On the first full day he has been free from COVID President Joe Biden traveled to Kentucky, the home state of the Senate Republican Minority Leader, to visit with flood survivors devastated by lost lives and lost property.
On August 1, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the historic floods had killed 37 people. Hundreds more were unaccounted for.
“I still have aunts and uncles that are stuck in hollers. They are diabetics. They need insulin,” Knott County resident Zack Hall said to CNN the following day, August 2. “I went to visit one yesterday — was lucky enough to get up there (and deliver supplies) with an ATV. But there was no road … and that’s what people need to understand, is the infrastructure here is just completely destroyed and it makes relief efforts [difficult].”
On Monday, six days later, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden flew down to Kentucky, where they were met by Gov. Beshear. The President, the governor, and the First Lady toured the devastation as President Biden spoke privately and on camera with survivors.
Conspicuously absent? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky. Neither according to reports have toured the devastation.
Not absent was public support for the President and public outrage for the two Kentucky Republicans.
“I’m a Kentuckian born and raised,” wrote former pro-basketball player Rex Chapman, now a social media influencer who has played on four NBA teams. “It is absolutely mind boggling to me that Joe Biden has been to visit families of eastern Kentucky who’ve been absolutely devastated by floods — and Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul haven’t.”
Chapman’s remarks were in response to this video of President Biden in Kentucky on Monday.
Biden, speaking to victims of flooding in Kentucky, is very good at speeches like this pic.twitter.com/0KO9ZgMi2M
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2022
In. it, Biden says the survivors he talked to are “not just Kentuckians, they’re Americans.”
“This happened in America,” Biden said forcefully. “And everybody has an obligation to help.”
“I promise you,” He told the survivors, “we’re staying, the federal government along with the state and county, we’re staying until everybody’s back to work.”
And he promised they would not just be made whole, but “better than they were before.”
Biden: “I don’t want any Kentuckian telling me ‘you don’t have to do this for me.’ Oh yeah we do. You’re an American citizen. We never give up … alright, now, we’re all gonna run laps.” pic.twitter.com/mQ1VgbEtUi
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 8, 2022
Chapman added, “Biden has had COVID – and the second he could go to Kentucky he went. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell live there and they couldn’t be bothered.”
Award-winning political and communications strategist Greg Pinelo weighed in, writing: “Noting for the record, Joe Biden went to the disaster zone in Kentucky before either Mitch McConnell or Rand Paul. They’ll say they were busy voting against climate change action and making insulin affordable, but it’s been 8 days.”
Coincidentally, Biden and the Democrats on Sunday capped the price of insulin for Medicare patients at $35 and passed the largest bill to address climate change in history. Republicans killed an legislation that would have capped the price at $35 for all Americans. Earlier in his term President Biden signed into law a huge infrastructure bill that would help prevent flooding and create roads and bridges that would withstand heavy flooding.
This isn’t the first time McConnell and Paul were MIA as President Biden toured natural disaster devastation. In mid December last year Biden traveled to Dawson Springs, Kentucky, to visit with survivors of massive tornado damage.
One day later award-winning writer Chip Franklin tweeted, “Who else thinks its reprehensible Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul refused to accompany President Biden in Kentucky?”
Noting Biden isn’t doing this to score political points, attorney Adam B. Bear wrote Monday: “The last time Kentucky voted for a Democrat in a Presidential race was for Bill Clinton in 1996. Not to forget about Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul… Regardless, President Biden is in KY consoling people whose lives have been upended by a terrible storm.”
Others on social media also blasted McConnell and Paul.
Journalist Aaron Rupar noted, “Biden lost Kentucky by 26 points. He works for Kentuckians all the same, as any solid president should.”
“Rand paul? Mia,” tweeted one user, noting Sen. Paul is missing in action. Her bio says she’s a “life long republican. US Navy vet,” and “unabashed anti trump.”
“Mitch McConnell? Mia. The dude with the paper towels?” she added, referring to President Donald Trump’s disastrous visit to hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico, “Mia.”
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Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report
When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.
The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.
Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”
It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticketed via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”
“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”
CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”
Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.
‘Breathtaking’: Economists Stunned by Job Growth ‘Boom’ as Unemployment Drops to Level Not Seen Since 1969
The year was 1969: Congress certified the results of the election, officially declaring Richard Nixon would be the 37th President of the United States, Joe Namath led the New York Jets to win Super Bowl III, The Beatles released the soundtrack from their hit film “Yellow Submarine,” and unemployment was 3.4%.
It’s been 54 years since unemployment was at 3.4%, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released January’s report Friday morning, stunning economists who expected unemployment to go up, not down.
Economists projected 187,000 new jobs would be added to the U.S. economy in January. Instead, the number came in at 517,000, Forbes reported. Prior months were also adjusted to be better than first reported.
“This is a breathtaking number. That spike in stories about layoffs? It was about a small unrepresentative slice of the economy. Real America is still getting back to work,” crowed Professor Justin Wolfers, the popular University of Michigan School of Economics professor, a senior fellow at Brookings.
“Average job growth over the past 3 months is a cracking +356k. A boom!” Wolfers cheered.
“We haven’t seen unemployment this low since before Woodstock, baby,” he added. “Groovy.”
Wolfers wasn’t done. He blasted those who continue to talk about recession: “This is a final nail in the coffin of all the 2022 recessionistas. When average job growth is this high we call it a BOOM.”
For those who just want the bottom line, Wolfers offered this take on the jobs report: “It’s all good news.”
“January marked the 25th straight month of solid job growth,” The Washington Post reports, observing that the “labor market shattered expectations.” The Post adds: “the labor market remains formidable, inflation is beginning to normalize and there are signs that the global economy may be on stronger footing than originally feared.”
Image: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy, Thursday, January 26, 2023, at Steamfitters Local 602 United Association Mechanical Trades School in Springfield, Virginia. Official White House Photo by Erin Scott via Flickr
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