Nel's New Day

August 15, 2017

White Supremacy: The Party of Trump

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Every day, I hope that I can address something other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in my blog posts, but every day, he becomes more and more disgusting. When he was elected and inaugurated, well-meaning people—and others—called for time to give him a chance. Almost thirty weeks after he took over the United States, he has shown himself to be worse and worse. Today was a low point in the past 206 days. It doesn’t mean that we have hit rock bottom, but we are sinking into a giant cesspool with fecal material added every day. DDT added another general to the White House nine days ago. John Kelly (left) was supposed to bring some order and discipline surrounding DDT, but situations have only worsened in the ten days since he became DDT’s chief of staff. Today he just hung his head during DDT’s press conference today at Trump Tower, the first time that DDT has gone to this home since he was inaugurated.

After complaints about the lack of press conferences during his 200+ days, DDT has started holding them since he began his vacation at Bedminster (NJ) on August 4. As with his rallies, his responses are filled with insults and slurs before he walks out in anger when he doesn’t like the questions. Today’s meeting with reporters was supposedly about infrastructure, but DDT focused on protecting white supremacists and attacking the counter-protesters in Charlottesville last weekend when three people died and 35 were injured.

DDT had veered from his Saturday statement that blaming people “on many sides” to yesterday’s forced statement written by someone else that cited responsible groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis. When a reporter asked him today why he waited to blame white supremacists for the violence, he unleashed his “fire and fury” in his attacks on everyone except his small white supremacist base.

In an attempt to appear presidential, he started out by saying that he didn’t blame the white supremacists on Saturday because of his natural caution—an approach that he has never taken. DDT said, “I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.” An examination of his past reactions reveals that he never shows any “caution” if the perpetrator appears to be a member of a racial or religious minority, for example calling a robbery at a casino in the Philippines an act of terrorism.

DDT’s customary incoherence appeared when he was asked about whether he would call Heather Heyer’s death from a white supremacist who sped his car into a crowd as terrorism. He said he would call it “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict,” whatever that means.

The “alt-left” is now being used by conservatives as a pejorative term for people who support diversity, and DDT joined the white supremacists in using this term and accused them of being “very, very violent.” Conservatives hope that their new term for progressives will make it on the same level as the racist “alt-right” in their effort to shut down their protests against white supremacy.

DDT claims that within the crowd of neo-Nazis and white supremacists are “very fine people.” He said, “If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, talking about the torch-lit procession changing the Nazi “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” He speaks as if he were actually a part of the crowd. DDT’s justification of the white supremacists’ actions is that they are protecting statues of people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson—treasonous military leaders who declared war against the United States—with American Revolution leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He accused protesters of trying to “change history” and “change culture.”

The last question DDT took as he left the podium was whether he planned to visit Charlottesville. He said: “Do you know I own a house in Charlottesville? I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, that’s in Charlottesville.”

It’s all about Donald.

The morning before the press conference, DDT retweeted a violent image of a train running down a CNN reporter. Fifteen minutes later the tweet disappeared from his Twitter feed but has stayed on the internet. This act follows the death of a woman in Charlottesville Saturday morning after she was deliberately struck by a car driven by a white supremacist and after another heated exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

A senior White House official described the DDT at the press conference as a person out of control, subject to personal instincts and whims. “That was all him — this wasn’t our plan,” the official said. Another person described him as “distracted” and “irritable” in his interactions with top aides since his statement yesterday. He was angry about what he perceived as his unfair treatment, feeling that he had already given in too much to opponents, and sympathized with “protesters” who defended their “heritage.” The resignation of four CEOs from his manufacturing advisory committee only fueled his fury.

DDT has energized white supremacists. After his press conference, former KKK leader David Duke tweeted,

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer wrote, “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth.”

The White House leaped to present GOP lawmakers with their talking points (aka marching orders) regarding DDT’s position on the left along with a transcript of his comments at the press conference in case they were lucky enough to miss it.

These are some of the “fine people” who DDT protects. Four white supremacists beat up 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, an instructional assistant in a special education class who called out “Go home! Leave town!” The white supremacists left him with a concussion, broken wrist, and chipped tooth. Harris is alive only because his friends saved him. The photograph is available because of one man’s bravery. One of the men pointed a 9mm pistol or a Glock semi-automatic at photographer Zach D. Roberts, but Roberts took the photo anyway. The man ran when he heard the click of the camera three feet away. The police did not help Harris, nor did it reach out to Roberts for any photos. One of the white supremacists may, however, be Michael Ramos who unsuccessfully tried to delete Facebook admissions of his beating Harris. Freelancer Chuck Modiano also videoed parts of the vicious beating.

 

Duke and Spencer may be delighted with the Charlottesville rally and DDT’s approval, but the white supremacists who attended it are less satisfied. They are amazed that they’re losing their jobs and getting death threats. Peter Cvjetanovic is confused about the photo taken as he marched and chanted with white supremacists went viral. “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was….  I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

TV news hosts on regular shows are predictably jarred, but even Fox network host Kat Timpf is disgusted. “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life,” she said. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/business/media/wow-stunned-tv-hosts-reacted-in-real-time-to-trump.html  Her co-host, Guy Benson, said that DDT “lost me” when he described the “very fine people” participating in the white supremacist rally. He said:

“They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”

Charles Krauthammer said, “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.” He added that the president had broken from his predecessors who recognized the history of civil rights.

After dealing with DDT for over two years, Republican lawmakers may have figured out that he’s a racist. They have spent his first 200+ days defending his white nationalism, but the “very fine people” comment may have pushed several of them over the edge. A few Republicans such as Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL), and Cory Gardner (CO) had spoken up before today. Added to this list after today’s press conference are Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), David Perdue (GA), Todd Young (IN), Susan Collins (ME), Jerry Moran (KA), Tom Tillis (NC), John Hoevan (ND), James Lankford (OK), Tim Scott (SC), and Dean Heller (NV). The acid test for all these GOP senators will be how they vote for his agenda in September.

When Republicans want votes from progressives, they brag about being the “party of Lincoln.” In 2017 they have become “the party of Trump.”

August 14, 2017

Republicans, DDT Responsible for White Supremacy

At least one person was killed and 35 others were injured in Charlottesville (VA) last weekend in a protest against a white nationalist (aka supremacist) rally. Fringe far-right groups had called for “Unite the Right” in reaction to the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, and people came from throughout the country. Far-right group members carried assault rifles and wore paramilitary clothing; some had large shields, helmets, and gas masks. The collection of neo-Nazis, KKK, and other rightwing organizations, once considered the fringe, focused on racial, religious, and LGBTQ minorities. Chants included “White lives matter,” “Jew will not replace us,” “Blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan describing the bond between Aryan people and German land), and “Fuck you, faggots.” Their heroes are the treasonous people who declared war against the United States.

Counter-protesters had gathered on a side street when the Dodge rammed them and then backed up to injure others. The death of Heather Heyer, 32, and injuries of nineteen other people came from a car that sped up and drove into the helpless crowd, in an attack identical to the federal government definition of terrorism of vehicles as weapons against innocent people. The car’s driver, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, was “infatuated” with Adolf Hitler and Nazism in high school, according to his former history teacher, Derek Weimer. He was dropped from basic training two years ago “due to a failure to meet training standards” according to an Army spokeswoman. Fields was photographed holding a Vanguard America shield and wearing their uniform, but the hate-group organization disavowed him as a member. Dillon Ulysses Hopper, self-identified “CEO,” was a Marine for over a decade, leaving last January, and a recruiter for three of those years. Vanguard describes itself as a “white identitarian political movement” with only members “of at least 80% White/European heritage,” straight, non-felons, and non- sexual degenerates. It uses the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil” and stresses that “the glory of the Aryan nation must be recaptured” in the United States, free of Jewish influence.

Two state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash on their way to help law enforcement. Saturday’s event was the third time that “alt-right” groups came to the city after the city council voted in May to sell Lee’s statue and rename Lee and Jackson parks. White supremacist Richard Spencer led dozens of torch-wielding demonstrators on May 13 in a rally resembling those of the KKK. Although several statues of Confederate leaders have been removed, over 700 Confederate monuments remain to commemorate the war against the United States.

David Duke, former KKK leader, celebrated the rally:

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer expressed the opinion of tens of millions of people in the nation when he blamed the developing racism and White Nationalism on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”

DDT avoided tweeting about the tragedy for several hours, only making a statement after his wife, Melania, made her sixth tweet since DDT’s inauguration. (Unfortunately, she copied former First Lady Michelle Obama—again.) Even then, DDT did not reference Charlottesville; his tweet was generic “come together as one” and “Charlottesville sad!” Later he made a statement in which he blamed everyone:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides—on many sides.”

White supremacists were delighted with DDT’s statement and the fact that he ignored a question about white supremacists. Commenters on the white nationalist message board Stormfront praised DDT, stating that DDT’s comments could also be a criticism of Black Lives Matter.

DDT was warned of increasing white extremism three months ago but only dropped terrorism by whites from his domestic terrorism funding. According to an FBI report, white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016…more than any other domestic extremist movement.” His initial refusal to address the specific problem in Charlottesville and his silence on the bombing of a Minnesota mosque is in direct contrast to his insistence that “radical Islamic terrorism” will flourish until political leaders name the conflict. He also refused to answer a question about whether the violence could be called terrorism.

Signer pointed out DDT’s support for white supremacists:

“Look at the campaign he ran. Look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacist, white nationalist groups, anti-semitic groups; and then look on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday.”

Two days before the white supremacist march on Charlottesville, Sinclair Broadcasting Group mandated that their outlets show a piece by Mark Hyman that compared the removal of Confederate statues, described as “heroes,” to the Taliban blowing up the 2000-year-old “Buddha of Bamiyan” statues in Afghanistan. Sinclair already owns or operates 173 stations, including such major stations as KOMO in Seattle and KATU in Portland (OR), and hopes to acquire another 60.  Already the nation’s largest television station operator, the acquisitions would give the far-right media company access to 72 percent of the country’s population.

DDT didn’t release his feeble condemnation for white supremacist groups for 48 hours—after the conservative polling company Gallup showed a drop in his approval ratings to 34 percent. A large number of people in the nation thought it was too little, too late. Three CEOs on his manufacturing business council agreed and resigned: Merck’s Ken Frazier, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, and Intel’s Brian Krzanich. Elon Musk (Tesla) had quit earlier after DDT rejected the Paris Agreement. DDT attacked only the black CEO in his tweet.

Always trying to distract, DDT tweeted today, “The Obstructionist Democrats have given us (or not fixed) some of the worst trade deals in World History. I am changing that fast!” He also insinuated that he might pardon former sheriff in Arizona, Joe Arpaio, convicted of disregarding a state judge’s order to stop anti-immigrant traffic patrols. DDT called the racist Arpaio a “great American patriot,” perhaps not a good move considering his racist approach to last weekend’s events.

Some GOP congressional members did openly disagree with DDT’s Saturday statement about the travesty:

“Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”—Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

“Very important for the nation to hear [President Trump] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.”—Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL))

“We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”–Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

“What ‘White Nationalists’ are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what any extremist does.”—Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

David Duke responded:

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

He’s right: the GOP fed the needs of white supremacists to get their votes. Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, has a brilliant article on how conservatives have gotten hooked on the addiction to the drug of white supremacy that all should read.

Some well-meaning progressives are calling for protesters to not confront white supremacists in their rallies by holding separate events, but they fail to remember that peaceful protesters against racism have been approached by white supremacists and attacked. Protests against white supremacists are ratcheting up. In Durham (NC), 170 miles south of Charlottesville, people pulled down a monument celebrating soldiers who attacked the United States during the Civil War, and Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington (KY), said he will remove two Confederate monuments. Officials in Tennessee and Maryland are also calling for the removal of Confederate monuments.

Marchers may have thought they were anonymous, but the torches lighted their faces for hundreds of photographs that have spread across the nation. Some of them have already lost jobs, school placements, and, in some cases, their families. The vicious slurs from The Daily Stormer toward the murdered woman also led to the website losing its provider, GoDaddy. Google has rejected the Stormer’s application.

Because of DDT and the GOP, people in the U.S. daily struggle against white nationalists. DDT is the leader of the GOP, and he promoted the takeover of the GOP by white supremacists. He started his racist campaign against President Obama with the birther movement and shared neo-Nazi imagery and memes on his campaign tweets. The endorsement of white supremacy continued with his hire of personal advisers Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Stephen Miller. DDT’s pick for attorney general blocks reproductive rights for women, claims affirmative action only for whites, increases laws against cannabis to put more blacks in prison, and deports only undocumented immigrants who are racial minorities. DDT’s administration wants only fear and division. People in the United States no longer feel safe because of the growing white supremacist domination.

August 12, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Nine – Wars to Help His Approval Ratings

With his approval ratings tanking, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be attempting to model George W. Bush whose ratings rose from 50 percent before the 9/11 attacks to 85 percent—the highest for any president. Six months after W.’s preemptive war on Iraq, the approval dropped back down to 50 percent, but still went back to the White House a year later, with a little help from Ohio computers. If one war is good, then many should be far better, DDT may figure. Thus his attacks on North Korea, Venezuela, immigrants, transgender people, health care, voters, women, the climate, and the Republicans, to mention a few.

North Korea is the most obvious war on DDT’s agenda. During his campaign, he presented Hillary Clinton as a fearsome hawk while he pictured himself as an isolationist. Clinton was touted as the “War Hawk” at the RNC convention, and Bernie Sanders’ supporters, who voted for Trump instead of Clinton, made the same claim. In April 2016, DDT said:

“Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength.”

After killing hundreds and hundreds of civilians in the Middle East and sending in the “mother of bombs” to attack Syria, DDT’s ratings kept plummeting. This past week he started out by promising “fire and fury” against North Korea followed the next days by saying that he wasn’t “tough enough” and then continued about Kim Jung-Un:

“This man will not get away with what he’s doing, believe me. If he utters one threat, in the form of an overt threat … or if he does anything with respect to Guam or any place else that’s an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it.”

