Nel's New Day

November 12, 2022

Dems Take Senate; Snowflake GOP Whines

Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) has been become the 50th senator, making the Walker/Warnock election in Georgia on December 6 a non-factor in possible losses of GOP bills and votes. Her election follows Sen. Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) earlier win. His opponent, Black Masters, blames House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his loss because Masters wanted more funding. Masters already received $15 million from gay billionaire Peter Thiel.

As can be expected, GOP sour grapes prevailed. After DDT accused the voting system in Clark County (NV), the state’s most populous county, of being corrupt, county officials fought back to refute his lies. As in 2020, DDT and his allies are attacking any states with Democratic winners of election fraud if their votes weren’t counted by midnight of Election Day—even if the law permitted states to accept ballots several days after Election Day as 18 states do. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) echoed DDT on a Republican conference call hosted by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the Senate fundraising committee by falsely claiming that there was no “mathematical way” Adam Laxalt could lose to Cortez Masto.

National media finally declared Tina Kotek Oregon’s governor-elect, and her GOP candidate finally managed to concede. Nevada’s GOP candidate Joe Lombardo beat his opponent, but the GOP election denier candidate for secretary of state, Jim Marchant, lost. He had said he would certify the 2024 election for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT. In Arizona, Kari Lake trails Katie Hobbs for governor by 34,000 votes after the last drop from a GOP area of Maricopa County failed to give her a big boost. Another 190,000 ballots with possibly Democratic emphasis are waiting in the wings.

Lake has cried voter fraud because the vote wasn’t completed within a few hours of the end of voting. She called Arizona “a banana republic,” and Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts told Lake to “grow up”:

“Kari Lake was vowing to call the Arizona Legislature into a special session because she didn’t get a balloon drop on election night. Do you need a timeout? That’s what I used to ask my toddler sons when they’d throw themselves onto the floor, kicking and screaming, because they didn’t get their way.”

Lake even promises she would “call the Arizona Legislature into a special session because she didn’t get a balloon drop on election night,” according to Roberts. MSNBC reporter Vaughn Hilliard said Lake alleges fraud but refuses to name what it is or or report anyone to authorities.  

The best satire, close to fact, came from the New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz. It begins:

“The United States of America has become the envy of the world after a ten-billion-dollar expenditure on political advertising changed virtually nothing. People around the globe marvelled at a democracy so robust it could withstand an outlay of cash greater than the gross domestic product of nations such as Tajikistan, Montenegro, and Somalia…

“’When you imagine what you could do with ten billion dollars, you immediately think of building new roads or schools,’ a citizen of Montenegro said. ‘But America’s roads and schools must be in excellent shape, if they can afford to spend ten billion dollars on elections instead.’

“’Ten billion dollars could pay for a lot of solar panels, wind farms, and other measures to mitigate climate change,’ a resident of Somalia said. ‘Thank heavens Americans realized that political advertising is the thing that makes them No. 1 in the world and decided to spend it on that.’”

The Republicans are traumatized by their loss, and DDT faces unprecedented attacks from many in the GOP. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal called him the GOP’s “biggest lower” and former House Speaker Paul Ryan begged Republicans to move forward in a non-DDT direction. “Trump is a loser,” right-wing pundit Eli Lake on Daily Beast wrote on Twitter. “He’s an albatross, a boat anchor on the party. For three straight elections, he has been a liability for Republicans.” Commentary magazine’s John Podhoretz called DDT a “pathological loser narcissist who has now been humiliated by the American electorate in three separate national contests.” Even DDT’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said, “Between being Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis tonight, you want to be Ron DeSantis. Trump is not doing very well.”

Even conservative tabloid New York Post ridiculed DDT. 

While DDT’s inner circle tried to talk him out of declaring a candidacy within the next couple of months or longer, he unleashed his venom on heir apparent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had a really good night. His gerrymandering of districts in opposition to both Republicans and Democrats in legislature created a number of GOP congressional winners, maybe responsible for the U.S. House win if it happens.

DDT called DeSantis an “average” governor with “great public relations.” In a statement, DDT asserted:

“Ron came to me in desperate shape in 2017—he was politically dead, losing in a landslide. Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse him, he could win. … When I Endorsed him, it was as though, to use a bad term, a nuclear weapon went off.”

DDT went even farther when he  claimed he “sent in the FBI and U.S. Attorneys” to stop “ballot theft … just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win” for DeSantis’ 2018 election. In the same Truth Social post, DDT wrote, “I also fixed his campaign.” A legal expert called the action “fraud.” DeSantis’ defeated opponent, Andrew Gillum is already using DDT’s statements in a court filing

NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins tweeted:

“Am I losing my mind? Is this not a gigantic deal? He’s either casually admitting to using federal agents to interfere in a state election or lying about it for some equally inexplicable reason, right? Am I reading this wrong or is this a five-alarmer for the DOJ?”

DDT followed his attacks on DeSantis with rants and slurs against Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin, another possible presidential candidate in 2024. In a racist comment, DDT said that “Young kin … sounds Chinese” before he took credit for Youngkin’s win. During the election, the governor had tried to separate himself from DDT.

In more tantrums, DDT blames Fox’s Sean Hannity, his former BFF, and casino mogul Steve Wynn for the Election Day losses of his hand-picked candidates. Trying to cover for his failures, DDT insisted he “did a great job” in the midterms and concluded, “Remember, I am a ‘Stable Genius.’” He sticks to his declaration on Election night, “I should get all the credit. If they lose, I should not be blamed at all.” Like all the other whining Republicans, is melting like snowflakes.

The U.S. House is still not a done deal for the GOP. A projection gives Republican a one-person lead over the Democrats, but 19 elections still haven’t been called for the chamber. No matter which way it goes, the GOP is in for a “Bloodbath!” the term Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about Election Day. Republicans have two major issues: what to do about “loser” DDT and who should have the GOP leadership in Congress.    

Republicans are blaming McConnell for not worshipping DDT and for not approving some of his candidates. Conservative senators pushing for Ron Johnson’s (WI) leadership are asking colleagues to postpone votes for GOP leadership elections next week, but the vote is still on schedule. No matter who wins, that person will be Minority Leader.  

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), desperately trying to become the party leader in the House is catering to the collection of crazies who have been elected. As of yesterday, at least 150 election deniers were elected to the House with a few other undecided races such as the queen loonie Lauren Boebert from Colorado. A newbie is gay election-denier George Santos from Long Island who attended DDT’s January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and said he wrote a “nice check” to help cover the legal fees of some of the rioters. To Santos, abortion is comparable to slavery. McCarthy will do anything to get votes for House Speaker; he already promised Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) banned from committee membership for the past two years, that she can have any committee position she wants.

The far-right House members are campaigning to block McCarthy from leadership. A strategy from the Freedom Caucus is to create an easier process to call for a vote ousting a sitting speaker. The conservatives also wants more representation on selecting committee assignments and aims to delay the legislative by taking more time to review even non-controversial bills. Other demands are launching investigations and impeachments of President Joe Biden and his Cabinet members.

A huge problem of selecting any GOP House leadership is the slim majority, even if Republicans take the House. McCarthy is also in DDT’s pocket, making serious problems for anyone else running for president in 2024.

Inflation was a concern for 31 percent of voters, but democracy was far above at 44 percent. Abortion was also not far behind inflation at 27 percent. Voters over 65 years old preferred Republicans over Democrats by 55 percent to 43 percent, meaning 55 percent of them voted against keeping their benefits. Maybe they think that saving a few dollars on gas will make up for these losses. Pew Research exit polls shows a lengthy selection of other descriptors about how people voted this month—a great read for political junkies.

November 7, 2022

One Day to the End of Democracy

Tomorrow will be the turning point for democracy in the United States when ballots are due for the 2022 midterm election. Results will trickle in with slow counts where ballots haven’t been touched until the polls close on November 8, causing conservatives to begin suing for fraud. A few other decisions may dribble on as states requiring a majority have runoffs, maybe the U.S. Senate race from Georgia. The question is whether people are willing to give up their rights and their benefits—like Social Security and Medicare—to get a dollar or two off their gas and hand off democracy to power-hungry Republicans and greedy corporations.

One lie about elections has already been clarified. For six years, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) railed about the “witch hoax” surrounding the Russian interference in elections that helped him win. With a declaration from Russian president Vladimir Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, the “hoax” has been eliminated and the “witch” exposed. The oligarch’s admission, revoking his denial of participation:

“Gentlemen, we have interfered, are interfering and will interfere. Carefully, precisely, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do.”

