Nel's New Day

September 17, 2018

Court Rulings Mostly Right Wrongs

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

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

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

Yet not all bodes well for Republicans in court decisions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 1, 2016

Check Out Margaret & Helen!

If you follow just one blog, you might want to consider “Margaret and Helen,” subtitled “Best Friends for 60 Years and Counting.” Helen Philpot learned to blog so that she could blog with her best friend, Margaret Schmechtman. Philpot lives in Texas, and Schmechtman lives in Texas. Their last names have been changed because, as Helen wrote, “We got a few scary emails when I first wrote about Sarah Palin.”

Today’s post, as always, tells it like it is: “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and hates immigrants, gays and people of color then what you have is a Republican duck.”

Thank you, Helen! You rock!

Margaret, once again I find myself stating the obvious – of course the KKK is a part of the Republican base.  Are Republicans really trying to suddenly be outraged by that?  When you hate immigrants, hate gays, question the patriotism of the first black President, use war to solve all your problems… Well hell, Margaret, I could have just used those exact same words to actually describe the KKK rather than the current Republican party.

The entire Republican leadership is culpable for the rise of Trump.  For years they have suppressed minority voters, denied rights to gays, and vilified immigrants.  How in the hell can the party of Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer, Sarah Palin, Paul LePage, Mike Huckabee, Jason Rapert, Jon Hubbard, Loy Mauch, Bob McDonnell, Haley Barbour, Jeff Sessions,  Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, George Allen, … suddenly be offended by Donald Trump?  Hell, the list of racist, homophobic, immigrant-hating Republican politicians is so long, I haven’t even scratched the surface.  And who do you think voted them into office?

The numbers speak for themselves.

The KKK thinks Obama is a Muslim.

Almost half of the Republican Party thinks Obama is a Muslim.

The KKK is anti-immigration.

A majority of Republicans support a ban on all Muslim immigration and over half support an increase in the deportation of Mexican immigrants.

The KKK promotes hate crimes against homosexuals and is adamantly opposed to same sex marriage.

Almost 2/3 of Republicans do not agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same sex marriage.

The KKK believes African Americans are second class citizens.

Republican controlled state houses have systemically passed laws to suppress the African American vote.

The KKK, small as it is, seems to do best in the Deep South where Republicans do best.  Coincidence?  Oh honey, bless your heart.  I have lived most of my life next door to women who cook and think like Paula Deen.

The Republican leadership can wish all it wants that Donald Trump isn’t their front runner, but in reality they can put wishes in their right hand and shit in their left hand and I promise you that the left one will always  fill up first. If they thought Donald Trump was electable the GOP would be blaming CNN for a faulty earpiece.

In truth, for the first time in my life I have enjoyed watching a few minutes of Fox News.  Those folks are so bent out of shape over this they could kiss their own behind while enjoying the sunshine on their face.  If Bill O’Reilly and company were to be totally honest, they aren’t quite sure what to do right now considering the KKK is probably a ratings point or two for the network.

I have no problem saying what the journalists seem unwilling to say. Until GOP voters demand that the party change its platform, to be a Republican today means you have more in common with the KKK than you probably care to admit.

Donald Trump was endorsed by a legitimate portion of the Republican base and the party leaders are upset that their little secret got out. I mean it.  Really.

Thanks, Margaret and Helen! And I’ll add the kerfuffle about Trump’s taxes. Furious with his refusal to release the information, Rubio and Cruz bragged about releasing their own—but only their summaries for the past few years, not the tax returns, were made public. As the Washington Post stated, “Without the full returns, key details about Cruz’s and Rubio’s family financial dealings – such as precise sources of income, deductions and amounts donated to charity – were not revealed.” Tax lawyer Martin Schenkman said, “The gross numbers without the schedules don’t tell you anything.” Cruz said he was just doing what Rubio did and didn’t plan to release any more tax information at this time.

As Trump and Cruz continue their battle after Super Tuesday’s wins today—and Rubio trying to moving into the big guys’ arena–there will be far more hypocrisy in the GOP.

 

July 13, 2012

Romney Getting in Deeper Trouble

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , , ,

Typically presidential campaigns show Democrats beating up on Republicans and vice versa. This year’s campaign has a new twist: Republicans are beating up on the Republican nominee. The latest kerfuffle comes from Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than one year of tax returns. His own party leaders think that he’s wrong in not being more transparent about his financial background.

“If there’s nothing there, there’s no ‘there’ there, don’t create a ‘there.’ Put out as much information as you can. Even if you don’t release 12 years worth of tax returns, at least three, four, five.”—former RNC Chairman Michael Steele

“I think he [Romney] should release his financial records and I think if he does it in July it would be a lot better than in October …. Whenever you are asking for the vote of the American people that you need to fully disclose what your holdings are, if you have any.”—Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) who thinks that Romney should release the last six to seven years of his records.

