Nel's New Day

July 11, 2019

DDT’s Failures—Citizenship Question, Environment

“We are not backing down,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced in the Rose Garden yesterday when he backed down from putting a citizenship question into the 2020 census. This morning, he declared that he would sign an executive order to include the question, despite the Supreme Court and three lower courts ruling against it. This afternoon, he issued an executive order requiring federal departments to provide records about resident noncitizens to the Commerce Department, an action easily done without one of his “executive orders.” Although the monthly American Community Survey, which asks the citizen question, is sent to about one percent of the population each year, but this data cannot be used for legislative and congressional redistricting.

Earlier this week, the DOJ tried to trade out its legal team to argue the case, a first for the DOJ. The judge rejected a new team, calling the request “patently deficient” because the government had provided “no reasons, let alone ’satisfactory reasons,’ for the substitution of counsel.” He required the government to show that replacing the team won’t add further delay to the suit and mandated each of the 11 lawyers now on the case to submit a signed and sworn affidavit giving “satisfactory reasons” for the request. The plaintiffs also have a pending motion to sanction the government for false testimony for the motivation behind the question. New York Attorney General Letitia James said:

“Despite the president attempting to fire his lawyers, this is not an episode of The Apprentice.”

AG Bill Barr, DDT’s fixer, gave an impressive speech declaring victory for DDT after they both backed down. Barr said that they would win if they kept fighting but that they had too little time.  DDT’s “victory” means taking the option that he rejected over a year ago. Earlier this week, Barr had said that he had a way to put the question on the census forms but wouldn’t tell anyone. Before the House leaves for its August recess, members plan to vote to hold both AG William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas tied to the citizenship question.

DDT’s kerfuffle about the citizenship question eclipsed today’s social media summit with conservative online commentators to complain about what they perceive as censorship from big tech companies. DDT tweeted that topics will be “the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies.” Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were not invited. DDT’s goal was to distract the media and his supporters from his and his Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s involvement in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex-trafficking scandal. At his meeting in the East Room, DDT attacked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) rather than Joe Biden, indicating that he sees Warren as a greater opponent than Biden.

A few special guests DDT invited to his “troll party”:

James O’Keefe, who doctors videos to embarrass progressives including faking negative accounts of ACORN, Planned Parenthood, and Medicaid, got caught trying to pull a sting on Washington Post’s reporting about child molester Roy Moore during his last run for U.S. Senate.

Carpe Donktum publishes doctored videos to support DDT that sometimes cause him to be blocked from Twitter.  

Ali Alexander (aka Akbar) tried to start a racist birther-like campaign by tweeting that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is not an “American Black,” a post quote-tweeted by Donald Trump, Jr. Alexander’s earlier Twitter ban this year came after he lied to followers about buying bitcoin, ammo, and guns because of a non-existent impending civil war.

Jim Hoft created the blog Gateway Pundit with such falsehoods as Hillary Clinton having a serious gum disease, E. Jean Carroll getting her DDT rape allegation for Law & Order, and Parkland shooting survivors being “crisis actors.”

Tim Pool claims to support progressive causes and policies but promotes right-wing rumors.

Benny Johnson, once a BuzzFeed writer, moved up the conspiracy chain to Daily Caller to complete DDT obsession after a series of plagiarism accusations.

Minds, an “anti-Facebook” and “Crypto social network,” rewards contributors in bitcoins, giving haven to violent neo-Nazi groups such as Atomwaffen, which has been linked to several murders in the U.S., and Feuerkrieg Division, which has made death threats against tech CEOs and politicians. Those two groups were banned, but other white supremacist accounts remain.

Bill Mitchell, a promoter of the bizarre conspiracy movement QAnon, tells his radio show listener that “Q is trying to do is motivate and encourage the base” by opposing media coverage critical of Trump.  

Michael Morrison was recently suspended from Twitter for closely copying Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter account in what he called a parody.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), under ethics charges for threatening witness Michael Cohen, praised Infowars, castigated the “deep state,” and introduced a resolution to force investigator Robert Mueller to resign.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) blocked a bill requiring political campaigns to report offers of foreign assistance to the FBI. DDT has already said he would welcome negative information about opponents in the 2020 election. Accepting help from a foreign entity or power is already illegal, but the bill would mandate reporting any offers. Blackburn said that mandatory reporting would pose an “overbroad” burden. At a recent conference, Israeli government minister Gilad Erdan bragged that Israel was responsible for laws in 27 U.S. states that blocked free speech supporting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign targeting Israel. Russia isn’t the only country controlling U.S. elections.

