Nel's New Day

November 13, 2022

Mistakes Were Made: FTX, Twitter

While the 2022 midterm elections released the majority of its results this past week, two financial disasters ran with a flood of breaking news in crypto currency and Elon Musk’s new toy, Twitter.

Last Wednesday, Dow Jones dropped about 1,000 points, alerting people to the collapse of FTX, a Bahama-based crypto currency exchange. FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried, 30, lost 94 percent of his assets, going from net worth of $15.2 billion to $991.5 million, in one day of stock losses and resigned. He had secretly moved $10 billion of customer funds to his trading company Alameda Research with about 130 affiliated companies, and about $1-2 billion disappeared. A rescue deal with Binance collapsed, and the company filed for bankruptcy.

Major coins prices regained some of its lost value after the bankruptcy filing only to plummet after the discovery of a hack into FTX. Various tokens worth $663 million were drained from FTX’s crypto wallets, $477 million in the suspected theft, with the remainder believed to be put into secure storage by FTX. Those holding their own cryptocurrency can store it “hot,” “cold,” or a combination. “Hot” is attached to the internet permitting easy access; “cold” refers to wallets not internet connected. Many crypto start-ups used FTX because it paid high yields for assets on its platform. Before the collapse, Genesis locked up $175 million in funds with FTX; Pantera Capital, $135 million.

Crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) fell nearly percent, and MicroStrategy dropped 10 percent. Crypto-focused bank Silvergate (SI) lost 14 percent. The two largest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) both declined about 6 percent, similar to declines in the crypto sector. Blockchain and Tech ETF dropped 46 percent since their April debut. The wipeout for cryptocurrency was about $5 billion.

On November 11, Bitcoin’s price hovered around $17,000, down from above $20,000 on November 8 and well below the $68,000 a year ago. Except for supposed “stablecoins,” crypto’s value solely depends on what someone is willing to pay for it, like a lottery ticket.

The bankrupt FTX crypto exchange, according to its new CEO, is “in the process of removing trading and withdrawal functionality” and “moving as many digital assets as can be identified to a new cold wallet custodian.” FTX calls the hacking  “unauthorized transactions.” 

Bankman-Fried spent tens of millions of dollars to reconfigure the culture of finance in both the U.S. and the world. As recently as January, his FTX was worth $32 billion. The story of his rise—and fall—is here as he used his charm, trying to manipulate people into believing his company was a trustworthy investment. Money went into naming the Miami Heat arena and its logo on Major League Baseball umpires’ uniforms, Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bündchen for spokespeople, and comedian Larry David starring in the FTX Super Bowl ad. Bankman-Fried’s partners are fleeing, Miami Heat is terminating its relationship to look for a new naming rights partner.

Having left the U.S., Bankman-Fried may be under supervision in a Bahamas resort with his co-founder, Gary Want, and FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh on his way to non-extradition haven Dubai. The resort is owned by Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake

A way to avoid banks, cryptocurrency, which isn’t really “currency,” has been quite volatile, but risk-takers have used it in the hope of making a fortune. Melanie Trump used it for her business, and Elon Musk considered requiring bitcoins as payment for participation in his new company, Twitter.

Musk’s recent acquisition of the social media platform has kept the media busy following the constant shifts in what he is doing, starting out with the number of Twitter employees the wealthiest man in the world has fired. He started out with 25 percent of the 7,500 workers as well as almost all the top people in the business. Within a week, that figure expanded to 50 percent, which Jonathan Last called Twitter’s Red Wedding, comparing it to the massacre in The Game of Thrones. Layoffs were particularly extensive in Twitter’s “product trust and safety, policy, communications, tweet curation, ethical AI, data science, research, machine learning, social good, accessibility, and even certain core engineering teams.”

When Musk decided he needed some of them, he called them back, but many refused to return. They have three months salary but will be punished if they talk with any other former employees. (Library computers are probably very busy!) The ones he kept were told they had to report to offices instead of working remotely although that was not the deal when they were hired. Musk also dumped the board of directors and replaced them with his friends while making himself CEO. 

Most executives who weren’t fired walked out—top privacy, security, and safety executives. Axios reporter Sara Fischer tweeted, “Twitter is on life support.” Employees told her “it’s over” because “trust is gone.” According to a spokesperson for the Federal Trade Commission, agents were “tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern.” The agency is prepared to take action to require compliance with a consent order established earlier this year. Three of the resignations were part of the FTC mandated data handling practices. With greater restrictions, European countries are carefully watching Twitter problems.

Part of the investigation into Twitter is Saudi Arabia’s partial ownership because Musk said the company must follow the freedom of expression laws by the country in which it operates. Saudi Arabia has the eighth most Twitter users in the world with limited freedom of speech.  

The big tech moguls and financiers buying into Twitter, like Saudi Arabia, may suffer from buyers’ remorse, possibly losing much of their investment at $54.20 per share. The Saudi’s piece is almost $2 billion. Winners are those who bought shares at a lower price; privatizing stocks in the company forces Musk to reimburse shareholders at the buying cost.  Chief Twit, Musk’s self-identified nickname, is threatening bankruptcy after the company loses $4 million a day and could end up with hundreds of billions of dollars in fines. His financial situation worsened after advertisers, providing 90 percent of Twitter revenue, began to suspend their accounts. After losing at least nine major advertisers, Musk begged them to return on “Twitter Space,” an hour-long livestream, with promises of content moderation and account verification while blaming activists for their Twitter boycott.

For over a week, Twitter increasingly lost credibility, and tweeting comedians impersonated Musk in fake accounts. One of them, Kathy Griffin, encouraged encouraging people to vote Democratic before Musk told them to select GOP candidates. Musk tried to charge $19.95 for his verification accounts with a blue check. When people refused to pay the charge, he dropped the cost to $7.99. For this “Twitter Blue,” Musk didn’t even verify the accounts for accuracy, requiring only an Apple ID and phone number. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems. [Left: Musk’s tweet pleading for subscriptions.]

Musk paused the product which was flooded with misinformation and permitted neo-Nazi accounts. A fake account from Lilly, for example, announced free insulin. The expedited timeline for Twitter Blue skipped the company’s internal risk evaluation and didn’t make key upgrades to flag problems.  

Within the first week, Musk may have lost a million users, and many of them are going to Mastodon, a decentralized platform founded in 2016 which rose to 1 million users this month, doubling the past number. Users can set their own content moderation rules and uses hashtags, replies, and “boosting” (like retweeting). Unlike Twitter, Mastodon is a nonprofit and has no ads (#omg).

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, but its value dropped to $25 billion during its first week. He also has a $1 billion annual interest payment for the huge loan to help pay for the inflated price. In addition, fired workers are suing him for violating California and federal law because of his mass layoffs.

As Jonathan Last wrote, “Elon Musk has turned Twitter from a minimally-functioning company into a distressed asset. And he did it in a week.” Musk promised Twitter would not become “a free-for-all hellscape,” but that’s the perfect description of the social media site inundated with racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic posts accompanied by election disinformation and conspiracy theories—many of them promoted by Musk.

The end of Twitter would lose Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) tweets. People may remember  “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police” instead of Gestapo. There was “Bill Gates wants you to eat his fake meat that grows in a peach tree dish.” Most recently, Greene wrote, “I’m sure our enemies are quacking in their boots while we are still over here trying to count ballots.” Alex Bollinger wrote, “On Twitter, people were quacking up about Greene’s latest complaint.” Twitter provided many images, including this one. 

