Nel's New Day

June 26, 2020

DDT Uses COVID-19 to Erase Democracy

GOP members of Congress are like the Confederates marching up the hill at Gettysburg in Pickett’s Charge and getting picked off by the thousands: they blindly follow Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to calamity but can’t turn around. Some of them will survive their next elections, but an increasing number of formerly staunch Republican voters grow disillusioned by the leadership’s lack of ethics, moving the United States away from democracy. This week’s abysmal actions representative of autocracy continue GOP behavior under DDT’s fascist direction.

The worst of these may come from courts removing the habeas corpus—the constitutional guarantee of due process for imprisonment in the Suspension Clause (Clause 2) in Article One, Section 9.

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Rights include a fair and speedy trial, counsel, trial by a jury of peers, appearance before accusers, and freedom from unlawful and seizure. Habeas corpus was suspended during the Civil War and to put Japanese-Americans into detention camps during World War II. Forty-four years later President Gerald Ford rescinded that executive order, and Japanese-Americans have received an apology and reparations. After 9/11, the Military Commissions Act (2006) reversed habeas corpus for those detained by the U.S. deemed an enemy combatant, and but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the act in Boumediene v. Bush (2008). The far-right is now using the pandemic to void habeas corpus.

A New York State Supreme Court judge denied the release of hundreds of protesters in jail for more than 24 hours, contrary to the law, because of the virus. “All writs are denied,” Justice James Burke wrote. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called it “a suspension of habeas corpus.” Chicago police denied protesters their right to attorneys.

In a 7-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court denied habeas corpus to people seeking asylum in the U.S. The case concerned Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a member of the minority Tamil population in Sri Lanka, was abducted by unidentified men in his home country and severely beaten. Undocumented immigrants caught within 100 miles of a land border within 14 days of arrival can be deported without a hearing; Thuraissigiam was 25 yards from the border. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote:

“Taken to its extreme, a rule conditioning due process rights on lawful entry would permit Congress to constitutionally eliminate all procedural protections for any non-citizen the Government deems unlawfully admitted and summarily deport them no matter how many decades they have lived here, how settled and integrated they are in their communities, or how many members of their family are U.S. citizens or residents.”

DDT plans to discontinue the practice of informing Congress about entering into major weapons deals after lawmakers blocked his arrangement to provide Saudi Arabia and UAE with U.S. bomb to kill Yemeni civilians. The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) requires the president to formally notify Congress of major foreign arms sales 30 days in advance, but former State Department officials have given informal notice earlier to allow input from lawmakers.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Assistant US AG Aaron Zelinsky described the corrupt pressure on line prosecutors to give DDT’s friend Roger Stone special treatment, including the sentencing override with “a new sentencing memorandum that included statements and assertions at odds with the record and contrary to Department of Justice policy.” Zelinsky said the instructions came down from Acting US Attorney for District of Columbia, Timothy Shea, because Shea was “afraid of the President.” Zelinsky’s “objections were not heeded,” he said, and he resigned from his position, returning to Maryland. His supervisor had told Zelinsky to not follow DOJ guidelines for Stone’s sentencing recommendation.

AG Bill Barr is also subverting the voting process to skew the results:  [visual trump vote cartoon]

  • He exonerates people who helped interfere in the 2016 election.
  • He destroys confidence in the government ‘s ability to protect the 2020 election.
  • He lets people suppressing the vote that he will give them special treatment.
  • He spreads disinformation about the possibility of voter fraud.

Gearing up for a loss in November, DDT spread lies about “the most corrupt election in the history of our country”—stolen ballots, forged by foreigners or kept from GOP voting districts—beliefs totally debunked by the ten percent of the nation legally voting by mail.  

The drastic spike of COVID-19 in Texas did not sway the U.S. Supreme Court to allow people in Texas to vote by absentee if they wish to avoid the virus. The court ruling is for the July 14 primary runoff; the separate request for the November election remains pending.

GOP politicians use mail-in ballots because they’re homeless. DDT already used his club in Florida for his residence address although it’s not his residence. VP Mike Pence and his wife Karen are another case of falsifying their address: they used the Indiana governor’s mansion on April 13. They moved out of the place at the end of 2016 to go to Washington, D.C. The current governor, Eric Holcomb, registered to vote at the same address. 

DDT and Barr continue to blame “antifa” and “anarchists” for violence in the month-long protests, but a WaPo factcheck by Meg Kelly and Elyse Samuels could not find one example of antifa-incited violence. They interviewed witnesses and reviewed arrest records, federal charges, intelligence reports, online conversations and dozens of videos and photos of violent incidents from the early days of protests in Minneapolis for their report through protests in over 140 cities. According to U.S. officials within the joint terrorism task force, most of the violence “local hooligans, sometimes gangs, sometimes just individuals that are trying to take advantage of an opportunity.” At different protests, “some antifa …. stood back, did not engage, certainly not in a violent way.”

The majority of 14,000 arrests in 49 cities since May 27 were for low-level offences such as curfew violation and failure to disperse. Eighty federal charges, including murder and throwing Molotov cocktails at police vehicles, show no evidence of an antifa plot reveal no evidence of an antifa plot; four people among those facing the most serious federal charges identify with the far-right extremist “boogaloo” movement. The Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which tracks white supremacist and far-right groups, found almost 200 appearances by vigilantes and far-right extremists at protests in the U.S. protests. At the same time, law enforcement is collaborating with white supremacists in many locations where they receive easier charges for their violence.

In his purpose of appearing part of DDT’s “law and order,” anti-protest schtick, Barr is taking over state responsibilities in prosecuting protesters for crimes. Some of these cases may be serious, but two incidents are breaking police car windows. A case of throwing a Molotov cocktail was considered a federal regulation of foreign commerce because the device used an imported bottle of tequila. Constitutional experts declare Barr’s actions are not in keeping with the Constitution’s limited role for the federal government and federal law enforcement. In one case, the federal government arrested protesters on the basis of interstate commerce. They never affected it, but a directive, not followed through, warned drivers of trucks bearing hazardous materials to divert.

Today, DDT signed an executive order telling Barr to prioritize prosecution for anyone who damages federal monuments and religious property. The Veterans’ Memorial Preservation Act imposes up to ten years for damage to structures on public property commemorating veterans. The order also permits the dispatch of military to protect these monuments and other property at the request of the secretaries of Interior or Homeland Security or Administrator of General Services. Barr directed the DOJ to form a task force combating “anti-government extremists.” DDT also threatened to remove federal support from state and local governments who don’t protect the monuments.

DDT blamed the virus for canceling H-1B “highly-skilled worker” and H-2B  seasonal non-agricultural laborer visas until the end of the year or longer “as necessary.” About 525,000 people, including cultural and educational exchange worker J visa holders, will be denied entry.

Hate for the World Health Organization (WHO) caused DDT to order U.S. diplomats and health officials justification for any engagement with the WHO as being necessary for national security and public health safety. Disasters with DDT’s disconnect with WHO:

The U.S. has been cut out of developing the seasonal influenza vaccine, and the U.S. could lack access to an eventual COVID-19 vaccine. For example, centers in over 100 countries collect samples from sick people, isolate viruses, and search for new ones as part of the process to choose the flu strains for the annual vaccine. The CDC would no longer have access to data and virus samples protecting U.S. people from deadly strains of flu.

The U.S. could have no knowledge about health threats in another part of the world and initiatives to combat infectious diseases such as the eradication of polio still in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The U.S., without WHO, would need to take on some of its responsibilities, drawing its attention from the response to the virus.

China would fill in the U.S. vacuum and be dominant in the world.

A second term for DDT means the complete end of democracy in the United States, thanks to the Republican party.

June 20, 2020

DDT: Week 178 – Tulsa Rally, Other Controversies

Despite major events of the past week—protests, police brutality, another executive order, two big Supreme Court rulings, COVID-19 killing thousands of people while Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ignores the virus, and DDT’s determination to infect thousands more at his Tulsa rally—the U.S. government is hiding more corruption.

