Nel's New Day

August 26, 2017

DDT: Thirty-One – The King of Mean

Today, August 26, 2017, commemorates Women’s Equality Day, the anniversary of the 19th Amendment (1920) awarding the women the right to vote. As this analysis shows, last year’s proclamation from President Obama was about ways to make life better for women in the United States. This year’s statement from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) discussed women in relationship to men and focused on women in the economy. To keep the rights that the current administration is taking from women—and men—people need to evaluate candidates’ histories and political positions instead of believing the lies delivered on the campaign trail.   

The “Friday dump” refers to news released during the last day of the work week with the hopes that no one will notice. In yesterday’s case, the news was also consumed with the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 disaster that displaced 16 million people—five percent of the nation’s population—with either the hurricane or ensuing tropical storm. Unfortunately for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), at least three big stories still made the headlines.

During his campaign, DDT said that he was far more protective of LGBT people than his opponent, Hillary Clinton. This past week, he signed an order to prevent transgender people from joining the military and to stop payment for sex reassignment surgeries for military members. Transgender service members are in limbo because Defense Secretary Jim Mattis can tell any transgender military members that they cannot stay in the service.

In a support of white supremacy,  DDT pardoned the Arizona county sheriff who violated a federal judge’s order ordering him to stop illegally detaining people solely based on Latino appearance. DDT’s endorsement of Joe Arpaio endorses the former sheriff’s discrimination and favors a political supporter who supporter DDT’s racist conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States. Martin Redish, a constitutional law expert, gave his perspective before the pardon was a fait accompli:

“Should the president indicate that he does not think Mr. Arpaio should be punished for [violating constitutional rights in defiance of a court order], he would signal that governmental agents who violate judicial injunctions are likely to be pardoned, even though their behavior violated constitutional rights, when their illegal actions are consistent with presidential policies….

“If the president signals to government agents that there exists the likelihood of a pardon when they violate a judicial injunction that blocks his policies, he can all too easily circumvent the only effective means of enforcing constitutional restrictions on his behavior. Indeed, the president could even secretly promise a pardon to agents if they undertake illegal activity he desires.”

Arizona’s GOP senior senator, John McCain, said DDT’s pardon “undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law” because Arpaio “was guilty of criminal contempt” and “has shown no remorse for his actions.” A more muted statement from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was still critical. The pardon meets none of DOJ’s guidelines: five years past prison release or conviction if no prison time, expression of remorse, and an application to the Office of Pardon Attorney. DDT’s pardon for Arpaio’s horrific actions demonstrates open white nationalist rule in the U.S.

Last spring, DDT asked AG Jeff Sessions to drop the case against Arpaio, but Sessions said he couldn’t interfere in the federal case. DDT then decided to pardon Arpaio if he were convicted.

Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka has left the White House. He claims that he resigned, but a White House official indicated his departure was not voluntary. Gorka’s wife, Katharine, is still national security adviser and working to eliminate a $400,000 DHS grant to Life after Hate founded by former white supremacists who renounced racist ideology and help help others transition out of hate groups and re-assimilate into society. Gorka’s aim is to put all funding toward fighting “radical Islamic terrorism.” DHS also revoked funding from the Muslim Public Affairs Council, an American Muslim advocacy organization for an approved $393,800 grant to create community resource centers throughout the country. Like her husband, Katharine Gorka pushes conspiracy theories about the Muslim Brotherhood infiltrating the government and media.

Also gone from the White House is Andy Hemming, the director of rapid response. Hemming didn’t explain, but the WH said it was a “mutual decision.” He was responsible for circulating positive news articles about DDT, usually from the conservative media, to reporters. He’s the third member of the communications department, after Anthony Scaramucci and Michael Short, to leave within a month.

The last intelligence head to accuse Russia of meddling in the presidential election may lose control over cyber issues after DDT decided to separate the U.S. Cyber Command from the NSA. DDT is considered another general to lead the cyber agency National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers refused to deny DDT’s campaign collusion with Russia.

Navy Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin has already been fired “due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command” after four Navy accidents since last January, two of them with sailors missing or dead in two separate collisions. Addressing the ten missing sailors in the recent collision between a Navy destroyer and an oil tanker, DDT said, “That’s too bad.”  Sen. Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) said about DDT’s statement:

“There’s some attribute of his character that makes him seemingly incapable of introspection and a broad understanding of what the country really needs.”

In his continued pursuit of alienating congressional Republicans, DDT blamed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan for the “mess” surrounding the debt ceiling. Thursday’s tweets:

“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They…

“…didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!”

