Nel's New Day

April 17, 2021

Systemic Racism Leads to Explosions

Last week, the trial defense for the police officer who killed George Floyd in Minneapolis rested after two days of their lies about the cause of Floyd’s death last summer—including the false accusation of carbon monoxide from car exhaust, thrown out of court.

Both prosecution medical experts testified the death came from lack of oxygen caused by nine minutes and 29 seconds of the officer pressing his knee on Floyd’s neck exacerbated by the officer’s refusal to permit any attempt at resuscitation. Law enforcement officials testified that the policeman who killed Floyd used excessive force and did not comply with his training.

Closing arguments start Monday before the jury is sequestered to make its decision.

According to the autopsy, Floyd had heart disease and illicit drugs in his system. Testifying for the defense, David Fowler, facing a lawsuit in his home state, said he would not have categorized Floyd’s death a homicide but admitted under cross-examination that Floyd should have received immediate medical attention, blocked by the police officer, to reverse any cardiac arrest.

The defense claimed no force because of no bruising, but prosecution testimony stated bruising wasn’t necessary to indicate loss of oxygen. Cardiologist Jonathan Rich said “the position that he was subjected to” meant his heart “did not have enough oxygen.” Pulmonologist Martin Tobin testified that a perfectly healthy person could have pulmonary failure under this type of physical restraint. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the police officer’s restraint “is not part of our training” and “in no way, shape, or form is anything that is by policy,” and a Minneapolis police lieutenant called it “totally unnecessary.” Other people testifying for the prosecution supported these statements.

The police officer refused to testify at the trial, claiming Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself. Last year he offered to plead guilty to third-degree murder with a ten-year prison sentence before then-Attorney General William Barr personally stopped the deal. This plea would have blocked federal charges, including civil rights, and the rapid resolution would have avoided the year-long protests about the murder. 

The officer’s conviction of second-degree murder, with a sentence of 40 years in prison, requires the finding that he caused Floyd’s death “while committing or attempting to commit a felony offence,” meaning assault. The lesser charge of third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, requires the finding that he committed an “act eminently dangerous to others … without regard for human life.” Although the judge blocked the third-degree murder charge, an appeal from the prosecution to overturn that decision succeeded because of a greater chance for conviction with a jury decision he showed disregard for Floyd’s safety. A second-degree manslaughter conviction with ten years in prison would come from the finding that the officer took “an unreasonable risk” that endangered Floyd’s life.

Three other police officers who stood and watched the murder will be tried together later this year for charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The Army has now disciplined soldiers in the D.C. National Guard for hovering only 55 feet over protesters’ heads to frighten and scatter the crowds. Then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy falsely claimed helicopters were to monitor crowd movements. One crew member said the mission was to “be loud … fly low over the crowds.” Ryan said then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) “fully vetted” the mission. Four of the five helicopters carried painted red crosses to identity them as medical transports; their use for non-medical mission without specific approval violates Army regulations, which they did not obtain. One reporter recounted pulling shards of glass from her hair spread by the helicopters. 

Emails obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted “covert surveillance” on protesters in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Albuquerque. DEA agents were assigned to “infiltrate” protests, monitor social media monitoring, and perform aerial surveillance. The DOJ authorized these DEA activities.

Protests for almost a year after Floyd’s murder by a police officer on May 25, 2020, focus on the law enforcement killings of black people for small offenses. Almost 800 people, almost all White, broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to stop the legal counting of electoral votes for the president of the United States. They beat up law enforcement officers, rifled through classified documents, vandalized the building, and threatened the lives of hundreds of people including members of Congress and the vice president of the United States. No one was arrested that day, and conservative judges and lawmakers are still trying to protect these criminals.

George Floyd paid with his life for trying to pass a $20 counterfeit bill—perhaps unintentionally. Fewer than seven years ago, Eric Garner was also choked to death for suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. A police officer put him into a chokehold after he tried to pull away from two of them. The unindicted killer kept his job in law enforcement for another five years. Both Black men, George Floyd and Eric Garner, repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” until they lost consciousness.

Since Floyd’s trial started on March 8, 2021, law enforcement has continued killing Black males, often with little provocation:

Chicago: A police officer chased a 13-year-old in an alley and told him to put his hands up. The boy started to comply, and the officer shot him dead.

Minnesota: Ten miles away from Floyd’s murder trial, in Brooklyn Center, a police officer shot a 20-year-old Black man dead when he tried tog et back into his car after a stop for expired license plates and an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror; she said she meant to use a taser.

Knoxville (TN): A police officer shot and killed a 17-year-old Black teenager in a school bathroom after reports that the boy had a gun. The first report stated that the teen had shot the school resource officer, but he was critically wounded by the officer who killed the student.

Daly City (CA): Police shot and killed a 44-year-old Black man sitting in his pickup truck with a flat tire because they claimed he had a gun on his lap. It was a BB gun. 

Almost all the victims of 64 fatal encounters with law enforcement within the past three weeks are are male, Black or Latino. Many of all the killings have no video evidence, unlike the death of George Floyd and the boy in Chicago. Fortunately, the video of the horrific traffic stop of an Army medic near Norfolk (VA) in the small town of Windsor has gone viral after he filed a federal lawsuit against the abusive police officers. The police officers threatened and attacked Lieutenant Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino, because he had temporary license plates on his brand-new car. When he was ordered out of the car, he said he was afraid to get out. One of the policeman said, “You should be.” Journalists wrote, “Nazario was pepper-sprayed, struck in the knees to force him to the ground and handcuffed. No charges were ever filed.” Police threatened to destroy Nazario’s military career if he talked about the traffic stop. Nazario is related to Eric Garner and called him “uncle.”

Veterans of color describe the racist abuse they have suffered. 

David Gray’s commentary on the difference between Black and White:  

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won’t take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won’t stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I’m too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won’t break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I’ll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won’t stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).

After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won’t even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We’ll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor).

“These are things white people simply do not have to think about.”

The United States is a tinderbox, waiting for the outcome of George Floyd’s trial. Without justice, the Black Lives Matter movement will blow up; with justice, conservatives, fueled by the hateful rhetoric from Fox and other far-right media, will come out in full Ku Klux Klan force. Summer will be very long.

April 10, 2021

DDT Gathers Faithful As Insurrection Reports Continue

With hundreds of his faithful followers gathering at Mar-a-Lago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is playing king for the weekend while reaping the financial benefits at his club, struggling since Joe Biden became president 81 days ago. DDT headlines the closed-door event to raise millions for the GOP in the luxury hotel Four Seasons four miles from DDT’s Florida estate, the location for his own fundraising. Participants can hear more lying rants about a “stolen” election wannabes such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota’s Gov. Kristi Noem, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton wait for DDT to give up. He also made the event a feeding frenzy against absent Republicans such as former VP Mike Pence, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Elaine Chao.

Fundraising comes at the end of a week when the media described DDT’s scams to rip off poor constituents. His campaign automatically took regular sums of money from donors, many of them poor, unless the victims rescinded this process after reading through the fine print. Outcries caused the campaign to return $122 million—11 percent of his take last fall—to hundreds of thousands of people who discovered they were duped. Many more not be aware of the their losses. For months DDT used the money interest-free.

