Nel's New Day

April 15, 2018

GOP Wants People to Go Hungry

Filed under: Congressional legislation — trp2011 @ 10:42 PM
Tags: , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is finally taking the lead in legislation—the one that helps shred the safety net—and House Republicans are following. DDT’s executive order allowing work requirements for people on food stamps is being replicated as part of the 2018 Farm Bill that does it one better by mandating that most adults between 18 and 59 be required to work part-time or enroll in 20 hours a week of workforce training to receive food stamp assistance. While some House conservatives want to take food from struggling families, they want to give more welfare to struggling farmers, especially if DDT’s threats of tariffs hurts them.

The plan budgets $1 billion per year to fund the training program expansion; cutting the hoped-for 1 million people could save the nation $500 million. The only good thing about the proposed bill is that it doesn’t include DDT’s budget proposal of cutting food stamps and replacing them with a box of non-perishable goods.

The concept of helping people become self-sufficient through training and well-paid jobs is excellent. Consider, however, that the GOP refuses to raise the minimum wage from $7.25, which pays below the food-stamp income level for millions of full-time jobs. Also, quality training programs such as subsidized employment can cost up to $10,000 a year per person, costing $15 billion a year to fund a national employment and training program. The think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated costs for training at $1 billion per month, not per year. Ten state pilot programs are intended to identify best practices, and USDA has not evaluated them yet. Other concerns for the mandatory employment, as Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) voiced, are unreliable transportation, low housing security, and shifting child care and medical schedules.

The GOP goal is to throw people off food stamps and ignore them if they become homeless or starve to death. Anyone failing to meet the criteria would be blocked for a year for the first time and three years for violations after that. Currently, people ages 18 to 49 must work or enroll in a training program for 20 hours a week to get benefits for more than three months every three years. The number of hours would be increased to 25 hours by 2026. This requirement covers 3.5 million of the over 40 million people receiving this benefit, almost nine percent. The new guidelines in the bill extends the age to 59 and includes all parents with school age children.

The object is to increase people working, but 58 percent of households receiving SNAP with at least one disabled adult are employed. Eighty-two percent of SNAP recipients worked in the year before or after enrollment.

DDT’s Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility executive order ordered secretaries across the government to review the safety net from food stamps to Medicaid to housing programs in a search for new regulations, especially work requirements, and ways for states to have more “flexibility” for these programs. Flexibility, however, can be used to reduce states’ budget problems without helping people.

The executive order is meant to mimic what DDT sees as the success of the TANF “flexible” block grants, but he system created over 20 years ago to give lump sums to states has failed. In the early years of block grants, the labor market was strong, but the number of families helped immediately started to sag with an almost two-thirds loss by 2015 while the number of families with children in poverty increased from 5.1 million in 2000 to 6.5 million. The number of families with children in deep poverty increased by 50 percent. In 14 states, ten or fewer families receive cash assistance for every 100 families in poverty. The bottom half of this chart is comprised almost entirely of red states.

As fewer needy families receive assistance, the benefit levels drop to 20 percent less than in 1996. At the same time, housing cost have increased, and states spend little money to help people find and maintain work. Instead the block grants go to programs such as pre-K education or child welfare, freeing state funds for expenditure not related to safety nets. States have also lost 34 percent of the block grants’ value since its inception because their formulas have not changed, and the same formula has not been revised for population growth or economic conditions in each state.

DDT also claims that Kansas and Maine have shown success in food stamp work requirements because of “individuals who left welfare and … saw their income increase.” An audit of these two programs, however, shows that total resources of people cut off to SNAP participants dropped three percent within a year—and that was in a year when the economy was getting better.

The farm bill deadline is September, and, as usual in the current Congress, Democrats are kept out of the planning process. Republicans could pass a punitive bill for people on food stamps in the House, but a successful Senate vote requires Democratic support. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Agriculture Committee chair, has said that he will not consider major SNAP changes.

Three reports from the Bipartisan Policy Center include restrictions on buying sugary drinks, increased incentive for buying healthy food, and coordination between SNAP and federal health programs serving low-income households. They do not suggest a change in eligibility rules.

Internal USDA emails from March suggest that DDT may support mandatory drug testing for food stamp recipient. Wisconsin considered doing this although federal rules prohibit states from adding requirements on SNAP-eligible families. A federal appeals court struck down Florida’s SNAP drug-testing law in 2014, ruling that it was a form of unreasonable search, and Georgia’ law also lost in court. Twelve states have requested permission for drug testing with none granted.

Republicans won’t care if their low-income constituents go hungry, but they may be influenced by the cuts for big corporations if they reduce foot stamps. Supermarkets and superstores get 81 percent of SNAP benefits although they are only 14 percent of companies accepting them. The loss for these companies could be $57.5 billion in the next decade. Wal-Mart alone gets 18 percent of food stamp profits, and Target comes in second with a $4.8 billion to $5.3 billion loss. Kmart closed over 150 of its stores last year, and Food stamp benefit cuts would take away $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion from their tills.

Big banks will also lose money if they distribute less government benefits, but they are paid for distributing cards, balance inquiries, declined for insufficient funds, withdrawals, penalties, fees, etc. The 2014 law changes gave even more money to the banks because it required additional software for controlling foods purchased and fraud. The money all goes to three companies.

The money spent on food stamps almost doubles the dollars in economic activity. Last year, $70 billion fed 40 million people, half of the population that is food-insecure. People complain about fraud, but the total is down to less than one percent of the expenditures–$700 million compared to the $125 billion of waste in the U.S. Department of Defense. The U.S. also loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion, but the government spent its money on conducting 4,396 undercover investigation of food stamp fraud in 2012 with a 40-percent success. The true “welfare queens” in the United States are corporations that refuse to pay people a living wage while giving hundreds of billions to owners and shareholders.

Republicans want to cut food stamps for two reasons. They believe that anyone not in their “tribe”—all those wealthy people who are their donors—don’t deserve any help. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) terminology of “makers” and “takers”—which he sort of apologized for—set the tone of denigrating all people who need government assistance. He may understand that people don’t want to be dependent on others, but the myth that people who use the safety net are users is prevalent in the conservative world. The use of “entitlement programs” for Social Security and Medicare is commonly among conservatives despite their being insurance programs that people pay into for their old age.

The second reason for cutting food stamps is the desperation that far-right Republicans feel as they run for re-election. Their gift of tax-cut money to the wealthy and large corporations has created a looming deficit, and their solution is to take the money away from the bottom 90 percent in the nation. Trying to cut food stamps is only their first step; a majority GOP Congress will be disastrous for almost everyone in the United States.

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April 14, 2018

DDT: Week 64 – Shifting Opinions, More Executive Orders

Another blow to the defense of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the Russian investigation is the revelation that his lawyer Michael Cohen was in Prague during the summer of 2016 despite Cohen’s denials. That information shows that the Steele dossier about DDT was not wrong in claiming Cohen’s visit to the city and that he may have taken over for campaign communications with Russia after Paul Manafort was fired by the campaign. Sources maintain that Cohen went to the Czech Republic through Germany so that his passport didn’t need to be stamped.

In his latest attempt to destroy the Affordable Care Act, DDT expanded “hardship exemptions” to the law’s individual mandate by waiving fines for those without insurance to those who say they object to abortion rights. Anyone living in an area where all affordable health plans in the federal exchange provide abortion may apply for an exemption of fees from months that they weren’t covered. This criterion is added to exemptions for being homeless, experiencing domestic violence, and experiencing a family member’s death. The new guideline will not always work in the 26 states that ban marketplace plans from covering abortions, but people living in a county with no or only one insurer can also apply for the exemption. All counties have ACA healthcare plans, but 26 percent of enrollees live in areas with a single insurer on the marketplace.

This weekend was the 8th Summit of the Americas in Lima (Peru), but DDT skipped the event in order to bomb Syria as he hoped to cover up all his scandals. U.S. presidents attended the first seven summits; with a 16 percent approval rate in South America, DDT probably didn’t want to face anyone there. Meanwhile, China is making great investment on the continent, especially Brazil, and President Xi Jinping has been there several times.

DDT got a lot of traction from his supporters by refusing participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now he changed his mind after the 11 other countries already made their own trade pact. DDT told his trade representative and the new National Economic council Director to examine how the U.S. could get back into the agreement. A tweet after the order made DDT appear to waffle about his demand although it may be one of the few ways to persuade China to back down from its proposed tariffs.

