Nel's New Day

October 4, 2022

News: Supreme Court, DDT Plus More

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) head to Mesa (AZ) on October 9 for another rally so supposedly campaign for his endorsed candidates Kari Lake (governor) and Blake Masters (U.S. Senate). No mention of another far-right GOP candidate Mark Finchem for Secretary of State. The day before, October 8, he’ll be at the Minden-Tahoe (NV) Airport for Adam Laxalt (U.S. Senate), Joe Lombardo (governor), and “the entire Nevada Trump ticket.” At DDT’s rally last week, people started leaving after 15 minutes, almost two hours early, from the facility not filled to capacity. 

As befits their ideology, six conservative justices appear to lean on their second day toward narrowing voting rights by permitting racial gerrymandering even after a Circuit Court three-judge panel, two of them DDT appointees, ruled the racial discrimination violated the Voter Rights Act (VRA). Justice Samuel Alito went the farthest, possibly willing to make the legal challenges against racial gerrymander even more stringent by “revisiting” Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), in which a unanimous vote blocked North Carolina from partisan racial gerrymandering.  

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson brilliantly defended the VRA, at least the small piece left after Roberts court destroyed an important part of it in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) to permit racial discrimination and opened the South to voting oppression laws.

For years, conservative justices have driven poor decisions through SCOTUS through their personal views of originalism of WWTFFD—What Would the Founding Fathers Do. Conservative justices have insisted that the Constitution is “colorblind,” allowing them to allow racial discrimination by saying it wasn’t discriminatory. Jackson refused to give in to them. In the arguments on Merrill v. Mulligan to determine the Alabama districting case, the theory emerged again from conservatives. Jackson tutored them and Alabama’s lawyer in the purpose of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments: “provide equal opportunity for formerly enslaved people, using color-conscious remedies whenever necessary to put them on the same plane as whites,” according to Mark Joseph Stern. She added that drilling down in the Constitution shows “that the Framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause, the 14th, the 15th Amendment, in a race-conscious way.”

Alabama Republicans argue that protecting Black citizens’ voting power would violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. Jackson may lose, but she won’t give up without a fight.

In other business, the Supremes declined to hear Costello v. Carter, challenging Pennsylvania’s court-approved congressional map after the GOP legislature deadlocked with the Democratic governor, an issue with the high court’s upcoming arguments on Moore v. Harper. Perhaps they figure a ruling to give state legislatures carte blanche would render the case moot. Tragically, the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and strong supporter of voting rights, Max Baer, died last Friday. The governor appoints his replacement until an election in 2023, but the legislature may not confirm the current governor’s choice. If extremely far-right Doug Mastriano gets elected in five weeks, the replacement can be a disaster for all rights in the state. In Pennsylvania, the governor also appoints the Secretary of State, who manages elections.

The Supreme Court has another chance to take on a gun issue, this time from Mexico. Alejandro Celorio, the country’s lead attorney, wants to sue U.S. gun manufacturers.  Last year, a judge dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against eight companies making and selling weapons favored by drug cartels with a law giving U.S. companies immunity from liability for guns illegally used by criminals. The lawsuit asserts 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are illegally trafficked from the U.S. with the eight companies making over two-thirds of those weapons.    

DDT didn’t waste time sending his appeal to overturn the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court to allow the DOJ to start examining classified documents seized from Mar-a-Lago on August 8; he went directly to Justice Clarence Thomas. He wants the court to give the documents back to his special master. Thomas can refer DDT’s request to the full court, but the question is whether he will.   

Another question is whether anyone will trust DDT with classified documents after 14 of his officials reported on his four-year failure to follow guidelines for handling sensitive government documents. One adviser still seeing him regularly describes him as a “pack rat” and a “hoarder.” Some classified documents could be seen by anyone walking by him, and he didn’t always have them for official purposes.  

This week, DDT was directly connected to withholding federal documents when he asked Alex Cannon, a former DDT lawyer, to lie to the National Archives last February and tell the agency that DDT returned everything the archives wanted. Now DDT is accusing the Archives, as well as the FBI, for planting documents at Mar-a-Lago.  

There’s also DDT’s problems with his social media platform. After months of hype about Digital World, the company behind Truth Social, over three dozen disillusioned investors want a way out of the $1.3 billion to take the startup public. Last October, Digital World’s stock skyrocketed from $10 to $175 but dropped to $17.10 this week, ten percent of its high. A year later, the company faces the threat of liquidation, and backers had to pony up another $2.9 million in September to extend a deadline until December 8 for finalizing the deal. Digital World already moved from luxurious office space to a UPS store.

Bad news has piled up: a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into illegal stock trading, a lawsuit by a scorned business partner against going public, investors promising $138 million have already pulled out, and reports that the social media platform isn’t paying its bills. Truth Social’s web host, RightForge, threatens legal action with claims that it is owed $1.6 million after the social platform paid for only three months since Truth Social inception in February 2021. In response to questions about the financial viability of Digital World, DDT said, “I don’t need financing. I’m really rich!” He just doesn’t pay his bills.

Investors may be unnerved by the trend for Truth Social to run QAnon advertising explicitly referencing a coming storm and including Q in the logo. The ads follow DDT sharing posts from over 100 QAnon accounts with images of DDT wearing a Q lapel pin. This week, he promoted QAnon and its predisposition of violence by tagging its image of a burning Q on top of the U.S. flag. Recent DDT’s and Truth Social’s promotion of QAnon has occurred at the same time as an increase in QAnon-linked violence. In June, Kash Patel, former DDT official and Truth Social board member, said, “We try to incorporate [QAnon] into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences. Analysts state the social platform’s biggest problem is its narrow audience, lacking diversity of opinion and content—an echo chamber for DDT’s followers. 

DDT has twice endorsed Jair Bolsonaro for his last Sunday’s election, but the “Trump of the Tropics” lost his election by over five points. Unfortunately, his opponent, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was short of 50 percent by 1.2 percent. The runoff is on October 30.

After VP Kamala Harris said that North Korea has a “very important relationship” with the U.S., DDGT called her a “North Korea sympathizer.” This from the man who “fell in love” with Kim Jong-Un.

Eager for more attention, DDT is suing CNN for defamation; he wants $475 million. He claimed the network used its influence to defeat him politically.

More clarity has come out about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ use of federal monies authorized for Florida use to ship 48 migrants from San Antonio (TX) to Martha’s Vineyard after lying to them about their advantages and destination. Migrants were lured onto the flight with lies from a woman calling herself “Perla.” Her last name is Huerta, and she is allegedly a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent” discharged after two decades in the U.S. Army that included several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was sent from Tampa to Texas to help execute DeSantis’ plot. Migrants suing DeSantis plan to name Huerta as a defendant in the civil suit, leaving her open to deposing her for details about Florida administration’s potential involvement in the deception. Under immigration law, the asylum seekers aren’t “unauthorized aliens” as DeSantis claims.

Possibly to put the GOP back into control of the U.S. government, OPEC may cut oil production at a Wednesday meeting, driving up the price of gas in the U.S. Since June, gas prices have dropped by one-third from $120 to $80 a barrel, easing inflation. OPEC countries want to have greater control over the world’s oil production as the U.S. became a bigger player in the oil market. OPEC also blames the dollar’s rising strength for decreasing revenues.

Another Republican violated his state’s voting laws by creating a fake ID and using it to vote in multiple elections, this one Alabama’s GOP chairman John Wahl. The state government never issued him an ID, and he wasn’t on any state list of employees. Wahl claimed State Auditor Jim Zeigler gave him permission to make the ID himself, but Secretary of State John Merrill said he told Wahl it is not a valid voter ID. Although Wahl blamed poll workers for forcing him to use the ID through harassment, he also had a driver’s license that he could have used for a legal ID when voting. And he lied about not having made the ID himself.  

August 20, 2022

Persecution: The Favorite GOP Strategy

[Drought Update]: Yesterday’s blog post on climate disasters focused primarily on the U.S., but other areas face more calamities. In Europe, one of the worst droughts on record uncovered sunken German warships in the Serbian section of the Danube River, part of a Nazi Black Sea fleet sunk in 1944 while fleeing Soviet troops. Loaded with unexploded ordnance, the ships are a threat to fishing and shipping vessels squeezing by in half the 110-yard stretch of the river. Removal of the over 20 ships and their explosive loads will cost $30 million.

