Nel's New Day

December 31, 2018

Shutdown, Cracks in Democracy on Last Day of 2018

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 5:05 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Day Ten of Government Shutdown: Not satisfied with taking paychecks from 800,000 federal workers, almost half of them required to keep working, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has signed an executive order to freeze pay for about two million public employees in the coming year. He canceled a scheduled 2.1 percent pay raise that would almost keep wages up with rising inflation. After signing $1.5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, DDT decided that he didn’t want a deficit. Many “furloughed” workers—including janitors, security guards, and cafeteria workers in federal buildings won’t be paid after they were told not to come to work because companies can’t bill the government for services that shut down. Congress could override DDT’s order with a two-thirds veto-proof vote in both chambers.

DDT’s threat to close down the southern border if he doesn’t get his wall soon could cost the U.S. commerce a billion dollars every day, a spike in car prices, and problems with factories. Another casualty would be foods that come to the U.S. from Mexico while the weather keeps agricultural production in the United States. Arizona, Michigan, Texas, and Utah—all DDT states—each sent over one-fourth of their exports to Mexico las year. Workers in both Mexico and U.S. comprise a majority of the almost one-million legal border crossings each day. A six-hour closure between San Diego and Tijuana last Thanksgiving cost the local economy $5.3 billion.

The longest government shutdown in history began in 1995 when House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) led the Republicans to cut Medicare. President Bill Clinton refused. After 21 days, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-KA) led his GOP members to pass the appropriations bills without Gingrich’s cuts to Medicare, and the House voted the same way. Todd Purdum writes that Gingrich later admitted that part of the reason he closed the government in November 1995 before the December 16 shutdown was that Clinton had pub in a rear cabin on Air Force One while returning from Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral in Jerusalem and made him exit by the rear stairs. Gingrich knew that Clinton wouldn’t sign a bill that increased Medicare premiums and cut environmental regulations. “It’s petty,” Gingrich said, “but I think it’s human.” Clinton’s stance on both shutdowns helped him win the 1996 election, but Gingrich got his revenge by working with Monica Lewinsky to force Clinton into an impeachment. The question is what consequences will come out of the current White House tantrum leading to the 2018-19 shutdown.

Lest anyone think that DDT is not “working” on the last day of 2018, he is still angrily tweeting. One claim calls out former chief of staff John Kelly in his statement that the “wall” doesn’t have to be concrete. He wrote, “An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media.” Like a king, DDT is waiting at the White House for the Democrats, excoriated in his tweets, to come begging to give him funding for his wall. In one tweet, he blamed Democrats for the death of two Guatemalan children in ICE custody this month, writing that the wall would have stopped it. He also tweeted to Democrats that he was sitting in his office waiting for them to come and give him his wall although a reporter found no Marine posted outside the door of the office.

Republicans take pride in their cruelty toward people in the United States with the statement that “Elections have consequences.” When Democrats and progressive ballot measures succeeded in the midterms, however, the GOP in several states refused to take the consequences of the party’s failures. Instead, they spent the last few weeks of the term during the lame-duck session by destroying the will of the people through democracy.

Despite gerrymandering and voter suppression, Michigan and Wisconsin became the poster states with dozens of bills to overturn policies won by majority vote and restrict elected Democratic officials. Many of the new laws reversed increases in the minimum wage and expansion of voting rights.

Michigan passed over 400 bills in less than two months, many of them signed by outgoing GOP Rick Snyder. He did veto four bills that exceeded legislative powers. The legislature may have blocked the use of growing cannabis for personal use, changing the way to appoint the non-partisan commission, and requiring voters to register at a county clerk’s office rather than the polls which removes the approval for same-day voter registration by a majority of the state’s population. Earlier the legislature had blocked a ballot measure on raising the minimum wage and paying sick time by enacting the proposals and then immediately removing these provisions with a simple majority after the midterm election. The legislative action on sick leave exempts almost 40 percent of Michigan workers. To block future ballot measures, legislators made the process of collecting signatures far more difficult and costly. Other lame-duck laws give a $115 million corporate tax cut and mandates that doctors prescribe abortion pills in person.

Other Michigan laws restrict powers of incoming Democrats—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, AG Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson—all of whom replaced Republicans. Limitations include the governor’s authority in blocking a pipeline across the Strait of Mackinac, the AG from withdrawing from a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act without legislative permission, and the secretary of state in increasing voter access.

More Michigan laws passed after the election of Democrats:

  • State agencies must prove “clear and convincing” need to impose strong state regulations than federal ones.
  • A $1.3 billion online sales tax revenue was diverted from schools to roads and other priorities.
  • A grading system of A through F is mandated for public schools.
  • Federal toxicity values instead of those established by states must be used for cleaning up hazardous substances.
  •  A measure requiring permits for degrading wetlands made key concessions to developers.
  • Municipalities not already imposing licensing requirements on specific occupations cannot pass ordinance to do so.
  • States agencies may not use drones to surveil facilities subject to licensing or other government requirements.
  • The hunting age for deer, bear, and elk on public lands was reduced to ten years old.

The busy Michigan legislators will probably be crushed by some of Gov. Rick Snyder’s vetoes. A major veto was on the bill that would have permitted legislators to interfere in court cases. In neighboring Wisconsin, losing Gov. Scott Walker signed every lame-duck bill given him, many of them ones that copied those in Michigan. Wisconsin must remain in lawsuits opposed to the ACA, and the new governor cannot dissolve Walker’s misnamed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) which gives loans and incentives to businesses connected with Walker and other Republicans. The legislature now has oversight instead of the governor. Other laws require Medicaid recipients to have drug-testing requirements that have not worked in other states and limits early voting to two weeks. Permits granted to the hugely expensive project that acquired large subsidies from Wisconsin taxpayers, Foxconn, have been moved from the GOP AG to the GOP legislature.

Walker’s power grabs caused even his staunch GOP supporters to say that his actions will “destroy” his legacy, already one that destroys the formerly progressive state. Despite its promises, Republicans failed to protect affordable insurance on pre-existing conditions as the ruling from a judge in Texas endangers the future of this health care that people overwhelming desire.

In one day, Wisconsin’s GOP senators approved 82 Walker government appointees a month before he left office, including two members to the state’s public university board. One of the positions had been empty for over a year. Thirty of the appointments had no public hearing, and some had failed to file a statement of economic interest. Eight years ago, Walker urged outgoing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle not to “finalize any permanent civil service personnel” during his last two months in office, writing about “common practice for political appointees to use this time to ‘bump down’ into permanent civil service positions.” He added:

“I believe these appointees should be required to go through the same application process as any other civil servants and my Administration will review any new permanent hires during the next two months so they can be considered for termination during the probationary period.”

Walker also recently gave the outgoing attorney general a seat on a court in Waukesha County ― a position that doesn’t require state Senate approval.

Residents in both Michigan and Wisconsin resent handouts to large corporations, especially Walker’s $4.5 billion in state and local subsidies to Foxconn. The state is not scheduled to break even on the deal until 2043. Snyder’s Michigan “mega-deals” with incentives over $50 million” drain education, healthcare, transportation, and parks. The deals claim to create jobs, but the 29 big deals that cost taxpayers $7.1 billion include General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler. Incentives average $465,000 per job, and advantages may not appear for years.

Florida’s new GOP governor-elect Ron DeSantis plans to stall any enactment of the state’s successful ballot measure, passed by an almost 65-percent vote, to return voting rights to felons completing their sentences. Legislative language could also restrict the law’s intent. A lawsuit could run into problems because DeSantis will replace three liberal-leaning justices immediately after he is sworn in, leaving the court with a six-to-one conservative majority.

Pennsylvania tried to unseat a legally elected state legislator, Ohio introduced legislation to stop people from amending the state constitution because a popular vote restricted gerrymandering, Missouri tried to block a stop to election fraud by popular vote, Georgia purged voters from registration rolls with no excuse, and North Carolina can’t seat a U.S. representative because he bought absentee ballots that would then be used to pad his vote. The Republicans grow more and more desperate because they know they cannot win elections with illegal election fraud and drawing districts that always favor the GOP.

Happy New Year!

