Nel's New Day

October 23, 2022

News – Week Ending October 23, 2022

Update on possibility of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) testifying live to House January 6 investigate committee: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said this won’t happen; DDT won’t be allowed to turn his testimony into a “circus” or a “food fight.” About House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) announcement he may take military aid from Ukraine, Cheney accused him of becoming “the leader of the pro-Putin wing of my party” and added that McCarthy “always chooses to serve his own political purpose.” After McCarthy’s mentor DDT put the U.S. a further $8 trillion into debt, McCarthy said he must “eliminate wasteful spending.”

By now, the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister after 44 days, the shortest term for any British PM, is old news. The head of lettuce won, lasting longer than she did when the contest began a week earlier. The event ended in a fanfare of colored lights and messages of congratulations for the crowned lettuce as Truss’ photo was laid down to the sound of “God Save the King.” Celebratory alcohol was provided by the lettuce joined by fruit and vegetable friends. Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci for 11 days, 33 days fewer than Truss, praised her after she “outlasted the milk in the refrigerator.”  

Truss’ resignation leaves her with the possibility of $129,000 for any business expenses and another almost $100,000 pension, available to any PM lasting over 42 days, and depending on how well the British pound does after her departure. She can add that to her net worth of almost $10 million. Traumatized by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ 44 days in office, the British public now must cope with who will assume leadership.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin described Truss’ failure in six weeks and concluded:

“If you like what Brexit and Truss have done for the British economy, vote Republican. If you prefer prosperity, then don’t.

Her warning is reminiscent of Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s question in 2000 before George W. Bush lowered taxes and started two wars:

“What are you afraid of? Four more years of prosperity?”

Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss, has again thrown his hat into the ring despite tax scandals for both himself and his wife, Akshata Murty. Together they are worth £730 million, over twice the assets of King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort. Runak and Murty keep their money, he with a U.S. green card until last year promising to become a citizen and paying less taxes and she with her non dom classification, permitting her to pay an annual maximum of £30,000 a year instead of taxes on foreign income. She has saved millions of pounds on taxes for her dividends in her father’s firm, India-based Infosys, which did business with Russia after British sanctions because of the invasion of Ukraine.  

Upsetting senior Tories, former PM Boris Johnson flew back to Britain to drum up support for another win. Without sufficient support, Johnson changed his mind and said that he couldn’t govern with a unified party. In a BBC poll of 357 conservative MPs, only 227 were willing to go public with their support, Johnson came out far below Sunak. The runner-up ran against Truss last time.

  • Rishi Sunak – 146 MPs
  • Boris Johnson – 57 MPs
  • Penny Mordaunt – 24 MPs

Only Mordaunt and Sunak have announced they are running. A candidate requires at least 100 votes from MPs. If over two receive 100 or more votes, the one with the fewest number of votes is eliminated from the race. Conservative MPs then vote their preference between the two, and the candidates are then sent to the conservative party members who vote online. Last time, Truss was selected with 81,326 votes (57.4 percent) in a country with a population of over 67 million.

Fed up with gun violence in Canada, much less than in the U.S., Canada is banning the sale, purchase, and transfer of all handguns within the country and cannot bring them from outside the country. The bill was introduced after 19 children were killed in Uvalde (TX) on May 24, 2022. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

“Canadians have the right to feel safe in their homes, in their schools, and in their places of worship.”

A government buyback for assault-style rifles is planned, and further restrictions in Bill C-21 are being debated in the House of Commons.

Those who worry about President Joe Biden running again in 2024 at the age of 81 should consider that the GOP may elect a 90-year-old man to be third in succession for the president in 2022. He could hold that position for the next six years. Chuck Grassley could become President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, the position held by the most senior senator in the majority party. The current pro tem, 82-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is not seeking re-election. Resurgence against Grassley

Alaskan Republicans tried to do away with ranked choice voting in the state after Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for U.S. House. The state Supreme Court rejected their constitutional challenge.

A Miami judge dismissed one rigged arrest by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of a man convicted in 1991 who voted in 2020 after a clerk told him he was eligible to register to vote. The other 18 voter prosecutions may meet the same fate. Videos of the arrests show police officers not understanding the offense. A state constitutional amendment restores voting rights to most people with felonies, but Republicans said that they were ineligible until they paid all fines and fees.

Texas state police Capt. Joel Betancourt is under investigation because he ordered his officers to stay out of the school over 70 minutes while 19 children were massacred on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde (TX). State trooper Sgt. Juan Maldonado, the highest ranking officer at the scene at the Uvalde (TX) massacre of 19 children, was fired because he didn’t go into the building although arriving four minutes after the shooting began. He is the third law enforcement and first state police officer to be sacked for lack of response.

The postal service plans to implement “extraordinary measures” delivering ballots for 2022, compared to those measures opposing them two years. These new measures include extra deliveries and collections, special pickups, expanded hours at processing facilities, and fast-tracking ballots to election officials through and bypassing some standard mail processing procedures. Employees are also being trained to speed ballot deliveries. A joint task force between postal unions and management oversees ballot delivery. In a lawsuit settlement last year, the agency agreed to keep these measures for federal elections until at least 2028.

GOP Georgians have challenged 65,000 voter registrations this year regarding voting eligibility, but they can no longer do this with poll workers when voters are trying to cast their votes. About 97 percent of the challenges have been dismissed.  

A North Carolina judge has denied a GOP request to temporarily use signature-matching requirements for mail-in ballots; election officials must could these ballots even if the signature doesn’t exactly match the one on the voter registration record. County election boards will have the discretion to make the determination.

Federal officials will recognize Connecticut pardons as legally valid and stop deporting those pardoned for crimes by a state board. The decision reverses a hard-line stance from DDT’s administration that changed six decades of practice by singling out Connecticut. DDT didn’t reverse the same practice in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, and Utah.

Same-gender spouses can qualify for a higher rate of survivor benefits requiring eight years of marriage even if they didn’t meet the mandate because of being unable to be married before the 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, according to the VA. The agency now begins the duration of the rights beginning with when the couple established a “marriage-type” relationships including commitment ceremonies, joint banking accounts, or joint purchase of a home. Benefits are now retroactive to October 11, 2022.  

Last week, that Elon Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy Twitter that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of the company’s 7,500 workers.      Twitter said it isn’t true, but the current management planned to trim the payroll by $800 million, one-fourth of the workforce.

The EPA plans to investigate allegations of racist federal spending in Mississippi causing the Jackson city’s water system disaster. The state is suffering from another scandal, this one when former NFL player Brett Favre and several other individuals allegedly received tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money intended for low-income families. GOP Gov. Tate Reeves has joked about his preference for whiter Hattiesburg over Jackson, 82 percent Black, while the water crisis in Jackson was dire. Leaders of two congressional committees are also starting a joint investigation into the crisis leaving most homes and businesses in Jackson without running water for several days in late August and early September.  NAACP President Derrick Johnson lives in Jackson with his family,

 Michigan opponents to an anti-abortion ballot proposal, Proposal 3, have found a new way to force child-birth on women by keeping a 1931 law: they falsely claim the measure to retain “reproductive rights” permits transgender minors can get sterilized by repealing parental consent laws.

October 17, 2022

Week’s News – October 9-16, 2022

Breaking news since yesterday’s post on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: 

  • Russia hit a key energy facility near Kyiv, seriously damaging it and seizing the property. 
  • President Vladimir Putin said that of his 29 targets for this weekend, seven weren’t damaged but would be taken out gradually.
  • Police and military officers are grabbing men off Moscow streets, even those disabled, as well as in apartment building lobbies, and throughout places of business including cafes and restaurants. Not fitting Putin’s announced criteria Putin, they will be forced into the Russian army.
  • Iran publicly denies contributing weapons to Russia but has secretly agreed to send more weapons shipments, including more “kamikaze” drones and surface-to-surface missiles, for Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Iran has one of the largest and most diverse arsenals of short- and medium-range missiles in the Middle East although they tend to have reliability problems. Among other attacks today, Russia used these drones on Kyiv.
  • A religious argument may have been why two men from Tajikistan killed 11 other volunteers at a Russian military training. Tajikistan, home to the killers, is Islam; Russian is largely Christian.

