Nel's New Day

July 30, 2022

Udates, News on July 30, 2022

News from the past week have led to extensive updates:

Ukraine: The 12 HIMARS sent from the U.S. are stopping Russia from gaining air superiority in its invasion, according to the Pentagon, and British defense officials said Ukraine has successfully repelled small-scale Russian attacks in the Donbas region. Ukraine announced that its fighting in the Kherson area destroyed over 100 Russian soldiers and seven tanks as well as stopping rail traffic across the Dnipro River, cutting off Russian forces west of the river from supplies out of Crimea and further east.

Missing January 6 texts: Department of Homeland Security Inspector General James Cuffari, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), refused to collect agency phones in an attempt to recover deleted Secret Service texts. After a senior forensics analyst in Cuffari’s office collected the phones, Cuffari’s told investigators to not take the phones and not seek any data from them. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Judiciary Committee chair, asked the DOJ to intervene in the investigation of the missing texts.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a statement Friday calling the missing messages “an extremely serious matter” and said he would ask the Justice Department to intervene. Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House January 6 investigative committee, and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) have asked that Cuffari be replaced in the investigation. Text messages from former acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli, both appointed by DDT, are missing for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6 attack, but both of them said their phones had the texts when they gave their phones to DHS. Secret Service Director James Murray, another DDT-appointed official in the missing text scandal, will need to delay his retirement at the end of July for a job at Instagram because of the investigations.

The PACT Act: GOP senators scuttled a bill they had already approved expanding VA healthcare for seriously ill military veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits of waste. Immediately before Republicans voted against support for veterans, they tweeted their admiration for the veterans. After their negative votes, Ted Cruz (TX), Steve Daines (MT), and others gloated with joyful fist bumps and handshakes on the chamber floor in a video that has gone viral. Republicans complained the bill’s change in the House would allow Democrats a “slush fund,” but it kept other agencies from siphoning off the healthcare funds. Democrats threaten delaying the August recess with 15 Republicans needing to campaign for the 2022 election. Bill advocate Jon Stewart’s response to the happy GOP senators.

Kentucky’s flooding:  Kentucky’s death toll from flooding has gone to at least 25 with “still a lot of people unaccounted for,” according to Gov. Andy Beshear. Since the beginning of heavy rainfall last Wednesday, almost 300 people have been saved, but more rain is forecast for Sunday. The historic flooding follows the deadliest tornadoes in its history killing over 70 in December 2021.

More Florida regulations: Gov. Ron DeSantis has attacked a Miami restaurant hosting drag shows in the presence of children by threatening to pull its liquor license. DeSantis consistently approves of parental decisions—if they do what he wants. Parents criticize the accusation that the drag show violates the state statute opposing anything “injurious to people’s morals and manners.” DeSantis says that drag shows will “sexually abuse” young people. A state representative pointed out that DeSantis doesn’t mind children going to Hooters restaurants, that he thinks “it’s only sexually explicit if it’s LGBTQ+.” DeSantis doesn’t mind hurting trans children. He told schools to ignore federal guidelines protecting transgender youth, threatening repercussions if they follow Title IX guidelines.

Gaetz donations for abortion access:  Misogynistic rants by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) about how anti-abortionists are too ugly to “impregnante” raised over $1 million for abortion access within 72 hours after he personally attacked Olivia Julianna, a member of Gen Z for Change. By late Saturday, July 30, the fund had about $2 million to provide access for this “critical reproductive health care.” Gen Z is defined as people born between 1997 and 2012. Representing one-tenth of the electorate thus far, the racially-diverse Gen Z grew up with technological expertise and are more pragmatic and financially-minded after watching their parents take huge hits in this area. Although similar to Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, Gen Z is more progressive on social issues and believe the government should take a bigger role in solving problems, including climate change which they attribute to human activities.  

And a bit of more news:

High oil prices are causing inflation and tremendous ire from people in the U.S., but major gasoline companies are raking in huge profits.  The three largest Western oil companies—Chevron, Exxon, and Shell—made a record $46 billion in total profits last quarter, with $17.9 billion going to just Exxon. It’s profit of $2,245.62 comes to more than four times as much as the same time period in 2021. The Wall Street Journal wrote:

“Exxon’s oil and gas production was up about 4% from the same period last year. Chevron’s oil-and-gas production declined globally about 7.4% compared with the same period a year ago, largely due to the end of projects in Thailand and Indonesia, though its production rose in the U.S. by about 3.2%.”

One word for that practice is “profiteering.” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), said, “The oil companies are ripping Americans off.”

Following DDT’s goal of keeping immigrants out of the U.S., he required fingerprinting and extensive background check for every household member, instead of only the sponsor, where an unaccompanied child would live. Before DDT’s order, this practice was followed only because a safety concern. Children spent weeks and sometimes even months longer in custody. DDT’s office said the practice was unworkable but continued it without any further information that children were at risk. Thanks to a lawsuit, the U.S. will now establish fingerprinting deadlines for parents and sponsors trying to get unaccompanied immigrant children out of government custody, seven days for appointments and ten days for completion of processing with tracking reports.

n Austin (TX), podcaster Alex Jones is facing his first Sandy Hook defamation trial and not doing well in defending his accusation that the mass shooting of 22 children and six educators was a hoax. His attorney, Andino Reynal, flipped off opposing counsel Mark Bankston inside the courtroom. Producer Daria Karpova, defense-selected representative for Jones’ network Infowars, characterized his 2017 interview with Megyn Kelly, then on NBC, as about the Sandy Hook shooting, allowing the plaintiffs to play the 17-minute segment in open court. In the video, Jones said that the images of children fleeing Sandy Hook “looked like a drill” and admitted his “research” came from internet articles. He had refused to apologize for any of his statements. Karpova then talked about the stress of representing Jones because people told horrific lies about him when testifying about the man who called the Sandy Hook massacre a hoax involving actors and trying to increase gun control.

Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy on Friday. Plaintiffs are asking for $150 million to the family of one child killed in the 2012 mass shooting. Last April, Jones’ company Infowars and two more of his business entities filed for bankruptcy, which delayed the trial until now. His lawyers said the current bankruptcy filing won’t delay the current trial, expected to conclude this coming week. Courts in Texas and Connecticut already found Jones liable for defamation in default judgments against Jones without trials because he failed to respond to court orders and turn over documents. In court records, Jones claimed he was $20 million in debt, but he made over $165 million between 2015 and 2018 in sales of nutritional supplements and survival gear. He also asked his Infowars listeners for donations.

A federal judge dismissed a $195 million lawsuit from a Catholic school student against six national media outlets for defamation after reporting on Nicholas Sandmann’s actions while he was in Washington, D.C. for an anti-abortion rally in 2019. A combined $1.25 billion came from the inclusion of lawsuits against seven other media organizations in the suit. Reports of Sandmann’s interaction with Native American rights activist Nathan Phillips at the Lincoln Memorial included videos, indicating racial motivation. The judge said the reporting of Phillips’ statement that Sandmann “blocked him and wouldn’t allow him to retreat” was the activist’s opinion for which the media couldn’t be sued. The quote couldn’t be proved true or false. Three other media outlets had previously settled with Sandmann. Depicting himself as a 16-year-old victim, Sandmann plans to appeal in a case which the majority of Supreme Court justices could use to overturn the constitutional freedom of the press.

DDT is in trouble with voters for supporting Saudi Arabia by hosting the LIV golf tournament, the Saudi’s attempt to eliminate the historic PGA tour, at his resort. He may also be breaking federal law by using the presidential seal on items such as towels and golf carts at the Bedminster (NJ) golf course.

