Nel's New Day

January 28, 2019

Margaret & Helen: Helen Turns Loose about Last Week’s News

In the past, I’ve written about my admiration for these “elder” women and their blog. This one about last week’s events is a classic! The subtitle: “Do you have any idea how hard it is not to use the F-word when talking about Donald Trump? It’s damn near f-ing impossible.” #FactsMatter #HowToTrainYourDragon

Margaret, I know you don’t Tweet unless you are talking to your parrots. And for what it’s worth, I told you those things would outlive us. I know you thought I was stupid to get on the Twitter. Well, I should have listened to you, honey. I came. I tweeted. And I got covered in shit. Probably because Twitter is chock-full of assholes who don’t know the difference between your and you’re.

Now before all you NitTwits out there write me off, read on for a little bit. There are some things that are good about Twitter. Most are not easy to find, but they’re there if you are willing to work a bit. I’ll explain…

On Friday, a jackass named Roger Stone whined that the FBI had raided his home leaving himself, his dog, his wife (in that order) and even his neighbor forever traumatized.  From his description, it’s hard to believe he was able to pull it all together in time to make a speech, do a few radio interviews, and then finish it off with a couple of cable news shows, all while hoping someone would ask him about how he once took out personal ads referring to himself as a body builder with a hot wife looking for muscular studs for threesomes. Yep. True story. Stone is a real asshat.

But I’ve gotten off track. This really isn’t about Roger Stone. However, I would like to take a second to point out that while he was kicked off Bob Dole’s campaign for his little trio fetish, he was eventually hired again by George W. Bush and, of course, Donald J. Trump.  In fact, given enough time I can probably prove that while not every asshole is on Twitter, they are all on a Republican payroll somewhere.

Anyway, back to the point of this story…

Immediately the Cheeto in Chief tweeted from the White House that Roger Stone was treated more unfairly than drug dealers and border coyotes.  I find that pretty rich coming from Trump. Unless Roger’s wife was put in a cage, I’d say he got off pretty easy by Trump standards.  How someone can cram so many lies into so few characters is astounding. It’s probably the only thing at which Trump excels. One day the history books will tell the story of how Trump became president because a bunch of racists inbred to the point that they had the attention span of a gnat. If your family tree goes in a straight line, I’ve got a red hat to sell you. Yep. I’m a bitch. Screw you MAGA nation. You screwed up Christianity and now you’ve screwed up the United States of America.  All because you think an immigrant stole your job. Well here’s 280 characters for you:

An immigrant who achieves the American Dream didn’t steal anything from you or your family. They just wanted it more than you and worked harder than you. And they did it with all the odds stacked against them.  If your life sucks lemons, a wall isn’t going to turn it to lemonade.

Off track again.  Sadly, I’m pretty sure any MAGAt who started reading this has long ago gotten distracted by a shiny object.  Probably one of those shiny blondes on Fox & Friends.

So back to Friday…

As if the Stone indictment wasn’t enough, we also saw a woman finally get the best of Trump. Shockingly, porn and secret payments weren’t involved.  Sorry, Stormy. I’ve come to love you honey, but Nancy fucked Trump and that little mushroom of  Donald’s never made an appearance. Now that’s my kind of woman. (Note – I just used a word that I once thought I would never use. The F-word. I’ll explain in a bit.)  The great deal maker just spent a month dealing himself into Ann Coulter’s timeout corner.  Speaking of that pholcidae, Ann Coulter needs to eat a potato chip once in awhile.  Honey, when you turn sideways your nose looks like the tab on a zipper.  I know. I know. I shouldn’t body shame.  Fine. I made fun of a skinny bitch.  Hate me today.  I’ll apologize tomorrow by sending her a pie.  So many assholes. So much shit. So few characters. Even fewer with character.

But where was I?  Oh yes…Nancy.

Nancy Pelosi is one hell of a leader despite the fact that we require her to work twice as hard and endlessly prove herself worthy of her job. Nancy isn’t just matching Fred Astaire’s dance moves step-for-step backwards and in heels, she’s reminding the entire world that if women were allowed to take the reins, some important shit could finally get done. For the love of God, you MAGA asshats, she is the reason you have anything even close to affordable healthcare and a living wage. And if not for your precious GOP, you would have gotten the whole enchilada. I probably shouldn’t have used that enchilada metaphore. Did someone say wall?

Oh, but again, I digress… It’s so easy to do when you are not limited to 280 characters.

And so, here we are.  After 4,542 characters and one President without character, we arrive at my point:

With all that news to offer on Friday, that same evening the Washington Post tweeted out this headline for a story: Texas officials flag tens of thousands of voters for citizen checks. I don’t know what the terms mean, but the kids call that click bait and then go on about something to do with ratios. Not important. What is important is that IF you actually read the article – and almost no one on Twitter does – the very LAST paragraph explains that Texas has no proof of voter fraud and further research most likely will show that minimal if any occurred. But that didn’t stop the Great Orange Yeast Infection from tweeting a few hours later the lie that voter fraud was a huge problem because 95,000 illegal immigrants voted in the last election in Texas.

Why the last paragraph of that story is not the first paragraph is a good example of how  we got into this mess. Shame on the Washington Post for making it so easy for Trump. In my day, people called it judging a book by its cover. I have always just called it what it is: Bullshit. And friends, Twitter is full of bullshit. And the biggest asshole spewing shit and stinking up the place is Donald Jackass Trump. His 57 million followers judge a book by its cover, a person by their color, and their own IQ by the number of channels on their cable box. The only book they might pick up is the Bible and, I promise you, they don’t read that one either. For the record, he’s YOUR president, and YOU’RE an asshat for believing him. YOUR is a possessive adjective.  YOU’RE is a contraction of you are.

Now mind you, if you look really hard, you can find Tweets like the one from the Texas Tribune to its 180,000 followers warning people about the misleading headline.  How much do you want to bet that almost no MAGA-hats follow the Texas Tribune? Trust me.  It requires reading more than just a headline, and those people only get their headlines from one place – Fox News – the only place with more assholes full of shit than Twitter.  And speaking of assholes, can Tucker Carlson pull his head out of his long enough to see where role modeling Bill O’Reilly is going to take him? A loofah, a hot shower and Lindsey Graham.  No wait. What? That doesn’t make any sense. But it did allow me to sneak in a mention of Lindsey Graham. Of all the Real Housewives I hate; Lindsey Olin Graham is at the top of my list. No matter what side of his mouth Lindsey talks out of, it’s always shrill. Don’t try to follow my logic folks – it’s all shits and grins at this point.  Because in the end, that is all Twitter is good for.  Well, almost…

Journalist and politicians have no business trying to do their jobs on Twitter.  It’s a great place for cat videos, clever comments from Quinn Cummings, and teen activists trying to take down the god-awful NRA.  All those things SHOULD be accomplished in 280 characters or less.  You really shouldn’t have to work too hard to point out that cats are cute, Quinn is hilarious, and the NRA is evil.  But trying to be President of the United States 280 characters at a time should be a god-damn constitutional crisis. And Congress should at long last put a stop to it. Censure him. Indict him. Impeach him. Anything him.  Just quit tweeting at him and do your damn job.  And the same thing goes to all of you journalists on Twitter. A story is more than its headline.  If you are going to limit yourself to 280 characters, then make sure you get to the truth around character 10 or 11.  Trump and his followers lose their attention after that.

You know what else happened last week?  Five women were shot execution style by a gunman in Florida.  Another gunman killed five people in Louisiana. All that and we focused on an idiot like Stone. It doesn’t take 280 characters to make the case that a national state of emergency isn’t at the southern border. It’s at the NRA headquarters. If the President wasn’t so fixated on how many likes he gets, he might know that. Jesus H. Christ I hate that man. How on God’s green earth did he ever become President? Oh wait. Twitter. I forgot. Damn you @Jack.  And by the way, did you really suspend me because of my joke about Trump listening to the voices in his head?  Seriously?  The man practically started a nuclear war on your platform.

Now, I’ll admit that I am probably just another one of those assholes on Twitter, but I did meet a few good people along the way. I doubt they even knew I was following them. If you want to be on Twitter and do some good, follow @davidhogg111 or @Emma4Change. Want a good laugh?  Follow @quinncy or @louisvirtel. Want to actually make a difference as a political activist?  Try @Alyssa_Milano or @williamlegate.  Want to waste your time?  Follow a Kardashian. And for the love of God, give @kathygriffin a break. It was a fucking halloween mask. If you follow a journalist, promise that you’ll click on the link and read the whole story.  Might I suggest @texastribune, @DanRather, @annanavarro or @NicoleDWallace.  Just don’t follow a politician until they retire. And that goes double for @realdonaldfuckingtrump!

