Nel's New Day

June 29, 2019

Supreme Court Moves to Eliminate Democracy

The debates took up much of the media air last week, but the Supreme Court decisions are what will permanently change democracy in the United States. The two biggest one came out Thursday, the last day of the session so that the conservatives could quickly get out of town. Chief Justice John Roberts now has a one-two-three punch against voting with his three major decisions to suppress the vote. In the first, Citizens United, Roberts gave donors the right to give unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political candidates. His elimination of the almost 50-year-old Voters Rights Act made sure that states could keep minorities and the poor from voting in the states that were usually inclined to discriminate against these populations.

This Thursday, Roberts guaranteed that politicians can select their own voters instead of the constitutional position that voters should pick their candidates, and courts can’t stop gerrymandering even if it promises partisanship. Roberts’ swing vote in Rucho v. Common Cause blocking federal courts from preventing the most aggressive partisan gerrymandered districts that computers can create. In a circular pattern, Republicans pick districts so that the districts will pick Republicans.

The conservative majority used the excuse that some acts can violate he Constitution but are beyond the judiciary to determine any violations. Roberts’ reasoning that courts cannot require states to draw legislative maps somewhat proportional adversely twisted the definition of “proportional representation” for voting, meaning legislative representation should track electoral results. He allows states where Democrats win 54 percent of the vote to give Republicans 65 percent of the legislative seats, and he skipped the part of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits states from denying anyone “equal protection of the laws.” The First Amendment also prohibits viewpoint discrimination—aka gerrymandering. For elections, Roberts views the amendment narrowly while he uses it for unlimited expenditures to influence elections.

The swing vote in Department of Commerce v. New York, Roberts voted against the conservative four justices. The racist policy by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to rig the census by requiring all people in the U.S. to answer a question of their citizenship provided more voter suppression by shrinking districts with Latinx, designed to allocate congressional seats in a way that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” The U.S. census is ordered for all “people” in the nation, not citizens or legal residents.

Experts testified that the citizenship question “could seriously jeopardize the accuracy of the census,” because “people who are undocumented immigrants may either avoid the census altogether or deliberately misreport themselves as legal residents.” Meanwhile, legal residents “may misunderstand or mistrust the census and fail or refuse to respond.” The Census Bureau “calculated in January 2018 that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census was likely to lead to a 5.1% differential decrease in self-response rates among noncitizen households.” The purpose of the census covers a lot of territory from determining the number of legislators, both state and federal, and the amount of federal funding for different areas.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about the question’s inception and reason and falsely claimed that it was necessary to help the DOJ enforce the remaining portion of the Voters Rights Act. Evidence, however, “showed that the Secretary was determined to reinstate a citizenship question from the time he entered office; instructed his staff to make it happen; waited while Commerce officials explored whether another agency would request census-based citizenship data; subsequently contacted the Attorney General himself to ask if DOJ would make the request; and adopted the Voting Rights Act rationale late in the process.” This evidence suggests that “the Secretary had made up his mind to reinstate a citizenship question ‘well before’ receiving DOJ’s request, and did so for reasons unknown but unrelated to the VRA.”

Although Roberts voted that the question had to go back to state courts for another look, he denied that it should be removed because Ross didn’t follow a federal law requiring a three-year notice to Congress about “the subjects proposed to be included, and the types of information to be compiled.” The ruling did not state that the decision was “substantively invalid” but that “agencies must pursue their goals reasonably,” and “reasoned decisionmaking under the Administrative Procedure Act calls for an explanation for agency action.” Remanded back to the New York district court, the Supreme Court decision overturned a ruling that the question is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedures Act and upheld the constitutionality of a citizenship question under the Enumeration Clause of the Constitution. The ruling determined the question legal if the Commerce Department can come up with a good enough reason.

DDT is so furious about the citizenship question decision that he wants to (unconstitutionally) delay the census until he gets his way. Supposedly, census forms printing must be started next week to complete them in time, but Commerce Department could wait until October 31 to start printing the questionnaire if it can get “extraordinary resources” allocated by Congress.

In a filing last Monday, Maryland District Court Judge George Hazel stated the evidence “potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision” to add a citizenship question with the argument that DDT violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although the Supreme Court decision may stop the Maryland lawsuit, it can reappear if Ross returns with new reasons.

DDT’s court continues its pattern: conservative decisions are sweeping ones that change laws; liberal ones are narrow with little relief except in one specific situation.

In the census decision, Justice Clarence Thomas, on the court thanks to Joe Biden’s refusal to listen to women’s statements about Thomas’ sexual harassment, called Judge Jesse Furman a conspiracy theorist for challenging Ross’ lies. Earlier, Thomas had raged about sending a case back to Mississippi for a sixth time in Flowers v. Mississippi because, according to Thomas, prosecutors can strike minorities from a jury on the basis of their race. Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in his position. Last February, Thomas announced he wants to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan, the landmark 1964 ruling sharply restricting public figures, including government officials, to sue for defamation and get rid of Gideon v. Wainwright, requiring states to provide public defenders for indigent defendants. Gorsuch agrees with that position too. To Thomas, abortion rights equals eugenics.

After another Supreme Court ruling last week, police no longer need a warrant to draw blood from an unconscious person suspected of drinking while driving. Gone is the requirement of a person for an invasive procedure that overturns the 2013 Supreme Court ruling a violation of the Constitution for a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a DUI case.

The 40-foot Christian cross will remain on a traffic median near Washington, D.C. according to six Christian and one Jewish Supreme Court justices. Catholic Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Christian crosses have “secular meaning.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, dissenting with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, read her disagreement from the bench. [I’m guessing that the Supreme Court would not consider a “secular” Jewish star of David or Islam crescent to replace the “secular” cross.]

The Supreme Court refused to hear a lower court ruling against Alabama’s 2015 abortion law banning “dilation and evacuation,” a common procedure during the second trimester. The high court’s inaction left the law struck down, but it won’t avoid abortion cases forever. Earlier this year, it left in place the requirement for disposing of aborted fetal remains through burial or cremation because of the “sanctity of life.” Nothing about miscarriages. The high court also refused to hear a case from two Kansas men convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers.

In Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court on Monday also reaffirmed a 170-year-old exception to the Constitution’s double-jeopardy clause, leaving an opportunity for states to prosecute DDT and his campaign officials for issues already prosecuted federally.

In one sane move, Roberts was the swing vote in Kisor v. Wilkie to not overturn a 75-year series of SCOTUS decisions permitting agencies’ reasonable interpretations of their own regulations.

The Supreme Court has started its docket for the upcoming year with a case determining what happens to 700,000 DREAMERS living in the United States because of DACA. Three appeals courts and a district judge have ruled that DDT had no rationale for his attempt to close a program that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Other cases include one from Bridget Kelly and Vill Baroni, convicted of participating in gridlock near the George Washington Bridge and a Montana ruling invalidating a state program offering tax credits for funding scholarships at private schools, including religious schools.

