Nel's New Day

July 9, 2020

DDT’s Royal Crown in Jeopardy, Final SCOTUS Decisions

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

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

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

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote:

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

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

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

The opinion placed these restrictions on subpoenas regarding DDT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 6, 2020

Not All Bad in Week 180

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.  

June 30, 2020

Bittersweet News from SCOTUS, Bad for DDT

Before the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the sometimes “moderate” justice kept women’s rights on life support. His resignation left Chief Justice John Roberts in that position, one he fulfilled today in the 5-4 decision that struck down a Louisiana law created to strike down all except one clinic in the state that performs abortions. The gist of the law was the state mandate requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, almost identical to a case about Texas law SCOTUS overturned just four years ago. In that decision, a 5-4 court determined the unconstitutional law served no benefits to patients but significantly burdened their access to abortion.

Brett Kavanagh, who promised Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) he is pro-Roe v. Wade to get Kennedy’s position, showed he is no Kennedy: he and Justice Neil Gorsuch joined ideologues Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas against women’ reproductive rights. Roberts voted against the majority four years in his desire to keep the Texas law, and he wrote his own opinion to prove he’s still a conservative—just wanted to preserve stare decisis, deference to precedent, and not overturn a former SCOTUS ruling. Because Roberts is the swing vote for this case, opposition to abortions will be the key to future cases, permitting restriction just short of their illegality. He sets a high hurdle to keeping right: benefit is irrelevant, and decision is based on a substantial obstacle.   

Slate’s court reporter Mark Joseph Stern questions the extent of the victory of constitutional rights for pro-choice. In his analysis of the high court’s opinion, Stern maintains Roberts “marks a retreat” from the earlier case declaring the Texas law unconstitutional. Under the new ruling, a woman could be forced to wait a week for an abortion and visit the clinic hundreds of miles away three times to see anti-abortion documentaries—no medical benefit to the patient while imposing burdens. Yet the court could determine this requirement doesn’t meet the level of “a substantial obstacle.” Next year, Roberts could find a way to overturn Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) which prevents laws banning abortion before viability. As Stern wrote, “A chill wind still blows.”

Roberts is not wedded to precedence. He voted with the majority in Citizens United (2010) to overturn long-held principles of campaign finance and in Janus (2018) used the same rationale of free speech to overturn a unanimous 1977 decision allowing public sector labor unions to collect fees against the wishes of employees.

A chill wind also blows for Collins, whose vote is a major reason Kavanaugh is casting far-right votes on SCOTUS. He already voted to deport Dreamers and allow employers to fire LGBTQ people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Collins said she believed Kavanaugh when he promised not to overturn Roe v. Wade and guaranteed he would respect precedence, “essential to maintaining public confidence. And she’s up for reelection in under five months.

While people cheered for today’s pro-choice rights decision, most of them ignored a disastrous decision in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, allowing a president to fire the director of the supposedly independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause. Again Roberts was the swing vote, this time a conservative 5-4 vote putting other independent agencies at risk. The opinion didn’t go as far as to declaring the entire agency unconstitutional which the plaintiff under CFPB investigation had requested. The law creating the agency specified the presidentially-nominated director, who must be Senate-confirmed, could be fired only “for cause,” specifying “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” Other agencies with the “for cause” firing limitation include the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. They may suffer the same fate in loss of independence.

The current CFPB director, financial sector defender Kathleen Kraninger, will likely stay for the next few months because agency investigations have drastically slowed down since the occupation of the Oval Office by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). She may disappear with a Democratic president, however, a loss for Wall Street’s corruption. Between its inception in 2010 and 2016, the CFPB returned $12 billion to defrauded consumers. 

In the dissent by four justices, Elena Kagan wrote the five conservatives failed to respect the high court’s role in allowing the other two government branches, Congress and executive, the decision in structuring the executive branch. She also pointed out the vote removes “independence from political pressure.” Another part of the dissent told originalist justices the constitution has nothing about separation of powers and the president’s removal authority.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who originally envisioned the agency, was more positive, cheering about a conservative SCOTUS recognizing the constitutionality of the agency “and the law that created it.”

In addition to issuing decisions today, the Supreme Court turned down two cases. One, a challenge to AG Bill Barr’s return to the federal death penalty, opens up the possibility of executions next month for the first time since 2003. It also refused to hear a case about waivers of federal laws for border wall construction that kills wildlife and destroys the environment. Lower courts have ruled the waivers don’t violate the separation of powers.

Other big news today pointed out possible cracks in DDT’s Teflon. The discovery that intelligence told DDT about Russians paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops has taken the U.S. by storm. The New York Times initially reported the information on Friday, and within three days, DDT’s stories keep changing. A few facts:

Intelligence knew as far back as January—when DDT was negotiating a peace agreement with the Taliban—and briefed DDT.

The bounty has been linked to deaths of U.S. military members.

In March, DDT learned about the intelligence reports but failed to respond.

In the past few months, DDT has had several friendly phone calls with Vladimir Putin, including five hidden ones in early April after the briefing.

DDT called Putin and Russia friends of the U.S., sent humanitarian aid to Russia, and pushed the other six members of the G7 summit to taken Russia back.

On Saturday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed DDT knows nothing. Little did McEnany know, her defense of DDT depicted him as ignorant, uncaring, negligent, lazy, and incompetent. And a liar like DDT. Part of her faulty defense was for his tweeting a video advocating “white power” staying up for three hours while DDT was unavailable on the golf course. (The White House claims DDT couldn’t hear the cries for “white power.”)

This timeline shows Russian support for the Taliban, U.S. clashes with Russian mercenaries, “destabilizing [Russian] activity in Afghanistan, three U.S. Marines killed by Taliban, and discovery of $500,000 in a Taliban outpost confirming U.S. intelligence suspicions about Russia paying bounties.

Since the reporting, DDT has said, in this order: (1) he never got any briefings; (2) he hadn’t been briefed because it was bogus; and (3) he was briefed but the intelligence wasn’t credible. According to respected political columnist David Ignatius, Pentagon officials were “pounding on the door” to get DDT to do something about the Russians’ damage.

People are left to decide which of the three is right: (1) DDT knew about the Russian’s paying the Taliban to kill U.S. troops and did nothing; (2) intelligence couldn’t tell DDT because they were afraid of him or what he would tell people; or (3) DDT didn’t bother to read vital national security information. Each of the three decisions shows a completely incompetent leader of the free world. In an effort to save his skin, DDT provided Republicans a briefing about the situation today but made Democrats wait until tomorrow. The briefing should have been for both parties at the same time, but DDT wants the GOP to have a one-day advance to prepare a defense for him.

