Nel's New Day

May 6, 2023

News – the Bad, the Ugly

In a follow-up to yesterday’s post about jobs records, this chart shows the successes of Democratic presidents over GOP ones during the last seven Oval Office occupants.

Republicans are creating lies to make VP Kamala Harris look ignorant and shallow. A video of her speech at a reproductive rights at Howard University was altered so that her opposition can call it “word salad.” Both the original speech and the doctored footage are here. Instead of a diatribe following “today is today,” Harris actually talked about the importance of understanding “where we exist in the history and in the moment as it relates not only to the past, but the future.” In her pro-choice speech about reproductive rights, Harris said:

“They’re also saying they’re going to ban abortion. Six weeks into a pregnancy? Well, clearly most of them don’t even know how a woman’s body works because most women don’t even know they’re pregnant at that stage of a pregnancy.”

It’s not “word salad.”

The GOP is claiming President Joe Biden bribed a foreign national. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) are demanding a document from the FBI that a whistleblower said outlined an unverified and unspecified “alleged criminal scheme.” Comer has subpoenaed the FBI for the document from sources or meetings that can include unverified information about then-VP Biden by obtaining all similar forms containing the word “Biden” in June 2020. Leading Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have spread unsubstantiated innuendos as if they were facts while they ignore election deniers like Rudy Giuliani and other DDT allies disseminating Russian disinformation.  

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter is required to sit for a sworn deposition and answer more questions about his investments, art sales, and other financial transactions as part of a paternity-related case in Arkansas. Every month, he pays $20,000 to the Arkansas mother of their four-year-old daughter, giving her a total of $750,000. Tabloids call him a “deadbeat dad.” He had asked for a reduction of the monthly payments, and the woman and her lawyer want many of the documents that House Republicans are trying to obtain from him.

Giuliani admitted one of his strategies to rig elections when he told Steve Bannon and Arizona’s failed gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, was to subvert the Hispanic vote. In his 1993 mayoral campaign, Giuliani spent $2 million for a so-called Voter Integrity Committee. The president of the Yankees team and a former New York GOP congressman went through all-Hispanic East Harlem and distributed cards that read, “If you come to vote, make sure you have your green card because INS are picking up illegals.”

Both Giuliani’s listeners were delighted, Lake saying, “We need dirty tricks!” During the ensuing investigation, Giuliani said he declared that these people “don’t have civil rights… Maybe we tricked them, but tricking is not a crime.” Media reports for the time described “the Giuliani camp of waging ‘an outrageous campaign of voter intimidation and dirty tricks.’”

Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) looked very impressive in his campaign introduction for U.S. Senate, opposing incumbent Ted Cruz (R-TX), which started with $2 million donations in the first 36 hours. Probably feeling threatened, Cruz sent a text to his supporters blasting Allred. Just one problem, he used a photo of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg instead of Allred. Before Cruz’s video, Allred, also a civil rights attorney, had his own video. In it, he said:

“We don’t have to be embarrassed by our senator. We can get a new one.”

How could Cruz make that mistake? Hint: both Allred and Bragg are Black. (Allred is on the left.)  

Known for his corruption, Mississippi’s GOP Gov. Tate Reeves kicked off his reelection campaign in a video with his face superimposed over that of Clint Eastwood in clips from the Dollars trilogy movies. Reeves is shooting Mexican bandits—people of color. His state has the highest firearm mortality rate in the U.S. in addition to ratings near the bottom in health and education.   

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) is undermining national security, according to a bipartisan group of seven former defense secretaries, all living former Pentagon chiefs from the past quarter century including two DDT appointments. They wrote that Tuberville’s block on about 200 military promotions is harming military readiness and U.S. national security. Tuberville thinks his blackmail effort will stop a policy of paid leave and travel stipends for abortions or fertility treatments for troops and their families. Senate rules currently state that just one person can stop legislative action. The letter explained:

“Some are unable to take important command positions, such as leading the 5th Fleet in Bahrain and the 7th Fleet in the Pacific, which are critical to checking Iranian and Chinese aggression, respectively. Others include the next military representative to NATO, a post essential to coordinating allied efforts in support of Ukraine, as well as the future Director of Intelligence at U.S. Cyber Command.

“Leaving these and many other senior positions in doubt at a time of enormous geopolitical uncertainty sends the wrong message to our adversaries and could weaken our deterrence.”

It explained other problems Tubervill is causing for military members and concluded:

“We can think of few things as irresponsible and uncaring as harming the families of those who serve our nation in uniform.”

The conviction of four far-right Proud Boys this past week for seditious conspiracy brings the convictions of violent paramilitary groups participating in the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to fourteen. DOJ AG Merrick Garland said:

“And now after three trials, we have secured the convictions of leaders of both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers for seditious conspiracy, specifically conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power. Our work will continue.”

Garland’s last sentence sounds ominous for others involved in the attack, which can include DDT. Proud Boys’ attorneys used the defense that DDT told them to “stand back and stand by” before calling them to the capital to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Enrique Tarrio, although not physically at riot, was convicted: leaders inciting the violence can be convicted even if they aren’t present.

GOP congressional leaders such as Alabama’s Gov. Sarah Huckabee, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rick Scott (R-FL) have also proudly appeared for photos with Tarrio.

Seditious conspiracy means to “conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States.” It carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The man who bragged about starting the riot on January 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol received a 14-year sentence, the longest thus far imposed on the 600+ people guilty of the attack.

DDT may have company in an indictment for wire fraud: Georgia’s U.S. losing GOP senatorial candidate Herschel Walker took hundreds of thousands of dollars from billionaire donor Dennis Washington for his personal company, never disclosed on financial statements. Verified emails show Walker asked Washington to wire $535,200 directly to HR Talent, LLC. Washington thought he was making political contributions to Walker.

Some of the mass shootings in the past week:

In Lake Wales (FL), a man murdered a woman and her three children, ages 11 to 17, on May 2. In Florida, people can carry a concealed weapon without a permit as of July 1, 2023. 

A sex offender in Oklahoma, released early from prison, shot murdered his friend, her three children, and their two friends on May 2. He had sent a series of ominous messages to a 23-year-old woman he groomed from prison for several years. Oklahoma requires no permit, training, or criminal background check for purchasing handguns, which he used to kill his victims.

A man murdered one person and injured another three in an Atlanta (GA) hospital medical office on May 3. After a law went into effect on January 1, Georgians no longer need a permit to carry a gun in the state.

On Cinco de Mayo, one person was murdered and at least other six people were injured in a Mississippi restaurant near Biloxi. The state requires no permit, background check, or firearms registration for private sales of handguns and no age limit for open carry. With the weakest gun laws in the country, Mississippi has the single worst rate of gun deaths and highest rate of gun homicides in the U.S.

In an Allen (TX) outlet mall outside Dallas, a shooter murdered at least eight people and injured at least seven more, including children, on Saturday. Texas does not require a license or permit for concealed carry of guns in public places; handguns don’t require training. Local agencies are forbidden from following new federal gun safety laws.

At a party in Chico (CA) on the same day, a mass shooting injured at least six people and killed another one. The state has the strongest gun laws in the U.S., but lax guns laws in states to its east allow weapons to enter the state. The district’s U.S. representative, GOP Doug LaMalfa, voted against gun safety laws in Congress.

Some media outlets require at least four murdered people, not counting the perpetrator(s) for their definition of “mass shooting.” To the Gun Violence Archive, a mass shooting is at least four people, not including the shooter, either murdered or injured. Whatever the meaning, Republicans openly state they can do nothing about the increase in shooting people at parties, restaurants, schools, hospitals, stores, homes, places of worship, etc. Instead, the GOP makes gun laws more lenient. No place in the United States is safe from this violence.

February 6, 2023

It’s Crazy Out There!

The ignorance of Fox watchers must be phenomenal! The latest balloon conspiracy theory coming from Fox & Friends host Rachel Campos-Duffy is that President Joe Biden had to get “permission from China” before shooting down the balloon. China’s “leverage over the president [was] concerning Hunter Biden.” It’s the laptop, you see. No mention, however, of all the Trump family business connections with China.

Even Republicans who don’t spout far-out conspiracy theories have the party line that Biden should have told the public every step he planned to take: tell every strategy to preserve national security to everyone, including possible enemies, before taking action. The biggest danger from the balloon is the frenzy created by Republicans to terrify people in the U.S. An excellent essay from Jonathan Last in the Bulwark. And the greatest danger to the U.S.: the GOP decision to default on the nation’s debts.

Abortion rights may be constitutional, according to a federal judge in Washington, D.C. originally appointed by Ronald Reagan, because of the 13th Amendment, not explored by the Supreme Court when it overturned Roe v. Wade. At the end of the Civil War, the U.S. ratified the amendment blocking “slavery” and “involuntary servitude.” The judge wrote that the high court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson “was not whether any provision of the Constitution provided a right to abortion. Rather, the question before the Court in Dobbs was whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution provided such a right.”

Also fighting for the 13th Amendment argument are several Jewish organizations have filing lawsuits arguing that religious freedom protections in the First Amendment or state constitutions may extend to abortion rights. Lawsuits from The Satanic Temple support this position about abortion restrictions violating religious freedom rights.

Part of the anti-abortion movement, however, are two hospitals in Colorado, a state that with statutory protection for abortion as a fundamental right. The most recent hospital, the only one in Durango with a maternity ward, issued a statement that it will follow the “Catholic church ministry” and no longer provide post-cesarean section tubal ligations cutting the fallopian tubes. Therefore, a woman must have two separate surgeries instead of one—a higher risk that also costs twice the amount and time. The hospital’s previous policy was blocking tubal ligations after vaginal births. The only exception to these rules is a genetic predisposition to ovarian or breast cancer. Other health risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, blood clotting disorders, and uterine abnormalities aren’t grounds for exemption.

