Nel's New Day

April 6, 2021

Good News in the Senate; Gaetz, Georgia Problems Build

The biggest news for the week may have been the Senate parliamentarian decision permitting expanded use of the reconciliation process for budget bills. At one time, the ruling would not have been important for solving legislative issues in Congress, but for a decade, Republicans have largely refused to vote in favor of any bill proposed by Democrats even if they or their constituents agree with the bill. Since the 2008 election of President Obama and the 2010 Tea Party sweep of Congress, Republicans have subscribed to one goal—gridlock through opposition to all Democratic bills. The Senate filibuster requiring a 60-percent vote makes gridlock easier.  

The only flexibility in the Senate has been the budget reconciliation process in which a maximum of three bills can be passed each year with a simple majority, one each on spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit. Democrats already used one bill this year with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), providing financial relief for the COVID-19 crisis. Republicans, with seeing provisions in the upcoming infrastructure bill, have declared they will vote against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, found a law that legislation for an annual budget resolution, passed by the reconciliation process in the current Congress, can be revised through amendments. The Senate parliamentarian agrees, giving Democratic senators more flexibility without putting every issue into one bill. This process frees up budgetary timelines, again because of the smaller budget bills not requiring the 60-percent threshold. This flexibility may permit the budget to be finished by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, instead of stalling the process with a number of continuing resolutions and creating the danger of a government shutdown. Raising the debt ceiling might not be used for GOP blackmail in cutting back spending for domestic needs, a situation created by a cap on the debt limit forced through a decade ago by then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Trying to cling to his position of leadership and sucking off the corporate teat for decades, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fighting large businesses rejecting the Georgia anti-voting law. He threatened them with a warning to “stay out of politics” to avoid “consequences.” McConnell did add “I’m not talking about contributions” to his directive. Last year—2020—his super PAC took in $475 million from corporations and their CEOs, including Chevron, Mountaire Corp, Koch Industries, and many others. 

In 2010, McConnell, calling donations “free speech,” praised the Supreme Court lifting political spending limits by “outside groups” in Citizens United v. FEC:

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process … the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.”

Gabby Orr and Meredith McGraw wrote on Politico:

“During the 2017 GOP tax reform push, the [GOP] party slashed the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent. In return, they have been bolstered with industry money and political support. Now, however, they’re betting that they can win on a backlash to the idea that political correctness has entered the boardroom and is irreversibly damaging conservative causes.”

Three days ago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) called on all his followers to boycott the corporations criticizing Georgia’s new law and other states’ anti-voting bills, one business being Coca-Cola. For his photo shoot, he should have removed the Coke bottle from his desk rather than trying to hide it behind his telephone while he pretends to still be in the Oval Office. 

“I feel so good not drinking Diet Coke on a Delta flight,” Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, tweeted Monday. Pepsi supports LGBTQ and voting rights.  

In the GOP attempt to “cancel” MLB (Major League Baseball), Republican lawmakers are looking at Commissioner Rob Manfred’s membership at the Augusta (GA) National Golf Club and threatening to remove its long-time antitrust exemption so that the MLB could be sued. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested a boycott of MLB. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) distributed a list of official MLB sponsors, asking if “all of them [are] willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party?” The attack resembles DDT’s fight against ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who knelt to protest police brutality.

The outrage from Republicans regarding MLB making a statement about the anti-voting law is not new for sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) relocated its All-Star Game in 2017 from North Carolina in reaction to HB2, a state law requiring people to use only restrooms that correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. The owners of teams in the National Football League (NFL) voted in 1991 to withdraw the 1993 Super Bowl Game from Phoenix following Arizona voters’ refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a legal holiday. Recently, the NFL apologized for not supporting protests of police violence against people of color, started by Kaepernick taking a knee.

MLB found a new home for its All-Star Game in Denver (CO), resulting in GOP and Fox network’s lies about Georgia’s new voting law being less restrictive than those in Colorado. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) tweeted that both states require voter ID and Georgia has two more days of early voting. With Colorado’s mail-in voting system, less than one percent of Colorado voters cast their ballots in person and aren’t required to have photos on their IDs. All registered voters in Colorado are sent ballots, but Georgia law blocks election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to registered voters. WaPo reporter Dave Weigel told critics of Colorado voting to “find a photo of Colorado voters waiting in a long line on Election Day” within the past seven years. (Right: Georgia’s voting lines.) Republicans lie about Georgia’s new law “expanding” voting access, but an analysis reveals 16 provisions limiting ballot access, confusing voters, and giving GOP lawmakers more power to determine the electoral college vote in the state.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is working on ways “to mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s new anti-voting law, part of to “develop a plan of action within the city’s authority to expand opportunity and access to the ballot box.” Methods include staff member training on voter registration; general information on early, absentee, and in-person voting; and dissemination of information to residents about obtaining forms of identification required for absentee voting.

In another story from the South, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), facing sex-trafficking accusations from a DOJ investigation started by DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr, found himself in more hot water. According to The New York Times, he asked for “blanket preemptive pardons” for himself and his allies, possibly Joel Greenberg, before DDT left the Oval Office which would give him immunity from any future crimes. The inquiry into Gaetz began late last summer, and people wonder if Gaetz knew about the probe before DDT’s departure. DDT has not mentioned Gaetz’s name since the scandal broke, and DDT’s loyalists have anonymously shown glee about Gaetz’s problems. One staffer expressing a feeling of vindication said about Gaetz, “He’s the meanest person in politics.

Fox News, for some reason, has published details of Gaetz’s sordid past. As a young state legislator in Florida, he allegedly competed with other lawmakers in sexual conquests, gaining extra points for having sex with married lawmakers and spending the night in a college sorority house. Special points came from sex with virgins, but the top number came from sex with one specific conservative woman, nicknamed the “snitch.” Other points came from sex with lobbyists, interns, and aides. Some women called him “Creepy Gaetz” because of how uncomfortable they were in his presence.

One question about indictments for Gaetz is whether his buddy Joel Greenberg, formerly Seminole County (FL) tax collector and now recipient of at least three dozen federal criminal charges, turns on him. Greenberg’s evidence could erase Gaetz’s weak defense that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old being investigated or she turned 18 by the time he made the moves on her. Greenberg’s case involves the same girl, indicating her age as 17 and the belief that he paid her, possible federal charges against Gaetz. If prosecution couldn’t prove Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, Florida has a 15-year maximum sentence for sex with a minor and registration as a sex offender. Even solicitation of a sex act is a felony.

Gaetz is known for being the only member of the U.S. House to vote against increased penalties for sex-trafficking. While in the Florida legislature, he also fought a bill against “nonconsensual pornography,” aka “revenge porn.” For several years, fellow Republican tried to put the bill into law, but the main opposition was Matt Gaetz. In one discussion, Gaetz maintained a person can use “an intimate image [sent from] their romantic partner” in any way they want. That’s what Gaetz did when he showed nude photos and videos to other members of Congress.

This weekend at DDT’s Miami Doral hotel, Gaetz will appear at the Save America Summit, a Women for America First event, as the headline speaker along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Calling Gaetz a “fearless leader,” the organization secured the permit for DDT’s speech inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Topics at the summit include “Election Integrity,” “Big Tech & Censorship,” and “Defeating the Radical Biden/Harris Agenda.”