In July, a Roman bridge built during the first century BC was uncovered in the Tiber River, and in August, a village flooded in 1963 to build a dam appeared in the Belesar reservoir in Spain. Other submerged towns and villages in Spain surfaced in February with intact house windows and walls. Almost half of EU is under “warning,” connoting a severe drought and major moisture deficit and threatening shipping routes, food supply, and electricity. The heat wave leaves the Iberian peninsula drier than any time in the past 1,200 years and revealed stones from 5000 BC known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal, the “Spanish Stonehenge.”

The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t quit its rulings during the summer, this one even in favor of Georgia’s Black voters. Lower courts conflicted in their decisions regarding elections for members of the state’s public service commission. They represent specific districts but are elected in a statewide race, diluting the Black vote, according to one judge. The judge, appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered a November election be postponed for two commissioners’ seats so that the state legislature could create a new system. Another judge had allowed the election to proceed although he found the election violated the Voting Rights Act.

The 11th Circuit Court halted the ruling and cited the “Purcell principle,” disallowing changes in elections immediately before an election. The Supreme Court overturned the appeals’ court decision in its finding that the current public service commission election system discriminates against Black voters. The issue isn’t settled yet because the circuit court can continue deliberating about overturning the postponement. Another commission candidate had been refused for not meeting the district’s one-year residency requirement, but a Fulton County judge reinstated her because she had been targeted for exclusion during redistricting based on her residency. Text messages showed that a revision of a new map came after the Republican commissioner responsible for drawing the maps had been sent the candidate’s address.

In another Georgia decision, a judge refused to block the provision in the state’s new voter suppression law banning people giving food and water to voters who may have to wait in line as long as ten hours—if they are low-income and/or minorities. He said he didn’t want to change the process from the primaries.

After undated Pennsylvania ballots have collected dust for over three months since the May primary election, a judge ordered three counties to include them in their certified results for the primary election. Mail-in ballots in the state require a date on the declaration on the return envelope. That ruling can allow hundreds or even thousands of additional votes in future elections. The judge ordered the certified totals by August 24.

Two counties are considering an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the third one won’t comment. The Department of State pushed the counting of votes, and 64 of the 67 counties did so. Some elections in the three non-compliant counties crossed county lines, leaving the department with either certifying results counted differently across counties or unofficially forcing uniformity. It sued the three counties on July 11.

Earlier this month, it was discovered that a fourth county’s results were certified although it, too, had refused to count undated ballots. Dated ballots were first required in 2020. A federal judge has ruled that rejecting undated mail ballots in last November’s election was a technicality, violating federal civil rights law. The ruling ordered counties to report results both with and without the undated ballots until the case was decided. The state Supreme Court must take an appeal and take action, and the U.S. Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to take the federal case.

In Utah, a state judge gave transgender girls the opportunity to participate in female sports if they pass the scrutiny of a state commission of political appointees. The panel of health professionals and athletic officials will evaluate the child’s height and weight in determining whether a transgender girl would have an unfair advantage. At least 12 states passed laws preventing transgender women or girls from sports, and three more states are in the process of following the discriminatory legislature. In his ruling, the judge said that the families of three transgender student-athletes filing the lawsuits showed they suffered significant distress by “singling them out for unfavorable treatment as transgender girls.” The plaintiffs claim the law violates the Utah Constitution’s guarantees of equal rights and due process.

This week the Utah High School Activities Association revealed it secretly investigated a female athlete as transgender without her or her families knowledge because of complaints from parents of two girls she defeated. The probe into her school records back to kindergarten showed her to be “female.” Association spokesperson David Spatafore claimed the process was hidden to spare the girl and her family embarrassment and “to keep the matter private.”

Gov. Spencer Cox accused the complaint and ensuing investigation of crossing a line. At his monthly news conference, he said:

“My goodness, we’re living in this world where we’ve become sore losers, and we’re looking for any reason why our kid lost.”

Cox added that he was disturbed about “making up allegations.” When he vetoed the law barring transgender girls in sport before it went into effect, he explained his disgust

‘Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about… “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”

Cox also said that his decision to veto the bill could hurt him politically, but he “tried to do what I feel is the right thing regardless of the consequences.” Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a similar bill in Indiana for fear of business boycotts in the state.

In Florida, an anti-LGBTQ activist in Moms for Liberty wants all LGBTQ students separated in different classes from straight and cisgender students like those with autism and Down Syndrome. The group also attacked the Trevor Project for trying to prevent LGBTQ teen suicide, called two girls briefly kissing at a school function is “lewd” and “traumatic,” and offered bounties for people turning in teachers who discuss “divisive topics.”

Doctors used to be respected for their medical knowledge; now Republicans want to make them felons. First was the proposal to send medical professionals to prison for performing abortions—even ones necessary to save the lives of the pregnant woman or girl. Now Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has introduced a bill making it a felony to provide over a dozen medical interventions and procedures used to treat gender dysphoria—any gender-affirming medical care including puberty blockers and hormones to transgender youth under 18. The measure would block federal funds for gender-affirming health care, including in Affordable Healthcare Act plans, and bar colleges and universities from offering instruction on gender-affirming care. Greene even found 14 GOP House members to co-sponsor her bill: Mary Miller (IL), Jeff Duncan (SC), Bob Good (VA), Ralph Norman (SC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Tony Gonzales (TX), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Clay Higgins (LA), Burgess Owens (UT), Claudia Tenney (NY), Andrew Clyde (GA), Lance Gooden (TX), Lauren Boebert (CO), and Paul Gosar (AZ). She describes “gender-affirming care” as “child abuse” and “assault.” Violators of her law would face 10 to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. 

Alabama already has a similar law, passed earlier this year, but a federal judge blocked its enforcement, ruling that the state hasn’t provided any credible evidence that this health care is “experimental.”

Greene also wants everyone armed so they can shoot transgender people and drag queens. She tweeted that unlimited gun ownership “will be a tool to disarm any gun owner that wants to stop abortion, the trans agenda on kids, mass illegal migration, & big government oppression suffocating our families, faith & freedoms.” She maintains that without guns, these haters will be persecuted by the media. She concluded by saying “every single Republican must wake up and face this frightening reality” where people who make threats against trans people and drag queens might lose their guns.

The next prosecuted category could be witches, now that the last Salem witch has been exonerated, thanks to an eighth-grade class in Andover (MA). Elizabeth Johnson, 22, was judged guilty but not executed, which eliminated her from exoneration when the state legislature exonerated all those put to death in the trials—in 2001. After an intense lobbying campaign by eighth-grade students, legislation has pardoned the last wrongly convicted Salem witch, but other states may go in a different direction. Perhaps students could also start work on other persecuted categories—like LGBTQ people and pregnant women.

September 1, 2021

GOP Fights Privacy, Liberty

Vigilante law is alive and well now in Texas, thanks for the GOP majority on the state legislator and the GOP Gov. Greg Abbott. The political party claiming “it’s my body” about mandates on vaccines and privacy and who shouts “small government” now permits anyone, even a priest or pastor, who has the slightest connection to a woman having an abortion after six weeks—even listening to her talk about the possibility—can be sued by anyone in the world. Texas knows that its new law would be overturned as unconstitutional if it were enforced by government officials so the state turned the work over to the general public. And the lawsuit can be in any Texas jurisdiction.

Defendants must pay each winner of civil lawsuits against them $10,000 and legal costs for any case against them. The anti-abortion Texas Right to Life established a website for people to anonymously report rumors of illegal abortions and allow volunteers to launch cases as plaintiffs. Anyone can sue, even if they don’t have firsthand knowledge of the abortion in the lawsuit they can file up to four years after the supposed violation of the law.

Abortions after six weeks are legal in cases of medical emergencies but not for rape or incest. Legal defenses prevent abortion providers from arguing the law is unconstitutional. Plaintiffs have nothing to lose by filing lawsuits because they have no charges. The result will be endlessly streaming allegations.

The law went into effect at 12:01 am September 1 after the Supreme Court, known for many immediate emergency actions to keep people infecting others in churches, briefly ignored an emergency appeal. Later in the day, five conservative justices—three of them belonging to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT)—refused to block the law during a legal battle. A U.S. district court judge had set a hearing for September 6 to consider blocking the law, but the 5th Circuit Court called it off. Chief Justice John Roberts, joining the three progressives, called the Texas law “not only unusual but unprecedented.”

In a “shadow docket” decision with no briefs or arguments, the Supreme Court has also recently ended a national ban on evictions to help people in the pandemic and set immigration policy by ordering the current administration to reinstate DDT’s policy forcing asylum seekers to stay outside the U.S. borders.

The Texas law prevents abortions after cardiac activity in the fetus, as early as six weeks after conception and before women know they are pregnant. This statute doesn’t help prevent unplanned abortions, support children and pregnant women, or provide any resources to families. It simply drives desperate women to obtain dangerous, illegal abortions.

Even before this law went into effect, Texas required useless sonograms, explanations by abortion providers about the image, and a state-mandated booklet with falsehoods about fetal development and adoption. The patient must then wait another 24 hours before the procedure because the males who introduced, voted for, and signed the law believe women are too emotional to make appropriate decisions. The new law banning abortion after six weeks will also force women to leave the state for their medical help, making it available only to those wealthy enough to arrange the travel.

Throughout the U.S., GOP-led state legislatures have enacted restrictive laws, many of them blocked. In the fall, the Supreme Court will consider Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks in an attempt to overturn Roe. As indicated on the map, many states passed “trigger bills” to immediately outlaw all abortions in their jurisdictions if Roe is overturned.  

The new law may have greater ranging impacts than just blocking abortions. The 1973 Roe v. Wade, stating women have the right to have abortions, upholds personal decisions with the ruling that the state does not uphold a specific ideology. If the Texas law is not overturned, it sets a precedent for state-level regulation of these personal and private decisions. Ending an unwanted pregnancy does not cause others any physical, financial, and social harm as refusal to wear a mask can.

Roe v. Wade is an example of individual and/or family decisions permitted by the government; i.e., disability rights, opportunity to send children to religiously affiliated schools or homeschool them, and contraceptive use. The anti-vax and anti-mask movement will not benefit if the government can take over their privacy. The abortion-right Supreme Court decision protects privacy and liberty under the 14th Amendment’ Due Process Clause, interpreted as privacy as a part of liberty. It also mandates the ideology that only one theory of the beginning of life can be legal in the United States although religions and individuals differ in this belief. 

Jewish law purports a fetus is not alive and abortion is health care, both psychological and physical.  Presbyterians, who admit they don’t know when life begins, ask followers to make their own decision, and pro-choice Unitarians believe in the value of both life and the quality of life. During most of its history, the Catholic Church declared “quickening,” the first time the pregnant woman feels a fetal movement at about 18 weeks, as the beginning of life. Overturning abortion removes the right to plan a family, and the Texas law could lead to reversing the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut, upholding the right of married couples to obtain contraceptives.

The purpose of the Texas law is to save a fetus. This philosophy could lead to the law mandating the saving of other lives, possibly those who need an organ transplant. The government might allow people to sue if they heard about a person who refused to donate a kidney or a sliver of a liver to save another person’s life.

Texas Republicans also passed a draconian anti-voting bill this past week. Satirist Andy Borowitz combined both anti-freedom laws in one column, “New Law Requires Texans to Have Counselling Before Being Allowed to Vote”:

Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill requiring all Texans to submit to counselling before being allowed to vote.

The law mandates a counselling session and a twenty-four-hour waiting period before a voter is permitted to cast a ballot, Abbott explained.

“Many people who think that voting is something they have to do haven’t gotten all of the information available to them,” he said. “There are many alternatives to voting, including not voting.”

“Sometimes, a person is upset with their situation and thinks that voting is the only answer,” the Governor said. “A counsellor can sit with them, pray with them, and help them make the right choice.”

Answering critics who claim that the twenty-four-hour waiting period is designed to keep voters from casting their ballots in a timely fashion, Abbott said, “All we’re trying to do is make sure that voting is the right decision for them. Every day, I hear from people who voted for me who say that they’ll regret that decision for the rest of their lives.”

A third Texas GOP law permits people to carry guns without either permits or training. Law officials are concerned the statute will increase crime rates and endanger police. Among Texas voters, 59 percent oppose the new law.

After violating privacy and liberty in a Texas law, other Republicans are threatening big business if they don’t do what the GOP wants. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has threatened any of the 35 tech and telecom firms complying with a request to preserve information related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. He said:

“If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States. If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”

He didn’t explain which law would be violated if they keep the information. Rep. Eric Swalwell called for a DOJ investigation into McCarthy’s threats, describing them “a clear obstruction of justice.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) created the January 6 investigation committee after McCarthy and other Republicans blocked an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the attack and attempt to overturn the election. Requested information includes “metadata, subscriber information, technical usage information, and content of communications for the listed individuals.” The committee also asked for preservation of information about people “involved in organizing, funding, or speaking” at January’s “Stop the Steal” rallies and those “potentially involved with discussions of plans to challenge, delay, or interfere” with the electoral certification process.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) amplified McCarthy’s message by declaring companies will be “shut down” if they give the Republicans’ data to the January 6 commission. Both Greene and McCarthy may appear in the data. Promising to close down private businesses for preserving these records, Republicans on conservative media called the request an authoritarian overreach. Promises to punish businesses for something GOP lawmakers don’t like moves the party toward big government and its own authoritarianism by eliminating liberty for private companies and individuals.

Admiration for the Taliban is growing among DDT’s supporters as they plan use the group’s ability to take over Afghanistan as a model for the GOP extremists to take over the United States.

And so the GOP’s big government opposes liberty and freedom.

February 2, 2021

AOC Tells Her Story about Abusive GOP

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)—frequently called AOC—was a relative unknown when she swept onto the national scene less than three years ago when she defeated a ten-term incumbent in Democratic primary election. The youngest member to serve the U.S. Congress when she was sworn in, the 29-year-old soon gained the hatred of now-Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) because of her progressive ideas.

Yesterday, 26 days after the far-right attack on the U.S. Capitol, she released a powerful video telling of her terror about being killed by the insurgents and her experience with sexual assault. It is a must watch for everyone, and her subsequent message about the sedition describes the lead up to and the events on the day itself as well as the impact on her.   

Her message:

Monday night, I hopped on IG live to talk about what happened at the Capitol. My story is one of many. It’s not the only story or the central story.

But, it’s important to share because so many of the people who helped perpetrate what happened are trying to tell us to move on and forget about what happened—saying it isn’t a big deal.

They’re asking us to move on for their own convenience. These are the same tactics used by abusers. What they are really asking is: “Can you forget about this so we can do it again?”

I’m a survivor of sexual assault, and I haven’t told many people that in my life. But when we go through trauma, whether we have neglectful parents or any kind of trauma, these episodes can compound on one another. Part of my hesitancy to tell this story until now has to do with some of my trauma. As a survivor, I struggle with the idea of being believed.

Many Republicans have done everything they can to try to rewrite history. They say we’re exaggerating or stoking tensions or even that I should apologize. Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz have had nearly a month to apologize for their role, but over and over they’ve doubled down and said they did the right thing and if they could go back, they’d do it all again. That’s why they need to resign, because they will do it again.

First, let’s dispel the idea that this insurrection happened suddenly—that there was no way for Hawley, Cruz. or Trump not to see this violence coming or anticipate their role in stoking it. Everyone knew something was going to happen.

One week before, I started to get text messages from other members of Congress saying that I needed to be careful on Wednesday. So I started thinking through a security plan with my staff.

Insurrectionists arrived in town starting on Monday. That day, as I exited the Capitol, a crowd of Trump supporters were gathered directly behind my car. All there was to protect myself and other members of Congress was a waist-high fence.

My heart was beating fast. They were yelling insults my way. I tried to lighten the mood to create enough space for me to drive away and get out of there.

Later that day, I went to the grocery store and saw all these people in MAGA hats. It felt tense. And, I guess it felt like—whether you’re from the Bronx, New York City, Queens, or wherever—you can just catch a vibe and kind of know a general sense of when things aren’t right. And things started to feel “not right” when I was in that grocery store that Monday night.

By Tuesday, 24 hours before the events on January 6th, I had already resolved that I wouldn’t go back outside except to vote. Myself and other members asked about security plans, and we were told that it was being handled by Capitol Police and couldn’t be shared.

Fast forward, Wednesday, January 6: At 12:45pm, my chief of staff called me and asked how I was feeling. In that moment, I was feeling great—Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff had just won. I was on cloud nine. It took a weight off my shoulders—and I hoped maybe it would take the wind out of the sails of the growing mob outside the Capitol.

Shortly after we hung up, I heard violent bangs on my office door and all the doors into our congressional office. My legislative director—G—told me to hide. I ran into the bathroom—then quickly realized I should have gone to the closet instead. When I opened the door to move, I heard that someone had already gotten into my office. It was too late. Then, they started to yell: “Where is she?” “Where is she?” “Where is she?”

This is the moment I thought everything was over. As a spiritual person, I thought: if this is the plan for me, people—you all—would be able to take it from here. I felt that things were going to be okay and that I had fulfilled my purpose.

Peeking through the hinges of the door behind which I was hiding, I saw a white man with a black beanie come into my direct office. He continued to ask, “where is she?” “where is she?” Finally, I heard G follow him and say “Boss, it’s OK to come out.”

The man in the black beanie was a Capitol Police officer—he was alone with no partner, and I never heard him identify himself as Capitol Police or anything. We weren’t sure if he was there to help us or hurt us. He was looking at me with a tremendous amount of anger and hostility.

Yelling, he told us to go to a different building where all Members would be extracted—not providing the room number or any other exact information on where in the building that extraction point was.

Still, we started running. Alone with no escort and no specific location, we could hear the rioters outside. Not knowing where to go, I ran to find the offices of members I knew in the building. After running up and down the stairs, googling frantically to find room numbers, I eventually found Rep. Katie Porter’s office and asked if we could shelter with her.

She welcomed us in, and we started searching for where we could hide. We pushed couches against the door. I found clothes and sneakers to change into in case I needed to run, jump out of a window, or blend in with a crowd. We turned off all the lights.

Shortly after we finished barricading ourselves, we received intelligence that bombs were found not far from where we were. We discussed what we’d do if the building exploded. Staffers were making decisions to put their lives on the line to save us.

When I finally learned the location of the extraction point, I didn’t feel safe going there, knowing that some Republican members were live tweeting the locations of the Speaker and others. I knew the National Guard hadn’t been called. We were in Rep. Porter’s office for hours.

After the building was secure, I walked over to Rep. Pressley’s office where she and her staffers made sure I was fed. We were at Ayanna’s office until 4:00 am as Congress finally proceeded with voting to certify the electoral college. There are more details to share at some point, but not today.

Rep. Pressley told me that night that what I experienced was traumatizing. Hearing her say that, it forced me to pump my brakes. If you have experienced any type of trauma, just admitting and recognizing it is already a big step. The moment you admit that a thing happened to you is hugely important.

I look back on this and Ayanna really helped my healing. Telling your story is an important tool for healing, which is why I’m telling mine. Together, we have 435 stories and we need to tell them because every time a Republican gets on television and tells us to forget, these stories are reminders of what they’re trying to absolve.

What happens now should not be a partisan issue. This moment is not about a difference of political opinion. This is about basic humanity.

We knew that violence was expected on January 6. We knew the rioters depended on someone upholding the lie that the presidential election was fraudulent. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley chose to tell the lie because they thought it would be politically advantageous.

Six people have lost their lives, eyes and limbs have been lost, and many more people traumatized. Even after all of that, not even an ‘I’m sorry.’ Not even an: ‘I didn’t realize what I said would contribute to this violence and if I had known, I wouldn’t have done it.’ Instead the response has been, ‘I did the right thing and I would do it again.’

If that is their stance, these members will continue to be a danger to their colleagues. Given the same conditions, they will choose to endanger their colleagues for political gain again. That’s why we need accountability.

It’s not about revenge, it’s about creating safety. We are not safe with people who hold political power who are willing to endanger lives for political gain.

Today the U.S. House adopted rules to keep conservatives from carrying guns onto the chamber floor and intimidating others. Instituting large fines for violating these rules was necessary because gun carriers stepped around metal detectors, pushed Capitol Police officers out of the way, and asked other members to carry guns for them. Campaign funds or congressional office budget funds cannot be used to pay these fines. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “The People’s House must and will be safe, so that we can honor our responsibility to do the People’s work.” Weapons have been banned from the House floor for over 50 years, but the new conservatives think they, like DDT, are above the law.

Tonight, the remains of Brian Sicknick, killed by the January 6 mob in the U.S. Capitol, were taken to the Capitol rotunda, allowing people, including President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, to pay their respects. 

The U.S. has passed 27 million verified infections from COVID-19, and the nation had 3,672 deaths today from the disease. 

January 15, 2021

Sedition Has Consequences

The impeachment is over, with National Guard protecting the House chamber, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs a team for the trial in Senate. He may have trouble finding one. He’s unhappy with Rudy Giuliani for his failure to overturn the election and refuses to pay him the promised $20,000 a day—maybe not even travel costs. But DDT is famous for stiffing his employees. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was so disgusted by the Capitol siege he told staffers he won’t be defending DDT in the current impeachment as he did last time. DDT also can’t get several prominent law firms this time around, and most of the lawyers from last time have bailed, leaving only Alan Dershowitz who didn’t a poor job the first time around. Yet Dershowitz said provoking people to storm the Capitol was a “political and moral sin.”

Law professor John Eastman (left) who claimed election fraud at DDT’s January 6 rally inciting violence is a consideration. The Chapman University (Orange County, CA) professor was immediately “retired” by the school after his recitation of lies about election fraud. 

In the name of “freedom,” recalcitrant GOP House members are ignoring rules such as wearing masks and using the metal detector before entering the chamber. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is fed up with the lack of security: she’s fining them $5,000 for the first one and $10,000 for the second one, with the money directly deducted from salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer. Her decision came after appearances of collusion between some of the representatives and the violent protesters. The day after the siege, newly-elected Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) bragged about carrying a gun into the House chamber, a violation of the law.

Newly-elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), conspiracy theorist who tweeted Pelosi’s location at the beginning of the Capitol attack and fought the use of a metal detector, announced on Newsmax she plans to file articles of impeachment against Joe Biden on January 21 for abuse of power. After voting against DDT’s impeachment, she accused Biden of being “easily bought off by foreign governments,” referencing “Chiney” (her word) and Ukrainian energy companies.

QAnon follower Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gives Boebert a run for her money in inciting violence. One week after the mob stormed the Capitol, Greene tweeted:

“These Democrats are the enemies to the American people who are leading the impeachment witch hunt against President Trump. AGAIN! They will be held accountable.”

A member of the party that advocates calming rhetoric, Greene claims DDT “will remain in office” and added, “This Hail Mary attempt to remove him from the White House is an attack on every American who voted for him.” GOP colleague Adam Kinzinger (IL) said the language, which may “incite insurrections,” is “literally anti-democracy.” Greene was one of the Republicans who refused to wear a mask at the superspreader lockdown in the Capitol. Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) was the fourth Democrat to contract COVID-19 since some Republicans refused to follow health guidance during last week’s lockdown.  [visual – Marjorie

And Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) wants to know “why there aren’t more uprisings around the country.”

Newly-elected Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), one of ten Republicans who voted for impeachment, said he is buying body armor to protect himself from death threats as well as hiring armed escorts for himself and his family while traveling.

Some Republicans booed the plea newly-elected Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) made for impeachment. Perhaps they were comfortable doing that because she’s a young Black woman. Her entire speech:

“Madam Speaker, St. Louis and I, we rise in support of the article of impeachment against Donald J Trump. If we fail to remove a white supremacist president who incited a white supremacist insurrection, it’s communities like Missouri’s First District that suffer the most. The 117th Congress must understand that we have a mandate to legislate in defense of Black lives. The first step in that process is to root out white supremacy starting with impeaching the white supremacist in chief. Thank you and I yield back.”

No one booed Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, when she made her speech about how DDT “summoned” the mob that attacked the Capitol, “assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.″ She said, “Everything that followed was his doing” because he could have stopped he riot but didn’t, a riot resulting in five deaths including a police officer. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was visibly upset by her statements, including: 

“There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”

A common meme about disasters, especially during the years of DDT—“It is what it is.” Fox’s Pete Hegseth has coined a new one for 2021 when talking about the insurrection at the Capitol: “What happened, happened.

Corporations claim they won’t donate to congressional members voting to overturn the election, but an analysis shows corporate and trade association political action committees gave $170 million to those 146 congressional members since the 2016 cycle. Of the PACs, 46 donated to at least 50 percent of those who objected to electoral votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania.  

Law enforcement seems to finally take the threats to the new administration seriously. Plans for the inauguration:

  • Citywide emergency declaration until inauguration.
  • More fencing—lots more fencing—including around the perimeter of the Capitol and the Pentagon.
  • At least 21,000 National Guard members deployed, many of them armed, and the number could grow.
  • Warnings about armed protests by violent DDT supporters in all 50 state capitals.
  • The National Special Security Event lockdown declaration, usually for the day of the inauguration, moved up to January 13.
  • Sealed parking garages downtown.
  • The 13 Metro stations inside the security perimeter shut down.
  • All downtown hotels urged to close and pay their staff. (Several of them, as well as Airbnb, have already done so.)
  • Reduction of those included inside the perimeter dropped from 200,000 to 3,000.
  • Parade viewing stands near the White House dismantled and inaugural balls canceled.
  • A virtual parade instead of the typical walk.
  • Interior Department asked to issue no permissions for permits.
  • Closure of National Mall and major bridges into downtown D.C. on Inaugural Day.

On the day after his impeachment, DDT released a five-minute video on the White House Twitter account condemning violence and saying he would never condone it—a week after he gave a White House party cheering on the mob descending on the Capitol. He tried to look presidential but finished the speech by lambasting people who attempt to “silence” others. DDT failed to announce “the election was not stolen,” and his official Peter Navarro went on Fox the next day to declaim DDT was “legally elected” as president. DDT also asked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who accompanied DDT on his official trip to Alamo (TX), to persuade fellow senators to vote against impeachment conviction.

As DDT gets closer to being an ex-president, he breaks into more rages, especially when confronted with comparisons between him and ex-President Nixon. The reminder of his departure hangs outside his White House residence in the banner stating  “2021 Biden-Harris Inauguration.” DDT refuses to make any farewell address and leaves all official duties to VP Mike Pence. DDT’s schedule continues to be blank. Meanwhile, the administration members are taking “moving” to the extreme: they’re walking out of the White House with items belonging to the U.S. people.

Unemployment claims for the first full week of January have gone up 25 percent to 965,000—a non-adjusted claims of 1.2 million—with another 284,500 from those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

And nobody is leading the country; the surge is escalating. World-wide the deaths are past 2 million; in the U.S. the number of deaths will go above 400,000 by the end of January 15 with an estimate of another 100,000 within two weeks. 

The high note of the January 6 attempted coup came four days later when David Smith, recently retired from the Navy, gathered almost 200 veterans and other volunteers to pick up the trash left behind by the mob. On a sweep through the area around the Capitol and downtown D.C., they collected “Stop the Steal” and other pro-DDT detritus left from the riots and used scrapers and adhesive remover to remove signs and stickers from neo-Nazi and alt-right groups. Messages expressing the need for veterans “to stand up” led to a group deciding to attend Black Lives Matter protests to give demonstrators security and supply them medical and logistical support. Smith said they want to stick to their oath, “to defend the Constitution, thereby ensuring the rights of all our citizens.”  

Five more days of temper tantrums and failures in the White House.

December 24, 2020

DDT, GOP Leave Coal in Stockings

Today is the day before Christmas, and all the GOP members of Congress should be “nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.” After all, all except one senator happily voted not to impeach/convict Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The House Republicans unanimously voted against impeachment on December 18, 2019, and all 53 GOP senators exonerated him of abuse of power on February 2, 2020. Sen. Mitt Romney (UT) was the only Republican senator to vote in favor of convicting DDT for obstruction of Congress. Justifying their votes for not convicting DDT of these crimes, GOP senators proudly said he had “learned his lesson.”

Two days after the Senate vote, DDT fired witnesses Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who had testified in the impeachment inquiry, along with Vindman’s twin brother Yevgeny, who had nothing to do with the impeachment. That retaliation began the downward spiral of DDT’s vicious behavior. By now, some of those supporters may have learned their lesson—that DDT will make life hell for anyone opposes him and anyone connected to his opposition.

Republicans are finally losing their temper openly after they faithfully followed White House orders on the stimulus/spending bill, and he—again—betrayed them. Never matter that 126 House members faithfully followed DDT down the rabbit hole by joining a seditious lawsuit in the Supreme Court to overturn a legal election for president, furthering polarizing a badly-divided, formerly democratic country. Angry messages from congressional members inundating White House aides claim, correctly, that DDT abandoned them after the White House told them it supported the bill and asked for their votes. DDT has repeatedly told they can’t trust him: one of his favorite statements, “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

House Democrats now support DDT, and the bill, by unanimously voting in favor of increasing the stimulus checks to $2,000, but House Republicans procedurally stymied the vote. One can imagine DDT grimly chortling on his Florida golf course about his latest chaos. Democrats support people while the GOP wants money and power. Republicans gave DDT everything he could have wanted to get their conservative judicial activists, including support for overturning the election in his favor and protection in concealing his finances. In return, they found coal in their stockings. Santa didn’t like Republicans this year, and DDT blocked them from “Merry Christmas!” Apparently, enabling and sycophantism didn’t pay off in 2020.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) was so disgusted with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) rejected the amendment that she banged the gavel, saying “Merry Christmas!” in a less than positive way. The House is adjourned until Monday afternoon for a floor vote on DDT’s request for $2,000 checks. Dingell’s statement after the adjournment:

“It is Christmas Eve, but it is not a silent night. All is not calm. For too many, nothing is bright. And for too many, they are not sleeping peacefully. I gave a town hall last night that had people crying, people terrified of what is going to happen… I’ve been talking to people who are scared they’re going to be kicked out from their homes during the Christmas holiday, and still might be if we don’t sign this bill.”

McCarthy tried to make Pelosi the scapegoat by attacking her in a letter for trying to “use the American people as leverage to make coronavirus relief contingent on government funding.” He also framed himself as protector of people in the U.S.:

“The top priority must be our families, communities, and small businesses as we get through this pandemic and restore our country.”

Yet he refuses DDT’s call for more direct payment which Pelosi supports and accused Democrats of “selective hearing” for not cutting the $2 billion in foreign aid DDT opposes. McCarthy plans a bill to cut that funding while not providing anything for people in the U.S. It’s “austerity” time for Republicans with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House.  

On CNN Sunday, Romney mourned the loss of the Republican party, how the GOP he knew even eight years ago when he ran for president is gone:

“I represent a very small slice of the Republican Party today. We were a party concerned about balancing the budget. We believed in trade with other nations. We were happy to play a leadership role on the world stage, because we felt that made us safer and more prosperous. And we believed that character was essential in the leaders that we chose. We have strayed from that. I don’t see us returning to that for a long time.”

Romney plans to stay a Republican, saying he wants to work within the party instead of from outside. Member of the anti-DDT Lincoln Project Kurt Bardella, however, explained why he changed his registration from GOP to Democrat:

“I appreciate where Romney is coming from, but there comes a point where an institution is so thoroughly broken it must be rebuilt someplace else. The party’s true platform has become a toxic combination of authoritarianism and white nationalism. Rebuilding the party will require dismantling it. And helping in that cause doesn’t mean becoming an Independent or agitating for a third party…

“At the start of the Trump presidency, anti-Trumpers who identified as Republicans stayed with the team hoping that their policy positions would still form the basis of a Republican agenda. That experiment is over.

“If you were a Republican because you believed in fiscal restraint, under Trump the debt and deficit have exploded. If you were a Republican because you believed the GOP was stronger on national and homeland security, just look at what Trump said this week in cynically downplaying Russia’s cyberattack against our country. If you are a Republican because you believe in law and order, examine the records of the corrupt people Trump just gave pardons and commutations to. If you are a Republican because you are pro-life, there are 324,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 to call into question the GOP’s commitment to the sanctity of life.”

By Christmas Eve, the number of people dying from the virus in the U.S. is 327,000, and an additional 100,000 people died in the U.S. during the first nine months of 2020. The leadership of the “pro-life” party made the U.S. the deadliest year in history, topping three million deaths. The over 400,00 mortality increase over 2019 is a percentage leap not seen since the 1918 flu epidemic and World War I deaths. The number of deaths fell in 2019 with reductions in heart disease and cancer fatalities, and life expectancy crept higher for the second straight year. In 2020, the increase in deaths will force life expectancy up to three full years lower.

DDT may have spent the day on the golf course, but he took time out to tweet threats of military conflict against Iran. Last weekend, a weekend rocket attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad injured one Iraqi but no Americans. DDT wrote:

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.”

Iran denied perpetrating the attack and warned DDT against “dangerous adventurism.” DDT is running out of ways to overturn a legal presidential election—court cases, appeals for state legislatures taking over electoral votes, declaration of martial law for a new election, even “requests” for VP Mike Pence to overturn the election at the congressional joint session on January 6. DDT doesn’t understand Pence merely presides over the proceedings and doesn’t make the final decision. DDT’s next ploy may be to start a war using the warped belief people will be forced to leave him in the White House in the midst of a war.

