Nel's New Day

August 4, 2022

Primaries – August  2, 2022 (Part 2), August 4, 2022

News continues to come in from Arizona, Kansas, and Michigan primaries, but they haven’t brought many surprises.

Arizona (Updates):

Kari Lake, endorsed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), has been declared the GOP winner for gubernatorial candidate in November by fewer than 20,000 votes out of 719,928 votes from 88 percent of them recorded. Much farther right than the candidate endorsed by former VP Mike Pence, Lake’s competition is Secretary of State Katie Hobbs who won the Democratic candidacy by over 72 percent.

Joe Arpaio, notorious for being the anti-immigrant sheriff of Maricopa County who abused prisoners, is still running for office at the age of 90. This time around he lost the position of mayor of Fountain Hills, population 25,000, to Ginny Dickey by about 300 votes. In 2017, Arpaio was convicted of failing to stop profiling Latinx in traffic stops and cost taxpayers over $200 million for legal bills. DDT pardoned Arpaio two months later.

Two days after the primary election, Pinal County’s elections director, David Frisk, is “no longer employed” by the county because of serious ballot unavailability during the election, primarily GOP ones. South of Phoenix, the county has 425,000 population, some of them in the cities of Casa Grande and Florence.

Missouri:

Cori Bush, a Democrat who won her first primary election two years ago with 48.5 percent, not even three percent over incumbent William Lacy Clay. This year, she took 70 percent of the primary votes although her opposition, Steve Roberts, attacked her on both her voting record and not enough legislating.  

Someone in the state Office of Administration building scrubbed Roberts’ Wikipedia page of sexual assault accusations by at least two women. He filed a civil suit against one of the women but then dropped the case. Identified only by an IP address, one user made four edits on February 7, 2022, and the woman died 33 days later at the age of 37. The edits also eliminated Roberts’ firing from the circuit attorney’s office and background information on Roberts’ family history. On February 28, another account with no IP address, MOfacts, deleted the same sections. The same source added favorable information earlier on February 14. Roberts’ sexual misconduct allegations are back in the Wikipedia piece with additional information about the attempt to remove them. He also tried to shift redistrict maps to move Bush’s voters outside the boundary.

Washington:

Jamie Herrera Buetler and Dan Newhouse are two of the ten GOP representatives voting for DDT’s impeachment who are moving to the general election. The reason might be the “jungle primary” in Washington in the open primary—anyone can vote and the top two go to the November election. A third representative, David Valado, made the cut in California with the same style of election. Of the others, Peter Meijer (MI) and Tom (SC) lost and four others—Anthony Gonzales (OH), John Katko (NY), Adam Kinzinger (IL), and Fred Upton (MI)—opted not to run again. Liz Cheney (WY) trails her opponent for the August 16 primary; Wyoming permits voters from any party to change to another party on Election Day. In the Senate, Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican voting against DDT up for election in 2022,ss also faces an open-primary and ranked-choice voting system on August 16.

In Washington’s 4th Congressional District, Loren Culp came in third to Dan Newhouse and Doug White with only 21 percent. In 2020, Culp lost the gubernatorial election, receiving only 13.5 percent, but refused to concede the race. He withdrew his lawsuit only after his lawyer was threatened with sanctions for a frivolous case. Among Culp’s fringe beliefs was calling for the lynching of a Black man after an attack at a light rail station. He opposes vaccinations and instead told people to pay a Florida telehealth clinic for mailing them treatments including ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.  

Tennessee:

DDT lost one of his endorsements in April when Morgan Ortagus was removed from the 5th Congressional District. Republicans said she did not meet the requirements to be “actively involved” in the party during a three-year residency in the district. The state GOP also removed two others from the ballot in the same district. Ortagus argued that she met the party bylaws—voting in enough recent GOP primaries, participating in GOP women’s groups, and contributing to the state party. She said she talked with members of the State Executive committee “about my core conservative beliefs, my background serving in the Trump Administration and the U.S. Navy Reserves, and my conservative vision for our state and our country.” Critics were upset that Ortagus had supported Jeb Bush in the 2016 primaries and liberal SCOTUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg officiated at her wedding.

Andy Ogles won the GOP primary for the 5th district after a bruising campaign, State Sen. Frank Niceley campaigned for Beth Harwell, who came in second, saying that only Jewish members of Trump’s family cared about Ortagus’ candidacy because of her Jewish faith. Ortagus said Niceley “should be ashamed of his repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric,” adding she is “incredibly proud to call myself a part of the Jewish people.”

Odessa Kelly, a long shot, won the Democratic candidacy in the 7th Congressional District. She hopes to be the first openly lesbian Black member of Congress. Two other women, Aisha Mills (FL) and Queen Johnson (NY) hope for the same designation. Voting rights advocates called Kelly’s district the most gerrymandered one in the nation.

Catchup from other states:

DDT has set a trend among fringe candidates to refuse election losses no longer how large. Indicted county clerk Tina Peters, who lost Colorado’s primary for secretary of state by 14 points, is spending over $250,000 in donations for a recount because of “cheating.” Nevada’s gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert paid for a recount after losing by 11 points to DDT-endorsed Joe Lombardo. Georgia gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor, receiving only 3.4 percent of the vote, claimed the election was “rigged,” and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell promised a “big investigation” on her behalf. GOP nominee for a January House special election Jason Mariner filed a lawsuit in election fraud after losing by almost 60 points.

And Michael Peroutka—a Christian nationalist and former board member of the neo-Confederate, secessionist League of the South whose extreme views are almost too numerous to enumerate—won the GOP’s nomination for attorney general in Maryland. In 2006, he hosted a five-part series of radio shows, “The American View,” in which he claimed 9/11 was an inside job carried out by an “elite bureaucrat” using pre-set demolition charges inside the buildings. A 2017 report found that the World Trade Center Building 7 collapsed from fire. Peroutka thought a missile looking “like a plane hit the Pentagon.” In 2004, he said he was “still angry” that Maryland was barred from seceding from the United States to join the Confederacy.

The consultant for Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano declared the U.S. is a “Christian nation, Christians are “taking back” the country from Jewish people, and “Christian nationalists” currently congressional members will be joined with elected officials. Mastriano cross the police barricades at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The consultant is CEO of Gab, which Bloomberg News called “an online haven for white supremacists.”

In Ohio, J.D. Vance, GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate, is getting attention from conservatives—for being MIA. Before he disappeared, he told his audience at a Christian high school that couples should stay in bad marriages for the children even if they are violent. His complaint about the ease of divorce is wrong: the rates are at a 50-year low. Yet 70 women in the U.S. are fatally shot every month by intimate partners, and 1 million women living today were shot at by intimate partners, sometimes struck with gun shots. Vance also buys into the “replacement theory,” saying Democrats are “bringing in a large number of new voters to replace those that are already here.”  Conservative gay billionaire Peter Thiel put $15 million thus far into getting Vance elected. 

Mehmet “Dr.” Oz, running for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, is another MIA. Comfortable with his opponent, John Fetterman, having had a stroke, Oz spent a good deal in time in Palm Beach with his first post-primary event on June 10 after winning on May 17. At the end of June, Oz left for Europe, specifically Ireland, for a couple of weeks. The man is also rumored to still be living in New Jersey. In late July Fetterman was ahead of Oz by 46 to 37 percent; a week later Fetterman went up to 14 points ahead, 52 percent of likely voters to 38 percent. DDT is complaining about Oz to Sean Hannity who persuaded him to endorse the TV doctor.

The most infamous candidate Herschel Walker, running for U.S. senators from Georgia, was DDT’s first endorsement. He deserves an entire blog post by himself.

Next Tuesday primaries, Connecticut and Minnesota.

August 2, 2022

Veterans, Pro-choice Win; Pelosi, Biden Take Heat; ERIC Wins in Missouri

Facing tremendous backlash, Republicans in the Senate caved to vote for legislation expanding healthcare for veterans fighting diseases related to toxic exposure, including from burn pits that burned hazardous materials. After blocking the PACT Act with 42 votes last week, senators voted 86-11 for the bill with the support of 49 Democrats and 37 Republicans. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) missed the vote because of a recent hip-replacement.

Over 3.5 million veterans will benefit from easier access to health and disability benefits. An amendment by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) failed 7-90 that would have eliminated all funding except to Israel for the U.S. Agency for International Development during the next 10 years. Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s (R-TN) amendment would have privatized VA health services for these veterans through private practice, but Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) disagreed with her argument that the VA lacks the resources. Her amendment fell short of the 60-vote filibuster by 48-47.

