Nel's New Day

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.

January 13, 2018

DDT: Good, Bad & Weird

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:50 PM
Tags: ,

After excoriating his predecessor for how little he worked, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has a rapidly shrinking schedule from about 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, with hours of “Executive Time,”—watching television—before he retires to the residence for more television and tweeting. Months ago, he admitted that the presidency is “more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” Now he’s working much less than earlier and holding fewer meetings because he “didn’t like the longer official schedule.” Last week DDT had no public events on his schedule. His total work schedule seems to average 1.75 hours of work each day. Yet he (with the GOP) still manages to put his mark on the nation. Here are a few from last week:

The Good:

For the first time, a court has ruled that states cannot draw legislative districts to benefit one party. North Carolina is required to redraw its 13 unconstitutionally-partisan congressional districts within three weeks. Other gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland are pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the 2016 general election, Republicans in North Carolina had a less than two percent majority of the votes for U.S. House of Representatives but gained ten of the thirteen positions. The U.S. Supreme Court will also hear two Texas cases about the GOP oppressing minority voting.

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, regarding the Ohio law that purges voters from the roles if they have not voted in two federal elections and not responded to responded to a notice from state officials. Federal law “says you can’t use failure to vote as the reason for purging somebody from the rolls,” but Ohio claims that the justification is that they don’t respond to the notice. The 2016 election showed that people may not respond but still want to vote, as in the case of 7,500 voters after the 6th Circuit Court blocked the law. DDT’s Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a former member of the religious conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, vaguely responded to his support of disenfranchisement when Justice Sonia Sotomayor said:

“There’s a 24-year history of solicitor generals of both political parties under . . . presidents of both political parties who have taken a position contrary to yours. [It] seems quite unusual that your office would change its position so dramatically.”

Ohio is the only state that initiates a voter purge immediately after a person fails to vote in one election.

Anti-choice activist Teresa Manning who doesn’t believe in the efficacy of popular contraception has resigned her position as director of the HHS family planning program that includes providing Title X family-funding for four million poor people in the U.S. Security officials escorted from the building. [Bad News: Abstinence education advocate Valerie Huber is still acting deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs.]

Federal Judge James Boasberg, skeptical about why the DOJ won’t release former FBI director James Comey’s memos about DDT, ordered DOJ to give him the memos so that he can decide whether they should be released.

DDT’s again waived sanctions against Iran after claiming that he will stop the U.S. deal with Iran.

Claiming that President Obama sold the U.S. embassy in the UK and moved its location, DDT is canceling his trip to London. The change was initiated during the second George W. Bush term, and the U.S. didn’t own the embassy. Massive protests had already been promised for his visit. [Bad News: Media such as the AP didn’t correct DDT’s lies.]

After building Breitbart.com into an ultra-conservative website since Andrew Breitbart’s death in 2012, Steve Bannon lost his positions as executive chairman and host of a daily show on SiriusXM Radio. Since his breakup with DDT and financial supporters Robert and Rebekah Mercer, Bannon has also hired Bill Burck of Quinn Emanuel to prepare for his interview with the House Intelligence committee next week and will “fully cooperate” with Robert Mueller’s investigation.

A White House court filing admitted DDT’s voting “integrity” commission found no voter fraud in 2016  and will destroy the group’s confidential voter data. Former leader Kris Kobach was caught in a lie when DHS said that he would not be advising an investigation of the commission findings. [Bad News: Until DDT, the Department of Homeland Security was responsible for catching terrorists; now it has been assigned to search for non-existent voter fraud.]

Four GOP House members—Carlos Curbelo (FL), Mia Love (UT), Erik Paulsen (MN), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)—denounced DDT for his shithole comments. [Bad News: The other 233 GOP members of the House supported DDT or stayed complicitly silent.]

The Bad:

Last June, DDT said that he would be willing to answer questions about any Russian collusion under oath. Last week he avoided the topic. DDT’s lawyers are considering a tactic of DDT’s signing an affidavit that he has committed no wrongdoing and knows nothing about any collusion instead of meeting with prosecutors. Much more will be heard about the interaction between Robert Mueller and DDT’s lawyers in the coming weeks.

Russian oligarch and Putin ally Oleg Deripaska is using Mueller’s indictment as part of his evidence in suing Paul Manafort and Rick Gates for misappropriation of $18.9 million. Manafort supposedly offered the oligarch private briefings on the DDT campaign in July 2016. In late 2017, a $26 million loan to Manafort brought the amount of loans from Deripaska to approximately $60 million in the past decade.

Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is blocking witnesses from testifying about Russia and DDT, even those who know about the July 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer. Nunes has also blocked requests for documents.

DDT’s plan “Buy American,” putting guns into the hands of drug cartels and terrorists, uses U.S. attachés and diplomats as arms dealers and expands weapons sales to countries with poor human rights records. Embassy staffers will be responsible for promoting weapons sales and helping finalize pending arms deals. Authors of “Buy American” are connected to the arms manufacturing industry. The State Department is also eliminating registration of manufacturers, small gunsmiths, and exporters to sell firearms overseas by transferring the licensing of gun exports to the Commerce Department.

Promising to reduce the trade deficit, DDT now oversees the largest trade deficit in almost six years. In November, exporters rose .2 percent less imports, resulting in a $50.5 billion trade deficit that signifies declining economic growth.

Under DDT, the IRS decided—for the third time—to use private collection companies to recover almost $500 billion in unpaid taxes. Like the past two times, the attempt was a failure: taxpayers spent $20 million to recover $6.7 million through abusive and underhanded collection methods. Almost half the taxpayers on the contracts suffer from economic hardships, and contractors got commissions for work that they didn’t do. The IRS doesn’t plan to change its new system.

The same Russian-based organization, Pawn Storm, that hacked the DNC in 2016 started targeting the U.S. Senate when Russian Olympic players were banned for life in 2017.

Today a false warning of missile attacks on Hawaii drove the population into a panic. It appears that North Korea is four years ahead of U.S. guesstimates on its missile developments. A senior official said that the past year has been a “humbling lesson.”

DDT has given five-year waivers to five megabanks with affiliates convicted and fined for manipulating global interest rates. He owes at least $130 million to one of them, the Deutsche Bank, which has also been fined for $10 billion Russian money laundering. BuzzFeed has released information about DDT’s possibly money-laundering profit from selling condos.

The Weird:

Asked about accusations of his instability, DDT compared himself with Ronald Reagan—the president who suffered from mental instability while he was in the White House. If you think that DDT is a “stable genius,” read the unedited transcript of his interview with the Wall Street Journal. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) is proposing a bill requiring all presidential candidates to publicly disclose the results of a medical examination before the election. It is called the Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection Act—the Stable Genius Act.

The federal government says that the tool used for withholding tax under the new tax law “may” not be accurate. Wage earners are responsible for using a new tool available in February to see if the employers are right about the amount of withholding. Hmm.

DDT said he would “absolutely” be willing to talk on the phone to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that he hopes a positive development results from talks between North Korea and South Korea. He also announced that the U.S. has sold F-52 fighter jets to Norway. The fictional F-52 was created in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a first-person shooter about young people shouting racial slurs. And he said he may change his mind about dropping out of the Paris agreement. But nobody knows what that means.

The White House released a message purportedly from the doctor who performed DDT’s physical exam yesterday:

“The president’s physical exam today at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center went exceptionally well. The president is in excellent health and I look forward to briefing some of the details on Tuesday. Dr. Ronnie Jackson”

Two problems: doctors’ signatures don’t use “Dr.” but instead put initials such as M.D. after the name, and “Ronnie” is misspelled. The doctor’s name is “Ronny Jackson.”

More about the DDT saga tomorrow.

October 2, 2016

Trump Needs Evangelical Votes

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 9:10 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Donald Trump has long known that Christian fundamentalists could provide him the path to the presidency. That decision led him to curry the favor of religious right leaders who claimed for a short time that he had become a “born again Christian.” Since then, he is working to destroy the freedom of religion part of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

As Trump does with all his campaigning, he is now going over the edge in trying to woo conservative Christians. At a rally last week, he asked people in the crowd to raise their hands if they aren’t Christians. After a few brave people put their hands in the air, he said, “That’s alright. I think we’ll keep them, right? Shall we keep them in the room? I think so.” Trump’s method of identifying and shaming non-Christians wasn’t a one-time practice. He did it at another rally that day.

Trump may be winning with the evangelicals, but he lacks popularity with Roman Catholics. Hillary Clinton is ahead by 23 points with this demographic group at 55 percent to 32 percent. The last three GOP presidential candidates received over 40 percent of the Catholic vote.

Political scientist Michael J. New wrote in the conservative National Review that Trump lost support because of his attacks on Latino immigrants, considered the future of the Catholic church, and his attacks on Pope Francis. Christopher Hale, the executive director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, called the Trump-Pence ticket the “most anti-Catholic GOP presidential ticket in modern history.” In addition to Trump’s anti-immigration position, his running mate, Mike Pence, has a strong record of blocking the Catholic Church’s efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in Indiana.

Trump’s ratings with the Mormons are also so low that he could lose Utah, a state that hasn’t voted Democratic since Goldwater’s debacle in 1964. Trump is still seven points ahead of Hillary Clinton, but an independent run by Evan McMullin is gaining momentum. In addition to Trump’s immigration problem, Mormon Mitt Romney is a staunch Never Trumper, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), whose Mormon pioneer ancestors settled in northern Arizona, refuses to vote for the GOP presidential candidate. Utah’s GOP Sen. Mike Lee has refused to support Trump because of his “religiously intolerant” statements in banning Muslims from the U.S. Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz (a convert to Mormonism at Brigham Young University) told a group of 50 Utah Muslims that Trump’s call to ban Muslims is un-American, immoral, and does not represent “who we are as a people.”

