Nel's New Day

May 24, 2020

Week 174 – Some Good News, Voting Squabbles

A federal judge overturned a new Florida law requiring felons to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote, as permitted by an initiative passed in 2018 by 65 percent of the voters. The constitutional amendment expanded voting rights for those who completed “all terms of their sentence including probation and parole.” Judge Robert L. Hinkle compared the state law to a tax, unconstitutionally illegal.

In addition to using security agents as servants, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had them pack household goods and move his mother-in-law into a retirement home. Pompeo also ordered state Department officials to fabricate a justification for the emergency authorization to force an $8 billion arms deal without congressional approval and then hide it. To keep from firing Pompeo, DDT is trying to persuade him to run for Kansas senator. June 1 is the deadline for filing for candidacy.

Rachel Maddow is off the hook, at least temporarily, for a $10 million defamation lawsuit by One America News Network (OANN) after she said a writer for the right-leaning channel publishes the same material for Russia’s state propaganda network. On July 22, 2019, Maddow cited a Daily Beast article on her show, saying it reported OANN “has a full-time on-air reporter who covers U.S. politics, who is also simultaneously on the payroll of the Kremlin.” Maddow added, “The most obsequiously pro-Trump right wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda.” OANN plans to appeal the lawsuit’s dismissal.

Two Democratic FCC commissioners claim a $48 million fine with no admission of guilt for Sinclair is insufficient punishment for the conservative network’s violations of regulations and asked for harsher punishments and greater scrutiny into whether Sinclair should be allowed to own any television stations.  Sinclair lied for an FCC review in its attempt to buy Tribune Media, causing the merger to collapse; didn’t report its providing accounting services to TV stations it didn’t own to the FCC; and aired sponsored programming 1,723 times without telling viewers the content was paid by a hospital group and not news.

The EPA admitted ignoring serious problems with rolling back the regulation to reduce automobile pollution through mileage standards. The agency had not seen about two-thirds of the 1,000-page document that Transportation Department staffers gave the White House as justification for the changes, and the top EPA official said that the Transportation had not addressed over 250 comments from EPA experts. Documents about objections from EPA staff may create legal problems for the rule mandating an improvement of average fuel efficiency because of the rules that the EPA broke. In the margins of the new regulation, agency staff wrote:

“The action revising the [greenhouse gas] standards will result in increased climate impacts and air pollution emissions compared to the existing standards.”

Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) wrote that the EPA failed to enter document into the public record, changed the rule after it was signed, and didn’t follow it obligation to write part of the mileage rule:

“The result is a policy that fails to protect public health, fails to save money, fails to result in safer vehicles and will, ultimately and undoubtedly, fail in court.”

Even without protection from DDT’s EPA, scientists say that the worldwide drop in carbon emissions from coronavirus shutdowns could be the largest in recorded history. The 17-percent decrease from the same month last year is the same as emission levels in 2006, according to an analysis of the 69 countries responsible for 97 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Forty-three percent of the decrease came from reduced surface transportation.

DDT is launching the latest phase of his pre-election smear campaign against Democrats, and faithful loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to help him. He declassified an email former White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote herself as a reminder immediately before DDT’s inauguration about a discussion with President Obama and his team concerning Michael Flynn. Rice’s email states:

“[President Obama] stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Rice – 1; Johnson – 0. And Flynn – 0. 

Rice called on DDT to release the transcripts of phone calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the transition while Barack Obama was president. Flynn pled guilty—twice—to his private conversations with a foreign country with the goal of undermining his own country’s foreign policy. No release is impending.

Watching judicial decisions regarding Texas absentee voting is like watching a ping-pong game. The state’s AG, Ken Paxton, has fought to keep from expanding the extremely narrow parameters for absentee voters, even if people are in danger of being infected and dying from COVID-19. With no evidence, his excuse is “fraud.” The latest ruling from a Texas federal judge permits absentee ballots for voters afraid of catching the virus, applying the law to all registered voters who “lack immunity from Covid-19 and fear infection at polling places.” This ruling supersedes the decision from the state Supreme Court stopping five counties from issuing mail-in ballots. The next Texas election is July 14, and July 2 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. Paxton filed an appeal.

COVID-19 caused almost 30 states to change rules or practices for this year’s primaries or the general election, affecting roughly 86.6 million registered voters and more than 40 million people who now have the temporary right to cast an absentee ballot. Over a dozen states postponed primaries because of the virus, and 11 states requiring an excuse to vote by mail may use the virus for a reason. Another 12 states and the District of Columbia are proactively sending absentee ballot applications or request forms to voters specifically because of the coronavirus. Roughly 34.7 million people will receive the forms. Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey sending absentee ballots for the primaries to approximately 11.3 million voters joined five other states that already mailed ballots to voters. In the 34 states that already do not require an excuse to vote absentee or by mail, the number of requests have shot up by ten times over 2016. Before the onset of the virus, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Utah already conduct elections by mail. Only Kentucky made voting more onerous by requiring government-issued photo IDs. ID-issuing offices are closed in the state.

With no evidence, DDT told reporters that mail-in ballots lead to “forgeries” and “thousands and thousands of fake ballots.” He added a diatribe about people printing “fraudulent ballots” and said “a lot of things can happen.” “To really vote, and without fraud, you have to go and you have to vote at the polling place,”  said DDT, the man who voted by mail from an address that Florida says he can’t have as a legal residential address. Previously, he said that Republicans need to block mail-in ballots to keep electing Republicans. DDT’s family also votes by mail.

DDT is so desperate to keep blue states from voting by mail that he threatened to block funding to Michigan and Nevada because he was under the impression that the states were mailing ballots. In fact, the states mailed applications for absentee ballots. GOP-led states such as Nebraska, West Virginia and Georgia made similar plans to offer applications for absentee ballots, but DDT has no comments about these red states. Interference with elections is unconstitutional.

Colorado, the third state after Washington and Oregon to legislate complete vote by mail, found the practice popular and relatively free of fraud—only 0.0027 percent out of 2.5 million ballots. In 2018, the state had the second highest turnout rate in the country after a 9.4 percent increase among registered voters. In April, 79 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans supported mail-in ballots for 2020. Yet the RNC and DDT’s re-election campaign are paying $20 million to fight voting changes in battleground states. Many Colorado Republicans advocate mail voting, and supporters say it’s safe because of paper ballots, signature verifications, a risk-limiting audit, and voter list checks make it safe. Research shows that neither party benefited from the mail-in system.

Vote by mail is also safer health wise. Wisconsin’s in-person primaries on April 7, mandated by the state Supreme Court and the GOP legislators, led to a “large” spread of coronavirus, according to a study.  

DDT may think that he can postpone the November election, mandated by the U.S. Constitution. About postponement, DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said, “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Backlash forced Kushner to backtrack to the media: 

“I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of any discussions about trying to change the date of the Presidential election.”   [photo – Kushner]

A  federal judge allowed a federal lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and his company of collaboration with a fraudulent marketing scheme to prey on investors. The case involves an exchange of “secret” payments for use of DDT’s former reality TV show The Celebrity Apprentice and other promotional events to boost ACN Opportunity, a telecommunications marketing company linked to a nonprofit that used Trump’s brand to appeal to teens. According to the lawsuit, the Trumps profited off the poor and vulnerable by “systematically defrauding economically marginalized people.”

May 24: COVID-19 deaths are 99,300—just 700 short of 100,000.

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