People who get more spam in your email can blame the Republicans. GOP fundraising dropped off so Republicans attacked Google for putting fundraising emails into spam despite no evidence. Google may be forced into exempting campaign emails from spam detection.

July 28, 2022

Politics – July 28, 2022

January 6, 2021 was a popular time for missing texts. The Secret Service can’t find any because of a “migration,” and messages for acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are also missing for a period of time leading up to the insurrection. A problem with a “reset” of their phones. Joseph Cuffari, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), didn’t seem concerned about the missing texts, didn’t alert Congress about the problems with its request, and didn’t try to recover the lost data. Wolf was DDT’s favorite DHS Secretary and would likely be called back to work for DDT if he came back to the White House.

In a court filing, DDT’s attorneys asked a judge to grant him total immunity against any civil law lawsuits connected to the insurrection. DDT is attempting to ask all lawsuits to be dismissed. Previously, DDT claimed his January 6 speech was “protected by presidential absolute immunity.” The newer filing said DDT’s “statements were on matters of public concern.” Lawyers insist “impeachment is the only means of punishing a president for abuse and that attempts by Democrats and others to sue Trump after he emerged victorious in his impeachment trial are tantamount to ‘harassment.'” In February, the judge ruled the speech was likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.” [Right: the man who considers running for re-election in two years.]

The DOJ probe into the insurrection, ongoing since April, is building, and AG Merrick Garland said he may charge DDT. Prosecutors are willing to go to court to get DDT’s White House officials to testify about conversations on and around January 6m, 2021. No former president has ever been criminally charged in U.S. history, but Garland hasn’t ruled out indicting DDT.  

Lawyers passing through DDT’s White House are adding themselves to the vast number of witnesses testifying about the January 6 insurrection, including DDT’s participation in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Last week, former VP Mike Pence’s aide Marc Short, a DDT accuser, and Pence’s counsel Greg Jacob testified before the DOJ grand jury investigating these events. Emmet Flood, briefly acting White House counsel, is Short’s lawyer. In 2019, DDT tweeted his “friend” Flood did a “GREAT JOB.”

Ty Cobb, Flood’s predecessor and overseer of the White House’s response to the Mueller investigation, said DDT’s declaration of candidacy “serves no interest but his self-defeating and overwhelming need for relevance, attention and money. Such an announcement also does not inoculate him from criminal investigation.” Cobb also listed DDT’s possible crimes on CNN. Pat Cipollone, DDT’s last White House counsel, confirmed earlier testimony and stated that everyone in the White House except DDT wanted people to leave the Capitol on January 6. At Cipollone’s side during his testimony was Michael Purpura, deputy White House counsel during the DDT’s administration.

Russian State Duma member Evgeny Popov is bragging about a close connection with DDT by calling him “our own Donald Trump” and lamenting the DOJ criminal investigation into DDT’s actions. He insinuated that DDT belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Popov also echoed the lie that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and DDT’s complaints about Joe Biden and the current state of the U.S. The Russian also ranted:

“Didn’t we write a cool speech for Donald Trump? The best is yet to come. It won’t be surprising if DOJ adds Trump’s speech to the materials of their criminal case. Donald says he is an agent of Russia, which is true.”  

In a bipartisan act, the Senate voted 84-14 in favor of the Honoring Our Pact Act (HOPA), passed in the House with a 256-174 vote, that expands health care and benefits to veterans suffering from exposure to unsafe practices, such as “burn pits,” while in the military. The typical conservative senators as well as Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized the bill for mythical budgetary reasons. The bill moved to the House which supported it by a 256-174 vote and a tweak to make some spending mandatory.  When the bill was returned to the Senate for final approval, 42 Republicans voted against a procedural vote, leaving the bill in question. Jon Stewart gave an impassioned speech about the GOP abandonment of veterans in retaliation for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) supporting a bill delaying climate change, lowering drug prices, and slightly raising corporate taxes,.

The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) bill passed the Senate by 64-33 and moved onto President Joe Biden’s desk after a 243-187 vote in the House. Despite more attempts at retaliation for any action by Democrats, 24 House GOP members voted for the bill.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), the biggest joke in the House before the onslaught of QAnon representatives, is irate because Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) put fact-checking articles about GOP lies from the past year into the congressional record, such as the false claims that AG Merrick Garland was investigating parents speaking at school boards and calling them “domestic terrorists.” In response to Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) misrepresentation of a DOJ whistleblower memo, Cicilline read the memo into the record. When Republicans objected, Cicilline asked that “the Republicans were afraid for the document to be in the record.” The incensed Gohmert said Cicilline isn’t permitted “to impugn false statements by this side.” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) laughed at Gohmert, and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) first put his head in his hand and then went to using his cell phone.

Kentucky’s GOP senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, do their constituents a great disservice if they continue to ignore the dire consequences of climate change. In the past week, the catastrophic flooding in the mountainous eastern part of the state has killed at least eight people and left many others missing or trapped. Gov. Andy Beshear said, “We expect double-digit deaths.” He added, “Hundreds will lose their homes.” One county received 11 inches in rain in two days and expects more in the stalled weather front that caused historic flooding in St. Louis last Tuesday from over 12 inches of rain. In Kentucky, the hardest place hit, Hazard with 5,000 population, had over nine inches in 12 hours, and the terrain funnels more water down into the valley towns. Rock and mudslides also cut off populated areas. Heavy rainfall is now 20 to 40 percent more likely in the area than in 1900.

Remember when Republicans opposed regulations? Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis disagrees with his party’s approach. He is notorious for blocking mask mandates during the worst of the pandemic, delaying COVID vaccinations for children, eliminating LGBTQ mention in classrooms while mandating Christian nationalism in the curriculum, countermanding constitutional separation of church and state, preventing protest gatherings of more than two people, removing the right to discuss race in the workplace, redrawing the state’s Congressional map to increase the number of Republicans Florida sends to Congress, establishing his own personal state army with no federal oversight, and permitting bullying of LGBTQ students.

In Florida, teachers are ordered to dedicate 45 minutes of instruction about the suffering of people around the world on November 7, “Victims of Communism Day.” Mandated subjects are Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Fidel Castro along with “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech” endured under those regimes. Teaching materials will be prepared by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Teachers are fleeing Florida, the state needs 10,000 teachers, and DeSantis accuses elementary school teachers, lying how they “instructed” children they may be transgender and anyone disagreeing with him is “lying.”

DeSantis latest regulation is blocking his administration from investments in “woke” corporations by prohibiting the use of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings for these decisions. Doing so would allow recipients of pensions to receive funds from companies with similar funds. DeSantis said, “The inmates are running the asylum.” Yet the State Board of Administration stated it didn’t use these ratings for overseeing the $250 billion in funds. DeSantis’ revoking Disney’s zoning agreement for criticizing his “Don’t Say Gay” law has already cost Florida taxpayers $1 billion.

In the past, Republicans objected to being surveiled; now they promote it. With the approval of a Supreme Court majority, Texas’ anti-abortion law turns all citizens into vigilantes, reporting anyone supporting abortion and creating a society reminiscent of a totalitarian state. Tennessee and Florida allow students to sue transgender students for using the “wrong” bathroom. Anyone in New Hampshire can sue a school for violating vague rules regarding teaching about race, sex, gender, and other sensitive issues, and teachers lose their licenses. Only Democratic governors in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—up for re-election this fall—protect people from totalitarian surveillance. And only the six Supremes can protect others in the U.S., and they aren’t likely to do so.