Known as “Putin’s chef” because he caters for the president, Prigozhin earlier revoked his denial about running the Wagner Group mercenary force to claiming he was behind the forces and bragged about its involvement in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian law prevents private military contractors, but state media openly reports on Wagner’s forces in Ukraine. In 2018, the U.S. charged Prigozhin, a dozen other Russian nationals, and three Russian companies with operating a covert social media campaign aimed at fomenting discord and dividing American public opinion ahead of DDT’s winning 2016 presidential election as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Election deniers still have no evidence of fraud for a “stolen election,” and a judge in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan concurs by dismissing a lawsuit from Kristina Karamo. The DDT-endorsed nominee for secretary of state, who claims that elites drink blood from abortions tried to disqualify over 60,000 mail-in ballots from Detroit. The plaintiffs had no evidence and couldn’t explain what relief they wanted, the first time in the judge’s 26-year experience. He also blasted the plaintiffs for waiting months after the alleged violations in August to file their suit. He said that disenfranchisement “cannot be permitted.”

Karamo has company: organized groups in Michigan are disputing voters who requested or cast absentee ballots, promising future litigation. Pennsylvania ruled that mail-in ballots without voter-written dates won’t be counted even if they come before Election Day. A court ruling in Wisconsin blocks ballots if the required witness address is incomplete. Earlier this year, the 3rd Circuit Court ruled failure to count undated mail ballots violates federal civil rights law, but the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the decision as moot because the election was over. Philadelphia voters can cast a replacement ballot at city hall which doesn’t work for disabled voters; they mail in their ballots because they aren’t mobile.

Democrats are suing to count undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots be counted in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit maintains that the date requirement is immaterial and enforcing it violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The filing states that the date “has no bearing on a voter’s qualifications and serves no purpose other than to erect barriers to qualified voters exercising their fundamental constitutional right to vote.” Last Friday, civil rights groups filed a similar complaint. The Supreme Court ruled these undated ballots should be counted in a June decision.

A judge in Wisconsin has refused a lawsuit from a Republican state legislator to block all military mail-in ballots to be blocked from the state’s vote because he considered disenfranchising over 1,400 service members a “drastic remedy.” Rep. Janet Brandtjen brought her suit with the conservative Thomas More Society and Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who failed to find election fraud in a year-long review of the 2020 election for GOP lawmakers. Gableman requested trying to rescind the state’s election results.

The problem began with Milwaukee’s deputy elections director’s stunt when she sent multiple fake names for military members’ ballots to state GOP Rep. Janel Brandtjen as proof of election fraud. Promoter of lies about elections, Brandtgen received three military ballots under fake names, gave them to the Waukesha County sheriff’s office, and released the information in a news release. The election official has been fired and charged with a felony and three misdemeanors.

Unlike almost all other states, Wisconsin does not require service members to register to vote for casting their ballots, and a state website permits people to order military ballots without providing proof of residency. Election officials have seen no other evidence of ordering absentee fake names, and the problem with three of them was quickly identified.

Last summer, another Republican requested ballots in others’ names to be sent to his home in his attempt to prove problems in Wisconsin’s voting system. He faces criminal charges.

The DOJ will monitor polls in 64 communities within two dozen states on Election Day to protect voters’ rights. In addition, the Civil Rights Division will take complaints regarding alleged violations of voting rights laws at 800-253-3931. Two years ago, the DOJ focused on 44 jurisdictions in 28 states. Attorneys at the agency’s National Security Division, overseeing cases related to foreign interference in elections and violent extremist threats to elections, will work with the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices to counter any potential threats.

Priority elections in 2022 will include Florida (GOP Sen. Marco Rubio against Dem. Val Demings for U.S. Senate) and Georgia (Dem. Raphael Warnock against Herschel Walker for U.S. Senate). Other areas are Nevada’s Clark County (Las Vegas) and Arizona’s Pinal County (a bellweather district). In other monitored areas, Yavapai County (AZ) have self-proclaimed militia groups monitoring drop boxes in the past, and Berks County (PA), sheriff’s deputies staffing ballot drop boxes are told to question voters about whether they are returning their own ballot. Five monitored counties in North Carolina have sizable Black populations, two of them experiencing recent racial controversies. Ten of the state’s counties have experienced intimidated or harassed voters and poll workers. In Texas, Harris County (Houston) has been added to the monitoring list. List of locations

Missouri Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft (R) is refusing the monitoring because the federal presence would “bully a local election authority” and could “intimidate and suppress the vote.”

In an amazing move, the Supreme Court refused a GOP challenge to Michigan’s congressional district maps for the 2022 election because the election is underway. A three-judge panel had already upheld the maps last April. Georgia Cobb County’s is also facing an investigation because over 1,000 voters failed to receive absentee ballots requested weeks ago. State law mandates they be sent within three business days of processing applications. A lawsuit also sues for the absentee ballots to be sent overnight.

A Georgia judge extended until November 14 the deadline for election officials receiving absentee ballots and ordered replacement ballots to be sent overnight who haven’t already been sent them. Affected voters can also vote in person or with a federal write-in absentee ballot. The county supported Joe Biden by 14 points in 2020.

The 2020 election will likely set the pattern for culture in the U.S. with the 2022 midterms blowing up into massive violence. The GOP position is that every election in which Republicans lose—even some of those when they win—should be litigated and then followed with violence if the judge doesn’t give Republicans what they want. This ideology can move into all parts of people’s lives. Lost school games from football to speech debates should create lawsuits if the conservative side loses. If the judge disagrees, the losers can buy guns and kill people in mass shootings. In the U.S., everyone must always hold a gun in their hands as losers are excused for violence—just like Republicans claimed that the January 6 insurrectionists at the Capitol were “tourists.”

Conservatives will blame every victim for all violence they experience. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) blamed Paul Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for being beaten up in his own home. He was sleeping in his San Francisco home while his wife was in Washington, D.C. A radicalized MAGA-supporter broke into his home and caused possibly irreparable physical damage by striking him with a hammer. Pelosi may never completely heal from head fractures and injuries to his arm and hand. Instead of sleeping, Pelosi should have “shot his attacker,” according to Greene at a GOP rally. Greene also blames Democrats for every victim in the U.S.

That will be life under Republican authoritarianism because legislators like Greene will be running all the committees, according to wannabe House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

October 27, 2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Day 245

Russian President Vladimir Putin has one last chance to win his invasion of Ukraine—a GOP congressional takeover on November 8. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested that the House would pull funding for the war if he becomes speaker. They would destroy Ukraine’s courageous struggle to keep its democracy at the same time that its troops are retaking land Russia started to occupy since its attack on February 24, 2022. Putin’s conscription attempts are bad to terrible, and men dragged onto the battle field are poorly equipped and badly trained. While Russian propaganda proposes Ukrainian genocide, the Russian attacks on Ukrainian power stations removing electricity from a million people has only increased Ukrainian resolve.

In the past, Republicans have exhibited friendship with Putin and Russia, and recent votes against aid for Ukraine has shows that continued Russian support by far-right congressional members. In a New Yorker interview with Isaac Chotiner, columnist Christopher Coldwell gave reasons for this GOP fondness for the brutal country trying to annihilate Ukrainians. The GOP sees Putin as an ally in their culture wars and the shared contempt for international institutions. They also admire Putin’s “macho nativist authoritarianism” and have been swayed by his trolling propaganda to influence U.S. elections in the past eight years.   

Fortunately, for Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-CA) opposes McCarthy’s position. McConnell called on President Joe Biden to expedite military aid to Ukraine and promised GOP senators will work to ensure “timely delivery of needed weapons.” There was no mention of McCarthy, but the difference was obvious.

Another reason for the far-right extremist attachment to Putin is his similarity to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and their similar goals. Maureen Dowd wrote:

“They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost. They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition. And while it should be easy to see through these lies, both cult-of-personality leaders are able to con and bully enough people to remain puissant.”

The strongmen who went into Ukrainian apartments with rifles and forced the occupants to vote in favor of the sham referenda annexing eastern Ukraine oblasts bear an alarming resemblance in dress and manner to the men stalking the Arizona ballot drop boxes.

