Nel's New Day

March 23, 2019

DDT: Week 113, Part 2 – Deny, Give Orders

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to destroy free speech in the media but signed an executive order to protect “free speech” on campus—like the First Amendment. DDT said, “People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others.” Conservative legislatures have already passed laws promoting conservative language on campus. For example, Wisconsin students can be expelled if they interrupt the speech of another student three times. DDT was so excited by signing the executive order that he grabbed a young blonde and kissed her. As he said, “Grab them …. You can do anything.” At least all he did at the signing ceremony was kiss her. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project’s new website, Gov404, tracks online “censorship” on U.S. government websites to show how they have erased important information, especially LGBTQ rights and climate change, with no justification. One of the biggest federal changes began with EPA’s removing the climate change site followed by climate change pages and information from departments of Transportation, Interior, BLM, National Park Service, etc.

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.” ― George Orwell, 1984

About any problems, DDT says, “Deny, deny, deny.” Now he adds that he knows nothing:

Nothing about Jared Kushner and Ivanka’s extensive use of private email accounts for White House business after constantly using the “lock her up” chant for Hillary Clinton’s emails on the campaign trail. Yesterday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) used the same chant at a fundraising event at Mar-a-Lago.

Nothing about DDT giving Kushner top-secret security clearance despite proof.

Nothing about the major crackdown, involving many kidnappings and tortures, of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his political foes.

Nothing about MBS’ death squad asking for bonuses for overtime because they worked overtime.

Nothing about MBS torturing and dismembering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Nothing about the rising threats of white supremacists despite the employment of people; i.e., Confederacy fan and white supremacist Corey Stewart leading DDT’s MAGA PAC because of Stewart’s promise to “run a very vicious and ruthless campaign.”

DDT condemned Rep. Ilham Omar (D-MN) for so-called anti-Semitic remarks but stayed silent about white nationalist Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) tweet about “another civil war” between red and blue states:

“One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use. Wonder who would win….” [visual King]

King represents Iowa, depicted on the losing side.

Counties hosting at least one DDT rally experienced an average 226 percent increase of hate crimes afterward. A large number of the reported hate crimes referenced Trump. In Virginia racist bullying in school increased in counties backing DDT and decreased in regions carried by Hillary Clinton.

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a bill to stop participating in Title X and put aside more state dollars to expand its family planning program passed two years ago if DDT’s gag rule preventing any mention of abortion succeeds. The new bill declares that Maryland will not participate in a program proving substandard care and require providers to physically and financially separate abortion from other medical services to keep the federal funding. Maryland is also one of 22 states suing the federal government over the gag rule.

DDT will put more elders into poverty with a new policy that employers can give current retirees a one-time payment in exchange for their pensions. Pensions are big liabilities for companies because they depend on investments which are unsure. Retirees with a lump sum of money tend to spend them quickly, within 5.5 years according to a 2017 study, and use the money for short-term items like home improvements. Typically, people get 20 to 30 percent less with that one-time payment than with a pension.

DHS is considering staffing detention centers with the 1,000-person force of government workers who volunteered to leave their jobs to help disaster victims. The Surge Capacity Force, created after Hurricane Katrina to help FEMA if it needs extra staff on short notice, was activated only in 2012 for Hurricane Sandy and 2017 for Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Force members have no training in staffing detention facilities, and the proposal leaves FEMA with no help during disasters from climate change, currently the horrific flooding in three Plains Area states. Wildfire season also begins early this year.

Eric Trump, DDT’s son, accidentally argued on Fox & Friends in favor of net neutrality when he lied in complaints that private sources such as Twitter and Google block conservatives and not “liberals.” He wants the internet to be governed by free speech guidelines, perhaps ignorant that this ruling was made in 2015 when the FCC declared the internet a “utility” to establish “net neutrality” protections, guaranteeing that its traffic be treated equally no matter what the content. DDT’s FCC repealed that rule over a year ago so that companies can dictate what the content that consumers will or not receive and how quickly they will get this content. Eighty percent of people in the United States support net neutrality. Companies have made exceptions to anti-hate speech limits so that DDT doesn’t suffer consequences for his tweets, and research indicates that conservative companies such as Fox get more traffic on Facebook than progressive counterparts.

