Nel's New Day

August 26, 2022

Some News – August 25, 2022

The most dangerous story of the day may be how a Christian fundamentalist company is taking over Texas school boards on its way to control the U.S. for evangelicals. The Texas-based Patriot Mobile markets itself as “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider,” meaning Christian nationalist/MAGA far right. Electing school board members is the beginning to take over every part of the nation’s political structure with its anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist, anti-minorities, anti-history, anti-science, anti-nonChristian religion philosophy—and put all that in the school curriculum.

Former DDT adviser Steve Bannon has promoted Patriot Mobile and its “mission from God to restore conservative Christian values at all levels of government—especially in public schools,” according to Mike Hixenbaugh in his article for NBC news. Patriot Mobile created a PAC this year with $600,000 in seed money to spend on school board races in the Fort Worth suburbs. They bought 11 seats in four districts.

The Keller Independent School District pulled 40 books from the library shelves, including a graphic adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. The company donated framed posters of “In God We Trust” to the Carroll Independent School District, required to display them in each of the school buildings because of a new Texas law. These posters are spreading in schools across Texas after the passage of Senate Bill 797 requiring “a public elementary school or secondary school” to display the motto in a “conspicuous place” if a poster or framed copy of the motto is “donated for display at the school or institution” or “purchased from private donations and made available to the school.” The bill’s co-author tweeted:

“The national motto, In God We Trust, asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God.”

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District board voted 4-3 for a set of policies restricting how teachers talk about race and gender, limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary students to use bathrooms and pronouns corresponding with the genders, and simplified a process for parent to ban library books dealing with sexuality. Almost 200 people signed up to speak during public comments, many of them recruited to support the policies but others voluntarily protesting.

Christian fundamentalists must take over all parts of the government in their “Seven Mountains” theology, aka “dominionism,” once a fringe theology.  Pastor Rafael Cruz, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father, started weekly Bible studies for employees at Patriot Mobile’s corporate office to be posted on YouTube. Cruz preached that American founders intended a “one-way wall” for religion, banning government from interfering with the church but not stopping the church from controlling the government.

Supporters of Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) are fixated on finding negative information about the Biden family, two of them so much that they stole the diary of Ashley Biden, President Joe Biden, during his 2020 campaign. Two defendants pled guilty to stealing the diary and selling it to Project Veritas, the conservative organization pretending to be a news media organization while falsifying videos and other information for negative lies about Democrats. The two thieves received $40,000 for the diary and returned to take more of Ashley Biden’s property. She had written intimate information about herself and her family while she recovered from addition.

The release of a nine-page memo from the DOJ after a court order shows the obfuscation of former AG Bill Barr in covering for DDT after Robert Mueller filed his report about the investigation into the ties between Russian interference and DDT’s campaign in the 2016 presidential election. Barr explained that DDT couldn’t be charged with any crimes because of no conspiracy, different from Mueller’s report. A highly redacted version of the memo was released in 2019; this version is complete. Barr signed and approved the memo on March 24, 2019, the same date he notified Congress of his decision not to prosecute DDT. It ends with a formal recommendation to not charge DDT. Both Mueller and legal analysts criticized the DOJ for being “selective” about items in the report.

Two federal courts concluded that Barr didn’t rely on the memo for legal advice and decided to not charge DDT before he commissioned the memo. A federal appeals court described the memo as an “academic exercise” or “thought experiment” that meant to bolster the public rollout of Barr’s decision against prosecuting Trump. In the memo, Barr’s deputies, the memo’s authors, wrote DDT couldn’t be charged because of lack of precedence and claimed Mueller couldn’t find any comparable cases with “remotely similar circumstances.”

The ”Trump Defense,” according to Barr’s DOJ: DDT’s acts were not criminal because of his thoughts, anger, and ineptitude.

  • DDT’s steps were “not for an illegal purpose” but because he believed the investigation was politically motivated.
  • DDT’s “driving force” was anger over Comey’s refusal to publicly declare that the FBI was not investigating Trump himself rather than an effort by Trump to derail the investigation.
  • DDT’s obstruction was never carried out because people didn’t follow his orders.

The government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which obtained the memo after a lawsuit, stated the excuses presented a “breathtakingly generous view of the law and facts for Donald Trump.” The group’s statement added:

“It significantly twists the facts and the law to benefit Donald Trump and does not comport with a serious reading of the law of obstruction of justice or the facts as found by Special Counsel Mueller.”

Mueller had pointed out that DDT fired FBI Director James Comey after the former director did not “let this go” in the criminal probe of DDT’s former top adviser Michael Flynn. DDT told his White House counsel, Don McGahn, that he never tried to fire Mueller, but the memo claimed “there is insufficient evidence to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the President sought to induce McGahn to lie.”

In another sticky problem for DDT, one of his appointed judges returned his filing to limit the DOJ review of records seized from Mar-a-Lago with the request that he clarify what he is seeking—why the court has jurisdiction over the dispute and what “precise relief” he wants. Legal observers are already criticizing the suit for being convoluted and failing to ask substantial legal questions. DDT had asked for a special master to review the materials and bar the FBI from examining the documents until the master is appointed. The purpose might be to determine whether the seized documents are protected by attorney-client privilege or any other legalities.

Another potential DDT problem is the release of a redacted version of the Mar-a-Lago search warrant affidavit by noon on August 26, per a court ruling. It describes the probable cause for crime, possibly adding more charges against DDT.

More news about documents at Mar-a-Lago came from an email sent by the National Archives chief counsel, Gary Stern to DDT in May 2021. He references two dozen boxes stored in DDT’s White House residence not returned despite the request to give them back. Stern wrote that DDT’s lawyer Pat Cipollone agreed the boxes of official records needed to be returned. For months, DDT repeatedly declined to return the items while his lawyers expressed concerns about his keeping the documents.   

Conservative love to play the victim, and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, now the GOP candidate for a Montana U.S. House seat by 1,608 votes is no different. He is claiming the DOJ is persecuting him although the agency has refused to bring charges against him for the second time. A report from the Interior Department’s inspector general reveals that Zinke lied and misled his way through an inquiry into possible misdeeds including a casino operating decision following extensive lobbying to bury the project. An earlier investigation into Zinke found he lied about his involvement in a land deal in his hometown of Whitefish (MT), benefitting him personally. He had falsely claimed that his meeting with the developers was “purely social.”

And notably, it’s the second time the Biden DOJ has passed on pursuing Zinke for allegedly lying to investigators. Another IG report released earlier this year found Zinke had allegedly lied about his involvement in a land deal in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., which he stood to benefit from personally. Zinke claimed his role was minimal and that a meeting he held with the project’s developers at the Interior Department’s headquarters was “purely social.” Yet Inspector General Mark Greenblatt, a DDT appointee, reported that communications proved Zinke had “an extensive, direct, and substantive role in [representing] negotiations” with the developers. Even without any charges for his illegal actions, Zinke called it a “political hit job” by the Biden administration.

The federal government declined to move forward from the investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) until after the general election. In this week’s primary, Gaetz defeated his opponent to be the GOP candidate. Yet the case against Gaetz for sex-trafficking underage girls may be solid, and he could be tied into a massive investigation in corruption throughout central Florida through his connection with an associate, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who is due to be sentenced in December after several extensions. Like Gaetz, some of his charges are for sex-trafficking, but the investigation into ? covers illegal real estate deals, embezzlement of federal COVID relief, Republicans running ghost candidates, and public corruption. An op-ed from Gaetz’s primary opponent wrote about Gaetz using money from his donors intended for conservative causes to pay for his sex-trafficking defense and expressed concern about Gaetz, a member of the Congressional Armed Services Committee who has access to top secret information, is open to blackmail.  

June 27, 2022

SCOTUS Continues Disastrous Rulings, CNN Goes Conservative

Mass Shootings: Last weekend, seven people were killed and 46 injured in 10 shootings of four or more people. Locations were Tacoma (WA); Blakely (GA), San Antonio (TX), Brooklyn, Patterson (NY), Winona (TX), Sutherlin (VA), Minneapolis, Hopewell (VA), and Houston.