Conservatives permiting Russia to overcome Ukraine and move across Europe will have the same danger as conservatives’ supporting Germany in the leadup to World War II. With other members of “America First,” Charles Lindbergh, the hero of many people in the U.S. for making the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, urged people to join Germany to preserve “our inheritance of European blood.” In 1940, editors of the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote that “our job today is not to stop Hitler [who had] already determined the broad lines of our national life at least for another generation.”

Famous U.S. manufacturers supported Germany’s efforts in his prewar preparations. In 1938, Henry Ford opened an assembly plant in Berlin to build “troop transport-style” vehicles for the German military, and both Ford and his chief executive received the Nazi Grand Cross of the German Eagle for “distinguished service.” GM built the “Blitz” truck in Berlin, used for German army blitzkreig attacks on Poland, France and the Soviet Union.   GM and Ford converted their Axis plant to production of military aircraft and trucks, building almost 90 percent of the armored “mule” 3-ton half-trucks and over 70 percent of the Reich’s medium and heavy-duty trucks which served as “the backbone of the German Army transportation system.” Ford provided access to huge quantities of raw materials, especially rubber, and GM gave Hitler the synthetic fuel technology. All the dealings were “extremely profitable.”

Eighty years later, blatant anti-Semitic attacks by leaders such as Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, and rapper Kanye West have resulted in the highest levels of harassment, vandalism, and violence toward Jews since the 1970s. Russians are donating millions of dollars to U.S. politicians—including DDT—through straw donors. Putin capitalized on U.S. political divisions with the statement that the West is divided into “traditional, mainly Christian values” and another—“aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite.”

The UN objected to a Russian argument that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cannot report to the Security Council regarding allegations Moscow is using Iran-made drones in Ukraine, violating a 2015 resolution. Tehran denies it supplied the drones, but they have been filmed in attacks. Russia also accused the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany of trying to exert influence over Guterres to investigate this use of drones. In addition, Russia may be advising Iran on ways to suppressing open demonstrations after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for not following Iran’s dress code.

Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other key infrastructure, according to the White House. Russians may need the Iranians to train them how to use their drones. Zelensky said that Russia had ordered 2,400 drones from Iran.

A senior Russian foreign ministry official threatened the U.S. and its allies with targeting their commercial satellites in return for their involvement in the Russian war against Ukraine. He may have been referring to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, used by Ukrainian soldiers for communications, and synthetic aperture radar satellites tracking Russian troop and tank movements. The official made the same threat last month but may not have followed through because taking this action is difficult. In addition, Russians threaten to blow up a hydroelectric power plant in the Kherson region.

Russia also calls for the “de-Satanization” of Ukraine, a lie one step lower than their earlier goal of “de-Nazification” and reminiscent of the QAnon conspiracy theories in the U.S. Russian soldiers’ strategy to defeat Ukrainian civilians is to capture, torture, and then kill them in organized brutality throughout Russian occupied territory.

Ukraine is advancing on occupying Russian forces in Kherson despite heavy fighting. A Russian military blogger wrote, “I don’t exclude the surrender of Kherson [by the Russians].”

A recent discussion about nuclear-laced “dirty bombs” has been exacerbated by Russia’s letter to the UN with the evidence-free accusation that Ukraine plans to use them. While he spreads these lies, his military had an exercise of tests capable carrying nuclear warheads involving land, sea, and air. Videos of launches were published along with the defense minister’s claim that the tests were successful.

Earlier this week, Ukraine pushed back Wagner Group mercenaries operated by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Bakhmut, Donetsk, and seized a key highway in Luhansk. Prigozhin admitted slow progress amid “fierce enemy resistance.” Sergei Surovikin (aka General Armageddon), Russia’s new commander of the invasion in Ukraine known for his brutality, used the word “tense” in trying to retake southern and eastern Ukrainian regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin had claimed to annex through his coercive faux referenda. Russian troops are in danger of being pinned against the western bank of the 1,367-long Dnipro River bisecting Ukraine from north to south.

About trying to keep Kherson, Surovikin said, “The situation in this area is difficult.” He blames Ukraine for shelling infrastructure and residential buildings which Ukraine said was done by Russian military. Russians struggle to obtain supplies from the east because Ukrainians bombed the main bridge across the Dnipro and decided to ferry materials and equipment from the west bank of the Dnipro River to the eastern bank toward Russia. 

Syrian war crimes investigators may join crime victims in Ukraine to put Russian President Vladimir Putin into prison because he has used the same people, weapons, and tactics in both countries’ atrocities. In the command hierarchy, Putin is responsible for the crimes and its prosecution. Russia never agreed to be called up in the International Criminal Court, but Ukrainan courts or those in third countries could prosecute him. The U.S. could also declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism or support calls from Baltic states for an international tribunal to hold Putin and Russia accountable for the separate international crime of aggression used to prosecute Nazi criminals at Nuremburg. Putin’s international crimes have no statute of limitations.

A new shadow government in Belarus is planning to form a coalition with Ukraine to reduce Russia’s expansion after concerns that Russia will also invade Belarus. Taking Belarus allows Putin to move onto attacking Western Europe. Russia is sending about 9,000 troops and hundreds of armored vehicles for possible deployment.

In his latest escalation to the invasion, Putin has declared martial law in the four Ukrainian areas he annexed although he doesn’t occupy all the territory. He also ordered an “economic mobilization” in eight regions adjoining Ukraine, including Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. In Russia, he gave additional powers to leaders of its 80+ regions to protect critical facilities, maintain public order and increase production in support of the war effort.

U.S. F-16 warplanes intercepted two Russian bombers within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. It is a perimeter where air traffic is monitored beyond the border of national airspace to provide additional reaction time in case of hostile actions. A Russian jet also crashed into an apartment in Yeysk, a port town about 25 miles from Ukraine, while it was on a training mission. The death toll is at least 14, including three children.  

October 23, 2022

News – Week Ending October 23, 2022

Update on possibility of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) testifying live to House January 6 investigate committee: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this won’t happen; DDT won’t be allowed to turn his testimony into a “circus” or a “food fight.” About House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement he may take military aid from Ukraine, Cheney accused him of becoming “the leader of the pro-Putin wing of my party” and added that McCarthy “always chooses to serve his own political purpose.” After McCarthy’s mentor DDT put the U.S. a further $8 trillion into debt, McCarthy said he must “eliminate wasteful spending.”

By now, the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister after 44 days, the shortest term for any British PM, is old news. The head of lettuce won, lasting longer than she did when the contest began a week earlier. The event ended in a fanfare of colored lights and messages of congratulations for the crowned lettuce as Truss’ photo was laid down to the sound of “God Save the King.” Celebratory alcohol was provided by the lettuce joined by fruit and vegetable friends. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for 11 days, 33 days fewer than Truss, praised her after she “outlasted the milk in the refrigerator.”  

Truss’ resignation leaves her with the possibility of $129,000 for any business expenses and another almost $100,000 pension, available to any PM lasting over 42 days, and depending on how well the British pound does after her departure. She can add that to her net worth of almost $10 million. Traumatized by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ 44 days in office, the British public now must cope with who will assume leadership.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin described Truss’ failure in six weeks and concluded:

“If you like what Brexit and Truss have done for the British economy, vote Republican. If you prefer prosperity, then don’t.

Her warning is reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s question in 2000 before George W. Bush lowered taxes and started two wars:

“What are you afraid of? Four more years of prosperity?”

Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss, has again thrown his hat into the ring despite tax scandals for both himself and his wife, Akshata Murty. Together they are worth £730 million, over twice the assets of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Runak and Murty keep their money, he with a U.S. green card until last year promising to become a citizen and paying less taxes and she with her non dom classification, permitting her to pay an annual maximum of £30,000 a year instead of taxes on foreign income. She has saved millions of pounds on taxes for her dividends in her father’s firm, India-based Infosys, which did business with Russia after British sanctions because of the invasion of Ukraine.  

Upsetting senior Tories, former PM Boris Johnson flew back to Britain to drum up support for another win. Without sufficient support, Johnson changed his mind and said that he couldn’t govern with a unified party. In a BBC poll of 357 conservative MPs, only 227 were willing to go public with their support, Johnson came out far below Sunak. The runner-up ran against Truss last time.

  • Rishi Sunak – 146 MPs
  • Boris Johnson – 57 MPs
  • Penny Mordaunt – 24 MPs

Only Mordaunt and Sunak have announced they are running. A candidate requires at least 100 votes from MPs. If over two receive 100 or more votes, the one with the fewest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Conservative MPs then vote their preference between the two, and the candidates are then sent to the conservative party members who vote online. Last time, Truss was selected with 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) in a country with a population of over 67 million.

