Nel's New Day

October 9, 2022

News – October 9, 2022 (Some Hopeful)

Twenty miles from Fort Myers (FL) where multitudes of homes were destroyed, a 4,600-resident model community at Babcock Ranch, a 100-percent solar-powered built-to-code storm-resilient town, suffered only ripped pool coverage, broken fence posts, downed trees, and a few missing shingles. It didn’t even lose power. Structures are on land 25 feet higher on average than surrounding communities, and buildings are specified for Category 4 hurricane winds of 145 mph. Drinking water wasn’t contaminated and never shut off from the water system and wastewater plant deep into an underground aquifer. The 700,000 solar panels owned by Florida Power & Light covering 900 acres suffered little damage. Population of the town is expected to grow to 50,000 with six million square feet of commercial space. Houses can be expensive, but some of them start about $300,000. Sadly, Florida will probably rebuild on the beaches with no regulations, and people will again be destroyed in another hurricane.

President Joe Biden’s administration has reunited 500 children separated by the zero tolerance border policy instated by former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The number is almost half the goal of over 1,100 separated children returned to their parents. About 200 families are being processed, and another 150 contacted by the government haven’t responded. Reunited families may temporarily stay in the U.S., and parents separated from their children have work permits for three years. The program also provides mental health service through non-profits. Some children have not seen their parents for four years. The cases meet the definition of torture, according to a study, because “U.S. officials intentionally carried out actions causing severe pain and suffering in order to punish and intimidate mainly Central American asylum seekers to not pursue their asylum claims.”

Headlines have lambasted President Joe Biden’s job losses the past month from 315,000 to 263,000 jobs, “the slowest month of hiring in 18 months” (Fox), after his administration created 10 million jobs in the past 20 months. Yet increasing employment edged down to unemployment of 3.5 percent, and real economists are delighted with the overall picture, predicting no recession.

Compare Biden’s record to that of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who promised 25 million new jobs in a decade but ended up with 3.1 fewer million jobs when he left office than when he came into office. People might blame the COVID problems, but he increased jobs by only 6.6 million in his first three years and then badly mismanaged COVID in his last year. DDT left office with the worst jobs record since Herbert Hoover in 1932. President Bill Clinton created 22.745 million jobs during his two terms followed by George W. Bush with 0.523 million new jobs in two terms.

In the 18 months since Biden’s rescue act, over 8 million people jobless in March 2021 now have jobs. Last year’s economy had its fastest growth since 1984, ending 2021 with a three-percent higher GDP than before the pandemic. Unfortunately, a hot economy also kicked off a higher inflation rate exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, higher prices for huge big business profits, and now the OPEC’s cut in oil production. People had money, and their purchases drove up prices. The Federal Reserve started to drive down prices by raising interest rates which angered people who want both low prices and low interest rates.

In one way to lower costs for people, Biden is tackling “junk fees,” the hidden costs from overdrafts on a bank account to terminating cellphone contracts early, usually impacting low-income people the most. The project goes through agencies controlling areas in which these fees predominate—banks, credit unions, debt collection, transportation, etc. For example, payments for credit card late fees fun $12 billion. Eliminating some of these fees may help problems with inflation. Some banks such as Capital One and Citibank have already done away with non-sufficient funds and overdraft fees. Wells Fargo dropped NSF fees but kept the overdraw ones after making $1 billion from January through September 2021.

Two states have delayed anti-abortion laws until litigation moves through the courts. One of the blocked laws is the 1864 anti-abortion legislation passed in Arizona passed during the Civil War, 48 years before Arizona became a state. In Ohio, a county judge blocked the state’s “heartbeat law,” eliminating any abortions after the law pretends an ultrasound noise at six weeks is an embryo’s heartbeat.

A dozen hypocritical Florida members of Congress joined both Florida senators and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) to beg Republican Kay Granger (TX) for aid after Hurricane Ian despite their “no” votes on providing the assistance. At least one of them still stands by his “no” vote and praised his colleagues in the Florida delegation for the same action. Their objection is that other states could receive disaster assistance.

Republicans have continued their fury with the Democratic opposition to “trickle-down” economics, the theory that cutting taxes for the wealthy would allow them to hire more workers, a philosophy that failed for much of the 20th century and most recently failed in the 2017 GOP tax cuts for big business and the rich that financially benefited only these categories. Unfortunately, the good news of over 10 million jobs created since Biden’s inauguration and the increased buying power from congressional economic stimulus bills led to inflation and lower stock markets because business wasn’t prepared to provide goods and it raised prices for greater business profit.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott may have committed fraud by using federal COVID-19 relief funds for transporting migrants out of the state to northeastern U.S. as part of his anti-immigrant Operation Lone Star. In the 2021 regular session, Abbott persuaded the GOP legislature to approve $1.1 billion for border guards and their supplies but wanted more money. He called a special session to get for another $1.9 billion for another 1,800 guards/troopers and a border wall, Operation Steel Curtain. When Abbott reallocated funds from a number of agencies, he said nothing about using COVID funds and told them that “the agencies’ earlier appropriations have been fully funded with other sources.”

GOP legislators loudly shouted the word “socialism” for the new infrastructure law while grabbing the money and behind the scenes begging for funding before telling their constituents how they, who voted against the laws, are benefiting them. In one of dozens of requests, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) attacked what he called “President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list” and wrote Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about his support for the multimillion dollar grant to improve part of Highway 65 in his district. Emmer called it “a social justice measure.” Perhaps the most hypocritical and crazy congressional member, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) bitterly complained about the bill serving “the America Last’s socialist agenda” before writing three separate letters imploring for funding that would enhance quality of life with the projects he wants. Other congressional members—Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Reps. Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez (R-FL) Rep. David Valadao (R-CA), Rep. Ashley Hinson (IA), Rep. Marwayne Mullin (R-OK)—took the same approaches to smear the bill and pleading for money.

Republicans almost always take the opposite position of President Joe Biden in anything he does, but in the case of the president’s pardons for federal convictions of cannabis possession, they’ve gone off the radar. From the RNC and the congressional and senate committees, only silence. From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), nothing. Just a couple of weak tweets about “soft on crime” from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), wannabe presidential candidate, and Fox network’s Laura Ingraham.

Last week for Tesla was the worst week since March 2020 when COVID was announced. Electric vehicle production and delivery numbers didn’t meet analysts’ expectations, over 21,000 short despite two new factories in Brandenburg (Germany) and Austin (TX). That was before Elon Musk posted his controversial solution to the Russian invasion that Ukraine should give them part of the Country that Russian president Vladimir Putin wants. Musk also said he was continuing his deal to buy Twitter but would charge cryptocurrency for posts.

Then Musk took China’s side against Taiwan for “peace reunification” in which China controls Taiwan—sort of like Musk recommended for Russia’s control of Taiwan. The response was the same as from Ukraine: Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim answered, “Taiwan sells many products, but our freedom and democracy are not for sale.” Tesla has a large factory in China.

And an oldie but goodie from August. In McAllen (TX), an anti-LGBTQ church put on an unauthorized performance of the popular musical Hamilton that changed language to make it homophobic with its version of Christianity. One of the pastors lied about how “the Hamilton team” gave the church “the license to perform” their version, but Hamilton’s creators called them out on the falsehood. The pastor then admitted the church didn’t request or receive this permission and promised to destroy all images of the production, never stage it again, and pay damages. The pastor had depicted Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary, as accepting Jesus Christ as his savior, and gave a sermon comparing homosexuality to drug use. Hamilton’s letters indicated his romantic feelings for his closest male friend, and the play’s creator Lin Miranda helped launch an initiative to support Florida’s Hispanic LGBTQ community. The money for damages goes to the South Texas Equality Project, a coalition of LGBTQIA+ organizations.

September 27, 2022

News on September 27, 2022, Hearing Canceled Etc.

The House January 6 investigative committee has postponed its September 28, 2022, hearing because of Hurricane Ian, expected to go through Florida the next two days. The upcoming hearing was expected to focus on a declaration of victory for Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) despite his loss in the 2020 presidential election. Danish filmmakers filmed DDT’s friend Roger Stone during the months prior to the election showing his prediction of violent clashes with left-wing activists because DDT would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power. In one video clip, Stone says:

“F–k the voting, let’s get right to the violence. Shoot to kill. See an Antifa? Shoot to kill. F–k ’em. Done with this bulls–t.”