Breaking news! The House January 6 investigative committee has scheduled an unexpected hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 1:00 pm EST after announcing none until the week of July 11. The sixth hearing comes after “recently obtained evidence.” No one knows that the “evidence” or the new witness is. One guess is that that rush comes to keep Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and his allies from suppressing the revelation.

One new bit of information is that federal agents used a warrant from the DOJ’s inspector general to seize the phone of DDT’s former lawyer John Eastman, instrumental in developing the illegal plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter had called the “likely” criminal conspiracy between DDT and Eastman “a coup in search of a legal theory.”

A federal grand jury in New York issued subpoenas to Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company merging with Trump Media & Technology Group, and its board members. The investigation can delay the merger and caused the company’s stock to drop ten percent, making this year’s loss over half its value.

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District: The current Supreme Court continued its unanimous list of decisions against separation of church of state by ruling that a football coach could kneel to pray after games, possibly coercing his players into following his Christian religion. Writing for the six Supremes, Neil Gorsuch, stated lower courts should no longer follow the “Lemon test” from Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971), criticized by religious conservatives, about whether the government’s action might look to a reasonable observer as government endorsement of religion. Overturned is 60 years of the Supreme Court position that the government cannot organize and promote prayer in public schools. Previously the high court had also limited speech rights of on-duty public employees.  Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent:

“This Court consistently has recognized that school officials leading prayer is constitutionally impermissible. Official-led prayer strikes at the core of our constitutional protections for the religious liberty of students and their parents … The Court now charts a different path.”

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State stated:

“Today, the court continued its assault on church-state separation, by falsely describing coercive prayer as ‘personal’ and stopping public schools from protecting their students’ religious freedom.”

Gorsuch’s opinion shows that the six Supremes swallowed the lies of Kennedy’s lawyer. Joined by many people, Kennedy wasn’t “offer[ing] his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied,” but the decision was based on “private” and “quiet” prayer.” The coach inserted “motivational” prayer into his coaching which resulted in a presentation on the 50-yard line, shown in photographs. He also went on a media tour bragging about being a coach who “made a commitment with God” and inviting everyone to come pray with him on the field in what a federal appeals court called a “stampede.” The school principal “saw people fall,” and the district was unable “to keep kids safe.” Crowds knocked down members of the school’s marching band. Gorsuch claimed that only the opposing team players joined Kennedy—which makes no difference.

Other pro-Christian opinions from the six Supremes are mandating states to include religious private schools in public tuition grants, access of a spiritual adviser for a person being executed, and the requirement that Boston fly a Christian flag at city hall if secular groups have that privilege. In banning abortion, Alito said that states should have the rights to make their own laws, but their decisions in religion and gun safety are opposite to this statement.

Ruan v. United States and Kahn v. United States:  Doctors may now overprescribe drugs after the government is forced to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the doctor knew or intended to prescribe drugs in an unauthorized manner. The ruling overturned the conviction of two physicians accused of operating opioid “pill mills” in Alabama. Xiulu Ruan made over $4 million in four years when he dispensed almost 300,000 prescriptions, many of them for opioids, in a pharmacy connected to his medical clinic. Practicing in Arizona and Wyoming, Shakeel Kahn operated mostly on a cash-only basis and accepted property for payment including firearms. The convictions were returned to the lower courts for review. Samuel Alito, who voted for the decision, wrote that the court’s “radical new course” may cause “confusion and disruption.”

Clarence Thomas dissented from the Supreme Court’s refusal to revisit New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) that creates a higher bar for public figures to claim libel. He opposes the rights of the media “to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.” Earlier Neil Gorsuch had also urged justices to revisit the decision. Public figures such as Thomas must show “absolute malice” to succeed in a libel dispute against people or the media. Thomas ranted against the Southern Poverty Law Center calling Coal Ministries a “hate group” because it claims “homosexuals say yes” to pedophilia and promotes other anti-LGBTQ lies, called the SPLC position a “blatant falsehood.” He wrote that the group “has nothing but love” for homosexuals despite the leader emphasizes literature that pushes LGBTQ people to be executed.  

The six Supremes justify overturning Roe by saying “the law offered no protection to the woman’s choice in the 19th century.” That could be the justification for overturning everything—desegregation, biracial marriage, mandatory sterilization, male ownership of wives—the list could be endless. Declaring precedents “egregiously wrong,” the six Supremes are making the United States into a place with rights only for adult straight Christian conservative white men. Everybody else is screwed.

Judges in Louisiana and Utah temporarily blocked the states’ anti-abortion “trigger laws,” those immediately going into effect to block abortions. Louisiana has passed multiple trigger laws since 2006, and which ones go into effect or what conduct is prohibited is not clear. In Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, and Texas, trigger laws are also being challenged. Mississippi AG Lynn Fitch had already certified the state’s trigger law, meaning that all abortions, except to save the pregnant woman or in a confirmed case of rape, will be illegal.

The high court has four more cases to announce this term, one determining clean water and the power of agencies. The others are President Joe Biden’s overturning DDT’s border policy “Remain in Mexico,” refusing immigrants entry from Mexico; EPA regulation of carbon emissions from existing power plants; and weakened work protections for veterans with disabilities.

Note: CNN used to be a useful alternative to MSNBC for a take on the news—until Chris Licht was hired to replace Jeff Zucker as the head of CNN. Licht said he wants CNN to be “a beacon … by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics in journalism.” Friends with GOP former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Licht watched the Super Bowl with GOP pollster Frank Luntz and wants to showcase more conservative guests.

After Roe was overturned, CNN immediately aired commentary from these “experts:

  • Mary Szoch, the director of the center for human dignity at the anti-abortion rights and anti-LGBTQ rights Family Research Council who talked about how “American needs to reckon with” the “60 million unborn children’s lives taken by the abortion industry.”
  • Jeffrey Toobin, who exposed his penis during a Zoom meeting with colleagues at The New Yorker and masturbated.
  • Democrats for Life, that “seeks to elect anti-abortion Democrats,”—not a major player in the political world.

Licht told producers to stop referring to DDT’s accusations of a stolen election as the “big lie,” its common nickname. A CNN insider said:  

“It’s worrisome that we’re being told how to talk about one of the worst things that ever happened to American democracy. We have to call lies, lies, whether they’re small lies or big lies. Is there any lie bigger than that lie?”

Reporters such as Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta will be forced out if they don’t keep to Licht’s “less partisan coverage.” The influence seems to come from parent company Warner Bros. Discovery with DDT-donor John Malone calling the shots. Instead of raising ratings, Licht wants to generate revenue by sponsored segments inserted in news broadcasts, meaning the “news” comes from big business, and a paywall for part of CNN’s website, reducing CNN’s audience.

Not a blueprint for a “beacon.”

June 6, 2022

Draft for Overturning Roe – An Abuse on Religion, History

It’s June, and the U.S. Supreme Court has 33 cases yet to announce, including the possibility of overturning the almost 50-year-old Roe v. Wade permitting abortion for the first trimester and state regulation for the pregnant person’s health during the second and third trimesters. Samuel Alito’s rough draft for at least five conservative justices relies on mistaken religious, historical, scientific, and constitutional information.  

The cited religious freedom belongs only to Christian evangelicals who believe life begins at conception and fetuses are “babies.” The less religious conservative justices won’t believe constitutional “separation of church and state.” The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In theory, that line should give the same rights to Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahais, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics as to evangelicals. Christian evangelicals,  taking control of law in the U.S., believe everyone must follow strict fundamental Christianity, like Islam shariah law.

Rabbi Robert B. Barr and Rachel Smith of Congregation Beth Adam in Loveland (OH) wrote an op-ed for the Cincinnati Enquirer arguing that Justice Samuel Alito wants to impose a highly strict interpretation of Christianity on everyone in the United States.

“Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization proposes an alarming erosion of the vital wall that separates church from state—between personally held religious beliefs and our shared government. If the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the draft opinion, the Court will be issuing an historic, precedent-breaking opinion based on the religious beliefs held by many of the current justices. Religion will be dictating public policy.”

