Nel's New Day

May 18, 2022

 Sad Events of the Week

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

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

Mark Joseph Stern writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 14, 2022

Ukraine Makes Progress against Russia

The U.S. Pentagon has newly captured Russian war plans and documents showing that its president, Vladimir Putin, “is in a corner, not just in Ukraine where his army is failing, but also in facing an existential threat from Europe, now even more united because of his missteps.” It appears “Odesa [Ukraine’s third largest city] is safe from Putin’s army and from coastal landings.” Also abandoned is advancement on Mykolaiv, and Ukraine has slowed Russia’s offensive efforts on the west bank of the Dnieper. Russian reinforcements have little fighting spirit while Ukraine displays high morale and excellent command.

Russia recognizes the possibility of Ukrainian victory both on the battlefield and in its change into a western Army as an expansion of NATO. Ukrainians may have won the “battle of Kharkiv,” blocking Russian troops from encircling and seizing the country’s second largest city. Russians attacking from Popasna in the north have made no progress and lack fresh combat power to offset huge losses. Russians plan to withdraw and return its forces home.

Ukrainians destroyed a Russian tank battalion trying to cross the Donets River on a pontoon bridge with possibly 1,500 Russians dead and up to 70 vehicles either burned or fallen into the water. The surviving 30 vehicles and Russian troops are stranded on the other side of the river in the third Ukrainian attack in three days.

Sean Spoonts, editor-in-chief of the military news outlet SOFREP, estimates Russia will run out of forces and equipment within 90 days. He added that figure could be optimistic. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also believes Putin doesn’t want a direct conflict with NATO.

Putin has appeared ill for several months, and a KGB defector to Britain, Boris Karpichkov, said he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, a stroke, and possibly dementia. At an April 22 meeting, he clung to a small table for over 13 minutes, perhaps to conceal tremors or vertigo. The press recently reported an authenticated audio recording from an oligarch close to the Kremlin describing Putin as “very ill with blood cancer.” The change of his facial appearance from gaunt to puffy is “compatible with steroid use,” according to Ashley Grossman. He explained that steroids are typically prescribed for various kinds of lymphoma or myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells, which “can cause widespread bone disease and definitely affect the spinal column and back.” A Russian coup to replace Putin may be underway.

Even Putin’s allies and state media admit his army is an embarrassment. State Duma member Semyon Bagdasarov called him a pariah fighting a war of aggression:

“Everyone is ashamed to talk about this topic … It’s a crying shame!”

On May 6, analyst Konstantin Sivkov said on Russian State TV show, “The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” that “current economic market system is unfit to meet the needs of our Armed Forces and of the entire country under these conditions.” He pushed for “military socialism,” putting “all strategic resources—including land and factories—under the direct control of the government to better fund the war.”

Without martial law, Putin cannot force soldiers into his Ukrainian war. Troops refusing to fight can be dismissed but not prosecuted and are looking for advice to stay out of the battle. Using volunteers or conscripts will only increase losses with untrained troops.

On Russia’s 60 Minutes, retired Colonel Mikhail Khodaryonok said that even “mass mobilization in Russia wouldn’t help alter the course of Putin’s stalled invasion of Ukraine.” Fighter aviation would take until New Year’s, and ships require two years. Even tanks can’t be built in fewer than 90 days. Khodaryonok added that nothing would be “equipped with modern weaponry because we don’t have modern weapons and equipment in our reserves … Sending people armed with weapons of yesteryear into a war of the 21st century to fight against global standard NATO weapons would not be the right thing to do.”

U.S.-led sanctions make Russia struggle to find parts for military equipment production. Technology exports from the U.S. have fallen by almost 70 percent. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo reported that some equipment is “filled with semiconductors that they took out of dishwashers and refrigerators.”

According to an intercepted telephone call between two Russians, the authorities in Ukraine’s occupied city of Donetsk are throwing thousands of their dead soldiers in a secret dump and then charging family and friends money to find them. The caller reluctantly explained that a soldier has been found after missing for a month after the dead man’s “sister went to Donetsk, and there, basically, roughly speaking, is a dump”:

“They just toss them there. And then later it’s easier to make as if they disappeared without a trace. It’s easier for them to pretend they are just missing, and that’s it…. There’s nowhere left to place them. It’s a dump. I’m telling you in plain Russian—a dump. It’s as tall as a person. [The site is] fenced off, sealed, they don’t let anyone in.”

Local authorities let the woman find her brother after she paid “good money” and then “they rearranged it until she found [the body.]” Al Jazeera released footage of refrigerated train cars holding unclaimed bodies of Russian troops killed in Ukraine. Putin won’t take the bodies back to Russia to hide the horrific death toll. Russians admit the deaths of only 1,300 military members in its “special military operation”; Ukraine’s estimates Russian death toll at about 26,000.

Ukraine will try a 21-year-old Russian soldier for war crimes, accusing him of killing an unarmed 62-year-old village resident in the northeastern region of Sumy. The man was pushing a bicycle along the road before he was shot in the head and “died on the spot a few dozen meters from his home.” The soldier said he was told his unit would have military exercises in Russia about 200 miles from Ukraine and was later captured in Ukraine when his column tried to take wounded soldiers back to Russia. Ukraine have opened over 5,000 cases connected to war crimes and crimes of aggression and filed charges against ten Russian soldiers in absentia for war crimes in Bucha after discovery of torture and mutilation.

Lithuania is the first country to declare Russia a terrorist country because of genocide. The UN reported accelerating numbers of Russian human trafficking, rape, and other sexual violence in Ukraine. Ukrainians forced into “filtration” camps in Russia endure strip searches, interrogations, and theft of their vital documents. Those suspected of Ukrainian sympathies are tortured and perhaps “disappeared.” On one day, May 13, 8,787 people deported from Ukraine including 1,106 children, according to Russian media.

Putin’s state TV has created more fantasies about the reasons for the invasion: “black magic” practiced by the troops, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s non-existent drug use. These add to the falsehood of Ukraine’s prevalence of neo-Nazis.

The Finnish Parliament’s defense committee recommended NATO membership, and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin agree in an historical shift of security policy for the traditionally nonaligned Nordic country. NATO will likely pave the way to the year-long process. Russia threatens with “to retaliatory steps.” Neighboring Sweden is also expected to follow Finland’s lead. The expansions would double NATO’s land border with Russia, increasing the military alliance’s frontier to the far north and around the Baltic Sea.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may not block Finland and Sweden from NATO, but the Turkish authoritarian leader isn’t happy about the addition because “Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organizations.” All 30 NATO members must approve any additions. Erdoğan is actually upset about Scandinavian support for Kurdish militants who he calls terrorists and because he approved Greece before it took “an attitude against Turkey.”

The U.S. has delivered the first of 11 helicopters as part of its “lend-lease” agreement. The Mi-17 transport aircraft, once earmarked for Afghanistan, are primarily used for personnel transport but can be armed with rockets and cannons for use in close air support situations.

The food shortage in the world has become worse after India, the world’s second-largest wheat producer with about ten percent of the world’s reserves, banned its exports with a few exceptions. Both Ukraine and Ukraine are major suppliers of wheat, but Black Sea fighting and blockades interrupted transport of any existing supplies. China’s drought caused poor harvests there, and the U.S. harvest is hurting from its heat wave and rising temperatures. Large port cities such as Odesa are storing about 25 million tons of staple grains such as corn, wheat, maize, and barley. Destined for the international market, the badly need food is stranded, and Russia has not reacted to pleas for lifting the blockade.

Not to be outdone by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who took a delegation of Democrats to meet in Ukraine with Zelensky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took his own three-Republican delegation for the same purpose. The trip was soon after one of McConnell’s GOP caucus, the other Kentucky senator Rand Paul, blocked the House bill to provide $40 billion in aid to the beleaguered nation. In 2019, Joe Scarborough labeled McConnell “Moscow Mitch.” The then-Senate Majority Leader blocked two bills to stop foreign influence in U.S. elections the day after special counsel Robert Mueller testified that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Fox’s biggest voice, Tucker Carlson, U.S. aid to Ukraine is revenge for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. Ukrainians “are merely unfortunate pawns,” according to Carlson, and “we arm Ukraine so that we can punish Russia … for stealing Hillary Clinton’s coronation.” He asserted that the U.S. doesn’t want to save lives or protect Ukraine—just create regime change in Russia as “payback.”

Nick Cohen wrote about Carlson’s—and his employer Rupert Murdoch’s—support of Russian atrocities:

“Murdoch is boosting Russian morale and, conversely, undermining Ukrainian resolve by supplying a dictatorship with foreign validation. Do not underestimate its importance. Russians who suspect their TV anchors are state-sponsored bootlickers are more likely to believe foreign commentators who assure them that the lies they are hearing are true.”