March 29, 2021

Whither the GOP Filibuster

For the first time in four years, more voters, 46 percent, believe the U.S. is on the right track than the opposite. The economy is heading in the right direction, according to the 42-percent plurality of voters, a 13-percent improvement since January. Approval of President Joe Biden is still at 61 percent, and the pandemic management approval is 71 percent, up three points since February, all according to the new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. In January, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) received a 56-percent approval for the economy, his only rating above 50 percent, but Biden now has an approval of 60 percent on the economy and the same percentage for administering the government, compared to DDT’s rating of 49 percent approval.

Conservatives also struggle with the current popularity of For the People Act, the voting bill passing the House and waiting for Senate attention. A policy adviser for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and research director for the Koch-run advocacy group Stand Together, Kyle McKenzie, discovered “people were very supportive” by learning a “very neutral description” of the bill. McKenzie stated:

“The most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public was when they read the neutral description. There’s a large, very large, chunk of conservatives who are supportive of these types of efforts.”

Even conservatives don’t want wealthy people buying elections through huge anonymous political donations. Unable to find persuasive arguments against voting rights, McKenzie told conservative activists the GOP senators need to use “under-the-dome” tactics to kill the bill. The bill could pass the Senate with a majority vote, but the current filibuster, enacted by any one senator sending in an email to protest a bill obstructs democracy by requiring 60 percent of the vote.

A simple Senate majority can change—even eliminate—the filibuster, but some Democrats are reluctant to agree. With Republicans determined to be intransigent enough to cause permanent gridlock for the 117th Congress, at least one senator, Angus King (I-ME), may be reversing his negative position toward a shift. In a WaPo op-ed, King wrote that he decided to support the filibuster because an opposing party could use it to erase important legislation as the Affordable Care Act. According to King:

“But this argument is sustainable only if the extraordinary power of the 60-vote threshold is used sparingly on major issues or is used in a good-faith effort to leverage concessions rather than to simply obstruct.”

King cited the voting rights protection to oppose the GOP “nakedly partisan voter-suppression legislation pending in many states” as a reason to fight the filibuster. He continued:

“If forced to choose between a Senate rule and democracy itself, I know where I will come down. As new Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) noted on the floor recently, ‘It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate, while refusing to protect minority rights in the society.’”

Biden now supports the “talking filibuster,” opposition to a bill lasts only as long as the filibustering senator stands on the chamber floor and talks, and said the 60-vote requirement for any bill is “being abused in a gigantic way.” One exception to the filibuster, he said, is for laws “elemental to the functioning of our democracy—like the basic right to vote.” The biggest holdout to changing the filibuster, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be willing to move to the talking filibuster.

The Senate has radically changed since Biden defended the filibuster as a new senator. Once rare, filibustering obstructionism is business as usual. The 44 cloture motions filed during the first two years of Biden’s senate career were relatively high for the time, but Republicans almost doubled in 1993-94 to kill Clinton’s agenda. In the 2007-2008 Democratic Congress, McConnell saw 139 filibusters filed, and the number topped 200 in 2013-2014 during President Obama’s second term. The 2019-2020 Congress saw 339 cloture motions in the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) may have found a way around filibusters to fund Biden’s policy initiatives. The Senate allows budget reconciliation only once a year to permit a majority of senators to pass a bill, and the Democrats used the one time to pass the $1.9 trillion stimulus relief law, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Passed in 1974, Section 304 of the Congressional Budget Act, however, allows a simple majority to revisit and amend an already-passed budget resolution, such as ARPA. The parliamentarian will decide whether Section 304 permits more reconciliation bills tied to revenue, spending, and the public debt during Fiscal Year 2021, ending the end of September.

McConnell’s first response to doing away with the filibuster—which he did to get three far-right justices on the Supreme Court—was to threaten a “scorched earth” in the Senate, highly punitive actions to block every bill. Then he joined other senators such as Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Graham to play victim. Biden agreed with former President Obama about the filibuster being “a relic of the Jim Crow era”; and McConnell claimed the filibuster “has no racial history at all. None. There’s no dispute among historians about that.” Historians taught McConnell he was wrong.

Both the longest single-speaker filibuster and the longest multiple-speaker filibuster in U.S. history tried unsuccessfully to block two non-discrimination laws, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964. The latter filibuster lasted 60 days before a bipartisan coalition stopped it. The 1957 law, the first federal civil rights legislation in almost 90 years, established a DOJ civil rights division and other measures to support the right to vote for Blacks. Virulent segregationist Strom Thurmond, a South Carolina Democrat until 1964, personally filibustered for 24 hours and 18 minutes, the longest speaking one by a single senator.

Other failures during the past century show the racist and bigoted use of the filibuster:

  • During the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction periods, senators filibustered against civil rights bills.  
  • Bills outlawing racist lynching, first introduced in 1922, didn’t pass until 2018, but the GOP House refused to take action.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965 survived a filibuster, but Jesse Helms’ (R-NC) brief filibuster destroyed an extension to strengthen its provisions after a Supreme Court decision required proof of discrimination by covered jurisdictions. Even that weaker provision of the Voting Rights Act disappeared in John Roberts’ court, the 2013 decision permitting rampant racist discrimination by laws sweeping across the U.S.

Newly-elected Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), elected before his state passed a draconian set of anti-voting laws hurting his 2022 re-election chances if not overturned, described nationwide anti-voting laws as “Jim Crow in new clothes.” In his first speech on the Senate floor, he said about the requirement for 60 percent of senators to pass any legislation, “No Senate rule should overrule the integrity of our democracy.” He explained:

“I’m not here to spiral into the procedural argument over whether the filibuster in general has merits or has outlived its usefulness. I’m here to say that this issue is bigger than the filibuster. This issue, access to voting and preempting politicians’ efforts to restrict voting, is so fundamental to our democracy that it is too important to be held hostage by a Senate rule, especially one historically used to restrict expansion of voting rights.

“It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in the society. We must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

Warnock denounced the 253 voter suppression bills in 43 states introduced since January as “democracy in reverse” and attempts by Republican politicians to “cherrypick their voters.” Warnock declared, “This cannot stand.”

Other losses from the filibuster:

  • A bipartisan piece of popular legislation including gun background checks from Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) after the horrific Newtown massacre.
  • Government shutdowns resulting from huge omnibus bills with multiple “riders” designed to get around filibusters.
  • Bad legislation from the reconciliation process, created by Ronald Reagan in 1981, to use a simple majority for passage.  
  • GOP refusal to undertake any bills alleviating climate change.

Norm Ornstein, a Democratic at a conservative think tank, suggests ways to honor minority rights instead of using the filibuster “as a weapon of mass obstruction.”

“Instead of having 60 votes required to end debate, have 41 required to continue with 41 members… Make the minority have to debate the actual issue. No reading Green Eggs and Ham to waste time.  You’d have to talk about why you are blocking, say, a universal background check bill supported by 94% of Americans.

“…Return to that ‘present and voting’ standard.  So it matters how many Senators actually show up.  If 20 of them don’t show up, you only need 48 votes to end debate. Again, make the minority do the work…

“Reduce the threshold to end debate outright. You could reduce it down to 55 Senators. But you could also be more creative. Former Senator Tom Harken’s idea was to step down the threshold as you debate a bill. So start with a level of 60 votes for a couple of weeks. And then lower the bar to 57, and then 54, and then 51. So ultimately the majority is going to have the ability to act, but there’s plenty of time devoted to the minority.”

