Nel's New Day

April 17, 2017

Pence, A Scary Dude

The far-right and even a few liberal pundits had a meltdown a few weeks ago about ridicule and outrage directed toward VP Mike Pence. The subject was the “Billy Graham Rule” of 1948 that banned men from certain social and business situations. A man cannot have dinner alone with another woman: he must take his wife with him. In addition, a man cannot be without his wife if he is with other people where alcohol is served. I don’t know if a man can have coffee alone with a woman; I haven’t read the complete code.

In the 21st century, the United States vice president has a behavioral code that diminishes women to sluts who will all attack a man if they are alone with him at a dinner. And he’s not alone in this belief: females are frequently made responsible for all male transgressions toward them—infidelity, sexual assault, etc. Beyond demeaning women, the “rule” removes women from all professional interactions in networking, mentoring, and one-to-one time. An anonymous 2015 National Journal survey of female staffers in Congress showed that exclusion from one-on-one time with their male bosses was a “huge impediment to moving up.”

For centuries, women have been “protected” from opportunities in education and the job market. The discrimination starts early with school dress codes only for girls. For example, a dress code in a North Carolina public charter school requires girls to wear skirts and bans their wearing pants. The school’s founder, Baker Mitchell, explained that the mandate is “to preserve chivalry and respect among young women and men” and that a woman is “a fragile vessel that men are supposed to take care of and honor.” A school board supported the requirement as preparation for workplaces with gendered clothing, beginning with an example of the restaurant Hooters.

All school dress codes for girls follow Pence’s example—that they are a “distraction” to males: it’s the female responsibility to control men’s “baser urges.” Enforcement is then used to shame and victim-blame girls. Another solution in schools for “protection” is single-sex classrooms, following the Pence Plan. School officials reason that teenage boys are “distracted” from school work by the presence of girls. The program is not intended to teach young people to work together as equals because in a Pence World, there is no need.

A serious disadvantage of the Pence Plan for more secular people is that, as a far-right evangelical Christian, he thinks that everyone should behave in the way that he does. “Religious freedom” allows anyone to deny everyone else anything if the “religious” person disagrees with the beliefs or actions of the other person. If a Muslim, such as Keith Ellison, were to refuse to have dinner alone with a woman not his wife, evangelicals would be grabbing their petitions to prevent Sharia Law. The former CEO of the blog RedState agreed with the Pence Plan saying that his eating alone with woman not his spouse is acceptable only for “planning your spouse’s surprise party or funeral and that is it.” He is a strong supporter of the party that elected the man who rejoiced in his right to grab “pussy” whenever he wished.

Melania Trump, almost invisible in her role as First Lady, said in a speech at the state department’s International Women of Courage Awards:

“We must continue to fight injustice in all its forms, in whatever scale or shape it takes in our lives.”

Yet that same week during Women’s History Month, Press Secretary Sean Spicer ordered reporter April Ryan not to shake her head at him, and Fox host (maybe) Bill O’Reilly, known for his sexual assaults, ridiculed Rep. Maxine Walters’ (D-CA) hair. DDT asked a group of women if they had ever heard of Susan B. Anthony. In Iowa, a legislator wants a pregnant woman to carry her dead fetus to term because it “saves babies’ lives.”

The day after he addressed a “Women’s Empowerment Panel” at the White House, VP Mike Pence cast the 51st deciding vote to stop mandates for states to deliver family planning services to people with low income through Planned Parenthood—about four million patients across the nation. Spicer said that DDT “made women’s empowerment a priority,” but Pence took away women’s empowerment to get contraceptives, well-woman exams, and cancer screenings. Pence, like DDT, has meetings with no or few women present. Far-right males love this position because of their anger about losing their rightful superiority to women and minorities. Their ticket won with the biggest gender gap in a presidential election while men wore “Trump That Bitch” T-shirts. Pence has joined DDT in removing the ability of women to decide their futures—even when or if to have children. The game plan is to win the next election with male-domination.

Those who want to impeach DDT need to think about the fact that DDT is the only person blocking the United States from male Christian domination by the Family or the Fellowship, an evangelical cult with an office on Capitol Hill.  In his book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, Jeff Sharlett writes:

“The enemy, to them, is secularism. They want a God-led government. That’s the only legitimate government. So when they speak of business, they’re speaking not of something separate from God, but they’re speaking of what, in Mike Pence’s circles, would be called biblical capitalism, the idea that this economic system is God-ordained.”

An example of Pence’s determination to overcome government officials is his hiring a private law firm when Indiana’s attorney general refused to join a lawsuit to overturn President Obama’s executive order about immigrants, charging taxpayers for the cost, and then hiding information about it. When a citizen filed a public records request for the cost and other communications, Pence argued that the courts had no control over what he chose to reveal. An appeals court rejected Pence’s argument but agreed with Pence that the information was privileged attorney-client communication. The basis of the lawsuit, originated by Texas senior official Daniel Hodge, is its attempt to control executive orders—which should be embarrassing for a man who works for a president who constantly signs executive orders. Before DDT, Pence agreed that “the unchecked expansion of executive authority … threatens the constitutional balance of power.” That argument has disappeared with a Republican president. Another Pence problem is the scrutiny regarding his use of a private email account to conduct state business while he was Indiana’s governor. Pence frequently criticized Hillary Clinton for her private email server.

Pence’s issues go far deeper than the problems listed above. Following is my letter published in the Eugene Register Guard:

People who believe that the “scientific method … is in no danger from Vice President Mike Pence’s … religion” should consider his history. As governor of Indiana, he signed a bill into law forcing women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term. Not only anti-abortion in all cases, he also cosponsored legislation to ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization. Believing that LGBT people can be made heterosexual, he supported electroshock therapy for LGBT children and fought marriage equality. His opposition to HIV/AIDS programs started a full-blown epidemic in his own state.

In his refusal to believe science, he said “global warming is a myth” and thinks that smoking isn’t harmful to health because only one-third of smokers die from a smoking-related illness. According to Pence, even the smallest quantity of cannabis possession should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Pence refused to comply with federal rules to reduce prison rape, tried to ban state agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into his state, and defended the Iraq War, calling it a “victory.”

Mike Pence is anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-elders, anti-poor, anti-environment, anti-nonChristian, anti-media, anti-science, and pro-war. He is more dangerous than the current president because he is a religious zealot, determined to force everyone in the nation to follow his far-right non-scientific evangelical Christian view of the world. None of his beliefs have any connection with “the scientific method.”

More information about Pence is here and here.

Mike Pence is now playing president in Asia, claiming that “the era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea and that the bombing of Syria and Afghanistan shows our “strength and resolve.” No matter how tough Pence tries to look, he’ll have trouble out-bullying Kim Jong-Un. The result may be another war in Korea—if we don’t expire from nuclear weapons. But then Pence loves a good holy war. At least the military–not Pence or DDT–is making all decisions regarding strikes, bombings, and other warlike activities. Even with all the civilians who they have killed, the Pentagon may have more sense than the two men elected vice president and president.

April 16, 2017

Different Kinds of Facts?

 

If the major goal of a newspaper is to create controversy, the Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) seems to have succeeded with Anna Katharine Mansfield’s “Puzzling over Trump’s Truth,” reprinted from the Washington Post. It is the umpteenth attempt to explain to those who don’t support Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) why he’s actually telling the truth—emotional truth, according to Mansfield–and received several “questioning” letters to the editor in response.

Mansfield’s premise disagrees with the accusation that DDT is considered a liar by “much of our logic-based, Enlightment-indoctrinated society” because these people use evidence to determine truth. The professor of winemaking who got her certificate in Christian theology education from Sewanee-University of the South, a place that evidently has sent certificates online, talks about “truths” other than factual ones, which she calls “nonfactual truths.” She explains it as “an ability to understand that stories are true, even when the primary elements of the story are not historical fact.” Evidently that’s where taking DDT “seriously, not literally” emerges.

One of her examples of an “emotional truth” is the belief that DDT, not Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote last November. She continues with another “truth” that the mainstream media isn’t trustworthy because it doesn’t represent the conservative point of view. Going back to President Obama, she tries to explain that the belief that is a Muslim or communist explains how it’s believable that he could interfere with DDT even if there is no proof. Mansfield wrote:

“Tom Forman, chief executive of reality TV shows like ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ said in a recent NPR interview that Trump is a master at ‘being directionally correct.’ Trump knows, Forman said, how to amplify what viewers already know to be true, what they ‘know in their bones.’ That’s emotional truth, and factual truth can’t touch it.”