Fed up with gun violence in Canada, much less than in the U.S., Canada is banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of all handguns within the country and cannot bring them from outside the country. The bill was introduced after 19 children were killed in Uvalde (TX) on May 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship.”

A government buyback for assault-style rifles is planned, and further restrictions in Bill C-21 are being debated in the House of Commons.

Those who worry about President Joe Biden running again in 2024 at the age of 81 should consider that the GOP may elect a 90-year-old man to be third in succession for the president in 2022. He could hold that position for the next six years. Chuck Grassley could become President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, the position held by the most senior senator in the majority party. The current pro tem, 82-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is not seeking re-election. Resurgence against Grassley

Alaskan Republicans tried to do away with ranked choice voting in the state after Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for U.S. House. The state Supreme Court rejected their constitutional challenge.

A Miami judge dismissed one rigged arrest by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of a man convicted in 1991 who voted in 2020 after a clerk told him he was eligible to register to vote. The other 18 voter prosecutions may meet the same fate. Videos of the arrests show police officers not understanding the offense. A state constitutional amendment restores voting rights to most people with felonies, but Republicans said that they were ineligible until they paid all fines and fees.

Texas state police Capt. Joel Betancourt is under investigation because he ordered his officers to stay out of the school over 70 minutes while 19 children were massacred on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde (TX). State trooper Sgt. Juan Maldonado, the highest ranking officer at the scene at the Uvalde (TX) massacre of 19 children, was fired because he didn’t go into the building although arriving four minutes after the shooting began. He is the third law enforcement and first state police officer to be sacked for lack of response.

The postal service plans to implement “extraordinary measures” delivering ballots for 2022, compared to those measures opposing them two years. These new measures include extra deliveries and collections, special pickups, expanded hours at processing facilities, and fast-tracking ballots to election officials through and bypassing some standard mail processing procedures. Employees are also being trained to speed ballot deliveries. A joint task force between postal unions and management oversees ballot delivery. In a lawsuit settlement last year, the agency agreed to keep these measures for federal elections until at least 2028.

GOP Georgians have challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year regarding voting eligibility, but they can no longer do this with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their votes. About 97 percent of the challenges have been dismissed.  

A North Carolina judge has denied a GOP request to temporarily use signature-matching requirements for mail-in ballots; election officials must could these ballots even if the signature doesn’t exactly match the one on the voter registration record. County election boards will have the discretion to make the determination.

Federal officials will recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid and stop deporting those pardoned for crimes by a state board. The decision reverses a hard-line stance from DDT’s administration that changed six decades of practice by singling out Connecticut. DDT didn’t reverse the same practice in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah.

Same-gender spouses can qualify for a higher rate of survivor benefits requiring eight years of marriage even if they didn’t meet the mandate because of being unable to be married before the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, according to the VA. The agency now begins the duration of the rights beginning with when the couple established a “marriage-type” relationships including commitment ceremonies, joint banking accounts, or joint purchase of a home. Benefits are now retroactive to October 11, 2022.  

Last week, that Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy Twitter that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers. https://www.reuters.com/technology/twitters-workforce-likely-be-hit-with-massive-cuts-coming-months-report-2022-10-20/      Twitter said it isn’t true, but the current management planned to trim the payroll by $800 million, one-fourth of the workforce.

The EPA plans to investigate allegations of racist federal spending in Mississippi causing the Jackson city’s water system disaster. The state is suffering from another scandal, this one when former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money intended for low-income families. GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has joked about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson, 82 percent Black, while the water crisis in Jackson was dire. Leaders of two congressional committees are also starting a joint investigation into the crisis leaving most homes and businesses in Jackson without running water for several days in late August and early September.  NAACP President Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson with his family,

 Michigan opponents to an anti-abortion ballot proposal, Proposal 3, have found a new way to force child-birth on women by keeping a 1931 law: they falsely claim the measure to retain “reproductive rights” permits transgender minors can get sterilized by repealing parental consent laws.

October 21, 2022

Corporate Profits Lead to Inflation

With the election only 17 days away, Republicans—especially the “party of Trump (POT)—concentrate on three campaign subjects: crimes, taxes, and inflation. Their lies:

Lie #1: Crime is rising because Democrats are “soft on crime.”

  • Facts: Violent crime rose from 2019 to 2020, the last year of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), at the same time gun homicides went up 35 percent.
  • The highest percentage of the gun crime surge came in states following GOP policies, weakening gun laws to make them highly available and protecting their huge donors, gun manufacturers. 
  • Democratic-run major cities that spent 38 percent more on policing per person than Republican-run cities, and 80 percent of the largest cities increased police funding from 2019 to 2022.
  • Re-arrest rates remained stables wherever bail reforms were implemented, and major cities’ data shows no connection between progressive prosecutors and changes in crime rates.
  • In a gubernatorial debate, Oklahoma’s GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt attempted to laugh off his state’s crime statistics: Oklahoma’s homicide rate of 9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 6.1 in California and 4.7 in New York. His opponent is seven points ahead.

Lie #2: Democrats are hiring 87,000 IRS agents to audit and harass the middle class.

  • Facts: The new law, that Republicans plan to immediately repeal, are looking for ultra-wealthy tax cheats with the advantage of multiple accounts and lawyers hiding their taxable incomes.
  • Audit rates for people making under $400,000 will stay the same.
  • Funding only starts to take IRS staffing back to before 2010, when Republicans reduced the staff by about 30 percent despite an increase of the population filing tax returns.

Lie #3: Policies of Democrats and President Joe Biden, including the spending and wage increases, are responsible for the high rate of inflation for the past year.

  • While in charge, DDT and the GOP dropped taxes and spent so “bigly” that the national debt increased $7.8 billion during DDT’s term.
  • Biden’s first complete fiscal year cut the U.S. deficit in half, $1,375 trillion, the biggest decrease in history.  
  • Facts: Government heavy spending began a year before Biden was inaugurated to alleviate the ravages of COVID.
  • Wages increased at a lower pace than prices.
  • DDT’s and the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business are adding at least $400 billion to the deficit every year. 

The Hill, a conservative publication, gives some reasons for the growing inflation that dropped to an annual rate of 8.2 percent in September:

  • A strong labor market with better work for higher pay.
  • Slow healing of supply chains from lack of production during the pandemic and increased gas prices.
  • Costs for both supplies and labor thanks to a mix of shortages and higher consumer demand. 
  • Delayed impact of rate hikes showing inflation reductions.

The reason accounting for at least half the increases in price increase, however, is greater profit margins for businesses through overcharging.  

Excerpts from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), in her questioning of Mike Konczal, director of Macroeconomic Analysis at the Roosevelt Institute, who admitted that surging corporate profits are the current primary cause of inflation:

Porter: Biggest driver of inflation? Konczal: Corporate profits.

Porter: The percentage? Konczal: “54 percent and that number does stay that level of high if you update that number to more recent numbers as well.”

Porter: “Over half of the increased prices people are paying are coming from increases in corporate profits?” Konczal: Yes and “the unit price index is reflected in corporate profits as opposed to other costs.”

Porter: “How does that compare to, historically, other periods of inflation or over other periods of economic time?” Konczal: “Significantly higher in this recovery—11.5 percent.”

Porter: “What is it today?” Konczal: “53 percent.”

Porter: “What is a ‘unit labor cost’?” Konczal: “Cost in wages and associated work.”

Porter: “But we can just say wages. What is a ‘non-labor input cost’?’ Konczal: “A variety of things, including maintenance and investments.”

Porter summarized, and Konczal agreed: “Okay, so I have to buy the stuff to make the widget. I have to have a factory. I have to keep the lights on. I have to hire someone to make the widget. That’s this stuff. And this is what I add on, on top?” She pointed to the 53 percent.

Lack of competition allows big businesses to have high profits not seen in over a half century. Two-thirds of all U.S. industries have become more concentrated since the 1980s. Companies are 50 percent more concentrated than in 2005. Four companies control 85 percent of meat and poultry processing, one corporation sets the price for most of the U.S. seed corn, and two firms dominate consumer staples. Big pharma, radically increasing prices, comprises five companies. Airline carriers dropped from 12 in 1980 to four, and Wall Street has five banks, profiting on the spread between the interest paid on deposits and charges for loans. Three cable companies dominate broadband.

