Nel's New Day

July 27, 2022

GOP, DDT Reject Human Rights

After a year, the Senate passed a bill to provide $280 billion for chip manufacturing, design, and scientific research. Seventeen Republicans supported the bill in the 64-33 vote with only one member of the Democratic caucus, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in opposition because of its weak guidelines. The U.S. has contributed no money to chip manufacturing, compared to the $150 billion that China pays to support the industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she had the votes in her chamber for the bill.   

Most of the funding goes toward advanced, rather than basic, chips, the majority currently coming from Taiwan. The U.S. went from making 37 percent of the world’s chips in 1990 to only 12 percent while the nation contributes “nearly nothing” to their manufacturing  compared to China’s $150 billion investment. Even with the advantages to their states, some senators, such as Tommy Turberville (R-AL) ignored the importance of chips, i.e., a critical component for Javelin missiles, manufactured in Turberville’s state.

After Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined Republicans to force the removal of tax increases for the wealthy and big businesses from the bill, he failed to vote after testing positive for COVID.

In Congress, Republicans joined Justice Clarence Thomas to make women into baby incubators by removing female rights to travel, contraception access, and marriage to whom they love. Although 47 GOP House members voted for marriage equality, only eight supported the right to contraception, and 205 Republicans voted against women traveling across state lines for an abortion. This dystopian vision of the U.S. comes directly from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The GOP refusal to protect marriage equality and contraception is exactly the same Republicans used to deny protection for Roe v. Wade—their assumption these rights will never be overturned. Yet justices are calling the 2015 marriage equality ruling “undemocratic,” “a problem that only [the court] can fix.”

Sen. Joni Ernst has also blocked a bill legalizing contraceptives; at 52 years old, she probably doesn’t need them. Ernst made her reputation—and may have gotten elected in 2014—with a TV ad about comparing her goals in the Senate to castrating hogs.

Twenty House Republicans also supported human trafficking by voting against a bill to combat the problem. One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), criticized Democrats for doing nothing about protecting victims. Another naysayer, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), is under investigation for sex trafficking at least one underage girl. Pence’s former aide, Marc Short, said about Gaetz’s recent speech to Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, “I’m actually surprised the Florida law enforcement still allows him to speak to teenage conferences like that.”

In his speech to Turning Point, Gaetz said all anti-abortionists were fat and ugly, that they couldn’t get pregnant anyway. After a 19-year-old Texas girl objected, he used her photo to support his lie and sent her a vile insulting tweet. She used his body-shaming abuse to raise $214,000 thus far for an anti-abortion group.  

DDT’s favorite network—no, it isn’t Fox—may disappear after Verizon Fios stopped carrying One America News, removing 3.5 million subscribers. Earlier this year, OAN lost its biggest revenue when AT&T dumped DirecTV off the service in April, losing another 15 million subscribers. Far to the right of Fox, OAN created a haven for pundits who couldn’t get jobs on other channels, those willing to promote conspiracy theories including the “stolen” election.  OAN has admitted Verizon thinks that the channel is not “a credible news organization.”

Perhaps not noticing that CNN’s new CEO is directing the network to the right-wing dark side, DDT threatens to sue the company for defamation going back to his 2016 presidency campaign. DDT is still claiming his 2020 election was “stolen,” as recently as his speech in Washington, D.C. earlier this week. Clarence Thomas has said the Supreme Court should create an easier environment for people to win lawsuits against the media.   

DDT’s speech seems to be winding up to another presidential campaign with the lies about stolen elections and LGBTQ people front and center, especially trans women. For example, he misgendered swimmer Lia Thomas, accusing “him” of having “arms that are 30 feet long” and “seriously injur[ing]” a competitor “because he swam so fast that he gave her major wind burn as he went by.” Thomas also wasn’t named “female athlete of the year” and didn’t break the record “by 38 seconds.” DDT also talked about a transgender weightlifter who doesn’t seem to exist. In his speech, DDT called LGBTQ people “sickos.”

Fifty-five trans candidates running in 2022 have been joined by 20 gender nonconforming candidates, 18 nonbinary candidates, and four Two-Spirit candidates. Some of them are in red states such as Montana and Oklahoma. A total of 1,068 LGBTQ candidates, an increase of 73 percent since 2020, is running this year when legislatures introduced 162 anti-LGBTQ bills before July 1. Congress has 11 elected LGBTQ members.

