Nel's New Day

July 28, 2018

DDT: Week 79 – Attacks Fail to Divert Attention

Tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got crazier this week in his attacks on Iran, FISA judges, U.S. citizens, China, the Russia “hoax,” foreign trade, the Washington Post, DOJ, FBI, the media, and other targets. DDT’s raging statements, sometimes in all caps, repeat Fox network and try to distract people from the negative news such as former campaign manager Paul Manafort heading to trial, Russian spy Mariia Butina in jail without bail, DDT’s fixer Michael Cohen dribbling out information, and continuing negative information about DDT’s relationship with Vladimir Putin.

Declared “weak” in his interactions with Putin, DDT tried to prove his strength—by threatening to attack Iran.

DDT set up a black list of six former top officials, threatening to revoke their security clearances—even ones who don’t have them—because they criticized his foreign policy. expressed alarm about Russian interference in U.S. elections. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused at least six of them for profiting off their public service (ironic because of the millions of dollars that DDT is making from his current position) and making “baseless accusations” against DDT. Sen. Paul Rand (R-KY) takes credit for DDT’s threat. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) chuckled about DDT’s threat and said that he was “just trolling people.” DDT has said no more about the clearances after the original threat: the negative backlash to DDT’s threat may have caused him to back down.

Another backlash may have led DDT to play nice (sort of) with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a short-term arrangement. EU would buy more soybeans and LNG from the U.S. while DDT puts existing tariff plans on hold—except for cars, aluminum, and steel. DDT bragged to farmers about how he “opened up Europe,” but the U.S. sold $1.6 billion in soybeans last year to Europeans. Buying more LNG will take years because new facilities will have to be built.  DDT has called this plan a “deal,” but it is only a truce—not a peace treaty—vaguely suggesting future talks that return to the President Obama’s proposal that DDT earlier rejected.

In an attempt to buy off farmers hurt by his tariffs, DDT promised them $12 billion in socialist welfare, but conservatives are not satisfied. Over 2.5 billion pounds of red meat and poultry languish in warehouses because of no buyers, U.S. producers are scaling back, and pork producers face massive financial losses with some of them possibly going out of business. Farmers say they want stability, not compensation. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called the idea “a Soviet-type of economy here,” and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) described it as a “gold-plated crutch.”

Chinese tariffs helped cause the GDP’s rise to 4.1 percent for this year’s second quarter as farmers desperately exported soybeans in May before the foreign tariff took effect. Increases for that month were 50 percent to 90 percent over last year, a factor that temporarily dropped the trade deficit by $50 billion. Another temporary jolt to the economy was congressional approval of increased federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over two years that increases the deficit. DDT gave credit for the higher GDP to the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, but businesses are putting tax windfalls into stock buybacks and dividends with no long-term benefit. Lack of increases in wages and investments are growing the income inequality.

More damage to DDT comes from Cohen’s turning on him. In the first of at least 100 Cohen tapes to be released, DDT agreed to pay $150,000 to quiet the story about his year-long affair with Karen McDougal during his early marriage with Melania. The voices on the tape may provide more witnesses for Robert Mueller’s investigation, and the tape proves that DDT lied to his voters about his affair and buying her off. It also suggests that DDT had affairs with several women, not just one, and Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, has information about some of these women. DDT’s lies connected to the tape—and the bonus of the video in which a bald eagle frightens DDT.

Following the tape’s release, Cohen’s claimed that he witnessed Donald Trump Jr. tell his father about the June 9, 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and others at Trump Tower before it took place. Both Jr. and DDT have long denied that DDT knew about the meeting for over a year after it happened, but Cohen stated that DDT gave an approval for the meeting. In the meeting were four Russians, Jr., Jared Kushner, and DDT’s campaign director Paul Manafort. Two days before the meeting, DDT had widely announced plans for a “major speech” about Hillary Clinton’s scandals but never delivered.

The Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, hinting that DDT’s business was involved in the Karen McDougal payoff to keep her story out of the National Enquirer. No one may know more about DDT’s financial affairs that Weisselberg. He worked for both DDT and DDT’s father, both for the business and DDT’s foundation that is being sued for violating state and federal laws, set up DDT’s trust, done DDT’s personal tax returns for many years, and reportedly organized the payment to Stormy Daniels.

Microsoft thwarted the hackers who broke into the DNC server during Clinton’s campaign when they targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) last August at the same time that DDT told Missouri audiences to “vote her out of office.” Two other unnamed Democratic candidates were also the hackers’ targets. With no evidence, DDT claimed that Russia is working to elect Democrats in the upcoming election, but he is doing nothing to stop any hacking.

DDT and Republicans may not have any concern about Russians electing more Republicans, but they should be concerned about Russians hacking into the U.S. utility grid. According to the Wall Street Journal, Russian hackers broke into the networks of key U.S. power companies throughout last year, possibly causing blackouts. Companies may not be aware of the program because the hackers used employee identities to enter the networks.

Two Senate committees are investigating the meeting between DDT and Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the Foreign Relations panel, and the Banking Committee will consider legislation to strengthen existing sanctions. Pompeo refused to tell senators about the content of DDT and Putin’s private discussion, perhaps he didn’t know anything. Under questioning, he admitted that North Korea is still producing fissile material for nuclear bombs despite DDT’s guarantee that Kim Jung-Un had stopped. Pompeo’s most reassuring comment was “Fear not.”

Kim Jong-Un refuses to proceed with North Korea’s denuclearization until DDT gives him a permanent peace treaty, an agreement requiring two-thirds acceptance by Congress. Last week, DDT changed his message about North Korea about complete safety for the U.S. to “no rush” and “no time limit” on the denuclearization negotiations. The U.S. has received the remains of only 55 bodies from North Korea despite DDT’s earlier claim that the number was 200. The remains are in Hawaii for identification. About 5,300 U.S. soldiers are missing from the war between North and South Korea in the early 1950s.

The WaPo reported about the aftermath of DDT’s meeting with Kim:

“Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish. Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.”

The interesting term in this reporting is “more money” because no information about payment to North Korea was released.

In another walk-back, DDT said that Putin isn’t invited to the White House until next year, according to John Bolton, because DDT is waiting for the “witch hunt” to be over. Putin had never officially accepted an invitation to Washington, but when he said that DDT is welcome in Russia, DDT jumped at the chance. DDT and Putin may get together at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in late November.

As DDT gets excited about seeing his BFF Putin, a majority of people in the U.S. are displeased about DDT’s pandering to Russia, according to this week’s Quinnipiac and NPR/Marist polls:

  • 68 percent are “very/somewhat concerned” about DDT’s relationship with Russia.
  • 54 percent say that DDT was not acting in the best interest of the U.S. in Helsinki.
  • 63 percent trust U.S. intelligence to tell them the truth over 25 percent for DDT.
  • 51 percent believe Russia has “compromising information” on DDT.
  • 64 percent say DDT is “not tough enough” on Russia.
  • 58 percent of independents “strongly/somewhat” disapprove of DDT in an NBC/WSJ poll.
  • 73% think the Helsinki summit was a success for Russia.
  • 56% agreed in a Navigator survey that DDT’s foreign policy doesn’t put “America first.”

Much more in the next part about DDT’s busy week.

July 27, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 2

When Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court justice, he gave a lovely speech, full of admiration for women and children and minorities. The wealth of his rulings and dissents show that much of what he said was a farce. Possibly even his wife thought so too, from the look on her face.

Separation of Powers – PHH Corp. v. CFPB (2017): Striking down the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kavanaugh opposed the president’s needing a reason to fire the CFPB director. Later, the entire D.C. Circuit Court overrode Kavanaugh’s decision.

Abortion – Garza v. Hargan (2017): The complete D.C. Circuit Court vacated an order preventing an undocumented pregnant teenager from having an abortion. Kavanaugh dissented with the statement that “the en banc majority … reflects a philosophy that unlawful immigrant minors have a right to immediate abortion on demand, not to be interfered with even by government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation by expeditiously transferring them to their sponsors.” The 17-year-old girl had been held prisoner without permission to see a doctor to keep her from having an abortion as the administration tried to postpone any decision until the fetus was too developed for the procedure.

Contraception – Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016): When the D.C. Circuit Court refused to hear a case about employers opting out of birth control coverage by submitting a form, dissented because of the employers’ “religious privilege.” Filling out the form seemed to burden their exercise of religion. Kavanaugh’s view is that courts must accept, without question, any religious claim because any employer has the right to deny birth control coverage to their employees through insurance.

Healthcare – Seven Sky v. Holder (2011): In dissenting to the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh claimed the Anti-Injunction Act, “which carefully limits the jurisdiction of federal courts over tax-related matters.” He argued that a president is not required to enforce the ACA or any other law if he makes that choice. A pending lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ACA could be decided by the Supreme Court.