Then the Dow Jones dropped over 200 points, the second fall in two days.  Thus far, the military is not on his side and has done no preparation, but DDT said that he is “locked and loaded” if North Korea makes a move, probably threatening a nuclear strike that he can do all on his own. Nuclear war could be a distraction from Robert Mueller’s investigation into his finances and connection with Russia.

Twitter users are asking that DDT be blocked from tweeting because his threats of violence violate Twitter’s rules and terms of service. Last month, people accused DDT of the same violation after he tweeted the video clip of himself beating up someone labeled CNN. Individuals blocked from DDT’s Twitter account are suing him because it is a public forum and “official statement.” Blocking them prevents availability to the information and the right of dissent. Toilet paper featuring old DDT tweets are also sold out.

This week marks the 72nd anniversary of the tragic nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. DDT rages against North Korea, but he has failed to the positions of South Korea ambassador, the Head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security to handle global nonproliferation—among many others.

DDT has wanted to bomb North Korea for at least 18 years, as an interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press shows. Also obvious in this clip is how much DDT’s ability to articulate issues has diminished since then, a frightening difference if one thinks about DDT suffering from dementia.

Not satisfied with war on North Korea, DDT threatened action in Venezuela. Once again, DDT refused any diplomacy, refusing to take a phone call from President Nicolás Maduro after the outrageous threat to militarily involve itself in the country’s problems. Maduro had warned that the U.S. might try to invade Venezuela, and DDT’s threat makes the action appear a reality.

Furious about the failure of Trumpcare, DDT continued his war against GOP members of Congress with a focus on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). One tweet ordered, “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!” Later he indicated that he might be replacing McConnell although that’s not his right. In DDT’s pattern of  “tweet first, read later,” he sent out a piece about how “Insurers [are] seeking huge premium hikes on ObamaCare plans” from Fox and Friends, an article that explains DDT’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act as the reason for rising health insurance premiums.

Other tweet wars last week were against the “AmazonWashingtonPost,” the “FailingNewYorkTimes,” Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The New York Times has collected “The 351 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted on Twitter.” The list is notable for DDT’s limited vocabulary—fail (105 times), fake (105 times), dishonest (91 times), variations of lie (83 times), dumb or dummy (61 times), sad (51 times), terrible (44 times), etc.

Another possible DDT war may be with potential 2020 candidates. Sens. Tom Cotton (AL) and Ben Sasse (NE) have gone to Iowa this year, Gov. John Kasich is considering a visit to New Hampshire, and Mike Pence’s full schedule produced the idea that he’s like a vice-president during the last couple of years of a president’s second term. Sen. Jeff Flake (AZ) is touting his book about conservatism unlike that of DDT. While DDT complains to his campaign rally audiences about Hillary Clinton, these prez wannabees work the donors. Pence still vociferously denies any interest in running against DDT and continues to look worshipfully at him in every photo op. DDT may think that he’s protected by Sean Hannity, Tony Perkins, Jim DeMint, and Grover Norquist, but his incessant alienation of Republicans may work against him.

Everyone seems to be a target for DDT except Russia and white supremacists. He praised Vladimir Putin for evicting 755 members of the U.S. embassy in Russia because it would give DDT a “smaller payroll.” These people continue to be on the payroll, however, because they will be employed elsewhere. The reaction to DDT’s statement was so negative that he said he was being “funny”—inappropriate and probably inaccurate. Russia isn’t laughing either.

Despite a DDT’s large number of tweets since the bomb exploded at a mosque in Bloomington (MN) a week ago, not one has addressed this act of terrorism. White supremacist White House aide Sebastian Gorka said that there is no comment because the act may be faked by a liberal. He claims that DDT is waiting until an investigation is finished, something that DDT didn’t do when he accused a robbery during June in the Philippines of being terrorism. Hate crimes against Muslims increased 91 percent during the first half of 2017 compared to the same time period in 2016. DDT did tweet about the white supremacist attacks in Charlottesville (VA) today but said that the violence was “on many sides,” meaning that he refuses to blame the white supremacists agitators. A white supremacist killed one and injured nineteen counterprotesters by speeding his car into a large group before repeatedly backing up and attacking them again.

While DDT golfs and tweets, Robert Mueller continues his investigation. On July 26, the day after Paul Manafort appeared before Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, the FBI raided his home for “documents and other materials.” DDT most likely knew about the early morning raid because he released his tweets against the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe and transgender military service members a few hours afterward. Mueller’s large team recently added Greg Andres who specializes in corruption and bribery. Subpoenas have already been issued about the June 9, 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort with a Russian lawyer offering incriminating information on Hillary Clinton. Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are now investigating the ways that DDT is financially benefiting from his current position. They started by requesting documents from 15 cabinet departments and nine independent executive branch agencies about their spending at “businesses owned by or affiliated with the Trump Organization.”

Everyday at 9:30 am and 4:30 pm DDT gets a briefing, but the folders are only positive news about him—admiring tweets, photos of him looking “powerful,” and praise-filled “news,” most likely from Fox. Much as it seems like satire, this information is for real. DDT thinks that the role of a president is to sit in the Oval Office, issue orders to pass legislation, and then sign bills.

Has Time magazine killed hopes for John Kelly staying as chief of staff? He’s on the cover as “Trump’s Last Hope.” Usually this praise above DDT means that the subject will be soon gone. Forty-three years ago this week Richard Nixon resigned. How long will DDT last?

August 9, 2017

Washington Subway Bans Constitution

Should a government entity be required to obey the U.S. Constitution? That’s the question raised by the ACLU after the tax-supported Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) refused its paid ad that quoted the First Amendment. WMATA claims that it restricts “controversial” advertising and turned down ads from Carafem, a healthcare network that provides access to birth control and medication abortion; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA); and Milo Worldwide LLC, the corporate entity of provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

To communicate support for Muslims (freedom of religion) and the media (freedom of the press), ACLU put up ads in Arabic, English, and Spanish that simply cited the First Amendment.

WMATA refused the ACLU because of its policy forbidding advertisements “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” or “intended to influence public policy.” The tax-aid transit accepts beer (no problem with alcoholism), mink coats, Coke-or-Pepsi jokes, etc.—no “varying opinions” there. The PETA ad showed a pig with the text, “I’m ME, Not MEAT. See the individual. Go Vegan.” WMATA has several ads asking their riders to eat animal-based food, wear clothing from animals parts, and attend circus performances. It did suggest that they might run the PETA ad with the removal of “Go Vegan.” To ACLU, WMATA stated, “You’ll have to dramatically change your creative.”

Ads for Milo Worldwide LLC were initially accepted. The author of Dangerous brands feminism a cancer, proposes that transgender people have psychological problems, and compares Black Lives activists to KKK. His ads showed Milo Yiannopoulos’ face, a suggestions that his new book be ordered, and one of four quotations from his reviews: “The most hated man on the Internet” (Nation); “The ultimate troll” (Fusion); “The Kanye West of Journalism” (Red Alert Politics); and “Internet Supervillain” (Out Magazine). In contrast to his writings and speeches, the ads didn’t appear to influence except for selling the book. The ads stayed for 10 days until WMATA got complaints.

These ads—including the First Amendment—were considered “controversial,” but those from gambling casinos, military contractors, and internet sex apps weren’t. PETA was rejected, but a restaurant dish “PORKADISE FOUND” was advertised. The same for a rejection of Yiannopoulos’ book while advertising movie ads of four women drooling over a male stripper.

ACLU’s lawsuit requests that the court declare parts of WMATA’s advertising guidelines unconstitutional because they violate free speech rights and are unconstitutionally vague. Although disagreeing with Yiannopoulos’ viewpoints, the organization also filed a motion on behalf of Milo Worldwide LLC for restitution of loss of revenue by the wrongful removal of advertisements for his book.

Arthur Spitzer, the legal director for the ACLU in Washington, stated:

 “The First Amendment protects the speech of everyone from discriminatory government censorship, whether you agree with the message or not.

For the better part of a century, the Supreme Court has wobbled back and forth on the exemption of “commercial speech” from the First Amendment. But to prevent the First Amendment as an advertisement? This is not freedom of speech!

August 7, 2017

DDT’s 200 Days of Disaster

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Two-hundred days ago, Republicans talked about how they would pass bills on infrastructure, tax reform, and healthcare repeal. They didn’t. The man who lives in a dump (his words for the White House) when he can’t escape to some place nicer is now spending his 200th day in office at his Bedminster (NY) resort. Much has been written about his first 200 days while he has focused on seven topics: President Obama, Hillary Clinton, fake news, Russia, loyalty, his election win, and his crowd size.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may spend most of his tweets on these topics because he has no major accomplishments. The news has concentrated on DDT’s staff departures, leaks, religious and racial bigotry, gaffes, personal attacks on people, blame for Republicans, and the possible GOP presidential candidates in 2020. He crows about the 1.07 million jobs created during his first six months. Yet this number is the weakest in five years during the same period of time: 2016 – 1.24 million jobs; 2015 – 1.37 million jobs; 2014 – 1.51 million jobs; and 2013 – 1.17 million jobs.

Exactly what has DDT accomplished with his GOP Congress? He got himself a Supreme Court justice farther right than anyone else on the court after Republican senators refused to talk to a nominee from President Obama for almost a year. He overturned 15 of President Obama’s regulations, some of them to keep people healthy, among the 44 bills he signed into law. Five others were bureaucratic tweaks, and 14 were ceremonial or routine. One encouraged people to fly flags on Veterans’ Day. The first law he signed allowed him to have James Mattis as defense secretary, and one of the last ones diminished his ability to change sanctions on Russia.

Among his 42 executive orders, several have ended up in court with some overturned. DDT claims the rising DOW charts as a victory, but, like the other economic improvements, the increase has an eight-year trajectory upward from President Obama’s two terms. At the same time, the GDP, based on the first two quarters, looks mediocre for the year.

DDT supporters have talked about how horrible the press is toward their beloved, but the media only reports the news. The Newsweek article this week by Alexander Nazaryan, accompanied by a cover that DDT will probably not post at his resorts, is an example of news that will offend DDT supporters. Nazaryan begins with DDT’s tweets about President Obama six years ago this week when he criticized the president for playing golf and going on vacation. DDT had already insisted that President Obama was born a Muslim outside the United States. Since that time the economy vastly improved, and tens of millions of people became insured, but he said that the U.S. is going “down the drain.”

Inaugurated 200 days ago, DDT has made personal profits by going to his own properties at least 64 days of his first 200, has played golf at least 40 times during the same time, is in the midst of a 17-day vacation that he tries to excuse as “working” while he make more profits for his place in Bedminster (NJ). He has been little involved in congressional work, concentrating on insults to Republicans through tweets and a few meetings with them. With only one solo press conference in 200 days, DDT has gone west of the Mississippi only once—a campaign rally in Iowa. He has gone to neither Iraq nor Afghanistan. DDT has had time to tweet at least 1,182 times: “accusations of Obama ‘tapping’ Trump Tower, juvenile taunts hurled at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warmed-over insinuations about the Clintons cribbed from Fox News, complaints about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, complaints about ‘the Republicans’ and endless laments about ‘fake news,’ many of them followed by assertions that are comically untrue.”

After DDT’s election, people hoped for the promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan but got only the failed Muslim ban and Trumpcare that moved into the white supremacist “merit-based” immigration cutback that even DDT couldn’t pass. He promised to “drain the swamp” but instead stocked it with officials focused on destroying whatever agency they are in. DDT’s sole goal is to eradicate whatever President Obama built, except for the economy which DDT then takes credit for.

Scowls, monotone voice—these show a person who wants only to get out the job. DDT’s only happy times are the cheers that he gets from his campaign rallies. His mistakes and secrecy have led to bloodhound Robert Mueller looking into every piece of his and his family’s life, including their financial affairs which may make corruption transparent. He watches about five hours of television a day, and the “president’s” schedule from the White House shows that Mike Pence is working far harder than DDT. “I thought it would be easier,” DDT said about his current job. “I loved my previous life.”

As DDT brags about “absolutely tremendous economic progress,” he’s riding on his predecessor’s coattails, a president who brought the country out of a recession with 7.8 percent unemployment rate. He brags about reducing the number of undocumented immigrants, but President Obama dropped the number to a 44-percent low. DDT’s success has been in keeping tourists from coming to the United States and bringing their money.

Everything that DDT does is for his personal benefit. Nazaryan wrote, “Trump has made it clear that he sees the White House as little more than a branch office of his marketing business, the Trump Organization.” He chooses to learn nothing about government, history, and culture, and he has been a failure at “the art of making deals.” Instead of diplomacy, he threatens people and loses. He insists that people praise him and seeks admiration everywhere, even from the White House Interns (right). So desperate for worship, he praises himself—the best speeches, the biggest crowds, the most bills signed, etc.

Mark Shields said on PBS Hour:

“Everybody, I can honestly say, with rare exception, who has been associated with this administration and this president has been diminished by it. Their reputation has been tarnished. They’re smaller people as a result of it.”

DDT incessantly lies while he tries to hide everything about the government and his personal affairs, including his massive conflicts of interests. His incompetence leads to havoc which results in incessant whining. He takes credit for anything positive and blames everyone else for problems and failures. Michael Winship wrote that DDT’s maneuvers resemble those of “a crime boss when cornered by his own lies.”

People waiting to see a change in DDT and “give him a chance” are seeing more bizarre behavior. By now they realize that he wanted the “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act for the sole purpose of getting a win at the cost of millions of lives. He will use anyone as a scapegoat from Republican senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska to thousands of transgender military members. The impulsive bully continues to worsen. Hiring John Kelly for the Chief of Staff gave gullible watchers hope, but this morning’s tweets show that DDT needs a 24-hour keeper who stops him from watching television and pressing the keys on his cellphone. No one will do that, and DDT won’t allow them.

DDT’s “deals” are bad for the United States. His secretary of state is either hiding or begging North Korea not to fire missiles, his attorney general is “beleaguered,” and the secretary of energy tries to convince people that greater quantity encourages more buying. In DDT’s meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russia gets what it wants in Syria, and Congress has to take over to increase sanctions. Saudi Arabia persuaded the U.S. to support its blockade of Qatar, a U.S. ally where 11,000 U.S. military members are on a military based used to attack ISIS. Every country in the world knows that DDT’s succumbs to personal flattery.

The polls for DDT are the lowest for any president during the past 70 years at this time, and three-fourths of people can’t believe all or most of what he says. Only 33 percent approve of DDT, down seven points since June. The right-wing Rasmussen poll puts him at 38 percent approval.

Sixty-three million people in the United States gave the rest of us this disaster.

August 5, 2017

DDT: Week Twenty-Eight – New Sheriff in Town, Lawsuits

Catchup on State Department policies: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decided to not spend Congress-allocated $79.8 million for fighting terrorist propaganda and Russian disinformation. All he needed to do was issue a memo of request for $60 million at the Pentagon and another $19.8 at the State Department. The money is lost if Tillerson doesn’t meet the September 30 deadline. Tillerson aide R.C. Hammond said that funding programs to oppose Russian media influence might anger Vladimir Putin.

A note on the proposed “merit-based” immigration bill: Amy Goodman points out that the requirements would have eliminated Friedrich Drumpf, grandfather of the man inaugurated as president in January; great-grandparents of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, proponent of the bill at the press conference; great-grandfather of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DTT) counsel and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway.

The most surprising action taken in Congress before they went home at the end of the week was to block Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) from making any recess appointments. There is no recess although Congress is gone for a month. In the past Republicans blocked President Obama from making appointments through this tactic, but DDT is supposedly their own president. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) locked in nine “pro-forma” sessions each lasting about minute. Every senator had to agree to accomplish this move. They did—just before they left town a week before they promised.

DDT has decided to attack congressional Republicans after they took other actions against him such as limiting his ability to change sanctions against foreign countries—especially Russia—and introducing a bill that would also limit his ability to fire the special investigator. DDT’s tweets:

“Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can’t even give us [healthcare]!”

On the first day of John Kelly as Chief in Staff and the last day of Anthony Scaramucci as Communications Director, the media reported that DDT dictated the memo stating that his son, Jr., had discussed only adoption in the son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer on June 9, 2016. The meeting was really about the DDT campaign obtaining “incriminating” information about Hillary Clinton. DDT had claimed that he knew nothing about the meeting, but he knew enough to dictate the nuanced, misleading memo that had to be revised several times as further information was revealed. Then DDT’s legal mouthpiece, Jay Sekulow, claimed that the president wasn’t involved in the memo. Summary: DDT’s team tries to collude with Russia; the president dictates a memo to lie to the public; and DDT’s lawyer tries to lie about DDT’s memo. Two days after Sekulow denied the participation on the part of DDT, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, announced that DDT had “weighed in, offered suggestions, like any father would do.”

The Harvard Law School may have been prescient about Scaramucci’s firing. The new alumni directory has reported him as deceased. His lost job may force Scaramucci to pay capital gains if he makes $77 million from selling his company. If he had kept his job, he could have claimed that he was forced to divest any assets from a conflict of interest. The New York Post has also updated its cover.

DDT may have hired Scaramucci, but Kelly fired him, repeating the belief that DDT doesn’t fire anyone, not even on his former television program, The Apprentice.  Kelly is the first military man to occupy his position since Richard Nixon of Watergate fame hired Alexander Haig. Kelly had clarified that he is in charge and that everyone in the staff clears policy proposals, personnel recommendations, and advice from outsiders through him. The question is whether that includes those family meetings in the evening with DDT’s children and son-in-law.

Kelly also managed to fire another of Michael Flynn’s hires, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who had stayed because of support from white supremacist Steve Bannon and DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner despite protests from National Security Defense Adviser H.R. McMaster. Cohen-Watnick, the third Iran hawk to go recently, had leaked classified information to House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), who then supposedly leaked the information back to the White House in a plot to falsely show that President Obama had eavesdropped on DDT.

Kelly’s background is supposedly discipline, and people on the left are saying that he’s a “great guy.” Yet he comes with his own baggage, most recently as “enabler-in-chief” in supporting the Muslim ban and deportation of innocent people after DDT had bragged about getting rid of the “bad hombres.” His history includes supervising Guantanamo prison during its times of torture. He may also go after the press because he has called leaks “close to treason.” Kelly also has a problem with understanding the Constitution: he has repeated the myth to Coast Guard cadets that the presidential oath of office was thrown together moments before George Washington was sworn in. He should read the U.S. Constitution—specifically Article II, Clause 8—that cites the oath.

The federal government is being inundated with lawsuits because of DDT’s cabinet secretaries and other officials. This week the D.C. circuit court ruled that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt can’t delay Obama-era rules on fracking. The decision against Pruitt reaffirms a previous one from July. Other lawsuits against the EPA:

  • Eleven states: delaying rules to prevent dangerous chemical spills.
  • The NRDC: not enforcing punishments on Clean Water Act violators.
  • Health and agriculture groups: postponement of a pesticide decision that poisoned farmworkers.
  • Maryland: allowing Pennsylvania’s coal pollution to cross its border.
  • Judicial Watch: spreading propaganda on its social media accounts.
  • Youth: DDT’s inaction on climate change that places health and financial burdens on future generations.

Seven states and a dozen health and labor groups have also filed an administrative court challenge against the EPA after its refusal to ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a poisonous pesticide, on crops.

As of a week ago, the Brennan Center for Justice reported at least 17 legal actions against DDT’s new commission to suppress voting by collecting and assessing state voting lists. Although two lawsuits have failed in court, new ones use DDT’s own words and tweets in claims that he created the commission to back up his false theory that voter fraud is a massive problem. This case in Florida has caused the commission’s chair, VP Mike Pence, to tell states that they should wait to send him information until the case’s resolution.

San Diego may take DDT to court after DHS plans to bypass 37 environmental and other laws to build 15 miles of his “wall.” Legally, the agency can do this, but it plans to dodge environmental assessments of endangered species, migratory bird conservation, and the Clean Air Act. DDT has been allotted $1.6 billion which he hopes will pay for 74 of the 2,000 miles. DHS is paying $20 million for funding prototypes.

Chicago plans to sue DDT’s DOJ for withholding public safety grant money from so-called “sanctuary cities” with the claim that the federal government cannot legally take this action. AG Jeff Sessions had claimed that cities must claim that they are not sanctuary cities to get funds from the federal Byrne JAG grants. Sessions’ newly added mandates are to allow ICE access to detention facilities and provide ICE 48 hours’ notice before releasing “an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities.” He isolated four cities for punishment: Albuquerque, Baltimore, San Bernardino, and Stockton (CA).

DDT is also involved in a lawsuit by Paid Fox News commentator Rod Wheeler, who is suing Fox, reporter Malia Zimmerman, and DDT supporter Ed Butowsky for fabrications regarding its “political agenda for the Trump administration.” Wheeler alleges that Fox briefed DDT in advance about the false “news” report that murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich provided documents to WikiLeaks. Fox tried to use the “fake news” to distract from DDT campaign’s collusion with Russia. Fox & Friends and Hannity pushed the story for weeks, and DDT pushed it to be released immediately because he was being scrutinized for firing former FBI director James Comey.

The biggest news about DDT and Russia this week is a D.C. grand jury as well asking the White House for documents connected to Michael Flynn and considering senior FBI officials as possible witnesses. Special investigator is using this grand jury as well as one in Virginia. In a case about obstruction of justice, the White House may be a crime scene. The D.C. grand jury has already sent subpoenas connected to the meeting at Trump Tower with Don Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and others concerning damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

How low has the person inaugurated has U.S. president sunk? Available on Amazon is toilet paper with DDT’s tweets for $11.99. A roll with DDT’s face is cheaper–$5.99.

DDT isn’t the only world leader in trouble. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is a suspect in fraud investigations, and his former chief of staff plans to testify against him. Accusations are favors in return for positive newspaper coverage and accepting bribes from Arnon Milchan in exchange for lobbying for a visa for the billionaire. There may be a contest to see whether DDT or Netanyahu does down first.

August 3, 2017

GOP Introduces RAISE (aka RAZE) Act

Filed under: Immigration — trp2011 @ 10:01 PM
Tags: , , ,

Congress has temporarily lost the battle for Trumpcare and is moving on to another well-publicized disaster: reduction in immigration. Bills in Congress are almost always presented with little fanfare other than a press release. In his need to distract the public from his other debacles, however, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) jumped on an anti-immigration bill reissued by GOP Sens. Tom Cotton (AR) and David Perdue (GA) in a White House “bill-cutting” presentation. The proposal cuts the number of legal immigrants admitted to the U.S. by one half and restricts them to highly educated, well-to-do, English-speaking people. A description of the point system in the bill is here.

Republicans in the Senate were badly split over the healthcare from endorsing cruel provisions to attempting to protect people. This bill will have equal or worse divisions because some Republicans will understand that farmers can go bankrupt without immigrant workers and perceive that the select group allowed into the country will push higher-wage workers out of their jobs. Even if unanimous among GOP senators, the Senate would need eight Democrats supporting the bill. Odd, too, is DDT’s excitement of this limitation after he increased the number of H-2B visas for non-agricultural industry workers like his workers at Mar-a-Lago. Before that he suspended the “premium processing” option for H-1B visas for highly skilled workers.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) pointed out the need for immigrant workers in his state’s dairy industry, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was more blunt:

“South Carolina’s number one industry is agriculture, and tourism is number two. If this proposal were to become law, it would be devastating to our state’s economy, which relies on this immigrant workforce.”

Graham pointed out that the legislation “incentivizes more illegal immigration.” His bill to allow DREAMers to stay in the U.S. has already picked up support from GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Dean Heller (NV), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). Also opposed to RAZE is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

The Cato Institute explained the faulty reasoning behind the Cotton/Perdue plan: “When measured over a period of 10 years or more, the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born workers overall is very small.” (National Academy of Sciences) An examination of the 1964 termination of the Bracero program supports this finding. When farmers lost immigrant workers, they changed their crops to those requiring fewer workers.

Immigrants and U.S.-born workers usually don’t compete because they turn to different job markets. Instead they complement each other and increase each others’ productivity. The nonpartisan American Immigration Council reports that better education and an aging population has decreased the number of U.S.-born workers willing or available to take low-paying jobs. Even so, non-citizens and naturalized citizens are far outnumbered by U.S.-born citizens. Immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than native-born people are, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime.

Last April a bipartisan group of 1,470 economists published an open letter to the nation’s leaders about the importance of immigration:

“As Congress and the Administration prepare to revisit our immigration laws, we write to express our broad consensus that immigration is one of America’s significant competitive advantages in the global economy. With the proper and necessary safeguards in place, immigration represents an opportunity rather than a threat to our economy and to American workers.

  • We view the benefits of immigration as myriad:
  • Immigration brings entrepreneurs who start new businesses that hire American workers.
  • Immigration brings young workers who help offset the large-scale retirement of baby boomers.
  • Immigration brings diverse skill sets that keep our workforce flexible, help companies grow, and increase the productivity of American workers.
  • Immigrants are far more likely to work in innovative, job-creating fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math that create life-improving products and drive economic growth.”

DDT’s point system limits the number of low-skilled workers for farms and dairy. It can also let DDT decide which immigrants—probably non-white—to exclude. Supporters of the system use Canada as an example, but that country has started to focus on the needs of specific industries. For example, the U.S. needs tech workers and agriculture laborers. DDT’s system eliminates the latter industry, and experiments in states—including Perdue’s Georgia—limiting immigration show the resulting devastation.

Even if unanimous among GOP senators, the Senate would need eight Democrats supporting the bill. It also doesn’t fit with DDT’s increasing the number of H-2B visas for non-agricultural industry workers like his workers at Mar-a-Lago. Before that he suspended the “premium processing” option for H-1B visas for highly skilled workers.

During a press conference about the proposed bill, Stephen Miller’s temper tantrum at the White House press briefing showed his ignorance in both history and language.  Both news and comedy television has shown Miller’s meltdown that began when CNN’s Cuban-American reporter Jim Acosta asked if the proposed law fits with the message on the Statue of Liberty. Miller launched into a sneering revisionist history lesson about Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, ”The New Colossus,” on the Statue of Liberty being irrelevant because it was added after the statue was installed. The last five lines:

“Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, /The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, /Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Lazarus’ biographer, Esther Schor, agreed that the words were added almost 17 years after the statue’s dedication, but the poem was used in 1883 to raise money to bring the statue to the United States. Miller claimed that the statue represents “America lighting up the world,” but Schor explained that “it’s really about the roots of American liberty in the French Enlightenment.” She said that Miller had to deny the statue’s meaning because it doesn’t fit with the theme of “Make America First.”

Miller’s temper blew sky high when Acosta followed up by asking if the English-speaking requirement meant restricting immigrants from only Australia and the United Kingdom. Miller sputtered:

“That is one of the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish things you have ever said, and for you that is really …. It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree.”

It appears that Miller was trying to insult Acosta for being worldly-wise and unprovincial, the definition for cosmopolitan. Miller is DDT’s aide who said, “The powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.” Acosta is the reporter who made DDT so angry that he declaimed, “You are fake news!”

At the same time that DDT wants to cut back on immigration, his senior adviser and son-in-law has been subpoenaed regarding Kushner’s selling EB-5 federal visas for $500,000 each as “investors.” EB-5 applicants do not have to provide “skill,” including the ability to speak English. Kushner’ sister, Nicole, has used Jared Kushner’s name to lure investors, and Jared is connected to the company that seeks Chinese investment.

Jeremy Robbins, executive director of New American Economy, a group of business leaders, mayors and others backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, said:

“Our system is broken, but the response should be to modernize it, not take a sledgehammer to it.”

The past six months have shown that Republican legislation know nothing but sledgehammers.

August 2, 2017

Congress, DDT Leaving D.C. with Little to Show

The House left Washington, D.C. last week for an extended vacation, but not after they did a bit of harm. In an article for Nation, “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump a Blank Check for Endless War,” John Nichols refers to the House Speaker’s stripping an amendment from the defense budget that unanimously passed in committee. He did it after midnight and with no debate, floor vote, or consultation with anyone except the GOP House leadership. The U.S. Constitution does not give the president power to wage war, but Congress passed a 60-word bill allowing the president to send military forces against groups linked to the 9/11 attacks. DDT no longer restricts his hostile actions against countries throughout the world to fighting ISIS. The amendment would have required Congress to following the constitution by reverting to congressional approval for military action. It even has support from within the Pentagon. Even General Joseph Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants the 2001 law revoked.

The title of the article, however, could have been far more general: it could have been just “Paul Ryan Hands Donald Trump.” Republicans in the House have been largely mum after DDT’s egregious actions and proposals. Even when DDT suggested that he could pardon his family, his associates, and himself, few GOP representatives objected. To accept pardons from the president, people had to admit that they committed the crimes for which they are pardoned. Thus DDT is considering the admission that he committed crimes, but little word from Republicans in the House.

When Democrats requested documents in the House Judiciary Committee about the firing of former FBI director James Comey, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) flipped the proposal into an amendment to ask the Justice Department for documents related to Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email service. The witch hunt is back on to divert attention away from DDT’s Russia collusion. In the new administration, only GOP congressional members are permitted to asked for any documents; no Democrats need apply. The committee passed Gaetz’s amendment on a partisan vote of 16-13.

A failure in the House is the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that state attorneys general can defend subsidy payments to the insurance industry for certain health care consumers. The GOP House sued in 2014 to stop these payments because Congress had not approved a specific appropriation, and DDT threatens to block the funding because Trumpcare failed. The insurance industry warned that instability could cause a 20-percent increase in premiums for 2018.

The House did buck DDT’s wishes when it passed—by 419-3!—increased sanctions on Russia and decreased presidential authority to change these sanctions. The Senate had already passed the bill by 98-2. The bill also includes sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Ukraine. Furious about the bill, DDT waited a week to sign the bill into law with no ceremony but declared has “clearly unconstitutional provisions.” This from the man who has violated the constitution in so many ways. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the bill will not “be helpful to our efforts.” Russian president Vladimir Putin is so angry that he reduced the U.S. diplomatic staff by 755 people, matching the number of diplomatic Russians in the U.S., and seized two properties used by U.S. diplomats.

Another irritant for DDT may be the Senate bill to protect special investigator, Robert Mueller. Any firing of a special counsel would demand judicial review if the bill passes by a veto-proof margin.

On the other side of Congress, senators have decided to go home tomorrow, or Friday at the latest, after Trumpcare went down in flames. (For a bit of satire regarding the upshot of the Senate Trumpcare vote, check out Andy Borowitz’s column about DDT supporters’ fury for still having healthcare.) In the midst of Trumpcare trauma, they planned to stay into their typical August recess until August 11th. The House is gone, however, and DDT plans to head out tomorrow if the flight restrictions around Bedminster (NJ) from August 3-20 are correct.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has already handed over another blank check from the Judiciary Committee to DDT by not requiring DDT associates—eldest son, Don Jr; son-in-law Jared Kushner; and former campaign manager Paul Manafort—to testify. They just “talked” and gave the committee some documents. One topic from the disappeared subpoenas was the once-secret meeting with a growing number of Russians when Jr, Kushner, and Manafort hoped to get dirt on Clinton. Grassley is also trying to prove that the former intelligence officer who prepared the dossier on Russian meddling really works for Russia, once again in a struggle to protect DDT.

The failure of Trumpcare in the Senate—thanks to “no” votes against it from GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), John McCain (AZ), and Lisa Murkowski (AK)—was followed by a failure for AG Jeff Sessions. The Appropriations Committee blocked the DOJ spending anything to undermine state medical marijuana laws. When Sessions isn’t trying to collect and keep money from innocent people picked up by the police, he has been salivating about destroying state laws regarding cannabis. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has proposed a bill to legalize cannabis because of its ability to solve the opioid abuse and relieve one racist approach toward imprisonment. GOP control of Congress will block Booker’s bill at this time, but approval of cannabis use is growing across the nation. Its use should be legal, according to 61 percent of people in the U.S., and 88 percent favor medical marijuana use. Another 71 percent oppose efforts to stop sales and use in states where it is legal, and 65 percent think that marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. In short, the vast majority of people disagree with Sessions.

The GOP senators have hit rock bottom after the failure of Trumpcare: they are offering to work with Democrats. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senate Health Committee chair, will hold bipartisan hearings when Congress comes back in September to develop a short-term proposal to strengthen individual markets for the Affordable Care Act by mid-September. Female, Democrat Patty Murray (WA) will have a place at the negotiating table for the first time with Alexander’s decision. A bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, consisting of 43 senators from both parties, praised Alexander for his initiative. Insurers are required to sign contracts by the end of September to sell plans on the exchanges.

Christopher Wray—DDT’s pick for FBI director—has been confirmed, but five senators voted against him. Two of them are from Oregon, making me very proud. After the illegal closing of the George Washington Bridge, Wray defended New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Wray hid Christie’s cellphone, and Christie escaped a guilty verdict. Wray’s law firm represents Russia-owned energy companies, and Wray deleted his representation of an energy company executive in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities from his biography. His career has been spent in defending criminals, not pursuing them, i.e., a major Swiss bank accused of laundering money for terrorists. In the history of confirming FBI directors, only one other senator has ever voted against a director. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against James Comey because of surveillance issues.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) should be praised for introducing the Dream Act of 2017 granting legal status and a path to citizenship for DREAMers. Eight out of ten voters, including more than 7 in 10 Republicans, believe DREAMers should be allowed to remain in the US legally. Ending DACA would result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next 10 years, and remove an estimated 685,000 workers from the nation’s economy.

The question now is what will happen on October 1 if the House doesn’t get around to passing the budget and increasing the debt ceiling. The Senate and House have 12 joint working days before Sept. 29. A shutdown means a stock market crash, surging interest rates, disruption to the world’s financial system, and a recession. Twelve days.

 

August 1, 2017

U.S. No Longer ‘Just,’ ‘Democratic’

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:04 PM
Tags: ,

In less than 200 days, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has changed life for the people of the United States. According to DDT, police brutality is a good thing, torture is better, and dictators who murder people for their own benefits are to be emulated. Voting should be taken from anyone suspected of casting votes against Republicans, and pollution is positive if it helps business. War is wonderful, even if the U.S. kills civilians, because it makes money for the wealthy. Health care is only for the wealthy, and nonwhite people are disgusting. People are disposable, and only the richest have any value. Ethics and values are worthless. The president is the CEO of the nation with no attention to Congress or the Supreme Court—unless they agree with the CEO. The nation has become a family business run by DDT and his children.

 (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

DDT’s personal Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is following DDT’s opposition to democracy, justice, and human rights.

The past mission of Tillerson’s agency:

“The Department’s mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.

“This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow.”

That mission is being redefined, per Tillerson’s directions. The draft of a new mission:

 “We promote the security, prosperity and interests of the American people globally.”

The draft statement on ambition:

“The American people thrive in a peaceful and interconnected world that is free, resilient and prosperous.”

The words “just” and “democratic” have disappeared from desired outcomes, but “prosperous” for just “American people” stays.

Not everyone reads mission statements, but this draft, if put into effect, shows the world that the United States no longer stands for justice and democracy. It would bring the U.S. far closer to Russia and other countries run by dictators. Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, said about Tillerson’s mission statement draft:

“It’s a worldview similar to that of Putin, who also thinks that great powers should focus exclusively on self protection and enrichment, rather than promoting democracy. By removing all reference to universal values and the common good it removes any reason for people outside the United States to support our foreign-policy.”

Tillerson may be intending to further reduce the staff at the State Department: hundreds of officials work on congressionally funded programs meant to promote democracy and justice abroad.

When speaking about Cuba or Venezuela, DDT promotes democracy. In his inauguration speech, however, he said:

“We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.”

In his speech in Saudi Arabia during his May visit, DDT went farther when he said that his inauguration speech promised that the U.S. would “outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.” That was after he told his audience that Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have “shared interests and values.” He may have been referring to his personal desire to control the media in the U.S. through violence and create a dictatorship in which wealthy leadership controls legislative, executive, and judicial functions. As Wilbur Ross marveled during the visit, no one protests in Saudi Arabia—because they are either imprisoned or killed.

Tillerson is following earlier statements. His first speech to his State Department employees stated that the promotion of U.S. “creates obstacles” to national security interests. The former Exxon CEO refused to unveil the agency’s annual human rights report. Under Tillerson, the State Department is eliminating the http://www.humanrights.gov website and move its content to an alternative web address, www.state.gov/j/drl. He already reportedly closed the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice, which hunts down war criminals.

Todd Buchwald, special coordinator of the Global Criminal Justice office, is being reassigned to legal affairs.  The remaining staff in the office may be reassigned to the agency’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. As Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright established the office in 1997 to address genocides, at that time in Bosnia and Rwanda, and prosecute people who commit these horrific atrocities. Since then, the U.S. cooperated with internationally supported criminal courts in the former Yugoslavia to Cambodia and the Central African Republic with greater support for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Closing this office communicates the message that the U.S. no longer cares about atrocities throughout the world.

The reorganization of the State Department will follow Tillerson’s priorities: prosperity for U.S. businesses and increased military.

Rumors started a few weeks ago that Tillerson might be resigning. He denied them, but Tillerson has disappeared this week with no known destination. Meanwhile he has rescinded a large number of delegations of authority. People who want a pass to the State Department parking lot even have to go to his personal office.

Tillerson paid a private consulting firm $1.1 million to survey half his employees and discovered that they are unhappy. Complaints covered management, working conditions, lack of performance goals, and technological problems. The 110-page report stated that not one person felt that the environment helped them be successful. One employee summarized some of the problems of overhauling the agency “to save costs.“ Tillerson has asked for a 30 percent budget reduction. “Our leaders do not understand our mission and our capabilities,” the employee said.

The survey results demonstrate a pattern of poor leadership. The results were so bad that Tillerson didn’t release the expensive report, but it was leaked to the Wall Street Journal. Conservative analyst Max Boot wrote in Commentary that the only benefit from Tillerson’s and DDT’s incompetence is strategy is to “explode for all time the conceit that business leaders with no experience in politics are best qualified to run the government.” Tillerson’s only qualification for his current position is that he negotiated oil deals with Russia and other countries.

In his initial speech to his employees, Tillerson repeated DDT’s mantra of making “America First.” If he continues to erase the system of U.S. diplomacy around the world, he may succeed in making “America vanquished.” About Tillerson’s leaderships style, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately.”

July 31, 2017

The Shrinking Republican Brain

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 9:51 PM
Tags: ,

In the mid-twentieth century, Republicans represented the elite and intelligentsia. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a rational person who managed to provide the United States with the interstate. With the onset of actor Ronald Reagan, the GOP joined the evangelicals for power and lost its smarts—and its ability to lead. In his column, Paul Krugman asks, “Who ate Republicans brains?” and covers the changes in the past half century. 

When the tweeter-in-chief castigated Senate Republicans as “total quitters” for failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, they showed zombie-like relentlessness in their determination to take health care away from millions of Americans, shambling forward despite devastating analyses by the Congressional Budget Office, denunciations of their plans by every major medical group, and overwhelming public disapproval.

Put it this way: Senator Lindsey Graham was entirely correct when he described the final effort at repeal as “terrible policy and horrible politics,” a “disaster” and a “fraud.” He voted for it anyway — and so did 48 of his colleagues.

So where did this zombie horde come from? Who ate Republicans’ brains?

As many people have pointed out, when it came to health care Republicans were basically caught in their own web of lies. They fought against the idea of universal coverage, then denounced the Affordable Care Act for failing to cover enough people; they made “skin in the game,” i.e., high out-of-pocket costs, the centerpiece of their health care ideology, then denounced the act for high deductibles. When they finally got their chance at repeal, the contrast between what they had promised and their actual proposals produced widespread and justified public revulsion.

But the stark dishonesty of the Republican jihad against Obamacare itself demands an explanation. For it went well beyond normal political spin: for seven years a whole party kept insisting that black was white and up was down.

And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.

The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.

The right’s intellectual and moral collapse didn’t happen all at once. For a while, conservatives still tried to grapple with real problems. In 1989, for example, The Heritage Foundation offered a health care plan strongly resembling Obamacare. That same year, George H. W. Bush proposed a cap-and-trade system to control acid rain, a proposal that eventually became law.

But looking back, it’s easy to see the rot spreading. Compared with Donald Trump, the elder Bush looks like a paragon — but his administration lied relentlessly about rising inequality. His son’s administration lied consistently about its tax cuts, pretending that they were targeted on the middle class, and — in case you’ve forgotten — took us to war on false pretenses.

And almost the entire G.O.P. either endorsed or refused to condemn the “death panels” slander against Obamacare.

Given this history, the Republican health care disaster was entirely predictable. You can’t expect good or even coherent policy proposals from a party that has spent decades embracing politically useful lies and denigrating expertise.

And let’s be clear: we’re talking about Republicans here, not the “political system.”

Democrats aren’t above cutting a few intellectual corners in pursuit of electoral advantage. But the Obama administration was, when all is said and done, remarkably clearheaded and honest about its policies. In particular, it was always clear what the A.C.A. was supposed to do and how it was supposed to do it — and it has, for the most part, worked as advertised.

Now what? Maybe, just maybe, Republicans will work with Democrats to make the health system work better — after all, polls suggest that voters will, rightly, blame them for any future problems. But it wouldn’t be easy for them to face reality even if their president wasn’t a bloviating bully.

And it’s hard to imagine anything good happening on other policy fronts, either. Republicans have spent decades losing their ability to think straight, and they’re not going to get it back anytime soon.

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