Nel's New Day

January 2, 2023

Politics in 2023

Ukraine started 2023 by shooting down 45 Iranian-made Sahed drones fired by Russia and attacked the occupied Donetsk region, hitting a building in Makiivka where Russian ammunition was stored. Foreign conflicts will form challenges as autocrats try to destroy democracies: China’s military drills around Taiwan, Iran’s support of Russia, North Korea’s missiles, the Taliban’s draconian rule in Afghanistan, gang takeover in Haiti, and ISIS franchises spreading throughout Africa. About half the world’s democracies are in decline, and societies growing polarized don’t trust elections.

While the U.S. worries about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons, his invasion strengthened NATO, an alliance of 30 nations. In Iran, young women, even teenagers, have mobilized protests for a 22-year-old woman dead because she didn’t cover her hair, the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is old and sick.

In the U.S. the GOP, with a weak majority of five in the House but still not controlling the Senate, is highly polarized between the different factions from the ultra-conservative QAnon believers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to the bipartisan group with Democrats. The leadership’s agenda, as displayed by the GOP majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) pretends to help “hardworking families” but only blocks abortion, release of gas from emergency reserves, and immigration. Their obsessions focus on Hunter Biden’s laptop, a replace for Hillary Clinton’s emails which went nowhere, and impeaching any Democrats who offended any Republicans.  

In wooing voters for the Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has made more promises such as removing metal checks to enter the chamber, allowing guns to be smuggled inside, and create select committees on a wide number of subjects from the source of Covid to “the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Covid topics also include “the impact of school closures on American children” and the development of vaccines and corresponding federal mandates. House Republicans want to remove the IRS of additional sources provided by Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, providing safety for the wealthy to not be audited for tax fraud. Other goals are legislation to zero out a government official’s salary, cut specific government programs, and fire specific federal employees.

On Day One, the Republicans plan to remove the right for congressional staffers to unionize. New House leaders have ignored the Congressional Accountability Act requiring legislation to remove implemented rights. Another GOP aim is to gut the independent, nonpartisan House ethics office established 15 years ago to review misconduct allegations against chamber members and their staffers. Representatives benefitting from this action include McCarthy, Jim Jordan (OH), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (TX) who ignored subpoenas from the House January 6 investigative committee.

Newly-elected New York representative George Santos, who already expanded the party’s scandals, could benefit most from the loss of the ethics committee. Within the past weeks, Santos’ news leaking daily shows that almost everything he ran on was a lie—his schooling, work history, religion, mother’s death, etc. Brazilian authorities may charge him for using a stolen checkbook and false name to make purchases in the country, and the sources of his finances are being investigated. Santos also faces investigations from federal prosecutors in New York, New York’s AG’s office, the Nassau County DA’s office, and the Queens DA office. Several Santos’ campaign disbursements were for $199.99, a penny under the requirement for receipts.

Santos’ problems might have been kept under wraps if the current time had distracting news, as happened before the election. Now, the media wants to know how his income changed from $55,000 in 2020 to $1 million to $5 million in 2022 as reported by his campaign filings. Another mystery is where he got the $700,000 he lent his campaign. His almost $100,000 expenditures for campaigning in his urban district of 254.8 square miles also raised questions. Even Santos’ ex-boyfriend said that the elected representative is lying and that the boyfriend had to pay Santos’ bills. Santos never went to work, according to the boyfriend.

GOP House members are staying silent because Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) badly needs Santos’ vote for his losing campaign to become Speaker of the House. (The election is on January 3, and the House cannot operate until a Speaker is elected.) Santos also represents a swing district in a blue state where a reelection could change the Republicans’ majority to four in the House. The Republicans say that Santos deserves a “second chance.” This philosophy means that the GOP will support any potentially criminal or morally decrepit representative to retain control.

More polarity between GOP factions came from anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for supporting the $1.7 trillion spending package instead of closing down the government or blocking a vote on the budget until 2023. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blames McConnell for the GOP failure in the 2022 midterms because of McConnell’s “terrible” record. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) also condemns McCarthy to avoid accepting blame for the poor quality of candidates DDT selected.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel may not be back for a fourth term after the failures of the past three electoral terms. Election conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell wants the job and said he is calling all 168 RNC committee members. He said he is investigating how Ron DeSantis won Dade County in Florida “because it’s a deviation.” Lindell said. He blames all the problems on the voting machines. “They gotta go,” he said.

Issues for 2023:

Selection and Retention of House Speaker: This is a huge problem with the slim majority of five Republicans. More later.

Control of the House GOP, Extremes or Moderates: The far-right Freedom Caucus has 30-40 members; moderate Republican Governance Group, over 40 members; and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, about 100 members. The remaining 100+ members are in the more moderate New Democrat Coalition and “centrist” leaning right Blue Dog Coalition, and dozens are in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus with equal numbers from each political party.

Raising the Debt Limit: After increasing the debt limit over 100 times, the House conservatives are threatening to refuse this year to blame the Democrats’ spending, despite the $7.8 trillion that DDT added to the debt. Some Republicans want to reduce “entitlement” (Social Security and Medicare funding among others) in exchange for the debt ceiling increase.

Accomplishments in Divided Government: Must pass legislation—the coming year’s annual appropriations, defense authorization, Farm Bill, and Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization—will get through, hopefully without a government shutdown. A fix to a possible recession could be addition to the Child Tax Credit in exchange for business tax breaks giving companies more tax breaks.

A Shift of Leadership at the Federal Reserve: Not likely. Jerome Powell is determined to drop inflation to two percent although some believe he’s using the wrong process to do it.

Biden’s Run for Reelection: His second-year successes, including the lack of Republicans elected during the 2022 midterms for both state and national offices, may calm Democrats. No one hates Biden except for rabid Republicans who hate all Democrats, unlike the response to DDT, another potential president candidate in 2024. Even if DDT loses the primary, he’s still regarded as the GOP leader.

Ron DeSantis’ Run for Election: Every vile action the Florida governor has taken as pointed toward a DDT-esque push toward candidacy and desire to lead the MAGAs. DDT has threatened to leave the GOP if it doesn’t choose him for the presidential candidate.

DDT’s Possible Indictment: If the DOJ’s investigator, Jack Smith, comes through as special counsel probing DDT’s part in theft of classified documents and the January 6 insurrection, a prosecution may throw the 2024 elections in extreme flux. Most congressional Republicans have publicly defended DDT, creating problems for non-DDT candidates and disturbing the possibility of moderate Republicans to run for congressional positions. This led to a GOP majority of only five House members after the 2022 elections instead of the customary practice of the president’s opposing party adding tens of additional members from midterms. DDT also faces a criminal investigation in Georgia which could present the biggest charges after he tried to overturn the state’s election in 2020.

Judicial Response to Biden’s Administrative Agenda: The power of businesses and the number of DDT/GOP judges may block control on tech mergers and acquisitions, surveillance and data security, and classification of workers as employees instead of independent contractors.

The U.S.-China Relationship: Republicans will focus on China more than Ukraine with their desire to opposed authoritarianism in other countries, especially China. Biden has already started export controls of advanced computing chips and semiconductors, and both parties want him to expand the export control list as well as screening China’s outbound investments, preventing China from access to U.S. user data from TikTok, and changing DDT’s tariffs on China. The less conservative goal is commercial ties with China in industries not posing concerns to national security.

After the GOP turned two governors over to the Democrats in 2022, three Southern states will elect governors in 2023: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Two are Democrats, and Mississippi’s Tate Reeves is a Republican. That party is a shoe-in for Mississippi’s governor. Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards is term-limited, and Republicans are lining up to take the position. Andy Beshear (Kentucky), who has high support, will likely run again.

Public knowledge of DDT’s tax returns may increase his liability, especially after he has shown himself to not be successful in business endeavors despite his claims to the contrary. The documents show his heavy losses except for his inherited assets and his fraudulent endeavors. He paid little in taxes, didn’t donate his salary in 2020 as he promised, and brought in $78 million of revenue from 16 foreign countries including $6.5 million from China. DDT paid more in foreign taxes than in the U.S. but told moderator Chris Wallace during the first 2020 presidential campaign that he paid millions of dollars during his first term. (The exchange is here.) With only one person beginning an audit of DDT’s taxes in 2019, violating the U.S. mandate that a president’s taxes be audited every year, his returns show the inequity of the U.S. tax code.   