Foreign policy analysts have cautioned for weeks about DDT attacking Iran to sabotage any diplomacy and return to the nuclear deal in the Biden administration. Last month, DDT checked on ways to bomb Iran’s primary nuclear energy site, and earlier this month, the U.S. flew two B-52 bombers over the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran.

Some new House GOP representatives, including QAnn members Laurie Boebert (CO) and Marjorie Greene (GA), want to bring their guns onto the House floor. Greene wants every place in the nation to be “gun free zones,” including visitors’ galleries in congressional chambers.

The media is suspicious about the photoshopping of DDT and Melania Trump’s last Christmas portrait. His expression is identical to the one of a series taken last year with the Prince of Wales, and a photo expert compared the image to a paper cutout. Is it possible the two can’t even get close enough for a joint photo op? No doubt, Melania finds the next 27 days waiting to leave the White House as difficult as people in the U.S. do. 

February 18, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 2

The news from the past week wasn’t all bad for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of it will make life more difficult and dangerous for the people in the United States.

Two-State Solution?: A future Palestinian state may have completely disappeared this week as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he doesn’t care whether there is a two-state or a one-state solution. “I like the one that both parties like,” DDT said. The statement conflicts with a half-century of work for a two-state solution although he followed—albeit very mildly—the five-decade policy of presidential opposition to Israeli settlement on Palestinian land. The usual bombastic DDT was quite mild with Netanyahu, especially when he said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

DDT also didn’t say he supported moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is partly Palestinian, but he has appointed David M. Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has openly said that supporters of a two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators. He strongly supports the Israeli seizure of privately-owned Palestinian land and has financially invested in the illegal settlement enterprise in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-owned West Bank where Palestinians live under a half-century 50-year military occupation. DDT and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Kushner’s family who are on the organization’s founding board of trustees, have donated to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group opposed to the two-state resolution. Kushner is in charge of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment,” said Friedman about the Muslim ban when he claims that immigrants applying for entry to the U.S. don’t have “the rights of free speech and privacy.”

DDT’s First Big Bill—Supporting Oil Industry: One in a series of regulatory rollback bills, a regulation requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments is the first to fall under the hatchet of DDT’s signature. The oil and gas industry, including Secretary of State and Exxon-wealthy Rex Tillerson, is delighted because they can hide their business in Russia. DDT claimed that the bill will bring back jobs, showing that he has no idea what he has signed. He had the same problem with the order he signed that allows financial advisors to steal from investors. In his written response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson acknowledged:

“Part of my job…will be to make sure that because American companies, NGOs and development relief efforts are expected to play by the rules and abide by [the Cardin-Lugar rule]…and other laws, that foreign companies or investors do not get an unfair advantage by cheating or keeping to a lower standard.”

Now the oil industry–and Tillerson–will use its deep swamp to easily hide bribery from foreign countries.

GOP Promotion of Coal Mining Waste in Streams: In its enthusiasm to overturn everything that President Obama did to help people, Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy the nation. The right-to-bribery oil bill was the first; the second is to allow coal companies to dump their debris in waterways. DDT said he will save “many thousands American jobs” by making water unusable. The plan doesn’t increase the number of jobs: it just allows miners to continue burying streams by blowing off the tops of mountains, causing higher rates of cancer and heart disease. Thus far, Appalachia has seen 2,000 miles of streams ruined; the new law will allow another 6,000 miles of streams to suffer from the debris. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program.” There was no evidence that this help for miners will occur.

Guns for the Mentally Disabled: The next time that the NRA speaks about a high profile mass shooting, someone will say, “The problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. We just need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Four Democrats and an Independent joined GOP senators to reverse an Obama regulation that referred a small number of people to the FBI background check system to prevent them from buying guns. This population is composed of people applying for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental condition and incapable of managing their own finances. President Obama used George W. Bush’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 for the regulation. DDT will most likely sign this bill next week.

Russia Feeling Brave?:  The country’s recent deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile violates the Cold War-era arms control treaty. A Russian intelligence ship was also seen 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base in New London (CT), 18 miles out in international waters. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has expressed concern about the ship in connection with Russia’s firing the missile and the Russian aircraft buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. He tweeted, “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

House Oversight Committee Rejection of Flynn’s Possible Treason: Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said that more information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s talks with the Russians is upcoming and that these conversations are not covered by executive privilege. Flynn would have to answer questions in congressional investigations if Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) changed his mind about not investigating Flynn’s possible acts of treason. The GOP House just wants to “move on.” Chaffetz is now focused on investigating Sid the Science Kid. GOP senators appear to have more interest in investigations, but they have caved on issues before. Chaffetz did ask DDT for an accounting of security measures during his talk with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. (A few months back, Chaffetz said that he could never look his daughters in the face if he support Donald Trump.)

Immigration Abuse: DDT’s Muslim ban has been blocked, but border agents are still targeting people protected by the Dreamer act, falsifying records to keep innocent people in detention, targeting people from countries other than the “Muslim ban,” lying to get travelers to give up visas and green cards, hiding people in detention, detaining U.S. citizens who work for the government, etc. The new immigration tactics will vastly increase domestic abuse after officials detained an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse when she got a protective order against her abuser. In the past, the United States had given victims of domestic violence the option of protection through the U Visa if they cooperated with law enforcement. The officials picked up the woman on a tip from her abuser after he was arrested, creating a practice giving great control to an abusive person. DDT said he had promised “to get the bad ones.”

The Return of J. Edgar Hoover Tactics: DDT may be keeping dossiers on journalists, congressional members, and other influential people who don’t agree with him. White House reporter April Ryan stated that Omarosa Manigault, White House communications official “physically intimidated” Ryan as well as making verbal threats including the assertion that DDT officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information on her and several other journalists. White supremacist and DDT’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has asked people to dig for dirt on at least four Democrats who Bannon worries about participating in the 2020 presidential election: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Murphy wrote that the White House “scouring my background” is a “compliment.”

japan-prime-ministerOne piece of humor from this past week was the look on Japanese Prime Minister Abe after an enforced 19-second handshake with DDT. Check the video out! People have started paying more attention to DDT’s handshakes than what he says. For example, the one with his Supreme Court Justice nominee made Neil Gorsuch look particularly pained. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prepared: he strong-armed DDT and quickly took his hand back.

trump-to-great

You could also have gotten the above DDT inauguration print from the Library of Congress for only $16.95, but it’s been pulled—maybe because of the typo? The Internet, however, never forgets!

June 30, 2016

Supreme Court Does a 180 Degree Turn

Supreme Court decisions looked hopeless just six months ago. Many of us feared that women would lose abortion rights, and domestic abusers could stomp around with their guns. Affirmative action, rights of unions, and continued Affordable Care Act provisions seemed impossible. What a difference one person makes! Antonin Scalia’s death in February left only eight justices—for a long time if the GOP has its way—and the tone flipped from devastation to optimism.

The 4-4 ties kept an injunction against the DHS immigration policy but saved public union dues, especially after the court refused to hear the case again. Ties don’t establish the law of the land; they don’t establish precedent. All they do is confirm a lower court ruling. The case about religious objections from Catholic nonprofits refusing insurance coverage for employees’ birth control was returned to a lower court to be fixed. These cases, however, did not destroy a progressive movement; two of these three cases just slowed its progression.

In at least three cases, however, a majority voted in favor of progressives, both times with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. The zombie case Fisher v. University of Texas, returning from what should have been an earlier death, upheld the school’s affirmative action plan. Race can continue to be considered to increase college admissions of disadvantaged minorities because, as Kennedy recognized, diversity’s educational benefits cannot be reduced to exact numbers. Now affirmative action can be used if race-neutral alternatives are not enough and if race plays only a small part. The only other Supreme Court case, decided in 2003, warned of a 25-year deadline. This ruling has no such warning. The vote in this case was 4-3 because Justice Elena Kagan recused herself. With Scalia’s vote, it would surely have been a tie.

Women are cheering the 5-3 ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down faux health requirements and “undue burden” for abortions in Texas. Law required clinic doctors to have “admitting privileges” in nearby hospitals and clinics to meet expensive, and unnecessary, standards for “ambulatory surgical centers” (ASC).  “Undue burden” was a standard set up for abortion restrictions in Planned Parenthood v. Casey almost 25 years ago, but the health issue set new law. Justices warned against state anti-abortion laws that claim to be for health reasons but don’t protect women’s health. Again Kennedy, for the first time supporting abortion rights for women, cast the deciding vote. If he had voted against Whole Woman’s Health, Texas could have kept closing all its clinics—now down to about 20 for 5.4 million of reproductive age.

