Nel's New Day

July 4, 2019

Will the Judicial Branch Protect Democracy?

July 4—the date that people in the United States celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress. For the past 243 years, some people have tried to protect the nation from the erosion of democracy, a far more difficult task in the past two years as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroyed U.S. relationships with all countries except those run by autocrats and dictators. Setting himself up as the supreme ruler with no checks, DDT is enabled by congressional Republicans. Although the third branch of government, the judicial branch, has tried to protect democracy, DDT is loading lifetime judgeships with mostly young white men who follow his authoritarianism.

DDT’s latest move outside the law came from his determination to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. A week ago, the Supreme Court decision gave DDT two options: print the census without the question or go back to court to with a better reason and fewer lies to include the question. Over the weekend, DDT’s administration looked for ways to stall—with DDT even suggesting that the constitutionally mandated census might be delayed.

Four days later, the DOJ said it would not return to court, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (bottom left) announced that the census forms were sent to the printers without the question. Yet DDT tweeted that the question would be on the 2020 census, catching the attention of a judge. Yesterday, the judge convened a telephone conference with government and Maryland immigrant-rights groups lawyers to address DDT’s declaration that the government was “absolutely moving forward” with its citizenship question plan for the 2020 census, defying a Supreme Court ruling and contradicting the DOJ and Commerce Department statements. Josh Gardner, DOJ’s civil division lawyer, said he knew nothing about DDT’s position until he read the tweet. Assistant AG Jody Hunt told the judge that DOJ lawyers “have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward, consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision” to include the question. The DOJ also warned the New York court ruling opposing the question that it might again appeal the case to the now-recessed Supreme Court. 

Lawyers from the rights groups requested a court order requiring the government to agree that “there will be no further effort to inquire about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census.” They also asked the judge to compel the administration to “publicly counter any such misinformation that comes from government officials.”

The judge said that he might not be able to “enjoin the President of the United States from tweeting things” but ordered the DOJ to explain by tomorrow at 2:00 pm EST whether the government would still try to add the question to the 2020 census forms. DOJ lawyers asked if they could have until Monday. The judge said, “No.” Lawyers for the rights groups reminded the judge that DOJ lawyers previously insisted the printing process for census forms begin by last Monday. The Census Bureau already botched a contracting process when the Government Publishing Office awarded its single largest printing contract to a bankrupt company. 

On Independence Day, DDT’s latest ploy is to overturn the Supreme Court decision by ordering the citizenship question through an executive order.

Judges across the country are opposing DDT’s positions. A federal judge in Seattle blocked AG Bill Barr’s order [Barr: right of Ross] to keep thousands of migrants indefinitely detained while waiting for asylum case decisions. Denying migrants a bail hearing is unconstitutional, according to the judge; a bond hearing must be granted within seven days or migrants will be released. DHS has raised fees for asylum seekers, slowed the processing and forced over 13,000 migrants to wait in Mexico for movement on their legal cases. Barr’s order is one reason for the seriously overcrowded facilities.

DDT claims that living conditions in his detention camps are “better than where they came from,” but a report from his own DHS Inspector General tells of horrific conditions with filth and overcrowding at the migrant detention centers. People lie in cages on bare cement floors with nothing to do, and men are held for weeks in a room with standing room only—88 of them in a room designed for 40. Children have no access to showers, clothing changes, laundry facilities, and hot meals. 

A federal judge ordered lawyers representing detained migrants and US Customs and Border Protection to rapidly resolve allowing health experts to examine children and inspect detention facilities inside a Florida migrant facility. The order covers all CBP’s El Paso and Rio Grande Valley sectors. Children lack access to soap, clean water, toilets, toothbrushes, medical care, and adequate nutrition and sleep. With infants and pregnant women, they “are dirty, cold, hungry and sleep-deprived,” according to the court filing. Children are required to care for infants and toddlers, some of whom show signs of illness. John Kelly, former DHS director and DDT’s chief of staff, is on the board of the company owning the Florida facility.

A federal judge expanded a previous ruling to block DDT from taking billions of dollars in military funds for his southern border wall in New Mexico, California, Arizona and Texas. DDT claimed “national emergency”; the judge said that there was no new evidence for changing an earlier decision. He also stated that the wall would cause “irreparable harm” because it “will harm [the plaintiffs’] ability to recreate in and otherwise enjoy public land along the border.” A 2-1 vote in a 9th Circuit Court panel denied DDT’s request to halt the order blocking military funds for a border wall.

The 9th Circuit Court sent a decision against DDT’s transgender ban in the military back to federal judge, Marsha Pechman, ruling that she should have given the military’s judgment more deference. The Supreme Court lifted lower court injunctions blocking the ban from going into effect although it didn’t address the ban’s legality. Pechman was one of four federal judges ruling against the ban on the basis of the constitution’s equal protection guarantee. DDT’s used inaccurate figures in a claim of “tremendous medical costs”; no one in the military has cited DDT’s claim of “disruption” regarding transgender military members.

The 9th Circuit Court also vacated a unanimous three-judge panel decision allowing DDT’s gag rule on facilities serving low-income women seeking abortions. DDT’s orders prevented clinics receiving federal funds from making abortion referrals and sharing space with abortion providers. Injunctions against DDT’s declaration will continue in Oregon, Washington, and California as the issue works its way throughout the courts.

The 9th Circuit Court denied an appeal from three University of Oregon basketball players who were expelled from the school for rape allegations. They had originally sued in 2015 on the basis of gender discrimination; a federal court threw out their lawsuit.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 that the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act applying severe criminal penalties for violent acts motivated by race, religion, and other protected classifications applies to workplace assaults. A defendant lost his claim that the law didn’t apply to his punching a gay co-worker in the face.

A Montana district court blocked Canadian mining company Lucky Minerals Inc. from exploring for gold just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Scott Warren, an Arizona activist on trial for saving the lives of migrants in the desert, was acquitted by a hung jury. Federal prosecutors plan to seek a retrial for Warren, hoping to put him in prison for several years for giving food, water, clean clothes, and beds to migrants in the desert. 

A last-minute change in testimony exonerated Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher in the 2017 murder of a 15-year-old captive in Iraq. Given immunity, medic Corey Scott changed his previous statements and claimed he killed the boy after several Navy Seals testified they saw Gallagher stab the boy to death. Gallagher had texted a photo of himself posing with the body and the message, “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.” DDT had previously arranged for Gallagher’s release from confinement and suggested he would pardon him.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that going on someone else’s land without their permission is trespassing. Two people sued a giant corporation for building roads and drilling a well without permission to get gas from adjacent lands.

For almost a decade, Republicans worked to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Some are now getting nervous about their re-elections of they succeed in the goal. With two conservative judges on a panel who might strike down the ACA, the GOP state AGS asked the 5th Circuit Court to delay oral arguments, but the court gave them one business day until July 9. The court will begin by deciding whether states and the House of Representatives have standing to defend the ACA.

House Democrats, led by the Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA), are suing the IRS and Treasury Department to gain access to DDT’s tax returns. Both Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig consistently refused to obey the 1924 law requiring them to release DDT’s tax returns. One reason given for obtaining the tax returns is DDT’s incessant complaining about how unfair the audit process is. House members need to see his returns to evaluate his complaints.