Instead of backing down, the site now threatens people with being “reported” to DDT as “defectors” if they don’t donate. The NRCC is participating in DDT’s scamming the Republicans through texting a ten-minute chance to join DDT’s “new social media site”—which doesn’t exist—and then using a default box to double their pledge amount and make it recurring.  DDT’s campaign also sent out over 500 fundraising requests since his election. 

DDT isn’t the only GOP scammer. WinRed, the for-profit collecting a percentage of the donations, is now on the websites of GOP committees and congressional Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and McConnell with the same pre-checked boxes at the end of text-heavy messages. The GOP website is based on ActBlue, a non-profit website where Democrats can donate to candidates.

The relationship between DDT and the RNC became tense last month when his PAC told other Republican groups to “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”

Competing with DDT’s event at another of his Florida properties, the Doral golf resort in Miami, is a conference hosted by Women in America First, a group leading the D.C. rally contributing to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Notable among guests are such GOP rejects as Rep, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), stripped of all her committee assignments only weeks after being sworn in, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), investigated for several federal charges including sex-trafficking. Gaetz gave the keynote speech.

As DDT is back to doing what he prefers—giving speeches and taking money–documents show how he was MIA on January 6 as his crowd attacked the U.S. Capitol. The media politely called DDT “disengaged” while insurrectionists beat up police and vandalized the U.S. legislative headquarters. He failed to stop the attacks for hours after VP Mike Pence, his life threatened by DDT’s followers, ordered acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller to “clear the Capitol” and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made desperate pleas to military leaders for the deployment of the National Guard.

The Pentagon and DDT wanted to avoid a military presence after ongoing fiascos during the Black Lives movement protests, including the use of helicopters over D.C. attempting to intimidate crowds. The Pentagon didn’t plan to notify Miller until the protesters numbered more than 20,000 at the Ellipse, but participants who went to the Capitol became immediately violent, breaking into the building and assaulting police officers in their way.

Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, now replaced, called the National Guard commanding general William Walker for help at 1:49 pm and repeated his request 20 minutes later. Meanwhile, senators ran from the chamber, and rioters went through their desks while more insurrectionists broke through more Capitol entrances to the House chamber. The troops weren’t activated for at least 75 minutes after the first panicky telephone call from Sund, and they still had to make their way from Andrews to the D.C. Armory before they went to the Capitol. Executing a plan took another two hours, but Pentagon security forces were guarding homes of defense leaders.

Two hours and 28 minutes after the first call, DDT finally tweeted his followers to “go home and go in peace.” Walker didn’t have approval to send the Guard to the Capitol for another 13 minutes. Almost three hours after their first call, Pelosi and Schumer again called Milley and the Pentagon leadership for help. The first contingent of 155 Guard members didn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. The Capitol wasn’t declared safe for over six hours after the Pentagon was told about the insurrection.

Thus far, 377 people have been charged for the Capitol insurrection. Almost 20 percent of them are connected to the military, either currently or in the past, many with dishonorable discharges. A new study of these arrested 377 people by Robert Pape, a specialist in security threats, examines demographics and county characteristics from their homes in 250 counties in 44 states. Some findings about the majority:

  • Most are older and more professional than right-wing protesters from the past.
  • They typically have no ties to current right-wing groups.
  • They are 95 percent White and 85 percent male.
  • Many live near or among Biden supporters in blue and purple counties, 52 percent of them Biden comfortably won.
  • “Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.”

Another report reveals law enforcement at the Capitol had expired ammunition, ineffective shields, and warnings from two weeks earlier about a map of the complex’s underground tunnels posted two weeks earlier on a pro-DDT website.  Capitol Police failed to establish standard operating procedures for the Civil Disturbance Unit and had fewer officers at the Capitol day than previously listed. Leadership ordered officers not to use all of its less-lethal options and “operated at a decreased level of readiness.” The intelligence division didn’t require security clearances and had no training program for all employees.

A riot defendant is exchanging a plea for testimony against the far-right extremist Proud Boys, one of the “paramilitary” groups attacking the Capitol.  About two dozen insurrectionists connected with the Proud Boys have been charged with federal crimes. Another rioter is flipping against the Oath Keepers, another extremist group.

After their December attack on a Black church in D.C., the Proud Boys may be short on resources because of a lawsuit for committing acts of terror. The group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, has refused to respond, leaving the church close to a default win. Although Tarrio says the group is not a legal entity, leaders are tied to a network of LLCs in Florida and other places, crowdfunding at a Christian site, and at least one online store selling merchandise, some of it on behalf of DDT’s friend Roger Stone.

Documents indicate the violence at the Capitol was orchestrated before January 6 by several groups including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and QAnon. Their goal was to stop the counting of the electoral college votes. Deputy to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and two other members guarding Stone were indicted after the discovery of 19 phone calls over three hours during the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Calls indicated coordination of storming the Capitol, likely by Rhodes, along with a previously organized strategy. The total of indicted Oath Keepers for the event is now 12.

DDT escaped conviction at his impeachment trial for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol, but an investigation of his campaign shows his aides took dark money from campaign shell companies to subsidize the rallies—and riots. Women for America First, supposedly separate from DDT’s campaign, listed its staff members on a permit for the January 6 rally. They were directly paid by DDT’s 2020 campaign, and donations to DDT shelled out over $2.7 million to people and groups paying for the rally, one of them Megan Powers who received $290,000 for the campaign’s director of operations.

Fox network’s Tucker Carlson is spreading the fear of the “Great Replacement,” a theory believed by DDT’s supporters. White nationalists purport that mass migrations and low White birthrates supposedly replace White voters, perhaps why the insurrectionists come from counties with fast-increasing non-White populations. DDT spread the same fear almost four years ago by praising neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville (VA) and chanted “Jews will not replace us” before they beat up their protesters.   

Fox network, promoting the “replacement theory” opposing immigrants is run by immigrants: founder and co-chair Rupert Murdoch, born in Australia and living in the UK and the U.S.; co-chair and CEO Lachlan Murdoch, born in London and living in Australia; chief legal and policy officer Viet Dinh, Vietnamese refugee born in Ho Chi Minh City; lead outside director Jacques Nasser, born in Lebanon and grew up in Australia; and Fox director Anne Dias-Griffin, born and educated in France. And Tucker Carlson’s mother was a Lombardi, Italian people who were lynched by white supremacists in the South during the early 20th century. He has replaced a “White” voter.

March 3, 2021

Biden: DDT’s FollowersThreatening Lawmakers

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was exonerated by 43 Republicans in his second impeachment trial soon after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, despite DDT’s incitement of violence for his followers to breach the U.S. Capitol on January 6, kill and wound many people, and block the election of the next U.S. president by terrorizing congressional lawmakers. Yet DDT’s worshippers, usually QAnon conspiracy believers of DDT’s lies about voter fraud, are again stopping congressional work, this time on March 4, by again threatening to attack. House members had to change their voting schedule, staying late on March 3 to vote on a police reform bill instead of on March 4. This time QAnon believers ignore the 20th Amendment changing Inauguration Day to January 4, ratified in 1933. Convinced DDT will be inaugurated and return to the White House on March, MAGA people plan violence against elected federal lawmakers.