And the direction of the Supreme Court may create chaos. But that’s a very long story. Meanwhile, there is room for optimism in 2023 unless the Republicans climb out of chaos, which is unlikely because they are so full of hate that they could destroy themselves.

September 17, 2022

Railroading – Unions, Migrants

The question about the media is when it will start giving President Joe Biden credit for his successes. Averting a catastrophic railroad strike, evenly temporarily, would be a nice way for them to begin. A disaster for the precarious supply chair had already been predicted when a tentative deal was struck with workers, both sides crediting Biden’s administration for the potential success. Constant lobbying for a settlement for the past several weeks argued that the stakes were too high to carry through with the dispute. The strike was put off until two unions with about 60,000 members count their votes, possibly in mid-October. The other unions have already agreed to a deal.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh led 20 hours of talks in the final stretch, and Biden called into the negotiations 27 hours before the strike deadline to argue against the railways’ shutdown, a “crucial” call according to one source. He had frequently called the on both sides. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were also involved in negotiations.

The strike would have halted transport of grain, fuel, lumber, car parts and other key products—about 30 percent of hauling in the U.S. Congress could have blocked the strike, but a majority vote of pro-union Democrats and recalcitrant Republicans intent on winning the Midterms. This resolution would also hurt labor-friendly Biden. Fox business hosts seemed disturbed that Biden “expressed concern for the workers and their families, not really for the rail companies.”

The tentative deal includes voluntarily assigned days off for workers, an additional paid day off, increases to health care copays and deductibles, protections for two-person crews, and 24 percent raises over five years. The union must ratify the agreement before it goes into effect. The deal helps the U.S. economy and blocks a supply chain crisis.

Freight-rail workers haven’t walked off for 30 years since George H.W. Bush was president. Forty railroads suspended operations, and almost all freight-rail traffic and passenger rail service halted before Congress imposed a settlement. This time 125,000 freight-rail employees are involved, and their strike would make a daily $2 billion hit to the economy. By now, roads has seven major carriers with skyrocketing revenues. The top two gained about 12 percent in 2021, $21.8 billion and $22.5 billion. Freight-rail companies cut 40,000 employees from November 2018 to December 2020 by creating extremely tight schedules, leaving no time for employees to call in sick or go to medical appointments.  

Thirty years ago, then Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) voted against forcing railroad employees to return to work. He said the presidential emergency board was stacked in favor of railroad executives. Now that he’s doing the heavy lifting, the Wall Street Journal editorial board slammed him

“You’d think some $5 trillion in new spending by this Congress, much of which will fatten union bottom lines, would be enough to buy some labor peace. If not, Democrats on Capitol Hill have the power to impose another cooling off period so the two sides can negotiate without a strike. Let’s see if Democrats side with their Big Labor allies, or with the U.S. economy that needs the trains to run on time.”

Biden’s comment? “The trains are running on time.”

 WSJ might want to look at its own union problems. Since the onslaught of COVID, workers have worked remotely except for two days a week. The newspaper now mandates they come into the office at least three days a week, starting November 1, and senior editors and managers were ordered to be in the office full time. The WSJ editor-in-chief told staff that they do their best work while being together physically, but the union director responded that “this company has been very, very successful for the past two plus years.”

Of 40 employees contacting the union about the new requirement, 80 percent were opposed to the additional day per week in the office because of childcare, health and safety from the continuing COVID threat, and the noise of the newsroom. Some staff are also asking for raises to combat inflation. WSJ has only a one-year contract with employees. Readers will see if the newspaper will “run on time.”

Biden’s approval rating jumped to 45 percent from 36 percent in July—and that poll was before the railroads’ tentative agreement. Gas prices dropped 26 percent since June, and many GOP members are unhappy with Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) proposal of a nation-side anti-abortion law.

The latest ploy to get reelected—maybe picked for president—is to send migrants north, without notice and as political pawns. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott paid $12 million, about $1,200 per person, to bus 10,000 migrants north, most recently to VP Kamala Harris’ residence. Two of them had to be hospitalized, one from diabetic shock and the other a baby experiencing health issues. Arizona also bused migrants to Washington, D.C. costing the state $3 million in three months.

Not to be outdone, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew 50 migrants, mostly escaping from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard. The migrants didn’t know where they were until they landed but thought it would be different destinations. Telling the migrants they were going to Boston, a woman who called herself Perla lured them lured onto the planes with the promise of work, housing, and a surprise gift. The planes dumped them at the airport, and they walked two miles to the Community Center after having no food of water all day.

DeSantis proudly took credit after their landing through his spokesperson. He sent a videographer with the migrants and provided exclusive footage for the Fox network. The greatest oddity is that migrants flown with Florida funding started in San Antonio (TX). DeSantis funding for the two charter planes came from $12 million of federal COVID relief monies that Florida set aside to provide “the transport of unauthorized aliens from the state.” States have no restriction on the use of interest from the federal pandemic money. 

Needlessly cruel, these publicity stunts may also be illegal, “designed to prevent [migrants] from complying with federal immigration policies.” Even the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rejected similar deportations recommended by DDT’s adviser Stephen Miller because of liability concerns. States cannot legally transport migrants not in custody without voluntary and informed consent, and the governors’ actions smack of human trafficking. A state cannot make the decision to move immigration cases from one jurisdiction to another.

Massachusetts officials could charge Texas state officials for fraud or even kidnapping. Migrants might be able to sue DeSantis and his participants in the scheme, resulting in the payment of millions to asylum seekers, as families separated at the border by DDT’s administration are doing. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has already asked the DOJ to investigate federal law violations in these cases.

An Episcopal priest in Martha’s Vineyard said that all migrants sent from San Antonio are individually meeting with lawyers to preserve their rights. The deportation scheme is intended to anger people where migrants are sent, but residents of Martha’s Vineyard mobilized to help them with their needs. Some migrants have been voluntarily transported to Joint Base Cape Cod, a military training facility, for shelter, food, needs assessment, and healthcare access.

Many of the “deported” migrants to northern cities are asylum seekers, legally in the U.S. awaiting the courts’ decisions. A Boston immigration attorney discovered that DHS had registered cases for migrants in Texas to mailing addresses in random homeless shelters across the U.S. Migrants must check in at the office closest to their registered address, some as early as Monday, or risk deportation.

Sixty years ago, Southern White segregationists coerced Blacks into being shipped to the North with promises of work and housing, some of them to Martha’s Vineyard. The 1962 Reverse Freedom Rides were in retaliation for Black and White volunteers riding buses throughout the South in 1961 to support desegregation. In Arkansas, Citizens’ Councils recruited men with criminal records and single mothers with multiple children. One woman was dropped off in Hyannis with her nine children and was told John F. Kennedy would greet her. She took almost nothing for the trip because she was promised all her needs would be provided to them on their arrival.

Then, as now, local committees were formed to provide housing, clothing, and money for the new arrivals. Even “moderate” segregationists were disgusted by the “cynical manipulation” of the poor Blacks, and a New Orleans radio/TV station called the campaign “sick sensationalism bordering on the moronic.” The 1962 transports stopped with 200 people, compared with the 10,000+ migrants sent by three governors in the past year. Sixty years ago, private people funded the deportation; now the money comes from taxpayers.

Lawyers from the DOJ and the Homeland Security Department are considering litigation options regarding the movement of migrants out of state by GOP governors.

September 5, 2022

DDT’s ‘Special Master,’ Biden’s Wins on Labor Day 2022

The Florida judge appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ruled in favor of appointing a third party attorney “special master” from outside the government to review his documents, an act that DDT’s former AG Bill Barr called a “crock of s**t.” Her rulings:

  • The FBI must stop examining the documents until after the review or another court order.
  • The classification review and intelligence assessments conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence may continue.
  • Both sides have until September 9 to nominate candidates and duties.
  • The review is reviewing “seized property for … claims of attorney-client and/or executive privilege.”
  • DDT hasn’t proved his “constitutional rights” were disregarded.
  • The FBI had obtained DDT’s medical and tax information.

DDT responded to the court ruling by writing that the FBI and DOJ should “change the results of the 2020 Presidential Election.” Heather Cox Richardson has an excellent analysis of the flaws in the judicial decision.

On to the good news for Labor Day 2022, “a celebration of workers and of their dignity,” according to Eugene Robinson. We’ve come a long way in the past decade since Paul Ryan, then House Majority Leader and vice-presidential candidate, gave a speech on how Labor Day celebrated business management and CEOs because business owners were the only Americans working hard and taking risks to make “this country grow.” He went on to lose, become House Speaker, and  turn into a professional board member for several companies, including Fox.

Union organizers at a Staten Island warehouse defeated Amazon in its attempt to overturn the employee vote at a federal labor board hearing. Employees’ decisive vote last April created the first unionized Amazon facility in the U.S. Amazon claimed fraud by organizers and the agency overseeing the election. The company even failed to make the hearing secret. It will appeal with September 16 the deadline to file exceptions. Amazon will likely take the case into federal court, a practice to thwart labor victories.

At Google, a 300,000-member union of hotel and food service workers has helped unionize 90 percent of food service workers in 23 of the company’s cafeterias proving free food for programmers and product managers. Last week, workers moved into Atlanta where workers presented managers at Sodexo with plans to unionize and gained an agreement that a majority vote would rule. Tens of thousands more workers voted to join unions in the first half 2022 than the same time period in 2021. For the first time, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s and the recreation equipment maker REI have unionized from concerns about safety and low wages along with 230 Starbucks locations and Apple Store.

Google in North Carolina may have the next union after workers protest the company dropping their salaries. With $257.6 billion in revenue during 2021, Google’s profits rose 41 percent from 2020. Google said it’s move to the South was for diversity, but that area has the lowest salaries in the nation.

Unions won more representation elections in 2022 than they have in nearly 20 years, going from a slightly above 50 percent win rate in 2000 to 76.6 percent thus far this year. [visual – union win rate]

Republicans won’t admit that Biden’s economy has rapidly recovered from the COVID devastation, regaining all net private sector jobs lost from the pandemic since his inauguration. Yet the 9 million jobs he added in his first 17 months was the highest number for any president in that time. Without Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) the unemployment would have been seven percent in summer 2021 and stay higher after that instead of sliding to 5.4 percent and then shrinking to 3.5 percent a year later.

Despite GOP spreading fears of a recession, the International Monetary Fund predicts the U.S. can “narrowly avoid a recession” in 2022 and 2023, and net domestic investment is at an all-time high. New manufacturing facilities construction is up 116 percent over last year as more companies move supply chains back to the U.S. from foreign countries. June 2022 manufacturing jobs exceeded those in February 2020.

To combat inflation, gas prices have dropped about 25 percent from a high of $5 in some places. Freight shipping costs have decreased along with shipping container costs reducing by half and transit times by 35 percent. The past month have seen prices for raw materials such as wheat, corn, and copper trending downward.

August gained 315,000 jobs, totaling 3.5 million new jobs for the year; the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 percent because 786,000 new people entered the workforce. Last month, the share of adults in the workforce jumped from 62.1 percent in July to 62.4 percent, and the 82.8 percent of people aged 25-54 in the workforce was slightly below pre-pandemic levels. Average wages were up 5.2 percent from a year ago.

ARPA assistance with the expanded child tax credit in 2021 took 3.7 million children out of poverty. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blocked its continuance in the Inflation Reduction Act, but another possibility for tax credits at the end of the year during negotiations for extensions on expiring business tax breaks. The overturn of Roe v. Wade has also encouraged more relief for family benefits with three Republican senators introducing a proposal for credit although it has a work requirement for parents.  In addition, 29 states have programs to compensate for the lack of federal child credits with an additional three next year.

While the attention was largely focused on DDT since Joe Biden was inaugurated, the new president has been on a roll. He came into the presidency with three major goals—investing in the U.S. unraveling infrastructure, taking action against climate change, and expanding the social safety net.

For the past few months, Biden has had other successes—helping average people instead of the GOP focus on special interests. He took out the top al-Qaeda leader, put the first Black female justice on the Supreme Court, expanded NATO by unifying European support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, and passed the first gun reform law in almost 30 years.

During his first 17 months, Biden’s accomplishments echo themes and priorities from the major initiatives of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Ronald Reagan. He signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the American Rescue Plan, the infrastructure law, the gun law, the Chips law, the PACT burn pits act, and the anti-Asian hate crimes as well as updating and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. In addition, Biden addressed climate change, offshore wind projects, and mitigation funds for drought, wildfire, and flooding. And he reduced the federal budget deficit, required publicly traded corporations to pay a modest one-percent excise tax on stock buy-backs, required corporations with over $1 billion in earnings to pay a minimum 15 percent income tax, and greatly eased student loan debt

Biden came into the presidency with three major goals—investing in the U.S. unraveling infrastructure, taking action against climate change, and expanding the social safety net. Republicans minimized Biden’s November 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) but took credit for it with their constituents after they voted against it. The joke during the term of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was “it’s infrastructure week,” every week, but DDT failed to accomplish in that area. Biden ‘s bill invests $1.2 trillion into U.S. infrastructure: surface transportation, public transit and rail, water, and broadband internet infrastructure. It also invests in renewable energy and electric vehicles. And supports over 770,000 jobs in during the next decade.  

Two Democratic senators blocked another major bill for several months and reduced its amount, but Congress passed the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act last month. It reduces energy, health care, and prescription drug costs for American families; invests $370 billion over a decade for clean energy and climate programs; and allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices and reduce Medicare out-of-pocket costs for drugs. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, once Sen Manchin (D-WV) renamed it and gained a few personal perks. U.S. production of crude oil during Biden’s first year was higher than in DDT’s first year, and he issued more drilling permits on federal land than DDT did in his first three years.

The Economic Policy Institute also has a detailed view of Biden’s work for low- and middle-income families in his work to address equity and racial justice through over 90 agencies, a director of racial equity, and $738 million to minority-owned businesses. He also rescinded DDT’s punitive orders against equity. The article also lists how Biden rescinded DDT’s punitive orders to block achievements for anyone except wealthy white people. Xenophobic policies in the workplace during DDT’s term allowed employees to cheat workers out of wages and force them into sub-standard work conditions. Biden also strengthened protections for collective bargaining, due process, and labor representatives that DDT had weakened. 

Biden’s wins are almost as long as crimes by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) whose only domestic policy change was a tax cut for the wealthy and big business that increased the national debt, skyrocketing by $7.8 trillion during DDTD’s four years. Republicans complain about inflation, but they have blocked ways to block it and support corporations raising prices sky high to make profits. Congressional GOP members voted against negotiating drug prices, putting a $35 a month cap on insulin cost, investigating high gas prices while the industry makes huge profits, etc. 

And on Labor Day 2022, unions are coming back.

September 1, 2022

News Bits – September 1, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 26, 2022

The Faces of the GOP

The weekend focus on France’s election against Hitler/Russia lover Marine Le Pen for the next five-year presidential term glossed over another important European election. Melania Trump’s birthplace, Slovenia, ousted Prime Minister Janez Janša, the autocratic friend of recently elected Viktor Orbán for prime minister who wishes to remove democracy for Hungary. Robert Golob launched the Freedom Movement in January for a “referendum on democracy” and “take the country back to freedom.” Janša continually insisted that Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) won the 2020 presidential election. East of northern Italy, Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until become independent in 1991.

In the U.S., the pretended ignorance of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in a hearing about her part in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was followed by CNN’s revelation of 2,319 texts starting on November 3, 2020, Election Day, submitted by former chief of staff Mark Meadows before he decided not to participate in the House investigation committee. Meadows concealed at least 1,000 more texts, many of them from December 9-20, perhaps thinking these were more benign.

Molly Olmstad summarized earlier texts:

“That Trump refused to quickly condemn the violence on Jan. 6; that Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had accused ‘Biden and the Left’ of ‘attempting the greatest Heist of our History’; that Donald Trump Jr. had developed a strategy for overturning the election even before the election was called for Biden; and that Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Rep. Chip Roy had offered Meadows a statement supporting Trump to ‘leak’ if it was ‘helpful.’”

The new texts filled in some missing pieces, including one from Greene to Meadows to tell DDT to impose martial law to stay in the White House for another term. Under oath, Greene couldn’t “recall” or “remember” this text she sent Meadows on January 17:

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall [sic] law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

DDT’s followers sometimes recommended sedition; other times they just tried to look important.

On January 9, 2021, when Twitter banned DDT, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) texted, “I truly hope he does create a new platform to complete with Twitter and I hope he calls it ‘Trumpet’ and then we can send out ‘notes’ to each other!”

Before the election, Fox’s Sean Hannity, a supposedly “impartial” reporter, wrote “Yes, sir” to Meadows and promised he would push the vote for DDT “everywhere.”

When Donald Trump Jr. begged Meadows to get his father “to condemn this shit” on January 6, he texted the chief of staff that “this is one you go to the mattresses on,” ala The Godfather.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell sent a long text about the election overturn, concluding with “God has his hand in all of this and has put you on the front line.”

The day before the insurrection, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) texted, “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all—in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence…”

A text from DDT’s adviser Jason Miller told him to lie to the public by blaming antifa for the attack.  

Former Texas governor and energy secretary Rick Perry denied he took any part in overturning the election, but the disclosed texts were from his phone—and he signed them. He urged an “AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY” for three states to deliver electoral votes for DDT although the popular vote was for Joe Biden. 

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and DDT-supporter, features in another ongoing story. First, he bought over nine percent of Twitter’s private shares and forced himself onto the board. They told him he had to own under 15 percent of shares to stay on the board and quit bad-mouthing Twitter. He didn’t like that so he dropped off. Then he offered to pay $9 over the going price for any shares but then dropped that idea. Now he may own the entire company, paying about $44 billion.

Worth about $259 billion, Musk can afford the price although he’s borrowing $23 billion because his wealth is tied up in stocks. Also, Tesla pays no federal tax on its profits. If Musk completes the deal, Twitter will no longer be a publicly-traded company and will have no board. Musk can read everyone’s tweets, even those meant to be private, and put all the MAGA hate speech back on, including that from DDT. Musk also desperately wants an edit button, allowing people to change the meaning of a tweet after it’s been shared. Facebook knows the danger of editing: its feature helped a cryptocurrency scam. 

The deal’s size requires Musk to report his purchase to the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. Experts say that there are no clear antitrust concerns because Musk is not a social media competitor, but government regulators might slow it down to review the concentration of power. A problem could be collateralizing the payment with Tesla stock, risky for banks.

With over 217 million daily users, Twitter is not as large as Facebook and Instagram with billions, but it is popular with political leaders, companies, celebrities, and others searching for image-building. Musk has used a megaphone to announce his support for free speech, but he tried to suppress a Twitter account tracking his private jet. With uncertain advertising, Twitter’s main source of revenue, Twitter has made no profit for eight of the past ten years. Employees are also concerned about compensation and benefits: the anti-union Musk moved Tesla to Texas and dared United Autoworkers to try to form a union.

Since 2017, unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Tesla at the National Labor Relations Board. In 2018, Musk tweeted workers could lose their stock options if they unionized, and workers involved in organizing activities for organizing unionizing activities. Tesla is the only U.S. auto manufacturer without a union.

Last week, a federal judge reduced a $137 million jury ruling to a $15 million payout for a racial discrimination lawsuit against Tesla. Lawyer for Owen Diaz explained to his Black client that the $15 million is the “maximum” that can be required. Diaz said a Tesla supervisor called him the N-word over 30 times. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is also suing Tesla over alleged racism and harassment of Black employees in the same factory in Fremont, “saturated with racism” according to the judge.  

Former staunch Republicans are growing more and more disenchanted with the current GOP such as columnists Jennifer Rubin, Tim Miller, Charlie Sykes, and Rick Wilson. In January, an NBC News poll found 56 percent of Republicans support the party rather than DDT with only 36 percent devoted first to DDT. In October, 54 percent of Republicans put DDT above party.

Joe Scarborough, a GOP representative from Florida for six years, fought for DDT to be elected in 2016, even going to DDT’s apartment to advise him on his campaign although he had hosted an MSNBC show for almost a decade. By August 2016, however, he wrote a WaPo op-ed, “The GOP Must Dump Trump,” and by 2017, he became so disenchanted with GOP that he changed his registration to unaffiliated. In a statement on his show last Friday morning, he said, “I was proven wrong!” Liberals were right about his former Republican Party.

“Over the past six years, the two things that have disturbed me the most have been the Right’s positions on race and my own churches, the evangelical churches’ posture towards Trumpism, and some of the things we’ve seen. I spent my entire life going on shows, going on Politically Incorrect at the time, going on HARDBALL, talking about how what Kevin Phillips and other people in the media were saying about the Republican Party and race were a lie, that the Southern strategy was an oversimplification, that my family, we were conservatives. And I explained why we were conservatives, why people in my community were conservatives.

“I was proven wrong. I was shocked by what I saw over the past five, six years. Donald Trump in the Muslim registry, Donald Trump saying Hispanics are breeders. I could go down the list talking about the others, telling people to go home, members of Congress, Black members of Congress. How could it be that people like David French and myself and other Republicans grew up saying everything that liberals said about our party was wrong when Donald Trump actually seemed to validate much of what they were accusing us of?”

The party has been poisoning itself for a half decade since Bob Dole, evangelicals, and corporations but actor Ronald Reagan into the White House. DDT is a product of the continuing hypocrisy, shamelessness, and corruption overcoming good and decent people who don’t want to see the reality of their elected politicians who rule with hatred, fear, and bigotry.

April 13, 2022

Abbott Damages Economy, GOP Beginning to Hurt

In a publicity stunt, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott put noncitizens onto buses and sent them to Washington, D.C. after President Joe Biden rescinded Title 42, DDT’s ban on refugees entering the country because of the pandemic. Less noticed, however, has been Abbott’s drastically slowing commercial traffic across the border in retaliation for Biden’s decision.

For a week, Abbott has ordered additional inspections at ports of entry to extremely thorough federal inspections. Troopers, however, can do only mechanical checks, not cargo checks. For over a week, these delays of up to several days resulted in rotting food, a supply chain crisis, and increased inflation. After extensive bipartisan criticism, Abbott backed down on the inspections at one bridge.

(Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, the third busiest land port of entry into the country, after Abbott blocked commercial traffic in and out of Texas at 13 ports of entry for unnecessary inspections.)   

 

The border averaged over 7,100 crossings daily, and Abbott now orders every truck to be inspected. Texas traffic dropped by two-thirds as importers re-rout trucks to Arizona bridges, but vegetables sent from Mexico may be spoiled by the time they arrive in the U.S. Having endorsed Abbott for his gubernatorial election, The Texas Trucking Association said that these inspections “cannot be sustained.” Texas’ GOP Agriculture Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid called the inspections a “catastrophic policy”; Mexico ships about two-thirds of the produce sold in Texas. Think Abbott if grocery shelves are empty. No one is answering questions about any discovery of migrants or drugs, the only purpose of the inspections.  [visual – Abbott border inspection]

Statement from Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the White House briefing (right: Juarez crossing): 

“Factually there is over $1 million in trade crossing over the US/Mexico border every minute. These actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hardworking people in Texas and across the country. That’s not a political statement. That is a statement of fact. I would note what we’re seeing with these unnecessary inspections of trucks, transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are significant delays which are resulting in a drop of commercial traffic of up to 60% to 70% in some ports.”

Psaki also said

“Governor Abbott’s unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains, delaying manufacturing, impacting jobs, and raising prices for families in Texas and across the country.”

Biden has signed a new order banning businesses from selling kits used to create a gun at home without serial numbers. Called “ghost guns,” about 20,000 of these were recovered by police in 2021, ten times as many as in 2016. There may be far more because many police departments don’t report them. Philadelphia police report almost a 500-percent increase in the number of recovered ghost guns during the past two years, Biden’s rule revises the federal definition of a firearm to include unfinished parts such as the frame of a handgun and the receiver of a long gun. In less than four months, these parts must be licensed and have serial numbers; manufacturers are also required to run background checks before selling them.

Federally licensed firearms dealers must also retain key records until they shut down their business or licensed activity and then transfer the records to ATF as they are currently required to do at the end of licensed activity. Formerly, dealers could destroy most records after 20 years.

 People cheered when workers at an Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse unionized, fair and square, after the company was blocking from cheating. But Amazon isn’t done: it’s filed 25 objections against the union to get a re-do and blamed the National Labor Relations Board for “inappropriate and undue influence” in a lawsuit. Amazon behavior is without reproach: it mandated workers attend anti-union propaganda and paid $3,200 per day for professional union-busters. The union fight leader, Christian Smalls, was fired in 2020 for leading a walk-out against Amazon’s lack of COVID safety precautions.

During a union fight in Bessemer (AL), the location of a voting box inside an Amazon-branded tent tainted the election, according to the NLRB. A recent re-vote has not yet been determined. The vote for a second Staten Island warehouse is scheduled on April 25. 

The House January 6 investigation committee may subpoena more documents from John Eastman, the lawyer who tried to persuade former VP Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 presidential election in favor of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). On March 16, over 16 months after Biden was elected president, Eastman and others had an almost two-hour meeting with Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos trying to persuade him to nullify the 2020 presidential election.

Eastman said state electors, based on the state’s popular vote, didn’t belong to Biden. According to Jefferson Davis, who attended the meeting, Eastman wants Vos to start “reclaiming the electors” and move forward with “either a do over or having a new slate of electors seated that would declare someone else the winner.” After ABC News published Davis’ quote, he claimed Eastman didn’t suggest these ideas and that the “meeting was confidential.” Although Vos said the 2020 election couldn’t be decertified, he has declared widespread election fraud. A judge held Vos in contempt last month for not turning over documents from the GOP-led investigation Vos started in May 2021 into the 2020 election.

Both Pat Cipollone, DDT’s former White house council, and deputy Patrick Philbin will voluntarily talk to the House committee about plans to overturn the election. At a January 3 White House meeting, they warned they would resign if DDT replaced former AG Jeffrey Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, who tried to make the DOJ take part in the conspiracy to return DDT to the White House.

Biden has also authorized the release of White House visitor logs on January 6 to the investigation committee.

An argument for acquitting one of the January 6, 2021 insurrectionists has gained media attention: Samuel Shamansky, defense attorney for Dustin Thompson, is passionately arguing that his client is innocent because DDT “authorized this assault” on the Capitol and convinced “vulnerable” people that the election was stolen. Shamansky claims, “It was a plot, it was a scheme, it was a conspiracy…. that began at the highest levels of our government.” His client and other supporters “believed the lies that were fed to them.” Shamansky told Chris Hayes on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes that DDT had “groomed” Thompson and others. With no evidence of a stolen election, DDT and other GOP leaders have persuaded their followers of a “stolen” election. Now the argument for all their illegal activities can come from claims of being “vulnerable.”

After weeks of publicity about his alleged voter fraud, North Carolina has taken DDT’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows off its voter rolls, and the State Bureau of Investigation still works on its probe into possible fraud. Meadows was registered to vote in both Virginia and North Carolina, and his registration in North Carolina was at an address where he never lived. He voted in Virginia for a 2021 election. Meadows’ wife, Debra, is still registered at the trailer where she probably never lived.

A leading proponent of false accusations regarding widespread election fraud causing DDT’s 2020 loss, Meadows, a leader of the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), has stopped speaking at their statewide Election Integrity Summits that show how to organize “citizen election integrity task forces” to check on people’s voter records to ensure they live where they have registered. Meadows, who lambasted the safety of mail-in ballots, voted with one in the 2020 election.

Meadows’ chief reasons for being exonerated are likely his color, his politics, and his gender. Light sentences for GOP, white males perpetrating voter fraud demonstrate this as they have escaped the maximum five years in prison for this felony. Republicans in Florida’s Villages who pleaded guilty to voter fraud got community service and a 12-week civics class. Two Pennsylvania men who also cast votes for DDT in the names of their dead mothers got probation. One of them excused himself by saying he “listened to too much propaganda.” An Ohio GOP official who forged his dead father’s signature on an absentee ballot received three days in jail. The Nevada man who complained about someone illegally voting for his dead wife finally admitted he did it himself and voted for DDT. He got probation.

Republicans will say that voter fraud is real, but the few cases come primarily from Republicans. On the other hand, a Black woman mistakenly cast a provisional vote in 2016 because she wasn’t told she couldn’t vote while on supervised release for a federal conviction. Her sentence? Five years in prison. The white GOP guys planned to break the law; the Black woman didn’t.

 It took almost two years, but South Dakota finally impeached the state’s Attorney General Jason Ravnsbory (R) after he killed a man in a car crash, left the scene of the crime, and then denied he noticed. In the state’s first impeachment of an elected official, 28 Republicans joined 8 Democrats to impeach despite a special committee saying the hit-and-run death was not an impeachable offense. All 31 opposing votes came from Republicans. Permanently removal from the office can occur with a two-third vote for conviction in the state senate with 32 Republicans and three Democrats. The trial can start after 20 days, and Ravnsborg hopes for re-election this fall.

Not even 2,000 people showed up to DDT’s North Carolina rally last weekend. Most of the local media didn’t report the crowd size.

April 1, 2022

News – But Not ‘April Fools’

A gain of 431,000 new jobs in March makes this the 11 straight monthly gain above 400,000 on record beginning in 1939 and dropped unemployment to 3.6 percent. Job totals for January and February were also revised upward with 95,000 more new jobs on top of those 431,000 jobs in March. The U.S. economy has replaced 93 percent of pandemic job losses since President Joe Biden took office 14 months ago. In his first three years of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), which he called the greatest U.S. economy in the history of the planet, he gained 6.5 million jobs—and lost all and more with his mismanagement of the pandemic. In Biden’s first 14 months, the nation’s economy created 8.43 million jobs.

DDT is the only person in the White House to record net job losses since Herbert Hoover’s presidency led to the Great Depression. George W. Bush’s eight years saw a gain of only one million compared to the gain of 12 million jobs during President Obama’s eight years.  Per the chart, Trump is the only president in the last 80 years to net job losses during his presidency. 

Republicans fight any increase in the federal $7.25 minimum wage, but in 2020, CEOs were paid 351 times as much as a typical worker, up from 307-1 in 2019 and 21-1 in 1965 and 61-1 in 1989. The 2020 ratio is an 18.9 increase from 2019 because of the rapid growth in vested stock awards and exercised stock options. The average CEO compensation in 2020 was $13.9 million. CEO gets these increases because they set pay and their pay is stock-related.

In contrast to CEO salaries, those for teachers are so bad that many of them are forced to take a second job for survival. In the first years that they work, many of them have to pay off student loans; when that is finished, the child care expenses are stupendous. Average salary for new teachers is $41,000; it’s $64,000 for teachers across all levels of education and years of experience. The 18 percent of teachers holding second jobs outside their teaching makes them three times as likely as all U.S. workers to handle multiple jobs at once. Forty-one percent of preK-12 teachers work more than one job.

Raises for teachers haven’t kept up with inflation in over half the states, stagnating in the past two decades within two states and declining in another 27 states. With a loss of 20 percent in Indiana, for example, the $61,000 that a teacher makes today would have the buying power of under $48,000. For that money, teachers not only instruct but also act as facilitators, mentors, family liaisons, behavioral interventionists, etc. Staff shortages erased planning periods, moving all lesson preparations, grading communication, and other work into evenings and weekends. Teachers make 19 percent less than employees in commensurate professions, about 81 percent on the dollar. In 1996, the penalty was only six percent for teachers.

Some teachers have more advantages than others. The highest-paying states are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Those with partners or other family members may keep them from taking on additional paying jobs.

One person other than teachers will make less money after DDT stiffed her. Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, each man in the Oval Office has had an official photographer to chronicle his administration’s experiences. Many people take photos of the president for the media, and the White House has staff photographers. Only one person, however, is the chief White House photographer for the president.

After another photographer failed to stay, Shealah Craighead, staff photographer for George W. Bush, had the primary position. Like every other chief White House photographer, she planned a collection of her photographs, and asked DDT if he would write a foreword. Unlike other men in the Oval Office, however, DDT wanted some renumeration for doing this historical document. She obtained his commitment and negotiated her contract with a publisher when DDT stalled on his commitment.

That’s when Craighead discovered DDT took her photos for his own book, Our Journey Together: he’s selling it for $75 a copy, $229.99 for a signed copy in his “Winning Team Publishing” section of his merchandising operation. This after he insulted Craighead and told White House guests “that he questioned her skills as a photographer.” His “publishing” is “co-founded by Donald Trump Jr. and Sergio Gor, a former Capitol Hill aide and Republican campaign operative.” DDT’s representative told Craighead that the “noncompete” clause from DDT’s publisher meant more stalling of the foreword. The book from DDT also provides no photo credits and doesn’t not mention any photographers taking the images until the last page that has a “grateful acknowledgement” to “all the phenomenal White House photographers” listed them.

No president personally profited from the photographs as DDT has. The company has evidently grossed at least $20 million by now. After the New York Times contacted DDT for a comment, he said he’s ready to write the foreword.

DDT’s behavior with the book is nothing new: he cheated hundreds of contractors, ran a scam university, and misstated his assets’ evaluation to cheat on taxes and loans. He wrote all the photo captions, including one for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA):

“She was screaming and shaking like a leaf, she’s f***ing crazy, hence the name ‘Crazy Nancy.’”

My personal suggestion is for a collection of DDT’s photographs taken by the media. It could include photographs such as the one of his dragging toilet paper behind him while he ascends the stairs to Air Force One. Or this one. 

Biden has rescinded Title 42, DDT’s policy expelling and blocking migrants at the border from seeking asylum. Supposedly based on the pandemic, the order was lifted by the CDC because it is no longer needed “to protect U.S. citizens.” Most of those crossing the border will still not be permitted to stay, removed if they cannot prove a legal reason for remaining the U.S. Asylum is for “a well-founded fear of persecution on protected ground.” Biden’s administration used Title 42 to expel migrants 1.7 million times.

Biden also announced an expenditure of $3.2 billion to retrofit 450,000 homes in low-income communities to cut power bills and lower fossil fuel emissions. Funding comes from last year’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to boost the home weatherization program from the 1970s. Other climate-related actions announced Wednesday include new energy code requirements for federal buildings and new efficiency standards for residential air conditioners and pool heaters. Federal contractors use concrete and asphalt with a low carbon footprint.

After Florida had an almost perfect election with GOP winners, the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, led the charge in legislation highly restricting voter access to the polls. At least one federal judge agrees that the new laws cause unneeded problems and banned the enforcement of most new restrictions, calling them discriminatory and infringing on voting rights. Mark Walker’s 288-page ruling declared much of the state’s voter suppression law unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction barring its enforcement—with lots of details. The order also mandates “preclearance,” using Section 3(C) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act to get pre-approval on election law changes with Walker’s court for the next ten years if they involve drop boxes, third-party voter registration, or line-warming activities (giving food or water to people waiting to vote). Appeals will go to the highly conservative 11th Circuit Court. Heather Cox Richardson has more to say about the decision.

The DOJ has also filed its third lawsuit against Texas about its discriminatory voting laws, this one over county precincts in Galveston that disenfranchise Black and Latinx voters. The U.S. has already sued Texas for its new redistricting maps and its new voting law restricting mail ballots and outlawing drive-through voting and 24-hour polling places. Texas rejected at least 23,000 mail ballots last month under the new law, a 13-percent rejection rate. Usually, the rate is in the low single digits. The state has had to defend every redistricting process since the 1965 Voting Rights Act went into effect, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down preapproval for the process in 2013.

Texas has had to defend its maps in court after every redistricting process since the Voting Rights Act took effect in 1965. Previously, Texas and other states with a history of racial discrimination had to seek preapproval before changing election laws, but that is no longer the case after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that requirement in 2013.

Despite Amazon’s dirty tricks in union votes, its 6,000-employee warehouse on Staten Island won its union election—on April Fools Day—making it the first U.S. union in the company’s 28-year history. Amazon, the second largest employer in the nation, issued a statement disapproving of the vote and the possibility of challenging the results. It alleged misconduct on the part of the National Labor Relations Board that administered the election. A similar vote at Bessemer (AL) came out against the union by 993-875, but 416 ballots have been challenged. Starbucks workers have unionized nine stories and filed for elections in over 100 stores within 25 states.

November 30, 2021

Biden’s Successes, December Tribulations

In 2016, the mainstream media managed to get Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) into the White House, and it now seems to be pushing GOP candidate wins for the next two election cycles. Most of the news focuses on inflation, COVID, and the problems with Build Back Better, President Joe Biden’s proposed jobs/infrastructure bill. Missing is any focus on Biden’s successes such as the following.

Biden has signed bipartisan legislation examining disparities in VA disability ratings and benefits, provide military personnel jobs at federal facilities, promote tuition equality for military family survivors, and give a wide range of programs and benefits to mothers. Before Biden, DDT denigrated veterans, attempted to privatize the VA, and removed DDT benefits. He frequently lied he was responsible for Veterans’ Choice which President Obama signed in 2014. 

According to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Amazon must permit their Alabama workers a second chance to form a union because the company illegally interfered  has directed that Amazon workers in Alabama get a second chance at forming a union after finding that the company illegally interfered with an earlier union election. Amazon spent millions for anti-union consultants and police to intimidate workers the union supporters and installed a mailbox at the warehouse for workers to mail their ballots. The company likely surveilled the mailbox. Amazon is already lobbying against the union with its statement that workers have a choice but unions are not “the best answer for our employees.”

After a five-month break, world powers began talks to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The reward for the Iranians is liberation from hundreds of western economic sanctions if they stop building their nuclear program, started after DDT took the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018. Talks are among Iran, Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany, and the EU, but Iran doesn’t allow the U.S. delegation to be directly involved. Iran has new demands including financial compensation from the U.S. for previous sanctions and a guarantee that the U.S. will not again leave the new agreement. Time is of he essence: Iran may be only four to six weeks away from its amassing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapons.

The agreement was easier to effect the first time in 2015 because Iran now has a much more conservative government than now. Without an agreement, Iranians promise to “further escalate its nuclear program.” Iran is already enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, beyond the levels permitted by the earlier agreement, and now taking steps to increase the process to 90 percent. The deal was working until DDT pulled out despite advice from all top members of his national security team. At that point, Iran became much more dangerous, and the situation continues to be more serious with DDT’s failed policy.

Although Biden isn’t yet stopped drilling on public lands and waters, he recommends increased charges for oil and gas companies. The Interior Department report also wants no leasing in areas conflicting with wildlife or conservation and prioritizing leasing areas with resource potential.

Biden is proposing a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and its ten-mile radius, a sacred tribal site. The Bureau of Land Management will set aside the land for two years to conduct an environmental analysis and gather public comment. Existing leases and drilling rights will not be affected. The government also will prioritize improving public safety for Native Americans who have sought assistance for 2,700 unsolved killings and 1,500 missing persons cases in their jurisdictions.

Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate potential illegalities in high gas costs. He wrote that “the price of unfinished gasoline is down more than 5 percent while gas prices at the pump are up 3 percent in [the past month]. This unexplained large gap between the price of unfinished gasoline and the average price at the pump is well above the pre-pandemic average.” U.S. oil and gas companies have amassed significant profits with two of the biggest ones nearly doubling their net income since 2019, according to Biden. “They have announced plans to engage in billions of dollars of stock buybacks and dividends this year or next.” Biden has no control over gas prices, but he has released 50 million barrels of oil from reserves.  

Five other countries—China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the UK—are taking similar actions. Both Democratic and GOP presidents have taken oil from reserves about 20 times since they were created in 1975. In an attempt to make himself look good, DDT lied about how the “reserves are meant to be used for serious emergencies, like war, and nothing else.” He also lied about the Reserves being empty when he took over—they weren’t—and that how he “filled them up three years ago, right to the top”—he didn’t because they are far less full when he left. DDT also claimed he had bought the oil, but the government gets the oil in royalties for drilling leases. Thanks to unfettered capitalism, the oil industry is making enormous profits.

Most coastlines along continental U.S. may have offshore windfarms from lease auctions for up to seven new areas. Federal approval for the first U.S. commercial-scale offshore wind farm in May. The first leases will be on the East Coast because the Pacific waters are deeper close to shore than on the East Coast, causing difficulty in attaching turbines to the seafloor. Turbines in the Gulf of Mexico must have to cope with hurricanes and soft soils.

For months, GOP senators have blocked Biden’s diplomatic appointments, and top Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) wants his colleagues to stop stalling the 60 pending foreign-policy nominations on the Senate floor. The most constant obstructionists, Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), have accepted only four U.S. ambassador nominations, either former senators or their widows. The rest are being held up because Biden lifted sanctions on the Russia-backed company behind its gas pipeline to Germany, Nord Stream 2. 

Obsessed with the one-month increase of inflation in the U.S. to a 6.2 percent annual rate, the media ignored its rise around the world. In 46 countries, 39 are higher than the 2019 third quarter with 16 of them over 2 percent higher. The U.S. has the eighth-highest annual inflation rate among these countries. The pattern is largely the same: inflation stayed flat during the worst of the pandemic and rose when countries worked their way back to something like normal.

The economy, however, has good markers in consumer spending data and job creation. In October, retail sales rose 1.7 percent, and new jobs reported large increases in August and September revisions. For June through September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported underestimated job growth by 626,000 jobs, the largest underestimate of any other comparable period back to 1979. Job revisions don’t get the same media attention as initial monthly figures, thus fewer people are aware of these successes. The job growth reports have been vastly underreported since Biden was inaugurated. The inaccurate, pro-DDT numbers come from DDT-appointed William Beach, the head of Bureau of Labor Statistics who had previously worked for the Heritage Foundation and a Charles Koch research center. Beach is also responible for the Consumer Price Index, recently claiming massive price increases. 

Last week, Reuters reported the 71,000 drop of weekly jobless claims to 199,000, a 52-year low, and a reduction of 60,000 to continuing claims. With 531,000 new jobs in October, unemployment dropped to 4.6 percent, not seen since November 1969. The third-quarter GDP growth was revised up to 2.1 percent with the possibility of 8.6 percent for the last quarter. The goods trade deficit also sharply narrowed last months with surging exports.

GOP congressional stalling has led to a December time crunch. If both chambers don’t agree on funding the government by December 3, the government closes down. In September, Congress passed a continuing resolution with the December deadline; it could pass another CR until February or March to finalize the 2022 appropriations bill. In this omnibus bill, the House has passed ten of 12 smaller spending measures, but the Senate has been successful for only three of them.

The debt ceiling must be raised by December 15 so that the government can pay its bills. The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, which would be catastrophic, but many unprecedented events have ocurred in the past five years. No matter how destructive to the U.S., Republicans don’t want to vote for raising the debt ceiling despite the way they and DDT increased it by $7.9 trillion during DDT’s time in the White House.

In addition, Democrats in the Senate want to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion reconciliation bill, Build Back Better, which requires dealing with Democratic senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Krysten Sinema (AZ). And there’s more—the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual must-pass bill. The NDAA has passed Congress every year for six decades despite the need one year to override DDT’s veto. One glitch is Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) attempt to connect it to the U.S. Innovation and Competition ACT (USICA) for $250 billion to oppose China’s technological and defense gains. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also wants to remove military sex crimes prosecution from the chain of command and include women in the draft. The NDAA has 1,000 amendments, including repealing the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq War authorizations.

December 1 opens more opposition from the Republicans to anything helping the country.

September 15, 2019

Immigration in the U.S.: The Center of Cruelty

Public opinion—aka outrage—about deporting approximately 1,000 seriously ill migrants, primarily children, by denying them any deferred status drew attention before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) moved Hurricane Dorian to Alabama. Families who must renew their medical deferred status every two years were notified in August that they would be automatically forced to leave the country within 33 days. After a backlash, DDT said he would reconsider the new policy that sends all these migrants to their certain death because they would lack health care, but he hasn’t provided a resolution.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, failed to appear for an emergency House hearing about the travesty, and Daniel Renaud, the associate director for field operations, said that he just follows orders. USCIS, formerly responsible for processing the deferral requests, handed all non-military requests over to ICE. ICE said it knew nothing about the change, and recipients of the deportation letters were not notified. Now ICE won’t address deferral requests until the subjects have an order of removal. The most recent information comes from American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Those people aren’t the only ones who DDT is killing. Last Thursday, ICE rushed the deportation to Cuba of Yoel Alonso Leal, an asylum-seeker with several serious medical conditions including a lung tumor. Over 100 physicians argued that he stay in the U.S. and warned that he might not even survive the flight. No matter—ICE refused to release him to his U.S. citizen wife and family for more tests and treatment. Leal said that Cuban authorities detained and assaulted him in 2016 and 2018 before he sought asylum. 

DDT already killed a man born in Greece 41 years ago, who legally came to the U.S. at less than a year of age, by deporting him to Iraq where he died without insulin for his diabetes. Jimmy Aldaoud never learned Arabic and was part of Detroit’s Chaldean Catholic community, targeted in Iraq by extremists. He was sent to Iraq because Greece doesn’t recognize birthright citizenship. Other Chaldeans, a conservative group, are also targeted for deportation, one of them for a years-old marijuana conviction that was dropped from his criminal record.

ICE also plans to kill detain immigrants by not vaccinating children for the flu. Despite the claim that detainees are held for only 72 hours, they can remain in detention for over a month. At least three people in government “care” have already died of the flu.

DDT also wants to terminate a program protecting undocumented family members of active-duty troops from deportation. Currently the program allows military family members illegally entering the U.S.—for example, overstaying a visa—who cannot adjust their immigration status to temporarily stay in the U.S. The program avoids distractions coming from worries about a spouse being deported and allows the spouse to apply for a green card. Already ICE doesn’t follow its own policies by deporting former service members and breaking the tradition of giving a path to citizenships for those who serve in the military—almost 130,000 since 2001. Last year, the Pentagon discharged immigrants with special skills recruited under George W. Bush’s program.

A lawsuit against Cuccinelli purports that all his directives are “invalid” because he “lacks the authority to serve as acting director.” Cuccinelli is also unqualified to serve in this position because he describes immigrants as rats although his job is to facilitate legal immigration. His new policies include fast-tracking initial screenings of asylum-seekers from 48 hours to a “full calendar day,” blocking them from preparing for interviews of seeing legal help. Cuccinelli is serving as “acting director” because GOP senators have doubted his appointment.

In another cruel form of current government bureaucracy, 37 asylum seekers accused of illegal entry were all processed at one time and expected to answer questions in unison. Public defendants had under two hours to talk with 41 defendants in one case. Unlike other courts under the judicial branch, immigration courts are under the control of DOJ AG Bill Barr. [Right: “Justice” under the reign of Barr and DDT.]

New tent courts recently established at the southern border will hear thousands of cases for asylum-seekers in closed hearings with no court observers unlike open immigration court proceedings. Attorneys are not allowed to participate although most asylum-seekers can’t get legal representation. Over 42,000 asylum-seekers are forced to wait in Mexico where they have been assaulted, kidnapped, and extorted. Others have let Mexico bus them to the middle of the country or the border of Guatemala. The hearings in the tent court facilities are via video teleconference, a serious problem from faulty equipment with poor video and sound quality that prevent due process. 

Last week, people believing in justice breathed a sigh of relief when a federal judge ruled that DDT cannot require asylum seekers to ask another country for shelter before seeking refuge in the U.S. According to DDT’s coerced agreement with Guatemala, people coming from Central America into Mexico must try and fail to obtain asylum in Guatemala before moving on to go through the same process in Mexico before seeking asylum in the U.S. Mexico had refused DDT’s negotiations, but he still forces the “third-country” asylum rule on that country. A 9th Circuit Court ruling against DDT’s new restriction had been only for the ten states in its jurisdiction, but Jon S. Tigar made that ruling consistent for the entire country to prevent “uneven enforcement.”

The relief ended when DDT’s U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay to that judge’s ruling until the courts settled the cases, a process taking and leaving the Supreme Court as the final decider—or “fixer” for DDT. The lower courts determined that DDT’s policy conflicts with existing immigration statutes, violates the requirements of administrative rulemaking, and completely blocks all asylum for people on the southern border unless they come from Mexico. The decision was not explained.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginzberg submitted a dissent stating that lower court decisions should be respected and a stay overturning a lower court is “extraordinary.” The Supreme Court should not be used for the government to ignore lower court litigation. DDT’s administration has made an “extraordinary” number of requests—20—to bypass normal procedures or lower court actions. In addition to procedural anomalies, the dissent pointed out that the goal of DDT’s asylum policy is acting in bad faith. Facts do not support their arguments and illustrated that the policy puts untold numbers of people in serious danger—which DDT and his co-authors know. The decision overturns a longstanding offer of safe refuge to the persecuted with no input before DDT loses on the case’s merits. The lower court determined that DDT’s new policy broke government rules, violated the law, and lacks justification by being arbitrary and capricious.

One group of immigrants that DDT wants to protect are Venezuelans. He thinks that it might help him win the state of Florida in the 2020 election.

Perhaps the worst part of immigration court is control by the DOJ instead of the judicial branch. DDT’s fixer AG, Bill Barr, promoted the six judges with higher rates of denying immigrants’ asylum to the immigration appeals court that can overturn lower court decisions. Two of them came from courts drawing complaints of unfair proceedings from attorneys and advocates, and a third denies asylum to domestic violence victims. The six comprise over one-fourth of the appellate board, and four are on the DDT-created Board of Immigration Appeals. Barr established a regulation giving himself the ability to make any appellate decision binding. DOJ sent an email to all immigration court employees with a link to an article from the white nationalist website VDare that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs.”

The DOJ also filed a petition to decertify the union of immigration judges with the claim that they are “management officials.” The Federal Labor Relations Authority refused this tactic over 20 years ago, but the new FLRA members mostly belong to DDT. Last year, the union fought the new DOJ quota system of completing 700 cases a year and “efficiency” procedures that could damage due process in court. DDT has appointed at least 43 percent of the 440 immigration judges; changing them to “management” would allow him to fire them at his whim.

While DDT torments and kills migrants, the asylum law is now at the center of his immigration battle. The law says: “Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States, whether or not at a designated port of arrival … may apply for asylum.”

Not satisfied with detaining only immigrants, DDT wants to incarcerate the homeless in a federal facility, starting his roundup in California to rile up his base for the 2020 election.

At his speech in Baltimore, DDT used a favorite term, “goddamn,” which the evangelical community hates. Texas megachurch leader and DDT supporter Rev. Robert Jeffress said, “I can take just about everything else, except [taking the Lord’s name in vain.” For evangelicals, cruelty, corruption, killing, abuse, lying, racism all okay, but “goddamn” crosses the line.

July 27, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 2

When Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court justice, he gave a lovely speech, full of admiration for women and children and minorities. The wealth of his rulings and dissents show that much of what he said was a farce. Possibly even his wife thought so too, from the look on her face.

Separation of Powers – PHH Corp. v. CFPB (2017): Striking down the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kavanaugh opposed the president’s needing a reason to fire the CFPB director. Later, the entire D.C. Circuit Court overrode Kavanaugh’s decision.

Abortion – Garza v. Hargan (2017): The complete D.C. Circuit Court vacated an order preventing an undocumented pregnant teenager from having an abortion. Kavanaugh dissented with the statement that “the en banc majority … reflects a philosophy that unlawful immigrant minors have a right to immediate abortion on demand, not to be interfered with even by government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation by expeditiously transferring them to their sponsors.” The 17-year-old girl had been held prisoner without permission to see a doctor to keep her from having an abortion as the administration tried to postpone any decision until the fetus was too developed for the procedure.

Contraception – Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016): When the D.C. Circuit Court refused to hear a case about employers opting out of birth control coverage by submitting a form, dissented because of the employers’ “religious privilege.” Filling out the form seemed to burden their exercise of religion. Kavanaugh’s view is that courts must accept, without question, any religious claim because any employer has the right to deny birth control coverage to their employees through insurance.

Healthcare – Seven Sky v. Holder (2011): In dissenting to the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh claimed the Anti-Injunction Act, “which carefully limits the jurisdiction of federal courts over tax-related matters.” He argued that a president is not required to enforce the ACA or any other law if he makes that choice. A pending lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ACA could be decided by the Supreme Court.

Voting Restrictions – South Carolina v. United States (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law opposed by the DOJ because of serious racial disparities in photo ID requirements blocking over 60,000 minority registered voters from the polls.

Discrimination – Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives (2013): Kavanaugh’s dissent in this case, if successful, would ban workers in congressional offices from suing on the basis of racism, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  He also claimed in Miller v. Clinton (2012) that the State Department is exempt from being sued for age discrimination. In Rattigan v. Holder (2012), Kavanaugh dissented from the majority rule that a black FBI agent could pursue a case of inappropriate retaliation for filing a discrimination claim when the agency began a security investigation against him.

Hostility to Workers’ Rights – SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez (2014): Kavanaugh opposed a majority ruling upholding a safety citation after a trainer died while working with an orca that had previously killed three other trainers. He said that the government shouldn’t be responsible for protecting these workers. The nominee has a pattern of ruling against workers in other issues such as worker privacy and union disputes. In National Labor Relations Board v. CNN America, Inc. (2017) Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion upholding a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) order that CNN recognize and bargain with a worker’s union. and finding that CNN violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by discriminating against union members in hiring. Another Kavanaugh dissent in National Federation of Federal Employees v. Vilsack (2012) called for drug testing despite the lack of policy. His majority ruling in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates (2007) could allow the Secretary of Defense to eviscerate collective bargaining.

Immigration – Fogo de Chao Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security (2014): The case agreed that specialized cultural knowledge regarding Brazilian-style cooking was valid for a temporary visa, but Kavanaugh wanted to exclude “any and all knowledge or skills … learned from family or community rather than in-company trainers.”

Gun ownership – Heller v. District of Columbia (2011): The ruling in the D.C. Circuit Court supported a law that prohibited assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and that required certain firearms to be registered. Kavanaugh dissented: “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He also stated, “A ban on a class of arms is … equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.” The Supreme Court later overturned Heller.

Net Neutrality – United States Telecom Association v. FCC (2017): After a panel of judges ruled that internet service providers cannot discriminate among content providers, the D.C. Circuit Court refused to rehear the case. Kavanaugh dissented, claiming that the FCC should rely on the 1934 Communications Act which does not allow the FCC to regulate Internet service providers.” The FCC now permits this discrimination.

Environment – EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in this decision that the EPA could not require companies to replace refrigerant chemicals of greenhouse gasses with more sustainable alternatives.  In his dissent to White Stallion Energy Ctr. LLC v. EPA (2014), he stated that the EPA should have considered the cost to the power industry before regulating toxic air pollution. The Supreme Court cited his dissent when it reversed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that had upheld the standards. In Howmet Corp. v. EPA (2010) Kavanaugh dissented from a decision to approve an EPA fine of over $300,000 against a company that had improperly shipped a corrosive chemical to be added to fertilizer without properly labelling it and taking other precautions to treat it as a hazardous waste.

Unlimited Campaign Donations – EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission (2009): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion that led to the creation of super PACs. In Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission (2016), he wrote the opinion which Demos and Campaign Legal Center called “a novel theory that would limit disclosure based on a spender’s tax-status, a theory subsequently rejected by a three-judge court and the Supreme Court.”

A civil rights group wrote:

“Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections.  In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful.  He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people.  And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred.”

Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court can vastly increase the economic inequality in a nation where it is greater than at any time during almost a century, an equality marked by gender and race. Lack of healthcare in the United States has caused it to have a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country. Taking contraception from women keeps many of them from getting and keeping jobs, advancing their careers, furthering their education, and financially supporting themselves. The loss of contraception also produces higher abortion rates.

In the past century, unions have been responsible for decreasing income inequality. As the number of people in unions grew, so did the percentage of people in the middle class. The reverse is also true, especially for women who comprise the majority of public sector workers that Janus v. AFSCME has tried to destroy. The day after the Supreme Court decision allowed workers to have union benefits without charge, it authorized crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to continue to lie to women about their services and the dangers of abortions. Two weeks later, the current administration proposed prevention of home care workers unions.

Brett Kavanaugh is part of the conservative strategy to demolish the structure that attempts to protect the well-being of women and families, the foundation for the United States’ economy and democracy. Gone will be reproductive rights for women, safety and privacy rights for workers, union rights, individual rights, immigration rights, voting rights, religious rights, a clean environment, etc. Big business will be god, and the president will be above the law.

With Kavanaugh as justice—or someone like him—the Supreme Court will be a disaster for the nation.

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