Last May, former Sen. Bob Bennett, dying from a stroke, asked:

“Are there any Muslims in the hospital? I’d love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country and to apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.”

Utah’s GOP governor, Gary Herbert, declared that Trump lacks “Utah values” because of his “bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics,” as Mitt Romney describes Trump. Herbert pointed out that Trump’s campaign is based almost exclusively on creating “scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants”—something that Mormons have faced all their lives through violence and state-sponsored persecution. Mormonism, like Catholicism, is also dependant on Latinos for its growth. With close to 1,400,000 church members, Mexico is second only to the U.S. as the nation with the largest Mormon population.

Mormons on the political left ask GOP Mormons to pray for anyone except Trump to become president. On the popular Mormon blog By Common Consent, Russell Fox, a political science professor at Friends University, wrote about how Trump, as president, “would apparently be comfortable with trashing the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments.” He stated that it was up to the Mormons to save the country.

Recent polls show that 80 percent of white evangelicals intend to vote for Trump. It’s not because he’s a born-again; it shows how much their desire for political power has overcome their Christian principles. Trump has promised that he will allow non-profit, tax-exempt religious groups to endorse political candidates, destroying the separation of church and state. He has enflamed the religious right by falsely claiming that their religious institutions would lose their tax-exempt status “if they openly advocate their political views.” By spreading this lie, Trump hopes to get the votes of conservative Christians. He is the first presidential zealot who has advocated for overturning the law that was signed by GOP President Eisenhower.

After declaring his campaign, Trump used Christianity as an excuse for his decisions. In refusing to release his tax returns, he claimed that the IRS was persecuting him for his “strong Christian” beliefs. Christian leaders endorsing him had trouble justifying their position about a man who has bragged about his extramarital affairs. When Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson personally endorsed Trump, he said that his conversion had made him “born again.” Trump has never made this claim, and Dobson shifted his statement to saying, “Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart. I can only tell you what I’ve heard.”)

Evangelicals are a fertile field for an authoritarian candidate who praises the anti-LGBT leader of Russia who wants a “Christian civilization.” For example, Bryan Fischer called Vladimir Putin a “lion of Christianity” and called on legislators to eliminate free speech. Others have called Putin “the moral leader of the world” and champion of “traditional marriage and Christian values.” Franklin Graham, son of the great Billy Graham, puts Putin above President Obama and praised Russia’s actions in Syria, called a “holy battle” by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Trump’s other voting base comes from the white supremacy movement that believes in eliminating all except “the right kind of people.” Some of the “wrong kind of people” are non-Christians, including Jews.  The candidate shows himself in accord with these groups such as the Alt-Right led by Jared Taylor. As shown in the Frontline documentary, “The Choice,” Trump’s father taught his son that success is genetic. Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said:

“The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

Like other Trump ideas, this philosophy matches that of Adolf Hitler who murdered over six million people because they lacked the right genes, because they weren’t “the right kind of people.”

A religious conversion may work for Trump if it fits into his business value of fleecing people with his scams. Last summer he selected televangelist Paula White, his “spiritual leader” as his evangelical outreach leader. White has a resurrection seed that will bring the dead back to life—for only $1,144. Russell Moore, leader of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, called White  a “charlatan” and a “heretic” who preaches a “prosperity gospel” that falsely claims that “God’s favor is seen in increasing wealth and freedom from sickness.” [Below: White and other prosperity preachers lay hands on Donald Trump and pray for him at Trump Tower, from a video made September 2015.]

trump-laying-hands

White’s advice complements Trump’s goal: “Find your passion in life and figure out a way to make money.” Before her divorce from her second husband, Congress investigated them for an abuse of the tax-exempt status of their church. Trump and White are a matched set: religion is a scam for both of them.

April 28, 2016

I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

Filed under: Presidential candidates — trp2011 @ 9:27 PM
Tags: , ,

Oregon is unique in its system of voting: everyone votes by mail without long lines, inaccessibility to the polls, discriminatory mandatory IDs, poll workers who turn people away, shortened hours for voting that may not mesh with voters working schedules, etc. Sometime before May 17, I will mark my ballot and put it in a convenient drop box. This year I’m marking the box beside Hillary Clinton’s name for president.

Bernie Sanders has many commendable attributes. He was 100 percent right when he said that Clinton needed competition, and he has changed the conversation surrounding what it means to be a Democrat and a progressive. For too many years, the Democratic party has moved to the right, largely from fear of failure at the polls. The Supreme Court’s support of big business, blatantly shown in Citizens United, has warped the campaign process and twisted politics into working for corporations instead of the people who elect lawmakers.

