Nel's New Day

October 30, 2017

Russia, Puerto Rico, Budget

Luckily for the Republicans, Dictator Donald Trump is leaving the country Friday. His Asia trip removes him from tweeting about what he will give away in the tax reform legislation. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that it’s an advantage that DDT is a half world away and then tried to explain his comment away by saying that he was joking. At home, however, the problems continue.

The first charges from Robert Mueller’s investigations led today’s media. Twelve counts against DDT’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort include conspiracy against the United States, tax evasion, and money laundering related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. His longtime deputy, Rick Gates, is also charged. DDT responded with anger to charges against Manafort but said nothing about a greater danger to him, his campaign advisor George Papadopoulos’s confession to colluding with Russia and agreeing to provide more information about the situation. Roger Stone’s tweets were so far over the top that Twitter suspended his account. A detailed timeline of the DDT/Russia affair.

DDT is now lying about having any connection with Cambridge Analytica, a shady British data firm providing data for his campaign, that asked WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange for help in “finding” Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. The desired distraction is the Uranium One deal during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State by accusing her of allowing Russia to buy a Canadian company. The agreement, which was not controlled by Clinton, does not allow removal of U.S. uranium from either Canada or U.S. without U.S. permission. False allegations about bribery connections come from Breitbart author Peter Schweizer in Clinton Cash.

Another attempted distraction is an attempt to blame a dossier about DDT’s lewd and illegal behavior on Hillary Clinton for a dossier on him. Facts about the 35-page research document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele:

  • The conservative Washington Free Beacon funded the project before DDT became the GOP candidate when Clinton’s campaign and the DNC, through Democratic lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, took over. (Mother Jones reported this information a year ago, but DDT pretends it’s new.)
  • Former FBI director briefed DDT about the contents of the dossier after his election.
  • Unverified ones are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • U.S. intelligence agencies stated that the dossier was not their source and confirmed additional information, including Russian interference in U.S. elections through email hacking and disinformation campaigns.

GOP Republicans want to save money by stopping Mueller’s investigation despite their expensive three-year investigation into Clinton’s Benghazi and emails, bringing the cost of “getting” Clinton over $100 million. Earlier, Kenneth Starr’s investigation into “Whitewater” cost $70 million, and Bill Clinton’s impeachment cost about $60 million. Only the DOJ can block these funds for Mueller’s investigation, however, unless Congress passes a separate law.

Fox and Friends concentrated on where the lettuce should go in a cheeseburger, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about reporters going out for beers and having to pay taxes.

DDT bragged about his “success” in Puerto Rico, calling it a “10,” but 39 days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, 77 percent of Puerto Rico is still without electricity. Without energy to power wastewater disposal and clean water delivery systems, their pumps won’t work, and sewage builds up while residents can’t get clean drinking water. People suffer from dehydration and become infected from low-quality water sources. Without electricity, people can’t know where to get supplies.

No one knows how to use the gigantic government hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, and only 33 of its 250 beds were being used a week ago. Many of those who know about the facility can’t get to the port because of impassable roads or fuel. A donation from Tesla has provided a solar power system for a children’s hospital in San Juan, but doctors in other facilities have only the light from cellphones to perform surgery.

DDT prided himself on the low death rate in Puerto Rico, but over 900 bodies have been scheduled for cremation on the island since Hurricane Maria hit. Officials will not know whether they are directly connected to the disaster. These deaths were marked as being from “natural causes,” but many of them died from failing dialysis and oxygen machines after the island had no electricity. Bodies must be sent to the Institute of Forensic Sciences in San Juan for an autopsy to be included in the official death count.

The scandal of Whitefish Energy rebuilding the island’s power grid continues after Gov. Ricardo Rossello finally pulled the plug on a $300 million contract awarded by the island’s power. The board ignored mutual aid from larger experienced power companies which provided workers from U.S. public utility companies after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year and instead chose the two-person, two-year-old non-utility Whitefish Energy, located in the small Montana hometown of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. He claims that he had nothing to do with the choice, but his son had worked for the company.

Whitefish’s previous experience was to replace 4.8 miles of transmission line in Arizona for $1.3 million; Puerto Rico has 2,400 miles of critically important transmission lines and tens of thousands of miles of distribution lines across the island. The company relies on subcontractors; they have paid $462 per hour for a supervisor and $319 for a lineman. Each person is daily paid $332.41 for accommodations and $79.82 for food.

According to the contract, Puerto Rico was not allowed to “audit or review the cost and profit elements,” and the government was prohibited from making “any claim against Contractor related to delayed completion of work.” The “contractor will not be subject to compliance with any performance specification during the duration of this reconstruction work.” Although the Whitefish contract states that FEMA approved the deal, the disaster agency said it was not involved in the selection of the company and has “significant concerns” about the decision. The fishy agreement may have been worse than the fraud during the clean-up after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

Financing for Whitefish comes from the Texas-based private-equity firm HBC Investments, founded by Joe Colonnetta. He and his wife, Kimberly, donated over $80,000 to DDT and RNC campaigns and have associations with Ben Carson, DDT’s secretary of housing and urban development, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, according to photos on her Facebook page.

Last week, Congress passed a disastrous budget with a House vote of 216-212 (20 GOP representatives voting no) and a Senate vote of 51-49 (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky only GOP saying no) for the next decade:

  • A $1.5 trillion deficit to finance tax cuts with almost 80 percent of them going to the top 1 percent.
  • Cuts to all non-Medicare health programs of $1.3 trillion, almost 30 percent.
  • Cuts of $473 billion to Medicare.
  • Cuts of $653 (13 percent) to mandatory programs in the “income security” spending category including food stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI, an anti-poverty program that gives cash to seniors and disabled people); the earned income tax credit (EITC) for people too poor to pay taxes; and unemployment insurance; both military and civilian federal employee pensions.
  • “Mystery” cuts of $800 billion from “non-defense discretionary spending”—funding for the FBI, the National Institutes of Health and other biomedical research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency and Treasury Department, etc. More specific cuts include slashing medical research and gutting State and the EPA especially.
  • GOP’s plan to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes adversely affecting one-third of households. (Without that change the deficit would be $2.4 trillion. A proposed tax credit for property taxes would increase the deficit by $700 billion.)
  • Cuts of 93 percent for federal programs that aid survivors of sexual and domestic violence from $460 million to $30 million, the equivalent of a few weekends for DDT at Mar-a-Lago.

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said that House Republicans were “asked to vote for a budget that nobody believes in so that we have the chance to vote for a tax bill that nobody’s read.”

Republicans are willing to fund tax cuts for the wealthy with a deficit but demand an offset to pay for healthcare for nine million children in poverty. CHIP ended on October 1, but Republicans won’t renew it until Democrats agree to cut the Affordable Care public health fund, reduce the grace period for enrollees who fail to make the premium payments, repeal the law’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, and make cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The same people are working to cut off abortions at six weeks because they “love children.”

DDT is demanding the tax cuts (for wealthy) bill on his desk by Thanksgiving—about a dozen work days for the House—but keeps killing ideas on making money for the wealthy. This week he promised to allow people to continue deducting $18,000 for their 401(k) retirement accounts instead of $2,400 but withdrew the statement after the House included the change in the bill. The government will get the taxes no matter what, but the GOP wants it this year, costing $2 trillion in the next decade. The bill will supposedly be released in two days.

Republicans further voted against DDT’s base by forbidding class action consumer lawsuits against banks or credit card companies. VP Mike Pence broke the tie in the Senate. More advantage for the wealthy!

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October 29, 2017

DDT: Week Forty – Problems Continue

So much has happened during the past week that it seems forever since the beginning of last week when Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) accused Myeshia Johnson, the Gold Star widow of La David Johnson, of being a liar.Everything he does follows this MO as described by the Washington Post: “Make it a fight, use controversy to elevate the message and never apologize.”

DDT’s latest word on the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger: “I didn’t [authorize the mission]. But I have great generals ….” As with the death in a Yemen mission after his inauguration, the un-commander-in-chief blames the generals. “This was something that was, you know, just, they wanted to do …. and they lost Ryan.” A few years ago, the coward-in-chief wrote, “Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.” No longer.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), once a DDT supporter, continued expressing his concerns about the man inaugurated as president last January:

“I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does.”

Corker, head of the Foreign Relations Committee, also said that DDT “has great difficulty with the truth” and that “world leaders are very aware that much of what [Trump] says is untrue.” As Josh Chafetz, Cornell Law School professor, recently: “Politics is, among other things, a discursive practice. Words are actions.” In response, DDT ridiculed Corker’s physical short stature.

Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) announcement that he won’t run for re-election in 2018 brought out DDT’s ire after Flake’s 17-minute speech about DDT’s “reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior. Flake’s decision went from a “chem-trail” Kelli Ward (so called because she thinks that the government is poisoning people with the jet trails) being a slam-dunk in the GOP primary to chaos in a state that is slowly turning purple.