The committee also has details about Stone’s contacts after obtaining records of Kristin Davis, aka the Manhattan Madam, who was with Stone at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC on the day before and the day of the Capitol attack. Stone also called Enrique Tarrio, head of the Proud boys, before and after the January 6 and contacted the former Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes nine days after the attack. Both are charged with seditious conspiracy.

Other Stone contacts are with prominent Republicans who tried to overturn the 2020 election such as Texas AG Ken Paxton and Donald Trump Jr’s aide Arthur Schwartz. During the 2016 election, Stone was middle-man between Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and DDT’s campaign. In his book The Breach, Denver Riggleman, former staff member of the investigative committee, describes how DDT’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was the center of the efforts to stop the certification of Biden’s electoral college win through his thousands of texts.

According to recent revelations, Secret Service leadership turned over cell phones from 24 agents to DHS Inspector General, DDT-appointed Joseph Cuffari, in July. The House committee had requested texts from the phones almost a month ago. Cuffari knew in December 2021 that the phones had been wiped, but he waited to inform Congress and the National Archives required to retain the records. His own staff called on President Joe Biden to fire Cuffari, and political scientist Norman Ornstein describes Cuffari’s actions a “coverup of treason.”

Paxton, who initiated the persecution of families with trans youth, ran away in a truck to avoid being served with a subpoena for a federal court hearing scheduled for Tuesday. The lawsuit is from nonprofits trying to help state residents pay for out-of-state abortions because of Texas’ vigilante law against the procedure. Paxton claimed he left the premises because he was concerned for his safety although the process server identified himself and held up the subpoena. For the past seven years, the attorney general has been under indictment for securities fraud and faces a lawsuit from former top deputies accusing him of abuse of office. In his reelection primary, Paxton received under 43 percent of the vote as high-profile Republicans tried to unseat him, but he defeated George P. Bush, Jeb Bush’s son, in the runoff. Texas’ voter suppression laws will likely put Paxton into power while he awaits a trial on his indictment.   

DDT’s special master, Raymond Dearie, has postponed the deadline for another week to complete digitizing the 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago because no vendor will work for him. The government may need to hire a vendor. DDT’s $3 million new lawyer, Chris Kise, has also disappeared from the investigation into the 11,000 documents seized from Mar-a-Lago; he may be moved into DDT’s business legal problems.

Two new books about DDT reported House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called DDT “crazy” and considered a vote to convict DDT in the January 2021 impeachment trial. Now McConnell has endorsed the bipartisan electoral count reform bill to keep future presidents from trying to overturn presidential elections through Congress. The bill would reaffirm that the vice president has only a ceremonial role for the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes and increase the number of congressional members to object to a state’s electors. The Senate bill already has support from 11 GOP senators, more than enough to overcome a filibuster if all Democrats vote for cloture.

McConnell prefers his bill to the House bill passed by 229-203 with support from nine Republicans who will not be returning in 2023. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) was one of the sponsors, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the bill unconstitutional. The House bill requires at least one-third of the members of both the House and the Senate to object to a state’s electors instead of the current one member from each chamber. McConnell’s preference is for one-fifth of the members from both chamber in the Senate bill.

The electoral bill has been struck from the continuing resolution bill trying to avoid a government shutdown this weekend. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-V) will not support Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) bill because part of the pipeline runs through his state and seizes property from private owners. Kaine said he wasn’t consulted on the language of the bill or given a chance to share his constituents’ “deep concerns” over the project. The bill also changes the legal battle from the 4th Circuit to the D.C. Circuit. Kaine said litigants should appeal instead of changing “federal law to achieve their goal” if they object to the 4th Circuit ruling. If Congress doesn’t soon pass some sort of budget agreement, the government will shut down on October 1.

In a frantic search for the way out of his problems, DDT moved from Hillary Clinton’s missing emails to the “lost” millions of emails in George W. Bush’s White House. In 2008, Democrats claimed the missing emails left an “enormous gap in the historical record“ during a critical period. Newsweek reported in 2016:

“This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction, and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.”

DDT may have given up on Clinton’s “scandal”: the article states in the first sentence that no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Clinton exists. After his recent—and repeated—claims about Clinton, DDT lied about Barack Obama taking classified secrets and clashing with the National Archives. DDT still can’t find a parallel for his taking classified materials, leaving them lying around in a fancy country club, refusing to return them, and being investigating for obstructing the retrieval process. He’s working on the “what about …” and “everybody does it” defense.  

The party of “law and order” and its leader are still savagely attacking the FBI, the lead agency for enforcing both domestic and foreign crimes. After its investigation into DDT’s alleged crimes, DDT called them “corrupt,” “mobsters,” “vicious monsters,” and “a real threat to democracy” while accusing them of “atrocities.” His allies fell in line, claiming they are politicized, pushing conspiracy theories and calling on the FBI to be defunded—sort of like “defund the police.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Fox network viewers that a possible “cabal” within the FBI politicized the agency’s work.

Next year if they gain power, the GOP plans extensive investigations, possibly a select committee, to probe the recovery of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago as well as curbing FBI funding and surveillance permissions. With no visible evidence, the GOP “Commitment to America” claims “more than 14 whistleblowers” have “come forward to publicly raise concerns about the FBI’s politicization,” based on an assertion from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The people of the U.S. should be treated like little children, says Arizona’s supposedly Democratic senator Kyrsten Sinema as she praised McConnell and declared she shares GOP values. According to her reasoning, the filibuster needs to be restored to its former glory because parents shouldn’t give children everything they want. MSNBC Chris Hayes described her comparison:

“Sinema and others like her are the Grown Ups. And We The People are spoiled children constantly asking for things.”

Sinema falsely claims the filibuster was “what our forefathers intended.” The first use of the Senate filibuster,however, was in 1837 to keep President Andrew Jackson from a resolution of censure, and it didn’t become popular until the mid-20th century when Southern Democrats used it to fight the Civil Rights Act. Until 1970, a senator could filibuster only by standing on the chamber floor and non-stop talking, but now it requires only a senator effortlessly submitting an intent to filibuster in writing.

MSNBC Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out:

“The number 60 never appears in the Constitution, but it seems to live in Kyrsten Sinema’s imagined version of the Constitution. If a simple majority vote is a dangerous and fickle threshold for governing in a democracy, then why should only five members of the United States Supreme Court get to decide the final interpretation of the law of the land? Why doesn’t Senator Sinema advocate a minimum of a 6-vote threshold in the Supreme Court instead of a mere majority and why is the United States of America the only country that has a 60 percent threshold to win a vote in a national legislative body?”

More news tomorrow.

September 17, 2022

Loss of Democracy on Constitution Day

September 17, 2022 is the little noticed Constitution Day. The U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia 235 years ago, and leaders swore to uphold this framework for democracy. In the beginning, it protected only white men; almost 200 years were required to give women and minorities more equal rights.

Meant to be limits and protection for the government power, the Constitution divides the rule of the government into three parts to block a monarch or a tyrant. Congress writes laws, levies taxes, borrows money, declares war, pays debts, establishes courts, sets up a postal service, and provides for “the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” The president can veto laws, but Congress can override the veto. The judicial branch settles disputes between states and guarantees a jury trial.

A major problem after 235 years is the continued belief of some states’ governments that, although they cannot strip people of the right to vote, they can stop citizens from this right, preferably the low-income and minorities who are feared by conservatives to support their rights. At this time, Republicans use threats and violence to destroy the ability of people to participate in the voting process, both in going to the polls and in working to help people carry out their constitutional right to vote.

These attempts to prohibit voting go beyond the 400+ voter suppression bills introduced in 48 states creating barriers to register, vote by mail, and vote along with redistricting, gerrymandering, and mass purges of voter rolls. Repeated requirements of “citizenship papers” intimidate naturalized citizens, and threats of violence against election workers drive them away from what they see as their civic duty. Inside the polling places, watchers can frighten voters by standing close to them, challenging ballots, or brandishing weapons. Outside, bullies can wear military-style garb when confronting voters, write down voters’ license plate numbers, block the polling entrance, aggressive question voter, and follow them.

After the election, Republicans who lose spread the lie that they actually won but the election was rigged—even if they lose to another Republican.

Recent events are threatening U.S. democracy and its foundations:

A judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to declare DDT above the law because he was elected to the presidency in 2016. She also ignores the importance of national security documents by delaying any resolution to the ones found lying around during the summer break at Mar-a-Lago. Having named DDT’s choice as “special master,” Judge Aileen Cannon denied the DOJ request to pursue an investigation into classified documents while the master looks through the 11,000 records taken with a search warrant. His deadline is November 30, but no earlier deadline was set for the classified documents.

The DOJ asked an appeals court, comprised of six DDT-apppointed judges out of 11, to permit criminal investigators to examine the seized classified materials while the master works on the other records. Its filing wants those “causing the most serious and immediate harm to the government and the public.” It argues that classified documents are by definition the property of the government, not a former president or a private club and not subject to personal attorney-client privilege. DDT has not cited no legal authority to executive privilege keeping the executive branch, to which the DOJ belongs, from reviewing its own records. Cannon was skeptical that these highly classified documents could cause any harm to national security and indicated a lack of “unquestioning trust in the determinations of the Department of Justice.”

DDT has until Tuesday to respond to the DOJ’s filing. He may have a decent lawyer this time. Using private donations to his PAC Save America, DDT paid Chris Klise $3 million up front. DDT also used mob-like innuendo for violence when he told far-right conservative Hugh Hewett in an interview that people would not “stand for it” if he were indicted.  

DDT constantly lies about the documents he stole and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the reason that a search warrant was needed after a DDT lawyer signed an official document lying about all documents being submitted to the DOJ by June 2022. This lie followed DDT’s lie to the National Archives that none of the documents was sensitive or classified. Instead, Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the archives that DDT had only 12 boxes of “news clippings.” Since Meadows’ claim, officials have recovered 42 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago, including top-secret U.S. operations and information about a foreign government’s nuclear-defense readiness. Some of the documents had been torn up.

Far right states use parental rights as an excuse to strip bookshelves of books that don’t support heterosexual white supremacism and eliminate all non-white supremacism from the curriculum, but Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has removed the rights of parents who support their trans children. With the help of his AG Ken Paxton, who is scheduled to be deposed for his fraud indictment soon after the November election, Abbott has orchestrated a regulation that identifies any medical care for trans youth as child abuse. Texas has no legal restrictions against trans care.  

Because of Abbott’s and Paxton’s regulation, a 13-year-old trans boy was taken from his class at school and interrogated for an hour about intimate personal details without any parents present. Before he received puberty blockers, he had suffered from depression, suicidal thoughts, and difficulty attending classes. The questioning caused him to have a “meltdown,” according to his mother, and he has started missing school and has anxiety attacks because he no longer sees school as a safe place. State child services is investigating the mother for physical child abuse, calling the boy’s testosterone treatment “illegal.” The boy’s treatment is under the guidance of a pediatrician, endocrinologist, and two therapists. Medical experts widely agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary, and puberty delay can be reversed.

A state court already ruled against Abbott in the case of one family, but he continued to persecute other families for months. An injunction from a state judge last Friday shielded a group of families because such investigations could cause “probable, imminent and irreparable injury” to the families, including “gross invasions of privacy in the home and school, and the resulting trauma felt” by the family, as well as an increased risk of depression and suicide. The state made an immediate appeal to overrule the judge, and the mother of an 18-year-old trans boy is afraid she’ll lose her job with a child abuse charge.

Montana officials plan to defy a judge’s order to permit trans person’s gender changes on birth certificates, and Virginia now requires transgender students to use school programs and facilities according to sex assigned at birth.  

Abbott sent two more busloads of migrants to the home of VP Kamala Harris, and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis is trying to cover his use of Florida money to fly Venezuelan and Colombian migrants out of San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard. He claims that all the migrants planned to go to Florida. He also said they knew their destination, but they thought they would be going to cities, close to public transportation, instead of to an island of 20,000 people. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre compared DeSantis’ actions to those of other traffickers:

“These are the kinds of tactics we see from smugglers in places like Mexico and Guatemala. And for what, a photo op? Because these governors care about creating political theater.”

The GOP has bragged that Hispanics are leaving the Democratic party, but DeSantis may have reversed that trend. The Cuban community, identifying with Venezuelans fleeing communism, compared the move to that of deceased Cuban dictator who relocated Cubans in the early 1960s.

On Constitution Day, U.S. knowledge of basic facts about government declined for the first time in six years:

  • Only 47 percent could name all three branches of government, down from 56 percent last year and the first decline since 2016.
  • One-fourth (25 percent) could not name one single branch of the government.
  • 26 percent could not name any First Amendment freedoms. 
  • Only 24 percent could name freedom of religion, down from 56 percent last year.
  • Only 20 percent could name freedom of the press, down from 50 percent last year.
  • 63 percent cited freedom of speech, down from 74 percent last year; right to assembly 16 percent, down from 30 percent; and right to petition 6 percent, down from 20 percent.
  • 9 percent, tripled from 3 percent last year, put the right to bear arms in the First Amendment instead of the Second Amendment, but 82 percent know the Supreme Court upheld the right to own guns.
  • 78 percent know that the Bill of Rights protects people from illegal searches and seizures.
  • Only 55 percent know that a 5-4 ruling in the Supreme Court makes the decision law, down from 61 percent last year.
  • 76 percent the federal government cannot establish an official religion, and 88 percent know atheists have the same rights as other citizens.

Now if only the Supreme Court would learn these rights.

September 5, 2022

News – September 4, 2022

A few catchups from the past week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) lawyers tried to stall DDT’s problems from stealing classified documents by claiming that taking them was like having overdue library books, and President Joe Biden gave a speech in Philadelphia about preserving democracy that infuriated Republicans. More about that later while the judge decides whether to assign a “special master” for DDT but meanwhile lots of other news.

In the Alaska’s first ranked-choice election, Democrat Mary Peltola’s win by three percent came from half the people voting for GOP Nick Begich refusing to put Sarah Palin for their second choice—29 percent picked Peltola, and 21 percent didn’t vote for anyone. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), presidential wannabe, tweeted that the GOP-created ranked-choice voting process “is a scam to rig elections.” Peltola’s win was an 18-point overperformance for Democrats in a red state. In special elections since March 2021, Republicans were two percent over the estimated leaning for the winners before Roe v. Wade was overturned; after that, Democrats had an 11-percent lean.

Tony Ornato, DDT loyalist and deputy chief of staff for operations, retired two days before a scheduled interview with Inspector General investigators after stalling for two months. A top Secret Service official, Ornato may have tried to send VP Mike Pence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 6, 2022, so that the presidential counting of votes would be delayed. Pence refused to get into the car. Ornato also told DDT’s White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson DDT demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6 after the rally and lunged for the steering wheel when Ornato refused to drive him there. Having met with the House January 6 investigative committee twice about Pence’s location, Ornato said he will meet with the Inspector General investigators, but, as a private citizen, he cannot be required to do so with a testimonial subpoena.

The House committee has asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich for an interview regarding his communications with DDT’s senior advisers, including Jason Miller and Jared Kushner, about television advertising claiming lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that Gingrich was part of the fake elector plot to persuade Pence and congressional members affecting the outcome of vote counting on January 6. Committee investigators interviewed witnesses during much of August and continue to receive many new documents while they work to recover missing texts from the Secret Service and Defense Department that the agencies wiped from phones of former and current officials.

Members are exploring identification of documents that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows burned in his office fireplace and other mishandling of documents. After the FBI served a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Meadows made arrangements to return records to the National Archives.

The committee also interviewed some of DDT’s Cabinet secretaries including Mike Pompeo, Steven Mnuchin, Robert O’Brien and Elaine Chao about their conversations after the insurrection in connection with invoking the 25th Amendment, the removal of a president on grounds of incapacitation, mental health or physical fitness. These discussions could show the serious problems of DDT’s behavior.

Former DDT White House lawyers Pat Cipollone and Pat Philbin have been subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the January 6 insurrection.

New information about Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, may contribute to the January 6 investigation. She pushed state lawmakers in Wisconsin as well as Arizona to overturn Biden’s 2020 election win. Emails show emails to at least two Wisconsin state lawmakers appear to be pre-generated by Thomas, mirroring form letters she sent to 29 Arizona legislators asking them to interfere in the state’s slate of presidential electors. She told them to unilaterally choose a “clean” slate of presidential electors and “consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”

Thomas’ push to overturn the election received scrutiny because of her husband’s refusal to recuse himself in a case about the House’s January 6 investigation. He was the only justice to publicly dissent from the Supreme Court’s move not to block a court order permitting House investigators to see DDT’s White House documents. Thomas also exchanged texts with Meadows in 2020 to persuade him in continuing the fight to overturn Biden’s win. Meadows gave these texts to the House select committee. Thomas has also openly opposed House investigation, calling on the two Republican members of the committee to be removed from the GOP caucus.

