Nel's New Day

September 3, 2019

Courts Still Help ‘We the People’

August may be a time for Congress and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take a hiatus, but the courts keep chugging along. Here are a few highlights:

Voting:

Today, North Carolina’s state court ruled the GOP legislative gerrymandering unconstitutional and gave specific guidelines to the GOP state legislature in redrawing the lines within two weeks by September 18. Other gerrymandered states such as Wisconsin, Maryland, and Texas could follow the same directions.

Mississippi shows how bad gerrymandering can be. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling forcing the legislature to redraw the 102-mile-long state Senate District 22 spanning parts of six countries. The districting, done in 2012, diluted black voter strength to re-elect a Republican. Multiple voting machines in nine counties during last week’s Mississippi election switched votes and kept voters from their choices during a gubernatorial runoff race. The machines preferred Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves who won the runoff with 54 percent of the vote. At a Las Vegas convention, attendees as young as 11 were able to hack into voting machines, and at least ten states have made remote hacking easier by connecting computers to the internet. 

Paperless voting machines are another GOP way of controlling the vote, and a federal district court judge ordered Georgia to stop using paperless voting machines after 2019. For 2020, Georgia must either use paper ballots filled out with a pen and then fed into an optical scanner or voting machines that print a paper ballot record. Election officials must also fix errors in the state’s voter registration database and provide paper backups for the electronic poll books at each polling place, used to track whether a registered voter has cast a ballot or not when a voter shows up on Election Day. Employees of the firm that manufactured Georgia’s current paperless voting machines left them open to hacking by designing electronic ballots from their home offices rather than in a secure location. The ruling is the first to block use of paperless voting machines, also used in a dozen other states. Earlier this year, the state gave a $107 million contract for “ballot-marking devices,” machines that print a bar code and a text summary of individual votes. The bar code, which voters cannot read, is used for tallying votes, not the text summary. The lawsuit began when Brian Kemp, the Republican in charge of voting, was “elected” governor last year after evidence of security failings was destroyed. Like Kemp, his successor opposes paper ballots. 

The 7th Circuit Court supported a lower court in rejecting a 2017 Indiana law allowing election officials to cancel a voter’s registration without the voter’s confirmation. By using Interstate Crosscheck, faulty computer software checking a database of 24 states, the state got rid of Democratic registrations. The National Voter Registration Act requires that states cannot remove voters from rolls without a “reasonable effort.” The judge said that “the only way to know whether voters want to cancel their registration is to ask them.”

Ohio’s aggressive voter removal process has also been temporarily settled when the state agreed that all eligible voters removed through 2019 may cast provisional ballots in any local, state, special, or federal election through 2022 which are counted. Doing this will restore voters to the rolls. Ohio failed to provide proper notice to voters whose registration was in jeopardy and now must notify non-registered eligible voters of the settlement with the deadline for registering and tell boards of elections to use motor vehicle records to determine if voters still live where they registered. After the settlement, the Ohio Democratic Party sued to keep over 200,000 voters from being removed on September 6.

With Texas facing the possibility of turning purple, emails show that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) led the effort to purge thousands of voters from state election rolls although former Secretary of State David Whitley got the blame and resigned. A federal court stopped the purge of almost 100,000 people wrongfully identified as non-citizens. Texas tries to keep Texas voters white and GOP through restrictive voter ID laws, barriers to earlier voting, and difficulties in casting ballots, efforts overturned a half-dozen times in the past few years. Texas conservatives also hire people to sit outside driver license offices and register people after screening them with the question of whether they want “less government and less taxes” or “more government and more taxes.” Last year, Democrats flipped two congressional seats, and gained 12 in the Texas House and two in the Texas Senate.

Other:

In Maryland, a district court ruled that transgender military service members have legal standing to sue for their rights. DDT cannot block judicial review of his trans military ban.  

A U.S. district court judge in Michigan permitted a challenge to DDT’s Muslim Ban that bars immigration and travel from identified predominantly Muslim countries. The judge supported the claim of unconstitutional religious discrimination, writing that “the Plaintiffs present sufficient evidence that the Proclamation is unable to be explained by anything but animus towards Muslims.”

An Oklahoma judge ruled that drugmaker Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the opioid epidemic through its marketing of powerful painkillers and ordered the company to pay $572.1 million in damages. The decision is the first in approximately 2,000 state and local lawsuits against health care companies pushing opioids. Oklahoma stated that J&J was “at the root of the crisis” and created a “public nuisance.” Earlier this year, the state settled claims against Purdue for $270 million and Teva for $85 million. The wealthy Sacklers family, who made their fortune from Purdue Pharma’s oxycontin, may keep most of their money by selling the company to avoid a federal $10 billion to $12 billion settlement.

A federal judge temporarily blocked a Missouri law banning abortions after eight weeks with no exceptions for rape and incest. Courts blocked similar laws in Mississippi and Kentucky earlier this year. A federal judge also blocked Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat law” that would ban abortions as early as six weeks before women know that they are pregnant.   

Taylor Dumpson, the first black woman to serve as student government president at American University in Washington, D.C., was awarded $725,000 from a massive “troll storm” against her by Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, and follower Brian Ade, who failed to appear in court. Anglin, who fled the U.S., has also been ordered to pay $14 million to Tanya Gersh, a Jewish Montana real estate agent who he harassed, and $4.1 million to Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah after falsely accusing him of involvement in the May 2017 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Eight months ago, another defendant, Eugene (OR) actor and musician Evan McCarty, settled after an apology to Dumpson and publicly renouncing white supremacy, completing 200 hours of community service at a racial justice organization, and finishing “anti-hate” training.

A judge invalidated the Treasury Department’s permission to IRS to conceal the identity of donors who contributed over $5,000 to nonprofits during one year. The IRS violated the law by not having the required notice and comment period.

In Arizona, a state court of appeals ruled that people in the state have a constitutional right to online privacy from police who don’t have a warrant based on appearance of criminal activity because Internet users have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” for information about themselves furnished to internet providers based on the state constitution. The decision conflicts with federal court rulings that people give up privacy when they give information to third parties and are no longer protected against unreasonable search and seizure in the Fourth Amendment.

Despite federal attempts to open all public land to mining, drilling, and housing developments, a federal judge blocked construction of a huge open-pit copper mine in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest considered ancestral sacred burial sites for the Hopi, Tohono O’odham, and Pascua Yaqui tribes. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, former lobbyist for the copper company, wanted to give his friends this land as well as another place near the border for a 70,000-person housing development destroying the San Pedro, one of the Southwest’s last free-flowing rivers. The current project, near Benson, is back on after the federal government issued permits. People are waiting to see if the government will close a uranium mine near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon contaminating groundwater with radioactive waste.

The 11th Circuit Court ruled that feeding the homeless is “expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment” and sent a lawsuit back to a lower court to see if a city ordinance violates those rights. In 2014, after Fort Lauderdale (FL) required a permit to share food in public parks, police arrested a 90-year-old man (left) and two ministers who gave food to homeless people. 

A federal judge dismissed a $250-million libel lawsuit against the Washington Post filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann after he received negative media attention from his behavior in Washington, DC while attending a pro-life march. The filing called the reporting false and defamatory; the judge called it constitutionally protected. Sandmann’s dad, Ted, plans to appeal.

After New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold killed the unarmed Eric Garner in 2014 while other police officers watched, was exonerated last summer, outrage built, and a police administrative judge found Pantaleo guilty of violating a department ban on chokeholds. The tragedy was resolved with Pantaleo was fired and stripped of his pension benefits. Garner had cried out “I can’t breathe” eleven times until he stopped breathing. Garner had been accused of selling untaxed cigarettes.

One recent decision is questionable and could throw the nation into chaos. The 10th Circuit Court has ruled that representatives for the Electoral College are not required to vote in accord with the popular vote of their states. The lawsuit came after seven of the electors went “rogue” in the 2016 election. If that decision were left to stand, 538 individual people would be the only ones to vote for the president of the United States. The ruling covers six Western states unless it is overturned by an en banc decision or the Supreme Court. 