This year, the Supreme Court couldn’t decide Carpenter v. Murphy; it is “restored to the calendar for reargument.” The question is whether Oklahoma can prosecute major crimes committed by Native Americans on reservation land for the Five Civilized Tribes, covering the eastern half of the state including Tulsa. Deciding for the defendant, Patrick Murphy, would threaten the validity of past convictions—something that didn’t bother conservative justices in other decisions this year—or replace past law regarding the dissolution of Native American reservations. States have something to look forward to next year because Oklahoma may not be alone in backlash to the decision.

March 16, 2019

DDT: Week 112 – U.S. Become a ‘Banana Republic’

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has given the people of the United States a bad week. He began with a cruel budget for most of the people in the U.S. while he waited days to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8, the same model responsible for killing 157 people on an Ethiopian airline and another 189 people in Indonesia’s Java Sea. Then he promised violence if Democrats continue investigations into his financial and political affairs and moved on to be called the “symbol of renewed white supremacy and common purpose” by the terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded dozens of others in two New Zealand mosques. Despite the defection of 12 GOP senators who voted against his national emergency wall building order, DDT vetoed the bill.

Under DDT, the U.S. has a new policy on human rights. In the introduction to “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018,” State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo wrote:

“The policy of this administration is to engage with other governments, regardless of their record, if doing so will further U.S. interests.”

This official document clarifies any doubt about whether DDT bases his policies on making money. The report ignores women’s rights and refers to the Palestinian land of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as “Israeli-controlled” instead of Israeli-occupied.  As a continuation of his opposition to human rights, Pompeo and DDT are revoking or denying visas for all International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies, including Israelis, for potential war crimes tied to U.S. war in Afghanistan.

DDT waited 11 hours to make a brief statement about the Islamophobic killings in New Zealand after eleven hours and failed to mention Muslims, but he had time to send a supportive email about anti-Muslim, racist Breitbart.com. He referred to “sacred places” and said that the U.S. will be there for New Zealand “one hundred percent” before he launched into terrorizing U.S. people about the “invasion” at the southern border of the United States, using the same inflammatory word as the New Zealand killer when he referred to non-European peoples. DDT then announced a March 28 MAGA rally which will undoubtedly spew more hate.

The New Zealand killer was able to stream his horrific acts live on Facebook for 17 minutes until he was finally shut down, and Sky New Zealand was forced to pull Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp from its channel until Sky News Australia stopped broadcasting these scenes. Facebook has more problems after its massive failure last week and streaming of mass shootings as federal prosecutors began a criminal investigation into its proposed deals on top of 150 others, many with huge companies. Deals allowed Microsoft Bing to map friends of all Facebook users without their consent and permitted Amazon to get names and contact information through their friends. The FTC, SEC, and DOJ securities fraud unit are also scrutinizing Facebook owner, Mark Zuckerberg. In addition, two top Facebook executives, the companies #3 and the head of WhatsApp, left because they disagreed with Zuckerberg about a single private platform with FB, Instagram, WhatsApp, and FB Messenger. Other long-time high-level employees started leaving.

DDT’s supporters disagree that he is the “symbol … of white supremacy,” but his statement that white nationalism isn’t a growing problem negates any idea that he might be concerned about reality. Again, he and his officials such as Kellyanne Conway attribute the Islamophobic murders to just “one crazed person,” and DDT said white supremacist actions comes from “a small group of people.” Data supported by the FBI shows that white supremacists and other far-right extremists have killed far more people in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001, than any other category of domestic extremist. White nationalist hate groups grew 50 percent between 2017 and 2018.

Major DDT-era white supremacist terrorist attacks and plots include a white nationalist U.S. Coast Guard officer’s plot to murder hundreds of prominent Democrats, the series of mail bombs from a white supremacist to key Democrats, the slaughter of 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, an older black couple randomly killed in a Kentucky supermarket, and the murder of Heather Heyer at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (VA). The New Zealand killer’s 74-page “The Great Manifesto” follows the white supremacy protesters in Charlottesville. The weaker the gun laws, the more mass shootings; therefore the New Zealand killer had to go from his home in Australia to commit this carnage. New Zealand has promised to pass gun safety laws; the U.S. cries “horrible” after some mass shootings and moves on with no action.

DDT’s stall in grounding the 787 Max 8 and 9 jets caused controversy, partly because of the close relationship between the federal government and Boeing. FAA’s acting director Daniel Elwell, who postponed the grounding, worked for Boeing’s trade association, and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is a former executive for that company. Boeing gave $1 million to DDT’s inaugural committee. Political pressure from Boeing include a lobbying call to DDT the day before the crash. Dozens of other countries took action far sooner than the U.S. George Conway, husband of DDT official Kellyanne Conway, said that DDT’s inaction was a further indication of the U.S. becoming a “banana republic.”

Ethiopian officials have such little trust in the U.S. that they sent the black box to France to get more information about the crash. Boeing failed to sufficiently train pilots on the computer system of the new model by convincing the FAA that the planes were similar to older models. U.S. airlines reported that they still don’t have training flight simulators for this specific model although airlines in other countries have them available.

DDT’s 35-day government shutdown may have played a part in killing the 157 people on the Ethiopian plane. After the October disaster on the same model, Boeing began a software fix for the plane, but the shutdown delayed agreement on how extensive the technical and engineering software enhancement of sensors should be. Thousands of aviation inspectors were furloughed for almost four weeks. FAA has said that the update delay was not a problem because its experts and Boeing saw no imminent safety threat. Rachel Maddow reported on other difficulties with this plane model and others that did not result in crashes but had the same problem with automated systems pulling the nose down when the plane should be ascending after takeoff.

Last Sunday’s news shows universally ignored DDT’s scandal about his friend Li “Cindy” Yang, former owner of a massage parlor involved in a sex trafficking ring, who has sold DDT access to Chinese business executive and Chinese government officials. Yang has connections with two groups directly tied to the Chinese Communist Party. Mainstream TV failed to report on the issue although their nightly newscasts in 1998 and 199 devoted 2,528 minutes to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky as well as more coverage of his other scandals.

In a court filing, New York’s AG Letitia James asked a judge to order DDT’s Trump Foundation to pay $2.8 million in restitution and a $5.6 million penalty for his making the so-called charity into part of his campaign. DDT has already shut down and distributed its $1.7 million to nonprofits. He would be lucky not to be indicted for these illegal activities. When DDT tells supporters on his campaign trail, “I really need you to vote for me,” his plea has more than one meaning.

Other Bits:

In addition to 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in a resolution to overturn DDT’s wall-building emergency executive order, six GOP senators voted in favor of a War Powers resolution to eliminate U.S. military support for the assault on Yemen in a coalition led by Saudi Arabia. More about that in a few days.

In another ongoing war issue, DDT is pulling U.S. diplomats from Venezuela, indicating an escalation on his attacks against the country. The New York Times has exposed U.S. government lies about the country’s president responsibility for burning trucks carrying supplies for humanitarian aid. Any official U.S. reports about the fires disappeared with the revelation that anti-Maduro protesters threw a molotov cocktail that hit one of the trucks.

Paul Manafort got off easy with the first sentencing and moderately with the second—total 7.5 years—but New York has charged him with 16 state felony charges. DDT can’t pardon state convictions.

