Nel's New Day

March 17, 2021

GOP Votes Oppose Help for U.S. People

Wednesday, 172 House Republicans voted in favor of domestic violence and opposed a law’s renewal to protect women. The Violence against Women Act, originally passed in 1994 and periodically requiring reauthorization, faces increasing struggles as Republicans oppose funding to protect women from domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking. Objections this year came from ensuring accountability for non-tribal offenders on tribal lands and closure of the “boyfriend loophole,” barring stalkers from obtaining firearms. The bill includes housing vouchers to help survivors in federally-assisted housing to quickly relocate if necessary. Another provision permits people to obtain unemployment insurance if they must leave a job for their safety.

With COVID-19 forcing people to stay at home, domestic violence incidents have sharply risen within the past year, and organizations have offered more flexible texting services and housing assistance. One report shows an eight-percent rise in domestic violence, and another study shows an increase of injuries at emergency room patients from this violence.

The bill requires 60 Senate votes to pass because of the watered-down filibuster. Now, one person can announce a filibuster, and no action is taken until 60 percent of senators move it forward.  Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has already said that barring a stalker from owning a gun to menace a domestic partner with a gun is unconstitutional.

The lack of GOP support for women came the day after a young white man killed eight people in Georgia, six of them women of Asian descent. The reason, according to the killer, was an attempt to avoid “temptation” for his “sex addiction.” The killer was having “a bad day,” explained the officer, who has posted racist COVID messages on social media. He said that the alleged killer “was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope.” The young man was apprehended on his way to Florida to kill more women. He said he had frequented massage parlors and killed the people, seven of them women, for “vengeance.”

Organizations studying and tracking hate groups and violence described “male supremacy terrorism,” driven by aggrieved male entitlement and a desire to preserve traditional gender roles. Three years ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism began tracking male supremacist ideology, and the Anti-Defamation League published a report called “When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy.” According to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, the ideology’s two core beliefs are that “men are entitled to sexual access to women” and that “feminists are a malevolent force controlling society at the expense of men.” Men have used these beliefs to justify mass shootings at yoga and fitness studios frequented by women, the slaughter of 10 people in Toronto in 2018, and the 2011 shooting deaths of 77 people in Norway by Anders Breivik, who viewed feminism as a significant threat.

As right-wingers, led by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), used racist language to describe the global epidemic, Stop AAPI Hate reported 3,795 hate incidents including name-calling, shunning, and assault in the U.S. against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders during the past year. The number could be much higher because not all incidents are reported. Most were against women, in businesses, and on public sidewalks or streets, the report said. Other events included civil rights violations such as workplace discrimination or refusal of service and online harassment.

Last week, a 75-year-old defenseless Asian man was killed in Oakland’s (CA) Chinatown on his morning walk. A friend had warned him about the danger of being there because Asian people were being attacked. Carl Chan, the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, said that seniors were afraid to walk on the streets because of hateful attacks after political statements about the “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu.”

The suspected Georgia killer, who has confessed, was an active member with his parents in the evangelical church Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton (GA). Brett Cottrell, the youth and missions pastor from 2008 to 2017, talked about the killer’s participation “in everything we did.” Crabapple is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and theologically conservative with mostly white members. The group is opposed to “critical race theory, “intersectionality, and the social justice movement in Baptist circles.

In another House bill, passing by 413-12, the 12 self-professed “law and order” Republicans voted against giving the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police for their bravery on January 6 when insurrectionists stormed the building. According to the bill, the three medals would be displayed at the Capitol Police headquarters, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, and the Smithsonian. Naysayers said they opposed the terrorist attack being called an insurrection. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) lobbied for a bill with no mention of January 6 or the Capitol attack. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) didn’t want the medal to be displayed at the Smithsonian. In February, the Senate voted to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman for putting himself in harm’s way to protect lawmakers and staff during the assault on Congress.

First, Republicans tried to block the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) by unanimously voting against it. Almost three-fourths of people approved of ARPA, including 59 percent of Republicans, so those voting no tried to take credit for it. Now both President Joe Biden, VP Kamala Harris, and their spouses, Dr. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff, are crossing the U.S. to talk about the benefits while the IRS has already sent out 90 million relief checks of $1,400 each. Republicans and the media criticize Biden for not spending enough time talking with the media, but he has historically talked to both small and large groups of people.  

Republicans hoped voters would turn against the law; now they are concerned Biden will move forward with more approval of his agenda. The real GOP concern is the 2022 election, a little more than a year away.

The RNC struggles with refuting ARPA after supporting deficit-spending such as massive cuts for the wealthy and businesses plus giving hundreds of billions of dollars to large businesses in a bill supposedly to save people from the economic pain of COVID-19. Earlier this year, they were overwhelmed by the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and DDT’s impeachment for inciting violence.

