Nel's New Day

April 28, 2018

DDT’s Swinging Door, Legal Issues Continue

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:07 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The people in the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep coming and going.

Mike Pompeo, confirmed as Secretary of State with a vote of 57-42, lost votes from eight of the 14 Democrats who voted to approve him for CIA Director. Tillerson’s hiring freeze in the State Department left Pompeo several openings—eight of nine staff positions, 60 ambassadorships, and ten of 22 assistant secretary positions—leaving the Senate busy with many more confirmation hearings. He will be headed to Brussels for a NATO meeting with foreign ministers tomorrow, help DDT determine whether to close the Iran deal by May 12, and get the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, overwhelmingly condemned by the UN, open on May 14. Newly elected Doug Jones (D-AL) joined five Democrats running this year in red states.

It’s a guarantee that Pompeo will continue to eliminate reproductive rights from the annual report on human rights practices throughout the world. The 2017 report, used for decision-making, skipped such areas as “the ability of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.” It was replaced with “coercion in population control.” Asked about the omission, State Department officials replied, “There’s still a long section on women.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the so-called religious freedom party, finally forced someone out of his job in the House–Chaplain Patrick Conroy. Two possible reasons are that Conroy favored the Democrats and that conservatives were upset because Conroy asked a Muslim to give an opening prayer. A third reason might be that Conroy wasn’t conservative enough: Ryan has assigned two evangelical representatives, both pastors, to find a replacement who must be elected by the House members.

After months of postponement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, has been confirmed as ambassador to Germany with mostly GOP support. The GOP Log Cabin Republicans blasted Democrats for opposing a gay man for this position, despite gay ambassadors nominated by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Among the Democratic argument against the former Fox contributor and aide to John Bolton is his derogatory tweets about prominent women such as comparing Rachel Maddow to Justin Bieber. He claims that he finds his comments to be “funny”; the question is whether he will try out his “humor” on Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel while he is a “diplomat” there—or continue to scold the nation for not bombing Syria.

Dr. Ronny Jackson, DDT’s White House doctor, has withdrawn from his nomination as VA Secretary after a number of concerns about his professional ethics. The last straw, even beyond his nickname as the “Candyman” for his distribution of prescription drugs to unauthorized patients, may have been the report that he was drunk when he “wrecked a government vehicle.” (Allegations against Jackson by colleagues and former colleagues.) Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is to be commended for bringing up concerns about Jackson before a difficult re-election campaign in a red state, especially because DDT is going after him. Jackson is DDT’s 24th failed nominee in 15 months. Half the top aides who arrived at the White House with DDT are gone, usually in painful ways. Paul Waldman asked, “Is there a single Trump aide or official who will leave the service of this president with their reputation enhanced, or at least not diminished?”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who had declared he wouldn’t run for re-election, walked off the job to avoid the House Ethics probe into his secret settlement to a staffer accusing him of harassment. Gov. Tom Wolf will need to determine whether to hold special elections for his position and the one that Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is leaving before the end of his term.

Brand new NASA director Jim Bridenstine tweets that he’s “committed to lunar exploration” with “an expanded lunar surface campaign,” but NASA canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. Nobody seems to know why.

On the legal side, bars can legally refuse service to people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruling. The plaintiffs tried to justify their lawsuit by claiming religious discrimination because they had been “paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11.” The judge ruled that supporting DDT is not a form of religion. The bar owner said that he was asked to leave because he was “verbally abusive to our staff.” Only in MAGA world. (And no, this really happened!)

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen has been postponed for 90 days. The judge said that the lawsuit might endanger Cohen’s constitutional rights if it proceeds while he is under criminal investigation.

Activists who shut off valves on the Enbridge oil pipelines may argue their case of “necessity defense” in court. A judge had approved the request last year, but prosecution had appealed. Testimony will include the serious danger of global warming. Last month, 13 protesters arguing the same defense after arrested for blocking construction by sitting in hopes dug for a pipeline were not responsible for civil disobedience.

Seattle is vacating every misdemeanor cannabis conviction for 542 people from the past 30 years after Washington state legalized recreational cannabis. Philadelphia is also stopping crimination prosecutions for cannabis possession to focus on solving homicides.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has filed an official complaint against Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and director of the Office of Management and Budget. In a speech to banking industry executives, he encouraged them to pay for lobbying efforts to persuade Congress to alter its funding source for the CFPB so that Congress and the banking industry take control of the agency. Mulvaney told the audience that he met only with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign. Eight years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion of Citizens United allowing almost unlimited donations to campaigns that “there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.” Mulvaney proves Kennedy wrong. POGO maintains Mulvaney’s speech violates federal anti-lobbying laws dating back to 1919 preventing executive officials from urging people to contact Congress in support of or opposition to pending legislation.

POGO is just one of the groups fighting back against DDT’s and the Republicans’ authoritarian behavior. Max Boot writes:

“If there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that Trump’s outrageous behavior is provoking opposition from a growing number of good-government groups. Both the center-left and ­center-right are mobilizing and—best of all—they are cooperating, because they realize that their policy differences fade into insignificance at a time when our core institutions and norms are under assault.”

He follows that statement by listing several of these organizations including a new one, Renew Democracy Initiative. Help for those who want another way to join the resistance!

A dark decision from the judiciary comes from a three-judge 5th Circuit panel reversing a lower court ruling that a voter photo ID law from 2011 intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic voters. Plaintiffs had argued that the requirement constituted a poll tax because of its expenditures, but the defense maintained that the law had been fixed because voters could vote without the ID with an alternative and swore to a “reasonable impediment,” that could include transportation, disability or illness. Dissenting Judge James Graves Jr. wrote, “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.” The decision might keep Texas from federally-mandated preclearance according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the Supreme Court is hearing another Texas election problem in gerrymandering.

Most of the news after the Supreme Court decision on Sessions v. Dimaya focused on DDT’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voting with the progressive justices. Another issue, however, deals with the cases that have been held back until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. Most of the time, this “relist,” as they are called, amounts to very few, but in the Dimaya case, the number is at least 42. Details here.

DDT was so pleased with his disastrous monolog on Fox & Friends that he’ll do it “once a month and as news breaks,” according to his counselor Kellyanne Conway. Steve Doocy (left) had the fastest reaction time to look pleased at the announcement.

An Oxford University study shows that DDT supporters read and share more “junk” news from sites containing “propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information” than any other group. Ninety-six percent of DDT supporters had “strong connections to one of 10 groups” identified in this area, and 91 percent of “hard conservatives” shared “junk” information on Facebook. The results are not a surprise, but they do explain the difficulty in having reasonable conversations with DDT supporters.

DDT skipped tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the second time since he was inaugurated. Parts of it were hilarious, including comedian Michelle Wolf. Last year, DDT went to Pennsylvania for love from his followers; this year he was in Michigan. In addition to attacking the usual people, DDT called for a government shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his border wall. What a patriot!

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