December 28, 2018

DDT: Week 101 – Watch China’s Growing Influence in Middle East

Day Seven of Government Shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may think that his shutdown isn’t successful because he’s now threatening to close the U.S. southern border and stop aid to several Latin American countries without his wall. Having canceled plans for any holiday vacation to Mar-a-Lago, DDT is sitting in Washington, D.C. with nothing to do except tweet. The U.S. has already announced a collaboration with Mexico, providing $10.6 billion to slow migration from South American countries.

  • The shutdown moves toward more debacles:
  • The possible cancellation of a global weather conference with over 4,000 attendees that wastes research and contracts.
  • Closure of all Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo on January 2.
  • “Furlough” of EPA employees.
  • Lack of payments, farm loans, and disaster assistance for farmers.
  • Suspension of FTC investigations and litigation, including those against Facebook.

Fortunately for Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers are still paying for DDT’s holiday bash, even though he didn’t attend, starting with $54,020 for tents on December 19. Individuals paid DDT’s private business $1,000 per person.

Some startling news has received almost no attention in the Western media amidst the shutdown hubbub. DDT, self-proclaimed great negotiator, planned to scare Pakistan’s military into cooperation by suspending billions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan. Instead, China is buying Pakistan-built military jets, weaponry, and other hardware, a move that can deepen the two countries’ cooperation in space that China wants to militarize. It can also encourage other countries to buy military equipment from Pakistan instead of the U.S. Only Pakistan has access to China’s satellite navigation system allowing better guidance for missiles, ships, and aircraft. The countries also plan to link a port in coastal Gwadar across 2,000 miles to western China, allowing Chinese goods to have a much shorter and less expensive shipping route and avoid territorial waters of U.S. allies in Asia. China may also militarize Gwadar and other seaports being built in places such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Malaysia, giving China great geopolitical influence in both commerce and military action.

The first Chinese ship, the cargo ship Zhen Xing Sung, reached Gwadar’s port this week loaded with seafood. Its owner, the China Overseas Shipping Co (Cosco), has a 40-year lease of the port and will export to Central Asia and the Middle East.

DDT became so angry with former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ resignation letter—once the media explained to him what it meant—that he had his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney immediately fire Mattis instead of allowing for a transition period until late February. Mattis’ deputy, Patrick Shanahan, is the temporary replacement until the Senate has time to confirm him. Shanahan worked for the U.S.’s most profitable defense contractors Boeing for thirty years, quitting as senior vice president of supply chain and operations to join the Pentagon. Former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed concern when Shanahan was selected as Deputy Secretary of Defense and said, “I have to have confidence that the fox is not going to be put back into the henhouse.” Shanahan promised to recuse himself from any financial interests related to Boeing.

One reason for Shanahan’s selection as Defense Secretary may be his enthusiasm about DDT’s Space Patrol control outer space, an idea that has been soundly ridiculed. DDT may find Shanahan useful because he has neither military nor foreign policy experience. Shanahan finds the position useful because Boeing has been successful in winning competitive contracts since he joined the Pentagon. The Air Force wants F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed, but the Pentagon is requesting F-15X fighters from Boeing, thanks to Shanahan’s involvement in funding.

DDT is facing not only investigations but also liens against his properties. A third lien, this one from AES Electrical, brings the total to over $5 million against his Washington hotel after the company assigned 45 workers to 12-hour shifts for almost 50 consecutive days to get it open when he wanted. The hotel opened on time, and DDT stopped paying AES. Plumbing firm Joseph J. Magnolia Inc. and Northern Virginia company A&D Construction also filed $2.98 million and $79,700. DDT claims that he’s worth $10 billion, but he has a long-time reputation of stiffing his workers at all levels.

Elected politicians are causing a “collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent” of the labor market since 1979 by giving power to employers through weakening unions, damaging minimum wage, and prioritizing low inflation over full employment. The bottom 90 percent of wage earners lost $1.53 trillion in income–$10,800 for every U.S. household—in 2015 alone. As a result of these policies, productivity has rapidly slowed since the 1970s, growing half as fast between 1973 and 2017 as it did from 1948 to 1973.

As DDT rails against Jerome Powell, the man he picked as chair of the Federal Reserve, the media is reminding people that he fired the former chair, Janet Yellen, because she is “too short.” Janet L. Yellen was considered the most qualified Federal Reserve chair perhaps ever, but DDT he broke a long-standing bipartisan tradition of retaining the Fed chair if they wanted to stay and were good at the job. Yellen fit both these criteria.

DDT is helping drug companies make more money from opioids by recommending that people with prescription for opioids also get prescriptions for an antidote. The health care costs will run over $1 billion. The recommendation came from DDT-appointed Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir. A two-dose kit of Naloxone nasal spray costs about $125. An automatic injector runs $4,000 per kit.

EPA has approved the Monsanto’s pesticide dicamba, an airborne chemical that can kill crops for miles away. Corn and other grass crops can tolerate the weed killer, but it kills soybeans, tomatoes, and other broadleaf plants. In 2017 and 2018, dicamba damaged almost 5 million acres of soybeans in 24 states, primarily in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Illinois, except for Monsanto’s genetically engineered soybeans. Dicamba drift has killed millions of dollars in pecan and peach trees plus destroying bees because they cannot survive on plants damaged from dicamba.

A new proposed EPA rule purports that a little pollution is good for people in order to erase regulations on toxic chemicals. Today, the EPA proposed a reversal of the clean-up of toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired plants. Mercury causes brain damage, learning disabilities, and other birth defects in children, and the pollutants enter the food chain.

After 17 people were shot and killed in a Parkland (FL) school last spring, DDT put Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in charge of an all-white committee to solve the gun problem. Her first solution was to use federal funds to buy guns for schools, but she moved back from that move because of the backlash. In her next step, she admitted to Congress that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings. Ten months after the tragedy, DeVos will use the “school safety commission” to discriminate against blacks and other minority students, permitting schools to use race in punishing them because of her claim that are the cause for an increase in school violence. The racial difference is already dire: black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. The commission was created because of killing by a white teenager, and most mass shootings at schools are by white males.

Almost 40,000 people died in shootings across the United States in 2017 during DDT’s first year after his inauguration, the highest number in 20 years. The U.S. now has 12 deaths per 100,000 people from guns compared to 0.2 per 100,000 people in Japan, 0.3 in the UK and 0.9 in Germany.

Last week, a second Guatemalan child died on Christmas Eve in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and DHS Secretary clings to her story that parents are at fault. Yet on December 23 to 25, ICE officials dumped 600 hundred asylum seekers in the cold outside a Greyhound bus terminal in El Paso where they had no housing or food and local shelters were not warned. Many of them were ill. The only other time that this has occurred was the week before the 2018 midterm elections.

Gallup poll’s most admired man for 2018 is Barack Obama, and the winning women is Michelle Obama. Barack tops the list for the 11th year in a row, one place short of tying Dwight Eisenhower for the record. Michelle has broken Hillary Clinton’s 17 year run. DDT came in second to Barack, and Melania Trump is fourth after Oprah Winfrey and Clinton.

Katherine Walker, the TV producer who oversaw the first five seasons of The Apprentice, said that workers “struggled to make Trump seem coherent.” She added that he frequently commented on women’s bodies in a derogatory fashion. Walker believes—like many of us—that DDT would not have been elected president if not for that show. A piece in the New Yorker describes how Mark Burnett, former executive producer of the show, gave DDT the appearance of a tycoon. Voters bought the image, not the real person.

December 27, 2018

Disasters in Iraq, More Bad news in North Carolina

Day Six of the Government Shutdown:  The Senate returned today for four minutes to discuss the federal shutdown and then went home until the afternoon of January 2, the last day of the 115th Congress. The House lasted two minutes and 55 seconds. Republicans denied the attempt of Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to get a vote on legislation to reopen the government. DDT’s only visibility are his irate tweets.

Nine federal departments and several federal agencies stay unfunded, leaving 25 percent of the government unable to continue operations. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said that the Democratic House may put forward a bill to fund the government without the wall on its first day of January 3. The legislation would mirror the bipartisan Senate bill passed last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) refused to sign any budget bill without his wall. All bills passed before January 3 expire, and the Senate would have to repass the legislation with seven new members. The the Office of Personnel Management shared advice for federal workers such as doing building chores in exchange for reduced rent.

