Debt Ceiling Crisis 2021

It’s one of the most reckless, one of the most irresponsible votes I’ve seen taken in the Senate, and it should send a signal to every family, small business, market watcher, about who in this chamber is in favor of endangering the economic stability of our country,” said Schumer on the Senate floor, following the vote.

Schumer is right. A procedural vote in the Senate failed by a vote of 50 to 48. It solved two critical problems: (1) Extension of short term funding for the government and (2) Raising the debt ceiling limit. We’ve experienced the consequences of a lack of funding, as we’ve had partial shutdowns in the past. It is bad, but nothing in comparison to a failure to raise the debt ceiling. That is catastrophic.

My credit card has a limit. The debt ceiling is NOT analogous to the credit card limit. The reason is, the debt ceiling does not limit government’s ability to spend money. Congress separately authorizes the expenditure of money. The debt ceiling allows government to borrow more money it needs to pay for ALREADY approved expenses including pay for the military salaries and social security.

From the Washington Post, “Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said earlier this week that such a default would be unprecedented in U.S. history. Moody’s “best estimate” is that this date is Oct. 20, although Treasury has not given a more precise day.

At that point, Treasury officials would face excruciating choices, such as whether to fail to pay $20 billion owed to seniors on Social Security, or to fail to pay bondholders of U.S. debt — a decision that could undermine faith in U.S. credit and permanently drive federal borrowing costs higher.

Failure to raise the debt limit would have catastrophic impacts on global financial markets. Interest rates would spike as investors demand a higher rate of return for the risk of taking on U.S. debt given uncertainty about repayment. An increase in interest rates would ripple through the economy, raising costs not only for taxpayers but also for consumers and other borrowers. The value of the U.S. dollar would also decline long term as investors questioned the security of purchasing U.S. treasuries. The cost of auto and home loans would rise.”

I’ve written on this topic before. I suggested instead of calling it an increase in the debt ceiling, just refer to it as allowing the government to pay it’s bills when they come due.

Every single recent president has required Congress to increase the debt limit (see links). A new twist is simply to suspend the debt limit temporarily, allowing Republicans a way out of actually voting for a debt increase. It is a way to kick the can down the road.

It is estimated that the 2011 debt ceiling crisis cost the government 18.9 billion dollars in increase interest and credit downgrade which followed, resulted in the Dow Industrial Average dropping 2,000 points.

Yes, all Presidents including Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama and Trump, who proudly proclaim they were more fiscally responsible than Democrats (Bush GW was famous for “Read my lips, no new taxes”) all needed the debt ceiling raised to keep borrowing money. In fact, the one president who had to go to Congress the most, was Reagan.

My credit card has a payment date, and failure to make a minimum payment on that date, will affect my credit. That is the appropriate analogy. Failure to make payment of money the country owes on time will affect the faith and credit in the US government, something that can not be risked.

The political deadlocks on raising the debt ceiling are occurring more frequently, and it is very scary situation. I have no problem with Republicans who state that we should spend less on various programs, but this is all about money we have to pay. Full stop.

Moody’s Analytic report concludes, “The U.S. and global economies, which still have a long way to go to recover from the recession caused by the pandemic, will descend back into recession. In times past, lawmakers have taken strident warnings like these to heart, and acted. Let us hope they do so again. Soon.”

Put simply, we are making great progress recovering from the pandemic, despite some distractions from anti-vaxxers and it is a lousy time to shoot ourselves in the foot. It is pretty simple. We have no time for grandstanding or brinkmanship.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

History of Debt Limit Crises

U.S. default this fall would cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in wealth, study says

Senate Republicans block bill to avert government shutdown and extend debt limit

Covid-19 and the Delta variant

On July 31, 2021 there were 78,433 new Covid-19 cases based on the 7-day average. I use the 7 day average because it tends to smooth out the data. Presumably, for some states, when the daily data hasn’t been completely tallied, the state simply doesn’t report the daily data until the next day. On June 24, 2021, things look good with 11,662 new cases using 7 day averaging. A six fold increase in about 40 days. What happened? The delta variant for one. A slowing vaccination rate for another.

More opening up, relaxed masking regulations, and just people getting out and around for another. I was in a very crowded Miami airport. Although I was wearing a mask. I took it off to get a snack. Masks don’t really offer much protection to oneself as much as to cut down the chance of transmission to others. This is the logic of requiring everyone to wear a mask indoors.

As a country, I don’t think our goal should be some arbitrary value of % vaccinated, like 70 to 80%. It should be zero new cases, and we will see zero hospitalizations and zero deaths. That’s the long term goal, because the rest of the world is far behind in getting vaccinated.

It is well documented that the Delta variant is much more contagious. Fully vaccinated people can be infected with this variant, but getting vaccinated is still incredibly important, as it reduces the chance of hospitalization and improves the chance of recovery.

Nobody ever claimed that vaccines were perfect. The take away message from the surge in new cases is everyone should get vaccinate. There is a small group of people who have allergic reactions to vaccines. They need to consult their doctors prior to being vaccinated.

I live in Florida, and the trend on new cases is definitely bad. The more reliable values are the 7 day average which show 15,818 new cases. I suspect the daily number is really two days of data. The lowest was June 18 with 1499 new cases (7-day avg), so an astounding 10 times increase in around 43 days.

I’ve seen similar increases in many other states including Missouri, Louisiana and Arkansas. I have not seen dramatic increases in Covid deaths, but usually these increases show up weeks after the new cases spike.

What to do? Get vaccinated for one. Accept for now tighter regulations regarding masking. Avoid large indoor gatherings where some may be unvaccinated.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Brazil firm to produce Covid-19 vaccine for export

Hospitals in Brazil and India are filled to capacity. In Brazil, the number of new cases is about 61,000 (7-day rolling average). It is the last place you would expect vaccines to be produced for export to other countries. So, I would say the Covid-19 crisis in Brazil is terrible and a bit bizarre.

Brazil’s Anvisa agency rejected the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute. Anvisa in Brazil is like the FDA in the US, as it must approve all vaccines. Brazil was expected to receive 30 million doses.

Yahoo news reports, “União Quimica’s facility in São Paulo has been certified by Anvisa for good production practices and the Gamaleya vaccine will be made for export to countries that have approved it, said CEO and founder Fernando Marques.” I suspect the vaccine will be shipped to Mexico and Argentina. It is approved in India, and I’m sure they can’t wait to receive additional shipments.

The vaccine is claimed to be 91% effective. The Russian vaccine has been approved in 62 countries. The vaccine was really the first one to be approved, in August 2020, beating out Moderna and Pfizer. Russia was criticized for giving approval without sufficient Phase III trials, where the effectiveness could be reviewed by scientists around the world.

The European Medicines Agency is currently inspecting the manufacture of the Russian vaccine in Europe. I believe the Agency will give approval shortly, and this will make it easy for all European countries to approve.

The Russian vaccine is an Adenovirus vector vaccine, as are other approved vaccines: J&J, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Cansino. In the manufacture of the vaccine, the DNA of another virus (not Covid) so it can not replicate, but is capable of eliciting an immune response. The link below describes the vaccine as containing viral particles, which invades the cells and passes on specific instructions to the cells to build spike proteins. So these cells have enough in common with Covid, to get the immune system to defend against Covid. Very clever these scientists.

Anvisa rejection seems based more on the manufacturing of the vaccine, rather the science behind it. They claim that the batches of vaccine they examined contained replication-competent adenovirus. I’m stopping right here, because the scientists can battle this one out. It may be that some people getting the vaccine will have a mild cold, but they will nevertheless be protected from Covid.

The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. In Latin America, Mexico and Argentina have administered about 7 million doses, while over 12 million people in Russia have received the shot (see link from Wall Street Journal).

Anvisa was forced by a Supreme Court decision to rule on the requests of 10 states in Brazil for the vaccine. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the right wing politics of President Bolsonaro is a real element with this regulatory agency. They have no problem with approving toxic agricultural chemicals, which are banned in Europe.

Bolsonaro claims to be doing everything in his power to combat Covid-19. The solution is not with hydroxychloroquine or even worse ivermectin, but effective vaccines.

It is an appalling contradiction when millions of doses of Gameleya’s vaccine are made in the populous city of São Paulo (11 million residents) and shipped to other countries, when there is a dire need for more vaccines at home. The question remains- has Anvisa dug themselves a hole too deep for themselves get out of? I hope not.

This is a continuing story and I’ll update it as information is available.

Stay tuned,

Dave

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Links:

Yahoo News: European Medicines Agency experts beginning Sputnik V manufacturing inspections: Official

Science Magazine Blog: Brazil Rejects the Gamaleya Vaccine

Wall Street Journal: Brazil Defends Decision to Reject Russia’s Covid-19 Vaccine, Citing Safety and Efficacy

Brasilwire: With 400,000 Dead, Brazil Regulator Slammed For “Political” Veto Of Russian Vaccine

Bolsonaro advocates freedom (forget lockdowns and social distancing- and still promotes hydroxychloroquine!)

Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19 from US FDA.

Tucker Suckers

Tucker Carlson, Fox News Commentator

We are in a global war against the Covid-19 Pandemic. The safety and effectiveness of the vaccines at this point has been clearly been proven. It is a fact that those countries who have be able to acquire and distribute the vaccines to a high percentage of their populations are seeing the new incidences go dramatically down. It is also a fact that there have been extremely few severe reactions, on the order of one in a million. Over a billion vaccines have been administered worldwide. Medical workers and doctors got first in line with when the shots were available. Every living current and past president have been vaccinated.

Tucker Carlson. with Fox News, is not a journalist. He is a showman. Tucker Carlson promotes doubt rather than fact. This lets Fox News make more money. When he raises a long series of questions, it’s like a cliff hanger- tune in tomorrow as only Tucker can dig down and finally uncover the truth. It’s show biz!

He went way too far with several broadcasts on the vaccines in support those hesitant to be vaccinate. He claimed many more people are have severe reactions or die after taking the vaccine than reported in the mainstream media. Actually, as pointed out by the excellent reporting in the Washington Post, his statistics are just plain wrong because he is using a database, where anyone can report adverse reactions, and the connection to the vaccine is not verified.

This should not be political. Operation Warp Speed was responsible for the rapid development and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines under the Trump administration. Two Covid-19 vaccines were approved for Emergency Use by the FDA under the Trump administration. Trump and his family were vaccinated in January 2021, soon after the vaccines were approved.

Carlson speaks with great conviction. His facts are wrong. And those who watch and believe him, and don’t get vaccinated, may help in the continued spread of the disease. This followers should know better. I call them Tucker suckers, but perhaps Tucker victims is a better term, as some will get Covid-19, end up in the hospital, with very dire consequences, including death.

I know commentators want to impress their audience with “Breaking News,” not heard on other cable news stations. Well there is a reason in this case. Tucker facts are misleading or wrong. Others including commentators on Fox News, have recognized how extreme and reckless his broadcasts have become.

See further support in the links below. I know links from Washington Post may require a subscription, but they frequently allow some free views. CNN response is excellent.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Washington Post More than 3,283,000 people have died from the coronavirus worldwide

Washington Post, Tucker Carlson’s worst vaccine segment yet

CNN, Tucker Carlson’s Fox News colleagues call out his dangerous anti-vaccination rhetoric

John Oliver on HBO, Humorous as always, but I think he’s right on the mark May 3, 2021, but didn’t stop Tucker Carlson, with more broadcasts.

May 3 broadcast

Covid-19, Brazil and the World

In Brazil, the daily deaths due to Covid-19 made an all time record, of 2,286 on March 10, 2021.  These are people who did not make it out of the hospital.  This is four times as many people as four month ago.  This is real and it is scary.      Brazilian hospitals are overrun with new cases.  When hospitals run short of equipment such as ventilators,  more people die.

Deaths from Covid-19 in the world are trending down.  Only  about 1%  of the world is fully vaccinated.   The US is far head with 10% fully vaccinated.  Brazil has fully vaccinated only 1.4%. of its 211 million residents.   Note that reports of a 4% level of vaccination for Brazil is based on “one or more” vaccinations rather than the required two shots.

The progress in the world is likely a combination of vaccines plus stricter restrictions on travel and social gatherings in clubs, bars, restaurants, weddings, church sermons and  family re-unions.  Enforcement of mask wearing rules and social distancing I am certain helped reduce Covid-19 worldwide.

Brazil is going the wrong way in general, with the new record high.  I predict by May, they will be averaging 2500 daily deaths, with fewer than 5% of the population fully vaccinated.  Brazil accounts for 18% of all deaths from Covid-19 worldwide and may climb to 40% by May, 2021 (2500 in Brazil verses 6000 worldwide).

There is competition in the purchase of vaccines.  Brazil is now looking at ways to increase the supply of vaccines from China (see links below), while three months ago, it was hostile to the idea of testing of Chinese vaccines in Brazil in return for additional supplies. The efficacy of Sinovac vaccine (Coronavac) was reported to be only 50%, but it was 70% in preventing moderate to severe cases, which is very good.   The severe cases can result in death, particularly among my group (older males).    From everything I’ve read, Brazilians are ready to take the vaccine, but the supply is extremely limited.

Because vaccines are never 100% effective, the wearing of masks and social distancing are still required.  As long as there is a high rate of new infections, restrictions must stay in effect.   Biden last night delivered a powerful speech, in asking the American public to take precautionary measures to prevent a new surge in new infections.  Brazil needs to look on how it can best reverse course.

We will get rid of Covid-19 only by everyone’s action in every country in the world.  There is no magic pill.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-brazil-vaccine-idUSKBN2B21Y8

https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/biweekly-covid-deaths

(The bi-weekly data chart helps smooth out the data noise).

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56342303

Going Forward

Thirteen days to go. Time to fix windows and doors and get the Capital ready for January 20, 2021 inauguration day. I want no impeachment inquiry or silly talk of removing Trump by the 25th Amendment. The future of our country is with good leaders from both the Republican and Democrat parties, and this kind of talk is divisive and unproductive.

Some fine Republicans made excellent speeches of how it was high time to acknowledge the winner of the 2020 election because the people had chosen. Mitt Romney rose to the occasion with the simple words of “Let’s tell the people the truth.”

The first three priorities of 2021 must be Covid vaccine, Covid vaccine and Covid vaccine – in that order. Vaccines are the only way out of the health crisis. I live in Florida, and a new virulent strain of Covid-19 is gaining strength. I’ve spend every day searching a place I can make an appointment for a Covid-19 vaccine.

In Florida, I should have priority as I am over 70 years old. But I’m finding it impossible to make an appointment for a vaccination.

Miami-Dade County: Registration is currently closed. Please check back periodically as additional vaccines become available.

Jackson Hospital: We have booked more than 12,000 vaccine appointments. Currently all of our COVID-19 vaccination appointment slots have been filled, and we are not taking any new appointments at this time. Please return to this page routinely for ongoing updates as we receive additional vaccines.

I’ve read the same message for over a week. No Appointments!

Remember how we were promised that 20 million doses by the end of December would be administered in the US. The latest numbers from CDC are that of the 17.3 million doses shipped, only 5.3 million doses have received their first shot. I’m really afraid it is about to get worse, as availability of appointments could drop in half as the returnees for the second shots are given priority.

This should be treated as a national emergency. Donald Trump leaves in 13 days, with a disastrous vaccine rollout program. I am glad that Operation Warp Speed contributed 1.3 billion dollars to AstraZeneca, to produce the best vaccine available. We should be moving heaven and earth to get at least some of their vaccine in the US.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Hurricanes + Forest Fires + Global Warming

 

 

Global warming does not cause hurricanes and forest fires. Yet, it is a significant contributing factor to the extreme weather events like drought, floods, forest fires and hurricanes.  The photo on the left, is hurricane Laura and the one on the right is a forest fire in Siberia.  I could have made it more local, with a photo of fires in  California.

I have to say, my heart went out to the families having to evacuate from their homes in Louisiana.  Officials were right to require evacuation. I saw some really wonderful police officers and others helping people on buses.  More people die after a hurricane than during this one.

Fires have destroyed 1.4 million acres (2188 square miles)  in Northern California and the fires are still not under control.

 

Republican Convention Day 2

Watched it on several channels.  Liked it best on MSNBC when Raquel Maddow would cut in when she could, to correct blatantly false statements.   So what were the worse moments of Day 2 in the Opinion piece in the New York Times:

Mimi Swartz Tough choice, with the recently subpoenaed Eric Trump’s breathlessly praising his tough, incorruptible dad and the former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s smearing Biden family members. Runner-up: Mike Pompeo plays politics for Trump on a taxpayer-funded trip to Israel.

** Yes, that Pam Bondi who would not prosecute Trump University.

Héctor Tobar Trump’s signing a pardon and staging a naturalization ceremony, with grateful people of color. These prime-time acts of White House theater were a cynical attempt to erase years of race-baiting and anti-immigrant rhetoric. We haven’t forgotten, Mr. President: You’re still the same man who questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship, praised white supremacists and caged thousands of immigrant children.

** Immigrants are not props.

First Lady Melania Trump generally got the highest praise, as she offered her sympathy to the families who lost loved ones in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stay tuned,

Dave

New York Times

 

Upcoming Election

An incumbent president, usually runs on his achievements during the prior  three plus years.  But, much of what Donald Trump has claimed to have accomplished is not true.  From environmental issues, energy,  the economy and immigration, Trump has claimed credit for accomplishments during the Obama administration.  Trump also falsely portrayed much of his own administration’s efforts as successes, when in fact they were not.

The 20,000 lies that Trump has told over the last 3 1/2 years are quite incredible.  His version of a stupendous economic recovery in 2018-2019 is total nonsense.   The economy was not in collapse at the end of Obama’s term.  It definitely had crashed during George Bush’s last year, losing 800,000 jobs a month and it was President Obama had turned it around, adding about 200,000 jobs a month.  In fact, when Trump cites statistics on how well his administration has done, he typically goes back in time, to the date of his election (November 8, 2016) and not his inauguration date in 2017  just to steal some credit from President Obama.

In the upcoming blogs,  I intend to examine more closely the “three E’s”  – the environment, energy and the economy, plus I intend to  address immigration policy and the “build the wall” craze (it should be called enhance the “see-through fence” initiative).   Trump could brag all he wanted as a real estate developer.  Now he is getting caught every single day, in multiple lies.

Immigration policy is a real pile of crazy sh*t,  Sorry, I just didn’t know how to express this any better.  For months Trump kept bragging how great his policies were,  because apprehensions at the southern border were going down, 40%,  then 61% and finally 78%.   So, immigrants were not trying to sneak into our country, because they were afraid of being caught.  Of course, apprehensions started to rise,  and Trump again bragged that his policies were a tremendous success because they were going up.   Down is great, up is great, who cares, it’s all in the presentation?    In January 2020, the President celebrates great numbers on immigration again, this time apprehensions again were going down.   So, down, up and down again, all with dubious statistics, and all causes to celebrate the tremendous success.

I believe it is necessary to dispel the barrage of  false claims in order to establish the truth.   There is an enormous distribution system of false information.  Energy, environment and the economy issues are all intertwined.    The  “fake news” is often slick presentations, with selected facts helped along by industry lobbyist  groups.  Just one small example –  I saw on a cable news program, a clip showing barges filled with coal going down the Mississippi river,  and the newscaster was talking about how US coal exports had doubled since 2016, which is true.  Yet, in about 2 minutes, I could verify that US coal production had continued it’s steady decline during the Trump administration.  This rise in exports was simply that more coal was being sent overseas,  because the demand was dropping in the US.    Major coal companies filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and 2020, including Cloud Peak Energy and  Murray Coal.

So, I am preparing my first blog on the environment and more will follow.  I am always receptive to comments from my visitors, contrary to my opinions.  As usual, I will support my statements with links from the internet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Covid-19 infection mechanisms

Scientists are exchanging information around the globe.  I’ve heard anecdotal accounts of how patients  have seemed to be improving, and then suddenly have a turn for the worse.  The link below has a pretty good explanation for this.   The immune  system, according to the article below, designed to defend the body against invaders, can kick into overdrive and act  in a harmful manner (cytokine storm).  Children with a less developed immune system might not have this immune reaction hence they have more mild symptoms.  Thank God!

I think I’ll stop here, as it is better explained in the article below.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

Link:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/your-risk-of-getting-sick-from-covid-19-may-lie-in-your-genes?sref=MKhnhvyR

The Pullout of the World Health Organization is a Terrible Decision

Covid-19 is frightening and the human toll of Covid-19 already  is staggering: 134,000 people around the world succumb to the disease.  They died alone generally unable to breath. How high the death toll goes is uncertain.   Almost every country in the world lost lives to this virus.

What could be worse?  Every medical professional standing next to Trump knows the answer.  The CDC knows the answer.    Tuberculosis,   AIDS and malaria, really in that order.   Tuberculosis accounts for 1.2 to 1.4 million deaths in 2018.  It is present in urban areas of developing countries.   The 2018 estimate of HIV related deaths is 770,000.  For Malaria, in 2018, it is 405,000 deaths.  Malaria is deadly to children under 5 years old, as 262,000 children died of malaria (67% of the total).  In Africa, they say that average life expectancy is meaningless  as the big trick in life is getting past age 5.  Incredibly sad.

So, infectious diseases are ravaging the lives of the youngest and oldest in our society.  If one survives to age 5, the next challenge will be getting past 60.  Particularly bad in parts of the world where health services are just not available.

The World Health Organization allies with other countries to fight against infectious diseases, and public health issues regardless of politics.  It recognizes that the African countries, like Nigeria, where malaria is rampant, already was in a health crisis before the arrival of Covid-19.      World Health Organization is uniting efforts to find cures and vaccines for these infectious diseases.

And the World Health Organization is making progress, particularly against tuberculosis which is generally curable and preventable.  There are new challenges with drug resistant strains.

The current preventative measures, such as social distancing, closing schools and businesses and blocking international travel are only temporary measures.   And trying to isolate the US from the rest of the world is impossible without extreme economic consequences.

We absolutely need foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organizations working with health organizations in making our planet healthier.  We need cures and vaccines developed  through scientific cooperation.  Trump’s defunding WHO,  I hope, will  last only until November 2020, when we have a new president.   The  WHO isn’t perfect, but he is using it as a  distraction and scapegoat to the US problems with mess created when the CDC test kit debacle.  See NYT article.

We are “stronger together” and we need to restore our real leadership in the world.  It is time to increase global awareness- not isolate ourselves from the rest of the world.

Covid-19 is not a US problem.  It is a global problem.

A healthier planet = a healthier US.

Stay tuned and stay safe,

Dave

Links:

New York Times Opinion

Wikipedia: Tuberculosis 

World Health Organization

WHO:  Malaria

 

 

 

End of Covid-19

The disease won’t be gone until it is eradicated everywhere.  I could say this 100 times, and to some, it really won’t sink in.

Zero new cases in New York, Madrid, Moscow, New Delhi and Baghdad. It means the day the persons with symptoms are immediately tested, and isolated. If a vaccine is developed, it has to be applied globally.    That’s why we have the World Health Organization,  Doctors without Borders and many more international organizations.   The IMF, G-7 or G-20 will also be critical on how to transition from lockdown to more relaxed rules.

I’m so tired of hearing that it is the fault of China and/or the WHO, that we have it here.   After flights from China were canceled, flights were continuing from the real hot spots, namely Italy and Spain.  US travelers in Europe and China were, whenever possible, cutting short their trips to get away from the virus hotspots and were obvious disease vectors.   There will be plenty of time later for everyone to determine what we could or should have done to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  But it’s in 151 countries now, and it is a worldwide crisis.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Covid-19 Drive Thru testing in South Florida

The link below provides basic information on drive through testing in Miami, Broward and the Keys.

Drive Thru Testing in Miami

C.B. Smith Park site was closed after enormous lines.  A hotline for scheduling appointments has been activated.

CB Smith Park testing site closed for the day after long lines

It is  truly heart wrenching to know so many are in need of tests, and the delays in getting results can be a week or more.   There are faster ways to process the swabs,  but it takes time to get the equipment.

Start up home swabbing companies have stopped sending kits.   There are concerns of false negatives from home swabbing.

Things look bad.

Dave

Who are Schumer’s four witnesses?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has referred to the Senate hearings as a sham trial, as McConnell in the initial rules, rejected calling witnesses or issuing subpoenas for documents.  Yet, after the Bolton’s unpublished manuscript was leaked to the New York Times, the pressure to call him was definitely on.

There are two names I think everyone recognizes:  Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the White House’s Chief of Staff and John Bolton, former National Security Adviser.  Then there are two lesser known officials :  Robert Blair and Michael Duffey, both working for Mulvaney in different capacities.     I think if Schumer has his way, he would start with Blair and Duffey.  It would put pressure on Mick Mulvaney to tell the truth.   Just working up the food chain, of course.

Robert Blair: An assistant to the President, appointed by Mick Mulvaney as Trump’s Chief of Staff 

Blair, who was associate director for national security programs in the Office of Management and Budget, followed Mulvaney in January to the White House when Mulvaney became acting chief of staff. Mulvaney made Blair an assistant to the President. Blair serves as Mulvaney’s senior adviser for national security issues.  Blair’s hiring allowed Mulvaney to have a hand in national security issues without having to go through former White House national security adviser John Bolton. After Bolton was fired, one administration official said that Blair could be a favorite to replace Bolton because of his support from Mulvaney.

Blair was one of just a small group of officials on the line during Trump’s controversial phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Mulvaney was not.  During the July 25 call, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden — despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, in Ukraine. The phone call was part of a whistleblower’s complaint that alleged Trump sought “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the upcoming 2020 election, and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Trump has denied doing anything improper.

Before joining the Trump administration, Blair worked for the past 14 years as a staffer for several committees in the House of Representatives. His last position was staff director on the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. He previously worked as a regional adviser for Africa at the US State Department of State from 2001-2003.  According to his LinkedIn profile, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and two master’s degrees from Tufts University. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the mid-1990s.

Michael Duffey, OMB, associated director of national security programs  

Michael Duffey, a politically appointed Office of Management and Budget official, was given authority by the White House to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds.  Duffey previously served as executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.  “While career civil servants put an initial hold on the aid, Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs in OMB, was given the authority for continuing to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns to political officials at OMB, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Duffey also began overseeing the process for approving and releasing funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts, according to the report.  Trump’s order to withhold nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine in July is at the heart of House Democrats’ move to launch an impeachment inquiry into allegations that Trump used U.S. foreign policy powers to benefit himself politically.  Duffey, 41, left Wisconsin’s Republican Party in December 2016 when he was named to then-President-elect Donald Trump’s national security team at the Pentagon. He joined the administration when another prominent Wisconsin politician, Reince Priebus, was Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus held that post until July 2017.

What makes Michael Duffey’s testimony so important, is an email he wrote about 90 minutes  following   Trump’s  phone  call  to  Zelensky,   notifying  the  Department of  Defense,  that  a hold had  been  put  on  the  Ukraine military  aid,  and  given  the  sensitive  nature  of  this  hold,  this  information  limited to those with a need to know.  It further confirms the testimony of Sondland and others,  that it was a “dollars for dirt” deal.

This memo was released in December 2010 as part of a FIOA requestl

Stay tuned,

Dave