Maria Alyokhina, lead singer for Russian feminist arts collective and punk rock band Pussy Riot, escaped from Russia after three years of house arrest for criticizing Putin. The group plans a 19-show European tour to raise money for Ukrainian war victims. Alyokhina took that step after Russia announced she would have to serve 21 days in a penal colony. She said that Russia, not Ukraine, needs de-Nazification.

May 12, 2022

Baby Formula Shortage, Indian Board School Abuse, More

The news keeps rolling in.

First, a bit about the serious shortage of baby formula while the Supreme Court will mandate an increased “domestic supply of infants” (words from Justice Samuel Alito) by overturning Roe v. Wade. Brigid Kennedy cites two reasons: the problematic supply chain and the FDA closure of a major manufacturing plant from recalls of three powdered baby formula brands because of bacterial infections. At least four babies were hospitalized and two died after drinking the products from Abbott Laboratories. The FDA is working with manufacturers to increase production and prioritize product supply lines, but conservatives blame the FDA for not taking action. 

Kennedy skipped a third problem—hoarding. During the shortages in 2020, parents hoarded baby formula. When sufficient supply was manufactured, demand fell while parents used their hoarded product, and manufacturers cut back production. After the hoard disappeared, parents went back to buying baby formula, but the manufacturers weren’t ready for the demand. Canada isn’t a good source because the new U.S. North American trade agreement under Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) discourages formula imports from Canadians.

Conservatives want all the needs of people in the U.S. to be produced within its borders, and President Joe Biden tries to accommodate this demand and support U.S. manufacturing. Yet domestic producers such as Abbott, which had the bacterial infestation, hold buyers captive for prices and availability. Reducing trade with other countries then makes people in the U.S. more vulnerable to emergencies such as baby formula shortages. Narrow trade policies and pandemic hoarding have led to crises in availability of supplies.

Male conservatives are giving solutions after they finally figured out the baby formula shortage is a problem:

Just change brands: (a) that might also not be available; and (b) the host of side effects could cause health problems for an infant.

Use regular milk: cow’s milk before the 12-month mark can lead to serious issues—intestinal bleeding, kidney problems from too many proteins and minerals, and lack of nutrients for thriving infants.  

Shop on Amazon: not really a guarantee in a time of shortages, especially with suddenly canceled or pushed-back shipments, not to mention price-gouging.  

Congressional Republicans lambast Biden for doing nothing—although he is—while they sit back and taken no action. Oh yes, they are having a hearing on the baby formula shortage—in two weeks.

Abbott did well under DDT, able to make a $3 billion buyback of stocks. Last October, a whistleblower reported that its Michigan plant needed repair and claimed Abbott had lax cleaning procedures, falsified records, and hid information from FDA. The FDA issued a recall of Abbott’s product in February 2022. Abbott is one of three baby formula manufacturers largely controlling the industry in the U.S.

“Pro-life” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has an answer for obtaining more baby formula: he demands that Biden withhold it from any migrants in U.S. custody. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) agrees.

After over a half century, the U.S. reports on the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children taken from their homes for 150 years between 1819 to 1969 and put into Indian boarding schools. Developed by Thomas Jefferson, the racist violent system was intended to assimilate Native Americans and take their territories, according to the Interior Department. Over 500 of these children died in only 19 boarding schools after their kidnapping, and this report is only the first step for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Federal Indian Board School Initiative’s investigation.

Included in the report are recommendations for more investigation, additional funding, and a repository for information gathered by federal agencies and private institutions. Also requested is more funding for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the federal law that regulates the repatriation of Indigenous remains. Haaland also wants to use the report for ways to overcome the trauma of family separation such as mental health services and language revitalization. Recent studies show adults attending the schools when children suffer from much higher rates of physical health problems and passed these issues to their their children, who also are less healthy than the general population.

Never before has the federal government tried to research the tragedy in an attempt to acknowledge the horrors it inflicted on all these children and their families. It has a long way to go to record the deaths, the reasons for them, and the people responsible. Thus far, there is also no apology which tribal leaders have requested for decades, and the report doesn’t ensure any immediate steps to address the devastation. Haaland plans a year-long tour of Indian Country to hear survivors’ stories for a permanent oral history and connect them with support.

At least 408 of the boarding schools were located in 37 states, and the investigation located burial sites, some unmarked, at over 50 of them. School personnel renamed incarcerated students with English names, cut their hair, and denied them their language and cultural practices. Children as young as four years suffered corporal punishment, solitary confinement, flogging, withholding food, whipping, and slapping. According to the report, “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, disease, malnourishment, overcrowding, and lack of health care in Indian boarding schools are well-documented.” Children were also forced to do manual labor, sawing lumber, making shingles, digging wells and irrigation ditches, and sewing clothing.

At a press conference, Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, said that her grandparents were each eight years old when forced into a boarding school. Holding back tears, she continued:

“Many children like them never made it back to their homes. Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system.”

Indian boarding school historian and Comanche descendent Preston S. McBride said the nation doesn’t even know the number of Indigenous students attending these institutions—and certainly not how many died while kept there. He found over 1,000 deaths at the four former boarding schools he studied, and the number could be as high as 40,000 at the schools. Using a review of historical records, including letters from administrators, parents, and students, he said the reason for the deaths ranged from illness to abuse.  

Media across the nation are reporting the travesties of the Indian boarding schools in their own states as a simple internet search shows. Oklahoma had 79 of these facilities, more than any other state. Testimony from survivors from a House hearing on May 12.

In Congress, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KA), a citizen of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have introduced bills for a truth and reconciliation commission on Indian boarding schools, providing a framework for government response to tribal nations and citizens negatively affected by former federal policies. Boarding school survivors can submit testimony until May 26. The legislation would still permit religious organizations, responsible for about half the schools, to opt out. NAGPRA also covers only land under federal control or those receiving federal funding.

The leaks keep coming, and this one from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a classic. According to a recently discovered tape, Graham said after the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, that Democrat Joe Biden is “the best person” to lead the U.S. Graham was talking to Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns, who taped it for their new book This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future. To the question of whether Biden could bring the country together, Graham said, “Totally.” He added, “He’ll maybe be the best person to have. I mean, how mad can you get at Joe Biden?” In other criticisms about DDT, Graham said:

“He plays the TV game and he went too far here. That rally didn’t help, talking about primarying [the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney]. He created a sense of revenge.”

Graham tried to weasel out of his comments by having his spokesperson blame Biden for his “far-left agenda as president.”

Russia’s congressional assets emerged from the House vote on assistance for Ukraine.  The split for the $40 billion bill to deliver aid to Ukraine came in at 368-57—with all the 57 Republicans. A list of them includes the usual suspects. Part of the funding comes in the form of presidential drawdown authority funding increased to $11 billion so that the U.S. can send military equipment and weapons from U.S. stocks. In the Senate, Rand Paul (R-KY) single-handedly blocked a vote on the House bill in an objection to unanimous consent. He demanded an inspector general to oversee the funding, requiring the bill to be sent back to the House, but refused to make an amendment for his requirement.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson also continues to be a Russian asset. Last night on his show he called on “some billionaire … to fund a primary challenge against every single one of those Republican senators standing by Mitch McConnell” because the House Minority Leader advocates support for Ukraine in the brutal Russian invasion.

March 15, 2022

Women’s Equal Pay Day, More Ukraine

Today, March 15, 2022, is Equal Pay Day for white women. The National Committee on Pay Equity sets the date each year that represents how far into the year women, on average, must work to earn what men earned in just the previous year. In 2020, women earned 83 cents for every dollar men make. All women make 73 cents for every dollar that white men make. Other equal pay days in 2022:

  • Asian American/Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day: May 3 (75 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: September 21 (58 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: November 30 (50 cents for each white man’s dollar)
  • Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day: December 8 (49 cents for each white man’s dollar)

On the day before Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress, President Joe Biden blocked all property and interests owned by Russian-supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his wife. Lukashenko allowed Russian President Vladimir Putin to send his troops into Belarus for his Ukrainian invasion. A new U.S. visa restriction bans current and former Russian government officials and their families from entry to the U.S., affecting at least 38 people “believed to be involved in suppressing dissent.” 

Upset about the U.S. sanctions, Putin sanctioned 13 U.S. Democrats: Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and other high level Biden officials. (The sanction misspelled Biden’s name.) Putin even included Hunter Biden and Hillary Clinton in the sanction roundup in blocking travel to Russia and freezing their assets there. (Which they don’t have.) In response to the sanction, Clinton tweeted, “I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Russians have killed two more journalists in Ukraine, one of them Pierre Zakrzewski, the Fox network photojournalist riding with Fox reporter Benjamin Hall when they were fired on at a checkpoint outside Kyiv. Also murdered was 24-year-old Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, a Ukrainian working for the Fox network.

Fox network host Tucker Carlson has stopped praising Putin, but he’s still pushing disinformation that Putin re-broadcasts on Russian state TV. In one clip, retired Army Col. Doug Macgregor told Carlson:

“What is happening now is the battle in eastern Ukraine is really almost over, all the Ukrainian troops there have been largely surrounded and cut off … and if they don’t surrender in next 24 hours, I suspect the Russians will ultimately annihilate them. The game is over.”

This statement is false, but Putin uses it to convince Russians that he is victorious. MacGregor also told Carlson that Putin invaded Ukraine “in defense of his country” to stop Ukraine’s genocide on Russian-speaking civilians. He also blamed the U.S. “globalists” trying to destroy Russia’s “national identity.” Carlson has frequently chosen the conspiracy theorist with a history of xenophobia as his “first choice for foreign policy analysis.” They agree that the Russia should “absolutely” be permitted to annex as much of Ukraine as Putin wants. They are promoting the country killing their network’s journalists.

Carlson and MacGregor aren’t the only conservatives who have a record of supporting Putin’s brutality over Ukraine’s democracy. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) calls a group of Putin-supporting lawmakers the “Putin wing” in their attempt to support Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attempt to blackmail Zelensky. Staunch DDT supporters are still trying to whitewash his demand for a “favor” to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, in exchange for releasing the congressionally-approved military aid. 

With 80 percent of registered voters in the U.S. viewing Russia as the enemy, Carlson’s propaganda is failing. The number of those seeing Russia as a U.S. ally has dropped by one-half from 17.6 percent in February 2017 to 8.4 percent, according to a YouGov weekly tracking poll. The 80 percent is across both parties and unaffiliated; it’s up one-third from 60 percent since DDT’s inauguration.

A popular demand by some Republicans is a no-fly zone over Ukraine, allowing U.S. and other foreign planes to shoot down Russian planes which can lead to a world war, possibly a nuclear war. Former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, is leading the charge. Volker was part of DDT’s 2019 blackmail scandal to block the $400 million of U.S. military aid to Ukraine without a bogus probe into Hunter Biden. Volker’s job was to connect Giuliani with a Zelensky aide, access that Giuliani used to push for DDT’s deal.  He even lied about DDT’s behavior under oath in House testimony, saying he wanted to release the funding. Volker also said he had no idea that the deal had anything to do with Biden.

The indictment of Russian oligarch Andrey Muraviev in September 2020 has been made public. The tycoon allegedly funneled illegal foreign donations for Rep. Pete Sessions’ (R-TX) and DDT’s campaigns, among others. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born associates of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have been convicted on the same charge in Giuliani’s failed attempt to force Ukrainian officials to investigate Hunter Biden. DDT’s PAC received $325,000 in foreign donations from Muraviev. Sessions received his money for asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fire Marie Yavanovitch as U.S. Ambasador to Ukraine, writing Pompeo that he had “notice of concrete evidence” that she had been trashing the Trump administration. DDT fired her a year later, one of the events leading to his first impeachment trials.

For over two decades, Russian oligarchs have stashed their money in the U.S. through the purchase of condos in New York and other U.S. cities, the “luxury apartments” Biden promised to go after in his State of the Union speech. DOJ’s new Task Force KleptoCapture plans to go through the labyrinth of trusts and shell company LLCs to find the owners’ names. DDT joined the scam when he sold Dmitry Rybolovlev a Palm Beach mansion for $95 million at over twice DT’s cost of $14.35 million four years earlier.

Putin claims he’s keeping approximately 500 airplanes leased from foreign countries, most of them inside Russia when the country invaded Ukraine, even if he can’t pay for them. He signed a law allowing his airlines to register the planes, worth approximately $12 billion, and keep flying them. Almost half of the planes are from Ireland, a member of the EU which banned any planes’ sales or leasing to Russia as part of their sanctions. Many of the over 100 leasing companies are too small to survive if they lose these planes.

Leasing companies must end contracts in Russia by March 28. Sanctions also prevent Western companies from providing spare parts and maintenance to Russian airlines, and the planes may also not be insured. Russia will likely use up all the parts they have and then start cannibalizing planes to keep the others flying. Russia plans to use only the planes they own or lease from Russians for flights outside the country.

Putin’s law violates the 1944 Chicago Convention that allows lessors to cross international borders and take back planes from defaulting customers. As of 2019, every UN member—including Russia—had signed on to the agreement except Lichtentein. Because of sanctions, Boeing is losing on-order sales for 35 of its 737 Max and 777 cargo planes. Airbus had orders for 27 planes.  

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new law helps Putin, according to Mark Hertling, a retired U.S. Army officer and Florida resident. In an op-ed for the Miami Herald, Hertling wrote that the law eliminating any incentive for Floridians to generate their own alternative energy provides more oil money to Putin. As former commanding general of the United States Army-Europe, he asserted Russia’s invasion did not come as a “complete surprise” to “those of us who spent most of our professional lives in the U.S. Armed Forces.” They had tracked and reported on Putin’s takeovers and “other adventures in Moldova and Azerbaijan.” Hertling wrote that solar panels on his house cut his electric bills by two-thirds and were paid for within a few years.

Russia’s invasion and its fake disinformation have created a dilemma for its two allies, North Korea and China. Most awkward is Kim Jong Un’s nationalist position, causing an invasion of another country hard to approve. Yet he wants to support one of his very few allies. Korea-language press ignores he invasion.

China looks on Russia as a good ally, but the rapid destruction of Russia’s economy warns the Chinese about danger on Russia’s side against most of the industrialized countries. Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to follow a “pro-Russia neutrality,” a series of contradictory messages with echoes of Russian disinformation. Last week, China promised almost $800,000 humanitarian aid to Ukraine and called the invasion “a war” against Putin’s rules. Yet its propaganda account accidentally posted guidelines for its coverage that said “no posts unfavorable to Russia or with pro-Western content should be published.” State media also published posts using Putin’s term for the U.S. as “an empire of lies” and Russian lies about the U.S. building bioweapons in Ukraine. The question will be whether China gives Russia the military aid it requested.

A custom LEGO retailer in Chicago has raised controversy by selling custom figures of Zelensky and war weapons Molotov cocktails. All the proceeds, thus far $16,540, are donated to Direct Relief, providing emergency medical assistance throughout the world, that donated $26 million to Ukraine in the past six months. When the company ran out of the product, it asked people to donate to “a relevant charity.” The LEGO group has stopped shipments to Russian brand stores and donated £12.3 million in relief efforts through the LEGO Foundation.

 

February 21, 2022

Russian Danger Accelerates

The possibility of war caused by Russia invading Ukraine hourly grows more possible. Today, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine after he recognized the independence of two eastern Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, with separatist populations. Putin called his move a “peacekeeping” effort, but both his actions are provocations with a pretext to invade Ukraine, destroying a cease-fire agreement from 2015.

Putin claims “Ukraine has never had its own authentic statehood”: the region he declared independent has heavy mining and steel-producing capacity as well as big coal reserves. He also claims that the people of the region want to be a part of Russia, but separatists control only one-third of the areas, about 6,500 square miles. Mass protests in 2014 overturned the pro-Kremlin president of Ukraine, and Russia invaded and illegally annexed Ukraine’s peninsula, Crimea, on the bottom of Ukraine. Kremlin-supported separatists then took over the eastern industrial areas of Donetsk and Luhansk on the Russian border, seizing government buildings and proclaiming “people’s republics.” They declared independence from Ukraine, likely using Russian troops and weapons. Since 2014, fighting in the area has taken 14,000 lives, and over two million people fled the area. About 2.3 million and 1.5 million people, respectively, remain in the areas.

Russia and Ukraine agreed on the Minsk peace deal in 2015, brokered by France and Germany to stop the conflict between Ukraine and its Russian-supported separatists. Ukraine agreed to give Donetsk and Luhansk special status and certain autonomy to regain Ukrainian control of its border with Russia. With almost 200,000 soldiers along its border with Ukraine, Russia claims territory beyond their agreement with Ukraine, in regions controlled by the Ukrainian army. Separatist leaders called for civilian evacuation to Russia; over 60,000 evacuees were in Russia by today.

Putin declared Ukraine is operated by a “puppet regime” which the U.S. and the West controls. “They are a part of our culture,” he asserted, and threatened Ukraine for removing some Soviet-era statues. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Putin’s actions a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, probably a unilateral withdrawal from the Minsk agreements to end war in the Donbas area.

Biden followed up yesterday’s call with Putin by blocking U.S. investment and trade in the Ukrainian breakaway regions and sanctions who operates in those areas. Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated:

“We have anticipated a move like this from Russia and are ready to respond immediately. To be clear: these measures are separate from and would be in addition to the swift and severe economic measures we have been preparing in coordination with Allies and partners should Russia further invade Ukraine.”

