Nel's New Day

February 23, 2019

Hope from Elections, Courts

In a desperate move last fall after Democratic governors and state legislators were elected, several GOP-dominated state legislative bodies passed laws that would hamstring the elective preferences of the people. The Wake County Superior Court has determined that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly cannot put constitutional amendments on the ballot because it lacked the full will of the state’s people. The court voided two of these amendments related to a photo voter ID requirement and lowering of the state income tax cap. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that many of North Carolina’s legislative districts were illegally drawn on racial lines and required that 117 districts be redrawn by the 2018 election. Legislators from the illegally-drawn lines passed the two amendments that tend “to favor white households” and would “reinforc[e] the accumulation of wealth for white taxpayers,” according to a lawsuit.

North Carolina is also the only state without a seated representative in the U.S. House from the 2018 election. This past week, the state election board unanimously required a new election for the seat that Baptist pastor Mark Harris claimed to have won by 905 votes after he stepped down. The election board had investigated Harris and his employee who had been accused with “stuffing the ballot box” by requesting, collecting, and completing absentee ballots in favor of Republicans. A closer look at Harris’ actions shows more anomalies. One was Harris’ testimony that he paid the employee through a PAC, a violation of election laws, and then tried to retract that statement several times later in the day. North Carolina has never addressed the type of voter fraud that Harris exhibited, concentrating instead of non-existent “in-person” voter fraud in the GOP attempts to restrict Democratic voting.

Wake County DA Lorrin Freeman is bringing investigation findings of the 9th District election fraud in both 2016 and 2018 to a grand jury next month. She took the case from Marion Warren, the director of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, after it was discovered that Warren had introduced Mark Harris to his employee, who is now under scrutiny. Warren has announced a new job at Regent University School of Law in Virginia next month.

David Whitley, Texas’ acting Secretary of State, needs to have two-thirds of a vote for confirmation. His problem is that he inaccurately stated that 95,000 possible noncitizens registered to vote in the state before checking his facts—that tens of thousands of them are citizens. He did apologize for his “mistake,” but 12 Democrats are refusing to vote for him in committee, which would sink his nomination requiring a two-thirds state Senate vote for success. Whitley still hasn’t retracted the list although one of his deputies said the office knew that flagged voters included names of naturalized citizens. The office used outdated driver’s license data to determine citizenships so there is no accurate count of voter fraud. The state is now facing three federal lawsuits over Whitley’s actions, at least one of them about voter disenfranchisement for the March 2, 2019 election. Verifying Whitley’s misinformation is a nightmare, especially for large counties, because Texas law mandates voter registration on paper only. Verifying naturalization also causes problems because data on ceremonies is limited to counties.

The U.S. Supreme Court made an amazing decision this past week—and did it unanimously. All nine justices ruled that states cannot ignore the Constitution when imposing fines or confiscating people’s property in civil or criminal cases. Although to many of us, the ruling sounds like common sense, but states have been confiscating money and property for centuries, but the profits made by governments accelerated with a 1978 federal law. Although the law may seem reasonable on its surface, law enforcement officials have been taking money from people even if they aren’t charged with any crime and then keeping it. By 2018, the DOJ had about $1.5 billion in its forfeiture fund. Reporters have found several cases when people were pulled over with no justification and had their money taken with no proof of a crime. After the police took $11,000, a college student’s life savings, he had to fight in court to get his money returned.

The high court heard Timbs v. Indiana, a case in which police kept a $42,000 Land Rover purchased with legal funds after Tyson Timbs was charged in selling two grams of heroin to an undercover officer. The maximum fine for the infraction was $10,000—four times less than the value of his vehicle that he lost. Indiana is one of four states that claims that the Constitution didn’t cover state law. The justices found that keeping the Land Rover violated the Eighth Amendment’s “excessive fines clause” that applies to state and local courts as well as federal ones.

In a win for Montana, after the Supreme Court wiped out its campaign finance law in American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock (2012), the high court let stand the state’s Disclose Act requiring the disclosure of donors to groups spending money or mentioning a candidate with 60 days of a state-level elections. A lower court had ruled the law constitutional, and the Supreme Court declined to take the case. Montana is the third state after New York and California to have disclosure laws for dark money.

