Nel's New Day

August 30, 2022

Biden Forgives Some Student Debt, Repubicans Whine

For the past week, the U.S. has focused on two major topics—the documents stolen by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and, to a lesser extent, President Joe Biden’s order to lessen the debt from student loans. After GOP lawmakers helped trillions to the wealthy and business through lowered taxes, subsidies, and corruption in COVID loopholes, they are outraged at annually giving a few billion to lower-income people for a new lease on life such as the ability to buy a home instead of paying egregious rent.  

According to Biden’s order, borrowers making less than $125,000 may have federal student loan debt forgiven up to $10,000 and Pell Grant recipients up to $20,000. Neither private loans nor Federal Family Education Loans qualify. Graduate loans qualify for the $10,000 but not the Pell Grant provision. The plan also caps interest rate at 5 percent instead of exorbitant rates of 8 percent and above that could not be refinanced at a lower rate. Continuing borrowers will pay only five percent of their income for undergraduate loans and ten percent for postgraduate loans over 10 or 20 years, depending on the debt.  Income is based on either 2020 or 2021 incomes. The student loan payment pause will also be extended for a final time through December 31, 2022. 

Since the 1990s, the average cost for annual tuition and fees at public four-year colleges increased 158 percent from $4,160 to $10,740 and 96.6 percent at private institutions from $19,360 to $38,070. Nationally, 45 million people owe $1.6 trillion in the federal student loans, and Biden’s plan forgives between 23 percent and 39 percent of them. In June, the Education Department canceled $6 billion for 200,000 borrowers who claimed they were misled and defrauded by colleges. Previously, Biden approved $26 billion in loan forgiveness for about 1.3 million borrowers, including defrauded students and public service employees.

Complaints:

The nine student loan servicers paid a small percentage of the loan balance or a fixed monthly fee by the federal government to manage the loan. Paying off the loan could have a long term positive effect although refinancing providers might have more of a negative result.

False claims of fiscal incompetence and lack of “fairness.” These come from the same people who complain about wealthy people being required to pay their legal income taxes and their paying a much lower percentage of taxes than middle-income families because of the GOP 2017 massive tax cuts. Some of these wealthy beneficiaries pay nothing or have a negative tax with the government paying them.

Recipients lacking good moral character. This quality was never investigated in the Bush recession bailout of banks, insurers, and auto companies. Lawmakers overlook their votes to give billions of dollars to farmers badly hurt by DDT’s trade wars, and congressional members personally benefited financially from laws they voted for, for example the forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to businesses paid by lower-wage blue-collar workers.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene whined on Newsmax that “it’s completely unfair” for student loans to be forgiven. She had $183,504 in PPP loans forgiven.
  • Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) tweeted the forgiveness was poised to benefit “Wall Street advisors” at the cost of “plumbers and carpenters.” He had $987,237 in PPP loans forgiven.
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) called the forgiveness “reckless” and a “unilateral student loan giveaway.” He had over $2.3 million in PPP loans forgiven.
  • Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) tweeted, “We do not need farmers and ranchers, small business owners, and teachers in Oklahoma paying the debts of Ivy League lawyers and doctors across the U.S.” He had almost $1.5 million in PPP loans forgiven. (And he’s running for U.S. Senate.)
  • Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK) lied about the “Party of the People” going after “working class Americans” with the IRS and higher taxes and “forced them to pay for other people’s college degrees.” He had over $1 million in PPP loans forgiven.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) earlier criticized Biden for the money Congress allotted to help Ukraine during the Russian invasion. He had $482,321 in PPP loans forgiven.
  • Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) sponsored a resolution in 2019 calling “student loan forgiveness” a form of “socialist” proposal and “antithetical to American foundational values of self-responsibility and opportunity.” He had $1,432,400 in PPP loans forgiven.

These handouts total about $8 million dollars, equivalent to 800 “giveaways.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) worries about recruitment for the military if young people can afford college:

“Student loan forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools at a time of dangerously low enlistments.”

In 2019, Frank Muth, general in charge of Army recruitment, bragged about student debt, then averaging $31,000, playing a major role in exceeding the Army’s recruiting goal for the year. This year, the military has its fewest number of recruits since the end of the draft in 1973. A recent Department of Defense youth poll gave top reasons for not joining the military: fear of physical and psychological wounds, fear of sexual assault, and a growing dislike of the military.

Sitting on the Armed Services Committee overseeing the Department of Defense and U.S. military, Banks has received over $400,000 in donations from defense contractors, weapons manufacturers, and other major participants in the military industrial complex. Committee members have received over $3.4 million from defense contractors and weapons manufacturers during the current election cycle.

Loan forgiveness doesn’t benefit everyone, but neither do national parks people don’t visit, cures for diseases most never contract, schools for people who don’t have children enrolled, streets not used by some people who pay for them. Bankruptcy doesn’t forgive debts for everyone. Only taxpayers who own houses and itemize their income taxes get the mortgage interest deduction for tens of billions annually across every taxpayer.  

A leader in inciting anger among his followers, DDT gave his usual arguments about being too expensive, U.S. “in decline,” etc. His classic statement, however, was his resentment toward “bailing out College Administrators who fleeced students”—his own words.  A major “fleecer,” DDT swore he would never settle a lawsuit against Trump University but paid $25 million for fleecing students. Students ran up their credit cards to pay DDT tens of thousands of dollars, hoping to become wealthy from insider information and instead attended workshops in hotels where salesmen pressured them to pay more money for more courses. No secrets, no one-on-one guidance—just fleecing.

The accusation that Biden and the Democrats are “vote buying” by giving people the forgiveness fits giving money to farmers, the wealthy, and big business who then donate money to GOP candidates. Donations are used to run ads to get votes, sometimes in advertising with atrocious lies.

The conservatives highly incensed when Biden called their philosophy “semi-facist” dragged out the old trope that the modest loan forgiveness plan for people making under $125,000 is a “socialist” giveaway to “elites” and “gender studies” majors, that one from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), accused by dozens of university athletic students for ignoring their complaints about a doctor’s sexual assault. As of 2014-2015, fewer than 1,500 people, out of almost two million receiving bachelor’s degrees, graduated with degrees in women’s studies. Biden said that almost 90 percent of people eligible for relief make under $75,000 per year and pointed out that “85 percent of the benefits of Congressional Republicans’ tax cut went to taxpayers earning more than $75,000.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) ranted about the “socialist handout” and “added burden.” The richest senator with possible assets of $500 million, Scott founded and directed a healthcare company charged with defrauding Medicare. During his tenure, the company agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines and admitted to multiple felonies for offenses.  

Although opposed to Biden’s plan, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had a few tweaks to student debt, hoping to sound somewhat compassionate. But he didn’t want to appear “liberal” or “socialist.” Rubio said:

“I owed over a hundred thousand dollars in student loans. The day I got elected to the Senate I had over $100,000 still in student loans that I was able to pay off because I wrote a book and from that money, I was able to pay it. If not I would have never, I would still be paying it okay? So it’s not about, I think the student loan thing in America is a big problem and it’s broken and it needs to be fixed and it needs to be reformed and I have bipartisan ideas.”

A solution to student debt? Just write and sell a book.

Recent polls find that 59 percent or 60 percent of respondents believe the federal government should eliminate all or some student loan debt for all borrowers. Half of those who agreed have never had student debt. Forty-five percent of Republicans support federal assistance with student loans, but the rest of them will likely have a meltdown after the Education Department announcement that it will cancel federal student debt for 79,000 borrowers who attended Westwood College from 2002 and 2015 at a cost of $1.5 billion. The for-profit school and its branches, which closed in 2016, engaged in lies, manipulation, and false promises long after its closure.

Republicans will likely sue to overturn Biden’s order, but he can announce any borrower suffering hardship from the pandemic can apply for relief to get their debts canceled. Filing a lawsuit, however, requires “standing,” proof that loan forgiveness creates concrete harm to plaintiffs and then prove that the order’s cancellation can remedy that harm. Borrowers can only wait and see.    

Satirist Alexandra Petria has a brilliant column about the “unfairness” of student loan forgiveness well worth reading  

August 23, 2022

DDT Keeps Monopolizing the News

More news about classified documents at Mar-a-Lago: John Solomon, conservative writer and a designated liaison to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) appointed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), released a May 10 letter from NARA that the agency and federal investigators “had grown increasingly alarmed about potential damage to national security caused by the warehousing of these documents at Mar-a-Lago, as well as by Trump’s resistance to sharing them with the FBI.” NARA had discovered over 700 pages of classified material, including “special access program materials” which are some of the most highly classified secrets in government, in the 15 boxes recovered from Mar-a-Lago last January.

A major question is why “Team Trump” would release this damaging information that makes DDT look even worse by confirming the large haul of highly classified national security materials illegally taken to DDT’s club. Lawyers have made no mention of DDT’s having declassified the documents, as he claims. Politico’s Kyle Cheney tweeted:

“Trump has been on notice since at least May of the FBI’s efforts to access this material. So his motion to seek a special master following the execution of the search warrant is months—not just weeks— late.”

The letter from National Archivist Debra Wall to DDT’s attorney, Evan Corcoran, also stated that DDT had no executive privilege; only the current executive branch of the government and president can grant this way for DDT to escape. Solomon posted the letter on his website, hoping to cause trouble for Biden. 