DDT said he was “proud” to cause the shutdown and would wear the “mantle.” A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted primarily before the beginning of the shutdown shows that 47 percent of adults agree that he is to blame. Only seven percent fault Republicans in Congress with another 33 percent blaming the Democrats.

On Christmas Day, DDT tweeted, with no evidence that “many” of the 800,000 workers without paychecks want him to hold out for the wall and that they’re doing “just fine.” By today, he declared that most of those workers are “Democrats.”

After 706 days in office, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) visited troops in a combat zone for the first time since he was inaugurated. The visit occurred the week after he announced victory over ISIS, a claim that his Pentagon and State Department disputed, and the same day that the New York Times blew the whistle on DDT’s claims of bone spurs to dodge the Vietnam War. Reports from a podiatrist’s doctor’s daughter describe how Fred Trump may have kept his son from the Vietnam War draft. Long ridiculed for using bone spurs as an excuse, DDT received his medical exemption from Dr. Larry Braunstein, according to his daughters who said Braunstein talked about doing a favor for DDT’s father. Braunstein practiced in one of dozens of buildings that Fred Trump owned in Jamaica, Queens. Dr. Manny Weinstein, who lived in two Brooklyn apartments owned by Trump, may have also been involved. Weinstein died in 1995, and Braunstein in 2007. DDT always said that he had a high lottery number, but that process didn’t begin until a year after his bone spur 1-Y exemption. DDT’s earlier exemption as a student came from his attending Wharton, thanks in part to “an interview with a friendly Wharton admissions officer who was one of [his father’s] old high school classmates,” according to Gwenda Blair’s book The Trumps.

While talking to the troops in Iraq, DDT repeated his lies—that they were getting “one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received” and that they “haven’t gotten one in more than ten years.” He continued, “I got you a big one,” claiming that it is over ten percent. Fact check: U.S. troops received pay raises for every year back to 1975 except for 1983. The latest pay raise was 2.6 percent. And there was no debate with anyone who wanted smaller races.

DDT tweeted video of his meeting in Iraq with members of a Navy Seal team on covert operations who were wearing camouflage gear with night vision goggles, putting the men into danger. Their location was considered classified—until DDT announced it. A Defense Department official said that it is the first time that special-ops forces serving in a war zone didn’t have their faces covered or digitally blurred for a photo release. The troops who asked DDT to autograph their MAGA hats might also be violating the DOD’s position on politics.

Although DDT outed special ops, possibly putting them in danger, he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials during his three hours in their country. He said that the trip had been planned for three weeks, but Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was invited to meet the president only two hours in advance. The prime minister said that any meeting was canceled because of a disagreement of how to conduct the session. After DDT’s visit, Iraqi politicians and lawmakers, angered and insulted by DDT’s swift and unannounced visit, demanded that U.S. troops leave Iraq. Sabah al-Saadi, leader of Iraq’s Islah parliamentary bloc, asked that an emergency parliament “discuss this blatant violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and to stop these aggressive actions by Trump who should know his limits: The U.S. occupation of Iraq is over.”

DDT also raised conflict in South Africa, not for the first time, by tweeting that State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo should investigate the “killing of farmers” and “land and farm seizures” there. The South African government declared DDT “misinformed” and accused him of stoking racial divisions. The country’s rand currency dropped over 1.5 percent against the U.S. dollar. Farm murders are at a 20-year low, and conservative Australian politicians have falsified the number of deaths last year.

The trip wasn’t even kept a secret. An amateur plane enthusiast and photographer spotted Air Force One over Sheffield, England on its way to Iraq. According to Alan Meloy, the only two VC-25s alternate as Air Force One. He posted his photograph on Flickr, and the secret was out three hours before the plane landed at Al Asad Airbase west of Baghdad.

Distressed about DDT’s moves to pull out troops from the Middle East, GOP senators are looking for someone to stand up to DDT now that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has died. The name of Utah’s incoming GOP senator, Mitt Romney, has been tossed out as a solution to take this role—sort of “let Mikey try it.” Evidently no sitting senator has the courage to take on the task.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), known for choosing his words carefully, sent out one of his most critical statements to date, saying he was “distressed” to read Mattis’s reasons for resigning. He added that Trump should pick a successor who shares Mattis’s “understanding” of the “vital principles” that he outlined in his resignation letter. He didn’t. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said he didn’t believe Trump’s views on foreign policy aligned in many ways with his or most Republicans’.

“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and probably Democrats, elected and unelected,” Toomey told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), asked about Mattis, quipped that he was “still depressed” and “too emotional” to talk about the impending departure. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) said “the vast majority of senators both Democratic and Republican are totally opposed to this policy. We’re trying to get the administration to rethink it.”

Asked if he thought Trump understood foreign policy, the highly conservative senator smiled briefly before adding, “I kind of scratch my head.”

Senators need to get started if they have any involvement in DDT’s decisions about the Middle East.

The North Carolina 9th District issue of election fraud keeps getting worse. In the midst of the GOP candidate’s absentee ballot harvesting to create his win, the state legislature passed an override of the governor’s veto that permits the state elections board to hide any allegations of campaign law violations. The new law also requires new primaries and general election for the 9th District if the board determines that fraud existed in the 2018 election, a law that would force primaries on innocent participants as well as the guilty. The GOP legislature rushed to pass the law because it loses its veto-proof majority at the end of December. At that time, a lawsuit has reinstated the power of overseeing elections, ethics enforcement, and lobbyist reporting to the governor after a GOP legislature removed it from the Democratic governor, changing a century-long practice.

Another problem is that the state Supreme Court dissolved the current elections board as of tomorrow. The board had scheduled a hearing on the 9th District issue on January 11, 2019. Because the state board of elections has not certified Mark Harris as the winner of the 9th District election, Harris cannot go to the U.S. House with the newly elected members on January 3. The governor may be able to appoint a new elections board, but the bill passed into law by the state legislature today mandates that the board doesn’t take effect until January 31, 2019. The House can also refuse to seat a candidate until after an investigation. The 116th Congress will most likely start with 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, and one vacancy.

Before the shutdown, DDT’s approval rating had dropped to 39 percent, the lowest since he was inaugurated. It’s not likely that these events will bolster the figures.

 

December 26, 2018

Government Shutdown, North Carolina Election Fraud

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:18 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Day Five of Government Shutdown:  Adam Taylor points out three ways that the closure of over half the federal government by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) affects the entire world:

People: Those employed at U.S. embassies are required to work without paychecks in any shutdown, but they may not be paid at the end of the debacle, especially non-U.S. citizens contracted to work for the U.S. government.

Procedure: The State Department claims that it will issue passports and visas throughout the shutdown, but other services may not be provided. The Department told U.S. citizens to follow the embassy Twitter account in Jakarta after Indonesia’s tsunami that killed at least 429 people but the embassy tweeted that the shutdown has stopped regular tweets. The U.S. Geological Survey could also not provide data on the tsunami. A shutdown stops no new funding commitments or obligations except to protect life and property; further restrictions may be implemented.

Prestige: Most other political systems don’t leave hundreds of thousands of government workers without pay because of a political dispute. Of the 22 federal government shutdowns in the past 40 years, three have been in just the past year.

The shutdown caused lights to be turned off the National Christmas Tree near the White House because of no repairs after a man climbed the tree before the shutdown. A National Park Foundation grant got the lights back on by Christmas Eve. Roads at national parks are not plowed, and no one services trash and toilets. A holiday organ concert was not held in Mount Vernon (NY) because St. Paul’s Church is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service. Tickets to Alcatraz Cruises were refunded, and bald eagles were safe from voyeurs on the Skagit River in Washington state when observation of their migration was closed. The sled dog puppy webcam from Denali National Park (Alaska) was one of several shut down. The panda site at the National Zoo in Washington was supposedly operating, but not when I tried to connect. You can get the one in China.

The shutdown is all about DDT’s desire for a “wall.” [Orange lines above are fences already in place.] In his desperation to please his base, he tweeted:

“I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas.”

