Nel's New Day

February 16, 2019

DDT: Week 108 – On Top of ‘Wall’

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:20 PM
Tags: , , ,

Throughout all the kerfuffle about passing the budget and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) declaring a national emergency to build his wall, the confirmation of Bill Barr for DOJ AG mostly slipped under the media radar. Although the vote was postponed a week, the GOP determination to scuttle the Russia investigation made the decision a given. Along with 51 Republicans, three Dems voted in favor of Barr: Doug Jones (AL), Joe Janchin (WV), and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

Barr has consistently refused to guarantee that he will release Mueller’s report to the public and/or Congress without redactions and that he will not recuse himself from the investigation’s oversight on recommendation from the DOJ ethics counsel. He wrote a memo opposing the investigation and stating that the president is above the law. After the confirmation, Matt Schlapp, whose wife works in the White House, cheerfully tweeted, “Mueller will be gone soon.” Barr has been clear that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy AG who appointed special investigator Robert Mueller “will be gone soon.” In 1992, Barr’s support of six pardons, including Reagan’s Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for lying to Congress, helped George H.W. Bush escape his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, thereby ending the investigation into U.S. support of terrorists in Nicaragua and sale of arms to Iran.

Those of us who thought that Barr’s taking over the DOJ gets rid of acting AG Matt Whitaker are destined to be disappointed: he’s now a senior counselor. Maybe he’ll help people with patents to make toilets for men with 14-inch penises as he did in the past. (Information about 5 minutes, 50 seconds into the video.)

DDT is still battling to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. A federal district judge in Manhattan ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), that Ross’ decision was arbitrary and made in spite of evidence that the question would unconstitutionally depress census response rates. The judge considered only the 1,320 pages filed by the Commerce Department but noted that other evidence illustrates that Ross acted in bad faith. California and Maryland have other cases, independent from this one, and Ross is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee on March 14. The Supreme Court has agreed to consider citizenship question case, which has not appeared on decennial census forms for 70 years.

The search for the “leaker” of DDT’s schedule showing wide swaths of “Executive Time” seems to have lost traction while another four days of schedules were leaked with DDT spending 50 percent of his time television watching, idle phone calling, etc. DDT said that he’s “generally working, not relaxing” during this time, that he works “more hours than any past president” because the country was “a mess” when he moved into the White House. Later he said that “no president ever worked harder than me.” DDT’s new toy for his “Executive Time,” a room-sized golf simulator costing $50,000, lets him play 18 virtual holes while staying inside, useful during the shutdown while he bragged about staying off golf courses for 69 days.

If you want to destroy an institution, appoint a person who hates it. That’s what DDT did when he picked David Malpass to lead the World Bank after Jim Yong Kim abruptly quit in January. Chief economist for Bear Stearns when it collapsed from the subprime crisis in 2007 and 2008, Malpass wrote a few months before the recession that “neither the economy nor job growth has been dependent on housing.” He criticizes the World Bank because it creates “mountains of debt without solving problems.” Fortunately, the World Bank members, not the U.S., select the head of the organization.

Another way to destroy an agency is to for no one to serve on it. When the head of the Merit Systems Protection Board, which holds hearings for federal employee appeals of firings, demotions, suspensions, and alleged misconduct, leaves this month, the Board will have no members. Although courts can adjudicate cases, the Board can’t decide appeals. Last year, Congress passed a special statute allowing one person to grant relief in whistleblowing cases, but even that person will be gone. One suggestion is for the staff to make decisions without a board.

For the director of NOAA, DDT has re-appointed Barry Myers, the nonscientist who owned the for-profit AccuWeather, after the Senate didn’t confirm him last year. AccuWeather just paid $290,000 to partly settle charges of sexual harassment and hostile work environment for women. NOAA oversees the National Weather Service, which compiles data used by AccuWeather that previously limited what the Weather Service could make public so that they could make more money for the company to provide that information. In 2005, Myers donated to then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) who introduced legislation to curtain government competition with private weather services. Myers also lobbied to privatize the National Weather Service.

DDT nominated lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to replace the corrupt Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, and Wheeler Energy, run by Bob Murray, cancelled its contract with Wheeler’s former lobbying firm. Murray may think he no longer needs a lobbyist; DDT pressured a public energy to keep its Kentucky power plant, Paradise #3, open although it is considered too expensive to operate. The plant gets its coal from Murray, a generous donor to Republicans. The TVA board, with four of seven members appointed by DDT, voted to close Paradise #3 with a 6-1 vote. At the same time, Wheeler is not necessarily a shoe-in for EPA director. Five GOP senators questioned Wheeler’s willingness to bend to oil industry interests over the Renewable Fuel Standard and waivers for small refineries. Wheeler can afford to lose only three of those senators.

The Fox reality show White House has added Lea Gabrielle to head the Global Engagement Center which fights foreign efforts to meddle in U.S. elections while exposing and countering disinformation from Russia and other governments. With no experience in information warfare, she fits with DDT’s other appointments and is perfectly poised to protect Russia. She may be going it alone because DHS has gutted two teams that were preparing to block Russia from its planned onslaught on the 2020 elections.

FEMA director Brock Long has quit with a “more time with his family” excuse, but bitter feuds with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may have been the reason. Nielsen may be grateful to see him gone so that she rip off more millions from FEMA for her deportations. Long may also have been avoiding an investigation into his misuse of government vehicles he used to travel to his North Carolina home.

Heather Nauert, assigned by DDT to be the UN ambassador without having her name formally submitted for confirmation, also quit after two months because of a former nanny who was or wasn’t in the country legally but was paid in cash and didn’t pay her taxes until Nauert insisted. She described her past two months as “grueling.”

Republicans are furious with the Democrats’ attempt to make a president’s tax return public. Is it possible that the GOP knows that DDT broke the law?

GOP members are also attacking Democrats for reducing voter suppression, complaining about what they called “radical ideas” such as automatic voter registration, restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and public financing of campaigns. Almost one-third of the states have automatic voter registration and some form of public financing of campaigns; only 20 percent of the states refuse voting rights for ex-felons. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also described the idea of making Election Day a paid holiday as a “power grab”—unlike building a wall with a fake national emergency.

After DDT’s trade war with China, Midwest farmers are declaring bankruptcy at record rates because of DDT’s trade war—almost double in 2018 as in 2008.

Wealth concentration has returned to the levels of a century ago: the 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. have assets equal to 150 million people in the bottom 60 percent. These same 400 people have tripled their wealth in the past 30 years while the share of wealth held by the bottom 60 percent dropped from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014.

Energy Transfer brought a $900 million racketeering and defamation lawsuit against Greenpeace and others who fought the company’s pipeline projects. A federal judge just threw out the case and wrote, “Posting articles written by people with similar beliefs does not create a RICO enterprise,” and “Donating to people whose cause you support does not create a RICO enterprise.” Last month, another judge dismissed another similar case against Greenpeace by Resolute Forests Products.

DDT’s selection of a doctor for his physical this year was somewhat more circumspect than last year’s effusive Ronny Jackson, but the new one may also be covering for DDT. This year’s doctor is a “little concerned” about DDT’s inability to remember words, but the results of an accurate cognitive test probably won’t appear until many of us are long gone.

Joseph Trump, Melania Trump’s specially invited guest who claims that classmates bullied him because of his name, took some “Executive Time” at DDT’s State of the (Dis)Union Speech.

Holiday retail sales were the worst in nine years—since the last recession.

According to a recent Gallup poll, 60% of Americans oppose major new construction of walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, and 81% support a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

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