Nel's New Day

March 2, 2020

DDT: Week 162 – Courts Giveth, Taketh Away

Last week while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tried to dodge covid-19 problems and bring up the stock market by lying, lots of other things happened. Here’s a listing:

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, 67, was been found guilty of two of five charges: criminal sexual act in the first degree (maximum 4 years) and rape in the third degree (maximum 25 years). His legal woes aren’t over: the LA County DA has charged Weinstein with four felony counts of sexual assault. Weinstein was the center of the #MeToo movement that erupted on October 15, 2017.

GOP-appointed judges on the Ninth Circuit Court permits DDT’s “gag rule” which bans federal funding from the low-income Title X program for clinics that inform patients of places where they can obtain abortions. The ruling overturns lower court injunctions in California, Oregon, and Washington. Plaintiffs argued that the rule violates “nondirective” pregnancy counseling and referrals for patients who request them, a 1996 congressional mandate.

Overturning a lower court, the 2nd Circuit Court ruled that DDT can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement. The decision requires cities and states to give federal immigration authorities access to jails and advance notice before releasing undocumented immigrants before getting grant money. Federal appeals courts in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco disagree and uphold lower-court injunctions.

In a blow against the U.S. Constitution, the District of Columbia Circuit Court panel overturned a lower court and ruled that former White House counsel Don McGahn can defy a congressional subpoena for his testimony. The Democrats can appeal the 2-1 ruling.

On the same day, the 9th Circuit Court reversed DDT’s “remain in Mexico” order, ruling that the administration must stop requiring Central American asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico pending US approval. Since DDT’s order, there have been more than 800 reports of kidnapping, rape and other violent crimes against migrants waiting in Mexico. Another 9th Circuit decision also blocked the program but suspended its decision until tonight so that the government could respond. Plaintiffs have until the end of tomorow.

A Portland (OR) jury accepted a climate necessity defense and refused to convict five Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded a train track use to transport oil. Because one of the six jury members voted to convict, the criminal trespassing cased ended in a mistrial. Multnomah will need to decide whether to re-prosecute the case.

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, is leading the purge at the White House with the aid of 29-year-old Johnny McEntee. Fired as DDT’s personal aide in 2018 for “serious financial crimes,” he now heads up DDT’s personnel office. Thomas’ group Groundswell sends requests to fire officials classified as “Never Trump” and “Deep State” and recommends the replacements of DDT loyalists, several hired by Fox to tout (aka lie) about DDT’s accomplishments. A top official for McEntee in the Presidential Personnel Office to help him vet employees is a college senior who was earlier HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s confidential assistant. The big purge comes in an administration with 82 percent more turnover in its first three years than any of the previous five presidents. Almost 40 percent of senior positions have two or more replacements.

DDT wants to purge Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. He tweeted that they “should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!” Paul Waldman wrote:

“In other words: A Supreme Court justice who likes me, whom I appointed, who shares my agenda, who rules in my favor at every opportunity, or whose wife acts as an adviser to my White House? Those justices should absolutely be voting in cases involving me personally and my administration. But any hint of disagreement with me over anything means that a justice should be removed from considering any case in which I’m involved.”

DDT appointed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the new Director of Intelligence to replace Richard Grenell. Ratcliffe was an earlier choice for the job but withdrew his name from appointment because even GOP senators were not pleased with the choice. Ratcliffe falsely took entire credit for a multistate, multiagency operation when he wrote on his website that he “arrested over 300 illegal aliens on a single day.” Prosecutors charged only 45 workers, and six of the cases were dismissed, two of them U.S. citizens. A.J. Irwin, a former immigration investigator involved in planning stages, called the operation “a costly failure, … a waste of money and hype.” In another website claim, Ratcliffe wrote he had tried suspects accused of funneling money to the Hamas terrorist group, but in reality, he investigated side issues related to an initial mistrial but did not prosecute the case. Ratcliffe also promoted a company accused of reprisal against a whistleblower and their cybersecurity efforts in shutting down a critical government cybersecurity office. The company was Ratcliffe’s third-largest campaign donor for his upcoming re-election. DDT tweeted that he “is an outstanding man of great talent.”

