Nel's New Day

January 12, 2019

GOP Makes History with Shutdown—Again

Day 22 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has his wish—the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Until today, the longest was from December 5, 1995 to January 6, 1996 when GOP leaders disagreed with the method of determining a balanced budget. Before that, the GOP closed the government from September 30 to October 18, 1978 when Jimmy Carter opposed purchasing the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Details of all shutdowns until the GOP objection on October 1-17, 2013 to the Affordable Care Act are here. In the formerly three longest shutdowns, the Republicans voted to agree with the Democratic presidents.

This past week, members of the Coast Guard risked their lives to rescue three men on a crabbing boat that tried to cross the dangerous Newport (OR) bar, the opening at the end of a jetty between the ocean and Yaquina Bay. Sadly, the boat was lost and the three crew members died, but not because the Coast Guard didn’t do their jobs—although they aren’t being paid. The 41,000 members of the Coast Guard are part of the 800,000 federal workers no longer receiving paychecks because of DDT’s intransigence or government allowances for housing in expensive coastal cities.

Adding insult to injury, a federal website for Coast Guard members published a five-page tip for surviving without paychecks—babysit or dogwalk or serve as a “mystery shopper.” They could sell their belongings at a yard sale. “Bankruptcy is a last option,” according to the website although it’s always been DDT’s first action before he got money from his father or the Russians. To be fair, the recommendations are primarily for the 8,500-person civilian workforce, but its publication is still demeaning, especially the comment, “Stay in charge of the situation by getting a clear understanding of what’s happening.”

Federal workers are already struggling to make up for the missing paychecks by getting supplies at charity food pantries, driving for Uber, and giving blood. They aren’t employable because they may not be staying on the job long. At the same time, states and municipalities are losing revenue by less sales tax, and small businesses are hurting from lack of business.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to address any bill passed by the new Democratic House.  Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “The goal is not to open up the government. Instead, the Senate focused on a bill The goal is to fix a broken immigration system.” Instead, the Senate worked on a bill giving states the right to punish companies that boycott Israel by refusing to contract with them and adding $33 billion in military aid to Israel over the next ten years to the $5.5 billion the U.S. enacted in last year’s defense spending bill. The fast-tracked bill bypassed any committee involvement. McConnell’s blocking all bills to reopen the government led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to ask:

“Do you take an oath to the Constitution or an oath to Donald Trump?”

 

This week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) decided to negotiate a resolution with DDT by reopening the government while letting congressional committees sort out money for the wall. DDT rejected the GOP plan, and Graham said that he’s given up looking for a resolution. In making a “deal” for the wall, each side has to give something to get something. The only “give” that DDT offers is reopening the government—which he has to do anyway. DDT claims “No wall, no deal,” and the only resolution is for two-thirds of each congressional chamber to vote for a continuing resolution—without a wall.

DDT now falsely claims he never said that Mexico would pay for the wall. Not only does video show him making this statement over and over, but his campaign materials state that he expects to finance the wall with “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” from Mexico which his administration would “compel” the country to make.

Trying to avoid bad press and appease friends, DDT promised the illegal actions of sending tax refunds to people and favoring lobbyists in the lending block of the mortgage industry. Yesterday, 800,000 federal workers got paychecks with $0.00, but Treasury officials guaranteed that the IRS will process forms for mortgage lenders. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association CEO, Robert Broeksmit, asked to “make these guys essential” because of “a problem for the lending industry.” The clerks working on Broeksmit’s problem will receive full pay, unlike the vast majority of their colleagues, but the estimated 248,400 veterans working for the shutdown government agencies get nothing.

In 2004, DDT told an audience of graduates at Wagner College how to avoid a wall:

“If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it, go over it, go around it, but get to the other side of that wall.”

Thirty-three Wagner professors and over 700 alumni have asked the school to rescind the honorary degree that DDT received for his address.

A saw can be used to cut a hole through DDT’s preferred wall prototype, the “steel bollard.” Even without the hole, the spaces between the slats are wide enough for packages or perhaps people. Or they can just climb the bollards.

 

“Never so many apprehensions ever in our history,” DDT said. Yet the 400,000 apprehensions in 2017 and 300,000 in 2016 are far lower than the past with 19 years over one million people between 1983 to 2006 and topping out at 1,643,679 apprehensions in 2000. And bipartisan support for immigration has grown.

DDT wants to build a wall by taking $13.9 billion in disaster relief in declaring a national emergency, including include $2.4 billion for flood prevention and protection projects in California, $2.5 billion for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico, and $4.5 billion for projects in Texas, including those related to 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.

Putting this money into a medieval wall is like flushing it down a toilet—or a river—especially in the vast areas of the Rio Grande floodplain, where a 1970 treaty between the United States and Mexico bans the barrier. According to the treaty, the joint U.S.-Mexico International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) “must approve construction of works proposed in either country” along those rivers and prohibits the construction of projects “which, in the judgment of the commission, may cause deflection or obstruction of the normal flow of the river or of its flood flows.”

Border experts state that a wall has already been built everywhere possible on the border, but 1,254 miles runs through the middle of the Rio Grande River which routinely floods—more and more since recent climate change. Any barriers will greatly worsen flooding as shown by the flash flood along the 5-mile border fence along the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument that poured through the port of entry and damaged businesses, government buildings, and private property. The only solution is to put the fence miles away from the border, leaving privately-owned U.S. land seized through eminent domain on the Mexican side and ceding that land to Mexico.

About walls, DDT declares he’s a “professional at technology.” He said, “I know tech better than anyone.” This statement follows all the other areas in which he considers himself an expert because he knows more about the subjects than “any human being on earth”: science, drones, Osama bin Laden, Cory Booker, borders, campaign contributions, courts, debt, Facebook, guns, visas, infrastructure, the political left, money, horror of nuclear, renewables, steelworkers, taxes, trade, Wall Street bankers, and wedges.

Jeffrey Toobin writes:

“If the President can spend government funds without congressional approval—indeed, if he can do so in the face of an explicit congressional refusal to spend funds for precisely the purpose that he seeks—that fundamentally reorders the relations between the branches. Specifically, it vastly expands the President’s power at the expense of Congress.”

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) went silent when CNN’s John Berman asked him if a future Democratic president could bypass Congress and declare climate change a “national emergency.” Finally questioning the validity of the claim, Berman pointed out that the Pentagon thinks climate change is a serious problem. Then deaths from guns could be a “national emergency.”

While DDT shuts down the government because of immigrants, U.S. citizens are destroying public land. A prime example is the prized Joshua Tree National Monument, now unstaffed, where “patriots” are cutting down trees (below right), making new roads with four-wheelers, and spray-painting rocks. Paraplegic veteran Rand Abbott has gone to the park almost every day to clean bathrooms, pick up trash, and “kindly persuade people to not destroy the park.”

Federal workers suffering from no pay are scattered throughout the country with the top afflicted places outside Washington, D.C. being Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Idaho. A map with numbers of federal workers without pay is here.

 

DDT’s shutdown is estimated to lose the economy $2.5 billion every week, a 0.1 percent loss in GDP for every two weeks. And that’s low-balling the guesstimate. Congress can stop the shutdown if two-thirds of each chamber votes for a continuing resolution or a budget. That’s 50 Republicans in the House and 15 in the Senate. The House has already picked up 12 Republicans. Maybe that many legislators will learn that a wall won’t stop drugs coming in through tunnels, ports of entries, and international bridges; a wall won’t address the majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who overstay their visas.

December 28, 2018

DDT: Week 101 – Watch China’s Growing Influence in Middle East

Day Seven of Government Shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may think that his shutdown isn’t successful because he’s now threatening to close the U.S. southern border and stop aid to several Latin American countries without his wall. Having canceled plans for any holiday vacation to Mar-a-Lago, DDT is sitting in Washington, D.C. with nothing to do except tweet. The U.S. has already announced a collaboration with Mexico, providing $10.6 billion to slow migration from South American countries.

  • The shutdown moves toward more debacles:
  • The possible cancellation of a global weather conference with over 4,000 attendees that wastes research and contracts.
  • Closure of all Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo on January 2.
  • “Furlough” of EPA employees.
  • Lack of payments, farm loans, and disaster assistance for farmers.
  • Suspension of FTC investigations and litigation, including those against Facebook.

Fortunately for Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers are still paying for DDT’s holiday bash, even though he didn’t attend, starting with $54,020 for tents on December 19. Individuals paid DDT’s private business $1,000 per person.

Some startling news has received almost no attention in the Western media amidst the shutdown hubbub. DDT, self-proclaimed great negotiator, planned to scare Pakistan’s military into cooperation by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan. Instead, China is buying Pakistan-built military jets, weaponry, and other hardware, a move that can deepen the two countries’ cooperation in space that China wants to militarize. It can also encourage other countries to buy military equipment from Pakistan instead of the U.S. Only Pakistan has access to China’s satellite navigation system allowing better guidance for missiles, ships, and aircraft. The countries also plan to link a port in coastal Gwadar across 2,000 miles to western China, allowing Chinese goods to have a much shorter and less expensive shipping route and avoid territorial waters of U.S. allies in Asia. China may also militarize Gwadar and other seaports being built in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, giving China great geopolitical influence in both commerce and military action.

