Nel's New Day

November 30, 2017

History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

In 1926, Calvin Coolidge’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, one of the world’s richest men, pushed through a massive tax cut that would substantially contribute to the causes of the Great Depression. Republican Sen. George Norris of Nebraska said that Mellon himself would reap from the tax bill “a larger personal reduction [in taxes] than the aggregate of practically all the taxpayers in the state of Nebraska.” The same is true now of Donald Trump, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other fabulously rich people.

During the 1920s, Republicans almost literally worshiped business. “The business of America,” Coolidge proclaimed, “is business.” Coolidge also remarked that, “The man who builds a factory builds a temple,” and “the man who works there worships there.” That faith in the Market as God has been the Republican religion ever since. A few months after he became president in 1981, Ronald Reagan praised Coolidge for cutting “taxes four times” and said “we had probably the greatest growth in prosperity that we’ve ever known.” Reagan said nothing about what happened to “Coolidge Prosperity” a few months after he left office.

In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for “bold, persistent experimentation” and said: “It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” The contrasting position of Republicans then and now is: Take the method and try it. If it fails, deny its failure and try it again. And again. And again.

When Bill Clinton proposed a modest increase in the top marginal tax rate in his 1993 budget, every Republican voted against it. Trickle-down economists proclaimed that it would lead to economic disaster. But the tax increase on the wealthy was followed by one of the greatest periods of prosperity in American history and resulted in a budget surplus. When the Republicans came back into power in 2001, the administration of George W. Bush pushed the opposite policies, which had invariably produced calamity in the past. Predictably, that happened again in 2008.

Just how disastrous would the proposed reincarnation of the failed Republican trickle-down policies of the past be for the American people and the future of the nation? A few ways:

  • Repealing the estate tax, or, as Republicans have dubbed it, the “death tax.” But the estate tax is not a tax on the dead; it is a tax on their heirs. Repeal would reverse an important aspect of the American Revolution and establish an American hereditary aristocracy. If your estate is not above $11 million, your benefits from this portion of the GOP’s tax cut will be a nice round number: zero.
  • Eliminating deductions for state and local taxes. The GOP has called these deductions favoritism for people who live in high-tax states. In fact, ending deductibility of state and local taxes would tax income that has already been taxed away from a taxpayer. It is, quite simply, double taxation.
  • Repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which assures that wealthy people who hire accountants to find all the obscure ways to avoid taxes cannot escape taxation altogether. Repealing it would save Trump millions.
  • Extending the “pass-through” provision to noncorporate businesses, including some 500 entities Trump owns. It would allow the owners of these businesses to pay taxes at 25 percent, instead of 39.9 percent. This provision would allow Wall Street fund managers, among other very wealthy people, to pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans pay.
  • Ending the deductibility of large medical expenses.
  • Taxing waived tuition for college students, ending deductibility for student loan payments, and even disallowing teachers from deducting what they spend on school supplies for their students.
  • Ending the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would cause 13 million Americans to lose health insurance and result in much higher premiums for those who do get insurance through the exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that, if enacted, the Republican tax bill may force deep cuts in Medicare through a generally unknown budget rule that its deficits would trigger.

The analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that people making less than $100,000 a year (approximately 80 percent of American households) will have their taxes increased while the millionaires and billionaires will make off like bandits.

In the 1920s, Republicans were in full control of the federal government and used that power to pursue their objective to “make the well-to-do prosperous.” It didn’t “leak through on those below.” In that decade, the mass-production American economy became dependent on mass consumption. For it to work, the masses need a sufficient share of the national income to be able to consume what is being produced.

Republican policies in the ’20s instead pushed to concentrate more of the income at the top. Nine decades later, Republicans are rushing to do it again — and they are sprinting toward an economic cliff. Another round of Government of the People, by the Republicans, for the super-rich will be catastrophic. The American people must call a halt before it’s too late.

Thank you, Mr. McElvaine

The deliberate $1.5 trillion deficit, tacked on to the massive deficits from George W. Bush’s wars and tax cuts, hobbles future generations. Instead of cutting back the deficit, the GOP is following the lead of a man who bragged that “I’m the king of debt.” DDT said, “I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out … you go back and you say, ‘Hey, guess what? The economy crashed. I’m going to give you back half.’” The king of debt made money cheating workers and retired people by refusing to pay them and declaring bankruptcies while he took all the cream for himself. He plans to continue the practice for all the people in the United States, for example anyone with Treasury bonds who will get only half of their investment back if he gets his way.

DDT claims he will “make America great again,” but he is turning the nation into a place where people are leaving instructions to send their ashes to Republicans who vote to literally kill them. Zoey Salsbury has created a popular website for people who may die without healthcare or Medicare. (The tax bill cuts $25 billion from that healthcare program). She provides information about how to mail cremains to the congressional member of choice, suggesting that packages be sent to legislators’ district offices because the Capitol may block them, and offers assistance in writing wills to for this process.

DDT is gaining his own vision of the United States, a place where he can take at least $1 billion for his personal gain from the bottom half of the population.

November 28, 2017

WaPo Outs O’Keefe, DDT Hides

A characteristic of fascism is to destroy a free press, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has obsessed with getting rid of the First Amendment through his term “fake news” for media outlets except Fox since he went on the campaign trail. The greatest fake news, however, comes from the far right, for example James O’Keefe, head of the falsely named Project Veritas, that led the destruction of ACORN and the smearing of Planned Parenthood which have helped hundreds of millions of people.

The latest destructive attempt from O’Keefe was designed to protect alleged pedophile Roy Moore and directed at the Washington Post.  Jaime T. Phillips, 41, told one of the newspaper’s reporters that Moore helped her get an abortion after he made her pregnant when she was 15. In her meetings with different reporters, she repeatedly asked them to promise her that her story would keep Moore from being elected.

Professional journalists, however, tend to check out stories before they are published, and these reporters looked into the information that she gave them. Phillips said she had lived in Alabama for only one summer and decided to go public after she saw the news while she worked at NFM Lending in Westchester (NJ). But her cellphone had an Alabama prefix, and NFM has no offices in Westchester County. Phillips used a Georgia driver’s license when she was asked for identification. The reporter asked Phillips about a web GoFundMe site that stated:

“I’m moving to New York! I’ve accepted a job to work in the conservative media movement to combat the lies and deceipt of the liberal MSM. I’ll be using my skills as a researcher and fact-checker to help our movement. I was laid off from my mortgage job a few months ago and came across the opportunity to change my career path.”

Phillips said that a job with the Daily Caller had fallen through and that her interviewer there was Kathy Johnson. The Daily Caller’s executive editor, Paul Conner, said that no one by that name works there and that no other top editors had interviewed her. (Below: WaPo reporter Stephanie McCrummen, left, interviews Jaime Phillips. Credit Dalton Bennett/The Washington Post) 

The GoFundMe site has been erased, and reporters saw her going to the New York offices of the organization that sets up “stings” for false cover stories and doctored videos to lie about different groups.

Project Veritas had posted a request on its Facebook page in March for twelve “undercover reporters,” and a posting for the “journalist” job warned that the job “is not a role for the faint of heart.” The job’s listed goal: “To adopt an alias persona, gain access to an identified person of interest and persuade that person to reveal information.” Required tasks include “Learning a script,” “Preparing a background story to support your role,” “Gaining an appointment or access to the target of the investigation,” and “Operating concealed recording equipment.”

Staff at Project Veritas are involved a variety of criminal charges. Mississippi and Utah stripped the group of a license to raise money in those states because it failed to disclose O’Keefe’s conviction on state applications. A Veritas employee, former television producer Robert J. Halderman, was sentenced to six months in jail in 2010 after he was accused of trying to blackmail late-night host David Letterman. O’Keefe has pleaded guilty to entering a government office under false pretenses in an attempt to bug then-Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) congressional office, tried to lure a female CNN reporter onto a boat filled with sex toys and seduce the reporter in a “sting,” and was forced to pay a former video target $100,000. DDT’s campaign used O’Keefe’s highly edited videos in a false claim that the election was rigged against DDT. (James O’Keefe, left)

The Trump Foundation donated $10,000 to Project Veritas.

