Nel's New Day

January 30, 2019

The U.S. National Crisis – DDT

The United States has a national emergency—and it’s Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Yesterday, the government released its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” and three intelligence leaders— National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray—testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. These are some conclusions from the 42-page report and the expert testimony:

The U.S. has no “security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border which DDT has described as a national emergency, but the nation has much more to fear.

U.S. trade policies and “unilateralism,” straining alliances, have prompted former foreign partners to find other relationships. The growing cyberthreat from Russia and China, now “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s,” threatens U.S. infrastructure with their capability of destroying the U.S. electric grid with malware and cutting off natural gas pipelines. Foreign enemies want to weaken the U.S. to control the country. Russia’s latest “disinformation” campaign to distort information from Robert Mueller’s investigation works to protect DDT who will support Vladimir Putin at all costs. Russia and China’s goal is to gain military and technological superiority over the United States. Russia also intends to interfere with politics (aka elections) with “information warfare” largely on social media.

North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.” Its government “is committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.”

ISIS, a still-formidable organization, will continue “to stoke violence” in Syria. With eight branches and over a dozen networks, it has thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria and attracts thousands of supporters from around the world. ISIS is also capable of attacking the United States.

Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon and is in compliance with the international agreement that DDT rejected before he reinstated U.S. sanctions on the country.

Climate change remains a national security threat, according to Coats. Two weeks ago, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a global security threat.

The officials punted when asked why staffers such as DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received security clearances that would block personnel in other administrations from access to classified information. In all other ways, they declared that DDT’s world view is wrong.

DDT spent today ranting against his intelligence leaders. He described them as “extremely passive and naïve” about Iran and exclaimed about the three who testified, “They are wrong!” Although the DDT didn’t watch the testimony, he responded to clips shown on television and delivered opinions based on nothing. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he indignantly tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote Coats asking him, Wray, and Haspel to perform an intervention with DDT. Schumer called DDT’s criticism “extraordinarily inappropriate and undermines public confidence in the U.S. government’s efforts to protect our national security and preserve U.S. power and influence abroad” before he said that Coats “cannot allow the President’s ill-advised and unwarranted comments today to stand.” Schumer continued:

“I believe it is incumbent on you, Director Wray and Director Haspel to insist on an immediate meeting with the President to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments, and to impress upon him how critically important it is for him to join and the leadership of our Intelligence Community in speaking with a unified and accurate voice about national security threats.”

DDT has joined Russia and China in trying to weaken the United States. The fear of nuclear weapons from a half-century ago has returned as DDT plans a withdrawal from Ronald Reagan’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2 and an irrational man is in charge of pushing the button on nuclear war. DDT gets his information and advice from Vladimir Putin, including a secret meeting in Buenos Aires at the G20 summit where the only other person from the U.S. present was DDT’s wife, Melania. Earlier DDT had said that he wouldn’t meet with Putin because Russia had not returned captured Ukrainian ships and sailors. Two months after Russia’s seizure of three ships and 24 sailors in international waters, DDT has said nothing about Putin’s unwillingness to release them.

If the thought of DDT allowing China and Russia to destroy natural gas and electric sources in the United States, allow ISIS terrorists to overrun the country, and blow up the world with nuclear weapons, consider Venezuela. This week, DDT seized assets from state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA)—a primary source of income and foreign currency for the country—by placing sanctions on them in a de facto embargo with exemptions only for Chevron and two large oil services providers Halliburton and Schlumberger. He gave control of the remaining assets to his appointed Venezuelan president, Juan Guaidó. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that corruption was the reason for the U.S. action, but he isn’t bothered by Russia’s corruptions and sham elections. The United States will block Venezuela’s access to credit and stop debt restructuring until Guaidó replaces legally elected President Nicolás Madura. National security adviser John Bolton again threatened military action (aka invasion) toward Venezuela.

With the biggest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela has become president of OPEC for the upcoming year with the ability to threaten the U.S. dollar with a push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies. The country also has the second largest gold reserves alone with diamonds and other minerals such as coltan used for electronic devices. DDT’s doctrine, as expressed about Iraq in 2016:

“To the victor belong the spoils. You have to go in and take the oil.”

DDT started looking into taking over Venezuela the day after his inauguration because of these oil reserves, and an invasion also fits his doctrine. He has told the CIA and the Pentagon that he sees no problem in civilian casualties and celebrated the dropping of “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. With plummeting ratings and problems in the United States, DDT is searching for help politically, not caring that his embargo and invasion would greatly increase the suffering of Venezuelans. To DDT, people are just commodities but of less value than oil.

Reasons against DDT’s Venezuelan coup:

Venezuela has a legitimate voting process, far better than in other countries such as the United States and Russia. International observers concluded that “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Outside interference caused the dire economic situation in Venezuela from an economic war by the U.S., declining oil prices, and the government’s economic sabotage. Large inflow from foreign currency for oil raised the value of the country’s currency which made its other products less price competitive and resulting in more imports. U.S. sanctions in the past six months cost Venezuela $6 billion.

Much of the violence in the country has been caused by the opposition to the elected president Maduro from violence, murders, and destruction of public and private buildings and vehicles. The National Assembly, declared in contempt by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 because of electoral fraud, granted amnesty for the opposition’s crimes since 1999—felonies, terrorism, and undermining the economy—and described the crimes by the opposition.

To compound problems, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and DDT appointed an extremist as a “special envoy” to Venezuela. Pompeo extolled Elliott Abrams’ “passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples,” but Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also convicted for lying about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and escaped prison only when George H.W. Bush pardoned him to save his own skin.

DDT’s sidekick in ousting a duly elected president, Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro, has his own problems. Like the corrupt DDT, Bolsonaro campaigned on eradicating corruption and crime, but his son, recently elected senator Flávio Bolsonaro, reportedly employed both the mother and wife of Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, leader of a Rio de Janeiro death squad called the Escritório do Crime (The Crime Bureau). Nóbrega is supposedly on the run, and law enforcement suspect the Crime Bureau of assassinating Rio councilor Marielle Franco. Fabrício Queiroz, a longstanding friend of Brazil’s president pictured socializing with Jair Bolsonaro in a photo where both men appear topless, allegedly recommended the two women to Flávio Bolsonaro, who is also facing other damaging accusations about his financial dealings. Like DDT, the Brazilian president could face blackmail.

Now DDT faces his State of the Union speech this coming Tuesday. Prepare yourself for defensive statements presenting his fictional views of the world—and his fantasy stories about women with duct tape covering their mouths, smugglers with “unbelievable vehicles,” and Muslim prayer rugs in the desert along the southern U.S. border—straight from the fictional movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

January 29, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Hagfish Slime

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:17 PM
Tags: , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) plans a coup in Venezuela and contemplates his next government shutdown in less than three weeks. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin favors friends who financially benefited him by lifting sanctions on Russian oligarchs and Vladimir Putin who helped DDT get elected in 2016. Bill Barr hopes to be the next DOJ AG so that he can protect DDT from his legal problems emanating from his corruption. GOP legislators ridicule the idea of “global warming” because they can’t tell the difference between weather and climate.

In the past year, the United States lost four points in the Corruption Perceptions Index, dropping to a score of 71, and moving down to # in the world. Full democracies averaged 75 on the corruption index, flawed democracies averaged 49, and autocratic regimes averaged 30. Since 2012, only 20 countries improved their scores, some of them staying in the area of autocracies, and 16 declined, including Chile which dropped from 72 to 67. The U.S. is now 22 out of 180 nations.

All this in the past week and much more make Sue Hardesty’s latest Facebook entry timely. It’s on slime. From Sue Hardesty:

I’ve often heard the two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day they bought the boat and the day they sold it. I don’t know how true this is, so I have another fish story for you. Whether you’re fly fishing, baitcasting or spinning, our Yaquina River is a popular place to play. Among the edible fish you might expect to catch are bass, chinook, steelhead, cabezon, perch, rockfish, greenling, salmon, sturgeon, herring and crab. And a real slime-ball called hagfish. When you pick these little suckers up, they secrete snotty slime any time they feel threatened. Mixed in with water the slime quickly turns it into a sticky, thick gel.

The hagfish can clean itself by simply tying itself into a knot, scraping the slime away as it twists from the head to its tail. Considered one of the ugliest of sea animals, the hagfish has an eel body, no skeleton except for a skull, up to 14 pairs of gill pores, five hearts, strong jaws with sharp teeth, and a stomach. They are scaleless and blind. Traced back to the Paleozoic era, the evolving era of fish, it is a scavenger found mostly on soft mud bottoms and is caught using rakes and plastic baited traps. Their unusual feeding habits and their slime-producing abilities have led scientists to recognize them as the most ‘disgusting’ of all sea creatures.