 The biggest controversy—other than DDT’s Tulsa rally today—came from AG Bill Barr’s late Friday night firing Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and DDT’s replacement appointment of Jay Clayton, SEC chair, who has no prosecutorial experience but was a lawyer for Deutsche Bank. Since DDT’s interim appointment of Berman, he investigated DDT’s hush money payments for two women after affairs with them, leading to a guilty plea from DDT’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and into DDT’s finances. Berman also had cases against DDT lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, indicted for funneling Russian money to GOP candidates. A replacement for Berman is unlikely if the GOP refuses to tackle a contentious process in an election year. An excellent insight into DDT’s maneuvers. 

Berman said he wasn’t quitting, Barr said DDT had fired Berman, and DDT told reporters that the ouster was “all up to the attorney general” and he hadn’t become involved in the matter. After Barr appointed Berman’s deputy AG as replacement, Berman quit. The House Judiciary Committee begins an investigation into Berman’s firing this coming week with two DOJ whistleblowers testifying about Barr’s politicizing the DOJ.

DDT’s loans for almost $500 million—or more—come due within four years. He’s also losing enough revenue from the pandemic he can’t even pay rent on his Florida golf course.

  • Deutsche bank, 2012: $125 million for the Doral golf resort, due in 2023.
  • Deutsche bank, 2014: $170 million for Trump Tower, due in 2024.
  • Deutsche bank, 2014: $25 to $50 million for Chicago hotel/complex, due in 2024.
  • Ladder Capital (lender of last resort): $100 million for Trump Tower, due in 2022.
  • Ladder Capital: $13 million for Trump Plaza.

Whistleblowers at the House hearing, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, a DOJ prosecutor quitting the Roger Stone case after Barr’s political appointees requested a lenient sentence for him, and John W. Elias, an antitrust official, are using a federal law prohibiting reprisals against civil servants giving information to Congress. Barr has refused to testify. A third scheduled witness, Donald Ayer, served as deputy AG when Barr led the department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1989 and 1990.

According to newly unredacted parts of the Mueller report, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen told investigators Roger Stone promised the campaign damaging revelations by WikiLeaks. DDT knew in advance WikiLeaks would be releasing these embarrassing documents for Hillary Clinton but denied his knowledge in written testimony for Mueller’s team. Barr misrepresented this information and hid it until a court order forced him to remove the redactation.

The audience for DDT’s big rally comeback in Tulsa filled under two-thirds of the venue holding 19,000. He blamed the shortage of people on peaceful protesters outside. DDT again appealed to his white supremacist base by extolling the virtues of the Confederate heritage, a treasonous act that almost split the United States. DDT canceled a speech for an overflow crowd because almost no one came. Six campaign staffers for the rally tested positive for COVID-19 which is rapidly spiking in the state, especially Tulsa.

DDT gave one of the biggest pandemic-related contracts, $618 million, to an almost unknown biodefense company, Emergent BioSolutions, for a yet undeveloped vaccine. With the consolidation of contracts for the company comes “vulnerabilities in the supply chair,” according to WaPo, and inflated costs after DDT’s focus on biodefense instead of pandemics. Before becoming DDT’s assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, retired Air Force colonel Robert Kadlec advised Emergent and then started a biodefense consulting company with Emergent’s founder. As aide to Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Kadlec helped draft legislation that created his current position. Over 20 years ago, Emergent, then called BioPort, received a contract for an anthrax vaccine and inflated the price before members of the military receiving the vaccine reported bad reaction. Another company received the contract for a vaccine until Emergent bought the rights to the different vaccine and kept increasing the prices over the cost of its production.

Since COVID-19 hit the U.S., healthcare industry CEOs paid themselves $2.4 billion, 27 million people lost their healthcare coverage, and people have been charged from $400,000 to $1.1 million for treatment as well as $2,000 for testing. The nation is headed into a new recession. During the last one, the Federal Reserve committed $16 trillion to $29 trillion to large financial institutions, passed a bailout of $4 trillion to large corporations, and spent $10 trillion of the Iraq War, military budget, and Bush/DDT tax cuts. Remember these numbers when Republicans try to eliminate healthcare and Social Security.

DDT ordered meat plants to stay open, threatening a catastrophic domestic food shortage if infected workers didn’t stand close throughout the day. In April, the industry sold 129,000 tons of domestic pork to China, a record amount.

The EPA ignored a court order to permit perchlorate, used in fertilizers and explosives like solid rocket propellants, munitions, fireworks, matches, and airbag initiators, in clear water. The poisonous chemical severely reduces IQs in infants and causes disorders such as hypothyroidism.

With no announcement, DDT gave permission for sponsors of retirement plans such as 401(k)s to invest the money into funds managed by predatory private equity firms. The high-risk result can mean huge returns—and huge losses—while firms skim fees off the funds. Private equity millionaires and billionaires are the winners, up to $425 billion from just five percent of these funds available to private equity.

Litigious-happy DDT threatened his niece with a lawsuit if she publishes her “harrowing and salacious” book about him, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, on July 28. He claims that Mary Trump has an NDA that prevented her from repeating anything she knows about him after a 2001 settlement for the estate of her father, Fred Trump.

CIA displayed “woefully lax” security and the worst data loss in its history after one of its officers stole CIA hacking tools. The October 2017 report about publication of these hacking tools by WikiLeaks, submitted as evidence in the trial of Joshua Schulte, was unnoticed until Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) got the public version from DOJ and gave it to the WaPo. According to the report, there was no secrecy among users for sensitive information such as passwords, thumb drives and other removable media, and historical data. Without auditing, the theft wasn’t discovered for a year when WikiLeaks announced it in March 2017. The loss would never have been noticed without a publication. Wyden wants Congress to review the law exempting intelligence agencies from federal cybersecurity requirements.

Iowa Republicans will keep voters from getting absentee ballots by requiring the voter ID pin number on requests, something few voters know. The same bill includes a voter ID requirement for people casting their ballots at county government offices in early voting. Republicans slipped the mandates into a budget bill just before legislature’s adjournment after GOP members promised to remove restrictions from the bill.

Amidst the domestic trauma and the spiking of COVID-19 in the U.S., fights are breaking out throughout the world. A clash on the China-India border high in the Himalayas led to three dead Indian soldiers, the first such killings since 1975. DDT’s BFF Kim Jong-Un blew up the liaison office it opened with South Korea in 2018, functioning like an embassy, and threatened to send troops into the demilitarized zone. The explosion occurred just a few days after the two-year anniversary of his meeting with DDT in Singapore when DDT promised that Kim is “de-nuking the whole place.” Kim has now announced his bolstering the military to counter the U.S.

Make America Great Again Polls:

Rasmussen, DDT’s friendliest and most conservative polling: Joe Biden – 48 percent; DDT – 36 percent

NORC (University of Chicago): 14 percent of very happy people, down from 31 percent with people the unhappiest they have been in 50 years—before the death of George Floyd and the protests. Only 42 percent of people think their children will have a better standard of living, down from 57 percent in 2018 and the lowest ever.

Axios-Ipsos: 81 percent of people worry about a second wave of COVID-19; 64 percent think a return to pre-coronavirus life presents a risk, up from 57 percent a week ago; 40 percent worry about getting sick, up from 32 percent last week; 54 percent fear economic collapse, up from 48 percent last week.

AP-NORC: 63 percent believe the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction; DDT’s approval rating is at 39 percent.

While DDT ignores COVID-19, the number of infections is skyrocketing—33,388 today, June 20, raising the total to 2,330,578; at least 121,980 have died of the virus. At this rate, over 1 percent of the U.S. population will have the virus within three weeks.

