Nel's New Day

September 18, 2018

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 30, 2013

Manning’s Sentence: What People in the U.S. Value

A military judge at Fort Meade (MD) found Army PFC Bradley Manning, 25, not guilty of aiding the enemy but guilty of 20 other counts, including five espionage charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The judgment against him for providing documents to WikiLeaks could give him a jail term of up to 136 years.  Free speech organization Index on Censorship condemned the guilty verdicts.

“Manning is a whistleblower who leaked files in order to inform the world about what really happened during the Iraq War to no personal gain. The US government should abide by its duty to protect whistleblowers who speak out in the public interest.”

Today is the same day that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wants declared as National Whistleblower Day in honor of the first whistleblower law passed on July 30, 1778—235 years ago. Grassley believes in prosecuting people from the United States who may violate the law in order to tell the truth, but the senator helped create a law to protect a Swiss security guard who revealed private documents from a Swiss mega-bank,

The first whistleblower protection act stated that it was the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

It was passed unanimously in response to a whistleblower, Marine Captain John Grannis, who presented a petition to the Continental Congress on March 26, 1777, to have a commander of the Continental Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, suspended after he tortured captured British sailors. After Hopkins retaliated against Grannis and two others, Midshipman Samuel Shaw and Third Lieutenant Richard Marven, Marven and Shaw petitioned the Continental Congress. They claimed that they had been arrested because they had done “what they then believed and still believe was nothing but their duty.” The Continental Congress not only agreed with the two men but also decreed that the United States pay for the defense of the two men.

If Manning had gone to Congress with his information, he would have lost his security clearance for trying to give testimony that included evidence of torture and other war crimes. Congress would have buried his information the way that they have done to other illegal actions the government has committed.

Manning’s “leaks” included:

  • The “Afghan War Logs” showed an assassination squad, Task Force 373, and its mission on June 17, 2007, staking out a Koran where a “prominent al Qaeda functionary” might be located. The squad killed seven children with five U.S. rockets but not the al Qaeda member.
  • The “Iraq War Logs” revealed an order, Frago 242, in which the U.S. military arranged to have Iraqi military or security forces to torture prisoners but not take responsibility because U.S. service members did not actively participate.
  • U.S. interrogators threatened Iraqi detainees with being turned over to the “Wolf Brigade” or “Wolf Battalion” which would “subject” them “to all the pain and agony that the Wolf Battalion is known to exact upon its detainees.”
  • Over 250,000 US diplomatic cables revealed U.S. diplomats spying on United Nations leadership, the Yemen president agreed to secretly allow U.S. cruise missile attacks that he would say were launched by his government, U.S. and China cooperating to obstruct a major agreement on climate change by European countries, the FBI training torturers in Egypt’s state security service, both the administrations of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama pressuring Spain and Germany not to investigate torture authorized by Bush administration officials, and foreign contractors managed by DynCorp hiring Afghan boys to dress up as girls and dance for them.
  • Over 700 detainee assessment reports on prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay showed imprisonment of children and elderly men were imprisoned.

Manning pled guilty to some offenses before trial. If prosecutors had accepted the plea instead of trying to convict him of “aiding the enemy,” he would have been in prison for 20 years. Prosecutors also tried to convince the judge that Manning could be judged guilty even if he had no intent to provide any aid. Manning’s civilian defense attorney, David Coombs, argued, “No case has ever been prosecuted under this type of theory, that an individual by the nature of giving information to a journalistic organization would then” be charged with “aiding the enemy.”

Basically, the prosecution wanted a death sentence for giving information to the press as a method of stopping any whistleblowers.

Thus far, seven others have been charged under the Espionage Act during President Obama’s administration. Before 2010, only 3 previous leakers had ever been saddled with charges under the 1917 Espionage Act. The law was created during World War I to stop any dissent against the war. Stephen Kim, a former State Department employee, was charged with violating the Espionage Act after he allegedly told Fox News reporter James Rosen that North Korea might test a nuclear bomb.. The judge declared that prosecutors didn’t have to prove that the information could be damaging to the U.S. or “advantage a foreign nation,” turning the law into an anti-leaks law without any Congressional action.

Manning’s sentence will tell the people of the world of the U.S. military’s response to different crimes. These are some other military sentences:

  • Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the senior military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib and the senior officer present the night of the murder of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, received no jail time. He was reprimanded and fined $8,000.
  • Sgt. Sabrina Harman, seen giving a thumbs-up next to al-Jamadi’s body and photographed smiling next to naked, hooded Iraqis stacked on each other in Abu Ghraib, was sentenced to six months for maltreating detainees.
  • Spec. Armin Cruz was sentenced to eight months for abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib and covering up the abuse.
  • Spc. Steven Ribordy was sentenced to eight months for being accessory to the murder of four Iraqi prisoners who were “bound, blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal” in Baghdad in 2007.
  • Spc. Belmor Ramos was sentenced to seven months for conspiracy to commit murder in the same case.
  • Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for committing the four Baghdad murders. The military then granted him clemency and reduced his sentence to 20 years, with parole possible after seven.
  • Marine Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich received no jail time for negligent dereliction in the massacre of 24 unarmed men, women and children in 2005 in the Iraqi town of Haditha. Seven other members of his battalion were charged, but none was punished.
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Jerry Shumate and Lance Cpl. Tyler Jackson were both sentenced to 21 months for the aggravated assault of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, 52, a father of 11 and grandfather of four, in Al Hamdania in 2006. Awad died after being shot during the assault. Their sentences were later reduced.
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington was sentenced to eight years for the same incident, but served only a few months before being granted clemency and released from prison.
  • Marine Sgt. Lawrence G. Hutchins III was sentenced to 15 years for murder in the Awad case but his conviction was soon overturned and he was released.
  • No soldiers received any punishment for the killing of five Iraqi children, four women and two men in one Ishaqi home in 2006. Among the U.S. diplomatic cables leaked by Bradley Manning was email from a UN official stating that U.S. soldiers had “executed all of them.”

Manning’s case goes beyond a soldier making decisions without authority. It has evolved into the possibility that the government will continue to successfully conceal corruption for decades.  Officials and legislators define whether people who expose crimes, abuse, or corruption are whistleblowers or criminals, depending on whether these government higher-ups have a vested interested in hiding their illegal actions. People are not generally celebrated if they confront U.S. involvement in wars, government methods of conducting foreign policy, spying on other countries, and violating freedom and human rights throughout the world.

February 23, 2013

No Compromise for VAWA

For 18 years the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) was the law of the land, passing in the year that Newt Gingrich took over the House and renewed every six years even when the GOP had control of a Congressional chamber and the presidency. Then the Tea Party came to town, and everything changed.

VAWA provides vital protections against domestic violence and sexual assault, providing assistance to victims through funding clinics, shelters, hotlines, and services. Greatly improving the nation’s infrastructure of dealing with rape and abuse, VAWA has saved countless women’s lives and livelihoods. It established the National Domestic Violence Hotline; trained law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors to help victims; made stalking illegal; and updated laws throughout the United States to consider rape by a partner equal to rape by a stranger.

Since VAWA, partner violence and homicides fell: from 1993, the year before VAWA’s passage, until 2010, the overall rate of intimate partner violence in the United States declined by 64 percent. The number of women killed by partners dropped 43 percent.

vawa

Last April, the Senate passed another six–year extension to VAWA, but the House rejected it. This month the Senate passed VAWA, but the House opposes support for Native American, undocumented, and LGBT victims of DV and SA.

One sticking point with the GOP-controlled House, that has proposed a watered down version of VAWA, is the provision that would protect Native American women on tribal reservations. They ignore the statistics of sexual violence against Native American women. Three out of five are assaulted by their intimate partners, and 56 percent of these women have non-Indian husbands. Despite epidemic rates of domestic violence against Native women on reservations by non-Native men, local governments are not permitted to respond to crimes in their community if the perpetrator is not Native. Only federal prosecutors, often hundreds of miles away without local resources, are allowed to investigate and prosecute these crimes. On some Indian reservations, the homicide rate of Native women is ten times that of the national average.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is an example of the 22 senators–all men–who voted against VAWA, bigots who oppose protecting Indian women from non-Native men. He declared that VAWA was unconstitutional because white men would be deprived of their rights by facing a tribal court.  “On an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” he said. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

“The jury is supposed to be a reflection of society,” Grassley wrongly claimed. According to the Sixth Amendment, juries are drawn from the “state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” The U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruled that criminal defendants have a right to a jury “drawn from a fair cross section of the community” where the case is heard. Over 95 percent of Vermont is white, so the jury might be all white. On the other hand, the population of local communities on the Navajo Nation are largely Native American. Grassley’s statement indicates he thinks that Navajo jurors are less like to be impartial than whites.

Of these 22 senators, five senators are so anti-women that they voted against an amendment to ban human trafficking.  

Grassley has company in his anti-VAWA stance. Heritage Action, from the group headed by ultra-conservative Jim DeMint, and Freedomworks, one of the Tea Party groups,  are fighting VAWA’s reauthorization because it is “unprecedented, unnecessary and dangerous.” Claiming that VAWA is “bad for men,” the groups stated, “Under VAWA, men effectively lose their constitutional rights.” Because male victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking may also be covered, the only men who might suffer from VAWA are those who commit these violent crimes.

Sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), one of 17 GOP women who constitute 8.5 percent of Republicans in the House, the House bill removes rights from three specific groups of people:

Native American Victims: Tribal court sentencing on non-Native defendants would be limited to one year in addition to other options allowing defendants to evade justice in tribal courts. Non-Native American men who abuse Native American women on reservations could move their cases to a federal court if they feel their constitutional rights are not being upheld. The bill also eliminates the 2000 VAWA allowing tribes to issue and enforce civil protection orders against all persons, the only protection a tribal government can provide to victims of domestic violence from DV, stalking, and harassment.

LGBT Victims: The bill removes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of underserved populations who face barriers to accessing victim services, thereby disqualifying LGBT victims from a related grant program; eliminates a requirement in the Senate bill that programs that receive funding under VAWA provide services regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity; and excludes the LGBT community from the STOP program, the largest VAWA grant program, which gives funds to care providers who work with law enforcement officials to address domestic violence.

Undocumented Immigrants: Undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence can be eligible for legal status only if federal or local officials certify that it would help investigate or prosecute criminal activity.

Last year, Grassley vote against the rights of these groups, saying that it was just the Democrats’ “election year politics.” He indicated that these provisions were included to make Republicans look bad in an election year. Instead of accepting the motivation to make the United States a better place to live, he follows the paranoid complaint from the National Review :

Democrats have nearly perfected the following exercise in cynical electioneering: 1) introduce legislation; 2) title it something that appeals to the vast majority of Americans who have no interest in learning what is actually in the bill, e.g., the “Violence Against Women Act”; 3) make sure it is sufficiently noxious to the GOP that few Republicans will support it; 4) vote, and await headlines such as “[GOP Lawmaker] Votes No On Violence Against Women Act”; 5) clip and use headline in 30-second campaign ad; and 6) repeat.”

Amanda Marcotte laid out the issue much better:

“There’s a long and ongoing history of rape and domestic violence being minimized and ignored by law enforcement and society at large. Domestic violence is frequently minimized as mere couple-squabbling. Rape is often written off as the victim’s hysterical reaction to bad sex or just desserts for a woman who broke one of the many unwritten sexist ‘rules’ about going out at night, being alone with a date, dressing a certain way, or drinking alcohol.

“VAWA addresses these realities, by strengthening law enforcement response and providing victim services that avoid victim-blaming or minimization, and is not, contrary to conservative hopes and dreams, an attempt to make up for women’s supposed physical or emotional inferiority.”

If the House version even gets out of committee, GOP members will whine about Democrats not compromising with them. Trying to find common ground by refusing rights to specific groups of people is like the agreement of 1787 that gave each slave in the South only three-fifths’ status of a white man in determining Congressional representation. Emory University President James Wagner declared this a good compromise. Denying people rights is never a good compromise.          

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