In a 5-4 decision exempting a public access television channel from constitutional requirements, Brett Kavanaugh wrote:

“It is sometimes said that the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Although Kavanaugh didn’t cite his source, the false statement was tracked to the Ayn Randian Atlas Society, refuting Roberts’ common claim that the Supreme Court is not political. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clearly stated that blockades of Supreme Court nominees are only for Democratic presidents. He smirked while he told an audience that he would “fill it” if a vacancy on the high court appears next year. No longer should “the American people have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

June 23, 2019

DDT: Week 126 – Other Than Iran

In an authoritarian move, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) ordered the DOJ to investigate the CIA because it looked into the 2016 Russian election interference. In democracies, investigations come from evidence of serious wrongdoing; in authoritarian regimes, powerful politicians investigate situations that displease them—like chants of “lock her up” for Hillary Clinton with no evidence of criminal behavior. Republicans, especially DDT, have good reason to block investigations into Russian interference: the Russians elected them. The GOP has no interest in protecting the U.S. from undermining Western democracies. DDT uses law—and sometimes lawbreaking—to protect his and his supporters’ law violations while using the law as a weapon to defeat opponents. DDT emulates his mentor Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by attacking people like James Comey, John Kerry and Joe Biden while keeping protecting people like Kellyanne Conway who break the law. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, also admired by DDT, begins corruption investigations to discredit opponents immediately before elections.  DDT now has an AG fixer with few scruples, Bill Barr, to carry through his authoritarian policies.

DDT issued a rule for HRAs, a health reimbursement account (HRA) for employers to reimburse employees’ medical expenses not company insurance covered, causing people to change their doctors. Republicans used that problem of the Affordable Care Act to defeat Democrats in 2016. DDT has not only weakened the ACA but also forced people to change their doctors.

In a U.S.-led meeting in Bahrain, quietly announced on a weekend with only a White House website posting, Jared Kushner will present his proposal for spending $50 billion, provided by Gulf states and private investors, to supposedly economically help Palestinians. Over half goes to the West Bank and Gaza, largely illegally taken over by Israel, with the remainder to Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that a Palestinian state should be discussed before the economic issues. Israel and Palestine were not invited, but Israel plans to send a delegation. Saudi Arabia will attend with lukewarm responses, greater uncertainty, and no confirmation from the others. The Arab League announced that “whatever is rejected by the Palestinian or the Arab side is unacceptable.” Its solution is a Palestinian state based on June 4, 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.”  Almost a year ago, DDT stopped foreign aid to Palestine. After DDT illegally gave the Syrian Golan Heights to Israel, Israel’s temporary prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu put DDT’s name on the place. 

Since DDT’s debacle about attacking Iran, his supporters are pushing for him to fire Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his advice to move toward war and put DDT into a corner.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. is “stepping up digital incursions [hacking?] into Russia’s electric power grid.” DDT may not have been briefed about the “implants,” software code that can be used for surveillance or attack inside the Russian grid, because officials can’t trust him to keep his mouth shut. After DDT learned about the information from the article, he called it “a virtual act of Treason” and “ALSO, NOT TRUE!” because the media is “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.” [Caps in DDT’s tweets.] Both treason and false?

DDT told agencies to get rid of at least one-third of its advisory committees, eliminating people in the top of their fields who provide important technical advice. Boards qualifying for these cuts include considerations of EPA’s regulation of cancer-linked chemicals PFAS and bans on studies that don’t make underlying data public. In another anti-science attempt, DDT tried to move USDA researchers to Kansas City which would causing them to resign. They’re fighting back.

Elected only a few months ago, DDT’s South American lookalike, Jair Bolsonaro, is facing mass disruption in Brazil from trade union strikes a week ago, hours before a showcase football tournament. The strike against Bolsonaro’s pension reform plans has negatively affected 63 cities’ transportation with demonstrations in another 20. At least 45 million people belong to the trade unions in a country of over 200 million. Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted since the election, and his family and associates have been accused of the corruption that he promised to clean up. 

As David Axe wrote, “America Is Stuck With a $400 Billion Stealth Fighter That Can’t Fight.” Lockheed Martin leveraged the Pentagon into billions of dollars of unnecessary costs for taxpayers in attempts to build the F-35 fighter plane, long surrounded with scandal. The Pentagon may reclassify dangerous deficiencies as acceptable to get the F-35 into the air. Another fiscal disaster for taxpayers is the Navy’s Littoral Combat ship. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) proved that asking questions helps when defense contractor TransDigm refunded $16.1 million in price-gouging overcharges after Khanna asked for an investigation.

India has joined DDT’s trade war by raising tariffs on U.S. imports such as apples, almonds, lentils, and some chemical compounds in response to U.S. increased tariffs on India’s aluminum and steel. Over 600 retailers, including Walmart and Costco, wrote DDT about the damage of his tariffs onthe economy with a request to remove these taxes on U.S. consumers. DDT can assign tariffs only with the excuse of national security, making his taxes on washing machines, vacuum cleaners, toys, televisions, and other household needs a mystery. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says that additional costs for people will be minimal; a study shows a family of four will pay an additional $2,000 for DDT’s 25-percent tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods. These taxes hit DDT’s voter base, the most economically vulnerable in the nation.

China is the biggest producers of bibles, and DDT is raising their tariff by 25 percent. Evangelicals are not happy.

The poor are benefitting from DDT’s trade wars driving farmers into bankruptcy. DDT’s bailout package spending $1.2 billion for agricultural products in farmers’ storehouses after plummeting market prices increases donations of fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat to U.S. food banks. His second bailout will add additional millions of pounds of food to banks.

DDT’s new EPA pollution plan—to allow coal plants to pollute at will—will kill 1,400 people a year. Despite DDT’s lies about improving air quality, 2018 had 15 percent more days with dirty air than the average between 2013 and 2016. State AGs are joining environmental groups to sue the EPA about its decision to pollute the United States with the new coal plan.

Until two years ago, EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler, replacement for the scandal-ridden Scott Pruitt, was lobbyist for Murray Energy, one of the nation’s biggest coal companies. He still is. DDT said at his campaign rally last Tuesday:

“We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests, who made a living bleeding our country dry. That’s what we’ve done.”

DDT stared Wheeler and others down and hired them: new acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper was a Raytheon lobbyist until 2017 and replaced Boeing executive Pat Shanahan; Interior Secretary David Bernhardt lobbied for the energy industry; HHS Secretary Alex Azar oversaw lobbying for giant pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and worked with former drug industry lobbyist Joe Grogan who shaped DDT’s drug-pricing plan and went on to the Domestic Policy Council; and the rest of the Cabinet is filled with former executives and others highly connected to companies which they supposedly oversee.  

Two weeks away from July 4, Washington, D.C. can’t plan for DDT’s great event in town because he hasn’t told them what’s happening. He does plan a 10-block-long military parade.

The Supreme Court has a week to announce whether DDT’s bogus citizenship can be added to the 2020 census, but attorneys filed information to the Maryland U.S. District Court that a GOP strategist, now deceased, pushed the idea through private email with the chief of staff to the director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The documents provide evidence refuting defendants’ assertion that no link between the Secretary and the strategist “can be shown.” The recently revealed information shows that the government intended to discriminate against immigrants, Latinos and Asian Americans.

A Ukrainian-Russian developer complained he was bilked out of $200,000 for buying what he thought were VIP tickets to DDT’s inauguration and filed a lawsuit. Foreign nationals, such as Pavel Fuks who discussed a Moscow real estate deal with DDT, cannot legally buy tickets from committees hosting events connected to U.S. presidential inaugurations although U.S. donors can invite foreigners to attend.

In DDT’s formal kick-off to his 2020 campaign, the current liar-in-chief of the U.S. promised to end cancer and HIV if elected for a second term. DDT’s speech opener, Donald Trump Jr., ridiculed former VP Joe Biden for saying that he wants to cure cancer.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that the new Harriet Tubman $20 bill wouldn’t be released until 2028 because of production problems. But the currency, scheduled to be released next year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, was almost done before DDT blocked it. The 19th-century formerly enslaved abolitionist leader would replace Andrew Jackson, and DDT likes the slaveholder “Indian killer.” During his 2016 campaign, DDT called the use of Tubman as “pure political correctness.” 