Biden also talked with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. They talked about how to continue their coordinated response. The U.S. congressional delegation to the Munich Security Conference pledged to “work toward” emergency legislation that “will best support our NATO allies and the people of Ukraine, and support freedom and safety around the world.” Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led the bipartisan group. Zelensky plans a relocation to Lviv, 50 miles from the Polish border in west Ukraine.

Before Putin took these aggressive actions, Biden had agreed to meet with him “in principle” if Russia did not invade Ukraine. Russia didn’t rule it out, but U.S. intelligence found that Russian military officials were ordered to proceed with an invasion. Last Friday Biden had declared that Putin already determined an invasion of Ukraine. Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he would meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Geneva on Thursday; Blinken said the meeting would not happen if Russia invades Ukraine.

Putin’s massive military drills along Ukraine’s borders, rescheduled from this coming October, were to end Sunday, but Russia extended the ones in Belarus, a Russian ally, to Ukraine’s north. The Belarus Defense Ministry reported Russian troops, as many as 30,000 and the most since the end of the Cold War, may stay there indefinitely until NATO forces pull back from countries near Russia and Belarus. Shellings in residential Ukraine, cease-fire violations, have accelerated in false-flag operations as an excuse for Russian invasion.

The U.S. notified Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights in Geneva about a Russian list of Ukrainian citizens to be killed or sent to detention camps after its invasion and occupation. These are people opposed to Russian actions—journalists, anti-corruption activists, ethnic and religious minority members, LGBTQ people, and dissidents from Russia and Belarus living in Ukraine.

Russia could invade one of three ways: one huge attack, bites to dismantle Ukraine, or a python-style squeeze. The last could use the Russian troops in Belarus and save moving tanks into Ukraine. A single blow, believed most likely by U.S. military and intelligence official, could be the biggest and most violent war for European territory since the 1945 Nazi surrender.

The crisis is expected to create havoc for Russian, Ukrainian, and wider global stock markets on Tuesday, after Vladimir Putin upped the ante in a crisis the West fears could unleash a major war. Russians and Ukrainians have already lost tens of billions of dollars in assets, beginning a worse disaster. Ruble value dropped 3.3 percent. Moscow’s dollar-denominated RTX index stock markets plunged 13.2 percent, and the ruble-based MOEX lost 10.5 percent. Current tensions also caused higher oil prices, over three percent. West Texas Intermediate is up to about $94 a barrel, and the global Brent benchmark is about $96 after flat prices last week.

The current situation parallels that of the 1930s when conservatives supported Hitler. In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, a conservative, permitted Adolf Hitler to annex part of Czechoslovakia to “protect” ethnic Germans there with Hitler’s promise of peace. Chamberlain kept his policy of “appeasement” for another year until Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  

Under the leadership of Fox network host Tucker Carlson, formerly fringe and now leading Republicans believe Putin’s disinformation and favor him, once again trailing after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Every night Tucker sings his praise of Putin, and far-right GOP congressional members typically use Russian talking points in communications and hearings. Carlson is so pleasing to Russians that he is featured on the country’s state-TV. “[Putin] just wants to keep his western borders secure,” Carlson asserted. As for Ukraine, “it’s run by a dictator who’s friends with everyone in Washington.” All lies but Russians are ecstatic.

On his website Bulwark, Republican Charlie Sykes wrote about “the ultimate stooges,” quoting Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council.

Carlson pulled in former Democratic representative and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard who has moved far right. She echoed Carlson’s Ukrainian dictator lies by falsely claiming Zelensky is anti-democracy when he “arrests political opposition, throws them in jail, shuts down TV stations that are critical to him.”

Fox “stooge” Maria Bartiromo, a “conspiracy maven formerly known as the ‘money honey,’” insists the possible Russia invasion was created to distract from Hillary Clinton and “from what she did.” She linked Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, to Clinton as her former campaign senior policy adviser. Bartiromo falsely accuses Sullivan of “peddling this Russia collusion lie.”

Laura Ingraham, part of the Fox conspiracy team, claims that Biden uses Russia to get the media “off the raging crime, raging COVID, raging inflation story.”

Columnist A.J. Delgado, formerly caught up in a scandal when she became pregnant by DDT’s aide Jason Miller who gave her an abortion pill without telling her, came out with huge support for Russia and Vladimir Putin:

“If Putin wants to throw some cold water on American expansionism and interventionism, for whatever reason, that’s a good thing. We’re overly aggressive sometimes and NEED another bully on the world stage, to check our worst impulses.”

“Why am I supposed to despise Putin so much? Does he have firing squads? (Nope. Meanwhile, Castro did you and you Dems spent DECADES ‘both sides”ing him.) Does Russia have freedom of movement, free enterprise, etc? Yes. Are women stoned? No. Are dogs tortured for festivals? No.”

Other right-wing commentators beat the same drums: Sohrab Ahmari smearing Ukrainians as anti-Semitic fascists, ignoring the anti-Semitic fascist Russians and Candace Owens wanting the U.S. to invade Canada to protect the trucker convoy.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) lied about Ukraine being Hillary Clinton’s top donor for her campaign. Foreign governments cannot legally donate to U.S. candidates. The list of Clinton donors, none of them from Ukraine. 

Former never-Trumper but now faithful MAGA Ohioan JD Vance, working hard to be elected to the Senate, said, “I don’t really care what happened to Ukraine one way or another.”

GOP Rep. Paul Gosar wrote the U.S. shouldn’t go to Ukraine after “we just lost Afghanistan to sandal-wearing goat herders.” He also opposed Ukraine joining NATO before denigrating the organization.

Chuck Todd, self-identified Democrat and host of Meet the Press, joined Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in presenting false Russian talking points that Democrats and Biden are responsible for Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine.

Other Republicans criticized Biden: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined other Republicans to evacuate Americans from Ukraine if they don’t voluntarily leave on their own, and Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) says Biden should do something instead of just talking. Both moves would incite Putin to action.

Like DDT and his far-right followers, Putin wants to break up NATO, keep dictators in power, remove democracy, and centralize power with Republicans, achieved by causing the nation to fail. Luckily for the world, DDT is no longer in the White House.

Additional information from scholar Heather Cox Richardson. 

February 5, 2022

Tucker Carlson in 2024?

In order to be a valid Trumpy presidential candidates if the real thing doesn’t run in 2024, both Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin have to produce results in their official capacity—a dangerous risk. Fox network’s Tucker Carlson has no other responsibility than to spew hatred, a skill he has been honing for five years on the show with his name. His rants, escalating to keep his top rating after Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) produces less shocking news since his move to Mar-a-Lago, puts him into the lead to Ground Zero Hell for the U.S.

Some samples:

Vaccinations:  Although Fox network mandates either COVID vaccinations or weekly tests for all employees, Carlson repeatedly damns vaccines with “innocent” questions, comparing mandates to medical experiments undertaken by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. He also hosts disinformation spreaders. He compares mandatory vaccinations to “Jim Crow” racial segregation laws and refuses to talk about the Fox vaccination policy.

Last spring, Carlson called mask-wearing as “repulsive—don’t do it around other people.” He said children wearing masks outdoors, as CDC recommended during the worst of the pandemic, a form of child abuse. “Call the police immediately. Contact child protective services,” Carlson ordered. He claimed that only “zealots and neurotics” or those who have to wear masks—like those wearing Kim Il-sung pins in Pyongyang.

Russia: Republicans continually call Democrats “communists,” but Carlson supports Communist Russia in its possible takeover of Ukraine, saying Russian president Vladimir Putin “just wants to keep his western borders secure.” Russia crossed Ukraine’s borders to invade and seize Ukrainian territory, but Carlson calls people who disagree with him about Russia a “moron,” neocon buffoon,” and “ignorant.” Like Russia and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Carlson opposes Ukraine joining NATO. 

Putin has already taken over Crimea; now he wants Eastern Ukraine to continue moving west in his imperialist goals.  Calling Ukraine “irrelevant” to the U.S., Carlson follows the white supremacist love for Russia. His viewers are calling lawmakers to demand that President Joe Biden support Russia in its “reasonable” takeover of Ukraine. Some in Russian media publicly question whether Carlson took “advanced training courses at the Russian Foreign Ministry.”

January 6 Insurrection: Carlson frequently hosted an Oath Keeper facing sedition conspiracy charges and describes him as a “disabled veteran.” Known as “Commander Tom,” the man was stationed outside the Capitol, ready to distribute weapons to other Oath Keepers and plotted getaway plans to Virginia for more weapons. Carlson also defended violent insurrectionists because they called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office asking for the return of items they had left behind. He falsely called Democrats the violent ones, not the right-wingers who stayed “peaceful” despite their violent attacks and made Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) grovel and apologize for calling the events on January 6 terrorism.

