Nel's New Day

February 28, 2017

Whither Health Care?

Filed under: Health Care — trp2011 @ 8:29 PM
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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) swears that he has unity among the GOP Congress and executive branch for the proposed health care plan, but reality shows a different picture. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said that he will have his own plan in two weeks although tonight’s speech gave the feeling that he agreed in someways with the GOP program. GOP Sens. Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), and Mike Lee (UT) want only a full repeal of Obamacare, and Paul called GOP plans “Obamacare lite.” The three senators met with House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker (R-NC) who also vigorously opposed colleagues’ plans, especially on the tax credits. Members of Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee had met with the far-right Heritage Foundation in early February and agreed that the solution was the 2015 repeal bill without any replacement plans. Meadows and Walker announced that they could not recommend votes for the proposed bill without “substantial changes.”

Republicans from the DDT on down have consistently promised the people of the United States a better deal for health care than the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and after years of meaningless repeals, the rubber is hitting the road. What are their plans? Drop coverage, raise prices, and take out every advantage of the health insurance now on the books. And drop all the taxes the raise funds for the ACA.

The replacement as of late February:

Replace subsidies with tax credits based on age instead of income. Under age 30, the credit would be $2,000 and double for those over 60. Wealthy elders, such as Bill Gates worth $83 billion, would get twice as much as poor young people. The ACA tax credit was adjusted by income, age, and the average price of insurance in a person’s market. An example of the importance of the ACA system is Alaska, where people receive double the tax credits as those in the rest of the country because of its scarcity of coverage in a frontier population. Other problematic areas are the rural counties and states in the interior and western frontier, DDT land.

Replace the existing Medicaid expansion in 2020 with capped state payments based on the number of Medicaid enrollees. The current plan provides for eligibility expansion for people who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The elimination of federal funds would damage the abilities of states to cope with populations in health crises, such as coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia; deal with natural catastrophes and outbreaks such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina; and combat human-caused disasters such as the HIV outbreak in southern Indiana after Republicans, including then Gov. Mike Pence refused a clean needle exchange. The GOP plan would also jeopardize coverage for 11 million people who have gained it under the ACA.

Democratic governors and the GOP governors who accepted the expansion are opposed to this measure. The Republican governors who didn’t take the expansion are afraid they’ll get less under the plan than the states that did—and they may be right. At any rate, the plan will cost states billions of dollars that they don’t have.

Provide $100 billion in “state innovation grants” for extremely expensive enrollees. The intent is to cover some of the “pre-existing condition” population without the protections as in the Affordable Care Act.

Leave decisions about mandatory or essential benefits to the states. They could eliminate insurance for such health needs as mental health services, annual exams, prenatal and maternity care, pediatric care, and birth control.

Cap the tax exemption for employer sponsored insurance at the 90th percentile of current premiums and tax amounts above that benefit. This sounds like a good idea until you figure that employees will just pass their costs on to their employees without giving them a wage increase.

Allow insurers to charge older customers up to five times as much as their younger counterparts, an increase from the existing three times as much in premiums.

Assess penalties for people who let their coverage lapse and then decide to enroll with a 30-percent boost in premiums for a year. People who cannot afford to keep paying premiums if they suffer sudden hardship would be punished by this part of the bill. This would also allow people to not buy health insurance and then have no money for health care no matter what happens.

Defund Planned Parenthood to make more women get pregnant.

Allow people to decide if they want health insurance.

On Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver broke down an explanation of the GOP plan into four categories: refundable tax credits, high risk pools, block grants, and health savings accounts. None of these ideas will actually work, Oliver argues, breaking them down in financial terms—they all share the same “thong problem.” His view of the GOP’s plan—and pitfalls—is well worth watching.

Missing from the Republican plan is the provision that health care insurance remain “affordable.” The plan benefits people with good health and wealth as well as penalizing areas with disasters or emerging health problems. Rural areas would suffer more because this population relies more heavily on public insurance than people in cities.

Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) doubts that the GOP can manage a full repeal and replace of Obamacare. He predicts a few fixes to the existing ACA, not a bad idea if the fixes help people:

“In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once. And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal—yeah, we’ll do replace, replace—I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it.”

Basically, “GOPcare” supports the “coastal elites” over Middle America that voted for Dictator Donald Trump. Until faced with reality, DDT claimed that his health care would be far better than the existing program. His meeting with governors and insurance CEOs provided insight into his confusion. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Actually almost everyone except the current president understood the complexity of health care.

DDT’s current solution is to allow Obamacare to “implode” and then blame the Democrats and President Obama. As DDT continues to declare the ACA a “failed disaster,” popularity for the program is steadily increasing. A poll in mid-February shows that 54 percent of people surveyed approve of the law while only 43 percent disapprove. And of those who disapprove of the ACA, one-fourth of them want the current law to be changed while only 17 percent want to completely get rid of ACA.

A common Republican claim is that “Obamacare” shackles people to government, and repeal of the health care plan will make them free. Almost 242 years ago, Patrick Henry said some version of “Give me liberty or give me death.” That is the choice that Republicans are pushing onto many people into the United States. The “freedom” of no health care will definitely give many of them death—but legislators aren’t talking about their own death. They’re the ones who already have health care and are wealthy enough that they always have. Almost 30 million people count on the ACA, and that doesn’t include the young people under 26 on their parents’ policies and the people on Medicare who have some benefits from the ACA. These are the people who will suffer from the congressional decision to give them “freedom.”

February 27, 2017

White Supremacists in Control of U.S.

DDT wants to hire another 15,000 border agents, but the country can’t even train the ones they’ve already hired. Egyptian-born, French citizen, World War II scholar, member of the National Center for Historic Research Henry Rousso was detained for ten hours at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, accused of coming to the country to work on an illegal visa, subjected to a body search, forced to give an oath, and threatened with deportation on the first flight back to Paris with no explanation. He came to the United States to speak at a Texas A&M symposium about the French collaboration with Nazi Germany to round up and deport tens of thousands of Jews from France during the Holocaust. Egypt is not one of DDT’s targeted countries, and French citizens to not need special visas to come to the United States.

mem-foxMem Fox, world-famous Australian children’s author of over 30 books, said she may never return to the United States after she was detained and insulted by border control agents in Los Angeles for almost two hours. She was en route to a conference in Minnesota. The 70-year-old woman said, “I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness.” Agents questioned the validity of her visa although she had traveled to the U.S. 116 times with no incident.

A 25-year-old British math teacher traveling with a group of children and other teachers was denied entry into the United States and removed from a plane in Iceland a week after a U.S. court had already overturned DDT’s Muslim ban. Security personnel escorted Juhel Miah, who had valid visa documentation, from the aircraft with no reason.

adam-purintonWhile trying to keep innocent people out of the United States, the federal government may not address home-grown terrorism—such as the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounding of Alok Madasani, immigrants from India who worked for the Garmin technology company. They were peacefully sitting in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe (KS) when Adam W. Purinton (left) returned after being thrown out for his ethnic slurs and insults about the two men’s immigration status and shot them.

A DDT proposal is to eliminate its focus on white supremacist terrorism by completely concentrating on what is calls “radical Islam terrorism.” The White House has denied that DDT’s policies have any relationship with the increased anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim occurrences since the election, yet the number of white supremacist groups is rapidly growing. The renaming of the federal program Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to Countering Radical Islamic Extremism ignores far-right attacks and mass shootings, such as the massacre of black churchgoers last year, which U.S. officials don’t classify as “terrorism.” This change sends a signal to white supremacy extremists that they are safe to commit violent actions and kill people.