A fictional excuse for DDT taking top secret classified documents home with him after permanently leaving the White House is that he gave an order to declassify all the documents. Sycophant Kash Patrel, acting chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller after DDT lost his 2020 election, has been pushing the myth, citing DDT’s tweet from October 6 2020:

“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows rejected Patel’s claim in a sworn statement when a judge demanded clarification about the tweet. It was in direct opposition to the White House’s position to not classify the Russia records. Meadows conceded that the tweet was not an order to declassify or release any records. Meadows wrote:

“The president indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders, and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents.”

Patel refused to give up on his false assertion and said that he witnessed DDT declassify “whole sets of documents” in December 2020 and January 2021 while he was “on his way out.” Previously, however, Patel said DDT “failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings.”

According to protocol, declassification doesn’t happen in secret. Former Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called such a concept “laughable” because “part and parcel of any act of declassification is communicating that act to all others who possess the same information.” In July 2020, the 2nd Circuit Court stated that “declassification, even by the President, must follow established procedures,” according to The New York Times. There is no evidence that DDT even tried to have a “standing order” to declassify everything taken to his home, as he claimed. John Bolton, DDT’s former national security adviser, called the statement “almost certainly a lie.”

DDT’s possession of classified documents opened an investigation to his violation of the Espionage Act, possible obstruction, and removing and destroying official documents.

Thanks to the lies spread from GOP legislative leaders among DDT’s base, The IRS is facing threats to its 600 facilities, comparable to those in 1995 after the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building that killed 168 people and injured more than 500. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) isn’t spending its annual extra $8 million for the next decade to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, and it isn’t taxing people making under $400,000 a year. No matter. Lies are what the GOP campaigns thrive on, even if they kill people.

Fomenting the fear and hatred, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (D-CA) spread these lies from the House floor about the IRS on August 9:

“They have 80,000 employees. You know what the IRS also has? 4,600 guns. 5 million rounds of ammunition. Why? Democrats want to double its already massive size. With this new power, the IRS will snoop around in your bank account, your Venmo, your small business. Then the government will shake you down for every last cent. In light of [the FBI’s search of Trump’s residence], let me ask: Do you really trust this administration’s IRS to be fair, to not abuse their power?”

McCarthy wasn’t the only person to put these lies into the House record: he was followed by Andrew Clyde (R-GA). Sen. Rick Scott wrote an open letter last week to job seekers discouraging them from applying for IRS jobs. His ire was focused on a posting for an IRS criminal investigator to serve search warrants and make arrests with the insinuation that all the IRS’s new hires will “need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them.” Fewer than 3,000 of the IRS’ 78,000 employees work in criminal investigations and carry firearms.

Far-right extremist Proud Boys, supported by many Republicans, posted that the new IRS hires had to be “willing to use deadly force.” Other online memes from the white supremacist supporters compared IRS employees to Nazi SS officers and called for a “tea party” to tar and feather tax collectors. Twitter has permanently banned Luis Miguel, a GOP House candidate for Florida’s state legislature primary, for his tweet, “Under my plan, all Floridians will be able to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF, and all other federal troops ON SIGHT. Let freedom ring.” Facebook and Instagram allowed him to continue posting after that statement was removed. Miguel lost the primary to the GOP incumbent, Bobby Payne.

Last week, a three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court ruled that former AG Bill Barr failed to be honest about having a deliberate process after the release of the Mueller report into Russian interference on the part of DDT’s 2016 presidential election. The DOJ must now make public the internal memo prepared by senior lawyers in 2019 about whether ties between DDT’s campaign and Russia consisted of crimes usually charged by prosecutors. A judge said that Barr’s DOJ claim that the memo was part of his decision about prosecuting DDT is inaccurate and that the memo was more like a “thought experiment.” Barr decided DDT would not be charged with a crime before the memo was written.

A federal judge ruled that Arkansas violated the Voting Rights Act with a six-voter limit for those who help people cast ballots in person. He wrote that Congress gave voter their choice of whom they wanted to assist them at the polls other than their employer or union representative.

Justice has finally been served in the planned kidnapping of a public official, namely Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. A jury found two men, part of the far-right anti-government Wolverine Watchmen, guilty of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer in 2020 after a hung jury earlier this year. They were also convicted of conspiring to obtain a weapon of mass destruction in a plan to blow up a bridge as part of the kidnapping. 

 The men also went on “reconnaissance missions” to Whitmer’s vacation home, where they planned to carry out the kidnapping, and collected high-powered guns. Angry about Whitmer’s orders to stop COVID, they were also part of the hundreds of armed men who entered the state Capitol building. Two other men pled guilty and testified for the prosecution, and another two were acquitted in the trial deadlocked on the convicted men.

For years, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg had pled the Fifth Amendment, invoking his right against self-incrimination. No longer. Now that he has taken a plea deal, he can’t avoid answering questions about DDT’s business dealings. If he tries to back out of the deal, the 75-year-old man faces a 15-year prison term. He can provide valuable information about DDT’s business and person misconduct without cooperating in a criminal probe against DDT.

Rasmussen has long been known as having a conservative bent, but new discoveries about their polling, lowering the average using several polls, show that anti-Biden authors are paying Rasmussen for surveys about Biden as advertising for their books. The company has a history of this problem: President Obama typically received approval numbers about five points lower on Rasmussen than other polls. Part of the problem may be their phrasing of statements to sway the answers for negative responses to Democrats and their actions. For example, August used this one last August:

“It’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.”

Daily Kos blogger Steve Singiser sarcastically asked why Rasmussen didn’t add “how tax cuts regrow hair, whiten teeth, and ensure that your favorite team will win the Super Bowl this year.”

[Note: Something has happened at Rasmussen recently. It’s latest poll for Biden averaging several sources was 47 percent, six points over the average of 42 percent of likely and/or registered voters. 

And tomorrow–primary results from Florida, New York, and New York. 

August 6, 2022

Inflation Reduction Act Heads for a Vote

A Senate vote of 51-50 has sent the climate/healthcare/tax reduction bill for debate and a final vote by Sunday morning with all Republicans opposed. During a rare Saturday vote in the Senate, Democrats want to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) before Republicans head off for over a month at home trying to explain to their constituents why they are voting against the measure. Sad to say, the chamber’s parliamentarian has nixed lower prescription prices for the reconciliation (aka budget) process, and Republicans will be able to charge their constituents much more for medications. That way, GOP politicians can get bigger donations from the pharmaceutical industry. To beat the filibuster, ten Republicans would have to agree that 180 million people deserve fairer prices, and they won’t be doing that in order to deny any win for Democrats.

The parliamentarian’s and GOP decision will mean tens of millions of dollars lost in federal savings because drug prices, some of them paid for by the government, can be increased much higher than inflation as drug companies are doing. Yet this provision of the measure was the only one to fail the “Byrd bath,” so called because of the “Bryd Act” from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) passed in 1985. Reconciliation must be “germane to the budget” and cannot be considered an “extraneous matter,” confusing to those who see the government saving money with lowered drug prices as part of the budget. Byrd may have set the pattern for Democratic obstructionism from West Virginia.

Otherwise, the provisions in the IRA have passed the parliamentarian’s testing, including its package providing $369 for climate, much of it for tax credits to support clean energy technologies including consumer credits for “home energy efficiency improvements” and electric vehicles. The bill also retained its Medicare benefits by negotiating some prescription drug prices, capping out-of-pocket costs in Medicare drug plans at $2,000, and providing free vaccines through Medicare.

The ability to avoid the filibuster through the reconciliation process comes from the 1974 Congressional Budget Act (CBA) passed over Richard Nixon’s veto. It permits additional spending compared with additional revenue. Both parties have used the process: in 2017, Republicans used it to lose $2 trillion in revenue by cutting taxes for big business and the wealthy. With reconciliation, the CBA limits debate to 20 hours evenly divided between the two parties before the Senate holds a final simple majority vote on the bill.

Last November, the Build Better Bill was on track to pass through the reconciliation process until Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) torpedoed the bill in December. After seven months of dissension, Manchin agreed to a new bill that he renamed the Inflation Reduction Act. With the new bill on the floor, Republicans can offer challenging amendments to strip the main provisions and force Democrats into votes that can politically damage them in midterm campaigns. Even with these amendments, Democrats can erase changes with a final “substitute” known as a “wraparound” amendment if Manchin will vote for it.

Amendments must be germane to the bill and not cost the government additional money unless they strike provisions in the measure. After the 20-hour debate period, amendments can be presented but not debated. Amendments violating the Byrd Act must be approved by 60 percent of the senators. Anyone presenting an amendment must stand and read it to the Senate. The presentation of amendments after the 20-hour debate is called the “vote-a-rama.” 

When (if) the Senate passes the bill, it goes to the House which will hopefully pass it without changes that would require it to go back to the Senate. GOP senators have promised to make the process as difficult as possible, “’like hell,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He added Democrats “deserve” it. Republicans have also spread lies about the bill which conservative media outlets including Fox have told their audiences such as the lie about the proposed law raising taxes on people making under $400,000.

Republicans said their 2017 tax bill, determined through reconciliation, would lower taxes for everyone in the U.S. It didn’t. Only big business and the wealthy got lower taxes. Now they say that the Inflation Reduction Act will raise taxes for everyone. It doesn’t. This disinformation comes from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) based on the Joint Committee on Taxation which omitted several factors in its analysis, especially the way the new law changes IRS processes. The analysis also overlooks the IRA’s financial benefit to middle-income families. Yet Crapo admits that Ira doesn’t raise taxes on most people.