Critical Race Theory: Carlson made up his own definition of CRT, that it is teaching white children to be shamed, but said he’d “never figured out what critical race theory is”—even “after a year of talking about it.”

Kyle Rittenhouse: Fox and Carlson deny any direct payment to Kyle Rittenhouse to make a documentary about his exoneration for stalking and killing two men and wounding another, but the network and its show host seem to be behind the teenager’s expensive legal defense that exonerated him. Carlson had over 5 million watchers for his interview with Rittenhouse. At 18, Rittenhouse has been lionized by the far right, including Carlson, because he killed people with an illegally-obtained AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that he took across state lines when he was too young to own a gun.  

Personal Attacks: Carlson’s wanted to strip GOP strategist Frank Luntz of any role in the party “because his views don’t align with average Republican voters.” Luntz had developed effective talking points for Republicans, beginning with Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America,” to make Republicans the effective lying machine they are.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is the focus of Carson’s hostility toward LGBTQ people. In a 12-minute rant against the gay father of two adopted babies, Carlson repeated his hatred for Buttigieg by calling him an unqualified “kid” who “breastfeeds.” The “kid” is a Harvard grad and Rhodes scholar who served in the Navy for eight years, including as a lieutenant in a counterterrorism unit and was twice elected the mayor of South Bend (IN). The multi-millionaire Carlson ridiculed Buttigieg’s goal to support “the safety of our children and our families” and complained about potholes in South Bend streets.

Carlson worked so hard to destroy Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, that he spent hours on-air smearing him, especially after a possibly mythical discovery of Hunter’s laptop computer abandoned in a New York repair shop. No one ever saw the contents, but Carlson talked about the salacious contents with no evidence. Evidence proves that Carlson used an earlier friendship with Hunter to get his son into Georgetown, Hunter’s alma mater. The son Buckley graduated in 2019, and Carlson never commented on his closeness with Hunter during his rants against him.

Carlson is eclectic in his attacks:

  • He warned people not to go to Baltimore, “one of the worst places in the western hemisphere…, a bit of Haiti in the mid-Atlantic.”
  • After Meghan Markle and Prince Harry criticized Joe Rogan for his COVID misinformation on Spotify, Tucker called them “that annoying fake duchess from LA and her brain-dead husband”—“grifters.”
  • The U.S. will lose to the “masculine” military of China, according to Carlson, because Biden wants the U.S. military to “become more feminine” with pregnant troops and female four-star general. (Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who lost both her legs in combat, fired back at Carlson for that one.) 
  • Tucker agreed with Rep. Marjorie Greene (R-GA) that most lawmakers “sound like losers” and “not qualified to be there.” (He gave Greene’s campaign $250 in a raffle for a $10,000 Barrett M82A1 sniper rifle.)
  • Even the lowly M&Ms are not beyond Carlson’s notice. He said the rotund figures are “deeply unappealing” and no longer “sexy” because they now wear sneakers. Especially the green one!
  • And then there’s Tucker Carlson’s worship of the Hungarian authoritarianism. But that’s a story for another day.

Carlson’s followers, like all Fox afficiandos, suffer from ignorance about the news either through falsehoods or omissions. In an interview with CNN anchor Jim Costa, Gretchen Carlson (no relation to Tucker) talking about Fox hosts spreading disinformation and lies, for example, January 6 when Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham frantically texted DDT’s chief of staff to get DDT to stop the violence. In between their texting, they defended the Capitol insurrectionists while they were on air. Gretchen Carlson commented that some Fox employees think she still works there although she quit in 2016 when she sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment and received a settlement. Fox never covered these stories.  

Support for Russia against Ukraine is becoming a DDT litmus test like the claim that Joe Biden isn’t the legitimately elected president, yet some of Carlson’s more rational supporters are drifting away because of his rabid positions. For example, many GOP legislators are upset with him because of his support for Russia against the U.S., leaving him with only a few such as Hawley and a few GOP representatives who share his opinions

Carlson may acquire DDT’s base, but paid Fox contributors are jumping the network ship. Last fall, conservative writers Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg departed after Carlson glorified the “patriots” who threatened the lives of congressional members on January 6 in his three-part revisionist series on January 6, “Patriot Purge.” Hayes protested Carlson’s propaganda presentation of prosecuting insurrectionists as a “domestic war on terror” against the right. The tipping point for Hayes came when a man at a pro-DDT rally asked, “When do we get to use the guns?”

Chris Wallace, top anchor at Fox for nearly two decades, and Bret Baier, Fox’s chief political correspondent, complained about Carlson to Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and its president of news Jay Wallace. Wallace has left Fox since then. 

HuffPost senior reporter Christopher Mathias stated “Patriot Purge” is “the most nakedly fascist piece of propaganda Carlson has ever produced.” Politifact’s article about the series gives an idea of what the United States will be like if the far-right takes control of the nation. Michael Jenson, senior researcher at the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, said:

“It is political propaganda that is meant to rally a support base that has shown a willingness to mobilize on the basis of disinformation and lies. That’s how we got Jan. 6 in the first place.”

Goldberg said he left Fox because he could no longer “be complicit in so many lies.” With Hayes, he wrote, “The voices of the responsible are being drowned out by the irresponsible.” Goldberg continued:

“I know that a huge share of the people you saw on TV praising Trump were being dishonest. I don’t merely suspect it, I know it, because they would say one thing to my face or in my presence and another thing when the cameras and microphones were flipped on.”

Acosta called Carlson along with Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Madison Cawthorn (R-SC) the American Taliban for the use of intimidation and violence to get what they want.

Hate pays: Carlson was #1 in number of views for cable news programs on January 27. And Carlson is better at hate than DDT. Much better.

January 12, 2022

Politics: Moving into 2022

Congress is back, as the fireworks. A few bits.

The former girlfriend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is testifying before a federal grand jury, probably under an immunity deal to avoid obstruction of justification. Gaetz is being investigated for having sex with an underage female for money and, with others, transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution, violating the Mann Act. He is also investigated for obstruction of justice. The probe into Gaetz began over a year ago when his former friend and ally, former Seminole County tax collector Joel Greenberg, was charged with multiple crimes such as cheating taxpayers in a cryptocurrency scheme, smearing a political rival, sex-trafficking the girl in the Gaetz investigation, and being a pedophile. Greenberg pled guilty to six charges of identity theft, stalking, wire fraud, conspiracy to bribe a public official, and sex-trafficking of a minor.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) again called for Gaetz to be removed from the House Judiciary Committee, tweeting that Gaetz “is entitled to the presumption of innocence but [not to sit on the committee] that has direct oversight over the very Department investigating him for sex crimes.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won’t take action on Gaetz because he hopes to be Speaker if the GOP takes the House in 2022.

McCarthy is also refusing to talk to the January 6 investigation committee after earlier having said he would cooperate. Members want to ask McCarthy about his conversations with DDT on January 6 and following days. Previously, McCarthy described his telephone call to DDT after the beginning of the attack as “very heated.” During that call, DDT sided with the rioters, telling McCarthy they were more upset about the election than he was. A Politico article reported McCarthy telling other Republicans that DDT had admitted a level of responsibility for the attack in conversations with him.

On the night of McCarthy’s refusal, the media is playing a video of his speech over a year ago when McCarthy said “the president bears responsibility” for the riot. Yet he opposed any committee investigating the insurrection although 35 other Republicans voted for its formation. In selecting five GOP members for the committee, he chose the greatest obstructors to it and then pulled all his nominations after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to accept two of them.

Seven states were busted for sending identical forged election certificates for DDT before the Electoral College vote count on January 6, part of John Eastman’s plan to overturn the election approved by DDT. Congressional members had sent former chief of staff Mark Meadows text messages and emails about sending alternative elector slates. He responded, “I love it” and then, “Yes. Have a team on it.” Joe Biden won all these battleground states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—in the popular vote. They have a total of 85 electoral votes. Eastman declared the states had competing electors, but DDT electors had no authority in their claim to be electors. Investigators are focusing on possible crimes for the January 6 committee.

In addition to the identical forged certificate, Arizona sent another one with different electors.   Lori Osjecki said “AZ Protect the Vote,” supposedly a group of “sovereign citizens of the Great State of Arizona,” prepared the second fake document and had it notarized after they met with DDT’s former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The state’s majority vote supported Biden, but they took this action because they thought the state’s governor, Doug Ducey, didn’t support DDT’s efforts. Katie Hobbs, Arizona Secretary of State, said the group used a state seal on its false certificate “to make it look official, which is not a legal activity.”

During testimony about COVID before the Senate, Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was making money from “a catastrophic epidemic.” The two have had heated exchanges in the past. Paul accused Fauci of a “smear campaign,” denouncing conservative academics opposing the 2020 shutdown measures, but Fauci pointed out the emails to Fauci’s colleagues were only a link to a Wired article debunking “herd immunity.” Fauci said that Paul’s accusations “kindles the crazies out there” and he receive “threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.” He pointed out that Paul uses his diatribes “for political reasons” and “distracts what we’re all trying to do here today—get our arms around the epidemic and the pandemic that we are dealing with, not something that is imaginary.”