May 31, 2020

Week 175 – Sunday Good News

In the midst of protesting George Floyd’s killing throughout at least 75 cities where police attack and arrest law-abiding reporters, one place in the United States provides a model of reaction to demonstrations. In Flint (MI), a sheriff and his officers put down their riot gear and joined with protesters. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson (left) told the crowd marching on the Flint Township police station he wanted to hear them. He added he and his officers are in service of their demands and their protest. The leaders talked with Swanson, and law enforcement joined with protesters to “make this a parade, not a protest.”

Local photographer Leni Kei Williams documented the event in a photo essay posted to Facebook. He wrote about the inception of the interaction:

 

“When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question… ‘We are mad too! What can we do?’ and the crowd responded, ‘Join us.’”

“You got little ones here, you got dogs,” the sheriff said to the crowd in remarks caught on camera. “So listen, I’m just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there, hugs people. So you just tell us what to do.”

Later, Swanson said:

“We can’t forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, ‘protect and serve.’ That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity. If you can’t call out what’s wrong, try to make it right. And that’s the magic we saw tonight. Nobody’s arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it’s supposed to be.

“This is the way it’s supposed to be—the police working with the community. When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we’re walking with them. … The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy [who killed George Floyd] is not one of us.”  

More of Williams’ photographs.

Similar actions happened in Camden (NJ), Coral Gables (FL), Santa Cruz (CA), Norfolk (VA), and probably other areas.

As DDT grows more desperate in his opposition to mail-in ballots, including raving about bands of children stealing ballots from mail boxes to get them signed and mailed in, a large majority of people in the nation, including 57 percent of Republicans, want mail-in ballots. We all feel we can safely cast our votes without long lines or dangers of crowded places. A new Brennan Center poll finds 80 percent of U.S. people, 90 percent of them registered to vote, want all voters to have the option of mail ballots for the 2020 election.  A Reuters poll found 65 percent of Republicans want the mail ballot option. In addition, two-thirds of people in a poll want voting available for as long as two weeks to eliminate long lines. Republicans are also creating organizations supporting mail ballots, for example former Pennsylvania GOP governor Tom Ridge who has co-founded “VoteSafe.” 

Ridge’s definition of democracy differs from Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons who said, “If you don’t [feel safe], don’t go out and vote.” He’s the same guy who passed on the question about who was responsible for the massive crowds at the Lake of the Ozarks who kept gathering because the county said it was the state’s responsibility. With an answer fitting every question, Parsons said, “It is what it is.” And about the tragic death of George Floyd, Parsons said, “It didn’t look too good.” [Parsons may not fit the “good” part of Sunday’s blog post, but his comments are too good to pass up.]

The Texas absentee voting lawsuit is still ping-ponging through the courts. State AG Ken Paxton wants mail-in ballots greatly restricted, but people want to maintain social distancing by voting from home. The latest state Supreme Court ruling is that concern about COVID-19 is insufficient to obtain a mail-in ballot. But the news for people isn’t all bad. The court also decided voters can assess their personal health to see if they have a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition” preventing a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s health.” Voters are also not required to explain what their disability is; they just check the box on the application form. And Paxton cannot prevent local election officials from sending ballots to voters who cited lack of immunity to the virus.

In an attempt to exonerate Michael Flynn and DDT, Congress released what the media calls “transcripts” of Flynn’s communications with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak when Flynn personally negotiated with a foreign country while Barack Obama was president. The conversations followed President Obama’s sanctions on Russia because of the country’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election. Flynn asked Kislyak to be “even-keeled” about the president’s punishment because “we can have a better conversation” about the relationship between U.S. and Russia after DDT’s inauguration. What has been released is enough of a condemnation of Flynn, who lied to the FBI in denying details of the conversation and undercutting a sitting president. Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) said the conversations also prove Flynn liked to VP Mike Pence. DDT had fired Flynn for his lies and admitted Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The released material, however, is only a summary of the interactions with some quotation—transcripts of every part of their conversations. DDT’s allies are still claiming Flynn did nothing wrong, and AG Bill Barr called Flynn’s actions “laudable.”

After protests from media such as The Rachel Maddow Show and legislators including Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Max Rose (D-NY), DDT extended the deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops fighting COVID-19 through mid-August. He originally removed the deployment on June 24, 89 days, to refuse Guard troops any federal retirement and education benefits. Earlier deployment would also have caused problems for states depending on the Guard in new hot spots caused by reopening economies. Troops help understaffed and underfunded public health agencies with testing, contact tracing and other health services. Deploying on June 24 would have meant troops would leave by Jun 10 to quarantine for two weeks. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Guard Chief General Joseph Lengyel endorsed an extension last week, and 42 governors sent DDT a letter demanding continued federal support for the Guard.

Paul Manafort got out of prison because of COVID-19. So did Michael Cohen. But DDT wanted to leave all the other prisoners in danger of infection in place despite a virus hot zone in a federal prison in Ohio. For once, the Supreme Court disagreed—at least temporarily—with DDT. 

Late Friday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to reject a California church’s challenge to the restrictions intended to protect people’s health. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that Gov Gavin Newsom could impose these restrictions because he didn’t single out specific places of worship. The court also turned down a request for Illinois churches to reopen. Both states had already removed some restrictions and permitted in-person services on last Sunday’s Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.

In the midst of DDT’s fight with Twitter, one of his judges rejected a lawsuit alleging Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Google conspired to silence conservative voices. Right-wingers accused the four companies of stifling First Amendment rights. Washington, D.C. appeals court Judge Trevor McFadden said First Amendment rights regulates the government, not the private sector and the plaintiffs didn’t prove the companies are “state actors.”

Opponents of Keystone XL and other pipelines picked up another victory from the 9th Circuit Court in a ruling that upheld a lower court ruling suspending a federal fast-track permit for the tar sands project. The court’s ruling stated the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” This decision followed a U.S. district court in Montana which ruled DDT’s Army Corps of Engineers violated the Endangered Species Act when it used the fast-track “Nationwide Permit 12.”

The League of Women Voters of Michigan has the right to be interveners in a lawsuit attempting to stop the mandate for Detroit to conduct an aggressive purge of voters, some of them most likely eligible because of the questionable and unsubstantiated data used in the process. The purge risks removing voters with similar names and allegedly “deceased” voters who are still alive. The League asserts federal law doesn’t require purges from third parties using questionable data, Detroit meets federal law requirements, and the process would threaten voters’ rights.

Twenty-three U.S. states, four cities, and the District of Columbia are suing DDT’s administration for weakening fuel efficiency standards. The lawsuit also pits auto manufacturers against each other: GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and others support DDT, and Ford, Honda, BMW, and other automakers oppose him.

President Trump’s job approval sank to 42 percent last week in a two-year low from the highly conservative Rasmussen poll. During several days of protesting, DDT’s rating dropped four points from the previous Friday.

May 10, 2020

DDT: Week 172 – GOP Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day.

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

 

 

April 4, 2020

DDT: Week 167 – Diversions, Hiding Actions, & the $2.2 Trillion Giveaway

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:16 PM
Tags: , , , ,

For the past week, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has either tried to create diversions to conceal his leadership or used COVID-19 to hide what he’s doing to the U.S. for his personal wishes. 

Diversions:

Announcing the deployment of Navy ships to Venezuela to fight drug trafficking in one of the largest military operations since the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 to unseat Gen. Manuel Noriega. The action follows DDT’s attempt at a coup in Venezuela by indicting its president, Nicholas Maduro, and his top officials and military. DDT and State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo plan to create a five-member council without Maduro or Juan Guaidó to govern the country.

Tweeting a threat last Wednesday to attack Iran after he increased his sanctions regime on the country that are killing people there and his former threats and violence against Iran failed. DDT’s tweet stated “upon information and belief,” language sometimes used for allegations with no evidence.

Failing in his five-week-old Taliban “agreement.”

Withdrawing the third U.S. coalition force from northern Iraq two days after the Pentagon ordered military commanders to plan for an escalation of U.S. combat in Iraq.

Knowing that North Korea fired its fourth launch of short-range ballistic missiles in March.

