Nel's New Day

August 5, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Eight – New Sheriff in Town, Lawsuits

Catchup on State Department policies: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to not spend Congress-allocated $79.8 million for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation. All he needed to do was issue a memo of request for $60 million at the Pentagon and another $19.8 at the State Department. The money is lost if Tillerson doesn’t meet the September 30 deadline. Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond said that funding programs to oppose Russian media influence might anger Vladimir Putin.

A note on the proposed “merit-based” immigration bill: Amy Goodman points out that the requirements would have eliminated Friedrich Drumpf, grandfather of the man inaugurated as president in January; great-grandparents of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, proponent of the bill at the press conference; great-grandfather of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DTT) counsel and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

The most surprising action taken in Congress before they went home at the end of the week was to block Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) from making any recess appointments. There is no recess although Congress is gone for a month. In the past Republicans blocked President Obama from making appointments through this tactic, but DDT is supposedly their own president. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) locked in nine “pro-forma” sessions each lasting about minute. Every senator had to agree to accomplish this move. They did—just before they left town a week before they promised.

DDT has decided to attack congressional Republicans after they took other actions against him such as limiting his ability to change sanctions against foreign countries—especially Russia—and introducing a bill that would also limit his ability to fire the special investigator. DDT’s tweets:

“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us [healthcare]!”

On the first day of John Kelly as Chief in Staff and the last day of Anthony Scaramucci as Communications Director, the media reported that DDT dictated the memo stating that his son, Jr., had discussed only adoption in the son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer on June 9, 2016. The meeting was really about the DDT campaign obtaining “incriminating” information about Hillary Clinton. DDT had claimed that he knew nothing about the meeting, but he knew enough to dictate the nuanced, misleading memo that had to be revised several times as further information was revealed. Then DDT’s legal mouthpiece, Jay Sekulow, claimed that the president wasn’t involved in the memo. Summary: DDT’s team tries to collude with Russia; the president dictates a memo to lie to the public; and DDT’s lawyer tries to lie about DDT’s memo. Two days after Sekulow denied the participation on the part of DDT, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, announced that DDT had “weighed in, offered suggestions, like any father would do.”

The Harvard Law School may have been prescient about Scaramucci’s firing. The new alumni directory has reported him as deceased. His lost job may force Scaramucci to pay capital gains if he makes $77 million from selling his company. If he had kept his job, he could have claimed that he was forced to divest any assets from a conflict of interest. The New York Post has also updated its cover.

DDT may have hired Scaramucci, but Kelly fired him, repeating the belief that DDT doesn’t fire anyone, not even on his former television program, The Apprentice.  Kelly is the first military man to occupy his position since Richard Nixon of Watergate fame hired Alexander Haig. Kelly had clarified that he is in charge and that everyone in the staff clears policy proposals, personnel recommendations, and advice from outsiders through him. The question is whether that includes those family meetings in the evening with DDT’s children and son-in-law.

Kelly also managed to fire another of Michael Flynn’s hires, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who had stayed because of support from white supremacist Steve Bannon and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner despite protests from National Security Defense Adviser H.R. McMaster. Cohen-Watnick, the third Iran hawk to go recently, had leaked classified information to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), who then supposedly leaked the information back to the White House in a plot to falsely show that President Obama had eavesdropped on DDT.

Kelly’s background is supposedly discipline, and people on the left are saying that he’s a “great guy.” Yet he comes with his own baggage, most recently as “enabler-in-chief” in supporting the Muslim ban and deportation of innocent people after DDT had bragged about getting rid of the “bad hombres.” His history includes supervising Guantanamo prison during its times of torture. He may also go after the press because he has called leaks “close to treason.” Kelly also has a problem with understanding the Constitution: he has repeated the myth to Coast Guard cadets that the presidential oath of office was thrown together moments before George Washington was sworn in. He should read the U.S. Constitution—specifically Article II, Clause 8—that cites the oath.