He added on Christmas Day that he got a “great price.” Those statements contain a few lies:

  • A president cannot give out a contract; only  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may award contracts for border wall construction after Congress approves funding.
  • Congress approved funding for 33 miles in the Rio Grande Valley last March, and CBP announced in November that the construction would begin in February 2019.
  • The approved funding last March for 84 miles, including the 33 miles in Texas, may cost about $22 million per mile with a contract costing $313 million for 14 of those miles.

The 33 miles include the nonprofit National Butterfly Center, a state park, and privately owned ranches and farmland. Another $5 billion that DDT demands in exchange for closing the shutdown could build 215 miles, including 159 miles in Texas. The U.S. already has 653 miles of border fence, funded in 2006, at a cost of $2.3 per mile in 2015, ten percent of the projected cost in 2019, because the fence, on easier terrain, also had a less complicated design. More detailed information about the wall.

The Senate has one week to pass funding for the wall before the GOP-dominated House disappears for the next two years. The session begins tomorrow at 4:00 pm. DDT has dropped his $5 billion demand to $2.1 billion plus $400 million as DDT’s “slush fund” for his other immigration priorities and more money to secure the border with no requirement, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is sticking at $1.3 billion. Even with a miracle, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would be forced to drag the representatives back to Washington at the end of the week to vote on a Senate bill, and the approximately 70 Republicans who won’t be returning to the House next year, almost one-third of the GOP members, may be reluctant go to that effort.

When the 116th Congress takes effect on January 3, 2019, a representative from North Carolina’s 9th District won’t be present. After DDT’s two-year obsession with “voter fraud,” even the claim that all of Hillary Clinton’s popularity majority of three million people came from “illegal aliens,” the problem of election fraud is front and center in at least two North Carolina counties  The media exposed the practice of Republicans paid to collect absentee ballots and either change or destroy them to favor GOP U.S. House candidate Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist minister for over three decades. In the past eight weeks, the news about GOP illegal behavior has spread although Republicans waited almost a month to express concern about the election fraud.

Harris’ campaign owes over $34,000 to Red Dome Group for its contract with Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. who illegally collected absentee ballots, an action that put Harris ahead in the race for U.S. House by 905 votes. Voters have testified that they gave their signed ballots to someone who came to their houses and asked for them, ballots which were never counted. Others did not fill out the signed ballot before they gave it to the person who asked for them.   Harris deliberately directed the hiring of Dowless because of the operative’s shady tactics.

In 2016, Dowless paid $225 to two ballot harvesters for each ballot, half for completed ballot request forms and the other half for the ballots themselves. He provided a “sample ballot” to show which candidates should be selected and coached them on what to say if they were caught harvesting ballots. Ten days after DDT’s inauguration, N.C. Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach warned his administration about the illegal absentee ballot activities in Bladen County and urgently requested criminal charges against Dowless. In February 2017, state investigators had the first of several in-person meetings providing FBI agents and federal prosecutors with evidence about criminal activity by Dowless and others. By then, DDT had fired DOJ’s deputy AG Sally Yates, who was acting as AG, and DDT’s AG replacement took no action. Instead he told his staff to prosecute a few non-citizens who had allegedly voted among over 6.9 million citizens. Several of those prosecutions were against longtime legal permanent residents; four of those prosecuted pleaded guilty with the only sentence, a $200 fine, against an Italian man who legally lived in the U.S. since 1985.

Earlier this year, Harris’ opponent in the primary warned the state and national GOP officials about possible fraud after 96 percent of absentee ballots were marked in favor of Harris. The North Carolina elections board issued subpoenas to the Harris campaign and Red Dome Group, and the Wake County district attorney’s office in Raleigh, the State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and federal prosecutors are examining voting irregularities in the 9th District.

Harris’ illegal actions were compounded by the Bladen County board illegally counting early votes three days before Election Day and possibly sharing the result with the candidate. In 2016, Dowless said that Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw knew his staffers illegally put their initials in the corner of ballots they returned. Shaw retired last month before her scheduled January 1 retirement. Dowless also admitted that he took cash from the campaign to pay his workers to elect Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVickers at the request of former GOP Chairman Landon Bordeaux. Several hundred absentee ballots “were physically seen and confirmed as votes for sheriff McVicker by Mr. Dowless.”

The state GOP sticks with Harris, who has said he was “absolutely unaware of any wrongdoing.” By December 17 the state GOP and Harris’ GOP officials demanded that Harris be certified as the winner and seated in the House. https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/roy-cooper-to-veto-bill-with-race-redo-unless-sections-removed    On December 18, the North Carolina GOP legislature passed a bill to have a new primary and general election for Harris’ district that includes cover for lobbyists and those who violate campaign finance law. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the legislation because of the latter provisions.

The state Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement rescheduled its hearing about absentee ballot fraud for January 11, 2019 because investigators are looking into activities in both Bladen and Robeson counties. One option is to hold a general election for the race with Harris, the GOP nominee, unless he dies or moves out of state. Another is to begin the process with a primary. If no candidate were to win more than 30 percent of the vote, a second primary would be required to select a candidate with a plurality. That would be followed by the general election. need to be triggered to determine the nominee.

North Carolina is also the state where the modern power-stripping trend began. In 2016, Republican legislators passed a law to hamstring the governor’s office after a Democrat won that seat.

Now the state is using election fraud to push for more voter suppression.

 

December 25, 2018

DDT’s Version of ‘Merry Christmas’

Day Four of Government Shutdown: Retroactive pay doesn’t mean anything for small businesses when people stop spending for the holidays out of fear that paychecks will not be coming for a long time. No more perks like manicures or more presents. After Christmas, forget sales for clothes and other things that people load up on at the sales. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) says he won’t stop the shutdown until he gets his money. Sounds like blackmail on Christmas Day.

DDT wants people to say “Merry Christmas,” but he debunked Santa Claus to a seven-year-old girl when she called to check on Santa’s progress on NORAD. When DDT answered the phone, he asked While answering telephone calls from children tracking Santa’s progress on NORAD, DDT asked Collman Lloyd of Lexington (SC) if she is “still a believer in Santa Claus.” After she said yes, DDT said, “Because at 7 that’s marginal, right?” Fortunately, Collman doesn’t know the meaning of “marginal,” and she still believes in Santa because the milk and cookies left for him overnight disappeared. DDT, who threw rocks at other toddlers in play pens before he was three years old, just shot down Santa Claus for a lot of people.

The day before DDT tried to burst Collman’s bubble, he moaned on his Twitter account:

 “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.” [DDT’s version of “all alone.]

Earlier this year, DDT turned down $25 billion in border security, but he claims that “the wall is different” and that it “will be built with shutdown money plus funds already in hand.” He’s missed the fact that the shutdown costs money; it doesn’t increase funding. And that’s just part of the anger-filled, hateful tweets that he sent from the White House in the days before Christmas when he wanted to be cheered on with Mar-a-Lago members.

In several tweets, DDT scapegoated Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for his own mistakes that led to the massive drop in stock markets during December. After a disastrous week, the Dow Jones plunged another 653 points in a half-day session yesterday. Economists have been muttering about an upcoming recession for months, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, formerly king of foreclosures who didn’t let an elderly widow escape when she owed $.27, tried to block the fall. On Sunday, Mnuchin tweeted that the public has plenty of money to borrow because he talked with CEOs of six large banks. The CEOs were confused by his tweet, and the stock market had its worst Christmas Eve in history. The other major stock exchanges dropped in equally disastrous percentages, and crude oil fell over six percent to below $43 a barrel.

DDT added to the roiling market by threatening to fire Powell, his own appointment, and asking if he has the right to carry through with his threats. Mnuchin told DDT Saturday night that Mnuchin didn’t have the right to fire Powell although the law permits the president to fire a Fed board member “for cause.” Mick Mulvaney, Budget Director/acting chief of staff, said Saturday that DDT wasn’t going to fire Powell, whose term as chair ends in 2022 and board member in 2028. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that DDT’s war on the Fed has caused some of the problems:

“Investors are increasingly spooked by the president’s wrong-headed attacks on the Fed and the Treasury Secretary’s ham-handed efforts to convince everyone Trump doesn’t mean it and that everything is fine.”