Inviting oil CEOs to the White House for a discussion about how to give them more money from the stimulus law after oil prices crashed. He also is bragging that he will help Saudi Arabia and Russia to end their price war. Today, he said he may put tariffs on oil imports.

Suggesting at one of his daily campaign rallies that everyone in the U.S. wear fake masks, such as scarves, whenever they go out of the house. The idea comes from the CDC which has been unable to provide testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms and is still missing the results of half the 1.3 million tests it claims to have completed. At his declaration of the recommendation, DDT said he wouldn’t be wearing one.

Denying any “massive recession” after ten million people lost their jobs. DDT called the economic crisis “artificial because we turned it off.”

Actions DDT prefers to hide:

Firing Michael Atkinson from his position as intelligence community inspector general and putting him on administrative leave because Atkinson legally informed Congress about the whistleblower complaint regarding Ukraine. National security analyst Clint Watts compared DDT to far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who secured dictatorial powers this week through an emergency law passed by Parliament. The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) deputy director Donald K. Sherman said that people need to ask “what investigations or audits did Atkinson start in the last few months,” citing possible intelligence failures about COVID-19.

Firing Brett Crozier, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, for trying to save the lives of the Navy members on his COVID-19 infested ship. His letter, requesting for “compliant quarantine rooms” on shore in Guam for his entire crew “as soon as possible,” appeared in the media. Crozier wrote the letter after a full week begging help to save the lives of his men and the number of infected men jumped from three to 100, a number that acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly could be hundreds when the testing of the crew is completed. Modley originally stated there would be no “retaliation” because that it was “what we want our commanding officers to be able to do.” The next day he said that Crozier had shown “poor judgment” and moved him out of the command.

Personal videos show huge numbers of the 4,865-member crew cheering him as he walks down the gangplank and off the ship. One caption: “The whole ship came out to say goodbye to Captain Crozier.” Roosevelt’s great-grandson called Crozier a “hero.” DDT said Crozier should have just asked him to get the men off the ship. Crozier did. [Sleeping quarters on an aircraft carriers.]

Appointing his personal partisan White House lawyer Brian D. Miller to serve as the inspector general to prevent fraud and abuse in the DDT’s gifts of $2.2 trillion. Miller was in charge of documents to protect DDT during the impeachment process. DDT’s Senate GOP minions are also continuing a probe into Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son. The burning U.S. has lots of fiddlers.

Accepting a National Labor Relations Board rule that eliminates “blocking charge policy,” which permits the delay of union election results if the employer is accused of unlawful coercion or other unfair labor practices. The rule also allows only 30 percent of a company’s employees to file for a union decertification in as few as 45 days after an employer voluntarily recognizes the union, giving a minority of workers to override the majority. The NLRB’s rule is at the same time that “essential” workers are protesting unsanitary workplaces and no protective gear. DDT’s new rule last month was allowing employees to cancel union dues any time after a year of membership instead of within the legal annual 15-day window. The Board’s goal is supposed to ensure workers rights.  

Refusing to allow an independent inspector general to report to Congress without “presidential supervision” and “will not provide documentation for audits into $500 billion in corporate bailout funds.” He claims that the constitution permits to do anything he wants through the “Take Care, or Faithfully Execute” clause in Article II, Section 3 that mandates a president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The clause demands the president obey the law and cannot dispense with the law’s execution.

Asking Deutsche Bank for a delay in paying Trump Organization loans because of COVID-19 and requesting a suspension of rent payments on land for the Trump International Golf Club although DDT’s businesses are legally blocked from tapping into the $2.2 trillion “stimulus” bill.

Taking the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation from the tribe of 2,600 citizens that has been in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for over 12,000 years. The tribe was re-acknowledged and federally recognized in 2007 with 320 acres of land declared as the reservation in 2015.

Stimulus law problems:

Opposing the new law, the Labor Department is exempting many small businesses—defined by those with fewer than 500 employees and large businesses with franchises—with new policies. New guidelines permitting employers

  • To mandate certification of need for leave.
  • To have work for the employee for them to get paid leave.
  • To restrict when employees can get leave.
  • To define “heath care provider,” who doesn’t get leave during crisis, as anyone working for a company that employs health care providers.
  • To exclude “shelter-in-place mandates for paid leave.
  • To deny paid leave if the company closes the worksite by government directive that includes quarantine or isolation orders.

Restricting the number of people who get the magic one-time $1,200 check within the next five months, the IRS illegally refused to send money to over 15 million people who don’t file tax returns because of extremely low income, including “low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans, and individuals with disabilities who are otherwise not required to file a tax return [and don’t] owe tax.” After a public hue and cry, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin persuaded the IRS to follow the new law

Only dependents under the age of 17 will get the check; most high school seniors and college students—even adults classified as dependents—won’t get any money

If one person in a family, even an infant, doesn’t have a valid Social Security number, no one in the family will receive a payment. The only exception is for married couples if at least one of them is a member of the military and at least one spouse has a Social Security number. People who are overdue on child support could see their cash payments reduced or eliminated. 

Airlines may fire workers because taking a payroll “loan” allows the government “to take ownership stakes … in exchange for” funds used for this purpose. The government could have a 40-percent stake in companies that take the “loan.” Mnuchin was behind the 11th-hour change in terms that could lead to loss of jobs for flight crews and airport workers.

More stuff in the law:

  • Up to $170 billion for real estate investors who use real estate losses to minimize taxes on profits from investments such as the stock market
  • Elimination of tax changes that businesses conceded in the 2017 tax cut.
  • Permission to for-profit colleges to keep loan money for students who leave because of COVID-19.
  • Help for manufacturers of “innovative” sunscreen technology.
  • A six-month extension of funding for abstinence-only education that doesn’t keep girls from getting pregnant.
  • An expansion of health savings accounts services to benefit mostly wealthier people.

Amidst an hour-long monolog to Fox & Friends, DDT said about the Democratic push in the stimulus bill to make voting easier in a health crisis:

“They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

That’s the GOP position: Republicans would lose if eligible people were permitted to vote. That’s why they oppose mail-in voting, even during a pandemic, although three states already have the practice. The stimulus law has no funding for the post office which could shutter in less than three months with a negative net worth of $65 billion and an additional $140 billion in unfunded liabilities. The USPS is in dire circumstances because Congress requires savings for retirements for the next 75 years and won’t allow its fees to increase. Closing the post office before the fall election could be a GOP plan to eliminate voting.

COVID-19 statistics on April 4, 2020:

USA – 311,635 confirmed cases and 8,454 deaths (1,632,955 tests); world – 1,202,609 confirmed cases and 64,732 deaths in 205 countries and territories.     

February 22, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – The Chaos Continues

This last week Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) retaliation went beyond firing Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire. In his reign of revenge, DDT fired Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, who began his federal career under George W. Bush. Rood made the mistake of questioning DDT’s freeze on military aid for Ukraine and warned Defense Secretary Mark Esper that withholding the aid would “undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.” Another Rood sin, in DDT’s eyes, was telling Congress that Ukraine was initiating significant reforms to get the funding which undermined one of DDT’s arguments for keeping the congressionally-appropriated money from Ukraine. Rood is the ninth recent DDT-instigated departure from the DOD.

Victoria Coates, deputy national security adviser, was moved to the Energy Department because Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade adviser, thinks—with no evidence—that she is the anonymous author of the book A Warning and of the op-ed criticizing DDT in September 2018. A week ago, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who hired Coates as his deputy to manage Middle East and North Africa issues, said she would not be moved from the job; a few days ago he confirmed her move. Navarro was given his job with the administration after DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner saw his name while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. Many of DDT’s misguided beliefs about trade can directly be traced to Navarro.

DDT is even threatening to get Neil Cavuto fired from the Fox network after the host allowed A.B. Stoddard to say, when she was making the point that Mike Bloomberg’s bad debate performance didn’t damage him:

“Donald Trump had many disastrous debate performances. Many answers were so cringeworthy that you couldn’t believe that he was still standing on the stage, and he’s President.”

