Nel's New Day

November 26, 2018

Conservative Politicians Continue Far-right Activities

Last week, many people vacationed—including Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) vacationed for Thanksgiving, but politicians kept busy.

Sent to the Pacific Rim APEC trade summit last weekend, VP Mike Pence worsened global affairs of 21 nations representing 60 percent of the world’s economy with his refusal to compromise with China. Instead, China continued bonding with North Korea. The conflict was so bad that the group couldn’t even agree on a routine joint statement for the first time in 30 years. DDT frequently asks people if Pence is loyal. The answers have varied from Pence as a committed warrior to ending his usefulness because DDT needs female voters. One of DDT’s concerns might be Pence’s promise of consequences for the Saudis’ killing U.S. journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite DDT’s attempt to cover for the Saudis.

Two days before Thanksgiving, John Kelly, DDT’s chief of staff, signed a “Cabinet order,” a memo allowing U.S. troops, 5,900 active duty members and 2,100 National Guard members, on the Mexico border to use lethal force. DDT had already left town for Mar-a-Lago. This past weekend, ICE agents fired tear gas, a deadly chemical, at mostly Honduran asylum seekers near the Tijuana port of entry.

Hillary Clinton was pilloried for using a secure private server for her emails, but the GOP refused to criticize Ivanka Trump for using her personal email account that she shared with her husband, Jared Kushner, to send hundreds of emails last year to White House aides, Cabinet officials, and her assistants, frequently in violation of federal records rules. When she first joined the White House, she claimed all access and perks of the White House with none of the legal responsibilities or constraints. Maybe investigations by the FBI and Congress? Or cries of “Lock her up” and “Crooked Ivanka”?

Lame duck House Republicans subpoenaed former FBI director James Comey and former DOJ AG Loretta Lynch to appear in private hearings this week. Comey said he is willing to appear in an open hearing but not a closed one:

“While the authority for Congressional subpoenas is broad, it does not cover the right to misuse closed hearings as a political stunt to promote political as opposed to legislative agendas.”

DDT’s appointment of lap dog Matthew Whitaker as acting DOJ AG may fail to give him protection. According to an argument in court from the Robert Mueller investigation team:

“The validity of the Special Counsel’s appointment [in May 2017] cannot be retroactively affected by a change in the official who is serving as the Acting Attorney General.”

Two rulings, one by a DDT-appointed judge, have already upheld the constitutionality of Mueller’s appointment. Three Senate Democrats are also suing to have Whitaker removed on constitutional and legal grounds.

The U.S. Supreme Court is taking a case about whether Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross’ decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, an odd move because the case is already being heard in a New York court with closing arguments next week. The Constitution requires an accurate count of the population every ten years, something that will be lost if the estimated 24+ million people avoid the census because of fear. The census is used not only for congressional districting but allocation of federal funds, disaster and epidemic preparedness, and other government support. Ross has skipped the lengthy approval process about new survey questions and lied when he said that the DOJ had requested the addition of a citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The Department of Commerce has only six months to submit the information to printers.

More people may not participate in the census after DDT’s proposal that census information be shared with law enforcement, an illegal action under the Census Act of 1879. In 1954, Congress passed a law stating that the Commerce Department cannot share its census data with any other government agency or court with up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for violation. Only Congress can change this law. When Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) asked acting assistant attorney general John Gore about data being disclosed “for law enforcement or national security purposes,” DOJ attorney Ben Aguinaga answered, “I don’t think we want to say too much there in case the issues . . . or related issues come up later for renewed debate.” In other words, maybe.

DDT may not get the trade agreement similar to and replacing NAFTA that he proudly announced weeks ago. Republican lawmakers are furious about the nondiscrimination protections of sexual orientation and gender identity included by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Several GOP members of Congress object to the new trade agreement because of this one provision, but it must be passed by the end of the year to avoid the Democratic majority in the House on the first of January. Congress has just 12 days to not only pass the agreement but also agree on the farm bill and keep the government from shutting down on December 7 with DDT threatening to allow this to happen if he doesn’t get his wall.

Farmers hurt by DDT’s tariffs are promised $12 billion say they don’t want to be on the dole, but they’re not even getting the promised welfare. Only $838 million of authorized $6 billion has been paid out because farmers cannot apply until harvests are completed for the season, harvests delayed by bad weather. Soybean sales shrank by 94 percent from last year, and the subsidy covers less than half the farmers’ losses. China pork tariffs that responded to DDT’s steel and aluminum tariffs cost farmers $2 billion. Partners with farmers also get government money; Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) might get $125,000, the subsidy cap. Farmers may permanently lose their foreign countries for crops, and DDT’s tariffs may force the U.S. to keep borrowing money from China to pay for farmers.

For the second year in a row, DDT is skipping the Kennedy Center Honors, again because he doesn’t feel comfortable.