Outrage by students at George Washington University has caused Justice Clarence Thomas to cancel his plan to teach a seminar there, something he has done since 2011. Thomas is threatening to overturn a large number of human rights after participating in overturning the constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

March 13, 2021

Biden Spends Successful Week

In a paraphrase of Charles Dickens—it was the best of speeches; it was the worse of speeches. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wanted to appear in control. DDT had blocked testing, but the number of coronavirus case was still at 1,267. For a month, he had compared the deadly disease to the seasonal flu, claiming coronavirus  would just disappear and continued that lie for another seven-plus months as the daily number of U.S. cases rose to over 77,000. 

DDT read from his speech in a monotone when he announced a limit on some world travel, suspending travel from Europe for 30 days which added to bans on parts of Italy and South Korea as well as China and Iran. He exempted the UK, with far more cases than many EU countries, and permitted U.S. citizens to return to the U.S., crowding the airports and spreading infections. DDT said, “The virus will not have a chance against us.”

DDT’s speech misrepresented the administration’s policy in “suspending all travel from Europe” and blocking “tremendous amount of trade and cargo,” which also hadn’t been decided. His boast that the health insurance industry agreed to waive “all co-payments for coronavirus treatments” was also a lie. DDT continued his racist assertion about COVID-19 being a “foreign virus” that “started in China.”

Exactly one year later, March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden’s first prime-time speech excelled in empathy for the U.S. people and hope for the future. He announced all adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 virus by May 1, and his promise of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days will be achieved by his first 60 days. The increase in vaccinations comes from the purchase of 100 million more doses of the one-time shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Biden also mourned the 545,000+ deaths in the past year from the virus, many of the deaths unnecessary because DDT did little or nothing about stopping the disease.

The far-right frantically searched for ways to criticize Biden’s speech. Tucker Carlson, already in trouble for attacking women in the military, came up with his need for “freedom.” About Biden’s statement that people in the U.S. can safely gather in small groups for Independence Day, Carlson ranted:  

“This is a free people. This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”

Erik Wemple sarcastically wrote that “only a power-hungry radical would suggest that people hang out with ‘your families and friends’ on a holiday.” 

Biden made the speech on the same day he signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) after its final passage in the House with a 220 to 211 vote. Of the two House Democrats opposing the bill the first time, Jared Golden (ME) voted no the second time while Kurt Schrader (OR) changed his vote to yes.

With the signing a day early before the promised deadline, many of the $1,400 stipends were delivered this weekend. ARPA provides an average tax cut of $3,000 for the low and middle class and a $6,000 cut for families, giving people in this category almost 70 percent of the tax benefits. It will raise after-tax incomes by 3.8 percent. This step is the opposite of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which provided about half the benefits to the top five percent of the population, those who made about $308,000 that year.

Not one Republican voted for ARPA, but at least one of them took credit for it. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi bragged about the approximately $29 billion bailout for the restaurant industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It’s typical that they will vote no and take the dough.” Republicans are now moving forward to repeal the estate tax for the remaining 1,900 people not exempted by the 2017 tax cut bill. The current tax covers only estates worth more than $22 million. Their action doesn’t fit Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) description of the GOP as “the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters, and waitresses.”

The 657 wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. could pay for two-thirds of ARPA with the $1.3 trillion they acquired in the past year. Three of them—Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg—made enough to pay for the $250 billion of supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 weekly for the upcoming six months. Musk’s increase of $142 billion, a 567 percent increase in assets, could support farmers, small businesses, bars and restaurants, and other industries. Bezos’ $67 billion could fund assistance to renters, homeowners, and veterans with $8 billion left over. [visual – ARPA chart]

Because of current law, the billionaires $4.2 trillion in wealth won’t be taxed during their lifetimes less they sell the underlying assets at a gain. Other laws allow inheritors to escape taxation on the increase.

Biden and the Dems aren’t resting on their laurels after passing ARPA: their next project will be job-creating packages on climate, broadband, and transportation issues. Pelosi expressed hope a transportation system will let them address more needs such as education, housing, and water systems, some of them over 100 years old. With the Senate filibuster requiring at least ten Republicans to support any bills, Democrats ponder another budget reconciliation process for infrastructure and ways to pay for expenditures. One possibility, bringing GOP opposition, is tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, drastically lowered in the 2017 GOP tax cut bill.

More success for Biden during the week came from the Senate confirmation of three more Cabinet members:

Michael Regan: The vote for EPA Secretary, 66-34, allows him to rebuild an agency losing thousands of employees and rolling back dozens of clean air and water protections during the Trump administration. A former EPA employee, he pledged to change years of funding cuts, industry-friendly policies, and rejection of its scientists. Regan has “a special obligation to the underserved and under-represented.” Soon before he took over the agency, the EPA gave his predecessor a 23-page “letter of concern” to Regan’s predecessor reporting racial discrimination from hog-farm pollution resulting from investigation into a complaint. The EPA has “deep concern about the possibility that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have been subjected to discrimination as the result of [North Carolina] DEQ’s operation of the Swine Waste General Permit program.”

 Merrick Garland: The new DOJ Attorney General, confirmed with a 70-30 vote, will begin investigating whistleblower allegations about political DOJ hiring by acting AG Jeffrey Bossert Clark in the last days before Biden’s inauguration. In late December, Clark and DDT allegedly discussed a method of unseating then acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to advance DDT’s plans for overturning Georgia’s election before the congressional certification of electoral votes on January 6. Garland was greeted with a standing ovation when he took his oath and promised everyone will be treated by the same set of rules.

Marcia Fudge: HUD Secretary was confirmed with a 66-34 majority, thanks to GOP support including that of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.  She needs to overcome the actions of her predecessor, Ben Carson, with his massive exodus of career staff, destruction of fair housing enforcement, and failure to address a nationwide crisis in affordable housing worsened by the pandemic. HUD’s aging issue includes 63 percent of employees eligible to retire, including 50 percent of supervisors and managers.

Although the confirmation of Xavier Becerra for HHS Secretary was blocked in committee, the Senate voted 51-48 to bypass the panel for the entire chamber to consider his nomination. Both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have announced their support of Becerra.

With southern border shelters freed up from some pandemic restrictions, Biden has reactivated over 200 beds for unaccompanied immigrant children and eliminated DDT’s agreement causing the arrest of sponsors who want to take them. The former administration had given sponsors’ fingerprints and other information to DHS.

In another immigration change this week, a program reinstated permission for parents legally in the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to ask for their children to come to the U.S.

On International Women’s Day, Biden signed two executive orders. One orders the review of former Education Secretary DeVos’ regulation in handling the process of sexual assault allegations by higher education institution. New Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was directed to consider “suspending, revising, or rescinding” agency actions violating the policy of non-discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

The other order establishes the White House Gender Policy Council. The Council will help Biden “ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women.” A special assistant to Biden will focus on “policies to advance equity for Black, indigenous and Latina women and girls of color.” Co-chair Julissa Reynoso, first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff, said that the full participation of women and girls in society is “essential to the economic well-being, health and security of our nation and the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness.”

To complete Dickens’ beginning to A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

And thus we have the description of life before and after January 20, 2021.

 

January 21, 2021

Biden’s First Full Day at Repairing the U.S.

Last night, I had over six hours of uninterrupted sleep, the first time in many months that led up to the 2020 presidential election and the aftermath of election denial leading up to the storming of the U.S. Capitol. Instead of recording the horrific current acts of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), I look forward to the chronicle of President Joe Biden and a Senate majority working for democracy.

As 34 agency acting directors (complete list) are in place, waiting the Senate to confirm the permanent appointments, Avril Haines is now National Intelligence Director, replacing the statutorily unqualified John Ratcliffe confirmed unanimously by the GOP loyalists. Biden may also leave Christopher Wray as FBI director. Both the House and Senate approved a waiver for Lloyd Austin, appointed for Department of Defense secretary, necessary because he retired from the military under five years ago instead of the required minimum seven years for the position.