House Democrats are looking into why DDT told the VA to “corner the market on a new antidepressant from Johnson & Johnson and whether DDT’s shadow advisory group to VA from Mar-a-Lago have stakes in the company. In 2018, DDT gave the three men influence (aka control) over the VA despite their lack of relevant experience. The drug Spravato was developed as a treatment to stop veterans from committing suicide, but the FDA restricted the drug because of “the risk of serious adverse outcomes” and “the potential for abuse and misuse.” In one trial, six people taking the drug died, including three by suicide. There were no deaths among the patients taking a placebo. The Government Accountability Office is also investigating the Mar-a-Lago trio.

J. Wesley Boyd, a psychiatry professor specializing in bioethics at Harvard Medical School, cited the drug’s similarity to the anesthetic ketamine and said, “[Spravato] was derived from a very inexpensive drug with a minor chemical tweak and then marketed at an outrageously high price.” DDT was reported to say about Spravato:

“I had seen it somewhere, and I’ve read it, regularly, quite a bit about it. I said, ‘Order — corner the market on it and give it to anybody that has the problem.’”

Trump told a crowd at the Economic Club of New York that his daughter Ivanka has personally created 14 million new jobs. From the New York Magazine:

“The entire U.S. economy has created fewer than 6 million new jobs since Trump took office. So Trump is crediting his daughter with having personally created more than 200 percent of all new jobs in the United States. This is like supply-side economics but for authoritarian nepotism. Exactly how she did this remains a subject of some confusion. The mechanism involves the ‘Pledge to America’s Workers,’ in which the chief executives of various firms promise to create some arbitrary number of training and other opportunities … Some of the companies … admitted they had simply credited all real (or, in some cases, hypothetical) job openings to the Ivanka initiative.”

AG Bill Barr and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attended the National Religious Broadcasters Convention and preached their ideology of making the U.S. into a theocracy. Barr’s speech, sponsored by Save the Persecuted Christians headed by far-right conspiracy theorist and Islamophobe Frank Gaffney Jr, railed against secularism. DeVos called for more government support for religious schools. DDT’s attorney Jay Sekulow, part of DDT’s defense team at the impeachment trial, had to cancel his appearance because of illness.

History may give Stephen Miller an idea to disenfranchise and deport more people. The 1907 Expatriation Act took citizenship from women who married noncitizens; they could become naturalized citizens if their husbands did. This law did not apply to men who married non-citizens. The Supreme Court upheld the law in Mackenzie v. Hare (1915) because women knew the consequence of their marriages. During World War I, U.S. women who married Germans and lost their citizenship were forced to register as enemy aliens. Women’s suffrage in 1920 led to the Cable Act in 1922 allowing women to keep their citizenship if married to men who could become citizens. Married women, however, had to petition the government to regain their citizenship and could be denied if husbands weren’t eligible for citizenship, for example all Asians. Females lost citizenship if married to a non-citizen and living away from the U.S. for two years. In 1931 women kept their citizenship even if they married an Asian although not all Asians gained naturalization rights until 1952. Finally, an act in 1940 provided that all women could regain their citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance, but only if they resided continuously in the U.S. since their marriage.  

August 12, 2013

GOP Uses Subversion, Blackmail to Win

The dog days of August are here, and Congress has gone to their town hall meetings. But before they left Washington, they laid some plans. The House Republican Conference put together a planning kit, “Fighting Washington for All Americans,” to help survive those awkward meetings with the constituents. The focus is a “fierce hatred of all things Washington.”

The planners must have forgotten that the House has a GOP majority led by GOP Speaker John Boehner and GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Even Boehner missed the irony when he insisted that voters “don’t trust a Democratic-controlled Washington.”

Following are a few brilliant NRC ideas:

  • Create and share six-second videos through Vine, a social-media tool. (That way they might not say all those things that get them in trouble!)
  • Publish op-eds in local media on the IRA scandal. (There IS no IRS scandal!)
  • Plant questions at local events “to get the conversation rolling in the right direction.” (But no advice about what to do when somebody doesn’t follow that direction!)
  • Go on an “Energy Production Facility Tour” and be sure to “wear a hard hat,” posting this and other events on Vine. (Does that mean right next to all the oil spills in the pipelines?!)

There’s also a list of talking points for the media prepared by conservatives including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginn,i for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation.” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones. Called Groundswell, the coalition includes congressional GOP aides and such notable wingnut as former ambassador John Bolton, former Rep. Allen West (R-FL). and GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Their plans include getting media coverage for their positions on issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, the sequester, and scandals while developing “action items.”