People like ARPA because it benefits the middle class over wealthy people, helps with vaccinations, and supports the opening of schools. The GOP can only wish people will forget ARPA’s benefits before the election; Democrats are intent on that forgetfulness not happening. When Republicans try to take credit for ARPA benefits, Democrats say, “You voted against it.” Republicans are working on publicity about the immigrants at the southern border, but the issue has no connection to the relief bill.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin benefited Biden’s bill by stashing away “well over $1 trillion” at the end of DDT’s presidential term when he assumed the former White House would pass a sizeable relief bill. Almost 100 million people got their $1,400 checks within two days of ARPA’s signing instead of waiting two weeks as they did with DDT because he wanted his name on the check.

Even the House chaplain supported U.S. people in distress from DDT’s mismanagement of the pandemic. In a prayer, Rear Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben asked God to forgive Republicans:

“For when called upon to respond to a once-in-a-century pandemic that has rocked our country, upended its economy and widened the chasm of partisan opinion, they have missed the opportunity to step above the fray and unite to attend to this national crisis…

“In failing to address the acrimony and divisions which have prevailed in this room, the servants you have called to lead this country have contributed to the spread of an even more insidious contagion of bitterness and spite.”

Her reference to the New Testament’s letter to the Colossians argued that “rather than employing the preventive measures of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” lawmakers have set that “armor” aside “in favor of argument, disparaging words and divisiveness.” In recalling the Gospel of Mark’s third chapter of “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” she said Congress stands “in need of healing and reconciliation.”

Kibben concluded:

“Merciful Lord, rebuild this House, that their labor will not be in vain.”

ARPA will stay in the news if Ohio GOP AG David Yost continues his lawsuit against the Biden administration. He claims the prohibition of this federal money to states and municipalities to offset new tax cuts is unconstitutional. Ohio receives $11.2 billion, but GOP Gov. Mike DeWine ordered $390 million in new spending cuts among state agencies. Leaders of 21 other red states wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that the provision “would represent the greatest invasion of state sovereignty by Congress in the history of our Republic.” A White House official pointed out states aren’t blocked from tax cuts: they just need to replace the revenue without using stimulus funds.

Not all Republicans are stupid about ARPA money. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) told the state’s Gov. Ron DeSantis to refuse all the money to the state. DeSantis has already made plans for spending his $10 billion.

March 1, 2021

2021 CPAC: From Idolatry to Nazism

This year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) had an extremely limited set of policies—easy to remember: the election was rigged, and liberals are trying to “cancel culture.” There were no surprises. The hate-filled, fear-mongering event loved Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), and the majority wants him elected president in 2024 for the “third time” after what they falsely maintained was a rigged election in 2020. DDT plans no new party; he assumes he’ll win with the current one. Basically, the attendees spent four days whining.

On Sunday, the last day of CPAC, the DDT-worshipping cult soaked up 90 minutes of their religious leader’s words after admiring his golden statue for four days and pledging their allegiance to them. Reminiscent of the Bible’s golden calf, DDT’s graven image was associated with Moses’ brother, Aaron, who gave into pressure from the Israelites who gave up hope that Moses would bring their Lord’s law down from Mt. Sinai. Aaron collected all the people’s jewelry and melted it down to create an idol to another god. Worshipping the golden calf, possibly the Canaanite fertility god Bael, is considered apostasy, a rejection of a once confessed faith. Throughout the entire conference, the faithful to DDT, once following white evangelical Protestantism (WEP), obediently supported his lies.

Evangelicals revere violence to obtain the ends and honored the people who physically attacked police officers in their way when breaching the U.S. Capitol. The uniform strategy for DDT’s GOP encourages violence against and exclusion of everyone who refuses to completely follow their position.

Created by artist Tommy Zegan, the golden DDT, 200 pounds and over six feet tall, was made in Mexico where Zegan is a resident. It perfectly represents the GOP and DDT’s adoration of wealth and their willingness to abandon all principles for its acquisition. evangelicals exchanged their belief in emulating Christ to adoring a serial sexual assaulter whose only goal was to make more money.

In the biblical story about the golden calf, Moses became so furious with the idol that he burned it, put its ashes into water, and made Israelites drink it. God (Yahweh) was so angry he was responsible for 3,000 men killed the day Moses returned. He “blotted” the others out of his book and sent them to die in the wilderness for idolatry.

Right Side Broadcasting, a conservative media outlet founded in 2015, was streaming CPAC when it used a disclaimer to cut away during a panel discussion presenting the lie that DDT won the 2020 election. A host told viewers:

“There’s a lot of sensitive topics being talked about right now. We want everyone to do their own research in regards to what they’re talking about in this discussion right now—anything with the election, anything like that. It’s important to do your own research.”