Plus a few more GOP members of Congress and Cabinet members. Despite DDT’s refusal to include the major tech companies, he must have faith in them. His campaign spent over $5 million on Facebook ads just this year.

DDT declared himself an environmental president this week came after polls showed him week in this area with millennials and suburban women. He repeated his bizarre statement that forest fires can be blocked by cleaning “dirty floors.” Yet he allowed timber companies to cut more trees, usually the big, more fire-resistant trees while leaving combustible piles of low-value tinder that exacerbate forest fires and bragged about “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions, and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water. In truth, DDT opened up public lands to drilling, signed off on the biggest rollback of federal land protection, and lifted a moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands. The EPA is rolling back clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands, and DDT proposed opening up the U.S. coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling. Carbon emissions have declined in the U.S. but only half that of a dozen other country. DDT falsely cited the high cost of the Dems’ Green New Deal, not yet determined, and omitted the 3.1 percent increase in 2018 when taking credit for the decline in carbn emissions since 2000. DDT left out the part that he pushes coal plants that increase carbon dioxide emissions. Joining DDT for his speech were two Cabinet secretaries, former lobbyists for the coal and oil industries who oversee energy and environment issues.

Shortly before the speech, Washington, DC floods [left] from rain shut down part of a nearby subway station and created pools of water in the White House basement. New Orleans [right] faces an unprecedented problem, possibly worse than the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, with the Mississippi River at record flooding, 16 feet instead of the usual six to eight feet in midsummer. Tropical Storm Barry, the season’s first tropical system, could cause a storm surge of two to three feet at the river mouth for a crest of 20 feet, not seen since February 1950 and 2.3 feet short of the April 1922 record. Evacuations of almost 200 offshore oil facilities has cut off more than half the region’s oil output. An EPA report had warned of effects from the climate crisis, but DDT buried the information.

DDT’s White House pastor preaches that environmentalism is radical and foolish, because God put natural resources on earth for people to use up. EPA director Andrew Wheeler took credit for falling air pollution from 1970 to cover up the 3.1 percent increase in carbon emissions in 2018. DDT called himself “a believer in solar energy,” but he put huge tariffs on solar panels in 2018, eliminating thousands of solar installation jobs, and made deep cuts in solar funding. Although claiming credit for fighting Florida’s toxic algae problem, he failed to allocate sufficient funds to restore the Everglades and reduce polluted water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

The one subject DDT left out of his speech on the environment? Climate change—or as it’s now called, climate crisis. He might want to reconsider this omission. He’s unpopular on a number of key issues such as health care, gun violence, foreign policy, immigration, and abortion, but his bottom rating—29 percent approval—is for his handling of climate change. In only one issue, the economy, is he over 50 percent approval—at 51 percent.

July 6, 2019

DDT: Week 128 – Attacks on Immigrants, Science

After last week’s July 4 private party on public Washington land, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has headed for three days of golf at his New Jersey resort and letting his lawyers in the DOJ figure out how to get a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The DOJ and Commerce Secretary obeyed the Supreme Court ruling against the question until DDT tweeted the reverse and sent them back to court. A Friday deadline for lawyers to report to a judge led them to say that they were continuing to fight the Supreme Court decision despite an earlier claim that July 1 was the deadline to start printing census forms.

The DOJ asked for “abeyance” until it found a “new final agency action” and said it will let the court know when they find a “new rationale.” The judge didn’t agree: putting the word “new” in quotation marks, he said that discovery would immediately begin because the lawyers had earlier argued that time was of the essence. Both discovery and the loss of time are blows to the DOJ because they were hoping, as in the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of DDT’s travel ban, that a “new” final decision would consider only the final version and overlook DDT’s earlier statements. Since the government lost its case in the Supreme Court, new evidence shows that Republicans deliberately planned the question to keep Latinx from voting. The ACLU has filed a petition with New York to stop DDT from delaying the census form printing or adding the question to the forms. 

To get the citizenship question on the Census, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied under oath that the DOJ needed citizenship data for the Voting Rights Act, and the government swore in court filings to the same false claim. New discovery will likely use DDT’s new excuse for the citizenship question that highlights the DOJ’s and Wilbur Ross’ lies:

“Number one, you need it for Congress—you need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations—where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.

“Well you need it for many reasons. No. 1, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting, you need it for appropriations, where are the funds going. How many people are there? Are they citizens, are they not citizens?”

The U.S. Constitution requires a decennial census to create districts based on the number of people, not the number of citizens, and allocates funds on human beings. The government has followed this constitutional requirement for 243 years.

Law professor Rick Hazen summarized the DOJ argument for the court:

“Forget if we had discriminatory racial intent before in adding a question, DOJ argues, because any new decision would be fresh and pure. And because of this purity, there’s no need to look whether the government had discriminatory intent to start with. Presto! Nothing to see here court, please move on.”

The Maryland court ruling on the issue won’t forget, especially with new discovery. Plaintiffs require written objections from the government in 20 days with a maximum of five depositions from DOJ and Commerce Department officials. Witness testimony should be on Sept. 3 & 4. A unanimous ruling from the Supreme Court, almost as rare as unicorns, should have warned the government that it may have difficulty with overturning the decision, even with new excuses. And the DOJ urgency for a resolution has disappeared.

Not satisfied with cruelty to immigrants, DDT plans a way to get rid of 80 percent of scientists in a little-known USDA agency that protects the U.S. farm industry. They study a huge diversity of influences from impacts of temperature changes on crop yields to GMOs. DDT is sending almost all of them to Kansas City on July 15 with no reason and at a cost of $182 million. Those who don’t want to be transferred will be fired on September 30. Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue claims that the savings is $20 million a year—five DDT weekend vacations.

The 76 scientists remaining in D.C. won’t work on projects “unpalatable” to DDT; i.e., dealing with the climate crisis. Even in Kansas City, two of the Economic Research’s six “core” systems, research models for projects, will have no staff members. One evaluates effects of weather patterns and economics on agriculture systems such as land and water resources, and the other, already with only three staff members, projects crop yields, price fluctuations, and crop management. Other scientist attrition reduces the ability to establish guidelines for entitlement programs’ benefits and the efficacy of USDA’s conservation programs on water quality. Almost eradicated is honeybee research because the current government doesn’t understand that food disappears without pollination. Research on deadly pesticides will also be gone. With this elimination of staff, policy makers will no longer have economic analysis for decision-making. DDT doesn’t like any bad news, and that’s the responsibility of the ERS, like when it told George H.W. Bush that the biofuel program was a waste of time.

Eighteen months ago, the ERS told DDT that his tax reform would primarily benefit only wealthy farmers; now he sent them to Kansas City. A good piece on the issue from Rachel Maddow.

DDT wows his supporters by making claims that please them. When he later backs off, right-wing media never reveals his flipflops. A recent change is his rule allowing medical workers to refuse participation in abortions or other treatments such as sterilization, assisted suicide, and care for LGBTQ people based on any moral basis. The mandate was scheduled to start on July 22, but DHS put off a final ruling until November 22 after a California lawsuit.

Kim Darroch, UK ambassador to the U.S., described DDT’s Iran policy as “incoherent” and the White House as “dysfunctional, clumsy, inept.” Leaked memos warned that DDT’s presidency can “crash and burn.” Describing DDT as “insecure” and “incompetent,” Durroch reported that the “vicious infighting and chaos” inside the White House is “mostly true.”

DDT promised he would bring Iran’s oil exports to zero, but the State Department is considering a waiver for China to import oil from Iran. Meanwhile DDT said he doesn’t want war with Iran, but he is frantically searching for excuses to attack the country.

The UN stated that the airstrike killing 53 people and injuring over 130 others in Libya constitutes a war crime; the U.S. is sorry about the deaths but claims that the strikes are collateral business as usual.  

After DDT claims he settled the Chinese tariffs—which he hasn’t—he’s threatening tariffs on European goods because of subsidies on aircraft manufacturing that he claims damages Boeing and the U.S. economy. Airbus received subsidies after Boeing received $19 billion from the U.S. government. The WTO ruled that Boeing is still getting illegal tax subsidies in Washington state. While Boeing fails to solve its massive 737 MAX problem, Airbus made a massive deal with China.

A new study reveals that Russian propaganda on social media helped DDT get elected in 2016. He won the election by 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania through a vast disinformation campaign. DDT has not commented.  

Anyone who doubts that the Fox network is acting as a government propaganda agent as in other autocratic countries needs to watch this similarity between its reporting and that of the state media in North Korea.

In an interview with Fox’s Tucker Carlson, DDT expressed shock at homelessness and declared it “a phenomena that began two years ago.” DDT said,  “We never had this in our lives before in this country.” The biggest problem is “liberal” cities, according to DDT who said that he has eliminated homelessness in Washington, D.C. so that foreign visitors won’t have to “be looking at that.”

DDT’s fury toward New York indicates that he may be in trouble after the state started investigating his financial affairs.

Underwater in most polls, DDT faces 51 percent disapproval in his handling of the economy. Despite an attempt to raise his popularity by going to North Korea, DDT’s approval dropped two points last month to 41 percent. Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research puts him at 38 percent approval. Back home after basking in the warmth of the world’s autocrats and dictators, DDT falsely denied that he lost all three debates with Hillary Clinton and claiming that he’s ahead in the polls because “you can add 10 [points] to whatever poll I have, okay?” 

The good news? June added 224,000 jobs. The bad news? May’s job number was revised down to 72,000, and the average monthly job addition for the second quarter of 2018 is 171,000—unless June’s numbers go down too. State and local government jobs outside education comprised 32,500 of June’s jobs—almost 15 percent. And wage growth is slowing. Amidst claims that this is the best economy, 40 percent of people in the U.S. struggle to pay their bills. The bottom half has less wealth today than 40 years ago, and their “wealth” equals that of three people in the United States.

July 4, 2019

Will the Judicial Branch Protect Democracy?

July 4—the date that people in the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. For the past 243 years, some people have tried to protect the nation from the erosion of democracy, a far more difficult task in the past two years as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroyed U.S. relationships with all countries except those run by autocrats and dictators. Setting himself up as the supreme ruler with no checks, DDT is enabled by congressional Republicans. Although the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has tried to protect democracy, DDT is loading lifetime judgeships with mostly young white men who follow his authoritarianism.

DDT’s latest move outside the law came from his determination to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. A week ago, the Supreme Court decision gave DDT two options: print the census without the question or go back to court to with a better reason and fewer lies to include the question. Over the weekend, DDT’s administration looked for ways to stall—with DDT even suggesting that the constitutionally mandated census might be delayed.

Four days later, the DOJ said it would not return to court, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (bottom left) announced that the census forms were sent to the printers without the question. Yet DDT tweeted that the question would be on the 2020 census, catching the attention of a judge. Yesterday, the judge convened a telephone conference with government and Maryland immigrant-rights groups lawyers to address DDT’s declaration that the government was “absolutely moving forward” with its citizenship question plan for the 2020 census, defying a Supreme Court ruling and contradicting the DOJ and Commerce Department statements. Josh Gardner, DOJ’s civil division lawyer, said he knew nothing about DDT’s position until he read the tweet. Assistant AG Jody Hunt told the judge that DOJ lawyers “have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision” to include the question. The DOJ also warned the New York court ruling opposing the question that it might again appeal the case to the now-recessed Supreme Court. 

Lawyers from the rights groups requested a court order requiring the government to agree that “there will be no further effort to inquire about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census.” They also asked the judge to compel the administration to “publicly counter any such misinformation that comes from government officials.”

The judge said that he might not be able to “enjoin the President of the United States from tweeting things” but ordered the DOJ to explain by tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST whether the government would still try to add the question to the 2020 census forms. DOJ lawyers asked if they could have until Monday. The judge said, “No.” Lawyers for the rights groups reminded the judge that DOJ lawyers previously insisted the printing process for census forms begin by last Monday. The Census Bureau already botched a contracting process when the Government Publishing Office awarded its single largest printing contract to a bankrupt company. 

On Independence Day, DDT’s latest ploy is to overturn the Supreme Court decision by ordering the citizenship question through an executive order.

Judges across the country are opposing DDT’s positions. A federal judge in Seattle blocked AG Bill Barr’s order [Barr: right of Ross] to keep thousands of migrants indefinitely detained while waiting for asylum case decisions. Denying migrants a bail hearing is unconstitutional, according to the judge; a bond hearing must be granted within seven days or migrants will be released. DHS has raised fees for asylum seekers, slowed the processing and forced over 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for movement on their legal cases. Barr’s order is one reason for the seriously overcrowded facilities.

DDT claims that living conditions in his detention camps are “better than where they came from,” but a report from his own DHS Inspector General tells of horrific conditions with filth and overcrowding at the migrant detention centers. People lie in cages on bare cement floors with nothing to do, and men are held for weeks in a room with standing room only—88 of them in a room designed for 40. Children have no access to showers, clothing changes, laundry facilities, and hot meals. 

A federal judge ordered lawyers representing detained migrants and US Customs and Border Protection to rapidly resolve allowing health experts to examine children and inspect detention facilities inside a Florida migrant facility. The order covers all CBP’s El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. Children lack access to soap, clean water, toilets, toothbrushes, medical care, and adequate nutrition and sleep. With infants and pregnant women, they “are dirty, cold, hungry and sleep-deprived,” according to the court filing. Children are required to care for infants and toddlers, some of whom show signs of illness. John Kelly, former DHS director and DDT’s chief of staff, is on the board of the company owning the Florida facility.

A federal judge expanded a previous ruling to block DDT from taking billions of dollars in military funds for his southern border wall in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. DDT claimed “national emergency”; the judge said that there was no new evidence for changing an earlier decision. He also stated that the wall would cause “irreparable harm” because it “will harm [the plaintiffs’] ability to recreate in and otherwise enjoy public land along the border.” A 2-1 vote in a 9th Circuit Court panel denied DDT’s request to halt the order blocking military funds for a border wall.

The 9th Circuit Court sent a decision against DDT’s transgender ban in the military back to federal judge, Marsha Pechman, ruling that she should have given the military’s judgment more deference. The Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions blocking the ban from going into effect although it didn’t address the ban’s legality. Pechman was one of four federal judges ruling against the ban on the basis of the constitution’s equal protection guarantee. DDT’s used inaccurate figures in a claim of “tremendous medical costs”; no one in the military has cited DDT’s claim of “disruption” regarding transgender military members.

The 9th Circuit Court also vacated a unanimous three-judge panel decision allowing DDT’s gag rule on facilities serving low-income women seeking abortions. DDT’s orders prevented clinics receiving federal funds from making abortion referrals and sharing space with abortion providers. Injunctions against DDT’s declaration will continue in Oregon, Washington, and California as the issue works its way throughout the courts.

The 9th Circuit Court denied an appeal from three University of Oregon basketball players who were expelled from the school for rape allegations. They had originally sued in 2015 on the basis of gender discrimination; a federal court threw out their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act applying severe criminal penalties for violent acts motivated by race, religion, and other protected classifications applies to workplace assaults. A defendant lost his claim that the law didn’t apply to his punching a gay co-worker in the face.

A Montana district court blocked Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. from exploring for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Scott Warren, an Arizona activist on trial for saving the lives of migrants in the desert, was acquitted by a hung jury. Federal prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for Warren, hoping to put him in prison for several years for giving food, water, clean clothes, and beds to migrants in the desert. 

A last-minute change in testimony exonerated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher in the 2017 murder of a 15-year-old captive in Iraq. Given immunity, medic Corey Scott changed his previous statements and claimed he killed the boy after several Navy Seals testified they saw Gallagher stab the boy to death. Gallagher had texted a photo of himself posing with the body and the message, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” DDT had previously arranged for Gallagher’s release from confinement and suggested he would pardon him.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that going on someone else’s land without their permission is trespassing. Two people sued a giant corporation for building roads and drilling a well without permission to get gas from adjacent lands.

For almost a decade, Republicans worked to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Some are now getting nervous about their re-elections of they succeed in the goal. With two conservative judges on a panel who might strike down the ACA, the GOP state AGS asked the 5th Circuit Court to delay oral arguments, but the court gave them one business day until July 9. The court will begin by deciding whether states and the House of Representatives have standing to defend the ACA.