DDT was referencing the veterans bill that he signed last Wednesday which shortens the appeals process time for disability claims. The absolute deadline to raise the debt ceiling is September 29; the Treasury department has been fudging bill payment for months. Congress will have 12 contentious days after they return in September to solve the debt ceiling and pass a budget as well as address the tax cuts for the wealthy that DDT wants. No one knows when DDT made the suggestion to connect the two. McConnell had said, “There is zero chance—no chance—we won’t raise the debt ceiling.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants a “clean” vote, but conservatives want to include Democrat-opposed spending restrictions. The Senate bill needs support from at least eight Democrats.

Another DDT target last week was Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who said that DDT “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.” During DDT’s campaign, Corker had been considered a possible running mate, and after the inauguration, DDT’s secretary of state.  Of the eight GOP senators running for re-election in 2018, DDT has already attacked three of them—Corker, Flake, and Nevada’s Dean Heller—as well as opposing law year’s presidential candidate Ted Cruz from Texas.

The National Institutes of Health has removed the word “change” after the word “climate,” per administrative orders. Perhaps it’s DDT’s method of turning around climate change.

The Interior Department has stopped a study about health risks from mountaintop-removal coal mining that West Virginia officials had requested. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has also recommended shrinking the boundaries of some public land national monuments in a secret report to DDT. Watch for court and congressional fights. Nobody is sure what is happening because the two-page summary provides no information and his statement is only that he’s recommending size reductions for an unspecified “handful” of national monuments. Industries are sure that they will be opened up to mining, drilling, and killing the life on them.

Ronald Reagan will be inducted into the Labor Department’s Labor Hall of Honor. Reagan may have been a union leader while in Hollywood, but he fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers and decertified their union.

DDT may cause substandard care in nursing homes by blocking their residents from suing for injuries from bad care, abuse, or neglect. He can act on this by undoing the rule preventing nursing homes from requiring agreement to resolve disputes through arbitration instead of litigation.

Watch for another “Friday dump” this next week from DDT. The deadline to continue DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is September 5, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is considering DACA’s elimination, thus destroying the lives of almost 800,000 people involuntarily brought into the country as children by removing their work permits. The campaigning DDT said:

“We are gonna deal with DACA with heart…I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody.”

The economy would lose $460.3 billion in GDP over ten years without the 685,000 DACA workers, and DDT’s rejection of them would annually cost states billions of dollars in GDP–$1.3 billion in Arizona and $1.5 billion Florida. DACA supporters include Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and three-fourths of DDT supporters.

The U.S. is facing war around the planet—the Middle East, Venezuela, and North Korea for a few countries—plus Russian control of the U.S. election process, and DDT attacks transgender people and working Latinos.

August 26, 2013

Women’s Equality Day: Don’t Destroy Right To Vote

President Barack Obama has declared that today is Women’s Equality Day; 93 years ago the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, mandating that women in the United States can vote, became law, thanks to 24-year-old Harry Burn, a member of the Tennessee Assembly, and his mother, Mrs. J.L. Burn (Febb Ensminger) of Niota.

Proposed by Congress on June 14, 1919, the amendment needed ratification from a minimum of 36 states out of the existing 48. By Summer 1920, 35 states had approved the amendment. Three more states refused to call special sessions, but Tennessee met to vote on the proposed amendment. Burn was committed to vote against the ratification until he received a letter from his mother, which he held during the voting session on August 18, 1920. The letter read in part:

“Dear Son: Hurrah and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt! I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the “rat” in ratification. Your mother”

Burn’s “yea” vote broke the 48-48 tie, allowing the amendment to move into the U.S. Constitution. The next day he spoke to the House, telling them that his mother had asked him to vote in favor of the amendment and that she had always taught him that “a good boy always does what his mother asks him to do.”

Nine-three years after Burn voted for women’s suffrage, the constitutional right to vote is in danger. Within the past few years, 12 states passed laws requiring that voters show photo identification in order to vote, and another 13 states are considering this legislation. Other punitive laws include shortening the time to vote, restricting the number of precincts, limited voter registration, purging legitimate voters from registration, and putting hurdles in the way of voter reinstatement. It is estimated that at least 5 million legal voters may be disenfranchised from voting, despite the fact that voter fraud at the polls is almost non-existent.

Currently North Carolina is the epitome of voting restrictions, trying to prevent voting by college students although the Supreme Court ruled against this practice. Ironically, whenever Gov. Pat McCrory was asked about the specifics of these laws, he indicated that he didn’t know what was in them although he signed them.

These decisions from GOP-controlled county election boards are shown by the the one in Watauga County:

  • Eliminate the Appalachian State University (ASU) early one-stop voting site.
  • Outlaw any verbal public comment at Board meetings.
  • Require that the 27-year Elections Board Director not be allowed to meet with anyone in her office without supervision.
  • Mandate that anyone calling into the local BOE office have their names recorded.
  • Move the “New River” precinct (a heavily populated precinct in and around the town of Boone) out into the very corner of the precinct into a virtually unknown location and as far away from municipal voters as possible.
  • Combine three Boone precincts into one Super Precinct consisting of 9,300 voters and 35 parking spaces—and as far away from Appalachian State University as possible.

The Supreme Court ruling against the Voting Rights Act, allowing the Justice Department to allow punitive voting “reforms” from going into effect, is just one step to support the GOP plan to win elections by stopping Democrats from voting. A bigger problem is the opinion that Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in an Arizona case about its requirement that new voters present citizenship documents, stating that states—not Congress—decide who has the right to vote.

Also Bush v. Gore (2000), which appointed George W. Bush as president, ruled that U.S. citizens don’t have a constitutional right to vote for the president. State legislatures control that right through their legal ability to appoint presidential electors. The only control that the constitution has on voting is to ban discrimination on the basis of race (15th Amendment), sex (19th Amendment), and age (26th Amendment). In fact, when Susan Myrick explained the North Carolina law, she said, that people who went to the wrong precinct could use provisional ballots. She then said, “[The provisional ballot] probably won`t be counted.”

Not all Republicans are satisfied with the GOP attempt to stop voters. When former Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke in North Carolina, he said that the state’s voting restrictions are bad for the public—and the Republican Party.

“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote. It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away. You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud. How can it be widespread and undetected?”

Dallas County is the first county in Texas to request an injunction against the state’s voter ID law. By a 3-2 vote, the commissioners’ court stated that the requirements would disenfranchise thousands of eligible voters. A hearing is set for September 27 with a trial possibly next summer. Meanwhile, several counties have either had or are scheduling elections.

Texas is already trying to defend itself against a federal lawsuit because a federal court has found that the state used racial discrimination to draw its district lines. Texas AG Greg Abbott’s defense uses the claim that the state drew the lines in an effort to win the elections: “[i]n 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats.”

Following is a letter that I wrote to my local newspaper. Readers are welcome to use any part of it that they wish to educate their community about the voter suppression in the United States:

“To the Editor:

“Seventy-one years ago, 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton was one of the first blacks in North Carolina to pass a literacy test allowing her to vote. In the year of her first vote, 1942, women in the United States had been able to vote for 22 years after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution became law on August 26, 1920—42 years after it was first proposed.

“Now, 93 years after women earned the vote, more females vote than men, but state voter-suppression laws are threatening women with loss of the vote by demanding photo ID at the polls. The argument for these draconian laws is voter fraud. Misrepresentation at the polls, however, has averaged one case each year for the past ten years. On the other hand, photo ID laws disenfranchise millions of voters.

“Eaton is one of those. Her name on her birth certificate differs from the name on her driver’s license and voter registration card, and taking care of this problem will require excessive time and money. For example, when 91-year-old Virginia Lasser went to the Tennessee department of motor vehicles to get a photo ID, she found a line of 100 people in front of her, no place for her to sit, and no help from state workers even after she asked. Lasater has voted and worked on campaigns for 70 years.

“Dorothy Cooper, 96, took a number of documents, including her birth certificate, to get a photo ID, but the birth certificate had her maiden name. She was denied, despite the fact that she voted under the Jim Crow laws of the 20th century.

“Viviette Applewhite, 93, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago but can’t get a photo ID because her papers were stolen from her purse. She paid the fees to the state of Pennsylvania for a birth certificate but still wasn’t able to get it.

“Many elderly people don’t have birth certificates because they were born at home. Some states require a birth certificate to get a photo ID, but people cannot get a birth certificate without a photo ID. The certificates also cost between $7 and $30, a large amount of money for the very poor.

“The voter suppression laws don’t refer specifically to women, but that gender is affected in greater numbers than men. Most men have not changed their names since they were born and are more likely to have documents from their work and their military service. Women who worked as domestics are far less likely to have Social Security cards and drivers’ licenses than men.