The first Chinese ship, the cargo ship Zhen Xing Sung, reached Gwadar’s port this week loaded with seafood. Its owner, the China Overseas Shipping Co (Cosco), has a 40-year lease of the port and will export to Central Asia and the Middle East.

DDT became so angry with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation letter—once the media explained to him what it meant—that he had his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney immediately fire Mattis instead of allowing for a transition period until late February. Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, is the temporary replacement until the Senate has time to confirm him. Shanahan worked for the U.S.’s most profitable defense contractors Boeing for thirty years, quitting as senior vice president of supply chain and operations to join the Pentagon. Former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed concern when Shanahan was selected as Deputy Secretary of Defense and said, “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.” Shanahan promised to recuse himself from any financial interests related to Boeing.

One reason for Shanahan’s selection as Defense Secretary may be his enthusiasm about DDT’s Space Patrol control outer space, an idea that has been soundly ridiculed. DDT may find Shanahan useful because he has neither military nor foreign policy experience. Shanahan finds the position useful because Boeing has been successful in winning competitive contracts since he joined the Pentagon. The Air Force wants F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed, but the Pentagon is requesting F-15X fighters from Boeing, thanks to Shanahan’s involvement in funding.

DDT is facing not only investigations but also liens against his properties. A third lien, this one from AES Electrical, brings the total to over $5 million against his Washington hotel after the company assigned 45 workers to 12-hour shifts for almost 50 consecutive days to get it open when he wanted. The hotel opened on time, and DDT stopped paying AES. Plumbing firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. and Northern Virginia company A&D Construction also filed $2.98 million and $79,700. DDT claims that he’s worth $10 billion, but he has a long-time reputation of stiffing his workers at all levels.

Elected politicians are causing a “collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent” of the labor market since 1979 by giving power to employers through weakening unions, damaging minimum wage, and prioritizing low inflation over full employment. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners lost $1.53 trillion in income–$10,800 for every U.S. household—in 2015 alone. As a result of these policies, productivity has rapidly slowed since the 1970s, growing half as fast between 1973 and 2017 as it did from 1948 to 1973.

As DDT rails against Jerome Powell, the man he picked as chair of the Federal Reserve, the media is reminding people that he fired the former chair, Janet Yellen, because she is “too short.” Janet L. Yellen was considered the most qualified Federal Reserve chair perhaps ever, but DDT he broke a long-standing bipartisan tradition of retaining the Fed chair if they wanted to stay and were good at the job. Yellen fit both these criteria.

DDT is helping drug companies make more money from opioids by recommending that people with prescription for opioids also get prescriptions for an antidote. The health care costs will run over $1 billion. The recommendation came from DDT-appointed Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir. A two-dose kit of Naloxone nasal spray costs about $125. An automatic injector runs $4,000 per kit.

EPA has approved the Monsanto’s pesticide dicamba, an airborne chemical that can kill crops for miles away. Corn and other grass crops can tolerate the weed killer, but it kills soybeans, tomatoes, and other broadleaf plants. In 2017 and 2018, dicamba damaged almost 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois, except for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans. Dicamba drift has killed millions of dollars in pecan and peach trees plus destroying bees because they cannot survive on plants damaged from dicamba.

A new proposed EPA rule purports that a little pollution is good for people in order to erase regulations on toxic chemicals. Today, the EPA proposed a reversal of the clean-up of toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired plants. Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other birth defects in children, and the pollutants enter the food chain.

After 17 people were shot and killed in a Parkland (FL) school last spring, DDT put Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of an all-white committee to solve the gun problem. Her first solution was to use federal funds to buy guns for schools, but she moved back from that move because of the backlash. In her next step, she admitted to Congress that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings. Ten months after the tragedy, DeVos will use the “school safety commission” to discriminate against blacks and other minority students, permitting schools to use race in punishing them because of her claim that are the cause for an increase in school violence. The racial difference is already dire: black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. The commission was created because of killing by a white teenager, and most mass shootings at schools are by white males.

Almost 40,000 people died in shootings across the United States in 2017 during DDT’s first year after his inauguration, the highest number in 20 years. The U.S. now has 12 deaths per 100,000 people from guns compared to 0.2 per 100,000 people in Japan, 0.3 in the UK and 0.9 in Germany.

Last week, a second Guatemalan child died on Christmas Eve in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary clings to her story that parents are at fault. Yet on December 23 to 25, ICE officials dumped 600 hundred asylum seekers in the cold outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso where they had no housing or food and local shelters were not warned. Many of them were ill. The only other time that this has occurred was the week before the 2018 midterm elections.

Gallup poll’s most admired man for 2018 is Barack Obama, and the winning women is Michelle Obama. Barack tops the list for the 11th year in a row, one place short of tying Dwight Eisenhower for the record. Michelle has broken Hillary Clinton’s 17 year run. DDT came in second to Barack, and Melania Trump is fourth after Oprah Winfrey and Clinton.

Katherine Walker, the TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of The Apprentice, said that workers “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.” She added that he frequently commented on women’s bodies in a derogatory fashion. Walker believes—like many of us—that DDT would not have been elected president if not for that show. A piece in the New Yorker describes how Mark Burnett, former executive producer of the show, gave DDT the appearance of a tycoon. Voters bought the image, not the real person.

December 25, 2018

DDT’s Version of ‘Merry Christmas’

Day Four of Government Shutdown: Retroactive pay doesn’t mean anything for small businesses when people stop spending for the holidays out of fear that paychecks will not be coming for a long time. No more perks like manicures or more presents. After Christmas, forget sales for clothes and other things that people load up on at the sales. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) says he won’t stop the shutdown until he gets his money. Sounds like blackmail on Christmas Day.

DDT wants people to say “Merry Christmas,” but he debunked Santa Claus to a seven-year-old girl when she called to check on Santa’s progress on NORAD. When DDT answered the phone, he asked While answering telephone calls from children tracking Santa’s progress on NORAD, DDT asked Collman Lloyd of Lexington (SC) if she is “still a believer in Santa Claus.” After she said yes, DDT said, “Because at 7 that’s marginal, right?” Fortunately, Collman doesn’t know the meaning of “marginal,” and she still believes in Santa because the milk and cookies left for him overnight disappeared. DDT, who threw rocks at other toddlers in play pens before he was three years old, just shot down Santa Claus for a lot of people.

The day before DDT tried to burst Collman’s bubble, he moaned on his Twitter account:

 “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.” [DDT’s version of “all alone.]

Earlier this year, DDT turned down $25 billion in border security, but he claims that “the wall is different” and that it “will be built with shutdown money plus funds already in hand.” He’s missed the fact that the shutdown costs money; it doesn’t increase funding. And that’s just part of the anger-filled, hateful tweets that he sent from the White House in the days before Christmas when he wanted to be cheered on with Mar-a-Lago members.

In several tweets, DDT scapegoated Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for his own mistakes that led to the massive drop in stock markets during December. After a disastrous week, the Dow Jones plunged another 653 points in a half-day session yesterday. Economists have been muttering about an upcoming recession for months, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, formerly king of foreclosures who didn’t let an elderly widow escape when she owed $.27, tried to block the fall. On Sunday, Mnuchin tweeted that the public has plenty of money to borrow because he talked with CEOs of six large banks. The CEOs were confused by his tweet, and the stock market had its worst Christmas Eve in history. The other major stock exchanges dropped in equally disastrous percentages, and crude oil fell over six percent to below $43 a barrel.

DDT added to the roiling market by threatening to fire Powell, his own appointment, and asking if he has the right to carry through with his threats. Mnuchin told DDT Saturday night that Mnuchin didn’t have the right to fire Powell although the law permits the president to fire a Fed board member “for cause.” Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director/acting chief of staff, said Saturday that DDT wasn’t going to fire Powell, whose term as chair ends in 2022 and board member in 2028. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that DDT’s war on the Fed has caused some of the problems:

“Investors are increasingly spooked by the president’s wrong-headed attacks on the Fed and the Treasury Secretary’s ham-handed efforts to convince everyone Trump doesn’t mean it and that everything is fine.”

Although DDT claimed today that he was happy with Mnuchin, insiders are saying that he is upset with him. Mnuchin may follow former Defense Secretary James Mattis out of the Cabinet.

Christmas 2018 is the date that DDT cut off aid for abused women. Funding for the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) stopped when DDT’s shutdown began. Women lose their resources to be safe just before the holidays, a particularly dangerous time for them.

DDT has cut off paychecks for about 800,000 federal workers as well as planning to cut food stamps from another 800,000 people. Upset because the farm bill did not have provisions to starve people, DDT has announced his own orders last week to circumvent a law passed by Congress. DDT follows the conservative argument that people who get benefits aren’t working because they are lazy. DDT’s proposed rule removes the 20-year-old states’ rights to issues waivers if unemployment is 20 percent over the national average or there are significantly fewer jobs available than people who need work. DDT’s order to remove waivers in areas of unemployment under 7 percent will be made worse with bureaucracy such as Arkansas’s Medicaid overhaul where no waivers can be issued even in places with proof of insufficient jobs. Less than ten percent of food stamp recipients qualify as “able-bodied adults without dependents,” and over half of them work or volunteer enough time for the 20-hour work rules.