Paul’s campaign fundraising has used Fauci’s image with calls to “fire Fauci.” Soon after the hearing, Paul’s campaign sent donors an email with the subject line “Fauci is hysterical” and provided a link for Paul’s supporters to “Chip in if you agree.” Fauci said that Paul’s accusations “kindles the crazies out there” and he receive “threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”

In another Senate hearing, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) harassed DOJ members. He recently became a worshipper of Fox’s Tucker Carlson after the host disapproved of Cruz’s statement about the January 6 riot being an act of “domestic terrorism.” Carlson said that calling the insurrection “terrorism” is “a lie.” To gain Carlson’s approval, Cruz not only reversed his description of the insurrection, but also went full-throated by damning a new DOJ task force dedicated to domestic terrorism, doubling in the past year.

Talking about the new DOJ unit, Cruz used Carlson’s lies to ask questions about January 6, as well as conservative screenshots of an Arizona man, Ray Epps, who was, according to conspiracy theorists, a federal agent involved in the attack. Cruz demanded information about the participation of FBI agents or informants in the crowd who “deliberately encouraged illegal violent conduct on January 6.” He insisted Epps was an informant and wanted to know about other FBI agents or informants in the January 6 crowd, if they participated in criminal activity and encouraged “violent criminal conduct.” He was told the DOJ couldn’t discuss those matters. Talking to Carlson, Cruz had ranted, “They want to paint us as Nazis!” and bragged he was “leading the fight in the Senate against the garbage.”

The January 6 committee already interviewed Epps. He said he has never worked with or for any law enforcement agency and never been an informant for any law enforcement agency including the FBI. Despite facts about Epps’ background to the contrary, Carlson claimed Cruz’s questions proved that “DOJ had some role in the events of January 6.” Carlson has already escaped a lawsuit accusing him of lying on his program after the judge declared he was only entertainment and no one should believe anything he says.

People should definitely not believe Carlson’s latest cure for COVID, the penis-lifting Viagra. Carlson cited a woman in the UK who came out of a coma have being given massive doses of the medication. CNN’s Jim Acosta commented, “I suppose some people will justify those prescriptions with just about anything” and continued that Carlson’s show “really should come with a Surgeon General’s warning for disinformation.” Male overdosing on the medication can cause prolonged erections, known as priapism, nausea, chest pains and irregular heartbeat. The penis can become permanently damaged, causing future erections, if priapism is not treated with 24 hours. A Columbia man had to have his penis amputated from gangrene after he suffered priapism from too much Viagra. https://www.drugwatch.com/viagra/  Using the drug has been linked to vision and hearing loss, heart complications, and melanoma.

Another anti-vaxxer swears by drinking one’s own urine as a cure. Christopher Key claims his idea comes from “tons and tons of research.” The research? Blood goes through the liver which removes toxins, dead cells, and other waste before pumping through the kidneys, which extract excess fluid water-soluble molecules—nitrogen, vitamins, minerals, proteins, antibodies, and other metabolites—before transferring them to the bladder. Urine is not sterile when it leaves the body; the urinary tract hosts bacterial colonies. Believers are the same people who won’t wear masks—and don’t want to put vaccine in their bodies.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell wants to put “300 million” American people into prison for life because of election fraud. [In 2020, 159 million people voted, and the U.S. census counted 321 million people, including children.] He also repeated his promise that his case is going to the Supreme Court in the next seven months. He said:

“Evil is revealing itself. Evil is popping up like pocket gophers. They pop their heads up, it’s whack-a-mole. It’s everywhere.”

Lindell has spent $25 million since the election to find fraud and is being sued by Dominion voting machines for $1.2 billion. He said he didn’t care if it was a “scrillion.” Lindell reports he’s spending a million dollars a month to support his new election “go-to hub,” spreading DDT’s election lies, and another $250,000 a month for the new election-conspiracy group Cause of America. It’s operated by two women at the Capitol insurrection. The group promises a lawsuit to force a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election like the one in Arizona.

Lindell had to cancel his Monday night program, the Lindell Report, because of illness.

January 7, 2022

GOP Continues Its Shameful Behavior

Until January 6, 2022, President Joe Biden occasionally referred to Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) only as “the other guy.” In his speech commemorating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol one year earlier, however, he consistently condemned the lies told by “the former president of the United States” and how destructive the statements from “the former president” are for democracy in the United States. Biden didn’t use DDT’s name once in his 16 references to DDT, one time calling him a “defeated former president” and declaring that his outsized ego won’t allow him to admit he lost.

DDT wasn’t happy about Biden’s speech. Banned from social media for his lying, DDT issued press releases with accusations that the U.S. has corrupt elections, isn’t energy independent, and has a deteriorating international standing. He continued with the false claim about the “rigged” 2020 presidential election—and the same lie again. The next one accused Democrats of trying to “stop the peaceful transfer” of power and made claims of new evidence that Georgia, who he begged for just 11,780 more votes for his win, was selling ballots for $10 and frequent statement about the election itself being “the real insurrection.”

Biden, however, didn’t let the insurrectionists off the hook. He said:

“Those who stormed this Capitol, and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so, held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy. They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage — not in service of America but rather in service of one man.

“You cannot love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

Republicans angrily berated Biden for his lack of unity and plaintively crying about how Biden was “politicizing” January 6. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the strangest comment:

“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”

Other shameful events:

Numerous studies point out the massive ignorance of Fox watchers, and their “reporting” on January 6 was a prime example of why. During the many events commemorating the biggest disaster in the U.S. since 9/11, Fox featured a video of a painting dog. On Fox & Friends between 6:20 and 9:00 am, the insurrection anniversary received two slight mentions, a news headline package and Brian Kilmeade’s suggestion that Biden was trying to divert attention to les damaging topics for him. Lara Trump talked about how much time Biden spent in Delaware (not as much as her father-in-law’s disappearance from the White House), a nurse discussed her firing for not being vaccinated, a former U.S. Marine complained about Biden’s Afghanistan pullout, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced distribution of COVID test kits but omitted his allowing almost one million of them to expire from nonuse.

Newsmax, a more conservative network than Fox, used Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to complain about the bad treatment January 6 insurrectionists were receiving in jail. Conservative news outlets ignored speeches describing experiences while under siege. Top Breitbart headlines included “Democrat Day of Hysteria,” “Kamala Unhinged” and “Dividin’ Biden Blames Trump.” RedState.com led with “The Twisted Morality of Those Who Obsess over January 6th.”

Ignorance.

Jacob Chansley, aka the QAnon Shaman photographed bare-chested in furs at the insurrection and carrying a spear, celebrated his January 6 by calling a QAnon show about his new fake theory about underground civilizations where the military are developing technology “several hundred years” more advanced than on the earth’s surface. Jackson Lahmeyer, Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate candidate, hosted Michael Flynn, who called the Biden administration “a takeover of the United States system of government” and “a shift from democracy to socialism.” Lahmyer consistently called Biden the “former vice president.” He held up a copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and said the current administration was a “total communist takeover.” Flynn continued to call for a military coup in the U.S. and called for “soldiers.”

Fox’s Tucker Carlson brought Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to his knees for repeating his statement about the January 6 assault being a “violent terrorist attack.” The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Tucker lashed out at Cruz and his statement, and Cruz rushed to talk to Carlson on his program to take back his comments and apologize. Carlson finally agreed that people who attack police officers should be prosecuted but may not be terrorists. He also told Cruz he didn’t believe his explanation that he “used a dumb choice of words,” sent later in a tweet. Cruz, who considers himself second in running for the 2024 presidential election after DDT, can’t even stand up to a media outlet. Although he was part of the congressional cabal to overturn Biden’s election on January 6.

Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) did have a little press conference as planned, but the highly conservative Newsmax walked out on it. About Cruz’s description about the attack, Gaetz said Cruz can “bend over” all he wants but nobody will ever love him. On Steve Bannon’s podcast, Gaetz claimed that the Capitol was “booby trapped” by removing barriers (probably why attackers climbed the walls) by people who “didn’t know they were breaking the law.” He also said all of them, including himself and Greene, were “blood libeled.” (Blood libel, aka ritual murder libel, is a false anti-Semitic accusation that Jews murder Christian children or other gentiles to use their blood in religious rituals.)