July 20, 2019

DDT: Week 130 – Ethical Moves Backward from Space Race

Tweets from Republicans show how they think, and this one from Diamond and Silk, Fox Nation hosts and vloggers, have a doozey:

“Nancy Pelosi said the WORDS that the President used were racist. But those same words are in the Dictionary. Does that mean that the Dictionary is now racist? Should all Dictionaries be banned since Democrats are offended by words?”

When the sisters, strongly supported by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), saw Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) eating chicken to mock AG Bill Barr’s cowardice in not testifying before the House, they called him “racially insensitive.” Ladies, the word “chicken” is in the Dictionary (sic), and one white man was ridiculing another white man. In another foray into stupidity, D&S lambasted Beto O’Rourke for opposing a wall on the southern border because he lives in a house with walls

Dumbness predominates in about 16 million people in the U.S. who don’t believe that two U.S. men walked on the moon 50 years ago. Some of them go farther in a belief that the earth is a flat disc with the Arctic in the center and a 150-foot-tall wall of ice in the Antarctica surrounding the rim. NASA employees guard the wall to keep people from falling off. And gravity is an illusion.

While DDT diverted people with his racism:

The EPA will not ban a pesticide associated with developmental disabilities and other health problems in children, a pesticide banned before DDT was inaugurated. Now permitted for agricultural food use, chlorpyrifos was banned from residential use in 2000 because of causing memory problems, lower IQs, reduced breathing capacity, and increased risks of children born with autism as shown by a study of children living in California. The negative effects are permanent. Last year, a federal court said there was “no justification” for such a decision.

DDT rolled back programs to detect weapons of mass destruction by canceling training exercises and driving out scientists and policy experts. U.S. citizens now face greater risks from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks since DDT appointed James McDonnell as director of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office before he was promoted to lead the new Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. Over 100 people who raised concerns about lack of readiness were taken out of their areas of expertise. Disbanded programs helped law enforcement officials detect potential threats and worked to detect foreign states trying to provide radiological or nuclear material to terrorists.

Not satisfied with getting rid of 80 percent of scientists in two USDA agencies by moving them to Kansas City, DDT has exiled one-fifth of the Interior Department, most of the Bureau of Land Management’s D.C. workforce further from Washington, D.C.—to west of the Rockies where they will be more susceptible to pressure from the fossil fuel industry. DDT is also trying to get rid of the government’s human resources agency, the Office of Personnel Management, planning to “furlough” up to 150 employees if Congress refuses to follow his orders.

The Pentagon tripled its presence on the southern border by sending 1,100 active-duty troops and 1,000 Texas National Guard soldiers to join 2,500 active-duty and 2,000 National Guard troops already there.

AG Bill Barr gave $51,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee immediately before his Senate confirmation hearings for attorney general. Before that, Barr had only occasionally donated to the GOP.

The Agriculture Department blocked the release of a multiyear plan on how to respond to climate change finalized in the early days of the Trump administration. It showed ways for farmers to understand, adapt to, and minimize the effects of climate change.

A defense contractor employee with access to sensitive information threatened to kill Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) because she supported a bill to vaccinate school children. 

The Washington Post has a report on its investigation into how acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is working to create a fiefdom in his goal of deregulating the government. His primary goals are immigration and health care in his work to force out chiefs of staff in these departments. One senior official said that only economic advisor Larry Kudlow and national security adviser John Bolton are not under Mulvaney’s control. He is behind permission for health-care providers, insurers, and employers to refuse coverage for medical services with the excuse of religious and/or moral beliefs, including banning taxpayer-funded clinics from making referrals for abortions.

DDT’s immigration expands its cruelty. When Border Patrol separated parents in a Honduran family, sending one to Mexico and leaving the other in the United States, three-year-old Sofia, who has a heart condition even after surgery, was asked to pick which parent she wanted. The family had already been sent back twice to Mexico. The girl’s mother had seen her mother killed; her sister-in-law, also a witness, was later kidnapped, tortured, and murdered to keep her from testifying.  

U.S. citizen children—at least those appearing to be Latinx—can’t go anywhere without a danger of being kidnapped by the U.S. government.

Thirteen-year-old Heydi has died after hanging herself because her father was turned away from asylum three times. Her father was finally reunited with her daughter after she lay brain-dead in the hospital. 

This is in what some people call the greatest nation in the world. 

GOP quandaries:

DDT has claimed that the U.S. military shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, but Iran claims that all its drones returned to their home bases. Iran suggests that the U.S. might have shot down one of its own drones. Considering DDT’s history of lying, people might be more likely to believe Iran. The question might be whether DDT is ginning up a war after his week of criticism on his racist attacks.

Democrats took the House partly because they supported health care for people. After spending almost a decade trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Judge Richard Leon of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that ACA doesn’t have to provide for pre-existing conditions. Watch for the Democrats’ campaign ads—and the GOP candidates lying about their positions as Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) in her last campaign when she told people that she voted for pre-existing conditions. Democrats will likely appeal Leon’s decision. Wonder what Republicans will do.

After the House passed a bill by 402 to 12 that made permanent a compensation program for 9/11 responders who contracted diseases linked to exposure, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has tried to block presenting the bill with 75 co-sponsors in the Senate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) demanded that all cost should be offset by cuts in spending. Paul called the bill’s supporter Jon Stewart, formerly of the The Daily Show, a “guttersnipe” and the legislation a “completely irresponsible” measure with support only because senators are “overwhelmed” by the comedian’s celebrity. The senator said, “If Jon Stewart could read, maybe he’d read the bill and say, ‘Oh my God, who would vote for a bill that doesn’t have a dollar amount in it?’ ” Bad press may have led McConnell to declare that a vote will take place next week. 

The Senate may need to deal with another bill passed by the House that raises the minimum wage to $15 over the next six years and takes between 27 million and 33 million people out of poverty. Accounting for inflation, the wage peaked at $11.79 per hour in 1968

Things for Republicans to deal with:

Texas may gain three to four congressional seats after the census, but only with an accurate count. The state is refusing to fund the census; just a one-percent undercount could cost Texas $300 million in federal funding a year. California, with a population of 40 percent more than Texas, is spending $154 million. Texas can lose billions of dollars with its short sightedness. 

A few positive things:

The House voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate. DDT had tried to use emergency powers to sidestep Congress for 22 deals worth more than $8 billion.

The 10th Circuit Court has upheld a lower court’s decision that San Juan County (Utah) had violated constitutional rights of residents with racially gerrymandered districts and affirmed the new court-imposed districts. Anglos were upset with new districts that gave the ability of Navajos to be elected after whites had put most of the Navajo residents, 52 percent of the county’s population, into one of the three districts. One of the whites plans to appeal to the entire circuit court.

DDT is at his Bedminster resort with no keepers. Tomorrow may be more tweet-filled. 

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.”

November 19, 2018

Midterm Elections: A Postmortem

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 11:43 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

EPA/CHRIS TODD

The midterm elections of 2018 are winding down. Only two House races are still undecided, a Georgia Republican ahead by 29 votes out of over 280,000 votes and a Utah Democrat with a 739-vote lead with 270,000 votes. Without those two decisions, Democrats gained 38 seats to have the majority of 233 to the 200 GOP seats. Georgia will definitely go to a recount. In the Senate, four Democrats lost their seats, and two Republicans lost theirs. With the determination that Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott took the U.S. Senate seat, the Senate settled in with 52 Republicans out of 100 as it waits for the election in Mississippi on November 27. Usually, that state would automatically pick a Republican, but Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (left) has made a poor showing lately, seeming to laud lynching and criticized the legality of black college students voting.

Now that Republicans won three important races—Florida’s governor and U.S. senator and Georgia’s governor—Scott and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) decided that the elections are not rigged. The question will always be there, however, as the winning GOP Florida candidate for senator and Georgia candidate for governor control the elections that they won.

An opinion piece by Abe Rakov in conservative USA Today states:

“We’re seeing Republican politicians run a political strategy to manipulate who can vote and, ultimately, remake the electorate in their favor. They’re trying to rig our elections because they don’t think they can win any other way. It’s cheating, it’s wrong and it’s anti-democratic.

“Jason Kander and I started Let America Vote in 2017 to create political consequences for politicians who try to stop eligible voters from voting. Over 65,000 people across the country have signed up to volunteer to help us in that effort. Through this November and beyond, Let America Vote is going to fight back against these proposals because our democracy is bigger than politicians who will do anything to win an election.”