Huge corporations continue to buy back their shares instead of investing in the supply chain. U.S. corporate profits rose to $2 trillion in 2022’s second quarter in the widest profit margins since the 1950s. When people buy less, big business charges more. The pretax corporate profits surged 6.1 percent for this quarter from the first quarter in 2022—and corporations have no plans to bring down prices. Only regulation can slow down these profits, and Republicans will never agree because of the huge amounts they receive from these businesses.

Profits keep skyrocketing because there is no monthly measurement of them as there are for consumer prices and wages.

The remainder of price increase comes from issues such as the global economy, the Russian war in Ukraine, diseases such as bird flu, pass-through costs from a tight economy, and the OPEC+ control through Saudi Arabia on gas prices—all things that a president doesn’t control. Big business has sold U.S. refineries to Saudi Arabia, allowing them to restrict gas which raises prices. To lower the cost of gas, a considerable percentage of inflation, Biden is dropping prices by releasing gas reserves, angering Republicans. ProPublica’s new exposé on how rental companies, many of them owned by Wall Street investors, are gouging renters to the max by using an algorithm explains the rental increases, causing a large percentage of inflation.

Food prices are particularly susceptible to Russia’s war. Three major attacks were reducing food exports such as wheat from Ukraine, surging fertilizer prices from limited exports, and increased fuel prices because of Russia’s restricted exports and the Middle East cuts in oil production out of support for the invaders. In addition, poultry and egg prices skyrocketed after the onslaught of the avian flu.  

Increasing fuel prices and the shortage of truck drivers raised the costs of transporting livestock and other products. Reliability issues come from ongoing threats of a rail strike. Barges, which transport 13 percent of U.S. grain, struggle to travel the dangerously low Mississippi River. 

Severe weather, sure to worsen in upcoming years from climate change, will “disrupt availability, reduce agricultural productivity and interrupt food delivery,” according to a report in the Hill by Shirin Ali. Hurricane Ian will have serious impacts on Florida’s citrus belt from flooding in at least 75 percent of the state’s citrus belt. California citrus production will drop 13 percent to the lowest level in 55 years from poor fruit set, caused by the state’s severe drought. In both the U.S. and Mexico, droughts have vastly reduced the availability to fruits and vegetables, and droughts in South America cause spiking coffee prices. Other U.S. disasters have hit wheat fields in the Plains area, cotton harvests in Texas, and tomato products in California. Climate disasters have cost North America $415 billion with a five to 15 percent decrease in crop production for each degree Celsius.

The U.S. is not unique in its inflation problem and is even better off than some other countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The GOP’s plan to defeat inflation is to blame Democrats. Rep. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), five-term incumbent and ranking member on the Financial Services Committee’s panel on monetary policy, was asked for the Republican plan “to deal with inflation other than not supporting Joe Biden policies.” He responded:

“Well, we have a positive agenda. We have a commitment to America, and we’re going to get back to basics.”

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said, “Stop spending federal money and then start investing in American innovation and energy.” So spend less and spend more. Leader of the National Senatorial Committee, Rick Scott (R-FL) called inflation “a gold mine for us”—delighted that economic conditions cause suffering.

The GOP’s advantage with voters is the Inflation Reduction Act that they all opposed. Red states largely benefit from its provisions unless they are able to overturn it. GOP-led states, some of the biggest wind and solar producers in the U.S., benefited in the past decades through their job growth and lower ratepayer prices. In Oklahoma, over 40 percent of the state’s electricity comes from wind generation and, 1.3 percent of the workforce is employed in clean energy. GOP Gov. Stitt wants to do away with tax credits advantaging Oklahomans. Texas residents save millions of dollars through renewable energy.

Paul Krugman believes the partisan divide over the environment is emotional rather than rational—as is all the “culture war.” He wrote that, to Republicans, “neither policy details nor rational argument matters.”

October 9, 2022

News – October 9, 2022 (Some Hopeful)

Twenty miles from Fort Myers (FL) where multitudes of homes were destroyed, a 4,600-resident model community at Babcock Ranch, a 100-percent solar-powered built-to-code storm-resilient town, suffered only ripped pool coverage, broken fence posts, downed trees, and a few missing shingles. It didn’t even lose power. Structures are on land 25 feet higher on average than surrounding communities, and buildings are specified for Category 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off from the water system and wastewater plant deep into an underground aquifer. The 700,000 solar panels owned by Florida Power & Light covering 900 acres suffered little damage. Population of the town is expected to grow to 50,000 with six million square feet of commercial space. Houses can be expensive, but some of them start about $300,000. Sadly, Florida will probably rebuild on the beaches with no regulations, and people will again be destroyed in another hurricane.

President Joe Biden’s administration has reunited 500 children separated by the zero tolerance border policy instated by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The number is almost half the goal of over 1,100 separated children returned to their parents. About 200 families are being processed, and another 150 contacted by the government haven’t responded. Reunited families may temporarily stay in the U.S., and parents separated from their children have work permits for three years. The program also provides mental health service through non-profits. Some children have not seen their parents for four years. The cases meet the definition of torture, according to a study, because “U.S. officials intentionally carried out actions causing severe pain and suffering in order to punish and intimidate mainly Central American asylum seekers to not pursue their asylum claims.”

Headlines have lambasted President Joe Biden’s job losses the past month from 315,000 to 263,000 jobs, “the slowest month of hiring in 18 months” (Fox), after his administration created 10 million jobs in the past 20 months. Yet increasing employment edged down to unemployment of 3.5 percent, and real economists are delighted with the overall picture, predicting no recession.

Compare Biden’s record to that of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who promised 25 million new jobs in a decade but ended up with 3.1 fewer million jobs when he left office than when he came into office. People might blame the COVID problems, but he increased jobs by only 6.6 million in his first three years and then badly mismanaged COVID in his last year. DDT left office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in 1932. President Bill Clinton created 22.745 million jobs during his two terms followed by George W. Bush with 0.523 million new jobs in two terms.

In the 18 months since Biden’s rescue act, over 8 million people jobless in March 2021 now have jobs. Last year’s economy had its fastest growth since 1984, ending 2021 with a three-percent higher GDP than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, a hot economy also kicked off a higher inflation rate exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, higher prices for huge big business profits, and now the OPEC’s cut in oil production. People had money, and their purchases drove up prices. The Federal Reserve started to drive down prices by raising interest rates which angered people who want both low prices and low interest rates.

In one way to lower costs for people, Biden is tackling “junk fees,” the hidden costs from overdrafts on a bank account to terminating cellphone contracts early, usually impacting low-income people the most. The project goes through agencies controlling areas in which these fees predominate—banks, credit unions, debt collection, transportation, etc. For example, payments for credit card late fees fun $12 billion. Eliminating some of these fees may help problems with inflation. Some banks such as Capital One and Citibank have already done away with non-sufficient funds and overdraft fees. Wells Fargo dropped NSF fees but kept the overdraw ones after making $1 billion from January through September 2021.

Two states have delayed anti-abortion laws until litigation moves through the courts. One of the blocked laws is the 1864 anti-abortion legislation passed in Arizona passed during the Civil War, 48 years before Arizona became a state. In Ohio, a county judge blocked the state’s “heartbeat law,” eliminating any abortions after the law pretends an ultrasound noise at six weeks is an embryo’s heartbeat.

A dozen hypocritical Florida members of Congress joined both Florida senators and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to beg Republican Kay Granger (TX) for aid after Hurricane Ian despite their “no” votes on providing the assistance. At least one of them still stands by his “no” vote and praised his colleagues in the Florida delegation for the same action. Their objection is that other states could receive disaster assistance.

Republicans have continued their fury with the Democratic opposition to “trickle-down” economics, the theory that cutting taxes for the wealthy would allow them to hire more workers, a philosophy that failed for much of the 20th century and most recently failed in the 2017 GOP tax cuts for big business and the rich that financially benefited only these categories. Unfortunately, the good news of over 10 million jobs created since Biden’s inauguration and the increased buying power from congressional economic stimulus bills led to inflation and lower stock markets because business wasn’t prepared to provide goods and it raised prices for greater business profit.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have committed fraud by using federal COVID-19 relief funds for transporting migrants out of the state to northeastern U.S. as part of his anti-immigrant Operation Lone Star. In the 2021 regular session, Abbott persuaded the GOP legislature to approve $1.1 billion for border guards and their supplies but wanted more money. He called a special session to get for another $1.9 billion for another 1,800 guards/troopers and a border wall, Operation Steel Curtain. When Abbott reallocated funds from a number of agencies, he said nothing about using COVID funds and told them that “the agencies’ earlier appropriations have been fully funded with other sources.”