Although DDT claimed today that he was happy with Mnuchin, insiders are saying that he is upset with him. Mnuchin may follow former Defense Secretary James Mattis out of the Cabinet.

Christmas 2018 is the date that DDT cut off aid for abused women. Funding for the Violence against Women Act (VAWA) stopped when DDT’s shutdown began. Women lose their resources to be safe just before the holidays, a particularly dangerous time for them.

DDT has cut off paychecks for about 800,000 federal workers as well as planning to cut food stamps from another 800,000 people. Upset because the farm bill did not have provisions to starve people, DDT has announced his own orders last week to circumvent a law passed by Congress. DDT follows the conservative argument that people who get benefits aren’t working because they are lazy. DDT’s proposed rule removes the 20-year-old states’ rights to issues waivers if unemployment is 20 percent over the national average or there are significantly fewer jobs available than people who need work. DDT’s order to remove waivers in areas of unemployment under 7 percent will be made worse with bureaucracy such as Arkansas’s Medicaid overhaul where no waivers can be issued even in places with proof of insufficient jobs. Less than ten percent of food stamp recipients qualify as “able-bodied adults without dependents,” and over half of them work or volunteer enough time for the 20-hour work rules.

The Fox network final salvo in its “war against Christmas” blended with its war on gender identity and came from Tucker Carlson’s diatribe against gingerbread people with his guest Tammy Bruce. She claimed that gingerbread men are “obviously… they’re men.” She did indicate that she couldn’t tell the gender, “because they’re also not wearing clothes. So, it’s hard to say what they are and what they’re doing and not doing.” She probably refers to the fact that gingerbread cookies lack external genitalia and secondary sexual characteristics. Carlson called on people to not participate in the “spiritual neutering” of cookies. Part of the outrage came from false news reporting that the Scottish Parliament had banned the use of the term “men” when referring to gingerbread cookies. With 30 percent of women in the Scottish Parliament building stating they had been sexually harassed, the bakery renamed their cookies in solidarity.

A true war on Christmas this year is the war by DDT and the GOP against immigrants both documented and undocumented, especially those seeking asylum. A Guatemalan child died in DHS custody early this morning, the second one in less than three weeks. The cause hasn’t been announced, but children are put in extremely cold rooms when first in custody, supposedly to kill germs, and experience limited medical screening only for scabies, lice, and chickenpox. Children sleep side-by-side on mats on the floor with only a Mylar blanket. All their belongings are removed. The facilities were built in the 1980s and 1990s to temporarily house migrant adults. The 8-year-old boy’s death went unnoted in DDT’s furious tweets. Felipe González Morales, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, has called for an investigation of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin after her death in custody on December 7, 2018 although the death was kept secret from Congress for almost a week.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) told DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during her testimony to a House hearing that DDT’s immigration policies are unchristian and that they would have blocked Jesus Christ and his family from their flight to Egypt:

“During Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ—a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph—thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt.”

DDT skipped a presidential tradition on Christmas by avoiding any direct contact with military members on Christmas Day, instead addressing some service members on safe bases. He told them that drugs are flowing across the southern border, the Federal Reserve is endangering the U.S. economy, and Democrats are planning to harass him with oversight hearings. He said, “It’s a disgrace …, but other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.” Merry Christmas to you too, DDT!

On this Christmas Day, 705 days since DDT’s inauguration, I am grateful for a safe home with food and warmth. I don’t live in a war-torn area, I’m not a refugee from violence, I no longer teach where someone could come in to kill me and my students, I have health insurance—I could keep going on and on with the privileges that many of us have, even more privileges after DDT has declared war on every minority. The best gift for my Christmas Day—for my year—is that the nation may have a chance to save a small piece of its democracy. After Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had two malignant nodules removed from her lung last week, she’s back at work in her room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors say that that there is “no evidence of remaining disease.”

December 24, 2018

A Gift to Me from a Good Friend

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 4:46 PM
Tags:

It’s almost December at the White House, and Donald Trump orders his aides to put up a nativity scene on the lawn. They all grovel before him and begin their task.

After working for a few hours to set one up, the aides step back to look at their work.

“It looks pretty good,” says the first one.

“Yeah, but I’m not sure the boss will like it,” says the second.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, look at these three wise men. Three wise men? That sounds like Ivy League elitists to me. Plus, frankincense and myrrh? I bet these guys are Arabs. The president wouldn’t like this at all.”

The other aide agrees he has a point, so they take out the wise men and chuck them over the fence.

“Do you think it’s ready now?” says the first aide.

“Not really,” says the second one, “Look at Mary and Joseph – they’re refugees! I bet they’re bringing drugs and crime to Nazareth.”

So they take out Mary and Joseph too.

“Ok, I think we’re ready,” says the first one.

“Not yet,” says the second, “look at the baby. His parents came from Egypt just so he could be born in Nazareth? Sounds like an anchor baby to me.”

So they chuck out Jesus as well.

Proud of their work, they head back to the Oval Office to let the president know they’ve finished.

“Well?” He asks, “have you finished the most bigly tremendous decorations? We’re going to make Christmas great again.”

“Yes, Mr President. We’re sure you’ll be very happy with it. We took out the wise men, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus.”

“Well,” Trump asks, “what’s left?”

“It’s just the way we thought you’d like it sir. One jackass and a whole bunch of sheep.”

Merry Christmas!

 

December 22, 2018

DDT: Week 100 – Not Very ‘Positive’

Day One of GOP/Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) government shutdown: Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) who fought to close down the government said that workers without paychecks is “actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position.” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said, “Who’s living that they’re not going to make it to the next paycheck?” He’s talking about 78 percent of fulltime workers.

The House Judiciary Committee, under the leadership of Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), demanded that the FBI vet over 3,400 pages of transcripts of investigation into the DOJ, including former FBI director James Comey, within two days, but the FBI said that the shutdown kept it from meeting that deadline. Materials cannot be released without an evaluation for classified, sensitive, or personally revealing information. Goodlatte, retiring this year, is single-handedly holding up a bill, unanimously passed in the Senate, to hopefully lower the incredibly high rate of violence against Native American women. He complained that states with high percentages of this population would receive grants for this purpose.

Failing to get an agreement on the CR today, the Senate adjourned and took their paychecks home for Christmas, leaving 800,000 government workers, over half of them still working, without pay.

Yesterday, DDT told reporters:

“We have had a very busy two or three days. It’s been very positive.”

Some of these “positive” events:

DDT’s pullout from Syria worsened—if possible—after Brett McGurk, U.S. envoy to the global coalition fighting ISIS, Brett McGurk, quit because he disagrees with DDT’s decision and statement about ISIS being defeated.

DDT’s shutdown of the government after conservative media goading and the chaos that he’s causing by pulling troops out of the Middle East with no plan made even stalwart Republican legislators at least raise eyebrows, especially after his Defense Secretary resigned in protest.

A senior Justice Department ethics official concluded that acting DOJ AG Matt Whitaker should recuse himself from overseeing Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian scandal, but Whitaker refuses to ask for an official ethics decision. The DOJ has notified Congress of Whitaker’s refusal.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testified that she has no idea how many immigrants have died in custody under her watch. In a hearing about the death of a 7-year-old girl while in DHS custody, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said, “There have been at least 12 deaths under your watch,” Jayapal said. Nielsen also lied again that “we do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Nielsen that his committee plans to do its job of “meaningful oversight,” beginning in January. Note that Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) tried to save Nielsen by comparing the situation to Robert Mueller separating Paul Manafort from “his two beautiful children”—who happen to be 30 years old.

Nielsen said later that asylum seekers will be kept in Mexico instead of allowed to enter the U.S. This decision may not hold up in court after two judgments the past week. The D.C. appeals court struck down DDT and DOJ policies that refused asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence, and Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices to block DDT’s attempts to turn asylum seekers from the border. The ruling supported the decision of U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar, who DDT called an “Obama judge,” that DDT’s new rules were illegal.

Latest nominee for DOJ AG William Barr sent an unsolicited 20-page memo to Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and Assistant AG Steven Engel last summer giving arguments against Robert Mueller’s right to investigate DDT for potential obstruction of justice and refuting the government’s ability to even question DDT. Barr also sent the memo to DDT before he was appointed.