Over at Meta, parent of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg may not being doing as well since his name change. The company’s $234 billion fall last February set the record for the biggest one-day value drop in stock market history, more than Apple’s one-day $182 billion loss in September 2020. Over 11,000 Meta employees, about 13 percent of the work force, were fired. Meta’s stock dropped over 50 percent from $200 six months ago before crawling back up to $113.02.

August 1, 2022

Biden Takes Out al-Queda Leader, DDT Continues Idiocy, More News

In a fit of desperation, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) told his followers last Saturday that President Joe Biden’s recurrence of COVID is actually “Dementia” and that he is “thinking of moving, part time, to one of those beautiful Wisconsin Nursing Homes, where almost 100% of the residents miraculously … had the strength and energy to vote—even if those votes were cast illegally.” The post on DDT’s Truth Social is ironic on several levels, especially because his associates such as Steve Bannon and Joe Scarborough claim a decline in DDT’s mental abilities, even dementia.

Two days after DDT gave at least three false claims, including illegal votes from Wisconsin nursing homes, Biden, isolated with COVID, gave a brief speech about the U.S. killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan:

“Justice has been delivered. And this terrorist leader is no more. No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide — if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out… He carved a trail of murder and violence against American citizens, American service members, American diplomats and American interests.”

A CIA drone strike secretly killed only al-Zawahiri and didn’t hurt anyone else. In 2001, al-Zawahiri, who Rachel Maddow called Osama bin Laden’s “brains,” escaped, but U.S. intelligence located him in downtown Kabul earlier this year in a safe house. Biden has been briefed about ways to kill the al-Qaeda leader without danger to civilians or warning to the Taliban.

After September 11, 2001, al-Zawahiri built al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Asia, and Yemen. Second in command to bin Laden, he became leader after President Barack Obama killed bin Laden in 2011 and continued to call on attacks against the U.S. and its allies. Attacks were in Bali, Mombasa, Riyadh, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, and London—one of those killing 52 people in 2005. On July 31, al-Zawahiri came out onto a balcony about sunrise, and a drone killed him at 6:18 a.m. (9:48 p.m. ET on Saturday) with two Hellfire missiles.

The administration official said Monday that the Taliban was not warned ahead of the strike against al-Zawahiri, and that the al-Qaeda leader’s presence in the country was a violation of the Doha Agreement signed by the U.S. and the Taliban in 2020.

Biden had been criticized for removing U.S. troops from Afghanstan, but in his speech he said he “made the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan to protect America from terrorists who seek to do us harm, and I made a promise to the American people, that we continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.” He also gave thanks to the intelligence community for its work in the successful counterterrorism plot for several months with no leaks. This is the man who DDT accuses of having dementia.

Meanwhile, 50 miles from Ground Zero in New York City, where Saudi Arabia bankrolled the killing of thousands of people and sent 15 Saudis to attack the U.S., DDT is hosting the Saudis for the LIV golf tour at Bedminister (NJ). He thinks the tour will help the image of the country seen as having no human rights and murders journalists. DDT said the MBS’ killing of Washington Post’s reporter Jamal Khashoggi has “totally died down.”

In early 2020, NBC reported how DDT ignored intelligence reports on the senior terrorist figures who CIA was trying to find and kill, including al-Zawahiri, because he “had never heard of any of these people.” didn’t recognize the names. He finally picked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Yemeni al-Qaeda chief Qasim al-Rimi but kept referring to Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s youngest son because it was the only name DDT recognized, according to a Pentagon official. Hamza wasn’t planning attacks, but a U.S. airstrike killed him in 2018. Not reading or digesting detailed intelligence assessments, DDT says his “gut tells me more sometimes than anybody’s else’s brains can ever tell me.”

Former CIA official Douglas London, who led a unit targeting senior terrorists in 2018, said DDT had a “preference for a ‘celebrity’ targeted killing versus prioritizing options that could prove better for U.S. security.” London added, “It was not lost on us working the issue that the president pressed hardest for results in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections.”

After 18 months, DDT’s lawyers have decided to prepare a legal defense against criminal charges from the DOJ, worried about prosecution for DDT’s role in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Efforts exacerbated after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on June 12. Possible strategies include shifting blame from DDT to his advisers to find one or more fall guys, free speech, and the right to petition the government over a political grievance.

To support Russian president Vladimir Putin, DDT has also attacked “spoiled” Brittney Griner, saying she was “loaded up with drugs” and deserves to be in a Russian prison. Russian customs found under a gram of cannabis oil, worth about $5, in her luggage; she uses it for pain. Biden is trying to get her released.

Moody’s economists say that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will probably live up to its name by cooling inflation and providing a “material beneficial economic impact.” If passed, IRA “will nudge the economy and inflation in the right direction” with the $790 billion package completely paid for by higher taxes on corporations and wealthy households, enhanced enforcement, and lower Medicare drug costs. The bill lowers ACA healthcare premiums, funds clean energy projects, and reduces the government’s deficit. Taxes will slow growth to control price growth. The only question now is whether Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) will stick to corporations and the Republicans.

In a “Mid-year Review,” a Bank of America executive wrote that “we hope” working conditions for working people in the U.S. will get worse so that they lose leverage in the labor market and “help push up the unemployment rate.” It’s his solution for dropping inflation, the reverse of what will be successful. In 2009 during the worst of George W. Bush’s recession, the unemployment ratio was 6.5, over six unemployed workers for every open job, compared to the present ratio of 0.5, two job openings per unemployed person.

The memo ignores the negative effects of high profits while lamenting its problem of high wages. Yet corporate profits are causing a big part of inflation with after-tax corporate profits rising to 11.8 percent from 8.1 percent at the beginning of 2020, an increase of $700 billion in profits per year and creating over 50 percent of recent price increases.

Oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron reported historic profits from the last three months. Exxon made $17.9 billion (not a typo) last quarter, up 273 percent from the same time last year, while Chevron made $11.6 billion. Exxon’s rate of income was $2,245.62 every second of every day for the past 92 days; Chevron made $1,462.11 per second. Together, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, and TotalEnergies announced $60 billion in profits for the past three months. They plan to spend much of the profit not on reinvesting in their businesses but on stock buybacks, which drives up the price of the stock. Gas prices on these profits make up almost half the increase in inflation during the past few months.

Rep. Joe Manchin (R-WV) issued a summary of the agreement that raises $739 billion in ten years:

  • Raising the corporate minimum tax to 15 percent ($313 billion) for businesses over $1 billion.
  • Reducing prescription drug pricing ($288 billion).
  • Increasing IRS tax enforcement ($124 billion).
  • Closing the “carried interest” loophole and taxing it as income ($14 billion).

The summary states the bill would decrease the deficit by over $300 billion, reduce inflation, lower energy costs, increase clean energy production, reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, create electric vehicle tax credits, allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, cap out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare recipients at $2,000, and lower the ACA premiums.

Convinced that Manchin had wedded himself to the GOP, Republicans are furious about his betrayal  and “double-cross” in supporting a bill that will make Democrats look good and help the people of the U.S. As satirist Andy Borowitz wrote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expelled Manchin from the GOP for “collaborating with the enemy.” In humor, Borowitz concluded his humor column: 

“The party leader said that ‘what hurts the most’ is that Manchin agreed to a deal that mitigates climate change and lowers health-care costs. ‘He no longer deserves to call himself a Republican,’ he said bitterly.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wants to be DDT’s vice president, and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claims that a ban on assault-style weapons would force people to eat dogs—as happened in Venezuela—because no one can “protect themselves against a tyrannical government.” She missed the part in her civics class that the Constitution permits guns such as muskets to block a professional army and protect the new nation against foreign countries. Boebert also ignored the ten years in the U.S. when assault-style weapons were banned: no requirement to eat dogs. People in New Zealand aren’t required to eat dogs after assault-style weapons were banned in 2019 after a massacre of 51 people in mosques. Venezuela is a popular scapegoat of the dingy far-right who claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged by machines approved by Hugo Chavez. He died in 2013.