Voting Restrictions – South Carolina v. United States (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law opposed by the DOJ because of serious racial disparities in photo ID requirements blocking over 60,000 minority registered voters from the polls.

Discrimination – Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives (2013): Kavanaugh’s dissent in this case, if successful, would ban workers in congressional offices from suing on the basis of racism, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  He also claimed in Miller v. Clinton (2012) that the State Department is exempt from being sued for age discrimination. In Rattigan v. Holder (2012), Kavanaugh dissented from the majority rule that a black FBI agent could pursue a case of inappropriate retaliation for filing a discrimination claim when the agency began a security investigation against him.

Hostility to Workers’ Rights – SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez (2014): Kavanaugh opposed a majority ruling upholding a safety citation after a trainer died while working with an orca that had previously killed three other trainers. He said that the government shouldn’t be responsible for protecting these workers. The nominee has a pattern of ruling against workers in other issues such as worker privacy and union disputes. In National Labor Relations Board v. CNN America, Inc. (2017) Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion upholding a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) order that CNN recognize and bargain with a worker’s union. and finding that CNN violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by discriminating against union members in hiring. Another Kavanaugh dissent in National Federation of Federal Employees v. Vilsack (2012) called for drug testing despite the lack of policy. His majority ruling in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates (2007) could allow the Secretary of Defense to eviscerate collective bargaining.

Immigration – Fogo de Chao Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security (2014): The case agreed that specialized cultural knowledge regarding Brazilian-style cooking was valid for a temporary visa, but Kavanaugh wanted to exclude “any and all knowledge or skills … learned from family or community rather than in-company trainers.”

Gun ownership – Heller v. District of Columbia (2011): The ruling in the D.C. Circuit Court supported a law that prohibited assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and that required certain firearms to be registered. Kavanaugh dissented: “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He also stated, “A ban on a class of arms is … equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.” The Supreme Court later overturned Heller.

Net Neutrality – United States Telecom Association v. FCC (2017): After a panel of judges ruled that internet service providers cannot discriminate among content providers, the D.C. Circuit Court refused to rehear the case. Kavanaugh dissented, claiming that the FCC should rely on the 1934 Communications Act which does not allow the FCC to regulate Internet service providers.” The FCC now permits this discrimination.

Environment – EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in this decision that the EPA could not require companies to replace refrigerant chemicals of greenhouse gasses with more sustainable alternatives.  In his dissent to White Stallion Energy Ctr. LLC v. EPA (2014), he stated that the EPA should have considered the cost to the power industry before regulating toxic air pollution. The Supreme Court cited his dissent when it reversed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that had upheld the standards. In Howmet Corp. v. EPA (2010) Kavanaugh dissented from a decision to approve an EPA fine of over $300,000 against a company that had improperly shipped a corrosive chemical to be added to fertilizer without properly labelling it and taking other precautions to treat it as a hazardous waste.

Unlimited Campaign Donations – EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission (2009): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion that led to the creation of super PACs. In Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission (2016), he wrote the opinion which Demos and Campaign Legal Center called “a novel theory that would limit disclosure based on a spender’s tax-status, a theory subsequently rejected by a three-judge court and the Supreme Court.”

A civil rights group wrote:

“Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections.  In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful.  He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people.  And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred.”

Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court can vastly increase the economic inequality in a nation where it is greater than at any time during almost a century, an equality marked by gender and race. Lack of healthcare in the United States has caused it to have a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country. Taking contraception from women keeps many of them from getting and keeping jobs, advancing their careers, furthering their education, and financially supporting themselves. The loss of contraception also produces higher abortion rates.

In the past century, unions have been responsible for decreasing income inequality. As the number of people in unions grew, so did the percentage of people in the middle class. The reverse is also true, especially for women who comprise the majority of public sector workers that Janus v. AFSCME has tried to destroy. The day after the Supreme Court decision allowed workers to have union benefits without charge, it authorized crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to continue to lie to women about their services and the dangers of abortions. Two weeks later, the current administration proposed prevention of home care workers unions.

Brett Kavanaugh is part of the conservative strategy to demolish the structure that attempts to protect the well-being of women and families, the foundation for the United States’ economy and democracy. Gone will be reproductive rights for women, safety and privacy rights for workers, union rights, individual rights, immigration rights, voting rights, religious rights, a clean environment, etc. Big business will be god, and the president will be above the law.

With Kavanaugh as justice—or someone like him—the Supreme Court will be a disaster for the nation.

July 25, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 1

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:59 PM
Tags: ,

On July 9, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court Justice to replace Anthony Kennedy whose resignation takes effect on July 31. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has managed to deflect attention away from his nominee with news about the meeting with Vladimir Putin, his attack on Iran, and his trade war. Other events have also distracted the media: DDT’s incessant lies, the release of tapes between DDT and Michael Cohen showing that he was involved in hiding the story about his affair with Karen McDougal, etc. Media about Kavanaugh largely focuses on the losses of people’s rights—especially women’s reproductive rights—if Kavanaugh is approved.

The biggest concern facing the people in the United States with Brett Kavanaugh as a justice on the highest court, however, should be that he could put DDT above the law. In the past, he protected George W. Bush by writing that sitting presidents should not have to concern himself with civil suits, criminal probes, prosecutors’ questioning—any “time-consuming and distracting” lawsuits and investigations.

Worse, Kavanaugh said three times on a panel with other lawyers that the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in 1974 requiring Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes was wrong. Kavanaugh said that Nixon may have had the authority to hide incriminating evidence from federal investigators and that U.S. v. Nixon should perhaps be “overruled.” In 2009, Kavanaugh argued that “Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”

In addition to making the president above the law—at least a GOP president—Kavanaugh proposed a six-year presidential term by repealing the 23rd Amendment to the constitution. [That would give DDT six years to campaign instead of the four years that he’s using at this time.]

Kavanaugh’s opinion may be for only Republican presidents. He helped author the 1998 Starr Report which gave the case Bill Clinton’s impeachment and removal from office. The document states that a president who lies, whether or not under oath, could be impeached. By 2004, the George W. Bush nominee for a federal judgeship had changed his mind:

“It was not our place to say what the House should do with that or what the Senate should do with that evidence.”

Likely decisions from a Supreme Court with Kavanaugh based on his earlier rulings:

  • Overturning Roe v. Wade, permitting abortions, or at the least allowing states to make the decision and creating inequality for women throughout the nation.
  • Loss of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Establishment of a Christian theocracy for the United States with the distorted view of “religious liberty” that discriminates against all minorities and women.
  • Control by the judiciary over regulations by overturning the Chevron doctrine.
  • Eradication of any agencies independent from executive control.
  • Elimination of the balance of powers. 
  • Almost unlimited ownership of guns, including semi-automatic rifles.
  • Permission for foreigners to donate money for U.S. candidates by allowing them to spend money on independent advocacy campaigns.

The Federalist Society picked Kavanaugh for the nomination—although Kennedy may have leveraged the deal. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah refused to answer a question about whether DDT told Kennedy he would nominate Kavanaugh if Kennedy retired. Kennedy could be in control of a SCOTUS seat for 60 years—30 years for himself and 30 or more for the 53-year-old Kavanaugh.” Kennedy’s son bailed Jared Kushner out of a nasty loan when rents on Kushner’s $1.8 billion purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue met only 65 percent of his loan payments. Vornado, servicer on the loan from LNR Partners where Kennedy’s son worked, reduced the principal and deferred part of the interest on the interest-only loan until February 2019.

Kavanaugh’s last confirmation took three years for approval. The American Bar downgraded Kavanaugh’s qualification rating judges and colleagues described him as “less than adequate,” “sanctimonious,” “insulated,” and “immovable and very stubborn.”  In 2006, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) complained that Kavanaugh “spoke of making rulings and whatnot that would make President Bush proud.”

Cleared by anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice organizations, Kavanaugh suggested that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided and claimed that a president can refuse to enforce a statute that a court has ruled constitutional. He could also vote to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird, that legalize contraception for unmarried women. One of his dissents was to nullify the ACA preexisting condition coverage, including for people with HIV. His dissent in the decision that a migrant girl could have an abortion claimed that the government created a “new right” for immigrants in custody “to obtain immediate abortion on demand” for “unlawful immigrant minors.”

Comments about Kavanaugh:

Demand Progress: “Trump’s SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is an enemy of net neutrality and has sided with big cable companies in the lower courts.”

Politico’s Tim Starks: Kavanaugh “has a history of embracing warrantless surveillance and rejecting Fourth Amendment challenges to it.”

Vox’s Dylan Matthews:  “He’s a veteran of every conservative cause you can imagine, from the 2000 Florida recount to the fight against Obamacare.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “He believes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, he tried to strike down net neutrality, and he’s worked to make it harder for federal watchdogs to hold corporate criminals accountable and protect public health, safety, and economic security.”