The rest of the GOP has a position about DDT’s fitness—nobody cares and don’t tell anybody about it. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “I don’t think the American people care about that. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said Republican senators worried about DDT’s fitness should keep their fears “private” and talk about it “within the family.” Republican patriotism.

Deaths from the opioid overdose crisis have hit the same level as HIV during the 1980s and 90s, but DDT has declared it an “emergency,” not a “crisis,” with no additional funding. (Maps of its growth here.) DDT’s solution? “Just say no,” just like the failures of Nancy Reagan.

Claiming that it refuses to “facilitate” abortions, DDT’s administration imprisoned a girl who had crossed the border into the United States and wouldn’t allow her to see a lawyer or visit a doctor for a month until the administration quit appealing the judgments of four courts in her favor. Immigration took her to a Christian “pregnancy center” that told her why she should carry the fetus to full term and keps stalling in the hope that she would go beyond 20 weeks before the case was settled. After Washington D.C. appeals court voted 6-3 in her favor, she had the procedure last Wednesday at 16 weeks. Federal officials also violated a court order when they told the girl’s mother she was pregnant. The girl had said that she didn’t want her parents to know because they beat an older sister who was pregnant to cause a miscarriage. In control of the girl was E. Scott Lloyd, the former attorney for the Knights of Columbus and a fierce opponent of abortion who heads up the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

DENVER, COLORADO – OCTOBER 26:  (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

Over 100 women—“handmaids”—marched and protested against the GOP’s attack on women’s reproductive rights in Denver when VP Mike Pence came for a state GOP fundraiser. The image comes from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel A Handmaid’s Tale inspired by Ronald Reagan’s restrictions on women. In the book, women were forced to become pregnant and bear children. House Republicans introduced a bill preventing doctors from performing abortions after six weeks, usually before women know they are pregnant. The 20-week ban has passed the House and gone to the Senate.

Prototypes for DDT’s “wall” are up, and the New York Magazine asks which one is the “worst.” Your choice of “soothing slat design,” “light-toned wood,” an abandoned “project,” “monolith from 2001,” “experimental,” “vulnerable to breach by Slenderman,” iInfected rusty comb,” and “straight-up boring.” Matt Novak discovered how easily a drone can take drugs from Mexico to the U.S. USA Today described the fiasco of the bidding and building process based on emails with contractors.

The U.S. Air Force is reportedly preparing to put nuclear bombers on 24-hour notice, a position not taken since the Cold War.

The U.S. tried to prove that that Kabul was safe because of this week’s visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, but they lied about his location. Tillerson never got off the Bagram air base.

From Ron Paul: The U.S. occupies 53 out of 54 African nations.

When DDT ran for president, he said he would eliminate crime on his first day. What he’s done is to eliminate crime statistics.

The majority of Houston Texans players knelt during the national anthem despite the comment from owner Bob McNair that “we can’t have the inmates running the prison.” He later apologized to the players, saying that he didn’t mean them.

The Trump administration wants to as much as triple the fees to visit 17 National Parks — including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. Families would have to pay $70 during peak season. The fee increase won’t happen until after a public comment period ending on November 23. Ben Schreiber, Senior Political Strategist for Friends of the Earth, said:

“The Trump administration is turning our National Parks into an exclusive playground for the rich. Secretary Zinke has given our public lands to oil companies, slashed budgets, and attacked the regulations that ensure taxpayers receive a fair price for their natural resource.”

Women are responsible for sexual assault, according to Carl Gallups, a right-wing pastor and conspiracy theorist who spoke at Trump campaign rallies during the 2016 election. It’s because women dress provocatively. In an interview with Mike Shoesmith, Gallups agreed with Shoesmith’s statement:

“Men are visually stimulated and unwanted stimulation should meet the basic definition of assault. Women who dress in a suggestive manner are] guilty of indecent visual assault on a man’s imagination, which does cause mental anguish and torment. When a man sees a naked or partially dressed woman, a chemical reaction happens in his brain. Neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are released, giving him an involuntary surge of pleasure. Notice the word ‘involuntary’ … “

DDT continues to make horrifying appointments. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Thomas Farr with a vote of 11-9 to the federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. After George W. Bush first nominated him in 2006, the Senate didn’t advance his name and then blocked President Obama’s new nomination for his two terms. The Congressional Black Caucus wrote, “It is no exaggeration to say that had the White House deliberately sought to identify an attorney in North Carolina with a more hostile record on African-American voting rights and workers’ rights than Thomas Farr, it could hardly have done so.”

Another worst of the week, confirmed to manage tax policy at the Treasury Department with a 26-0 vote, is David Kautter, who will be acting head of the IRS starting on November 12. Through his 30 years of work with work with Ernst & Young, Kautter developed skill in helping clients avoid taxes. In his confirmation hearing, he said he wasn’t involved in these tax shelters and said he felt bad about not preventing the scheme. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that Kautter promised “he would maintain the highest level of ethical and professional standards if he is confirmed.” Robert Mercer, who paid at least $20 million for DDT’s election, is $7 billion in income tax arrears from his tax-avoidance scheme. Wyden can now find out whether his trust in Kautter is misplaced.

Kelly Knight Craft, wife of coal billionaire Jon Craft and DDT’s new ambassador to Canada, says she believes in both sides of the climate warming question. She finished her statement about the world’s environment to Canadian media by saying that the U.S. is interested in what’s best for the United States.

The acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration—who doesn’t need confirmation—is connected to a company that makes money from the sale of oil spill equipment.

The New Yorker has another cover of DDT that he can post at his golf courses.

The White House is so embarrassed about DDT’s golf-playing that it’s trying to hide his activities—like his 75th day of golf last weekend In 280 days of office. Yesterday DDT was on his Virginia golf course for the fourth weekend in a row.

Too much for one blog post! More coming.

October 25, 2017

DDT’s Obstruction of Justice

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:29 PM
Tags: , , ,

Can Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) be convicted of obstruction of justice? That’s the question that the Senate Judiciary Committee has been investigating, and there may never be an answer. The committee seems to have blown up, and each party will likely submit its own report. The Senate Intelligence Committee has said that it will no longer be investigating anything about DDT’s firing of former FBI director James Comey. Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) said, “Future questions surrounding Comey’s firing are better answered by the [special] counsel or by the Justice Department.”

Obstruction of justice is a charge for attempts to influence, obstruct or impede a federal investigation or a judicial process. Steven Harper has written about how DDT taken a number of actions that could be considered obstruction of justice.

Jan. 27, 2017: One week after the inauguration, acting Attorney General Sally Yates talked to White House counsel Don McGahn about her concerns regarding national security adviser Michael Flynn. During DDT’s campaign, Flynn was frequently in contact Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. VP Mike Pence and press secretary Sean Spicer denied that Flynn talked about Russian sanctions in December, but Yates told McGahn that U.S. intelligence agencies knew these statements were false. If Flynn lied, Russians could blackmail him because they knew the truth. That was the same day that DDT called Comey to a private dinner at the White House and told him, “I need loyalty.”

Feb. 14, 2017: DDT asked Comey to stay for a private conversation after DDT’s advisers left. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” DDT told Comey in private.

Mar. 20, 2017: Comey testified before Congress that the FBI was investigating DDT’s campaign connections to Russia.

March 22, 2017: DDT asks National Intelligence Daniel Coats and CIA Director Mike Pompeo to stay in the Oval Office after a briefing with senior officials. DDT complains to them about Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation and asks them to intervene with Comey to get the FBI to stop investigating Flynn. During later Senate testimony, Coates and Pompeo refuse to answer questions about this meeting without offering an explanation of any legal basis for doing so. A few days later, DDT asked Coats, Pompeo, and Director of National Security Mike Rogers to deny publicly “the existence of any evidence of coordination between his campaign and the Russian government.” Deputy Director of the NSA Richard Ledgett wrote an internal NSA memo documenting DDT conversation with Rogers, including DDT’s questioning the accuracy of the IC Assessment that Russia had interfered with the election. Senior White House officials also “sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn.”

Mar. 30, 2017 and Apr. 11, 2017: DDT asked Comey to “lift the cloud” of the Russia investigation. DDT repeatly urged Comey to tell the public that DDT is not under investigation. Comey later testified to the Senate that the FBI and DOJ were reluctant to make a public statement that they did not have an open case on Trump “for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.”

Apr. 25, 2017:  DDT sent Flynn a message to “stay strong.”

May 2, 2017: DDT added witness intimidation to his series of “Russia hoax” tweets on the night before Comey’s scheduled testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee: “FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony…”

May 6-7, 2017: DDT had spent the past few days ranting about Comey’s Senate appearance on May 3. With the help of aide Stephen Miller, DDT drafted a four-page letter to Comey that outlined his reasons for firing Comey.