Mansfield claims that sometimes DDT should tell the truth when “logic is called for” but not in “minor issues” because our society needs “emotion-based truth.” It is highly unfortunate that the leader of the (hopefully) most powerful nation in the world can operate without evidence in any part of his commanding.

Personally, I’m terrified that the country is being led by a philosophy that evidence isn’t important because the “emotional truth” of these people carries the same weight as proof-based information and personal feelings based on nothing are equal to education.

A letter from John Blondigen perhaps better states my concern:

So, in the interests of balance, here are emotional truths that I hold dear:

  • I don’t believe the economic health of the fossil fuel industry is more important than the health of the world’s climate.

  • I don’t believe that in a country this wealthy, people should lack medical care because of an inability to pay. The purity of some congressman’s free market ideology is less important than anyone’s health.

  • I refuse to go back to a time when only heterosexual white men were first-class citizens. I remember those times, and they weren’t great.

  • I won’t lead the cheers for the use of deadly force to prove anyone’s toughness.

  • And I absolutely refuse to renounce fact for the sake of indulging anyone’s emotional truth.

Other comments to the article from the Washington Post:

This is an excuse for wishful thinking and rampant confirmation bias. There are dangers to such sloppy sentimental thinking.

“Emotional truth” as opposed to “factual truth” has, since the Enlightenment, been simply called ignorance.

Donald Trump’s lies don’t qualify as myth. They are, quite simply, lies. If an individual finds “emotional truth” in the statement that “white is black and black is white,” then I am probably more interested in getting him/her a scrip for Thorazine than granting him/her the succor that comes with validating a delusion.

If more citizens of our country sought both spiritual guidance and scientific knowledge, we would not be living with such a narrowly educated and cold-hearted leader in the White House.

[The article] boils down to, if it “feels right” I should believe it, regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary, and my opinion should be as valid as any other. If that is true, then Dr. Mansfield, I assume, believes we should give deference to flat Earthers, anti-vaxxers, moon landing conspiracy proponents, and any other believers of things she may be less sanguine about.

The error here is in the false equivalency. Emotional truth is individual. Logical truth is universal. To give equal credence to both would destroy society. My emotional truth is not the same as yours , thus there would be no structure. So, although I will defend to the death, the right of a Jesus person to his own personal truth, for the sake of our country, our society, and our planet, logical proof must prevail.

If tRump supporters hold everyone else in the world to certain moral standards of behavior, yet throw those standards away for their president, then we have no basis for communication. They are willing to accept ANY un-Christian act from him, and still consider him God’s chosen candidate. They ignore all of the lessons of the bible (which is SUPPOSED to be the basis of their faith).

Followers of DDT’s “emotional truth” are losing faith in their leader, shown in Tumblr’s “Trumpgrets” and Facebook’s “IregretvotingforTrump.” The Twitter feed “Trump Regrets” also retweeted those sorry DDT voters. Disappointments: not locking up Hillary Clinton, putting Jared Kushner in the White House, dismissing information about Russia, in general not following his (hot air) promises. They’re also amazed that the GOP health plan raises their premiums and DDT is deporting their family members instead of those “bad hombres.” Their “emotional truth” has now clashed with DDT’s beliefs—military dominance, intimidation, and accruing wealth. The question for their “emotional truth” is whether the economy implodes, resulting in another shift of “emotional truth.”

Some evangelical Christians may not accept DDT’s “emotional truth.” Ten percent left their church by mid-November, and 15 percent of all church-going people left their church because they think that DDT politics has become too divisive. The two groups were DDT supporters with pastors who didn’t and those who disagreed with DDT-supporting pastors. A review of data indicates that progressive and moderate evangelicals left their church after its takeover by the right-wing.

Now I’m just waiting for all those articles that explain to DDT supporters the “emotional truth” of the DDT opposition.

April 15, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve – Successes, Failures

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 9:11 PM
Tags: , , , ,

DDT: Week Twelve Successes, Failures

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) made a few inroads last week in his goal of destroying life for people in the United States:

Elimination of Planned Parenthood: DDT privately signed the congressional revocation of a President Obama order. States may now deny Title X family planning funds to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers although no federal money can be used for abortions. The congressional vote in favor of this overturn was so narrow that VP was called in to break a tie in the Senate.

Follow the Money: DDT is making money off bombing Syria and ruining the health of people, especially children. Each of the 59 missiles fired at Syria to make DDT look better costs over $1 million to replace, and DDT has stock in Raytheon, the company that makes the missiles. Last week, Secretary of EPA Scott Pruitt allowed the continued use of the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos, described in here. It’s popular on golf courses, but there is no proof that DDT ordered Pruitt to continue its use of chlorpyrifos to please his golf course management.

DDT Staffers: No longer loyal to him, DDT’s staffers become irrelevant. DDT no longer knew who Carter Page and Paul Manafort are after their investigations for Russian involvement. On the same day that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort left the campaign, he received $13 million in loans from two DDT companies, one led by a Ukranian-born billionaire and the other by a DDT economic adviser. About Steve Bannon, his former top staffer, DDT said, “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late.” About the growing friction among White House staffers, DDT said, “Steve is a good guy, but I told them to straighten it out or I will.” DDT also lied when he said he didn’t know Bannon until he joined the presidential campaign; they’ve known each other for six years.

Department of Homeland Security Failure: The government demanded that Twitter release the identity of an anonymous user, Twitter sued the DHS, and DHS dropped its demand. DHS wanted to know who was tweeting inside ICE information through @alt_uscis, an account created by current and former Citizenship and Immigration Services employees. Twitter lawyers cited the right to Free Speech, claiming that “identifying the user “would chill the expression of particularly valuable political speech.’” A Freedom of Information Act request has been filed for records about who ordered the DHS demand.

Easter Egg Roll: The lack of organization at the White House even affected the traditional Easter celebration, now scheduled for April 17, the day after Easter: they forgot to order the eggs until a company reminded them. Of the 40,000 ordered (about half those ordered for 2016), the White House will sell 22,000. Tickets weren’t sent out to the usual school children, members of Congress, and the military. And they forgot about entertainment. At the last minute, PBS Kids and the Children’s Television Workshop, programs that DDT’s budget defunds, were asked to send children’s characters. Last year’s audience was 37,000, but only 20,000 are expected this year. Prepare yourself for photos of this year’s attendance complete with competitive arguments about this president had the largest number coming to the event.

After attending the past two dozen Easter Egg Rolls at the White House, Maryland educator Natalie Rebetsky bought 1,000 wood eggs (above) with the message “Protect Our Children’s Future 2017″ and sold them for $15 on her GoFundMe page. All profits went to PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts.

DDT has also canceled the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast. President Obama began the tradition in 2010 by inviting Christian leaders for a service in the East Room to participate in singing, prayers, and a sermon. The president then talked about Easter’s significance to him. The White House did hold a Passover seder last Monday night, but DDT wasn’t there. His Jewish daughter, Ivanka, and her Jewish husband also skipped the event that President Obama started in 2009. The former president hosted the seder every year, and, in 2012, added a video message to Jews throughout the world wishing them Chag Sameach (Happy Festival).

Remarkable story of the week: DDT bombed Syria as a favor to his daughter, Ivanka, according to her brother Eric.

No one is sure why DDT takes the actions he does, but they are frightening. At this time, he’s on the verge of causing World War III with his threats toward North Korea. As two bullies—DDT and Kim Jong Un—play a game of who’s strongest, Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, is urging both of them to back off from a catastrophe:

“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not to let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage. If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner. It is not the one who espouses harsher rhetoric or raises a bigger fist that will win.”

Saturday, North Korea celebrated the Day of the Sun on the 105th anniversary of the country’s founder’s birth, by displaying new long-range missiles that could someday threaten continental America while a U.S. aircraft carrier group headed to the region. This morning North Korea defied DDT’s threats of “military options” by firing an unidentified ballistic missile that exploded almost immediately after launch. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that DDT was aware of the test but has no comment, leaving DDT uncharacteristically quiet.

Seoul and Tokyo are at the most at risk if North Korea retaliates to U.S. preemptive actions if North Korea uses a missile with sarin nerve gas. Meanwhile, Russia is moving S400 anti-aircraft missiles to Vladivostok, just eight miles from North Korea, in a massive military mobilization.

