Nel's New Day

January 19, 2018

Polis Addresses Women’s March, Government Shuts Down

Filed under: Congressional legislation — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , ,

Each week, Vice.com has a one-sentence report on the past week of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) followed by details about the events:

“President Donald Trump denied that he said anything ‘derogatory’ after he called El Salvador, Haiti, and African countries ‘shitholes’; underwent his first physical as president, was declared healthy by the White House physician, even as independent doctors claimed Trump has a common form of heart disease; stayed mum about allegations of paying former porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their affair; called himself the ‘least racist person’; urged Americans to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day by getting involved in their communities; spent MLK Day golfing at Mar-a-Lago; lambasted Democrats over DACA, which he deemed ‘probably dead’; reportedly refused to sit down with the Congressional Black Caucus’ leaders; tweeted out a broken link to his highly anticipated ‘Fake News Awards’; more than halved U.S. aid money to Palestinians; traveled to Pennsylvania to campaign for Rick Saccone; and tweeted that his stance on the border wall has never changed right after his chief of staff said it had ‘evolved.’”

Tomorrow morning, DDT intended to go to Mar-a-Lago for his celebration party costing $100,000 per couple; $250,000 will get couples not only the dinner and photograph with DDT for the lower price plus a round-table discussion with him. He has changed his plans and will stay in Washington, highly upset because the shutdown keeps him from “my party.” [Just wait for the tweets!]

Tomorrow, people will also be protesting DDT in the second Women’s March. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), married to Marlon Reis, will march in Denver after his participation in last year’s Washington, D.C. event. Below is his letter to their three-year-old daughter. The couple also has a son, six-year-old Caspian Julius.  [An interview with Polis (left) from last April.]

Cora,

It’s already been one year — and almost a third of your life so far! — since we participated in the big Women’s March in Washington D.C. I’m excited to have the opportunity to march with you again this year in Denver!

I know at the age of three, you’re only just beginning to sense the importance of the fellowship we shared with millions of civic activists around the country last year, and that we will share again tomorrow. And while I’m sad that the first President you will know is not only an unacceptable role model but in many ways a representative of the past that we thought we’d left behind, I am heartened by how our community is responding and resisting.

I hope that as you grow up, you look back on these marches the same way I look back on the equal rights and anti-war rallies I attended with your grandparents when I was a kid. I hope tomorrow’s march helps open the door for you to a lifetime of joining with others to fight for a better, kinder, more equal world.

For all the great things about the world you were born into, there is still a lot of work to do. We still live in a state where a woman earns 81 cents to a man’s dollar. We still live in a nation where a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is under attack. We still live in a place where sexual harassment and assault happen, and people blame the victim.

I entered public office because I believe in the power of public policy, changing the laws to reflect our values and create a better future. But policy is not the only thing that matters. Many of the problems we face today will not be solved through legislation or by politicians. They’ll be solved by people from all walks of life coming together to break stereotypes, break cultural barriers, and break glass ceilings.

That’s why we marched last year. That’s why we’re planning on marching tomorrow.

Despite the challenges and uncertainty of this moment in our history, there are reasons for hope all around you. From Susan B. Anthony to Rosa Parks to Dolores Huerta, to Colorado’s own Florence Sabin, we’re inspired by the strong women before you that have paved the path toward equality and justice. I’m proud you can look to your own family including your “Gramma” Susan Polis Schutz, who shattered the societal norms of her time to become a successful business woman and bestselling poet, even if she does feed you ice cream when she’s not supposed to.

This is just the start for you. I look forward to you living your life and building the future you desire. Hopefully the glass ceilings will be shattered by the time you get there. But if not bring a hammer.

Love,

Dad

The main Women’s March, on the anniversary of DDT’s inauguration, has moved from D.C. to Las Vegas with a Sunday event called “Women’s March Anniversary: Power to the Polls” to follow this year’s success in electing women across the nation.

Tonight the government will shut down until Congressional members can pass a spending bill. The first government shutdown since October 2013, this one makes history; it is the first shutdown when one party controls Congress and the White House and the first time that a president of the United States has explicitly called for a shutdown. During the last possibility of a shutdown in November, DDT had said privately that a good government shutdown would help him politically. Earlier in May, DDT tweeted, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” Shutdown threats under DDT are a little like facing someone with a gun who keeps threatening to kill you. Finally, you give up and tell the person to just shoot.

Republicans already postponed the spending bill for the past several months while trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act to take health care from people and pass its tax bill to benefit the wealthy and big business. In addition, DDT’s blow-up with obscene language about non-white countries cut down on the compromise that included a way for DACA youth to not be deported. Everyday that no bill passes about the Dreamers, hundreds of them are in danger. Democrats had given into Republicans on a number of issues, but the negotiations were unsuccessful after DDT rejected the bipartisan agreement.

To gin up more fear, DDT continues to lie about a shutdown being “devastating to our Military.” A federal law generally bars agencies from continuing to work at taxpayer expense during a shutdown, but that law provides major exceptions for military and intelligence operations, national security, and emergencies. During the 2013 GOP shutdown, Congress unanimously passed a law guaranteeing continued pay for military personnel. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) object to Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) proposal to continue paying military personnel.

Shortly after midnight, the vote of 50-49 against the spending bill officially shut down the government. Following the vote, McConnell blamed the Democrats for hurting the military, ignoring people with addiction, and denying children with insurance while saying that he cared about DACA. He said that DACA doesn’t affect anyone until March although hundreds of young people are being deported daily. Only when Republicans want to get their own way does McConnell claim to care about programs that he has postponed for at least four months.

McConnell declared that he would keep calling for votes until Democrats voted for the continuing resolution until after Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talked about the Democratic compromises were willing to accept, including funding for the wall, that were also accepted by the president–until he left the White House and the chief of staff called to say that the deal was off. At that point McConnell proposed a continuing resolution on February 8, conveniently after DDT’s State of the Union address on January 30 and turned down a three-day continuing resolution. McConnell’s postponement may fail because DDT said he won’t negotiate on DACA while the government is closed.

Tomorrow will be filled with conservative news blaming the Democrats for the shutdown. Over four years ago, DDT said that the president of the United States is at fault for any government shutdown. Four Republicans, including the senior Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voted the bill, opposing short continuing resolutions in exchange for a long-term spending bill.

DDT will want a continuing resolution for the spending bill because it gives him the ability to change funding for intelligence priorities. The House bill sent to the Senate dropped a long-standing law that keeps the person in the Oval Office from spending unauthorized money on intelligence activities until a long-term bill passes and puts DDT in charge of these expenditures.

Tomorrow the women are marching, and the government is in shutdown. Happy anniversary, DDT!

[DDT’s 52nd week will be chronicled next week.]

 

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January 17, 2018

Say No to Medicaid Work Requirements

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 10:32 PM
Tags: , , ,

While the media obsesses about the coarse language of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), the GOP has found ways to destroy the health and lives of people throughout the United States. Republicans claim that they don’t have enough money for nine million children’s health care in the CHIP program after they gave over $1 trillion to big corporations and the wealthy. A growing number of people are going uninsured after DDT’s work to ruin the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Now they want work requirements and payment for Medicaid, a program created in 1965 to help people with limited income obtain health benefits that includes nursing home care. The only eligibility for participation was the level of income. The last few years of expanded Medicaid in some states has shown remarkable advantages to everyone–$3.4 billion of reduced unpaid bills in its first two years. Healthier people are better able to pay more taxes, and the increased treatment for substance abuse greatly reduced rates of robbery, aggravated assault, and larceny theft.

A major problem for tens of millions of people in the past week is the decision to allow states to impose a work requirement for people on Medicaid, primarily minorities. Seema Verma, the person in charge of this plan, helped design the Indiana Medicaid expansion that required recipients to make monthly payments. The basis for this decision is not to improve health—although that is the claim—but to siphon more money from the poor to the wealthy. Behind this plan are the Koch brothers, the Mercers, the Ricketts, and other multi-billionaire families, already benefiting from millions of dollars after the GOP tax plan.