People who plan to vote for Sanders want what he offers—big business out of politics, free college tuition, single-payer insurance, $15 minimum wage, return of the middle class, carbon tax to slow down climate change, etc. I want the same thing, but I’m voting for Clinton because I think she has a better chance moving toward progressive success.

Sanders shows rigidity in his policy of “my way or the highway.” When George W. Bush had this approach, we hated it. Sanders focuses on one solution; Clinton looks for alternatives. He pushed her to support his one position on Social Security and then ridiculed her because she provided alternatives. Clinton looks for compromises; Sanders has said that compromise is important, but he refuses the middle ground.

Clinton knows that passing a $15 minimum wage for the entire country when the federal wage is currently $7.25 is impossible without increments, but Sanders ridicules her when she says that $12, a 40 percent increase, could be a beginning. Oregon, for example, discovered that even with a Democratic legislature and governor, the importance of a compromise to put the minimum wage at a sliding scale from $14.75 in the largest urban area to $12.50 in rural areas. We hate Congress because it won’t compromise; we need to accept it in a president.

Every speech that Sanders makes incorporates his complaint that Clinton takes money from Wall Street, but he never explains how she has supported Wall Street. As far back as 2007 Clinton introduced the American Home Ownership Preservation Act to try to save people from the housing bubble that most politicians refused to recognize. At the same time, she warned about the danger of derivatives and issued calls to eliminate the so-called carried interest loophole, roll back the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and place limits on chief executives’ compensation. She still has plans to regulate Wall Street, but they are complicated. The slogan of “takes money from Wall Street” is easier as a sound bite.

Sanders has no plans on how to carry out his visionary, grandiose plans. In every Clinton town hall, she addresses questions from the audience in how to accomplish her plans, but Sanders has no suggestions beyond how important his ideas are. Yes, they are vital to the survival of 90 percent of people in the United States, but the problem is how to achieve them.

Sanders doesn’t do his homework. The Washington Post ran the headline “Clinton questions whether Sanders is qualified to be president,” but she didn’t say that. Yet Sanders leaped on the media’s translation of Clinton’s carefully parsed answer on The Morning Joe Show and accused Clinton of being unqualified—useful fodder for the GOP if Clinton should become the Democratic presidential candidate. Her conclusion was that “I think he hadn’t done his homework,” and Sanders proved this with his response. Clinton’s actual statements are here.     

Most recently, Sanders accused Clinton of an illegal fundraising scheme, using “proof” from a Washington Post article from two years earlier than doesn’t list any specific misdeeds. Yet he didn’t take his complaints to the FEC, the appropriate agency to investigate election wrongdoings, but instead contacted the DNC. Thirty minutes after his accusations, his campaign used the allegations in a new fundraising message. Now the issue has disappeared.

Early in the campaign, Sanders appeared reasonable, and the two were able to discuss issues in their debates. The more votes that Sanders got, the angrier he became. In the most recent debate, he consistently interrupted her after waving his hand in the air and failed to let her answer questions directed to her while ridiculing her, and repeating his standard one-issue position that she takes money from Wall Street. The Washington Post described Sanders with such terms as “caustic, angry and bitter” and “dripping sarcasm and ironic snark.” Unfortunately, it lowered the debate to the level of the Republicans’ cage fights.

Sanders admits that he is a one-issue candidate—income inequality. (Actually, two issues when one considers his positions with his concern about climate change.) He made that obvious after Donald Trump’s far-right statement about punishing women for having abortions by criticizing Trump’s comments as a distraction from the “serious issues” facing the country. Sanders didn’t address concerns from minorities until he was pushed into doing so, and, despite his high record in voting for women’s rights, has not shown himself a leader in this area. he also demonstrates ignorance about foreign affairs, something about which Clinton is well versed.

Someone else is always to blame for Sanders’ losing votes—the media ignores him, blacks support Clinton, closed primaries, the poor don’t vote, etc. He was highly critical about Clinton collecting super delegates early in the race, a technique that she learned after Barack Obama did the same thing in 2008. More recently, however, Sanders’ campaign said that he would try to get these delegates even if Clinton won the popular vote and the assigned delegates.

Sanders has a big problem with his “passionate” followers trolling women journalists who support Clinton and call them sexist terms. They also harass delegates, threatening them if they don’t vote for Sanders. A speaker at Sanders’ Manhattan rally lambasted “corporate Democratic whores.” Sanders isn’t responsible for his followers, but he also doesn’t criticize them.

The “political revolution” can’t happen without support at the polls, and some of his followers aren’t helping him there. In Wisconsin, he warned against electing a far-right state supreme court justice who applies her religious views to her judicial rulings and protects Gov. Scott Walker from any judicial problems, but 15 percent of voters for Sanders ignored everyone else on the ballot. Young people promised a revolution in 2008, and they allowed the Tea Party to take over two years later. These Sanders’ supporters couldn’t even be bothered to help with the revolution when they had their ballots in their hands.

While Sanders and others decry Clinton’s “honesty,” Politifact judges Clinton higher on the Truth-O-Meter. In True or Mostly True, Clinton has 95 ratings, and Sanders has 49.  Although more of Clinton’s statements have been rated than those from Sanders, she still comes out with higher ratings.

When I told a young woman I was voting for Clinton, she said, “But Clinton voted for DOMA (Defense of Marriage).” I pointed out that she was First Lady, not senator, when that passed and that women should not be blamed for what their husbands do. The woman said that it was still Clinton’s fault because she had a great deal of influence over her husband. During the Clinton administration, however, the First Lady was constantly criticized for being too liberal, a socialist when compared to her husband’s centrist agenda. She and her aides were known as “the Bolsheviks” by economists.

One problem I have with Clinton is her strong support of Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet Sanders has been very neutral until his supporters gave him the go-ahead to support Palestine. He was praised for not speaking at the AIPAC meeting, but he requested that he address the meeting via video link. AIPAC President Robert Cohen refused. As Nicholas Sawaya pointed out, “[Sanders] record on key issues in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice falls well short.”

When my ballot arrives, I’m marking it for Hillary Clinton. She’s careful, doesn’t jump to conclusions, and has a wealth of information to use in making decisions. She considers alternatives and doesn’t lose her temper. Her diplomacy is known throughout the world. She also stands for the same things that Sanders does, but she will be better at accomplishing these tasks. Forty-one senators have endorsed Clinton, showing her potential for working with Congress. Only one senator has endorsed Sanders. (A list of Clinton endorsements are here.) More of my reasons for voting for Clinton.

 

October 12, 2015

Time for Native American Day

Today is Columbus Day. The federal holiday has caused millions and millions of children to be taught myths as truth because President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Knights of Columbus a gift of a federal holiday honoring a Catholic man. Evidence shows that Leif Eriksson led a band of Vikings to North American five centuries before 1492 and established a settlement before the indigenous peoples drove them off. It is also thought that Irish monks, the Chinese, Africans, and others “discovered” the continent before Columbus—a place already discovered by the people who had moved to the New World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 to 15,000 years earlier. Even when Columbus died, 16 years after he landed on the island, he thought he had found a path to Asia, his original purpose. But still, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus.

The first Columbus Day celebration in the United States was in New York in 1792 to honor Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea. It was to honor Italian-Americans because people believed Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, instead of Spain’s Catalonia region. One-hundred years later, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking people to celebrate the day with patriotic festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage. In 1971, the national holiday established in 1937 was moved to the second Monday in October as the U.S. decided three-day weekends are important.

About the Taino people who Columbus encountered, he wrote, “With 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish. [They were] fit to be ordered about, to sow, and do everything else that may be needed.” A former slave trader, Columbus captured “seven head of women, young ones and adults, and three small children” to take back to Spain.

Columbus’ journals of his voyages document graphic acts of rape and brutality. He and his men chopped off the hands of Taino slaves who failed to get a daily quota of gold, and female slaves were forced to leave their babies on the road sides. Spanish conquistadors bet who could chop a Taino body in half with just one blow. In 1499, Columbus was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain.

History has described Columbus as “self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and racist,” and he left a legacy of death, pillage, and rape of the land filled with colonialism, enslavement, discrimination, and land grabs. Thanks to people who followed Columbus, one-third of Native Americans died of disease—chicken pox, measles, cholera, malaria, typhoid, bubonic plague, etc.

People who think that the indigenous people in the United States no longer suffer as they have in the past need to consider what the government is doing to them in the 21st century. Native Americans didn’t get the right to vote in 1924 because the Fourteenth Amendment excluded Indians. Yet states found ways to keep Indians from voting for most of the 20th century through methods such as literacy tests. Despite lawsuits, some states refuse to recognize tribal IDs for voting and will not set up satellite polling locations on reservations, forcing Indians to drive as far as 163 miles or even to fly to a polling place. No access to early voting makes the process even more difficult.

White men are still allowed to abuse Indian youth. Last year, 57 Lakota students between 8 and 13 were rewarded for academic achievements by attending a hockey match in Rapid City (SD). At the game, a group of men in an executive suite poured beer over their heads and shouted, “Go back to the Rez!” Only one perpetrator faced criminal charges, and he was acquitted when a judge declared that the beer was just sprayed in excitement over a goal. The children are afraid to leave the reservation now.

Until last April, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services routinely placed Native children in white foster homes while denying Indian parents and guardians any due process rights in the hearing process. Parents were not allowed to examine evidence or cross-examine witnesses in hearings that sometimes lasted less than one minute, on average less than five minutes. One judge, Jeff Davis, ruled against Indian parents every time. Judges also told parents that their jurisdictions could ignore the law. An average of 740 Indian children was taken from their homes each year, some of them sexually abused in their foster homes.

Years ago, Indian children were taken from reservations and sent to “schools” where they were forced away from their culture. Putting children into white foster homes serves and same purpose, and white entitlement in the United States supports this “assimilation.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), currently a GOP presidential candidate, said that if Native Americans were “assimilated,” that it would take only a decade for them to “probably be doing as well as the rest of us.” That’s his excuse for taking all the reservation lands and forget the way that white people refused to “assimilate” to the native culture of the country where they committed genocide.

Governments are still taking land away from Native Americans. For example, a section in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act transferred the San Carlos Apache tribe’s sacred area of Oak Flat in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to mining company Resolution Copper. The land had been protected since 1955 when President Eisenhower declared it closed to mining because of its cultural and natural value, and President Nixon’s administration renewed the decree in 1971. Mining will destroy the area, but Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake supported the land grab after they received contributions from Rio Tinto, mining company’s parent corporation. Flake was also a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium in Namibia before being elected to Congress.

When Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe protested the removal of his tribe’s land, Arizona’s 4th District Rep. Paul Gosar told him, “You’re still wards of the federal government.” Gosar was repeating the position that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall took in the 1830s. Although Congress controls Indian affairs, tribes are known as sovereign nations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ website describes the federal government as trustee of Indian property, not the guardian of all American Indians and Alaska Natives.

McCain has a history of taking Indian land. In 1974, Senator John McCain wrote the 1974 Relocation Act which moved over 14,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi from their homelands to the site of a uranium mining accident in Chambers (AZ) where they developed lung cancer and their babies were born with birth defects. The excuse was to settle a land dispute between the two tribes, but the real purpose was to exploit mineral resources by creating two of the biggest coal strip mines in the nation. Ceasing operations in 2005, the mine left a 273-mile abandoned coal-slurry pipeline and 325 million tons of climate pollution in the atmosphere.

The state of Michigan wants to give 13,000 acres (about 20 square miles) of Native American treaty land to a Canadian company to develop a limestone mine. The state will get $4.53 million. It’s not a done deal yet, but Native Americans must fight for their land.

Like other minorities, Native Americans are victimized by the U.S. justice system with an incarceration rate 38 percent higher than the national average and four times the rate of white men. Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group and fall victim to violent crime at more than double all other citizens. While Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is by non-Native perpetrators. Native American youths are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped.

A movement to honor Native Americans on October 12 has been growing in the past decades. Both Hawaii and the Bahamas call October 12, “Discovery Day,” and South Dakota began to use the term Native American Day in 1989. In 1992, Berkeley (CA) changed the name to Indigenous Peoples Day. Nine cities—including Albuquerque, Portland (OR), and Olympia (WA)—have followed suit. It’s not much, but it’s a start to recognize white entitlement, the belief that nothing has value or exists unless a white man is in charge. That’s a belief that may become more predominant in states such as South Dakota, which not longer requires Native American history to be taught in the public schools. Schools that do teach Indian history treat the subject as if Native Americans are gone—that they no longer exist. But that’s what many white people want.

July 28, 2015

Oregon, Model for State Legislatures

After the Oregon legislature finished five months of work earlier this year, the conservative Oregonian published an editorial titled “2015 Legislative Session Will be Remembered More for Failures.” The writer lamented what was not accomplished–the lack of raising the gas tax, inability to increase the minimum wage, and allowing “rural communities exceptions to land-use policies in certain circumstances.”

The sometimes more liberal Register-Guard followed with the same moaning a few weeks later, repeating the failure of a plan to pay for repair of the state’s infrastructure. Both papers are correct in the frustration of not advancing this one issue although the fault came from Republicans, upset because a low-carbon fuels program due to sunset this year was extended to reduce carbon content of fuels by ten percent in the next ten years.

The gas tax is important, but both editorials ignored the fact that the 2015 Oregon legislature passed, and Gov. Kate Brown signed, 689 progressive laws in five months while the U.S. Congress managed only 40 percent that number in all of 2014. This happened at the same time that many other states passed a majority of regressive laws. These states should use Oregon as a model for ways to benefit women and children.

Highlights:

Schools: Without raising taxes, the legislature increased the K-12 budget by 25 percent since 2011 and provided funding for all-day kindergarten for all Oregon children. State community colleges got a 20-percent increase, and universities did better at 30-percent increase. Knowing that the suspension and expulsion can lead to prison, new laws limit school suspension in grades 5 and lower and stops expulsion being used for truancy. Hunger keeps students from learning so all students eligible for reduced-price lunches will now receive their meals free, and students may count time for getting their free breakfasts as instructional time. Students can attend community colleges free if they meet certain criteria, and students brought into the state who pay in-state tuition are eligible for grants.

Youth: The Oregon Health Authority is required to establish and maintain a list of chemicals of concern for children’s health used in children’s products.

Gun Sense: While other states make their laws more lax, Oregon passed laws to keep the possession of guns from domestic violence offenders and people subject to domestic abuse restraining orders. Federal background checks are required for all private gun sales except between family members.

Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence/Stalking/Other Sex Crimes: A number of laws should make life safer for victims of these crimes. Release orders for defendants charged with sex crimes or domestic violence must prohibit attempted contact with victim and third-party contact with victim while defendant is in custody. Personal support workers and home care workers are added to the list of mandatory reporters of abuse of children, elderly persons and other vulnerable persons, and short term, emergency protection orders for victims are available on a 24 hour, 7-day a week basis.

Stalking victims no longer have to pay fees to get a protective restraining order. Rape charges can be made for 12 years after the alleged crime. The posting of naked photos of lovers or partners on the Internet without their permission with the intent to humiliate or ruin reputations is prohibited. Upskirting—intentionally photographing a person’s “intimate areas”–is prohibited in all cases as is setting up hidden cameras in places where privacy is presumed—a crime now a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

Victims are now free to access support and advocacy without fear of disclosure. Conversations between sexual-assault survivors and specially trained advocates are private. Patients can redirect their explanation of benefit documents away from the policyholder to keep medical information private from others such as parents and abusive or estranged spouses. Oregon universities, colleges and community colleges must give sexual-assault victims written information on their rights, legal options, campus services, confidentiality policies, school disciplinary procedures and off-campus resources.

Low-Income Relief: Tax credits for low-income families have been expanded for another six years. Seniors and other Oregonians surviving on Social Security Housing and other income exempt from collections will not be subject to collection of unpaid state income taxes. In another law that helps low-income people, unclaimed damage awards from class-action lawsuits will be directed to the Oregon State Bar’s legal-aid fund. Community Services Department may use moneys in Housing Development and Guarantee Account for housing for persons with low or very low income, and a new law provides $40 million to build hundreds of affordable housing units for low-income people and $25 million to build housing focused on people with mental illness.

LGBTQ Issues: Oregon became the third state to ban mental health therapy to change sexual orientation or gender identity for anyone younger than 18 and the first state to provide help to veterans discharged because of their sexual orientation. A coordinator will help LGBT veterans change their discharge status and access benefits since the repeal of illegal status because of sexual orientation as well as providing outreach and assistance to spouses and dependents of these veterans. The Oregon no longer uses the word “husband and wife.” All these references have been changed to “spouses in a legal marriage” in the state code.

Employment: A significant win in Oregon is paid sick leave for all state and private employers with ten or more employees. Each person will receive one hour per 30 hours of work up to 56 hours of annual paid sick leave. Employers cannot punish employees who ask or give information about wage information. In another important law called “Ban the Box,” employers are forbidden to ask about criminal history on a job application. Workplace rights for domestic workers have been extended to overtime pay, rest periods, and paid personal time off. Employees on family leave must receive the continuation of group health insurance coverage.

Health & Safety Issues: All people with ongoing medical prescriptions can get a 90-day supply, and insurers must pay for a 12-month supply of contraceptives to qualifying women. Hospitals who rely on certified nurse midwives will have to give them admitting privileges. Homes and schools have a 60-foot, no-spray buffer from herbicide spraying. In an attempt to fight the result of “bomb trains” carrying volatile fuel, the Oregon State Fire Marshal will be in charge of and receive funding for coordinating outreach, developing a spill response plan, and conducting exercises, training, and support in the area of train safety. (HB 3225)

Law Enforcement: The Department of Corrections will continue the Family Preservation Project for parent inmates at Coffee Creek for ongoing contact with children and extend the program at other prisons. This program has been highly successful in keeping parents from returning to prison after they are released. Some non-violent custodial parent offenders may have the alternative of intense supervised probation so that they can keep their children. Police cannot target suspects based on age, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, gender, sex, political affiliation, religion or other identifying factors–unless the officer is acting on precise information from a report.

Voting: Another first for the nation is the “Motor Voter” law that automatically registers Oregon (with an opt-out window) for voting with the data on driver’s license records.

gomberg 2Everyone in Oregon should be proud of living in a state where the legislature protects and serves the residents. At the end of the five-month session, my representative, David Gomberg, described the session as “one of the more challenging and productive in recent memory.” Challenging, I don’t know, but productive, certainly. In addition to the laws that were passed, the Oregon legislation rejected laws that would overturn Jackson County’s ban on GMOS and several laws that would make the gun laws more lax in the state, including a reciprocity agreement with other states that do not do careful background checks on gun sales.

Thank you, Oregon!

More information about laws in the 2015 Oregon Legislature here and here.