The Fox network final salvo in its “war against Christmas” blended with its war on gender identity and came from Tucker Carlson’s diatribe against gingerbread people with his guest Tammy Bruce. She claimed that gingerbread men are “obviously… they’re men.” She did indicate that she couldn’t tell the gender, “because they’re also not wearing clothes. So, it’s hard to say what they are and what they’re doing and not doing.” She probably refers to the fact that gingerbread cookies lack external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. Carlson called on people to not participate in the “spiritual neutering” of cookies. Part of the outrage came from false news reporting that the Scottish Parliament had banned the use of the term “men” when referring to gingerbread cookies. With 30 percent of women in the Scottish Parliament building stating they had been sexually harassed, the bakery renamed their cookies in solidarity.

A true war on Christmas this year is the war by DDT and the GOP against immigrants both documented and undocumented, especially those seeking asylum. A Guatemalan child died in DHS custody early this morning, the second one in less than three weeks. The cause hasn’t been announced, but children are put in extremely cold rooms when first in custody, supposedly to kill germs, and experience limited medical screening only for scabies, lice, and chickenpox. Children sleep side-by-side on mats on the floor with only a Mylar blanket. All their belongings are removed. The facilities were built in the 1980s and 1990s to temporarily house migrant adults. The 8-year-old boy’s death went unnoted in DDT’s furious tweets. Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has called for an investigation of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin after her death in custody on December 7, 2018 although the death was kept secret from Congress for almost a week.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her testimony to a House hearing that DDT’s immigration policies are unchristian and that they would have blocked Jesus Christ and his family from their flight to Egypt:

“During Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph—thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt.”

DDT skipped a presidential tradition on Christmas by avoiding any direct contact with military members on Christmas Day, instead addressing some service members on safe bases. He told them that drugs are flowing across the southern border, the Federal Reserve is endangering the U.S. economy, and Democrats are planning to harass him with oversight hearings. He said, “It’s a disgrace …, but other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.” Merry Christmas to you too, DDT!

On this Christmas Day, 705 days since DDT’s inauguration, I am grateful for a safe home with food and warmth. I don’t live in a war-torn area, I’m not a refugee from violence, I no longer teach where someone could come in to kill me and my students, I have health insurance—I could keep going on and on with the privileges that many of us have, even more privileges after DDT has declared war on every minority. The best gift for my Christmas Day—for my year—is that the nation may have a chance to save a small piece of its democracy. After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had two malignant nodules removed from her lung last week, she’s back at work in her room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors say that that there is “no evidence of remaining disease.”

July 19, 2018

The News for July 19, 2018

Today is the 170th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, when about 300 people–mostly women–gathered to address “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” They persisted, and one of those who attended managed to vote for the first time when women gained the right to vote 72 years later. On this day 170 years later, the current administration is attempting to rapidly reverse the accomplishments of the 21st century.  Following is an overview of a few political highlights for today, July 19, 2018:

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been forced to back down, this time from his anti-U.S. intention to turn U.S. government employees over to Vladimir Putin. As the Senate prepared to vote on a resolution opposing DDT’s honoring Putin’s request, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that DDT “disagrees” with the “proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin.” He had suggested swapping the 12 Russians indicted last week for 11 current former U.S. officials. The resolution stopping many government officials from being turned over to Russia for questioning passed the Senate by 98-0. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) were absent for the vote. Republicans did reject efforts to support the intelligence community’s assessment, Mueller’s probe, and implementation of congressional sanctions. None of these resolutions would have been binding on DDT.

Republicans plan to keep Russian meddling: the House refused to increase election security spending. The GOP prefers voter ID to stop non-existent voter fraud and repress non-GOP voting. The commission administering the election security grant program is missing half its four members. Without a quorum, it cannot approve testing of voting systems for required standards, and the patchwork of voting systems has differing degrees of reliability. It’s a policy to “Keep American Republican.”

Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stopped President Obama from making public the information about Russia’s hacking and election interference with accusations that it was a partisan move. No more. Despite the indifference of Republicans in Congress, DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein has a new policy to tell the U.S. companies, organizations, and others who are being attacked by foreign hacking and disinformation campaigns. He said, “The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda.” A Microsoft executive told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum today that Russia has target at least three candidates this year.

In another interview at the Aspen Security Forum, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained that removal of thousands of children from their parents is “to protect children.” She added that the courts—that actually require her to reunite children—are preventing families from staying together. In another noble move on her part, “we give a pregnancy test at DHS to every girl over 10.” It is her agency that imprisons pregnant girls to keep them from having any abortions unless courts manage to allow them to see doctors. Her claim that DHS gives aid to members of radical extremist groups who want to be non-violent is negated by her administration rolling back funds for this rehabilitation. The outstanding part of her responses was the support for “both sides” being to blame for the Charlottesville violence: “It’s not that one side is right, one side is wrong.” The official DDT administration position is that white supremacists are not wrong.

DDT has found another way to get rid of people he considers undesirable. Applicants for asylum visas no longer have 30 days to take care of missing or inaccurate information on their applications. The new policy is to immediately deport them with no advance warning—just a final statutory denial. They will be treated like criminals, who are also deported on a fast-tracked basis. [If only we could automatically reject DDT’s nominees who provide forms with missing or incomplete information!] The new policy politely states that it is “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes.” AG Jeff Sessions also disallows domestic and gang violence claims as bases for asylum; those seeking asylum must provide evidence that they fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. Fear of death doesn’t count.

On Fox’s Tucker Carlson show, DDT accused Montenegro of being responsible for starting World War III if it joins NATO because its people are “very aggressive.” Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic came into the limelight a year ago when DDT aggressively pushed him out of his path at the 2017 NATO meeting. [Full video here.] The country of 630,000 alienated Russia because it planned to join NATO: the Kremlin may have meddled in its elections, and pro-Russian militants planned a failed 2016 coup. NATO has an agreement that the other 28 members will support any one member attacked from outside. In its 69-year history, that agreement has been invoked only once—when 28 members went to the aid of the United States after the 9/11 attack. NATO members are still in Afghanistan after 17 years of the U.S. war there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convinced DDT to drop out of the Iran deal, according to a video of Netanyahu’s speech to his Likud party.

Poverty is no longer a problem in the United States. At least, that’s what DDT’s administration claims. A few facts they missed:

  • About 40.6 million people—12.7 percent of the population—lived below the official poverty line in 2016.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that 14.5 percent of people in the U.S. are impoverished.
  • Over 20 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty.
  • The United States was second only to Israel of the richest countries with the percentage of people in poverty in 2014.

DDT maintains that income data doesn’t reflect poverty because poorer people underreport their income, and interviews about consumption make poverty in the U.S. disappear. In that way, DDT can declare “mission accomplished” on the War on Poverty and do away with the entire safety net. Refuting this claim is a study tracking economic adversity, including reports of difficulty in paying for food, utility bills, rent, or medical care that comes out about the same as official poverty rates. DDT’s method shows a decline in poverty as more households struggle with costs of food and shelter. The chart below shows the how DDT’s system skews the facts:

Reasons for the inaccuracy of DDT’s report:

  • Poor people finance their spending with debt—payday loans, second mortgages they can’t afford, etc.
  • The cost of living for DDT’s report is adjusted more slowly than the official Consumer Price Index, making household spending appear to be growing faster.

EPA Scott Pruitt and his corruption may be gone, but the United States still has Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. After several reports of his illegally using taxpayer money, his own department’s IG is investigating the man responsible for protecting public lands about his real estate deal with Halliburton Chair Davi Lesar. The foundation run by Zinke and his wife granted Lesar’s real-estate development the permission to put a parking lot on land donated to the foundation for a Veteran’s Peace Park in Whitefish (MT). Zinke is also under investigation for a violation of the Hatch Act after tweeting himself wearing socks with DDT’s face and “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest fracking and offshore drilling companies; Zinke repeatedly opened up federal lands and coastal waters for fossil fuel drilling.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), known for his frequently obnoxious grilling of Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Peter Strzok, and others regarding their possible connections with foreign countries, has been revealed as a beneficiary of foreign monies for his election from his superpacs, including Great America PAC, that may also fund Russia’s attack on the U.S. election. The PACs’ major donors have direct ties with Cambridge Analytic, now defunct, that helped elect DDT through data collection, hacking, and social media manipulation. As chair of the Oversight Committee, Gowdy refused members 52 times to request subpoenas for interviews in the Russia probe. He will not be running for re-election.

ALEC, the powerful organization that writes conservative legislation for lawmakers, has lost ExxonMobil after Ford, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and many others left the group. The biggest oil and gas company in the world followed BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips in abandoning the Koch Brothers’ group after a disagreement about an ALEC resolution that would ask the feds to reconsider its findings that greenhouse gasses are harmful to human health. A major contributor to the secretive organization since 1981, Exxon has given millions to promote the conservative corporate agenda. Its departure comes in the midst of state investigations into its connection with hiding evidence about its climate impact from its shareholders as well as the public.