Former FBI agent Nicole Parker, former Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, and Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are conservatives testifying at Rep. Jim Jordan’s (R-OH) first weaponization subcommittee hearing on February 9. They represent the #1 conspiracy theorist in the Senate, a Russian asset, a racist who supported the insurrectionist, and a supposed whistle-blower.

Last summer, the capital of Mississippi, Jackson, had no clean water for two months. In November, the DOJ assigned a federal manager to take care of the utility, and Congress, just before the Republicans took over the House, approved $600 million to cure the water system. The white legislators, however, didn’t want to spend any money, either state or federal for the Black population, and a state Senate bill would allow the governor and lieutenant governor to appoint the majority of a proposed regional water-authority board. The governor would select three of the nine members and the lieutenant governor two others. Gov. Tate Reeves has always been skeptical about Jackson managing its own issues, and the bill could move improvements and debt relief from Jackson into suburban utilities joining the water board.

The Jackson mayor described the attempt as “a colonial power taking over our city,” “plantation politics.” He said:

“It reminds me of apartheid. They dictate our leadership, put a military force over us and we’re just supposed to pay taxes to the king.”

Proposed legislation would also turn parts of Jackson’s police and court systems to state control. Asked about the concerns, GOP state Sen. David Parker, who presented the measure designed by the GOP lieutenant governor, said he could attach an amendment that would prohibit the funds being used outside Jackson’s city limits. That amendment, however, could be overturned later. The state already controls the money derived from Jackson’s one-percent sales tax for funding infrastructure projects.

Presidential wannabe and Florida governor Ron DeSantis decided to take credit for a Biden accomplishment, major funding for rural broadband infrastructure. Or broadbrand, as his sign said. In his big announcement, DeSantis said he was awarding $144 million in grant awards to rural broadband projects in his state. All went well until a reporter asked him if he got the funding from Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure plan, the new law that none of Florida’s GOP congressional members voted for, including Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. DeSantis finally caved to admit the grants were from the “federal government.”

DeSantis got another free gift for his states, e-books focused on Black history from Chicago-based Haymarket Books, self-described as “a “radical publisher of politics, culture, current events.” Haymarket’s press release:

“We at Haymarket stand in solidarity with all those in Florida and across the country who are organizing to resist. We know that books can be dangerous to those in power, especially when they are in the hands of folks who are organizing to fight for liberation. That’s why we publish them. That’s why they’re trying to ban them.”

Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reintroduced his bill to limit senators from serving more than two six-year terms. Last November, he announced he was running for a third term. Senators have served an average of 11.2 years and representatives, 8.5 years. Cruz’s advantage is that the term limit wouldn’t be grandfathered in. If the bill passes, he can run for a fourth term—if he doesn’t become president. He’s still contemplating a second presidential run in 2024. This is the fourth time Cruz has put the bill to change the constitution before the Senate, and it’s highly unlikely to get the necessary two-thirds votes in each congressional chamber, let alone ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures. A Democratic state senator has a bill allowing Texas to cap U.S. senators at two terms to “oblige” Cruz.

Benjamin Netanyahu returned as Israel’s prime minister at the beginning of 2023, and thousands of Israelis have gathered for five weeks in protest against the judicial changes, they say changes the nation from a democracy to an autocracy. Lawyers and business leaders oppose the proposed modifications, polarizing Israeli politics and society.

Tighter political control over judicial appointments would limit the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn government decisions of Knesset (legislature) laws. A simple majority of the Knesset could override a court decision, and the legislature could reinstate laws the court already revoked. Also the court could no longer rebuke government decisions with the test of “reasonability” in areas including environmental damage, and damage to quality of life. With the override clause, government could expropriate private property and make all its laws immune to judicial review. Appointments of government positions would have no supervision.

Another government proposal would expands illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. In changing immigration law, Israel would contradict positions to international conventions it ratified. The result would harm not only for international relations but also foreign investments.

The LGBTQ community is also concerned about the possible loss of rights from the homophobia of the new leaders, especially with the legislature override decisions from the court. Israel could shift from being a gay haven in the Middle East to a dangerous place for non-heterosexual people. Same-gender couples cannot marry in Israel, but they currently have the legal benefits of marriage with benefits, inheritance, parenting, adoption, etc., thanks to the Israeli Supreme Court. Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has been banned for over 30 years, but the Religious Zionist Party wants a homophobic theocracy. The right-wing parties struck a deal to use “religious freedom” to take away rights, much like recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Judicial reform will result in more conservative judges in Israel.

Netanyahu is on trial on several corruption charges. The judicial reforms would allow him to replace the current attorney general with his own appointment, someone who could revoke or amend charges against him.

Air pollution causes chess experts to make more mistakes, according to a study which doesn’t bode well for the performance of anyone living in that polluted air. With a modest increase in fine particulate matter, the magnitude of chess player errors increased by almost 11 percent. Professional players already monitor air quality while they play because of this understanding of pollution danger before the study. These results have could apply to anyone needing to think hard for employment, creating an economic cost.

MAGA folk claim they aren’t a cult, but a devoutly Christian Pennsylvania family was found dead in their backyard, leaving several notes that the suicides were a pact. With a multitude of anti-abortion signs in front of the house, they were obviously “pro-life.” The homeschooled daughter’s note made several references to the forces of evil conspiring against both DDT and herself. Definitions of a cult include “us versus them,” black-and-white answers for everything, and indoctrination—all indicated by the insurrectionists and many other DDT supporters.  

November 10, 2022

U.S. Democracy Hangs by a Thread After Non-existent ‘Red Wave’

On November 8, 2022, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) lost. He wasn’t on the ballot, but hundreds of his faithful, election-denying followers were. On the eve of Election Day, he claimed he would make a big announcement on November 15, probably a presidential candidacy for 2024. The grand party at Mar-a-Lago rapidly fizzled, and DDT called the night an “interesting evening.” One of his pets, Ohio’s Senate candidate J.D. Vance, won, but many others went down in flames, especially Pennsylvania’s senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz who lost to John Fetterman despite Tucker Carlson’s (Fox network) vicious, lying claims about the winner’s mental ability.

One GOP insider told Fox News, “If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now: We have a Trump problem.” Fox reported that the GOP should “move on from Trump” because of his “outlandish candidates who turned easy victories into close races, and close races into losses.”

After blindly following DDT during the campaigns leading up to the 2022 midterms, the GOP may openly face the disaster of DDT controlling their party. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said DDT is “in the rearview mirror” of the GOP and used Gov. Brian Kemp’s re-election as an example after DDT turned on him. Duncan added that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “knew what he’s talking about about [bad] candidate quality” and said, “It’s time to move on with the party.” GOP commentator Erick Erickson agreed, and conservative podcaster Ian Haworth went farther by declaring DDT “politically toxic.” Former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro tweeted:

“Trump picked bad candidates, spent almost no money on his hand-picked candidates, and then proceeded to crap on the Republicans who lost and didn’t sufficiently bend the knee. This will have 2024 impact.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (FL) had bragged about a 55-seat GOP majority, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who hopes to be House Speaker, expected 60 more Republicans. If the GOP takes the House, it might be lucky to get an additional six. Since World War II, first-term Democratic presidents have traditionally lost 40 House seats and 5 Senate seats in the midterms with an increase since President Carter in 1978 but not in 2022. Karen Tumlty wrote that the supposed “red wave” turned out to be “a messy puddle.” HuffPost pundits called it a “whimper.”

Far-right columnist Henry Olson ate crow for his mistakes, but DDT blames the losing candidates and refuses to take any responsibility for his hand-picked candidates losing. Journalists reported that DDT was furious and screaming about the losses. He even went farther when he blamed his wife, Melania Trump, for making him pick Mehmet Oz who lost the U.S. Senate election in Pennsylvania.

The brightest spots:

Pennsylvania – GOP gubernatorial and evangelical white nationalist Doug Mastriano lost to Josh Shapiro, and Dem John Fetterman beat Mehmet Oz. (After Oprah Winfrey endorsed Fetterman, he tweeted his #NewProfilePic. Oz’s appearance on Winfrey’s show had made him a celebrity.) Mastriano had worn his Confederate uniform for a faculty photo; the South lost again almost 160 years after the North won at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Oz can take his ignorance about his newly “adopted” state back to New Jersey, that does have an Atlantic Ocean beach. (Oz thinks that Pennsylvania is on the ocean; a map shows how far off he is.)

Abortion rights – Many anti-abortion candidates—Mastriano, Oz, lieutenant governor candidate Carrie DelRosso (PA), Michigan’s gubernatorial Tudor Dixon, and NC’s House Bo Hines—lost. Anti-abortion winners—Govs. DeSantis, Greg Abbott (TX), and Brian Kemp (GA) plus Sen. Ron Johnson (WI) and Sen-elect Vance (OH)—won’t make the same emphasis on removing women’s rights as a “red wave” would have done.

Anti-abortion initiatives in five states all failed. California and Vermont put abortion rights into their constitutions, and Kentucky voted against an amendment blocking the path to overturning its zero-week abortion ban. Despite vicious lies in Michigan, voters enshrined “reproductive freedom” beyond abortion rights to residents’ decisions regarding prenatal care, contraception, sterilization, and miscarriage management. That amendment blocks the 1931 anti-abortion ban. Montana voters rejected increases on doctors not performing aggressive medical interventions on infants, and Alaska refused to open a constitutional convention which could have added anti-abortion amendments.

