Nel's New Day

February 14, 2018

Shooting, Russian Involvement: Demand Action

Filed under: Guns — trp2011 @ 10:20 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Today at least 17 people were killed in a school shooting, taking the public attention from other events. Vice President Mike Pence is especially lucky because most people may not notice that he again blatantly lied in an interview of Axios. He said:

“Irrespective of efforts that were made in 2016 by foreign powers, it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Pence lied.

Six U.S. intelligence leaders, including Pompeo, Coats, and Wray, testified that Russia had interfered in the last general election, that they plan to do so in the current election, and that DDT has not given any direction to stop the Russian meddling. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last week that the meddling has already started but that there is nothing that the United States can do to prevent any Russian involvement.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said:

“We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle.”

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said:

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.”

The intelligence community concluded that Russia “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” Collectively, they made this statement:

“We did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election. The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

The intelligence community made no ruling on the Russian affect on the outcome of the election last year when Donald Trump became the president of the United States. Yet Pence said that “it is the universal conclusion of our intelligence communities that none of those efforts had any impact on the outcome of the 2016 election.”

Donald Trump’s appointed FBI director, Christopher Wray, thinks that Russia believes its maneuvers succeeded in electing Trump as the president.

The Russians hacked and revised emails that resulted in negative press about Hillary Clinton. It distributed massive communications on social media that lied about Clinton and other progressive candidates. The FBI spread doubt about Clinton just days before the election while it failed to release the information about the Russian involvement in Donald Trump’s campaign, knowledge that they had for months before the election. And Donald Trump got over 60 million votes after he lied to the public about protecting the working people.

The same hackers also got into the email accounts of defense contract workers, and nobody is talking about that. Donald Trump refuses to sanction Russia for its interference.

Today witnessed the 18th school shooting in only 31 days of school in 2018, most of the shootings largely unnoticed by the media. Because of the gun industry and the NRA, conservatives take no action. (Although I wonder if they decide to allow all students over the age of five to take guns to school.) Yet GOP legislators give away trillions of dollars to the wealthy and the huge corporations. They plan to spend tens of billions of dollars on a wall to keep out immigrants and hundreds of billions of dollars to start and continue wars throughout the entire world.

The killer’s choice of weapon, at least one AR-15 style rifle and a large number of magazines, was the usual one for the deadliest mass shootings, including the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas massacre and the November 5, 2017 Texas church shooting. The assault-style rifle was developed for military use, but people use the Second Amendment to force its availability for the general population. Florida has no waiting period for anyone, including those on the terrorist watch list, who wish to buy guns, and the U.S. House has passed a bill making concealed-carry permits in one state valid in any other state.

Within hours after the shooting, officials associated the shooting with mental illness and calling them “evil.” Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County said that nothing can be done about shooters if they are determined to kill people. Others are using the standard statement that shooters are “evil.” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s response was that she would guarantee no “price gouging” for funerals and make sure that the families didn’t have to pay for the funerals of the dead students. Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims.

People who want to think of the United States as exceptional should know that the U.S. has 270 million guns with 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012. No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters. In 2009, the gun homicide rate in the U.S. was far higher than other developed countries at 33 per million people. The rate was 5 per million in Canada and 0.7 million in Britain, corresponding with differences in gun ownership. In 2013, Japan had 13 deaths related to guns; U.S. gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides, and 505 deaths caused by an accidental discharge. The chances per capita of a U.S. resident dying from a gun is 300 times more likely than a Japanese person dying in the same manner, and U.S. gun ownership is 150 times as high as that of Japan. Only three countries—Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S.—have the assumption that people have an inherent right to own guns.

Gun ownership is the reason for these gun deaths:

  • The U.S. does not reflect a greater problem with mental health issues than any other wealthy country. Only four percent of U.S. gun deaths might be attributed to mental health problems. Other countries with high suicide rates have low rates of mass shootings.
  • People in the U.S. are no more likely to play video games than in any other developed country.
  • European countries show little association between immigration and other diversity with the rates of gun murders or mass shootings.
  • The U.S. is no more prone to crime than other developed countries—just more lethal.
  • Gun control legislation reduces gun murders, according to an analysis of 130 studies from 10 countries.

Britain’s 1987 mass shooting and Australia’s 1996 shooting turned the tide of unregulated gun ownership. The U.S. doesn’t care. British journalist Dan Hodges wrote:

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

These are the 1,607 mass shootings in the U.S. since Sandy Hook.

Broward County Public Schools Supt. Robert Runcie said, “This has been a day we’ve seen the worst of humanity.” He may be right, but the worst is coming from people on the internet accusing the shooter of being a DACA recipient and an ISIS supporter with no evidence. The worst of humanity comes from people who refuse to take any action to stop mass shootings. The shooter will be dehumanized as insane, and the dead will be classified as heroes. And the Republicans will block any sane action. Only a shooting by an immigrant or in the name of a non-Christian religion would bring any action.

In their sanctimonious method of controlling gun safety laws, conservatives always accuse people who want to stop shootings as attempting to “politicize” a tragedy. The only way to stop the growing mass shootings and lack of safety at schools is to stop electing Republicans because they are controlled by the NRA and the gun industry. They have no interest in protecting people; they only want to get elected and grow richer and more powerful. Their demands to not politicize tragedies are to guarantee that gun laws grow more lax.

Happy Valentine’s Day, thanks to your GOP legislators, owned by the gun industry, who think that words like “prayers and condolences” are sufficient action. And Vice-President Pence, your intelligence community didn’t say that Russia had no impact on last year’s election that turned the United States away from democracy and toward authoritarianism.

February 6, 2018

Stay Involved – Make the U.S. a ‘Beacon’ for All

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:56 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Every day I read the news—the hopeful pieces and the disgusting hatred that people spew out against anyone who threatens the male white power of the United States. With the increasing loss of democracy in the nation, more and more people say they can no longer follow the news because it is so upsetting. At the same time, inequality of classes—economic, racial, gender, etc.–rapidly grows.

Within the past week, I have heard two statements that make me want to crawl into a hole and avoid any media. Last week, GOP political strategist said that Donald Trump could kill a baby at a rally and it would not take away from his popularity. The worst thing about what Wilson said is that he is right—nothing seems to take away from the support of Trump’s base. His horrific behavior has been so normalized that he can do anything he wants to destroy people and the country. His base only wants to keep the United States for only white people and women in subservience.

The second statement came from Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly today when he talked about the people who were brought into the United States by adults when they were children. He accused those afraid to identify themselves to the government as undocumented of being “too lazy to get off their asses” to sign up for DACA. (Never mind hat Kelly’s boss, Donald Trump, spends less than ten hours a week on his job as president and occupies this time bragging about himself while goading his base into destroying the constitution.)

I remember when the young people were offered the opportunity to register their undocumented status in exchange for getting work permits and going to school. There were long discussions of what would happen if an administration would reject this status and deport them because they had been open enough to identify themselves. Now their fears have come to pass. Thomas Homan, the acting director of ICE, said that anyone in the country illegally would be targeted for deportation even if they had not committed a crime.

Last fall, Donald Trump took away the last vestige of safety for DACA recipients so that he could use them as hostages for the wall he wants between Mexico and the United States. Trump promised on his campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, but their president made clear that they would not give Trump that money. Immediately after his inauguration, Trump begged Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, not to tell press that Mexico won’t pay for wall. Today, Trump said he would “love a [government] shutdown” in order to get his wall in exchange for letting the DACA recipients stay in the country. As Trump has consistently proved, his promises are worth nothing.

DACA recipients have been losing their right to be in the United States since he ended his program last September, the deadline is March 5 for everyone. When Trump campaigned, he said he wanted to deport the “bad hombres,” and he obsessively talks about the El Salvadoran gang MS-13 as a demonstration of dangers from immigration. Yet ICE daily picks up and deports immigrants who contribute to the betterment of the United States and have caused no problems in their decades of living in the United States. At the same time, ICE makes immigrants afraid to go to the police in opposition to gang violence because the immigrants will be deported instead of the gang members.

The numbers of people in poverty and without health insurance grew the last year, and homelessness increased for the first time since 2010. Hate crime hit a five-year high during Donald Trump’s campaign, and the number of hate crimes rose for the second straight year in 2017. Trump’s policies are bad for the United States.

Michael Gerson, former speech writer for George W. Bush, blames the Republicans’ weakness for our disappearing democracy:

“With the blessing of Republican leaders, the lickspittle wing of the GOP is now firmly in charge…. The nearly uniform cowardice among elected Republicans is staggering. One is left wishing that Obamacare covered spine transplants. The Republican-led Congress is now an adjunct of the White House. The White House is now an adjunct of Trump’s chaotic will….

“Trump has made a practice of forcing people around him to lower their standards and abandon their ideals before turning against them when their usefulness ends. His servants are sucked dry of integrity and dignity, then thrown away like the rind of a squeezed orange. Who does Trump’s bidding and has his or her reputation enhanced? A generation of Republicans will end up writing memoirs of apology and regret….

“For Republicans, what seemed like a temporary political compromise is becoming an indelible moral stain…. By defending Trump’s transgressions, by justifying his abuses, Republicans are creating an atmosphere in which corruption and cowardice thrive….”

For the past 25+ years, I have picked up our pet dogs’ excrement. Lack of contamination is vital in preventing infectious diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and polio. Without paying attention to sanitation, people get sick. In the same way, people have to pay attention to the excrement pouring out of the Donald Trump administration—the lack of care for all human beings that it daily exhibits.

Much as I would like to avoid the sick statements made by people like John Kelly and Donald Trump and their followers, I’ll keep trying to expose the excrements. On just this one day, however, I need to vent my frustrations as Donald Trump uses his power to make ugly a place formerly described as a shining light, “a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for people everywhere.”

Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes, members of the conservative Brookings Institute, have called for a total boycott of the Republican party because the GOP support of Donald Trump is “a threat to democratic values and the rule of law.” (People who want to save the United States should read the entire article.) As a progressive, I believe that the nation needs a diversity of ideas created by more than one party. I also agree with the authors of this article when they write:

“The Republican Party, as an institution, has become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The problem is not just Donald Trump; it’s the larger political apparatus that made a conscious decision to enable him. In a two-party system, nonpartisanship works only if both parties are consistent democratic actors. If one of them is not predictably so, the space for nonpartisans evaporates. We’re thus driven to believe that the best hope of defending the country from Trump’s Republican enablers [is to] vote mindlessly and mechanically against Republicans at every opportunity, until the party either rights itself or implodes (very preferably the former)….

“Republicans, even moderate ones, are reluctant to cross party lines. Party, today, is identity. But in the through-the-looking-glass era of Donald Trump, the best thing Republicans can do for their party is vote against it.

“We understand, too, the many imperfections of the Democratic Party. Its left is extreme, its center is confused, and it has its share of bad apples. But the Democratic Party is not a threat to our democratic order. That is why we are rising above our independent predilections and behaving like dumb-ass partisans. It’s why we hope many smart people will do the same.”

If my blog goes dark for a few days, it is because of events beyond my control. For those of you who follow Nels New Day, thank you. I will be back.

February 5, 2018

Dueling Memos Accompanied by Dropping Stock Markets

Remember when Congress passed the last stall to the spending bill on January 22, 2018? That was the one they passed because they couldn’t meet the December 21, 2017 deadline when they couldn’t meet the October 1, 2017 deadline. No problem! They claimed they could get a spending bill in three weeks. Everyone knew they couldn’t. The House passed an unconstitutional anti-abortion bill that lost in the Senate, and Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) deliver the dud memo that DDT thought would save him from an investigation. It did garner Nunes’ opponent, Democrat Andrew Janz, $300,000 for his campaign in 72 hours. And Congressional members also wandered off to West Virginia for most of a working week while hitting a garbage truck on the way.

The next deadline is this Thursday, and nothing has been done to move forward on it. Republicans promised to deal with the immigration issue but only holds the DACA Dreamers hostage. The next spending bill delay piles the bill on top of a DACA immigration deadline on March 5 and the debt ceiling, a month closer to early March because the Treasury is giving handouts to the wealthy and big corporations.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is already taking extraordinary actions to pay the nation’s bills by suspending payments into federal employee retiree, health and disability funds. This time of the year is harder on the treasury because of income tax returns. Last year’s budget deficit was $666 billion, the largest since the recession recovery in 2013.

DDT claimed that he fired former FBI director James Comey because the agency was in “turmoil, but it was the firing that created chaos within the FBI. Both Comey’s and Andrew McCabe’s firings from DDT’s politicization have been responsible for the demoralized environment that has grown only worse from the smear memo from Nunes’ memo. about the surveillance warrant request for Carter Page. Even some Republicans are withdrawing from Nunes and his memo, rejecting the idea that the memo exonerates DDT.

If not outright “misrepresenting” facts, the memo omits information about the research and documents including the background going back at least three years before Page’s involvement with DDT. In August 2013, Page bragged about being an “informal advisor” to the Kremlin. In the memo, Nunes claimed that the FBI didn’t know anything about Page’s Russian connections until Christopher Steele’s dossier of summer 2016 that was paid for by Democrats after conservatives stopped paying for the investigation into DDT.

Discovering that people were not buying his take on the FISA warrant for Page, Nunes switched his focus to George Papadopoulos, asking why there was no warrant for him. Then Nunes left out information about Papadopoulos when he said he didn’t deserve a warrant, claiming that he only got drunk in London and criticized Hillary Clinton instead of the report that he told a diplomat about getting hacked emails with “dirt” on Clinton. He even claimed that DDT had never met Papadopoulos (center left), but a small meeting with the two of them in 2016 is documented in a photo from a campaign meeting.

In an effort to take attention away from his nothing-burger memo, Nunes told Sean Hannity that the real Russian collaborator is the Hillary Clinton that weaponized the FBI against DDT. Nunes claimed that the memo shows a “clear link” between Russia and the Clinton campaign, although the memo only mentions that the Clinton campaign paid for part of Steele’s dossier. Missing from the memo—and Nunes’ talking points—is that a conservative group initially commissioned the investigation on DDT because he was obviously the GOP presidential campaign.

Ellen Nakashima explained in the WaPo that another Nunes point in the memo was also wrong: the application for surveilling Page came from a political source, according to the request. Asked about this discrepancy on Fox & Friends, Nunes said the information was not good enough because it was in small print in a footnote:

“A footnote saying something may be political is a far cry from letting the American people know that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for dirt that the FBI then used to get a warrant on an American citizen to spy on another campaign.”

Failing to successfully communicate his lie about the memo vindicating him, DDT grew more desperate last Monday morning with a smear tweet about the Democratic senator from California with fake stories about his leaking information, “Little Adam Schiff …. Must be stopped!” During his tweets last weekend, DDT clearly indicated he approved the memo in order to block the investigation into Russian meddling with the presidential election.

The popularity of #release the memo came from “bots,” computational propaganda capable of sending massive numbers of social media messages which led to bots claiming they weren’t bots. The “fake” news from bots is changing behavior as shown in this detailed explanation of how a bot “personalizes” with “fake” photos and disseminates fake information about progressive causes.

The House Intelligence Committee has unanimously voted to release the Democratic memo that refutes much of what Nunes wrote. Once again, the ball is in DDT’s court. He has five days to decide whether to release or block it—probably while spweeting (sputter-tweeting?) more about Schiff “leaking” information. The committee can vote to override DDT if he blocks the release, and it can be read into the House record.

DDT has called Nunes a “Great American Hero.” The committee chair said he is keeping secret his “Phase Two” of the GOP investigation to focus on the State Department’s role in the early states of Russian investigation. Almost a year ago, Nunes recused himself from any investigations related to Russia because of an ethics charge that he was giving information to the White House. Charges were dropped last December, but his behavior may call on more ethics charges. Republicans report that as many as five more memos may appear, sure to provide more cover for DDT and avoid the nasty problems of the spending bill and the debt ceiling.

While the media buzz was primarily about Nunes’ memo, DDT set another record: today’s Dow Jones fall of 1,179 was the biggest ever, not even close to the 777 points lost on September 29, 2008. On the same day, the S&P lost its entire January gain, and the Nasdaq was down for the seventh of the last nine days. The Dow loss is on top of over a 1,000+ drop last week; the value equals a loss of over $1 trillion in the first five days of February. Although some people blame the upcoming increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve, others say the reason is the rising bond market as the U.S. Treasury is borrowing more money. It has to pay for all those tax cuts to the wealthy and big corporations.

Last year, investors ignored the possibilities of a trade war with China, a nuclear war with North Korea, and other fear that might have been discouraging to the stock market. The removal of regulations, especially for Wall Street, encouraged them to buy, buy, buy—driving the Dow Jones index up 10,000 points in the ninth year of its boom. Now the cheap money from global central banks may disappear with rising interest rates.

GOP said that the tax cut would cause big corporations to invest in businesses and hire more workers. Instead, corporations are sheltering more and more of their money or buying back ownership in their companies, an action that briefly drove up stocks. Rising wages and interest rates are a sign of inflation which the Fed will try to ward off by raising the interest rates again. Janet Yellen, who kept rates low, is no longer the Federal Reserve chair, and investors don’t know what the new chair, Jerome H. Powell, will do.

Energy corporations lack high earnings, resulting in the biggest drops in stock value, and health stocks were badly hurt by three large companies creating their own health care company for their employees. Tech stocks went down, and the new Apple I 8 and X phone suffered a downturn in sales. Oil prices went down. There’s not a crash, but the market may be “correcting,” a euphemism for going down.

Kellyanne Conway celebrated her one-year anniversary after inventing the term “alternative facts” by doubling down on the appropriateness of the GOP fictional perspective. In a radio interview, she decried the practice of fact-checking by saying that “Americans are their own fact-checkers” and they “have their own facts.” She added that “the stock market is something [Americans] know about because they’re part of the investor class,” forgetting that fewer than half of those “Americans” have any involvement in the stock market and pretending that the stock market equals the economy. (Maybe her next statement could be “ignorance is knowledge”?) All these people who Conway referenced will now know that the stock market dropped eight percent in as many days.

 

February 4, 2018

God Says ‘No’ to Bachmann

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

Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had considered running for U.S. Senate after Al Franken’s resignation, but she had to get permission from God. Goodlordabove.com has provided her an answer

The definition of “Christian” those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Bachmann’s Christian god may not want her for a senator for some of these reasons:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” [John 13:16]

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. Matthew 7:1-2]

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” [Luke 6:41]

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” [Matthew 5:9]

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” [Matthew]

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” [John 8:7]

“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” [1 John 3:17]

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” [Matthew 9:35]

“Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” [Matthew 23:28]

“And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” [John 2:14-16]

“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” [Matthew 19:24]

“Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” [Matthew 6:5]

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” [Matthew 12:7]

“But Jesus said unto them, they need not depart; give ye them to eat.” [Matthew 14:16]

“And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.” [Luke 11:46]

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” [Luke 12:48]

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Matthew: 11:28]

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:34-40]

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” [Matthew 25:41-43]

Conservative Christian pretenders hate peace, charity, mercy and acceptance. They want power and wealth for themselves with none left over for anyone else and presume to set themselves up to judge everyone else. They are the only ones deserving of health care. The Christian god will not want to set Michele Bachmann up in the U.S. Senate to be another vote for anti-Christian beliefs. And those of us who follow these egalitarian Christian beliefs without bragging about what spiritual following we have don’t either.

February 3, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-four – Moon Precedes Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:57 PM
Tags: ,

For anti-science far-right evangelicals, the week had evil omens. On Wednesday, a super blue blood moon—blue because it’s the second full moon within one month—appeared on Wednesday. [Photo by Justin Lane]  Joel 2:31:

“The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”

On Friday, the Dow Jones dropped 666 points, the name of the coming Antichrist. In between those two days, the Republicans gathered in Virginia after their train crashed to talk about the upcoming midterm elections. Meanwhile, the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues with the State of the Union speech, the release of the Nunes dud memo, and other DDT failures.