Corporate tax revenue dropped 31 percent in 2018, twice what the GOP thought would happen. Treasury officials promised a spike in 2019, but the decline has increased by another nine percent because companies moved deductible expenses into 2017 for more impact. Republicans promised more bonuses with decreasing the taxes for big business by 40 percent, but last year’s wages dropped.

After DDT’s own polls didn’t look good for DDT, he lied about the data, told people to “mislead” the public about the results, and fired his pollsters.  

June 22, 2019

DDT: Week 126, Threat Balloons Backfire, More Lies

This blog refers to the man inaugurated in 2016 and limited by the U.S. Constitution to two four-year terms as “dictator.” A video from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) shows his interest in being “president for life”—up until the year 10,000.

In his interview with Chuck Todd about the proposed preemptive strike on Iran, to be shown on Sunday, DDT claimed no planes in the air and no final approval. Planes were most likely in the air, however, because the operation required them to go from distant bases hours away from Iran. Unless there was an operation. DDT did declare that his on Iran would be “obliteration like you’ve never seen before.” People in the U.S. could be the ones obliterated. Even Fox network figured out that he is lying: Shep Smith and Chris Wallace both questioned DDT’s statements

Increasingly disenchanted with Fox, DDT also accusing them of “fake news” because of Fox polls showing Biden leading over DDT in several battleground states and disputing the Fox report that DDT spend 30 hours with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos—which he did. Fox’s Sean Hannity, who reportedly has nightly telephone pillow talk with DDT, is not as popular with DDT as shown by DDT’s comment that Hannity is motivated more by ratings than by patriotism. DDT also mocks Hannity’s fawning behind closed doors as dull and unchallenging. DDT may no longer need Hannity Since Paul Manafort is in prison for 7.5 years, DDT may not need Hannity who apparently illegally passed information between Manafort and DDT while Manafort waited in jail for his trial. A judge unsealed hundreds of emails between Hannity and Manafort, some of the time when Manafort was under a gag order not to communicate with anyone except lawyers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told DDT not to go through with his misbegotten war plans when DDT briefed her, joined in the White House by other congressional leaders Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). About the 3:00 pm meeting, Pelosi said, “Democratic leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.” DDT supposedly called off the strike at 7:00 pm, about two hours before the scheduled finale. Perhaps DDT obeyed Russia’s president Vladimir Putin who said that a U.S. attack on Iran would be a “catastrophe.” Bully and television performer, DDT loves drama and sends up threat balloons to find a reaction; hopefully the backlash was too much for him.

In another failed threat balloon, DDT defended his plan to deport “millions” tomorrow before tweeting that he was delaying the deportation “for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans” can agree on an (unidentified) resolution for “Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.” There won’t be a resolution because Republicans don’t want one. Pelosi tweeted, “Families belong together.” DDT disagrees although he lies about his position and blames the non-existent “sanctuary cities.” Houston police chief Art Acevedo in Houston, nowhere near giving sanctuary, tweeted his approval of blocking deportations:

“Rhetoric that causes fear & panic & pushes folks further into the dark places all at risk.”

Even acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who supervises ICE, knows that separating children from their parents is becoming political suicide. That’s the reason that GOP senators are crying “humanitarian” on a bill designed to get more money to separate families and cage children. The bill escaped a committee, but questions have been raised since publicity about the neglect and abuse of children on the southern border. Democrats need to be careful; DDT considers a wall “humanitarian aid.” DDT is good for human smuggling across the southern border. Every time he mentions his wall, more migrants head toward the United States. While DDT pushes billions for a southern border wall because of the illegal drug trade, $1.2 billion worth of cocaine was shipped into a Philadelphia port out of Chile, Panama, and the Bahamas—one of the biggest drug seizures in U.S. history. Although this shipment was discovered, Joaquín Guzman (“El Chapo”) has talked extensively about smuggling drugs through ports of entry.

The Senate is running short on time. Within 40 “working” days, the U.S. is ripe for a shutdown because of no bills for raising the debt ceiling and passing appropriations bills. GOP congressional leaders have a bipartisan deadlock with DDT on budgeting because acting chief of staff and budget director Mick Mulvaney’s agenda disagrees with DDT’s desires. The actions of Mulvaney, formerly a South Carolina GOP representative, are particularly galling to Republicans. During a White House meeting last Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin suggested a one-year stopgap measure that keeps funding at its current levels with a one-year debt limit suspension, unpopular with Democrats. Schumer pointed out that McConnell blocked moving 2020 spending bills under “regular order” to please DDT. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said:

“Mulvaney does not want a deal, and I think that’s the biggest point.”

The group didn’t discuss offsets to pay for the GOP tax cuts for the wealthy and big business, a serious problem because Republicans will want to take money for the bottom 80 percent.

In an interview with Time, DDT lied when he said he never separated children from their parents. He falsely claimed, several times, that President Obama separated families and he (DDT) “ended separation.” A court ruled against DDT’s family separation, but he continued the practice after the court’s decision. DDT repeated his lies to José Díaz-Balart, anchor of “Noticias Telemundo,” in his first interview on a Spanish-language network. The rare occasions when President Obama separated children was for threats to children or adults detained for criminal convictions or felonies such as carrying drugs. In April 2018, the DOJ under former AG Jeff Sessions ordered every illegal entry case to be prosecuted, separating children from parents even if parents only committed a misdemeanor by crossing the border. Children were put in cages and sometimes didn’t recognize their parents after lengthy separations. 

In the Time interview reporters, DDT threatened a journalist with prison after he tried to take a picture of a letter that DDT claimed was “written by Kim Jong Un. It was delivered to me yesterday. By hand.” DDT went off the record for a few minutes, and a reporter later brought up the issue about DDT trying to “limit Mueller’s Russia probe to only future election meddling” and dictating a letter to Corey Lewandowski, “telling him to tell” former attorney general Jeff Sessions “to limit the investigation.” DDT told the journalist that “you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you—” Asked if he was threatening prison for the journalist, DDT went off on a rant, including how Time should make him “man of the year.” They did, just three years ago.

Some of DDT aides think they are above the law, just as DDT does. Kellyanne Conway indicated that the Hatch Act, that prevents all federal employees except DDT and the vice president from campaigning for candidate, doesn’t apply to her. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also being investigated about his possible violation of the law preventing federal employees from political activities after the media reported that he is working with DDT’s campaign officials to work on fundraising strategies. Kushner is supposedly “the campaign’s key liaison in the West Wing” and has “multiple daily conversations” with campaign manager, Brad Parscale. In 2016, Kushner’s companies were also flagged for suspicious activity in Deutsche Bank money-laundering reviews. Ivanka Trump’s tweet with DDT’s campaign slogan “Make America Great” and her claim that “the best is yet to come” on her government Twitter account may also violate  the Hatch Act:

“Four years ago today, I introduced my father @realDonaldTrump when he launched a Campaign that would forever change America. Because of his courage, Americans are safer and more prosperous…and the best is yet to come!”

Last week when DDT kicked off his 2020 campaign in Orlando, a place surrounded by swamp, the city’s newspaper Orlando Sentinel, traditionally endorsing Republicans, made its 2020 endorsement: not DDT.

“After 2½ years we’ve seen enough. Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies—from white lies to whoppers—told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity. The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that. We can do better. We have to do better.”