DDT may worsen negotiations with China and upset his supporters by bailing out farmers with a Depression-era program, Commodity Credit Corporation, that can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury Department for farmers whose orders from China shrink. History shows the misuse and unfairness of CCC, and it doesn’t stop a trade war. Farmers also fear long term effects when South America becomes more competitive because of unreliability in U.S. supplies, and the U.S. loses its markets. Providing welfare for farmers can result in more trade wars when other countries fight the U.S. at the World Trade Organization. Ad hoc subsidies in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to a year-long dispute with Brazil about U.S. cotton subsidies that resulted in millions of dollars in payment from Washington. The farm bill already pays from $5 billion to $7 billion in welfare to farmers for price and revenue drops as well as subsidizes 62 percent of farmers’ crop insurance premiums. Another $3 billion covers disaster assistance for producers after hurricanes and wildfires last year. The apparel and chemical industries can also be hit with DDT’s trade wars.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a declaration from DDT, who bragged about his own sexual assaults, tries to hide those of others, and nominated a Secretary of Education who protects rapists in schools:

“Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability. These heinous crimes are committed indiscriminately: in intimate relationships, in public spaces, and in the workplace. We must respond to sexual assault by identifying and holding perpetrators accountable. Too often, however, the victims of assault remain silent. They may fear retribution from their offender, lack faith in the justice system, or have difficulty confronting the pain associated with the traumatic experience. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about sexual assault and to empowering victims to identify perpetrators so that they can be held accountable. We must make it as easy as possible for those who have suffered from sexual assault to alert the authorities and to speak about the experience with their family and friends.”

Part of the declaration spells “assault” as “assult.”

The U.S. Postal Service is caught in the middle of DDT’s vendetta against Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. History about the USPS shows that Congress, not Amazon, is at the heart of the issue. A nonprofit business, USPS is required to deliver to every home and business in the U.S., and Congress sets is charges and locations of postal office. In 2006, Congress mandates that the USPS prefund retirees’ health benefits up to 2056 at an annual $5 billion cost which creates a “manufactured crisis.” Unlike other delivery services such as FedEx or UPS, the USPS cannot lobby for any changes.

Both UPS and FedEx save money by contracting with USPS to deliver parcels for the rural and most-expensive routes. With mail volumes shrinking, the USPS makes up for the lost revenue in reduced first-class mail by contracting with Amazon and other internet retailers. Federal regulators have determined that the contract between Amazon and the USPS is profitable for the USPS. Striking out at Amazon because of his anger at Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post, DDT issued an executive order for an administration task force, chaired by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, to evaluate he USPS finances and operations with proposed changes.

As for DDT’s criticism about Amazon not charging state sales tax—although it does—DDT’s online store of the Trump Organization charges sales tax only in Florida and Louisiana, not even in New York where the business has a physical presence in violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1992 Quill Corp v. North Dakota ruling to the contrary. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case from South Dakota next week that will decide whether companies will be required to pay sale tax in all states that have sales tax. Ten percent of shopping is now done online.

The Department of Homeland Security is extending DDT’s Big Brother lifestyle in its project “Media Monitoring Services” that establishes a database of journalists. It will include reporters on general media and other “media influences” for searching contact information, professional history, and “sentiment,” permitting intimidation for journalists reporting negative information about political leaders.

Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget who also took over the Consumer Protection Bureau, is now removing regulatory power from the Treasury Department for his own purview. He is now responsible for reviewing tax regulations before they take effect, including the massive tax break for non-corporate “pass-through” businesses. The new arrangement prevents Treasury from publishing “any tax regulatory action” without his permission. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin lost the argument to keep the 34-year agreement giving his agency the ability to write tax rules and regulations. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) pointed out that “this administration added more bureaucratic red tape to a fundamentally flawed law.”

Much is being said about James Comey’s heroism in declaring his opposition to DDT in his new book Higher Loyalty. Yet Comey, then a Republican, stated that he might have deliberately come out with more accusations of Hillary Clinton emails just ten days before the presidential election in order to influence the outcome. The excuse for Comey and the FBI not revealing its investigation into Russian assistance to DDT’s campaign against Clinton at least six months before the election was the need for the FBI to be apolitical, evidently only true if the person being protected is from the same political party as the investigator. The same cannot be said regarding Robert Mueller, also a Republican.

DDT tweeted today, “Mission Accomplished!” Almost 15 years ago, George W. Bush used the same words on May 2, 2003 before the war slogged on for another 15 years with no resolution. Like Bush’s approach in Iraq, DDT has not identified any mission in Syria. John Bolton wa in the White House only four days before he found some place to bomb.

If the bombing of Syria yesterday has any humor, it comes from Alex Jones, top conspiracy theorist and (former) DDT supporter, who burst into tears and moaned:

“We’ve made so many sacrifices and now he’s crapping all over us. It makes me sick.”

Jones claims that DDT’s administration is “done.”

April 13, 2018

Can DDT’s Airstrikes Cover Up His Problems?

After a very bad week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—a fire in Trump Tower, search warrants taking a large number of documents from his lawyer Michael Cohen, the release of information about his attempt to cover up his affairs through lawsuits, former FBI director James Comey’s anti-DDT book hitting the airwaves—DDT ordered military attacks against Syria’s president in opposition to advice from his own generals. His reason in a short speech late Friday was the killing of civilians through chemical attacks.

DDT cited the horrifying ways that people died this month in an attack, but three-fourths of 6,047 civilians killed by the U.S. in the Middle East, mostly Iraq and Syria, during the past four years were under his “watch.” Until John Bolton came into the White House this week, DDT said he gave military generals “total authorization” to decide the military operations. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the president to begin an armed conflict without congressional authorization; a 1973 law reinforced this constitutional position. Yet Congress passed a law, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, allowing the U.S. president to take action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks. In the past 17 years, presidents have used this law to attack Afghanistan, Cuba, the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Turkey, and Congress refuses to curb an elected president the right to attack countries whenever they want.

The question about DDT’s air strikes, which could cause World War III if Russia carries through with its threats of retaliation, came from DDT’s weeks of temper tantrums. They started with the FBI raid on the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s longtime attorney “fixer,” and the seizure of records about his clients and personal finances, including tax returns, as well as his computer and phone.  Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. DDT, who led the birther conspiracy of President Obama for at least five years while he was in office and as recently as last November, continues to call the investigation of the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt.”

DDT raged for hours after the raid, attacking AG Jeff Sessions and special investigator Robert Mueller, yet Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein turned the raid over to FBI agents and prosecutors in New York. Several other high-level DOJ people had to sign off on the search warrants with no advance notice to Cohen, indicating strong evidence because these warrants were used instead of a subpoena.

Cohen also helped out DDT’s associates, arranging a $1.6 million deal late last year for a former pregnant Playboy model on behalf of Elliott Broidy, a major financial supporter for DDT and a married man. Cohen and Broidy are both deputy national finance chairmen for the RNC, and last month Broidy hosted a fundraiser for DDT’s 2020 presidential campaign. He also worked with George Nadar who is cooperating with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen had a tendency to tape conversations with his associates, and the FBI may now have these recordings.

Another object of DDT’s fury this week was Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, is overwhelming the media, and DDT called Comey a “slime ball, also writing, “It was my great honor to fire James Comey!” The memoir is available to the public on Tuesday.

Mueller has asked a Virginia judge for 35 blank subpoenas for Paul Manafort’s trial that begins July 10—witnesses to be filled in later. Manafort’s lawyers are trying to block business and finance papers from a storage area that a former Manafort employee showed the FBI last May. Both Manafort and his associate Rick Gates are listed as contacts for the lease.

Since the search warrant was executed on Cohen, DDT has decided he won’t be interviewed by Mueller which could move up Mueller’s release of an obstruction of justice report regarding DDT’s intent on firing former FBI Director James Comey, DDT’s role in writing the public statement that lied about a June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russians, and DDT’s suggestion of his pardoning grand jury witnesses before they testified against him, and DDT’s pressuring AG Jeff Sessions to not recuse himself from the Russian investigation. Mueller would probably send a confidential report to Rosenstein, who could decide whether to make the report public and send the findings to Congress.

The biggest question about Mueller is whether DDT can fire him. DDT thinks he can, but according to law he can fire only the person in the DOJ who refuses to fire Mueller. That and DDT’s going to war around the world are the two greatest concerns today in the United States.

DDT’s pick for Secretary of State, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, struggled during today’s confirmation hearings.  His hawkish attitude for regime change in North Korea and opposition to diplomacy with Iran disappeared in his responses advocating diplomacy over military action and independence from president despite their close relationship. He faked answers and avoided questions, claiming a bad memory, and failed to recognize that the agreement with Iran involves the UK, France, and Germany. Pompeo also refused to say that he disagreed with DDT’s constant attacks on Mueller. Called out about his associations with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, Pompeo said that he couldn’t remember everything he had said during his 54 years. He opposed marriage equality but said that he has “respect for every individual.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could give Pompeo a floor vote even if he can’t pass the Senate Foreign Relations Committee because member Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is opposed to Pompeo. Some vulnerable Democrats from red states may feel pressured to vote to confirm, but Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), up for re-election this year, said:

“I am voting NO on Pompeo for Secretary of State because our top diplomat should believe in diplomacy. He has an alarming tendency towards military provocation and brinkmanship.”

To tell associates such as Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn that he will save them, DDT pardoned Scooter Libby yesterday. on Thursday. A jury convicted Libby of four felonies, including obstruction of justice and perjury before a grand jury, in connection to his revealing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame when he was VP Dick Cheney’s chief of staff. Former FBI director James Comey, fired by DDT, helped convict Libby of lying under oath to the FBI about leaking classified information when Comey was Deputy Attorney General. George W. Bush had commuted Libby’s sentence of 30 months in prison and $250,000 fine but twice refused to pardon him. Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, tweeted:

“So what’s the message here? Lie to a grand jury to protect political superiors and you will get a full pardon?”

Scott Pruitt just stays in the news, making DDT look bad. This article, repeated on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, describes how Pruitt’s condo renters changed the locks to get rid of him.

Information came out about how the Trump Organization threatened Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, with violating an investment treaty between Panama and the U.S. if he supports a court-order eviction notice for DDT’s management of Trump International Hotel Panama. The majority owner claims he won his case in firing the Trump Organization, and the name was removed. The Trump Organization refuses to admit defeat. The letter insinuates that the U.S. government will force Panama to protect DDT’s business.

DDT tweeted about his “well built hotel,” but one man died and six firefighters were injured in a fire on the 50th floor. There was no sprinkler system because DDT said they were too expensive, and residents were not told to evacuate.

DDT’s other business is going downhill in putting his name on other people’s products. Within three years, he has lost 17 of 19 companies that pay him to produce or distribute his branded consumer items. The only ones left are a Panamanian company selling bed linens and home goods and a Turkish company selling furniture. And the name isn’t even on the outside of the product. Even the DDT-branded urine test is gone, and the last items are being sold off at discount prices—for example, cologne down to $9.99 per ounce from $42.

DDT is losing a major constituency—older, white, educated voters. They now support Democrats over Republicans by two points after going for Republicans by ten points in 2016. That 12-point change is frightening Republicans, especially after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) decision to not run for re-election in 2018, especially because this demographic tends to be reliable voters.

Another demographic is moving away from DDT—Southerners. Fifty-one percent of voters in the South disapprove while 48 percent approves of his performance. The poll also shows a 55-percent support from Southerners for same-gender marriage, and 69 percent think that undocumented immigrants should be able to get legal status in the U.S. Mississippi is sticking with DDT at 57 percent approval rating.

After a really hard week, DDT may hope that a big media explosion of air strikes in Syria might help his ratings. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the action a “one time shot”—at least until DDT gets more bad news and looks for a way to cover it up.

 

April 12, 2018

The Judicial Branch, Sometimes on the People’s Side

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:42 PM
Tags: , , ,

 

As the executive and legislative branches bring gloomy news into our homes, the judiciary branch sometimes provides for the rights of the people. From the past two weeks:

Lawsuits:

A federal judge upheld the Massachusetts law banning assault weapons because the U.S. Constitution does not cover military guns. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Second Amendment right for individuals to “bear arms” only for firearms kept in the home for self-defense. Last November the high court refused to hear a challenge to Maryland’s 2013 state ban on assault weapons.

A Montana judge determined that a properly trained advanced practice registered nurse and a certified nurse midwife may provide abortions in the state during the challenge of a state law allowing only physicians and physician assistants to perform abortions. Only the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit are covered by the injunction.

A federal court ruled that the EPA violated the Civil Rights Act by delaying investigations into environmental discrimination complaints for decades. The Flint (MI) case became a symbol of environmental racism from the 1990s when a black neighborhood fought a permit for a nearby scrap wood incinerator and were surrounded by armed guards at a hearing about the issue. The hearing was adjourned before community members could testify, and the incinerator spewed tons of lead into the air every year. The complaint was not resolved until the state caused lead from corroding pipes to spread throughout the city. Flint is not unique.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused an Arizona appeal regarding a 9th Circuit Court decision allowing DACA recipients to get driver’s licenses. Arizona is the only state, after Nebraska rescinded its policy, to attempt a law preventing DACA youth from obtaining these licenses.

Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment settlements of $45 million to at least six women have been unsealed after a New York court decision that ruled them judicial documents subject to public disclosure. The settlement required one accuser to lie under oath if necessary to hide information. The decision is part of an ongoing defamation suit.

A federal judge redrew boundaries in San Juan County (UT) that gave majorities to Navajo Indians in two of three commission districts and three of five school board seat, and Anglos say they feel “disenfranchised.” The county’s population of almost 17,000 has a minority of whites who complain that Navajo commissions won’t show up for meetings or know how to govern the county.

Filings:

China is suing the United States in a World Trade Organization court because of DDT’s proposed tariffs. The claim is discrimination against Chinese goods and violation of Washington’s commitment of tariff limits. If the situation isn’t solved by both parties within 60 days, China can ask for adjudication.

After a judge called Stormy Daniels’ filing to avoid arbitration “premature” because DDT has not filed a petition to compel arbitration, DDT’s lawyers filed the petition. Michael Cohen’s story about paying Daniels out of his own pocket leaves him open to charges such as defamation, professional malfeasance, fraud, and illegal contribution as well as Treasury Department investigation. DDT spent over $27,000 of taxpayer monies for TVEyes to track media the day after Stormy Daniels’ interview on 60 Minutes, “by far” the greatest amount DDT has paid the company and the highest payment by the Executive Office to the company since it began working with TVEyes in 2011.

Karen McDougal is suing the National Enquirer for buying her story about her affair with DDT and then suppressing it. This act led Robert Mueller to investigate the tabloid for protecting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) while publishing negative propaganda about Hillary and Bill Clinton. his act could constitute an illegal campaign contribution. David J. Pecker, chair of the tabloid’s publisher, American Media Inc., is DDT’s close friend who worked with DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen to protect DDT. The search warrant served on Cohen this past week included communications between him, Pecker, and Dylan Howard, the business’s chief content officer. The National Enquirer also suppressed a tip for a former doorman at one of DDT’s New York City buildings. He was given $30,000 for a story about DDT having an illegitimate child to the tabloid with the threat of charging him $1 million if he talked to anyone about the information.

A third woman, a campaign staffer, is suing DDT’s campaign for being forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement because it keeps her from telling about being subjected to a superior’s harassing comments and behavior.

Three weeks ago, the Center for Reproductive Rights received a temporary injunction stopping Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban that contravenes a Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016). A new complaint against Mississippi law challenges the ban punishing doctors for providing care after 15 weeks, a restrictive licensing system that singles out clinics providing abortions, the 24-hour mandatory delay and two-trip requirement, physician-only mandate, and the telemedicine ban. Mississippi has only one remaining clinic that provides abortions.

Daily Beast contributor and radio host Dean Obeidallah is suing Andrew Anglin after neo-Nazi The Daily Stormer accused Obeidallah of orchestrating the 2017 Ariana Grande concert bombing. The Daily Stormer may be forced to reveal its financial transactions through its shell company Moonbase Holdings because Anglin is in default by not responding to the first lawsuit.

After Juli Briskman gave a third-finger salute to the presidential motorcade passing her on her bicycle, she was fired because she posted a photograph of her action on her Facebook page. The contractor Akima cited a social media policy barring obscenity but admitted fear of federal retaliation. Briskman wants $2,692 for two weeks of promised severance pay and compensation for legal fees. Akima kept an employee who posted, “You’re a fucking Libtard asshole” in response to discussion of Black Lives Matter. Legal superstar Laurence Tribe explained that the firing undermines freedom of speech and Akima must be held accountable for its unlawful action.

California’s Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has called for more specific rules that require state courts to disclose judges who settled resolutions regarding sexual harassment and discrimination. Documents show that the state’s court system paid over $500,000 in seven years to resolve sexual harassment complaints against judges and staff. California’s legislature already identified the name of lawmakers and staff in 18 cases of sexual harassment.

Elections:

The judicial system is looking up in Wisconsin after Progressive Judge Rebecca Dallet was elected to the state Supreme Court; she defeated Michael Screnock 56.5-43.5 percent for the ten-year term. Dallet’s election moves the state’s high court to a four-to-three conservative majority from the past five-to-two, and six of the seven justices are now women. The Walker-appointed state court judge forced him to hold a special election for empty legislative seats according to law, and the legislature wouldn’t support Walker in reversing the law.

In the executive branch, the DOJ has established a quota system for U.S. immigration judges to speed up their processing cases. The mandate to clear at least 700 cases a year for a “satisfactory” performance rating will be connected to annual performance reviews. The system also penalizes judges who refer more than 15 percent of certain cases to high courts or schedule hearing dates too far apart. Judges must complete 85 percent of removal cases within three days of a merit hearing to be considered “satisfactory.” Immigration judges complete 678 cases in an average year, but some clear far over 1,000, sometimes spending only a minute on a case. Although immigrations judges are supposed to have full independence, they are part of the executive branch, not the judicial branch, because they function as part of U.S. law enforcement.

The new mandates fail to recognize not only the supposed independence of judges but also the conditions of immigration court that deals with small children, people who don’t speak English, and those with extremely limited education. The evidence needed for court cases, such as medical records to prove they fled from persecution, can take time to obtain. Doctors performing an independent mental health evaluation may not get timely clearance into detention centers. With judges’ ratings based on how fast they finish a case, all final rulings will be suspect and therefore liable to appeals.

In an 18-minute episode on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver presented a type of “Immigration Courts for Dummies” as he walked his audience through the absurdities of deportation hearings. Most horrifying is that everyone— including three- and four-year-old children—who cannot afford a lawyer will not have one and thus required to represent themselves. A judge talked about teaching toddlers how to be their own lawyers. Watch the segment if you have the stomach for it.

If speed were of the essence, the government could provide an electronic filing system and more court clerks. Many times three judges are forced to share one clerk. Instead Sessions has eliminated the requirement that asylum seekers may have a full hearing before a judge.

Maybe all judges should be put into the judiciary branch.

 

Washington Legislators, Officials Flee

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:14 AM
Tags: , , ,

Just when I think that the GOP world cannot get more bizarre, something happens to amaze me more. Today was one of those days. No, it wasn’t House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that he’ll stay home with the kids who haven’t had this attention for over a decade. My astonishment came from an earlier GOP House Speaker—John Boehner. Seven years ago, he said that he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana. Boehner altered when he joined the board of advisers of Acreage Holdings, the cannabis corporation operating in 11 states. He tweeted:

“I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

Over 60 percent of people in the United States want legalized cannabis, and over 90 percent support legalized cannabis for medical use. Watching Boehner joining these percentages at a time when the DOJ wants to clamp down on cannabis and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to kill all the drug dealers—presumably also those selling cannabis—is nothing short of mind-boggling.

But yes, Paul Ryan finally admitted that he won’t be running for re-election in 2018. He leaves a legacy of close to a $1 trillion deficit this coming year and exceeding $1 trillion every year after that for the next decade. In Ryan’s announcement of his departure, he called the tax cuts, causing much of the deficit, one of his proudest achievements. Abandoning past conservative fiscal policy, he decided that tax cuts and spending increases are good for electing Republicans. Ryan’s current competition in the primary is an anti-Semite white supremacist.

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote that the Koch brothers—who actually gave Ryan’s campaign $500,000 in exchange for his tax cuts—have put Ryan up for sale on eBay with a $500 asking price. The humorist pointed out that Ryan’ “current high bid [is] seventeen dollars.” Borowitz wrote:

“The eBay listing suggested several possible uses for the former House Speaker, including as a Halloween ornament or garden gnome.”

The fight for his job is on, with Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) currently in the forefront while others bolt. One hour after Ryan’s departure announcement, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said he won’t run for re-election. Retirements in the House are already far above normal, and the general election isn’t for almost seven months. One resignation, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), was made after the deadline to register for candidacy.

DJ Gribbin, DDT’s infrastructure policy adviser, left the White House after Congress largely ignored his plans for private and public partnerships. DDT has also told the GOP that these partnerships for infrastructure funding projects won’t work.

DDT claims that former VA Secretary David Shulkin resigned, but Shulkin disagrees, saying, “I did not resign.” Much was made earlier about his taking his wife with him on a business trip to Europe and his inability to get along with his staff. Yet that one trip was a drop in the bucket compared to other costs by other cabinet members; his conflict came from DDT staff hires who fought to privatize the VA health care. Replacement Ronny Jackson, the fawning doctor who gave DDT his physical examination, had said that he could live 200 years and had “incredibly good genes.” (DDT’s father died of dementia.) The biggest problem with Jackson, however, is his total lack of experience. If confirmed, Jackson will administer 360,000 employees, a $186 billion budget, and health care for nine million veterans. Fortunately for him, Shulkin had already stabilized the VA system of hospitals and health clinics, but Jackson’s sycophantic personality may cause him to dismantle everything. Veterans are coming out en masse in opposition to the privatization of health care that Jackson will rubber stamp for DDT and the Koch brothers.

John Bolton, appointed for National Security Adviser, may not be a shoe-in because of earlier political activity. He supposedly ended political activity with his PACs and stepped down as chair of his anti-Muslim Foundation for American Security and Freedom, but the PACs won’t be dissolved. He may also have a problem in his connection with Cambridge Analytica in electing Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) whose campaign may have been orchestrated by foreign workers. Bolton also appeared in a 2013 video for a Russian gun rights organization.

At least 3,000 Russia-linked ads from Cambridge Analytica reached over 126 million people during the 2016 U.S. election. HuffPo’s profile of white nationalist ”Ricky Vaughn”—28-year-old Douglass Mackey from Waterbury (VT)—shows how influential a few ads can be. C.A. also helped vicious Philippine dictator Roderigo Duterte win his election and participated in elections in Nigeria, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, and Latvia by creating ethnic tensions online by creating fear and misinformation online and entrapping political opponents with videos of sex workers.

The arrival of Bolton has led to at least three resignations/firings from the national security council. Tom Bossert may not be a great loss: the day before his firing, Bossert touted the movement of National Guard troops to the Mexico border and said that rape is the “price of entry” for women crossing the border.Michael Anton was known for writing DDT-supporting “American First” blog posts and essays under the pseudonym of Publius Decius Mus. Nadia Schadlow, trusted confidante of the fired H.R. McMaster who helped write DDT’s national security strategy, lasted only a few months after she replaced Dina Powell in January. Her mistake is believing in diplomacy. Here’s a list of people leaving DDT prior to that of Schadlow.

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) announced his resignation as of May 1 after an FBI inquiry into his spending and travel, including a trip to London with payday lending industry representatives. He finds his actions “ethical and lawful” but left as soon as the suggestion came from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R).

Dan Scavino, DDT’s former caddy turned into White House social media director, has replaced Hope Hicks as White House Communications Director. He is the last remaining staffer from DDT’s campaign launch.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, appointed almost a year ago, will stay because she claims that following “sincerely held religious beliefs” don’t break the law. She exonerated Col. Leland Bohannon for his refusal to sign a certificate of spousal appreciation for a retiring gay subordinate because because someone else signed the certificate that recognizes sacrifices of military spouses. Bohannon signs certificates for only heterosexual spouses. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is against policy. Wilson’s history of LGBTQ discrimination as a senatorial candidate includes opposition to a bill reducing anti-LGBTQ bullying.

DDT’s problematic appointments may be directly connected to the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), DDT’s office to recruit and vet over 4,000 political appointees. In 62 weeks, it has found 309 candidates for 343 Cabinet agency positions requiring Senate approval. Of 1,200 positions requiring confirmation, only 387 from DDT have been approved, compared to 548 for President Obama and 615 for George W. Bush. Several DDT appointees have resigned after problems with comments, backgrounds, and qualifications. DDT’s PPO has a small staff of only 30—less than one-third of previous ones—and a serious lack of experience, mostly young people who worked on DDT’s campaign. They commonly have “happy hours” and held a frat drinking game called “Icing.”

During DDT’s transition, 100 researchers and lawyers under the supervision of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie prepared a list of candidates and hundreds of pages establishing a framework. DDT fired their leader, discarded all the information, and hired political operative John DeStefano as headhunter who required only loyalty to DDT as a job requirement. Even before DeStefano was hired, the database had only 87,000 applicants, compared to President Obama’s 300,000.

One of the most successful member of PPO is 75-year-old Katja Bullock. Her son became deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, his wife is White House liaison at the Office of Personnel Management, and their sons are “confidential assistant” at the Social Security Administration and “staff assistant” at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency that works to end global poverty.

Scott Pruitt is still clinging to his position as EPA Secretary, but his departure could leave Andrew Wheeler in charge if the Senate confirms him for the second-highest-ranking person in the agency. As a coal lobbyist, Wheeler is well known to the GOP senators, especially former boss Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).  His climate denying is so carefully phrased that Democrats haven’t really objected to his positions. Daniel Best, a former pharma insider, will be HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s pick to lower drug prices.

The media has paid little attention to either one of these people. Instead we focus on DDT’s promises to fire missiles at Syria while telling Russia that they can’t stop them. DDT seems to be having a spat with Vladimir Putin that can drive the United States into a war with the Middle East.

April 10, 2018

Syria’s Past, Scary Possibilities

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:10 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Fifteen years ago, George W. Bush followed the advice of his war hawks VP Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to attack Iraq on false pretenses. (I’m sure that the oil in the country had nothing to do with the preemptive war.) Since then, the thoughtless action of the Bush II administration has cost the U.S. people trillions of dollars and the Middle East hundreds of thousands of deaths and tens of millions of refugees. The United States will always suffer from the tragedies of veterans who managed to survive the physical and mental injuries that will always affect them and their descendants.

Syria is again the focus of attention in the Middle East after a disastrous chemical attack against Syrian civilians last Saturday and the possibility that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) would attack Syria in a diversion from his personal problems. Saturday’s attack killed at least 80 people, and an attack on a Syrian air base killed another 14. Syria first blamed the U.S. for the air base attack but then accused Israel. After the chemical attack, the rebels surrendered Douma. Yet any action looks like a lose-lose situation. “Syria is the most complex, complicated issue I have ever had to deal with,” then-CIA Director John Brennan said in 2016.

The current problem in Syria began during the Arab Spring of 2011 when protesters tries to take Middle Eastern countries from dictators. In Syria, Assad used the military to slaughter the protesters. When they fought back, Assad had his war against the Free Syrian Army, a militia formed to protect protesters.

The U.S. was concerned because of Iran’s alliance with Syria to move weapons and other resources to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. The Shiite theocracy of Iran sent Hezbollah to fight for Assad in a threat to Sunni Arab states on the Persian Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, that then sent arms to the Syrian rebels. Qatar alone gave $3 billion to the rebels in 2013, and Saudi Arabia sent a shipment of 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to the rebel in 2015. Thus the Syrian civil war became a fight between two Middle Eastern factions.

At the same time, Russia supported Assad and the Syrian military in a continuation of its half-century policy; Russia sells weapons, air defense systems, and MI-25 attack helicopters to Assad, partly to protect its naval base at Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. In 2011, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution to condemn Assad’s attacks on protesters. Yesterday in the UN, Russia refused to cooperate with Western countries to investigate Syrian chemical attacks. Russian special forces are embedded with Syrian troops, their warplanes and helicopters conduct air attacks on the rebels, and their artillery bombards Assad’s enemies.

Seeing the civil war as a source of recruits and a safe haven, al-Qaeda started sending forces into Syria since 2011. Qatar paid Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda leader, to destroy Assad.

President Obama refused to take out Assad despite advice from military and intelligence leaders such as David Petraeus who wanted to provide advanced weapons to the rebels. Even the killing of up to 1,423 people, mostly civilians, in Assad’s attack with sarin gas in 2013 didn’t push President Obama farther than a plan for airstrikes that Congress rejected. Russia made a deal with Assad to give up his chemical weapons in exchange for international inspections and no U.S. attacks. President Obama took the deal, and some people blamed him for Russia’s escalation in 2015. At the end of 2016, the civil war had killed at least 470,000 Syrian killed.

While actors in the Middle East used Syria in a tug of war, ISIS swept over northern Iraq in June 2014 and controlled land the size of Great Britain in Syria and Iraq. President Obama used airstrikes to support forces fighting ISIS. Busy fighting Assad, rebels could not fight ISIS; Assad had a ceasefire with ISIS so he fought the rebel as a larger threat to him. The U.S. picked Kurdish fighters in northern Syria near Turkey as their allies. The Kurds wanted their own state instead of overturning Assad and were intent on protecting their city Kobane from ISIS. The U.S. intended to cut ISIS’s supply lines between Syria and Iraq while backing Kurdish forces in their fight. The mission was a success by breaking the siege of Kobane and moving to take over ISIS’s capital, Raqqa. Yet Turkey, threatened by armed Kurdish fighters, threatened to increase military action against the Kurds who were fighting ISIS, and DDT stopped arming them.

Yet the U.S. would not support the rebels in fighting Assad. The U.S. agreement to not conflict with Russian flight to bomb Syrian civilians in 2015 led to atrocities such as chemical attacks. DDT campaigned with his past belief that the U.S. should support Assad and not attack Syria, but a chemical attack in spring 2017 killing over 80 people caused him to reverse his position because Assad had used chemical weapons. He ordered an attack on the airfield in Syria where the chemical attack was launched, possibly based on false information and after warning senior officials from foreign governments before the attack so that they could leave. Most chemical attacks in Syria are largely ignored by both DDT and the media, and DDT has don’t nothing about most of them. The map shows 11 attacks since DDT’s inauguration. [Thanks to Zack Beauchamp for the history of Syria’s civil war and involvement of other countries.]

After the chemical attack last Saturday, DDT’s air strike threats could be far more dangerous for the U.S. than his strike a year ago. Russia is already jamming U.S. drones over Syria and threatening disaster, possibly for a U.S. plane or ship, if DDT dares retaliate for the chemical attack. After protecting Putin for over a year, DDT is already in trouble for the sanctions against wealthy Russians that took billions of dollars from the Russian stock market this week. Now Russia claims that Assad did not use chemicals and blames the U.S. for a fake chemical attack in Syria as a pretext to strike Assad.

DDT cried crocodile tears at the deaths of children in chemical attacks but refuses to take Syrian refugees. In 2016, the Syrian atrocities led President Obama to increase the U.S. refugee resettlement cap from 70,000 to 110,000. DDT has capped the number at 45,000, and the U.S. has resettled 10,876 refugees this year, 44 of them Syrian. At this time last year, 5,935 Syrian had been resettled in the United States.

Ken Isaacs, DDT’s nominee to head the UN international migration assistance efforts believes that permitting Syrian refugees into the U.S. President Donald Trump’s new pick to lead the United Nation’s international migration assistance efforts is “foolish and delusional” because they are Muslims. He is the vice president of evangelist Rev. Franklin Graham’s Christian relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse. Isaacs also tweeted, “Austria and Switzerland should consider building a wall in the Alps to keep refugees out.”

This is Syria today:

  • Over half of Syria’s 20 million, pre-war population has been displaced.
  • 5.5 million Syrians have fled abroad with 95% of them in these five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt.
  • 400,000 civilians are trapped in opposition-held suburbs of Syria’s capital Damascus where Assad is relentlessly bombing.
  • Of Syria’s estimated 10 million children, 8.6 million are in dire need of assistance. Nearly 6 million children are displaced or living as refugees, and about 2.5 million are out of school.
  • About one-third of Syria’s housing and half of its educational and medical facilities have been destroyed, causing catastrophic public health crises.

The biggest question now is what DDT will do about Syria. Before the FBI used a search warrant to take records, a computer, and a phone from the office, home, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, DDT’s lawyer, DDT promised to be “very tough” because “everybody’s going to pay a price.” By the time that he met with his military people, however, he was raging about seizing the documents as “a disgraceful situation” and “an attack on our country.” His venom turned to the FBI and top DOJ officials in raids where agents “broke into” Cohen’s office. After cancelling a trip to the Summit of the Americas in Lima (Peru), DDT will be alone for the entire weekend to watch Fox, sent furious tweets, and possibly starting a war. He’s at a “high level of freak out,” according to one source, and another one said, “I am worried about his response.”

As should everyone in the United States.

April 9, 2018

Equal Pay Day – Help from the 9th Circuit

Filed under: Women's issues — trp2011 @ 3:03 PM
Tags: ,

If women got the same wages that men do for equal jobs, then Equal Pay Day would be December 31 each year. But we don’t, and women on the average have to work over three months longer to equal the men’s salaries each year because women make $.80 for each $1.00 that men make. This year, Equal Pay Day is April 10, and women can celebrate a great court win today.

Almost one year ago, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court ruled that employers can pay women less than men for the same work by using differences in workers’ previous salaries. The decision overturned a lower-court ruling and was appealed. Deborah Rhode of the Stanford Law School pointed out that this decision “perpetuate[s] the discrimination” because it “allow[s] prior discriminatory salary setting to justify future ones.”

Today, the eleven members of the 9th Circuit Court unanimously ruled that employers cannot use previous salaries to justify higher payment for men than for women. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote the majority opinion before he died last month at the age of 87. The case concerned a starting salary for Aileen Rizo, a math consultant with the Fresno County Office of Education, who was paid less than all her male colleagues. The decision applies to the nine states of the 9th Circuit Court.

Although April 10 is Equal Pay Day for all women, dates vary for different ethnic groups when compared to white non-Hispanic men:

  • Asian-American Women: February 22, 2018 ($.87)
  • White Women: April 17, 2018 ($.79)
  • Black Women: August 7, 2018 ($.63)
  • Native American Women: September 27, 2018 ($.57)
  • Latinas: November 1, 2018 ($.54)

People who refuse to believe in the existence of the gender pay gap spread these myths:

  1. Myth: Women choose lower-paying work. Women are consistently told that they cannot do as well in male-dominated fields such as finance and technology. As career fields have a higher percentage of female entering them, the salaries drop because male-centric jobs are more prestigious. For example, biology and design were higher paying when more males were employed in these fields, whereas computing paid less in early years because early programmers were women. The trend then reversed for all these fields—computing became more lucrative when men dominated, and biology and design paid less with more women.
  2. Myth: Women choose to work fewer hours and select more part-time work than men do. Again, this is not a choice because the U.S. lacks federally mandated family leave, and child care is prohibitively expensive. With salaries higher for men, households with one worker keep the woman at home. Gender biases also allow men to leave home to work, leaving women to care for the children.
  3. Myth: Women choose jobs with flexibility over high pay so they can care for families. Female-dominated workplaces—care work, primary education, and clerical—have far less flextime than other workplace.
  4. Myth: More women are getting college degrees than men, so the gap will close on its own. Women continue to select college majors with lower-paying jobs. At the current rate, the closure of the gender pay gap may not occur for another 200 years.

Take-home pay is not the only problem from the gender pay gap. The discrimination leads to trickle-down financial disadvantages causing income inequality and financial insecurity:

  1. The retirement savings gap: Women save about half ($45,614) as much as men ($90,189), and only 52 percent of women have retirement savings’ accounts such as a 401K, compared to 71 percent of men.
  2. The student debt gap: Although women have less student debt, they are less equipped to deal with this debt; 28 percent of women see their loans a “not at all manageable” compared to less than half this percentage for men at 13 percent.
  3. The financial literacy gap: Men are taught far more about managing their finance, and parents think that sons have a better understanding of their money’s value than their daughters.
  4. The work time gap: Women are twice as likely as men to have part-time jobs which fail to offer such benefits as health care, retirement investment, and transit support. Women’s expenditures are more than those for men without these advantages. Again, women are left at home to care for the children because of the myth that they have more skill in this area than men.
  5. The homeownership gap: Homes owned by men are worth more than those owned by women, and male-owned homes appreciate more. Times reported that “homes owned by single men on average are valued 10 percent higher than those of single women, and that the value of their homes have appreciated by 16 percent more than those of their female counterparts.” Women, especially those of color, are also far more likely to be targeted by predatory lenders. “In 2005, women were 30 to 46 percent more likely to receive subprime mortgage loans than men. Black women were a staggering 256 percent more likely to receive subprime loans than white men,” according to Salon.

The gender pay gap doesn’t need to exist. A new Iceland law requires employers to pay women the same as men. All public and private employers with 25 or more employees must obtain government certification of equal pay policies or face fines. The legislation was supported by Iceland’s center-right ruling party and the opposition.  The 2017 Global Gender Pay Report shows that Iceland has the most gender equality of any country in term of economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

The United States ranks 49th in gender equality, ahead of Kazakhstan but behind Uganda. The United States ranks 96th in political empowerment of women, behind Nepal, Algeria and Pakistan.

A major difference between the United States and Iceland is also the female participation in Iceland’s federal government. Almost 50 percent of Iceland’s parliament is female. Women make up just 19 percent of the U.S. Congress.

Iceland is smart in this legislation: equal pay can help a country’s economy. Equal pay for women can increase the GDP, adding women in senior management roles and corporate boards can boost companies return on assets, and raising women’s wage can cut the poverty rate for both working women and their children in half if women earn as much as men. The U.S. economy could add $512.6 billion in wage and salary income, equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2016 GDP.  Lifting women out of poverty would vastly decrease the need for costs in the nation’s the safety net.

Statistics surrounding U.S. pay will be unknown in the future, however, after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) eliminated the requirement for large companies to report wages by race and gender. In Iceland, all pay data will be made public for transparency.

Conservatives claim that the 1963 Equal Pay Act covers all problems with the gender gap in salaries. Yet among the caveat for “equal” pay is “a differential based on any other factor other than sex.” This one was used when the three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit Court ruled last year that past salaries could be used to pay women less.

A consistent argument against the Paycheck Fairness Act in the United States is that men make more money because they work harder and their jobs are “riskier.” That came from GOP state Rep. Will Infantine in New Hampshire. He added, “[Men] don’t mind working nights and weekends. They don’t mind working overtime, or outdoors in the elements.” As if that wasn’t enough, he said that “men are more motivated by money than women are.” That was in 2014. The state house gave “preliminary approval to the Paycheck Equity Act,” and the law took effect in 2015. Infantine is no longer in the state legislature.

Women can also be destructive to decreasing the gender pay gap:

  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), now a candidate for Senate, said that women “don’t want” equal pay laws.
  • Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said it is “condescending” towards women to work on policies intended to prevent wage discrimination.
  • Phyllis Schlafly, before her death, wanted the pay gap to be larger so that women could find a “suitable mate.”
  • Kirsten Kukowski, RNC Press Secretary in 2014, could think of any policies her party could support to improve pay equity.
  • Cari Christman, head of Texas PAC RedState Women, said that women were too “busy” to find a solution to the gender pay gap.
  • Beth Cubriel, the 2014 executive director of the Texas GOP, said that women needed to become “better negotiators” if they want equal pay.
  • Fox network’s Martha MacCallum declared, “Many women get paid exactly what they’re worth.”

GOP men are equally dismissive. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) wanted to know what gender pay fairness would do for men, and Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy, called the debate “nonsense.”

Many people on the far right are even questioning women’s right to vote.

  • White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said that women voting in U.S. elections isn’t “a great thing.”
  • Casey Fisher, a Davis County (UT) GOP precinct chairman, called voting rights for a “grave mistake.”
  • Davis County GOP chairwoman Teena Horlacher, Fisher’s colleague, defended him by saying that Fisher was following the beliefs of the Founding Fathers.
  • Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore co-authored a textbook that was critical of the women’s suffrage movement.
  • Ann Coulter also opposes women’s right to vote, but her net worth was almost $9 million in 2016.

Imagine the gender pay gap if women couldn’t even vote. Happy Equal Pay Day!

April 8, 2018

Evangelicals Enable Sexual Misconduct, Other Un-Christian Behavior

After enabling Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) for his non-Christian behavior during his campaign and since his inauguration, evangelicals worry about losing elections from his behavior and divisive language. A leader of a faith-based ministry said about the Stormy Daniels’ affair, “We’re very concerned.” Christian evangelical leaders plan a meeting with DDT on June 19 at DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel. DDT has been asked to take questions for 90 minutes during the daylong meeting with questions about the women suing him in private discussions, a “sidebar conversation.”

A source referenced Galatians:

“There’s things that are like fingernails on the chalkboard to people of faith. That’s not who we are; that’s not a ‘fruit of the Spirit’; that’s not leading with humility.”

Ethical concerns come from its organization with the White House its venue at DDT’s hotel. A planner said, “This is probably the best deal in D.C.”

Two years ago, mostly white evangelical Protestants met with DDT at a New York hotel to reassure evangelicals about DDT’s vulgarity and multiple marriages just a few months before DDT’s infamous Access Hollywood tape. According to evangelicals, DDT followed his campaign promises on abortion, religious freedom, and Israel policy. They want DDT’s reassurance and mobilization of conservatives around other issues for the election. Other agenda items  include discussing priorities and strategies for the elections, such as the insertion of voting reminder in church bulletins. Church leaders will be told to describe voting as a Christian’s “civic duty.”

The need for such a meeting shows a recent change in the political climate. Only a month ago, ultra-conservative megachurch leader Robert Jeffress said:

“Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star. However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him…. Evangelicals knew they weren’t voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump.”

The shift in the evangelical movement from “family values” to the focus on white males is shown in the new church on the evangelical block, Focus on the Family, a charity founded by James Dobson who was a strong supporter of Roy Moore. In joining the religious welfare state by declaring itself a church, the charity eliminates all taxes and audits with the loose IRS requirements that “organization need not have all of the characteristics (few churches do, and newly-created churches cannot be expected to); thus, no single characteristic is controlling.” VP Mike Pence, a worshipper of James Dobson has promised Focus on the Family the administration’s unwavering support.

In a 1998 letter, Dobson wrote:

“What has alarmed me … has been the willingness of my fellow citizens to rationalize the President’s behavior even after they suspected, and later knew, that he was lying. Because the economy is strong, millions of people have said infidelity in the Oval Office is just a private affair–something between himself and Hillary. We heard it time and again during those months: ‘As long as Mr. Clinton is doing a good job, it’s nobody’s business what he does with his personal life.’

“That disregard for morality is profoundly disturbing to me.”

Dobson cited that people involved in licentious behavior would be fired in any other situation—for example, corporate, academic, and medical fields–and finishes with the vital importance of “character”:

“As it turns out, character DOES matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country, without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world…! Those two positions are fundamentally incompatible. In the Book of James the question is posed, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring” (James 3:11 NIV). The answer is no.”

Twenty years later, Dobson’s answer to the question from the Book of James is “yes.”

Operating as a “church auxiliary,” Liberty Counsel, a collection of lawyers, also escapes filing forms with the IRS. Members represented Kim Davis in her losing fight to illegally deny same-gender couples marriage licenses, awaits the Supreme Court “wedding cake” decision about whether businesses can discriminate against anyone they don’t like, and fills the DOJ. Others travel the world to push legislative draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation.

Evangelicals should clean their own house before controlling the lives of others who choose not to be a part of their religion.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Matthew Dennis “Denny” Patterson, pastor for over 20 years at the Nolensville Road Baptist Church (Nashville, TN), resigned last September following charges of child abuse for at least two decades. He is accused of touching children, mostly male, in their underwear and having them sit on his face and stomach.
  • Bill Hybels, co-founder of the megachurch Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago, IL) had a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct and fired several pastors and staff members. Now former pastors and staff members are accusing Hybels of sexual harassment and misconduct, including a prolonged affair with a married woman.
  • Pastor Ken Engelking was fired for “sexual immorality” from the Morning Star Community Church (Salem, OR) because of abusive, adulterous relationships that included sexual assault and rape covered up by the church since 1982 and still led by Senior Pastor Scott Nelson. One victim said she decided to tell what happened after seeing the movie Spotlight, describing a newspaper investigation into the church’s cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests. Past reports about the sexual misconduct to pastors were not reported to minors’ parents or anyone else. Engelking’s wife blamed one of the victims for a rape because the victim was wearing a tank top instead of a t-shirt.
  • Former youth pastor Brad Tebbutt is on administrative leave by the International House of Prayer of Kansas City after being accused of sexually abusing a Washington woman three decades ago when she was 14.
  • Joshua Clemons, a former youth pastor, has been arrested for sexual assault of children while he worked at Cross Roads Community Church (Parker, CO) and the children were part of the youth group. The married pastor also had an affair with a 17-year-old girl.
  • Chauncey Walker, a former youth pastor at Wichita’s Word of Life Ministries Church,faces trial for having sex with a 15-year-old  girl. The senior pastor, Robert Rotola Sr, said there was nothing he could do because Walker had quit when the victim told him and threatened to shame the victim by going public. Conversations showing the guilt were taped and can be used in the April 9 trial, legal in Kansas because only one party needs to consent to a recording. The victim is suing World of Life Ministries and Schools, Rotola, and his son, Robert Rotola Jr who is the church school administrator, for $575,000. An amended lawsuit petition indicates that more victims might be added.
  • Navy Capt. Loften Thornton, chaplain for over 25 years, was from released from his post after a video showed him having sex with a woman in front of a New Orleans pub five minutes away from the Marine Reserve facility.
  • Andy Savage, pastor at Highpoint Church (Memphis, OR), received a 20-second standing ovation after he apologized to his rape victim, Jules Woodson, who he assaulted when she was a teenager. (Savage resigned two months after the ovation.)

These examples are only a few from a cursory search of articles during the past few months in reports of massive coverups regarding sexual misconduct. Coverups are demonstrated by an evangelical leader calling DDT the “dream president” and white evangelicals overwhelmingly supporting former judge Roy Moore in his run for the Senate seat in Alabama after women talked about his sexual misconduct when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Evangelicals are reviving the “Billy Graham/Mike Pence Rules,” the evangelical solution to sexual misconduct and assault by preventing Christian male leaders from meeting alone with a woman who is not his wife. Katelyn Beaty, Editor at Large for Christianity Today, gives the female perspective of this male-centric guideline:

“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

“Most female Christian leaders I know find the Pence rule frustrating. (All the people I know who keep the rule are men.) Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement. Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.

“The answer is not to ask women to leave the room. It’s to hold all men in the room accountable and kick out those who long ago lost their right to be there.”

If DDT were to leave office—for whatever reason—VP Mike Pence might replace him. And so would the “Pence Rule” for the nation’s administration. Women would suffer far more losses because of this evangelical control.

April 7, 2018

DDT: Week Sixty-three – Besieged on All Fronts

The possibly precarious mental state of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has become more and more normalized. The media largely ignored the fact that DDT doesn’t know he lives in the White House. He began his speech to children at the 140th Easter Egg Roll by saying by referring to the White House as “this house or building or whatever you want to call it because there is no name for it.” His claim that the unnamed place being in “tippy-top shape” was a segue to telling the children about the great economy of the United States and how the military would be “at a level it’s never been before” with the “$700 billion” funding.

DDT is also trying hard to keep the unethical EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt, still suggesting last week that he might make him the DOJ Attorney General despite new scandals. Yet Pruitt’s unethical scandals keep pouring out with Scott Pruitt continues to have ethical problems. Added to scandals after my blog post earlier this week are his lies that his lobbyist renters didn’t have any business before the EPA (they did), the armored car that he wants taxpayers to give him, his failure to pay his pittance of rent without being hassled for it, the citation for his renters because they lacked a license to rent digs to Pruitt and his daughter, and the emerging scandal of former employee Samantha Dravis who unexpectedly resigned this week.

Pruitt called Dravis his “best friend,” and they had dinner together several times a week, and she carried out much of Pruitt’s anti-regulation agenda. She was among the staffers he took to Morocco to get business for his lobbyist renter although the trip had nothing to do with “environmental protection.” A Paris stop for the taxpayer-paid trip led to an extra day for them in “the city of lights” because they missed their first flight home. Dravis also got paid for three months when she didn’t show up at work. She was also the live-in girlfriend of Rob Porter, DDT’s helper who was fired for domestic violence, and reported him for abuse to WH counsel Don McGahn after she saw Porter with Hope Hicks. The information about Pruitt may have come from Porter as retribution for Dravis’ reaction to his dumping her for Hicks.

As Vanity Fair asked, “Can Scott Pruitt poison the environment enough to save his job?”

In the Russian investigation,

DDT waxed enthusiastic about being just a “subject” (not enough evidence to charge) instead of a “target” (lots of evidence), but investigator Robert Mueller moves forward like a bulldozer. DDT’s legal “team” can’t find replacements, and Mueller is amassing a report of DDT’s actions in office and pushing for interviews with DDT. The result could be an obstruction of justice. Politico has tracked DDT’s connections to Russia in these seven charts. According to DOJ documents, collusion is a crime, no matter what DDT claims.

The collusion information between DDT’s campaign and Russia was partially initiated by his adviser George Papadopouos getting drunk at a London bar two years ago and bragging to an Australian diplomat. Last week, he got tipsy—again—in a Chicago bar and told a new acquaintance, computer engineer Jason Wilson, that AG Jeff Sessions knew about the connections between Papadopoulos and Joseph Mifsud, an academic from Malta who told him about the Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in “thousands of emails.” Papadopoulos told Wilson that “Sessions encouraged me” to find out everything about the hacked Clinton emails.

Alex van der Zwaan pled guilty to lying to Robert Mueller’s investigation in the hopes that he would be out of prison before his wife gave birth in August. Apparently the tactic worked because he got a short 30-day sentence, probably by spilling lots of beans to Mueller.

A judge seemed to reject demands from Paul Manafort’ lawyer, Kevin Downing, to stop continued indictments from investigator Robert Mueller. Downing also argued that Mueller’s investigation exceeded the scope delineated by DOJ’s Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein but withdrew part of the civil suit dealing with this issue.

After missing deadlines for a congressional law, the Treasury Department issued sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies associated with them, a “state-owned weapons trading company,” and 17 government officials. Much of the vast profits made by these people and groups are stashed in the U.S. and UK.

Mueller has proof that Erik Prince, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and founder of Blackwater, lied about his meeting with a Russian banker in Seychelles to “establish a [back channel] line of communication between the Russian government and the incoming Trump administration.”

The investigation has gone into the involvement of DDT’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to examine DDT’s business dealings, including those in Russia. DDT denies he has had any involvement, but former partner Felix Sater has talked about their pursuit of a hotel in Moscow with financing from the Russian bank VTB that is sanctioned by the U.S. government. DDT sought deals to put his name on a huge hotel in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, and taken out copyrights on a large variety of products in across the former USSR and Iran.  Partners of the Trump Tower Baku in Azerbaijan are relatives to a wealthy government minister with connections to the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s infamous military unit.

Joseph Schmitz, a DDT foreign policy adviser, pushed U.S. intelligence agencies to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails from the dark web.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee want information about DDT’s “Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust” from the Office of Government Ethics. The purpose is to pay legal expenses for DDT’s campaign aides caught up in the Russian investigation, and the reason may be to obtain more favorable testimony for DDT. The Fund allows secret, perhaps prohibited, donations, but public documents don’t explain how it will vet donors.

On Easter, DDT tweeted that there will be no deal to help DACA youth, called on tough punitive immigration legislation, and threatened to close down NAFTA. Then he went to church to celebrate the resurrected person of color honored on that day. After eliminating the DACA program himself, DDT turned down 13 bipartisan agreements for saving DACA, some of them even his own suggestions.

DDT decided to withdraw troops from Syria because he thought we had defeated ISIS before he decided to leave the troops there. In the meantime, he’s sending the National Guard from consenting states to the Mexico border as leverage to get his wall although the military cannot enforce any laws without their being federalized by Congress because of an 1878 law. DDT’s idea was inspired by Fox’s segment called “Caravan of Illegal Immigrants Headed to U.S.,” an annual migration of over 1,000 migrants to protest U.S. immigration policy. Most won’t try to cross the border. Fox’s Tucker Carlson described Mexico as a “hostile foreign power.” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who continues to say that Mexico is not paying for DDT’s wall, cancelled his plan to visit DDT.

Texas is sending 250 National Guard members to the border, but lawmakers there are unhappy. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) explained why this action is unnecessary, using a town in his district as an example:

“McAllen is at a 32-year low in crime. We’re at a 46-year low in illegal entries. It’s the wildest thing in the world for us to hear that they want to bring National Guard troops to the border region.”

Arizona is sending another 150 members of the National Guard. George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard soldiers to the border in 2006 because of border agent shortage, and President Obama sent 1,200 in 2010. Ann Coulter wants the military to “shoot the illegals” coming across the border because “just standing there doesn’t do a thing.” Ted Nugent wants all Democrats shot and killed like “rabid coyotes.” DDT has already said that drug dealers should all be killed, and on a Christian political show, Idaho state Sen. Bob Nonini called for the death penalty for women having an abortion. Caught in a backlash, Nonini said that he “NEVER said or agreed the death penalty should be considered,” but his words are on tape.

Congress returns this coming week, and conservatives are pushing to remove spending increases from their recent budget law for $1.3 billion spending. A 1974 law allows these revocations. Several Republicans, however, aren’t excited about the plan and say that they’ll wait to hear from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who hasn’t even declared himself for re-election yet. Concerns about reversing the law include tough votes from the Democrats and negotiation in future spending deals which must be bipartisan.

HHS Office on Women’s Health has removed a website on breast cancer and other reproductive health information, including insurance information for low-income people such as no-cost breast cancer screenings. Much of the information has also been removed on a page dedicated to mammograms. The same agency has also removed LGBTQ health resources from its website.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’ new book, Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead, tells how Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner offered her more funding for PP if she stopped abortion services.

The latest polling of DDT’s approval rating from the ultra-conservative Rasmussen survey came in at 47 percent, but DDT, never concerned about accuracy, claimed it was 51 percent—and then told people to add seven or eight percent to the poll. DDT’s average among polls is currently at 40 percent.

April 4, 2018

Scott Pruitt – Is He the Next To Go?

With more bad news about the Stormy Daniels’ and Russian scandals, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs another distraction. Firing his EPA secretary might be the solution, especially since Scott Pruitt is causing a number of scandals on his own. Pruitt came into the job lying at his confirmation hearings about private emails and then taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers for massive security expenses although no one can track serious threats; and construction needs to hide away from his staff. DDT kept him on because he was following DDT’s direction by polluting the nation and killing people with dirty air and water which saved money for DDT’s business friends; and high costs for personal and business travel, sometimes first class, because he is afraid of his constituents. He spent $120,000 to attend the G7 climate conference with seven aides and several security staff where he went to only one meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to postpone Pruitt’s hearings until thousands of emails were released. The day after his confirmation, the emails showed Pruitt’s collusion with the fossil fuel industry bribing him to falsify information supporting fracking. Thousands of concealed emails were released the day after his confirmation showing the his collusion with the fossil fuel industry that bribed him to build cases in favor of fracking companies and electric utilities.

In the last eight months of 2017, 770 EPA employees left the agency. Pruitt is so paranoid that employees may not take notes at meetings or talk about environmental issues. His security cost $830,000 for the first three months, the secret phone booth was $42,000, and special locks were $6,000 each. At the same time, the EPA budget dropped by over 30 percent in one year.

Pruitt’s latest scandal, however, is something that DDT may not be able to bear because it won’t go away. Pruitt’s expensive trip to Morocco regarding liquid nitrogen gas exports last December, something that has nothing to do with the EPA, caused great interest in the media when journalists found that he got a condo rental for $50 per night—when he stayed in—in an area that usually costs up to $5,000 a month for rentals. Pruitt’s renter is the wife of energy lobbyist J. Steven Hart who not only may receive an LNG deal for Pruitt’s cheap rent but also was awarded a huge pipeline expansion for Enbridge although EPA had previously fined the company $61 million for a 2010 pipeline disaster sending “hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways,” according to the New York Times. The fine was the second largest in almost half a century just behind that for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.  

The most recent scandal about Pruitt surrounds Millan Hupp, the 26-year-old staff member with the 33-percent raise who spent both office and personal hours in an extensive search for a house for Pruitt. Her work on this project constitutes a violation of federal rules that prevents federal officials from asking subordinates to do personal tasks. The White House refused to approve huge salary increases for both Hupp and another staffer, so Pruitt employed them under the Safe Drinking Water Act, permitting Pruitt to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval. These employees do not have to sign ethics pledges about lobbying activities and other conflicts of interest. Pruitt signed off on their employment, but he denied it in a Fox interview today.

The Fox network, usually easy on Pruitt, was more harsh today. Asked about the additional $84,000 in salary for just two staffers, Pruitt said he knew nothing about it until this week. Interview Ed Henry said, “You run the agency. You don’t know who did this?” Until now, Pruitt managed the media by catering to conservative outlets and avoids environmental reporters. By withholding information, such as his schedule, Pruitt he kept out of trouble, especially because he threatens reporters with police removal at his events.

Pruitt began his first year running the EPA by vastly shrinking the agency and trying to destroy any regulations. Because he stopped enforcing civil penalties for companies breaking limits for hazardous chemicals, the amount of fines dropped drastically, about one-fifth of President Obama’s last year.

Pruitt has damaged children’s health and neurodevelopment by returning banned pesticides into the food supply, weakening standards to toxic metals, allowing corporations to release pollutants that increase asthma, permitting implementation of chemicals even if they can be dangerous, and closing an office that tests the effects of chemical exposure.

Pruitt’s drastic attempts to repeal the Clean Power Plan is opposed by a diverse population of coal miners, Missouri grandparents, and Wyoming healthcare workers.

A way for Pruitt to restrict environmental regulations is his proposed policy that all raw data must be made public, and that means personal health information that people want kept private if they participate in studies. Pruitt’s policy will result in narrow, incomplete research. He also ruled that scientists receiving EPA grants may not serve on the agency’s advisory board which blocks expertise about current science. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year.

Pruitt told agency scientists that they cannot speak about climate change. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year. He replaced half the members on a key scientific review board that determines the quality of research.

Last week, Pruitt sent all employees his eight approved talking points about climate change stating that the level of human impact on changing climate is “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.” It added “clear gaps” about the role of human activity “and what we can do about it.”

The EPA programs on climate adaptation and the one that studies effects of chemical exposure on children have been closed, and Pruitt recommends no funding for ones that deal with rising seas and warming temperatures. He also erased climate change from websites.

Pruitt is saving utilities from $31 million and $100 million annually by eliminating rules that tightened restrictions on disposal of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The toxic heavy metals seep into the groundwater, and living with a mile of a storage pond causes a greater health threat than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Coal ash is the second greatest toxic pollution threat in the U.S.

Pruitt eliminated the policy requiring polluters such as factories and power plants to be designated “major source” after they emit more than 10 tons of hazardous materials or 25 tons of combined dangerous materials in a given year.

Pruitt’s hires are highly questionable. Albert Kelly, banned from working in the banking sector for life, gets $172,000 from the EPA as senior adviser. He has no experience, but he loaned Pruitt money to buy a home and a minor league baseball team when he was an Oklahoma banker. Superviser for superfund cleanups, Kelly has had—and may still have—stocks in Phillips 66, one of the major polluters. Staffers at the EPA also have permission to keep their political consulting side jobs.

Pruitt suggested that global warming—which is causing floods, drought, famine, and war—might be helpful. He also said, “Science should not be something that’s just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C.”

Pruitt has been useful to DDT’s interest in big business and may save his job that way. This past week, he rolled back gas emissions regulations and just signed an executive order giving himself authority to determine regulations near streams, ponds, and wetlands, determining any possible negative environmental effects for projects such a coal refineries and power plants.

In 2016, Pruitt said, “I believe that Donald Trump in the White House will be more abusive to the constitution than Barack Obama and that’s saying a lot.” Pruitt became complicit in DDT’s crimes, but he may be on his way out. Asked about Pruitt yesterday, DDT said, “I hope he’s going to great.”

(If you’re not disgusted yet, Google Scott Pruitt. There’s a lot more, including his history while in Oklahoma.)

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