DDT spent 15 minutes of his Colorado campaign rally ranting about Cavuto, ending in incoherence about his enemies:

“They want to take you out. They want to change the results. They got caught spying—let’s say it like it is, right?—they got caught spying on our election, fake news. Hey, fake news: take your cameras for a change, and show them the room, and show them behind you.”

DDT told Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he could abolish collective bargaining rights for the Defense Department’s 750,000 civilian workers, a move unions decried as part of the administration’s far-reaching assault on organized labor. “national security” and that, if necessary, collective bargaining rights at the department should be scrapped in the interest of “protecting the American people.” The workers have been guaranteed by law since 1962.

Floridians passed an initiative allowing voting rights to up to 1.4 million people who served sentences for all but the most serious crimes, but the state legislature spent over a year trying to stop them by requiring them to pay all court-related fines and fees in order to register. Florida funds its court system with heavy fines. Disenfranchised blacks are five times the rate of any other state. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court has upheld a ruling opposing the Republicans’ poll tax for voting for the 17 plaintiffs. The decision opens the door for the remainder of affected people to vote, but a review by the entire court may change the decision because DDT has flipped the court to majority Republican. DDT’s Supreme Court could also overturn the ruling.

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), that leaker/liar to DDT, most recently who got Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire fired for allowing a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. Last year, Nunes filed a racketeering lawsuit against Fusion private investigation started by a GOP company to discredit DDT during his campaign. The judge not only refused the $9.9 million in damages but also indicated that he would sanction Nunes and his attorney if he pushed the lawsuit. Nunes claimed that he was a victim of “active, coordinated and ongoing corruption, fraud and obstruction of justice” in his efforts to investigate the firm’s role proving stoking DDT’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign. He is known for his litigious obsession.

In his budget, DDT has ghosted women to the point of making them invisible. Gone are programs for women in healthcare, family planning, and paid leave while making tax cuts for the wealthy and big business permanent. Almost 40 million women get their health coverage from childbirth and family planning to chronic disease and disability care from Medicaid, which is being erased.

Over half of all women—68 million—have preexisting conditions. These include six million pregnancies each year, considered by insurance companies as a “preexisting condition.” Women also have chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes at higher rates as well as cervical cancer. The budget also eliminates family planning funding for Planned Parenthood and an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program. DDT’s paid leave plan ignores 75 percent of workers needing paid leave for their own health issues, care for ill or injured family members, and a military family member’s deployment. Also missing are solutions for sick days for shorter-term illnesses such as flu or care for a sick child.

While reducing domestic spending, DDT increased nuclear weapons spending by 20 percent in both the Defense Department ($28.9 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration ($19.8 billion) to a total of $46 billion.

Some people said that the impeachment trial was a waste of time, but DDT’s legal team provided arguments for Democrats suing to obtain DDT’s tax returns. When they asked a judge to lift a stay on the lawsuit, they used statements from Jay Sekulow and Alan Dershowitz who refuted the position “that the House is constitutionally barred from obtaining judicial enforcement of its subpoenas.”

During the impeachment inquiry and trial, DDT’s GOP supporters consistently cited the media as support for their lies about investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Without using the name of John Solomon, Republicans sourced the misrepresentations using conflicts of interest for opinion pieces in the sometimes-credible conservative publication The Hill. After an investigation into Solomon’s work, The Hill has released an evaluation—too little, too late—of problems in Solomon’s supposedly journalistic work and the changes that they are making as attempts to return “to report the news in a nonpartisan and fair way.” The problem is that this action was not taken before GOP Senators unleashed DDT in a virulent purge of quality career employees throughout the government through an acquittal of his unconstitutional behavior. 

Solomon’s columns guided DDT into demanding investigations of the Bidens, and DDT’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted Solomon’s writings through Twitter. Fox’s Sean Hannity also promoted Solomon and his disinformation. Paul Farhi reported:

The Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, ‘facilitated’ by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.”

According to the evaluation of 14 Solomon columns and related videos, The Hill didn’t retract or apologize the articles. Solomon still contributes to Fox.

A U.S. jury awarded a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million for years of crop losses because of drifting dicamba weed killer, produced by Monsanto. The farm, which lost 30,000 trees, didn’t use the herbicide, but Monsanto sold GMO soybeans and cotton seeds to their neighbors without EPA approval. This was the first dicamba legal challenge to go to trial, but it will be followed by many others affected by a destructive and untested product. German chemicals company Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 and plans an appeal while fighting a multitude of lawsuits alleging that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer, 140 cases related to dicamba, safety risks from its Essure birth control device, and suits regarding PCB-contaminated waterways.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in trouble after she ignored her staff and kept open a for-profit “accredited” college with neither faculty nor students. Originally tied to the University of Northern Virginia, Reagan National University moved to Sioux Falls (SD) having “among the laxest rules for colleges in the country,” according to a report.

DDT’s BLM is empowering far-right ideological “constitutionalist” theories negating federal government power by allowing local sheriffs to ignore BLM regulations. The current acting director, William Perry Pendley, believes that the federal government has no right to own federal lands. The “constitutional” approach originated with the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic organizations of the 1970s and 1980s and later developed from a Mormon ideologue and the 1990s Militia of Montana and Montana Freemen.

Fans protested because Fox sports didn’t show DDT’s campaign speech last Sunday although it was on Fox “news.” Maybe the sports channel didn’t want to embarrass DDT by showing him following the words on his speech like a beginning reader. Once again DDT broke the law by using taxpayer resources for campaigning during his lap today at Daytona in the presidential limousine. And once again Republicans won’t care.

October 30, 2018

Voters: ‘Don’t Take the Bait’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came up with a new diversion today. He doesn’t want people to notice that the Republicans plan to get rid of pre-existing conditions on health plans and eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t want people to notice that the national debt is ballooning and the deficit is rapidly increasing because he is giving money to the wealthy and big business that he had promised to use for help to the other 80 percent. And he certainly doesn’t want people to know—right before the midterm elections—that they will suffer from his new policies. His strategy is to tell them that he is taking care of the non-existent immigration problem.

Today he told today that he plans to sign an executive order to overturn an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to strip people in the United States of their citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment that specifically stated that almost everyone born in the U.S. automatically becomes a citizen was to erase the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks are “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”

People are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. if they are bound by its laws. Removing citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants would make these children immune to U.S. law altogether: the federal government could not arrest, detain, or deport them.

A decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) gave a “limited exemption” that excluded children of members of Indian tribes, children born of alien enemies in hostile invasion and occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state—the latter two already exempted from citizenship by earlier law. Wong Kim Ark, a laborer, was born in the United States to “persons of Chinese descent, and subjects of the emperor of China.” The Supreme Court ruled that he was a citizen.

DDT’s appointee to the federal bench, Judge James Ho, may be the most conservative person to reach that position via DDT. His first judicial opinion ruled all campaign contribution limits unconstitutional, railed against the Affordable Care Act on an originalist basis, and laments—in his terms—the “moral tragedy of abortion.” Even this judge firmly from the lunatic fringe agrees with the 14th Amendment and not DDT. Or at least he did in 2011.

Even a racist Supreme Court rejected the idea over a century ago; the question is what the current GOP Supreme Court will do. Is allowing a president to arbitrarily overturn the constitution a bridge too far for Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans fought President Obama in any change of federal immigration law. That, however, may not block DDT’s power over immigration policy. They will probably agree with DDT that his position on citizenship is good campaign fodder.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is back to cozying up with his buddy DDT with his announcement that he will introduce a bill to replicate DDT’s executive order for ending birthright citizenship. Success for Graham requires two-thirds majorities in both congressional houses and ratification by three-fourths of the states. DDT has announced—wrongly, as usual—that an act of Congress can overturn the constitution and maybe even an executive order can accomplish that goal. Despite DDT’s lies, most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have forms of birthright citizenship.