Groundswell has come up with ideas to attract minorities and lose racist terms such as “GOP.” A replacement term, according to the group, could be “Fredrick Douglas Republican.” (They might want to spell “Douglass” correctly.) They think that conservatives need to drop issues such as “immigration, gay marriage and boy scouts” to concentrate on slamming President Obama’s record and touting Benghazi as a full-fledged scandal.

While Groundswell is trying to attract minorities, states are busily disenfranchising as many of them as possible and alienating the rest of them along the way. The anti-immigration reform contingent is driving away Latino voters, and GOP policymakers have continued their crusade against women’s reproductive rights.

Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Conference, has assured the religious right extremists that the party is not in danger of becoming more “tolerant.” On Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, David Brody said that conservative evangelical voters were nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant.”

Priebus reassured Brody. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.” The party chairman said that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.” According to Priebus, the party will continue to embrace life and marriage.

This statement is a move backward from his position four months earlier:

“We do have a platform, and we adhere to that platform, but it doesn’t mean that we divide and subtract people from our party. I don’t believe we need to act like Old Testament heretics. [Republicans] have to strike a balance between principle and grace and respect.”

Priebus moved on to threatening NBC and CNN with a boycott of GOP primary debates over the possibility of films on both networks about Hillary Clinton. He accused them of flagrant “support” of a Democratic candidate for President of the United States, despite the fact that she has not declared herself a candidate.

He went farther in his complaints about the networks on Sean Hannity:

”In 2012 you had all these liberal networks with Republican primary candidates. Pitting one against the other, asking wedge question issues, then would later be used by the Democratic candidate. Isn’t that right?”

CNN is far from being “liberal,” and most of us think that the purpose of debates is to find out what the candidates think—or don’t, in the case of several on the stage last time. Yet Priebus continued whining:

“The problem we have now is we’ve got a bunch of moderators in the business of making news at the expense of the party and our candidates and we just can’t do it anymore. The moderators pushed the candidates in hypothetical directions that would never be reality.”

One of those hypotheticals was “What would you do in your first day of office?”

Priebus’ interview with Erin Burnett on CNN’s Up Front was pretty much the same until she showed a old clip at the end of the program with a statement from Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes:

“Any candidate for high office of either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists. And any candidate who cannot answer direct, simple, and even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters.”

Fox’s chief political correspondent continued Ailes’ message during another Priebus interview:

“Historically national political parties have had no control over presidential primary debates. The media, sometimes partnering with other organizations, sets the terms and lets the candidate decide it’s in their interest to take part or stay on the sidelines.”

What Priebus really wants is a drastic reduction in the number of GOP presidential debates. He described the 2012 round as “a 23-debate traveling circus” with “those people that are actually spending their time and money promoting our opponents.” Too many candidates in a debate is “an unhealthy thing for our party,” Priebus said.

Both Priebus and the media have glossed over the last Hillary Clinton movie that caused the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United that allowed corporations to buy elections. A law prohibited corporations and unions from funding “electioneering communications” (aka broadcast ads naming candidates) within 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election, but the FEC permitted the showing of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, criticizing George W. Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks.

The non-profit group Citizens United pretended to be a commercial filmmaker and produced “documentaries” about candidates. When the organization tried to run ads in early 2008 on Hillary: The Movie which it planned to run on DirecTV, a federal court ruled that the ads violated the law because the sole purpose was to discredit her candidacy for president. The Supreme court not only overturned the lower court ruling but also permitted corporations to give vast amounts of anonymous monies to support candidates.

Priebus doesn’t care that NBC News, which would run the debates, is completely separate from NBC Entertainment, which would run the film. Priebus doesn’t care whether the documentaries might be partly uncomplimentary. But he’s not upset about the fact that Fox News, the media arm of the GOP, might be included in the production company of the unnamed mini-series that would star Diane Lane as Hillary Clinton. Priebus told CNN’s Candy Crowley that this was fine because Fox would simply be assembling the project, not airing it.

The RNC chair said that he plans to reject debate moderators unless he considers them sufficiently “interested in the future of the Republican Party and our nominees.” If Priebus can’t use the law to stop the showing of any documentaries about non-candidates, he’ll use blackmail.

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