In a tweet announcing the signing of the farm bill, DDT provided the clip of himself singing the Green Acres theme song at the 2005 Emmys, a performance not to be missed. When the final bill failed to punish some food stamps recipients who did not have jobs, DDT planned an executive order to eliminate legal waivers that would take food from almost 800,000 people, a decision that may be determined illegal.

Instead of going free for giving up information after lying to the FBI, former national security adviser Michael Flynn has another 90 days to tell more secrets after an irritated judge accused him of selling out his country for pushing Turkish interests in the U.S. during DDT’s campaign and blaming the FBI for his lies because they didn’t tell him it was a crime. Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian has been charged as an illegal agent of Turkey and conspiracy in his efforts to get a Turkish cleric extradited from the U.S., an 80-year-old man who would certainly killed if he were sent to Turkey after living in the U.S. for almost 20 years. DDT said that he would “take a look” at the man’s extradition, obviously not concerned about killings after his indifference to the torture and dismemberment of longtime U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi royalty.

A conservative Texas judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, bad news for DDT and Republicans because 53 percent of people have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act. People voted Democrats into the House to keep their health care. Approval in a November KFF Health Tracking Poll:

  • 82 percent – Young adults stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26
  • 82 percent – Health insurance exchanges for small businesses and people to shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits
  • 81 percent – Financial insurance premium help to low- and moderate-income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs
  • 81 percent – Gradually closure of the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” so people will no longer be required to pay the full cost of their medications
  • 79 percent – No out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services
  • 77 percent – State expansion of existing Medicaid programs to cover more low-income, uninsured adults (now in three-fourths of the states)
  • 65 percent – No denial of coverage because of a person’s medical history

Republicans were in the majority in all of the above.

DDT’s sort-of lawyer Rudy Giuliani contradicted his boss by saying DDT knew that fixer Michael Cohen was negotiating with Russia for a Trump Tower in Moscow long after DDT said it had stopped ten months before his election, perhaps after June 2016, the date that Cohen gave. A letter of intent from DDT to move forward with his negotiations four months into his campaign has also emerged. Giuliani claimed that DDT knew nothing about it, but  DDT signed a letter of intent four months into his campaign for the project.

Documentation proves that DDT also broke his pledge to have no new business deals while he is in the Oval Office by acting as partner in the development of a proposed beachside resort in the Dominican Republic. Taxpayers provide the high costs of business trips for travel and security by DDT’s children in a business that opens up opportunities for more money laundering on the part of the Trump Organization.

DDT’s charitable foundation, called “a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” by the New York AG, has been closed with any assets distributed under court supervision. The AG office is now pursuing a lawsuit to prevent DDT and his three oldest children from membership on boards of any other New York charities and force the payment of $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who made her first appearance since November to declare that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn, also attacked Comey on her official government Twitter account, an ethics issue. After his second six-hour House hearing, Comey, a Republican until 2016, exhorted Republicans:

“At some point someone has to stand up and face the fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement but stand up and speak the truth.”

Instead of the spending spree called the “Santa rally,” the Dow Jones’ seven-percent fall had its worst week since 2008—the year of George W. Bush’s recession—and dropped to the same number as 15 months ago. The Standard & Poor, down 11.4 percent thus far this month, is headed toward its worst December since 1931. DDT is blaming the Federal Reserve, but long time Republicans are blaming DDT. Crude oil plunged 11 percent during the past week for its worst weekly performance in three months.

DDT tweeted that he was negotiating with Democratic leaders about the shutdown for a bipartisan deal and announced a “large group” for a White House lunch but invited only GOP lawmakers and officials, primarily immigration hardliners. Conservatives keep repeating the wall as DDT’s promise but avoid the other promise that Mexico would fund the project.

This NBC/Wall Street Journal poll was taken before DDT’s “positive” busyness this past week:

  • 71 percent: DDT regularly makes “misleading” statements.
  • 62 percent: DDT has not been honest and truthful about Russia.
  • 60 percent: Lawmakers should make compromises to reach consensus on legislation.
  • 54 percent: Disapprove of the job that DDT is doing; negative feelings about DDT.
  • 50 percent: Mueller’s investigation has provided more doubts about DDT’s presidency.
  • 33 percent: The country is headed in the right direction.

Who should take the lead in country’s policies? Trump – 19 percent; GOP – 21 percent; Democrats – 48 percent.

The funniest news of the week: Funds raised by an online campaign We the People Will Fund the Wall—up to $14 million for 241,601 donors for 2/3 of a mile—will end up in the general fund for “general use” or “budget needs,” according to law. These funds are controlled by congressional appropriations. With this law, funds may be returned because GoFundMe prohibits “not using funds for their stated purpose.” Brian Kolfage, creator of the funding project has a background of sites with conspiracy theories. Another GoFundMe site has been introduced called “Ladders to Get over Trump’s Wall.”

If necessary, the money will be donated to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.

December 21, 2018

DDT: Week 100 – Government Shutdown, Middle East Chaos

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:08 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is holding nine government agencies hostage to get his steel slats, DDT’s new name for his border wall.

  • Over 420,000 federal employees will continue to work without paychecks—41,00 in the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and other law enforcement and correctional officers.
  • Almost 90 percent of DHS employees working without a paycheck includes 53,000 Transportation Security Administration employees, 42,000 Coast Guard employees, and 54,000 employees from Customs and Border Protection.
  • Other unpaid employees are 5,000 Forest Service firefighters and 3,600 National Weather Service forecasters.
  • Another 380,000 federal workers who also lose their paychecks and not allowed to work include over 44,000 employees from the Forest and National Park Services, 52,000 IRS staff, and 7,100 Housing and Urban Development workers, and 18,300 Transportation Department employees. Robert Mueller’s investigation continues.
  • Departments shut down are Treasury, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce, and Justice.
  • Services lost include income tax returns, availability of national parks and zoo, loan processing for housing, trade appropriations, paychecks for active-duty military members, WIC funds feeding low-income pregnant women and new mothers with their children up to five years old, with healthy food, detection and investigation of disease breakouts, and appeals for VA disability benefits.
  • Other losers are janitors, security guards, and other low-wage federal contractors who live paycheck from paycheck. Subsidized grocery stores for military families are closing.

DDT is in his third shutdown in 100 weeks, but the others were short. He is promising that this one will last a “long time.” The 17-day government shutdown in October 2013, the longest in U.S. history except for Bill Clinton’s 21 days over Christmas in 1996, cost $2 billion in just “lost productivity of furloughed workers.” A shutdown when one party controlled the government—both legislative and executive—hasn’t happened for over 40 years.

During the past few days, DDT has led everyone on a roller coaster with shutdown talk.  Without retiring senators, DDT might have gotten through a 60-day CR for the budget that included his steel slats. In a meeting with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), DDT said he was “proud” to cause a shutdown. That temper tantrum was followed by his claim that he would sign a short-term continuing resolution without funding for the wall. Congress took him at his word and passed the bill that he offered. At that point, he refused to sign the CR because it didn’t include $5 billion for a wall because the Fox network and other far-right pundits said he should demand the wall.

Members of Congress had already gone home and were forced to return for votes. Rep. Brian Schatz (D-HI) spent 17 minutes with his family before he had to go back to Washington, almost 5,000 miles away from his home, for a vote. The House caved and passed another CR with $5.7 billion for the wall, but the Senate needs 60 votes to move any bill forward. It managed 47 votes for a tie in a bill with the funding that VP Mike Pence broke. Tonight the shutdown began, and DDT is sitting by himself in the White House waiting for his direction from Fox and Rush Limbaugh. Congress may—or may not—return tomorrow to address the problem, depending on whether their work could bear fruit—or steel slats. DDT has decided to blame Democrats for the shutdown, but he is on record as saying that he “owns” the shutdown.

In ten days, the House will have the same majority of Democrats that the House enjoys now. They are less likely to pass a bill funding steel slats, and DDT has always guaranteed that Mexico, not U.S. taxpayers, will pay for a wall. From DDT came this tweet: [visual]

“A design of our Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful!”