The 11 Republicans against expanded health care for veterans also voted “no” on the bill in June: Mike Crapo (ID), James Lankford (OK), Mike Lee (UT), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Rand Paul (KY), James Risch (ID), Mitt Romney (UT), Richard Shelby (AL), Thom Tillis (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), and Tommy Tuberville (AL). Paul spoke objected to the PACT Act because too many veterans would receive care; he wanted stricter guidelines. Blackburn said she voted against the bill to retaliate against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Democrats running for election. Her odd opposition was to “make certain that [veterans] have access to the care that they need,” which is what the bill does. In Tennessee, 7.4 percent of veterans live in poverty, and the unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. The state ranks among the top ten with the least access to healthcare; 11.4 percent of residents lack health insurance.

Kansas held the first election about reproductive rights after the Supreme Court eliminated reproductive rights in Roe v. Wade and overwhelmingly rejected legislative suppression of abortion by 58.8 to 41.2 percent with 95 percent of the votes in. This vote to protect reproductive rights came despite confusion in the text of the initiative: voting “yes” on the ballot issue meant the state legislature could take away abortion rights; voting “no” will protect women under the Kansas constitution that permits abortions through the 22nd week of pregnancy.

To make things worse, text messages sent to voters lied about the effect of voting yes, legal in Kansas that does not prevent disinformation in political messages for constitutional ballot measures. Texts were created by a PAC led by Tim Huelskamp, hard-line former GOP congressman from Kansas, and sent from phone numbers leased from Alliance Forge in Sparks (NV) by Twilo, a San Francisco-based communications company. Huelskamp’s PAC sent the message with no reference to himself or Alliance Forge.

Legislators may also have tried to suppress the vote by putting it on the primary, hoping for a lack of turnout, perhaps 36 percent of voters participating. Instead about 50 percent of the people turned out with returned advance mail ballots 46 percent GOP, 39 percent Democrat, and 15 percent unaffiliated. Republicans outnumber Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-1 in the state. 

The vote was created as a special election at the same time as primaries in which only party-affiliated votes can participate. Legislators may have hoped that unaffiliated voters—29 percent of the electorate—may not have known they could vote on the issue, and lawmakers passed tighter restrictions to create difficulties for registering new voters.

Since the announcement of erasing Roe, over a dozen GOP-led states moved to ban or further restrict abortion. Kansas legislators claim that a new amendment won’t mean a total ban on abortion, but they previously said they are ready for an all-out ban in the January legislative session. Amendment 2, as the initiative is known, does not ban abortion, but it allows the highly conservative legislature to do so.

Anti-abortion activists complained that Kansas had 13 percent more abortions over the past two years, but much of the increase came from closures of clinics in Oklahoma and Texas. The past year saw a 60 percent increase of out-of-state patients in Trust Women, a Wichita abortion clinic during the past year.

In non-election news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) went to Taiwan and met with President Tsai Ing-wen and other lawmakers despite GOP anger that she didn’t follow China’s directions to not go the country that the Chinese won’t recognize. China’s opposition comes from its Communist Party ideology, objecting to support for pro-independence groups and refusing to see Taiwan as a sovereign nation. Pelosi is the first House Speaker to go to Taiwan since Newt Gingrinch (R-GA) went there in 1997.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was the first U.S. president to talk to the Taiwanese president since 1979, the year that the U.S. established relations with China, when he talked with Tsai on December 2, 2016, soon after his election. At that time, Republicans were highly supportive of relations with Taiwan. Reince Priebus, DDT’s chief of staff, visited Taiwan in 2011 and 2015 with a GOP delegation, and Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lee called Priebus a friend of Taiwan. Longtime former president of the Heritage Foundation, Edward J. Feulner, had extensive ties with Taiwan. The RNC platform in July 2016 reaffirmed support for Ronald Reagan’s 1982 six key assurances to Taiwan.

During her visit, Pelosi will meet with the chair of Taiwan’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), to discuss the new U.S. law, CHIPS and Science Act, which provides $52 billion of subsidies for U.S. chip factories. TSMC is building a chip factory in Arizona with potential plans for additional factories at the same site.

President Joe Biden orchestrated the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Republicans either criticize him or describe it as a nothing-burger.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson led the crowd by saying, “Feel safer? Of course you don’t.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) claimed Biden’s departure from Afghanistan caused the “possible re-emergence of Al Qaeda.” McCarthy wants a briefing about terrorist threats to America, probably foreign ones and not the serious problems of domestic terrorism.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said, “Joe’s victory is ridiculous”—after she left the Saudi Arabian LIV golf tour at DDT’s resort in Bedminster (NJ). As with all Biden’s accomplishments, she calls it a distraction from the rising inflation rate.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blamed Biden for making Afghanistan a “safe haven” for terrorism by withdrawing troops and lambasted him for “a proxy war with Russia that’s just killing more people.” Graham claimed no one was worried about an al Qaeda-attack because of the “Democrats big tax hike coming soon”—meaning the one on businesses making over $1 billion.

Except for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) who posted this on his website:

“This is an important accomplishment. All Americans will breathe easier today knowing Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al-Qaeda, has been eliminated. This strike should be a message to terrorists near and far: if you conspire to kill Americans, we will find and kill you.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) called Fox host Harris Faulkner a liar when she claimed that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will tax people making under $400,000 a year, something Biden said he wouldn’t do. After repeating telling Faulkner she was wrong with her accusation, Manchin pointed out savings of $288 billion for Medicare and from lower gas prices. Faulkner lost her cool when Manchin asked her, “Are you scared that we’re going to do something good that will help our country?” 

August 2 saw primaries in five states on August 2: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. Tennessee primaries are on Thursday, August 4. Most results won’t be in until tomorrow—or even several more days—because of the lag in counting votes and waiting for mail-in ballots. Tennessee primaries are on Thursday, August 4.

DDT did win one of his endorsements, ERIC, his pick for the Missouri GOP candidate for the U.S. senate. DDT gave no last name for his endorsement, hedging his bets between Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens for U.S. Senate. In fact, a third ERIC ran for U.S. Senator, comedian Eric McElroy who had no visible campaign.

The winner, Eric Schmitt, might be slightly better than Eric Greitens who resigned from the state’s governor’s seat after accusations of his violence against a mistress and was recently charged by his ex-wife of domestic abuse against herself and their young son. Greitens said enemies recognize “our campaign is a threat to business as usual,” but Schmitt got at least twice as many votes as he did. The state’s GOP U.S. senator Josh Hawley, master of masculinity who ran away on January 6, backed the second in the race, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who was condemned by DDT. Schmitt runs against Trudy Busch Valentine, an heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune.

Schmitt used his position as attorney general in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election by filing an amicus brief to AG Ken Paxton’s (R-TX) lawsuit before the Supreme Court to eliminate legal electoral voters. Head of the only agency opposing the release of an innocent man, Schmitt twice delayed hearings to release Kevin Strickland, imprisoned for 42 years. The state gave Strickland no money for 42-year imprisonment, but donors collected $1.6 million for him.

More about the primaries tomorrow!

June 2, 2022

Elections ‘Rigged,’ in Limbo

A mass shooting today: At a Racine (WI) cemetery during the funeral of Da’shontay L. King Sr, who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop, at least five members of his family were injured. The shooter is still at large.

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is eagerly waiting to see if he has to declare the Pennsylvania GOP primary for U.S. senator “rigged,” but conservative Justice Samuel Alito has tossed a clinker into the process. Candidate David McCormick sued to have undated or wrongly-dated ballots counted, and the 3rd Circuit Court, using an earlier ruling, agreed. These ballots arrived on time, but the voter had to write a date on the envelope. A judicial candidate, however, appealed to the Supreme Court to block them, and Alito put a stay on the lower ruling until the Supreme Court makes a decision. The deadline for the results is June 8.

DDT’s endorsement, Mehmet Oz, declared himself the “presumptive” candidate although 1,200 GOP mail-in ballots and 4,000 provisional ballots from all parties remain to be counted. McCormick has been receiving two-thirds of the votes from the mail-in votes. Oz is leading by only 923 votes, requiring a mandatory recount. To run, Oz changed his address from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

Straightening out the mess will be difficult. Some counties include undated ballots; others don’t. Some areas haven’t finished the first count. Defects in mail ballots require decisions about acceptance or rejection. Counties must research voters of provisional ballots to decide whether they count. Campaigns have a two-day waiting period to appeal these decisions to county court before they are rescanned in a South Philly mail ballot delivery challenged by McCormick and Oz campaigns. And in Allegheny County. Today, a Commonwealth judge ordered counties to count undated ballots but keep them separate.

Federal judges ruled that the dating requirement is immaterial to voters’ qualifications and not counting them violates federal civil rights law. Ballots arrived on time with no indication of fraud. But Alito halted the decision with no deadline for a ruling. DDT may have to wait a long time.

David Perdue, GOP loser for Georgia’s governor, isn’t shouting “rigged” about his predictable failure, but the other losing opponent to incumbent Brian Kemp complains she was cheated. Kandiss Taylor, who believes that DDT really won the 2020 election, got only 3.4 percent of the GOP gubernatorial primary compared to PDDT-endorsed Perdue who received 21.8 percent.