Chris Murphy: “Brett Kavanaugh is an anti-consumer zealot, an opponent of preexisting condition protections, a critic of abortion rights and access to contraception, a Second Amendment radical, and a bad choice for the Supreme Court.”

Although Yale Law School’s press release about Kavanaugh sang his virtues, over 600 of the school’s students, staff members, and alumni signed a letter calling for the school to rescind this support citing Kavanaugh’s rulings to show that his conservative bias could place SCOTUS rulings at risk. The letter also stated that Kavanaugh would act as a “rubber stamp for President Trump’s fraud and abuse.” It added:

“At a time when the President and his associates are under investigation for various serious crimes, including colluding with the Russian government and obstructing justice, Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme deference to the Executive poses a direct threat to our democracy.”

Democrats have asked for hundreds of thousands of pages to examine Kavanaugh’s history. One black mark against him may be his testimony that he knew nothing about the George W. Bush administration torture of detainees. Senators had earlier confirmed Jay Bybee to the 9th Circuit Court before they discovered his part in writing the memos justifying this torture. Kavanaugh may not have directly lied, but he waffled enough to mislead the senators. He was asked to recuse himself from any cases dealing with detainee-related issues but refused. The person who signed his letter of exoneration is Brian Benczkowski who was confirmed to lead DOJ’s criminal division after he worked for the largest Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin. Two members who felt misled by Kavanaugh still sit on the Judiciary Committee.

One oddity about Kavanaugh is his large decade-long credit card debt—between $60,000 and $200,000—to buy Washington Nationals’ season tickets and baseball playoff games for himself and a “handful” of friends. Shah claimed that some of his debts during the past decade were for home improvement and that Kavanaugh’s friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets later. Kavanaugh’s only listed assets are his home with a $865,000 mortgage, his wife’s retirement fund between $15,000 and $65,000, and his own retirement fund. His wife annually makes $66,000 as town manager for Chevy Chase; their daughters’ annual tuition is $20,050.

A minority of people in the U.S. will determine the direction of the United States for decades: a president elected by a minority of voters has nominated another white Catholic male for the U.S. Supreme Court, and senators elected by a minority of the voters will in most likelihood confirm the nominee. And the situation will get only worse in the future. By 2040, 70 percent of people will live in 15 states, leaving the 70 senators from the remaining 30 percent—older, whiter, more rural, and more male—will be able to confirm—or not confirm—the president’s nominees. That’s the conclusion of conservative Norm Ornstein based on population estimates. With almost half the population in only eight states by 2040, half the U.S. population will control 84 percent of the Senate.

[To be continued with Kavanaugh’s major cases.]

July 24, 2018

Government Causes Lawsuits

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:06 PM
Tags:

The new policies from the Republican government, led by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) drops some regulations and enforces others that remove human rights. The result is a number of lawsuits.

After a lawsuit mandated the return of migrant children to their parents by July 26, the Department of Homeland Safety announced nearly 1,200 children reunited with their parents, but part of this number represents children whose parents have been deported. A more careful examination shows that 463 parents whose children were kidnapped at the border can’t be found and were possibly deported. They are listed as “under review” with no more details to the judge who demanded a report. Children kept from their parents were subjected to abuses such as spoiled food, dehydration, enforced sleeplessness, cold, injuries, no medical care, lack of hygiene, bullying, and general neglect—all leading to serious psychological damage. This site provides frequent updates of reunification for the almost 3,000 children.

Two Republican judges in the 5th Circuit, one appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that DDT can fire the head of a federal housing agency at will, giving him the same power in other agencies designed to be independent of the president. The decision in Collins v. Mnuchin could allow DDT to control the Federal Reserve. He has already said that he doesn’t like the increases in the prime rate from his own nominees although he complained about President Obama not increasing the prime rate. With the power to fire Federal Reserve governors, supposedly fired only for cause, he could artificially stimulate the economy in 2020 which could throw the nation into a massive recession soon after.

DDT is taking on California again, this time planning to eliminate the waiver permitting the state to regulate automobile emissions in its revision of Obama-era standards. The 2012 plan drastically improves fuel efficiency while reducing emissions in efforts to slow climate change. Last April, DDT said that fuel efficiency wasn’t important because gas prices had dropped the science of the “social cost of carbon” is bunk. California didn’t change its position, however, and the EPA may try to ban California from setting its own fuel economy rules. The new standards not only help the climate but also save consumers $3,200 to $5,700 in gasoline costs over a vehicle’s lifetime under the existing rule. On to court. Here’s a view of the 38 lawsuits that California has filed against the federal government.

Another endangered regulation is the 1973 Endangered Species Act that saved the bald eagle and the gray wolf along with other species from extinction. Some people may recognize the eagle’s image on the Great Seal of the United States for the past 236 years. When it was enacted 45 years ago, then President Nixon claimed it as “an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage, threatened wildlife.” The law identifies threatened species, designated necessary habitats, and follows the process of preserving both these elements until the species have recovered in sustainable numbers. New guidelines from the Interior Department creates new cost-benefit analyses and negates science determining which species are declining in number—especially if they are on lands and in waters that mining and fossil fuel industries want. Hunting, shooting, trapping, etc. will also be opened up for endangered species on a “case-by-case basis.” Scientists are also ordered to “avoid speculating as to what is hypothetically possible” in the disappearance of species.

DDT has also stopped a review of pesticide impact on the endangered and threatened species in the U.S., that concluded pesticides jeopardized more than 1,800 species including 18 types of salmon. Officials from the three agencies involved in the report met with major pesticide manufacturers to instruct them in methods of influencing their product reviews; manufacturers taught the officials what data to use to swing the results in favor of unrestricted pesticides. The National Marine Fisheries Service has rejected its own 3,749-page report showing that pesticides threaten half the fish and other endangered species in its jurisdiction. Chemicals not only kill the species but also change swimming patterns, reproductive systems, and pursuit of prey.

At this time, the Interior Department is ignoring public comment and positive evidence about saving public lands that doesn’t fit with its favoritism for big business. The agency mistakenly downloaded thousands of emails showing that it dismissed evidence about the value of tourism and increased archaeological discoveries while listing only the value of energy development, logging, and ranching. (After pulling these documents, officials asked that they be ignored.) The department also cut information from the public comment process. Presidents have the legal right to establish national monuments to save federal land or waters from endangering cultural, historical, or natural resources. DDT has done just the reverse, already reducing two of Utah’s biggest monuments and possibly shrinking others. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is considering the removal of forested areas within Cascade-Siskiyou for “timber production.” Another lawsuit?

The 9th Circuit Court again denied DDT’s decision to ban transgender people from openly serving in the military by refusing to stay a preliminary injunction from a lower court. Thus far, seven courts have refused to stop transgender people from the military. The case will go to trial in April 2019.

MGM Resorts International has filed federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 Las Vegas mass shooting victims to keep from being liable for lax security. A spokeswoman said:

“Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”

After 19 current and former tenants filed a $10 million lawsuit against Jared Kushner’s company, New York started an investigation into the company’s tenant harassment complaints. Tenants claimed that the purpose of the dangerous construction conditions beginning in 2015 was to drive them out of rent-regulated apartments so that Kushner could sell renovated unit for luxury apartments. Kushner is also dodging subpoenas for the DNC’s lawsuit claiming DDT’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016. After the Secret Service protected Kushner and he refused certified mail, a New York federal judge forced Kushner’s lawyer to accept service of the DNC complaint.

A DDT-appointed federal judge ruled that the government can prioritize abstinence and “natural methods” over contraception in the federal Title X family planning program. The decision has a big affect on low-income people who use public funds for family planning care. HHS has announced that its funding will select groups who cooperate with faith-based organizations and have a “meaningful emphasis” on “stable, healthy marriages” and avoid “sexual risk.” The practice of abstinence greatly increases teen pregnancies as this chart comparing the U.S. to other countries, shows.

Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

Same-gender couples can foster and adopt children from Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Bethany Christian Services if they have contracts with Philadelphia, according to a federal ruling. Earlier this year, the city had suspended both their contracts if they didn’t comply, and Bethany agreed to comply with the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. CSS sued for a religious exemption, admitting that it discriminated, but the judge said that it must comply with city law if it receives city money. CSS plans to appeal the ruling.

A judge is permitting lawyers representing the victims of Charlottesville (VA) to sue white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizers under the Ku Klux Klan. The lawsuit claims the defendants conspired to hurt black and Jewish people and their supporters. The case may go to trial next summer.

https://www.alternet.org/trump-re-election-campaign-has-spent-over-1-million-legal-bills-january?src=newsletter1094381    DDT launched his campaign for the 2020 presidency as soon as he was inaugurated, but it’s primary goal seems to be getting donors to pay his legal fees–$1.2 million thus far in 2018 to eight law firms and the Trump Corporation. Much of the money has gone to silencing a porn star, protecting DDT’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, and trying to keep DDT’s “lawyer” Michael Cohen out of trouble.