A New York court is permitting a civil defamation suit against DDT by Summer Zervos, citing a 1997 Supreme Court ruling against Bill Clinton. Right now, the president is not above the law.

Since DDT’s inauguration, fines over $5,000 from the federal consumer agencies have dropped 37 percent. Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency was the worst in not prosecuting crimes. “Tough on crime” doesn’t apply to consumer protection.

In a 23-minute video, Rachel Maddow reports on how DHS tracks the menses of unaccompanied minor immigrant girls under their control to keep them from having abortions. DHS, however, can’t provide numbers about separations, numbers of children in detention, illnesses, or deaths.

After a strong February, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating has dipped four percentage points, to 39%, matching his rating from December at the start of the 35-day partial government shutdown.

March 1, 2019

DDT: Week 110 – Really Bad Week

Following Wednesday’s day-long open testimony before the House Oversight Committee by Michael Cohen, one-time fixer for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), about how DDT runs his business, the grand summit in Vietnam with North Korea ended with a splat when a luncheon signing ceremony was canceled after the table was set. DDT’s tone about Kim Jong-Un was much cooler than his earlier declaration about the love affair with Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. had already stopped the need for a full accounting of North Korea nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. U.S. intelligence agencies continually maintain that North Korea does not intend to fully denuclearize.

As he earlier said about Vladimir Putin, DDT said, “I will take him at his word,” this time about Kim’s professed ignorance regarding U.S. citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in North Korea and was returned with severe brain damage. Warmbier died soon after his release. DDT failed to follow through with his promise to press Kim about human rights abuses: North Korea uses torture and “disappears” people accused of political crimes to prison camps where they cannot communicate the outside world. Before going to the summit, DDT asked Russia for advice on how to deal with North Korea, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was present in Hanoi during the summit. DDT also said he takes Kim “at his word” when he says he won’t be doing any testing of weapons. Kim one of several world dictators who DDT supports, sometimes believing them over U.S. intelligence: Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Journalists suffered from DDT’s ire, first forced to move their filing center from the hotel where they stayed because Kim wanted them out. DDT banned four reporters from covering an event—Associated Press, Bloomberg, LA Times, and Reuters—because questions were asked about Cohen’s testimony, showing a dictator that DDT has weakened the constitutional freedom of the press.

Before DDT went to North Korea, he said that he’s in “no rush” to denuclearize North Korea. His aides, including national security adviser John Bolton, predicted the summit would fail, and  Bruce Klingner, analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, sees “no tangible progress” toward denuclearization since DDT’s meeting with Kim in Singapore. Klingner pointed out that periods of testing moratoriums were longer in previous administrations, and U.S. intelligence notes that North Korea is still building missiles. MIT nuclear expert Vipin Narang said, “We are nowhere. Which is probably exactly where the North Koreans want us to be.”

No longer is DDT falsely claiming that the U.S. has no nuclear threat from North Korea, as he did after the first meeting with Kim. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may have stopped this claim because he had to lie to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the first time that DDT made this outrageous statement. DDT kept asking Pompeo to explain details of the summit at the press conference before he left Hanoi.

Although DDT complained that the Cohen testimony took attention away from his North Korea summit, he should have been grateful because of his failure in Hanoi. He bragged that Michael Cohen had said “no collusion,” but Cohen reported that DDT knew about the Trump Tower meeting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Roger Stone got the Democratic emails from Julian Assange, and nothing went on at the Trump Organization—and probably the campaign—without DDT’s approval.

DDT’s most recent failure comes the disclosure of memos from two White House officials refuting his claim that he had nothing to do with the highest-level security clearance given to his son-in-law Jared Kushner in spite of intelligence officials’ warning against it. Former chief-of-staff John Kelly wrote a memo about how he was “ordered” to give a clearance to Kushner, and former White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a memo about security concerns regarding Kushner that had been raised by the CIA and a recommendation that he not be granted the clearance. Both of those men are gone, but Kushner is still harvesting the highest-level classified information for his personal financial benefit. Kushner also advised the Saudi Crown Prince how to avoid the blame for his murdering U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and amid this week’s controversy, Kushner had a friendly meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince. This fiasco is not just another of DDT’s peccadilloes; it’s a national security disaster.

The stock market is still sagging despite DDT’s claim about improved trade relationships with China. He supposedly backed off from more tariffs on Chinese goods but provided no details and has no signed official agreements. South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, said DDT’s trade wars have “devastated” her state. She warned that the agriculture disaster can touch “every main street business, everybody that has another entity out there that relies on a successful ag industry.” Over 60 percent of voters in the state hoped for a better future with DDT when they voted for him.

DDT is also backing down on steel tariffs, excusing 370 U.S. companies from paying them on imports of up to 4.1 million tons from China, Japan, and other countries. The almost 14,000 exemptions, 59 percent of them for firms with a foreign corporate parent, cover eight percent of the total from China and almost 30 percent from Japan.

In a backlash against DDT’s wall declaration, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tom Udall (D-NM) co-sponsored a resolution to terminate the national emergency because it is “an end run around Congress’s power to appropriate.” Collins quoted Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the Federalist Papers about the power of the purse being reserved for the legislature as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.” She said that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) support the joint resolution.

More than a month after the longest government shutdown in US history ended, a significant number of Transportation Security Administration employees still have not received all of their back-pay.

A former staffer on DDT’s presidential campaign filed a lawsuit against him for sexual misconduct outside a rally in Tampa. His behavior followed his claim to a pattern in 2005: “Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” She is the first woman to accuse him of sexual misconduct after he announced his run for president.

White supremacist hate groups have increased by 50 percent to 148 in the two years since DDT was inaugurated. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the “Proud Boys,” in its category of “general hate” and supported by Republicans, as “the most relentless campaign of rightwing street violence in recent memory” in its attendance at frequently violent street rallies. The organization has 44 chapters in 31 states, and its chairman, Enrique Tarrio, was seen in a place of pride at DDT’s Miami rally last month. Tarrio also visited Roger Stone after his arrest by the FBI, and the Proud Boys have a video of Stone’s initiated into their group. The SPLC report also names DDT and his Twitter account for pushing “noxious anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views.”

As DDT prepares to hand over nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, leave nuclear power in North Korea, and invade Venezuela, he desperately wants a Nobel Peace Prize because President Obama got one. He bragged about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominating him for the award, avoiding the fact that Abe was asked to do so, probably by Jared Kushner. Abe has not yet verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee. Last year, two “nominations,” both forgeries, came from the same person. Abe has not verified that he sent a nomination to the Nobel committee.

Another Manhattan condo association voted to take the Trump name off the building, the fifth in one neighborhood. In the 11 properties keeping the Trump name, the square footage brings less than in non-DDT-named places.

Release of 2018 ratings for world leadership shows that the U.S. went up only one percent after dropping from 48 to 30 percent between 2017 and 2018. Disapproval is still up 12 points since DDT’s inauguration.

Public opinion is heading in the opposite direction from GOP leadership: Russia is considered the chief enemy of the U.S., and 73 percent of people look at Russia unfavorably—both highs in Gallup polls. In a poll about affirmative action, 65 percent want programs for women, up from 60 percent, and in another high 61 percent want affirmative action for minorities. White people are behind the increase in voting for the need for minorities. DDT is rapidly losing his popularity with Republicans and independents.