July 30, 2022

Udates, News on July 30, 2022

News from the past week have led to extensive updates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a bit of more news:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 11, 2022

Happenings from the Past Few Days – 4/11/22

During the past several weeks, the media had a lot to say about into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, after the discovery of her texts with former chief of staff Mark Meadows for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) strategizing the overturn of Joe Biden’s legal win in the 2020 presidential election. These weren’t the only conflicts of interest from his wife’s involvement in corporate and far-right political activities—or Thomas’ personal activities. Conservatives claimed Ginni Thomas has First Amendment rights and that spouses could do anything they want, that her lobbying has nothing to do with Thomas’ decision on the court.

The latest story, however, concerns the justice himself; this photo shows him supporting Herschel Walker, DDT’s candidate for Georgia’s U.S. senator. Walker will likely use it for his campaign. Although personal ethics have kept justices out of political campaigning until now, the Supreme Court has no mandate for judicial ethics, unlike for every other judicial position in the U.S. Republicans accused Ketanji Brown Jackson, confirmed as the first Black female justice about her prejudice for affirmative action although no white person has been accused of bias.  decisions. She plans to recuse herself because of her relationship with Harvard, but Thomas will almost surely not recuse himself from any cases involving Walker’s election. [Visual – Thomas Walker]

In a harbinger of future GOP control, a woman was jailed for homocide in southeastern Texas for a “self-induced” abortion. The Texas vigilante law against abortion is civil, not criminal, and state law specifically exempts people from criminal homicide charges for having abortions. For now. The DA’s office got an indictment from a grand jury with a $500,000 bail, but the backlash against the DA’s action forced him to release her. The hospital staff reported her miscarriage after she told them she tried to induce her abortion.

Fed up with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) rejection of democracy when he joined Republicans to block the right to vote, the “Coal Baron Blockade” gathered at the Grant Town Power plant. Police started arresting protesters where Manchin earns $500,000 a year from the use of coal waste from Enersystems, owned by Manchin’s son. Manchin also refused to vote for the Democratic Build Back Better Act because it promotes renewable sources and extends the Child Tax Credit, paid family leave, and other anti-poverty measures. West Virginia is the second poorest state in the U.S., up from the third poorest since Manchin went into leadership. In 2006, Manchin, then governor, oversaw the increase of electricity from Grant Town from $27.25 per megawatt to $34.25, giving West Virginians some of the highest electricity rate increases in the nation because of coal.  

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, paid almost $3 billion for 9.2 percent of Twitter’s private stock shares and went on its board. He planned to stop Twitter from blocking white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). The company said that his appointment was “contingent on a background check and formal acceptance”; Musk said he won’t be joining the board. Musk no longer has the board restriction of owning no more than 14.9 percent of the shares and can now publicly share all his comments about Twitter. Over the weekend, Musk tweeted removing the “w” from Twitter and questioned whether Twitter is “dying” because some of its most-followed accounts don’t often tweet. He criticized Twitter for not permitting free speech.

Six months after DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, left the White House, Saudi Arabia sank $2 billion into Kushner’s new private equity firm, Affinity Partners. The screening panel for investments opposed the loan based on its risk, but Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman mandated the loan within a few days. The money could be either payback for Kushner’s past favors while he was in the White House or hope for future ones if DDT wins another presidential term. Or both. Kushner led the defense of his good friend MBS after he approved the 2018 murder and dismemberment of U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi and orchestrated $110 billion in weapons sales to Saudi. In addition, Kushner had access to sensitive information after DDT overrode the denial of his security clearance from concern about his foreign connections. Kushner’s few investors are foreign. 

Kushner got twice as much—with more generous terms—than former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for his new fund. Munchin also did favors for Saudi Arabians. He chaired a committee vetting merger deals with foreign companies and “shaped” the new fund to permit foreign government investments.

Two years ago, DDT’s inaugural committee was investigated for selling access to foreign governments, money that could be moved on to DDT. He made at least $200 million from foreign deals while he was in the White House and had 3,403 conflicts of interest during the time, according to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). 

Saudis may be disappointed about DDT’s chance as a 2024 candidate. Although becoming president might keep him out of prison, he turns 78 several months before the election, and his health doesn’t look good. Recognizing that, at least nine leading Republicans have PACs collecting a war chest for possible presidential campaigns. Until candidates declare themselves, they don’t need to divulge any funding. Pence’s Advancing American Freedom spent $787,000 in the past year. Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-SC) group collected $650,000, far less than the $9.3 million gathered in 2020 by Nikki Haley’s Stand for America. One-third of that sum was spent on fundraising in 2021. Democrats with non-profit groups include Joe Biden, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, but they are more quiet than the GOP ones.

Texts to Meadows from DDT’s older son, Donald Trump Jr., two days after the 2020 election—before it was called for Biden—show he was a leader in trying to keep his father in the White House. Jr. asked Meadows to communicate his stragegies to “everyone that needs to see it.” His message:

 “It’s very simple … We have multiple paths[.] We control them all.”

Jr.’s texts laid out the same ones that DDT’s team pursued to spread lies about election fraud and pressure state and local officials: lawsuits in swing states (which were rejected) and “having a handful of Republican state houses put forward slates of fake ‘Trump electors.’” If those failed, Jr. wanted lawmakers to reject electoral results and vote in DDT. The texts may implicate DDT’s former trade adviser Peter Navarro as well as Meadows in corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the US.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice-chair of the House January 6 investigation committee, said it was “absolutely clear” that DDT and several people around him knew their actions were “unlawful” but “did it anyway.” She called it “a massive and well-organized and well-planned effort that used multiple tools to try to overturn an election.”

QAnon people have become fixated on sex-trafficking and education about racism but don’t mind kidnapping plots for elected officials—if they are Democrats. A Michigan jury acquitted two men charged with their plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; the other two weren’t convicted because of a hung jury. State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky, a Democrat, said that one of the acquitted men had threatened to kill her. The defense attorney used the excuse of dirty FBI tactics and “rough talk.” Talk about killing the governor, blowing up a bridge, and other violence wasn’t shocking, according to the men’s attorney. At the time of the threats and plots, DDT had supported violence in Michigan, but the rationale for acquittal was the men’s weakness, that they were easily influenced.

Facing competition from Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and DDT’s former VP Mike Pence for a platform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came out with—something. It wants continued immediate expulsion of noncitizens, even refugees, a talking point after Biden lifted the COVID excuse to not permit these people into the U.S.

As for the remainder of the platform, McConnell said it “will be focused on … crime, education, beefing up the defense of our country.” Missing from his “platform” are the economy (which is good), abortion (because anti-abortion is getting unpopular), taxes (which infuriated people after Scott’s desire for “skinning” poor people), and inflation (which McConnell can’t figure out a solutions).

