Nel's New Day

February 23, 2019

Hope from Elections, Courts

In a desperate move last fall after Democratic governors and state legislators were elected, several GOP-dominated state legislative bodies passed laws that would hamstring the elective preferences of the people. The Wake County Superior Court has determined that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly cannot put constitutional amendments on the ballot because it lacked the full will of the state’s people. The court voided two of these amendments related to a photo voter ID requirement and lowering of the state income tax cap. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that many of North Carolina’s legislative districts were illegally drawn on racial lines and required that 117 districts be redrawn by the 2018 election. Legislators from the illegally-drawn lines passed the two amendments that tend “to favor white households” and would “reinforc[e] the accumulation of wealth for white taxpayers,” according to a lawsuit.

North Carolina is also the only state without a seated representative in the U.S. House from the 2018 election. This past week, the state election board unanimously required a new election for the seat that Baptist pastor Mark Harris claimed to have won by 905 votes after he stepped down. The election board had investigated Harris and his employee who had been accused with “stuffing the ballot box” by requesting, collecting, and completing absentee ballots in favor of Republicans. A closer look at Harris’ actions shows more anomalies. One was Harris’ testimony that he paid the employee through a PAC, a violation of election laws, and then tried to retract that statement several times later in the day. North Carolina has never addressed the type of voter fraud that Harris exhibited, concentrating instead of non-existent “in-person” voter fraud in the GOP attempts to restrict Democratic voting.

Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman is bringing investigation findings of the 9th District election fraud in both 2016 and 2018 to a grand jury next month. She took the case from Marion Warren, the director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, after it was discovered that Warren had introduced Mark Harris to his employee, who is now under scrutiny. Warren has announced a new job at Regent University School of Law in Virginia next month.

David Whitley, Texas’ acting Secretary of State, needs to have two-thirds of a vote for confirmation. His problem is that he inaccurately stated that 95,000 possible noncitizens registered to vote in the state before checking his facts—that tens of thousands of them are citizens. He did apologize for his “mistake,” but 12 Democrats are refusing to vote for him in committee, which would sink his nomination requiring a two-thirds state Senate vote for success. Whitley still hasn’t retracted the list although one of his deputies said the office knew that flagged voters included names of naturalized citizens. The office used outdated driver’s license data to determine citizenships so there is no accurate count of voter fraud. The state is now facing three federal lawsuits over Whitley’s actions, at least one of them about voter disenfranchisement for the March 2, 2019 election. Verifying Whitley’s misinformation is a nightmare, especially for large counties, because Texas law mandates voter registration on paper only. Verifying naturalization also causes problems because data on ceremonies is limited to counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court made an amazing decision this past week—and did it unanimously. All nine justices ruled that states cannot ignore the Constitution when imposing fines or confiscating people’s property in civil or criminal cases. Although to many of us, the ruling sounds like common sense, but states have been confiscating money and property for centuries, but the profits made by governments accelerated with a 1978 federal law. Although the law may seem reasonable on its surface, law enforcement officials have been taking money from people even if they aren’t charged with any crime and then keeping it. By 2018, the DOJ had about $1.5 billion in its forfeiture fund. Reporters have found several cases when people were pulled over with no justification and had their money taken with no proof of a crime. After the police took $11,000, a college student’s life savings, he had to fight in court to get his money returned.

The high court heard Timbs v. Indiana, a case in which police kept a $42,000 Land Rover purchased with legal funds after Tyson Timbs was charged in selling two grams of heroin to an undercover officer. The maximum fine for the infraction was $10,000—four times less than the value of his vehicle that he lost. Indiana is one of four states that claims that the Constitution didn’t cover state law. The justices found that keeping the Land Rover violated the Eighth Amendment’s “excessive fines clause” that applies to state and local courts as well as federal ones.

In a win for Montana, after the Supreme Court wiped out its campaign finance law in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock (2012), the high court let stand the state’s Disclose Act requiring the disclosure of donors to groups spending money or mentioning a candidate with 60 days of a state-level elections. A lower court had ruled the law constitutional, and the Supreme Court declined to take the case. Montana is the third state after New York and California to have disclosure laws for dark money.

A federal judge in Seattle told the Defense Department that it may not require soldiers who are naturalized citizens to undergo “continuous monitoring,” security checks every two years if the military doesn’t scrutinize U.S.-born soldiers in the same way. The 17 plaintiffs are among the 10,000 who enlisted in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that recruits immigrants with critical foreign language or medical skills in exchange for a fast track to citizenship. In mid-2018, the Pentagon began discharging MAVNI participants but reversed the policy a month later.

The research into which whities wore blackface in the past went deep after a photo allegedly with Virginia Ralph Northam (D) initiated the media examination during Black History Month. Most of the photos lacked captions, but 78 USA Today reporters, assigned to the search, found one in the 1989 Arizona State University’s yearbook. Their current editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll was editor of that yearbook and designer of the page with the blackface photo. She has apologized.

Oregon is considering a bill that would drop the voting age from 18 to 16. If the legislature passes the measure, it would be on the 2020 ballot for a vote by the people. My first thought was that 16-year-olds are too young to vote—until I read this article about a 12-year-old journalist. This past week, Hilde Kate Lysiak visited Patagonia (AZ) on the trail of a stories including resident’s opinions about the Border Patrol and the proposed border wall when Joseph Patterson, who passes for the small town’s police chief, stopped her and asked for ID. She gave him her telephone number and address before she told him that she was a member of the press. Patterson said, “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom-of-the-press stuff.” He also threatened to have her arrested and thrown into juvey. [Photo by James Moorehead]

Lysiak decided to tape him when she asked him what she was doing that was illegal. Patterson sat in his white Chevy Silverado truck and said, “You taping me? You can tape me, okay, but what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the Internet, it’s against the law in Arizona.”

The conversation continued as he accused her of lying to him and disobeying his commands. He finally told her, “I’ll be getting a hold of your parents” before he drove off. When Lysiak posted the video to her blog later, she explained that the first Amendment protects recording a law enforcement official in a public place that no law prevents her actions. She also posted her story about the wall.

Lysiak reported on a murder in her hometown when she was nine and has reported on bank robberies, alleged rapes, and other crimes in her Orange Street News, which she helped found almost five years ago and publishes from her parents’ home in Selinsgrove (PA).

Patagonia has taken action against Patterson but won’t say what that is. This is not the first time that Patterson has threatened people with arrest after they started to video him, but it’s the first time that he went after a 12-year-old—and the first time that he had to back down. Lysiak’s taping of Patterson’s threats has received almost 250,000 views and almost 1,000 comments.

I’d pick 12-year-old Hilde Lysiak as an educated voter over Joseph Patterson any time.

January 14, 2019

H.R. 1:  Imagine If the Swamp Really Got Drained

Day 24 of the government shutdown: A record-breaking snowfall has shut down Washington while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left on a trip to New Orleans to speak at the National Farm Bureau Federation. He told them he liked farmers and that everything would be fine with the shutdown before he launched into a gory description of a woman attack at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Fox network cut away from the speech after DDT began talking about how undocumented immigrants appear at court hearings are “not smart.” Demonstrators outside the convention center chanted “lock him up.” Earlier DDT tweeted that his speech was in Nashville (TN). [Left: The Korean War Memorial, Kevin Ambrose]

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll, a majority of people opposes the wall (54 percent) and blames DDT and the GOP for the shutdown (53 percent). The new CNN poll is higher—56 percent opposing a wall and 55 percent blaming the GOP. Opposition to the declaration of a national emergency to build a wall is at 66 percent, but only 24 percent believes DDT’s description of a “crisis” at the Mexico border.

Those who claim that DDT is not a racist should note how he made his case for wall with his tweet touting Pat Buchanan’s recent column:

“The more multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual America becomes—the less it looks like Ronald Reagan’s America—the more dependably Democratic it will become. The Democratic Party is hostile to white men, because the smaller the share of the U.S. population that white men become, the sooner that Democrats inherit the national estate.”

Nothing says GOP like the color white.

My favorite shutdown story of the week: Today Kate Brown, elected twice for Oregon governor, was sworn in. Three days ago, she tweeted the story of how her husband, Dan Little, recently cleaned up a bathroom at the Mt. Hood National Forest Sno-Park southeast of Portland. This photo shows what the public does to public spaces if there is no staff to clean up after them. Little cleaned up the bathroom, hauled off the trash, and then sent a bill of $28 for “Trash Removal” to DDT. Like other national parks, Sno-Park is still open with the public leaving trash and human waste everywhere. The story is an example of how people care about their surroundings even if others don’t mind making them into a pigsty.

Instead of working to open the federal government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled a third week trying to give states the right to discriminate against companies that boycott Israel. McConnell is sticking to his program of not putting forward any bills that DDT doesn’t like.

DDT may be backing off on his suggestion of declaring a “national emergency” to get his wall. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) always echoes DDT’s approach. A few days ago, he said “Build a wall!” Last Sunday, he went to the “last option” statement. The House conservative Freedom Caucus also opposes the emergency excuse because of legal standoffs and the strategy leading to tactics for Medicare for all or other progressive “emergency” ideas. Meanwhile DDT sat in the White House last weekend and waited for Democrats to come to him and give him his wall while legislators in both parties went home for the weekend. The House has already approved four funding bills to reopen parts of the government.

Two more weeks of the shutdown will cost the U.S. economy more than building the DDT’s vanity wall. If the government shutdown lasts another two weeks, the total cost to the U.S. economy would exceed the price of building the proposed border wall. In this estimate, S&P Global Ratings included lost productivity by furloughed workers and dropping sales for government contractors. No paychecks for 800,000 federal workers or IRS tax refunds equals at last $2 billion per week, according to Wells Fargo analysts. The 16-day shutdown in 2013 cut 0.4 percent from the fourth quarter GDP that year.

During DDT’s campaign, people believed his lie that he wants to help the working people. The shutdown is another example of how he has no concern for the plight for the workers; he’s ruining federal workers in the same way that he has spent decades cheating the people who worked for his business by refusing to pay for their work. He claims that he needs to keep his promise to get the wall—skipping the part of the promise about Mexico paying for the wall—but he has broken his promise to coal miners who have lost health protections, safety, wages, and even their jobs, just to mention a few ways that he has cheated his base.

Although Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) accuses the Democrats of inaction, the House has already passed four bills to open the government and fund several of the agencies. In addition, the House added these new rules to its operations: a ban on members serving on corporate boards, a requirement that members take ethics training every year, and a ban on employment discrimination against LGBTQ staffers and jobseekers. In the first few days, the House also created For the People Act, H.R.1, the number given to the bill considered the most important of the session. Provisions of this bill are intended to overcome the travesties of GOP actions in the 21st century–i.e., to “drain the swamp.” DDT’s and the GOP behavior has given an extensive list of ideas for reform. Following are some of the bill’s provisions:

Voting Rights

Access:

  • Removes barriers to the ballot box such as difficult registration systems and limited voting hours.
  • Creates nationwide automatic voter registration.
  • Restores voting fights to people who complete felony sentences.
  • Expands voting by mail.
  • Mandates a minimum of two weeks for early voting with locations accessible by public transportation.
  • Eliminate postage for absentee ballots.
  • Guarantees that ballots cast in the wrong precinct but within the home county will be counted.
  • Requires all provisional ballots to be counted.
  • Prevents states from imposing restrictions on voting by mail.
  • Creates options for same-day and online registration.
  • Designate colleges and universities as registration agencies.
  • Make Election Day a holiday for federal workers.

Integrity:

  • Affirms congressional right to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which granted the Justice Department veto power over jurisdictions with histories of voting discrimination.
  • Confirms the federal government’s power to protect Native American voting.
  • Prohibits voter roll purges by overturning a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that put the onus on voters instead of government to keep registrations up to date.
  • Ends partisan gerrymandering by requiring a nonpartisan redistricting commission in every state.

Security:

  • Eliminates involvement in elections by foreign countries.
  • Pays for modernized voting systems.
  • Supports voting system security including paper ballots.
  • Increases oversight over election vendors.

Campaign Finance

Disclosure:

  • Requires super PACs and other organizations involved in political activity to disclose donors giving more than $10,000.
  • Mandates that large digital platforms maintain a public archive of all political ads and prevent foreigners from directly or indirectly buying ads.
  • Requires government contractors and presidential inaugural committees to disclose their political spending.

Empowerment:

  • Creates a multiple matching system for small donations.
  • Reaffirms congressional authority of regulation of money in politics.
  • Asserts that Citizens United was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court and Congress has authority to regulate campaign contributions and expenditures.

Oversight: 

  • Bans the use of shell companies that funnel foreign money into U.S. campaigns and campaign contributions from corporations with significant foreign ownership.
  • Calls for the IRS to create new rules for non-profit political spending.
  • Defines a “coordinated” expense among political allies.

Enforce existing laws:

  • Tightens rules on super PACs.
  • Restructures the Federal Election Commission to break gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms.
  • Repeals Senate riders that prevent government agencies from requiring commonsense disclosure of political spending.

Ethics and Accountability

Fortification of Ethics Law:

  • Expands conflict of interest law and divestment requirements.
  • Prevents members of Congress from serving on corporate boards
  • Requires presidential candidates to disclose ten years of tax returns.

Greater Ethics Enforcement:

  • Overhauls the Office of Government Ethics.
  • Provides sufficient resources to watchdogs to enforce the law.
  • Creates a code of ethics for the Supreme Court to govern conflicts of interest and recusals.
  • Requires that ethics waivers be publicly disclosed.
  • Governs possible conflicts of interest from previously received political contributions.
  • Gives the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) final approval over executive branch recusals, exemptions, or waivers from ethics laws or regulations.
  • Allows the OGE to investigate violations of ethics laws and author to provide remedies.
  • Limits the President’s ability to remove the director of OGE only for cause.

Foreign lobbying:

  • Closes registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents.
  • Gives the OGE authority to levy civil fines for offenders.

Reading through this wish list of reforms, people will claim that Republicans will never agree—and they are right. The GOP of the 21st century knows that they cannot elect their candidates if everyone votes. That’s the reason that they violate ethics, codes of conduct, conflicts of interest, fair voting practices, transparent donations—in short, cheat to get their own way. Republicans no longer believe in democracy; they just want to get their own way. [Caveat: if the GOP embrace these ideas, I will profusely apologize.]

December 27, 2018

Disasters in Iraq, More Bad news in North Carolina

Day Six of the Government Shutdown:  The Senate returned today for four minutes to discuss the federal shutdown and then went home until the afternoon of January 2, the last day of the 115th Congress. The House lasted two minutes and 55 seconds. Republicans denied the attempt of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to get a vote on legislation to reopen the government. DDT’s only visibility are his irate tweets.

Nine federal departments and several federal agencies stay unfunded, leaving 25 percent of the government unable to continue operations. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said that the Democratic House may put forward a bill to fund the government without the wall on its first day of January 3. The legislation would mirror the bipartisan Senate bill passed last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) refused to sign any budget bill without his wall. All bills passed before January 3 expire, and the Senate would have to repass the legislation with seven new members. The the Office of Personnel Management shared advice for federal workers such as doing building chores in exchange for reduced rent.

DDT said he was “proud” to cause the shutdown and would wear the “mantle.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted primarily before the beginning of the shutdown shows that 47 percent of adults agree that he is to blame. Only seven percent fault Republicans in Congress with another 33 percent blaming the Democrats.

On Christmas Day, DDT tweeted, with no evidence that “many” of the 800,000 workers without paychecks want him to hold out for the wall and that they’re doing “just fine.” By today, he declared that most of those workers are “Democrats.”

After 706 days in office, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) visited troops in a combat zone for the first time since he was inaugurated. The visit occurred the week after he announced victory over ISIS, a claim that his Pentagon and State Department disputed, and the same day that the New York Times blew the whistle on DDT’s claims of bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam War. Reports from a podiatrist’s doctor’s daughter describe how Fred Trump may have kept his son from the Vietnam War draft. Long ridiculed for using bone spurs as an excuse, DDT received his medical exemption from Dr. Larry Braunstein, according to his daughters who said Braunstein talked about doing a favor for DDT’s father. Braunstein practiced in one of dozens of buildings that Fred Trump owned in Jamaica, Queens. Dr. Manny Weinstein, who lived in two Brooklyn apartments owned by Trump, may have also been involved. Weinstein died in 1995, and Braunstein in 2007. DDT always said that he had a high lottery number, but that process didn’t begin until a year after his bone spur 1-Y exemption. DDT’s earlier exemption as a student came from his attending Wharton, thanks in part to “an interview with a friendly Wharton admissions officer who was one of [his father’s] old high school classmates,” according to Gwenda Blair’s book The Trumps.

While talking to the troops in Iraq, DDT repeated his lies—that they were getting “one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received” and that they “haven’t gotten one in more than ten years.” He continued, “I got you a big one,” claiming that it is over ten percent. Fact check: U.S. troops received pay raises for every year back to 1975 except for 1983. The latest pay raise was 2.6 percent. And there was no debate with anyone who wanted smaller races.

DDT tweeted video of his meeting in Iraq with members of a Navy Seal team on covert operations who were wearing camouflage gear with night vision goggles, putting the men into danger. Their location was considered classified—until DDT announced it. A Defense Department official said that it is the first time that special-ops forces serving in a war zone didn’t have their faces covered or digitally blurred for a photo release. The troops who asked DDT to autograph their MAGA hats might also be violating the DOD’s position on politics.

Although DDT outed special ops, possibly putting them in danger, he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials during his three hours in their country. He said that the trip had been planned for three weeks, but Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance. The prime minister said that any meeting was canceled because of a disagreement of how to conduct the session. After DDT’s visit, Iraqi politicians and lawmakers, angered and insulted by DDT’s swift and unannounced visit, demanded that U.S. troops leave Iraq. Sabah al-Saadi, leader of Iraq’s Islah parliamentary bloc, asked that an emergency parliament “discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.”

DDT also raised conflict in South Africa, not for the first time, by tweeting that State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo should investigate the “killing of farmers” and “land and farm seizures” there. The South African government declared DDT “misinformed” and accused him of stoking racial divisions. The country’s rand currency dropped over 1.5 percent against the U.S. dollar. Farm murders are at a 20-year low, and conservative Australian politicians have falsified the number of deaths last year.

The trip wasn’t even kept a secret. An amateur plane enthusiast and photographer spotted Air Force One over Sheffield, England on its way to Iraq. According to Alan Meloy, the only two VC-25s alternate as Air Force One. He posted his photograph on Flickr, and the secret was out three hours before the plane landed at Al Asad Airbase west of Baghdad.

Distressed about DDT’s moves to pull out troops from the Middle East, GOP senators are looking for someone to stand up to DDT now that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has died. The name of Utah’s incoming GOP senator, Mitt Romney, has been tossed out as a solution to take this role—sort of “let Mikey try it.” Evidently no sitting senator has the courage to take on the task.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), known for choosing his words carefully, sent out one of his most critical statements to date, saying he was “distressed” to read Mattis’s reasons for resigning. He added that Trump should pick a successor who shares Mattis’s “understanding” of the “vital principles” that he outlined in his resignation letter. He didn’t. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said he didn’t believe Trump’s views on foreign policy aligned in many ways with his or most Republicans’.

“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and probably Democrats, elected and unelected,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), asked about Mattis, quipped that he was “still depressed” and “too emotional” to talk about the impending departure. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) said “the vast majority of senators both Democratic and Republican are totally opposed to this policy. We’re trying to get the administration to rethink it.”

Asked if he thought Trump understood foreign policy, the highly conservative senator smiled briefly before adding, “I kind of scratch my head.”

Senators need to get started if they have any involvement in DDT’s decisions about the Middle East.

The North Carolina 9th District issue of election fraud keeps getting worse. In the midst of the GOP candidate’s absentee ballot harvesting to create his win, the state legislature passed an override of the governor’s veto that permits the state elections board to hide any allegations of campaign law violations. The new law also requires new primaries and general election for the 9th District if the board determines that fraud existed in the 2018 election, a law that would force primaries on innocent participants as well as the guilty. The GOP legislature rushed to pass the law because it loses its veto-proof majority at the end of December. At that time, a lawsuit has reinstated the power of overseeing elections, ethics enforcement, and lobbyist reporting to the governor after a GOP legislature removed it from the Democratic governor, changing a century-long practice.

Another problem is that the state Supreme Court dissolved the current elections board as of tomorrow. The board had scheduled a hearing on the 9th District issue on January 11, 2019. Because the state board of elections has not certified Mark Harris as the winner of the 9th District election, Harris cannot go to the U.S. House with the newly elected members on January 3. The governor may be able to appoint a new elections board, but the bill passed into law by the state legislature today mandates that the board doesn’t take effect until January 31, 2019. The House can also refuse to seat a candidate until after an investigation. The 116th Congress will most likely start with 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one vacancy.

Before the shutdown, DDT’s approval rating had dropped to 39 percent, the lowest since he was inaugurated. It’s not likely that these events will bolster the figures.

 

December 26, 2018

Government Shutdown, North Carolina Election Fraud

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Day Five of Government Shutdown:  Adam Taylor points out three ways that the closure of over half the federal government by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) affects the entire world:

People: Those employed at U.S. embassies are required to work without paychecks in any shutdown, but they may not be paid at the end of the debacle, especially non-U.S. citizens contracted to work for the U.S. government.

Procedure: The State Department claims that it will issue passports and visas throughout the shutdown, but other services may not be provided. The Department told U.S. citizens to follow the embassy Twitter account in Jakarta after Indonesia’s tsunami that killed at least 429 people but the embassy tweeted that the shutdown has stopped regular tweets. The U.S. Geological Survey could also not provide data on the tsunami. A shutdown stops no new funding commitments or obligations except to protect life and property; further restrictions may be implemented.

Prestige: Most other political systems don’t leave hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay because of a political dispute. Of the 22 federal government shutdowns in the past 40 years, three have been in just the past year.

The shutdown caused lights to be turned off the National Christmas Tree near the White House because of no repairs after a man climbed the tree before the shutdown. A National Park Foundation grant got the lights back on by Christmas Eve. Roads at national parks are not plowed, and no one services trash and toilets. A holiday organ concert was not held in Mount Vernon (NY) because St. Paul’s Church is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service. Tickets to Alcatraz Cruises were refunded, and bald eagles were safe from voyeurs on the Skagit River in Washington state when observation of their migration was closed. The sled dog puppy webcam from Denali National Park (Alaska) was one of several shut down. The panda site at the National Zoo in Washington was supposedly operating, but not when I tried to connect. You can get the one in China.

The shutdown is all about DDT’s desire for a “wall.” [Orange lines above are fences already in place.] In his desperation to please his base, he tweeted:

“I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.”

He added on Christmas Day that he got a “great price.” Those statements contain a few lies:

  • A president cannot give out a contract; only  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may award contracts for border wall construction after Congress approves funding.
  • Congress approved funding for 33 miles in the Rio Grande Valley last March, and CBP announced in November that the construction would begin in February 2019.
  • The approved funding last March for 84 miles, including the 33 miles in Texas, may cost about $22 million per mile with a contract costing $313 million for 14 of those miles.

The 33 miles include the nonprofit National Butterfly Center, a state park, and privately owned ranches and farmland. Another $5 billion that DDT demands in exchange for closing the shutdown could build 215 miles, including 159 miles in Texas. The U.S. already has 653 miles of border fence, funded in 2006, at a cost of $2.3 per mile in 2015, ten percent of the projected cost in 2019, because the fence, on easier terrain, also had a less complicated design. More detailed information about the wall.

The Senate has one week to pass funding for the wall before the GOP-dominated House disappears for the next two years. The session begins tomorrow at 4:00 pm. DDT has dropped his $5 billion demand to $2.1 billion plus $400 million as DDT’s “slush fund” for his other immigration priorities and more money to secure the border with no requirement, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is sticking at $1.3 billion. Even with a miracle, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be forced to drag the representatives back to Washington at the end of the week to vote on a Senate bill, and the approximately 70 Republicans who won’t be returning to the House next year, almost one-third of the GOP members, may be reluctant go to that effort.

When the 116th Congress takes effect on January 3, 2019, a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District won’t be present. After DDT’s two-year obsession with “voter fraud,” even the claim that all of Hillary Clinton’s popularity majority of three million people came from “illegal aliens,” the problem of election fraud is front and center in at least two North Carolina counties  The media exposed the practice of Republicans paid to collect absentee ballots and either change or destroy them to favor GOP U.S. House candidate Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist minister for over three decades. In the past eight weeks, the news about GOP illegal behavior has spread although Republicans waited almost a month to express concern about the election fraud.

Harris’ campaign owes over $34,000 to Red Dome Group for its contract with Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. who illegally collected absentee ballots, an action that put Harris ahead in the race for U.S. House by 905 votes. Voters have testified that they gave their signed ballots to someone who came to their houses and asked for them, ballots which were never counted. Others did not fill out the signed ballot before they gave it to the person who asked for them.   Harris deliberately directed the hiring of Dowless because of the operative’s shady tactics.

In 2016, Dowless paid $225 to two ballot harvesters for each ballot, half for completed ballot request forms and the other half for the ballots themselves. He provided a “sample ballot” to show which candidates should be selected and coached them on what to say if they were caught harvesting ballots. Ten days after DDT’s inauguration, N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned his administration about the illegal absentee ballot activities in Bladen County and urgently requested criminal charges against Dowless. In February 2017, state investigators had the first of several in-person meetings providing FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence about criminal activity by Dowless and others. By then, DDT had fired DOJ’s deputy AG Sally Yates, who was acting as AG, and DDT’s AG replacement took no action. Instead he told his staff to prosecute a few non-citizens who had allegedly voted among over 6.9 million citizens. Several of those prosecutions were against longtime legal permanent residents; four of those prosecuted pleaded guilty with the only sentence, a $200 fine, against an Italian man who legally lived in the U.S. since 1985.

Earlier this year, Harris’ opponent in the primary warned the state and national GOP officials about possible fraud after 96 percent of absentee ballots were marked in favor of Harris. The North Carolina elections board issued subpoenas to the Harris campaign and Red Dome Group, and the Wake County district attorney’s office in Raleigh, the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and federal prosecutors are examining voting irregularities in the 9th District.

Harris’ illegal actions were compounded by the Bladen County board illegally counting early votes three days before Election Day and possibly sharing the result with the candidate. In 2016, Dowless said that Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw knew his staffers illegally put their initials in the corner of ballots they returned. Shaw retired last month before her scheduled January 1 retirement. Dowless also admitted that he took cash from the campaign to pay his workers to elect Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVickers at the request of former GOP Chairman Landon Bordeaux. Several hundred absentee ballots “were physically seen and confirmed as votes for sheriff McVicker by Mr. Dowless.”

The state GOP sticks with Harris, who has said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing.” By December 17 the state GOP and Harris’ GOP officials demanded that Harris be certified as the winner and seated in the House. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/roy-cooper-to-veto-bill-with-race-redo-unless-sections-removed    On December 18, the North Carolina GOP legislature passed a bill to have a new primary and general election for Harris’ district that includes cover for lobbyists and those who violate campaign finance law. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation because of the latter provisions.

The state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement rescheduled its hearing about absentee ballot fraud for January 11, 2019 because investigators are looking into activities in both Bladen and Robeson counties. One option is to hold a general election for the race with Harris, the GOP nominee, unless he dies or moves out of state. Another is to begin the process with a primary. If no candidate were to win more than 30 percent of the vote, a second primary would be required to select a candidate with a plurality. That would be followed by the general election. need to be triggered to determine the nominee.

North Carolina is also the state where the modern power-stripping trend began. In 2016, Republican legislators passed a law to hamstring the governor’s office after a Democrat won that seat.

Now the state is using election fraud to push for more voter suppression.

 

November 9, 2015

Ben Carson Stories, Election Fraud in Kentucky?

[Follow-up to Saturday’s blog on election fraud: Until last week’s election in Kentucky, the polls showed Kentucky democrat Jack Conway leading Tea Party extremist Matt Bevin by a margin of 3 to 5 points, but Bevin gained almost 15 points on Election Day, supposedly winning by a nine-point margin. The same state voted for Democrats Secretary of State Alison Lundergan and Attorney General Andy Bashir. This “significant anomaly” indicates a strong indication of rigging the vote. Richard Charnin published results that found “cumulative vote shares indicate likely fraud.” His methodology and results are here.

Kentucky has a history of vote rigging: in 2011, “eight former Clay County, Kentucky officials were convicted on conspiracy charges, after it was discovered that they had rigged elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006,” according to Brad Friedman. Among the eight are “a circuit court judge, a county magistrate, an election commissioner, a county clerk, a polling place officer, an election officer, a school superintendent. The conspiracy also included business owners who were receiving county and city contracts.”

In the GOP presidential race, Ben Carson may have surpassed Donald Trump in the number of hits on the Internet. That accomplishment, however, may not be a positive force for Carson’s presidential campaign. As Carson ascended in the polls, searches in his background showed his increasingly outrageous comments. Four years ago, Mitt Romney was the “post-truth” candidate”; Carson has joined Romney in adding “post-knowledge” to the post-truth piece.

Carson believes that God helped Joseph to build the Egyptian pyramids to be grain silos and not tombs. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph was taken to Egypt and interpreted  the Pharaoh’s dream, causing Egypt to save grain before a time of famine. The Bible contained nothing about the pyramids. Carson lives in a bubble of biblical literalism and magical homeopathic cancer-curing drugs. His speech about the grain storage in the pyramids was made 15 years ago, he still supports this belief.

Texts going back to 2400 B.C. shows that the pyramids were to help pharaohs get to their afterlife. In the tombs were directions on the walls to guide the spirits to the gods and treasures useful to the pharaoh after death. The tombs also didn’t have enough space for grain storage.

Trying to justify why an inexperienced person like himself should be president, Carson said, “It is important to remember that amateurs built the Ark and it was the professionals that built the Titanic.” The question is whether people would select an amateur to perform brain surgery on them rather than a highly trained professional. Those who maintain than an “outsider” with no experience is more qualified to be president have no evidence. Carson also tried to excuse his inexperience by saying that not one signer of the U.S. Constitution had ever been elected to office. In fact, 28 of the 58 signers of the Declaration of Independence were prior office holders.

While signing books in Florida, Carson said that the birthright citizenship in the constitution’s 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. Unlike others who think that another constitutional amendment is required, he said, “The interpretation [of the 14th Amendment] is left up to the Congress. They don’t have to amend it. They just have to reinterpret it.” According to the U.S. Constitution, he’s wrong.

Carson will now receive Secret Service protection that he requested because of great danger from “the secular progressive movement.” The veracity of such a statement is highly doubtful as more and more indication of his falsehoods has inundated the Internet.

Carson was also caught in an open lie about his background with a nutritional-supplement company under fire for fraudulently practices. He said he had nothing to do with it although videos show him advertising the product.

In his autobiography, Carson claims that he was offered a “full scholarship” to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Yet West Point has no scholarships because no one is charged for attending the school. Carson finally admitted that he had not applied to West Point but claimed that someone suggested he should go there. Carson’s campaign did admit that he made up the story in Gifted Hands that he was “the Junior ROTC at a dinner for Congressional Medal of Honor winners [and] marched at the front of Detroit’s Memorial Day parade as head of an ROTC contingent.”

Known in the past for being level-headed, Carson descended to a rant against a reporter who asked about the West Point story, accusing the media of not running “this level of scrutiny for President Barack Obama.” Carson’s memory does not include the heat on all many issues against the president, including the consistent accusation that President Obama was not born in the United States. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received heat equal to, and perhaps more, than President Obama while not raving about the unfair media. The president may have said it best, early in his first term:

“I think it’s fair to say that I don’t always get my most favorable coverage on Fox, but I think that’s how democracy works. We’re not supposed to all be in lock step here.”

No one has been able to verify Carson’s story that he protected white students from attacks by angry black students on the day after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968.

According to Carson in his book Gifted Hands, a Yale psychology professor told the class, Perceptions 301, that they had to retake the examination because their final exams had burned up. Carson wrote that every student in the class except him walked out. The story of the burned exams was a hoax, and Carson was declared “the most honest student in the class” with his photo taken for the Yale Daily News. Yet there is no record of the event of the photo that was supposedly taken in the early 1970s. There’s not even a class called Perceptions 301 although Carson posted a link for a similar class, Psychology 323b, that was offered in Spring 2002.

Reporters have been unable to find anyone to verify Carson’s stories that he punched a seventh-grade classmate in the head while holding a lock and tried to stab a classmate named “Bob” in ninth grade. One classmate Gerald Ware said that if it had happened, “it would have been all over the school.” Sometimes when Carson tells the story, “Bob” is a classmate; at other times, he is a family member. Asked if “Bob” was his brother, he refused to answer. If Carson lied about the story, he broke a commandment; if he told the truth, people should remember the Bible’s story of Abel and Cain.

Carson believes he is a famous neurosurgeon because God gave him the answers to a chemistry final in a dream. His home is a shrine to himself, including a painting of himself with Jesus Christ. A painted portrait with Jesus hangs in his house’s hallway. [Photo by Mark Makela]

CarsonJesus

While candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie use family members and friends to campaign against harsh punishment for drug users, Carson said they had a lack of values and principles. The whole drug abuse problem is traced back to an over-emphasis on “political correctness,” according to Carson.

In a post on Science Blogs, a physician with the pseudonym Orac gave two reasons for the dichotomy between Carson being a brilliant surgeon and suffering from anti-science views. People with low expertise in a subject overestimate their confidence in that area contrasted to experts who underestimate their expertise, acknowledge less certainty, and recognize the limits of their knowledge. Entering medical school, students are told they are the “best of the best,” destined to be top dogs with great power and privilege. That makes doctors sometimes believe that they are experts in other subjects.

Frequently the most intelligent people are the most avid believers in pseudoscience, and they have the skill to protect their pre-existing beliefs. That may be why Ben Carson thinks that gay rights is a Communist plot with President Obama as part of the Communist conspiracy to bring down the United States and that the theory of evolution comes from Satan.

Carson tries to play both sides of the field. He either dismisses expert opinions by doubling down when questioned about them or panders in a reversal of positions, for example his switch regarding school vaccine mandates during the first GOP debate. Neither one is an attribute for a good president.

Lacking a professional background in politics, Carson uses his personal experiences as his campaign, saying that “honesty is more important than political experience.” He appears to have neither.

Tomorrow night is the fourth GOP presidential debate and the first one since all these questions about Carson have been widely publicized. Topics are jobs, taxes, the “general health of the economy,” and international issues. If the moderators don’t bring up Carson’s controversies, Donald Trump most likely will.

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