The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial wasn’t much more supportive, asking why DDT should be re-elected if he didn’t do anything in his first term. About DDT’s Orlando speech:

“The most striking fact of his speech was how backward looking it was. Every incumbent needs to remind voters of his record, Mr. Trump more than most because the media are so hostile. [The people who aren’t core supporters] want to know why they should take a risk on Mr. Trump and his volatile character for another term.

“On immigration, however, the President missed a chance to strike a deal trading more border security (including his wall) for legalizing Dreamers. On trade, Mr. Trump has disrupted global rules but has put nothing new and stable in their place. Asking voters to believe he’ll do better on these issues in a second term isn’t likely to turn many swing voters his way.”

DDT’s staunch supporter, The Washington Examiner, retracted a story repeating DDT’s lies that a New York Times “fed information” to the FBI about Jared Kushner. The complete story is here.

DDT’s lies and chaos have lost him some right-wing media.

June 21, 2019

The ‘Friday Shock’ News

Filed under: Uncategorized,War — trp2011 @ 9:16 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In the past, news on Friday was called the “Friday dump,” with the hope that people will ignore it. More and more, it has become the “Friday shock,” certainly today with another accusation about sexual assault and the nearness of a nuclear war.

Writer E. Jean Carroll has become the 16th woman to accuse Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) of sexual assault, and her account of his attack over two decades ago is highly credible and graphic. In her current article in the New York Magazine, “My List of Hideous Men,” Carroll describes six incidents of attacks by men, an excerpt from her newest book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. At the time of DDT’s “alleged” assault, he was married to Marla Maples  and already accused of assault by Ivana Trump during his first marriage. Carroll told two friends about DDT’s attack but didn’t come forward until now because of humiliation.  With dark humor, she wrote:

“Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun.”

DDT claimed, “I’ve never met this person in my life.” A photograph show DDT (left) with Carroll at a party. Business Insider brings the total of sexual assault/harassment accusations against DDT to 24. Descriptions of these events match the behavior DDT bragged about in an Access Hollywood tape, including the statement, “I moved on her like a bitch.”

“Cocked and loaded” (the name of a porn film) is the term DDT used against Iran unless they would hold talks about a new nuclear accord. DDT told the Pentagon to launch a military strike and then called it off ten minutes before the deadline although Iran is opposed to talks. DDT’s attack was supposedly in response to Iran’s downing a U.S. surveillance drone, possibly over Iranian air space.  The U.S. claims the drone was shot down in international space, but evidence is questionable. No one knows why the strike was called off or whether DDT will resume his attacks. The Pentagon warned against the strike, but non-military personnel Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and CIA Director Gina Haspel are pushing for military responses that lead to a war. And the Defense Department has no leader.

Having DDT backed down from causing an immediate war, DDT bragged and lied in his tweets:

“President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America.

“I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!

“On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.

“10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

Moving to the truth:

  • President Obama didn’t “give” Iran any money; he simply released their own money.
  • President Obama didn’t give a “free path to Nuclear Weapons”; the agreement kept Iran from developing these weapons.
  • Hardliner Iranians are still shouting “death to Americans,” perhaps louder since DDT’s sanctions.
  • Iran is a strengthened nation today as far as war is concerned.
  • The “unmanned drone” may have been flying over Iran airspace.
  • If Iran is not “causing major problems,” why did DDT decide to attack the country?
  • Why would U.S. officials suggest a mission to kill 150 people for a destroyed drone?
  • Why didn’t he know about the mission’s consequences until ten minutes before it was a done deal?

Greg Sargent’s short version of the Iran debacle:

“Iran was abiding by the deal, and was being constrained from developing nuclear weapons. But Trump pulled out—then reimposed sanctions to choke the Iranian economy, and has since dictated terms for sanctions relief that appear deliberately unrealistic, cornering Iran into a choice between escalating on its side or submitting entirely to those terms….

“In the run-up to [the withdrawal], Trump falsely claimed Iran was on the verge of total collapse before Obama negotiated it, and overinflated what Iran financially got from it, to falsely portray it as a giveaway to Iran. Trump also insisted the deal was premised on believing Iran could be trusted not to develop nukes (in fact, it had strict verification mechanisms) and that the deal would inevitably fail to constrain Iran.

“That latter claim proved completely false for a time, as Iran continued to abide by it. Now Iran is suggesting it will restart its programs, but this is coming after the United States pulled out of the deal that was successfully constraining it, compounding the folly of Trump’s decision.”

Because President Obama negotiated the Iran deal, DDT couldn’t stand the possibility of its success. DDT loves the brutal dictator Kim Jong-Un and refuses to face North Korea’s building nuclear weapons because President Obama didn’t agree with him. U.S. intelligence reported that North Korea is building nuclear weapons. DDT said, “I hope not.” He also talked about his “very strong relationship” with the “very smart” President Kim Jong-Un who “understands” and “respects” DDT.

The United States is one of the few countries blaming Iran for the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Earlier this week a journalist asked DDT why people should “trust your administration to tell the truth about what’s going on in Iran. If we go to war, why should we believe you if you say why?” DDT didn’t even object to being called a liar. His answer the day before he decided to attack Iran:

“Well, we have Iran. We’ve been talking to various people on lots of different sides. And we’ll see what happens with Iran. We’re very well set. We’re very well configured. We have a lot of things going on with Iran. I spoke with President Xi, this morning, of China. We’ll be meeting at the G20. And I think that is working out pretty much as I anticipated it would. China very much wants to discuss the future, and so do we. So the relationship with President Xi is a very good one. We had a long talk this morning.”

DDT supporters may vote for him in 2020, but many of them will do so with reluctance. Four years ago, they delighted in his “telling it like it is,” but enthusiasm among Republicans and GOP-leaning voters is wearing thin. This poll was taken before the latest accusation of sexual assault and being ten minutes from nuclear war:

  • 53 percent sometimes feel “embarrassed” by DDT’s comments.
  • 59 percent are sometimes “concerned” by DDT’s comments.
  • 41 percent sometimes feel “exhausted” by DDT’s comments.
  • 47 percent said DDT’s statements confuse them.
  • 37 percent sometimes feel “angry” because of DDT’s comment.
  • 32 percent feel “insulted” by things DDT says.
  • Only 22 percent feel “frightened” by DDT’s comments—but we’re not at war yet.

Almost $6 trillion will be spent on George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and the Middle East based on imaginary weapons of mass destruction. That money could have really made “America great.” Spending more money on DDT’s unnecessary preemptive war will create more disasters in the United States.

For 18 years, presidents have been given the right that they can declare war wherever and whenever they want because Congress gave them permission after the 9/11 attack. Presidents have caused over three dozen military engagements in 14 countries. This week, House Democrats, worried that DDT would declare war on Iran, started to take back their constitutional right: their almost $1 trillion appropriations bill funding the military, health programs, and the Energy Department repealed the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will surely quash the provision removing DDT’s rights to declare war, but it’s a start.

June 20, 2019

DDT’s People Need Vetting

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders should have been left to tell the lies of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) instead of going back to Alabama: she does a better job. Patrick Shanahan’s nomination to serve as Donald Trump’s new Defense secretary collapsed yesterday after revelations surrounding incidents of domestic violence within Shanahan’s family. A journalist asked:

“Does that make you concerned then about the White House vetting process if you had just heard about it yesterday?”

DDT answered:

“No, we have a very good vetting process. And you take a look at our Cabinet and our Secretaries — it’s very good. But we have a great vetting process.”