On his first full day, Biden designated two more acting positions: Rebecca Kelly Slaughter to chair the Federal Trade Commission and Jessica Rosenworcel to head up the Federal Communications Commission. The FTC will be active in watching Big Tech such as Facebook and Google, and the FCC will address net neutrality with Rosenworcel’s support.

Biden also appointed Dr. Rachel Levin, currently Pennsylvania’s health secretary, to assistant secretary of Health and Human Services. Despite transphobic backlash, Levine pushed the state toward more responsible COVID-19 guidelines. If confirmed, she would become the first openly transgender federal official.

Working with other White House policy councils, the White House Gender Policy Council, co-chaired by Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso, will guide and coordinate government policy impacting women and girls in issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy.

Before Joe Biden became president, he and his transition team were not permitted to view the COVID-19 plan. Seeing the plans, they discovered there is no vaccine distribution strategy, according to Jeff Zients, Biden’s virus response coordinator. Instead, everything must start at “square one,” a CNN source said. Biden’s strategy can be found here.  Biden has already issued multiple executive orders to expedite the process:

  • He directed agencies to use wartime powers requiring U.S. companies to make PPE equipment such as swabs and N95 masks.
  • Mask usage is mandated in airports and on many planes, trains, ships, and intercity buses.
  • International travelers need to show a negative Covid-19 test before entering the U.S. and will have to quarantine upon arrival.
  • “A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain” will “direct the development of a new Pandemic Supply Chain Resilience Strategy” in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing of critical supplies.
  • The administration will try to accelerate more funding to local and state officials for vaccine distribution, creating more vaccination sites and launching a national public education campaign.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will set up 100 community vaccination centers in the next month.
  • The COVID-19 response office and all federal agencies will improve federal data collection and sharing; CDC will publish a dashboard of the coronavirus cases at the county level.
  • Continued treatment research emphasizing diversity in clinical trials will also expand in programs to support recovering patients and increase the healthcare workforce.
  • A new pandemic testing board is intended to discover new types of effective and rapid tests.
  • Schools, businesses, and other settings with gatherings will receive guidance about the best way for widespread testing.
  • HHS is directed to collect data on school reopenings and the spread of COVID-19 to minimize any problems of sending young people back to schools.
  • OSHA will provide clear guidance to employers about safe workplace practices and enforcement.
  • A “COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force” will ensure vaccines, treatments, masks, and other resources for everyone, including communities of color suffering high death rates.

Biden won’t enforce DDT’s lifting of COVID-19 travel restrictions to places with coronavirus surges, lobbied by airlines.

Orders other than COVID-19:

  • Deportations for many undocumented immigrants with final orders of removal will be halted for 100 days. This order does not apply to those not in the U.S. before November 1, 2020, voluntarily waiving rights to remain, and having engaged in suspected terrorism. DDT deported over 185,000 people for the 2020 fiscal year. ICE officers are to focus arrests only against people who are national security threats, arrested at the border after November 1, 2020, and deemed public safety threats who have been convicted of an aggravated felony. Earlier, Biden rescinded DDT’s memo making almost every undocumented immigrant a deportation priority.
  • Agent officials will conduct a review and issue recommendations to “address aspects of immigration enforcement, including policies for prioritizing the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets; policies governing the exercise of prosecutorial discretion; policies governing detention; and policies regarding interaction with state and local law enforcement.”
  • The rule reversing DDT’s discrimination against LGBTQ people states:

“It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.” 

Biden also plans to reverse DDT’s policy preventing U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups (NGOs) providing or referring patients for abortions. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the World Health Organization executive board that Biden will revoke the Mexico City Policy “as part of his broader commitment to protect women’s health and advance gender equality at home and around the world.” The Mexico City Policy increases the abortion rate because it reduces access to contraception. DDT had also cut off federal Title X family planning funding to domestic health care providers performing or referring patients for abortion.

Two weeks before the expiration of the New START pact with Russia, Biden is working on a five-year extension for the treaty limiting both countries’ nuclear arsenals. He also plans to impose new costs on Russia for their recent aggressive actions in the U.S. election interference, the poisoning of Vladimir Putin’s opposition leader Alexi Navalny, and bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. DDT had failed to reach any agreement because of his attempt to include China in the accord. Biden also asked new Intelligence Director Avril Haines for analysis of the massive cyberattack on the federal government blamed on Russia.

Biden will examine an agreement with the United Arab Emirates, signed an hour before his inauguration, selling them 50 F-35 jets and up to 18 armed drones.

In another focus, Biden began overturning over 100 of DDT’s actions damaging the environment. A new rule from the Interior Department orders sign offs from a top appointee for new oil and gas lease or drilling activity. With John Kerry as his climate envoy, Biden plans to go much farther than just reversing DDT’s aggressively prioritizing the fossil fuels industry at the cost of fighting climate change or protecting imperiled animals. During his term, DDT attacked over 200 environmental protections by trying to abolish or scale them back. Of DDT’s 64 policies weakening or overturning ways to curb air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, 1 has been overturned, 22 targeted, and another 41 not yet targeted. DDT also has 27 policies about wildlife and 23 relating to infrastructure and planning. Details about DDT’s orders are here. The day before Biden’s inauguration, a federal court struck down the DDT’s rollback of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Beginning on the day of Biden’s inauguration, the White House plans press briefings five days a week. Aaron Rupar described the first one by Press Secretary Jen Psaki as a “breath of fresh air.”

“There were no angry outbursts. No insults. No conspiracy theories pushed from the briefing room lectern. Just civil, if largely unmemorable, exchanges with reporters.”

He noted the “starkest possible contrast” with DDT’s first on four years ago when then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer lambasted reporters for “accurately covering the relative smallness of Trump’s inaugural crowd size.” Rupar described past briefings—when they occasionally occurred—as “more like professional wrestling events than they were good-faith efforts to inform the American public.” Major networks have assigned women to the White House beat: ABC, Cecilia Vega; CNN, Kaitlan Collins; CBS, Nancy Cordes, and NBC, Kristen Walker joining Peter Alexander. Sean Spicer has applied to be in the White House press corps because he has a show on the far-right Newsmax.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The day of the presidential inauguration was also the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 death in the U.S. The night before, Joe and Jill Biden attended a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial with VP Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Looking at the 400 lights representing the 400,000 people who have died of the coronavirus in the past year, Biden talked about the importance of remembering in order to heal. Since the memorial, about 9,000 people have died in the U.S. of the virus, bringing the total to 420,285. On January 21, the day after the inauguration, the number of infections in the U.S. surpassed 25 million.

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

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

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

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

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

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

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

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Majority:

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

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

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

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

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

July 20, 2019

DDT: Week 130 – Ethical Moves Backward from Space Race

Tweets from Republicans show how they think, and this one from Diamond and Silk, Fox Nation hosts and vloggers, have a doozey:

“Nancy Pelosi said the WORDS that the President used were racist. But those same words are in the Dictionary. Does that mean that the Dictionary is now racist? Should all Dictionaries be banned since Democrats are offended by words?”

When the sisters, strongly supported by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), saw Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) eating chicken to mock AG Bill Barr’s cowardice in not testifying before the House, they called him “racially insensitive.” Ladies, the word “chicken” is in the Dictionary (sic), and one white man was ridiculing another white man. In another foray into stupidity, D&S lambasted Beto O’Rourke for opposing a wall on the southern border because he lives in a house with walls

Dumbness predominates in about 16 million people in the U.S. who don’t believe that two U.S. men walked on the moon 50 years ago. Some of them go farther in a belief that the earth is a flat disc with the Arctic in the center and a 150-foot-tall wall of ice in the Antarctica surrounding the rim. NASA employees guard the wall to keep people from falling off. And gravity is an illusion.