Donors may also have to pay out to Noel Cintron, DDT’s personal driver for 25 years, who filed a complaint for $200,000 to cover back pay for 3,300 overtime hours in the past six years. After he stopped driving DDT because the U.S. Secret Service was in control of DDT’s transportation, he was a member of DDT’s security staff. His last raise was in 2010 with the condition that he forfeit all health benefits.

July 21, 2018

DDT: Week 78 – Walking Back

The meeting at Helsinki with Vladimir Putin was supposed to be a high spot of the first 18 months for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) after he was inaugurated. Instead it was his worst week thus far: he spent four days walking back his statements before escaping to his Bedminster (NJ) resort. After denying his rejection of intelligence information about Putin’s election meddling which may have made the presidential election illegitimate, DDT invited Putin to Washington in the fall, but the GOP head of the Senate said that Putin would not be welcome in Congress. DDT’s actions are increasingly called treasonous.[visual new York cover]

Doug Heye, former communications director for the RNC, said:

“Helsinki was such a disaster that we have lost sight of the disasters that came before that in Brussels and London. Then, from a PR perspective, obviously the back and forth they’ve had this week has also been a disaster—and not how crisis communications is handled, to put it mildly.”

Even Rupert Murdoch’s the Wall Street Journal slammed DDT about Helsinki, questioning his loyalty to the country in a “Trump First Doctrine.” The editorial suggested that the GOP join Democrats to check DDT’s diplomatic powers. “Political isolation concerning a foreign adversary is a weak and dangerous place to be,” according to the editorial.

Republicans worked hard to use Peter Strzok as a tool to get rid of the Mueller investigation, grilling him 21 hours in two days—the second day televised. They pushed the falsehood that he was trying to keep DDT from being elected, something he could have done if he had announced before the election that DDT’s campaign was being investigated for Russian collusion—which he didn’t.

Shortly before DDT left for his weekly vacation, he faced reports about a secretly recorded tape between him and former lawyer Michael Cohen two months before the election about a hush payoff for his affair with Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/us/politics/michael-cohen-trump-tape.html  Earlier DDT denied his almost year-long affair with McDougal that began soon after Melanie Trump gave birth to their son Barron. DDT’s lawyers permitted the tape’s release, and Rudy Giuliani said that it shows no wrongdoing.

Giuliani remains DDT’s legal mouthpiece on television, but he keeps working for foreign clients, including Brazil, Colombia, and a Iranian dissident group listed by the State Department as a terrorist group. Giuliani has not registered with the DOJ, claiming that he doesn’t directly lobby the U.S. government and doesn’t charge DDT for his “services.” An authority said that Giuliani’s speeches to the group require his registration. Since Giuliani became DDT’s lawyer in April, and has given opinions on Iran, North Korea, and other issues outside his position while divulging details about discussions with both DDT and Robert Mueller’s office.

Russia still dominates other disasters for DDT. Documents from the DOJ about a secret FISA warrant to surveil DDT’s foreign policy adviser Carter Page show that he is “an agent of a foreign power” recruited by Russia to “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election in violation of U.S. criminal law.” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) had accused the FBI and DOJ of using a dossier by a private British citizen for its surveillance, but information debunked that claim. The 412 pages, obtained by Gizmodo with a Freedom of Information Act request filed 15 months ago, are heavily redacted but damaging to Page, who plans to refute the application’s claims on CNN’s State of the Union tomorrow.

Paul Manafort is still in jail after violating his bail agreement for contacting witnesses. An appeal by his lawyers to delay the trial scheduled for July 25 in Virginia caused his move to a new prison from his old VIP one that provided him two computers, the second one used to read and write emails that his legal team takes from jail to transmit the emails permitting him to continue witness intimidation. Manafort also had a private, self-contained living unit with personal bathroom and shower facilities, a personal telephone, and a workroom available to him between early in the morning until late in the evening. His laptop had an extension cord so that he can use it in his cell after 10:00 pm. The lawyers tried to withdraw their concerns because of “safety” in the new jail, but the judge turned them down. Judge T.S. Ellis, a Reagan appointee, said that the Alexandria facility has experience with inmates such as “foreign and domestic terrorists, spies and traitors.”

Manafort pleaded not guilty to Robert Mueller’s charges that he dramatically understated his income on federal tax returns from 2010 through 2014 and allegations of bank fraud totaling more than $20 million tied to loans he applied for in connection with various homes he owns. The prosecution plans to present over 500 pieces of evidence regarding his wealth. Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. for money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent for his work in Ukraine is scheduled for September. So who’s paying for Manafort’s lgal team?

DDT’s obsession with “fake news” may come from his obsession in watching the Fox network. The Fox News morning show Fox & Friends claimed in a tweet that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation “still hasn’t tied anyone from the campaign to the probe.” Several people from the campaign, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have been “tied” to the investigation. Direct guilty pleas came from George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, who briefly became DDT’s national security adviser. The Fox tweet has been removed.

DDT’s most recent pardons are for two Oregon ranchers, Dwight and Steven Hammond, convicted for setting fire to federal land when they were trying to cover up illegally poaching seven deer. Firefighters had to be airlifted out of the area to save their lives. The Hammonds had a 28-year history of permit violations and unauthorized fires on 45,000 acres. According to witnesses, Steven Hammond “handed out ‘Strike Anywhere’ matches because they were going to ‘light up the whole country on fire.’” The pardon goes far beyond pandering to white supremacists, however; it leads to privatizing public land for mining and drilling so that private companies can plunder resources without paying royalties. During his first year, DDT concealed the identities of the benefitting firms with these giveaways by obscure online methods. Not even the fabled Grand Canyon is safe.

GOP House members supported DDT in removing sanctions from the Chinese company ZTE guilty of violating sanctions by selling U.S. goods to Iran in violation of sanctions, and senators agreed. DDT was concerned about a possible closure of the company with his tweet, “Too many jobs in China lost.”

Unions received another blow from DDT’s administration after the Supreme Court said that they had to provide services to employees for free. DDT eliminated a regulation requiring employers to report information about the union-busting consultants that companies hire. Although federal law mandates companies to report hires of “persuaders” who talk to workers about not unionizing, they no longer have this mandate if their lawyers and consultants don’t directly talk to employees.

DDT has also shut down guideline.gov, the National Guideline Clearinghouse, which has provided an online database of best health care practices from medical groups and researchers. Doctors used this source to relevant guidelines from what was considered the world’s most comprehensive and reliable repositories. Republicans claimed that the Clearinghouse was too expensive, but its cost was roughly equivalent to HHS Secretary Tom Price’s expenditures on travel during his 240 days.

DDT continues to decimate the Affordable Care Act. Earlier in July, he stopped annual payments to even out costs for insurers when clients need expensive medical services. This permanent risk adjustment was part of the law. With the threat of higher premiums and failure of small insurance companies, DDT may have to reverse his position. He will, however, continue his recent policy of 90 percent cuts in advertising to encourage participation and 40 percent cuts for “navigator” programs that help consumers sign up. Rupert Murdoch’s USA Today opposes DDT’s determination to kill the ACA that has “until now … been a success.”  The editorial concludes:

“Republicans should be held accountable for their handiwork — even if they do it in a bureaucratic dark alley instead of openly in the halls of Congress.”

DDT is even opposed to providing accurate information about breastfeeding. At the World Health Assembly in late May, the U.S. supported infant formula manufacturers and threatened trade wars and cessation of military aid targeting Ecuador if it didn’t drop the resolution to provide scientific information about breastfeeding. Ecuador caved in, followed by at least a dozen African nations, most of them poor, that feared retaliation. The U.S., however, did not threaten Russia when it introduced the breastfeeding measure, and the resolution passed. It cites scientific evidence that infants are healthiest with breastfeeding and tries to block infant formula manufacturers from lying to consumers. A 2016 study found that breast-feeding could prevent 800,000 child deaths a year and save $300 billion because of reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for breastfed infants.

The European Union and Japan on Tuesday signed a major trade deal eliminating most tariffs. The United States has lost more of its influence.

July 20, 2018

DDT’s Personnel: People Come, People Go

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:27 PM
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The shiny object of Russia distracts the media from appointments of federal officials by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), but he and the GOP senators continue to move the United States back into a 19th century known for its racism, sexism, and Puritanical Christian control.

Nominees:

Andrew Oldham, Texas’ Gov. Greg Abbott’s top legal adviser, slipped into the 5th U.S. Circuit Court with a 50–49 vote approval. DDT made him the fourth alumnus of Texas AG office to join the appeals court for Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the past 18 months. Oldham made news by refusing to say whether the famous desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided. About Oldham, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote:

“As his record clearly shows, he has worked to restrict and undermine voting rights, immigrant rights, women’s access to reproductive care, environmental protection, and gun safety. Even more concerning is his potential influence on current litigation in the Fifth Circuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, Mr. Oldham could be a deciding vote to undermine healthcare access for millions of people.”