A federal judge in Seattle told the Defense Department that it may not require soldiers who are naturalized citizens to undergo “continuous monitoring,” security checks every two years if the military doesn’t scrutinize U.S.-born soldiers in the same way. The 17 plaintiffs are among the 10,000 who enlisted in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program that recruits immigrants with critical foreign language or medical skills in exchange for a fast track to citizenship. In mid-2018, the Pentagon began discharging MAVNI participants but reversed the policy a month later.

The research into which whities wore blackface in the past went deep after a photo allegedly with Virginia Ralph Northam (D) initiated the media examination during Black History Month. Most of the photos lacked captions, but 78 USA Today reporters, assigned to the search, found one in the 1989 Arizona State University’s yearbook. Their current editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll was editor of that yearbook and designer of the page with the blackface photo. She has apologized.

Oregon is considering a bill that would drop the voting age from 18 to 16. If the legislature passes the measure, it would be on the 2020 ballot for a vote by the people. My first thought was that 16-year-olds are too young to vote—until I read this article about a 12-year-old journalist. This past week, Hilde Kate Lysiak visited Patagonia (AZ) on the trail of a stories including resident’s opinions about the Border Patrol and the proposed border wall when Joseph Patterson, who passes for the small town’s police chief, stopped her and asked for ID. She gave him her telephone number and address before she told him that she was a member of the press. Patterson said, “I don’t want to hear about any of that freedom-of-the-press stuff.” He also threatened to have her arrested and thrown into juvey. [Photo by James Moorehead]

Lysiak decided to tape him when she asked him what she was doing that was illegal. Patterson sat in his white Chevy Silverado truck and said, “You taping me? You can tape me, okay, but what I’m going to tell you is if you put my face on the Internet, it’s against the law in Arizona.”

The conversation continued as he accused her of lying to him and disobeying his commands. He finally told her, “I’ll be getting a hold of your parents” before he drove off. When Lysiak posted the video to her blog later, she explained that the first Amendment protects recording a law enforcement official in a public place that no law prevents her actions. She also posted her story about the wall.

Lysiak reported on a murder in her hometown when she was nine and has reported on bank robberies, alleged rapes, and other crimes in her Orange Street News, which she helped found almost five years ago and publishes from her parents’ home in Selinsgrove (PA).

Patagonia has taken action against Patterson but won’t say what that is. This is not the first time that Patterson has threatened people with arrest after they started to video him, but it’s the first time that he went after a 12-year-old—and the first time that he had to back down. Lysiak’s taping of Patterson’s threats has received almost 250,000 views and almost 1,000 comments.

I’d pick 12-year-old Hilde Lysiak as an educated voter over Joseph Patterson any time.

February 22, 2019

DDT: Week 109 – Disregard from Allies, Corruption

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has lost—again. In VP Mike Pence’s attempt to turn Europeans against the 2015 Iran anti-nuclear deal at the 55th annual Munich Security Conference, he faced stony silence, starting when he said he brought greetings from DDT. Joe Biden received cheers for his speech. The French foreign minister asked why DDT can be so firm about opposing Iran while pulling troops out of Syria that helps Iran.

Like U.S. intelligence agencies, European nations have found no indication of Iran building nuclear weapons. Last month, Europe created a plan to purchase Iranian energy, stopping damage from U.S. sanctions, while not suffering U.S. financial reprimands. Even anti-Iran countries in the Middle East couldn’t agree at the meeting because of the Saudi-operated boycott of Qatar. With war-hungry national security adviser John Bolton, DDT wants a war with Iran, but his only follower may be Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for “war with Iran.” The blasts against DDT came at the heels of a failure in a U.S.-led meeting about Iran in Warsaw where European nations sent only low-level delegations, if anyone.

No longer is Roe v. Wade being chipped away; it’s being chopped away with a hatchet. DDT’s newest rule takes Title X funds from family planning clinics that provide abortions, refer patients for abortions, or promote or support abortion for family planning. Funds will be directed to religious places, such as phony Crisis Pregnancy Centers, for women seeking reproductive health care—care which many CPCs promise but don’t provide. Title X covers reproductive health care for 4 million women every year at a cost of $286 million.

Former FBI deputy Andrew McCabe is providing the public with news about his conversations with DDT. A major revelation is that DDT believes that North Korea’s missiles can’t reach the U.S., despite intelligence to the contrary, because “[Vladimir] Putin had told him that the North Koreans don’t actually have those missiles.” On the day before its release, McCabe’s The Threat was #1 on the bestseller list.