“Only 66 percent of voting-age women with proof of citizenship have a document with their current legal names. Also 52 percent of women don’t have their legal names on their birth certificates. In some states, women are required to bring both their birth certificates and documents proving legal citizenship—twice as many documents as men have to bring to the polls in order to vote.

“At this time, over a dozen states have photo ID laws, and another 15 have pending legislation or laws that are being questioned in court. With the Supreme Court decision that states can make any restrictive laws that they wish, that situation may change. Currently, Oregon is the only state in the nation that requires vote by mail although occasionally politicians consider changing the law, using the argument that many other activities such as buying alcohol or flying require photo ID. We hope that they will remember that transportation and purchases are not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution; voting is.

“If you are one of the people in the United States who think there is no problem in obtaining the necessary photo ID in states with these laws, you are a member of the elite. The women of the United States and of Oregon celebrate the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and Oregon’s voting laws that give us equality in the voting process.

You can commemorate Women’s Equality Day by spreading the word about voter suppression in the United States.

August 26, 2012

The Vote – Use It or Lose It!

Today is Women’s Equality Day. Ninety-two years ago today, women throughout the United States gained the right to vote because 36 states approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. For the last few generations, women have taken this right for granted, sometimes not even voting. Now a majority of the states have decided to restrict the right to vote, particularly the right of women to vote.

When women change their last name after marriage, updating documents for photo ID may not be simple. A survey from the Brennan Center for Justice shows that only 48 percent of all voting-age women without ready access to their U.S. birth certificates have birth certificates with their current legal name. I know that mine doesn’t. Of the women who have easy access to any proof of citizenship, only 66 percent of voting-age women have a document with their current legal name. Therefore as many as 32 million voting-age women may have no document available that confirms both their citizenship and their current name. Beyond that are women who might use nicknames on a document that doesn’t match their birth certificates.

Those who support mandated photo IDs are fond of pointing out how buying alcohol, flying, entering some buildings, etc., etc. all require photo IDs. They are missing the most important difference between these activities and voting: everything that they cite as requiring photo IDs is a privilege; voting is a right. Or it should be.

During this past year, white males have worked harder than ever to silence women’s voices. Rush Limbaugh called a woman who argued for contraception a slut. This was after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) refused to let any women speak at a hearing on contraception. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) presented his ridiculous explanation of how raped women can’t get pregnant. In censuring a female colleague for using the word “vagina” during floor debate, Michigan Rep. Wayne Schmidt compared it to “giving the kid a time out for a day.”

Fox‘s Andrea Tantaros said, “No woman should aspire to be [Sandra Fluke].” Earlier this summer, Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the morning show Fox & Friends, said, “Women are everywhere. We’re letting them play golf and tennis now. It’s out of control.”

Despite the  Women’s Equality Day, women certainly have not achieved equality. The U.S. places 79th in the world in rankings of the number of women political leaders behind countries like Sudan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Cambodia, and Bolivia. One of our country’s political parties is determined to deny women equal pay for equal work, prevent family leave, stop organizations (including Planned Parenthood) that provide free care for women, block contraception, outlaw abortion, keep lesbians from being included in the Violence against Women Act, and destroy Medicare and Medicaid which disproportionately affects women. In fact, Limbaugh has said that what’s wrong with this country is women voting.

The term “Women’s Equality Day” was coined in 1971 by the federal government at a time when women had less equality than now. The homage paid to Neil Armstrong since his death last week brings up the little-known fact that women tested for this first voyage to the moon but were denied the opportunity.

Jerri Truhill, one of this group called Mercury 13, said in an NPR interview in 2007, “It was very grueling. It was very painful. As a matter fact, some of the tests, we were told, we came out better than the men did as far as being suited for spaceflight.” The Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight by Martha Ackmann is a book for youth that gives details about the project and the women who participated.

The excuse for stopping the testing was that women didn’t meet the educational educational requirements, those that prevented women from participation. On the other hand, John Glenn was excused from one of these requirements, a necessary college degree. A woman was not accepted into the astronaut program until 17 years later with Sally Ride’s inclusion in 1978. Women are still struggling for military equality, and Republicans now want  to remove them from combat situations.

As Madeline Albright wrote, “Women will never go back to the days where we could not control our own reproductive health care decisions–and we will not remain silent in the face of vicious misogyny and anti-women hate speech.” Yet she added that “rights never stay won” and that “[e]ach generation must stand up and fight to hold accountable those who would try to take our rights away.”

If women want to keep control over themselves, we need to vote and think what we’re voting to preserve or gain.

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