Their position is that freedom of religion should not be determined by Supreme Court justices. The op-ed explains:

“The establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits all levels of government from advancing or inhibiting religion. The Constitution prohibits the government from favoring one religious view over another or favoring religion over non-religion, and yet, that is exactly what this proposed opinion will do. This Court’s decision would adopt a narrow religious-based definition of when life begins and impose it on everyone in our nation. While some religions believe life begins at conception, others do not. Yet, the Court will impose one set of religious beliefs on everyone.”

According to Judaism, a fetus is “not a separate and independent life from the pregnant person.” The religion permits abortion if the pregnant person’s physical or psychological health is endangered. According to author Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Talmud declares the fetus as “mere water” for the first 40 days. Overturning Roe imposes one notion about the beginning life on everyone.

Reform Judaism permits abortion in case of rape or incest, when genetic testing determines the fetus has a disease causing death or severe disability, and the birth would be an impossible situation for the parents. Other reasons for abortion are for a single woman, age under 17, and risk to the woman’s health. This difficult decision is made by the pregnant woman with consultation with a trusted person such as a physician or rabbi.

Muslim scholars believe that a fetus is not a life until it’s “ensouled,” according to lawyer and commentator on Islamic law Abed Awad. Islamism allows abortions up to 120 days.

State lawmakers have flagrantly made it clear that they consider abortion a Chrisian issue in their drive to make the U.S. a “Christian” nation of far-right, fundamentalist views:

Louisiana: State Democratic Sen. Katrina Jackson said that “this is a God issue.” Last year, she said, “My goal in this office was to do the will of God… My concern is always, number one, that I not offend God.”

Alabama: GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said, “This legislation states as a powerful testament … that every life is a sacred gift from God.” GOP state Sen. Clyde Chambliss said, “I believe that if we terminate the life of an unborn child, we are putting ourselves in God’s place.”

Missouri: GOP State Rep. Holly Rehder gave her reason for forcing victims of rape and incest to remain pregnant: “We can do that with the love of God.”

Former Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and VP Mike Pence echoed the “sacred gift from God” and “sanctity of every human life.”

Extremist anti-abortion laws forces extremist religious perspectives on state laws while all other religious perspectives are overridden. Contrary to the wishes of the Founding Fathers, these legislative laws will impose mandates on everyone, no matter what their religious beliefs are.

In addition to basing his decision on one decision of a minority, Alito demonstrated his weak grasp of history. He wrote:

“An unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.”

In early America, women could “restore their menses” until after “quickening,” the time when the pregnant person feels the fetus kicking and/or stirring which happens between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy. Shared knowledge during this time, sometimes in published health manuals, gave directions for inducing miscarriages. The Married Lady’s Companion recommended quinine, black hellebore, or juniper; Indigenous women used black cohosh roots; and Black slaves had snakeroot, cotton root, and okra along with drugs sold by traveling salesmen in New England during the mid-1700s.

In writing about “deep history,” Alito used the words of a 13th-century judge who endorsed human slavery and a 17th-century judge who sentenced witches to executions and endorsed marital rape. [Right: Matthew Hale, Alito’s 17th-century legal authority.] 

The first anti-abortion laws in the U.S. passed by some states in the 1820s and 1830s banned drugs to induce miscarriages in women, “then quick with child.” Their purpose was to punish men who tried to escape marrying seduced women by giving them abortifacients and referred only to quickening. Alito ignored this legal history, including judicial rulings that cases could not be brought for abortion before quickening. He ignored this information in an amicus brief from two major professional associations of historians in the United States, representing the views of over 10,000 scholars and teachers. Instead he used the work of only one legal writer, rejected by most scholars because it “distorts the evidence.” 

Alito references laws from the 1860s and 1870s when pregnancies were criminalized because of a small group of self-interested white, male physicians anxious about their status as both doctors and as elite men who formed the American Medical Association. Women saw their treatment as “violent” and excessive, preferring midwives, homeopaths, and other “irregular” practitioners. Male doctors who massaged women’s vulvas to calm their “hysteria” also kept abortions legal to perform them for medical reasons.

The medical men were hostile to women’s activism and middle-class women preferring to restrict their families’ sizes and accused them of wanting “fashion” and politics over motherhood. Dr. Horatio Storer, the medical leader of the anti-abortion movement, wrote that “the true wife” did not seek “undue power in public life . . . [or] privileges not her own.” He and his AMA colleagues opposed women in the medical profession and pushed the racist fear of immigrants taking over the U.S. –the 150-year-old “replacement” theory—because white women didn’t want huge families. Instead, the U.S. would be taken over by “aliens,” Chinese, and Catholics. Alito claimed the words came from just “one prominent opponent,” but Storer was the underlying force driving criminalization of abortions as state and local medical societies used his essays, data, memorials, and letters to persuade lawmakers of the necessity to criminalize abortion at all states.

Prosecuting abortion providers and sometimes women seeking abortions was combined with shaming and punishing them through humiliation investigations. Abortions went underground where it wasn’t regulated, or women performed harmful practices on themselves. Chicago’s Cook County Hospital had an entire ward for septic abortion cases until 1973 when Roe made the procedure legal.

[Information thanks to Leslie J. Reagan, a professor of history and law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and author of When Abortion Was a Crime and Dangerous Pregnancies.]

The term “opinion” when referring to Alito’s rough draft is accurate: his assertions about fetal development, abortion procedures, and international laws are disputed or are open to interpretation. Even pregnant women know he’s wrong. In the Atlantic, Chavi Karkowsky, a medical doctor in New York City and author of High Risk: Stories of Pregnancy, Birth, and the Unexpected, points out Alito’s separation from reality.

All Alito’s mistakes may not be his own: his rough draft shows an uncanny similarity to a brief by Texan Jonathan F. Mitchell for the state’s anti-abortion law allowing people to sue anyone supporting an abortion, even verbal discussions. Filed for Texas Right to Life, the brief was coauthored by Mitchell’s colleague Adam K. Mortara. The words and ideas are much alike—rejection of stare decisis, the language of the constitution disallowing the right to abortion, and the lack of reason for retaining the “contract” of Roe. Both believe that women won’t lose their autonomy without abortion because they can “control their reproductive lives.” As usual, they use the term “unborn human beings” instead of correct terminology.

The question is whether Alito will fix all these mistakes in his final draft.

December 5, 2021

SCOTUS May Bring Religous Authoritarianism to Education

Last week, the Supreme Court heard a anti-choice case in which six of them generally trashed the 49-year-old precedent of Roe v. Wade, which permitted women to legally obtain abortions up to the viability of the fetus. This week, the high court will hear Carson v. Makin, deciding whether tax dollars should go to religious schools. The plaintiffs began their brief with this statement by claiming “Maine’s public schools expelled students for adhering to their faith” in the 19th century. A Catholic student was expelled for not completing lessons from a Protestant bible. The plaintiffs claim that situation is the same as not paying state residents’ tuition at private religious schools. They call it “denial of educational opportunity through religious discrimination.”

The war against secularism has moved from religious conservatives calling for exemptions to any law to demanding that the nation fund their faith. “Religious liberty” formerly meant not blocking religious individuals and groups from following their faith. In this way, they managed to hold crowded services during an epidemic in spite of endangering the public good through public health orders. Now they want to take tax revenue from secular individuals and groups to pay for their religious schools. The plaintiffs already have children receiving the vaunted education, but they wants free education at the religious schools—paid for by the state.

Ian Millhiser wrote that the plaintiffs want taxpayers, including LGBTQ people, to pay for hate speech against LGBTQ people and discriminate against LGBTQ students and teachers. One cited school requires teachers to sign an employment agreement stating that “the Bible says that ‘God recognize[s] homosexuals and other deviants as perverted’” and that “[s]uch deviation from Scriptural standards is grounds for termination.’”

Maine already pays for private high school tuition for almost 5,000 students with no local school so that they will have access to education, but the subsidy is only for nonsectarian schools. Parents don’t receive state funds for religious schools. The case’s plaintiffs want “equality” for religious schools. Their goal is to deny the constitutional “freedom of religion” that used to mean separation of church and state, banning laws “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. No one in Maine is prohibited this “free exercise”: anyone can send children to religious schools.

Two decades ago, a debate questioned whether states can fund religious education. The precedent from Everson v. Board of Education (1947) holds that “no tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion.” In 2002, however, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris asked for a school voucher program primarily benefitting religious schools. Five of the nine Supreme Court justices overturned this religious separation from government but allowed lawmakers to make the law.

Last year, the court decided in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue (2020) that certain circumstances require states to subsidize religiously affiliated schools. It held that the state cannot deny the subsidy to a religious institution “simply because of what it is”—that it identifies with a particular faith. Yet the ruling distinguished between religious “status” and religious “use.”

Maine defines a “sectarian” school, ineligible for state subsidies, by asking whether it “promotes the faith or belief system with which it is associated and/or presents the material taught through the lens of this faith.” The definition of sectarian cannot be an “affiliation or association with a church or religious institution” because that would be “status.” Instead, the determination is “use,” or “what the school teaches through its curriculum and related activities, and how the material is presented.” The 1st Circuit Court ruled in favor of Maine on the basis of “use,” but the Supreme Court has taken the appeals from the plaintiffs in the case.

Plaintiffs want to expand Espinoza to include “use,” claiming policies requiring policies requiring religious families to “choose between their religious beliefs and receiving a government benefit” are unconstitutional. They maintain that Maine’s tuition program forces these families to choose between “their right to tuition assistance or their right to freely exercise their religion.”

The existing school voucher program applies to under three percent of K-12 students in Maine, most of them in far-out rural areas when the state saves money with vouchers instead of public schools.

A win in Carson, however, puts the nation’s entire public school system at risk. Public education operated by the government and offering free education is a government benefit. If the plaintiffs are granted their wish, the public education system will be forced to pay for tuition to teach students religion. In Espinoza, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “A State need not subsidize private education, but once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools” because of their religious status. Roberts is no longer in control. The court now has five conservative justices in addition to Roberts. If religious plaintiffs win to have free tuition at religious schools from Maine’s subsidy program, the next case will be for all children to have free tuition in private schools—paid for by the government.

Parents have been demanding that they select what happens in public schools—do away with the mythical “critical race theory,” refuse materials on racism, eliminate counselors, block any reference to LGBTQ people, etc. Now they want the government to pay for any religious training students get, similar to what they receive in their religious institutions. Imagine this education:

In Bronx (NY), a Seventh-day Adventist pastor told his congregation that wives, as their husband’s property, must “submit,” even to the extent of being raped. He said:

“In this matter of submission, I want you to know upfront ladies, that once you get married, you are no longer your own. You are your husband’s. You understand what I’m saying? I emphasize that because I saw in court the other day on TV where a lady sued her husband for rape. And I would say to you gentlemen, the best person to rape is your wife. But then it has become legalized.”

Carson wants taxpayers to provide this type of education.

In Texas, a woman is creating a Christian maternity ranch where women can bear their children and live for a year. It would also have “host homes” for couples modeling “healthy marriages.” And of course, Bible study for Christian development in accord with her evangelical church’s beliefs.

Conservatives usually worship the words of the Founding Fathers, but they will likely ignore James Madison. Before he became the 4th president of the United States, he wrote the following for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the basis of the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments:

“That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.”

He associated the one religion, as evangelical Christians want, with attacks on representative government by destroying “unalienable” rights. Those who order subsidized religion become tyrants.

Thomas Jefferson wrote about the “wall of separation between church and state”—the “total separation of the church from the state.” Just as government cannot rule within religion, religion cannot rule within government—but Carson plaintiffs want taxpayers to give them money for their children’s religious education. Three-fourths of the states prohibit this public funding through constitutions and laws.

Ruling for the plaintiffs in Carson can mean taxpayers subsidizing teaching of creationism, theocracy, and discrimination against civil rights. One of the schools in question mandates that classes “refute the teachings of the Islamic religion with the truth of God’s word.” This isn’t true of private religious schools. Students coming out as LGBTQ under “counseling” and renounce the sexual orientation or gender identity. Public education are open to all students regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or ability, but the religious makeup of the majority of Supreme Court justices makes this case a slam dunk for the plaintiffs.

Rachel Laser presents a few guesses about what follows a ruling for Carson plaintiffs: homeless people required to attend religious services before county-funded housing, religious tests before they receive food, a mandate to accept Jesus as the savior for addiction treatment. That’s “religious coercion.”

In his brief, Maine Attorney General Aaron M. Frey stated:

“Maine has appropriately determined that a public education should be a nonsectarian one that exposes children to diverse viewpoints, promotes tolerance and acceptance, teaches academic subjects in a religiously neutral manner, and does not promote a particular faith or belief system.”

Students won’t get that in the schools that the plaintiffs have selected, one where they want taxpayers to provide tuition for their children. The high court’s march toward authoritarianism may add religion to reproductive rights.  

July 4, 2020

The U.S., a Failing State

A definition for 2020 is clear sight or “accurate discernment, judgment, or assessment hindsight.” The year 2020 clearly shows the United States as a failing state, defined by Rebecca Gordon as “a political entity whose government has ceased to perform most or all of its basic functions. Such a condition can result from civil war, untrammeled corruption, natural disaster, or some combination of those and more.” The Fund for Peace has four criteria:

  1. “Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
  2. Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  3. Inability to provide public services
  4. Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community”

1. Loss of control: The administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is replacing the rule of law with the wishes of one man who threatens his citizens with military force, ordering law enforcement to attack legal peaceful protesters to show his power. DDT encouraged his rally audience to “knock the crap out of hecklers” and congratulated a GOP congressman for physically attacking a reporter. DDT sees white supremacists who commit violence as “very fine people” and encourages to physically menace legislators debating Michigan’s stay-at-home policies. 

2. Erosion of legitimate authority: The growing suppression of voting increasingly removes collective decisions and replaces them with control by the wealthy. The Supreme Court elimination of the 1965 Voting Rights Act accelerated unequal access to the polls in 25 states during the past decade with voter ID mandates and restrictions on early voting, number and placement of polling places, and vote-by-mail. DDT failed to find voting fraud with a now defunct presidential commission and now spreads lies about vote by mail. DDT’s goal is to undermine confidence in elections to cover himself if he loses in November. For months, people have asked what can be done if DDT loses but stays in the White House. Today, DDT’s Supreme Court majority temporarily froze a decision from a lower court: people in Alabama are stopped from safely voting in its July 14th primary through requesting mail-in ballots. 

3. Failure to Provide Public Services: Just this year, DDT failed to stop COVID-19, causing a tripling of the unemployment rate and pushed a disastrous recession that could destroy the nation’s economy. Six months after an awareness of the disease in China, the government lacks enough equipment and supplies to care for millions of infected people. DDT insisted on reopening businesses and created a massive surge in the virus. He favors his friends and donors by giving them contracts. For example, Fillakit, a new contractor, took $7.3 million for plastic tubes for making soda bottles instead of the ordered test tubes. The contaminated product doesn’t fit the racks for lab analysis. Without masks and in the open air, employees used snow shovels to put the unsterilized tubes into plastic bins. In the early onslaught of COVID-19 in the U.S., the White House knew the CDC distributed contaminated tests to states.  As the number of infections and deaths hit a new peak, DDT has gone to court to remove healthcare for 23 million people in the U.S. Without the preexisting condition requirement, the millions of people contracting COVID-19 cannot be covered for any issues attributed to the virus.

4. Inability to interact with other states: Since his inauguration, DDT consistently cozied up to world dictators and alienated countries of the free world. He pulled the U.S. out of successful and hopeful treaties such as denuclearization of Iran and a world-wide climate agreement. He threatened to drop NATO and placed sanctions on cooperative countries of the International Criminal Court. He even pulled out of the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic. This past week, DDT turned his back on global cooperation in buying the entire three-month stock of remdesivir—a medication that might lessen stays in the hospital for people with COVID-19—so no one else could have any at a cost of $1.56 billion.

Today, the U.S., with 4.25 percent of the world’s population, has 26 percent of the over 11 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 25 percent of the world’s deaths, and cases are rising in 36 states. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress this past week the new COVID-19 cases, over 55,000 for each of the past four days, may rise to 100,000 a day. The count for today, July 3: 2,890,588 infections; 132,101 deaths. Statistics would show more infections and deaths if the reporting was honest.

The increasing numbers of deaths within jails and prisons brings to light the unnecessary and cruel incarceration in the U.S. along with the massive disconnect in healthcare services between the well-off and the marginalized communities. Homelessness suffers from the same health disaster in the greatest income inequality since the Gilded Age from tax cuts for the rich and the destruction of public services including education and infrastructure. In the U.S., 63 million people lack clean drinking water. As the virus expanded during the first three months of 2020, over $6.5 trillion in household wealth in the global economy equivalent to the combined economies of France and the UK; since March 18, U.S. billionaires have gained 20 percent in wealth–$584 billion.

Federal officials failed to protect healthcare workers by closing many of the over 4,100 coronavirus-related workplace safety complaints without taking action. At least 35 healthcare workers died after OSHA received safety complaints about their workplaces. Other than 275 fatality ongoing probes and 1,300 open healthcare complaints, the remainder of the complaints are listed “closed” in OSHA’s database. Its only citation was a $3,900 fine for a Georgia nursing home.

The man in the Oval Office declared himself a wartime president against COVID-19 and then surrendered. This week he said people will just have to “live with it” about millions of people contracting the disease, hundreds of thousands of people dying from it, and the economy crashing. DDT also claimed “not one governor needed anything” when VP Mike Pence’s questions. Yet across the nation, governors have asked Pence for help with viral spikes in their states.

Instead of trying to solve the COVID-19 disaster, DDT’s HHS Secretary Alex Azar is campaigning in election battleground states and pushing for reopening businesses. Last Sunday, Alex Azar called the virus a catastrophe but laid responsibility for handling it anyplace except the federal government.

A serious loss for democracy is this week’s decision from the Supreme Court, putting the Christian church in charge of the nation. Forcing taxpayers in Montana to pay for religious education, the high court violated the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. This ruling adds to DDT’s order that evangelicals can discriminate against women, LGBTQ people, Catholics, Muslims, atheists, differently abled, etc. in other areas such as fostering children. Private schools became popular in the mid-20th century to oppose racial integration.

The Supreme Court also conceals information about DDT by taking an appeal from a lower court decision making grand jury materials from the Mueller report available to members of Congress. Even if the Supreme Court were to affirm the lower ruling—which is unlikely—the decision won’t come down until after the election. DDT will be protected from public knowledge about Russian interference in his 2016 win until after his next election.

Acting as DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr is picking off U.S. attorneys general, and Richard Donoghue, representing the Eastern District of New York, is the most recent one. The Brooklyn post investigated, among other people close to DDT, Tom Barrack who chaired his inaugural committee. Donoghue was also in charge of all DOJ investigations about Ukraine. Now he’s headed for Washington, and a good friend of Barr will likely replace him. On Memorial Day weekend, Barr also removed Joseph Brown, U.S. Attorney for eastern Texas, who had been blocked in his attempts to criminally charge Walmart for its part in an opioid case, and replaced Brown with Stephen Cox, one of the Washington officials who blocked the charges. 

Some state governors collaborate with DDT in making the U.S. a failed state. Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott now requires wearing masks in public, less than two months ago his state attorney, Ken Paxton, threatened cities such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio with lawsuits if they require masks and sheltering in place. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who wants to preserve the economy by letting older people die, still insists, without evidence, the state reopen because infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “has been wrong every time in every issue.” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts threatened cities with not giving them federal virus relief funding if they require people to wear masks in government buildings.  Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey blocked cities and counties from restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 until June 17. All three of these states have serious spikes in the disease.

The United States is becoming a failed state, and Republicans work hard for it to happen.  

August 18, 2019

Oppose Fundamentalist Christian Opposition to Democracy

Much has been said about the connection between mass shooting and white supremacy, but people are more cautious in discussing its connection to Christianity. Activist Sandy Rios, activist for extreme conservative Christianity, claims that criticism of white supremacy is an attack on Christianity. In her radio program, she defended the Nazis for murder of white people because they selected those who didn’t qualify for the superhuman race. She added:
“When the left is talking about white supremacism, they’re talking about the roots of this country. They’re talking about Christianity. They’re talking about hard work, about capitalism and free-market values. They’re talking about everything that has made America what it is. That’s what they mean.”

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded on with the ideology that black slavery and white supremacy are the basis of the Christian faith. The white supremacist Ku Klux Klan has always been a Christian organization. Christians allowed Nazi Germany to take control and murder people because most German Christians supported the Third Reich even in the face of mounting evidence of its evil. Throughout Europe, millions of Christians still support fascist regimes just as early Christian sects were loyal to authoritarian leaders.

Centuries ago, Rome misinterpreted the Gospels to remove blame for Jesus’ crucifixion from Romans and move it to the Jews. Throughout time, the myth that Jews killed Jesus accelerated into Catholic genocide of Jews during the Holocaust. A racist, anti-democracy culture came from people who grew up in strict, pious households disparaging tolerance and free speech. Nazis despised feminism, homosexuality, and abortion while following a patriarchal lifestyle with discipline and conformity. Their elections reflected their belief that an authoritarian strongman would “make Germany great again”; religious Germans repeatedly voted for anti-democracy candidates. As Christians supported Hitler and his policies, he became stronger, and the minority weaker. Not even Hitler’s mandatory sterilizations of minorities and the mentally ill lost his Catholic leaders.

Michael Gerson writes about how Christians find their worship of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in opposition to Jesus’ spiritual education. For example, only 25 percent of white evangelical Christians accept the responsibility to help refugees, compared to 65 percent of those not affiliated with a religion. The majority of conservative Christians promote cruelty, corruption, and hypocrisy, not the people who consider themselves non-Christians. Gerson proposes that these Christians take their talking points from Fox, talk radio, and DDT with a blasphemous worship of political idols. They side with white supremacists, making them difficult to identify as Christians.  

Christian TV host Leigh Valentine claims migrant children in DDT’s concentration camps are “God-haters,” “unclean,” “debased,” and “criminals.”

DDT-supporting West Virginia state senator Paul Hardesty reported that at least three of his constituents called to complain about DDT’s profanity—“using the Lord’s name in vain”—at a recent rally in Greenville (NC). Although many of DDT’s listeners focused on the “send her back” chanting, others were disturbed by his frequent use of “g—damn” and other profanities. Hardesty hasn’t heard back from DDT after he wrote him to “reflect on your comments and never utter those words again.” Hardesty said:

“I think this president needs to be president to all of the people and realize that kids look up to him and adults look up to him. Carrying that type of language from behind the presidential seal is offensive.”

Two pro-DDT pastors expressed dismay about his use of “bullsh—” at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in March. He bragged about going “off-script” and then littered the remainder of his speech with cursing in front of an audience with young people. Yet some evangelicals support DDT despite his multiple divorces, infidelities, and inability to discuss religion. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says that DDT’s language is not a deal-breaker despite its front-and-center appearance in his campaign and since his inauguration. Evangelicals who turn against DDT think racism and cruelty are no problem, but his language is offensive. All sin—sexual assault, adultery, rape, murder, corruption, lying, etc.—is forgivable except swearing.

In the 16th century, one Catholic priest, Diego de Landa, destroyed the Mayan language and culture through the forced adoption of the Intolerance Meme that declares worshipping gods other than the primary one is a sin but justifies murder, slavery, forced conversion, racism, destruction of other religions, etc. Furious because the Mayans incorporated the Catholic god into their religion, Lana started the inquisition that tortured and killed Mayans throughout the Yucatan region. By 1720, not one person alive understood the meaning of the Mayan hieroglyphs. Landa was punished by house arrest in Spain, but only for an inquisition without authorization, and then promoted to Bishop of Yucatan in Central America.

DDT is not unique among presidential candidates in his swearing: Joe Biden makes slips, and Beto O’Rourke and Tulsi Gabbard use profanity. But they haven’t been elected to the highest office in the country, and they don’t count on the religious right for votes. In 2016, 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for DDT, and 61 percent of the voting bloc approve of the country’s direction—22 percent higher than the general population in the conservative Rasmussen poll.

According to Melissa Mohr, author of a book on swearing, DDT’s swearing was initially acceptable because his blunt statements gave him a sense of authenticity and came from “a deep well of real feeling.” On the other hand, the use of profanity for shock value, according to one of the pastors, “does raise questions about the president’s respect for people of faith.”

Recent developments show Christian collectively pushing the theocratic “dominionist” ideology in government through unconstitutional state-mandated “religious liberty” policies: 

Six weeks ago, federal prosecutors decided to retry humanitarian aid volunteer Scott Warren for aiding migrants on the southern border after his first trial ended in a hung jury. Following the words of Jesus, Warren gave food, water, clothing, and shelter to people on the Arizona desert, a belief that can put him in prison.

The VA announced new “religious liberty” policies against religious minorities by putting bibles in the public POW/MIA “missing man” displays. As justification, it cited the Supreme Court decision that allowed a cross to represent 49 men from Prince George County (MD) who died in World War I.

Frederick Clarkson reported to the House about Minnesota state legislators threatening to cut the entire budget for the Minnesota Historical Society if they didn’t drop all education and changes that don’t support the Christian nationalist concentration on only their “Judeo-Christian heritage.” Their insistence came from Project Blitz that prepares a package of Christian-only bills at the state level that promote discrimination. The lectures about the myth of the U.S. founded as a “Christian nation” were privately funded, but Project Blitz still wanted to block them.

The dominance of Israel over U.S. legislators has returned with DDT’s attacks on Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), both Muslims. Tlaib also has Palestinian heritage. Christian fundamentalists support Israel, hate Palestinians, and believe that Jews are going to hell if they don’t become fundamentalist Christians. Evangelicals need to eradicate the Palestinians so that Jews can gather on their land and must convert before the beginning of the great millennium, the golden age when Christ reigns on earth. In addition, Christian nationalists want the U.S. to be a white Christian nation. Therefore, the Christian fundamentalist position on Israel is selfishly religious and racist—not political.

Evangelical worship for DDT gives a bad name to all Christians—and all religious people. When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) told Fox and Friends that the shooting was a warning from God, Matthew Martin-Ellis wrote a piece for the Christian publication The Relevant describing Patrick’s comment as “logically indefensible.”

A group of at least 17 church leaders, united under the name Christians Against Christian Nationalism, is opposing the Christian nationalists’ attacks on other faiths and attempts to make the U.S. a fundamentalist theocracy. The coalition asserts:

“Whether we worship at a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, America has no second-class faiths. All are equal under the U.S. Constitution.

“Christian nationalism … provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.

“Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the state and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian.”

These leaders warn about the threat to both Christian faith and democracy if church and state don’t remain separate. They reject the idea that being a “good American” requires being Christian and argue against the privilege of Christianity by the State.

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

June 9, 2019

Give Me Deism!

From the Church and State publication, dedicated to religious freedom for all, comes a post by author Travis Haan, originally published on The Wise Sloth.  

“There are at least 4,200 religions in the world today, and countless more have been lost to history. It’s obvious there’s a 0% chance all of them are the true word of God. Some thinkers have speculated that each religion is at least a little divinely inspired and holds a piece of the puzzle left to us by God to put together. But the only way to come to that conclusion is to ignore huge tracts of doctrine in each religion. Ultimately, none of them are compatible. If any religion is true, there’s only one.

“This means at least over 6 billion people alive today believe in a religion that was written 100% by human beings and 0% dictated by the creator of the universe. A belief system written by human beings that has no bearing on the factual nature of reality is mythology. The cold, hard truth of reality is that the vast majority of the people alive today believe in mythology and dogmatically refuse to even consider the possibility that’s true. So if you believe in religion, there’s automatically a 99% chance you believe in mythology. If you refuse to question your beliefs, there’s no way for you to know if they’re true, which increases the chance that you believe in mythology to 99.9%. This number is increased to 99.99% if your religion contains any of the following:

1: Human sacrifices

2: Moral values that reflect the needs and wants of a specific primitive culture

3: Instructions to hurt, kill or look down on other people

4: Reasons to look down on yourself

5: A pyramid-shaped authority structure

6: Scientifically inaccurate statements

7: Magical beings, powers or events that no longer exist

“Some people have speculated that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in as long as you believe in something that gives you meaning, instructions and peace. But believing in something that isn’t real is the definition of insanity. It’s not okay to be insane just because you like it because it holds you and society back.

“Believing in mythology is counterproductive if for no other reason than it’s a waste of time. It keeps you busy going through meaningless motions while ignoring real world issues that have real consequences to you and the rest of mankind. Your life and everyone else’s would be improved by you focusing on real problems.

“To this, you might reply, ‘But how can we know how to live without religion?’ Remember that most of the world doesn’t believe in religion; they believe in mythology. So the real question is, ‘How can we know how to live without mythology?’ If mythology is just a belief system made up by humans, and you’ve spent your whole life living according to those rules, you already know the answer. We can make up our own ethics, and in fact, that’s what we’ve been doing all along. We just haven’t been honest with ourselves about it. If taking personal responsibility for your own ethics sounds scary or haphazard, consider that mythologies can contain horrible rules that can lead you to hurt yourself or others, which makes it all the more imperative you question your beliefs.

“This is especially true if you absolutely insist on believing one of our religions is the divine truth. Everyone wants to believe that their religion is the right one, but at least 6 billion people are dead wrong in their faith. Statistically, you’re probably one of them. The only way you or anyone else can find the right religion is to scrutinize yours objectively. This may sound like heresy, but it’s probably not a coincidence that you were created with the capacity for reason, skepticism, doubt, and logic. For the billions of people who believe in mythology, it’s a necessity. If your religion can stand the test of truth, there’s no danger in putting yours to it. If your religion can’t stand the test of truth, objectivity is the only way you’ll ever free yourself.

“Your quest for truth isn’t just about you. Most religions encourage you to convert nonbelievers, and even without actively proselytizing on the street corner, you passively send out the message that people should join your faith just by living according to it. If you believe in one of the religions that are mythology, you’re leading unwitting victims into a trap. If enough people in one area buy into mythology, one way or another, their beliefs are going to determine social norms and even laws. This has a harsh real-world impact on people who don’t believe in that particular brand of mythology. Another danger of spreading mythology is that some people will inevitably latch onto the most violent, oppressive, absurd rules within that belief system and use them to justify hurting other people. So before you go spreading the good word, it’s imperative that you make sure it passes the most rigorous test of truth, not just for your sake but for all of ours.”

Most of the Founding Fathers likely supported Haan’s position because they were Deists—people who believe that the supreme being is like a watchmaker who created the world as a machine but doesn’t intervene in people’s lives. Rejecting religion’s supernatural beliefs, Deism stresses the value of ethical conduct.

As a Deist, Thomas Jefferson studied the New Testament in Greek, Latin, French, and King James English and revised it, leaving the philosophy of Jesus and omitting all the miracles. He published his work in 1820 when he was 77 and called it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Gone were the stories such as feeding the multitudes with two fish and five loaves of barley bread; he finished with Jesus’s entombment but skipped the resurrection. His book is now at the Smithsonian.   

The strong belief of Deism during the 18th century negates the common Christian myth that the United States was “founded” on Christianity. Many of the U.S. founders determined that experience and rational thought determine people’s beliefs instead of religious mythology. They typically referred to “God” as the “creator.” With the influence of Deism, people saw little reason to pray, attend church, read the bible or follow such rites as baptism and communion.  For example, George Washing refused to take communion.

Thomas Paine called Christianity “a fable” in The Age of Reason”; as protégé of Benjamin Franklin denied “that the Almighty ever did communicate anything to man, by…speech,…language, or…vision.” He wrote:

“I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and in endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.”

Evangelical Christianity—like other fundamentalist religions such as Islam—is based on superiority, control, subjugation of women, and the acquisition of worldly goods. Its personal morality sees nothing wrong with killing people as long as the “right people” die. It sees no value in helping others if they aren’t the “right people.” As a tribal society, evangelicals select those who they will support and throw everyone else on the garbage heap. The belief has no relationship to the teachings of Christ.

An examination throughout the world shows that the most fundamentalist and religious countries cause the greatest difficulty. Christianity can be as negative and violent as Islam; both religions are nationalism and parochial. The misbegotten belief of one “chosen” people or religion leads to perpetual war from fear that one will lose that “exceptionalism.” Am example is Israel, a new apartheid state oppressing all others based on race and tribe in the same way that South Africa did in the past. For anyone to claim this disaster, however, brings accusations of anti-Semitism, just as calling for religious freedom in the United States produces hand-wringing of discrimination against Christians.

The mythology of extremist religious beliefs:

“We’re chosen, special and enlightened, and only we have The Truth.”

“The Truth” carried to extremes means nuclear war and a dystopian future, caused by religion. People in the U.S. who call for their personal “freedom” focus on taking freedom from others in their belief that only they deserve what they want. They use mythology to revert to the Puritan beliefs that brought people from Europe to the northern parts of America in the early 1600s. Once in control, the fundamentalists eradicate democracy and human rights—except for themselves—in a determinaton that they should control the entire world while destroying the planet.

Deism remained popular until the 19th century when Christian fundamentalism left Europe and began to take over the United States. Until then, the new nation retained its “wall of separation between church and state.” Now the legal barrier between a small group of Christians and the freedom of everyone else is being knocked down, brick by brick.   

It’s time to return to the Age of Enlightenment and Deism before the world is destroyed.

January 6, 2019

Christians Lead the Way to Making DDT King

Day 16 of the government shutdown: On the day that the debacle caused by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ties for the third-longest shutdown in history, U.S. lawmakers on the Mexico border are rejecting DDT’s wall in favor of technology and staffing at legal ports of entry for improved security and crossing times. DDT offered $400 million for these purposes but still demands $5 billion for his wall.

Part of Mike Pence’s job as vice president is to swear in newly-elected senators, and the far-right Christian evangelist is the first VP to swear in an openly pagan and bisexual person for the chamber. Even more horrifying for Christian conservatives was Kyrsten Sinema’s use of the Constitution for her swearing in. When she saw the photo marking for “spouse,” Sinema asked, “Can we get a spouse?”

People who think that the Constitution begins with the Second Amendment—skipping freedom of press, religion, assembly, etc—were resentful when they thought Rashida Tlaib, the new representative from Michigan, who they claimed was sworn into office on a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. One person wrote a concern that Muslims will “both receive a security clearance given to congress members.” Another one sputtered in a tweet:

“This is a disgrace of epic proportions. It is also unlawful. I am disgusted for every soldier who ever gave their life to protect our Constitution!!! I feel sick.”

Not much has changed since the fury of then Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) carrying the same Koran during his swearing when he became the first Muslim in Congress.

Representatives, unlike senators, simply raise their hands while swearing to support the Constitution of the United States. The House member with the longest continuous service, in the 116th Congress Don Young (R-AK) with 46 years of service, swears in the duly-elected Speaker who then swears in the other members en masse. A book of choice, whether it be a bible or koran, is used for photographs with the Speaker after the general swearing in.

Although many conservatives claims America only for Christians, Islam came to the continent in the 17th century with the West African slaves. Thomas Jefferson bought a Koran when he was 22 years old, 11 years before drafting the Declaration of Independence. He criticized Islam as well as Catholicism for “stifling free enquiry” because both religions tied religion to government, yet he supported the rights of believers. His private notes paraphrase the English philosopher John Locke’s 1689 “Letter on Toleration”:

“(He) says neither Pagan nor Mahometan (Muslim) nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion.”

Jefferson copied Locke’s ideas in writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom:

“(O)ur civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.”

Drafted in 1777, the Statute became law in 1786 and thus the basis for the U.S. Constitution’s “no religious test” clause and the First Amendment.

In Jefferson’s 1821 autobiography, he affirmed that the failure to add the words “Jesus Christ” to his legislation’s preamble proved the application of his Statute to be “universal.” Therefore religious liberty and political equality cannot be exclusively Christian but protect “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan [Muslim], the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.” “Universal” includes every one of every faith or non-faith.

Jefferson also welcomed the first Muslim ambassador, one from Tunis, to the White House in 1805. Because it was a time of Ramadan, Jefferson changed the time for the state dinner from 3:30 pm to be “precisely at sunset” to recognize the ambassador’s religious beliefs.

The month of Ramadan celebrates when Prophet Muhammad is believed to have first received revelations from God by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Each year, the event begins ten or eleven days earlier than the previous year, beginning on May 6 in 2019. Beginning in 1966, the White House commemorated Ramadan for two decades with an iftar dinner that broke the fast at night; DDT chose to ignore Ramadan in the first year after his inauguration.

While DDT’s supporters completely reject the Islam religion, they compare his election to the anointing of King Cyrus by God, a nonbeliever used by the faithful, as told by Mark Taylor, a former firefighter in The Trump Prophecy. Evangelical author Lance Wallnau, also in the film, said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”

DDT’s anti-Christian and anti-democratic attitudes make him popular with Christian nationalists who claim to follow the constitution and Founding Fathers while preferring autocrats and kings. Ralph Drollinger, the White House evangelist leading Bible study groups, has made “king” into a verb, i.e., “Get ready to king in our future lives.” DDT follows King Cyrus by making himself above the law, for example his most recent claim that he will build the wall with no authority from Congress. DDT’s evangelical followers also want only a king—no queens. Drollinger maintains that the Bible allows only “male leadership.” Even people who question his sexual language and behavior think that he’s a miracle sent from Heaven to lead the United States to God. To them, resisting DDT is resisting God. The current leading Christian movement in the U.S. today is unbending, authoritarian, patriarchal, and paranoid; it is an attack on democracy.

A sample of the far-right Christian sects and movements supporting DDT:

POTUS Shield: Televangelist Frank Amedia, leader of these self-described “warriors, worshippers, and watchmen,” insists that God visited him before DDT’s inauguration to ask him for a protective shield of prayer around DDT because he was sent to create a Christian fundamentalist takeover of the government. Members are Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, and Lou Engle, promoter of the Ugandan “kill the gays” bill—among other hate policies. One of their goals is doing away with Islam.

People of Praise: Predominantly Catholic, the group incorporates Pentecostal practices such as speaking in tongues, and requires members to swear an oath of loyalty to the group. Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who sits on the 7th Circuit Court and on DDT’s short list for a Supreme Court justice appointment, belongs to this group believing that women must submit to male authority. The terms “handmaid” and “handmaiden” to describe women are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, popularized in the 1990 film and 2017/2018 television series.

Quiverfull: This movement within fundamentalist Protestant Christianity claims that preventing a pregnancy is a sin and that all contraceptives are tools of the Devil. Christian wives, who must be submissive to their husbands, should have as many children as possible. Author Nancy Campbell called the womb a “weapon against Satan.” Kathryn Joyce wrote:

“If just eight million American Christians began supplying more ‘arrows for the war’ by having six children or more, they propose that the Christian Right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century.”

Wives are not allowed to have bank accounts or email addresses with their husbands’ permission, and they are to be always sexually available to their husbands.

Project Blitz: This coalition of Christian fundamentalist activists floods state legislatures with bills promoting a theocracy with the hope that a few may succeed in passing. Model bills come from the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF) playbook under the guise of “religious freedom.” Five states have passed “In God We Trust” bills mandating that the phrase be on public buildings, schools, and public vehicles include police cars. Other bills could provide proclamations that move religious teachings into schools through something like a Christian heritage week, followed by anti-LGBTQ bills to promote “biblical values concerning marriage and sexuality.” Christians are to rule the United States with their far-right vision, according to Project Blitz; all other people are second-class citizens.

WallBuilders: Founder David Barton, also active in Project Blitz, is a former chairman of the Texas Republican Party and director of Keep the Promise PAC that supported Sen. Ted Cruz’ 2016 presidential campaign. A history revisionist, he teaches that separation of church and state is unconstitutional and that the government should be based on strict biblical law.  Barton has advised Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Sam Brownback, and Mike Huckabee and regularly appeared on Glenn Beck’s Founders Fridays radio broadcasts. God established national borders, according to Barton, who opposes any immigration. In 2010, he tried to keep Martin Luther King, Jr. from Texas textbooks because “only majorities can expand political rights.”

Through the National Prayer Breakfast, far-right Christians connected with Russia to maintain the GOP leadership of the United States. Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, explained the background for the National Prayer Breakfast and its connection to Russia:

“It’s run by a private, sectarian, fundamentalist organization called The Fellowship and The Family that believes in precisely this kind of action. In fact, the long-time leader of the organization has called it quiet diplomacy, back channel, back door interactions between international leaders, that they use the prayer breakfast to bring them together. As recently as a year ago, the current leader, Doug Burleigh, was predicting alliance between [President Donald] Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. He predicted that at a Russian prayer breakfast.”

Russian Maria Butina, recently admitted to being a Russian spy, allegedly sought to influence U.S. officials not only through organizations such as the National Rifle Association, but also by exploiting the National Prayer Breakfast. Butina was denied entry into the United States until the NRA pushed through a visa for her. The affidavit stated that she intended to use the prayer breakfast to “establish a back channel of communications” between influential Russians in the U.S. with power U.S. citizens. This year, the Breakfast had the biggest group of any country. One of the Russians formally invited was sanctioned two months after the prayer breakfast.

Christian evangelicals are leaders of the movement to involve Russia in making DDT king of the United States with his support from Pence and the GOP base.

May 28, 2018

Rights’ Relief from Courts – Sometimes

Democracy from people often comes from court decisions. After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suspended democratic action by blocking any discussion for President Obama’s nominee for a Supreme Court Justice, SCOTUS moved away from people’s rights with Neil Gorsuch’s nomination by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Fortunately, the Supreme Court makes fewer than 100 decisions per year while courts across the nation can rule on constitutional rights in thousands of cases.

Recently, five Supreme Court justices removed rights from workers when five justices determined that employees must settle disputes through individual arbitration behind closed doors rather than through class action in open court. The decision worsens an earlier ruling allowing corporations to avoid class-action lawsuits from consumers. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg read part of her dissent from the bench:

“The court today holds enforceable these arm-twisted, take-it-or-leave-it contracts — including the provisions requiring employees to litigate wage and hours claims only one-by-one. Federal labor law does not countenance such isolation of employees. Trying to arbitrate such claims individually would be too expensive to be worth it, and “the risks of employer retaliation would likely dissuade most workers from seeking redress alone.”

Federal labor law permits employees to work together in improving their conditions and fight low wages, harassment, and discrimination, but the court states that companies can use arbitration clauses, forced on employees if they want the job, to ban joining together in legal actions. Employees must now fight individually against violations of minimum-wage laws, refusal to pay overtime, and requirements to work off the clock. Few private attorneys will take cases for so little money.

The day after this Supreme Court ruling, the National Labor Relations Board delivered an opposing position, that employees have the right to organize, bargain collectively and “engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” According to the Board’s interpretation of Section 8, an employment agreement requiring employees to resolve disputes by arbitration or on an individual basis is an unfair labor practice. The question now will be what opinions supersede others.

In a Supreme Court’s decision that states can legally bet on college and professional sports, Justice Samuel Alito said that each state has the right to act on its own if Congress does not regulate sports gambling. Next year, the Supreme Court will hear a case on when federal law trumps state law.

After churches in Morris County (New Jersey) received almost $5 million for repairs, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution forbids using public money for religious purposes. A year ago, the Supreme Court allowed taxpayer monies to be used for repair of a church’s playground in Missouri, but the ruling did not address houses of worship. The case may go to the Supreme Court.

A federal court in California ruled Friday against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in deciding that the agency violated privacy laws by using the Social Security Administration to analyze loan forgiveness for students defrauded by Corinthian Colleges. The court ordered debt collection from defrauded students to stop after DeVos stated that only part of federal loans would be forgiven. DeVos is supporting other for-profit colleges. She appointed the dean of DeVry to head a team to investigate these schools, including DeVry. She has also frozen protections for students and reduced loan forgiveness relief for students defrauded by these schools.

Gavin Grimm, a transgender student, fought for years to use the bathroom in high school, and a federal judge ruled the school officials of Gloucester County (VA) violated his constitutional rights for stopping him from using the bathroom matching his gender identity after the 4th Circuit Court sent the case back to the lower court.

Judge Orlando Garcia, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled that the state must comply with the federal National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) (or “motor voter” law) and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Construction on the final 18 miles of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in St. James (LA), located in an area called Cancer Alley, has been halted after a judge ruled that state regulators violated guidelines in issuing a coastal use permit. Town residents would have no way to evacuate after an explosion or other pipeline failure emergency, a fact not considered in the state’s permit. The company building the pipeline faces a legal challenge for its U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit through the Atchafalaya Basin, a National Heritage Area and massive river swamp. The 5th Circuit Court began to hear this case the beginning of May, but pipeline builders are already cutting down old growth cypress trees.

DDT cannot block people from his Twitter account, according to a federal judge who wrote:

“The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President.”

DDT can mute people’s accounts so that he doesn’t have to look at their comments.

Another DDT sign came down when a New York State judge ruled that the name “Trump Place” can be removed from a high-rise condo. The bad news is that the condo cannot change its name, and the sign will stay until two-thirds majority of the condo association agrees to remove the signs. DDT’s name has already been removed from three Manhattan buildings and hotels in New York, Toronto, and Panama.

A New York appeals court refused to allow DDT to stay a defamation case by Summer Zervos regarding her claim that DDT sexually assaulted her. At this time, DDT can be deposed in the case, and lawyers can proceed with pretrial discovery, including demands for documents. In addition, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said he’s vetting two more women on their claims that DDT gave them large hush-money payments. Zervos will subpoena documents from the Trump Organization about DDT’s alleged mistreatment of women, recordings from the archives of the president’s former reality show, and surveillance footage from the hotel in which Zervos says she was attacked.

The third federal judge has ruled against DDT over cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. The judge wrote that ending grants two years early was “arbitrary” and “capricious.” The 73 organizations receiving grants will have to follow DHS’ new requirements to focus on abstinence programs for continued funding while the eight suing organizations will not.

White supremacist Jacob Scott Goodwin has been found guilty of malicious wounding, nine months after he battered a young black man in a Charlottesville (VA) garage before his victim, 20-year-old DeAndre Harris was attacked by other white supremacists who broke his arm and injured his spine. Other attackers are awaiting trial. At the same event, another white supremacist deliberately drove into a crowd, killed Heather Heyer, and injured more than another dozen people. Two days after Goodwin’s guilt was established, white supremacist Alex Michael Ramos was found guilty of “malicious wounding” in the same attack. Both men face 20 years in prison. Two other men face trials for the assault.

Muslim-American Yonas Fikre is suing the government for putting him on its no-fly list to blackmail him into being an FBI informant to provide information about his place of worship, Portland’s largest Sunni mosque. His lawyer, Brandon Mayfield, has asked a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court to continue the suit that had been dismissed after the government removed Fikre’s name from the list stopping him from returning to his home in the U.S. Judges were irritated by the DOJ sudden offer to stop the appeal by promising that Fikre won’t be put back on the list for the same reasons as in 2010. They asked why the DOJ does not think that Fikre deserves declaratory relief after his marriage was destroyed and his business was disrupted. Mayfield has been awarded a $2 million settlement after the FBI wrongly arrested him as a suspect in the 2004 Madrid train bombings and subjected him to the same unconstitutional actions as the government did to Fikre.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, is the next cabinet member to be sued. A rule requiring communities to examine and address barriers to racial integration established in 2015 mandated assessment of local segregation patterns, barriers to fair housing, and planning to correct the problems. Carson called desegregation efforts “failed socialist experiments” and suspended the rule. The lawsuit asserts that Carson did not provide for public notice or comment opportunity. Carson said that the process was too burdensome. In addition, the lawsuit claims that HUD violated its duty to guarantee that federal funds promote fair housing—for example, giving millions in HUD grants to white suburbs in Westchester County that refuses affordable housing.

The next branch to be covered is the legislature.

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