Nel's New Day

October 17, 2018

DDT, Kavanaugh – Liars Running the U.S.

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 9:06 PM
Tags: , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), known for his lies, has concentrated on trying to exonerate Saudi Arabia in its killing of the U.S. reporter Jamal Khashoggi.  First DDT appeared to think that the “problem” would blow over if he just ignored the entire event. Backlash caused him to call the Saudi king about the killing and report that the king doesn’t know anything about it. (DDT has a tendency to support world dictators by appearing to believe their denials, just as he did with Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election.)

In the face of escalating anger from the people of the United States and members of Congress, including Republicans, DDT used the same excuse for exonerating his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh: Khashoggi may have been murdered, but the Saudi royalty isn’t to blame. Somebody else did it. “These could have been rogue killers,” DDT said. He ignored the group of 15 Saudis, one of them a specialist in autopsies and bringing a bone saw, who arrived in Turkey on a private jet about 3:00 in the morning before the murder. Someone tried to maintain that they were “tourists,” but they left the same day—after Khashoggi disappeared into the embassy—as diplomatic pouches left the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Two planes returned the murder squad to Saudi Arabia. When Turkey gained access to the embassy for an investigation, a cleaning crew had preceded them, and some places in the embassy had been freshly painted.

Saudi’s dictator oversaw 48 beheadings in 2018’s first four months; he would have found a single dismembering to be simple. If Saudi Arabia decides to take DDT’s lead in blaming someone not connected with the government, whoever they finger will be killed. DDT can then claim the murdering as proof of “rogue killers.”

DDT maintains that he has “no financial interests” in Saudi Arabia, but he loves Saudis because they give him money. Even Fox network reported on his fiscal involvement. Saudis launder their money by purchasing his apartments in inflated prices, they may give him permits to build his desired hotel in Jeddah if he behaves, a Saudi royal billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal bailed out DDT in the 1990s by buying his yacht and a stake in New York’s Plaza Hotel, and they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stay at his hotel in Washington.

In an attempt to smooth over the problem, DDT sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to tell the Saudi Crown Prince how much DDT loves the prince. Pompeo said that “we need to make sure we are mindful” of the important US-Saudi ties to conclude what happened to Khaghoggi. Every time that reporters ask DDT about Khashoggi, DDT brags about the giant–and possibly non-existent–arms deal with Saudi Arabia. He cannot make the deal on his own, however; Congress must approve the sale of weapons that Saudi Arabia uses to kill civilians in the Middle East. DDT says he’s awaiting the “investigation,” probably as effective as the one into Brett Kavanaugh, and Jared Kushner, the Saudi prince’s BFF is hiding from the situation.

In another continuing lie, DDT constantly makes a big and offensive deal about Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for her comment that she has Native American heritage, going so far as to say that he would donate $1 million to her selection of a charity if she took a DNA test proving her claim. After his usual slur of calling her “Pocahantas,” he said at a rally, “I will give you a million dollars to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian [sic],” he announced. She did, but he now says, “I didn’t say that.” Maybe he doesn’t have the money.

DDT tried to convince Lesley Stahl during an interview on 60 Minutes that he “didn’t really make fun” of Kavanaugh’s victim, Christine Blasey Ford. After Stahl pointed out that he did mock her, and he defended himself by saying that without his ridicule “we would not have won.” DDT continued by stating that he is “bringing people together” in the country instead of the polarization under President Obama immediately before he complained how “horribly” Democrat senators behaved during Kavanaugh’s hearings. Questioned about the “unity” of this action, DDT said he bashed Democrats because they “don’t wanna be healed.” He also dodged questions about why he refuses to accept that Russia meddled in the election and why he has never said anything negative about Putin. DDT did acknowledge that Putin might be involved in assassinations, but that wasn’t criticism about him because assassinations in another country don’t trouble DDT.