The Supreme Court began 2022 with conservative judges and attorneys arguing against mandates for vaccinations. “The fact that you face at work that risk when you go to work doesn’t make it a workplace risk,” a right-wing attorney told Justice Elena Kagan. Two of the lawyers opposing the mandate argued from home, one of the perks of white-collar employees, because they have COVID

Conservative justices, a majority because of DDT, will most likely use this case to quash the ability of agencies to determine regulations for the nation’s laws. For its vaccination mandate, OSHA used a federal law permitting it to issue an “emergency temporary standard” when it determines that it’s “necessary” to protect employees from a “grave danger” resulting from “physically harmful” “agents” or “new hazards.” The coronavirus is both an infectious “agent” and a “new hazard” that poses a “grave danger.” The mandate fits the law. Justices, however, don’t want to authorize the law because they came from the Federalist movement to erase “the administrative state,” agencies implementing laws passed by Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts opposes OSHA’s mandate because it is based on a law passed “50 years ago.” Despite the burgeoning additional 849,181 infections and 2,015 deaths in the U.S. from COVID yesterday, the six conservatives will find some “constitutional” way around the law designed to slow the pandemic.

Texas, the state where vigilantes can pursue people supporting abortion and women die because the procedure is no longer legally available, now minimize long voting lines like long lines for COVID testing. The state GOP posted an image actually taken in Manhattan. Beto O’Rourke, former Texas representative and current gubernatorial candidate, addressed Gov. Greg Abbott when he wrote, “76,000 Texans have died on your watch and one-fifth of the state’s healthcare workers quit because Abbott “abandoned them.”  

New Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin is mimicking DDT by picking Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist and DDT’s EPA chief, for his secretary of natural resources to obtain a “growing power supply.” While in the federal government, Wheeler promoted pollution by rolling back environmental rules and falsely claimed the climate change threat won’t happen until “50 to 75 years out.” Wheeler’s confirmation goes to the state Senate with a Democratic majority of 21-19. Anti-abortion will likely be another Youngkin issue: when a crowd lambasted him for not being sufficiently against abortions, he told them he had to stay quiet about his anti-abortion beliefs so that he could get elected. A year ago, Wheeler failed to condemn the January 6 attack and refused to criticize DDT.

The party of White supremacy is whitewashing the right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, by denial, differentiation (It wasn’t that bad according to conspiracy theorists like Tucker Carlson), and transcendence (look at the bigger picture). Another diversion is bolstering, claiming that DDT’s base loved the way he fought for them. Since the beginning of his campaign in 2015, DDT has attacked the United States and licensed people to follow his hatred through his confirmation.

November 19, 2021

Today’s Events: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good:

The House passed President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act by 220-213 on its way to an uncertain future in the Senate. Seniors will benefit because Medicare can negotiate lower prices for some medications, saving Medicare $262 billion, and they will have coverage for new hearing aids every five years. Seniors and people with disabilities can also have more home healthcare services, and the bill increases wages and benefits for caregivers.

Drug prices are skyrocketing. Part of the $21.70 increase in Medicare comes from the $10 additional cost from the high price of the new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, $56,000 a year per patient. People in the U.S. pay almost three times as much for drugs as they would in dozens of other countries. Although critics express concern about less research and development of new drugs, pharmaceutical companies use billions of taxpayer dollars for R&D and spend more on advertising than on R&D. The drug industry is now flooding the media with ads claiming people with serious illnesses can’t get vital medications. Yet 93 percent of people—90 percent of Republicans—believe lowered prices won’t damage the ability to develop drugs.

Other benefits of the bill include free universal preschool for children ages three and four, gives four weeks of family leave (still much shorter than in most of the world), addresses climate change, and increases Pell grants for college tuition. Costs will be covered by increased corporate taxes and IRS enforcement. Other provisions include affordable housing investments and a cap of child care at seven percent of income. (Amounts above are for ten years, not one.)

Maine’s Jared Golden was the only “nay” vote; all Republican representatives voted against the bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill will cost about $1.7 trillion in the next decade, $170 billion a year. Funding for IRS reinforcement will decrease the deficit $127 billion by 2031. Lawmakers applauded the bill’s passage, clapping for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and chanting “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy.”

The Bad:

In opposition to the bill, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) spoke—frequently slowly—for eight hours and 28 minutes, the longest continuous speech in the House for over 110 years. His statements, sometimes rambling and incoherent, failed to mention the pandemic except for his perception that China was at fault. Yet he complained about such issues as reasonable costs for insulin, vital to save diabetics’ lives.

McCarthy’s delay means that the vote happened during the day, in much better media time, instead of late in the evening. He claimed he was “talking to the American people.” McCarthy assured “the American people” he would “always fight for you, fight for your family” while he is fighting for higher drug prices, no paid leave, greater housing costs, less health care, higher costs for education and child care, etc. Instead, he talked about Reagan’s missile defense initiative, his friend Elon Musk, and other non sequiturs in addition to a long detour into the painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware River which hangs in his office.  Although he criticized China, he praised the country, saying China wouldn’t force payment of taxes as Democrats did in the BBB bill.

McCarthy was briefly silenced during the speech. When he declared, “Nobody elected Joe Biden to be FDR,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called out, “I did!” Another person said, “Me too.”

When McCarthy finished at 5:04 am (EST) on Friday morning, he yielded the floor to Pelosi who had left the chamber several hours earlier. A few sleepy Republicans applauded his endurance.

McCarthy’s only accomplishment with his speech was to delay the vote a few hours, but he’s working hard to show he deserves to be Speaker if Republicans take over the House in 2022. Mark Meadows, former chief of staff for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is advocating DDT for that position; the Speaker doesn’t need to be an elected representative. DDT called the idea “very interesting.” He has already made clear that McCarthy hasn’t been his loyal supporter, especially after McCarthy said immediately after January 6 that DDT “bears responsibility” for the insurrection. (McCarthy spent the next nine months trying to walk back that statement.) DDT has repeatedly indicated that GOP leaders aren’t fighting the Democrats. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) praised McCarthy after the speech for his “fight.”

On Steve Bannon’s radio show, however, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) blamed Republicans for the passage of BBB in the House because 13 of them helped pass the earlier infrastructure bill that has now become law. Gaetz described McCarthy’s speech as “a really long death rattle. The outcome was already determined as a consequence of poor leadership and poor strategy.”

House rules permit leaders to talk as long as they want when they are recognized for one minute of floor time. In 2018, Pelosi talked for over eight hours about the Dreamers bill for young undocumented immigrants. Ocasio-Cortez said if McCarthy “wanted to outdo [Pelosi], he should’ve done it in stilettos.”

The Ugly:

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, walked free of any charges after illegally obtaining an AR-15-style rifle, crossing state lines, and searching for protesters in Kenosha (WI) with militia members when he was only 17. He killed two men, wounded another, and endangered two more in a claim of “self-defense.” Rittenhouse escaped counts of not only two charges of homicide and one of attempted homicide but also two of reckless endangerment for shooting at others, including a videographer.

Supporters, most of them encouraged by conservative media and social media, raised Rittenhouse’s $2 million bail soon after he was indicted. When out of jail, he was seen drinking in a bar and flashing white power signs while being “loudly serenaded” with the Proud Boys anthem. He also moved from one home to another without notifying the court. The bail was provided by hundreds of supporters responding to conservative news sites and social media, as well as from gun activists.

A question about his exoneration is what part the judge, highly sympathetic to Rittenhouse, and the even more supportive conservative media played in the “not guilty” verdict on all counts. The verdict cannot be appealed; it’s a done deal The judge has consistently appeared friendly to Rittenhouse and his defense while critical of the prosecution. After the reading of the verdict, the judge said he “couldn’t have asked for a better jury to work with.”

Rittenhouse escaped counts of not only two charges of homicide and one of attempted homicide but also two of reckless endangerment for shooting at others, including a videographer.

Rittenhouse claimed he was a trained EMT; he wasn’t. As a vigilante, he searched for people hostile to him and his militia group, claiming he was offering medical attention. His only prior experience with the rifle was firing 30 rounds during a weekend before heading to Kenosha. Prosecutors said that Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim was invalid because his use of deadly force was unreasonable.

Rittenhouse has jobs waiting for him: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), under investigation for sex trafficking and other crimes, has offered the killer a congressional internship as has Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), censured by the House this past week for his anime cartoon threatening to kill Ocasio-Cortez and draw swords on Biden. Gosar tweeted he would “arm wrestle” Rep. Matt Gaetz in order to “get dibs for Kyle as an intern.” Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) offered an internship to Rittenhouse on Instagram and is using the verdict to celebrate with guns. He stated, “Be armed, be dangerous, and be moral.” [Right: What a congressional intern looks like.] 

DDT used the verdict in his fund-raising email, praising the acquittal and claiming the trial was “nothing more than a WITCH HUNT from the Radical Left” who “want to PUNISH law-abiding citizens, including a CHILD, like Kyle Rittenhouse, for doing nothing more than following the LAW.”