After dodging the draft, DDT wants to be a respected part of the military—one reason that he chose many current and past military members for his Cabinet and other senior officials. Having failed at his first attempt to lead  the botched raid in Yemen, he abandoned the responsibilities of a commander-in-chief:

“What I do is I authorize my military. We have given them total authorization and that’s what they’re doing and, frankly, that’s why they’ve been so successful lately.”

As the U.S. approaches a military junta, DDT’s military has doubled the deployment of forces in Syria in the past month and may send more. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers were sent to Mosul with more in Kuwait, and “military advisers” move closer to the front lines. To avoid asking Congress for permission to wage war, as required by the Constitution, he expanded the areas for conducting military operations without constraints or oversights. Almost three months ago, he gave Mattis permission to declare large areas of Yemen active areas of hostilities, removing the need from the military for any permission for strikes. The result is a much higher level of “acceptable collateral damage” (dead civilians). DDT’s military has executed 70 airstrikes in Yemen, double those in all of 2016. DDT gave the same authorization for Somalia and may also follow that up in Libya. To top off these decisions, DDT gave the Pentagon permission to conceal any information about “forces in or out of Iraq and Syria.”

As DDT inspired the press to talk about 86 Syrian people supposedly killed by a chemical attack from their president, Bashar Assad, he killed 1,472 civilians in his Syria and Iraq during just March. During March a year ago, 196 civilians were killed. DDT’s strikes included those on a school and a mosque in Syria along with a building in west Mosul with the three to five civilian fatalities each day indicating a change in the way the U.S. conducts strikes putting civilians much more at risk.

The result from the increased number of civilian casualties from these U.S. strikes is increased failure in the counterterrorism campaign. Because the U.S. is far more cavalier about who it kills, civilians in the Middle East are afraid of U.S. planes, and jhadi recruitment has a more successful technique. Cuts in the State Department have left little diplomatic efforts. DDT is left with only his bravado and military, a policy guaranteed to make the situation far worse.

Now DDT is also threatening North Korea. In talking about DDT’s threats to North Korea, Wang Yi said:

“The United States and South Korea and North Korea are engaging in tit for tat, with swords drawn and bows bent, and there have been storm clouds gathering. If they let war break out on the peninsula, they must shoulder that historical culpability and pay the corresponding price for this.”

DDT loves the military might of the United States—and wants to increase it by at least ten percent. His promise during the campaign was to “bomb the shit out of ISIS.” A war in North Korean is DDT’s way for him to dodge all the bad publicity of budgets, personal finances, loss of safety regulations, etc. He will have created his own 9/11 and Iraq War.

April 14, 2017

DDT: Week Twelve, More Failures Plus War-Mongering

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) went by himself to Mar-a-Lago this weekend—no senior staffers to monitor him and his tweets. You can keep track of his trips there—seven out of weekends thus far—and expenditures to taxpayers. He left after referring to the U.S. armed forces as “my” military and glowing about the “most beautiful” cake in his restaurant there while talking about bombing Syrians to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Hopefully, Xi didn’t get sick while he was at Mar-a-Lago because health inspectors has found undercooked meat and dangerous fish at the resort, one time before the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among two broken coolers, 13 violations, three of them high priority, were found in the kitchen were a record for a resort that charges $200,000 in initiation fees.

Distraction of the Week: DDT’s polls rose only four percent with the Syrian bombing so he dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan, the first time that the nation’s largest non-nuclear bomb was used. The nickname supposedly comes from an acronym for the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, but considering that the most destructive device outside of nuclear bombs was developed by men, built by men, and dropped by men, it might more appropriately be called “father of all bombs.” The replacement cost is $16 million; the number of ISIS fighters killed is 36. Each death costs almost one-half million dollars in replacement charges for the bomb. Asked about whether he approved the strike, DDT refused to answer.

At the same time, DDT’s bullying tweets about North Korea are causing increasing tension with a country that could easily release nuclear bombs on the United States. Han Song Ryol, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, said, “Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. We will go to war if they choose,” he added. Without DDT keepers for a long weekend at Mar-a-Lago, the U.S. could be at war with North Korea by Monday.

Steep Learning Curve: About the healthcare plan, DDT said, “Who knew it was so complicated?” After talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping for ten minutes, he said that “it’s not so easy” for Beijing to quickly take care of North Korea. DDT told Xi that he “should let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un know the U.S. doesn’t just have aircraft carriers, but also nuclear submarines.” As if the entire world doesn’t know?! Then he protested that “you cannot allow a country like that to have … nuclear weapons.” First, North Korea already has these weapons, and second, DDT said during his campaign that all countries should have nuclear weapons and just fight with them. have nuclear weapons.

Whither Syria: Last week, DDT bombed Syria after warning Russia to get out of the way and probably letting Russia warn Syria. This week, he bombed Syria again, killing 18 members of the ISIS-opposition team. He claims that “we’re not going into Syria,” but the U.S. already has at least 1,000 members of the military stationed in the country. DDT’s Syrian policy during the past two weeks could cause whiplash:

  • March 30, 2017 – Bashar Assad can stay in power; the U.S. won’t take part in another Middle Eastern conflict against a leader backed by Russia.
  • April 5-6, 2017 –  Assad must leave power because of his alleged chemical attack that killed about 80 people; DDT bombed the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
  • April 6-10, 2017: The issue is not Assad but chemical weapons use.
  • April 9, 2017: Attack Isis first and let Assad stay or go depending on the Russian position; (Tillerson) the priority is the defeat of ISIS, and overthrowing Assad would be disastrous.
  • April 9, 2017: The country should have multiple priorities beyond defeating ISIS.
  • April 10, 2017: The U.S. will respond to barrel bombs by bombing Syria.
  • April 10, 2017: No, the U.S. will not respond to barrel bombs.

Erasing the Holocaust: In an effort to justify DDT’s Syrian bombings, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called Bashar Assad worse than Adolf Hitler because the Nazi leader did not “sink to the level of using chemical weapons.” Questioned about his statement, Spicer apologized and said that the Hitler used gas in the “Holocaust centers.” Yet he maintained that Assad’s acts were worse because Hitler didn’t use “airplanes to drop chemical weapons on innocent people.” On the first day of Passover, commemorating the Jewish flight from Egypt in 1313 BCE, Spicer didn’t mention the six million Jews killed during the Nazi regime, but he personally called Jewish donor Sheldon Adelson to apologize—but no one else.

More Spicer Statements:  Earlier in the week, Spicer had to take back his statement that DDT’s bombing took out 20 percent of Syria’s entire air force by explaining it was 20 percent of one wing—about 12 planes out of several hundred. He said he didn’t want to draw attention away from DDT’s attempts to “destabilize” the Middle East. No, that’s not a typo. More of Spicer’s gaffes here. At a townhall meeting, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) said that Spicer “needs to go.”

Ally Russia: Spicer also referred to Russia as one of our allies. At a G7 meeting in Italy with six other industrialized nations, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Abandoning Ukraine would give Tillerson a lot of money from Russian oil. Asked what Tillerson meant by his question, State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond said, “Rhetorical device.”

Another Firing: The National Security Council is still suffering from shifting members. Michael Flynn was fired, Steve Bannon was demoted, and now GOP pundit K.T. McFarland got the axe. Known for bragging in a meeting about “wearing shoes from Ivanka Trump’s brand,” she early on in her brief tenure told seasoned staff members that they needed to “make America great again.” Her disappearance follows several other potential major DDT-chosen players in the administration during just a few months. Evidently she was offered a job as ambassador to Singapore.

No More Data to Shame “Sanctuary Cities”: After only three weeks of publishing a weekly report about cities that supposedly refused to cooperate with ICE, DDT has stopped this effort because of massive mistakes. Another reason may be that the reports show the incompetency of ICE as they confused different counties in statistics and blamed some areas for events in others.

Texas Voters Win: Veasy v. Abbott has been wandering the courts for years, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that the Texas voter ID law’s intent is discriminatory against minorities. If the court order is upheld on appeal, the entire law would be thrown out, and Texas would be brought back under federal supervision. The question now is whether five SCOTUS justices will agree if the high court takes the case.

Iran Deal Successful: One of DDT’s virulent criticisms during the campaign was President Obama’s agreement with Iran to control its nuclear weapons. Iran is following the agreement—probably to the disappointment of DDT who would like to see failure for all the former president’s actions.