The classic for today comes during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum when NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell tells Director of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats the breaking news that Vladimir Putin is coming to Washington this fall. The video is not to be missed. The best part may also be that McConnell said that Put will not be coming to Congress. I’m sure that DDT wants to be alone with Putin anyway. The question is how long Coats will keep his job.

And that’s just one day for DDT’s administration.

July 14, 2018

DDT: Week 77 – Attacks on Europe

Immigration was the subject of yesterday’s blog post, but a new, egregious government action has been revealed since then. The government is keeping children from parents until they undergo a DNA test—and some parents have been told that they must pay for the procedure. People who come to the U.S. with little more than the clothes on their back may be denied their children without paying up to $800. HHS has hired a private contractor to administer tests but refuses to name the company, possibly a legal violation. Three women who reported the demand are children’s parents, and the fourth is the sister of a three-year-old boy. Federal officials say that adults may not have paperwork to prove their relationship with children because ICE or border agents took the documentation. HHS process: the U.S. removes documents, the government then demands the documents that were taken, and parents are ordered to take a DNA test because they don’t have the documents. Even if the parents eventually get their children returned, they are subjected to this delaying tactic.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has spent the bulk of the week embarrassing people in the United States with his bully behavior toward allies and sycophancy toward Russia. His schedule for the past five days:

NATO Summit (Wednesday/Thursday):

Before DDT left to meet with the 28 members of NATO, formerly U.S. allies, on Monday, he said about his week:

“I have NATO, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?”

Concerned about DDT’s alienation of U.S. allies, the Senate approved a motion of support for NATO while DDT traveled to NATO. Only two senators—Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) dissented. The next day, Senate, lacking the courage to pass a bill to stop DDT, voted 88-11 to politely request that DDT get their approval before imposing tariffs on other nations in the name of national security. The 11 Republicans who want to turn their legislative responsibilities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution over to DDT are John Barrasso (WY), Shelly Capito (WV), Mike Crapo (ID), Mike Enzi (WY), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Jim Inhofe (OK), David Perdue (GA), James Risch (ID), and Tim Scott (SC). Barrasso, Hyde-Smith, and Heller are running for re-election; DDT is known for his vengeful nature. DDT’s threat to add $200 billion to tariffs on imports from China resulted in a 200-plus drop in the Dow Jones.

DDT’s continued performance at NATO leaders as a spoiled, out-of-control child:

  • He first demanded that every member country pay 2 percent of the GDP immediately instead of on the time line.
  • He then lied about how much the U.S. pays and demanded 4 percent of GDP. (According to the Pentagon, the U.S. pays 3.3 percent, not 4.2 percent.)
  • He called some of the media fake.
  • He accused Germany of being under the control of Russia about German’s private business increasing its natural gas purchases to eight percent of the nation’s energy consumption. (DDT constantly panders to the Russian leader, even after proof that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.)
  • Chief of Staff John Kelly demonstrated great concern during DDT’s attack on Germany, but the White House explained that he was distraught because he expected a full breakfast instead of pastries and cheese. (No, I’m not joking!)

Fact Check about DDT’s NATO performance:

  • Countries do not owe the U.S. or NATO for any debts because NATO countries spend their funding on their own defense. Any “owed” money would be to their own military.
  • Under pressure from DDT, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg politely gave DDT’s tough talk credit for increased NATO defense spending, but that increase began under President Obama as shown by this chart.

  • NATO member defense spending is not “going down … very substantially.” In 2014, NATO members agreed to stop cutting their military budgets, and European spending rose from about $254 billion in 2014 with President Obama to $275 billion in 2017—an 8 percent rise in three years.
  • The U.S. pays $5 billion, 22 percent of NATO’s common fund, not the 70 to 90 percent that DDT claims.
  • Germany is not “captive” to Russia in natural gas imports. In 2017, Germany received more than one-third of its energy for electricity from coal and nearly 12 percent from nuclear plants. One-third came from renewable energy. Only 13 percent came from natural gas, with Russia as the major supplier.
  • NATO allies have not committed to increased spending, contrary to DDT’s claim, according to other NATO members.

DDT creates a crisis and then lies about having solving it.

Great Britain (Friday):

Shortly before meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on her home turf, DDT gave a press conference to Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid bragging how he told May “how she should negotiate” Brexit but that “she didn’t agree, she didn’t listen to me.” He insinuated that he prefers Boris Johnson, who just quit May’s cabinet, as a “great prime minister.” DDT followed his criticism by threatening to “end a major relationship” between the two countries and withdraw U.S. trade with the UK. The tabloid published DDT’s statements during the stately gala dinner at Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s birthplace, that was hosted by May where DDT’s late arrival left May and her husband standing alone in front of the palace. The Daily Mirror wrote, “The ego has landed.”

Other DDT statements:

  • Accused EU leaders of destroying its culture and identity by allowing in millions of migrants.
  • Tore into London Mayor Sadiq Khan for not standing up to terrorists.
  • Blamed Khan for spiralling crime in the capital.
  • Denied once branding Theresa May a “bossy schoolteacher.”
  • Maintained he would keep ties with Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin despite the Salisbury Novichok poisonings.
  • Spoke of his sadness at feeling unwelcome in the capital by anti-Trump protesters.
  • Claimed millions of Brits backed his policies.
  • Complained about not hearing the name “England” any more although England has been subsumed into the United Kingdom.
  • Bragged about polling better than Abraham Lincoln—although there were no polls 150 years ago.

Later DDT claimed that he “didn’t criticize the [British] prime minister,” that the “fake news” was to blame and that a recording of the interview would prove that the Sun published falsehoods. Unfortunately for DDT, the Sun taped the interview and released the audio with all the statements that DDT denied. In his later interview, he also reiterated his racist remarks about immigrants to Great Britain, accusing them of stripping Europe of culture.

In criticizing immigration, DDT didn’t use the word “illegal.” His earlier comments about how immigrants “infest” a nation are reminiscent of neo-Nazi white supremacist terms such as “invaders” who attack white culture. Less than 100 years ago, Nazi propaganda described Jews as a biological threat with terms such as “alien” and “parasitic” who were responsible for Germany’s “degeneration.” More than representing the U.S. on his trip in his anti-immigration position, DDT claimed to “represent a lot of people in Europe,” taking the position of EU’s white supremacist movement.

DDT struggled with protocol when he was 12 minutes late to having tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and then briefly walked in front of the Queen when they were inspecting the Guard of Honor. At least he didn’t grab her hand the way he does with Theresa May.

 

Flying Trump Baby, a 20-feet inflated satiric blimp of DDT, wasn’t the only visual protest by the 250,000 people in London. Others visuals included walls and cages. [Workers tend to The Baby Trump Balloon while the U.S. President is visiting Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort in Scotland. Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]

A British tabloid shows that DDT’s ego knows no end: on its cover, The Daily Mirror summarized DDT’s assault on Great Britain:

“You insult our country, attack our [National Health Service], embarrass our Queen, undermine our ‘special relationship,’ humiliate our [prime minister]…and then smugly pose in Winston Churchill’s armchair. How dare you ….”

The late leader’s grandson Nicholas Soames called Trump a “daft twerp” last year for connecting the United Kingdom’s rise in crime to “radical Islamic terror.”

Trump Baby traveled north to greet DDT in Edinburgh before DDT moved to promote one of his two Scottish golf courses and play golf while he was booed. People on the beach shouted, “No Trump, no K.K.K., no racist U.S.A.”

Russian state TV is delighted with DDT’s work to create chaos within the free world. Tatyana Parkhalina, president of the Association for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, said:

“Neither the USSR nor Russia, who tried many times to drive the wedge between transatlantic allies, but the main player, Washington, and President Trump himself is doing everything to break down the foundations of transatlantic alliance and unity.”

DDT meets—alone—with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday. Maybe he wants to talk about a Trump Tower in Moscow.

HHS Makes Excuses for Failure to Reunite Migrant Families

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) failed its deadline to reunite all 102 children under the age of five with their parents. Officials supposedly succeeded in only 38 cases by the deadline although that number cannot be confirmed. The government now maintains that half of the separated children under five years of age should not be reunited with their parents.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar claimed that the children are not being reunited because the adults are not their parents, but immigration lawyer Barbara Hines reported that many parents who have birth certificates and other documents proving parentage are denied their children. A dozen children were not united because their parents were voluntarily deported, but the parents have said that they were told they would get their children back if they signed papers to leave the country. One father said he didn’t understand the paperwork he signed to leave his child in the United States. Reports indicate that HHS is not searching for deported parents.

The next deadline is July 26—two weeks from now—when the remainder of the approximately 3,000 youth, many of them as young as five years old, must be returned to their parents. Judge Dana Sabraw repeated that her deadlines are firm—“not aspirational goals.” She has asked the ACLU to “submit a proposal for possible punishment.” Officials are facing an almost impossible task: they admitted that they didn’t set up any systems to reunify parents with children.