So, here we are at the end of my little rant. In this story, I used the F-word. Three times. It’s a word that I had always banned on this little web blog of mine.  I humbly ask for your forgiveness.  But do you realize how hard it is to talk about Donald Trump and not use that word?  It’s god-damn near fucking impossible.  I mean it.  Really.

November 19, 2018

Midterm Elections: A Postmortem

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 11:43 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

EPA/CHRIS TODD

The midterm elections of 2018 are winding down. Only two House races are still undecided, a Georgia Republican ahead by 29 votes out of over 280,000 votes and a Utah Democrat with a 739-vote lead with 270,000 votes. Without those two decisions, Democrats gained 38 seats to have the majority of 233 to the 200 GOP seats. Georgia will definitely go to a recount. In the Senate, four Democrats lost their seats, and two Republicans lost theirs. With the determination that Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott took the U.S. Senate seat, the Senate settled in with 52 Republicans out of 100 as it waits for the election in Mississippi on November 27. Usually, that state would automatically pick a Republican, but Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (left) has made a poor showing lately, seeming to laud lynching and criticized the legality of black college students voting.

Now that Republicans won three important races—Florida’s governor and U.S. senator and Georgia’s governor—Scott and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) decided that the elections are not rigged. The question will always be there, however, as the winning GOP Florida candidate for senator and Georgia candidate for governor control the elections that they won.

An opinion piece by Abe Rakov in conservative USA Today states:

“We’re seeing Republican politicians run a political strategy to manipulate who can vote and, ultimately, remake the electorate in their favor. They’re trying to rig our elections because they don’t think they can win any other way. It’s cheating, it’s wrong and it’s anti-democratic.

“Jason Kander and I started Let America Vote in 2017 to create political consequences for politicians who try to stop eligible voters from voting. Over 65,000 people across the country have signed up to volunteer to help us in that effort. Through this November and beyond, Let America Vote is going to fight back against these proposals because our democracy is bigger than politicians who will do anything to win an election.”

Florida GOP Influence over Voting:

Scott kept the painfully inept election supervisor Brenda Snipes in her position after many missteps, one of which took her to court. Kitty Garber, research director and co-founder of the nonpartisan Florida Fair Elections Coalition, said that Snipes’ “behavior has disproportionately harmed Democratic candidates. When absentee ballots go missing in largely Democratic Broward County, you can be sure that most of them belong to Democratic voters.”

Scott also tried to use law enforcement to control the voting process and filed several lawsuits.

Truthout did a detailed analysis of data available in the election to show how computer software can manipulate voter outcome and what happened in Florida.

Absentee ballots may not have been counted if they were locked in a mail facility after the Florida man sent pipe bombs through the USPS.

The pastor of a church posted this sign when it was used as a polling place:

Don’t vote for Democrats on Tuesday and sing, ‘Oh how I love Jesus’ on Sunday.”

Georgia GOP Influence over Voting:

The GOP may use voter suppression in Georgia as a model for future efforts.

Brian Kemp, the candidate for governor and coincidentally state secretary of state, “doxed” 291,164 absentee voters by posting their personal details online for anyone to download. “Doxing” has become a common harassment practice of posting people’s personal information, including addresses, phone numbers, and even Social Security numbers.

Some voters waited over four hours to vote in suburban Atlanta. The state installed only three voting machines in a Fulton County polling place; Atlanta is in Fulton County. In other areas, the voting machines were broken or automatically registered Kemp’s name when voters selected his opponent.

Kemp refused to have any paper trail for the voting machines.

Voters also faced intimidation in several states:

Texas (where Rep. Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz by 220,000 votes out of 8.3 million): An election judge was filmed screaming at a black voter and threatening to call the police when the voter asked where she was supposed to vote. The DHS had planned a “crowd-control” exercise near a Latinx neighborhood in El Paso but decided to cancel the exercise after critics pointed out its intimidation effort.

Virginia: A DDT supporter stood outside a polling place with a German Shepherd that barked at voters. A member of the GOP said that the man is a known, excited DDT supporter who would do no harm.

Idaho: Intimidating signs regarding student voting were posted at polling places.

Tennessee: Five or six men outside a polling place told voters they should not be voting.

Indiana: At least one voting machine refused to accept votes for Democrats.

Arizona: Republicans sued to keep mail-in ballots from being counted because the 15 county recorders done have the same standard for adjusting problems. Two counties being sued allow people to verify their signatures up to five days after the election; both are major Democratic-leaning urban counties. (Democrat Kyrsten Sinema finally won her election for U.S. Senate.)

Those who criticize Democrats for more wins or claim that Republicans are better because the Dems picked up “only” 38 to 40 seats in the House aren’t aware of the control on elections from the GOP gerrymandering. Wisconsin is a classic case. This chart tells it all: Democrats won in all state elections and cast more votes for people in the state legislature while losing almost two-thirds of the seats. State assembly Democratic minority leader Gordon Hintz pointed out the lack of competitive districts, the reason that a district court ruled the legislative maps unconstitutional. The case, Gill v. Whitford, went to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to a lower federal court. These maps

Richard Hasen wrote that Wisconsin’s continued gerrymandering is thanks to retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy. Last summer, the court unanimously determine that plaintiffs had not proved they had standing to sue because they didn’t suffer direct injury. In 2004, Kennedy demanding a “workable standard” to decide if partisan decisions on district crossed a constitutional line. The court managed to avoid making any decision about whether the U.S. Constitution forbids gerrymandering and, if so, standards for decisions. The Republicans in Wisconsin draw the districts to favor Republicans so that Republicans can continue drawing districts to favor Republicans.

A contrast in House districts can be found in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. After a court order mandated redrawing districts, Pennsylvania went from solidly GOP to one evenly split. North Carolina stayed overwhelmingly GOP with the Republican-drawn map despite an even split in party votes for the delegation members. Associated Press determined that more states have GOP-tilted districts than Democratic ones.

Karma came to the GOP sponsor of the restrictive North Dakota law mandating that no one (aka Native Americans) could vote if they didn’t have an ID with a street address. A Native American Democrat beat him in the election. And the Georgia secretary of state vote goes into a runoff on December 4.

This election breakdown as of November 16 shows the great diversity of Democrats in the 116th Congress, starting in January 2019. Of the 36 women additions to the House this coming year, one is a Republican.

 

 

November 4, 2018

Voter Suppression, Tricks: ‘We Lie All the Time’

Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) bragged on the campaign trail that he and his GOP legislative leaders “lie all the time.” And boy, does he lie! Here’s a list from PolitiFact Virginia. He even sent out a press release lying about a WaPo fact check on his opponent by using a a fact check of an attack ad in a completely different race, against GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). And that’s just one way to get Republicans elected.

In the past, black people in the South went to the polls to cast their votes. The idea, called “Souls to the Polls,” was quashed in many states including North Carolina and Florida because Republican lawmakers decided that GOP candidates could win only if the black vote was stopped. Forty percent of states don’t allow workers time off to vote on Election Day, and many other states are restrictive in permission.

Georgia’s Secretary of State and candidate for governor Brian Kemp, poster child of the nation’s voter suppression, has lamented votes by blacks. The master vote registration purger who declines to process registration forms from blacks registered to vote said he was afraid he would lose the election “if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.” He’s also afraid of absentee ballots, “especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote … and mails those ballots in.” He added that his opponent, a black woman, could win thanks to “the literally tens of millions of dollars that” her campaign is “putting behind the get-out-the-vote effort to their base.”

If voting didn’t make any difference, Republicans wouldn’t go to such extreme lengths to keep people from voting. Updates and new tricks to keep people away from the polls on November 6:

Materials are being sent out with the wrong date to vote, like this “friendly” postcard in Arizona, with a date ten days past Election Day.

Montana Republicans have joined the states falsifying information about voting. The GOP sent a mailer lying about absentee ballots being accepted ten days after Election Day if they were postmarked by 8:00 pm on that day. Wrong. Absentee ballots must reach their destination by Election Day.

A judge denied Native Americans in North Dakota the right to vote without a street address just this past week, and voter suppression continues with the GOP fear that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) will be reelected. One woman who went to the county auditor’s office in Sioux County to ask about early voting was told that there was no early voting, unlike most other North Dakota countries. The auditor didn’t mention an absentee voting option. The same auditor ordered a woman filling out an absentee ballot to use blue ink in order for the ballot to be counted; the directions on the state website mandates black ink. A great deal of time was required until someone from the secretary of state’s office said either color of ink was acceptable—that will hopefully be accurate.