Lawsuit of the Week: Watchdog groups plan to sue DDT because he has stopped releasing logs of visitors to the White House, including lobbyists. The problem became obvious last week when Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reviewed intelligence reports on the White House grounds before he briefed DDT about what DDT’s staff told him. In the past, exceptions to the visitor logs have been private visits to the family. The defendant is the Department of Homeland Security, overseeing the Secret Service, which is subject to freedom of information requests. Information is also being sought from DDT properties where he holds meetings such as Mar-a-Lago.

Climate Lawsuits against DDT: Seventeen states are suing the federal administration regarding DDT’s orders to promote climate change, including the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that sets standards for power plants. The group also notified Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, that they will sue to if the government stalls on standards requiring specific electrical items meet low-carbon emission goals. In addition, it has petitioned New York federal courts to force DDT to implement efficiency standards for other goods, citing no justifiable reason for delaying these regulations for another six months.

Resistance: Lest DDT think that the protesting against him and his policies have been quelled, three protest marches are scheduled for the second half of April, one of them tomorrow:

  • April 15: Tax March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns.
  • April 22: March for Science, building a “broad, nonpartisan, and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals who stand up for science. We are advocating for evidence-based policymaking, science education, research funding, and inclusive and accessible science.”
  • April 29: People’s Climate March, defending the environment and mitigating the harmful effects of climate change.

More failures and bit more of Trumpia tomorrow.

April 13, 2017

Congress: Its Legislation-free First 100 Days

Filed under: Legislation,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:56 PM
Tags: ,

The 115th Congress now celebrates its 100th day. Excited about have a GOP majority in both chambers, Republicans promised a goal to “go big, go bold” and deliver for people in the United States. In their 50 days during four months, they have failed.

The most visible activities in the House during the first 100 days have been the failure of the health care “reform” and the scandal of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) who was forced from leading the investigation into Russian involvement with the campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). After concealing information and secretly meeting with White House staffers, Nunes himself is under investigation.  House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) blamed their failures on a lack of experience in being the majority party, but the House has had a majority since 2010.

The failure—thus far—of the healthcare “repeal and replace” caused the greatest infighting in the current congressional year. Although the bill would have taken insurance from 24 million people, it didn’t remove enough benefits for the ultra-right wingers in the House. About the conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) said:

“Americans are sick and tired of the dysfunction in Washington when far right-wing factions put their narrow interests above the will of the people that elected them.”

Another House member called the leader of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), “a pathological liar who isn’t interested in getting to yes.” A Meadows’ ally, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) blamed Ryan, saying that the GOP needs “either a change in direction from this Speaker, or we need a new Speaker.” Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) said, “I don’t know that the Lord himself could unite our caucus.” Ryan thinks that tax reform would be easier than health care change, but Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) said, “I don’t see it that way.” Other GOP representatives resist Ryan’s “border-adjustment plan,” otherwise known as large tariffs. Meanwhile Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), restless about congressional inaction and quits on health care change, has switched back to health care from tax reform as his priority.

What has Congress accomplished in 100 days? It erased 11 of President Obama’s previous orders by using the archaic Congressional Review Act that had been used only once in its 20-year history. George W. Bush used the law in 2001 to kill an ergonomics rule at the Department of Labor. This Congress used the act to cause the loss of internet privacy, healthcare for women, science in climate decisions, education guidelines, clean water regulations, keeping mentally ill people from buying guns, and more.  And that’s it during their 50 days.

The Senate has been a bit busier, although not with legislation. The Republicans confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and secretaries to the Cabinet, people opposed to their agencies’ missions. Yet GOP Senators couldn’t even accomplish this without changing the rules for the confirmations and bringing in the vice president to break a tie vote.

After failing to provide the Senate with nominees, DDT has gone back to lambasting Democrats for not moving fast enough to confirm his nominees. This week he changed his February position that “we don’t want to fill those jobs” to “waiting right now for so many people” to get confirmed by the Senate. DDT used his “alternative facts” when he claimed he has “hundreds of people that we’re trying to get through. “Accurate facts” shown that 478 out of 553 key positions have no nominee and another 29 have been announced but not formally nominated. Thus far, 22 positions have been confirmed. Even GOP senators are impatient with DDT’s slow pace.

The State Department is a prime example of DDT’s lack of action. Almost three months after “cleaning house” in the State Department, it is largely empty. At a time when DDT is creating disasters around the world, he has nominated only five ambassadors to replace the 57 who he fired and ordered home on the day he was inaugurated. Only the U.S. Ambassador to Israel has been confirmed, and the Senate has recently received four nominees for diplomats in Japan, China, Senegal, and the Republic of Congo. Still missing are officials  in charge of arms control, management, administration, consular affairs, and foreign missions with no replacements. The only senior position is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has no diplomatic experience. The deputy nominee was announced today. A very depressing chart can be found here. 

Congress faces a big problem when it returns from a two-week recess in the last week of April: the federal government shuts down on DDT’s 100th day in office if the House and the Senate cannot agree on a budget in three days. According to White House staffers, DDT doesn’t care whether the government shuts down, but the people waiting for $8 billion in income tax refunds may be upset when a government shutdown stops that process.

Meanwhile, Republicans are planning how to push through their agenda with the threat of closing down the government. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, who thinks that “the consequences [of a shutdown] have been blown out of proportion,” has faith that he can blackmail Democrats into paying for DDT’s wall by threatening to stop funding for what he calls “sanctuary cities.” Unfortunately for Mulvaney, the Supreme Court has already ruled that this tactic is unconstitutional in one of its rulings on the Affordable Care Act. Twenty years ago, ultra-conservative SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia ruled that federal government may not “impress into its service— … at no cost to itself — the police officers of the 50 states.”  Municipalities are already suing DDT for his January 25 executive order from January 25 that claims to empower the attorney general and secretary of Homeland Security to cut off and claw back federal funds that go to these cities.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to use the budget bill to force non-payment to Planned Parenthood for its service to needy people, stopping checks for cancer, STDs, and HIV/AIDS while promoting family planning through providing contraception. In order to succeed, Ryan will have to get almost total consensus from House Republicans to boost military spending, reduce almost all humanitarian efforts domestic and abroad, and not reduce the deficit.

Because DDT threatens to destroy the Affordable Care Act by canceling insurer subsidies for low-income enrollees, Democrats in Congress plan to demand that key payments be included in the upcoming budget. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) is a GOP leader in the House who supports DDT in appropriating the money, but he’s having a rugged time at townhall meetings throughout the eastern part of the state, the first time he’s held these in four years. Protesters were extremely vocal in three different meetings, and he has not yet faced his constituents where the loss of the Affordable Care Act would close hospitals in small communities.

DDT thinks he can blame Democrats for a shutdown, but the GOP, that closed down the government in October 2013 for a month at a cost of $25 billion, took the brunt of the blame. Only 17 percent of voters are willing to have a shutdown, and 65 percent think it should be blocked by “all means necessary.”

While many members of Congress are dodging their constituents in town hall meetings because of protesters, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) “bravely” faced those fearsome creatures at a townhall this week. There he made the statement:

“You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bullcrap.”

Mullins canceled his next townhall meeting because he couldn’t get a ban on the red and green sheets of paper that people hold up at town halls to represent their positions. Taxpayers give Mullins a salary of $174,000 a year for meeting with Congress 145 days in 2017, up from 110 days in 2016. The rest of the time, members of Congress claim to be meeting with their constituents. Mullins added to his claim that he’s paid his “own salary” through his taxes and that “no one here pays me to go.” He stated that he’s providing a “service” to the people who pay him.

The approval rating of Congress dropped eight points since February to 20 percent. Republicans reduced their approval rating of their own Congress from 50 percent to 31 percent in that time. This story may demonstrate a reason for Congress’ falling approval rates. A question at Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) town hall: “When will you have the backbone to put our country over party?”

The willingness of Republican legislators to take away everything from the people in the United States except uncontrolled police and military forces demonstrates a growing cruelty in their ruling. Good leaders empower people while the GOP increasingly takes away rights through enforcing conservative Christian beliefs, suppressing voters, voter suppression, dehumanizing minorities, and eliminating all social services. Their entire focus is on giving all assets to the wealthy. Further polarizing the nation, the House leader completely rejected any negotiation with the Democrats.

A question at Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) town hall: “When will you have the backbone to put our country over party?”

We’ll hope that Congress can avert another shutdown of government services, but I wouldn’t plan a vacation in any national park during early May.

April 11, 2017

Three LGBT Wins in Court

 

On the surface, last week’s court case about Gavin Grimm looked like a loss for human rights. When the Gloucester County (VA) School Board banned transgender students from using the bathrooms that conformed with their gender identities, Gavin Grimm, then 15, addressed the board on November 11, 2014 to explain why he was not a threat to other students. The transgender teen explained that he had used the boys’ bathroom in public places throughout Gloucester County and had never had a confrontation. As Seth Millstein wrote:

“He explained that he is a person worthy of dignity and privacy. He explained why it is humiliating to be segregated from the general population. He knew, intuitively, what the law has in recent decades acknowledged: the perpetuation of stereotypes is one of many forms of invidious discrimination. And so he hoped that his heartfelt explanation would help the powerful adults in his community come to understand what his adolescent peers already did. G.G. clearly and eloquently attested that he was not a predator, but a boy, despite the fact that he did not conform to some people’s idea about who is a boy.”

Regrettably, a majority of the School Board was unpersuaded.

In 2014, Grimm sued the Gloucester County (VA) School Board for banning transgender students from using the bathrooms that conformed with their gender identities. He argued that the policy violates Title IX prohibiting gender discrimination in public schools. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had ordered that Grimm could bring a claim against the school district because of an order issued by President Obama, and the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the case on March 28, 2017. SCOTUS returned the case to the loser courts after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) issued a directive permitting schools to discriminate against trans students.

Grimm (with journalist Katie Couric) asked the 4th Circuit Court to hear his case on an expedited basis with the hope that he could be treated equally for even one day before his graduation. On April 7, 2017, however, three judges from the 4th Circuit Court issued procedural orders refused Grimm’s request, and his case will be heard after he graduates to determine whether Title IX protects transgender students independently of any federal guidance.

 

 

Instead of the usual one-line order announcing procedural decisions, Senior Judge Andre Davis wrote the following:

I concur in the order granting the unopposed motion to vacate the district court’s preliminary injunction and add these observations.

Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals—Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few—who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them. It is unsurprising, of course, that the burden of confronting and remedying injustice falls on the shoulders of the oppressed. These individuals looked to the federal courts to vindicate their claims to human dignity, but as the names listed above make clear, the judiciary’s response has been decidedly mixed. Today, G.G. adds his name to the list of plaintiffs whose struggle for justice has been delayed and rebuffed; as Dr. King reminded us, however, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” G.G.’s journey is delayed but not finished.

G.G.’s case is about much more than bathrooms. It’s about a boy asking his school to treat him just like any other boy. It’s about protecting the rights of transgender people in public spaces and not forcing them to exist on the margins. It’s about governmental validation of the existence and experiences of transgender people, as well as the simple recognition of their humanity. His case is part of a larger movement that is redefining and broadening the scope of civil and human rights so that they extend to a vulnerable group that has traditionally been unrecognized, unrepresented, and unprotected.

G.G.’s plight has shown us the inequities that arise when the government organizes society by outdated constructs like biological sex and gender. Fortunately, the law eventually catches up to the lived facts of people; indeed, the record shows that the 4 Commonwealth of Virginia has now recorded a birth certificate for G.G. that designates his sex as male.

G.G.’s lawsuit also has demonstrated that some entities will not protect the rights of others unless compelled to do so. Today, hatred, intolerance, and discrimination persist — and are sometimes even promoted — but by challenging unjust policies rooted in invidious discrimination, G.G. takes his place among other modern-day human rights leaders who strive to ensure that, one day, equality will prevail, and that the core dignity of every one of our brothers and sisters is respected by lawmakers and others who wield power over their lives.

G.G. is and will be famous, and justifiably so. But he is not “famous” in the hollowed-out Hollywood sense of the term. He is famous for the reasons celebrated by the renowned Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, in her extraordinary poem, Famous. Despite his youth and the formidable power of those arrayed against him at every stage of these proceedings, “[he] never forgot what [he] could do.” Judge [Henry Franklin] Floyd has authorized me to state that he joins in the views expressed herein.

The value of this ruling—and of Gavin Grimm’s bravery—is that it tells the story of why the nation needs justice for the marginalized people. Even losses can take the rights of people forward.

Another amazing story comes from Grace Dolan-Sandrino, a 16-year-old Afro-Latina trans teen, who wrote “I’m a Trans Teen—Stop Talking About My Genitalia Under the Guise of ‘Privacy.’”

Grimm and Dolan-Sandrino (right) are two people feared by many people if they simply use the bathroom of their gender identities. The male trans student was forced into girls’ facilities, and the female was expected to use the boys’ bathrooms. Or they could choose damage their health and avoid any bathrooms for the long days at school. As Dolan-Sandrino wrote:

“When I was in middle school I had to use a nurse’s bathroom two floors down from my class, across an open courtyard, and down a hall in a separate building. Because it was so far away, teachers began limiting the times I could use a bathroom in a day. Soon enough, I could only go once, maybe twice—while the rest of my peers could use bathrooms located just across the hall.”

 

Another court ruling last week was a clear win for LGBT people. Three same-gender couples in Nebraska, sued the state in 2013 because a 1995 directive prevented fostering children to any couples who were not “heterosexual.”  A district court found for the couples in 2015, but Nebraska appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing that the three same-gender couples did not have standing because they hadn’t been denied foster care licenses.

Last Friday, the same day that the 4th Circuit refused to expedite Grimm’s lawsuit, the Nebraska Supreme Court unanimously rejected the state’s appeal and affirmed the lower court decision invalidating the 1995 directive. Justice John Wright said that same-gender couples suffer constitutional harm from knowing that official state policy constitutes discrimination. He endorsed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s finding that “basic due process and equal protection principles” stand as a barricade against this discrimination. He further stated that direction declaring that “heterosexuals only” need apply to be foster “is legally indistinguishable from a sign reading ‘Whites Only’ on the hiring-office door.”

A valuable part of the ruling is that the existence of anti-LGBT policies inflict grievous constitutional harms, echoing the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor’s concern that anti-LGBT laws “degrade” and “demean” same-gender couples. Nebraska judges agree that the 14th Amendment shields the rights of sexual minorities throughout the nation.

A third groundbreaking ruling in favor of LGBT people came three days before these two rulings. The full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 8-3 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination because discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is sex discrimination. The appeals court, covering Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, gives Kimberly Hively the right to sue Ivy Tech Community College (South Bend, IN). She alleges that she was denied full-time employment and promotions because she was seen kissing her girlfriend. The first appeals court to determine LGBT people have the right to sue on the basis of Title VII came to that conclusion after examining 20 years of Supreme Court rulings, including the ones on marriage equality. The Supreme Court may take this case because other appeals courts in Georgia and New York have differed in their rulings.

It is hoped that other civil rights cases will be affected by the 7th Circuit Court ruling. Other courts have ruled that Title IX, the basis for Grimm’s ruling, should use the same interpretation as Title VII. Another difference of opinion is whether Title VII protects transgender people.

The U.S. Supreme Court giveth, and it taketh away. We will wait to see what it’s decision will be in the upcoming cases about LGBT civil rights.

April 10, 2017

People Fight against Climate Change

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 8:29 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

With his bombing of Syria, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may (or may not!) slow down his destruction of the United States. Congress won’t be revoking any orders from President Obama within two weeks because they’ve left town on their junkets. Meanwhile, the environment is winning in some areas of the United States.

A few weeks ago, DDT signed a number of orders to exacerbate climate change with the excuse that it would create jobs and save money. The bad news for him is that the increase of clean energy is moving along like a speeding train. In the United States, clean energy jobs outnumber oil and gas jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, a ratio that grows each year. Only nine states have more jobs in fossil fuels than in clean energy. Massachusetts is currently considering a bill that would mandate the state obtain all of its energy—electricity, transportation, and heating—from renewable resources by 2050, and 25 U.S. cities are committed to transitioning to renewable energy, some of them making this decision after the presidential election. Ironically, the top five wind-energy producing congressional districts have GOP representatives in Congress.

Last year, one in every 50 new jobs in the nation was in the solar industry that employs 260,000 people, double that from 2010 employments. Coal mining jobs number under 100,000 although the National Mining Association, a trade group, counted 195,494 coal-mining jobs in 2012 that included miners, support activities, and transportation. That high number has shrunk in the past five years. Since 2012, the world has brought more power online from renewables than fossil fuels.