People can expect more worship of Rittenhouse. Fox network’s host Tucker Carlson sent a film crew to shoot footage for a documentary and plans to interview Rittenhouse next week.

The verdict announcement in favor of racist vigilantism lacked any surprise, even from those opposing Rittenhouse’s actions. He could, however, face federal charges for crossing state lines with the rifle. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has called on DOJ to investigate the possibility.

And More Ugly: 

Thanks to DDT’s General Postmaster Louis DeJoy, who tried to block mail-in voting by horrible USPS delivery service, shipping will temporarily cost more for the holiday season between From October 3, and midnight Christmas Day, supposedly to cover “extra costs.” Prices go between $0.75 for flat rate boxes and envelopes to $5 more for packages as large as 70 pounds. Last year, the USPS raised costs for commercial customers; this year’s increase is for everyone.

DeJoy’s time in control of the postal service may be short-lived. Biden will not nominate Ron Bloom, the Democrat running the USPS board and DDT-supporter John Barger, for another term after their current ones expire on December 8, 2021. Bloom was surprised he was not re-nominated. The Senate must confirm Biden’s two nominees. When Barger’s and Bloom’s terms expires, the remaining seven board members will have three Biden-appointed members; one of DDT’s four appointments is a Democrat.  

September 15, 2021

Judicial Partisan Hacks, Gavin Newsom’s Win, ‘Peril’

Yesterday, I finished my blog post with a column from Eugene Robinson about the claim from Justice Amy Coney Barrett that the Supreme Court justices are not “partisan hacks.” (Note that she appeared with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) at the White House as soon as she was confirmed.) Former conservative Republican Jennifer Rubin has more to say about Barrett’s protests. As Rubin wrote: 

“The declaration [that ‘this court is not composed of a bunch of partisan hacks’] might be a tad more credible if she had not chosen to appear in an overtly political setting. University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck tells me: ‘I’m hard-pressed to imagine a worse place to give a speech about the court not being partisan than . . . at an event in which she was introduced by Senator [Mitch] McConnell. It’s either remarkably tone-deaf or it’s deliberate. Neither is encouraging.’”

Rubin explains Barrett was selected by “a president who pledged to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and was picked from a list of judges vetted by antiabortion advocates.” She gave evidence of Barrett’s “extreme antiabortion advocacy” during confirmation hearings, and her defense of “judicial philosophies” doesn’t hold water if it is consistently favorable to the extremists in a specific political party. In defending the far-right decisions of her court in the dark of night, Barrett ‘fails to grapple with the fact that the court’s decision-making has skewed sharply to the right based solely on a change in personnel, as evidenced by the profoundly flawed decision issued last term gutting a key provision of the Voting Rights Act,’ according to constitutional scholar Joshua Matz.

As Rubin points out, conservative justices “tutored in Federalist Society buzzwords such as ‘judicial restraint’ (except for example, when rewriting the Voting Rights Act) … have latched onto a brand of jurisprudence in which the only ‘legitimate’ method of interpretation is time-traveling to the 18th century, often neatly bypassing the post-Civil War amendments that federalized rights.” They have elevated rights such as religions freedom and gun ownership while “diminishing others (e.g., those guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.” Rubin compares the accordion-like expansion of executive power for GOP presidents and contractions for Democratic presidents. I think that fits the description of “partisan hacks.”

Approval for the Supreme Court has dropped to an all-time low at 37 percent, dropping from 52 percent a year ago before she joined the court. Fifty percent expressed disapproval, up from 37 percent a year ago.

While recently confirmed justices move the U.S. to the far-right, California confirmed its state’s democracy in yesterday’s recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom that cost taxpayers over $300 million. With 74 percent of the vote counted, Newsom beat the recall by almost 64 percent—two percent higher than when he won his position in 2018. QAnon conspiracy theorist and major opponent Larry Elder, the Trumpiest of 46 candidates, would have removed mask and vaccine mandates, minimum wage, and abortion access, according to his campaigning which was also marked by racism and sexism.

With polling highly favorable for Newsom before Election Day, Republicans, Elder, and DDT began their evidence-free hue and cry about a rigged election. Reality had no part in their claims: in California, the GOP has 24 percent of registered voters, about half the 46.5 percent of registered Democrats. And the question is how many Republicans would have turned out on Election Day if they believe the system is rigged.   

Transgender candidate Caitlyn Jenner added to the lack of reality among Republicans. With one percent of the total, about 56,000 votes, she snarked, “You kind of get the government you deserve.” In California, that’s right. During her campaign, Jenner complained about seeing homeless people on her way to her private airplane hangar, lied about not voting last year, insulted other trans people and opposed trans rights, didn’t show up to some media appearances, and flew to Australia to appear in a reality show.

Senior editor at the LA Times, David Lauter, ran his piece with the title “Trump Still Wins Elections—for Democrats.” Other governor candidates are using the same anti-DDT techniques as Newsom, Terry McAuliffe opposing wealthy private-equity executive Glenn Youngkin in Virginia and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy opposing businessman and former state lawmaker Jack Ciatarelli. Although 63 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents want DDT to lead the party, only 49 percent think he should be a presidential candidate in 2024. Supporting DDT means losing centrist voters, and criticizing DDT means losing his base.

Vaccination may be the prime issue this coming year: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is lying about vaccines changing human RNA, and DDT himself was booed for suggesting people getting vaccinated, important to keep GOP voters alive. The number of daily deaths is dropping to a daily average of 1,000 in the U.S., but the vast majority of deaths are in the unvaccinated, a majority of them Republicans.

A new book from Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, Peril,  may be part of disillusioning more unaffiliated voters about DDT. One huge story from the two authors is about Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley, who was so concerned about DDT’s stability after the loss of the presidential election that Milley called his counterpart in China Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army, to tell him the US. would not strike and worked to protect the military from DDT’s unpredictable actions. Questions about that report may appear during Milley’s hearing before the Senate Armed Forces Committee on September 28.

Philip Bump described the problem about DDT’s exerting every power he could find to fight the terror of being viewed as a loser. Part of DDT’s self-perceived power was trying to convince VP Mike Pence that he could stop the electoral vote counting to overturn the voters’ will. DDT told Pence if he didn’t follow this request, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.” Pence even called former VP Dan Quayle to find out how he could follow DDT’s orders, but Quayle told him he couldn’t do it. To think that Quayle, often known as a joke, saved democracy!

Failing to bully Pence, DDT became “all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies,” according to the book’s account. Milley told senior military officials not to take orders from anyone unless he was involved. 

Based on over 200 interviews with participants and witnesses for DDT’s last days in the White House, Peril includes a transcript of a telephone call between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Milley about the possible danger of nuclear war because DDT controlled the weapons. About DDT, Pelosi said, “He’s been crazy for a long time.” Milley told Pelosi he agreed with her “on everything.” That’s when Milley told his top service chiefs to watch everything “all the time.” Addressing the problem of Milley possibly overstepping his authority, the authors wrote:

“Milley was overseeing the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world … and believed his actions were ‘a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.’”

Milley had good reason for his fear. Immediately after the 2020 election, DDT secretly drew up a memo drafted by two of his loyalists to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021, while he was still in the White House. No one on the national security team knew about the memo, and it was nullified. Yet Milley had no idea what else DDT would do in secret. The book I Alone Can Fix It (Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig) reported that Gina Haspel, CIA director when DDT refused to concede the election, worried he would attack Iran in a right-wing coup because he was “acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum.”

Although DDT was ready to concede the election on November 4, phone calls to loyalists such as Rudy Giuliani convinced him he could follow through with the conspiracy theory of election fraud, ignoring its lies and damages to democracy. Former adviser Steve Bannon persuaded DDT to return to the White House for January 6 and “fucking bury [Biden].”

Tucker Carlson may have gone over the edge with his conspiracy theories on Fox network. Anti-vaxxer and hip-hop star Nicki Minaj claimed the testicles of her cousin’s friend became swollen after being vaccinated; Carlson said on his show that he wants to see the man’s balls. In response, author Kurt Eichenwald explained that the two primary causes of this condition, called hydrocele, “are injury or STD (chlamydia or gonorrhea)… He needs an MD, stat.” Carlson started out by thinking the cousin’s testicles were swollen, and his show ran this chyron: “NICKI MINAJ: COUSIN’S TESTICLES BECAME SWOLLEN.” Despite looking like a fool, Carlson is still pursuing the case, asking the man to tell Carlson his story.

At least Carlson admitted he lies on his show when he “feels cornered or something”—which seems most of the time. He made his confession during an interview with conservative media host Dave Rubin after Rubin asked how CNN employees such as Chris Cuomo and Brian Stelter “live with themselves” after they constantly tell lies that the internet exposes. Yet Carlson tried to distinguish between his lies and those from the CNN anchors, saying he lies “to protect the system because I really believe in the system.”

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