DDT and the White House lied about Democrats leaking information about the name of the person who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. When the media obtained the information, only Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the FBI, and the White House had a copy of the letter. DDT’s theory was that Kavanaugh’s “poor treatment” would help Republicans in the midterm election.

Kavanaugh’s penchant for lying parallels that of DDT. The only difference between the lies by these two men is that Kavanaugh incessantly lied under oath. Here’s a sample, much of it from his last angry testimony when he treated Democrats with great rudeness and showed that he lacks the demeanor to be any judge, let alone a life-time term for the U.S. Supreme Court:

  • Kavanaugh’s grandfather was a Yale graduate, negating his claim that he had no family connections with the school and got in by hard work.
  •  Kavanaugh was not of legal age to drink in high school; he lied about when the law for the drinking age was changed to 18. He also wasn’t of legal drinking age during at Yale during his first couple of years.
  • Witnesses did not “refute Ford’s testimony, a common law from both Kavanaugh and other Republicans: his friends said that they didn’t “remember.”
  • Kavanaugh’s claim that he did not drink to excess was refuted by a large number of classmates who saw him belligerent and stumbling drunk.
  • ”Boofed” refers to anal sex, not flatulence.
  • ”Devil’s Triangle” is a sexual act among two men and one woman, not a “drinking game.” (By now it also describes a disaster!)
  • Kavanaugh’s social group associated with Ford, as indicated by multiple members of his class at Georgetown Prep.
  • Kavanaugh lied about his ignorance of a sexual assault claim against him before a NYT story was released; text messages show that he and his team knew it earlier.
  • Kavanaugh said that he didn’t know if he was “Bart,” but he wrote a letter that he signed Bart.
  • Kavanaugh did not rule in favor of environmental controls “many times,” as he claimed: almost 90 percent of his rulings opposed any attempt to control climate change, and DDT praised him for overruling federal regulators “75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues.”
  • Kavanaugh lied about violating secrecy laws governing grand juries during Bill Clinton’s Ken Starr investigation when he claimed that a Chris Ruddy, peddler of conspiracy theories, gave him information “off the record,” something that doesn’t apply to grand jury secrecy, and then lied to the Senate under oath about having committed this crime.
  • In 2004, Kavanaugh lied about his handling of the controversial nomination of federal Judge William Pryor as emails now show.
  • Kavanaugh lied about his involvement to steal Democratic staff emails connected to judicial confirmations.
  • In 2006, Kavanaugh lied about his involvement in the controversial nomination of federal Judge Charles Pickering and his role in nominating William Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel involved in creating the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

All the above were lies that Kavanaugh told under oath; he frequently perjured himself. He also lied when he assured Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that  Roe v. Wade is “settled law”: within the last year he tried to prevent an immigrant girl from getting an abortion by imprisoning her in an ICE facility.

Juries are always directed to follow this instruction:

“If a witness is shown knowingly to have testified falsely about any material matter, you have a right to distrust such witness’ other testimony and you may reject all the testimony of that witness.”

Thus neither DDT nor Kavanaugh can be believed in anything that they say, and they control two of the three branches of government.

October 1, 2018

Lindsey Graham Sets His Sights On Becoming First Lady

[A blog post from two women who have been friends for seven decades.]

A blogger wrote in 2017: “There is a certain wisdom that comes with age and Helen Philpot and Margaret Schmechtman show that they still got it. Helen and Margaret have been friends for more than 60 years and aren’t afraid to tell you their views on anything.” References go back ten years in such sources as Forbes and Atlantic.

[From Helen]: Margaret, did you know that women currently make up more than half the population in the US, but we are represented by a Congress made up of 80 percent men? Oh, and honey, it gets worse. Among other countries we are ranked 104th in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Five places behind Saudi Arabia! Hell, we’re almost 40 spots behind Iraq… Yes. You heard me: BEHIND IRAQ.

How long before men realize that women are their equals? After last week, we can probably make the argument that we are more than equal. Everyone of those GOP Senators expected an overly emotional, erratic and maybe even hysterical witness… and let me tell you Brett Kavanaugh did not disappoint. If I were Brett, I’d be worried that The Donald might now try to grab his pussy. Christine Ford managed to stay calm and respectful for 4 hours.   Brett couldn’t last 2 minutes before he came undone.  And speaking of undone, Lindsey Graham deserves an award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Donald Trump’s new girlfriend.  Move over Stormy Daniels. Hurricane Graham has arrived.

To be clear, Brett Kavanaugh is indeed innocent until proven guilty.  And it’s not search and destroy like Kavanaugh and Trump want us to believe.  It’s about making sure the truth comes out. Afterall, if there is nothing to find, then it doesn’t matter how hard you search.   When a woman finds the courage to speak about sexual assault, she deserves to be heard. And hearing her means taking the time to fully investigate in hopes of uncovering the truth.  And if that means men need to be a little scared, so be it. We women have been living scared all our lives. If you are worried for your sons, I have one piece of advice for you. Teach them to respect women.  Problem solved.

But I don’t even know why I am wasting my time writing this.  For the love of God, Republicans just elected a man who was videotaped bragging about assault. Are we really surprised they think a calendar showing exercise workouts during the 80’s is proof enough of innocence? If you are a Republican woman, I hope you are paying attention. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, how intelligent or how credible you are. You will be ignored, dismissed and even smeared if you stand between a Republican man and his path to power… regardless of what evidence you have or don’t have.  If it happens in their teens, it’s boys will be boys, and if it happens as adults, it’s just locker room talk.  Evidently Republicans are just fine electing men who sexually harass and assault women.

Honestly, how do Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins sleep at night? It’s been almost thirty years since the Anita Hill testimony, and we women continue to be ignored about sexual harassment, assault and rape at the hands of powerful men. There have been 52 total women in the United States Senate since its establishment in 1789.  And one of those women simply served for one day.  Until 2001, the most common way for a woman to become a US Senator was to be appointed following the death or resignation of a husband or father who previously held the seat.  Today there are 21 female Senators – 16 Democrats and 5 Republicans… well 6 depending on which column you place Lindsey Graham. Quite frankly, he lacks the humanity to be in either. Imagine how differently things could be if there were 50.

The late Governor Ann Richards liked to say, “Life isn’t one thing after another.  It’s the same damn thing over and over again.”  Well, I am tired of fighting this fight over and over again.  This November we have more women than ever running for elected office, and I for one plan to vote for them early and often. I mean it. Really.

Notes:

Note from Margaret – I think your humor missed the mark when you called Lindsey a girl.

Note from Helen – I called him Trump’s girlfriend which is very different.

Note from Margaret – Well.

Note from Helen – look up satire in your dictionary.

Note from Margaret – under H you might find hypocrisy.

Note from Helen – exactly my point. I’m sending pie.

Note from Margaret – second to the last paragraph, dear.

Note from Helen – I stand corrected and edited. I’m sending two pies. Howard’s favorite.

September 27, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh: Anita Hill Redux

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 25, 2018

The GOP Strategy on Sexual Assault

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

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

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

AG Jeff Sessions’ response:

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

State Rep. Lawrence Lockman (ME) weighs in:

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2016 presidential candidate:

Former Texas state Rep. Myra Crownover agrees:

[Florida law:

Another perspective about attacks:

Plan ahead for attacks:

And so many more.

September 24, 2018

‘Some Interpersonal Verbs, Conjugated by Gender’

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

Thanks to Alexandra Petri for the following:

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

Unit 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unit 2 (Advanced)

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

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

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

September 18, 2018

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17, 2018

Court Rulings Mostly Right Wrongs

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

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

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

Yet not all bodes well for Republicans in court decisions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 6, 2018

Kavanaugh: ‘I Can’t Answer That’

Conservatives claim that Brett Kavanaugh is a shoe-in for the next Supreme Court justice, but the first three days of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee may give doubt. Despite the one-two punch of Bob Woodward’s book Fear and the NYT anonymous op-ed piece from a senior administration official about the chaos in the White House, this week’s Kavanaugh hearings have stayed in the media.

Notable were the protests for the three days with 73 arrests on Wednesday. Kavanaugh gave his opening statement Tuesday and waited until questions until the next day. He answered the first question by flip-flopping on his former opinion that the unanimous ruling that President Richard Nixon should turn over tapes and documents requested by the Watergate special prosecutor was wrong. The new Kavanaugh criticized the old Kavanaugh’s criticism of the Supreme Court decision limiting presidential power.

Kavanaugh typically stalled to take time allotted to each senator on the committee or refused to answer questions although he has earlier provided opinions on some as a judge or a private lawyer. Some he “couldn’t” answer:

  • Should a president be able to use his authority to pressure executive or independent agencies to carry out directives for purely political purposes?
  • Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?
  • Is DDT correct in asserting that he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself?
  • Does he still believe his 1998 comment that “a president can fire at will a prosecutor criminally investigating him”?
  • Can a sitting president be indicted?
  • Would he uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions?
  • Can the president pardon someone in exchange for a bribe? (Kavanaugh said, “It depends.”)
  • Can the president pardon himself?
  • Does the president have the ability to pardon somebody in exchange for assurances that they won’t testify against him?
  • Would he uphold the statute preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions?
  • Would he consider recusing himself from cases involving potential liability for Trump?
  • Was Roe v. Wade correctly decided?
  • Will he commit to not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?
  • On affirmative action, do universities have a compelling interest in admitting a diverse student body?

In an attempt to be “cute,” Kavanaugh claimed that he was citing the “Ginsburg rule,” saying that she also refused to answer questions, including one about Roe v. Wade. He either lied or was mistaken: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was very clear in supporting Roe when she said during the confirmation hearings:

“[Abortion] is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

Kavanaugh told Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that Roe is “settled law,” but, as a sitting judge, he failed to follow this “settled law” when he tried to keep a young woman imprisoned so that she could not access an abortion after a rape. He lso dissented from “settled law” in a 2011 ruling upholding a ban on semiautomatic weapons, claiming that they couldn’t be banned because they are in “common use.”

A classic example of Kavanaugh’s trying to avoid an answer came from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). She asked him if he had talked about the Robert Mueller investigation with anyone from “the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer” and warned Kavanaugh, “Be sure about your answer, sir.” Obviously uncomfortable, Kavanaugh sputtered, “I’m not remembering.” An affirmative answer would have shown close ties to DDT, and a negative one could catch him up if evidence later provides he perjured himself. After a day, Harris asked him again about any meeting. Waffling for several minutes, he finally denied any meeting, perhaps feeling more secure that he was safe from any repercussions.

Kavanaugh failed to answer Harris’ question about Roe v. Wade, repeating his “hypothetical” excuse.” She followed up by asking, “Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?” After back-and-forth, Kavanaugh confessed that he didn’t know of any such laws.

In another exchange, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) addressed Kavanaugh’s position that Native Hawaiians aren’t indigenous people and therefore should not be treated like Native Americans on the North American continent. Kavanaugh had claimed that Hawaiians came from Polynesia; Hirono showed him a map proving that Hawaii had been part of Polynesia before the U.S. took over the islands. Kavanaugh’s views in Rice v. Cayetano case is often used to challenge the validity of programs designed to help Native Hawaiians and could be used against Alaska Natives and possibly endanger the sovereign rights of Native Americans on the lower 48 states. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to do away with Native American rights on reservations so that he can take the lands, and Kavanaugh has remarked that “we are just one race here. … American.” In his opposition to affirmative action, he has also railed against benefits to Native peoples as a “naked racial-spoils system.”