Graham also claimed the law would make life “more difficult” for people in the U.S., but the opposition is true. In addition to the Medicare benefits, it will:

  • Cut carbon pollution dramatically with emissions in 2030 project at 40 percent below peak levels.
  • Lower energy costs by allowing people to shift to cheaper electricity for home heating, cooking, and driving, a savings of $500 for the average household with total spending on oil down by almost 25 percent over the decade.
  • Create millions of jobs with investment in refurbishing old factories; building new factories; requiring high wages; and mandating apprenticeship training for companies using clean energy tax credits by increasing domestic production of batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.
  • Invest in communities suffering the most from environmental and health hazards that cause health problems and deaths.
  • Crack down on wealthy tax cheats by more fairly enforcing the tax code that has seen income tax audits of households annually earning $5 million or more drop to only two percent in 2019 from over 16 percent in 2010.
  • Fix loopholes allowing wealthy corporations and Wall Street fund managers to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by requiring that each corporation with at least $1 billion worth of profits pay a minimum of 15 percent of their profits in taxes instead of none.
  • Cut inflation and drive down the deficit through fairer taxes; increased supply investing in manufacturing and clean energy; and decreased costs for energy, health care, and prescription drugs.

Ten Republicans were missing for the bill’s first vote, but Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said he expects they will return for the vote, perhaps hoping the Democrats will lose some votes for the required majority. In a petty attack, Republicans claim that Democrats aren’t testing for COVID to keep their vote number up. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) debunked that claim and pointed out Republicans “wouldn’t wear masks…, wouldn’t test…, tested positive and still showed up?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attended the bill’s early votes on Saturday although he tested positive for COVID this week.

Discharged from rehab after an emergency hip replacement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 82, is expected to be present in the Senate chamber. The Senate president pro tempore signed the CHIPS and Science Act at the Capitol on July 29.

Long-time holdout Democratic Manchin never does anything for free—that’s why he’s a multi-millionaire. In this case, his payment is legislation streamlining permits for his state’s 303-mile, two-state Mountain Valley Pipeline and removing jurisdiction from a court that keeps ruling against the project. Nearby residents have fought against the construction of the huge natural gas pipeline that may contaminate rural streams and cause erosion or landslides. It can impact water, endangered species, and public forests. The 4th Circuit Court has ruled against the pipeline for years because developers and permitting agencies skirted regulations during DDT’s control. Now the court may assign the case to a new three-judge panel. The outcome, however, is not actually a done deal.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) willinness to support the IRA came from an obscure tax break called the “carried interest loophole” or “the carry” that taxes private equity and venture capital income at a lower, 15 percent rate, lower than for other taxpayers. It was included in the original IRA, but Sinema’s donors want it removed. And so it was. Instead companies have to pay a new 1 percent excise tax on the amount of stock they repurchase, still reducing the federal deficit by up to $300 billion.

Republicans are working hard to spread lies about IRA’s effects, but they aren’t completely successful. Of the voters, 73 percent, including 52 percent of Republicans, support the bill. Another 64 percent of voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate supporting the bill.  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill will provide at least a deficit decrease of over $100 billion in the next decade, even as much as $300 billion. The deficit could be even more because the CBO didn’t factor in all the effects of the bill. The $124 billion in revenue from building enforcement of IRS laws was considered a lowball estimate. It’s a win for the vast majority of people in the U.S.

The bill’s resolution should be available by tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Good News, Bad News – Economy, CPAC, Etc.

First, the good news. Employers added 528,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent, the lowest rate since February 2000 and tying for the lowest rate since 1969. The past 19 months saw consistent new job gains since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) saw none during his four-year term. Increases crossed all sectors; leisure and hospitality led the way with an additional 96,000 jobs.

Despite the good news, Republicans insist the U.S. is in a recession because of negative GDP growth for the past two quarters following massive growth, part of their strategy to defeat Democrats. The Bureau of Economic Research, however, doesn’t use the negative GDP as the only guideline for a recession; it is “a significant decline in economic activity” spread across industries with the most important measures personal income and payroll employment. Both currently show growth. Recessions aren’t determined until several months after the fact with official federal reports on jobs, income, consumer spending, and manufacturing. One Republican, Sen. Roger Marshall (KS) provided his own definition:

“Recession, to me, is when I go back home and the community bankers say, ‘Hey, Doc, what’s going on? Business is slowing down. Why are people afraid to invest?’”

President Joe Biden had other reasons to feel good this week:

  • Congress passed the CHIPS and Science Act to move manufacturing from Taiwan.
  • His strike killed al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader.
  • Kansas strongly passed a pro-choice ballot initiative to support women’s reproductive rights.
  • The PACT Act to expand healthcare for veterans suffering from such problems as toxic burn pits.
  • The U.S. 8 percent uninsured rate fell to an all-time low even with 12 states rejecting Medicaid expansion. 
  • Gas prices fell for a straight seventh week.
  • Democrats may be on target to approve the Inflation Reduction Act.

Alex Jones, on the other hand, had a very bad week. He accidentally sent two years of his phone’s contents to the defense attorney in his first Sandy Hook defamation trial and perjured himself on the stand. The jury penalized him $4.1 million in compensatory damages and then added another $45.2 million in punitive damages. Jones’ lawyer hopes that Texas’ limit for $750,000 keeps the total to $1.5 million for the two charges. Using his media, Jones repeatedly lied about the massacre of children and educators and spread conspiracy theories about the victims and their families, calling the tragedy a “hoax” and “staged.” In his testimony, Jones said a jury award of $2 million would financially destroy him, but an economist examining his finances estimated his wealth between $135 million and $270 million hidden in shell companies.

The DOJ, created in 1870 to cover illegal acts that states refuse to prosecute, charged four current and former Louisville (KY) police officers with federal crimes connected to the 2020 law enforcement killing of Breonna Taylor. Her boyfriend fired one shot at the officers when they broke into her apartment in the middle of the night to serve a “no-knock” warrant. The officers shot 22 bullets, hitting Taylor in the chest. Charges against the police, who lied to get the warrant, include civil rights violations, conspiracy, use of excessive force offenses, and obstruction.

The DOJ is also suing Idaho in opposition to its restrictive abortion ban refusing pregnant women lifesaving care if they suffer from unexpected, serious complications. Other states have the same restrictions, but some of them have DDT-packed judges in their appeals courts. Idaho’s appeals court is the less-biased 9th Circuit Court, and the state’s ban is a conventional criminal law instead of the Texas experimental statute designed to evade judicial review.

A conflict between Idaho and federal law comes from the ban stating that the physician can be prosecuted “merely by showing that an abortion has been performed, without regard to the circumstances.” Unlike federal law, health is not a consideration; care can be given only “to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.” According to Idaho law, the physician must choose between losing a patient’s life or risk prosecution—and a medical license. In the 9th Circuit Court, only active judges can vote if a case goes from a three-judge panel to “en banc” with the chief judge and ten other active judges selected at random.

The media complaining about Biden’s low ratings need to keep up with their own news. The latest Monmouth University poll shows an increase in his approval ratings to 38 percent with last week’s USA Today/Suffolk poll at 39 percent among registered voters. In the Monmouth poll, 50 percent of people prefer Democrats controlling Congress as opposed to 43 percent choosing Republicans. The seven-point preference for Democrats is up from June when the two parties tied at 47 percent and May when the GOP four-point lead was 48 percent to 44 percent. 

Speeches at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) conference this weekend show a panicked GOP. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called Democrats “the enemy within,” a greater threat to the U.S. than all the war throughout the nation’s existence. “The militant left has now seized control of our economy, of our culture and our country,” he said. In a possible run for 2024 president, Scott issued a 31-page platform that erases transgender people, eliminates any questions about race on government form, and completes DDT’s wall. With no evidence, hse also accused Democrats of trying to silence opponents and redefine the U.S., “destroying just about everything they touch and they’ve got their hands on everything.”

The focus of CPAC in August 2022 was Christian nationalism. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick erased the Founders when he said:

“We’re a nation founded upon not the words of our founders, but the words of God because he wrote the Constitution.”

DDT will speak on Saturday, but Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán may be the linchpin after support for a white-only country. Days earlier, he had spoken against a country of “mixed race,” and a long-time adviser resigned and called it a “pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels [the chief propagandist for the Nazi party in Germany].” Orbán’s opposition to immigration, globalism, and gender fluidity match those of the MAGA right, the same messages that he delivered when CPAC went to Hungary in May. Like DDT and MAGA, Orbán finds issues such as separation of church and state, LGBTQ rights, pronouns, drag shows, the 2020 election results, etc. as battlegrounds between good and evil. He assured his audience that “a Christian politician cannot be racist,” lying about the Nazis being anti-Christian. 

Other notables spread their slime at CPAC, but the world had more news:

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) lost his primary for re-election this year, but he seems determined to spend the donations he collected for the general election he won’t have—on himself. The FEC threatened him with legal action for failing to report his campaign’s finances in May so he filed a statement of organization on July 15, declaring himself the treasurer and custodian of records for the campaign. This move leaves him open to personal civil liability for not reporting on time. Cawthorn raised $3.5 million for re-election, but he’s now $220,000 in debt to donors, including campaigns of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and billionaires Bernie Marcus and Steve Wynn as well as far poorer people. He spent the money on consulting fees for his friends, hotel rooms in Florida, alcohol, cigars, and food. Cawthorn’s quarterly financial report is also over two weeks late. Not as bad as trying to get guns onto airplanes and multiple DUIs but still illegal. A political future for the 27-year-old has probably disappeared.

