Nel's New Day

September 15, 2018

DDT: Week 86 – The Times Get Worse

The biggest problems for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) this week may be his former campaign manager agreeing to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation in exchange for a guilty plea. After holding off for over ten months with multiple indictments and a trial in which he was convicted of eight charges, Paul Manafort has promised to tell about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.” In exchange, he may receive a shorter prison sentence and keep some property for his family. Manafort makes the fifth DDT campaign member to plead guilty to criminal charges. DDT may need to revise his position on Manafort being a “brave man” because he didn’t break but thus far he’s made no mention of Manafort’s guilty plea.

In more bad news for DDT, Michael Cohen will also tell Mueller what he knows—and he knows a lot!

Another “flipper” and former advisor to DDT, George Papadopoulos, got 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about interactions with Russian operatives, denied that he told an Australian diplomat about Russia having “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, and then told George Stephanopoulos that campaign members knew and supported his attempts to set up a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among those enthusiastic about the meeting, according to Papadopoulos, are now-AG Jeff Sessions and DDT himself. Sessions had told Congress under oath that he shut down the idea.

DDT is trying to save face about his failure with North Korea by talking about his new warm relationship with its leader, Kim Jong-Un, and claiming that North Korea will denuclearize by the end of the year (just after the general election). White House officials aren’t buying it, especially after North Korea accelerated its secret missile building. According to Bruce Klinger, regional expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation, the “consensus between State and Defense and the [National Security Council] … is that North Korea is not serious about denuclearizing.” Kim is working to separate DDT from his advisers, accusing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as trying to “thwart” DDT’s wishes. DDT’s announcement of a second summit with Kim came as a surprise to the State Department.

The national media fixated on southeastern U.S. as Hurricane Florence, which was downgraded to a Category 1, still creates havoc and at least 11 deaths as its winds, rain, storm surges, and flooding devastated large portions of several states. A bit of comic relief came from the video of a weather reporter stressing how rough the wind was as pedestrian strolled behind him.

Federal officials have talked about what a wonderful job FEMA director Brock Long is doing at the same time that he may be fired, supposedly for misuse of government vehicles. FEMA’s #2 position has been vacant during DDT’s terms; his original nominee withdrew because he falsified work and travel records. FEMA’s #3 has no experience for the job—but this has never stopped DDT’s officials from taking the jobs. Long was confirmed in June 2017 and in charge during the entire Puerto Rico fiasco.

DDT’s officials have been in frequent communication with rebel Venezuelan military officers to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. Military leaders said that the U.S. had a “military option” for their country. DDT has some of the same issues that Maduro is accused of—voter suppression, attempts to create domestic military control, rejection of poverty hardships, opposition to freedom of the press, acceptance of illegally-obtained money, and authoritarian leadership.

John Bolton, national security advisor, and DDT are threatening to sanction judges for the International Criminal Court if they investigate U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. Bolton calls the ICC an “illegitimate court” and threatens anyone who cooperates with the ICC. He also announced that the State Department will close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Washington office because Palestinians want an ICC investigation of Israel. The court was created after the Allied ad hoc tribunals to prosecute Nazi and Japanese war crimes during World War II. The U.S. joined in 2000, but George W. Bush dropped out in 2002 after his preemptive attacks against Afghanistan. Other countries leaving the 107-country ICC are Sudan, Israel, and Russia.

Burundi is grateful for U.S. protection in accusations of Burundian murder, rape, and torture. Its ambassador, Vestine Nahimana, praised the U.S. for objecting to the ICC prosecuting any war crimes and other crimes against humanity. Pierre Nkurunziza, Burundian president and despot, announced a referendum to keep his position until 2034, and his third unconstitutional “election” in 2015 led to the killing of 1,200 Buurndians while 400,000 fled the country. African countries may be a “sh**hole” to DDT, but he supports their position about not being prosecuted for crimes.

Matching the “fair and balanced” news from the Fox network, DDT’s Marijuana Policy Coordination Committee, 14 federal agencies and the DEA, to submit “data demonstrating the most significant negative trends” about marijuana and the “threats” it poses to the country. He has also threatened more cannabis enforcement despite his support of bipartisan legislation to permit state cannabis legalization. The committee does not seek data showing that cannabis consumption serves public benefit or reduces drug abuse. Eight states have legalized adult recreational use for cannabis, and 63 percent of people support federal legalization.

The GOP is preening because of 2.9 percent increase in wages last year, despite the fact that it exactly matches the 2.9 percent increase in inflation. To compensate for the flat wages, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) inflated the numbers by claiming that benefits increase wages greatly although he has no evidence for his figures.

DDT will be required to answer questions under oath in the defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, about his response to her sexual assault allegations. False statements could lead to perjury charges. DDT is refusing to turn over documents for discovery requests, and DDT’s attorney Marc Kasowitz claims that DDT is protected from civil litigation in state courts although the Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruled that a “sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal court for unofficial acts.” DDT had claimed that he did not sexually assault Zervos, that “all of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” He hasn’t sued any of them.