In her article “Cancel Your Disney Vacation and Go to Dollywood Instead,” Joy Pullmann, managing editor of the conservative Federalist and research fellow at the Heartland Institute, gives the usual conservative damning comments about Disney because they objected to Florida’s “don’t say gay” law. Instead she advocates for Dolly Parton’s playground in Tennessee because Disney’s support for LGBTQ rights “works to undermine sexual wholeness. Pullmann also has a “fact-checking” column; she missed some of this information:

  • Dolly supports marriage equality.
  • Many in the LGBTQ community consider her a gay icon.
  • She advocated for trans people in the midst of North Carolina’s bathroom bill and called it bad legislation.
  • She frequently dedicates her hit “Jolene” to drag queens who dress like her at concerts.  
  • She contributed an Oscar-nominated hit song to Transamerica.

Thus far Pullmann doesn’t seem to have made any comments about the hilarity her article ensued.

September 12, 2021

Thoughts about 9/11 on Its 20th Anniversary

Yesterday saw no foreign attacks on the 20th anniversary of “9/11,” the date when 19 hijackers, including 15 men from Saudi Arabia, used airplanes to attack the United States, including at New York City’s World Trade Center. Following the death of approximately 3,000 people in the attacks, George W. Bush, appointed to president by five Supreme Court justices after a voting debacle in Florida, started two preemptive wars, one almost immediately in Afghanistan and the second 17 months later in Iraq. Almost 20 years later, the media has been consumed with President Joe Biden ending the Afghanistan conflict and air-lifting over 123,000 people out of the country. For 20 years, the power of 9/11 has loomed over the United States with no need to identify the year. 

After 20 years, the U.S. administration has admitted that domestic terrorism is a far bigger threat to the U.S. than international terrorism: QAnon conspiracy theories and white supremacy, promoted by conservative media such as the Fox network, proliferate throughout the nation with violent attacks. For years, conservatives were convinced that terror came only from outside the country as they ignored the growth of global anti-government extremism, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) protected QAnon believers and white supremacists because they were his voting base.

After a number of mass shootings, the Department of Homeland Security finally admitted the threats of domestic violent extremism, especially white supremacy, at the end of DDT’s term, and the conservatives’ attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 confirmed their position. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an expert in the field of polarization and extremism, explains the greater danger of domestic violent extremism: combined of “coherent ideologies,” it lacks the hierarchical organization of jihadi extremism. Run by online youth satire with a “countercultural, edgy resistance,” it uses faux-patriotic language of freedom, constitutional defense, and revolutionary action to grow the illegal militia movement. Participants are people dissatisfied with traditional authority, such as COVID lockdown and mask mandates, and are willing to violently oppose anything they don’t like. They spread disinformation from history, such as Holocaust denial, and from scientific theory, such as racism, through conspiracy theories.

Domestic terrorism moved from fringe to mainstream. People need training “to recognize and resist propaganda, disinformation, and the persuasive tactics of extremist rhetoric” as well as addressing social and political issues driving extremists’ grievances. “The widespread availability of weapons and a lack of effective gun control,” according to Miller-Idriss, has increased the domestic terrorism.

Twenty years ago conservatives hated the Taliban; now they want to emulate the Taliban in taking over the U.S. Domestic dissidents plan a rally on September 18 to celebrate the hundreds of criminals who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 to overturn the presidential election. The economy isn’t to blame: many of those involved in the movement have expensive cars and homes—like the St. Louis couple who pointed AR-15 rifles at peaceful protesters walking on the sidewalk in front of their McMansion home. As conservative David Frum, who wrote speeches of fear for George W. Bush’s victorious campaign, observed:  

“If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”

William Rivers Pitt points out that these former conservatives have even deserted the conservative beliefs. To them, people like John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Boehner, and Bush are left-leaning; now those who call themselves conservatives threaten election and school board officials with physical harm and death if they don’t do exactly what “conservatives” want them to do. “We will find you!” has become the far-right meme screamed at their elected officials. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), once a close friend of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), claims the U.S. will return to the Middle East and attack Afghanistan.

About the changes since 9/11/2001, Jonathan Last wrote this for the conservative Bulwark website:

“We have a minority-rule dynamic that did not exist 20 years ago. We have one political party that is explicitly anti-democratic in that its macro-strategy is no longer winning more votes, but winning by restricting voting and playing games with vote-counting and apportionment. We have some significant chunk of that political party which is nakedly authoritarian. And we have just lived through our government’s first failure at a peaceful transfer of power since the Civil War—a crisis that was serious enough to alarm senior military leaders that a coup might be in process.”

The events of 9/11 caused people in the U.S. to bond with W. Bush and other Republicans coming out on top in their battle against foreigners. Then the GOP stood for national security. Now the party represents what people call “freedom” and individualism, ignoring the common good and public safety while letting hundreds of thousands of people die from politicized anger about a small piece of cloth. Gone is any concern with vigilance and protection while danger from disease is ridiculed as non-existent. DDT hid any threat, silenced people attempting to warn the public, opposed testing, and mocked masks. His political attacks on anyone trying to warn people about COVID’s danger polarized the entire country.

DDT lost his election, but GOP leaders in Congress such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) accuse public health measure as “government control,” a GOP bugaboo. The GOP movement against public health has been far more effective than the 9/11 attack—3,000 deaths then compared to at least 677,000 deaths from COVID in 18 months and the equivalent to 9/11 every two days. The GOP proves it is no longer a party of national security.

Six years before 9/11, people watched domestic terrorism by government-hating extremists when two white U.S. citizens blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing at least 168 people. While the FBI devoted only 20 percent of its counterterrorism agents to domestic terrorism, these homegrown extremists killed more people in the U.S. with more attacks than international terrorists. Yet the terrorist statute doesn’t cover these terrorists with no one of the hundreds of people arrested is charged with terrorism. Even white supremacist Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black people at a Bible study didn’t receive a terrorism charge. Laws since the Oklahoma City bombing target international terrorists but not neo-Nazi groups or other domestic extremists. Social media platforms communicate domestic terrorism, and GOP governors are passing laws to allow posts to incite this violence in the name of protecting conservatism.  

DDT, criticized for spending the day calling a boxing match on 9/11, tried to redeem his self-esteem by repeating lies about 9/11. He “helped” after the attacks and “brought a “big crew” while he was “down there” near the World Trade Center, a claim with no evidence, and he lied about donating to support 9/11 victims. He did make a new claim, that he heard “creaks,” probably the “United States Steel Building … 50 stories tall” and said, “That building is going to come down.” DDT actually got a $150,000 grant for his property near the site, claiming it was “reimbursement” for helping to shelter people at the building. Paperwork shows he really claimed “rent loss,” “cleanup,” and “repairs.”

Striking a pugilistic tone, DDT avoided the Ground Zero official ceremony but briefly appeared In front of first responders at the 17th Precinct station house. He ignored his denigration of the police at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and said: 

“I’ll say it loud. You know, you’re not supposed to say that. We love the blue.”

Others honoring first responders yesterday in their remarks included Biden, VP Kamala Harris, W. Bush, and President Obama.

DDT’s live pay-per-view commentary for the Saturday night boxing match between 58-year-old Evander Holyfield and 44-year-old former UFC lightweight champion Vitor Belfort didn’t take long: Holyfield lost to Belfort’s TKO in the first round. After that event, DDT moved on to speak at the “Rally of Hope,” presented by Unification Church, a cult group often called the “Moonies” with deep ties to the GOP, where he praised the founders for “peace all other the world.” DDT also took credit for improving the security situation in the Korean peninsula and instigating “a policy of unprecedented strength” for the U.S. Jim Stewartson, founder of the anti-disinformation organization The Think Project, wrote on Twitter that the event was “deeply harmful and deceptive.” Former cult members described the group’s indoctrination process. Worshipping while carrying AR-15 rifles, the group has a 40-acre “safe haven” in Texas for “patriots.” 