While DDT diverted people with his racism:

The EPA will not ban a pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, a pesticide banned before DDT was inaugurated. Now permitted for agricultural food use, chlorpyrifos was banned from residential use in 2000 because of causing memory problems, lower IQs, reduced breathing capacity, and increased risks of children born with autism as shown by a study of children living in California. The negative effects are permanent. Last year, a federal court said there was “no justification” for such a decision.

DDT rolled back programs to detect weapons of mass destruction by canceling training exercises and driving out scientists and policy experts. U.S. citizens now face greater risks from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks since DDT appointed James McDonnell as director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office before he was promoted to lead the new Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. Over 100 people who raised concerns about lack of readiness were taken out of their areas of expertise. Disbanded programs helped law enforcement officials detect potential threats and worked to detect foreign states trying to provide radiological or nuclear material to terrorists.

Not satisfied with getting rid of 80 percent of scientists in two USDA agencies by moving them to Kansas City, DDT has exiled one-fifth of the Interior Department, most of the Bureau of Land Management’s D.C. workforce further from Washington, D.C.—to west of the Rockies where they will be more susceptible to pressure from the fossil fuel industry. DDT is also trying to get rid of the government’s human resources agency, the Office of Personnel Management, planning to “furlough” up to 150 employees if Congress refuses to follow his orders.

The Pentagon tripled its presence on the southern border by sending 1,100 active-duty troops and 1,000 Texas National Guard soldiers to join 2,500 active-duty and 2,000 National Guard troops already there.

AG Bill Barr gave $51,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee immediately before his Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general. Before that, Barr had only occasionally donated to the GOP.

The Agriculture Department blocked the release of a multiyear plan on how to respond to climate change finalized in the early days of the Trump administration. It showed ways for farmers to understand, adapt to, and minimize the effects of climate change.

A defense contractor employee with access to sensitive information threatened to kill Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) because she supported a bill to vaccinate school children. 

The Washington Post has a report on its investigation into how acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is working to create a fiefdom in his goal of deregulating the government. His primary goals are immigration and health care in his work to force out chiefs of staff in these departments. One senior official said that only economic advisor Larry Kudlow and national security adviser John Bolton are not under Mulvaney’s control. He is behind permission for health-care providers, insurers, and employers to refuse coverage for medical services with the excuse of religious and/or moral beliefs, including banning taxpayer-funded clinics from making referrals for abortions.

DDT’s immigration expands its cruelty. When Border Patrol separated parents in a Honduran family, sending one to Mexico and leaving the other in the United States, three-year-old Sofia, who has a heart condition even after surgery, was asked to pick which parent she wanted. The family had already been sent back twice to Mexico. The girl’s mother had seen her mother killed; her sister-in-law, also a witness, was later kidnapped, tortured, and murdered to keep her from testifying.  

U.S. citizen children—at least those appearing to be Latinx—can’t go anywhere without a danger of being kidnapped by the U.S. government.

Thirteen-year-old Heydi has died after hanging herself because her father was turned away from asylum three times. Her father was finally reunited with her daughter after she lay brain-dead in the hospital. 

This is in what some people call the greatest nation in the world. 

GOP quandaries:

DDT has claimed that the U.S. military shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, but Iran claims that all its drones returned to their home bases. Iran suggests that the U.S. might have shot down one of its own drones. Considering DDT’s history of lying, people might be more likely to believe Iran. The question might be whether DDT is ginning up a war after his week of criticism on his racist attacks.

Democrats took the House partly because they supported health care for people. After spending almost a decade trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Judge Richard Leon of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that ACA doesn’t have to provide for pre-existing conditions. Watch for the Democrats’ campaign ads—and the GOP candidates lying about their positions as Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in her last campaign when she told people that she voted for pre-existing conditions. Democrats will likely appeal Leon’s decision. Wonder what Republicans will do.

After the House passed a bill by 402 to 12 that made permanent a compensation program for 9/11 responders who contracted diseases linked to exposure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has tried to block presenting the bill with 75 co-sponsors in the Senate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) demanded that all cost should be offset by cuts in spending. Paul called the bill’s supporter Jon Stewart, formerly of the The Daily Show, a “guttersnipe” and the legislation a “completely irresponsible” measure with support only because senators are “overwhelmed” by the comedian’s celebrity. The senator said, “If Jon Stewart could read, maybe he’d read the bill and say, ‘Oh my God, who would vote for a bill that doesn’t have a dollar amount in it?’ ” Bad press may have led McConnell to declare that a vote will take place next week. 

The Senate may need to deal with another bill passed by the House that raises the minimum wage to $15 over the next six years and takes between 27 million and 33 million people out of poverty. Accounting for inflation, the wage peaked at $11.79 per hour in 1968

Things for Republicans to deal with:

Texas may gain three to four congressional seats after the census, but only with an accurate count. The state is refusing to fund the census; just a one-percent undercount could cost Texas $300 million in federal funding a year. California, with a population of 40 percent more than Texas, is spending $154 million. Texas can lose billions of dollars with its short sightedness. 

A few positive things:

The House voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate. DDT had tried to use emergency powers to sidestep Congress for 22 deals worth more than $8 billion.

The 10th Circuit Court has upheld a lower court’s decision that San Juan County (Utah) had violated constitutional rights of residents with racially gerrymandered districts and affirmed the new court-imposed districts. Anglos were upset with new districts that gave the ability of Navajos to be elected after whites had put most of the Navajo residents, 52 percent of the county’s population, into one of the three districts. One of the whites plans to appeal to the entire circuit court.

DDT is at his Bedminster resort with no keepers. Tomorrow may be more tweet-filled. 

March 2, 2017

Resist!

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 9:12 PM
Tags: , , , ,

“Protests don’t do any good.” That’s what a progressive friend of mine said yesterday. I launched into my monologue, including the protests against the Vietnam War and for civil rights which we’re both old enough to remember. By the time I finished, he agreed with me—although perhaps out of exhaustion. Earlier this week, “hundreds” of Trump supporters gathered across the country but failed to display much energy. At the same time, the Resistance Movement is overwhelming the nation.

Unlike the Vietnam War protesting, this activism is not around a single issue. The “women’s march” was about far more than women; it showed how all of us need to come together to fight back against the authoritarian regime from the federal government. Everyone needs to know that we are not alone while we are all at risk.

A question after that first march on January 21 was what would happen after the event that went around the world. The outrage demonstrated by hundreds of thousands of people is vital, and retention of that energy is crucial. While conservatives tell protesters to “get over it,” something they never did with Barack Obama, and others call for compromise, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has shown that there is no benefit in conciliation because Republicans consistently prove that they will settle only for their own way, always refusing to cooperate. They have zero interest in democracy.

One benefit for protesters is that DDT has made radical promises about finding jobs for people that he cannot possibly fulfill. The unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent—in my state of Oregon, the lowest in 50 years at 4.3 percent. Another problem for conservatives is the false claim that GOPcare will give a better deal to people than “Obamacare,” which now enjoys a 54 percent approval rating. DDT supporters will have less money after the tax “reform” gives away the money only to the wealthy. Others will lose Social Security and Medicare if congressional Republicans get their way.