The Senate is already rigged for the minority: the 50 Republicans currently in the Senate represent 41 million fewer people than the 50 Democrats. The Senate has been marked for inaction for years. It’s time to legislation to more forward, to do more than Republicans putting highly conservative and frequently inexperienced judges on the federal bench. And it’s time for Republicans to constructively work for elections rather than employing a system to “cancel voters.”

February 21, 2021

GQP ‘Spiritual Leader’ Demands Followers “Kiss the Ring’

President Joe Biden is making decisions for the United States, but Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), declaring on conservative media that the presidential election was stolen from him, waits at Mar-a-Lago for followers to come pay obeisance to him.

Sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who calls DDT almost every day, is again going to Mar-a-Lago to golf—and get him to build up the Republican party, now badly split after the impeachment and House Minority Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) attack on DDT. Last Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) visited DDT. Brad Parscale, fired from being campaign manager and responsible for questionable expenditures of millions of campaign dollars, went to Mar-a-Lago for a long meeting. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) held a fundraiser on Saturday night.

Absent from DDT’s side for a few years, Steve Bannon is back. During the first few years of DDT in the White House, Bannon played him like a fiddle to accomplish his ends but got forced out. Once gone, Bannon stole almost a million dollars from a GoFundMe website ostensibly to build a tiny portion of DDT’s southern border wall, but DDT pardoned him for that offense shortly before Biden was inaugurated.

Now Bannon has another plan: run DDT for the House, become the Speaker because he believes Congress will turn Republican, and impeach Biden. His accusation is that Biden “stole” the election.

Top DDTers also have other plans such as making DDT’s first White House press secretary Reince Priebus the Wisconsin governor although Tony Evers has the position for another three years. In Pennsylvania, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey isn’t running in 2022, and the Republican party has its eye on a QAnon candidate. Toomey voted for DDT’s conviction in the impeachment, and furious Republicans announced they don’t elect people “to do the right thing.” The current criterion is to follow whatever corruption DDT wants. Bannon said, “Any candidate who wants to win in Pennsylvania in 2022 must be full Trump MAGA.”

Flush with what DDT sees as a strong following, he plans to put his extremist loyalists into primaries. They may win against other Republicans, but moderate Republicans and independents could elect Democrats. For example, Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward might lose a general election against incumbent Mark Kelly in 2022 for supporting conspiracy theories and leading her party in censuring Cindy McCain, former Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) wife, for supporting Biden. In Georgia, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, an outspoken QAnon conspiracy theorist removed from her committee assignments, could run against former Sen. David Perdue in the primary, reducing the possibility of the Republicans defeating Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock. DDT has clashed with Republicans who might defeat Democrats for Congress, like former Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire.

The question is how long DDT will trust Bannon. Touting his new memoir Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes in an interview, former 60 Minutes producer Ira Rosen talked about Bannon’s attempt to remove DDT from the White House by using the 25th Amendment because of DDT’s early stage dementia. Bannon told DDT’s major rightwing donor Rebekah Mercer about his concerns, including DDT’s repetition of the same stories, and quoted a David Brooks column from October 2017:  

“And the polls show that if you want to win a Republican primary these days, you have to embrace the Trump narrative…  The Republican senators greeted Trump on Capitol Hill and saw a president so repetitive and rambling, some thought he might be suffering from early Alzheimer’s. But they know which way the wind is blowing. They gave him a standing ovation.”

One sycophant couldn’t go to Mar-a-Lago. Rush Limbaugh died February 17, 2021, leaving 15 million listeners without his consistent diet of racial prejudice, misogyny, hate, and lies.

DDT also lost “my Kevin,” as he called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), after McCarthy told people about his frantic January 6 telephone call for help when DDT refused to send assistance for congressional members under attack in the U.S. Capitol. McCarthy tried to cover up the problem, but DDT found him lacking in deferential attitude. Following that event, DDT lambasted McCarthy for not removing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from House leadership because she voted for DDT’s impeachment. Fox reports DDT looks at McCarthy “with disdain.”

McCarthy tried to crawl back into DDT’s favor in late January at a trip to Mar-a-Lago after he agreed DDT “bears responsibility” for the riot. Aides reported the meeting was “good and cordial,” and McCarthy he does not “believe he provoked [the attack].” DDT, however, never forgives a slight. 

Next weekend, DDT will collect the faithful at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando (FL). Usually located in Washington, CPAC chose the new venue because of its lax coronavirus guidelines producing its third-highest COVID-19 death toll last week. Sponsors include Fox, Washington Times, Epoch Times, Heritage Foundation, Turning Point USA, and conservative video platform Rumble. The senators typically voting against Biden’s appointees—Martha Blackburn (TN), Tom Cotton (AR), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), James Lankford (OK), and Rick Scott (FL)—will attend along with loyalist House members Mo Brooks (AL), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Jim Jordan (OH), Devin Nunes (CA), and Steve Scalise (LA). Deposed people such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, former DOJ AG Matt Whitaker, former DDT lawyer Pam Bondi, and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be there. It’s a place for the ambitious to aim at a better job, perhaps president, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

One person missing from the event is former VP Mike Pence. Sources have said Pence will stay out of the public for the rest of the year after DDT looked willing to kill Pence at the January 6 insurrection. Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short said he and Pence now accept Biden as “the duly elected president of the United States.” Although absent from DDT’s farewell, Pence attended Biden’s inauguration.

Others may not actually show up, and sponsors are insecure because of uncertain guest bookings. The theme “America Uncanceled” is about “cancel culture,” and organizers sent a letter to Politico accused it of this practice, a form of not providing support, after journalists asked questions about the event. Organizers whined about attempts to “cancel our votes, our voices, and our values” while trying to erase all non-white people in the U.S. DDT’s repetition about a rigged election in his CPAC speech as well as his smears of Biden’s actions will be an example of “cancel culture.”

Opposing DDT’s control of the GOP, House Minority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignores DDT, especially after McConnell’s vitriolic attack against DDT following McConnell’s vote against an impeachment conviction based on a mythical technicality. The speech scorched DDT about his faults, how he should have been convicted and how he can be criminally indicted. Three days later, DDT’s rebuttal rained lies and blistering attacks on the man who forced over 200 highly conservative and largely incompetent judges onto federal benches. A part of DDT’s statement:

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

Advisers talked DDT out of stating McConnell had too many chins and not enough smarts, according to one source.

Because a large QAnon following thinks DDT will be inaugurated on March 4, 2021, 5,000 National Guard troops will stay in Washington for at least another three weeks out of concern for violence. If that date doesn’t work out for them, QAnon followers picked May 20, 120 days after January 20 based on an economic recovery plan proposed over 20 years to forgive the national debt. Conspiracy theorists claim the military will take Biden from the White House on May 20 and install DDT in his former Washington home. Robert Guffey, who tracks the QAnon movement, explained more conspiracy beliefs:

“Then all the debt goes away and the IRS is abolished. And then, at that point, Trump starts releasing all these hidden patents for free energy. It’s going to be utopia and all the Democrats will be in Gitmo.”