DDT is a disaster at vetting anyone. Last month, DDT’s nominees for the Federal Reserve, Stephen Moore and Herman Cain, had to withdraw their names. They are on the top of a long list of non-vetted nominees. Appointments are going to get only worse because fewer and fewer people are willing to be involved in DDT’s administration.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, formerly a Boeing executive, resigned after an FBI investigation further delayed his confirmation hearings. He took over after James Mattis resigned in December before DDT fired him. Shanahan’s ex-wife has made accusations of abuse and was arrested as part of a domestic dispute. DDT tweeted the spending “more time with his family” for Shanahan departure. Some Republicans kept Shanahan’s problems from Democrats because they didn’t want the situation to become another Kavanaugh debacle. Democrats discovered the domestic abuse surrounding Shanahan after the information was published in the newspaper.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, DDT’s replacement for Shanahan and another lobbyist, will be more to DDT’s satisfaction. Unlike Shanahan, Esper doesn’t worry about the deployment of thousands of military member to the southern border eroding readiness for combat, and he’s close to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who currently seems to be announcing military strategy regarding Iran, and David Urban, DDT’s close friend and adviser to the Pennsylvania presidential campaign in 2016. Esper was also the top lobbyist for Raytheon, now a U.S. defense contractor embedded in Saudi Arabia.

DDT has lost support from the vastly wealthy and powerful Mercer family who helped him get elected in 2016 with $15.5 million and data mining by Cambridge Analytica. DDT’s inauguration fund also got $1 million from the Mercers. Some of the Mercers’ disillusionment came from DDT’s exile of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer’s elimination as co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, “really spooked” by the FBI’s investigation of Cambridge Analytica. The Mercers originally preferred Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the presidential candidate but supported DDT in preference to Hillary Clinton. Robert Mercer also feels that he lost his privacy because of his support for DDT.

Matthew Kacsmaryk slipped through as a lifetime judge with 52 votes because GOP senators will confirm almost any judicial nominee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who believed Brett Kavanaugh’s statement of support for Roe v. Wade, either learned her lesson or worries about re-election next year; she was the only GOP senator to vote him. Kacsmaryk:

  • Opposes employment, housing, and health care protections for LGBTQ people
  • Opposes including LGBTQ people in the Violence against Women Act.
  • Wrote that being transgender is “a delusion.”
  • Defended county clerk Kim Davis for refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples in opposition to the law.
  • Opposes employer contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
  • Played a lead role in opposing a Washington state law requiring pharmacist to give birth control to women with prescriptions.
  • Criticized the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade giving women the right to abortions.
  • Labeled the Equality Act a “public affirmation of the lie that the human person is an autonomous blob of Silly Putty, unconstrained by nature or biology, and that marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults.’”

Tony Perkins, a leader of the infamous hate group Family Research Council, has been named to chair the U.S. Commission on International Freedom. It’s purpose is to review violations of religious freedom and make policy recommendations to the president, Secretary of State, and Congress.

Kelly Craft, formerly U.S. ambassador to Canada and now nominee for the UN ambassador, had the reputation for rarely being in Canada. Her absence for over 300 days between October 23, 2017, and June 19, 2019 means that, like Congress, she was missing for about half the time. A spokesperson said she had permission to be away but declined to give details. Craft reportedly left her job to a deputy while attending to personal business and domestic U.S. politics. Her husband’s private jet, used by Craft, made round trips between Canada and the U.S. about once a week, such as travel to the Kentucky Derby and a media interview for an event for her coal billionaire husband. Both Craft and her husband are supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who lobbied for her appointment. Her answers at the confirmation hearing showed an ignorance of UN workings.

Katharine Gorka, political appointee as press secretary at Customs and Border Protection, remains in the government although her husband, Sebastian, known for white supremacist connections, has gone. Both are openly anti-Muslim, and Gorka worked to stop a DHS grant for Life after Hate, a group trying to stop white supremacist groups. DHS has refused to release documents about her through the Freedom of Information Act.

Jerome Powell, chair of the independent agency Fed Reserve, would likely be on the chopping block if DDT could figure out a way to get rid of him. Although the stock markets are currently going up, their volatility partly comes from DDT’s trade wars. Yet DDT blames the refusal to drop interest rates as the only reason. Last February, he checked with lawyers to see if he could demote Powell and said two weeks ago that the board is “not my people.” Three of the five are DDT’s nominees, and DDT appointed Powell as chair. The seven-member board is still missing two people, and all four of DDT’s nominees have failed confirmation—difficult to do with the current GOP senate. Powell said he’s not going anywhere.

VP Mike Pence isn’t any better than DDT at vetting people. Pence’s former national security advisor, Andrea L. Thompson, now undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, had close relationships with confessed Russian agent Maria Butina and her boyfriend, veteran GOP activist Paul Erickson. Butina’s job was to infiltrate the NRA and GOP to help Russia. In June 2017, Butina attended Thompson’s wedding where Erickson officiated. A year later, Thompson’s connection to Butina wasn’t mentioned at her confirmation hearings despite Mueller’s investigation, including Erikson’s allegedly trying to establish “secret backchannels to the Kremlin.” Thompson’s job is negotiating with Russia on arms control treaties, but she never discussed her Butina ties. After 18 months in prison, Butina will be deported to her home in Russia.  

Hope Hicks, DDT’s former communications director, may have testified for almost eight hours before the House Judiciary Committee, but six White House, DOJ, and private lawyers blocked the questions 155 times in the closed hearing. Their excuse was the non-existent “absolute immunity,” applying to “anything about her knowledge of anything during the period of time in which she was employed in the White House.” She didn’t answer even simple answers such as the location of her office in the White House and the existence of any conversation with DDT during lunch time.

Hicks could answer questions before and after she was in the White House and had a few revelations. Under repeated questioning, she said DDT was wrong in possibly accepting political dirt from a foreign power on an opponent, and she agree that the Russian government hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Hicks also found it “odd” that DDT asked Corey Lewandowski, a former campaign manager but not an employee, to tell former AG Jeff Sessions to reverse his recusal in overseeing the Russian investigation. She knew about the hush money that DDT paid to two women that DDT denied.  Hicks’ testimony also shows that DDT and his team knew about possible tapes of DDT with “Russian hookers, participating in lewd activities” (pp. 196-197) soon after the release of Access Hollywood tapes in late October 2016, long before former FBI Director James Comey briefed him on it in January 2017. At that time, DDT appeared shocked about the tapes.

The oddest aftermath of Hicks’ testimony is Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) false claim that “old, pervy” Democrats asked her personal questions about her love life, a message that went viral on the fake conservative media. He wasn’t present, but he claimed to have “sources” that were “inside,” that people “would be ashamed if they knew what actually happened in that room.” With the transcript released, people can find out “what actually happened” if they read the document—which they most likely won’t. I read all 273 pages. It’s filled with factual questions about Hicks’ professional activities, 155 “objections,” and some whining from Republicans who still want to protect DDT. Once again, conservative media consumers will believe the “fake news.”

June 15, 2019

Week 125, Part III – Democrats Move Ahead amid Corruption

While the U.S. House passes bills that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ignores, it also pursues the facts that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tries to hide. One success—if DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr doesn’t pull out again—is obtaining evidence related to DDT’s obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller’s investigation in exchange for not suing Barr for contempt. Or Barr could be stalling. The House did take a vote permitting the Judiciary Committee to take witnesses to court who refuse to comply with subpoenas.

DDT tries to use executive privilege for refusing all information to the House, but Hope Hicks, former White House Communications Director and one of five subpoenaed DDT aides, will testify before the House Judiciary Committee. A transcript of the closed hearing will be released to the public. Hicks left the White House two days after she told Robert Mueller’s investigation that she testified that she told “white lies” for DDT.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying subpoenas related to their addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House Intelligence Committee has now subpoenaed Michael Flynn and Rick Gates for documents and testimony about the Mueller report as part of connection with Russia and other foreign powers, including financial dealings and possibility of compromise.

Fox contributor Sidney Powell, conspiracy theorist regarding Mueller’s investigation, is Flynn’s new lawyer. Among her right-wing conspiracies on social media are Flynn as the victim of the “Obama Deep State” and the surveillance of the DDT campaign by the FBI “to protect Hillary Clinton.” She also retweeted a false post about a Mueller probe witness having a stroke because of prosecutors’ treatment. Her goals are the dismissal of Flynn’s case and a presidential pardon for him.

House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) has floated the idea of a subpoena for FBI Director Christopher Wray regarding any active counterintelligence investigations connected to DDT and Russia. Schiff wants to know if the FBI’s investigation, opened in June 2016, has concluded or continues. Congressional leaders, required to be briefed about sensitive intelligence issues, have had no information about Russia and the DDT campaign since DDT fired former FBI Director James Comey in 2017. GOP-invited witness Andrew McCarthy, a former US attorney and Fox contributor, described the danger of DDT’s campaign officials meeting in the Trump Tower in June 2016 when a Russian lawyer offered dirt on Hillary Clinton.

DDT may go back to court after a judge ordered the release of more memos from former FBI director James Comey about his meetings with DDT. The ruling requires that names of countries and world leaders be unredacted in conversations about DDT’s concerns about former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his scheduling of calls from world leaders. CNN’s lawsuit is now two years old.

While DDT tries to suppress political and financial material by telling everyone to ignore House subpoenas, he also wants to erase factual testimony from federal agencies. Last week he attempted to block a State Department employee from testifying about national security risks caused by the climate crisis. The employee testified, but his statements were excluded from the House record because the government research doesn’t fit DDT’s personal views.

Sen. David Purdue (R-GA) may call for his chamber to give up part of their August recess. Staying in Washington, however, has no value if McConnell won’t bring bills to the floor.

DDT will declare nuclear waste safer because of its new classification. Rick Perry’s Department of Energy is reclassifying high-level radioactive material to a lower standard, probably to bury the material in Washington, South Carolina, and Idaho shallow pits. Cleanup will be faster as the process moves dangerous waste to a new location. The federal agency plans “to cut out state input.”

If DDT has his way, the Office of Personnel Management that oversees government recruiting, hiring, pay, health insurance and other benefits, and performance management will close. The agency also oversees benefits for retirees and protects employee rights in federal agencies. DDT needs a senate vote for his restructuring. Democrats are opposed, and Republicans are lukewarm doing away with the agency. Created in 1978, the OPM, if disbanded, would be the first elimination of a major agency since the World War II era.

Chicken farmers have joined truckers and other former DDT supporters to be frustrated by DDT’s financial destruction. Farmers who thought that President Obama wasn’t policing meat companies who cheated and defrauded them voted for DDT. Much to their dismay, DDT sided with big meat companies—one magnate giving his campaign $2 million—over small farmers by erasing regulations protecting the little guys and giving four companies the ability to fix prices and crush competition. Georgia’s Sonny Perdue, Agriculture Secretary, dissolved the office for policing meat companies, and preexisting rules are no longer enforced. Top recipients from the annual $4+ million for lobbying are Georgia’s Jack Kingston who led the agriculture appropriations committee until this year and Arkansas member Steve Womack. Fines for breaking rules are under ten percent from five years ago.

DDT also hurt the truckers with the GOP “tax cuts”: they may each pay thousands of dollars more to the federal government because the new law cut out expense exemptions for per diam costs—about $15,000—for the 3.5 million truckers on the road. GOP congressional leaders have minimized the millions of additional dollars that truckers must pay. Only owner-operators, a very small percentage in the profession, escape because their profits are taxed at a far lower personal rate than the former corporate income. DDT loves trucks but not their drivers. 

Even leading tax cut architect Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who pushed through tax cuts for the wealthy and big business with the promise that they would pay for themselves, admits 18 months later that he was wrong. The obsession during President Obama’s first term to balance the budget has morphed into a deficit increase of almost 40 percent—during a healthy economy.    

DDT’s solution to problems with the economy is to threaten departure from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after it criticized his tariffs and threats and accused them of defending businesses with organizations in China and Mexico. In an unplanned telephone interview with CNBC, he also lambasted the Federal Reserve Board for having raised interest rates and claimed that China let its currency to be weakened to mitigate the effects of U.S. tariffs.

Deadbeat DDT and Congress owe $7 million to Washington, D.C. for DDT’s inauguration ceremony as he gears up for an expensive campaign rally there on July 4. DDT also wants to hire a second fireworks company to provide a backdrop behind his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. DDT stiffed at least another ten cities for hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide public safety costs for his rallies going back three years. Another 60 cities have policies keeping them from billing politicians for police costs, and others chose not to bill him. A Spokane city council member asked, “Let’s be honest, when does Trump ever pay his bills?” DDT’s campaign had $40.8 million last March and doesn’t report any debts to municipal governments or police departments in FEC filings. Cities hosting DDT rallies also recorded an additional 2.3 assaults on the day of the rallies but didn’t have this problem with Hillary Clinton’s rallies. Counties hosting DDT campaign rallies saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes, compared to those that don’t host his events.

Washington, D.C. residents have filed to have DDT’s liquor license in his Washington hotel revoked because applicants must be of “good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.”

DDT is known for making up conversations with anonymous people, but his quote that “without Donald Trump maybe there would be no NATO” was unfortunately attributed to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who knew nothing about the statement. DDT also thinks that the moon “is a part” of Mars. In still another fantasy, DDT claims that “there are those that say we have one of the finest Cabinets.”  

Mars may be out of the picture, but DDT still wants his “Space Force.” The House Armed Services Committee may add a bipartisan amendment to the 2020 fiscal authorization bill.

DDT is back from England, but this photograph of him commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, in Portsmouth, southern England, on June 5, 2019, says far more than a thousand words. 

The May deficit of $208 billion is 42 percent higher than the same month in 2018, making the cumulative deficit for the first eight months of fiscal 2019 at $739—just $40 billion short of the full 2018 deficit. The disaster came after the GOP/DDT tax act, projecting an additional $1.9 trillion over a decade. The year 2019 will reach over $1 trillion. Corporate income taxes are down $10 billion, and custom duties are up about $20 billion from massive tariffs paid by consumers.

In the past 30 years, one percent of people in the U.S. gained $21 trillion in wealth compared to a loss of $900 billion for the bottom 50 percent—the worst inequality since the 1920s. The top one percent has $30 trillion in assets, and the bottom have less than zero amount.

June 14, 2019

DDT: Week 125, Part II – Follow-up, Foreign Disasters

Two days after Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said “I’d take it” when asked about foreign clandestine information, he backtracked by saying that he would still look at incriminating information about an election opponent but he would “absolutely” report such an encounter.

In clips from George Stephanopoulos’ interview, DDT accused White Counsel Don McGahn, who DDT told not to comply with a House subpoena, of lying in his testimony with the Mueller investigation “because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.”

Always antagonistic toward Iran, DDT followed State Secretary Mike Pompeo in declaring Iran as the perpetrator of attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The Japanese owner of one tanker disagreed, saying that it was hit with a “flying object,” possibly an artillery shell instead of a mine. In the past, Pompeo has lied about Iran and Yemen. Pompeo said that the attack would require sophisticated technology that only Iran could provide. He omitted Saudi Arabia and Israel from the criterion. Both are in the region, they have the ability, and they both hate Iran. Iran has no benefit from attacking ships from either Japan or Norway, but DDT does when he uses his attacks against Iran in his campaign rallies.