Azar said that the U.S. is acting “generously” toward these children torn from their parents with only a few returned after a court order. He said:

“It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally.”

He explained that “we could put children back with individuals who are murderers, kidnappers, rapists or are not their parents” and added that he “could release all of the kids by 10:55 p.m., but I don’t think you want that.” Azar ignored the fact that the government doesn’t know how to find many of the parents.

Politico is painting Azar as the victim in the fiasco by saying that the man who lacks records for parents of 3,000 separated children was “pilloried on cable TV” while “he’s working through a thicket of court orders and red tape.” Author Dan Diamond criticizes the debacle for taking Azar’s time “from other priorities, such as lowering drug costs and helping solve the opioid epidemic.” An HHS official said about Azar, “He didn’t want the job.” Diamond described Azar as “a proven problem-solver … at drug giant Eli Lilly.” At this time, Azar is escaping much criticism from the mercurial DDT because publicity has focused on DDT’s vendetta against Europe, but failure to return the rest of the children within the next few days will bring the subject back to the media forefront.

Azar is now allowing his agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to funnel funding into the reunification project from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, which is intended to provide “a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured.” He also took more from social services, medical assistance, and English language instructions for refugee resettlement. ORR, which had a $1.3 billion for the entire year is asking for an additional $1.3 billion for the last three months of 2018. The average stay of migrant minors in federal custody is now 55 days, with longer stays anticipated as ORR shifts away from its mission for short-term care to keeping children for much longer times.

Separating migrant children from their parents is great business for DDT’s donors who make $1 billion annually. Grants for shelters, foster care and other child welfare services for detained unaccompanied and separated children rose from $74.5 million in 2007 to $958 million in 2017. Over 11,800 children from a few months old to 17 years are kept in almost 90 facilities in 17 states. HHS requested bids in May of over $500 million for beds, foster and therapeutic care, and “secure care” (aka guards). which means employing guards. More contracts are expected to come up for bids in October.

The latest attack on immigrants is in the military that is discharging legal immigrants with no justification. For example, Panshu Zhao finished a graduate degree and is working on a doctorate in geography at Texas A&M. He joined the military under a special program promising a faster path to citizenship. After waiting for years to be cleared for duty and accepted, he like many others, has been declared ineligible to serve. While the Army has a shortage of recruits and farmers need workers, DDT is throwing out some of the best, keeping workers for himself. He’s getting another 78 immigrant workers for Mar-a-Lago. At three DDT properties in New York, only one of 144 jobs went to a U.S. worker; the remainder went to foreign guest workers.

Infants and toddlers must appear in immigration court to defend themselves. A one-year-old boy in federal custody whose father has already been returned to Honduras appeared in an Arizona court without parents. He drank from a bottle and “cried hysterically” before he left the courtroom before a judge overrode federal officials to send the baby back to his father. Officials argued that they shouldn’t be required to reunite children with deported parents. Judge John Richardson said he was “embarrassed to ask” the baby if he understood the proceedings, a DOJ requirement. Another boy held up five fingers when he was asked his age. These children cannot even see over the defense tables, and their feet don’t touch the floor.

Children have had to appear in courts located in California, Arizona, Texas, and Washington, D.C. The government is not required to provide legal representation to undocumented children and adults. A National Review column accused Michael Moore of lying about the situation when he said that these toddlers “cannot” have a lawyer. They “can” have a lawyer or adult; they are even permitted to ask for someone from a list of legal services organizations. Just imagine a three-year-old being given this list and then calling one of them.

In 2016, senior Department of Justice immigration Judge Jack Weil insisted in a federal court deposition that he can teach three- and four-year-olds to be knowledgeable about immigration law and represent themselves in court. He said,

“You can do a fair hearing. It’s going to take you a lot of time.”

[Employees throughout the nation are complaining that they cannot find trained workers. Weil might be able to teach three- and four-year-olds to fill these slots.]

Unable to reunite many of the kidnapped migrant children with their parents, DDT’s administration is threatening to resume the separation if parents in detention don’t waive their children’s right to release. A judge told DDT he couldn’t indefinitely detain children with parents awaiting deportation proceedings, because of the 1997 Flores legal settlement permitting children to be detained for no longer than 20 days. ICE doesn’t want to release families so they may continue to blackmail parents with the threat of separating them from their children if they don’t waive the child’s right for release. Separated children would then be classified as apprehended without their parents and put in HHS custody.

Paula White, chair of DDT’s Evangelical Advisory Board, has been excoriating the “law-breaking” immigrants while defending Jesus, who she says never broke the law. She said:

“Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years, but it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”

Jesus was crucified because he broke the law by claiming to be the son of God, resting on the Sabbath, and driving money changers out of the Temple with “a whip of cords,” among other actions. White called the separated children’s experiences in the camps as “life-changing”:

“Not just three square meals, psychiatric care, clinician, medical care, chapel, events, schooling, language, and love.”

Newspaper articles refute White’s rosy view of the happy life in these camps. Reports show neglect and sexual and physical abuse in facilities for separated and unaccompanied children that are run by private companies with deficiencies and citations in the hundreds. Southwest Key, which took in almost $1 billion in three years, had 246 violations that include lack of medical attention and “inappropriate contact” between children and staff. In early 2017, when DDT was inaugurated, Southwest Keys facilities had laid off workers and closed some shelters because they were under capacity. Now their 16 Texas shelters receive variances to hold up to 150 percent of their licensed capacity. Juan Sanchez, the company’s CEO and president, makes at least $1.5 million which puts him one of the top five highest-paid nonprofit CEOs in the U.S., despite the company’s 246 violations in three years.

In some places, children have died after the staff restrained them. Only one of the facilities was closed after the deaths which were ruled homicides. Children are also controlled through psychotropic drugs. In a faith-based nonprofit home, a court-ordered guardian reported that “caregivers sometimes have sex with each other while on duty.” Some foster homes have unsupervised firearms lying around. Some cited facilities merely change their names to get more grants. The grim stories continue in “shelters” where federal officials continue to send children after they know about the citations.

The DHS Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has changed its mission: gone are the words “providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship.”

Such are the new “family values” of the Grand Oil Party.

June 30, 2018

DDT: Week 75 – Lies, Hate

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill reducing the cost for handgun licenses, he held up the target sheet that he had riddled with bullets and said, “I’m gonna carry this around in case I see any reporters.” One person followed his advice and killed five journalists at the Capital Gazette this past week because the newspaper published an article about the man after he pled guilty for criminal harassment for stalking a woman online. A White House spokesman said DDT thinks “journalists like all Americans should be free from the fear of being violently attacked” while doing their job. Like a dictator, DDT referred to ”my government” but refuses to answer any questions about the horrific event.

DDT frequently calls journalists “the enemy of the people” and allowed his campaign guards to treat protesters roughly. Pro-DDT audiences at rallies beat up protesters. A year ago, DDT re-tweeted a 2007 video of himself beating up WWE owner Vince McMahon with DDT’s head covered with the CNN logo. After that, he tweeted videos of a train hitting a victim marked with CNN and a man stepping on and splattering an insect marked with CNN. Asked during his campaign about Vladimir Putin’s killing journalists, DDT said, “Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.” Since Putin became president, 28 journalists have been killed. When pressed, DDT reluctantly criticized the killings but gave glowing comments about Putin. DDT also praises Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who openly threatens to kill journalists.

After Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) called for protesters to call out DDT’s separation of migrant children from their parents, she had to cancel events in Alabama and Texas from serious death threats. Calling Waters “an extraordinarily low IQ person,” DDT falsely tweeted that she “called for harm to supporters” and threatened her by writing, “Be careful what you wish for Max!”

DDT supports white supremacists, not even criticizing the man who killed one woman and injured several other people at a white supremacist protest in Charlottesville (VA) last year. DDT was elected by selling hate, and he keeps his base by continuing to sell hate.

The man who killed five people at the newspaper supported two politicians—DDT and Michael Peroutka, and neo-Confederate funder with ties to Michael Hill who wants a paramilitary group to fight the media. Hill said that the targets are “political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.”

Before the killings, Milo Yiannopoulos, a blogger for InfoWars, posted on Instagram:

“I can’t wait for the vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight.”

Instagram, owned by Facebook, answered complaints that the post did not violate its terms. Message boards 4chan and 8chan celebrated the killings and encouraged more, based on a scene from white supremacist The Turner Diaries, long inspiring the public hanging of journalists, “race traitors,” professors, and other cultural figures, including Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

The neo-Nazi website Daily Storm posted a message that “killing journalists is an awesome position to promote.”

DDT’s constant complaints about “fake news” partly come from their corrections of his lies, misrepresentations, and mental confusion. He couldn’t even remember the name of the Supreme Court Justice who retired last week. During a press conference, DDT sputtered:

“I have great respect for … Justice Anthony — you know who I’m talking about — Justice Kennedy.”

DDT’s speech had three facts about Kennedy: Kennedy is a man, he is a SCOTUS justice, and he is retiring.

About the immigration system, DDT knows very little. He wants all people to be stopped at the border, ignoring the law that allows people to come into the country seeking asylum, and not give them due process. Violence and gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have caused hundreds of thousands of children and families to seek refuge in the U.S. since 2014, and the U.S. Constitution grants due-process to every “person” in the U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that this provision covers undocumented immigrants. Turning away asylum applicants without court proceeds violates legal due-process rights. U.S. treaties also require the nation to allow qualified immigrants to seek asylum.

DDT’s claim that someone wants “to hire 5,000 more judges” is also false. The request was for an additional 365 judges, bringing the total to about 700. Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill asks for 750. The judicial branch has almost 1,300 sitting federal judges; immigration judges are in the executive branch.

Most illegal immigration comes from people outstaying their visas. In fiscal 2016, U.S. officials reported 408,870 southwest border apprehensions, 544,676 visa overstays and 65,218 asylum claims. Eighty-five percent of removal orders do not require a hearing before a judge.

DDT also lied about seeing ICE “liberating” towns from MS-13 gangs. The famous liar reached 103 lies last week from a previous weekly record of 60. He also said that Democrats want to eliminate police forces in the U.S.

Trying to save the debacle of his meeting with Kim Jong-Un, DDT is claiming the victory of getting the remains of Korean War veterans returned. Instead of the 200 remains returned, North Korea has sent none—zero. And no one knows when any of them will arrive; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is “optimistic” it would take place “in the not-too-distant future.” DDT claims that the need for the returns are the “thousands” of parents who begged him to bring home their children—parents who would now be at least 100 years old. The White House did not provide any names of these parents or why DDT is lying about the bodies being returned.

North Korea is continuing its work on a nuclear research facility, a fact that DDT has not announced although he did announce an emergency warning about North Korea’s nuclear power. The increased in production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons went on during the negotiations. North Korea is also working to hide its military capabilities from the U.S.

DDT’s fantasies extend to telephone calls. His lies this last week caused a company’s stock to fall:

“The head of U.S. Steel called me the other day, and he said, ‘We’re opening up six major facilities and expanding facilities that have never been expanded.’” [U.S. Steel isn’t denying DDT’s statements, but it isn’t agreeing and hasn’t told its shareholders.]

More of DDT’s imaginary telephone calls include one with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, one from the head of the Boy Scouts, discussions about border-wall construction in California, another call from Jimmy Fallon, and a conversation with the head of a nation of over 300 million people complaining about the country’s 9 percent GDP growth rate. Other than the U.S., only China and India have over 300 million; their growth rates are 6.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively.

During his campaign, DDT lied about a rising crime rate to defeat his opponent, and he’s still using his lies to bash immigrants. The facts show an overall decline in rates of crime, violent crime, and murder in the 30 largest American cities. This information, however, won’t support DDT’s hatred so he won’t be mentioning it.

Thanks to information from Russia, the people in the United States know that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will meet with Vladimir Putin in Finland on July 16. Advance information about DDT’s support of Russia:

“Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election!” [DDT’s tweet translation: DDT states he believes Putin over U.S. intelligence agencies.]

Tariffs continue to be a bone of contention. Angry that Harley-Davidson is making a financial decision to move some operations outside the U.S., a loss of 1,000 U.S. jobs, DDT threatened a “big tax” if they try to sell the motorcycles in the United States. DDT’s trade war has resulted in the European Union’s tariff against Harley-Davidson that increases the price of a motorcycle in those countries by $3,500.

General Motors also announced that the tariffs will cause “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages” for employees and thousands of dollars more for car prices.

The VP of sales for Mid Continent Nail Corporation, producer of half the nails in the U.S., voted for DDT, but now he’s trying to get help from his Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, to save 500 jobs in a Missouri community of 17,000. Eighty percent of the county voted for DDT. George Skarich, vice president of sales for Missouri-based Mid Continent Nail Corporation, said that the company might go out of business soon because the steel imports will raise prices for nails by almost 20 percent. McCaskill came through, addressing the problem with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a Senate Finance Committee hearing. At least 40,000 Missouri workers will be affected by the tariffs.

The conservative Wall Street Journal told its readers that DDT’s tariffs are destroying jobs for the workers he promised to protect. An editorial stated that U.S. workers are the “biggest losers” under Trump’s policies.

The Dow Jones dropped almost 500 points last Monday before DDT’s trade adviser Peter Navarro partially salvaged the financial disaster by claiming that DDT was backing down on investment restrictions. It still plummeted 328 points. Early Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said that DDT would place restrictions on all countries. Despite Navarro’s comments, Huckabee Sanders said that other countries may have restrictions with an eminent announcement of “targets [on] all countries that are trying to steal our technology.” The Dow Jones is at the same level as November 30: the tax cuts did nothing for this part of the economy.

DDT and GOP efforts are responsible for health insurance rates rapidly increasing in the future. Rates would have stayed flat except for the repeal of the individual mandate and lack of restrictions on plans that provide far fewer benefits to subscribers. Information about the difference in rate increases with and without the GOP sabotage here.

A crowdfunding campaign is raising money for “Trump Baby,” a 20-foot orange blimp with a snarled face and cell phone in a tiny hand. They increased the request after doubled the first goal in the first 24 hours. The group wants to fly the blimp over Parliament Square during DDT’s visit to London in July. With no permits thus far, the group is considering alternative plans.

June 11, 2018

Supreme Court Permits Vote Purging, Other Court Actions

Monday in June means the dribbling of decisions from major Supreme Court cases for the year. Today’s ruling in a 5-4 vote legitimizes the purging of registered voters from rolls if they miss elections. Ohio’s law may be unethical (my opinion) but not against federal law (Samuel Alito’s opinion). The National Voting Rights Act prevents the removal of voters because they fail to vote but requires states to keep accurate rolls. The court’s justification for the ruling comes from the lack of response to a postcard followed by four years of not voting. Cases still waiting for announced decisions concern DDT’s travel ban, gerrymandering, internet sales taxes, union fees, mobile phone privacy, and credit card fees.

Policies promulgated by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) are crossing the line into illegal. Despite DOJ AG Jeff Sessions’ claim that all children are removed from parents when immigrants try to cross the southern border, HHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen refused to be specific about this aim in a Senate hearing and avoided the term “deterrence” because she knows that this policy is illegal. A federal judge blocked President Obama in 2015 from locking up Central American immigrant mothers and their children without bond to stop others from crossing the border, and the 1997 Flores settlement bars locking up children in detention centers. To avoid this problem, the DOJ takes children from parents and treats them as if they came by themselves. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit and asked for a nationwide injunction to stop DDT’s family separation policy.

The DOJ lawyer claimed that they weren’t systematically separating mothers, but three days later Sessions announced that the “zero tolerance” police included mothers with their children. The judge ruled that the case against the policy can move forward because it “arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child. Such conduct, if true, as it is assumed to be on the present motion, is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.”

Until the World of Trump, the DOJ defended federal law, no matter the political views of the DOJ and the sitting president. Now AG Jeff Sessions is supporting lawsuits from 20 GOP states to invalidate the provisions in the Affordable Care Act mandating that all people buy insurance and thus removing the requirement that healthcare provide for pre-existing conditions. The 17 Democratic-led states have filed a brief to argue for the retention of the ACA, and three career DOJ attorneys refuse to back DOJ support. Instability will cause higher charges for healthcare premiums in 2019. The DOJ controls the nation’s laws by deciding which ones to defend—legal decisions by caprice.

Doing away with the ACA could be a GOP ecological approach to reducing population and make Republicans an endangered species. Although a majority of die-hard Republicans oppose the ACA, 54 percent of people have a favorable view with strong support by independents. Support for the law grows each time that the GOP tries to repeal it.

Philadelphia will keep its status as a so-called sanctuary city after it won its lawsuit against the federal government. The DOJ had pulled a grant because the city would not allow ICE agents into city prisons, notify them when undocumented immigrants leave prisons, and give them information about their immigration status. The city argued that its police force is not an arm of federal agencies, and the judge wrote that the refusal was based in “reasonable, rational,” and “equitable” logic.

Arizona has agreed to allow voters to register without providing proof of citizenship at the time of registration.

The Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a Phoenix ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, citing the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop. The three-judge panel wrote: “[A]llowing a vendor who provides goods and services for marriages and weddings to refuse similar services for gay persons would result in ‘a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws that ensure equal access to goods, services and public accommodations.’” They added that the law “regulates conduct, not speech.” The baker won his case not to sell one wedding cake to a gay couple but the opinion essentially ruled in favor of LGBTQ rights.

The 9th Circuit Court has just ruled that Maricopa County (AZ) is liable for the racist traffic stop policies of former Joe Arpaio, now a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate. After the federal district court ruling, Arpaio was found in civil contempt of court and criminal contempt for continuing his discriminatory practices after a court order not to enforce federal immigration law on a local level. DDT pardoned him on the civil contempt charges, but the cost to the county is almost $100 million. Maricopa County claimed it wasn’t liable for his actions because he was a policymaker for his own office or the entire state—not the county. The three-judge panel for the 9th Circuit Court disagreed.

