Nel's New Day

November 12, 2022

Dems Take Senate; Snowflake GOP Whines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even conservative tabloid New York Post ridiculed DDT. 

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

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

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

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

NBC News senior reporter Ben Collins tweeted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 7, 2022

News for the Week – October 6, 2022

Hurricane Ian has passed, and the House January 6 investigative committee has scheduled a hearing for October 13 at 1:00 pm EST. They picked the time because Fox network refuses to film hearings during evening prime time.

Part of the right-wing Proud Boys’ inner circle, Jeremy Bertino of Belmont (NC), a longtime lieutenant of its chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, has pled guilty to seditious conspiracy. He may be a key witness against his five former colleagues, leaders with ties to influential supporters of former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). They face a December trial on charges including plotting to forcibly stop the presidential transition culminating in the January 6 insurrection. Five members of the Oath Keepers are already on trial for the same charge, and four members of the far-right group already pled guilty along with two other Proud Boys. Bertino’s guilty plea and illegal possession of firearms as a convicted felon could be punished by 51 to 63 months in prison. A search of his home revealed six firearms including two semiautomatic AR-15 style rifles with scopes.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), an occasional moderate, is leaving Congress within the next two months to become president of the University of Florida. The state’s GOP governor, Pete Ricketts, can fill the open seat through the 2024 election. Sasse’s term, his second, lasts through 2026, meaning the replacement would have only a two-year term before a reelection.

As in the past, DDT bashed Sasse, one of seven senators voting to convict DDT in his second impeachment. Conservative author Nick Adams posted that DDT should “buy a house in Nebraska and… [Nebraska] Governor Pete Ricketts should appoint President Donald J. Trump to the US Senate to replace Ben Sasse.” DDT has praised DDT for his Adams’ work, Retaking America: Crushing Political Correctness. DDT wrote on Truth Social that he is “looking forward to partnering with Nebraska’s great Republican Party to get a real senator … not another fake RINO.” A new governor in 2023 could appoint the term-limited Ricketts to replace Sasse.

Some of DDT’s gubernatorial candidates are so bad that GOP leaders support their Democratic opponents:

Kansas: Former Gov. Bill Graves is supporting Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly over state AG Derek Schmidt, who worked in Graves administration. Graves joins 160 other Kansas Republicans endorsing Kelly. Schmidt’s relationship with Republicans is so bad that GOP state senator Dennis Pyle is running against him as an independent. Since Kelly became governor, she balanced the budget, funded public schools, restored infrastructure projects, removed the food tax, and cut $1 billion in taxes while shattering records for new business investments and landed major economic development opportunities.

Michigan: Over 150 state Republicans launched a coalition of business leaders, former state lawmakers, and ex-congressman, and top staff from the GOP administrations of Gov. John Engler and Rick Snyder to support Democratic incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection bid. The former head of the Michigan GOP is also part of the group

Pennsylvania: GOP leaders, including former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former Allegheny County state Rep. Jim Kelly, announced they support AG Josh Shapiro running for governor against Doug Mastriano. Other GOP officials including two former congressmen, a former state House speaker, and a former lieutenant governor, added their endorsements.

In Maryland, Democratic Wes Moore is ahead of DDT’s gubernatorial choice Dan Cox by 32 percent to replace term-limited Republican Larry Hogan.  Massachusetts Dem candidate Maura Healy has a 99-percent chance to beat DDT’s gubernatorial choice, Geoff Diehl, replacing term-limited GOP Charlie Baker. In this year’s gubernatorial races, 17 lean GOP and 16 Democratic with three states in the middle, according to fivethirtyeight.com.  (Interactive map)

Gas prices going up? Blame Saudi Arabia, not President Joe Biden. Not only did OPEC cut oil supplies. but Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco also bought the biggest oil refinery in the U.S. at Port Arthur (TX) in 2017. Aramco has full ownership of 24 distribution terminals and exclusive rights to sell Shell-branded gasoline and diesel in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, the eastern half of Texas and the majority of Florida.

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, is consuming the media with a “on-again” position of buying Twitter after vacillating so long that he was headed for a trial on October 17 for trying to break the deal. Over six months ago, he offered to buy the company after he discovered he couldn’t make changes as a shareholder, limited to 15 percent of Twitter stocks. Since then he has badmouthed the company, driving down its shares by almost one-third at one time while offering to finalize the deal with a large drop in the original $44 billion he offered.

When the deal when completely sour, Twitter took Musk to court, but he didn’t want to be deposed and went back to the original agreement of $54.20 a share if the social media company dropped all litigation. Musk asked for additional time to put together financing because most of his assets are tied up with other companies such as Tesla. That company’s shares have dropped by one-third in the past six months, and Musk’s financial backers for Twitter have started to back out. The judge gave Musk until October 28 to finalize the deal. Earlier offering to sell for less, Twitter’s lawyers said that Musk’s “proposal is an invitation to further mischief and delay.”

Like DDT with his Truth Social, Musk has grandiose ideas for his business model—an all-purpose app for messaging, shopping, video gaming, and web browsing, similar to China’s WeChat app. He envies TikTok’s algorithm keeping users hooked and wants a creator-friendly platform focusing more on video. He even has a name, X—the everything app. In addition, Musk wants users to pay for each posted tweet with small amounts of the cryptocurrency DogeCoin and plans to allow DDT back on Twitter to move his QAnon conspiracies and calls for violence into the mainstream venue.

This week, Musk tweeted proposals for “Ukraine-Russia Peace”: give Russia the illegally annexed Crimea, stop Ukraine from joining NATO, ensure water supply to Ukraine, and ask the UN to run another set of referenda in eastern Ukraine allowing Russia to overtake the regions if Russia wins. Along with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelinsky, over 60 percent of the more than one million respondents disagreed, but Musk attributed the vote to the “biggest bot attack I’ve ever seen.” Tesla shares dropped 9 percent, and Musk lost $15 billion from his $252 billion but regained most of it after he said he was going through with the sale.

Buying Twitter means Musk takes on a lot of baggage. The company did win a Dutch case at The Hague in its claim that Twitter did enough by deleting lies spread by three men who claimed a Dutch town was the site of a satanic pedophile ring. Dozens of people “flocked to the municipality of 34,000 people to lay flowers and messages in a graveyard of so-called victims after conspiracy theorists latched on to the claims.”

Yet the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case this term to determine whether tech platforms should be immune from punishment for harmful content posted by users. It regards a woman killed by the Islamic State militant group in Paris during a 2015 attack. She was one of over 100 people killed by ISIS that year, and the family claims videos fed algorithmically on YouTube inspired the extremists. The intent of the SCOTUS case is deciding whether to retain a legal provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Section 230, that protects internet companies from liability for users’ posts. Democrats assert tech companies use Section 230 to avoid accountability for hate speech.

Bits from the White House:

President Joe Biden has pardoned everyone federally convicted of simple possession of cannabis under federal law, over 6,500 people, and urges governors to follow suit. Although states are moving toward legal use of cannabis for medical and recreational use, the substance remains illegal under federal law. Biden also asked Health and Human Services Secretary and the DOJ AG to “expeditiously” review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law.

VP Kamala Harris was in a one-car accident when her Secret Service driver hit a curb in a tunnel hard enough that the tire had to be replaced and bringing Harris’ motorcade to a standstill. She was transferred to another vehicle and taken to the White House, but the Secret Service reported only “a mechanical failure” in an alert.

The White House announced a “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” to hold technology companies accountable for internal biases threatening the civil rights by ensuring AI programs are developed with built-in protections. Examples include discrimination against student loans for those who attend a Historically Black College or University and an algorithm recommending child welfare agencies investigate families of Black children.  