Witnesses in the House January 6 probe are revealing more of his lies. The Pentagon now supports the many claims that he never called on the National Guard to protect the U.S. Capitol. DDT’s former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller said DDT never requested the 10,000 troops to secure the Capitol before January 6, a claim made by both DDT and his former chief of staff Mark Meadows. DDT’s former official Mick Mulvaney will also testify before the committee; he says he believe the testimony of witnesses Cassidy Hutchinson and other top former DDT officials,

After eight hearings from the House January 6 investigative committee showing DDT’s involvement in the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol, the DOJ is taking steps to investigate him. Concerns include DDT’s attempt to force former VP Mike President to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential election and DDT’s ties to establishing fake alternate electors in battleground states he lost. In five of seven states, these electors appear to be driven by DDT’s lawyers with DDT also involved. The DOJ interviewed witnesses, seized phone records of his top allies, and searched the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark who enabled DDT in his election-fraud theories. AG Merrick Garland has repeatedly said that no one is above the law, and the Fulton County (GA) criminal investigation into DDT’s efforts to overturn the election is also expanding.

Furious about the investigation, DDT used his Truth Social to repeat his lies and conspiracy theories—“massive and irrefutable” evidence about the “rigged and stolen” election, his “perfect” phone call to Georgia begging for more votes to make him a winner, and more whining about his impeachments and Russia scams. The extensive quotes, complete with excessive capital letters, are here.

The DOJ has a new warrant to search John Eastman’s phone in the continued investigation regarding a criminal conspiracy between DDT and his lawyer to overturn the election, partly through using fake electors. Eastman’s employer, conservative Claremont Institute, is backing off from its staunch DDT support after standing by Eastman before it learned more about his actions. Now they’re lamenting that he decided to jettison the Constitution for DDT’s benefit. The question now is how the think tank can separate itself from Eastman.

The House committee evidence supports charges of obstruction of an official proceeding with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and used against hundreds of insurrectionists along with possibly seditious conspiracy, like charges brought against Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. In a new poll, 79 percent of people think DDT’s actions on January 6 were illegal or unethical with only 21 percent believing he did nothing wrong. Even 55 percent of Republicans agree with either illegal or unethical behavior, the same percentage of Republicans who don’t want DDT as the 2024 candidate. The 69 percent of people who believe the January 6 attack to be a crisis or major problem for American democracy is up from 65 percent earlier this year.

Leaked audio from Steve Bannon, added to his saying that DDT would declare victory on election night even if he lost, are his conspiracy with exiled Chinese mogul Guo Wengui and his associates to spread the lies that Hunter Biden’s computer, Joe Biden’s son, contained proof about salacious crimes. Guo controls pro-DDT media sites spreading far-right disinformation. Before the election, Guo’s associates disseminated videos and photos of Hunter Biden in sexual encounters and drug use.

After paying almost $2 million for DDT’s legal bills, the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said the money stops if he becomes a 2024 candidate using the weak excuse of its “neutrality policy.” Earlier, DDT backed down when McDaniel made the same threat after DDT said he was creating his own political party. DDT’s leadership PAC, Save America, and his presidential committee-turned-PAC Make America Great Again PAC are paying legal bills for issues related to January 6, raising concerns about his witness tampering.

A Harvard study of almost 500 documents shows primary motivation for 417 Capitol rioters charged for insurrection: support for DDT, 20.6 percent; DDT’s lie about a stolen election, 20.6 percent; “peacefully protest,” 7 percent; and “general interest in violence,” 6.2 percent.  

October 24, 2021

Congress Needs to Shut Down Corruption

Creeping among all the other stories about fraud during the past week was the indictment of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) for his lying to the FBI about taking $30,000 from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, funneled through Californians and distributed to four politicians. Fortenberry alternately expressed shock, surprise, and expectation to be indicted. He resigned from his leadership on the Agriculture Committee but made a lovely video sitting in his vintage pickup with his wife and dog, cornfields in the background, explaining why he had done nothing wrong. His wife, Celeste, stood by her man, also claiming that her husband didn’t lie to the FBI. Fortenberry used the indictment for fundraiser, calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) a “swamp creature.”

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Central District of California stated a federal grand jury was charging Fortenberry with “concealing information and making false statements to federal authorities who were investigating illegal contributions made by a foreign national to the congressman’s 2016 re-election campaign.” Charges include one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of knowingly and willingly making false statements and representations to federal investigators. Chagoury has cooperated with the investigation and paid $1.8 million in fines.