It’s been five days since Purinton yelled “Get out of my country” and shot the two Indian men as well as Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene in the shooting. DDT has said nothing about the killing. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not even mentioned the killing in his press briefing until today when he called it “disturbing.”

This past month, Mark Charles Barnett, was arrested in Florida because he planned to bomb several Target stores. He wanted to cause the stock price for the corporation to drop so that he could have a cheaper investment. DDT made no comment about this action. Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell told an undercover officer that he wanted to attack non-whites just like Dylann Roof had killed nine blacks in a church. DDT said nothing about Barnett or McDowell.

According to Charles Kurzman, who teaches sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University, 74 percent of the law enforcement agencies they surveyed listed anti-government extremism as one of the top three terror threats in their jurisdictions, a far greater percentage than the 39 percent who listed Al Qaida and similar groups. Since 9/11, an annual average of nine U.S. Muslims per year has been involved in terror plots compared to the 337 each year by right-wing extremists. With a one in a six million chance in 2016 of a person in the U.S. being killed by a Muslim terrorist, DDT is declaring more war in the Middle East and asking for a nine percent increase in the military budget.

DDT promotes distrust and hatred within and toward the United States. During the first hours of his Muslim ban, videos of families torn apart, children in detention, elder women blocked from board planes, and more horrific visuals circled the world and spread on pro-Isis social media. These messages reinforced the Al-Qaeda prediction that the “West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.” No matter how many times people say that no immigrants from the seven nations on the Muslim ban have killed anyone in a U.S. attack, however, the white supremacists in the White House ignore the facts. The West is fighting not a religion but an ideology that DDT is helping to spread. The border agents who pick up innocent people like teachers, authors, and famous scholars are helping ISIS increase their recruitment.

In developing this hatred, DDT and the entire country is losing the support of those most able to fight a war against ISIS—Muslims. They are the ones who can root out violence and identify the few dangerous people. In the past Muslims have turned in their extremist relatives and friends to Muslims because they believe in the United States. Their knowledge of the language and culture give them a unique advantage that almost all law enforcement officials lack. Muslims, including students, also challenge the extremist narratives on social media with positive information, an action that the past Department of Homeland Security deemed essential. Many of these people supporting the fight against ISIS are now banned from entering the United States, even with the Muslim ban overturned.

Overseas, local Muslims fight terrorism efforts while putting their lives at risk. The new message for them is that the U.S. hates all Muslims equally. The countries identified in DDT’s ban show that he cannot identify between Sunnis and Shiites. In the past, the U.S. used Shiite governments as an ally to fight ISIS, and Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have large Shiite populations that are less extremist than Sunnis.

While DDT has declared war on all Muslims, he has welcomed the message of white supremacy, largely through his strongest advisors headed by Steve Bannon. Many of their threats are against Jewish institutions. The unprecedented 69 bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers during the first weeks of January have terrified children who had to be evacuated, and historic Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. The most recent desecration was this weekend in Philadelphia. In the past 45 days, there have been 190 incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions across the U.S. This is terrorism.

DDT largely ignored the threats of violence until the media pushed him into a few tepid answers in which he briefly talked about the Jewish members of his family. These weak statements, however, followed ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes in his speeches and advertisements, and the threats continue—20 of them today directed toward children’s schools and community centers throughout 13 East Coast states.

The first month following DDT’s election saw 1,094 reports of “bias-related incidents” against Jews, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people—and that number may have been underreported because people didn’t want to talk about them. Social media is a useful place to spread bigotry, but white supremacists know that they have one of their own in the nation’s highest office. After DDT refused a question from a religious Jewish reporter representing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish magazine, a tweet celebrated by the statement, “Sit down Jew boy! The goyim have had enough.” Now DDT has further given the haters a safe place by ignoring them in a federal counter-terrorism program.

Meanwhile, the killing in Kansas has not been declared either a hate crime or an act of terrorism, despite the killer claiming that he had killed “a couple of Iranians.” Last week, press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the link between the president’s rhetoric and the rise of reported hate crimes in the U.S. He said that “any loss of life is tragic” and added that “to suggest that there’s any correlation, I think, is a bit absurd.” DDT’s condemnation is saved for people he assumes are Muslim and people of color.

The nation is becoming much less safe under DDT’s policies. White supremacists have declared open season on everyone in the United States, and DDT’s policies are supporting them.

February 25, 2017

DDT: Lies, Lies, Lies

cpac-ballroomConservatives celebrated at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his minions this year—a change from last year when he wasn’t even wanted at the conference. DDT’s speech could have been the one he wanted to give last year as he quoted Hillary Clinton’s term “deplorable” and encouraged the crowd to shout “Lock her up!” Another last election message was the conspiracy against Bernie Sanders with “super-delegates.” Numbers also plagued him when he claimed that they would not read about CPAC “lines that go back six blocks.” The speech is probably for his 2020 run, but the lies are the same. Even the ballroom at CPAC was not full for DDT’s speech.

Other false claims from DDT: “Obamacare covers very few people,” and “[the wall is] way, way, way ahead of schedule.” The Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured by 20 million people, and there is no schedule for the wall that may never be built.” The rate of people in the United States who lack health insurance has hit a record low with only 8.6 percent of people, about 27.3 million, being uninsured. That’s 20.4 million fewer people than when the program started in 2010, and the number would be lower if the Supreme Court had maintained the states’ mandatory Medicaid expansion. Red states showed the greatest decline in the number of uninsured, and those without Medicaid expansion had the highest percentage of uninsured with Texas and Mississippi at the top.

Throwing red meat to his CPAC base, DDT defined his enemies: “radical Islamic terrorists”; immigrants who he described as “the gang members, the drug dealers, and the criminal aliens”; and, of course, the “dishonest media.” Also the Constitution as he whined about the “Fiii-rrrst Amendment!” After he talked about keeping “the bad ones” out, he excluded several media outlets from his Friday briefing session.

DDT’s new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, negated the use of the term “racial Islamic terrorists.” Speaking to his staff, he said that the label was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

 With so much news flooding the air waves about DDT, this one may have slipped through the cracks. One week before Michael Flynn left his position as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, he received a proposal for the way that DDT could lift sanctions against Russia. DDT’s personal Mafia-linked lawyer Michael D. Cohen, business associate plus convicted felon and government informant Felix Salter who helped DDT scout deals in Russia, and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko are pushing the plan of releasing evidence of corruption to allow Artemenko to take over the government and negotiate a long term Russian “lease” of Crimea.

The goal is to replace the current Ukrainian government with the Russia-tolerant faction allowing DDT to lift the sanctions against Russia’s military invasion and capture of Russia and give Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the $500 billion deal for Exxon Mobil. Flynn has disappeared, but the plan surely remains, most likely with a payoff for DDT. And it’s on paper. Artemenko is currently under treason investigation, and Cohen denied delivering any plan.

DDT’s assertion that his Muslim ban is to protect the country was soundly debunked by a report from his own Department of Homeland Security that concluded citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the seven countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism. People from the dangerous seven countries identified by DDT, the same ones where he doesn’t do personal profit-making business—Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya—are “rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism,” according to the report.

Although terror groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen pose a threat of attacks in the United States, the other four countries are “regionally focused.” Of the 82 people “who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of any terrorism-related federal offense,” over half were U.S.-born citizens. Eight of them convicted or died in pursuit of terrorism were from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. People are more likely to be killed by guns, trains, a railway vehicle, their own clothes melting or lighting on fire, lightning, falling furniture–the list goes on and on about the dangers of life outside terrorism. Of the 3,252,493 refugees admitted to the United States from 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 were terrorists, 0.00062 percent of the total.  Only three of them were successful in their attacks, killing a total of three people.

At the same time DHS released its report refuting DDT’s claim about Muslims and terrorism, Secretary John Kelly released a memo creating a new DDT-ordered federal office to work with victims of undocumented immigrants. He wrote that “criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” Once again, the government is “misrepresenting,” a polite word for lying. Undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes and U.S. citizens and are less likely to be criminals in some cases.

The Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program failed to reduce crime. A study of 159 cities shows no correlation between crime rates and levels of immigration, and other research showed that levels of recent immigration had a negative affect on homicide rates and no affect on property crime rates. Another study found that immigrant influx was correlated with decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

The only people who need to be afraid are those with brown skin who might be accused of being Hispanic or Muslim. For example, Muhammad Ali Jr., son of one of the greatest boxers and civil rights activists in the nation, was detained two hours on February 7 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FL) airport on his return from Jamaica. He had gone there with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who gave a speech about black history. He was asked twice about his religion and “where he got his name,” a common question for Muslims. Agents released Ali’s mother when she showed him a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but Ali had no picture of himself and his father who died last year. DDT’s Muslim ban was overturned three days prior to Ali’s detention, but agents reportedly did not respect the court’s judgment.

NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre is using the DDT system of lying. Before Election Day, he told gun lovers that they had to vote for NRA Republicans because every one of his predictions about Obama taking guns and sabotaging the Second Amendment had come true. The reverse was actually true as federal gun safety laws and those in most states were weakened. At CPAC, LaPierre ranted about how the “Anarchists, Marxists, communists, and the left of—the rest of the left-wing socialist parade” are coming for the guns.

Anti-Trump protesters “spit in the face of Gold Star families,” a revision of history when progressives defended these families and DDT excoriated them unless they were white. LaPierre said these leftists want “to tear down our system.” At the same time, White House and white supremacist Steve Bannon declared that “deconstruction [aka destruction] of the administration” is its goal. The crowning claim from LaPierre was that progressive activists get paid $1,500 a week, $78,000 a year. Watch for the letters of your newspaper because these lies are sure to appear there.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning, my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber—at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead—held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.”

gabby-giffordsThat was the response from Gabby Giffords to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who used her as an excuse for not facing his constituents. Gohmert won his last election by more than 49 points, and his district is one of the reddest in the country—but he’s afraid of “the threat of violence at town hall meetings.” And he used the 2011 shooting at former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) where she was severely injured and six people were killed. With her customary bravery, Giffords responded:

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls. [During my congressional career] listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do.”

Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said that Gohmert shouldn’t “hide behind” his wife to avoid town halls:

“If he doesn’t want to do town halls, he should just say he doesn’t want to face his constituents. He shouldn’t hide behind Gabby.”

Town hall complaints from tens of thousands of people included the repeal of health care, Scott Pruitt’s confirmation to head the EPA, and legislators refusal to investigate DDT’s links to Russia. Many crowds chanted, “Do your job!” Terrified of this response, a vast majority of GOP legislators simply avoided their constituents in any way they could.

Gohmert also repeated lies that “paid” groups were disrupting the Republican town halls. No town hall meetings this year have been violent, even if some members of Congress have called the police instead of facing a group of people. There’s no evidence of paid protesters, and progressive activists haven’t “threatened public safety.” It was the violent Tea Party members who protested Barack Obama’s election and gathered with their guns to threaten and spit on legislators who supported the ACA.

If Gohmert—and his GOP colleagues—are so terrified of vilence from guns, it’s time for them to enact gun safety laws. And it’s time for “these people” to stop lying.

 

 

February 24, 2017

DDT: Week Five – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can make his supporters believe anything—including a fondness for a country that conservatives have traditionally hated. Since 2015, approval of Vladimir Putin has increased 20 points to 32 percent among Republicans and 11 points to 23 percent among Independents. Putin’s popularity with Democrats has decreased five points to ten percent. The 32 percent is the highest since 2003 when George W. Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and liked what he saw—before he didn’t. Conservatives like Putin in spite of—or perhaps because of—the Russian hacking to influence the presidential election, Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, suppression of the press, brutality toward LGBTQ people, murders of people opposed to Putin, lack of free elections, violation of the nuclear treaty, and national control by oligarchs.

FBI Director James Comey got DDT elected, and now the White House wants Comey’s help to keep DDT in the White House by telling reporters that the connection between DDT’s campaign staff and Russia weren’t true. The communication violates a Department of Justice memo during George W. Bush’s time that the White House should advise the department on criminal and civil enforcement “only where it is important for the performance of the president’s duties and where appropriate from a law enforcement perspective.” DDT still has Attorney General Sessions in his pocket to keep the current DOJ from investigating him, but the GOP legislators are getting antsy about the situation after their crowd’s anger expressed during the “Resistance Recess.”

DDT also asked legislators to tell reporters that he has no ties to Russia, and they did it. Last week, senior lawmakers, who should be in charge of investigating the Trump-Russia connections called news organizations and challenged these stories. This is not a rumor; the lawmakers admitted that they called the reporters to dismiss the information of DDT associates’ contacts with Russia as infrequent and inconsequential. Press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House asked the legislators to do this, but he claimed that there was nothing wrong with asking them to contact reporters and tell them what DDT wanted. Two members of Congress who followed DDT’s orders are Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairmen of the Senate and House intelligence committees. Nunes has refused to investigate the Russian connection.

In the Washington Post Greg Miller and Adam Entous wrote:

“U.S. intelligence reports cite multiple contacts between members of Trump’s team and Russians with links to the Kremlin, during the campaign and afterward, according to officials who have seen them. Such reports were based on intercepted Russian communications and other sources, the officials said.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who has seen this information as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, concluded that the investigation “may very well be the most important thing I do in my public life.”

Other DDT news from the past week:

DDT Cooks the Books: DDT has figured out how he can prove his GDP growth target of 3 to 3.5 percent a year: just start with that fantasy number and then put in statistics to show that it’s right. Forget the old-fashioned way of figuring out how policies either increase or decrease the rate. DDT’s projections are at least one percentage point above the consensus reality projection. DDT also told economists to change the way that the trade deficit is calculated by omitting as exports anything that is imported and then sold to another country. For example, a car sold to a company in the United States from Mexico and then re-sold to one in Canada is considered only an import and not an export which inflates the overall trade deficit. DDT plans to use his artificial system to rail against trade deals or demand border taxes. It’s hard to understand why he bothers to create this system  because he invents his own numbers for anything, for example citing a $800 billion deficit when it’s only $500 billion. He also consistently argued that the employment rate of 4.6 percent is, in Trumpland, 42 percent because he includes everyone without a job such as retirees, college students, and many other people who don’t want jobs.

DDT Reduces Military Child Care: DDT’s promised to provide “all men and women in uniform [with] the supplies, support, equipment, training, services, medical care, and resources they need to get the job done incredibly well and perfectly.” But DDT’s hiring freeze has caused at least two Army bases to suspend childcare programs including preschool. An exemption in the hiring freeze includes “child care to the children of military personnel,” but another Army memo has caused personnel shortages by putting another layer of bureaucracy on its already burdensome hiring system.

Christie Turns DDT Down: The New Jersey governor has crawled to get crumbs from DDT, but the meatloaf may have been the last straw. On Valentine’s Day, Christie lunched at the White House and was told that he would have the meatloaf. Then DDT asked Christie if he wanted to be the Labor Secretary after Andrew Pudzer left in disgrace—hard to do when one considers DDT’s nominees. Christie said no. He’s considering a gig as host of a sports talk radio show when his term has expired.

DDT Employees Fail Background Checks: Gerrit Lansing, White House Chief Digital Officer, is only one of at least six staffers dismissed because they failed their FBI checks. Some of them were “walked out of the building by security” because they could not muster security clearance. Caroline Wiles, director of scheduling and daughter of DDT’s Florida campaign director, was one of those who left, but she said she’ll get another job in Treasury.

Conway Gets in Hot Water: DDT’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had been pulled from doing interviews after White House officials claimed that she repeatedly made statements “at odds with the administration’s official stance.”  Even DDT sycophant Joe Scarborough said she wouldn’t be on The Morning Show because she didn’t tell the truth—although he didn’t use the “T” word. Now 15 law professors have filed a professional misconduct complaint against her, calling on Conway to be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Among other concerns, the complaint cited Conway’s lie that President Obama had “banned” Iraq refugees from coming into the country for six months after the non-existent “Bowling Green Massacre” and for her hawking Ivanka Trump’s products. Another issue was her claim that the White House put forth “alternative facts.” The filing stated, “Alternative facts are not facts at all; they are lies.” The complaint stated that Conway “is currently acting in a way that brings shame upon the legal profession.” One of the filers, Abbe Smith, said she had never before filed a complaint and goes not generally believe that lawyers should face discipline under the stated rule, which includes conduct outside the practice of law, but called Conway’s conduct “so outside the norm for a member of the legal profession.”

DDT’s Conflicts of Interest, Profit Making from the Presidency Continues: No new businesses. That was DDT’s promise in January. Sons, Eric and Donald, Jr. cost the taxpayers more big bucks on their weekend in Dubai when they opened a new Trump golf course. The club still hasn’t gotten its liquor license from the United Arab Emirates which means that DDT will need to provide his standard “pay for play” deal. The government also has to provide all the club’s services including water and roads. It’s a guarantee that the sons will take part in the negotiations. DDT deals are pending in India, Indonesia, Uruguay, and Canada, and another one may be created in the Dominican Republic where Eric visited on February 2. Meanwhile, DDT’s DC hotel, another illegal venture at this time, was bankrolled by Deutsch Bank, currently under DOJ investigation. At least, taxpayers can follow the plans because we pay for Secret Service to follow Eric and Donald Jr. everywhere.

China may be breaking its own laws by giving trademarks to DDT, something that they refused to do until DDT achieved the candidacy for president. Once again DDT may have violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign states unless approved by Congress. The one trademark that DDT received for construction services, but he’s wants them for condoms, toilets, and many other items. DDT brings a new definition to presidential dignity.

In a movement toward further dictatorship, DDT is blocking reputable news outlets from Spicer’s briefings. The Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times CNN, Politico, Buzzfeed, and reporters from several foreign news outlets were not allowed in this afternoon’s closed-door briefing. Associated Press and Time boycotted in the meeting because of that decision. A reporter from Wall Street Journal attended but said that he would not go again if other outlets were excluded.

Before DDT’s inauguration, Spicer had said that he might skip televised briefings in exchange for off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. Yet in December, Spicer said that news organizations can’t be banned from the White House because “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.” At least he understands what he’s doing. Conservative, tabloid-type outlets such as Breitbart, Washington Times, and One American News Network were still allowed to attend.

The other big story today was the report from the Department of Homeland Security refutes the need for DDT’s Muslim ban. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

 

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

February 20, 2017

DDT’s First Month

Comparisons of work during the first month are always popular in the first term of any president, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes the job more interesting than in the past. During his first month as president, Barack Obama had addressed the financial crisis by passing a stimulus bill totaling almost $1 billion dollars, approved a bill to prevent pay discrimination, expanded children’s health insurance, banned torture, started the foundation for major health care and financial regulation bills, and saw his approval ratings increase by 27 percent. The current Congress is fighting among the majority party, and DDT has largely signed mostly meaningless executor orders largely “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Narcissist DDT, however, has preened himself regarding his accomplishments. At his 77-minute press conference last week, he said, “There has never been a president that has done so much in such a short period of time.” He continued to lie by claiming that his administration is a “fine-tuned machine” and “had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban.”

Gallup poll ratings of 40 percent for DDT make Bill Clinton’s 51 percent at this time in his presidency look very good. Instead of spiking during his first month, DDT’s ratings went down from 45 percent when he took office to 40 percent and is now 21 points lower than the average 61 per cent for other a half century.

DDT’s “accomplishments”:

  • His signature policy, the Muslim ban, was overturned in court.
  • His national security had to resign in disgrace.
  • His nominee for secretary of the Labor department had to withdraw his name in disgrace.
  • His vice-president had to break a tie for the 50 percent vote that his Secretary of Education for the first time in history in confirming a cabinet appointee.
  • He and his campaign staff are being investigated for involvement in Russia’s influence on the presidential election while he equates Russia and the U.S. in being “killers.”
  • He nominated activist Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice to swing that court to the far right.
  • He denied the value of a two-state solution in the Middle East, possibly denying the beleaguered Palestinians their country.
  • He has declared war on the intelligence community, the press, the judicial system, and possibly Congress.
  • He lied three-fourths of the time.
  • He made untold profits on his private business and more money by overturning the restriction on building the Dakota pipeline because he owns stock in the contractor.
  • He signed two bills, one to allow coal companies to despoil 6,000 miles of streams and the other to permit bribery by foreign governments to the oil industry for favors.
  • He signed the Mexico City Policy to deny millions of women in third-world countries reproductive health care.
  • He and his family spent $12 million in travel, the same amount that President Obama and his family spent in a year. That amount doesn’t include the maintenance of his home for his wife and son in Manhattan.
  • He alienated countries such as Mexico and Australia, formerly U.S. allies.
  • He is making India great again by rejecting the best and brightest tech talent that might emigrate to the United states, according to Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.
  • He is making China great again by conceding economic influence and abandoning U.S. moral leadership, especially after he caved and agreed with the one-China policy with nothing in return for the U.S.
  • He promised to raise costs of goods for people in the United States with a tariff, that is now being called a “border adjustment tax.” The result would make foreign-held debt far more valuable, raising the U.S. debt by hundreds of billions of dollars without any more borrowing.
  • He made White House affairs less secure by keeping an unsecured phone and holding sensitive conferences in front of the public.
  • He filled the White House press corps with people so-called reporters well known for publishing truly “fake news,” including the newest addition of Lucian Wintrich, who started his blog two months ago. Wintrich gained fame with his “Twinks4Trump,” photographs of mostly shirtless gay young men wearing DDT’s red Make America Great Again baseball caps. Headlines at his new Gateway Pundit include “OMG! More Liberal #FakeNews – Claim of Trump Anti-LGBT Bill Is Complete Crap.” Conservative blogger Erick Ericsson called Gateway Pundit a “cesspool of fake news” and said that inviting Wintrich to press briefings does “a great disservice” to the American people. It represents DDT’s new “journalism.”
  • He has a budget draft hit list of programs that includes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation (civil-court legal aid program), AmeriCorps, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, and the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. (His projected growth is also about 3.5 percent every year after the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget office project growth at 2 percent.)
  • He played a lot of golf—at least six times in his first month although he tries to hide his games because he incessantly criticized President Obama, who averaged under 40 rounds of golf a year throughout his two terms. During his campaign, DDT told audiences that he wouldn’t have any time to play golf because he would be working for the people.
  • He brought together people in the United States in gigantic protest actions.

(I’m sure I’m missing many more “accomplishments” during DDT’s first month.)

What’s missing:

  • Appointments for 515 positions out of 549 that need to be confirmed by the Senate.
  • Anything about infrastructure improvements, health care reform, jobs. or tax reform.
  • Help for people.
  • Leadership.

Another Do-Nothing Congress:  Republican legislators always promise that all they need to stop gridlock is to have a majority in Congress, but all they have done thus far is overturn a few Obama-era resolutions that benefited the people in the country and confirmed some racist billionaires for DDT’s cabinet. DDT promised action the first day, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a 200-day agenda for only health care and tax reform. That takes Congress close to the fall season of the first year to take action.

Meanwhile Ryan’s plan to put tariffs on imports has caused savvy billionaire Warren Buffet to dispose of 90 percent of his Walmart stock. The Senate is not on board, and even DDT calls it too complex. At the same time, Buffet is putting his money into Boeing that is expanding its sales of military aircraft to India—perhaps up to $12 billion in sales.

Never Mind What DDT Says: The job of DDT’s officials at this time is to tell the world that the United States won’t do what DDT says. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced in Baghdad that “we’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil” after DDT said on his first full day that the U.S. might “have another chance” to keep the oil. Nikki Haley, DDT’s ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “We absolutely support a two-state solution.” A bipartisan group of senators told Australian officials to ignore DDT’s rejection of the country. Jon Finer described the situation as “an unprecedented degree of policy incoherence on virtually every major issue the country faces.”

VP Mike Pence, who claimed he was speaking on behalf of DDT to NATO, swore that the U.S. is committed to European security and the transatlantic partnership. He also assured attendees at a news conference that both he and Trump “support a free and independent press” the day after DDT called the news media the “enemy of the American people.” As Eugene Robinson said, “They’re sweeping as fast as they can,” referring to cleaning up after elephants in a circus parade.

The uniting of people in the U.S. is reminiscent of 2010 when conservative leadership, including Dick Armey, guided the Tea Party into protesting the Affordable Care Act and gained a majority in the U.S. House. Because of these tactics, Republicans think that progressive protesters are being paid, but the marches and other protests against conservative policy is truly grassroots. Much of the organization of groups started after the posting of the Indivisible Guide, a civic engagement manual written by former congressional staffers. Within a few weeks of the guide’s posting on the internet, over a million copies had been downloaded, and over 6,000 protest groups had been formed.

posterPeople all over the nation are demanding that congressional legislators represent them instead of the top one percent. The Senate received an average of 1.5 million telephone calls each day in the week after the inauguration—the heaviest in history. The protests have so frightened legislators that they have largely stopped having town hall meetings. From 212 meetings during the same time last year, the number has dropped to 88, and one person alone is having 35 of those. In my state of Oregon, one senator alone is having seven town hall meetings this week, and my representative is having two, showing that vast majority of the 535 members of Congress are hiding from their constituents.

Protesters are planning a number of marches during the next few months. This past weekend, people commemorated Presidents’ Day with “Not My President” marches. Three marches are scheduled for April: Tax Day March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns (April 15); Science (April 22); and Climate (April 29). These are followed by the Immigrants March on May 6 and National Pride March on June 11. These are marches of the people, by the people, and for the people–not made up of paid protesters.

February 19, 2017

The Struggle to Regain Free Speech

The biggest shock I received from the news during the past few days did not come from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). It was the ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down a Florida law restricting doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights when talking to patients about guns. In a 10-1 vote, the court overturned laws preventing doctors from asking patients questions about guns in their home, putting any “non-relevant” information about gun ownership in a medical record, and “unnecessarily harassing a patient about firearm ownership during an examination.” The law still prohibits discrimination against patients who don’t answer the doctors’ questions.

The ruling sends a message that government does not have the ability to prevent unpopular speech, a vital decision because government increasingly suppresses language. Although the court covers only two states other than Florida—Alabama and Georgia—it establishes a precedent for other courts and could affect the nation if the case moves to the Supreme Court to a supportive First Amendment ruling.

Throughout history governments have tried to control doctors’ free speech. Chinese doctors were sent to rural areas during the Cultural Revolution to convince patients to use contraception, and the Soviet government ordered physicians during the building of the Siberian railroad in the 1930s to deny medical leave requests and keep the order from patients. Nazi Germany taught doctors that their higher duty was to the “health of the Volk” over their individual patients while many of them performed horrifying surgical experiments on humans. Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s plan to increase the nation’s birth rate stopped doctors’ advising patients about birth control and providing information about prevention of the transmission of AIDS and HIV infections by the use of condoms.

Legislators in 38 of the United States order doctors and women’s clinics what to tell women requesting abortions, some of this information inaccurate and misleading. These doctors must tell women about a non-existent link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer, suicide, or future infertility. In 28 states, informed consent forms and brochures in clinics must provide legislative-chosen information about alternatives to abortion, the risks associated with abortion, and fetal development stages.

Some states require non-scientific and non-medical language for doctors’ counseling, mandatory brochures, and informed consent forms such as referring to embryos as “unborn children,” insisting that life begins at conception, lying that a fetus feels pain at 20 weeks, and stating that abortion at any stage terminates the life of a separate, living being. Twenty-eight states require that women wait between 24 and 72 hours between their visits to doctors and the procedure in reflect on her decision—and an attempt to humiliate her.

Government uses religious values in their lies to prevent abortions. There is no link between abortion and breast cancer according to the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. There is no “post-abortion syndrome,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA) or the American Psychiatric Association. The APA found that “there is no credible evidence that a single elective abortion of an unwanted pregnancy in and of itself causes mental health problems for adult women,” noting most studies that claim otherwise “suffered from serious methodological problems.” There is no link between abortion and infertility. And fetuses cannot feel pain until 24 weeks at the earliest.

This article gives a list of states with their laws as of August 2016. Since then, one more state is mandating that doctors lie to patients about the non-existent link between abortion and the occurrence of breast cancer.

The new president added fuel to the abortion controversy at the last presidential debate when he declared that doctors do abortions in the “ninth month” of pregnancy. In his false bombastic rhetoric, DDT said that “you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.” This is called a Cesarean  or C-section, and it doesn’t kill the baby.

Religious–or pandering—lawmakers with the goal to prevent all abortions fail to recognize only 1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 91 percent of them happen before 13 weeks. The ones that occur late in the pregnancy almost always are required by dead or seriously deformed fetuses. With the religious fervor to keep all fetuses coming out of the uteruses at full term, the House voted last Thursday, 230-188, to overturn an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that perform abortions. Thirteen states can return to their non-support for Planned Parenthood. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would remove money from caring for the severely mentally and physically disabled children resulting from the lack of abortions.

Religion was the reason behind DDT’s removal of U.S. funding from any overseas organization that mentions abortion. The money doesn’t go toward abortions: the Mexico City Policy is simply a suppression of free speech. When George W Bush reimposed the global gag rule, he erased shipments of contraceptives to 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The elimination of these shipments cut off condoms for Lesotho Planned Parenthood, the only available place in a country where one in four women were infected with HIV. Like George W., DDT will create more unwanted pregnancies and more cases of HIV.

ddt-signs-mexico-act

The above photograph of DDT signing an act that affects millions of women shows that limiting women’s reproductive rights is largely a “guy thing.”