GOP legislators loudly shouted the word “socialism” for the new infrastructure law while grabbing the money and behind the scenes begging for funding before telling their constituents how they, who voted against the laws, are benefiting them. In one of dozens of requests, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) attacked what he called “President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list” and wrote Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about his support for the multimillion dollar grant to improve part of Highway 65 in his district. Emmer called it “a social justice measure.” Perhaps the most hypocritical and crazy congressional member, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) bitterly complained about the bill serving “the America Last’s socialist agenda” before writing three separate letters imploring for funding that would enhance quality of life with the projects he wants. Other congressional members—Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Reps. Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez (R-FL) Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA), Rep. Marwayne Mullin (R-OK)—took the same approaches to smear the bill and pleading for money.

Republicans almost always take the opposite position of President Joe Biden in anything he does, but in the case of the president’s pardons for federal convictions of cannabis possession, they’ve gone off the radar. From the RNC and the congressional and senate committees, only silence. From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), nothing. Just a couple of weak tweets about “soft on crime” from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), wannabe presidential candidate, and Fox network’s Laura Ingraham.

Last week for Tesla was the worst week since March 2020 when COVID was announced. Electric vehicle production and delivery numbers didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, over 21,000 short despite two new factories in Brandenburg (Germany) and Austin (TX). That was before Elon Musk posted his controversial solution to the Russian invasion that Ukraine should give them part of the Country that Russian president Vladimir Putin wants. Musk also said he was continuing his deal to buy Twitter but would charge cryptocurrency for posts.

Then Musk took China’s side against Taiwan for “peace reunification” in which China controls Taiwan—sort of like Musk recommended for Russia’s control of Taiwan. The response was the same as from Ukraine: Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim answered, “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.” Tesla has a large factory in China.

And an oldie but goodie from August. In McAllen (TX), an anti-LGBTQ church put on an unauthorized performance of the popular musical Hamilton that changed language to make it homophobic with its version of Christianity. One of the pastors lied about how “the Hamilton team” gave the church “the license to perform” their version, but Hamilton’s creators called them out on the falsehood. The pastor then admitted the church didn’t request or receive this permission and promised to destroy all images of the production, never stage it again, and pay damages. The pastor had depicted Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, as accepting Jesus Christ as his savior, and gave a sermon comparing homosexuality to drug use. Hamilton’s letters indicated his romantic feelings for his closest male friend, and the play’s creator Lin Miranda helped launch an initiative to support Florida’s Hispanic LGBTQ community. The money for damages goes to the South Texas Equality Project, a coalition of LGBTQIA+ organizations.

September 3, 2022

GOP Uses Biden’s Speech as a Shiny Object to Deflect Attention

[Correction in paragraph 3: “military has no allegiance …”]

MAGA and other conservative supporters of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) came out with amazing vitriol and petty bitterness against President Joe Biden’s call for democracy in the United States in his speech on September 1. One complaint was the visual of two Marines standing behind Biden in front of Independence Hall, where the Constitution was signed, produced massive qualities of GOP bile.

It was not a “break with White House traditions,” as Republicans claim: several previous presidents used the presence of troops as a backdrop during notable speeches. And DDT dragged out his Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to walk with him across Lafayette Square when he drove out legally peaceful protesters for a photo-op in front of a church. At one time, Republicans would not have seen the presence of two Marines and the playing of the Marine band as a menace. No more.

The White House stated the Marines showed “respect” for service members. A line from his speech is that democracy must be defended and protected. Top military officials were vital in stopping DDT’s insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2022 as well as maneuvering a peaceful transfer of power while DDT tried to incite violence with lies about election fraud. DDT wanted his control of the military to destabilize democracy, protecting MAGA protesters, and Biden pointed out that the military has no allegiance to a political party of the commander in chief.

Mark Thiessen, arguably the most conservative Washington Post, claimed that prime-time presidential speeches should focus only on explanations of a military action, a national tragedy, or a major policy initiative. He did try to cover DDT’s prime-time acceptance speech at the GOP from the White House at the GOP convention by calling it “controversial but stuck to his “rule” about presidential speeches.

Some MAGAs went far more overboard by claiming Biden’s red backlighting proves his being part of a satanic cabal of elites who are trafficking children around the world. Former DDT lawyer Jenna Ellis boosted images of Biden with #PedoHitler. Fox’s Tucker Carlson described the visuals as “a blood-red Nazi background,” and another network host and former DDT administration official, Monica Crowley, described the imagery as “almost satanic with the blood red lighting.” Red and blue lights, the colors of the U.S. flag, lighted Independence Hall.

The title of Dana Milbank’s column, “Dear Insurrectionists and Fascists: I’m Sorry I Offended You,” aptly describes the reaction from the “strongmen [who] were so fragile.” Milbank wrote:

“The insurrectionists of Jan. 6 busted into the Capitol, hit police with fire extinguishers, flagpoles, bats, stun guns and pepper spray; they threatened to kill the vice president and tried to overthrow the 2020 election. And now, they want an apology.

“MAGA Republican leaders have fomented violence, attacked the rule of law and deceived tens of millions of people into rejecting the outcome of free and fair elections. And now, they, too, want an apology.”

Milbank continues with sarcastic apologies for the insurrectionists causing themselves pain in their attacks of striking police officers with flagpoles on January 6 and “gouging their eyes.” To others, Milbank wrote he was “sorry you don’t like it when the Justice Department enforces the law and protects national security” and “regret[s] that you’ve taken away women’s rights…, banning books, and censoring history lessons [while] shunning science, expertise, and the truth.”

On the same day that Biden spoke from the Philadelphia location where Founding Fathers signed the U.S. Constitution, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) promised to provide “full pardons with an apology for many” to those convicted for the assault on U.S. democracy on January 6. He also bragged about meeting with insurrectionists and “financially supporting” some of those to defend them from “sick” prosecutors and “nasty” judges. DDT’s latest excuse for the search warrant last month was that the FBI was “looking for Hillary Clinton emails.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)’s pre-rebuttal to Biden’s speech attacked Democrats for destroying democracy and demanded an apology for those in the U.S. he slandered as “fascists.” (Biden never used that term in this speech.) McCarthy was one of 139 House Republicans trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election—and democracy—on January 6. RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, who accused Biden of “disgust and hostility towards half the country,” said the RNC position of supporting fake electors sending false electoral certification to Congress is “legitimate political discourse.”

Anyone who watched the speech would note the difference between Biden and DDT in protesters’ interruptions. When a crowd shouted expletives about Biden and set off sirens, Biden pointed out that democracy permitted they were entitled “to be outrageous.” In contrast, DDT told his security staff to beat up anyone interrupting his speech and throw them out of the venue. Journalist Aaron Rupar used them to prove Biden’s premise about “unhinged and dangerous MAGAs.”

Satirist Alexandra Petri continued Milbank’s sarcasm in her column, “The Non-polarizing Speech President Biden Should Have Given,” directed at MAGA folk furious because they want Biden to “unify” the nation. Snippets:

“My fellow Americans. I am the president of the United States … maybe!…

“To those of you who say that violence is never the answer, and to those of you who say that violence is the answer right now, I say, Yup!

“This is a nation, after all, that honors the Constitution. Or doesn’t, if it doesn’t feel like it! Who am I to say who’s wrong and who is right? Maybe the president, but maybe just some guy!…

“I was told that [if I told people to accept the election it] would alienate a lot of people, so, instead, I want to take that time to just stare intensely out at the audience for a solid minute…

“We have had a democracy for a while, which I personally would like to keep, but some people seem to want us to try something new, and that could be … fine! Maybe 235 years is a good stopping point.”

Journalist John Harwood delivered his last commentary on DDT before he resigned from his position at CNN:

“The core point Biden made in that political speech about a threat to democracy is true. Now, that’s something that’s not easy for us, as journalists, to say. We’re brought up to believe there’s two different political parties with different points of view and we don’t take sides in honest disagreements between them. But that’s not what we’re talking about. These are not honest disagreements. The Republican Party right now is led by a dishonest demagogue. Many, many Republicans are rallying behind his lies about the 2020 election and other things as well. And a significant portion—or a sufficient portion—of the constituency that they’re leading attacked the Capitol on January 6th. Violently. By offering pardons or suggesting pardons for those people who violently attacked the Capitol, which you’ve been pointing out numerous times this morning, Donald Trump made Joe Biden’s point for him.”

Although Harwood technically resigned, Dan Froomkin reported in Press Watch that he had been told last month the day of the commentary was his last day in the midst of Harwood’s multi-year contract. Last month, CNN fired CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter and canceled his show, Reliable Sources. News sources are predicting more purging at the network after orders from DDT-supporter John Malone, a member of the board owning CNN, who wants to make the network support Republicans.

Using his theme for his speech, an existential battle for the “soul of nation,” from an op-ed he wrote for the Atlantic six years ago, Biden continued his condemnation of the philosophy expressed by DDT and his followers, first expressed after the GOP support of white supremacist rioters in Charlottesville (VA). Throughout the speech, Biden clearly stated he was not addressing Republicans as a whole but the violent extremists determined “to take this country backwards … to an America where there is no right to choose no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

Republicans are trying to deflect attention from all their recent problems regarding the insurrection, DDT’s theft of official documents, and Biden’s recent successes. The GOP have not only lost two high-profile special elections in the past few weeks but also has watched Biden’s approval ratings go up at the same time, jumping six points to 44 percent after his legislative wins. This rating is higher than several other elected presidents at the same point in their terms in the last half century: DDT, 41 percent; Barack Obama, 43 percent; Bill Clinton, 39 percent; Jimmy Carter, 43 percent; and Ronald Reagan, 41 percent. Wars raised approval for George W. Bush (65 percent) and George H.W. Bush (74 percent).

The GOP is getting desperate about taking back Congress in November and will likely continue to follow the advice from their megadonor Steve Wynn: lie about Democratic tax policies. Republicans don’t stop with taxes; they lie about everything.

Two days after Biden’s speech, DDT followed him to Pennsylvania when he ranted against the FBI, again claimed the 2020 election was stolen, pushed his Truth Social platform, praised leaders of Russia and China, and polished off the evening with a rousing chorus of “lock her up” about Clinton. Just lie.

August 31, 2022

No Primaries – August 30, 2022, But DDT News Worse

No primaries this week, but Alaska declared Democrat Mary Peltola the winner of a special election for its one U.S. representative. A Yup’ik, Peltola is the first Alaska Native to win a seat in Congress, the first woman to represent Alaska in the U.S. House, and the first person to win Alaska’s new ranked-choice election process. Defeating GOP candidate Sarah Palin, endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Peltola won by three percent after receiving second-choice votes from the primary’s third-runner, Nick Begich, and will serve for four months. She is also competing against Begich and Palin in November 2022 for a two-year term beginning in January 2023. Peltola replaces GOP Don Young, who served for 49 years before he died in March 2022. Only the third representative since Alaska became a state in 1959, Young replaced Democrat Nicholas Begich, the current candidate’s grandfather, after he disappeared on a campaign flight from Anchorage to Juneau in late 1972.

The major news today, however, was information about the DOJ response to DDT’s motion for an independent “special master” to review all documents taken from Mar-a-Lago in an August search warrant. Just before the midnight deadline on August 30, the DOJ submitted its 36-page response with more news about DDT illegally hiding documents from the federal government.

The DOJ filing rebuts DDT’s claims about investigators’ private interactions with DDT and his lawyers. Although DDT’s counsel and other representatives claimed a “diligent search” in June, the FBI’s August search recovered twice as many classified documents in a few hours. The statement, signed by DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb, may be a legal problem for her because the statement, verifying the “diligent search” for “any and all” remaining and relevant documents, was delivered “on behalf of the Office of Donald J. Trump.” That indicates it was authorized by DDT himself.

DOJ’s filing also asserts that DDT’s attorneys moved so slowly that appointing a special master would be pointless. Investigators have already reviewed all the seized material except items set aside by the filter team. If the judge goes ahead to appoint the third party, DOJ recommends the person review seized records only for potential attorney-client privileged information and be required to have a top-level security clearance sufficient to reviewing classified documents. According to DOJ prosecutors, “even the FBI counterintelligence personnel and DOJ attorneys conducting the review required additional clearances before they were permitted to review certain documents.” According to the DOJ, DDT’s motion is only to disrupt the investigation; if one is assigned, the response asks that the work be completed by September 30.

The DOJ may be adding to DDT’s criminal charges. The affidavit stated:

“There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contained classified NDI [national defense information] or that are Presidential records subject to record retention requirements currently remain at [Trump’s residence].”

To justify its demand, DDT’s response added executive privilege but cited no cases in which former presidents have successfully prohibited sharing documents and made no such claim of priviege before the search. On Truth Social, DDT again claimed he had declassified the documents, but there is no proof he did so, and the law also covers unclassified documents.

DDT’s response to the DOJ states that the special master should decide questions of executive privilege as well as attorney-client privilege. Executive privilege doesn’t exist among one branch of government; the DOJ is part of the executive branch. Previously, the DOJ said that its team examining the seized materials “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, [and] completed its review of those materials.”

In their response, DDT’s lawyers assured that there was “no cause for alarm” about finding top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago that dealt with national security. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is conducting a review of recovered materials regarding the potential risk from disclosure of the materials. DDT lawyers also accused prosecutors wh would “impugn, leak and publicize” details of its investigation without a special master. 

The judge has scheduled a hearing on September 1 at 1:00 pm EST to determine whether to appoint a special master.

One of DDT’s lawyers, Alina Habba, complained that the DOJ investigation into DDT’s mishandling classified documents is for “mundane” offences like “espionage,” mundane meaning “commonplace.” In 105 years, only 55 people have been convicted of espionage. Habba also submitted court filings asserting she performed a “comprehensive search” of Mar-a-Lago for a separate case in New York. She’s either lying, breaking the law, or a witness. Either way, she should be ineligible to represent DDT.  

A photo of classified documents scattered on the floor among DDT’s memorabilia has gone viral with a debate about its accuracy. Phillip Bump wrote that the carpet background is typical of Mar-a-Lago, and a post from DDT indicated that was the location. A photo scale (bottom of page) and a small marker, 2A (center right), indicates it is for documentation of materials found in a “leatherbound box of documents” (not shown) with a property receipt of contents. Classified Documents 1 and 2 are dated August 16, 2018, and Document 3 is dated May, 9, 2018, one day after DDT announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. None of the documents is marked “Declassified.”

The FBI has also newly unsealed a letter from May 25 from DDT’s attorney Evan Corcoran suggesting that the team plans to use the argument that DDT is above the law, trying to persuade the court that a law against keeping U.S. classified information at home doesn’t apply to DDT. According to legal experts, a president out of office is no longer president and becomes subject to laws applying to everyone else. The “good faith” argument that documents were mistakenly taken can be negated by DDT’s refusal to return them earlier and that there may still be more classified information at Mar-a-Lago.

DDT’s desperate attempts to add members to his legal team has been the joke of the media, but he finally found one—former Florida solicitor general Chris Kise. Unfortunately, he’ll have to pay Kise: the RNC has been floating funds for his legal problems but won’t pay for the problem with hiding the documents at Mar-a-Lago. At least he’s stashed most of the tens of millions of dollars donated to sue for the “stolen election” because he never followed through with the plan. Kise, formerly adviser to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ transition team, might want to get paid up front; DDT is known for not paying his bills.

A timeline for those who thus far escaped the ongoing saga of DDT and the stolen classified documents.

Soon after the Mar-a-Lago search, the “what abouts” started with the Clinton “lock her up” trope. The differences:

Federal officials searching Clinton’s emails found 193 with classified information when they were sent. Officials have found over 322 documents with classified information, many of them top secret and some of them in a desk drawer at Mar-a-Lago. Investigators found “a conscious effort to avoid sending classified information, by writing around the most sensitive material.”

Contrary to DDT’s former CIA director Mike Pompeo’s comment, federal investigators obtained Clinton’s materials at her home. The FBI took over 30 devices from Clinton and her aide and received consent for their searches. Evidence center to DDT’s ongoing investigation were never voluntarily turned over despite government requests.

The government could find no evidence that Clinton acted “willfully,” unlike DDT’s behavior.

Clinton’s emails showed no evidence that either she or the recipient was aware that the content was classified. Documents at Mar-a-Lago were labeled with different classified levels with no indication of declassification.