Last year, the European Union had 86 percent of its electricity capacity from renewable sources, and Canada gets more than 80 per cent of its power from emissions-free sources and nearly two-thirds from renewable energy. India hopes to add 175 gigawatts of renewable electricity in five years, the equivalent of Canada’s entire electrical system. China adds enough solar panels to cover three soccer fields every hour. Planning to become the world leader in clean energy, China will invest $361 billion in renewable energy and create 13 million clean energy jobs by 2020.

Earlier this spring the utilities that own the massive 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, one of the biggest polluters in the nation, will close it by 2019. Even better, the utilities may be out by the end of the year because the plant can’t keep running unless the Navajo Nation agrees to extend the lease.

In Alaska, PacRim Coal suspended all its permitting processes for a proposed $600 million Chuitna coal mine because it lost investors. The state’s largest strip mine would have destroyed 30 square miles of salmon river and forest. Cheap natural gas and growth of renewable energy is causing coal mines to stall throughout the nation.

Low oil prices have caused Exxon to leave 3.5 billion barrels of its fuel in the tar sands, following the same practice as that of other companies such as ConocoPhillips, Statoil, and Royal Dutch Shell. Instead, Statoil plans to develop a gigantic offshore wind farm off the coast of New York State.

Washington state blocked plans for the nation’s biggest coal export terminal. The Millennium Bulk Terminals project, proposed for Longview, that would export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia.

Pawnee (OK) is filing a class-action lawsuit against dozens of fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly causing destructive earthquakes by injecting wastewater underground. Since the fracking frenzy in the state, Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes with almost all of them traced to the process. Most of the homes in the town, population 2,300 , have been damaged from cracks in walls, foundations, and storm shelters to short-circuited electrical outlets. A 2015 study by the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that fossil fuel production is causing these earthquakes.

The Pawnee Nation is also suing after an earthquake damaged near-century-old tribal buildings.

For the first time, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection admitted a correlation between fracking and earthquakes.

Maryland’s GOP governor, Larry Hogan, has signed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. The law follows New York that banned fracking in 2015 and Vermont in 2012. Florida is considering a ban. Environmentalists in Maryland are moving on to protect the Chesapeake Bay where DDT wants to cut over 90 percent of federal funding to restore the bay.

Small California towns are defeating fossil fuels:

  • Benicia rejected a huge crude-by-rail project from Texas’ petroleum giant Valero after it wanted to send Bakken crude through the town.
  • Oxnard is fighting California Energy Commission plans to put a large gas-fired power plant on a local beach. Now choked with power plants, landfills, and a toxic waste Superfund site, the town plans a deindustrialized beach and restored coastal wetlands.
  • Santa Paula, near Oxnard, has decided to oppose a gas-fired plant after a company sets their sites on that town following Oxnard’s rejection.
  • Arvin elected a 23-year-old councilman as mayor because he promised to protect the city’s water and air. A future plan is to ban fracking.
  • San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors rejected a Phillips 66 crude-by-rail plan to bring oil into its Nipomo Mesa refinery in a location that had long supported refinery projects.

The importance of developing renewables is growing throughout the United States.

  • An increasing number of people in the United States oppose opening federal land for oil exploration, now 53 percent up from 34 percent just five years ago.
  • Another Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of the people are more concerned about protecting the environment and limiting human pollution that energy production cost.
  • Over 70 percent prefer the development of alternative energy to that of oil, gas, and coal; and about two-thirds favor higher emissions standards, including the enforcement of regulations. Only 35 percent of the respondents favor fracking.
  • Among voters, 78 percent think climate pollution should be regulated and/or taxed.
  • A new survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that large majorities of registered U.S. voters want the federal government and businesses to do more to address climate change.
  • Most voters think the U.S. should transition to using more renewable energy and fewer fossil fuels.
  • Renewable energy is heavily supported across party lines, with 85 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Republicans agreeing that the U.S. needs more of it.
  • Sixty-nine percent of U.S. voters also want their country to participate in the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate deal reached by nearly 200 nations last year.
  • And 66 percent say the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions whether other countries join in or not.

Looking to the future, the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is now solar powered because it saves money.

A recent NASA study by NASA shows that rising sea levels may be almost eight inches during the past century, almost twice what they thought it would be. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40073-as-seas-around-mar-a-lago-rise-trump-s-cuts-could-damage-local-climate-work   One place at great danger if nothing is done to slow down climate change is DDT’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach County (FL). One of DDT’s budget cuts is the $73 million program Sea Grant along with $177 million for other NASA projects to protect communities. Other places that will probably be underwater by 2100 are AG Jeff Sessions’ hometown, Mobile (AL), and Ben Carson’s Detroit will lose drinking water to toxic algal blooms. But they’re all old and don’t care because they’ll be dead by then.

April 9, 2017

Activism: Lists of ‘Not Normal,’ Accomplishments

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 7:17 PM
Tags: , ,

Activist Jen Hofmann is currently publishing a weekly list of suggested activities to resist the dreadful actions of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his GOP minions in Congress. This is the link to her website for those who wish to keep up on what can be done.

This week’s list, as usual, includes an explanation of why people must not begin to think of DDT’s behavior as normal. In addition, she provided a list of successes for the past week. You can get more details here.

Not Normal – Avoid normalizing this presidency and #staywoke:

  • A normal president doesn’t lie 367 times within his first 80 days in office.
  • A normal president doesn’t sneak money from his business after agreeing not to. In fact, a normal president doesn’t run or own a business at all during his presidency.
  • A normal president doesn’t make money from waging war.
  • A normal president doesn’t bomb another country without Congressional approval.
  • A normal president doesn’t publicly support an accused sexual predator.
  • A normal president doesn’t revoke women’s rights in favor of corporate power.
  • A normal president doesn’t spend $24M on travel in the first 10 weeks of his term.
  • A normal president doesn’t take golf vacations for ten consecutive weekends.

Past “not normal” list:

  • A normal president doesn’t lie about a former POTUS.
  • The campaign staff of a normal president are not under FBI investigation for collusion with a foreign government.
  • A normal president doesn’t move a business partner into the West Wing.
  • A normal president doesn’t threaten congresswo/men for voting against his wishes.
  • A normal president talks to all Americans, rather than holding rallies for a small number.
  • A normal president doesn’t tweet his versions of events while a hearing is in progress.
  • A normal president doesn’t lie throughout an interview or say so little that is true.
  • A normal president doesn’t take land away from Americans.
  • Normal elected leaders care about the country’s safety more than the source of leaked information.
  • A normal Congressional committee is qualified to investigate treasonous behavior and has no questionable conflicts of interest.

Good news:

  • Court rules in favor of equal rights in employment for LGBT people.
  • Steve Bannon is off the National Security Council…and two qualified leaders, previously excluded, are once again attending the meetings.
  • Nunes “stepped down” from leading the House investigation on 45-Russia ties.
  • The Wall is looking increasingly less likely.
  • A lawsuit will proceed against 45 for inciting violence at a campaign rally.
  • Four senators (2 Dem, 2 GOP) present a bill preventing unwarranted searches of Americans’ devices at the border.
  • Some GOP leaders are starting to publicly support elements of the ACA.
  • The Department of Homeland Security withdraws its request for Twitter to release a user’s account information.
  • Jeff Sessions loses battle in attempt to bully Baltimore Police.
  • EPA staffer shares a piece of his mind on his last day on the job.
  • 8,000 millennial Democrats plan to run for office. (I heart this generation.)
  • Delaware Democrats win a swing vote and keep control of the legislature.
  • Cards Against Humanity founder will buy and publish Congress’ internet browsing data.
  • In response to a violent hate crime against a gay couple, men in The Netherlands are holding hands in public.
  • New Mexico becomes the 8th state to ban the practice of gay “conversion therapy.”
  • NY state becomes the first in the nation to provide legal assistance to ICE detainees.
  • NYC will raise the age at which youth are sentenced as adults from 16 to 18.
  • Nebraska court strikes down rule banning gay foster parents.
  • California court upholds innovative cap-and-trade program–a win for the environment.
  • Maryland will financially support its Planned Parenthood clinics.
  • Advertisers flee en masse from The O’Reilly Factor, and show oddly shortened.
  • California’s drought is declared over with snowpack at 164% above normal.
  • Renewable energy is taking over fossil fuels.
  • Due to public health concerns, KFC stops using chicken treated with human antibiotics.
  • TV satirists are covering 45 better than the news. Hilarious example.
  • Unemployment went down again and wage gains are up.
  • US women’s soccer scores a goal for pay parity.
  • Vermont’s New Farms for New Americans’ programs feed body and soul.
  • We’re still the majority.