DDT’s allies believe the Kemp win is fraud. Former Newsmax correspondent Emerald Robinson circulated this reason in DDT’s “Save America” PAC:

“On Primary Day in Georgia, Kemp gets 74% and Perdue gets 22%. Nobody in any election in America gets 74% of the votes. Ever. It doesn’t happen. Obvious fraud.”

Uncomfirmed claims of election fraud arise only when Republicans—or DDT’s endorsements—lose elections. To the GOP, any other election is legitimate. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), headed for a runoff on June 13 after he came in second for the GOP U.S. Senate primary, confirmed the GOP hypocrisy. About his second place to another Republican, he said, “At some point, you have to hope that the election system is going to be honest.” Brooks was one of 147 legislators to oppose the electoral college vote on January 6, 2021, and support the illegal plan to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential win in favor of DDT. Brooks said the 2020 fraud took place “in predominantly Democrat parts of the state” despite the 100+ lawsuits disproving any election fraud in 2020 and DDT-appointed AG Bill Barr’s statement that the 2020 election was fair.

Thus far, 55 lawmakers objecting to Biden’s election have participated in competitive primaries using the same rules and regulations as in 2020, and the GOP has cried fraud about only DDT’s losses in Georgia. Pennsylvania may come under that category if Oz doesn’t win. No winning Republicans in 2020 denied their victories because of “rigged” elections. The rare factual election fraud in past years came from Republicans, for example the North Carolina in 2018 requiring a redo of a House race.   

After four years, DDT’s EPA secretary Scott Pruitt, known to treat his staff like servants, has been reported in violation of federal policies and “endangered public safety” for forcing his security detail to drive at dangerous speeds on routine trips. Typically late, he also made them use sirens and emergency lights. Once he ordered the driver to plow into oncoming traffic because he needed to pick up his dry-cleaning. The internal report had been kept secret until now although it was finished a month before he resigned in July 2018.

The EPA also reversed its exoneration of Pruitt for his installation of a $43,000+ secure phone booth in his office, used only once, and now states Pruitt violated the appropriations law. Pruitt also committed more violations in expenditures for decorating his office.  Pruitt is running for U.S. Senate from Oklahoma with a dozen opponents and no endorsements, not even DDT.    

Three congressional Republicans are facing ethics charges for insider trading:

  • Reps. Pat Fallon (R-TX) and John Rutherford (R-FL) violated the STOCK Act by not reporting their stock trades. According to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Fallon has “a pattern of late disclosure of reportable transactions, which continued even after he was on notice of his STOCK Act filing obligations.” When he did not cooperate with the probe, the OCE recommended the House Ethics Committee subpoena Fallon.
  • Rutherford is on the Ethics Committee which usually does not investigate its own members. The OCE, however concluded he has “a pattern of late disclosure of reportable transactions made in [IRA] accounts, which continued even after he was on notice of his STOCK Act filing obligations.”
  • Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-NY) was investigated. The OCE, however, “failed to reach a determination on the allegations against Jacobs after its nonpartisan board reached a tie vote on referring the matter further, but House Ethics said in a statement they would continue to investigate the issue.”

Last week, the OCE announced an investigation into Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-SC) cryptocurrency promotional efforts and an alleged relationship with a congressional aide. Cawthorn lost his primary last month.

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) allegedly misused campaign funds to pay dues at a private social club in Texas, and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) allegedly enlisted congressional staff to complete personal tasks.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), third highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stripped Liz Cheney (R-WY) of the position, hopes to become DDT’s vice-president in 2024. With an A+ rating from NRA, Stefanik’s husband, Matthew Manda, is public affairs manager for the Newton (CT) based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and a plaintiff in a lawsuit attempting to block a New York law increasing liability for gun manufacturers. In April, Manda coordinated dozens of gun industry leaders to speak with elected officials—including Stefanik. A reporter asked Stefanik’s adviser Alex deGrasse if Manda’s work influences Stefanik’s stance on gun rights, deGrasse called the journalist “a very sick person” and called the employer, the Albany Times Union, “sexist.”

In South Dakota, AG Jason Ravnsborg probably won’t run for re-election. He was impeached for a hit-and-run after he killed a pedestrian in September 2020 but allowed to plead to a misdemeanor. Ravnsborg is on leave until after the impeachment trial beginning on June 21, but he announced last Friday that his office will not charge billionaire T. Denny Sanford, the state’s richest man, with possession of child pornography. The affidavits are still sealed despite requests for them from news outlets, Argus Leader and ProPublica. Anti-pornography positions are becoming popular among conservatives—just not for billionaires.

South Dakota GOP legislators are so opposed to Medicaid expansion that they put a constitutional amendment on the June 7 primary ballot to restrict initiatives because of one for the expansion scheduled on November 8. The proposed amendment would prevent measures spending over $10 million for five years and require 60 percent of voters, not 50 percent, to approve the initiative. GOP lawmakers admitted that the purpose of the constitutional amendment was to block the Medicaid expansion. Voters in five states—Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah—have already approved the expansions after the legislature refused to accept it.

In 1898, South Dakota was the first state in the U.S. to establish the popular initiative process. Initiatives have raised the minimum wage, created an independent ethics commission, and legalized cannabis in the conservative state. After the ethics commission approval in 2016, the legislature overturned it and tried to make the initiative process more stringent. In 2020, the all-GOP Supreme Court struck down the cannabis legalization initiative for having more than one subject. Last year, GOP legislatures increased the font size of the ballot petition while mandating that the text fit on one page.

South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, spoke at the NRA convention three days after the Uvalde (TX) massacre, explaining the need to carry all guns without any permits because leftist protesters want to tear down Mt. Rushmore. With presidential aspirations, Noem reconnected with DDT’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he allegedly sexually harassed a female donor at a political event in Las Vegas.

In Missouri, a first-time Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Anheuser-Busch heir Trudy Busch Valentine, was scheduled to have an NRA fundraiser until she got caught. With ten opponents and lots of money, she also campaigned on “commonsense gun legislation,” promising to be leader.

October 16, 2021

Oddities of the Past Week – October 16

Scott Pio, a DDT pick for the Virginia state legislature, has—“just a thought, not a statement”—to lower the sea level: take “all the boats out of the water” and tweeted an illustration from marinetraffic.com of ships in the Pacific Ocean. Pio formerly worked with a task force to get support for DDT when he golfs in Virginia. An engineer explained that the impact of each boat on the sea level is “about six microns, which is slightly more than the diameter of a strand of spider silk.” The oceans rise about .13 inch each year from global warming, and removing all ships from the ocean would cover a one-day gain. Surging sea levels come from human-caused climate warming—additional water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and seawater expansion from warming.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, is known for her quick answers to reporters who try to throw her off-guard, but one of her best is the answer to a question concerning President Joe Biden’s decision to release records connected to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The reporter was checking for any concern that a future president would release records to weaponize Biden. White House Counsel Dana Remus justified the “unique and extraordinary circumstances” presented by the worst attack on America’s legislature since Major General Robert Ross led the British Army’s burning of Washington in 1814. 

Reporter: Has there been any concern about what might happen one day when the shoe is on the other foot?

Psaki: I can assure you that this President has no intention to lead an insurrection on this nation’s Capitol.

White House Counsel Dana Remus attributed the release of papers to the “unique and extraordinary circumstances” presented by the worst attack on the U.S. legislature since Major General Robert Ross led the British Army’s burning of Washington in 1814. She wrote that Biden had “determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States” because the committee “is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President’s constitutional responsibilities.”

Michael Angelo Riley, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police force, has been indicted for obstruction of justice after repeatedly warning a person on Facebook to take down the photos and accounts of being in the Capitol on January 6. One message read:

“[I’]m a capitol police officer who agrees with your political stance. Take down the part about being in the building they are correctly investigating and everyone who was in the building is going to be charged. Just looking out!”

Once he got caught, he took down his warnings, but they had already been copied. He knew the “friend,” referred to as “Person 1,” only through their FB exchanges. The man is Jacob Hiles, a Virginia fishing charter boat operator who already pled guilty to “illegally parading in the Capitol” although he wrote he didn’t think he did anything wrong. Riley finally wrote him that a video showed him that Hiles’ excuse getting “pushed in the [Capitol] with no other choice now seems not only false but a big lie. I feel like a moron believing you.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Josh Renaud thought he was doing the state a favor when he notified it that the website from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had published over 100,000 teacher, counselor, and administrator Social Security numbers. All anyone had to do was press the link for “View Sources.” The paper notified the state government, and the glitch was fixed. Yet Missouri Gov. Mike Parson threated to prosecute Renaud for “hacking” the website to “steal personal information and harm Missourians.” Parson referred the “case” to a prosecutor and asked the state highway patrol to investigate.

Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), who teaches a class in fundraising at Arizona State University, is practicing on a trip to London and Paris. Asking for foreign donations there is legal as long as only U.S. citizens make contributions. Sinema, who said she wanted to be a maverick like former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is a favorite of Republicans because she blocks funding for climate change and family assistance in the Democratic infrastructure bill. Against several hypothetical opponents in a 2024 primary Democratic contest, Sinema would get no more than 25 percent of the votes.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gone off on a rant about 40,000 Brazilians “headed for Connecticut wearing designer clothes and Gucci bags.” In August, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported San Diego agents encountered about 7,300 Brazilian nationals—nothing about designer clothes, Gucci bags, and an extra 32,700 Brazilians. Last year, he was proudly photographed with a leader of the white supremacist Proud Boys at a restaurant, and a year earlier he was pictured with far right wing politician Geert Wilders, “a controversial Dutch parliamentary leader with anti-Islam and anti-immigrant views.”

Bill Pryor, a George H.W. Bush-appointed judge on the 11th Circuit Court serving Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, has a new clerk with a racist past. In late 2017, Crystal Clanton, conservative Turning Point USA national field director, sent a text to her co-workers:

“I hate Black people. Like fuck them all.… I hate blacks. End of story.”

No one at the 11th Circuit, including Pryor, is answering requests for comment. Federal clerks write opinions making law and affecting litigants as well as move on prestigious law careers, including the federal bench.

DDT supporters are teaching children many expletives that teachers and parents may not appreciate. Protesters gathering outside politicians’ homes yell extreme profanity so loudly and constantly that children can clearly understand the words. Last Friday, protesters collected close enough to a Connecticut child development center where President Joe Biden went to speak with children that the objectionable language was clearly understood by the little ones. They repeatedly chanted “F**k Biden” and waved flags with the same message for older children who could read. Mainstream media ignored the hecklers’ comments although the local Fox station called protesters a “loud crowd.”

On October 3, 2021, a woman woke up in Golden, BC (Canada) after an explosive bang and debris scattered over her while she was in bed. She leaped up and turned on a light. A 2.8-pound rock about the side of a fist was between the pillows next to where her head had been. A nearby construction company reported “a bright light in the sky that had exploded and caused some booms.” On the same night, other Canadians heard two loud booms and saw a fireball streaking across the sky. Some of them filmed the phenomenon. The conclusion was the rock had come from space as do thousands of space rocks striking the Earth as meteorites. 

 

 

Conservative lies about a “war on Christmas” have taken a new stance this year. Always searching for mythical complaints against Democrats, Republicans are attacking Biden for holiday gifts not arriving on time because the supply chain delays. They say that Christmas will be ruined without all those things people want to buy. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ex-wrestling coach who refused to report sexual abuse against his athletes, tweeted that presents were always on time during DDT’s term. Princeton historian Kevin Kruse added to Jordan’s tweet with a copy of the December 24, 2020, headline, “More than one million packages will not reach their destinations this Christmas.” It’s not even Halloween yet, but the Fox network has mentioned Christmas at least 106 times in one day, not including reruns.

The Wisconsin ballot count may be an even bigger farce than the one in Arizona. The former Supreme Court justice, Michael Gableman, has already proved his own claim that he doesn’t have “any understanding of how elections work,” but the mistakes build. He sent a subpoena to an official who doesn’t oversee elections and misspelled a Latin phrase demanding records and testimony. Then he backed off his subpoenas before telling a radio host that the officials would still be required to testify. In Michigan, DDT is pushing rallies to advocate for ballot counts, and Republicans have replaced election officials believing in the “stolen” election lie for 8 of the 11 largest counties.

DDT made news this last week when he issued this statement:

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

The obvious reason is undermining faith in democracy and elections, but DDT runs the risk of his followers doing what he says—as they always have. Maybe gerrymandering, new anti-voting laws, and DDT’s followers running local elections might help the Republicans, but those who want to get voted are going into a panic. So are his followers who split about whether they will vote next year. Meanwhile, DDT is now sticking to endorsing candidates; his advisers may have gotten to him. It will be a long 14 months until the 2022 elections.

June 27, 2021

DDT’s Life Goes Downhill

In his first rally since Joe Biden became president of the United States, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) whined and ranted through 90 minutes of lies about being defrauded out of his re-election and his bad treatment since he lost the election on what he called his “revenge” tour. Mainstream networks avoided DDT’s rally speech although CSPAN ran it as part of his presidential campaign for 2024, and people left the rally before he was finished.

Two days after DDT delivered his lies, the Trump Organization “will be criminally charged” and “will have faced criminal charges” from an investigation by the Southern District of New York City. Charges will deal with whether taxes were paid on the company’s fringe benefits for a top executive and false valuations of properties to obtain large loans and pay small taxes.  

Prosecutors gave DDT until tomorrow afternoon to make final arguments about why DDT’s business should not face these criminal charges. The Trump Organization, controlled by a DDT-owned trust, uses a web of hundreds of individual limited liability corporations. The case against the company is moving forward because DDT’s CEO Allen Weisselberg wasn’t “cooperating.” Weisselberg went to Trump Tower while DDT was in residence. 

Since the investigation into DDT and his business, most of its longtime employees, DDT’s family members who worked there, and some of his protectors such as former lawyer Michael Cohen left. After being his fixer for decades, Cohen turned on DDT. Now DDT works at the business, mostly alone, with two assistants and a few body men. A grand jury, convened earlier this year, is to consider indictments from the investigation.

Indictments could financially destroy DDT and his family, driving DDT into bankruptcy. DDT almost may owe hundreds of millions of dollars to the IRS, and his loans of hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign banks like the Chinese are coming due soon. Even without criminal indictments of the Trump Organization, DDT’s money-making could be shut down.

Rudy Giuliani’s former lawyer, replacement for Cohen, is also in trouble: the New York Supreme Court suspended his law license, and he can not practice law at this time. He faces disbarment for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while pushing DDT’s multiple court cases challenging the legal 2020 election. The court called Giuliani an “immediate threat” to the public who had “directly inflamed” the tensions leading to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden,” according to the court. 

DDT angrily attacked “the same court that would handle any appeals in any prosecution the Manhattan DA may bring against the Trump Organization or any of its principals or employees,” according to George Conway’s tweet.

Examples of Giuliani’s incompetence and dishonesty:

Told a court that voter fraud cost DDT the election before Giuliani admitted he isn’t claiming voter fraud.

Defended lies about absentee ballots by saying he sincerely believed the lies at one time.

Lied to a court about a dead boxer voting in Philadelphia.

Claimed underage Georgia residents gave President Joe Biden up to 165,000 votes when the number was zero.

Repeatedly claimed “a few hundred thousand” undocumented immigrants voted for Biden in Arizona after being told no data existed to support his statement.

Giuliani is bringing down others with him.  FBI agents searched the home of George Dickson, a marijuana entrepreneur who worked with Giuliani for financing a documentary, never completed, to present the lies about Joe and Hunter Biden’s corruption in Ukraine. Giuliani thought the film would kill Biden’s chances to be elected. Federal prosecutors are probing Giuliani’s actions for violating foreign lobbying laws when he worked with former Ukrainian government officials and Russian agents to spread lies about false allegations about Biden.

DDT has faced a few others disasters:

A Georgia Superior Court dismissed seven of nine claims in a lawsuit alleging 147,000 fraudulent ballots were cast in the Fulton County 2020 election. Two of them were argued under a different claim, but the Fulton County elections board intends to file to get those claims dismissed as well. The ballots have been legally audited three times, including one hand recount with finding no evidence of widespread fraud.

The United States AG, Merrick Garland, announced a DOJ lawsuit against Georgia for its new anti-voting laws. Garland stated Georgia’s law was intended to be discriminatory against people of color instead of doing so accidentally. The DOJ is also following anti-voting bills and laws in other states for possible more lawsuits, according to Garland. Federal prosecutors are to make voter intimidation a priority, and Georgia may end up on preclearance requirements again. As states move to strip powers from elected secretaries of state, the DOJ lawsuit plans concrete steps to protect their legal powers.

In another move, the DOJ has established a task force to deal with the growing threats against election workers. In a number of states—including Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—intimidation and threats have resulted in these officials’ early retirement. Pennsylvania lost at least one-third of county election officials. Last May during the Pennsylvania municipal primary, new election directors with no experience or knowledge took control. Untrained staffers can make mistakes programming races into the right districts, and the ignorance can lead to lack of consistency. Some counties haven’t even replaced election directors who resigned.

But it’s not just high-profile officials. One-third of election officials don’t feel safe in their jobs, and one-fifth have received death threats related to their jobs. Garland said, “The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.” In Georgia, new ordinances or state laws have removed or eliminated positions of members of at least ten county election boards, mostly Democrats and some people of color. Republicans have largely replaced these people.  