The host’s colleague echoed the sentiment because voting technology companies are suing people and media outlets for billions if they present debunked conspiracy theories as facts and falsely accuse these companies of stealing the election for Biden. A Right Side host interrupted MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell when he claimed, “You stub your toe, and they say ‘Oh, you’ve got COVID!” The host warned Lindell that YouTube could “shut down” the media platform “if we talk about vaccines.” Lindell had called the vaccine the “mark of the beast,” a sign for those who worship the antichrist.

Almost two dozen GOP representatives gave proxy votes against the stimulus bills using “the ongoing health emergency” as the excuse before they headed off to CPAC. At least ten of them were CPAC speakers. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) first spoke at CPAC’s extremist alternative America First Political Action Committee (AFPAC), also meeting in Florida. Gosar’s speech followed that of former Rep. Steve King (R-IA), stripped by Republicans of committee assignments for racist positions before he failed to be re-elected. AFPAC’s organizer, Nick Fuentes, has been banned from YouTube for his hate speech. After Gosar’s AFPAC speech, Fuentes blamed Black Lives Matter activists of wanting “a new racial caste system in this country, with Whites at the bottom.” Fuentes called the January 6 insurrection “awesome.” 

This proxy is Gosar’s third since January 21 after lambasting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for permitting House members to vote by proxy because of health concerns. On February 2, Gosar deleted his tweet from 35 weeks earlier stating, “Pelosi’s ‘proxy voting’ scheme is shameful and constitutional.” At CPAC, Gosar denied he is a racist and tried to distance himself from AFPAC. 

CPAC speech samples:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) threw his constituents under the bus when he tried to overlook abandoning them by escaping to a warmer clime while they suffered and sometimes died from the failure of the Texas power grid:

“I got to say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancún—but it’s nice!”

His “cancel culture” speech ridiculed the left and the media, telling them to “lighten up” about issues such as wearing masks and protests of police brutality. He explained Houston had no protests because of “what the people of Texas think about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.” Another brunt of his ridicule was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for being afraid when a mob of 800 broke into the Capitol to kill congressional members.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who received DDT’s Medal of Freedom for leaking House committee secrets to the White House, claimed President Obama stole the election for Joe Biden in 2020 with a conspiracy to have absentee voting. Nunes omitted any mention of expanding mail-in vote because of the pandemic when he talked about the idea in “April or May.” [At that time, DDT discouraged people voting by mail.] Deroy Murdock, a conservative writer, blamed judges for the January 6 riots who rejected the frivolous lawsuits about the election.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), the man photographed with his fist raised in the air indicating solidarity with DDT’s mob readying to attack the U.S. Capitol, returned after the insurrection and voted to overturn the election on January 6. At CPAC, he accused politicians, historians, and academicians describing slavery and white supremacy in American history of hating the country and its culture. An editorial from his hometown newspaper didn’t let him get away with it. The Kansas City Star wrote: [find photo]

“We didn’t so much start with nothing as we stole what was here before we got here from Native Americans. And when we did end slavery, after a war in which the Confederacy—whose heroes Hawley defends—fought to preserve it, we were awfully late coming around. And then did everything possible, through Jim Crow laws, to keep things as inequitable as they had been. This doesn’t mean we hate America; it means we recognize reality, and see the need to learn from it.”

The editorial board also wrote about the GOP-maligned Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), saying Hawley and others’ cries for “America First” parallels Nazi sympathizers  in the 1930s. Cheney has been attacked for declaring that “it’s very important, especially for us as Republicans, to make clear that we aren’t the party of white supremacy.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), another presidential wannabe who came in second only to DDT in CPAC’s presidential candidate straw vote, promised conservatives would never return to “the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear.” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said, “We represent the pro-Trump, America-first wing of the conservative movement.” Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) vowed to “never bend the knee to a politically correct mob,” meaning protesters and not insurrectionists. 

Speakers pledged to “fight,” but no one knew exactly for what.

DDT’s speech was chockfull of lies. A few oddities: 

“[The Supreme Court] didn’t have the guts or the courage to make the right decision.”

“[The Republican Party] is becoming the party of love. Just look outside.”

One remarkable moment at CPAC came when a woman asked about fixing voting machines that “switched thousands and thousands of votes.” GOP attorney Charlie Spies told her, “There is just zero evidence that’s true.” The audience heckled him.

