Nel's New Day

May 26, 2019

Christian ‘Sanctity of Life’ Ends at Birth

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Since 2011, state Republican legislatures passed hundreds of abortion restrictions; 42 states have filed more than 250 bills to restrict abortion this year. At least one-third of them successfully passed 20-week abortion bans, using the unscientific notion that a fetus feels pain by that time. At least six states have passed the unscientific “fetal heartbeat ban,” blocking abortions by five weeks—even before women might realize they are pregnant. In some states such as Ohio, these laws give no exceptions for rape or incest. Texas is considering a bill that defines all abortions as murder, punishable by death.

Most of the laws until this year made abortions extremely difficult by greatly reducing the number of clinics, adding burdensome obligations such as waiting periods and unnecessary medical procedures such as ultrasounds, and forced counseling. The federal government transferred funds to “crisis pregnancy centers” which opposed a woman’s right to have an abortion. This year, however, 25 white men–senators–in Alabama banned abortion in almost all cases with no exceptions for rape or incest with a 99-year prison sentence for doctors to perform the procedures. Incest has a minimum sentence of 366 days, and rape has a maximum sentence of 20 years. This recent torrent of abortion restrictions is the worst since Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until the fetus reaches viability, usually around 24 weeks of pregnancy. An overview of past and planned bills.

 

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), largely responsible for anti-abortion Brett Kavanaugh having a lifetime term on the Supreme Court, is confused about all the draconian anti-abortion laws since Kavanaugh was confirmed. “I’m not sure exactly why we’re seeing this happen,” she said in a television interview. Collins voted to put four anti-Roe v. Wade white men on the Supreme Court, bringing the total of conservative justices to a majority of five. She said that a Supreme Court nominee “who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me”—and then voted for those nominees. Collins and her GOP colleagues put men on the Supreme Court whose goal matches the religious right to remove women’s rights and criminalize abortion even if a woman is carrying a dead fetus, even if a 10-year-old has been raped, even if forced pregnancies make slaves out of women.

Anti-choice “Christians” have decided abortions are always wrong, but Christians have 70 percent of the abortions. One-third of them are evangelical, and over one-third weekly attend church. Over half who do, kept their abortions secret from the church community.

Some women oppose abortions. Kim LaSata, Michigan GOP senator, wants abortion to be “hard” and “painful” to punish a woman. Former GOP chair of Texas’ House Committee on Public Health Jodi Laubenberg said, “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.” But men—who have no possibility of getting pregnant—are leading the charge:

  • Lawrence Lockman, a Maine Republicans, equated rape and abortion when he asked, “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?”
  • Darryl Glenn, a Colorado conservative, called pregnancy from rape “a gift from God.” People with this position evidently believe that God endorses rape as a “gift.”
  • Richard Mourdock, Indiana Republican, says that God intended pregnancy to occur when a woman is raped.
  • Rick Santorum, former GOP presidential candidate, is anti-choice so that the woman won’t “ruin her life.”
  • Todd Akin, former GOP House member from Missouri, claimed that pregnancy from rape “is really rare” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
  • José Oliva, House Speaker in Florida’s legislature, referred to pregnant women as “host bodies” five times during a television interview. According to the legislator, the “host body” has no rights.
  • Mike Hill, GOP Florida state representative, claims he gets his orders directly from God to remove any or all exceptions for “rape, incest, domestic violence, human trafficking or if the woman’s life is in danger” from his anti-choice bill. He added that he had the right to controls women’s bodies because “a hundred percent of all pregnancies are caused by a man” and there’s a 50-percent chance that that child is “going to be a man.” [He failed to point out that all women’s pregnancies from rape are caused by men.]
  • John Becker, GOP Ohio state representative, wants to force a women with a ectopic pregnancy “to  reimplant the fertilized ovum into the pregnant woman’s uterus.”
  • Clyde Chambliss, one of Alabama’s chief GOP senate sponsors of the newest anti-abortion law, justified his bill by saying that women can still get legal abortions before they know they are pregnant. No, he wasn’t joking.

Televangelist Pat Robertson said Alabama went too far with the new law but only because it would lose in the Supreme Court. His words gave Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) the courage to take the same position.

Brian Kemp, who became Georgia’s governor after he controlled the election, may be getting heartburn from the state’s new “heartbeat” bill. Television production companies have started to pull out of the state. Kemp’s bill prosecutes women who get abortions—or perhaps even miscarry. Maybe he’ll be lucky like Mississippi and Kentucky: judges have already overturned their heartbeat bills.

Polls oppose what these states are legislating. Almost a year ago, 64 percent stated they wanted to keep Roe v. Wade, according to the conservative Gallup survey, and two-thirds of people either wanted the Supreme Court to make getting an abortion easier (21 percent) or leave it the same (45 percent) in an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Legislators salivating for a Supreme Court abortion case may be disappointed: it’s such a hot-button issue that even conservatives fear a serious public backlash if they overturned a constitutional right to get an abortion. Yet Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold Texas’ draconian abortion restrictions in 2016.

Nevada is headed in the opposite direction from the red states: lawmakers removed some restrictions on abortions such as requiring doctors to tell pregnant patients about the “emotional implications” of an abortion and removing criminal penalties for inducing abortion without a doctor. The state has the first women-majority legislature. New York legalized abortions after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or there is a risk to the pregnant patient’s health.

Forced birthers who want pregnant women to be slaves care nothing about the high maternal mortality in the United States, especially with the lack of good prenatal care. Georgia’s maternal mortality rate is the second highest in the nation, Missouri is sixth, and Mississippi is 19th. Other states with draconian anti-abortion laws also rate high in maternal mortality. Infant mortality is equally high in these same states: Mississippi rates the highest in the nation. Fifty-five countries have a lower infant mortality rate than the United States.

As infants die at a higher rate than in other industrialized countries, the birthrate in the U.S. is shrinking because the nation doesn’t support pregnant women. They lack adequate health insurance, suffer exorbitant medical bills, and have no access to paid parental leave, child care, and job protection. Because of artificially low wages, tens of millions of young people endure financial problems with little hope for the future. To increase the birthrate, U.S. laws force pregnancy, often in poverty, often guaranteeing illness and death. In Sweden, that has one of the highest birth rates in Europe, parents receive 480 days of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child with the government-funded subsidy of 80 percent of the parent’s pay for the first 390 days and a reduced sum for the last 90 days. Employers pay a tax on salaries to pay for the leave.

Anti-choice “Christians” cry about the sanctity of life, but they care nothing about the death of five migrant children in custody—the first deaths in a decade—under DDT’s administration. The EPA’s new false guidelines for pollution will kill people as will the GOP disregard for water, food, and employment safety. The anti-choice people care nothing about hungry children who live in poverty, the death penalty, police shooting down unarmed people, the U.S. killing civilians in the Middle East—the lack of “sanctity for life” after birth goes on and on. Alabama has the highest level of poverty in the developed world, including a 2017 outbreak of hookworm—a disease usually found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa. Yet, the only human creatures deserving of protection to anti-choice people are in the womb; once out, people are on their own.

Republicans are afraid of how the new anti-choice laws will affect their re-election possibilities. Asked about the Alabama ban, recently appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) claimed, “That’s a state issue. I’m focused on my work here.” Part of her work is federal law and voting on federal judges who rule on abortion law. Conservatives wonder if Democrats will turn out to vote in the 2020 election as a reaction to anti-abortion laws.

Anti-choice Christians might want to take note that their bible tells them that a person is not a living being until after taking the first breath.

May 5, 2019

DDT: More Week 119 – Make America Worse Unless Courts Help

Even in the “Kentuky Derby [sic],” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks that rules don’t matter. The first declared victor, Maximum Security, was subsequently disqualified because the horse tripped another horse. The runner-up, Country House, was then declared the winner. DDT tweeted that sticking to the rules is unfair “political correctness.” Those who held out hope that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wouldn’t be as bad as feared can follow these ways that he’s destroying the country.