Conservative media feeds these lies to the tens of millions of their audience:

  • The Biden’s marriage and romance is “part of a slick PR campaign devised by cynical consultants determined to hide the president’s senility by misdirection.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox 
  • The Bidens 12-year-old German Shepherd, Champ, “needs a bath and a comb and all kinds of love and care. [He] looks like … from the junkyard.”—Greg Kelly, Newsmax
  • About cutting off the video of the insurrection at the Capitol during the impeachment trial: “This is all emotional, political theater.”—Greg Gutfeld, cohost of Fox The Five
  • “[There] was no physical evidence that George Floyd was murdered…  The autopsy showed that George Floyd almost certainly died of a drug overdose, fentanyl.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox
  • About fighting domestic terrorists: “They’re creating extremists, just as we did in Iraq… And dramatically elevating the chance that something really awful is going to happen.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox
  • “If the [COVID-19] vaccine was so great, why were all these people lying about it.”—Tucker Carlson, Fox (before Biden was inaugurated)
  • [I don’t know] a single conservative or single Republican who frankly even knows what QAnon.”—Sean Hannity, Fox

Much has been said from conservative leaders telling Democrats about “moving on,” but DDT will never let that happen as long as he stays the face and voice of the GQP.

February 14, 2021

Biden’s Work Leads to Popularity

Republicans are still wreaking havoc from Saturday’s acquittal of Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT): instead of declaring any victory, they are damning the seven GOP senators who voted to convict DDT for inciting violence in his unrelenting attempt to overturn the election—and democracy. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) explained best the reason for votes for conviction—“he is guilty.” His op-ed in the Baton Rouge newspaper covers the facts that DDT’s cult followers refuse to recognize.

For those who question the Democrats’ wisdom in not calling witnesses after the Senate voted in favor it, another reason has emerged. Republican senators threatened to filibuster every Biden nominee, every piece of legislation, in short everything Democrats brought to the Senate. Attempting to get 60 votes for everything with only 50 Democrats in the Senate was not worth the risk. As Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), lead prosecutor for the trial, said:  

‘We could have had 500 witnesses and it would have not have overcome the kinds of arguments being made by Mitch McConnell and other Republicans who were hanging their hats on the claim that it was somehow unconstitutional.”

DDT issued a statement about his victory and insinuated he could return in some fashion. President Joe Biden set the tone for the future of the United States. He stated the impeachment trial showed the charge against DDT is not in dispute and quoted House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who voted to acquit but still believes DDT is guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for provoking” violence at the U.S. Capitol, directly killing five people:  

“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant … Each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.”

Contrasting DDT’s life in the White House with family events of the Bidens, this video shows a casual-looking Biden couple wandering the White House lawn with their two dogs looking at the Valentines that Dr. Biden had arranged to honor the day.

Conservative pundits accused Biden of avoiding the impeachment trial by working, ignoring his busy schedule which was so different from DDT’s obsession with watching television and being admired. These are a few of his accomplishments in the past week while the media focused on impeachment.

Biden reinstated the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, greatly changed and unstaffed during the previous administration. Melissa Rodgers, First Amendment lawyer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will head up the agency with goals including help for disadvantaged communities, advancement of global humanitarian work, and protection for “church-state separation and freedom for people of all faiths and none.”

Before the impeachment trial, nominees for secretaries of the Education Department and the Labor Department were passed out of committee with the customary few naysayers.

Biden will rescind the ability of states to mandate work requirements for Medicaid coverage. Because of DDT’s request for these rules, some states require residents work for 20 or more hours a week in jobs, job search, community service, or taking classes. Judges have already struck down some of these requirements.

Protections under the Fair Housing Act now cover LGBTQ people, allowing the government to investigate discrimination complaints based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This executive order follows an earlier one prohibiting the same discrimination in employment. Last summer, then HUD Secretary Ben Carson stripped protections for transgender people to go to federally funded homeless shelters, a policy set to go into effect in two months until Biden reversed it.

Biden said his climate-change executive order combined with “Buy American” would help create one million new jobs in the automobile industry.

The 9th Circuit Court revoked an earlier general permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ authorizing most of commercial shellfish aquaculture in Washington’s Puget Sound seriously harming the environment.  

The government has finalized deals for another 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by summer, half from Pfizer and half from Moderna, bringing the total to 300 million. 

Biden told Congress he terminated DDT’s national emergency order diverting billions of military appropriations DDT used to build part of the southern wall. DDT issued the order because Congress refused to allocate the money. Part of Biden’s direction was to divert no more taxpayer dollars to construct a border wall and review “all resources appropriated or redirected to that end.”

The president also plans to ask Congress to eliminate $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the oil industry. Last year, progressive lawmakers in both chambers introduced legislation to end federal subsidies and loopholes.  

Biden has “indefinitely” shelved DDT’s deal for Oracle and Walmart buying much of the Chinese-owned video app TikTok. DDT had claimed “national security” but was really upset because the young people on the app had first ordered unused tickets for his Tulsa (OK) rally and then advertised the Georgia senatorial runoff election for younger voters in favor of the Democrats.

The DOJ notified the Supreme Court it does not regard the Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional and considers it legal as the high court considers a challenge to the law by Texas and other GOP states. California and other Democratic states are defending the law. Although the Supreme Court earlier upheld the individual mandate in the law, some justices have been replaced by DDT’s appointments.

After the February 1 military coup in Myanmar, aka Burma, Biden announced sanctions on the leaders who deposed and detained its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and others until it relinquishes power and releases prisoners. Biden will also freeze U.S. assets of up to $1 billion benefiting the Burmese government. Like the attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the coup was intended to destroy the nation’s democracy.

While the House works on the stimulus bill, Biden is working on a $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package to create jobs and rebuild transportation networks, both growing the economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In an opening meeting, four members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, two from each party, joined both Biden and VP Kamala Harris in the White House. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg participated by video while he is quarantining after exposure to COVID-19. They agreed new infrastructure must be built in both urban and rural areas. More meetings with congressional members are planned. Biden pointed out China is advancing high-speed-rail projects. Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV) called the meeting productive. Biden has said he doesn’t support increasing the gas tax, but it has had no changes for 24 years while inflation and better gas mileage has taken its purchasing power. The current federal surface transportation expires in Fall 2021.

With Ron Bloom the new chair of the postal service board, the leadership has changed although the former RNC chair, Mike Duncan, remains as a Governor. Bloom plans to “revitalize” the USPS and restore its functionality, badly needed since DDT’s choice of the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was intended to destroy the agency before the election. Working on the automobile industry bailout over a decade ago, Bloom was a senior adviser to the Treasury Secretary. Getting rid of DeJoy may be difficult, especially because he wants to stay, because the conservative majority of the board hired DeJoy. Biden could fill the three openings on the board, but Congress would need to confirm them.

DeJoy apologized to the board for problems with delivery and promised to do better, but his vision for the future includes even deeper service cuts, more expensive postage and services, and lower delivery commitments. Already one-time delivery of non-first class mail last month dropped to 38 percent, half of the same month in the previous year. Without DeJoy, the USPS could come back, especially if Congress passes its legislation rescinding the law requiring the agency to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree benefits—something no other government agency requires. This mandate is responsible for putting the USPS billions of dollars in debt giving DeJoy and the GOP leverage for their changes. Democrats have also been pushing an expansion into postal banking to both provide more revenue and give over 7 million unbanked Americans with options for checking and savings accounts, bill payments, small loans, and low-fee ATMs instead of usurious payday lenders and check-cashing businesses.

Since the election, the favorability of the GOP has seriously dropped, completely because of changes from Republicans. For the first time in eight years, the Democrats are more favorable than Republicans by double digits. In 25 states, the only ones making voter registration available, 140,000 registered voters have dropped the GOP in the first month after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Only 20 percent of voters think the GOP idea about the stimulus bill being “too much” is right, whereas 79 percent believe the COVID-19 relief package is either “about right” or too small.

And many Republicans, such as state GOPs and several congressional members, continue to sabotage anything Biden does.

February 13, 2021

Impeachment End – Five Days That ‘Will Live in Infamy’

Friday was the 22nd anniversary of the Senate vote to acquit President Bill Clinton for lying about having sex with Monica Lewinsky. After a five-week trial, 50 Republicans voted he was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors for this act. After the vote, Clinton told the U.S. he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and the “great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people.” He promised to all people in the nation “to rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation and building our future together.”

Saturday, February 13, 2021, 43 GOP senators voted to acquit former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) of any impeachment charges after he spent several months persuading his followers any election not making him president was “rigged” and “stolen.” After the election, DDT’s rhetoric heated up the rising violence in the United States, culminating in his rally on January 6, 2021, encouraging the attending mob to attack people in the U.S. Capitol with the purpose of blocking the Electoral College vote for legally-elected President Joe Biden. After the MAGA mob breached the building with the purpose of assaulting and possibly killing lawmakers, DDT refused to provide any help and encouraged his followers to attack VP Mike Pence. DDT has made no statement about his acquittal.

The vote followed a few hours of closing arguments by both the prosecution and the defense. Michael van der Veen, in a rambling and vague support for DDT, repeated his lies from his earlier presentation to let GOP senators they could vote to acquit. Van der Veen failed to understand that impeachment trials are not bound by constitutional process, but he did reverse his earlier lie about the attack, calling it a “violent insurrection” in his close. He accused Democrats of putting “fabricated evidence” into their “big” four volumes with “little tiny print.” “Shocking” was his conclusion as he said acquittal would start the nation’s “healing.” The defense lawyer also failed to mention jurors in a real judicial proceeding don’t help the defense with its strategy as GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Lindsey Graham (SC), and Josh Hawley (MO) did throughout the impeachment trial.

According to the acquittal—which may create the law of the land—U.S. presidents are free to say anything they want with impunity. In his opening, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) warned about this privilege, calling it the “January exception”—the time at the end of a president’s term when he is no longer accountable for constitutional offenses.  Raskin said:

“It’s an invitation to the president to take his best shot at anything he may want to do on his way out the door, including using violent means to lock that door. To hang on to the Oval Office at all costs and to block the peaceful transfer of power. In other words, the January exception is an invitation to our founders’ worst nightmare.”

In his brief rebuttal, Raskin answered van der Veen’s assertion about an unprecedented impeachment trial for incitement to violence with the response that any presidential incitement to violence is completely unprecedented. Van der Veen complained DDT’s speech had been “stifled” and his “liberty” denied. Raskin pointed out that DDT’s speech has never blocked. In citing Bond v. Floyd, a Supreme Court case about civil rights activist Julian Bond not allowed to take his oath of office because he protested the Vietnam War, van der Veen drew a parallel with the impeachment trial. Raskin explained the defense’s error, that the court’s ruling meant Bond could take his oath in his newly-elected office while the impeachment trial concerned whether DDT could violate his own oath of office.

Despite the prevalence of evidence against DDT, all the GOP senators voted almost as expected. The six Republicans voting that the constitution permitted the trial after the subject was out of office, as approved for other officials, voted to convict him: Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mitt Romney (UT), Ben Sasse (NE), and Pat Toomey (PA). The seventh Republican voting for conviction, Richard Burr (NC), had voted no at the previous vote.

House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), hoping for a Senate majority in the 2022 election, tried to ride both sides of the fence during the trial. After saying he was considering conviction, he notified the other GOP senators before the closing statements of his decision to acquit DDT. After this vote, he delivered a speech declaring DDT is guilty of inciting the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and guilty of a “high crime and misdemeanor.” McConnell called DDT’s actions a “disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said DDT is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” Therefore he blames DDT for the deaths on January 6 and for the threat to VP Mike Pence’s life. And he believes Democrats proved their case.

Yet McConnell said he voted to acquit because a trial cannot be held after a president is no longer in office. He alone is responsible for the trial being delayed because he refused to hold it before Biden’s inauguration. The House passed the Article of Impeachment on January 13, seven days before the inauguration. The trial lasted five days.  

Of the 43 GOP senators voting to support DDT, fifteen may be running again in 2022.  Marco Rubio (FL). Rand Paul (KY). Chuck Grassley (IA). Tim Scott (SC). Todd Young (IA). Ron Johnson (WI). Roy Blunt (MO). John Boozman (AR). John Neely Kennedy (LA). John Thune (SD). John Hoeven (ND). James Lankford (OK). Jerry Moran (KS). Mike Lee (UT). Mike Crapo (ID). 

In Vox, Andrew Prokop called DDT a “winner”: acquittal leaves him to create the same chaos in 2024. If DDT wins, he can go back to destroying the country; if he loses, he can gin up the violence to a higher level because he figures no one will stop him. As Kerry Eleveld wrote:

“Trump could do it all over again. He could run the most incendiary, hate-filled, and vitriolic campaign ever seen in the nation’s history with the very intention of losing and then unleashing his dogs on lawmakers and the American public alike in order to violently overthrow the U.S. government.”

Prokpo’s losers:

The U.S. constitutional system: For the first time since George Washington was picked for president in the 17th century, a person in the Oval Office tried to overturn an election to stay in the White House—lies about the election, frivolous lawsuits, demands on state officials to reverse the vote of the people, pressure to eliminate individual and electoral votes, and, when all else failed, a violent insurrection. And he was acquitted.

Mitch McConnell: DDT’s behavior probably lost McConnell the majority in the Senate after two Democrats won senate seats in Georgia, and he may not get it back in 2022. Now he burned his bridges with DDT, in a gamble for the power of the GOP to get a majority GOP Congress in two years.

The House impeachment managers: Deciding not to use witnesses after the Senate voted to do so may seem like a surrender. [Others may not see this as a loss. The Democrats had no idea what witnesses would say—or lie about—if they were called, and it would considerably lengthen the trial, taking time from Biden’s agenda to move the nation forward. It was also part of a deal to put into the congressional record the information about DDT refusing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) plea for help as DDT’s MAGA people were breaking the windows to get into McCarthy’s office. DDT left the lawmakers and their staff to die, and 43 of them voted to acquit him.]

The United States Senate: Instead of considering evidence presented in the trial, senators prioritized leaving town for their recess.

DDT’s attorneys: They had no victory because everyone knew the fix was in, and their threatening, lying, vague performance was pathetically filled with mistakes. About the two-hour, forty-minute defense, Dana Milbank wrote:

“Even in that brief period, they misstated legal precedents. They invented facts. They rewrote history. Trump lawyer Bruce Castor, panned for his rambling opening argument Wednesday, closed the argument Friday by confusing Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.”