Clinton’s emails, expected to be preserved in other sources and/or acquired from other devices, had been deleted from servers; DDT’s documents were originals and lying around in plain sight.

Columnist Jennifer Rubin points out that GOP candidates are caught in the middle, either defending what is becoming increasingly indefensible or risking votes by cutting loose their cult leader. They also risk ridicule from Democrats who accuse the defense hawks of having flagrant disregard for national security and irrationally strike out at government officials protecting U.S. secrets.

The current solution for Republicans is to go silent. Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened “riots in the streets” if anyone prosecute DDT. After backlash, he backed down and said he would never say such a thing. Now he says nothing. When asked about the probe into DDT, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he has “no observations.” Republicans campaigning last week with their rage about the misnamed FBI “raid,” including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have no comment today.

Retirement for DDT means he has time to retweet QAnon accounts on his Truth Social—18 different posts in 12 different accounts within 60 hours. In between, he attacked the DOJ and AG Merrick Garland as well as pushing his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s book, described as “one of the worst political memoirs in recent history.” 

Recent polls: 76 percent are following the news about removal of classified documents; 59 percent think DDT acted inappropriately in taking them; and 64 percent think the allegations are serious.

The next two Tuesdays finish the 2022 primary round with elections in Massachusetts on September 6 and Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island on September 13. Only Louisiana doesn’t hold a primary before the general election.

August 30, 2022

Biden Forgives Some Student Debt, Repubicans Whine

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

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

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

Complaints:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 27, 2022

Search Warrant Affidavit – Revelations, DDT Excuses for Having Documents

The judge who issued the order to release the search warrant release for documents taken by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) at Mar-a-Lago said that it would probably be “meaningless” to the public because of the redactions, and the quantity of blacked out content produced jokes. Even with those redactions, however, the affidavit provided a great amount of information, enough that Republicans are backing down after their temper tantrums about the search warrant. DDT-supporter Glenn Youngkin, Virginia governor, said people can’t “draw too many conclusions” after earlier saying the search were “politically motivated actions.” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) switched the topic to “border invasions,” and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) moved to the anniversary of the suicide bombing of U.S. service members at the Kabul (Afghanistan) airport, Afghanistan. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) addressed an interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Nothing about the affidavit.

Not all Republican legislators protected DDT before the affidavit was released. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), an Intelligence Committee member, wanted more information and said:

“If he had actual Special Access Programs—do you know how extraordinarily sensitive that is? That’s very, very sensitive. If that were actually at his residence, that would be a problem. But we just don’t know that. So let’s find out.”

Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said:

“When you get to compartmentalized classified spaces, it gets more serious.”

The affidavit and search warrant cited three criminal laws from Title 18 of the U.S. Code:

  • Section 793, better known as the Espionage Act, which covers the unlawful retention of defense-related information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary.
  • Section 1519 covers destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings.  
  • Section 2071 covers the unlawful removal of government records.

Some revelations from the unredacted portions of the August 5 affidavit, about half the 38 pages: 

The DOJ involvement came after the National Archives sent the agency a criminal referral on February 9, 2022, after the archives had worked to obtain the documents for over a year. The FBI and DOJ coordinated a criminal investigation that led to a subpoena in June for classified material. When that was unsatisfactory, the DOJ submitted an affidavit to a DDT-appointed magistrate judge in Florida for the search warrant.

The government is “conducting a criminal investigation concerning the improper removal and storage of classified information in unauthorized spaces, as well as the unlawful concealment or removal of government records.” The probe deals with possibly violating several statutes relating to his illegal retention and storage of official documents containing sensitive secrets.

The storage for the documents had no lock until the government demanded it have one after almost 18 months of requesting the documents be returned. Mar-a-Lago had no “secure location authorized for the storage of classified information,” according to a June 8 letter that DOJ sent to a DDT lawyer. The documents have “not been handled in an appropriate manner.” Surveillance “footage showed that, after one instance in which Justice Department officials were in contact with Mr. Trump’s team, boxes were moved in and out of the room.”

Of 15 boxes of documents redeemed after a year of requesting them, 14 contained highly secret information: “184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET.” Additional markings included “HCS, FISA, ORCON, NOFORN, and SI,” some of these referring to technology and foreign communication. “HCS,” or human intelligence sources, means information gained from spies. The 184 documents marked as classified contained National Defense information and extremely sensitive top-secret information important to national security, considered among its most valuable and protected secrets.” 

Many of the classified documents, including top secret ones, were mixed in with miscellaneous newspapers, magazines and personal correspondence.

The affidavit indicated “probably cause” of more boxes, with more highly classified documents, still at Mar-a-Lago, many not secured, “that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found at the PREMISES.” (The search on August 8 added many more documents, for a total of over 300 classified documents.)

According to law, “classified information of any designation may be shared only with persons determined by an appropriate United States Government official to be eligible for access, and who possess a ‘need to know.”

In citing 18 USC 793(e), the government asserts that DDT had no legal right to refuse the return or any document “relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation,” according to 18 USC 793(e).

Tabs and markings are removed from declassified documents; the materials found at Mar-a-Lago still had these on the documents. Declassification of some documents must also be approved by the originating agency, something not done for these documents. The affidavit listed statutes criminalizing the mere possession of these documents, whether they are or aren’t classified.

Some of the documents had DDT’s “handwritten notes”; the government is investigating when those notes were made. Other documents were torn. Statute 18 U.S.C. § 1519 criminalizes knowingly altering any government record or document, whether or not classified or relating to the national defense, if a person’s intent is to obstruct not only an investigation but also the “proper administration” of any federal department or agency.

The moving trucks at Mar-a-Lago on January 18, 2021, at least two of them, were also noted in the affidavit because a president typically moves out of his residence by military plane or at least military truck instead of unguarded moving vans—unless trying to avoid attention. The following material to this information is redacted.

Because of threats by DDT supporters against people involved in the affidavit, the names were redacted, but some information was not blacked out. The FBI agent submitting the affidavit was trained in “counterintelligence and espionage investigations” at the FBI Academy in Quantico (VA), and information had come from a “a significant number of civilian witnesses.”

DDT has provided a number of fake defenses: the classified documents belonging to the government are “mine”; he always planned to turn over the right thing to the government; he could just declassify documents by issuing a tweet; DDT took work home with him from time to time; he withheld the documents because he didn’t trust “partisan Democrat appointees” who were “releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege”; possession of government classified documents is protected by attorney-client and executive privileges; and of course, it’s all about political and “what about ‘Clinton’s emails.’” 

On Fox, Jesse Watters falsely claimed that a “liberal librarian” wanted boxes of materials and that the boxes just had things “like golf balls and Oval Office raincoats.” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said there was no need for a search warrant because DDT would return any documents; Crenshaw insisted DDT would cooperate—before the affidavit’s pointing out all DDT’s refusals.

DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb claimed that Mar-a-Lago was secure for classified materials. Yet the facility has no Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and DDT has no national security clearance. Bobb said the basement door was secure but didn’t say how many people had access to the key. As part of the federal investigation, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, plans an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents DDT took to Mar-a-Lago.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said no one vetted the guests that come and go from Mar-a-Lago. A current example of that failure is the confidence that DDT and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appear to display in Inna Yashchyshyn before they discovered she was posing as a member of the famous Rothschild banking family. Federal authorities were alerted after a legal dispute exposing her frequent trips to DDT’s Florida club. She previously worked for an adoption agency specializing in helping pregnant Russian women come to the U.S. for their infants’ citizenship.

In a security analysis of Mar-a-Lago, ProPublica quoted a cybersecurity expert who reported hackers could use Mar-a-Lago’s network to remotely turn on the microphones and cameras of devices connected to the network in “typical hotel security.” An attacker could listen to sensitive national security conversations. A Chinese citizen, a part of her name matching a club member, entered Mar-a-Lago bringing four cell phones, an external hard drive, a laptop, and a thumb drive infected with malware while DDT was visiting from the White House. Hearing about the problems, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), running for reelection said that possible felonies aren’t important. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants the Espionage Act repealed because, to him, leaking classified information isn’t a problem.

DDT reportedly oversaw which documents he wanted to take to Mar-a-Lago. Even his lawyers didn’t know what he packed. And there would be no mess if he had just voluntarily returned the documents. Questions are why DDT insisted on keeping the documents and what he intended to do with these highly secret documents.

At least no one has cried “defund the FBI” since the affidavit was released.

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