It seems that Fortenberry faces at least three false statements charges under 18 U.S.C. § 1001:

  • He was aware after the fundraiser that Chagoury was the real source of the $30,000 he received and were funneled to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and himself.
  • The fundraiser host began cooperating with the FBI in September 2016, and Fortenberry asked him to host another event in 2018. The informant told Fortenberry several times that Chagoury provided the original funds, violating both the ban on foreign campaign contributions and the ban on straw man donors.
  • Fortenberry also lied by saying he ended the phone call with the fundraiser after he made a “concerning comment”: in fact, Fortenberry asked him to host another fundraiser.

During the term of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), two sitting congressional members, both Republicans, were criminally charged: New York’s Chris Collins for insider trading, and California’s Duncan Hunter for stealing over $250,000 from his campaign donations. Both were re-elected but resigned, both were sentenced to prison, and both were pardoned by DDT. If guilty, Fortenberry faces up to five years in federal prison. 

DDT supported Fortenberry by saying:

“Isn’t it terrible that a Republican Congressman from Nebraska just got indicted for possibly telling some lies to investigators about campaign contributions, when half of the United States Congress lied about made up scams.”

Fortenberry belongs to the secretive political evangelical Christian group, The Family, highlighted in Jeff Sharlet’s book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The organization is tied to the Uganda lawmaker who pressured his country to pass legislation called “Kill the Gays.” The Family supports the bill that sentences people committing homosexual acts with the death penalty. In 2014, the text was softened to “Jail the Gays,” sentencing LGBTQ people to life imprisonment, but the Ugandan Supreme Court invalidated the law. Fortenberry’s chief of staff, Andy Braner, is a fellow insider of The Family. The Family has funded Fortenberry’s multiple events overseas connected to the group. 

Another current GOP may be moving toward toward indictment. The FBI has assigned two more two prosecutors to sex-trafficking probe of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one expert in child exploitation crimes and the other a leader in the public corruption unit. The sentencing of Joel Greenberg, a witness against Gaetz, has been postponed until March as, according to prosecutors, Greenberg continues to provide valuable assistance in their investigation. Gaetz not only lost money on his “America First” tour around the country with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) but also paid $613,000 in the third quarter of 2021 to get under $500,000 in donations. It has been reported that, before DDT left the White House, Gaetz “privately asked” administrators “for blanket pre-emptive pardons for himself and unidentified congressional allies.” 

Gaetz can no longer practice law because he failed to pay his license annual dues. For reinstatement he would have to pay the $265, an extra $150 reinstatement fee, and a $50 late fee. In addition, he would need to petition the executive director to be reinstated. Convicted of any felonies, he would be disbarred anyway. 

USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed under DDT, appears intent on running his agency into the ground. He’s raising prices, slowing down delivery, and appears to be steering the government work to his former company. More conflicts of interest have emerged from his and his family’s investments in XPO, where he served as CEO, and 13 other major companies with relationships to the postal services. With a financial interest between $30 million and $75 million in XPO, DeJoy refused to divest himself for months after he was confirmed and has more investments in companies such as AT&T, CVS, Verizon, Lockheed Martin, Discover Financial Services, IBM, and JPMorgan Chase—all with USPS government contracts. Federal law requires government employees, including agency heads, to divest from investments worth more than $15,000 in companies that may be affected by their work.

Also ongoing is a probe into DeJoy’s campaign-finance scandal when he coerced employees to donate to Republican candidates. President Joe Biden cannot fire DeJoy without approval by the USPS governing board, who must also be confirmed by the Senate. Although the board president is a Democrat, he said DeJoy is “the proper man for the job.” Bloom’s tenure on the board expires, however, in December 2021. 

Republicans may give up on DeJoy after he began banking in post offices located in Washington, Baltimore, Falls Church (VA), and the Bronx by accepting paychecks or business checks of up to $500 in exchange for prepaid Visa gift cards. Postal officials plan to expand the program in 2022 with bill-paying services and ATMS in post offices. Republicans still want DeJoy’s campaign donations but don’t like the USPS competing with private financial institutions. In a letter to DeJoy, Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) wrote that the program “undermines the trust during your engagements with Congress and raises questions as to whether you worked with us in good faith.”