Seven years ago, DDT tweeted: 

Ignorance is inexcusable; it’s the surest way to fail. No acceptable reason exists for not being well informed.”

Yesterday he tweeted:

“Nobody briefed or told me … about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians…. Everybody is denying it & there have not been many attacks on us…..”

Because DDT cares only about the election, he’s terrified about voters’ reactions. This TV ad reflects the reaction from VoteVets.

DDT’s problems with COVID-19 aren’t over either. Its new mutations make contagion easier and correlates with far greater cases in younger people. World infections topped 10 million over the weekend (today 10,412,433) with deaths over a half million (508,228). New infections in the U.S. are still soaring—44,734 for June 29—with the total up to 2,681,811 and 128,783 deaths. Federal officials such as HHS Secretary Alex Azar went on Sunday news shows to talk about the virus’s catastrophe while saying it isn’t their problem to fix. And DDT ignores the disease.

June 19, 2020

DDT Runs Afoul of Executive Orders, COVID-19

For eight years, the Republicans hated presidential executive orders–until they elected Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Their opposition to these orders stay in the GOP platform because Republicans decided to retread the 2016 platform citing their hatred of President Obama. DDT loves signing orders because he gets to look important.

Eight years, ago, President Obama signed an order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program allowing undocumented young adults who were brought to the United States as children to apply for protection from deportation. In 2017, DDT signed his own order ending the program, telling almost 800,000 young people they should immediately be deported. After lawsuits against the order wandered the courts for almost three years, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4 with Chief Justice John Roberts the swing vote, against DDT’s order, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” The decision didn’t state DDT was wrong, just that he didn’t provide sufficient justification.

The executive order was sent back to the Department of Homeland Security, and, after a day of tantrums, DDT declared the high court wanted him to rewrite the order for reissuing.  

Damon Linker wrote about the decision:

“Presidents and their appointees can’t simply do anything they want, even when the aim falls within their purview. They need to abide by the rule of law in taking action…. It’s what separates a nation governed by law from one ruled by the whims of a malicious despot and his obsequious enablers.”

BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman wrote:

“This outcome is similar to what happened in the census citizenship question case — in both cases, Roberts wrote for the majority of the court that the Trump admin could in theory do what they were trying to do, but that officials had gone about it in an unlawful way.”

Law professor Steve Vladeck commented about the ruling:

“It’s not that Chief Justice Roberts is a closet progressive. He’s not. It’s that the Trump administration is really bad at administrative law.”

Steve Benen continued with the theme of his new book, The Imposters:

“Many of the White House’s recent failures are the result of its indifference to the substance of governing.

“Earlier this week, North Korea literally blew up a diplomatic office, in part because Trump launched a risky gambit for public-relations purposes, failed to do his due diligence, never bothered to formulate a specific plan or policy, and sat helpless as his half-hearted effort failed.

“Soon after, the political world was confronted with revelations from John Bolton’s new book, in which the former White House national security advisor describes the president as, among other things, a man who doesn’t care about governing, doesn’t know how government works, and prioritizes politics over policy.

“Meanwhile, Trump’s plan to hold a risky campaign rally in Tulsa is becoming increasingly controversial in ways his political operation may not have anticipated. Those who take governing seriously care about data, evidence, and expertise — and in this case, the coronavirus data out of Oklahoma is awful and getting worse; the evidence points to an enclosed venue where the virus can spread easily and quickly, and the experts are telling anyone who’ll listen that this is a bad idea.

“But because Trump and his allies are no longer members of a governing party, and have instead become leaders of a post-policy party, these developments are sadly predictable.”

Being able to legally work and attend school in the U.S. has made DACA recipients productive. About five percent of them contribute to healthcare work during the danger of COVID-19. Over 90 percent of DACA recipients are employed, and 45 percent of them attend school. In January 2018, 87 percent of people said DACA recipients should be allowed to stay if they work or attend school.

DDT believes Roberts wants another executive order, but a new attempt on his part could address whether the original DACA order was illegal or lacking in “sound policy.” This issue was not addressed in this week’s ruling and could last another three years or more in the courts. It could also be problematic in an election year.

Since the DACA executive order, DDT has learned to write ones totally without substance while making exaggerated statements about their effects. For example, he said he was keeping meat plants open during the pandemic, but the order told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work with OSHA to make decisions.

DDT used the same approach when he signed his “law enforcement reform” order earlier this week. He said his order banned chokeholds, except “when an officer’s life is at risk.” The order actually states chokeholds are permitted wherever law allows them.  

DDT described his order as “pretty comprehensive.” These are his “orders”:

Police brutality has occurred.

Congress will pass policing-related legislation. (Congress started working on reform before he wrote the order.)

DOJ funding will pay police departments to provide federally-approved training programs. (An example of the huge loopholes is money only for departments prohibiting the use of chokeholds “except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.”)

The HHS Secretary should encourage police departments to improve law enforcement handling of mental health crises, addiction, and homelessness. (No explanation how.)

A national database should track police misconduct.

No policies, no orders, but DDT can use his statement to veto anything from Congress with a lie that he’s already created “reform.”  He’s already demanded law enforcement officers keep their immunity and described his appreciation for police brutality. People want “law and order,” according to DDT, although “some of them don’t even know that’s what they want, but that’s what they want.”

When Barack Obama was president, DDT stated President Obama “signs executive orders because he can’t get anything done. I’ll get everybody together.” Then he moved on to complaining about the few times President Obama golfed. With his own ability to sign these orders, however, DDT holds up his signature, pointing to it like a toddler pointing out his toilet-training achievement.

DDT’s favorite part of signing orders comes from the speech he gives afterwards. In this case, he extolled the virtues of police officers, returning to the idea that the massive police brutality, even more obvious during the past three weeks, is from a few bad apples. He called school choice, which means using taxpayer funds to support religious groups, as the “civil rights statement of the year, of the decade, and probably beyond.” (Not voting rights of equality in justice—just taxpayers paying for religious instruction.)

Although DDT claimed to have met with families of nine victims of police or racially motivated killings, none was in his audience for his signing. His photo-op showed himself surrounded by male cops, only one of them black. “We have to break old patterns of failure,” DDT said. 