O’Keefe has admitted to Phillips’ scam, saying that the “investigative journalist” had her “cover blown.” Yesterday, he released a video “inside the Washington Post” with WaPo employees talking about how the editorial section opposes DDT and how DDT is good for business. No news there.

False stories about Moore and the WaPo have come from other sources. The conservative Gateway Pundit reported that a reporter offered a woman $1,000 to accuse Roy Moore although WaPo doesn’t pay people for information. An Alabama pastor claimed a reporter was looking for women “willing to make damaging remarks” about Moore for money. No one associated with The Post made any such call. A man claiming to be a WaPo reporter offered up to $7,000 if they were “willing to make damaging remarks” about Moore.

The victor in this sordid story is the journalism that works to write the truth. James O’Keefe won’t quit, but the journalists will continue to fact-check their stories as long as a fascist regime doesn’t completely take over the United States.

The losers are the women who are trying to tell the world about the sexual assault and sexual harassment that they suffer. This farce creates doubt for brave people who talk about what they endure from those in power who think that they can sexually force themselves on anyone.

The tragedy is that some powerful men still escape even if the women are credible. Sixteen women have come forward to report sexual assault and/or harassment by the man inaugurated as the United States president. These are their stories.

  • Jessica Leeds (1970s): DDT grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt while he sat next to her on an airplane. “He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere.”
  • Kristin Anderson (early 1990s): DDT put his hand up her skirt and touched her genitals at a Manhattan nightclub; she had never met him.
  • Jill Harth (1993): DDT sexually assaulted her in his daughter Ivanka’s bedroom.
  • Lisa Boyne (mid-1990s): DDT made women walk across a table in front of him and “stuck his head right underneath their skirts.” He commented on their genitals and whether they were wearing underwear.
  • Cathy Heller (1997): DDT tried to forcibly kiss her while he was married to Marla Maples.
  • Temple Taggart (1997): DDT forcibly kissed her and other Miss USA Pageant candidates.
  • Karena Virginia (1998): DDT approached her at the US Open, made sexual comments about her body, and groped her. He said, “Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know who I am?”
  • Tasha Dixon (2001): DDT came into the contests’ dressing room; the former Miss Arizona said the girls were either topless or naked. In 2005, DDT bragged about doing it and said, “I sort of get away with things like that.”
  • Mindy McGillivray (2003): DDT groped her while she was helping photograph a Ray Charles concert at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Rachel Crooks (2005): DDT “kissed me directly on the mouth” when she was a 22-year-old receptionist in Trump Tower.
  • Natasha Stoynoff (2005): DDT was “pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat: after taking her into a room with Melania Trump waiting outside. She was interviewing DDT for People magazine.
  • Jessica Drake (mid-2000s): DDT “grabbed” her and two other women and kissed them “without asking permission” and then offered her $10,000 and use of his plane if she would come back to his room.
  • Ninni Laaksonen (2006): DDT groped the former Miss Finland when she was preparing for a TV appearance.
  • Samantha Holvey (2006): DDT lined up contestants when she was Miss North Carolina so he could step “in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people.”
  • Summer Zervos (2007): DDT met with the a contestant on The Apprentice about getting a job at the Trump Tower, greeted her with an “open-mouthed” kiss, groped her breast, and, as she attempted to push him off, “thrusted his genitals” against her. She has filed a defamation lawsuit against DDT.
  • Cassandra Searles (2013): DDT “grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room” as he treated Miss USA competitors “like cattle.”

This list doesn’t include the woman who initiated a lawsuit for rape when she was only 13 years old. She dropped the suit after threats against her, according to her attorneys. A court deposition and Harry Hurt III’s 1993 book, Lost Tycoon, describes DDT’s violent rape of Ivana Trump, his wife at the time and mother of Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka. DDT’s lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, said that a man cannot rape his spouse.

A tape from Access Hollywood describes DDT’s assaults in his own words. When the tape was first released, DDT admitted it was true, but now he claims that the video is not authentic. The program stands behind its authenticity. DDT also tries to hide from his assaults by saying that some of the women are too ugly for him to attack.

As long as DDT hides in his Oval Office, the United States will continue its culture of sexual assault.

November 27, 2017

December – GOP Breaking Point

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:23 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With 15 days of work left before their holiday hiatus at the end of December, Congress may face a far more difficult task than in September unless they shuffle everything down the pike, as they did two months ago. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Republicans have more than a full plate for its few working days.

Government shutdown: The lights in the government go off on December 8 without further action on the spending bill. Spending caps cause trouble for this bill, so House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) may float another short-term bill, something that the Republicans lambasted Democrats for doing before the GOP was in power. The 2011 Budget Control Act set 2018 caps which will automatically go into effect in January without a deal to raise them. No legislation has been written, and the Senate needs at least 60 votes, meaning at least eight Democrats.

Without a change in the law, defense programs get only $549 billion, and nondefense programs are limited to $516. DDT and the GOP haws want over $600 billion for defense, and Democrats want the same increase in nondefense spending.

CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program for nine million children and 370,000 pregnant women in poverty expired at the end of September, and funding may end up in the December spending bill. The program is running out of money for the first time since it was created two decades ago.  The expenditure of $15 billion for CHIP is vital for preventative health care, but families are already receiving notice that their children can no longer have this coverage.

DACA: The deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, allowing some undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to work and attend school without fear of deportation, isn’t until March, but Democrats may force the issue as part of the spending bill.

Tax cuts: At least 50 GOP senators must sign off on a bill that increasingly gouges people the poorer they are. Then the bill has to go to the House which either signs off on it or creates its own version and then sends it back to the Senate for approval. At least eight GOP senators don’t like the bill, each for his own reason, but they may end up caving in because donors are insisting that the GOP Congress do SOMETHING! Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to repeal with healthcare individual mandate, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) oppose that part of it because the loss of the mandate may destabilize health care markets. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) refuses to vote in favor of the bill unless he gets more perks for his personal small business. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are leading the charge in opposing the $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit.

To keep the vote for tax cuts to a simple majority, the increase in deficit can be no more than $1.5 billion. As senators consider tweaks to keep some of the reluctant GOP senators in line, the deficit goes up, requiring that other cuts be made. One suggestion is to just eliminate all the cuts for individuals—not businesses—in the bill’s final year.

The popularity of the tax cut bill is going down and may shrink even more with the Congressional Budget Office report that poor people are hurt even worse than previously thought. People making less than $30,000 a year could be worse off by 2019, and those earning $40,000 will be losers by 2021. By 2027, most people earning less than $75,000 are worse off. In addition, the increase in health insurance premiums will take four million people off any plans by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The rest of the people, 38 percent of the population, will keep getting tax cuts. The chart below indicates the amount that the government will reap from different salary groups—for example, the group of people making under $10,000 will pay an additional $1,540,000,000 whereas those making over $1 million a year will gain $34,100,000,000. The negative sign before the amount means less revenue for the government and shows that the poor pay for the rich.

FISA: Without a bill, this surveillance program expires at the end of the year, but bipartisan opposition to a “clean” renewal of warrantless spying comes from those who believe in privacy. At this time, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act permits the government to collect emails and texts from foreign spies, terrorists, and other overseas foreign targets without warrants. Proposals have been cleared by the House Judiciary Committee and Senate Intelligence Committee, but neither has gone to a floor vote. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has pledged opposition because it violates the Fourth Amendment.

Flood Insurance: The House has passed its version of reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program, renewing it for five years, updating federal flood mapping requirements, and bolstering a new private flood insurance market. The Senate, however, has made no plans to address the House bill. The NFIP is $25 billion in debt.

Emergency disaster aid: The $44 billion package for Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands is too small, according to some Republicans from Texas, although it’s added to another $50 billion. Conservatives will demand that cuts elsewhere pay for the $44 billion. The budget from DDT goes only to these places for hurricane relief; DDT has offered not one cent to the Western states ravaged by wildfires.

Iran: The 60-day deadline after DDT’s October statement that the nation is not in compliance with the agreement comes in December. Leading Republican senators want to keep the deal but pass legislation to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons after the deal expires. DDT will need to waive sanctions to keep the nuclear pact intact.