VP Pence followed his claim that “we all cherish” the 14th Amendment by saying:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”

Axios, which tries to give the appearance of a mainstream internet media source, is in DDT’s pocket. That’s the reason that DDT gave Axios’ Jonathan Swan his press release about his new non-existent plan to change the constitution with an executive order. Like Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Swan passively nods to every crazy GOP idea designed to hurt people. DDT delivers his wacko message, and Swan says, “Exactly.” Swan did tell DDT that his plan is “very much in dispute.” No, it is completely unconstitutional. But Swan tweets:

“Excited to share with you the first snippet from our interview with President Trump yesterday, ahead of the launch of Axios’ HBO show this Sunday evening.”

For Swan, it’s all about the ratings through enabling DDT, not the horrifying possibilities of DDT’s plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged voters not to “take the bait.” She added:

“He’ll say anything before the election. Don’t take the bait. Focus on ending the hate. Hug a kid. Be nice to someone you don’t know or agree with. And vote. Please vote.”

Klobuchar is right about not being distracted and being sure to vote. DDT uses his craziness to club people over the head with his immigration distractions. At the same time, he encourages white supremacy throughout the United States and puts everyone of color into great danger. He promotes his racist hatred to incite violence and killing, to reinstate the white genocide of the 19th century in the United States and promoting the election of only Republicans who will protect no one except wealthy white people.

The FBI concluded a year ago that white nationalists are as threatening to the U.S. as ISIS and that the threat of white nationalists will only grow. White supremacists have carried out three times as many attacks in the United States as people associated with ISIS, but the government holds no congressional hearings on white nationalist attacks. For the first 20 months after his inauguration, DDT protected and supported white nationalists; this past month he moved forward to declare that he is one of them by calling himself a “nationalist.” DDT has affiliated himself with white supremacists to help them drive everyone of color out of the United States. He follows his belief that he can do anything he wants without losing any support.

DDT claims that his self-identification of “nationalist” isn’t racist, yet his speech excoriating people of color overcomes this false claim. He also claims that he has nothing to do with any of the increasing violence in the nation; people are just doing it on their own without attention to his words, according to DDT. If his words mean nothing, why does he keep talking? Why does he keep attacking women and people of color? Because he loves the control and knows that some of the people will follow his “dog-whistles” to commit violence in his name.

If you want to protect democracy, if you want to keep the United States from being an armed battleground where no one is safe either inside or outside homes, don’t be discouraged by the GOP voter suppression that tries to keep everyone except the Republican base from casting ballots.

Vote! (And the deadline is November 6, no matter what Republicans tell you.)

August 6, 2018

Feds on the Losing Side in Court

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is desperately trying to put himself above all laws, even appointing a nominee for the Supreme Court who believes a Republican president doesn’t have to go to court, but some of the recent lawsuits go against DDT’s wishes.

A huge win is a federal judge’s ruling that a lawsuit can move forward to determine whether DDT has broken the law against officials accepting emoluments from domestic and foreign governments. AGs from Maryland and Washington, D.C. maintain that DDT’s profit from his businesses such as his hotel and restaurant violates the constitutional clause that prevents any business transactions giving DDT a “profit, gain or advantage.” The judge agreed.

According to law professor John Mikhail, dictionaries published from 1604 to 1806 use a “broad definition” for emoluments, including “profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or benefit.” Mikhail added, “Over 92 percent of these dictionaries define ’emolument’ . . . with no reference to ‘office’ or ’employment.’” Thus the emoluments clause stops any benefit or profit to a president from any government whether in his capacity as president or in any other role, such as the owner of a hotel like the Trump International Hotel in Washington. DDT wants the emoluments clause to narrowly refer to compensation for official services, making it a bribery clause.

DDT desperately wants to stop the case because the legal discovery in the lawsuit allows extensive knowledge of his business and financial records, possibly his tax returns which he has kept secret.

A federal judge ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be fully restored. The judge wrote that DDT’s administration had again failed to justify closing down the program but delayed his ruling for 20 days for an appeal. The opinion stated that DDT’s decision “was arbitrary and capricious” with legal judgment that was “inadequately explained.” His full ruling shows more of his irritation with the government’s arguments. The judge appointed by George W. Bush is the third federal judge to reject DDT’s excuse for closing the program.

The 9th Circuit Court gave DDT a tiny win when it ruled that a judge can’t overrule DDT’s withholding federal funding for sanctuary regions for the entire nation and sent the case back to the lower court. The circuit court did declare that the order is unconstitutional for its nine states because it exceeded DDT’s authority because Congress is in charge of spending. In his order, DDT attempted to require local law enforcement to carry out federal responsibilities.

A federal judge invalidated the Federal Election Commission regulation permitting donors to “dark-money” groups, including 501(c)4 non-profits, to remain anonymous. The ruling may lead to requirements forcing nonprofits to disclose people who donate $200 or more toward influencing federal elections. The suit began when Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS didn’t disclose sources for the $6 million used to defeat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in 2012. The FEC has 45 days to issue interim regulations or appeal, but an appeal would require a unanimous vote from commissions—probably impossible.

In another donor issue, Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock is suing the IRS because of its new policy that politically active nonprofit groups don’t need to tell the IRS or other government entities about their major donors. Bullock maintains that the new guideline undermines nonprofit regulations and policing of illegal spending in political campaigns. According to the lawsuit, the government failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, the same law used for other suits regarding DDT’s executive orders. It evades the public comment mandate and rewrites policy by calling it a “revenue procedure.”

A judge refused a request from Michael Cohen’s lawyer to put a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to stop him from making public comments about Cohen. Avenatti has said that honoring that request could mean a judge might put a gag order on DDT. In connection with his lawsuit about DDT’s allegedly paying Stormy Daniels “hush money” before the 2016 presidential election, Avenatti said that he now represents three more women with the same claim.

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against DDT’s question about citizenship in the 2020 census can go forward because of evidence that the decision was driven by discrimination. He allowed DDT’s negative tweets and statements about immigrants, including the one about “shithole” countries. Plaintiffs from 28 states and a coalition of immigration rights groups allege that the question is designed to drive down census responses in immigrant communities.

A federal judge blocked Defense Distributed from releasing 3D printed gun plans online, and the case goes back to court on August 10. The 3D guns have no background checks or serial numbers and are illegal in the U.S. because they evade metal detection.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that new California gun safety laws are constitutional. One requires new models of semi-automatic handguns to have identifying information stamped on bullet casings. Another is a requirement to prevent accidental discharges of handguns, and a third bans concealed carry on school grounds.

An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on the state’s new voting law and returns the absentee early voting period to 40 days from the new law’s 29 days. The injunction also blocks some ID requirements on absentee ballots. Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is up for re-election, plans to immediately appeal the decision on legislation that he promoted.

A federal judge ruled that Florida’s college campuses can be used for early voting sites because the state’s ban is unconstitutional.

The 7th Circuit Court has ruled that a transgender woman denied hormone therapy while in custody may pursue her lawsuit, overturning a lower court decision that dismissed her case. Lisa Mitchell wasn’t assessed by Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections for over a year; clinicians then recommended the hormone therapy. Without any policy justification, she was still denied treatment because she was due to be released within a month, and parole officers, after her release, stopped her from any hormone therapy and forced her to dress and present like a man.

Four cities—Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Baltimore—filed a lawsuit against DDT and his cabinet for “waging a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify” the Affordable Care Act. The tipping point for the suit was DHHS’ decision to keep substandard health insurance plans for up to three years instead of three months. DDT earlier expanded association health plans not required to cover basic health benefits, eliminated the individual mandate, vastly reduced funds to advertise the ACA, and refused to defend the ACA in court, arguing that pre-existing conditions protection are unconstitutional. Part of the lawsuit’s justification are DDT’s claims that he will get “rid of Obamacare” by destroying it. Without the ACA, cities are forced to pay more for uninsured people. The “take care” clause of the ACA requires the president to ensure that the ACA is faithfully executed.