Another test to shoot down missiles failed this week, the second failure in seven months. Only nine of 19 attempts since 1999 have been successful in the $40 billion plus system. Last May’s attempt was initially touted as successful, but the missile blew itself up after it was marked as friendly.

The Senate failed to pass the House’s unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban: two women GOP Senators voting no and three male Democrats voting in favor of the false “fetal pain” ban. The bill had also required that the person who performed the abortion must try to save the fetus’s life.

Following protests, a plan to open mining in the Bristol Bay watershed 200 miles southwest of Anchorage (AK) is on hold. The proposed Pebble Mine is 100 miles upstream from the fishery that supplies almost half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon.

Protesters are mobilizing in the UK after British Prime Minister Theresa May invited DDT to London in October 2018. He said, “I think I’m very popular in your country,” but 1.8 billion people in the country with a population of 65 million signed a protest petition.

Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian college student, figured out that the advertising gimmick “global heat map” searching for areas of exercising reveals sensitive military bases, especially in the Middle East. (Left: The Strava map for Helmand Province, Afghanistan.)  Other security “glitches” from the past include U.S. intelligence contractors putting codenames of classified surveillance programs on LinkedIn in 2014 that allowed people to determine the people and companies worked on specific programs through Transparency Toolkit and ICWATCH. [Note: Strava’s world map is pretty cool!]

Slower internet access unless people pay more still has not been settled so activist Rob Bliss decided to show its problems by claiming to “liberate” drivers in charging them $5 for a newly created “fast lane” in front of the FCC building. The involvement of the police continued to prove his point, as this video shows. Last week, Burger King told its customers that paying $26 extra for a Whopper would get it delivered faster. Both of these examples explain what happens when large corporations control the speed of content based on consumer payments.

Appointments/Resignations:

Brian A. Benczkowski, nominee to lead DOJ’s criminal division, has represented Alfa Bank, a large Russian financial institution with owner ties to Vladimir Putin. The bank was investigated for its connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia. Benczkowski was not confirmed last year but has been reappointed.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, DDT’s pick for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resigned after complaints that she bought tobacco company stock immediately after she got the position which involved overseeing programs for quitting smoking. Fitzgerald’s past included reversing natural aging, trying to fight childhood obesity in Georgia by partnering with Coca-Cola, and owning more tobacco stock.

K.T. McFarland, fired from the national Security Council and nominated for ambassador of Singapore, has withdrawn after a reappointment. She was found lying about not knowing about communications between Michael Flynn and Sergei Kislyak when he was Russian ambassador.

Kathleen Hartnett White, climate denier picked to head the Council on Environmental Quality, is also withdrawn. She maintained that people do not die of pollution and that coal ended slavery.

Ben Carson has been warned of conflict of interest because his son furthered his business interests in organizing the Baltimore “listening tour” last summer for the HUD director. Ben Carson, Jr. is a real estate developer, and Jr.’s wife, Merlynn, received a $485,000 contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for her company, Myriddan.

Victor D. Cha was dropped as a possible nomination for ambassador to South Korea after he expressed concern that the “bloody nose” strategy of a limited strike against North Korea would create a much bigger war. He also disagreed with threats to destroy a bilateral trade deal with South Korea after DDT put tariffs on washing machines and solar energy panels. South Korea has no U.S. ambassador and had already signed off on Cha. His op-ed about DDT and North Korea in the WaPost.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., the State Department’s top career diplomat, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and third highest ranking official, has resigned after 35 years, leaving the last of five “career ambassadors,” Stephen D. Mull, who is current on sabbatical. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called Shannon a “walking encyclopedia,” has ignored his experts, and morale is plummeting.

Lawsuits/Decisions:

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest compared DDT’s immigration acts to those in an authoritarian country and ordered ICE to immediately release immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir. She called the detention unconstitutional and “unnecessarily cruel,” ruling that officials violated his due process rights. Ragbir became a lawful resident in 1994 but was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy for accepting fraudulent loan applications while working at a mortgage lender. After his prison release from prison, he received four stays of removal and regularly checked in with ICE without breaking any laws. The judge wrote, “The Constitution commands better.”

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 that DDT cannot remove the director from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it is financed by the Federal Reserve. Mick Mulvaney has been playing DDT’s acting director of the agency, the court’s next issue, instead of current Acting Director Leandra English. Mulvaney requested no additional funds from the Fed for the upcoming quarter and may turn the predatory payday lending industry loose on its clients.

A federal district court blocked the Texas law mandating the burial or cremation of embryonic of fetal tissue abortions, miscarriage, or treatment for ectopic pregnancy. Last November a federal court overturned the law banning dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions is unconstitutional.

In a ruling by a federal judge that Florida’s lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony is unconstitutional, the state gained another 1.2 million voters. Eight other states have the same law, all of them GOP states.

After the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled against gerrymandering in the state, it decided against a recently passed GOP law that kept new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from regulating the state’s elections, necessary to reinstate voting rights.

For the last three decisions, Chief Justice John Roberts has voted against the right-wing bloc. He probably isn’t going moderate, but he might be slightly embarrassed by accusations that the Supreme Court has become a partisan wing of the executive branch.

DDT is considering the mass arrests of U.S. mayors and governors: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she ordered federal prosecutors to review “what avenues might be available” to arrest and prosecute mayors of so-called sanctuary cities. The term “sanctuary” status means that police enforce local and state law, leaving federal immigration law to federal officers without violating federal law. These actions would pattern those in Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey.

DDT has stolen billions of dollars in tips from waitpeople, and the Labor Department leadership concealed its internal analysis showing how much the employees will lose by changing the data methodology to hide its impact. The executive order forces people who receive tips to share them with others, including their employers. The public comment period ends February 5, but DDT’s administration ignores all these comments for any changes by calling them bogus. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins would be enraged by these acts.

Sexual Misconduct:

Shares on Steve Wynn’s casino resorts dropped 19 percent, a $462.55 million loss for him. He also won’t be getting his money back from Republicans, despite the demand that the RNC made that Democrats return their donations from Harvey Weinstein. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said that she’ll give Wynn the benefit of the doubt because he denied his sexual assaults.

People who donate to DDT’s campaign might want to know that 25 percent of their money goes to legal fees connected with Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

Seventy percent of Republicans want their children to be like DDT because he’s a “good role model” for them. A picture of future Republicans: talk openly about the size of their penises at any time and place, treat women like “shit” (a DDT quote), lie, bully, cheat, hate people of color, put money above all else—the list of the GOP in the future as well as the present.

February 2, 2018

Memo Day Arrives

Filed under: Russia — trp2011 @ 10:40 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Memo is out! For weeks, Fox’s Sean Hannity has been calling on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release a document that would destroy the Robert Mueller investigation into the Russia’s collusion to win the presidential election for DDT. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who got his spin for the memo from the White House, pushed the release of misleading, inaccurate information to protect DDT with the vote of his GOP members of the Intelligence Committee, who also unanimously denied the Democrats to release any information. After the memo was approved, Nunes changed the memo because he gave it to DDT, and the White House could then make more changes, also not approved by the committee, before permitting its release.

Both DDT’s FBI director, Christopher Wray, and National Intelligence director, Dan Coats, warned DDT that the memo’s information was inaccurate and compromised classified information. DDT didn’t even read the document before he agreed to its release.

The memo accuses the FBI and DOJ of abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when he it obtained a warrant to surveil an adviser for DDT’s campaign because the reason was misleading. The FBI and DOJ first applied for a warrant on October 21, 2016 to surveil Carter Page. A renewal was required every 90 days. Three signers of a warrant—James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Sally Yates—have been fired; two, Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein, remain in the government. Rod Rosenstein may be fired because he might not be willing to fire Robert Mueller.

Nunes claimed that Christopher Steele, paid to prepare a dossier on DDT, told a senior DOJ official that he wanted to be sure that DDT didn’t get elected with no evidence of any bias against Page, the subject of the warrant. The memo also claims that no warrant would have been obtained without the Steele dossier, but there is no evidence about this except private testimony that others claim has been “mischaracterized.” The FBI had considered Page might be a target of Russian intelligence long before he became involved with DDT after Page met a Russian spy in 2013.

The document’s conclusion concentrates on the text messages between two FBI employees that, according to the memo, illustrated “a clear bias against Trump and in favor of [Hillary] Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated.” Yet other Peter Strzok text messages are equally critical of Clinton, and he co-drafted the letter about publicizing the text messages related to Clinton 11 days before the election, an action that may have elected DDT. With no evidence, Nunes’ memo blames the employees for leaking information to the media.

The released document had only one surprise, that George Papadopoulos was responsible for initiating the FBI investigation after he bragged to an Australian diplomat over drinks in London that the Russians have dirt on Hillary Clinton before the hack on the DNC emails became public. Concerned about the Russian involvement, the diplomat warned the FBI. Papadopoulos is testifying to Robert Mueller.

In the past, Nunes demonstrated strong support for greater surveillance, voting for the expansion of the National Security Agency’s warrantless program and helping block others who wanted to restrict the agency from spying on U.S. citizens. He also rejected a suggestion to release the FBI/DOJ request for the warrant, redacted for classified information and privacy, to show what information was used in the court affidavit.