All these decisions are set against the background of ethics proceedings for continuing sexual assault and harassment accusations and a December 12 election to determine whether Roy Moore joins the Senate. Rep. Al Green (D-TX) has promised to force a vote to impeach DDT before the end of 2017.

In The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza writes that December is the make or break time for DDT:

“Year one is when Presidents usually make their mark[.] By the second year, a President’s legislative agenda becomes complicated by the hesitancy of members of Congress to take risky votes as midterm elections approach, particularly if a President is unpopular. The math is stark: on average, modern Presidents have historically lost thirty House seats and four Senate seats in their first midterm elections. Trump’s first year has been different. He has a record low approval rating. He is mired in scandal. [And] he looks like a President in his eighth year rather than one in his first. … He is unique among modern Presidents in that he has no significant legislative accomplishments to show for ten months after taking office.”

What’s missing from this list of must-dos? Restricting bump stocks or closing the domestic violence loopholes in the gun laws.

November 26, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-four – His Struggles

Conservative media is working to get rid of special investigator Robert Mueller by trying to tie him to the Uranium deal. Mueller, however, just keeps plugging along with his investigation into Russia and people surrounding Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Some of Mueller’s progress:

Lawyers for Michael Flynn will no longer share information with DDT’s legal team, indicating that Flynn might be sharing with Mueller. Flynn may soon flip on DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. To rumors that Kushner is considering a return to his home in New York City, says he’s staying. (Others who said they were staying didn’t last long.)

For the first time since Mueller started, the investigation, he has told the DOJ to turn over a broad array of documents, especially emails related to DDT’s firing former FBI director James Comey and AG Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia matter.

DDT has fired U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana Boente who also served as the acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ National Security Division. Boente witnessed DDT applying pressure on former FBI director James Comey about the Russian investigation before he was also fired, according to Comey, and may testify against DDT in an obstruction case. In addition, Boente was in a position to refuse to fire Mueller if DDT hadn’t fired him.

Kushner had told investigators that he knew of no contacts between DDT’s campaign and WikiLeaks, but new evidence indicates that Donald Trump Jr. told Kushner about his exchange of messages with WikiLeaks.

DDT’s tweets may force the government to reveal more information about the privately compiled dossier about DDT’s ties to Russia if a judge decides in the investigators’ favor. A Freedom of Information request has used DDT’s tweets demanding that information about the dossier be made public.

A fascinating overview of Mueller’s progress.

More bad news for DDT:

Leandra English, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is suing DDT and budget director Mike Mulvaney because of DDT’s naming Mulvaney as CFPB acting director in opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called DDT a moron, and now five sources said that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Oracle CEO Safra Catz that DDT is an idiot and dope. McMaster also said that DDT has the intelligence of a “kindergartner.” Plus DDT’s economic advisor Gary Cohn faked a bad phone connection to get off the phone from DDT.

An unsubstantiated attack on Hillary Clinton’s charitable foundation led to the way that DDT used his own charitable money for a personal slush fund with proof from the foundation’s own official documents. DDT lied about what he had done, and now he wants to shut down the foundation that had assets of almost $1 million after his election. Shutting down the charity, however, won’t happen until New York stops its investigation that may keep going. The latest revelation in a tax filing is that one of DDT’s golf courses reimbursed over $158,000 to the foundation that it borrowed to settle a lawsuit against the club.

DDT claimed a successful Asia trip because Japan would buy U.S. “jet fighters,” but the Pentagon has not notified Congress of any possible sale, required before negotiations begin. Japan has also denied DDT’s claims. DDT had made the same lie about Finland and falsely bragged about lowering the prices of the new Air Force One and the F-35 fighter jets.

Two DDT campaign promises were to double coal jobs and do away with regulations. In the past ten months, coal jobs have gone up three percent to 51,900. The disappearance of safety regulations has doubled the number of fatal accidents for workers new to a mine thus far this year—fourteen instead of seven in a 100-percent increase. More bad news for DDT is that building and running new renewable energy is cheaper than running existing coal and nuclear plans in many places. Cost for utility scale solar and wind power dropped six percent in North America last year while coal stayed flat and nuclear power cost soared.

The Information Quality Act, an obscure 2000 law passed as a rider to an appropriations bill, requires agencies to disseminate only objective and high-quality information. The public can challenge information that doesn’t fit these criteria. The original purpose was to restrict regulations through blocking scientific information, but the its use calls attention to false information and forces the government to defend its releases, weakening agencies from using that information in political debates, court cases, etc. The Democracy Forward Foundation is arguing that two claims by the Treasury Department are inaccurate one that the proposed tax cuts would save the average taxpayer between $4000 and $9000 and the other that 70 percent of the corporate tax burden falls on workers. The Foundation backs up their claims that both of these statements are false in their 10-page letter. The next steps can be the arguments that humans do not contribute to or accelerate climate change.

Approximately a dozen U.S. State Department officials are formally accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law, the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act, intended to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers. In June, Tillerson excluded Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from the U.S. list of offenders in the use of child soldiers although the department knew that children were being conscripted in those countries. His decision was against unanimous recommendations of regional bureaus in the Middle East and Asia, U.S. envoys on Afghanistan and Pakistan, his department’s human rights office, and its in-house lawyers.

Once again, Kellyanne Conway broke a federal law, this time coming out against the Democratic candidate for Alabama senator in an official interview. Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, filed a formal complaint based on the Hatch Act, blocking federal employees from “affecting the result of an election.”

DDT’s tweets this week:

  • About lack of credit for freeing LiAngelo Ball from a Chinese jail: “IT WAS ME.” And lots more about the gratitude that DDT demands for doing his job. The day before Thanksgiving on the 54th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, DDT demanded that LaVar Ball bow down and be thankful that he didn’t leave LaVar’s son in a Chinese jail. DDT’s free tweets provided $13 million dollars in advertising for Big Baller Brand.
  •  About a dead border patrol agent possibly from an accident: “we must build the Wall.” (Very different reaction from exoneration for a man who “accidentally” killed a neighbor after sunset when hunting is illegal because he thought she was a deer. No problem.)
  • About DDT’s claim regarding Time “Person of the Year” award: “Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot.” Time says it didn’t happen. DDT’s statement unleashed a flood of parodies.
  • About his hatred for CNN: “@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN.” Norm Eisen, ethics chief for the Obama White House, noted that DDT’s tweets against CNN could be used against DOJ’s lawsuit blocking the AT&T and Warner merger if AT&T doesn’t sell CNN, which Rupert Murdoch wants to buy.

DDT has come out in support of GOP (Grand Old Pervert) Roy Moore in his candidacy for the senator from Alabama. “You have to listen to [Moore]” when he denies the allegations, DDT said. Although Republicans have loudly denounced Democrats for sexual harassment and sexual assault, 63 percent of the GOP don’t want DDT punished for his admitted sexual transgressions. DDT’s support of Moore in the December 12 election has increased his separation from the mainstream GOP. In a further attempt to separate himself from sexual assault claims, DDT is now denying that his was the voice in the Access Hollywood tapes from a year ago about grabbing women’s genitals. At that time, he confessed to it and apologized. Now he seems to be identifying with Roy Moore by stating that they both suffer from false accusations. Moore has been accused of sexual assault and/or harassment by nine women, DDT by 16, and both of them of raping teenage girls under the age of consent.

Approval ratings for DDT still register in the 30s, between 12 and 37 percent below all the presidents going back to Harry Truman.

November 25, 2017

DDT’s Appointment Bring Black Future

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for retail sales and crowded stores, the day in the year that retailers start to declare a profit. Yesterday, Black Friday, also represents the future if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) succeeds in transforming the United States into a dark nation through his male, conservative appointments. The grim backgrounds for DDT’s nominees would read like satire from the Onion of Andy Borowitz’s column in the New York Times if they weren’t real.

Thomas Brunell, DDT’s frontrunner for deputy director of the Census Bureau, may be the greatest stretch since non-scientist Sam Clovis took his name out of the running for top scientist at FDA. The country was saved from Clovis after he got caught up in the Robert Mueller special investigation of Russian collusion.