The worship of DDT is creating threats to democracy. In attempts to avoid protesters, over two-thirds of the congressional Republicans refuse to have town halls during the current recess. DDT’s tweet explains the lies that they are spreading:

“Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

GOP legislatures in at least ten states are introducing bills to stop dissent permitted by the First Amendment, that gives the “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”:

  • Colorado: Greatly increase penalties for environmental protesters up to felonies resulting in prison and fines up to $100,000.
  • Indiana: Publish officials could immediately dispatch “all available law enforcement” to clear a traffic blockade involving at least 10 people “by any means necessary.” People have nicknamed the bill “block traffic and you die.”
  • Iowa: Creates penalty of five years in prison for traffic disruptions.
  • Michigan: Boost anti-picketing penalties, especially for union members who try to boycott a business’s profits.
  • Minnesota: Penalties for blocking traffic.
  • Missouri: Prohibit demonstrators from wearing masks or robes. (Does that count the Ku Klux Klan?)
  • North Carolina: Imprison people who intimidate ex-officials because a group followed former Gov. Pat McCrory (king of the “potty police” law) and chanting “Shame!” His discriminatory law cost the state millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs.
  • North Dakota: Criminalize road protests, restrict wearing apparel, and allow government to sue for enforcement costs. An additional proposal would exempt drivers from liability if they injure or kill a pedestrian obstructing traffic on a public road.
  • Virginia: Imprison people engaged in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse.”
  • Washington: Classify as “economic terrorism” any permit-less protest that causes harm to the flow of commerce.

DDT has his phone back and is angrily tweeting his “war on the press.” His latest salvo is declaring the media as the “enemy of the people.” Beginning with The New York Times, CNN and NBC News, he quickly added ABC and CBS. That’s a major U.S. newspaper and all three mainstream television channels. DDT is patterning his actions on ancient Rome and later Russia’s communist revolution a century ago which was followed by massive purges ordered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

DDT rants included a quote from Thomas Jefferson about his hate for the press. The press quoted DDT but failed to show how DDT’s message was out of context.  The Founding Father also said,“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

We can only hope that the 11th Circuit Court took the first step toward reinstating free speech and free press in the United States as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Indifference about the distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism. When truth perishes so does freedom.”—Simon Shama, British historian

February 18, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 2

The news from the past week wasn’t all bad for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of it will make life more difficult and dangerous for the people in the United States.

Two-State Solution?: A future Palestinian state may have completely disappeared this week as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he doesn’t care whether there is a two-state or a one-state solution. “I like the one that both parties like,” DDT said. The statement conflicts with a half-century of work for a two-state solution although he followed—albeit very mildly—the five-decade policy of presidential opposition to Israeli settlement on Palestinian land. The usual bombastic DDT was quite mild with Netanyahu, especially when he said, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

DDT also didn’t say he supported moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is partly Palestinian, but he has appointed David M. Friedman as Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has openly said that supporters of a two-state solution are worse than Nazi collaborators. He strongly supports the Israeli seizure of privately-owned Palestinian land and has financially invested in the illegal settlement enterprise in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-owned West Bank where Palestinians live under a half-century 50-year military occupation. DDT and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, along with Kushner’s family who are on the organization’s founding board of trustees, have donated to American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a group opposed to the two-state resolution. Kushner is in charge of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel. “There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment,” said Friedman about the Muslim ban when he claims that immigrants applying for entry to the U.S. don’t have “the rights of free speech and privacy.”

DDT’s First Big Bill—Supporting Oil Industry: One in a series of regulatory rollback bills, a regulation requiring oil and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments is the first to fall under the hatchet of DDT’s signature. The oil and gas industry, including Secretary of State and Exxon-wealthy Rex Tillerson, is delighted because they can hide their business in Russia. DDT claimed that the bill will bring back jobs, showing that he has no idea what he has signed. He had the same problem with the order he signed that allows financial advisors to steal from investors. In his written response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson acknowledged:

“Part of my job…will be to make sure that because American companies, NGOs and development relief efforts are expected to play by the rules and abide by [the Cardin-Lugar rule]…and other laws, that foreign companies or investors do not get an unfair advantage by cheating or keeping to a lower standard.”

Now the oil industry–and Tillerson–will use its deep swamp to easily hide bribery from foreign countries.

GOP Promotion of Coal Mining Waste in Streams: In its enthusiasm to overturn everything that President Obama did to help people, Congress is using the Congressional Review Act to destroy the nation. The right-to-bribery oil bill was the first; the second is to allow coal companies to dump their debris in waterways. DDT said he will save “many thousands American jobs” by making water unusable. The plan doesn’t increase the number of jobs: it just allows miners to continue burying streams by blowing off the tops of mountains, causing higher rates of cancer and heart disease. Thus far, Appalachia has seen 2,000 miles of streams ruined; the new law will allow another 6,000 miles of streams to suffer from the debris. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, “If you want to help miners, then come address their health and safety and their pension program.” There was no evidence that this help for miners will occur.

Guns for the Mentally Disabled: The next time that the NRA speaks about a high profile mass shooting, someone will say, “The problem isn’t guns, it’s mental illness. We just need to keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Four Democrats and an Independent joined GOP senators to reverse an Obama regulation that referred a small number of people to the FBI background check system to prevent them from buying guns. This population is composed of people applying for Social Security disability benefits because of a mental condition and incapable of managing their own finances. President Obama used George W. Bush’s National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 for the regulation. DDT will most likely sign this bill next week.

Russia Feeling Brave?:  The country’s recent deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile violates the Cold War-era arms control treaty. A Russian intelligence ship was also seen 30 miles from the Naval Submarine Base in New London (CT), 18 miles out in international waters. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has expressed concern about the ship in connection with Russia’s firing the missile and the Russian aircraft buzzing a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea. He tweeted, “Russia is acting like it has a permission slip to expand influence, test limits of reach. Questions are obvious: does it, and if so, why?”

House Oversight Committee Rejection of Flynn’s Possible Treason: Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), said that more information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s talks with the Russians is upcoming and that these conversations are not covered by executive privilege. Flynn would have to answer questions in congressional investigations if Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) changed his mind about not investigating Flynn’s possible acts of treason. The GOP House just wants to “move on.” Chaffetz is now focused on investigating Sid the Science Kid. GOP senators appear to have more interest in investigations, but they have caved on issues before. Chaffetz did ask DDT for an accounting of security measures during his talk with Abe at Mar-a-Lago. (A few months back, Chaffetz said that he could never look his daughters in the face if he support Donald Trump.)

Immigration Abuse: DDT’s Muslim ban has been blocked, but border agents are still targeting people protected by the Dreamer act, falsifying records to keep innocent people in detention, targeting people from countries other than the “Muslim ban,” lying to get travelers to give up visas and green cards, hiding people in detention, detaining U.S. citizens who work for the government, etc. The new immigration tactics will vastly increase domestic abuse after officials detained an undocumented woman at the El Paso County Courthouse when she got a protective order against her abuser. In the past, the United States had given victims of domestic violence the option of protection through the U Visa if they cooperated with law enforcement. The officials picked up the woman on a tip from her abuser after he was arrested, creating a practice giving great control to an abusive person. DDT said he had promised “to get the bad ones.”

The Return of J. Edgar Hoover Tactics: DDT may be keeping dossiers on journalists, congressional members, and other influential people who don’t agree with him. White House reporter April Ryan stated that Omarosa Manigault, White House communications official “physically intimidated” Ryan as well as making verbal threats including the assertion that DDT officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information on her and several other journalists. White supremacist and DDT’s chief strategist Steve Bannon has asked people to dig for dirt on at least four Democrats who Bannon worries about participating in the 2020 presidential election: Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Murphy wrote that the White House “scouring my background” is a “compliment.”

japan-prime-ministerOne piece of humor from this past week was the look on Japanese Prime Minister Abe after an enforced 19-second handshake with DDT. Check the video out! People have started paying more attention to DDT’s handshakes than what he says. For example, the one with his Supreme Court Justice nominee made Neil Gorsuch look particularly pained. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was prepared: he strong-armed DDT and quickly took his hand back.

trump-to-great

You could also have gotten the above DDT inauguration print from the Library of Congress for only $16.95, but it’s been pulled—maybe because of the typo? The Internet, however, never forgets!

February 17, 2017

DDT: Week Four – Part 1

The judges overturning Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) Muslim ban was his most obvious disaster last week. This week it was, to swipe the words from Judith Viorst, DDT’s “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” press conference. But I’ll avoid talking about that for this post because his entire purpose was to “detract, deflect, and deflect” attention from the Russian scandal that led to the resignation of DDT’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. Not only did the Russians help DDT win the presidency, but Michael Flynn talked to them about President Obama’s sanctions immediately after they were placed in late December before DDT was inaugurated and then lied about it—at least to the public.

DDT claims that no laws were broken, not even the Logan Act banning U.S. citizens from trying to influence foreign policy, but Flynn resigned after 24 days in office because DDT asked him to step down, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer. DDT also said his only problem was that people learned about the discussion regarding sanctions. Despite the possibility that Flynn was giving secrets to Russia, he sat in on national security briefings and deliberations until a few hours before his resignation.

DDT knew about the problem before he was inaugurated because Acting Attorney General Sally Yates told DDT about Flynn’s lies weeks before he was inaugurated, yet last week, DDT fired Yates because she would not defend his unconstitutional actions in the Muslim ban. White supremacist Steve Bannon is the winner in Flynn’s resignation because of his increase in power. Watch for the disintegration of Reince Priebus, most likely Bannon’s next target.

Other disasters during DDT’s past week:

security-key

Lack of Security: A photo from the Oval Office shows a key left in a packet with intelligence documents while DDT was hosting a number of people. The smart phone DDT uses for tweets is also unsecured, with the Internet connection making it vulnerable. It’s the same phone he used to tweet about his daughter Ivanka during his intelligence briefing. Some White House staffers are still using personal email addresses, and others have private email accounts with the RNC.  The biggest GOP hypocrisy—for the moment—is that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is demanding a grand jury or charge against Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state. The so-called chair of the House Oversight Committee has also refused to address any of DDT’s conflicts of interest or his involvement with Russia although he’s investigating Sid the Science Kid.

At Mar-a-Lago DDT was surrounded by waitpeople and other diners at the terrace dining room table while he took a call about North Korea launching an intermediate-range ballistic missile and then moved on to a strategy session.  Then he proceeded to have a sensitive intelligence meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo while club members with no security clearance snapped photos and put them on social media. Aides used phone camera lights to illuminate the national-security documents that DDT and Abe were reading which allows others to see the objects. The morning after that event, DDT tweeted a complaint about all the “leaks.” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded:

“I would suggest that the president get a briefing on the handling of classified information.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), leader of legislators with heads in the sand, tweeted last summer, “Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ with classified information should be denied further access to such info.”  That belief is gone; he can’t cross DDT because he needs the president to sign his lovely bills.

White House Leaks to Russia: Earlier the U.S. intelligence community expressed concern that DDT would “tell all” to Russia. Now, according to the Pentagon, Russia has “ears” in the administration’s situation room. A senior Pentagon intelligence official said, “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point.” U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned about DDT’s leaks that they have withheld sensitive intelligence from the president.

Miller’s Declaration of DDT as Supreme Leader: Last Sunday, white supremacist White House aide Stephen Miller said on Face the Nation “that the powers of the president to protect our country will not be questioned.” On ABC he said, “The judiciary is not supreme.” To Fox’s Chris Wallace, Miller said, “The president’s powers here are beyond question.” He also declared that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was “always” 100 percent correct and repeated the lie that thousands of people were bused from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote.

DDT praised Miller for his performance, but even DDT-supporter Joe Scarborough thought Miller was out of line. On Morning Joe, Scarborough said:

“Oh my God. It’s so much worse than I ever thought…. It’s called ‘judicial review.’ Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote about it in the Federalist Papers; it was enshrined in Madison’s Constitution.”

DDT’s Counselor Violation of Law: The director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Schaub, called on disciplinary action against White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, for her television hawking of Ivanka Trump’s product line.

Border Checks: No one knows if ICE has stopped detaining people from the seven magic countries, but border agents are still threatening people if they won’t give up the passwords for their cell phones. Natural-born U.S. citizen Sidd Bikkannavar has never visited any of the targeted countries, but he was forced to give up his PIN number and cell phone after he returned from Chile where he drove a solar-powered car in a race. Despite his being a member of the Customs and Border Protection Global Entry program that waves people through after scanning their passports and fingerprints, the NASA scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for over a decade was threatened with detention and seizure—even after he told border agents that the phone belonged to NASA and contained sensitive information. It is not known whether the border agents copied the information. The law: agents can detain people, but they cannot legally force them to unlock their phones. A U.S. judge has also ruled that people cannot be forced to use their fingerprints to open electronic devices.

Immigrants with green cards have also been threatened with deportation if they don’t sign a form that was actually a I-407 form that erases their lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Border agents falsely claimed that not signing these forms would bar them from entering the U.S. for five years; in reality it does just the reverse. Although the goal was to deport criminals and rapists, ICE is still detaining an immigrant vetted and protected under President Obama’s DACA program for over a week although DDT did not overturn that order.

Violation of Law Preserving White House Records: Members of the DDT administration are using an app called Confide that encrypts messages and destroys them after they are read. Using Confide violates the Presidential Records Act passed by Congress, mandating that all official business correspondence be carried out on White House email so that it can be preserved. A year ago, the GOP and DDT screamed about the “missing 30,000” Hillary Clinton emails after the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails on a private email server owned by the RNC while they used false claims to plan wars and fired U.S. attorneys for no clear reason. A major criticism of Clinton was that she “destroyed” emails.

The Great Negotiator: While president-elect, DDT raised hackles by congratulating Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen for his win, directly conflicting with the position of “One-China” policy:

“I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One-China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things.”

Last week, DDT told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he will honor the so-called “One China” policy—at the request of President Xi. No negotiation, nothing from China, just acceptance of China’s “request.” DDT owns business ventures in China.  He was negotiating with one in Taiwan, but it may have fallen through.

Labor Department Nominee Resignation: On the home side, Andrew Puzder, well-known for his abuse of his own workers and employing an undocumented immigrant as housekeeper, withdrew his name after the surfacing of a video showing his ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, describing her husband’s physical and emotional abuse. Although Fierstein later denied the abuse, the description of the abuse on the video may have been too close to the domestic violence that white supremacist Steve Bannon, the man running the White House, perpetrated on his wife. Wife abuse is something that the White House men want to sweep under the carpet. Puzder was the first nominee to withdraw.

DDT’s Refried News: The new Intel factory in Arizona, scheduled to employ 3,000 workers, was first announced by President Obama in 2011. As for the creation of jobs, Intel is still down 9,000 jobs in Oregon during the past year, making DDT a net loss of 8,000 jobs with Intel. DDT takes credit for jobs already considered, including the January job increase while he wasn’t president, and ignoring other job losses.

National Security Advisor Non-replacement: Retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward told a friend that chaos and dysfunction in the White House meant that DDT’s offer to make him national security adviser amounted to “a sh*t sandwich.” It’s another example of the new abnormal as a senior military officer rejects the commander-in-chief’s request and gives cover to other patriots who take the same path. Death by a thousand cuts.

trump-cover-finalDDT has always bragged about the number of times that he has been on the cover of Time. Once again, he has received this placement, but he may not be bragging about it this time. Brooklyn-based Tim O’Brien said that his intent was to show the chaos surrounding the White House. Time explained the cover: “In the first month of his presidency, the New York billionaire has witnessed the lesson of Samson: toppling the temple can be painful if you try it from the inside.” Nothing to See Here.