A non-partisan election official in Dallas County (TX) said that voter intimidation is the worst she’s seen in 30 years with name calling and voter interrogation in lines waiting to vote, partisan poll watchers looking over voters’ shoulders as they cast their ballots and question voters on their politics, harassment, and verbal abuse with a person driving by and yelling about “baby killers.” Reports of this intimidation have not stopped it although the police removed one “poll watcher.”

In Kansas, people can’t get a passport if they aren’t born in a hospital even if they have a birth certificate. The same probably goes for getting a voter ID. The only way to get permission is to pay money to go to trial with a large number of documents.

The Rachel Maddow Show sent a production crew to Dodge City (KS) after the news that the only polling place for 13,000 voters will be moved far out of town away from a bus stop. County Clerk Debbie Cox [visual] made the excuse of construction at the former place in town [map below], but no construction was found. The venue was also booked on November 4 and November 17 of events. Cox put three polling places in the rest of her county for the remaining 1,300 voters. In addition, she mailed new registrants an official statement of registration with the wrong voting address. Even if the largely Latinx voters working in the meat-packing industry can get a job to the new polling place, they may not have enough time off work to actually vote.  The 22-minute segment provides more details.

Cox forwarded a letter from the ACLU offering voter assistance to the office of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach with the attached message “LOL” (lots of laughs). In control of voting, Kobach is also a candidate for governor. An 18-year-old high school student, Ashley Romero, sued for more polling places that are accessible to Dodge City voters. A judge ruled against Romero, stating that changing anything now would be too confusing but promising to look into the case after the election.

Last week, reports of voting machines flipping votes in Georgia for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Kemp, and in Texas from Democratic senate challenger Beto O’Rourke to incumbent Ted Cruz led to thoughts of hacking. Some machines even registered Kemp’s name before a person voted. Despite the GOP trying to blame the voters for these flips, it happens if machines aren’t properly calibrated. In addition, Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Kemp refused to provide a paper trail for votes in Georgia. Preparing for a possible loss because of Abrams’ popularity, Kemp declared today that he was investigating Democrats’ hacking into the vulnerable voting computers although he has no evidence. He has been warned for years about the problems with this machines but said nothing as long as he supervised the winning of Republicans.

Voting machines bought almost two decades ago were meant to last no more than 15 years, manufacturing companies have gone out of business or don’t make the computers, and most spare parts are available only on eBay or Craigslist from other discarded computers. Even if voting machines work, they work slowly, meaning long lines with people not staying to vote in a form of voter depression. In 2012, over 500,000 people didn’t vote because of extremely long wait lines. Some states use provisional ballots to solve problems in computers but don’t count them after the election. Three privately held companies, subject to little oversight and put convenience over security, control over 90 percent of all the nation’s election systems. The Associated Press reports three privately held companies sell and service more than 90 percent of the nation’s election systems.

When Republicans aren’t admitting that they want to suppress the votes of minority and lower-income people, they claim laws beginning in 2005 are to stop voter fraud. Between 2000 and 2014, evidence found 35 credible voter fraud allegations among the 834,065,926 ballots. Yet voter ID laws in the red states block about 5 million people from casting ballots—many of for specific groups such as Native Americans in North Dakota, Latinx in Arizona and Kansas, students in New Hampshire, and people of color in Wisconsin. Conservative judge Richard Posner has apologized in his 2013 memoir by writing that the ID law is “now widely regarded as a means of voter suppression rather than of fraud prevention.” In 2018, voter ID laws, polling-place closures or changes, and state legislation to stop voter registration have replace Jim Crow laws of poll taxes, literacy exams, and property deeds. Paul Weyrich plotted Ronald Reagan’s win in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote . . . our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

It’s still a miracle if people vote this year—or ever again. But not all is lost:

A federal judge ordered Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, also running for governor, to stop throwing away absentee ballots without giving the voters advance notice and a chance to rectify any issues. Kemp’s workers had been making determinations about whether a signature matched the one on file without any scientific reason. Kemp’s “exact match” requirement threw out voter registrations even if the mistake was only an extra space. The judge used Kemp’s words that absentee voting is “a privilege and a convenience,” not a right by describing the staying of an injunction—that she refused—is also not a right.  The 11th Circuit Court refused Kemp’s appeal to the judge’s order keeping absentee ballots.

In Ohio, provisional election ballots previously purged from voter rolls between 2011 and 2015 must be counted if voters still live in the same county of their last registration and if they are not disqualified from voting because of a felony conviction, mental incapacity, or death.

Overall, two-thirds of the public (67%) says “everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote,” while only about a third (32%) say citizens “should have to prove they want to vote” by registering in advance.  [visual voting]

After 80 percent of voters said that healthcare is extremely or very important to their vote, GOP members of Congress lied to the public that they supported pre-existing conditions–even if they voted to do away with the Affordable Care Act. The 78% importance for the economy is lower than in any recent midterm.

Roxanne Gay encouraged everyone to vote:

“Every single day there is a new, terrifying, preventable tragedy fomented by a president and an administration that uses hate and entitlement as political expedience. If you remain disillusioned or apathetic in this climate, you are complicit. You think your disillusionment is more important than the very real dangers marginalized people in this country live with.”

Republicans claim that the GOP wants freedom, but they want freedom only for themselves, not for minorities, women, and lower-income people. (Below: a sign that police forced a woman to remove from her yard.)

All voter polls are open until at least 6:00 pm, some later. Here’s a list by state.

Vote as if your life depends on it. It might.

October 11, 2018

United States, A Banana Republic

“Banana Republic” is a term to describe governments with countries that suffer from lack of democracy and corruption. How the United States fits the description of a “banana republic”:

An extremely stratified social class with a large impoverished working class and an ultra-rich ruling-class plutocracy with a lack of a middle class and lack of upward mobility: The U.S. has had the highest income inequality and lowest upward mobility of any country in the developed world for several years, and it keeps worsening.

Government’s corrupt connection with big business: As in fascist countries, U.S. conservative politicians have supported the merger of state and corporate power by removing regulations, giving corporations billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies, and putting banks and corporations above the law. The person occupying the Oval Office is profiting with millions—possibly trillions—from domestic groups and foreign government encouraged to use his businesses despite his constitutional violation of the Emoluments Clause.

A male business, political, and military elite controlling the nation: In a circular pattern, politicians take money from business for campaigns in exchange for subserviency, and conservative politicians vote for increased military expenses to keep money flowing into their states. Lack of regulations moves wealth offshore while workers suffer. Conservative politicians put white conservative males into control on the courts, protecting only white males and big business and permitting illegal tax evasion. All new DDT judicial nominees are male, recognizing that “we the ruling males” are in charge instead of the constitutional “we the people.” Less than one-third of the U.S. population is white male, but they still control the nation.

Police corruption and expanding police state: The frequent pattern of using military equipment for police actions is like military actions in Iraq, and law enforcement increasingly kill people in “accidents” or badly orchestrated sting operations. Laws since 9/11 permit warrantless wiretapping and other tactics common in dictatorships.

Highest incarceration rate in the world: The 716 prisoners per 100,000 residents in the U.S. far exceed the 114 in Canada, the 79 in German, and even the 162 in Saudi Arabia. Privatized prisons have greatly increased the number of prisoners because the government gets kickbacks from these businesses for their campaigns that keep them the ruling party.

Lack of access to healthcare: Despite the Affordable Care Act, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) created a path to health insurance that doesn’t provide for pre-existing conditions, hospitalizations, maternal care, and other health needs by conning them into believing that they save money. DDT’s newest plan is like a person paying less for a car that doesn’t run. People in the U.S. pay more than most developed countries for healthcare expenses and are reduced to medical bankruptcies but are convinced that universal health care is evil.

Much shorter life expectancy in poor than wealthy: In one West Virginia county, life expectancy for males is 63.9 years compared to 81.6 years, 17.7 years higher, in affluent Fairfax County (VA)—a difference of 27 percent. Bangladesh life expectancy is higher than McDowell County (WV). U.S. women’s life expectancy was #41 in 2010.

Hunger and malnutrition: Banana republics are associated with food insecurity, but the need for food stamps in the U.S. has increased from one in 50 during the 1970s to one in eight with 50 million people, including 12 million children, suffering from food insecurity.

High infant mortality: Fifty-seven countries have a smaller infant mortality rate than the U.S. In first-day death rate, babies dying the day that they are born, the U.S. has the highest rate in the industrialized world, twice as many as in the European Union.

