Nel's New Day

August 1, 2019

Biggest Loser in Democratic Presidential Debates: CNN

Filed under: Elections,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
Tags: ,

The Democrats have finished with the second round of presidential debates, two nights with 20 candidates. Eric Swalwell is gone, and Steve Bullock has arrived.

CNN framed the debates as a Trumpian reality show with loaded questions that baited participants into CNN’s perception of good television watching. The approach appeared to be more suitable for the Fox network than for the one which Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) despises. Moderators began with attacks on progressive health care that led to promoting Delaney’s attacks on Sanders and Warren with the premise that people would pay more and lose their private insurance—the Republican talking point. John Delaney, who has a net worth of $65 million from the health care industry, was rewarded with extra opportunities to give his GOP policies such as criticism for “free stuff for everyone.” No questions addressed the excessively high drug prices, and none asked about “out of pocket costs.” Moderators constantly shut down Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the midst of explaining their policies. More of the worst questions.

Joshua Benton, who runs Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, described the debate:

“An obsession with conflict over explanation, forcing complex policies into soundbites, above-it-all savviness that only makes sense if you spend all your time on Politics Twitter or in DC.”

CNN’s moderators concentrated on strict time limitations, avoiding any substance in responses and searching for short soundbites. Pollster Matt McDermott summarized the debate on Twitter:

“Why does your health care plan screw the middle class? Why are you taking health care from hard working Americans? Why are you for open borders? Imagine CNN asking in a Republican debate: ‘Democrats want to ensure health care for all Americans. You want to kill people. Care to respond?’ ”

Subject areas totally ignored: voting rights—gerrymandering, citizenship questions, etc.; democracy; DDT’s march to war in the Middle East while he loves North Korea and Russia; Russian election interference; faulty election software/equipment; abortion; and several more.  

While six white men bickered on the first night, Pete Buttigieg talked about his own positions instead of attacking other candidates. One prize Buttigieg quote:

“It is time to stop worrying about what the Republicans will say. It’s true that if we embrace a far-left agenda, they’re gonna say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna say we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s just stand up for the right policy, go out there and defend it.”

Occasionally, the three women—Amy Klobuchar, Warren, and Marianne Williamson—tried to bring order. Warren said, “I don’t understand why someone goes to the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really shouldn’t do or can’t fight for.” In another statement directed at Delaney, she brought candidates back to talking about what Democrats want to hear, not what Republicans don’t want to hear. The crowd applauded Warren after she told Sanders and Delaney to “stop using Republican talking points about health care!” Klobuchar pointed out about the debate, “We’re more worried about winning an argument than winning an election.” Marianne Williamson defended free college education against conservative Democratic protests:

“I almost wonder why you’re Democrats. You think there’s something wrong about using the instruments of government to help people. That is what government should do.”

Sanders did get in a great line, responding to Ryan’s attack that Sanders didn’t understand the Medicare for All bill. Sanders roared back, “I do know. I wrote the damn bill!”

By Wednesday night, CNN had learned a part of their lesson from their critics. Kristin Gillbrand was allowed to finish her anecdote although questioner had tried to shut up Warren the night before. Answers were much longer.  Wednesday night featured far fewer one-percenters like the white male naysayers from the first night.

Although some pundits thought that Joe Biden survived the evening unscathed, not everyone agreed. Between his first informal comment to Kamala Harris of “Go easy on me, kid!” to his flubbing donation information at the end as he stumbled over the simple “Go to Joe 30330,” he frequently invoked Barack Obama as the reason should make him the candidate, sort of “you should pick me because Obama likes me.” In trying to cover up his past Republican positions, Biden said, “[Barack Obama] chose me and said it was the best decision he made,” or “That was a long time ago.” Adding to his GOP talking points, he said, “If you have a PhD, we want to keep you in this country!”  He also said that the country couldn’t take “8 more years of Donald Trump.”

Barack Obama ran on a slogan of “Yes we can!” CNN made the Democratic position largely appear to be “No we can’t.”

The New York Times gave the average score and comments from commentators for each participant. The use of conservative views flattened the ratings. First night. Second night

The rest of the media was little better than CNN in its obsession with “winners and losers” as if debates are horse races. For some, Delaney was a “winner” although Warren wiped him out. Tulsi Gabbard was another “winner,” perhaps because no asked her about her meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who she refused to denounce. 

Suggestions for better debates:

Shorten the opening with no statements, no singing, no video, no commercials for the host network which permits more time for substantive answers to questions and responses to the other candidates. Topics and questions sourced entirely from voters and gathered in advance to address issues from the public and not the network’s desire for higher ratings.

Comparison graphics about candidates’ positions offered in real time.

No framing in coverage of the debates with phrases that evoke prizefighting: marquee matchups, winners and losers, and explosive faceoffs.

One relief for the next debate on September 12-13 is that only seven people have thus far qualified for the stricter qualifications. With few than ten candidates, the debate will be only one night. Candidates need 130,000 unique donors and get at least two percent support in four polls before August 28 to reach those benchmarks. Those who have managed these criteria: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Three others are close: Julián Castro, Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang. Beyond these ten, only three candidates have even one poll with at least two percent: Tulsi Gabbard (1), John Hickenlooper (1), and Tom Steyer (2). The other 11 have no qualifying polls.  

DDT went to Cincinnati tonight to run against all the Democratic candidates for president. He even ran against Hillary Clinton, invoking the “lock her up” chant, perhaps to avoid the more racist “send her home” from his last rally. Asked if he would stop the racist chant, DDT said he didn’t know how to do that. That from the supposedly leader of the “free world.”

From early reports, DDT’s rally may have been as dull as the presidential debates during the past two nights.

June 9, 2019

Some World Elections Pointing to Nationalism

In talking about the rise of fascism across the world during the early 20th century, Noam Chomsky cited an article that he wrote soon after the fall of Barcelona in February 1939, ending the Spanish Republic. The year before, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and then gained Czechoslovakia at the Munich Conference. Revolution against fascist control had lost since 1936. At that time, many in the United States, including parts of the government, supported the Nazi rise before deciding that its spread might be unstoppable. The State Department and Council on Foreign Relations decided that the world be divided into Nazis controlling most of Eurasia and the U.S. controlling the Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire, and the Far East. At least until Russia drove back Nazis in 1942, the world was on the brink of being totally fascist.

The 21st century sees the spread of ultranationalists, early represented by Steve Bannon who has moved on to push his movement in Europe. The U.S. under the guidance of State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is helping Israel, now led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, solidify the reactionary nationalist movement. Threats of right-wing ultranationalists in Latin America are led by Brazil’s election of Jair Bolsonaro.

With the U.S. media largely focused on DDT, watching the rest of the world has been difficult. Yet after the re-election of far-right Netanyahu, other huge countries have moved to right-wing anti-immigration control. After Narendra Modi’s re-election for another five years, citizenship in India will be redefined with the publication of an updated National Registry of Citizens, a 1951 census to search for migrants from the neighboring, Muslim-majority East Pakistan and now Bangladesh. Conducted only in the northeastern state of Assam, the census requires proof that people were residents of India before 3/24/71, the day before Bangladesh declared its independence, to be considered citizens. Without documentation of lineage, people are declared illegal. Yet obtaining these documents is difficult because of poor record-keeping, illiteracy, or insufficient funds for the $750 to file a legal claim. Four million people believing themselves to be Indian are missing from the Registry. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) makes the Registry a priority and will deport all illegal immigrants.

Modi’s first five years was notable for lynchings and other violence, and 1,000 Muslims were killed in anti-Islam riots under his leadership. In his victory speech, he announced that his 2019 election marked the official death of secularism in India. He claims to support the poor, but nine people in India have the combined assets of 500 million Indian residents. Like DDT, Modi is not only highly conservative but also has deep business interests and demonstrates hostility to journalistic media while embracing social media.

India’s re-election was disturbing but not the surprise about conservatives keeping control in Australia. Preventing climate change cost liberals votes from those dependent on mining and forestry. The liberal Labor Party also proposed income tax increase on households making more than $180,000 Australian ($124,000 in the U.S.) and hikes in capital gains tax while eliminating writing off investment property losses. Like the United States, Christian conservatives exploited liberal positions on secularism, anti-abortion, and homosexuality. https://www.devex.com/news/australia-s-election-and-its-impact-on-the-pacific-views-from-the-us-94970  It’s expected that the new leader, Scott Morrison, will likely take a hard line against China, affecting its relationship with Australia. Because of Morrison’s hard-line approach toward immigration, some asylum seekers are attempting suicide.