On March 4, the National Guard won’t be subjected to the same restraints to protect U.S. lawmakers as on January 6, when DDT was still in the White House. On March 3, National Guard commanding general Maj. Gen. William Walker testified in a Senate hearing that he was blocked on January 6 for over three hours from getting permission to stop the violent insurrection at the Capitol although he received immediate approval against Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

In the Senate hearing, Walker described how he put National Guard troops immediately on a bus after he received “a frantic call from then-chief of U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund,” with the report “that the security perimeter of the Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters.” He also alerted the city so he could quickly move the buses through traffic. Yet, Walker had to wait for “3 hours and 19 minutes” before he received permission to send the Guard. Miller supposedly gave approval for the Guard to support Capitol Police at 4:32 pm—almost three hours after the frantic calls, but no one told Walker for over 30 minutes. Walker said, “Seconds mattered, minutes mattered.”

Miller stalled his approval by demanding a complete explanation of how the troops would be used at the Capitol and what their assignments would be. While he stopped Walker from helping the Capitol Police, insurrectionists broke through window and doors, killed and wounded people, and vandalized the Capitol, inside and out. The officials in charge said they didn’t like the “optics” of the Guard protecting lawmakers. One of those objecting was Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, brother of Michael Flynn, who DDT pardoned after Flynn twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI about the investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 presidential election. Michael Flynn also wanted to declare martial law in overturning Biden’s election and promotes QAnon.

The intent to stop Walker from taking any emergency action on his own was evident. On January 5, Walker received an “unusual” letter preventing him from deploying any Quick Reaction Force service members without explicit approval from then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

Acting chief of the Capitol Police, Yogananda Pittman, also warned Congress that militia groups present at the January 6 riot “want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress for the first time. Because of this, Pittman said Capitol Police must “maintain its enhanced and robust security posture,” including fencing and National Guard presence. The date for that address by Biden hasn’t yet been decided. MAGA supporters force taxpayers to fund the National Guard in Washington, D.C. for lawmakers’ protections and for the fence around the Capitol, protecting lawmakers, which MAGA members want removed.

The House of Representatives Acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett sent a letter to lawmakers warning of Capitol Police’s “new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol” by a militia group on March 4 through March 6.

In a Senate hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that domestic “militia violent extremists” were responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol and are one of the biggest concerns for the agency. He specified those who “self-identify with the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers” in “white supremacy.” Several GOP senators, including Ron Johnson (WI) and Marsha Blackburn (TN), focused on the anti-fascists opposing white supremacists. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) still claimed anarchists were in the Capitol on January 6 despite Wray’s disagreeing with his position although Wray denied any “antifa” stormed the Capitol.

Wray also reported the number of domestic terrorist cases has doubled to 2,000 since last September because domestic terrorism “has been metastasizing around the country for a long time now.” Democrats criticized the failure of the FBI to highlight the terrorists’ threat of “war” at the Capitol, but Wray said the report was emailed to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force including D.C. and Capitol Police; posted on a law enforcement web portal; and mentioned in a command center briefing in D.C. He didn’t explain why the D.C. police chief was not phoned or why the information was not highlighted.

For months, people have complained about the ignorance of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for his insistence at putting Russian disinformation into the congressional record, conspiracies used as propaganda to falsely discredit Democrats. Now he clearly has trouble reading. Johnson plans to force reading of the entire 600-page $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill aloud to the Senate, requiring up to ten hours. He may not realize that 76 percent of voters—including 60 percent of Republicans—support the package. Or may not care that a portion of the money is designated for distributing hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses this spring and summer. The question is how constituents feel about Johnson running for re-election in 2022.

Governors in both Mississippi and Texas have announced the reopening of their states claiming their residents will do the right thing about keeping everyone protected from COVID-19. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, perhaps diverting media from his disastrous power grid during the “big freeze,” said people are protected by vaccinations. By now, seven percent of Texans have managed to get at least one shot. In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves wants to keep media attention from the tens of thousands of people in Jackson who can’t get running or clean water. Over half the states in the U.S. have lower rates of infections and deaths than Texas, and Mississippi is the fifth in the nation in death rates—45 states more successful. Biden has described the decisions to lift requirements for wearing masks and maintaining social distancing as “Neanderthal thinking.” This could be an insult to the Neanderthals because of their adaptability to different ecologies, development of highly functional tools, and survival of injuries and illnesses with the help from others.  

False stories from left-leaning and centrist news publications get fewer Facebook clicks, but lies from far-right publications get more clicks—almost twice as many. Researchers at the cybersecurity for Democracy project at New York University reported the rewards for far-right publications posting faulty information.

Protests can succeed. A study in Scientific America reveals police killings dropped 20 percent between 2014 and 2019 in cities with Black Lives Matter protests. Travis Campbell, University of Massachusetts Amherst and the study’s author, concluded:

“BLM protests also increase the probability of a police agency having body-cameras, expand community policing, and reduce the number of future property crime-related arrests, which may partially explain the lethal force reduction.”

More benefits from protests here.

Fox network continues to hire ultra-conservatives to keep its audience, but thus far the strategy has been a failure. In both January and February, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was the #1 most-watched show, and her network was the #1 most-watched cable news network during the day in February. Sean Hannity’s viewership is down 31 percent, and Fox & Friends dropped 40 percent. Maddow thanked her audience, saying she was “grateful and humbled.” She said, “We will keep doing our best to be worthy of your time and your trust for you tuning in.” For the past year, CNN was up 76 percent, MSNBC increased 37 percent, and Fox News was down 32 percent.

In an attempt to boost ratings, Fox rehired DDT’s former press secretary Kayleigh McEnamy who started her brief tenure in the White House by lying about never lying to the media. Some of McEnamy’s colleagues are not pleased, according to Daily Beast reporters Diana Falzone and Justin Baragona:

“The addition of a known and frequent liar to the Fox News roster set off some alarms within a newsroom that has been ‘purged’ in recent months in favor of right-wing opinion programming and content geared towards keeping a diehard MAGA audience satisfied.”

Earlier this year, Fox fired Political Editor Chris Stirewalt because he called Arizona for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Biden won Arizona, but Fox hates facts. The network joined the alternate reality and prefers people who incite insurrection. Its journalists “don’t give a damn about facts and real news.” One Fox News staffer said McEnany was rehired because “the viewers are morons.”

Even in retirement, DDT is contributing to offshoring: his golden statue presented at CPAC by an artist living in Mexico was “made in China.”

February 28, 2021

DDT Can’t Escape His History

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) has left the White House and denied access to his favorite communication device, Twitter, but investigations into events during his term in the White House continues to be exposed.  

A recently released report explains how Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was involved in how Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, was coerced into the Saudi embassy in Turkey for the purpose of torturing him before his murder and dismemberment. DDT consistently covered up MBS’s involvement in the crime for a number of personal reasons. MBS was also a personal friend of DDT’s his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The released intelligence report now fully proves DDT knew about MBS’ involvement in the killing since its occurrence in October 2018 despite his repeated denials.

DDT had been enamored with Saudi Arabia and MBS since his inauguration. His journey to the country was his first foreign trip after he moved into the White House. The media fully covered the visit where he tried to participate in the sword dance and touched  the glowing “orb” along with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. According to MBS, a new book by New York Times reporter Ben Hubbard, DDT was given the orb, but people were afraid the photos people took with it would cause a scandal. Hubbard wrote, “The orb was hidden away in embassy storage.”

DDT’s not-so-secret weapon to derail mail-in voting, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, has reappeared in a congressional hearing. In DeJoy’s first few weeks last June, he cut back workers, overtime, and equipment to drastically slow down first-class mail delivery so much that Congress tried to block him. Despite lost equipment from his beginning, most of the ballots managed to get delivered on time, thanks to the efforts of Democratic legislators. DeJoy has remained in his position because the DDT-appointed board for the postal service is leaving him there. During his hearing last Wednesday, DeJoy showed a high degree of arrogance. When Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked him how long he planned to remain as postmaster general, he responded, “Long time. Get used to me.”

In the hearing, DeJoy also promised greater delays in service along with higher prices, including no longer having two-day delivery for first-class mail and limit air transport for it. DeJoy said, “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter?” He didn’t address the fact that some first-class mail isn’t delivered for weeks. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The Postal Service needs leadership that can and will do a better job.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) joined other Republicans in accusing Democrats of conspiracy theories to create “chaos and confusion” in the information about delayed mail delivery. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) answered Jordan:

“I didn’t vote to overturn an election. And I will not be lectured by people who did.”

During the hearing, President Joe Biden announced his decision to fill the three vacancies on the nine-member USPS board with these nominees: Anton Hajjar, former general counsel for the American Postal Workers Union; Amber McReynolds, chief executive officer of Vote at Homes supporting mail-voting in the 2020 election; and Ron Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general on Biden’s transition team. Stroman quit last year because of DeJoy’s position on delaying the mail. Two of the appointments are Democrats; McReynolds is unaffiliated. She was Denver’s director of elections from 2011 to 2018 where she implemented a complete vote-by-mail elections system for the city. Appointments include two men of color and a woman.

The current DDT-appointed chair, DDT-supporter Ron Bloom, can also be replaced because he took the place of another board member whose term ended in December 2020. All the Republican members on the board are friends of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and, like DeJoy, have donated large sums to both the GOP and DDT. The entire board is composed of wealthy white men with limited postal service

Last week’s hearings included an investigation into the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by the House Appropriations Committee. Key moments:

Intelligence reported to the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters about an attack on January 5, but the department’s leadership wasn’t notified, according to former Chief Steven Sund, who resigned after the insurrection. The FBI sent an email the night before the attack about an eminent attack, but Washington’s acting Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee said a late-night evening email was not sufficient to highlight the threat.

The insurrection was coordinated, with prepared people bringing equipment such as climbing gear, explosives, chemical spray, etc. They used hand signals and radio communications when they breached the building. Some rioters claimed they were caught up in the spirit of the event, but members of far-right extremist groups planned the attack for weeks and months, judging by the criminal charges against them. Even DDT’s lawyers claimed the attack was pre-planned during the impeachment trial.

Pentagon officials were either unable or unwilling to rapidly sent National Guard troops, as evidenced by their delay after desperate pleas for help.

Sund said he asked the two former congressional sergeants of arms for an emergency declaration to call in the National Guard, but neither one recalled the request. According to Sund, Paul Irving said he “was concerned about the ‘optics’ and didn’t feel the intelligence supported it.” Irving denied saying that and couldn’t remember talking to Sund although Sund said he made the request at 1:09 pm on January 6.

Phone records prove Irving ignored Sund’s pleas for help, according to Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, who said Sund called Irving at 12:58 pm to request the National Guard as rioters breached the building. Lawmakers were forced into hiding. Sund called Irving another four times until 1:45 pm.

The continued presence of law enforcement and a fence remains, according to Pittman because militia groups announced their intention to “blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible” when Biden addresses the Congress.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), responsible in the past for putting Russian disinformation into the Senate record, read  a statement from an observer standing out by the fence that the violence came only after police provoked the protesters and “fake Trump protesters” were at fault. Before the hearing he had said there was no armed insurrection on January 6.

DDT’s financial records including his tax returns for eight years—reportedly millions of pages—are now with Cy Vance, Manhattan’s district attorney, for review after the U.S. Supreme Court refused DDT’s appeal to block the subpoena. The question now is whether DDT can slow the process long enough to get past the statute of limitations, six years in New York. State law, however, now excludes the time when a person charged with a state crime while acting as president, but the question is whether this exclusion is also for criminal conduct predating the law’s passage. If the law holds up, the time for limitations begins on January 20, 2021. Vance also has only ten months left in his current term and doesn’t plan to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, Vance has enlisted outside experts, including a forensic consulting firm, to examine the documents. The accounting records can determine fraud by showing how tax figures were calculated as were done in the Paul Manafort investigation. Manafort was sentenced to over seven years in prison before DDT pardoned him in December. Tax returns can also determine whether other financial records are false.

Despite DDT’s pardon for Steve Bannon, DDT’s former main strategist, DOJ prosecutors won’t dismiss the indictment against him as a matter of record. Bannon allegedly siphoned off over $1 million from GoFundMe donations for building part of DDT’s southern wall. According to Nixon v. United State, a pardon does not erase the grand jury finding probable cause for Bannon’s committing the indictment’s offenses. The prosecutors’ letter explained:

“Were the Court to dismiss the Indictment against Bannon, it could have a broader effect than the pardon itself, among other things potentially relieving Bannon of certain consequences not covered by the pardon.”

Vance’s office has subpoenaed Wells Fargo and GoFundMe for financial records tied to Bannon’s crowd-funding effort. Bannon may face state criminal charges which cannot be pardoned by a president.

DDT may have a parallel with the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City (NJ) which was leveled by an implosion on February 17, 2021. People paid $10 for watching it in person, and a front-row seat cost $575. The building was the first of DDT’s casinos going bankrupt with unpaid contractors and suppliers. During his campaign he bragged about how much money he made in Atlantic City where he put personal debts on the casinos, leaving debts to investors. The eyesore was destroyed as an “imminent hazard” because of falling debris and metal.

January 12, 2021

Six Days since Mob Attacks Capitol

As thugs stormed the Capitol on January 6, Rep. Lauren Boebert, newly-elected conspiracy theorist from Colorado, tweeted details about the attack in violation of orders to not make any social posts. Her live tweets included the removal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from the chamber, alerting attackers to her location. Before the mob broke into the Capitol, Beobert announced she was the “voice” of those fighting the police, and her former campaign manager praised the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist hate groups attacking the Capitol. Originally Boebert claimed conservatives weren’t in the mob. The conservative National Review called her tweet, “Today is 1776,” “reckless and incendiary.”