More Democratic legislatures – Michigan, Minnesota, and possibly Pennsylvania legislatures flipped from Republican—Michigan for the first time in 40 years. In Minnesota, the one GOP legislative chamber blocked the expenditures of a $12 billion budget surplus through gridlock. Arizona is waiting to see if Democrats pick up the two seat majorities in both the state’s House and Senate. All states will be trifectas with Democratic governors; at this time Republicans have 23 trifectas.

Progressives in the House – The outspoken progressive who were elected in the past two terms will be joined by more, including Florida gun violence GenZ activist Maxwell Frost (FL), Democratic Socialists of America member Greg Casar (TX), and three left wing representatives from Illinois, Texas, and Pennsylvania.

Election deniers admitting defeat – Michigan’s Tudor Dixon and Matthew DePerno, secretary of state candidate; Wisconsin’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Tim Michels; and Pennsylvania’s Oz conceded. (Mastriano, Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial loser, stays mum.) 

Young people voting – As many as 27 percent of GenZ, ages 18-29, may have voted. They comprised over 12 percent of the electorate, and 63 percent preferred Democratic House candidates with only 35 percent backing Republicans. “Don’t underestimate the power of a pissed off generation,” tweeted NextGen America. 

Waiting in the wings – Georgia candidates for the U.S. Senate, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker will face off on December 6 for the seat. With 98 percent of the vote reported, Warnock had 35,000 more votes than Walker, but he has only 49.4 percent of the vote. State law requires the winner to achieve a majority. One theory for the winner is that Republicans will come out to vote for Walker because he could be the key to control of the Senate, but others say that Walker’s votes came on the coattails for Gov. Kemp, who has already won. If the latter idea is correct, Walker may have fewer votes than in the general election.

Midterms 2022 marked several historic firsts:

  • LGBTQ+ candidates ran for office in all 50 states, with an increase of these candidates by 18 percent from 2020. Thus far at least 340 out LGBTQ candidates have won in the midterms, breaking the 2020 record of 336.
  • First women governors elected in Arkansas (Sarah Huckabee Sanders), Massachusetts (Maura Healey), and New York (Kathy Hochul).
  • Democrat Healey, the first elected lesbian government and closely followed by Oregon’s Tina Kotek.
  • Democrat Wes Moore, Maryland’s first Black governor, the only Black governor in the U.S. and the third elected since Reconstruction after the Civil War.
  • Democrat Anthony Brown, Maryland’s first Black attorney general. a longtime political figure in Maryland, will be the state’s first Black attorney general.
  • GOP Markwayne Mullin, the first Native American senator in almost two decades and first Native American senator from Oklahoma in a century.
  • Youngest congressional member and first member of GenZ (ages 18-29), 25-year-old Maxwell Frost from Florida.
  • Becca Balint, first openly LGBTQ person Vermont elected to the House of Representatives and first woman from Vermont sent to the House. Vermont was the last state to send a woman to Washington, behind Mississippi who sent a woman in 2018.
  • Katie Britt, first female senator elected from Alabama.
  • Summer Lee, the first Black woman Pennsylvania elected to the U.S. House.
  • Delia Ramirez, the first Latina elected to Congress from Illinois.
  • Robert Garcia (CA), the first out LGBTQ immigrant elected to Congress and the second out Latino to serve in Congress.
  • Republican Anna Paulina Luna, Florida’s first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress after she flipped a House seat. She joins a dozen Latinx congressional members from Florida.
  • James Roesener (NH), the first openly trans man, and Zooey Zephyr (MT), and the first trans woman to be elected to state legislatures.

Republicans are searching for reasons why the red tsunami didn’t hit the U.S. Fox network hosts during the election breakdown have a simple answer for why Oz lost his race: Fetterman won. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) complaint sounded like a compliment for Democrats. He agreed with President Joe Biden’s list of successes: “rebuilding America’s roads and bridges,” “lowering prescription drug costs”; “tackling the climate crisis,” and making sure that large corporations begin to pay their fair share in taxes.” Cruz asked, “Why did Democrats do better than expected?” and answered his own question, “Because they have governed as liberals.” Republicans want to destroy government that works for the people’s benefit.

In the aftermath of the election, former VP Mike Pence has finally broken up with DDT. With her usual humor, Bess Levin tells the story for Vanity Fair. Maybe Pence is getting ready to announce his own presidential campaign for 2024. (Right: a discouraged “toxic Trump” waves at all the big names he invited to his Mar-a-Lago party before he left early.)  

More election perceptions—and new wins, if possible—tomorrow.

September 22, 2022

More Fraud – September 22, 2022

Special master Raymond Dearie is back in the news on Thursday: he ordered the lawyers of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) to submit a sworn declaration if they believe the FBI planted evidence at Mar-a-Lago during the August 8 search. The declaration must include “a list of any specific items set forth in the Detailed Property Inventory that Plaintiff asserts were not seized from the Premises on August 8, 2022.” DDT recently repeated the accusation of FBI planting materials this week when talking to Sean Hannity on Fox network. Dearie set September 30 for the declaration’s deadline and asked DOJ for declarations about key facts regarding the search. His actions give an opening to hearing testimony about the search and seized materials from “witnesses with knowledge of the relevant facts.

The DOJ was also ordered to submit “copies of all seized materials” except those marked classified to DDT’s lawyers by September 29. DDT’s legal team must finish reviewing all documents for potential executive or attorney-client privilege by October 14 while regularly sending designations during the interim. Reviews and final designations from both sides are due by October 21. Dearie may also send  proceedings to Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who approved the search warrant. Retired federal judge James Orenstein, appointed by George W. Bush, has been hired to help the review with his staff from the Eastern District of New York assisting. Orenstein had served “on the prosecution team in the Oklahoma City bombings trials.” Attorney General Merrick Garland played a leading role earlier in his career in the Oklahoma City investigation. Dearie said he won’t be paid for his work because the government is paying him as a federal judge but proposed that Orenstein be paid $500 per hour covered by DDT, based on an earlier court ruling.

Some of DDT’s faithful GOP senators are abandoning him, especially his ability to declassify documents just by thinking he does. John Thune (SD) said declassification has a process which should be followed and “apply to anybody who has access to or deals with classified information.” Thom Tillis (NC) agreed, and Mike Rounds (SD) called handling of classified documents a “very serious” issue. Other senators dodged the question, like Mike Braun (IN) who claimed ignorance about the “proper methodology.”

DDT made many bizarre comments about the search for government documents at Mar-a-Lago, but one that belies belief is that the FBI thought they could find “the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around someplace.” He repeated that to Sean Hannity on Fox this week, trying to gin up rumors by lying about “a lot of speculation” in his alternative reality.   

Past fraud has returned to haunt DDT—his 2014 rivalry with the 1980s metal rocker Jon Bon Jovi to buy the football team Buffalo Bills. In the $250 million fraud civil lawsuit filed by Letitia James in New York, DDT allegedly inflated assets’ valuation to finance a purchase attempt. DDT smeared the New Jersey resident, saying was that he was too Canadian for Buffalo because of Bon Jovi’s coalition of Toronto-based investors. In his $1 billion bid for the team, DDT needed a letter from a bank that he could get $800 million in financing. A Trump Organization executive, Jeffrey McConney, told the bank that DDT’s wealth, reportedly $800 billion, had “no material decrease” since the 2013 personal statement of financial condition, but those valuations were artificially inflated with DDT’s “deceptive strategies.” Although DDT claimed Bon Jovi planned to move the Bills to Toronto, he didn’t get the team and neither did the rocker. The winning $1.4 billion bid came from Terry Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team.

Conservatives complained that the nation’s unemployment insurance program to help people during the pandemic caused people to quit work and live on the “government dole.” Yet fraudsters skimmed over $45.6 billion from the program, using dead people’s Social Security numbers and identities of prisoners ineligible for aid. That finding could be incomplete because of the focus on “high risk” areas for fraud; billions of dollars may also have been stolen. Thus far,1,000 people have been charged for these crimes, and 190,000 investigative matters have been opened. The program began in 2020 under DDT’s term in the White House.

In another program to help people during the worst of COVID, 47 defendants have been charged with stealing over $250 million from Feeding Our Future to provide free meals for needy children. Other charges involved about $1 trillion in loans and grants intended for small businesses, and GOP governors have used funding from a $350 billion program by making tax cuts and immigration crackdowns—such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis shipping migrants from Texas to Massachusetts.

DeSantis has dropped to a new low in cruelty. He lured migrants to a hotel in San Antonio (TX) miles from their shelter with the promise to fly them to jobs, homes, and help in Delaware, only to cancel the flight and abandon the people. An anonymous source close to DeSantis stated that the flight, supposedly scheduled to land about 20 miles from President Joe Biden’s beach home, was to “punk” media and Democratic officials and “put a spotlight on the border.” Migrants were told they could stay in the hotel for the night before the bogus flight if they didn’t talk about the travel plans or who arranged them. The next morning, they were told the flight was canceled. Their recruiters hired a bus them back to San Antonio’s Migrant Resource Center ten miles away which would provide three days of shelter and aid. Some migrants were not told about the bus, and none of them received food after the flight was canceled.

In April, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sought federal protection for Venezuelan asylum seekers in the U.S.; five months later he accuses them of entering the U.S. “illegally.” He also doesn’t twisted the law, lying that migrants kidnapped by Florida’s governor from Texas and transported across several state lines could not sue for legal recourse. Rubio is only two points ahead of his reelection opponent, Val Deming.   

According to Rubio, health exceptions for the pregnant woman in an abortion ban are also a “massive loophole” and like vehicular manslaughter.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the man who fled the Texas cold during the energy shutdown for the Cancun warmth, is claiming “a great partisan victory!” In a video he took credit for a highway from Laredo to North Dakota that brings jobs and ”tens of billions of dollars” to his state, declaring his pride in the years of hard work for the project. Yet he voted against the bill unlike the other Texas senator, John Cornyn, among 18 Republican senators.

The GOP, party who claims to want transparency, unanimously blocked a Senate bill revealing names of donors giving over $10,000. Republicans need the dark money to get elected.

House Republicans briefly released their policy platform called “Commitment to America” on House Minority Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) website but soon dropped the public’s ability to see the document. Before its disappearance, however, multiple screenshots were taken. It criticizes the Democrats reduction of popular prescription drug costs and “fight inflation and curb the cost of living” through cuts in government spending and taxes, probably for the wealthy as in the 2017 GOP law. Its promise to “save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare” was preceded by a GOP House committee meeting to reduce coverage and cut benefits by “massively” slashing Social Security in its proposed 2023 budget. Another “commitment” is new restrictions on voter access, including mandating voter ID, loosening rules on voter roll purges, and increasing access for observers during elections.

The platform is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract with America.” McCarthy, however, proposed only one bill promised to get floor votes instead of Gingrich’s ten, a Parental Bill of Rights based on blocking the teaching of “critical race theory.” Deliberately vague, the agenda doesn’t deal in specifics. The one-page document, now removed from McCarthy’s website, is here

McCarthy tried the same grocery store stunt as Pennsylvania’s GOP candidate for U.S. senate, Mehmet Oz, to show the plight of people in the U.S. and failed, just like Oz. In a video with the store as backdrop, McCarthy talked for 15 seconds about financial problems before hellish images and statements about the country’s drugs, inflation, and kids falling behind because of non-existent school closures. He lied about the U.S. being in a recession, and he had no Republican solution, only GOP control of the House.

Claremont, MAGA’s most prominent think tank, is home not only to John Eastman, legal architect of DDT’s plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election, but also the “Sheriff Fellows,” MAGA sheriffs learning the fellowship’s curriculum of two sets of people in the U.S.—communities to be treated as freely and brutally as law enforcement wish and the “real Americans” who are above the law. Sheriffs are a likely target for extremism because the office is vulnerable and can enable vigilantes to exert havoc on society. They have great authority with tanks, helicopters, SWAT teams, battering rams, surveillance technology and guns to terrify community members. Claremont’s curriculum for training these sheriffs is here. Sheriffs are elected; voters should be wary.

And Thomas Barrack, DDT’s close friend, is on trial this week for secretly lobbying DDT on behalf of the United Arab Emirates for personal power and financial gain.

July 14, 2022

Today’s News – July 14, 2022

Anti-abortionists attended a House hearing to spread their misinformation about what classifies as abortions to mitigate the negative reaction to their new cruel laws that force even ten-year-old rape victims to carry fetuses to full term. In a House hearing, Rep. Eric Swallwell questioned Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, about the case of an Ohio girl, 10, forced to go to Indiana because she had been pregnant for six weeks and three days—three days after the Ohio deadline to have an abortion.

Conservatives first claimed the story was a lie, and Fox network, unlike the Wall Street Journal didn’t even correct or amend their earlier erroneous reporting. Instead, Fox’s Jesse Watters, who had earlier called the abortion a “hoax,” then took credit for the arrest of the rapist with the term “illegal” used for the arrested man, moving the focus from the plight of the girl to the documented status of the arrested man. Watters also turned on the Indiana doctor Caitlin Bernard, who made the pregnancy and abortion public, when he said the rape wasn’t reported although her mother made a referral to children services that then told law enforcement. Townhall writer Matt Vespa attacked the left’s criticism of right-ring media instead of writing about the child being forced to leave Ohio for an abortion.

Indiana’s GOP AG Todd Rokita threatened the doctor who performed the abortion with losing her license, but Bernard filed a terminated pregnancy report within the required timeframe. Rokita had described Bernard as an “abortion activist acting as a doctor” and said “the legal review is still open.”

Foster testified in the hearing that an abortion for the girl “would not be an abortion” because “it would fall under any exception.” Swalwell continued to question her, asking if “a decision not to have a baby as a result of a rape” is not an abortion for a ten-year-old. She repeated her claim, saying that “it would not fall under any abortion restriction in our nation” because it’s “not an abortion.” A definition of abortion is “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.”

Erin Morrow Hawley, Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) wife and senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, also doesn’t know that ending an ectopic pregnancy, usually when the fetus tries to develop in a fallopian tube, is also an abortion because it terminates a pregnancy. Hawley claimed it wasn’t an abortion because it didn’t intend “to end the life of the child.”

Ohio’s AG Dave Yost denied that the girl had to “leave Ohio to find treatment” after he called the story a “likely fabrication” before the rapist confessed. Rep. Jim Jordon (R-OH) denies he said the rape was a “lie” after he posted it was and then deleted the message. An attorney from the far-right anti-abortion group National Right to Life Committee said the 10-year-old girl should have been forced to give birth. Ten states including Ohio have no exceptions for abortions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.

As the investigation into the insurrection continues, the U.S. Secret Service has erased texts from January 5 and January 6, 2021. Homeland’s Security inspector general Joseph V. Cuffari, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), reported that the texts vanished “as part of a device-replacement program” despite a law that staff members must surrender the records. Text messages could reveal actions of DDT and the Secret Service on those days. Cuffari’s office is under investigation by the independent Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) for undisclosed allegations of misconduct. The program for new cellphones, begun just before Joe Biden’s inauguration, did not back up old text messages, possibly those sent and received by former White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, DDT’s former security detail leader Bobby Engel, and other Secret Service senior leaders.

The same problem of disappearing information occurred in 2018 with lost text messages investigating Hillary Clinton, following a Secret Service history of mysteriously vanished records and agency staff refusing to cooperate in providing information. One situation arose when a congressional committee requested records reportedly showing that the Secret Service received ample advance warnings and threats before President John F. Kennedy’s death. White supremacists and other organizations were plotting to kill President John F. Kennedy using high-powered rifles from tall buildings. The day after the request, Secret Service said records were destroyed as part of the normal culling of old archives.

Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House January 6 investigative committee, said they will try to “construct” the missing text messages which could provide information about efforts to remove former VP Mike Pence from the Capitol and DDT’s attempts to join his supporters at the insurrection.

Senators claim they are close to a bipartisan agreement to clarify that the vice president performs only a ceremonial role in overseeing electoral college vote certification as part of a deal to overhaul the Electoral Count Act. The proposal would be referred to committees of jurisdiction to be further accessed before floor votes.

A Washington, D.C. police office corroborated the June 28 testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson about DDT’s heated exchange with his Secret Service detail on January 6, 2021 when he was told he couldn’t go to the insurrection at the U.S. Capital after his rally. The officer was in the motorcade; Hutchinson repeated Ornato’s account that an enraged DDT “reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel” and “then used his free hand to lunge towards” his Secret Service lead agent Robert Engel. Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her the story in front of  DDT’s driver, Engel, who did not dispute the account.

Texas is suing Biden over his new abortion guidance order warning hospitals and health workers would be in legal jeopardy if they refuse to treat patients who need an abortion. AG Ken Paxton’s lawsuit states that it violates doctors’ rights to not participate in terminating a pregnancy and the state’s right to control the procedure’s regulation. His case only covers the requirement for abortions in emergency circumstances to keep federal funding. A DDT-appointed judge will hear the case, and any appeal will go to the DDT-loaded Fifth Court of Appeals.

Republicans have argued that women who want abortions can always travel to get them, but GOP legislators blocked a law permitting this travel despite the fact that any medical procedure across states would be interstate commerce and fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Basically, women can’t get abortions and can’t travel in some states. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said prosecuting out-of-state abortions are like “fugitive slave laws.”

Every Republican House member voted against investigating white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the military. The amendment to the annual defense spending bill passed along party lines. Recently, violent neo-Nazis and white supremacists have been identified as active-duty military members. Four Republicans did vote for another amendment ordering the Government Accountability Office to produce reports assessing whether the FBI, DHS, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were in compliance with “domestic terrorism transparency mechanisms” mandated by federal law. Last month, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act had one Republican vote and four other Republicans didn’t vote. It would create domestic terrorism departments in the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security to monitor, analyze, investigate and prosecute those crimes. All these bills now go to the Senate.

At her press briefing on July 13, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre talked about the 122-page budget plan from the conservative Republican Study Committee, Blueprint to Save America, presenting the perspective of most House Republicans. They’ve already been succeeding in parts of it such as drastically reducing nationwide abortion access and working to eliminate transgender rights. Other goals are significantly reducing the nation’s entire safety net, raising the age for Social Security benefits, no longer combatting clilmatge change, blocking prescription drug pricing reform, ending birthright citizenship, eliminating government agencies, and making it easier for all people to carry concealed weapons. The Blueprint.

A mile-long fleet of 52 yellow school buses went to Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) Houston home with 4,368 empty seats representing the number of children killed by gun violence since 2020. The first bus had items from school shooting victims including a pair of worn-out checkered Vans from 15-year-old Gracie Muehlberger, who was killed at her Santa Clarita high school in 2019; a kindergarten graduation card with a smiling teddy bear on it, awarded to Sandy Hook victim Chase Kowalski; and a ​​LeBron James Miami Heat jersey adored by Joaquin Oliver, who died in the Parkland school shooting in 2018. The NRA Children’s Museum is the latest project from Joaquin’s father, artist Manuel Oliver who also delivered a letter to the home of Cruz, who has received $749,000 from the NRA, written by Joaquin when he was 12. He spoke to gun owners about his thoughts on gun control in the country.


June 6, 2022

GOP Definition of ‘Freedom’ Equals Mass Fear

Twelve days ago, 19 children and two teachers died in a Uvalde (TX) classroom while school district police chief Pete Arredondo, with no training in hostage situations, blocked 140 law enforcement officers representing 14 different agencies, including Border Patrol agents, from going into the classroom for 78 minutes. Also blocked was the Uvalde police force, who has active training in these situations and cost the town of 13,000 at least 40 percent of its budget. Motives for the 18-year-old’s shooter include lies by GOP Nevada state treasurer candidate and present Las Vegas city Council member Michelle Fiore who repeated false rumors that the cause was the drugs taken by the shooter because he was “transgendering,” which made his mind “defective.” Earlier Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) lied that the shooter was a transgender. “It’s a transsexual leftist illegal alien. It’s apparently your kind of trash,” he tweeted to a question about the shooter being the type of “trash” who supported Gosar and other of his similar ideological allies such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

A few days after the shooting, all law enforcement and state officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott stopped proving any information or holding press conferences, but AG Ken Paxton has initiated an investigation—into Twitter for possibly deceiving Texans with fake bot accounts. Conservative multi-billionaire Elon Musk, CEO of Texas-based Tesla, threatens to withdraw his offer to purchase Twitter if the social media platform has over the estimated 5 percent bots it claims. Paxton said he had “a duty to protect Texans.”

Arizona GOP legislators are praising the law enforcement mistakes made in the Uvalde massacre. State Sen. Kelly Townsend explained how school shootings can’t be stopped and compared them to abortions, but she wants vigilantes to guard ballot drop boxes in upcoming elections. Her senator colleague Rick Gray, GOP majority leader, said school shootings are because “for decades, we’ve been teaching our children in school that there is no God.” Yet some state Republican lawmakers want teacher licenses pulled if they don’t carry guns in the classroom and teach lessons on religion. Any call for action from Democrats have been ignored. The GOP ignores needs for a stable water supply, mitigation of wildfires, and affordable housing.  

Ohio got on the GOP teacher-with-guns movement. A new law allows teachers to have firearms in their classrooms after completing 24 hours of training. Gov. Mike DeWine said he had “worked with the General Assembly to remove hundreds of hours of curriculum irrelevant to school safety.” The bill was opposed by major law enforcement groups, gun control advocates, and the state’s teachers’ unions. Ohio teachers can lose their licenses, however, if they talk to students about issues of race and ethnicity.

In New York state, where an 18-year-old killed ten people in a Buffalo grocery store ten days before the Uvalde massacre, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new laws to bolster existing ones and loopholes. New laws

  • Microstamping of bullets and new semiautomatic pistols to help law enforcement solve gun-related crimes.
  • Elimination of grandfathering high-capacity feeding devices.
  • Expansion of the “red flag” law taking guns from people who could be a threat to themselves or others to allow the involvement of more people, including healthcare professionals. It also requirements, not permits, law enforcement to seek an order with credible information.
  • Requirement of a license for purchasing semiautomatic rifles, former mandated only for handguns.
  • Age limit of 21 or higher to purchase semiautomatic rifles.
  • Expansion of a “firearm” definition to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive including modified firearms to be shot from an arm brace.
  • Restriction of bullet-resistant vests and armor to people in certain professions.
  • Criminalizing mass harms threats. 
  • Enhanced law enforcement reporting by law enforcement to state and federal gun databases—seized  or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse, participation in the ATF’s collective data sharing program, and the make, model, caliber, and serial number of the gun entered into the national crime information center.
  • Gun dealers required to enact uniform security and reporting standards and employee training on conducting firearm, rifle, and shotgun transfers, including identification of and response to illegal purchases with State Police inspections every three years.
  • Prohibition of those under 18 who are not accompanied by a parent from entering certain locations of a gun dealer’s premises.
  • Mandate for social media platforms to improve policies in responding to hateful conduct and “maintain easily accessible mechanisms” for public reporting.

Hochul said that the law was passed “in the name of the lives that have been lost, for the parents who will no longer see their children stepping off the school bus.” If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the New York concealed carry law, lawmakers will return to pass a new law to limit those who may be allowed these permits. Because of the state’s tough laws, most violent crimes use handguns, not AR-15 style rifles, from out of state.  

Almost half the Republicans, 44 percent, love their huge caches of guns so much that they prefer dead children to giving up their “freedom.” They say that the violent U.S. just has to live with mass shootings. Of all the people in the nation, however, 62 percent want a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles, used in two thirds of the mass shootings during the past three years. Support for “red flag” laws to stop gun purchases by people considered a danger to themselves or others are at 72 percent. In a new poll, 77 percent want the minimum age for buying an assault to be over 18—32 percent at 21 and 45 percent at 25. Support for federal background checks on all gun purchases is at 81 percent. All these percentages are over 60 percent, the number required to pass the Senate, but that 60 percent represents only 43.3 percent of the population—and most of them Republicans.

This 44 percent of Republicans stall with “thoughts and prayers,” using fake excuses such as mental illness and security issues for blame instead of the 400 million guns in the United States. Even without the new gun safety laws, New York’s death rate is 5.3 per 100,000 people, half the U.S. average and 18.5 percent of the 28.6 death rate per 100,000 people in Mississippi which has a 50-percent gun ownership. Red states have the highest rate of gun deaths and gun ownership; blue states have the lowest.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) complained about “elite” gun control advocates in government and media who have “great bulwarks of safety, from gated communities equipped with private security or, at the very least, from safe and expensive neighborhoods protected by high home prices and low crime rates.” In 19 months, Cruz has spent about one-half million dollars to a protection firm; as a Harvard graduate, Cruz belongs to the “elite.” His expenditure on “security” is slightly more than the gun lobby gave him.  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who refused to traumatize children by requiring them to wear masks protecting them from COVID, wants to bring back veterans with guns to fill classrooms.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is all for “stopping things before they happen” but not if it means gun safety regulations. No limiting access to deadly weapons, no “red flag” laws,” no keeping guns from “a 19-year-old.”  He claims these ideas are “unconstitutional” although the courts haven’t made that decision. His complaint about removing weapons through “red flag” laws takes away due process, but the procedure uses judicial reviews and court orders. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is the only recent prominent U.S. politician who wanted to violate due process in connection to guns. After an expelled student killed 17 people and wounded another 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland (FL), DDT said, “Take the firearms first and then go to court.”

In 11 mass shootings this past weekend, at least 17 people died and over 60 were wounded in eight states from Pennsylvania where multiple shooters shot into a crowd enjoying Philadelphia nightlife to Chattanooga (TN) where another 3 people were killed and 14 injured near a nightclub. It was the second mass shooting there in a week. A drive-by shooting hit at least eight people at a graduation party with a 32-year-old woman killed and the others wounded, six or seven age 17 or younger. In Arizona, a 14-year-old girl died, and eight other people were hospitalized. Nearby Mesa (AZ) saw two more people dead and two others injured outside a bar. Texas, Georgia, New York, and Michigan had more mass shootings this week, resulting in a total of at least 246 throughout the U.S. since January 1, 2022—157 days. A mass shooting is defined as “one that injures or kills four or more people.”

The definition of freedom to 44 percent of Republicans is forcing fear on everyone as they walk on the streets, shop, send their children to school, go to a hospital or doctor’s office, honor their religious faith, attend festivals, have a night out on the town, even stay home. The only safe place where Republicans ban guns is at an NRA convention.

May 18, 2022

 Sad Events of the Week

Monday the Supreme Court legalized bribery—again. A 6-3 vote struck down another McCain-Feingold campaign finance act provision, eliminating the restriction on candidates’ ability to collect donations post-election to pay off personal loans to their campaigns. The winning case by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) permits lawmakers to give political favors to donors who put money directly into their bank accounts. In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote the decision will “bring this country’s political system into further disrepute.” Cruz, who put over half the justices onto the high court, still hadn’t paid back $545,000 of the $1 million plus he loaned his campaign.

Cruz opposed the law limiting the $250,000 payoff with money raised more than 20 days after the election. It used the rationale that donations after the election don’t go toward political speech but only line candidates’ pockets. Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion stated that the law fails even lenient constitutional scrutiny because it “burdens core political speech without proper justification.” Yet after-the-fact donations don’t fund any “electoral speech.” Kagan condemned the practice as “sordid bargains” and “dirty dealings,” but Roberts called “influence and access.” Wealthy political candidates (aka Republicans) won’t have to suffer “non-existent” burdens, but the Supreme Court will force real burdens on pregnant women searching for legal abortions—at least legal in some states after SCOTUS finishes with them.

Mark Joseph Stern writes:

“Kagan and Roberts’ disagreement runs much deeper than the facts of this one case. It is, at bottom, a dispute about the government’s authority to safeguard democracy by outlawing the kind of self-dealing that makes lawmakers responsive to a small set of oligarchs rather than the people. [Kagan] provided multiple examples of these contributions facilitating corruption: In Ohio, the governor handed out more than 200 state contracts to his postelection donors. In San Diego, three city council members voted to benefit lobbyists who raised money to retire their campaign debts. In California, a congresswoman raised donations from lobbyists to pay off her personal campaign loans—at 18 percent interest. There’s nothing to stop politicians from using postelection contributions to pay off interest payments, allowing them to ‘turn a tidy profit,’ in Kagan’s words.

“There is an undercurrent of disgust in Kagan’s opinion, an evident revulsion toward the majority’s endorsement of a captured democracy. Her previous dissents in campaign finance cases evince outrage over the damage inflicted by the court; in Cruz, she sounds not just angry but horrified and sickened by what her colleagues have wrought. Our political system, she suggests, is already in ‘disrepute,’ and Monday’s decision will only ‘further’ its collapse by granting First Amendment protections to bribery.”

Scientific American has a piece by Wendy E. Parmet on how the Supreme Court has become bad for people’s health:

“For most of American history, courts treated the protection of health as an important aspect of the social contract, one that is implicitly woven into our laws. This centrality of public health to law—encapsulated by the legal maxim salus populi suprema lex (the health and well-being of the public is the highest law)—was widely accepted in 19th- and 20th-century state and federal court decisions. The most famous constitutional case evincing health’s centrality was the Supreme Court’s 1905 decision in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a Cambridge (MA) vaccination mandate. In it, Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, ‘There are manifold restraints to which every person is necessarily subject for the common good. On any other basis organized society could not exist with safety to its members.’”

In a 1987 case about whether a school could legally fire a teacher with tuberculosis, the high court adopted the legal test from the American Medical Association and stated, “In making these findings, courts normally should defer to the reasonable medical judgments of public health officials.” Gone, however, are the days of using medical information. Now the conservatives’ anti-science aggression rules the court with no concern for health or expertise, especially after Amy Coney Barrett joined the four ultra-conservative justices.

They ignored OSHA’s “vaccine or test” mandate although agreeing it would avoid 65,000 deaths. Some justices said that preventing deaths from COVID may not be a compelling state interest. In his draft opinion overturning Roe, Samuel Alito ignored any harm to women’s health. Gone is any attention to evidence of scientific experts; now conservative justices use their “intuition.” In the Roe argument, Roberts even said “put that data aside” about scientific evidence. Alito based his opinion on the practice of law before 1868 back to medieval times instead of the 21st century position that abortion is safe and critical to women’s health.

In his statements about the killings of ten and wounding another three, most of them Black and over 50 years of age, President Joe Biden condemned the action by an 18-year-old White man in Buffalo as “domestic terrorism.” He and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, visited Buffalo and met with first responders and victims’ families on Tuesday. In his brief address, he talked about the hate coming from the “great replacement” theory running “through the media and politics, the internet [that] “has radicalized angry alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced.” That theory supported by half the Republicans is Democrats are deliberately replacing “white Americans” with minorities, especially immigrants. In calling on people to “condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and for profit,” Biden said, “White supremacy is a poison … running through our body politic.”

The Israel army admitted they “might” have killed journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, but it didn’t stop police from attacking mourners of the beloved woman when they tried to carry her casket on their shoulders. Abu Akleh was fatally shot while covering an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.  Fellow journalists witnessing the shootin said Israeli forces had fired on them. Israel’s prime minister and other senior officials initially tried to blame Palestinian militants. At an East Jerusalem hospital, mourners were beaten with clubs, horrifying viewers watching it on live television. To support its claim that mourners waved Palestinian flags and changed nationalist slogans, Israeli police edited drone video to remove the police first charging the mourners and then slowed down footage of a man waving his arms in frustration to claim he was throwing objects at the police. 

Thousands of people joined the procession to a funeral at a Catholic church in Jerusalem’s Old City. Latin Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa, top Catholic clergyman in Israel, condemned the beatings and accused authorities of violating human rights and disrespecting the Catholic Church. When Abu Akleh was killed, the Palestinian-American, Catholic reporter who worked 25 years for the Al Jazeera satellite channel wore a blue vest clearly marked “Press.” The international researchers at the Dutch Bellingcat supported witness accounts that Israeli fire killed Abu Akleh.

If you face price gouging at the gas pump, thank a Republican. Along with other GOP legislators, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) slammed the investigation of oil companies making excessive profits as “socialism” like in “Soviet Russia.” (Never mind that Russia stopped being “Soviet” over 30 years ago.) A week ago, she blamed Biden for the high prices and tweeted it’s time to “get these prices under control” because they are “taking a devastating toll on the pocketbooks of families.” Thanks to Rodgers and her colleagues, huge oil company profits—which they call free enterprise—take precedence over families—and maintaining higher inflation will get them re-elected. The bill didn’t set price caps; it just permitted the Federal Trade Commission to look into the possibility of price gouging. Republicans on the House Rules Committee blocked the advancing of H.R. 7688, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act; the GOP calls it the “Socialist Energy Price Fixing Act.” Wait until Republicans take over the house and then decide to investigate—maybe even block—price gouging. Voila! Republicans reduce inflation!  

Fox’s Tucker Carlson again gets an award for being the most disgusting host on the network. In another program for appearance on Russian state TV, he called Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) “Eyepatch McCain” because Crenshaw criticized congressional members voting against aid for Ukraine. Crenshaw said:

“People are saying ‘we can’t put baby formula on our shelves, but we are sending money to Ukrainians? My response to that is, do you know how much baby formula you can buy with $40 billion? None, because it is not a money issue, it is a manufacturing issue.” 

Crenshaw wears an eyepatch because he was hit by an IED in Afghanistan during the Navy Seal’s third tour there. In a medically-induced coma, Crenshaw was sent to Germany where the remains of his right eye were scraped out and a copper wire was removed from his other eye, requiring two years for complete recovery. After treatment, he deployed to Bahrain and South Korea. Crenshaw said that a glass eye is “very distracting to people” and makes him feel “self-conscious.” He wears the patch primarily when he meets strangers or appears at political events.

Born in 1969, Carlson was a child during the later years of the Vietnam War, ending in April 1975. The military draft ended two years earlier, and the U.S. created an all-volunteer force. Carlson never got closer to the military than criticizing it during his talk shows.

One really bizarre story! Nick Fuentes, the 23-year-old far-right founder of group for the principles of American Nationalism, Christianity, and Traditionalism (aka bigotry), also leads the unofficial “Groypers,” who think extreme right-wingers aren’t far enough right. Sometimes considered gay because he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he said:

“I think if anything—if anything—it makes me less gay. If anything, it makes me not gay—as opposed to less gay, not that there’s any gay, but it makes me not gay.”

He continued by saying that never having a relationship or sex with a woman makes a man more heterosexual because “dating women is gay.” Hmmm. The question is why right-wingers, including Christian evangelicals, are so obsessed with sex.

May 11, 2022

Republicans Discover Leaks May Come from Conservatives, With to Protesting Protests

Eight days ago, the news was filled with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s rough draft of a majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. Republicans were outraged as well along with half the media. It filled the news with a huge number of articles about who did it and how horrible they were. Six days later, Washington Post reported another leak from someone close to the court’s most conservative members. Supposedly Chief Justice John Roberts told his jurist colleagues in a private conference that he would both uphold the Mississippi law and leave both Roe and he later Casey v. Planned Parenthood in place. Therefore, Alito wrote the opinion because, as the most senior justice in the majority opinion, Clarence Thomas could select the opinion author. Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote that Roberts was trying to persuade Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to join him in moving more incrementally. Roberts’ reputation is on the line because it’s his court.

In the past, Roberts has opposed the Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals because a similar law in Texas was struck down in 2016. The legal principle “stare decisis” means the court should treat “like cases alike.” Last fall, Roberts was in the minority when he declined to join the majority that stated abortion Texas’ bounty law could not be challenged in federal court before it went into effect.    

Note, however, that neither Republicans nor the media have said almost nothing about this particular leak. Was it because it came from “the court’s most conservative members.”

Before this report, Cruz repeatedly stated that the leak came from some horrible liberal because “some left-wing presumably law clerk wanted to put political pressure on the five Justices” in the document’s majority. “They wanted to put heat and they wanted to invoke politics to try to get them to change their vote. And by the way,” Cruz continued, “if that left-wing law clerk succeeds, it would be the most grotesque politicization of the Supreme Court in the history of our nation.” Asked for evidence, Cruz answered, “Because I’m not a moron.” He didn’t give any evidence for that statement either. Cruz was not happy when the journalist suggested a conservative inside the Court leaked the opinion because “they supported the original [Roe] decision and wants to lock them [the Justices] back in.”

Cruz accused peaceful pro-choice protesters of stirring up violence but told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the January 6 insurrectionists were all “peacefully protesting.” No protesters outside the homes of justices have caused trouble, damaged property, or hurt anyone—let alone kill them. They also aren’t making nooses and chanting “Hang Mike Pence” about a justice as DDT’s supporters did about their Republican vice president. Shortly after that attack, however, Cruz described the rioters as “terrorists assaulting police officers, tragically murdering a police officer.”

Cruz now has a new topic, the ethics and legality of people protesting at the homes of justices. It started with one of Brett Kavanaugh’s neighbors standing across from his house with signs and hangers, a symbol of illegal abortions. Since then protests moved to the homes of Samuel Alito and John Roberts. Congress has passed a law protecting them although no one else doctors performing abortions and their patients have not received the same protection. Republicans ignore the fact that men and right-wingers are far more likely to be violent than women and progressives.

The conspiracy theories moved to Alito. On Friday, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students4Life, tweeted, “Justice Alito and his family have been moved to an undisclosed location. Let us pray for he [sic] and his family’s safety.” On Monday, Politico wrote the reports seem to come from conservative lawyer and author Ilya Shapiro who had said on Fox he “heard that Justice Alito has been taken to an undisclosed location with his family.” He didn’t know where it was or whether it was true. According to Shapiro, “I forget whether I saw the rumor on Twitter or somebody told me. I don’t know.” Cruz poured fuel on the flames:

“Shameful. And the Biden White House is encouraging this lawless mob intimidation.”

Cruz is well-known for spreading evidence-free rumors about a variety of subjects.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a supporter of the insurrectionists, has been highly critical of the peaceful protesters at the justices’ homes. Her constituents didn’t take it lightly. This image was headed “Speaking of safety and security for public officials… 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who voted to confirm the anti-abortion justices, called the police after her constituents left a polite chalk message on the sidewalk in front of her house asking her to please vote for a bill to protect women’s rights. She called it “defacement of public property in front of our home”; the Bangor police called it “not overtly threatening.” Collins said she supported both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch because they promised her in meetings and during confirmation hearings that Roe was “settled law.” As Melissa Ryan tweeted, “Susan Collins will put more effort into protecting herself from sidewalk chalk artists than she will protecting everyone else’s right to an abortion.”

Tucker Carlson argued that attempts to influence “any judge, juror, witness, or court officer” could be fined or imprisoned. According to the Supreme Court case Cox v. Louisiana (1965), Carlson may be correct. The court’s opinion stated that “mob law is the very antithesis of due process.” Any trial against protesters, however, would have to prove that the attempt was to influence instead of expressing outrage.

The government has also placed fences and barricades around the Supreme Court building to put protesters at a distance. Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney general in Alabama, tweeted, “Odd that the Supreme Court is acting like they’re under assault, when it’s actually us who are under attack by them.” In 2014, the Supreme Court struck down a Massachusetts law allowing a 35-foot buffer zone around clinics providing abortion services because the violated the First Amendment’s right to protest. According to the Supreme Court, the barricades are a violation of free speech. And Alito’s rough draft states that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to privacy.

Justice Clarence Thomas worries that protest does not bode well for a “free society,” in a speech at a judicial conference of 11th Circuit judges and attorneys, he complained about how the judiciary is threatened if people are unwilling to “live with outcomes we don’t agree with.” Thomas’ wife lobbies for the people and groups who appear in front of Thomas in the court, and she was part of the instigation before the insurrection at the Capitol, lobbying then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with overturning Biden’s election because she couldn’t “live with outcomes.”  While unethically supporting his wife’s lobbying and overturning a 49-year-old law, he berated younger Americans for not respecting the law. He wants people to comply with the law but belongs to the cabal overturning the law by reversing two earlier Supreme Court decisions permitting women autonomy over their bodies.

As incensed as Republicans are about leaking a Roe v. Wade decision, the first decision for Roe happened almost 50 years ago. David Beckwith published a story in Time magazine that the court was ready to legalize abortion. It was detailed—when justices met and Justice William O. Douglas rage at Justice Warren Burger’s delay tactics to subvert the outcome. Months before the decision was announced, Douglas’ memo to fellow justices and their clerks describing Burger’s inappropriate power plays was on the front page of the July 4, 1972 Washington Post. Burger did put off the decision until the next session when the court heard the case again in October 1972. Beckwith bird-dogged the case and published the article on January 22, 1973, although it was supposed to come out on January 17, when the announcement was supposed to be announced.

Burger delayed the announcement, however, because he didn’t want to face President Richard Nixon while presiding over his second inauguration. When Time printed the story, Burger was furious because it came out a few hours before the court’s announcement. Burger met with its editors and insisted that Beckwith be fired for “espionage.”

Justice Harry Blackmun was also furious about Beckwith’s article because he planned to make his announcement the apex of his career. Former President Lyndon Johnson, however, scooped everyone: he died on the day of the announcement. The leak, by the way, came from Larry Hammond, a clerk for Justice Lewis Powell. He suffered no repercussions because Powell told Burger “that Hammond had been double-crossed.”  

The right-wingers are proving they can go farther right. Republican Ryan Kelley, running for Michigan’s governor is opposing democracy. He said, “Socialism—it starts with democracy. That’s the ticket for the left. They want to push this idea of democracy, which turns into socialism, which turns into communism in every instance.” The concept comes from the philosophy of the John Birch society opposing one person one vote to protect them from minority people voting. Christian evangelicals in the U.S. are converting to the Russian Orthodox Church in a rejection of democracy. They like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarianism. 

What’s next?

March 23, 2022

SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing

The latest confirmation hearing for a Supreme Court justice began last Monday, and Republicans promised a “respectful” back and forth. From the first GOP speaker on Monday regarding President Joe Biden’s nominee through 13 hours of GOP electioneering and ugly questions on Tuesday, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the only “respect” was on Jackson’s side; the Republicans acted like a bunch of “mean girls” in their verbal attacks on the candidate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) opened his questioning of Jackson with the unconstitutional question, “what faith are you, by the way?” (A person isn’t a faith; a person sometimes has a faith.) He continued the illegal badgering by asking if she regularly attends church and “on a scale of one to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?” Graham used these questions as revenge for questions for Amy Coney Barrett, but Barrett had written that her religion should influence her judicial opinions. Jackson said the reverse. About Jackson’s response that she is a nondenominational protest, he asked her if she could “fairly judge a Catholic.” No one ever asked the six Catholics now on the Supreme Court how they could deal with non-Catholics.

Following that, he attacked her for her defense of Guantánamo Bay prisoners during her employment with a private firm. To Jackson’s response that she was working for her clients, he pretty much called her a liar. In whining about Michele Childs, his preferred nominee from South Carolina, not being chosen, Graham seemed to accuse her of working with groups asking Biden to not nominate Childs. The preference of several GOP senators, Childs defended large corporations in race and gender discrimination cases, including a beachwear retailer charged with near-daily sexual assault at work.

After Graham used almost all his time to complain and cut off Jackson’s answers, he promised more “questions” about Jackson’s judicial philosophy during the four-day hearing. He also denigrated Jackson’s supporters by calling them wanting to “pack the court,” believing “this court is a bunch of right-wing nuts who are going to destroy America,” and considering “the Constitution trash.” He added that “these right-wing radical groups” will “destroy the law.” He took up extra time not allotted and then stomped off in a huff. Ten months ago, Graham was one of three GOP senators to vote for Jackson when Biden nominated for the D.C. Circuit Court.

After Graham, each senator presidential wannabe carved out his subject: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – the so-called “critical race theory”; Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), like Cruz under ethics investigation for supporting the January 6 insurrectionists – pornography; and Sen. Tom Cotton  (R-AR) – drugs, rape, and murder.  Cruz already drew national media attention for his temper tantrum in the Bozeman (MT) airport that required police intervention; he had arrived too late to check in on his scheduled flight. He was rescheduled and arrived in time for the hearing.

In his speech on Monday, Cruz bemoaned the lengthy process of confirming Supreme Court justices—skipping over former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) refusal to address President Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland for the president’s last ten months in office. Cruz praised the confirmation of Bushrod Washington as justice the day after appointment. Washington had been serving on a temporary basis for over a month, and the slave-owner was confirmed by a Senate in which 58 percent of the members also owned slaves. Cruz also brought up Brett Kanvaugh’s hearing by saying no one would ask Jackson, “Do you like beer?” In fact, Kavanaugh asked that question of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) that question.  [visual – Kavanaugh beer cartoon]

Cruz tried to start a conspiracy theory with his claim that the White House not giving Republicans the same documents as Democrats. Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) told him “we completed discovery before we started the hearing” and said Republicans had access to all the information. Yet Cruz kept saying that Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) had information that Republicans didn’t have until Durbin shut him down.

According to a Washington Post factcheck:

“Hawley is still leaving out significant context in his thread. He uses snippets of quotes, pretends a bipartisan recommendation is Jackson’s alone and then ignores a variety of factors—such as probation recommendations and out-of-date guidelines—that might result in lower sentences. In his zeal, he also ignores a long debate within the legal community about whether the current guidelines are appropriate.”

Andrew McCarthy wrote an essay about Hawley’s attempt to smear Jackson for the conservative National Review

“For now, I want to discuss the claim by Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) that Judge Jackson is appallingly soft on child-pornography offenders. The allegation appears meritless to the point of demagoguery….  (Contrary to Hawley’s suggestion, however, she appears to have followed the guidelines, at the low end of the sentencing range, as most judges do.)”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) falsely accused Jackson of calling George W. Bush and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “war criminals” when she was “representing a member of the Taliban.” In fact, Jackson, then a public defender, filed a habeas petition on behalf of a Guantánamo Bay detainee alleging that he had been tortured in violation of international law. Bush and Rumsfeld were respondents, required by procedural rules.

Sen. Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) used all the other attack topics before she launched into a transphobic diatribe. She asked Jackson about a definition of a woman and then blocked her answer after Jackson said, “I can’t …” When she could finish, Jackson said, “I’m not a biologist,” and Blackburn continued her verbal assaults. As in many of her other answers, Jackson reminded the questioners that her job would be to interpret the law. Blackburn forgot about Texas law that could declare parents of transgender children guilty of child abuse for their healthcare of the minor when she said:

“And parents want to have a Supreme Court justice who is committed to preserving parental autonomy and protecting our nation’s children.”