Last year, 18 states filed a lawsuit opposing DDT’s attempt to block federal cost-sharing subsidies to make the ACA affordable for low- and middle-income people. The case was dismissed, but 12 states filed a lawsuit last week against DDT’s expansion of association health plans. Yale University law professor Abbe Gluck said:

“No scholar or court has ever said the president can use his discretion to implement a statute to purposely destroy it. If there’s ever going to be a violation of the ‘take care’ clause, this is it.”

Nineteen attorneys general have joined California AG Xavier Becerra opposing DDT’s plans to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks through 2026, refuting the need to improve public health, combat climate change, and save consumers money. DDT will also try to revoke California’s legal waiver to set its own tailpipe restrictions granted under the 1970 Clean Air Act and restrict the dozen states from following California’s lead. His own administration refutes DDT’s “fake” information: an analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety and the EPA estimates a savings of $500 billion “societal costs,” thousands of fewer highway fatalities, and $2,340 lower cost on each new car. Officials at an internal EPA presentation warned that DDT’s proposal contained “a wide range of errors, use of outdated data, and unsupported assumptions.” Enthusiasm for DDT’s proposal, meant to bring the Koch brothers back onto his team, came only from the oil and gas industry.

Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who received an extremely light sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2016, is back in court asking for his conviction overturned. A lawyer claim to a panel of three judges that Turner only wanted “outercourse” and cannot be convicted of rape because it was a “version of safe sex” with no “penile contact.” Justice Franklin D. Elia said, “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about.” Witness reported that the victim’s dress was pulled up over her waist and she was not moving. At the time, Turner admitted to digitally penetrating her.

On the same day that Washington State AG Bob Ferguson joined other AGs to block posting 3D gun blueprint on the computer, he and three other AGs warned DDT against defunding Planned Parenthood. Ferguson’s 10-0 record of wins with only three that can be appealed. He called DDT’s administration “sloppy in how they do their work” and that it typically breaks federal laws. State AGs have worked together to file about 56 multistate lawsuits against DDT, almost as many as the 60 filed against President Obama in all eight years.

DDT’s rush to overturn every move by President Obama has been delayed not only by lack of quality but also by his bombastic public comments.  His incompetence may save the nation.

June 28, 2018

Lower Courts May Save Nation

The good news about losing a conservative Supreme Court justice, perhaps replaced by a super-conservative nominee from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is that the nation’s highest court hears only 1-2 percent of the appeals. Below are some victories from lower courts, despite conservative judges, a few losses, and upcoming cases.

The biggest win for the past week is the mandate that immigration stop separating children and parents and reunite families within the next month—children under six years old in 14 days and all children over five within 30 days. How the government does this is problematic because they have no idea who the parents of the kidnapped children are. Seventeen states and Washington, D.C. are also suing the government to reunite the families.

The Supreme Court may have avoided decisions on gerrymandering, but a panel of judges in a district court have ruled that racial discrimination against blacks was the predominant factor in drawing all 11 U.S. House districts in Virginia. The judges ordered the map to be withdrawn by October in time for the November election.

Paul Manafort, DDT’s former campaign manager, is losing in court big time. After, a federal judge sent Paul Manafort to jail after he allegedly tampered with witnesses while on house arrest, he lost his appeal to get his money-laundering charge dropped. The judge refuted his attempts to minimize lobbying for a foreign entity in the U.S. because he just failed to register when she pointed out that the law requires the public to know if someone is advancing “the interests of a foreign government or principal with the United States.”

Despite his doubts about Mueller’s motivation in investigating Manafort, another judge, one appointed by Reagan, ruled that Manafort’s prosecution on bank and tax fraud charges can go forward on July 25. The judge also found that the Manafort investigation is within the realm of potential collusion between DDT officials and Russia and that the deputy attorney general approved the inquiry. Manafort is accused of not paying taxes on illegally hidden millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts before he lied about his income and debt to get millions in new loans on real estate bought with his illegal income.

The National Enquirer’s publisher has been subpoenaed for records about the magazine’s $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal for a story about her affair with DDT that it refused to publish. The subpoena comes from an investigation into DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen for alleged wire fraud, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.

Cohen is in more trouble because of the evidence that the National Enquirer vetted articles and images about DDT with Cohen before these were published. More than a media ethics question, the issue deals with alleged hush-money payments to DDT’s accusers and witnesses of his scandals, such as a doorman, Dino Sajudin, who spoke about DDT’s illegitimate child in the 1980s.

Resigning as deputy finance chair of the RNC, Cohen said he’s thinking about cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. Wolf Blitzer said that Cohen feels “let down” and “isolated” by DDT, and Cohen also blasted DDT’s separation of migrant children from their parents. A Manhattan federal judge has also ruled that Cohen was a client instead of an attorney and that only eight—under 0.003 percent—of the almost 300,000 emails, texts, and documents would be exempted because they deal with a client.

Life got worse for Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a gubernatorial candidate, after a U.S. district judge censured him for “repeated and flagrant violations” of court procedures and ordered the former professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to take remedial classes in the form of six hours of continuing law education.

Despite the judicial ruling to stop a Kansas law, Kobach has ordered county clerks to continue demanding documentary proof of citizenship for voter registration. There is no timeline because “the word “‘immediately’ is kind of open to interpretation,” according to Kobach’s spokeswoman. The judge wrote that the law violated both the Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act.

Kobach unsuccessfully sought a governor’s pardon for a corporate campaign donor, Ryan Bader, whose crime, police said, involved threatening a cab driver by putting a gun to his head. Bader wants the pardon so that he can again guy and carry a gun. He claimed that the event was a mistake in his youth (he was 26 years old) and didn’t remember anything about it because he was drunk.

In yet another loss for Kobach, a judge ruled that commission documents must be given to a commissioner who sued over its lack of transparency. The judge commented “that Mr. Kobach’s reputation for candor to the tribunal and compliance with its orders is less than sterling.”

J. Christian Adams, a commissioner on DDT’s defunct voter fraud investigation led by Kobach, appeared before a federal judge to defend his falsehoods about the large number of non-citizens registering and voting in Virginia. The charge in the suit is that Adams defamed the character of registered voters by accusing them of illegal action. Adams’ report “Aliens Invasion,” unsupported by evidence, claims “1046 aliens who registered to vote illegally” and that “Each of the aliens we have discovered to have registered or voted has likely committed a felony.” His “Aliens Invasion II” falsely accuses the DOJ of doing “nothing about the felonies committed by 433 suspected aliens registered in Prince William County alone.”

The suspect accused in killing Heather Heyer and injuring several others in the Charlottesville (VA) white supremacist march last summer by intentionally striking them with a car has been indicted on 30 counts which include hate crimes resulting in death and bodily injury. The indicted man also faces state charges of first-degree murder and other crimes.

White supremacists plan to celebrate their rally when they killed a woman, injured others, and generally beat up people. The National Park Service has approved an initial request for its anniversary “Unite the Right” rally across from the White House on August 11-12. Charlottesville has already denied an application for its city in “Emancipation Park”, but the organizer is suing.  What can go wrong?

Indiana is being sued for restricting women’s access to abortions. The state’s new law also bans telemedicine. Students at the University of Notre Dame are suing the Indiana school and DDT after the university used religious objections to drop coverages for some types of birth control.

After civil rights groups sued Boston Public Schools for giving student information to ICE, its superintendent, Tommy Chang, has resigned with no reason. Federal law bans schools from asking students about their immigration status, but the lawsuit accuses the district of having a “school to deportation pipeline,” stating without evidence that a student was involved in a gang and giving that allegation to law enforcement, including ICE.