The DOJ also told Missouri that states cannot overturn federal laws after Republicans passed a law not to enforce federal gun laws in the state. Gov. Mike Parsons signed the bill fining any local law enforcement agency $50,000 if it enforces federal gun laws and regulations constituting “infringements” of the Second Amendment. The DOJ told Missouri the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause outweighs Parson’s measure. Missouri’s law doesn’t even refer to current federal law; GOP legislators merely passed the law in case Congress passed a law that Missouri didn’t like. Eight other states have already passed similar laws, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) said federal legislators should not pass any laws that any states would consider “nullifying.”

Other GOP governors are trying to keep members of Congress from supporting voting rights by lying about the proposed federal bill and their own anti-voting laws:

Florida: Ron DeSantis claimed that the laws were passed “so that someone can’t dump 100,000 votes two or three days later.” It didn’t happen, and DeSantis didn’t try to identify when his claim occurred. Sen. Rick Scott had falsely claimed in his 2018 race that “they found 95,000 votes after election night.”

Georgia: Brian Kemp claimed the new restrictions on drop boxes expanded the number, but it limits the number of drop boxes per county to “either one drop box for every 100,000 registered voters or the number of advance voting locations.” Larger counties, predominantly Black, are limited to 23 or fewer drop boxes, down from 94 in the 2020 election. Drop boxes, available only during early voting hours, are located inside. My Oregon county in Oregon has seven drop boxes, one per 5,467 voters, accessible 24 hours a day.

Arizona: Doug Ducey said no one loses their right to vote with Arizona’s new law, but the state automatically removes everyone from the early voter list, determining who receives mail ballots, if they don’t vote in a two-year cycle, removing over 100,000 Arizonans.

The Arizona ballot “fraudit” or ballot count or whatever is over after two painful months, but news about it is still available. Doug Logan, head of Cyber Ninjas running the operation, has claimed to be completely unbiased, but his possible appearance in the documentary Deep Rig belies his claims. Directed by a man whose work claims aliens were behind the 9/11 attack, the current conspiracy theorist film trying to prove the 2020 presidential election was rigged againt DDT uses Logan as the voice of “Anon.” 

The star of the film, Patrick Byrne, wrote the book used for the documentary and is working to get $2.8 million funding for the Arizona fake audit. Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, liaison for the “fraudit,” also took part in the film. The movie showed scenes of the audit floor, including close-ups of ballots with clearly visible choices, although a journalist was thrown out of the counting site for accidentally taking a photograph of this. Some GOP lawmakers, including Senate President Karen Fann, attended the premier of the film, filled with QAnon conspiracy theories and other lies about voter fraud.

June 5, 2019

Court Decisions a Crap Shoot

Although the courts have ruled against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) 93 percent of the time for his orders, DDT’s percentage may improve if his appointed judges start hearing more of his cases. For example, a judge has ruled against a lawsuit from the House about DDT using funds to build his wall, ruling that courts are not the place to settle this dispute. The House had argued that the spending violated the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution and usurp congressional authority while the DOJ opposed the House with the argument that the case concerned whether the administration failed to appropriately execute a statute. Appointed by DDT, U.S. District Trevor N. McFadden wrote that courts take no part in political fights between other branches.

McFadden’s decision was opposite to the 2016 ruling that the GOP-led House could sue the Obama administration for allegedly spending on an Affordable Care Act program that Congress had not approved. Rosemarie Collyer, a George W Bush appointee, wrote, “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.” Republicans had praised the outcome as a necessary check on the White House’s authority in “protecting Congress’ power of the purse [for] the separation of powers.” That case was settled before an appeal was concluded. During a hearing last month, McFadden had already said that he doubted whether the House had legal standing as a single chamber to sue the president, despite DDT illegally shifting money from other programs to pay for his wall.

Previously McFadden refused to recuse himself from a legal case regarding BuzzFeed’s publication of the Steele dossier from Fusion GPS despite McFadden’s representation a firm owned by a Russian businessman claiming he was libeled by the dossier. McFadden was also top lawyer at the DOJ Criminal Division when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked for an investigation into Fusion and earlier served as a “vetter” on DDT’s transition team where he consistently heard negative arguments about the dossier’s accuracy. One of three DDT-appointed judges on Washington, D.C.’s district court, McFadden donated to DDT’s campaign.

Domestic terrorists won in court by using the U.S. Constitution’s free speech amendment. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, appointed by George W. Bush, threw out criminal charges against three members of a neo-Nazi organization Rise above Movement (RAM) who conspired through social media to assault their ideological opponents. The three men “publicly documented their assaults in order to recruit” other white men to join RAM. The U.S. has no laws against domestic terrorism as it does against international terrorist groups. Only gun and drug charges were brought against a domestic terrorist planning to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” and the first judge hearing the case gave the man bail. Convictions for heinous acts bring light sentences, sometimes only for time served. The judge ruled that the federal statute used to prosecute the three men was unconstitutional.

A federal judge conceded to the DOJ in not requiring the release transcripts of conversations between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, when he was Russian ambassador to the U.S. A federal judge had ordered the transcripts made public, but the DOJ refused. Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations while Barack Obama was president. Barr had redacted all this information in the Mueller report.

DDT did lose his request for the Supreme Court to fast track a request a case about DDT’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, postponing any response from the high court until next fall. Two different appeals courts have ruled against DDT’s ending the DACA program. Earlier justices refused DDT’s challenge to a ruling temporarily blocking officials from closing down the program. The House is considering a vote as soon as this week on the Dream Act which would include legal status to hundreds of thousands of past DACA recipients.

With seven Republicans, all the House Democrats passed a new bill, 237-187, that expands the decade-old Dream Act. The “Dream and Promise Act” would protect young migrants illegally brought to the U.S. as children from deportation and give them a path to citizenship. Other migrants here temporarily from countries devastated by natural disasters and/or wars would also be shielded. Nine years ago, 36 conservative Dems voted the Dream Act with eight Republicans supporting it. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will almost surely not bring the bill to the floor so that Republicans can join DDT in complaining that Democrats are not passing any bills and instead focusing on investigations. Less than halfway through their first year, the House has passed half of its top priorities: democracy-reform, Equality At, Dream and Promise Act, Paycheck Fairness Act, and a bill addressing the climate crisis. Other passed bills lower prescription drug costs and expand the Violence against Women Act along with other healthcare bills. McConnell has ignored all of them and allowed only the passage of a disaster relief bill which House Republicans blocked for weeks. At least 153 bills passed in the House languish in the Senate. The other 15 bills are minor name changes, extensions, or expansions with one of them being payment to employees furloughed by their shutdown. DDT vetoed two bills.  

A judge kept Missouri from being the only state without a clinic performing abortions for the past 46 years—at least temporarily. Yesterday the court ruled that doctors who no longer work at the clinic are not required to comply with subpoenas about safety questions at the clinic. It already complies with gratuitous requirements such as transfer agreements with hospitals, inspections, and two pelvic exams for every woman wanting a surgical abortion. The court will continue to review state allegations about “failed abortions” and legal violations.

DDT is facing more problems about his Panama tower as Ithaca Capital Partners claims that he failed to pay Panamanian taxes equivalent failed to 12.5 percent of the management fees he took from the hotel. That failure plus other financial irregularities amount to “millions of dollars.” DDT’s projects in Canada, Mexico, India, Azerbaijan, Uruguay, and elsewhere are elsewhere in trouble. Although DDT claimed others developed real estate projects, information shows serious family involvement in projects, often with deceptive practices. With the failure of projects, DDT and his family lie about their lack of involvement and walk away with the money that they have already collected.

In a surprising move, Brett Kavanaugh voted with the four progressive Supreme Court justices to expand plaintiff’s fights to class-action lawsuits against big corporations. Consumers may move forward with a suit against Apple, accusing the company of acting as a monopoly. At this time, iPhone and iPad users may download apps, even those developed by third parties, only from the Apple portal while the corporation takes a cut of sales. The ruling concerns other tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

In another case, Kavanaugh went with conservatives in a decision that overturns a 40-year-old ruling and puts four decades of legal decisions into question. About a decision that “states retain their sovereign immunity from private suits brought in courts of other states,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote:

“To overrule a sound decision like [Nevada v. Hall] is to encourage litigants to seek to overrule other cases; it is to make it more difficult for lawyers to refrain from challenging settled law; and it is to cause the public to become increasingly uncertain about which cases the Court will overrule and which cases are here to stay.” 

Clarence Thomas prides himself on being a constitutionalist who follows the words of the document, but his opinion in this case refers only to the “history and structure” of the U.S. Constitution and fail to not support interstate sovereign immunity. Instead Thomas claims that the Constitution bestows “equal dignity and sovereignty” to states. To Thomas, that means that states are immune from private lawsuits brought in other states’ courts. Brett Kavanaugh declared the importance of precedent in his confirmation hearings, and John Roberts had claimed during his hearings that he would not be overturning settled law through the Supreme Court.