The acquittal leads to more fascist actions from Republicans; QAnon conspiracy theory, now tied into Republicanism, parallels Nazi anti-Semitic myths which includes white supremacy and patriarchal misogyny. In DDT’s cult, he is the father of the nation, the “only I” of his campaigning. Fascist propaganda includes a divisive sense of loss and revenge for those considered responsible, a glorification of the past, and a military attitude to overthrow multi-party democracy. DDT’s movie at his “Save America” exalts masculinity and loss from traitors while portraying President Biden, House Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) as weak and completely unworthy because of their Jewish connections in contrast to images showing the military power of DDT.

The clearest message of the video? And the acquittal? The monster could return to the White House—or destroy it trying, thanks to GOP cowardice by 43 U.S. senators.

On Valentine’s Day, the U.S. has over 28 million COVID-19 infections and is about a day from 500,000 coronavirus deaths in one year. Shortly after the first death from the virus, DDT said the disease would disappear in a few days. He spent the rest of his term either ignoring it or trying to cover it up in what may be the biggest leadership mismanagement in U.S. history.

February 3, 2021

Bad News for ‘Party of Trump’–and DDT

One month into the new Congress and two weeks after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was finally stripped of his Senate Majority Leader title. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is finally the recognized leader, and committees are now led by Democrats instead of Republicans. Although the Senate was split 50-50 with Democratic Harris breaking a tie, McConnell has clung to the leadership, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has refused to schedule a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, appointed as the DOJ Attorney General. Graham lost the gavel, and Schumer now controls what legislation goes to the floor, when the legislation proceeds, and who chairs the committees. Each committee has an equal number of people from each side, but a tied measure can be considered for advancing to the floor. Chairs of the 21 committees are listed here.

In a secret vote, 145 House Republicans voted to keep Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in the position of their Republican Conference Chair after she voted for DDT’s impeachment along with nine other GOP representatives. Sixty-one voted to remove her, and one voted “present.” Senate Minority Leader McConnell supported Cheney and called QAnon believer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) a “cancer” on the Republican party. Thursday, the House votes whether to strip Greene of her committee assignments because she promotes killing Democratic members of the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and follows the bigoted and insane conspiracy theories of QAnon members. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refuses to take action about Greene although he said he condemned her violent and false statements.

The GOP shares bad news facing Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) since his “retirement” to Mar-a-Lago.

In the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, at least 30,000 GOP voters immediately changed their registrations to unaffiliated or a third party. Only 42 percent of Republicans want DDT to run for president in 2024, a 12 percent decrease from November after the election.

The day after Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as the DHS secretary, he declared domestic terrorism is “one of the greatest threats” to the United States. Earlier, acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske alerted the country to a “heightened threat environment” in the U.S. because of domestic terrorists (aka DDT’s supporters). Based on its intelligence, Canada called the Proud boys, playing a “pivotal role” in the Capitol attack, a terrorist entity because it poses an active security threat. The declaration could lead to seizing their financial assets, and their crimes could be treated as terrorist activity.

The DOJ may use the RICO Act, a federal law usually employed against organized crime, to charge members of far-right groups participating in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, adopted in 1979, fights crimes such as murder, kidnapping, bribery, and money laundering. Penalties include up to 20 years in prison and seizure of illegal assets from criminal activities. The law is used to convict leaders ordering others to commit crimes.  

A week before DDT’s impeachment trial in the Senate, he lost his legal team when five lawyers bailed on defending him, supposedly because he insisted on election fraud as his strategy. He also delays paying his employees. DDT’s former adviser Steve Bannon, pardoned for his fraud and theft indictment, wants DDT to defend himself at the trial. Late Sunday, DDT found legal replacements: David Schoen, Roger Stone’s defense in challenging his convictions (lost), and Bruce Castor, a former Pennsylvania DA who kept Bill Cosby from prosecution for sexual assault for a 11 years (lost). Picking DDT over his constituents, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) offered to resign from Congress to defend DDT in the impeachment trial, calling it “the greatest priority in my life.”

DDT pardoned Bannon for his part in stealing over $1 million from donations to building part of the wall on the southern border, but New York state is considering prosecution for the theft. Victims of the fraud live in the district covering Manhattan, giving jurisdiction to the DA, and the area provides the base for most major banking transactions. DDT can give pardons only for federal crimes, not state ones.

A new government report reveals DDT “failed to implement” any of its “27 different recommendations aimed at improving the response” to the coronavirus. The fifth Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis from the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act lists such disasters as failures in testing strategies, medical supplies, vaccine distribution, worker protection, and fraud. The GAO plans to monitor these earlier recommendations as well as 13 additional requirements from the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The government vaccination for COVID-19 has been a disaster—no planning and no funds before Biden was inaugurated. Beyond poor management, DDT’s officials repeatedly lobbied Congress last fall to deny vaccination funding to states despite warnings. Paul Mango, former deputy chief of staff for policy at HHS, accused states of using any funding to make up for their lack of tax revenue and said he was protecting taxpayers from wasteful government spending. In October when states had no vaccines, he said they should have used the $200 million for vaccinations.  At the same time, CDC Director Robert Redfield angered Mango by asking Congress for $6 billion to facilitate state vaccinations. Congress finally allocated $4.5 billion for states to vaccinate with funding not released until earlier in January 2021, but DDT’s administration also sent states far fewer vaccine doses than promised. The sickening details are here.

Another negative GAO report about DDT’s coronavirus management shows he spent $200 million, half the foreign coronavirus aid, to send 8,722 ventilators to other countries last year without any guidance. Honduras, with half as many cases as El Salvador, received three times the number of ventilators. No one seems to know where the ventilators were distributed within the countries. Health experts said basic health aid, such as oxygen or protective personal equipment (PPE), is far more useful for underprivileged countries than ventilators requiring expert maintenance and operation.

DDT left nothing to fight COVID-19 while an HHS agency misused millions of dollars in federal funds designated for vaccine development and other health support. An investigation into a whistleblower complaint, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) used this designated funding for removal of office furniture, news subscriptions, legal services, management, and other administrative expenses. ASPR’s misappropriating money for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was called the “Bank of BARDA.”

DDT’s decision to move Bureau of Land Management staffers out West to Grand Junction (CO), benefitting the fossil fuel industry, caused 87 percent of them to resign or retire, causing serious loss of expertise and disruption of its operations. Remaining staffers have difficulty coordinating with other federal agencies including the Interior Department, centered in Washington, D.C.

The board of the Trump Plaza condominium, across from Mar-a-Lago, unanimously voted to drop the name “Trump” after he incited the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Residents of the luxury condo, each of the 221 units selling between $1 million and $4 million, will pick a new name. Realtors are delighted with the change, having difficult with sales of properties with DDT’s name attached. Signs with DDT’s name had already been removed, but the legal name had remained Trump Plaza. Two-thirds of the residents must vote in favor of the change to make it legal. DDT had lost the development to its lenders in 1991.  

DDT’s time in the Oval Office has been bad for his real estate in New York City: ten luxury buildings, seven of them still with DDT’s name, have lost 17 percent of their value while the decline of square footage in Manhattan dropped only nine percent.

A New York state judge ordered DDT’s tax firm to give more documents to the state AG Letitia James by February 4 to continue her investigation into the Trump Organization, claiming the requested documents are not privileged

Financial disclosure documents released almost immediately after DDT left the White House show his businesses provided almost 40 percent less revenue in 2020 than the year before–$30 million less at the Miami Doral property and 60 percent down at his Scotland Turnberry property. The disaster may have grown after companies cut ties after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

 

COVID-19 infections and deaths in the U.S. have good and bad news. Hospitalization and daily new infections are down; today’s new cases are about half the recent average. Yet deaths are staying high—one short of 4,000 today at 28 percent of those in the world for a total of 461,930 only in the U.S.

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

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

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

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

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

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

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

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Majority:

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

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

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

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

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

January 3, 2021

Growing Disasters Face DDT

The U.S. has finally found its election fraud—the continuing attempt by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the election in his favor by coercing Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into giving him the votes he needed to win the state. “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” a desperate DDT told Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a telephone call on January 2, 2021, lasting over an hour. According to DDT, that number is just one more than he needs to take the state’s vote from President-elect Joe Biden.

During his rambling narrative, DDT begged, flattered, threatened, cajoled, and berated Raffensperger while the state secretary of state and his office’s general counsel refuted DDT’s conspiracy theories of election fraud. In demanding those 11,780 votes for himself, DDT told Raffensperger that he should just “recalculate” because he’s a Republican. Raffensperger refused, and the next day DDT smeared him with false accusations. Georgia has made three recounts, one by hand, and audited the signature match system, proving it is 99.9 percent accurate. Acting like a mob boss, DDT told Raffensperger he was taking a “big risk” in not overturning the vote in his favor.

Because most of the media released under five minutes of the hour-long call, DDT angrily tweeted about the missing remainder of the call. The entire call, however, is at the Boston Globe. David Shafer, Georgia GOP chair, said DDT is filing charges against Raffensperger, stating that leaking the call violates both state and federal law.

Neal Katyal, former DOJ Principal Deputy Solicitor General, has called for a criminal investigation by the DOJ. He also finds DDT’s telephone call an impeachable offense because it’s an abuse of power, using “the power of his office to stay in office to try and browbeat other officials that disagree with them.”

In The Guardian, Helen Sullivan listed six key points of DDT’s telephone call:

  1. Trump sought to change the election result.
  2. Trump tried to intimidate Raffensperger.
  3. Trump applied pressure over Georgia runoffs, by saying Raffensperger would harm the election for two GOP senators in Tuesday’s election if he didn’t give DDT the votes.
  4. Raffensperger continued to stand up to Trump.
  5. Trump may have committed a crime.
  6. Trump refused to back down.

Chief of staff Mark Meadows, also on the call, said he hoped Raffensperger would, in a “spirit of cooperation and compromise,” find a path to overturn Georgia’s certified election results already counted two times, once with a hand count. Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher called the recording “perhaps the most remarkable piece of audio that has come out of the Oval Office of the White House since the Nixon tapes in the 1970s.” DDT begged/demanded his votes 19 times during the call, once every three minutes, one time saying, “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”

DDT’s week leading up to this telephone call was also horrible for him. He returned early from Mar-a-Lago, ostensibly to develop a strategy with Congress to say in the Oval Office for another four years, but perhaps because he didn’t receive the same adulation as before he lost the election. His arrival in Washington, D.C. came while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was blocking DDT’s personal demand for $2,000 stimulus checks and moving forward to overturn DDT’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In a highly unusual Senate session on New Year’s Day, while many people were recovering from the previous evening’s festivities, the Senate overturned DDT’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 81-13—two yes votes fewer than the original vote of 83-14. The House vote to overturn the veto, 335-78, was less than the first—322-87—because people like Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refused to disagree with his boss’s veto. The over two-thirds vote in both chambers makes the current law the 60th consecutive one and the first time in DDT’s almost four-year term Republicans were brave enough to override a DDT veto.

DDT threatened to veto the NDAA if it renamed ten military bases honoring Confederate officials. Then he said he wanted the repeal of the liability shield for social media companies. In 17 days, he can no longer tweet incitement violence and conspiracy theories on Twitter after losing his immunity a a “leader” and wants to sue the company if it gets in his way. His next objection was vague protests about not controlling China.

The law, however, contains restrictions disturbing DDT, including those on moving the military construction budget through emergency orders as he did to get his wall and a president’s ability to arbitrarily pull troops from foreign countries. DDT had announced he would pull service members from Afghanistan and threatened to do the same in Germany.  

The NDAA contains a provision possibly even even worse for DDT. It outlaws anonymous shell companies to help the U.S. in its battle against money laundering and terrorist financing. The new Corporate Transparency Act requires a report filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) identifying all beneficial owners and applicants forming a company registered to do business in the U.S. These people either own 25 percent or more of the company or exercise substantial control over it. Companies already subject to supervision or closely regulated by the federal government are excluded as are companies with more than 20 employees, $5 million in revenue, and a physical presence in the U.S. Private-equity and hedge-fund sector lobbying obtained other exemptions such as domestic investment funds advised and operated by a registered investment adviser.

The Act also protects whistleblowers who provide information to the authorities about the companies’ activities.

A shell company exists only on paper, has no employees, and makes or sells no products. It may not even have revenue—just a bank account and some assets to make it look legit. Anonymous shell companies are used to secretly move money through corruption and other criminal activities, thus making the work of compliance officials and law enforcement more difficult. A recent FinCen Files investigation found no one could discover who was behind the $2 trillion dollars moving through shell companies. The Tax Justice Network ranks the U.S. as second most secretive jurisdiction in the world, behind only the Cayman Islands and ahead of Switzerland, known for extreme secrecy in banking. Luxury real estate in wealthy New York and Miami locations rival Swiss bank accounts for rich clients. Journalists investigating leaked documents from FinCen discovered shell companies moving money for criminals operating out of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria.

Almost 2 million corporations and LLCs are registered each year at the state level in the U.S., and few states require companies to list actual owners. Delaware and a few others use anonymous companies for big business. Tax cheats deprive governments worldwide of $427 billion a year.

Shell companies allow criminals in the U.S. to easily evade taxes, launder money, and make illegal payoffs. Because social media doesn’t know who is buying advertising, shell companies are very popular in politics. DDT and his family have made use of shell companies when his fixer Michael Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels and Jared Kushner siphoned almost $700 million from DDT’s campaign donations. That’s likely the tip of the iceberg. Of the approximately 500 LLCs DDT put on his 2018 financial disclosure, including Mar-a-Lago, over half were registered in Delaware which doesn’t require reporting financial information or the owner’s identity.

Another report about the incompetence and illegality of his appointees in HHS came out this week, starting when Tom Novotny was fired as Assistant Surgeon General soon after DDT’s inauguration. His adviser, Joshua Prasad, went days later after his email announcing Novotny’s send off party, “The End of Science and Medicine.” That firing was used as an example, and more fired people are telling about legal and ethical violations although they were warned to be quiet. The department’s lack of abilities, so obvious during the COVID-19 crisis, began years ago with the tension from undermining the mission and trust of HHS. Political appointees from conservative religious groups also destroyed successful programs such as reducing pregnancy among teenage girls. They also wasted money by paying outside consultants doing the work of career officials, required prayer at meetings, and pushed their personal and political ideologies on career staff. The result is a completely demoralized department.