While people in the U.S. complain about Russia interfering with elections, DDT campaign worker and sycophant Steve Bannon played a role in the UK passing Brexit, supporting the nation’s separation from the European Union. Emails dating back to October 2015 reveal that Bannon, former VP of Cambridge Analytic, participated in the campaign to persuade UK voters in supporting the separation from EU. Like the U.S. the UK has laws to stop foreign companies from manipulating UK affairs.

Mississippi votes for a U.S. senator in a runoff tomorrow; the GOP candidate, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, announced last Tuesday that it was on November 22, the day of her announcement, but that was Thanksgiving. After her lauding public hangings, a number of large companies—including Aetna, AT&T, Boston Scientific, Leidos, Pfizer, Union Pacific, and Walmart—asked her to return their donations. DDT, who failed to attending lacked the time to go to Arlington National Cemetery close to the White House or visit military members on Veterans Day, extended his Thanksgiving vacation to give two campaign rallies in Mississippi today for the GOP Senate candidate.

Since the midterm elections when the Senate election to replace Jeff Sessions, who resigned to become AG before he was fired, several revelations have caused concern for Republicans about Hyde-Smith’s success. After she talked favorably about public hangings (aka lynchings), she suggested that black students should not be able to vote. Photos of her posing with Confederate artifacts at the “Shrine of [treasonous] Jefferson Davis” and the caption “Mississippi history at its best!” were accompanied by information that she promoted a measure praising a Confederate soldier’s effort to “defend his homeland” and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War. She not only attended a private high school to avoid integrated schools but also enrolled her daughter in a “segregation academy.” The daughter graduated in 2017.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), considering a run for president, gave an interview to the New York Times about the reading habits of himself and his family. An analysis of his 33 book recommendations show all were written by white authors. Sasse’s three children, ages 17, 15, and 8, are homeschooled, probably reading no books of people by color.

The Ohio state House argued that “Motherhood is necessary” to ban abortions at six weeks, before a pregnancy appears on an ultrasound which is not medically recommended. The law is unconstitutional unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Even if the bill passes the state Senate, it cannot become law without Gov. John Kasich’s signature because Gov.-elect Mike DeVine cannot sign a bill passed by the legislature before he takes office.

On the more positive side, Maine will have Medicaid expansion after the departure of rabidly right-wing Gov. Paul LePage. He had refused to follow orders from the state Supreme Court to obey a vote by the people.

A U.S. district court judge ordered ICE to release over 100 Iraqis from detention centers and jails in Michigan after they had been there for more than a year. They are to be released within 30 days under “orders of supervision” and allowed to return to their homes. The majority of the detainees had been living in the U.S. for decades. Although they committed criminal offenses, they had served their time and been living “peaceably in their respective communities” since then, according to the ruling. The opinion also cites ICE’s refusal to provide documents to detainees’ attorneys, and the judge wrote that he will be issuing sanctions against ICE. Detainees had not been permitted in-person visits from family and friends, and the majority would be persecuted and even murdered if they were forced to return to Iraq because they are Christians.

November 15, 2012

GOP: Party in Search of a Reason

Since Mitt Romney lost the election, the Republicans are either angry or despondent. Romney told his top donors that President Obama won by providing “extraordinary financial gifts” to a targeted audience—like minorities, women, and the poor. I’m guessing that once again he didn’t know he was being recorded. Despondent and angry might fit the Florida man who killed himself because Romney lost—although there might be other descriptive words.

Another excuse emerged in Wisconsin to explain why Romney lost, at least in that state. State Sen. Alberta Darling, Romney’s state campaign co-chair, is absolutely convinced that Romney would have won in Wisconsin if the state had mandatory photo ID for voting. Romney lost by 200,000 votes, meaning that she assumes there are that many cases of voter fraud. Eight years ago, a study found of the approximately 3 million votes cast in Wisconsin, “only seven were declared invalid—all of which were cast by felons who had finished their sentences and didn’t realize they were still barred from voting. As a result, Wisconsin’s overall fraud rate came in at a whopping 0.00023 percent.”

There must be something in the Wisconsin water. Re-elected state Sen. Glenn Grothman is convinced that President Obama and Tammy Baldwin probably won their elections due to fraud and that eventually he’s “going to have to lay down the gauntlet” on the people who enforce Obamacare. He plans to “talk to some more people,” explaining that “some people are of the opinion that Democrats cheat.” He and Sen. Darling will have lots to talk about when the Wisconsin legislature goes back into session.

Another way that Republicans identify voter fraud is by skin color. Charlie Webster, the head of the Maine GOP, is positive that his state experienced voter fraud because blacks voted on Election Day. “Nobody in town knows anyone who’s black,” Webster said. Actually he does know “black people,” including “a black guy” he plays basketball with every Sunday. Webster wouldn’t tell the media which towns and the number of “black” voters. Megan Sanborn, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Charlie Summers, said that his office had not heard any complaints about voter fraud on November 6 and there was no noticeable increase in Maine’s African-American voting turnout.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted is still trying to figure out how to not count legitimate ballots. It’s getting harder after federal Judge Algenon Marbley ordered him to keep certain provisional ballots and issue a new directive regarding these ballots. The judge further ruled that Husted’s directive just before Election Day violated a previous court ruling and state law. Currently Husted is waiting for direction from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. If its ruling agrees with the lower court, Husted has until the end of November to figure out how to count all the ballots.  Ohio still has about 300,000 uncounted ballots, about the same number as in Arizona.

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/11/14/1187341/mccain-hypocrisy-susan-rice/  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is so convinced that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is “not qualified” to be Secretary of State that he said, “I will do everything in my power to block her from becoming Secretary of State.” McCain might have more credibility if he hadn’t chosen Sarah Palin for the position “a heartbeat away from the presidency.” And also if he hadn’t voted for Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State after she was so mistaken about the “weapons of mass destruction.”

McCain also took after a CNN reporter who asked why McCain was having a press conference about needing more discussion about Benghazi at exactly the same time that he failed to attend a classified briefing on Benghazi provided by the Senate Homeland Security committee. McCain is a ranking member of that committee.  Pressed after he said that he had no comment, McCain raised the agitation a notch: “I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?” McCain then accused the reporter, Ted Barrett, of “badgering” him. McCain is almost alone in his virulence against Rice, supported only by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

Republican business leaders are still threatening their customers and employees. Obamacare hasn’t gone into effect yet for employers, but John Metz, who owns the Hurricane Grill & Wings chain and is a franchisee of dozens of Denny’s and Dairy Queen restaurants, said he will reduce employees’ hours and pass a 5 percent surcharge onto his customers because Obama was re-elected. He also plans to reduce his employees’ hours.

Meanwhile, David Siegel, the CEO of Westgate Resorts who threatened to fire some of his 7,000 employees if President Obama were re-elected, has given all of them 5-percent raises. He had reason to: last year was the most profitable year in the company’s 42-year history, according to Siegel.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter declared that Obamacare would break them unless they raised prices for pizza. First, the cost increase is less than $.04 per pizza, and second, Papa John’s competition is delighted. But Papa John has even more problems now. A U.S. lawsuit filed in Seattle claims that the company violated state and federal law when they had the marketing company OnTime4U send 500,000 unsolicited—and illegal–text messages to Papa John’s customers across the U.S. Damages could be more than $250 million. The lawsuit caused stock to fall severely before adjusting at $.34 lower.

 

The question keeps arising, how unethical are Republicans? (When you finish laughing, you can read on.) Today the media broke the story that Karl Rove’s pet super-PAC, the same one that got a 1.39 percent return for its hundreds of millions of dollars in expenditures, never legally filed any paperwork to be a super-PAC. According to Josh Israel,

“When Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (GPS) formed in 2010, it established its official address in Warrenton (VA) and registered with the Internal Revenue Service a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization.” It apparently did not, however, register as a charitable organization with the Commonwealth of Virginia, as appears was legally required. According to state code, non-profit groups that intend to solicit contributions must first register with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs. Groups must pay an annual fee ($325 for groups raising over $1 million annually), provide basic information about their operations….”

The organization registered with Virginia’s corporation commission but never registered to solicit contributions in the state. Crossroads’ tax identification was never registered with the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs, vital to keep its contributors secret the way that the organization did. A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services stated that they will be notifying Crossroads GPS of the law. If Rove’s group ignores this order, she noted that state law told “provides for both civil and criminal penalties” if the group can be shown to have made such solicitations. I’m not holding my breath that any action will be taken against Crossroads and Rove.

Once upon a time there was a Republican U.S. representative from the South who was completely anti-abortion. Then people found out that he not only had a mistress while he was married but also tried to convince the mistress that she should have an abortion to save the man’s marriage. People in the South tend to vote for Republicans even when they don’t follow all the rules that they make for other people, so the representative was re-elected.

Now there’s another chapter in the life of Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), luckily for him after the election. His recently-released divorce proceedings show that he and his former wife made a “mutual” decision for her to have two abortions. In court, DesJarlais testified that his ex-wife’s first abortion was because she was taking an experimental drug, and the second was because they were having marital problems. On his campaign website, DesJarlais wrote, “All life should be cherished and protected. We are pro-life.”

Oh, and the mistress? She was a patient of Dr. DesJarlais. And she wasn’t the only patient who he had an affair with. There is proof that he wrote prescriptions for pain killers for at least one of the women, and other women with whom he had affairs claim that he did the same for them. That was while he was chief of staff at a local hospital. Both the affairs with patients and the prescriptions are in violation of the state ethics law.

Normally, I say that people’s sex lives are their own business, but this is a man who votes against women’s rights and marriage equality because he claims to be anti-abortion and pro-family. Those votes make his private life my business—and the business of everyone else in the country. And now he’s one of the House Republican majority for the next two years.

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