Earlier this spring,  Justice Neil Gorsuch maintained that using the death penalty to torture a person to death doesn’t violate the constitution’s Eighth Amendment opposition to “cruel and unusual punishment” as long as people don’t want to inflict pain. His majority opinion for Bucklew v. Precythe allowing the killing of Russell Bucklew in Missouri also asks death penalty defense attorneys to determine methods of killing their clients. Kavanaugh wrote a separate opinion suggesting that firing squads be used for execution because Bucklew could choke from vascular tumors with lethal doses of pentobarbital. Conservatives have already approved drugs for execution that gave inmates “the feeling of being burned alive.” Gorsuch’s opinion of the 5-4 majority in Bucklew destroys over a half-century of precedents and returns to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

With DDT in charge of forming the judicial system for generations to come, court decisions are a crap shoot.

March 7, 2016

More Than Candidate Conflict–Such As Women’s Rights

The results from wacko caucuses that let 18,000 people in an entire state determine its presidential candidate continue to roll in and dominate the media while almost all other news is left in the dust. Tomorrow brings more about the presidential election and nothing else. But there is more news—like information about the GOP’s attempt to dominate women’s lives by denying us our reproductive rights.

For example, the House committee to close down Planned Parenthood after 11 other investigations showed no fault for the organization that operates thousands of women’s clinics nation-wide. The only indictments related to the discredited doctored videos produced by extremists were for the anti-choice activists.

We could subtitle the committee “Baby Parts,” which is how Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) referred to the issue, but the issue  is called the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” despite the fact that the subject is fetal tissue—not infants. The hearing’s focus was on a legal act since 1970, the ethics of donating fetal tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research that has resulted in vital medical breakthroughs. This donation has nothing to do with whether women have abortions, but the choice by chair, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), to feature people hostile to abortion shows her political bent.

Two people were allowed to testify about the facts of the case. R. Alta Charo, a professor at University of Wisconsin’s Law School and the School of Medicine & Public Health, said, “Federal review has repeatedly found that the option to donate tissue has no effect on whether a woman will choose to have an abortion.” She added that the Center for Disease Control has requested fetal tissue donations to speed up its study of Zika, the virus linked to severe brain defects in thousands of newborns. “The absence of this kind of research could lead to more abortions” by women who find out their fetus has been affected by the disease. “If we cut off this research, we’re facing a global emergency,” Charo said.

A serious difference of opinion on the committee, with the Republicans winning, was whether to issue subpoenas to medical researchers instead of disbanding. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked why the committee is demanding names of researchers and medical students dealing with fetal tissue and pointed out that publicizing their names could “endanger their lives” from attacks from anti-abortion extremists. Blackburn said that the committee has the right to do this but refused to give any reasons for why the committee needed these names. Pointing out the shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic and explaining the committee members would be “complicit” in murders of researchers had no influence on the eight GOP members who outnumbered the six Democrats. The gunman who shot 12 people, killing three of them, explained his actions by saying “No more baby parts.”

The Democrats at the hearing called the committee’s actions a witch hunt. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) compared Blackburn’s investigation into researchers and doctors to former Sen. Joe McCarthy’s (R-WI) abusive tactics 60 years ago. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) said that those burned at the stakes “are our scientists, who hold future medical breakthroughs in their hands [and] brave women’s healthcare workers who are simply trying to care for their patients.” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) said, “This is not an objective hearing. This is a debate against a woman’s right to chose.” Rep. DelBene summarized the day’s events with this question: “Do you think ideology should shape the rules about scientific research?”

On the same day as this House travesty, the remaining eight U.S. Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, concerning the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the nation. If the court decides to rule on the case this year, it will need five votes to overturn the Texas law but just four to make the laws uncertain in other states. Justice Antonin Scalia would certainly have voted to uphold the Texas law, but he is no longer on the court.

Four of the justices hearing the case, three of them women, seemed suspicious of the claim that the law was to protect women’s health because of unreasonable mandates for women’s clinics to turn them into “ambulatory surgical centers.” Stephen Breyer pointed out that colonoscopies, which don’t need to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center, are 28 times more likely to have complications than abortions. Elena Kagan asked the Texas attorney about this, but he had no response. Then she pointed out that liposuction actually has greater complications. Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked why a dilation and curettage associated with a miscarriage can be performed in a doctor’s office whereas a basically identical D&C for an abortion must be performed in an ambulatory surgical center.

The swing vote for a majority comes from Anthony Kennedy, who shifts back and forth from finding abortion “icky” (Gonzales v. Carhart) and wishing to keep some vestige of abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). After statements that Texas imposed heavy burdens on clinics performing abortions but not on facilities performing riskier procedures, Kennedy suggested that the law creates an “undue burden,” a criterion, determined in Casey, that could result in striking down the law. A Kennedy concern was that the law would result in more women having surgical abortions rather than mediation abortions, a situation that he said “may not be medically wise.”

The uncertainty of the court’s decision comes from the claim that admitting privileges requirements cannot be determined at this stage of litigation. In discussing this procedural issue, Kennedy suggested returning the case to the lower court for additional fact-finding. To block the pro-choice faction, Justice Samuel Alito suggested the requirement of very specific information or challenges to each line of the many pages of regulations individually. Alito noted, “It will be work,” and the burden falls on abortion providers and their advocates.

If the Texas laws go into effect, the state will have fewer than ten women’s clinics for 5.4 million women of childbearing age, many of whom live 200 miles away.  The attorney general defending Texas law said that women who live more than 100 miles from a clinic can just go across the border into New Mexico. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found that “odd” because “New Mexico doesn’t have any surgical ASC requirement, and it doesn’t have any admitting requirement.” Kagan asked if Texas could demand that all clinics conform to Massachusetts General to increase health benefits “because MGH, it’s a great hospital.”

Texas laws are proposed in many red states throughout the country and drafted by Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group that, according to its website, “works to advance life issues through the law and does so through measures that can withstand judicial obstacles so that pro-life laws will be enforced.”

Missouri initiated both laws under discussion in the Supreme Court, mandating clinics performing abortions be outpatient surgical centers in 1986 and requiring doctors have privileges at a nearby hospital in 2005. By now, the state has only one clinic, making it one of five states in the nation in this situation. If the court strikes down these laws in Texas, other states may lose them. States have passed over 200 TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws within the past five years, including Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period. The claim is always that the laws protect women, and the claim is always false.

Two laws that Missouri  lost are spousal consent for an abortion and second trimester abortions to be performed in a hospital. The state did block abortions in public facilities, for example the University of Missouri’s medical school in Kansas City. In accordance with religious beliefs, laws signed by then Gov. John Ashcroft in 1986 stated, “The life of each human being begins at conception.”

Also last week, seven of eight justices blocked a Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital rights within 30 miles of the clinics. In this case, June Medical Services v. Gee, Clarence Thomas was the only dissent. The order blocking the Louisiana law began with 14 important words: “Consistent with the Court’s action granting a stay in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole.” In short, they criticized the 5th Circuit Court for ignoring the high court’s previous stay orders if the lower court “cannot discern the underlying reasoning” behind those orders and rebutted the lower court’s logic on its own terms.

This order may show that the Supreme Court opposes the 5th Circuit Court’s efforts to eradicate Roe v. Wade. And Scalia is not there to protect laws that violate women’s reproductive rights.

 

August 19, 2015

Lawmakers Learn Sexism in School

Republican lawmakers have a solution for legislators who can’t keep their hands off interns: just make the interns—female, of course!—follow an “intern dress code.” The idea, promoted by Republicans, came to a screeching halt after Democrats’ disgust, social media firestorms, and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill’s ire, but it got a lot of publicity and made Missouri Republicans look even more misogynistic than they’ve appeared in the past.

McCaskill’s letters to the lawmakers promoting the idea pointed out its sexism, stating that it “reeks of a desire to avoid holding fully accountable those who would prey upon young women and men seeking to begin honorable careers in public service.” She knows whereof she speaks: McCaskill was harassed when she was a legislative intern decades ago.

The issue went viral after House Speaker John Diehl, a “family values” conservative, was forced to resign because his sexually suggestive texts with a 19-year-old House intern became public. That was two months before state Sen. Paul LeVota resigned because two interns accused him of sexual harassment.

A request for reviewing a proposed new “intern code” resulted in the answer, “intern dress code.” Another representative agreed, emailing his colleagues:

“We need a good, modest, conservative dress code for both the males and females. Removing one more distraction will help everyone keep their focus on legislative matters.”

A third Republican, this one a woman, supported the idea by stating that dress codes are common in the workplace.

Sanity returned, however, when another representative asked, “We’re really not going to require interns to dress so we’re less distracted, are we?” He added, “All we need is a code of ethics and a penalty provision.” Another response got to the crux of the matter: “The finger is being pointed at the young, female interns. [The dress code should be] “the same as for everyone in the House.”

For the information of all those conservatives who think that female interns are at fault for all the infidelity, a handbook for interns already has a dress code:

“Those engaged in [lawmaking] must dress professionally and appropriately. Men are required to wear a jacket and necktie for admission to the side galleries of the House Chamber. Women should dress in appropriate business attire (such as dress, suit, dress slacks and jacket).”

As one representative said, the problem is “harassing interns,” not a dress code. He added, “If my plaid jacket or the sight of a woman’s bare knee distracts you from your legislative duties, I would look for other work.”

Dozens of women—including current and former interns, legislative aides, lobbyists and lawmakers—have told the Kansas City Star that sexual harassment in the Capitol is commonplace. One of them claimed that the prevalence of this harassment “has nothing to do with what a female wears. This is not the 1950s. Harassment in the workplace is illegal and a woman’s attire does not give anyone the right to harass, regardless if they feel distracted.”

Taylor Hirth and Alissa Hembree, the interns who blew the whistle on LeVota’s alleged sexual harassment, released a joint statement expressing disappointment in the newly proposed intern code:

“Suggestions requiring certain GPAs, increased supervision and mandatory dress codes suggest that the interns are lacking in quality, knowledge, or character and are in some way to blame for the harassment they experience. Additionally, it implies that those perpetuating this behavior are unable to control their own behaviors.”

In an opinion piece, Mary Sanchez took on the misogynists:

“Gentlemen of Jefferson City, please refrain from veering off track.

“There is one sure way to end the sexist, slovenly behavior of some male politicians toward female college interns and other women working in, or elected to, our state capital. Demand that men behave properly. Focus there….

“The proposal [for a new dress code] was a centuries-old patriarchal paradigm: Shift the guilt so that the woman is chastised and monitored, lest she lead the innocent man astray. As if the sight of a knee uncovered unleashes a torrent of hormones that men simply cannot control.

“The errant male politicians need to change. Not the women who have been forced to deal with the juvenile antics of some representatives, senators and lobbyists.

“And yet the idea to focus on the women’s behavior, via their dress, was among the fastest replies to sprout. It’s backward thinking. Worse, it comes from people who make laws for the rest of us. As much as I’m a stickler for appropriate business dress for both men and women, this misses the point.

“Men should have been offended too. The idea assumed that they are weak, unable to control themselves at the sight of an attractive woman. It implied that men will be men. And it’s up to the women to be on guard.

“The onus is on the elected officials to behave with respect for themselves, the intern, the political office that they hold. College interns are there to learn about good government, not to prop up some middle-aged man’s faltering ego….

“The most effective means to curb sexism in Jefferson City will likely occur informally. Sexual harassment at the capital will cease to be a problem when men hold other men accountable.”

Men learn the belief that women should be responsible for controlling the male libido early on. School dress codes are meant to protect males, both students and faculty, by keeping girls covered up. One example is Woodford County High School (Kentucky) where Stacie Dunn’s daughter Stephanie was sent home for showing her collarbone that “may distract their male class mates.” Dunn took a scarf for her daughter to cover up the offensive collarbone, but the principal sent her home anyway for giving him “an attitude.” Apparently, the scarf still didn’t cover enough.

stephanie

Superintendent Scott Hawkins tried to justify the dress code because it had been in effect for over 10 years. He said, “The whole idea behind the dress code is to make sure you have a safe learning environment and that’s what we’re trying to create.” In Kentucky, dress codes are set by school districts and not separate campuses.

Last March, student Maggie Sunseri made a documentary of interviews with female students and school principal, Rob Akers. In the 33-minute film, “Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code,” the 33-minute film Girls said they felt embarrassed and ashamed after being “called out” for “revealing” outfits. They also talked about having trouble finding acceptable clothing and being forced to miss class. Rules weren’t uniformly enforced, according to the interviewees.

Akers justified the removal of distraction as the reason for dress codes because “guys would make inappropriate statements.” The girls, however, said it was unfair to limit their clothing instead of dealing with the boys who harassed them. “It sends the message to boys that it’s all girls’ fault, basically—any reaction or any action that they do is the girl’s fault,” one girl said in the film.

Sunseri said her film was about “the underlying message behind a code that tells young women to cover up and young boys that they can’t control themselves.” The 16-year-old high school junior said the dress code is sexist toward both girls and boys in that it “perpetuates the notion that a woman’s body is inherently more sexual than a man’s body, and that young boys’ natural tendencies are to harass or assault women.”

No wonder some male Missouri lawmakers cannot control their libido: they may never have seen a collarbone.

 

March 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, ‘Obamacare’

Today is the Affordable Care Act’s fifth birthday. For five years, most of the GOP legislators have been making predictions about the law’s leading the entire country to wrack and ruin. The following dozen failed predictions show how all these people have been wrong:

happy birthday Failed Prediction #1 – Americans won’t enroll in the ACA: The demand was so great that the website sometimes crashed from the heavy usage. About 8 million people signed up for private insurance coverage in 2014, and the number rose to 11.4 million in 2015. While it was hard to sign up for health care on the exchanges last year, it was harder to be uninsured or underinsured.

Failed Prediction #2 – The ACA won’t meet its enrollment goals: In its first two years, enrollment totals exceeded preliminary projections.

Failed Prediction #3 – Insurers will want no part of the ACA system: Many insurers see the ACA as a major growth opportunity that lets them expand in the individual market.

Failed Prediction #4 – The ACA will cause the economy to suffer and kill jobs: In one press conference, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) used the phrase “job-killing” an average of every two minutes while talking about the ACA. Yet the U.S. has had 59 consecutive months of job growth since October 2010, the longest stretch of time in history.  National data also shows no indication of employers hiring people under 30 hours a week to avoid the ACA insurance mandate. The average length of the work-week, which dropped during the recession, recently matched pre-2010 levels. Using interviews with major U.S. employers, Bloomberg found that the law “is putting such a small dent in the profits of U.S. companies that many refer to its impact as “not material” or “not significant.” It decided that “the biggest entitlement legislation in a generation is causing barely a ripple in corporate America.”

Failed Prediction #5 – People who enrolled wouldn’t pay their premiums: Again the GOP was wrong. Five months into last year, over 91% of the 8 million consumers who enrolled through an ACA exchange marketplace paid their premiums.

Failed Prediction #6: People would see exorbitant premiums: Those who qualify for tax credits through the insurance exchange pay an average of $82 per month for premiums—one-fourth of the expenditure without financial help. More people who changed from individual insurance to exchanges have lower premiums.

Failed Prediction #7 – Premiums will shoot up next year: State-by-state information shows that more insurers coming to the market are pressuring prices to go down. In 2015, premiums for the ACA’s mid-level plans rose by an average of 2 percent. In 48 major cities, prices for these benchmark plans actually fell by 0.2 percent, compared to the 10-percent increases before the ACA.

Failed Prediction #8 – The ACA helps only those with coverage: Republicans are wrong.

Failed Prediction #9 – The ACA will lead to a “net loss” on overall coverage: Boehner argued that fewer people had health insurance after the health law’s insurance expansion than prior to it, but the uninsured rate has dropped by one-fourth. In Minnesota it’s gone down by 40 percent, and in some cities the number will shrink by 60 percent in cities with expanded Medicaid. People who would not get subsidies still got the same insurance plans by going to an insurance broker. Boehner also ignored the expansion of 9.1 million enrollees on Medicaid.

Failed Prediction #10 – The ACA will lead to higher deficits and a weaker fiscal footing for the nation: The GOP, the party that actually raises the deficit, told the country that “Obamacare” would “bankrupt” the country. In April 2014, the Congressional Budget Office reduced its budget forecast by $100 billion, less than it expected to spend during the first projection in January 2010. The CBO reduced its 10-year estimate of ACA cost by 20 percent and its Medicaid costs attributable to the law by 8 percent, partly because people with health insurance no longer rely on the emergency room for health care.

Failed Prediction #11 – Americans will end up hating the coverage they receive through the ACA: A new Gallup poll shows that 71 percent find their coverage through exchanges to be good or excellent, and another 19 percent said the coverage was fair. Only 9 percent gave it a poor rating.

Failed Prediction #12 – “Obamacare” will mostly sign up people who already have insurance:  A Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that 57 percent of enrollees previously lacked insurance.

More failed projections: there is no “death spiral,” or “death panels,” or “rate shock.” Not one prediction has lived up to scrutiny. And not one prominent Republican is willing to admit the failed predictions or even explanations for these mistakes and misjudgments. Instead, they’re still busy trying to repeal the law.

Facts will not change the minds of many in opposition, as Jonathan Chait pointed out:

“Suppose you strongly objected to the idea that your city should own a bunch of buildings where people can go borrow books for free. (Some people do!) If you couldn’t persuade a majority of fellow citizens of your conceptual objections to libraries, you might try arguing that the library scheme was doomed to collapse in cost overruns, or that nobody would ever use them, or that shelves of heavy books would be routinely toppling over and killing small children. But the fact is that running buildings where people can check out books, and running exchanges where people can purchase basic health insurance packages, are both things that governments can do.”

One GOP complaint is that “Obamacare” helps only the poor. It is true that the poorest people get free Medicaid, and those up to an income of $94,000 a year for a family of four can get tax credits. People who receive insurance from their employees are having their coverage paid by “other people’s money.”

Employer-sponsored insurance get tax deductions, giving the largest benefits to those who earn the most money as compared to the ACA which gives the most to those who earn the least. For example, newly-announced presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) premiums, up to $40,000 for the year for his family, were paid by his wife’s employer, Goldman Sachs. Cruz will be shopping for health insurance because his wife has taken an unpaid leave while he runs for president.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) may have summarized the GOP complaints with this comment on the floor of the Senate: “It’s time for the White House to stop celebrating [the ACA] and start thinking about the people.” Huh?

What’s ahead for the Affordable Care Act?  After voting dozens of time to repeal the ACA, the GOP is trying to pass a budget that would double the uninsured rate and eliminate $1 trillion in tax revenue that pays for the law. Republicans have no plan to help the millions of families losing affordable medical care if they succeed. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has only one suggestion: he urged state lawmakers to stop state insurance exchanges if the Supreme Court rules that this as a requirement for the ACA. That’s what he told state legislators last week during a conference call organized by the conservative think tank Foundation for Government Accountability.

If the Supreme Court were to rule for mandated state exchanges, subsidies in the mostly blue states would continue while millions of consumers in GOP-run states would go without. Michigan and Ohio are intending to set up the exchanges that Ryan warns against because no one should do what the White House wants, even if it puts constituents in jeopardy.

Missouri is a prime example of problems with GOP legislators. GOP legislators have threatened to filibuster any Medicaid expansion bill and Bob Onder, a new state senator, has proposed a bill to keep an insurance company from selling policies in the state if it accepts federal subsidies sold on the federal health exchange. The state refuses to accept billions of federal dollars to offer Medicaid coverage to approximately 300,000 uninsured residents. Onder said, “To expand Medicaid would only put further stress on a system that’s already strained,” Onder said. A single mother with two children must make less than $3,700 to get Medicaid, and rural hospitals are facing either huge cutbacks or closure because the state refuses Medicaid expansion.

aca cowThe GOP-led legislature, however, has passed a bill to insure cows in the state. It would subsidize up to 70 percent of farmers’ premium payments for dairy insurance. The House passed it by 110 to 49, and the Senate did better at 31-2. Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D-MO) called it the “Affordable Cow Act” because insurance subsidies for cows are fine but “not for people.”

Maybe some day, Republicans will figure out that “Obamacare” should be called “GOP Cares.”

Republican_Obamacare

February 20, 2013

Who Elected These People!?

The U.S. Representatives and Senators have gone home to tell their constituents what a great job they’re going while state legislators continue to spread their craziness in their capitols–all from the party that claimed they wanted to increase jobs and help the economy.

Former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who served six terms and left in 2009, has admitted that he fathered an illegitimate child with Michelle Laxalt, the daughter of former Nevada Gov. and Sen. Paul Laxalt (R) and a top Washington lobbyist.  She raised Adam, their son, as a single parent and continually praised Domenici for his character and “integrity.” This story might not be important if Dominici had not supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment for covering up his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. According to Dominici, “I have concluded that President Clinton’s actions do, indeed, rise to the level of impeachable offenses that the Founding Fathers envisioned.” Domenici also voted for the sanctity of the Defense of Marriage Act.

In his appearance on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came out with the real reason that he wants to destroy the economy by continuing the sequester. After Chris Wallace asked him if Graham really wanted to slash Head Start programs for 70,000 children, cut 2,100 food inspectors, and eliminate $900 million in loan guarantees for small businesses, Graham said that he would do it to get rid of Obamacare.

The supposedly kinder, gentler House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) struggled to explain the reason behind removing health care from people who need it on Meet the Press a week ago. Immediately after he talked with great sympathy about a 12-year-old child who has had cancer for 11 years, he moved, without segue, to how the child will benefit from lowering the deficit. Somewhere he missed the point that without health care, the child will die.

Virginia’s Gov. Bob McDonnell, once a possibility for vice-president until his proposed title meant “vaginal probe,” is following private industry to cheat employees. He’s limiting the number of hours for state employees to 29 per week to avoid paying for Obamacare, assuming that he can save $110 million a year in health care benefits. McDonnell failed to take into consideration the money that these people without insurance will cost in emergency care. Adjunct faculty in higher education may lose a third of their current wages. Teaching an almost full course load,  they are paid a one-time fee, but considered hourly wage employees. My question for VP McDonnell: will you also limit your weekly work load to 29 hours?

Virginia is known for other mind-boggling activities. Not only did Del. Robert G. Marshall (R) propose the idea of the commonwealth making its own money—because, of course, the United States is going to collapse, but the plan passed by a two-thirds majority earlier this month. Saner minds prevailed in the Senate that voted it down, perhaps in part because the U.S. Constitution does not allow states to have individual currency. Yet there are enough people in one of the original 13 states that believed this could be workable.

The Thirteenth Amendment, adopted in 1865, abolished slavery. This year, 148 years later, Mississippi made the vote unanimous. Although the state’s legislature voted in 1995, 120 years later, to do so, they failed to notify the Office of the Federal Register of that legislative action. This month they did so.

Republicans want freedom—or so they say. Missouri state Rep. Mike Leara (R) has proposed legislation making it a felony for lawmakers to so much as propose bills regulating guns. It provides that “[a]ny member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.” Like many other anti-gun law people, Leara, in ignoring the constitutional Speech and Debate clause, thinks that the U.S. Constitution is composed of only the Second Amendment.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (Indiana) is introducing a measure calling for a convention where states could propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution. His goal is to keep Congress from taxing and regulating interstate commerce. Article V of the U.S. Constitution permits this but only if two-thirds of all state legislatures demand the convention. Indiana conservatives criticize Long because he is preventing votes on measures he calls “blatantly unconstitutional.” The state’s house speaker Brian Bosma said he will carry Long’s measure if it reaches his chamber.

You can’t make up this stuff. Montana State Rep. Jerry O’Neil (R) is sponsoring a bill to allow defendants to “bargain with the court” to receive “corporal punishment in lieu of incarceration.” The bill would apply to not just misdemeanor crimes, but also felonies, though the bill requires that the “exact nature of the corporal punishment to be imposed” be “commensurate with the severity, nature, and degree of the harm caused by the offender.” John S. Adams, who covers the Montana legislature for the Great Falls Tribune, wrote, “Republican leadership has been doing its best to tamp down any potential bills the other side might use to embarrass the GOP as they work to craft a budget. This one apparently didn’t get tamped.” We can guess that Karl Rove’s new group won’t be funding O’Neil.

Another politician who probably won’t get Rove’s support is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who told 18-year-old undocumented student Jessica Bravo, “I hate illegals.”  She made an appointment to talk with him because she “wanted to explain that I have no other home than Costa Mesa, I wanted to speak for all those in my community who are too afraid to talk about their status.” When she told Rohrabacker her status, he became angry and shook his finger at her. As she left his office, Bravo told reporters that he asked if she had registered for the meeting. “Well, now I know where you live,” he had told her threateningly.

And scratch Rep. John “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) off Rove’s list. Yesterday, in talking about the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) which the House has yet to act on, Duncan said, “Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can.” Despite his offensively ignorant sexist statement, he isn’t sure whether he will support VAWA.

Top on my list of stupid statements, however, comes from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in her outrage against raising the minimum wage to $9.00, as President Obama suggested in his State of the Union address. She began with the argument that young workers couldn’t learn responsibility as she did as a teenage retail employee in Mississippi:

“I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.”

To those who think that $2.15 an hour isn’t much, like Blackburn does, consider that the $2.15 an hour she made between 1968 and 1970 is now worth between $12.72 and $14.18. Forty-five years ago, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.

Blackburn’s statement may be matched only by former Rep. Ron Paul’s appeal to the United Nations. The father of Libertarian Sen. Rand Paul is known for his anti-UN position: “American national sovereignty cannot survive if we allow our domestic laws to be crafted by an international body.” The owners of the domain name RonPaul.org, his own followers, have offered him the domain free along with their mailing list of 170,000 email address.  He turned them down and filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. Maybe they’ve settled: the link for the PDF of the complaint doesn’t work.

Right now, polling puts approval of Congress at 15 percent, four percent lower than a month ago. At that time, Congress was lower than used car salesmen, root canals, colonscopies, and cockroaches. It probably still it. Have a nice time talking to your constituents, Congresspeople!

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