This week, an Aitkin County jury exonerated Minnesota pharmacist George Badeaux after he violated state law by refusing to fill a prescription for the morning-after pill. Also a pastor, he told the woman he was following his “beliefs,” discouraged her from trying another local pharmacy, and failed to provide information about any other availability of the medication. Finding a pharmacy 50 miles from her home willing to help, she made the three-hour round trip in a snowstorm with her 2-year-old son in the car. The jury found that Badeaux didn’t discriminate against her on the basis of her sex. Men can get pregnant? She plans to appeal.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that the agency opened “a number” of investigations into abortion-related violent crime incidents since six justices overturned Roe v. Wade. What he didn’t investigate was Brett Kavanagh after receiving reports of his sexual misconduct—4,500 tips about him. Wray just turned them over to DDT. Thanks to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for pressing Wray in the hearing despite the FBI director’s attempt to crawl out of answering. Wray also tried to explain that not investigating is the “longstanding process” that “we take direction from the requesting entity,” who he claimed was DDT. Kavanaugh is one of two current justices whose investigations into sexual assault were a sham. Clarence Thomas is still there after 30+ years.

The carcinogenic pesticide Roundup continues to be popular, including in my neighborhood, but a study has found over 80 percent of urine samples from both children and adults contains the chemical. The percentage has increased since the 1990s when Monsanto introduced genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with the pesticide. U.S. farmers use over 200 million pounds annually of the glyphosate in Roundup sprayed directly on corn and soybeans as well as on non-GE crops such as wheat and oats. Baby food contains glyphosate.

July 27, 2022

GOP, DDT Reject Human Rights

After a year, the Senate passed a bill to provide $280 billion for chip manufacturing, design, and scientific research. Seventeen Republicans supported the bill in the 64-33 vote with only one member of the Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in opposition because of its weak guidelines. The U.S. has contributed no money to chip manufacturing, compared to the $150 billion that China pays to support the industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she had the votes in her chamber for the bill.   

Most of the funding goes toward advanced, rather than basic, chips, the majority currently coming from Taiwan. The U.S. went from making 37 percent of the world’s chips in 1990 to only 12 percent while the nation contributes “nearly nothing” to their manufacturing  compared to China’s $150 billion investment. Even with the advantages to their states, some senators, such as Tommy Turberville (R-AL) ignored the importance of chips, i.e., a critical component for Javelin missiles, manufactured in Turberville’s state.

After Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans to force the removal of tax increases for the wealthy and big businesses from the bill, he failed to vote after testing positive for COVID.

In Congress, Republicans joined Justice Clarence Thomas to make women into baby incubators by removing female rights to travel, contraception access, and marriage to whom they love. Although 47 GOP House members voted for marriage equality, only eight supported the right to contraception, and 205 Republicans voted against women traveling across state lines for an abortion. This dystopian vision of the U.S. comes directly from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The GOP refusal to protect marriage equality and contraception is exactly the same Republicans used to deny protection for Roe v. Wade—their assumption these rights will never be overturned. Yet justices are calling the 2015 marriage equality ruling “undemocratic,” “a problem that only [the court] can fix.”

Sen. Joni Ernst has also blocked a bill legalizing contraceptives; at 52 years old, she probably doesn’t need them. Ernst made her reputation—and may have gotten elected in 2014—with a TV ad about comparing her goals in the Senate to castrating hogs.

Twenty House Republicans also supported human trafficking by voting against a bill to combat the problem. One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), criticized Democrats for doing nothing about protecting victims. Another naysayer, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), is under investigation for sex trafficking at least one underage girl. Pence’s former aide, Marc Short, said about Gaetz’s recent speech to Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, “I’m actually surprised the Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that.”

In his speech to Turning Point, Gaetz said all anti-abortionists were fat and ugly, that they couldn’t get pregnant anyway. After a 19-year-old Texas girl objected, he used her photo to support his lie and sent her a vile insulting tweet. She used his body-shaming abuse to raise $214,000 thus far for an anti-abortion group.  

DDT’s favorite network—no, it isn’t Fox—may disappear after Verizon Fios stopped carrying One America News, removing 3.5 million subscribers. Earlier this year, OAN lost its biggest revenue when AT&T dumped DirecTV off the service in April, losing another 15 million subscribers. Far to the right of Fox, OAN created a haven for pundits who couldn’t get jobs on other channels, those willing to promote conspiracy theories including the “stolen” election.  OAN has admitted Verizon thinks that the channel is not “a credible news organization.”

Perhaps not noticing that CNN’s new CEO is directing the network to the right-wing dark side, DDT threatens to sue the company for defamation going back to his 2016 presidency campaign. DDT is still claiming his 2020 election was “stolen,” as recently as his speech in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. Clarence Thomas has said the Supreme Court should create an easier environment for people to win lawsuits against the media.   

DDT’s speech seems to be winding up to another presidential campaign with the lies about stolen elections and LGBTQ people front and center, especially trans women. For example, he misgendered swimmer Lia Thomas, accusing “him” of having “arms that are 30 feet long” and “seriously injur[ing]” a competitor “because he swam so fast that he gave her major wind burn as he went by.” Thomas also wasn’t named “female athlete of the year” and didn’t break the record “by 38 seconds.” DDT also talked about a transgender weightlifter who doesn’t seem to exist. In his speech, DDT called LGBTQ people “sickos.”

Fifty-five trans candidates running in 2022 have been joined by 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Some of them are in red states such as Montana and Oklahoma. A total of 1,068 LGBTQ candidates, an increase of 73 percent since 2020, is running this year when legislatures introduced 162 anti-LGBTQ bills before July 1. Congress has 11 elected LGBTQ members.

Witnesses in the House January 6 probe are revealing more of his lies. The Pentagon now supports the many claims that he never called on the National Guard to protect the U.S. Capitol. DDT’s former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said DDT never requested the 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol before January 6, a claim made by both DDT and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. DDT’s former official Mick Mulvaney will also testify before the committee; he says he believe the testimony of witnesses Cassidy Hutchinson and other top former DDT officials,

After eight hearings from the House January 6 investigative committee showing DDT’s involvement in the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, the DOJ is taking steps to investigate him. Concerns include DDT’s attempt to force former VP Mike President to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election and DDT’s ties to establishing fake alternate electors in battleground states he lost. In five of seven states, these electors appear to be driven by DDT’s lawyers with DDT also involved. The DOJ interviewed witnesses, seized phone records of his top allies, and searched the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark who enabled DDT in his election-fraud theories. AG Merrick Garland has repeatedly said that no one is above the law, and the Fulton County (GA) criminal investigation into DDT’s efforts to overturn the election is also expanding.

Furious about the investigation, DDT used his Truth Social to repeat his lies and conspiracy theories—“massive and irrefutable” evidence about the “rigged and stolen” election, his “perfect” phone call to Georgia begging for more votes to make him a winner, and more whining about his impeachments and Russia scams. The extensive quotes, complete with excessive capital letters, are here.

The DOJ has a new warrant to search John Eastman’s phone in the continued investigation regarding a criminal conspiracy between DDT and his lawyer to overturn the election, partly through using fake electors. Eastman’s employer, conservative Claremont Institute, is backing off from its staunch DDT support after standing by Eastman before it learned more about his actions. Now they’re lamenting that he decided to jettison the Constitution for DDT’s benefit. The question now is how the think tank can separate itself from Eastman.

The House committee evidence supports charges of obstruction of an official proceeding with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and used against hundreds of insurrectionists along with possibly seditious conspiracy, like charges brought against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. In a new poll, 79 percent of people think DDT’s actions on January 6 were illegal or unethical with only 21 percent believing he did nothing wrong. Even 55 percent of Republicans agree with either illegal or unethical behavior, the same percentage of Republicans who don’t want DDT as the 2024 candidate. The 69 percent of people who believe the January 6 attack to be a crisis or major problem for American democracy is up from 65 percent earlier this year.

Leaked audio from Steve Bannon, added to his saying that DDT would declare victory on election night even if he lost, are his conspiracy with exiled Chinese mogul Guo Wengui and his associates to spread the lies that Hunter Biden’s computer, Joe Biden’s son, contained proof about salacious crimes. Guo controls pro-DDT media sites spreading far-right disinformation. Before the election, Guo’s associates disseminated videos and photos of Hunter Biden in sexual encounters and drug use.

After paying almost $2 million for DDT’s legal bills, the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said the money stops if he becomes a 2024 candidate using the weak excuse of its “neutrality policy.” Earlier, DDT backed down when McDaniel made the same threat after DDT said he was creating his own political party. DDT’s leadership PAC, Save America, and his presidential committee-turned-PAC Make America Great Again PAC are paying legal bills for issues related to January 6, raising concerns about his witness tampering.

A Harvard study of almost 500 documents shows primary motivation for 417 Capitol rioters charged for insurrection: support for DDT, 20.6 percent; DDT’s lie about a stolen election, 20.6 percent; “peacefully protest,” 7 percent; and “general interest in violence,” 6.2 percent.  