Yet these ugly creatures and their eggs are a big delicacy in Japan and other Asian countries. Koreans even consider the hagfish an aphrodisiac. I understand that hagfish slime is pure protein and could be a great substitute for eggs. Anybody for scrambled? Not to put too strong a point on it, I really think grilled hagfish would be the ickiest food I’d never put in my mouth. But, some say, all things that swim are edible unless proven otherwise.

In other practical areas, hagfish skin is processed into various leather goods and sold throughout the world. Research into hagfish slime is investigating possible hagfish uses in biodegradable polymers, space-filling gels – even a means of stopping blood flow in accident victims and surgery, ballistics protection, firefighting, anti-fouling, diver protection, and anti-shark spray. The tough, stretchy fibers can also be used for fabric. Hard to think about wearing fish, especially knowing it’s slimy snot.

My fish story, super-starring our very own hagfish, would have me selling my boat, too. On July 14, 2017, a truck full of hagfish destined for South Korea overturned on Oregon Highway 101, strewing the animals across a stretch of highway, covering the road and an unfortunate car in slime. It was funny at the time. Unless it was your car.

[Notes: This is a very brief description of the creatures. If your curiosity is piqued, check out these sources:

For those with a strong stomach, I highly recommend this three-minute video. And think about the United States government while you do. A big difference between DDT’s administration and hagfish is that hagfish benefits people.]

 

January 28, 2019

Margaret & Helen: Helen Turns Loose about Last Week’s News

In the past, I’ve written about my admiration for these “elder” women and their blog. This one about last week’s events is a classic! The subtitle: “Do you have any idea how hard it is not to use the F-word when talking about Donald Trump? It’s damn near f-ing impossible.” #FactsMatter #HowToTrainYourDragon

Margaret, I know you don’t Tweet unless you are talking to your parrots. And for what it’s worth, I told you those things would outlive us. I know you thought I was stupid to get on the Twitter. Well, I should have listened to you, honey. I came. I tweeted. And I got covered in shit. Probably because Twitter is chock-full of assholes who don’t know the difference between your and you’re.

Now before all you NitTwits out there write me off, read on for a little bit. There are some things that are good about Twitter. Most are not easy to find, but they’re there if you are willing to work a bit. I’ll explain…

On Friday, a jackass named Roger Stone whined that the FBI had raided his home leaving himself, his dog, his wife (in that order) and even his neighbor forever traumatized.  From his description, it’s hard to believe he was able to pull it all together in time to make a speech, do a few radio interviews, and then finish it off with a couple of cable news shows, all while hoping someone would ask him about how he once took out personal ads referring to himself as a body builder with a hot wife looking for muscular studs for threesomes. Yep. True story. Stone is a real asshat.

But I’ve gotten off track. This really isn’t about Roger Stone. However, I would like to take a second to point out that while he was kicked off Bob Dole’s campaign for his little trio fetish, he was eventually hired again by George W. Bush and, of course, Donald J. Trump.  In fact, given enough time I can probably prove that while not every asshole is on Twitter, they are all on a Republican payroll somewhere.

Anyway, back to the point of this story…

Immediately the Cheeto in Chief tweeted from the White House that Roger Stone was treated more unfairly than drug dealers and border coyotes.  I find that pretty rich coming from Trump. Unless Roger’s wife was put in a cage, I’d say he got off pretty easy by Trump standards.  How someone can cram so many lies into so few characters is astounding. It’s probably the only thing at which Trump excels. One day the history books will tell the story of how Trump became president because a bunch of racists inbred to the point that they had the attention span of a gnat. If your family tree goes in a straight line, I’ve got a red hat to sell you. Yep. I’m a bitch. Screw you MAGA nation. You screwed up Christianity and now you’ve screwed up the United States of America.  All because you think an immigrant stole your job. Well here’s 280 characters for you:

An immigrant who achieves the American Dream didn’t steal anything from you or your family. They just wanted it more than you and worked harder than you. And they did it with all the odds stacked against them.  If your life sucks lemons, a wall isn’t going to turn it to lemonade.

Off track again.  Sadly, I’m pretty sure any MAGAt who started reading this has long ago gotten distracted by a shiny object.  Probably one of those shiny blondes on Fox & Friends.

So back to Friday…

As if the Stone indictment wasn’t enough, we also saw a woman finally get the best of Trump. Shockingly, porn and secret payments weren’t involved.  Sorry, Stormy. I’ve come to love you honey, but Nancy fucked Trump and that little mushroom of  Donald’s never made an appearance. Now that’s my kind of woman. (Note – I just used a word that I once thought I would never use. The F-word. I’ll explain in a bit.)  The great deal maker just spent a month dealing himself into Ann Coulter’s timeout corner.  Speaking of that pholcidae, Ann Coulter needs to eat a potato chip once in awhile.  Honey, when you turn sideways your nose looks like the tab on a zipper.  I know. I know. I shouldn’t body shame.  Fine. I made fun of a skinny bitch.  Hate me today.  I’ll apologize tomorrow by sending her a pie.  So many assholes. So much shit. So few characters. Even fewer with character.

But where was I?  Oh yes…Nancy.

Nancy Pelosi is one hell of a leader despite the fact that we require her to work twice as hard and endlessly prove herself worthy of her job. Nancy isn’t just matching Fred Astaire’s dance moves step-for-step backwards and in heels, she’s reminding the entire world that if women were allowed to take the reins, some important shit could finally get done. For the love of God, you MAGA asshats, she is the reason you have anything even close to affordable healthcare and a living wage. And if not for your precious GOP, you would have gotten the whole enchilada. I probably shouldn’t have used that enchilada metaphore. Did someone say wall?

Oh, but again, I digress… It’s so easy to do when you are not limited to 280 characters.

And so, here we are.  After 4,542 characters and one President without character, we arrive at my point:

With all that news to offer on Friday, that same evening the Washington Post tweeted out this headline for a story: Texas officials flag tens of thousands of voters for citizen checks. I don’t know what the terms mean, but the kids call that click bait and then go on about something to do with ratios. Not important. What is important is that IF you actually read the article – and almost no one on Twitter does – the very LAST paragraph explains that Texas has no proof of voter fraud and further research most likely will show that minimal if any occurred. But that didn’t stop the Great Orange Yeast Infection from tweeting a few hours later the lie that voter fraud was a huge problem because 95,000 illegal immigrants voted in the last election in Texas.

Why the last paragraph of that story is not the first paragraph is a good example of how  we got into this mess. Shame on the Washington Post for making it so easy for Trump. In my day, people called it judging a book by its cover. I have always just called it what it is: Bullshit. And friends, Twitter is full of bullshit. And the biggest asshole spewing shit and stinking up the place is Donald Jackass Trump. His 57 million followers judge a book by its cover, a person by their color, and their own IQ by the number of channels on their cable box. The only book they might pick up is the Bible and, I promise you, they don’t read that one either. For the record, he’s YOUR president, and YOU’RE an asshat for believing him. YOUR is a possessive adjective.  YOU’RE is a contraction of you are.

Now mind you, if you look really hard, you can find Tweets like the one from the Texas Tribune to its 180,000 followers warning people about the misleading headline.  How much do you want to bet that almost no MAGA-hats follow the Texas Tribune? Trust me.  It requires reading more than just a headline, and those people only get their headlines from one place – Fox News – the only place with more assholes full of shit than Twitter.  And speaking of assholes, can Tucker Carlson pull his head out of his long enough to see where role modeling Bill O’Reilly is going to take him? A loofah, a hot shower and Lindsey Graham.  No wait. What? That doesn’t make any sense. But it did allow me to sneak in a mention of Lindsey Graham. Of all the Real Housewives I hate; Lindsey Olin Graham is at the top of my list. No matter what side of his mouth Lindsey talks out of, it’s always shrill. Don’t try to follow my logic folks – it’s all shits and grins at this point.  Because in the end, that is all Twitter is good for.  Well, almost…

Journalist and politicians have no business trying to do their jobs on Twitter.  It’s a great place for cat videos, clever comments from Quinn Cummings, and teen activists trying to take down the god-awful NRA.  All those things SHOULD be accomplished in 280 characters or less.  You really shouldn’t have to work too hard to point out that cats are cute, Quinn is hilarious, and the NRA is evil.  But trying to be President of the United States 280 characters at a time should be a god-damn constitutional crisis. And Congress should at long last put a stop to it. Censure him. Indict him. Impeach him. Anything him.  Just quit tweeting at him and do your damn job.  And the same thing goes to all of you journalists on Twitter. A story is more than its headline.  If you are going to limit yourself to 280 characters, then make sure you get to the truth around character 10 or 11.  Trump and his followers lose their attention after that.