The conference with a theme of “America Uncanceled” that embraced racism did cancel one scheduled speaker, announcing his “reprehensible views [had] no home with our conference or our organization.” The person, Young Pharaoh, espouses anti-Semitic views popular with QAnon talking points. On his late night show, Stephen Colbert mockingly ridiculed CPAC for the cancelation, saying that “conservatives don’t want to be associated with anyone like that. It could sully the good name of the mob with aluminum bats trying to murder Mike Pence.”

One person not canceled was Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba, “the political head of a Japanese religious cult that promotes nationalism, xenophobia and the belief that its leader is the reincarnation of an alien from Venus who created life on earth millions of years ago,” according to David Gilbert. As leader of Happy Science, Aeba believes he is the Messiah and sells “miracle cures” for COVID-19. Like Scientology, the cult is focused on making money; “cures” can cost up to $400. The group’s aim, however, is political, worldwide, with CPAC part of its method to achieve its goal.

CPAC’s stage design matches its neo-Nazi inclination with a depiction of the Norse othala, or odal, rune used by Nazis during World War II adopted to “reconstruct a mythic ‘Aryan’ past,” according to the Anti-Defamation League. The rune also appeared at the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville (VA) that include anti-Semitic chants.

December 14, 2020

Followups for Earlier Stories

Yesterday AG Bill Barr said he might leave the job; now he’s gone by December 23. He supposedly resigned after what DDT called “a very nice meeting,” but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has considered firing him since Barr wouldn’t file lawsuits to put DDT back into the Oval Office, declared no widespread election fraud, and didn’t announce the investigation into President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter before the election. The effusive resignation letter has the earmarks of DDT’s writing. DDT tweeted Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen, “an outstanding person,” becomes acting AG for the last 28 days of his term. 

A recent Barr effort to act as DDT’s personal lawyer instead of leading an independent agency was trying to drop the case against Michael Flynn who pled guilty to lying twice to the FBI. DDT pardoned Flynn, requiring a federal judge to dismiss Flynn’s prosecution. The judge said he would not have dropped the case and was bothered by the government’s “dubious” rationales and aspects of its “ever-evolving justifications” ignoring applicable law. He called DDT’s pardon “a political decision, not a legal one.”

DDT fired three of four top officials in the agency to block cybersecurity, and Russians hacked another three agencies. The Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the National Institutes of Health on Monday have joined the Treasury and Commerce departments attacked by Russian cyber espionage.

DDT hasn’t fired VA Secretary Robert Wilkie although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and leading veterans’ groups call for his resignation because he tried to smear a congressional aide assaulted at a VA hospital. Pelosi stated:

“The VA Inspector General report makes clear that Secretary Wilkie engaged in an extremely disturbing cover-up campaign of sexual assault against a veteran. He has lost the trust and confidence to serve, and he must immediately resign.”

American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford also called for acting deputy secretary Pamela Powers and top public affairs officials James Hutton and Curt Cashour to step down after the IG reported the three of them knew about Wilkie’s discrediting the veteran. Even the Koch’s Concerned Veterans of America criticized the four leaders of the VA. In the past, Wilkie tried to keep Nazi swastikas at federal veterans’ cemeteries and defended the use of Confederate symbols. The DOJ has taken no action against Wilkie.

The official Electoral College votes declared Joe Biden president-elect Monday, but unofficial electors met in swing states with Biden majorities—Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin—to vote for DDT if federal courts invalidate Biden’s electoral votes. Election-law expert Rick Hasen wrote:

“These electors have neither been certified by state executives nor purportedly appointed by state legislators. They don’t have legal authority and so this does not affect the counting of Electoral College votes.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) warned his GOP colleagues not to challenge the electoral vote results at the January 6 congressional meeting to formally approve Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as U.S. president and vice president. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), who did not run for re-election in 2020, announced his departure from the GOP to protest the Republicans support DDT’s attempts to overturn his loss because of its “third-world nation” approach. Michigan state House GOP leaders stripped GOP state Rep. Gary Eisen from his committee assignments until December 31 after he threatened violence to challenge the electoral college process. Threats required Michigan electors to complete their business in a closed Capitol building.  

Arizona Republicans created fake documents to claim the state’s 11 votes for DDT, notarized them, and then sent them to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Called “AZ Protect the Vote,” the group stated the documents were from the “sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona.” Three of the state’s four U.S. representatives were part of the 126 seditious House members who supported the overturn of Biden’s election in the Supreme Court.

By a 4-3 vote, Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected DDT’s lawsuit to invalidate about 220,000 ballots in the Democratic Milwaukee and Dane counties. In the court’s fourth rejection of the case within ten days, a “conservative swing” judge joined three progressive judges for the majority in each case.

When the media announced DDT planned to provide White House staff with the new vaccine—maybe because no one there wears a mask or practices social distancing—he backed off, possibly from embarrassment about taking the vaccine from high-risk healthcare workers. His new order left the door open for his staff to receive the vaccine by saying they would receive it if “specifically necessary.” DDT is holding at least 20 Christmas parties.

Crede Bailey, director of the White House security office, was hospitalized with COVID-19 for three months. His right foot and lower leg were amputated as well as the big toe on his left foot. A GoFundMe appeal has raised almost $50,000 to help cover his “staggering medical bills” from hospitalization, upcoming rehab, and necessary home remodeling for his disability.

DDT still threatens to veto the national Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) but has taken no action. With no explanation, he sent this tweet on Sunday on his way to play golf:

“THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA! I WILL VETO!”

The handful of GOP senators voting against the NDAA highlights are those aspiring to be president in 2024 if DDT ever moves out of the way: Sens. Josh Hawley (MO), Tom Cotton (AR), Ted Cruz (TX), and Rand Paul (KY). Issues addressed in the NCAA include the law protecting internet companies which was not overturned and removing Confederate names from military bases which is part of the NCAA. Republicans need to appeal to white supremacists for votes even without DDT. Paul and Cruz also opposed the provision restricting DDT’s ability to pull troops from any area without congressional approval.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis originally said he knew nothing about the raid on the home of Rebekah Jones, criticized for flimsy evidence about the accusation of her hacking into a state computer network. Last Friday during a mental health meeting, DeSantis had a tantrum and said he knew about the raid, again indicating it was retribution for her website with accurate data about COVID-19. DeSantis tries to hide the huge numbers of infections and deaths to open up his state and consistently conceals data about the virus spreading in nursing homes, prisons, hospitals and public schools. He pushes the theory about most infected patients being younger, healthier, and asymptomatic while ignoring statistics on the large number of patients in hospital beds and ICUs.

Two Florida newspapers are suing DeSantis for withholding weekly White House Coronavirus Task Force reports which urge the state to impose stricter coronavirus restrictions because of the surge in infections. Some states publish the weekly reports online. DeSantis claimed vaccines will end the problem, but the report stated the general public won’t have vaccinations until “late spring.” The vaccine requires two doses, but DeSantis suggested one per person might be enough. 

In the last 36 days before Biden’s inauguration, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is using taxpayer money to take his wife on a European “vacation,” heading to Paris as head of a U.S. delegation to the 60th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Convention. The trip includes a private tour of the closed Louvre from coronavirus restrictions before going to the Mediterranean and European capitals. The couple will be guided by government employees living there. Because of the virus, people in the U.S. can’t typically travel to any European countries, and residents in Paris must stay home except for grocery shopping and work. Most of the meeting’s participants are attending virtually.

A few Republican pundits are apologizing for not realizing the danger of DDT and his followers. Kathleen Parker, a Florida columnist, gave a mea culpa for claiming after the 2016 election “that we’d survive as a nation no matter who won.” She reversed her opinion by writing that the pandemic shows that “we now know that he is that bad a human being and that lousy a leader. We’ve come not to expect just worse from him but the worst.” Parker adds:

“Trump’s call to overthrow the 2020 election … has exposed the underbelly of the GOP. There’s nothing some Republicans won’t do to hold on to power, even at the expense of the country’s dwindling chances to unite in common cause… Worst of all, people whose minds have been warped by lies, conspiracy theories and disinformation would rather risk death and/or harm to others and themselves than wear a mask for a few more weeks. For Pete’s sake, people: What is wrong with you?”

She concludes: “I apologize.”

The Orlando Sentinel writes “we had no idea” when it endorsed Rep. Michael Waltz, one of the 126 seditious House members trying to overturn a legal vote for president. The newspaper pointed out it didn’t think about asking whether Waltz would support the disenfranchisement “of tens of millions of Americans in four states in order to overturn a presidential election and hand it to the person who lost, Donald Trump.” The piece concluded, “The only thing I know for sure is that he doesn’t deserve to represent the United States.”

More Republicans need to grasp this concept.

December 11, 2020

Biden Appoints, DDT Rants

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to light fires for the destruction of democracy, and President-elect Biden continues to annoy GOP congressional members with new appointments.

White House Domestic Policy Council: Susan Rice, formerly President Obama’s national security adviser.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs: Denis McDonough, formerly President Obama’s chief of staff. A concern comes from McDonough’s never having served in the military.

HUD Secretary: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-IL), two years ago considered for House Speaker.

Agriculture Secretary: former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack with the same position for both President Obama’s terms.  

U.S. Trade Representative: Katherine Tai, chief trade counsel on the House Ways and Means Committee who spent seven years as a U.S. trade representative (USTR) attorney specializing in enforcing trade agreements with China.

Possibilities for Attorney General: Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) who lost his election in November, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, former deputy attorney general Sally Yates fired by DDT soon after his inauguration, and federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland appointed for the Supreme Court in early 2016 but ignored to keep the job open for a DDT appointment.

Biden and his transition team are prioritizing collaboration with Congress, thus far reaching out to over 300 House members and almost everyone in the Senate. The first crucial act for Biden’s legislative team is ensuring rapid consideration of nominations in the Senate.

Hearings for DDT’s nominees started on January 3, 2017—17 days before he was inaugurated. Biden’s nominees are already meeting virtually with senators, but GOP senators plan to delay Biden’s appointment confirmations. In the past, 95 percent of Cabinet nominees had hearings before the inauguration, and 84 percent of those were confirmed within three days. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said confirmation of Neera Tanden for Office of Management and Budget has a “zero chance” because of her negative tweets about some Republicans. He also disapproves of Xavier Becerra, California AG who sat on the House committee overseeing health issues for 24 years, because Cornyn doesn’t “know what his Health and Human Services credentials are.” Credentials for current HHS Secretary Alex Azar are his work for big pharma company Eli Lily in the decade before he was hired as a DDT loyalist.

DDT’s people are planted into every discussion with Biden’s transition team, sometimes blocking conversations. The team was finally permitted into the National Security Agency, but the parent of Voice of America, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, won’t allow any involvement with Biden’s group. DDT doesn’t permit the usual practice of using unpolitical and knowledgeable career employees to manage the transitions. A former official said DDT’s actions are “the equivalent of having the opposing coach sitting in the room as you’re developing your team’s strategy.”

While Biden sets up his administration in the midst of obstruction, DDT took time out of his busy schedule destroying democracy to hold his “vaccine summit” on Tuesday. DDT promoted the death-causing tactic of “herd immunity,” infecting as many people as possible. “I hear we’re close to 15 percent… That’s terrific,” he said about the number of virus infections. (It’s actually over 15 million, not 15 percent; “herd immunity” requires over 70 percent.) DDT took credit for the “miracle” of the virus before he launched into his typical rants about winning the election, conspiracy theories about fraud, and demands for Republicans to find the “courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right”—awarding him a second term.

Neither Pfizer nor Moderna attended the summit, and no one from Biden’s team was invited. DDT said:

“We’re gonna have to see who the next administration is. Hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration, a continuation.”

DDT signed a murky executive order about providing the U.S. with vaccine. It doesn’t increase vaccine production or order more doses. DDT already lost his chance to get more supplies from Pfizer until the middle of summer while Pfizer is sending hundreds of millions of doses to the UK. After explanations for the need for a vaccine, the order assigns an official to “coordinate development of an interagency strategy [until] there exists a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses for all Americans who choose to be vaccinated.”

While DDT passed disinformation, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) did the same thing at his committee hearing, promoting unproven treatments and comparing the virus to the regular flu. MSNBC host Chris Hayes pointed out 130 Americans died during Johnson’s hearing. One GOP senator skipped the meeting: referring to the list of witnesses recommending fake remedies and opposing vaccines, Mitt Romney (UT) said, “I think it’s nuts to bring that into the Senate.”

The Thanksgiving coronavirus surge has begun with averages of new daily cases at 200,000+ and deaths rising above 3,000—more than those who died on 9/11 and in the attack on Pearl Harbor almost 80 years ago putting the U.S. into World War II. Alabama and Georgia each saw a 50-percent increase this past week. Fewer people admitted to hospitals may mean they are sending sick people home. Projections of deaths are another 265,000 people by April 1. Today, the 217,779 new cases in the U.S. brought the total to over 16 million and 2,974 deaths come to 308 under 300,000 in fewer than ten months.

Tuesday also began the vaccinations in Britain. The second dose comes 21 or 28 days after the first one, depending on whether they are Pfizer or Moderna. People are supposedly 95 percent immune within seven to ten days after the second dose. It is still unclear how long the immunity provided by the vaccine lasts for, or whether those who have had it can still transmit coronavirus to other people. The detailed distribution plan has 50 vaccination hubs in hospitals across England and dozens more in Wales and Scotland.

Thursday, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of the Pfizer vaccine for people over 16 years of age. The agency may grant emergency authorization on Saturday, and the initial shipment of 6.4 million doses could leave warehouses within 24 hours. Pfizer said the research had no reactions of anaphylactic shock their vaccine produced in two British subjects because they ruled out people with allergic reactions. The FDA panel will determine authorization for Moderna next week on December 17. Unlike Britain, the U.S.’s general distribution plans rely on each state’s organization. Links to each state’s plan here.