Because of the CHIPS and Science Act, providing $52 billion in public investment in semiconductor manufacture, Micron will spend up to $100 billion during the next 20 years to build up to four plants in upstate New York near Syracuse to manufacture computer chips. The company estimates that the project will create almost 50,000 jobs, with about 9,000 of those in the plants themselves

The GOP complains the loan relief may help Blacks more than Whites because of the racial income gap. Will Republicans then sue to take all benefits away because more Blacks are in poverty than Whites as they reject equal voting rights for Blacks?

Alabama has a gender-based dress code: AL.com reporter Ivana Hrynkiw was told her skirt was too short to view an execution at a prison and open-toe shoes were unsuitable although she had worn the skirt on her job multiple times with no questioning. The prison official approved rain gear—waterproof waders—she borrowed from a photographer and her gym tennis shoes. A judge told a staffer for another judge was told she couldn’t go into the courtroom wearing a pantsuit. And more stories about Alabama sexism!

September 5, 2022

News – September 4, 2022

A few catchups from the past week:

While Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) raves about a rigged election in a Pennsylvania rally, one of his own was convicted for trying to rig a siphoning scam to take votes from a Democratic candidate. The Seminole County (FL) GOP chair was found guilty of using his cousin as a “ghost” candidate,” an increasingly common practice in Florida, through putting a fake candidate on the ballot advertised as a progressive to take votes from the legitimate Democrat candidate. Floridian Republicans have also changed voter registrations from Democratic voters to the GOP without consent, and several Republicans in the retirement Villages voted twice. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has created state election police, but they are not investigating these election frauds. 

DeSantis’ election force has also not investigated him for another voter fraud, arresting 20 people with one of them dragged to jail in his underwear at 6:00 am. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported the right of released felons to vote, but GOP legislators said they had to first pay all their fees and fines. Chaos reigned with no system to let people know if they were ineligible to cast a ballot. DeSantis’ appointees approved the completed registration cards for felons so the duly registered ex-felons didn’t know they were disenfranchised. To convict those charged, prosecutors must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the arrested people knew their votes were illegal. DeSantis just want to make eligible voters afraid to cast ballots, destroying democracy.

At least 150,000 Jackson (MS) residents continue to lack safe drinking water, and the mayor said they face “a much longer road ahead” before services are fully restored. Relying on bottled water, they can’t take baths, wash dishes, etc. The city said that “all of Jackson should now have pressure,” useless for most personal needs except flushing toilets. After decades of neglect, the Pearl River flooding set off problems at one of two water treatment plants, but residents had already been under a boil-water order when the pumps failed. The crisis is a combination of poor infrastructure, climate change, and systemic racism as a Democratic city government tried to deal with a Republican governor and state legislature.

The governor accused the city of mismanagement two months after the federal EPA system violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In March 2020, the EPA found the potential for bacteria such as E.Coli and issued an emergency order to fix the deficiencies. Jackson residents lost access to clean water for weeks in 2021 when the pipes froze. A fire knocked all five pumps at one treatment plant out of service, and last October lawyers sued for “hundreds if not thousands” of children being poisoned by lead in the water. As white people fled the city, 20,000 between 2000 and 2010, Jackson lost both tax revenue and institutional support as In 40 years, the population of Jackson dropped from 200,000 in 1980 and over from 50 percent white to 80 percent Black.    

The long tentacles of health care provided by the Catholic Church reaches farther than hospitals, as students at Ohio’s Oberlin College discovered last week. Campus student health services would provide contraception only for health problems other than preventing pregnancy, and only victims of sexual assault can receive emergency contraception. Oberlin outsourced the student health services to a Catholic health agency which follows religious directives prohibiting contraception to prevent pregnancy—and blocking gender-affirming care. The college developed an alternative plan to offer reproductive health services to students on campus, but some states’ guidelines are similar to the Catholic Church. About 40 percent of reproductive age women live “in areas with high or dominant Catholic hospital market share,” according to a researcher of data in 2020. Many people don’t realize that the Catholic Church controls their health care because the information is concealed. Options of patients, especially low-income ones, can be disproportionately restricted.

Texas spent $12.7 million to bus migrants to the East Coast–$1,400 per person. A one-way, same-day ticket from El Paso costs $291 to New York City and $324 to Washington, D.C., and same-day flights are under $400. Gov. Greg Abbott is asking for private donations for his project but received only $167,828 as of August 17. His goal is to “incite fear among Americans,” a typical Republican strategy, but busing saves migrants money by taking them closer to their destinations.

After DDT spent months attacking House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), warfare is breaking out between McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm. Like many other Republicans privately express, McConnell doubts the “quality” of DDT-picked candidates winning primaries, fearing both the Senate and House this year will be lost—again. Scott attacked McConnell in an op-ed for the conservative Washington Examiner, accusing “the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle” of “trash-talking our Republican candidates.” Without giving McConnell’s name, Scott’s message was clear, coming two weeks after McConnell expressed concern about the GOP taking back the Senate in 2022. Some of DDT’s infamous candidates for Senate are Blake Masters (AZ), Herschel Walker (GA), and Mehmet Oz (PA). Earlier this year, Scott irritated McConnell by releasing the radically-right “Plan to Rescue America” which alienated many affiliated voters.

Scott is also in trouble for the lack of money in the GOP Senate campaign arm. By the end of July, the committee collected a record $181.5 million but spent over 95 percent of it, $26 million just on texting people to donate. The remaining $23.2 million is less than half of the Democratic committee stash leading up to the November election in two months. Scott is getting blamed for not bringing in money, and his group is canceling bookings for advertising, ones they can’t get back even if they manage to raise the money.

The Senate funding committee decided to not pick anyone in the primaries after DDT’s endorsements. In the past decade, it avoided out-of-the mainstream nominees who might lose in the general election; this year many GOP candidates winning the primaries haven’t run for office before. Their negative, expensive primaries left favorable ratings underwater, and they trail in many battlegrounds with well-funded Democratic opponents. By mid-August, Dems outspent their opponents by four-to-one in Ohio, over double in Arizona, and almost two-to-one in Nevada as well as by $14 million in Georgia.  

Scott gained more notoriety by criticizing President Joe Biden’s Delaware “staycation” while on a luxury yacht in Italy during the Florida primaries. He claimed he had planned his trip to Italy long ago because of a wedding anniversary, but the primaries were also planned well in advance. Presidents typically take off a few weeks in August because of the annual congressional recess for the month, and Scott defrauded the government out of Medicare funds while CEO of a large Florida health system.

After 28 months, litigation about DDT’s financial records going to a House committee has reached a settlement: DDT’s former accounting firm Mazurs must turn over some records to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Records are narrowed to financial ties between DDT or his businesses with foreign countries for 2017-2018 and documents between November 2016 and 2018 for DDT’s company holding the lease with the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel. Earlier this year, Mazurs said it had fired DDT and that the firm’s financial statements prepared to DDT “should no longer be relied upon” because it used DDT’s figures.

Last month, despite DDT’s legal opposition, a three-judge appellate court agreed with a lower court decision that the Treasury Department should provide DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. DDT’s DOJ allowed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to block the committee from obtaining the returns with the excuse that Democrats wanted them for partisan reason. The committee successfully renewed the request after Biden’s inauguration, seeking DDT’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. 

A Virginia state judge dismissed two cases attempting to bar the public display and sale of two books the plaintiff alleged obscene under an obscure state law. By taking this action, the judge also struck down the law, finding it unconstitutional. Filing by lawyers, presently a GOP state assembly delegate and a former GOP congressional candidate, assert the award-winning graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and well-reviewed A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas were “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” The statute does not allow for a work to be “obscene for minors” and failed to prove that the books are obscene at all. The plaintiffs’ declaration violated both the U.S. and the Virginia constitutions. One of the lawyers, who lost his June 21 primary for Congress by 40 points, tried to build a case for “parental rights.” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, said that the plaintiffs tried to weaponize the use of obscenity laws against books that don’t “fit their worldview.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing abortions for beneficiaries if the person is endangered by pregnancy or the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. The VA has made this medical procedure available before but amended its regulations for safety reasons after the Supreme Court and states overturned Roe v. Wade. The rule will be available for a 30-day comment after being published on September 1.

April 9, 2022

GOP Brings QAnon into the Mainstream

Before the 2016 election, QAnon conspiracy theories caused a man to shoot up a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. He had become convinced it was used for a sex-trafficking operation run by presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Six years ago, this insane belief came from the conservative fringe; now it QAnon conspiracy theories are in the GOP mainstream. In recent confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson, front and center on three days of television, several GOP senators demonstrated a non-stop obsession with many of these theories, clearly voiced in the multiple false accusations and irrelevant questions.

In a poll last year, 23 percent of Republicans believed that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

Now Republicans say people supporting Jackson prove they are probably pedophiles “grooming” children for child molestation. QAnon supporters are undoubtedly ecstatic with this following and a wide-spread media coverage of their lie about a world-side human-trafficking network run by all Democrats who murder children and extract their glands.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said Jackson “might have” defended Nazis during the Nuremberg trials like the former Justice Robert H. Jackson was assigned chief counsel in the prosecution of Nazi war criminals. He added that Jackson “will coddle criminals and terrorists, and she will twist or ignore the law to reach the result that she want.”

GOP senators on the Judiciary Committee laid out the future of the United States if Republicans take over Congress. Jackson cited her soon-to-be predecessor Justice Steven Breyer definition of originalism by following the intent of the constitution—to support democracy. At least five current Supreme Court justices disagree with this position. Two of them, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch, want to remove the requirement that defendants have state-provided legal counsel. Some of them have already hacked away at voting rights and permit an unlimited amount of “dark money” donated to political candidates. The right to abortion is on the chopping block despite 59 percent of people believing it should be legal. GOP senators’ questions gave more federal rights are at risk.

Contraception:

In 1965, the Supreme Court legalized access to contraception in Griswold v. Connecticut, but only for married women. Single women didn’t have legal access until another Supreme Court case, Eisenstadt v. Baird, another seven years—50 years ago. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/contraceptive-use-united-states

In 2018, 65 percent of women in the United States ages 15 to 49 used contraception. By 2015, 89 percent of all people had found contraception to be acceptable. Yet in the midst of the Jackson confirmation hearings, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) found Griswold to be “constitutionally unsound,” meaning that she would like to see it overturned along with the Supreme Court ruling that preserved much of the Affordable Care Act. 

Supported by seven justices, Griswold ruled that married couples have a right to “marital privacy” in the decision to use birth control and invalidated the 1873 “Comstock Law” in Connecticut. According to many justices, the constitution gives privacy rights in at least five amendments although not explicitly using the term. Currently, however, five justices use the excuse that the word must be in the constitution to give people this right. Blackburn is not alone in her belief; the three GOP candidates for Michigan attorney general want Griswold overturned.

Republicans know that if they overturn Griswold, they might rid themselves of rights coming from Supreme Court rulings such as Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that declared state laws banning “homosexual sodomy” are unconstitutional. Overturning Griswold could also be used to overturn marriage equality, declared constitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). Justice Anthony Kennedy, now replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, wrote that Griswold was “the most pertinent beginning in our decision” of Lawrence. Rick Santorum accused the Supreme Court of “judicial activism” by creating “a new right” in Griswold. In 2019, the National Review called the decision “among the most indefensible bits of jurisprudential acrobatics in the entire American legal tradition.”

Republicans are moving closer to utter control of every part of our lives based on these extreme beliefs, from banning books to banning school curricula on Black history (under guise of racist bans of “critical race theory”) to banning transgender girls and women from school sports to banning discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.

Interracial Marriage:

In a discussion about Jackson, Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) came out against not only contraception but also interracial marriage. He said that the Supreme Court was wrong to override state laws banning Blacks and whites from marrying, the decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967). Braun tried to say that he didn’t really make that statement, that he “misunderstood.” Yet the reporter clearly repeated the question, and he gave the same answer. Comparing Loving to other similar cases, he called it “judicial activism” and called for decisions like interracial marriage be left up to the individual states.  

In his attempted walk back, Braun said he wasn’t a racist, but he didn’t rescind his statement about states rights. Virginia originally argued its ban on interracial marriage didn’t discriminate because it applied equally to both Blacks and whites. The original argument against interracial marriage was “religious,” that God didn’t want different races to mix. State and federal Trump-appointed judges might accept these arguments. Republicans are strongly pushing states’ rights—unless they disapprove of the states’ actions—with no federal interference.

Overturning Loving v. Virginia could be awkward for at least two Supreme Court justices after Jackson is sworn in, however. Both she and Clarence Thomas have white spouses. The U.S. also has a 94-percent approval rating of interracial marriages. 

Same-gender Marriage: 

Overturning marriage equality could be the easiest Supreme Court decision to tackle. Anti-LGBTQ rights were the most popular GOP arguments during the confirmation hearings other than pedophilia—which many Republicans tend to connect with being “gay.” Sen. John Cornyn falsely said that Obergefell “mandates” same-sex marriage instead of permitting it. (People are not required to have same-gender marriages.) He compared the decision to Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) giving “separate but equal” rights to Blacks, saying that both decisions provided rights not found in the Constitution. Plessy has never been overturned although with Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ruled that the “separate but equal” doctrine is unconstitutional for public schools and educational facilities. Cornyn also asserted that Obergefell blocks religious freedom because it allows people to impose their religious beliefs on others.

Cornyn badgered Jackson for several minutes but failed to get her agreement with him in opposing Obergefell. Seventy percent of people in the U.S. support same-gender marriage. Cornyn also failed to force Jackson into a conclusion about the viability of a fetus, now 22-24 weeks. 

Not satisfied with his obnoxious behavior at the confirmation hearings and his rudeness at the final vote of Jackson, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put out a video further smearing her on the day after the vote when her confirmation was being celebrated at the White House. He was still sulking about President Joe Biden’s choice of Jackson for justice instead of South Carolina judge Michelle Childs. Republicans wanted Childs because of her pro-business, anti-employee history. During eight years of anti-union private practice, she defended employers accused of race and gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment in the workplace.

Graham is the icon of Republicans who defended the blubbering, threatening, angry Brett Kavanaugh, never exonerated of sexual abuse charges, and viciously attacked the courteous, professional Jackson maintained her grace and composure, patiently answer ridiculous questions in between loud interruptions. The entire performative event on the part of GOP senators was sour grapes because a Democratic president could appoint a Supreme Court justice for the first time in 12 years.

Ten years ago, progressive Thomas Mann and conservative Norm Ornstein concluded the GOP “is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.” In the past decade, the party has moved much farther to the right, refusing to investigate an insurrection (perhaps because some of them participated in it) and voting to disenfranchise people who might not vote for Republicans. GOP members support Russian President Vladimir Putin and domestic terrorists. The conservative solution to stop abortion is legalized vigilantism. Idaho law, for example, would force rape victims to endure nine months of pregnancy and permit their rapists to collect a bounty if they try to get abortions.

