Nel's New Day

August 24, 2022

Primaries – August 24, 2022

With two more Tuesdays of primaries before the general election, Florida voted for all its candidates, New York cleaned up candidates for state and federal districts after the map had to be redrawn, and Oklahoma decided 11 GOP runoffs. No Democratic runoffs were necessary because all those elections had winners with at least 50 percent, and five legislative races were settled because of no competition from another party.  

The primary in the Empire State is the second in just eight weeks because the state Supreme Court ruled the earlier revised maps were unconstitutional. ordered the redrawing of district maps because the revised ones were unconstitutional. On June 28, 2022, New York Democrats voted for Gov. Kathy Hochul to be their candidate this fall, but congressional and state senate decisions were made with the vote on August 23.

In a special election for New York’s 19th Congressional District, voters selected Democrat Pat Ryan despite positive polling for Republican Marc Molinaro. Ryan replaces Rep. Antonio Delgado (D), the new state lieutenant governor, and will run in the fall for a full term in the newly redrawn 18th District. His campaign on access to abortion makes his win “a huge victory” for Democrats in a “bellwether” district,” the first election to use this campaign issue, according to Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman. Ryan also won by over three percent in a district that went for President Joe Biden by only 1.5 percent.

In New York’s conservative 23rd Congressional District, GOP Joe Sempolinski’s win was narrower than expected, 53 to 47 percent, in a district DDT won by 12 points in 2020. Sempolinski will not be running for the full term this fall. 

Florida:

Current Gov. Ron DeSantis, unopposed in the GOP primary, will run against former Gov. Charlie Crist, currently a U.S. representative who changed parties in 2011 after his gubernatorial election in 2007, moving first to unaffiliated and then to Democrat. With almost 60 percent of the vote, Crist defeated three opponents. His victory speech showed his campaign against DeSantis; Crist is running on “fundamental freedom,” including “a woman’s right to choose” in a time of “extremist” Republicans, who “want to turn back the clock on our freedom.” In opposition to DeSantis, Crist said he will make voting easier and reinstate legally elected Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, fired by DeSantis for a declaration he wouldn’t prosecute women seeking an abortion and replaced him with an ally. Another Crist campaign issue is DeSantis’ refusal to call out GOP Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez for suggesting Cubans “illegally” in the state should be bused to Delaware.

Anna Paulina Luna, who brought the most money to the campaign with $1.9 as well as DDT’s endorsement, won Crist’s current 13th Congressional District that he’s leaving to run for governor. The district is predicted to turn red.

Val Demings defeated her three opponents with almost 85 percent of the vote. She faces GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, who was uncontested in his primary. Her former blue district picked Gen Z Afro-Cuban Maxwell Frost, 25, for the Democratic candidate over former Reps. Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, who had been in prison for mail and tax fraud, as well as seven other candidates. If he wins in the blue district, Frost will be the first Gen Z member of Congress. 

Rep. Daniel Webster won the GOP primary for the 11th Congressional District, setting off histrionics from competitor and self-described “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer, 29, who lost by six points. “I’m not conceding, because I’m a winner,” Loomer declared, pushing falsehoods of election fraud against other Republicans. A conspiracy theorist and contributor to Alex Jones‘ far-right conspiracy media platform Infowars, she has been banned by mainstream social networks Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Medium; payment platforms Paypal, Venmo, GoFundMe and Chase; ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft—even the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC. On Loomer’s Telegram channel, a supporter wrote, “OUR ENEMIES EAT BABIES.” She received over 37,000 votes in a district from Tampa east, including the huge, predominantly GOP retirement development The Villages.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, DDT-endorsed and under investigation for sex trafficking, won the GOP primary in the First Congressional District. His opponent in November is Rebekah Jones, fired from the Department of Health for her unwillingness to falsify COVID numbers.

School boards are where DeSantis won big time in Florida: at least 21 of his 30 hand-picked “parent-centered,” anti-woke candidates won their elections. Nonpartisan school boards are gone. The school district with 45,000 students in Sarasota County flipped to DeSantis’ conservative majority, 4-1. They plan leaving “CRT out of the classroom,” keeping “boys out of girls’ bathrooms and locker rooms,” and “sexual education focused on biology, not pleasure or gender theory.”

Florida’s turnout was light, perhaps 25 percent of registered voters.

New York: 

DDT is now not only endorsing sure candidates but also Democrats, in this case two incumbent representatives running against each other in the same district—Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler—and the lead counsel for his impeachment, Dan Goldman. In all three cases, he lavishly praised the candidates despite his recent attack against Goldman. Maloney leads a House Oversight Committee investigation into DDT’s storage of documents at Mar-a-Lago, and Nadler leads the House Judiciary Committee. DDT won two out of three.

Rep. Jerry Nadler defeated Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the 12th Congressional District, perhaps because of how the map was drawn.

Dan Goldman, the richest candidate in the race for the 10th Congressional District, put $4 million of his own money into the race. Among the dozen candidates, Goldman received over 25 percent of the vote, beating another incumbent from another district, Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Black gay man going to the U.S. House after his win in the last election. Heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, Goldman, an MSNBC analyst, was endorsed by the New York Times.

Rep. Sean Maloney won the Democratic candidacy in the 17th Congressional District where Jones was the incumbent. He was supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Bill Clinton while his Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and progressive organizations supported the opponent, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. Maloney chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Oklahoma:

Ally Seifried defeated Christian Nationalist Jarrin Jackson for GOP state senate candidate, known for his anti-Semitic statements. Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, who claims she “absolutely denounces bigotry in all its forms,” endorsed Jackson. Outrage caused Lake to rescind her endorsement.

Gloria Banister defeated Scott Esk, another bigot, in state House District 87. In 2013, while running in another election, he said “homosexuals” should be executed and repeated his sentiment the next year, using the Old Testament to justify his comments, when he advocated stoning gays. He said his position just “makes me a Christian” to “the voters of House District 87.”

As the counting for one federal House member from Alaska in a ranked-vote voting grinds on, Democrat Mary Pertola is 13,000 votes ahead of two GOP competitors—including former Gov. and VP candidate Sarah Palin. Alaska gave Palin a 37 percent approval rating

According to FairVote, an elections nonprofit, primaries can be divided into three categories: open primaries, in which voters choose any party’s primary no matter their voter affiliation; closed primaries, in which voters are restricted to the primary of their registered party; and semi-closed primaries, in which voters vote in only the primary of their registered parties unless they are unaffiliated and can choose whichever party election they choose. Twenty states have open primaries, and 10 states have closed primaries but some of them allow voters to change their registration on election day. Ten states also require a majority of votes instead of a plurality; without a majority, the top two candidates return for a runoff. Two states, Alaska and Maine, have a ranked-choice vote system.

The Supreme Court announcement that it was overturning Roe v. Wade came almost exactly in the middle of primary season, with 24 primaries after June 24. Since that date, states, especially red ones, have seen a surge in women registering to vote with the numbers far greater than for men registering, especially where reproductive rights are at risk. Kansas women out-registered men by 40 percent with 70 percent of new registrants women. Michigan women out registered men by 8.1 percent, and Wisconsin women have almost doubled that percentage.

Another phenomenon is the shift in support for reproductive rights by Latinx in the U.S. In 2019, only 45 percent favored abortion legalization in almost all cases. In a recent poll, 76 percent of Latinx agreed with this statement:

“No matter what my personal beliefs about abortion are, I think it is wrong to make abortion illegal and take that choice away from everyone else.”

Subgroups of Latinx supported the statement by majorities: Catholics, 76 percent; non-Catholic Christians, 68 percent, Republicans, 55 percent; Latino, 72 percent; and Latina, 85 percent. Nineteen percent listed abortion as one of top important issues, for the first time being one of the top five. Almost 12 million Latinos will likely vote in November 2022, and many of them will be considering their candidates’ positions on women’s reproductive rights.

Two more Tuesdays of primaries: September 6 – Massachusetts; and September 13 – Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

June 30, 2022

Supreme Court Destroys Constitution, Part I

The swearing in of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson onto the U.S. Supreme Court makes two firsts for the high court: she is the first Black woman to be a justice, and the high court has four female justices for the first time in history. The 116th justice, she replaces Stephen Breyer who retired just before her being seated. Jackson was appointed in February and faced rugged confirmation hearings, rife with racism and transphobic questions and statements from Republican senators. The 53-47 vote approving her appointment was largely on party lines. Her swearing-in came immediately after the high court announced a large number of controversial rulings, many of them removing the rights of people in the U.S. [Photo: Jackson takes a judicial oath from Breyer, right, while her husband, Patrick Jackson, holds two bibles.]