The decennial census, next scheduled for 2020, is the basis of elections and federal funding. Because the Census Director is in the Commerce Department, Brunell doesn’t need to be confirmed; he can just be named to rig elections. Why DDT would choose Brunell:

  • He testified a number of times in favor of GOP’s gerrymandering congressional districts.
  • He authored the book Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America. [Note that the subtitle shows the man who opposes competitive elections would be assigned to facilitating fair elections.]
  • He has no background in statistics. [DDT prefers people with no experience.]
  • He lacks any experience in managing a big organization.
  • He argued against expanded early voting because it “takes away from Election Day as a civic event.”

Alex Azar, nominated as a replacement for former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, comes from the U.S. branch of Eli Lilly, accused of colluding with other drug companies to control high prices for the life-saving drug insulin. In his campaign, DDT said, “The drug companies, frankly, are getting away with murder.” He has now appointed one of the killers to commit more slaughter. This statement might be taken literally. Azar was lobbyist for Lilly when they did not divulge that their painkiller Darvon was seriously addictive, its arthritis medication Oraflex caused at least 29 deaths in Europe, and the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa was not approved as an anti-dementia drug. Azar hates the Affordable Care Act and wants to gut Medicaid with block grants.

Kathleen Harnett White has had her hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. As a climate skeptic and fossil fuel champion, she has said that coal help end slavery. She led Texas to attempt to hide data on how much radiation was in drinking water. Her hearing last week didn’t go well. Asked whether heat makes water expand, she said, “I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman study of the ocean dynamics and the climate-change issues.”

Mitchell “Mick” Zais, nominated as deputy secretary of education, discounts the effectiveness of early education programs despite research showing their successes and wants to slash education budgets.

Rev. Jamie Johnson, appointed last April as head of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships in DDT’s DHS, is responsible for helping people aid needy populations. Johnson’s statements show that he hates the community he is assigned to serve:

  • He said that the black community has turned cities into “slums.”
  • He argued that Islam’s only contribution to society was “oil and dead bodies.”
  • He said that black people are anti-Semitic because they are jealous of Jewish people. According to Johnson, Jewish people are rich because they work, and black people are poor because they don’t.

Robert Phalen is one of Scott Pruitt’s new appointees to the EPA Scientific Advisory Board, which helps develop environmental policy. Pollution is not a problem for health, according to the man who also complained about modern air being too clean for health. He joins 16 other nominees include people from the oil industry and a chemical industry trade association. Phelan might find Hargin (Heilongjiang Province, China) to be better breathing for him.

DDT may get into hot water with his firing of Richard Cordray for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and appointing Mick Mulvaney for its director. When Cordray resigned, he named Leandra English, the agency’s chief of staff, as deputy director, leaving her in charge. DDT claims that the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 allows him to designate a Senate-confirmed official to perform the functions of a vacant position until a nominee can be confirmed to the office. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act creating the CFPB provides a line of succession, with the bureau’s deputy serving as acting director in the “absence or unavailability of the Director.” At other agencies—such as Office of Management and Budget, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Aviation Administration—Congress also provides that the deputy takes over a vacant leadership post. Former Rep. Barney Frank, co-creator of the Dodd-Frank Act, said the law was written to stop a president from naming an interim director. The Federal Housing Finance Agency already established a precedent to blocking a president from appointing an interim director of the CFPB.

Appointees to federal agencies can be dumped with a different administration, but judges are forever, and the election losses last month has caused the GOP to move forward even faster to confirm unqualified judges.

DDT is most likely getting names for his appointed judges from the Federalist Society because a majority of them have ties to the ultra conservative group with donors such as the Koch brothers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Recently, the Senate approved Steven Engel 51-47 as Assistant AG for the Office of Legal Counsel. The Human Rights Watch opposed Engel because he supported torture under George W. Bush. The only Republican to vote against Engel, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had promised to vote against any nominee who is in favor of torture.

GOP panic from elections earlier this month are a catalyst to move forward even faster to confirm unqualified judges. The Senate Judiciary Committee accepted both Greg Katsas for the DC Court of Appeals and Brett Talley for the Middle District of Alabama. They have supported the oppression of voting rights, and Katsas, who has been opposed by over 200 civil rights groups, stated that he “worked on the White House’s response to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election” and several other DDT issues such as DACA.

Talley, labeled unqualified by the American Bar Association, was a pro-DDT commentator, opposed gun safety laws, supports the dismantling of protection regulations, and expressed hostility toward civil rights laws. He is also a ghost hunter with a cult following for his paranormal writings. The fourth judicial nominee judged “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, Talley has never tried a case so he fits DDT’s requirement of “no experience,” but he referred to a former presidential candidate on his public Twitter account as “Hillary Rotten Clinton.” In addition, he supports armed revolution against government and pledge his total support to the NRA immediately following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In his opening statement before the committee, Talley said that he probably wouldn’t be there except for his wife. He’s right although he didn’t explain, even when asked if any family members might pose a conflict of interest. His wife, Ann Donaldson, is the chief of staff to Don McGahn, White House Counsel. She also appeared as a witness to the investigation of whether DDT obstructed justice.

During President Obama’s last two years in office, Republicans refused to consider his nominations, leaving vacant not only one Supreme Court position but also 103 other judicial openings. In the next year, DDT may add 650 lifetime members to the federal judiciary—twice as many as President Obama did in eight years. By next year, one in eight cases in federal court will be heard by a DDT-picked judge, and some of these will last another 30 years.

In their desperation for control and lack of concern for Senate rules, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is ignoring the “blue slip” rule allowing home-state senators to object to the worst nominees. Grassley had promised the former committee chair, Pat Leahy (D-VT), that he would honor the rule just as Leahy had for Republicans, even if their only reason was partisan. Leahy said about Grassley, “I trust him to keep his word.” Now Grassley says he will keep his word for district court nominees, but evidently not for appellate court nominees.

In addition to highly conservative, unqualified choices, DDT has displayed a remarkable lack of racial and gender diversity in his choices. Of the 58 DDT nominees for lifetime positions, 53 are white, three are Asian American, one is Hispanic, and one is black. Forty-seven are men, and eleven are women. The future of a multi-cultural society will be judged and ruled by white conservative males who are open bigots and misogynists, many of them with little experience, who oppose women, minorities, and LGBTQ people. Their contempt for the legal process matches DDT’s contempt for the presidency.

More appointments here. And here.

DDT did slip up on one nominee who sounded rational in his confirmation hearing. Dr. Dean Winslow, appointed as the Pentagon’s top health official, answered a question by saying how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy … a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which apparently was the weapon that was used [in Texas].” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain quickly covered for DDT and muzzled Winslow by saying to the experienced medical professional about a position as a health official, “Dr. Winslow, I don’t think that’s in your area of responsibility or expertise.” Winslow’s position on the relationship between guns and public health may be enough to disqualify him among Republicans.

November 21, 2017

FCC Actions Lead to Totalitarian Government

Filed under: Net neutrality — trp2011 @ 10:53 PM

Two federal agencies, each headed by appointees by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and approved by Republicans, are planning to control information available to people in the United States.

The Department of Justice claims that it is protecting consumers from antitrust problems in its attempts to block a $85.4 billion takeover of CNN parent company Time Warner by AT&T. The world’s biggest telecommunications provider wants to merge with the world’s third-biggest entertainment firm, and the DOJ is demanding that AT&T sell Turner Broadcasting which owns CNN. The DOJ claims that the merger will increase television bills and give fewer innovative options. Behind the scenes, however, is a revenge move by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) toward a network that he decries as “fake news.”

Washington Post lists reasons to be suspicious about the DOJ’s decision:

  • The lawsuit doesn’t fit with DDT’s boosting big business, and the loss of net neutrality goes along with DDT’s lack of interest in supporting consumers.
  • Makan Delrahim, head of the antitrust division, didn’t see a problem with the merger until after DDT disapproved of it. Delrahim was appointed to his current position after he spent six months in the White House and managed Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.
  • Lawsuits such as the DOJ one against AT&T have never succeeded because they are two different types of companies.
  • Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox network, may have an interest in purchasing CNN. Forcing a sale would make it easier.
  • DDT hates CNN. He’s called them “horrible human beings,” shared a video portraying himself as a professional wrestler attacking CNN, and constantly lies about what they won’t film while they’re filming it—such as the size of a crowd. Earlier this year, Jared Kushner met with a top Time Warner executive to tell him that 20 percent of CNN’s staff should be fired because of the way they covered the 2016 election. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote that DDT “is behaving again like a tin-pot dictator, trying to punish a media company that has dared to cover him honestly, aggressively and accurately.” And DDT’s constant remarks and tweets against CNN may damage any DOJ court case.