On Monday, Blackburn asked Jackson about a “personal hidden agenda” to bring critical race theory into “our legal system” and referred to transgender girls as “biological males.” Two years ago, Jackson had spoken about Nikole Hannah Jones’ “provocative thesis that the American that was born in 1776 was not the perfect union that it purported to be, and that it is actually only through the hard work, struggles, and sacrifices of African Americans over the past two centuries that the United States has finally become the free nation that the Framers initially touted.” About girls sharing locker rooms with transgender girls, Blackburn said, “They’re being treated like second-class citizens.”

Women who want contraception might also be concerned that Blackburn’s rejection of Jackson included her rejection of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 SCOTUS ruling that legalized birth control, as “constitutionally unsound.” If she wants it overturned, she has five conservative justices who might do it.  

Despite Republicans repeatedly repeating questions, such as Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) demanding an answer to his question about what Supreme Court justice Jackson would emulate, Jackson kept her cool and stuck to her first answer to the question—in this case, that she already has a history of 570 cases while on the bench.

Former Republican Charlie Sykes made two points about the first day of questioning for Jackson’s confirmation.

“(1) The confirmation process is no longer about judicial qualifications, because (2) it’s now all about payback and ideology.”

Jackson’s manner and credentials are so impeccable that all Republicans have are vicious statements and hypocrisy. It’s all theater to attract QAnon followers for the 2024 election. 

Garland wasn’t nominated because Republicans said eight months was too close to an election. Barrett went from appointment to justice in only 31 days—just one week before the election.

A major false charge from the Republicans concerns “dark money” groups supporting Jackson. McConnell has been pushing dark money into politics for decades, and that includes money supporting Barrett. Fox’s Laura Ingraham complained about “the left’s dark money trolls” but didn’t mention her involvement with Independent Women’s Forum, the Koch network dark-money group evolving from the committee defending Clarence Thomas from sexual harassment accusations in his 1991 confirmation hearings. Dark-money propaganda partially comes from the Judicial Crisis network, the conservative nonprofit hiding its donors. Its president clerked for Thomas, and the group, also receiving money from the Koch network, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to support nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. JCN also spends millions to elect their state judicial and attorney general candidates and pledge at least $10 million backing Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. An undisclosed donor gave them $17 million.

The conservative Gallup poll found 58 percent approval for Jackson’s approval. Only John Roberts had a higher approval, and that was only one point higher in the past 35 years. Jackson is seven points higher than Amy Coney Barrett, 13 points higher than Neil Gorsuch, and 17 points higher than Brett Kavanaugh who came in at 41 points approval and 37 percent opposed. Barrett was the most controversial with 46 percent in opposition and only three percent having no opinion. 

Wednesday continues the questioning of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson with much more mud thrown at her.

March 21, 2022

Truck Convoy Claims They Want ‘Freedom’

A month ago, the law closed down a disruptive truck convoy in Ottawa and blocked city streets and closed down businesses because a few truckers opposed vaccination mandates for crossing the border into the United States. The emergencies act blocked them, the law enforcement drove them out, and all their donations—even in bitcoin—were frozen. Polling showed that 72 percent of the people wanted protesters to “go home,” and the protests made 44 percent of them more likely to support mandates for mask wearing and cross-border vaccine checks. Only 21 percent were more likely to oppose the mandates, and the rest of them didn’t care.

Other parts of Canada are more successful about controlling convoys. In Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, police blocked trucks from getting to the legislature after eight weeks of incessant noise and ridicule against those who wear masks. The convoy protest was cancelled.

In the United States, bored, attention-seeking truck drivers want to cause chaos in Washington, D.C. The motley collection of mostly white men including Three Percenters, Proud Boys, and a variety of QAnon followers gathered 80 miles outside Washington, D.C. for their camp in Hagerstown (MD). Participants who said they voted in 2020 supported Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and believe the election was rigged against him. The ones who didn’t drop out on the trip from California searched for obstacles in their cry for “freedom.” They kept repeating the demand about no masks although only one state, Hawaii, still requires them.

Pete Simi, researcher of far-right movements, explained their current hostility to the D.C. police:

“You’ve got to have villains. You’ve got to have enemies, you’ve got to have outgroups, and D.C. police, part because of what happened with Jan. 6, they have a special status as a potential source of antagonism for these folks. Because of the emphasis on confrontation, there’s always that unforeseeable potential in terms of the turns that it can take, and when it is going to escalate to the point of where there’s potentially overt violence.”

At the beginning of the convoy’s trip on the day before Russia invaded Ukraine, they claimed to be peaceful and wouldn’t leave the Beltway to go into the District. Organizer Brian Brase told them that, like on January 6, 2021, they had to stay out of D.C. proper, falsely claiming that their going into the city was a police “set-up” to justify a crackdown on conservatives. After mask mandates were lifted, truckers added conspiracy theories and other far-right grievances. Last week, irritated by blockades into downtown Washington, they complained about the violation of their First Amendment rights, split up, and started traveling D.C. streets. Driving through the streets, they honked, disrupted commutes, and harassed people.

Paul Waldman wrote that the convoy is protesting something that doesn’t exist:

“The protesters shifted their complaint from the specific to the general, saying that liberty is under assault from everywhere. That creates an umbrella under which almost anything can fit, whether what bothers you is building codes or the microchip Bill Gates and the CIA implanted in your brain.”

Paranoid truck drivers believe commuter traffic near them are “antifa vehicles,” ripe for their attacks. One trucker, John Bigard livestreamed on the OTR Survival YouTube channel his getting out of his truck on the highway and going over to a car trying to merge from the far-left lane to reach an exit. Bigard repeatedly ranted at the driver, punched the car’s window, ridiculed the driver’s accent, yelling “f**king idiot.” Bigard drives for Courier Delivery in North Carolina. In other road rage, four trucks boxed in a car by coordinating on CB radio to pull the driver over and take over two lanes of the highway. One trucker got into a minor accident and then threatened to run over the driver who got out to talk.

In downtown D.C., police are investigating the possibility that one of the convoy truckers hit a pedestrian on Sunday afternoon while the convoy drove through the city. A DuPont Circle resident said she was on the west side of the 1600 block of Connecticut Ave NW “when [the convoy member] struck her with his vehicle and drove on top of her right ankle.” Donald Bryan Thomas of Butler (OH), driving a silver BMW 550i with stickers such as “TRUCKERS RULE!!! MSM LIES” blamed the woman for walking

At a meeting, a driver used a racist rant in calling on the convoy to vandalize the Black Lives Matter Plaza. He said, “All that paint’s coming off that street. Before I get put in my grave, it’s going to get tar and feathered, and then we’re going to tar and feather all our delegates.” Protesters also gathered outside the home of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the hated right-wing symbol of vaccinations and masks.

 About extremists, Simi said:

“That’s part of what the culture thrives on, the idea that they have this power to potentially intimidate, coerce through fear, through their history of using violent action that obviously, people are well aware of. That is a source of empowerment for folks within that culture.”

Republican politicians and candidates came to worship at the shrine of the Hagerstown speedway camp. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) even rode in the lead truck complete with a classic video of his trying to de-truck. Pennsylvania state senator and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who chartered buses for the January 6 rally, dropped by along with nine GOP congressional members. Those events were orchestrated pro bono by the GOP consulting firm Axiom Strategies that worked for Cruz and Virginia’s Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Cruz wants his DDT supporters back after his stupid actions including his description of the January 6 rioters as “insurrectionists.” Fox’s Tucker Carlson made him retract the statement and apologize for it. The drivers still booed him when he tried to make a speech at their camp.

Truck drivers say they want to slow down traffic, but they weren’t as successful as a guy on a bike who rode slowly in front of the line to frustrated honking from truck drivers. The video, complete with noise, has been seen over 4.2 million times. [visual – truck bicycle]

Truck drivers felt they didn’t enough attention from calls to police about insignficant problems, and the leader Brase suggested drivers “flood 911” with calls because the Maryland police wouldn’t take their calls about insignificant problems. Brase said, “So they can answer the phone tomorrow or enjoy 911 calls.” A police communications official said the truckers’ calls are answered and that a driver flipping off a trucker is not an emergency. Frivolous 911 calls not only keep help from needy people but are also illegal. Wanting to cause more trouble, drivers get out of their rigs and wander around in the middle of traffic on the highway.   

All those “expert” truck drivers also had trouble with the D.C. rain and traffic, having trouble finding their way around. Truckers canceled the convoy for a day because of the rain. Brase wandered the camp with a bag for donations. He also took unwarranted credit for rolling back vaccine and mask mandates throughout the country that had already been announced before the convoy. 

The convoy has collected almost $2 million, processed by the right-wing American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedoms, for gas and food although the goal was $5 million. Donations seem to have disappeared the last week. Questions have been raised about wire fraud or intent to defraud because of the convoy’s website claims that “100% OF THE DONATIONS GO TO SUPPORTING THE CONVOY!”

The convoy took a day off on Monday after their organizer left for home but promised to be back tomorrow. Organizer Brase said, “We ain’t going anywhere” just before he went home, saying he needed to “take a break.” No one knows if or when he’ll be back. The convoy has no deadline to leave but might relocate.

Zachary Petrizzo with The Daily Beast tweeted on Sunday:

“Today out in Hagerstown, more and more truckers with The People’s Convoy have complained about becoming sick with a bad cough. One streamer, ‘OTR Survival,’ ended up going to an urgent care, and described the illness as getting ‘hit by a bus.’”

Observing the “freedom fighters” in the U.S. since DDT’s election gives a new definition of “freedom”:  to people like those in the truck convoy, freedom means, “I can do anything I want to do no matter what how much damage it causes people.” The other part of the definition for “freedom”: “I can stop anyone else from doing anything if I disagree with what they are doing.” That’s the new perception of “constitutional rights” for conservative rights.

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