Florida GOP Influence over Voting:

Scott kept the painfully inept election supervisor Brenda Snipes in her position after many missteps, one of which took her to court. Kitty Garber, research director and co-founder of the nonpartisan Florida Fair Elections Coalition, said that Snipes’ “behavior has disproportionately harmed Democratic candidates. When absentee ballots go missing in largely Democratic Broward County, you can be sure that most of them belong to Democratic voters.”

Scott also tried to use law enforcement to control the voting process and filed several lawsuits.

Truthout did a detailed analysis of data available in the election to show how computer software can manipulate voter outcome and what happened in Florida.

Absentee ballots may not have been counted if they were locked in a mail facility after the Florida man sent pipe bombs through the USPS.

The pastor of a church posted this sign when it was used as a polling place:

Don’t vote for Democrats on Tuesday and sing, ‘Oh how I love Jesus’ on Sunday.”

Georgia GOP Influence over Voting:

The GOP may use voter suppression in Georgia as a model for future efforts.

Brian Kemp, the candidate for governor and coincidentally state secretary of state, “doxed” 291,164 absentee voters by posting their personal details online for anyone to download. “Doxing” has become a common harassment practice of posting people’s personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, and even Social Security numbers.

Some voters waited over four hours to vote in suburban Atlanta. The state installed only three voting machines in a Fulton County polling place; Atlanta is in Fulton County. In other areas, the voting machines were broken or automatically registered Kemp’s name when voters selected his opponent.

Kemp refused to have any paper trail for the voting machines.

Voters also faced intimidation in several states:

Texas (where Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz by 220,000 votes out of 8.3 million): An election judge was filmed screaming at a black voter and threatening to call the police when the voter asked where she was supposed to vote. The DHS had planned a “crowd-control” exercise near a Latinx neighborhood in El Paso but decided to cancel the exercise after critics pointed out its intimidation effort.

Virginia: A DDT supporter stood outside a polling place with a German Shepherd that barked at voters. A member of the GOP said that the man is a known, excited DDT supporter who would do no harm.

Idaho: Intimidating signs regarding student voting were posted at polling places.

Tennessee: Five or six men outside a polling place told voters they should not be voting.

Indiana: At least one voting machine refused to accept votes for Democrats.

Arizona: Republicans sued to keep mail-in ballots from being counted because the 15 county recorders done have the same standard for adjusting problems. Two counties being sued allow people to verify their signatures up to five days after the election; both are major Democratic-leaning urban counties. (Democrat Kyrsten Sinema finally won her election for U.S. Senate.)

Those who criticize Democrats for more wins or claim that Republicans are better because the Dems picked up “only” 38 to 40 seats in the House aren’t aware of the control on elections from the GOP gerrymandering. Wisconsin is a classic case. This chart tells it all: Democrats won in all state elections and cast more votes for people in the state legislature while losing almost two-thirds of the seats. State assembly Democratic minority leader Gordon Hintz pointed out the lack of competitive districts, the reason that a district court ruled the legislative maps unconstitutional. The case, Gill v. Whitford, went to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to a lower federal court. These maps

Richard Hasen wrote that Wisconsin’s continued gerrymandering is thanks to retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. Last summer, the court unanimously determine that plaintiffs had not proved they had standing to sue because they didn’t suffer direct injury. In 2004, Kennedy demanding a “workable standard” to decide if partisan decisions on district crossed a constitutional line. The court managed to avoid making any decision about whether the U.S. Constitution forbids gerrymandering and, if so, standards for decisions. The Republicans in Wisconsin draw the districts to favor Republicans so that Republicans can continue drawing districts to favor Republicans.

A contrast in House districts can be found in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. After a court order mandated redrawing districts, Pennsylvania went from solidly GOP to one evenly split. North Carolina stayed overwhelmingly GOP with the Republican-drawn map despite an even split in party votes for the delegation members. Associated Press determined that more states have GOP-tilted districts than Democratic ones.

Karma came to the GOP sponsor of the restrictive North Dakota law mandating that no one (aka Native Americans) could vote if they didn’t have an ID with a street address. A Native American Democrat beat him in the election. And the Georgia secretary of state vote goes into a runoff on December 4.

This election breakdown as of November 16 shows the great diversity of Democrats in the 116th Congress, starting in January 2019. Of the 36 women additions to the House this coming year, one is a Republican.

 

 

November 10, 2018

Midterm Elections Not ‘Big Victory’ for GOP

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claims that Democrats want “to steal the election.” His proof? Democrats want to count every vote. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants new elections in Florida and Arizona because a continued count of ballots is favoring three Democrats, both governor races and the U.S. Senate race in Florida. GOP lawsuits against continuing to count ballots are flying fast and furious, and Gov. Rick Scott, also candidate for U.S. senator from Florida, wants to use his gubernatorial power to stop counting votes before his opponent gets a majority and at least manages a recount. And Republicans no longer care about the caravan in Mexico that consumed their media before the election.

Gov. Scott tried to stop the votes from being counted with the law enforcement after three-fourths of his lead on Election night disappeared, leaving him only 15,000 votes ahead. Candidate Scott is suing to block counting after accusing “liberal activists” of trying to “steal the election.”

Former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), once a Republican, said his absentee ballot was rejected for “invalid signature.” Another voter was told that her signature with her finger on a smart pad at the polling place didn’t match the ID. Cindy McCain, widow of former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted about the vote counting issue:

“I am one of those mail in ballots. I was under the impression my vote was always counted.”

While Republicans win, GOP leaders stay quiet; the minute that the vote swings in the opposite direction, they go batsh*t crazy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who once called Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) a “con man,” joined Scott in coming unglued about Broward County, home to almost two million people, taking longer to count votes than Bay County with 150,000 residents. Broward County leans Democrat, so Rubio alleges that “democrat lawyers” are descending on Florida “to try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate.” The GOP game plan in Florida is the same as in 2000 when Al Gore supposedly lost Florida by 537 votes: stop the recount and declare Republicans the winner before the discovery that the Democrats have more votes.

With no evidence, DDT and his sort-of lawyer Rudy Giuliani leaped into the fray to portray the Florida counts as rigged, supporting Scott and Rubio in their unfounded claims of voter fraud. Despite lack of legal basis, Giuliani wants to “disqualify [Broward and Palm Beach] votes counted only after all other counties were finished.” He also referred to “[Clinton] Hillary’s lawyers trying to steal Florida election,” probably meaning Nelson’s lawyer Marc Elias who was Clinton’s general counsel during her 2016 presidential campaign. Fox’s Sean Hannity said, ““I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” meaning that he was born after 2000.

Three retired military leaders respond to GOP attempts to stop the voting in three of the 50 states:

“We, the men and women who served under our command, and everyone who served in the Armed Forces swore an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. Many died, and many were wounded, protecting it, and our sacred right to vote — and see that vote counted.

“It is appalling that Trump Republicans in Florida, Arizona and Georgia are fighting to stop accurately counting all the votes, as they lose ground. It dishonors everything our troops have fought for, and died for.

“We want to be very clear: Taking actions to stop counting votes is not only un-democratic, it is downright un-American.” – General (US Army, Ret.) Wesley K. Clark, Major General (US Army, Ret.) Paul D. Eaton, and Brigadier General (US Army, Ret.) Steven M. Anderson

Despite GOP efforts to suppress the vote, at least 123 women—103 Democrats and 20 Republicans—will be in the 116th Congress beginning in January 2019, and another ten women could join them. Many of the women are “firsts” in congressional records: age, ethnicity, religion, and states that they represent. Barry Blitt celebrated these women for the New Yorker cover.

Six state legislative chambers also flipped from GOP to Democratic.

Democrats may have fewer senators, governors, and state legislatures, but they comprise the majority of state attorneys general. After flipping four seats in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin from Republicans, the 27 Democratic AGs will continue to protect states and serve as a check to DDT’s executive orders. Another four AGs are in play as governors of Alaska, Hawaii, and Wyoming appoint three of them, and the statehouse in Maine elects one.