You know what else happened last week?  Five women were shot execution style by a gunman in Florida.  Another gunman killed five people in Louisiana. All that and we focused on an idiot like Stone. It doesn’t take 280 characters to make the case that a national state of emergency isn’t at the southern border. It’s at the NRA headquarters. If the President wasn’t so fixated on how many likes he gets, he might know that. Jesus H. Christ I hate that man. How on God’s green earth did he ever become President? Oh wait. Twitter. I forgot. Damn you @Jack.  And by the way, did you really suspend me because of my joke about Trump listening to the voices in his head?  Seriously?  The man practically started a nuclear war on your platform.

Now, I’ll admit that I am probably just another one of those assholes on Twitter, but I did meet a few good people along the way. I doubt they even knew I was following them. If you want to be on Twitter and do some good, follow @davidhogg111 or @Emma4Change. Want a good laugh?  Follow @quinncy or @louisvirtel. Want to actually make a difference as a political activist?  Try @Alyssa_Milano or @williamlegate.  Want to waste your time?  Follow a Kardashian. And for the love of God, give @kathygriffin a break. It was a fucking halloween mask. If you follow a journalist, promise that you’ll click on the link and read the whole story.  Might I suggest @texastribune, @DanRather, @annanavarro or @NicoleDWallace.  Just don’t follow a politician until they retire. And that goes double for @realdonaldfuckingtrump!

So, here we are at the end of my little rant. In this story, I used the F-word. Three times. It’s a word that I had always banned on this little web blog of mine.  I humbly ask for your forgiveness.  But do you realize how hard it is to talk about Donald Trump and not use that word?  It’s god-damn near fucking impossible.  I mean it.  Really.

January 26, 2019

Venezuela: Is DDT Planning for 2020?

Following a long history of supporting Latin American coups by right-wing military leaders who destroy democratic process and law, the United States has involved itself in the recent Venezuelan presidency. VP Mike Pence declared that Venezuelan Nicolás Maduro, elected on May 20, 2018, is a “dictator with no legitimate claim to power [who] never won the presidency in a free and fair election.” The night before his announcement, Pence called Juan Guaidó to pledge U.S. support for him “if he seized the reins of government from [elected President] Nicolas Maduro by invoking a clause in the South American country’s constitution” after the attempted coup had been planned for several weeks. Over 70 academics and experts signed an open letter demanding that the U.S. “cease encouraging violence by pushing for violent, extralegal regime change.” Behind the push to oust Maduro are national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with the right-wing governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. DDT got more support from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

DDT says that “all options are on the table,” including “strong” ones, insinuating military action. Eighteen months ago, DDT wanted to “just simply invade” Venezuela, a suggestion that “stunned” then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. Explanations about how DDT’s suggestion could lose support from Latin American governments to keep Venezuela from a dictatorship failed to persuade DDT, who pointed out successful invasions of Panama and Grenada. He brought his idea of his military overthrow with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos in August 2017 and a month later with other Latin American leaders. Now he has supporters for a coup from people like his new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

As the U.S. has done in other countries, it declares disliked government illegitimate and dictatorial and tries to empower opposition groups it determines favorable. Thomas Carothers, director of the Carnegie Endowment Democracy and Rule of Law program, is the foremost academic on Washington’s democracy promotion efforts. In his research he concludes:

“Where democracy appears to fit in well with U.S. security and economic interest, the United States promotes democracy. Where democracy clashes with other significant interests, it is downplayed or even ignored.”

In 2009, the U.S. supported a military coup in Honduras deposing the elected president to keep access to the U.S. military base in the country and support U.S. business interests in Honduras. When the pro-business government winning the elections privatized Honduran natural resources, the U.S. recognized the election as “generally free and fair.” In 2013, the U.S.-supported Honduran president lifted the constitutional ban on re-election and then won after he stopped publishing the vote count. The U.S. accepted the election despite protests from 20 Latin American countries in the OAS and 28 in the European Union. Honduran authorities used violence to silence the protesting Hondurans, the U.S. gave Honduras millions in foreign aid, and DDT is facing thousands of Honduran asylum seekers at the U.S. border.

In Venezuela, U.S. officials called Maduro’s government convening of a National Constituent Assembly a “sham” and “another step toward dictatorship.” The Assembly is an elected body able to amend the Venezuelan constitution outside the legislature—much as conservatives have called for in the United States. Then the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela won 18 out of 23 races, as the Democratic United Roundtable had predicted, and the U.S. “condemned the lack of free and fair elections” and vowed harsh reprisals “as long as the Maduro regime conducts itself as an authoritarian dictatorship.” Only one governor’s race was in question, and the rest of them were accepted by most opposition parties.

The U.S. charged that the Constituent Assembly dissolved the opposition-controlled congressional branch, but the legislative branch still exists. It cannot perform its function unless it answers charges of wrongdoing from the Supreme Court when the opposition parties disobeyed a direct order. The opposition party was trying to get a supermajority used to unseat Maduro.

According to UN representative Alfred de Zayas, the U.S. is attempting an illegal coup much like the forerunner to the 2003 Iraq invasion. His concern is the U.S intention for creating a regime change in Venezuela, to “topple the government” that could result in a civil war. He described the media campaign in the U.S. that promotes the usual solution of violence to an economic crisis and humanitarian crisis of hunger and suffering. De Zayas reported seeing victims of brutality by Maduro’s opposition, depicted in the media as peaceful.

The U.S. has tried other coups in Venezuela, but the country is much worse off after the drop in oil prices and the recent election of right-wing governments in South America. Yet there is no legal justification for this coup: Guaidó’s party boycotted the election, and no one voted for him.

The U.S. will probably impose heavy sanctions on the country’s oil to increase hunger and suffering, especially with DDT’s newly appointed special envoy to Venezuela. Neocon hawk Elliott Abrams, part of Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair, will oversee policy toward Venezuela despite Abrams’ rejection as deputy secretary of State for criticizing DDT. As deputy national security adviser for George W. Bush, Abrams supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a failed military coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002. In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to withholding information from Congress about his secret efforts to aid the rebels but was pardoned by DDT’s AG appointment, Bill Barr. He also strongly disagreed with DDT’s claim that he wasn’t seeking regime change in North Korea.

DDT’s approach toward opposing Venezuela is unlike the other proclamations that he has made. He made no tweets about his position about Venezuela, and his claims to “make America first” never extolls democracy or human rights, and his closest allies are dictators—i.e., Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Roderigo Duterte, Saudi Arabia’s royalty, and Brazil. In order to send the U.S. military into Venezuela without congressional approval, however, requires that it be on a humanitarian basis.

One answer for DDT’s focus on Venezuela may come from his low ratings and desire to be re-elected. Just as Bush’s Iraq made him temporarily successful, so could military action in Venezuela, or so DDT might think. He would also believe that an attack against a weakened country surrounded by right-wing countries would be easier than an attack in the Middle East or Asia.

Every action DDT has taken since he was inaugurated—all of them in opposition to President Obama’s policies—has taken the United States farther from world leadership. DDT may see his control in Venezuela as a method of moving back into control.

Venezuela is oil-rich—and easier to take over than Middle Eastern countries.

DDT has used Venezuela as the poster child for the failure of socialism to batter the Democrats despite the fact that “socialism” and “democratic socialism” are highly different. He also objects to Venezuela’s alliance with Cuba, most likely the reason that he followed Rubio’s direction to depose Maduro.

Another reason for deposing an elected president might be his fear of losing his election in 2020. He might believe that success in Venezuela could set the example for using his sycophantic Senate to depose an elected president in favor of him.

Whatever the reason, Venezuela has many parallels with the United States. The man in the Oval Office may have been illegitimately elected, he is trying to erase freedom of the press and ignores the rest of the U.S. Constitution, and his administration suffers from massive corruption and the officials’ attempts to become even wealthier. Income inequality in the U.S. geometrically increases every day. DDT constantly lies to terrorize people into following him. Millions of people are marching against DDT’s policies, and he puts only cronies into the administration. Congress is no longer independent from the executive branch as the GOP Senate takes its directions from DDT, for example its refusal to reopen the government until DDT gave them permission. The U.S. does not suffer as much from the hunger and economic problems as Venezuela does, but DDT’s policies are creating economic problems—especially with the rapidly ballooning deficit caused by moving money to the wealthy. DDT and GOP policies will also increase hunger, poverty, and lack of healthcare.