The FBI released its first document about 9/11 in fewer than ten days after Biden’s executive order to make some files public. The heavily redacted report from April 2016 was about the supporting role from the Saudi Arabian government for the hijackers. Information came from November 2015 interviews. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission Report described little evidence about the link between Saudi Arabia government and the hijackers, but the FBI launched an investigation, Operation Encore, in 2006 for a decade. Watch for the release of more of these documents.

February 28, 2021

DDT Can’t Escape His History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27, 2021

Biden, Democratic Congress Moving Rapidly Forward

The year 2021 marks the 20th year of the U.S. preemptive war in the Middle East, starting with George W. Bush’s attack on Afghanistan. President Joe Biden delivered the latest bombings, seven against two Iran-backed militias smuggling weapons in Syria. The airstrikes hit buildings on a border crossing with Iraq. Iranian state television reported 17 fatalities, but Biden had no exact number. Biden said he intended to “send a message” about the militias’ aggressive actions in Iraq against the U.S. including last week’s rocket attack. Experts have differed on the appropriateness of Biden’s actions, but Biden hopes to keep the path open for renewing an anti-nuclear agreement in Iran.

Years after U.S. intelligence prepared a report on the 2018 torturing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, in the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, the new Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has declassified and released the document. According to the report, available here:

“Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi… The Crown Prince has absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

Although Congress mandated the information be made public, former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had covered up for MBS because of his friendship with Saudi Arabia and took no action about the vicious assault.

On the day before the report’s release, Biden called the 85-year-old Saudi king, instead of his son MBS, the crown prince and heir apparent, who has been giving orders. Biden may have had trouble reaching the king: sources say, “MBS has controlled his father’s switchboard.” The conversation skipped the report, but Biden “affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law” and discussed working on “mutual issues of concern.” Biden has eliminated U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The U.S. does not plan to charge MBS of any crimes, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the “Khashoggi Ban,” restricting visas for people acting on behalf of foreign governments directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.” The ban can also cover family members and will be applied immediately to 76 Saudis “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.” The Treasury Department also sanctioned a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al Asiri, and the crown prince’s personal protective detail, the Rapid Intervention Force (aka the “Tiger Squad”). Blinken echoed Biden’s earlier statement that the U.S. wishes to “recalibrate” the relationship with Saudi Arabia “to be more in line with our interests and our values.”

The Treasury Department also replaced sanctions on Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler for corruption in Africa after DDT rolled them with no explanation or announcement during his last few days in the White House. Gertler is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden also plans sanctions and other punishments for Russia for the SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign, interfering in elections, and the Kremlin’s use of a banned chemical weapon against anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny before jailing him.

On Thursday, three Republicans supported the Democratic representatives in a 224-206 vote to expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Equality Act amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include specific protections for LGBTQ people. The Republicans voting for the bill are John Katko (NY), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), and Tom Reed (NY); the other Republican support discrimination in the name of religious freedom. The legislation passed the House almost two years ago, but then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignored it. McConnell has become the minority leader, and the Democrats will likely address the House bill.

Early Saturday morning, the House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan by 219-212 with opposition from all Republicans and two Democrats, Kurt Schrader (OR) and Jared Golden (ME).  Although the Senate parliamentarian refuses to allow the hourly $15 minimum wage in the reconciliation bill permitting a 50-50 vote in the chamber without a filibuster, the House included it in their bill.

As usual with a Democratic president, Republicans are arguing for austerity after driving up the national debt with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Another false argument is that only a small portion of the $1.9 trillion goes to combating the virus, “actually used to put shots in people’s arms,” according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO). He ignores the funding for stimulus checks, school openings, unemployment payments, assistance for small businesses, and other types of expenditures the GOP legislators willingly passed while DDT was in the White House.

Biden insisted on changes in the bill’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans after they went to big businesses in the first bill instead of the mandated small business. He wants to guarantee loans to businesses with under 20 employees and restricts applications from these businesses for 14 days so that lenders can prioritize those businesses. Other changes open up loans to people with non-fraud felony convictions and to non-citizen business owners. In the last round, a large number of loans were flagged for potential fraud. A new mandate tackling “waste, fraud, and abuse across all federal programs” requires approval of PPP loans “contingent on passing [Small Business Association] fraud checks, Treasury’s Do Not Pay database, and public records.”

A proposed bill for a special commission probing the January 6 attack on the Capitol, such as the one which investigated the 9/11 attacks, is struggling because of GOP opposition. Objections started when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wanted a majority of Democrats on the commission. If Republicans approached the situation with a lack of bias, the equality might have worked. Yet Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) believes not only that DDT had nothing to do with the insurrection but also that it was a friendly group of people who were coming into the Capitol until the Capitol Police provoked them. Earlier, he had falsely asserted the seditionists were all on the left side, that all of them were not DDT’s supporters. Some GOP legislators, such as Steve Scalise (LA), second in House minority command, still maintain Biden is in the White House illegally and should be removed.

In addition, almost 150 GOP legislators of the 261 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the legal votes from the electoral college after the far-right attack on the Capitol to stop the vote—almost 40 percent of the number of Republicans in Congress. All those Republicans have a conflict of interest to be on a commission to investigate the insurrection and would likely sabotage its investigation and reporting.

On the Senate side, Republican Mitch McConnell insists the commission also investigate all Black Lives Matter protests. If not that, then it should concentrate only on Capitol security failures, avoiding any white supremacy terrorism issues. The approaches would be like telling the 9/11 Commission to focus only on planes hitting the World Trade towers without reviewing radical Islamist terrorism or focus on all international violence. The mandate of the 9/11 Commission was to examine “the facts and circumstances relating to the 9/11 terrorist attack . . . including those relating to intelligence agencies; law enforcement agencies; diplomacy; immigration, nonimmigrant visas, and border control; the flow of assets to terrorist organizations; commercial aviation; the role of congressional oversight and resource allocation; and other areas determined relevant by the Commission for its inquiry.”

After DDT’s administration ignored reunification of families who they separated at the southern border, Biden appointed a task force to find the parents of 611 children. In less than a month, 105 children have been returned to their families, and the group is working to reunify the others.

Biden revoked the following presidential orders and memoranda signed by DDT:

  • Cutting funding from cities DDT declared as “anarchist” havens.
  • Mandating all new federal buildings be designed in classical aesthetic.
  • Limiting the ability of federal agency employees to make regulatory decisions.
  • Calling for agency heads to review welfare programs and strengthen work requirements for some recipients.

After a month in the White House, Biden has an overall job approval rating of 56 percent with 54 percent for his handling the economy and 56 percent for foreign affairs. His best rating is 67 percent approval in handling the coronavirus. That rating might go up with the FDA approval of a third vaccine, the one-shot vaccination from Johnson & Johnson. In DDT’s last six weeks, people received 12 million vaccinations. Biden promised 100 million in the first 100 days: in his first five weeks, people have gotten 58 million, 1.6 million a day and rising.

On February 26, 2021, the number of daily U.S. infections is down (80,625), but the daily number of deaths is averaging above 2,000—the most recent number 2,216. Total U.S. infections – 29,136,912; deaths – 523,082.      