More corruption, money-laundering on a large scale, has been discovered in the Midwest: federal prosecutors seized $12 million allegedly part of “The Shadow Exchange” between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. Some of the money was used to buy armored vehicles for an illegal drug trafficking operation in Michigan. The money origins were hidden with fake invoices and other documents sent to banks, including major ones in the U.S., through wire transfers. Federal authorities obtained the money in December 2020, January 2021, and May 2021.

Ukrainian banking oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky bought a disintegrating factory Harvard (IL), population 9,281, much to the delight of the depressed community. He did nothing with the factory, originally built in the late 1990s by Motorola before the business failed, and the U.S. has hit him with sanctions for “significant corruption” in Ukraine for overseeing Ponzi schemes. Before Kolomoisky, a Miami investor, Chaim Schochet, purchased the facility on behalf of Optima International, a company buying commercial real estate throughout the Midwest. Both Schochet and Kolomoisky used laundered money and fraudulent loans to buy property and then let it rot. They paid no property taxes, starving the communities, and in 2016 Kolomoisky sold the Harvard property to a Chinese Canadian businessman. After spreading dreams throughout the community for a year, Canadian authorities charged the new owner of a money laundering scheme, and New Zealand detailed how he led a “multi-national pyramid scheme.”   

Money laundering moved to the Midwest from urban areas because they have no laws against anonymous real estate purchases, unlike cities like New York City, Dallas, and Seattle. Desperate for help, places suffering from economic decline are also ripe for this kind of corruption. When Kolomoisky bought up many downtown Cleveland buildings, the Ohio city was helpless when he let them fall apart. Last year, Congress banned anonymous shell company formations, overriding DDT’s veto, and will be debating the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention Act to counter authoritarian regimes targeting journalists in democratic countries—if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) permits.  

In an unusual coalition, four members of the House—Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Joe Wilson (R-SC)—are introducing the Establishing New Authorities for Business Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security (ENABLERS) Act closing loopholes foreign kleptocrats use to launder money in the United States. Financial institutions are required to report suspicious transactions; ENABLERS expands that requirement to others such as law and public relations firms, accountants, investment and real estate advisors, and art dealers who allow the secrecy of origins through shell companies, trusts, and other investment vehicles. The four representatives founded the Caucus Against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy recently leading the charge to anti-corruption legislation in the House’s national defense bill.

Now the country needs ten good Republicans in the Senate to fight corruption.

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.”

April 1, 2021

April Fool – Not! True Stories from the Media on April 1

Today is an annual day to celebrate tricksters, often through the mass media, but this year’s media stories, as ridiculous as many of them may sound, are true. Here’s a sampling of the ridiculous, and accurate, occurrences—many of them involving Republicans.

First commissioned in 1997, the F-35 fighter jet, estimated at a cost of over $1 trillion for the program and not yet ready for prime time, has been a joke. One plane costs $135.8 million, but its problems include catching on fire, rolling during landings, pilot blackouts, software development disasters, premature part failures, and shortage of spare parts to keep the planes flying.

Why did Johnson & Johnson have to throw away COVID-19 doses for 15 million people? Workers in Emergent BioSolutions, a Baltimore manufacturing plant, accidentally mixed its ingredients from those for AstraZeneca. Biologically different, the two vaccines are not interchangeable. Production was delayed by an FDA investigation. FDA has already repeatedly cited Emergent for poorly trained employees, cracked vials, and mold in one facility. The mix-up was not discovered for days, but currently distributed and administrated J&J vaccines in the U.S. were not affected because they were produced in the Netherlands under federal regulator watch. Approved in February, J&J has a 66-percent efficacy fate but only 42.3 percent effective a month after vaccinations for people over 60 with comorbidities.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), already stripped of her committee assignments, entertained herself for a few weeks by putting forward multiple proposals to adjourn the House of Representatives. Members of both parties had to leave important meetings and other duties as they rushed to the chamber floor to vote against her motion. Now the QAnon follower introduced a bill to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s appointed chief medical adviser in a position not even requiring Senate confirmation. Greene’s Fire Fauci Act cuts Fauci’s salary to $0 until “a new NIAID Administrator is confirmed by the Senate.” Which isn’t required. Two days ago, Greene accused the president of Satanism by tweeting any “vaccine passport” is “Biden’s Mark of the Beast.”

Greene, who accuses Democrats of sex-trafficking, is vigorously defending Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) in his investigation regarding alleged sex-trafficking of a 17-year-old and accuses the DOJ of a “witch hunt.” DDT’s AG Bill Barr began the investigation and deliberately avoided being seen in the same place with Gaetz, refusing to attend a meet-and-greet event with the House Judiciary Committee because Gaetz would be present.