This ruling affects laws in several states throughout the nation; almost half of them lied about health reasons in restricting abortion rights. The high court announced that it will not consider appeals from Mississippi and Wisconsin on laws similar to those in Texas, ending those unconstitutional laws. Alabama dismissed its appeal to keep its anti-abortion law. Laws are on hold in Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Other states are still fighting: Michigan providers are deciding whether to challenge the state’s ASC law, and Florida’s admitting privileges law goes into effect on July 1.

In question also are other anti-abortion laws such as waiting periods and mandated useless medical procedures preceding the abortion. In Indiana, a judge blocked the state’s new anti-abortion law. Planned Parenthood will work to block anti-abortion laws in eight states.

In Voisine v. United States, two men from Maine whose guns were removed after misdemeanor convictions in domestic violence argued that “reckless” conduct wasn’t enough for them to lose their guns. The high court disagreed, voting 6-2 that “a reckless domestic assault qualifies as a ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.”

A little-mentioned Supreme Court decision in the media may have a long-reaching impact. A 4-4 tie in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians upholds rulings from the higher Tribal court, the District Court, and the 5th Circuit Court that non-Tribal businesses and individuals can legally face civil suit in Tribal courts. Dollar General had signed a contract with the tribe swearing to uphold its health and welfare, and the manager of a Dollar General on the reservation molested a 13-year-old Tribal boy.

Limited authority of Tribal governments frequently leaves little recourse for victims of sexual attacks. Native American women in the U.S. are twice as likely to suffer sexual assault as other women in the nation, and 80 percent of these assaults are by non-Tribal men who can get off free because tribal courts cannot criminally prosecute non-Tribal members not intimately known to the victims. Federal authorities tend not to pursue these rape cases.  This problem was exacerbated 38 years ago by Oliphant v. Suquamish, in which the high court ruled that Tribal courts cannot criminally prosecute non-tribal members even when the crime is committed on the reservation, making race a de jure (legal) factor in these cases.

About Oliphant, Amy Casselman, author and former case work for the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada, said:

“Reservations became hunting grounds. This creates a lot of different types of crime—drug production, drug trafficking, human trafficking—but the people who disproportionately feel this sense of predation are Native women. Sexual assault in the US is an overwhelmingly intraracial crime, meaning that rape happens overwhelmingly between two members of the same race. Native women are the one statistical anomaly.”

In the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, Congress stipulated that Tribal courts only have the authority to prosecute non-Tribal sexual offenders who have pre-existing intimate relationships with the women they abused, purposely excluding from prosecution unknown predators who specifically seek out reservations to commit their crimes. The only course of action comes from civil suits.

The Supreme Court does not finalize this case that began 13 years ago; it merely allows the sexual assault case to move forward in tribal courts. But that is far more than Native Americans had before this decision. Full restoration of tribal sovereignty won’t happen until Congress passes a law or the high court overturns Oliphant.

The high court benefited women when it declined to hear a Washington state case in which pharmacists were told that their religious objections could not keep them from dispensing Plan B or other emergency contraceptives. That refusal to hear Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman allows women to get medication no matter what the person views of a pharmacy owner because the 9th Circuit Court had twice ruled in favor of women.

A Washington state judge has also ruled that public hospitals must provide abortions on side if they offer maternity services. The ruling supports the Reproductive Privacy Act, passed by voter initiative in 1991.

On the minus side, the tie allowing a Texas judge to keep his injunction against a DHS policy trying to stop some removals of immigrants appears to be a disaster for the president’s policies. According to noted judge Richard Posner, however, the decision may not make any changes. And as law professor Peter Shane wrote, the decision has nothing to do with executive decisions because it was an agency decision.

The Supreme Court dispensed two disasters in its last week. In Utah v. Strieff, a 5-3 ruling on gender lines overturned the Utah Supreme Court and ruled that an illegally detained person can be subject to lawful search and seizure if the person has a warrant for arrest. Justices Sonya Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that this decision contradicts previous Court decisions that had deemed such evidence inadmissible as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Sotomayor said that police can verify legal status at any time, that a person’s body is always subject to invasion, and that it legitimizes racial profiling:

“The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

The worst ruling, however, may have been the unanimous exoneration of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell on a charge of corruption by overturning his conviction. Chief Justice John Roberts referred to Citizens United ruling that “ingratiation and access” were “not corruption.” McDonnell and his wife took expensive gifts, loans, and vacations worth more than $175,000 in return for favoring a diet-supplement business benefactor, but the court ruled that only formal and concrete government actions such as filing a lawsuit counts. Arranging meetings doesn’t, giving elected officials a blank check to trade for access. The case was returned to the lower court with the stricter standard but will most likely fail.

All except two of the progressive decisions described above would certainly have lost or had a tie if Scalia had voted. I would also ask if he might have swayed some of the justices toward his far-right position in argument if he were still sitting on the court. All in all, the outcome this year was much better than was expected when the session started last fall.

A message to people who agree with this man who said he wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton: “If that means Trump wins, it’s not my fault, the Democrats should have nominated a viable candidate.” Yes, it is your fault, and you will be enabling a GOP president to nominate Supreme Court justices worse than Antonin Scalia.

July 30, 2014

Close Loopholes in Abusers’ Gun Ownership

The first-ever hearing on the connection between gun policy and domestic violence in the Senate Judiciary Committee occurred today as members of a witness panel discussed ways to close the loopholes in current federal law. Passing additional legislation in the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) to protect women from gun violence was also a topic.

elvin-danielOne of those testifying in favor of a comprehensive background check for all who purchase guns was Elvin Daniel, a member of the National Rifle Association. His sister was shot and killed by her estranged husband in 2012. At the hearing, he said he is “convinced” that her killer deliberately bought a gun from an unlicensed firearms dealer.

As shootings rampage across the country, Congress has remained at a standstill. After the December 2012 massacre inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Some states have passed new reform measures that tighten gun restrictions, while others have enacted laws that weaken regulations.

Gabby Giffords, a former representative whose Congressional career was stopped by a shooting in 2011, has  launched a leadership network to educate state and federal lawmakers on the need for solutions that protect women from gun violence. The group plans a major advocacy push this year near the 20th anniversary of VAWA on Sept. 13.

There are those who won’t believe that guns are a serious problem for women. Elizabeth Hovde, conservative columnist for The Oregonian, wrote, “It’s rare that we are victims because we are women.” In glossing over any discrimination against women, including her representation of the Hobby Lobby case, she determined that women just like men, that bad things happen to all people. Hovde said that the California mass murdered Elliott Rodger was not targeting women, but his statement shows a different picture: “If I can’t have them, no one will.”

A recent study, “Women under the Gun,” shows how lax gun laws, both federal and state, allow women to be murdered at an alarming rate—6,410 from 2001 to 2012–more deaths than from the Iraq and Afghan wars combined. Women’s experiences of violence in this country are unique from those of men: Women knew their attackers in 65 percent of the cases, compared to the 35 percent of murders in which men knew their assailants. About 48 women are shot to death by intimate partners each month.

Two states passed bills in May to stop people convicted of domestic violence from owning or buying firearms. Minnesota’s bill expands handgun restrictions for convicted abusers to rifles and shotguns. It also includes restrictions for temporary restraining orders. Louisiana has passed a similar bill. With earlier laws from Wisconsin and Washington, the success rate covers four states. In Minnesota the bill got the vote of a GOP representative who regularly carries a gun, and Washington’s bill passed unanimously. Information about all state laws to protect women from fatal gun violence is available here.

A 2010 study, published in the journal Injury Prevention, showed that such laws have reduced intimate partner homicides by 19 percent. The victims in all five incidents leading up to the law were all women who had obtained protective orders within the month in which they were killed. More than 30 people subject to active restraining orders were convicted of assaults involving guns in a three-year period.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) are trying to close loopholes through their proposed Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act. Federal law defines domestic as people who have lived together, had a child together, or been married. Only ten states cover “dating partners” who are responsible for over half the murders of women in domestic violence.  In an unusual defense of same-sex relationships, the NRA argued against such a law because it might work against “partners of the same sex.”

The proposed bill also prevents convicted misdemeanor stalkers from obtaining weapons, which the NRA also opposes. Its position is that stalking behaviors “do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior.” One in five convicted stalkers use weapons to threaten or harm their victims and nine out of 10 attempted murders of women involve at least one case of stalking before the incident. Another provision of the bill would expand the definition of “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” to include the threat of violence.

states where stalkers can buy guns

Weak enforcement of laws sometimes comes from the failure of prosecutors to demand that those banned from owning firearms surrender their guns. States also don’t fully comply with reporting those banned from gun ownership. Laws are also weak in many states. About 40 percent of all gun sales are done privately because many states do not require universal background checks for these sales. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales, however, nearly 40 percent fewer women are killed by their intimate partners than in other states.