April was the ninth-year anniversary of the biggest ocean oil spill in the U.S. when the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and cost $61.6 billion. DDT’s oil lobbyist/Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt plans to erase offshore drilling regulations designed to stop another Deepwater Horizon. The changes will annually save $98 million for the heavily subsidized oil and gas industry because they no longer will need to test blowout preventers for disasters. The word “safe” was also removed from standards in maintaining the level of down-hold pressure in wells to avoid accidents.

The EPA won’t update federal standards about toxic waste from oil and gas wells, including fracking waste. Companies allow the waste into drinking water, spread it on roads as a de-icer, use it to irrigate crops, and spray it into the air to evaporate. The same product from other industries is designated as hazardous waste and subject to highly regulated tracking and disposal rules. At least 55 chemicals released into the air and water are carcinogenic as well as being linked to asthma, low birth weights, and other health problems.

DDT’s new “healthcare” rule allows hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to deny patients basic medical care because of personal beliefs. He bragged at the National Day of Prayer event how his new rule can allow anyone to refuse healthcare to anyone else for any reason. Those suffering from his decision include LGBTQ people, women seeking contraception, unmarried couples, and all children of couples who are considered unacceptable by healthcare workers. The rule means that taxpayers are required to pay for institutions and individuals who don’t have to provide any services to them.

Two days ago, DDT said that he was fine with Robert Mueller testifying at congressional hearings if his fixer AG Bill Barr agreed. Barr agreed, and Mueller is tentatively scheduled to appear before a House hearing on May 15. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the Senate is not interested. Now DDT says that Mueller should not testify. The question might be whether DDT can block Mueller’s testimony if Mueller no longer works for the government.

DDT brags about his economy, but his threat to more than double tariffs to 25 percent may drive the stock market down. Oil prices also dropped 2.83 percent in today’s Asian trading. Trade negotiations with China were scheduled to return on Wednesday, but DDT says that the process is moving “too slowly.” Threats of increased tariffs may cause China to cancel trade talks, and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He may cancel his trip to the U.S.

DDT, members of his family, and his businesses are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to keep them from complying with congressional subpoenas. Deutsche Bank is already turning over DDT’s financial documents to New York’s state AG’s office. Among Deutsche documents are DDT’s tax returns.

Without congressional approval, the State Department allowed at least seven foreign governments to rent luxury condominiums in New York’s Trump World Tower in 2017, a potential violation of the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause. The monthly rent of $8,500 was over 2.5 times the median rent in the surrounding neighborhood. A federal judge turned down DDT’s request to dismiss a lawsuit accusing him of violating the constitution’s Emoluments Clause from over 200 congressional members. Also, another recent revelation is that the White House paid Mar-a-Lago $1,000 for DDT staffers’ alcoholic drinks—in addition to many more expenses.

In her acceptance for the conservative Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Award, Secretary of State Betsy DeVos announced she would continue her fight for “freedom from government.” Hamilton fought for a strong centralized government control. The Institute might want to reconsider its award’s name.

On the campaign trail, DDT declared himself the “law and order” candidate. In Watertown (NY) a judge gave a man who raped a 14-year-old girl no prison time and ten years probation because he raped only one girl. A Georgia man who kept a teenage girl in a dog cage for over a year and raped her got off with the eight months he spent in a detention center before he was sentenced and ten years probation. Initially the sex between the man and the girl, 15 when she met him on a chat room for people with eating disorders; she was persuaded to live with the man when she turned 16, age of consent in Georgia.

DDT sometimes fails in his anti-immigrant attacks: 

Even non-citizens have the constitutional right to complain about the U.S. government, according to a panel of judges from the 2nd Circuit Court. ICE decided to deport Ravi Ragbir because he criticized their agency.

A federal judge gave DHS six months to identify thousands of children they kidnapped from families at the southern border instead of the two years the government wanted. The deadline is October 25. Emails show that the government cannot match children with their parents because it has no data about children and parents.

A unanimous federal appeals panel upheld California’s misnamed “sanctuary state” law, ruling that the law doesn’t stop enforcement of federal immigration laws or conflict with federal law. California state law requires employers to alert employees before ICE inspections and allows the state AG to inspect immigration facilities.

A federal judge ruled that ICE cannot use an immigration interview as a trap for deportation and ordered a Chinese man to be returned to the U.S. before the flight arrived in China. Wanrong Lin, 31, has lived in the U.S. for 17 years; his wife and three children are U.S. citizens. They own and operate a restaurant in Maryland.

ACLU is suing DDT for the new policy denying bond hearings to asylum seekers proving they face fear in their countries of origin. The new policy deports any arrivals through expedited removal proceedings or indefinitely detail them for years. The suit claims that the new policy denies up to 400,000 people Fifth Amendment due process rights.

Taxpayers are shelling out at least $40 million for two tent cities along the Texas border. Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan calls them “soft-sided facilities.” Visitors to existing “facilities” report that people don’t get showers and live in dirty clothing.

Although cannabis is legal in many states and jurisdictions, green card holders can be banned from citizenship if they are suspected of its use, even for medical purposes.

Last year, DHS used a private intelligence firm, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, to spy on and track 600 Families Belong Together protests in the U.S., Mexico, and the Netherlands. The data were shared with both DHS and “state-level law enforcement agencies.” The coalition organized over 750 events on June 30, 2018 with over 400,000 participants in all 50 states as well as European and Americas’ countries.

Other lawsuits oppose DDT’s efforts to destroy the United States:

Last month, a judge ruled that Michigan had to redraw its gerrymandered districts; this week a unanimous panel of judges ruled that Ohio’s districts were unconstitutional. That makes federal courts in five states striking down gerrymandered maps while the Supreme Court dithers about the issue. Like Michigan, Ohio must redraw its districts before the 2020 election.

A U.S. district judge has delivered an injunction against the Texas law barring the state from business with companies involved in the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Bahai Amawi had lost her job as speech pathologist with a local school district because her contractor participated in the boycott. Similar anti-free speech laws have been passed in two dozen other states. Federal judges have also struck down laws in Arizona and Kansas.

Gabby Giffords’ gun-safety group is suing the Federal Election Commission for refusing to act on complaints about the NRA’s illegal coordination of political spending with DDT and other GOP candidates. The lawsuit contends that the NRA hid its illegal expenditure of $35 million for Republicans in three election cycles. Other groups have supplemented a July 2017 complaint against DDT’s 2016 presidential campaign committee for soliciting contributions from foreign nationals after the Mueller report supported their claims. The Mueller report stated that criminally indicting Donald Trump Jr. must meet a high bar, but the FEC has no such bar to level civil penalties against him. The Brennan Center has a new report on ways that the FEC employs a partisan gridlock to stonewall responses to complaints about candidates, parties, and super PACS.

The latest fashion in GOP state legislatures is the anti-abortion “heartbeat” approach, making abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat illegal. Laws would also be unconstitutional because they violate Roe v. Wade which permits abortions up to the viability of a fetus at 24 weeks. The law loses its support when people learn that these laws outlaw abortion before women discover they are pregnant. Twelve percent of those polled changed their minds when they discovered the truth, resulting in a majority of people—56 percent—opposing these laws. Laws use the term “heartbeat” to sound sympathetic although a sound at six weeks doesn’t match how people understand a “heartbeat.” About two-thirds of the public want to retain Roe v. Wade.

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

November 26, 2018

Conservative Politicians Continue Far-right Activities

Last week, many people vacationed—including Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) vacationed for Thanksgiving, but politicians kept busy.

Sent to the Pacific Rim APEC trade summit last weekend, VP Mike Pence worsened global affairs of 21 nations representing 60 percent of the world’s economy with his refusal to compromise with China. Instead, China continued bonding with North Korea. The conflict was so bad that the group couldn’t even agree on a routine joint statement for the first time in 30 years. DDT frequently asks people if Pence is loyal. The answers have varied from Pence as a committed warrior to ending his usefulness because DDT needs female voters. One of DDT’s concerns might be Pence’s promise of consequences for the Saudis’ killing U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite DDT’s attempt to cover for the Saudis.

Two days before Thanksgiving, John Kelly, DDT’s chief of staff, signed a “Cabinet order,” a memo allowing U.S. troops, 5,900 active duty members and 2,100 National Guard members, on the Mexico border to use lethal force. DDT had already left town for Mar-a-Lago. This past weekend, ICE agents fired tear gas, a deadly chemical, at mostly Honduran asylum seekers near the Tijuana port of entry.

Hillary Clinton was pilloried for using a secure private server for her emails, but the GOP refused to criticize Ivanka Trump for using her personal email account that she shared with her husband, Jared Kushner, to send hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials, and her assistants, frequently in violation of federal records rules. When she first joined the White House, she claimed all access and perks of the White House with none of the legal responsibilities or constraints. Maybe investigations by the FBI and Congress? Or cries of “Lock her up” and “Crooked Ivanka”?

Lame duck House Republicans subpoenaed former FBI director James Comey and former DOJ AG Loretta Lynch to appear in private hearings this week. Comey said he is willing to appear in an open hearing but not a closed one:

“While the authority for Congressional subpoenas is broad, it does not cover the right to misuse closed hearings as a political stunt to promote political as opposed to legislative agendas.”

DDT’s appointment of lap dog Matthew Whitaker as acting DOJ AG may fail to give him protection. According to an argument in court from the Robert Mueller investigation team:

“The validity of the Special Counsel’s appointment [in May 2017] cannot be retroactively affected by a change in the official who is serving as the Acting Attorney General.”

Two rulings, one by a DDT-appointed judge, have already upheld the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment. Three Senate Democrats are also suing to have Whitaker removed on constitutional and legal grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a case about whether Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, an odd move because the case is already being heard in a New York court with closing arguments next week. The Constitution requires an accurate count of the population every ten years, something that will be lost if the estimated 24+ million people avoid the census because of fear. The census is used not only for congressional districting but allocation of federal funds, disaster and epidemic preparedness, and other government support. Ross has skipped the lengthy approval process about new survey questions and lied when he said that the DOJ had requested the addition of a citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Department of Commerce has only six months to submit the information to printers.

More people may not participate in the census after DDT’s proposal that census information be shared with law enforcement, an illegal action under the Census Act of 1879. In 1954, Congress passed a law stating that the Commerce Department cannot share its census data with any other government agency or court with up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for violation. Only Congress can change this law. When Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) asked acting assistant attorney general John Gore about data being disclosed “for law enforcement or national security purposes,” DOJ attorney Ben Aguinaga answered, “I don’t think we want to say too much there in case the issues . . . or related issues come up later for renewed debate.” In other words, maybe.

DDT may not get the trade agreement similar to and replacing NAFTA that he proudly announced weeks ago. Republican lawmakers are furious about the nondiscrimination protections of sexual orientation and gender identity included by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Several GOP members of Congress object to the new trade agreement because of this one provision, but it must be passed by the end of the year to avoid the Democratic majority in the House on the first of January. Congress has just 12 days to not only pass the agreement but also agree on the farm bill and keep the government from shutting down on December 7 with DDT threatening to allow this to happen if he doesn’t get his wall.

Farmers hurt by DDT’s tariffs are promised $12 billion say they don’t want to be on the dole, but they’re not even getting the promised welfare. Only $838 million of authorized $6 billion has been paid out because farmers cannot apply until harvests are completed for the season, harvests delayed by bad weather. Soybean sales shrank by 94 percent from last year, and the subsidy covers less than half the farmers’ losses. China pork tariffs that responded to DDT’s steel and aluminum tariffs cost farmers $2 billion. Partners with farmers also get government money; Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) might get $125,000, the subsidy cap. Farmers may permanently lose their foreign countries for crops, and DDT’s tariffs may force the U.S. to keep borrowing money from China to pay for farmers.

For the second year in a row, DDT is skipping the Kennedy Center Honors, again because he doesn’t feel comfortable.

While people in the U.S. complain about Russia interfering with elections, DDT campaign worker and sycophant Steve Bannon played a role in the UK passing Brexit, supporting the nation’s separation from the European Union. Emails dating back to October 2015 reveal that Bannon, former VP of Cambridge Analytic, participated in the campaign to persuade UK voters in supporting the separation from EU. Like the U.S. the UK has laws to stop foreign companies from manipulating UK affairs.

Mississippi votes for a U.S. senator in a runoff tomorrow; the GOP candidate, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, announced last Tuesday that it was on November 22, the day of her announcement, but that was Thanksgiving. After her lauding public hangings, a number of large companies—including Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart—asked her to return their donations. DDT, who failed to attending lacked the time to go to Arlington National Cemetery close to the White House or visit military members on Veterans Day, extended his Thanksgiving vacation to give two campaign rallies in Mississippi today for the GOP Senate candidate.

Since the midterm elections when the Senate election to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned to become AG before he was fired, several revelations have caused concern for Republicans about Hyde-Smith’s success. After she talked favorably about public hangings (aka lynchings), she suggested that black students should not be able to vote. Photos of her posing with Confederate artifacts at the “Shrine of [treasonous] Jefferson Davis” and the caption “Mississippi history at its best!” were accompanied by information that she promoted a measure praising a Confederate soldier’s effort to “defend his homeland” and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War. She not only attended a private high school to avoid integrated schools but also enrolled her daughter in a “segregation academy.” The daughter graduated in 2017.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), considering a run for president, gave an interview to the New York Times about the reading habits of himself and his family. An analysis of his 33 book recommendations show all were written by white authors. Sasse’s three children, ages 17, 15, and 8, are homeschooled, probably reading no books of people by color.

The Ohio state House argued that “Motherhood is necessary” to ban abortions at six weeks, before a pregnancy appears on an ultrasound which is not medically recommended. The law is unconstitutional unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Even if the bill passes the state Senate, it cannot become law without Gov. John Kasich’s signature because Gov.-elect Mike DeVine cannot sign a bill passed by the legislature before he takes office.

On the more positive side, Maine will have Medicaid expansion after the departure of rabidly right-wing Gov. Paul LePage. He had refused to follow orders from the state Supreme Court to obey a vote by the people.

A U.S. district court judge ordered ICE to release over 100 Iraqis from detention centers and jails in Michigan after they had been there for more than a year. They are to be released within 30 days under “orders of supervision” and allowed to return to their homes. The majority of the detainees had been living in the U.S. for decades. Although they committed criminal offenses, they had served their time and been living “peaceably in their respective communities” since then, according to the ruling. The opinion also cites ICE’s refusal to provide documents to detainees’ attorneys, and the judge wrote that he will be issuing sanctions against ICE. Detainees had not been permitted in-person visits from family and friends, and the majority would be persecuted and even murdered if they were forced to return to Iraq because they are Christians.

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.”

July 9, 2018

New SCOTUS Justice Nominee, Continuing Lawsuits

The suspense is over, and the work begins. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has nominated Brett Kavanaugh, anti-abortion activist, as his choice for a Supreme Court Justice, perhaps because the sitting judge on the D.C. Circuit Court believes that a sitting president should not be indicted. I will write more about him later. In the meantime, U.S. courts keep chewing away at federal injustices:

The U.S. Supreme Court, soon to be reconfigured to the right, delivered a final statement for 2018 on gerrymandering when it kept the redrawn legislative districts by returning the case to a North Carolina court that tried to reduce racial gerrymandering. Democrats are the majority voting bloc in the state, but the GOP controls ten of the 13 seats in the House of Representatives and a veto-proof majority in the General Assembly. The Supreme Court could still hear the case again if an appeal from Republicans returns the issue to the higher court. Legislators are also trying to move the court to the right by increasing the number of judges. But they can’t finish this process by the fall election—I hope!