Although he was elected Israeli prime minister in April, Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a governing right-wing coalition in the parliament, and his conservative Likud party succeeded in passing a bill that dissolves parliament and calls for a new election on September 17. A prime minister-designate has never before been able to get selected by the parliament. Netanyahu stays in power until the election while facing accusations of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust charges for taking gifts and giving favors for better press coverage. He wants a coalition of right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties to change laws to override the Supreme Court and protect him from prosecution.  A demonstration of approximately 80,000 people protested his changing the law to grant himself immunity.

Elections for European Union representatives from 28 countries resulted in a more ambiguous conclusion than either India or Australia. Both conservatives and liberals are claiming some victory. One obvious outcome is that the center, losing over 80 seats, moved to either the left or the right. Liberal Democrats are up 40, Greens 20, and Nationalists 30. Marine Le Pen, who tried to take over France, is working with nationalist parties with Italy’s Matteo Salvini to get a majority from Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Finland. Far-right reps from Poland and Sweden are avoiding Salvini because of his support for Vladimir Putin; free-marketers from Germany and Denmark disagree with Le Pen’s opposition to “uncontrolled globalization.” Country by country results.

Instead of taking over Europe, hard right parties won where they already had support and kept their minority positions in other countries. Their numbers are still too small to be spoilers or kingmakers. France helped achieve the coalition of pro-EU, pro-market liberals—the parliament’s third-largest force. Social democrats and allies still thrive in Spain and Portugal where they lead the country’s governments. DDT and Brexit may have created enough fear to keep nationalists from taking over with the biggest turnout for the vote since 1994.

Some EU election results are positive. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his ministers before he could call an election to strengthen his party, after the scandal in which a minister offered election favors to a Russian investor. The center right Austrian People’s party won over one-third of the EU representatives; Social Democrats got 23.6 percent, and the neo-Nazi Freedom Party took 18.1 percent.

The Green Party placed second in Germany with almost 21 percent of the vote and gained in Finland, France, and Ireland, possibly because of the youth activists trying to slow climate change. The 71 seats in the EU Parliament are up almost 40 percent from the 52 Green seats five years ago.

The Scottish National party, with its position of staying in the EU, wiped out the progressive Labour Party and has three seats, half Scotland’s representatives.   

UK followed the polarization pattern in the EU elections: Conservatives moved to the Brexit party looking for a no-deal separation from the EU while Labour voters picked the Liberal Democrats. Most of the Brexit gains were in rural areas but made some progress in a few cities where Tories left for the Lib Dems. Brexit gained 28 seats with 15 more for the Lib Dems. Labour lost seven, Greens won seven (a gain of four), and Tories had only three seats.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to leave her position on June 7 with her replacement determined in late July. With the EU elections finished, the British parliament will return to the torment of a Brexit approach.

With many other countries, except for Israel, settled in for at least a short while, the campaign for the 2020 presidential election continues with DDT ramping up his dishonest and vicious approach. His ruthless comments make the lying ads about John Kerry and Michael Dukakis look like a walk in the park. DDT came back from Japan where he tweeted negative agreements about former vice-president Joe Biden with dictator Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, and the first Democratic debate is in four weeks on June 26. For a sample of what’s ahead, check out Corey Lewandowski’s threatening strategy on the Fox network. As former GOP presidential candidate Evan McMullin, tweeted:

“This is truly a dangerous abuse of power. [AG Bill] Barr will selectively release sensitive information, as he did with Mueller’s report, to shape a favorable narrative for Trump and impede the intelligence community’s ability to collect intel on foreign threats that assist the president.”

DDT’s personal television network, Fox, will control the message for its watchers, and congressional Republicans are terrified of DDT. There will be no accountability for DDT. He has already accused a large number of people of “treason” for investigating a presidential campaign, a charge punishable by death. With DDT, anything goes.

February 23, 2019

Hope from Elections, Courts

In a desperate move last fall after Democratic governors and state legislators were elected, several GOP-dominated state legislative bodies passed laws that would hamstring the elective preferences of the people. The Wake County Superior Court has determined that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly cannot put constitutional amendments on the ballot because it lacked the full will of the state’s people. The court voided two of these amendments related to a photo voter ID requirement and lowering of the state income tax cap. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that many of North Carolina’s legislative districts were illegally drawn on racial lines and required that 117 districts be redrawn by the 2018 election. Legislators from the illegally-drawn lines passed the two amendments that tend “to favor white households” and would “reinforc[e] the accumulation of wealth for white taxpayers,” according to a lawsuit.

North Carolina is also the only state without a seated representative in the U.S. House from the 2018 election. This past week, the state election board unanimously required a new election for the seat that Baptist pastor Mark Harris claimed to have won by 905 votes after he stepped down. The election board had investigated Harris and his employee who had been accused with “stuffing the ballot box” by requesting, collecting, and completing absentee ballots in favor of Republicans. A closer look at Harris’ actions shows more anomalies. One was Harris’ testimony that he paid the employee through a PAC, a violation of election laws, and then tried to retract that statement several times later in the day. North Carolina has never addressed the type of voter fraud that Harris exhibited, concentrating instead of non-existent “in-person” voter fraud in the GOP attempts to restrict Democratic voting.

Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman is bringing investigation findings of the 9th District election fraud in both 2016 and 2018 to a grand jury next month. She took the case from Marion Warren, the director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, after it was discovered that Warren had introduced Mark Harris to his employee, who is now under scrutiny. Warren has announced a new job at Regent University School of Law in Virginia next month.

David Whitley, Texas’ acting Secretary of State, needs to have two-thirds of a vote for confirmation. His problem is that he inaccurately stated that 95,000 possible noncitizens registered to vote in the state before checking his facts—that tens of thousands of them are citizens. He did apologize for his “mistake,” but 12 Democrats are refusing to vote for him in committee, which would sink his nomination requiring a two-thirds state Senate vote for success. Whitley still hasn’t retracted the list although one of his deputies said the office knew that flagged voters included names of naturalized citizens. The office used outdated driver’s license data to determine citizenships so there is no accurate count of voter fraud. The state is now facing three federal lawsuits over Whitley’s actions, at least one of them about voter disenfranchisement for the March 2, 2019 election. Verifying Whitley’s misinformation is a nightmare, especially for large counties, because Texas law mandates voter registration on paper only. Verifying naturalization also causes problems because data on ceremonies is limited to counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court made an amazing decision this past week—and did it unanimously. All nine justices ruled that states cannot ignore the Constitution when imposing fines or confiscating people’s property in civil or criminal cases. Although to many of us, the ruling sounds like common sense, but states have been confiscating money and property for centuries, but the profits made by governments accelerated with a 1978 federal law. Although the law may seem reasonable on its surface, law enforcement officials have been taking money from people even if they aren’t charged with any crime and then keeping it. By 2018, the DOJ had about $1.5 billion in its forfeiture fund. Reporters have found several cases when people were pulled over with no justification and had their money taken with no proof of a crime. After the police took $11,000, a college student’s life savings, he had to fight in court to get his money returned.

The high court heard Timbs v. Indiana, a case in which police kept a $42,000 Land Rover purchased with legal funds after Tyson Timbs was charged in selling two grams of heroin to an undercover officer. The maximum fine for the infraction was $10,000—four times less than the value of his vehicle that he lost. Indiana is one of four states that claims that the Constitution didn’t cover state law. The justices found that keeping the Land Rover violated the Eighth Amendment’s “excessive fines clause” that applies to state and local courts as well as federal ones.

In a win for Montana, after the Supreme Court wiped out its campaign finance law in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock (2012), the high court let stand the state’s Disclose Act requiring the disclosure of donors to groups spending money or mentioning a candidate with 60 days of a state-level elections. A lower court had ruled the law constitutional, and the Supreme Court declined to take the case. Montana is the third state after New York and California to have disclosure laws for dark money.

A federal judge in Seattle told the Defense Department that it may not require soldiers who are naturalized citizens to undergo “continuous monitoring,” security checks every two years if the military doesn’t scrutinize U.S.-born soldiers in the same way. The 17 plaintiffs are among the 10,000 who enlisted in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that recruits immigrants with critical foreign language or medical skills in exchange for a fast track to citizenship. In mid-2018, the Pentagon began discharging MAVNI participants but reversed the policy a month later.