A current member of Congress, Boebert has access to highly classified information with no security clearance, a problem if she, along with other conspiracy theorists such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), decide to indiscriminately reveal what they learn. Until recently, congressional members were considered trustworthy with “allegiance to the U.S. Government and Constitution of the United States at a bare minimum,” as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) describes the requirement. The maximum penalty for revealing classified information, which requires a two-thirds vote by the House, is expulsion. Concern for clearance, even disqualifying factors, include attempts to overturn a free and fair election, fostering lies to foment insurrection, and stoking a crowd to use force. People who exhibit bad judgment should not be dealing with classified information, according to Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy. Although legal, supporting a vote to overturn an election assists the lie about widespread election fraud, and lawmakers making false congressional and frequently religious messages about combatting fellow lawmakers, who they call corrupt, incite violence.

After congressional members reinforced beliefs in election fraud, they justify their anti-democratic behavior by using vague claims about “voting integrity” or being a “voice” for their constituents’ concerns. Almost all senior GOP members on the Armed Services Committee overseeing national security programs voted to overturn the election, and four Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted for the election’s overturn. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), also on the Armed Services Committee, called on DDT’s crowd at the rally preceding the attempted coup to “fight” against a “godless, amoral, dictatorial, socialist” enemy, meaning his colleagues and the duly elected U.S. president and vice-president. He said:

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass. Our ancestors sacrificed their blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives to give us, their descendants, an America that is the greatest nation in world history. So I have a question for you. Are you willing to do the same?”

The Voice of America, the government broadcaster designated as an independent agency, has become DDT’s tool with his appointment of loyalist Michael Pack. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expanded the current use of VOA as a propaganda machine by ordering it to broadcast that the U.S. is “the greatest nation in the history of the world and the greatest nation that civilization has ever known.” His message was broadcast throughout the world on 47 foreign language channels, video streams, its website, and social media after a mandatory virus superspreader event for VOA employees.

Pack fired career managers, put in more loyalists, and dictated news coverage by overriding journalists, in opposition to the organization’s guidelines. Amanda Bennett, who resigned as VOA director soon after Pack’s takeover, said the VOA charter isn’t “intended to promote American exceptionalism.” She added, “It was intended to demonstrate the American value of a free press . . . to model one of our best freedoms, see what happens, and how good it is when you have it.” No journalists, including those from VOA, were permitted to ask questions after Pompeo’s speech. He claimed “wokeness, political correctness … points in one direction—authoritarianism.” According to Pompeo, “it’s time that we simply put woke-ism to sleep.” The slang term “wokeness” means attention to important issues, but the far-right has twisted the meaning to criticize people opposing ignorance. With no evidence, Pompeo also announced that Al-Qaeda has its home base in Iran.

On January 1, Pompeo initiated daily tweets claiming the U.S. is “much safer” now than four years ago because of DDT’s foreign policy. He cancelled this week’s trip to Europe because top officials, including Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, would not meet with him. Pompeo’s schedule had no meetings before the cancellation, and allies were “embarrassed” by Pompeo after the January 6 siege on the Capitol. Asselborn called DDT a “criminal” and a “political pyromaniac.” Pompeo also lost a private dinner with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at his private residence before meeting Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes. The EU opposes the U.S. “America First” policy, and Pompeo gave speeches advising countries to tear up the European Union. The rejection does not bode well for Pompeo’s anticipated presidential candidacy in 2024.

In the wake of impending violence this coming weekend leading up to the inauguration on January 20, military leaders issued a condemnation of the Capitol invasion last week. They reminded service members they were to defend the Constitution and reject extremism, sedition, and insurrection. The statement is highly unusual because the military avoid any political stances. The U.S. Army is working with Secret Service to find National Guard members, responsible for the security during the inauguration, who might have far-right extremist views. Additional training is also provided to service members about reporting inappropriate messages to the chain of command.

This reporting shows DDT’s delight in live TV he created with the help of other Republicans on January 6. The photo shows what a broken democracy could be.

The FBI first said it didn’t know anything about the planned siege on the Capitol and then claimed it didn’t report dangers about violence on January 6 because of concerns about “free speech.” Although willing to issue Special Event Bulletins about ISIS or Al-Qaeda terrorists threats, the FBI doesn’t want to exchange information about domestic terrorism. The agency will also put foreign terrorists under surveillance but not domestic terrorists. The FBI had numerous warnings about the possibility of violence, including from police departments, but claimed at first it had no intelligence. Later the bureau changed its positions to say it had some information about possible violence.

The day before the violence at the Capitol, however, an FBI office in Virginia warned about extremists going to Washington to commit violence and “war.” The internal document told of people sharing a map of the facility’s tunnels and rally points for conspirators in a number of states before traveling to Washington. It reported online calls for violence:

“Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in, and blood from their BLM and Pantifa slave soldiers being spilled. Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal.”

Pantifa is a derogatory term for antifa. The Norfolk FBI shared the information within 45 minutes, including the Washington field office. It was not immediately clear how many law enforcement agencies outside the FBI were told, but the information was briefed to FBI officials at the bureau’s Washington field office the day before the attack, this official said.

Since January 6, law enforcement officials have discussed whether the danger was minimized because most of the involved people were White supporters of DDT. Law enforcement took the position that pro-DDT protesters are not likely to commit violence, overlooking the imminent grave risk. The Pentagon is still calling the mob attack on the Capital a “First Amendment Protest.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, tested positive for COVID-19 after sheltering on January 6 with lawmakers refusing to wear masks. Attending physician to Congress and the Supreme Court had warned about exposure to someone with the virus. A video shows GOP congressional members refusing masks and sitting close together during the lockdown in barricaded rooms. Despite her fear of the rioters, Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA) said she had left a secure location because of dangers in contacting the virus from her maskless GOP colleagues. She was right. At least two other Democrats, Reps. Brad Schneider (IL) and Pramila Jayapal (WA), contacted COVID-19 after Republicans’ refusal to wear masks and maintain social distancing because of political reasons. Rep. Susan Wild said half the hundreds of lawmakers in a lockdown refused to wear masks even if they were offered them. In rejecting a mask, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) explicitly refused to take a mask, saying, “I’m not trying to get political here.”

DDT’s speech openly incited violence, according to 63 percent of the people in the U.S. A majority of voters also think GOP lawmakers especially Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), share responsibility to the mob attack on January 6. Over half the people think DDT should be impeached because of his attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and inciting riots. The attack on the Capitol dropped DDT’s approval rating to 33 percent. Sixty percent believe DDT is undermining democracy. Thus far, DDT’s low approval rating is higher than only those for Harry Truman and Richard Nixon at the end of their presidencies since F.D. Roosevelt.

Just one week before the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for U.S. president and vice-president, the day’s death rate from COVID-19 was 4,281–10,379 short of 400,000. New infections on January 12, 2021 were 223,628, three days from a total of 24 million.

 

January 5, 2021

January 5: Georgia Turns Bluer, GOP Plans Coup

Democrat Democrat Warnock has been declared winner of the Georgia senate seat to replace Kelly Loeffler, and Democrat Jon Ossoff has a small lead against David Perdue. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who always wants instant gratification, won’t be happy. Just like he wasn’t happy with his 62-minute telephone call to Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger to beg and demand the 11,780 votes to flip the state for him. He expects Raffenperger to “find” the votes and “recalculate.”

No knows who leaked the tape. Raffensperger admitted to taping the call, and several people participated in the conversation from DDT’s end. One source stated Raffensperger had said he wouldn’t release the tape of the call unless DDT “attacked him or misrepresented the call.” In a tweet, DDT accused Raffensperger of being “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions” about election fraud conspiracy theories, a falsehood according to the tape. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Raffensperger earlier this year and asked him to destroy ballots, Raffensperger said he was glad he had a tape of the call to prove Graham’s lying denial to ask for certification of Georgia for DDT. No matter who leaked the conversation between DDT and Raffensperger, DDT may have committed a crime. Steve Benen wrote:

“Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes were obviously a turning point in history. By most measures, these new revelations are considerably worse. The abuse is direct and unambiguous. The corruption is overt and deliberate. The recording is a bit like a glorified confession. We’ve known for weeks that Trump has been engaged in a lobbying effort, targeting state officials in the hopes that they’ll overturn election results he doesn’t like, but it wasn’t until yesterday that we heard the precise nature of his perverse pitch—which includes elements of madness, extortion, and fraud.”

GOP response? They have no problem with DDT’s criminal interference in a presidential election, but they are outraged by the leaking of the tape.

Since the general election, DDT’s followers believed the lies about election fraud, including a large number of congressional members—140 in the House and a baker’s dozen in the Senate—who then claim people who believe the GOP leadership lies about the concern regarding election fraud “deserve to be heard.” Like in 60+ losing court cases?  The only “reason” provided for widespread election fraud is that DDT couldn’t possibly lose the election. Fox network’s Tucker Carlson blames DDT’s loss on “virtually every power center on Earth [including] big business, Wall Street, the defense establishment, pharma, the permanent bureaucracy in Washington and above all, Silicon Valley.”

On January 6, congressional members hope to keep DDT in the Oval Office by protesting the states’ legal certification of Electoral College votes, forcing each chamber into a two-hour session for each protest. If one chamber—such as the House with a Democratic majority—accepts election votes, they remain valid. Several Republicans in the Senate have indicated disgust and dismay with the 13 trying to overturn the election in favor of DDT and promise to vote against the conservative opposition to democracy.

When the 117th House of Representatives was convened, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) challenged “the seating of members-elect from the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.” (North Carolina’s vote was closer than Michigan’s, but the GOP doesn’t mind because DDT won North Carolina.) Roy pointed out the claims of election fraud could also taint the elections of representatives and senators from these states because the same process was used to elect them.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), elected as an independent after her state’s GOP ran another candidate, opposes the coup because she “swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution“:

“I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election. The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results.”

On his Facebook page, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) posted:

“When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters…

“The president and his allies are playing with fire. They have been asking—first the courts, then state legislatures, now the Congress – to overturn the results of a presidential election. They have unsuccessfully called on judges and are now calling on federal officeholders to invalidate millions and millions of votes. If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote.

“We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) mourned, “Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”

Other GOP congressional members are coming out to vote against the challenge, including Sens. Jim Inhofe (OK), Jerry Moran (KS), Tim Scott (SC), and Tom Cotton (AR).  

Leaders of the attempted coup to overturn the presidential election struggled to provide rationales for their seditious behavior. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who has lost court cases to reverse the election, said that if legal elections are not nullified, “it will mean the end of our republic, the end of the experiment in self-government.” About his defeats, he called for violence, for the losers to “be as violent as antifa and [Black Lives Matter].”

A coup leader, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) attacked Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) for “shameless personal attacks” and “unfounded claims” about many court cases and AG Bill Barr’s statement disproving election fraud. Toomey also wrote about democracy being “the right of the people to elect their own leaders.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized people for their opposition in overturning a legal election. He told them to “calm down” and “tone down the rhetoric.”

Members of the coup who appeared on television like Hawley and Rep Clay Higgins (R-LA) cannot cite any evidence of “election crimes.” Two of them—Cruz and Hawley—aim at a 2024 run for the White House if DDT ever gets out of the way. Even VP Mike Pence, another presidential wannabe, said he “welcomes” the opposition to Biden’s win. 

Monday, DDT told a rally audience “if [Pence] doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much” after he told the crowd Pence would overturn the election results in DDT’s favor. At a lunch with DDT, Pence tried to explain he may not have the power to block the electoral votes for Joe Biden’s victory despite DDT’s false claim “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” Pence knows his role on January 6 is to preside over the counting of the vote and read them without changing them. Yet DDT maintains:

“The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.”

DDT prefers people believe the election was stolen from him instead of thinking he lost. Initially, DDT knew he lost, according to advisers, but a small group of insiders fed his delusion about erasing Biden’s win. Cleta Mitchell, an attorney advising DDT during his telephone call, left the law firm Foley & Lardner because its policy is not to represent “any parties seeking to contest the results of the election.”

The pro-coup Republicans in Congress use their MO of beating down the opposition with illegitimate arguments to destroy the reputations of Democrats. The GOP had ten hearings, one of them 11 hours long, about Hillary Clinton after four deaths at the diplomatic outpost at Benghazi. House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) blatantly stated the reason was to lower Clinton’s poll numbers. Now Republicans want a commission to audit already audited election results already examined in 60+ court cases where 80 judges, including some appointed by DDT, ruled no fraud.

Overturning the election doesn’t appeal to supporters of states’ rights who are opposed to the federal government making decisions, especially the U.S. president. Business leaders also know that this attempt decreases the stability of the nation: 200 leaders of the biggest companies signed a letter of protest to “thwart or delay” the electoral process.

Arrests of DDT supporters in Washington, D.C. for assault and carrying weapons started on Tuesday. The leader of the Proud Boys is banned in D.C. after his arrest for destroying a Black Lives Matter banner at an historic Black church in the city and carrying two “high-capacity firearm magazines.” D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser mobilized 340 National Guard members to help police after permission from the city’s National Guard commanding general Maj. Gen. William J. Walker and acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller. Guns are also banned “within 1,000 feet of First Amendment Activities” (aka protests) on January 4-7. The city also blocks openly carrying firearms, and licensing for concealed carry must be from the District of Columbia.

And the ignored COVID-19 surges. On January 5, 15 days before the inauguration, new infections in the U.S. are 226,593 and new deaths 3,543. Total deaths are 365,664—closing in on the 400,000 expected on Inauguration Day.

June 7, 2020

Week 176 – Some Positive Events

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser wants a peaceful city, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to turn Bowser’s city into a war zone. A military planner wanted guidance for the U.S. Northern Command in determining “route restrictions” for the “movement of tactical vehicles” and “military forces” from Fort Belvoir, Va., into the city to assist in “Civil Disturbance Operations.” DDT couldn’t get his tanks to the White House for a Fourth of July parade so he’s declaring war on Bowser.

Right now, she’s winning. Bowser just renamed the section of 16th Street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” to honor the peaceful protesters. She said:

“There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen, and to have their humanity recognized, and we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city. And it is that message, and that message is to the American people, that Black Lives Matter black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up as part of our values as a city.”

Bowser also asked DDT to remove all “extraordinary” law enforcement officers sent to the city as well as writing GOP Gov Mike DeWine of Ohio and Dem Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, ordering them to remove their National Guard troops from DC. She wrote, “I appreciate your service, but your presence encroaches on the rights of 705,000 tax-paying residents.”  

Until today, DDT refused Bowser’s request to remove troops, but he caved in to bad publicity and claims he ordered the National Guard out of DC—“now that everything is under control.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper had already demanded that National Guard use neither firearms nor ammunition and sent active-duty military from DC. Not involved in that decision, DDT spent the week trying to decide whether to fire Esper against the wishes of his advisers. Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy confirmed all 5,240 out-of-state National Guardsmen would be withdrawn from the nation’s capital within 48 to 72 hours and all 1,600 active-duty U.S. troops that had been put on alert outside the city earlier in the week had gone home.

National Guard troops and active military members are checking their options through the GI Rights Network if they refuse to fire on people in the United States. After watching events in the last week, a National Guard member wrote he no longer believes in a justified use of force:

“Most of all, I feel that I cannot be complicit in any way when I’ve seen so many examples of soldiers and police acting in bad faith.”

Protesters in Washington, D.C. have made the White House fortress fence into an exhibition. Posters, ribbons, flags and origami hung from its black holes, forming a makeshift exhibition or archive expressing both anger and grief from the protests. Next to “POLICE-FREE SCHOOLS,” a white shirt pinned to the fence displayed the slogan: “My body is not a target.” Today, DDT hides behind his fence in a “bigger bunker” from an enormous crowd of protesters.

In an emergency meeting last week, the Minneapolis City Council voted to ban police chokeholds and require officer intervention and reporting of any unauthorized use of force that law enforcement officers see. Since the beginning of 2015, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have used neck restraints causing people to become unconscious at least 44 times, an unusually high number according to police experts. Other mandated reforms are approval by the police chief for tear gas and disciplinary decisions in a timely manner.

Since then, a majority of city council members pledged to dismantle the Police Department because it cannot be reformed. They have no plans but plan to work with the community.

In Denver, a federal court issued a restraining order against Denver Police, prohibiting them from using chemicals and projectiles against peaceful protesters without supervisory approval.

The executive board of MLK Labor, the central body of labor groups which represents more than 150 unions and 100,000 workers in the Seattle, Washington, area approved a resolution to issue an ultimatum to Seattle Police Officers Guild—either address systemic racism or be expelled. With no response by June 13, the council will vote whether to disaffiliate from the Guild. The Minnesota Federation of Labor has ousted openly-racist Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation. Although the AFL-CIO will not expel the police unions, its president Richard Trumka said the labor movement must play a leading role in the racial justice movement “because protesting racial brutality, whether at the hands of a police officer, or a neighbor, or an employer, is not only the right cause. It’s a responsibility.”

Four years ago, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was blackballed for taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racism but started a movement. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement about racism, social injustice, and peaceful protests:

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter.”

In a tweet, DDT expressed his concern about Goodell’s anti-racist statement.

Hennepin County (MN) won’t get away with its autopsy finding for George Floyd of “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation.” The complaint had cited “underlying health conditions … likely contributed to his death,” blaming “potential intoxicants” and preexisting cardiovascular disease. An independent autopsy, however, found Floyd died from asphyxia “due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.” In addition, “weight on the back, handcuffs and positioning were contributory factors because they impaired the ability of Mr. Floyd’s diaphragm to function.”

A Scientific American piece defined the county’s “findings” as gaslighting, “psychological manipulation employed to make a victim question their own sanity, particularly in scenarios where they are mistreated.” The authors continue by explaining gaslighting toward blacks in ways that society blames them for the racist acts. A further explanation about the autopsy and the abuse of gaslighting in the medical field is here.

The county has released a more complete autopsy, listing blunt-force injuries to his face, shoulders, hands, arms, and legs not contributing to his death. It also listed drugs in his system but added that tests are not reliable.

Fox network actually apologized for connecting the death of George Floyd to the increase in the stock market in an “infographic” of S&P 500 correlating with horrific events such as Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination, police acquittal for Rodney King’s killing, the killing of Michael Brown, Jr in Ferguson (MO), and Floyd’s murder—all deaths of unarmed blacks resulting in extreme protests. Initially, Fox Business Insider defended its report but finally admitted to “insensitivity” and lack of “full context.”

In what may have been intended as a free speech move, the New York Times published an op-ed from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) inciting violence by encouraging martial law in the U.S. Staffers objected the piece as misinformation by NYT’s standards. The editorial page editor James Bennet has resigned after four years in that position and the deputy editorial page editor James Dao reassigned to the newsroom. Bennet had originally defended the essay but not read it before publication. “Free speech” in the First Amendment doesn’t include inciting danger such as lying about the people who are protesting.

Not all Republicans are fools. Some state GOPs—even in VP Mike Pence’s home state, Indiana—can’t find enough delegates to attend DDT’s anointment for candidacy because of COVID-19.

The Marines directed their corps commanders to “identify, and remove the display of the Confederate battle flag or its depiction within workplaces, common-access areas, and public areas on their installations.” The order is to “support our core values, ensure unit cohesion and security, and preserve good order and discipline.” 

Throughout the South, Confederate monuments are again being removed, following a movement started by a white supremacist killing nine black people at a Bible study. For example, Virginia’s Daughters of the Confederacy removed the statue of a soldier. In Richmond, the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee will come down as soon as possible with the approval of Gov. Ralph Northam and other officials. It goes into storage for the time being. Despite protesting state Senate GOP leaders, a fourth-generation descendent of Lee said, “We have created an idol of white supremacy.”

The Center for Democracy & Technology filed a lawsuit against DDT’s “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship” because it violates the First Amendment. His order targeted the federal law protecting tech companies from liability for third-party content on their sites.

Twitter refuses to be bullied. It marked DDT’s tweets for lies and “glorifying violence” and then pulled a four-minute ad campaign video for violating NASA guidelines. Former astronaut Karen L. Nyberg also objected to the photo of her and her son because she had never given consent. Twitter, joined by Facebook, also removed DDT’s campaign tribute video to George Floyd because of copyright complaints

From Sergio Peçanha comes this brilliant photo-essay about DDT’s infamous walk to the church.

May 31, 2020

Week 175 – Sunday Good News

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

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

 

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

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

Later, Swanson said:

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

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

More of Williams’ photographs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 7, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-three – Besieged on All Fronts

The possibly precarious mental state of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has become more and more normalized. The media largely ignored the fact that DDT doesn’t know he lives in the White House. He began his speech to children at the 140th Easter Egg Roll by saying by referring to the White House as “this house or building or whatever you want to call it because there is no name for it.” His claim that the unnamed place being in “tippy-top shape” was a segue to telling the children about the great economy of the United States and how the military would be “at a level it’s never been before” with the “$700 billion” funding.

DDT is also trying hard to keep the unethical EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, still suggesting last week that he might make him the DOJ Attorney General despite new scandals. Yet Pruitt’s unethical scandals keep pouring out with Scott Pruitt continues to have ethical problems. Added to scandals after my blog post earlier this week are his lies that his lobbyist renters didn’t have any business before the EPA (they did), the armored car that he wants taxpayers to give him, his failure to pay his pittance of rent without being hassled for it, the citation for his renters because they lacked a license to rent digs to Pruitt and his daughter, and the emerging scandal of former employee Samantha Dravis who unexpectedly resigned this week.

Pruitt called Dravis his “best friend,” and they had dinner together several times a week, and she carried out much of Pruitt’s anti-regulation agenda. She was among the staffers he took to Morocco to get business for his lobbyist renter although the trip had nothing to do with “environmental protection.” A Paris stop for the taxpayer-paid trip led to an extra day for them in “the city of lights” because they missed their first flight home. Dravis also got paid for three months when she didn’t show up at work. She was also the live-in girlfriend of Rob Porter, DDT’s helper who was fired for domestic violence, and reported him for abuse to WH counsel Don McGahn after she saw Porter with Hope Hicks. The information about Pruitt may have come from Porter as retribution for Dravis’ reaction to his dumping her for Hicks.

As Vanity Fair asked, “Can Scott Pruitt poison the environment enough to save his job?”

In the Russian investigation,

DDT waxed enthusiastic about being just a “subject” (not enough evidence to charge) instead of a “target” (lots of evidence), but investigator Robert Mueller moves forward like a bulldozer. DDT’s legal “team” can’t find replacements, and Mueller is amassing a report of DDT’s actions in office and pushing for interviews with DDT. The result could be an obstruction of justice. Politico has tracked DDT’s connections to Russia in these seven charts. According to DOJ documents, collusion is a crime, no matter what DDT claims.

The collusion information between DDT’s campaign and Russia was partially initiated by his adviser George Papadopouos getting drunk at a London bar two years ago and bragging to an Australian diplomat. Last week, he got tipsy—again—in a Chicago bar and told a new acquaintance, computer engineer Jason Wilson, that AG Jeff Sessions knew about the connections between Papadopoulos and Joseph Mifsud, an academic from Malta who told him about the Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in “thousands of emails.” Papadopoulos told Wilson that “Sessions encouraged me” to find out everything about the hacked Clinton emails.

Alex van der Zwaan pled guilty to lying to Robert Mueller’s investigation in the hopes that he would be out of prison before his wife gave birth in August. Apparently the tactic worked because he got a short 30-day sentence, probably by spilling lots of beans to Mueller.

A judge seemed to reject demands from Paul Manafort’ lawyer, Kevin Downing, to stop continued indictments from investigator Robert Mueller. Downing also argued that Mueller’s investigation exceeded the scope delineated by DOJ’s Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein but withdrew part of the civil suit dealing with this issue.

After missing deadlines for a congressional law, the Treasury Department issued sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies associated with them, a “state-owned weapons trading company,” and 17 government officials. Much of the vast profits made by these people and groups are stashed in the U.S. and UK.

Mueller has proof that Erik Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of Blackwater, lied about his meeting with a Russian banker in Seychelles to “establish a [back channel] line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration.”

The investigation has gone into the involvement of DDT’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to examine DDT’s business dealings, including those in Russia. DDT denies he has had any involvement, but former partner Felix Sater has talked about their pursuit of a hotel in Moscow with financing from the Russian bank VTB that is sanctioned by the U.S. government. DDT sought deals to put his name on a huge hotel in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, and taken out copyrights on a large variety of products in across the former USSR and Iran.  Partners of the Trump Tower Baku in Azerbaijan are relatives to a wealthy government minister with connections to the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s infamous military unit.

Joseph Schmitz, a DDT foreign policy adviser, pushed U.S. intelligence agencies to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails from the dark web.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want information about DDT’s “Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust” from the Office of Government Ethics. The purpose is to pay legal expenses for DDT’s campaign aides caught up in the Russian investigation, and the reason may be to obtain more favorable testimony for DDT. The Fund allows secret, perhaps prohibited, donations, but public documents don’t explain how it will vet donors.

On Easter, DDT tweeted that there will be no deal to help DACA youth, called on tough punitive immigration legislation, and threatened to close down NAFTA. Then he went to church to celebrate the resurrected person of color honored on that day. After eliminating the DACA program himself, DDT turned down 13 bipartisan agreements for saving DACA, some of them even his own suggestions.

DDT decided to withdraw troops from Syria because he thought we had defeated ISIS before he decided to leave the troops there. In the meantime, he’s sending the National Guard from consenting states to the Mexico border as leverage to get his wall although the military cannot enforce any laws without their being federalized by Congress because of an 1878 law. DDT’s idea was inspired by Fox’s segment called “Caravan of Illegal Immigrants Headed to U.S.,” an annual migration of over 1,000 migrants to protest U.S. immigration policy. Most won’t try to cross the border. Fox’s Tucker Carlson described Mexico as a “hostile foreign power.” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who continues to say that Mexico is not paying for DDT’s wall, cancelled his plan to visit DDT.

Texas is sending 250 National Guard members to the border, but lawmakers there are unhappy. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) explained why this action is unnecessary, using a town in his district as an example:

“McAllen is at a 32-year low in crime. We’re at a 46-year low in illegal entries. It’s the wildest thing in the world for us to hear that they want to bring National Guard troops to the border region.”

Arizona is sending another 150 members of the National Guard. George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard soldiers to the border in 2006 because of border agent shortage, and President Obama sent 1,200 in 2010. Ann Coulter wants the military to “shoot the illegals” coming across the border because “just standing there doesn’t do a thing.” Ted Nugent wants all Democrats shot and killed like “rabid coyotes.” DDT has already said that drug dealers should all be killed, and on a Christian political show, Idaho state Sen. Bob Nonini called for the death penalty for women having an abortion. Caught in a backlash, Nonini said that he “NEVER said or agreed the death penalty should be considered,” but his words are on tape.

Congress returns this coming week, and conservatives are pushing to remove spending increases from their recent budget law for $1.3 billion spending. A 1974 law allows these revocations. Several Republicans, however, aren’t excited about the plan and say that they’ll wait to hear from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who hasn’t even declared himself for re-election yet. Concerns about reversing the law include tough votes from the Democrats and negotiation in future spending deals which must be bipartisan.

HHS Office on Women’s Health has removed a website on breast cancer and other reproductive health information, including insurance information for low-income people such as no-cost breast cancer screenings. Much of the information has also been removed on a page dedicated to mammograms. The same agency has also removed LGBTQ health resources from its website.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’ new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead, tells how Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner offered her more funding for PP if she stopped abortion services.

The latest polling of DDT’s approval rating from the ultra-conservative Rasmussen survey came in at 47 percent, but DDT, never concerned about accuracy, claimed it was 51 percent—and then told people to add seven or eight percent to the poll. DDT’s average among polls is currently at 40 percent.

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