February 19, 2021

Biden: Mundane Can Be a Relief

Tomorrow celebrates the one-month anniversary of President Joe Biden in the Oval Office, and the contrast to the four years of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) in the White House is overwhelming. Before DDT, much news would have been mundane, reflecting ordinary governance—like now. News about DDT, however, usually reported his alienation of foreign allies, rejection of help for anyone except the wealthy and big business, and complete chaos as he rapidly changed his positions—sometimes before the end of a sentence.

Participating in the G7 summit, Biden pledged full commitment to NATO after DDT cursed it for four years. “Democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. In a major address to the Munich Security Conference, he warned that “democratic progress is under assault” in many parts of the world, including the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. also officially rejoined the Paris climate accord and supports a global effort to equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines, donating $4 billion over two years for the effort. After cancelation of the G7 summit, scheduled for the United States in 2020, the UK plans the 2021 summit in June at a Cornwall seaside resort. 

Biden also offered to join European nations in diplomacy with Iran and backed away from DDT’s attempt to restore UN’s sanctions on the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reported the U.S. plans to join them for the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. EU’s deputy secretary general asked the other original signers—Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China—to bring back the agreement, possibly with the U.S. as observer or guest instead of participant to work with Iran. The U.S. hopes to expand the agreement to control Iran’s growing missile ability as well as the country’s support of terrorist groups and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad.

After DDT violated the agreement, Iran compiled and enriched nuclear fuel over the 2015 limits. Biden started negotiations by withdrawing DDT’s demand of UN international sanctions against Iran. Other nations had dismissed insistence from former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for invoking the “snap back sanctions” because DDT had dropped out of the agreement. Biden is also lifting travel restrictions on Iranian officials allowing them to attend UN meetings in the U.S.

Biden plans to “recalibrate” the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, communicating with King Salman instead of his son Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). Next week, the U.S. will release the report of MBS’s torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and journalist, over two years ago. Biden also cancelled the arms sale to Saudi and criticized Saudi human rights abuses. DDT discounted his intelligence conclusions; protected MBS, a friend of DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner; and ignored a law passed by Congress in 2019 to submit an unclassified report about the Saudi involvement in the murder. DDT’s intelligence director John Ratcliffe’s excuse for violating the law was “a marginal ‘public interest’” in the declassification.  

In domestic issues, Biden will appoint Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a senior CMS official for President Obama, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion and insurance-market reforms. Expanding insurance coverage is a goal of Biden’s administration. Brooks-LaSure also wants to improve health coverage and address high rates of maternal mortality, much worse than in other industrialized nations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) promised Congress will approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill by March 14. The House plans to pass the bill next week and send it to the Senate perhaps Friday or Saturday, allowing that chamber to work through issues before returning it for final passage. Current $300 weekly emergency federal employment benefits expire on March 14, and the current bill would increase benefits to $400 until fall.

Also in the bill are $1,400 stimulus checks for those eligible to add to the $600 approved in December; $350 billion for city and states governments with massive revenue shortfalls; $160 billion for vaccines, increased testing and other health care assistance; approximately $130 billion to help schools reopen; food assistance and rent help; and an increased child tax credit. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told GOP  House members to vote “no” and called it “Pelosi’s Payoff to Progressives Act,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He accused the bill of keeping schools closed, bailing out blue states, and paying people not to work.

Although a split between the two parties in voting for the bill may seem to lack the “unity” Biden wants, the country is unified in supporting the relief. Earlier this month, 78 percent of people supported the stimulus checks, including 64 percent of Republicans. The entire bill has overall 68 percent support, and only 47 percent of Republicans oppose the bill. 

Republicans are suffering low polls compared to Biden’s 62 percent approval rating:

  • 19 percent: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • 27 percent: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
  • 26 percent: Congressional Republicans job performance
  • 23 percent: Approval of Republican Party direction 

Biden promised help for mayors in at least 17 large Texas cities and other county officials suffering loss of power because of the state grid’s failure and lack of potable water for almost half the state’s population. Republicans failed to get FEMA generators to hospitals so Biden is working with local governments to move them.

On Wednesday, Bill Magness, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said rolling blackouts started on Monday because the state’s entire power grid providing power to 90 percent of the state “seconds and minutes” from crashing. Without that action, Texas could have suffered uncontrolled blackouts for an “indeterminately long” crisis, possibly for months. Gov. Greg Abbott, who appointed members of the three-member ERCOT board, has called for their resignations. 

Biden has been replacing DDT’s incompetent, conservatively biased loyalists, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has two of them at the top of his list—Andrew Saul and David Black, Social Security Administration commissioner and deputy commissioner. Brown said they “cut the benefits that hardworking Americans have earned, attacked the Social Security Administration’s employees, denied beneficiaries due process, and needlessly increased disability reviews during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Current law protects them from firing except for “neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.”

To block unnecessary deportations, Biden signed orders and directives to reduce the excuses ICE agents use for deporting people and mandates greater oversight of ICE agents. The order is good for 90 days while the agency develops long-term guidelines, but ICE agents rebelled by attempting to release three men convicted of sex offenses against children, against Biden’s orders, until they were stopped. These orders lead into Biden’s immigration reform bill. 

President Ronald Reagan was responsible for the last big immigration reform bill in 1986 when Republicans believed in passing on “America’s triumph … into the next century and beyond.” Senate passed a bill in 2013 by 68 to 32 when, as Jennifer Rubin wrote, GOP Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Lindsey Graham (SC) “still sounded like Reagan.” Since then, Graham’s best friend Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) died, and Rubio decided he wanted to be president. And the House killed the Senate bill.

The paths to citizenship including not only Dreamers who arrived in the U.S. as children but also farmworkers and refugees fleeing danger in their home countries provide immediate eligibility for green cards and applications for citizenship after three years. Others will need to wait eight years. all need to have arrived in the U.S. before January 1, 2021. The bill also increases available diversity visas and assigns more funding to immigration courts and technology. Other provisions include “increased border technology to interdict drug traffickers and smugglers, higher penalties for employers who exploit undocumented laborers in the United States, and increased funding for immigration courts.”

The current administration rejected an anti-immigrant agreement signed by illegally appointed Ken Cuccinelli, acting DHS Deputy Secretary, on the day before Biden’s inauguration. The document gave the ICE union veto power over any changes and policies by the new administration. Biden had 30 days to “approve or disapprove” the directive; he denied it Tuesday, hours before the deadline. A whistleblower exposed the document as part of a complaint into Cuccinelli’s corrupt actions.

Biden told Congress the Equality Act has his full support. Adding sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation to protected classes in the Civil Rights Act, the bill provides complete anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community in areas like housing, credit, employment, public spaces and services, and federal programs. LGBTQ+ people have no federal civil rights protections and can be denied the rights of heterosexual people in 29 states. The new bill is the fourth one with these protections since the first one was introduced in 1974. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in the workplace also covers sexual orientation and gender identity, but the ruling does not list other areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. The decision also lacks the power of a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president.

One of DDT’s actions in his last year was to remove conservation of water by passing new regulations against low-flow toilets and increasing water flow in many other household appliances and fixtures. Biden plans reviews of these regulations and other DDT’s energy-wasting rules such as using LED lighting, saving not only resources but also money in utility bills.

January 2, 2021

DDT: Week 206 – Sabotage, Blocking Change

President-elect Joe Biden continues to face sabotage from the far-right loyalists of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Dana Milbank lays much of the responsibility in the hands of DDT’s budget director, Russell Vought. During Vought’s two years in the office, the national debt increased by $6 trillion while predicting a 2.8 percent GDP growth last February, just before the economy’s collapse. Milbank writes:

“But what Russ Vought is very good at is sabotage. He’s sabotaging national security, the pandemic response and the economic recovery — all to make things more difficult for the incoming Biden administration… He has blocked civil servants at OMB from cooperating with the Biden transition, denying President-elect Joe Biden the policy analysis and budget-preparation assistance given to previous presidents-elect, including Barack Obama and Trump himself. Transition figures warn that it will likely delay and hamper economic and pandemic relief and national security preparation (the Pentagon is the other key agency resisting transition cooperation with the incoming administration).”

Milbank tells about Vought’s past:

“He was the author of a Sept. 4 memo attacking critical race theory and canceling racial sensitivity programs, which he called ‘divisive, anti-American propaganda.’

“Vought was also the mastermind of Trump’s executive order that attempts to reclassify tens of thousands of civil servants who work in policy roles so they can be easily fired…

“He was a key figure in the Ukraine imbroglio, freezing military aid to the country as Trump pushed for Ukraine’s president to announce a probe of Joe and Hunter Biden and the Democrats… Vought also ignored a subpoena during the impeachment inquiry.

“[In] a 2016 article … he wrote: ‘Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, his Son, and they stand condemned.’

“Vought spent seven years on the vanguard of conservative extremism as a senior official at Heritage Action, the political wing of the Heritage Foundation…

“Before Heritage, Vought worked for the right-wing House Republican Study Committee whose job, he said, ‘is to push leadership as far to the right as is possible and flat out oppose it when necessary.’

“At an antiabortion rally, he claimed credit for blocking Planned Parenthood’s funding. He infuriated Democrats by refusing to share projections with Congress…

“He ran the botched White House response to the 2019 government shutdown, issuing legally dubious decisions and, as one Republican budget expert told The Post, ‘making up the rules as they go along.’ It became the longest-ever shutdown and ended in Trump’s surrender.”

Now Vought is in charge of destroying the transition—and the U.S. along with it.

The Secret Service is planning changes in its protection for Biden because of existing white House agents’ loyalty to DDT. While working for DDT, some agents told colleagues not to wear masks during trips, perhaps the reason over 130 agents tested positive for COVID-19 or were quarantined because of exposure to the virus. In addition, former agent detail leader Anthony Ornato also worked as DDT’s chief of staff. Ornato helped coordinate the photo op when DDT walked through the cleared Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible and his people attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas.

One country nervous about Biden’s upcoming administration, Saudi Arabia, departs the golden years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). For four years, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam committed human rights abuses and even killed a U.S. journalist with no objection from DDT who promoted the sale of huge quantities of weapons to the Saudis used to kill large numbers of people in the Middle East, including Yemeni civilians. DDT sided with Saudi Arabia over Qatar where the U.S. has a military base. In possible steps to appease the new administration, the Saudis are considering the release of women’s rights activist Loujain al-Haltoul, sentenced in 2018 to almost six years in prison for defying the country’s ban on women driving, and a resolution to its four-year blockade of Qatar.

This week, Biden made three appointments to the Department of Defense.

Kathleen Hicks, nominated for deputy secretary of defense, has a history of posts in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

Colin Kahl, another former Pentagon official overseeing Middle East Affairs, has been appointed for undersecretary of defense for policy.

Kelly Magsamen, former principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs now at the Center for American Progress, has been named Pentagon chief of staff.

Meanwhile DDT continues his “scorch the earth” policies and killings. He headed home early from Mar-a-Lago before the large New Year’s Eve party where he had promised to appear. Those who attended still managed to make it a grand superspreader event with mask-less proximity and kept Mar-a-Lago fiscally afloat by paying over $1,000 a ticket each. Before he left the club, DDT had a tantrum about his wife’s renovations of his living quarters and demanded the removal of the white marble and dark wood.  

Trying to get the heat off Russia’s paying bounties to the Taliban to attack U.S. troops, DDT declassified unconfirmed information about China paying people in Afghanistan to attack U.S. soldiers. Months ago, news reports revealed Russians gave bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

DDT also completely ignored the Nashville (TN) explosion taking out AT&T communication from Georgia to Kentucky. The alleged perpetrator was a 63-year-old white man who supposedly died in the explosion. According to reports, the man believed in conspiracy theories such as “aliens and UFO’s began attacking the earth” on 9/11, and the world is controlled by reptilians and lizard people masquerading as humans. The man’s girlfriend told the police over a year ago he was building bombs, but police discounted her information and didn’t follow up on it.

Three federal executions will be DDT’s way of honoring the 91st anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthdate; one of the killings is of a mentally-disturbed woman

DDT extended the ban on some immigrant work visas for three months, including the diversity visa lottery allowing people from underrepresented countries to come to the U.S, the H-1B tech program, and the H-2B non-agricultural seasonal workers.

Customs and Border Protection are illegally expelling newborn U.S. citizens from the country with their migrant mothers without giving any citizenship proof. CBP is lying about the women, asylum seekers, voluntarily leaving the U.S.

Although DDT cannot defund foreign aid, he plans to freeze it for the last 18 days. 

The sinking ships are still leaving the rat. One resignation came from U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania David Freed, who fueled DDT’s claim of widespread voter fraud when he told him about nine discarded mail-in ballots in Luzerne County. The election worker had made a mistake, she was fired, and the ballots were retrieved. Yet Freed improperly made a public declaration, and DDT turned a preliminary investigation into a conspiracy theory.

Texas owes Pennsylvania’s Lt. Gov. John Fetterman $3 million because of its bounty on cheating voters, and he isn’t letting them forget. Fetterman claims Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick—the man who suggested old people should die of coronavirus to open up businesses—should pay him the money because of Fetterman’s proof of voter fraud, all three cases against Republicans. Fetterman also pointed out that his legal case is far stronger than the false one for election fraud Texas sent to the Supreme Court.

After the deaths of 346 people in the 2018 and 2019 crashes, the Boeing 737 Max was grounded for 20 months until the FAA permitted the plane style to return to the skies. Within 34 days, an engine issue in a 737-8 Max forced the plane to divert to Tucson (AZ) four days ago.

DDT is transferring up to $700 million from low-paid wage earners to their employees by giving tips for waiters and waitresses to back-of-the-house employees. That money can then be used for minimum wages. With the change, tipped people can be required to do non-tipped work for their minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour and under the federal minimum wage in half the states. Employers can then fire some of the regular minimum wage employees.

The favorite bankers of DDT and Jared Kushner at Deutsche Bank, Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi, have unexpectedly resigned after the Manhattan DA’s office and New York AG subpoenaed Deutsche Bank about its lending relationship with the Trump Organization.  DDT owes Deutsche Bank about $330 million, and the loans come due in 2023 and 2024. If he doesn’t repay the bank, it can collect on his personal assets. Last year, the bank’s anti-money-laundering specialists recommended DDT’s and Kushner’s transactions be reported to the Treasury Department’s financial crimes watchdog, but executives failed to follow through.

As the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths skyrockets, so does the number of hospitalizations. The total ratcheted up to over 125,000, up from 100,000 five days earlier. Although totals drop from lack of recording on weekends and holidays, new infections in the U.S. for the second day of 2021 are 232,227. Deaths are 2,107.

December 26, 2020

Unity of Kwanzaa, Divisiveness of DDT

Saturday, the first day of the seven-day Kwanzaa, a non-religious holiday to honor Black peoples’ ancestral roots, does not have a religious purpose. Everyone could follow its principles, those of working together to benefit all in a form of Democratic socialism, instead of tearing society apart. Kwanzaa for each day:

  • Unity: striving for and maintaining unity in the family, community, nation and race.
  • Self-determination: defining, naming, creating and speaking for oneself.
  • Collective work and responsibility: uplifting the community by solving problems together.
  • Cooperative economics: economically uplifting the community by working together to build and maintain businesses.
  • Purpose: returning the community to its greatness.
  • Creativity: leaving the community more beautiful and beneficial.
  • Faith: believing in the people, parents, teachers, leader, and the struggle’s victory.

People can thank Democratic socialism for vaccinations against COVID-19. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) takes credit for the vaccine in a short time, but it comes from decades of medical research and development along with public-sector funding. Distribution comes from public funding—Democratic socialism in health departments. To those who claim God will prevent them from getting sick or dying, He doesn’t seem to be doing a good job these days.  

People who refer to Democratic socialism as the “radical left” and fight for almost nonexistent government involvement ignore the ways they benefit from the philosophy in the United States: police, fire departments, libraries, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, education, unemployment, workers’ compensation, food stamps, welfare to those in need such as farmers and oil companies, the military, transportation, roads and highways, parks and recreation, Federal Reserve Bank, courts, prisons, water and sewer, utilities in some areas—the basis for everyone’s everyday life.  

According to Democratic socialism, both economy and society should be run democratically to meet public needs, not to make profits for a very few. Corporate bureaucracies with business executives and wealthy stockholders should not control society by making decisions for the few and taking all the profits, leaving workers with unlivable low wages. Regulations and tax incentives can encourage companies to act in the public interest.

The Cares Act, passed in March to help people suffering from COVID-19 intended to help small businesses gave tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars to big businesses. The new, not-yet-signed stimulus bill makes forgiven loans tax deductible—unlike charitable contributions—and creates a commission to oversee safety in horse racing. Republicans gave $6.3 billion in tax breaks to wealthy corporate backers but couldn’t manage another 25 percent to the bill for $2,000 checks. Seven months of COVID-19 gave U.S. billionaires an additional $931 billion, almost as much as the stimulus bill costs taxpayers.

Over two months ago, the top 1 percent of people in the U.S. owned 30.4 percent of all the nation’s household wealth while the bottom 50 percent had 1.9 percent of the assets. The wealthiest 10 percent have over 88 percent of all corporate equity and mutual fund shares, yet people look at the changes in stock markets to judge the economic health of the U.S. Under largely GOP control, these figures of income inequality, although currently skyrocketing, continue the increasing inequality during the past four decades. Income follows the same pattern.

Fair elections are another part of democracy. DDT claimed he would be working while at Mar-a-Lago, but Saturday he spent his time tweeting attacks against the recent election, ranting against the Supreme Court, the DOJ, the FBI, the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), GOP senators, and the U.S., which he called a third world nation.  DDT also called President-elect Joe Biden a “fake president.” Saying the election would be rigged if he lost, DDT has kept that promise to lie about election fraud. Now he claims he has “absolute proof” about non-existent widespread fraud and whines that no one will pay attention to it. There’s no evidence of any widespread fraud.

Another DDT lie comes from his mischaracterization of a year-old report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz. The IG found no evidence of political bias in the investigation into Russian interference during the 2016 campaign, only criticizing the handling of four FISA applications putting DDT’s adviser Carter Page under surveillance for 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions.” DDT maintained:

“The details of the report are far worse than anything I would have even imagined…This was an overthrow of government, this was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.”

Frank Figliuzzi, former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI,who worked under Robert Mueller at the bureau, said DDT had never seen the report and is “lying about it.”

DDT may not have been re-elected, but his incessant lies about election fraud makes Russia very, very happy, according to its state media. After its president, Vladimir Putin, recognized Joe Biden as the U.S. president-elect, the media expressed sympathy that “our candidate”—“poor, poor Trump”—will be leaving the Oval Office. The bright side of DDT’s loss to Russia, however, comes from DDT’s successful destruction of the U.S. political system. Russian political expert, Alexei Martynov, said, “They burned the reputation of U.S. institutions during these elections.” Evgeny Popov, the host of Russia’s 60 Minutes, added, “Let’s be glad about that,” and Deputy of the Russian Duma Alexei Zhuravlyov concluded, “The worse for them, the better for us.” Popov pointed at the map to show how the U.S. is 50-50 divided—badly polarized.

According to the Russians, U.S. Republicans are disturbed because Biden is putting minorities into top-level positions. Dmitry Mikheev, who claims to be familiar with conservatives, said, “The whites aren’t being allowed in there. [The GOP] got scared.” Popov agreed, “And the head of the Department of Defense is Black. What is this? That must have been the red line.” Co-host Olga Skabeeva used racial slurs on Russian 60 Minutes, fitting the Russian tactic of sowing discord as described in Robert Mueller’s report from U.S. intelligence and supported by the Senate report. The GOP’s delight in DDT’s insulting minorities and vilifying immigrants works better than Russian disinformation as calls for division and violence comes from inside the White House.

Death defines DDT’s legacy—killing civilians in the Middle East, gutting environmental regulations, endorsing domestic violence, promoting rampant hunger, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to die from COVID-19, and executing more federal prisoners than any other person in the Oval Office since the 19th century. One execution, however, may not happen. The DOJ illegally scheduled the execution of Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, during a stay of execution, and a judge vacated her latest execution date for January 12. This month, Montgomery’s lawyers contracted COVID-19 while visiting their client and asked for additional time to file a clemency petition. The execution can’t be scheduled until January 1, 2021, and a death-row inmate must be notified at least 20 days before the execution—in this case, January 21—which is the day after Biden’s inauguration. Two other federal inmates scheduled to be executed in January are positive for coronavirus, and their attorneys are also seeking delays. Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.”

After a 17-year hiatus, DDT’s DOJ executed ten federal prisoners in 2020, the total killed by Grover Cleveland in 1896. One of the executed men wasn’t present at any murder, and jury members now question the capital punishment. Three of the ten have been during DDT’s lame-duck session, the first series of federal executions in this time period since the 19th century. Until 2020, only three other federal inmates were executed since the reinstatement of the penalty in 1988, and no federal inmates were executed since 2003. State executions are at a 37-year low, only seven in five southern states during 2020 and all before July 8. State death sentences dropped to 18, the fewest since the Supreme Court struck down capital punishments statutes in 1972.

DDT also plans to cover up for the Saudi Arabian murders of U.S. residents—the three U.S. servicemen killed by a Saudi officer at Pensacola Naval Air Station a year ago and the Washington Post journalist killed at the Saudi embassy in Turkey over two years ago. Eight other service members were wounded in the Pensacola attack. The service member’s families have never heard from the White House and are still waiting for the attack’s solution and the Saudi royal family to take care of them, as DDT promised. He is considering legal immunity for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from a federal lawsuit for targeting a former intelligence officer for assassination, leading to the dismissal of these other cases against MBS as well as Saudi’s involvement in 3,000 people killed in the U.S. on 9/11/01. Such action removes any legal actions in other murders of U.S. residents. With the Saudi officer murderer having “significant” ties to al-Qaeda, the killings mark the first successful deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. In justifying his obsequious attitude toward the Saudis, DDT says, “We do a lot of business with them.” By that, he may mean personal business with his companies.

COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are due to hit 20 million by the end of the year; deaths will rise to 350,000. DDT never mentions them.

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