At 40 years of age, Oldham will be making conservative decisions for up to a half century. He is the 23rd appeals court judge confirmed since DDT was inaugurated.

The Senate panel moved seven more judges to the Senate floor, four of the nominees for federal appeals courts:

  • Britt Grant (11th Circuit Court): helped draft an amicus brief to strike down the Voting Rights Act and another that challenged protection from deportation for people in the country with children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • David Porter (3rd Circuit Court): opposed the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act and lacks support of one of his state’s (Pennsylvania) senators.
  • Marvin Quattlebaum (4th Circuit Court): has limited experience practicing before appellate courts.
  • Julius Richardson (4th Circuit Court): little opposition.
  • Roy Altman and Jude Rodolfo Ruiz (U.S. District Courts in Florida); Raul Arias-Marxuach (U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico)

Brian Benczkowski, confirmed to run the criminal division of the Department of Justice, previously worked for Alfa Bank, the biggest Russia bank and one with ties to Vladimir Putin. His new position gives him the opportunity to look at the Mueller investigation and the chance to delay or deny the approvals, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Another problem would be if he passes along information to the Russians.

Kathy Kraninger, DDT’s nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is his weapon to kill any remaining assistance for U.S. consumers. She lacks any experience or interest in consumer protection or financial services and resisted efforts to provide documentation about DDT’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies, the government response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and HUD’s ongoing affordable housing problems when she oversaw a $250 billion budget within seven Cabinet departments and 30 federal agencies. Kraninger’s closeness to acting director and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will keep him in charge of the agency he wants to eliminate. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a 14-page report about Kraninger’s “record of failure” in an examination of the agencies she supervises for the OMB.

Withdrawn: 

Ryan Bounds, DDT’s nomination for the 9th Circuit Court, has been withdrawn for lack of votes and with DDT’s support. An assistant U.S. attorney for Oregon, Bounds failed to receive approval of either the state’s senators. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) brought up Bounds’ earlier writing that ridiculed multiculturalism and criticized anti-racism groups. Bounds made the situation worse by omitting references to these writings in the materials he submitted for his confirmation.

Resignations:

Jennifer Arangio, a top National Security Council official, left after disagreeing with officials such as Stephen Miller over the immigration policy. Several members have bailed the agency after John Bolton took over. Below are some other DDT casualties up to the date of Scott Pruitt’s resignation. 

Jeffrey Tricoli, senior FBI official and expert in cyber intelligence, has left his position as one of the two leaders of the agency’s election-meddling task force. There is no indication of a replacement.

Four members of an advisory council for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quit because of DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy, calling it “morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered.” Two of the members sent additional letters condemning such policies as the Muslim bans, the border walls, and the elimination of the DACA program.

Scott Pruitt, the highest profile resignation in July thus far, left the EPA after a long list of ethics abuses and at least 18 federal investigations. DDT said that he will “go on to great things.” Pruitt may run for Senate or Oklahoma governor although his hopes for a presidential election may be gone. His charges for personal items, including some of his clothing, were phenomenal even in the time of DDT’s wastefulness. Pruitt’s mistreatment of his staff led to a large number of resignations from the EPA, some of them close associates he brought with him from Oklahoma. https://splinternews.com/were-still-finding-out-about-evil-shit-the-epa-did-unde-1827737702  The former EPA secretary’s legacy lives on in discovery of emails to Pruitt from his staff, attempting to protect him from the formaldehyde emissions of his new $9,500 desk. A few months later, Pruitt aides blocked public knowledge of an EPA report that the same chemical is “linked with leukemia, nose-and-throat cancer and other ailments.”

Replacements:

Andrew Wheeler, the new EPA acting director, continues the Environmental Plundering Agency’s destruction of lives: the most recent action by the former coal lobbyist is to pollute drinking water by rolling back coal ash storage regulations from 2015. The rule change also weakened testing standards for lead, cobalt, lithium, and molybdenum in adjacent waters. Highly toxic sludge from cooling coal ash that seeps into aquifers can contain arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.

Bill Shine, new White House deputy chief of staff for communications and replacement for Hope Hicks, may be the most fitting appointment for DDT. Forced out of being co-president of the Fox network, Shine allegedly facilitated sexual harassment by Fox CEO Roger Ailes. He also covered up harassment complaints, persuaded employees to Reports about the scandals at Fox News indicate Shine was instrumental in keeping harassment complaints under wraps, rallying employees to protest accusers, and pushed women to confidential mediation so that the information would be kept secret. The Fox network is now the official state television outlet for the United States White House.

Darla Shine, Bill Shine’s wife, will also be welcome in the White House because of her racist tweets. For example, she questions why white people should be called racist for using the n-word if black people aren’t, defends the Confederate battle flag, and highlights black-on-white crime. She also defends DDT’s profane remarks African countries and his policy that Muslims be barred from the United States. Other of her tweets ridicule transgender people.

Shahira Knight, DDT’s tax adviser, has replaced Marc Short as the director of White House legislative affairs just as the senate faces confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice. Republican legislators said that she played an important role in getting the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business passed.

The clock is ticking down to future resignations. Chief of staff John Kelly is prime suspect for the next one, especially after rumors that, after DDT denied his own intelligence agencies in preference to Putin’s claim of not interfering in a U.S. election, Kelly told GOP legislators that they could protest DDT’s DDT’s false claims. Kelly has been making faces at DDT’s stupidity for months, and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders can say only so many times that he wants a full breakfast instead of pastries. For a long time, people have said that Kelly will stay as long as he can help the nation, but DDT doesn’t listen to him. Eleven days from now, Kelly celebrates his one-year anniversary as DDT’s punching bag. He may pick that time to depart. On the other hand, he may be too stubborn to leave although Bill Shine is golden in the White House. [Right: A happy Kelly watches DDT leave for his weekend golfing vacation at Bedminster.]

DDT has said in the past that he doesn’t need a chief of staff. He certainly doesn’t make use of one. But it might be a way to bring back Hope Hicks, who he viewed “like a daughter,” or elevate Shine.

But then National Intelligence Director Dan Coats is also in trouble for defending the intelligence agencies and playing to the audience at the Aspen Security Forum. With DDT, you never know what direction the wind blows.

July 19, 2018

The News for July 19, 2018

Today is the 170th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention, when about 300 people–mostly women–gathered to address “the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” They persisted, and one of those who attended managed to vote for the first time when women gained the right to vote 72 years later. On this day 170 years later, the current administration is attempting to rapidly reverse the accomplishments of the 21st century.  Following is an overview of a few political highlights for today, July 19, 2018:

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has been forced to back down, this time from his anti-U.S. intention to turn U.S. government employees over to Vladimir Putin. As the Senate prepared to vote on a resolution opposing DDT’s honoring Putin’s request, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that DDT “disagrees” with the “proposal that was made in sincerity by President Putin.” He had suggested swapping the 12 Russians indicted last week for 11 current former U.S. officials. The resolution stopping many government officials from being turned over to Russia for questioning passed the Senate by 98-0. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) were absent for the vote. Republicans did reject efforts to support the intelligence community’s assessment, Mueller’s probe, and implementation of congressional sanctions. None of these resolutions would have been binding on DDT.

Republicans plan to keep Russian meddling: the House refused to increase election security spending. The GOP prefers voter ID to stop non-existent voter fraud and repress non-GOP voting. The commission administering the election security grant program is missing half its four members. Without a quorum, it cannot approve testing of voting systems for required standards, and the patchwork of voting systems has differing degrees of reliability. It’s a policy to “Keep American Republican.”

Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stopped President Obama from making public the information about Russia’s hacking and election interference with accusations that it was a partisan move. No more. Despite the indifference of Republicans in Congress, DOJ’s Rod Rosenstein has a new policy to tell the U.S. companies, organizations, and others who are being attacked by foreign hacking and disinformation campaigns. He said, “The American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda.” A Microsoft executive told the audience at the Aspen Security Forum today that Russia has target at least three candidates this year.

In another interview at the Aspen Security Forum, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained that removal of thousands of children from their parents is “to protect children.” She added that the courts—that actually require her to reunite children—are preventing families from staying together. In another noble move on her part, “we give a pregnancy test at DHS to every girl over 10.” It is her agency that imprisons pregnant girls to keep them from having any abortions unless courts manage to allow them to see doctors. Her claim that DHS gives aid to members of radical extremist groups who want to be non-violent is negated by her administration rolling back funds for this rehabilitation. The outstanding part of her responses was the support for “both sides” being to blame for the Charlottesville violence: “It’s not that one side is right, one side is wrong.” The official DDT administration position is that white supremacists are not wrong.