Opposing Maduro could create problems for DDT because of the support for Maduro from most countries, including Russia, China, and Turkey. If DDT caves in to Putin after setting up Venezuela for civil war, Guaidó could lose, and DDT is not known for keeping his promises. Thus far, the only dedication that DDT exhibits is to “wall,” and even that project has evolved during the past three years depending on its lack of popularity. Without DDT’s interference, Venezuela might find its own way from Maduro, but DDT will probably not give the country a chance to work out their own problems if his interference benefits DDT.

January 25, 2019

DDT: Week 105 – The ‘Dealmaker’ Caves

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) blinked not once but twice this week—the first time when he discovered that he cannot go to the House without its permission and the second time this morning when he reopened the government—for three weeks—without his wall money. He did deliver a threat about a “very powerful alternative” if he doesn’t get his wall money by February 15—likely meaning a “national emergency” to bypass Congress and added this probably illegal and not-so-oblique threat:

“If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15 again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

Republicans followed DDT’s today’s bidding, and both congressional chambers unanimously passed a bill—that DDT has already signed—to fund the government for three weeks while working on DHS funding. Conservatives pundits like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh scuttled the same bill to start the shutdown five weeks ago. DDT the dealmaker got nothing in return for reopening the government.

After 35 days of criticism and sinking ratings, DDT changed his May 2017 statement when he said, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.” After 18 months calling for shutdowns and driving the country downhill, DDT achieved his desired goal and didn’t like it.

DDT still isn’t off the hook. FBI Director Christopher Wray is furious—and he’s a DDT appointee. In a video, Wray told agents and other employees, “It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time.” He called the government shutdown “mind-boggling” and “short-sighted.”

For two years, terrified Republicans demonized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to convince her caucus that she shouldn’t be Speaker. The most conservative Dems, some belonging to a DDT-supporting group, accused her of being too old. Nancy, DDT’s “nickname” for the speaker, won, just as she did in passing the Affordable Care Act, now popular with a majority of people. Earlier, Pelosi quashed George W. Bush’s plan for privatizing Social Security and sent his ratings into the tank. Pelosi stays firm and holds her caucus together.

Republicans blame Mick Mulvaney, DDT’s acting chief of staff, for their shutdown troubles after he lobbied them to give DDT his $5.7 funding for “wall.” One Republican said that Mulvaney “seems to have screwed this up and put us in a box.” Another said that DDT “wants a chief of staff who isn’t in charge of anything. Mulvaney is the right man for the job.”

For the past five weeks, DDT’s approval ratings have tanked, and confidence in the economy has dropped. His supporters continually wailed about “bad optics,” and the FAA’s brief closure of flights at LaGuardia, where DDT keeps his private jet, caused ripples of delay across the nation. Ten percent of air traffic controllers called in sick, and 3,000 TSA screeners didn’t come to work last Sunday.

Roger Stone, the DDT friend who created the monster of “wall” as a campaign gimmick, became Robert Mueller’s 37th arrest in a pre-dawn raid at his Florida home and been charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction. As intermediary between DDT’s campaign and WikiLeaks’ hacking Democratic emails in he latter part of DDT’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton, his indictment tightens the connection between the Russia connection and DDT. Federal officials believe that DDT ordered his former fixer, Michael Cohen, to benefit his campaign with other secret duties.

The indictment accuses Stone of false testimony to the House, and his threats toward associates come straight out of a Godfather movie. DDT didn’t refute the charges against Stone; he just ranted and lied that the FBI had alerted CNN, which had a stakeout at Stone’s house. Stone claimed he would never testify against DDT, something that Cohen promised before he testified against DDT. The New York Times is keeping tabs on all charges and their dispositions from Mueller’s investigation.

In 2017, Foreign Policy reported that the newspaper owned by DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, published all of WikiLeaks releases and sent a freelancer in 2014 to meet with founder Julian Assange, avoiding arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The New York Observer published laudatory articles about Assange and stories refuting Russia’s involvement in DDT’s presidential election.  

The best headline about Roger Stone’s arrest comes from Charles Pierce: “FBI agents arrested Roger Stone for Free. I would have, too.” The reference is to lack of paychecks during the government shutdown, and the article is well worth reading.

DDT is rapidly sinking in the polls—as low as his 34 percent approval rating in the AP poll and down eight points from his 42 percent a month ago. [visual poll] With women, he’s up to 71 percent disapproval, from 58 percent disapproval only a month ago.

Other events of the past week:

The GOP party is so afraid that someone will run against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in the 2020 primaries that a committee has passed a resolution to do away with them because of his “effective presidency.” The resolution is headed for the full GOP governing body. South Carolina’s GOP had already considered this possibility.

To build his wall, DDT wants to use the civil forfeiture asset “slush fund,” money that law enforcement takes from people and keeps even if they are never charged with any crimes.

The DOJ changed the definitions of “domestic violence” and “sexual assault” to only physical harm constituting a felony or misdemeanor and eliminating emotional abuse to eliminate asylum seekers and reduce investigation into college sexual assault victims.

Four women who left water and food in the desert to keep migrants from dying were convicted of trespass and littering with sentences of $500 fines and six months in federal prison. With no jury, the judge ignored their defense of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act and misrepresented the area where the women left help, false accusing them of being in a place “littered with unexploded military ordnance” and an uncited federal law that they needed permits to enter the property. The last prosecution for this offense was from George W. Bush’s second term; a 2009 conviction was overturned by the 9th Circuit Court. Border Patrol agents regularly destroy food and water, and DOJ prosecutes only volunteers of No More Deaths.

In story straight out of a mob movie, DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen has postponed his testimony to the House Oversight Committee because of threats to his family. He has now been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee for mid-February.

In DDT’s “nobody is sure” defense that he used for the killing of U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia royalty, DDT said that “nobody is sure” who killed the four U.S. citizens in a suicide bombing last week. ISIS took responsibility for the killings in Syria, and the bombing was shortly after DDT bragged about pulling out all the troops with his rationale that ISIS was “defeated.”

DDT and Rudy Giuliani claim that there were no plans for DDT’s Moscow Trump Tower, but Buzzfeed has proved they are lying by releasing hundreds of business documents, emails, text messages, architectural plans, and its goal to be “the tallest building in Europe.”

Other memorable Giuliani comments from the past week:

  • Failed to say that no DDT campaigner colluded with Russia before he added, “If the collusion happened, it happened a long time ago” and finished by asserting that it “wouldn’t be a crime.”
  • Quoted DDT as saying that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow were “going on from the day I announced to the day I won.”
  • Suggested that DDT talked to Michael Cohen about his false testimony to Congress before saying that his statements were “hypothetical” and “not based on conversations I had with the President.”

The General Services Administration rented a federal property to DDT for his Washington hotel even knowing that it might violate the U.S. Constitution.

Last April, the day after T-Mobile announced its $26 billion merger with Sprint to double T-Mobile’s value, nine top staffers stayed at DDT’s hotel for up to three days and making repeated visits while they curried support from DDT for the merger. The Senate Commerce Committee is calling for another hearing on T-Mobile’s proposal.

Since DDT was inaugurated, 7 million more people are without health insurance, going to a four-year high from 10.9 percent in late 2016 to 13.7 percent.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar allowed Miracle Hill Ministries, a federally funded Protestant foster care agency in South Carolina, to deny foster children to Jewish families because of the South Carolina agency’s “strict religious requirements.” Texas AG Ken Paxton, several times indicted, is working on a federal waiver allowing discrimination against both religion and LGBTQ people.

Penalties for polluters in the last fiscal year dropped 85 percent from $500 million to $72 million, the lowest level since 1994.

The best thing from the past week was Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D-CO) response to Democrats rejecting DDT’s bill demanding his “wall” and adding punitive measures to immigration. His 30-minute speech went far more than lambasting Republicans for perpetuating the shutdown into a history of how they blocked Democrats from a $46 billion measure for border security and the intrinsic problems of the current Congress. Everyone should watch this video.

January 24, 2019

Shutdown Bills Fail; House Investigates Kushner

Day 34 of government shutdown: Both of today’s Senate bills designed to reopen the government failed when neither one met the 60 votes necessary. In a 51-47 vote, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AL) voted against their party in opposing the measure proposed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to get his $5.7 billion for 200 miles of wall, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-VA) supported DDT’s bill with the wall. The second bill from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to open the government with a continuing resolution until February 8 had one more supporting vote, 52-44, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Cory Gardner (CO), Lamar Alexander (TN), Johnny Isakson (GA) and Mitt Romney (UT) joining Democrats.

Billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that he doesn’t understand why federal employees without paychecks don’t get loans instead of using food banks. He claimed that financial institutions just give them loans against “the 30 days of pay that people will be out.” Ross added that even if these 800,000 people never got their pay, they’re “about a third of a percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”

DDT, another billionaire, had a peculiar reaction to Ross. He thought that Ross was accurate in his assertion that federal employees, either furloughed or working without pay, don’t need to get emergency help from homeless shelters and food pantries because—drum roll!—grocery stores will give these paycheck-less people food without paying for it. He said:

“Local people know who they are. Where they go for groceries and everything else. If you have mortgages, mortgagees, the folks collecting the interest and all of those things, they work along. That’s what happens in times like these. They know the people. They’ve been dealing with them for years, and they work along.”

Two months ago, DDT was telling people that they needed IDs to buy a box of cereal.

Republicans are getting so desperate that they are yelling at VP Mike Pence. In a private meeting two days ago, several senators harangued Pence, who said that the White House was working on a strategy to reopen the government and that they should not vote for the Democrat-offered bill that got six GOP votes today.  Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said they gave Pence an “earful” because “we’re all hearing from our constituents who are working for no pay.” Other members criticizing Pence included GOP Sens. Mitch McConnell (KY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), John Boozman (AR), Johnny Isakson (GA), and Jerry Moran (KS). Two of them voted for the Democratic-supported bill.

Fly at your own risk during the shutdown is the message from representatives of air traffic controllers, pilots, and flight attendants. Making things worse, they report that the FAA “has frozen hiring and shuttered its training academy, so there is no plan in effect to fill the FAA’s critical staffing need.” Certification requires two to four years, and the U.S. has the fewest number of air traffic controllers in 30 years.

According to CEOs, DDT is hurting business with the shutdown and low immigration with lack of investment in research and development, education, and entrepreneurship. The National Science Foundation has not issued any grants for over a month, and government researchers in agencies such as NOAA, the EPA, and the U.S. Geological Survey don’t get paychecks. Hundreds of postdoctoral fellows don’t get their stipends. Loss of immigration is destroying U.S. innovation.

In a “what if” piece, Rachel Maddow suggests a “Worst Case Scenario” in which Russia’s Vladimir Putin is behind the government shutdown. At one time, this idea would be too far-fetched, but Robert Mueller’s investigation has found hundreds of links with DDT’s campaign; ties with Russia and national security adviser John Bolton, Maria Butina, the NRA; threats against Michael Cohen’s family to keep him from testifying; and Oleg Deripaska’s Belarusian escort, who claimed to have information about DDT, was returned to Russia and may be in early states of poisoning. Putin wanted interference in the presidential election to cause chaos within the United States.

Now federal agency employees who were called back to work without pay—TSA agents, meat inspectors, prison guards, IRS workers, etc.—are starting to walk off their jobs, adding to the impact of jobs not being done by furloughed employees. Imagine if people can no longer trust safety in flying, food, and water and from crime while not receiving their tax refunds in addition to millions losing income from the missing paychecks for 800,000 federal employees. DDT is behind the shutdown and shows little urgency in reopening the government. He is also the focus of the biggest criminal and counter-intelligence investigation of any sitting U.S. president.

DailyKos has ideas for what a U.S. leader following Putin’s strategy could do to weaken the United States:

  • Relax sanctions on Putin and his oligarchs to give them more money.
  • Antagonize U.S. allies.
  • Polarize the U.S. with ugly divisive rhetoric.
  • Attack U.S. institutions, especially the judiciary, and replace the leadership with his cronies.
  • Pull the U.S. out of multinational trade and security alliances.
  • Excessively praise Putin.
  • Implement irrational economic trade sanctions to weaken U.S. economy.
  • Use excessive measures to conceal communications with Putin.
  • Consistently repeat Putin’s propaganda talking points.
  • Shut down the U.S. government for a ridiculous rationale and continue to cripple the U.S. with huge political, security, social, and financial damage.

Two years ago, this scenario would have seemed impossible. Now some might like to think it’s improbable, but every DDT action makes the proposition appear more likely.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), new chair of the Judiciary Committee, has an answer for the crisis facing many people in the U.S. during the shutdown: investigate Hillary Clinton’s email server, specifically the FBI’s handling of the situation and the FISA warrant application targeting DDT’s campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI investigated Page after the possibility that he conspired with Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. Graham believes that the FBI was “in the tank” for her campaign and accused them of a double standard in the agency’s handling of the two presidential campaigns. In actuality, he’s right: the FBI helped swing the election to DDT by publicizing non-existent problems with Clinton and hiding real investigations into DDT.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) laughed at Graham’s plans and compared them to the ”thrilling days of yesteryear.” Durham said:

“This is going to be like the History Channel, it turns out. Instead of taking a look at the current issues, Lindsey Graham wants to go back and answer important questions about the Bermuda Triangle and Hillary Clinton.”

Durbin added that Graham may want to investigate Jimmy Carter next. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a judiciary committee member, joked that Graham might want to “investigate Benghazi some more.”

The House Oversight Committee plans an investigation into “grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump Administration” with the focus on White House handling of classified information, including DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Over 130 political appointees in DDT’s office lack permanent security clearances as of 2017, include Kushner and DDT’s daughter Ivanka.

The House committee has even more grist for its mill since the revelation that Kushner’s application for a top secret clearance was rejected by two career White House security specialists because of FBI concerns about possible foreign influence on him. Overruling this decision from an investigation, the specialists’ supervisor, Carl Kline, approved the clearance. In unprecedented behavior, Kline, a DDT appointee, repeated this overruling 30 times despite unfavorable information on each of the applicants. Sources indicated that “the Trump White House attracted many people with untraditional backgrounds who had complicated financial and personal histories, some of which raised red flags.”

Kushner, who had to redo and correct his application clearance 40 times, received questions about foreign contacts, travel, and meetings as well as his family’s business. After Kline gave Kushner secret and top secret clearances, Kushner went to the CIA seeking a higher that allows him to access “sensitive compartmented information” that includes transcripts of intercepted foreign communications and CIA source reporting. Kline even stopped credit checks on security clearance applicants.

The CIA reviewed Kushner’s materials and questioned even the “top secret” clearance giving Kushner access to material that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to adversaries. Officials are questioning whether the White House overruled the CIA refusal for the SCI clearance. A year ago, WaPo reported that officials in at least four countries—United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico—talked about how they could manipulate Kushner though his lack of policy experience, financial difficulties, and business arrangements.

The House needs to work fast!

January 23, 2019

Shutdown Continues Deprivation, Covington Gains Prominence

Day 33 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be feeling the consequences of his government shutdown. After he wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he would give his State of the Union speech in the House in six days, she told him that he could give the annual speech at the Capitol after the government was reopened. She had invited him on January 3 with “no thought that the government would still be shut down.” DDT cannot give his speech in the House without a concurrent revolution for a joint session of Congress and an invitation from the House. DDT referred to the Democrats as being “radicalized,” a term that then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) endorsed using as a pejorative term about Democrats in the early 1990s. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who supports the government shutdown, said that elected people should “put America’s public first.”

Pelosi accused DDT of “holding the health, safety and paychecks of the American people hostage” and said that Democrats fear he may do so again in future if they agree to his demands. Someone explained to DDT that he couldn’t go to the House with congressional approval, he launched into his usual tantrums, blaming Pelosi for trying to keep “the truth” from the public and controlling Schumer. DDT also was shocked that Pelosi would take this action for the first time in U.S. history. He skipped over the part that trying to give during the speech during a president-caused government shutdown is unprecedented (unpresidented?).

Deciding that he has lost the argument, DDT insulted Pelosi and said that he would wait until after the government reopens to give that “great” speech.

Lara Trump, wife of DDT’s son Eric Trump, calls the loss of paychecks for 800,000 people “a little bit of pain … for the future of our country.” An example of the “little bit of pain” caused by the shutdown is the requirement by Newton (AL) requiring  43 subsidized tenants to pay full rent until “the government opens up.” One 48-year-old woman living on disability with her daughter and granddaughter will immediately see her rent increase from $110 per month to $505. For Lara Trump, that wouldn’t be even a “little bit of pain”; for this family, the almost 400-percent increase is devastating. Rural people who voted for DDT are discovering the “pain” that he can cause them.

Poll since DDT started the government shutdown doesn’t look good for him:

  • 71 percent think that the border wall, which they say is having a negative impact on the country, is not worth a government shutdown.
  • 66 percent want DDT to agree to budget without wall funding.
  • 60 percent think that the shutdown is causing serious problems for the United States.
  • 20 percent report being personally impacted by the shutdown’s cutback in services and programs.