Meanwhile, DDT is pushing VP Mike Pence, the evangelical, to tell governors to lie to their people so they will think COVID-19 has disappeared after a backlash to his rally tomorrow. With spikes in the virus throughout over half the states, Pence told governors to tell people the virus has disappeared. DDT claims the only reason the number of cases could go up would be more testing. Dana Milbank compared this reasoning to people believing they aren’t gaining weight if they don’t weigh themselves. DDT and Pence are willing to kill hundreds of thousands to win an election.

Predictions show the U.S. COVID-19 death toll to over 200,000 by early October, up from 170,000 deaths, because of states lifting lockdowns and ignoring safety measures to prevent the virus. Florida insisted on opening the state and keeping it open, but yesterday, it was one of four states—Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas—with almost half the 33,000+ new cases for the day although they have about 20 percent of the nation’s population. Pence also lied to reporters about the new virus spike in Oklahoma, its highest one-day total since the pandemic began in the state on March 6, by calling it a “flattening” curve.

Pence also wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed about “overblown” reports of a “second wave” while DDT is “winning the fight.” A factcheck about Pence’s piece, however asserted he “overstated the amount of coronavirus-related medical equipment distributed by a Trump administration program on multiple occasions, according to public data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” The amount of masks, shields, and other PPE was far less than Pence stated, especially the 1.5 million N95 masks instead of the 143 million Pence declared.

As both DDT and Pence call for a “celebration” to the current end of COVID-19, people need to remember their comments earlier this year before over 120,000 people died of the virus in the United States.

June 15, 2020

High Court Gives LGBTQ Victory

On the first Mondays of June, the Supreme Court releases surprises, and today’s decision is the greatest reward for LGBTQ people since the high court ruled for marriage equality almost exactly five years ago. By a 6-3 vote, employment discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity is now illegal. The ruling goes back to 1964 when segregationist southern Democrat Howard Smith (V) put the word “sex into the Civil Rights Act as a joke to make the bill fail. Instead the bill passed, giving rights to women—and now LGBTQ people.

Three cases were joined in the court appeal, two against gays and a third against a transgender woman. Two of the three plaintiffs have died, Donald Zarda in 2014 and Aimee Stephens in mid-May this year. Gerald Bostock, fired because he joined a gay softball league, has recovered from prostate cancer and will return to court in Clayton County for issues such as his job reinstatement and back payment.

AG Bill Barr and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) fought the Supreme Court decision, claiming “the ordinary meaning of ‘sex’ is biologically male or female; it does not include sexual orientation.” In a dissent, DDT’s justice Brett Kavanaugh claimed the law is based on the “ordinary meaning,” not the literal definition. Kavanaugh had been handpicked by his predecessor, Anthony Kennedy, who voted in favor of LGBTQ rights. The ruling is in keeping with public opinion, however, even Republicans who support it by 74 percent. Over 200 major corporations filed a brief supporting the gay and transgender employees in the cases. This ruling means all 50 states cannot use LGBTQ status, or perceived status, to fire employees instead of the 21 states protecting residents from firing until the decision. Seven more states protect LGBTQ public employees.   

Most exciting about the victory is that DDT’s conservative appointment to the court, Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion. The term “sex” in Title VII, the anti-discrimination law applying to workforces of 15 or more people, doesn’t use the words “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”  Gorsuch, however, stated:

“It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

Another surprise was a vote from Chief Justice John Roberts to support the ruling after he was on the losing side when the high court voted in favor of same-gender marriage. Two years later, however, Roberts voted with five other judges to overrule the Arkansas Supreme Court in Pavan v. Smith to treat same-gender married couples the same as heterosexual couples when listing parents on birth certificates.

A question about the ruling is whether it applies to military service because DDT has banned transgender people from serving. Legal and Policy Director Peter Perkowski for the Modern Military Association of America stated:

“Make no mistake: the Supreme Court has ruled that discrimination against LGBTQ people is discrimination based on sex. That truth applies regardless of context.”

I can understand the joy people feel about today’s ruling removing LGBTQ job discrimination. Throughout our teaching careers of over 30 years, both my partner and I lived in fear we would lose our jobs. Although we never openly discussed our sexual orientation, most people were aware of our relationship. We could have been fired at any time with no justification other than our being lesbians.

The current ruling opposing LGBTQ discrimination in employment, upholding findings from lower courts identifying sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination, is unique because no other court has decided on the violation of a statute. Instead, they have focused on liberty, dignity, or hatred. This new decision can open the floodgates to LGBTQ lawsuits in other areas.

Last Friday, DDT finalized a rule banning sexual orientation and gender identity from being covered by the 2010 Affordable Care Act prohibiting discrimination on sex. Joshua Block, a litigator at the ACLU’s LGBT Project, tweeted:

“It’s hard to overstate how much this administration has staked its anti-LGB-and-especially-T agenda on its misreading of Title VII. It’s now an achilles heel in built into almost every terrible regulation and enforcement action for past 4 years.”

DDT’s ban on transgender people in the military is challenged in Karnoski v. Trump. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to continue while the case awaits a hearing in the 9th Circuit Court or moves to the high court. Aaron Belkin, director of an organization researching military personnel policy, stated:

“Today’s ruling makes the military, so often a successful leader in ending discrimination in American life, an outlier amidst a national consensus that arbitrary discrimination is harmful and wrong. With transgender workers protected by federal law in all other sectors, the military’s transgender ban is now even harder to defend.”

That military issue uses different legal issues from today’s decision, but Justice Samuel Alito Jr stated in his dissent the decision “may exert a gravitational pull in constitutional cases,” citing the military ban challenge.

Litigation on Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 uses the definition of the word “sex” regarding to equal treatment in education and sports. David Flugman, a civil rights litigator at law firm Selendy & Gay, said:

“That line of case law is going to immediately be bolstered by this case. I think this case will be helpful in a number of ways, and just like Title VII itself, we’ll see this decision used in a number of ways we can’t predict.”

Single-sex homeless shelters can also discriminate against transgender people, HUD Secretary Ben Carson announced today.

A victory last month for transgender people is the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear an appeal from Idaho to refuse gender confirmation surgery for a transgender woman in prison. In a 7-2 decision, the high court sided with a 9th Circuit Court ruling for Adree Almo, in prison since 2012, to receive the surgery. Last year, the 5th Circuit Court ruled against a Texas inmate to get the same surgery.