Voters in 37 states voted on a total of 157 ballot measures on Election Day; here’s sample of the mostly good news:

North Carolina: Voters blocked constitutional amendments that would have packed a state supreme court to continue more gerrymandering and voter suppression, measures that the courts had failed to stop earlier. A GOP election-rigging scheme blew up and installed a civil rights Democrat in the state Supreme Court that led to a court of five Democrats and two Republicans. Voters in the state did pass the GOP photo voter ID mandate, but the state Supreme Court could hear a lawsuit against it.

Michigan: Voters instated a fully independent redistricting commission, removing the ability of GOP lawmakers to gerrymandering congressional and legislative redistricting. Colorado and Missouri passed redistricting reform, and a similar measure in Utah has a one-point lead. To illustrate the importance of Michigan’s vote to remove gerrymandering, President Obama won the popular vote of the state by almost 60 percent in 2012, the same year that the GOP took over 60 percent of the U.S. representatives. Pennsylvania gained three Democratic seats in the House after the state’s Supreme Court struck down its gerrymandered maps last January. These six states show the effect of gerrymandering. [visual gerrymandering]

Maryland: Voters approved same-day voter registration by two to one. Michigan also passed the same law; 18 states and D.C. now let voters register at the same time that they vote on Election Day. North Carolina voters can register during the early-voting period. Other increased voting accessibility in Michigan include automatic voter registration, removal of the need for an excuse to vote absentee, protection of the straight-ticket voting option, and regular election audits for accuracy. Previously, Michigan Republican legislators had allowed unrestricted absentee voting only to voters 60 or older, the GOP base. Republicans also hate straight-ticket voting because it is more popular with blacks, who largely tend to be Democrats.

Nevada: Voters passed an automatic voter registration while doing business with the DMV. That brings the total of “motor-voter” registration to 13 states and D.C.

Florida: Voters overwhelmingly voted to allow people with felony convictions to vote—1.5 million citizens in the state. Laws like this passed in many states after the Civil War were intended to block black voters. Gov. Rick Scott almost ended clemency to return voting rights for specific individuals (aka non-GOP supporters) in 2011. People in prison, on parole or probation, and with murder or sexual offenses may not vote, allowing another 1.4 million people this right. The remaining question is whether Florida will require a poll tax in the form of repaying all court fines and fees, cutting the number to 840,000 new voters.

Michigan & Colorado: Voters elected Democrats for secretaries of state, positions that Republicans use to purge eligible voters. In New Hampshire, the newly-elected Democrat state legislature can replace longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the Democrat-in-name-only appointed by Republicans. Georgia’s Democratic Secretary of State John Barrow, trailing by only 0.6 percent heads to a December 4 runoff. Arizona has called the position for its GOP candidate for the position, but the Democrat is behind by only 21,000 votes with hundreds of thousands of ballots left to be counted.

Idaho, Nebraska, & Utah: Medicaid expansion passed but failed in Montana.

Missouri & Arkansas: Voters passed minimum wage increases.

Washington: New gun control measures passed.

Missouri & Utah: Voters approved medical marijuana with that ballot measure the most popular one in Missouri. Thirty-three states and D.C. now have some form of legalized medical marijuana, and another 14 have laws allowing cannabis but limiting that THC content. Michigan passed recreational marijuana, bringing the total to ten states. Only North Dakota blocked a cannabis initiative, keeping medical marijuana but not approving recreational marijuana. Former AG Jeff Sessions, who declared a war on cannabis, has been fired.

Massachusetts: Voters stopped discrimination against transgender rights by keeping a 2016 law barring discrimination against transgender people in public spaces.

Oregon: Voters rejected a measure banning public funding for abortions available to low-income women. Alabama and West Virginia voters passed measures to prevent a woman’s right to have an abortion through “personhood,” but the initiative is unconstitutional until the GOP Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

In paranoid North Dakota, voters approved a change to the constitution: instead of “every citizen” can vote, they approved “only a citizen” can vote. And Colorado voted to prohibit slavery, once and for all, despite 35 percent of the voters—26 DDT-supporting counties of 64 in the state—supporting the practice as punishment for a crime.

Midterm elections are not over. Florida and Georgia are still counting votes for governor, and Arizona and Florida are doing the same for the U.S. Senate. Mississippi has a run-off for one of the U.S. senate positions as well as a congressional representative. Another dozen House races in nine states are still up in the air. And those undecided races don’t include the recounts and lawsuits that will emerge.

September 17, 2018

Court Rulings Mostly Right Wrongs

Election Day is only 50 days away, and the GOP continues its attempts at voter suppression. In an honest move that may cause them to lose the 2018 North Carolina election, progressive groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters that won the redrawing of gerrymandered districts said that there was not enough time to complete the task in the next two months. The contortions of district lines caused the state to have 10 of 13 seats in the U.S. House with only 53 percent of the vote.

The majority in a panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit, two appointed by George W. Bush, upheld Arizona laws that prevent anyone except a family member, caretaker, or postal worker from turning ballots into elections officials and blocked out-of-precinct voting. The decision is especially onerous for Native Americans who are many miles from both voting precincts and post offices. As usual, the fake reason for the law is to avoid voter fraud, but the rationale comes from white entitlement and lack of understanding about other cultures and living conditions. The decision will be appealed to the full court but stays in effect for the upcoming election.

A Missouri judge made Republicans happy when he removed a redistricting measure for this fall’s ballot.

Yet not all bodes well for Republicans in court decisions.

Federal prosecutors have postponed their demand that North Carolina state and local elections officials give them well over 20 million ballots, poll books, and voter authorization forms going back almost nine years by September 25. Subpoenas also required photo images of voters, and subpoenas to the state DMV required DMV voter registration documents and those completed in a language other than English from both citizens and people not born in the U.S. Almost 2.3 million absentee ballots could be traced back to individual voters which caused privacy concerns. The subpoenas for these records cited ICE and a grand jury in Wilmington as the source for the demand after U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon announced charges against 19 non-U.S. citizens for illegal voting. A state audit counted 41 non-U.S. citizens acknowledged voting out of 4.8 million ballots. Higdon hopes to get the documents in January 2019.

A court in North Carolina also ruled in favor of expanding Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to make certain appointments, ruling that the legislators had overstepped their authority and violated the separation of powers’ requirement. When Cooper was elected, the GOP legislature immediately passed several laws to restrict his abilities compared to that of his GOP predecessor.

For the second time in four years, federal judges struck down the GOP Virginia General Assembly boundaries of 11 electoral districts that pack minorities together so that white candidates in adjacent districts can win elections. Little progress has been made before the October 30 deadline. With the GOP failure to more forward, the governor has asked the GOP speaker of the state house to turn the project over to the courts. The districts will be used for state elections in 2019.

A Virginia judge also removed an independent candidate from the ballot in the 2nd District congressional race because of “forgery” and “out and out fraud” on her petition. Staffers working for the GOP candidate had collected many of the signatures to get her onto the ballot to split the progressive vote and ensure a win for their boss. Of the 377 signatures that five of them put on petitions, at least 146 were false, some of them for people who had died.

Florida Republicans thought they could keep Puerto Ricans who had fled their island after Hurricane Maria from voting if they refused them Spanish-language ballots. A district judge disagreed and ruled that 32 counties across the state had violated the Voting Rights Act. He ordered them to provide bilingual voting materials, including ballots and poll worker support, for Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican voters. According to his ruling:

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Unique among Americans, they are not educated primarily in English — and do not need to be. But, like all American citizens, they possess the fundamental right to vote.”

The enactment is on an expedited basis to give Florida officials “ample” time to appeal if “they seek to block their fellow citizens, many of whom fled after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, from casting meaningful ballots,” according to the judge. “It is remarkable that it takes a coalition of voting rights organizations and individuals to sue in federal court to seek minimal compliance with the plain language of a venerable 53-year-old law,” he added.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the so-called “charity” Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, linked to billionaire Charles Koch, must disclose its donors to California officials. The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court reversed a lower court ruling from last year.

A grand jury will be convened to investigate whether Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016.

The court woes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue. He tried to get out of going to court over paying hush-money for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels so that he and former attorney Michael Cohen don’t have to give dispositions. By not contesting the suit, DDT thinks that he has escaped, but Daniels still has a defamation suit against DDT.