Because of the shutdown, some jail inmates cannot have visitors—not only family but also attorneys—even if they have not been convicted of any crimes. Medical care is also being denied to people in jail because of no availability. The Kentucky union of prison officials have started a billboard campaign to open the government. And they are targeting McConnell as responsible for the shutdown. Today, the House passed the tenth bill to open the government, and McConnell rejected all ten. He is up for re-election next year.

FBI agents have been forced to put investigations on hold because of the shutdown. An undercover agent investigating child exploitation said that he’s “had to put pervs on standby.” Investigation into MS-13 gang members had been slowed because Spanish speakers are on furlough. Another agent working counter-intelligence cases said that they can “only conduct administrative functions.” Indictments are postponed, and grand jury subpoenas put on hold.

DDT’s shutdown caused the cancellation of the 16th annual International Export Control and Border Security Conference, scheduled for 270 security experts from 85 countries to discuss border-related issues such as weapons policy, licensing, and enforcement, including nuclear-arms proliferation. The State Department described the move as a postponement but did not offer a date when the conference would be rescheduled.

Tomorrow, the Senate plans to offer Democrats a deal to stop holding DACA recipients hostage for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion to begin DDT’s wall. Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear the court cases that had stopped DDT’s executive order against the DACA program. That decision makes DDT’s bargaining chip moot for at least ten months.

Arizona Republicans have a way to pay for DDT’s wall: State Rep. Gail Griffin introduced a bill forcing each resident to pay $20 to get porn sites on new computers and smartphones unlocked. Forget the fact that the idea is unconstitutional; the necessary funds for DDT’s current wall would still be short $5,559,680,000 . And imagine the logistics of requiring manufacturers to comply. The idea came from Chris Sevier, a self-described porn addict.

During the government shutdown, the annual March for Life brought about 200,000 people to Washington, D.C., including a large contingent from Covington Catholic High School, a prep school for privileged—mostly white—teenagers in Kentucky, represented by Mitch McConnell who refuses to allow senators to vote on House bills to reopen the government. Most people in the United States were unfamiliar with the school until Nick Sandmann and a group of 50 to 70 students  came from the March for Life to jeer at Nathan Phillips, an older Native American and Vietnam veteran, and a group trying to raise awareness of Indigenous people. When Nick was faced with bad press regarding his behavior, his mother hired a PR agency to organize a campaign that would back the press off from criticism of her son.

Families of Covington students hired the attorney Robert Barnes who appeared on Fox & Friends where he threatened legal action against anyone making false or defamatory statements about the teenagers. He also gave journalists and celebrities 48 hours to apologize and delete their tweets. Videos of the event showed the teens screaming, harassing women, making rape jokes, and taking off their clothes. Barnes may also have to deal with past photos of Covington students in blackface during a basketball game against a rival team with black players. Covington students described blackface as “school spirit.”

This morning, Nick appeared, without his MAGA hat, on NBC Today show where he claimed that he couldn’t remember anyone yelling “build the wall” and “go back to the reservation,” that the chants that he and his fellow students shouted were “positive” displays of “school spirit.” According to Nick, the students, mostly wearing their MAGA hats, were reacting in fear to the “African-Americans” who shouted insults at them. Five Black Hebrew Israelites were seen on video calmly standing, and a sixth videoed them and the crowd while the Covington students was jumping, moving around, and shouting. Phillips led his group between the small group of blacks and the large group of Covington students, who then blocked him from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Racism is “not tolerated” at his “Catholic school,” Nick said. Rev. Marshall Jolly disagrees with Nick’s assessment, as shown in his tweets about his experience with Covington. Nick said on Today that he saw no reason to apologize for what he called “listening to [Phillips] and standing there” and that he had every right to be there.

DDT’s response to Nick’s behavior:

“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”

A week earlier, DDT joked about the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry when he ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with his customary insulting term of “Pocahontas.”

The dialog on both right and left sides in the past five days has demonstrated one thing: Nick learned from his school, his parents, and other adults that he has the right to stand wherever he wants, even if he is blocking an elder and the resources to hire anyone to threaten people who disagree with him. He feels no obligation to apologize to someone who he has upset, even if it was inadvertent. Males like Nick have a great future: Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice.

January 22, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Wall–‘Have We No Shame?’

Day 32 of government shutdown: Last Saturday, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) offered to sell Democrats a small part of what he took last year in exchange for $5.6 billion to build wall and reopen the country. In a TV speech, he offered DACA recipients a bit of relief for three years—unless he changed his mind—before they again lose their rights. People outraged with DDT’s weak offer may be angrier with other parts of DDT’s bill:

Remove eligibility for asylum from Central American minors. All these asylum seekers, who must have a parent or guardian in the U.S., would have to stay in their home countries and go through State Department processing centers there. DDT’s bill restricts the number of qualifying children to 15,000.

Eliminate all African countries and predominantly Muslim countries such as Syria and Yemen from the ten countries offered temporary protected status because of violence of damage by natural disasters. This change leaves only El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and Nicaragua out of the list of ten.

Restrict temporary protections to immigrants already legally in the U.S. Almost people in this category would lose their eligibility.

Create stricter penalties for Dreamers wanting a status change. The crime of making “any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements” would also allow prosecution for minor errors, even ones that the applicants unwittingly made.

Extend temporary DACA protections for those currently covered and who renew their applications. No new applications will be accepted, renewal application fees would be doubled, and income requirements would be added.

Add penalties for wrong information in applications to asylum applicants and limit applicants’ abilities to defend themselves. Applicants with fraudulent documents because of corruption in their home countries would suffer from these penalties.

Require that asylum applications be “consistent with the national interest.”

Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers have missed their second paycheck. Many are on the same infamous “breadlines” common during the Great Depression. One of these soup kitchens are free meals (below) provided by chef José Andrés and his nonprofit group that served millions of free meals to needy people after natural disasters such as Hurricane Maria and the California wildfires. Conservatives are fond of saying that people need this kind of charity because they aren’t willing to work. These people—almost half of them still on the job—have employment, but conservatives deny them their paychecks. 

On her Facebook page, Sue Hardesty has published this piece on DDT’s wall:

I have to take one deviation from my fun writings on Yaquina Bay and surrounding areas to do a bit of a rant. To be honest, it’s really a big rant, so those of you who are fed up with hearing about Trump’s wall, delete me. I swore to myself I would stay out of politics on Facebook, and I do know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind. I just need to say it.

I grew up and spent most of my adult years close enough to the Arizona/Mexico border. I have crossed it in many places many times and have observed the damage the present walls have done in polluted lands, decreased water equality, loss of business in small towns on both sides of the border. When the border wall of the town of Boquillas del Carmen (Texas) was closed in 2001, the town was economically devastated and abandoned. Millions of dollars in border trade has been lost which will only get worse. The environment of more than one hundred species of wild animals will continue to be catastrophically damaged, and animals along 650 miles of the Rio Grande will be blocked from life-sustaining water.

Winston Churchill once said he believed in democracy until he spent five minutes talking to a voter. I have often been ignorant about politics having little energy left over after a long workday to think on our national crises. I figured that was what the guy I did vote for was supposed to do. And I don’t have a problem with that either unless those in power are as ignorant as the average voter and intend to stay that way. Seems to me anyone thinking about completing the wall on our Mexico/U.S. border would at least check out the historical successes or failures of walls, especially when millions of lives and billions of dollars are at stake. How long would that take?

So I decided to find out. Starting with the Great Wall of China I learned it was over 5,000 miles long and was built to stop inner Asia nomads from entering China. It did not. Then there was Hadrian’s Wall built across northern England to stop barbarians. It did not. Oh, and let’s not forget our modern-day Berlin Wall, built originally to stop invaders from the west but ended up attempting to stop deflectors from the East. It did not. The presently successful Israel/Egypt wall is Trump’s model. This “apartheid wall” or “anti-terrorist wall,” depending whose side you’re on, is 152 miles long and costs Israel $260 million per year for maintenance. Walls, like fences, help us feel safe. But that’s about all they do.

Trump himself once said, “Is there a brick wall getting in your way? Fine. That happens. But you have a choice. You can walk away from the wall. You can go over the wall. You can go under the wall. You can go around the wall. You can also obliterate the wall. In other words, don’t let anything get in your way.” As Jane Loeffler, architectural historian who studied fortifications of U.S. embassies, said, “A wall is so primitive. You can dig under it, go over it, catapult yourself over it. A wall is more symbolic than a real defense. A wall is fear in three dimensions.” In truth, what really happens? The first and last lines in Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” reads “Good fences make good neighbors,” ironically depict how walls separate people and describes his wall-building neighbor as unthinking, “like an old-stone savage armed.”