And positive actions from the week before last:

  • We defeated the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, saving millions of Americans from suffering and premature death!
  • The rusty-patched bumblebee is now listed as endangered!
  • CA upholds stricter auto-emissions standards, despite 45’s efforts to lower them.
  • Fox stops repeating wiretap lies by pulling Napolitano off the air.
  • Alex Jones apologizes for fueling Pizzagate conspiracy theories.
  • The New York Attorney General takes on Trump.
  • VA governor vetoes bills that discriminate against LGBTQI Americans.
  • Conservative governors oppose 45’s damaging budget.
  • Syrian immigrants show love through food in their adopted countries.
  • Indian villagers knit pajamas for rescued elephants to stay warm in winter.
  • Three sacred rivers are granted legal status as people.

Ways that people can protect themselves from new guidelines permitting Internet Service Providers to sell personal information from subscribers:

  • Call your provider and opt out of having your information shared.
  • Pressure ISPs to have opt-in consent.
  • Use sites that encrypt the connection between themselves and your browser, usually identified with an “https” prefix to an address or a lock icon in the address bar so that the ISP sees only the domain name that you visit.
  • Use a VPN, Virtual Private Network, for a safeguard or other ISPs that respect your privacy.
  • Opt out of supercookies and other ISP tracking by checking your account settings under privacy, marketing, or ads settings.
  • Set your PC to use a third-party DNS provider such as Open DNS.
  • Tell your congressional representatives and senators that you want the privacy back.

Little by little! Thanks, Jen!

April 8, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven, Bomb and Revoke

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:43 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Two days ago, on the 100th anniversary of U.S. entering World War I, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the bombing of the Shayrat Airfield in Homs, Syria. The $80-million raid was a knee-jerk reaction from a bully now desperate to create his own 9/11 moment to raise his ratings. The Syrian attack on its own people was horrific, but no more than what Bashar Al-Assad has done to them in the past when he killed hundreds of thousands with starve and surrender, repeatedly bombed hospitals, and carried out two savage chemical weapons attacks. Yet DDT did nothing until his approval ratings were barely better than those of Congress.

Before the attack, senior officials and foreign countries were notified so that they could escape, leaving innocent civilians, at least nine of whom were killed including four children, to suffer DDT’s “presidential” moment. The Syrian military evacuated personnel and moved equipment, and the airstrikes avoided runways and bunkers with chemical supplies. U.S. targets were concrete bunkers sheltering planes or helicopters, fuel tanks, and warehouses probably storing convention arms, supplies, and spare parts. The damage, little in terms of Assad’s overall force, may have been less than currently assessed with fuel and ammunition readily available in the Middle East. Jets took off the day after the U.S. bombing for airstrikes on Khan Sheikhoun, the site of Assad’s most recent attack, and seven other town, again killing several civilians.

DDT has announced that this is a one-time deal, leaving Assad to further persecute his people, and DDT’s “travel ban” goes to court on May 15 so that he can keep Syrians out of the U.S. Russia reported that Syrian authorities are searching for 36 Tomahawk missiles that missed the target and fell outside the base and promised to help Syria strengthen its air defenses by launching one of its biggest deployments in decades. Yet DDT’s priority, according to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, is a regime change by removing Assad.

DDT has no policy except to criticize past unsuccessful interventions—forcing Iraqis from Kuwait in 1991; conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo; and removal of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The United States is still in Afghanistan and Iraq in the longest war of U.S. history, 14 years old as of March 20. The only past successes have been to create more terrorists, just as this bombing will do. Either DDT will be satisfied with raising his ratings in a one-time shot, or he will be in the midst of the mess that he blamed on President Obama.

A serious question is whether DDT’s actions are constitutional because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. Presidents have been using authority for attacks in the Middle East from the 2001 authorization for presidents to use the military against any entity that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” DDT can claim that he is using the deal that President Obama brokered with the UN, but that resolution prevented military action unless authorized by its Security Council. In his speech following the bombing, DDT used the “national interest” argument which Republicans will repeat ad infinitum on the Sunday morning news shows. Following the U.S. Constitution, however, is not important to DDT or the Republicans who want to “de-operationalize” the United States.

Far-right conservatives are unhappy with DDT’s bombing; they believed DDT when he said that he would “put America first.” In the American Conservative, Daniel Larison explains that position. Today’s protests in ten U.S. cities compare DDT’s bombing to the start of the Iraq “War,” preemptive strikes because Syria is not a threat to the U.S. As of yet, there is no proof that this attack used chemicals just as Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

While GOP members of Congress disagreed about the constitutionality of DDT’s bombing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked when DDT planned to do something about jobs, infrastructure, trade, and other promises that he made during his campaign. About DDT, Schumer said:

“Instead, he has focused on increasing health care costs while taking away health benefits, signing resolutions benefitting big corporate special interests and polluters, and signing divisive and disruptive Executive Orders.”

The Washington Post addresses 13 questions surrounding DDT’s attack on Syria.

Bombing isn’t DDT’s only destructive activity during the past week, some of them against “innocent babies”:

U.S. Children At Risk from Poisoning: “Innocent babies” in the U.S. are at risk because DDT’s hand-picked EPA director, Scott Pruitt, declared the pesticide chlorpyrifos to be safe. The research about the dangers of the substance comes from Pruitt’s own agency, but he gave Dow Chemical the green light to make more money with its use. No one near farms—workers, children, and consumers—can avoid exposure because the poison is in the air, soil, and food. Infants and children are most vulnerable they cannot assimilate the poison that drifts at least 300 feet from the fields. Effects are slower autoimmune disorders, slower motor development , attention problems, reversal of gender differences, and other neurological effects. Exposure during pregnancy retards the mental development of children, and most home use was banned in 2001 in the U.S.

Killing Wildlife: Unlimited slaughter of wolves, bears, and other “predatory” animals on federally-protected national preserves is a good idea, according to the bill that DDT signed this week. The legislation permits killing the animals from airplanes and helicopters, while baiting them, during hibernation, and in steel-jawed leghold traps and dens—including baby animals. As DDT’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric well realize, this encourages “sport” hunting for trophy kills.

Repeal of Equal Pay Act: The day before Equal Pay Day, highlighting the discrepancies between women’s and men’s wages, DDT signed the repeal of the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order that required companies with federal contracts to be accountable to fourteen labor laws. The order protected women in the work place by mandating transparency in salaries and claims for sexual assault and discrimination. Many of these women are responsible for feeling “little babies.” More information.

Slowing Job Growth: DDT took credit for the job growth in January and February, but he’s said nothing about the March numbers that added only 98,000 jobs, a ten-month low and well below expectation of 180,00. President Obama’s policies brought 11.5 million new jobs and 75 straight months of job growth; DDT’s second full month in office dropped the number since his reduction of regulations and GOP “tax reforms.” Republicans in Congress hope to increase jobs by giving 99.6 percent of the cuts to the top 1 percent. Watch to see if DDT blames President Obama, calls the jobs report “fake news,” or just ignores it.

No Internet Privacy: DDT also signed a highly unpopular bill (80 percent Democratic opposition, 75 percent Republican opposition, and 69 percent independents opposition) behind closed doors. The new law allows cable and telecom companies to secretly sell users’ data, an action making money for big corporations.

Salary Donation: DDT donated $78,000 of his quarterly salary to the Park Service, about half of what taxpayers pay to support his wife and son every day in New York City. DDT doesn’t need this “pittance” because people are paying a fortune to curry favor with him by staying at his hotels and resorts—demonstrated by this tweet from Georgia Amabassador Kaha Imnadze about DDT’s Washington hotel:

“Great #hotel and so far the best service I’ve seen in the United States! Keep it up!”

In another violation of the emoluments clause about not taking gifts, money, or anything else from foreign governments, DDT changed his trust in early February to receive regular financial reports on his businesses and give him the right to pull money from these businesses any time he wishes.

Business is booming at the Trump-branded properties where he spent ten of his first twelve weekends after inauguration, half of them at Mar-a-Lago.