Earlier this week, North Carolinian Baptist pastor Mark Harris, who paid a contractor to request and pick up absentee ballots that were either marked Republican or destroyed if for Democrats, said he knew nothing about what his employee was doing in an attempt to get seated in the U.S. House. Harris’ son said that he had told him about what was happening, but Harris said he ignored his son, a federal prosecutor, because he was only 27 years old at the time. The father described his son as a “very judgmental” person who “has a taste of arrogance.” A quantity of incriminating emails between Harris and his employee of them show that he lied about his ignorance. That issue seems to be the tipping point: Harris has asked for a new election. Harris excused himself by saying that he is recovering from an infection that led to sepsis and two strokes and therefore cannot deal with the “rigors” of the state election board hearing. The “rigors” of the election will start all over, beginning with a primary.

Most of DDT’s former Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, including VP Mike Pence, stayed silent about this fraud after their attempts to suppress poor and minority voters. The only GOP response came from election lawyer J. Christian Adams who scolded fellow commission member Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlop for a WaPo op-ed, “Why Doesn’t the ‘Voter Fraud’ Crowd Care about What Happened in North Carolina?” In a tweet, Adams called Dunlop a “charlatan.”

DDT deflected questions about the North Carolina  fraud by mentioning California and Texas. Told that these accusations had been disproved, he moved on. At the same time, DDT has been highly vocal about the revelation that Jussie Smollett allegedly paid two brothers $3,500 to fake a racist attack on him. Also missing from DDT’s prolific tweets is commentary on the arrest of a Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher P. Hasson, for a domestic terrorist plot to kill prominent Democrats, CNN and MSNBC journalists, and “almost every last person on earth.” The self-identified white nationalist (aka supremacist), obsessed with neo-fascist and neo-Nazi views, has stockpiled weapons and ammunition since 2017 to sow destruction and chaos. He also planned biological attacks targeting the food supply. Hasson got many of his ideas from books by Harold A. Covington, whose books, along with other white supremacist polemics, are  available on Amazon. Covington, who popularized the concept of a white ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest, died in 2017.

Federal authorities concealed the arrest for five days until a private citizen discovered information in a documents search about extremism. Another Coast Guard member was reprimanded and removed from the response to Hurricane Florence after the public complained that he flashed a white-supremacy sign last September during a televised interview with another officer.

The current cultural and political climate will most likely result in punitive measures for Smollett, concerns about the mental state of Hasson, and exoneration for Harris.

One DDT game is which Cabinet secretary is the next to go. Maybe Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta? Eleven years ago, Acosta, then U.S. Attorney for southern Florida, was sued for giving Jeffrey Epstein federal immunity on child molestation and trafficking charges, blocking an FBI probe into Epstein who may have trafficking young girls in Florida but also from other states and Europe. For his leadership in abusing scores of underage girls, Acosta received only 13 months of prison time, most of it on work release and the rest in a special suite separate from other prisoners. Epstein’s lawyers, including Ken Starr who led Bill Clinton’s impeachment for lying, were largely allowed to set the terms of their client’s plea deal. Acosta had this evidence but complained that he would have trouble convicting Epstein.

The Miami Herald has been working on the story for months and reported yesterday a judicial ruling that Acosta and federal prosecutors “broke the law when they concealed a plea agreement from more than 30 underage victims who had been sexually abused by wealthy New York hedge fund manager Jeffrey.” The judge wrote that prosecutors not only violated the Crime Victims Rights Act when they didn’t tell the victims but also misled the victims into believing that the case, secretly closed after the plea bargain was sealed, was ongoing. For the first time, a judge has ruled that Acosta illegally hid the agreement from Epstein’s victims although the only follow-up is that the victims have 15 days to settle the issue with the government. Acosta was so convincing during his confirmation hearings—even calling the Epstein deal a “point of pride”—that he gained the votes of all the GOP senators plus 8 Democrats and one independent.

Asked about Acosta, DDT said:

“I really don’t know too much about it. I know he’s done a great job as labor secretary and that seems like a long time ago.”

Sex trafficking in DDT’s mind exists only as a device to get votes through his wall on the southern border.

DDT doesn’t mind troops in Syria—he just thinks they shouldn’t be from the U.S. After he announced his pullout of the U.S. military, he asked Europe to send in more soldiers to replace them, raising questions of whether he thinks that Syria is safe enough to be left on its own. EU allies refused DDT’s request. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), separated himself from DDT by shouting at the DOD acting secretary Patrick Shanahan who supports the pullout by April 20. “That’s the dumbest f—ing idea I’ve ever heard,” Graham yelled. he said that ISIS would return, Turkey would attack Kurdish forces, and Iran would have the advantage. Shanahan agreed with Graham but said he would do what DDT wants. Maybe DDT listened to Graham: today he plans to keep 400 soldiers on the ground in Syria, up from the 200 that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced yesterday.

The leakiest White House in history has mandatory non-disclosure agreements for all employees—at least for now. Former DDT staffer Jessica Denson is suing to nullify the NDAs, claiming that their broadness allows retaliation against employees with legitimate workplace grievance. The lawsuit describes the NDAs as “unenforceable” and “unconscionable.” The class-action suit covers thousands of DDT’s employees and volunteers, including for his campaign, that prevented them from making any disparaging comments about DDT, the campaign, and his family.  Staffers aren’t even allowed copies of the NDAs that they sign that include a $10 million penalty for each infraction.

Roger Stone groveled after he sent out a tweet incorporating a gun target symbol with a photo of his judge and his criticism of her, but his abject apology wasn’t enough. She just placed a full gag order on him.

Spin—twisting negative events to make them sound positive—has reached an artistic high in a conservative Wall Street Journal editorial. Attorney David Rivkin and “legal theorist” Elizabeth Foley purported that criminal allegations against DDT are so many that he should not be investigated. One concern was taking time away from DDT’s “work”—aka “Executive Time.” Investigating DDT’s money laundering and other business fraud might take away from the unscheduled calls he makes to GOP legislators to talk about his television watching or golf or whatever.

December 26, 2018

Government Shutdown, North Carolina Election Fraud

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Day Five of Government Shutdown:  Adam Taylor points out three ways that the closure of over half the federal government by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) affects the entire world:

People: Those employed at U.S. embassies are required to work without paychecks in any shutdown, but they may not be paid at the end of the debacle, especially non-U.S. citizens contracted to work for the U.S. government.

Procedure: The State Department claims that it will issue passports and visas throughout the shutdown, but other services may not be provided. The Department told U.S. citizens to follow the embassy Twitter account in Jakarta after Indonesia’s tsunami that killed at least 429 people but the embassy tweeted that the shutdown has stopped regular tweets. The U.S. Geological Survey could also not provide data on the tsunami. A shutdown stops no new funding commitments or obligations except to protect life and property; further restrictions may be implemented.

Prestige: Most other political systems don’t leave hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay because of a political dispute. Of the 22 federal government shutdowns in the past 40 years, three have been in just the past year.

The shutdown caused lights to be turned off the National Christmas Tree near the White House because of no repairs after a man climbed the tree before the shutdown. A National Park Foundation grant got the lights back on by Christmas Eve. Roads at national parks are not plowed, and no one services trash and toilets. A holiday organ concert was not held in Mount Vernon (NY) because St. Paul’s Church is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service. Tickets to Alcatraz Cruises were refunded, and bald eagles were safe from voyeurs on the Skagit River in Washington state when observation of their migration was closed. The sled dog puppy webcam from Denali National Park (Alaska) was one of several shut down. The panda site at the National Zoo in Washington was supposedly operating, but not when I tried to connect. You can get the one in China.

The shutdown is all about DDT’s desire for a “wall.” [Orange lines above are fences already in place.] In his desperation to please his base, he tweeted:

“I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.”

He added on Christmas Day that he got a “great price.” Those statements contain a few lies:

  • A president cannot give out a contract; only  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may award contracts for border wall construction after Congress approves funding.
  • Congress approved funding for 33 miles in the Rio Grande Valley last March, and CBP announced in November that the construction would begin in February 2019.
  • The approved funding last March for 84 miles, including the 33 miles in Texas, may cost about $22 million per mile with a contract costing $313 million for 14 of those miles.

The 33 miles include the nonprofit National Butterfly Center, a state park, and privately owned ranches and farmland. Another $5 billion that DDT demands in exchange for closing the shutdown could build 215 miles, including 159 miles in Texas. The U.S. already has 653 miles of border fence, funded in 2006, at a cost of $2.3 per mile in 2015, ten percent of the projected cost in 2019, because the fence, on easier terrain, also had a less complicated design. More detailed information about the wall.

The Senate has one week to pass funding for the wall before the GOP-dominated House disappears for the next two years. The session begins tomorrow at 4:00 pm. DDT has dropped his $5 billion demand to $2.1 billion plus $400 million as DDT’s “slush fund” for his other immigration priorities and more money to secure the border with no requirement, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is sticking at $1.3 billion. Even with a miracle, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be forced to drag the representatives back to Washington at the end of the week to vote on a Senate bill, and the approximately 70 Republicans who won’t be returning to the House next year, almost one-third of the GOP members, may be reluctant go to that effort.

When the 116th Congress takes effect on January 3, 2019, a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District won’t be present. After DDT’s two-year obsession with “voter fraud,” even the claim that all of Hillary Clinton’s popularity majority of three million people came from “illegal aliens,” the problem of election fraud is front and center in at least two North Carolina counties  The media exposed the practice of Republicans paid to collect absentee ballots and either change or destroy them to favor GOP U.S. House candidate Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist minister for over three decades. In the past eight weeks, the news about GOP illegal behavior has spread although Republicans waited almost a month to express concern about the election fraud.

Harris’ campaign owes over $34,000 to Red Dome Group for its contract with Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. who illegally collected absentee ballots, an action that put Harris ahead in the race for U.S. House by 905 votes. Voters have testified that they gave their signed ballots to someone who came to their houses and asked for them, ballots which were never counted. Others did not fill out the signed ballot before they gave it to the person who asked for them.   Harris deliberately directed the hiring of Dowless because of the operative’s shady tactics.

In 2016, Dowless paid $225 to two ballot harvesters for each ballot, half for completed ballot request forms and the other half for the ballots themselves. He provided a “sample ballot” to show which candidates should be selected and coached them on what to say if they were caught harvesting ballots. Ten days after DDT’s inauguration, N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned his administration about the illegal absentee ballot activities in Bladen County and urgently requested criminal charges against Dowless. In February 2017, state investigators had the first of several in-person meetings providing FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence about criminal activity by Dowless and others. By then, DDT had fired DOJ’s deputy AG Sally Yates, who was acting as AG, and DDT’s AG replacement took no action. Instead he told his staff to prosecute a few non-citizens who had allegedly voted among over 6.9 million citizens. Several of those prosecutions were against longtime legal permanent residents; four of those prosecuted pleaded guilty with the only sentence, a $200 fine, against an Italian man who legally lived in the U.S. since 1985.

Earlier this year, Harris’ opponent in the primary warned the state and national GOP officials about possible fraud after 96 percent of absentee ballots were marked in favor of Harris. The North Carolina elections board issued subpoenas to the Harris campaign and Red Dome Group, and the Wake County district attorney’s office in Raleigh, the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and federal prosecutors are examining voting irregularities in the 9th District.

Harris’ illegal actions were compounded by the Bladen County board illegally counting early votes three days before Election Day and possibly sharing the result with the candidate. In 2016, Dowless said that Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw knew his staffers illegally put their initials in the corner of ballots they returned. Shaw retired last month before her scheduled January 1 retirement. Dowless also admitted that he took cash from the campaign to pay his workers to elect Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVickers at the request of former GOP Chairman Landon Bordeaux. Several hundred absentee ballots “were physically seen and confirmed as votes for sheriff McVicker by Mr. Dowless.”

The state GOP sticks with Harris, who has said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing.” By December 17 the state GOP and Harris’ GOP officials demanded that Harris be certified as the winner and seated in the House. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/roy-cooper-to-veto-bill-with-race-redo-unless-sections-removed    On December 18, the North Carolina GOP legislature passed a bill to have a new primary and general election for Harris’ district that includes cover for lobbyists and those who violate campaign finance law. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation because of the latter provisions.

The state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement rescheduled its hearing about absentee ballot fraud for January 11, 2019 because investigators are looking into activities in both Bladen and Robeson counties. One option is to hold a general election for the race with Harris, the GOP nominee, unless he dies or moves out of state. Another is to begin the process with a primary. If no candidate were to win more than 30 percent of the vote, a second primary would be required to select a candidate with a plurality. That would be followed by the general election. need to be triggered to determine the nominee.

North Carolina is also the state where the modern power-stripping trend began. In 2016, Republican legislators passed a law to hamstring the governor’s office after a Democrat won that seat.

Now the state is using election fraud to push for more voter suppression.

 

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