A possible lawsuit in waiting occurred after North Carolina’s General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of a “sore loser” bill that the state Board of Elections plans to enact retroactively. The new law states that candidates who lose in a primary cannot run in a general election with another party’s backing, specifically addressing three state candidates now represented by the conservative Constitution Party. Republicans fear that this candidate will split the conservative vote, helping the Democrat to win in the fall general election. The Constitution party selected its candidates and presented the names to the Board of Elections two days before the successful vote on the law. The U.S. Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, ones trying to make an act illegal that was legal when committed.

The General Assembly also restructured judicial election districts in four counties, forcing ten candidates already in the races to either withdraw or refile, with the GOP hopes that new judges would support GOP ideology.  The new law requires that ballots post the political affiliations of the candidates beside their names.

One loss for the people came when a judge tossed out a case against Big Oil that would have required them to pay for costs in adapting to climate change. The judge seemed sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ charge that oil companies have done great damage, but he decided for the companies because it would open out a number of other lawsuits that might put fossil fuel producers out of business. The plaintiffs’ lawyer was pleased “that these companies can no longer deny [climate change] is real and valid.”

Supreme Court rulings are coming back to haunt the rights of people. When Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion allowing unlimited donations to superpacs, it was with the provision that they stay separate from candidates’ campaigns. Now the FEC is okaying coordination allowing candidates to guide allied groups toward messaging by selective public statements about their campaign needs. The fake veil has been shredded.

May 29, 2018

Congress Decisions, Destructive or Failed

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) couldn’t even get a farm bill passed after 18 hardline far-right and 12 moderate GOP representatives sided with the Democrats to vote against it after a difference of opinion about immigrants. Conservatives also didn’t like the idea of “too much” funding for food stamps, and the Dems hated the drastic food stamp cuts. On the other hand, farmers and relatives could be eligible for up to $125,000 annually per person. Food stamps cost $125.41 per month.

DDT has signed a bank deregulation bill that puts the United States into almost the same lack of oversight that sent the nation into a recession at the end of George W. Bush’s two terms. The excuse is to help the economy, but, thanks to the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, Wall Street netted $56 billion in the first quarter of 2018. That’s the industry’s most profitable quarter in history. The new law allows banks to take irresponsible risks that can primarily hurt the bottom 90 percent. Supposedly the lack of regulations help small banks, but rules moved big banks into the “mid-sized” level (up to $250 billion in assets) permitting them to lower compliance costs, expand trading opportunities, substitute costly debts with deposits, and kick back more money to shareholders. Consumers have lost their protection. Lobby money paid off 33 Democrats as well as the Republicans who voted for the bill.

The Senate showed that it understands the disaster of FCC’s repeal to net neutrality by passing a bill in opposition with all 49 Democrats and GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John Kennedy (LA) voting for the bill. The House will ignore the bill, but it’s a start. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had to deal with the bill because supporters used the Congressional Review Act to force action with a simple majority vote. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pointed out that new net neutrality rules hurt “public schools, rural Americans, communities of color and small businesses” while protecting “large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price.”

Congress has failed to overturn requirements on payday lenders that protect borrowers from paying excessive interest on these short-term loans. Conservatives touted these loans as the way that poor people could save themselves from disaster, but a typical two-week payday loan had an annual percentage rage of 400 percent. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may still try to change the rules itself, but that requires public input. The rules required under a former CFPB administration don’t go into effect until August 2019.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) formally requested that Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) schedule a public hearing for Donald Trump Jr. because of evidence that Jr. gave “false testimony.” He told a congressional committee that foreigners did not “offer or provide assistance” to DDT’s campaign and did not seek any foreign assistance. Lying to Congress is a crime even if a person is not under oath. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley defended Jr. by saying that a different witness may have lied to the panel instead.

Crowdfunding (aka cyberbegging) has been used for-profit ventures as well as medical and legal expenses, travel, and community projects. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) wants to use crowdfunding to build DDT’s wall and has introduced a bill to “allow the secretary of the Treasury to accept public donations.” The bill also states that funds can be used “for other purposes” including a mile-long “commemorative display” to honor donors. During her announcement of the bill on Fox, host Farris Faulkner asked, “What happened to Mexico paying for it?” Black said that she didn’t know “what kind of pressure” DDT is putting on Mexico for funding. He is threatening to close the U.S. government if Congress doesn’t approve funding from taxpayers. USA Today has an interactive map of barriers to the wall.

John M. Gore, acting head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division has both refused to appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and refused to answer questions about his request for a citizenship question on the census, but under the leadership of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), GOP members refused to issue a subpoena to Gore with no reason. Two weeks ago, Tom Brunell, DDT’s choice for Census Director, said that the decision to add this question was based on politics. He said, “They have made a political decision. And they have every right to do that, because they won the election.”

Republicans believe in no regulations—unless they serve personal interests. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) declared he will stop banks from new rules on guns that restrict credit card and banking services to gun retailers and cease lending to gun manufacturers that fail to comply with the banks’ age limits and background checks. Bank of America will no longer lend money to companies that make the AR-15. Kennedy plans to file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—that doesn’t protect consumers because regulations have disappeared—and wants colleagues to write legislation that prevents banks from “discriminating” against gun buyers. Other GOP senators threatening banks for their rules regarding guns are Mike Crapo (ID) and Ted Cruz (TX). Michael Piwowar, a SEC commissioner whose term ends this year, told banks that they would have trouble getting GOP support for easing derivatives regulations.

Dumbest statement from a member of Congress this month? It’s hard to pick, but this one is good. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has never known to be that sharpest tool in the shed, but his reason for sea-level rise may top earlier comments. “Every time you have that soil or rock whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise. Because now you’ve got less space in those oceans because the bottom is moving up.” He looked over the fact that his solution would be accurate only if the top five inches of the 9.1 million square miles in the U.S. went into the ocean—every year. At least, he’s figured out that the seas are rising. He’s making progress.

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA), member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, dropped his run for a second House term and announced that he’s an alcoholic. Former staffers had accused Garrett and his wife of treating them like servants—carrying groceries, walking the dog, and even cleaning up after the animal’s waste when he forgot to take the dog home from his office. Chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, was ready to leave Garrett when he made the announcement. Garrett’s resignation makes the 44th GOP resignation from the House this year. He had no opposition in the June 12 primary; the House district RNC will select an opponent against a strong Democratic candidate in the November midterm election.

No matter what Congress does, its rating stays low. Among Republicans, the approval rating dropped from 50 percent when DDT was inaugurated to 22 percent this month. And the GOP is in control!

State-wise, felons are beginning to regain their voting rights after they leave prison. Louisiana has passed a bill, which will probably be signed into law, that gives voting rights to people on probation or parole if they have been out of prison for at least five years. In other states:

  • Alabama: thousands of felons were added to voter rolls following a law clarifying specific crimes that bar felons from voting.
  • New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) restored the first pardons giving the right to vote to over 24,086 parolees.
  • Virginia: Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) restored voting rights to over 155,000 convicted felons who completed their sentences.
  • Florida: A November ballot measure could restore voting rights to felons after they complete their prison sentences. (Florida is one of ten states where felons permanently lose their voting rights.)
  • Mississippi: Two pending federal suits seek automatic voting rights after the completion of the sentence.
  • New Jersey: Lawmakers are considering a measure allowing people in prison to vote, legal only in Maine and Vermont.

Republicans want to keep felons from voting from fear that they will vote against the GOP, but states have another method to keep white supremacy: eliminating all non-citizens from the census that determines the number of seats per state in Congress. Alabama has a lawsuit to exclude immigrants from the count, and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) are supporting that position. The 14th Amendment requiring the census states that congressional seats are designated on the basis of the number of “persons.” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Alabama’s AG Steve Marshall are using the argument that “persons” did not include undocumented people in the 18th and 19th centuries. Alabama may lose a congressional seat after the 2020 census. Missouri state legislators are considering a law that would base state legislative districts entirely on citizen population.

In all but six states, legislatures will be adjourned by the end of June. Next week, however, the Senate comes back to meet 12 weeks before midterms—less time for the House schedule. Both chambers disappear in August. We’ll see how much damage they can do in that time.

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