May 8, 2017: DDT continued his witness intimidation before Sally Yates testified about her January conversations with Don McGahn regarding Mike Flynn: “Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.” DDT read the draft of his letter firing Comey to advisers, including White House counsel Don McGahn and VP Mike Pence. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, then-chief of staff Reince Priebus, Pence, and drafted talking points about Comey’s planned firing while DDT asked AG Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for a memo outlining their problems with Comey. DDT used their statements as recommendations for his firing Comey.

May 9, 2017: DDT fired Comey while DDT’s subordinates, including, publicized the falsehood that Rosenstein had called for Comey’s termination.

May 10, 2017: DDT told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyak in the Oval Office that he fired Comey because of “Russia.” DDT told them, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job … I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off … I’m not under investigation.”

May 11, 2017: DDT repeated the real reason, “Russia,” for firing Comey in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC.

May 12, 2017: The New York Times reported DDT’s “loyalty dinner” with Comey on January 27, and DDT sent another tweet to intimidate a witness: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

May 18, 2017: DDT answered a question about whether he had ever asked Comey to close or back down on the investigation into Mike Flynn with the curt response: “No. No. Next question.”

May 18, 2017: Rosenstein testifies before a closed-door Senate briefing, reportedly saying that he knew DDT wanted to fire Comey before he wrote his letter justifying Comey’s removal. Rosenstein also said that DDT asked him to write the letter and that he knew on May 8 that DDT was planning to fire Comey.

June 6, 2017: The Washington Post reported that DDT was considering live-tweeting during James Comey’s upcoming Senate testimony.

June 7, 2017: DNI Coats and NSA Director Rogers both refused to testify about their personal interactions with DDT and whether DDT asked them to intervene in the Russia investigation at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

June 8, 2017: Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that DDT had repeatedly asked him about Russia and that he understood DDT’s expressed “hope” about “letting Flynn go” as an order.

June 9, 2017: DDT called Comey a liar and accused him of leaking classified information.

July 8, 2017: DDT helped his son Donald Trump Jr. write a misleading statement about the son’s campaign meeting on June 9, 2016 with his top advisers and three Russians who promised to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

July 19, 2017: After incessant attacks on special investigator Robert Mueller, DDT talked about limitations to Mueller’s examination of the DDT-Russian connections.

July 21, 2017: The Washington Post reported that Trump had “asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe.” Such pardons might constitute obstruction of justice or an abuse of power.

July 26, 2017: About whether Mueller’s job was safe, DDT said, “No, we’re going to see.”

As Harper wrote:

“[DDT] lied about Comey’s firing, persisted in efforts to intimidate key witnesses, inserted himself into misleading statements about his campaign advisers’ meetings with Russians offering to help him win the election, and held the sword of Damocles over the special counsel investigating him? Behind any effort to obstruct justice is a fear of the truth.”

Barry H. Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen have outlined the case against DDT in a detailed 108-page factual and legal analysis for the Brookings Institution. As Harper stated, “Trump’s actions have always been rational in a key respect: Trump does what is best for Trump, regardless of the consequences. If that means obstructing justice, so be it.”

Whenever DDT finds himself in trouble, he distracts. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) claimed that DDT’s current distraction from Russia’s election meddling and potential obstruction of justice is DDT’s attention to the 2010 Uranium One deal. The member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said:

“The president has done everything he can — calling the investigation a hoax, bringing distracting issues to deflect attention from the potential obstruction of justice by his administration and possibly by himself into the investigation on Russian meddling, and Trump’s alleged collusion with that meddling.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judiciary chair, has called on the DOJ to appoint a special counsel to investigate the agreement giving a Russian-owned company partial control of U.S. atomic energy resources in 2010. Last week the committee said that it is opening an inquiry into the deal, and the House wants a joint investigation. The next GOP lie and the next shiny thing: Hillary Clinton benefited from the deal.

October 23, 2017

The Dying Constitution

Filed under: Constitution — trp2011 @ 10:19 PM
Tags: , , ,

Regarding the First Amendment, Washington Post provided a look of surveys about freedoms that people have long taken for granted. The First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

An annual survey published last month by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center:

  • 37 percent of Americans cannot name even one of the five rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
  • Half of those surveyed named freedom of speech but no others.
  • Only 26 percent of respondents could name the three branches of government, down from 38 percent in 2011.
  • 39 percent support allowing Congress to stop the news media from reporting on any issue of national security.
  • Only 49 percent oppose this prior restraints, down from 55 percent last year.

Repetition makes false information sink into some people’s brains. According to a Politico-Morning Consult Poll:

  • 46 percent of registered voters believe major news organizations fabricate stories about him.
  • Only 37 percent of Americans think the mainstream media does not invent stories, while the rest are undecided.
  • Over 75 percent of Republicans believe reporters make up stories about Trump.
  • 28 percent of people want the federal government to have the ability to revoke the broadcast licenses of major news organizations if it says they are fabricating news stories about the president or the administration. (Only 51 percent think the government should not be able to do that.)
  • 46 percent of Republicans think the government should have the power to revoke licenses if it says stories are false. (They should be careful what they wish if a law like this can revoke Fox’s license.)

A national survey conducted by the Newseum Institute in May:

  • 23 percent think the First Amendment “goes too far.”
  • 74 percent do not think “fake news” should be protected by the First Amendment.
  • 43 percent of respondents felt that colleges should have the right to ban controversial campus speakers.
  • Only 59 percent believe that religious freedom should apply to all religious groups. Among those between the ages of 18 to 29, just 49 percent support equal protection for all religious faiths, compared to over 60 percent for every other age group.

An online survey of 1,500 undergraduate students at U.S. four-year colleges and universities in the last week by Brookings senior fellow John Villasenor:

  • Only 39 percent of respondents said that the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” while 44 percent said it does not.
  • 62 percent had the mistaken belief that, under the First Amendment, an on-campus organization hosting an “offensive” speaker is legally required to ensure that there is also a speaker who presents an opposing viewpoint.
  • 19 percent said it is acceptable for a student group to use violence to prevent a guest speaker it opposes from appearing on campus.

A Pew Research Center study from 2015:

  • 40 percent of millennials accept the government preventing people from making unspecified statements that are “offensive to minority groups.”

YouGov poll for the libertarian Cato Institute, released two weeks ago:

  • 40 percent of people think government should prevent people from engaging in hate speech.
  • 46 percent would support a law making it illegal to say offensive things about African Americans.
  • 41 percent would ban insults for Jews.
  • 40 percent would ban insults for immigrants and military-service members.
  • 39 percent would ban insults for Hispanics.
  • 37 percent would ban insults for Muslims.
  • 36 percent would ban insults for LGBTQ people.
  • 35 percent would ban insults for Christians.
  • 51 percent of Democrats would favor a law “requiring people to refer to a transgender person by their preferred gender pronouns and not according to their biological sex.”

Republicans wave the Constitution in front of people just as they do the flag, but they don’t necessarily follow it. More from the Cato Institute:

  • 36 percent of Republicans would support prohibiting offensive public statements aimed at the police.
  • 72 percent of Republicans want a law to punish people for burning or desecrating the U.S. flag.
  • 53 percent of Republicans favor “stripping a person of their U.S. citizenship if they burn the American flag.”
  • 67 percent of Republicans favor a law to “prohibit face coverings in public spaces.”
  • Almost 50 percent of Republicans would ban the construction of mosques in their community.
  • 50 percent of Republicans say the press in America has too much freedom to do what it wants.
  • 63 percent of Republicans say  journalists are “an enemy of the American people.”
  • 72 percent of Republicans in the poll said that colleges and universities are not doing enough “to teach young Americans about the value of free speech.”
  • 90 percent of Republicans think political correctness is “a big problem this country has.”

James Hohmann wrote “why these numbers matter”:

“If we lose the confidence that good ideas will overtake bad ones in the marketplace of ideas, if we lose the sense that we may disagree with offensive comments our neighbors say but we’ll defend to the death their right to say them and if we lose the willingness to honestly debate hard issues, then the United States will keep becoming more tribal and, eventually, less free.”

In a 1945 essay, George Orwell wrote:

“If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be prosecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), said:

 “The First Amendment is the beating heart of the American experiment, and you don’t get to separate the freedoms that are in there. You don’t have religion without assembly. You don’t have speech without press. We all need to celebrate all five of those freedoms, because that’s how the ‘e pluribus unum’ stuff works.”

A First Amendment debate arose over the right of athletes to kneel during the national anthem. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told the NFL to fire their employees if they did this. DDT may himself be violating the First Amendment if his purpose is to suppress citizen speech. In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Bantam Books, Inc. v. Rhode Island that ruled that a Rhode Island commission was engaging in “state censorship.” The purpose of DDT’s verbal campaign has been to suppress speech that offends him.