July 21, 2022

January 6, 2021 Hearing – July 21, 2022

The eighth hearing from the House January 6 investigative committee lasted 135 minutes and covered 187 minutes while supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) followed following his orders to violently destroy the orderly process of announcing electoral votes for the next president of the United States, Joe Biden. For that entire time, congressional members, their staff, and others were hiding from the insurrectionists while the Capitol Police tried to protect them. The Secret Service, who also feared for their lives and made goodbye calls to their loved ones, smuggled VP Mike Pence out of the Capitol and into safety from the mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence” because he didn’t follow their demands.

Complainers about how the hearings’ information has already been in the news are, in part, correct, but witness testimony verifies what was formerly called hearsay. DDT attacked a Secret Service driver when he demanded he was going to the Capitol for the insurrection and had to be forced back to the White House where he sat in his dining room and watched Fox reporting on the insurrection. For almost three hours he refused to take any action, despite begging from family, friends, and advisers; as Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-OH) said, “He chose not to act.” DDT would not allow any photographs and legal record-keeping of his communications during that time. 

Committee Vice-chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) facilitated the session, and Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS), isolated after testing positive for COVID, spoke by video at the beginning and end of the hearing. Kinzinger and Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) led the questioning of witnesses Matthew Pottinger, former National Security Council official, and Sarah Matthews, DDT’s deputy white House press secretary. Matthews, a House GOP staffer, has already been attacked as a liar and a pawn for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the House GOP account from the office of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Jeremy Adler, one of Cheney’s top aide, shamed Stefanik’s team because Matthews is “doing her patriotic duty.” The tweet was then deleted. A second tweet calling tonight’s hearing “heresy,” perhaps meaning hearsay, was also deleted.

Clips at the beginning and end of the hearing play speeches immediately after January 6 by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) given on their chamber floors. McCarthy said, “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters” because he didn’t act “immediately.” McConnell said, “It was obvious that only President Trump could end this” because people were acting on Trump’s behalf and blamed DDT for using false voter-fraud claims to inflame supporters.   

The committee revealed more hearings are planned for September after Congress returns from its August hiatus. More people are volunteering testimony to support the proof DDT’s dereliction of duty and violating his oath to protect the U.S. Constitution.

Showing DDT’s dereliction of duty, White House counsel Pat Cipollone gave a detailed timeline on DDT’s January 6 activities during the insurrection, beginning as early as 2:00 pm when Cipollone and several others pushed for a statement to call off rioters. After a long pause, he answered a question by adding that everyone in the White House wanted the insurrectionists to leave except DDT.

Outtakes of DDT’s videos to—reluctantly—stop the mob’s violence and his follow-up speech the next day demonstrate his refusal to include any mention of peace and vilification of the insurrectionists (which Republicans still call “tourists”). He also couldn’t say, “The election’s over.” DDT did not call any agency—not Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, or any other—for a response to the attack. That was left of to Pence while he was in hiding. Then White House chief of staff Mike Meadows told Gen. Mark A. Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to say that DDT had called him, not Pence, in an attempt to make him look as if he were in control. Earlier, DDT refused to take a call from the Pentagon that was seeking to “coordinate on the response to the attack.” Adviser Eric Herschman told Cipollone that “the president didn’t want anything done.”

DDT wasn’t through after the failed insurrection. His personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani made calls reinforcing support for the plan of overturning the election to such congressional members as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-Mo), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). A voicemail for Tuberville laid out the scheme: “just slow [this hearing] down.”

DDT left his dining room for his White House residence at 6:27 pm on January 6 after his last tweet of the day, a love note to his followers:

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide victory is so unceremoniously, viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly, unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and peace.”

The last thing DDT said on January 6 was “Mike Pence let me down.” Herschmann said everyone left the White House because they were “drained.”

At the Capitol, congressional members came out of hiding, resumed the electoral vote counting about 8:00 pm, and then finished their job at 3:41 am EST on January 7, 14 hours and 41 minutes after they started. The counting must be done in a session beginning son January 6 unless Congress passes a law changing it.

Senate staff had saved the paper Electoral College ballots when the chamber was evacuated because the mob was breaking into the building.

A lasting video of the eighth hearing is Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) running in terror through the halls and down steps. This was after he thrust his fist in the air in support of the protesters and adding fuel to the violence while he was behind the barricades.

Three days after the insurrection, texts from DDT’s campaign officials and loyalists Tim Murtaugh and Matthew Wolking show their disgust and rage with DDT when he didn’t even acknowledge the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick on the night of January 7. Wolking wrote, “Everything [DDT] said about supporting law enforcement was a lie.”

Viewers see the hearings as building a criminal case against DDT and his enablers of seditious conspiracies in overthrowing the government and forcibly opposing its authority. The DOJ can use the committee’s work. Just as important, however, is “to stop Trump’s continuing attack on American democracy,” according to Robert Reich who lists six ways through the hearings:

Be crystal clear that the continuing attempted coup is based on a lie through repeatedly playing DDT’s former AG Bill Barr stating:  

“I saw absolutely zero basis for the allegations [of voter fraud], but they were made in such a sensational way that they obviously were influencing a lot of people, members of the public, that there was this systemic corruption in the system and that their votes didn’t count and that these machines controlled by somebody else were actually determining it, which was complete nonsense. And it was being laid out there, and I told them that it was—that it was crazy stuff and they were wasting their time on that. And it was doing a grave disservice to the country.”

Showing the battle between democracy and authoritarian is non-partisan with all the GOP witnesses who worked for DDT, GOP legislators, GOP-appointed judges, GOP-elected state officials, etc. They are all citizens disgusted by and worried about DDT’s attempted coup.

Appealing to Republican lawmakers to stop supporting DDT’s continuing attempted coup in stressing oaths to defend the U.S. Constitution. 

Explaining how average people fell for DDT’s treachery with disastrous results with witnesses such as Stephen Ayers representing the ordinary “family man and a working man” who took part in the insurrection because he thought DDT wanted him there.  

Reminding people of their duties to democracy as Committee chair Thompson said in the seventh hearing:

“We settle our differences at the ballot box. Sometimes my choice prevails, sometimes yours does, but it’s that simple. We cast our votes. We count the votes. If something seems off with the results, we can challenge them in court, and then we accept the results. When you’re on the losing side, that doesn’t mean you have to be happy about it. And in the United States, there’s plenty you can do and say so. You can protest. You can organize. You can get ready for the next election to try to make sure your side has a better chance the next time the people settle their differences at the ballot box. But you can’t turn violent.”

Presenting DDT’s attempted coup as ongoing like Cheney did when she described DDT’s attempts at witness tampering.

The hearings are making a difference. Without them, DDT’s popularity would increase as people lack information and forget. Instead, the 57 percent of people say DDT has, at least, a good amount of blame for the January 6 insurrection, up from 53 percent six months ago. Half the people think DDT should be charged with crimes based on the evidence presented in the hearings. At least 58 percent of people in the U.S. are paying either a lot of attention (25 percent) or some attention (33 percent) to the hearings.

The drip, drip, drip accumulation about a corrosive DDT provided by the hearings is eroding support for him, shown in polling, focus groups, and fundraising. Part of DDT’s problem is that he won’t stop litigating the 2020 election, which some describe as “Trump fatigue.”

And new evidence will be back in September hearings!

 

June 24, 2022

SCOTUS Religion Consumes U.S., Destroys Women

[Mass Shooting: June 23, 2022 – In Philadelphia, two men were killed, another went to the hospital in critical condition, and a fourth suffered non-fatal leg wounds.]  

According to the website of the U.S. Supreme Court, “the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law.” This court is failing. The six Supremes (SS) overturned Roe v. Wade (1973), possibly the worst decision since Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), which ruled that Blacks cannot be citizens even if they are “free.” After almost 50 years of moderate freedom, all women able to become pregnant can be childbearing slaves, incubators for the males who impregnated them—even molesters and rapists.  

The Supreme Court bucked popular opinion in only three major rulings during the past 60 years: permitting flag burning in Texas v. Johnson (1989), the 1966 court ruling for Miranda requiring law enforcement to inform suspects of their rights to be silent and seek an attorney in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), and supporting mandated integration busing of Black children to white schools in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971). Congress immediately passed the Flag Protection Act, overturning the Supreme Court, and on June 23, 2022, the SS overturned Miranda by removing the ability to sue law enforcement by not reading them these rights.

All three of these unpopular decisions expanded the rights of people; these SS vastly shrink people’s rights, favoring the U.S. minority of evangelical Christians, big business, and law enforcement—although police prefer not to have unfettered concealed carry of weapons. In the 21st century, the majority of Supreme Court justices uses religion and politics, not the law or constitution, to determine their decisions. Their inexcusable rational for “no” is “it’s not in the constitution” and the reverse for “yes.” 

Technically, Chief Justice Roberts only voted to uphold Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, but he’s still complicit in the plot against women’s rights because he said Roe should be overturned. Within hours after the ruling, abortion is illegal in 10 states, another seven will soon join the ban, and four more within weeks. The number changes minute by minute. (The map is from early June 24, 2022.) Other states will charge into legislation to take the rights from women in their states, resulting in women losing their rights in half the “united” states. Women’s health will be dependent on where they live, how much money they have, and who their supporters are, exaggerating the current problems of healthcare which also ties into their race.