House Democrats, led by the Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA), are suing the IRS and Treasury Department to gain access to DDT’s tax returns. Both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig consistently refused to obey the 1924 law requiring them to release DDT’s tax returns. One reason given for obtaining the tax returns is DDT’s incessant complaining about how unfair the audit process is. House members need to see his returns to evaluate his complaints.

This year, the Supreme Court couldn’t decide Carpenter v. Murphy; it is “restored to the calendar for reargument.” The question is whether Oklahoma can prosecute major crimes committed by Native Americans on reservation land for the Five Civilized Tribes, covering the eastern half of the state including Tulsa. Deciding for the defendant, Patrick Murphy, would threaten the validity of past convictions—something that didn’t bother conservative justices in other decisions this year—or replace past law regarding the dissolution of Native American reservations. States have something to look forward to next year because Oklahoma may not be alone in backlash to the decision.

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

April 6, 2019

DDT: Week 115, Part II – Disasters Causing Meltdown

Watching Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ramble on has caused increasing concern among those exposed to his television appearances. [The “meltdown” cover from last summer’s Time may be even more appropriate now.]

This past week, he talked about his father being born in a “wonderful” place in Germany although Fred Trump was born in New York City, the son of a man banished from Bavaria because of draft dodging. DDT’s grandfather was the immigrant, like those who DDT hate and fear. Although DDT’s grandfather became a citizen earlier, he brought his wife back from Europe just three months before DDT’s father was born in 1905. During the same session, DDT talked about the “oranges” of the Mueller report instead of its “origins.” The noise from “windmills” causes cancer, according to DDT. If true, as Stephen Colbert said, everyone in Holland would be dead.

Bad news keeps piling up on him. The new book A Hill to Die On (Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer), released this past week, reveals much about DDT’s contentious relationship with congressional members, and the WaPo published its latest record of DDT’s lies since his inauguration—9,451 as of March 31. That’s an average of almost 12 a day, with a high acceleration rate in the past year.

For the second time recently, Congressional Republicans passed a bill that DDT has promised to veto, a resolution to end U.S. military support for DDT’s Saudi/UAE-Led Coalition’s brutal war on Yemen. The House vote of 247-175 included 16 yes GOP votes. The Senate passed the bill last month with seven Republicans voting for it. That chamber had passed the same resolution last December, but former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused to bring it to the floor. A bicameral War Powers Resolution has not passed Congress since the original passage of the 1973 War Powers Act.

DDT also has problems with  his tax returns. His tax firm promised to give ten years of his returns to Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee. House Ways and Means Committee Chair, Richard Neal (D-MA), also asked the IRS for six years of DDT’s personal and business tax information, using a law from almost a century ago. DDT’s lawyers claim that Neal has no justification, but another law governing tax return disclosure requires the Treasury secretary to hand over all returns requested by the chairs of congressional committees that oversee taxes. No Treasury secretary has ever refused Congress’ request. Neither Secretary Steve Mnuchin nor the IRS has responded. Mnuchin himself is in trouble: the U.S. Ethics Office—which is much more lax than in the past—won’t certify his 2018 financial disclosure statement because of his possibly shady dealings. Last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was also told his disclosure statement couldn’t be certified because of an accuracy.

Although DDT typically dawdles in making appointments for government officials, the Senate confirmed Michael Desmond as the new chief counsel of the IRS on February 27—two weeks after DDT asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to fast-track the process. Desmond has earlier advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before DDT took office and worked with tax counsels for the Trump Organization. Last fall, the Senate confirmed Charles Rettig, owner of a unit in a Trump building and author of an article arguing that DDT should not release his tax returns, as the IRS Commissioner. The old saying “follow the money” has been joined by “follow DDT’s appointments.”

DDT had another tax problem when WaPo discovered that he had failed to pay taxes of $36,200 on his LA golf course where he visited yesterday. An article pointing out that he had delinquent taxes for two different years caused him to pay off.

While DDT talks big about security on the border, he hands out undeserved security clearances to friends and family like candy. Despite DDT’s denials, an 18-year White House security adviser, Tricia Newbold, has testified to the House Oversight Committee about 25 high-level security clearances for Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and others in spite of earlier rejection for blackmail, conflicts of interest, criminal conduct, drug abuse, financial problems, foreign influence, and other red flags. Since DDT overturned these rejections, applicants are no longer required to have credit checks. Newbold reported that her direct manager, Carl Kline, overruled her denials and retaliated against her when she objected, including a 14-day suspension without pay.

Newbold, who has dwarfism, said when she raised concerns, Kline retaliated by placing essential files up high, out of her physical reach. On The Daily show, Trevor Noah called out the “middle school bullies who were put in charge of America’s government” and urged security specialist Tricia Newbold to fight back. Kline has been subpoenaed to testify before the Oversight Committee.

Kushner made over 40 revisions to his original financial disclosures and added millions of previously undisclosed assets, including financial ties to Russia in the months following his appointment as presidential adviser. Public reporting shows that he has an extremely close relationship with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and received financial help from Qatar. Last month, Kushner’s company sought a $1.5 billion loan from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and in 2018, a private equity billionaire leveraged loans for access to the White House. Although Kushner was denied access to top-secret documents last year, he regained his top security clearance in May 2018.

Cummings has not publicly announced the 25 people on Newbold’s list, but the committee prioritized Kushner and eight other current and former officials:

John Bolton: recent interaction with Russian nationals that may not have been reported.

Ivanka Trump: Missed deadline for filing financial reports to the Office of Government Ethics and use of personal email account for government purposes.

Michael Flynn: contacts with foreign officials; misleading information about a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. that he denied; and secret lobbying campaign on behalf of the Turkish government.

Rob Porter: abuse of two ex-wives.

Sebastian Gorka.

K.T. McFarland: deception to the Senate about knowledge about Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

John McEntee (DDT’s personal assistant for his first year): concerns about finances and gambling. (He is now senior adviser for DDT’s campaign.)

Robin Townley (top aide to Flynn).

In another dismal security risk, a Chinese woman with two passports, four cellphones, a laptop, a hard drive, and a thumb drive containing malware gained access to Mar-a-Lago while DDT’s wife and son were on the premises and he was nearby playing golf. Yujing Zhang lied her way past the Secret Service agents and wasn’t caught until she was approached by a receptionist inside. She told security officials that she wanted to go to the swimming pool and was believed to be the relative of a member named Zhang. Experts have worried about the lack of security at the Winter White House, as DDT calls his resort. In 2017, Mar-a-Lago guests and wait staff surrounded DDT and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they talked about North Korea’s ballistic test. DDT called the latest problem “a little fluke.”

A third judge has ruled against Wilbur Ross’ citizenship question on the 2020 census as he also faces congressional hearings and a Supreme Court appearance. “Unreasonableness,” “woefully deficient,” and “improper” were just a few of the terms in U.S. District Judge George Hazel’s 119-page opinion. Ross, 81, showed himself so pathetically incapable of testifying that he “declined” to appear before the Appropriations Committee.  He was replaced with an empty chair.

Last fall, DDT preened himself for making a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA after his heavy criticism about that agreement during his campaign. His new agreement won’t exist, however, without congressional approval, and on April 19 the International Trade Commission will release its report on the effects of the new NAFTA’s version. Experts predict little positive impact for the U.S. and question whether little change is worth the effort. Even worse could be a negative or mediocre conclusion about DDT’s agreement.

DDT exhibited fear about the loss of his and other GOP congressional 2020 elections by telling House Republicans to be “more paranoid than they are” about vote counting. At the NRCC spring dinner, he suggested the elections that “went Democrat” were rigged:

“I don’t like the way the votes are being tallied… You don’t like it either, you just don’t want to say it because you’re afraid of the press.”

Last November, DDT said without evidence that Florida’s ballots were “massively infected” and talked about “electoral corruption” in Arizona. Before the 2016 election, he said he might not “give up peacefully” if he lost.

DDT’s approval ratings in public polling range around 40 percent, but he would hate even more a private E-score compiled to determine the level of personalities’ appeal for television audiences for marketing executives and advertisers. On over 40 personality and physical attributes, DDT scores high on “aggressive, “mean,” “insincere,” “confident,” and “creepy” but between 0 and 4 percent for “sexy,” “impartial,” “handsome,” and “physically fit.” His overall strong positive appeal is 14 percent compared to his 39 percent of overall strong negative appeal. Tracking stopped in 2015.

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