Merely offensive speech cannot be censored according to a 1989 Supreme Court case protecting flag burning. Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. wrote:

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

Robert Post, Sterling professor at Yale Law School, wrote that DDT’s statements were worse than the Rhode Island’s commission because he is trying to stop “political speech protesting law enforcement’s unfair treatment of minorities.” Using the power of his office, he is threatening NFL owners with paying additional taxes if their athletes continue behavior that offends him. Even if DDT doesn’t take action, a “reasonable” belief that he is using the government to repress speech can still violate the First Amendment.

DDT has sworn an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A vital part of the Constitution is democratic self-government by “We the people.” “Attacks on the political speech of private citizens … undermines integrity of “We the people.” Divisiveness destroys stability which leads to constitutional failure. Loss of the Constitution means loss of democracy as DDT leads the nation toward authoritarianism.

October 22, 2017

Generals, ‘Adults in the Room,’ Go to War

Filed under: War — trp2011 @ 7:33 PM
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Generals! Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) loves them. Since his inauguration, he’s fired lots of people–James Comey, Sean Spicer, Anthony Saramucci, Reince Priebus, Sebastian Gorka, and even his beloved Keith Schiller. But the generals have stayed. DDT campaigned on opposition to a big military presence abroad, but now he’s handed over his entire foreign policy to them and the Pentagon unless he’s trying to undo something like the Iran or Paris agreement.

Who are DDT’s generals?

Gen. Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, Secretary of Defense, once said about the Taliban, “It’s quite fun to shoot them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people.” He also told soldiers in Iraq, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” Mattis defended himself after bombing a wedding party by saying, “How many people go to the middle of the desert… to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization?” He was “retired” from his command five months early when he wanted to take out an Iranian oil refinery that would have set off another war. Mattis promoted John Kelly to brigadier general in Iraq, but Kelly never fought in Afghanistan.

DDT has given Mattis unprecedented authority to set troop levels and launch airstrikes around the world—and Congress doesn’t stop DDT.

Gen. H.R. McMaster, now national security adviser, “liberated” Tal Afar (Iraq) only to have it overcome by sectarian violence a year later and one of the first Iraqi cities that ISIS took. He considers the war in the Middle East “generational” (aka unending). He’s willing to start a “preventive” war against North Korea, just as George W. Bush against Iraq.

Gen. John Kelly was seen as a force for good when he became chief of staff, restraining much of DDT’s impulsivity except for his offensive tweets—until the past week when he decided to defend his boss with a collection of lies and smears. After DDT faced criticism for his offensive remarks to the widow of fallen Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger, Kelly came to a press conference to give his side. It wasn’t pretty, especially when he called a black U.S. representative from Florida, Frederica Wilson, an empty barrel—insinuating that she was too loud and too stupid to have a role in the government.

Even worse, Kelly blatantly lied about his experience with Wilson at the dedication of a new FBI field office in Miami. He claimed that she bragged about getting the funding at the ceremony, but the building was funded before she was elected. Kelly’s speech was wrong about a fallen FBI agents’ name and his length of service, and he quoted the price of the building at $20 million instead of its cost of $194 million. A video of the event shows Wilson talking about getting the building named for two killed FBI agents and gave credit to two Republican members of Congress for their participation.  She also asked law-enforcement officials to stand so “we can applaud you and what you do” before she said,

Kelly said that he was “stunned” and “heart-broken” that the “empty barrel” would listen in on a “sacred” conversation between the president and the widow. Wilson was with Myeishia Johnson because she is a family friend, and Kelly obviously heard the conversation because he knew what was said. Like DDT who failed to use the name of Johnson’s widow, Kelly never named Rep. Wilson while he was sneering at her.

In his speech, Kelly attacked Gold Family Khizr and Ghazala Khan for appearing at the Democratic convention. Yet he ignored DDT’s attacks on that Gold Family and DDT’s comment about Sen. John McCain that he “prefers people who aren’t captured.” Kelly lamented that people no longer “honor” women while defending a sexual predatory. His anger about politicizing the war dead ignored DDT’s initiation of the political involvement of the subject after a simple question about the mission itself.

Presented with the truth about Kelly’s false statements about Wilson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that people should not disagree with a “four-star Marine general.”

Kelly’s background:

  • While in charge of the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility, he undermined President Obama’s attempts to close the facility.
  • He opposed and publicly criticized the integration of women into military ground combat units, arguing it would lead to lower standards.
  • He defended “enhanced interrogation techniques” (aka torture) such as waterboarding and rectal feeding and dismissed the criticisms of human rights groups as “foolishness.”
  • He testified in support of an officer caught urinating on Talibani corpses.
  • He supports the imprisonment of terror suspects without trial.
  • He supports the war on drugs and opposes legalization or decriminalization of any drugs, including marijuana.
  • Kelly says that the military men and women are the best one percent that this nation produces.
  • While head of the Department of Homeland Security, he ordered immigration officials to portray undocumented immigrants swept up in mass raids as criminals to support the claims of raids motivated by public safety concerns.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is supporting DDT’s three hawks in declaring war in Niger. He explained that counterterrorism will move to “status-based targeting,” meaning that “lethal force” can be used even if “they don’t have to present an immediate threat.” Decision-making will also be done in the field instead of the White House, according to Graham. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plan a public hearing the evening of October 30 to gin up people in the U.S. for DDT’s war.

As in the war on Iraq, the reason may be “follow the oil.” In late 2016, the discovery of large crude oil deposits in Niger led to an interest building a pipeline to send the oil to Nigeria and then export it. The oil in Nigeria is owned by Western corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron with Shell providing a private militia of over 1,200 soldiers. After the destruction of Libya, Nigeria became the top oil-producing African country, supplying one-fifth of the U.S. needs. Although one reason for putting Niger on the travel ban was the terrorist group, Boko Haram, it is mostly confined to Nigeria and Cameroon with a small part in southeastern Niger–not in Chad. Nigeria’s local government officials tend to support the Boko Haram.

DDT has a double reason for a war: he can take over the oil production, and he might decrease his disapproval rating, growing every week. Attacking North Korea and/or Iran would be dangerous because they would fight back. Niger has a corrupt leader, and the people are extremely poor with an annual $415 income. DDT is already getting ready for war by signing an executive order to drastically expand his ability to call back any retired service members to service. The Air Force is recalling at least 1,000 retired pilots per year to active duty.

The movement toward war was set into action on September 24 when DDT put Chad onto his travel ban for harboring terrorists although it was fighting them. By the beginning of October, Chad began pulling out its 2,000 well-trained forces out of Niger. On October 4, an under-armed U.S. military force with no air cover was sent into an ambush. Four people died, and DDT plans to declare war.

On her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow drew lines between these recent events—not as a causal conspiracy theory but with attention to the timing of what has happened. Critics from both sides of the political spectra criticized her, one person saying that Chad was fighting Boko Hiram and not ISIS. Fox network complained about the media “putting in their own theories.” Yet both groups are tangentially linked. Maddows’ two show segments on the issue are here.

DDT loves power, and he gets it from being “commander in chief.” Last month he called for a Fourth of July parade filled with military hardware to show the nation’s “military might” to “top” the one he saw in France on Bastille Day.

The three generals in traditionally civilian positions want war and secrecy, and they achieve their goal by creating a massive fear of foreign terrorism. They control the military and the war policy, making sure that DDT follows their orders to increase the defense expenditures at the cost of people in the United States. DDT the bully finds his generals “sacred” and thinks that the war will make him more popular the way it seemed to do for George W. Bush—briefly. The United States, run by “adults” and permanently at war.

As DDT’s distraction of smearing Wilson in his tweets—the most recent one today—continues, watch for the saber-rattling of his generals and GOP congressional hawks.

October 21, 2017

DDT: Week Thirty-nine – Lack of Character

Today ends National Character Week. A resolution from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) included the statement that “The … integrity of our people … defines the soul of our Nation.” DDT began the week with a collection of lies and character assassinations in covering for the loss of four soldiers in the disastrous operation in Niger. Asked about the background for the deaths, DDT made the despicable statement that Barack Obama and “most” other presidents don’t both to call families of U.S. soldiers killed in the line of duty and then lied when he said he called every family. Since then, the White House frantically sent  letters.

Criticized for telling the widow that her husband “must’ve known what he signed up for,” DDT lied about having made that statement despite witnesses. DDT then politicized the situation by exploiting Chief of Staff John Kelly’s having lost his son in combat in 2010, despite Kelly’s past refusal to talk about his son. Reporters asked about the missing $25,000 that he has promised some families but not others with little satisfaction.