January 6, 2018

The U.S. Headed for the Gutter

Left alone this weekend, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is still angrily tweeting about Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury and describing himself as “a very stable genius”:

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart….”

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum describes DDT as “the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist,” “the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate,” and “the protege of Roy Cohn’s repeatedly accused of ties to organized crime.”  According to Frum, DDT’s danger is “not the man, but the system of power surrounding the man.”

DDT’s power system in just the past month:

Despite Department of Defense opposition, DDT wants to open drilling in all but one 26 areas currently off limits in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico—over 90% of U.S. oceans. Atlantic-coast governors and legislators of both parties oppose the drilling from Maine to the Florida Keys. An oil spill the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill off the coast of North Carolina would cost almost 350,000 jobs and $35 billion in revenue. Even avid DDT supporters oppose his plan.

Republicans gave oil companies $500 billion this week when they let a tax of nine cents per barrel on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products expire, a tax used to respond to accidents. The current administration also plans to reverse safety rules created after the horrific Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill in 2010.

The Interior Department revoked a requirement for fossil fuel companies to reveal the chemicals in fracking fluids and regulations that tightened standards for well construction and wastewater. It also suspended a study on the safety of offshore drilling platforms and health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining in central Appalachia. On February 8, 2018, two million acres of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are available to mining and drilling for free. Gone are the wild red rock canyons, valued hunting and fishing, and tens of thousands of Native American archaeological sites while private companies reap the profits of the nation’s fossil fuel resources.

In addition to these rollbacks, the Interior Department renewed copper and nickel mining leases in the pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, opening up the area to one of the most toxic industries. The leases are a gift to Chilean mining billionaire Andrónico Luksic, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord for their house in Washington, D.C. People can oppose the decision by signing this petition and contact the Interior Department.

Other destructive administrative actions in December:

  • A plan to replace the Clean Power Plan.
  • Removal of climate change from global threats to national security, one of the Pentagon’s concerns. Exemption of the Endangered Species Act requirements in the $81 billion disaster bill.
  • Indefinite postponement of a previously announced ban of highly toxic chemicals methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), and trichloroethylene (TCE).
  • Executive order “streamlining” the leasing and permitting processes for exploration, production and refining of vaguely defined “critical minerals.”
  • Revocation of the Resource Management Planning Rule white advocated new technologies to improve transparency related to mining on public lands by stating that this rule “shall be treated as if it had never taken effect.”
  • Lack of prosecution for “incidental” killings of 1,000 migratory bird species by oil, gas, wind, and solar operators, illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • Dramatic expansion of the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam proved damaging or deadly to bees.
  • Prioritization of oil and gas leasing and development near and inside greater sage-grouse habitat management areas.
  • Extinction of the beaverpond marstonia snail extinct, the first in DDT’s administration.

The DOJ may ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, a move to skew the census’ ability to determine population for voting and federal funds. Since 1790, the decennial census, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been an effort to count everyone living in the nation, legally or otherwise. The question will further undercount the Hispanic population, giving white people an even greater advantage in elections. Families in the U.S. legally might decline to answer if they house friends or relatives who are not, increasing census costs for following up on nonresponders.

DDT is easing up fines for nursing homes that hurt or put residents in grave risk of injury. Since 2013, 40 percent of nursing homes—almost 6,500—have been cited at least once for a serious violation, and Medicare fined two-thirds of these homes. Some of these violations have led to the deaths of residents. DDT’s action follows the overturning of a ban on nursing homes from requiring residents to settle disputes through arbitration instead of court action.

Churches don’t pay taxes, but they’ll get tax money from the federal government after FEMA changed its guidelines to send them disaster relief funds. Religious institutions are now “community centers, without regard to their secular or religious nature,” FEMA said although “facilities primarily used for political, athletic, religious, recreational, vocational, or academic training, conferences, or similar activities are ineligible” for FEMA funds, according to the agency.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will encourage continued racial segregation in housing by delaying until 2020 a requirement that communities submit plans to reverse patterns of racial residential segregation in applications for block grants and housing aid. Plans already filed will no longer be reviewed for segregation.

DDT erased the deal for federal funds to pay for half the multi-billion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station.

Continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes from encouraging substandard healthcare plans for small businesses and self-employed people that could defraud customers, refuse coverage for basic needs, and leave people with pre-exiting conditions and serious health needs with much higher premiums and fewer choices.

DDT has disbanded his election fraud committee after multiple lawsuits, including one from a Democratic member who sued to find out when the group would meet and what it’s agenda would be. An executive order turns the findings over to the DHS that will decide what to do next. Panel members were directed to keep their materials for future lawsuits. During the committee tenure, a 52-year-old Democratic commissioner died during surgery, and a staff member was arrested for possessing child pornography. The dissolution of this commission is less than a week after DDT fired every member of his advisory council on HIV/AIDS.

After DDT disbanded the voting fraud commission designed to suppress minority, women, and lower-income voting rights, he again claimed that a large number of people are voting illegally and called for voter suppression through mandated IDs:

“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”

The DOJ is now supporting strict voter ID laws.

AG Jeff Sessions gave more money to employees by reversing a guideline about disabled people that requires them a greater chance at being in an integrated setting. Employing people in a segregated setting means that employees can be paid pennies on the dollar.

One DDT administrative plan with bipartisanship opposition is Sessions’ crackdown on state cannabis legislation. Despite federal belief that cannabis is equal to heroin, 46 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, sometimes reducing opioid and alcohol addiction, and eight states have legalized cannabis for recreational use. A law prohibiting the federal government from blocking state laws expires on January 19 with the end of the temporary spending bill, and Sessions is eliminating the “Cole memo” that stopped federal resources from interfering if states didn’t spread cannabis beyond their borders. Beyond the advantages of medical use, legalized cannabis has helped the economy through increased taxes and jobs. Legalization of cannabis could boost the market to $20 billion in annual sales that fund schools and other public services.

During his campaign, DDT promised that he would not use federal resources to block state laws; now he’s supporting Sessions, in opposition to 64 percent of the people in the U.S. who support cannabis legalization.

Conservatives are riled about Sessions impinging on states’ rights—usually a GOP position. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), known for supporting DDT almost 100 percent of the time, has said that he will put holds on all DOJ nominees in the six divisions needing senate confirmation if Sessions goes through with his crackdown. Gardner tweeted:

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.”

Within less than a year, DDT has declared war on all the offices that were created to protect people. He has trampled on endangered species, the nation’s resources, human rights, states’ rights, consumer protection, integration, health, open communication, transparency of government, any vestige of peace, and honor—every area that makes people’s lives better. He hates President Obama so much that he plans to destroy every accomplishment that benefits people while using his office to enrich himself personally and cause war around the world. The leader of the United States, a man filled with hate and revenge, is determined to drag the United States into the gutter. The question is whether the people in the nation will allow him to accomplish this goal.

May 21, 2017

Sunday Speeches: DDT Pandering; GOP Spin

The grand introduction to a nine-day tour by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was today’s pandering speech to over 50 Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, a speech written by Islamophobic Stephen Miller. Miller knew that DDT had to walk a fine line between not offending his racist U.S. base and the audience of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, including 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Gone was the term “radical Islamic terrorism” which he used as a litmus test for conservatives, damning all people who refused to say this expression. Only once did he slip in “Islamic terrorism” among the 32 times that he referred to terrorism in the 34-minute speech. The teleprompter read “Islamist,” but DDT may be accustomed to his own term which refers to the religion rather than a political movement.

