Nel's New Day

September 30, 2018

U.S. House: On Recess But Not Forgotten

The House of Representatives may be in recess to campaign for the next six weeks, but GOP members are still up mischief. Their vote to pass another round of tax cuts just before the November midterms gives an additional $3 trillion to the wealthiest people in the U.S. The vote of 220-191 included three Democrats; last year’s tax bill had no Democratic support. Part of the House tax plan costs come from the “Universal Savings Accounts” that has no limit for participation and permits withdrawal of funds before retirement. The shift of savings from taxable accounts primarily benefits the wealthy, the top one-percent of the population who can shift, on average, $9.5 million into tax-free accounts. The average 60 percent of people has $16,000 to shift.

After the last tax cuts, Republicans began to threaten slashing or even eliminating Medicare and Social Security because of the escalating deficit; this will cement that deal. The Republicans can’t campaign on the last tax cut: people believe the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle-class families” by a 2-to-1 margin, 61 percent to 30 percent. With 42 percent of people reporting that they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports the GOP tax plan, compared to 36 percent in favor of those candidates, only 1,039 GOP TV campaign spots, under 12 percent of all GOP TV ads this year, mentioned the new tax bill. That bill was the only GOP accomplishment.

The House has departed at the same time that the Violence against Women Act lapses. Two weeks ago, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) reported negotiations with the Senate, but nothing has come of her promise. Even if the House took action, the GOP senate might oppose it. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the most unhinged supporter of Kavanaugh, is one of six GOP white men on judiciary committee who voted against VAWA in 2013. Graham’s state has the highest rate of women killed by men in 2014, twice the national U.S. average, with 92 percent of the female murder victims knowing their killer and 62 percent having been in an intimate relationship with the murderer. The leniency of court sentencing allowing the attackers back out on the street in a short time is one factor for South Carolina’s high rate of violence against women.

In addition to attempts to starve people by highly restricting food stamps, the farm bill awaiting House members’ return contains three climate and fiscal disasters for the United States:

  • Stop localities from regulating pesticides: This interactive map shows some of the places in danger.
  • Permit wealthy farmers to get crop subsidies: The new bill allows people making over $900,000 annually could give a loophole to exempt partnership, joint ventures, and other corporate farms.
  • Eliminate funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program: Gone would be offsets for some farmer costs such as crop coverings to keep soil and fertilizer in place over the winter, buffer strips that prevent severe soil erosion from storms, and hedgerows as habitat for wild bees and other beneficial insects.

Dark horse Rep. Beto O’Rourke (R-TX) is closing the gap between him and incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the race for Cruz’s position. While the senate was forced to stay in session most of August, O’Rourke was crossing the state, going to all 99 counties, and again Cruz is stuck in Washington, D.C. while the House is in recess. In the last debate, O’Rourke pointed out his opponent’s absences:

“Within months of being sworn to service, your senator Ted Cruz was not in Texas. He was in Iowa. He visited every single one of the 99 counties of Iowa. He went to New Hampshire, South Carolina. He went to the Republican presidential primary states instead of being here. He shut down your government for 16 days in 2013. Too many people were getting too much health care in the United States of America.”

O’Rourke told the crowd that Cruz missed one-fourth of the vote in 2015 and one-half the votes in 2016 and finished by saying, “Tell me, who can miss half the days at work and be rehired for the same job going forward?” Cruz was so positive that the senate would vote on Kavanaugh over the weekend that he canceled a debate with O’Rourke today. After the week’s hiatus before a vote, Cruz tried to reinstate the debate, but O’Rourke said that he was already booked. Donations were double for O’Rourke than Cruz as of June 30, another bad sign. Cruz’s campaign was based on ridiculing O’Rourke, but every attempt backfired.

Not satisfied with just smearing his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Ted Cruz is scamming older people to get campaign funds. Sean Owen wrote that his 88-year-old grandmother received what appears to be a summons from Travis County but is asking for donations to Cruz. He has a pattern of scamming people to get elected. To get people to the Iowa caucuses in 2012, Cruz sent mailers headed “VOTING VIOLATION” with a warning about “low expected voter turnout.” It purported to print the person’s voting scores, not available to the public in that state, and included a chart with false voting “grade” and “score” for the recipient and neighbors. The warning ended with the ominous statement: “A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.””

Incumbent candidate Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted on 60 charges related to fraudulent use of $250,000 in campaign funds in 200 incidences of lavish vacations and dinners, conspiracy, wire fraud, and filing false campaign-finance reports.  Included in the information are at least five of Hunter’s “personal relationships” with photographic evidence. Hunter has denied the charges while he runs racist, anti-Muslim advertising against his opponent. He describes himself as a Christian conservative and committed family man.

New York voters may also get another chance to elect a potential criminal: Rep. Chris Collins, charged with insider trading, decided he will run for re-election this fall after claiming that he wouldn’t. He has an 80 percent chance of winning in the conservative district, according to fivethirtyeight.com.

DDT slammed the DOJ for indicting these two representatives before the mid-term elections. Long live the swamp!

Fearing rough competition to his race to become Florida’s governor, former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) quit four months early to campaign—over 16 percent of the term that his voters expected him to serve. He might use the time to speak at more white supremacist conferences after the four times he addressed ones organized by the David Horowitz Freedom Center audiences. The organizer has said that blacks owe their freedom to whites and that the nation’s “only serious race war” is against white people. He told them that he admires “an organization that shoots straight … and is standing up for the right thing.” DeSantis started campaigning for the general election with the use of “monkey this up” when talking about his black opponent, Andrew Gillum. Tony Ledbetter, Volusia County GOP chair and paid employer for DeSantis’ campaign, posted a demand to move “animals … from our country.” Speakers at Horowitz conferences have made more disgusting comments about minorities, especially blacks. DeSantis resigned as administrator for a racist and Islamophobic Facebook group laden with conspiracy theories immediately after his affiliation was made public. Virginia GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart remained as administrator.

Thanks to the laxness of the FEC, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) violated election rules by keeping money raised for her primary campaign although she faced no challenge. Questioned about her actions, Love said she would keep the money and reclassify it later.

Taxpayers are still ponying up the money to pay for congressional members’ sexual assault settlements because Congress cannot agree on a law to stop it. Congressional workplace misconduct has cost taxpayers almost $15.2 million from 1997 to 2014. Does the Supreme Court have this arrangement to pay victims of sexual assault?

One wealthy donor is fed up with Republicans. Les Wexner, owner and CEO of L-Brands in Ohio, said he is “no longer a Republican” and spoke warmly about President Obama and his theme of bipartisan civility. Wexner said, “I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others.” A year ago, Wexner had told his employees that he felt “dirty” and “ashamed” because of DDT’s response to violence at the Unite the Right rally that killed a person in Charlottesville (VA).

In the NYT, Timothy Egan wrote about the bargain that the GOP made with DDT:

“Republicans would get tax cuts for the well-connected and a right-wing majority on the Supreme Court, and in turn would overlook every assault on decency, truth, our oldest allies and most venerable principles. They expected Trump to govern by grudges, lie eight times a day, call women dogs, act as a useful idiot for foreign adversaries, make himself a laughingstock to the world….

“A lifetime of Republican pieties, put forth by the bow-tied best and brightest, has gone up in a poof. Free trade? It’s been swamped by America First. Balanced budgets, living within our means? Get to love the trillion-dollar deficit, courtesy of those tax cuts.”

GOP congressional members are willing to sell out every Republican value in a sycophancy to DDT including a belief in their party over country.