Recent opinions from GOP congressional members eliminate federal protection for civil rights, enabling states to discriminate in any way they wish. They want the system to revert to pre-Civil War days with legalized slavery in some states. With Republicans in control, hundreds of thousands of marriages would be invalidated by the state, and millions of women could be refused any contraception. In many states, teachers are already quitting or being fired because they might refer to Black history of LGBTQ relationships. Parents are threatened with prison for child abuse if they support their transgender children. High on the GOP list is book banning. Republicans want to control all aspects of people’s lives based on extreme beliefs.

Heaven help the U.S. if Republicans gain control of the federal government.

April 6, 2021

Good News in the Senate; Gaetz, Georgia Problems Build

The biggest news for the week may have been the Senate parliamentarian decision permitting expanded use of the reconciliation process for budget bills. At one time, the ruling would not have been important for solving legislative issues in Congress, but for a decade, Republicans have largely refused to vote in favor of any bill proposed by Democrats even if they or their constituents agree with the bill. Since the 2008 election of President Obama and the 2010 Tea Party sweep of Congress, Republicans have subscribed to one goal—gridlock through opposition to all Democratic bills. The Senate filibuster requiring a 60-percent vote makes gridlock easier.  

The only flexibility in the Senate has been the budget reconciliation process in which a maximum of three bills can be passed each year with a simple majority, one each on spending, revenue, and the federal debt limit. Democrats already used one bill this year with the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), providing financial relief for the COVID-19 crisis. Republicans, with seeing provisions in the upcoming infrastructure bill, have declared they will vote against it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), however, found a law that legislation for an annual budget resolution, passed by the reconciliation process in the current Congress, can be revised through amendments. The Senate parliamentarian agrees, giving Democratic senators more flexibility without putting every issue into one bill. This process frees up budgetary timelines, again because of the smaller budget bills not requiring the 60-percent threshold. This flexibility may permit the budget to be finished by the end of the fiscal year, September 30, instead of stalling the process with a number of continuing resolutions and creating the danger of a government shutdown. Raising the debt ceiling might not be used for GOP blackmail in cutting back spending for domestic needs, a situation created by a cap on the debt limit forced through a decade ago by then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

Trying to cling to his position of leadership and sucking off the corporate teat for decades, House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is fighting large businesses rejecting the Georgia anti-voting law. He threatened them with a warning to “stay out of politics” to avoid “consequences.” McConnell did add “I’m not talking about contributions” to his directive. Last year—2020—his super PAC took in $475 million from corporations and their CEOs, including Chevron, Mountaire Corp, Koch Industries, and many others. 

In 2010, McConnell, calling donations “free speech,” praised the Supreme Court lifting political spending limits by “outside groups” in Citizens United v. FEC:

“For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process … the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day.”

Gabby Orr and Meredith McGraw wrote on Politico:

“During the 2017 GOP tax reform push, the [GOP] party slashed the corporate rate from 35 to 21 percent. In return, they have been bolstered with industry money and political support. Now, however, they’re betting that they can win on a backlash to the idea that political correctness has entered the boardroom and is irreversibly damaging conservative causes.”

Three days ago, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) called on all his followers to boycott the corporations criticizing Georgia’s new law and other states’ anti-voting bills, one business being Coca-Cola. For his photo shoot, he should have removed the Coke bottle from his desk rather than trying to hide it behind his telephone while he pretends to still be in the Oval Office. 

“I feel so good not drinking Diet Coke on a Delta flight,” Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union, tweeted Monday. Pepsi supports LGBTQ and voting rights.  

In the GOP attempt to “cancel” MLB (Major League Baseball), Republican lawmakers are looking at Commissioner Rob Manfred’s membership at the Augusta (GA) National Golf Club and threatening to remove its long-time antitrust exemption so that the MLB could be sued. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested a boycott of MLB. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) distributed a list of official MLB sponsors, asking if “all of them [are] willing to be the woke enforcers of the corrupt Democratic Party?” The attack resembles DDT’s fight against ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and others who knelt to protest police brutality.

The outrage from Republicans regarding MLB making a statement about the anti-voting law is not new for sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) relocated its All-Star Game in 2017 from North Carolina in reaction to HB2, a state law requiring people to use only restrooms that correspond with the gender assigned to them at birth. The owners of teams in the National Football League (NFL) voted in 1991 to withdraw the 1993 Super Bowl Game from Phoenix following Arizona voters’ refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a legal holiday. Recently, the NFL apologized for not supporting protests of police violence against people of color, started by Kaepernick taking a knee.

MLB found a new home for its All-Star Game in Denver (CO), resulting in GOP and Fox network’s lies about Georgia’s new voting law being less restrictive than those in Colorado. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) tweeted that both states require voter ID and Georgia has two more days of early voting. With Colorado’s mail-in voting system, less than one percent of Colorado voters cast their ballots in person and aren’t required to have photos on their IDs. All registered voters in Colorado are sent ballots, but Georgia law blocks election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to registered voters. WaPo reporter Dave Weigel told critics of Colorado voting to “find a photo of Colorado voters waiting in a long line on Election Day” within the past seven years. (Right: Georgia’s voting lines.) Republicans lie about Georgia’s new law “expanding” voting access, but an analysis reveals 16 provisions limiting ballot access, confusing voters, and giving GOP lawmakers more power to determine the electoral college vote in the state.

In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is working on ways “to mitigate the impact of new voting restrictions imposed” by Georgia’s new anti-voting law, part of to “develop a plan of action within the city’s authority to expand opportunity and access to the ballot box.” Methods include staff member training on voter registration; general information on early, absentee, and in-person voting; and dissemination of information to residents about obtaining forms of identification required for absentee voting.

In another story from the South, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), facing sex-trafficking accusations from a DOJ investigation started by DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr, found himself in more hot water. According to The New York Times, he asked for “blanket preemptive pardons” for himself and his allies, possibly Joel Greenberg, before DDT left the Oval Office which would give him immunity from any future crimes. The inquiry into Gaetz began late last summer, and people wonder if Gaetz knew about the probe before DDT’s departure. DDT has not mentioned Gaetz’s name since the scandal broke, and DDT’s loyalists have anonymously shown glee about Gaetz’s problems. One staffer expressing a feeling of vindication said about Gaetz, “He’s the meanest person in politics.

Fox News, for some reason, has published details of Gaetz’s sordid past. As a young state legislator in Florida, he allegedly competed with other lawmakers in sexual conquests, gaining extra points for having sex with married lawmakers and spending the night in a college sorority house. Special points came from sex with virgins, but the top number came from sex with one specific conservative woman, nicknamed the “snitch.” Other points came from sex with lobbyists, interns, and aides. Some women called him “Creepy Gaetz” because of how uncomfortable they were in his presence.

One question about indictments for Gaetz is whether his buddy Joel Greenberg, formerly Seminole County (FL) tax collector and now recipient of at least three dozen federal criminal charges, turns on him. Greenberg’s evidence could erase Gaetz’s weak defense that he didn’t have sex with a 17-year-old being investigated or she turned 18 by the time he made the moves on her. Greenberg’s case involves the same girl, indicating her age as 17 and the belief that he paid her, possible federal charges against Gaetz. If prosecution couldn’t prove Gaetz paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, Florida has a 15-year maximum sentence for sex with a minor and registration as a sex offender. Even solicitation of a sex act is a felony.