Although the NRA is completely opposed to saving women’s lives through closing the gun purchasing loopholes, the vast majority of women—81 percent—support extending the definition of “abusers” to include stalkers and dating partners. Overwhelming support for such a measure exists among 77 percent of both Republican and independent women.

Statistics show how often stalking leads to violent crimes and murder. One study of female murder victims in 10 cities found that three-fourths of women murdered and 85 percent of women who survived a murder attempt by a current or former intimate partner had been stalked in the previous year. There are nearly 12,000 convicted stalkers in the United States who can legally buy a gun.

sarah EngleSarah Engle is just one example of how women are targeted for killing and why the country needs restrictions on gun ownership. [ Left: Engle in an appearance with Gabby Giffords who was shot in Arizona in January 2011.]Almost six years ago, her ex-boyfriend broke into her mother’s house where he shot and killed the woman. After sexually and physically assaulting Sarah, he shot her in the face and left her for dead. Her experience highlights the way that women are the focus of killing because of gender.

Kentucky is one state where legislators are as clueless about guns and domestic violence as Elizabeth Hovde is. With the most lax gun restrictions for DV abusers in the nation and the greatest percentage of intimate-partner homicides by guns, the state has passed a law making it easier for battered women to obtain concealed-carry permits without changing laws for DV perpetrators. The victims don’t need any firearms training.

The presence of a firearm in a DV situation increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent for women, according to research from Mayors against Illegal Guns.  The Atlantic noted, “Not a single study to date has shown that the risk of any crime including burglary, robbery, home invasion, or spousal abuse against a female is decreased through gun ownership.”

Domestic abusers and stalkers should not have guns. People who engage in this behavior escalate conflict that frequently results in tragedy. The gaps in federal law need to be closed—now.

March 13, 2014

White Privilege of Gun Use

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
Tags: , , ,

Guns in homes, coffeehouses, bars—where else can the NRA put them? Last month in the midst of postal reform, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a gun rights amendment to allow them in the post office by removing a federal ban on them. That’s right beside postage rates, post-office banking, USPS employee pensions etc. Committee members suggested “more study,” but the National Association for Gun Rights, which views the NRA as too liberal, got very excited about it. Members of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs may pick up Paul’s torch. No one has “gone postal” and killed people in a post office for the past eight years, but this law could change that. 

The wealthy join “guntry clubs,” luxury gun clubs that provide “an experience.” Guns aren’t just for defense, according to Mike Pryor, the manager of Lock & Load Miami. VIP packages can have one-time initiative costs of $7,500 and $9,250. It’s sensory entertainment. Just one guntry club, the Frisco Gun Club in Dallas (TX) sold 2,400 membership before it opened and made $12 million. Marketing vice-president Brandon Johnson said it’s “like walking into a high-end department store.” Shooters have to be at least eight years old, but the club is planning a family promotion.

Families get free guns at church. The Kentucky Baptist Convention advocates giving away guns at celebrations across the state. Spokesman Chuck McAlister said the strategy is “outreach to rednecks.” Churches are offering a handgun, shotgun, or long gun as door prizes. One event in Paduca gave away steaks as well as guns, but people had to buy bibles if they wanted them. In upstate New York, Rev. John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church, raffled off an AR-15 assault rifle. Koletas has been arrested seven times “on disorderly conduct charges for loud and incessant street-corner preaching.”

Missouri law doesn’t let people carry firearms into bars but they can be armed in public while they’re drunk. They just can’t be negligent. When city councilors discussed a proposed Kansas City ordinance to comply with Missouri law, Councilman John Sharp explained his opposition: “It’s kind of like, ‘Well, it’s OK if you drive drunk, as long as you don’t hit anybody. You just have to be real careful.'” Voting against the ordinance doesn’t do any good: state law supersedes city ordinances.

blind-florida-man1 gunEven the legally blind are protected by the Second Amendment, according to a Florida judge. After John Wayne Rogers, a blind man, was acquitted of killing his friend James Dewitt under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute, he got his guns back.  Rogers claimed to be defending himself from a drunken guest in a 2012 shooting. DeWitt’s girlfriend didn’t quite agree. She testified that the two men had been “play fighting” when Rogers shot DeWitt in the chest. One part of Rogers’ history of violence was shooting at his cousin and roommate 15 times. He got probation which was revoked after he punched a woman.

Kansas has a law specifying that the blind can carry guns. Glenn Beck defended the law by explaining that God gave Stevie Wonder the right to pack heat:    

“’Inalienable rights’ mean that they’re rights that come from God and cannot be taken from you. The right to bear arms is about protecting yourself and self‑defense as long as you are a law‑abiding citizen. It’s not about shooting sports but self‑defense. Is there any reason to believe that Stevie Wonder is not a law‑abiding citizen or insane? Who are you to take the right that was given by God away from somebody who is law‑abiding and a responsible citizen?”

NRA also wants terrorists and abusers to carry guns. After 9/11, the NRA persuaded then Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop the FBI and BATF from preventing the sale of guns to people on the U.S. terrorist watch list. They can’t fly, but they can buy as many weapons as they want. Between 2004 and 2010, people on the terrorist list were involved in firearm or explosives background checks 1,225 times, proceeding with the sales in 91 percent of the times.

In addition to wanting all women to buy guns so that they will be safe, the NRA wants all their abusers to have guns. The legislators who were recalled in Colorado voted for a bill that “prohibits gun possession from those convicted of certain felonies involving domestic violence or certain misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (and) also prohibit guns from individuals subject to certain (domestic violence) protection orders.”

If you want to heat up your computer, check out the almost 1,000 comments to Mark Karlin’s article in Buzzflash, “Many American White Men Worship Guns Because of Sexual Insecurity, Entitlement, and Profit.” The premise is that the increasing multi-cultural society in the United States has inflamed the opposition to gun regulation causing the nation to move backward in its gun policy.

Karlin quotes Charlotte Childress and Harriet Childress’ discussion in the Washington Post:

“Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be ‘held accountable.’ Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.

“But when the criminals and leaders are white men, race and gender become the elephant in the room….”

“When white men try to divert attention from gun control by talking about mental health issues, many people buy into the idea that the United States has a national mental health problem, or flawed systems with which to address those problems, and they think that is what produces mass shootings.

“But women and girls with mental health issues are not picking up semiautomatic weapons and shooting schoolchildren. Immigrants with mental health issues are not committing mass shootings in malls and movie theaters. Latinos with mental health issues are not continually killing groups of strangers.”

Gatherings of white men with guns are given the benefit of the doubt whereas a group of black youths wearing baggy clothes or Muslim men wearing headscarves carrying similar weapons would immediately bring the police. A black woman shoots wild to warn her abusive husband that she will defend herself, and she ends up in prison for 20 years with a possibility of another 40 years. White men who shoot and kill blacks are released because of “stand your ground” laws.

black-panthers

The NRA wants to train children as early as first grade in the use of guns. For white kids, it’s cute.

white kids guns

black kid gunFor blacks, it’s a menace. This photo produced outrage at gang members for exposing them to guns when they are so young. LAPD commander said about the picture of the black child: “It’s a culture of violence; When you grow up in a culture like that, violence becomes secondary. It becomes second nature. And that’s the cycle we’re trying to disrupt.”

Michael-GilesWhat happens in Florida when a black man “stands” his ground? He goes to prison. Just after his second tour in the Middle East, U.S. airman Michael Giles was sentenced to 25 years after he shot his attacker in the leg. He couldn’t find his friends during a fight of 30 to 40 people outside a nightclub, he got his gun. He had a concealed carry permit. A stranger came up to Giles and punched him to the ground, and Giles shot his assailant in the leg. The bullet’s fragments injured two other people, no one seriously. During the trial, the man who hit Giles admitted that he was ready to hit the first person he saw. He’s free. Giles, with no history of violence, is in prison.

The prosecution’s own witnesses testified that Giles’ attacker had started several fights that night and was violently erratic. A friend of the attacker testified that she was afraid that he would seriously injure or kill someone.  Other witnesses testified that Giles was trying to avoid the fights. That’s how “stand your ground” works. That’s how gun rights in the United States works.

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