As to the illogical argument we are overcrowded now, 39.8% of the land in the U.S. is privately owned with 1.14 million miles in farmland, mostly unpopulated as is most of the 60% publicly owned land. The U.S. is a very big place. If you think we don’t have jobs for all these undocumented, that is also not true. During the 1990’s the U.S. Congress provided the H-2A work visa to stop criminals from entering the U.S. and prevent farmers from hiring immigrants if a U.S. resident could do the work. The loss of so many workers with the passing of this act was devastating to many businesses in most of the states.

Some states such as Georgia passed even more highly restrictive laws against immigrants. As a result, an estimated 40 percent of Georgia state’s agricultural workforce disappeared, and $140 million worth of crops were lost. It was a lesson no one learned. Desperate for workers, Alabama founder/CEO of Grow Alabama, Jerry Spencer, decided to train local white workers in a month-long experiment. At the end, all but three workers were gone. I understand why it failed. As a kid, I decided to earn money by chopping weeds in my brothers’ cotton fields. I lasted four hours: I had no idea how much bending, kneeling, chopping, pulling, and bleeding it took. I was lucky I could get an education and move on.*

But the most tragic result of wall building is that when we began hunting each other we turn the hunter and hunted alike into animals as violent as any criminal. We teach each other there are undesirables among us, resulting in refuge seekers and innocent indigenous people getting beat up and left lying in the hot sun in their own blood and vomit, wives and daughters raped, and homes savaged.

The opportunity to openly hunt with little repercussion along the 1954-mile border has already attracted self-appointed groups like the American Border Patrol who call themselves a watch group, the Civil Homeland Defense, Tea Baggers, white supremacist vigilantes, Minute Men, National Socialists, and Ranch Rescue. And my favorite, Joe Arpaio copycat Walking Tallers. In the middle of this crazy mix are the cartel, Coyotes, drug traffickers, undocumented workers, and on the Mexican side, the Federales. On the American side we have our own Border Patrol with its Forward Operating Camps.

When we do run down the undocumented, we throw them into cages, separating parents from their children, and don’t even pretend to care what happens to them. The old adage, “violence never resolves who’s right. Only who’s left,” has never been more frightening. I cannot help but ask what happened to our humanity. Have we no shame?

Sources:

https://talkpoverty.org/2019/01/03/already-border-wall-environmental-disaster/

https://www.newsweek.com/what-history-tells-us-about-building-wall-solve-problem-381875

https://www.summitpost.org/public-and-private-land-percentages-by-us-states/186111

https://www.Wikipedia

https://www.america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/3/12/visual-activism

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/27/world/middleeast/

*The situation was worse in Georgia and Alabama than Hardesty described. After an anti-immigrant law caused 11,000 Latino farm workers to leave, farmers tried to hire others looking for jobs. In Georgia, the new non-immigrant “workers” picking cucumbers had one-sixth of the output that migrant workers did because of less effort, longer breaks, and quitting early. Throughout the states with these punitive laws, farmers retired or switched from growing food to planting trees. When Alabama potato farmer Keith Smith lost his immigrant workers, most of the new employees not only displayed the same problems as listed in Georgia but also showed up late with some quitting after less than a day. These problems existed in 2011 with a higher unemployment rate. In 2019, far fewer workers are willing to endure the backbreaking work.

January 20, 2019

The U.S. Has a Concierge Government

Day 30 of government shutdown: People said that they voted for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) because he could run the government like a business. After shutting down the government a month ago, he demonstrates how he frequently ran his own businesses—by putting more people to work without pay. In the past, DDT has refused to pay hundreds of contractors for their work; some of these cases re still in court. Many times, he also illegally refused to pay overtime or minimum wages. DDT also brags about his cheating his workers. The result was at least six bankruptcies.

Trying to not alienate his base and draw less attention to the problems of a shutdown government, DDT has ordered people back to work, loosely categorizing them as “essential” without rationale, but still not paying them for their work. Private businesses are especially benefitting from his largess, as he runs a concierge government for only the favored. These are not the employees deemed “essential” because of the public safety or health concerns of their jobs. DDT is operating on the theory that if only the federal employees are suffering that he can continue the shutdown indefinitely without protest.

Concierge advantages performed by employees ordered back without pay from “furlough”:

Finalize land deals for oil and gas drilling to maintain profit opportunities for wealthy conservative businessmen.

Process existing farm loans and give 1009 tax documents to farmers/ranchers.

Submit tax refunds.

Inspect food and drugs.

Issue flood insurance certificates to allow banks to continue collecting revenue by providing mortgages to prospective homeowners. (The action is illegal because the law prevents government agencies from participating in contracts or spending money without funded projects.)

Ensure safety of airplanes and national airspace.

The diplomats ordered back will be paid from when they return but will not receive back pay until the end of the shutdown. Judges will continue to be paid through the end of this week, but some judiciary employees would be furloughed.

Reasons to take notice of the concierge government:

IRS is seizing property without recourse because the IRS has no one to respond to the seizures or resolve the government mistakes. This travesty causes the greatest pain to small businesses.

Airline safety is “eroding,” and TSA workers are on the verge of quitting if they don’t receive paychecks.

Native Americans are losing basic services in obtaining food and health care.

Women cannot find respite from domestic violence.

Unwelcome visitors to parks are permanently defacing parts and national monuments.

People are dying without health services that cannot be resolved by a government that is shutdown.

Low-wage contract workers performing janitorial, security, and food services at public buildings will not be getting back pay while they are “furloughed.”

Many people—including DDT—associate federal employees with Washington, D.C., but of the over 2 million civilian workers, only 350,000 are in the larger D.C. area. Forty percent of the 2 million, 800,000, are scattered across the United States. The largest number of federal employees affected by the lack of paychecks per resident are in the mostly red states of Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Unpaid federal workers owe $438 million in mortgage and rent for just this month, and over 110,000 unpaid employees earn under $50,000 a year. Only 40 percent can afford to pay for a $1,000 unexpected expense.

No money is going to the Indian Health Service with its 730 doctors, 2,300 nurses, 750 pharmacists, and 40+ hospitals in 37 states, many of the personnel and facilities in remote areas with no alternative providers. Federal contractors are losing $200 million each day from lost or delayed revenue, $25 million alone to Delta Airlines for lost government flights. Standard and Poor estimates that the U.S. economy will lose $7.1 billion in one more week of the shutdown. That’s almost 20 percent more than DDT’s $5.6 billion wall.

Corrupt administrative officials can take advantage of the shutdown to continue their fraudulent practices:

The Inspectors General who audit financials and investigate waste, fraud, and abuse are largely gone from the many federal agencies. During six months last year in ten of the shutdown agencies, OIGs secured 620 indictments, 507 convictions, and $411 million in criminal restitution, fines, civil recoveries, and forfeited assets. Every day means less recovered money and more wrongdoing.

The rights of whistleblowers aren’t protected because offices assigned to doing this are shut down.

Any transparency and accountability are disappearing with websites going offline. When (if?) hey reopen, the information will be out of date, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission that posts recall.

People cannot make requests per the Freedom of Information Act.

Work on the American Community Survey, which goes out to 3.5 million Americans each year and determines government, has stopped during the lapse.

Monthly economic indicators on everything from trade, construction and retail business have stopped, preventing planning and knowledge about the state of the country.

Announcement of comment periods for changes in regulations have disappeared although the comment time may not be delayed, leaving the public with even less involvement than before to give their opinions.

Over 80 government websites are “insecure or inaccessible” because of expiring security certificates, including that for the Department of Commerce.

Every agency was required to have a shutdown plan that was approved by the OMB listing essential and furloughed employees, but half the 130 agencies failed to carry through submitting these contingency plans. In the middle of the flu season, almost 80 percent of the employees at the National Institutes of Health were furloughed as were two-thirds of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers.

The problems of the shutdown won’t end when it’s over:

Disaster Preparedness and Response: FEMA ordered its contractors to stop working on projects five days after the shutdown started. States suffering disasters in the last two years will be left waiting for help to recover. Lack of knowledge from the shutdown impedes the government’s ability to foresee, prevent, and respond to upcoming natural disasters—worsening from climate change. For example, NOAA’s hurricane modelers are furloughed. Forests are not being managed, leading to greater wildfires. First responders and emergency experts cannot take this time to prepare for the next disaster season. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act was not renewed, meaning no funding for the development of emergency and new medicine for future outbreaks.

Losing Dedicated Public Servants in Public Health: Much of the staff may no longer work for the government after their treatment during a lengthy shutdown, and the government may be unable to replace them. Even worse, federal salaries will be cut for 2019.