DDT gets all his “news” for tweets and press conferences from Fox, and now the daily White House “news” releases follow suit with the “announcement that ISIS “has crumbled.”  It does claim that “the official announcement hasn’t yet been made,” but Fox reported it.

The new tax “cut” law can cost 11 million taxpayers $323 billion from the limit on deductible state and local levies, according to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Due process lost in the Supreme Court after the conservative majority ruled that the government can indefinitely detain immigrants, even legal ones, for past criminal records and release. Charles Pierce explains:

“If you did a two-year bid 30 years ago for whatever, and you’ve been the choir director in a Trappist monastery since you got out of stir, ICE can now grab you up and detain you, theoretically, for the rest of your life.”

The plaintiff in the case was arrested twice for cannabis and released in 2006. Seven years later ICE picked him up and locked him in detention. In another case last term, Justice Stephen Breyer read his dissent from the bench:

“Would the Constitution leave the government free to starve, beat, or lash those held within our boundaries? If not, then…, how can the Constitution authorize the government to imprison arbitrarily those who, whatever we might pretend, are in reality right here in the United States? The answer is that the Constitution does not authorize arbitrary detention. And the reason that is so is simple: Freedom from arbitrary detention is as ancient and important a right as any found within the Constitution’s boundaries.”

This year, Breyer wrote about “the Government’s duty not to deprive any ‘person’ of ‘liberty’ without ‘due process of law’; the Nation’s original commitment to protect the ‘unalienable’ right to ‘Liberty.’” Breyer’s dreams are gone.

Companies must report pay data by race and gender after a federal ordered DDT to reinstate the rule. Neomi Rao, DDT’s appointment to replace Brett Cavanaugh on the DC Circuit Court, had blocked the collection. Being forced to report this information, companies provide more equal pay.

DDT wanted the Federal Reserve to stop interest increases, but he didn’t expect the reason for the decision—failing economy. The Feds expect GDP to drop to 2.1 percent, down from a 2.3 estimate three months ago, whereas DDT promised over 3 percent. DDT brags that his “economic miracle” has a 93 percent rating, but the poll was taken at the recent CPAC of the farthest-right conservatives.  Bloomberg has reported gloom in several areas: a reduction in housing activity, consumer spending and consumer confidence shrinking, falling investor confidence shown by the flattening Treasury yield curve, and February’s low job increase.

The news is full of the Robert Mueller investigation, reporting that no one knows anything. DDT warned that “people will not stand for it” if the report makes him look bad and called for his attorney general to “do what’s fair” and open investigations into Hillary Clinton, James Comey, James Clapper, and James Brennan.

March 3, 2018

DDT: Week 58 – Russia, Guns

[Note: Survivors of the Parkland (FL) school shooting cannot get a permit for their March for Our Lives on March 24 because a student group “at a local educational institution” wants to film a talent show on the Mall on that date. That permit states, “Games will be the main activity for filming,” and equipment listed “two tables, two bikes, and jump ropes.” March for Our Lives organizers planned their rally away from federal land and in D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and 12th streets NW.]

The increasing fury from the tweets of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), such as his primal scream “WITCH HUNT,” has been worsened by revelations about White House policy possibly being directed by Jared Kushner’s need for money. The debt on his Fifth Avenue property, $1.4 billion, comes due next year. Investigations show possible connections between financing for Kushner’s family business and Kushner’s discussions with Qatar, Turkey, Russia, China, and the United Arab Emirates:

  • The punishing blockade against Qatar occurred after a Qatar billionaire decided not to invest in Kushner’s business.
  • Apollo Global Management loaned Kushner $184 million, triple the average size of a typical loan, after an Apollo founder Joshua Harris, advising DDT about infrastructure, met with Kushner about a White House job for Harris.
  • Israel’s Menora Mivtachim loaned $30 million to Kushner for additional equity in 10 Maryland apartment complexes just before DDT’s trip with Jared and Ivanka last May. Since then, DDT declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
  • Citigroup loaned Kushner $325 million after Kushner met with a chief executive, Michael Corbat.

Kushner has now lost his high-level security clearance to a status below the White House chief calligrapher, which includes his losing access to DDT’s daily brief.

Robert Mueller’s investigation:

  • DDT’s attacks on AG Jeff Sessions for his handling of Sessions’ assignment of his inspector general to examine GOP accusations of FISA surveillance procedures as well as whether DDT tried to get rid of AG Jeff Sessions last summer to get control of the Russia investigation.
  • Whether DDT knew about Russia stealing DNC emails before the public was aware of the action and whether DDT knew when WikiLeaks was going to release the hacked emails. In July 2016, DDT asked Russia to find emails deleted by Hillary Clinton.
  • Whether DDT’s associate Roger Stone knew about the email information before it was public.  Stone lied about not having direct communication with WikiLeaks during DDT’s campaign. Democrats asked the House Intelligence Committee to subpoena WikiLeaks messages with Stone, but Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) and the other GOP members have refused.

Nunes did release the Democratic refutation of the GOP House Intelligence Committee memo and explanation of the warrant to surveil Carter Page. A government watchdog group filed a second ethics complaint against Nunes’ leaking private information from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) to the Fox network about the Russian interference to the media. After some of Hope Hicks’ testimony was leaked, the two top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including GOP Richard Burr (NC), told House Speaker Paul Ryan about “concerns” regarding the operations of the House committee and accusations of the GOP illegal leaking.

The scariest Russian information this week came from Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency. He reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he cannot try to stop the Kremlin meddling—and perhaps control—of U.S. elections without presidential authorization—which DDT won’t give. Members of the NSC understand that DDT would perceive any discussion of the Russian problem as a personal affront. Rogers, due to retire in April, said, “President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there’s little price to pay and that therefore ‘I can continue this activity.’”

Vladimir Putin continues to make fools of conservatives, who he calls “useful fools.” In his latest address, Putin announced Russia has an “invincible” missile moving at hypersonic speed with an “unlimited” range that renders defense “completely useless.” He said that “any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country.” DDT had no response to Putin and saved his energy for tweeting against Alex [sic] Baldwin after his performance on Saturday Night Live.

DDT has a serious problem with his animosity toward Iran. He has incessantly threatened to sever the U.S. deal with Iran to keep it from developing nuclear weapons in order to please his base. At the same time, Russia, who DDT doesn’t dare offend, is building a closeness with Iran, becoming that country’s most important ally.

DDT is scapegoating former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe by accusing him of leaking information in October 2016 about conflict within the FBI and DOJ regarding Hillary Clinton’s family foundation and then intentionally misleading investigators about what he had done. The DOJ is also investigating former FBI director James Comey, his statement about closing the cases against Clinton’s email server without charges, and his decision to announce resumption of his work in this area only ten days before the presidential election. Last May, DDT asked McCabe in a meeting who McCabe voted for in that election and attacked him in tweets about his wife taking donations from a Democrat’s PAC for her political campaign. McCabe’s retirement is scheduled for March 18.

In trouble for paying legal fees defending DDT and Donald Trump Jr. in the Russian collusion, the RNC switched the monthly $37,541.67 to rent part of Manhattan’s Trump Tower. DDT’s election campaign also paid over $470,000 in rent for space at Trump Tower during 2017. Other RNC expenditures include $427,000+ expenditures at DDT’s properties such as Trump International Hotel (Washington, D.C.), Mar-a-Lago (Palm Beach), and Trump National Doral (Miami). DDT’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller collected $75,000 for “security services” immediately after Chief of Staff John Kelly fired Schiller in September, and the RNC said that he is being paid to consult on its 2020 convention site selection. VP Mike Pence’s son, John Pence, also gets over $7,000 a month for “consulting,” and DDT political ally Brad Parscale, DDT’s former campaign digital director and newly-named 2020 campaign director, got over $882,000 from the RNC in January.

Parscale sold his digital company last year for $10 million to CloudCommerce that it has not made a profit for almost ten years and spent over $19 million in investor money since it was started almost 20 years ago. At this time, CloudCommerce has $107,000. In 2006, a top executive was caught in an FBI bribery sting and pled guilty to securities fraud. Andrew Van Noy, Cloudcommerce’s chief executive, has earned less than $9,000 in each of the past three years and has faced six-figure debts from unpaid credit cards and repossessed cars while facing two real-estate fraud lawsuits. Parscale, a member of the board, hired Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, for an undisclosed amount.

DDT hasn’t said anything about the stock market since its volatility in early February, but his announcement of tariffs—25 percent on steels and 10 percent on aluminum—caused the markets to plummet again this week. A president can legally impose tariffs with proof that imports threaten U.S. national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross doesn’t believe in the significant “trickle-down” possibility of price hikes with taxes on imports. All DDT’s advisers and the GOP legislators opposed the move except the Commerce Department. Just days before the announcement, DDT’s former adviser Carl Icahn sold $31.3 million of stock in Manitowoc, a manufacturer relying on steel. It is the first time that Icahn trade these stocks in two years. DDT’s answer to global concerns both foreign and domestic is that “trade wars are good and easy to win.”

Traumatized by the tariffs, the GOP is also suffering from DDT’s statement:

“I like taking the guns. Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

The only gun position DDT has consistently kept this week is to arm the teachers, despite objections from diverse groups. Evidence supporting the insanity of arming teachers come from increasing news such as the “Teacher of the Year” in Georgia who fired a gun in his classroom this week, the six-year-old who found his teacher’s gun that had been left on the back of a toilet and the third-grader who reached into an armed guard holster and fired his gun.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto won’t be coming to visit DDT— Peña Nieto’s second cancellation since DDT’s inauguration because DDT won’t admit that Mexico won’t be building the wall. Mexican officials said that DDT “lost his temper” during the 50-minute telephone call; U.S. officials called him frustrated and exasperated. DHS Director Kirstjen Nielsen has canceled her visit to Mexico. Jared Kushner was in charge of U.S.-Mexico relationships.

More to come about appointments, resignations, lawsuits, etc. during Week 58.

November 20, 2015

LGBT Equality Only Partial

Many same-gender couples will spend their first Thanksgiving as married couples after the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land. Yet Obergefell v. Hodges has not made LGBT families secure throughout the nation because of a myriad of roadblocks in many states.

An early obstruction came in Rowan County (KY) last summer when the county clerk, Kim Davis, refused to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples. After her contempt of court kept her in jail for a few days, she said that the county deputy clerks could issue the licenses but only after she changed the wording of the license forms and removed her name and that of Rowan County. She also ordered her deputies to sign the forms as “notary publics” instead of deputy county clerks.

Although Gov. Steven L. Beshear declared last month that the marriage licenses were valid, he has now submitted a brief with the U.S. District Court that states his office does not have the authority to determine whether these licenses are valid. Couples have filed a brief in U.S. District Court supporting their prior assertion that the Rowan County clerk’s office failed to comply with orders directing deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses without interference by Clerk Kim Davis.

ScaliaSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia angrily spoke about losing Obergefell during a speech to first-year law students at Georgetown last week. Scalia said that determining which minorities deserve protection should be made through the democratic process rather than a court decision. According to Scalia, only political and religious minorities are protected by the constitution.

Last summer’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges may have changed the perception of due process. According to Kenji Yoshino, the case may displace five decades of the high court’s substantive due process decisions. For a half century, the Court used tradition, specific definition rather than general abstraction, and the willingness to protect negative “freedom from” rights rather than positive “freedom to” rights to determine due process. Almost two decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled in Washington v. Glucksberg that due process did not cover the right to assistance in committing suicide. In Obergefell’s dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts, who declared that the majority “effectively overrule[d] Glucksberg, the leading modern case setting the bounds of substantive due process.”

The marriage equality ruling has replaced a rigid ruling on due process, according to Yoshino, with the common-law approach voiced in Justice John Harlan’s dissent for Poe v. Ullman (1961). He supported a balance of individual liberties against government interests without being “shackled to the past.” Tradition, to Harlan, was a “living thing,” a concept that Scalia despises. Instead of opposing marriage equality because of the long historical tradition against same-gender marriage, the Court majority considered the “right to marry.” The question for the future is whether Obergefell will be used to make future decisions about due process or whether the Court will revert to the past as it has many times since Roberts became chief justice.

For now, some courts and legislatures are giving same-gender couples a “partial equalty”—really an inequality—that will require the Supreme Court to take up more litigation. Custody, adoptions, fostering children, and couples’ rights after separation are most likely the next fights for same-gender couples.

Hoagland.PeirceIn Utah, Judge Scott N. Johansen ordered a nine-months-old child removed from a lesbian couple because it was “not in the best interest of children to be raised by same-sex couples.” Public outcry led to his rescinding the order, but the judge left open the possibility of removal at a December 4 hearing. Fortunately for the child, the judge has now recused himself “and refers all pending matters to be assigned by the presiding judge.”

Utah began placing children with same-gender couples after the Supreme Court decision last summer, and an infant girl was placed with married couple Rebecca A. Peirce, 34, and April M. Hoagland (above left), 38, and their two biological children in August. On November 10, 2015, the two women attended what they thought was a regular hearing, but Johansen ordered that the baby be removed within a week and given to a heterosexual couple. The Division of Child and Family Services said that it was “in the child’s best interest” to stay with the two women. Even the GOP governor joined in the protest for the judge’s decision. Gary R. Herbert said, “He may not like the law, but he should follow the law.”

As in Kentucky, the current obstacle is not necessarily the law but the attitude of government employees who discriminate against LGBT people. In the hearing, the judge said “that research has shown that children are more emotionally and mentally stable when raised by a mother and father in the same home,” but he refused to cite any sources. At this time, research is on the side of the same-gender couple with no current credible study supporting the judge’s bias.

Justice Anthony Kennedy clearly listed adoption among the rights associated with marriage, but he didn’t mention foster parenting. Until recently, most states prevented child placement with same-gender couples who were not married, and the law prevented many of these couples from being married. Several states permit private placement agencies to discriminate against same-gender couples, but Mississippi is the only state that flagrantly enforces a state law banning adoptions by same-gender couples.

smith and Phillips adoptionFour couples are challenging the Mississippi ban on adoptions by same-gender couples, including Janet Smith and her wife, Donna Phillips (right). The state is blocking Smith’s adoption of Donna’s eight-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie. The two married women are raising Hannah together, but Smith has no legal status in regards to their daughter. Phillips, a captain in the Mississippi Air National Guard, is “concerned about legal aspects for Jan” if she is called or activated. This lack of legal recognition puts children at risk of losing both their parents and ending up in foster care if something happens to their birth parent and their other parent is not legally recognized.

Last year, 29 percent of Mississippi’s same-gender couples were raising children younger than 18, the highest percentage of any state. A year ago, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves found the adoption ban to be unconstitutional, but the decision was stayed pending action by the Fifth Circuit and then the Supreme Court. Ronnie Musgrove, the governor who signed the ban into law 15 years ago, has written that he regrets his action. “As I have gotten older, I came to understand that a person’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to be a good parent.”

Another Mississippi couple, Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, has waited 15 years for a second-parent adoption of the child they raised together since he was born just six weeks before the ban went into effect. Two other couples, also plaintiffs in the case, want to adopt children from foster care. Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford wanted to take a child with special needs who could not be matched with other foster parents. They were told that they would have to live apart for at least six months during a home study, and only one of them could adopt the child.

The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review an Alabama case in which judges refuse to recognize an adoption granted in another state. A lesbian known in court filings by her initials V.L. helped raise the children, now ages 10 to 12, but has no visitation rights since the couple separated. During their 16-year relationship, the two women had three children from sperm donors, and a Georgia court approved V.L.’s adoption of the children in 2007. In September 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court struck down the woman’s visitation rights and ruled the adoption invalid, saying the Georgia court was wrong under that state’s adoption laws to grant it. Earlier this year, the same court directed probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-gender couples even after a federal judge ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

The case involves a constitutional provision requiring one state to respect court orders of other states: Article IV’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. Lawyers for V.L. wrote that the decision “would create a massive loophole in the Full Faith and Credit Clause.”  They added, “There is no legal or practical basis for singling out adoptions as uniquely unworthy of full faith and credit.” If states don’t recognize adoptions from other states, LGBT parents can lose their parental rights when they travel, for example the inability to make medical decisions for their children if they are in an accident. V.L.’s attorneys have also applied to the Supreme Court for a stay of the Alabama’s ruling so that she can visit the children during the appeal. Justice Clarence Thomas, the justice with jurisdiction in Alabama for emergency actions, has called for E. L., the biological mother, to respond to the stay applications by November 30.

LGBT discrimination

Despite last summer’s ruling that same-gender couples can marry, 61 percent of the LGBT population “will continue to live in states with medium or low legal protections—or that have outright hostile laws,” according to the report Mapping LGBT Equality in America, released earlier this year. Since this map was released in early October, all of Houston (TX) LGBT people lost their rights in the November election.

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