The questioning of Kavanaugh has made clear the problem he has with perjury and lying under oath. Contents of some previously “confidential” emails during his time with George W. Bush in the White House demonstrated that his answers are not entirely truthful. Bill Burck, longtime friend of Kavanaugh, is in charge of selecting the released documents instead of a nonpartisan archivist. A private lawyer, Burck has recently represented Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steven Bannon in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation. White House counsel McGahn is responsible for getting Kavanaugh confirmed.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) echoed Leahy’s concerns about Burck hiding Kavanaugh’s documents:

“By what authority is this man holding back hundreds of thousands of documents from the American people? Who is he? Who is paying him?”

Several Democratic senators have released emails from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House, supposedly for the committee’s eyes only, that shows how much Kavanaugh lied in his first two days of the committee hearing. These documents explain that he believes Roe v. Wade may not be “settled law,” he took an instrumental part in trying to get Charles Pickering confirmed as judge to an appeals court, he saw materials on warrantless surveillance and supported it, he called affirmative action “naked racial set-aside,” and he “didn’t care” what lower courts thought about a rule that corporate and union funds used to attack or support specific candidates must be disclosed to the FEC if the Supreme Court looks at the issue. The new emails also show that Kavanaugh lied under oath in 2006 when he told Leahy that he heard nothing about the NSA illegal warrantless wiretapping until he read about it in the New York Times instead of writing about it to John Yoo in the DOJ on September 17, 2001. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also listed at least three specific examples when Kavanaugh participated in discussions about the Bush administration’s detainee and torture policy although Kavanaugh denied under oath that had been involved in that policy-making.

In advising a judicial nominee meeting with Democratic senators, Kavanaugh wrote:

“She should not talk about her views on specific policy or legal issues. She should say that she has a commitment to follow Supreme Court precedent, that she understands and appreciates the role of a circuit judge, that she will adhere to statutory text, that she has no ideological agenda.”

Republicans are so desperate to get a far-right Supreme Court justice that they don’t care how unethical that person might be. In 2002, Manuel Miranda, senior staffer for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, stole strategy emails and memos from Democratic senators, including Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for their opposition to Priscilla Owen, who was being shepherded through confirmation by Kavanaugh. Questioned in 2004 and 2006 for his own judicial nomination, Kavanaugh denied that he knew these documents, shared with GOP senators, had been stolen. Asked about these denials, possibly perjury, Kavanaugh continued to deny any knowledge. Much to the fury of the committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Leahy (right) argued that he wanted the documents made public, ones that may related to possibly perjury regarding Kavanaugh about warrantless wiretapping and torture. Leahy tweeted:

“Between 2001 and 2003, Republican Senate staffers hacked into and stole 4,670 files on controversial Bush judicial nominees from 6 Democrats, including me. This scandal amounted to a digital Watergate, not unlike Russia’s hacking of the DNC.”

The video of Leahy’s questioning.

Leahy also pointed out Grassley’s lies about the quantity of document release. Nine-nine percent of Elena Kagan’s documents were released 12 days before the hearing, and only four percent of Kavanaugh’s documents were provided to Democrats, ten percent of them less than 15 hours before the hearing began. Much has been said about the quantity of Kavanaugh’s documents that senators received, but Leahy tweeted that Grassley provided tens of thousands of supplicates of inconsequential documents such as “event invitations … duplicated MORE THAN 44,000 TIMES.”

“Brett Kavanaugh is the only [nominee] out there that we know who says a president shouldn’t even be questioned, let alone indicted or prosecuted,” Rachel Maddow said. “… [T]his particular nominee was chosen by a president who is, himself, the subject of serious criminal investigation right now, while Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings are underway.”

August 30, 2018

Lawsuits Proliferate As Progressives Win

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
Tags: , , ,

Lawsuits about the orders of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue to pile up, and decisions continue to go against him and his conservative views.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pending suits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DDT’s swinging door spins.

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