Roe prevented states from banning abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy and limited the ability to regulate abortion during the second trimester. In 1992, the high court ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey changed the trimester guideline to fetal viability. Samuel Alito, who wrote the decision, claimed the right to abortion doesn’t exist in the U.S. Constitution. As in his opinion, he repeated his ignorance of history demonstrated in the leaked draft by stating that the right to abortion “was entirely unknown in American law” until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 as a fake excuse that “the Constitution and the rule of law demand” the question of abortion return to the states. And his “historical rationale” for overturning Roe from directions by a medieval judge and a 17th-century witch-burner,

Alito has wrongly argued that contraception could prevent almost all unplanned pregnancies. He complained about nonexistent “barbaric” medical procedures but refers only to the fetus and not the pregnant woman who will die without an abortion or who is carrying a dead fetus. For emotional reasons, anti-abortionists uses the term “baby” for any embryo, zygote, and fetus to create a sense of guilt.

Brett Kavanaugh, who violated the law as a judge when he tried to prevent an undocumented girl incarcerated at the southern border from obtaining an abortion, tried to appear “moderate.” He claimed that today’s ruling “does not outlaw abortion throughout the United States.” The SCOTUS majority hates precedent, however, and this ruling, joined by a concurring opinion from Clarence Thomas, endangers federal rights to contraception and marriage equality, words also not used in the constitution. He didn’t mention biracial marriage, but with a White wife, Thomas won’t go there. (Thomas’ wife leads the SS.)

Alito argued that no other rights are at risk, that abortion is unique because it deals with “potential life.”  The religious view that contraception is a type of abortion, as five justices granted in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores (2014), makes all rights to contraception easy pickings for the SS. Roe is also based on Griswold v. Connecticut, which granted a federal right for married women right to birth control. The SS have claimed that privacy isn’t included in the constitution; all rulings remove that right—unless it deals with a leaked draft of a Supreme Court ruling.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) says Roe’s overturn “will work out for everybody.” Praised for his choice of three justices, he answered, “God made the decision.” Former VP Mike Pence, a 2024 presidential hopeful, wants a national ban on abortion, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, another presidential wannabe, is enthusiastically calling for abortion restrictions in her state.

The dissent from Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor explains that, according to the ruling, “from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

In the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino wrote how much worse women’s lives will be than before Roe:

“We have entered an era not of unsafe abortion but of widespread state surveillance and criminalization—of pregnant women, certainly, but also of doctors and pharmacists and clinic staffers and volunteers and friends and family members, of anyone who comes into meaningful contact with a pregnancy that does not end in a healthy birth. Those who argue that this decision won’t actually change things much—an instinct you’ll find on both sides of the political divide—are blind to the ways in which state-level anti-abortion crusades have already turned pregnancy into punishment, and the ways in which the situation is poised to become much worse…”

Tolentino describes many of the ways women have already been criminally charged and the lengths to which fanatical anti-abortionists will go to hurt women.

“Search histories, browsing histories, text messages, location data, payment data, information from period-tracking apps—prosecutors can examine all of it if they believe that the loss of a pregnancy may have been deliberate. Even if prosecutors fail to prove that an abortion took place, those who are investigated will be punished by the process, liable for whatever might be found.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described overturning Roe “one of the darkest days our country has ever seen.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) called a hearing in the judiciary committee next month “to explore the grim reality of a post-Roe America.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talked about how the most recently nominated conservatives—three of whom overturned Roe—swore under oath that they “respected authority” and the “precedent of the court, that they respected the right of privacy in the Constitution.” In the past two days, Pelosi said, the court contradicted itself in its rulings. In overturning a 1913 New York law, the same SS ruled that states cannot make laws “governing the constitutional right to bear arms,” Pelosi said. “Today, they’re saying the exact reverse, that the states can overturn a constitutional right for 50 years, a constitutional right for women having the right to choose.”

She concluded, “Their hypocrisy is enraging, but the harm is endless.”  

About the ruling, Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) praised the SS who “rightfully returned power to the people and their elected representatives in the states.” That description doesn’t fit a myriad of other decisions that force Supreme Court rulings on all the states. Recently, the SS ordered that state courts can order the execution of innocent people and that states must pay tuition at religious schools. 

Youngkin’s “power of the people” didn’t appear in the religious decision. A May CNN poll showed 66 percent of people don’t want a complete overturn of Roe compared to 34 percent who do. Back to 1989, no more than 36 percent have wanted the ruling overturned. Seven in 10 people think the decision to have an abortion should be left up to a pregnant person and their doctor rather than being regulated by law.

Both Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) expressed disappointment in Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, saying they trusted what the two justices said during the confirmation. Manchin further said that, although a Catholic and pro-life, he has “come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else’s definition of pro-life.” These senators, however, are not known for following through.

Republicans have what they said they wanted. Now they head into a vast swamp of problems they created—high infant mortality, lack of care for women and children, increased need for prisons by criminalizing all connected to any abortion, expensive health and life care for fetuses unable to permanently function without ventilators and other needs, more divorces, greater crime, need of support for child care, the growth of poverty, and increased need for foster care as Republicans take children from mothers because of GOP-legislated child abuse. Texas already has a law criminalizing parents who allow transgender children any medical care connected to their gender dysphoria. The GOP’s pattern of dealing with these problems: nothing and whining nonstop about lazy people who won’t work and women who have children only to get undeserved taxpayer money.

Rejoicing Republican women may not want to be in jail when their miscarriages are assumed to be a self-inflicted abortion. Or lacking medication for after a miscarriage from a doctor’s refusal to prescribe it because it’s same as the one causing an abortion. Or their names on data bases the minute anyone knows about the pregnancy to make sure they won’t get an abortion. Rachel Maddow has more on her program. 

Much more will be written about this Supreme Court travesty in upcoming days, but that’s it for me on “a day that will live in infamy.” 

The U.S. beacon of democracy is extinguished.

March 30, 2022

U.S. Putin Wing, Great Russian Assets

QAnon and wingnut pundits are going to put satirists out of business, unable to match the latest theory espoused by Lara Logan, presenter on Fox nation which streams for the network. According to Logan, the wealthy Jewish Rothschild family paid Charles Darwin to create the theory of evolution. On the podcast As We Know, she purported the theory is a hoax, because the question of evolution, a “chicken or the egg” debate, cannot be scientifically answered. Logan has a trail of lies, such as comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci and his vaccinations to the Nazi Doctor Josef Mengele who conducted horrifying experiments in the Holocaust concentration camps. After that comment, Logan had to find a new talent agency. She is one of the many U.S. assets for Russia who spread its disinformation. For example, this lies that Ukraine caused the invasion and Russian President Vladimir Putin is the “man standing between us and the New World Order.” This theory comes from the conspiracy theory that Jews want to control the world.

The Rothchilds are popular with conspiracy theorists. On her Facebook, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) claimed they funded a space laser starting the California wildfires. Greene also blamed Ukraine for the invasion, claiming the country is controlled by Nazis. In a video, she said she wants no more military aid sent to Ukraine and called on Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to surrender. Greene added that people in the U.S. don’t care about Ukraine and blamed President Obama for the non-existent “bioweapon labs” in Ukraine. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) agrees and thinks that President Joe Biden is collaborating with Ukraine in these labs for chemical weapons.

Logan’s and Greene’s false allegations of “bioweapon labs” in Ukraine have already been debunked several times. In reality, the “labs” are biological research facilities attempting to better detect, diagnose, and monitor infectious-disease outbreaks.  And Hunter Biden was not “financing” these labs. He had no part in a decision to invest in a company at the center of the Russian allegations; he did not profit from it because he was fired by the firm from cocaine allegations; and the company made little money from its tiny bit of business in Ukraine.

Interviewed on Real America’s voice Just the News, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), another Russian asset, called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to find dirt on President Joe Biden’s family. He claimed the wife of Moscow’s late mayor gave Hunter Biden and Joe Biden each $3.5 million. DDT cited a Senate report prepared by Republicans that reporting that a Russian oligarch gave $3.5 million to the company he claims was founded by Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Joe Biden explained that the firm giving Hunter money was not the same one which received the “consultancy agreement” payment from Baturina and that there is no indication of any corruption or relationship to Hunter.

The pattern follows DDT’s calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s “missing” emails during his 2016 presidential campaign. On the day DDT made this request, Russia started targeting Clinton’s accounts. In 2018, DDT also tried to blackmail Zelensky into releasing damaging information on the Biden family by withholding congressionally approved military aid.

DDT’s interviewer, John Solomon, had been fired by the conservative publication The Hill for his smear campaign against former against former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch using sources considered not credible. Solomon also had questionable relationships with DDT’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associate Lev Parnas behind the effort to find dirt on both Bidens in Ukraine. Parnas recently pled guilty to wire fraud.

In his speech last Saturday to a smaller than usual crowd in Georgia, DDT went back to praising the world’s top autocrats. He called China’s Xi Jinping “smart” ruling over his country “with an iron fist,” North Korea’s Kim Jung-Un “tough,” and Putin also “smart,” although putting “200,000 troops on the border” was a “big mistake, but it looked like a great negotiation” that “didn’t work too well for him.” DDT’s close associates such as Roger Stone and Roger Bannon have opposed aid for Ukraine.