Gaetz is known for being the only member of the U.S. House to vote against increased penalties for sex-trafficking. While in the Florida legislature, he also fought a bill against “nonconsensual pornography,” aka “revenge porn.” For several years, fellow Republican tried to put the bill into law, but the main opposition was Matt Gaetz. In one discussion, Gaetz maintained a person can use “an intimate image [sent from] their romantic partner” in any way they want. That’s what Gaetz did when he showed nude photos and videos to other members of Congress.

This weekend at DDT’s Miami Doral hotel, Gaetz will appear at the Save America Summit, a Women for America First event, as the headline speaker along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Calling Gaetz a “fearless leader,” the organization secured the permit for DDT’s speech inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Topics at the summit include “Election Integrity,” “Big Tech & Censorship,” and “Defeating the Radical Biden/Harris Agenda.”

February 12, 2021

Impeachment Day Five, Damning Revelations for DDT

Filed under: impeachment — trp2011 @ 11:47 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

The lawyers for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) lasted under three hours in their weak attempts to defend their client during the second impeachment trial, using about 15 percent of their allotted 16 hours for their task. Part of their presentation was a video with extremely short clips of DDT saying “law and order” and Democrats using the term “fight” taken out of context, some of them played more than once. One defense lawyer, David Schoen, had criticized the videos for Democrats for the same thing although Democrats’ videos used much more context. The videos even had clips of people like Madonna, saying she’s “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House” following Trump’s election. Michael van der Veen justified these clips by claiming his examples aren’t “whataboutism,” just an attempt to protect “all political speech.” Madonna had followed her statement with “I know that this won’t change anything,” not included in the defense’s clip. 

Excusing the brevity of the defense, Bruce Castor told senators he hoped “you will take back these hours and use them to get delivery of COVID relief to the American people.” According to Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis, the reason for a short defense is that “they think they have the votes.”

The popular view assume Dennis is correct, but reports of an exchange between DDT and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), showing up one of the defense’s statements as a lie, led to consternation. Defense had argued DDT was upset about the attack on the U.S. Capitol and immediately tried to stop it. Details about a yelling match over the telephone during the insurrection belies that myth.

When no help came for the Capitol Police after DDT’s supporters breached the building, the desperate McCarthy called DDT for assistance. At first, DDT said the mob was composed of far-left antifa members, but McCarthy told him the thugs were MAGA people and pleaded with him to call them off. According to McCarthy, DDT answered:

“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.”

Furious with DDT’s response, McCarthy shouted that rioters were breaking breaking into his office through the windows and demanded, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” Republicans who reported the event said the interaction proves DDT wasn’t going to stop the rioters, and some called it a dereliction of duty. One of them said, “He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them.” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) first described the telephone call in a town hall earlier this week.

The defense lawyer also lied when he said DDT didn’t know VP Mike Pence was in danger of the mob attack when he attacked Pence with tweets. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), a strong DDT supporter, verified he told DDT about Pence’s being rushed from the mob before DDT’s tweets damning Pence. A source near Pence also declared DDT’s legal team lied when lawyer Michael van der Veen said “at no point” did “the 45th president” know his vice president was in danger. DDT not only didn’t check on Pence during the attack, but he also didn’t contact him for the next five days after the insurrection.

The U.S. people were also at danger when Pence was almost captured. He was carrying the “football,” the black briefcase with nuclear launch codes and encrypted communications equipment, when the mob was fewer than 90 feet away from him. Although capturing it might not have allowed a launch, showing it off would result in chaos and panic as well as giving adversaries knowledge about ways in which the U.S. would respond to a major attack.

Evidence was another area about which DDT’s legal team lied. In DDT’s defense, Schoen tried to use the new footage of the insurrection presented by the House prosecution as a violation of due process with the lie that the defense had not seen it. The prosecution, however, reported, “Every piece of evidence, including new videos, were given to the defense team before the trial.”

Thursday night, Schoen tried to quit DDT’s legal team, but he remained after DDT begged him to stay. Even on Friday morning as the team was scheduled to begin, the team of three lawyers argued about the order of presentations. Eventually, van der Veen led off because Bruce Castor was a disaster in his earlier presentation. Earlier on Thursday, Schoen skipped the House managers’ prosecution to appear on the Fox network, per DDT’s direction to defend him on television.

One defense lawyer wouldn’t even say whether Joe Biden was elected president. In other lies, the defense team:

Skipped all mention of DDT’s defending violence: “Contrast the President’s repeated condemnations of violence with the rhetoric from his opponents.”—Michael van der Veen. Examples of DDT lauding violence: praised a Montana congressional candidate for assaulting a journalist; urged police not to protect suspects’ heads during arrests; expressed wish to punch protester in the face; told supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters holding tomatoes; covered for a kidnapping plot against Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; approved a false story about a general massacring Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in the blood of pigs; used the term “beautiful sight” for authorities throwing a journalist to the ground during Minneapolis protest; mocked a reporter shot with a rubber bullet; and cheered his supporters surrounding a Joe Biden campaign bus on the highway and trying to run a following car off the road.

Claimed DDT’s first two tweets during the Capitol attack urged calm: Two later tweets followed DDT’s calling Pence a coward for not protecting “out Country and our Constitution” after the vice president was in danger from DDT’s mob.

Accused Democrats and media of “repeating without any evidence that the 2016 election had been hacked” for four years: Evidence shows the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign were hacked by the Russian government stealing and leaking internal documents and emails, but the entire party and media didn’t push the information for four years.

Asserted rioters didn’t attend DDT’s January 6 incendiary rally because the assault was pre-planned: Rioters who broke into the Capitol started at the rally, and many others heard the speech on their phones. Most of the over 215 criminal cases on arrested insurrectionists show they did not intend to break into the Capitol when they arrived on January 6 until they attended the rally.  

Repeated the lie that Georgia saw a “dramatic drop” in ballot rejection rates: The lawyer argued that DDT’s mandate to the state’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” another 11,780 votes was to lower the rejection rates. Georgia had no “dramatic drop,” according to data, but instead had an increase in proportion to the additional votes, keeping the percentage the same.

Claimed trial violated due process: Due process doesn’t apply to an impeachment inquiry because it is a political process, not a criminal case. The constitution also fails to prescribe a procedures of impeachment proceedings.

Denied the January 6 attack was an insurrection because it didn’t meet the legal definition: Definition – “the act or an instance of revolting, esp. violently against civil or political authority or against an established government ;also the crime of inciting or engaging in such revolt [whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or against the authority of the United States.” It fits.

Maintained January 6 was evitable, no matter what DDT said or did: DDT has been feeding his supporters lies about a stolen election for several months and, at the same time, calling his supporters to take action to make him president.  

Declared DDT’s limitless right to free speech: The team cited Wood v. Georgia and Bond v. Floyd for its claim, but their decisions are narrow.  Wood’s ruling stated officials can freely speak about grand jury proceedings unless it threatens the proceedings, and Bond is about if a politician can be prevented from taking the elected office because of statements about government policy.

Lectured about prosecution missing facts while abusing facts: Falsehoods – one of the first arrested people after January 6 was a leader of antifa, which has no leader, although the person suspiciously subscribes to a number of political movements; and a conviction would negate 75 million votes and “cancel” DDT’s voters although DDT got only 74.2 votes.

While complaining about the impeachment trial process not being constitutional, Bruce Castor threatened GOP senators with primary challengers if they voted to convict DDT.  

Spin from the legal team was at times ridiculous. The House managers referenced the tweet from a DDT supporter, “Calvary is coming,” as misspelling “cavalry.” Schoen argued the tweeter meant “Calvary Hill” where Jesus was crucified. He explained:

“The tweeter promised to bring the calvary—a public display of Christ’s crucifixion, a central symbol of her Christian faith—with her to the president’s speech—a symbol of faith, love and peace.”