Today DDT lost another round in the separation of children and families when a judge refused long-term detention of migrant families except in cases when parents are detained on criminal charges. Judge Molly M. Gee said the administration’s attempt to change the 1997 Flores agreement requiring the release of children within 20 days was “a cynical attempt” to shift immigration policymaking to the courts in the wake of “over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate.” In another federal case, 54 migrants under the age of six, scattered from California to New York, will be secretly returned to their parents tomorrow, half the number who were removed from their parents. Tomorrow is the court’s deadline for all the youngest migrants to be returned to their parents. The court has mandated that the remainder of children over five years old, perhaps 2,900, must be reunited by July 27.

The DOJ dropped charges against the last 38 protesters of the 200 arrested at the inauguration of DDT. Prosecutors managed to get one guilty plea to a felony and another 20 to misdemeanors in 18 months after turning the lives of hundreds of people upside down.

A federal judge has ruled against a Tennessee law that suspends or revokes driver’s licenses of people too poor to pay court costs or traffic fines because the law violates constitutional due process and equal protection clauses. The ruling does not affect other states, but it sets a precedent for other similar rulings. Over four million drivers have lost their licenses for failure to pay these charges in only five states—Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

A judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that the lawsuit opposing the citizenship question in the 2020 census can go forward amid “strong” evidence DDT acted in bad faith. Also granted was the request for discovery that will bring to light the background for this decision. Judge Barbara Underwood wrote:

“By demanding the citizenship status of each resident, the Trump administration is breaking with decades of policy and potentially causing a major undercount that would threaten billions in federal funds and New York’s fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College.”

ICE cannot systematically detain migrants fleeing persecution from their home countries, according to a judge in the Federal District Court of D.C. who pointed out that the U.S. government requires these applicants to be freed when appropriate. Under DDT, parole rates have gone from over 90 percent to “nearly zero.” Judge James Boasberg has ordered individualized reviews for all asylum seekers before denying parole in a case affecting over 1,000 asylum seekers denied parole in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark, and Philadelphia. ICE has held one of the plaintiffs for over 18 months after he fled Haiti and passed his credible fear interview and then a judge granted him asylum in April 2017.

A ballot initiative already passing review for the fall ballot by the Michigan Court of Appeals will go to the state’s Supreme Court. A Republican and business-backed group are challenging the initiative to create an independent commission to draw legislative districts with advice of consultants and public hearings. Gerrymandering in Michigan, as in a majority of other states, has caused Republicans to take over state legislatures despite a majority of Democrat voters in some states.

A federal judge blocked Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements because they did not consider whether these would violate the provision of health care to the most vulnerable people. The disagreement comes from whether the requirement furthers the program’s goals. Up to 95,000 people could lose Medicaid coverage within five years with these requirements. Kentucky was the first state to create these work requirements, and three other states—Indiana, Arkansas, and New Hampshire—had received federal approval. Seven other states have submitted proposals.

Gov. Matt Bevin retaliated against people on Medicaid by cutting Medicaid dental and vision benefits to almost 500,000 people, some of them children. In Kentucky, Medicaid covers about 1.4 million people, almost half of them children. Federal funding provides for 80 percent of the $11 billion dollars for the program. Bevins’ order may violate the judge’s ruling about Medicaid.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been named as a possible witness in the federal corruption trial of an Alabama coal executive and two politically connected attorneys in Alabama. The case is about an alleged conspiracy to bribe a state legislator to limit the EPA’s cleaning up a Superfund site. The legislator, Oliver Robinson, has already pled guilty to taking bribes from Drummond Coal that were facilitated by the two attorneys at a major Birmingham law firm. Other witnesses include several state legislators as well as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), recently returned from a PR trip to Russia, and Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL). As a senator, Sessions tried to intervene with the EPA to stop the cleanup at the Superfund site after conferring with the Drummond lawyers; the law firm and coal company were Sessions second- and third-largest contributors to his senate campaign, a great deal after Sessions intervened. The DOJ has been overseeing the case while Sessions is AG.

After a number of losses in court, including being sent to take remedial law classes, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will no longer represent himself in court during his appeal for contempt in court and a ruling of unconstitutional for requiring people to show proof of citizenship in voter registration. Kobach’s office will be lead counsel. Furious because he lost a straw vote to gubernatorial competitor Gov. Jeff Colyer, Kobach accused his opponent of voter fraud by paying 106 people to vote.

A federal judge issued an injunction against a 2015 Arkansas law that bans abortion pills. Earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to hear a case against the law. After Planned Parenthood presented new evidence, the judge indicated that it may prevail in the case. A federal judge also blocked Indiana’s new requirement that medical providers report patient information to the state after treating women for complications from abortions.

Last week, people celebrated the separation of the United States from the reign of George III. In another eight years, the U.S.—if it still exists—will celebrate the 250th anniversary of this document. Until then, consider the similarity between the actions of George III and DDT:

  • DDT ignores laws and court decisions he doesn’t like—anti-nepotism, Russia sanctions, emoluments clause, the Affordable Care Act—the list goes on.
  • DDT blocks laws in the Congress, such as ones about immigration, if he disapproves.
  • DDT wants to be a dictator like China’s Xi Jinping, while a majority of Republicans want to postpone the next presidential election.
  • DDT demonizes immigrants with extreme punishment. Consider the Declaration’s complaint about George III: “he has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither….”
  • DDT tries to prevent a legal investigation into ties between Russia and his campaign through attempts to weaken U.S. confidence in the FBI, the intelligence services, and the justice system as a whole.
  • DDT “has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”
  • DDT has ordered “Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures” by sending National Guard troops to the border with Mexico.
  • DDT is stopping “Trade with all parts of the world” and “imposing Taxes on us without our Consent” with tariffs and alienation of allies.
  • DDT “has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people” through expanding offshore drilling, risking wildlife and oceans, and destroying economies of states bordering oceans.
  • George III also suffered from a mental illness.

DDT has just nominated a Supreme Court justice while he is being investigated not only for his involvement in Russian election meddling but also for illegal payoffs to women with whom he had affairs, defamation, and his illegal activities with his personal charitable foundation. He might also be charged, both civilly and criminally, with perjury by signing at least four annual federal tax returns swearing that the organization wasn’t used for political and/or business purposes although evidence shows that he lied. Yet DDT thinks he’s above the law, and his new Supreme Court justice may agree with him.

June 26, 2018

Conservative Supremes Move U.S. to Christian-only Nation

After several mild—in fact, wishy-washy—decisions earlier this month, the Supreme Court came out today with two rulings that eradicate any hope for freedom of religion. Instead, the five conservative justices pushed its Christian message and support for an anti-freedom president.

In Trump v. Hawaii, the conservative majority ruled that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can ban people from majority-Muslim countries under the guise of “national security.” DDT has spent the past three years denouncing all religions except Christians and assuring people that he bill ban them from the United States. Four old white men and Clarence Thomas has given him that right to—quoting DDT—call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Accused of being anti-Muslim in court rulings, he said that he’ll just use territory instead of religion to accomplish his anti-Islam goals.

Chief Justice John Roberts admitted that after his inauguration, DDT “retweeted links to three anti-Muslim propaganda videos” and that he connected the content to his ban on travel.  To Roberts, however, DDT’s open anti-Muslim bias makes no difference because he doesn’t want “inhibit the flexibility to respond to changing world conditions.” Declaring that the ban was not from “animus,” Roberts wrote that authority was not undermined by “this President’s words,” ignoring that the intent to discriminate is not constitutional. After lower courts ruled against DDT’s two earlier iteration of a Muslim ban, the somewhat watered-down version doesn’t protect “national security,” but it does create a symbolic ban against Muslims.

In an ironic twist, Roberts refused to use DDT’s words to rule against a travel ban on Muslims, but he used the words of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to permit a baker to discriminate against a gay couple trying to purchase a wedding cake. These two decisions each set precedents on the opposite sides of an issue. Lawyers can use Hawaii to argue that prior words don’t matter while others can argue the opposite position with a recent ruling of Masterpiece Cakeshop.  

In her rebuttal to Hawaii, Justice Sonia Sotomayor quoted DDT’s hateful comments and said that today’s decision “repeats the tragic mistakes of the past” and “tells members of minority religions” in the United States that “they are outsiders.” The court, she said, “blindly accepts the government’s invitation to sanction an openly discriminatory policy” and is essentially “replacing one gravely wrong decision with another.” She also compared the Hawaii decision to that of the 1944 Korematsu v. United States when the Supreme upheld the detention of Japanese Americans during World War II with no justification.  

Roberts strenuously objected and wrote, “It is wholly inapt to liken that morally repugnant order to a facially neutral policy denying certain foreign nationals the privilege of admission.” While still supporting the Muslim ban, he repudiated Korematsu by saying that it has “no place in law under the Constitution.”

In one way, Korematsu differs from Hawaii because justices didn’t realize that the lawyers arguing for the case hid evidence and lied to the court. DDT’s incessant tweets, rally speeches, and other statements clearly showed his intent to discriminate although the DOJ Solicitor General Noel Francisco, arguing for the travel ban, did lie about DDT’s statements of animus. Francisco also lied that the travel ban had a “waiver” program to show that DDT’s ban was fair. No one in charge of immigration knows anything about any program because it is a sham.

Two presidents, Gerald Ford in 1976 and Jimmy Carter in 1980, took actions to clear the interned Japanese-Americans, and U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel vacated Fred Korematsu’s conviction for evading internment. She wrote:

“The judicial process is seriously impaired when the government’s law enforcement officers violate their ethical obligations to the court. [The original Supreme Court opinion in Korematsu] stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability.”

Roberts has added to his record of opposing civil rights, allowing unlimited donations to campaigns, and putting Christianity above all other beliefs in the diverse United States with this shameful decision. His court will go down in the history books for its infamy. Some day, a more rationale Supreme Court will hopefully repudiate Hawaii in the same way that Roberts tried to salvage his career by overturning Korematsu.  

In a second opinion today, this one for NIFLA v. Becerra, the same conservative majority ruled that Christian crisis pregnancy centers cannot be required to tell clients about state-offered reproductive services because it opposes the centers’ mission of not having abortions. The centers also do not have to tell clients whether the centers are licensed as medical facilities. The California law did not focus on crisis pregnancy centers: all medical facilities have the same requirements whether they are CPCs or not.

This ruling against a content-based regulation of speech comes from the same court that upholds state laws providing the text that doctors must read to women seeking abortions. Sometimes this mandated information contains lies that doctors are ordered to tell their patients in the privacy of medical counseling. Planned Parenthood v. Casey allows states to mandate that abortion providers tell patients about the age of the fetus, health risks, and the “availability of printed materials from the State” in an effort to discourage women from having abortions. Six states tell women that personhood begins at conception, and 13 states require women be told that fetuses feel pain.

Yet Thomas’ opinion stated that California’s law is unconstitutional because anti-choice advocates are required to “speak a particular message” while reiterating the ruling in Casey.

Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that almost all disclosure laws might be considered “content based” because they all require people “to speak a particular message.” In this case, the conservatives assume that “speech about abortion is special.” Laws about this simple medical procedure, connected to religious beliefs, should apply fairly to diverse points of view. Anthony Kennedy took the position that mandated lies in warning women about the procedure are no problem, but that demanding the truth from the religious centers is authoritarianism. The ruling in Becerra gives anti-choice people First Amendment rights while abortion providers lack the right to free speech.

Imagine if other businesses–maybe contractors or taxi services–would not need to tell clients if they are licensed. Although this suggestion may sound far-fetched, so is the current government.

As the conservative court moves the United States toward a forced following of Christianity and away from individual rights, conservatives are preening themselves on the new justice who DDT appointed. Religious fundamentalist VP Mike Pence Senate takes great pride in removing all reproductive rights from girls and women, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who used to criticize DDT’s hatred for Muslims, is now in full support of the travel ban. Neil Gorsuch (center) is on the court only because McConnell held up all hearings for an appointed Supreme Court Justice for almost a year, blocking President Obama’s nominee. Until Gorsuch, presidents appointed nominees, and the Senate vetted them. Sometimes they turned them down, but never before did a Senate leader refuse to allow even a committee hearing on a president’s nominee. [Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts]

McConnell has set a new pattern of absolute rule in the Senate. He can push through as many conservative judicial nominees as possible until he loses the majority. If Democrats pattern themselves after Republicans, Democrats can refuse to give any conservative nominees even a hearing. The nation objects to the constant gridlock that comes from the GOP determination to block Democrats at any cost. The schism in Republicans only adds to the problem. At this point, however, the United States may be better off with gridlock than the egregious legislation that the GOP promotes.

 

June 5, 2018

Supreme Court Winds Up Year, More Court Cases

Mondays in June mean decisions from the Supreme Court. This week the justices gave extremely narrow rulings on two major case, leaving both sides dissatisfied. The first, dealing with whether religious beliefs can be used to discriminate against others, concerned a Colorado baker who would not sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. The ruling came out on the side of the baker but left no decision for the legality of allowing religious beliefs or free speech rights as justification for refusing services to LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court decision, with only Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg dissenting, claimed that the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “religious hostility” which “cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner for the baker approved of the statement that “government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society,” a ruling that may also be used to assert that hostility from people’s faith likewise has no place in the United States. She refused to answer a question about future rulings if the baker again refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-gender couple. Using state anti-discrimination laws requiring public businesses to equally serve all potential customers, several courts have turned down self-identified artists such as florists, bakers, and photographers who claim violation of their rights if they have to give business to same-gender couples, a claim that this ruling doesn’t decide.

Author of the ruling, Anthony Kennedy, wrote that LGBTQ people “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.” He added that future cases “must be resolved … without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” According to the ruling, the U.S. has a “general rule” that religious and other objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny … equal access to goods and services.”

In dissension among justices, Gorsuch and Alito asserted that the Supreme Court cannot tell a baker “that a wedding cake is just like any other,” using sacramental bread as an analogy. Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer disagreed, stating that a wedding cake doesn’t change just because “a vendor like Phillips invests its sale to particular customers with ‘religious significance.’ ” Kagan referenced a 1968 decision requiring a barbecue restaurant owner to serve black customers despite his claim that his religion opposes racial equality.

The cake people failed to get a ruling that the Constitution protects discrimination, but it does give states the right to legislate against discrimination, including against LGBTQ people. The ruling against religious animus is an interesting comparison to the religious animus in DDT’s travel ban, another Supreme Court ruling to be released this month.

In a case about the DOJ imprisoning an undocumented migrant girl so that she could not get a legal abortion, the Supreme Court gave a mixed ruling. It declared the lower court’s ruling to be moot and therefore not binding because the girl had already had an abortion but declined to sanction the opposing lawyers to the DOJ for what the DOJ called deception because the procedure was rushed through before the DOJ could appeal to the Supreme Court. The high court has never before been petitioned to sanction lawyers. The decision in this case does not affect an ongoing class-action case about the rights of immigrant teens in government custody to obtain abortions. DOJ is declaring the case a win for them, but the narrow ruling was for only one girl who had already had an abortion.

The Supreme Court is also due to consider whether to review a Washington state Supreme Court decision that a florist could not legally decline to provide flowers to a same-gender wedding. Major decisions in June concern partisan gerrymandering and DDT’s travel ban.

The Supreme Court refused to address an Arkansas law that ends the use of medication abortions in the state and closes two of the state’s three abortion clinics because they perform only medical abortions. Doctors who provide medication abortions must have a contract with a specialist who has hospital admitting privileges, a burdensome, unnecessary mandate because complications are extremely during the use of two pills in the first nine weeks of pregnancy and can easily be dealt with in an emergency room or hospital. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court had earlier upheld the Arkansas law, but Planned Parenthood will appeal the case to lower courts. U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker temporarily blocked the law, saying that it was “a solution in search of a problem.” Two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a local hospital.

In a more positive ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that police need a warrant to search a person’s property, specifically vehicles parted on a driveway or carport. The 8-1 decision followed a 2013 ruling that police may not bring drug-sniffing dogs to the front porch of a home without a search warrant. Samuel Alito said that a search is reasonable because “the vehicle was parked in plain view in a driveway just a few feet from the street.”

Other rulings outside the Supreme Court:

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that Donald Trump must have a seven-hour deposition before January 31, 2019, as part of the defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, who accused Trump of groping her in 2016. July 13 is the deadline for both parties to issue demands for documents with September 13 the deadline for responses. The case goes to trial after June 7, 2019.

A Maine judge ordered Gov. Paul LePage to start voter-approved Medicaid expansion after he missed the April 3 deadline to file a plan with the federal HHS. After LePage vetoed the expansion in legislature five times, he argued that he couldn’t implement a law not funded by the legislation although the state has a $140 million surplus.

Felony charges have been dropped against ten people arrested protesting DDT’s inauguration because the government failed to turn over evidence it got from Project Veritas, known for James O’Keefe’s doctored videos. The judge barred the government from bringing back the charges in the future. A D.C. jury is deadlocked regarding three others involved in the protest. Forty-seven people of the original 200 charged are still facing court cases, but no defendant has been convicted.

And new cases:

Ambridge Event Center, which managed an event center owned by the Holy Rosary Church in Portland (OR), is suing the church for almost $2 million because its anti-LGBTQ bias hurt business. The negative press from the company’s inability to rent to a PFLAG chapter lost business from government and businesses that believe in equality. If Ambridge worked for the church, the law violation is employment discrimination; if Ambridge is a renter, the church violated the law with housing discrimination. Oregon’s exemption for religious groups applies only if “the use of facilities is closely connected with or related to the primary purposes of the church.” Ambridge has gone out of business.

Rustem Kazazi, a 64-year-old Cleveland resident, is suing U.S. Customs after customs agents at an airport took the family’s life savings–$58,000—that he was taking to Albania to help his family and buy a vacation home. The agency’s website says that there is no limit to the amount of money brought into or taken out of the U.S., but the agents refused to return Kazazi’s money although the family, all four citizens, was not charged with any crime. Agents also refused him a translator, strip-searched him, and gave him a receipt without the amount of money they took. A month after the money was taken, the agency wrote them, claiming that the money was “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” The letter also reported $770 less than Kazazi had been carrying. The federal government took over $2 billion in assets from people in 2017.

Phoenix is suing the government over the proposed census question on citizenship for fear of losing federal funds and marginalizing residents.

The American Federation of Government Employees, representing 700,000 workers, is suing DDT after he signed an executive order severely restricting the time employees may spend on union activity. The lawsuit claims his order violates the First Amendment and oversteps his constitutional authority. The order restricts “official time” for union leaders to represent workers during work time in grievances about unfair labor practices or disciplinary actions during work time, a guarantee provided by Congress 40 years ago.  The order still allows individuals to work on their grievances while on duty but without union assistance. Administration says that the change could save up to $100 million a year—equivalent to about two-thirds of DDT’s weekend junkets. Other orders instruct agencies to restrict unions in contract negotiations and fire employees more rapidly.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and ISU student Taylor Blair are suing Iowa’s secretary of state over the state’s voter ID law “apparently timed to disrupt the June 5 primary elections.” Facebook advertisements had stated that “Iowa voters will be asked to show a form of valid identification,” omitting the information that voters without ID could sign a form swearing to their identity and then cast a normal ballot. Another part of the lawsuit claims that the secretary of state’s website omitted some ID permitted under the law, such as an Iowa student identification plus proof of address.

Worried about getting DDT’s conservative judicial nominations approved after the midterms, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reduced the August recess from four weeks to one week. Another theory for the change is that Democrat senators, defending 26 Senate seats this year, will be hobbled by less time to campaign while their Republican opponents have a free field. The GOP has nine incumbents on the ballot, including Nevada’s Dean Heller who is struggling with re-election.

March 22, 2018

Could ‘NIFLA v. Becerra’ Change Free Speech, Abortion Law?

The past week has been again filled with chaos—firings of the national security council, resignation and appointments of the legal team for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), continued lawsuits against the federal government, additional information about DDT’s sexual misconduct as more women join Stormy Daniels, and concerns regarding the retention of special investigator Robert Mueller. No wonder that a case before the Supreme Court last Tuesday got little attention from the media. In normal times that case would have been front and center on television because it’s one of seven cases thus far this judicial year that addresses free speech—two of them major lawsuits.

Last December the religious legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the federal government argued before SCOTUS that a cake in Colorado is free speech because the baker is an “artist.” A ruling in his favor and opposing service for a gay couple would permit rampant discrimination across the United States, not only against LGBTQ people but also anyone else who offended the religious and moral sensibilities of everyone in all businesses—retail, health care, food services—everyone.

Last Tuesday’s case, NIFLA v. Becerra, the federal government joined ADF to oppose a California law that requires community clinics to post notices about their licensing (or lack thereof), the availability of a medical provider, and patients’ access to abortion and other family planning services in the state. The 2015 California Reproductive FACT Act mandates that licensed community clinics whose “primary purpose is providing family planning or pregnancy-related services” disclose to all patients that California offers “free or low-cost” contraception, prenatal care, and abortion. These clinics must provide a telephone number that patients can call for more information about state-funded services. Clinics focusing on pregnancy or family planning but are unlicensed must clearly provide a warning in the clinic and in advertising that they have “no medical provider.”

Many of California residents are unaware of expanded funding for prenatal and family planning services from the Affordable Care Act, and many clinics, especially the anti-abortion crisis pregnancy clinics (CPCs) pressure women to not have an abortion. Many CPCs hide religious affiliations and claim that they provide more services than available in the clinics. Owners and employees of the CPCs use “free speech” to object to the law by arguing that it makes them “complicit in facilitating an act they believe hurts women and destroys innocent lives.” They maintain that the FACT Act is “gerrymandered” to “commandeer” their expression, “manipulat[ing] the marketplace of ideas” to favor abortion in violation of the First Amendment.

The argument from Michael Farris, a member of ADF, is that not all doctors are required to post the information, only community clinics with pregnancy-related services. He wants to move the law to heightened judicial scrutiny, which raises the legal bar for California to keep the law. Justice Samuel Alito bought the argument that the “crazy exemptions” of the law creates “a very strange pattern.” California Solicitor General Joshua Klein explained that the law targets community clinics where millions of low-income Californians get health care and exempts private physicians because they usually don’t have poorer women patients.

Jeffrey Wall, the deputy U.S. solicitor general who joined Farris on behalf of the federal government, tried to persuade the justices that informing pregnant women about alternatives to abortion are necessary only when medical procedures are provided and that unlicensed clinics don’t provide medical procedures. Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that CPCs sometimes provide medical procedures such as ultrasounds and pregnancy tests and give pregnancy counseling, much like doctors’ medical advice in discussing abortion procedures.

The case also addresses whether clinic users should know which clinics are licensed and provide a full range of subsidized medical options. Sotomayor described Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center’s website:

“There is a woman on the homepage with a uniform that looks like a nurse’s uniform in front of an ultrasound machine. It shows an exam room. It talks about ‘abortion,’ ‘your options,’ and ‘our services,’ advertising ‘free ultrasounds.’ But in fact, the Fallbrook Pregnancy Resource Center is an unlicensed CPC. If a reasonable person could look at this website and think that you’re giving medical advice, would the unlicensed notice be wrong?”

Sotomayor compared NIFLA to Planned Parenthood v. Casey that allows states to pass “informed consent” laws forcing abortion providers to deliver a state-approved anti-abortion canned statement before the procedure even if the information is false. Both situations mandate information for women, one on alternatives to the clinics and the other about termination of pregnancies. Justice Stephen Breyer dubbed this issue “what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Denying California the right to require postings at all community clinics regarding availability of free and/or inexpensive family planning services could give free speech to only one side of the abortion argument.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court after a federal district court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court denied an injunction in favor of CPCs. Both lower courts maintained that California’s law was constitutional in the same way that Pennsylvania could require doctors to tell abortion patients about the “nature” of the procedure and the “probable gestation age” of the fetus.

Observers watching the negative comments from some justices believe that at least part of the FACT Act will be struck down; the question is how much and on what grounds. Mandatory disclaimers in multiple languages on advertising for unlicensed CPCs may be unconstitutional. Requiring clinics to tell patient about a lack of license seems legal. The middle ground is the crux: whether states can force CPCs to tell patients about services elsewhere.

A serious problem in this case comes from dangers in CPCs that promise medical assistance but have the sole purpose of forcing a woman to carry a fetus to full term. Over 2,700 CPCs throughout the nation lure pregnant women into their facilities and then terrify them with lies about their future if they have abortions.

States like Texas are using public funds from bona fide community clinics to unlicensed CPCs exempt from regulations or credentialing because they provide only non-medical services such as self-administered pregnancy tests or parenting classes. One-fourth of Texas’ 200 CPCs are funded by federal taxpayer money through the $38 million operating budget of “Alternatives to Abortion” for low-income women. With no government oversight, the “Texas Pregnancy Care Network” subcontracts with 51 CPCs with most money going to “counseling,” a term with no definition. Another $739,000 went to advertising. When asked if the CPCs were medically licensed, a state spokesperson said that they are not medical clinics.

People who go to CPCs don’t know they won’t get any medical care. Austin (TX) tried to pass an ordinance requiring that clinics state whether they have doctors. A federal judge struck down the ordinance with the argument that it violated CPCs’ due process. Texas law does require doctors to lie to women about medical risks of abortions, a procedure with less risks than pulling wisdom teeth or taking out tonsils.

In his 12 years as Chief Justice, John Roberts has greatly expanded the definition of free speech for corporations. To him and a majority of the justices in Citizens United, all money is free speech meaning unlimited anonymous corporate donations to political candidates, a ruling later expanded in McCutcheon v. FEC. These cases, and others such as Hobby Lobby allowing corporations to deny birth control to employees using faulty scientific information, shows that Roberts’ defense of the First Amendment protects only corporations. He uses the same argument to give corporations benefits in cases involving drug advertising and trademark regulations as well as removal of unions’ rights. A recent case argued whether state laws can permit mandatory fees for workers to pay for the support services that unions are legally to provide all employees.

The ruling in NIFLA, most likely in June, will either leave the California law in place or give pro-choice activists the grounds to argue against laws in other states that require doctors to give pregnant patients the false information that abortions cause breast cancer and infertility. The NIFLA lawyers argue that posting information “unconstitutionally compels [the clinics] to speak messages that they have not chosen, with which they do not agree, and that distract, and detract from, the messages they have chosen to speak.” A ruling in their favor might take the shackles off abortion providers and other doctors so they can deliver “the messages they have chosen to speak.” Breyer said that the court’s most important job is “to keep sauces the same.”

December 21, 2017

Disastrous Tax Bill Leads to GOP Fractures over Spending Bill

In their contempt for democracy, the Republicans, the epitome of “makers” exploiting the so-called “takers,” passed their social reform bill in the dead of night to benefit large businesses and wealthy people. The process, carried out in great haste with extreme chaos and negligence, allowed for neither hearings nor debate—not even the opportunity for congressional members to examine the 1,097 pages. If one considers democracy, the way that Republicans passed the bill may be even worse than the contents. If the tax bill were a good deal for most of the people in the U.S., Republicans wouldn’t have to lie about it. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) summarized the GOP position when he said, “It’s always fun when you win” about his defeat of the people who voted for him. “Fun” also means that he gained billions of dollars from the tax bill.

“Fun” for DDT also means destroying Puerto Rico. The tax bill requires the federal government to treat the territory in the same way that it treats foreign countries in bringing operations and jobs to the U.S. from overseas. Forty-seven percent of PR’s GDP comes from manufacturing, primarily pharmaceuticals and medical devices generating revenue from patented drugs and technologies. The 12.5 percent tax levied against profits in PR for “intangible assets” of U.S. companies abroad plus a minimum of ten percent tax on their profits abroad, as in foreign countries, means that businesses will pay more to operate in PR than on the U.S. mainland. It will cost U.S. citizens their jobs and destroy PR’s economy after DDT went to the island to complain about the cost of recovery from Hurricane Maria, something he did not do at any of the summer’s disasters on the mainland.

DDT may not have his “fun” of signing the bill until January 3 because he is afraid to let the 2010 “pay-as-you-go” law automatically cut Medicare and other programs. These would take effect in 2018 if he signed it in 2017. To avoid bad press, he is hoping that Congress will waive these cuts by 2019. Spending caps went into effect under a GOP-created law in 2011 and have received two two-year waivers–also from the GOP. The most recent one expired on October 1, 2017, and Republicans didn’t get around to lifting it again.

To pass the waiver, the GOP needs Democrats who are raw from the GOP pushing through the tax bill and plan to negotiate for restoration of the health-insurance mandate, due to expire in 2019. The schedule is not set, but Congress will most likely not pass this bill by the end of this week while they struggle with other expiring laws, like the spending bill that keeps the government from shutting down.

One vote to transfer the Great Society into Ayn Rand’s idea of plutocracy came from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) who earlier gained the support of her constituents when she refused to vote for an earlier bill because it would drive at least 13 million people off health insurance. The new bill does the same thing, but she claimed that her vote was okay because Congress would shore health insurance markets and undo Medicare cuts guaranteed by the tax bill that she supported with her vote. Even after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House wouldn’t support the deal, she voted for the tax bill. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who made the promise to Collins, is not known for truthfulness. Collins decried media coverage as “unbelievably sexist” because it describes her as being “duped.” She may have to eat her words after discovering that’s exactly what happened.

After the beautiful togetherness and self-backslapping of GOP leaders following the tax bill’s passage, Republicans are back to fighting over the spending bill that must be passed in two days to avoid a government shutdown. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) described the altercation following the joint communion for the tax bill:

“It’s kind of like leaving the hospital, just finding out you’re cancer free, and getting run over by a Mack truck.”

Ryan already refused to allow Collins’ funding for the Affordable Care Act in this year’s spending package. Gone—at least temporarily—is the agreement for legislation to reduce health care premiums for nine million people without government subsidies. House Republicans refuse to address Collins’ proposal to continue the health care subsidies without attaching Hyde Amendment language prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion. Democrats oppose this demand because it expands the existing amendment by discouraging private insurers from covering abortions. Insurers must keep funds for insurer subsidies separate from abortion services, but Republicans want more. Many Republicans are totally against the ACA, and abortion makes a good excuse to block Collins’ proposal. Collins and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have withdrawn their bill for these subsidies until next year’s full spending bill.

The stopgap also fails to address funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization and funding for Community Health Centers. Without CHIP, nine million children lose their health insurance, even those in the middle of such serious problems as cancer treatment.

In the Senate, at least eight Democrats or independents must support all Republicans for a stopgap measure to overcome a filibuster. Without a stopgap measure, the federal government shuts down at midnight Friday. GOP leaders want a bill that expires on January 19, 2018 to stop the shutdown. They call is the “CRomnibus” proposal, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has other names for it:

“Some people are calling it the ‘punt’-ibus, just punt this down the road. I call it the ‘none’-tibus because it’s not going anywhere.”