In one example of economic loss, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) loses $400,000 in fares and parking revenue for every weekday—about $20 million thus far. In addition, the government shutdown stiffed WMATA $33 million in unreimbursed expenses. Transit companies are just one small part of businesses negatively impacted by the loss of $1 billion missing from the economy each week with unpaid federal employees. Hotels, restaurants, renters, and small businesses are losing billions of dollars, while charities to give unpaid federal works, including food pantries, are being stretched beyond their capabilities. Travel and tourism, responsible for $1.6 trillion annually, are losing income. Employers will eventually be further stressed through unemployment claims.

DDT is breaking the law in his effort to keep himself from political pain by running a concierge government. According to the U.S. Constitution, government can spend only money appropriated by Congress. Activities during a shutdown are limited to protect life or property, carry out the president’s core constitutional responsibilities, and operate programs permitted by Congress in the absence of funding.

Leaving the parks open with skeleton staffing results in safety risks so the Interior Department decided to provide some park services from fees. But no one is charging fees during the shutdown, and the fees already collected were designated for long-term maintenance. DDT is using the same short-term solutions for long-term consequences outside the law.

Congress has declared that Social Security payments must be made during a shutdown in its requirement that these are on a regular basis, but it has no requirement for paying IR refunds. Therefore, DDT’s order that IRS refunds be sent out during the shutdown is illegal. Most of DDT’s other actions to please his constituents despite the shutdown are equally illegal. The danger of allowing DDT to break the law with impunity will see that his politicized approach toward government will only increase as he permits only those programs that align with powerful interests or gain positive media coverage. DDT’s real purpose of a concierge government is to prolong the shutdown.

January 19, 2019

Women March, DDT Bombs

Filed under: Women's issues — trp2011 @ 10:47 PM

On the two-year anniversary of the inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump, approximately 200,000 people attended the 45th anti-abortion “March for Life” in Washington, D.C. VP Mike Pence spoke, telling the audience to “stand with that love and compassion.” Both he and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) emphasized the importance and equality of “every life,” meaning only fetuses and newborns, probably white.

The 2018 National Clinic Violence Survey provided statistics showing that the dangerously high levels of violence and threats against women’s clinics, doctors, and staff from the anti-abortion activists demonstrating “love and compassion”:

23.8% of clinics experienced the most severe types of threats and violence in the first half of 2018, including death threats, stalking, and blocking clinic access.

45% of clinics experienced at least one incident of severe violence, threats of severe violence, and/or severe harassment, such as break-ins, robberies, or vandalism, in the first half of 2018.

88% of clinics  reported experiencing some type of anti-abortion activity in the first half of 2018, with 62% of providers experiencing activity at least once a week

Clinics that rated their experience with law enforcement as “poor” or “fair” were twice as likely to experience high levels of severe violence or harassment (28%) than those that rated local law enforcement “good” or “excellent” (15.1%).

These are the only businesses in the United States that suffer these levels of threats and violence.

Reproductive rights are not the only area in which women lack equality within the United States. The recently-published annual Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum finds 51 countries in the world are better places for women to live than in the United States. That’s six countries down from two years earlier in the measure of 144 countries. The report evaluates four categories of gender equality:

Economic Participation and Opportunity: labor force, wage equality, earned income, administration (U.S. – #19)

Educational Attainment: literacy, enrollment, graduation level (U.S. – #46)

Health and Survival: sex ratio at birth, healthy life expectancy (U.S. – #71)

Political Empowerment: seats elected, appointed, years with female head of government (U.S. – #98)

According to the trend, women will gain equality to men in 165 years—2183.

Today is the third Women’s March. The first one brought out 4 million people in hundreds of places around the world. The protest goes far beyond just “women’s issues”: it includes rights for racial justice, LGBTQ people, immigrants, workers, voting, and the disabled as well as issues such as economic justice, liberties, and protection of environment and climate. Specific priorities include universal healthcare, the Equal Rights Amendment, end of war, student debt, and de-militarization of the U.S. borders.

Increasing the number of women in leadership could move the country toward these rights. Right now, the U.S. Congress is about 20 percent female—most of them Democrats—while the nation has a majority of women in the general population. These are benefits from women leadership:

Problem solving improves with more women because it benefits from diversity of gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

Workers have more trust in female leaders, according to a Pew survey. In 2015, 34 percent said women are more honest and ethical whereas only 3 percent is better in this area.

Women leaders are more collaborative, better at making deals as shown in the Senate. Quorumanalysis found that the average female senator co-sponsored 6.29 bills with another Senate woman, while the average male senator co-sponsored 4.07 bills with another Senate man” and that “the average female senator co-sponsored 171.08 bills with a member of the opposite party; for the average male senator, that figure was 129.87.”

Women make good mentors, according 30 percent in the Pew survey. Only 5 percent thought that men were better mentors.

Millennial women are more educated than men, and education is important in challenging the status quo, introducing new business approaches, and implementing innovative techniques.

In her speech at one of today’s rallies, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (R-NY) said:

“Justice is not a concept we read about in a book. Justice is about the water we drink, justice is about the air we breathe, justice is about how easy it is to vote, justice is about how much ladies get paid.

“Justice is about making sure that being polite is not the same thing as being quiet.

“In fact, often times the most righteous thing you can do is shake the table.”

Ocasio-Cortez echoed a statement from Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich that “well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Reports show that this year’s marches were smaller than the millions of the past, perhaps from bad weather, less interest, or the fracturing of he organization from accusations of anti-Semitism for the leaders. Yet hundreds of thousands of people in over 300 cities showed up in freezing rain across the United States. For the past two years, the marchers have been active—attending town halls, protecting the Affordable Care Act, supporting teachers on strike, campaigning for progressive candidates, electing women, and protesting to save the dying planet.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/03/these-are-the-women-making-history-as-the-116th-congress-is-sworn-in.html   In the midterm elections, the first since the inauguration of the annual Women’s March, 102 women won their races for the U.S. House, shattering the previous record of 84. Eighty-nine of these winning women, Democrats, represented ethnic and religious diversity. Women will chair six influential House committees. Over 20 of the 36 newly-elected women—all of whom replaced male incumbents—are first-time political candidates. One-fourth of the Senate is female, 17 Democrats and 8 Republicans. In Congress, 28 are mothers of younger children, causing the installation of infant changing facilities in the members’ restrooms.

Yesterday, a group of indigenous people protesting at the Lincoln Memorial were interrupted by 50 to 70 DDT-supporting who chanted “build the wall.” One of them, a white teenager wearing a MAGA hat, harassed an indigenous elder, Nathan Phillips, who served in Vietnam and participated in surrounding and jeering at the protesters. The young man came from Covington Catholic High School (Park Hills, KY), an all male schools of 560 students with a their mission to “embrace the gospel message of Jesus Christ in order to educate young men spiritually, academically, physically, and socially.” Singing the American Indian Movement song that serves as a ceremony to send the spirits home, Phillips, 64, said that he continued his drumming and singing by thinking about his wife, Shoshana, who died of bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the threats that face indigenous communities. Covington students each paid $130 for the field trip to the March for Life before they moved on to abuse the indigenous protesters, and the students’ parents and chaperones did nothing to intervene in the students’ behavior. This past week, DDT mocked horrifying massacres of Native Americans.

Today, DDT preempted television programming for another speech purporting to be a plan to reopen the government. He negotiated with McConnell and son-in-law Jared Kushner—no Democrats involved—to rehash earlier proposals from the year before offering three years of safety to DACA recipients in exchange for $5.7 billion to build his “barrier.” DDT’s offer is useless because DACA recipients remain in limbo. Fact checking on his lies here. DDT had hoped that the Supreme Court would hear his appeal on DACA to rule on his executive order to dump DACA, but the high court would not hear the case, leaving injunctions against DDT’s rejection of DACA for another year.Hard-core conservatives who goaded DDT into the shutdown were not happy with DDT’s solution. Pundit Ann Coulter tweeted that the proposal was “amnesty.” She wrote, “We voted for Trump and got Jeb!”

Day 29 of the government shutdown: Just before the Women’s March for justice and reproductive rights, House Speaker Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignored the House bills on the grounds that it would waste the Senate’s time “on show votes.” Last Thursday, McConnell failed to get the 60 necessary votes for his first anti-abortion bill of the 116th Congress, something he knew would happen. Opponents to women’s reproductive rights did show up to Washington—some of them to harass a Native American veteran and elder. McConnell plans to put another useless bill onto the floor of the Senate–this one DDT’s proposal that the Democratic House has declared DOA.

DDT is still stuck in his corner, and the economy is tanking from the government shutdown.

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