Ironically, a successful outcome to the lawsuit for DOJ could lead to the inability of big business to create monopolies through mergers in the future.

Another attempt to control the news is the loss of net neutrality. In a plan from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), providers of high-speed internet services such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T would be able to block websites and charge companies for speedier delivery. FCC would permit broadband companies to monitor and control users, for example giving discounts for permission to monitor browsing history and force users to their own apps by exempting them from mobile data limits. AT&T would greatly benefit from the disappearance of net neutrality by permission to promote its new content with a merger with an entertainment company. The beneficiaries of FCC’s proposed ruling against net neutrality are white men owning big telecom companies and broadcasting stations who want to control the media. The FCC claims that dropping net neutrality is good for consumers, but broadband companies have expanded infrastructure primarily in high-income areas for high profits. Low-income and rural areas won’t give them large returns, and they aren’t going to change their policies.

The possibility that Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC will dump net neutrality caused 21 million web users to send comments last summer in protest. Groups such as Free Press and Demand Progress organized online rallies to support net neutrality, and tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google strongly supported net neutrality. Bulk downloads opposing net neutrality led Pai to ignore all the supporting comments, and the FCC then refused a public records request to investigate the legitimacy of the comments. AT&T claimed the most “legitimate” net neutrality comments requested repeal, but a study showed that 98.5 percent of individually written net neutrality comments support the current net neutrality rules. Pai said that he doesn’t care about the pro-neutrality comments.

Another part of Pai’s plan is to stop classifying telecom giants as utilities which stops the FCC from prohibiting such practices as blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Enforcement of broadband companies would move to the Federal Trade Commission, a far more limited agency than the FCC. It would need to prove that telecom giants are being deceptive and could not issue fines in many situations.

Pai also intends to keep states from setting their own regulations counter to federal rules. He calls broadband an interstate information service. Any FCC ruling against net neutrality will certainly end up in court. Last year, a challenge from telecom companies and trade groups against net neutrality guidelines lost in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The FCC also voted last week to allow one corporation to own the local newspaper plus every commercial TV station in a town. The 1996 Telecommunications Act permitted a handful of corporations to own thousands of radio stations, and now the FCC is giving that permission to television. With a 3-2 vote, the FCC repealed a rule preventing one company in a media market from owning both a daily newspaper and a TV station. The same vote removed rules restricting the number of the number of TV and radio stations owned by a media company in one market as well as dropping the requirement that broadcasters operate a physical studio in markets where they are licensed.

The FCC has excuses, but their reason is that the highly conservative Sinclair Broadcasting (think far right of the Fox network) wants to deliver propaganda to 72 percent of homes in the United States. That’s “fake news.”

Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA) addressed Pai’s agenda against consumers and small businesses in an FCC oversight hearing last summer:

“Chairman Pai, in the time that you have been head of this agency, we have seen an agenda that is anti-consumer, anti-small business, anti-competition, anti-innovation, and anti-opportunity.”

For the record, Doyle listed some of Pai’s decisions: ending a net neutrality investigation into “anti-competitive zero-rating practices” by AT&T and Verizon Wireless; creating difficulties for low-income people to get broadband subsidies; and easing the process for large TV broadcasters’ mergers.

One of the first steps toward a totalitarian government is control of the press. DDT has been railing against the press since he began his campaign for president whenever they printed factual information that he didn’t like. He has threatened to create laws to stop negative reporting about him and takes pride in watching only the Fox network that consistently panders to him. DDT is so secretive about his actions that most of it comes only through leaks and other countries’ media. For example, the news about a long telephone conversation between Putin and DDT was first released by the Kremlin via Russia’s state media, not news sources in the United States. The FCC is giving DDT the opportunity to spread positive propaganda about him across the nation through newspapers and television while restricting information on the internet.

Retaliation against CNN can also make other news outlets more cautious so that they won’t be the next DDT targets. Just one case can poison honest journalism in the United States.

While the media obsessively focuses everyone’s attention on victims of sexual assault by politicians and famous entertainment figures in events past and present, it ignores the greatest threat to people in the United States in 2017—consumers’ loss of access to news. The media needs to shift its focus to save our democracy.

November 20, 2017

Tax cuts: The GOP Has to Do Something!

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 11:16 PM
Tags: , ,

The U.S. public can give thanks this week because Congress can’t do any damage to us; they’ve all gone home for thanksgiving.  They’ll be back next week, however, when the Senate takes up the House bill that raises taxes on everyone except the wealthy and corporations. Even the conservative publication Forbes thinks that congressional tax “reform” is crazy: it has published a piece called “GOP Tax Bill Is the End Of All Economic Sanity In Washington.”

“There’s no economic justification whatsoever for a tax cut at this time. U.S. GDP is growing, unemployment is close to 4 percent (below what is commonly considered “full employment”), corporate profits are at record levels and stock markets are soaring. It makes no sense to add any federal government-induced stimulus to all this private sector-caused economic activity, let alone a tax cut as big as this one. This is actually the ideal time for Washington to be doing the opposite….

“The GOP’s insanity is compounded by its moving ahead without having any idea of what this policy will actually do to the economy. The debates in the Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees and on the House floor all took place before the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis and, if it really exists, the constantly-promised-but-never-seen report from the Treasury on the economics of this tax bill.”

On CNN, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney promised that “the president is not going to sign a bill that raises taxes on the middle class, period.” Yet this is what the Senate tax bill does.

 

Information about tax cuts keeps trickling out with these disasters after this post on Nels New Day. Gone are tax credits for plug-in motor vehicles, deductions for medical expenses and moving expenses, write-offs for tax preparation, most tax benefits for college in student loans and tuition waivers for graduate students, deductions for theft or loss of valuables—even in wildfires. Although low-income housing keeps its small subsidy, the bill ends the tax-free status of bonds for financing and repair, which has the same affect as dropping the subsidy. Affected by this loss are all private enterprises serving the public interest such as airports and waste disposal facilities.

A huge drawback to the GOP tax bill is that it continues to move manufacturing offshore. The bill allows manufacturers to pay nothing to the U.S. for its products. CEOs won’t bring foreign profits into the U.S. when their taxes are based on the country where factories are located. The GOP fantasy is that these companies will invest in U.S. jobs. They have not done this in the past, and they have blatantly said they won’t do it with the proposed tax bill. The 15 corporations benefitting most from the 2004 tax holiday cut over 20,000 jobs and reduced their research spending.

A basic GOP premise of tax cuts is to punish blue states and reward red states that already get back more than they pay in federal taxes. The punitive measures come from curtailing or eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and dropping the home mortgage interest deduction. Congress also refuses to provide any assistance for the billions of dollars lost to wildfires in the West while giving tens of billions to Texas and Florida for help after hurricane damage. Puerto Rico, which can’t help Republicans win a presidency, will get funding but only through loans.

Republicans claim that dropping health insurance mandates from the Senate bill, but people who get subsidies will continue to buy the insurance. There will be no savings for the government.

Other losses in deductions:

  • Alimony: No longer deductible for decrees after 2017.
  • College boosters: No longer deductible if for eligibility in buying seats at games or preferences such as prime parking places.
  • Employee achievement awards.
  • Employer-provided housing: A cap of $50,000 salary.
  • Home sale gains: Qualification requires the home to be the primary home for five of the past eight years instead of two of the past five years.
  • Office day care center.
  • Rare disease research.
  • Stadium bonds (DDT promised to do this to the NFL).