Same-gender couples also scored a victory from a federal judge order to pay Social Security benefits to surviving partners of same-gender couples denied the ability to marry sooner because of state marriage bans. In Arizona, James A. Taylor, committed partner of Michael Ely, died six months after the couple was married in 2014 following the Supreme Court legalization of marriage equality. Ely was denied federal survivor benefits because they had been married only six months, and the law requires nine months for qualification. U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Macdonald wrote that “reliance on an unconstitutional law” perpetuated an “unconstitutional infringement on Ely and Taylor’s fundamental right to marriage.” He ordered Social Security benefits paid to every person denied benefits because of same-gender marriage ban. For almost 25 years, Taylor worked as a jet mechanic for Bombardier in Tucson (AZ), and Ely took care of their home. Now Ely, 67, can receive the same benefits as any heterosexual surviving spouse. [Right: Ely with a photo of his husband, “Spider” Taylor.] 

More victories today came from cases the Supreme Court didn’t take today. It passed on ten challenges to federal and state gun control laws, despite the dissent of two justices, Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. Left in place are restrictions on the right to carry weapons in public in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey; Massachusetts’ ban on some semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity ammunition magazines; a California handgun control law; and a half-century-old federal law banning interstate handgun sales. 

Wisconsin’s bid to reinstate a state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals was put on hold while being litigated.

Although justices Thomas and Alito objected, the remaining seven judges refused DDT’s challenge of California’s so-called sanctuary law limiting local cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Left intact, the 2017 California law creates policies barring the use of state and local resources to help federal enforcement efforts.

And the next two Mondays? Decisions on subpoenas for DDT’s tax returns and financial records, continuation of the DACA program to allows immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to apply for protection, women’s right to abortions by outlawing TRAP laws, religious control of government, and the right of DDT to fire independent agency directors. Have a good week waiting!

May 14, 2020

GOP Goal: Destroy Institutions Upholding the Rule of Law

Last Tuesday was a  busy day for the three branches of government: the Supreme Court heard arguments from Dictator Donald Trump’s  (DDT) lawyers that he is above the rule of law; a Senate committee heard testimony about the dangers of DDT’s reopening the nation despite the prevalence of COVID-19; and a federal judge responded to DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr about dropping a guilty plea for lying about his attempts to negotiate with Russia without government approval while Barack Obama was president—an illegal action. In all three cases, Republicans have tried to exonerate DDT as his actions break the rule of law.

Supreme Court: 

In an electronic session, SCOTUS justices heard almost four hours of arguments about whether DDT is above the law in his lawsuits against releasing subpoenaed information regarding his financial records. DDT’s lawyer Jay Sekulow asserted DDT is “a branch of the government” and therefore cannot be investigated for the IRS’ handling of his tax returns, allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election, and his falsification of assets for loans and taxes. 

Sekulow also argued that DDT is so busy he cannot take time to deal with the lawsuits because hey would distract from his presidential duties. DDT supposedly watches seven hours of cable TV each day, not going to the Oval Office until noon for his brief daily briefing instead of early in the morning as his predecessors did. In the afternoon he phones some governors and world leaders before his coronavirus press briefings (aka campaign rallies), but most of those briefings have disappeared. DDT rarely attendings the meetings of the coronavirus task force, ignoring the prepared remarks until immediately before he reads them. When DDT is allowed out of the White House, he plays golf and campaigns for his re-election. In responding to Sekulow’s argument that DDT is busy, Rachel Maddow described DDT’s complete schedule for last Monday.  

President Bill Clinton also argued for the Paula Jones’ 1998 lawsuit to be deferred, but the Supreme Court unanimously agreed Jones could pursue her lawsuit. The only dispensation for Clinton concerned when and where he should respond to demands for dispositions and other information. Justice Neil Gorsuch asked for the difference between the two cases. Sekulow replied that allowing the New York investigation would open the floodgates to up to 2,300 local prosecutors instituting probes.

Sekulow alleged that a “criminal process targeting the president” violates the Constitution. Both Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito seemed to side with Sekulow: Kavanaugh compared financial records to medical ones that probably wouldn’t be given to Congress, and Alito wanted a “limit” on the House’s subpoena power to keep from harassment of a president. DDT’s lawyers frequently used the term “harassment,” ignoring the House’s legitimate purpose to determine DDT’s conflicts of interest for the purpose of strengthening laws.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with DOJ’s principal deputy solicitor general Jeffrey Wall when he questioned the motives of the Congress and argued that Congress needs to explain what laws it might write in order to substantiate a subpoena. She told Wall:

“To impugn Congress’s motive, even the policeman on the beat, if he stops a car and gives the reason that the car went through a stop sign, we don’t allow an investigation into what the subjective motive really was. So, here, you’re—you’re distrusting Congress more than the cop on the beat.”

Since DDT was inaugurated, he has rejected all subpoenas from the House and told all officials that they should not testify at hearings, the most recently everyone on the coronavirus task force. Justice Elena Kagan said that DDT would “essentially make it impossible for Congress to perform oversight and carry out its functions where the presidency is concerned.” As DDT uses political motivation for all his actions, he accuses others of the same.

DDT has consistently claimed he is above the law because of Article II in the U.S. Constitution, yet the constitution has no language establishing executive immunity. The framers of the document specifically prohibited secret bribes, a directive which requires oversight over the president. In discussing the powers of the presidency, James Madison argued that it be “confined” and warned against the “Evils of Elective Monarchies.” The first Congress in “the decision of 1789” empowered lawmakers as whistleblowers to block an executive’s corruption establishing a “throne on the ruins of your visionary republic” and “secure his election perpetual.” The Judiciary Act of 1789 held executive officials accountable instead of above the law.

Much as I am reluctant to be optimistic about anything connected to DDT, top-notch legal minds think that DDT may lose his crown—and his tax returns. Even conservative justice Clarence Thomas, who spoke during the second case in several years, asked Sekulow if the authors of the Constitution explicitly endorsed total criminal immunity for a president. Sekulow tried the spin that the idea had been “discussed” but finally said “no.” A major theory is that the New York case will be successful but that the House’s subpoenas may fail. The Supreme Court decision is final; DDT will have no higher court for an appeal.