The fate of DDT’s IRS returns is still in court, this time the Washington, D.C. Circuit. EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act case is arguing that IRS must release his returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia in his tweets. At least two-thirds of people want DDT to release the returns. The 98-page financial disclosure that DDT is forced to make public shows that his biggest windfalls come from his property that he frequently visits. For example, he made $37 million from Mar-a-Lago, up from $15 million in 2015, and $20 from his nearby golf club.

A federal judge refused to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ruling that Texas and six other conservative states couldn’t prove irreparable harm from the program. He also stated that he believed the program is unconstitutional, but the time has passed to rescind it.

Cities can’t prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, according to a 9th Circuit Court ruling in Boise (ID). Six homeless people sued the city in 2009. The judge also wrote:

“A city cannot, via the threat of prosecution, coerce an individual to attend religion-based treatment programs consistently with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

A federal judge in Boston ruled that ICE should not remove undocumented people in the process of applying for green cards even if they have final orders of removal. The ruling may not require a penalty from the government or apply outside the New England area. Five couples are suing DHS, ICE, DDT, and law enforcement because spouses were detained by ICE when they went for marriage interviews with U.S.-citizen spouses, a requirement for the application process to prove they have legitimate marriages. Emails show coordination between ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services to coordinate interviews and arrests. The suit began with a woman who was brought from Guatemala when she was three years old and married U.S. citizen Luis Gordillo. They have two children.

A Canadian court unanimously overturned Ottawa’s approval of a pipeline project because the government failed to consider concerns of some First Nations and did not consider the impact of increased tanker traffic. The pipeline, almost 700 miles long, would take bitumen from Alberta to the western ports to ship to Asia. The ship traffic has already had a devastating affect on southern resident orcas which are almost extinct.

Parents of a Sandy Hook victim may continue its defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after his repeated lies that the 2012 massacre killing 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school was a “fraud.” Six other Sandy Hook families also filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones in May. Jones’ Infowars is also facing a lawsuit for misidentifying a person as the shooter at the Parkland (FL) school who killed 17 people and another defamation suit from the person who recorded the vehicular murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville (VA) rally last year. Jones’ law firm is also representing the co-founder of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist website The Stormer.

An arbitrator has denied the NFL request to throw out Colin Kaepernick’s grievance that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests for social injustice. The ruling shows that Kaepernick has sufficient evidence of collusion for a lawsuit. Eric Reid’s grievance for joining the protests is still pending. The NFL had to put on hold its policy that would require players to stand if they are on the sideline during the national anthem because of problems that it classified protests as conduct detrimental to the team.

August 30, 2018

Lawsuits Proliferate As Progressives Win

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
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Lawsuits about the orders of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue to pile up, and decisions continue to go against him and his conservative views.

In a union victory against DDT’s attempts to weaken organized labor, a judge struck down most of three executive orders to enable government agencies to easily fire workers and restrict union negotiation with managers. The decision stated that DDT violated congressional opinion that good-faith union negotiations are vital to the public interest:

“It is undisputed that no [executive] orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned in the [statute].”

DDT’s failed orders would have reduced improvement of work performance from four to three months before employees are fired, created greater difficulty in appealing performance evaluations, blocked negotiations on important workplace issues could not be negotiated, and greatly reduced time for union business during work hours. One remaining provision allows agency changes to a union agreement for bargaining in bad faith.

A federal judge ruled against DDT and the NRA in favor of AGs from 19 states and Washington, D.C. to stop the posting of 3-D printed guns online until the lawsuit is settled. The DOJ had stated that posting the directions was a national security problem until last April when it reversed that conclusion.

The judge who ordered the DOJ to “turn that plane around” has demanded the government not to deport a pregnant Honduran woman seeking asylum after she fled her home country because her partner “beat her, raped her, and threatened to kill her and their unborn child.”

A Maryland KKK leader, 53-year-old Richard Preston, was sentenced to four years in prison for firing a gun at a black counterprotester within 1,000 feet of school property during last year’s deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville (VA). Most of the racist protesters at the rallies who haven’t been given prison time lost their jobs, Patreon has blocked Robert Spencer from its platform, and white supremacist Richard Spencer can’t find a lawyer for a federal lawsuit about his role in the rally.

In North Carolina, the Supreme Court permitted two constitutional amendments to be on the ballot after a panel had blocked them.  Voters are being asked to change the way that state boards and commission members are appointed and the way that judges are picked to fill vacant spots. GOP legislators initiated these amendments to remove power of appointments from the governor after the state elected a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. All five living governors from both political parties objected to the amendments and supported Cooper’s position. GOP legislators’ rewrite of the amendments still lacks clarity, according to Democrats, and Cooper will appeal because the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

In a loss for GOP legislators, a panel of three federal judges from the 4th Circuit Court ruled that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans over Democrats and mandated new districts before the November elections although primaries have already resulted in the selection of candidates. Courts have already determined that the districts violate constitutional standards. North Carolina legislators plan to ask the Supreme Court for help which could result in a 4-4 split leaving the decision with the lower court. The Supreme Court had told the three-judge panel to review their decision after the high court’s decision in the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case stopped because the plaintiffs lacked standing. The Supreme Court addressed gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland but avoided any decision of their merits. The 4th Circuit Court panel suggested appointing a special master to draw new districts, ignore party primaries for the general election, or making the November elections a primary with a general election before January when the 116th Congress convenes.

A federal judge dismissed a suit from conservatives accusing Dallas County (TX) commissions of discrimination against white voters. He said the reverse was true, that the white voters’ “voting power has been strengthened, rather than diluted, by the concentration of Anglos in [Precinct 2].” Three of the five county commissioners are white, but only one is a Republican. A strategist pointed out that redrawing the map might cause the board to have only Democrats.

A judge ruled that Nick Lyon, Michigan’s state health director, will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter over two deaths linked to Flint’s water crisis because he failed to notify the public about Legionnaires’ disease in Flint that killed 12 people and sickened another 90 in 2014 and 2015.

Smithfield Foods, the biggest pork producer in the world, was hit with a $473.5 million judgment to neighbors of three hog farms in North Carolina. Another 500 neighbors are awaiting litigation because North Carolina lawmakers are trying to protect Smithfield. This description shows an unhealthy and stinking environment around the farms and the maltreatment of the pigs. Unlike North Carolina, Missouri forced Smithfield to reduce the odor.

Approximately 600 LGBTQ inmates at San Bernardino County Jail (CA) have been awarded up to $1 million for being forced into the jail’s “Alternative Lifestyle Isolation Tank,” pending approval by the U.S. District Court in Riverside. They were locked in the “Tank” for up to 23 hours a day with no access to specialized programming, social interaction, or other outside activities, denied equal access to opportunities that other prisoners were provided in job training, educational, drug rehabilitation, religious, and community re-entry programs. Openly gay Dan McKibben, former sheriff’s deputy who died in 2016, initiated the lawsuit in 2014.

In Illinois, Marsha Wetzel won a landmark court victory after suing her retirement home that failed to protect her from harassment because she is a lesbian. The 7th Circuit Court disagreed with a lower ruling that claimed a landlord cannot be held responsible for other residents’ behavior. Instead, the court determined that the Fair Housing Act bars landlords from “purposefully failing to protect” a tenant from “harassment, discrimination and violence” and sent the case back to the lower court.

Pending suits:

Seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia—suing to end the DACA program have been joined by Kansas, Maine, and Mississippi. Their unsubstantiated excuses of additional costs for education, health, and law enforcement ignore losses from losing DACA recipients who contribute to the economy through employment (89 percent), business entrepreneurs (6 percent, car purchases (62 percent), and home purchases (14 percent). The loss of 144,000 DACA recipients in these ten states can remove $7.4 billion in their annual GDP, 82 percent of it in Texas. The ten states would also annually lose $311 million in tax revenue, $245 million in just Texas. A win for these ten states against DACA could cause the same losses for the other 40 states that would lose $35 billion in annual GDP.

People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing to get information about the Bible study sessions for Cabinet members in the capitol after being refused any materials for nine months. Conservative pastor Ralph Drollinger has influenced U.S. members of Congress and brags about his influence with Cabinet members, describing Capitol Ministries as a “factory” to produce politicians like Michele Bachmann who “sees the world through a scriptural lens.”