After Florida areas were hard hit by Hurricane Ian, Gov. Ron DeSantis eased his own voting restrictions such as extending time for voter registration and early voting days, adding drop boxes for ballots, and allowing voters to submit mail-in ballots from addresses not in voting records—but only in Republican areas. He gave no help to regions with a majority of Democratic voters and claimed he’s using advice from supervisors of elections and written requests from the GOP counties.

Bexar County (TX) Sheriff Javier Salazar certified that the 49 migrants who Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard with Florida money provided by the federal government are victims of a crime. As such, they can get a special visa allowing them to stay in the U.S. otherwise not available to them.

According to a federal judge, DDT-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy harmed mail delivery with his changes in 2020 and placed orders to stop him from doing it again. A lawsuit charged DeJoy with higher rates of mail not being delivered on time impacting states’ abilities to stop the spread of COVID and a reliable alternative to in-person voting. DeJoy’s demands removed postal boxes, cut back on the number of mail sorting machines, and hindered the extra postal trips that would have cost overtime as DDT objected to mail-in ballots. These changes were made without consulting the overseeing regulator agency.

The ruling came out the day before backlash to Deloy’s hiking postcard and stamp prices as part of his proposed 10-year plan to change mail operations. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has not approved the price increases. People ask why the postal service is the only government agency that needs to make a profit, DeJoy’s voiced reason for slashing jobs, closing postal facilities, and raising prices.

Elon Musk thought he could escape problems by offering to go through with his $44 billion purchase of Twitter, but federal authorities are investigating his conduct in the takeover. Attorneys for Musk revealed a “privilege log” of withheld documents, and an October 6 court filing requests an order to share the materials. The FTC is monitoring whether Musk failed to comply with the antitrust reporting requirement related to investor’s intentions of a passive or active shareholder. A trial will be scheduled in November if the deal doesn’t meet the October 28 deadline.

Tesla’s stock prices have badly suffered from Musk’s erratic behavior since he decided to control Twitter. Its latest price drop brought the current value to $204.99 last Friday, almost exactly half the value almost a year ago on November 4–$409.97–$640 billion vanished. Columnist Wolf Richter reports that Tesla shares are “still ridiculously overvalued… Tesla is not a car company, it’s a religion.”

In Alex Jones’ latest civil trial, a Connecticut jury ordered him to pay almost $1 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to 15 plaintiffs, relatives of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting victims. A request had been only $550 million. The judge already ruled that Jones was guilty of defamation, infliction of emotional distress, and invasion of privacy. Jurors will determine how much money he owed each of the plaintiffs.

After the verdict, Jones cheered and begged for donations on his program. He told his audience, “They want to scare us away from questioning Uvalde or Parkland. We’re not going away. We’re not going to stop.”

Major U.S. health insurance companies have made up to $25 billion in profits by fraudulently billing the federal government for nonexistent healthcare changes through the 64 million people using a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, almost half the people eligible for Medicare. Companies—including UnitedHealth, Humana, CVS Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Cigna—falsely report patient ailments, and most of them have been accused of fraud in court. Of the top ten companies, only Centene has not been accused of any fraud. Three companies were accused of paying doctors or nurses more for recording additional diagnoses.

Journalist Natalie Shure explained the scam:

“Privatized Medicare plans cherry-pick healthier enrollees, fudge medical records to make them look as sick as possible, coax doctors into tacking on extra sham diagnoses to bill for, and pay themselves a profit on top of it.”

Shure added that the companies also refuse to provide additional treatment for these allegedly sick patients subscribing to MA. Almost 80 percent of U.S. House members, many of them taking donations from insurance companies, signed onto a letter “to protect the [MA] program from policies that would undermine” its stability. Critics have stated that the MA program is designed to completely privatize Medicare, allowing private insurance companies to extend the fraud for additional billions of dollars. The MA program costs more money per patient than those enrolled in Medicare.

GOP governors tried to look virtuous for their conservative constituents by not pardoning people for simple possession of cannabis, but they made big bucks after the private prison industry ponied up big campaign donations. Major recipients are Greg Abbott (TX), Bill Lee (TN), and Asa Hutchinson (AR). Private prison corporations even report that their profits need harsh drug laws. Florida Republicans also get a large share of private prison industry donations. Thus far, however, Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Nancy Mace (R-SC) praised Biden for his pardoning people federal convicted of simple Cannabis possession.

Conservatives are so delighted about the revelation that the president of moderate Brookings Institution secretly lobbied for Qatar’s government that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants to join Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in proposing a bill requiring think tanks to disclose donors paying for lobbying. The measure likely won’t pass become right-wing think tanks would block it because they would suffer more than others. Center-left groups such as Brookings already share much of its donation sources, but the Heritage Foundation, for example, claims under two percent of its income is from corporations. The Cato Institute is far more libertarian than Heritage, and the Claremont Institute has a strong MAGA bent.

The proposed law would not have affected John Allen at Brookings because his lobbying for Qatar was finished before he took over Brookings and would be covered by the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Grassley said, “Congress, the executive branch, and the American people deserve to know who’s influencing research and public policy in our country.” He may have to change his mind if conservatives attack the bill. At the age of 89, Grassley is only three points ahead of his opponent, the tightest election he has faced since he started running for office in 1958, 64 years ago.

About 200 same-gender Chinese couples have been married in Utah, thanks to a legal loophole from a combination of two state laws. The state doesn’t have residency or citizenship requirements for marriage licenses, and Utah County permits international marriages online. China does not recognize the marriages, but the couples have an essence of a legal union.

Ben Sasse wants to move from the Senate to heading up the University of Florida because he doesn’t like conflict. Students and faculty, however, are already protesting his arrival because of his LGBTQ discrimination and urging the school’s board of trustees to reject him. He tried to claim that marriage equality is the “law of the land,” reminiscent of the lies that Supreme Court justices used to get confirmed. Sasse’s employment will be formally considered on November 1.  

How crazy are DDT’s supporters? Denis Molla burned down his own camper two years ago so that he could blame the antifa. Now the 30-year-old Minnesota man is sorry because he faces up to four years in prison. He pled guilty to wire fraud after trying to cheat an insurance agency and GoFundMe donors of over $300,000. His lawyer said Molla is “a wonderful husband and father.” (Right: Image of Molla’s handiwork; check for Molla’s anti-left graffiti on his garage door.)  

After Kingsview Asset Management CIO Scott Martin claimed on the Fox Business Neil Cavuto show that he spent $28 for a Taco Bell lunch, his host was stunned—and so were the humorous Twitter responses. Kingsview might want to reconsider keeping Martin as the “chief information officer.”

April 27, 2022

Republicans’ Move to Fascism

The head of the Surry County (NC) GOP threatened to fire an elections official or lower her pay if she didn’t give him illegal access to the county’s vote tabulators, one of over 900 instances of intimidating election officials after the 2020 election. Republicans are also trying to discourage voters from using electronic tabulators, but “there is no hand-count option.” Elected GOP officials are willing to overturn a legitimate Democratic victory in order to guarantee that only a Republican can hold office. That means a one-party state, which will be overseen by a single, powerful individual, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal in Ukraine. 

A veto from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves means that the Jim Crow era law blocking Black voters stays on the book. House Judiciary Chair Nick Bain, the Republican who drafted the bill, said the bill “clarified” that judges should continue their policy of returning voting rights to those who have their criminal records expunged. Only nine other states permanently block felons from every voting. Approximately ten percent of the state’s population, 16 percent of the Blacks, cannot vote.

In 1890, the Mississippi constitution listed specific crimes preventing people from voting, specifically those they claimed Black men were more likely to commit: murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, or bigamy. One of the legislators involved in the 1890 language bragged about how they “legislated against the racial peculiarities of the negro.” Murder and rape weren’t added to the list until 1968. Last year, Reeves claimed that “there is not systemic racism in America.”

Reeves wrote:

“Felony disenfranchisement is an animating principle of the social contract at the heart of every great republic dating back to the founding of ancient Greece and Rome.”

The vetoed bill would also have created a public registry of “offenders whose crimes involved the embezzlement or misappropriation of public funds.” These names would stay on the list for five years and be blocked from holding public office for that time. Reeves vetoed a legislative-approved $50 million for upgrades at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Last Monday in Mississippi was Confederate Memorial Day, and Reeves proclaimed April Confederate Heritage Month. He said, “There is not systemic racism in America” in a state where 38 percent population who are Black must honor slavery. In Mississippi’s 2015 data, 383 of every 100,000 Black juveniles were in custody compared to 83 white juveniles in 100,000.

Reeves also let a law for increasing government officials’ wages go into effect without a veto. His own salary goes up 31 percent to $160,000, higher than over half the states. Mississippi has the lowest median household income in the U.S. 

In Louisiana, DDT-appointed federal Judge Robert Summerhays blocked President Joe Biden’s ending Title 42 which prevented all immigrants seeking asylum on the southern border because of COVID precautions. The ruling covers Arizona, Missouri, and Louisiana—the three states suing to pause the end of Title 42—but they must come to an agreement with the DOJ. In a hearing this week, GOP lawmakers grilled Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas about how Biden plans to conclude DDT’s policy. Asked if he supports Biden’s decision, Mayorkas said he deferred to the CDC. Republicans call for Mayorkas’ resignation and possible impeachment if they take over Congress this coming year.

During his re-election campaign, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attracted voters by showing how anti-immigration he is. Earlier this month, he promised to transport immigrants to Washington, D.C. but had to change the claim to volunteers after accusations of kidnapping. Accused of kidnapping them for taking them involuntarily, he said he would take only volunteers. Thus far Abbott has moved 152 migrants and is now asking for donations to fund his program. Those who took him up on his request are expressing gratitude for the “free” ride. His blockage of the southern border with the excuse of inspections fiscally hurt both his state and the entire U.S. with multibillion-dollar losses to the economy.

Abbott’s claim of success in his Operation Lone Star uses myths and disinformation. Starting in March 2021, Abbott deployed over 10,000 National Guard members to join state troopers in a mission to patrol the border, build barriers, and arrest migrant men for trespassing. He counts arrests for crimes with no connection to the border and captured drugs in communities with no connection to the initiative. Abbott said he targeted Mexican cartel members and smugglers, but most of his arrests were for misdemeanor trespassing. Three-fourths of captured illegal drugs was marijuana. Abbott claimed the operation found 887 pounds of fentanyl, but only 160 pounds of that was in the 63 counties included in the initiative, all but 12 pounds in El Paso County that refused to sign onto Abbott’s declaration.

Abbott’s border disaster declaration, patterned after one for a natural disaster, increased trespassing penalties to up a year imprisonment. Since his announcement of the order 11 months ago, over 2,900 people arrested for allegedly crossing into the state came through private property in two rural southwest counties. For arrests July through February, 40 percent were misdemeanor trespassing charges, and hundreds of the charges were dismissed or rejected, many because troopers marched migrants across the private property. Officials couldn’t prove that arrested people were gang members. Questions led to the removal of over 2,000 charges. Abbott’s operation also arrested U.S. citizens and other authorized people in the 63 countries, sometimes charging them with crimes not connected to the border.

Last September, about 15,000 Haitian immigrants searching for asylum because of the earthquake, the president’s assassination, and economic instability camped under the international bridge in Del Rio. Troopers and National Guard members lined up vehicles along the Rio Grande as a “steel barrier.” Texas supported Homeland Security to clear the bridge.

After the state legislature tripled its expenditure on border security last year, most of it going to Operation Lone Star, the state shifted another $500 million from other agencies to pay costs exceeding legislative appropriations. Abbott said its $3 billion in costs was more than the U.S. paid; yet the U.S. border budget is over $16 billion, and 8,000 Border Patrol agents are assigned to 1,285 miles of border with Mexico. More customs officers are stationed at international ports of entry in the state.

DDT stories usually take a bizarre twist, but this one is exceptional. His deposition from last October regarding the violent treatment of his bodyguard Keith Schiller toward protesters outside Trump Tower in 2015 has just been made public. Although DDT claims he knew nothing about it, he defended Schiller’s actions and said “he did nothing wrong.” Protesters are suing DDT for his security officers’ “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries.” The case goes to the New York Supreme Court in the Bronx in May. His lawyers are trying to delay the trial after DDT’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen came forward as a witness—against DDT.

All that is pretty standard for DDT. The bizarre part is his fear of tomatoes. In his deposition he talked about the rally in Cedar Falls (IA) where he told attendees that “if you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them, would you?” He told the protesters’ lawyer:

“It was very dangerous. We were threatened. … They were going to throw fruit…  It’s worse than tomato, it’s other things also. But tomato, when they start doing that stuff, it’s very dangerous. There was an alert out that day.”

He called it “very violent stuff.” Trying to cover himself, he said his 2016 remark to the crowd was “sort of in jest,” but added about his fear, “But maybe, you know, a little truth to it. It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things.”

During the 4.5-hour deposition, he was very specific about the dangers of different fruits, also specifying pineapples and bananas as potentially lethal projectiles. “I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit” and explained that “some fruit is a lot worse [than tomatoes.]” Asked if anyone had tomatoes at the rally, he answered, “It worked out that nothing happened.” He said he expected his security to use physical force on anyone seen with a tomato. Lawyers even debated whether a tomato is a fruit. DDT’s lawyer settled the question by explaining that a tomato “has seeds.”

If you have a few minutes, tun in to watch Rachel Maddow read parts of DDT’s deposition. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis has overseen the banning of over 200 books from Florida schools; his recent Stop WOKE Act objects to books about race, gender and sexuality and allows members of the public to challenge and ban books. Chaz Stevens has filed complaints in at least eight school districts for the removal of the “woke” Bible. According to the complaint, the Bible deals with slavery, racism, and rape as well as age inappropriateness, “wokeness”, social-emotional learning, bestiality, cannibalism, fornication, and infanticide. He included biblical excerpts as evidence and asked for a book burning. 

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.

October 22, 2021

House Votes for Bannon’s Criminal Contempt

The U.S. House voted today to hold Steve Bannon, former White House adviser to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), in criminal contempt of Congress because he refused to comply with the subpoena from the January 6 Committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nine Republicans joined all Democrats for the 229-202 yes vote; seven of the Republicans also voted to impeach DDT the second time. Bannon, who left the White House 3.5 years before DDT did—and before the attack on the Capitol—has claimed protection from DDT’s “executive privilege.” Legal experts, however, state that the claim cannot apply to private citizens. The charge can result in up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

DDT is also using executive privilege to keep the House investigation committee from obtaining archived records surrounding January 6, but he isn’t the executive. President Joe Biden has already approved the request for the records. At her weekly news conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that Bannon reportedly “had specific knowledge about the events of January 6th before they occurred and had multiple roles relevant to the attack and [was] very outspoken about it.”

Last year, Bannon was charged in a fundraising scam supposedly to collect money for DDT’s wall on the southern border in which he took about $1 million. One of DDT’s last acts before leaving the White House was to pardon Bannon, and a judge dismissed that specific fraud case four months later. After Bannon’s conversations with DDT leading up to the attack, he made a January 5 comment on his podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.” The “hell” included five dead, several of them police officers, and over 140 officers injured with ax handles, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks, and other weapons.

Although the January 6 Committee has two Republicans, House Minority Leader (R-CA) Kevin McCarthy falsely claimed that it represents “the first time in the history of Congress that the minority was not able to participate.” McCarthy pulled all his GOP nominations for the committee after Pelosi refused two of them, one of them being Jim Jordan (R-OH) who may receive a subpoena to testify before the committee. The other one, Jim Banks (R-IN) is still claiming the riot on January 6 was a “permitted political rally” and asked why it needed to be investigated. Both Banks and Jordan voted against creating the committee and to overturn Biden’s presidency on January 6.

Banks also wrote letters signing himself as the “ranking member” of the committee in a letter to the Department of the Interior on September 16 when he requested all information provided to the committee. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy), actually a committee member, called him out for his falsehood on the House floor today. Another committee member, Rep. Jamie Rankin (D-MD) called Banks “not only delusional and fantastical, but it might be some kind of violation of the rules of the House.”

The fireworks were on display both during the debate for the vote and earlier during the Rules Committee hearing when Republicans tried to protect Bannon from the subpoena. The January 6 Committee had unanimously voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt and refer charges to the DOJ, and the Rules Committee met to determine process for the full House vote. Appearing before that committee, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) argued that DDT’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election was legal came to naught when confronted by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a constitutional law professor. Raskin said DDT’s over 60 lawsuits to “prove” a “stolen” election failed courts found no evidence of voter fraud, and Gaetz claimed a need for a legal “remedy.” The law professor responded:

“There’s no remedy because there’s no violation, Mr. Gaetz.”

Gaetz said the courts didn’t “take up the facts” on “jurisdiction or remedy,” and Raskin came back at him:

“You know what? That might work on Steve Bannon’s podcast, but that’s not going to work in the Rules Committee in the United States House of Representatives.”

The discussion went to why Gaetz didn’t want a congressional inquiry into the violent January 6 attack. Gaetz declared the inquiry was “unwarranted,” and Raskin accused him of not wanting “to know the answer.” In denying investigations, Gaetz may have been thinking of the FBI probe into Gaetz’s alleged sex trafficking and other crimes with evidence, including witnesses.

The perpetually angry former assistant wrestling coach who ignored reports of his team doctor’s sexually abusing athletes, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), furiously refused to say the 2020 election was “not stolen” by President Joe Biden. Jordan claims he never said the election was stolen but that it should be investigated, later falsely saying that Republicans “condemned violence every stinking time” although many of his colleagues compared the January 6 attack to “tourists” in the Capitol.

Jordan again displayed his poor memory when he told the Rules Committee he couldn’t remember how many times he talked to DDT on that day. He repeated his statement that “it’s not about me” and testified that he didn’t talk to DDT “before or during” the attack.” Yet he told Politico in August that he was “sure” one of the calls was in the safe room where lawmakers were sequestered during the attack. Democratic lawmakers have suggested that Jordan may also be subpoenaed to testify before the January 6 Committee.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, also testified before the Rules Committee:

“Mr. Bannon’s and Mr. Trump’s privilege arguments do, however, appear to reveal one thing: They suggest that President Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6th, and this committee will get to the bottom of that.”

Cheney also directly addressed “my Republican colleagues”:

“Almost all of you know in your hearts that what happened on Jan. 6 was profoundly wrong. You know that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to overturn the election; you know that the Dominion voting machines were not corrupted by a foreign power. You know those claims are false. Yet President Trump repeats them almost daily.”   

McCarthy told all the Republicans to vote against holding Bannon in criminal contempt, but he might also be subpoenaed for testimony regarding his events on January 6. Last month, Sidney Powell, one of DDT’s lawyers to overturn the election, implicated both McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in the plot. She suggested the insurrection could delay the election’s certification until DDT’s lawyers could file a 12th Amendment case allowing state electors to change their votes to DDT. Buying time could allow Justice Samuel Alito to block the certification.

In another high-profile subpoena, the January 6 committee summoned Jeffrey Clark, the former little-known DOJ official who tried to overturn Biden’s election. It was the 19th subpoena leading up to the vote on Bannon’s criminal contempt charge. Clark had delivered a letter to George state legislators and others requesting a delay in the election results certification. Despite no evidence of fraud, he also wanted to hold a news conference about allegations of DDT’s claims about a “stolen” election. DDT and Clark discussed ousting the newly-appointed acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, to force Georgia to overturn the state’s presidential election results, according to former DDT administration officials.

Clark’s subpoena was the 19th from the January 6 Committee. Fourteen subjects have scheduled depositions, and three are “engaged. George Baron Coleman representing Ali Alexander, head of Stop the Steal, won’t be deposed. Alexander said he planned the January 6 insurrection with the help of Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Paul A. Gosar (R-AZ).

In the Senate on Wednesday, all 50 Republicans voted against the right for Democrats to vote on the Freedom to Vote Act. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) objected to an earlier voting rights bill and promised to write a bill that Republicans could support. He wrote the bill, it was presented, and Republicans voted down any debate on it in a filibuster for the third time regarding a bill blocking many eligible voters in the nation, primarily low-income and minorities, from democratically voting in elections. House Minority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the bill permitting eligible voters to participate in elections a “rotten core” and a “radical agenda.” He also claimed that requiring 60 percent of the senators to even discuss a bill came from the “framers,” which it did not. Unlike the past when filibusters required a person’s nonspeaking behavior on the Senate floor, a senator can just call in a filibuster while they are on vacation.

The “rotten core” McConnell claimed: a paper trail for ballots, Election Day a holiday, two weeks of early voting, no permission required for vote by mail, and automatic and same-day voter registration. the bill also prohibits partisan gerrymandering, require transparency in advertising, and protect election officials from attacks. The Federal Election Commission gutted under DDT would be rebuilt. The Senate has an advantage over individual states: the federal lawmakers must have 60 percent to pass a bill whereas state legislatures require only a simple majority. In the U.S. Senate 41 senators represent only 21 percent of the population. 

October 2, 2021

A Study in Contrasts

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
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The past week has been focused on legislation that the Republicans have been determined to block. A blog post from Heather Cox Richardson led me to contemplate how different the news is from the times when Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) was ensconced in the White House. She described the news from exactly one year ago. A major piece of news then was that DDT’s adviser Hope Hicks was diagnosed with COVID soon after she traveled on Air Force One. Traumatized by the news, the Dow Jones dropped 400 points. The day before, DDT had shouted and “snarled” at Joe Biden in the infamous presidential debate as his entire entourage refused to wear masks in violation of the mandate for the event. House later, the media announced both DDT and his wife, Melania Trump, were infected, and DDT was hospitalized, much more ill than the public were told.

Other news of that day from Richardson:

•A study of more than 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic between January 1 and May 26 showed that Trump was “likely the largest driver of…Covid-19 misinformation.”

•Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster, told MSNBC that Trump was “aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts” to disrupt the November election.

•We learned that Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, had not disclosed that in 2006, she signed an anti-abortion ad in the South Bend Tribune. It appeared near another ad from the same organization that called for putting “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade and restore laws that protect the lives of unborn children.”

•A tape leaked of Melania Trump complaining about having to decorate the White House for Christmas—“I’m working… my a** off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”—and then said of criticism that she was not involved with the children separated from their parents at the southern border: “Give me a f****** break.”

•News broke that Donald Trump, Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, had left the Fox News Channel after an employee complained of sexual harassment, saying she required the employee to work at her apartment, where she would sometimes be naked, and where she would share inappropriate photos of men and discuss her sexual activities with them. She denied any misconduct, but FNC settled the case against her for $4 million.

•The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief measure. No Republicans voted for it.

•Right-wing conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with four felonies in Michigan for intimidating voters, conspiring to violate election laws, and using a computer to commit a crime.

•Claiming he wanted to prevent “voter fraud,” Republican governor Greg Abbott of Texas limited the number of locations for dropping off mail-in ballots to one site per county. While Republican counties tended to have just one location already, Democratic Harris County, the third largest county in the country, with a population of more than 4.7 million and an area larger than the state of Rhode Island, had previously used 12. Democratic Travis County, which includes Austin, previously had four.

As Richardson wrote, “That was one single day in the Trump presidency.” She concludes:

In contrast, today, the Democrats are trying to pass an extremely complicated package, consisting of two major infrastructure bills, backed by different constituencies, that will alter the direction of our country by investing in ordinary Americans and revising the tax code to claw back some of the 2017 tax cuts the Republican Congress gave to corporations and the very wealthy. Although there is no guarantee they will pass, the bills are currently still on track, and all the relevant parties are still at work discussing them, exactly as one would expect.

What is the unusual piece in this process is that the other major American political party—the Republicans—is refusing to participate in the crafting of a major bill that is extremely popular.

This infrastructure package is huge, but it is hardly the only item in Biden’s agenda. In March 2021, the Democrats passed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package that has helped the administration produce more jobs in its first six months than any other administration in American history.

Not a single Republican voted for that bill; it passed while they were focusing on the ungendered Potato Head kin and the decision of the Dr. Seuss estate to stop the publication of some of Theodor Geisel’s less popular books.

The economy has recovered in large part because of the Biden administration’s enormous success at distributing the coronavirus vaccines to every American who wanted one.

Republican lawmakers have worked against this process, and today we crossed the unthinkable line of 700,000 officially counted deaths from Covid-19.

Now, the administration has begun to put vaccine mandates into effect, and they are working. Those who insisted they would never get vaccines changed their minds when employers and public venues required them. Today, California governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will require coronavirus vaccines for school children, along with the ten others it already requires, as soon as the Food and Drug Administration fully approves them for use in children.

Meanwhile, Republican-dominated state legislatures are following through on the voter suppression noted a year ago, passing measures to cut down Democratic voting and install Republican operatives in key election posts before the 2022 election.

As political scientist and foreign relations expert David Rothkopf tweeted: “Are the Dems the ones in disarray when they are crafting specific programs while the GOP offers up only cynical Tweets & obstruction? The only GOP agenda items are voter suppression, defending the worst president in history & when they have power, pushing tax cuts for the rich.”

For my part, I’m not sure what is driving the stories that seem to paint Biden’s work as a lost cause: The recent position that Democrats are hapless? That it’s safer to be negative than positive? That our news cycle demands drama?

Whatever it is, I continue to maintain that the issue right now is not Democrats’ negotiations over the infrastructure bills—regardless of how they turn out—but that Republican lawmakers are actively working to undermine our democracy.

That’s the difference between last year and this one. DDT wanted only chaos in which he was the center of attention. Biden wants people of the United States to have advantages that Republicans are focused on refusing them. DDT’s desire for authoritarianism and dictatorship led him to reject democracy, something that his supporters crying for “freedom” cannot understand.  


July 4, 2021

The 4th – “Christian,” DDT’s Ranking from the Bottom, Times Arizona’s Ballots Move

“What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” Frederick Douglass posed this question on July 5, 1852 before the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and ratification of the 13th Amendment. The original U.S. Constitution defined men as “White men” when declaring equalty.

Women couldn’t vote in federal elections until 1920 and lacked other rights until the last part of the 20th century such as obtaining credit cards in their own name. Females still lack reproductive health rights in most of the GOP states.  Indigenous people weren’t U.S. citizens until 1924 and couldn’t vote until 1947. Other ethnic groups were banned from voting on July 4, 1776: Jews until 1828, people with Asian ancestry until 1952, Washington, D.C. residents until 1961, etc. In 1856, North Carolina was the last state to allow non-property Whites to vote. Thus today people celebrate freedom for all on a date that permitted freedom only for property-owning White people.For most of the time since the Civil War, laws and violent actions by Whites stopped Blacks from voting in many parts of the nation. On the last day of the 2021 term, the Supreme Court permitted an anti-voting law so onerous that minorities and the poor will be stopped from voting in Arizona; the law can move to other GOP-controlled states.  

 In the 21st century, evangelicals are declaring the United States was created as a “Christian nation” to block others from fully participating in the “freedom” of the country. In 2019, Marjorie Taylor Greene, now a Georgia-elected House member, told Muslims Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashinda Tlaib (D-MI) they must retake their congressional oath on a Bible after using the Quran for the ceremony. Greene claimed the two women had performed an illegal act by not using a Christian Bible despite of the constitution demanding no “religious text.”

Fewer than ten years ago, the constitutions of eight states prevented non-religious people from being elected to office. Of three groups banned from holding office—ministers, atheists, and duelists—Tennessee plans to allow ministers to be elected. The constitution will not overturn the requirement of belief in God to “hold any office in the civil department of this state.” Duelists are still banned.

Christians, especially evangelicals, often claim the U.S. was founded as a “Christian nation,” using their religion to discriminate against groups such as LGBTQ. Yet they are wrong. Although people living in American colonies before 1776 were ruled by a religious nation, the British Empire, U.S. independence led to both religious and political independence. Even Baptists in the 18th century opposed government religion. In the 1790s, however, deism led to evangelical popularity, increasing in the 19th century and leading to the falsehood about a “Christian nation” to overcome secular principles within the nation’s founding.

Protestant Christian principles weren’t used to create founding documents and organize the government; these came from the Enlightenment, Whig, and classical republican theories for a secular governance. The U.S. became the first nation in history to have no religious disqualifications from officeholding and civil engagement, a legitimacy based on popular will and not a higher power.

Most founders were theological liberals who based the nation structure on a rational perspective. The few with more conventional Christian beliefs saw no conflict between faith and Enlightenment natural rights. The Declaration of Independence referred to rights as “endowed by their Creator,” but the U.S. Constitution has no reference to any deity except for the date “in the Year of our Lord,” added after the draft was approved at the Constitutional Convention. The text has no religious tests for officeholders, no national religion, and no interference with free exercise of faith, including lack of faith. Founders believed religion would corrupt the state and the state would corrupt religion.

The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli stated, “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The document was introduced by George Washington, signed by John Adams, and unanimously ratified by a Senate half-full of the constitution’s signers. Conservatives in the mid-20th century ignored the Founders’ wishes, adding “one nation under God” to the Pledge and “In God We Trust” as the national motto. Along came the National Day of Prayer and National Prayer Breakfast to keep conservatives happy. In 1984, Richard John Neuhaus converted from being a Lutheran minister to a Catholic priest, declaring Catholicism, declaring politics as “unavoidably a moral concept, and that means the religiously grounded moral convictions of the American people cannot be excluded from the public square.” Evangelical followers absorbed the fiction of the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” Some evangelical leaders’ lies:

  • Fifty-two of the original 55 signers of the Constitution were “evangelical believers.”
  • The First Amendment refers only to Protestant denominations, thus a “Christian nation.”
  • “We do not restrict other people’s right to worship however they choose to worship, but that doesn’t men we treat all religions equally… Every other religion [that Christianity] is an poster, an infidel.”—David Barton
  • Test oaths and Christian establishments in the earliest state constitutions still apply today.

On the 4th of July, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) became 4th—from the bottom—in C-SPAN’s Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership. Only Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan are below him. DDT is even five ranks below Herbert Hoover who caused the Great Depression. He did manage to achieve 44th—bottom—for Moral Authority and Administrative Skills. The GOP has made DDT the “leader” of their political party.

Barrack Obama moved into tenth place from earlier 12th rankings. Abraham Lincoln has ranked #1 since the survey started in 2000 as well as George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt in the next two places.

C-SPAN respondents were kind to DDT: In 2018, before COVID, DDT’s two impeachments, and the Capitol insurrection, a Boise State University survey rated DDT last. Even respondents identifying as GOP-leaning put DDT at 40th.

At #41 in competency, DDT hopes for a return to the White House in a fraudulent ballot count investigation in Maricopa County (AZ). Since the unknowledgeable company, Cyber Ninjas, undertook a “fraudit” of 2.1 million ballots over two months ago, the scandal continues, this one sexual harassment complaints by workers. Several women who complained about the harassment to management said management ignored them although witnesses and victims corroborated another victim’s account.

Complaints addressed more than one offender, but one man particularly cited in the complaint was kept employed for a month after management was alerted about his behavior. He demanded dates from women he considered attractive, engaged in unwanted touching, and made comments such as “you showing off your butt?” When he was rebuffed, he insulted them and made angry outbursts. A witness said:

“This issue seemed to stem from some type of anger over women having authority over him.”

The GOP Arizona Senate President Karen Fann released the following statement from the project’s “lead vendor,” possibly Cyber Ninjas:

“I have never received any written complaints of any type of sexual harassment, nor has a complaint like this been brought to my attention. The closest thing I can think of is I am aware of a single table manager who was cussing a lot, and had apparently told an inappropriate joke. We fired him immediately.”

For the 4th time, ballots and voting machines have been moved, this time to clear the coliseum for a gun show. In May, the workers had to leave for several days of high school graduations. Originally, the “fraudit” was scheduled for one week, starting April 23. A spokesman said the company has “a little more work to do.” An observer watching the process for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the chief elections officer, explained the delay may have been caused by workers trying to reconcile their own numbers. One worker asked why a sound process resulted in so many mistakes.

New procedures are constantly introduced as recently as this past week when workers started weighing all the boxes of ballots, supposedly to find more ballots. Ryan Macias, former acting director of certification and testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said:

“They are scrambling. They are tired. They are making mistakes. And the entire thing is chaotic.”

Hobbs wondered if the ongoing delays are to financially benefit fundraisers to obtain private funds supplementing the $150,000 in taxpayer dollars that the Senate appropriated for the process. Costs are now up to several millions, and Maricopa County must already pay over $6 million for new voting machines after the process compromised the old ones. She is also concerned about the safety and security of ballots as they are frequently moved, this time to a 19,000- square-foot exhibit hall at the fairgrounds building not temperature-controlled for July temperatures.

Last year, both state and federal judges rejected allegations of fraud or irregularities in Arizona’s vote after Joe Biden won the state by about 11,000 votes. In Maricopa County, hand recounts of randomly-selected ballots selected by both political parties and a forensic audit by federally accredited labs verified no widespread fraud. A QAnon film released last week, however, reinforces the GOP fantasy of a stolen election in Arizona.  

Enjoy your Fourth of July before Republicans kill democracy.

March 27, 2021

Georgia:   Republicans Opposed to ‘Cancel Culture” Decides to ‘Cancel Voting’

People who know nothing about the new voter-prevention law in Georgia are either hiding under a rock or watching Fox network. Passing legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in one day, state GOP legislators included a large number of provisions, all designed to destroy democracy and elect only Republicans. Yet they claim to try to prevent the non-existent fraud which could not be found by multiple investigations and court cases, many of them by Republicans.

The so-called “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” two pages long in addressing absentee votes, grew to 96 pages in the hour before the voting. Some provisions:

  • Allows state lawmakers to take over local election boards—meaning Republicans can eliminate votes they don’t like with their ability to certify results if Democrats win close race—something DDT failed to do in 2020.
  • Gives GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members to the State Election Board.
  • Removes the authority of Georgia’s secretary of state from any control over the election (because Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t find 11,000 for Dictator Donald Trump [DDT] to win the state.
  • Criminalizes photographing one’s own ballot.
  • Eases ability to challenge vote eligibility.
  • Prevents anyone from giving even water to people standing in voting lines even if they are forced to be outside for up to ten hours before casting their votes.
  • Blocks counties from having almost all ballot drop boxes during early voting, allowing them only inside early voting locations during business hours.
  • Removes drop boxes during last four days before an election, a time when mail-in ballots are most likely not receive in time.
  • Disqualifies provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. 
  • Makes counties responsible for deciding Sunday voting but permitted only twice.
  • Moves runoffs to four weeks after general elections with early voting reduced to one week.
  • Eliminates mobile voting vans to alleviate long lines in heavily Democratic Fulton County.
  • Sets up hotline to report election activities in the attorney general’s office.
  • Mandates certification of votes within six days instead of ten days.
  • Requires election voters to count ballots without stopping until they finish.

The only piece missing in the final bill was ending no-excuse absentee voting, a system allowing Republicans to win the elections until the past few months, but the stricter requirements for voter ID with these ballots again creates more problems for minorities and low-income people. Absentee ballots will be verified based on driver’s license numbers or other documentation instead of voter signatures. The law did reduce the time in which voters can request an absentee ballot to 11 days before Election Day and complicated the request process.

The Georgia legislature now permits the kind of voter fraud DDT demanded. In addition to begging Raffensperger for enough votes to win, he earlier asked Raffensperger’s lead investigator, Frances Watson, to find fraud in specific counties, promising she would “be praised” by finding “the right answer.” The GOP search for voter fraud was investigated only in states where President Joe Biden won. DDT pushed Watson to keep looking for votes in his favor until January 6, 2021, when Congress certified the presidency for Biden.

Georgia made more history when state troopers handcuffed state Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) and charged her with a felony for knocking on the governor’s door while he signed the law in the midst of six other white men. (Right: Cannon – Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Biden called the law an “atrocity” and said the DOJ is taking a look at it. He added:

“If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency—they passed a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote.”

The law directly attacks Black voters.They are more likely to vote remotely and less likely to have the required identification for an absentee vote, formerly allowed through signature-matching. Over 200,000 Georgia voters have no driver’s license or state ID number. The average wait time to vote in Black communities is also far more than in predominantly White communities.

Groups immediately began to file lawsuits against the new law, calling it an effort to impose “unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote.”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote: 

“The United States defeated the Confederacy, outlawed human enslavement except as punishment for crime, declared Black Americans citizens, and in 1867, with the Military Reconstruction Act, began to establish impartial suffrage. The Military Reconstruction Act, wrote Maine politician James G. Blaine in 1893, ‘changed the political history of the United States.’

“Today, as I looked at the photograph of Governor Kemp signing that bill, I wondered just how much.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is responsible for the draconian voting law in Georgia and probably other states. Eight years ago, he authored the majority opinion of 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder which trashed the Voting Rights Act protecting voting procedures from discrimination. Roberts wrote, “Things have changed dramatically [in the South].” He may be right—the South may be able to make discrimination against Democratic voters much worse.

Georgia’s new law is one of 253 measures in 43 states designed to keep the GOP in complete control no matter what. With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) determined to refuse any bills not supported by Republicans, H.R. 1, For the People Act, won’t be able to defend democracy through people’s right to vote.

Journalist Bonnie Kristian points out that a conservative (a real one!) should oppose Georgia’s law. Her definition of conservative is “someone who wants to preserve tradition and institutional stability, to thicken the thin veil that separates our society from chaos.” She quotes psychologist Jonathan Haidt as conservatives have five moral values: Harm/Care; Fairness/Reciprocity; In-Group/Loyalty; Authority/Respect; and Purity/Sanctity. Liberals have only the first two—care and fairness—because they value diversity over in-group loyalty and question authority and traditional notions of social and sexual purity. Georgia’s law fails in-group loyalty in self-governance, lying about trying to stop voter fraud; authority, by diminishing moral authority necessary in popular government; and fairness, the law being a dishonorable act. It is “shameless, disgraceful, a poor loser’s move … changing the rules of the game instead of putting in the work to win it as-is or accepting victory isn’t possible.” Now, someone needs to explain this position to the “conservatives.”

Republicans are working hard to get the subject back to what they see as Biden’s failure of immigration at the southern border. Toward that end, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took 17 friends, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in armored patrol boats along the Rio Grande for a midnight visit to prove abuse of migrant children. They were also looking for human traffickers taunting border agents across the “open border” and, hopefully, chaos and lawlessness. All they could say was that VP Kamala Harris, now in charge of the immigration situation, should come down to the border as well instead of working on a solution.  

As a British newspaper describes, the 18 mostly White, male Republicans left “Anzalduas Park Mission, on four Texas Highway Patrol power boats, bristling with machine guns, and armed officers.” A woman said she had been birdwatching in the same location where the tour created a false danger with “fancy camo gear and [a] ride in boats with guns,” according to writer Annie Hartnett. Asked about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants, Cruz bragged about his father coming to the county in 1957. Graham bailed him out by telling journalists they should talk to border patrol officers instead of politicians. Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said DDT’s promise to build a border wall caused a jump in crossings.

Next time, Cruz and his far-right colleagues might want to get protection from the birdwatchers. And they aren’t getting the focus off voting rights.

December 25, 2020

End of 2020: Light from the Dark

On Christmas Day, we should have good news. Here are pieces from the past few weeks.

President-elect Joe Biden has slowed down in making appointments the past week but found a highly qualified replacement for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Connecticut’s commission of public schools Miguel Cardona moved from assistant superintendent in a district of 9,000 students to this appointment in fewer than two years. Born to Puerto Rican parents living in public housing, he first taught fourth-graders before he became the state’s youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named the state’s principal of the year. Billionaire DeVos was educated in private schools, never taught, and focused on giving all her budget to private, preferably religious, schools. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called him a “very, very solid” candidate.

Cardona’s background includes working to provide technology while pushing to reopen schools during the pandemic. His concern on equity issues led Connecticut to become the first state to require high school courses in Black and Latino studies under his tenure. Biden wants to triple the $15 billion Title I funds supporting high-poverty schools and double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools, provide new money for school infrastructure, and increase federal spending for special education. He also proposed forgiving college debt and making community college free.

California’s governor Gavin Newsom has selected his secretary of state Alex Padilla to replace VP-elect Kamala Harris, making him the state’s first Latino senator from California. The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla went to MIT, the LA City Council, and the state senate, before his current job. He and Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) will join four other Latinos in the Senate. With Harris gone, the chamber has no Black woman, but in 26 days the U.S. will have a Black and Indian woman.

The Georgia runoff for two incumbent GOP senators heated up on the day after the general election in early November—court cases to suppress the vote and massive lies from the conservatives. A federal judge agreed on a settlement between civil rights groups and the postal service for measures to guarantee absentee ballots arrive in time for the January 5 election deadline. Georgia postal facilities are required to regularly sweep for undelivered ballots until the election and use expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots, and the plaintiffs agreed to not ask the Washington, D.C. circuit court for any other orders in their cases until after the elections. First class postal service during the past month has suffered serious delays because of Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts, supported by DDT’s DOJ, to dismantle the promptness of delivery services.

A Fulton County judge rejection of a lawsuit permits voters to continuing using drop boxes 24 hours a day until polls close in Georgia on January 6. The county, generally voting Democratic, has a population of over one million. The State Election Board approved the disputed rule earlier this year. Republicans also lost their cases to stop the use of drop boxes, block early processing of mail ballots, and institute stricter signature verification procedures. Plaintiffs were barred from filing new lawsuits, but they can still appeal. Another trauma for Republicans comes from the 76,000 new registrations, 57 percent of them under the age of 35.

Another lawsuit, also rejected by a federal judge, would have removed the ballots of new Georgia residents from the senator runoff in a misreading of the federal Voting Rights Act. That was followed by a demand to the removal of Dominion software and equipment from use in the Georgia election. Conspiracy theorists also claim people are racing to Georgia to vote Democratic.

Over 1.4 million people in Georgia, 132,000 more than in the recent general election, have submitted applications for absentee ballots, down only 4 percent from the number of mail ballot applications at this point in the run-up to the general election. The deadline for requests is January 1. On the first day of early voting, the 168,000 voters had a 27-percent greater turnout than for the first day of the presidential election. Since early voting began on December 14, 2020, 1.3 million people have voted in person, and another 721,000 absentee ballots have also been received. About 5 million people in Georgia voted in November.

DDT has attacked the U.S. people with over 60 lawsuits to disenfranchise their votes, but litigation is now directed at him, for example one accusing him and the GOP of conspiring to violate Black voters’ rights. The case goes beyond a cease and desist; it asks DDT and the RNC to obtain court approval before demanding accounts or other “post-election activities.” A federal judge order barring the RNC from “ballot security” activities was lifted only three years ago after in effect for 36 years. Claims of intimidation, threats, and voter disenfranchisement came from voter roll purges and payment to police officers for patrolling sites in primarily Black and Latino areas. The new lawsuit, under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act, charges the defendants of purposefully focusing voter challenges on cities with large Black populations.

Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, companies making election voting equipment, also threaten defamation charges against DDT’s attorney Sidney Powell and conservative media outlets, demanding retractions of false claims in rigging the election. Fox, Newsmax, and OAN already played the video refuting the fraud. DDT’s campaign told staffers to preserve documents in preparation for a lawsuit. Dominion’s lawyer, Tom Clare, won a $1 million verdict in a defamation lawsuit after Rolling Stone alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. The case was finally settled out of court.

Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems, in hiding after receiving death threats, is suing not only the lawyers but also the conservative networks and pundits along with evangelical radio host Eric Metaxas for “relentless defamation and ongoing threats.” Another defendant, Joseph Oltmann, founded a nonprofit and media business to uncover Antifa activists and also impugned Coomer. He has been branded a traitor to the U.S. a terrorist, and a criminal of the highest order.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel announced her office will file bar complaints against Powell, DDT’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and other lawyers who attacked state and local election officials as well as attempted to disenfranchise voters and overturn the election. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) also plans to file complaints against Giuliani and the other lawyers representing DDT and the GOP.

An attorney opposing one of DDT’s election fraud cases has also filed for sanctions against DDT’s lawyers.

Federal judges can sanction lawyers filing cases “for any improper purpose, such as to harass” or who press “frivolous” claims. They repeatedly called out Powell for failing to follow court rules and rejected her efforts to overturn Biden’s win. Attorneys’ ethics rules include similar language prohibiting lawyers from abusing the legal system and bringing frivolous claims.

Maricopa County (AZ) supervisors refuse to comply with subpoenas from the state Senate Judiciary Committee for over 2 million ballots cast in the November election.

A Delaware Superior Court judge threatened to revoke Lin Wood’s legal representation of DDT’s former adviser Carter Page because Wood’s Georgia suit had “no basis in fact or law” and his Wisconsin suit had “multiple deficiencies.” Page is suing Yahoo! News and Huffpost for defamation.  

Among DDT’s chaos in the past week, Robert E. Lee’s statue has been removed from the nation’s capitol. Virginia chose the traitor as one of its two designated monuments in the federal Statuary Hall over a century ago. He led the failed Confederate army during the Civil War and lost his plantation, now Arlington Cemetery. According to Virginia’s commission, a statue of Barbara Johns may replace Lee. In 1951, Johns, 16 years old at the time, led a two-week walkout protesting substandard educational conditions at her segregated all-Black high school. The following litigation became part of Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. Virginia’s General Assembly needs to approve the commission’s decision. Mississippi has yet to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, treasonous Confederate president, and Georgia still has treasonous Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens. At least six other treasonous Confederates are also honored in Statutory Hall.

A split Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled police must have probable cause for a crime to conduct warrantless searches in the state. Of the 2,000 searches a month, 80 percent have been on Black drivers, but police found contraband only 12 percent of the time.  

A Fairfax County (VA) judge ruled the portraits of White judges must be removed for a Black defendant’s proceedings because he cannot get a fair trial from the implied bias.  

The conservative Gallup poll finds that DDT’s approval rating has dropped seven points since the election to 39 percent. Congress gets 15 percent approval. By contrast, Biden’s approval rating at 65 percent is 27 points higher than DDT’s rating at his inauguration in 2016. He never reached higher than 49 percent approval during his four years and averaged 39 percent over the four years.  

November 7, 2020

DDT Golfs, Rants; Biden Goes to Work

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Today, the media announced Joe Biden as president-elect, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) played golf. Thus far, Biden reached 290 Electoral College votes with the extra 20 from Pennsylvania; Georgia leans toward Biden, and North Carolina toward DDT. Loser DDT scheduled few official activities since he spent unknown millions of taxpayer dollars campaigning throughout the country after he wasted his $1.1 billion of campaign donations.

Tonight VP-elect Kamala Harris set the tone for Biden’s presidency by saying “You chose hope, unity, science, and yes, truth.” Biden’s following speech gave the same uplifting messages with encouraging emphases on unity, family, recovery from COVID-19, a good economy, and diversity. Instead of DDT’s promises to support only his supporters and hatefully retaliate against everyone else, Biden said he would be a president for everyone.

With only 74 days left to damage the United States, DDT started by firing people for insufficient “loyalty,” starting with Bonnie Glick, Senate-confirmed deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to cripple the $31 billion agency during the pandemic and presidential transition. Her replacement for acting deputy is John Barsa, on his last legal day as USAID acting administrator. Mark Green, who quit in April, was never permanently replaced for Barsa’s former job of Assistant Administrator for Latin America. Others are Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. He also intends to dump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, CIA Secretary Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The White House polished off its losing week in the 2020 general election with another outbreak of COVID-19 of at least five aides, including Mark Meadows, DDT’s chief of staff, and Nick Trainer, election numbers cruncher. No one knows when Meadows tested positive because he told people not to tell anyone about it. He was with DDT on Air Force One for the 13-state campaign swing last Sunday and Monday and mingled with the 150 aides, family members, donors, and allies at the White House when DDT appeared in the dead of night to falsely declare he had won the election. Meadows told DDT he could win if he lied about voter fraud. Also arguing against mask-wearing and social distancing, Meadows said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic” on CNN’s State of the Union.

Satisfied with his reelection, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gone back to nefarious methods of keeping DDT in the Oval Office. With no evidence, Graham said the “allegations of wrongdoing” in Pennsylvania “are earth shattering.” The plot is convincing Republican state legislators to name representatives to the Electoral College who will vote for DDT instead of permitting these people to be chosen by the voters in the states. Far-right radio host sent out this call:


According to legal authorities Lawrence Lessig and Jason Harrow, the Supreme Court has already ruled against this plan. The spokesperson for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman reported declared the legislature will not be overriding the popular vote.

Steve Bannon, once DDT’s chief adviser and now indicted for defrauding “build the wall” donors, has lost his prominent lawyer after Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Bannon said he wants to put their “heads on pikes … at the two corners of the White House.” Twitter has also permanently banned him for posting a video of his statements, and YouTube removed his remarks.

The White House is going in three directions: (1) Aides are raging as they try to control DDT’s constant declaration of winning in the face of loss; (2) Meadows denies the possibility DDT can lose—and he’s sick; and (3) Other aides are out looking for jobs in an hostile environment.

The Fox network has supposedly told its “talent” to “stay away” from referring to Biden as the president-elect. Instead, they should talk about all DDT’s lawsuits contesting election results. The memo supposedly said the “votes must be certified” before Biden becomes “President-Elect” although the network used the term for DDT the day after the election. Fox denied the accusation, but CNN isn’t backing down. DDT and his aides “erupted at the news” after Fox called Arizona for Biden, but Rupert Murdoch refused to back down after he received a call to change the reporting. Over 500,000 Australians signed the petition to parliament complaining about Murdoch controlling 70 percent of newspaper circulation.

Yesterday, DDT tweeted a demand for the U.S. Supreme Court to discard 648,301 votes in Philadelphia with the allegation poll watchers could not monitor the counting. Some of his lying claims—including Republicans losing “zero races” in the House.They already lost 212 races with more pending. 

In Georgia, a man counting votes was forced into hiding after a video of him supposedly throwing away a ballot was on Facebook. The discarded item was actually a set of instructions. Another false Facebook post states ballots will be disqualified in Halton City if the poll worker writes on it. Texas law requires the poll worker to sign a ballot for authentication. And the lies go on.

On the Sunday before Election Day, DDT scrapped, the website access point for the Affordable Care Act, in Georgia. Residents must get their ACA health insurance through brokers or private websites also selling noncompliant coverage. CMS Administer Seema Verma lied about the website having “fewer options and skyrocketing premiums”; Georgia’s current uninsured rate dropped five points since the inception of ACA in 2013, and over 430,000 Georgians get health insurance through, mostly with premium subsidies. The state’s uninsured rate would be lower if the GOP had expanded Medicare for 240,000 people. Analysis shows the 25 percent of Georgia’s ACA employees, 50,000 people, who re-enroll in the same plan year after year will be forced to find new insurance. Georgia mandates work hours for health insurance in a recession with high unemployment and requires more money from state taxes while state budgets are severely strained.

The next day, DDT announced the 1776 Commission mandating “patriotic education at Federal sites,” places which already teach U.S. history. His executive order, however, wants his version of history to avoid the country’s racism. It also reiterates his establishment of the “National Garden of American Heroes,” including Audie Murphy which represent his version of heroes. To DDT, history is all about monuments. DDT’s order duplicates his attacks on critical race theory and the New York Times’ 1619 Project addressing slavery and contributions of Blacks. The project’s financial support comes from the under-funded Department of Education.

A president can revoke or change executive orders at any time. President-Elect Joe Biden is reviewing all DDT’s orders and planning to reverse some of them—the withdrawals from the Paris Climate agreement and the World Health Organization, repeal of almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and reinstatement of the DACA program, for example. Biden’s top advisers He has hundreds of transition officials preparing to work in federal agencies. On Monday, he plans to establish a coronavirus task force co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. Executive orders may become important to Biden if Mitch McConnell (R-KY) remains in charge of the Senate; as he did with President Obama, McConnell plans to block anything Biden wants to do, even confirming Cabinet members.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) summarized Biden’s initial agenda:

“Get us out of this pandemic that’s been made far worse by Trump’s bungled mishandling of it, rebuild our economy in a way that’s more sustainable and more inclusive, and deal with division and inequality.”

Biden’s first step is for DDT’s appointee as head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, to rule election results are final. Biden will take legal action if the decision is delayed. DDT still claims he won the election because of “illegal ballots.” Murphy plans to continue limiting access to government resources for the transition team as long as possible. DDT is now complaining about the bad transition when he moved to the Oval Office, but he threw away all the resources the Obama administration gave him.

Early in DDT’s term, people wrote letters about his sacrifice to take only $400,000 a year salary and give up his business. He never gave up his business, and Forbes estimates he made $1.9 billion from 2017 to 2019. And paid only $750 tax for each of two years. Details here.

Three days after Trump supporters claim COVID-19 ends on November 4: November 5 – November 5: 118,204 new cases and 1,125 deaths; November 6 – 132,540 new cases and 1,248 deaths;  November 7 – 124,232 new cases and 1,031 deaths.

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