While the government was responsible for averting a shutdown today, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who lost his re-election bid, held an emergency House meeting on the Senate “Curd Act” to define natural cheese. Amid all the following disastrous events of the past week—plus the government shutdown, Sessions considered the definition of “natural cheese” to be an emergency. Sessions lost to a black civil rights lawyer by six points after he was in Congress for 22 years.

For the first time in the history of the United States, a Defense Secretary has resigned to protest the actions of the man in the Oval Office. DDT’s intemperate decision to remove all the U.S. military from Syria appeared to be the last straw for James “Mad Dog” Mattis who went to the Oval Office seeking reason from the U.S. “leader.” According to DDT’s tweets, Mattis will be gone in two months. During his career in the Cabinet, James Mattis stopped a U.S. strike on North Korea, tried to preserve relationships with allies, stalled the proposed military parade, sided with keeping transgender military members, and worked, although failing, to keep the Iran deal, according to David Graham.

Mattis’ action came after DDT pulled all 2,200 military members out of Syria despite disagreement from his aides and secretaries of Defense and State as well as no plan. These officials were unable to convince DDT that the Kurd-dominated ground fighters trained and equipped by the U.S. are vital after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called them terrorists and threatened to attack them. Erdogan talked with DDT at the G20 Summit and again last Friday. Turkey has purchased Patriot missile defense batteries from the United States, indicating that DDT may operate on a purely commercial basis. DDT announced his decision on Twitter without telling anyone about the withdrawal except Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—not even congressional leaders. Even staunch DDT supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the move a “huge mistake.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), said that DDT’s generals “believe the high-fiving winners today are Iran, ISIS, and Hezbollah.”

DDT falsely claimed the ISIS is defeated in Syria although senior officials concluded that this defeat could be months away with thousands of ISIS militants underground in Syria. The Pentagon estimates 17,100 ISIS in Syria and another 13,000 in Iraq, the same as in 2014. In 2016, DDT blamed President Obama as “founder of ISIS” because he withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq.

Turkey and Russia are both pleased with Putin’s move because they both support Syria’s Assad government and oppose the Kurds who are fighting ISIS. DDT lied in his tweet about Russia being “unhappy” about the withdrawal, and Russian officials corrected him, saying that it was a good idea. “Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving,” said Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst.

Iran is also delighted because DDT’s troop withdrawal opens a path for Iran to defeat Israel.  Netanyahu tried to put on a happy face, merely saying that Israel will escalate its fight against Iran.

White supremacists in the United States are also ecstatic about DDT’s removal of troops from Syria because they look on its president, Bashar al-Assad as a hero with the far-right white supremacists in the United States.

DDT’s 30-day timeline for withdrawing the military troops, equipment, and heavy weapons may be impossible. The Pentagon wonders whether to retake thousands of weapons distributed to Syrian ground forces and the equipment over a half-dozen military bases. The latter may be destroyed in place. And a serious question is what to do with Kurdish fighters and the 79-nation international coalition to erase ISIS. With cells throughout the world, ISIS routinely initiates attacks throughout Syria. NGO’s supporting U.S. agencies bringing water and sanitation back to the ruined town of Raqqa were ordered to immediately leave.

Pulling troops out of Syria doesn’t mean that DDT will stop killing civilians there. He is leaving the air power and may increase strikes after U.S. troops are gone. DDT is also strengthening Iran because they support Turkey in opposing the Kurds.

Although DDT didn’t tweet his orders, he plans to pull 7,000 military members out of Afghanistan, about half the number stationed there. The Taliban will most likely be satisfied with the pullout, but Israel is concerned that the U.S. will leave Iraq next.

Even Brian Kilmeade on Fox & Friends opposes DDT’s action, calling the pullout a “stunning and irresponsible” move. Ed Henry protested. DDT is sticking to the advice of Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham to pull out troops and shut down the government.

DDT’s creation of chaos by pulling troops out of the Middle East and causing a government shutdown provides his latest diversion from the multiple investigations of him, his campaign, and his associates. And “acting” Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney flunked his first task of handling Congress.

And much more to report about this week’s disasters–tomorrow.

December 17, 2018

The Dark Side of George H.W. Bush

Filed under: Executive action — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The tributes to George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, keep pouring out as the media showered accolades on him after his death at age 94. They called him a man “of the highest character”; said that he “served with character, class, and integrity”; and “did tremendous good along the journey.” The picture of H.W. included his ending the Cold War without “firing a shot,” his life as a beloved husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The media also described his brave military career. All this praise blurs H.W.’s history.

Early Career:

Denounced the 1964 Civil Rights Act while running for senator.

Defended Richard Nixon’s role in Watergate and criticized the press for asking the president questions.

Helped facilitate Operation Condor as CIA director, a collaboration between South American military dictatorships that kidnapped, tortured, murdered, or disappeared thousands of political dissidents including former Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Orlando Letelier, assassinated on U.S. soil during H.W.’s directorship.

Campaign:

Hired Roger Ailes, later head of Fox, to run one of the most racist campaigns in modern history—until Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—as he falsified the part that his opponent Mike Dukakis played in releasing Willie Horton, who raped a woman while on prison furlough. The law letting Horton out for a short time had been passed by a GOP governor before Dukakis became governor. Even H.W.’s campaign director Lee Atwater apologized for his part in the advertising, but H.W. never did.

Decried Dukakis’ “Americanism” because he was the son of Greek immigrants.

Set up the Gary Hart scandal which forced Hart out of the running.

Flipped his policies—i.e., from pro-choice to anti-choice—to be elected.

Vice Presidency, loyalist to Ronald Reagan:

Backed dictatorships and death squads throughout Latin America.

Crushed unions.

Made racist attacks on welfare.

Displayed callous indifference to the AIDS crisis.

Supported apartheid South Africa.

Empowered the religious right.

Set the stage for continued actions during his presidency.

Presidency: 

Lied about his history in the CIA dating back to the ’50s.

Appointed incompetent sexual harasser Clarence Thomas to replace civil rights hero Thurgood Marshall for a life-time term on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lied about Iraqi troops yanking Kuwaiti infants from incubators and massing on the Saudi Arabian border in order to start a war that killed thousands of civilians by dropping 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait.

Used fabricated satellite images about a fictional Iraqi buildup that just didn’t exist to attack Iraq in 1990.

Imposed never before seen restrictions and censorship on media coverage of his war, forcing media into supporting extreme warring patriotism.

Promoted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s jihad, continued the U.S. pattern of violating international military law, and used brain-damaging chemicals responsible for illness in at least one-third of that war’s veterans.

Committed other war crimes including the deliberate destruction of essential Iraqi civilian infrastructure that couldn’t be repaired without foreign assistance.

Vetoed the 1990 Civil Rights Act.

Sent 24,000 military members into Panama to arrest Manuel Noriega, once a U.S. ally on the CIA payroll and considered an asset in Iran-Contra, an action that killed at least 3,000 Panamanians and set the scene for continuing wars.

Refused to cooperate with a special counsel for the Iran-Contra affair by concealing information about his involvement as vice president during the investigation of Ronald Reagan who illegally traded missiles for U.S. hostages in Iran and used the proceeds of arms sales to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Reagan sales were payback to Iran for keeping hostages in 1980 so that Jimmy Carter would lose the presidential election. The money was used to support “Contra” terrorists because Congress cut off funds to assassinate Nicaraguan elected officials and bomb civilians.

Pardoned six people to block a trial about the Iran-Contra affair because he might have been called as a witness.

Escalated the racist war on drugs and pushed greater spending for the “war” when federal agents lured a drug dealer to a park across from the White House, a war that failed to reduce drug abuse.

Groped women when they were being photographed with him.

Set the tone for opposition to reversing climate change, positively viewed during the 1980s.

Ignored the AIDS crisis killing hundreds of thousands of people through ignorance and lack of funding.

Opened Guantánamo to keep Haitian refugees escaping violence in their country from entering the United States.

Bailed out the savings and loan industry with $124.6 billion in taxpayer money that gave over $4 million to pay off his son Jeb’s loan.

Opposed raising the minimum wage and vetoed a bill to increase it to $4.55 an hour.

Hired people in 1992 to investigate passport files for proof that his opponent, Bill Clinton, had become a secret Communist while in Russia and went through the files of Clinton’s mother.

