Nel's New Day

January 14, 2018

Fill the Swamp

All presidential nominations expired at the end of 2017, but these are some people Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants for his legacy.

Appointments:

Robert Weaver, nominee to head up the $6 billion federal agency Indian Health Service (HIS) overseeing medical care for over two million Native Americans, has been found to “misrepresent” his work at St. John’s Regional Medical Center (Joplin, MO) in Senate confirmation hearings. He described his “entry level” job as “variously hospital administration positions.” Copies of his employment records were destroyed in a tornado, but no one at the hospital at that time can remember him. Asked about his IHS experience, a DHS spokeswoman said Weaver needed the system as a child.

Andrew Wheeler has reemerged as nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA. Called “overwhelmingly unfit for such a crucial position,” he worked for the lobbying company that supported Murray Energy in erasing environmental regulations at EPA. Wheeler is accompanied by other unfit nominations, including Kathleen Hartnett White, head of Council on Environmental Quality; Barry Lee Myers, head of NOAA; and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), administrator of NASA. White, for example, thinks that science should not “dictate policy.” Lee owns a weather company and hopes to privatize NOAA. Bridenstine has no scientific credentials and wants to defund research into climate change which he denies.

Thomas Homan, acting head of ICE and nominee for Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, was picked by DDT because he looks “nasty” and “mean.” Some of his outstanding features:

  • He arrested both parents with a sick infant and a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy on their way to the hospital as well as arresting a transgender domestic abuse survivor at the courthouse where she was requesting a protective order against her abusive ex-partner.
  • He supervised a department allowing the removal of medications of a Dreamer before ridiculing him for his disability and failing to investigate thousands of sexual assault complaints by detained immigrants. ICE agents have given people unnecessary strip searches, forced them to eat moldy food, and denied pain medication for debilitating diseases.
  • He told DOJ that he wanted to sue and possibly imprison anyone responsible for complying with any of his agency’s demands.

Until DDT came into his life, Homan didn’t seem to be an extremist; he was set to retire. Obama officials say, “None of us recognize this guy.” Criticized by ICE hardliners, he switched to being tough and unyielding—just what DDT wants.

Kevin McIntyre, long-time corporate attorney for energy companies, was appointed as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC), the nation’s top energy regulatory agency with no need to be confirmed. This past week FERC, with four DDT appointments of five members, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to support struggling nuclear and coal power plants. Perry wanted utility companies to pay all plants, no matter how obsolete, “for all their costs and all the power they produce, whether those plants are needed or not.” FERC also supported the right of New York state to oppose the Constitution Pipeline. Other states—Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania—are also opposing pipelines on the basis of their impacts. Nebraskans are again appealing the route that the state Public Service Commission picked for the Keystone Pipeline.

Marie Royce, wife of the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been nominated for assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) announced his retirement from Congress at the same time. He is the eighth committee chair and the 31st House Republican to resign thus far. Term limits would cause him to lose the chair position. Believing he could not win, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is another of the Republicans leaving the House  although it is rumored that he might run in an adjoining district if GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigns. Hunter suffers from ethics investigations for misuse of campaign funds but says he doesn’t plan to resign.

Taylor Weyeneth, a 24-year-old former low-level campaign worker, is being elevated from deputy “drug czar” to a White House liaison role with the agency that coordinates the government’s multibillion dollar anti-drug initiatives and the opioid epidemic curbs.

On the Judicial Side:

In a confirmation hearing this past week for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court, Kurt Engelhardt defended two of his rulings against women in sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination cases. In one case, a Rite Aid employee said that male co-workers brushed up against her, cupped her breasts, and asked to go home with her. Engelhardt rejected the case because the harassment was neither “severe nor physically threatening and the plaintiff liked her job and performed well in it.” When asked about whether “cornering an employee [is] not physically threatening?” Engelhardt waffled for a while before he said he did not remember the specifics of the case.

In another case, a woman was fired two weeks after giving birth following bed rest for the last 16 weeks of her pregnancy because of complications. She declared discrimination because a male colleague was not fired although he took medical leave for the same length of time because of a gangrenous toe. Engelhardt ruled for the employer because “the fact that plaintiff’s absence was cause of pregnancy does not dispense with the general requirement that employees must show up for work.” In the hearing, he said that he didn’t remember the specifics of that case either although his ruling was that she wasn’t treated any worse than the man who was not fired.

During a speech to the Federalist Society, Engelhardt praised the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down sodomy laws, as “one man’s submission of personal preference in favor of adherence to constitutional principle.”

In the hearing for Howard Nielson, nominated as federal district judge in Utah, questions addressed his defense of California’s Prop 8, the ballot initiative recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman. He had argued that homosexuality was a choice and that Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself for being gay and in a long-term relationship. Nielson said that he was only using his clients’ arguments and that he had called homosexuality a “maladjustment,” not a choice. Later Nielson co-wrote an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized marriage equality.

Nielson also worked in the Office of Legal Counsel for George W. Bush and defended the “torture memos.” He wrote a memorandum to remove protections for people in custody under the Geneva Conventions, arguing that the protection of civilians in enemy custody or detention applies only to civilians held on U.S. territory. His position that the U.S. could torture civilians outside its boundaries would mean that others could do the same to U.S. civilians outside their countries’ boundaries.

Civil rights leaders argue that Thomas Farr, nominee for a North Carolina federal court, is “a product of the modern white supremacist machine.” Counsel to former Sen. Jesse Helms, great fan of racial segregation, Farr defended voter oppression, a serious problem in the area over which Farr would preside. During Farr’s work on the Helms campaign, postcards were mailed to 100,000 black voters telling them that they could be arrested and prosecuted if they voted because were ineligible to vote. Despite Farr’s denial about involvement, an investigation showed differently.

Stuart Kyle Duncan is back as nominee for the 5th Circuit Court. Staunchly anti-choice and pro-Christian control, he maintained that harms to a lesbian mother who lost her parental rights were “overstated.” He also argued for the voter suppression laws against blacks in North Carolina before the Supreme Court and represented Hobby Lobby as lead counsel to remove women’s reproductive rights. Duncan claims to have been Appellate Chief in Louisiana and then the Solicitor General, but that job doesn’t exist. Instead he worked for a private firm, making hundreds of thousands from taxpayer funds. Also troubling is his connection with the religiously conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group.

DDT’s failed judicial nominees are sticking round. Highly ignorant and bigoted Brett Talley stayed as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, which oversees DOJ’s vetting of candidates for judicial nominations, and dumb-as-a-post Matthew Petersen is on the FEC to help determine the enforcement of campaign finance laws.

Sexual Misconduct:

Top on the week’s list is DDT. According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to former adult-film star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) a month before the 2016 election to shut her up about a sexual encounter with DDT. The newspaper had reported before the election that Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by the DDT-supporting National Enquirer to conceal her story of a 2006 affair with DDT, a year after DDT’s marriage to Melania.

Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens has been accused of having an affair with his hairstylist and then threatening to release nude photographs of her if she publicized the relationship. At their initial sexual encounter, he taped her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her before taking the nude photos. Greitens admitted the affair but refused to talk about the blackmail. He switched from the Democratic party to being a Republican after he said he was running for governor.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for the resignation of the state’s GOP speaker of the house, Jeff Hoover, after information was released about Hoover’s secret settlement of a sexual harassment claim by a woman staff member. Hoover resigned as speaker but stayed on the legislative body.

And on it goes.

 

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