Saudi Arabia was the safest place to give the speech because DDT is in sync with the authoritarian regime there. In his desire to feel royal, DDT is comfortable with their ostentatious wealth, lack of concern for rule, and a disregard for democracy. He had also just favored them with the $110 billion arms sale that President Obama had delayed on the basis of human rights and how the weapons would be used as well as the proposed Qatar purchase by Qatar of “a lot of beautiful military equipment,” as DDT describes them. DDT brought them other multi-billion dollar deals such as $6 billion for Lockheed for 150 Black Hawk helicopters and $15 billion for General Electric.

The speech also avoided other such alien concepts to the Middle East as democracy, gender equality, and political reform—again matching DDT’s approach toward ruling. Even better for Saudi support, he blamed Iran instead of ISIS “fueling sectarian violence”; he spoke about the “despair” of the Iranians on the day after they freely elected a liberal reform president and demanded that the largest Shiite country in the Middle East be more isolated. According to DDT, Iran is to blame for “so much instability,” and Shiite Hezbolla and Yemienis were equally condemned.

DDT claimed his purpose was not to “lecture” before he launched into ponderous and repetitious demands of “drive them out” like an Old Testament prophet declaiming that the Muslims are totally responsible in this “battle between good and evil.” Nowhere did he mention that his hosts are responsible for the Wahhabi Salafit extremists who murder “innocent people.” DDT also praised Saudi Arabia for its “strong action against the Houthi militants in Yemen,” an action using U.S.-made cluster bombs in crowded cities indiscriminately killing people and exacerbating a massive humanitarian crisis.

“We are adopting a principled realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” DDT told his audience, indicating that these “common values” can include misogyny, murder by beheading, and dictatorships in the name of oil and gas. He said, “Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination.” But the generality didn’t define “friends,” which could include Russia, Iran’s supporter, and the warring militias in the Middle East. DDT said:

“We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.”

Translations for this statement could  include that the U.S. can reverse its positions at a minute’s notice based on a knee-jerk reaction to an occurrence but that the U.S. will not oppose crimes against humanity unless it will be of some financial benefit.

DDT’s speech is being declared “presidential,” the common description for words he didn’t prepare that were carefully read with no off-script comments.

Yet former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams pointed out a major flaw, “an understanding of what produces extremism”:

 “The president’s approach would work if terrorists were coming from outer space, and our task were solely to organize against them militarily. That is no doubt part of the task—but not all of it, because they are coming from within the societies whose leaders he was addressing. He offered no explanation of what was producing this phenomenon…. Trump had no theory and therefore could not suggest what might be done to prevent more extremists from rising.”

While DDT was in Saudi Arabia trying to overcome the ghastly scandals of May, his faithful were spinning his actions on the Sunday talk shows.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that DDT talked about firing former FBI director James Comey with the Russian officials to prove he wasn’t distracted by any problems in Washington. As usual, Tillerson pressed his talking point that U.S. and Russian relations were “at a low point.”

National security adviser H.R. McMaster explained DDT’s meetings with the Russians as a desire to “find areas of cooperation.” Asked about DDT’s statements about Comey, McMaster said:

“Well, I don’t remember exactly what the president said. And the notes that there apparently have I do not think are a direct transcript.”

DDT reportedly called Comey “crazy” and “a real nut job” as well as firing Comey relieving “great pressure because of Russia.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed with DDT that Comey is a “nut job.” On Face the Nation, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“This is a horrible thing for a president to say. Former Director Comey is no way, shape, or form a ‘nut job.’”

Even Republican members of Congress didn’t defend DDT’s statements. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that the investigating committees on Russia’s meddling need to have “the notes.” He added:

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis…. People got what they voted for.”

Asked about DDT’s speech, Rubio said that he differed with him on DDT’s approach to human rights issues:

“I think it’s in our national security interest to advocate for democracy and freedom and human rights. We just have a disagreement on the right way to approach it.”

“The White House would benefit from some systems in place that perhaps avoids some of the unnecessary friction points that come up on a daily basis,” Rubio said.

With the possibility of again running for president, Rubio may have felt the need to soft-pedal his response, but Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was not shackled by any such requirement when he told Fox’s Chris Wallace that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey “had no business in the Oval Office” and cited Russia’s invasion into Crimea:

“Mr. Lavrov is the stooge of a thug and a murderer, who used Russian precision weapons to strike hospitals in Aleppo, who has committed human rights issues all over the place.”

McCain called himself “almost speechless” about the report that DDT told Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he fired Comey  to take “off” some of the pressure about Russia. Almost, but not completely. McCain said, “I don’t know why someone would say something like that,” he told Wallace.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in his interview today that the House Intelligence Committee investigation is examining possibly Russian collusion with DDT and his campaign. House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said that the scandal surrounding Russia goes far beyond DDT.

DDT may be back on U.S. soil sooner than expected. His staffers say that he is “exhausted” after less than two days of travel into his nine-day trip and  is already canceling some of his performances. This from the man who said that Hillary Clinton “lacks stamina” after her constant travel around the world while she was Secretary of State. Maybe he’ll be too tired to tweet.

 

March 31, 2017

DDT: Week Ten

Other than the fallout from failing to pass Trumpcare and the increasing—and damning—news about Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) connection to Russia, the biggest news was his rollback to President Obama’s orders regarding the climate.

Climate: DDT ordered the EPA to repeal the Clean Power Plan by removing new limits on emissions from coal-fired power plants. He claimed that it was for the economy, energy security, and jobs, but the entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s. DDT is preening, but the provisions weren’t to take place until 2022. In addition, a 2007 Supreme Court ruling found that greenhouse gases count as a potential air pollutant, requiring the EPA to regulate them. DDT’s order won’t reverse the decline of the coal industry that has fewer employees than clean energy. Coal’s enemy is natural gas.

Conflicts of Interest: Remember DDT’s blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest? Middle son, Eric, has corrected the blindness: he will apprise his father of his business’s progress every week. DDT’s daughter Ivanka Trump is following the same pattern: she has an office in the West Wing as “assistant to the president” but will continue to supervise her business. She is also being sued by Modern Appealing Clothing in an action for unfair competition. Just one more lawsuit against the Trump family as one of them uses their recently elected positions to make money.

Muslim Ban: U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii extended his order blocking DDT’s travel ban until the lawsuits goes through the courts. State AG Douglas Chin had argued that the ban’s message is like a “neon sign flashing ‘Muslim ban, Muslim ban'” that the government didn’t bother to turn off.

Trump University: U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego finalized the $25 million settlement in the Trump University litigation, giving a 90-percent refund to about 3,700 students. DDT can still appeal.

More Tweets?: Andrew Napolitano, missing from Fox network for two weeks after FBI Director James Comey denied his accusations, is back. The “legal analyst” stands by his misinformation that President Obama asked British intelligence officials to spy on DDT, a lie that led DDT to angrily tweet this information as fact. Hoping for a Supreme Court appointment from DDT, Napolitano, 66, has not been on the bench for over 30 years when he was a New Jersey Superior Court judge. He still is a 9/11 truther, a movement of conspiracy theorists who think that the explosions were permitted by the U.S. to curtail civil liberties and perhaps even done from within by controlled demolition.