“His personal finances, the way he does things, his record, are fair game.”—Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the House Republican re-election effort

“Mitt Romney had an opportunity to answer these questions during the primary. He did not answer these questions and now they’re coming up again.”—Republican strategist Rick Tyler

“I saw Andrea Saul’s robotic response [to the question of when he left Bain Capital], which was the same as it’s always been,” Tyler said, referring to Romney’s press secretary. “That doesn’t comport with documents that have his name on it after 1999 that list him as CEO who was making money off of transactions. If he wasn’t making money from Bain, then his tax returns from the period in question would reveal that. Only [Romney] can provide that information, or we’ll just have drip, drip, drip to November.”

“I feel like we are watching a rerun of an episode from the Republican primary with the return of the releasing of taxes issue. It turned into a big deal during the primary, and pretty much got diffused when he released the one-year of returns. I wish he’d hurry up and release more tax returns so this distraction would go away.”—Republican strategist Ana Navarro

“It is important for Mitt to release his tax returns. The fact is we can’t fire our nominee in September.”—Texas Gov. Rick Perry in a January 2012 debate

“Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot and actually think about the race he’s running?”–Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard

“Mr. Romney promised Republicans he was the best man to make the case against President Obama, whom they desperately want to defeat. So far Mr. Romney is letting them down.”—Wall Street Journal

One leading conservative still approves of Romney. Although the Romney campaign tried to keep the Wyoming fundraiser by George W. Bush’s former VP Dick Cheney very quiet, Cheney did endorse Romney with this statement: “Romney’s malleability is an advantage for his neocon advisers, giving them an opportunity to shape his worldview, as they did with Bush after 9/11. Four years after Bush left office in disgrace, Romney is their best shot to get back in power.”

Cheney’s statement can best be translated as follows: “Romney is so wishy-washy that he’ll do anything people tell him to do. Because 70 percent of Romney’s advisors worked for Bush, we can hope for a return to the Bush/Cheney years.” I wonder what W. thinks of being called “malleable.”

Romney has excellent reasons for not releasing any more tax returns. In the only one that he has allowed to be public, the return for 2010, he showed a blind trust held by his wife, Ann, with a $3 million Swiss bank account that was not reported on previous financial disclosure statements. Also shown was his complex offshore tax shelter, known as a blocker corporation, to shield the investments in his $100 million IRA from paying an obscure business tax. The country loses $1 billion per decade from the use of this decade.

In addition, at least 20 investments had not been previously listed on disclosure reports although there was not enough information to determine their size or holdings. Neither the tax return nor other disclosures have revealed the full amounts of the Romneys’ other offshore holdings over the years, including investments in Germany, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, Australia, and Ireland. Romney transferred a Bermuda account to his wife’s blind trust the day before he was inaugurated as governor of Massachusetts in 2003 but was not properly disclosed to voters.

Last month, Romney’s trust reported receiving a $2 million payment from Bain as part of unpaid earnings from his work there. Of the 138 Bain funds organized in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Romney has interests in 12, worth up to $30 million. Firms like Bain park money in the Caymans because the islands have no taxes on capital gains, profits or income for foreigners. Legal, yes; ethical, no.

The question that might be answered through the release of more tax returns would be how much money Romney is hiding. We know that he has a $102 million IRA, a difficult task when he put $32,000 in it for each of 15 years. That’s the kind of compound interest we would all like to have. When questioned recently about his Cayman Island assets, he said that this was only 0.5 percent of his money. If that’s true, then Romney has $6 trillion somewhere.

The “Bain issue” comes from the question of  when he left Bain Capital. Romney says that he was gone in 1999, but Romney and Bain filed government documents stating that Romney stayed as chief executive and chairman of the firm until 2002. Romney even created five new investment partnerships during the three years after the time that he said he was no longer in charge of the company.

Public  Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital specifically identified Romney as the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” in 2002. A Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002, and Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

Fact checkers for the questionable three years have lost all credibility in identifying the veracity of statements. Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler, maintains that there is no proof that Romney a Bain executive during that time. Kessler explains that the terms “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president” are simply “boilerplate” that doesn’t have anything to do with managing a company. Possibly Kessler has been offered a position with Romney.

Romney desperately wants people to believe that he left Bain in 1999 because of the company’s activities in the next three years. One of those was the company’s investment in a company called Stericycle whose services included the disposal of aborted fetuses. Another of Bain’s activities during that time  was sending jobs to China through a contract with a Chinese firm. Three weeks ago Romney’s campaign said that people just didn’t understand the difference between outsourcing and offshoring; this week they said they didn’t do it at all.

The Romney campaign has tried to shift the media’s attention to the story that Romney may choose Condoleezza Rice for his VP, an impossibility on many levels. First, Romney doesn’t deal well with women. Second, Rice is pro-choice, something that Romney has to avoid for the approval of conservatives. Third, she was in the middle of the Bush wars, again not good for Romney’s campaign. Fourth, she said in June and again more recently that she would not consider being Romney’s vice president. (Hint to Romney: Rick Santorum says he’s willing!)

Today Romney demanded an apology from President Barack Obama because his campaign said that Romney may have committed a felony by misrepresenting his position at Bainl. Before Romney’s statements, President Obama said, “My understanding is that Mr. Romney attested to the SEC, multiple times, that he was the chairman, CEO and president of Bain Capital. I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, CEO and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does. Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations.”

“Behind every great fortune there is a great crime.” –A maxim from Honore de Balzac

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