Among congressional members, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-SC) called Zelinsky a “thug” and Ukraine “incredibly evil.” Eight House members voting against revoking Russia’s normal trade status: Lauren Bobert (CO), Thomas Massie (KY), Matt Gaetz (FL), Andy Biggs (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Dan Bishop (NC), Chip Roy (TX), and Glenn Grothman (WI). Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) supported Russia by voting against a resolution to support Ukraine. Seventeen GOP House members voted against a ban on Russian oil, but Senate Republicans have not taken up the bill.  In Congress, 69 GOP representatives and 31 GOP senators voted against giving Ukraine $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian assistance. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has blocked bills to put sanctions on Russia. Wannabe president Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis blames Biden for Russia’s invading Ukraine, but he refused to divest Florida of $300 million of Russia in investments.  

In addition to Fox’s Tucker Carlson, these GOP leaders are just a few of the U.S. Putin wing, as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) calls them:

  • Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA founder: “It feels as if Putin is going into places that want him. They have voted overwhelmingly to be part of it. It is a family dispute that we shouldn’t get in the midst of, that’s for certain.”
  • Laura Ingraham, Fox network: “We had kind of a really pathetic display from the Ukrainian President Zelensky.”
  • Dinesh D’Souza, convicted felon: “Putin–unlike someone else we know–LOVES his country & FIGHTS for its interests”
  • Michael Lynn, A DDT former national security adviser for three weeks: “[Putin is] a very strong leader. He’s been in charge for a long time. And he’s not going to put up with the nonsense he’s seeing in Europe.”
  • State Sen. Wendy Rogers (R-AZ), who called for Maricopa County’s fake ballot count: “Zelensky is a globalist puppet for Soros and the Clintons.”
  • Nick Fuentes, America First Political Action Conference: “I wish Putin was president of America.”

A large number of people opposing vaccinations and “wellness influencers” claims Biden is “trying to pull a fast one on them by painting Russia as the aggressor” in Ukraine, according to Kiera Butler. She added, “By the time Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, anti-vaccine activists were primed to believe that Putin was the good guy.”

DDT’s former campaign spokesperson A.J. Delgado called reports of Russian bombs hitting maternity wards and other civilian targets “probably bullshit.” Ukraine isn’t a real country, DDT’s fan Candace Owens asserted.

Israel is siding with Russia with its refusal to sell the spyware tool Pegasus to Ukraine and Estonia. The countries wanted to find intelligence from Russian mobile phones. Israel also refuses to provide Ukraine with the Iron Dome antimissile system and other defensive weapons like the ones that the U.S. buys for Israel.

In a circle of lies, Russia feeds them to far-right people in the U.S. who spread them across the country through forms of media before Russia picks them up again for its continuing disinformation campaign. The falsehood about U.S. biological program in Ukraine came from Russia’s Defense Ministry and is now a frequent talking point for the Putin wing. The result is an alternate reality that pushes the idea of the West as the provokers for the Russian invasion. The ones who had not totally bought into the lies then complains about Biden’s lack of aggression after they attack him for an impassioned speech about Putin shouldn’t be Russia’s leader. It’s all a grand game to Republicans, designed to win an election rather than help the cause of democracy and the United States.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson, a typical “snowflake,” led the charge of spreading Russian propaganda so well that Russia state TV plays many of his programs. Yet he can’t bear being called out. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) called his show an “organ of Russian disinformation,” and Carlson said he would sue him for slander. Carlson tried to declare that he is only “interested in the interests of our own country.” He went on to attack Biden and the Democratic party by being wrong about Russian disinformation.

The right-wing in the U.S. wants what Putin has. DDT wants the power to kill with impunity. His supporters want to destroy democracy by claiming “freedom,” to them the right to take over anything they want despite the law and the Constitution. Without any punishment. Even if some conservatives disagree with the Putin wing, they won’t object to it. The Putinites want a pathocracy, in which “a small pathological minority takes control over a society of normal people,” according to Andrzej Lobaczewski. As long as they are part of that minority. And DDT leads this cult along with the QAnon followers. Chauncey DeVega wrote:

“The Russian partnership has proved invigorating to the American right’s overlapping agendas of white supremacy, masculine authority, and anti-democratic Christian authority… American theocrats are telling us what they seek here at home.”

A new survey shows that the Putin wing, while noisy, is also unpopular. Over three-fourths of U.S. voters, 77 percent which includes 68 percent of the Republicans, disapprove of lawmakers’ expression of support or admiration for Putin, and 71 percent disapprove of DDT’s glowing comments about the Russian president. Only 17 percent approve of those statements.

Democracy is a choice. The question in the U.S. is whether those who choose democracy can overcome the ones who prefer a pathocracy.

March 15, 2022

Women’s Equal Pay Day, More Ukraine

Today, March 15, 2022, is Equal Pay Day for white women. The National Committee on Pay Equity sets the date each year that represents how far into the year women, on average, must work to earn what men earned in just the previous year. In 2020, women earned 83 cents for every dollar men make. All women make 73 cents for every dollar that white men make. Other equal pay days in 2022:

  • Asian American/Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day: May 3 (75 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: September 21 (58 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: November 30 (50 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day: December 8 (49 cents for each white man’s dollar)

On the day before Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden blocked all property and interests owned by Russian-supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his wife. Lukashenko allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to send his troops into Belarus for his Ukrainian invasion. A new U.S. visa restriction bans current and former Russian government officials and their families from entry to the U.S., affecting at least 38 people “believed to be involved in suppressing dissent.” 

Upset about the U.S. sanctions, Putin sanctioned 13 U.S. Democrats: Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and other high level Biden officials. (The sanction misspelled Biden’s name.) Putin even included Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton in the sanction roundup in blocking travel to Russia and freezing their assets there. (Which they don’t have.) In response to the sanction, Clinton tweeted, “I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Russians have killed two more journalists in Ukraine, one of them Pierre Zakrzewski, the Fox network photojournalist riding with Fox reporter Benjamin Hall when they were fired on at a checkpoint outside Kyiv. Also murdered was 24-year-old Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, a Ukrainian working for the Fox network.

Fox network host Tucker Carlson has stopped praising Putin, but he’s still pushing disinformation that Putin re-broadcasts on Russian state TV. In one clip, retired Army Col. Doug Macgregor told Carlson:

“What is happening now is the battle in eastern Ukraine is really almost over, all the Ukrainian troops there have been largely surrounded and cut off … and if they don’t surrender in next 24 hours, I suspect the Russians will ultimately annihilate them. The game is over.”

This statement is false, but Putin uses it to convince Russians that he is victorious. MacGregor also told Carlson that Putin invaded Ukraine “in defense of his country” to stop Ukraine’s genocide on Russian-speaking civilians. He also blamed the U.S. “globalists” trying to destroy Russia’s “national identity.” Carlson has frequently chosen the conspiracy theorist with a history of xenophobia as his “first choice for foreign policy analysis.” They agree that the Russia should “absolutely” be permitted to annex as much of Ukraine as Putin wants. They are promoting the country killing their network’s journalists.

Carlson and MacGregor aren’t the only conservatives who have a record of supporting Putin’s brutality over Ukraine’s democracy. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) calls a group of Putin-supporting lawmakers the “Putin wing” in their attempt to support Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attempt to blackmail Zelensky. Staunch DDT supporters are still trying to whitewash his demand for a “favor” to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, in exchange for releasing the congressionally-approved military aid. 

With 80 percent of registered voters in the U.S. viewing Russia as the enemy, Carlson’s propaganda is failing. The number of those seeing Russia as a U.S. ally has dropped by one-half from 17.6 percent in February 2017 to 8.4 percent, according to a YouGov weekly tracking poll. The 80 percent is across both parties and unaffiliated; it’s up one-third from 60 percent since DDT’s inauguration.

A popular demand by some Republicans is a no-fly zone over Ukraine, allowing U.S. and other foreign planes to shoot down Russian planes which can lead to a world war, possibly a nuclear war. Former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, is leading the charge. Volker was part of DDT’s 2019 blackmail scandal to block the $400 million of U.S. military aid to Ukraine without a bogus probe into Hunter Biden. Volker’s job was to connect Giuliani with a Zelensky aide, access that Giuliani used to push for DDT’s deal.  He even lied about DDT’s behavior under oath in House testimony, saying he wanted to release the funding. Volker also said he had no idea that the deal had anything to do with Biden.

The indictment of Russian oligarch Andrey Muraviev in September 2020 has been made public. The tycoon allegedly funneled illegal foreign donations for Rep. Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) and DDT’s campaigns, among others. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born associates of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have been convicted on the same charge in Giuliani’s failed attempt to force Ukrainian officials to investigate Hunter Biden. DDT’s PAC received $325,000 in foreign donations from Muraviev. Sessions received his money for asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Marie Yavanovitch as U.S. Ambasador to Ukraine, writing Pompeo that he had “notice of concrete evidence” that she had been trashing the Trump administration. DDT fired her a year later, one of the events leading to his first impeachment trials.

For over two decades, Russian oligarchs have stashed their money in the U.S. through the purchase of condos in New York and other U.S. cities, the “luxury apartments” Biden promised to go after in his State of the Union speech. DOJ’s new Task Force KleptoCapture plans to go through the labyrinth of trusts and shell company LLCs to find the owners’ names. DDT joined the scam when he sold Dmitry Rybolovlev a Palm Beach mansion for $95 million at over twice DT’s cost of $14.35 million four years earlier.

