Nel's New Day

January 4, 2023

House Speaker Elections, More News

Members of both political parties claim that the GOP is “broken,” but other frustrated Republicans declare that the GOP is in a state of “self-immolation.” In the fourth vote to become Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) received one fewer vote when newly elected Victoria Spartz (R-IN) voted present after supporting McCarthy in the first three votes. The 20 votes for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) in the third vote all moved to Byron Donalds, 44, a Black Republican who formerly represented a Florida district. Two more votes followed exactly the same pattern before the House adjourned. It planned to continue at 8:00 pm on January 4, but a raucous vote postponed the next vote to noon (EST) on January 5. 

Unable to control his own caucus, McCarthy went to Democrats, asking them to support a “consensus candidate” for Speaker or not vote so that he can reach a lower threshold of required votes that would make him Speaker. By the fourth vote, Democrat Hakeem Jeffries (NY) received 11 votes more than McCarthy. McCarthy dissenters such as Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) are also asking Democrats to help them. The 20 representatives voting against McCarthy are all DDT-supporters, and 18 of them deny the 2020 presidential election was legal.

Ginni Thomas, wife of a Supreme Court justice, has dived into the fray by joining DDT’s former attorney Cleta Mitchell and another two dozen far-right members in a joint letter from the Conservative Action Project to attack McCarthy’s attempts to become Speaker. Other signers of the letter are Kenneth Blackwell of the Family Research Council listed as a SPLC hate group, and David Bossie, head of conservative Citizens United winning the Supreme Court case releasing huge amounts of dark money into U.S. politics. 

A new question about the newly elected GOP representative from New York, George Santos, is whether he meets the requirement of his new office—whether he has been a U.S. citizen for seven years. He claims he was born in Queens, but no one has verified the information. And no one in the House is taking responsibility to do so.

On his website, Santos also lied about being sworn in on January 3, 2023; no House member can be sworn in for the 118th Congress without a Speaker—who hasn’t been elected yet. One response to Santos was that he was “sworn-ish,” ridiculing him for his declaration that he is Catholic but “Jew-ish” after he was caught in the lie of being Jewish. Incoming freshmen members—Robert Garcia (D-CA), Michael Lawler (R-NY), and Yadira Caraveo (D-CO)—made the same mistake.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) changed from yesterday’s tepid attitude toward McCarthy to repeating his racist diatribe against his former Secretary of Transportation to support the Speaker candidate.

“If Republicans are going to fight, we ought to be fighting Mitch McConnell and his domineering, China loving BOSS, I mean wife, Coco Chow.”

In addition, DDT returned to his baseless attacks on election worker Ruby Freeman after trying to destroy her two years ago. In a temp job, Freeman counted votes in Georgia, and DDT claimed she and her daughter Shaye Moss were personally responsible for election fraud. A retiree, Freeman was forced to leave her home, close her small boutique business, and move to an undisclosed location. DDT’s continuing lies will likely lead to a renewal of threats, harassment, and possibly violence from his followers. Already suing a far-right conspiracy website, Rudy Giuliani, and far-right media outlet One America News Network (OANN), Freeman and Moss are within their rights to sue DDT.

Donald Trump Jr. is now hawking bibles on social media: for only $69.99 a person can get “We the People,” the King James version with copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and Pledge of Allegiance. The grifting group has displayed its ignorance: the “Bill of Rights” are the first ten amendments of the constitution, making a separate document redundant.

In a victory for women, the DOJ stated that federal law legally permits mail delivery of so-called abortion pills to all states because the sender doesn’t know if the medication will be illegally used. Some states had attempted to ban or restrict the mailings. Both mifepristone and misoprostol are used for managing miscarriages or treating gastric ulcers. Federal law supersedes state laws, and the postal service cannot inspect packages possibly containing prescription drugs.

In a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wichita (KS), patients can obtain abortion pill prescriptions from out-of-state doctors through telehealth. This opportunity comes from a court ruling blocking the state law banning doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication remotely. Patients much visit the clinic in-person for an evaluation, education, and state-mandated counseling from local clinicians before their meeting with an offsite doctor.