Winners:

REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTSO7UI

  • Businesses because they receive three-fourths of the benefits.
  • Owners of jets and golf coursesThe savings on each of these are minimal compared to lost benefits, but it should keep Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) satisfied.
  • Churches that can campaign for political candidates.
  • Anti-abortion activists because people can name fetuses as beneficiaries of 529 college savings plans. The tax bill defines “child in utero” in personhood terms as “a member of the species of homo sapiens at any state of development, who is carried in the womb.” Law already covers the 529 accounts, but the bill throws the door open to making all abortion illegal.
  • Inheritors for 5,500 estates that drops not only tax on the estate but also on any capital gains on inherited taxes until they are sold.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tries to convince the people that the new plan is “fair” and “simple” because taxes can be filed on a postcard. Yet the card has no instructions on the card to explain what should be put in a line—i.e., what is a savings plan?—and even asks for the Social Security number to be put on the back of a card that gets put into the mail, available for anyone to see it. And people pay more taxes.

VP Mike Pence sounded sincere when he lied to a Wall Street CEO gathering. He claimed that workers could keep more of their money (false) and companies are incentivized to bring jobs back to the United States (false). Instead of eliminating loopholes, the tax bill leaves them only for the wealthy. According to Ivanka Trump, people can use their tax cuts to hire a tutor to teach their children the Mandarin Chinese language. Gary Cohn, DDT’s multi-millionaire economic advisor, cheerfully claimed that people can use their $1,000 in tax cuts for remodeling the kitchen or buying a new car.

Bruce Bartlett, an expert in supply-side economics serving under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, said, “There has never been a tax cut in American history in which taxes were raised on the poor to benefit the wealthy. I don’t know of any other country that has done anything remotely like this.” After 1986 tax cuts, wages fell for ten years. Most Republicans have no answer for the failure of tax cuts although Mulvaney tried to explain that the world is different now.

When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent in 1993, the economy boomed. It created 23 million jobs and grew the economy for 32 straight quarters, at that time the longest expansion in history.

According to a Quinnipiac poll, only 25 percent of people like the GOP tax plan, and only 16 percent think it will reduce their taxes. Thirty-five percent expect their taxes to increase. Only 24 percent say it will help the middle class the most, while 61 percent think that the wealthy benefits most.

This photo shows the GOP position toward tax cuts that take money away from most of the people to benefit the wealthy. The “King of Foreclosure” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his ultra-wealthy wife admire new bills with his name emblazoned on it.

The Republicans have only one reason to destroy the U.S. economy with their tax cuts: get their donors back. If they don’t pass something, nobody will fund their campaigns. In their reality, better to pander to donors than help the hundreds of millions of people in the United States.

The Senate tax bill has differences from the House bill that may cause trouble when Congress returns next week. Three defectors to the tax bill will sink it. Here’s a partial score card of concerned senators:

  • Susan Collins (ME): She opposes dropping the health care mandate, the “biggest mistake,” because it causes insurance premiums to drastically rise.
  • Ron Johnson (WI): A conservative, he owns a small business and wants more perks for it. His demand will increase the deficit and take the amount into an area 60 instead of 50 votes.
  • Bob Corker (TN) and Jeff Flake (AZ): They don’t like the $1.5 trillion—or more—deficit.
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK): She also doesn’t like dropping the individual mandate but said that “one should not assume this is a precondition for my support for the tax bill.” She likes the Arctic oil drilling in the bill.
  • Rand Paul (KY): He might back out without the repeal of the individual mandate.

It’s all a crap shoot; in the meantime we have Thanksgiving.

November 19, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-Three – Democracy Threatened

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his minions, and the GOP daily threaten democracy in the United States.The most egregious action from the past week—and certainly one of the least known—may be the trial against over 150 of the 217 protesters arrested during the January 2017 presidential inauguration. They each face 60 years in prison for breaking less than ten windows. (Rapists have received a sentence of six months in jail, and the minimum prison sentence is four years.)

Law enforcement “kettled”—scooped up—protesters, journalists, and legal observers without demanding that they disperse. Police extensively used pepper spray, concussion grenades, and stingers, even on already detained individuals, and kept people outdoors “for excessive periods of time” without access to food, water or bathrooms. Photojournalist Shay Horse said he was told to drop his pants and had his testicles “yanked on” before the officer “stuck his finger up each of our anuses and wiggled it around.” The rally in Charlottesville (VA), where white supremacists discharged firearms, produced no blanket felonies and conspiracies to riot although the white supremacists brutally beat a black man and killed a woman by driving a car into a crowd of counter protesters.

Jury selection began on November 15 for the first six protesters, and arguments start tomorrow. Judge Lynn Leibovitz in D.C. Superior Court said that guilty verdicts require proof that the person helped organize or incite the mayhem. For proof of conspiracy, DOJ uses typical protesting clothing, chanting, and other types of organization for all marches and protests. Two photojournalists are still charged with no knowledge of why they were not released with another seven journalists.

DOJ is also using taxpayer money to protect DDT in at least four lawsuits against his private businesses in DOJ’s defense of DDT’s unconstitutional decision not to divest himself from hundreds of companies that profit from foreign governments and officials.

Russia keeps haunting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee suspected that Jared Kushner is withholding emails from Donald Trump Jr.’s correspondence with WikiLeaks and asks Kushner for additional information. Missing documents include one document about a “Russian backdoor overture” and communications that a Russian-born businessman had sent the DDT campaign.
  • Special investigator Robert Mueller is further investigating Michael Flynn’s $15 million kidnapping plot with the help of Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who had been accused of money laundering.
  • White House Communications Director Hope Hicks will meet with Mueller’s investigators.
  • Stephen Miller, White House aide who drafted the memo urging the firing of former FBI director James Comey, has been identified as the “senior policy adviser” who George Papadopoulos referenced in coordinating a meeting between DDT and Vladimir Putin during DDT’s campaign. Documents show a possibility of obstruction of justice on Miller’s part. Miller wrote speeches for Jeff Sessions, who lied under oath to Congress about his Russian contacts during the campaign, and still works for the White House.
  • Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer’s data company that helped elect DDT, is in greater trouble after increased revelations about Russian connections. In early June 2016, the company contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; the first DDT campaign payment was dated July 29, 2016. The campaign paid almost $9 million to the firm. Timeline of known contacts as of a week ago.
  • For almost a year, Donald Trump Jr. exchanged tweets with Wikileaks and complied with some of their requests to disseminate Russian-created propaganda against Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT is paying $2.83 million to the former head of KGB counter-intelligence to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Moscow. A loyalist to Vladimir Putin, Viktor Budanov was once the former KGB officer’s boss. Budenov has worked with Kim Philby, a British defector to the USSR, and taught Bulgarian agents how to kill dissidents. 
  • DDT also praised Vladimir Putin, called past leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies as “political hacks,” and denied any Russian involvement in his election. Backlash, including angry words from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), led DDT to change his words, saying that he believed Putin meant what he said but also believed in the current intelligence agencies. DDT’s statements indicate that he may try to remove sanctions from Russia.
  • More problems for DDT come from his Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, earning him at least $13.9 million in the past three years, that is used for money laundering by international organized crime, including money from Russian gangsters and Colombian drug cartels.  Although DDT may not have attempted to promote criminal activity, he has done nothing to prevent it.

DDT’s trip to Asia was extremely successful—for him. China gave him preliminary approval for 38 trademarks including hotels, spas, escort and concierge services, massage parlors, personal security services, and insurance. These applications were pending since six months before DDT was elected. With no objection, the trademarks will be formally registered in 90 days.

The National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement are suing DDT for violating federal law in blocking the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rule requiring employers to report pay data broken down by sex and race.

DDT’s latest blow against the people he promised to protect is his FCC’s chair Ajit Pai’s decision to downgrade the Lifeline program allowing low-income people to get broadband internet access and other telecommunication access for a reduced cost. The FCC’s next step is to prevent telecom providers not operating their own network infrastructure from offering Lifeline-subsidized plans. Over 70 percent of wireless Lifeline customers lose not only their preferred plan but also any carrier. Pai’s former employer, AT&T, has already discriminated against low-income communities by failing to upgrade infrastructure. Big losers are the program’s enrollees in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico struggling back from devastating disasters, impoverished Native American people living on reservations, veterans who use Lifeline to find jobs and health care, and low-income elderly who need access to technological communications as well as children who no longer have access to the internet for their schoolwork.

DDT is making more money for Wall Street with his “wall.” Stock Value for Sterling, the one publicly-held company of the six chosen to build prototypes, has seen its stock increase by 65 percent in less than three months since it was chosen to develop the prototype. DDT has promised to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for his wall.

Breaking a tradition of almost two decades, DDT will not greet the eight U.S. Nobel laureates this year before they travel to Sweden in December to receive their prizes: chemist Joachim Frank; physicists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne; geneticists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young; and economist Richard Thaler.

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson blocked the federal government’s attempt to withhold law-enforcement money from Philadelphia over its so-called “sanctuary city” status. In the first decision since cities sued DOJ’s attempts to pull funding, Baylson, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the city complied with federal law banning municipalities from restricting contact with ICE.

The DOJ has ruled that DDT’s tweets are “official statements of the president.” Here’s a sampling from the past week:

  • After a mass shooting killing five people in California, DDT tweeted about “God [being] with the people” but got the wrong place, referencing Sutherland Springs (TX), a tragedy of nine days earlier.
  • DDT made vicious statements about Al Franken’s sexual harassment of Leeann Tweedom but stayed silent about those of Roy Moore. (According to White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, DDT believes the allegations against Moore because he’s not campaigning for him.)
  • DDT may reverse his reversal of removing the ban on importation of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia after serious backlash. Even Fox News host Laura Ingraham objected to the trophies.
  • Angry because the father of one of three basketball players freed from jail in China for stealing sunglasses wasn’t grateful to him, DDT wrote, “I should have left him in jail.” DT continued the tweet war today.
  • Insulted for being called “old”—but not for being called a “lunatic,” DDT called Kim Jong-Un “short and fat.”

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – NOVEMBER 13: Protesters burn an image of US President Donald Trump fashioned on a swastika as they march the streets of Manila during the start of the ASEAN meetings between heads of state on November 13, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Thousands of Filipinos protested in Manila as U.S. President Donald Trump’s attended the ASEAN meetings in the Philippines, a stop included in his 12-day Asia trip. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

During the past week, protesters in Manila burned a DDT effigy while he attended the ASEAN conference in the Philippines and bonded with murderous Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte over their mutual dislike for President Obama.  DDT also plans to close the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington, D.C. because they aren’t allowed to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. This action followed his promise to broker peace between Palestine and Israel by declaring his Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of peace. Kushner’s family has made millions by supporting Israeli illegal building on Palestinian land.

The Fact Checker has now catalogued 1,628 false or misleading claims made by Trump since he took office: That’s an average of 5.5 a day. The number per day is accelerating: during the past 35 days, his average is up to a daily nine lies, headed for “peak liar” status of at least 1,999 the first anniversary of his inauguration.

November 12, 2017

‘Family Values’ GOP Protects Sexual Predators

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 8:40 PM
Tags: , ,

Alabama Supreme Court justice, Roy Moore terrorized the LGBTQ community for decades, breaking the law to persecute people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. He compared homosexuality to bestiality and frequently called it a “crime against nature.” Moore used his religious belief to claim that “the transgenders don’t have rights” and the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize marriage equality was “even worse” than its declaration that blacks are property in the Dred Scott case (1857).

The accusation that he had sexually molested at least four teenage girls, one of them below the age of consent, was comparable to dropping a bomb. Massive numbers of women publicly accused their sexual assaulters this past fall, and Republicans have gloated because the predators have been part of the progressive party. Now one of their own is in the hot seat, and the GOP is not happy.

Moore is exactly one month away from the general election on December 12 to pick a U.S. senator, and he says he won’t quit. If he did, his name couldn’t be removed from the ballot. Moore took the primary from incumbent, Luther Strange, appointed to his position by former Gov. Robert Bentley after Jess Sessions became the U.S. AG. Strange was investigating Bentley for sexual relations with a close aide that led to his wife of over 50 years divorcing him. Bentley pled guilty to charges and resigned when the legislature began impeachment proceedings against him. The year before Bentley resigned, Alabama’s house speaker Mike Hubbard was convicted and imprisoned for felony violations of the state’s ethics laws.

Officials have asked the Gov. Kay Ivey (R) to postpone the election, but she has no plans to do this. Moore can’t be replaced because ballots have already been mailed, and state law requires that a replacement nominee be filed at least 76 days before an election. She had earlier changed the date for the election. Bentley said that Strange’s appointment was until 2018, but Ivey changed that to 2017, saying that “people should vote for a replacement U.S. Senator as soon as possible.”

Republicans knew what they were getting with Moore. He was the only judge on the state Supreme Court to exonerate a 17-year-old day-care center worker who sodomized a four-year-old boy at Mama’s Place Christian Academy (Clay, AL).

Moore cited “no evidence in this case of an implied threat of serious physical injury.” People also knew he had been removed from the state Supreme Court twice for violating the U.S. Constitution, in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building and in 2016 for ordering judges to deny marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Now Republicans have heard that Moore promised to watch a 14-year-old girl while her mother attended a custody hearing and then took her to his home, gave her alcohol, took off her outer clothing, and tried to get her to feel his genitals. About the sexual assault, Leigh Corfman said, “I wanted it over with. Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”

GOP officials are already protecting Moore. The Republican National Committeeman from Alabama, Paul Reynolds, said that he trusts Vladimir Putin more than Moore’s accusers:

“My gosh, it’s The Washington Post. If I’ve got a choice of putting my welfare into the hands of Putin or The Washington Post, Putin wins every time. This is going to make Roy Moore supporters step up to the plate and give more, work more and pray more.”

Reynolds may be right: Moore is now using the publicity to raise funds. Yet he’s lost money from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Sen. Mike Lee (UT) has told him to remove his photo from Moore’s advertising.  Sens. Steve Daino (MT) and Bill Cassidy (LA) have pulled their endorsements. On a Sunday talk show, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called for Moore to step aside because allegations against him are stronger than his denials.

Justifications for Moore’s behavior have poured out of the party of “family values.” Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler said:

“Take Mary and Joseph. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

According to the Bible, God was Jesus’s father, not Joseph, making him a stepfather. Zeigler’s comparison to Zachariah and Elizabeth didn’t hold water either because they were both old when John the Baptist was born. The next Zeigler excuse was that Moore married a younger woman; he was 38 and his wife was 24. Moore’s victim when he was 32 was 14 years old at the time.

More spins poured out from Republicans:

  • The rape wasn’t “forcible” enough to be a concern.
  • Victims should all be prosecuted for coming forward now.
  • Moore “didn’t really force himself” on the 14-year-old.
  • Fourteen-year-olds don’t make good decisions.
  • The relationship with the 14-year-old girl was “consensual.” (From Sean Hannity who denied he made that statement although it’s on tape and then lost advertisers.)
  • Moore didn’t have “sexual intercourse” with the girl he undressed and touched.
  • The victim is the age of consent now.
  • Only one of the sexual assaults could have been legally problematic because Moore was single. (From Breitbart editor Joel Pollack)
  • “There’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old single male asking a 16-year-old on a date,” according to Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall.
  • “If it is true,” the people who let it continue are the guilty ones,
  • Norms were different back then (Ann Coulter).
  • The favorite one: Moore isn’t a Democrat.

Aside from his unconstitutional rulings and his illegal sexual behavior, Moore has other baggage. He and his family drew over $1 million from their “charity,” The Foundation for Moral Law. One of his sons Caleb, who also worked for the Foundation has been arrested at least nine times on charges including drug use and DUIs.

Roy Moore denies the sexual assault charges and defiantly continues his campaign like Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) did. And like the times when DDT was accused, Moore said he will sue. Republicans were delighted that Harvey Weinstein  was accused of sexual assault because he is a Democrat, but the ball is back in the GOP court with the allegations against Moore. When women accuse liberals of sexual assault and harassment, Republicans automatically believe them; women who accuse Republicans are smeared. Republicans are circling the wagon around their party members, many of them playing the “if it is true” game with the women’s allegations against Moore, missing when women accuse Democrats of sexual assault.