DDT’s NFL problem with keeping players from kneeling during the national anthem won’t go away: Colin Kaepernick is suing the NFL for collusion against him because he was blacklisted for leading the NFL players’ protest of police brutality against blacks. Kaepernick’s lawyers plan to request subpoenas for DDT, VP Mike Pence, and White House officials in seeking the DDT administration’s involvement in making players stand during the national anthem. DDT suggested pardoning Ali when he said that he was looking at “thousands of names” of people he can pardon. A lawyer for Ali already turned down DDT, stating that there is no crime for DDT to pardon. Ron Tweel pointed out that the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the conviction in 1971 for Ali’s resisting the draft in June 1967. DDT’s comment was made after he made his appeal to black voters by pardoning Alice Marie Johnson, who has already served 21 years of a life term for nonviolent offenses, a week after he met with Kim Kardashian West. Johnson was convicted on money laundering, one of the charges against Paul Manafort. About DDT pardoning Muhammad Ali, his wife said that “the pardon should go to those who kneel.”

The number of lawsuits surrounding Stormy Daniels has increased after Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti discovered that other women were forced to sign non-disclosure agreements for extramarital affairs with DDT At least one of them was represented by Daniels’ previous lawyer, Keith Davidson. The new lawsuit claims that he “colluded” with DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen to get Daniels on Sean Hannity’s Fox program to falsely deny that she had an affair with DDT. The lawsuit also alleges that DDT was aware of the two lawyers’ coordination but Daniels wasn’t. Another allegation is that Davidson broke client confidentiality by telling Cohen that Daniels was getting a new lawyer and announcing that she had an affair with DDT. Texts show that the two lawyers agreed that Daniels would have no interviews except through Davidson. DDT and Sean Hannity may be called as witnesses.

Davidson retaliated with his own lawsuit against Daniels and Avenatti with a separate one against Cohen for illegally recording phone calls with Davidson. He claimed that he only communicated with Cohen after instructed by his client.

The DOJ seized phone and email records from New York Times reporter Ali Watkins in its investigation into James Wolfe, formerly Senate Intelligence Committee’s director of security, who was indicted for lying to investigators. Watkins said that they had a personal relationship, but he was not a source for her. It is the first case of DDT seizing a reporter’s records, and Wolfe was not charged with passing classified information despite DDT’s inuendos. Leaking unclassified government information is not illegal. DOJ rules require officials to exhaust all of possibilities and negotiate with the reporter before taking legal action to get the records. There was no negotiation, and other actions before taking the records were not made clear. Watkins broke the news about DDT’s associate Carter Page meeting with a Russian spy in 2013.

The UN is demanding an immediate stop to the U.S. removal of children from families at the border because it violates their right and international law. The U.S. refuses to stop the practice and declares all entries as illegal although families requesting asylum, not an illegal entry, are also being separated. The A.C.L.U. has filed a class-action lawsuit, demanding a stop to the separation and reunification of families.

In the UN, the U.S. vetoed an Arab-backed Kuwait measure with ten votes to protect Palestinians from Israelis. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s resolution to condemn Hamas for Israeli violence in Gaza got only the U.S. vote. Israelis have killed 124 Palestinians, including journalists and medics, and wounded over a thousand more along the fence to Gaza where two million poor Palestinians, displaced by Israelis in 1948, live. No Israelis have been killed.

The Treasury Department has threatened governments and private companies if they trade with Iran. Under Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker said:

“Companies doing business in Iran face substantial risks, and those risks are even greater as we reimpose nuclear-related sanctions. We will hold those doing prohibited business in Iran to account.”

This website tracks court cases in which citizens, tribal nations, state and local governments, business owners, and others are standing up for U.S. conservation laws, common-sense energy rules, and ethics and transparency standards at the Department of the Interior.

June 1, 2018

A Week of Lying, Incoherent Tweets

In a speech this week about “the importance of team work, social skills,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said:

“Do I have social skills? I don’t know. I have social media, that’s for sure. I don’t know about skill, but I have a lot of media.”

He added that the education in “patience, and perseverance, hard work, and determination … can’t be replicated on a cell phone [but] have to be learned and lived on the field of practice, with lots of sweat, lots of hard work, and lots of determination.”

DDT’s use of social media was in full bloom this last week of May as he practiced tweeting on his cellphone. He lowered the stock market by announcing massive tariffs on allies, raised it by announcing classified information about job numbers, and kept dropping pieces of the North Korea talks. Other tweets were unhinged, sometimes incoherent.

In a lead-up to Memorial Day, DDT acknowledge the “so-called Russian Meddling” but blamed it on Democrats who lost the election because of Russian actions.

“Why didn’t President Obama do something about the so-called Russian Meddling when he was told about it by the FBI before the Election? Because he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win, and he didn’t want to upset the apple cart! He was in charge, not me, and did nothing.”

Fox inspired an early tweet on Memorial Day:

“We now find out that the Obama Administration put the opposing campaigns presidential candidate, or his campaign, under investigation. That raises legitimate questions.”

DDT’s way to honor fallen soldiers:

“Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!”

A veterans’ group responded:

“Self-promotion on a day to remember the fallen, and wishing those remembering their deceased loved ones a ‘happy’ holiday is appalling.”

Another Memorial Day remembrance:

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.  Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS.”

Facts:

  • Democrats have nothing to do with separating children from their parents.
  • The separation comes from DDT’s policy, not law.
  • DDT moved the treatment of children from his own DHS to his own DOJ.
  • DOJ announced the separation as part of “zero tolerance” on the border.
  • Democrats are not protecting “MS-13 thugs.”
  • Many MS-13 gang members were born in the United States.
  • The wall will not stop chain migration—the system that brought DDT’s in-laws to the U.S.
  • Democrats have nothing to do with separating children from their parents.

During the first two weeks of the DOJ policy, 658 children were separated from their parents, some of them as young as 53 weeks old, one week past the baby’s first birthday. Laura St. John of the Florence Project said she has “seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the US government took their child away.” Lee Gelernt of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project added that they are waiting for a decision to a lawsuit regarding a woman who has waited seven months thus far for ICE to return her seven-year-old daughter.

The government lost 1,475 undocumented children in its custody, almost 20 percent of children who officials tried to find. The U.S. becomes guardians of all the minors in ICE custody, but HHS assigns some children to human traffickers who threaten them with bodily harm if they don’t work at hard labor for long hours each day.

Media ignored the Border Patrol treatment of migrants. Many minors are physically and sexually assaulted, their pressing medical issues sometimes ignored for days. With no requirement that they receive legal help in their hearings, they go into court alone to plead their case, sometimes at ages below five years old. One witness saw a 53-week-old baby alone in court for a hearing about how the U.S. would “dispose” of her.  Treatment will be even worse now that DDT describes these minors as “animals,” subhuman beings.

That’s Memorial Day, 2018.

A week ago, James Clapper objected in strong terms to DDT’s claim that Clapper agreed about “Spygate”:

“He deliberately spun it, distorted it. I mean this is George Orwell — up is down, black is white, peace is war. That’s exactly what I didn’t say. I took aversion to the word spy, it was the most benign version of information gathering. The important thing is the whole reason the FBI was doing this was concern over what the Russians were doing to infiltrate the campaign, not spying on the campaign.”

Media turned from “Spygate,” however, after Rosanne Barr’s racist tweets that led to ABC discontinuing her television program. In a bizarre explanation, Barr blamed Ambien for calling senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett an ape and accusing Holocaust survivor George Soros of being a Nazi collaborator who stole Jewish property and killed other Jews. Her tweet also blamed “memorial day.” Medical experts and the drug maker, Sanofi, stated that racism isn’t a side effect of the medication although it can lower inhibitions. When Barr later begged her boss, Ben Sherwood, she told him that she thought that Jarrett, who she had called an “ape” is white, that “she looks like my family.” ABC is considering renewing the show without Barr.

After ABC cancelled Barr’s show, it suspended the sitcom’s campaign for the Emmys, her talent agency fired her, and Viacom and Hulu are pulling reruns of Roseanne which go back to 1988. Both DDT and his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders used Barr’s firing as an excuse to falsely attack the media after trying to ignore the problem for at least a day.

The act of NFL players’ kneeling during the national anthem hasn’t gone away after owners caved into DDT’s pressure by threatening to fire players if they don’t kneel—although they can stay in the locker room during that time. One tweet refutes DDT’s accusation about players protesting the flag:

“Rosa Parks was not protesting the bus. Gandhi was not protesting the food. The colonists were not protesting tea. Players are not protesting the flag of the anthem. They are protesting injustice.”

More DDT’s tweets from this week:

Why didn’t the crooked highest levels of the FBI or ‘Justice’ contact me to tell me of the phony Russia problem?”  [Documents show he was briefed about the possibility of Russian meddling in his campaign on July 19, 2016.]

“Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!” [During an interview with Lester Holt immediately after the firing, DDT announced to the world that Russia was one of the reasons for the former FBI director’s firing.]

“I wish I did [pick someone other than Jeff Sessions for AG].” [DDT wants an attorney general to protected him from any investigation for wrongdoing.]