Sixteen states are asking the Supreme Court for permission to legally fire people for being transgender. The 6th Circuit Court had ruled against the firing of Aimee Stephens for transition while at her job with a Michigan funeral home. The mis-named Alliance Defending Freedom maintains that the word “sex” means only biological sex and cannot be used for gender identity. The states in the suit include Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming as well as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R). Kentucky AG Andy Beshear (D), who refused to sign the brief on behalf of the state, called Bevin’s decision to sign on “surprising” given that Kentucky state employees do enjoy protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, thanks to an executive order that Bevin has not rescinded.

Approximately 8,000 U.S. lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto, recently purchased by the German drugmaker Bayer, regarding the possible cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. The most recent settlement against Monsanto was $289 million.

Released from Central California Women’s Facility after a 15-year term, Stacy Rojas filed a lawsuit against the sexual abuse that she and other inmates suffer in the prison. Rojas reported that guards stamped on one woman’s breast, cut the clothing off another, left women in isolation cells so long that they had to soil themselves, and harassed them with graphic sexual insults and suggestions. In addition to seeking damages, Rojas wants a whistleblowing process externally managed to hold guards and other staff accountable for mistreatment and excessive force as well as accessing adequate medical care, food, and clothing.

Across the country, people are suing public schools to get a quality education for their children.

  • Racial integration: a father in Minnesota is fighting for children to attend racially integrated schools because segregated schools lower test scores and graduation rates for low-income and nonwhite children.
  • Funding: parents are turning to state courts for sufficient school funding because a 1973 Supreme Court decision ruled that unequal school funding does not violate the U.S. Constitution. A New Mexico judge mandated a new funding system for schools because of underfunded schools, especially those that serve large numbers of Native American, Hispanic, and low-income students. Kansas ruled that underfunding schools is unconstitutional, and Pennsylvania and Florida courts agreed to hear similar cases.
  • Literacy: last year a federal judge in Michigan ruled that “access to literacy” is not a fundamental federal right for Detroit students, but most state constitutions guarantee the right to an adequate education.

AG Jeff Sessions expressed his discontent with federal judges to an audience of judicial system officials in Iowa, especially their rulings against DDT’s Muslim ban and for so-called “sanctuary cities” because the decisions brought media criticism of DDT. Yet DDT abuses Sessions every day.

June 18, 2018

Courts Feature DDT’s Problems

Today’s post is about recent legal decisions and lawsuit filings, but I’ll begin with the separation of children from their families at the Mexico border.

  • A letter to the editor complained about Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) for not doing his job because he tried to visit to incarceration facilities for these children. This is part of his job.
  • NPR, which now gets large donations from far-right contributors such as the Koch brothers, allowed statements that children are better off being separated from their parents with no one explaining the physical and emotional damage of the separations.
  • Yesterday DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.” Today she backed down at a White House briefing but supported the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) by blaming Democrats and adding other lies of her own.

People watching nothing but conservative media such as Fox are spared horrific tapes of the cries of abducted children separated from their parents. A six-year-old girl kept repeating her aunt’s telephone number and pleading for someone to call her. When the call was finally made, the aunt in El Salvador could do nothing because she and her daughter cannot get asylum in the U.S. because the DOJ no longer accepts people fleeing from gangs and domestic violence. The six-year-old’s mother will probably be deported without her daughter.

As bad as things are for DDT, the courts are pursuing him. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against DDT, his three oldest children, and the Donald J. Trump foundation because DDT’s charity allegedly engaged in “illegal conduct” by raising over $2.8 million to influence the presidential election in DDT’s campaign. The suit calls for dissolving the foundation, repaying the $2.8 million along with other penalties, a 10-year ban on DDT serving as director of a New York nonprofit, and a one-year ban on his serving on a nonprofit board for each of his children. Prison could also be a possibility. Underwood also sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC, listing potential law violations for more investigation and legal action.

Summer Zervos’ defamation civil suit for DDT accusation that his sexual assault victims are liars can continue, according to New York’s Supreme Court. Zervos’ lawyer said that they look forward to the “discovery process,” which could reveal information that DDT is hiding.

Rudy Giuliani tried to defame Stormy Daniels because of her profession as an adult film star, saying that she cannot be trusted. In return, Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti tweeted his 500,000+ followers in a search for Giuliani’s porn-watching habits.

An Emoluments Clause lawsuit against DDT for taking gifts from state and foreign governments, a case with no direct precedent, should be decided by the end of July. DDT’s legal team claims that DDT cannot be sued, that his proceeds are not emoluments, and that he has donated his profits to the Treasury. DDT has no evidence for his statement that he made only $151,470. In another emoluments case, 200 congressional Democrats state that DDT has to ask Congress for the right to receive emoluments. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington failed its first round in an emoluments claim for having no standing, but the group is appealing. Any case that manages a requirement of discovery is victorious because DDT has thus far hidden his financial records.

A federal judge in Seattle refused to stay an earlier injunction halting DDT’s transgender military ban while the government is appealing because the government has no new arguments. The judge is one of four issuing preliminary injunctions against Trump’s transgender military ban.

The day after the official end of net neutrality in the United States, an action allowing more profit-making to internet servers, a George W. Bush-appointed judge approved the $85.4 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner with no conditions. The owners of DirecTV, U-verse, AT&T mobile and broadband, Cricket wireless, etc. will now possess HBO, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers Studios, a stake in Hulu, etc. The judge ruled that the merger did not violate antitrust laws because of the consumer welfare standard that examines only consumer costs. Monopolies are now legal; for example, ultra-conservative Sinclair Publishing can move into almost all the local markets across the nation. Comcast entered a bidding war with Disney for Fox TV and movie assets. T-Mobile, which partners with Netflix, has a deal to buy Sprint. Leon’s ruling also leaves Aetna open to join with CVS, and other health corporations can merge.

In another permit for a huge merger earlier this year, the German pharmaceutical and chemical company Bayer can buy agricultural giant Monsanto, creating the world’s biggest pesticides and seeds monopoly.  After the $66 billion purchase, just three megacorporations–Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-DuPont, and Syngenta-ChemChina–will control 61 percent of global seeds and pesticides production, worrying farmers about prices with no competition. Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds have trapped farmers into dependence and reliance on chemicals.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not decide on two gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland. The non-decision gave Wisconsin to the Republicans and Maryland to Democrats. For Wisconsin, the high court’s opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that challenges must come from each district by voters with standing because the court’s role is only for “individual rights.” The case was sent back to a lower court to determine whether plaintiffs existed in all districts. Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wanted to end the Wisconsin case. An unsigned opinion stated that the Maryland case is at a preliminary stage but that the lower court was not wrong in refusing to order the congressional maps redrawn. The next Supreme Court decision about gerrymandering could come from North Carolina where the GOP controls 10 of 13 congressional districts.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly struck down Minnesota’s ban on political apparel in polling places with the 7-2 ruling that the law was too broad. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a state may prohibit some apparel, but it must have a “reasonable” line. An example is the California law that defines political information.

Last week, a 4-4 split on the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy recused himself left in place a lower court decision supporting the salmon rights of 21 Northwest Native American tribes who sued Washington state for the replacement of almost 1,000 culverts. The decision, that the state cannot impede the salmon that tribes have a right to fish, could affect development, construction, and farming practices in the Northwest by engaging tribes in decision-making.  Tribes may also look at other treaty rights outside fishing and hunting, such as the preservation of national parks and opposition to pipelines.

Healthcare specialist Mark Horton’s lawsuit against St. Louis-based Midwest Geriatric Management, now pending in the 8th Circuit Court, comes from the company’s pulling his job offer after it discovered he is gay. Major companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb joined EEOC to support Horton’s case; conservative states oppose it. The 2nd Circuit Court ruled that the Civil Right Act protects LGBTQ workers.

A federal judge in Missouri this week upheld a state law restricting access to medication to induce abortions as the case awaits trial.