Other questions were left unanswered such as why the mission was considered safe but failed so miserably and why the body of Sgt. La David Johnson was left behind for two days and discovered by Nigerian troops a mile away from the ambush. No one satisfactorily answered the question about DDT putting Chad on the travel ban, an act that may have caused the mission’s failure because well-trained Chad soldiers left Niger. Fighting between Chad’s armed forces and Boko Haram dates back to 2015. During the peak of the conflict Chad stationed 2,000 troops in Niger to counter the militant group.  Another question about Niger is whether U.S. troops pursued ISIS members across the Mali border without approval.

The lack of integrity and “character” continued when Chief of Staff John Kelly lied in defense of DDT and smeared Rep. Frederica Wilson about her comments at the dedication of a new FBI building in Miramar (FL).

DDT’s leadership failures since his inauguration started with his authorization of a late January mission in Yemen where Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens died and refuses to take responsibility for his actions. This week, he defined his presidency by saying about other failures, “And I’m not going to blame myself.” DDT blames the GOP Congress, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, Jeff Sessions, John McCain, Bob Corker, the press, and a host of others. That is DDT’s “character.”

Phil Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA’s CounterTerrorist Center and the FBI’s National Security Branch, talked about DDT’s claiming himself the victim, beginning with the day after his inauguration when DDT stood before stars for intelligence officers killed in the line of duty and talked about the size of his inauguration crowd. “Nine months later,” Mudd said, “this guy has the empathy of a cockroach.” San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovitch said, “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others.”

When the Benghazi victims came home (left) and when the Niger victims arrived (right).

DDT is bragging about the capture of Raqqa from ISIS, but the militants have dispersed without being crushed just as the Taliban and al Qaeda were 16 years ago. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi left with his fighters to set up control elsewhere. ISIS affiliates remain active in Libya, Mali, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Terrorists took control after 2001 because of bad leadership; the same thing can happen again.

DDT’s week has a number of other failures:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that DDT can’t revoke a network’s license based on content, as he threatened.

DDT lacks proof that Iran is dealing with North Korea; he plans to “instruct” his intelligence agencies to go back to find the evidence that he wants.

The IRS plans to enforce the healthcare act by fining people without insurance, despite DDT’s false declaration that “Obamacare is dead.” The Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land, but DDT claimed,“‘Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. You shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.” Perhaps he would like to call the current healthcare, suffering because he has badly sabotaged it, “Trumpcare.” Whatever healthcare is called, DDT’s “tweaks” is creating more uninsured: the percentage of uninsured U.S. adults has steadily grown since DDT’s inauguration to 12.3 percent, up 1.4 points since the end of 2016 and the highest recorded since the last quarter of 2014.

The CIA corrected DDT’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s lies about how the intelligence community determined that “Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.” A CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said the CIA concluded that Russia tried to influence the presidential election but they didn’t know whether it was successful. (Rumors suggest that Pompeo could become Secretary of State if Rex Tillerson were to quit.)

DDT’s nominee for drug czar, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), withdrew again after Washington Post and 60 Minutes reported about Marino’s championing a bill protecting pharmaceutical companies that flood the country with opioids. The law weakened DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. Marino, who received big contributions from the drug industry, had withdrawn from the nomination on May 4 until he was re-offered the job on September 2.

Summer Zervos, who accused DDT of sexual harassment, has subpoenaed all documents from his presidential campaign about sexual harassment and assault allegations to show how DDT tried to discredit her and the other accusers. DDT’s lawyers maintain that a president cannot be sued.

Seventeen states are suing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos because the her refusal to punish predatory career programs “leaves students vulnerable to exploitation and fraud.” DeVos overturned rules, repeatedly upheld by courts despite legal challenges by the for-profit college industry, that cut off federal financial aid funding to career college programs providing only low salaries for students with heavy debt. She is also being sued for rolling back the regulation allowing students to apply for loan forgiveness if they were defrauded by for-profit colleges and for her tougher standard of evidence in campus sexual assault cases.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii has blocked DDT’s third travel ban because it failed to show nationality alone makes a person a greater security risk. Maryland is also blocking the ban to people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen; the restrictions against North Korea and Venezuela remain because they were not part of the lawsuit.

Seattle and Portland (OR) can continue suing DDT for removing federal funding from so-called sanctuary cities despite DDT’s attempt to dismiss their lawsuit DDT is defending an almost identical lawsuit in a federal court in California.

Anti-pipeline protesters charged with felonies may use the “necessity” defense of confronting climate change as justification in court. They can call scientists as witnesses and give evidence of harms as justification to protect people for their violations of the law.

DDT’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio rules out punishment, but he keeps his criminal record, according to U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) attempt to stabilize the healthcare market after DDT’s sabotage has faced six different positions from DDT. Two weeks ago, DDT asked Alexander for the deal, and the White House participated in the compromise. Within a day, DDT was against, for, against, for, and finally against the bipartisan agreement that attempts to undo the damage from DDT on the healthcare system. The goal of the bill is to reduce the inflated rates for policy premiums planned after DDT withdrew any subsidy payments to insurance companies.

Two former presidents—Barack Obama and George W. Bush—gave speeches last week about bigotry, divisiveness, partisan conflicts, “conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.” Bush attacked “nationalism distorted into nativism” and said the nation has “forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.” President Obama said, “You can’t govern people if you win by dividing them.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that references about politicians sowing anger and division did not apply to DDT because President Obama and W. didn’t use his name.

DDT broke into his incessant tweets against black athletes with one accusing his FBI of treason: “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?” His explanation for his tweets, including today’s continuation of “Crooked Hillary,” is that “you have to keep people interested.”

A Gallup poll shows that economic confidence dropped from 16 in March—two months after DDT’s inauguration—to a minus one, a drop of 17 points.

DDT’s defense of his disrespect in the Niger situation and Kelly’s smearing of a black female member of Congress shiny media pennies to distract people from the rapid movement of a budget through Congress that destroys the social welfare net—including Medicaid and Medicare—while adding $1.5 trillion to the debt. Republicans brag about how this legislation leads to massive tax cuts for large corporations and the wealthiest people in the nation. Always look under distractions—such as black athletes or a black congresswoman—to find the GOP’s frightening actions.

Craziest thing of the week? Donald Trump, Jr. posted this fake Time cover of his father despite the magazine’s demand that DDT stop putting out fake Time covers of him.

October 20, 2017

Pence, a Christian Ideologue Who Could Destroy Democracy

[Note: Yesterday’s blog post about not impeaching Donald Trump (DDT) brought a few comments. One is that “DDT” is a pesticide. Yes, it’s a poison that kills humans and harmless creatures, and the man inaugurated as U.S. president in January 2017 displays many characteristics of a dictator. Another one—”Explain to me again why just Pence would be worse than 45 + Pence.” Without DDT, Pence would be unleashed to make the nation a total unconstitutional theocracy. DDT is only interested in benefiting himself; Mike Pence will do anything to spread Dominionism throughout the world. People who still aren’t afraid of Pence after reading the following should go to some of the links for additional information.]

Becoming candidate for vice-president was a personal advantage for Mike Pence because his term as governor of Indiana was up for renewal. He was unpopular with both parties, his favorability down to 40 percent and only four points ahead of his Democratic opponent when 30 percent of the people in the state didn’t know who the Dem was.

Pence is an ideal sidekick for DDT, always willing to lie for him and always looking adoringly at DDT. Joel K. Goldstein, a historian at St. Louis University, calls him the “Sycophant-in-Chief.” Pence brought conservative donors who didn’t trust DDT back into the fold, especially the Koch brothers.

During his campaign for vice-president, Pence denied concern about the “Access Hollywood” tapes when DDT was caught bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy,” but a campaign aide said his wife, Karen, was horrified. Pence wouldn’t take calls from DDT but sent DDT a letter saying that he and his wife were deeply offended and needed to make an “assessment” about whether to remain with the campaign. Pence decided to stay, and DDT dumped New Jersey governor Chris Christie—and his thirty binders of résumés and plans—to make Pence head of his transition team. In his appointments, DDT leaned heavily on Koch-supported people: Scott Pruitt, Patrick Traylor, Don McGahn, Betsy DeVos, and Mike Pompeo. Koch involvement caused DDT base’s priorities to move down, subsumed by the corporate right. Gone are such Koch-opposed proposals as infrastructure reform, “border-adjustment tax,” and higher tax bracket for earnings over $5 million.

Two days after DDT was inaugurated, Stephen Roderick wrote about how Pence and DDT claimed to save jobs in Indiana by preserving 730 jobs at Carrier. Another 550 jobs that were being sent to Mexico. As usual, Pence had given the typical spin about Washington policies driving jobs offshore, but Mexican workers get $6 an hour, $1.75 less than federal minimum wage. As governor, Pence gave Carrier $7 million in state tax breaks. Sarah Palin called it “crony capitalism.”