Yesterday’s vehement tweet storm came after comedian Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a “feckless c**t” on a segment of her show about Ivanka’s inaction on the current administration’s cruel treatment of undocumented children. Bee apologized, but DDT, who never criticized Roseanne Barr’s racist comments, called for Bee to be fired for the same term he used against at least three women. Bee attacked Ivanka as DDT’s appointed government official, not as his daughter although conservatives have compared the attack to one on Chelsea Clinton.

Sally Fields fanned the flames with her tweet about Bee’s statement, “I like Samantha Bee a lot, but she is flat wrong to call Ivanka a cunt. Cunt’s are powerful, beautiful, nurturing and honest.” The debate continued, with one pundit writing “racism trumps crudeness.” Bee apologized; Barr tried to lie her way out of her racism.

DDT uses a large number of his tweets insulting people and nations, stating policy that he sometimes reverses, threatening action for imagined affronts, and frequently out-and-out lying. If DDT is offended by Bee’s use of the word, he must look to his own comments and the people he supports that are setting the current tone of the country. DDT has protected staff members who abuse their wives, express gratitude because those opposed to his policies are dying, seek help with foreign countries to get himself and other GOP candidates elected, denigrate non-Christians, plot to take rights from everyone except white men, move all assets to the wealthiest, promote conspiracy theories including the birther movement—the list goes on and on. He has fostered the cultural climate in the United States that is now turning on him.

If the tweets below aren’t enough for you, New York Times has “The 459 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter: A Complete List,” and CNN has “All the President’s Tweets” in chronological order.

The greatest tragedy is that conservatives are incensed about Bee’s use of one word while they ignore the thousands of deaths in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria, the children taken from people crossing the border for no other purpose than punishment, and the way that DDT uses the United States as his personal toy. Conservatives search for insults while they ignore their personal behavior as subhuman.

April 12, 2018

The Judicial Branch, Sometimes on the People’s Side

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:42 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

As the executive and legislative branches bring gloomy news into our homes, the judiciary branch sometimes provides for the rights of the people. From the past two weeks:

Lawsuits:

A federal judge upheld the Massachusetts law banning assault weapons because the U.S. Constitution does not cover military guns. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment right for individuals to “bear arms” only for firearms kept in the home for self-defense. Last November the high court refused to hear a challenge to Maryland’s 2013 state ban on assault weapons.

A Montana judge determined that a properly trained advanced practice registered nurse and a certified nurse midwife may provide abortions in the state during the challenge of a state law allowing only physicians and physician assistants to perform abortions. Only the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are covered by the injunction.

A federal court ruled that the EPA violated the Civil Rights Act by delaying investigations into environmental discrimination complaints for decades. The Flint (MI) case became a symbol of environmental racism from the 1990s when a black neighborhood fought a permit for a nearby scrap wood incinerator and were surrounded by armed guards at a hearing about the issue. The hearing was adjourned before community members could testify, and the incinerator spewed tons of lead into the air every year. The complaint was not resolved until the state caused lead from corroding pipes to spread throughout the city. Flint is not unique.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused an Arizona appeal regarding a 9th Circuit Court decision allowing DACA recipients to get driver’s licenses. Arizona is the only state, after Nebraska rescinded its policy, to attempt a law preventing DACA youth from obtaining these licenses.

Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlements of $45 million to at least six women have been unsealed after a New York court decision that ruled them judicial documents subject to public disclosure. The settlement required one accuser to lie under oath if necessary to hide information. The decision is part of an ongoing defamation suit.

A federal judge redrew boundaries in San Juan County (UT) that gave majorities to Navajo Indians in two of three commission districts and three of five school board seat, and Anglos say they feel “disenfranchised.” The county’s population of almost 17,000 has a minority of whites who complain that Navajo commissions won’t show up for meetings or know how to govern the county.

Filings:

China is suing the United States in a World Trade Organization court because of DDT’s proposed tariffs. The claim is discrimination against Chinese goods and violation of Washington’s commitment of tariff limits. If the situation isn’t solved by both parties within 60 days, China can ask for adjudication.

After a judge called Stormy Daniels’ filing to avoid arbitration “premature” because DDT has not filed a petition to compel arbitration, DDT’s lawyers filed the petition. Michael Cohen’s story about paying Daniels out of his own pocket leaves him open to charges such as defamation, professional malfeasance, fraud, and illegal contribution as well as Treasury Department investigation. DDT spent over $27,000 of taxpayer monies for TVEyes to track media the day after Stormy Daniels’ interview on 60 Minutes, “by far” the greatest amount DDT has paid the company and the highest payment by the Executive Office to the company since it began working with TVEyes in 2011.

Karen McDougal is suing the National Enquirer for buying her story about her affair with DDT and then suppressing it. This act led Robert Mueller to investigate the tabloid for protecting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) while publishing negative propaganda about Hillary and Bill Clinton. his act could constitute an illegal campaign contribution. David J. Pecker, chair of the tabloid’s publisher, American Media Inc., is DDT’s close friend who worked with DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen to protect DDT. The search warrant served on Cohen this past week included communications between him, Pecker, and Dylan Howard, the business’s chief content officer. The National Enquirer also suppressed a tip for a former doorman at one of DDT’s New York City buildings. He was given $30,000 for a story about DDT having an illegitimate child to the tabloid with the threat of charging him $1 million if he talked to anyone about the information.

A third woman, a campaign staffer, is suing DDT’s campaign for being forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement because it keeps her from telling about being subjected to a superior’s harassing comments and behavior.

Three weeks ago, the Center for Reproductive Rights received a temporary injunction stopping Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that contravenes a Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016). A new complaint against Mississippi law challenges the ban punishing doctors for providing care after 15 weeks, a restrictive licensing system that singles out clinics providing abortions, the 24-hour mandatory delay and two-trip requirement, physician-only mandate, and the telemedicine ban. Mississippi has only one remaining clinic that provides abortions.

Daily Beast contributor and radio host Dean Obeidallah is suing Andrew Anglin after neo-Nazi The Daily Stormer accused Obeidallah of orchestrating the 2017 Ariana Grande concert bombing. The Daily Stormer may be forced to reveal its financial transactions through its shell company Moonbase Holdings because Anglin is in default by not responding to the first lawsuit.

After Juli Briskman gave a third-finger salute to the presidential motorcade passing her on her bicycle, she was fired because she posted a photograph of her action on her Facebook page. The contractor Akima cited a social media policy barring obscenity but admitted fear of federal retaliation. Briskman wants $2,692 for two weeks of promised severance pay and compensation for legal fees. Akima kept an employee who posted, “You’re a fucking Libtard asshole” in response to discussion of Black Lives Matter. Legal superstar Laurence Tribe explained that the firing undermines freedom of speech and Akima must be held accountable for its unlawful action.

California’s Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has called for more specific rules that require state courts to disclose judges who settled resolutions regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. Documents show that the state’s court system paid over $500,000 in seven years to resolve sexual harassment complaints against judges and staff. California’s legislature already identified the name of lawmakers and staff in 18 cases of sexual harassment.

Elections:

The judicial system is looking up in Wisconsin after Progressive Judge Rebecca Dallet was elected to the state Supreme Court; she defeated Michael Screnock 56.5-43.5 percent for the ten-year term. Dallet’s election moves the state’s high court to a four-to-three conservative majority from the past five-to-two, and six of the seven justices are now women. The Walker-appointed state court judge forced him to hold a special election for empty legislative seats according to law, and the legislature wouldn’t support Walker in reversing the law.

In the executive branch, the DOJ has established a quota system for U.S. immigration judges to speed up their processing cases. The mandate to clear at least 700 cases a year for a “satisfactory” performance rating will be connected to annual performance reviews. The system also penalizes judges who refer more than 15 percent of certain cases to high courts or schedule hearing dates too far apart. Judges must complete 85 percent of removal cases within three days of a merit hearing to be considered “satisfactory.” Immigration judges complete 678 cases in an average year, but some clear far over 1,000, sometimes spending only a minute on a case. Although immigrations judges are supposed to have full independence, they are part of the executive branch, not the judicial branch, because they function as part of U.S. law enforcement.

The new mandates fail to recognize not only the supposed independence of judges but also the conditions of immigration court that deals with small children, people who don’t speak English, and those with extremely limited education. The evidence needed for court cases, such as medical records to prove they fled from persecution, can take time to obtain. Doctors performing an independent mental health evaluation may not get timely clearance into detention centers. With judges’ ratings based on how fast they finish a case, all final rulings will be suspect and therefore liable to appeals.

In an 18-minute episode on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver presented a type of “Immigration Courts for Dummies” as he walked his audience through the absurdities of deportation hearings. Most horrifying is that everyone— including three- and four-year-old children—who cannot afford a lawyer will not have one and thus required to represent themselves. A judge talked about teaching toddlers how to be their own lawyers. Watch the segment if you have the stomach for it.

If speed were of the essence, the government could provide an electronic filing system and more court clerks. Many times three judges are forced to share one clerk. Instead Sessions has eliminated the requirement that asylum seekers may have a full hearing before a judge.

Maybe all judges should be put into the judiciary branch.

 

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