The GOP House leadership had trouble with its representatives from large blue states because the tax bill penalized their residents disproportionately by reducing deductions for state property and income taxes. Now GOP representatives from Texas and Florida are opposing a bill without the $81 billion disaster bill. Lawmakers in states badly hit by hurricanes vow to stay in Washington until they get their disaster funding. Conservatives object because the disaster relief isn’t paid for by cuts in other parts of the budget, a scenario that takes everyone back to the fight over funding after Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast. Democrats in the Senate oppose the disaster bill because, according to the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “still does not treat Puerto Rico, California and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Florida and Texas.”

In another contentious issue, the GOP had planned to take a separate vote tomorrow to reauthorize Section 702 spying powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for three weeks. After opposition from the Freedom Caucus today, that plan was dropped. Schumer agreed, saying that they need a clean spending bill:

“We cannot do a short-term funding bill that picks and chooses what problems to solve. We have to do them all together, instead of in a piecemeal fashion. It has to be a truly global deal. We can’t leave any of those issues behind.”

The Republicans claim that they can’t shut down the government because it would ruin their win with the tax bill. They have 48 hours pass a bill in the House, send it to the Senate who might make changes if they pass it and then send it back to the House who will then have to agree. That’s before the bill gets sent to the president for signing. The 2880 minutes are ticking away.

October 29, 2017

DDT: Week Forty – Problems Continue

So much has happened during the past week that it seems forever since the beginning of last week when Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) accused Myeshia Johnson, the Gold Star widow of La David Johnson, of being a liar.Everything he does follows this MO as described by the Washington Post: “Make it a fight, use controversy to elevate the message and never apologize.”

DDT’s latest word on the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger: “I didn’t [authorize the mission]. But I have great generals ….” As with the death in a Yemen mission after his inauguration, the un-commander-in-chief blames the generals. “This was something that was, you know, just, they wanted to do …. and they lost Ryan.” A few years ago, the coward-in-chief wrote, “Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.” No longer.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), once a DDT supporter, continued expressing his concerns about the man inaugurated as president last January:

“I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does.”

Corker, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, also said that DDT “has great difficulty with the truth” and that “world leaders are very aware that much of what [Trump] says is untrue.” As Josh Chafetz, Cornell Law School professor, recently: “Politics is, among other things, a discursive practice. Words are actions.” In response, DDT ridiculed Corker’s physical short stature.

Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) announcement that he won’t run for re-election in 2018 brought out DDT’s ire after Flake’s 17-minute speech about DDT’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior. Flake’s decision went from a “chem-trail” Kelli Ward (so called because she thinks that the government is poisoning people with the jet trails) being a slam-dunk in the GOP primary to chaos in a state that is slowly turning purple.

The rest of the GOP has a position about DDT’s fitness—nobody cares and don’t tell anybody about it. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “I don’t think the American people care about that. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said Republican senators worried about DDT’s fitness should keep their fears “private” and talk about it “within the family.” Republican patriotism.

Deaths from the opioid overdose crisis have hit the same level as HIV during the 1980s and 90s, but DDT has declared it an “emergency,” not a “crisis,” with no additional funding. (Maps of its growth here.) DDT’s solution? “Just say no,” just like the failures of Nancy Reagan.

Claiming that it refuses to “facilitate” abortions, DDT’s administration imprisoned a girl who had crossed the border into the United States and wouldn’t allow her to see a lawyer or visit a doctor for a month until the administration quit appealing the judgments of four courts in her favor. Immigration took her to a Christian “pregnancy center” that told her why she should carry the fetus to full term and keps stalling in the hope that she would go beyond 20 weeks before the case was settled. After Washington D.C. appeals court voted 6-3 in her favor, she had the procedure last Wednesday at 16 weeks. Federal officials also violated a court order when they told the girl’s mother she was pregnant. The girl had said that she didn’t want her parents to know because they beat an older sister who was pregnant to cause a miscarriage. In control of the girl was E. Scott Lloyd, the former attorney for the Knights of Columbus and a fierce opponent of abortion who heads up the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

DENVER, COLORADO – OCTOBER 26:  (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

Over 100 women—“handmaids”—marched and protested against the GOP’s attack on women’s reproductive rights in Denver when VP Mike Pence came for a state GOP fundraiser. The image comes from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale inspired by Ronald Reagan’s restrictions on women. In the book, women were forced to become pregnant and bear children. House Republicans introduced a bill preventing doctors from performing abortions after six weeks, usually before women know they are pregnant. The 20-week ban has passed the House and gone to the Senate.

Prototypes for DDT’s “wall” are up, and the New York Magazine asks which one is the “worst.” Your choice of “soothing slat design,” “light-toned wood,” an abandoned “project,” “monolith from 2001,” “experimental,” “vulnerable to breach by Slenderman,” iInfected rusty comb,” and “straight-up boring.” Matt Novak discovered how easily a drone can take drugs from Mexico to the U.S. USA Today described the fiasco of the bidding and building process based on emails with contractors.

The U.S. Air Force is reportedly preparing to put nuclear bombers on 24-hour notice, a position not taken since the Cold War.

The U.S. tried to prove that that Kabul was safe because of this week’s visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but they lied about his location. Tillerson never got off the Bagram air base.

From Ron Paul: The U.S. occupies 53 out of 54 African nations.

When DDT ran for president, he said he would eliminate crime on his first day. What he’s done is to eliminate crime statistics.

The majority of Houston Texans players knelt during the national anthem despite the comment from owner Bob McNair that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” He later apologized to the players, saying that he didn’t mean them.

The Trump administration wants to as much as triple the fees to visit 17 National Parks — including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. Families would have to pay $70 during peak season. The fee increase won’t happen until after a public comment period ending on November 23. Ben Schreiber, Senior Political Strategist for Friends of the Earth, said:

“The Trump administration is turning our National Parks into an exclusive playground for the rich. Secretary Zinke has given our public lands to oil companies, slashed budgets, and attacked the regulations that ensure taxpayers receive a fair price for their natural resource.”

Women are responsible for sexual assault, according to Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election. It’s because women dress provocatively. In an interview with Mike Shoesmith, Gallups agreed with Shoesmith’s statement:

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault. Women who dress in a suggestive manner are] guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment. When a man sees a naked or partially dressed woman, a chemical reaction happens in his brain. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released, giving him an involuntary surge of pleasure. Notice the word ‘involuntary’ … “

DDT continues to make horrifying appointments. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Thomas Farr with a vote of 11-9 to the federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. After George W. Bush first nominated him in 2006, the Senate didn’t advance his name and then blocked President Obama’s new nomination for his two terms. The Congressional Black Caucus wrote, “It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers’ rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so.”

Another worst of the week, confirmed to manage tax policy at the Treasury Department with a 26-0 vote, is David Kautter, who will be acting head of the IRS starting on November 12. Through his 30 years of work with work with Ernst & Young, Kautter developed skill in helping clients avoid taxes. In his confirmation hearing, he said he wasn’t involved in these tax shelters and said he felt bad about not preventing the scheme. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that Kautter promised “he would maintain the highest level of ethical and professional standards if he is confirmed.” Robert Mercer, who paid at least $20 million for DDT’s election, is $7 billion in income tax arrears from his tax-avoidance scheme. Wyden can now find out whether his trust in Kautter is misplaced.

Kelly Knight Craft, wife of coal billionaire Jon Craft and DDT’s new ambassador to Canada, says she believes in both sides of the climate warming question. She finished her statement about the world’s environment to Canadian media by saying that the U.S. is interested in what’s best for the United States.

The acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration—who doesn’t need confirmation—is connected to a company that makes money from the sale of oil spill equipment.

The New Yorker has another cover of DDT that he can post at his golf courses.

The White House is so embarrassed about DDT’s golf-playing that it’s trying to hide his activities—like his 75th day of golf last weekend In 280 days of office. Yesterday DDT was on his Virginia golf course for the fourth weekend in a row.

Too much for one blog post! More coming.

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