Pence may be responsible for some of DDT’s current problems. Christie told DDT to avoid Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests may have been the impetus for the investigation. Pence hired Flynn with almost no vetting although Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent warned him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn failed to disclose that he had done paid lobbying work during the campaign for Turkish interests. Pence claimed he didn’t see the letter, but Cummings has an email from the transition staff, promising to carefully review his letter. Flynn’s hiring most likely led to the special investigation surrounding DDT’s connection with Russia.

After DDT fired former FBI director James Comey, Pence again lied, claiming that the firing had nothing do to with the Russia investigation. He had attended a meeting about DDT’s intention to get rid of Comey where a letter connecting the firing to the Russia investigation was distributed. White House Counsel Don McGahn recommended against sending the letter, and the DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein made up an excuse for the firing. Hours after Pence claimed that DDT’s decision was based on Rosenstein recommendation, DDT told Lester Holt in an interview that Russia was the reason for his action. Pence’s lies may be classified as obstructing justice, or “misprision of a felony,” for giving the public a false cover story about a meeting to shut down a federal investigation.

Pence’s Bible-study group for Cabinet members is led by Ralph Drollinger who wrote:

“Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”

Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband. He said that Pence “has uncompromising Biblical tenacity” and “brings real value to the head of the nation.”

Joan Walsh wrote that Pence is a far worse person than DDT “because of his creepy Handmaid’s Tale patriarchal approach to women’s equality. But also because he usually knows he’s lying about Trump, and their administration’s agenda, and he lies anyway.”

Pence’s argument against athletes taking a knee to protest injustice during the national anthem is the use of “national” in the NFL. He said, as if the NFL belongs to the government, “I don’t think it’s too much to ask that players in the National Football League to stand for our national anthem.”

Jeremy Scahill wrote about other Pence beliefs:

Pence wants to ban the burning of the U.S. flag and make the Patriot Act permanent. He thinks that law enforcement should not need a FISA warrant for domestic surveillance and voted against requiring any warrant for domestic wiretapping. He wanted to give retroactive immunity to telecom companies involved in warrantless surveillance. Pence said that “enhanced interrogation” has saved lives and doesn’t want congressional oversight of CIA interrogations. He also opposes protections for whistleblowers to prevent retaliation for reporting crimes and misdeeds. Expansion of the military tribunal system and “filling up” Guantanamo Bay are other Pence goals. No matter what, Pence will stand with Israel. Fortunately, he and other legislators failed in making a U.S. policy to use military force to eliminate nuclear threats in Iran.

Roe v. Wade would disappear in a Pence presidency, and he wants 14th Amendment protections for fetuses by declaring them persons. He voted for two-year sentences for doctors performing late-term abortions for any reason except the danger of women’s lives. If this had passed, women would have had to carry dead fetuses to term. According to Pence, “condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”

Pence wants DDT’s “wall” and advocates greater militarization against drugs. He said that “police officers are the best of us” and finds it offensive to “use a broad brush to accuse law enforcement of implicit bias or institutional racism and that really has got to stop.” Stop-and-frisk programs are “on a sound constitutional footing,” according to Pence, who wants these on a nationwide basis.

No-bid contracting should not have restrictions, according to Pence, perhaps because he has a close relationship to Blackwater’s cofounder, Erik Prince, Betsy Devos’ brother. Pence and his Republican Study Committee welcomed Prince to Washington in 2007 after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. The Prince family joined with the DeVos family to fund the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House Speaker in 1994 on the platform Contract with America.

In the Concord Monitor, Robert Azzi wrote:

“I want [Donald Trunp] to stay in office because I fear a President Pence more than I fear Trump.

“While Trump the narcissist is an uneducated wanna-be statesman who seemingly has never read a book, who lacks empathy even for those close to him, and whom I believe couldn’t find Jerusalem on a map – at least not until either he or Jared got a contract to build a new tower or embassy there (a really, really, really beautiful thing – amazing, really!) – there are currently enough Republicans and Democrats (supported by grown-ups like Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster) who are equally so revulsed by his lies, his ignorance and his erratic-ness that they’re willing to stand in his way to keep his fingers off the nuclear codes.

“Trump’s ambitions can be deflected (he has the attention span of a gnat); Pence’s can’t, and his elevation to the presidency – either through Trump’s impeachment or resignation – would, I believe, present a clear and present danger to the pluralistic, aspirational, constitutional values upon which this nation relies for its strength and prosperity….

“Pence is the real thing. He’s much smarter than Trump, has better hair, has much more government experience, and he unrepentantly embraces and advocates for an unreconstructed Christian supremacist America…. Pence is the tip of the spear for a Christian Dominionist movement envisioned, as Betsy DeVos says, to “advance God’s kingdom….

“A Pence presidency would herald the rise of an American supremacist Taliban who’ll have their way rolling back the privacy and civil, human, religious and personal rights of Americans whom they believe, both in the present and in the hereafter, are less worthy than they.”

The worst part of impeaching DDT is that the Trumpets would solidify with the GOP party, giving them far more leverage. The U.S. is better off by leaving DDT where he is and controlling his ability to blow up the world. If DDT is impeached, only a Pence impeachment could save the nation—and that would never happen.

I have long believed, like longtime Democratic operative Harold Ickes, that Pence would work more effectively with Congress and be more successful at advancing the far right’s agenda. Newt Gingrich believes that Pence will be the 2024 GOP nominee. Pence is the first vice-president in history to have his own fundraising effort instead of raising money for the president, the party, and congressional and state-level candidates. He may be aiming at 2020. A Pence presidency would erase what is left of democracy in the United States.

 

October 19, 2017

Don’t Impeach DDT

Throughout the past year, VP Mike Pence has mostly kept a low profile while more and more people are calling to impeach Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Examining Pence’s past shows such great darkness that I cannot advocate exchanging the volatile, impulsive man currently in the Oval Office for someone who plans to turn the United States into a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. People who think that DDT is the worst possible person as the nation’s leader need to consider Pence’s ability to destroy democracy and the entire population of the U.S. except for white men.

DDT brought publicity to Pence when he declared that his VP “wants to hang” all gay people. As outrageous as this claim is, Alyssa Farah, Pence’s press secretary, didn’t deny that DDT’s claim was wrong. In Pence’s history as a right-wing extremist member of Congress, he has opposed nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, supported a federal constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage, opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” and opposed a federal hate crimes law. As governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law permission for businesses to refuse to serve LGBTQ people, spurring a nationwide backlash. When Pence appeared on television to defend the law, he repeatedly refused to say whether or not the law would allow for discrimination and whether or not he supported nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people. But this bigotry is only the tip of the iceberg.

Early in his political career, Pence used dirty tricks in his first congressional campaign: he showed someone dressed in Middle Eastern garb who accused his opponent of connections to Arabian oil interests, sent a mailer with a photo of a razor and lines of cocaine that accused his opponent of being soft on drugs, and told campaign volunteers to call voters and tell them that Sharp planned to sell his family farm to a nuclear-waste facility. All these were lies. Part of his 1990 election loss in that fight may have been his use of campaign donations for such personal expenses as his mortgage, groceries, and golf tournament fees—nothing illegal but considered unethical.

Losing the election by 19 points, Pence hosted a radio talk show and continued his lies. In criticizing the 1991 Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, Pence maintained that opponents to the Supreme Court justice nominee used KKK tactics and blamed Indiana senators Dick Lugar and Dan Coats for “standing by while Clarence Thomas is being lynched.” Anita Hill’s assertions about Thomas’ sexual harassment is now largely believed.

Pence’s loss also led him to the presidency of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation promoting free-market policies and giving him access to a network of business-funded conservative nonprofit groups. The financial ties to tobacco companies led Pence to claim in 2000 that “smoking doesn’t kill [that] two out of every three smokers doesn’t die from a smoking-related illness.” Government was a bigger “scourge” than cigarettes, he said. As a board member of the Indiana Family Institute, Pence joined the campaign against LGBTQ rights and for the criminalization of abortion. Vi Simpson, former Indiana senate Democratic minority leader, said that Pence’s goal is to reverse the economic and political advances of women, using denial of birth control access to women as one method.

After Pence won a seat in the U.S. House in 2000, he became popular on the conservative talk circuit where he spoke for unlimited gun rights, property rights, pro-life, and pro-Israel positions. Michael Leppert, an Indiana Democratic lobbyist, said:

“His politics were always way outside the mainstream. He just does it with a smile on his face instead of a snarl…. He was as far right as you could go without falling off the earth.”