Last weekend, conservatives held a pro-DDT rally that they called the “Mother of all Rallies.” Speakers included DDT’s close friend Roger Stone, defender of his association with the hate group “The Proud Boys,” and Joe Arpaio, convicted Arizona senator candidate. Cohosts of Revenge of the Cis Mike “Mersh” Schiele and Royce Lopez asked one woman if she would ally with white supremacists to get Donald Trump re-elected. She agreed, also saying “1488,” white supremacist code referencing David Lane’s racist 14 words mantra, and “Heil Hitler!” “Mother” may be lonely: the rally brought a few hundred people at most, and Russian media reported the gathering at “dozens.”

DDT has canceled his November trip to Ireland. He gave no reasons but probably wanted to avoid the planned protests in Ireland.

Scott Wagner, GOP candidate for Pennsylvania governor, might want to fire its social media team after the firm’s political consultant, Ray Zaborney, sent this visual to senior campaign members—and a reporter by accident. The attack on both Colin Kaepernick, Caitlyn Jenner, and all transgender people is not something that someone can “forget.” “Believe in something. Even if it means cutting your dick off.” That’s GOP politics.

DDT topped 5,000 lies in 601 days after his inauguration, helped by the 125 lies that he told in Sioux Falls (SD) last week in 120 minutes—a single-day high. That total beat the 74 les at his Montana rally the day before, giving DDT an average of 8.3 lies a day and 32 lies a day in the nine days leading up to September 13, far more than his average of 4.9 lies a day for the first 100 days. In addition to his claims of the Russian “witch hunt,” DDT has been obsessively lying about the federal government’s failure in Puerto Rico during the past year which he insists is a success. Thus an average of 72 percent of DDT’s “factual claims” at his two speeches in Montana, those in July and on September 6, are false, misleading or unsupported by evidence avoiding double-counting, trivialities, and opinions. WaPo has a breakdown of all 88 claims on September 6.

Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off tomorrow, and DDT may lose more support among that group, already down to 22 percent approval, after his many lies about Puerto Rico. The release of Bob Woodward’s book Fear also led to many DDT lies.

Imagine a rocket going off into space with “Budweiser” in huge letters on the side. Or “Coors” on the space suit. It could happen if administrator Jim Bridenstine gets his way. He told NASA to look into selling naming rights to both rockets and spacecraft and use astronauts to advertise commercial products such as cereals. DDT also wants to privatize the International Space Station. It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for beer.

Seventy-two percent of people want DDT to testify for Mueller’s investigation.

June 5, 2018

Supreme Court Winds Up Year, More Court Cases

Mondays in June mean decisions from the Supreme Court. This week the justices gave extremely narrow rulings on two major case, leaving both sides dissatisfied. The first, dealing with whether religious beliefs can be used to discriminate against others, concerned a Colorado baker who would not sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. The ruling came out on the side of the baker but left no decision for the legality of allowing religious beliefs or free speech rights as justification for refusing services to LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court decision, with only Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg dissenting, claimed that the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed “religious hostility” which “cast doubt on the fairness and impartiality of the Commission’s adjudication of Phillips’ case.”

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner for the baker approved of the statement that “government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society,” a ruling that may also be used to assert that hostility from people’s faith likewise has no place in the United States. She refused to answer a question about future rulings if the baker again refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-gender couple. Using state anti-discrimination laws requiring public businesses to equally serve all potential customers, several courts have turned down self-identified artists such as florists, bakers, and photographers who claim violation of their rights if they have to give business to same-gender couples, a claim that this ruling doesn’t decide.

Author of the ruling, Anthony Kennedy, wrote that LGBTQ people “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth.” He added that future cases “must be resolved … without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” According to the ruling, the U.S. has a “general rule” that religious and other objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny … equal access to goods and services.”

In dissension among justices, Gorsuch and Alito asserted that the Supreme Court cannot tell a baker “that a wedding cake is just like any other,” using sacramental bread as an analogy. Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer disagreed, stating that a wedding cake doesn’t change just because “a vendor like Phillips invests its sale to particular customers with ‘religious significance.’ ” Kagan referenced a 1968 decision requiring a barbecue restaurant owner to serve black customers despite his claim that his religion opposes racial equality.

The cake people failed to get a ruling that the Constitution protects discrimination, but it does give states the right to legislate against discrimination, including against LGBTQ people. The ruling against religious animus is an interesting comparison to the religious animus in DDT’s travel ban, another Supreme Court ruling to be released this month.

In a case about the DOJ imprisoning an undocumented migrant girl so that she could not get a legal abortion, the Supreme Court gave a mixed ruling. It declared the lower court’s ruling to be moot and therefore not binding because the girl had already had an abortion but declined to sanction the opposing lawyers to the DOJ for what the DOJ called deception because the procedure was rushed through before the DOJ could appeal to the Supreme Court. The high court has never before been petitioned to sanction lawyers. The decision in this case does not affect an ongoing class-action case about the rights of immigrant teens in government custody to obtain abortions. DOJ is declaring the case a win for them, but the narrow ruling was for only one girl who had already had an abortion.

The Supreme Court is also due to consider whether to review a Washington state Supreme Court decision that a florist could not legally decline to provide flowers to a same-gender wedding. Major decisions in June concern partisan gerrymandering and DDT’s travel ban.

The Supreme Court refused to address an Arkansas law that ends the use of medication abortions in the state and closes two of the state’s three abortion clinics because they perform only medical abortions. Doctors who provide medication abortions must have a contract with a specialist who has hospital admitting privileges, a burdensome, unnecessary mandate because complications are extremely during the use of two pills in the first nine weeks of pregnancy and can easily be dealt with in an emergency room or hospital. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court had earlier upheld the Arkansas law, but Planned Parenthood will appeal the case to lower courts. U.S. District Judge Kristine G. Baker temporarily blocked the law, saying that it was “a solution in search of a problem.” Two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges in a local hospital.

In a more positive ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that police need a warrant to search a person’s property, specifically vehicles parted on a driveway or carport. The 8-1 decision followed a 2013 ruling that police may not bring drug-sniffing dogs to the front porch of a home without a search warrant. Samuel Alito said that a search is reasonable because “the vehicle was parked in plain view in a driveway just a few feet from the street.”

Other rulings outside the Supreme Court:

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that Donald Trump must have a seven-hour deposition before January 31, 2019, as part of the defamation lawsuit by Summer Zervos, who accused Trump of groping her in 2016. July 13 is the deadline for both parties to issue demands for documents with September 13 the deadline for responses. The case goes to trial after June 7, 2019.

A Maine judge ordered Gov. Paul LePage to start voter-approved Medicaid expansion after he missed the April 3 deadline to file a plan with the federal HHS. After LePage vetoed the expansion in legislature five times, he argued that he couldn’t implement a law not funded by the legislation although the state has a $140 million surplus.

Felony charges have been dropped against ten people arrested protesting DDT’s inauguration because the government failed to turn over evidence it got from Project Veritas, known for James O’Keefe’s doctored videos. The judge barred the government from bringing back the charges in the future. A D.C. jury is deadlocked regarding three others involved in the protest. Forty-seven people of the original 200 charged are still facing court cases, but no defendant has been convicted.

And new cases:

Ambridge Event Center, which managed an event center owned by the Holy Rosary Church in Portland (OR), is suing the church for almost $2 million because its anti-LGBTQ bias hurt business. The negative press from the company’s inability to rent to a PFLAG chapter lost business from government and businesses that believe in equality. If Ambridge worked for the church, the law violation is employment discrimination; if Ambridge is a renter, the church violated the law with housing discrimination. Oregon’s exemption for religious groups applies only if “the use of facilities is closely connected with or related to the primary purposes of the church.” Ambridge has gone out of business.

Rustem Kazazi, a 64-year-old Cleveland resident, is suing U.S. Customs after customs agents at an airport took the family’s life savings–$58,000—that he was taking to Albania to help his family and buy a vacation home. The agency’s website says that there is no limit to the amount of money brought into or taken out of the U.S., but the agents refused to return Kazazi’s money although the family, all four citizens, was not charged with any crime. Agents also refused him a translator, strip-searched him, and gave him a receipt without the amount of money they took. A month after the money was taken, the agency wrote them, claiming that the money was “involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.” The letter also reported $770 less than Kazazi had been carrying. The federal government took over $2 billion in assets from people in 2017.

Phoenix is suing the government over the proposed census question on citizenship for fear of losing federal funds and marginalizing residents.

The American Federation of Government Employees, representing 700,000 workers, is suing DDT after he signed an executive order severely restricting the time employees may spend on union activity. The lawsuit claims his order violates the First Amendment and oversteps his constitutional authority. The order restricts “official time” for union leaders to represent workers during work time in grievances about unfair labor practices or disciplinary actions during work time, a guarantee provided by Congress 40 years ago.  The order still allows individuals to work on their grievances while on duty but without union assistance. Administration says that the change could save up to $100 million a year—equivalent to about two-thirds of DDT’s weekend junkets. Other orders instruct agencies to restrict unions in contract negotiations and fire employees more rapidly.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa and ISU student Taylor Blair are suing Iowa’s secretary of state over the state’s voter ID law “apparently timed to disrupt the June 5 primary elections.” Facebook advertisements had stated that “Iowa voters will be asked to show a form of valid identification,” omitting the information that voters without ID could sign a form swearing to their identity and then cast a normal ballot. Another part of the lawsuit claims that the secretary of state’s website omitted some ID permitted under the law, such as an Iowa student identification plus proof of address.

Worried about getting DDT’s conservative judicial nominations approved after the midterms, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has reduced the August recess from four weeks to one week. Another theory for the change is that Democrat senators, defending 26 Senate seats this year, will be hobbled by less time to campaign while their Republican opponents have a free field. The GOP has nine incumbents on the ballot, including Nevada’s Dean Heller who is struggling with re-election.

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