D.C. circuit court.

The U.S. has settled with Dr. Rick Bright, the whistleblower who reported DDT botched the early pandemic response, compensating him “to the fullest extent allowed by the law” with “back pay and compensatory damages.” The government removed him in April 2020 as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for his concerns about preparedness, according to Bright. He also said his ousting came became he refused to push the drug hydroxychloroquine to cure COVID.

The U.S. may have finally found a case of voting machine tampering—by a DDT-loving clerk in Grand Junction (CO). That’s Rep. Lauren Bobert’s (R-CO) district, the QAnon follower who runs a gun-promoting bar. A video depicts the conversation between an election official and a Dominion employee as the official asks about how the machine can be tampered with over the internet using the BIOS motherboard settings. During the January 6 insurrection, the clerk had made a variety of social posts about the ease of tampering with election equipment. A county clerk tweeted that someone in her office carried out a breech to prove the vulnerability of election machines.

The same DDT-loving clerk, Tina Peters, is also accused of leaking information to QAnon promoter Ron Watkins as well as filming a Dominion employee updating the election system software, according to Colorado’s Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The clerk’s office had ordered county staff to turn off surveillance cameras monitoring the voting equipment and left off until this month. In late May, Peters’ staff illegally permitted a man called Gerard Wood to join Dominion during an installation. The mystery many obtained footage of Dominion updating the machines, footage put on Watkins’ Telegram channel on August 2. Griswold was able to identify the place and time of the video from the footage from an image of passwords for accessing election equipment.

Peters could not be found in her office last week because she appeared on the stage at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s bogus Cyber Symposium conference where Watkins shared the data stolen from Mesa County with the entire world. Forty pieces of Mesa County’s election equipment will need to replaced, at taxpayer cost, because of the broken chain of custody. The lawyer for Rep. Lauren Boebert’s campaign manager is also involved.

This day in August, Friday the 13th, is when people like MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell predicted DDT would be back in the White House on “Reinstatement Day.” It didn’t happen, but DHS officials worry about resulting violence because of DDT’s lies about election fraud.

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