On the last day of June, the activist conservative Supreme Court completed its release of opinions, promoting guns, opposing pro-choice, and supporting other pro-death positions. As the six Supremes twist the Constitution for their own purposes, they following their only rationale: they can do it.

Three of this week’s decisions:

West Virginia v. EPA:  Like the multiyear strategy by GOP officials, conservative legal activists, and funders to rewrite law in Roe v. Wade, the GOP-appointed justices curbed the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by ruling that the EPA lacks broad authority to shift energy production from coal-burning power plants to cleaner sources such as solar and and power. As Justice Elena Kagan said in her dissent, the majority didn’t even “see what the new rule says” before ruling. In fact, there was no rule after the D.C. Circuit Court rejected one from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Kagan also wrote:

“The subject matter of the regulation here makes the Court’s intervention all the more troubling. Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

Kagan noted that the conservatives’ impositions on EPA’s authority “fly in the face of the statute Congress wrote.” The majority stated that “it is simply ‘not plausible’ that Congress enabled EPA to regulate power plants’ emissions through generation shifting. But that is just what Congress did when it broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the ‘best system of emission reduction’ for power plants.” Regarding the conservatives’ claim that they are textualists, she wrote, “The current Court is textualist only when being so suits it.”

The current court examines an executive branch policy that was never enacted and follows this court’s pattern of obstructing EPA’s efforts, beginning with staying the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan—an unprecedented action. This rule had set a goal for each state to limit carbon emissions but permitted states to determine how to meet those goals.

The decision is dangerous not only for refusal to delay climate warming in this one respect but also denial of the EPA ability to fight the climate crisis overall. The Clean Air Act, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson and amended by presidents of both parties, has saved “millions of lives and trillions of dollars.” According to experts, the ruling can set the U.S. back years and have deadly, costly impacts. About 25 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity with coal about 20 percent of U.S. electricity.

According to Kagan, the majority isn’t following precedent but making up justifications. “The Court has never even used the term ‘major questions doctrine’ before.” This ruling states that biggest issues should be settled by Congress, not agencies, with no definition for the biggest issues. Justices  assigned technical decisions to unknowledgeable lawmakers instead of experts. The activist conservative justices could also apply the “Major Questions Doctrine” to all areas such as health, safety, and consumer protections. In another area, the six Supremes could block IX regulations, such as handling sexual misconduct allegations.

Noted legal expert Rick Hasen wrote about how the self-identified “textualists” deviate from valid textual analysis, proving Kagan’s point about the new opportunist “textualists.” In West Virginia, they failed to use the words of a statute in context with surrounding text, to read punctuation and grammar, and to examine dictionaries and other literature to determine meaning. Hasen wrote, “Instead, the Justices pull a rabbit out of a hat and avoid the words of the statute almost in their entirety.” The justices’ “substantive cannon … comes from the value judgments of the conservative Justices and from nowhere else. These justices are skeptical of broad administrative power, and of executive power generally. These justices know that in a closely divided Congress, its rulings like this will stymie legislative action on issues like climate change or preventing the spread of Covid. And they are fine with that… So much for honest textualism.”

Ardoin v. Robinson: The six Supremes blocked a district court’s order requiring the Louisiana legislature to draw new congressional maps that included a second majority-Black district. The lower court found that the original map likely violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. The justices put the challenge to the map on hold until deciding a similar dispute involving Alabama redistricting. With the oral argument on October 4, the old racist maps will obviously be used in the 2022 general election. Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards had vetoed the original map, but the legislature overrode him. Blacks comprise almost one-third of the state’s population, but the Supreme Court map has only one of six districts with a majority of Black voters.

On June 6, a federal judge agreed the challengers had a good case and told the legislature to draw a revised map for two majority-Black districts. Louisiana’s secretary of state Kyle Ardoin asked the 5th Circuit Court freeze the judge’s order, but a three-judge panel with appointments by Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump rejected the request. Ardoin appealed, and the panel set oral arguments for early July. On June 17, however, Ardoin asked the Supreme Court to put the district court’s order on hold by June 20, claiming the 5th Circuit Court’s refusal had  thrown the state “into divisive electoral pandemonium” and created “confusion statewide, all of which undermines confidence in the integrity of upcoming congressional elections.” He added that the “racial gerrymander … is particularly ‘odious.’”

Early voting doesn’t begin until October, over two months away, and the original map is the one that is racially gerrymandering. Yet the six Supremes bypassed the Court of Appeals to ignore a very conservative panel of judges and violate a law. The one-page order from the six Supremes provides no explanation of why they stripped half the Black representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Oklahoma—and perhaps other states—now have the authority to prosecute non-Native people committing crimes against a Native person on tribal lands. This conservative majority was only 5-4 with Neil Gorsuch joining the three “liberal” justices. Gorsuch wrote that the Cherokee were promised they would be free from state interference when they were exiled to Oklahoma:  

“Where this Court once stood firm, today it wilts. Where our predecessors refused to participate in one State’s unlawful power grab at the expense of the Cherokee, today’s Court accedes to another’s.”

In 2015, Oklahoma state prosecutors charged Victor Castro-Huerta for the malnourishment and neglect of his five-year-old disabled stepdaughter and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. Castro-Huerta is not Native, but his stepdaughter is. The abuse occurred on the Cherokee Reservation. According to the Supreme Court opinion in McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020), Castro-Huerta could be only federal prosecuted.

The new decision limits McGirt, which declared much of eastern Oklahoma an American Indian reservation and blocked the state from prosecuting Native Americans on these lands which includes much of Tulsa. Instead, offenders are prosecuted in either tribal or federal court. The state is unable to “prosecute anyone for crimes committed on tribal land if either the victim or perpetrator is Native American.” Oklahoma overturns part of McGirt with the opinion that the state can intervene when victims are tribal members.

Native American rights advocate Gentner Drummond won the June 28 GOP primary for Oklahoma AG by defeating John O’Connor, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s choice who he had appointed last year for AG. Drummond had said that he was “not in favor of ripping [away] Native Americans’ rights they have been granted by treaty.” O’Connor called for disestablishing the six recognized Indian Nations in eastern Oklahoma. Drummond also called O’Connor Stitt’s personal attorney, leaving none for Oklahoma.

The ruling applies to all states if Congress doesn’t pass a law opposing that action for a given tribe of reservation. The result is a massive disruption of Indian Country criminal justice, including tribes’ prosecuting non-Indians for intimate partner violence and child abuse. The dissent stated that Congress could easily use a quick reversal as it did in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007).

Lobbyist Grover Norquist said:

“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

The six Supremes have the same goal for the Constitution, and they’ll do it in a much shorter time.

To be continued.

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.

February 13, 2022

Christian Nationalists Take Over U.S.

Last fall, Mike Flynn, the first National Security Adviser for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) who was fired in less than three weeks, said, “We have to have one religion. One national under God, and one religion under God.” Company at the “Reawaken America Tour” included Alex Jones (“the devil’s reign on this planet is coming to an end”), MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, DDT-pardoned Roger Stone, and the incessant “Let’s go, Brandon” chant.

Ohio’s GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel declared, “We should be instilling faith in the classroom, in the workplace, and everywhere in society.” Fired by DDT because he wouldn’t overturn the 2020 election, former AG Bill Barr received an award from the Catholics and blamed all the ills of society on the nation for not being Christian. The rejection of separation of church and state has joined the radicalization of violence as those searching for a theocracy supports a ”Holy War,” just like Islam jihadists.  

In the past year, Republicans, pushed by far-right Christians have rewritten the history of the January 6 insurrection, according to a report from the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. Journalists and researchers found the Christian nationalism behind the January 6 insurrection drives the rewrite. Christian nationalist support for the insurrectionists doubled in the past year with support for prosecuting rioters declining by 20 percent, leading to “future potential violence.” According to Christian nationalists, the United States was created as a Christian nation with its founding documents divinely inspired. “True Americans” are “white, culturally conservative, natural-born citizens.” Almost half the people in the U.S. want to fuse Christianity and civil life.