The federal government is being inundated with lawsuits because of DDT’s cabinet secretaries and other officials. This week the D.C. circuit court ruled that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt can’t delay Obama-era rules on fracking. The decision against Pruitt reaffirms a previous one from July. Other lawsuits against the EPA:

  • Eleven states: delaying rules to prevent dangerous chemical spills.
  • The NRDC: not enforcing punishments on Clean Water Act violators.
  • Health and agriculture groups: postponement of a pesticide decision that poisoned farmworkers.
  • Maryland: allowing Pennsylvania’s coal pollution to cross its border.
  • Judicial Watch: spreading propaganda on its social media accounts.
  • Youth: DDT’s inaction on climate change that places health and financial burdens on future generations.

Seven states and a dozen health and labor groups have also filed an administrative court challenge against the EPA after its refusal to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a poisonous pesticide, on crops.

As of a week ago, the Brennan Center for Justice reported at least 17 legal actions against DDT’s new commission to suppress voting by collecting and assessing state voting lists. Although two lawsuits have failed in court, new ones use DDT’s own words and tweets in claims that he created the commission to back up his false theory that voter fraud is a massive problem. This case in Florida has caused the commission’s chair, VP Mike Pence, to tell states that they should wait to send him information until the case’s resolution.

San Diego may take DDT to court after DHS plans to bypass 37 environmental and other laws to build 15 miles of his “wall.” Legally, the agency can do this, but it plans to dodge environmental assessments of endangered species, migratory bird conservation, and the Clean Air Act. DDT has been allotted $1.6 billion which he hopes will pay for 74 of the 2,000 miles. DHS is paying $20 million for funding prototypes.

Chicago plans to sue DDT’s DOJ for withholding public safety grant money from so-called “sanctuary cities” with the claim that the federal government cannot legally take this action. AG Jeff Sessions had claimed that cities must claim that they are not sanctuary cities to get funds from the federal Byrne JAG grants. Sessions’ newly added mandates are to allow ICE access to detention facilities and provide ICE 48 hours’ notice before releasing “an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.” He isolated four cities for punishment: Albuquerque, Baltimore, San Bernardino, and Stockton (CA).

DDT is also involved in a lawsuit by Paid Fox News commentator Rod Wheeler, who is suing Fox, reporter Malia Zimmerman, and DDT supporter Ed Butowsky for fabrications regarding its “political agenda for the Trump administration.” Wheeler alleges that Fox briefed DDT in advance about the false “news” report that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided documents to WikiLeaks. Fox tried to use the “fake news” to distract from DDT campaign’s collusion with Russia. Fox & Friends and Hannity pushed the story for weeks, and DDT pushed it to be released immediately because he was being scrutinized for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The biggest news about DDT and Russia this week is a D.C. grand jury as well asking the White House for documents connected to Michael Flynn and considering senior FBI officials as possible witnesses. Special investigator is using this grand jury as well as one in Virginia. In a case about obstruction of justice, the White House may be a crime scene. The D.C. grand jury has already sent subpoenas connected to the meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others concerning damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

How low has the person inaugurated has U.S. president sunk? Available on Amazon is toilet paper with DDT’s tweets for $11.99. A roll with DDT’s face is cheaper–$5.99.

DDT isn’t the only world leader in trouble. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a suspect in fraud investigations, and his former chief of staff plans to testify against him. Accusations are favors in return for positive newspaper coverage and accepting bribes from Arnon Milchan in exchange for lobbying for a visa for the billionaire. There may be a contest to see whether DDT or Netanyahu does down first.

June 27, 2014

SCOTUS Rewrites Constitution

“The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session–U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec 2, cl. 3

On the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court justices handed down its decision that violent anti-choice protesters can block women from entering women’s clinics, they also ruled—again unanimously—in NLRB v. Noel Canning that the U.S. president’s constitutional rights to make recess appointments should be limited. The case came from President Obama’s recess appointments in 2012 to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after the GOP members of the senate stopped the board from functioning because they didn’t want to accept any of the president’s nominees.

The question of legal appointments arose after a NLRB ruling against Noel Canning because of its unfair labor practices. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the NLRB that Noel Canning was wrong but agreed with Noel Canning that the NLRB lacked a quorum because three of the five Board members had been invalidly appointed. Both the court of appeals and the Supreme Court ruled that a three-day recess is not long enough for the president to make appointments.

The ruling may require the NLRB to reconsider as many as 800 cases that were made with appointees that the Supreme Court has now determined to be invalid.

When the president made the appointments to the NLRB, the filibuster of 60 votes for approval of nominees, now eliminated, was still in effect. In addition, the senate has approved two of the three appointments that the president made at that time; the other one no longer sits on the board. The question of the appointments’ appropriateness came when the GOP refused to recess while they were out of town. Despite a 30-day recess, a senator conducted a “pro forma session” every three days by strolling into the chamber, pounding the gavel, and then closing the session within a few minutes. The only purpose was to block presidential appointments: there was no business conducted: presidential messages could not be placed before the senate, the chamber was almost empty, and attendance was not required.

GOP senators never objected to the specific nominees. They just wanted to stop the NLRB from functioning, and it couldn’t function without members. After the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the appointments were illegal, President Obama re-nominated his appointees. The GOP senators filibustered again, and the Democratic senators changed senate rules to require only 50 votes to invoke cloture on executive and judicial nominations. Along with other delayed nominees, the NLRB appointees moved forward.

The SCOTUS decision is the first time in the 225 years of the constitution that the Court has considered recess appointments. Its ruling read, “The Recess Appointments Clause empowers the President to fill any existing vacancy during any recess—intra-session or intersession—of sufficient length.” It defines “intra-session” recess as “breaks in the midst of a formal session” and “intersession” as “breaks between formal sessions of the Senate.” The majority of justices determined that the president can make recess appointments if the senate takes a break between sessions or takes time off during a session, but the recess must be at least ten days.

So the president, according to the majority opinion, still holds the power to make recess appointments to vacancies when the Senate is either taking a break between sessions or taking time off during a session–if it’s at least ten days. The president is not prone to making recess appointments. He’s made only 29, far fewer than George W. Bush’s 171 and Ronald Reagan’s 243.

About 1,200 executive-branch positions require senate approval. The chamber could spend all its time on the constitution’s  “advise and consent” mandate. In the 21st century, the process is more a method for senators to vent their ire on a president of the opposing party. Even worse than voting down nominees, the GOP senators during President Obama’s terms have followed a passive-aggressive approach of refusing to vote. Their refusal for not taking a vote for the NLRB was not unique. They were so intent on killing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that they didn’t approve a director for 18 months. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives went without a director for seven years after the position was mandated to have senate approval. Only after the NRA lifted its objections was the president able to get a director for this agency.

By 5-4, a minority of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia failed to overturn the lower court ruling that the president could not make any recess appointments except at the end of each year. They also failed to deny all recess appointments except when the vacancies were created while the senate was in full recess between sessions.

The constitution empowers the senate to “determine the rules of its proceedings, but SCOTUS has removed that right. If the minority position ha succeeded, as Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out, “Justice Scalia would render illegitimate thousands of recess appointments reaching all the way back to the founding era. More than that: Calling the Clause an ‘anachronism,’ he would basically read it out of the Constitution.”

SCOTUS’ ruling in Noel Canning also mandated that recesses of fewer than 10 days between sessions are “presumptively” too short to count in the constitutional reappointment right. Yet the Court stated that it must defer heavily to the Senate’s authority to determine “how and when to conduct its business.” Thus the justices said that they won’t tell the senate what to do, but they decided a minimum of recess of ten days for appointments. They have removed the right of the senate to set rules and rewritten the constitution.

There’s a definite irony here: the four justices who want to totally rewrite the constitution by eliminating any recess appointments are the originalists—meaning that they believe rulings should be based on what the authors actually meant. In many cases, they must be channeling the writers’ thoughts because the document doesn’t deal with much of 21st century life.

At this time, the Democratic senate can bring up a vote for nominees because they are the same party as the president. If the GOP takes over the senate in this year’s election, the Senate will probably refuse to hold any votes for appointments. In the future, a House of Representatives can demand adjournment for the senate if it is the same party as the president. If the two chambers disagree, the president can then exercise constitutional authority to unilaterally adjourn Congress for a recess, as the Supreme Court ruled. Unless other justices decide to re-write the constitution in this issue too. The Vacancies Act allows the president to fill vacancies—except in multimember agencies which the NLRB and other important agencies are.

As in yesterday’s ruling that erased buffer zones around Massachusetts’ women’s clinics, the justices showed themselves ignorant of reality. GOP members have been so intent on politicizing the appointment process that they are willing to destroy the United States. Yet, the ruling stated, “Most appointments are not controversial and do not produce friction between the branches.” That’s what this case was about. The justices showed no awareness of the recent senate obstruction of the confirmation process, so much so that routine appointments have been mired in controversy.

Reforms to the filibuster process were necessary because almost half of all cloture motions even considered on nominations in the history of the country were made after Barack Obama became president. Last month 110 executive branch nominees were pending, compared to 32 at the same point in George W. Bush’s second term.

As one senator blatantly said, his reason for opposing appointments to the NLRB was to make the agency “inoperable.” Without the recess appointments for a quorum, the senate could have stopped the NLRB for 2,885 days since 1988—almost eight years. Forty-four senators signed a letter to the president admitting that they opposed Richard Cordray to head the CFPB because of their opposition to the agency.

This is another roadblock that conservatives put in the way of the president carrying out his duties. The only hope with this ruling is that it puts the blame squarely on the senate for the failure to fill federal positions. That chamber is now responsible for failures in the confirmation process.

January 4, 2012

Iowa Caucus Finished, Obama Makes Recess Appointments

What an interesting caucus in Iowa! Michelle Bachmann is gone, Rick Perry will “reassess” his candidacy on January 21 (or not, depending on the moment), and Rick Santorum (the next “anyone-but-Romney” candidate) lost to Mitt Romney by 8 votes. Romney received six fewer votes than in 2008 when Mike Huckabee got 40 percent of the vote.

Friends of Romney may start focusing their venomous television advertising on Santorum. Jon Huntsman didn’t even try for Iowa votes, and Newt Gingrich keeps plugging along to sell his books. Meanwhile Ron Paul, in third place, might consider running as a third candidate.

The best news of the day, however, is that the Democrats are retaining a spine. Fed up with the Republicans’ constant stalling, aka filibuster, President Obama will keep the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) functioning by recess-appointing Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn to the board. Block and Griffin are Democrats; Flynn is a Republican. Without these appointments the NLRB would lose its three-member quorum, necessary for issuing rules and regulations, because Craig Becker is another recess appointment.

Obama also made a recess appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to enforce a variety of financial consumer protection laws. Without a director, it cannot follow the law’s mandate. Republicans thought that if they blocked this appointment, they could stop the law from taking effect, a process known as nullification.

Cordray was the first state AG to sue a mortgage lender over fraudulent practices and led efforts to rein in payday lenders. The CFPB, according to the law that passed 18 months ago creating the board, is tasked with overseeing lenders and financial institutions to prevent the types of predatory practices such as foreclosure fraud, discriminatory mortgage lending, and practices from payday, student loan, and credit card lenders that cheated and defrauded the American people before and through the recession.

All these positions have been empty for over a year because of the Republicans’ stalling.

As usual, many Republicans are having a fit, claiming that this has never happened before and is unconstitutional. Recess-appointments require a ten-day recess; Congress recessed on December 23. Republican leaders claim that this constitutes no recess. On the other hand, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has said that he approves Obama’s actions because the Washington system is “broken.”

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt made more than 160 appointments during a recess of less than one day. President Ronald Reagan averaged three times as many recess appointments as Obama each year, making 243 total appointments during his time in office. Meanwhile, filibusters, a real power grab by conservatives, have increased two-fold since Obama took office, and a large number of votes never occur because of the GOP’s threats to filibuster.

All these appointments are very good news for the nation’s 99 percent!

AGR Daily News Service

Transformational Change; What Works For Seven Future Generations Without Causing Harm?

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur ("The thing itself speaks")

Jennifer Hofmann

Inspiration for soul-divers, seekers, and adventurers.

Occupy Democrats

Progressive political commentary/book reviews for youth and adults

V e t P o l i t i c s

politics from a liberal veteran's perspective

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

GLBT News

Official news outlet for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of ALA

The Extinction Protocol

Geologic and Earthchange News events

Central Oregon Coast NOW

The Central Oregon Coast Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Over the Rainbow Books

A Book List from Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: