Nel's New Day

March 27, 2021

Georgia:   Republicans Opposed to ‘Cancel Culture” Decides to ‘Cancel Voting’

People who know nothing about the new voter-prevention law in Georgia are either hiding under a rock or watching Fox network. Passing legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in one day, state GOP legislators included a large number of provisions, all designed to destroy democracy and elect only Republicans. Yet they claim to try to prevent the non-existent fraud which could not be found by multiple investigations and court cases, many of them by Republicans.

The so-called “Election Integrity Act of 2021,” two pages long in addressing absentee votes, grew to 96 pages in the hour before the voting. Some provisions:

  • Allows state lawmakers to take over local election boards—meaning Republicans can eliminate votes they don’t like with their ability to certify results if Democrats win close race—something DDT failed to do in 2020.
  • Gives GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members to the State Election Board.
  • Removes the authority of Georgia’s secretary of state from any control over the election (because Brad Raffensperger wouldn’t find 11,000 for Dictator Donald Trump [DDT] to win the state.
  • Criminalizes photographing one’s own ballot.
  • Eases ability to challenge vote eligibility.
  • Prevents anyone from giving even water to people standing in voting lines even if they are forced to be outside for up to ten hours before casting their votes.
  • Blocks counties from having almost all ballot drop boxes during early voting, allowing them only inside early voting locations during business hours.
  • Removes drop boxes during last four days before an election, a time when mail-in ballots are most likely not receive in time.
  • Disqualifies provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. 
  • Makes counties responsible for deciding Sunday voting but permitted only twice.
  • Moves runoffs to four weeks after general elections with early voting reduced to one week.
  • Eliminates mobile voting vans to alleviate long lines in heavily Democratic Fulton County.
  • Sets up hotline to report election activities in the attorney general’s office.
  • Mandates certification of votes within six days instead of ten days.
  • Requires election voters to count ballots without stopping until they finish.

The only piece missing in the final bill was ending no-excuse absentee voting, a system allowing Republicans to win the elections until the past few months, but the stricter requirements for voter ID with these ballots again creates more problems for minorities and low-income people. Absentee ballots will be verified based on driver’s license numbers or other documentation instead of voter signatures. The law did reduce the time in which voters can request an absentee ballot to 11 days before Election Day and complicated the request process.

The Georgia legislature now permits the kind of voter fraud DDT demanded. In addition to begging Raffensperger for enough votes to win, he earlier asked Raffensperger’s lead investigator, Frances Watson, to find fraud in specific counties, promising she would “be praised” by finding “the right answer.” The GOP search for voter fraud was investigated only in states where President Joe Biden won. DDT pushed Watson to keep looking for votes in his favor until January 6, 2021, when Congress certified the presidency for Biden.

Georgia made more history when state troopers handcuffed state Rep. Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) and charged her with a felony for knocking on the governor’s door while he signed the law in the midst of six other white men. (Right: Cannon – Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Biden called the law an “atrocity” and said the DOJ is taking a look at it. He added:

“If you want any indication that it has nothing to do with fairness, nothing to do with decency—they passed a law saying you can’t provide water for people standing in line while they’re waiting to vote.”

The law directly attacks Black voters.They are more likely to vote remotely and less likely to have the required identification for an absentee vote, formerly allowed through signature-matching. Over 200,000 Georgia voters have no driver’s license or state ID number. The average wait time to vote in Black communities is also far more than in predominantly White communities.

Groups immediately began to file lawsuits against the new law, calling it an effort to impose “unconstitutional burdens on the right to vote.”

Historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote: 

“The United States defeated the Confederacy, outlawed human enslavement except as punishment for crime, declared Black Americans citizens, and in 1867, with the Military Reconstruction Act, began to establish impartial suffrage. The Military Reconstruction Act, wrote Maine politician James G. Blaine in 1893, ‘changed the political history of the United States.’

“Today, as I looked at the photograph of Governor Kemp signing that bill, I wondered just how much.”

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is responsible for the draconian voting law in Georgia and probably other states. Eight years ago, he authored the majority opinion of 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder which trashed the Voting Rights Act protecting voting procedures from discrimination. Roberts wrote, “Things have changed dramatically [in the South].” He may be right—the South may be able to make discrimination against Democratic voters much worse.

Georgia’s new law is one of 253 measures in 43 states designed to keep the GOP in complete control no matter what. With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WY) determined to refuse any bills not supported by Republicans, H.R. 1, For the People Act, won’t be able to defend democracy through people’s right to vote.

Journalist Bonnie Kristian points out that a conservative (a real one!) should oppose Georgia’s law. Her definition of conservative is “someone who wants to preserve tradition and institutional stability, to thicken the thin veil that separates our society from chaos.” She quotes psychologist Jonathan Haidt as conservatives have five moral values: Harm/Care; Fairness/Reciprocity; In-Group/Loyalty; Authority/Respect; and Purity/Sanctity. Liberals have only the first two—care and fairness—because they value diversity over in-group loyalty and question authority and traditional notions of social and sexual purity. Georgia’s law fails in-group loyalty in self-governance, lying about trying to stop voter fraud; authority, by diminishing moral authority necessary in popular government; and fairness, the law being a dishonorable act. It is “shameless, disgraceful, a poor loser’s move … changing the rules of the game instead of putting in the work to win it as-is or accepting victory isn’t possible.” Now, someone needs to explain this position to the “conservatives.”

Republicans are working hard to get the subject back to what they see as Biden’s failure of immigration at the southern border. Toward that end, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took 17 friends, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in armored patrol boats along the Rio Grande for a midnight visit to prove abuse of migrant children. They were also looking for human traffickers taunting border agents across the “open border” and, hopefully, chaos and lawlessness. All they could say was that VP Kamala Harris, now in charge of the immigration situation, should come down to the border as well instead of working on a solution.  

As a British newspaper describes, the 18 mostly White, male Republicans left “Anzalduas Park Mission, on four Texas Highway Patrol power boats, bristling with machine guns, and armed officers.” A woman said she had been birdwatching in the same location where the tour created a false danger with “fancy camo gear and [a] ride in boats with guns,” according to writer Annie Hartnett. Asked about the U.S. being a nation of immigrants, Cruz bragged about his father coming to the county in 1957. Graham bailed him out by telling journalists they should talk to border patrol officers instead of politicians. Sister Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, said DDT’s promise to build a border wall caused a jump in crossings.

Next time, Cruz and his far-right colleagues might want to get protection from the birdwatchers. And they aren’t getting the focus off voting rights.

December 25, 2020

End of 2020: Light from the Dark

On Christmas Day, we should have good news. Here are pieces from the past few weeks.

President-elect Joe Biden has slowed down in making appointments the past week but found a highly qualified replacement for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Connecticut’s commission of public schools Miguel Cardona moved from assistant superintendent in a district of 9,000 students to this appointment in fewer than two years. Born to Puerto Rican parents living in public housing, he first taught fourth-graders before he became the state’s youngest principal at age 28. In 2012, he was named the state’s principal of the year. Billionaire DeVos was educated in private schools, never taught, and focused on giving all her budget to private, preferably religious, schools. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called him a “very, very solid” candidate.

Cardona’s background includes working to provide technology while pushing to reopen schools during the pandemic. His concern on equity issues led Connecticut to become the first state to require high school courses in Black and Latino studies under his tenure. Biden wants to triple the $15 billion Title I funds supporting high-poverty schools and double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, and social workers in schools, provide new money for school infrastructure, and increase federal spending for special education. He also proposed forgiving college debt and making community college free.

California’s governor Gavin Newsom has selected his secretary of state Alex Padilla to replace VP-elect Kamala Harris, making him the state’s first Latino senator from California. The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla went to MIT, the LA City Council, and the state senate, before his current job. He and Sen.-elect Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) will join four other Latinos in the Senate. With Harris gone, the chamber has no Black woman, but in 26 days the U.S. will have a Black and Indian woman.

The Georgia runoff for two incumbent GOP senators heated up on the day after the general election in early November—court cases to suppress the vote and massive lies from the conservatives. A federal judge agreed on a settlement between civil rights groups and the postal service for measures to guarantee absentee ballots arrive in time for the January 5 election deadline. Georgia postal facilities are required to regularly sweep for undelivered ballots until the election and use expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots, and the plaintiffs agreed to not ask the Washington, D.C. circuit court for any other orders in their cases until after the elections. First class postal service during the past month has suffered serious delays because of Postmaster Louis DeJoy’s attempts, supported by DDT’s DOJ, to dismantle the promptness of delivery services.

A Fulton County judge rejection of a lawsuit permits voters to continuing using drop boxes 24 hours a day until polls close in Georgia on January 6. The county, generally voting Democratic, has a population of over one million. The State Election Board approved the disputed rule earlier this year. Republicans also lost their cases to stop the use of drop boxes, block early processing of mail ballots, and institute stricter signature verification procedures. Plaintiffs were barred from filing new lawsuits, but they can still appeal. Another trauma for Republicans comes from the 76,000 new registrations, 57 percent of them under the age of 35.

Another lawsuit, also rejected by a federal judge, would have removed the ballots of new Georgia residents from the senator runoff in a misreading of the federal Voting Rights Act. That was followed by a demand to the removal of Dominion software and equipment from use in the Georgia election. Conspiracy theorists also claim people are racing to Georgia to vote Democratic.

Over 1.4 million people in Georgia, 132,000 more than in the recent general election, have submitted applications for absentee ballots, down only 4 percent from the number of mail ballot applications at this point in the run-up to the general election. The deadline for requests is January 1. On the first day of early voting, the 168,000 voters had a 27-percent greater turnout than for the first day of the presidential election. Since early voting began on December 14, 2020, 1.3 million people have voted in person, and another 721,000 absentee ballots have also been received. About 5 million people in Georgia voted in November.

DDT has attacked the U.S. people with over 60 lawsuits to disenfranchise their votes, but litigation is now directed at him, for example one accusing him and the GOP of conspiring to violate Black voters’ rights. The case goes beyond a cease and desist; it asks DDT and the RNC to obtain court approval before demanding accounts or other “post-election activities.” A federal judge order barring the RNC from “ballot security” activities was lifted only three years ago after in effect for 36 years. Claims of intimidation, threats, and voter disenfranchisement came from voter roll purges and payment to police officers for patrolling sites in primarily Black and Latino areas. The new lawsuit, under the auspices of the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act, charges the defendants of purposefully focusing voter challenges on cities with large Black populations.

Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, companies making election voting equipment, also threaten defamation charges against DDT’s attorney Sidney Powell and conservative media outlets, demanding retractions of false claims in rigging the election. Fox, Newsmax, and OAN already played the video refuting the fraud. DDT’s campaign told staffers to preserve documents in preparation for a lawsuit. Dominion’s lawyer, Tom Clare, won a $1 million verdict in a defamation lawsuit after Rolling Stone alleged gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. The case was finally settled out of court.

Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems, in hiding after receiving death threats, is suing not only the lawyers but also the conservative networks and pundits along with evangelical radio host Eric Metaxas for “relentless defamation and ongoing threats.” Another defendant, Joseph Oltmann, founded a nonprofit and media business to uncover Antifa activists and also impugned Coomer. He has been branded a traitor to the U.S. a terrorist, and a criminal of the highest order.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel announced her office will file bar complaints against Powell, DDT’s campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and other lawyers who attacked state and local election officials as well as attempted to disenfranchise voters and overturn the election. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) also plans to file complaints against Giuliani and the other lawyers representing DDT and the GOP.

An attorney opposing one of DDT’s election fraud cases has also filed for sanctions against DDT’s lawyers.

Federal judges can sanction lawyers filing cases “for any improper purpose, such as to harass” or who press “frivolous” claims. They repeatedly called out Powell for failing to follow court rules and rejected her efforts to overturn Biden’s win. Attorneys’ ethics rules include similar language prohibiting lawyers from abusing the legal system and bringing frivolous claims.

Maricopa County (AZ) supervisors refuse to comply with subpoenas from the state Senate Judiciary Committee for over 2 million ballots cast in the November election.

A Delaware Superior Court judge threatened to revoke Lin Wood’s legal representation of DDT’s former adviser Carter Page because Wood’s Georgia suit had “no basis in fact or law” and his Wisconsin suit had “multiple deficiencies.” Page is suing Yahoo! News and Huffpost for defamation.  

Among DDT’s chaos in the past week, Robert E. Lee’s statue has been removed from the nation’s capitol. Virginia chose the traitor as one of its two designated monuments in the federal Statuary Hall over a century ago. He led the failed Confederate army during the Civil War and lost his plantation, now Arlington Cemetery. According to Virginia’s commission, a statue of Barbara Johns may replace Lee. In 1951, Johns, 16 years old at the time, led a two-week walkout protesting substandard educational conditions at her segregated all-Black high school. The following litigation became part of Brown v. Board of Education in which the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. Virginia’s General Assembly needs to approve the commission’s decision. Mississippi has yet to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis, treasonous Confederate president, and Georgia still has treasonous Confederate vice-president Alexander Stephens. At least six other treasonous Confederates are also honored in Statutory Hall.

A split Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled police must have probable cause for a crime to conduct warrantless searches in the state. Of the 2,000 searches a month, 80 percent have been on Black drivers, but police found contraband only 12 percent of the time.  

A Fairfax County (VA) judge ruled the portraits of White judges must be removed for a Black defendant’s proceedings because he cannot get a fair trial from the implied bias.  

The conservative Gallup poll finds that DDT’s approval rating has dropped seven points since the election to 39 percent. Congress gets 15 percent approval. By contrast, Biden’s approval rating at 65 percent is 27 points higher than DDT’s rating at his inauguration in 2016. He never reached higher than 49 percent approval during his four years and averaged 39 percent over the four years.  

November 7, 2020

DDT Golfs, Rants; Biden Goes to Work

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Today, the media announced Joe Biden as president-elect, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) played golf. Thus far, Biden reached 290 Electoral College votes with the extra 20 from Pennsylvania; Georgia leans toward Biden, and North Carolina toward DDT. Loser DDT scheduled few official activities since he spent unknown millions of taxpayer dollars campaigning throughout the country after he wasted his $1.1 billion of campaign donations.

Tonight VP-elect Kamala Harris set the tone for Biden’s presidency by saying “You chose hope, unity, science, and yes, truth.” Biden’s following speech gave the same uplifting messages with encouraging emphases on unity, family, recovery from COVID-19, a good economy, and diversity. Instead of DDT’s promises to support only his supporters and hatefully retaliate against everyone else, Biden said he would be a president for everyone.

With only 74 days left to damage the United States, DDT started by firing people for insufficient “loyalty,” starting with Bonnie Glick, Senate-confirmed deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development to cripple the $31 billion agency during the pandemic and presidential transition. Her replacement for acting deputy is John Barsa, on his last legal day as USAID acting administrator. Mark Green, who quit in April, was never permanently replaced for Barsa’s former job of Assistant Administrator for Latin America. Others are Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. He also intends to dump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, CIA Secretary Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

The White House polished off its losing week in the 2020 general election with another outbreak of COVID-19 of at least five aides, including Mark Meadows, DDT’s chief of staff, and Nick Trainer, election numbers cruncher. No one knows when Meadows tested positive because he told people not to tell anyone about it. He was with DDT on Air Force One for the 13-state campaign swing last Sunday and Monday and mingled with the 150 aides, family members, donors, and allies at the White House when DDT appeared in the dead of night to falsely declare he had won the election. Meadows told DDT he could win if he lied about voter fraud. Also arguing against mask-wearing and social distancing, Meadows said, “We’re not going to control the pandemic” on CNN’s State of the Union.

Satisfied with his reelection, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has gone back to nefarious methods of keeping DDT in the Oval Office. With no evidence, Graham said the “allegations of wrongdoing” in Pennsylvania “are earth shattering.” The plot is convincing Republican state legislators to name representatives to the Electoral College who will vote for DDT instead of permitting these people to be chosen by the voters in the states. Far-right radio host sent out this call:

“REMINDER TO THE REPUBLICAN STATE LEGISLATURES, YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY OVER THE CHOOSING OF ELECTORS, NOT ANY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, SECRETARY OF STATE, GOVERNOR, OR EVEN COURT. YOU HAVE THE FINAL SAY—ARTICLE II OF THE FED CONSTITUTION. SO, GET READY TO DO YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY.”

According to legal authorities Lawrence Lessig and Jason Harrow, the Supreme Court has already ruled against this plan. The spokesperson for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman reported declared the legislature will not be overriding the popular vote.

Steve Bannon, once DDT’s chief adviser and now indicted for defrauding “build the wall” donors, has lost his prominent lawyer after Bannon called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Bannon said he wants to put their “heads on pikes … at the two corners of the White House.” Twitter has also permanently banned him for posting a video of his statements, and YouTube removed his remarks.

The White House is going in three directions: (1) Aides are raging as they try to control DDT’s constant declaration of winning in the face of loss; (2) Meadows denies the possibility DDT can lose—and he’s sick; and (3) Other aides are out looking for jobs in an hostile environment.

The Fox network has supposedly told its “talent” to “stay away” from referring to Biden as the president-elect. Instead, they should talk about all DDT’s lawsuits contesting election results. The memo supposedly said the “votes must be certified” before Biden becomes “President-Elect” although the network used the term for DDT the day after the election. Fox denied the accusation, but CNN isn’t backing down. DDT and his aides “erupted at the news” after Fox called Arizona for Biden, but Rupert Murdoch refused to back down after he received a call to change the reporting. Over 500,000 Australians signed the petition to parliament complaining about Murdoch controlling 70 percent of newspaper circulation.

Yesterday, DDT tweeted a demand for the U.S. Supreme Court to discard 648,301 votes in Philadelphia with the allegation poll watchers could not monitor the counting. Some of his lying claims—including Republicans losing “zero races” in the House.They already lost 212 races with more pending. 

In Georgia, a man counting votes was forced into hiding after a video of him supposedly throwing away a ballot was on Facebook. The discarded item was actually a set of instructions. Another false Facebook post states ballots will be disqualified in Halton City if the poll worker writes on it. Texas law requires the poll worker to sign a ballot for authentication. And the lies go on.

On the Sunday before Election Day, DDT scrapped HealthCare.gov, the website access point for the Affordable Care Act, in Georgia. Residents must get their ACA health insurance through brokers or private websites also selling noncompliant coverage. CMS Administer Seema Verma lied about the website having “fewer options and skyrocketing premiums”; Georgia’s current uninsured rate dropped five points since the inception of ACA in 2013, and over 430,000 Georgians get health insurance through HealthCare.gov, mostly with premium subsidies. The state’s uninsured rate would be lower if the GOP had expanded Medicare for 240,000 people. Analysis shows the 25 percent of Georgia’s ACA employees, 50,000 people, who re-enroll in the same plan year after year will be forced to find new insurance. Georgia mandates work hours for health insurance in a recession with high unemployment and requires more money from state taxes while state budgets are severely strained.

The next day, DDT announced the 1776 Commission mandating “patriotic education at Federal sites,” places which already teach U.S. history. His executive order, however, wants his version of history to avoid the country’s racism. It also reiterates his establishment of the “National Garden of American Heroes,” including Audie Murphy which represent his version of heroes. To DDT, history is all about monuments. DDT’s order duplicates his attacks on critical race theory and the New York Times’ 1619 Project addressing slavery and contributions of Blacks. The project’s financial support comes from the under-funded Department of Education.

A president can revoke or change executive orders at any time. President-Elect Joe Biden is reviewing all DDT’s orders and planning to reverse some of them—the withdrawals from the Paris Climate agreement and the World Health Organization, repeal of almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and reinstatement of the DACA program, for example. Biden’s top advisers He has hundreds of transition officials preparing to work in federal agencies. On Monday, he plans to establish a coronavirus task force co-chaired by former surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy and David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. Executive orders may become important to Biden if Mitch McConnell (R-KY) remains in charge of the Senate; as he did with President Obama, McConnell plans to block anything Biden wants to do, even confirming Cabinet members.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) summarized Biden’s initial agenda:

“Get us out of this pandemic that’s been made far worse by Trump’s bungled mishandling of it, rebuild our economy in a way that’s more sustainable and more inclusive, and deal with division and inequality.”

Biden’s first step is for DDT’s appointee as head of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, to rule election results are final. Biden will take legal action if the decision is delayed. DDT still claims he won the election because of “illegal ballots.” Murphy plans to continue limiting access to government resources for the transition team as long as possible. DDT is now complaining about the bad transition when he moved to the Oval Office, but he threw away all the resources the Obama administration gave him.

Early in DDT’s term, people wrote letters about his sacrifice to take only $400,000 a year salary and give up his business. He never gave up his business, and Forbes estimates he made $1.9 billion from 2017 to 2019. And paid only $750 tax for each of two years. Details here.

Three days after Trump supporters claim COVID-19 ends on November 4: November 5 – November 5: 118,204 new cases and 1,125 deaths; November 6 – 132,540 new cases and 1,248 deaths;  November 7 – 124,232 new cases and 1,031 deaths.

November 4, 2020

Election Day Filled with Intimidation, Finishes with DDT’s Demented Speech

November 3, 2020 was Election Day, and a tired and weak-sounding Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went on state-controlled Fox television to whine. After talking about how “mean” his ex-friends are to him, he said “by far the most difficult country to deal with is the U.S.,” much worse than Russia or North Korea.

Election Day 2020 decides whether people want the U.S. to be a complete dictatorship or a democracy. On this date four years ago, the United States still hoped to elect Hillary Clinton although then-FBI Director James Comey dropped her polling with his email-release “October surprise.” Four years later, the majority of people in the U.S. hope for an end to the petty, selfish, “me-first” toddler behavior from the Oval Office. 

My home state of Oregon, which knows how to conduct complete vote-by-mail, settled the vote within a few minutes after the deadline for ballots to be received. I lost some of my preferred candidates, but Shemia Fagan won the Secretary of State, second to the governor and in charge of electoral issues. Her opposition destroyed her business’s documents after financially defrauding the state, and I wondered if she would do the same with ballots of the opposite party. 

Throughout Election Day, GOP and Democratic groups avidly watched the counting of ballots. The GOP leader, Mike Roman, began his reputation in 1993 by persuading a judge to throw out hundreds of mail-in ballots to seat his candidate, Bruce Marks, in the Pennsylvania State Senate after the Democratic candidate received more votes. As DDT railed against vote-by-mail, he focused only on that state, ignoring the other 80+ percent of states also using the same method. Roman ran GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch’s political network intelligence unit. With volunteers from DDT’s “Army for Trump” website, Roman collected 50,000 supporters plus paid full-time staff in only 11 battleground states. Marks made his legal career representing wealthy Ukrainian and Russian clients.

GOP intimidation continued throughout the day. Robocalls in heavily Democratic Flint (MI) told people to wait until Wednesday—the day after Election Day—to vote because the lines will be shorter. This message is like last year’s scam when robocalls told people that Republicans should vote on Tuesday (Election Day) and Democrats on Wednesday (the day after Election Day). Once again Republicans figure they can’t win if they don’t cheat. Residents in Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Carolina received threatening robocalls telling them to “stay safe and stay home,” and other robocalls in Michigan also told people about “ballot sensor issues.”  

Again, DDT’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany violated the Hatch Act, like many of DDT’s “loyalists,” by politicking for her boss on Fox network. She told the hosts of Fox & Friend that “Democrat [sic] cities” will “send The Left out to attack you” if “you don’t choose The Left’s chosen candidate.” McEnany argued “the left should not be given federal power” and then called for “democracy,” which DDT hates. She made her comments after DDT repeatedly praised a group of his supporters, who he called “patriots,” for attempting to run Biden supporters off an interstate in Texas.

Earlier, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) dropped any pretense of appearing ethical when he introduced DDT at a Florida rally. About the violence from DDT supporters in Texas, he said, “We love what they did.” He continued, “We do that in Florida every day. Fox News host Jeanine Pirro described the violence as “ordinary Americans just taking this election into their own hands.”

Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp seemingly rigged the computers in the past, had to resort to paper ballots after the computers broke—again. A poll worker said the scanners were locked and election workers couldn’t get into the machines. The county said it wouldn’t extend voting hours without a court order. The problem was finally diagnosed as faulty loading of information, and the court did extend voting hours to 11:00 pm. The state also delayed delivery of voting equipment to Democratic areas such as Fulton County, the center of Atlanta. Two years ago, Georgia didn’t provide power cords for voting machines and locked up 2,000 voting machines so they weren’t available to areas with high Democratic turnout.

Through social media, Trump supporters openly planned to drive their caravans of vehicles at polling sites, potentially causing problems with election security and violent confrontations despite laws in some states against campaigning on or near polls. Referring to slowly driving around the parking lot of a voting center in Maryland, one organizer said, “There’s nobody that can stop us.” At least 18 of the event organizers reportedly support conspiracy-ridden QAnon. Targeting racially diverse areas, one group of Trump supporters yelled racial slurs at children in Marin City (CA) and another provoked an alteration with residents in Fort Worth (TX). A caravan blocked access to a Temecula (CA) voting center, and a Louisville (KY) Trump supporter directed traffic with a gun at a high school. That’s McEnany’s “democracy.

DDT’s new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, failed to follow a court order to search for and deliver ballots, blocking at least 300,000 of them from arriving at election offices.

Sunday night, DDT told a Michigan audience his son Barron recovered from COVID-19 in 12 seconds. He said that proves children should immediately go back to school. Last week, over 61,000 children contacted coronavirus, 11 percent of all the COVID-19 cases. Some people thought he might have been sedated because of his incomprehensible comments:

“They said, ‘Sir, Barron … just tested positive.’ I said , ‘Tested positive for what?’ “For Corona.’ See, I like the China virus. Or I like the plague from China, but a lot of people use it like it sounds like an island in Italy. I said it’s not Corona. But, ‘Just tested positive for Corona.’ I said, ‘Wow, I don’t like that. That’s not good.’ Barron, you know he’s strong, very tall, he’s only 14-years-old, but he’s very tall. … And he’s a good boy, but he just tested positive. And I said, ‘Wow.’ Then about 12 minutes later I see the doctor. ‘Doctor, how’s Barron doing?’ “Oh, it’s okay, he’s fine now. Took him about 12 seconds to get rid of it.’ Because they’re young and they have a strong immune system. He got better like so fast. You know what I say? Let the kids go to school.”

Allan Nairn wrote, “The Republicans are working harder to stop votes from being cast and counted than they are to stop the spread of the deadly virus Covid-19.” On Election Day, 94,463 people in the U.S. were newly infected, and 1,199 more people died from COVID-19.

From the glorious blog of Margaret and Helen comes this advice—too late for Election Day but still worth pondering:

“It’s unimaginable. Forty percent of Americans are ok with hating the other 60% of their fellow Americans because Trump told them to be afraid. Forty percent of Americans are fine having a President who has 26 credible accusations of sexual assault and bragged about it on video. Forty percent of Americans watched an adult make fun of a disabled person and 4 years later they want more of that. Forty percent of Americans gladly gave up their confederate flags and white hoods and replaced them with a Trump flag and a red MAGA hat. Forty percent of Americans can kiss my ass.

“We are supposed to be better than this. We are supposed to be Americans first and political foes second. Under any other Presidency we would all be wearing masks because Americans have always taken care of Americans in times of crisis. We have our flaws, but we’ve always come together when we had to. But under this guy, under Trump, we couldn’t’ even come together to fight a global pandemic. Wearing a mask is just too much to ask. Grandparents have lived long enough evidently because wearing a mask to protect them was just too much of an inconvenience. You have asthma. Heart disease. Cancer. An unknown health risk. Screw all of you because that mask is uncomfortable.

“Is this who you want to be America? Is this as good as it gets? This idiot? This thin, orange skinned, balding sex offender? Margaret and I hope not. We both married and have now buried veterans who fought for this country. In their honor and in their memory, we implore you. Vote. Him.Out.”

In the ultimate intimidation, DDT came out with his family at 2:20 am EST to address 150 maskless political guests in the White House, telling them that he already won the election, calling wins in states where a large number of ballots have not been counted. He wants “all voting to stop,” perhaps meaning “counting” because “voting” stopped hours ago. Except in Arizona where he hoped to win. At the time of his speech, DDT was behind in both the number of electoral college votes (221-213) and the popular vote (65,876,111-64,300,836), leaving 104 electoral college votes in play. After DDT’s speech, Joe Biden picked up another 11 Electoral College votes by winning Arizona. DDT incoherently said, “What happens to the election? It’s off. They’ll take us to court.” He followed that by saying he’s going to the Supreme Court, presumably to block any more counting of ballots. Let the games begin—or continue.

 

 

November 2, 2020

Election Day: More Chaos?

News surrounding Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who says, “I love chaos!”

Not everyone loves DDT’s instability. Almost two-thirds of respondents to a survey prefer Joe Biden’s lower-key campaigning approach, and nearly 60 percent disapprove of DDT’s superspreader rallies during the pandemic. DDT’s rallies haven’t helped his low standing in the polls with Biden: DDT’s down in national polls by 8.4 percent. A Stanford study has linked 30,000 infections and 700 deaths directly to his rallies like this one in rural Goodyear (AZ) where thousands of people, mostly without masks, clustered closely together.   

A federal judge upheld Texas Supreme Court’s refusal to eliminate almost 127,000 ballots from Harris County, home to Houston, cast in drive-thru voting sites, about ten percent of ballots thus far. In answer to the GOP request, the George W. Bush-appointed judge said, “Why am I just getting this case?” and pointed out the tents for people safely voting during the pandemic “has been going on all summer,” referring to the primary. Texas Republicans maintained the tents used for voting were not “buildings,” as indicated in the law, but some of the drive-through locations were in parking garages. DDT nominated six of the 16 members of the 5th Circuit Court, the next stop after this ruling. He must expect to lose the election because he said, “We’re going in with our lawyers.”

A Nevada judge also refused to stop early vote counting in Clark County, including Las Vegas.

Younger voters support Joe Biden by 63 percent and DDT by 25 percent.  In three key swing states—Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina—voters under 29 have cast a combined 607,907 early votes, compared to 76,829 ballots from the same age group at the same time in 2016, the year DDT won Michigan by only 10,704 votes.  

To support the Supreme Court decision disenfranchising Wisconsin voters, Justice Brett Kavanaugh used a quote—out of context—from an article by Richard Pildes. Kavanaugh said election results must be “announced” by the end of Election Day. Pildes wrote about the error of Kavanaugh’s statement:

“States are not required to certify their results by Dec. 8th, the safe-harbor date. It is wrong to report that States ‘must’ certify their results by this date. The Dec. 8th date in federal law is an offer, not a requirement: If a State certifies by then, federal law says Congress will then ‘conclusive[ly]’ presume that slate to be valid. But States are free to certify their results after Dec. 8th. The Electoral College does not vote until Dec. 14th. If a State submits a single slate, even after the safe harbor date, Congress is to accept that slate unless both chambers — in the newly elected Congress — vote to reject it.”

With the end of casting ballots tomorrow, DDT’s “October surprise” seems to have been the fake laptops allegedly left by Joe Biden’s son Hunter for a blind computer shop owner to repair. Vladimir Putin may think he has to deal with Joe Biden: the Russian president said he didn’t see “anything criminal” about Hunter Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. Putin said:

“[Hunter Biden] had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this.”

A Fox News investigation also “found no role for Joe Biden” in the business dealing of his son, Hunter.

In an act of integrity, DDT’s appointee to chair the Federal Salary Council overseeing federal pay resigned in protest over DDT’s order allowing him to fire federal workers without justification to demand loyalty. Ron Sanders wrote:

“As a matter of conscience, I can no longer serve him or his administration.”

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows may be in trouble: FEC reported he illegally spent over $74,000 from his campaign and leadership PAC for personal expenses—groceries, cell phone bill, a Washington jeweler, lodging at DDT’s hotels, etc.—after he announced he wouldn’t rerun for his congressional seat. Details are here. Former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has been convicted for this type of illegal expenditures.  

The FEC, dominated by Republicans, has flagged four GOP senatorial candidates, three of them incumbents, for excessive donations with incomplete information. Lindsey Graham (SC) Lindsey Graham (SC) tops the list with $6 million in donations, followed by Martha McSally (AZ), John James running against Michigan’s Gary Peters, and Mitch McConnell (KY). In 2019, McSally was fined $23,000, a small amount, for the same problem during her 2014 congressional run.  

Concerns have been raised about the impartiality of FEC’s top commissioner, Debbie Chacona, because of her political support for DDT and her close ties to his 2016 campaign attorney Don McGahn. Her job is leading the defense against illegal cash donations for political campaigns, but she signed off on shady donations for DDT’s inaugural committee after her Facebook photo of her family surrounding a “Make America Great Again” sign at DDT’s January 2017 inauguration. She also posted a faked photo of a large crowd at DDT’s inauguration labeled the “real picture.” The inaugural committee listed names of donors whose addresses don’t exist in public records, spent large amounts on DDT’s properties, and had illegal contributions from foreign nationals. Chacona emailed McGahn for advice about campaign finance law and regulation as well as making derogatory exchanges about Democratic FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub and leading advocate for campaign finance reform Fred Wertheimer.

A large number of respected bipartisan professional and government groups have endorsed Biden for president including 20 U.S. attorneys, appointed and working in GOP administrations back to Dwight Eisenhower. Mayors of 76 U.S. cities in 28 states endorsed Biden because of the negative effect on small businesses from DDT’s poor handling of COVID-19. Wikipedia has a list of Biden’s endorsements, including endorsements by publications rarely or never endorsing a presidential candidate or typically siding with the GOP.

For the first time in over 100 years, the New Hampshire Union Leader came out for the Democratic instead of a Republican. The editorial board did waffle and ask people to vote for GOP senators and representatives. Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is ahead by an average of 18 points; the two representatives are projected to win by 90 percent and 100 percent.

Joe Biden is the fourth Atlantic endorsement in 163 years following Abraham Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson, and Hillary Clinton. Four years ago, the periodical wrote:

“[Trump] traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself … He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.”

DDT hasn’t changed in four years, but the Atlantic found much more to say about him.

The 35 editors of prestigious New England Journal of Medicine broke its almost two-century tradition avoiding politics and called for people to vote against leaders who failed to address the pandemic, describing them as “dangerously incompetent.” The editorial, “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” used no names but obviously condemned DDT’s administration and accused governmental agencies, such as the CDC, the FDA, and the National Institutes of Health, for being undermined by DDT’s administration. When the Scientific American endorsed Joe Biden last month, the respected journal broke its 175-year history to back a presidential candidate.

At his campaign rallies, DDT suggested he will fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, his former infectious disease expert after the election, but he can’t do it. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci is not a political appointee and cannot be fired without just cause in a lengthy process initiated by the NIH director of the HHS Secretary. Such action could also be appealed in court.

DDT has replaced Fauci’s expertise with Scott Atlas’ lies and idiocies, the most recent one an interview on Russian-state funded and controlled media RT. As ignorant about the Russian propaganda source RT as about the virus, Atlas apologized by saying he didn’t know that it was a registered foreign agent meddling in both 2016 and 2020 elections. He didn’t apologize for his lies. DHS had issued an internal bulletin about Russia’s propaganda “to undermine public trust in the electoral process.” The White House stated Atlas didn’t have clearance for his interview done from White House property. His lies included the standard false and nonscientific claims about masks not having value, lockdowns killing people, and uselessness of testing asymptomatic people. A radiologist, Atlas has no background in infectious diseases or epidemiology.

The voting has begun. The hamlet of Dixville Notch (NH) gathers at midnight to kick off Election Day (right). In the primary, three votes were for Mike Bloomberg, one of the voters a lifelong Republican, and the other two were split between Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. Joe Biden received all five votes in the first announced votes for November 3. DDT took nearby Millsfield 16-5, and the 48 voters of Hart’s Location changed to daylight voting this year. And so it begins.

 

October 22, 2020

Bad Times for DDT, Good for Democracy

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is having another hard week. His polls keep going down compared to Joe Biden, and media questions aren’t easy like they are on Fox. He walked out on an interview with Leslie Stahl for 60 Minutes, after Stahl pointed out he was lying about never saying “Lock her up” in questioning about DDT’s attacks on Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer following DDT’s supporters threatening to kidnap Whitmer. During the second presidential debate, he glowered, lied, and deflected although most of the time he restrained himself from excessive interruptions for the first hour.

DDT and his personal lawyer were convinced Giuliani’s fabricated story about unauthenticated material on a laptop a blind computer store owner identified as somebody named Hunter Biden, maybe Joe Biden’s son. The only media source willing to publish the story was the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid New York Post. That debacle was followed by the release of movie footage in which Giuliani was pranked by Sacha Baron Cohen in his recent mockumentary, a sequel to his Borat film. The scammed Giuliani was filmed in a hotel room, his hand down his pants and lying next to an actress who had pretended to be a journalist. The easy pranking of Giuliani shows how susceptible he is to Russian false propaganda being sold on the street in Ukraine 18 months ago. 

DDT’s bribe of $200 discount cards for prescription drugs for seniors before Election Day may be illegal, according to the HHS general counsel, a political appointee. The $7.9 billion would take from Medicare’s trust fund. Officials who originally approved the idea are now ducking for cover.  

The Government Accountability Office will investigate DDT’s alleged interference with COVID-19 response at CDC and FDA in an effort to forcibly match the agencies’ policies and communications to his own political lies.

Greg Sargent suggests that Fox watching may lessen the number of votes for DDT. A new poll from the Public Religion Research Institute found Fox-loving Republicans are “not all confident” vote-by-mail will be secure. Strategists predicted that outcome since DDT began raging against the convenience of mail-in voting. Republicans who believe voting is fraudulent because of DDT’s lies may not even vote on Election Day. According to the polling, 39 percent of U.S. people think vote-by-mail is not as secure, 34 percent are somewhat confident, and 27 percent are very confident. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say they aren’t confident at all in vote-by-mail—56 percent to 25 percent. With independents, 38 percent are not confident in mail-in voting. Almost three-fourths of Fox-trusting Republicans are not confident at all in sending their ballots by mail. Even robocalls from the RNC encouraging vote-by-mail doesn’t seem to change Republicans’ minds.

In the courts, Elliott Broidy, one of DDT’s biggest donors and DDT’s friend, pled guilty to acting as an unregistered foreign agent for accepting millions of dollars to secretly lobby DDT for Malaysian and Chinese interests, described a case study of foreign governments’ influence on U.S. policy through politically influential proxies. Broidy could be paid over $80 million for successful lobby in ending U.S. investigation into a multibillion-dollar embezzlement of a Malaysian state investment fund. He worked on a senior Chinese security minister to return Chinese exile Guo Wengui to his home country from the U.S. Broidy also pled guilty in 2009 in an unrelated pension fund bribery case.

A federal judge ruled decisions by William Perry Pendley when he was acting Bureau of Land Management are invalid. Pendley served illegally in his position for 424 days. DDT withdrew Pendley’s name from nomination in August: Pendley’s beliefs are so extremist that even the “confirm-anybody” Republicans might not vote in favor of him. To save the Pendley’s decisions, DDT gave him another title in early October but kept his job description the same. A judge has already struck three industry-favored, illegal Resource Management Plans in Montana and allows people to challenge other Pendley decisions.

A federal judge struck down DDT’s removal of food stamps from almost 700,000 people to annually save about $1 billion. The Department of Agriculture refused to say how many people would have lost food if the new policy regarding benefits had been denied in spring during the pandemic. Enrollment in the program increased when millions of people lost their jobs because of COVID-19. About 10 percent of adults live in households without enough to eat sometime during the past seven days. AGs from 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York challenged the USDA rule to remove food stamps. The USDA still hopes to take benefits from over 300 million people and free school meals from almost 500,000 children. Another plan is taking allowances for utility expenses.

A federal judge ordered the Treasury Department and the IRS to give prisoners their stimulus money of $1,200 per person after the agencies disallowed people their rights and tried to pull back the money if it had already been sent. The law did not exclude incarcerated people. The money must be sent to prisoners, and they have until October 30 to file paper returns to get their owned money before the end of the year. Prisoners are not usually permitted to use computers which would give them easier access to requesting the money. IRS must also contact correctional facilities to communicate the ruling.

A three-judge panel for the 2nd Circuit Court upheld a lower court when it declined to consolidate multiple appeals by Ghislaine Maxwell, alleged madam to child predator Jeffrey Epstein who died in a New York jail last year, and struck down the release of her deposition in a now-settled civil lawsuit. The case involved then-teenaged Virginia Roberts Giuffre and her claim Maxwell told her to have sex with Prince Andrew. Epstein had escaped serious sentencing although he was well-known for sexually abused underage girls. Epstein was a friend of DDT, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, then Florida’s U.S. attorney, approved a plea deal from Epstein to let him off with a 13-month sentence in highly comfortable circumstances and blocked any further investigation in Epstein’s crimes.  

The Supreme Court denied an appeal from Kim Davis after the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled same-gender couples can sue Davis in her individual capacity as county clerk for refusing them marriage licenses. Davis spent five days in jail because she defied court orders to issue licenses. Both Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito maintain the case Obergefell v. Hodges, granting marriage equality, has “ruinous consequences” for religious liberty. Only three judges ruling for marriage equality remain on the high court, scheduled to hear a case about Philadelphia’s refusal to use a Catholic agency barring same-gender couples from become foster parents.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court ruled 2-1 against DDT using $3.6 military construction funds for building his southern wall. The decision determined DDT’s actions illegal in upholding a December 2019 ruling. The blockage comes in Texas where the government is taking privately-owned land through eminent domain. DDT’s Judge Daniel Collins dissented from two Clinton appointees. The case will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

For two years, DDT largely ignored the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but the human rights organization Khashoggi founded and his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, have filed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia Crown Prince  Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder. The case claims MBS killed Khashoggi because he advocated for democracy and human rights for all. In 2018, the CIA concluded MBS order the murder, but DDT has defended the crown prince. The suit has been filed under the Alien Tort Statute and a 1991 law called the Torture Victim Protection Act, providing recourse in U.S. courts for violations of international law and for victims of “flagrant human rights violations,” including torture and summary execution abroad. MBS lured Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by promising his safety when he required his presence to obtain a document Khashoggi needed for his marriage. Two months ago, former top Saudi intelligence officer Saad Aljabri accused MBS of targeting him for assassination and taking his children hostage because of Aljabri’s damaging knowledge about MBS’ rise to power.

In requiring taxpayers to bear the cost for DDT’s defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, AG Bill Barr said DDT’s denial of rape was an official act.  

In my favorite recent court case, DDT’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, swore under oath people should not believe DDT’s tweets. On October 6, DDT tweeted, “I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to… the Russia Hoax.” BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold had used DDT’s statement for access to Robert Mueller’s unredacted report through a Freedom of Information Act request. A federal judge demands DDT be asked about his intentions. The question: Is the report fully declassified or does DDT not mean anything he tweets? Maybe we’ll see.

There’s lots more to make DDT uncomfortable, including tonight’s presidential debate. Only his staunchest supporters will declare a “win” for him. In the conservative Gallup poll, 56 percent of voters say DDT doesn’t deserve to be reelected; only 43 percent disagree. We can only hope they vote the same way.

GOP Claims ‘Integrity’ in Voting Suppression

Thirteen days before Election Day, courts are still changing voting rules. Tonight, the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 vote, overturned an appeals court and allowed Alabama to ban curbside voting despite the danger of COVID-19 and the need for disabled to have this procedure. The court had already refused to remove Alabama’s requirement requiring affidavits signed by a notary or two adult witnesses for absentee ballots as well as the demand these ballots include copies of photo IDs. A Black voter pointed out Blacks are again in danger of dying from voting.

In an opposite decision, the Supreme Court decided 4-4 earlier this week allowing Pennsylvania to accept ballots up to three days after Election Day if postmarked by the Election Day deadline. Four “originalist” Supreme Court justices—Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas—dissented in their support of the state legislature over the state Supreme Court in following the exact language of the U.S. Constitution in their philosophy of no nuance or linguistic changes in the 233-year-old document. The dissenters followed the winning argument in Bush v. Gore to negate the decision from Florida’s Supreme Court, that the state Supreme Court, normally the final say on state law, could not take the power from the legislature. Amy Coney Barrett, queen of originalism, would most likely make the decision a majority if she had already been placed on the Supreme Court.

Pennsylvanians struggled with registering to vote or requesting absentee ballots before last Monday’s deadline. In three counties, college students were rejected from registering to vote online, and other voters received rejection notices for absentee ballots with no explanation. One student submitted an application on September 22 and received an email 20 days later it was declined—with no explanation. Electronic signatures have also been rejected. As of October 15, 372,000 applications had been denied. The state blamed counties. Election officials in Pennsylvania spend most of their time coping with telephone calls and facing the first election not demanding an excuse for absentee voting, mail delivery disruption, and the pandemic.

With almost 9 million voters, the state already approved over 2.7 million mail ballot applications as of five days ago with October 27 is the last day to request absentee ballots for the November 3 election. In an effort to create chaos and delated election results in Pennsylvania, the state GOP House refuses to permit any ballot processing or counting before 7:00 am on Election Day. States permitting mail-in voting typically open ballots and prepare them for counting. For example, Oregon, with 100 percent mail-in voting, usually announces all major election results by midnight on Election Day.

In North Carolina, the board of elections offices can contact voters about problems with absentee ballot envelopes. The state court of appeals ruled ballots postmarked by 5:00 pm on Election Day can be collected through November 12. Republicans are frantically appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the 5th Circuit Court ruled election officials can deny absentee ballots if they think the signature doesn’t match and doesn’t require the voter to be contacted for verification. Local election officials have no training in signature verification. Although voters must be notified within ten days after the election about their rejected ballots, but they can’t challenge the rejection. After several back-and-forth decisions, Texas can have only one ballot drop box per county. Harris County, home to Houston, has 4.7 million residents in about 1,800 square miles. As a comparison, my home of Lincoln County, with 47,000 residents and slightly over 1,000 square miles has 11 drop boxes. Like other conservative courts, Texas maintains the “integrity” of the election is more important than the right to vote.

Just 20 days before the election, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a GOP law barring county elections commissioners from mailing absentee ballots to 70,000 applicants who had omitted some information such as their pin number, listed on the voter ID card, on their applications. Counties had filled in the information, but the court ruled the applications mailed to people must be blank. Applicants had to complete their absentee ballot applications before last Saturday to qualify. With delayed mail delivery, Iowans may not receive their ballot on time.

A state Court of Appeals panel in Michigan overruled a lower court and demanded voters have their absentee ballots to local clerks no later than 8:00 pm on Election Day. Third parties are also not permitted to collect absentee ballots within a three-day window before Election Day. Today, a federal appeals court blocked a decision allowing groups to offer free or reduced price rides to polling places.

After Florida pushed hard to disenfranchise felons given the right to vote by a ballot initiative, the state’s secretary of state, Laurel Lee, tried to shut down ballot drop boxes with no legal justification. Over three million Floridians have already sent in their ballots, and state law require 24-hour drop boxes at county supervisor main and branch offices as well as all early voting sites and other discretionary places. Lee sent “guidance” ordering election supervisors to maintain staffing by election officials at all times and guarantee each voter signed and sealed the ballot envelope. She also limited open discretionary drop boxes to only early voting hours. Lack of personnel would close and/or require the removal of hundreds of boxes in dozens of counties.

In federal court earlier this year, Lee admitted she has no authority over county supervisors of elections. The federal court agreed, calling supervisors “independent officials under Florida law who are not subject to the Secretary’s control.” Yet if supervisors ignore the order from Brad McVay, general counsel of the Florida Department of State, the state’s GOP-controlled government can try to throw out Joe Biden’s ballots in those counties if they don’t follow his illegal mandate, allowing federal courts to question the election results and invalidate ballots.

The restrictions on voting tend to be abusive, but Indiana has a peculiar one, upheld by the 7th Circuit Court. Despite mail slowdowns, absentee ballots must be received on Election Day—by noon. Limitations on absentee ballot was justified by the judge’s ruling “that as long as the state allows voting in person, there is no constitutional right to vote by mail.” He added, “During a pandemic a reasonable person entitled to vote by mail transmits the ballot earlier than normal or uses another approved method.”

Even voting in person has perils of voter suppression. Early voting saw long lines in many states, including Georgia which promised to fix the problem after ten-hour waits during the primary. The longest lines are found in predominantly minority areas. A Tennessee poll worker was found turning away anyone with a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. DDT rallies of up to hundreds of people gather around the polls and drop boxes. 

With ongoing decisions regarding voting procedures, suppression of voting, and the Oval Office encouraging intimidation at the polls, the U.S. 2020 general election needs international poll watchers. An election observer in Madagascar explains how the nation’s election is undermining its democracy.

Voter intimidation makes people afraid of exercising democratic rights. Election observers in other countries watch for guns close to the polls, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) asks for an “Army for Trump” to “fight” for him at the polls. Even unarmed, his “Army” will be unprepared and ready to be violent.

Voter suppression discourages and downright stops people from casting ballots. DDT admitted he kept congressional monies from the USPS to stop mailing in ballots. His actions block legal votes too late to be counted while reducing trust in the postal service and putting people’s health at risk who decide on voting in person to be counted in the 2020 election. In addition, DDT has declared the only valid ballots are those cast in person on Election Day.

Political violence, threatened by DDT’s supporters because of DDT’s encouragement, causes chaos and undermines voting confidence. Kenya’s 2007 election ended up with 1,500 deaths after political leaders promoted violence. In his first presidential debate, DDT told the armed, right-wing extremist Proud Boys to “stand by.” IP addresses in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Estonia are using the Proud Boys by sending threatening emails to Democratic voters in Florida, Alaska, and Arizona; the messages with the subject “Vote for Trump or Else” reference the recipients’ home addresses. John Ratcliffe, DDT’s fixer as head of intelligence agencies and not known for telling the truth, blames Iran.  

Incumbents spreading fake information about elections undermines election. In sub-Saharan Africa, leaflets have provided the wrong election day—like robocalls have in past U.S. elections.

In another way to undermine, and perhaps rig, the election, DDT told his supporters to try to vote twice, an illegal action. His supporters claim he’s being funny or testing the system—such as trying to pull a heist to see if anyone if watching. When DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr was asked about the legality of voting twice, he said he didn’t know.

And rules for voting change from day to day.

In the past, a few international observers for U.S. elections commented on problems with democracy in United States elections such as long lines, dark money in donations, and gerrymandering. This year, the pandemic will block most international observers.  

No matter what, however, VOTE!!!!    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/10/05/holding-an-election-during-civil-war-set-standard-us-today/     If the U.S. can have an election during its Civil War, it can survive DDT.

October 18, 2020

DDT: Week 195 – Nearing Election Day, Mounting Tensions

Two weeks ago, the news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) meant deciphering his doctor’s lies about his illness from COVID-19. It was a more peaceful time, compared with DDT traveling the country, endangering lives by spreading coronavirus and encouraging violence. He claims his campaign rallies don’t increase the number of virus cases, but research has a different picture, starting with the Tulsa (OK) audience of only 6,000. By September, epidemiologists estimated directly related 228 cases and nine deaths, including former presidential candidate Herman Cain.

Patterns of outbreaks 14 days after DDT’s rallies occurred in half the 14 cities and townships studied. DDT calls these self-promotional events “protests” to avoid state laws, but actual grassroots protests have no virus surges because most people take precautions. Only two states control COVID-19 as DDT tells people coronavirus isn’t dangerous. The top third states demonstrating the highest number of cases per capita are Republican.

DDT’s most recent “expert,” Scott Atlas, pushes DDT’s position of no masks, no social distancing, and “herd immunity,” promoting everyone getting sick, an attitude obvious at the rallies. His claims of stopping “pandemic fatigue” works against national security. If people can’t even wear masks and maintain social distancing for a few months without going to pieces in opposition to protecting public health, how could they possibly survive attacks from hostile governments if they had to help protect the United States?

Ten days after a credible kidnapping plot of Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by at least 14 people, the subject, DDT still rallies people to “lock her up” and “open up the state.” His claims are baseless; Michigan is already open. Threats of domestic terrorism against Whitmer, her family, and other officials accelerate every time DDT has a rally. DDT’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, claimed DDT’s call for violence were done in a “fun light atmosphere,” and DDT’s campaign adviser Jason Miller stated DDT stands by his attacks on Whitmer.

According to the FBI, some of the men charged in the Whitmer plot also considered “taking” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, referring to DDT’s rhetoric, said he had faced threats from foreign forces but never from his own commander in chief. Earlier this year, DDT called on his supporters to “liberate” both Michigan and Virginia.

Barry County’s (MI) Sheriff Dar Leaf tried to protect two of the men charged in the kidnapping plot by saying that they were probably just making a citizen’s arrest. He had joined the two indicted men in a protest against pandemic shutdowns and refused to enforce the state’s former stay-at-home order. About the militia planning the kidnapping, Leaf said, “They have more of a legal standing in this country than the agencies that arrested them.” Despite the Second Amendment terminology of “well-regulated militia,” the Supreme Court ruled in both 1886 and 2008 that paramilitary organizations can be banned and are not allowed to act as legal militia in any state. Sheriffs sometimes give preferential treatment to militia members in exchange for their votes. The two men who blew up the Oklahoma City federal building and killed 168 people in 1995 had ties to the Michigan Militia.

Because of DDT’s violent orders for poll watchers, Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson issued banned open carrying of guns on Election Day within 100 feet of polling places, clerks’ offices, and absent voter counting boards to ward off voter intimidation. Benson is working with AG Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police Director Col. Joe Gasper for voters’ protection. Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy said he will not enforce the state ban, including at schools or churches for polling locations.

DDT is headed to California, hoping to pick up its 55 electoral college votes with a campaign message of “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE!!!” DDT’s polling is 31 percent in the state, but he’s trying a bribe of disaster relief after first refusing it to the state for its horrific wildfires. His reversal came almost immediately after FEMA justified the refusal with the statement the fires lacked “severity and magnitude to exceed” state and local capabilities. A president has the final say over releasing government funds from FEMA. In August, former DDT official Miles Taylor said, “[DDT] told us to stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him and that politically it wasn’t a base for him.” Larger fires in the state over the past four years destroyed GOP-voting areas, and many of the fires are on federal land with DDT responsible for their maintenance. Gov. Gavin Newsom stated the COVID-19 recession drove California from a $5.6 billion surplus to a $54.3 deficit.

In another bribe, this one to North Carolina where DDT polls down by two to four points, he signed disaster relief for Hurricane Isaias, a Category One storm with localized damage to the coast almost three months ago. Puerto Rico and the Northeast suffered far more from the hurricane. DDT visited the state the day after he gave them the money. GOP incumbent Thom Tillis is down four points from opponent Cal Cunningham, three points more after texts about Cunningham’s extramarital affair were publicized.

Twenty years ago, Gov. Jeb Bush promised to give Florida to his brother, George W., and he did. DDT threatened Ron DeSantis in the same state:

“You know, if we don’t win it, I’m blaming the governor. I’ll fire him somehow.”

DDT also said in a speech about Puerto Ricans, “You better vote for me.” Puerto Rico has no vote in the Electoral College.

The Transportation Department is using DDT’s fake “anarchist jurisdictions” to block funding from a coronavirus safety grant program, starting with New York City, Portland (OR), and Seattle. The grants are to help rail and bus passengers have a safer environment.

DDT counts on his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani for an “October surprise” to take votes from Joe Biden. For years, FBI intelligence has reported to DDT about Russian fabricated smears against Biden funneled through Giuliani. His latest evidence-free story is about non-authenticated private emails attacking Biden’s son Hunter Biden which Giuliani gave to the New York Post, owned by creator of the Fox network Rupert Murdoch. The blind owner of a computer store, an avid DDT-supporter, said someone called Hunter Biden dropped off his laptop for repair, and the blind man copied the files and sent them to Giuliani’s former lawyer Robert Costello. No one ever saw Hunter Biden, and no one ever picked up the laptop. Most reporters refused to put their names on the story; the only byline comes from a former associate producer of The Sean Hannity Show. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), another conduit for Russia’s false propaganda, latched onto the two-year-old Russian campaigning for DDT, according to FBI intelligence.

Republican leaders are flocking to Joe Biden in the upcoming election, but DDT got a big endorsement—the Taliban. A senior member of the Middle East terrorist group with Al-Qaeda ties said, “We hope he will win the election.” DDT’s election means terrorist groups can take complete control of Afghanistan after troops leave. DDT also wants all troops out of Somalia no matter how many Al-Qaeda take over the county and, in a gift to the Kremlin, plans to pull 12,000 troops out of Germany.

DDT said the election is being rigged; here’s how the GOP is doing it. Charlie Kirk, lead speaker at DDT’s convention, talked to conservatives hosted by the Council for National Policy (CNP) about the advantage of liberal college students kept from voting because campuses are closed from COVID-19 shutdown. “It’s a great thing,” he said. Although DDT publicly opposes “ballot harvesting” in which people take others’ ballots to be dropped off, Ralph Reed, chairman of the nonprofit Faith & Freedom Coalition, bragged about harvesting ballots in churches. Tom Fitton, president of the non-profit Conservative organization the Judicial Watch, asked the audience for ways to suppress votes and “stop ballots from going out.”

With no evidence, DDT claimed California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to win the state with “a pure Sleepy Joe Democrat firm to count and ‘harvest’ votes.” His comment may be tied to the state hiring a consulting firm to encourage mail-in voting during the pandemic. Republicans in the state, however, are breaking the law by putting out ballot drop boxes labeled as “Official.” California demanded the boxes be taken down, and the two sides compromised after almost a week. The word “official” will be removed, the drop boxes will be attended to whenever the public has access to them, and ballots will be secured and then delivered to elections officials within the required 72-hour frame. Republicans are targeting churches and gun shops for the boxes’ locations.

After DDT claimed mail-in voting is fraudulent, postal service employees have been found throwing away mail, some of it ballots. The first, one of two in Pennsylvania, was caught with eight bags of mail in front of his house waiting for garbage pickup the following day. Neighbors reported the situation is a common weekly occurrence. Hired a few months ago, he follows the QAnon philosophy DDT praised at last week’s town hall. Another USPS employee in Democratic-majority Jeffersontown (KY) discarded mail containing 112 ballots in a dumpster. 

Today, I dropped off my ballot off in the legal drop box. I live in a state successfully conducting mail-in voting for 25 years. Too bad so many other states are run by Republicans.

October 4, 2020

More Judicial News to Infuriate DDT

As the media tells about how Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) destroys the United States, a lot of the news slips through the cracks.

A major issue is how courts keep overturning the rules from DDT and his appointees who want to benefit business above the people of the nation. During President Obama’s administration, Republicans had very few executive orders and rule changes to reject. In under four years since DDT’s inauguration, hundreds of lawsuits have fought back DDT’s proclamations. One ongoing report shows DDT’s successes, 22; DDT’s failures, 116. These are a few recent ones:

A federal judge ruled DOJ inappropriately redacted parts of Robert Mueller’s reports and required release of those sections by November 2, on the eve of Election Day.

A California judge has again ruled that census counting must continue through October 31, 2020 after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross defied her with an announcement the counting would end on October 5—tomorrow. During the most recent hearing, the judge asked for records regarding the October 5 “target date” but was told the only paper trail was a tweet. The judge asked:

 “Are you saying that is enough reason to establish decision-making? A one sentence tweet?”   

The Census Bureau had originally selected October 31 as the deadline after problems with the pandemic and finally acceded to that date last Friday. Two of three judges on a 9th Circuit Court panel confirmed the lower court in extending the 2020 census, and DDT’s judge dissented. Census Bureau career officials, the Commerce Department inspector general’s office, and the bureau’s Census Scientific Advisory Committee oppose a shorter timeline for counting the census.

Following a ruling in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, the Trump administration will no longer block immigrant teens from accessing reproductive health care, including abortion. Another judge ruled this week against enacting a steep increase in the costs associated with citizenship and immigration application fees.

A federal judge in California temporarily blocked an increase in costs for citizenship and other immigration applications. Citizenship was scheduled to increase 81 percent yesterday, $1,160. Naturalization would go from $725 to $1,170, and asylum applications would cost $50 without fee waivers for low-income applicants. Applying for a deportation suspension or expulsion cancellation would skyrocket from $285 to $1,810.

The judge’s reason for barring the enforcement is Wolf’s possibly illegal appointment for acting head of DHS, according to both a judge and the Government Accountability Office. The appointment of DHS Kevin McAleenan was invalid under the agency’s order of succession, making him lack the authority to amend the order for Wolf’s installation. The lawsuit caused DDT to appoint Wolf for his position which now needs confirmation. Last month, a coalition of 20 state AGs challenged the new restrictive rules for asylum seekers in court. Previously the GAO found Ken Cuccinelli, Wolf’s deputy, was also illegally appointed in an invalid order of succession.

The  A federal judge in Los Angeles overruled limits on visas, (inspired by immigrant-hating Stephen Miller) for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of companies can return to bringing workers from abroad on visas such as the H-1B for highly skilled employees, guest-worker visas for seasonal employees such as those who DDT hires, and cultural exchange visas for people such as au pairs. Earlier, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. turned the issue over to an appeals court. Plaintiffs include the Chamber of Commerce and several industry giants.

A federal judge in Washington state ruled DDT’s and Barr’s national commission on policing violates federal law by including only 18 law enforcement members and excluding civil rights activists, defense attorneys, or mental health professionals. In addition, the judge blocked Barr from publishing a final report because the commission failed to file a charter, post public meeting notices, and have open meetings. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires a balanced membership to prevent its recommendations from being “inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority.” Only five the 112 members of working groups were from outside law enforcement, and speakers lacked diversity until after the lawsuit was filed. Last month, a prosecutor resigned from a working group because the commission “was intent on providing cover for a predetermined agenda that ignores the lessons of the past.” DOJ claimed the commission was following the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and could ignore FACA. The W. Bush-appointed judge ruled against that argument.

There was a time when courts claimed they could not make decisions about voting in the months before elections. For example, the Supreme Court will not hear a case from Arizona’s law about “harvesting” ballots, the practice of people returning absentee ballots for other people, until after the election. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/supreme-court-review-arizona-ballot-harvesting-law-73386162 

On the other hand, the lower courts are filled with cases about voting rules to suppress the 2020 vote:

Two federal judges ruled in favor of voting by mail to protect against COVID-19, one upholding a universal postal voting plan in Montana and the other blocking restrictions on absentee ballots in Alabama. Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock can allow the state’s counties to mail ballots to every voter in an effort to reduce COVID-19 spread at polls. Alabama is banned from absentee ballot requirements putting them at risk such as notarized signatures.

In North Carolina, a judge struck down changes on witness requirements for absentee ballots because the state election board had not kept to court orders. A witness must certify a voter completed an absentee ballot, but the board told election officials they could overlook that requirement if the witness information is missing from the ballot envelope. Voters can just sign an affidavit they had mailed the ballot after the ballot was returned. Last month, the judge had ordered the state to keep all absentee ballots until officials had a statewide process to give voters notice of any errors “such as a signature mismatch or deficient witness contact information.” He also stopped the state from enforcing state law banning nursing home staff from helping voters to fill out ballots and/or mail them. In 2018, the state faced a massive ballet theft scam by a GOP operative.

In one loss for the people, two DDT appointees on a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court overturned a lower federal judge ruling to permit Georgia absentee ballots to be accepted three days after Election Day if postmarked on November 3. The ruling requires ballots must be received by 7:00 pm on November 3. An appeal can only go to the supreme Court.

GOP and DDT’s lawsuits to suppress the vote through restrictions use the lie of corruption, an argument rejected by newly retired top GOP election lawyer Ben Ginsberg. In an op-ed, he writes about the lack of widespread fraud:

“Legions of Republican lawyers have searched in vain over four decades for fraudulent double voting. At long last, they have a blatant example of a major politician urging his supporters to illegally vote twice. The only hitch is that the candidate is President Trump…

“Elections are not rigged.”  

Although DDT has tried to destroy the image of the USPS by making mail delivery unbearably slow, people continue to support the agency that receives no tax money. A majority of Democrats (82 percent) and unaffiliated voters (69 percent) believe the postal service should be operated as a public service, and almost half Republicans (49 percent) agree. In the survey, 72 percent said the USPS was doing an “excellent” or “good” job, a belief almost unchanged from 2014 and 2017 Gallup polls. Two-thirds think election ballots will be delivered in a timely manner.   

In other hopeful news, The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for violating the Hatch Act after her department distributed a Fox network clip of DeVos criticizing Joe Biden. Federal employees are forbidden from political activities on the job.

After NYT piece on DDT’s taxes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) argued that conflicts of interest could invalidate all DDT’s judicial nominations. The sum total of $750 paid in taxes for an entire year for two different years with none for the previous decade has hurt DDT’s campaign. In comparison, DACA recipients—who DDT hates—pay $8.7 billion.

A new court filing from the Manhattan DA suggests a state court investigation into DDT and his businesses for tax and insurance fraud as well as other financial crimes. DDT argued presidents have blanket immunity from criminal investigation, but the Supreme Court ruled against that premise. Because the case is in state court, AG Bill Barr can’t protect him, and no president can pardon him.

Fox network and DDT’s BFF Sean Hannity is being deposed about his promotion of conspiracy theories concerning rumors about the “murder” of DNC staffer Seth Rich. Also deposed are Fox’s business host Lou Dobbs and network staffers about the debunked reporting that Rich’s death came from his leaking Democratic emails to WikiLeaks instead of the Russians. Rich’s parents filed an emotional distress and tortious interference lawsuit against Fox, its reporter Malia Zimmerman, and former guest Ed Butowsky.

As usual, Congress has passed a continuing resolution for the budget instead of a real budget. This one expires on December 11. Signed by DDT, the bill includes both welfare for farmers and $8 billion in food assistance.

October 1, 2020

A Lighter Look at Politics

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 12:27 AM
Tags: , , , ,

After the grimness of last night’s debate, it’s time for some humor. The following story comes from Republican insistence that mail-in (aka absentee) ballots not be counted in Pennsylvania if they aren’t enclosed in both the secrecy envelope and the mailing ballot. Those ballots are nicknamed “naked ballots” and may be the nine ballots accidentally discarded in one Pennsylvania county by a temp worker.

Three Pittsburgh women—two Allegheny County council members and a state representative candidate—are using the “naked” terminology to do some educating about the two envelopes. They posed topless to remind people about the necessity of using both envelopes. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ruled “naked” ballots would be counted for the primary in August but not in the general election.

Bethany Hallam (above right), Allegheny County councilwoman at large, said:

“Immediately when I heard the term naked ballots, and being a woman in the male-dominated environment of politics, where they are always trying to control our bodies, I thought, ‘Why not take some control back? And also get the voters’ attention.”

Hallam said the tweet got a million views in the first 24 hours. Not everyone approved, but the women weren’t really naked. They were wearing strapless bras. And they encouraged men to join the ad campaign.

The women’s directions guide people through the mail-in voting process: (1) fill out your ballot; (2) put the ballot in the white secrecy envelope; and (3) put that envelope into the outer envelope; (4) sign the back of the envelope (and in Pennsylvania fill out the voter’s declaration). Not every state requires a voter’s declaration; for example, Oregon requires only a signature and mandates it be exactly the same as on the vote registration.

In other words, “dress your ballot.” Emily Kinkead (above left), running for a state House seat in the 20th district, tweeted, “No one wants a naked politician—or a naked ballot!” The women’s advertising got even more attention after Keith Rothfus, a Republican in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, insinuated it was vulgar. Other people approved, calling it “awesome,” “amazing,” “brilliant,” “clever,” and “wonderful.”  

With the other council member, Olivia Bennett, in the above photo, Hallam works on criminal justice reform, police accountability, environmental protection, LGBTQ equality, and workers’ rights. She used a progressive platform to defeat a 20-year council member incumbent last year.

The three women are just the start of an ongoing ad campaign using different volunteers.

By Monday, September 28, 2020, Allegheny County had mailed about 106,000 ballots of 325 thus far, and the other 66 counties will mail out ballots on individual timelines. Some counties will have satellite elections offices where people can vote early by requesting, receiving, completing, and submitting mail ballots in one trip. Democrats have already requested 1.5 million ballots to vote by mail compared to 535,000 from Republicans and 223,000 from other voters. In August, Pennsylvania had 8,725,566 registered voters.

Fewer Republicans are using absentee ballots thus far because of DDT’s false scare tactics about not voting in person. This is the first year all Pennsylvanians can request ballots by mail without giving a justification. Because of recent lawsuits, envelopes provide the wrong directions about when ballots must be returned; the law now requires ballots be accepted through Friday, November 6, 2020, because of DDT’s mail delivery slowdown. Voters can check whether their ballots have been mailed through the Department of State’s online ballot tracker and receive email notification if they provided an address.

Pennsylvania’s court ruling against “naked” ballots was intended to be a victory for the Republicans and DDT. Three “naked” women may turn it around.

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