Over 16 years ago, Colin Powell cited “irrefutable evidence” that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction,” given him by the government. He ignored repeated warnings about the “evidence.” After the discovery that the government was lying, the U.S. was at war—a war that has cost several trillions of dollars and gone on for over 16 years. As George W. Bush said, “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” Yes, you can.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) may have a reason to single-handedly block a law requiring a candidate to contact the FBI about foreign interference in a campaign. She has close ties to a U.S.-sanctioned Russian politician whose former lawyer, G. Kline Preston IV, represented Blackburn when she was facing allegations of possible campaign finance violations and worked closely with Alexander Torshin, the prominent Russian politician with close ties to Putin who is now under intense scrutiny for allegations he illegally channeled Russian funds through the National Rifle Association in an effort to influence the 2016 election. Blackburn received more NRA money since 2002 than another other Tennessee congressional member. The NRCC also refuses to sign a bipartisan pledge not to National Republican Congressional Committee to make a bipartisan pledge not to use stolen or hacked information in House elections, Blackburn’s political home from 2003 to 2018.

With the GOP refusal to protect the United States from foreign election interference comes their own interference in foreign elections.  may be their willingness to interfere in foreign elections. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Jewish leaders that he would “push” back against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during Britain’s leadership succession. As in the United States, some calls of anti-Semitism come from a conflict between Palestinian support and Zionist politics. DDT has already come out in support of Boris Johnson for prime minister, legal under the Hatch Act, and Brexit party leader Nigel Farage campaigned for DDT before his election. In Britain, 71 percent of the people disapprove of DDT, meaning DDT’s support may not help the conservatives. 

Despite Kellyanne Conway’s violation of the Hatch Act, DDT said he will not fire her. He told Fox & Friends, “I think she’s a terrific person.” He called her violation of the law, upheld by the Supreme Court in both 1947 and 1973, “free speech.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, under scrutiny for her conflicts of interest, claims that she sold stocks in Ingersoll Rand and Vulcan, the latter a highway supply company, and updated her financial disclosures. Dalia Lithwick has an excellent article on GOP nepotism

Despite DDT preening about controlling Mexico with his tariff threat has become a nothing-burger.

In March, Mexico had already pledged to deploy National Guard members in secret talks with former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Mexican Secretary of the Interior Olga Sanchez.

 Last December, Nielsen told the House Judiciary Committee about the Migrant Protection Protocols, an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed.

Negotiators failed to get Mexico to accept a “safe third country” treaty to give the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

Therefore, all three of DDT’s claims are lies: no new curbs on immigrants; no agreement for Mexico “to immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product” from American farmers”; and no secret successions. DDT’s negotiating style: cause a crisis, negotiate and get nothing, and declare he’s a success in averting the crisis. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said DDT was turning farmers into “poker chips at one of his bankrupt casinos.”

The tariff crisis is not over: the agreement, which needs to be approved by Mexico’s legislature, gives Mexico 45 days to reduce the number of migrants headed for the U.S. DDT bragged about his “secret agreement” during a Q&A session that he waved around but said he wouldn’t be revealing what was in it. He didn’t need to “reveal” the paper: WaPo photographer Jabin Botsford grabbed a picture of the document, and the sun shining through the paper made most of the text visible. The number of migrants will most likely decrease because fewer immigrants come to the border during the summer. DDT will be declaring success—until cool weather returns. DDT has never worried about the misery he causes for people, but his plans to keep migrants in Mexico will result in more separation of families, restrictions on due process, and increased danger for vulnerable people such as pregnant women, children, and the LGBTQ population.  

North Korea’s president Kim Jung-Un is still successfully flattering DDT with another “beautiful letter” making DDT “think the relationship is very well.” DDT addressed Kim’s murder of his half brother Kim Jong Nam because he may have been “a Central Intelligence Agency source who met on several occasions with agency operatives.” In support of the murder, DDT said that “I would tell [Kim] that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices,” DDT said in his desire to protect the brutal dictator. He then gushed about the warmth of correspondence from the brutal dictator, his justification for the U.S. not gathering intelligence about the nuclear developments that provide danger to the country that he vowed to protect. DDT declared that Kim “kept his word” about no nuclear testing despite his declaration just three weeks ago that he was his being “not happy” about North Korea’s ballistic missile tests.

DDT thinks he has leverage over China with his fluctuating tariffs, but China has rare earths—and China sharply reduced overseas shipments in 2019. These elements are vital not only in personal technology devices but also for all advanced U.S. military weapons. Because of lower labor costs and fewer environmental regulations, China mines 70 percent of rare earth, making the U.S. dependent on China’s good will for its fighting power. High-end rare earth products are made only in Japan and China, and Japan relies on the raw product from China. With cutoffs to rare earths, China could adversely impact every part of U.S. economy from jet engines to oil refineries. Private firms struggle in the business because Chinese-subsidized firms can sell at or below cost. Last Sunday, 60 Minutes on CBS gave an excellent primer on rare earths. 

The oak tree that France’s president Emmanuel Macron gave DDT to represent “ties that bind us” has died. Macron promised to send another sapling. Poor thing!

Although many people question whether DDT will lose the 2020 presidential election in 17 months, the polls don’t look good for him, especially in battleground states that he won by a few thousand votes in 2016. Even DDT’s personal polling shows him far down, and a Quinnipiac poll has him behind six leading Democratic contenders—including two blacks, two women, and a gay man—in hypothetical general election match-ups. At least 48 percent won’t vote for a candidate over 70; DDT is now 72. DDT now claims that the polls he doesn’t like are “fake.” He expressed gratitude that “we can fight back on Social Media,” which is notoriously “fake.”

DDT didn’t respond to the Quinnipiac poll showing that 69 percent of people think that a sitting president should be subject to criminal charges. That includes 52 percent of Republicans. DDT committed crimes before he took office, according to 57 percent, but a 45-45 split think that he did so after he was inaugurated. Fifty-five percent think that the Mueller investigation did not clear DDT of wrongdoing.

DDT is up to 10,796 lies since he was inaugurated—12 each day.

 

June 13, 2019

DDT: Week 125, Part I – Total Disregard for the Law

A major piece of news that may go unnoticed this week is that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is quitting at the end of the month and going home to Arkansas, according to a tweet from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The public goes months without seeing her as DDT prefers to babble in his yard in lieu of press secretary briefings. Yesterday’s “babble” created a great deal of media when he claimed he’s fine with a little collusion between himself and a foreign government about his campaign opponents. Asked what he would do if a foreign government offered him clandestine information, he said:

“There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called, from a country—Norway—we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

DDT continued:

“It’s not an interference, they have information. When somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research…. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI.”

In congressional testimony, Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers, “the FBI would want to know about” any foreign election meddling. DDT said, “The FBI director is wrong.”

Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein wrote:

“He’s the country’s commander in chief and top diplomat, and as such responsible for making clear to all foreign nations and other groups that messing with the internal affairs of the United States will have serious consequences. Instead, he’s basically inviting everyone in.”

DDT sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a few other Republicans expressed dismay about DDT’s assessment that he didn’t need to notify the FBI.  Most congressional Republicans, however, pointed fingers at Democrats with false accusations and avoiding any mention of their president.