Far to the right of the George W. Bush administration, Pence didn’t author one successful bill during his 12 years in Congress. He opposed Medicaid expansion for prescription drugs and the emergency bank bailout. He not only opposed LGBTQ rights but also argued that the AIDS resources bill, the Ryan White Care Act, should fund “those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.” In 2006 he fought for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Pence wants to erase the science of the world. In 2002, he stated that “educators around America must teach evolution not as fact but as theory” in opposition to “intelligent design,” that maintains life on Earth is too complex to emerge through random mutation. Pence called the latter the only “remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

In 2008, Pence helped found the Tea Party, opposing taxes and government, and became more militant. In 2011, he threatened to shut down the federal government if it didn’t defund Planned Parenthood. In his arguments against funding Planned Parenthood, he referenced Lex Cornelia, ancient Roman laws that included one sentencing providers of abortion potions to work in the mines. Pence supported “personhood” legislation to ban any abortion under all circumstances except to protect the life of the mother and sponsored a failed amendment to the Affordable Care Act allowing government-funded hospitals to turn away dying women who needed abortions.

The Koch brothers learned to count on Pence when he persuaded 156 congressional members to sign a pledge of “No Climate Tax” that allowed the Koch brothers to annually dump 24 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

In 2009 bill Pence sponsored a bill to prevent native-born children of illegal immigrants from becoming American citizens. Like DDT’s recent executive order, he wants to use his personal moral convictions to control the nation, whether constitutional or not.

Pence became governor of Indiana with only 49 percent of the vote in 2013 because the center didn’t trust him. They were right. Pence had promised to follow former Gov. Mitch Daniels, a fiscal conservative who wanted to avoid divisive social issues. He created “the largest income-tax cut in the state’s history” (according to Pence) in a state with one of the lowest income taxes in the nation. His plan had the same result as the proposed DDT tax cuts: people earning $50,000 a year gained about $3.50 a month. Pence again lied about the cut stimulating the economy. Since Pence left, Indiana had to increase the gas tax by ten cents per gallon to fix its infrastructure.

As a new governor, Pence tried to solve his state’s fiscal crisis by cutting tens of millions for higher education, social agencies, and human services. He blocked local governments from raising the minimum wage or requiring better benefits from businesses. Pence privatized government services in infrastructure and education, rolled back energy efficiency standards, and declared the state pro-coal. He allowed people to keep guns in their cars on school grounds, recruited the NRA to train the state’s National Guard, and stopped Gary (IN) from suing gun manufacturers whose weapons were illegally sold.

In 2014, a year after he was elected governor, Pence killed an application for an $80 million federal grant to start a statewide preschool program because of conservative objections to secular public education. At the same time, he traveled the country to build support for a presidential run.

Pence signed a bill stopping women from aborting physically abnormal fetuses and requiring fetal burial or cremation, even after miscarriages. The law has been found unconstitutional, and Indiana is now permanently barred from enforcing a restriction that would have banned abortions sought because of a fetus’ genetic abnormalities, race, gender or ancestry.

Another Pence disaster was the serious spike of HIV cases in southern Indiana from the closure of Planned Parenthood clinics, none of which performed abortions, and the refusal to legalize a syringe exchange. The state health commissioner called the outbreak a public-health emergency, and Pence permitted a temporary exchange program as an emergency.

Although pro-life, Pence refused to save the lives of a Syrian refugee family who had undergone extreme vetting and was fleeing violence and terror by allowing them to settle in the state. They had relatives in Indianapolis along with the Bishop of the Archdiocese of Indiana. The family was sent to Connecticut, and the federal courts eventually struck down Pence’s executive order as discriminatory.

Pence also declined to pardon Keith Cooper, in prison for nine years for an armed robbery he didn’t commit. Without the pardon, Cooper could be released only if he admitted guilt for something he didn’t do that kept him getting a decent job.

Although opposed to gambling in a state that bans political contributions from casino operators, Pence received donations from gambling sources through the Republican Governors Association with its major donors of casino companies.

As Indiana’s governor, Pence also tried to establish a taxpayer-funded state-run new agency to spread his propaganda and used a private email account for official state business. He claimed that it was different from Hillary Clinton’s private server but cost taxpayers $100,000 in legal fees. Taxpayers also paid for private attorneys so that Pence could join Scott Pruitt’s lawsuit against President Obama’s Clean Power Plan before DDT’s election.

That’s how a Christian ideologue rules. To be continued.

October 17, 2017

DDT’s Expensive Swamp

Cutting the waste in government was a frequent claim of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) while on the campaign trail and the subject of an early executive order. DDT said that his executive order on March 13, 2017, would require a “thorough examination of every executive department and agency” to find out “where money is being wasted [and] how services can be improved.” His proposed budget slashes funds for the social network.

DDT should look to himself for waste in government. Although he has spent one night at New York’s Trump Tower since he was inaugurated, the apartment costs millions of dollars. He overcharged the facilities for the Secret Service there, requiring the command post to move to a trailer on the sidewalk in July. Expenditures for DDT’s golf trips are over $72 million, according to Trump Golf Count. At that rate, he’ll spend almost $400 million during his term.

DDT’s current campaigning for 2020 is on the taxpayer tab as well. When he went to Phoenix (AZ) to tout his “wall,” his campaign funds may have paid for the convention center and indoor security, but taxpayers were out almost $500,000 for his campaign event. Just employee overtime expenses for the Phoenix Police Department cost $336,887.

The costs of DDT’s family trips are astronomical. Just one ski vacation for Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, their spouses, their kids and their dogs cost taxpayers $330,000. The State Department paid the cost of $117,489.44 for the car rental charge when Tiffany Trump and her mother vacationed for two weeks in Italy. That was considerably cheaper than the $2 million that DDT cost the State Department during a 48-hour trip to Italy in May.

Secret Service is running out of money to protect DDT and his family of 18. Without congressional approval to increase the budget, 1,100 agents, one-third of them, will have to work overtime without pay. The current expenditure of $30 million is 250 percent more than the past annual cost of $12 million for President Obama and his family. The Secret Service protected 42 people around the clock until Donald Trump, Jr. refused his guard. After he said he wanted privacy, he was found killing moose in Alaska. Kellyanne Conway was also removed from the list.

Sen. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced an amendment the 2018 appropriations bill to prevent Secret Service payment to any businesses owned or operated by DDT:

“None of the funds made available by this Act to the United States Secret Service may be used to purchase, rent, or otherwise acquire goods or services, including hotel rooms, office space, or golf carts, from entities that are owned or operated by the President or the immediate family of the President.”

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) expanded Schiff’s plan to prohibit federal spending across the government at all “Trump-owned hotels, resorts, and other Trump-owned businesses.” The bills went nowhere but may have been educational.

In addition to DDT’s costs, taxpayers are paying for jetsetting Cabinet members:

  • (Former) Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price: Over $1 million in military and charter flights. When he resigned, Price said that he would reimburse the government $52,000. A millionaire who made stock trade in health-care companies while helping them with laws, Price has been a proponent of taking hundreds of billions of dollars from federal health programs. As HHS secretary, he backed a $6 billion cut to NIH and an overall 18 percent reduction to the HHS budget. His goal is to eliminate “waste.” He also cut 90 percent from the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million and almost half of the budget for consumer “navigators.” Price’s excuse for chartering private planes is that he once missed a meeting because of a four-hour delay on a commercial flight. Storms had shut down all flights in Washington, not only Price’s scheduled flight but also private jets which he attempted to get. Price missed dinner on Thursday night but was still available to give his speech the next morning. His destination, a two-day industry conference at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in Southern California, brings to question the excuse that he travels to be “connected with the real American people.” Another argument was how busy he was with the hurricanes; most of the chartered flights occurred before they hit the U.S.
  • EPA Director Scott Pruitt: Almost $60,000 for “non-commercial” flights. Pruitt spent 48 of 92 days traveling, most of the flights at least stopping in Oklahoma, possibly laying the groundwork for a senatorial campaign. One charter flight for $14,000 took Pruitt from Tulsa to Guymon (OK) to talk about closing the EPA’s ten regional offices by reassigning staff to state capitals—part of eliminating one-third of the EPA budget.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: Over $800,000 in costs for flights, including a government jet to Kentucky (where he and his wife viewed the solar eclipse) plus his request to take a government jet on his honeymoon to Europe.
  • Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: A number of flights on private and military aircraft, including between St. Croix to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as paying $12,000 to an oil-and-gas exploration firm for a charter flight instead of a commercial one because he was speaking to a political donor’s professional hockey team in Nevada. Zinke’s wife, manager of the campaign for Troy Downing who is a GOP candidate for a Montana senator, often travels with him as they stop at political fundraisers and donor events.
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin: Payment for his wife’s costs to Europe where they spent half his time, four days, on vacation tours that included four palaces and the championship Wimbledon match. Just weeks earlier, Shulkin told staff to cut back on travel expenses.
  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry: At least $58,000 for private flights.
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao: Seven FAA jet flights, including to New York and Paris.