DDT has found another way to get rid of people he considers undesirable. Applicants for asylum visas no longer have 30 days to take care of missing or inaccurate information on their applications. The new policy is to immediately deport them with no advance warning—just a final statutory denial. They will be treated like criminals, who are also deported on a fast-tracked basis. [If only we could automatically reject DDT’s nominees who provide forms with missing or incomplete information!] The new policy politely states that it is “not intended to penalize filers for innocent mistakes.” AG Jeff Sessions also disallows domestic and gang violence claims as bases for asylum; those seeking asylum must provide evidence that they fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. Fear of death doesn’t count.

On Fox’s Tucker Carlson show, DDT accused Montenegro of being responsible for starting World War III if it joins NATO because its people are “very aggressive.” Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic came into the limelight a year ago when DDT aggressively pushed him out of his path at the 2017 NATO meeting. [Full video here.] The country of 630,000 alienated Russia because it planned to join NATO: the Kremlin may have meddled in its elections, and pro-Russian militants planned a failed 2016 coup. NATO has an agreement that the other 28 members will support any one member attacked from outside. In its 69-year history, that agreement has been invoked only once—when 28 members went to the aid of the United States after the 9/11 attack. NATO members are still in Afghanistan after 17 years of the U.S. war there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convinced DDT to drop out of the Iran deal, according to a video of Netanyahu’s speech to his Likud party.

Poverty is no longer a problem in the United States. At least, that’s what DDT’s administration claims. A few facts they missed:

  • About 40.6 million people—12.7 percent of the population—lived below the official poverty line in 2016.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure shows that 14.5 percent of people in the U.S. are impoverished.
  • Over 20 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty.
  • The United States was second only to Israel of the richest countries with the percentage of people in poverty in 2014.

DDT maintains that income data doesn’t reflect poverty because poorer people underreport their income, and interviews about consumption make poverty in the U.S. disappear. In that way, DDT can declare “mission accomplished” on the War on Poverty and do away with the entire safety net. Refuting this claim is a study tracking economic adversity, including reports of difficulty in paying for food, utility bills, rent, or medical care that comes out about the same as official poverty rates. DDT’s method shows a decline in poverty as more households struggle with costs of food and shelter. The chart below shows the how DDT’s system skews the facts:

Reasons for the inaccuracy of DDT’s report:

  • Poor people finance their spending with debt—payday loans, second mortgages they can’t afford, etc.
  • The cost of living for DDT’s report is adjusted more slowly than the official Consumer Price Index, making household spending appear to be growing faster.

EPA Scott Pruitt and his corruption may be gone, but the United States still has Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. After several reports of his illegally using taxpayer money, his own department’s IG is investigating the man responsible for protecting public lands about his real estate deal with Halliburton Chair Davi Lesar. The foundation run by Zinke and his wife granted Lesar’s real-estate development the permission to put a parking lot on land donated to the foundation for a Veteran’s Peace Park in Whitefish (MT). Zinke is also under investigation for a violation of the Hatch Act after tweeting himself wearing socks with DDT’s face and “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest fracking and offshore drilling companies; Zinke repeatedly opened up federal lands and coastal waters for fossil fuel drilling.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), known for his frequently obnoxious grilling of Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, Peter Strzok, and others regarding their possible connections with foreign countries, has been revealed as a beneficiary of foreign monies for his election from his superpacs, including Great America PAC, that may also fund Russia’s attack on the U.S. election. The PACs’ major donors have direct ties with Cambridge Analytic, now defunct, that helped elect DDT through data collection, hacking, and social media manipulation. As chair of the Oversight Committee, Gowdy refused members 52 times to request subpoenas for interviews in the Russia probe. He will not be running for re-election.

ALEC, the powerful organization that writes conservative legislation for lawmakers, has lost ExxonMobil after Ford, Google, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and many others left the group. The biggest oil and gas company in the world followed BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips in abandoning the Koch Brothers’ group after a disagreement about an ALEC resolution that would ask the feds to reconsider its findings that greenhouse gasses are harmful to human health. A major contributor to the secretive organization since 1981, Exxon has given millions to promote the conservative corporate agenda. Its departure comes in the midst of state investigations into its connection with hiding evidence about its climate impact from its shareholders as well as the public.

The classic for today comes during an interview at the Aspen Security Forum when NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell tells Director of National Intelligence Director Dan Coats the breaking news that Vladimir Putin is coming to Washington this fall. The video is not to be missed. The best part may also be that McConnell said that Put will not be coming to Congress. I’m sure that DDT wants to be alone with Putin anyway. The question is how long Coats will keep his job.

And that’s just one day for DDT’s administration.

DDT Sinks to Terrifying Low

For almost two years, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has claimed that he knows nothing about Russia meddling in the presidential election and the search into the issue is a “witch hunt.” The New York Times has now reported that DDT received highly classified intelligence including texts and emails from Russian military officers showing Vladimir Putin personally ordered cyberattacks to move the election toward DDT. CIA Director John O. Brennan, National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr., and National Security Agency Adm. Michael S. Rogers briefed DDT at Trump Tower on January 6, 2017. At that time, Rogers was also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command. Almost a dozen people, including FBI Director James Comey, either attended the meeting or were later briefed on it. After the briefing, Comey privately told DDT about the “Steele dossier,” that contained sensational stories about DDT’s visit to Moscow.

One source to the evidence was so sensitive that Brennan kept the reference to the person from the Presidential Daily Brief and instead sent reports from the source separately to President Obama and a few top national security aides.

Despite this information, DDT finished his meeting with Putin last Monday by standing next to him at a press conference and again saying that he believes Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Public outcry caused him to revise his statement, but he continued to support the Russian leader.

Also in January 2017, DDT was briefed about how the same Russians who meddled in the election, including the hacking and release of DNC emails, had been involved in cyberattacks on the State Department and White House unclassified email systems in 2014 and 2015 as well as an attack on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After the briefings, DDT issued a statement blaming “Russia, China and other countries, outside groups and countries” for cyberattacks against the U.S. government, businesses, and political organizations. He added, “There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election.”

Brennan and Clapper left the government on the day that DDT was inaugurated. He portrayed them as political hacks who had twisted intelligence as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s election loss. According to evidence, however, Russia is still aggressive meddling despite his acceptance of Putin’s denial of interference. DDT has spent his 545 days in office shifting the topic of Russian meddling to Clinton’s computer server, promoting the false belief that she has broken the law. He claims that Russia is so good at cyberattacks that hackers could never be caught and denigrated the intelligence about the interference.

When cornered, DDT repeats,  “I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts.”

The facts:

  • DDT constantly refuses to address Russia’s cyberattacks and election meddling, praises Vladimir Putin for his strong leadership, indicates warmth and trust toward Russia and Putin, and says that he is helpless because Putin denies any interference.
  • DDT continues to say that his intelligence agencies are wrong until cornered.
  • DDT only signed a congressional bill calling for new sanctions against Russia because it was veto-proof.
  • DDT failed to follow through on the sanctions.
  • DDT’s agencies and Congress forced DDT to fund for the European Reassurance Initiative, release a missile attack against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, approve arms sales to Ukraine, and put new sanctions on five Russians and Chechens because of their human rights abuses.

President Obama expelled Russian diplomats in December 2016, closed Russian compounds, and criticized Russia and Putin.

The GOP reflects DDT’s corruption. When David Klion wrote about the recent indictment of 12 Russians, he highlighted the allegation that on August 15, 2016, they “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress” and that they “sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.” No names were available from the indictment, but Klion connected it to a Washington Post transcript of a June 2016 conversation among the House GOP leadership. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) stated that “the Russians hacked the DNC and got the opp research that they had on Trump” and speculated “there’s two people, I think, that Putin pays: [Representative Dana] Rohrabacher and Trump.” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) insisted that the discussion stay in the room and added, “What’s said in the family stays in the family.” When the comments were made public, Ryan claimed they were joking.

Klion pointed out that Rohrabacher wasn’t the only feasibility in the indictment but that the GOP leadership knew about the possibility, thought it was humorous, and failed to do anything about their knowledge. They appreciated Russia’s support for electing Republicans. In September 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threatened to claim a public announcement of Russian interference as partisan politics. His blocking the publicity led to massive tax cuts for the rich—including himself—and a far-right Supreme Court majority. The GOP corruption has given Republicans the total control of the federal government.

This week, Russian national Maria Butina was indicted, arrested, and jailed without bail for operating as a foreign agent to gain influence in GOP political circles. Butina’s ties with the National Rifle Association and conservative religious organizations allows her to be the financial backbones of the congressional GOP. She is able to do with the elimination of campaign-finance laws, begun in Citizens United and furthered by DDT’s new guidelines for political donations. He eliminated the IRS rule requiring some nonprofit organizations to identify big donors—including the NRA and the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity. The dark money in politics has gone completely black.

Former Republican George Will infuriated Fox far-righters such as Laura Ingraham when he wrote about DDT’s collusion with Russia. In DDT’s convoluted excuse for agreeing with Putin with a tortured explanation of saying “would” instead of “wouldn’t”—which may have caused the White House lights to cut out—he omitted the part of his script that he had “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” Crossed out on DDT’s script was the statement that “anyone involved” in the attack would be brought “to justice.” In saying that he believed his intelligence evidence that Russia interfered, he added, “it could be other people also.” Scribbled across the script in broad felt pen was “There was no colusion [sic].”

About DDT’s performance in Helsinki, Will wrote:

“Collusion with Russia is hiding in plain sight. We shall learn from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation whether in 2016 there was collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign. The world, however, saw in Helsinki something more grave—ongoing collusion between Trump, now in power, and Russia. The collusion is in what Trump says (refusing to back the United States’ intelligence agencies) and in what evidently went unsaid (such as: You ought to stop disrupting Ukraine, downing civilian airliners, attempting to assassinate people abroad using poisons, and so on, and on).”

Today, a reporter directly asked, “Is Russia still targeting the U.S.?” DDT said “No” and moved on to the next question. Later Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied, as shown in a video, when she claimed that he was saying “no” to more questions. Then the White House claimed that DDT was responding to a different question. DDT’s next excuse was that he blamed Putin personally, but indirectly, “because he’s in charge of the country.”

DDT is also continuing his practice of doctoring official White House transcripts, official records. In this case, he deleted the part of the Helsinki press conference in which Putin said that he wanted DDT to defeat Clinton and possibly said that he had sent people to make that happen. Reuters reporter Jeff Mason’s asked:

“President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?”

Putin’s translated broadcast answer:

“Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

Although this exchange is available on video, it’s missing in the White House version.

In DDT’s attempt to “Make Russia First,” two serious problems have emerged. No announcements were made in the United States about agreements in the meeting that has no record, but Russian officials declared “important verbal agreements,” including preservation of New Start and INF agreements, major bilateral arms control treaties, and a new arrangement or proposal about Syria. Senior military officials know nothing about DDT’s “agreements.” Spokeswoman Marina Zakharova at the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the unknown summit agreements implementation has begun:

 “Relevant instructions are being carried out, and diplomats are beginning to work on the outcomes.”

A horrifying result of the meeting is DDT’s suggestion that he might accept Putin’s offer to turn over U.S. citizens, including former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, for questioning in “illegal activities.” Today, Huckabee Sanders reported that DDT “said it was an interesting idea … He wants to work with his team and determine if there is any validity that would be helpful to the process.” Russia has released a list of 11 U.S. government members to be questioned.

In a terrifying authoritarian move, DDT is actually considering getting rid of people who criticize him by turning them over to Russia although there is no indication of wrongdoing.

July 17, 2018

President Obama: The ‘Politics of Fear and Resentment’

Filed under: Progressives — trp2011 @ 9:52 PM
Tags: , ,

Former President Barack Obama spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday to honor the late Nelson Mandela on his 100th birthday. President Obama began with the youth of Madiba (Nelson Mandela) and the changes during his lifetime from colonial rule and the rampant racism among groups with little chance of advancing because gender and ethnic background determined a person’s future. Following are excerpts from his speech. You can read the transcript or watch it.

“More and more peoples, having witnessed the horrors of totalitarianism, the repeated mass slaughters of the 20th century, began to embrace a new vision for humanity, a new idea, one based not only on the principle of national self-determination, but also on the principles of democracy and rule of law and civil rights and the inherent dignity of every single individual. In those nations with market-based economies, suddenly union movements developed; and health and safety and commercial regulations were instituted; and access to public education was expanded; and social welfare systems emerged, all with the aim of constraining the excesses of capitalism and enhancing its ability to provide opportunity not just to some but to all people. And the result was unmatched economic growth and a growth of the middle class.

“And in my own country, the moral force of the civil rights movement not only overthrew Jim Crow laws but it opened up the floodgates for women and historically marginalized groups to reimagine themselves, to find their own voices, to make their own claims to full citizenship…. And during the last decades of the 20th century, the progressive, democratic vision that Nelson Mandela represented in many ways set the terms of international political debate. And from Europe to Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, dictatorships began to give way to democracies…. And with these geopolitical changes came sweeping economic changes. The introduction of market-based principles, in which previously closed economies along with the forces of global integration powered by new technologies, suddenly unleashed entrepreneurial talents to those that once had been relegated to the periphery of the world economy, who hadn’t counted….

“The international order has fallen short of its promise. In fact, it is in part because of the failures of governments and powerful elites to squarely address the shortcomings and contradictions of this international order that we now see much of the world threatening to return to an older, a more dangerous, a more brutal way of doing business. …The previous structures of privilege and power and injustice and exploitation never completely went away…. Racial discrimination still exists in both the United States and South Africa…. The accumulated disadvantages of years of institutionalized oppression have created yawning disparities in income, and in wealth, and in education, and in health, in personal safety, in access to credit….

“And while globalization and technology have opened up new opportunities, have driven remarkable economic growth in previously struggling parts of the world, globalization has also upended the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in many countries. It’s also greatly reduced the demand for certain workers, has helped weaken unions and labor’s bargaining power. It’s made it easier for capital to avoid tax laws and the regulations of nation-states — can just move billions, trillions of dollars with a tap of a computer key.

“And the result of all these trends has been an explosion in economic inequality. It’s meant that a few dozen individuals control the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of humanity. …the only difference is it created even greater opportunities for corruption on an epic scale. And for once solidly middle-class families in advanced economies like the United States, these trends have meant greater economic insecurity, especially for those who don’t have specialized skills, people who were in manufacturing, people working in factories, people working on farms.

“In every country just about, the disproportionate economic clout of those at the top has provided these individuals with wildly disproportionate influence on their countries’ political life and on its media; on what policies are pursued and whose interests end up being ignored. …Many titans of industry and finance are increasingly detached from any single locale or nation-state, and they live lives more and more insulated from the struggles of ordinary people in their countries of origin…. From their board rooms or retreats, global decision-makers don’t get a chance to see sometimes the pain in the faces of laid-off workers. Their kids don’t suffer when cuts in public education and health care result as a consequence of a reduced tax base because of tax avoidance.

“Within the United States, within the European Union, challenges to globalization first came from the left but then came more forcefully from the right, as you started seeing populist movements — which, by the way, are often cynically funded by right-wing billionaires intent on reducing government constraints on their business interests — these movements tapped the unease that was felt by many people who lived outside of the urban cores; fears that economic security was slipping away, that their social status and privileges were eroding, that their cultural identities were being threatened by outsiders, somebody that didn’t look like them or sound like them or pray as they did….

“Perhaps more than anything else, the devastating impact of the 2008 financial crisis, in which the reckless behavior of financial elites resulted in years of hardship for ordinary people all around the world, made all the previous assurances of experts ring hollow — all those assurances that somehow financial regulators knew what they were doing, that somebody was minding the store, that global economic integration was an unadulterated good….

“A politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment began to appear, and that kind of politics is now on the move…. Strongman politics are ascendant suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained — the form of it — but those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning. In the West, you’ve got far-right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism…. Who needs free speech as long as the economy is going good? The free press is under attack. Censorship and state control of media is on the rise. Social media — once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge and understanding and solidarity — has proved to be just as effective promoting hatred and paranoia and propaganda and conspiracy theories….

“Authoritarian governments have been shown time and time again to breed corruption, because they’re not accountable…. Countries which rely on rabid nationalism and xenophobia and doctrines of tribal, racial or religious superiority as their main organizing principle, the thing that holds people together — eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil war or external war.

“History also shows the power of fear. History shows the lasting hold of greed and the desire to dominate others in the minds of men…. History shows how easily people can be convinced to turn on those who look different, or worship God in a different way…. And history shows that societies which tolerate vast differences in wealth feed resentments and reduce solidarity and actually grow more slowly….

“Democracy depends on strong institutions and it’s about minority rights and checks and balances, and freedom of speech and freedom of expression and a free press, and the right to protest and petition the government, and an independent judiciary, and everybody having to follow the law…. The efficiency that’s offered by an autocrat … leads invariably to more consolidation of wealth at the top and power at the top, and it makes it easier to conceal corruption and abuse. For all its imperfections, real democracy best upholds the idea that government exists to serve the individual and not the other way around.