Popular with multitudes of Republicans, Greene is the subject of a “RealDoll” patterned after her (left). Abyss Creations, which makes life-size “sex dolls” has sold out of the Greene model. The company’s marketing director Andrew Canard stated Abyss’ success comes from targeting evangelical MAGA fans with these female companion manikins, leading to the design of the Marjorie Taylor Greene Freedom Doll. [Visual – RealDoll Greene]

The entire Matt Gaetz story becomes more and more bizarre. According to reports, he bragged about his sexual exploits with a number of women and showed other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women who he had sex with, some images kept on his phone. The investigation is looking into his possible use of campaign funds to pay for the women’s travel and expenses.

Media has obtained receipts from Cash App and Apple Pay showing how Gaetz used cash apps to send money to women as well as paying them in cash from hotel ATMs.

Gaetz denies paying women for sex, asserting he is just generous, but some women claim he told them to say that money paid for sex was just for dating. During 2019 and 2020, Gaetz and Greenberg told women to meet with them, often at Florida hotels, and told them how much they would pay, according to text messages and interviews. The men met women through Seeking Arrangement, a site of over 20 worldwide members which is self-described as wealthy people finding attractive companions to treat them “with fine dinners, exotic trips and allowances.”Before sex, some women and men, including Gaetz, would take ecstasy, an illegal mood-altering drug. Gaetz also asked the women to find others willing to have sex with him and his friends. Greenberg is not making any comment about the allocations.

Paying for hotels, meals, and other gifts is not illegal, but payments for sex is trafficking the women under “force, fraud or coercion.” Providing drugs in exchange for sex is classified as trafficking because feeding another person’s drug habit can be described as coercion. Giving anyone under the age of 18 anything of value for sex—even hotels or cigarettes—violates the federal child sex trafficking law and carries a ten-year minimum prison sentence. QAnon finally found real alleged sex-traffickers among the ich and famous, but they protect Gaetz and his friends.

The Government Accountability Office reported that Ivanka Trump’s women’s empowerment initiative failed to track funds and didn’t determine the definition of a woman-owned business. According to the GAO report:

“USAID has not developed a process to support compliance with statutory requirements to target MSME resources to activities that reach the very poor and to small and medium-sized enterprise resources to activities that reach enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women. We identified three key gaps that impair USAID’s ability to develop such a process. First, USAID has not identified the total funding subject to the targeting requirements. Second, although USAID has programs designed to help the very poor, it is unable to determine the amount of funding that reaches this group. Third, although USAID has MSME activities that benefit women, it has not defined enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women and does not collect data by enterprise size.”

During her years in the White House, Trump claimed she tracked spending and efficient use of funds, yet she didn’t know where the money was going or if the recipients were minority-owned.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) cannot escape a $5,000 fine for disobeying a House rule. After some House members tried to carry guns onto the House floor, representatives were required to go through a metal detector. Several GOP representatives refused to comply with security screening, and the House imposed fines for their noncompliance. The first offense is $5,000, and all subsequent offenses are $10,000. Gohmert contested the fine, saying he didn’t know he should use the metal director after going to the bathroom, but the House Ethics Committee upheld the charge. The Texas representative admitted that he refused to comply with a Capitol Police officer’s request to be screened.  

The death of Don Wright, sworn into the U.S. House a month after being sworn into the 117th Congress, left an opening from Texas. A congressional candidate and former DDT official who hopes to win Wright’s seat is campaigning against Chinese immigrants accusing then of not holding “themselves accountable” and causing the pandemic. The candidate? Sery Kim, a Korean-American woman who served in the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the Small Business Administration. She says she doesn’t feel discrimination for being Asian-American because “I blame China.”

An Arizona state representative, Mark Finchem, has started the process to run against the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. The Republican is known for leading the effort to overturn the state’s popular vote for President Joe Biden and invited DDT’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a Phoenix event with legislators to support him. Finchem was also invited to speak at a January 6 rally outside the U.S. Capitol to storm the building but claimed he knew nothing about breaching the building despite his tweeting photographs of it. Blaming the insurrection on leftists, he refused to give The Arizona Republic information about his travels to Washington, D.C. at that time. Rural Arizonans for Accountability began a recall effort against him because of his buy in to the “big lie” regarding how voter fraud “stole” the election from DDT. 

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