Owners of Fox network are defending itself in a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems with the position that media sources shouldn’t be punished for lying about the 2020 election. Dominion asks for $1.6 billion in damages and has moved into discovery with Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Jeanine Pirro being deposed. According to the Fox argument, the First Amendment allows news organizations to lie about public figures if it’s not done knowingly and has no reckless disregard for the truth. A Delaware judge denied the motion to dismiss the suit last year and stated that the case should proceed and that “the Court can infer that Fox intended to avoid the truth.”  

On the flip side of the coin, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox CEO and founder Rupert Murdoch’s son, is suing an Australian news outlet, accusing it of lying about Fox and its news about the election. Lachlan Murdoch contends an article calling the Murdoch family “unindicted co-conspirators” in the January 6 insurrection and the preceding election lies caused him to be “gravely injured in his character, in his personal reputation, and his professional reputation.” Crikey, the independent outlet, had stated that if DDT is indicted, “the Murdochs and their slew of poisonous Fox News commentators are the unindicted co-conspirators of this continuing crisis.” The First Amendment protects the statement in the U.S., but Australia has no such protection.

The Murdochs will want to avoid discovery because opposing counsel has access to emails and other internal communication. Concern about discovery caused Fox to settle a suit with the family of Seth Rich, the DNC staffer who Fox falsely accused of leaking emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election after Rich was shot and killed. In the Dominion lawsuit, Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may be forced to join their hosts in being deposed. The owners claim they don’t make day-to-day decisions on programming or tell hosts what to say or not to say, but text messages prove the opposite.

A three-judge panel of the conservative 8th Circuit Court temporarily blocked Arkansas’ law banning gender-affirming medical care for trans children and teens. The court ruled that the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to trans young people and their loved ones and prohibit “medical treatment that conforms with the recognized standard of care.” Last year, over 200 anti-trans bills were introduced in over 30 states, and many of them have passed. Lies sent about trans people include trans children receiving gender-confirming surgery. Conspiracy theorists have attacked Boston Children’s Hospital for its Gender Multispeciality Service program treating children with gender dysphoria, including a bomb threat this week.

A KKK plaque is installed at the entrance of Bartlett Hall, the U.S. Military Academy’s science center in West Point (NY). It depicts a person in a hood, holding a weapon, with the words “Ku Klux Klan” on a triptych titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible.” The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans at the end of the Civil War.

Florida is rejecting donations of dictionaries after a freeze on new books in its libraries and classrooms so that parents have more control of school materials. In Sarasota, officials declined hundreds of dictionaries from a Venice Rotary Club’s donations. The group has donated over 4,000 dictionaries to the city’s elementary schools for almost 15 years in partnership with a nonprofit called the Dictionary Project. The law requires all “reading material” be “selected” by a certified education media specialist, but the district has none.

Texas loves God, as long as he’s straight, Christian, and English-speaking. A new law requires schools to display donated posters with “In God We Trust” in a prominent place. So parent Sravan Krishna tried to present a sign with the national motto in Arabic to a school district, and they refused after they tried to keep him from speaking. Muslims are the fifth-largest religious group in the state, and Texas has the largest population of Muslims in the U.S. The law has no requirement for English, but the school board said they had enough signs. (The law also makes no requirement for the number of signs.)  In addition to presenting posters in Arabic, Krishna donated another one with “God” in rainbow colors. Although a lawyer has said that the motto must be in English, the colored one didn’t pass muster either. About 20 percent of youth in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+.  

[Note the U.S. and Texas flag on the sign. According to the law, the sign must include them and only the words “In God We Trust”–nothing more.]

Despite GOP attempts to kill unions, their approval is at the highest point since 1965 at 71 percent. And just before Labor Day!

July 15, 2022

News – Week of July 15, 2022

More January 6: The House January 6 investigative committee plans a primetime hearing on July 21. The committee also issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service requesting records that a Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointee said were mistakenly erased.

More Musk: Elon Musk thinks he can force Twitter to pay $1 billion when he reneges on his $44 billion deal to buy the company, but his banks have signed a deal with him to put up the acquisition money. Both Musk and the banks may have trouble breaking their commitment letters. Bank of America, Barclays, and Morgan Stanley aren’t responding to questions.

More Antiabortion: Montana state Rep. Brad Tschida (R), a former majority leader now running for state Senate, emailed over 100 legislators that a woman’s womb “serves no specific purpose to her life or well-being.” He expanded his argument to the local media stating that there is only one organ in a woman’s body “that is not there to serve a purpose for her and that is her womb.” 

The media got excited when obstructionist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) might be joining his party policies. As usual it was wrong. Manchin, a millionaire supported by fossil fuel and pharmaceutical industries, followed his pattern of appearing to negotiate before reneging on any agreements. Just like the Republicans for the past decades, he makes promises if Democrats eliminate important provisions and then fails to follow through after they appease him, this time backing down on legislation regarding climate change, tax legislation, lower prescription drug prices, and an extension of enhanced Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsides for two years. Manchin dumped an agreement that would have raised about $1 trillion in revenue by Rolling back 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big business could have raised about $1 trillion with half the money shrinking the deficit that DDT raised by $7.8 trillion in just four years. Savings from negotiating down prescription drug prices would fund ACA subsidies.

Immediately after Travis Herzog, a Texas meteorologist, warned his audience about power outages, the studio lights went out from a power outage. The rolling blackout was not planned, but engineers switched to generators to stay on air. State-controlled electricity returned in two hours before another power outage. Herzog was describing the extreme heat causing outages. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott had a lot to say about the 53 immigrants who died in a tractor trailer after human traffickers abandoned them in San Antonio but about his failing electric power grid, not so much. 

Eighteen months ago, Abbott’s failures with the power source independent of the U.S. killed hundreds of people in the power outage; now the grid operator wants Texans to turn off appliances during the afternoon in the state producing more natural gas than any other in the nation. In a tight re-election race with Beto O’Rourke, Abbott had promised the grid was fixed after 702 people died in the cold but hasn’t mentioned ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) since early February when he went on social media to praise the power organization designed to avoid federal regulations. The Texas governor appoints three of four state Public Utility Commission members which has co-oversight of ERCOT with the GOP-dominated state legislature.

In mid-May, the grid’s operator asked users to conserve energy because six power plants went offline with no explanation amid soaring temperatures. Excuses during the winter were frozen equipment; legislation was directed to making the grid more resilient in the cold. Nine months ago, an investigation by NBC News and the Texas Tribune found a vulnerable grid with new regulations permitting companies to avoid improvements. Nothing has been done to repair the problem of keeping enough natural gas for the electric plants.

ERCOT’s pricing strategy during February 2021 caused Brazos Electric, a cooperative operating four plants, to go bankrupt instead of passing along a $2 million bill for a few days of power to members and consumers. Brazos took the Texas power system to court, and former ERCOT CEO Bill Magness testified that Abbott was responsible for maximum costs days after the system was back in business, $9,000 per megawatt hour, over 150 times higher than the average price, hoping big business would cut back on usage. Stuck with same price, all consumers got the same price, and household bills were well over $15,000 for one month of power. The problem of natural gas shortages was ignored

Record temperatures in the 110s and high humidity, called “extreme” and “dangerously hot,” continue to cover Texas. The 105 degrees in Houston matched its highest July temperature recorded. Solar energy works well under the scorching sun, but stagnant winds under the heat dome limit wind generation to about 10 percent of capacity. Other states suffering from these problems could borrow energy from the rest of the U.S., but Texas’ independence makes it helpless. Led by conservatives such as Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Texans ignore the problems from climate change. 