These decision-makers ignore the fact that at least half of all non-disabled adults with Medicaid already work, and 80 percent of them live in households where at least one adult works. Of those who don’t work, 36 percent are ill or disabled; 30 percent are caregivers; 15 percent are students; and nine percent are retired. Of all the Medicaid recipients, only one-third are non-elderly adults and spend under twenty percent of total costs.

The new guidelines make “suggestions” for these classifications other than the “able-bodied adult” but don’t mandate them. To continue getting health care, these people, many of whom have trouble navigating the system, will be forced to get a doctor’s letter proving that they are within the requirements for exemptions. Doctors are responsible for deciding who lose their insurance in many cases because they must determine who is “medically fragile.” As for pay, those who cannot meet the monthly payments will then lose their coverage.

DDT’s administration announcement about the loss of Medicaid based on lack of “work” was preceded by the Treasury Department’s proposal to reduce federal rules requiring banks to provide mortgage financing in minority neighborhoods. Rules will be expanded to businesses and infrastructure projects that don’t serve the poor.

Ten states have already applied for waivers: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Kentucky was the first to be accepted. Until Kentuckians elected a GOP governor, its Medicaid program was a shining example for the nation, and people loved it. The state’s adult uninsured rate fell from 18.8% in 2013 to 6.8% in 2015. Unfortunately, voters didn’t connect the program with “Obamacare” and rejected the Democrats in the 2014 election, much to their current disappointment. The result is this Medicaid proposal with these mandates:

  • Monthly charges from $1 to $15 that increase in the third year, as much as four percent of income;
  • Loss of insurance with a six-month hiatus before requesting enrollment following failure to pay for two months unless the person completes a financial or health literacy course;
  • Disenrollment for not timely reporting changes to income or employment or making false statements regarding work for six months unless the person completes a health or financial literacy course;
  • Requirement of 20 hours weekly of employment activities for most adults;
  • Waiver of non-emergency medical transportation for adults;
  • Addition of a high deductible health savings account (funded by the state) to existing capitated managed care coverage with an incentive account to purchase extra benefits by specified health-related or employment activities (aka quitting smoking, losing weight, and/or exercising);
  •  and/or up to half of any remaining annual deductible funds;
  • Mandatory Medicaid premium assistance to purchase cost-effective employer sponsored insurance after the first year of Medicaid enrollment and employment for adults and their Medicaid and CHIP-eligible children;
  • Use of federal Medicaid matching funds for short-term Institution for Mental Disease (IMD) services for non-elderly adults in certain counties;
  • Removal of a proposed expansion of presumptive eligibility sites to county health departments and certain safety net providers.

If, like me, your eyes have glazed over at the complexity of these mandates, you will understand that the waiver’s goal is to greatly decrease the number of people on Medicaid and manage their personal behavior, not to make their health better. The huge cost of administering such convoluted regulations puts the money into administration instead of helping people with no money for the government to help pay for program administration.

Kentucky expects to save almost $500,000 a year with the new program, but that comes from making 95,000 people uninsured. Those are the people who will get their health care in hospital emergency rooms that will cost the state more than they save. In typical GOP doublespeak, Verma said, “We see moving people off Medicaid as a good outcome because that means they do not need the program anymore and have transitioned to a job or can afford insurance.” In the same way, the Clinton administration said changes to welfare would encourage “needy” people to find work, move out of poverty, and up the economic ladder. None of those advantages happened. TANF assistance dropped, and more people moved into poverty.

Gov. Matt Bevin said that he will drop 400,000 people off Medicaid if he doesn’t get his way to require work for the health insurance plan for the poor. Kentucky is already one of the unhealthiest states in the nation, ranking worst in cancer death rates, the second-highest smoking rate, and seventh highest obesity rate. Eight of the 13 counties in the U.S. with the largest declines in life expectancy are in Kentucky.

People who support the waivers staunchly declaim that only “able-bodied” people will be affected. Yet the exception in the new rules apply only to those who have gone through the rigorous and restrictive process of obtaining Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Their definition of disability:

“The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Seriously disabled people who fail this stringent definition are considered healthy and able to work, according to Republicans. Left out of the disabled definition are people with cancer, substance abuse, mental health disabilities, and other health issues. Last year, 10,000 people died while they waited for their appeals to be processed. The waivers would stop any Medicaid help for wheelchairs and other medical equipment, caregivers, and—of course—“non-emergency medical transportation.”

White people will benefit from the waivers because states can provide exemptions from work requirements in areas of high unemployment. Thee areas tend to be rural, more likely populated with white people, because they have fewer job opportunities, less reliable transportation, and fewer social services. Black people living in cities will be more burdened in the waivers.

Moms Rising listed more serious problems in a work requirement for Medicaid, a program that composed of 62 percent female and one-third children:

“This misguided policy punishes the most vulnerable members of our society and has the potential to cause millions of people to lose their health coverage just when they need support the most. It will perpetuate poverty and inequality, jeopardize the health of families, disproportionately harm women, undermine our economy, and do little to help anyone find or keep a job.

“[Work requirements] push people to accept low-paying, short-term jobs that provide no long-term stability, and they punish seasonal and hourly workers who may lose health coverage if their hours change suddenly….

“Ultimately, the only outcome of implementing work requirements will be that tens of thousands of low-income people will lose access to health care, making it that much harder for them to find jobs. Not to mention that this is just the first of many anticipated cuts to Medicaid and other essential programs that Republicans in Congress and the White House will put forward to pay for their outrageous tax law….”

As with most DDT dictates, the waivers will face court cases because the goal of the Medicaid program is to encourage work. The argument that “work promotes health” is as twisted as the German statement “Arbeit macht frei” (“work sets you free”) above the entrances to Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

January 16, 2018

Orwell’s ‘Newspeak’ Precursor to Today’s Fascism

The most popular expression in 2017, according to the Washington Post, was “fake news,” and Merriam-Webster announced that “feminism” was the term with the most internet searches. Cambridge Dictionary highlighted “populism” because Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) claimed to support the working people, and Dictionary.com selected “complicit.” The real Word of the Year might be #, as in hashtag, such as the #MeToo movement. A term for current politics could be “faux populism” or “nationalism” because of the mushrooming acceptance of white supremacists in the United States. Gone are terms such as “diversity” and “togetherness.” The President’s Challenge Coin even lost the term “E pluribus unum,” the U.S. motto meaning “out of many, one.”

Throughout foreign affairs this past year, up is down and war is peace. “Normalization” used to mean making the abnormal conform to the standard perception, but DDT has changed it to acceptance of deviancy as the new normal. “Pivot” once meant turning but now means a pretense. The biggest reversal may be the word “fake.” Defined as “counterfeit” until the time of DDT, its meaning is now “I deny your reality” or “hoax.” Evidence and reason are now “fake science” or “fake news.” Those who lack any support or background for their arguments simply assert “fake …” to make facts vanish or “alternative facts,” introduced by Kellyanne Conway in an attempt to cover DDT’s lies.

Conservatives know how words can hurt their causes. A theme of the ruling class in George Orwell’s novel 1984, is “ignorance is strength.” The phrase “climate change” disappeared from the White House website minutes after DDT was inaugurated, and accurate science, climate, energy, and environment information has been erased on federal websites. References to rising sea levels, worsening wildfires, and threatened wildlife have disappeared. The Interior Department eliminated links to 92 national parks’ climate action plans.

EPA officials are ordered to eradicate the term “climate change” in grant solicitations and funding for initiatives. Public communications information also cannot use “climate change.” Colorado College environmental science professor Miroslav Kummel was told that he would need to revise his syllabus for his class, “Introduction to Global Climate Change” at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument because “all references to [climate change] in future documents, orientation talks, etc. will not be allowed.”

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention distributed a “language guidance” document to employees and contractors listing words and phrases to be avoided and accompanied by acceptable alternatives. For example, “underserved youth” are now “all youth.” “Substance abuse disorder,” no longer a disease, was replaced with “substance abuse issue.” Youths who have committed crimes are defined only as “offenders.” Last year, a request for grants to mentor child victims of sex trafficking specifically cited LGBTQ youths, one-third of the trafficked population; this year the requrest does not mention LGBTQ.

Providing more censorship, DDT’s administration is stopping the use of such words as “vulnerable, “entitlement,” and “diversity” in the Department of Health and Human Services budget. During a meeting, CDC employees were told to avoid “fetus,” “transgender,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Only the last two terms were given an alternative: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” “Abstinence-only” programs are being rebranded as “sexual risk avoidance” to acquire government funds. The government knows that these programs fail to work. Violence Against Children surveys from eleven countries “showed that an average of 1 in 3 young women had a first sexual experience that was forced or coerced,” according to a State Department report.

Humpty Dumpty told Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.” Alice asked him how a word can have so many definitions, and Humpty Dumpty replied, “The question is which is to be master, that’s all.” Centuries later, Orwell agreed when he wrote that meaning is about power. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once defined truth as “the majority vote of that nation that could lick all others.”

Many of the words popularized in the new administration, including DDT’s latest vulgar term “shithole countries,” smack of authoritarianism supporting white supremacy and ethnic cleansing evidenced by fascist dictators leading up to World War II. They gained their power through suppression of the media just as DDT is trying to do. He is also using the one-party system in Washington and the tactics of Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists to control the nation.

Words that reveal injustices and encourage critical analyses disappear when people who use them are punished. Orwell’s “Newspeak” in 1984 has gone from fiction to the GOP standard operating procedures, especially since all scientific evidence and dissent is regarded as “fake news.” According to DDT, the critical media is the “enemy of the American people.” He maintains that he is the only person who can “Make America Great Again,” the only one who can save the nation. Repetition of these positions has led to almost a third of people in the nation believing that the media—except the Fox network and other more conservative sources—are false. DDT now declares Fire and Fury a “fake book.”

Authoritarianism expert Ruth Ben-Ghiat noted that fascism starts with words. Language normalizes brutality and cruelty with metaphors of racial purity, expulsion, war, and dehumanization. In The Third Reich in Power, Richard J. Evans wrote:

“The German language became a language of superlatives, so that everything the regime did became the best and the greatest, its achievements unprecedented, unique, historic and incomparable …. The language used about Hitler … was shot through and through with religious metaphors; people ‘believed in him,’ he was the redeemer, the savior, the instrument of Providence, his spirit lived in and through the German nation…. Nazi institutions domesticated themselves [through the use of a language] that became an unthinking part of everyday life.”

Adolf Hitler banned words, books, and authors while he made people disposable. The GOP goal is to destroy ways to protect vulnerable people and plunder the world’s resources for their personal gain.

DDT’s initial statement in his campaign on June 16, 2015, described the people coming into the United States as human garbage, the same message that he has repeated during the past two and a half years. In a speech to FBI graduates in December, he described immigrants coming by lottery as the “worst people …. the worst of the worst.” With no outrage from people, he normalized evil, just as authoritarianism does, in his statements about how immigrants (except those from Norway) despoil the (white) United States by raping and killing (white) women. Nobody was shocked until he used the word “shithole”; for many people it is only the word and not the policy behind it that is heinous.

Gina Apostel wrote, “When norms shift, one of the first things to change is language. In a fascist world, shocking neologisms become everyday speech.” She continued in a description about her experiences when Philippines’ late dictator Ferdinand Marcos decreed martial law in 1972 and compared that to today’s life under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who killed more people in his first year of martial law than Marcos did in a decade. “Extrajudicial killings” is a polite term for being killed by the police, and being “ka-DDS,” meaning “fellow-Davao Death Squad” rallies Duterte’s supporters, just as DDT’s supporters adopted the term “deplorables.” A new eatery north of Manila has a menu that includes “handcuffed pork belly” and “tortured pork chops,” referring to the people who Duterte kills. Another item is “the ham that fought back” because police can kill any suspect who resists arrest.

DDT praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” in combating the illicit drug trade. Duterte called reporters “spies” when he met with DDT. Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here about the rise of an authoritarian fascist leader in the U.S. parallels DDT’s admiration dictators around the world.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” In this way, DDT uses words that make this passage from 1984 as the theme of his administration.

January 15, 2018

A Day of Service, Action

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:35 PM

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated fifty years ago while fighting for the rights of people in the United States. Today, the third Monday of January, the nation commemorates his life and death with the day named for him.  Last year, Michael Hulshof-Schmidt wrote:

 “It’s not just another holiday. In 1994, President Clinton signed legislation—put forward by Sen. Harris Wofford (D-PA) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)–which transformed the decade-old holiday. The goal was to challenge Americans to use the day for citizen action and volunteer service. As noted on the official site for the day, ‘It calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems.’”

Anthony Biglan writes about the value of being volunteers at an early age:

“I recently visited Yamhill Carlton Elementary School in Yamhill County. On the wall in one hallway was a display of what the classrooms at Yamhill Carlton had done for their community. Classes did campus clean-ups, collected coloring books for children at Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital, wrote letters to children in Kenya, made bird feeders for the school’s garden area, collected socks for homeless children, and collected children’s books to promote reading at a literacy night event.

“The students’ burst of community contribution grew out of the school’s implementation of the PAX Good Behavior Game. The PAX system helps students learn to cooperate with each other and to develop the self-regulatory skills that are foundational for both academic and social and emotional well-being. PAX is being widely implemented in Oregon schools, and much of the funding comes from coordinated care organizations.”

Participants “are significantly less likely to start smoking, have problems with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, develop antisocial behavior, engage in substance abuse or show suicidal behavior … [as well as] more likely to succeed academically and less likely to develop problems as they mature.” Children are healthier through a less stressful environment that prevents psychological and behavioral problems.

The inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) brought about protest marches across the nation, not seen since the demonstrations to stop the Vietnam War. King’s revolutionary spirit was evident in nonviolent action to stop police action against black people through “taking a knee” at sports events and opposition to white supremacy marches such as the one in Charlottesville (VA). The fight for everyone’s access to health care was evident at legislators’ townhalls, offices, and meetings when Republicans made their failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As King said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Another of King’s movements was opposition to economic inequality, pushed forward by the Republican tax “reform” law giving most of the tax cuts to the rich and the biggest corporations. King was killed during a fight against the “glaring contrast of poverty and wealth”: he was in Memphis on behalf of striking sanitation workers when he was slain.

King’s words from over 50 years ago resonate in this era of funding militarization over a safety net:

“Congress appropriates military funds with alacrity and generosity. It appropriates poverty funds with miserliness and grudging reluctance. The government is emotionally committed to the war. It is emotionally hostile to the needs of the poor.”

In 2011, Hamden Rice wrote how King liberated blacks from much of their fears. Seven years later, the strength of white supremacists and the control of a racist political party is taking the entire country back to a reign of terror for all minorities. Over 60 million people voted in a president who tweeted a temper tantrum against a black man, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), accusing him of having a “crime-infested” district that’s in “horrible shape and falling apart.” Trump ignored the fact that Lewis’ ethnically and economically diverse district is home to the prestigious Emory University. To Donald Trump (DT), black people can only represent districts that fit DT’s vision of all blacks. Six years after this article, the country is returning to a reign of terror for everyone except white male Christians.

In explaining why he could discriminate against LGBTQ people in public housing if he were confirmed a Secretary of HUD, Ben Carson said, “Extra rights means you get to redefine everything for everybody else.” Evangelical Christians claim these “extra rights … to redefine everything for everybody else.”

King lives on in the activism of people like Rev. William Barber who has been leading civil-rights protests in North Carolina for five years and will expand his protests to “A National Call for Moral Revival,” 40 days of action throughout the nation to protest King’s “triple evils” of racism, poverty and militarism, and ecological devastation. This new campaign describes itself as “A National Call for Moral Revival.”

The past year has sorely tested the freedoms in the United States, including its democratic traditions. Last year, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attacked a civil rights icon on the weekend of Martin Luther King, Dr.’s birthday; this year he insulted people of color both in the United States and throughout the world. We must work to make the United States that the Founders envisioned, where all people are “created equal” with “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

  • We must keep rejecting the daily events of the federal administration as “normal,” as DDT protects racism and racists through his philosophy and policies.
  • We must keep protesting to keep freedom—including religious freedom for all.
  • We must keep fighting for equal social and economic rights.
  • We must keep honoring the act of protest to effect necessary change.
  • We must keep focusing on the end goal of democracy in the United States.

Tomorrow is also the 25th anniversary of national Religious Freedom Day to commemorate the enactment of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786. Written by Thomas Jefferson, this law is the basis for the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of religion and its separation of church and state. It removed the Anglican Church as the official state church and provided that no one can be forced to attend any religious institution or support it with taxes. People became free to believe as they wished with beliefs that “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” The government will have no concern in religious beliefs, and all citizens are equal.

No mention of God or Christianity exists in “The Virginia Plan.” The only reference to religion in the text is in Article 6, preventing “religious tests for public office.”

After the Virginia Statute passed in 1786, James Madison served as a main author of the Constitution in 1787 and principal author of the First Amendment, passed in 1791, which included Freedom of Religion. Because some people wanted churches to have special consideration, he wrote that the Statute contained “within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

This state law and Jefferson’s writings refute claims from Christian Right leaders that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that the Founding Fathers meant that fundamentalist Christianity should rule the country. Jefferson also explained that the legislature rejected language “by the great majority” to define “Jesus Christ” as “the holy author of our religion.” The Founding Fathers rejected the idea of a theocracy for the United States and rejected any concept that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

Religious freedom scholar Frederick Clarkson wrote, “Religious freedom is the source of all the other freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the First Amendment.” Without this right, people would lose free speech and free press, suffering from government coercion. King believed that civil freedom stands on religious freedom.

Throughout the history of the United States, conservatives have used “religious freedom” to discriminate against others, to eliminate equal rights. Segregationists cried “religious freedom” when they supported slavery and fought interracial marriage, and fundamentalists used the same excuse in their discrimination of LGBTQ people in the use of government and business services as well as the use of bathrooms by transgender people. “Freedom” is the conservatives’ excuse for suppressing votes by minorities and giving most of the nation’s resources to the wealthy. Conservatives use religion as an excuse to prevent women from accessing reproductive care, including obtaining contraceptives.

The day to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. is also a time to protest the efforts from the Christian Right to redefine religious freedom to include freedom for business and institutional leaders (both government and civil) to impose their religious beliefs on employees and the public. It is a day to remember the ruling in the court case of General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, that North Carolina’s ban on clergy performing marriage ceremonies without first obtaining a civil marriage license was unconstitutional. It is a day to continue the battle against an oppressive government led by people who plan to make the United States into a theocratic oligarchy.

President Obama always volunteered his services on Martin Luther King Day; DDT went to one of his golf courses. In the past, presidents served the people. The man inaugurated a year ago expects the people to serve him.

January 14, 2018

Fill the Swamp

All presidential nominations expired at the end of 2017, but these are some people Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants for his legacy.

Appointments:

Robert Weaver, nominee to head up the $6 billion federal agency Indian Health Service (HIS) overseeing medical care for over two million Native Americans, has been found to “misrepresent” his work at St. John’s Regional Medical Center (Joplin, MO) in Senate confirmation hearings. He described his “entry level” job as “variously hospital administration positions.” Copies of his employment records were destroyed in a tornado, but no one at the hospital at that time can remember him. Asked about his IHS experience, a DHS spokeswoman said Weaver needed the system as a child.

Andrew Wheeler has reemerged as nominee for deputy administrator of the EPA. Called “overwhelmingly unfit for such a crucial position,” he worked for the lobbying company that supported Murray Energy in erasing environmental regulations at EPA. Wheeler is accompanied by other unfit nominations, including Kathleen Hartnett White, head of Council on Environmental Quality; Barry Lee Myers, head of NOAA; and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), administrator of NASA. White, for example, thinks that science should not “dictate policy.” Lee owns a weather company and hopes to privatize NOAA. Bridenstine has no scientific credentials and wants to defund research into climate change which he denies.

Thomas Homan, acting head of ICE and nominee for Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, was picked by DDT because he looks “nasty” and “mean.” Some of his outstanding features:

  • He arrested both parents with a sick infant and a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy on their way to the hospital as well as arresting a transgender domestic abuse survivor at the courthouse where she was requesting a protective order against her abusive ex-partner.
  • He supervised a department allowing the removal of medications of a Dreamer before ridiculing him for his disability and failing to investigate thousands of sexual assault complaints by detained immigrants. ICE agents have given people unnecessary strip searches, forced them to eat moldy food, and denied pain medication for debilitating diseases.
  • He told DOJ that he wanted to sue and possibly imprison anyone responsible for complying with any of his agency’s demands.

Until DDT came into his life, Homan didn’t seem to be an extremist; he was set to retire. Obama officials say, “None of us recognize this guy.” Criticized by ICE hardliners, he switched to being tough and unyielding—just what DDT wants.

Kevin McIntyre, long-time corporate attorney for energy companies, was appointed as chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC), the nation’s top energy regulatory agency with no need to be confirmed. This past week FERC, with four DDT appointments of five members, unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to support struggling nuclear and coal power plants. Perry wanted utility companies to pay all plants, no matter how obsolete, “for all their costs and all the power they produce, whether those plants are needed or not.” FERC also supported the right of New York state to oppose the Constitution Pipeline. Other states—Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania—are also opposing pipelines on the basis of their impacts. Nebraskans are again appealing the route that the state Public Service Commission picked for the Keystone Pipeline.

Marie Royce, wife of the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been nominated for assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) announced his retirement from Congress at the same time. He is the eighth committee chair and the 31st House Republican to resign thus far. Term limits would cause him to lose the chair position. Believing he could not win, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is another of the Republicans leaving the House  although it is rumored that he might run in an adjoining district if GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigns. Hunter suffers from ethics investigations for misuse of campaign funds but says he doesn’t plan to resign.

Taylor Weyeneth, a 24-year-old former low-level campaign worker, is being elevated from deputy “drug czar” to a White House liaison role with the agency that coordinates the government’s multibillion dollar anti-drug initiatives and the opioid epidemic curbs.

On the Judicial Side:

In a confirmation hearing this past week for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court, Kurt Engelhardt defended two of his rulings against women in sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination cases. In one case, a Rite Aid employee said that male co-workers brushed up against her, cupped her breasts, and asked to go home with her. Engelhardt rejected the case because the harassment was neither “severe nor physically threatening and the plaintiff liked her job and performed well in it.” When asked about whether “cornering an employee [is] not physically threatening?” Engelhardt waffled for a while before he said he did not remember the specifics of the case.

In another case, a woman was fired two weeks after giving birth following bed rest for the last 16 weeks of her pregnancy because of complications. She declared discrimination because a male colleague was not fired although he took medical leave for the same length of time because of a gangrenous toe. Engelhardt ruled for the employer because “the fact that plaintiff’s absence was cause of pregnancy does not dispense with the general requirement that employees must show up for work.” In the hearing, he said that he didn’t remember the specifics of that case either although his ruling was that she wasn’t treated any worse than the man who was not fired.

During a speech to the Federalist Society, Engelhardt praised the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down sodomy laws, as “one man’s submission of personal preference in favor of adherence to constitutional principle.”

In the hearing for Howard Nielson, nominated as federal district judge in Utah, questions addressed his defense of California’s Prop 8, the ballot initiative recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman. He had argued that homosexuality was a choice and that Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself for being gay and in a long-term relationship. Nielson said that he was only using his clients’ arguments and that he had called homosexuality a “maladjustment,” not a choice. Later Nielson co-wrote an amicus brief in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized marriage equality.

Nielson also worked in the Office of Legal Counsel for George W. Bush and defended the “torture memos.” He wrote a memorandum to remove protections for people in custody under the Geneva Conventions, arguing that the protection of civilians in enemy custody or detention applies only to civilians held on U.S. territory. His position that the U.S. could torture civilians outside its boundaries would mean that others could do the same to U.S. civilians outside their countries’ boundaries.

Civil rights leaders argue that Thomas Farr, nominee for a North Carolina federal court, is “a product of the modern white supremacist machine.” Counsel to former Sen. Jesse Helms, great fan of racial segregation, Farr defended voter oppression, a serious problem in the area over which Farr would preside. During Farr’s work on the Helms campaign, postcards were mailed to 100,000 black voters telling them that they could be arrested and prosecuted if they voted because were ineligible to vote. Despite Farr’s denial about involvement, an investigation showed differently.

Stuart Kyle Duncan is back as nominee for the 5th Circuit Court. Staunchly anti-choice and pro-Christian control, he maintained that harms to a lesbian mother who lost her parental rights were “overstated.” He also argued for the voter suppression laws against blacks in North Carolina before the Supreme Court and represented Hobby Lobby as lead counsel to remove women’s reproductive rights. Duncan claims to have been Appellate Chief in Louisiana and then the Solicitor General, but that job doesn’t exist. Instead he worked for a private firm, making hundreds of thousands from taxpayer funds. Also troubling is his connection with the religiously conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group.

DDT’s failed judicial nominees are sticking round. Highly ignorant and bigoted Brett Talley stayed as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Policy, which oversees DOJ’s vetting of candidates for judicial nominations, and dumb-as-a-post Matthew Petersen is on the FEC to help determine the enforcement of campaign finance laws.

Sexual Misconduct:

Top on the week’s list is DDT. According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to former adult-film star Stormy Daniels (aka Stephanie Clifford) a month before the 2016 election to shut her up about a sexual encounter with DDT. The newspaper had reported before the election that Playboy model Karen McDougal was paid $150,000 by the DDT-supporting National Enquirer to conceal her story of a 2006 affair with DDT, a year after DDT’s marriage to Melania.

Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens has been accused of having an affair with his hairstylist and then threatening to release nude photographs of her if she publicized the relationship. At their initial sexual encounter, he taped her hands to exercise rings and blindfolded her before taking the nude photos. Greitens admitted the affair but refused to talk about the blackmail. He switched from the Democratic party to being a Republican after he said he was running for governor.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for the resignation of the state’s GOP speaker of the house, Jeff Hoover, after information was released about Hoover’s secret settlement of a sexual harassment claim by a woman staff member. Hoover resigned as speaker but stayed on the legislative body.

And on it goes.

 

January 13, 2018

DDT: Good, Bad & Weird

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

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

The Good:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bad:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Weird:

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

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

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

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

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

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

More about the DDT saga tomorrow.

January 12, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-one – ‘Unhelpful’

Almost 29 months ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave this speech to kick off his campaign for the U.S. presidency. About people coming across the border from Mexico, he said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. When he became the last standing GOP candidate and then won the Electoral College, well-meaning people said to give him a chance, that he’s not an ideologue. In a few more days DDT will have been in control for a year, and he is an ideologue, never deviating from that first speech on June 16, 2015. Yesterday he continued to define his immigration policy in a meeting within the Oval Office:

“Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?”

“Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

At that same meeting, he said, “We should have more people from Norway,” DDT said. Top in the world for happiness and personal freedom as well as one of the richest per capita, Norway has conception-to-death health care and other public assistance, unlike the United States which ranks 23rd in income inequality and 21st in personal freedom.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did report, “I said my piece directly to [Trump] yesterday,” and Graham told Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) that the revelations made by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) are essentially “accurate.” Other isolated voices disturbed by DDT’s remarks are Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ). Yet most of the GOP responses to DDT’s comments are appalling: two Republicans attending the meeting suffered amnesia, two stayed mute, and one merely said he attended the meeting. White House spokesman Raj Shah defended DDT by saying, “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.” Some White House staffers believe that DDT’s racist remarks will resonate with his base. Ann Coulter supported this belief when she said that DDT’s comments showed that “he’s trying to win me back.”

Today, DDT participated in a White House event with King’s nephew, Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. to honor Farris’ uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr. DDT refused to answer questions from the press, but Farris said that he talked with DDT about his comments before the ceremony. He denies that DDT is a racist and called him “racially ignorant.” Definition of racist: “a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”

The GOP leadership was pitiful. RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had no comments. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called DDT’s remarks “unfortunate” and “unhelpful.” “Unhelpful” may become the popular response; it is the same word that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) used in an interview about DDT’s statements.

Two days before DDT’s temper tantrum about immigration, he concluded in a filmed 55-minute meeting with about two dozen legislative leaders from both parties that he would accept anything that Congress wanted. During the meeting, DDT kept changing his position and agreed with the last person who had spoken. He first agreed with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) about DACA being a clean bill with no other issues. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reminded him about border security (aka wall), the end to “chain migration” or family-based migration, and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery so he added those to the “clean” DACA bill. His proposal became a comprehensive immigration deal which he earlier said could be postponed.

People surmise that he allowed filming of the meeting to disprove the allegations in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury. Yet his incoherence was obvious, and the book’s publisher has shipped over 700,000 copies with another 1.4 million copies on order.

DDT’s immigration policy is illustrated by his deporting 200,000 El Salvadoran immigrants, some of them here since 2001, through ending their Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This action may break up families as parents may leave their 190,000 U.S.-born children instead of taking them back to the extremely dangerous El Salvador. A third of the people who DDT plans to deport are homeowners; mayors of Houston, Los Angeles and other cities with large number of Salvadorans are urging DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to consider the contributions of TPS recipients. The loss of TPS recipients will also cost U.S. employers almost $1 billion in hiring and retraining new employees. Over the past decade, TPS recipients have contributed $6.9 billion to Social Security and Medicare.

Another way to get rid of legal immigrants, Operation Janus revokes citizenship for naturalized citizens who lack proper fingerprint records. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to appropriately use fingerprint records for 315,000 people, and they may be subject to having their citizenship revoked.

DDT’s “unhelpful” statements will be useful to overturn bans on refugees as it was in California when U.S. District Judge William Alsup blocked DDT’s removal of protections for undocumented “dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children. When Alsup also left safeguards against deportation in place for almost 700,000 participants in the DACA program, he cited DDT’s support for the program as part of his justification. In September, DDT tweeted:

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the decision “outrageous” because DDT, who rules by executive order, “is committed to the rule of law.”

During his speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation, DDT lied about how small farmers will be getting a great deal of money from the $5.5 trillion tax package, another lie, and told them:

“Oh, are you happy you voted for me! You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”

He also asked for a standing ovation. Economists at the Department of Agriculture project lower farm output and increased taxes on the lowest-earning farms. Withdrawing from trade pacts will also hurt farmers if DDT follows through with his threats.

Unhelpful to DDT and the GOP was Sen. Diane Feinstein’s release of the Glenn Simpson’s ten-hour testimony about Fusion GPS, investigator Christopher Steele, and the investigation of DDT before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier, its chair, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made Steele the first person accused of wrongdoing in the Russian connection when they lied about Fusion’s being involved only with Democrats. The action was taken without any Democrat’s involvement. For almost a year, the conservative Washington Free Beacon, financially supported by GOP Paul Singer, paid for the investigation before DDT took the lead for the GOP candidate in April 2016 and Democrats paid for the investigation. Grassley had reneged on a promise to release the testimony if Fusion was amenable.  Feinstein explained the testimony’s release:

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”

Clarification of key GOP errors regarding the testimony:

  • Despite Sanders description of Fusion GPS as linked to Democrats, the company has many GOP clients.
  • Steele has “a Sterling reputation” for not exaggerating or fabricating who felt professional obligated to approach the FBI about his information because a security threat if a presidential candidate is being blackmailed by information from Russian cameras in luxury hotel rooms.
  • The FBI already had other intelligence, some of from inside DDT’s campaign, that supported Steele’s information.
  • Steele severed his connection with the FBI after the New York Times reported that the FBI had found no DDT connections to Russia a few days before the election for fear that the DDT’s people were manipulating the FBI for political ends.
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) became involved through his advisor David Kramer because Simpson and Steele “were mutually concerned about whether the United States had just elected someone who was compromised by a hostile foreign power.”
  • DDT’s publicity described Carter Page as “a zero, a lightweight” (Simpson’s words), but he was discovered “to be an espionage suspect who was, in fact, someone that the FBI had been investigating for years.”
  • Simpson said, “Most importantly the allegation that we were working for the Russian government then or ever is simply not true. I don’t know what to say. It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phony about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.”
  • The investigation concentrated on character and competence with no concern regarding political views. It was a search for the truth.

In short, the infamous Steele dossier was originally contracted by anti-DDT Republicans and shared with the FBI before the election, an agency that ignored any publicity about it while they widely publicized and debunked Anthony Weiner email connection with candidate Hillary Clinton only three weeks before election day. To cover for DDT, Republicans are still lying about the factual information in the dossier and former FBI director James Comey relationship with investigator Robert Mueller. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz is peddling the lie that hiring a foreign national to do work for a campaign is illegal. News about the testimony’s release faded after DDT’s “shithole” description of many of the world’s countries, but the GOP will have more difficulty lying about its authenticity.

Much more happened in the past week. Tune in tomorrow.

January 7, 2018

Evangelicals Aim to Control the U.S. People through Discrimination

The Alabama senatorial election is over, and the true “moral majority” won when Roy Moore lost. Religion is at a crossroads between those who use their beliefs as a guidepost to becoming more moral, generous, forgiving, and compassionate and others, supposedly religious, who oppose all those characteristics that Jesus espoused. Like David Brooks, they think that everyone should give up their rights to fundamentalist, evangelical Christian to be “neighborly” and for “community-building.”

Fundamentalist Christians are using the judicial system to force the 75 percent of non-evangelical people in the U.S. to follow fundamentalist Christian believes through a legal army called Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). This group of “freedom” advocates in ADF has trained thousands of lawyers and sent many of them to government levels where they work to establish control. Its over 3,000 attorneys litigate cases pro bono. Its international presence fights LGBTQ equality in the European Union and advises Romanian parliamentarians.

AG Jeff Sessions consults with ADF in drafting DOJ religious-freedom issues, ADF Noel Francisco is DDT’s solicitor general, 18 ADF lawyers work in 10 attorney-general offices, and DDT has appointed at least four ADF judges. Trenton Garmon, the attorney representing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after women accused him of sexual assault, belongs to ADF’s “Honor Corps” for donating more than 450 pro bono hours to ADF.

ADF was created almost 25 years ago to protect Colorado’s Amendment 2, a state constitutional amendment allowing discrimination against LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court overturned Amendment 2 in Romer v. Evans (1996) on the basis that it violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal-protection clause. ADF’s co-founders maintained that rights for other people threatened them as Christians, and ADF burgeoned, now receiving largely anonymous $50 million donations annually and placing 58 staff attorneys in its Arizona headquarters and Washington, DC offices.

All ADF “allied attorneys” must agree with an 11-point statement of faith, including a belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, marriage for only one man and one woman, and homosexuality as “sinful and offensive to God.” Their ideology opposes secular government and law with the belief that conservative Christians face persecution. Only five appellate cases involved non-Christian religious plaintiffs; the others supported religion in the schools and during legislative sessions, anti-choice, anti-abortion activities, and, most recently, campus free-speech wars maintaining that a student counselor could refuse to counsel LGBTQ clients.

As LGBTQ people earned the right to marry and have some other federal benefits, ADF shifted from the unworthiness of same-gender couples to marry to the position that same-gender marriage violates Christian rights, an argument in Masterpiece Cakeshop. ADF declares that Christians are victims if LGBTQ people have rights. The current Supreme Court case is about limiting LGBTQ from equal access to public accommodations by declaring that county clerks, website designers, florists, photographers, and bakers are persecuted by civil rights laws.

In 2004, ADF claimed that “public officials must follow the laws—even laws with which they disagree” when same-gender couples were issued marriage licenses in California. A decade later ADF is claiming that Christians have the right to violate the law in refusing service and goods. Now ADF purports that “free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs”—and persuaded AG Jeff Sessions to install this position into official policy. Their arguments are consistently designed to give Christians the ability to disregard, disobey, and dismantle laws that they see as persecuting them. In September, Sessions argued in favor of restricting a state civil-rights law.

Kristen Waggoner, the ADF lawyer supporting the Colorado baker in the current Supreme Court case, has represented a pharmacist who used religious beliefs to not fill prescriptions for emergency contraceptives and a Washington state florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-gender wedding. Although Waggoner’s argument is that the baker doesn’t object to his gay customers, over one-fourth of the 146 ADF appellate briefs argue for restricting LGBTQ rights. ADF has used terms such as promiscuous and unfit to parent to describe LGBTQ people in briefs against marriage equality.

A former ADF allied attorney, Noel Francisco, DOJ Solicitor General, argued before the Supreme Court in his defense of the baker that the law should allow some “breathing space” for “a small group of individuals” and not compel them “to engage in speech” at events “to which they are deeply opposed.” In his questionnaire for his confirmation, he did not list his membership in ADF because his impartiality in ADF cases might be questioned. DOJ refused to comment about Francisco’s participation undergoing an ethics review. While in private practice, Francisco had given a speech at the Heritage Foundation calling for lawyers representing religious groups to “build powerful cases” with “sympathetic plaintiffs” and to “focus on the florist, on the baker, the sincere small businessmen under attack.” The Southern Poverty Center has declared ADF a hate group; thus a member of a hate group is arguing for the government against the people of the United States before the Supreme Court.

In arguing for the baker, ADF asked for vast exemptions from civil-rights laws for conservative Christians, a 180-degree turn from seven years ago in its amicus brief regarding a case about a public school’s use of a church for graduation ceremonies violating the Constitution’s establishment clause. The ADF dismissed the possible objections of Jewish and Muslim students who could not enter a church. The state, ADF argued, “cannot possibly organize its affairs to comport with the subjective views of all potentially religious groups.”

The Supreme Court case brought by a baker will determine whether businesses can turn away people because of who they are. A common response from conservatives is that people should just go elsewhere when they are refused. It’s easy for people who don’t risk rejection to give this solution because it makes the discrimination seem trivial and it assumes that there will be equal services in the same vicinity. Beyond the fact that LGBTQ people, especially those who do not live in a metropolitan area, cannot always find alternative services, searching for these services after rejection has a negative affect on both psychological and physical well-being.

This discrimination results in humiliation and diminishment of lives. People always wonder if someone will refuse to serve them no matter where they go. According to a report by Caitlin Rooney and Laura E. Durso, “discrimination, prejudice, and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as well as an increased risk for physical health problems, such as cardiovascular disease…. LGBT people who had experienced discrimination had higher average stress levels than LGBT people who had not.” The impact is permanent because the anticipation of discrimination always exists. After a florist turned away a gay couple, they had the wedding in their home with only eleven guests instead of the celebration that they wanted. A recent survey showed that one-third of LGBTQ people experiencing discrimination were seven times more likely to avoid public places such as stores and restaurant as LGBTQ people who did not.

Recent research shows that pervasive discrimination continues to negatively impact all aspects of LGBTQ lives as they are forced to change their everyday lives. LGBTQ people change their persona and dressing style to avoid bias, hide personal relationships, and commute long distances to work. Even trying to “pass,” eleven to 28 percent of LBG workers lose promotions because of sexual identity, and 27 percent of transgender workers are fired, not hired, or denied promotions. Discrimination causes LGBTQ people to lose homes, access to education, and participation in public life as well as to suffer a sense of well-being. Before the Affordable Care Act in 2010, over half LGBTQ people faced discrimination by healthcare providers. Even in 2014, More recently, a pediatrician refused to care for a child with lesbian parents.

LGBTQ people no longer have support from the Department of Justice. Earlier this year, the DOJ argued in a federal court that employers should be able to fire an employee because he is gay.  Last July, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit ruled that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the Texas Supreme Court ruled that married same-gender couples do not have the same rights as married heterosexual couples.

Evangelical Christians have separated themselves from Christ when they support the election of a pedophile while claiming that businesses should not serve LGBTQ people. The baker and the ADF are not arguing about freedom of speech or religion; they are arguing for the right to discriminate against anyone in all ways—to refuse to rent to someone or allow people to adopt children or give them health care. The culture of the time increasingly pushes the refusal of services to LGBTQ people, minorities—anyone who the religious right considers “unsuitable.”

In declaring “freedom,” ADF argues that government and business can violate the civil rights of marginalized groups. A Supreme Court that rules in favor of the baker can allow discrimination in other retail, housing, lodging, education, and medical needs. In another six months, the Supreme Court will tell the people of the world whether legalized discrimination is the law in the United States.

January 6, 2018

The U.S. Headed for the Gutter

Left alone this weekend, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is still angrily tweeting about Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury and describing himself as “a very stable genius”:

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart….”

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum describes DDT as “the country’s leading racist conspiracy theorist,” “the multi-bankrupt least trusted name in real estate,” and “the protege of Roy Cohn’s repeatedly accused of ties to organized crime.”  According to Frum, DDT’s danger is “not the man, but the system of power surrounding the man.”

DDT’s power system in just the past month:

Despite Department of Defense opposition, DDT wants to open drilling in all but one 26 areas currently off limits in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans and the Gulf of Mexico—over 90% of U.S. oceans. Atlantic-coast governors and legislators of both parties oppose the drilling from Maine to the Florida Keys. An oil spill the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill off the coast of North Carolina would cost almost 350,000 jobs and $35 billion in revenue. Even avid DDT supporters oppose his plan.

Republicans gave oil companies $500 billion this week when they let a tax of nine cents per barrel on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products expire, a tax used to respond to accidents. The current administration also plans to reverse safety rules created after the horrific Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and spill in 2010.

The Interior Department revoked a requirement for fossil fuel companies to reveal the chemicals in fracking fluids and regulations that tightened standards for well construction and wastewater. It also suspended a study on the safety of offshore drilling platforms and health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining in central Appalachia. On February 8, 2018, two million acres of Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are available to mining and drilling for free. Gone are the wild red rock canyons, valued hunting and fishing, and tens of thousands of Native American archaeological sites while private companies reap the profits of the nation’s fossil fuel resources.

In addition to these rollbacks, the Interior Department renewed copper and nickel mining leases in the pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness Area, opening up the area to one of the most toxic industries. The leases are a gift to Chilean mining billionaire Andrónico Luksic, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s landlord for their house in Washington, D.C. People can oppose the decision by signing this petition and contact the Interior Department.

Other destructive administrative actions in December:

  • A plan to replace the Clean Power Plan.
  • Removal of climate change from global threats to national security, one of the Pentagon’s concerns. Exemption of the Endangered Species Act requirements in the $81 billion disaster bill.
  • Indefinite postponement of a previously announced ban of highly toxic chemicals methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP), and trichloroethylene (TCE).
  • Executive order “streamlining” the leasing and permitting processes for exploration, production and refining of vaguely defined “critical minerals.”
  • Revocation of the Resource Management Planning Rule white advocated new technologies to improve transparency related to mining on public lands by stating that this rule “shall be treated as if it had never taken effect.”
  • Lack of prosecution for “incidental” killings of 1,000 migratory bird species by oil, gas, wind, and solar operators, illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • Dramatic expansion of the neonicotinoid insecticide thiamethoxam proved damaging or deadly to bees.
  • Prioritization of oil and gas leasing and development near and inside greater sage-grouse habitat management areas.
  • Extinction of the beaverpond marstonia snail extinct, the first in DDT’s administration.

The DOJ may ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, a move to skew the census’ ability to determine population for voting and federal funds. Since 1790, the decennial census, mandated by the U.S. Constitution, has been an effort to count everyone living in the nation, legally or otherwise. The question will further undercount the Hispanic population, giving white people an even greater advantage in elections. Families in the U.S. legally might decline to answer if they house friends or relatives who are not, increasing census costs for following up on nonresponders.

DDT is easing up fines for nursing homes that hurt or put residents in grave risk of injury. Since 2013, 40 percent of nursing homes—almost 6,500—have been cited at least once for a serious violation, and Medicare fined two-thirds of these homes. Some of these violations have led to the deaths of residents. DDT’s action follows the overturning of a ban on nursing homes from requiring residents to settle disputes through arbitration instead of court action.

Churches don’t pay taxes, but they’ll get tax money from the federal government after FEMA changed its guidelines to send them disaster relief funds. Religious institutions are now “community centers, without regard to their secular or religious nature,” FEMA said although “facilities primarily used for political, athletic, religious, recreational, vocational, or academic training, conferences, or similar activities are ineligible” for FEMA funds, according to the agency.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will encourage continued racial segregation in housing by delaying until 2020 a requirement that communities submit plans to reverse patterns of racial residential segregation in applications for block grants and housing aid. Plans already filed will no longer be reviewed for segregation.

DDT erased the deal for federal funds to pay for half the multi-billion-dollar Amtrak tunnel connecting New Jersey to Penn Station.

Continued sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes from encouraging substandard healthcare plans for small businesses and self-employed people that could defraud customers, refuse coverage for basic needs, and leave people with pre-exiting conditions and serious health needs with much higher premiums and fewer choices.

DDT has disbanded his election fraud committee after multiple lawsuits, including one from a Democratic member who sued to find out when the group would meet and what it’s agenda would be. An executive order turns the findings over to the DHS that will decide what to do next. Panel members were directed to keep their materials for future lawsuits. During the committee tenure, a 52-year-old Democratic commissioner died during surgery, and a staff member was arrested for possessing child pornography. The dissolution of this commission is less than a week after DDT fired every member of his advisory council on HIV/AIDS.

After DDT disbanded the voting fraud commission designed to suppress minority, women, and lower-income voting rights, he again claimed that a large number of people are voting illegally and called for voter suppression through mandated IDs:

“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”

The DOJ is now supporting strict voter ID laws.

AG Jeff Sessions gave more money to employees by reversing a guideline about disabled people that requires them a greater chance at being in an integrated setting. Employing people in a segregated setting means that employees can be paid pennies on the dollar.

One DDT administrative plan with bipartisanship opposition is Sessions’ crackdown on state cannabis legislation. Despite federal belief that cannabis is equal to heroin, 46 states have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, sometimes reducing opioid and alcohol addiction, and eight states have legalized cannabis for recreational use. A law prohibiting the federal government from blocking state laws expires on January 19 with the end of the temporary spending bill, and Sessions is eliminating the “Cole memo” that stopped federal resources from interfering if states didn’t spread cannabis beyond their borders. Beyond the advantages of medical use, legalized cannabis has helped the economy through increased taxes and jobs. Legalization of cannabis could boost the market to $20 billion in annual sales that fund schools and other public services.

During his campaign, DDT promised that he would not use federal resources to block state laws; now he’s supporting Sessions, in opposition to 64 percent of the people in the U.S. who support cannabis legalization.

Conservatives are riled about Sessions impinging on states’ rights—usually a GOP position. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), known for supporting DDT almost 100 percent of the time, has said that he will put holds on all DOJ nominees in the six divisions needing senate confirmation if Sessions goes through with his crackdown. Gardner tweeted:

“This reported action directly contradicts what Attorney General Sessions told me prior to his confirmation. With no prior notice to Congress, the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.”

Within less than a year, DDT has declared war on all the offices that were created to protect people. He has trampled on endangered species, the nation’s resources, human rights, states’ rights, consumer protection, integration, health, open communication, transparency of government, any vestige of peace, and honor—every area that makes people’s lives better. He hates President Obama so much that he plans to destroy every accomplishment that benefits people while using his office to enrich himself personally and cause war around the world. The leader of the United States, a man filled with hate and revenge, is determined to drag the United States into the gutter. The question is whether the people in the nation will allow him to accomplish this goal.

January 5, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty – ‘Fire and Fury’

When I started the week, I thought that the possibility of nuclear war might be the lead. When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered talks to South Korea about sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month, he wished “for peaceful resolution with our southern border.” Yet he warned the U.S. that his country’s nuclear ambitions were complete with the launch button “always on the desk in my office.” Always obsessed with size, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted that his button is “bigger and more powerful.” Technically, DDT’s desk button only orders Diet Coke. DDT’s threat occurred two days after Kim’s statement but immediately after a Fox segment about it. Other tweets are immediately after Fox segments.

The big story of the week, however, came from Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House. Excerpts from Steve Bannon, DDT’s former campaign CEO, White House strategist, and BFF, led to DDT declaring war on BannonDDT said: “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” In the book, Bannon predicted that Mueller will “crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV” over the president’s son’s meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016 and called Jr.’s meeting “treasonous” and “unpatriotic.” In an earlier Vanity Fair interview, Bannon had called Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, “the railhead of all bad decisions.”

When Bannon left the White House, DDT said that he “would be a tough and smart new voice at” his website, Breitbart News. Maybe even better than before. Fake News needs the competition!” Now DDT’s ironically said that Bannon is “only in it for himself.”

DDT’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon, stating that he violated a non-disclosure agreement about the campaign and White House and that litigation is “eminent.” Nothing in the letter indicates that Bannon was lying. Fire and Fury’s publisher, Henry Holt, moved its release ahead to today, four days earlier, and it’s already sold out most places. DDT’s lawyers also sent Wolff’s publisher, Henry Holt, a demand for stopping publication and issuing “an apology to @realDonaldTrump for defamatory statements made thus far.”

Excerpts from DDT’s associates and friends depict him as a fool, a “moron,” and deranged—something that DDT cannot abide. Although DDT claims that he authorized no access to Wolff into the White House, people saw him as a frequent presence. DDT will have an impossible time refuting it because the negative descriptions are so widely spread—from his near illiteracy to his baldness. People will question the veracity of Wolff’s book, but it’s drawn tremendous attention that doesn’t seem to be dissipating. The one guarantee is that both Fire and Fury’s author and publisher will make millions on its sales.

In the breakup between Bannon and DDT, the father-daughter billionaire pair who bought the presidency for DDT is keeping him and abandoning Bannon. Rebekah Mercer declared that she will not fund his future ventures, which could include Breitbart and Bannon’s running for government.

Proof that the DDT team was involved with Russian meddling in the presidential election, the other focus of the week, continues to grow. Eighteen months ago, a drunk George Papadopoulos told Australia’s top diplomat in Britain that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton after he said that Moscow had thousands of stolen emails to embarrass Clinton. Australian officials notified the FBI about Papadopoulos’ revelations, leading the FBI to start its investigation in July 2016. DDT defenders are proved wrong about their claim that the infamous Christopher Steele dossier initiated the FBI exploration. DDT’s campaign knew about Russia’s stealing the documents before he became the candidate, and the GOP campaign lied about it to cover for Russian collusion. After this information was publicized, DDT held an impromptu and often incoherent interview with the New York Times in which he falsely claimed about “collusion between Russia and the Democrats.”

Last spring, DDT told his White House counsel Don McGahn to stop AG Jeff Sessions from recusing himself in Russia collusion issues. When McGahn failed in this mission, the president blew up in front of several White House officials and demanded that the attorney general should protect him. DDT asked, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” referring to his former lawyer and fixer who had supported former Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) during his 1950s witch hunts of Communists. The AG represents the people of the United States, not the president.

Documented information about DDT’s possible obstruction of justice through blocking the investigation comes from handwritten notes that Reince Priebus took while he was DDT’s chief of staff, for example DDT’s discussion about asking Comey to tell people that DDT was not under investigation. Mueller now has these notes as well as information about how White House lawyer Uttam Dhillon misled DDT to make him think he couldn’t fire Comey in a misguided attempt to protect DDT. Dhillon was right about the danger because Comey’s firing led to the appointment of a special counsel.

Mueller’s information also corroborates Comey’s memos about DDT asking him to fire former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

During their December vacation, conservative GOP legislators and pundits obsessively tried to discredit Mueller, the FBI, and the DOJ, going so far as to demand that the federal agencies be “purged.” Moderate Republicans have expressed concern about these radical viewpoints. The more the information about Russia, the quieter these Republicans have become.

One attempt to block the Russian investigation comes from GOP chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (IA), and member Lindsey Graham (SC), who are asking the DOJ to investigate whether British intelligence officer Christopher Steele lied to the FBI. Steele is the first person marked by Republicans for wrongdoing after a year of investigation. Grassley had said that he would make the dossier testimony public if he received permission from the company that provided it. They okayed the release, but Grassley didn’t follow through. The DOJ is also investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Clinton Foundation.

Despite opposition from the DOJ and the FBI, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will allow House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to obtain information about the investigation into the Christopher Steele dossier documenting ties between Russia and DDT. Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray had objected to this release because Nunes can then turn over detailed and sensitive information—communications with confidential sources, interviews, lists of meeting—to DDT as Nunes has done in the past.

Paul Manafort, indicted by Robert Mueller for fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, is suing Mueller and the DOJ, claiming that his business dealings with Russia have nothing to do with that investigation. Mueller’s letter of appointment guarantees him the right to “prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of [whether Trump campaign officials colluded with those Russian efforts at interference].” Manafort is facing 12 counts that include money laundering, making false statements, and failing to register as a foreign government agent. He may be trying to curry favor with DDT who could face many of the same charges along with son Donald Trump, Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

A curious leak from the Mueller investigation is that the grand jury, supposedly secret, looks like “a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley,” according to the New York Post. An anonymous tipster reported that 11 of the 20 are black “and two were wearing ‘peace T-shirts.’” People who study DDT’s speech patterns have said that the leaks sounds much like him because of the term “central casting” in its description, one which DDT frequently uses.

January 2 was a 16-tweet day for DDT, starting at 4:09 am with a defense of the Iranian protesters who he won’t allow into the United States:

“The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

Within the hour he sent a vicious tweet, including the assertion that the DOJ is part of the “deep state”:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others”

The term “deep state” originated in Turkey expressing the fringe conspiracy theory that bureaucrats will manipulate or control government policy. Leading supporters of this belief are Breitbart, Steven Bannon, and Alex Jones. DDT participated, for example when he accused President Obama of “tapping” his apartment in Trump Tower. For the first time, however, DDT used the term in a tweet.

Another DDT tweet the same day took credit for the safety of commercial flight in 2017, which was no safer than the two previous years, and praised the tax bill for the bonuses that AT&T is giving their workers. AT&T has already laid off hundreds of worker after the tax bill passed and plans to dump thousands more. Comcast, which also promised bonuses, also fired hundreds of their workers.

Perhaps the most bizarre tweet of January 2:

“I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock.”

As DDT followers know, he doesn’t always go through with his promises (threats?), but Monday is only three days away. In the meantime, tomorrow’s post will list the destructive actions of DDT and his administration in the past few weeks.

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