A California appeals court reinstated the state’s right-to-die law until a lawsuit goes to court. A lower court had blocked the law on the grounds that the legislature could not pass the law during a special session limited to other issues. Oregon was the first to pass a death-with-dignity law in 1997 before it was joined by Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

Kentucky is suing Walgreens for allegedly aggravating the opioid crisis as both distributor and dispenser in filling huge quantities of prescription narcotic pain medication. This is the sixth opioid-related lawsuit filed by Kentucky. Other states are doing the same—Florida, Delaware, and the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. Massachusetts is also suing Purdue Pharma and 16 of the OxyContin maker’s executives for misleading doctors and patients about the risks of opioids. Alabama filed a suit against the company four months ago.

A federal judge blocked Indiana from immediately purging registered voters with personal records elsewhere on the faulty Crosschecks computer program.

A question about citizenship abruptly added to the 2020 census with no vetting has brought lawsuits from over two dozen states and cities in opposition. The subsequent release of 1,320 internal memos, emails, and other documents sheds light on this decision. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the cost of the last-minute addition would be insignificant, but John Abowd, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, conservatively estimates the expense at $27.5 million. The question came from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, known for his work to disenfranchise progressive voter. He objected to undocumented immigrants being used to determine the number of congressional seats, despite the fact that this constitutional practice has been used since the first census in 1790.

Earlier this year, Kobach was fined $1,000 for misleading the court about documents in a folder he took to a meeting with DDT soon after the presidential election. Kobach said he paid the fee “out of his own pocket,” but he used a state credit card issued to Craig McCullah, deputy assistant secretary of state under Kobach, for the payment. McCullah, in Ukraine deployed with the Oklahoma Army National Guard when the payment was made, was not told about it. Kobach was also found to have disobeyed orders to notify thousands of Kansans that they were legally registered to vote in 2016. He is running for governor of Kansas.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry was suspended from the bench for 32 counts of lying and using his public office for personal gain. Those seem to be actions reserved for the president of the United States.

January 23, 2018

How DDT Claims to Make U.S. Safe

More news from the last week of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) of his first year:

DDT’s request for more foreign workers at his winery could benefit from Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) proposed bill deporting all immigrant workers and replacing them with migrant workers who can be exploited by removing benefits such as housing and transportation, gutting protections and drastically lowering wages. Employers could withhold ten percent of wages to deposit them into a U.S. embassy or consulate in the workers’ home countries.

DDT has stopped a program to help health workers and families identify effective substance abuse and behavioral health programs.

Republicans reauthorized the warrantless surveillance act of Section 702 and added warrantless searches of millions of Americans’ online and phone communications. The bill almost failed when DDT heard Andrew Napolitano tell Fox & Friends that Section 702 was responsible for accusing DDT of Russian collusion, and DDT tweeted against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spent 30 minutes on the phone explaining the bill to DDT.

Immigrant-hater Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), favored by DDT, is threatening dissenting constituents with police action even for written communication.

The Pentagon took climate change from its National Defense Strategy, added in George W. Bush’s 2008 report. The term also disappeared from the list of threats in the National Security Strategy. A 1990 U.S. Naval War College report found that its operations could be greatly affected by global climate change. The world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, has routine flooding, even on sunny days, with no plans to fix the problem.

With his new sycophant Mike Mulvaney in charge of the consumer bureau, DDT plans to let the $40 billion payday lending industry prey on the poor after the industry paid $8 million to GOP legislators and part and $1,275,000 to DDT’s inauguration. Mulvaney’s piece to drop payday lending rules got him $55,000 in campaign donations. The Community Financial Services Association of America’s annual conference is scheduled at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) did even better from the new tax bill; he got $1 million–$500,000 from the Koch brothers for saving them 40 percent of their tax bill a special deduction for oil and gas investors and another $500,000 from five other businessmen.

The Supreme Court declared that the redrawing of North Carolina’s GOP-oriented gerrymandered districts on hold during an appeal. In a state with a bare majority for Republicans, they took ten of thirteen House positions in the last election.

A month ago, DDT congratulated the LGBTQ  Log Cabin Republicans on their 40th anniversary and declared them “equal” under the law and the constitution. This week, he continued his persecution of LGBTQ people by promoting the discriminatory practice of healthcare workers denying treatment of LGBTQ patients for moral or religious reasons through a new division of the civil right office. Before President Obama, an ambulance driver’s refusal to take a transgender woman to a hospital led to her death, lesbian couples were denied fertility treatment, and children of same-gender couples were denied health care. The Department of Education is already refusing to hear civil rights complaints from transgender students.

The new guidelines can discriminate against other people, including denying access to abortions, “assisted suicide,” sterilization, in vitro fertilization, contraception, and other “certain health-care services.” Some people have access only to Catholic-based healthcare, which controls over 14 percent of the hospitals in the United States and 40 percent of the hospitals in five states.

The investigation into Russian involvement with DDT still moves forward.

The National Rifle Association is now involved in the Russian connection after the discovery that Russia gave them money in their work to elect DDT. Other suspicious activities are connected to financial activity with Russia during crisis times for that country in Ukraine.

Steve Bannon so infuriated the House Intelligence Committee by saying that the White House wouldn’t let him answer questions that they slapped him with a subpoena on the spot. Only a president can use executive privilege to not answer questions; anyone else must use their 5th Amendment rights. Bannon did slip up and admitted that he talked to Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Mark Corallo about Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians in the Trump Tower. Bannon’s lawyer was on the phone with a White House official during the testimony, possibly an obstruction of justice. Special investigator Robert Mueller also subpoenaed Bannon to testify before a grand jury. Bannon dressed up for his House appearance.

The week’s maybe most bizarre story fits into a thriller novel. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, was warned a year ago about his friendship with Wendi Deng Murdoch because she might be using him to promote China’s business interests. Wendi Deng is the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, divorced after a purported affair with UK’s former prime minister Tony Blair, and a close friend of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump. Wendy Deng lobbied for a $100 million Chinese garden fewer than five miles from the Capitol and the White House that included a tower tall enough to be used for surveillance. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, broke the story.

Appointments:

The good news! Because of his vicious racist, sexist, and homophobic statements, Carl Higbie has resigned as nominee for chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that manages programs such as AmeriCorps and other volunteer services.

Kenneth Marcus’ nomination to head up the Office for Civil Rights will have a full vote after the party-line vote of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. Over 200 civil rights organizations opposed his confirmation after his statement that he could not think of any situation in which he would disagree with DDT’s positions on women’s rights or civil rights. Marcus opposes affirmative action and equal opportunity, stating that evidence of racial disparities in student discipline, i.e., black students suffering harsh discipline at much higher rates than white students, comes from paperwork errors. He also supports the reversal of guidance on campus sexual assault and opposes the Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of human rights violations against the LGBTQ community. The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for protecting students from discrimination.

Ten of 12 members of the National Park Service Advisory Board quit after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke failed to meet with the committee. Created in 1935, the board helps preserve American heritage by designating historic or natural landmarks. Zinke previously disbanded the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science.

Sexual Misconduct:

Another woman, Alana Evans, has claimed that DDT offered her money to “party.” Recent revelations of cover ups show that DDT is willing to lie about his sexual affairs (a given), making him vulnerable to blackmail and extortion. DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid porn queen Stormy Daniels through a shell company that he created in Delaware.

The Missouri GOP governor in trouble for blackmailing a woman after having an affair with her and then taking nude photographs of her under duress is in more trouble. Eric Greitens refused to resign, despite bipartisan pressure, and used a state-paid lawyer to try to make the problem go away. A GOP state senator tweeted, “Stick a fork in him.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) has been removed from the Ethics Committee after it was reported he used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle a misconduct complaint by a decades-younger former staffer. The Ethics Committee will investigate Meehan.

Tennessee megachurch pastor Andy Savage chuckled through his description of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old congregant and called it consensual and “flirtatious.” His congregation had previously applauded his “confession,” but his publisher pulled his book and he’s on a leave of absence from his pastor position.

Almost 140 girls and women have given testimony against Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics medical coordinator, in a sentence hearing about his sexual assaults conviction. Nassar, 54, already has a 60-year federal sentence for a child pornography conviction and pled guilty to several state sexual assault charges. An NCAA investigation is exploring why Michigan State refused to address repeated reports of sexual abuse by their former university faculty member and practicing physician at the school’s sports medicine clinic from 1997 until he was fired in 2016. A cross country runner was told that he “knew what he was doing” when he penetrated her vagina for a hamstring “treatment.” All other complaints were dismissed.

The GOP supporting “family values” has gotten rid of one “bad hombre”: Jorge Garcia, brought to the U.S. involuntarily 29 years ago, is married to a U.S. citizen, has two U.S. citizen kids, and has no criminal record. He regularly reported to his ICE check-in and spent $125,000 trying to legally stay in the country. This week ICE deported him on Martin Luther King Jr Day. And he’s not the first in that situation to be separated from his family.

Another loss is Lukasz Niec, 5 years old when his parents brought him and his sister legally to the United States from Poland in 1979, two years before the country’s authoritarian communist government declared martial law. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has visited Poland only once when he was a teenager. With a green card, Niec became a legal permanent resident and a doctor, like both his parents. ICE arrested the 43-year-old man at his home and detained him in a county jail. As a teenager, he had two misdemeanor convictions of malicious destruction of property under $100 and receiving and concealing stolen property over $100. The second offense had been expunged from his criminal record.

DDT: Make our country safe.

June 27, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Two – Russia, Other Bizarre Happenings

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) seemed tamer earlier last week, but he always winds up before his weekend vacations when he can ditch his keepers. Maybe his daily 6:30 am calls to his legal time have given him food for thought. He has far too many lawyers for a man who has nothing to hide. Some of his own lawyers are even hiring their own lawyers.

DDT’s biggest loss to Russia could be the Senate vote of 98-2 that limits DDT’s power to remove sanctions from Russia. The U.S. shooting down a Syrian Air Force fighter didn’t make this nation popular with Russia, a Syrian supporter. In retaliation, Russia declared any U.S.-led coalition craft west of the Euphrates river as a possible target and ended the Syrian air safety agreement with the U.S. to avoid aircraft collisions. DDT had already turned all military decisions to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, thereby losing all control and possibly forecasting war. The result was 4,000 more troops sent to Afghanistan and a massive increase in U.S.-caused civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq, more than 35 percent more in five months since DDT’s inauguration than in all of 2016. May saw a record number of women and children killed. It was only two months ago that DDT said that “we’re not going into Syria.”

Each week gives greater information about Russian hacking into the U.S. election, including attempts to delete or change voter data. A DHS official testified that 21 states were target although a total of 39 states is possible.

Russian revelations keep surfacing. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn missed reporting a 2015 trip to Saudi Arabia lobbying a U.S./Russia business plan to build nuclear reactors. The legality of foreign payments to Michael Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kianthe is also being investigated.  Another casualty could be CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who kept briefing Flynn on highly classified secrets after he knew Flynn was subject to Russian blackmail. The Justice Department has one month to make public part of AG Jeff Sessions’ clearance form that was supposed to disclose Russian official contact, according to a U.S. District Court judge. Sessions has hired his own lawyer. The judge gave the same time limit to search Chief of Staff Reince Priebus’ communication with the FBI to repudiate links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Much of the media was taken up last week with the announcement of the senate health care bill, prepared in secret by GOP leader’s staffers, according to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). The sole purpose of the bill is tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, indicating that the name might be better Trumpcut than Trumpcare.

In his continuation of hosting foreign leaders—perhaps hoping that they will want his golf courses and resorts—DDT praised the U.S. for doing “a good job building [the Panama Canal].” Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela responded, “Yeah, about 100 years ago.”

The Supreme Court decided to hear a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin that could—or might not—reduce voter suppression throughout the United States. The fourth solid red district stayed red after reelections for DDT’s nominations. All of them, however, are turning purple as the most recent one in Georgia where Dem Jon Osoff lost by under two points after GOP Tom Price won it by 23 percent just six months ago. Democrats overperformed in the other elections too, despite the Republians’ lies.

The circus of White House press conferences continued with refusals to even tape the event before Spicer backed down. Despite rumors of Sean Spicer’s departure—and his requirement to interview for his replacement—the press secretary is still there and repeating his line about not speaking to DDT about the subject of the question, any question.

After weeks of teasing his audience about possible tapes of himself and former FBI director James Comey, DDT has announced that he lied, that there are no tapes. His claim about taping could be defined as an attempt to intimidate a witness. DDT could still be lying about the existence of tapes if he thinks that they don’t support his version of conversations with Comey. According to former employees, DDT taped conversations at Trump Tower in New York City and recorded his guests’ telephone calls at Mar-a-Lago. To cover himself, DDT said that he didn’t rule out the possibility that “electronic surveillance” had picked up their talks.

DDT sent a statement with “warm greetings” to Muslims celebrating Ramadan but eliminated the two-decade tradition of an Iftar dinner representing the end of the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Two organizations are suing DDT for illegally destroying communications that federal law demands be preserved. Messages sent from the White House supposedly use an “auto-delete” app to erase messages after they are read. Jordan Libowitz, CREW spokesman, said that the purpose is to “keep them secret from the American people,” as part of a “larger, troubling pattern” of information suppression in the Trump administration, which also includes deletion of the president’s tweets.” DDT continually slammed Hillary Clinton for not saving her emails, asking Russia to find them.

Ivanka Trump is also involved in a lawsuit. She has been ordered to testify in a lawsuit from an Italian shoemaker who is accusing her of copying one of his designs.

DDT has gone back to finding ambassadors. He picked two owners of sports franchises, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to go to the UK and former LA Dodgers baseball team owner Jamie McCourt for Belgium. Top donor and fundraiser Kelly Knight Craft may be headed to Canada. She and her husband Joe Craft, president of a coal company Alliance Resource Partners, gave $1.3 million to GOP candidates and SuperPACs last year. Fourteen of his 19 ambassador picks are campaign donors.

In another choice, DDT nominated Christopher Wray to replace James Comey as head of the FBI. In early January 2017, Wray deleted a line from his law firm bio referencing a 2006 case in which he represented a U.S. energy executive being investigated by the Russian government. As Chris Christie’s personal lawyer, Wray got the New Jersey governor off from a charge of the George Washington Bridge closing. Wray had a phone with text messages and a former staffer during legislative testimony that Christie claimed he gave to the Department of Justice, but a judge refused to subpoena the phone in evidence against Christie. Wray’s firm also worked on DDT’s “blind trust.” Several candidates for the FBI position had already withdrawn from consideration.

A Washington Post analysis found that DDT’s Mar-a-Lago club is booking fewer charity banquets and events since his campaign than in the previous seven years. These banquets account for almost half the annual revenue. DDT’s  real estate business is also struggling with a decline in condo and land sales. Listing prices for several high-end NYC condos are being drastically cut while the city’s condo market is booming. DDT did manage to sell a penthouse to a Chinese American tied to high-ranking Chinese government officials and organizations linked to Chinese military intelligence groups. The large revenue on DDT’s financial disclosure forms show gross and not net revenue.

DDT tried to rally his troops in a speech in Iowa ten days ago. It was his first west of the Mississippi, and he told at least 18 lies according to fact checkers. One was his promise to pass “new immigration rules which say that those seeking admission into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”  DDT’s mandate has been law for 20 years. He also bragged about bringing back coal jobs while delivering multiple lies about the Paris Agreement. Iowa not only has no coal jobs but also gets one-third of its electricity from wind. DDT ridiculed the state for its wind energy, indicating that people will have no electricity when the wind doesn’t blow and complaining about wind turbines “killing all the birds.” Cell phone towers killed 6.8 million birds a year, and glass buildings do away with one billion. Climate change can finish off the rest of them.

Last fall DDT proudly announced that he had saved jobs because Ford wouldn’t be expanding its production in Mexico. The corporation is centralizing its small-car production in China. Ford has said it will cut as many as 1,400 jobs in less than a year. General Motors has cut production at four U.S. assembly lines, costing 4,400 workers their jobs. Fiat Chrysler laid off another 1,300 workers at their assembly line in Detroit. The 600 Carrier jobs that DDT bragged about saving last year are going to Mexico, and Boeing is pink-slipping an unknown number of employees.

As Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said,  American leadership was better under President Obama than under DDT.

[Note: My apologies for being late with the 22nd week. Look for the 23rd week in a few days. DDT keeps making news!]

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