Abbott has been using his “Operation Lone Star” for his re-election campaign, a state-run border control program, but the DOJ is now investigating it for civil rights violations. He assigned over 10,000 National Guard members to act as federal border agents although they have no authority to apprehend or incarcerate migrants crossing the border without legal documentation. Deployed National Guard members state they are being misused, forced to leave their families and jobs to stay idle. For media attention, Abbott performed actions such as busing migrants to Washington, D.C. from the southern border, much to the appreciation of the migrants. Instead of arrests for border and drug issues, the charges were largely trespassing when officials ordered migrants onto private property and then arrested. Jailed without charges for weeks, some of the migrants have filed a class-action lawsuit.

Republicans are building their fascist reputation by inviting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to open the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas (TX) from August 4-7. Headlining CPAC held in Hungary last May, he outlined the 12 ways leaders can capture and consolidate power, including the control of media’s information. He silenced Hungarian independent media and controls all the nation’s television, newspaper, and online media outlets. Orbán also took control of the judiciary and attacked the few financial institutions not under the control of his far-right Fidesz Party. In Dallas, he will share the stage with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and possibly DDT who admires Orbán’s authoritarian leadership style. CPAC stated that Orbán is the “leading voice” in Europe fighting for his people and “everyone who believes in national sovereignty.”

Dominion Voting Systems issued a subpoena to former AG Bill Barr, requiring him to testify in its defamation lawsuit against Fox network. Barr had told the House January 6 investigative committee that he believed the lies about fraud claims regarding Dominion voting machines were “complete nonsense.” Dominion has also subpoenaed DDT’s allies such as attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, also being sued for defamation by Dominion. Fox has claimed that its fraud accusations are protected by the First Amendment but lost its motion to dismiss the case in December 2021. The trial is scheduled for April 2023. Dominion has filed at least eight lawsuits concerning the conspiracy theory after the 2020 election, including Fox’s parent company Fox Corporation after the company refused to give Dominion documents from Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan.

DDT’s former national security adviser John Bolton talked about the work needed to “plan [a] coups d’état” but excused DDT by saying he didn’t really mean to “overthrow the Constitution.” Bolton cited the unsuccessful attempt to remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro when DDT recognized Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as interim president. Maduro stayed, and Bolton was fired.

Between 1947 and 1989, the U.S. attempted 72 times to change another nation’s government, including 66 covert operations, not including pre-Cold War interventions in Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Cuba.  Obviously, Bolton was too young for those in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Syria (1949, 1956, and 1957), Cuba (1959), Congo (early to mid 1960s), Vietnam (1964), and Chile (1973) after Bolton was an aide to Spiro Agnew in 1972. In the 1980s, Reagan secretly worked to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua by supporting the Contras. During George H.W. Bush’s administration, the U.S. invaded Panama to overthrow Manuel Noriega, and in 1991, the U.S. invaded Iraq while Bolton was still in the State Department. He later advocated for Bill Clinton to send troops into Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein and succeeded with George W. Bush in 2003, pushing the myth of WMDs. Bolton would have been involved with military operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and argued after 20 years that Joe Biden should not have pulled out of the country. 

World leaders took note of Bolton’s coup offhand remarks. Evo Morales, former Bolivian president ousted from office in 2019, tweeted Bolton’s remarks showed that the U.S. was “the worst enemy of democracy and life.” Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry, called for an international investigation into Bolton’s statements. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “This is no surprise. The admission simply shows that interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and overthrowing their governments have become the standard practice of the U.S. government.” Turkish media supportive of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tied Bolton’s coup comments to the failed attempt to overthrow the Turkish government in July 2016.

Now Republicans are trying to overthrow the U.S. government.

May 30, 2022

GOP Says Guns Have No Relationship to Shooting Deaths, Injuries

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:15 PM
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Once again, conservatives prove they love guns more than life—that of children as well as adults. Memorial Day Weekend saw 11 mass shootings—Chattanooga, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Malabar (FL), Chicago, Port Richmond (PA), Mecosta County (MI), Mesa (AZ), Memphis, Taft (OK), Nevada—shootings that killed at least seven people and 49 injured. Tampa, Atlanta, Baltimore, New York, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia saw other killings during the weekend. 

The “solutions” to mass shootings always begin with conservatives whining about how any criticism of guns is an attempt to “politicize” the tragic event. They stick to “thoughts and prayers” instead of working on safety for people. Guns aren’t responsible all the shootings, according to conservatives talking about last week’s massacre: the killing of 19 children and two teachers in an elementary classroom in Uvalde (TX).  

  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who lied about his athletes being molested by a doctor while he was at the University of Ohio, lack of faith, family, and freedom is responsible.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) supports Jordan by saying that schools don’t have enough “God.”
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) laid the blame on “fatherlessness” as the “root cause” of shootings. He did say there are questions about “glorification of violence” as he and his fellow Republicans glorify the insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) accuses ADHD medication for the shootings.
  • Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) blamed killer for being transgender, which he wasn’t. Gosar got the names mixed up, but a trans person was killed after his accusation that went viral throughout the right-wingers.
  • Erich Pratt said gun control is the problem because “killers love gun control.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may have the greatest variety of reasons for the increasing number of mass shootings: “the elites who dominate our culture,” the media, corporate leaders, Hollywood, homelessness, gangs, “radical” district attorneys, “cultural sickness,” despair, isolation, “sick souls,” broken families, absent fathers, lack of “moral values,” declining church attendance, social medial bullying, violent online content, video games, and drugs. Cruz expanded the most on what might be the most serious problem, however—doors. “The problem isn’t that there are too many guns out there, it’s that schools have too many doors—specifically more than one.”

The Uvalde school should have had “one door that goes in and out of the school,” according to Cruz. He didn’t address the number of windows and separate buildings on school campuses, and he didn’t explain how his solution would have stopped the killing of ten shoppers in Buffalo earlier this month. Juliette Kayyem, an expert in security, called the “one door” strategy “bad safety planning.” She tweeted:

“A ‘psychopath’ would then just target the kids backed up in line and waiting for this ‘one door’ to let them through.”

The NRA has more reasons beyond the need for a “good guy with a gun.” Members at the conference three days after the massacre blamed mental illness, evil, no demon control, and the “destruction of our children” from the teachings of the left. Several of the attendees accused the left of setting up conservatives because of the shooting by a teenager on two days before school was released for the summer. Guns aren’t the problem because the shooter “could have walked in there with a baseball bat and possibly killed as many kids,” according to an NRA benefactor.

https://www.alternet.org/2022/05/tucker-carlson-2657394885/?utm_source=123456&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=10535    Fox’s Tucker Carlson asked—in his clever insinuating manner—if COVID lockdown is responsible for mentally-ill teenagers. HuffPo answered Carlson’s question:

“Many countries implemented lengthy and isolating lockdowns during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Australia and New Zealand, which have stricter gun control measures than the U.S., experienced some of the world’s longest lockdowns, yet saw no comparable shootings.”

A Fox guest said that COVID vaccinations were responsible for mass shootings although they didn’t start 18 months ago.

Schools are at fault for mass shootings on their premises, conservatives repeated after the tragedy at Uvalde. They call for “hardening” schools to prevent future massacres. This school, however, already had the security measures they recommend, many of them except for arming all teachers and having only one door.

Uvalde received a grant to upgrade school security two years ago, but no one has clarified how the money was spent. The school has perimeter fencing, security cameras, portable metal detectors, radios for campus communication, locked doors, and other safety best practices, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) requested through a clearinghouse. The school spent $450,000 on security and monitoring services in the 2019-20 fiscal year, up from $200,000 the prior year. There was a school resource officer, but he wasn’t on campus when the shooter appeared and drove by the shooter in response to a 911 call before he approached a teacher who he thought was the criminal.   

New York Times National Correspondent Mike Baker examined Uvalde police active shooter training materials and tweeted how law enforcement conduct contradicted their training:

“In the past two years, the Uvalde school district has hosted at least two active-shooter training days. One of them was just two months ago.

“The trainings included both classroom teachings and role-playing scenarios inside school hallways.

“The Uvalde training session 2 months ago relied on guidelines that give explicit expectations for officers responding to an active shooter.

“The training is clear: Time is of the essence. ‘The first priority is to move in and confront the attacker.’

“But how should officers confront the gunman? With a tactical team? The training says that’s probably not feasible, because the urgency is so high.

“A SINGLE OFFICER, the training says, may need to confront the suspect on their own.

“The guidelines provide sobering clarity: The first officers may be risking their lives. But, it says, innocent lives take priority.

“A first responder unwilling to place the lives of the innocent above their own safety should consider another career field.”

“If you know children are being murdered, why do you wait? Get in there.”

Yet police officials said officers were reluctant to engage the gunman because “they could’ve been shot.” Guidelines explain that if one officer is shot, the second “is expected to go on responding solo.” The 19 officers were outside the classroom for 78 minutes while children kept calling from inside the classroom for help and shots were heard.

In initial press conferences, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised law enforcement for “showing amazing courage” and rapid response, but the story changed within a few days as bystanders gave factual information. The on-scene commander, Uvalde chief of police, had told law enforcement to not go into the room because “there were no kids at risk,” that despite hearing shots fired it was not an active-shooter situation. Officers could see the shooter killing children and teachers in the room when they arrived at the school, according to a Public Safety Department member. Initial officers “received gunfire” and failed to go inside because they received gunfire. They called for such additional resources as tactical teams, specialty equipment, body armor, and precision riflemen. Meanwhile, the shooter, who had 1,647 rounds for AR-15s kept firing.

Border patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement waited 50 minutes after they arrived at 12:00 to breach the classroom and kill the shooter. The timeline is here. At 12:15, 35 minutes before the room was breached, “eight or nine students” were still alive, according to a 911 call from a child inside the classroom. One student may have bled out in the time law enforcement took to go into the classroom. One classmate told another to stay quiet, but the police called out, “Yell if you need help.” The student said “help,” and the shooter killed him.

While parents were kept from going into the school to rescue their children, one mother even handcuffed, police officers went into the school and brought out their own children, according to a Texas Department Public Safety spokesman.

Abbott said the shooter had no red flag warning problems, but he threatened kidnap, rape, and killing with photos of guns. On Yubo, he posted images of dead cats and said, “Everyone in this world deserves to get raped.” Yubo never answered complaints about his posts. Texas has just passed a law, permitted by the 5th Circuit Court, to force social media to allow all this language on any platform.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who represents Uvalde, prayed for the 19 dead children two dead teachers. With a perfect NRA score, he proudly voted against any gun safety including expanded background checks and closing some background-check loopholes.

GOP senators sent their thoughts and prayers before running away from Washington for the next two weeks after blocking a domestic terrorism bill, not even allowing debate of questions about hate crimes and gun safety. A small bipartisan group discussed background checks for guns purchased online or at gun shows, red-flag laws to keep guns from people who could harm themselves or others, and programs to bolster security at schools and other buildings. Republicans say that the domestic terrorism bill doesn’t put emphasis on far-left groups because it addresses white supremacists and neo-Nazis groups.

Memorial Day is a commemoration for military members giving up their lives to preserve freedom. It should also commemorate the continuing murders of people, many of them small children, who lose their lives because of the conservatives’ definition of “freedom.”

May 27, 2022

Clarity about U.S. Gun Stalemate from a Foreign Newspaper

[Correction! France has 20 guns per 100 people, compared to 120 guns per 100 people in the U.S.]

In the industrialized countries of the world, the United States is an outlier. When Joe Biden was elected to replace to replace the autocrat that alienated U.S. allies during his four-year term, they hoped for a change. But the recent mass shootings have horrified the allies, and gun-loving Republican congressional members like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) resort to running away from foreign reporters’ queries.

Two editorials in the moderate French newspaper Le Monde explains how the U.S. is viewed after May’s mass shootings. The first one is headed “Texas Shooting: America Is Killing Itself, As the Republican Party Looks the Other Way: A young Texan killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Ulvade on Tuesday. In the face of tragedy after tragedy, Republican elected officials continue to oppose any legislation that would regulate the gun market.”

Carnage at an American school, the endless distress of families, a solemn speech from the president, then nothing, until the next one. Americans know this cycle of despair by heart since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012. The one in Parkland, in 2018, changed nothing despite the exceptional activism of students who had escaped. They believed it was possible to bring a country sick of its violence back to its senses and remind elected officials of their responsibilities, but they failed. If there is any American exceptionalism, it is to tolerate the fact that schools in the United States are regularly transformed into bloody shooting ranges.

The unbearable happened this time in the small town of Uvalde, Texas, and took the lives of 19 students and two teachers of an elementary school just two days before vacation. The 18-year-old alleged perpetrator was killed by law enforcement. This tragedy came 10 days after a racially-motivated mass shooting at a New York state supermarket and another at a California church. In each case, the determination of the alleged killers was not met with any legal safeguards that would have complicated access to the firearms used.

Indeed, America is killing itself and the Republican Party is looking the other way, ideologically complicit in one tragedy after another. Decades of brainwashing have meant that its elected representatives no longer need even the iron grip of the main gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, which is riddled with crises, to oppose the slightest legislation that would provide a framework for this particularly lucrative market. The defense of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, understood in its most absolutist sense, has become a quasi-sacred duty that now escapes any questioning. The families of victims must be content with the prayers of elected officials, who are not stingy with them.

Thus, the state that was the scene of the last bloodbath after eight other mass shootings in 13 years found nothing better, just a year ago, than to abolish gun permits for people aged 21 or older. “It’s time” for Texas to align itself with the most lenient states in this area, argued the governor of this solid conservative bastion, Greg Abbott.

More and more guns: This is the only Republican credo. Americans bought nearly 20 million guns in 2021, the second-largest amount in American history. They also had more than 20,000 gun deaths, not counting suicides, which are even more numerous, and 693 shootings resulted in four or more injuries. Republicans are clearly unable to establish a causal link between the two phenomena. One despairs to imagine them expending the same energy to prevent killings, the perpetrators of which are overwhelmingly men, as they expend selflessly to prevent women from having control over their own bodies.

The dictatorship of the minority had already wielded its power after the Sandy Hook massacre when the Senate wanted to pass background checks for gun buyers, a commonsense measure supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Elected officials representing 118 million of their fellow citizens were able to defeat those nominated by 194 million. There is every reason to believe that the same would be true today in this country trapped in this madness.

The second editorial is headed “US Is Flooded with Guns: A Justice Department report shows that US firearms production has tripled since 2000, while Americans have been buying automatic assault rifles and 9mm semi-automatic pistols en masse.”

US firearms makers produced over 139 million guns for the commercial market over the two decades from 2000, including 11.3 million in 2020 alone, according to a new government report released on Tuesday, May 17.

Another 71 million firearms were imported in the same period—compared to just 7.5 million exported—underscoring how the country is literally swimming in personal weapons that have stoked a surge in gun violence, murders and suicides, according to the Justice Department report.

The report shows that while Americans have made favorites of semi-automatic assault rifles seen in many mass shootings, they have bought en masse the increasingly cheap, easy-to-use and accurate semi-automatic 9 mm pistols like those that most police now use.

And, the report shows, authorities face a surge in unregistered “ghost guns” made at home with parts that can be bought online and produced with 3-D printer, and pistols and short-barreled rifles that are as powerful and lethal as the semi-automatic assault rifles used in mass shootings.

“We can only address the current rise in violence if we have the best available information and use the most effective tools and research to fuel our efforts,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

“This report is an important step in that direction. The Department will continue to gather the data necessary to tailor our approach at the most significant drivers of gun violence and take shooters off the streets.

The report came out after a shocking weekend showed how the vast surplus of guns has made its mark on US society.

In Buffalo, New York an 18-year-old white man driven by racist hate used an assault rifle to murder 10 African Americans; in Laguna Woods, California a man shot five people in a church frequented by Taiwanese with a 9 mm pistol; and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, more than 20 people were wounded in shootings in one evening in the downtown entertainment district.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of gun deaths in the United States underwent an “historic” increase in 2020.

The US racked up 19,350 firearm homicides in 2020, up nearly 35 percent over 2019, and 24,245 gun suicides, up 1.5 percent.

The firearm homicide rate stood at 6.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020, the highest for more than 25 years.

The CDC said the rise might be blamed in part by the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic and poverty.

The gun industry has rocketed in two decades. In 2000, there were 2,222 registered active manufacturers. By 2020, the number hit 16,936.

Annual commercial gun production likewise surged: 3.9 million in 2000, hitting 11.3 million 20 years later. But that was down from the peak of 11.9 million in 2016.

Of those sold in 2020, almost exactly half were pistols, doubling their share of the market since 2000: the year 2020 saw 5.5 million pistols, and nearly a million revolvers, enter circulation.

Firearms made by official manufacturers must have serial numbers that allow them to be traced by law enforcement.

But officials are increasingly worried about homemade “ghost guns” that have no such markings and are increasingly found in crimes.

In 2021, the report said, officials recovered 19,344 such guns, compared to just 1,758 five years earlier.

In April President Joe Biden announced a crackdown on ghost guns, pushing back at pro-gun advocates who called his ideas “extreme.”

“Is it extreme to protect police officers, extreme to protect our children?… It isn’t extreme, it’s basic, common sense,” Biden said.

The new report was the first in a four-volume study of gun markets and illegal trafficking.

[Note: France has an average of 20 guns per 100 people, compared to the 120 guns per hundred in the U.S. French rate of deaths per 100,000 is 2.42 while the U.S. has a rate of 13.6 guns per 100,000. The Republican position is to vaguely indicate talks to calm people down until they forget these tragedies. Congress has gone home for two weeks after the Senate Republicans unanimously rejected even a domestic terrorism bill.]

May 13, 2022

5th Circuit Denies 1st Amendment Rights, January 6 Investigation Broadens

With no explanation, two Fifth Circuit judges, one nominated by Ronald Reagan and the other by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), supported a new Texas law to control private business. The dissenting judge, appointed by George W. Bush, is considered a “liberal” compared to the rabidly right circuit court. Republicans retaliated against their misguided liberal bias perception of ”Big Tech” by forcing large social media companies to disseminate objectionable speech such as dangerous misinformation, foreign propaganda, and hateful expression and permitting anyone to file lawsuits combatting content moderation. These corporations have lost their First Amendment rights although H.B. 20 sponsors claim the legislation is vital to keep “West Coast oligarchs” from silencing “conservative viewpoints and ideas.”

The GOP permitted “smaller” conservative platforms such as Parler and Gab to keep their First Amendment rights, but large companies are even blocked from posting warnings on their own websites for subjects with violence, vulgarity, disinformation, etc. Targeted companies must also submit a great deal of information to the state about algorithms, curation, and account suspension. Twice each year they must also provide a “transparency report” with every “action” taken against “content.” Anytime a company “removes content,” it must present a complex process of notice and appeal. Another provision prevents companies from blocking spam on emails, allowing users to daily collect $25,000 for impeding “the transmission of an unsolicited or commercial electronic mail message.”

YouTube will be forced to accept neo-Nazi and KKK videos promoting racism; Twitter will have to accept ISIS fighters’ terrorist advocacy; and Facebook must allow Russian propaganda about Ukraine. Only illegal incitement and “unlawful” speech can be suppressed, a very small percentage of hateful or violent expression because even intimidation and promotion of illegal conduct are allowed under the First Amendment.

Currently, large platforms use automated editorial tools to remove billions of posts and comments every year. They lack resources to review and resolve each appeal, especially within the 14-day limit. Companies can stop monitoring content, but all complaints of “illegal content” must be assessed within 48 hours. And the law prevents social media companies from providing services in Texas.

The ruling is completely against the First Amendment rights guaranteed to social media companies, according to the Supreme Court, especially Citizens United which gave rights to almost unlimited political donations because of free speech. “Editorial control and judgment” is speech shielded by the Constitution even if it discriminates against a specific group. While on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Justice Brett Kavanaugh ruled that the government cannot “tell Twitter or YouTube what videos to post” or “tell Facebook or Google what content to favor.” Also, a government cannot force corporations to disclose information in an “unjustified or unduly burdensome” manner.

Last December, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman blocked the Texas law because social media platforms are not “common carriers” like telephone companies and postal services that “merely facilitate the transmission of speech of others.” Common carriers have far greater regulation because they don’t engage in expression and may hold monopoly power. Those carriers, however, don’t exercise editorial control. Pitman followed U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling in Florida on a similar law. Hinkle also ruled that penalizing content moderation violates Section 230, the federal law limiting platforms’ liability over their content.

Judge Edith Jones declared that the plaintiffs, websites, “are not websites.” Although appointed 37 years ago, she’s only 73 and should know better—especially if she’s going to rule on the subject. Judge Andrew Oldham worried that overturning H.B. 20 “would allow phone companies to kick off users.” He formerly clerked for Samuel Alito.

One choice for the tech companies is leaving Texas–except the law prevents them from doing that.

The new Texas ruling immediately lifted an injunction against the law without ruling on its merits, meaning that it can go into effect until future action. Plaintiffs NetChoice and CCIA filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court and asked for amicus briefs. They argue that H.B. 20 is unconstitutional, compelling private businesses to carry speech they would otherwise remove. Chris Marchese, counsel for NetChoice, said:

“The First Amendment prohibits Texas from forcing online platforms to host and promote foreign propaganda, pornography, pro-Nazi speech, and spam. Left standing, Texas HB 20 will turn the First Amendment on its head—to violate free speech, the government need only claim to be ‘protecting’ it.”

Marchese added:

“Texas HB 20 strips private online businesses of their speech rights, forbids them from making constitutionally protected editorial decisions, and forces them to publish and promote objectionable content.”

The request is for the Supreme Court to reinstate the injunction on the law while appeals work through the full Fifth Circuit. Without that happening tech giants such as Meta, YouTube, and Twitter will suffer “irreparable harm.” Justice Clarence Thomas has already said that telephone companies are just like “digital platforms” because they both operate on physical wires. He and the two judges ruling against the tech companies ignore the fact that telephone calls are private; social media messages are designed to be communicated to the world.

The last time the Supreme Court was asked to reinstate an injunction, its “shadow docket” refused to do so, leaving the egregious anti-choice law in place while it is adjudicated. Justice Samuel Alito, liaison to the Fifth Circuit court, is responsible for deciding whether to unilaterally rule or refer the case to the full court.

The Texas case could now be decided on the court’s shadow docket, through which it issues orders without hearing arguments. The decision of whether to take up the case in this way is now up to Justice Samuel Alito, who is assigned to the Fifth Circuit. He will decide whether to rule unilaterally or refer the case to the full court. If the court does take up the case, the decision could come within days.

Did I mention that the law mandates all the social media companies continue to do business in Texas?

The House investigation committee into January 6 insurrection and overturning the election keeps chugging along, and emails from John Eastman, a pet DDT lawyer, reveals more of the corruption. He urged Pennsylvania GOP legislators to recount the state’s vote and trash tens of thousands of absentee ballots to show DDT won. By doing this, legislators would have “some cover” in replacing Biden’s electors with those supporting DDT and overturn the election results. According to his suggestion, GOP legislators could just express a concern with the state’s absentee ballot procedures and use historical data to “discount each candidates’ totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received.” That leaves them “with a significant lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote.” Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by over 80,000 votes.

The committee obtained Eastman’s emails from the University of Colorado where he was a visiting professor. On December 4, 2020, Eastman wrote Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond to change the language of his proposed resolution, hiding Eastman’s participation, and explained how to do. Later Eastman said that then-VP Mike Pence could merely refuse to count Biden’s electors on January 6, 2021. The House committee has been in court a number of times trying to get Eastman’s emails sent through another previous employer, Chapman University. 

The House investigative committee has subpoenaed five GOP members: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Jim Jordan (OH), Mo Brooks (AL), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (PA). Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said that they learned that these colleagues have relevant information on the January 6 attack “and the events leading up to it.” McCarthy had pulled all his nominations for the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rejected Jordan.

The DOJ has opened a grand jury investigation into the classified documents that DDT took to Mar-a-Lago when he moved out of the White House and subpoenaed the documents from the National Archives.

In Georgia, fake GOP electors are cooperating with the criminal probe as prosecutors investigate DDT’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Fulton County DA Fani Willis is attempting to determine their connection with a broader, illegal plot to pressure election officials and overturn Biden’s win of over 11,000 votes. DDT has made his loss the basis for GOP primaries there, especially for governor and state secretary of state, and the incumbents running in the election, Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t give in to his begging.

After Vernon Jones, DDT’s endorsement for Georgia’s governor, quit, DDT moved to supporting David Perdue who lost his senate seat last year to Democrat Jon Ossoff. Perdue lost support of law enforcement when he denigrated the state troopers in an awkward attempt to blame Kemp, and DDT is growing disillusioned because Perdue came out 16 points below Kemp in the most recent poll. Thursday a judge dismissed Perdue’s lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results, because his evidence didn’t go beyond “speculation, conjecture, and paranoia.”

In a defiant action, DDT’s former VP, Mike Pence, will hold a rally with Kemp on May 23, the night before Georgia’s primary, with Kemp. Pence called his candidate, who refuses to support the lie of election fraud in a “stolen” election, “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.” Headed toward a presidential run, Pence also criticized DDT for admiring Russian President Vladimir Putin.

May 7, 2022

New This Week outside the Anti-Abortion Draft Leak

Washington Post has a piece today called “what happened this week besides Roe v. Wade.” My thought exactly, because Republicans want you to skip over all the other news. Here are some of the other happenings.

Former federal official in a variety of capacities while he was sycophant for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) Mike Pompeo held a press conference and expressed national security concerns regarding “Dr. Oz,” DDT’s pick for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat. Mehmet Oz, a Turkish citizenship, has “close ties to the Turkish government and military,” according to Pompeo. Oz also voted in the 2018 Turkish election. Supporting the hedge fund billionaire opposing Oz for the GOP candidate in the general election, Pompeo stated that if Oz were elected, he would have much less scrutiny for a security clearance as a senator than a civilian applying for a clearance. DDT had a Friday evening rally in Pennsylvania for Oz.

DDT went to Pennsylvania for Friday evening rally to tout Oz, and it did not go well for DDT’s endorsement. In the pouring rain, the MAGA crowd consistently booed DDT’s choice for U.S. senator and groaned when DDT’s stumping began, groans building when DDT begged them to “secure a massive victory” for Oz. Jeers from the audience greeted Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) who tried to persuade them to pick Oz. They weren’t even impressed with DDT’s reason for picking Oz, that he was “in the bedrooms” of women across America. DDT called Oz’s opponent, David McCormick, a “liberal Wall Street Republican,” who had been appointed to Under Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for International Affairs by George W. Bush in 2007. McCormick spent over $6 million on his campaign, twice that of Oz.

Going beyond endorsing his own candidates, DDT is making robocalls for them.  In incoherent rambling, he pushed the election of Rep. Jody Hice in Georgia’s GOP Secretary of State primary. The rambling 1.5 minute schtick immediately with his talking about himself before repeating “stolen” election conspiracies and lambasting Hice’s opponent, incumbent Brad Raffensperger—the guy who wouldn’t hand over almost 11,000 to DDT. A new falsehood he espoused was accusing Raffensperger of “perhaps in collusion with Stacey Abrams, I don’t know if that’s possible, but perhaps.”

President Joe Biden received good economic news today with an additional 428,000 jobs in April after his first shrinking economy during the first 2022 quarter since he was inaugurated. Expectations were much higher than the predicted 400,000 jobs, and unemployment stayed at 3.6 percent. Economists’ reasons were supply chain issues and business purchases of less inventory. This number sets a record 12 straight monthly gains above 400,000 for the first time since statistics started in 1939. In four months of 2022, the economy created over two million jobs, almost one-third the number of DDT’s first three years before the pandemic. The U.S. economy has gained back about 95 percent of its pandemic job losses.

More leaked tapes immediately after January 6, 2021 from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) recorded him saying that the 25th Amendment, a constitutional way to remove a president from office by the vice president and cabinet, “takes too long.” A majority would have to agree DDT was unfit for office.

The war in Ukraine caused by Russia’s invasion is dragging on much longer than expected with greater involvement from Western nations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), three steps from the presidency, became the highest ranking U.S. official to meet in Ukraine with its president Volodymyr Zelensky. First lady Dr. Jill Biden is currently in Romania.

Business owners need more workers so Biden is extending the time that immigrant workers can stay in the U.S. Work permits, usually for two years before the renewal requirement, can use the existing permits for almost 18 months after expiration.

Uncomfortable with the attempt to defend Samuel Alito’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Republicans are concentrating on damning LGBTQ people. Sen. Roger Marshall’s (R-KS) letter to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board has been signed by four other GOP senators—Mike Braun (IN), Kevin Cramer (ND), Steve Daines (MT), and Mike Lee (UT). The letter demands that all programming with LGBTQ characters be labeled with “sexually-related content” for “mature” audiences only. The letter describes the use of these characters as “modeling behavior,” a term also used for “grooming.” There was no indication whether the demand extends to new programs. 

Rep. Jeff Van Drew introduced a bill requiring written consent from over 50 percent of parents at least 30 days prior to any discussions of LGBTQ people in schools. My Child, My Choice Act (MCMCA) claims schools are “compromising the safety of our young children.” Any school violating the act would lose federal funding, the only control the federal government has over education. States determine whether to provide an education or not and, if deciding to provide one, determine at what level of quality. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees every citizen equal protection under the law.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a new case for the Supreme Court: overturning the 40-year-old decision requiring states to pay for children’s public education, regardless of citizenship status. Plyler v. Doe (1982) struck down a Texas law refusing to educate some children based on their immigration status. Abbott claims that the state cannot afford to educated undocumented children. In Texas, each student costs $6,160, less than half of the national average in 2018 of $12,600. Last month, Abbott spent $9 billion in ten days to make an anti-immigration statement by blocking traffic at the southern border. He isn’t finished with the expenditure; he took another $500,000 from state Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Public Safety to continue funding his “inspection” program. The 1982 decision was based on the 14th Amendment equal protection grounds. Abbott demands the federal government, but Texas already receives $1.20 per person from the government for each $1 the person pays.

Abbott’s stunt on the southern border is already making him a loser. Mexico’s trade railway from Mazatlán to Winnipeg, with a connection in Texas, will be rerouted through New Mexico losing international trade for Texas. The ten-day inspection showed up with zero migrants or drugs, but Abbott is having another search because he didn’t like critical remarks from Mexico’s president after massive commercial delays. Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called Abbott’s policy extortion.

Texas leads in many ways, one is persecuting trans youth. Abbott requires that parents who permit their children to be transgender should be investigated by Children’s Services with possible child abuse. With over 300 anti-trans bills introduced in 28 states already in 2022, at least eight states passed laws blocking sports for trans youth and other laws charging doctors with felonies if they providing health care for trans youth. In other states, governors are issuing anti-trans policies. Legislation also attacks trans adults, targeting birth certificates, other legal identifying documents, and more rights.

In 19 states, Democratic legislators are trying to offer safe legal refuge for displaced trans youth and families forced from their homes because of the conservative legislation. A bill introduced in March would make California a refuge state, and Democrats are hoping to follow in West Virginia, Washington, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Michigan, Kentucky, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, and Connecticut.

Starting in 2017, more people ages one to 24 have been killed with guns than in car crashes, reversing the decades-long cause of death. Between 2000 and 2020, the rate of firearm-related deaths in this age group increased from 7.3 per 100,000 people to 10.28 per 100,000 while deaths from car crashes decreased from 13.62 to 8.31 per 100,000. The difference comes from the work to prevent deaths in car crashes compared to federal inability to regulate firearms safety, deaths’ tracking, and the interpretation of a government law—the Dickey Amendment—discouraging CDC funding for research in preventing gun injuries until 2018. Federal gun laws allows gun purchases without background checks and shields gunmakers from negligence claims, including when guns fall into the hands of children with deadly results.

Sarah Palin, running for the sole U.S. House position in Alaska against 50 opponents, may know something about her bad chances of winning that others don’t: she’s already claiming voter fraud happened in the election that hasn’t occurred, the one on June 11. For those who haven’t kept up with Palin, she lost the 2008 election when former Arizona Sen. John McCain picked her as his Republican running mate. Less than a year after she lost that election she resigned as Alaska’s governor. Maybe she noticed last October that 56 percent Alaskans view her negatively. Locals say she doesn’t spend any time in the state. Palin told Fox News’ Mark Lewin that she will lose because of mail-in ballots and the Dominion Voting Services tabulation.

Much has been said about GOP candidates, but this one hits a new low—hopefully! In Boone County (IN), Andrew Wilhoite, in jail awaiting his trial for killing his wife, has secured his position on November’s ballot for the Clinton Township Board. Three Republicans ran for three primary seats, and Wilhoite got 60 votes. His wife, who recently completed chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, filed for divorce because Wilhoite had an affair. Her body was found in a creek near their home, and Wilhoite said he hit her with a flowerpot. His trial begins in August. At least, felony convictions prevent people from candidacy and holding office.

And lots more news other than the anti-abortion ruling leak. Maybe tomorrow?

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