VP Mike Pence may have cost taxpayers approximately $250,000 last week to stage a PR stunt. He flew from Las Vegas to Indiana with a pool of reporters to follow DDT’s orders by walking out of the football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers after over 20 players knelt to protest police brutality. From there he flew to Los Angeles for a fundraiser. Worse than his staging this stunt was his statement that he saved people money because he would have flown to Washington, D.C. for the one night if he hadn’t gone to Indianapolis. Evidently no hotel openings in either Las Vegas or LA. Four Green Berets had been killed in Niger, but DDT ignored this tragedy to tweet against peaceful and legal protests by NFL athletes—29 times thus far.

DDT’s Cabinet runs high tabs in areas other than travel. Scott Pruitt’s protective 24/7 detail, triple that of his predecessors, costs $832,735.40 for his first three months, and the agency asked for an exception to DDT’s hiring freeze to hire an additional (number redacted on a memo) security members. In the past, Secretaries of State, Defense, and Homeland Security received this kind of protection, but DDT has extended it to such dangerous positions as the Secretary of Education and the EPA. Betsy DeVos costs almost $1 million a month for protection from U.S. marshals.

Pruitt also wants a sound-proof booth. He’s paying almost $25,000 for it on the floor where employees cannot take cellphones or take notes. EPA employees say that he already has one but wants it “updated.”

One of Zinke’s staff is paid to go up to the roof and hoist his secretarial flag when Zinke enters the building and reverse the process when he leaves. He is the first White House official to do that for almost a century. His deputy secretary has his own flag to fly when Zinke is gone. Another cost, the amount not identified, is Zinke’s commissioning commemorative coins with his name that he hands out to staff and visitors. Again, the use of personalized coins is unique.

Price had early on asked to reopen the executive dining room, complete with executive chef, but Price has been fired.

And DDT’s executive order attempting to destroy health care for millions will cost the country $20 billion this year.

October 15, 2017

Right v. Left in Religion

For almost a year, people have questioned how Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) could have 80 percent of the evangelical support to be elected U.S. president. He is a serial womanizer, divorced twice, married three times, brags about sexually assaulting women, and finds his biological daughter sexually attractive. (In addition, he’s autocratic, violent, vain, impulsive, and ignorant—but that may fit the evangelical lifestyle.)

A reason for evangelical support of DDT is that he can deliver what they want in turning the nation back to fundamentalist Christians. That support was evident last week when he began to make contraception illegal and came out against LGBTQ rights. A stronger reason for the evangelical belief in DDT, however, is that he shares their values. Money and wealth are gauges of human value and worth in the “prosperity gospel” as the rich are God’s “elect.” DDT promotes racism and white supremacy in accord with fundamentalist Christianity while he works to destroy the nation’s social safety net.

Background for these values is the DDT’s dogmatic approach, also in accord to fundamentalists. Dogmatic people are less skilled in analytical thinking and less likely to view situations from a variety of perspectives. Therefore, they believe that facts are “fake” unless they follow their personal beliefs. Dogmatic people are far less likely to believe in science because of their lack of understanding and their refusal to consider anything outside their narrow understanding. Politics for conservatives have now become a religious fundamentalism. They operate on faith in both arenas, clinging to beliefs that cannot be proven through empirical means.

Last week, the “Awaken the Dawn” rally filled the Washington National Mall with worship music and prayer in a three-day event. The organizer, Independent Network Charismatic (INC), has held other events, for example one in Houston where former Texas governor Rick Perry and current Secretary of Energy, prayed for rain. The “apostles” of INC have close links other U.S. politicians such as Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, and DDT.

Instead of building churches, INC builds networks through media, conferences, and education for its control. The goal is to put their believers into all of society’s powerful positions. The fastest-growing Christian group in the nation increased 3.24 percent a year from 1970 to 2010 while Protestant church attendees dropped by 0.05 percent each of those years when the nation’s population was annually growing by 1 percent.

An appeal of INC for young people are impromptu supernatural healing sessions in a hospital ER room, the casting out of demonic spirits in ministry school classes, and teams in public places to relay divine messages. Instead of creating congregations and joining people in worship services, INC wants heaven, God’s perfect society, on Earth through their leadership control of the “seven mountains of culture”: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion.

INC believers in DDT’s administration—including Rick Perry, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Secretary of HUD Ben Carson—are part of the plan.

Evangelicals have become more and more obsessed with collecting money as James Hudnut-Beumler wrote in his book, In Pursuit of the Almighty’s Dollar: A History of Money and American Protestantism. The first automated teller machine (ATM) was installed in a London church 50 years ago to add to the alms boxes (alms for the poor) in the back of churches. Evangelical churches added the ATMs to their churches to increase donations a dozen years. Donations went from $100,000 the first year to double that the second year in an 18-percent increase over pre-ATM times. The next step was the “automatic tithing machine” that deducted cash from the giver’s account to move it directly into that of the church. The church’s argument for giving this money is that it frees the donor. The money becomes sacred.  The givers, though, can’t use credit cards because it’s not the same; the sanctuary requires cash.

The “prosperity gospel” includes committing fraud. The founder of the Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina, currently being investigated for enslaving foreign believers after luring them to the U.S., is encouraging members to file fraudulent unemployment claims to keep tithing and giving to the “church.” Jane Whaley told contractor Randy Fields that this fraud is “God’s plan” after he asked to cut back on his tithing after his business was in trouble. Fields said that several other members and fellowship employees committed fraud because of Whaley’s demands. The false claims may be provided the church hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past six years. A church member also led 30 parishioners to attack and beat a gay church member to “expel his demons.”

DDT’s war on athletes protesting racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem follows the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity. Pastor Allen Joyner of the Sweet Home Baptist Church, who announces football games at McKenzie High School (Alabama), told his crowd that anyone who didn’t stand for the national anthem should “line up over there by the fence and let our military personnel take a few shots AT you.” The school denounced his statement, but his church supported the belief.  Joyner has resigned from his volunteer position at the high school.

Evangelism of personal piety from over a century ago has been replaced by Christian Reconstructionism that tries to control all the Earth and eradicate any secular, humanist society. All non-fundamentalists will be silenced, imprisoned, or killed, and the mission of government is to protect property and wage war. Churches, in charge of social welfare, can deny help to the poor, and people can be executed for “moral crimes.” The United States is well on its way to this philosophy: almost 40 percent believe in creationism, and almost one-third are evangelical Christians. Only God can save evangelicals, who must overcome all others in any way possible. People in the evangelical movement consider themselves victims of all the “others”—racial, religious, etc.

While the religious right seems to be taking over, the “religious left” is not sitting back. Progressive faith leaders are not only opposing DDT’s actions in supporting his “values voters” but also opening their worship places and even homes to undocumented immigrants risking DDT’s deportations. Growing more nervous about the movement, the religious conservatives are attempting to discredit and condemn the Religious Left. Last July, Fox network treated one of the left’s leaders, Rev. William Barber II, after he accused right-wing pastors of hypocrisy, that their actions constituted “a form of theological malpractice bordering on heresy.” When Linda Sarsour called on her fellow Muslims to a nonviolent “jihad” for social justice against DDT, Fox joined other conservative media to accuse her remarks as “terror.” (Jihad means a spiritual struggle against evil.)

In addition to attacking individuals, conservative media claims that progressivism and religion are not compatible. Cal Thomas, vice president of the Moral Majority from 1980 to 1985, blame declines in church affiliation on liberal people of faith who engage in politics. Mark Tooley, head of the right-wing Institute of Religion and Democracy, described the “Christian left” as “unreflective.” The National Review claimed the Democratic Party is actively hostile to religion.

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons theorizes that the religious right is killing religious belief in the United States. He writes that the same percentage of people unaffiliated with religion—97 percent—believed in God in 2014 and 2007. The reason for declining church membership, according to Graves-Fitzsimmons:

“Americans aren’t rejecting God, they’re rejecting harmful religion….

“Religion in America looks little like the Golden Rule and much more like Westboro Baptist Church.”

The reason for withdrawal from organized religion is that the religious right has established themselves “as the only legitimate religious voice.” The media incessantly reports on their activism so it appears to be the only religion. The rejection of people for fundamentalist Christianity furthers the belief that it is the only Christian belief. Progressive Christians then shy away from being identified with religion because of its negative perspective from conservatives.

“Progressive people of faith have been on the front lines of the racial justice, environmental justice and immigration justice movements,” writes Graves-Fitzsimmons. The media no longer views these movements as Christian in the way that they view anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-women’s rights.

The right-wing group in religion and all other matters proudly call themselves “conservatives,” but they are the opposite from this philosophy. Conservation is preserving natural resources and heritage. Yet today’s conservatives are determined to destroy the planet, history, and human rights. They should be called destructionists.

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