No Condemnation for Killing by White Supremacist: Journalist April Ryan asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer if he had any comment about 28-year-old James Harris Jackson traveling to New York City and killing Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man, with a sword. Spicer repeatedly refused to answer, saying that he was “not going to reference any particular case before the DOJ right now” and later said he didn’t “know all the details.” Spicer comments only on killings that can be classified as “terrorist” because they are not by white people. Jackson said he to New York “to kill as many black men as he could.”

To Russia with Love: The prevalence of DDT/Russia stories deserve an entire book, but a major story this week concerns Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who is supposed to head up an investigation into the connection. After just the open hearing with FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) called off all meetings for the “Intelligence” Committee to protect DDT. The Senate Intelligence Committee is moving forward while Nunes and the White House are getting lots of bad press about getting information from the White House and then taking it back to the White House without telling any of his committee members. The most remarkable statement about Nunes’ behavior came from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) when he said that Nunes did the right thing because the member of Congress “works for the president.” Later he said that he misspoke, which probably means that he shouldn’t have openly told the truth.

Licking His Wounds: Last weekend DDT sulked about his loss of Trumpcare with two days of golf in Virginia. Is Mar-a-Lago losing its appeal? DDT’s expensive resort has been sold out, however, because Gov. Rick Scott is being honored as Statesman of the Year. Today, DDT is back to playing golf on one of his properties when his calendar indicated that he was in a meeting. He has visited his own-branded properties at least once every three days, at least 18 percent of his time while part-time president. He criticized President Obama for always playing golf, but the former president didn’t get in a game until 65 days into his first term.

“Quite a Story to Tell”: The lawyer for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn wants immunity to tell what he knows—sort of like Oliver North three decades ago. He doesn’t have any takers yet, but the question is whether he is trying to avoid prison. After all, he did say last summer than no one asks for immunity who isn’t guilty.

Changing Directions of Trumpcare: The direction of Trumpcare shifted in the high winds since House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called off the vote on the bill last Friday. A week ago, Trumpcare was dead, and DDT blamed Democrats. By Saturday he accused the GOP Freedom Caucus of sabotage and swore he would get those representatives defeated in 2018. They weren’t impressed. By Monday, the House was considering bringing health care back, and DDT was talking about getting Trumpcare passed with the support of Democrats. Tuesday Pence was sent to Capitol Hill to bring back health care reform, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said it was over. Wednesday, Ryan clearly stated that he wouldn’t work with Democrats. “I don’t want that to happen,” he said. On Thursday, both Democrats and conservatives were at fault, according to DDT. By yesterday, Greg Walden, chair of the committee responsible for getting health care to the floor, said, “We’re approaching the Easter season. Some things rise from the dead.” I wonder what evangelicals think about comparing a House bill to Jesus.

Disappearing Privacy: Last week, Congress made billions of dollars for Internet Service Providers by allowing them to sell personal information about all their subscribers. DDT’s constituents—white men, Ku Klux Klan, etc.—are not happy with  their vanishing anonymity. They’re screaming the usual “attack on freedom” and asking if they can still support DDT if (when?) he signs the bill. Progressive activist Adam McElhaney has found a way to resist: he established a GoFundMe page, “Purchase Private Internet Histories,” to collect donations to buy the internet histories of everyone—legislators, executives, and their families—who supported the bill to repeal the FCC’s privacy protections–and provide easily searchable information. McElhaney said it will include “everything from their medical, pornographic, to their financial and infidelity.”

Indifference to Human Rights: The State Department dropped “human rights improvement” as a condition for the sale of fighter jets to Bahrain, abruptly reversing an Obama-era decision that required the tiny island monarchy curb its human rights abuses and its crackdown on dissidents.

Melania Trump’s Residence: New Yorkers are tired of paying for DDT’s third wife and son to live in Trump Tower’s gold-plated penthouse. Almost 500,000 people have signed a petition, “Make Melania Trump Stay in the White House or Pay for the Expenses Herself,” asking for her to be forced to leave because of their $50 million a year cost. Taxpayer expenses would go up at least $10 million if DDT were to spend weekends at his New York City home.

DDT’s Murders: After the terrible fiasco of DDT’s first sortie into Yemen, he turned the process of killing people in the Middle East over to the Pentagon, and they have taken off with vengeance. Earlier this month, a “precision” unstaffed drone bomb strike in Mosul killed 200 civilians, but the Pentagon wouldn’t admit this for weeks. The horrific disaster has now been covered up with the news about Russia and health care. Many of them died slowly because they were buried under the rubble. They stayed in their homes because they were told not to leave. It came from the fact that DDT “relaxed” the rules of engagement in the war against ISIS. The U.S. has dropped over 2,000 bombs on Mosul just in March and killed 1,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria. DDT said, “The results are very, very good.”

One area in which the gender gap is disappearing is between men and women disapproving of DDT. Approval among men dropped seven points in March, now down to 44 percent. Women are down to 34 percent approval with overall approval at 39 percent. The GOP dropped four points, and independents six. DDT’s support is below 50 percent among men, people over 50, married people, and all non-Hispanic whites. The Gallup poll of 37 percent has now dropped to 35 percent.

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

September 23, 2016

Misplaced Protest Can Lead to a Trump Presidency

The election is getting closer, and some millennial Bernie Sanders supporters are still opposing Hillary Clinton. They—and many others—say that they will vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in a protest vote although many of them also know nothing about these two candidates. At this time, Clinton is less than three percent ahead of Donald Trump in an average of major polls while Johnson and Stein have over 11 percent between them. In browsing my LGBT file, I found a message written to Daily Kos published over six weeks ago.

“A message to the millennial LGBT’s I see on my feed bashing Hillary on a daily basis by re spewing the Republican lies and propaganda about her & vowing to vote for Jill Stein or write in Bernie….

“My husband Steve & I have been together over 26 years now, & btw it’s been less than 3 years that I’ve been able to call him that, and though it’s about so much more than the money, we’ve saved over $42,000.00 in that short of time by being able to file taxes as a married couple, and by having him on my health insurance.

“We’ve been waiting & fighting for that equality since before most of you were born.

“Your third party or write in vote only helps elect Donald Trump, check your history books, when was the last time one of those won a presidential election?

“You often quote that Hillary stated that she was against marriage equality, she did, but that was years ago when just about every other liberal politician had to say that too just to get elected, btw we’ve received more equality in just 7 years under our current president who also evolved on marriage equality.

“Though you don’t hear about it much in the so called liberal media, Trump vows to appoint Supreme Court justices that will overturn marriage equality, says he’s ok with the anti LGBT law in North Carolina & other states, & has selected the countries most hateful anti-LGBT Governor as his running mate.

“Often the younger generations thank Steve & me for helping pave the way for acceptance & equality, as we appreciate & thank the ones that came before us.

“To see you, however inadvertently it might be, help pave the way back to the 50’s is just unfathomable to me, I’m closing in on 60 years old & really don’t want to have to start over from square one.”