Until these disasters come to fruition, however, the United States is already on its way to an autocracy, Paul Krugman’s polite term for dictatorship, and our only path is fighting back:

“A crucial part of the story is that the emerging autocracy uses the power of the state to intimidate and co-opt civil society—institutions outside the government proper. The media are bullied and bribed into becoming de facto propaganda organs of the ruling clique. Businesses are pressured to reward the clique’s friends and punish its enemies. Independent public figures are pushed into collaboration or silence. Sound familiar?”

A great beginning was Indivisible, the grass roots movement that started with a guide to protesting. The presence of these people was noticeable whenever the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at the town hall meetings during the congressional recess as the crowd emphasized the word in “one nation indivisible.”

Michael Moore also has a “ten-step program” to rally people that echoes much of the Indivisible document. His first directive is calling Congress—every day! Dial 202-225-3121 (or 202-224-3121 if busy). Or directly call senators and representatives. There’s even an app called “5 Calls” that directly dials numbers. Make it part of your daily routine, Moore writes, just after waking up, brushing teeth, walking dog or staring at cat, and making coffee. Members of Congress are commenting on the number of calls they are receiving. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) said that he received 20,000 in one week instead of the normal 2,500.

Item #9 is even easier for people who hate to make telephone calls. With the current DDT obsession on suppressing the media, do it yourself. Moore suggests that everyone establish their own “media empire” by sharing progressive articles on all their social media. Some of my favorite outlets are americanprogress.org (including thinkprogress.org), alternet.org, dailykos.com, truthout.org, readersupportednews.org, reprohealthwatch.org, and msnbc.com/maddowblog. You probably have other favorites.

The last item on Moore’s list feeds into DDT’s terror of being ridiculed. Share humor with people—all those clips from SNL, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Andy Borowitz, and your other favorites. Those of you think that mocking the president is not fair need to consider his greed, misogyny, bigotry, narcissism, authoritarianism, and ignorance that should remove his right to lead the nation.

Follow your congressional members by subscribing to these sites.

  • FiveThirtyEight, the respected blog that crunches political numbers for analyses of politics and economics, has the Trump Score to show how individual members of Congress compare to DDT’s positions. It’s a start.
  • GovTrack has more detailed information and provides alerts on individual congressional members’ votes and updates on bills that they sponsor. It’s a good way to look at voting records and follow bills and committees.
  • Countable gives pro and con positions about specific bills and stances from political organizations about specific issues.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, suggests boycotting retailers that carry Trump products as an act of protest. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus have dropped Trump items, and Macy’s, which dropped DDT products, is now being pressured to eliminate the Ivanka Trump line. Activism caused Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, to resign from DDT’s economic counsel. This website contains telephone numbers for Trump-carrying businesses to call about dropping your purchasing power.

Immediately after DDT was inaugurated, people trying to call the White House comment line found it disconnected, but it seems to be operating now between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm EST at 202-456-1111. When it was not operating, White House Inc., created by Revolution Messaging, began connecting people to DDT’s businesses. The person may ask about making reservations or setting up a tee time, but you can still ask for management and talk about the issues.

DDT and the Republicans legislators claim that they have sworn off regulations, but they will certainly create ones that make lives worse. At this time, everyone can comment on proposed rules. After laws are passed, executive agencies can fill in the details within the boundaries of the law. These regulations must be shared with the public before public adoption in a comment period.

The first step is to go to the list of proposed regulations. For example, one of the ones listed is called “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Market Stabilization.” Reading the draft rules shows that the government wants to reduce open enrollment for the ACA from two months to two weeks—November 1 to December 15. The end of the comment period for this proposed regulation is March 6, 2017. There are directions on how to comment.

Some organizations, for example the Sierra Club, have pages for its supporters to submit public comments on issues of their concern; signing up for email lists from the organizations that champion your causes is useful. This process goes beyond signing petitions because your comments must be reviewed. The most useful comments are those that provide facts, analyses, and impacts, and the number of voices always matters.

folding-chair

Why do protests make a difference? They make causes more visible, demonstrate power, give a sense of unity, build relationships, and provide a sense of energy and hope. If protests didn’t work, conservatives wouldn’t bother trying to make them illegal in at least 18 states. No significant social progress has ever occurred without protests. The most amazing part of Michael Moore’s ten steps is the Resistance Calendar with daily protest postings—almost 20 for just today, March 2. As Shirley Chisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring in a folding chair.” Pick up your folding chair and join the resistance!

February 18, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 2

The news from the past week wasn’t all bad for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of it will make life more difficult and dangerous for the people in the United States.

Two-State Solution?: A future Palestinian state may have completely disappeared this week as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he doesn’t care whether there is a two-state or a one-state solution. “I like the one that both parties like,” DDT said. The statement conflicts with a half-century of work for a two-state solution although he followed—albeit very mildly—the five-decade policy of presidential opposition to Israeli settlement on Palestinian land. The usual bombastic DDT was quite mild with Netanyahu, especially when he said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

DDT also didn’t say he supported moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is partly Palestinian, but he has appointed David M. Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has openly said that supporters of a two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators. He strongly supports the Israeli seizure of privately-owned Palestinian land and has financially invested in the illegal settlement enterprise in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-owned West Bank where Palestinians live under a half-century 50-year military occupation. DDT and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Kushner’s family who are on the organization’s founding board of trustees, have donated to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group opposed to the two-state resolution. Kushner is in charge of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment,” said Friedman about the Muslim ban when he claims that immigrants applying for entry to the U.S. don’t have “the rights of free speech and privacy.”

DDT’s First Big Bill—Supporting Oil Industry: One in a series of regulatory rollback bills, a regulation requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments is the first to fall under the hatchet of DDT’s signature. The oil and gas industry, including Secretary of State and Exxon-wealthy Rex Tillerson, is delighted because they can hide their business in Russia. DDT claimed that the bill will bring back jobs, showing that he has no idea what he has signed. He had the same problem with the order he signed that allows financial advisors to steal from investors. In his written response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson acknowledged:

“Part of my job…will be to make sure that because American companies, NGOs and development relief efforts are expected to play by the rules and abide by [the Cardin-Lugar rule]…and other laws, that foreign companies or investors do not get an unfair advantage by cheating or keeping to a lower standard.”

Now the oil industry–and Tillerson–will use its deep swamp to easily hide bribery from foreign countries.

GOP Promotion of Coal Mining Waste in Streams: In its enthusiasm to overturn everything that President Obama did to help people, Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy the nation. The right-to-bribery oil bill was the first; the second is to allow coal companies to dump their debris in waterways. DDT said he will save “many thousands American jobs” by making water unusable. The plan doesn’t increase the number of jobs: it just allows miners to continue burying streams by blowing off the tops of mountains, causing higher rates of cancer and heart disease. Thus far, Appalachia has seen 2,000 miles of streams ruined; the new law will allow another 6,000 miles of streams to suffer from the debris. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program.” There was no evidence that this help for miners will occur.

Guns for the Mentally Disabled: The next time that the NRA speaks about a high profile mass shooting, someone will say, “The problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. We just need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Four Democrats and an Independent joined GOP senators to reverse an Obama regulation that referred a small number of people to the FBI background check system to prevent them from buying guns. This population is composed of people applying for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental condition and incapable of managing their own finances. President Obama used George W. Bush’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 for the regulation. DDT will most likely sign this bill next week.

Russia Feeling Brave?:  The country’s recent deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile violates the Cold War-era arms control treaty. A Russian intelligence ship was also seen 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base in New London (CT), 18 miles out in international waters. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has expressed concern about the ship in connection with Russia’s firing the missile and the Russian aircraft buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. He tweeted, “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

House Oversight Committee Rejection of Flynn’s Possible Treason: Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said that more information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s talks with the Russians is upcoming and that these conversations are not covered by executive privilege. Flynn would have to answer questions in congressional investigations if Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) changed his mind about not investigating Flynn’s possible acts of treason. The GOP House just wants to “move on.” Chaffetz is now focused on investigating Sid the Science Kid. GOP senators appear to have more interest in investigations, but they have caved on issues before. Chaffetz did ask DDT for an accounting of security measures during his talk with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. (A few months back, Chaffetz said that he could never look his daughters in the face if he support Donald Trump.)

Immigration Abuse: DDT’s Muslim ban has been blocked, but border agents are still targeting people protected by the Dreamer act, falsifying records to keep innocent people in detention, targeting people from countries other than the “Muslim ban,” lying to get travelers to give up visas and green cards, hiding people in detention, detaining U.S. citizens who work for the government, etc. The new immigration tactics will vastly increase domestic abuse after officials detained an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse when she got a protective order against her abuser. In the past, the United States had given victims of domestic violence the option of protection through the U Visa if they cooperated with law enforcement. The officials picked up the woman on a tip from her abuser after he was arrested, creating a practice giving great control to an abusive person. DDT said he had promised “to get the bad ones.”

The Return of J. Edgar Hoover Tactics: DDT may be keeping dossiers on journalists, congressional members, and other influential people who don’t agree with him. White House reporter April Ryan stated that Omarosa Manigault, White House communications official “physically intimidated” Ryan as well as making verbal threats including the assertion that DDT officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information on her and several other journalists. White supremacist and DDT’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has asked people to dig for dirt on at least four Democrats who Bannon worries about participating in the 2020 presidential election: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Murphy wrote that the White House “scouring my background” is a “compliment.”

japan-prime-ministerOne piece of humor from this past week was the look on Japanese Prime Minister Abe after an enforced 19-second handshake with DDT. Check the video out! People have started paying more attention to DDT’s handshakes than what he says. For example, the one with his Supreme Court Justice nominee made Neil Gorsuch look particularly pained. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prepared: he strong-armed DDT and quickly took his hand back.

trump-to-great

You could also have gotten the above DDT inauguration print from the Library of Congress for only $16.95, but it’s been pulled—maybe because of the typo? The Internet, however, never forgets!

February 4, 2017

DDT: Week Two

 

The adults in the White House are gone, replaced by childish, vengeful adolescents coordinated by a white supremacist. It’s like a kid won president of the student council because he ran on overturning all school rules. Here are some actions from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his second seek of rule.

Much of the media concentration last week was on DDT’s ban on Muslims. It threw much of the nation into chaos, most probably its intent. After over 100,000 visas were overturned and far more innocent people, many of them U.S. residents, were kept from coming into the country, a George W. Bush-appointed judge in Washington state overturned the ban. The State Department, now with oil magnate Rex Tillerson at the helm, decided to reverse DTT’s ban, allowing those whose visas were not physically cancelled to come into the United States. People with those visas will have to go to an embassy or consulate to have them reinstated.

Other of DDT’s well known activities last week were firing Acting Attorney General Sally Yates because she refused to violate the U.S. Constitution, alienating leaders in several allied countries while giving Russia a pass on illegal actions in Ukraine, and putting white supremacist Steve Bannon on the National Security Council while removing the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

These diversionary tactics kept many people from focusing on the other damage that he did last week. One major move was to put evangelicals in charge of the country; details of these actions are to be described tomorrow.

Allowing financial advisers cheat clients: DDT overturned an Obama regulation requiring investors to put their clients’ interests first. Financial advisors can return to getting the biggest commissions, even if the investments are not in the best interests of their clients. Experts say that this particularly damages economic situations for the elderly with limited retirement funds.

Trying to fake support for gender equality: When DDT appointed Gina Haspel as deputy director of the CIA, Kellyanne Conway bragged that this was the first woman in this position. She was wrong: President Obama appointed Avril Haines as the first woman for this post. Haspel also has a bad record of overseeing a “black site” prison in Thailand that used torturing and then ordered videos from the prison destroyed. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) wrote to Trump stating, “Her background makes her unsuitable for the position.”

Avoiding any mention of Jews: On the same day that DDT issued his Muslim ban, he gave out a statement honoring International Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention Jewish people—just all those people who perished. The omission was intentional, and there were no regrets from White House about the lack of “remembrance.” The State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues prepared a statement that mentioned the six million Jewish victims—two-thirds of the European Jewish population—but the White House omitted this part of the statement, possibly at the instigation of white supremacist Steve Bannon who writes DDT’s executive orders.

Killing citizens in Yemen: DDT’s first military raid as president ended badly when leaks about the operation resulted in the killing of a U.S. Navy Seal and an eight-year-old citizen of the U.S. as well as over 23 other civilians, many of them women and children. DDT’s administration bragged about the raid’s success, but the “intelligence” released to promote its “success” is ten years old. Al Qaeda leader Qassim al-Raymi called DDT “the fool of the White House” and reported that two U.S. helicopters were downed and tens of U.S. soldiers injured. Unnamed military officials said that “Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff presented the plan at a dinner with DDT, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Mike Pence who immediately approved it with no advice or vetting from intelligence officers or military commanders. A meeting the next day about the plan was “pro forma and irrelevant” because a decision had been made.

After press secretary, Sean Spicer, described the raid as “a successful operation by all standards,” he decided it was a disaster and tried to put the blame on former President Obama who had been briefed on the proposal and deferred any decision to his successor. Witnesses to the Obama discussions regarding the raid debunked the White House blame game. Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, and Ned Price, a former White House spokesman, said that the botched raid was never approved by former President Obama.

Some members of Congress—even Republicans—want to look into the debacle, and the military has already announced that it would launch its own investigation. The villagers at the location of the raid have said that they were unfairly targeted by the United States, and IS in Yemen is now strengthened, according to an International Crisis Group report,

Ignoring home-grown counter-terrorism: DDT wants a program to exclude opposition to violent white supremacists and other non-Islam extremist groups to completely focus on Muslims. Spicer said that the White House will look at borders to investigate “homegrown” terrorist threats. The decision was announced three days after a white supremacist pro-Trump Canadian killed six people in a Quebec mosque. Reuters reported that the administration “would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.” People in America are seven times more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim attacker as demonstrated by recent mass shootings.

Eliminating federal funding for “sanctuary” cities and states: DDT threatened last week to cut funding from areas that don’t hold undocumented immigrants in detention, but the number of those places is growing—and not just in blue states. This week Birmingham (AL) City Council voted unanimously to be a “welcoming and a sanctuary.” Recent data shows that sanctuary counties have lower crime rates, poverty rates, and unemployment rates than counties that fully cooperate with ICE. Overall, immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, has issued an executive order prohibiting the state from participating in the creation of a Muslim registry and called on the state’s AG to legally oppose DDT’s anti-immigration measures. Her order extends the state’s 30-year-old statute prohibiting law enforcement agencies from treating undocumented Oregonians as criminals to include all state agencies. Washington became the first state to file a lawsuit against DDT’s immigration ban, and four other states—Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia—have joined third-party actions.

Failing to record call with Vladimir Putin: DDT’s hour-long telephone call with Russia’s leader was taped in that country but not in the United States. The Kremlin’s detailed 10-paragraph cited “active joint efforts to stabilize and develop Russia-US cooperation on a constructive, equitable, and mutually beneficial basis” and quoted Putin as being pleased with DDT’s tone. The vague one-paragraph statement from the White House referred to a “congratulatory call from Russian President Vladimir Putin.” It has been suggested that the staff disabled the recording equipment.

Running from protesters: DDT canceled his trip to Wisconsin’s Harley-Davidson factor because of the threat of protesters.