Ultimate DDT Distraction: Accusing former National Security Adviser Susan Rice of trying to “unmask”— reveal names of—DDT transition members who communicated with foreigners under surveillance failed because no one believed it. DDT’s solution to moving the discussion away from his Russian involvement was bombing Syria. In 2013, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused President Obama of wanting a “mere demonstration” when he went to Congress, asking for military action. DDT didn’t bother to ask before he bombed. He articulated his reason for bombing in 2012 when he tweeted: “Now that Obama’s poll numbers are in tailspin – watch for him to launch a strike in Libya or Iran. He is desperate.” In 2013, DDT tweeted his opposition: “What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long-term conflict? Obama needs congressional approval.”

One piece of legislation that DDT would like to avoid is the budget. If Congress doesn’t pass it by April 29, the government shuts down. Congress has three days to solve the problem when they get back from a two-week recess facing down those pesky constituents. Meanwhile DDT has no meetings scheduled today because—it’s Saturday?

April 7, 2017

DDT: Week Eleven’s Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:51 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The biggest feature of the past week was Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) attack on Syria to protect all those “innocent babies” who aren’t good enough to seek refuge in the United States. Less than four years ago, DDT wrote, “The only reason President Obama wants to attack Syria is to save face over his very dumb RED LINE statement. Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A.” Evidently DDT changed his mind after watching Fox television. When President Obama wanted to attack Syria, Republicans agreed with the former DD: in 2013 183 Republicans opposed bombing the Syria, and only 12 Republicans wanted to bomb Syria. “Innocent babies” were killed in 2013 too.

Foreign Policy by Mixed Message: Just days before Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, killed almost 100 people in what may have been a chemical attack, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that U.S. policy would not remove the tyrant from power. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed the message that there was no reason for the U.S. to attempt regime change in Syria, and DDT supported President Bashar al-Assad because he “is killing ISIS.” After the attack, Haley blamed Assad’s main ally, Russia, and VP Mike Pence said that “all options are on the table,” a common statement from the White House. DDT blamed President Obama. The most logical blame, however, may have come from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was sure that the Assad regime was “encouraged to know that the United States is withdrawing” from the conflict.

Murdering Tyrant Welcomed to White House: Only innocent babies should be saved in DDT’s world. Earlier this week he welcomed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, his favorite Middle East strongman, to the White House. Egypt is holding 40,000 to 60,000 political prisoners, including thousands of secular liberal democrats. His security forces were responsible for 1,400 extrajudicial killings in 2016 alone and 912 disappearances between August 2015 and August 2016. Evidently Fox hasn’t shown any footage of this horror because DDT calls the perpetrator a “fantastic guy.”

U.S. Slaughter of Civilians in “Slow and Brutal” Death: If Fox had broadcast the aftermath of the 300+ civilians who were killed by one U.S. attack in Mosul, he might reconsider his military approach. The U.S. military denied having killed these people in U.S. airstrikes 22 days ago after U.S.-backed authorities told people to stay in the area of the strikes until this past week. Emergency workers are still pulling bodies out of the devastation. On DDT’s watch, U.S. have killed about 1,500 civilians in Iraq and Syria during the past month, but visuals of the horrific U.S. airstrikes are largely non-existent in the mainstream media—especially the ones that DDT watches every morning.

(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

War for the U.S.? Even before DDT’s attack on Syria, North Korea’s ballistic missile on Tuesday flew 40 miles before falling into the East Sea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea.” Two days before Tillerson’s statement, DDT said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will” and added that he could do it without China’s help. One report tonight indicated that the National Security Counsel may have given DDT the option of assassinating Kim Jong-un.

No Resolution with China: Chinese President Xi Jinping left DDT’s luxurious resort Mar-a-Lago today after a day of meetings and dinner last night while DDT flexed his bombing muscles in Syria. Although DDT said they “made tremendous progress,” they agreed to take 100 days for a plan regarding economic differences. He also failed to pressure China into forcing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.  Xi described the meeting as “unique.”

DDT’s SCOTUS Win through Changing Rules:  All the news about bombings and missiles gave short shrift to the elimination of the filibuster for Supreme Court justice, allowing Republicans to give lying plagiarist 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch power over people in the United States for up to the next 40 years. In addition to having one of his rulings unanimously overturned by a usually split Supreme Court, Gorsuch plagiarized chunks of his 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, by copying other authors without citations. Six different experts on academic integrity evaluated his actions from mere sloppiness to a clear impropriety. One authority, Syracuse University professor Rebecca Moore Howard, said, “Each of the individual incidents constitutes a violation of academic ethics.” In ads for his confirmation, Gorsuch said he ruled “in favor” of disabled students when he did exactly the opposite. Four years ago, GOP senators blocked almost all President Obama’s nominees with no specific objections to any of them and were shocked when the Democrats fought back.  Now they take the high road in employing the same strategy in spite of the nominee being lacking in humanity and ethical jurisprudence. The usually split current Supreme Court unanimously overturned one of this decisions during his hearings. Three Democrats voted in favor of Gorsuch, all three up for election this coming year in red states.

More Lawsuits for DDT: U.S. District Judge David J. Hale has agreed with plaintiffs that DDT’s campaign call for his supporters to “get ‘em out of here” incited his audience to physically attack people. The three protesters are suing DDT for incitement, vicarious liability, negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness. Hale described DDT’s demand as “particularly reckless” and “implicitly encouraged the use of violence or lawless action.” He denied DDT’s claim that free speech protects him. Lawyers for Trump and his campaign tried to excuse themselves because they had no duty to the plaintiffs who assumed risk of injury by attending the rally. The judge responded that the law requires every person to use care to prevent foreseeable injury. The case has been referred to a federal magistrate, Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl, for preliminary litigation, discovery and settlement efforts. In addition, four environmentalist groups and ten state attorneys general are suing DDT for its suspension of six energy efficiency standards for product such as ceiling fans, walking-in coolers, and freezers. DDT’s order will cost consumers up to $23 billion in higher energy bills while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. And the Supreme Court has refused to stop a case in the 6th Circuit Court about President Obama’s Clean Water Rule to protect small waterways such as streams and wetlands from pollution while DDT ponders whether to repeal the rule.

Police Reform: A federal judge refused to delay a hearing on a proposed agreement to overhaul the Baltimore Police Department, calling the Trump administration’s request a “burden and inconvenience.”

Health Care: The last week marked another failure for Trumpcare despite efforts by VP Mike Pence. A week ago, DDT blamed the Republican conservatives for its failure. The next day he switched to saying that he would work to get them to vote for it. On Sunday DDT tweeted that “talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue.” By Monday, Pence was trying to make deals with the Freedom Caucus, offering a deal to drop the standard minimum benefits and the rule requiring insurance companies to charge the same premium for people of the same age which would make the pre-existing conditions requirement useless. In a meeting with the more moderate GOP wing on Tuesday who were not impressed with the earlier offer to conservatives. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House is at only the “concept stage” with no plans for a vote. Congress left town today for two weeks and won’t return until the week that the government will shut down without its action. The current Affordable Care Act has a 55-percent approval rate while DDT’s approval rate has dropped to 34 percent. His approval among Republicans has dropped 14 points in just the last two weeks. In addition, he’s lost the majority support of men and plurality of white voters. One of his latest tactics is to attach the health care plan to one for infrastructure, but that plan is such a con that he might fail in doing this also.

In an amazing move this week, DDT took his pet white supremacist Steve Bannon off the National Security Council and replaced him with qualified officials. According to the Wall Street Journal, DDT’s security adviser, H.R. McMaster, made the decision, but many reasons are swirling, including the completion Bannon’s appointment to “babysit” now-fired Michael Flynn. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is the replacement, assigned to lead a task force on government efficiency, the same goal as Bannon’s “Strategic Initiatives Group.”  Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  The White House claims that Bannon’s group never existed although Sebastian Gorka, high-level DDT staffer, had talked about being a member, and journalists had seen a door posted with the sign of the group. Bannon blames the Obama administration, including former adviser Susan Rice, for his downfall in another part of DDT’s “War on Obama.”  After his demotion from presidency, Bannon went so far as to tell people that he might quit.  He may not have the chance because another rumor is that both Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus may be fired. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/327909-white-house-frustrated-by-palace-intrigue

On Air Force One, DDT told reporters, “We’ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency.” It’s only been eleven.

So much intrigue, so little space. More tomorrow!

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