“[For democracy] to work, we have to actually believe in an objective reality…. You have to believe in facts.… I can’t find common ground if somebody says climate change is just not happening, when almost all of the world’s scientists tell us it is…. Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up…. We see it in state-sponsored propaganda; …we see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more…. We see it in the promotion of anti-intellectualism and the rejection of science from leaders who find critical thinking and data somehow politically inconvenient. And, as with the denial of rights, the denial of facts runs counter to democracy, it could be its undoing….

“It is tempting to give in to cynicism: to believe that recent shifts in global politics are too powerful to push back; that the pendulum has swung permanently…. Things may go backwards for a while, but ultimately, right makes might, not the other way around…. So, young people, who are in the audience, who are listening, my message to you is simple, keep believing, keep marching, keep building, keep raising your voice.”

[Note: President Obama did not mention the man inaugurated as president of the United States in 2017.]

July 16, 2018

Helsinki: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

“Trump traveled to Finland, defended an American adversary, took cheap shots at Americans, and rejected the judgment of American intelligence professionals.”

That was a summary of today’s brief meeting between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the man who may have given the presidency to DDT. 

[Five of DDT’s team from Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, on the left to DDT’s Chief of Staff John Kelly second from right all look as upset as many people watching the press conference.]

Three days before DDT journeys to Helsinki to present the United States as a gift to Vladimir Putin, 12 Russian intelligence officers were indicted with hacking the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign before release the stolen emails to “interfere in the 2016” election. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he briefed DDT on the indictments earlier this week. Yet DDT continued to present the Russian scandal as a “witch hunt” and said that the Putin meeting would be “easier” than his participation in the NATO summit and visits in the UK. He also said that the DNC was to blame for the hacking because it didn’t have enough protection.

Hacking 76 emails occurred the same day—July 27, 2016—that DDT asked Russia to help his candidacy by finding the “missing emails. Russians also “hacked the website of a state board of elections and stole information related to approximately 500,000 voters, including names, addresses, partial social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver’s license numbers,” according to the indictment, as well as hacking “into the computers of a U.S. vendor supplying software that verified voter registration information for the 2016 U.S. elections.”

The Putin/DDT meeting followed DDT’s claim that the European Union is a “major global foe” to the U.S. About Putin, DDT had said:

“He’s a competitor. He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him. I’ve been nice to him. He’s a competitor. Somebody was saying, is he an enemy? He’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times I’ve gotten to meet him, we get along very well.”

DDT also referred to U.S. journalists as “the enemy of the people” while the reporters were on foreign soil. In commenting that both his parents were born in E.U. countries, DDT skipped over the fact that his grandfather was deported from Bavaria with his family because of DDT’s grandfather’s draft dodging. Nor did DDT tell the public that he told Theresa May to “sue the E.U. — not go into negotiations.”

An “ex-Republican” wrote:

“If Putin could have his wishes he’d wish for a  dysfunctional US – EU alliance, a breakup of NATO, a US trade war with Canada, Mexico, Europe and China, unenforced Russia sanctions, a widening US gap between rich and poor, more US investments in oil and coal, increased US debt and refusal to acknowledge Russian election hacking.”

What actually happened in Helsinki? Putin showed up late—just as DDT did for his dinner with UK PM Theresa May and tea with Queen Elizabeth II. Before the meeting, DDT blamed the U.S. for any problems with Russia. Putin said he didn’t have anything to do with the U.S. elections, and Trump agreed with him.  Asked if he wanted DDT to win the election, Putin said, “Yes, I did.” Putin also indicated that he told his people to help DDT win.

At the press conference, DDT sided with Russia over the U.S. law enforcement, saying that didn’t see “any reason” why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election. He also leaped into a question to Putin about Russian election meddling by rambling about Hillary Clinton’s email server and his electoral college votes:

 “My people came to me…they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server, but I have confidence in both parties…what happened to the server?”

Going into the one-on-one meeting, the participants differed in their hopes of achievement:

Putin: lift sanctions by the U.S. and its (former?) allies, pull back NATO forces near Russia’s borders, accept Syrian army deployment on the Israeli border, reinstate business as usual with Moscow, get the U.S. to acknowledge Russia’s influence over its former Soviet neighbors, and recognize Russia as a global player.

DDT: “start a discussion.”

A prime goal for the U.S. could be to address Russian meddling in U.S. elections, which continues, as well as Russian explorations in vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure and attempts to infiltrate energy, water, nuclear, and manufacturing sectors. Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, said that cyberattacks on the United States put the nation into as much danger as it was before 9/11. Yet DDT not only failed to criticize Russia for this meddling but also embrace the idea that Russia and U.S. work together in an investigation into these breaches—giving Russia more information to help them further meddle. [Coats issued a statement late today correcting DDT by stating that Russia definitely interfered with the U.S. election and continues its “efforts to undermine our democracy.”]

In the Helsinki meeting, DDT has continued his slogan of “Russia First.” He has abandoned U.S. international influence by leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Iran nuclear deal, Paris Climate Agreement, and UN Human Rights Council while threatening to leave the World Trade Organization and NATO.  He has further weakened U.S. global power and expanded that of Russia by cutting the State Department budget and foreign aid. His bullying has increased Russia in Central America where Russia is providing aid, reopening military bases, and building a satellite-tracking station to spy on the U.S. His rejection of Cuba allows Cubans to turn back to Russia. And he has alienated all U.S. allies with trade tariffs and insults.

Before and during the Helsinki meeting, DDT showed nothing but weakness. His words showed helplessness in trying to get Putin to stop meddling—if, indeed, DDT might not believes Putin’s denials. DDT said, “What can I do” if Putin denies meddling. “I don’t see any reason why” Russia would interfere in the election, DDT also said. Russians made DDT wealthy; he cannot cross them.

DDT is winning Republicans over to Russia. Forty percent of them now see Russia as “an ally or friendly” to the U.S., almost twice as many as four years ago. Those Republicans include seven senators and one representative who traveled to Russia on the Fourth of July to agree with officials that Russian election meddling—if any—wasn’t any problem. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Homeland Security Committee chair, summarized their attitude by saying that Russian interference in U.S. elections is “not the greatest threat to our democracy,” and “we’ve blown it way out of proportion.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), copying DDT in calling the Mueller investigation a “witch hunt” and blaming Russian aggression on NATO, has also decided to go to Russia in search for “common ground.”

The conservative media disagrees with these legislators. DDT’s go-to people on Fox were dismayed with his “performance.”

  • Guest Mark Weinberg on Varney’s program: “Putin won. Trump missed the opportunity.”
  • Ashley Webster: “He outmaneuvered our president. I was very surprised. I thought Trump was going to
  • Neil Cavuto: “[The performance was] “disgusting.”
  • John Roberts: “There is a growing consensus across the land tonight … that the president threw the United States under the bus.”
  • Brian Kilmeade about DDT’s tweet about U.S. horrible relationship with Russia: “That’s by far the most ridiculous tweet of late.”
  • Brit Hume: “Trump is unable to see past himself.”

Ultra-right Drudge Report’s lead headline, “Putin Dominates in Hel,” was accompanied by DDT’s awkwardness.

Jay Nordlinger wrote for the conservative National Review:

“Putin’s Russia is a dictatorship that kills critics, violates borders, interferes in democratic elections, etc. — and that’s why relations between it and the United States, a great liberal democracy, are bad. Also, the Mueller team has just indicted twelve GRU agents. Does our president think that’s the fruit of a ‘Rigged Witch Hunt’?”

Other responses from conservatives:

  • Meghan McCain, John McCain’s daughter: “I’m horrified!”
  • Abby Huntsman, a conservative commentator and daughter of US ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman: “No negotiation is worth throwing your own people and country under the bus”.
  • Newt Gingrich: DDT’s statements on intelligence agencies are “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

And GOP members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE): “This is bizarre and flat-out wrong.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): ” I’d check the soccer ball [that Putin gave Trump] for listening devices and never allow it in the White House.”
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): “Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin.”
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC): “Vladimir Putin is not our friend and never has been.”
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI): “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.
  • Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX): “I’ve seen Russian intelligence manipulate many people over my professional career and I never would have thought that the US President would become one of the ones getting played by old KGB hands.”
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), daughter of former VP Dick Cheney: “I am deeply troubled by President Trump’s defense of Putin against the intelligence agencies of the U.S. & his suggestion of moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia.”

U.S. handoffs to North Korea with nothing in return set up the scene for DDT’s meeting with Putin. Just the meeting, like DDT’s meeting with Kim Jong-Un, makes Putin the winner in what DDT erroneously calls a “summit.” Having a diplomatic meeting and not giving away U.S. activities for nothing may not be a problem; DDT’s meeting with Putin displayed neither of these. DDT’s creation of chaos by attacking Europe and starting a trade war with closest allies of the U.S. has already made Putin the victor. Now that DDT has trashed the U.S. with his pandering to Kim Jong-Un of North Korea and Vladimir Putin of Russia, he plans to talk to the Taliban. What can go wrong?

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