The basic defense argument, however, that Democrats sole purpose in the impeachment trial is “hate” for DDT, and lawyers scolded lawmakers, saying “Hate has no place in the American justice system.” It is their fallback position in a case with no merit. The defense team only wants to give GOP senators an excuse to exonerate the man who pulls their strings.

February 5, 2021

Biden, Democrats Forge Ahead

The National Defense Authorization Act went into effect last December with a little-known provision, that federal agents must identify themselves to protesters. Until this law, unidentified federal agents could emulate banana republicans by snatching people off the streets. Assaulted and kidnapped people didn’t know until the law whether they were attacked by federal employees or illegitimate, armed vigilantes. Now agents must have visible name labels and insignia marking their government agency, unlike their anonymity in cities across the U.S. during last summer’s protests when they could attack journalists and peaceful protesters with impunity.

This law was one of the few bright lights between the election and the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Now, the new normal has returned to leading—meetings to inform and support people, qualified appointees with experience for their positions, daily civil informative press conferences, and no tweeted insults or slurs—except from the Republicans upset about the Democratic Congress and executive branch.

Instead of nothing happening in the Senate with Mitch McConnell (R-CA) in charge, the Democratic senators charge ahead. After a 15-hour overnight session, the Senate voted about 5:30 am on Friday to move Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package forward so that it could be debated and presented for a final vote. VP Kamala Harris  cast the deciding vote in 51 to 50. Democrats voted for some of the GOP amendments before all Republicans voted against addressing the final bill without a filibuster. The bill passed the House in the afternoon, and Senate can move forward with debate to a simple majority vote. Republicans followed their usual pattern when voting for bills while Democrats have the majority: insist on their changes and then vote against it en masse.

Last week, ten GOP senators met with Biden with their version of a bill for only one-third the amount Biden requested. Again, the Republicans followed their usual pattern: ignore “austerity” with a Republican president, but bring back cuts after a Democratic becomes president. Under Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Republicans gave an extra $2 trillion to the wealthy and big businesses with the 2017 tax cuts, passed two stimulus bills worth over $3 trillion, and jacked up expenditures for the military while trying to pull out of the Middle East. Republicans in the administration also guaranteed that a large percentage of the two stimulus bills would go to their friends, donors, and big business. In the first stimulus bill, Republicans buried a tax break giving 80 percent of the benefits to 43,000 millionaires at a loss of $250 billion for the government.

Biden’s administration succeeded in expanding the New START agreement with Russia requiring limits on nuclear weapons in both Russia and the U.S. until 2026. The U.S. will also get a better view of Russia’s nuclear capabilities. Russia has been in compliance with the deal since it went into force in 2011. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his department is working on another agreement with Russia to regulate smaller arms, “battlefield” or “tactical” nuclear weapons, falling outside the New START accord, and an agreement with China. Failing to extend the agreement, DDT had told Russia that it must include the two proposed ideas before he would sign it. DDT abandoned the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019 and the Open Skies Treaty allowing mutual reconnaissance flights in 2020.

Blinken also called on Russia to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, sentenced for almost three years to a penal colony. Russians poisoned Navalny, who recovered and then insisted on returning to the country. Sergey Maximishin, a senior doctor at the Russian hospital where Navalny was treated after the poisoning, “suddenly” died at the age of 55. The hospital did not list a cause of death although the regional health ministry said “preliminary data” indicated a heart attack.

In an interview with CBS News, Biden said DDT should not receive intelligence briefings because he was “unfit to be president” and had “erratic behavior unrelated to the insurrection.” Biden confirmed former opinions about DDT being “an existential threat,” “dangerous,” and “reckless.” According to Biden:

“I just think that there is no need for [DDT] to have the intelligence briefings. What value is giving him an intelligence briefing? What impact does he have at all, other than the fact he might slip and say something?”

Seventeen days into his presidency, Biden has taken 48 actions—executive orders, presidential declamations, and memoranda. Over one-third related to health policy, including several executive actions about the pandemic response. Nine actions concern immigration, revoking DDT’s directives, and another two are environmental reforms, one of them revoking or revising 15 of DDT’s energy and environmental actions and reinstating two of President Obama’s revoked actions. Other directives cover gender and racial equality, the economy, trade, national security, and ethics in government. The listing is available here.

One controversial order reverses the gag rule on international family planning organizations. Called the “Mexico City Policy,” the policy allowing groups receiving public funds to tell patients about abortion has ping-ponged between presidents since Ronald Reagan adopted it. GOP presidents enforce it; Democratic presidents remove it. DDT went even farther by issuing a domestic gag rule. Taxpayer support for abortion is already prohibited, but DDT blocked organizations receiving federal funds from saying the word “abortion.” Biden told the HHS to “consider whether to suspend, revise, or rescind” the so-called domestic gag rule. He told officials to be undoing the regulatory process is required to undo the domestic gag rule.

According to an analysis of studies, the Mexico City Policy eliminating information about abortion increases abortion rates in sub-Saharan Africa. High exposure to it raised the rates by 40 percent along with a 14-percent decline in use of modern contraceptives and a 12-percent increase in pregnancies. Access to and use of contraception is vital to preventing unintended pregnancies and thus reducing abortion, including unsafe abortion.

Under acting AG Monty Wilkinson, the DOJ rescinded two memos about voter fraud investigation. Under DDT, former AG Bill Barr had permitted the department to interfere in states’ vote certification. Barr’s order allowed prosecutors to interview witnesses with no permission from District Election Officers. A second Barr order allowed a reduction of coronavirus-related expansions of voting access, including greater early or absentee voting.

The DOJ dropped a discrimination case against Yale University that claimed the school weren’t fair to White and Asian applicants. DDT supported the case in opposition to attempting greater racial diversity by factoring in applicants’ race and country of origin for admissions, long reinforced by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court removed arguments for two immigration cases in February per a request from Biden’s acting solicitor general Elizabeth B. Prelogar. She asked for a delay in cases concerned a funding dispute about the southern border wall and DDT’s policy mandating asylum seekers to wait in Mexico because wall construction has been halted, and the asylum program is being reviewed. The immigration case has its third name in two weeks, Mayorkas (Pekoske, Wolf) v. Innovation Law Lab, because Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as the new DHS secretary by a 56-43 vote—the first confirmed DHS secretary for almost two years.   

In addition to confirming the first Latino and immigrant for a DHS secretary, the Senate also confirmed its first gay Cabinet member after Pete Buttigieg became Secretary of Transportation with an 86-13 vote. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) did not vote in either Buttigieg’s and Mayorkas’ confirmations. The map (left) shows the “no votes” for Buttigieg—yellow for one senator, red indicating both senators. All 13 senators who declared he didn’t have enough experience voted to install Ben Carson for HUD and Betsy DeVos for Education departments as well as supporting all DDT’s inexperienced judges.

To get low-income families online, Jessica Rosenworcel, new acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is moving the FCC into expansion of a broadband services discount program to cover remote schooling. Comcast has voluntarily doubled its internet speeds for people on government assistance. E-Rate offers schools and libraries discounts on equipment and services for internet access. COVID-19, however has closed these facilities, forcing many students to use access from nearby fast-food restaurants. Former FCC Chair Ajit Pai had refused the expansion.

Biden will choose Timothy Lenderking, former State Department official focused on the Middle East area, as his envoy to Yemen in an indication the U.S. will try to end the conflict starving millions of people. The United States will no longer support military operations in Yemen although the U.S. will continue the fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition including the U.S. indiscriminately bombed Yemeni civilians and targeted the already partially-destroyed infrastructure.

Robert Malley, who helped negotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, is special envoy for Iran. The appointee earlier warned DDT his maximum pressure on Iran from the military and sanctions which devastated the economy accomplished very little.

Wisconsin Republicans have overturned the state’s mask requirement, and Iowa requires neither masks nor social distancing. On February 5, 2021, the number of deaths from COVID-19 reached 470,705. If the average of deaths continues at this rate, the U.S. will be at 500,000 deaths from the virus by the middle of February without counting excess deaths. Wisconsin’s removal of the mask mandate also lost the state $50 million a month for food stamps. The governor reissued the mask mandate, and the state legislature is working on a law to get the federal funding back.

February 3, 2021

Bad News for ‘Party of Trump’–and DDT

One month into the new Congress and two weeks after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was finally stripped of his Senate Majority Leader title. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is finally the recognized leader, and committees are now led by Democrats instead of Republicans. Although the Senate was split 50-50 with Democratic Harris breaking a tie, McConnell has clung to the leadership, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has refused to schedule a confirmation hearing for Merrick Garland, appointed as the DOJ Attorney General. Graham lost the gavel, and Schumer now controls what legislation goes to the floor, when the legislation proceeds, and who chairs the committees. Each committee has an equal number of people from each side, but a tied measure can be considered for advancing to the floor. Chairs of the 21 committees are listed here.

In a secret vote, 145 House Republicans voted to keep Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) in the position of their Republican Conference Chair after she voted for DDT’s impeachment along with nine other GOP representatives. Sixty-one voted to remove her, and one voted “present.” Senate Minority Leader McConnell supported Cheney and called QAnon believer Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) a “cancer” on the Republican party. Thursday, the House votes whether to strip Greene of her committee assignments because she promotes killing Democratic members of the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and follows the bigoted and insane conspiracy theories of QAnon members. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) refuses to take action about Greene although he said he condemned her violent and false statements.

The GOP shares bad news facing Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) since his “retirement” to Mar-a-Lago.

In the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, at least 30,000 GOP voters immediately changed their registrations to unaffiliated or a third party. Only 42 percent of Republicans want DDT to run for president in 2024, a 12 percent decrease from November after the election.

The day after Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as the DHS secretary, he declared domestic terrorism is “one of the greatest threats” to the United States. Earlier, acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske alerted the country to a “heightened threat environment” in the U.S. because of domestic terrorists (aka DDT’s supporters). Based on its intelligence, Canada called the Proud boys, playing a “pivotal role” in the Capitol attack, a terrorist entity because it poses an active security threat. The declaration could lead to seizing their financial assets, and their crimes could be treated as terrorist activity.

The DOJ may use the RICO Act, a federal law usually employed against organized crime, to charge members of far-right groups participating in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, adopted in 1979, fights crimes such as murder, kidnapping, bribery, and money laundering. Penalties include up to 20 years in prison and seizure of illegal assets from criminal activities. The law is used to convict leaders ordering others to commit crimes.  

A week before DDT’s impeachment trial in the Senate, he lost his legal team when five lawyers bailed on defending him, supposedly because he insisted on election fraud as his strategy. He also delays paying his employees. DDT’s former adviser Steve Bannon, pardoned for his fraud and theft indictment, wants DDT to defend himself at the trial. Late Sunday, DDT found legal replacements: David Schoen, Roger Stone’s defense in challenging his convictions (lost), and Bruce Castor, a former Pennsylvania DA who kept Bill Cosby from prosecution for sexual assault for a 11 years (lost). Picking DDT over his constituents, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) offered to resign from Congress to defend DDT in the impeachment trial, calling it “the greatest priority in my life.”

DDT pardoned Bannon for his part in stealing over $1 million from donations to building part of the wall on the southern border, but New York state is considering prosecution for the theft. Victims of the fraud live in the district covering Manhattan, giving jurisdiction to the DA, and the area provides the base for most major banking transactions. DDT can give pardons only for federal crimes, not state ones.

A new government report reveals DDT “failed to implement” any of its “27 different recommendations aimed at improving the response” to the coronavirus. The fifth Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis from the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act lists such disasters as failures in testing strategies, medical supplies, vaccine distribution, worker protection, and fraud. The GAO plans to monitor these earlier recommendations as well as 13 additional requirements from the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The government vaccination for COVID-19 has been a disaster—no planning and no funds before Biden was inaugurated. Beyond poor management, DDT’s officials repeatedly lobbied Congress last fall to deny vaccination funding to states despite warnings. Paul Mango, former deputy chief of staff for policy at HHS, accused states of using any funding to make up for their lack of tax revenue and said he was protecting taxpayers from wasteful government spending. In October when states had no vaccines, he said they should have used the $200 million for vaccinations.  At the same time, CDC Director Robert Redfield angered Mango by asking Congress for $6 billion to facilitate state vaccinations. Congress finally allocated $4.5 billion for states to vaccinate with funding not released until earlier in January 2021, but DDT’s administration also sent states far fewer vaccine doses than promised. The sickening details are here.

Another negative GAO report about DDT’s coronavirus management shows he spent $200 million, half the foreign coronavirus aid, to send 8,722 ventilators to other countries last year without any guidance. Honduras, with half as many cases as El Salvador, received three times the number of ventilators. No one seems to know where the ventilators were distributed within the countries. Health experts said basic health aid, such as oxygen or protective personal equipment (PPE), is far more useful for underprivileged countries than ventilators requiring expert maintenance and operation.

DDT left nothing to fight COVID-19 while an HHS agency misused millions of dollars in federal funds designated for vaccine development and other health support. An investigation into a whistleblower complaint, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) used this designated funding for removal of office furniture, news subscriptions, legal services, management, and other administrative expenses. ASPR’s misappropriating money for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was called the “Bank of BARDA.”

DDT’s decision to move Bureau of Land Management staffers out West to Grand Junction (CO), benefitting the fossil fuel industry, caused 87 percent of them to resign or retire, causing serious loss of expertise and disruption of its operations. Remaining staffers have difficulty coordinating with other federal agencies including the Interior Department, centered in Washington, D.C.

The board of the Trump Plaza condominium, across from Mar-a-Lago, unanimously voted to drop the name “Trump” after he incited the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Residents of the luxury condo, each of the 221 units selling between $1 million and $4 million, will pick a new name. Realtors are delighted with the change, having difficult with sales of properties with DDT’s name attached. Signs with DDT’s name had already been removed, but the legal name had remained Trump Plaza. Two-thirds of the residents must vote in favor of the change to make it legal. DDT had lost the development to its lenders in 1991.  

DDT’s time in the Oval Office has been bad for his real estate in New York City: ten luxury buildings, seven of them still with DDT’s name, have lost 17 percent of their value while the decline of square footage in Manhattan dropped only nine percent.

A New York state judge ordered DDT’s tax firm to give more documents to the state AG Letitia James by February 4 to continue her investigation into the Trump Organization, claiming the requested documents are not privileged

Financial disclosure documents released almost immediately after DDT left the White House show his businesses provided almost 40 percent less revenue in 2020 than the year before–$30 million less at the Miami Doral property and 60 percent down at his Scotland Turnberry property. The disaster may have grown after companies cut ties after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

 

COVID-19 infections and deaths in the U.S. have good and bad news. Hospitalization and daily new infections are down; today’s new cases are about half the recent average. Yet deaths are staying high—one short of 4,000 today at 28 percent of those in the world for a total of 461,930 only in the U.S.

January 18, 2021

How Biden Can Overcome McConnell

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

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

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

Filling the Executive Branch Positions:

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

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

 Reversing DDT’s Policies:

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Majority:

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

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

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

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

Just 34 more hours until the inauguration.

December 25, 2020

End of 2020: Light from the Dark

On Christmas Day, we should have good news. Here are pieces from the past few weeks.

President-elect Joe Biden has slowed down in making appointments the past week but found a highly qualified replacement for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Connecticut’s commission of public schools Miguel Cardona moved from assistant superintendent in a district of 9,000 students to this appointment in fewer than two years. Born to Puerto Rican parents living in public housing, he first taught fourth-graders before he became the state’s youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named the state’s principal of the year. Billionaire DeVos was educated in private schools, never taught, and focused on giving all her budget to private, preferably religious, schools. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called him a “very, very solid” candidate.

Cardona’s background includes working to provide technology while pushing to reopen schools during the pandemic. His concern on equity issues led Connecticut to become the first state to require high school courses in Black and Latino studies under his tenure. Biden wants to triple the $15 billion Title I funds supporting high-poverty schools and double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools, provide new money for school infrastructure, and increase federal spending for special education. He also proposed forgiving college debt and making community college free.

California’s governor Gavin Newsom has selected his secretary of state Alex Padilla to replace VP-elect Kamala Harris, making him the state’s first Latino senator from California. The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla went to MIT, the LA City Council, and the state senate, before his current job. He and Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) will join four other Latinos in the Senate. With Harris gone, the chamber has no Black woman, but in 26 days the U.S. will have a Black and Indian woman.

The Georgia runoff for two incumbent GOP senators heated up on the day after the general election in early November—court cases to suppress the vote and massive lies from the conservatives. A federal judge agreed on a settlement between civil rights groups and the postal service for measures to guarantee absentee ballots arrive in time for the January 5 election deadline. Georgia postal facilities are required to regularly sweep for undelivered ballots until the election and use expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots, and the plaintiffs agreed to not ask the Washington, D.C. circuit court for any other orders in their cases until after the elections. First class postal service during the past month has suffered serious delays because of Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts, supported by DDT’s DOJ, to dismantle the promptness of delivery services.

A Fulton County judge rejection of a lawsuit permits voters to continuing using drop boxes 24 hours a day until polls close in Georgia on January 6. The county, generally voting Democratic, has a population of over one million. The State Election Board approved the disputed rule earlier this year. Republicans also lost their cases to stop the use of drop boxes, block early processing of mail ballots, and institute stricter signature verification procedures. Plaintiffs were barred from filing new lawsuits, but they can still appeal. Another trauma for Republicans comes from the 76,000 new registrations, 57 percent of them under the age of 35.

Another lawsuit, also rejected by a federal judge, would have removed the ballots of new Georgia residents from the senator runoff in a misreading of the federal Voting Rights Act. That was followed by a demand to the removal of Dominion software and equipment from use in the Georgia election. Conspiracy theorists also claim people are racing to Georgia to vote Democratic.

Over 1.4 million people in Georgia, 132,000 more than in the recent general election, have submitted applications for absentee ballots, down only 4 percent from the number of mail ballot applications at this point in the run-up to the general election. The deadline for requests is January 1. On the first day of early voting, the 168,000 voters had a 27-percent greater turnout than for the first day of the presidential election. Since early voting began on December 14, 2020, 1.3 million people have voted in person, and another 721,000 absentee ballots have also been received. About 5 million people in Georgia voted in November.

DDT has attacked the U.S. people with over 60 lawsuits to disenfranchise their votes, but litigation is now directed at him, for example one accusing him and the GOP of conspiring to violate Black voters’ rights. The case goes beyond a cease and desist; it asks DDT and the RNC to obtain court approval before demanding accounts or other “post-election activities.” A federal judge order barring the RNC from “ballot security” activities was lifted only three years ago after in effect for 36 years. Claims of intimidation, threats, and voter disenfranchisement came from voter roll purges and payment to police officers for patrolling sites in primarily Black and Latino areas. The new lawsuit, under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act, charges the defendants of purposefully focusing voter challenges on cities with large Black populations.

Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, companies making election voting equipment, also threaten defamation charges against DDT’s attorney Sidney Powell and conservative media outlets, demanding retractions of false claims in rigging the election. Fox, Newsmax, and OAN already played the video refuting the fraud. DDT’s campaign told staffers to preserve documents in preparation for a lawsuit. Dominion’s lawyer, Tom Clare, won a $1 million verdict in a defamation lawsuit after Rolling Stone alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. The case was finally settled out of court.

Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems, in hiding after receiving death threats, is suing not only the lawyers but also the conservative networks and pundits along with evangelical radio host Eric Metaxas for “relentless defamation and ongoing threats.” Another defendant, Joseph Oltmann, founded a nonprofit and media business to uncover Antifa activists and also impugned Coomer. He has been branded a traitor to the U.S. a terrorist, and a criminal of the highest order.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel announced her office will file bar complaints against Powell, DDT’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and other lawyers who attacked state and local election officials as well as attempted to disenfranchise voters and overturn the election. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) also plans to file complaints against Giuliani and the other lawyers representing DDT and the GOP.

An attorney opposing one of DDT’s election fraud cases has also filed for sanctions against DDT’s lawyers.

Federal judges can sanction lawyers filing cases “for any improper purpose, such as to harass” or who press “frivolous” claims. They repeatedly called out Powell for failing to follow court rules and rejected her efforts to overturn Biden’s win. Attorneys’ ethics rules include similar language prohibiting lawyers from abusing the legal system and bringing frivolous claims.

Maricopa County (AZ) supervisors refuse to comply with subpoenas from the state Senate Judiciary Committee for over 2 million ballots cast in the November election.

A Delaware Superior Court judge threatened to revoke Lin Wood’s legal representation of DDT’s former adviser Carter Page because Wood’s Georgia suit had “no basis in fact or law” and his Wisconsin suit had “multiple deficiencies.” Page is suing Yahoo! News and Huffpost for defamation.  

Among DDT’s chaos in the past week, Robert E. Lee’s statue has been removed from the nation’s capitol. Virginia chose the traitor as one of its two designated monuments in the federal Statuary Hall over a century ago. He led the failed Confederate army during the Civil War and lost his plantation, now Arlington Cemetery. According to Virginia’s commission, a statue of Barbara Johns may replace Lee. In 1951, Johns, 16 years old at the time, led a two-week walkout protesting substandard educational conditions at her segregated all-Black high school. The following litigation became part of Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. Virginia’s General Assembly needs to approve the commission’s decision. Mississippi has yet to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, treasonous Confederate president, and Georgia still has treasonous Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens. At least six other treasonous Confederates are also honored in Statutory Hall.

A split Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled police must have probable cause for a crime to conduct warrantless searches in the state. Of the 2,000 searches a month, 80 percent have been on Black drivers, but police found contraband only 12 percent of the time.  

A Fairfax County (VA) judge ruled the portraits of White judges must be removed for a Black defendant’s proceedings because he cannot get a fair trial from the implied bias.  

The conservative Gallup poll finds that DDT’s approval rating has dropped seven points since the election to 39 percent. Congress gets 15 percent approval. By contrast, Biden’s approval rating at 65 percent is 27 points higher than DDT’s rating at his inauguration in 2016. He never reached higher than 49 percent approval during his four years and averaged 39 percent over the four years.  

Next Page »

Mind-Cast

Rethinking Before Restarting

Current

Commentary. Reflection. Judgment.

© blogfactory

Truth News

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Quaker Inspired, Evidence Based, Art And Science Of Sustainable Health Plus Success - How To Create Heaven On Earth - Education For Seventh Generation Rainbow Warriors

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

WordPress.com News

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: