Trump Tells Supporters ‘You’re Playing Right Into Their Hands’ By Doubting the COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Former President Donald Trump confronted a crowd of supporters over vaccine skepticism.
  • Trump told his fans to “take credit” for the vaccines instead of being against them.
  • “You’re playing right into their hands,” he said during his tour with Bill O’Reilly.

Former President Donald Trump urged his supporters on Sunday to get a booster shot of one of the COVID-19 vaccines to protect themselves against the Omicron variant, telling them they were “playing right into their hands” by doubting the vaccines.

Sitting alongside the former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly at a stadium in Dallas, Trump touted his administration’s contribution toward developing the vaccines as part of Operation Warp Speed.

“Look, we did something that was historic,” he said. “We saved tens of millions of lives worldwide. We, together, all of us, not me.”

He added that without the vaccine, millions more people would have died from the virus.

“I think this would have been the Spanish flu of 1917, where up to 100 million people died,” he said. “This was going to ravage the country far beyond what it is right now.”

He then told his supporters to “take credit” for the vaccine, saying they shouldn’t “let them take it away.”

Click here to read the full article at Yahoo News!

The Richest Man In Town

Author’s note: I first published this piece in December, 2000. It has become a traditional Christmas column for me each year since then. Christmas blessings and new year full of success and happiness to all.

I’ve long thought It’s A Wonderful Life one of Hollywood’s finest movies. Not on technical standards, though the movie is well made. Wonderful Life is a great movie because of the messages it imparts. And though it is ubiquitous on television this time of year, do yourself a favor and buy the DVD to avoid the editing done for the tube. Avoid the colorized version like you would a root canal sans novocain. 

It is a rare person who is unfamiliar with the scene at the end of the movie, where all of George Bailey’s (Jimmy Stewart) friends and family have gathered round him to help him through his tough spot. That scene, to me, is the essence of a successful life, of a wonderful life — having those you love and who love you surround you with comfort when you need it most. 

I know from whence I speak. In September of 1998 I went completely deaf in the space of three hours one morning. I recovered my “hearing” in April of 1999 after successful cochlear implant surgery. During the seven months of my “Simon and Garfunkel” period (think “Sounds of Silence”), from September to April, and for the first few months after surgery while adjusting to the cochlear implant, I discovered how George Bailey must have felt. That very rough time was made much easier because of the support and love of my family and friends — delivered on a daily basis. 

In the last scene from Wonderful Life, mentioned above, George Bailey’s brother offers a toast that goes: “To my brother George, the richest man in town.” The toast is full of irony, as George isn’t rich at all in material things. Far from it. But he is fabulously wealthy in the things that really matter in life: faith, family, and friends. 

The most compelling message of Wonderful Life is why George had all those friends willing to rally around him. The answer lies in the way he lived his life. He looked out for other people, was always willing to help out, ever eager to do the right thing. He engaged in kindnesses that usually appeared trivial on the surface but meant a great deal to the people on the receiving end of them. It was the small things, the every day things, which made the difference. George Bailey didn’t change the world. But he did make it a better place, one person at a time. 

I learned the importance of small kindnesses during my deafness. In those seven months there were times I would get down, dispirited and stressed. Every time that happened one of my family or friends would call (thank goodness for digital readout phones), write, stop by, send an e-mail, or do some small thing that picked me up. It may have taken them 30 seconds and involved the most trivial of things — but it made my day, many times. In retrospect I can truthfully say that many good things came out of my seven months of total deafness. Among the foremost is my understanding that the little things can mean a lot to people in day-to-day living. 

I’m not talking about the moronic “random acts of kindness” mantra of the kumbaya crowd. What I’m talking about is specifically not random. Spur of the moment perhaps, but not random. I’m talking about premeditated acts of charity and love for those we know are in need of succor. Or even for those we only suspect are in need of it. I’m talking about appreciating the importance of taking time in our busy lives to do the small things — acts of friendship, for lack of a better description — that it is so easy to put off until “tomorrow.” 

Don’t do that. Tomorrow is promised to none of us, and the spirit of somebody you know may well need a lift today. At 9 a.m. on September 18, 1998, I could hear just fine. At noon I was stone, cold deaf. Tomorrow may not bring you the opportunity to help someone that today carries. While we are busy trying to do the big things in our lives, let’s not forget what George Bailey teaches us — that often we do the most important work of living just by being a friend — one person at a time. 

St. Theresa of Calcutta (Mother Theresa) put it this way: “Only rarely in our lives are we called upon to do great things. But every day of our lives we are called upon to do little things with great love.” I expect that sounds hokey and maudlin, yet I know the truth of it. During my challenging times I of course appreciated the “great things” done and grand gestures made on my behalf, and there were lots of them. But it was the small, day-to-day kindness and thoughtfulness that really got me through. 

Doing “little things with great love” can be a challenge, as it requires a humility that isn’t necessarily natural to us. Most of us, myself included, define a successful life in financial terms far too often. Following St. Theresa’s road will make the world better, but it’s unlikely to make you rich or famous. It probably won’t even get you noticed — except of course by the recipient of your thoughtfulness. 

But there are other rewards. Standing before the Almighty on judgment day, would you rather be able to say you helped elect presidents, senators, and governors, or that you helped mend someone’s spirit when that spirit was tattered? That you drove only the finest cars, or that you took the five minutes necessary to brighten an estranged friend’s heart? That all your sweaters were cashmere or that you comforted those who needed it with love and laughter?  That you followed the zeitgeist of the day, or followed the words of St. Francis; “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” These things certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but too many do not have them prioritized properly. As we celebrate Christmas, let us contemplate the message of the child born in Bethlehem. And as we do, let’s keep in mind the admonition of St. Theresa. Let us, by all means, do the great things that life brings to us. But let us, every day, remember to do the little things with great love. By doing so we can impact lives enormously, just as George Bailey did, one person at a time. It’s the secret to a wonderful life, and to being the richest man in town.

Manchin: WH Staff ‘Real Reason’ For Death of Biden’s Social Spending Bill

Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday he ended up killing President Biden’s massive social and environmental spending bill because White House staff drove him to his “wit’s end.”

“It is not the president. This is staff,” the West Virginia Democrat told home-state radio host Hoppy Kercheval.

“And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”

Manchin continued: “I’m always willing to work and listen to try. I just got to the wit’s end and they know the real reasons what happened.”

Although Biden negotiated with Manchin via phone and even hosted him at his Wilmington, Del., home on at least one occasion, there were protracted additional talks involving White House aides. 

Later in the interview, Manchin slammed fellow Democrats and activist groups who tried to “beat the living crap” out of him to win his support for the bill.

“They figured, ‘Surely to God we can move one person. Surely we can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they will just say, “OK I’ll vote for anything, just quit.”‘ Well guess what?,” Manchin said. “I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can beat the living crap out of people and think they will be submissive.”

Click here to read the full article at the NYPost

Congressional Maps Favor Democrats as California Completes Redistricting

WASHINGTON — The process wasn’t always pretty, but California’s redistricting commission has finalized its new map of the state’s congressional districts, largely sparing the Bay Area of major changes and overall favoring Democrats in the state.

The political boundaries that will dictate representation for the next 10 years will be officially transmitted to the secretary of state by the Dec. 27 deadline, paving the way for candidates to make final decisions about their futures by the March 11 filing deadline. The commission voted unanimously to approve its maps late Monday night.

The vote came after months of intense activity by the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four independents. The group decided to set out to draw the map from scratch rather than base its drafts on existing boundaries, causing a lengthy process that required many different proposals and changes based on public input that continued up to the last hours before maps were approved.

The decennial process is dictated by the results of the U.S. Census, which were delayed by the pandemic and litigation, shortening the window in which the commission could draw maps. Ultimately, California’s population grew at a slower rate than the nation, costing the state one of its 53 seats in Congress and forcing changes to the map.

The lost seat will essentially come from the Los Angeles area, where population growth in the state was slowest, specifically near Long Beach. The impact of losing the seat, however, will be mitigated by the retirement the lawmakers who represent the area, Democratic Reps. Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Lucille Roybal-Allard of Los Angeles.

In the Bay Area, there will be some changes, though none that fundamentally jeopardize incumbents. Most of the changes reflect population shifts, including increasing diversity. The commission found it had legal obligations to draw districts with strong Latino populations in the Central Valley and South Bay, as well as Asian American communities in Silicon Valley. Ultimately 12 lawmakers will represent significant portions of the Bay Area, up from 10 in the current map.

The area of Richmond and Vallejo will be a new seat in the area, which will be the likely landing place for Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, whose current Walnut Grove north state district has been largely broken up among neighboring districts. Garamendi announced his candidacy in the district shortly after the commission approved the maps.

In the South Bay, Fremont Rep. Ro Khanna’s district with a high population of Asian American voters remains largely intact, but neighboring Silicon Valley districts will see some changes. Democrat Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s San Jose district expanded significantly south to include agricultural and Latino communities south of Gilroy in San Benito and parts of Salinas. Central Coast Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Carmel Valley, will also join the Bay Area delegation, as his district anchored by Monterey will expand to include some of South San Jose.

Click here to read the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle

Manchin Kills Build Back Better and Gives Nation – and Republicans – A Big Win

In chess, a gambit is when a player sacrifices a piece, usually a pawn, early in a game to obtain some larger competitive advantage. We can now say that the 13 Republicans who voted in early November to pass the infrastructure bill pulled off one of the most effective political gambits in recent memory. 

When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., confirmed on Sunday that he is a no vote on the gargantuan Build Back Better spending bonanza, essentially killing it, it was vindication for the much-pilloried moderate GOP votes for infrastructure.

To be sure, there was much to object to in the infrastructure bill, from electric charging stations to tree equity, but for all its faults, there was also a lot of hard infrastructure in the legislation. Nineteen Republicans voted for it in the Senate, and it was widely popular with voters. Put another way, politically, sacrificing by conceding on the infrastructure bill was like giving up a pawn.

BIDEN, DEMOCRATS FACE A BLEAK FUTURE AFTER SQUANDERING THE LAST 11 MONTHS

Build Back Better, on the other hand, was the queen of Biden’s domestic agenda, a bill so far-reaching that it threatened to encroach upon every corner of the chess board of American life. And how did House Republicans topple that queen? Precisely by decoupling the infrastructure bill from Build Back Better. 

Let us not forget that throughout the summer and fall House progressive Democrats, most notably the Squad, held the passage of the infrastructure bill, Manchin, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s baby, in the palm of their hands. They demanded that the bills be passed together. It looked as though we were surely headed to some compromise that would pass infrastructure and also pass wide swaths of the social spending package.

But when infrastructure passed with GOP votes the House progressives were left out in the cold to kick rocks. Their leverage evaporated in an instant. And yet still, at least to hear Speaker Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., and President Joe Biden talk, it seemed likely some compromise would emerge on Build Back Better. That the president’s domestic agenda just crumbled into dust is the most total victory Republicans could have hoped for.

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Electorally, the baker’s dozen of supposed GOP “traitors,” who flanked the Squad and ate their lunch, are all in better positions to hold their mainly purple districts in 2022. One race that is typical is in Staten Island and Brooklyn where Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis will face a rematch against former Congressman Max Rose. A no vote on infrastructure would have been hammered by Rose, as the bill brings a lot of money and jobs to the district. That line of attack is gone now.

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

USC Student ‘Diversity’ Senator Under Fire for Tweet Threatening to Kill Zionists

A student “diversity” representative at the University of Southern California is under fire for a series of explosive tweets, including one that threatened to kill “every motherf–ing Zionist.”

Yasmeen Mashayekh, a “diversity, equity and inclusion” senator to the Viterbi Graduate Student Association posted the now-deleted tweet in May, according to Fox News.

The USC student has a history of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel tweets including one from June that said: “If you are not for the complete destruction of Israel and the occupation forces then you’re anti-Palestinian,” according to Fox.

She has also tweeted her support for Hamas, whose military wing is considered a terrorist organization. In May, Mashayekh tweeted “Yes I f–king love hamas now stfu,” Fox said.

“Zionists are going to f–king pay,” she reportedly said in a tweet on June 21.

Mashayekh doubled down on her tweets on a podcast by Palestine in America on Dec. 2, saying she feels no obligation to apologize.

More than 60 current and former USC faculty members drafted a letter to the school’s leadership, calling on them to “publicly and explicitly rebuke Yasmeen Mashayekh for her offensive behavior and to distance USC from her hateful statements.”

Click here to read the full article at NYPost

Did California Get Its Money’s Worth From $1.7 Billion COVID Test Contract?

The Valencia lab, a public-private venture between the state and PerkinElmer, processed only 1 to 8% of all Californians’ COVID tests in the first 10 months of the contract. And the lab was riddled with dozens of problems, according to an inspection report.

A patient sample that wasn’t processed for more than 30 days. A test used without proper validation of its accuracy. Patient results changed without notification. Safety and disinfection procedures called into question. 

These are just a few of the myriad problems at the Valencia Branch Laboratory, a public-private COVID-19 testing lab operated by PerkinElmer that the California Department of Public Health hired in a no-bid, $1.7 billion annual contract.

An inspection report released last month by the health department outlines major problems dating back further than a year ago, raising new questions about how the state is spending taxpayer dollars to combat the pandemic. The report shows the lab has routinely underperformed, failing to meet the contract’s goals for turnaround times and numbers of processed tests. But the state auto-renewed the year-long contract at the end of October.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials say the laboratory has been crucial to expanding the state’s testing capacity for schools and underserved communities. 

But California’s two largest school districts — Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified — aren’t relying on the lab because it was unavailable when they needed it. 

A CalMatters analysis shows each test at the PerkinElmer Valencia lab costs the state more than three times the amount the Los Angeles Unified pays a Bay Area startup, SummerBio.

Already, the state has paid more than twice as much to PerkinElmer for 5.5 million tests as LA Unified’s total projected $350 million cost for the entire school year. The school year is less than half complete, but LA Unified already has administered 7.4 million COVID tests while never using the state’s PerkinElmer lab.

In the 10 months following its October 2020 opening, the lab processed between 1 and 8% of all COVID-19 tests administered in California each week, according to available data archived by CalMatters. During the first week of December, the lab processed roughly 8.5% of California’s tests, according to the most recently available data.

PerkinElmer, a global testing diagnostic company, did not respond to a request for comment about the cost of the testing and the reported problems at the lab.

“CDPH probably should have canceled (the contract) because honestly, there’s other vendors out there. They’re doing it for a lot less money more efficiently.”

STATE SEN. SCOTT WILK

State health department officials, in an unsigned statement in response to questions, said the PerkinElmer contract was renewed because of the potential for a winter surge and continued need for testing.

But the health department’s report, which was released eight months after officials indicated it would be completed, revealed that inspectors from the state’s Laboratory Field Services threatened sanctions for major deficiencies just 10 days before the contract was renewed.

The state public health department “probably should have canceled (the contract) because honestly, there’s other vendors out there. They’re doing it for a lot less money more efficiently,” Republican Senate minority leader Scott Wilk, who represents the area surrounding Valencia, told CalMatters. 

Wilk has been the most outspoken critic of the contract, repeatedly calling on the Newsom administration and the health department to halt the auto-renewal. Wilk said his office is working on a proposal to reform the no-bid contracting powers that the Legislature granted Newsom at the beginning of the pandemic. 

“I think there have been abuses there,” Wilk said. 

Public health experts and advocates say despite the lab’s troubles, it provides critical testing for smaller school districts, rural counties and underserved communities. Roughly 62% of tests processed at the lab are from communities of color, with about a third from the state’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, based on the California Healthy Place Index.

In Madera County, for instance, the lab allowed the county and its partners to ramp up testing in a speedier time frame. 

“Valencia has been a net positive for Madera County. Residents would have been at a significant disadvantage without the combination of the Valencia lab and state contracts like the one with OptumServe,” said Sara Bosse, Madera County’s public health director.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

California Redistricting Commissioner Misses Key Meetings

On the day California’s independent redistricting commission approved and released to the public long-awaited draft political maps, one of the panel’s 14 members was missing for the bulk of the key meeting.

Commissioners spent seven hours on Nov. 10 reworking draft legislative, congressional and board of equalization lines that, once finalized, will be used for the next decade. Antonio Le Mons, a No Party Preference commissioner from Studio City who now has a Rancho Mirage address, logged on late and didn’t participate in the process, video recordings and transcripts show. But before voting to approve the draft lines, he congratulated his fellow commissioners for the accomplishment.

“I’m very proud to have been a part of this process with my fellow commissioners,” he said. “This has been quite a journey in the heart of a pandemic, and I think we should all feel very good.”

This wasn’t the first time Le Mons logged on late or missed a meeting before important deadlines. The commission has marked Le Mons absent for roll call in 16 of 44 hearings since October, as members met for marathon line-drawing sessions. Commissioners have until Dec. 27 to send certified maps to Secretary of State Shirley Weber before they’re used in 2022 statewide elections.

Sometimes, as happened on Nov. 10, Le Mons was marked absent during roll call before arriving late. The commission, according to spokesperson Fredy Ceja, records attendance only to establish a quorum at the start of a meeting.

The nonpartisan panel comprises five Republicans, five Democrats and four No Party Preference voters selected during a lengthy process that began in 2019. Commissioners are charged with drawing lines using census data that “provide fair representation for all Californians” under ballot measures voters approved in 2008 and 2010 to strip the Legislature of redistricting power.

Le Mons’ commissioner profile outlines 25 years of nonprofit and private sector leadership. He’s listed as the chief operating officer of the Skid Row Housing Trust, a Los Angeles-based organization that helps homeless, disabled and poor people, along with those struggling with drug addictions, to find permanent shelter. Le Mons is also, according to his commissioner biography, a former member of the California Assn. of Marriage and Family Therapists. He now runs a personal coaching and consulting firm.

He is also a co-star on streaming channel Fox Soul’s “The House,” a show that premiered Oct. 8 and focuses on Black LGBTQ issues. It’s unclear when filming began or if it coincided with commission responsibilities.

Most commissioners have missed a meeting, and some more than one, though it’s difficult to determine how many under the commission’s record-keeping system. Certain members also participate more than others, and many turn off their cameras during meetings. Republican commissioner Derric Taylor was marked absent for nearly as many meetings — 14 — as Le Mons over the last few months. Ceja said Taylor started a new assignment with additional responsibilities in his role at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Ceja said he did not know why Le Mons had missed meetings.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

‘Big Lie’ Proponent John Eastman Uses Christian Crowdfunding Site To Raise Money For His Legal Bills

A lawyer who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally, spreading the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, is now using a Christian crowdfunding site to raise money for his legal fees. 

Originally, John Eastman set a $100,000 goal for the fundraiser on GiveSendGo. Upon reaching that objective in just a week, he upped the target to $150,000. He’s now topped that amount by $271, having raised money from 2,179 donors. The crowdfunding site which launched around 2014, says it is “meant to give Christians the opportunity to be supported by the body of Christ.”  

An attorney and former dean of Chapman University’s law school, Eastman represented Trump in legal challenges to the 2020 election. In November, the House’s Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Eastman. Earlier this month, he declined to testify, asserting his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, according to Politico, which cited a letter Eastman’s attorneys sent the committee. 

Click here to read the full article at Forbes

California Democrats Embrace Tough-On-Crime Rhetoric

“It is time that the reign of criminals who are destroying our city … come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement … and less tolerant of all the bulls—t that has destroyed our city.”

“We need to … ensure that those who commit crime are held to account and that no one gets a free pass.”

“The need for a system that can … alert law enforcement to vehicles associated with violent crime, in real time, has never been more apparent.”

“Once we had the issue of a lot of folks coming to Melrose to do crime, we said, ‘We have to hit this with everything we have,’ so we put in some extra funding.”

“I will not wait out this holiday season and let these organized groups continue to believe they can prey on California shoppers and retailers with no repercussions.”

These Tuesday comments did not come from Fox News commentators or even California conservatives. They came from California Democrats — San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks, respectively — signaling a definitive shift in the party’s approach to crime ahead of the 2022 elections.

Case in point were the politicians’ Tuesday announcements:

The tough-on-crime rhetoric comes amid a sea of sobering statistics: Oakland police on Monday announced they’re investigating the 131st homicide of the year — the city’s highest total in a decade. And a Tuesday report from the Public Policy Institute of California found that homicides, aggravated assaults and violent and property crime rates in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco are all up in 2021 compared to last year.

Also cracking down on crime is the state Employment Development Department, which announced Tuesday that it has suspended payments on certain disability insurance claims and is subjecting medical and health providers to increased vetting to halt “a recent move by organized criminal elements to file false disability insurance claims.” The department, which has already confirmed paying at least $20 billion worth of fraudulent claims, said its actions would help prevent “further fraud” but could result in longer wait times for legitimate claimants.

This article originally appeared on CalMatters