H.W. has been called a “patrician,” a descendant of a distinguished family. This family has a long career of creating and profiting from war crimes. H.W.’s father, Prescott, a Yale member of the secretive Skull and Bones Society like H.W., helped give financial assistance to the Nazi movement and Adolf Hitler, even after the U.S. entered World War II, and profited from slave labor at Auschwitz. H.W. continued the family tradition of amassing wealth by generating military enemies and then profiting from his covert business dealings connected to them.

Through the Carlyle Group, rebranded as an investment company but owners of companies with military and security contracts, H.W. was also connected with the Bin Ladin family during the Middle East wars. H.W. became actively involved with the Carlyle Group after he lost his second run for president and increased his wealth through advising his son, George W., while he was president. Saudi royalty made a sizable profit from Carlyle investments with the Carlyle Group but pulled out after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade towers.

Three-fourths of the perpetrators who crashed four commercial airplanes to kill thousands of people on 9/11/01 were Saudi Arabians, but both H.W. and his son George W. Bush protected their Saudi royal friends. Shafiq bin Laden was meeting with the Carlyle Group, including H.W., at the same time that his brother Osama destroyed the twin towers. Seventeen years later, many people associate the 9/11 attack with Iraq instead of Saudi Arabia.

Judicial Watch called on H.W. to resign from the Carlyle Group, owning at least 164 companies at that time, after George W. became president. H.W. stayed, and made a tidy profit from the 9/11 attack and George W.’s ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq when Carlyle’s businesses considerably picked up. Vought Aircraft, for example, received over $1 billion in defense contracts after laying off 20 percent of its workforce before 9/11.

James Baker, H.W.’s Secretary of State who extolled H.W.’s virtues after he died, also joined the Carlyle Group to manage relationships with Saudi clients and to defend Saudi Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz in a trillion-dollar lawsuit brought by families of 9/11 victims. They accused him of using Islamic charities to funnel millions of dollars to terrorist groups connected to al-Qaeda. The sultan died in 2011, the lawsuit has continued for 17 years, and Baker went on to make his son, James Baker IV, also wealthy.

The media glorification is a prime example of revisionist history, depicting H.W. as a perfect gentleman without reporting any of his flaws. His lasting legacy will be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. H.W. never wavered from his “total confidence” in Thomas that he first declared on October 9, 1991, despite charges of sexual misconduct against Thomas. On the high court, Thomas has opposed Roe v. Wade, claiming that the Constitution does not address abortion, and dissented to the majority of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.

When Thomas spoke before the court in 2016, it was the first time in ten years. Until Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a justice, Thomas took the most conservative position. In a term with only 59 signed opinions, Thomas would have erased six vital precedents because they didn’t fit his personal understanding of what the Founding Fathers wrote. Thomas supported racial discrimination in Texas redistricting because, according to his opinion, the Constitution did not mention districting. In another case, Thomas ruled for a Muslim ban: he stated that the Constitution doesn’t advocate injunctions. Ironically, he had upheld an injunction against President Obama’s DAPA, granting temporary deferral of deportation to the parents of the young “Dreamers” protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, DACA. Thomas voted for Citizens United v. FEC which permits almost unlimited dark money in elections and put H.W.’s son into the Oval Office in Bush v. Gore.

Twenty percent of appeals court judges appointed in the past two years clerked for Thomas. At the age of 70, Thomas is the longest-serving justice with the possibility of becoming Chief Justice. He is H.W.’s gift to the United States.

Rest in peace, H.W.

 

 

 

 

December 16, 2018

‘War on Christmas’ Continues

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 7:34 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

The “War on Christmas” rolls on with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) a major perpetrator. He may be telling people “Merry Christmas,” but he cancelled the annual Christmas White House media event, inviting only “nice” commentators “nice”—especially Fox—to other White House holiday parties. Those are the ones who continue to shout “War on Christmas.”

Last year DDT and Melania had a gathering but made a brief appearance and didn’t pose for photographs. The guest list also avoided the inclusion of many black and LGBTQ reporters. Even Bill Clinton was willing to have his picture taken with journalists days after he was impeached. DDT’s relationship with the media has become increasingly frayed during the past year, especially after he pulled Jim Acosta’s press credentials and told the world that his business with Saudi Arabia was more important the torture and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. journalist for the Washington Post.

In their passion about the “war on Christmas,” conservatives forgot to notify the importance of rejecting “Happy Holidays” to its own religious right group Heritage Foundation. Although that political organization has typically used the winter holidays as a wedge against inclusiveness, this year’s gifts fail to represent their battle.

Conservatives—who don’t care about climate change killing polar bears—are up in arms against Starbucks for their sugar cookies decorated as polar bears. The major problem with their complaint is that the cookies disappeared eight years ago.

In Elkhorn (NE), Manchester Elementary principal Jennifer Sinclair banned a long list of Christmas traditions, including candy canes. She wrote, “Historically, the shape [of the candy cane] is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.” Her order has been reversed, and the principal is on administrative leave. Because of a high level of “concerns,” a police officer has been posted at the school.

Other signs of the GOP/DDT war on Christmas:

  • Gassing asylum seekers trying to legally come into the United States from Mexico.
  • Separating children from parents, especially with no intent to return them, and imprisoning them.
  • Killing civilians, including those in schools and hospitals, throughout the Middle East.
  • Refusing health care for low-income people after denying them a living wage.
  • Destroying the planet through ignoring renewable energy sources.
  • Depleting the world’s resources to make the wealthiest people wealthier.
  • Building white supremacy over minorities.
  • Insisting on war to build corporate profits.
  • Making dangerous decisions about the economy.
  • Putting unqualified conservative bigots on federal courts.
  • Removing women’s and voting rights.
  • Rigging elections and winning them by fraud to achieve the above.

The Vatican is also having a problem this Christmas season. Pope Francis has removed two cardinals from the Council, his international advice body, for alleged sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell, still the Vatican treasurer, will be on trial on sexual abuse charges in Australia, and Chile’s Francisco Javier Errazuriz has been accused of covering up child abuse while Archbishop of Santiago. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, 79, also resigned from the Council leaving only six in the group. There are no plans to immediately the empty seats.

DDT’s firm Christian evangelical beliefs did not extend to reciting the Apostles’ Creed at the funeral of George H.W. Bush. He and Melania stood in stone silence while three former presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter—participated in the service with their wives.

Over a month after the midterm elections, the Democrats still have no intention to “slaughter” tens of thousands of Christians, as Christian broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles warned if the Dems win. He pronounced that “they hate God. These people are against God. Every nation that has been taken over by Marxist-communists, they immediately kill the pastors. They immediately kill Christians. They immediately burn the churches.” He’s also maintained that MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow, an out lesbian, will lead a coup against DDT.

“Be prepared for a mob—a leftist mob—to tear down the gates, the fence at the White House and to go into the White House and to drag him out with his family and decapitate them on the lawn of the White House.”

Matt Shea, a Republican state representative in Washington, wants to kill all people he identifies as non-believers. In his “Biblical Basis for War,” he follows “Dominionism,” also advocated by Ted Cruz’s father, that describes God as a “warrior” and demands that his holy war “kill all males” who do not submit to the document’s rules. Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who gave the material to the FBI, described Shea’s document as “a ‘how to’ manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990s.” Shea won his sixth term in 2018 with 58 percent of the vote.

Conservative pastor E.W. Jackson maintains that he isn’t Islamaphobic, he is horrified that two Muslim women may be able to wear their hijabs on the floor of the U.S. House starting in January 2019. “The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” Jackson said. “We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that.”

Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted:

“Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America… And you’re gonna have to just deal 😂”

The ban stating “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House” began in 1837 to break tradition with members of the British House of Commons who were required to wear hats in order to speak. The House of Commons continued its tradition until 1998; the Senate has no rule regarding head coverings.

Jackson, who lost a GOP Virginia primary for Senate in May said:

“Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in the First Amendment, but I’ll tell you what, I’m not voting for a Muslim to serve in any office. Me, personally, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. Period. I’m not doing it.”

DDT plans to leave for a two-week vacation at the end of the week. Isolated at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, he will have lots of time for more vicious tweets about the media and his opponents with little monitoring to help him be more rational.

Merry Christmas!

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