Senate:

At exactly the same time the Supreme Court heard the three cases about DDT’s financial records, the Senate conducted a hearing about COVID-19 with four health experts. Dr. Anthony Fauci made the biggest splash when he testified that the true death toll from the virus is likely higher than reports and that attempts to a return to normal will cause major spikes in infections. Later he contradicted DDT’s assertion of virus being “well contained” by saying, “If you think we have it completely under control, we don’t.” Others testifying were CDC Director Robert Redfield, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attacked Fauci for saying that “the consequences could be really serious” if local economies open too quickly. Paul said, “Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all.” Fauci answered by saying he “never made myself out to be the end-all,” that he’s “a scientist, a physician, and a public health official.” The senator wants all children to go back to school in the fall and accused Fauci of keeping them out of school. Before the hearing, Fauci had said nothing about schools’ reopening, but he answered Paul with a concern about the symptoms of a mysterious inflammatory syndrome now appearing in children and thought to be linked to COVID-19. DDT said that Fauci’s cautionary approach are “not an acceptable answer.”

Justice Department/Federal Judges:

The third major event on Tuesday occurred when a federal judge blocked AG Bill Barr from dropping the case against Michael Flynn who had confessed to lying to the FBI. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan put the DOJ request on hold until people and organizations can argue about Flynn’s exoneration. Earlier, Flynn repeated that he was guilty of lying, no one had coerced him to plead guilty, and he wouldn’t be taking back his guilty plea. Then he did. Almost 2,000 former DOJ employees representing both political parties who have called for Barr’s resignation may now be involved in the court case, and the proceedings will be public, complete with witnesses and evidence. And just before the November election.

Sullivan also asked John Gleeson, a retired federal judge, to investigate the possibility of Flynn’s perjury. Part of Gleeson’s record is putting John Gotti, a late mob boss, behind bars. Barr, supposedly a prosecutor, will be acting like a defense attorney by claiming that Flynn shouldn’t have been interviewed in an investigation; thousands of former DOJ employees accuse Barr of politicizing the department for DDT’s wishes. Last Monday, Gleeson co-authored a commentary article that states:

“The law provides that the court—not the executive branch—decides whether an indictment may be dismissed. The responsible exercise of that authority is particularly important here, where a defendant’s plea of guilty has already been accepted. Government motions to dismiss at this stage are virtually unheard of.”

The DOJ is part of the Executive branch of government. Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason said the DOJ “cannot have it both ways.” By saying Flynn didn’t lie to the FBI, it’s saying that he lied to the judge. Perjury is a reason for a new indictment.

Mary McCord, acting assistant AG for national security at the DOJ from 2016 to 2017, wrote a piece for the New York Times titled, “Bill Barr Twisted My Words in Dropping the Flynn Case. Here’s the Truth.” She asserted:

“The F.B.I.’s interview of Mr. Flynn was constitutional, lawful, and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose.”

The commentary clearly refutes Barr’s spin for his request to drop the Flynn case. She quotes Georgetown law professors Neal K. Katyal and Joshua A. Geltzer’s warning that Barr’s dismissal “embeds into official U.S. policy an extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people.” McCord points out Barr’s dismissal was far more than protecting Flynn. Instead, DDT “is discrediting the fundamental institutions that establish the rule of law.”

All that in just one day.

World confirmed COVID-19 cases are over 4.5 million and deaths are over 300,000. In the U.S., deaths are 86,912 on May 14, 2020, out of 1,457,593 confirmed cases. Testing is up to 32,000 per one million people in the U.S., an average of under 100,000 tests per day since he CDC developed its test. DDT prefers less testing. 
 
 

May 11, 2020

Life Gets Worse for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) held his first press conference since April 27—two weeks ago—and it didn’t go well. He refused to answer a question from an Asian-American reporter who came to Virginia when she was two years old by telling her to ask China. When she asked why, he said she had a “nasty question.” DDT had called on another reporter but then refused to let her ask any questions. When she tried to ask a question, he whirled around and stalked out of the Rose Garden. Journalists had different reasons for this particular meltdown, based on his recent personal problems.

First, COVID-19 invaded the White House in the form of two infected people, three others in self-quarantine, and most of the staffers afraid. DDT is “annoyed” about two staff members testing positive. Yesterday, Kevin Hassett, a top DDT economic adviser, said it’s “scary to go to work” and he’d “be a lot safer” if he stayed at home. He called the White House “a small, crowded place.” Staffers are told to wear masks when they aren’t at their desks and maintain social distancing. DDT still doesn’t wear a mask.

Second, the Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow in three cases about whether DDT is above the law, as he is proud of claiming, and cannot be investigated. In one case, the House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed DDT’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, for possible fraud in hush money for Stormy Daniels and declaring assets for loans and taxes. Other subpoenas are for Capital One and Deutsche Bank about “questionable financing” of his businesses and whether “any foreign actor” (aka Russia) has “leverage” over him. The last case comes from whether, as president, he can be investigated for violating state law, also involving hush money DDT paid women with whom he had affairs. All the lower courts hearing these cases ruled that a president is not above the law, just as the Supreme Court did 46 years ago when it ruled that President Richard Nixon was required to give audio tapes to a special prosecutor. Nixon resigned 15 days later. The high court also ruled that President Bill Clinton had no immunity from lawsuits regarding events before he was elected.

Third, DDT was so traumatized by President Obama’s statements to 3,000 former staffers about the illegality of AG Bill Barr dropping the case against Michael Flynn and DDT’s incompetence in regard to the COVID-19 crisis that he rage-tweeted 52 times in one hour yesterday morning and every 7.5 minutes throughout the day. On the “leaked” tape, the former president was heard to say that DDT’s response to the pandemic was an “absolute chaotic disaster.” In his tweets, DDT fixated on the investigation into his 2016 campaign ties to Russia, calling it “Obamagate” and stating that it is “the biggest political crime in American history, by far!” He wants people “indited [sic].” DDT did squeeze in one tweet with “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY’ but wrote nothing about the at least 80,000+ people who have thus far died of the virus. The only mention of the crisis was to praise himself by tweeting, “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic.”

At today’s press briefing, journalist for the Washington Post Philip Rucker asked DDT what the crime is and whether the DOJ should prosecute the former president. DDT obfuscated for a while with no explanation of any crime. Rucker repeated his question, and DDT said:  

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours.”

At the press briefing, DDT also kept claiming that the U.S. has far more testing capacity than any other country. Thirty-seven other countries have tested more than the 29,255 people per million tested in the U.S.: Canada, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Israel, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Austria, and Australia as well as many smaller countries.

Rural counties, including those in red states are seeing new COVID-19 hot zones in reopening states. Two-thirds of people in the U.S. live in counties with rates of over 100 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents. The fastest growth of numbers in Midwestern and Southern states comes in smaller counties. Just 2.3 percent of newly high prevalence counties are in the Northeast. Counties voting for DDT in 2016 were more likely to see new cases in the past week.

In the press briefing, DDT repeated his lie that people “should all be able to get a test right now.” The lesser favored areas—mostly Democratic—must prioritize symptomatic people who have doctors’ prescriptions. CDC wants prioritization of hospitalized and high-risk patients. The nine million tests haven’t begun to meet the demand for testing. One-third of surveyed people feared they had the disease, but only five percent of the third could get a test. Admiral Brett Giroir, the Health and Human Services official overseeing testing efforts, said that states “aspire” to perform more than 12 million tests in the next four weeks, about 3.6 percent of people in the U.S. Yet, like DDT, he also said that people should not get tests if they have no symptoms, ignoring all the asymptomatic infections that need tracing—possibly up to 50 percent of the virus cases. According to Dr. Francis Collins, director for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Abbott ID Now machine, used to perform rapid coronavirus tests, has “about a 15% false negative rate.” That means the testing that DDT, white House staffers, and anyone near DDT and VP Mike Pence will give a false negative 15 times for every 100 tests.

DDT has avoided any mention of the unemployment rate after using it for three years to prove how successful he is. In six weeks, 33.5 million people have filed jobless claims, and the Department of Labor listed the unemployment rate at 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression. About 157 million people were employed before the health crisis, meaning 20 percent of them have lost their jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, those figures fall woefully short of reality. Another 4.3 percent unemployed come from those who dropped out of the labor force. If the 7.5 million workers “misclassified as ’employed, not at work’ instead of ‘temporarily unemployed’ …  were classified correctly AND all coronavirus-related job losses had shown up as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be around 23.6%.” According to the EPI, about 12.7 million people lost employer-based health insurance.

Last month, the EPI also reported that three to four people couldn’t get into the system to apply for unemployment for every ten people who succeeded. Another two per ten said that the process was too complicated to try. That means an additional 50 percent of eligible unemployed not reported. Technical failures include difficult phone verification processes, limits of applications only on specific days, wait times of six to eight hours, websites shut down for long periods, and user information issued by mail.

Even without these glitches, the number of jobs lost in April was more than double the entire number lost in what was called the “Great Recession” of 2009. Although 80 percent of people who lost their jobs think they will get them back, this belief isn’t reality. According to Bloomberg, a large number of layoffs called “temporary” a month ago are now “indefinite” or “permanent.” J. Crew and Nieman Marcus are declaring bankruptcy, and Lord & Taylor are liquidating inventory in its 38 department stores. Although small businesses may reopen, fear will keep customers to going to them. Fifty-two percent of them expect to be out of business within six months.

On Fox & Friends, DDT’s BFF and trade adviser, Peter Navarro, called the reporting of unemployment a “pity party.” He continued, “Anybody who thinks this is the Great Depression doesn’t understand either history or economics.” Then he repeated DDT’s claim of “the strongest and most beautiful economy” before the virus. Two of the “pity party” participants were DDT’s appointees, White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. They agreed that job losses was leading the U.S. toward a similarity to the Great Depression. Mnuchin said that jobs were “probably going to get worse before they get better.”

Last week, Deutsche Bank predicted the second quarter GDP plummeting 40 percent, up from an earlier estimate of 13 percent down. It also thinks the economy will have a much slower recovery, hoping for an increase of 15 percent in the third quarter and 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter for a decline of 8 percent for 2020, rather than the prior forecast of 3.2 percent. A drop in consumer spending causing much of the 4.8 percent GDP slump in the first quarter will worsen. Goldman Sachs warned an 18 percent drop of stocks in the next three months because it’s in a “pseudo-bullish rally” right now.

Over 80,000 people—plus thousands and thousands of people not tested—have died from the deadliest disease in over a century, 26 million people have filed for unemployment this month, unemployment is over 20 percent, the stock market is the most volatile for decades, the GDP has dropped to unbelievable levels, and DDT announced at his campaign rally (that he calls a “coronavirus briefing”) that he is throwing himself a party on the Mall on the Fourth of July—despite the pandemic.

May 10, 2020

DDT: Week 172 – GOP Protection

The debate over whether Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) will pardon traitor Michael Flynn is most likely over: DDT’s AG Bill Barr is dropping the case against him. 

In late 2017, Flynn, DDT’s first national security adviser who lasted 24 days, twice pled guilty to lying to the FBI, but now U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea claims that Flynn’s lies were not “material” to any investigation. Barr put his close friend Shea into that position after moving Jessie Liu out of the department. The AG had also hired an outside prosecutor to review Flynn’s case files, hired another outside prosecutor to investigate he Russia investigators in addition to scrutiny provided by his independent inspector general, and gave the defense FBI internal deliberations about questioning Flynn. The argument must yet be accepted by U.S. District Court Emmet Sullivan who told Flynn in an earlier hearing, “You sold your country out.” Flynn’s lead prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, withdrew from the case.

Flynn became famous in 2014 when he was forced out as head of Defense Intelligence Agency because of complaints about his management and erratic behavior. In November 2016, Flynn secretly lobbied for Turkey while advising DDT and later lied to the FBI by claiming in a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing that he didn’t know he was lobbying for Turkey. Then Flynn was caught secretly conferring about U.S. sanctions on Russia with its ambassador Sergey Kislyak while Barack Obama was still president. In January 2017, he denied these conversations but later admitted he lied about his efforts to influence foreign diplomats about a December 2016 UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction. Flynn became the first DDT aide to flip on his boss. When Flynn hired a Fox pundit for attorney in June 2019, he agreed to speak at a QAnon conference until Mother Jones publicized his involvement with the conspiracy group.

Criminal law experts said that Barr’s decision to drop the case against Flynn, his most recent effort to destroy Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, was unique. Barr’s pattern of protecting DDT and his friends began immediately after his appointment. Earlier this year, Barr forced prosecutors to lower a sentence recommendation for DDT’s adviser Roger Stone. The prosecutors withdrew from the case. Barr also requested more comfortable prison accommodations for convicted Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign chair, and dropped charges without justification against two Russian shell companies close to trial for financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election using social media.