#lovetrumpshate Robert Hansen/Steve Schneider, Oakbrook Terrace Illinois

Tomorrow the couple celebrates its third anniversary because they couldn’t get married 27 years ago. Happy anniversary, Bob and Steve!

iowacouple

Notice in the Windy City Times: Bob Hansen (in the purple vest) and Steve Schneider (in the lime/yellow vest) recently wed in Iowa. They described it as being such an amazing and emotional moment, surrounded by family, 23 years (and four months) after meeting as next-door neighbors. They also expressed gratitude for the judges that brought this equality to Iowa and sadness for the judges’ ousters shortly afterwards.

Some of the Hillary-haters may say that LGBT rights mean nothing to them, but a Trump president will cost them in their rights and their bank accounts. Trump’s philosophy is to rip off people and put the money in his pocket. A Trump presidency means no more health care or other safety nets for low-income and middle-class people, far higher taxes for everyone except the wealthy, higher costs for college tuition instead of free higher education for the poor—and a dictatorship because Trump likes “strong leaders.”

A Trump presidency can remove rights for women, minorities, moderate Christians, atheists and agnostics, low- and middle-income people. Only wealthy white men will benefit from a Trump presidency. Electing Trump can cause the death and destruction of World War III if someone makes a rude “gesture.”

In normal times, a vote for third party candidates means supporting the voters’ ideals. In 2016, a vote for a third party candidate means that a president can be elected, like in 2000, who leads the country into unending war and economic depression. England recently voted to follow one of Trump’s ideals—to leave the European Union—because they feared immigrants. The day after that vote, many of them said that they had changed their minds or never even intended to vote for leaving the EU. The country is now considering another vote or a reversal of this one. Voting for Johnson or Stein—or Trump, for that matter—doesn’t leave voters any chance to change their minds. It’s done deal that will truly lead the United States into disaster.

People will be making the most important decision of their lives in the next 46 days. I can only hope that voters use rational thought instead of emotional responses in making this choice.

November 4, 2015

Elections Advance Progressive Issues

Mainstream media articles today sent the message that progressives lost the country after yesterday’s election. Seventeen percent of voters in Kentucky picked a GOP governor for the first time since, a man who even the RNC was reluctant to support. Virginia kept a Republican legislature, and Houston kept trans people from being able to use the appropriate restroom for them. Almost 10,000 voters in Coos County (OR) decided that they could not obey gun laws that they don’t like. But across the country were pockets of successes for human rights.

 

  • Pennsylvania: In a highly expensive election, Democrats swept three seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, giving them a five-to-two majority; previously, Republicans had controlled the bench three-to-two, with two vacancies. This majority will influence the next round of legislative redistricting because it picks the tiebreaking vote for the commission that draws maps for the state legislature. Republicans chose the tiebreaker last time, but the newly elected judges with ten-year terms will be there in 2021. Eliminating the gerrymandering from the past redistricting session could move the legislature to progressive instead of conservative.
  • Ohio: In another movement to stop gerrymandering, voters—by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent—passed a constitutional amendment to greatly reduce or even eliminate gerrymandering of state legislative districts in 2021. The state Senate had approved the measure by 28-1, and the state House of Representatives had voted in favor by 81-7. Ohio joins Virginia to be is one of the most gerrymandered states in the U.S. While Democratic candidates for the House got 55,000 more votes than GOP candidates, Republicans won 60 out of 99 seats. The GOP got 75 percent of the U.S. Representative seats despite getting only 57 percent of the vote in 2014.
  • Colorado: Voters decided to leave the taxes on cannabis with the state rather than collecting about $8 each. They made this decision despite advertising from the Tea Party (Teapublicans?) urging them to oppose the initiative that would take that money out of their pockets. The taxes go to public education, youth programs, and law enforcement.
  • Indianapolis (IN): Democrat Joe Hogsett defeated Republican Chuck Brewer 63-37 after the city had a GOP mayor for the past eight years.
  • Salt Lake City (UT): In this very red state, Democrat Jackie Biskupski unseated two-term Mayor Rich Becker (a fellow Democrat) by a 52-48 margin, making her the first openly gay mayor in Utah history.
  • Charlotte (NC): Democrat Jennifer Roberts squeaked out a 52-48 win over Republican Edwin Peacock to win the mayoralty in the state’s largest city, possibly slowing his political career. The city’s last GOP mayor, Pat McCrory, is now governor.
  • Mississippi: State Attorney General Jim Hood, the last Democrat holding statewide office in the Deep South, won a fourth term by a 56-44 spread. He has been a strong advocate for Hurricane Katrina victims still battling insurance companies. Democrats also took two of three seats on the Public Service Commission, the board that regulates utility companies. This may help keep the Mississippi Power Company from passing massive cost over-runs for a new $6.5 billion power plant to customers.
  • Maine: Voters expanded the state’s Clean Election Act by a 55-45 margin. The result is greater public funding for candidates, mandatory donor disclosure, and penalties for violators.
  • Seattle (WA): A wide margin passed the new campaign finance system to give each voter four $25 “democracy vouchers” every two years that they could then give as donations to candidates for city races like mayor and city council. Recipients will have to abide by additional caps on donations and spending as well as participating in at least three debates.
  • Tacoma (WA): Voters approved an $12 increase in the minimum wage over the next two years.
  • Elizabeth (NJ): The state’s fourth-largest city joined the three biggest ones to institute paid sick leave along with the states of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
  • Jefferson County (CO): Conservatives on the school board who tried to rewrite the AP U.S. history curriculum to “present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage” and “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system” lost their seats. In this case, the Koch brothers’ big cash infusion on the part of the losing school board members in the state’s second-largest school district was wasted.
  • New Jersey: Democrats picked up three more seats in the state Assembly, giving them the biggest majority in 36 years. Their governor, Chris Christie, is rapidly going done in the polls of presidential candidates.
  • Ohio: Voters successfully opposed the legalization of marijuana. Although this vote may not seem progressive, the constitutional amendment would have given all sales rights of the cannabis to just seven wealthy people. The state also voted to keep the initiative process from being used for personal economic benefit as it would “prohibit any petitioner from using the Ohio Constitution to grant a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit or to establish a preferential tax status.” Although this sounds good, the Ohio Ballot Board determines whether this is the intent of an initiative. Right now that board is a 2-to-2 split between Republicans and Democrats with the GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted breaking any tie. That gives him sole power for the determination of what a “monopoly” might be. In future initiatives about legalizing marijuana, Husted could determine that 1,000 growers equal a monopoly.

Kentucky elected a GOP governor who plans to take health insurance from 400,000 state residents, but a Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, may have changed the nation’s view on “religious liberty.” She claimed that being forced to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples violates her Freedom of Religion rights, but 56 percent of the people in the United States now think that she is wrong. According to this majority, government officials should put aside their religious beliefs when doing their jobs. Just last July after the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, 49 percent of the people thought that Davis was right; that number has been dropped by 14 percent to 41 percent. Among Republicans, that figure dropped from 72 percent to 58 percent, almost a 20 percent decrease.

As for the future of Kentucky, the people may need more than prayer. Under the two terms of Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Kentucky became a state with an unemployment rate at a 14-year low and a reduction of its uninsured by over 40 percent. When the newly elected governor, Matt Bevin, ran against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) a year ago, Republicans called Bevin a “con man” who “pathologically” lies. He didn’t tell the truth about his educational background, and his business needed a taxpayer bailout. During his campaign, he also repeatedly lied about being delinquent on property taxes owed in Louisiana and on a Maine vacation home. He lied about giving a speech at an illegal cockfighting gathering. Caught in his lies, he created an “enemies list” of journalists who confronted his lying. Kim Davis’ Rowan County, however, didn’t vote for Bevin. [Photo: Bevin with Kim Davis and her husband, Joe, with Ted Cruz lurking in the background.]

Joe-Davis-matt-Bevin-Kim-Davis-Facebook-800x430

Bevin’s term will show how far he will go to hurt his constituency. If the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, is any example, people of Kentucky are in for a rocky road.

July 7, 2015

Who Do Conservatives—and Fox Hate?

 

The Homeless (and Bill DeBlasio): A Bill O’Reilly segment used Jesse Watters to wander around Penn Station asking homeless people where they slept and whether they had drinking problems. After five minutes of this, he asked mostly white commuters about how scary homeless people are, going so far as to repeatedly asking a young child because she initially expressed some compassion for the homeless. Watters blames New York Mayor DeBlasio because, as O’Reilly and Watters agreed, the homeless knew their place under Giuliani and Bloomberg. 

Black People (ala Geraldo Rivera): After criticism of Kendrick Lamar and hip hop, Rivera concluded that black people’s clothing styles and art forms are responsible for racism and excessive police violence against blacks. Hoodies and sagging pants kill. Peter Johnson, legal analyst for Fox, called people who fight against racism “cultural cousins” of the Charleston killer. Hearing that the anti-racism group Disarm NYPD was to hold a rally against the Confederate flag on July 1, he agreed with Fox and Friends commentators that the rally could be a “precursor” to a terrorist attack and called them “the essence of anarchist values that seek to destroy the country.”

Immigrants: Following Donald Trump’s accusations that undocumented immigrants are largely rapists and other criminals, Megyn Kelly cited Ann Coulter’s “whole book right now that makes this point….  She cites data that does support the fact that some, obvious, immigrants who come across the borders do turn out to be criminals.” Rivera’s statement that “undocumented immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the citizen population of the United States” didn’t faze her.

Looking at Donald Trump’s amazing popularity in the polls, Rick Santorum decided to follow the presidential candidate in bashing immigrants. Sunday he told CBS John Dickerson, “People who are coming illegally obviously are coming with a bad intent. Let’s just be honest, they coming with the clear intent of breaking the law.” Trump has support from other GOP candidates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Ted Cruz (TX).

In Dublin (Ireland), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told an audience that immigration reform is on the top of his agenda. He told people in the United States the same thing two years ago but hasn’t made a move on the issue.

Hollywood “Elite”: Sen. Rand Paul is making a name for himself by railing against the $25,000 seed money that the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Academy of Motion Pictures Films and Sciences a $25,000 grant to aid in the planning of exhibits for a privately funded $300 million museum in Los Angeles. The man who opposes raising the minimum wage, pay for women, and spending on infrastructure calls the $25,000 the “equivalent of the tax burdens of four Americans.” He also wants to give big oil money while taxing the poor with a regressive flat tax. I call the $25,000 the equivalent of 15 percent that the country gives a member of Congress to do nothing but block progress.

Workers: Objecting to President Obama’s proposal to extend overtime protections to 5 million workers, Ainsley Earhardt explained that this was a bad idea: “I was making 20-some-odd-thousand dollars with my first job as a reporter, and I always said yes to everything that they asked me to do.” Co-host Sandra Smith agreed because former McDonald CEO Ed Rensi told Fox that “these jobs are not careers.”At this time, only workers who make less than $23,660 are eligible for overtime pay. The new rules would extend those protections to workers making as much as $50,440 a year. 

Same-gender couples Who Marry: Crazy Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin state representative, claimed that legalized marriage equality is an offense to those killed in the Civil War, “a strong religious war to further a Christian lifestyle by getting rid of slavery.” According to Grothman, people who died in the Civil War would be “shocked” to learn that the recent Supreme Court ruling used the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. According to GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, marriage equality is “an attack on Christians and their religious liberty is a hate crime that must be prosecuted.” In Colorado, the hatred is pointed at “almost all people who want to marry” because the ballot initiative for a state constitutional amendment would allow the rejection of almost any marriage.

The Supreme Court: The solution to progressive rulings at the end of June is to have “retention elections” by the “American people,” according to GOP presidential candidate Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX). He wants a majority by the U.S. population and majorities in at least half the states to agree that justices are fit for retention. He said, “Who in their right mind would design a system where every major public policy issue of the day is decided not by the people, not by the Constitution, not by the elected representatives, but by nine elite lawyers in Washington, D.C.?” He forgets that the Founding Fathers put that into the Constitution that conservatives claim to revere.

Everyone in the U.S. Who Uses Any Infrastructure: Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) introduced the Transportation Empowerment Act (TEA) to terminate the gas tax that funds federal transportation projects and turn the responsibility of maintaining the interstates over to the states. Congress is trashing the country’s valuable infrastructure by refusing to increase the 18.4 cents per gallon put into effect 22 years ago. Just one example is the Arlington Memorial Bridge linking the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River where several bridge lanes were closed in May and the weight limit eliminated the use of thousands of tour buses.

Recently, eight more states—seven of them Republican—are increasing gas taxes to provide vital repairs to falling bridges and crumbling roads. Nebraska even overrode the governor’s veto. Eight years ago, the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis killed 13 people and injured another 145. The same problems are evident at thousands of other bridges. The man responsible for this devastation is Grover Norquist who has blackmailed almost all GOP candidates into signing a “no-tax” pledge through his Americans for Tax Reform.

Presidential campaigning affects the way that states look at the infrastructure problem. In an attempt to avoid being known as a “tax-and-spend” candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed $1.3 million in transportation bonds. GOP legislators are not happy about his idea, and Walker has pushed back his official candidacy announcement because of the ensuing battles.

Marijuana-Businesses-Donate-Big-Bucks-To-Clean-Up-Highways-In-Colorado

In Colorado, legalized marijuana is helping save the infrastructure. “Pot shops” are putting money into roads and highways, one of them as much as $100,000, beyond the 28-percent taxes that they pay. Republicans have had no comment thus far.

Human Rights Advocates: After the Human Rights Council of the UN condemned Israel for violating human rights of innocent Palestinians last summer, Cruz called for the U.S. to drop its membership in the council. The UN action was pretty tame, considering that Israel emulated the Nazis during World War II by officially calling for genocide against the Palestinians. Cruz has accused the UN of being anti-Semitic—but then he also thinks that UN is trying to close the golf courses in the United States.

People Who Use National Parks and Other Public Lands: The Koch brothers, through its executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), is calling for no more national parks. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Reed Watson said that the government doesn’t need to care for lands because “true conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have.” He calls for the end to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a budget-neutral program using funds from offshore oil and gas development fees for federal, state, and local outdoor projects across the country—such as ones at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. PERC’s goal is to sell off public lands to the highest bidder so that they can be used for mining, oil drilling, and cutting down trees.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), GOP presidential candidate, supports the Koch brothers plan to turn land back to states to use in any way that conservatives wish. Cliven Bundy, the man who succeeded in not paying the federal government for grazing by calling in renegade gun groups, met with Paul and said that they are “in tune with each other.”

And lots more hatred from conservatives later!

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