In Florida, ten state law enforcement burst into the house of former public health data scientist, Rebekah Jones, with guns drawn to take her computer equipment. Gov. Ron DeSantis fired her earlier this year because she refused to falsify data for him to open schools and businesses. After her termination, she continued to collect the data and put it onto a website she developed. Agents claimed she had hacked into the state computer system and emailed a message to members of the state emergency team, urging them to “speak up before another 17,000 people are dead.” Jones denied the accusation.

The agents ordered Jones out of the house and pointed guns at her husband and two young children. Using a warrant signed by a DeSantis-appointed judge sworn in last month, the agents took Jones “hardware and tech” containing names of her sources. Ron Filipkowski, a Marine veteran and Republican lawyer appointed three times to Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commission, resigned from his position because the action was so “reckless and irresponsible.” The former prosecutor said, “What’s the crime? The crime is hacking into an email server to tell people the truth?”

Cyber security and digital rights experts called the IP justification for the search warrant “thin” and “fishy.” An expert said IP addresses are unreliable personal identifiers, commonly misused or misunderstood by police and the courts. He said his undergraduate students can easily make an IP address appear to come from elsewhere. Agents didn’t report any other evidence for probable cause. The username and password for Jones’ system are on a publicly available document at a Department of Health site and was still available there three days after the search.

The warrant information also fails to indicate any damage caused by the email. The statute used for the warrant is typically used for identity or money theft, server crashes, or other similar harms, according to Filipkowski. Taking Jones’ thumb drives and memory cards shows a search beyond violation of the statute, indicating the warrant was a fishing expedition.

Charges are not yet filed. Jones has raised than $200,000 on a GoFundMe page. She plans to use the money for her legal defense and for “moving expenses so my family can get out of the Governor’s reach.”

DeSantis’ new COVID-19 data analyst is Kyle Lamb, an Ohio blogger and Uber driver who disseminates conspiracy theories against wearing masks and lockdowns. He compares the virus to the flu and calls the virus a part of Chinese “biowar” while promoting hydroxychloroquine. And more.

Only 40 days left for DDT, but DeSantis is staying.

September 30, 2018

U.S. House: On Recess But Not Forgotten

The House of Representatives may be in recess to campaign for the next six weeks, but GOP members are still up mischief. Their vote to pass another round of tax cuts just before the November midterms gives an additional $3 trillion to the wealthiest people in the U.S. The vote of 220-191 included three Democrats; last year’s tax bill had no Democratic support. Part of the House tax plan costs come from the “Universal Savings Accounts” that has no limit for participation and permits withdrawal of funds before retirement. The shift of savings from taxable accounts primarily benefits the wealthy, the top one-percent of the population who can shift, on average, $9.5 million into tax-free accounts. The average 60 percent of people has $16,000 to shift.

After the last tax cuts, Republicans began to threaten slashing or even eliminating Medicare and Social Security because of the escalating deficit; this will cement that deal. The Republicans can’t campaign on the last tax cut: people believe the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle-class families” by a 2-to-1 margin, 61 percent to 30 percent. With 42 percent of people reporting that they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the GOP tax plan, compared to 36 percent in favor of those candidates, only 1,039 GOP TV campaign spots, under 12 percent of all GOP TV ads this year, mentioned the new tax bill. That bill was the only GOP accomplishment.

The House has departed at the same time that the Violence against Women Act lapses. Two weeks ago, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reported negotiations with the Senate, but nothing has come of her promise. Even if the House took action, the GOP senate might oppose it. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the most unhinged supporter of Kavanaugh, is one of six GOP white men on judiciary committee who voted against VAWA in 2013. Graham’s state has the highest rate of women killed by men in 2014, twice the national U.S. average, with 92 percent of the female murder victims knowing their killer and 62 percent having been in an intimate relationship with the murderer. The leniency of court sentencing allowing the attackers back out on the street in a short time is one factor for South Carolina’s high rate of violence against women.

In addition to attempts to starve people by highly restricting food stamps, the farm bill awaiting House members’ return contains three climate and fiscal disasters for the United States:

  • Stop localities from regulating pesticides: This interactive map shows some of the places in danger.
  • Permit wealthy farmers to get crop subsidies: The new bill allows people making over $900,000 annually could give a loophole to exempt partnership, joint ventures, and other corporate farms.
  • Eliminate funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program: Gone would be offsets for some farmer costs such as crop coverings to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter, buffer strips that prevent severe soil erosion from storms, and hedgerows as habitat for wild bees and other beneficial insects.

Dark horse Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-TX) is closing the gap between him and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the race for Cruz’s position. While the senate was forced to stay in session most of August, O’Rourke was crossing the state, going to all 99 counties, and again Cruz is stuck in Washington, D.C. while the House is in recess. In the last debate, O’Rourke pointed out his opponent’s absences:

“Within months of being sworn to service, your senator Ted Cruz was not in Texas. He was in Iowa. He visited every single one of the 99 counties of Iowa. He went to New Hampshire, South Carolina. He went to the Republican presidential primary states instead of being here. He shut down your government for 16 days in 2013. Too many people were getting too much health care in the United States of America.”

O’Rourke told the crowd that Cruz missed one-fourth of the vote in 2015 and one-half the votes in 2016 and finished by saying, “Tell me, who can miss half the days at work and be rehired for the same job going forward?” Cruz was so positive that the senate would vote on Kavanaugh over the weekend that he canceled a debate with O’Rourke today. After the week’s hiatus before a vote, Cruz tried to reinstate the debate, but O’Rourke said that he was already booked. Donations were double for O’Rourke than Cruz as of June 30, another bad sign. Cruz’s campaign was based on ridiculing O’Rourke, but every attempt backfired.

Not satisfied with just smearing his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Ted Cruz is scamming older people to get campaign funds. Sean Owen wrote that his 88-year-old grandmother received what appears to be a summons from Travis County but is asking for donations to Cruz. He has a pattern of scamming people to get elected. To get people to the Iowa caucuses in 2012, Cruz sent mailers headed “VOTING VIOLATION” with a warning about “low expected voter turnout.” It purported to print the person’s voting scores, not available to the public in that state, and included a chart with false voting “grade” and “score” for the recipient and neighbors. The warning ended with the ominous statement: “A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.””

Incumbent candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted on 60 charges related to fraudulent use of $250,000 in campaign funds in 200 incidences of lavish vacations and dinners, conspiracy, wire fraud, and filing false campaign-finance reports.  Included in the information are at least five of Hunter’s “personal relationships” with photographic evidence. Hunter has denied the charges while he runs racist, anti-Muslim advertising against his opponent. He describes himself as a Christian conservative and committed family man.

New York voters may also get another chance to elect a potential criminal: Rep. Chris Collins, charged with insider trading, decided he will run for re-election this fall after claiming that he wouldn’t. He has an 80 percent chance of winning in the conservative district, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

DDT slammed the DOJ for indicting these two representatives before the mid-term elections. Long live the swamp!

Fearing rough competition to his race to become Florida’s governor, former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) quit four months early to campaign—over 16 percent of the term that his voters expected him to serve. He might use the time to speak at more white supremacist conferences after the four times he addressed ones organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center audiences. The organizer has said that blacks owe their freedom to whites and that the nation’s “only serious race war” is against white people. He told them that he admires “an organization that shoots straight … and is standing up for the right thing.” DeSantis started campaigning for the general election with the use of “monkey this up” when talking about his black opponent, Andrew Gillum. Tony Ledbetter, Volusia County GOP chair and paid employer for DeSantis’ campaign, posted a demand to move “animals … from our country.” Speakers at Horowitz conferences have made more disgusting comments about minorities, especially blacks. DeSantis resigned as administrator for a racist and Islamophobic Facebook group laden with conspiracy theories immediately after his affiliation was made public. Virginia GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart remained as administrator.

Thanks to the laxness of the FEC, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) violated election rules by keeping money raised for her primary campaign although she faced no challenge. Questioned about her actions, Love said she would keep the money and reclassify it later.

Taxpayers are still ponying up the money to pay for congressional members’ sexual assault settlements because Congress cannot agree on a law to stop it. Congressional workplace misconduct has cost taxpayers almost $15.2 million from 1997 to 2014. Does the Supreme Court have this arrangement to pay victims of sexual assault?

One wealthy donor is fed up with Republicans. Les Wexner, owner and CEO of L-Brands in Ohio, said he is “no longer a Republican” and spoke warmly about President Obama and his theme of bipartisan civility. Wexner said, “I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others.” A year ago, Wexner had told his employees that he felt “dirty” and “ashamed” because of DDT’s response to violence at the Unite the Right rally that killed a person in Charlottesville (VA).

In the NYT, Timothy Egan wrote about the bargain that the GOP made with DDT:

“Republicans would get tax cuts for the well-connected and a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, and in turn would overlook every assault on decency, truth, our oldest allies and most venerable principles. They expected Trump to govern by grudges, lie eight times a day, call women dogs, act as a useful idiot for foreign adversaries, make himself a laughingstock to the world….

“A lifetime of Republican pieties, put forth by the bow-tied best and brightest, has gone up in a poof. Free trade? It’s been swamped by America First. Balanced budgets, living within our means? Get to love the trillion-dollar deficit, courtesy of those tax cuts.”

GOP congressional members are willing to sell out every Republican value in a sycophancy to DDT including a belief in their party over country.

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