The research into which whities wore blackface in the past went deep after a photo allegedly with Virginia Ralph Northam (D) initiated the media examination during Black History Month. Most of the photos lacked captions, but 78 USA Today reporters, assigned to the search, found one in the 1989 Arizona State University’s yearbook. Their current editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll was editor of that yearbook and designer of the page with the blackface photo. She has apologized.

Oregon is considering a bill that would drop the voting age from 18 to 16. If the legislature passes the measure, it would be on the 2020 ballot for a vote by the people. My first thought was that 16-year-olds are too young to vote—until I read this article about a 12-year-old journalist. This past week, Hilde Kate Lysiak visited Patagonia (AZ) on the trail of a stories including resident’s opinions about the Border Patrol and the proposed border wall when Joseph Patterson, who passes for the small town’s police chief, stopped her and asked for ID. She gave him her telephone number and address before she told him that she was a member of the press. Patterson said, “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom-of-the-press stuff.” He also threatened to have her arrested and thrown into juvey. [Photo by James Moorehead]

Lysiak decided to tape him when she asked him what she was doing that was illegal. Patterson sat in his white Chevy Silverado truck and said, “You taping me? You can tape me, okay, but what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the Internet, it’s against the law in Arizona.”

The conversation continued as he accused her of lying to him and disobeying his commands. He finally told her, “I’ll be getting a hold of your parents” before he drove off. When Lysiak posted the video to her blog later, she explained that the first Amendment protects recording a law enforcement official in a public place that no law prevents her actions. She also posted her story about the wall.

Lysiak reported on a murder in her hometown when she was nine and has reported on bank robberies, alleged rapes, and other crimes in her Orange Street News, which she helped found almost five years ago and publishes from her parents’ home in Selinsgrove (PA).

Patagonia has taken action against Patterson but won’t say what that is. This is not the first time that Patterson has threatened people with arrest after they started to video him, but it’s the first time that he went after a 12-year-old—and the first time that he had to back down. Lysiak’s taping of Patterson’s threats has received almost 250,000 views and almost 1,000 comments.

I’d pick 12-year-old Hilde Lysiak as an educated voter over Joseph Patterson any time.

December 31, 2018

Shutdown, Cracks in Democracy on Last Day of 2018

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 5:05 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Day Ten of Government Shutdown: Not satisfied with taking paychecks from 800,000 federal workers, almost half of them required to keep working, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has signed an executive order to freeze pay for about two million public employees in the coming year. He canceled a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise that would almost keep wages up with rising inflation. After signing $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, DDT decided that he didn’t want a deficit. Many “furloughed” workers—including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria workers in federal buildings won’t be paid after they were told not to come to work because companies can’t bill the government for services that shut down. Congress could override DDT’s order with a two-thirds veto-proof vote in both chambers.

DDT’s threat to close down the southern border if he doesn’t get his wall soon could cost the U.S. commerce a billion dollars every day, a spike in car prices, and problems with factories. Another casualty would be foods that come to the U.S. from Mexico while the weather keeps agricultural production in the United States. Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Utah—all DDT states—each sent over one-fourth of their exports to Mexico las year. Workers in both Mexico and U.S. comprise a majority of the almost one-million legal border crossings each day. A six-hour closure between San Diego and Tijuana last Thanksgiving cost the local economy $5.3 billion.

The longest government shutdown in history began in 1995 when House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) led the Republicans to cut Medicare. President Bill Clinton refused. After 21 days, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KA) led his GOP members to pass the appropriations bills without Gingrich’s cuts to Medicare, and the House voted the same way. Todd Purdum writes that Gingrich later admitted that part of the reason he closed the government in November 1995 before the December 16 shutdown was that Clinton had pub in a rear cabin on Air Force One while returning from Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in Jerusalem and made him exit by the rear stairs. Gingrich knew that Clinton wouldn’t sign a bill that increased Medicare premiums and cut environmental regulations. “It’s petty,” Gingrich said, “but I think it’s human.” Clinton’s stance on both shutdowns helped him win the 1996 election, but Gingrich got his revenge by working with Monica Lewinsky to force Clinton into an impeachment. The question is what consequences will come out of the current White House tantrum leading to the 2018-19 shutdown.

Lest anyone think that DDT is not “working” on the last day of 2018, he is still angrily tweeting. One claim calls out former chief of staff John Kelly in his statement that the “wall” doesn’t have to be concrete. He wrote, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media.” Like a king, DDT is waiting at the White House for the Democrats, excoriated in his tweets, to come begging to give him funding for his wall. In one tweet, he blamed Democrats for the death of two Guatemalan children in ICE custody this month, writing that the wall would have stopped it. He also tweeted to Democrats that he was sitting in his office waiting for them to come and give him his wall although a reporter found no Marine posted outside the door of the office.

Republicans take pride in their cruelty toward people in the United States with the statement that “Elections have consequences.” When Democrats and progressive ballot measures succeeded in the midterms, however, the GOP in several states refused to take the consequences of the party’s failures. Instead, they spent the last few weeks of the term during the lame-duck session by destroying the will of the people through democracy.

Despite gerrymandering and voter suppression, Michigan and Wisconsin became the poster states with dozens of bills to overturn policies won by majority vote and restrict elected Democratic officials. Many of the new laws reversed increases in the minimum wage and expansion of voting rights.

Michigan passed over 400 bills in less than two months, many of them signed by outgoing GOP Rick Snyder. He did veto four bills that exceeded legislative powers. The legislature may have blocked the use of growing cannabis for personal use, changing the way to appoint the non-partisan commission, and requiring voters to register at a county clerk’s office rather than the polls which removes the approval for same-day voter registration by a majority of the state’s population. Earlier the legislature had blocked a ballot measure on raising the minimum wage and paying sick time by enacting the proposals and then immediately removing these provisions with a simple majority after the midterm election. The legislative action on sick leave exempts almost 40 percent of Michigan workers. To block future ballot measures, legislators made the process of collecting signatures far more difficult and costly. Other lame-duck laws give a $115 million corporate tax cut and mandates that doctors prescribe abortion pills in person.

Other Michigan laws restrict powers of incoming Democrats—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—all of whom replaced Republicans. Limitations include the governor’s authority in blocking a pipeline across the Strait of Mackinac, the AG from withdrawing from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act without legislative permission, and the secretary of state in increasing voter access.

More Michigan laws passed after the election of Democrats:

  • State agencies must prove “clear and convincing” need to impose strong state regulations than federal ones.
  • A $1.3 billion online sales tax revenue was diverted from schools to roads and other priorities.
  • A grading system of A through F is mandated for public schools.
  • Federal toxicity values instead of those established by states must be used for cleaning up hazardous substances.
  •  A measure requiring permits for degrading wetlands made key concessions to developers.
  • Municipalities not already imposing licensing requirements on specific occupations cannot pass ordinance to do so.
  • States agencies may not use drones to surveil facilities subject to licensing or other government requirements.
  • The hunting age for deer, bear, and elk on public lands was reduced to ten years old.

The busy Michigan legislators will probably be crushed by some of Gov. Rick Snyder’s vetoes. A major veto was on the bill that would have permitted legislators to interfere in court cases. In neighboring Wisconsin, losing Gov. Scott Walker signed every lame-duck bill given him, many of them ones that copied those in Michigan. Wisconsin must remain in lawsuits opposed to the ACA, and the new governor cannot dissolve Walker’s misnamed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which gives loans and incentives to businesses connected with Walker and other Republicans. The legislature now has oversight instead of the governor. Other laws require Medicaid recipients to have drug-testing requirements that have not worked in other states and limits early voting to two weeks. Permits granted to the hugely expensive project that acquired large subsidies from Wisconsin taxpayers, Foxconn, have been moved from the GOP AG to the GOP legislature.

Walker’s power grabs caused even his staunch GOP supporters to say that his actions will “destroy” his legacy, already one that destroys the formerly progressive state. Despite its promises, Republicans failed to protect affordable insurance on pre-existing conditions as the ruling from a judge in Texas endangers the future of this health care that people overwhelming desire.

In one day, Wisconsin’s GOP senators approved 82 Walker government appointees a month before he left office, including two members to the state’s public university board. One of the positions had been empty for over a year. Thirty of the appointments had no public hearing, and some had failed to file a statement of economic interest. Eight years ago, Walker urged outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle not to “finalize any permanent civil service personnel” during his last two months in office, writing about “common practice for political appointees to use this time to ‘bump down’ into permanent civil service positions.” He added:

“I believe these appointees should be required to go through the same application process as any other civil servants and my Administration will review any new permanent hires during the next two months so they can be considered for termination during the probationary period.”

Walker also recently gave the outgoing attorney general a seat on a court in Waukesha County ― a position that doesn’t require state Senate approval.

Residents in both Michigan and Wisconsin resent handouts to large corporations, especially Walker’s $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies to Foxconn. The state is not scheduled to break even on the deal until 2043. Snyder’s Michigan “mega-deals” with incentives over $50 million” drain education, healthcare, transportation, and parks. The deals claim to create jobs, but the 29 big deals that cost taxpayers $7.1 billion include General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler. Incentives average $465,000 per job, and advantages may not appear for years.

Florida’s new GOP governor-elect Ron DeSantis plans to stall any enactment of the state’s successful ballot measure, passed by an almost 65-percent vote, to return voting rights to felons completing their sentences. Legislative language could also restrict the law’s intent. A lawsuit could run into problems because DeSantis will replace three liberal-leaning justices immediately after he is sworn in, leaving the court with a six-to-one conservative majority.

Pennsylvania tried to unseat a legally elected state legislator, Ohio introduced legislation to stop people from amending the state constitution because a popular vote restricted gerrymandering, Missouri tried to block a stop to election fraud by popular vote, Georgia purged voters from registration rolls with no excuse, and North Carolina can’t seat a U.S. representative because he bought absentee ballots that would then be used to pad his vote. The Republicans grow more and more desperate because they know they cannot win elections with illegal election fraud and drawing districts that always favor the GOP.

Happy New Year!

December 27, 2018

Disasters in Iraq, More Bad news in North Carolina

Day Six of the Government Shutdown:  The Senate returned today for four minutes to discuss the federal shutdown and then went home until the afternoon of January 2, the last day of the 115th Congress. The House lasted two minutes and 55 seconds. Republicans denied the attempt of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to get a vote on legislation to reopen the government. DDT’s only visibility are his irate tweets.

Nine federal departments and several federal agencies stay unfunded, leaving 25 percent of the government unable to continue operations. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said that the Democratic House may put forward a bill to fund the government without the wall on its first day of January 3. The legislation would mirror the bipartisan Senate bill passed last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) refused to sign any budget bill without his wall. All bills passed before January 3 expire, and the Senate would have to repass the legislation with seven new members. The the Office of Personnel Management shared advice for federal workers such as doing building chores in exchange for reduced rent.

DDT said he was “proud” to cause the shutdown and would wear the “mantle.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted primarily before the beginning of the shutdown shows that 47 percent of adults agree that he is to blame. Only seven percent fault Republicans in Congress with another 33 percent blaming the Democrats.

On Christmas Day, DDT tweeted, with no evidence that “many” of the 800,000 workers without paychecks want him to hold out for the wall and that they’re doing “just fine.” By today, he declared that most of those workers are “Democrats.”

After 706 days in office, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) visited troops in a combat zone for the first time since he was inaugurated. The visit occurred the week after he announced victory over ISIS, a claim that his Pentagon and State Department disputed, and the same day that the New York Times blew the whistle on DDT’s claims of bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam War. Reports from a podiatrist’s doctor’s daughter describe how Fred Trump may have kept his son from the Vietnam War draft. Long ridiculed for using bone spurs as an excuse, DDT received his medical exemption from Dr. Larry Braunstein, according to his daughters who said Braunstein talked about doing a favor for DDT’s father. Braunstein practiced in one of dozens of buildings that Fred Trump owned in Jamaica, Queens. Dr. Manny Weinstein, who lived in two Brooklyn apartments owned by Trump, may have also been involved. Weinstein died in 1995, and Braunstein in 2007. DDT always said that he had a high lottery number, but that process didn’t begin until a year after his bone spur 1-Y exemption. DDT’s earlier exemption as a student came from his attending Wharton, thanks in part to “an interview with a friendly Wharton admissions officer who was one of [his father’s] old high school classmates,” according to Gwenda Blair’s book The Trumps.

While talking to the troops in Iraq, DDT repeated his lies—that they were getting “one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received” and that they “haven’t gotten one in more than ten years.” He continued, “I got you a big one,” claiming that it is over ten percent. Fact check: U.S. troops received pay raises for every year back to 1975 except for 1983. The latest pay raise was 2.6 percent. And there was no debate with anyone who wanted smaller races.

DDT tweeted video of his meeting in Iraq with members of a Navy Seal team on covert operations who were wearing camouflage gear with night vision goggles, putting the men into danger. Their location was considered classified—until DDT announced it. A Defense Department official said that it is the first time that special-ops forces serving in a war zone didn’t have their faces covered or digitally blurred for a photo release. The troops who asked DDT to autograph their MAGA hats might also be violating the DOD’s position on politics.

Although DDT outed special ops, possibly putting them in danger, he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials during his three hours in their country. He said that the trip had been planned for three weeks, but Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance. The prime minister said that any meeting was canceled because of a disagreement of how to conduct the session. After DDT’s visit, Iraqi politicians and lawmakers, angered and insulted by DDT’s swift and unannounced visit, demanded that U.S. troops leave Iraq. Sabah al-Saadi, leader of Iraq’s Islah parliamentary bloc, asked that an emergency parliament “discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.”

DDT also raised conflict in South Africa, not for the first time, by tweeting that State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo should investigate the “killing of farmers” and “land and farm seizures” there. The South African government declared DDT “misinformed” and accused him of stoking racial divisions. The country’s rand currency dropped over 1.5 percent against the U.S. dollar. Farm murders are at a 20-year low, and conservative Australian politicians have falsified the number of deaths last year.

The trip wasn’t even kept a secret. An amateur plane enthusiast and photographer spotted Air Force One over Sheffield, England on its way to Iraq. According to Alan Meloy, the only two VC-25s alternate as Air Force One. He posted his photograph on Flickr, and the secret was out three hours before the plane landed at Al Asad Airbase west of Baghdad.

Distressed about DDT’s moves to pull out troops from the Middle East, GOP senators are looking for someone to stand up to DDT now that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has died. The name of Utah’s incoming GOP senator, Mitt Romney, has been tossed out as a solution to take this role—sort of “let Mikey try it.” Evidently no sitting senator has the courage to take on the task.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), known for choosing his words carefully, sent out one of his most critical statements to date, saying he was “distressed” to read Mattis’s reasons for resigning. He added that Trump should pick a successor who shares Mattis’s “understanding” of the “vital principles” that he outlined in his resignation letter. He didn’t. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said he didn’t believe Trump’s views on foreign policy aligned in many ways with his or most Republicans’.

“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and probably Democrats, elected and unelected,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), asked about Mattis, quipped that he was “still depressed” and “too emotional” to talk about the impending departure. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) said “the vast majority of senators both Democratic and Republican are totally opposed to this policy. We’re trying to get the administration to rethink it.”

Asked if he thought Trump understood foreign policy, the highly conservative senator smiled briefly before adding, “I kind of scratch my head.”

Senators need to get started if they have any involvement in DDT’s decisions about the Middle East.

The North Carolina 9th District issue of election fraud keeps getting worse. In the midst of the GOP candidate’s absentee ballot harvesting to create his win, the state legislature passed an override of the governor’s veto that permits the state elections board to hide any allegations of campaign law violations. The new law also requires new primaries and general election for the 9th District if the board determines that fraud existed in the 2018 election, a law that would force primaries on innocent participants as well as the guilty. The GOP legislature rushed to pass the law because it loses its veto-proof majority at the end of December. At that time, a lawsuit has reinstated the power of overseeing elections, ethics enforcement, and lobbyist reporting to the governor after a GOP legislature removed it from the Democratic governor, changing a century-long practice.

Another problem is that the state Supreme Court dissolved the current elections board as of tomorrow. The board had scheduled a hearing on the 9th District issue on January 11, 2019. Because the state board of elections has not certified Mark Harris as the winner of the 9th District election, Harris cannot go to the U.S. House with the newly elected members on January 3. The governor may be able to appoint a new elections board, but the bill passed into law by the state legislature today mandates that the board doesn’t take effect until January 31, 2019. The House can also refuse to seat a candidate until after an investigation. The 116th Congress will most likely start with 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one vacancy.

Before the shutdown, DDT’s approval rating had dropped to 39 percent, the lowest since he was inaugurated. It’s not likely that these events will bolster the figures.

 

December 26, 2018

Government Shutdown, North Carolina Election Fraud

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Day Five of Government Shutdown:  Adam Taylor points out three ways that the closure of over half the federal government by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) affects the entire world:

People: Those employed at U.S. embassies are required to work without paychecks in any shutdown, but they may not be paid at the end of the debacle, especially non-U.S. citizens contracted to work for the U.S. government.

Procedure: The State Department claims that it will issue passports and visas throughout the shutdown, but other services may not be provided. The Department told U.S. citizens to follow the embassy Twitter account in Jakarta after Indonesia’s tsunami that killed at least 429 people but the embassy tweeted that the shutdown has stopped regular tweets. The U.S. Geological Survey could also not provide data on the tsunami. A shutdown stops no new funding commitments or obligations except to protect life and property; further restrictions may be implemented.

Prestige: Most other political systems don’t leave hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay because of a political dispute. Of the 22 federal government shutdowns in the past 40 years, three have been in just the past year.

The shutdown caused lights to be turned off the National Christmas Tree near the White House because of no repairs after a man climbed the tree before the shutdown. A National Park Foundation grant got the lights back on by Christmas Eve. Roads at national parks are not plowed, and no one services trash and toilets. A holiday organ concert was not held in Mount Vernon (NY) because St. Paul’s Church is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service. Tickets to Alcatraz Cruises were refunded, and bald eagles were safe from voyeurs on the Skagit River in Washington state when observation of their migration was closed. The sled dog puppy webcam from Denali National Park (Alaska) was one of several shut down. The panda site at the National Zoo in Washington was supposedly operating, but not when I tried to connect. You can get the one in China.

The shutdown is all about DDT’s desire for a “wall.” [Orange lines above are fences already in place.] In his desperation to please his base, he tweeted:

“I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.”

He added on Christmas Day that he got a “great price.” Those statements contain a few lies:

  • A president cannot give out a contract; only  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may award contracts for border wall construction after Congress approves funding.
  • Congress approved funding for 33 miles in the Rio Grande Valley last March, and CBP announced in November that the construction would begin in February 2019.
  • The approved funding last March for 84 miles, including the 33 miles in Texas, may cost about $22 million per mile with a contract costing $313 million for 14 of those miles.

The 33 miles include the nonprofit National Butterfly Center, a state park, and privately owned ranches and farmland. Another $5 billion that DDT demands in exchange for closing the shutdown could build 215 miles, including 159 miles in Texas. The U.S. already has 653 miles of border fence, funded in 2006, at a cost of $2.3 per mile in 2015, ten percent of the projected cost in 2019, because the fence, on easier terrain, also had a less complicated design. More detailed information about the wall.

The Senate has one week to pass funding for the wall before the GOP-dominated House disappears for the next two years. The session begins tomorrow at 4:00 pm. DDT has dropped his $5 billion demand to $2.1 billion plus $400 million as DDT’s “slush fund” for his other immigration priorities and more money to secure the border with no requirement, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is sticking at $1.3 billion. Even with a miracle, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be forced to drag the representatives back to Washington at the end of the week to vote on a Senate bill, and the approximately 70 Republicans who won’t be returning to the House next year, almost one-third of the GOP members, may be reluctant go to that effort.

When the 116th Congress takes effect on January 3, 2019, a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District won’t be present. After DDT’s two-year obsession with “voter fraud,” even the claim that all of Hillary Clinton’s popularity majority of three million people came from “illegal aliens,” the problem of election fraud is front and center in at least two North Carolina counties  The media exposed the practice of Republicans paid to collect absentee ballots and either change or destroy them to favor GOP U.S. House candidate Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist minister for over three decades. In the past eight weeks, the news about GOP illegal behavior has spread although Republicans waited almost a month to express concern about the election fraud.

Harris’ campaign owes over $34,000 to Red Dome Group for its contract with Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. who illegally collected absentee ballots, an action that put Harris ahead in the race for U.S. House by 905 votes. Voters have testified that they gave their signed ballots to someone who came to their houses and asked for them, ballots which were never counted. Others did not fill out the signed ballot before they gave it to the person who asked for them.   Harris deliberately directed the hiring of Dowless because of the operative’s shady tactics.

In 2016, Dowless paid $225 to two ballot harvesters for each ballot, half for completed ballot request forms and the other half for the ballots themselves. He provided a “sample ballot” to show which candidates should be selected and coached them on what to say if they were caught harvesting ballots. Ten days after DDT’s inauguration, N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned his administration about the illegal absentee ballot activities in Bladen County and urgently requested criminal charges against Dowless. In February 2017, state investigators had the first of several in-person meetings providing FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence about criminal activity by Dowless and others. By then, DDT had fired DOJ’s deputy AG Sally Yates, who was acting as AG, and DDT’s AG replacement took no action. Instead he told his staff to prosecute a few non-citizens who had allegedly voted among over 6.9 million citizens. Several of those prosecutions were against longtime legal permanent residents; four of those prosecuted pleaded guilty with the only sentence, a $200 fine, against an Italian man who legally lived in the U.S. since 1985.

Earlier this year, Harris’ opponent in the primary warned the state and national GOP officials about possible fraud after 96 percent of absentee ballots were marked in favor of Harris. The North Carolina elections board issued subpoenas to the Harris campaign and Red Dome Group, and the Wake County district attorney’s office in Raleigh, the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and federal prosecutors are examining voting irregularities in the 9th District.

Harris’ illegal actions were compounded by the Bladen County board illegally counting early votes three days before Election Day and possibly sharing the result with the candidate. In 2016, Dowless said that Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw knew his staffers illegally put their initials in the corner of ballots they returned. Shaw retired last month before her scheduled January 1 retirement. Dowless also admitted that he took cash from the campaign to pay his workers to elect Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVickers at the request of former GOP Chairman Landon Bordeaux. Several hundred absentee ballots “were physically seen and confirmed as votes for sheriff McVicker by Mr. Dowless.”

The state GOP sticks with Harris, who has said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing.” By December 17 the state GOP and Harris’ GOP officials demanded that Harris be certified as the winner and seated in the House. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/roy-cooper-to-veto-bill-with-race-redo-unless-sections-removed    On December 18, the North Carolina GOP legislature passed a bill to have a new primary and general election for Harris’ district that includes cover for lobbyists and those who violate campaign finance law. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation because of the latter provisions.

The state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement rescheduled its hearing about absentee ballot fraud for January 11, 2019 because investigators are looking into activities in both Bladen and Robeson counties. One option is to hold a general election for the race with Harris, the GOP nominee, unless he dies or moves out of state. Another is to begin the process with a primary. If no candidate were to win more than 30 percent of the vote, a second primary would be required to select a candidate with a plurality. That would be followed by the general election. need to be triggered to determine the nominee.

North Carolina is also the state where the modern power-stripping trend began. In 2016, Republican legislators passed a law to hamstring the governor’s office after a Democrat won that seat.

Now the state is using election fraud to push for more voter suppression.

 

November 20, 2018

Make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: , , ,

A group of conservative Democrats elected to the 116th Congress—some of them new to the House—seem determined to sabotage the possibility of success for their party in a hard-won election. Their goal is to keep Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from taking the gavel for Speaker of the House; some of them even ran on that promise.

Sixteen House Democrats signed a letter that stated:

“We promised to change the status quo and we intend to deliver on that promise. Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our Caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

These are the people who signed the letter. Please note that Ben McAdams is ahead of GOP Mia Love, but the race has not yet been declared.

  • Anthony Brindisi (D-NY)
  • Jim Cooper (D-TN)
  • Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
  • Bill Foster (D-IL)
  • Brian Higgins (D-NY)
  • Stephen Lynch (D-MA)
  • Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
  • Kathleen Rice (D-NY)
  • Max Rose (D-NY)
  • Tim Ryan (D-OH)
  • Linda Sanchez (D-CA)
  • Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
  • Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ)
  • Ben McAdams (D-UT)

The media touts these signatories as “moderate Democrats,” but they are conservative. Those already in the House voted at least 20 percent of the time with the wishes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and one of them supported DDT over 38 percent of the time. At least four of the eleven sitting representatives are listed as “Blue Dogs,” a caucus of conservative Democrats.

The letter from 16 people, primarily men, shows that they have no alternative for leadership and no goals other than “change.” DDT was elected because people wanted “change.” If Democrats are going to save the nation from the “Trump Party,” they need to operate as a unit. Keeping leadership from a person who has shown great skill at unity and success can guarantee that DDT and his base will destroy democracy.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who was suggested as a candidate for Speaker, announced today that she is supporting Pelosi.

Joe Conason wrote the following piece about Pelosi that expresses my feelings. If you agree with Conason’s position below and one of the dissenters is your representative, please contact him or her to give your opinion. I certainly am.

The tiny faction of Democrats who aim to block Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s election as House speaker are only missing two things: a candidate of their own and a rationale that makes sense.

The easier problem is the absence of a candidate, even though the members who have been mentioned so far seem small when measured against Pelosi, who is often described with superlatives such as “formidable” and even “legendary.” And most of her declared opponents within the Democratic caucus are white men, so they may have trouble persuading colleagues that ousting history’s first female speaker to install one of them would be an uplifting change.

Presumably, that is why they have seized upon Rep. Marcia Fudge, a disgruntled Ohio Democrat who has suggested she might challenge Pelosi. But at age 66, Fudge hardly represents “generational change,” as one of her promoters claimed, and she may have trouble explaining why, as a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, its members have shot down her trial balloon. The heroic Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., for instance, says that Pelosi is “a great leader” whom he supports “more than 100 percent.”

Nor has Fudge articulated an inspiring charter for revolution. She calls Pelosi “an elitist,” whatever that may mean, and “a very wealthy person who raises lots of money from other wealthy people.” At the same time, she concedes that Pelosi “has been a very good leader,” and says, “I just think it’s time for a new one.”

But if Pelosi is a very good leader, then why do they need a new one, exactly? The hollow sound of Fudge’s critique echoes in the remarks of her fellow complainants. They say that Democratic leadership needs “new blood” or “new leadership.” They note their pledges to constituents to oppose Pelosi, although the reason behind those pledges has never been made clear either. Is it because Republicans keep smearing her?

The putative leader of the anti-Pelosi faction, Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., used to say that Pelosi had to go because the Democrats were losing elections. (That was sometime after he wrote a gushing letter in June 2016 thanking her for his appointment to the House Armed Services Committee.) Now he grumbles that she is “arrogant” for thinking “she’s the only person who can do this.”

She may not be the only one who can do this — lead the House Democrats against a would-be authoritarian president and his senatorial rubber stamps — but there is no evidence that anyone else available can do it nearly as well.

Forget the obvious fact that against the predictions of critics like Moulton, she led the caucus to a smashing midterm victory. Her qualifications are personal. She is seasoned, cool and not intimidated by any of her avowed adversaries in either party. She knows how to craft legislation and count votes, as she has proved repeatedly since President Trump entered the White House — most notably during last year’s budget negotiations, when she ate the Republicans’ lunch. Any Democrat who thinks replacing Pelosi will advance progressive goals should take a closer look at Moulton and his buddies. Deposing her would most likely deliver the gavel to Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the resolutely centrist minority whip. (He is a year older than she is and not half the leader.)

It is remarkable that in this hour of constitutional confrontation, fomented by a president who violates his oath and endangers national security every day, a rump group of House Democrats insists its most important mission is to overthrow the woman who returned them to power. It is astonishing that this group plans to carry the grudge onto the House floor come Jan. 3, even knowing that it will lose a vote within the caucus by an overwhelming majority. (So far the group has 16 votes out of roughly 235, depending how a few lingering races are resolved.) And it is disturbing that they would ignore their duty to hinder Trump’s depredations, instead rupturing the only institution with the will and authority to oppose him.

There is a good reason that Republicans have sought to demonize this highly effective and determined woman. Unlike most Democrats, she has shown the ability to beat them. And that is the best reason to elect her.

Women were a strong movement behind electing the House majority of Democrats, and UnidosUS, a leading Latinx civil rights organization, has endorsed her as has the International Association of Fire Fighters and nine military veterans serving in the House. Pelosi managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed eight years ago, the issue that may have put the Democrats back into House leadership. Yet 14 men have decided to sign a letter that sends the message that a woman is not good enough for the position. These men should understand that their opposition to Pelosi with no justification may not keep the electorate that they need for the future.

November 19, 2018

Midterm Elections: A Postmortem

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 11:43 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

EPA/CHRIS TODD

The midterm elections of 2018 are winding down. Only two House races are still undecided, a Georgia Republican ahead by 29 votes out of over 280,000 votes and a Utah Democrat with a 739-vote lead with 270,000 votes. Without those two decisions, Democrats gained 38 seats to have the majority of 233 to the 200 GOP seats. Georgia will definitely go to a recount. In the Senate, four Democrats lost their seats, and two Republicans lost theirs. With the determination that Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott took the U.S. Senate seat, the Senate settled in with 52 Republicans out of 100 as it waits for the election in Mississippi on November 27. Usually, that state would automatically pick a Republican, but Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (left) has made a poor showing lately, seeming to laud lynching and criticized the legality of black college students voting.

Now that Republicans won three important races—Florida’s governor and U.S. senator and Georgia’s governor—Scott and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) decided that the elections are not rigged. The question will always be there, however, as the winning GOP Florida candidate for senator and Georgia candidate for governor control the elections that they won.

An opinion piece by Abe Rakov in conservative USA Today states:

“We’re seeing Republican politicians run a political strategy to manipulate who can vote and, ultimately, remake the electorate in their favor. They’re trying to rig our elections because they don’t think they can win any other way. It’s cheating, it’s wrong and it’s anti-democratic.

“Jason Kander and I started Let America Vote in 2017 to create political consequences for politicians who try to stop eligible voters from voting. Over 65,000 people across the country have signed up to volunteer to help us in that effort. Through this November and beyond, Let America Vote is going to fight back against these proposals because our democracy is bigger than politicians who will do anything to win an election.”

Florida GOP Influence over Voting:

Scott kept the painfully inept election supervisor Brenda Snipes in her position after many missteps, one of which took her to court. Kitty Garber, research director and co-founder of the nonpartisan Florida Fair Elections Coalition, said that Snipes’ “behavior has disproportionately harmed Democratic candidates. When absentee ballots go missing in largely Democratic Broward County, you can be sure that most of them belong to Democratic voters.”

Scott also tried to use law enforcement to control the voting process and filed several lawsuits.

Truthout did a detailed analysis of data available in the election to show how computer software can manipulate voter outcome and what happened in Florida.

Absentee ballots may not have been counted if they were locked in a mail facility after the Florida man sent pipe bombs through the USPS.

The pastor of a church posted this sign when it was used as a polling place:

Don’t vote for Democrats on Tuesday and sing, ‘Oh how I love Jesus’ on Sunday.”

Georgia GOP Influence over Voting:

The GOP may use voter suppression in Georgia as a model for future efforts.

Brian Kemp, the candidate for governor and coincidentally state secretary of state, “doxed” 291,164 absentee voters by posting their personal details online for anyone to download. “Doxing” has become a common harassment practice of posting people’s personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, and even Social Security numbers.

Some voters waited over four hours to vote in suburban Atlanta. The state installed only three voting machines in a Fulton County polling place; Atlanta is in Fulton County. In other areas, the voting machines were broken or automatically registered Kemp’s name when voters selected his opponent.

Kemp refused to have any paper trail for the voting machines.

Voters also faced intimidation in several states:

Texas (where Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz by 220,000 votes out of 8.3 million): An election judge was filmed screaming at a black voter and threatening to call the police when the voter asked where she was supposed to vote. The DHS had planned a “crowd-control” exercise near a Latinx neighborhood in El Paso but decided to cancel the exercise after critics pointed out its intimidation effort.

Virginia: A DDT supporter stood outside a polling place with a German Shepherd that barked at voters. A member of the GOP said that the man is a known, excited DDT supporter who would do no harm.

Idaho: Intimidating signs regarding student voting were posted at polling places.

Tennessee: Five or six men outside a polling place told voters they should not be voting.

Indiana: At least one voting machine refused to accept votes for Democrats.

Arizona: Republicans sued to keep mail-in ballots from being counted because the 15 county recorders done have the same standard for adjusting problems. Two counties being sued allow people to verify their signatures up to five days after the election; both are major Democratic-leaning urban counties. (Democrat Kyrsten Sinema finally won her election for U.S. Senate.)

Those who criticize Democrats for more wins or claim that Republicans are better because the Dems picked up “only” 38 to 40 seats in the House aren’t aware of the control on elections from the GOP gerrymandering. Wisconsin is a classic case. This chart tells it all: Democrats won in all state elections and cast more votes for people in the state legislature while losing almost two-thirds of the seats. State assembly Democratic minority leader Gordon Hintz pointed out the lack of competitive districts, the reason that a district court ruled the legislative maps unconstitutional. The case, Gill v. Whitford, went to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to a lower federal court. These maps

Richard Hasen wrote that Wisconsin’s continued gerrymandering is thanks to retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. Last summer, the court unanimously determine that plaintiffs had not proved they had standing to sue because they didn’t suffer direct injury. In 2004, Kennedy demanding a “workable standard” to decide if partisan decisions on district crossed a constitutional line. The court managed to avoid making any decision about whether the U.S. Constitution forbids gerrymandering and, if so, standards for decisions. The Republicans in Wisconsin draw the districts to favor Republicans so that Republicans can continue drawing districts to favor Republicans.

A contrast in House districts can be found in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. After a court order mandated redrawing districts, Pennsylvania went from solidly GOP to one evenly split. North Carolina stayed overwhelmingly GOP with the Republican-drawn map despite an even split in party votes for the delegation members. Associated Press determined that more states have GOP-tilted districts than Democratic ones.

Karma came to the GOP sponsor of the restrictive North Dakota law mandating that no one (aka Native Americans) could vote if they didn’t have an ID with a street address. A Native American Democrat beat him in the election. And the Georgia secretary of state vote goes into a runoff on December 4.

This election breakdown as of November 16 shows the great diversity of Democrats in the 116th Congress, starting in January 2019. Of the 36 women additions to the House this coming year, one is a Republican.

 

 

November 13, 2018

Lawyers Winners of Elections, Other Lawsuits

The real winners of the midterm elections and the first 662 days of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Oval Office are the lawyers. Nowhere has this been more obvious in the past week than in the South where Georgia and Florida Republican officials—candidates for offices—are screaming “fraud” and charging off to the courts.

During a campaign rally a few days before the 2016 presidential election, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election—if I win.” He won and accepted the electoral vote although not the popular vote—which he lost. Now he’s losing in at least three states and refusing to accept the midterm election races.

As Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s lead over his opponent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) dwindles, Scott, also the U.S. Senate candidate, has been joined by Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to echo DDT’s cry of voter fraud despite disagreement from the state secretary of state, a Scott-appointed Republican. Scott didn’t object to GOP counties breaking his own emergency order when predominantly GOP Bay County, hit hard by a recent hurricane, allowed voters to illegally cast ballots by email.

Scott filed at least five lawsuits trying to defeat Nelson, including not counting all ballots received after Election Day which disenfranchises all overseas voters including veterans. Florida voters are now suing him for illegally abusing his position as governor to win his race for U.S. senator by stopping the counting of legal votes. Despite Scott’s lawsuits, Florida has started a machine recount of the vote and may have a manual vote if the difference in that election drops below 0.25 percent. Scott is ahead by about 12,000 votes in 8 million plus ballots before all have been counted; Florida’s gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is behind GOP Ron DeSantis by about 40,000 votes.

In Georgia, former Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who resigned when he falsely declared himself governor-elect, has lost a lawsuit to block ballots. In this election of almost four million voters, his Democratic opponent, Stacy Abrams, is behind by about 58,000 votes, but a judge has ruled that provisional ballots must be counted because Kemp, in charge of elections, has not maintained voter information security, increasing the risk that his purge of over 700,000 names on the registered rolls was illegally “manipulated or mismanaged.” The court orders mandated publicity about a website for provisional ballot voters to find information about whether their provisional ballots had been counted and why. The judge stated that the ballots were rejected “through no fault of their own.”

Under Kemp, Georgia voter updates by people getting or renewing state driver’s licenses never moved into the state’s voter database, and they didn’t know that Georgia had illegally failed to register them to vote. State law mandates that provisional ballots are counted only if names are on the voter registration list where they may have been removed because of Kemp’s actions. The Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) requires the provisional ballots be counted if voters are eligible to vote.

Another judge ordered Georgia to count 5,000 ballots rejected because voters didn’t complete date of birth when signing mail-in ballot envelopes and ordered the state’s vote counting to continue until Friday instead of ending today. As of Sunday, Abrams needed 19,000 more votes to trigger a recount and 21,000 more to force a December runoff. The almost 22,000 provisional ballots plus over 2,000 ballots coming from overseas and military brings the total of uncounted ballots to nearly 29,000.

The November 27 run-off for U.S. Senate pits Mississippi candidates Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) against Mike Espy, behind by 8,000 votes, for the final two years of a senate term because neither candidates garnered 50 percent of the vote. At a campaign rally four days before the midterm elections, Hyde-Smith responded to a man who praised her, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Mississippi recorded at least 581 lynchings of black people, about 12 percent of the 4,743 between 1882 and 1968 and the most of any state in the country. DDT-supporter Hyde-Smith repeatedly refused to answer questions by saying that she had issued a statement calling the remark an “exaggerated expression of regard.”

DDT already lost the U.S. Senate position in Arizona that went to the Democrat Krysten Sinema. Opponent Martha McSally was gracious in her concession, perhaps because she expects to be appointed to former Sen. John McCain’s position if Jon Kyle leaves in January.

A sour-grapes failed GOP candidate for the Arizona legislature is suing her winning opponent, U.S.-born Latina Raquel Terán, accusing her of not being a U.S. citizen. Alice Novoa already sued Terán in 2012 for the same (non)offense, and the case was dismissed because her attorney provided the birth certificate. Novoa avoided $650 in court fees with her claim that she doesn’t work and has no income.

Nonelection lawsuits:

Maryland opened to door to lawsuits involving DDT’s unlawful appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting AG for Jeff Sessions replacement. Brian Frosh, Maryland AG, asked a federal judge to remove Whitaker from that position because the appointment is unconstitutional. This request is part of the state’s ongoing lawsuit to force DDT to retain a key provision of the Affordable are Act, including protections for people with pre-exiting conditions. Maryland AG Brian Frosh declared that any action Whitaker takes regarding the ACA for the federal government would be invalid because he cannot legally serve as acting AG and asks for an immediate injunction. In 2014, Whitaker maintained that the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding the ACA was one of the worse rulings in its entire history.

DDT believes that he is protected in Whitaker’s appointment by the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act, stating that a president may temporarily fill a vacancy for a position requiring Senate confirmation with any senior official who has been in the department for at least 90 days. Another statute makes the deputy attorney general next in line at the DOJ. The lawsuit maintains that a more specific law takes precedence over a more general law. The AG also argues that DDT should have less flexibility in replacing the AG because a president under investigation could install a “carefully selected senior employee who he was confident would terminate or otherwise severely limit” the inquiry. Whitaker is justifying his position with an 1898 Supreme Court Case supporting the appointment of the acting U.S. consult in the country that is now Thailand when no one else was available after the Senate-confirmed consult was sick. The argument against this case is that the AG office did not become vacant through an unexpected emergency and several Senate-confirmed DOJ officials are available.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has also called for hearings to address “serious questions” about his appointment because of Whitaker’s outspoken opposition to the Robert Mueller investigation.

In a First Amendment lawsuit, CNN is suing the White House for stripping Jim Acosta’s of his press credentials. Acosta was targeted after false accusations of “laying hands” on a press intern. The accurate video shows her stepping into his space to grab his microphone and his saying, “Pardon me, ma’am.” Also included in the suit are tops aides John Kelly, Sarah Sanders, Bill Shine, the head of the Secret Service, and the officer who took Acosta’s pass. After a complaint was filed, the White House claimed that Acosta lost his credentials because he refused to give up his microphone.

The DOJ has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop lawsuits in three courts of appeal—the 2nd, the 9th, and the D.C.—to block President Obama’s DACA program where these courts allow the program to continue.

DDT’s administration is also facing a lawsuit accusing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and a top deputy of sexism in determining their policy decisions. Filed in January, the lawsuit argues against DeVos’ prevention of Title IX guidance on handling campus sexual assault cases; the current filing adds that her decision was impacted by discriminatory and stereotyped views of women, based on evidence obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. These records show that the Department of Education obtained input from sources pushing inflated and widely discredited statistics about false rape allegations. Another source came from Candice Jackson, who provided a book  Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus (Laura Kipnis), that falsely described the Title IX guidance permitting women to seek legal recourse for “awkward sexual experiences” and then ask for protection from “sexual bogeymen.” Jackson also received information from Gordon Finley, part of the National Coalition for Men, who referred to the former Title IX guidance as a “war on men,” and she falsely maintained that 90 percent of sexual assault accusations come from misunderstandings or drunken regrets. Other sources provided prejudicial information to the department’s leaders about claims regarding sexual assault. DDT’s statements and behavior toward women also figure into the lawsuit’s amendment on sexism.

Two weeks ago, DeVos lost her court battle after she tried to end regulations helping defrauded students receive federal loan forgiveness and keep colleges from mandating arbitration for complaint resolution instead of going to court. President Obama’s consumer protections are now in effect.

November 10, 2018

Midterm Elections Not ‘Big Victory’ for GOP

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claims that Democrats want “to steal the election.” His proof? Democrats want to count every vote. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants new elections in Florida and Arizona because a continued count of ballots is favoring three Democrats, both governor races and the U.S. Senate race in Florida. GOP lawsuits against continuing to count ballots are flying fast and furious, and Gov. Rick Scott, also candidate for U.S. senator from Florida, wants to use his gubernatorial power to stop counting votes before his opponent gets a majority and at least manages a recount. And Republicans no longer care about the caravan in Mexico that consumed their media before the election.

Gov. Scott tried to stop the votes from being counted with the law enforcement after three-fourths of his lead on Election night disappeared, leaving him only 15,000 votes ahead. Candidate Scott is suing to block counting after accusing “liberal activists” of trying to “steal the election.”

Former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), once a Republican, said his absentee ballot was rejected for “invalid signature.” Another voter was told that her signature with her finger on a smart pad at the polling place didn’t match the ID. Cindy McCain, widow of former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted about the vote counting issue:

“I am one of those mail in ballots. I was under the impression my vote was always counted.”

While Republicans win, GOP leaders stay quiet; the minute that the vote swings in the opposite direction, they go batsh*t crazy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who once called Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) a “con man,” joined Scott in coming unglued about Broward County, home to almost two million people, taking longer to count votes than Bay County with 150,000 residents. Broward County leans Democrat, so Rubio alleges that “democrat lawyers” are descending on Florida “to try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate.” The GOP game plan in Florida is the same as in 2000 when Al Gore supposedly lost Florida by 537 votes: stop the recount and declare Republicans the winner before the discovery that the Democrats have more votes.

With no evidence, DDT and his sort-of lawyer Rudy Giuliani leaped into the fray to portray the Florida counts as rigged, supporting Scott and Rubio in their unfounded claims of voter fraud. Despite lack of legal basis, Giuliani wants to “disqualify [Broward and Palm Beach] votes counted only after all other counties were finished.” He also referred to “[Clinton] Hillary’s lawyers trying to steal Florida election,” probably meaning Nelson’s lawyer Marc Elias who was Clinton’s general counsel during her 2016 presidential campaign. Fox’s Sean Hannity said, ““I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” meaning that he was born after 2000.

Three retired military leaders respond to GOP attempts to stop the voting in three of the 50 states:

“We, the men and women who served under our command, and everyone who served in the Armed Forces swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. Many died, and many were wounded, protecting it, and our sacred right to vote — and see that vote counted.

“It is appalling that Trump Republicans in Florida, Arizona and Georgia are fighting to stop accurately counting all the votes, as they lose ground. It dishonors everything our troops have fought for, and died for.

“We want to be very clear: Taking actions to stop counting votes is not only un-democratic, it is downright un-American.” – General (US Army, Ret.) Wesley K. Clark, Major General (US Army, Ret.) Paul D. Eaton, and Brigadier General (US Army, Ret.) Steven M. Anderson

Despite GOP efforts to suppress the vote, at least 123 women—103 Democrats and 20 Republicans—will be in the 116th Congress beginning in January 2019, and another ten women could join them. Many of the women are “firsts” in congressional records: age, ethnicity, religion, and states that they represent. Barry Blitt celebrated these women for the New Yorker cover.

Six state legislative chambers also flipped from GOP to Democratic.

Democrats may have fewer senators, governors, and state legislatures, but they comprise the majority of state attorneys general. After flipping four seats in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin from Republicans, the 27 Democratic AGs will continue to protect states and serve as a check to DDT’s executive orders. Another four AGs are in play as governors of Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming appoint three of them, and the statehouse in Maine elects one.

Voters in 37 states voted on a total of 157 ballot measures on Election Day; here’s sample of the mostly good news:

North Carolina: Voters blocked constitutional amendments that would have packed a state supreme court to continue more gerrymandering and voter suppression, measures that the courts had failed to stop earlier. A GOP election-rigging scheme blew up and installed a civil rights Democrat in the state Supreme Court that led to a court of five Democrats and two Republicans. Voters in the state did pass the GOP photo voter ID mandate, but the state Supreme Court could hear a lawsuit against it.

Michigan: Voters instated a fully independent redistricting commission, removing the ability of GOP lawmakers to gerrymandering congressional and legislative redistricting. Colorado and Missouri passed redistricting reform, and a similar measure in Utah has a one-point lead. To illustrate the importance of Michigan’s vote to remove gerrymandering, President Obama won the popular vote of the state by almost 60 percent in 2012, the same year that the GOP took over 60 percent of the U.S. representatives. Pennsylvania gained three Democratic seats in the House after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its gerrymandered maps last January. These six states show the effect of gerrymandering. [visual gerrymandering]

Maryland: Voters approved same-day voter registration by two to one. Michigan also passed the same law; 18 states and D.C. now let voters register at the same time that they vote on Election Day. North Carolina voters can register during the early-voting period. Other increased voting accessibility in Michigan include automatic voter registration, removal of the need for an excuse to vote absentee, protection of the straight-ticket voting option, and regular election audits for accuracy. Previously, Michigan Republican legislators had allowed unrestricted absentee voting only to voters 60 or older, the GOP base. Republicans also hate straight-ticket voting because it is more popular with blacks, who largely tend to be Democrats.

Nevada: Voters passed an automatic voter registration while doing business with the DMV. That brings the total of “motor-voter” registration to 13 states and D.C.

Florida: Voters overwhelmingly voted to allow people with felony convictions to vote—1.5 million citizens in the state. Laws like this passed in many states after the Civil War were intended to block black voters. Gov. Rick Scott almost ended clemency to return voting rights for specific individuals (aka non-GOP supporters) in 2011. People in prison, on parole or probation, and with murder or sexual offenses may not vote, allowing another 1.4 million people this right. The remaining question is whether Florida will require a poll tax in the form of repaying all court fines and fees, cutting the number to 840,000 new voters.

Michigan & Colorado: Voters elected Democrats for secretaries of state, positions that Republicans use to purge eligible voters. In New Hampshire, the newly-elected Democrat state legislature can replace longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the Democrat-in-name-only appointed by Republicans. Georgia’s Democratic Secretary of State John Barrow, trailing by only 0.6 percent heads to a December 4 runoff. Arizona has called the position for its GOP candidate for the position, but the Democrat is behind by only 21,000 votes with hundreds of thousands of ballots left to be counted.

Idaho, Nebraska, & Utah: Medicaid expansion passed but failed in Montana.

Missouri & Arkansas: Voters passed minimum wage increases.

Washington: New gun control measures passed.

Missouri & Utah: Voters approved medical marijuana with that ballot measure the most popular one in Missouri. Thirty-three states and D.C. now have some form of legalized medical marijuana, and another 14 have laws allowing cannabis but limiting that THC content. Michigan passed recreational marijuana, bringing the total to ten states. Only North Dakota blocked a cannabis initiative, keeping medical marijuana but not approving recreational marijuana. Former AG Jeff Sessions, who declared a war on cannabis, has been fired.

Massachusetts: Voters stopped discrimination against transgender rights by keeping a 2016 law barring discrimination against transgender people in public spaces.

Oregon: Voters rejected a measure banning public funding for abortions available to low-income women. Alabama and West Virginia voters passed measures to prevent a woman’s right to have an abortion through “personhood,” but the initiative is unconstitutional until the GOP Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

In paranoid North Dakota, voters approved a change to the constitution: instead of “every citizen” can vote, they approved “only a citizen” can vote. And Colorado voted to prohibit slavery, once and for all, despite 35 percent of the voters—26 DDT-supporting counties of 64 in the state—supporting the practice as punishment for a crime.

Midterm elections are not over. Florida and Georgia are still counting votes for governor, and Arizona and Florida are doing the same for the U.S. Senate. Mississippi has a run-off for one of the U.S. senate positions as well as a congressional representative. Another dozen House races in nine states are still up in the air. And those undecided races don’t include the recounts and lawsuits that will emerge.

Next Page »

© blogfactory

Genuine news

Civil Rights Advocacy

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

AGR Daily News

Transformational News; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and activists.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

Rainbow round table news

Official News Outlet for the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: