Nel's New Day

January 17, 2020

DDT: Week 156 – ‘Trump Knew … What Was Going On’

Another busy, frustrating week for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), that Kerry Eleveld called a “five-alarm fire” for the White House.

  1. The Government Accountability Office reported that DDT’s administration broke the law freezing congressionally-allocated funding for Ukraine.
  2. Rachel Maddow’s interview with Lev Parnas, associate of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, revealed the unethical and possibly illegal machinations of DDT, his administrations, and his shadow associates in Ukraine.
  3. Ukraine started a criminal investigation into DDT’s allies.
  4. Seven House “managers” took two articles of impeachment to the Senate for a trial.
  5. GOP senators who vociferously claimed to exonerate DDT swore under oath to “do impartial justice.” Many of the 22 GOP senators up for re-election this year, including appointed Martha McSally from Arizona, search for exists from their dilemma such as lying, avoid facts, and smearing the media.

1. On the same morning that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swore in all the senators for DDT’s impeachment trial—senators who may have lied under oath when they swore they would “do impartial justice,”—the non-partisan federal GAO ruled that DDT violated the law in withholding aid designated for Ukraine. The Impoundment Control Act mandates that the Executive Branch cannot make funding changes without asking Congress to reconsider its allocations. Congressional members weren’t even notified of DDT’s decision.

The OMB claimed the freeze was “to determine the best use of such funds” and “necessary to ensure that the funds were not spent ‘in a manner that could conflict with the president’s foreign policy.'” The GAO called that reasoning “impermissible” because the president cannot “substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law.” The OMB’s claim of the hold being a “programmatic delay” has “no basis in law,” according to the GAO decision.

2. MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow show devoted almost two hours to Maddow’s interview with Parnas as he explained how DDT, Giuliani, and AG Bill Barr directed the extortion of Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky to force him into an announcement of an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter for DDT’s political benefit. Parnas has enough texts, documents, and notes to make many of his statements ring true, especially when members of the State Department, such as Gordon Sonderland, made the same testimony. Parnas said:

“President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn’t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani [DDT’s personal secretary] or the president.”

Like DDT’s comments about other people who give damaging information about him, he kept declaring that he doesn’t know Parnas—nine times in two minutes. Multiple photographs of Parnas and DDT together have long been on the internet, and a video of them has also surfaced. Parnas’ phone records also have contacts with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who played a key part in defending DDT on the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry. A month ago, Nunes couldn’t “recall” Parnas’ name but regained his memory this week although he claimed they were “talking about random things.” [Newly-released documents show extensive contact between Parnas and a Nunes aide to obtain damaging material from Ukrainian prosecutors about Joe Biden.] Despite photographs to the contrary, DDT’s White House aide Kellyanne Conway suffers from the same amnesia as does House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Parnas also gave information about VP Mike Pence’s involvement in the Ukrainian scheme, for example, when Pence went to Poland on DDT’s behalf to meet with Zelensky.

Knowing about Parnas’ actions, Barr refused to release Parnas’ documents for three months to the House for its impeachment inquiry. Parnas told Maddow that the DOJ would make corruption charges against Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash disappear if he would provide damaging information against Joe Biden and that Barr knew about the potential deal. Firtash gave Parnas $1 million, and Parnas retained Giuliani’s firm while working for Giuliani to give attorney-client confidentiality to DDT because Giuliani represented both him and Parnas. Barr ultimately did not intervene in Firtash’s case but met with his lawyers Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova. The DOJ refused to answer questions from Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) about why Firtash has not been extradited.

Parnas told Maddow that he is being open about the events to protect himself from Barr. He said:

“[Officials in the Justice Department are] trying to scare me into not talking. My wife is scared. My kids are nervous.”

After claiming that she was putting together a “small” group of senators to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) accused the House of doing “an incomplete job” by not addressing evidence from Parnas until after the impeachment articles were released. Information that Barr was suppressing. Since her vote for the tax cuts for the wealthy and Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, Collins, up for re-election this year, has gone from the most popular GOP senator at 82 percent to the least popular at 42 percent, even below that of the generally-hated Mitch McConnell. Collins walks a very fine line between pleasing DDT to get money from him for her campaign and getting votes from dissatisfied constituents.

3. According to texts from Robert Hyde on Parnas’ phone, the DDT donor was tracking former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch last March.  A few of his statements:

“They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”

“Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told.”

These statements fit with DDT’s comments to Zelensky in the July 25 telephone call about Yovanovitch:

“Well, she’s going to go through some things.”

Robert Hyde is a member of conspiracy-theory ridden QAnon, designated by the FBI as a possible domestic terrorism threat.

Yovanovitch’s anti-corruption work threatened pro-Russians working with Parnas, Giuliani, and others. The U.S. ambassador escaped Ukraine last spring after she was notified by a superior during an important ceremony to “get on the next plane to the U.S.” She immediately left the country. After this information became public, Pompeo cancelled a classified congressional briefing about embassy security, a mandatory monthly event.

Ukraine’s national police has asked the FBI for assistance in its new investigation regarding these illegal activities.  According to Ukrainian authorities, an ambassador possibly being “under illegal surveillance and her electronic gadgets … interfered [with] by the private persons at the request of the US citizen” can be a violation of both Ukrainian laws and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which protects diplomats on foreign soil.

4. The seven managers from the House to prosecute DDT in the impeachment trial in the Senate delivered two articles of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected these prosecutors with an emphasis on litigators, comfortable in the courtroom. Six are lawyers; the seventh, Val Deming, served as the first female chief of the Orlando (FL) Police Department. Leaders are Committee Intelligence Chair Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) and Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Pelosi also achieved diversity in her selection: three of the seven (Deming, Garcia, and California’s Zoe Lofgren) are women; Demings and Hakeem Jeffries (NY) are black; and Sylvia Garcia (TX) is Latina. Jason Crow (CO) and Garcia not only provide geographic diversity but also represent the freshmen House class.  

5. The GOP senators have presented two defenses for DDT: what he did wasn’t illegal and so what–known as the “what about it” response. 

DDT first wanted a big show for the trial but now wants the trial dismissed. GOP senators rejected the idea. McConnell first claimed he had enough votes to keep any witnesses or documents from the trial, but a few GOP senators consider joining Democrats to vote for a real trial with witnesses instead of a sham. McConnell plans keep the trial from media reporting and block the trial from being filmed although the House hearings were available for public viewing. He also wants to block media access to senators as they come and go from the chamber and deny access to reporters to and in the elevators.

The “imminent” trial is unhinging DDT. He kept a student audience waiting for an hour to hear about prayer so that he could watch senators sign their oath. After reporters’ questions, he whined and exaggerated his trade deals and furiously talked about the impeaching being a “hoax,” over and over again. Then he shouted in a tweet, “I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!” Following that, he begged retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to vote against witnesses in the trial. His meeting with aides also focused on impeachment. During his ceremony for national champion LSU football team, DDT devolved into swearing about an attempt to impeach him. (He’s already impeached.) Why is he so afraid if he’s done nothing wrong?

The Senate convenes for opening arguments in DDT’s impeachment trial at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.

January 12, 2020

The Messiah Keeps Failing

Televangelist Jim Bakker told his audience that “Trump is a test whether you’re even saved. Only saved people can love Trump.” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has now been raised to the level of Jesus. Here are a few of this week’s actions connected to the evangelists’ new Messiah.

Taxpayers have funded the DOJ for over two years to investigate the conspiracy theory regarding corrupt in the Clinton Foundation The inquiry to satisfy conservatives is over. The investigation found nothing in contrast to the discovery of massive corruption in DDT’s “charity” foundation. It’s the 1990s all over—nothing there. Now DDT is hoping for “better” results from the DOJ investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 examination into a tie between DDT’ campaign and Russia.

DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr, may be the subject of an investigation after the New York City Bar Association asked Congress to investigate Barr for making the DOJ and its prosecutors as “political partisans willing to use the levers of government to empower certain groups over others.” Barr has spoken about the progressives’ “campaign to destroy the traditional moral order” and promised to use the DOJ to resist “forces of secularization.” He criticized DAs from large cities “who style themselves as ‘social justice’ reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook, and refusing to enforce the law,” according to a letter from 450 450 former federal prosecutors working in GOP and Democratic administrations.” Barr also misrepresented DOJ reports to protect DDT and manipulated the agency for the same end.

After DDT gave states permission to take Medicaid coverage from people who don’t meet work requirements, several red states took advantage of another way to punish the poor. Now, six states—Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia—have reversed or suspended these increased restrictions because of legal challenges and coverage losses. Maine governor Janet Mills said that more people were uninsured with no greater participation in the workforce. Arizona cited “the evolving national landscape.” Kentucky has a new Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, who campaign against the new work plan, protecting health coverage for almost 100,000 low-income state residents. Michigan’s new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, urged a reversal of the work requirement which could cause up to 183,000 Michiganders to lose coverage because of its highly restrictive statute. Arkansas may be take coverage from people who should be exempt by their law because almost 25 percent of the target population lost coverage in the first seven months and work requirements haven’t helped people find jobs. Federal courts have already vacated work requirement waivers in three states because they fail to meet the central objective of Medicaid.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wants to keep hiding how taxpayer money is being spend on DDT when he leaves the White House and on DDT’s family—at least after the 2020 election. This agreement with Congress is connected to Mnuchin’s attempt to move the Secret Service DHS to Treasury. DDT complained about the $96 million cost for President Obama’s travel in eight years, an amount possibly equaled during DDT’s first year. The White House has refused to divulge any travel expenses for over two years.

DDT may have been able to pardon possible war criminal retired Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn before his murder trial, but Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations, won’t reinstate Goldsteyn’s Special Forces tab. The decision now goes to an administrative panel who will also consider reinstatement of Golsteyn’s Distinguished Service Cross.

E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against DDT after his insults about her charges of sexual assault may continue, and a judge okayed the discovery process. DDT had said he was innocent because Carroll isn’t his “type.”

Gerrymandering is one of the reasons that Republicans have taken over the majority of states and then elected DDT through the Electoral College. Although the Supreme Court sometimes blocks gerrymandering if it’s based on racial reasons, the conservative justices will support gerrymandering if Republicans rig the system for the GOP. One person proving the lengths to which Republicans go has released a cache of computer information to show how her deceased father, Thomas Hofeller, drew a vast quantity of maps to make all districts easier for Republicans to win, often to take voting rights from minorities. Stephanie Hofeller has now posted all the files she has on the website thehofellerfiles.com, linking to a Google Drive of Hofeller’s emails and documents tied to his gerrymandering work.

Some of the files went public earlier through court filings and news reports, and Stephanie Hofeller already released a document connected to DDT’s failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the Census, another method of trying to add GOP districts to control states’ legislatures, House membership, and the presidential election. Hofeller’s 2015 studies shows that adding the question “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” That discovery caused justices to block the question on the Census.

After Stephanie Hofeller discovered her father had died, she collected his belongings, including hard drives and USB sticks. She gave them to the government watchdog Common Cause that used the information in a North Carolina case about the state illegally drawing districts to favor Republicans. 

Common Cause won its case last fall, a case that may influence anti-gerrymandering lawsuits in other states. Thirteen state Constitutions require elections to be “free and equal,” five more require them to be “free and open,” and eleven others require them to be “free,” offering significant opportunities for other state Constitutional challenges to partisan.” North Carolina legislature is required to redistrict much of the state Senate and House maps with the requirements that they have fairly equal populations, be contiguous and compact, and stick to county groupings. In addition, districts must consider existing municipal boundaries and not consider race. The ruling also mandates compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.  

Unfortunately, the court told the GOP General Assembly to draw new maps which were still biased for Republicans. Soon after, the Wake County Superior Court ordered the start of candidate filing. Because dates for the primary elections could not be changed, the current gerrymandered districts be used for the 2020 elections.

Losing a question about citizenship on the Census, DDT has persuaded DHS to share government data so that the Census Bureau can get this information for everyone in the U.S. His goal is to redraw districts based on the number of eligible voters instead of residents, as required by the Constitution. This method would also benefit Republicans and non-Hispanic white people. DHS is releasing information that cannot be obtained with the person’s consent or a waiver from the DHS secretary. Latinx community groups are suing the administration because of DDT’s new plan. Another reason for lawsuits is that the process may not produce accurate data.

DDT is still on the campaign trail, and his speeches keep getting longer with more lies. At over two hours, the December 18 speech had 120 fact-free declarations, 67 percent of the total statements. In his most recent speech, DDT focused on lies about Iran and Ohio’s economy. He’s still calling for the audience to chant “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, apparently not understanding that she is not a 2020 presidential candidate.

DDT is refusing to comply with a court order to release 40 pages of emails between Robert Blair, top aide to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and a member of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, about the freeze on Ukraine’s congressionally mandated military aid package. The 300 pages of emails already released show the growing tension between the Pentagon and the White House in late August and early September.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is calling for changes to the Senate impeachment rules, a pattern that the Republicans have used for all their wins when they are in the majority. Chances of changes are unlikely because 67 votes are necessary for revising rules amenable to Republicans. By now DDT wants to cancel the impeachment trial. His tweets today show that he’s increasingly obsessed with impeachment, moving closer to panic.

Disappointment at the low December job increase of 145,000 caused the stock markets to drop. The average monthly jobs gains for 2019 were 176,000, a drop from 223,000 in 2018. Average hourly earnings rose by a mere 0.1 percent in December to make the annual increase 2.9 percent. This increase is approximately equivalent to inflation, and much of it comes from minimum wage increases in a few states. Economists say wages are not growing as fast as they should be, especially for those who aren’t seeing a boost from state and local minimum wage increases.

More jobs were created in the last 34 months of the Obama Administration (7.7 million or 227,000/month on average) than the first 34 months of the Trump Administration (6.1 million or 178,000/month on average through November 2019. This total is the smallest since 2011.

January 11, 2020

DDT: Week 155 – Disasters in Iran, Regulations

Another weekend, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues his growing series of demented tweets. He’s attacked the FBI for investigating Russian interference in the 2020 election, accused Democrats of defending Qassem Soleimani who he assassinated, claimed that his approval is over 60 percent instead of about the low 40s, and sent a message in Farsi that praises Iranian protesters for trying to overturn the government. DDT claimed, “I’ve stood with you since the beginning,” despite his refusal to allow Iranian immigrants in the U.S. and held Iranian-born U.S. citizens for hours at the Canadian border when they tried to return home after attending a concert in Vancouver. He claims that his killing Soleimani makes people more safe, but a USA Today/Ipsos poll disagree with him by 2-1. A majority in the poll, 52 percent, called DDT’s behavior with Iran “reckless.”   

Since he killed Soleimani, DDT has scrambled to find an excuse for the murder. Initially, DDT told associates that he killed Soleimani to get support from senators in his impeachment trial. By now, DDT has invented “imminent” threats, first an attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and then another three unnamed U.S. embassies. These assertions are at odds with intelligence information (agents who DDT calls “dirty cops”) and was not reported in the classified briefings to Congress. Secretary of State supports DDT’s claims, beginning with not knowing location or time of attacks to agreeing with DDT without evidence. Always ready to lie for DDT, VP Mike Pence asserted that DDT has proof of the threats but can’t tell anyone else.

Iran has now admitted to accidentally shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet and killing 176 people because of excessive caution after DDT killed Soleimani. DDT’s explanation for the plane crash was that “it was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.” Despite Pompeo’s claims that people are safer after Soleimani was killed, airlines are changing or withdrawing flights, and Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is removing all Filipinos from Iraq and Iran.  

Soleimani’s death has not driven the U.S. into war with Iran—yet—but it has dire impacts:

More possible U.S. war deaths in the Middle East: Today the Taliban planted a bomb in southern Afghanistan that killed two U.S. soldiers and injured two others.

More volatility and instability in a warring and explosive area: The Taliban may find links with Iran rather than peace with the U.S., serious conflicts in Yemen may worsen, and Pakistan may be involved in creating violence.  

An increase in ISIS violence and leadership: Soleimani opposed ISIS; his absence may create new divisions.

Iran’s withdrawal from nuclear restrictions: Iran had lived up to its agreement to not enrich uranium until DDT pulled out of the agreement and threatened sanctions and force.

Iraqi rejection of the U.S.: Iraq’s Parliament voted to expel the U.S. military, and young Iraqis may have more power in turning against democracy.

Strengthening hard-line conservative Iranian factions: Reformist president and foreign minister will lose the ability for diplomacy and all trust because their opposition believes that the U.S. wants to destroy Iran.

Loss of U.S. allies: DDT has ignored communication about his violent strategies and dropped out of any cooperation with them, including his past denigration of NATO that is now withdrawing its forces.

Violation of violate international, domestic and Iraqi law: DDT’s illegal actions creates a pattern of more lawlessness in crimes of aggression violating the UN Charter and his threats to attack cultural targets. He also violated the U.S. Constitution by ignoring its requirements for congressional approval for military actions.  

Increase in the U.S. military-industrial complex: Weapon makers have gained great control and power over U.S. policy, especially since George W. Bush’s preemptive attack on Iraq, and their wealth has purchased conservative lawmakers who remove resources for health care, education, and public services.

Destruction of world economy: Asia is dependent on Iraqi oil exports, and an attack already shut down half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, causing more disruption.

In a 224-to-194 vote, the House approved a bill to keep DDT from taking more military action against Iran through congressional authority as mandated by the constitution. Eight Democrats voted no; three Republicans voted yes, including Florida’s Matt Gaetz who vociferously defended DDT in the past. The bill goes to the Senate where it needs four Republicans to pass before DDT vetoes the bill. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said that even a veto could influence DDT’s actions, for example when he stopped refueling Saudi jets after Congress threatened to stop U.S. support for Saudi’s military campaign in Yemen. DDT’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who may run for Arkansas’ governor, said:

“I can’t think of anything dumber than allowing Congress to take over our foreign policy. The last thing we want to do is push powers into Congress’ hands and take them away from the president.”

Republicans have always claim that they revere the U.S. Constitution and lambast Democrats for ignoring the document from the Founding Fathers. Sanders is completely ignorant of Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:

“The Congress shall have power…[t]o declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.”

In addition, the War Powers Act of 1973 limits the president from sustained military operations without telling Congress within 48 hours.

Another DDT focus is doing away with regulations, a disaster as proved by FAA’s abdication of inspections to airplane manufacturing. The Boeing debacle continues with the knowledge of communications among the company’s employees about the 737 MAX demonstrating lax federal oversight of airplane manufacturers. According to a Politico article, emails showed “Boeing employees bragging about duping airlines, criticizing the MAX’s design as done by “clowns,” and raising concerns about cost-cutting and schedule pressures.” Wide publicity about the Boeing disaster began with 346 deaths in two different crashes of 737 MAX planes, which was rushed into manufacture in competition with Airbus. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) tried to blame the crashes on inadequate training in other countries, but evidence from emails may “put a little bit of a shadow on that.” Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) is still sticking to his blame on pilot error.

Emails also showed that employees ridiculed their regulator, joked about safety, and “was prioritizing production speed over quality and safety,” according to a former senior factory manager. Last month, Edward Pierson told Congress of “chaos” at the factory where the MAX was built. The FAA permitted the MAX to keep flying despite its finding that, with no changes, the plane would average one fatal crash every two or three years.

Employees described how Boeing hid problems from the FAA during the certification of simulators and training for pilots. Emails showed ridicule for FAA officials when employees described a complicated Boeing presentation for the agency that “was like dogs watching TV.” Employers wanted limited training for airline crews to save money for Boeing, for example offering a $1 million per plane discount to Southwest with a short computer-based training on personal computers or with notebooks for pilots who had flown he 737 NG instead of simulator training. Even after two crashes, Boeing told the FAA that simulator training was unnecessary and didn’t mention this training in the manuals. Boeing didn’t reverse this position until ten months after the 737 MAX’s grounding and a congressional investigation.

Boeing’s indifference to the plane’s structural problems has now cost 2,800 jobs in Kansas at the aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems.

Despite the Boeing disaster, DDT calls regulations a “nightmare.” He proposed removal of environmental reviews for building pipelines, bridges, and roads, a change that will pollute the nation and accelerate the climate crisis. [Think of the recent fires in Australia that killed over 1 billion animals and at least 27 people, destroyed or damaged over 2,000 homes, cost about $5 billion thus far, and reduced Australian 2019-20 GDP by between $2.1 billion and $4.3 billion.] Changes would eliminate a requirement for agencies to consider the “cumulative impacts” of project that has included the study of planet-warming consequences from greenhouse gas. DDT has rolled back 58 separate rollbacks of environmental protection and considering another 37, including removal of clean air and water rules, loosening regulation for oil an gas extraction, and eradication of wildlife protections. 

About his murdering Soleimani, DDT said he was looking for long-term protection, but his environmental policy ignores everything except greater profits for big businesses. Even now, however, worsening particulate pollution from DDT’s regulatory changes shares the blame for 9,700 more people in the U.S. dying from air pollution in 2018 than 2016.

January 8, 2020

Iran – The Bully Backs Down

Within the last few days, Iraqi strikes killed one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 24 Iraqis and injured another 50, the Iraqis fired in protest at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) assassinated the Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. DDT warned Iran not to retaliate before Iranians launched over a dozen ballistic missiles at two U.S. air bases housing U.S. military members in Iraq, an act that Iran called “hard revenge” for Soleimani’s death. Iran stated that they would not fire again if DDT didn’t retaliate. Most countries, including Israel, won’t support DDT, and DDT caved—after people held their breath to see if he would move toward World War III. Last night, DDT tweeted, “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq.” 

Today DDT gave a brief speech filled with lies, mispronunciations, snuffling, repetitions, incompetent spins, blame for President Obama. DDT equated backing down with proof that Iran’s “campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.” He miserably failed to make Iran less aggressive with “maximum pressure” by withdrawing from a successful deal controlling Iran’s nuclear program and issuing failing sanctions.

Iran threatened strikes against Dubai and Haifa, but DDT claimed that Iran was “standing down.”

DDT said he would “never let” Iran acquire a nuclear weapon with no strategy or leverage to block Iran’s nuclearization, just as he failed in North Korea.

DDT said the U.S. was “ready to embrace peace” and then promised to intensify the massive sanctions on Iran.

DDT took credit for “destroying 100% of ISIS” although ISIS hasn’t been destroyed.

DDT claimed, “We are now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world,” a status achieved under President Obama in 2012. which is true, though it’s a status the United States reached in 2012.

DDT wants to involve NATO in the Middle East after putting down the organization’s value; NATO is pulling its military after Soleimani’s killing.

DDT’s lied that President Obama’s administration paid for the Iranian missiles and that the Iran agreement “expires shortly.” The referenced funding was either money owed Iran through a court decision or their own money. 

DDT falsely said, “Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013.” The deal was signed in 2015, and hostilities with Iran increased after DDT voided the agreement despite Iran’s complying with the terms.

DDT claimed Iran is “the leading sponsor of terrorism,” but in 2011, he said Saudi Arabia was “the world’s biggest funder of terrorism. Saudi Arabia funnels our petrodollars, our very own money, to fund the terrorists that seek to destroy our people.” In the 9/11 attack, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and the 9/11 Commission found that al-Qaeda raised money for terrorism in Saudi Arabia.

The Pentagon spent less than $500,000 million on military equipment since DDT was inaugurated, less than 25 percent of DDT’s claim.

DDT bragged about how “our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast.”

Andrea Mitchell, a political correspondent for over 50 years, called DDT’s national security team the “worst” that she’s ever seen—“least experienced, the least effective, and the smallest” in recent memory. The “team” doesn’t even have a Senate-confirmed director of National Intelligence or a deputy director of National Intelligence. DHS lacks a Senate-confirmed Homeland Security secretary and deputy secretary, and there is no Senate-confirmed undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs or assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance. The Pentagon has seen the resignation of six top officials in less than six weeks.

On the conservative website The Bulwark, Shay Khatiri wrote:

“President Trump didn’t hire the “A Team,” or even the “B Team,” of experienced Republican former national security officials. He skipped past them because most of them had, during the 2016 campaign, signed public letters and statements denouncing him. So the Trump administration began with the C Team. And as time passed and the members of the C Team resigned or were fired, the administration moved on to D and E.

  • DDT: a reality-show personality who never had a government position before election, knows nothing about international affairs, doesn’t listen to intelligence briefings, and is ignorant about current events..
  • VP Mike Pence: former state governor and U.S. representative.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: former Army captain, U.S. representative, and warhawk.
  • Robert O’Brien (national security advisor): held low-level positions in George W. Bush’s administration.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper: lobbyist who rose to this position from six levels down.
  • Secretary of Army Ryan McCarthy: crisis-management experience, former Army Ranger, and Afghanistan war veteran.
  • Secretary of Air Force Barbara Barrett: former non-Foreign Service Officer ambassador with no experience in national security crisis management.
  • Secretary of Navy: none.

Senate Democrats reported that the administration’s briefing on Soleimani’s killing failed to show an “imminent threat” to U.S. troops and diplomats. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) commented on “the lack of information” and described the administration’s “strike of choice” as “one that likely would’ve required congressional authorization beforehand.” The 75-minute briefing left senators with “multiple questions unanswered,” and only 15 of 97 senators in attendance could ask questions. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

“We did not see a plan, a satisfying plan for the future. As the questions began to get tough, they walked out.”

Utah’s GOP senator Mike Lee was even more harsh in his response to the briefing, calling it “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.” He described the message as telling lawmakers to be “good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public” and “insane.” The briefing, according to Lee, persuaded him to support Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D-VA) war powers resolution that reinforces resuming the constitutionally congressional power over the president for determining military actions. Fox network stopped Lee from talking about the briefing.

Congress abdicated its responsibilities after the 9/11 attacks with the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), which permitted the president to use all “necessary and appropriate force” against any countries whom he determined “planned, authorized, committed or aided” the 9/11 attacks or harbored involved persons or groups. During the past 18+ years, U.S. officials have used AUMF to justify actions 37 times in 14 countries. VP Mike Pence supports DDT in using the AUMF for attacks on Iran with his falsehood about Soleimani’s connection to 9/11.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Iranian attacks were meant to kill U.S. military members, but facts refute his statement. The U.S. knew about the attacks hours in advance, and base personnel went to the bunkers. The highly accurate missiles avoided killing and great destruction by hitting lesser targets. 

Saudi Arabia supports DDT because he sells them weapons and doesn’t make them responsible for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. journalist and citizen, Jamal Khashoggi. On Monday, DDT tried to hide his meeting with Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the murdering crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Vice Minister publicized the meeting, however, tweeting that it was to discuss cooperation for “regional challenges” (aka Iran).

During his campaign, DDT warned that voting for Hillary Clinton would mean going to war. In 2016, about 66 million people voted for Clinton, and the U.S. may go to war.

Even without airstrikes, Iran can retaliate against the U.S. Iraq is on the verge of eliminating U.S. military presence in the country, one of Soleimani’s goals. Iran controls the Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes, supplies weapons to Yemen’s Houthis, and supports Bashar Assad’s war on his Syrian people. Most dangerous for the United States is the possibility of cyberattacks. Revenge is a dish best served cold, according to a centuries-old proverb, and Iran may be preparing and cooling its vengeance for the future.   

Some Republicans, like Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), think that they can’t win without lying when he tweeted a faked photo of President Obama with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The photo was debunked over four years ago after it was used to promote incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (WI) in his opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement. Rouhani was photoshopped over former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) in this 2011 photo, and the color of the flag was changed. President Obama never met Rouhani. 

In the global community, 64 percent believe that DDT cannot be trusted to do the “right thing” in world affairs. European allies such as Spain, France, and Germany are as low as 25 percent in confidence, and the percentage drops to 8 percent in Mexico.

January 6, 2020

The U.S. Stands Alone

A bully always expects an adversary to back down—the philosophy of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in his mistaken belief that running a government is the same as running a business. He ordered the assassination Iran’s military leader, Qassem Soliemani, on Iraqi soil to show that he is the boss, but events prove him wrong.

Two days after Soliemani’s murder, the Iraqi Parliament voted by 170-0 to rid itself of U.S. troops by 170-0, primarily Shiites, with many of the 328 Parliament members, mostly ethnic Kurdish and Sunni Muslim minorities, absent. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent Sunday on the “news” shows explaining that Iraq certainly didn’t want the U.S. to pull its troops.

Since its expulsion vote, the Iraqi Parliament determined that U.S. troops cannot leave their bases or fly in Iraqi airspace while plans are being made for their departure, according to Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, the military spokesman for Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The U.S. sent a letter to Iraq giving information about moving troops out of Iraq, but Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley explained that sending it was an accident because it was a draft, poorly worded and “that’s not what’s happening.” DDT said that he wanted the letter “cleaned up.” Someone in the Iraqi military provided Information about the contents of the letter. DDT also threatens sanctions on Iraq if it expels U.S. troops and demands reimbursement for costs for keeping a military presence in the country, especially the “extraordinarily expensive air base [that] cost billions of dollars to build.”

During his appearances on TV, Pompeo kept assuring people that there was no danger but asked about retaliation for Soleimani’s assassination, Pompeo flippantly responded, “It may be that there’s a little noise here in the interim.”  The Pentagon has sent six B-52 bombers to the Indian Ocean for use against Iran. DHS has also warned businesses to take precautions about possible cyberattacks. Computer experts also cautioned about Iran targeting such infrastructure as energy grids and financial institutions.  

Pompeo, supposedly in charge of diplomacy instead of violence, persuaded DDT to kill Soliemani against the advice of the Pentagon after a ten-year fixation to attack Iran. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Pompeo’s classmate at the U.S. Military Academy, and VP Mike Pence reinforced Pompeo’s recommendation. Esper ignored the traditional decision-making process when he failed to discuss plans with senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing. Pompeo had expected European allies to cheer his decision but discovered that they are giving him the cold shoulder.

DDT usually gets rid of people who don’t make him look good, but Pompeo thinks that he can stay, deciding that he won’t run for U.S. Senator from Kansas. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had wanted Pompeo to be a candidate because he was considered a shoo-in. Kansas, known in the past as solid red, elected a Democratic woman governor in the last election because her predecessor ruined the state with his draconian tax cuts.

Brand new at his job, Esper has lost more experienced support when his chief of staff Eric Chewning, a former Army intelligence officer, quit. Esper had already not told senior Pentagon leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the killing, ignoring the usual decision-making process. Chewning departure followed those of six other senior Pentagon officials in December.  Chewning’s replacement is Jen Stewart, minority staff director for the House Armed Services Committee. 

On March 16, 2003, Bush’s VP Dick Cheney said, “From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” For almost 14 years since George W. Bush set into motion the killing of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his male relatives, Iraqi life has worsened, and ISIS built a powerful organization that threatens the world. The U.S. put Shiites into power, and they developed a coalition with Iran. Bush’s VP Dick Cheney’s prediction that Iraqis would rejoice over the regime change and Bush’s early claim of “Mission Accomplished” have both proved to be wrong.

On January 3, 2020, Pompeo said, “I know that the Iraqi people will ultimately demand that the Iranians get out.” That and his claim that Iraqis would be “dancing in the street” after Soleimani’s death was as false as W.’s and Cheney’s statements. Instead Iraqis turned out in tens of thousands to mourn the Iranian’s killing.

In the past few months, the Iraqi government and militias, supported either by Iran or the U.S., have killed hundreds of unarmed protesters and injured thousands of them, mostly led by young men who came to age after Bush’s 2003 preemptive war who want to end foreign interventions. The U.S. escalated the military conflict by blaming Iran, and Iran blamed the U.S. as Iraqi militias attacked U.S. bases in Iraq 11 times within the last week of 2019. One U.S. military contractor was killed, and U.S. bombs killed 24 Iraqis and injuring another 50. After the Iraqi militia protested at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad (Iraq), the U.S. killed eight people at the Baghdad airport including Soleimani and the leader of the Iraqi militia.

Even Iraqis who oppose Soleimani are opposed to U.S. occupation in their country because they see DDT, like Soleimani, a villain because they don’t want foreigners to control their country—either the U.S. or Iran. That belief led to their vote “to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

U.S. interference in Iran goes back over a half century. In 1953, the U.S. ousted democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh because the oil industry was taken from Western petroleum companies. When the U.S. attacked Afghanistan after 9/11, it obtained intelligence from Soleimani about fighting the Taliban, but the U.S. lost this source when W. Bush, through his VP’s direction, listed Iran as one of his “Axis of Evil.” Soleimani, however, continued to be a major influence in Iraq in opposition to the U.S. DDT continued to eliminate any diplomacy with Iran when he imposed sanctions on the country and dropped out of the six-country Iran agreement.

After Soleimani’s murder, Iran ended its commitments to limit nuclear fuel production but promised to return if U.S. economic sanctions are removed. Soliemani’s killing stopped the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Esper and Pompeo have claimed that DDT won’t attack Iranian cultural sites, but DDT repeated his threats to commit this barbaric war crime which would be a declaration of war. Targeting cultural sites violates the Hague Convention on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, ratified by the Senate in 2008. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted, “Targeting civilians and cultural sites is what terrorists do.”

The threats of destroying their cultural sites have united Iranians with the rally cry, “Attend the funeral for our cultural heritage.” Iranian information minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi tweeted:

“Like Isis, Like Hitler, Like Genghis! They all hate cultures. Trump is a terrorist in a suit.”

European allies are trying to provide for the safety of their troops in the Middle East, and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, invited Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks. Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said he would seek direct talks with Iran to discuss the safety of its troops in Iraq and continue the fight against ISIS. DDT has blocked Zarif from addressing the UN Security Council on January 9 by refusing him a visa to enter the U.S. in violation of a 1947 agreement with the UN that the U.S. allow foreign officials into the country for UN affairs.

Russia condemned DDT’s killing Soliemani, calling it “fraught with grave consequences for regional peace and stability.” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his condolences over Soleimani’s death in a conversation with Zarif, and they agreed that DDT’s actions “grossly violate the norms of international law.” Putin has been working with Soleiman on Syria including Soleimani’s invitation to Moscow for an Iranian-Russian coalition. The Russian Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, connected the attack’s timing to DDT’s re-election campaign, something that millions of people in the U.S. also believe.

Immediately after Soliemani’s assassination, Israel was the only country to support DDT’s actions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn any support since then, saying, “We’re not involved.” After losing two elections in less than a year, Netanyahu wants to win the March 2 election to keep his position and protect himself from criminal prosecution after his indictment.

Over the weekend, al-Shabaab, US African Command killed a U.S. service member and two private contractors for the DOJ at a Kenyan Defense Force used by U.S. Special Operations forces. Al-Shabab is affiliated with al-Qaeda, but DDT has said nothing about bombing Kenya which has no natural resources that he would want.

January 4, 2020

Bad Year’s End for DDT

Why did Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) attack Iran when Iraqis perpetrated the killing of the U.S. mercenary and the attacks against the U.S. embassy in Iraq? DDT was told he looked weak after he called off an airstrike following the unproved report that Iran had downed a U.S. surveillance drone. According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), DDT killed Qassem Soleimani to look stronger than President Obama after lack of military action following the 2012 deaths of four people at the Benghazi diplomatic outpost. 

Nothing changed before DDT decided to kill Soleimani; the DOD had to make up excuses after the decision—just as they did with by freezing military aid to Ukraine. DDT’s major reason may be wooing evangelicals after Christianity Today called him “immoral.” All his actions this year will be based on his drive to be re-elected. As always, however, the main reason can be to distract from other negative news about him, such as these somewhat unreported bits from last week.

A whistleblower with access to documents from Deutsche Bank and Russia’s state-owned VTB bank claims that Russia underwrote DDT’s $2 billion loans from Deutsche Bank as well as being the proposed lender on DDT’s desired but uncompleted Trump Tower Moscow. The reason behind DDT’s huge loans from Deutsche Bank has been a mystery, especially because they occurred soon after his bankruptcy and high losses from several New Jersey casinos and his gigantic fine for money laundering in the resulting bankruptcies.

The documents supposedly came from a Deutsche Bank official who killed himself, one of two suicides connected to Deutsche Bank. In investigating Putin’s control over DDT, Congress should be able to obtain information. Judges at the district level and two ensuing appeals all ruled that Congress should receive the records, but the Supreme Court will hear arguments in March about whether Deutsche must comply with the congressional subpoena. SCOTUS usually doesn’t hear cases with no conflict at the lower level and ones between the two branches of government. 

DDT also had a chummy talk with Vladimir Putin last weekend when they talked about “mutual interests.” Russians have taken over the third U.S. base in northern Syria since DDT abandoned the area.

Making impeachment worse for DDT, a judge ordered the release of almost 300 pages of emails about DDT’s freezing the military aid to Ukraine.  “Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold,” Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller in an Aug. 30 email, only available in redacted form until now. A news source has seen unredacted copies from June through October that show how defense and budget officials frantically tried to cover for DDT’s illegal hold. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s senior adviser, Robert Blair, started the process on June 19 when he called acting head of OMB Russell Vought and told him, “We need to hold it up.” DDT rewarded Blair for not testifying about his part in the extortion of Ukraine by promoting him to a new position where Blair, with no experience, plays a prominent role in 5G work. After three months of blocking the funding release, After his order to freeze the funds, Duffey amazed McCusker by falsely blaming the Pentagon for not releasing the money. 

In late August, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, and then national security adviser John Bolton failed to persuade DDT to release the aid. OMB’s lawyers worked on an argument permitting DDT to override the congressional law—that he had signed—to send the funding to Ukraine. Mark Sandy, who controlled the release of the money from the Office of Management and Budget, maintained that freezing the funds would violate the Impoundment Control Act protecting Congressional spending power, but Duffey told Sandy to say that the freeze was temporary. Orders to block the Pentagon spending were sent every few days for weeks.  

These revelations are even more awkward as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leads some Republicans in a coverup by refusing to call any witnesses for the impeachment trial including Bolton, Mulvaney, Duffey, and Blair. 

Weeks ago, DDT wanted a big show for his impeachment trial in the Senate; now he suggests that it be called off before it starts. His tweet supported a plan from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to move for a complete dismissal of the trial. This idea, showing the weakness of DDT’s position, follows his attempt to pick a lawyer for the trial. DDT was said to choose either personal lawyer Jay Sekulow or over White House counsel Alan Dershowitz Pat Cipollone because the former have more “television experience.” Dershowitz is fighting an Epstein-related rape allegation, which might make him DDT’s pick. DDT’s personal lawyer, also fighting an indictment, has volunteered for the job. Other TV hucksters who DDT wanted are the loudest screamers from the House, meaning Doug Collins (GA) and Jim Jordan (OH). Devin Nunes (CA) probably lacks the necessary volume and has been quieter after his connection with indicted Lev Parnas in the Ukrainian scheme has been made public. DDT doesn’t get to pick the House members at his trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is infuriating DDT with her delay, and his fury may land on Cipollone because he wants a fast quiet trial.

Parnas, an associate of DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, may provide more information for the impeachment after a U.S. district judge ruled he can share information with the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI had seized.

More trouble for both DDT and Giuliani comes from the public knowledge about Giuliani’s part in trying to depose Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in another part of Giuliani’s being assigned a leading part in foreign diplomacy with no official position. His communication with Maduro in late 2018 opposed the government’s policy to take up a harder line against the Venezuelan government and connected him with a client in the region, a wealthy energy executive investigated for money-laundering. Parnas is also connected to Giuliani’s deal-making.

DDT bragged about how he could get North Korea to denuclearize, but his strategy not only failed but also overturned 30 year of U.S. strategy to contain NK’s nuclear program. Nineteen month after DDT ignored lower-level diplomatic talks, negotiations are gone, and Kim Jong-Un is chortling about his “new strategic weapon,” possibly a long-range ballistic missile. Kim denies DDT’s claim that they will soon meet although DDT keeps talking about his “very good relationship” with NK’s leader. President Obama warned DDT that NK would be his most serious foreign policy challenge—before DDT’s massive blunders in the Middle East—but DDT raised NK to a major global stature. Lawmakers and analysts see the U.S. in a worse position with UK than two years ago: Kim develops his nuclear weapons while DDT stopped joint military exercises with South Korea and weakened international sanctions. Like everyone else dealing with DDT, Kim saw DDT as a patsy and played on his weaknesses.

DDT’s tariffs are failing despite all his bragging. He lies about tariffs’ generating government revenue and boosting U.S. manufacturers. Instead, manufacturing has shrunk for the fifth straight month, dropping to the lowest level in over a decade during the recession. At 47.2, December’s index is slightly above 46.3 in June 2009 and far below the expected 49. A federal study reports that “the 2018 tariffs are associated with relative reductions in manufacturing employment and relative increases in producer prices.” The economy also grew more slowly in 2019 than in 2018, and both years are below growth in 2015 when DDT declared his candidacy with complaints about the terrible economy. The year 2019 may also be the worst for job growth in the past decade. If DDT had not messed with the economy, it would have been in better shape.

Homelessness is increasing since DDT’s inauguration after shrinking while Barack Obama was president.  Last week, HUD reported a 2.7 percent increase, the third consecutive year the number spiked.

Polls supporting the impeachment of DDT indicate that people may be less entrenched in their views. Over half of those surveyed think that DDT should be removed from office, up from 42 percent immediately after the House voted for impeachment. Other results:

57 percent: DDT has committed an impeachable offense.

57 percent: The Senate should hear from new witnesses to learn about DDT’s conduct.

86 percent: Senators should be impartial jurors.

In an Economist/YouGov poll that was published this week, only 38 percent of respondents want DDT to run for president this year, and 51 percent wish he weren’t running. Only 33 percent have a positive view of the GOP, and only 40 percent said they would vote for DDT or for Republicans.

And the world opposes DDT’s assassination of Soleimani while people increasingly think it wasn’t a good idea.

January 3, 2020

DDT: Week 154 – WWIII?

“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective, so the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.”

That’s what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said about President Obama in 2011. Immediately before the 2012 election heralding President Obama’s second term, DDT tweeted, “Don’t let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected — be careful Republicans!” Now DDT may avoid publicity about his extortion of Ukraine and a false investigation of his political opponent with his assassination of Qassem Soleimani that can “start a war with Iran.” The strike against Soleiman is far worse than earlier assassinations because it attacked a state leader, unlike the other U.S. killings of leaders in the Middle East. The U.S. made no attempt to arrest Soleimani in Iraq before he was killed.

The murder of Solemani, leader of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and second most powerful leader in the country, in a preemptive strike on the Baghdad International Airport had no congressional authorization. Repercussions are not certain, but the killing makes a U.S. presence in the Middle East far more dangerous, and U.S. people may be targeted around the world. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted:

“The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

To block DDT from illegally starting a war with Iran, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plan legislation to “prohibit any funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior congressional authorization.” An earlier measure to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for a similar purpose passed the House in July but was dropped in December. Instead of waging a new war, Khanna said, the United States needs to “get out priorities right” about its “crumbling infrastructure,” desperate housing needs, and “the existential crisis of climate change.” Sanders tweeted that “it’s the working-class kids who will … fight and die in a disastrous new Middle East conflict – not the children of billionaires.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced privileged legislation—meaning Republicans cannot block the bill from the Senate floor—banning any hostilities with Iran not explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force.

Echoing George W. Bush’s statements about his preemptive attack on Iraq, DDT said earlier this week that a war with Iran “would go very quickly.” Dan Spinelli disagrees and gives details. The same “quickly” comment was made about World War I, which instigators claimed would last a couple of weeks. World War I killed over 20 million people, and W.’s war in Iraq has lasted almost 14 years. And just like W.’s mythical “weapons of mass destruction,” vague descriptions of Iran’s “developing plans” and future attacks are intended to foment fears. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already replaced Soleimani with Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s deputy commander. Khamenei also warned of a “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killers. Ghaani said that “any military action against Iran will be regretted.”

The U.S. also reportedly killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in yesterday’s strike. In retaliation against the killing of one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 25 Iraqis who were able to breach the most secure U.S. embassy in the world. Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker it is time to put an end to “US recklessness and arrogance”; an emergency parliament session for Saturday will discuss the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killing the Iranian and Iraqi leaders. The session will work on taking “decisive decisions that put an end to US presence inside Iraq.” About 5,000 U.S. members, supposedly to protect and train Iraqis, are stationed in Iraq. The country’s prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi stated, “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people” and “could spark a devastating war.”

Like killing the head of the CIA, the assassination of Soleimani is ”an explicit act of war,” as an Al Jarzeera journalist wrote.

VP Mike Pence, one heartbeat from being U.S. president, is already spreading disinformation—or ignorance—when he falsely connected Iran to the 9/11 attackers and couldn’t even remember the number of those attackers when he said that 10 of the 12 attackers on 9/11 were linked to Iran. Of the 19 (not 12) 9/11 attackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the UAE, and 1 each from Egypt and Lebanon.  

Before the assassination, thousands of supporters of Iraqi’s Kataib Hezbollah militia attacked the 104-acre U.S. embassy in Iraq. Media almost universally used the term “Iran-supported” without mentioning that the attackers are Iraqi. The event came after U.S. airstrikes in Iran killed 24 people, largely civilians, because an Iraqi militia rocket strike killed U.S. military contractor (aka mercenary). Protesters backed off the attack after the group claimed it received guarantees from Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi to work toward passing a law calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The militia gained influence after it worked with the U.S. to drive ISIS out of Iraq. DDT has lost all leverage in controlling Iran after he dropped out of the anti-nuclear agreement and returned to imposing sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. won’t have allied support for a war with Iran: only Israel stands behind the U.S. in its unilateral war. Germany warned against further “dangerous escalation,” and the UK stated that more conflict is “in none of our interests.” DDT failed to inform European partners, and the UK said, “The purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other.” The Conservative chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee expressed concern about the “pattern” of the U.S. not sharing with the UK. France criticized the U.S. for “playing their game in an unpredictable manner” and said that the assassination has made the world “more dangerous.” Last week, Vladimir Putin said he will no longer cooperate with sanctions against Iran and said about Soleimani’s death, “We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.” China stated it “has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” urged the U.S. “to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” and called for respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

While keeping allies and Congress in the dark about his plans, DDT gave Israel advance warning about killing Soleimani. In addition to other preparedness for the attack’s backlash, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came back early from his visit to Greece. Netanyahu is running for reelection in March, despite his three criminal indictments, in the third election for the country’s prime minister. He is asking Israel’s parliament for immunity.

DDT also referred to his plans to people staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Five days before killing Soleimani, he wandered his private resort, dropping hints that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very “soon.” These comments went much farther than his New Year’s Eve tweet about the “big price” Iran would pay for damaging the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Two sources said that he talked about his contact with national-security and military advisers about an imminent aggressive action. One of them said that DDT kept repeating, “You’ll see.”

This afternoon, DDT claimed that his escalating tensions with Iran were to “stop a war” and told the attacked Iranians to immediately end “aggressions in the region.” Then he initiated another airstrike that killed five Iraqis in a convoy for a medical unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces near Baghdad. 

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. action created no danger for Americans in the region, but his agency asked U.S. citizens to immediately leave Iraq and suspended all consular operations. On Sunday, Pompeo tried to play down any problems in either Iraq or North Korea, but the Pentagon had blocked any government travel to Iraq or Syria, including by U.S. lawmakers and their staffers, because of regional instability. Pompeo is removing 28 percent of diplomatic staffing in Iraq by the end of May 2020, removing 114 positions in the Baghdad embassy alone, in a retraction on diplomacy and oversight.

Senior government officials continue the spin that killing Soleimani was intended to “advance the cause of peace.” The rest of the world has the opposite vision. On Twitter “WWIII” is the top trending term worldwide. People curious about DDT’s timing may consider that he bragged about the killing in his big speech to evangelicals today. And that Iran is hacking into DDT’s re-election campaign in opposition for his possible second term.  

January 2, 2020

To Chuck Todd: Don’t ‘Leave It There’

For over five years, Chris Todd, moderator of Meet the Press, has spread misinformation on the once-respected Sunday MSNBC news show, first about 2016 elections and then after the inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as Todd failed to push against Kellyanne Conway’s “alternate facts.” Since then, he has gulped down gob swallop and pushed it off on the public, much like Fox network does. Perhaps he has had an epiphany: in a Rollling Stone interview, Todd admitted he’s a failure at his job, and career, by confessing he was “just so absurdly naive” about how far Republican officials would go to spread DDT’s and Vladimir Putin’s lies and disinformation. Seemingly surprised, Todd said:

“[DDT’s] entire life has been spent using misinformation. His entire life. I’ve spent years studying him now on trying to figure out how did this guy even learn politics? Where did he learn? And the more you learn, you realize he learned at the feet of a master of deception in Roy Cohn. So I mean, look, if people want to read my answer to your question, ‘Boy, that Chuck Todd was hopelessly naive.’ Yeah, it looks pretty naive. I think we all made the mistake of not following Toni Morrison’s advice, which is when people tell you who they are, believe them.”

[The “advice” actually came from Maya Angelou.]

As an example of his “naiveté,” Todd said he was “genuinely shocked” when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) lied about Ukraine interfering with the 2016 election, the third senator to use Todd’s Sunday program to deliver Putin’s propaganda. On Meet the Press, truth isn’t truth,” a statement Todd permitted DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani to claim without follow-up. NYU media professor described Todd’s acceptance of lies as “strategic blindness”:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Todd’s annual salary for ratings from disinformation is $750,000. In a coverup for buying into GOP propaganda, Todd claimed confusion about the motivations of GOP office holders spreading easily disproved lies:

“I don’t get why so many people are comfortable uttering stuff that they may know will look ridiculous in three or four years.”

Yet Todd has permitted Republicans to pass along the “ridiculous” stuff. Jay Rosen also wrote:

“Three years after Kellyanne Conway introduced the doctrine of ‘alternative facts’ on his own program, a light went on for Chuck Todd. Republican strategy, he now realized, was to make stuff up, spread it on social media, repeat it in your answers to journalists — even when you know it’s a lie with crumbs of truth mixed in — and then convert whatever controversy arises into go-get-em points with the base, while pocketing for the party a juicy dividend: additional mistrust of the news media to help insulate President Trump among loyalists when his increasingly brazen actions are reported as news.”

Another cover up was Todd’s attempt to change the Rolling Stone’s term “disinformation” to “misinformation,” pretending that U.S. senators are poorly informed instead of deliberately misleading the public through using Russian “disinformation.” Possibly to redeem his shredded reputation, Todd used “misinformation” as the theme for his year-end program. Ignoring the smear tactics of Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt for Communists and any other Republicans, Todd relied on two Democratic presidents, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, to show that the lying isn’t new. His narrative twice used Clinton’s statement “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” to Rudy Giuliani’s saying, “Truth isn’t truth.” He also equated the GOP consistent lying, especially using Russian talking points, to a group of Democrats mistakenly using false evidence about Russian Twitter bots to elect Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race.

Meet the Press supposedly works for a balance between the two major political parties, but under Chuck Todd it became a sounding board for the lies of the far right. When he started this gig, Todd said he couldn’t ask hard questions because guests might not come on the show. His posture was far different from ethical hosts preceding him.

In 2014, soon after he became Meet the Press host, Todd supported the campaign for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a segment on Morning Joe. In commenting on the refusal of Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic opponent, to answer questions about whether she voted for President Obama, Todd sneered:

“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever gonna answer a tough question on anything? You wanna be a U.S. senator? If you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president … you can disagree with him but you can’t answer a basic question and you come across looking that ridiculous? I think she disqualified herself.”

McConnell used Todd and the word “disqualified” in a campaign video although Todd never specifically explained how Grimes “disqualified herself.” And Todd showed how Republicans should support DDT at any cost to the United States.

Before the same election when he was hosting Meet the Press, Todd praised Iowa’s GOP Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, for refusing to answer questions from any local newspaper boards and for her extreme position on “personhood.” Todd claimed the amendment would protect “unborn human beings.”

Earlier, Todd said that it’s not the media’s responsibility to correct lies, for example about the Affordable Care Act. Todd says that President Obama should have better messaging; on his program, Todd permitted then House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) deliver his “messaging” by accepting Boehner’s lies about the ACA. Todd accepted Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) lies about taxes and couldn’t understand how funding for infrastructure can save people’s lives. Todd also thought that Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-OK) stunt with a snowball as proof against climate change was fun. 

Asked why 62 percent of his guests were white men, Todd said that it was because “you want to put the best, smartest people on.” After a white man killed nine black people in the Charleston (SC) church, Todd’s segment about convicted murderers showed only imprisoned black men. His book, The Stranger, blamed President Obama for income inequality, instability in the Middle East, and partisanship but ignored McConnell’s vow to block everything that Barack Obama did.

While Todd’s wife campaigned for presidential candidate Jim Webb in 2016, Todd asked Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) about the “trustworthiness” of Webb’s opponent Hillary Clinton and claimed that “there’s something just not quite right” about her campaign. In a hatchet job on candidate Sanders, Todd called him “pro-NRA” before saying that the U.S. had enough gun safety laws. Yet Todd let DDT waffle about his creating a controversy about whether Barack Obama was born in the United States. The list goes on about Todd’s agist, bigoted, racist complicity with far-right conspiracists and conspiracy theories.

Todd has not only been “naïve” while on Meet the Press; he was NBC’s political director for the previous seven years with influence over all coverage and supposedly the in-house expert on politics. Four years before DDT was elected, moderately conservatives Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein wrote:

“The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” Todd fails on both these points. Todd not only allows smear campaigns against Democrats on his program but also joins in to the attacks. Now Todd says that he was hornswoggled by learning that his GOP guests lie, but where will he go from here? Back to playing dumb to disinformation? Back to allowing lies to keep his salary?  

Republican Jennifer Rubin wrote about “one party operating with an objective that is antagonistic toward any and all facts unfavorable to its leader and the other trying, however imperfectly, to adhere to the old, normal rules of politics in which spin and self-puffery are permissible but out-and-out lies (especially more than 15,000 of them) are not.” Her solutions:

Screen guests and panelists about their disinformation: This solution would result in “howls” because most Republicans couldn’t get on the air, “not of media bias but of a party determined to sublimate truth to power,” with explanations for not allowing Republicans to speak on specific topics is easier in print such as  “Cruz lied, again insisting Ukraine. …”

Stop interviews when guests insist on lying: The host could call a halt and ask guests to correct the record before ending the interviews if guests refuse and explain that the program doesn’t provide “a platform for misinformation.”

Prerecord interviews: This system permits refusal to air propaganda or fact-check in real time what the guests statements—a simple approach for Sunday “news” shows.

“Avoid equating liars with truth tellers and giving ‘equal time’ to fabrications”: This approach is vital with “one party … an echo chamber for Russian propaganda.”

The first principle of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics is “Seek Truth and Report It.” As “news program” host, Todd not only promotes smear campaigns but contributes to them. His standard response to GOP lies is “We’ll have to leave it there.” No, you don’t!

[Note: Three days from now, Todd will likely listen to Republicans praising DDT for starting World War III in the Middle East.]

December 26, 2019

DDT: Week 153 – Not a ‘Merry’ Christmas

[Note: My weekly roundup of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) happenings is a day earlier, and I may not be posting on Nels New Day for the next week. See you in 2020!)

DDT stayed quiet about Saudi Arabia’s exoneration of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the torture and dismemberment of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman, the man behind the killing according to the CIA, got off scot free while five people were sentenced to death and three others to prison. The two men who directed the torture and dismemberment, former deputy chief of intelligence Ahmed al-Assiri and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s top aid Saud al-Qahtani, were exonerated. DDT claimed that he protected MBS so he could sell them weapons, but he also personally makes millions from the Saudi’s use of his hotels and their real estate purchases. 

North Korea threatens a “Christmas gift” of nuclear testing, and DDT’s former national security adviser claims that DDT’s administration will soon need to admit failure in stopping NK’s nuclear ambitions because the U.S. is not “exerting maximum pressure on North Korea.” The U.S. has only a “rhetorical policy” with no actions to stop NK having nuclear weapons that can hit the U.S. or its allies. North Korea is “operating at full tempo” in building nuclear warheads according to experts, but DDT says things are just fine between him and Kim Jong-Un. A new structure was seen on a recent satellite image of the location where NK makes equipment for launching long-range missiles, and Bolton called NK an “imminent” threat.

After far-right evangelical Christian leaders’ attacks on the op-ed in Christianity Today advocating impeachment, author Mark Galli reported a boost in readership and support that outweighs criticism. In a second CT op-ed, editor Timothy Dalrymple wrote that evangelicals can be proud of DDT’s anti-abortion and religious liberty stands but evangelicals are “also associated with President Trump’s rampant immorality, greed, and corruption; his divisiveness and race-baiting; his cruelty and hostility to immigrants and refugees; and more.” The Christian Post, published by DDT-supporting Richard Land, then attacked CT, causing Napp Nazworth, a CP editor since 2011, to quit. He said, “They’ve chosen to represent a narrow (and shrinking) slice of Christianity. That might be a good business decision, short term at least. But it’s bad for Democracy, and bad for the Gospel.” DDT is punishing anyone—including evangelicals—who don’t support him.

On the other end of retaliation comes massive rewards, as for Robert Blair, who refused to testify for the impeachment inquiry despite his witnessing DDT’s withholding military aid to Ukraine. Blair will support the 5G development efforts despite no background in telecommunications. With a law and diplomacy degree, he has overseen spending, most recently in the Defense Department, before he became senior advisor in national security issues for acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.

Johnnie Moore, a DDT appointee, participated on a UN panel to decriminalize homosexuality in 70 countries other than the U.S. but concentrated only on eliminating sodomy. Known for his anti-LGBTQ messages, Moore opposes marriage equality and supports DDT’s transgender military ban. 

Amidst Boeing’s disasters, CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg has been fired—immediately. Boeing’s shares dropped 22 percent since the grounding of the 737 Max planes in March, a $52 billion market value loss. Those in the know think that the new CEO David L. Calhoun, hired to reassure people, won’t make many changes.

To circumvent federal laws preventing the government from collecting some types of information, ICE uses social media and for-profit data brokers to track at least one immigrant before arresting him. The person’s only crime was to reenter the U.S. to be with his family. Reuters has a $20 million contract with ICE for use of its CLEAR database. Over 55 percent of all prosecuted federal crimes in fiscal 2018 were immigrant-related, an 87 percent increase during DDT’s first full year, with the vast majority being misdemeanor illegal entry.

Property owners in southern Texas don’t want to give up their land for the wall, but DOJ lawyers are filing lawsuits to take the land. Last week, they tried to seize the land before a scheduled court hearing in February. The Fifth Amendment requires “just compensation,” but the government can deposit any amount it deems fair with the court and then immediately take the land. Two judges recently ordered a private pro-DDT group to stop building its own wall so workers went on vacation for a few weeks. On another property in a federal wildlife refuge, workers decided that the land was too saturated to support metal bollards on top of concrete panels.

DDT’s retaliation against anyone disagreeing with him is to be feared, according to former Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI), who did not run for re-election after expressing concern about DDT’s erratic behavior in a closed-door meeting with GOP colleagues. Other former and current GOP lawmakers and party strategists have anonymously agreed that elected officials can either retire or not criticize DDT. Out of office, Trott said:

“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way. But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted “Merry Christmas” yesterday before he launched into his increasingly vitriolic messages targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom for California’s homeless problem, the FISA court, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). His Christmas message called for “deeper understanding and respect.”

George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that requires 25 percent greater efficiency for household light bulbs. DDT blames President Obama for banning incandescent bulbs and continued his rants against problems with toilets, water for washing hands, and dishwashers. His latest problem is alternative energy when he said, “I never understood wind.” Then he claims that windmills create “tremendous fumes.” The person elected by 63 million people for the U.S. president can’t get his toilets to flush and doesn’t understand wind.

Why do people support DDT? In the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, UC Santa Cruz professor Thomas Pettigrew identifies five major phenomena of his supporters:

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome: The advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom demonstrates a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. This syndrome can be displayed by aggression toward “outsiders,” resistance to new experiences, and a rigid view of a hierarchical society. Because it can be triggered by fear, leaders can use this emotion to gain allegiance. DDT is especially appealing to people with this syndrome.

Social Dominance Orientation (SDO): Related to the authoritarian personality syndrome, SDO highlights societal hierarchy of groups. DDT stresses the whites as having a higher status over immigrants and minorities. People scoring high in these first two characteristics tended to vote for DDT.

Prejudice: Going back to Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the GOP appeals to bigotry with code words signaling prejudice toward minorities audible to racists. DDT is more direct by calling Muslims “dangerous” and Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “murderers.”

Intergroup Contact: Contact with other groups than one’s own can reduce prejudice; DDT’s white supporters have significantly less contact with minorities. A 2016 study showed “racial and ethnic isolation of Whites at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.”

Relative Deprivation: Discontent comes from feeling deprived of what people believe they deserve, compared to others who they perceive as equal or inferior but who (unfairly) achieved more. DDT supported people’s feeling of entitlement by talking about U.S. jobs lost to Mexico and China while ignoring the large number of jobs lost to automation. https://qz.com/1144201/under-trump-us-jobs-are-moving-overseas-even-faster-than-before/   Ironically, DDT has sent more jobs overseas, including an additional 150 percent of federal contractors, than President Obama. The term “relative is used because the perception is skewed rather than “absolute.” For example, median annual income of DDT’s supporters is $72,000, smashing the myth of their being rebellious “working class.”

DDT promised a great economy for the United States, but the blue states bucking his policies see a faster growing economy than red states. Obsession to fracking caused 165,000 jobs, and coal mining has 53,000, an extra 2,000 during DDT’s office. Recent economic growth has occurred in urban areas, especially in the service industry. Blue states have increased the minimum wage, providing the national growth in wages which is small because the red states have largely left the wages static and suffering from inflation. The most heavily pro-Clinton areas saw mean household income increases of over $15,000 compared to the less than $10,000 rise in the most heavily pro-DDT areas. DDT promised jobs and wages; his tariffs brought exactly the opposite.

December 25, 2019

Christmas by DDT, GOP

The purpose of Christmas, December 25, is to commemorate the birth of Christ—although he was likely born in spring. (December doesn’t have any lambs.) Those who celebrate the birth of Jesus glorify a refugee family of color fleeing fear of persecution as described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew about the “flight into Egypt” from Bethlehem (Mt 2:12-15) to escape the infant’s slaughter by King Herod.  Later Jesus said that welcoming the stranger means welcoming Jesus (Matt. 25), a religious superseding of any laws designed to hinder, prevent, or outlaw care and compassion for refugees and migrants. He also told people to feed the hungry, sell possessions, and give the money to the poor while treating people with the love, generosity, and kindness that he modeled.

Oliver Willis with Media Matters tweeted:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

[Check out Jesus and refugees on the internet to see conservatives blowing up at the very mention of this connection!]

On Christmas Day 2019, some people celebrate the refugee family, others the day’s culture of exchanging gifts and eating large meals. Yet millions of people in the United States lack the privileges of secure housing, food, and employment. Those who are safe might think of the disadvantages and misery caused by GOP lawmakers for almost two decades.

 

GOP policies have two major characteristics: give to the rich and take from anyone else because they are considered sub-human.

Adam Serwer’s 2018 essay “The Cruelty Is the Point,” published in The Atlantic, uses photographs of lynchings to illustrate shared pleasure from other people’s suffering. White men surrounding the hanging people enjoyed what they saw, just as lawmakers are pleased with their own cruelty from punitive laws toward those they view as “others.” People who don’t receive aid often resent those on programs such as food stamps, accusing them of being lazy and weak. The U.S. saves only $1.1 billion a year with the new rules taking food stamps from hungry people compared to the $1.3542 trillion expenditure for the military. has a minimal cost, compared to the wealth accruing to the top percentage of people in the U.S. from the tax cuts.

The first year that the tax cut for the wealthy and big business went into effect, businesses spent over $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payment, more than one-hundred times the savings from making people go hungry. The explosive budget deficit from these tax cuts makes GOP lawmakers complicit with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take even more from the poor with the excuse of balancing the budget.

On the southern border, the federal government tear gasses refugees and drives them back to Mexico to be raped and killed. Before the courts prevented family separation, the government separated families with no records of how to reunite them and put children in cages where they might be sexually assaulted. These are refugees like Jesus and his parents.

Because the conservatives on the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act optional for states, they can reject the provision that gave 90 percent of the expansion funding to states from the federal government. ACA funding allows states to reduce aid to hospitals for uncompensated costs and raises state tax revenues from a boosted economy. Yet 14 GOP-controlled states, several of them the poorest in the nation, turned down the neutral or even net positive expansion. Some of these states want to limit Medicaid even more with stringent work requirements, another action costing states money. The goal isn’t to make money; it’s to punish people by making their lives worse.

GOP lawmakers want to take Medicaid from everyone and cause others to lose health care—at least 20 million people by eliminating the ACA. People who lose health care can lose their work because of poor health and then their homes from bankruptcies through unreasonable expenses, causing less tax revenue. Without the ACA, older people will pay far more for prescriptions and health care premiums. Part of the ACA is to eliminate fraud and corruption in Medicare and Medicaid–$4 billion in its first year of 2011—but GOP lawmakers want continued corruption to benefit their big business donors.

DDT’s open hatred makes cruelty more acceptable. He doesn’t like Puerto Rico so his followers accept his refusal to send them aid appropriated by Congress. He wants the money sent instead to Texas and Florida, states that added to his electoral college total. DDT wants to support Russia, who interferes in U.S. elections on the part of Republicans so he threatens Ukraine by withholding military aid that would help Ukraine fight Russia. His followers echo DDT’s lying excuse of fighting “corruption” while accepting the massive corruption that DDT has brought to the federal government.  

DDT accepts indiscriminate killing and violence, whether in the U.S. or foreign countries. He refused to criticize Saudi Arabia for torturing and dismembering a U.S. resident and journalist and pardoned war criminals to use on his campaign trail. In his speeches and tweets, he encourages violence against his opposition, pretending surprise when his supporters carry out the violence and killing.

In its incessant worship of mammon, a greedy search for gain, DDT’s government kills people by eliminating regulations for greedy big businesses. Developed by the Nazis as a nerve gas, the pesticide chlorpyrifos causes brain damage in children, Parkinson’s disease, and forms of cancer.  Yet the EPA allows the chemical on fruits and vegetables, a chemical also dangerous for farmworkers and rural communities. Judges ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos in 2018, but chemical companies have EPA permission to keep making it—and money—as long as the case is in the courts. Actions from other agencies in favor of big business are equally destructive for humanity.

DDT not only rejects any thought of fighting climate change but also ridicules children who want to save the world for their future. He and his followers have been particularly vicious about the protests of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old leader who ignores the GOP lawmakers’ push to give to the rich at any cost to everyone else.

Well-known for ridiculing disabled people, DDT mocks them at his rallies, and his sycophants follow suit. Highly religious Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hoping to be Arkansas’ governor, made fun of Joe Biden when he tried to explain the suffering of people who stutter. A GOP proposed rule change would take disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people through further complicating Social Security eligibility payments. Ronald Reagan’s similar benefit cut took earned benefits from 200,000 people; he reversed the attack after public outcry protesting human suffering and death. The addition of a fourth disability category affecting 4.4 million recipients, many of them children and people 50-65 with poor health and no income, requires reviews every two years although health issues worsen with age.  

Throughout his almost three years, DDT has turned on LGBTQ people, literally making them sick. A meta-analysis of 300 scientific studies in the U.S. shows overwhelming evidence that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity damages the health of LGBTQ people. Mental health problems include depression, anxiety, suicide, and PTSD while physical problems include substance use, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In states implementing “license to discriminate” laws, “the proportion of sexual minority adults reporting mental distress increased by 10.1 percentage points.” These effects are “compounded” for LGBTQ people of color, queer youth, and transgender people. Again, poor health takes from tax revenue and adds to costs for care. Poor health from discrimination will also affect immigrants, people of color, the poor, and everyone else suffering from discrimination.

Laughter at cruelty is rampant among DDT’s followers—his mocking Puerto Rican accents after thousands were killed by Hurricane Maria, women talking about sexual abuse, calls to “lock her up,” ridicule of opponents’ Christian faith—there seems to be no low bar for DDT’s abuse of humanity and his supporters admiration of his cruelty. Cruelty is the new norm for DDT’s supporters.

People who defend DDT worship him because “he tells it like it is.” On Christmas Day 2019, this is “like it is.” It’s Christmas Day: Jesus was an immigrant refugee and person of color who wouldn’t like the way that Republicans are running the United States. As DDT’s acting chief of staff would say, “Get over it.” And maybe try to do better.

In Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge had an epiphany after visits from the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits—Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. On Christmas 2019, we can only hope for a similar epiphany in 2020.

 

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