The Palm Beach County (FL) school district’s defense against sexually abused children demonstrates the dangers of publicizing sexual assault. It’s the victims’ fault, according to the school district. In past cases involving children as young as six and a seven-year-old boy with autism, the school’s defense has blamed the children for not reporting the abuse fast enough. One case involving the inappropriate touching of four third-grade students by the teacher dragged on for 12 years although the teacher pled guilty to two of the cases. The district finally settled for $3.6 million a few weeks ago after consistently maintaining that the girls were “old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions” and “conducted themselves in a careless and negligent manner.” According to the district lawyer, this defense strategy can reduce the amount of damages that the district might be forced to pay. It can be used for a child as young as six years old. It’s just a litigation tactic, the lawyer said.

Women suffer as much as children from slurs against them. Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Kruse, one of many legislators across the country now accused of sexual assault and harassment, was stripped of all his committee appointments for his sexual assault of female colleagues. The Oregon Firearms Federation refuted the allegations because “touching Sara Gelser would only mean he needs an eye test.” Excuses for sexual assault include “boys will be boys,” they were just being friendly, and they don’t understand that times have changed.

And people wonder why girls and woman hesitate a long time about going public about being sexually assaulted.

[Update: The child described as “under 12-years-old” was a four-year-old boy at Mama’s Place Christian Academy in Clay, Alabama.]

 

November 11, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-Two – Meddling in Foreign Affairs

Today is Armistice Day, a commemoration of world peace. At least it was for 35 years until 1954 until Dwight Eisenhower made it “Veterans Day”—but still for peace. It’s still on November 11, but the peace is gone—just commemorating all those who go to war. Maybe more of them if Dictator Donald Trump (DDT has his way).

The media may be consumed with Alabama’s senatorial candidate, Roy Moore, and his sexual assaults but Robert Mueller continues with his investigation into Russian involvement in the presidential election. Carter Page, one of a small group advising DDT on foreign policy, testified before the House Intelligence Committee last week that he told both DDT’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and current White House communications director Hope Hicks about a July 2016 trip to Moscow to meet with high-placed Russian officials. At that time, Page congratulated DDT’s foreign policy team for their “excellent work” on the “Ukraine amendment” in changing the GOP platform to fit with Russia’s preference.

Also in the transcript from Page’s seven-hour testimony is Page’s email to DDT campaign aides, read aloud by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), that describes “a private conversation” with a high Russian official. Page wrote that he had been provided “incredible insights and outreach” by Russian lawmakers and “senior members” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration during the trip. Earlier he stated that he had only brief greetings from the official. Page is one of at least nine DDT-connected people who had contact with Russians during the campaign.

Revelations about the exchange of Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya show that they agreed to exchange “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for possibly overturning the Magnitsky law sanctioning Russians for murdering a Russian tax accountant accusing the Kremlin of corruption.

George Papadopolous may have told investigators that he lied about his planned collusion with Russia to protect DDT.

A “modified” gag order has been ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson regarding the criminal case against former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates. The order seems to be in response to Manafort’s lawyers declaring that the charges are “ridiculous.”  Although statements to the public from lawyers, defendants, and witnesses are not outright banned, they are prevented if they “pose a substantial likelihood of material prejudice to this case.” Jackson said, “This is a criminal trial, and it’s not a public relations campaign.”Indictments for former national security advisor Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr. may be upcoming. These two were involved in a plan to kidnap an Islamic mullah seeking refuge in Pennsylvania from Turkey, Fethullah Gülen, for a $15 million payment and turn him over to the Turkish government. Flynn Sr. was working for Turkey while he was a part of the DDT team. VP Mike Pence was behind the selection of Flynn for his short-lived position in the White House.

DDT told CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a conspiracy theorist advocating the belief that the hack during the presidential campaign was an inside job and not by the Russians. Bill Binney, former code-breaker at the National Security Agency, is a frequent guest on Fox News and Russia’s state propaganda RT. Intelligence agencies, including Pompeo’s CIA, already know that Russian agents hacked into the U.S. elections. DDT sees himself as the CEO of intelligence agencies, and the political Pompeo is comfortable with that position.

After DDT talked with Vladimir Putin, he said that Putin stated in a “very, very strong” way that Russia didn’t meddle in the election so DDT’s intelligence agencies are wrong. Russian officials said that Putin didn’t talk with DDT about the election. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slammed DDT for believing Putin over his own intelligence agencies. (America Second after Russia.) McCain also criticized DDT for not addressing human rights during his stop in Vietnam.

DDT has been in Asia for over a week, touting his personal properties and claiming “America First.” His visit to his property in Hawaii marked the 97th day in 287 days since his inauguration that he spent at a Trump-owned business. In Japan, he hawked U.S. military gear before he bragged about how other countries had underestimated the United States. “It was not pleasant for them, was it?” he finished. In Seoul, DDT bragged about the Women’s U.S. Open being held at his golf club in Bedminster (NJ). The visit came the day after USA Today reported that DDT “has installed at least five people who have been members of his clubs to senior roles in his administration.” The article added, “[N]ever in modern history has a president awarded government posts to people who pay money to his own companies.”

Fog kept DDT’s helicopter grounded, aborting his visit to the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, but South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, had no trouble driving there to wait for him.

In Bejing, DDT told business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam. “I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.” President Xi Jinping of China supported globalization, saying relations among countries should be “more open, more inclusive, more balanced, more equitable and more beneficial to all.” Hours after DDT gave his “America First” speech to the business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, eleven countries put together the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now it’s “America Outside.”

DDT bragged about the $250 billion deal with China buying into the United States. These are not done deals, but pledges—just like most of DDT’s “promises.”

In a first among presidents, DDT did not answer questions from the press while in China. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that China wouldn’t let him. “America Submissive.”

More ignorant DDT statements from his trip.

DDT and his family may have participated taken a part in the purge of Saudi royals by the new Crown Prince. DDT sent his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to Riyadh to talk with the new prince, and both DDT and his son Donald Trump Jr. praised the purge. Subjects of the purge, possibly facing criminal charges, include princes, senior ministers and the former head of Saudi’s military; one of them had disagreed with DDT on Twitter. The prince is now freer to block Iranian influence in Syria and Qatar. The Lebanese prime minister has resigned, claiming fear for his life from Iran, but possibly forced by Saudis. Lebanon accused Saudi Arabia of detaining its prime minister, while Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon. Kushner, assigned to create peace in the Middle East, has fanned “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” in an attempt to obtain contracts of over $380 billion for military gear. The possible instability in the Middle East from Saudi’s actions may have a negative affect on the stock market.

In the year of leaks, the Paradise Papers, a release of over 13 secret million documents, may reign supreme. Thus far, people have learned about ways that multinational companies such as Apple and Nike conceal their money offshore as well as how Russian investments helped fuel the rise of Facebook and Twitter and how DDT’s inner circle, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, is connected to Russian oligarchs. The Paradise Papers also shows how multi-billionaire Robert Mercer not only avoided a 39-percent tax on profits from his foundation but also used his money to publicize falsities about the Clintons, including the promotion of the Uranium One scandal that DDT is trying to use in order to veer attention from his involvement with Russia.

DDT’s departure from the Paris climate agreement leaves the U.S. totally isolated since Syria, the final holdout other than the U.S., announced its plans to sign the accord.

The Senate Commerce committee just approved Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) for NASA chief with all 13 Democrats objecting. If senators approve him, a non-partisan science research agency will be led by a conservative climate denier with almost no scientific or technical experience.

The DOJ finally dropped its prosecution of Desiree Fairooz, a retired children’s librarian who laughed during the confirmation hearing of AG Jeff Sessions. Her second trial was set for next week after a judge overturned the jury’s conviction, ruling that “laughter is enough, standing alone” is not enough for a conviction.

Last June, DDT told Native American tribes to start drilling on their reservations in violation of federal regulations, according to a new report.

After a line installed by Whitefish Energy failed, Puerto Rico is down to 18 percent power 50 days after Hurricane Maria. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, the Pentagon’s liaison to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), announced that relief efforts is moving from crisis to recovery with federal troops leaving the island because of the expense.

Next week returns to the GOP tax cuts primarily benefiting the wealthy.

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