As people refuse to wear masks and follow other guidelines to prevent transmitting Covid, the Omicron strain XBB.1.5, becoming the most dominant strain in the U.S. in a few weeks, will drive new cases and not be blocked by Covid boosters. Recently, the sub-variant has gone from 4 percent of the cases to 40 percent; about 75 percent of new cases in the Northeast come from the subvariant. 

Russian files from after its invasion of Ukraine reveal disinformation about U.S.-funded bioweapons, accusing Ukrainian labs of spreading Covid through experimenting with bat coronaviruses. Soon after the accusation, China distributed the biolabs conspiracy theory. Media narratives from Russia and China have been remarkably similar since the invasion, according to hacked emails showing that the countries pledged to join forces in media content and held annual media cooperation meetings since 2008, aimed largely at domestic audiences.

Two days ago, the Buffalo Bills football team stopped play with the Cincinnati Bengals after Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field from cardiac arrest after he tackled a receiver. By January 4, he shows signs of improvement after a blow to his chest may have created heart arrhythmia. Fox host Tucker Carlson, however, attributes Hamlin’s health problems to the Covid vaccination, despite Carlson’s ignorance about Hamlin’s vaccine status. Carlson said, “We don’t know whether he got the shot” but still spread misinformation about the possibility that Hamlin could have received one. Millions of right-wing media spreading misinformation have no knowledge about the vaccine and the cause of Hamlin’s collapse; Carlson calls medical experts “witch doctors.”

Myocarditis, heart inflammation, is an extremely rare side effect of the Covid vaccine: only 617 people experienced the disorder out of 43 million people after they were vaccinated, and the disorder predates the Covid pandemic.The risk of heart inflammation and other cardiac problems is far higher from Covid than from the vaccine. The risk for “commotio cordis,” blunt force trauma to the chest and subsequent sudden cardiac arrest and death, is more common among athletes.

Before DDT left office, he pardoned Jesse Benson, a top aide to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ron Paul (R-TX), for campaign finance violations. Benson has now been convicted of funneling Russian money to DDT’s 2016 campaign.

According to DDT’s deputy press secretary Judd Deere, DDT didn’t know his schedule was public until a few weeks before he left the White House. In late December 2020, DDT learned his schedule was released to the public and then tried to change the way it was written, making it less specific and presented in “boilerplate” language. For example, the schedule would be that DDT would “work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “make many calls and have many meetings.” No specific times, just generalities. Five hours of his morning would be “executive time” but really watching TV, reading newspapers, and phoning aides, congressional members, friends, administration officials, and informal advisers.  

Elon Musk destroyed over half the value of Twitter in one month. At the end of October, the quarterly holdings report valued Twitter at $19.66; it dropped to $8,626,218 by the end of November. To cut costs, Musk canceled janitorial services this month at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, and Columbia Property Trust sued the company for not paying rent at these headquarters. Supposedly relying on polling, Musk said he would resign as CEO if the majority of respondents wanted him to do so. They did, and he resigned. But he still owns the company.

Researchers have linked the climate crisis with extreme weather patterns to gun violence because of higher-than-average temperatures. Seven percent of shootings in 100 U.S. cities between 2015 and 2020 occurred in unseasonable heat. The Northeast and Midwest had the greatest increases in gun violence on unseasonably hot days. The stress from heat may make people more aggressive. Another link exists between extreme weather and domestic violence, according to over 40 studies. Economic stresses from flooding, drought, and extreme heat in Kenya were connected to a 60-percent rise in domestic violence.

 A bill permitting the FCC to regulate the price of phone calls from prison is awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature. A 15-minute phone call from jail now costs $3 not including other charges for setting up and funding the prepaid phone accounts for making calls. Costs vary by state, but phone providers have given kickbacks to prisons and local governments in a $1.4 billion industry.

November 14, 2022

News Avoiding the Election, Mostly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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