Coming up this week: a runoff against two incumbent GOP senators in Georgia where DDT has convinced most Republicans that it’s useless to vote; the reading of the electoral votes in an environment where over 20 percent of senators and over half the representatives support DDT’s overturning the vote in favor of DDT and plan to stall the process; the congressional joint session presided over by VP Mike Pence who “welcomes” the overturn of the legal vote of the people; potential violence in the nation instigated by DDT to protest the legal vote; far more deaths from COVID-19; and whatever chaos DDT creates.

 

December 20, 2020

DDT: Week 204 – More of the Same

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 18, 2020

GOP Sabotages Stimulus Bill, Economy

The United States is on the verge of another government shutdown, almost two years after the last one created by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his GOP minions. This one comes from the attachment of a stimulus bill to the budget which expires today, December 18. The general election slowed down any stimulus bill because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to destroy the economy for a Democratic president. He found no value in austerity when the GOP gave trillions of dollars to the wealthy and big business in the 2017 tax cuts and earlier this year with the CARES law giving billions more to big business. The hope last fall was that DDT’s name on another set of $1,200 checks for most people in the U.S. would make him—and other Republicans—reelected in the fall. There was no bill: Republicans came out of the general election better than expected, but DDT lost, much to the denial of his supporters.

McConnell’s decision was to vastly shrink the amount of the current stimulus bill to under $1 trillion while blowing up the amount by using money from the CARES law. He blocked the stimulus bill by refusing to send any money to local and state governments, in serious shape from the pandemic, and demanding big business have no liability for endangering their workers, even when they sit around and make bets about how many of their employees will die.

To further jeopardize the stimulus bill and the economy, the GOP tacked on another demand today, ending emergency lending programs for small and medium-sized businesses authorized by the CARES Act. The CARES Act states the programs don’t expire until 2026 unless Congress changes the law.  Language from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who doesn’t plan to run for reelection in two years, blocks all money in the Treasury’s rainy day fund, even funds not from CARES, from use in similar future programs to respond to a financial crisis. Of nine programs needing to be renewed at the end of 2020, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to scuttle five of them. Toomey wants to prevent any future Treasury secretary of either party from ever providing assistance for both small businesses and non-federal governments.

“My goal … is always to get as right-of-center an outcome as possible,” McConnell said when questioned about a crisis, specifically a government shutdown. His one goal is to stay in power, and he’ll do anything to keep the job. He admitted the only reason he might send out smaller stimulus checks is to reelect the two Georgia incumbent senators, who McConnell says are being “hammered” by the stimulus check issue, but he wants the amount small to depress the economy.  McConnell appears to be a DDT loyalist, but his admission about Biden being president-elect shows he will dump DDT when necessary. It’s not that he wants Biden; he just wants his Republicans to not look foolish so they will get reelected.

DDT wants stimulus checks to be up to $2,000, but White House staffers talked him out of the idea. Keeping the stimulus checks low will guarantee a struggling economy when Biden takes over as president and keep McConnell semi-satisfied. Under DDT and McConnell, poverty jumped 2.4 percent in the past five months, the highest annual increase since the 1960s. The shift from 9.3 percent in June to 11.7 percent in November added 7.8 million to the poor while people with a high school education or less—DDT’s supporters—faced a 5.1 increase in unemployment. McConnell figures these people will keep voting for Republicans because they get their falsehoods from conservative media.

To avoid a weekend shutdown today, the House passed a two-day Continuing Resolution to the budget by 360-60 which passed the Senate with a voice vote. Congress has until midnight on Sunday to pass a real budget and a real stimulus bill if DDT passes the C.R

Another Christmas Grinch, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), has twice blocked the stimulus bill. Johnson said:

“I’m not heartless. I want to help people. I voted to help people.”

A favorite Johnson strategy is accusing others of lying while he tells his own falsehoods. During Johnson’s committee hearing earlier this week  focusing on conspiracy theories about evidence-free election fraud, he blew up at Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), accusing Peters of having “lied repeatedly in the press that I was spreading Russian disinformation.” In the past, Johnson did exactly that about Hunter Biden, the son of the president-elect, in a ploy to get votes for DDT. In the midst of the budget and COVID-19 crisis, Johnson devoted three hours to pushing election fraud lies with three witnesses totally lacking credibility. Peters responded:

“This is not about airing your grievances. I don’t know what rabbit hole you’re running down. This is terrible what you’re doing to this committee… Whether intended or not, this hearing gives a platform to conspiracy theories and lies. It is a destructive exercise that has no place in the United States Senate.”

Some of the falsehoods from Johnson’s witnesses were already rejected in tens of courts; others had no basis. With no evidence, Johnson kept claiming fraud had occurred although the one expert witness maintained it did not. The only reliable witness, Chris Krebs, knew the election had no widespread fraud: he was the leader of the DHS cyber security agency until DDT fired him a few days after losing because Krebs wouldn’t say he found fraud. At the hearing, Krebs talked about how the lies about election fraud were worsening the climate of threats against elections workers, causing a “chilling effect” in future elections. Peters said some threats against Krebs were so serious that they had “to make some arrangements for your security to be here today to testify in person.”

Two days after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) supported Johnson’s view of election fraud, that the 2020 election was “stolen” from DDT, he objected to people voting in the Georgia election for two U.S. senators on January 5. He believes Republicans need to block a large voter turnout because it helps Democrats. Paul said:

“They’re mailing out a solicitation to vote by mail. This is not in the state law. I’m very, very concerned that if you solicit votes from typically non-voters, that you will affect and change the outcome. So I’m very worried that the Democrats will control all three branches of government.”

Conservatives control the third “branch of government”—the Supreme Court—because DDT controlled the executive and legislative branches during his first two years in the Oval Office. Paul announced Republicans can have a majority of the legislative branch only if a segment of eligible voters, especially Blacks, are disenfranchised. Paul may formally reject the electoral votes during the January 6 joint session of Congress.

The U.S. Army is refusing to follow Michael Flynn’s request for a declaration of martial law to force reelections in battleground states where DDT lost. On Newsmax, Flynn said:

“[DDT could] order the—within the swing states, if he wanted to—he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically re-run an election in each of those states.”

The response from Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville:

“There is no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of an American election.”

Despite Flynn’s claim that “it’s not unprecedented,” there is no record of a U.S. president declaring martial law for a new election. Flynn, a QAnon member, secretly worked with Russia after DDT’s election and before his inauguration to subvert President Obama. His business was also paid to secretly encourage the extradition back to Turkey of a longtime Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania for 20 years. DDT gave Flynn the same pardon President Gerald Ford gave Richard Nixon, absolving Flynn of “any and all possible offenses” arising from Mueller’s investigation, any related grand jury proceedings, and all charges based on “facts and circumstances, known to, identified by, or in any manner related to the investigation of the Special Counsel.”

In the past week, Steve Schmidt, formerly John McCain’s campaign manager, shifted his voter registration to Democrat, because of DDT’s and the GOP behavior:

“It was a joke in a lot of ways, but it was a coup. It was a failed coup. And the way you get to a second coup in most countries is by having your first unsuccessful one.”

Schmidt described the Democratic Party as the only one that “stands for the ideas and ideals of American liberty.” He declared, “I’m a single-issue voter now. I believe in democracy.”

December 18: daily U.S. cases – 254,680; deaths – 2,794. Thirty-three more days to go.

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