From his ranch in Arizona, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) issued a statement about Nunes’ release of the memo:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro and beyond. The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests ― no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the lens of politics and manufacturing political sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

Nunes apparently jobbed out the writing of his memo. His aides wrote the document, and he didn’t even see the warrant. Only one Democrat and one Republican, plus staff, are permitted to see these warrants. Nunes assigned the task to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Therefore, Nunes cannot know whether his own document is accurate. The day after Nunes announced the release of the memo, Gowdy abruptly announced that he would not be running for re-election. Swept in with the 2010 Tea Party epidemic, Gowdy became famous with his incessant grilling of Hillary Clinton over four deaths at a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi (Libya) in 2012.  One of the almost dozen “interviews” lasted about eleven hours and revealed no new information. By 2016, Gowdy admitted that Clinton was not responsible. Gowdy’s other persecution of Clinton was her private email server although he himself used private email instead of a government server. He said he wants to return to the justice system, and the 4th Circuit Court has a vacancy. may have his eye on an appointment for the 4th Circuit Court. Over 40 House GOP members of the 115th Congress are already not running in this year’s election.

Nunes has used his power to cover for DDT by refusing to investigate Russian interference. He is controlling the Republicans in the House: even House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) won’t disagree with his unethical actions and claims “malfeasance” in the FBI. Nunes also announced his release of the memo when DDT said that he would not follow a law by Congress requiring new sanctions on Russia when DDT’s CIA director, Mike Pompeo, has “every expectation that they will continue” trying to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

The GOP promised that Nunes’ memo would be “worse than Watergate.” Watchers of Sean Hannity and Fox will have an entirely different perspective of the memo than the rest of the world. And DDT will be delighted because he gets all his advice from Fox. He told friends that the release of the memo would allow him to argue FBI prejudice against him. Most people, however, as saying, “That’s it?” The memo.

Russia This Week:

DDT backed off on his guarantee because lawyers are afraid that he’ll lie to them. Seventy-one percent of people in the U.S. agree that he should agree to an interview with Mueller, and 82 percent of them want it under oath—93 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Republicans.

Mark Corallo, DDT’s legal team spokesman who resigned last summer from concern that he might be exposed to obstruction, agreed to meet with Robert Mueller. His testimony involves Hope Hicks, communications director, who loves DDT “like a father,” who said in front of DDT with no lawyer present that the emails written by Donald Trump Jr. leading up to the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer “will never get out.” Corallo notified the legal team about the conversation and took notes as well as sharing his concerns with Steve Bannon. DDT had insisted that the statement maintain that Jr.’s meeting was about Russian adoptions. Jr. insisted on the addition of the word “primarily” about the meeting subject.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein asked DDT for help before his testimony at the House Judiciary Committee to keep Rep. Devin Nunes from getting “sensitive documents.” In this December visit, DDT asked about the direction of the investigation and whether Rosenstein was “on my team,” similar to questions he posed to James Comey before he fired him and then Andrew McCabe who is also gone. DDT also proposed questions to the committee for Rod Rosenstein, including whether Rosenstein picked Mueller as investigator because Mueller wasn’t chosen for FBI director.

No Sanctions against Russia:

  • July 2017: Congress imposed new sanctions on Russia for election meddling with a deadline. Senate passed the bill by 98-2. DDT signed the bill with a note of protest and an angry tweet. He then missed all the deadlines.
  • October 2017: DDT disbanded the sanctions office.
  • January 29, 2018: Deadline for sanctions. Otherwise, DDT will flout Congress and violate the law. DDT announced he won’t be following the law.  At the same time, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats met with two top Russian spy chiefs. Reuters found out by reading Russian media.

Andrew McCabe was “removed” from the FBI.

This week DDT gave his State of the Union speech, Nunes released his memo, Nunes’ opponent for the House raised $100,000 in one day, and the Dow Jones dropped over 1,000 points.

February 1, 2018

Darkness Descending: ‘The State of the Union’

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 11:09 PM
Tags: , ,

The day after the State of the Union (or “Uniom” as the White House invitations read), the lumbering, sniffling 80 minute speech of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) rapidly moved into oblivion as the Russian investigation took center front in the media. The event, however, should be noted in the annals of history, not for what was said as much as how seemingly insignificant comments indicated DDT’s continuing policies of fear, hatred, and control.

DDT’s language continued his obsession with white supremacy and military/police strength:

  • DDT’s use of “citizens” five times were mostly in addition to his demand for tight immigration, setting up a social hierarchy when he says that he wants to “protect our citizens.”
  • Three-fourths of DDT’s guests were members of the police or military, and he frequently referred to veterans, military, and officer and police.
  • The audience, in an event meant to be a speech to a joint session of Congress, twice burst out into “USA! USA! chanting, much like DDT’s rallies used to suppress protests.
  • DDT connected his emphasis on the “great American flag” and “In God We Trust”  to military and police order in a way that appeals to Christian Dominionism. (It might be noted that DDT’s wife, Melania, remained seated during his statement that “faith and family … are the center of American life.” She has not been seen with DDT after the revelation that he paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep their relationship quiet.)

Among DDT’s guests were people of color, paraded in front of the audience to show how they would follow the white supremacist movement. Two couples were present because their children had been killed by the MS-13 gang members from El Salvador on Long Island. Their presence gave DDT the chance to lie about “thousands and thousands and thousands” of gang members removed or imprisoned by his efforts and brag about eliminating immigrants from legally coming into the country. The number is closer to 1,000—although that might be exaggerated—while ICE concentrates on deporting people who have lived lawfully in the United States for decades. One mother, Evelyn Rodriguez, said that her attendance was not for political gain, but to “get proper funding for the resources for our kids.” DDT President Trump ignored her wishes and used her presence to demand laws to close “deadly” immigration loopholes.

Another guest couple, a policeman and his wife, were applauded because they adopted the child of a opioid addict. The baby’s mother was not even named. She is Crystal Champ, and she’s now been clean for 40 days. Yet nothing was said about helping people forced to live on the streets and develop addictions while DDT’s budget cuts money for them.

DDT extolled the bravery of Ji Seong-ho, a defector from North Korea who rescues other defectors in Seoul after his multiple amputations. Overlooked in the tragic story is the fact that people from North Korea are not allowed into the United States because of DDT’s executive order, and those living here already cannot bring in their rescued family members if DDT has his way.

DDT began his speech calling for unity and then launched into his divisiveness, driving wedges with the use of immigration, religion, and patriotism by showing that some people—mainly white people—are better than others. He returned to his criticism of sports figures—many of them black—for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against blacks and blaming Latinx immigrants for their threat to public safety. One of his guests was an ICE agent, reinforcing DDT’s anti-immigrant focus. Three guests were a military member, and the fourth was a boy who put flags on the grave of veterans.

DDT told his usual plethora of lies about his prowess in the number of jobs, rising wages, unemployment, benefits of rising stock market, tax cut size and its relief for people, increase in family income for lowering corporate taxes, reduction in regulations, description of visa program, the safety net, etc.

Missing within his speech was any mention of women’s issues, deficits, healthcare, guns, Russia, FBI, and details in how he would accomplish any of his lofty goals. He had no guests other than those who he could use to pass his limited agenda—no educators, immigrants who contributed to the nation, domestic violence survivors, volunteers, students, etc. The only member of Congress who DDT recognized was the white supremacist who was shot by another white supremacist. DDT’s speech was reminiscent of the “chicken in every pot” advertising for Herbert Hoover about “Republican Prosperity” in 1928, the year before the crash. It was a fantasy to all the people in his base who he failed during the past year.

One frightening statement DDT made was to increase his authoritarian agenda:

“Tonight I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”

DDT may consider that anyone investigating the president fits in this category. His “call on Congress” takes away an independence from federal agencies such as the IRS, FBI, DOJ, and consumer bureau. The GOP is so closely connected to the president that they could pass such a law, and DDT’s Supreme Court might uphold such an unconstitutional law.

Another DDT request is for a law that foreign aid “only go to friends of America,” a rapidly shrinking category.

People have so normalized DDT’s hatred and anger that his speech was an impressive performance to some. He stayed on his feet, clearly read the words from the teleprompter, and pronounced them correctly. As former Bush speechwriter and conservative David Frum explained it well:

“Look, you can train a seal to sit on the side of a pool for an hour and behave itself. That doesn’t make it no longer a seal.”

Kathleen Parker, conservative columnist, held out hope during DDT’s ensuing tweetlessness the next day. He lasted almost 36 hours after the speech with no tweets until his first ones damned the Democrats and expanded the wedge in the immigration issue. He then complimented himself for the biggest audience for a state of the union speech in history, but the number of watchers came in after those by Bill Clinton (1994), George W. Bush (2002), and Barack Obama (2010). He might get the record for the slowest speech. Bill Clinton spoke only ten minutes longer in 1995, but he said 4,000 words more than DDT’s 5,200 words. In polls for the speech, 48 percent gave him “very positive,” but that result is the lowest in the 20 years of responses. DDT’s approval was also enhanced by asking seven percent more Republicans than Democrats.

What is the State of the Union after DDT’s first year?

  • DDT’s approval rating hovering in the 30s for most of the year, at least 20 percent lower than any other recent president.
  • Only 3 in 10 people saying at the end of 2017 that the nation is heading in the right direction
  • The country more divided because of DDT, according to 67 percent of a survey respondents.
  • Several DDT campaign team under criminal indictment.
  • DDT’s pick for national security advisor already pleading guilty for lying to the FBI.
  • DDT under federal investigation for obstruction of justice and center of a serious sex scandal.
  • Sole legislative accomplishment unpopular tax breaks for wealthy and big corporations with no bipartisanship or regard for the wishes of DDT’s base with only two percent of people in a poll saying that it has led to any financial benefits.
  • Slowest job growth in six years when the economy was coming out of the Recession.
  • Black unemployment falling at a slower rate than the previous four years.
  • GDP growth of 2.3 percent worse than two of the past three years and far away from the four percent needed for the new tax bill.
  • Corporations spending less than 1 percent of their tax cut on bonuses.
  • Growing trade deficit.
  • Global crises, especially in North Korea.
  • Blackout on information from the Middle East including deaths, number of troops, and progress in taking back land.

The pundit who said that DDT “has some wind at his back” may have meant flatulence. Just like President Obama, DDT is turning the economy around; Barack Obama took over a recession and put the country on its feet. DDT is knocking it back down again.

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