Putin claims he’s keeping approximately 500 airplanes leased from foreign countries, most of them inside Russia when the country invaded Ukraine, even if he can’t pay for them. He signed a law allowing his airlines to register the planes, worth approximately $12 billion, and keep flying them. Almost half of the planes are from Ireland, a member of the EU which banned any planes’ sales or leasing to Russia as part of their sanctions. Many of the over 100 leasing companies are too small to survive if they lose these planes.

Leasing companies must end contracts in Russia by March 28. Sanctions also prevent Western companies from providing spare parts and maintenance to Russian airlines, and the planes may also not be insured. Russia will likely use up all the parts they have and then start cannibalizing planes to keep the others flying. Russia plans to use only the planes they own or lease from Russians for flights outside the country.

Putin’s law violates the 1944 Chicago Convention that allows lessors to cross international borders and take back planes from defaulting customers. As of 2019, every UN member—including Russia—had signed on to the agreement except Lichtentein. Because of sanctions, Boeing is losing on-order sales for 35 of its 737 Max and 777 cargo planes. Airbus had orders for 27 planes.  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new law helps Putin, according to Mark Hertling, a retired U.S. Army officer and Florida resident. In an op-ed for the Miami Herald, Hertling wrote that the law eliminating any incentive for Floridians to generate their own alternative energy provides more oil money to Putin. As former commanding general of the United States Army-Europe, he asserted Russia’s invasion did not come as a “complete surprise” to “those of us who spent most of our professional lives in the U.S. Armed Forces.” They had tracked and reported on Putin’s takeovers and “other adventures in Moldova and Azerbaijan.” Hertling wrote that solar panels on his house cut his electric bills by two-thirds and were paid for within a few years.

Russia’s invasion and its fake disinformation have created a dilemma for its two allies, North Korea and China. Most awkward is Kim Jong Un’s nationalist position, causing an invasion of another country hard to approve. Yet he wants to support one of his very few allies. Korea-language press ignores he invasion.

China looks on Russia as a good ally, but the rapid destruction of Russia’s economy warns the Chinese about danger on Russia’s side against most of the industrialized countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to follow a “pro-Russia neutrality,” a series of contradictory messages with echoes of Russian disinformation. Last week, China promised almost $800,000 humanitarian aid to Ukraine and called the invasion “a war” against Putin’s rules. Yet its propaganda account accidentally posted guidelines for its coverage that said “no posts unfavorable to Russia or with pro-Western content should be published.” State media also published posts using Putin’s term for the U.S. as “an empire of lies” and Russian lies about the U.S. building bioweapons in Ukraine. The question will be whether China gives Russia the military aid it requested.

A custom LEGO retailer in Chicago has raised controversy by selling custom figures of Zelensky and war weapons Molotov cocktails. All the proceeds, thus far $16,540, are donated to Direct Relief, providing emergency medical assistance throughout the world, that donated $26 million to Ukraine in the past six months. When the company ran out of the product, it asked people to donate to “a relevant charity.” The LEGO group has stopped shipments to Russian brand stores and donated £12.3 million in relief efforts through the LEGO Foundation.

 

March 2, 2022

SOTU Makes History

President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on. (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

For the first time in the history of the United States, two women flanked the president of the country—Joe Biden—when he gave his first State of the Union speech. SOTU was unique in other ways. In the midst of multiple crises—impending war across Europe, the continuing pandemic, and inflation from corporate greed and supply chain problems—the president’s State of the Union speech had much more meaning this year than usual. On The Late Show, Steven Colbert aptly described it “a roller-coaster ride of rip-roaring reasonableness.” Gone were the fictional accounts and personal attacks by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his rampant lies, and his dark “obsession with white supremacy.” Instead, President Joe Biden presented a realistic but upbeat view of the union in a 62-minute speech beginning with 12 minutes on the problems in Ukraine before moving to the domestic policies in the U.S.

Most Republican lawmakers attended the speech although a few of them skipped it with various excuses such as not enough time to take the mandatory COVID test. Despite being vaccinated, four Democrats tested positive for COVID. The GOP members grouped themselves together although Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), an obstructionist to Biden’s policies sat with Republicans between Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Roger Wicker (R-LA). Five of the Supreme Court justices were in attendance; missing were Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, and Clarence Thomas. Only four attended DDT’s last two SOTUs.

Biden promised to make Russian President Vladimir Putin “pay” for his preemptive invasion of Ukraine and honored Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, with a standing ovation. Refuting GOP criticism that he had been following allies in their opposition to Russia, Biden said, “I spent countless hours unifying our European allies” and praised Ukrainians for their “fearlessness … courage … and determination” in resisting Russian troops.

On the home front, he called for prescription-drug price cuts, elder care, expanded child care, prekindergarten education, and climate change initiatives as well as access to abortion, voting rights, immigration, background checks for gun ownership, and corporate taxation—all policies largely supported by the U.S. population. In his message on unity, he pointed out that easing mask guidelines and providing vaccinations has brought people “finally together again”:

“Tonight, we meet as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. But most importantly as Americans. With a duty to one another, to the American people, to the Constitution. And with an unwavering resolve that freedom will always triumph over tyranny.”

People should “stop seeing each other as enemies, and start seeing each other for who we really are: fellow Americans,” he said.

Listing accomplishments in the past year, Biden cited the $1.9 trillion American Rescue plan fighting COVID, comparing it favorably with failed “trickle-down” economics. In rebuilding the economy, he talked about new manufacturing plants and the over 6.5 million new jobs since his inauguration, the most in one year throughout the nation’s history. He also said he was “the only president ever to cut the deficit by more than 1 trillion dollars in a single year.” During Biden’s first year, the 5.7 percent growth in the economy was the best in 40 years. Biden said that 40 years of tax cuts, caused by the faulty GOP belief that the wealthy would increase the economy with efficient investment have actually led to “weaker economic growth, lower wages, bigger deficits, and the widest gap between those at the top and everyone else in nearly a century.”

According to Biden, inflation is his top priority although the president can’t do much about the issue. His answers are relieving supply chain problems, reducing costs for families, increasing domestic production, and promoting competition. Without regulations and Federal Reserve decisions, Biden lacks control for pricing.

Unlike DDT’s last speech in 2020, the antagonistic Republican lawmakers gave approval to some of Biden’s statements. Biden brought a standing ovation from both sides when he challenged Republicans who claimed he and all the Democrats want to defund the police:

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police,” he said. “Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training, resources and training they need to protect their communities.”

Biden also asked for unity, calling on Congress to fight the opioid crisis, help people defeat mental illness, support veterans, and end cancer.

A fact-check found only seven “suspect” statements, but the checker only complained about “context” instead of falsehoods. Tweets show the faulty factchecking by The New York Times. 

According to a CBS News poll, most people in the U.S. who watched Biden’s first SOTU—78 percent—approved, and many said it made them feel proud and optimistic. Both Democrats and unaffiliated voters had majorities in this category.  Seventy-one percent of respondents agreed that Biden’s policies will effectively deal with Russia. Biden’s policies were also positively received. More people thought these would address inflation after the speech than before they heard the SOTU. Only 17 percent of watchers through Biden’s policies would hurt them economically. Older people were a little more likely to say the speech made them feel COVID would be around for a while. Democrats comprised 49 percent of those watching the speech because members of the speaker’s party have a greater tendency to tune in. Only 21 percent were Republicans.  CNN polling gave Biden similar grades.  

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gave the pro-forma response to the SOTU which Jason Easley called “one of the worst responses … in history.” He summarized Reynolds statements:

“The Reynolds response had one theme. America is a hell hole, and it all Joe Biden’s fault, ‘Instead of moving America forward, it feels like President Biden and his party have sent us back in time to the late ’70s and early ’80s when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing on our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map.’”

Reynolds also complained:

“They’re tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let government control their kids’ education and future. Frankly, they are tired of the theater. Where politicians do one thing when the cameras are rolling, and another when they believe you can’t see them. Where governors and mayors and forced mandates that don’t follow them. Where elected leaders tell their citizens to stay home while they sneak off to Florida for sun and fun. Where they demand that your child wear a mask, but they go mask-less.“

Oddly enough, it was Cruz, a member of her own party, who tried to sneak off to Cancun while his constituents had no heat in the horrendous cold wave of 2020. Like everything else Republicans say, Reynolds’ speech had no hope, no policies, and no vision. Unlike Biden’s speech, a factcheck of Reynolds’ speech showed several faulty statements

The far-right highly-hyped truck convoy to block the SOTU brought 12 protesters instead of the 3,000 promised participants. Press and police massively outnumbered those at the “Stage of Freedom” event near the Washington Monument. The speech from the rally organizer, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kyle Sefcik, rambled among many subjects, including his wondering where the convoy intended to disrupt the Beltway area was. He also complained about how he “lost money” on the protest. Others at the protest using only first names employed confusing metaphors about cows, fences, and the need to understand God. Intending to embarrass Biden on the night of his speech, Sefcik concluded early by saying that “turnout” for the protest wasn’t important.

Trying for publicity, the classic “mean girls” of the U.S. House, Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), further proved they don’t deserve to be in Congress when they entertained themselves at the SOTU heckling Biden during the speech. One of the worst moments was during Biden’s description of battlefield conditions contributing to veterans’ developing cancers “that would put them in a flag-draped coffin.” He said one of them was his son, Beau Biden, and Boebert shouted “13 of them” in reference to the U.S. service members dying in an Afghanistan attack in the U.S. withdrawal. 

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