November 3, 2014

Election 2014 Results Announced Tomorrow

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:25 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The NRA claims that it just wants to keep guns in the hands of people for hunting and an occasional protection from house break-ins. In the organization’s most recent issue of America’s 1st Freedom publication, Wayne LaPierre has gone over the edge in trying to terrify NRA members. He claims that people in the United States face these terrors:

  • An electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP) that can kill “as much as 90 percent of the population of the U.S.” through the reemergence of “Third World” diseases such as “amoebic dysentery, typhoid, [and] cholera–killing our youngest and frailest family members.”
  • A cyber attack that can put “our economy into a tailspin” and become “deadly” if hackers take over a dam or oil processing facility.
  • An attack “along the lines of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, where terrorists launched a dozen coordinated attacks, gunning down innocent victims at hotels, a bar, a train station, a hospital and a movie theater,” killing 164 people.
  • An incident similar to a 2013 terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya where “[f]our armed terrorists linked to al Qaeda were able–thanks to Kenya’s strict anti-gun laws–to spend four days torturing, mutilating and gunning down shoppers with almost no fear of reprisal.”

Every proposed disaster—meteor strike, meteor strike, a solar flare, mall terrorists, crop failures, roving Mexican drug gangs—ends with the chance to kill people. The NRA wants gun-friendly candidates, not to have guns for hunting but to have weapons that give everyone the chance to kill people without government interference.

New Hampshire State GOP chairman Jennifer Horn calls for more GOP violence in describing its campaigning against Democrats:

 “This is our time. We need to crush it. We need to grab it, run with it, push their heads under over and over again until they cannot breathe anymore, until the elections are over Tuesday night.”

Sen. Rand Paul believes in voter suppression but wants the GOP candidates to stop talking about how they want to suppress minority and low-income voters’ input to their elected representatives:

 “It doesn’t mean that I think [photo ID is] unreasonable, I just think it’s a dumb idea for Republicans to emphasize this and say ‘this is how we are going to win the elections.”

On Face the Nation, Paul told Bob Schieffer, “I’m not really opposed to [voter ID laws]. I am opposed to it as a campaign theme.”

On the accuracy of the candidate polling for tomorrow’s election:

According to the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the two major political parties are almost neck-and-neck in which party should control Congress: 46 percent want the GOP to have the control, and 45 percent prefer the Democrats. Yet a poll of registered voters, Democrat control is four points ahead of the GOP: 46 percent to 42 percent. State-wide polling shows the same schism between likely and registered voters. In Iowa, Democrat Bruce Braley leads six points in the senate race against Joni Ernst but trails for two points among likely voters. Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan leads by two points with likely voters but by six points with registered voters.

For the Election Day poll-watching junkies, here are the closing times of polls across the United States:

Poll_closing_times_map_-_Nov._4__2014

There are some of the races that I’m watching:

6 PM ET: Kentucky – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pitched against Alison Lundergan Grimes.

7 PM ET: Florida – incumbent Gov. Rick Scott against former GOP (now Democrat) Charlie Crist.

Georgia – Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, opposing incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal; Michelle Nunn trying to change one senate member to a Democrat over red, send-jobs-out-of-the-country David Perdue. A runoff is required if not one gets over 50 percent in these races.

New Hampshire – carpet-bagger and former MA senator, Scott Brown, trying to take out Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

South Carolina- question of whether GOP incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley keeps her job.

7:30 PM ET: North Carolina – Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan working to keep her lead against Thom Tillis.

8 PM ET: Kansas – possibly the biggest upset in the nation if Democrats win against Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Robertson. Part of the state won’t finish voting until an hour later.

Maine – A Democrat and moderate independent against incumbent GOP Gov. Paul LePage.

Massachusetts – Democrat Martha Coakley fighting to be the governor, a position that she’s lost before.

Michigan – GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, famous for putting dictators into cities and other municipalities, trying to keep his job, and GOP Terri Lynn Land trying to buy a seat in the senate.

Pennsylvania – Democrat Tom Wolf likely to beat out Gov. Tom Corbett (fingers crossed!).

8:30 pm ET: Arkansas – Sen. Mark Pryor classified the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the country up against the Koch brothers Tom Cotton.

9 PM ET: Arizona – Rep. Ron Barber, aide to Rep. Gabby Gifford when she was shot, fighting GOP Martha McSally for a second term.

Colorado – Sen. Mark Udall struggling to keep his blue seat against a personhood candidate.

Louisiana – Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu likely to face a runoff when neither candidates get more than 50 percent.

Wisconsin – GOP Gov. Scott Walker in another tight race against Mary Burke.

10 PM ET: Iowa – the question about whether the pig castrating, shoot-people-who-disagree-with-her GOP senate Joni Ernst can win.

11 PM ET: Washington & Oregon – more questions about initiatives than candidates.

12/1 am ET: Alaska – the struggle with Sen. Mark Begich keeping his seat.

I’m lucky: I dropped my ballot off today with no stress—no photo ID and no standing in lines. When Oregon started this voting process, I worried about coercion from spouses and churches in completing ballots. Watching the rest of the country—for example, the way that North Carolina computers are changing Democrat votes to Republican—I’m grateful that I’m living in a state that believes in citizen representation in elections.

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