David Ignatius wrote, “If Michael Flynn did nothing wrong, why didn’t he tell the truth?” Flynn tried to hide—and then lied about—his discussion about President Obama’s sanctions on Russia with its government before DDT moved into the Oval Office. If he thought there was no wrongdoing, he would have been open about his actions. Added onto that question is another one: why did DDT work so hard to protect Russia?

In an interview, Barr claimed that “history is written by the winners” when asked how historians would view his dropping charges against Flynn. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) was dismayed that “the rule of law,” supposedly upheld by Barr, wasn’t “predicated on the outcome of elections NOT mattering.” Other responses to Barr’s statements were “there is no good or bad except what the strongest want. The definition of autocracy.” And from poli-sci professor Robert Kelly in South Korea: “The U.S. equivalent of the justice minister is embracing might-makes-right historiography.” Barr responds with what the Daily Beast calls “a sly smile.” 

From here on out, all white-collar crimes committed by conservatives are exonerated; DDT’s loyalists, like DDT himself, are above the law.

DDT’s appointed FBI director Christopher Wray may be the patsy for the Flynn scandal: DDT blames him for “skirting” the debate about the Russia investigation. Now DDT also pushes responsibility for Wray’s appointment to former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Known for frequently firing people, DDT said he learned a good lesson from studying Richard Nixon:

Don’t fire people… I should’ve in one way, but I’m glad I didn’t, because look at the way it turned out. They’re all a bunch of crooks and they got caught.” 

Chief Justice Roberts is also protecting DDT. Despite a request from the D.C. Circuit Court, the Supreme Court will not direct a federal court to conduct an ethics inquiry into the suspicious retirement of a judge. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been pressuring judges to step down so that he can confirm far-right, ultra-incompetent, extremely-young judges for lifetime appointments. For the resignation of Thomas Griffith, he found 37-year-old Justin Walker. Chief Justice of the D.C. Circuit Court asked Roberts to direct another court to conduct the inquiry, but Roberts claimed no “probable cause.” McConnell refuses to answer questions about conversations with Griffith.

The Supreme Court also permitted DDT to temporarily shield redacted grand jury materials in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe from the U.S. House despite a judge’s order to the contrary. Last week, SCOTUS also cleared the convictions of the two New Jersey officials who blocked the George Washington Bridge to create havoc for a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Chris Christie for the state’s governor in 2013. The two officials were following Christie’s orders.

In another victory for DDT, the Senate Republicans failed to override a veto to block DDT’s declaring war on Iran. For the second time in two years, Senate Republicans accepted DDT’s right to start a war although the Constitution gives that power only to Congress. In the last year, the U.S. has sent 14,000 additional service members to the Persian Gulf religion, including 3,500 to Saudi Arabia. Also sent were “early-warning aircraft, maritime patrol planes, Patriot air and missile defense batteries, B-52 bombers, a carrier strike group, armed Reaper drones, and other engineering and support personnel,” according to NYT reporter Catie Edmondson.

For the second time, the U.S. blocked a UN ceasefire resolution amid the global pandemic. With no evidence, DDT used the excuse that the World Health Organization withheld information from world governments about COVID-19. He also withheld the funding for WHO, indicating that he would give the $400 million to Samaritan’s Purse, Franklin Graham’s anti-LGBTQ religious group.

Ninety-two percent of a Barrons poll report that they want to bail out the post office. Meanwhile, DDT has appointed a donor buddy to head up the USPS. Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman, in charge of fundraising for the RNC in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general with three Republicans and one Democrat on the five-member commission. The Democratic vice chairman, David Williams, resigned last week because of the Treasury Department’s meddling in a supposedly apolitical agency.

DDT, terrified of losing his attempt at re-election this fall, can’t call off the election. Part of his bag of tricks to win is destroying the USPS and stop any vote by mail. During his April 18 press briefing (aka campaign rally), he said, “Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they are cheaters.” That was a month after he voted by mail in the Florida primary, possibly illegally. And before he declared that California’s votes won’t be eligible in the general election if California Gov. Gavin Newsom carries through with vote by mail.

The retirement for 5.9 million federal employees and military members may be in trouble. DDT is trying to seize control of the board for the $557 billion retirement program to prevent the independent agency from investing in an index fund including Chinese companies. Doing this could wall off investments available in other 401(k)-type plans, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned DDT against his plan that could hurt financial markets and threaten DDT’s China deal. Peter Navarro, DDT’s trusted trade adviser who Jared Kushner found on amazon.com, wants to take action against China.

DDT promised that Mar-a-Lago would never be both a club and a single-family residence, but then he moved there from New York. He’s insisting on building a dock, and attorneys for his new neighbors found documents making it illegal for him to use the club as his official domicile and register to vote from there as long as it’s a club. Mar-a-Lago is taxed as a private club, and DDT promised local officials that he would not live there. He would only maintain “private quarters” with a “use” agreement. DDT’s also trying to get out of the agreement that no one will permanently live on the premises unless the club fails and that half the club members be Palm Beach residents or business owners. Even now he’s violating the agreement that no one live there more than longer than seven days at a time over three times a year. Florida may be looking into whether DDT voted illegally from the club in the state primary.

While people are dying for the same of DDT’s economy, he tweeted this ad, including a photo of lush links: 

Game on! We are thrilled to announce the reopening of  @trumpgolfla beginning  Saturday May 9th! We look forward to welcoming you back 🏌🏽‍♂️Book your tee time now!

Happy Mother’s Day.

Although some states falsify the rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths to keep them lower, the number of cases is still 1,367,638 and deaths, 80,787 as of May 10.

 

 

May 3, 2020

DDT: Week 171 – Time for Good News

While the macho protesters threatened lawmakers with assault rifles and forced their way into the Capitol, a small virus (right) moved through the scene by remote control. Video here.

The Post Office will deliver all ballots without the correct postage.

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 that insurance companies should be provided $12 billion from the federal government in unpaid claims from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The mandated remuneration period was for the first three years of ACA’s startup, but GOP members of Congress capped payments from 2014 through 2016. Insurers argued that this was a “bait and switch”; except for Justice Samuel Alito, the court agreed. Alito called the ACA a “massive bailout” for companies that “bet unsuccessfully on the success” of the ACA. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called the fund a “bailout” during when GOP began its efforts to eliminate the ACA in 2013. The ACA stated that the government “shall pay, and eight justices ruled that the government should honor its obligations.

The GOP refusal to obey the ACA for three years cost both people and the government a great deal of money. Paying the $12 billion on time would have restrained premium increases and health company failures. Republicans, however, wanted these problems to prove that the ACA was broken; unfortunately for them, the system stabilized and became popular.  

In another ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed a New York gun rights case because the law had been rescinded. Three justices—Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch—claimed that the case was not moot and that “the court permits our docket to be manipulated.” Four justices, however, want to examine whether lower courts have wrongly upheld gun control measures. The fourth justice is Brett Kavanaugh.  

The Supreme Court also decided, 6-3, that pollution discharged directly into navigable waters requires permits and returned the case to a lower court. The majority ruled that the Clean Water Act applies to some pollutants that reach the ocean and other protected waters indirectly through groundwater. DDT’s administration had filed a brief in favor of the Maui (HI) wastewater treatment plant that daily disposed of four million gallons of treated sewage by pumping it into groundwater a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean. The 9th Circuit Court ruled the the pollution was “fairly traceable” to the plant. Thompson, Gorsuch, and Alito all dissented.

A federal judge in California ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to “identify and track” every person in ICE detention at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 and to consider releasing those detainees, regardless of their legal status. Risk factors include pregnancy, age over 55, and chronic health conditions. ICE reported 220 confirmed COVID-19 cases among custody and 20 among employees in detention facilities. The judge wrote, “[ICE has] likely exhibited callous indifference to the safety and wellbeing of [detained immigrants at risk.] The evidence suggests systemwide inaction that goes beyond a mere ‘difference of medical opinion or negligence.’”

The 7th Circuit Court upheld two lower court rulings against DDT’s blackmail attempt to withhold millions of dollars from so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions that don’t go above and beyond the law in helping to deport immigrants. DDT has said he might restrict COVID-19 aid to states and cities with “sanctuary policies.” Two of the three judges on the panel said the ruling is nationwide although one of them wanted it limited to Chicago, which brought the lawsuit. There may be an appeal to the Supreme Court.

A federal judge ruled last month that tens of thousands of immigrants denied medical care and disability accommodations by the federal government can proceed with their lawsuit against ICE. He also denied the separation of the lawsuit into 15 separate cases in eight different district courts and refused ICE’s motion to strike the 200-page complaint.

A federal judge ruled that DDT again violated the agreement requiring the government to release migrant children detained at the border and kept in unlicensed facilities within 20 days. The children were ordered released because the government had stopped allowing children to go to parents, relatives, or potential guardians in New York, California, and Washington. Plaintiffs also argued that delays endangered children from COVID-19.

People married to immigrants without Social Security numbers are suing DDT because the IRS mandated people living in a household with any person not having a Social Security number are not eligible for the $1,200 disaster relief checks. The plaintiff would have qualified for a $1,200 stimulus check, but he files taxes with his immigrant spouse, who uses an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. The lawsuit also names Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as defendants. The couple’s children are also excluded because one parent is an immigrant. The lawyer presenting the case said:

“If you are discriminating on the basis of marriage, the government has to show there is a compelling government interest that justifies this exclusion. It’s a very high burden to meet.”

A federal judge blocked the government from giving $8 billion in COVID-19 relief funding designated as assistance for Native American communities to for-profit corporations owned by Natives. These corporations act as holding companies for businesses benefiting from Native lands. Alaska has about 237 of these corporations. Native American tribes need the funding to “continue essential government services,” according to Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM). Judge Amit Mehta agreed no evidence exists that the for-profit companies provided public services during the health crisis and said it was “unlikely” that the Treasury Inspector General could just take back improperly distributed money, as the government claimed. People on one reservation, the Navajo Nation, test for the virus at a rate nine times more than people in Arizona, and medical supplies and care are woefully inadequate. 

Native Americans achieved another victory in North Dakota. Many of them lost the right to vote in the 2018 election because a new state law required everyone, including people living on the reservation, to have street addresses. They also lacked driver’s licenses, and the state disqualified IDs issued by the tribes. The state has settled two lawsuits because a federal court refused to dismiss one of the challenges; North Dakota will now guarantee that Native voters without a street address will be permitted to vote.

A panel from the 10th Circuit Court struck down a Kansas law requiring proof of U.S. citizenship for voter registration and delivered a rebuke to its creator, former state Secretary of State Kris Kobach who is now running for U.S. senator. The 2013 law, blocked by a federal trial judge, had no basis in accusations of voter fraud although DDT made Kobach in charge of his commission on voter fraud, disbanded in 2018. Kansas could appeal the case to the entire 10th Circuit Court. The Kansas GOP is so concerned about Kobach being the winner in the primary—and thus losing in the general election—that it has asked two of his five opponents to narrow the field by dropping out. The GOP primary for U.S. Senate is on August 4, 2020. In a crowded contest, Kobach won the party’s 2018 gubernatorial race but lost in the deep red state to Laura Kelly, a Democratic woman.

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities issued a ruling prohibiting all employers and insurers from denying coverage for transgender people’s health care needs relating to gender transition.

Republican senators aren’t abandoning DDT, but they understand that a connection to him may not help their campaigns. A memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee has contributed to DDT’s temper tantrums:

Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban—attack China.”

The memo came from a political consulting firm advising Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), unopposed for his 2020 re-election and aiming for the GOP presidential candidate in 2024. DDT’s political adviser Justin Clark told NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin that candidates following the memo’s advise won’t have the support of the reelection campaign. GOP candidates “who want to win will be running with the president.”

DDT’s justification for doing nothing about the health crisis for months is that he knew nothing about the problem. Yet in over a dozen classified briefings during January and February, U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in the President’s Daily Brief, designed to alert a president to the most significant global developments and security threats. DDT downplayed any problems from the virus until the middle of March, over two weeks after fatalities of COVID-19 were documented, and was outraged at the warning from Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, that virus was spreading so rapidly that “we need to be prepared for significant disruption in our lives.” He was worried that the news would adversely affect the stock market. Now people have proof the DDT did not take “early, aggressive historic action,” as DDT’s deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley claims.

As of May 3, the United State has at least 1,188,384 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 68,600 deaths in a little over two months. The numbers are much lower than reality because some conservative jurisdictions—including Florida—aren’t reporting the cases and deaths. In addition, these numbers apply only to tested people, and the U.S. has a severe shortage of testing supplies.        

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