One idealistic view of saving the United States is to vote, and millions of people want to exercise their right to select their representatives in this republic. Yet conservative politicians block the ability for millions to vote. Beyond white males rigging the districts so that a state with a majority of Democrats will elect almost all Republicans for state and federal elected officials, voter ID laws that prevent people from voting. The following states have created these ways to keep people from voting:

Arizona: Secretary of State Michele Reagan won’t be required to update voter registration addresses of 384,000 Arizonans who moved since the last election, even if the Motor Vehicle Division system won’t change addresses until people “opt-in” to update their information in conflict with the National Voter Registration Act. When people show up at the wrong polling place because of Reagan’s inaction, the voter can go to the new address and cast a provisional ballot. The state, however, has a record of destroying these without recording them. Reagan said that she’ll fix the system sometime next year—after the midterm election. Maybe.

Florida: Whether prisoners and released felons can vote is dependent on state law. A few states don’t have restrictions against voting after the felons serve their sentence, but a few rely on “individual petitions.” Of the 6 million people with felony convictions permanently barred from voting, about 1.5 million of them are from Florida, and over 20 percent of them are black. Gov. Rick Scott is in charge of deciding whether each one can be permitted to vote, and he has granted only 8 percent of those requesting the right to vote with a backlog of over 10,000 not yet reviewed.

Georgia: Brian Kemp is the state Secretary of State and in charge of elections. Kemp is also running for governor. He is keeping 53,000 voter applications from being processed because of typographical errors. The list has a disproportionately high number of black voters. Kemp’s opponent is Stacey Abrams, a black woman. Because Kemp is in charge of elections, there is no proof that he legitimately won the primary to become candidate in the general election, especially after indications of voting corruption within the past few years. Kemp is also being sued for using a racially-biased methodology to purge 700,000 voters from the rolls in the past two years and failing to send notices of the removal to voters. That’s ten percent of registered voters. Kemp also kept the state from having a paper trail to its woefully inadequate digital voting system, allowing him more election corruption.

North Dakota: A state law, challenged but approved in court, mandates that all voter IDs have residential addresses. Even the Supreme Court thinks that people without street addresses should not have the right to vote. This law takes voting rights from the homeless and people living on Native American reservations who lack the “residential address.”

Texas: Delivering a letter demanding that Waller County address its problems with rejecting registrations of students at Prairie View A&M resulted in the arrest of the campaign staffer presenting the missive to a clerk. Jacob Aronowitz, a field director for Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel, photographed the clerk taking the letter, and the clerk objected. When he was arrested, Aronowitz called Siegal who heard Aronowitz asking why he was being held and telling the detaining officer that his lawyer, Siegel, was running for office. Aronowitz was asked for Siegel’s political party, and the officer kept Aronowitz’s phone with his records when he was released. The county gave students the address to use for registration because all students use one post office box and then refused to accept it on the last day to register, jeopardizing the registrations. The letter demanded that the county update the existing registrations because students had followed the county’s direction. Waller County is uncomfortable with students voting because the student body is 82 percent black while the county is 70.5 percent white. It opposed students’ right to vote until a 1979 case in the U.S. Supreme Court upheld students’ right to register at their college address. The county wouldn’t obey the high court ruling, declaring in 2004 that students were ineligible to vote because they failed to meet the residency requirement. The campus did not get a polling place until 2013. So the county, which does not want the students to vote, gave them the wrong address for registration, refused to accept the address they gave students, arrested a person obtaining verification that he delivered a letter of complaint, lied about his not identifying himself, asked for the political party of the person objecting, and refused to return the arrested party’s possessions when he was released.

Voting could help move the United States from a banana republic—if citizens get the permission to cast a ballot and their ballots are counted. Until that time, the U.S. will remain a banana republic.

July 20, 2017

Voter Suppression Goes National

A distraction from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) yesterday was his threats to the DOJ top personnel and the special investigator in charge of tracking Russian collusion with DDT and his associates. Today’s shocker was the revelation that he’s checking into the possibility of using his “presidential pardon” for his staff, his family, and himself. A vital issue for democracy in the United states, however, is his new voting commission which met in public for the first time yesterday.

An obsession with big numbers led DDT to claim that the Hillary Clinton would not have bested him by almost three million votes if the nation didn’t have three to five million illegal votes cast in the election. In his fits of pique, he supports the Republicans who use voter suppression to win elections, state by state, through draconian laws and voter registration purging. Several days ago, the commission riled up secretaries of state across the country by demanding voter roles, including birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers, and individual voting records.

Across the nation, those requested to send information have primarily said that they would provide the same information that they would to any request for public information. After one lawsuit, the commission must stop collecting voter information until a court makes a ruling. Another suit addressed privacy concerns, especially because the storage computer lacks security.

Amazed at the backlash to the commission, DDT had an official rollout with its chair, VP Mike Pence, and its mastermind and vice chair, Kris Kobach, presenting its goals in what has been called its first meeting. The real first meeting was done just among the members in private. Kobach is known for creating and disseminating the most unreasonable voter ID laws in the country as well as purging voter registration lists in Kansas where he is secretary of state. In the past, Kobach has been one of the strongest defenders of states’ rights.

One stated reason from the commission is to study voter fraud. It has been studied ad infinitum since states started passing laws to prevent minorities, women, and low-income people from casting votes. Women are easily disenfranchised if they have married because names on current identification don’t match the birth certificate. They are also a larger percentage of the elderly who sometimes have no birth certificates. One comprehensive study of every federal election between 2000 and 2014 found 31 credible instances of voter impersonation out of over one billion votes cast. Only four cases of voter fraud were identified in the 135 million votes cast last November.

Wisconsin was one of 14 states last year implementing new voting restrictions for the first time. Voter turnout fell in that state to a 20-year low, especially among poor and black residents. According to federal court records, 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin.  An analysis of states with and without strict voter ID laws, the number of voters, primarily black and poor, was suppressed in all the states that passed restrictive laws.  This comparison showed that Wisconsin’s voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes. Donald Trump won the state by only 22,748 votes. Voter suppression has been confirmed by other studies.

Like officials in 31 other states, Kobach uses Crosscheck to purge voters from registration lists and hopes to use the program with all 50 states. The program is known for huge numbers of false positives, but these people are disenfranchised. The ACLU has sued Kobach four times for voter suppression; he lost all four cases. With great investigative zeal, he found only nine cases of fraudulent voting out of 1.8 million votes. In describing registration and voting by noncitizens as “pervasive,” Kobach could find only one of these cases in Kansas. Requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote in Kansas has blocked one of seven Kansans since 2013.

Pro-commission people constantly use the term “voter fraud” for registrations for one person in multiple states and for deceased people.  Yet registering in multiple states is legal; it is the act of voting in more than one state that is a felony. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law and adviser with high-level security clearance, is registered in more than one state. The same is true for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, senior adviser and white supremacist Steve Bannon, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. And probably many of DDT’s officials. Gregg Phillips, creator of the app VoteStand to help people report potential voter fraud, is registered in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. DDT called Phillips a guru on voter fraud. One study shows 2.75 million people registered to vote in multiple states, usually because of recent moves. In just Clark County (NV), over 150,000 of the county’s 700,000 active registered voters within one year.

The commission claims to be “bipartisan,” but it is run by two seriously partisan Republicans and packed with strong supporters of the voter fraud myth. Another member is Ohio’s former secretary of state Ken Blackwell who ordered county clerks not to accept voter registration on anything less than paper the thickness of a postcard. He also accidentally distributed voter lists with full Social Security numbers for the state’s voters.

House Republicans seem unconcerned about voter fraud. They are attempting to defund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency that exclusively works to make the voting process secure. The move comes after the EAC worked with the FBI to investigate Russian hacking. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also fired its cyberattack expert.

For over a decade, computer experts have issued warnings about the vulnerability of equipment used for voting, especially the direct-recording electronic (DRE) machines. At least five states lack any paper trail for votes, and another 24 use a mixture. Thus only 21 states in the nation have a system for verifying votes. After the Bush/Gore debacle in 2000 when punch cards were unreadable, the Help America Vote Act provided states with $3 billion in 2002 to purchase modern equipment. Most of the states used the money for DRE machines that provided to paper trail.  Russian hackers tried to access election computers in at least 21 states last year, and that may be a conservative estimate.

About states’ reaction to submitting personal information about voters, DDT delivered a line that should have brought laughs: “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about. And I asked the Vice President, I asked the commission: What are they worried about? There’s something. There always is.”

Yes, DDT, if you are hiding your tax returns, your visitor logs, your conversations with an adversarial country, your—it goes on and on—you must have something to hide.

Courts have determined that voter suppression laws, including but far beyond voter IDs, are “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” GOP legislators admit that the purpose of these laws is to reduce the number of Democrats at the polls. But DDT’s new commission claims that it is “fighting voter fraud” and “protecting election integrity.” The commission ignores the fact that ten percent of people eligible to vote lack the identification to satisfy these new GOP laws. DMVs necessary to obtain IDs and early-voting places close in non-white, non-rich, and non-GOP neighborhoods. Commission members claim that no one ever complains about their disenfranchisement. They do, but they have no effect on the process outside the courts.

Republicans need the new voting commission to stay in power. They will divert attention from the democracy of paper trails for computer voting, enfranchising all eligible voters, early voting, and simplified voter registration. Republicans hate mail-in voting popular in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington because voting is made easier. They hate the automatic voter registration because any eligible voter can easily access the process. They hate a paper trail because the votes can be recounted. The sole goal of most GOP legislators is to keep their party in power at any cost to democracy. The United States doesn’t suffer from voter fraud–it suffers from GOP fraud.

July 15, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Five – To Paris with Love, Other Awkward Situations

At the end of the G20 (or G19+1) summit in Hamburg (Germany) just one week ago, leaders of 19 of the world’s largest economies reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accords to slow climate change. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had pushed for wording about how the “USA will endeavor to work closely with other partners to help their access to and use of fossil fuels….” It didn’t wash with the other 19 countries that keep moving forward in trade and climate while the U.S. becomes increasingly on the fringe—just as DDT was at the summit. For example, Japan and Europe have agreed to a huge trade deal covering almost 30 percent of global economy for ten percent of the planet’s population and 40 percent of its trade—comparable to NAFTA. [In this photo, he’s standing far right from the others.]

While DDT was in Poland holding up the West as “civilization,” Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced his plans for a global environmental summit in San Francisco next year in his speech to over 12,000 environmental activists at the Global Citizen Festival Hamburg. He told his audience that DDT “doesn’t speak” for the United States.

Back to Europe this past week, DDT avoided the Russian scandal surrounding his oldest son with the simple claim that “by son is a wonderful young man,” “he’s a good boy,” and “he’s a good kid.” The “kid” is 39 years old, the same age as DDT’s host in Paris, French president Emmanuel Macron. As usual, DDT behaved like a boor, trying to one-up Macron in handshaking, invading the private space of Macron’s wife Brigitte, and complimenting her on being in “such good physical shape.”  [Full video of the attack here.] Brigitte  Basically DDT played tourist in Paris and again made the United States the laughingstock of the world.

Back in the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was telling a judge to ignore her earlier ruling. In Texas, federal courts ruled three times that the voter ID law is discriminatory. Sessions wrote U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales, who has twice ruled against the law, that she should end all challenges to it and cancel the interim fix agreed to in the state and permit discrimination without penalties. Gonzales will decide whether she will follow his directions.

DDT’s travel ban, partially upheld by the Supreme Court’s decision to limit DDT’s travel ban to “close relatives,” would have sent 1,400 Chaldean Christians back to Iraq to be persecuted and killed without a federal court order. Iraqi leaders said they would take back nationals with outstanding removal orders.  The U.S. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started rounding up these members of a subset of the Catholic Church in early June and designated them for deportation. The federal government argued that courts can’t stop deportations, but U.S. Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the Iraqi nationals may have their day in court.

A federal judge in Hawaii had sent DDT’s travel ban back to court with a ruling that “grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins of persons in the United States” have a close enough family relationship to allow entry into the United States. Since the Supreme Court ruling permitted only “close” family members, DDT’s definition of “close” that excludes grandparents has caused disbelief throughout the nation.  DDT wants to skip the 9th Circuit Court in its appeals and go directly back to the Supreme Court.

DDT-supporting conservatives claim that “libstards” don’t do anything but stand around and protest. In reality, they go to court. A major lawsuit this week against DDT’s “voter fraud” commission alleges a violation of a federal transparency law because its first “public” meeting is available only through a video livestream. The first meeting was without notice or availability to the public. DDT created the commission because he believed that three to five million undocumented immigrants kept him from winning the popular vote, another issue in the lawsuit. Such committees “will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or by any special interest, but will instead be the result of the advisory committee’s independent judgment,” according to the ACLU. At this time, at least 46 states have refused to send the commission’s vice-chair, Kris Kobach, all the information that he requested—including his own state of Kansas.

Kobach’s demand for extensive voting information—including birth dates and Social Security numbers—has created a concern for privacy. Some voters are withdrawing their registration. The presidential commission validated this concern: it released 112 unredacted emails of public comment with email address, names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and places of employment. Half the published emails were sent before he publication of an announcement that the emails would be made public.

J. Christian Adams has been appointed to the voting commission. The conservative attorney led efforts throughout the U.S. to purge voters from the rolls through threatening letters and lawsuits against countries that he claims have too many names on the voter rolls. His target is rural counties with large minority populations and areas with Democratic populations in swing states. The commission’s data collection has been stopped in a lawsuit alleging violation of the E-Government Act of 2002, requiring federal agencies to have sufficient data protections before collecting person information through information technology.

DDT’s maybe lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, is trying to get rid of the “pussy” grabbing lawsuit against DDT.  The argument is that these statements—made in 2005 and ten years before DDT ran for his current position—are legally protected speech as a level of hyperbole in a political campaign. In other words, this “heated campaign rhetoric” was intended to get votes and thus covered by the First Amendment. Lawyers have used the same excuse in lawsuits about DDT’s Muslim ban, his order on “sanctuary cities,” violence at his campaign rallies, and even fraud allegations in the Trump University case.

Kasowitz may disappear from DDT’s employ because the lawyer selected to defend the Russian collusion scandal can’t even get a security clearance for access to government secrets. Several of Kasowitz’s colleagues have talked about his struggle with alcohol abuse and his risky behavior, sometimes sexual assaulting women. Defense attorneys for Washington clients are frequently required to get security clearances because of classified information. Although Kasowitz has denied these allegations, these emails indicate an unhinged mind.

DDT’s lawyers have difficulty because DDT refuses to follow their advice. In one meeting, they told him to avoid a topic, but he tweeted about it before they got back to their offices. DDT wants the RNC to pay for his legal defense. To avoid a public statement about the issue, the RNC is researching whether any of their funding can pay for expenditures related to Russia.

After being turned down by a variety of other legal firms and lawyers, DDT has hired Ty Cobb as White House special counsel to head up the “war room” regarding DDT’s Russian problems. That makes three lawyers on DDT’s team unless he fires one of them. Cobb will coordinate with lawyers for other DDT associates such as son Don Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner as well a field media questions. Charles Tiefer of Forbes has a variety of questions. Who pays? Does he have control over the DOJ? Can he use executive privilege to obstruct the Russian investigation?  Can he subpoena documents from Congress? What other powers will he have?

DDT’s attempted distracting tweets keep rolling. Last Monday when his son’s Russian meeting was revealed, DDT accused former FBI Director James Comey of revealing classified information in the memos he prepared about meetings with DDT. Comey didn’t. Any “classified information” in the memos were “retroactively classified,” just as Hillary Clinton’s were. One of Comey’s memos now classified was about his encouraging DDT to end the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. The FBI director has authority to declare classified information. DDT got his “information” on Fox and Friends; they retracted the story a day later. DDT didn’t.

This weekend, DDT is at his Bedminster (NJ) resort, tweeting about attending the U.S. Women’s Open there. As the Russian scandal grows, DDT calls it a “hoax,” a word he also used for climate change. He also pushed for the health care bill, Trumpcare, to pass, but it has run into another problem. Two GOP defectors mean that all the other Republican senators must vote for the bill in order for it to pass. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is gone this week after surgery for a blood clot above his eye, and the bill has been postponed for another week, giving it time to become even weaker.

Missing from DDT’s tweets are his problems with the travel ban, his son’s growing problem with Russian collusion (other than Don Jr. is a “good kid”), the ongoing crisis in Qatar, a congressional bill regarding increased sanctions on Russia, continuing issues with North Korea—the list goes on.

That’s DDT’s week—tourism in Paris, vague defense of his oldest son, back to his resort, hiring and ignoring legal defense, and angry tweets.

May 20, 2017

DDT: Week Seventeen outside Russia

You Can Make a Difference: You can make your voice heard! The Department of Interior is considering rollbacks for protections of up to 27 national monuments;  the public comment period ends on May 26 for Utah’s Bears Ears and on July 20 for all the others. All the monuments, created after 1996, that are considered for the chopping block are larger than 100,000 acres. They were created through the 1906 Antiquities Act, but the law has never been used to eliminate them. The plan by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is probably to open these public lands to logging, mining, and grazing. One of the monuments being considered is the Grand Canyon-Parashant on the north side of the Colorado River. More advice on protesting the elimination of public lands.

Last week’s news about DDT concentrated on connections with Russia, including his telling Russian officials in the Oval Office that former FBI director James Comey is a “nut job” and firing him took off “great pressure because of Russia.” But DDT was surrounded by far more issues.

DDT’s lack of financial transparency has become murkier since his tax attorneys told him to submit an updated financial disclosure in lieu of his tax returns without signing it, meaning that he won’t certify the information as true. Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, said that his office required DDT’s signature for certification, and DDT claimed that he will certify the information by mid-June. Without the signature, incorrect financial information cannot result in a fine or referral for criminal persecution. The same lawyers at Morgan Lewis also wrote a letter testifying to DDT’s lack of financial ties with Russia except for about $100 million. The longtime firm for the Trump Organization was named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.

Sheriff David Clarke, under scrutiny for the death of a man denied water for a week in Clarke’s jail in Milwaukee (WI), said he will be assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He calls transgender people mentally ill, that they lead a “freakish lifestyle, and he asked for “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality. Clarke also referred to Islam as “a sick ideology” and that “we ought to just try to kill it.” He plagiarized chunks of his 2013 master’s thesis on U.S. security and wears medals that are probably not legitimate, according to veterans.

Another inappropriate DDT nominee is his possible selection of former Sen. Joe Lieberman for FBI director. In addition to great antipathy from Democrats because of his past actions, Lieberman is employed by the law firm that has represented DDT for at least six years. Nominating the 75-year-old man would indicate a heavy politicization for a position that should be independent and separate from any branches of the government, including the executive. His selection of the lately-come conservative, however, fits DDT’s neocon philosophy because Lieberman fails to see the importance of Bill of Rights protections.

DDT also plans to appoint Newt Gingrich’s ex-mistress and now wife, Callista, as ambassador to the Vatican. At least the country would have one woman.

DDT’s hosting his tyrant-of-the-week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, led to the injury of 11 people when members of Erdogan’s security detail attacked peaceful protesters across from the Turkish embassy. Nine of the injured were sent to the hospital after Erdogan watched the attack from his car. The Turkish government described the protesters as “terrorists” and said that the demonstrators were being “provocative.” DDT said nothing about the attacks but compliments Erdogan for his leadership. New Jersey resident Ceren Borazan, one of the attack victims wrote:

“My Kurdish friends and allies were protesting peacefully against Erdogan being in Washington when were suddenly attacked by a group of Erdogan’s official bodyguards and secret police. They attacked women, children and elderly with reckless abandon.”

Borazan was strangled, punched and kicked by Erdogan’s personal guards. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.” Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) agreed and called on the State Department and DOJ to press charges. He said, “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior.” The attackers are probably protected by diplomatic immunity.

The GOP party that claims a belief in states’ rights has blocked a rule encouraging states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers don’t provide these plans. The rule would have exempted these state plans from the law that outlines rules for workplace savings. Last month the GOP eliminated this benefit for cities and counties. In fact, the rollback of the rule sends more money to Wall Street, showing that the GOP loves regulations that send money to the wealthiest. The GOP plan keeps people from saving before taking away their Social Security.

With the daily DDT scandals, Republican members of Congress are avoiding television appearances. CBS This Morning invited 20 Republican lawmakers and White House staff to appear on the program; they all declined. Chris Hayes reported the same for his MSNBC program. Even Fox is having trouble, and Tucker Carlson said that Kellyanne Conway backed out of her scheduled appearance on his show.. Fox and Friends had to resort to its news of the day—the cancellation of Tim Allen’s sitcom.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer may be on the way out, and Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, self-proclaimed “patriot,” has said that she’s “in conversations” for the job. She lists “deep knowledge” as a requirement for the job, but she’s already passed the “leaking” qualification.  Another one is her support for a leader—like Putin or Netanyahu—who can easily destroy ISIS with military force, troops, and bombings. Putin, according to Guilfoyle, could fix the United States if he led the country for 48 hours. Her strongest credential for DDT, however, is her statement on Fox that James Clapper said in his Senate testimony about Russia that “there is no evidence of collusion.” That’s what DDT said, but Clapper said the opposite.

The White House staff members have become so manipulative that they are feeding DDT false information. K.T. McFarland gave DDT a printout of two Time covers about a coming ice age and surviving global warming. DDT doesn’t look at the Internet so he didn’t know that 1970s cover were part of a hoax circulating for years. He attaches so much significance to printouts he receives that they guide his agenda and control his appointments. Last February someone gave DDT a printout from the fake GotNews.com about deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh being behind numerous leaks, and she was forced out of the White House.

Imagine if Dictator Donald Trump had to pay expenses—including those for the Secret Service—to travel to his own properties where he makes money from the visits? That’s a bill that Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has introduced. The Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Act states that Trump’s travel “results in the American taxpayer effectively subsidizing the president’s businesses.”

DDT sniveled his way through a graduation address at the Coast Guard Academy, well described here. In response to his complaint that “no politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly,” CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, “Four U.S. Presidents have been actually literally assassinated and killed.” DDT was addressing young people who will be putting themselves into physical danger—unlike DDT who dodged the draft.

A couple bits of good news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the Fairbanks Declaration over a week ago, indicating the need to slow the impact of climate change in the Arctic. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for the decision from the 4th Circuit Court to strike down North Carolina’s voter restriction law. A judge in the lower court ruling had stated that the state’s ballot restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” The law had required approved ID, dropped early voting from 17 to 10 days, stopped out-of-precinct voting, blocked same-day registration and voting, and eliminating preregistration by 16-year-olds. It may be a temporary fix because GOP state legislators are already planning another path to voter suppression.

Update on Jason Chaffetz from the May 10 post: He announced his resignation on June 30 and told lawmakers that he’ll be on the Fox network. Even conservatives are not happy about his bailing out a job he took only six months ago. Why is he leaving? Family is always cited, but does he think that the Russian scandal could bring him down? Meanwhile, colleagues are telling him to immediately step down from his committee chair position.

DDT may think that his days are numbered in the White House. He’s put his Caribbean estate for sale at a greatly inflated price, probably looking for another Russian billionaire to grab it up while DDT is still supposedly president. Emolument’s Clause, anyone?

Robin Bell’s projection art at DDT’s Washington hotel is the most recent in the anti-DDT artistic movement and the fifth of his Bell’s projections. This one protests DDT’s on-going violation of the Emoluments Clause preventing him from taking “gifts” from foreign nations.

A picture is worth a thousand words! A rogue Barnes & Noble shopper revised the book display touting Ivanka Trump’s new book.

May 12, 2017

DDT: Week Sixteen, Moving into Paranoia

The week began with all eyes on testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee from former Attorney General Sally Yates, but attention rapidly segued to Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) firing of James Comey, the FBI director who refused to stop investigation his involvement with Russia. The third senior Justice Department officials investigating DDT who was fired in less than four months, he follows DDT’s victims Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. Less media attention, however, was paid to DDT’s hosting Russian officials in the White House the day after Comey’s unorthodox firing. U.S. journalists were banned from the event, and the only visuals of the meeting with Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were photographed by the Russian state-owned news agency. The Washington Post raised questions about a security breach, citing issues about listening devices or other surveillance equipment being brought into the Oval Office. Intelligence officials noted that standard screenings might not identify an espionage device. The White House claimed that they were told the photographer worked for Lavrov, not that he worked for the Russian agency. A White House official, “They tricked us.” Either it’s true, which is scary. Or it wasn’t true, which is scary. A White House spokesman explained that DDT hosted the meeting “because Putin asked him to.” Again, scary.

Melissa McCarthy has already started preparing a Saturday Night Live sketch imitating Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes from reporters. A group of journalists caught him after he finished up a short interview with the friendly Fox business folks and met with his staff behind a tall hedge, but a groups of journalists wanted to ask him about Comey’s firing. He came out of the shrubbery and shouted, “Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off…. Can you just turn that light off?” Since WaPo issued the following correction about its story:

“Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to more precisely describe White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s location late Tuesday night in the minutes before he briefed reporters. Spicer huddled with his staff among bushes near television sets on the White House grounds, not ‘in the bushes,’ as the story originally stated.”

How many FBI officials does DDT need to fire for control?  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had not lost faith in Comey, contradicting a DDT reason for Comey’s firing. He added that it was the “greatest privilege” of his professional career to work with Comey. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit because DDT presented him as the architect of the firing. And DDT now contradicts everything that his White House officials and VP Mike Pence have presented to the media. In an interview with Lester Holt, DDT said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.” Firing someone to deliberately block an investigation is an impeachable offense. After the Holt interview, in which DDT called Comey a “grandstander” and “showboat,” the FBI disinvited DDT to FBI Headquarters, saying that “the optics would not be good.”

The Senate has subpoenaed fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to appear at a hearing about Russian interference in the recent election. The joint chairs of the Intelligence Committee had requested materials from him on April 28, but he refused. Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, but he didn’t find any takers. Among Flynn’s problems are his taking payments from Russia and Turkey while giving them information. The committee has received only two responses in requests for documents from DDT associates.

In DDT’s attempt to find those three million voters who voted for Hillary Clinton last year and gave her a majority, he signed an executive order for a commission to review fraud and voter suppression in the nation’s election system with the possible intent of rigging the 2018 elections. If he were sincere, he could find almost zero of the first and a massive amount of the second—mostly through state legislation. After the election, ABC contacted officials in all 50 states and found that voter fraud was “very” or “extremely” rare. DDT’s leader, however, is Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is extremely successful in finding voter fraud everywhere in places where it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of voter suppression.

In another action, DDT broke a century-long tradition requiring senators to approve judicial nominees who sit on federal courts in their states. To ensure a right-wing court system, he has nominated ten unvetted lawyers for lifetime judges on federal courts without consulting any senators.

A few days after DDT defunded members of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), claiming it was “unconstitutional,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was booed when she gave the graduation address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach (FL). DeVos has her own issues with HBCUs, referring them as a sort of pilot program for schools of choice while ignoring the fact that people went there not out of choice but because they weren’t permitted into white schools. In the speech, the billionaire who forced legislation to move many Michigan students into failing religious schools funded by taxpayers said:

“We must first listen and then speak with humility to genuinely hear the perspectives of those with whom we don’t immediately or instinctively agree.”

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index lost half the gains it made since DDT’s election, going from +16 to +3. Fewer Americans last week said the economy was “getting better” (45%) than said it was “getting worse” (49%), leaving the economic outlook component at -4, its worst score since Nov. 7-13, when it measured -5. The rating is almost 20 points below its recent high of +15 set in early March. DDT is down to a 36 percent approval, and that was before he fired Comey. The percentages for his characteristics are also very low.

No matter the intention behind Comey’s firing—distraction, avoidance, shock, chaos—scholars on authoritarianism agree that DDT’s goal is to “uproot the system,” according to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at NYU. We’ve watched his obsession with issuing executive orders, his aggressive opposition toward the media, and his love for “alternative facts” while GOP politicians enable him for their own personal advantage. In a recent event, a reporter was arrested for asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price whether or not domestic violence survivors would have difficulty getting insurance under Trumpcare.

Ben-Ghiat said, “Democracy is threatened in drips.” She draws parallels between DDT and authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Hungary who undermine society by chipping at democratic institutions while greatly expanding their power. The people of the United States, however, may be developing a bit more savvy about DDT’s techniques after 16 weeks: 54 percent of the people think that the firing was inappropriate, and only 24 percent think that the reason was Hillary Clinton’s emails, DDT’s original stated reason.

Progressives had one win this week. After a spate of successful bills overturning President Obama’s regulations, the Senate voted against a resolution to nullify a clean air regulation the last day before the GOP could do this without a filibuster. In the 51-49 vote, Sens. John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsey Graham (SC)  joined the Democrats. The Congressional Review Act, successfully used only once before DDT allows repeal of regulations within 60 days of being submitted to Congress, has been used in he past 100 days to reverse 15 regulations from President Obama.

The regulation that stayed updates 30-year-old regulations about venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas on public and Native American lands to help stop waste of natural resources. It helps protect the climate while saving taxpayers $330 million a year. Colorado, one of the two states that already have this regulation, have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the residents, including Republicans, and increased both job production and natural gas production, a contradiction to arguments from the conservative opposition.

DDT didn’t wait until this weekend to issue crazy tweets. First he threatened to stop press briefings from the White House after the media pointed out all the inconsistencies regarding DDT’s method and reasoning for firing Comey. He ratcheted up his paranoid almost to the level of former President Richard Nixon when he threatened Comey:

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

DDT has not denied that he taped meetings or records conversations in the Oval Office. Witness intimidation is a crime, and DDT threatened former Attorney General Sally Yates before she testified last Monday to a Senate hearing:

“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council [sic].”

DDT also violated the Presidential Records Act by attempting to scrub the tweet with the misspelled tweet and replacing it with the corrected version. All his tweets must be kept as official records of his public remarks. DDT may still not know that all his tweets belong to the people of the United States.

Hard to believe that these are the actions of a man supposed to be the leader of the “free world.”

November 7, 2016

Voting in the U.S., a Third World Country

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , ,

 

Forget the problems of the FBI’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and the massive number of lies that Donald Trump has been permitted to publicize about Hillary Clinton because the media is no longer a “truth squad”—quote from “journalist” Chris Wallace. Three years ago, five Supreme Court justices gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and chaos prevailed.

Throughout the nation, “Trump Trolls” are spreading misinformation to confuse voters. Tweets, disguised as campaign ads, tell people to “vote from home” by texting in their votes. Twitter claims it has tried to delete this falsehood, but it has not. Yesterday, trolls repeated this falsehood and added lies about voting on November 9 for Hillary Clinton to avoid the long lines. Tweets also falsely claimed that people needed seven kinds of ID at the polls.

In addition to being blatant lies, the tweets also violate Twitter’s policies because of the claims that the messages are “paid for by Hillary For President.” They could also violate the Federal Election Commission law. Clinton’s website is “Hillary for America,” not Hillary For President, and the Clinton campaign has created a reply to the texting number that “the ad you saw was not approved by Hillary For America in any way.” Trolls then shifted the number to the Clinton campaign with the response “Thanks for being a part of the campaign!” that trolls hope “sounds like it counted the vote.”

The nation now has 868 fewer polling places than four years ago, and the vast majority of those that disappeared are in minority- and student-heavy areas of Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas—states where the Voting Rights Act no longer has the ability to ensure that all registered voters can get to the polls. Almost half the closed polls are in Texas, all in counties with established records of discrimination and recent violations of the Voting Rights Act. Just one poll alone in Cincinnati (OH) had 4,000 people in line waiting to vote.

These are a few other recent voting issues in potentially swing states:

Arizona: The Supreme Court reinstated a state law banning political campaigners from collecting absentee ballots completed by voters after it was overturned by a lower court.

New Jersey: A federal judge ruled that the RNC’s “poll monitoring and ballot security activities” do not violate a legal settlement from 1982 despite the purpose of the “monitoring” is to intimidate minority voters.

North Carolina: A federal judge ordered county elections boards to immediately restore registrations wrongfully purged from voter rolls, but that was only four days before Election Day and long after people were turned away from early voting. Yesterday the GOP sent a press release bragging about its reduction of black voters.

Nevada: Donald Trump and the state GOP director are accusing polls of being “rigged” because long lines at a Las Vegas Latino neighborhood prevented closing until 10:00 pm. There was no justification for their complaints or the statement that Democratic voters were being bussed in to get votes from “certain people,” and people were in line before the polls closed hours earlier.

Ohio: A three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the restraining order against the plans of Donald Trump’s campaign, his adviser Roger Stone, and their associates to harass and intimidate voters at the state polls tomorrow. Stone doesn’t plan to keep his intimidation to Ohio: he plans to direct “watchers” to 20 Democratic-dominated and mostly urban precincts in eight battleground states—Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Monitoring at the polls employs racial profiling. Trump supporters plan to check on everyone who doesn’t “speak American,” his definition for Mexicans, Syrians, and other legal immigrants. Lawsuits brought by local Democratic parties in Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania accuse monitors of violating not only the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but also the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. That law from almost 150 years ago following the South’s loss of the Civil War states that obstruction of anyone’s right to vote based on race is illegal.

It’s been only 50 years ago since many people were murdered for their attempts to register or actually vote following a century of disenfranchisement through poll taxes, literacy tests, and all-white primaries.

Much of the GOP panic in voting by minorities comes from the massive surge of Hispanic voters. Black voters may not be turning out in the numbers that they did for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, sometimes because 2016 is the first year that the Voting Rights Act no longer protects them against voter suppression. But in Florida, almost one million of the 6.2 million early votes counted through yesterday are from Hispanics in a 100-percent increase over 2012. Over one-third of these voting Hispanics did not vote in 2012. Not only that, but the number of votes from blacks in the state has increased over 2012.

Hispanics have typically comprised a low percentage of voters. Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer even said that they were no danger this year to Republican candidates because Hispanic Democrats “don’t vote.” But the 27 million Hispanics eligible to vote this year is a 26-percent increase over four years ago when only 48 percent of them voted, and the Hispanic early vote in Arizona is already double what it was in 2012.

With the possibility of successful early voting for Democrats, the GOP will be working on a solution to get rid of those pesky progressive votes. Jonah Goldberg claims in a column for the conservative National Review that the events during the past week might have changed people’s decisions—citing all those negatives for Hillary Clinton. His innuendo that knowing about all these insinuations would move voters away from the Democratic candidate allows him to repeat all the recent accusations toward Clinton. He also writes, “Comey’s bombshell is a perfect illustration of how new facts can make a hash of things.” (Yesterday’s news exonerating Clinton pretty much cleaned up the hash.)  Goldberg repeats several of Clinton’s statements, but about Trump, he wrote, “Well, let’s just say he’s said a lot of things.”

Goldberg used the same argument that I’ve used in the past: “The standard argument against widespread early voting is that it encourages many people to make their decisions without important information available to the voters who wait until Election Day.” In that case, he’s right, but if we wait until Election Day to vote, we’re also missing more information that occurs after that time. And the many hours that people have to wait in line even with early voting show that states couldn’t handle all voting on Election Day. At this time, only seven states have not early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Out of the kindness of his heart, Goldberg says that he doesn’t want “insurmountable obstacles” to voting, but like other conservatives he wants to make voting more difficult so that people will value this right. I’m sure he hates the Oregon systems of “motor-voter” registration in which eligible people are automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses and “vote by mail” in which ballots arrive in the mailbox and completed ones can be dropped off in easily accessible ballot boxes.

Only one party, the one that wants to totally control all laws and legislators in the United States, wants to make voting harder and harder. That is the mark of a Third World country.

Please vote by the close of polls tomorrow! And if you live in Oregon, drop off your ballot before then so that it will count.

October 31, 2016

U.S. Republicans Suppress Votes

The election is rigged, claims Donald Trump, and Iowa made the first arrest in 2016 for voter fraud. Terri Rote, 55, tried to vote for Trump at two separate polling stations in Des Moines and faces up to five years if convicted. She claimed that she was afraid that her first vote would be changed to Clinton. The system worked because she was caught. Investigation into the accusation that dead people were voting showed that some of these voters were mistakenly listed on death rolls, some had the same or similar names to dead people in their districts, and with others poll workers mistakenly scanned the wrong barcode on the voter rolls.

voter-protection-fake-badgeVoter fraud is the GOP excuse for suppressing the vote across the nation because Republicans think they can’t win in a fair contest. Trump  is sending people—including militia members and off-duty law enforcement officials–to take video and still cameras to search for voter fraud in nine cities with high minority populations. Roger Stone’s “Vote Protectors” are to have fake but official-looking ID badges to intimidate voters and livestream their images on the internet. Huffington Post printed off this “badge” from Stone’s website. The “badge” information is gone, but Stone still asks his “protectors” to execute “exit polls” to contest any Trump losses. In Ohio, Steve Webb plans to closely follow any voting minorities “to make them a little bit nervous.”

These actions could cause trouble for the RNC. In 1981, Stone helped the GOP New Jersey gubernatorial candidate win with a “ballot security” force wearing black armbands to intimidate minority voters. A lawsuit led to a Consent Decree on the RNC due to be lifted next year. It could be extended for at least eight years if the DNC wins its lawsuit showing current intimidation, including Stone’s message on social media that “poll watchers” should wear red shirts on Election Day as they supervise minority populations.

GOP-controlled states are also suppressing the vote:

Nevada: Despite orders from federal district Judge Miranda Du to provide early voting and Election Day polling sites on Indian reservations for the Nevada’s largest tribes, the state’s GOP Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske decided that she didn’t need to do this for any tribes not so ordered. Members of the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation must drive 275 miles roundtrip to register and vote, but Cegavske said that their request came 24 hours late. She stated several concerns including not knowing who could “investigate and prosecute potential election law violations occurring on sovereign tribal lands.” Her office has earlier set up extra polling places in fewer than 48 hours if the voters didn’t seem to be largely Democratic. Cegavske belongs to the Koch-owned ALEC.

North Carolina: Several of the nation’s most restrictive voter suppression laws were struck down earlier this year; judges wrote that North Carolina enacted these laws to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The GOP has other ways to continue suppressing the vote, for example long wait times in 18 counties, including the largest four, that have lost most of the early-voting locations and have as little as three percent of the votes in 2012. In the other 82 counties, voting has averaged one-fourth more than 2012. Guilford County, with a population of almost one-half million people, lost 15 of the 16 early-voting locations from 2012. Voters at North Carolina A&T State University, a black college with over 10,000 students, must travel at least a mile away because its campus early-voting location was removed from campus.

north-carolina-voting

Another suppression system in the state is removing voters from the rolls. Grace Harrison, 100, was one of 100 Beaufort County residents—mostly black—who had consistently voted for decades but were forced to attend an in-person hearing to defend their right to vote because one piece of mail was bounced back from their addresses. The NAACP is suing the state because the National Voter Registration Act bans the removal of voters during the last 90 days before the election, and they must have more chances to respond to the mail. Part of the lawsuit also concerns the failure of the state to add tens of thousands of voters to the rolls who registered at a DMV over the past few years.

Gov. Pat McCrory, leader of the state’s “potty police” laws against transgender people and Trump supporter, cheered about the success of his alternate suppression techniques because Democratic voters were “not coming out” to the polls.

Ohio: A federal court order kept Ohio from purging 200,000 voter registrations just last week because they had not cast ballots since 2012. These voters may be disenfranchised, however, because their provisional ballots are frequently thrown out in Republican-controlled states. The state refuses to send these voters absentee ballots. The purge hit twice the number of people living in Democratic-leaning areas and targeted black residents in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and the homeless.

Texas: A court removed some restrictions on voting as a “poll tax” because the state-mandated IDs were more expensive than the sometimes free IDs not permitted for voting. Two years later, the federal appeals court ruled that the law discriminated against minority voters. Yet Texas officials found an easy way to continue voter suppression: they simply lie to the people about the necessary documents for voting. A federal judge ruled that voters can bring documents showing their names and addresses to the polls as identification and sign a statement saying that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID. Voting has started, and polls are still using outdated posters that list only the old rules. Poll workers tell voters in lines to have their photo IDs ready without telling people how to vote without these IDs. In a poll of 1,000 registered voters, only one-fourth of the respondents knew that a photo ID is not necessary to vote with ethnic minorities far more confused than white voters about regulations.

Indiana: Almost 45,000 newly-registered voters, almost all black, may not be able to vote because police raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project and seized documents on October 4—just one week before the end of the state’s early registration period. No one knows why, but the GOP vice-presidential candidate is still governor of Indiana and a close friend of Doug Carter, the superintendent of the Indiana State Police. Prior to the closure of the voter registration, police detectives went to the homes of people registering voters “to interrogate them.”

Wisconsin: Voters at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay asked for an early-voting location on the grounds because of long voting lines during the primary, but Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske refused, saying it lacked the necessary resources. Privately, however, Teske wrote that student voting would benefit the Democratic Party in an email to David Buerger, counsel at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Teske was appointed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Georgia: As many as 100,000 voter-registration applications weren’t processed by the state that also refused to extent voter-registration deadlines despite the devastating Hurricane Matthew. GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, election overseer, said that “we can’t sit back and watch the radical left create chaos in our state” after the ACLU asked a court to reopen voter registration for the counties hardest hit by the hurricane. In an effort to intimidate voters, Georgia also moved a polling precinct for mostly black voters from a gymnasium to the sheriff’s office. Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta has only one early-voting precinct for a population of almost 900,000 people.

Florida: When Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the time for voter registration because of the hurricane, a judge overturned not only his decision but also the mandate that a signature on absentee ballots exactly match the original one which could be 50 years old.

James Comey, FBI director, may be responsible for the largest vote-rigging in the nation. His letter to legislators—not his responsibility—stated that the discovery of more “Clinton emails” might not be significant but should be investigated. The “existence” of these emails was released almost a month after they were found, and there’s no indication that any of the emails are either from or to Hillary Clinton. Yet Comey has allowed Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  to state that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, another falsehood.

The man who cheerfully released what he hoped was damaging information about Clinton said he didn’t tell people that Russia is meddling in the country’s election because he might influence voting. When Comey sat on that information, the DHS made it public. In the Clinton case, Comey found transparency important; in the Trump case, he wanted to hide what he knew.

James O’Keefe, who tried to make highly edited videos to lie about the Clinton campaign “rigging” Trump’s campaign, may be responsible for illegal wiretapping. Earlier O’Keefe videos destroyed ACORN and came close to destroying Planned Parenthood. Now he wants to destroy Clinton.

As people consider their beliefs, they need to know that the more they hear a statement—true or false—the more likely they are to believe it. Voter fraud, lack of trust in Clinton—the lies are embedded into minds in an “illusion of truth.” It’s much easier to believe in generalities than to search for facts.

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