The report explains that the movement of Christian nationalism into the mainstream came from the “Holy War” coding of the “War on Terror” after 9/11. The insurrection was filled with Christian symbols and multiple statements about God’s hand or voice leading them to break into the Capitol. Proud Boys prayed in the street as “God’s warriors.” At DDT’s rally on January 6, a group of young men, followers of White nationalist Nick Fuentes, waved “America First” flags and chanted, “Christ is King!” Fuentes’ followers use this chant at anti-vax and anti-abortion protest while holding up crucifixes as well as at the America First conference when Fuentes said America will no longer be America “if it loses its faith in Jesus Christ.” He called the U.S. “a Christian nation.” During the U.S. attack on the Capitol, insurrectionists, including Fuentes’ followers, prayed and waved banners reading “Proud American Christian.” Their philosophy includes racism, anti-Semitism, and passionate nationalism.

From believers in Christian nationalism come the lies that Antifa or Black Lives Matter caused the violence on Jan. 6 and DDT is blameless. They believe that the 2020 election was rigged, violence is necessary to save the country, and Democrats are involved in “elite child trafficking.”

A study published last September in Political Psychology shows that Republicans change their moral values to be congruous with DDT. Researchers said:

“Political leadership is moral leadership. Many voters revise even their fundamental views of what they describe as right and wrong based on their perceptions of the candidates they support. Ideas and positions that might have seemed out of bounds can become normalized very quickly if they receive support from political leaders.”

This shift can be a reason for intractable partisan conflict blocking debate: “voters from each party may not even share a common understanding of the candidates in question.” Although the study was for the 2016 election, follow-up work shows even greater polarization for Biden supporters, and “anti-democratic attitudes among Trump supporters.”

Christian nationalists are indoctrinating their students in public schools. In Huntington (WV), students were taken to an assembly during school where they were told to close their eyes, raise their arms in prayer, and turn their lives over to Christ to save themselves from eternal damnation. A Jewish student asked to leave, and the teacher told him he couldn’t because the classroom was locked. Learning of their rights, about 100 students walked out of school in protest.

Oklahoma has a pending bill permitting parents to sue teachers who provide instruction opposing the “closely held religious beliefs of students.” Parents can also demand any book on school shelves with LGBTQ content be removed. Each incident is worth $10,000—like the anti-abortion law in Texas—with a $10,000 charge for every day the book stays on the shelf. Teachers must pay the money “from personal resources” without “any assistance from individuals or groups.” Any teacher who cannot pay will be immediately fired without the right to teach in the state for five years. An offence could be teaching evolution if any students believes in creationism or forms of birth control if a student believes in abstinence. Or correctly explaining the mix of religious and non-religious Founding Fathers.  

Evangelicals have been joined by libertarian billionaires who think tax money should not be wasted on improving “the underclasses” that they “worked so hard to earn.” Put people in these two categories with white supremacist militia leaders who want to expand their white membership by “taking on authorities” and Fox propaganda makes the issue of book burning and anti-teaching a winner. Within the past few months, they have all created a non-existent moral panic leading to hundreds of GOP bills in double-digit numbers of red states to censor books and school curricula.

Accompanying those bills, many of them turned into punitive laws, is the movement to completely privatize public education like the one fighting segregation after the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Supreme Court decision ended racial segregation in public schools. Counties responded by closing their schools and opening “Christian academies,” meaning White only. These schools morphed into Ronald Reagan’s charter schools which began to dominate public education. Washington, D.C. has as many for-profit charter schools as public schools.

Former Secretary of Education and billionaires Betsy DeVos wants to destroy unionized public education because she believes any “reform” is impossible:

“Because wokeness is the left’s religion, ‘banning’ critical race theory or the 1619 Project won’t fix the problem. The liberal education establishment will simply rename, rebrand, or repackage these insidious ideas to get around so-called bans.”

Republicans specialize in creating panics: Islamophobia, birther claims against President Obama, migrant caravans heading to the southern border, “bathroom hysteria” against trans students, etc. The only losers in the current crisis are minorities and youth, and almost all students can’t vote.

The new panic against “history” and education is being twisted into “parental rights,” a strategy that Glenn Youngkin, worth $440 millionaire, used to drop himself into the Virginia gubernatorial seat. Right-wingers, especially Christian fundamentalists, don’t want young people to think for themselves; that’s why they are discouraged from attending higher education. Intellectual curiosity tends to separate from the church that wants them to be obedient to whatever the leadership claims. The “biblical parenting” movement starting in 1970 from James Dobson’s book Dare to Discipline promotes a believe in “the enforced submission of children to absolute authority.” Children are to be “trained,” not educated. Striking children is outlawed in 63 countries but “legal in all 50 states.”

The Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation led the promotion of the term “critical race theory” that outrages some parents in curriculum about racism in history and literature classes. A hate group behind the movement, the white supremacist International Organization for the Family, pushes the authoritarian and patriarchal definition of family. Originally called the World Congress of Families, it excludes any families except a married man and woman with their biological children; the man is the head of the household and the woman the bearer of children. All families must follow this pattern to prevent the “demographic winter,” caused by women in the workplace, abortion, homosexuality, and any other deviations from the “natural family.”

All these mandates are lumped under “parental rights,” a term that blocks education about history, critical thinking skills, literature and art, health education including information about sexuality and gender orientation/identity. Eliminating these elements in education removes young people’s right to expand their horizons and grow up to become healthy adults. The Christian right, however, doesn’t want children to think for themselves, even when they become adults.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the “replacement” for the brilliant jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is leading the conservative majority on the Supreme Court to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. Less than a month after her confirmation, she led the decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, permitting churches to spread COVID throughout the congregation in the name of “religious liberty” instead of complying with state directives for all large gatherings.     

In an earlier case Chief Justice John Roberts had stated that “an ‘unelected federal judiciary’ … lacks the background, competence, and expertise to assess public health and is not accountable to the people.” No longer. As shown in the overruling of vaccine mandates, ignorant conservative justices believe they know all. And the same rulings will occur for book selection and school curricula. Gone is “a neutral law of general applicability” requiring “religious liberty” followers to follow the same laws and rules as everyone else. Religious cases are now being heard in the high court far more often than previously, many of them in shadow dockets without argument—and the rules are weighted in favor of conservatives, especially the Christian right. Thus, conservative religious objectors get exceptions, disfavored groups including “lesser” religions get fewer rights, and the separation of church and state is crumbling.

September 23, 2021

COVID Unvaccinated Leads to Less Health Care, Increased Costs

Over four years ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appointed Michael Flynn as his national security adviser. Flynn lasted three weeks before DDT fired him, ostensibly because Flynn “lied” to VP Mike Pence although there were several other reasons. Before DDT left the Oval Office he pardoned Flynn who had pled guilty to lying to the FBI as well as other multiple charges and who plotted the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Now Flynn stated that the “deep state” (aka people who don’t believe in QAnon conspiracy theories) plans to put COVID vaccine in salad dressing to impose their will on “us.”

Flynn is part of the cabal bringing death to people in the United States through the anti-vax movement. Over a decade ago, one of my friends complained that the Affordable Care Act would kill people because it would cause a shortage of doctors. People didn’t die, however, because millions more people had health insurance. But in 2021, conservatives are killing people because they refuse to be vaccinated.

A huge influx of seriously ill—unvaccinated—people has been inundating the hospitals for months, blocking necessary access for those who need medical care such as dialysis and ventilators as well as for others who have cancer, heart issues, dialysis, etc. from necessary access. Now hospitals are denying this care in at least three states—Alaska, Idaho, and Montana—where hospitals are rationing health care. And all because people refuse to be vaccinated. These three states have declared “crisis standards,” which uses legal protection in prioritizing care. Qualifications include both health issues and roles in society, i.e., higher status for health-care workers or politicians with essential responsibilities. Arizona and New Mexico had declared crisis standards in some hospitals for short periods in 2020.

Only 40 percent of people in Idaho are vaccinated, and the state has no mandated masks or other health requirements. A regional health board just appointed a doctor who called COVID vaccinates “fake.” One hospital still not declaring the crisis standard has delayed elective and nonurgent surgeries and checks vital signs less often. The state’s crisis plan prioritizes children through 17 years old, pregnant women, adults from younger to older, and patients who “perform tasks that are vital to the public health response of the crisis at hand.” Those who don’t meet the standards will receive palliative care. One patient suffering a major trauma was sent 800 miles away to Sacramento.