[Update: This post has been changed to reflect a ruling on February 23, 2017 that prevents law enforcement officials from demanding people open their electronic devices using their fingerprints without having a warrant for those specific people.]

“Indifference about the distinction between truth and lies is the precondition of fascism. When truth perishes so does freedom.”—Simon Shama, British historian

February 16, 2017

Trump Surrounds Himself with White Supremacists

It’s the 21st century, and white supremacists are controlling the White House. After World War II, the nation was “great” because the United States had defeated Nazism during World War II. Less than a century ago, neo-Nazis are a key component in leading the country.

steve-bannonSteve Bannon, de facto president, has received a great deal of press, including posts in this blog. Readers of Breitbart.com learned about the high “black crime” and the “Muslim hordes” beating down the gates of “Western civilization.” Readers also learned that women who use contraceptives are ugly, but that’s another story.

stephen-millerSenior advisor Stephen Miller made a huge name for himself on last Sunday’s talk shows by explaining that the supreme power of and last word in U.S. government is DDT—a position of czar. College roommate of Richard Spencer, a major white supremacist leader, Miller fiercely advocates for “ethno-nationalism,” a way of claiming the superiority of whites and the belief that U.S. culture needs to force out anyone not believing in the nation’s “Judeo-Christian values.” Miller communicated this on the talk shows in his falsehood that “millions” of “illegal aliens” voted against DDT. [Above photo by Jabin Botsford]

Miller was behind DDT’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, probably writing DDT’s speech that “complained darkly that Muslim communities within the United States were sheltering terrorists.” He wrote other strident speeches, including DDT’s declaration that “nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” In Miller’s view, immigration is one of the greatest “existential issues” in the nation, according to a former Miller colleague. Mostly behind the scenes until last Sunday, Miller is equally instrumental as Steve Bannon to DDT’s agenda of exclusion and white hegemony.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09:  U.S. President Donald Trump (C) put his hand on the shoulder of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) after introducing him before Sessions's swearing in ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House February 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump also signed three executive orders immediately after the swearing in ceremony. Also pictured is U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L).  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Well-known racist, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions the Third has just been anointed Attorney General after Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his minions blocked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) from reading a Coretta Scott King letter about Sessions’ racist behavior. As DDT’s lap dog, he will protect all the president’s illegal actions. Sessions is now the leading law enforcement official of the entire nation, charged with protecting civil rights for racial minorities and other vulnerable populations. We can look forward to Sessions’ protecting the Ku Klux Klan and other white populations.

gorkaSebastian Gorka, DDT’s deputy assistant and former “national security” editor for Breitbart.com, is rabidly Islamophobic and a promoter—perhaps creator—of the term “fake news” for anyone who criticizes DDT. He also strongly supported the omission of any reference to Jews in the Holocaust remembrance statement, possibly because he’s also anti-Semitic.

medalA medal he sports in photographs, the Order of Vitéz, belongs to a Hungarian group identified in the State Department as collaborator with the Nazis during World War II. [visual] The medal of the “vitézi rend,” established by virulently anti-Semitic Miklós Horthy in 1920, was used to “knight” military members and could be inherited. The medal could be inherited, in Gorka’s case most likely from his grandfather. As a Nazi Germany ally, Hungary passed anti-Semitic legislation in 1938 and sent 100,000 Jewish men to forced labor in 1941.

In 1944, Hungary first put 440,000 Jews into ghettos and then deported 425,000 of them to Auschwitz-Birkenau where three-fourths of them were gassed on arrival. The others died from disease, starvation, and other brutal treatment. By the end of the Holocaust, 75 percent of Hungarian Jews were dead. The “knightly order” was banned after the war, but right-wing émigrés kept the organization alive. Anti-Semites again brag about predecessors being a “vitéz.”

michael-antonDDT has added another white supremacist to his team on the National Security Council. Michael Anton, aka Publius Decius Mus, wrote “The Flight 93 Election” for racist Trump supporters, comparing Trump’s campaign to the hijacked plane on 9/11 that passengers took back by force. As a communications aide for the National Security Council in 2001, he participated in preparing the case for invading Iraq that included the myth that Saddam Hussein wanted uranium from Africa. Like DDT, Anton has later disavowed that he supported the Iraq War. [Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster]

Anton’s essay “Toward a Sensible, Coherent Trumpism” defended pre-world War II anti-Semitism:

“Diversity” is not ‘our strength’; it’s a source of weakness, tension and disunion. America is not a ‘nation of immigrants’; we are originally a nation of settlers, who later chose to admit immigrants, and later still not to, and who may justly open or close our doors solely at our own discretion, without deference to forced pieties.”

Even neoconservative Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, is critical, comparing Anton to the Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. Kristol wrote:

“The Bannon-Anton wing of the Trump White House has a penchant for semi-conspiratorial analyses and semi-kooky prescriptions. And for them, being responsible isn’t a virtue. Which is worrisome.”

As Heather Digby Parton wrote for Salon, DDT found his supporters among those who “see the Obama years as a conscious destruction of civil society through politically correct racial McCarthyism, confiscatory taxes, overbearing regulation, religious oppression, rampant crime and disarmament of the populace” that they learned “on Fox News, heard about from Rush Limbaugh and read about on Breitbart News for nearly a decade.”

DDT’s minions reported what was being pushed on these sources of lies, that Common Core is a disaster, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “traitorous,”  DDT looks down from his plan and sees the nation as a “war zone” with high crime where all blacks live in violent, squalid ghettos. DDT pictures the U.S. on the edge of social and economic collapse. And these falsehoods are pushed by the white supremacists who DDT has selected to surround him.

“White nationalism” means hostility to Muslims, racial stereotypes of Hispanics, and contempt for blacks. Bannon recently wrote, “In America and Europe, working people are reasserting their right to control their own destinies.” “Working” is dogwhistle for “white” in the same way that Bannon meant Jews and other minorities when he denigrated “cosmopolitan elites.”

Neither Miller nor Bannon supported Andrew Puzder, accusing him of not being strong enough on anti-immigration. After wife-abusing Steve Bannon got rid of wife-abusing Puzder, who withdrew his nomination for Labor Department secretary, conservative Alex Acosta has appeared as a nominee for that position. Acosta’s resume includes clerking for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, confirmation to the National Labor Board, and top federal prosecutor in Miami.

acostaIt was his position on the DOJ Civil Rights Division during George W. Bush’s first term that led to his problems. Acosta’s oversaw the official with hiring authority who allowed employment of only conservative lawyers opposed to civil rights, including police abuse and voting rights violations. A report found that “Acosta took no action to alert those in his chain of command.” As a DOJ official, Acosta participated in Bush’s efforts to win Ohio by telling a judge to side with GOP attorneys when Democrats tried to reinstate the purged names of 23,000 voters. Acosta’s action caused him to lose out in his application to be the law school head at the University of Florida. A question is how Bannon and Miller will cope with Acosta’s pro-Muslim testimony in a congressional hearing.

The last two years have seen a rise in anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States with an almost three-fold increase just last year from 34 to 101. “As the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump,” the overall number of domestic hate groups is now 917 in a “resurgence of white nationalism.” The report added that the new groups “were almost entirely focused on Trump and seemed to live off his candidacy.” The FBI reported a 67-percent surge of hate crimes against Muslims in 2015.

Today DDT again called himself  “the least racist [person you have seen in your entire life].” These are the people he chooses to “make America great again.”

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