Nel's New Day

August 30, 2018

Lawsuits Proliferate As Progressives Win

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
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Lawsuits about the orders of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue to pile up, and decisions continue to go against him and his conservative views.

In a union victory against DDT’s attempts to weaken organized labor, a judge struck down most of three executive orders to enable government agencies to easily fire workers and restrict union negotiation with managers. The decision stated that DDT violated congressional opinion that good-faith union negotiations are vital to the public interest:

“It is undisputed that no [executive] orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned in the [statute].”

DDT’s failed orders would have reduced improvement of work performance from four to three months before employees are fired, created greater difficulty in appealing performance evaluations, blocked negotiations on important workplace issues could not be negotiated, and greatly reduced time for union business during work hours. One remaining provision allows agency changes to a union agreement for bargaining in bad faith.

A federal judge ruled against DDT and the NRA in favor of AGs from 19 states and Washington, D.C. to stop the posting of 3-D printed guns online until the lawsuit is settled. The DOJ had stated that posting the directions was a national security problem until last April when it reversed that conclusion.

The judge who ordered the DOJ to “turn that plane around” has demanded the government not to deport a pregnant Honduran woman seeking asylum after she fled her home country because her partner “beat her, raped her, and threatened to kill her and their unborn child.”

A Maryland KKK leader, 53-year-old Richard Preston, was sentenced to four years in prison for firing a gun at a black counterprotester within 1,000 feet of school property during last year’s deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville (VA). Most of the racist protesters at the rallies who haven’t been given prison time lost their jobs, Patreon has blocked Robert Spencer from its platform, and white supremacist Richard Spencer can’t find a lawyer for a federal lawsuit about his role in the rally.

In North Carolina, the Supreme Court permitted two constitutional amendments to be on the ballot after a panel had blocked them.  Voters are being asked to change the way that state boards and commission members are appointed and the way that judges are picked to fill vacant spots. GOP legislators initiated these amendments to remove power of appointments from the governor after the state elected a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. All five living governors from both political parties objected to the amendments and supported Cooper’s position. GOP legislators’ rewrite of the amendments still lacks clarity, according to Democrats, and Cooper will appeal because the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

In a loss for GOP legislators, a panel of three federal judges from the 4th Circuit Court ruled that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans over Democrats and mandated new districts before the November elections although primaries have already resulted in the selection of candidates. Courts have already determined that the districts violate constitutional standards. North Carolina legislators plan to ask the Supreme Court for help which could result in a 4-4 split leaving the decision with the lower court. The Supreme Court had told the three-judge panel to review their decision after the high court’s decision in the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case stopped because the plaintiffs lacked standing. The Supreme Court addressed gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland but avoided any decision of their merits. The 4th Circuit Court panel suggested appointing a special master to draw new districts, ignore party primaries for the general election, or making the November elections a primary with a general election before January when the 116th Congress convenes.

A federal judge dismissed a suit from conservatives accusing Dallas County (TX) commissions of discrimination against white voters. He said the reverse was true, that the white voters’ “voting power has been strengthened, rather than diluted, by the concentration of Anglos in [Precinct 2].” Three of the five county commissioners are white, but only one is a Republican. A strategist pointed out that redrawing the map might cause the board to have only Democrats.

A judge ruled that Nick Lyon, Michigan’s state health director, will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter over two deaths linked to Flint’s water crisis because he failed to notify the public about Legionnaires’ disease in Flint that killed 12 people and sickened another 90 in 2014 and 2015.

Smithfield Foods, the biggest pork producer in the world, was hit with a $473.5 million judgment to neighbors of three hog farms in North Carolina. Another 500 neighbors are awaiting litigation because North Carolina lawmakers are trying to protect Smithfield. This description shows an unhealthy and stinking environment around the farms and the maltreatment of the pigs. Unlike North Carolina, Missouri forced Smithfield to reduce the odor.

Approximately 600 LGBTQ inmates at San Bernardino County Jail (CA) have been awarded up to $1 million for being forced into the jail’s “Alternative Lifestyle Isolation Tank,” pending approval by the U.S. District Court in Riverside. They were locked in the “Tank” for up to 23 hours a day with no access to specialized programming, social interaction, or other outside activities, denied equal access to opportunities that other prisoners were provided in job training, educational, drug rehabilitation, religious, and community re-entry programs. Openly gay Dan McKibben, former sheriff’s deputy who died in 2016, initiated the lawsuit in 2014.

In Illinois, Marsha Wetzel won a landmark court victory after suing her retirement home that failed to protect her from harassment because she is a lesbian. The 7th Circuit Court disagreed with a lower ruling that claimed a landlord cannot be held responsible for other residents’ behavior. Instead, the court determined that the Fair Housing Act bars landlords from “purposefully failing to protect” a tenant from “harassment, discrimination and violence” and sent the case back to the lower court.

Pending suits:

Seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia—suing to end the DACA program have been joined by Kansas, Maine, and Mississippi. Their unsubstantiated excuses of additional costs for education, health, and law enforcement ignore losses from losing DACA recipients who contribute to the economy through employment (89 percent), business entrepreneurs (6 percent, car purchases (62 percent), and home purchases (14 percent). The loss of 144,000 DACA recipients in these ten states can remove $7.4 billion in their annual GDP, 82 percent of it in Texas. The ten states would also annually lose $311 million in tax revenue, $245 million in just Texas. A win for these ten states against DACA could cause the same losses for the other 40 states that would lose $35 billion in annual GDP.

People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing to get information about the Bible study sessions for Cabinet members in the capitol after being refused any materials for nine months. Conservative pastor Ralph Drollinger has influenced U.S. members of Congress and brags about his influence with Cabinet members, describing Capitol Ministries as a “factory” to produce politicians like Michele Bachmann who “sees the world through a scriptural lens.”

Sixteen states are asking the Supreme Court for permission to legally fire people for being transgender. The 6th Circuit Court had ruled against the firing of Aimee Stephens for transition while at her job with a Michigan funeral home. The mis-named Alliance Defending Freedom maintains that the word “sex” means only biological sex and cannot be used for gender identity. The states in the suit include Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming as well as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R). Kentucky AG Andy Beshear (D), who refused to sign the brief on behalf of the state, called Bevin’s decision to sign on “surprising” given that Kentucky state employees do enjoy protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, thanks to an executive order that Bevin has not rescinded.

Approximately 8,000 U.S. lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto, recently purchased by the German drugmaker Bayer, regarding the possible cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. The most recent settlement against Monsanto was $289 million.

Released from Central California Women’s Facility after a 15-year term, Stacy Rojas filed a lawsuit against the sexual abuse that she and other inmates suffer in the prison. Rojas reported that guards stamped on one woman’s breast, cut the clothing off another, left women in isolation cells so long that they had to soil themselves, and harassed them with graphic sexual insults and suggestions. In addition to seeking damages, Rojas wants a whistleblowing process externally managed to hold guards and other staff accountable for mistreatment and excessive force as well as accessing adequate medical care, food, and clothing.

Across the country, people are suing public schools to get a quality education for their children.

  • Racial integration: a father in Minnesota is fighting for children to attend racially integrated schools because segregated schools lower test scores and graduation rates for low-income and nonwhite children.
  • Funding: parents are turning to state courts for sufficient school funding because a 1973 Supreme Court decision ruled that unequal school funding does not violate the U.S. Constitution. A New Mexico judge mandated a new funding system for schools because of underfunded schools, especially those that serve large numbers of Native American, Hispanic, and low-income students. Kansas ruled that underfunding schools is unconstitutional, and Pennsylvania and Florida courts agreed to hear similar cases.
  • Literacy: last year a federal judge in Michigan ruled that “access to literacy” is not a fundamental federal right for Detroit students, but most state constitutions guarantee the right to an adequate education.

AG Jeff Sessions expressed his discontent with federal judges to an audience of judicial system officials in Iowa, especially their rulings against DDT’s Muslim ban and for so-called “sanctuary cities” because the decisions brought media criticism of DDT. Yet DDT abuses Sessions every day.

August 29, 2018

White House Counsel Latest, But Not Only, to ‘Resign’

As Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to threaten his AG Jeff Sessions with firing, journalists have watched for a shakeup in the Department of Justice or even the firing of special investigator Robert Mueller. Yet the “resignation” of Don McGahn, the White House counsel, has resulted in dismay.

It’s true that McGahn has been making noises about leaving the White House and that DDT was caught off-guard when he learned about McGahn’s 30 hours of testimony with Mueller President Trump’s advisers. But McGahn himself was surprised when DDT tweeted this morning that he was leaving; McGahn had hoped that he would stay to shepherd Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through the confirmation process.

And it’s not as if DDT has lots of legal help if Democrats take over the House and subpoena all the people who the GOP had been sheltering. Or even worse for DDT, if Democrats started impeachment proceedings. With Democratic control, House committees could hold hearings about policies such as DDT’s travel ban, his “zero tolerance” answer to immigration separating children and families, and various ethical misconduct through DDT, his administration, and his family’s private businesses.

Having lost ten lawyers, the White House has about 25. Three of McGahn’s deputies already left, and a fourth goes Friday, leaving only one deputy counsel, the ethics czar who handles national security.

WaPo interviewed 26 White House officials, presidential advisers, and lawyers and strategists close to the administration to investigate this situation. McGahn understood the danger of impeachment: he and other aides tried to persuade DDT to not behave in any way that could lead to being impeached. DDT obviously has not tried this tack, and he also has no action plan if impeachment comes into play. Speaking on the record, DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he had talked to DDT about impeachment but “they can’t [criminally] charge him.” Giuliani’s advice has not been very useful to DDT.

A source of anxiety among DDT’s allies is that he and White House officials aren’t worried about Democratic control. DDT thinks that he can get enough Republicans elected to Congress to save him, and he sometimes becomes angry with advisers who raise “the i-word,” his term for impeachment. An ally said:

“Winter is coming. Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”

Allies are also concerned that the White House, which has not attracted top-notch talent, may have more problems if Democrats take the House. Aides may leave the sinking ship, fearing legal limbo and hefty lawyer fees just because of their positions near DDT. At this time, the White House can hardly handle crisis communications in distributing strong talking points, and potential battles will cause more difficulties. Because DDT sees only himself as the focus, he cannot grasp the size of an infrastructure necessary to protect the presidency such as Clinton had with scores of lawyers, communications staffers, and other strategists during his impeachment. White House counsel at that time said that his office had as many as 60 lawyers during key times.

DDT found himself in enough trouble during his first 18 months, but McGahn kept him from worse times. He refused to fire Mueller a year ago after DDT gave him the order. When Sessions considered resigning early in his term because of DDT’s vicious statements, McGahn persuaded him to stay. And McGahn knows where the bodies are buried and may tell Mueller about their locations. DDT ordered McGahn to tell Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russian investigation and heard from then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that DDT’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying about the nature of his contact with Russian officials.

The relationship between DDT and McGahn has become so strained that they “kind of avoided each other,” according to a former administration official. DDT was upset because McGahn didn’t “kowtow to him,” and DDT’s tweet guaranteed that McGahn would have to go—and soon. He was also furious because McGahn would not deny the story of DDT’s wanting to fire Mueller and tried to persuade his disgraced former staff secretary, Rob Porter, to warn McGahn that he would fire him then. McGahn also opposed DDT’s pardoning Paul Manafort, which may have driven DDT over the edge.

DDT envies the skilled lawyers for aides such as Abbe Lowell, representing Kushner, and William A. Burck, representing McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon, and considers adding Lowell to his very small legal team. DDT is also considering replacing McGahn with Emmet Flood, his White House strategist with the Mueller probe.

DDT may be losing another lawyer. DOJ is investigating a team of lawyers which includes trial lawyer Bobby Burchfield, independent ethics adviser for the DDT’s family business interests, for accepting tens of millions of dollars in laundered funds. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and DDT’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz are also part of the legal team in trouble. Jho Low, a fugitive Malaysian businessman with assets in the U.S., allegedly paid the lawyers from $4.5 billion embezzled from a Malaysian fund.

On her show, Rachel Maddow mocked DDT’s reason for hiring Burchfield to avoid setting up a trust for his business after he was inaugurated:

“Don’t worry, we’re hiring an outside ethics adviser to make sure everything is squeaky clean for me to be the first president in modern history to retain his business interests while still serving as president. We have an outside adviser. Rest assured, there will be no funny money sliding through anywhere, nothing the least bit smelly in this unclean office fridge, everything will be fine.’”

According to Bloomberg News, DDT is considering hiring Burchfield as White House counsel or to replace Jeff Sessions as AG.

Another fired White House staff member, after a failure of DDT’s promise for “extreme vetting,” is policy aide and speechwriter Darren Beattie, who spoke at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference. Named for the early 20th century, journalist, satirist, and racist, the group caters to white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, and Robert Weissberg, the latter two fired by the conservative magazine National Review for racist views, presented at the conference. Other speakers at the conference regularly contribute to the white nationalist website VDare. Beattie tried to stay at the White House with the claim that he presented uncontroversial academic information before he was fired. White House departures—it’s the new normal.

Larry Kudlow, DDT’s top economic adviser, hosted Peter Brimelow, the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism, in his home. The birthday gathering for Kudlow was the day after Beattie spoke on a panel with Brimelow. Kudlow said he had no idea that Brimelow promoted white supremacists on Vdare.com and claimed to be a civil rights Republican. (The extent of ignorance in the White House is amazing!)

A true—and sad—resignation came from Seth Frotman, formerly the top U.S. official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As part of his goal to destroy the agency, acting director and DDT’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, downgraded the student loan office mission, putting it under consumer education instead of enforcement. Before that happened, the office had protected student borrowers and returned $750 million to students who were unfairly treated. Frotman said he resigned because of the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the borrowers. His letter to Mulvaney stated:

“Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America….

“Sadly, the damage you have done to the Bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”

The Bureau will soon have a new director, Kathy Kraninger, who looked to Mulvaney as her mentor. The Banking Committee approved her nomination by a party line of 13-12 on its way to a full Senate vote. Kraninger, who admitted that she is unqualified for her new position, avoided answering questions about any accomplishments at her job at OMB and doesn’t know what she would do when confirmed. She was also instrumental in DDT’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy but refused to answer any questions about her involvement, including with the private prison company with facilities that participated in abuse, sexual violence, neglect, and mismanagement.

DDT’s swinging door spins.

August 26, 2018

Religious Leadership, Abusive and in Control of the U.S.

The Nuns on the Bus are traveling again in October, this time from Los Angeles through 21 states with 54 events during their 27 days and aimed directly at Mar-a-Lago, where they finish with a “Fiesta for the Common Good.” For the sixth time since Sister Simone Campbell, leader of a Catholic social justice lobby, fired up her followers, the nuns plan to protest, this time the GOP tax plan just in time for people to pick their candidates at the 2018 general election. Critics of the $1.2 trillion tax cut, mostly going to the richest people and biggest corporations, point out that it increases the budget deficit and income inequality. Even worse, Republicans plan to use the tax cut’s deficit from giving money to the wealthiest Republicans to eliminate or at least reduce Social Security and Medicare.

After Pope Francis addressed a letter to the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, lamenting the horrific sexual abuse by church leaders in Pennsylvania, Sister Simone spoke with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. The sister called on the pope to go beyond writing a letter and take action.

Goodman pointed out that she and the nuns, who fought for social justice, “were investigated more than any of these priests, who preyed on children and adults, seminarians as well.” “When attacked, let’s deflect it,” Sister Simone said to explain the Catholic approach toward the abuse. “We certainly see that in politics right now in our nation,” she added. Sister Simone called on “serious change” in the leadership in a church that ignores women in leadership positions.

“We have all this pious talk about how men and women are created in complementarity and all that, but then we leave women out entirely….”

Sister Simone and her small network was criticized by the Catholic church for “being a bad influence on Catholic sisters in the United States, because we worked too much on the issues of poverty.” The leadership’s focus on abortion and sexual orientation focuses its perspective on sex, “and they become the righteous judgers. And this is wrong. This is wrong.”

Asked if women should be priests, Sister Simone described the “priestly functions” that she performs and “should be acknowledged.” She also thinks that priests should be able to marry, the way that they could before 1200. At that time, a wife might be able to inherit a cathedral if she were married to a bishop. The solution was mandating celibacy.

Pope Francis’ letter promised that “no effort” will be spared to change a church culture that allows both the abuse and the conspiracy to hide it. In Ireland, where the pope is visiting, he may have trouble convincing people after his recent appointment of Philip Boyce as bishop. With only 160,000 residents, County Donegal has the worst record of sexual abuse in Ireland. Four of the 14 accused priests were convicted, including the Rev. Eugene Greene who was imprisoned for nine years after raping and molesting at least 26 boys between 1965 and 1982. Boyce refused to defrock Green in the late 1990s. Residents said that the pope’s appointment of Boyce belies his words, as Francis continues to shuffle along those who protect abusers.

In another case, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington, D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that Pope Francis ignored his information about Theodore Carrick by removing sanctions that Pope Benedict XVI placed on McCarrick in 2013. McCarrick, a long-time successful fundraiser for the Vatican, had been aged out of his position of Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Benedict’s sanctions limited him from leaving his residence at a seminary and performing public Mass. Francis repealed the sanctions and “continued to cover” for McCarrick, making him “his trusted counselor” who advised Francis on several bishop appointments in the United States. The Catholic Church made several settlements to McCarrick’s sexual abuse traced back 47 years, but the Church always covered for his activities until he was blocked from public ministry on June 20, 2018.

Viganò calls for Pope Francis and others involved in the coverup of McCarrick’s abuse to resign, adding that complicity of John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s respective Secretary of States, Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone had led to the delay of the sanctions.  Benedict had ignored both of Viganò’s memos about McCarrick from 2006 and 2008 until Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and specialist in clerical sexual abuse, sent Benedict a statement about McCarrick’s abuse. Viganò also reinforced the record of cover-up in Honduras by Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and his record of cover-up in Honduras, saying the Pope “defends his man” to the “bitter end,” despite the allegations against him.

In the past three decades, the Catholic Church has paid out over $3.6 billion to settle abuse case.

During his visit to Ireland, Pope Francis largely addressed the “family” with no specifics about stopping the sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, and Colm O’Gorman, a clerical abuse survivor, called the pope’s remarks an “extraordinary deflection.” Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar spoke about actually doing something rather than merely express regret and sadness. Colm O’Gorman, a clerical abuse survivor and the director of Amnesty International Ireland, called the pope’s remarks on Saturday morning an “extraordinary deflection.” He also said that the pope’s statement that Catholics should share the shame were an “insult to faithful Catholics, who have no reason to feel shame because of the crimes of the Vatican and the institution church.”

Francis received a far more lukewarm greeting than the one for John Paul II in 1979, and thousands of protesters gathered in Dublin.

More deflection came from Cardinal Raymond Burke who blamed homosexuality for the child abuse, ignoring the science that this abuse is a sexual disorder, more common in men,that has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Men have more access to boys than girls, especially in the Catholic Church where women have few leadership responsibilities.

High profile U.S. Catholics such as Cardinals Sean O’Malley of Boston and Donald Wuerl of Washington, canceled their trips to be with Francis in Ireland. O’Malley has been accused of concealing sexual abuse among clerics, including a 2015 report about McCarrick, and Wuerl, bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, granted reassignment and retirement requests to priests accused of sexual abuse without reporting their behavior. Current bishop of Pittsburgh, David Zubik, claims that there are no confidentiality agreements about sexual abuse, but he offered a victim money for his children’s college tuition and some counseling in return for his silence.

A letter calling for the resignation of all U.S. bishops is gaining traction since massive reports of sexual abuse coverup; last May, Chile’s 34 bishops all resigned after a sexual abuse scandal. The letter declares:

“The catastrophic scale and historical magnitude of the abuse makes clear that this is not a case of ‘a few bad apples,’ but rather a radical systemic injustice manifested at every level of the Church. Systemic sin cannot be ended through individual goodwill.”

The Irish Catholic Church has a long history of abusing children and women. In a Catholic program that finally ended in 1996, at least 10,000 unmarried mothers or “morally wayward” women were enslaved against their wishes in Magdalene laundries where they worked for no pay, no pension, and no social protection—sometimes for their entire lives—to wash clothes and linens for major hotel groups and the Irish armed forces. The report begins only in 1922; they may have a much longer history.

Many of the women were sent to these laundries after they gave birth in homes run by nuns, one of the most infamous in the small town of Tuam. An investigation found a number of tiny skeletons on the grounds after an historian raised an alarm, who reported that almost 800 children, mistreated at the home are buried there. Her evidence comes from 800 death certificates found at the home, some of them with malnutrition as the cause, but records of only four burials. Conservative Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, ranted against any accusations against Catholic abuse, but Ireland has failed to continue its investigations after discovering the first 35 skeletons. Children who lived were all sent off to foster families.

If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as Supreme Court justice, Catholicism will continue to dominate the high court with two-thirds constituency. Meanwhile, DDT is packing the other courts and the government agencies with radical fundamental Christians—almost all male and many of them also abusers. Running the U.S. House are a Catholic and a fundamentalist Christian—both male. Over 45 percent of Congress is Catholic—twice as many as the Catholic percentage in the U.S. Over half the U.S. population is female, but only 20 percent of Congress are women.

Most conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians don’t object to DDT’s sexual misconduct, cruelty, lies, and illegal activity. Until the conservative religious and male control of the United States changes, the nation will continue to be run by people who are obsessed with sex and have no interest in social justice.

August 25, 2018

DDT: Week 83 – Outside the Courts

Frantic from his loss of loyal followers, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attacked the DOJ and the FBI by threatening to fire his appointee AG Jeff Sessions and take over both agencies which are legally separate from presidential control. DDT sent out a long list of enemies that he wants investigation, starting with Hillary Clinton, and cited the 63 months of prison for Realty Winner for disclosing classified information about Russian hacking as an example of how easy these investigations could be. One useful investigation would involve DDT’s disclosing classified information to two Russians in the Oval Office of value to the Kremlin.

This file handout photo taken on May 10, 2017 from Russian Foreign Ministry shows shows DDT speaking with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak in the White House. 
HO/AFP/Getty Images

These weekend tweets came after DDT fomented racial divide in South Africa to distract from the news that he is an “unindicted co-conspirator.” Before looking into false reports from Fox’s Tucker Carlson and white supremacists, DDT tweeted that he had directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate “the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.” Until 1994, blacks, comprising 90 percent of the population, were barred from owning more than 15 percent of the nation’s land, allowing whites to own 90 percent of the land. Despite the 1994 South African policy allowing the government to buy white-owned farms for redistribution to black citizens when the seller is willing to cooperate,  whites still own 72 percent of the farmland. As for the false claim of “white genocide,” the numbers of white farmers’ murders dropped to below 50 a year, the lowest that it has been in over 20 years.  Murder rates in the country’s predominantly white suburbs are far lower than in the mainly black townships.

White supremacist leaders such as David Duke and Richard Spencer have expressed their gratitude to DDT for giving credibility to their lies. “White genocide” has been used for years to inspire violence; Dylann Roof cited this reason for murdering nine people at a prayer service in a black church.

DDT managed more destructive behavior in the past week:

In June, the United States was safe from North Korea’s nukes, according to DDT who referred to the skeptical media coverage as “almost treasonous.”  In August Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave lack of progress as the reason for calling off negotiations with North Korea. Since then, North Korea continues to build nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and China increased cross-border trade with North Korea after DDT laid tariffs on U.S. imports from China.

DDT has gone full Zionist by cutting $200 million from Palestinian humanitarian aid at a time with Egypt and the UN are trying to stabilize Gaza. Forty percent of Palestinians living in Gaza are unemployed. Because of the U.S.-backed Israeli blockade, everyone in Gaza lives with only a few hours of electricity per day and constant food and medicine shortages. Last January, DDT froze $65 million for a UN agency that provides aid to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza as well as Jordan and Lebanon. DDT still promises that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will broker peace in the Middle East—perhaps through blackmail.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hopes to use education money for lower-income students, the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, for buying guns. Justification would be to “improve school conditions.” DeVos wants to arm teachers; one reason was to defend schools from grizzly bear attacks.

Conserving oil no longer has any value, according to DDT’s new policy. His proposal increases consumption by 500,000 barrels a day. Another EPA plan weakens regulations of coal-fired power plants by giving states authority to set standards for cutting emissions with incentives for keeping inefficient coal-fired plans with no pollution controls. DDT’s “Affordable Clean Energy rule” will kill up to 1,400 people every year by 2030, according to the EPA. Employment for coal is declining because of increased automation, cheaper natural gas, and healthier wind and solar power are healthier. DDT’s new EPA czar, Andrew Wheeler, is a former coal lobbyist.

The oil and gas industry claims that climate change doesn’t cause sea levels to rise, but it wants $12 billion from taxpayers to fix their problems in Texas including “floating gates” and “steel levees” for the coastline home to most of Texas’ 30 refineries. Texas has already spent almost $4 billion of that money to protect only oil refineries.

DDT may consider a plan from Blackwater founder and war criminal Erik Prince, brother of Secretary of State Betsy DeVos, to privatize the 17-year-long Afghanistan war by replacing U.S. soldiers with mercenaries, “private military contractors who would work for a special U.S. envoy for the war who would report directly to the president.” Although privatization never saves money, Prince claims it will. In an 85-7 vote, the Senate approved $675 billion for the military, over half the discretionary funds spent in a year. Under DDT, the U.S. drops an average of one bomb every 12 minutes; in his first year, he dropped almost half the number of bombs that President Obama did during the eight years of his two terms.

At a conference on cyberbullying, First Lady Melania Trump said that “children are more aware of benefits and pitfalls of social media than most adults.” In the past few days, DDT cyberbullied his former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman (“dog,” “wacky,” “vicious,” “nasty,” “a loser” “hated,” “crazed, crying lowlife”); John Dean (“rat”); the media (“sick,” “fake,” “disgusting,” “enemy of the people”); Brennan (“loudmouth, partisan, political hack,” “limited intellectually”); his own attorney general (“BLANK Jeff Sessions”); Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT (“Loser!”); Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-NY (“haywire”); New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (“incompetent,” “really dumb,” “having a total meltdown”); Ohio Gov. John Kasich (“very unpopular,” “failed”); and those investigating DDT (“creep,” “McCarthyism at its WORST!” “zero credibility,” “corrupt,” “a fraud,” “lowlife”).

While overshadowing the First Lady’s work against cyberbullying, DDT held an event to “salute the heroes” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that he consistently called CBC. About a Latino Border Patrol agent and dog handler in the audience who had arrested a smuggler trying to bring 78 people to the U.S., DDT said, “And he speaks perfect English.” He said that Democrats, who he called the “opposition,” “don’t mind crime” and claimed that between 88 percent and 93 percent of people support the work of ICE. Almost half the people view ICE unfavorably.

Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello said that his agency had a plan to reunite the thousands of migrant children with their families that was ruined by the federal courts. The government still can’t find families for about 700 children, including 40 who are four years old or younger with the deadline a month and more past.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied when he said he would never sell public lands. A huge public backlash stopped him from selling 1,610 acres that had been part of the Grand Staircase national monument. After he shrank the national monument by 860,000 acres, he decided to put it on the market for private owners. One 120-acre is adjacent to land owned by Utah state Rep. Mike Noel (R).

Wildfire is covering hundreds of miles in California, and DDT’s solutions are to keep the water from going into the ocean and get rid of the trees. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue want to cut down all the trees, or what Zinke calls “robust fuels reduction and pre-suppression techniques.” The new farm bill, as yet in Congress, cuts out environmental review and permits logging for any reason. The House version of the bill that passed on June 21 would fast track road construction and commercial logging in national forests and exempt projects from environmental review.

The stock market is rolling for the top 20 percent, but the purchasing power of salaries has reverted to a 1974 level as the costs of living increase when workers get a small bonus from the massive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Pew Research Drew Desilver listed the peak of average hourly earnings at 45 years ago. Earnings for the lowest-paid quarter of workers are far worse than the past, with only a 4.3 percent increase since 2000 while the top tenth of earners have a 15.7 percent increase. The economy may be booming, but the vast majority of people in the United States are suffering.

DDT brags about “his” economy, but he fails to mention the current budget deficit—already 21 percent over that in 2017 with little hope for the future. President Obama’s deficits came from George W. Bush’s recession, but DDT’s disaster comes at a time of growing economy, the result of greater military spending and excessive tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. When Congress returns in September, the Republicans want another trillion-dollar tax cut, and the proposed “U.S. Space Force” can add hundreds of billions to the Pentagon budget. DDT also his wall that will cost $70 billion. Nobody is addressing the highly expensive natural and man-made disasters occurring more and more—or the ballooning interest on the national debt. The highly unpopular tariffs may also slow the economy.

As Republicans campaign, ObamaCare is more popular than the GOP tax law, according to Fox network poll, with the healthcare law at a 51 percent approval rating and the tax cuts at 40 percent approval.

DDT’s latest Gallup poll is 39 percent approval—the same as his average since he was inaugurated. Among Republicans, his approval is 82 percent, down seven points from last week. And next week may bring more disasters for DDT.

August 24, 2018

DDT: Week 83 – Treading Water

Last Tuesday was a day of eights—Michael Cohen, the fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), pleaded guilty to eight counts, and Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign manager, was found guilty of eight counts. Covers from two major U.S. publications show DDT’s troubles, but the next few weeks may get worse.

Cohen’s “unnamed candidate” is obviously DDT regarding payments to Stormy Daniels “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” and Karen McDougal “under direction of the same candidate.” The fixer said that “I participated in this conduct for the principal purpose” of influencing an election. He claimed that DDT told him to pay two women in violation of campaign finance laws to keep them from going public about DDT’s affairs with them. Cohen’s investigation has been referred to New York’s Southern District; Lanny Davis, Cohen’s lawyer, tweeted:

“Today [Cohen] stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election.  If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”

The Trump Organization may also be in trouble after authorizing $420,000 in these payments with false invoices from Cohen concealing the purpose of the payments. An executive ordered the fees to Cohen to be described as legal expenses using the words “retainer for the month of January and February 2017.” The Manhattan D.A. is also looking into criminal charges for the Trump Organization because of Cohen’s payments and possible tax evasion by Cohen. He was also paid $50,000 for “tech services” six months after he was talking to Russians in Prague, but this may have nothing to do with any hacking. Falsifying business records becomes a felony if done to commit or conceal another crime. DDT can pardon people convicted of federal charges but not those who lose in non-federal courts. The New York State AG’s office is opening a criminal investigation into possibilities that Cohen violated state law tax.

Cohen’s plea reveals that David Pecker, head of the National Enquirer parent company American Media and DDT’s close friend, “offered to help deal with negative stories about [DDT’s] relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the [2016] campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” Stories were locked in a safe. The prosecution granted Pecker immunity for testifying. The First Amendment protecting journalism probably won’t be a successful argument against the Enquirer because it failed to operate in a “legitimate press function” by promoting DDT and destroying his opponents, especially Hillary Clinton, frequently with false stories. Federal prosecutors believed the publication “acted more as a political supporter than as a news organization.”

Also granted immunity is Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization CFO who helped reimburse the $420,000 for Michael Cohen. Weisselberg began working for DDT’s father in the 1970s and continued on with DDT, also serving as treasurer of the Donald J. Trump Foundation which is also in court for fraud. He also handled all DDT’s personal finances.

On the same day as Cohen’s pleading, a jury found Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges; one holdout juror stopped guilty rulings on the other ten despite the paper trail that the other jurors showed her. He was found guilty of five tax fraud charges, one charge of hiding foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. Manafort’s next trial in a Washington, D.C. federal court includes more criminal charges such as failure to register his foreign lobbying and money laundering conspiracy related to the same Ukrainian political work central to the concluded case. At 69, he faces up to 80 years in prison.

After DDT denied that he considered a pardon for Manafort, Rudy Giuliani said that he talked about such a pardon with DDT after the ones for Scooter Libby and Dinesh D’Souza. Mueller is investigating these pardons as a possible obstruction of justice; pardoning Manafort could add to that evidence.

Sentencing for former national security advisor Michael Flynn has been pushed forward from August 24 to September 17.

GOP legislators are mum on the Manafort/Cohen revelations, but highly conservative Bret Stephens tweeted that DDT is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  DDT ranted against Cohen and then claimed that his crime was no more than Barack Obama’s campaign violations—routine paperwork without intent for wrongdoing that included incorrect dates, not quickly returning donations exceeding campaign limits, and missing filing deadlines during his campaign’s final weeks. Cohen’s crimes carry a maximum prison time of 65 years.

DDT wants to make “flipping” for testimony illegal, perhaps because of the people who have flipped on him—Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Dylan Howard, Omarosa Manigault Newman, George Papadoulous, Pecker, and Weisselberg.

A U.S. judge dismissed a libel case from three Russian oligarchs against Christopher Steele, author of the infamous Steele dossier about the Russian scandal, about their claim that Steele and his firm had defamed them. A Steele memo reported that the oligarchs, Alfa Group businessmen, gave Vladimir Putin “informal advice” on foreign policy, especially about the U.S., and concerns the issue of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election. One of the oligarchs, German Khan, is the father-in-law of Alex van der Zwaan, the first person sentenced to prison in Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation.

People who claim that the Russian investigation has accomplished nothing in the past year should check the statistics: one person convicted, six people pleading guilty, 26 people charged, and 23 people interviewed (seven in White House, seven in government, three from Russia, and six others). DDT claims that it’s a “witch hunt”: his “witches” thus far convicted include his national security advisor, his personal lawyer, his campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, and his foreign policy aide. Legal leaders of ethics groups wrote:

“The trial evidence included Mr. Manafort’s close ties to pro-Russia forces and his desperate financial straits as he ‘volunteered’ his time for the next president. The trial revealed how willing Mr. Manafort was to corruptly leverage his position of influence over Mr. Trump during the campaign for his own personal benefit. He offered briefings to a pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch and dangled a position in the Trump administration in front of a banker who provided him a loan for which he would not otherwise have qualified….

“This is no “witch hunt.” It instead is one of the most successful special counsel investigations in history.”

The White House counsel, Don McGahn, testified to Mueller’s investigation for 30 hours, and neither DDT nor his lawyers know what McGahn said. In a rant against a New York Times story, DDT tweeted that he gave permission to McGahn to testify and “I have nothing to hide.” Yet DDT has not testified for the investigation or released his tax returns.

DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani (right) melted down on Meet the Press when he repeatedly told Chuck Todd that “truth isn’t truth,” a statement that went viral. DDT and his lawyers declare that McGahn said nothing that could create problems for DDT, but speculators wonder if McGahn is protecting himself. McGahn has clearly stated that he protects the presidency, not the person in that position, although DDT looks on him as his personal lawyer. Last fall, a reporter overheard DDT layers John Dodd and Ty Cobb criticizing McGahn, information that led him to think that he would be blamed for DDT’s wrongdoing.

Giuliani may be safety ensconced on a DDT golf course in Scotland and garbed in DDT advertising, but he’s spreading the word than any move to impeach DDT would cause a revolution in the U.S. That was after DDT announced on Fox that impeachment would cause the stock market to crash and “everybody would be very poor.”

Early last week, DDT compared the investigation to McCarthyism. Roy Cohn, the lawyer who helped Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) accuse people of treason without evidence, worked for DDT for 12 years. With Cohn as his mentor, DDT learned how to be a demagogue, to rule by threats and fear.

For almost a year, DDT didn’t mention Robert Mueller’s name, but a few months ago, he began his offensive comments against Mueller and his team, calling them all Democrats although Mueller is a conservative Republican. As he described Mueller “disgraced and discredited” and his team “thugs,” approval of the investigation dropped, but the latest Fox poll shows that DDT’s strategy no longer works. Approval of Mueller’s investigation is 59 percent from the conservative network, up from 48 percent in July—almost a 25 percent increase. Forty percent think that the investigation will find DDT’s criminal or impeachable offenses, up 5 points.

Leading Republicans have a solution for the Russian scandal, convictions, plea deals, indictments, etc.—shut down the investigation and get rid of AG Jeff Sessions. Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) suddenly found time for hearings if DDT appoints a new AG, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided that Sessions might not be “qualified for the job [of AG]” after vigorously defending him for that position and ignored Sessions’ lying under oath in the hearings. One year ago, Graham told DDT that “there will be holy hell to pay” if he fires AG Jeff Sessions and dared DDT to “accept the consequences” if he made such a move. Now, after DDT’s most recent criticisms of Sessions, Graham recommends firing Sessions who has said that the DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.” Maybe Graham’s turn-around comes from all the games of golf he plays with DDT.

August 23, 2018

Voter Fraud: Perpetuated by Government Officials

Perhaps worried that legislation could keep Russian from winning Republicans in the upcoming election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is blocking election security legislation from moving through the Senate. The bill had bipartisan support from co-sponsors James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Conservative Roy Blunt (R-MO) had scheduled a markup before DDT’s action postponed it.

At the same time, Reality Winner, who leaked information about the Russians’ hacking at least 100 elections systems, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking security documents. Her sentence is the longest in history for providing classified information to the media.  has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for leaking government documents regarding Russian attempts to hack voter registration databases.

While the federal government ignores Russia’s cyberattacks into the U.S. election, Microsoft found and disabled six malicious websites created over the past several months and trying to provide expanded cybersecurity protection for campaigns and election agencies using Microsoft products. Two attacks are on conservative think tanks that have broken with DDT.

Less than two weeks ago, organizers for a “voting village” at the annual Def Con hacker convention in Las Vegas set up voting machines and invited 50 participants between the ages of 8 and 16 to hack facsimile websites of 13 battleground states. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/22/us-elections-hacking-voting-machines-def-con  An 11-year-old girl broke into a website within ten minutes before convention participants moved to a new state’s website every 30 minutes with the typical break-in time at 15 minutes.

Flaws in the states’ election systems:

  • A voting scanner and tabulator, which 24 states use, have no password or software verification to keep it from being overridden.
  • A touchscreen voting machine can easily be reprogrammed to play music and animated clips.
  • An electronic poll book machine that signs in voters on Election Day was hacked in five seconds, potentially exposing “unencoded” personal information on voters.
  • If the database isn’t secure, a hacker can delete every tenth registration which turns people away from polling stations.
  • Even if a voting machine is not hacked or ever connected to the internet, there are ways to affect the results, researchers say.
  • The election winner can be changed in 22 seconds by taking a single disc from a polling place even if machines were never connected to the internet.
  • Almost one out of three candidates for the U.S. House have a security error on their campaign websites.
  • Vote totals on a replica election night results page show that a candidate’s name has been changed by remote access.
  • Changing the election’s winner using a single disc with malicious software brought back from a mock polling place, where the machines were never connected to the internet, can take only 22 seconds.

University of Michigan’s J Alex Halderman stole a mock election in front of his audience during his 30-minute talk on the weaknesses of voting machines. He pointed out that hackers don’t need to change all the votes, just enough to swing a close election in favor of the opposition—in Russia’s case the Republicans. The centralization of the voting system comes from the connection of individual voting machines to PCs used to program individual elections. “One large vendor codes the system for 2,000 jurisdictions across 31 states,” Halderman said. His solution is to have paper ballots, something that five swing states don’t have. Even those with paper ballots refuse to execute a statistically valid check of paper ballots, requiring counting only a few hundred.

Federal officials were defensive about the hacking discoveries, claiming it was just a mock effort, but Village co-founder Harri Hursti said:

“Every voting machine in this room is in use in [the] next election [in] 2018. Every single one, every single model, is a model still in use.”

In Maryland, Russian oligarch Vladimr Potanin, close friend of Vladimir Putin, is the biggest investor in the company that hosts the state’s voter registration system, candidacy and election management system, online ballot delivery system, and unofficial election night results website. AltPoint’s largest investor is Vladimir Potanin, who is reportedly close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Other methods of voter fraud from officials:

Las Vegas District Court Judge Susan Johnson ordered at least two defendants who pled guilty to felony charges to complete their probation requirement and “vote for Trump” in 2020. Evidence about this voter fraud appears in both court transcripts and from interviews from “multiple criminal defense attorneys” who said that the judge gave this directive to at least four defendants. She suspended a 28-month prison sentence although he admitted to assault and battery with a deadly weapon so that he would have his voting rights restored in “plenty of time” to cast his ballot for the president. Another man was told to withdraw his plea and admit to a misdemeanor instead. Johnson said that she was just joking.

San Juan County (UT) Clerk John David Nielson helped falsify and backdate an election complaint to disqualify Democrat Willie Grayeyes from the County Commission race and claimed Grayeyes was ineligible to run because he didn’t live in the county. A U.S. district judge had to right the wrong that Nielson executed on the part of GOP candidate Wendy Black. Nielson admitted under oath that he had lied to keep Grayeyes off the ballot. Grayeyes, a Navajo, was able to run only because the tribe went to federal court to redraw commission boundaries for equal educational opportunities, fair treatment in the justice process, access to the ballot box, and their rightful share of oil and gas royalties.

Illinois GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner blocked legislation that would have required corrections officials throughout the state to help people detained in jails and prisons understand whether they can vote. Election and correction officials would have been mandated to offer ballots to people in jail before their trial if they want to vote and voter registration forms to people being released from jail with information about their voting rights. Minority groups disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system would have been many of the beneficiaries of the bill. Illinois alone has 4 million people with an arrest record who might have been affected by the legislation.

In an attempt to keep districts with large immigrant population smaller, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross inserted a question about a person’s citizenship status into the 2020 census. A number of courts have ruled against Ross’ decision since it was announced earlier this year, the most recent a federal court in California that is permitting two lawsuits to go forward against the federal government. This decision rejects the claim that federal courts cannot supervise the decision to add a citizenship question.

In a Virginia case, aides to GOP Rep. Scott W. Taylor forged signatures to get an independent candidate on the ballot to split the vote with the Democrat to help Taylor win. In New York, a campaign worker for Michael Grimm filed an extra petition for opponent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) with no cover sheet, hoping that the violation would invalidate the entire filing and giving the race to Grimm. The scheme was uncovered, and Donovan ran in the primary, beating convicted felon and former representative Grimm almost two to one.

The Hopewell (VA) Electoral Board decided to put some candidates’ names in all uppercase because the candidates wanted this style although state election officials stated this was not permitted.

The U.S. Supreme Court contributed to the ability of states to commit voter fraud with a 5-4 ruling permitting massive purging of voter rolls. The federal National Voter Registration Act prevents states from eliminating voter registrations because people don’t vote. Ohio decided to mail a card, only in English, to people who didn’t vote for two years. If the card is not returned and the person doesn’t vote for another four years, the name is removed from the rolls. There is no proof that the person no longer lives at that address. The decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute permits that process.

Excuses for purging and mandated photo voter ID are voter impersonation, people voting twice, vote buying, absentee fraud, and voter intimidation. A study found 0.000003 alleged cases of fraud for every vote cast, but at least 5 million people are disenfranchised, the vast majority being minorities, women, elderly, and poor.

Approximately 25 percent of black voting-age citizens lacks a government-issued photo ID, compared with 8 percent of white voting-age citizens. Only 50.8 percent of white voters ages 18 to 29 were asked for ID compared to 72.9 percent of young black voters and 60.8 percent of young Hispanic voters. Minority voters are less likely to have flexible work hours or own transportation, creating a greater struggle to get IDs and cast ballots.

Republicans managed to destroy ACORN, a community organization that advocated for low- and moderate-income families in social issues such as neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, and affordable housing. Conservative activist James O’Keefe secretly filmed staged and edited misleading interactions to portray low-level personnel as encouraging criminal behavior, and ACORN lost its funding.

Negative publicity from these videos led to punitive laws in at least 23 state for strict photo ID, limits on early voting, elimination of same-day voter registration, closures of polling places, restrictions on student voting, purging voter rolls, etc. The Supreme Court decision striking down part of the Voting Rights Act limited oversight of the new laws designed to limit votes to whites. A DOJ report explained the reasoning provided by Rep. Sue Burmeister, sponsor of Georgia’s voter restriction law:

“If there are fewer black voters because of this bill, it will only be because there is less opportunity for fraud. [Burmeister] said that when black voters in her black precincts are not paid to vote, they do not go to the polls.”

In North Carolina, Republican consultant Carter Wrenn admitted that the myth of voter fraud is only an excuse, “Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” He explained that the Republicans want to protect their majority.

Wrenn calls it “political”; I call it fraud.

August 22, 2018

‘Voter Fraud’: Gerrymandering, Officials Controlling Their Elections

After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lost the popular vote for his current position, he persuaded many of his followers that over three million undocumented immigrants had illegally voted for Hillary Clinton, coincidentally the number of votes he was short. To prove his point, he set up a special commission to find evidence to prove his claims. Only DDT’s true believers were allowed any information about the commission’s work, and one of its members sued to get documents as simple as times, agendas, and minutes of the meetings held in secret. He said that the documents show “a pre-ordained outcome to this commission to demonstrate widespread voter fraud, without any evidence to back it up.”

The commission became nationally known when it demanded extensive personal information about every voter in the nation. In at least one state, Colorado, people dropped their voter registration in response. Documents indicated that the commission was considering a demand for all information of people excluded from jury duty. The commission’s plan was also to promote the faulty Crosscheck program that promised but failed to identify duplicate registration.

The leader of the task force, also the leader of the voter suppression legislation across the United States, is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Despite the judgments against him in court, including one judge ordering lawyer Kobach to take remedial legal classes, he initially garnered 191 more votes for governor in the GOP primary than opponent in an election with over 300,000 votes for the seven GOP candidates. At least until 100 votes appeared for Kobach’s opponent, gubernatorial incumbent Jeff Colyer, when a county clerk pointed out an error in Kobach’s reporting, making the difference between the two only 121 votes with 8,000-10,000 outstanding provisional ballots. Meanwhile county clerks reported that totals posted by the office of the Secretary of State, Kobach’s office, were missing votes for his opponent. Yet Kobach proceeded with campaigning for the general election, comfortable that he will win. The deadline for the final count was to be August 21, less than two weeks. The debacle continued for several days with other violations.

Public outrage forced Kobach out of any voters’ counts so he appointed his assistant Eric Rucker to certify the final election results. A donor to Kobach’s campaign, Rucker formerly served as top aid to an earlier Kansas AG during the AG’s investigation for misleading judges and a grand jury in the probe into the murder of Dr. George Tiller who performed abortions in Overland Park. The state suspended the AG’s law license for professional misconduct, and Rucker was admonished for not correcting misleading information he provided to the state supreme Court. Last year, a former employee sued Rucker after he told her grandmother that she had been fired because she didn’t go to church. All the ballots submitted after the election pushed the number of votes to Kobach, and Colyer conceded the primary a week ago.

Kansas is a red state, but Sam Brownback, the evangelical Catholic governor until DDT appointed him for U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom this year, drove the state into massive debt with his huge tax cuts. GOP voters are concerned about people not turning out for Kobach because they don’t want to return to Brownback’s problems.

Kobach isn’t the only state official controlling his own election by setting policies for people who can vote and then announcing the actual count. Governor of Florida Jeb Bush, when his brother George W. was the subject of controversial votes in the state that gave Bush the presidency with the help of the U.S. Supreme Court, promised to “deliver Florida” to his brother. Katherine Harris, Florida’s Secretary of State and co-chair of George W.’s state campaign, was more help to Jeb. In George W.’s 2004 run, and Ohio GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell co-chaired W.’s state campaign while overseeing the election that gave W. his second term. After Blackwell’s voter suppression activities during that election, he stayed secretary of state while running for governor. Ohio GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted, candidate for lieutenant government, purged over two million people from voter rolls since 2011.

In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp won the primary to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate in this fall’s general election. His history shows a number of voter violations (aka fraud). After 670 ballots were cast in a county with 276 registered voters, the number of registered voters magically changed to 3,704 after a federal lawsuit. Georgia has no paper record of votes, and the computers were erased the day before watchdogs were authorized to examine them in a legal proceeding. In the past, husband and wife registered at the same address were assigned different polling places and districts, and a voting machine provided a ballot for another congressional district. In one district, a results tape from a computer showed that it had not collected any votes at the close of the election, and in another precinct a race in a congressional district were omitted from a results tape. In response to the investigation of his failing to process registration applications of minority voters, Kemp investigated voter advocacy groups.

Kemp is known for being sloppy as secretary of state: three years ago, he released personal identifying information, including Social Security numbers for six million people to the media, political parties, and other paying subscribers who legally buy voter information from the state. Kemp called it a “clerical error.” He knows that Georgia’s computers are vulnerable to Russian hacking but refuses to accept a paper record for voting. His argument is that it could “subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of federalizing elections under the guise of security.” Only five states, including Georgia, cannot be audited because the voting machines have no paper trail. Kemp also uses Exact Match to eliminate voter registrations if a typographical error occurs; twice as many blacks as whites were blocked from the rolls. In a state where population increased, the number of voter registrations decreased.

County officials appear to be helping Kemp with potential fraud: officials in a largely black Georgia county, population 7,000, closed seven of nine polling places with no justification for its claim of inaccessibility to people with disabilities.

Like GOP state officials in other states, especially secretaries of state, Kemp has the ability to commit voter fraud, that Kobach is supposedly fighting, such as easily-hacked computers at polls, purges of voter rolls, failure to register voters until after an election, investigations to intimidate groups registering minorities, etc. For the first time in the state’s history, a black woman is running for governor—against Brian Kemp. And he has control of the voting. The legislature stays white and Republican in a state with fewer than 40 percent white population because of gerrymandering.

In another case reflecting voter fraud through districting to favor Republicans, Democrat Danny O’Connor is fighting to win a special election for the U.S. House in the badly gerrymandered Ohio District 12. GOP Troy Balderson has been ahead since August 7, but some found votes, reminiscent of the magical discovery of 7,500 votes in Wisconsin in 2011 that elected GOP state Supreme Court justices, appeared after reports of election results. As provisional and absentee ballots dribble in, Balderson has maintained enough lead to win but perhaps not to avoid a recount, mandated if he wins by .5 percent or less, about 1,000 votes difference. With about 3,000 ballots left, O’Connor is behind by 1,781. The deadline is August 24. No matter the result, the two candidates will oppose each other in the upcoming general election. (Right, Ohio District 12)

Kobach maintained that voter fraud matters in close contests and asserted immediately after the August 7 election that he didn’t know how many non-citizens voted in his primary. Once Colyer conceded, he said, “It is highly unlikely that voter fraud changed the outcome.” He bragged about the new Kansas law that made the state with “the most secure election laws in the country” although a federal judge struck down the law last June. Until Colyer conceded, Kobach criticized the judge’s ruling as a concern for Kansas voter fraud. Winning seems to have erased any of Kobach’s concerns about voter fraud, especially when he’s in a position to help facilitate it. Now he can campaign for the general election and start worrying about voter fraud again.

August 20, 2018

Recent Court Decisions Lean toward ‘We the People’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:14 PM
Tags: ,

Despite the attempt of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to load the courts with far-right judges prejudiced against human rights, some decisions still follow the law and the U.S. Constitution to move the United States forward.

Decisions:

The classic case in the past two weeks caused a judge to declare “Turn the plane around!” Discovering that the DOJ had deported a migrant mother and daughter before they had their day in court, the federal judge ordered, “Turn that plane around.” He called the government conduct “outrageous” and threatened to hold AG Jeff Sessions in contempt. The case concerned Sessions’ declaration that fear of gang violence and domestic abuse do not provide bases for asylum in the U.S. The two plaintiffs landed in El Salvador and stayed on the plane until it was turned around. The ACLU is suing AG Jeff Sessions for his “evisceration of asylum protections” in removing gang and domestic violence are criteria for asylum-seekers. Three weeks past the deadline to return all migrant children to their families, 565 children are still separated.

Meanwhile, DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy has reduced efforts to deal with serious problems—gang violence, human smuggling, drug trafficking, etc.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that the teenager shot and killed in Mexico by a Border Patrol agent through the fence is entitled to U.S. constitutional protections against the unreasonable use of deadly force and denied “qualified immunity” to the officer so that he can be sued.

A judge released Antonio de Jesus Martinez from jail and granted an emergency stay to keep him being deported. The El Salvadoran came to the U.S. in 2003 and married a U.S. citizen. They have two children, an almost three-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son. Martinez was detained in jail for eight weeks after his interview applying for residency status. The ACLU lawsuit is opposing the policy of detaining noncitizen spouses who begin the process of seeking permanent residency.

A fourth judge, this one appointed by DDT, has ruled against removing Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation.

The second judge ruled that two cases challenging DDT’s citizenship question on the 2020 census may continue.

A confidentiality agreement between DDT and former staffer Jessica Denson is limited in scope, possibly negatively affecting DDT’s success in his lawsuits regarding violations of his nondisclosure agreements, because the NDA wording does not list any “dispute between the parties.” Denson is suing the campaign for harassment and discrimination—”severe and pervasive slander, aggravated harassment, attempted theft, cyberbullying, and sexual discrimination and harassment”—seeking $25 million in damages. A judge ruled that the NDA wording was insufficient to force her into arbitration because it does not list any “dispute between the parties.” DDT’s other NDAs include those with Omarosa Manigault Newman, Karen McDougal, and Stormy Daniels.

The Supreme Court ruled that 21 youth plaintiffs between 11 and 22 years old may continue their climate change lawsuit and denied the DDT administration request for a stay.

“EPA may not employ delay tactics to effectively repeal a final rule while sidestepping the statutorily mandated process for revising or repealing that rule on the merits,” D.C. Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and Robert Wilkins wrote. The suit concerned a chemical disaster rule that the EPA tried to delay through a rule covering all administration provisions from President Obama’s terms. This rule was in response to the 2013 deadly explosion at the West (TX) fertilizer plant. The judges pointed out that EPA actions “delayed life-saving protections.” Other courts have opposed the EPA delay tactics: a GOP-appointed federal trial judge in South Carolina enjoined the EPA’s suspension of the “waters of the U.S.” to broaden the scope of “waters” nationwide. U.S. District Judge David Norton of the District of South Carolina wrote in his decision:

“Just because the political shoe is on the other foot does not mean that nationwide injunctions are no longer appropriate. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that Scott Pruitt’s dropping a proposed EPA ban on pesticide linked to brain damage in unborn babies and young children violated federal law and ordered the EPA to complete the ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days. The court declared that the EPA had scientific evidence of the neurodevelopmental damage.

A jury awarded more than $289 million to a former school groundskeeper who claimed he was diagnosed with terminal cancer after using Monsanto Co.’s weed killer Roundup and Ranger Pro. German conglomerate Bayer AG bought Monsanto for $62.5 billion.

A federal judge closed the loophole for funneling secret “dark money” into political ads because it blocked Congress’ intent to disclose political donations. The loophole had stated that non-profit organizations did not need to disclose donors if the contributions were not designated for specific advertising.

After judges ruled against HHS in five cases, the agency will reinstate grants for 81 groups working to prevent teen pregnancies in the five-year Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) instead of stopping the funding two years early. The Trump administration this year announced new abstinence criteria for receiving the funding, and HHS tried to stop funding the TPPP because its criteria did not emphasize sexual abstinence.

The Tribal Lifeline program, helping tribal members get telephone, cell phone, and internet service, will temporarily be partially preserved after a federal ruling put on hold the FCC elimination of the $9.25 monthly subsidy, began in 1985 that helps cover offset the limited infrastructure in Indian Country.

A federal judge ruled that the State Department must conduct a full environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline’s new Nebraska route before it goes forward.

Investors can sue Exxon Mobil and its executives, including former State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson, for securities fraud relating to climate change. Exxon misrepresented its procedures to keep its AAA rating when oil and gas prices started falling.

After Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court overturned a 2012 law, 60,000 Pennsylvanians can again apply for the $205 monthly General Assistance.

A judge in Michigan ruled that “gender” includes trans people in a hate crime when a man attacked a transgender woman. Michigan laws don’t include sexual orientation and gender identity, but it does include “race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.”

Three federal judges rejected a request by Ohio GOP legislators to dismiss a lawsuit to scrap the gerrymandered congressional district map. The supreme Court had overturned other court decisions in Wisconsin and Maryland, but only on technical terms.

Poverty is not a crime, a federal judge ruled when he decided that New Orleanians who owe money from criminal convictions may plead poverty in a “neutral forum” before being put in jail for failure to pay. Louisiana joins three other states—Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama—prevented by court ruling to jail people for being “unable” to pay fines. The court is not making law, merely reminding governments that the Supreme Court declared in 1983 that courts cannot legally send people to jail for inability to pay fees.

Brock Turner, convicted of sexual assault, lost his appeal to have the conviction overturned and will be required to register as a sex offender for his entire life. He pled “outercourse,” not intercourse with his drugged victim.

Suing:

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is suing the DOJ for its refusal to turn over documents about a letter regarding how states maintain voter rolls because of a concern about aggressively purging voter registration. Voter purging has greatly increased, with almost 4 million voters’ names taken off the rolls between 2006 and 2008.

A veterans group is suing to block the VA control of DDT’s three friends from Mar-a-Lago who also fail to disclose their activities as required by federal law. Congressional Democrats are also investigating the situation and calling for hearings and a probe into the secret group’s influence.

In a panic after North Carolina elected a Democratic governor, the GOP General Assembly passed a number of laws removing his power in the last months of 2016. Gov. Roy Cooper has sued to have many of them removed, the most recent two amendments that give the General Assembly the power to fill judicial vacancies and create a bipartisan board of elections. The Republicans’ past record against Cooper has not been entirely successful.

Angela Diers, fired for telling co-workers that she hates “f–king Mexicans,” claims she deserves unemployment benefits because DDT’s election makes hate speech acceptable in the workplace. An administrative law judge ruled in her favor. On her employer’s appeal, Iowa’s Employment Appeals Board overturned the decision and disqualified her from receiving benefits. But it’s only a matter of time before this kind of hate speech becomes legally acceptable.

August 19, 2018

DOJ Protects Discrimination, Sexual Assault by Christians

Hypocritical evangelist Franklin Graham brought his religion that supports sexual assault and serial lying to Oregon in an attack on Gov. Kate Brown in an address to 12,000 people in Canby (OR). Because Brown practices yoga, an exercise used for health and relaxation, Graham accused her of not being a Christian and called on the crowd to pray for her to “come to know your son Jesus Christ as her lord and savior.” Graham’s speech, “Sodom and Gomorrah,” claimed that “secularism and communism are one and the same.”

[According to Christian thought, the sins of Sodom are gang rape, violence, inhospitality, pride, arrogance, inhospitality, and failure to help the poor and needy—not exercise. Note Matthew 6:1 – “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”]

Following Graham’s determination to make the United States a mandated Christian nation, AG Jeff Sessions has created a “Religious Liberty Task Force” to enforce his mandate that federal agencies take the broadest possible interpretation of Christian “liberty,” which he calls “religious liberty.” Sessions’ action prevents the IRS from removing the tax-exempt status of churches that actively promote political candidates, prohibited by law. Grants from any agency for sex education and reproductive care will require an abstinence-only approach, workers can be denied insurance for contraception, and employers can hire only Christians.

As the number of Christians in the United States shrinks, their rights increase through their Supreme Court wins in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014) and Trinity Lutheran v. Comer (2017), the latter forcing taxpayers to give funds to Christian churches. Last May, Sessions created a new office to watch for “any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law.” In July, he tried to use the bible, Romans 13, as justification for his cruelty in separating immigrant children from their families. Sessions personal religious group, the United Methodist Church, formally censured him, including his misrepresentation of the Christian faith.

Sessions’ speech announcing his new task force emphasized the need to eradicate secularism, calling it a “dangerous movement.” He claimed that “courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law” and people can label religious groups as a “hate group,” possibly referring to the Southern Poverty Law Center designation of the Christian Family Research Council that constantly lies about and attacks LGBTQ people and Muslims while it supports white nationalists. Sessions also reassured the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) that he believes that they are not a hate group for their hate attacks against LGBTQ people and claimed that the DOJ does not “partner with any groups that discriminate.”

Rev. Dr. Barber said:

“The rationale that is used to say businesses ought to be able to deny an LGBT person, is the same rationale that segregationists used.”

In his announcement speech for his task force, at the DOJ “Religious Liberty Summit,” Sessions said, among other falsehoods,“We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives.” Nuns had been required to sign a form refusing to include contraceptives in insurance for employees. Other accusations concerned a confirmation question to HUD Secretary Ben Carson about supporting LGBTQ rights and questions to judicial nominee Wendy Vitter about her anti-reproductive rights activism. Sessions also referred to “the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips,” whose case refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple was decided by the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission this past June. (Phillips may be back; he has now refused to serve a transgender woman.)

Another speaker at the announcement, Catholic Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to promote discrimination against LGBTQ workers and same-gender couples who want to legally marry. Kurtz advocated for state-funded adoption agencies’ permission to reject prospective LGBTQ parents.

Sessions and Kurtz want to put everyone in the United States under control of Christian religion including the Catholic Church that protected over 300 leaders sexually abusing over 1,000 victims during the past 70 years— just in one state. If a secular institution were in charge, the sexual abusers “would have been arrested under the RICO federal laws [and] considered organized crime,” according to Pennsylvania State Rep. Mark Rozzi. Instead, the Catholic Conference spent millions of dollars to block any legislation to protect future victims and still continues to fight laws to prevent further victimization. Sessions’ actions in his leadership of the DOJ helps protect the sexual abusers in any church.

How the Church and law officials protected sexual abusers, according to the grand jury:

  • Those with information about sexual abusers were told, “Never say ‘rape’; say ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues.'”
  • Fellow clergy members who investigated were ordered  to “ask inadequate questions and then make credibility determinations” about their colleagues, with whom they lived and worked.
  • Clergy members were sent to church-run psychiatric treatment facilities “for an appearance of integrity.”
  • A priest’s removal was explained as his being “sick” or having “nervous exhaustion.”
  • Priests who raped children were still provided with housing and living expenses.
  • If communities learned about the priests’ abuses, the clergy stayed in the priesthood but were moved new to locations where no one knew about their crimes.
  • Child sex abuse was not treated as a crime.
  • Law enforcement who learned about the abuses “simply deferred to church officials.”

Stories about protected crimes committed by Catholic priests that came out from the grand jury are horrifying:  

  • “A priest raped a girl, got her pregnant, and arranged an abortion. The bishop expressed his feelings in a letter—[to the priest]: ‘This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.’” The priest remained in his position.
  • The bishop in the Diocese of Erie heard a priest confess to anal and oral rape “of at least 15 boys, as young as seven years old” before he called the priest “a person of candor and sincerity,” and congratulated him on “the progress he has made” in handling his “addiction.”
  • In the Diocese of Harrisburg, a priest abusing five sisters in one family “collected samples of the girls’ urine, pubic hair, and menstrual blood,” but the diocese “remained unwilling” to confront the priest after finding his “collection.
  • The Diocese of Pittsburgh dismissed a priest’s abuse because he said he was “literally seduced” by a 15-year-old boy despite his admitting to “sado-masochistic” activities with several boys; the diocese said that the sado-masochism was only “mild” and at least the priest was not “psychotic.”
  • A boy was forced to stand naked, posing like Christ on the cross, while priests took pictures and added them to a collection of child pornography that they produced and distributed on the church campus.

As horrific as these revelations are, sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been known for decades—perhaps even centuries. And Catholics are not alone: the evangelical Christian churches, those now running the United States, also conceal their sexual abuse, largely with impunity. High-profile leaders such as Paige Patterson and Bill Hybels fell from their pedestals, but a decentralized church structure ignores sexual abuse. Boz Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson said, “Sexual abuse is the most underreported thing—both in and outside the church—that exists.” A former Florida assistant state attorney, he saw dozens of sexual assault victims unprotected by church leadership and church constituents who abused members of their flock.

Tchividjian said that sexual abuse in evangelical churches is worse than that in the Catholic Church, adding that the Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers. Columnist Dan Savage found over 100 instances of youth pastors who, between 2008 and 2016, were accused of, arrested for, or convicted of sexually abusing minors in a religious setting. The tip of the iceberg, these cases are just those publicized. Wade Mullen, director of the M.Div. program at Capital Seminary & Graduate School, found 192 cases in 2016 and 2017 of leaders in an influential church or evangelical institution charged with sex crimes involving a minor, including rape, molestation, battery and child pornography —and these didn’t include those committed by other than leaders or against adults and those who weren’t charged.

Of 166 people at Bob Jones University who reported being victims of sexual abuse, the school discouraged half of them from going to the police, and one BJU official told a victim who reporting sexual abuse by his grandfather that he “tore your family apart” and “you love yourself more than you love God.”

Those who claim that sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is in the past refuse to see how religious leaders block any laws against sexual abuse in Christian churches, both Catholic and Protestant. While Sessions promotes discrimination by Christians against all others, he fails to protect victims of sexual assault,many in the name of Christianity. Evangelicals who rant against consenting same-gender relationships and same-gender couples trying to adopt unwanted children should clean their own house before attacking others–but they won’t. It’s all a matter of power over others.

August 18, 2018

DDT: Week 82 – ‘Full of Sound & Fury’

The feeling of being besieged has driven Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to lash out in all directions with increasingly virulent tweets, statements, and orders. Seething with the report that his beloved military parade would cost $90 million, he accused the Washington, D.C. of inflating the cost before canceling the project. Instead he plans to attend one in Paris. The Pentagon had already postponed the parade until next year because it would have to pay half the price of the parade, scheduled for this November. Instead of putting money into more healthcare for veterans, DDT promised to “buy some more jet fighters.” Lockheed has the F-35s on sale for $91.1 million, giving DDT about $900,000 left over after he gets one “jet fighter.”

As social media tries to control the false information that it spreads, DDT, perhaps worried that lack of false information will affect the fall election, tweeted:

“Let everybody participate, good & bad, and we will all just have to figure it out!”

DDT opposes the decision to suspend Alex Jones’ program for his hate speech. Jones, a good friend of DDT, is known for his conspiracy theories, including the false accusation that no one died at Sandy Hook Elementary School because the dead children were actors.

A huge frustration for DDT during the past week came from the media focus on Omarosa Manigault Newman after the release of her new book, Unhinged,  and the beginning of her releasing damning tapes made during her time with DDT. Furious with Omarosa, DDT called on AG Jeff Sessions to arrest her although he didn’t cite any broken laws. That demand came after DDT’s campaign sued Omarosa, asserting that her new book broke her 2016 confidentiality agreement. He forced people who worked for his campaign or in his White House to sign the NDAs to not “demean or disparage publicly” DDT, his company, or any member of his family. Omarosa has been been accused of a lack of ethics for taping her conversations, especially the one when Chief of Staff took her into the situation Room to fire her, but no one questions that her information is inaccurate.

DDT’s daughter-in-law, Eric’s wife Lara, tried to persuade Omarosa to work for the campaign for a monthly salary of $15,000 if she stopped publication of her book and said only positive things about her time with DDT. The “offer,” which Omarosa taped, raises the question of whether campaign donations can be used to quiet people if it appears to be attached to a job. The DDT campaign has a pattern of this hush money, including employees such as former White House aide John McEntee and Keith Schiller, who got $15,000 a month. Even Fox & Friends thinks that Omarosa has come out on top of the battle. Host Brian Kilmeade claimed that Omarosa “outsmarted” DDT, but he hasn’t said anything about the betrayal of the Fox network. DDT did produce an outrage on the media when he called Omarosa a “dog” and “a crazed, crying lowlife.”

DDT’s biggest war this week came from weaponizing the removal of security clearances. Following threats to strip these clearances from others, even those who don’t have them such as James Comey and Andrew McCabe, DDT took the clearance from former CIA director John Brennan, revealing the information through Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ briefing. She read DDT’s announcement that the reason was Brennan’s “risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior,” but DDT changed his story by saying that he attacked Brennan because of the “witch hunt” about the Russian scandal. DDT had no justification for revoking the security clearance other than retaliation and the feeling of power that it gave him.

The order from DDT was signed on July 26, 2018, meaning that DDT waited almost three weeks until he used it for a diversion. In this case it was a combination of Omarosa’s book and the Paul Manafort trial that went to the jury this past week. Now he’s “eager” to strip more clearances, according to White House officials, beginning with current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Although DDT cannot easily fire people, his removal of security clearances makes people unable to complete the job’s responsibilities. In essence, people who criticize him can lose their jobs.

The conservative press supports DDT’s actions—as it does his other actions—in this case because Brennan has openly criticized DDT’s actions, but current and past officials support him. Retired Navy admiral William McRaven, who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden called DDT’s stripping security clearances “McCarthy-era tactics.” He wrote that he would “consider it an honor” if DDT would also revoke his clearance. Sixty former CIA station chiefs, analysts and operations officers as well as a former director of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center wrote “that the country will be weakened if there is a political litmus test applied before seasoned experts are allowed to share their views.” That follows the declaration from 11 former directors and deputy directors of the CIA and one director of national intelligence who called DDT’s action “a political tool.”

DDT also came out in anger against the over 300 newspaper organizations that wrote editorials in opposition to his frequent “mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the ‘enemy of the people,’” as the Boston Globe wrote. It continued, “[In his first year,] he used the word “fake”—as in “fake news,” “fake stories,” “fake media” or “fake polls”—more than 400 times.” Since then, DDT has accelerated his use of these terms. This week, he tweeted about “collusion,” that the media is “pushing a political agenda.” One tweet read, “THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA IS THE OPPOSITION PARTY.”

Outraged at newspapers fighting back against DDT’s constant abuse of the media, conservatives, including former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, accused the newspapers of a double standard because they criticize Sinclair media for carrying the same message on all its stations. Sinclair forces all its stations to carry identical pro-DDT messages whereas the participating editorials expressing support for free press acted voluntarily.

Also this week, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “condemning attacks on the free press.”

The defense in the trial for Paul Manafort, facing 18 charges of tax and bank fraud, rested this week without any witnesses, and the jury began deliberations on Thursday. Angry about the trial, DDT claimed that Manafort “happens to be a very good person” although he repeatedly tried to distance himself from his former campaign manager who worked for him for six months. Two years ago, the news broke about Manafort lobbying to move U.S. opinion toward Russians on behalf of Ukraine’s rulers, and DDT said he had “a crook running my campaign.” At that time, he ordered him fired, in an allegation by Corey Lewandowski. Judge T.S. Ellis III is being guarded by deputy U.S. marshals because he faces death threats. He said, “A thirsty press is essential to a free country.”

In DDT’s war on regulations to give more money to big business, he funded corporations through taking money from people with student loans, failing to protect people from dangerous chemicals, stripping people’s wages by reducing overtime pay rights, putting teenagers into dangerous jobs with long hours, and charging people more money with weakened banking regulations. The primary beneficiaries of these lax regulations are the wealthiest one percent who own 40 percent of the stock market; the top ten percent owns 80 percent. DDT’s latest money-making scheme for the wealthy would permit new uses for the carcinogenic asbestos, such as the out-of-date roofing felt. Russia, the world’s largest asbestos producer is delighted. Russian asbestos producer, Uralasbest, tweeted:

“Donald is on our side! … He supported the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who stated that his agency would no longer deal with negative effects potentially derived from products containing asbestos. Donald Trump supported a specialist and called asbestos ‘100% safe after application.’”

The Russian company stamped their product a seal that included DDT’s image and the words “Approved by Donald Trump.” DDT wrote in 1997 that anti-asbestos efforts were “led by the mob” and tweeted in 2012 that the World Trade Center wouldn’t have burned down in the 9/11 attacks if the “incredibly powerful fire retardant asbestos” had not been replaced with “junk that doesn’t (cont).”

DDT failed to effective contribute to the touching tributes to Aretha Franklin after her death this week. In a statement during a Cabinet meeting, DDT introduced his comments by saying that Franklin had “worked for me.” She performed a few times at a DDT casino, but he made her sound like his servant. Others provided a loving respectful homage to Franklin and her achievements. Fox network tried to honor Aretha Franklin, but the station used a photo of Patti LaBelle.

DDT’s latest Gallup poll is 39 percent approval—the same as his average since he was inaugurated. Among Republicans, his approval is 82 percent, down seven points from last week.

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