In Montana one hospital said its ICU was operating at 150 percent, and another said shortage of medications keeps them from treating everyone. Oxygen may be administered without monitoring. People going to Providence Alaska Medical Center emergency room must wait in their cars for care, and the hospital has no more staffed beds. Only 48 percent of people in the state are vaccinated.

Another reason for overloaded hospitals is the myth that Ivermectin will protect people from COVID. In rural Oklahoma, emergency rooms and ambulances are backed up because people are taking doses meant for a 1,000-pound horse. One doctor said that gunshot victims have trouble getting into places where they can get care, and ambulances have to wait at the hospital for beds to open up. Symptoms in minor Ivermectin cases are nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, cramping, and don’t forget the inability to control bowels. Worse than that is vision loss, coming from a medication with no evidence of being effective against COVID. A recent review of 14 Ivermectin studies, with more than 1,600 participants, show no help for preventing COVID, and another 31 studies are still underway. One of the biggest trials, the Together Trial, was stopped on August 6 because Ivermectin was no better at a placebo in preventing hospitalization of a longer stay in the emergency room. The leader of the study said that the study would have been halted earlier for no evidence except for the public interest in the drug.

Even states with more vaccinated people, such as California and Washington, are experiencing the “tipping point” of care as people from those crisis states flood into other areas. Hawaii’s governor signed an order releasing health-care facilities and workers from liability if they must ration health care. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told Idaho Governor to stop “clogging up my hospitals.”

This week, the U.S. averaged 153,000 new covid cases and 1,940 deaths each day. Today, clearly identified COVID deaths are 252 short of 700,000, and 2,228 people died in the past day. The so-called Spanish flu of 1918-19 killed 675,000 people, and fewer than the number of those who died from combat in all the American wars.

  WellSpan Health, a health care system covering South-Central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland reports younger and sicker COVID patients—and  90 percent of them are unvaccinated. Despite this knowledge, the stupidity and ignorance of anti-vaxxers and their leaders continues.

While unvaccinated people block those with vaccinations from hospitals, the latter is paying hospital expenses for the 98 percent of people who want the freedom to infect themselves and others. The average hospitalization cost of between $20,000 and $24,000 with ventilators far more expensive is paid by taxpayers and insurance that increases because of vastly higher premiums. An analysis of data shows 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June, 68,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, and another 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. in August, for a total of 287,000 across the three months. These costs do not reflect the medical expenses of “long-haul” COVID and welfare for those who cannot work because of the aftereffects of the disease that unvaccinated people chose to contract.

Insurance companies, however, are getting fed up with make huge payments for unvaccinated people. Most of the private and group health plans no longer waive “cost-sharing,” co-pays and deductibles, for COVID treatment, including hospitalization. The change could mean thousands of dollars sick people may have to pay. Preventable hospitalization for June through August ran over $5 billion.

This story sounds like satire, but the mind of conservatives can sometimes be hard to fathom.  Breitbart News’ John Nolte talked with Howard Stern about a conspiracy theory that vaccine-believers are using “reverse psychology” to kill off “Trump supporters.” By pushing vaccines, conservatives won’t take them, and they will die.  Nolte wrote:

“Do you want to know why I think Howard Stern is going full-monster with his mockery of three fellow human beings who died of the coronavirus? Because leftists like Stern and CNNLOL and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci are deliberately looking to manipulate Trump supporters into not getting vaccinated. If I wanted to use reverse psychology to convince people not to get a life-saving vaccination, I would do exactly what Stern and the left are doing…. I would bully and taunt and mock and ridicule you for not getting vaccinated, knowing the human response would be: Hey, f**k you, I’m never getting vaccinated! And why is that a perfectly human response? Because no one ever wants to feel like they are being bullied or ridiculed or mocked or pushed into doing anything.”

With religious exemptions from mandated vaccinations growing popular, Arkansas’ hospital system Conway Regional Health System now gives those exemptions only to people who swear off medications and other vaccinations with the same issues as the COVID vaccine. Their objection to put a substance with fetal cell lines into their bodies also applies to over-the-counter medications including Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, aspirin, Lipitor, Senokot, ibuprofen, Maalox, Benadryl, Sudafed, Claritin, Zoloft, etc. People signing up for religious exemptions to COVID vaccines are also prevented from vaccines such as those for measles, mumps, and rubella. All these medications/vaccines and more were developed using fetal cell lines. A religious exemption also lasts as long as it takes the person time to get another job.

The number of people objecting to vaccine mandates is shrinking. Across the U.S. between 53 and 61 percent of people want proof of vaccination for restaurants, hotels, offices or work sites, events with large crowds, and flying, percentages all up from April.

One reason people say they won’t get vaccinated is that it leads to sterility and sexual disfunction. Studies, however, show they are wrong; instead, contracting the virus causes problems in pregnancy, menstrual cycles, erectile performance, or sperm quality. Pregnant women will get infected more quickly without vaccinations. So not getting vaccinated leads to the sexual problems they fear as well as possibly death.

July 17, 2021

Democracy at Risk in Voting Supression

[Updates for COVID: Trying to stop all vaccinations, the state of Tennessee fired the top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, after she included a state law in a public memo last spring: teens in Tennessee have permission to receive medical care without parental consent. A Tennessee Supreme court case made that ruling 34 years ago. Only 38 percent of people in Tennessee are vaccinated, ten percent under the U.S. average. The firing came a week after Fiscus received an anonymous package containing a dog muzzle. 

Unvaccinated people have caused COVID cases in the U.S. to rise almost 70 percent in the past week. Hospitalizations increased 36 percent from two weeks ago, and deaths rose 26 percent for a weekly average. Center for Countering Digital Hate reports that 65 percent of the anti-vax disinformation on social media platforms comes from only a small group of people called the “Disinformation Dozen.” The government can do something about these falsehoods without violating free speech because algorithms can legally be regulated.]

The Cyber Ninjas, starting their fake ballot count on April 23, are still in Arizona to communicate more disinformation about the 2020 election and reinforce QAnon conspiracy theories. Last week, a Maricopa County judge permitted a lawsuit by the watchdog American Oversight to obtain documents related to this thus-far 12-week attempt to find votes for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The judge also dismissed the GOP attempt to combine the American Oversight lawsuit with one from the Arizona Republic’s request for public records.

The fake process was to have been completed within two weeks, but the Ninja’s conspiracy theory leader, Doug Logan, has continued to stall. Now he’s demanding the county’s computer network routers and time to send workers door to door, asking voters if they participated in the election. In addition, he wants images of mail-in ballot envelopes, security keys for administrator-level access to voting machines, a diagram of the county’s router network, and a copy of the county’s voter-registration database. 

Releasing the routers and their passwords would cause significant security risks, according to Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who wrote about risks to “critical evidence,” “private information,” and other “sensitive, confidential data belonging to Maricopa County’s citizens—including social security numbers and protected health information.” GOP supervisors listed problems that would “cripple County operations.”

In early May, the DOJ had told the Arizona Senate their plans to canvass voters by going to their homes could violate federal law. At that time, Fann had put this plan “on hold.” Keeping the ballots in private custody may also violate the law, according to the DOJ although Fann claimed strong security to ensure no ballots or other voting documents were destroyed. Observers have noted serious security problems, and everything the Senate gave the Ninjas has been moved at least four times.

Arizona GOP senators and their president Karen Fann are still insistent on giving Logan what he wants for his “review” of the 3,387,336 ballots already recounted and audited by experienced professionals. At last week’s Judiciary Committee “hearing” about Logan’s requests, only two Republican senators could question Logan and others working on the audit; Democrats could only sit in the audience. Soon after the meeting, the committee GOP vice chair, Wendy Rogers, tweeted, “DECERTIFY THE ELECTION.” Jeremy Stahl gave a complete report on the event in Salon, and Logan and Ben Cotton, head of the data forensics firm CyFIR, presented disinformation throughout the hearing. 

GOP senators want to block the use of Sharpies to mark ballots for the purpose of “election integrity.” People at the fairgrounds a few miles from the capitol are still counting thousands of ballots, but machines for paper counting and stacking paper are giving them trouble as well as not counting as fast as they wanted. 

Logan may want to continue for a variety of reasons: he wants Arizona’s notoriety and money until more states get suckered in, DDT is coming to Arizona on July 24 for a rally and needs a backdrop, and—perhaps most important—the audit appears to have found nothing wrong when it finished its contracted responsibilities three weeks ago. After the Maricopa County supervisors and state Secretary of State Katie Hobbs gave Logan everything he wanted, he resorted to whining about lack of cooperation. With a new set of demands, Logan avows no report until his demands are met. 

After an “examination” of over three million ballots from the 2020 election, workers confused by 182 cases turned them over for review. Four reviews led to charges of voter fraud but none from people trying to vote more than once. Two cases were about Democrats, and the other two about Republicans. Only one potential voter fraud case about a person who might have been registered to vote in another state was found in the 2.1 million votes from Maricopa County, the source of the audit. Several eliminated cases were people stopped from voting more than once. Even if all 182 cases were fraudulent, which they weren’t, and by Democrats, which they weren’t, DDT would still have lost the state by 10,218 votes. Yet DDT claimed that these 182 review cases were “hundreds of thousands of votes or, many times what is necessary for us to have won.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to investigate the Cyber Ninja company with concerns about the “highly unusual effort to undermine faith in the nation’s election system.” Independent election observers allege the pretend “audit” has violated basic audit standards, including breaking basic ballot security protocols and compromising electronic voting machines costing over $2.1 million to replace. The committee will request such documents from the company as past business deals and the current business arrangement with Arizona state Senate Republicans as well as post-election communications with DDT, his administration and campaign officials, and members of his legal teams including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Michael Flynn. Another part of the request is evidence regarding the “fraud” supposedly unearthed or suspected, including bamboo paper ballots and CIA agents involved in any fraud scheme.

Arizona’s Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has asked the state AG Mark Brnovich to investigate election interference by DDT and his allies while ballots were being tallied last fall. Texts and voicemails from the White House, DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and the state GOP chair Kelli Ward attempted to exert political pressure on the Maricopa County’s Board of Supervisors’ GOP members to find a majority of votes for DDT in the state. Brnovich supported the state’s new anti-voting bill on the basis of “election integrity,” the purpose of the proposed investigation. Hobbs asked him to refer the investigation to another law enforcement agency if his ethnical duties are in the way of his probing the issue.

On two occasions after the election, DDT tried to contact GOP Supervisor Clint Hickman; Giuliani also made attempts to contact Hickman, hoping to “get this thing fixed up.” Ward told supervisors “to stop the counting,” to delay certifying the results, and to look into whether voting software added votes for Democrats. When they didn’t obey, she called them “unAmerican” and stated they were playing for the “WRONG team.”

The Arizona “fraudit” has a new tactic: change state law for 2022. Voters may legally fix early ballots within five days after Election Day, but the assistant AG Drew Ensign asked a federal appeals to refuse ones that voters forgot to sign and didn’t fix by the night of the election for the 2022 election.

DDT’s “big lie” about a “stolen election” is still working its way through Georgia’s Fulton County where plaintiffs are running out of options to examine 147,000 ballots. 

DDT’s ally, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano has contacted “several counties” for his probe into their ballots that he describes a “forensic investigation” with sweeping requests—all ballots cast in the 2020 election with “all ballot production, processing, and tabulation equipment” along with various “forensic images” of computer equipment and logs of databases. He also wants information on grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life—a nonprofit receiving an influx of cash from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to provide money to cash-strapped local elections offices across the country. Letters threatened subpoenas if counties failed to comply. Mastriano is considering being a gubernatorial candidate. Democratic State AG Josh Shapiro, also considering a run for governor, said his office will defend counties that choose not to comply.

According to John Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidate, all the state’s voter fraud, under ten cases, was by Republicans who had their dead relatives vote for DDT.

In Oklahoma, where Biden received under one-third of the vote, legislators tried for a “forensic audit” of ballots, but the state’s chief elections official refused, indicating state law does not permit this process by an outside group. In 2020, DDT won every one of 77 counties in the state, and no state or federal candidate has asked for a recount.

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections also rejected the request from the state’s House Freedom Caucus to inspect “randomly selected voting systems for security issues. A major concern is decertification of voting machines that states will not reimburse.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of John Lewis. People who want democracy to continue in the United States are fortunate that the brave are causing “good trouble”—nonviolent protest, activism and left-leaning politics—to protect our land from fascism and dictatorships.

July 19, 2020

Week 182 – Hope for the Future

Throughout the week, I save news giving me hope or just making me laugh. Here are those from the past couple of weeks.

Since the Supreme Court declared almost half Oklahoma’s land is under Native American ruling, one-fourth of oil and gas drillers and 60 percent of refinery capacity operate on reservation land. The Keystone XL pipeline also crosses the Indian country. Regulation for all this moves from oil-friendly Oklahoma to federal and tribal governments. The state’s shale fields were already hard hit with a one-third drop in oil prices this year. The Bureau of Indian Affairs may also have authority over clean-air programs and pipeline grants within the reservation.

Chief Justice John Roberts granted permission for New York DA Cyrus Vance to skip the 25-day waiting period to move forward in issuing a subpoena for DDT’s financial records. Roberts did not grant the same privilege to the House for requests to immediately go forward. In last Thursday’s hearing where DDT’s lawyers gave the same failing arguments and seemed unprepared, a federal judge gave DDT until July 27 to file more challenges to the subpoena. To investigate hush money DDT paid two different women with whom he had affairs, Vance asked for eight years of DDT’s personal and business records from he accounting firm Mazars USA. The firm does not object.

The Supreme Court also ruled against DDT on his DACA program, but he illegally rejects applications and hasn’t even filed for a rehearing with the required 25 days. Also, he consistently changed his mind about moving forward: no executive order, signing a bill to “give [Dreamers] a road to citizenship, no permission for “amnesty” but “want[s] to make people happy.” Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Home Security, refused to remove the website statement that the Supreme Court ruling “has no basis in law.” A federal court has ordered DDT to accept the applications and return the policy to where it was before September 2017.

DDT rescinded his controversial plan to deport all students who are not enrolled in at least one face-to-face class this fall. Lawsuits against DDT had alleged the action violated the Administrative Procedure Act governing rule-making and was a political move to force universities to reopen campuses with classes in person.

After DDT sent his thuggish federal agents to Portland (OR), Oregon’s AG Ellen Rosenblum announced her office will sue federal law enforcement agencies and start a criminal investigation into the agents’ force. She seeks a temporary restraining order stopping them from detaining Portlanders after agents had no probably cause to seize and detain them. Several people destroy DDT’s behavior as “Pinochet-style abducting citizens.” August Pinochet became president of Chile in a junta when he overthrew a democratically-elected leader and became the country’s dictator. Violations of human rights through rape, torture, abduction, murder were common in the 1970s along with Operation Condor, a secret campaign to wipe out the opposition as people were “disappeared.” 

The brutality by federal agents has energized the protest movement and caused protest crowds to grow. On Friday night, a naked woman went up to federal officers line and pointed her finger at them, daring them to shoot. They sprayed pepper balls at the ground inches from her feel. She didn’t move. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the presence of federal agents is “like adding gasoline to a fire.” [Right: federal agents firing pepper spray.] 

Brown also said the deployment of federal officers is “a mere distraction from the president’s failure to lead this nation through a global pandemic. It is a blatant abuse of power by the federal government. They are inappropriately trained [according to DHS]. Their presence is not needed. And frankly they’re exacerbating an already challenging situation. It is absolutely counterproductive to the work we’re trying to do here.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has decided to ban the Confederate flag at military installations by listing flags that can be flown.  With the new policy, the LGBTQ rainbow flag will also be banned. Esper’s memo stated unauthorized flags—like the Confederate flag—are acceptable in museums, historical exhibits, works of art, and other educational programs.

As DDT gives everyone a rosy picture of COVID-19 in the U.S., Senators pass along the opposite image to their constituents—especially vulnerable ones up for re-election such as Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Forty states see surges in infections, and 67 percent of registered voters distrust and disapprove of DDT’s virus information.

During DDT’s first few months, he used the 1996 Congressional Review Act to erase 14 Obama-era regulations, a law used only once previously. According to that law, any regulation not submitted by the agency within 60 legislative days can be fast-tracked.  Thus far this year, DDT signed at least 33 executive orders and plans far more as Democrats eye them for dissolution:  

  • Destroying environmental law signed by Richard Nixon stopping environmental impact requirements for Infrastructure that he has avoided for over years;
  • Preparing another illegal DACA order with the claim the Supreme Court told him to do it;
  • Banning undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census;
  • Eliminating a fair housing regulation designed to block racial disparities in the suburbs;
  • Weakening an Obama-era controls on climate-warming methane pollution.
  • Restricting the type of scientific research to be used to craft environmental and public health regulations;
  • Forbidding retirement investment managers from considering environmental consequences in their financial recommendations;
  • Making asylum even more difficult for migrants;
  • Erasing civil rights protections for transgender patients seeking health care;
  • Allowing homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters corresponding to their gender identity;
  • Stopping persecution for businesses killing birds “incidentally”;
  • Permitting energy firms to use undersea sonic blasts to search for oil, regardless of the impact on ocean mammals’ health.

As of a year ago, judges have overturned at least 70 executive orders, and the GOP Congress has overturned three more. In three years, Earthjustice filed over 100 lawsuits to defend environmental and health protections. Of the settled 49 lawsuits, Earthjustice won 39. Presidential candidate Joe Biden and Democratic leaders have kept a careful eye on the executive orders for a review. DDT believes he is creating new laws when he signs executive orders, but his orders are only implementations of laws by the Executive branch. Orders cannot overturn U.S. laws, but Congress can overturn DDT’s orders.

Hackers have found almost 300 documents in which police shared detailed reports about the threats in protests from far-right extremists attempting to create chaos and disorder instead of DDT’s myth of the “antifa.” Law enforcement intelligence was politicized, causing danger to both protesters and police, according to the communication, because of sensationalization of antifa threats with no substance, a situation not part of the factual material about the boogaloo documents. The disaster lay with the desire of the intelligence to paint the antifa as threatening as the far right although the latter showed no concrete evidence of serious criminal activity. Details about their communication. The good news would be dissemination of DDT’s government manipulation.

On July 1, several civil rights laws went into effect in Virginia:

  • Removing unnecessary abortion regulations.
  • Preventing driver’s licenses suspension over unpaid court fees.
  • Ending the requirement of principals to report to police misdemeanors committed at school.
  • Limiting to $50 what health insurers can charge for insulin.
  • Extending to aspiring Americans in-state tuition at public colleges and driver privilege cards.
  • Banning discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in employment and housing.
  • Banning the practice of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors.
  • Decriminalizing cannabis possession.

DDT received a sad comeuppance this past week. A week ago, he spent his morning retweeting messages from Chuck Woolery, a conservative former game show host who accused health experts of lying about COVID-19’s seriousness. Woolery wrote:

“Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

Woolery continued by claiming there “much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall.” The next day he sent his last tweet for now:

“Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones.”

Woolery deactivated his Twitter account on Wednesday; his son is apparently doing well.

World COVID-19 cases, 14,646,706; deaths, 608,978. USA cases, 3,898,550; deaths, 143,289.

Ending with a bit of humor.  After DDT repeatedly told the world the U.S. would have fewer cases of COVID-19 without testing, Dan Rather offered some assistance to DDT: “We can apparently solve the issue of undocumented immigrants by just not counting them.” DDT could save $20 billion.

July 9, 2020

DDT’s Royal Crown in Jeopardy, Final SCOTUS Decisions

A decade ago, the Supreme Court and the electorate moved the United States toward a low point in its democracy: the Supreme Court ruled unlimited donations for political candidates in Citizens United, and Tea Party voters elected corrupt politicians for gerrymandering. The U.S. expanded oligarchical control and picked Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), interested only in personal wealth and self-aggrandizement, who signed hundreds of executive orders benefiting only himself, not the country. For two years, DDT controlled all three branches of government until Republicans lost faith and put Democrats in control of the house in 2018. 

Supreme Court decisions in the past month have not all appeared to be the highly conservative ones DDT expected when he nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the high court. Until this week, Chief Justice John Roberts leaned away from the four conservative justices in an anti-abortion case although he went with them in allowing abuses of the environment, financial oversight, and independent agencies. A majority of the justices ruled states could not discriminate against LGBTQ employees, protected DACA recipients, and let stand victories for gun safety and sanctuary laws.  

Two rulings today moved democracy back on its path. Even Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who voted against the specific subpoenas for DDT, agreed DDT is not “king of the United States.” DDT lost his claim of complete immunity from the law. One ruling concerns congressional ability to obtain a president’s financial records from third parties, and the other determines whether a president is immune from state criminal investigation. A New York prosecutor can subpoena DDT’s private and business financial records; the second ruling sent the question back to the lower court to match the restrictions placed onto the subpoenas. The wording of the decision means the information will most likely not appear before the November election, but the premise of the U.S. not being a kingdom with a monarch is vital for democracy.

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote:

“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence.’ Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”

Furious, DDT lied in a tweet about “broad deference” in the past “BUT NOT ME.” In another tweet, he yelled about “PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT.” DDT began railing against the judiciary even before the decisions were released to the public. “Not fair,” DDT cried, about the possibility of releasing his tax returns and financial records. Yet he cannot block subpoenas if his action impedes Congress from carrying out its responsibilities; a lower court must “assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena.” DDT cannot protest that the subpoenas will take too much of his time, because the subpoena is for private companies and not to him.

The permission for New York to obtain records also removes any special, heightened standard of proof. Roberts used the ruling that Thomas Jefferson was not immune from a subpoena for records in a trial with Aaron Burr. Another citation came from U.S. v. Nixon: “The President’s ‘generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.’”

The opinion placed these restrictions on subpoenas regarding DDT:

  • Subpoenas cannot be for information searches if other sources are available.
  • Subpoenas cannot be too broad.
  • Lawmakers submitting subpoenas must explain how the information advances potential legislation.
  • Confidentiality does not apply if “executive deliberations” don’t exist. court must “assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena.”

In another win for the people of the United States, the Supreme Court ruled a large portion of eastern Oklahoma, including much of Tulsa, is Indian reservation where state authorities cannot prosecute Native Americans. In the 5-to-4 decision, Gorsuch provided the swing vote. The case, which SCOTUS postponed from last year with a different plaintiff, concerns the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Members of five Indian nations were forced from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama in the 1830s. To take the land for White expansion, the U.S. Army forced-marched the Native Americans on the “Trail of Tears” to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) where the survivors were promised land. Over 3,000 Indians died on the journey.

In the late 19th century, Congress took courts, governments, and laws from the Creek Nation and forced them to change tribal lands into privately-owned allotments for the tribe’s members before selling surplus land to white settlers. Yet Congress never specifically abolished the reservation’s treaty promising the Oklahoma land in perpetuity. In the majority opinion, Neil Gorsuch wrote:

“If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law.”

The Oklahoma decision affects almost half of the state’s population. According to the majority ruling, only Congress, not the courts, can modify treaty agreements and change reservation boundaries. Federal officers, not state authorities, will be in charge of prosecuting tribal members for major crimes on the reservation, but the question remains regarding the authority of state and city governments in regulations such as taxation and zoning. The Oklahoma AG and leaders of five tribal groups—Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations—are negotiating an agreement for “shared jurisdiction” to submit to Congress. The Native American sovereign nations and the state must also deal with thousands Indian prosecutions for over a century. 

In two other decisions, the Supreme Court reinforced DDT’s Christian rule. DDT’s expansion of birth control exemptions for employers who claim religious and moral reasons in opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurance plans and employers except for religious nonprofits must cover contraception without cost sharing. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer voted with the conservative majority only because the Executive Branch has the power to make this mandate. The nation’s support for universal health care has been growing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and this ruling may enlist more support. Ironically, the Supreme Court opposes abortion while opposing access to abortion prevention. A new president in January could rescind the DHS mandate about employers’ moral perception ruling the lives of women, perhaps guiding some women in their voting choice.  

In another ruling today, religious schools can fire teachers or anyone else supposedly acting as “ministers” to the students. One of the plaintiffs was fired because of her age, the other because she had breast cancer. The two cases leave over 126,000 women without free contraception plus with far more at risk with SCOTUS giving DDT permission for exemptions and tens of thousands of people prevented from suing for job discrimination. An earlier SCOTUS decision forces taxpayers to pay for religious schools, meaning taxpayers must pay for discrimination in education. One of the plaintiffs was demoted because she was 63, the other because she had breast cancer. 

The last decision this week referred to “faithless electors,” voting for their own preference in the Electoral College. That practice is now illegal after the SCOTUS ruling, stating representatives must vote according to their state’s majority vote for president. In the majority opinion, Kagan left wiggle room for 18 states not requiring conformity between the popular vote and the agent in the Electoral College as well as the current initiative passed in 15 states and pending in another ten which pledges electors to the winner of the national popular vote instead of their statewide totals. 

David Farris is making suppositions about Roberts preparing for a Biden presidency. The last two nominations have demonstrated the ugliness of Senate Republicans—first the refusal to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for almost a year followed by the GOP manipulation of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. The corruption surrounding the GOP control of the Supreme Court has led to a suggestion that Democrats would enlarge the court if they control the presidency and Senate. Justification might be the appointment of four justices by presidents who lost the popular vote.

Roberts wants to be known for a legitimate court, a difficulty if he needs to vote conservative on an 11-person group of justices. His narrow dance with the Louisiana abortion case kept him from fury about an out-of-control institution from the left although it left him with an unhappy right wing. The end of the 2020 decisions leaves enough liberal victories to quiet those who were highly disappointed with Anthony Kennedy’s disastrous decisions before his 2018 departure. Walking a fine line, Roberts seemed to vote liberal while not really making progressive decisions. Instead, several of the rulings such as DACA and DDT’s financial records merely postponed cases by returning them to lower courts. The abortion ruling invited a conservative assault on women’s rights. Most of the other cases clearly gave control to big business and reinforced voter suppression.

If DDT wins, Roberts can put conservatism into cement; if Biden wins Roberts will continue the veneer of moderation while pushing long-term conservatism, including the overturn of ACA. He’ll copy the last 20 years with one step forward, three steps behind.

COVID-19 in the world on July 9: 12,390,734 cases and 557,416 deaths. And in the United States: 3,219,999 cases and 135,822 deaths. New U.S. cases in the past 24 hours: 61,067.

July 6, 2020

Not All Bad in Week 180

Each year, the Supreme Court is usually finished by the end of June, having dropped all its bombs from the cases it hears. This year, however, the Supreme Court is waiting until July for the first time in 24 years. These are the five biggest ones still not released by July 5:

Subpoenas for Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) financial records: The House wants bank and accountant records to achieve its responsibility of oversight, and New York wants access to DDT’s personal and corporate tax documents. The decision determines whether DDT’s tax returns will see the light of day while he’s in the Oval Office. By denying the subpoenas, the high court will give presidents blanket immunity from criminal process.

Contraception Mandate in Affordable Care Act: The ACA requires most insurance plans and employer to cover preventative care, including contraception, without cost sharing. President Obama allowed religious nonprofits to claim an exemption, but DDT extended that exemption to all companies voicing religious or moral objections. The question is how far to allow Christians to control the U.S.

“Faithless electors” voting for their preference in the Electoral College: The question is whether electors representing their states should be required to select a president based on the states’ votes.

Religious exemptions from discrimination suits centering on parochial schools: Are Catholic schools immune from discrimination suits if they violate the First Amendment safeguards because of religious beliefs. One of the teachers was fired because she had breast cancer. Schools are declaring every employee—teachers, janitors, etc.—“ministers” so schools can claim “ministerial exception” in firing them.

Native sovereignty in Oklahoma: The case concerns whether the state can prosecute a crime by an enrolled member of another tribe on land that could still be classified as a reservation because the government never took action to take it away. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation maintains the reservation was never dissolved and Congress never transferred authority over its land, which includes Tulsa. If the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Native Americans, other tribes could file lawsuits.

In other parts of the U.S., we the people are emerging victorious over fascist actions.

Two energy companies have dropped their six-year bid to build the 600-mile natural gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline tunneling under the Appalachian Trail because of uncertain investing after constant opposition. The company, Dominion, will sell other natural gas pipelines and storage assets to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy for $10 billion. Last week, Dominion completed the biggest wind farm project in the country, located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The pipeline had been stopped in courts for its hasty and slipshod federal permitting process.

With the signature of Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi has completed the removal of the Confederate emblem from its state flag, the last one to feature the Confederate battle flag. A commission will develop a new flag with the phrase “In God, We Trust.”

Thanks to state voters, Oklahoma became the 37th state to approve Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Coverage begins July 1, 2021. The act should drive down the state’s 14-percent uninsured rate, and the federal government covers 90 percent of the cost of newly-covered adults.

DDT lost a restraining order against his niece’s new book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Simon & Schuster may continuing and distributing Mary Trump’s explosive insider account. Although a state Supreme Court judge imposed an order against the book, but the New York appellate division lifted it, permitting the book’s release on July 28.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, appointed by DDT, struck down DDT’s 2019 policy blocking thousand of Central American asylum seekers who didn’t first request protections in a nation between their home and the U.S. Like the ruling against DDT’s anti-DACA policy, the anti-asylum policy unlawfully bypassed the Administrative Procedure Act, requiring people to be informed and opportunity to respond. DDT ordered the policy to go immediately into effect.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has openly come out against its chair, former private equity lawyer Jay Clayton, because of his decision to give private equity billionaires the opportunity to take advantage of people with 401(k) retirement accounts. Last week, DDT issued a letter permitting the savings of 100 million workers and retirees to be put at risk in high-risk, high-fee firms. SEC’s purpose is to police the financial industry, and it issued a damning report documenting privity equity crimes. One of the Supreme Court’s rulings last week had restricted SEC’s power to punish thee firms. The law may require restitution for criminal actions but not financial punishment. DDT now wants his good friend Clayton to become U.S. Attorney in Manhattan after firing Geoffrey Berman. Confirmation gives Clayton the ability to control prosecutors, the last line of defense, against private equity crimes. In 2014, a top SEC official reported legal violations or control weaknesses in over half the examined private equity firm, including fee gouging.

In a good news, bad news story, Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, who testified in DDT’s impeachment process, is currently being blocked from a promotion to colonel. That’s the bad news. The good news? Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is blocking all 1,123 military promotions to the rank of colonel or above until Defense Secretary Mark Esper guarantees in writing Vindman will not be punished for his testimony.

Dealing with DDT is becoming harder and harder for Senate Republicans. DDT has threatened to veto defense appropriations bill with an amendment to remove Confederate names from military bases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), up for reelection, is particularly worried about a veto for the bill and said he hopes DDT doesn’t carry through with his threat. Removing the amendment before sending the bill on requires 60 votes—53 Republicans and seven Democrats. The popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement and the struggle for social justice could endanger congressional Republicans up for reelection—197 seats in the House and 21 in the Senate. Three of these senators up for reelection—Joni Ernst (IA), Martha McSally (AZ), and Mike Rounds (SD)—on the Armed Services Committee support the name changes. Ernst and McSally are in vulnerable positions.

Twitch and Reddit have joined Facebook and Twitter in removing DDT’s hateful rhetoric on social media. Among 2,000 subreddits, Reddit banned a longtime forum used by his supporters, The_Donald, for frequent rule-breaking, and video streaming platform Twitch temporarily suspended DDT’s channel for the same reason. Facebook also announced changes to ban hateful content and removed hundreds of boogaloo violent accounts. The decision came after several boogaloos were charged with crimes during the protesters. Facebook has already taken down accounts and pages from white supremacists Proud Boys, American Guard, and Northwest Front.

Facebook is most likely reacting to an advertising boycott quietly starting but reaching huge proportions. After only three days, 800 worldwide companies from Coca-Cola to Unilever pulled millions of dollars in advertising from Facebook. The visibility of the boycott also links Facebook with racism and hate with the hashtag #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook stock dropped 8.32 percent last Friday. Boycotters are still negotiating, with civil rights groups planning to meet with Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. There may not be much success: Zuckerberg believes in free expression, no matter the lies and violence. Social media depends on engagement; Facebook’s business model uses controversy and outrage to get readers and thus ads. Yesterday, Zuckerman said he will make no policy changes.

Not all of DDT’s officials follow the party line. FDA Commissioner refused to comment on DDT’s claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are “harmless” and  would not predict a timeline for vaccine availability after DDT asserted a vaccine or therapeutic would be ready “long before the end of the year.”

DDT is showing his fear and desperation by recommending people wear masks—despite his promotion of maskless activities. Last month, he told the Wall Street Journal people wore masks only to demonstrate their disapproval of him; last week, he told Fox, “I’m all for masks.” He added:

“Actually, I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked, OK? I thought it was OK. It was a dark, black mask, and I thought it looked OK. Looked like the Lone Ranger.”  

A recent study shows a national mask mandate would save the economy from a five-percent GDP hit. But not if people wear them like the Lone Ranger.

July 5: The number of COVID-19 infections is due to top three million tomorrow. Today’s numbers: 2,982,928 – infections; 132,569 – deaths.

 

March 27, 2018

Conservatism on Trial

Lawyers continue to earn salaries from the outrageous edicts of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and GOP laws. Some of the ones from just last week:

Decisions:

Women may legally bare their breasts in public, according to a federal ruling on a 2015 Fort Collins (CO) law preventing female bare breasts in public except for breastfeeding and girls under the age of ten. Fort Collins said that male and female breasts are different and the law is to prevent disrupting order. The group Free the Nipple won’t disband because Fort Collins isn’t giving up.

For the second time, the Supreme Court rejected a GOP request to stop a Pennsylvania court mandate for redrawing the state’s congressional map in a way that removes some of the massive GOP gerrymandered advantage. State legislators considered impeaching the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of redrawing the map, but the Chief Justice, a GOP appointee, may have embarrassed them out of the idea.

Two class-action lawsuits over contaminated water in Flint (MI) can go to trial, according to the Supreme Court. Federal Judge John C. O’Meara earlier ruled that the federal Safe Drinking Water keeps the cases out of his jurisdiction, but the 6th Circuit Court reversed O’Meara’s dismissal and allows plaintiffs to seek monetary damages.

A unanimous SCOTUS ruling sent a case back to the 5th Circuit Court after it ruled that indigent prisoners must expect success to get funding for investigating a case. SCOTUS disagreed. In Ayestas v. Davis, the petitioner, sentenced to death for his part in a 1995 murder during a robbery, claimed ineffective trial and post-conviction counsel.

A federal judge temporarily blocked a new law in Mississippi banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the strictest limit in the nation that violates the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker (R) refused to hold special elections for empty legislative seats in violation of state law after a Democrat upset in a January special election. A circuit court judge appointed by Walker told him that he will hold the elections. Walker had erroneously claimed that he didn’t need to hold elections because they didn’t occur in an election year. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald plans to get GOP legislators to overturn the judge’s ruling and called on the state Supreme Court to discipline the judge for “politicizing” her ruling.

A federal judge slapped down the Federal Election Commission (FEC)—again—for wrongly dismissing a 2012 complaint against the conservative American Action Network (AAN) that failed to register as a political committee and report the millions of dollars it spent for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2010 campaign.

New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schecter ruled that a sexual harassment defamation lawsuit against DDT by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos can proceed. Schecter used the court precedent in a lawsuit against Bill Clinton—that “a sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal courts for unofficial acts”—as the basis for her decision. Former Playboy model Karen McDougal also filed a lawsuit against owner of the National Enquirer, American Media, to be released from her contract to keep quiet about an affair with DDT.

The Supreme Court refused to roll back the ability of federal agencies to interpret their regulations. Under DDT, agencies are pushing abstinence-only regulations affecting women’s reproductive rights, net neutrality, and otherwise burdening people in the U.S. with religious and business-oriented advantages. Even so, ultra-conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch disagreed with the majority.

Ongoing trials:

The “anti-trust trial of the century” has started in the government’s fight against AT&T’s desired $85 billion merger with Time Warner. The merger’s lawyer claimed that they would never charge people more or block any content.

Filings:

Consumer groups are suing DDT for its elimination of standards for treatment of animals if the meat is designated “certified organic.” The Department of Agriculture claims that it lacks the authority and that the regulation would be costly despite the agency’s economic analysis of only minor costs.

Civil rights groups are suing DDT for document about the decision blocking a rule requiring companies with over 100 employees to track wages based on race and gender.

Environmentalist and animal welfare groups are suing DDT on his new stand allowing people to bring elephant trophies into the U.S. after he described big-game trophy hunting as a “horror show.” The new suit is an amendment to an ongoing case against Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s lifting the ban last year on lion trophies from Zimbabwe. Zinke’s International Wildlife Conservation Council is composed of “celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and well-heeled trophy collectors,” according to AP. One board member, Peter Horn, co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with DDT’s big-game hunting sons, Eric and Donald Jr.

 

 

Pending:

The strangest case comes from a 1990s capital murder case involving two Native Americans that could restore tribal sovereignty to almost half of Oklahoma for the first time in a century. Patrick Murphy, death-row inmate and member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, claimed that the state cannot try him for the murder of another tribal member on land that was part of the Creek Nation’s reservation. In the late 19th century, Congress took courts, governments, and laws from the Creek Nation and forced them to change tribal lands into privately-owned allotments for the tribe’s members before selling surplus land to white settlers.

Last summer, however, a three-judge panel in the 10th Circuit Court ruled that Congress had never specifically abolished the Creek Nation’s reservation which left it intact. The panel ruled that Royal v. Murphy had to be tried in federal court like other major crimes between Native Americans. In effect, the ruling returned the territory to the tribe and opened the door to other Oklahoma tribes, including the other four of the Five Civilized Tribes. They were all moved from southeastern U.S. on the Trail of Tears that killed over 4,000 people and promised the Oklahoma land in perpetuity. The land for just the Creek Nation comprises 4,600 square miles with 750,000 inhabitants including most of Tulsa. The five tribes together would take over 40 percent of Oklahoma.

Changing the land to reservation would restrict state criminal jurisdiction to minor offenses such as traffic violations. Federal and tribal courts would be in control of all other crimes. State taxation would also be impacted, and oil companies are concerned. Murphy has a lot at stake in this case: federal government bans the death penalty for crimes on tribal land.

In Solem v. Bartlett (1984), the Supreme Court ruled that each reservations keeps its original boundaries unless Congress specifically changes the borders or completely abolishes the reservation. The 10th Circuit ruled that this had not happened “and if it never did, that post–Civil War reservation is still intact.” [Above map showing 1866 boundaries of the Creek Nation.] That ruling stays unless the Supreme Court decides to take the case.

During March, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the man determined to disenfranchise every Democratic voter, took up eight days in court to defend his state law that requires prospective voters to prove their citizenship before they can register. He tried to present new information after the deadline, tried to testify to a document that he couldn’t find, and couldn’t phrase questions for cross examination or impeach a witness. Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson, a George W. Bush appointee, accused Kobach of engaging in “gamesmanship” and skirting her orders. Calling the 11 illegal voters of 1.8 million on the voter rolls the “tip of the iceberg,” Kobach kept 35,000 people from voting. Kobach stands accused of violating federal law by refusing to register these legitimate voters who signed up to vote through driver’s license offices.

The question of the trial is whether widespread voter fraud is credible, and Kobach had to admit it isn’t. On the first day of his trial, he said that federal databases cannot identify noncitizens—although that was the mission of DDT’s now-disbanded federal commission he headed up to find illegal voters. His witnesses confessed that their research is unreliable because it isn’t subject to peer review and suffers from flawed methodology. The “expert” who testified that noncitizen voting didn’t change the outcome of the popular vote, in opposition to Kobach’s claim about three million noncitizens voting in 2016, and testified that he identified potential noncitizens in Kansas by how “foreign-sounding” a name was. Another “expert” disclosed that his belief in Kansas voter fraud was entirely based on a list of about 30 voters that Kobach’s office gave him and he used incomplete information which could make it appear that more noncitizens tried to vote than those who existed. He, too, could not name any election swayed by noncitizens. Kobach’s legal opponent, Dale Ho (also a “foreign-sounding” name, concluded, “The iceberg, on close inspection your honor, is more of an ice cube.”

Koback’s latest attempt to remove Democratic voters was to tell DDT that the census should ask about everyone’s immigration status. May Kobach be brought down by creatures that he considered much smaller than himself. May he become afraid.

 

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