Opening Black History Month in a bizarre speech: DDT’s first statement:

“Well, the election, it came out really well. Next time we’ll triple the number or quadruple it. We want to get it over 51, right? At least 51.”

He continued by rambling about a rumor that he had taken a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. out of his office and complaining about “fake news.” Then he said that Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” He segued to the media, calling CNN “fake news” but complimenting the Fox network that “has treated me very nice.” He talked about the importance of good schools and inner-city violence. And then he was done.

Waffles on doing away with regulations: During his campaign DDT promised that he would eliminate two existing regulations for every new one, sort a cool “one in, two out” with no rationale. But this week’s executive order stated “identify,” not “eliminate.” The order doesn’t require that these “two regulations” be repealed for every one created.

Purging the State Department: Last week, it was announced that several top-level officials at the State Department resigned. DDT actually got rid of them, including one who was on his way to Rome for an international meeting on nuclear weapons. He was in charge of signing off on U.S. arms sales and security assistance abroad by negotiating, implementing, and verifying international arms control agreements and international security. No one has replaced him.

A piece of good news? By the end of PDT’s first week, alternative twitter accounts popped up for most federal agencies after PDT’s gag order on sending out information. Here’s a list. Even Oregon’s Crater Lake has an alt-twitter.

More coverage of DDT’s second week is here. Compare the reality with the fantasy from the White House.

March 17, 2016

Gov. Snyder, Government Isn’t a Business

The U.S. House actually did something today: they held committee hearings about the travesty in Flint with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testifying. For those of you who lost track of Flint’s water problems in the midst of Trumpmania, a governor with no political experience who was hired on the basis of his “business” skills and anti-government policies said he saved money on the water supply to Flint’s citizens by poisoning them with lead and causing deaths from Legionnaires Disease. The brilliant minds behind the scheme that poisoned Flint residents were a think tank funded by the powerful, conservative DeVos family, owner of Amway marketing.

Leaked emails show that Snyder didn’t poison Flint residents to save money. He just wanted to privatize the utility.  The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) offered Snyder a deal of $800 million over 30 years, 20 percent cheaper than switching to the polluted Karegnondi Water Authority. It also offered a 50 percent reduction over what Flint had paid in the past to stay with DWSD. By breaking up DWSD and starve it of the Flint customer base, DWDS would be forced to privatize, sold off by Snyder. Snyder refused to release the emails from 2013 which would confirm this information. The governor has also slashed corporate taxes while instituting a flat tax and crippling public schools with budget cuts.

Ironically, Michigan could have saved billions of dollars and thousands of people suffering from serious health issues and brain damage for only $50,000 a year. A city administrator refused to pay to add orthophosphate to the process, as is done in Detroit to Lake Huron sourced water. That chemical would have prevented the corrosion of lead pipes.

Snyder came into today’s hearing after ignoring the problems for almost two years and said, “This was a failure of government at all levels. Local, state and federal officials — we all failed the families of Flint.” To Snyder, everyone else was responsible, and he is innocent, despite his appointment of an “emergency manager” instead of allowing elected officials to guide the city’s government processes. That was before he ignored all the complaints from Flint residents about the dangers of the water after his manager changed the water source and caused the disaster. According to Snyder, “Bureaucrats created a culture that valued technical competence over common sense.” He’s wrong only about his personal bureaucrats. No one valued “technical competence” and no one showed “common sense.”

The governor who believes in states’ rights—and would have screamed bloody murder if anyone had tried to violate them—blamed EPA’s Gina McCarthy for not fixing the problem while Snyder ignored it. McCarthy responded that Snyder’s people in Michigan’s DEQ told the EPA that they had done corrosion controls when they hadn’t done anything. She concluded, “We were strong-armed, we were misled, we were kept at arm’s length, we couldn’t do our jobs effectively.”

After the EPA sent Michigan’s DEQ directives about the Flint water two months ago, the state agency’s director questioned the EPA’s “legal authority” to “order a state and its agencies” to protect the health of its citizens. EPA had told Michigan to inform the public about upcoming steps, but Michigan is one of two states in the nation where the governor is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. In that way, the state thinks that it can legally violate the state’s open meetings act as the governor meets with all his emergency managers behind closed doors. Before this order from EPA, the state supplied the federal agency with altered documents and purposely skewed test results to support the falsehood that there was no problem with Flint water.

Snyder also blamed federal regulations. The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires chemicals to reduce corrosiveness in public water systems to keep water from leach lead from pipes. Michigan, however, misread the regulations.

With the disaster in the public spotlight, Snyder now feels really bad about what happened. Yet he refuses to provide any funding from the state’s surplus funds of $575 million to replace pipes and instead is spending $1.2 million on lawyers to deal with the crisis. Snyder’s AG, Bill Schuette, also appointed a special counsel, a donor to both Shuette’s and Snyder’s campaigns, to investigate whether anyone broke state laws. The governor also hired a public relations firm with no offices in Michigan in order to cover himself. Its senior vice president in the Florida office is married to Snyder’s Chief of Staff.

Today’s hearing was the second on the subject this week. On Tuesday, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings (MD), called the testimonies “sickening.” State-appointment Darnell Earley who switched the water moaned about how he’s been “unjustly persecuted, vilified, and smeared.” He claimed that the water was safe even after GM refused to use it because it corroded its auto parts. “I’m not a water treatment expert,” he said. At the same time that he denied any problem with the water, state employees were receiving bottled water at their offices.

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech professor who largely contributed to exposing the sham, said, “Apparently being a government agency means never having to say you are sorry.” He said that the agency “covered up evidence of their unethical actions by authoring false scientific reports.”

The water is unusable, but parents were told that the state would take their children if they didn’t pay their water bills because they needed running water in their homes. Flint residents also pay more for unusable water than other U.S. communities pay for usable running water. Average  spending for each Flint household is $864.32—more than twice as much as homes served by public water utilities and ten times as much as Phoenix, Arizona. The average cost for private water utilities is $500, typically 58 percent more than other public utility systems and 2.7 times the average cost in Michigan. The cost in Flint skyrocketed after the emergency manager raised water and sewer costs by 25 percent. Over 40 percent of Flint residents live under the poverty line, and the media income is $25,000.

After Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton brought Flint’s inexcusable condition to the media forefront—soon followed by Bernie Sanders–GOP candidates spoke up. Sen. Marco Rubio, now out of the race, praised Snyder for taking “responsibility,” and Sen. Ted Cruz offered to send water, but only through anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.” He also single-handedly blocked an aid package of $850 million to help victims in Flint and other cities suffering lead crises.

This week, a resolution “recognizing magic as a rare and valuable art form and national treasure” was referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—the same group holding hearings on Flint.  Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said he did this as a matter of constituent services. Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) tweeted, “The House GOP believes in magic but not climate change.” Evidently representatives don’t believe in constituent service for Flint. Instead of helping Flint and other communities with lead pipes, the U.S. is scheduled to give Israel $30 billion in the next ten years—and Israel wants that increased to $50 billion. House Democrats are pushing a bill to block the appointment of emergency managers instead of elected officials, but it’s an uphill battle.

Michigan’s governor is a Republican dream: Snyder is anti-government and anti-regulation while strongly states’ rights. He firmly believes that government should be run like a business. At least that’s his belief until he wants to blame all his problems on someone else and complain that the federal government didn’t solve his problems years ago so that he wouldn’t be sitting in a House committee hearing. In reality it’s a  nightmare–what happens when GOP leadership is allowed to run rampant over people’s rights.

This week’s test of water shows higher levels than earlier ones. Snyder refuses to replace the pipes until he does extensive studies. People are still without usable running water. That’s Flint under a small government, business plan.

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