September 29, 2018

DDT: Week 88 – His Very, Very Bad Time

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had another really bad week. It started with members of the UN General Assembly openly laughing at his opening statements on Monday and ended with the failure of his Supreme Court nominee to get the confirmation after a crying, hysterical, weak, bullying Brett Kavanaugh performed badly at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. In addition, a federal judge ruled that 200 congressional Democrats can sue for violating the U.S. Constitution because of illegally doing business with foreign governments while he is in office. Attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland had a similar lawsuit also accusing him of violating the constitution’s emoluments clause. And Robert Mueller continues the investigation of the Russian scandal.

(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Thursday, the ten-hour hearing with accuser Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh was a dismaying visual of what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called a representation of “we the ruling party” instead of “we the people.” DDT spoke the truth when he said that Kavanaugh’s performance, full of white man’s rage, was “incredible”—because the word means “unbelievable … unconvincing … implausible … highly unlikely.” He also said that it was “something we haven’t seen before,” another accurate statement because the hearing was a low point in U.S. history. Despite smears against Democrats by Republicans and temper tantrums, most notably by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a plea from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led to a one-week hiatus before the floor vote despite the fury of some GOP senators while the FBI investigates the evidence against Kavanaugh. [GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and Chuck Grassley (IA) flank Kavanaugh.] Alexandra Petri has an excellent column on the Kavanaugh situation.

UN representatives laughed at DDT when he bragged about already having accomplished more than nearly every other U.S. president.  During his campaign, DDT called President Obama “a laughing stock to the entire World.” The rest of his speech, focusing on U.S. sovereignty, sounded like a subdued version of his campaign rallies, something not well received by that audience. He said that the U.S. will not “tell you how to live and work and worship” so long as “you respect our sovereignty in return” but attacked several countries.

DDT praised India for reducing poverty, Israel for “vibrant democracy,” North Korea for “courage,” Poland for “standing up” for freedom, and Saudi Arabia for its “bold reforms.” He celebrated Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supported war on Yemen where over 60,000 people have died in only two years, many of them civilians dying in war crimes. Attacks focused on China for unfair trade practices, Germany for its pipeline deal with Russia, and Venezuela for socialism. He also called on the world to isolate Iran, hours after Europe, Russia, and China agreed to a payment deal to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. DDT also endorsed a strict dependence on fossil fuels.

Some of DDT’s vitriol—and lies—were saved for the International Criminal Court, a concern to DDT because of the investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Israeli crimes in Gaza. National security advisor John Bolton has been outspoken in his criticisms of the ICC, perhaps because he could be tried for duping the U.S. into the 2003 preemptive war on Iraq that has brought disaster to both countries for the past 15 years. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country will not enter into any trade deals with countries that have not signed onto the Paris climate agreement. Since every nation signed, the United States is unique in asserting that it is pulling out of the agreement, something that it cannot formally do until November 4, 2020.

WaPo listed 14 of DDT’s lies in his speech, including his inflation of success in legislative acts, economy improvement, jobs creation, tax cuts, building a wall (which he hasn’t), military expenditure. He falsified the trade deficit, North Korea’s secret nuclear production, Iran’s military spending, U.S. foreign aid, China joining the WTO, and rising oil prices that came from DDT’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord and new sanctions, not OPEC and OPEC nations. Dana Milbank wrote that between his lies and his outrageous claims, DDT “spoke as though he had accepted a dare to see how much of the world he could offend in the span of a 35-minute address.” DDT “dissed” “90 percent of the world’s population.”

During the U.N. Security Council meeting, DDT first claimed that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election” before he bragged a few hours later about the great respect he receives from Chinese officials:

“Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”

Conservative author Michael Pillsbury frequently appears on Fox network. DDT added that the Chinese “are doing studies on Donald Trump.”  China’s state-run media characterizes DDT as a clownish buffoon with many reasons to ridicule him. DDT made no mention of Russia’s interference in the election.

DDT failed to meet his self-imposed deadline to persuade Canada to join his new trade deal with Mexico. Both GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and businesses are critical of his failure. The deadline was set to allow current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office, November 30, for fear that the new president will not sign the deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows no interest in accepting DDT’s terms with Mexico, including the increased percentage of vehicles qualifying for duty-free treatment to 75 percent from 62.5 percent and require that much of the vehicle being made by workers with a wage of at least $16 an hour. After the signing, the International Trade Commission has 105 days to evaluate its likely consequences. Congress must approve the new trade deal, and Republicans are very skeptical of a two-country arrangement.

“Trump Effect”:  A 2017 study of middle schools in Virginia found that both teasing and bullying was significantly higher in schools located where a majority of people voted for DDT. No differences were noted in 2013 and 2015. Details here.

The Brett Kavanaugh stories covered the media stories about DOJ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein possibly being fired because of a NYT story that he had suggested taping DDT, contradicted by people at the meeting who said he was being sarcastic. House Republicans wanted to talk to Rosenstein this coming week, but the House, worried about mid-term elections in early November, is in recess until November 13. Before they left, they kept the government open—without money for DDT’s wall—but failed to agree on the farm bill. Permanently authorized and funded programs such as food stamps aren’t affected but 39 other programs had now lapsed.

DDT’s new plan to reduce the number of legal immigrants is to kill them through starvation and lack of health care. A proposed rule will consider public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers as “heavily weighted negative factors” in green card applications. The government will give people the choice to die or be deported. Despite claims of a good economy, wages stay low, with one-third of the work force—40 million people—earning less than $12 per hour with no benefits. The rule doesn’t require congressional approval and can go into effect after a 60-day public review period.

Hurricane Florence damaged over 51,000 homes, 11,000 of them by sea level rise. Seas have risen by at least six inches since 1970. The projected 15-inch sea rise by 2050 will double the impact with the same storm surge. At the same time, climate change is making all storms much stronger and wetter. Projected costs by Florence for the National Flood Insurance Program can be as much as $1.2 billion to make a total of $2.8 to $5 billion insurance losses. Seventy percent of the homes hit by Florence were not insured. FEMA flood maps are out of date, encouraging people to re-build or repair in vulnerable places.

Two weeks after Florence hit, thousands of residents still could not get power from coal-fired utilities while solar installations were running the day after the storm.

South Carolina native Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, is raising money for organizations working with hurricane victims, specifically the Foundation for the Carolinas, The One SC Fun, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, and World Central Kitchen with a new children’s book featuring DDT’s comments about the disaster, including his comment to a survivor about the boat shipwrecked on his property:

“At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane by Donald Trump (accidentally), featuring an image of the boat on the cover, comes out November 6.  [visual]

DDT’s administration reported that the world will be seven degrees hotter in the next 80 years and parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater. DDT is not concerned about climate change: the EPA is dissolving its Office of the Science Advisor who works to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions.

The government lost another 1,488 immigrant children in addition to the 1,475 migrant children separated from families and subsequently lost. DHS said that the government is no longer responsible after they place the children with sponsors. According to recently released memos, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also lied to Congress and the public when she said that the government had no policy of separating families at the border.

DDT started his five-city campaign rally tour in West Virginia where the poverty level increased 12 percent to almost 20 percent. There, he told the crowd that Kim Jong-Un wrote him “beautiful letters” and “we fell in love.”

September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh: Anita Hill Redux

Twenty-seven years after Clarence Thomas, accused of sexual misconduct, was confirmed for the Supreme Court, the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee held another anti-woman Supreme Court nominee hearing, this one featuring Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The day began with Ford’s statement, followed by questions from Democratic judicial committee members and Rachel Mitchell, sex crimes prosecutor for Maricopa County (AZ), the “female”—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) words—hired to ask questions from 11 white male senators on the committee. For the first time in history, these GOP senators hired someone to ask their questions for a better photo-op.

Ford began the ten-hour day with her opening statements specifically describing what Kavanaugh had done to her. She explained the attack in clear language despite a quavering voice. Asking questions for the GOP senators, Rachel Mitchell tried to poke holes in her testimony in the five-minute increments allotted her instead of to GOP senators, asking about drinking or drugs at the event (Ford had neither), mistaken identity (Ford said she was “100 percent” sure that it was Kavanaugh), Ford’s appearance, the timing when she first raised her story and who she told, any donors to her efforts such as paying for the polygraph and lawyer fees.

Fox network’s Chris Wallace pronounced the hearings a “disaster” for Republicans after the first half hour, and NYT White House correspondent Maggie Haberman reported that sources close to DDT said “it was a mistake” to have a sex crimes prosecutor ask questions of Ford instead of GOP lawmakers or another outside counsel. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) raged that Ford “seems credible.”

Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) repeatedly defended his committee’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation and criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, for not telling Republicans immediately of Ford’s letter to her making allegations against the nominee. Feinstein has explained that she promised Ford privacy, that she made the letter public after a media leak and Ford’s permission.

During the recess between her testimony and Kavanaugh’s part of the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) raged “that Democrats are never subjected to accusations of sexual misconduct, and warned them that if Kavanaugh fails, Republicans will gin up false accusations against future Democratic nominees to even the score. Wow.”

In his 2015 autobiography Graham wrote about his prosecutions of rape cases in his 2015 autobiography:

“I learned how much unexpected courage from a deep and hidden place it takes for a rape victim or sexually abused child to testify against their assailants.”

By 2018 Graham has reversed any sense of decency as demonstrated in his attacks against Ford and the Democrats. When a woman came up to him during a recess at the hearings and said she had been raped, he said, “I’m so sorry…you needed to go to the cops.”

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Kavanaugh’s 45-minute rambling, self-aggrandizing opening was directed with fury at Democrats and the “left,” possibly in an effort to please DDT. Instead of neutrality that he had early bragged about, he disparaged the process and expressed anger at the Democrats, claiming that their attacks came from anger at DDT and Hillary Clinton’s electoral loss, calling it “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”  Conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote that “the angry thing is suggesting that he can get out of control. Not a good connection. His roommate said he got ‘aggressive and belligerent.’ YIKES.”

Kavanaugh almost cried throughout the remainder of his opening, behavior that would have been described as “hysterical” if he were a woman. He refused to answer Sen. Diane Weinstein’s (D-CA) question about why he didn’t ask the FBI to look into the allegations, beginning a repeated answer to questions from other Democrat senators. Kavanaugh continually emphasized how he drank beer and how much he likes beer, excusing his behavior because everyone did it. He couldn’t say how much he drank but said that it was legal because the drinking age was 18. According to Maryland law, the age for legal drinking changed to 21 when Kavanaugh was 17.

To questions about Mark Judge from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kavanaugh hedged before he talked about his wonderful personal characteristics, taking up most of Leahy’s five minutes despite attempts to question him. Leahy pointed out that GOP committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) allowed Kavanaugh to filibuster. Earlier, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had said that Judge was “credible” because he had testified under oath and that he didn’t need to testify before the committee because of that testimony.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Kavanaugh that he could save his family name and immediately ask for an FBI investigation, leading to Grassley’s temper tantrum about process before Kavanaugh declared that the FBI “don’t reach conclusions.” Kavanaugh clearly does not want an FBI investigation.

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Graham’s screaming fit after Durbin’s questioning, likely to please DDT, removed any possibility of his becoming a statesman. He lied about Democrats getting an FBI investigation by going to the Republicans and continued to attack Democrats, telling Kavanaugh that he would not get a fair process—and much more. His fury gave the rest of the GOP senators to speak for themselves as they delivered speeches about how horrible the accusations were and how wonderful Kavanaugh is and Rachel Mitchell never spoke again.

Continuing to lose any Supreme Court justice presence, Kavanaugh asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) if she had ever blacked out while drinking—twice—after she asked him that question. He never answered her question, but he did half-way apologize when he came back from break. Earlier he has asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), “Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink?”

Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-UT) voice broke in anger during his speech before he asked a few questions. Kavanaugh’s answers were brief, with none of the filibustering done to avoid questions from Democrats, although his folded arms demonstrated a defensive posture. When Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) followed with questions about forgetting or becoming combative while drinking, Kavanaugh reverted to becoming defensive. His filibustering when Coons asked about descriptions of Kavanaugh’s drinking by Dr. Elizabeth Swisher and Kavanaugh’s freshman Yale roommate James Roche. Again Kavanaugh refused any investigation.

When Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) asked Kavanaugh about descriptions of him as a “sloppy drunk,” Kavanaugh continued filibustering. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was better at moving Kavanaugh along when Booker asked about Kavanaugh’s political animus and got him to say that he didn’t think that this problem extended to Ford. Booker also got in the statement that Ford’s friend, who didn’t remember the party, still believes Ford’s accusations.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked Kavanaugh if he had taken a polygraph test; he said no but that they weren’t admissible in federal court. She also pinned him down on whether he would ask the White House for an FBI investigation. In response to his filibustering, she said, “I’ll take that as a ‘no’ and move on.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) finished by asking Kavanaugh if he believes in God and then asked him if any of the allegations were true. Kavanaugh believes in God and denies any of the accusations. His innuendo smeared Ramirez.

A recurring lie from Grassley was that no Democrat had asked for an FBI investigation. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) finally corrected him, pointing out that Grassley had refused the request from the Democratic senators, Ford, and others to investigate the allegations. For the first time, the judiciary committee, under GOP control, has refused to have any investigation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) reiterated blame for Feinstein in not telling the others about Ford’s accusation, and Feinstein explained the confidentiality of the situation. In response, Cornyn accused Feinstein of leaking the information to the press.

Republican Jon Meacham called today’s hearing “the triumph of mindless tribalism over the truth.” Kavanaugh, already a sitting judge on the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court, completely failed to display the temperament of a judge with a lifetime position. Even if he fails to get the Supreme Court plum, he’ll stay on the other court, able to impose his hysterical, raging behavior on anyone who appeals to that court and wielding his power against Democrats and other progressives.

Charlie Baker (MA), Larry Hogan (MD) and John Kasich (OH) have called on the Senate to delay the Kavanaugh nomination and investigate the three allegations, but Grassley plans to vote on confirmation in committee tomorrow.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to Savannah Guthrie on the Today show about accusers refusing to testify before the judicial committee. Every named accuser has offered to testify under oath but, except for Ford, were refused or ignored. Both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick could not get responses from any GOP committee members.

DDT claims to be delighted about Kavanaugh’s testimony, but the GOP is already losing the support of women.

Women’s support for Kavanaugh is also weakening, down to 27 percent. And that was before today’s hearing.

Yesterday’s lesson to 1,202 public school students at Soddy-Daisy High School from its athletic director/assistant principal Jared Henley in his morning “Helping of Helsley” public announcement about the “no athletics shorts” policy on the day before the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing:

“If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin … well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That’s really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it’ll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.”

Today was a sad day for everyone in the United States—except for those who want a Supreme Court justice who thinks that DDT is above the law. Hensley “lesson” was actually for women–and anyone else who wants justice if the GOP puts Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court: “Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the [GOP] rules.”

September 25, 2018

The GOP Strategy on Sexual Assault

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that his Supreme Court nominee is “fantastic, fantastic.”

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s response to DDT’s “grabbing women by the pussy”: http://goprapeadvisorychart.com/

AG Jeff Sessions’ response:

Former RNC chair and DDT’s press secretary Sean Spicer:

State Rep. Lawrence Lockman (ME) weighs in:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate:

Former Texas state Rep. Myra Crownover agrees:

[Florida law:

Another perspective about attacks:

Plan ahead for attacks:

And so many more.

September 24, 2018

‘Some Interpersonal Verbs, Conjugated by Gender’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:14 PM
Tags: ,

Thanks to Alexandra Petri for the following:

The example sentences below demonstrate the proper English usage of interpersonal verbs, inflected for mood, tense and gender.

Unit 1

He is drinking; he is drunk; he was drunk.
He is just 17; he was just 17.
Remember that he is just a kid; remember that he was just a kid; you must remember he was just a kid.
He cannot know what he is doing; he could not know what he was doing; he cannot have known what he was doing.
See your way clear to letting this go; you must see your way clear to letting this go.
He has his future ahead of him; he had his future ahead of him.
This will ruin his life; this is going to ruin his life.
He makes a mistake; he made a mistake; people make mistakes; mistakes were made.
He did something; she had something done to her; something happened.
These things happen.

She is drinking; she is drunk; she was drunk.
She is 15; she was 15.
She is putting herself in this position; she put herself in that position.
She should know better; she should have known better.
She must think about his future; she must think about her future.
She must say nothing; she will say nothing; she says nothing; she said nothing.
What happens here will stay here; what happens here stays here; what happens here stays.
She carries this; she will carry this.
An incident occurred; an incident derailed her life; her life was derailed.
These things happen.

She should not say anything; she will ruin his life; it will not be real unless she says something.
She should not have waited so long to speak; she should have said something; it could not have been real if she did not say anything.
These allegations will ruin his life; making these allegations will ruin someone’s life; she will ruin her life making these allegations.

She went on to lead a productive life, so how bad can it have been?
She did not go on to lead a productive life, so how can we trust what she has to say?
If it is true, why would she want to remain anonymous? Now that we know her name, we are coming to her house.

It happens. It happened. It was a long time ago.
She waits. She says nothing.
She should not have waited. She should not have said nothing.
She remembers it happened. She remembers it happened to her. She remembers he did something.
She says something.
How can she remember? Does she remember? Is it possible to remember? I don’t remember — who can remember?
She wore something. Did she wear something? What did she wear?
Did she drink? Was she drinking?
Did he drink? Was he drinking?
She should have been responsible. He cannot have been responsible.

It is very hard to imagine that anything happened. Did it happen? It was a long time ago. She said nothing.
He does not remember.
He remembers that it did not happen. He remembers that he did nothing. He remembers that he was absent.

Unit 2 (Advanced)

If it happened (although it did not happen), it would not have been wrong.
If it happened (it may have happened; he did not do it, but it may have happened), it was only to be expected.
These things happen. (He did not do it.)
These things happen. (Even if he did it, it was only a thing that sometimes happens.)

We cannot know what happened; she does not know what happened; he knows what happened.
Nothing happens; nothing happened; something happened to her; he did nothing; this is how it always happens.
This is how a thing he did became something that happened to her; this is how something he did becomes something that happens.

[Note: And we will declare a vote before testimony because he is a husband, a father, a friend–no matter what he might have done.]

September 22, 2018

DDT: Week 87 – A Very Bad Time

Paul Manafort flipped, Michael Cohen is testifying to investigator Robert Mueller, and Supreme Court justice nominee is in trouble after a sexual misconduct accusation. These events led to the longest hiatus of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) angry tweets since his inauguration. Friday, however, he went on the attack against Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh with an ugly tweet insinuating that the attack was not “as bad as she says,” otherwise her “loving parents” would have “notified the Law Enforcement Authorities [sic].” Even gullible Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was appalled at his message.

The past week has been hard on DDT in other ways. On Monday, he declared that he would release classified information that could damage the national security of the U.S. and alienate allies. He didn’t review the documents, but his action would be a conflict-of-interest because they related to investigations of close associates personally affect him. Faced with opposition from saner heads—including his own officials in FBI and DOJ—DDT doubled down after he “watched commentators that I respect begging the president of the United States to release them …. the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful, great Jeanine Pirro.” Other people who had also not seen the classified materials. DDT also invented people, including anonymous Democrats, who supported the release of the materials and claimed that the investigation into the Russian scandal has been “discredited.”

Early Friday, DDT, impatient with the normal declassification system, ordered that documents be released “on an expedited basis.” He said if they were not immediately released that “I can always declassify if it proves necessary.”  Later that day, DDT backed down on his four-day-old order, saying that the DOJ and foreign allies have called on him to not release the documents. Once again, he claimed he wanted “transparency,” something not available in the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice.

DDT is also caught between his old BFF Vladimir Putin and his new BFF Kim Jong-Un. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of “cheating” on international sanctions against North Korea by illegally helping the country acquire oil and coal. Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied Haley’s charges. State Department Secretary had earlier accused Russia of undermining North Korea sanctions.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in visited Kim in North Korea last week and developed a closeness that may disturb DDT’s relationship with Kim. Kim and Moon announced inter-Korean agreements from easing military tensions to more family reunions, and Kim said he would visit South Korea, the first North Korean leader to do so. Their growing positive relationship may not help the U.S. though, because Kim declared that the U.S. must cake “corresponding measures” before North Korea would dismantle its nuclear facilities. China would support South Korea, especially after DDT’s recent bullying tactics with tariffs, creating a greater rift with the U.S. DDT should support Moon to preserve peace, but he rarely does the appropriate thing, especially if DDT gets jealous.

DDT keeps threatening social media for its “liberal” bent, but a report by Data & Society shows that YouTube lends itself to far-right views because it has a monetary interest in keeping these influencers on the site. Data from 62 political influencers on 81 different channels, the “Alternative Influence Network,” push reactionary right-wing ideas to promote their “authenticity” and build an audience. The lack of any rebuttal makes them able to successful communicate their message. For example, YouTube allowed the conspiracy theory that student survivors from the school shooting in Parkland (FL) were “crisis actors.” Although YouTube has made some attempts to curb misinformation suffers from its need for advertising revenue.

Despite DDT’s attempts to downplay the disasters of the flooding in the southeastern made him look like a buffoon. He did say that the storm was “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water,” but his first question in North Carolina was “How is Lake Norman doing?” Told it was fine, he said, “I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” Probably because his Trump National Golf Club is in that area.

Wearing gloves, DDT handed out a few box lunches with hot dogs, chips, and fruit to people who had been waiting for over an hour. Pointing to a boat that had crashed into a victim’s property, DDT said, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.” In South Carolina, DDT said, “I think the most exciting part is the rebuild.” In the same manner as when he threw paper towels at victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and greeted Houstonians attacked by Hurricane Harvey, he told the people “have a good time” when he left. In a case of supreme irony, DDT retweeted a message from FEMA: “During disasters, it’s critical to avoid spreading false information.” DDT told 5,000+ lies during his first 601 days.

DDT’s position that nuclear and coal-fired power is the best answer to providing energy to homes and businesses, especially during crises. He had planned to use a law from the Truman era to force grid operators to buy electricity from nuclear and coal plants. Shortly before Tropical Storm Florence’s landfall, Duke Energy shut down two nuclear reactors. Floodwaters had not reached the nuclear plants, but they were shut down until roads were accessible for the possibility of evacuation.

Coal ash from the L.V. Sutton Power Station (left), eight miles northwest of Wilmington (NC), has overflowed into Cape Fear River spreading hazardous heavy metals harmful to human health on its way to the ocean. Floodwaters breached a dam at Sutton Lake in several places; the lake overtopped, and water flowed into other part of the plant. The rising river is expected to crest today after the state experienced a record for most rain recorded during any tropical storm or hurricane by almost one foot. Florence has killed at least 43 people and will cost as much as $50 billion, perhaps more because of DDT’s tariffs.

Always the businessman, DDT told Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell that Spain should built a wall across the Sahara Desert to restrict immigrants coming into the country. A wall across 3,000 miles of hostile desert would cut through five North African countries and do nothing to protect Spain’s 4,000 miles of coastline. According to Borrell, Spain has had about 20,000 immigrants thus far into a nation with a population of over 40 million. DDT is also fuming because the recent spending bill that the House passed does not include his own wall against Mexico.

DDT continues to show ignorance about his powers. About the former FBI director, “I should have fired Comey the day I won the primaries.” Then he added, “I should have fired him right after the convention”

The Washington-based transparency group Property of the People has published resumes of 2,700 political appointees in DDT’s administration and listed their woeful inadequacies. One was a former Chicago-area utility worker and bouncer, another a sales representative for a motorized scooter company in South Florida. One woman’s accomplishment was that she “recognized that Donald J. Trump would be the next president of the U.S.” Details indicate that the vast number of DDT’s choices worked for directly for businesses or as lobbyists before they assumed positions that are supposed to protect people from these businesses. The resumes are available here.

DDT promised to do away with the deficit, but it’s $895 billion for the first 11 months of fiscal year 2018—a 32.8 percent increase over those months of 2017 with not one peep out of most Republicans. Projections are $1 trillion for this fiscal year—and that’s without DDT’s space patrol, wall, infrastructure, help for Tropical Storm Florence, and the $200 billion a year loss from the GOP’s tax bill. DDT’s deficit is double that of the annual average of President Obama’s last three years. DDT is following the same system that drove his businesses in bankruptcy—debt, debt, and more debt.

DDT is no longer bragging about his high approval with black people in the U.S.: it is now three percent.

September 18, 2018

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’

Toxic masculinity and our rape culture are front and center this week as Republicans are working to exonerate their new Supreme Court justice nominee from an accusation of attempted rape when he was 17 years old. The conservative response is that he certainly didn’t attack a teenage girl, but if he did, it’s normal behavior for teenage boys. A lawyer close to the White House said, “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”

A letter from Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University and the Stanford University PsyD Consortium, described the way that Kavanaugh shoved her into a room, held her down, tried to take her clothes off, and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming, making her fear for her life. A polygraph test shows she is telling the truth, and she had reported the experience to a therapist six years ago. Kavanaugh has repeated denied even knowing Ford, but he has hired Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered Washington, D.C., trial attorney, to represent him.

Twenty-seven years ago, two current GOP members of the committee—Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—were also committee members who grilled Anita Hill about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thompson’s sexual misconduct before he was confirmed. The committee handled that confirmation hearing shamefully, ignoring another witness about Thomas’ sexual misconduct and failing to delve into Thomas’ behavior that supported Hill’s testimony about his inappropriate actions. Yet both these men avidly support Kavanaugh in a desperate attempt to get a far-right justice on the Supreme Court at any cost.

The day after the media announced Ford’s accusation, Grassley, the committee chair, released a letter from 65 women supporting the nominee. Three days later, only two of the signers stand by their support: dozens don’t respond to questions, and two declined to speak on the record. https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/17/politics/brett-kavanaugh-white-house-supreme-court-nominee/index.html  After yesterday’s nine-hour strategy meeting with Kavanaugh, the White House claimed that many of these women will publicly defend Kavanaugh. The White House also plans a press conference with these women.

Although DDT described Kavanaugh as without “blemish,” the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to hear federal court employees who wanted to speak out against Kavanaugh during his clerking for former 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski after he was accused of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women. Asked if he received any sexually inappropriate emails from Kozinski, Kavanaugh, who was very close to Kozinski, said, “I do not remember receiving any sexually inappropriate emails.” Kozinski was Kavanaugh’s connection to former Justice Anthony Kennedy who got Kavanaugh the nomination. Witnesses to Kavanaugh would testify that he was lying.

Hatch says that he believes Kavanaugh’s denials. Yet, Hatch added, if these allegations turn out to be credible, Kavanaugh is a good person “today”; therefore Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

Yet hundreds of former students who graduated between 1967 and 2018 from Holton-Arms, Fords’ high school, called for an investigation into Kavanaugh stating:

“Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote was scheduled for Thursday, but Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have asked for time to investigate the accusations. Flake is on the Judiciary Commission, and his vote is needed to have the GOP majority for committee confirmation if all Democrats vote against Kavanaugh.

Like Thomas, Kavanaugh perjured himself at least four times during his confirmation hearings according to documents released by Democratic senators—and that information came from only seven percent of his documents released by Kavanaugh’s friend and GOP watchdog Bill Burck. After their release, the documents were still redacted three times, including by Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The “confidential” documents released by Democrats over the objection of Grassley have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with making transparent Kavanaugh’s dishonesty:

Kavanaugh’s interview with Judge William Pryor before his confirmation when Kavanaugh said, “I don’t believe so” when asked if he interviewed Pryor. Three years after Pryor’s nomination, Kavanaugh flatly denied under oath that he had an interview with Pryor. Kavanaugh also lied under oath about not “handling” Charles Pickering during his confirmation proceedings. In an op-ed, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) wrote that Kavanaugh is a “calculated liar who uses dishonesty to advance his own career.”

Kavanaugh’s denial of receiving stolen documents in 2003, documents clearly stolen that Kavanaugh expressed ignorance about the source that was marked “confidential” from a Democrat, has “Spying” as the subject line, and beings with the statement, “I have a friend who is a mole for us on the left.” Kavanaugh said that none of this “raised a red flag.”

Kavanaugh’s false claim about warrantless wiretaps that he first heard about it from the New York Times, when he emailed DOJ lawyer John Yoo over four years earlier than the source that Kavanaugh gave.

Kavanaugh’s writing that Roe v. Wade is not necessarily “settled law of the land” despite his promise to pro-choice senators to the opposite. In confirmation, Kavanaugh changed the term to “precedent,” knowing that all “precedents” can be overturned if he wins his confirmation. In addition to opposing abortion, Kavanaugh is against contraception, as he indicated in this ruling referring to birth control as an “abortion-inducing drug.”

If Kavanaugh is willing to lie about these issues, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about Ford’s statements.

Kavanaugh should not only be removed from nomination to the Supreme Court for his perjury but also impeached from his current position as judge on the Washington, D.C. Appeals Court. When he lied under oath in 2004, senators did not have access to his emails showing that he had lied; now they are in the public domain. Lisa Graves knows that Kavanaugh lied: she wrote some of the memos that Kavanaugh received from GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda, the ones that he said he denied received and then said that he didn’t know were stolen. As a member of Ken Starr’s impeachment team, Kavanaugh argued that President Bill Clinton should be impeached for lying under oath. Using Kavanaugh’s own standard, he should be impeached for lying under oath.

The Democratic Coalition plans to file an ethics complaint against Kavanaugh for his answers about whether he received stolen documents. Complaints are typically reviewed by the chief judge of the court, who in this case is Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court who was completely ignored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The 11 white male GOP senators on the judiciary committee have noticed that their gender may be a problem: they are considering the use of female aides to question Ford during the hearings. Grassley is already dodging the problem of 11 white male GOP senators questioning Ford, especially after the many clips showing the brutal questioning of Anita Hill in Clarence Thomas’ hearings 27 years ago, by declaring himself a victim. Asked on Hugh Hewett’s radio show if these all-white, all-male GOP senators might subject Ford to “insensitivity or indifference,” Grassley accused journalists of being “very insensitive to Chuck Grassley, because I’m the only chairman when it says Chairman Grassley, chairman of the aging, or chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 84 years old…. So there’s already discrimination against me.” The ten Democrats on the judiciary include four women and three people of color.

Where Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings stand as of the evening of 9/18/18:

Kavanaugh’s former classmate Mark Judge, who has written reams about his drunken lifestyle and Kavanaugh’s drinking as a teenager, wrote a brief letter stating that he won’t testify to the senators about Ford’s claim that he was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. He has “no memory” about what happened.

In a first, DDT carefully kept to his script when he said that there is no need for a rush to complete the confirmation, that he wants to hear both sides. It’s a first. Like his reactions to Roy Moore, Rob Porter, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Jim Jordan, and others accused and sometimes found guilty of sexual misconduct, DDT talks about how much these people are suffering and consistently refers to Ford as “the woman.”

Ford said that she has received death threats, been forced to more from her home, and had her computer hacked. After insults from GOP senators, she said that she will wait to testify until after the FBI investigates her claims and Kavanaugh’s behavior.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) also called for an investigation into an issue regarding a life-time term in the nation’s highest court. The order must come from DDT, and he has not done that. Grassley has gone so far as to lie when he said that the FBI cannot do this investigation. DDT said he won’t ask for an investigation because “the FBI said that they really don’t do that.”

Republicans won’t allow any third-party testimony in a hearing about Ford and Kavanaugh.

As people have often written during the past 18 months, if … were innocent, why doesn’t he want a thorough investigation. Instead, Kavanaugh follows DDT’s advice, reported by Bob Woodward in Fear: “Deny, deny, deny.”

September 17, 2018

Court Rulings Mostly Right Wrongs

Election Day is only 50 days away, and the GOP continues its attempts at voter suppression. In an honest move that may cause them to lose the 2018 North Carolina election, progressive groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters that won the redrawing of gerrymandered districts said that there was not enough time to complete the task in the next two months. The contortions of district lines caused the state to have 10 of 13 seats in the U.S. House with only 53 percent of the vote.

The majority in a panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit, two appointed by George W. Bush, upheld Arizona laws that prevent anyone except a family member, caretaker, or postal worker from turning ballots into elections officials and blocked out-of-precinct voting. The decision is especially onerous for Native Americans who are many miles from both voting precincts and post offices. As usual, the fake reason for the law is to avoid voter fraud, but the rationale comes from white entitlement and lack of understanding about other cultures and living conditions. The decision will be appealed to the full court but stays in effect for the upcoming election.

A Missouri judge made Republicans happy when he removed a redistricting measure for this fall’s ballot.

Yet not all bodes well for Republicans in court decisions.

Federal prosecutors have postponed their demand that North Carolina state and local elections officials give them well over 20 million ballots, poll books, and voter authorization forms going back almost nine years by September 25. Subpoenas also required photo images of voters, and subpoenas to the state DMV required DMV voter registration documents and those completed in a language other than English from both citizens and people not born in the U.S. Almost 2.3 million absentee ballots could be traced back to individual voters which caused privacy concerns. The subpoenas for these records cited ICE and a grand jury in Wilmington as the source for the demand after U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon announced charges against 19 non-U.S. citizens for illegal voting. A state audit counted 41 non-U.S. citizens acknowledged voting out of 4.8 million ballots. Higdon hopes to get the documents in January 2019.

A court in North Carolina also ruled in favor of expanding Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to make certain appointments, ruling that the legislators had overstepped their authority and violated the separation of powers’ requirement. When Cooper was elected, the GOP legislature immediately passed several laws to restrict his abilities compared to that of his GOP predecessor.

For the second time in four years, federal judges struck down the GOP Virginia General Assembly boundaries of 11 electoral districts that pack minorities together so that white candidates in adjacent districts can win elections. Little progress has been made before the October 30 deadline. With the GOP failure to more forward, the governor has asked the GOP speaker of the state house to turn the project over to the courts. The districts will be used for state elections in 2019.

A Virginia judge also removed an independent candidate from the ballot in the 2nd District congressional race because of “forgery” and “out and out fraud” on her petition. Staffers working for the GOP candidate had collected many of the signatures to get her onto the ballot to split the progressive vote and ensure a win for their boss. Of the 377 signatures that five of them put on petitions, at least 146 were false, some of them for people who had died.

Florida Republicans thought they could keep Puerto Ricans who had fled their island after Hurricane Maria from voting if they refused them Spanish-language ballots. A district judge disagreed and ruled that 32 counties across the state had violated the Voting Rights Act. He ordered them to provide bilingual voting materials, including ballots and poll worker support, for Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican voters. According to his ruling:

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Unique among Americans, they are not educated primarily in English — and do not need to be. But, like all American citizens, they possess the fundamental right to vote.”

The enactment is on an expedited basis to give Florida officials “ample” time to appeal if “they seek to block their fellow citizens, many of whom fled after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, from casting meaningful ballots,” according to the judge. “It is remarkable that it takes a coalition of voting rights organizations and individuals to sue in federal court to seek minimal compliance with the plain language of a venerable 53-year-old law,” he added.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the so-called “charity” Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, linked to billionaire Charles Koch, must disclose its donors to California officials. The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court reversed a lower court ruling from last year.

A grand jury will be convened to investigate whether Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016.

The court woes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue. He tried to get out of going to court over paying hush-money for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels so that he and former attorney Michael Cohen don’t have to give dispositions. By not contesting the suit, DDT thinks that he has escaped, but Daniels still has a defamation suit against DDT.

The fate of DDT’s IRS returns is still in court, this time the Washington, D.C. Circuit. EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act case is arguing that IRS must release his returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia in his tweets. At least two-thirds of people want DDT to release the returns. The 98-page financial disclosure that DDT is forced to make public shows that his biggest windfalls come from his property that he frequently visits. For example, he made $37 million from Mar-a-Lago, up from $15 million in 2015, and $20 from his nearby golf club.

A federal judge refused to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ruling that Texas and six other conservative states couldn’t prove irreparable harm from the program. He also stated that he believed the program is unconstitutional, but the time has passed to rescind it.

Cities can’t prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, according to a 9th Circuit Court ruling in Boise (ID). Six homeless people sued the city in 2009. The judge also wrote:

“A city cannot, via the threat of prosecution, coerce an individual to attend religion-based treatment programs consistently with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

A federal judge in Boston ruled that ICE should not remove undocumented people in the process of applying for green cards even if they have final orders of removal. The ruling may not require a penalty from the government or apply outside the New England area. Five couples are suing DHS, ICE, DDT, and law enforcement because spouses were detained by ICE when they went for marriage interviews with U.S.-citizen spouses, a requirement for the application process to prove they have legitimate marriages. Emails show coordination between ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services to coordinate interviews and arrests. The suit began with a woman who was brought from Guatemala when she was three years old and married U.S. citizen Luis Gordillo. They have two children.

A Canadian court unanimously overturned Ottawa’s approval of a pipeline project because the government failed to consider concerns of some First Nations and did not consider the impact of increased tanker traffic. The pipeline, almost 700 miles long, would take bitumen from Alberta to the western ports to ship to Asia. The ship traffic has already had a devastating affect on southern resident orcas which are almost extinct.

Parents of a Sandy Hook victim may continue its defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after his repeated lies that the 2012 massacre killing 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school was a “fraud.” Six other Sandy Hook families also filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones in May. Jones’ Infowars is also facing a lawsuit for misidentifying a person as the shooter at the Parkland (FL) school who killed 17 people and another defamation suit from the person who recorded the vehicular murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville (VA) rally last year. Jones’ law firm is also representing the co-founder of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist website The Stormer.

An arbitrator has denied the NFL request to throw out Colin Kaepernick’s grievance that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests for social injustice. The ruling shows that Kaepernick has sufficient evidence of collusion for a lawsuit. Eric Reid’s grievance for joining the protests is still pending. The NFL had to put on hold its policy that would require players to stand if they are on the sideline during the national anthem because of problems that it classified protests as conduct detrimental to the team.

September 16, 2018

Sexual Abuse: Religion Wants Silence

Pope Francis wants silence about the Catholic Church’s leaders sexually abusing members, but more information about the epidemic is pouring into the media. New York has issued subpoenas against the state’s eight dioceses, and New Jersey created a task force to investigate allegations of clergy sexually abusing minors and any attempts of the church to hide the abuse. In charge of the New York investigation, the state’s AG Barbara Dale Underwood also encouraged the state legislature to pass the Child Victims Act that would permit civil suits until victims are 50 years old and seek criminal charges against abusers until age 28. Pennsylvania prosecutors who recently concluded that 300 priests in the state had sexually abused over 1,000 children during the past 70 years. New York, New Mexico, Illinois, Nebraska, and Missouri have already started investigations or inquiries.

In West Virginia, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, whose diocese covers the entire state, resigned after allegations of sexually harassing adults. Bransfield is a close associate of former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick who left his position after allegedly molesting an altar boy and coercing seminary students to sleep in his bed. McCarrick was elevated to cardinal despite warnings over many years.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington since 2006, told his parishioners that he is leaving because of poor judgment when he was bishop of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania investigators named Wuerl over 200 times in its report about the systemic abuse of more than 1,000 children by over 300 priests when bishops and other church officials concealed crimes and protected predatory priests. Wuerl allowed an accused abuser to stay in his ministry and banned victims from speaking during a settlement agreement.

The bishop of Buffalo, Richard J. Malone, has thus far ignored calls for his resignation after an investigation from a local radio station revealed he kept priests in ministry who might be threats to children. When Malone pretended transparency and released the names of priests accused of abuse, he omitted dozens of names.

Four U.S. cardinals went to meet with Pope Francis to discuss the problems of Catholic leaders’ sexual assault. One, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, has been accused of knowing about a priest’s sexual abuse and allowed him to remain in his ministry. DiNardo had appointed the priest, arrested last week on charges of indecency with children, to a leadership role as episcopal vicar for Hispanics after he met with accusers at two separate times.

Knowledge about sex abuse by Catholic Church leaders has erupted around the world with revelations of abuse and cover-ups in Australia, Ireland, Belgium, France, Chile and other countries. A leaked report from Germany included information about 1,670 church workers—over four percent of the clergy—were involved in the abuse of 3,677 children over seven decades. Researchers said that many more cases probably existed because they were not allowed access to confidential records.

A Dutch newspaper found that 20 of 39 Dutch cardinals, bishops, and their auxiliaries are accused of covering up the sexual assault of children between 1945 and 2010, four of them accused of sexually abusing children. The report stated that the church destroyed files of accused clergy.

As states ponder dealing with Catholics abusing children, the evangelicals have decided that AG Jeff Sessions’ virulent anti-LGBTQ policies and “religious liberty” discrimination aren’t enough for their approval. Fundamentalist Christians are throwing him under the ever-growing bus because he recused himself from investigation into the Russian scandal after meeting with Russians during the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Jerry Falwell Jr., is calling on DDT to fire Sessions because Sessions “really is not on the president’s team, never was.” Never mind that Sessions was the first senator to endorse DDT when he looked like a loser, agreeing with DDT’s hardline immigration policies. To Falwell and other evangelicals, the only real leader is the serial liar who attacks women.

At the “state dinner” with evangelicals, DDT told them that Democrats will “overturn everything that we’ve done … quickly and violently” if they get elected and called the election “a referendum on your religion.” To evangelicals, VP Mike Pence, the real believer, is invisible because they want power, not religion.

Evangelicals are also calling for parents to shun their LGBTQ children. “Ex-lesbian” Assemblies of God pastor Janet Boynes published an article on Charisma News, a Christian website, urging parents to refuse to meet their children’s partners and cut the children out of their life. Her solution:

“As pastors, people look to us to take the lead on showing love and hospitality, embracing those who do not know Christ…. You are willing to throw God under the bus because this is your child or loved one. What does that say to God about where your heart is?”

Last November, Ralph Shortey, an anti-LGBTQ former state senator in Oklahoma who served as DDT’s state GOP chair, was charged with felony child prostitution, child sex trafficking, and possession of child pornography. The 35-year-old father of four girls resigned from the state legislature last March after he was found in a hotel room with a 17-year-old male. Both were naked. Shortey cited his Christian beliefs as the reason that he voted against a transgender “bathroom bill” and for other anti-LGBTQ bills including a measure allowing business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people. He pled guilty to child sex trafficking and appeared in court last week, seeking leniency. In his 14 Craigslist ads, he sought a “boy,” offered sex with his wife, and requested group sex with strangers. On the message app Kik, some with usernames referencing child pornography, Shortey wanted interaction with children, listing his background as work as church bus driver and activities with the state YMCA Youth and Government programs and the state American Legion leadership week Boys State.

In Ohio, Wesley Goodman, a GOP first-term representative and proponent of “natural behavior,” resigned the week before Shortey’s fall after Goodman engaged in sexual activity with a male visitor in his legislative office. During his campaign years earlier, a father had gone to Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council, to complain after Goodman sexually fondled his son. Perkins promised action but did nothing, and Goodman won his next election because evangelicals protected the sexual predator.

Another anti-LGBTQ “Christian” minister has resigned because of sexual misconduct and “undesired physical displays of affection.” Father Eric Dudley, married and father of three, left the Tallahassee St. Peter’s Anglican Church after complaints followed by an inquiry by senior priests. Dudley had left St. John’s Episcopal Church after ten years because of the Episcopalians’ pro-LGBTQ position and founded a church associated with the Anglican Church of Uganda. He called marriage equality a “well-oiled political scheme involving the media and Hollywood” that caused people to accept bisexuality, polyamory, and identification as “any gender.”

The Mormons also failed to refer cases of sex abuse allegations after investigating missionaries and a stake president. The leaked document read, “The missionary department is reluctant to send this elder home where he may face prosecution for a felony.” When a missionary accused of sexually abusing a child in a foreign country was sent back to the U.S., the Mormon leadership “determined no action would be taken.”

These sexual predators are only a few of the people who take the moral high ground in their war to make the United States a theocracy while abusing others.

Dylan Charles writes:

“Of the world’s two major religions, one is engaged in a generations long campaign of torture and murder of non-believers, and the other is always mired in sex scandals involving child rape, pedophilia, molestation and high level cover ups.”

These authoritarian religions control behavior from fear, forcing people to follow the leaders without doubt, without evidence. These rigid patterns eliminate the opportunity for open minds and education because dogmatic religious leaders don’t permit questioning. The superiority of conservative religious leaders—usually males—is rapidly taking over the United States. The leadership in the federal government, consumed by making more money, will do anything to get their own way—cheat, lie, abuse, cover up wrong doings. The result is a class society of haves and have nots in which people constantly experience more and more abuse—physical, sexual, and emotional.

September 15, 2018

DDT: Week 86 – The Times Get Worse

The biggest problems for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) this week may be his former campaign manager agreeing to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation in exchange for a guilty plea. After holding off for over ten months with multiple indictments and a trial in which he was convicted of eight charges, Paul Manafort has promised to tell about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.” In exchange, he may receive a shorter prison sentence and keep some property for his family. Manafort makes the fifth DDT campaign member to plead guilty to criminal charges. DDT may need to revise his position on Manafort being a “brave man” because he didn’t break but thus far he’s made no mention of Manafort’s guilty plea.

In more bad news for DDT, Michael Cohen will also tell Mueller what he knows—and he knows a lot!

Another “flipper” and former advisor to DDT, George Papadopoulos, got 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about interactions with Russian operatives, denied that he told an Australian diplomat about Russia having “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, and then told George Stephanopoulos that campaign members knew and supported his attempts to set up a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among those enthusiastic about the meeting, according to Papadopoulos, are now-AG Jeff Sessions and DDT himself. Sessions had told Congress under oath that he shut down the idea.

DDT is trying to save face about his failure with North Korea by talking about his new warm relationship with its leader, Kim Jong-Un, and claiming that North Korea will denuclearize by the end of the year (just after the general election). White House officials aren’t buying it, especially after North Korea accelerated its secret missile building. According to Bruce Klinger, regional expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, the “consensus between State and Defense and the [National Security Council] … is that North Korea is not serious about denuclearizing.” Kim is working to separate DDT from his advisers, accusing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as trying to “thwart” DDT’s wishes. DDT’s announcement of a second summit with Kim came as a surprise to the State Department.

The national media fixated on southeastern U.S. as Hurricane Florence, which was downgraded to a Category 1, still creates havoc and at least 11 deaths as its winds, rain, storm surges, and flooding devastated large portions of several states. A bit of comic relief came from the video of a weather reporter stressing how rough the wind was as pedestrian strolled behind him.

Federal officials have talked about what a wonderful job FEMA director Brock Long is doing at the same time that he may be fired, supposedly for misuse of government vehicles. FEMA’s #2 position has been vacant during DDT’s terms; his original nominee withdrew because he falsified work and travel records. FEMA’s #3 has no experience for the job—but this has never stopped DDT’s officials from taking the jobs. Long was confirmed in June 2017 and in charge during the entire Puerto Rico fiasco.

DDT’s officials have been in frequent communication with rebel Venezuelan military officers to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. Military leaders said that the U.S. had a “military option” for their country. DDT has some of the same issues that Maduro is accused of—voter suppression, attempts to create domestic military control, rejection of poverty hardships, opposition to freedom of the press, acceptance of illegally-obtained money, and authoritarian leadership.

John Bolton, national security advisor, and DDT are threatening to sanction judges for the International Criminal Court if they investigate U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. Bolton calls the ICC an “illegitimate court” and threatens anyone who cooperates with the ICC. He also announced that the State Department will close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Washington office because Palestinians want an ICC investigation of Israel. The court was created after the Allied ad hoc tribunals to prosecute Nazi and Japanese war crimes during World War II. The U.S. joined in 2000, but George W. Bush dropped out in 2002 after his preemptive attacks against Afghanistan. Other countries leaving the 107-country ICC are Sudan, Israel, and Russia.

Burundi is grateful for U.S. protection in accusations of Burundian murder, rape, and torture. Its ambassador, Vestine Nahimana, praised the U.S. for objecting to the ICC prosecuting any war crimes and other crimes against humanity. Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundian president and despot, announced a referendum to keep his position until 2034, and his third unconstitutional “election” in 2015 led to the killing of 1,200 Buurndians while 400,000 fled the country. African countries may be a “sh**hole” to DDT, but he supports their position about not being prosecuted for crimes.

Matching the “fair and balanced” news from the Fox network, DDT’s Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, 14 federal agencies and the DEA, to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country. He has also threatened more cannabis enforcement despite his support of bipartisan legislation to permit state cannabis legalization. The committee does not seek data showing that cannabis consumption serves public benefit or reduces drug abuse. Eight states have legalized adult recreational use for cannabis, and 63 percent of people support federal legalization.

The GOP is preening because of 2.9 percent increase in wages last year, despite the fact that it exactly matches the 2.9 percent increase in inflation. To compensate for the flat wages, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) inflated the numbers by claiming that benefits increase wages greatly although he has no evidence for his figures.

DDT will be required to answer questions under oath in the defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, about his response to her sexual assault allegations. False statements could lead to perjury charges. DDT is refusing to turn over documents for discovery requests, and DDT’s attorney Marc Kasowitz claims that DDT is protected from civil litigation in state courts although the Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruled that a “sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal court for unofficial acts.” DDT had claimed that he did not sexually assault Zervos, that “all of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” He hasn’t sued any of them.

Last weekend, conservatives held a pro-DDT rally that they called the “Mother of all Rallies.” Speakers included DDT’s close friend Roger Stone, defender of his association with the hate group “The Proud Boys,” and Joe Arpaio, convicted Arizona senator candidate. Cohosts of Revenge of the Cis Mike “Mersh” Schiele and Royce Lopez asked one woman if she would ally with white supremacists to get Donald Trump re-elected. She agreed, also saying “1488,” white supremacist code referencing David Lane’s racist 14 words mantra, and “Heil Hitler!” “Mother” may be lonely: the rally brought a few hundred people at most, and Russian media reported the gathering at “dozens.”

DDT has canceled his November trip to Ireland. He gave no reasons but probably wanted to avoid the planned protests in Ireland.

Scott Wagner, GOP candidate for Pennsylvania governor, might want to fire its social media team after the firm’s political consultant, Ray Zaborney, sent this visual to senior campaign members—and a reporter by accident. The attack on both Colin Kaepernick, Caitlyn Jenner, and all transgender people is not something that someone can “forget.” “Believe in something. Even if it means cutting your dick off.” That’s GOP politics.

DDT topped 5,000 lies in 601 days after his inauguration, helped by the 125 lies that he told in Sioux Falls (SD) last week in 120 minutes—a single-day high. That total beat the 74 les at his Montana rally the day before, giving DDT an average of 8.3 lies a day and 32 lies a day in the nine days leading up to September 13, far more than his average of 4.9 lies a day for the first 100 days. In addition to his claims of the Russian “witch hunt,” DDT has been obsessively lying about the federal government’s failure in Puerto Rico during the past year which he insists is a success. Thus an average of 72 percent of DDT’s “factual claims” at his two speeches in Montana, those in July and on September 6, are false, misleading or unsupported by evidence avoiding double-counting, trivialities, and opinions. WaPo has a breakdown of all 88 claims on September 6.

Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off tomorrow, and DDT may lose more support among that group, already down to 22 percent approval, after his many lies about Puerto Rico. The release of Bob Woodward’s book Fear also led to many DDT lies.

Imagine a rocket going off into space with “Budweiser” in huge letters on the side. Or “Coors” on the space suit. It could happen if administrator Jim Bridenstine gets his way. He told NASA to look into selling naming rights to both rockets and spacecraft and use astronauts to advertise commercial products such as cereals. DDT also wants to privatize the International Space Station. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for beer.

Seventy-two percent of people want DDT to testify for Mueller’s investigation.

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