Despite some GOP senators claiming that candidates should report offers of foreign assistance to the FBI, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) led the charge to block any bill making this requirement. Knowingly accepting help from a foreign entity or power for electoral campaigns is already illegal, but a proposed bill would mandate the reporting of offering foreign assistance. Once again, Republicans cover for DDT’s illegal positions. The Republicans will not support this bill.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) responded:

“When the president talks like this, it’s no wonder [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] is blocking bipartisan efforts to secure our elections from foreign interference.”

McConnell’s blockade includes funding for state and governments to tighten security, a national strategy against cyberattacks, and the requirement that federal funds be spent only on federally certified “election infrastructure vendors.” In other proposals, internet companies such as Facebook must disclose political advertising purchasers, and federal incentives would be provided for states to adopt paper ballots. McConnell has now blocked over 100 pieces of legislation sent him from the House, including providing election security for 2020. Two days ago, he announced an election security briefing, but nothing has been heard about it since then. McConnell wouldn’t say whether the Senate will take up any legislation in connection to election security, and GOP Senate leaders knew nothing about a briefing. He blamed the media for ignoring stories about the lack of interference in the 2018 election and said that DDT “did a much, much better job” regarding the absence of problems. (That may be the briefing.)

Existing law legalizes interference from foreign government in some cases: foreign-owned companies incorporated in the U.S. can make unlimited donations to U.S. candidates, and foreigners, including those masquerading as news outlets, can legally pay for adds to attack or promote candidates on Facebook, Google, or YouTube. Because of the conservative Supreme Court, campaign finance is completely opaque and contains many loopholes and back doors for donors.

Beyond interference comes just plain sloppy, careless election security such as North Carolina has demonstrated. Just before the 2018 election, a cybersecurity analyst found a file of unencrypted administrative passwords in a cloud storage directory available to anyone on the internet to access. Recent revelations about Republicans using gerrymandering to preserve white GOP control has also led to a case in North Carolina that accuses the current legislature of being illegitimate. Files from the now deceased Thomas Hofeller, gerrymandering expert, show that the state’s Republicans lied to a federal court with their claim that they didn’t use racial data for new electoral maps and that they lacked time to draw new maps for a special election. Common Cause of North Carolina accuses the state’s legislative maps of violating the state’s constitution.

The day after the interview, DDT tried to cover up his remarks by falsely equating getting dirt on campaign opponents to diplomatic discussions with allies and then accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) of inappropriate contacts with Russian nationals. Last year, Warner attempt to contact the British author of material originally commissioned by the conservative Free Beacon, and Russian pranksters contacted Schiff in 2017 about having salacious photos of DDT. Schiff had immediately told law enforcement about the contact, and GOP Sen. John McCain (AZ) had already turned over the dossier to the FBI. 

DDT’s aide Kellyanne Conway said she doesn’t care about violating the law, but DDT’s Office of Special Counsel, headed by former employee of a right—leaning watchdog group and DDT’s appointee Henry Kerner, reported that she should be removed from her job because she egregiously and repeatedly violated the Hatch Act. DDT is upset. Deputy White House Press Secretary Steven Groves’s statement declared that the office has “unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees.” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone demanded that the office withdraw its report. Kerner disagreed:

“In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed. What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?”

Conway was reprimanded for telling Fox watchers to buy from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, but most of her Hatch Act violations advocate for and against specific electoral candidates. Only the president and vice-president may openly campaign for political candidates.

John Dean, Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, testified this week about comparisons between the Mueller Report and Watergate investigations. The testimony got little press because of a fatal helicopter crash in New York, but Robert Reich listed Dean’s report of six similarities between DDT and Nixon:

1) Tried to shut down the investigations completely.

2) Fired key investigators in an attempt to stop the investigation.

3) Tried to cover up their efforts to stop the investigation.

4) Sought to control investigators by ordering aides to interfere in their work.

5) Dangled presidential pardons to influence key witnesses.

6) Limited the release of key evidence to Congress and the public.

Despite his promise to disinvest himself from his businesses, DDT still makes money around the world with over $130 million in foreign assets and positions, assets, trademarks and other business interests in more than 30 countries. Information about this may be minimal because he provides only an annual disclosure form for last year with wide ranges for transactions, income, and property values. After a promise that he would pursue “no new deals” after his inauguration, DDT garnered new income by opening new properties since 2017. He also promised to donate all profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, but there is no indication that he has done so. The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution prevents government members from receiving gifts and other benefits from foreign states or leaders without congressional approval—which DDT doesn’t have. This source gives detailed descriptions of business affairs in 25 countries, an interactive map, and amounts that foreign influence spending from ten countries. DDT owes a lot of world leaders a lot of favors.  

DDT just scored $5 million above the assessment of a Beverly Hills mansion to Indonesian billionaire and vice presidential candidate Hary Tanoesoedibjo at a tidy 93 percent profit over the purchase price in 2007.

With no evidence, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo blames Iran for attacks on two tankers, one owned by Japan and the other by Norway. He also has no proof that Iran perpetrated other recent attacks. These incidents occur while DDT tries to keep control over declaring war from Congress. Before Pompeo’s claim, war hawk Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) used the tanker episodes as justification to sell U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval. DDT has announced that now is not the time for any diplomacy with Iran.

Iran just hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and relationships between the two countries have been friendly for decades. With unproved assertions by the U.S. federal leadership, it’s 2003 all over.

 

June 11, 2019

How to Create More Problems with Immigration

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) purged the Department of Homeland Security, many people blamed his aide, neo-Nazi Stephen Miller, for the firings. Even GOP senators were upset about Miller’s ascension in DDT Land: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called Miller the “guy behind the curtain.” Miller was behind DDT’s executive order banning Muslims from the United States and the family separation policy at the southern border. He crafted DDT’s anti-immigrant speeches, and his ideas mesh well with DDT’s bigotry toward people of color in an excuse of “law and order.”

During Miller’s high school at Santa Monica High School and college days at Duke University, he spread his philosophy of “Americanism,” especially in his push for English-speaking first. In a column for the college newspaper, he argued that multiculturalism threatens U.S. identity. In Washington, D.C., he worked for congressional members, such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) before he became senior policy adviser for DDT’s presidential campaign. Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during President George W. Bush’s administration, called Miller “the most notorious racist in the Trump White House.”

According to former DHS officials, Miller got rid of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen by leaking information about asylum seekers at the southern border to the Washington Examiner and then giving copies of the newspaper reports to DDT. Nielsen was joined in April DHS departures by Randolph Alles, director of the Secret Service, and the White House withdrawal of Ron Vitiello’s nomination for head of ICE. On June 1, Miller dumped Lee Cissna, Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) former staffer as head of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Pushing out Cissna irritates Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) because he, along with other establishment senators, hates DDT’s replacement, Ken Cuccinelli. Cissna is a knowledgeable immigration hawk; Cuccinelli has only loyalty to DDT. Under Cissna, his department created systems to delay approvals and increase denials for immigrants, participating in DDT’s attempt to get rid of DACA and sunset Temporary Protected Status designations for several countries. Cissna was in charge of cracking down on asylum-seekers that returned thousands of them to Mexico where they remain in danger.

DDT needs Republican senators, including McConnell, to get Cuccinelli confirmed, but the former Virginia AG has no experience in immigration law and regulation. He also leads the Senate Conservatives Fund with the goal of defeating incumbent Republicans in primaries. Two years ago, Cuccinelli signed a letter calling for McConnell to step down.

Cuccinelli does have experience in persecuting immigrants by restricting them access to public services, employment, and citizenship. In 2010, he supported the Arizona law permitting police to investigate the immigration status of any person stopped by law enforcement and issued a legal opinion expanding a policy to include any suspected undocumented immigrant in Virginia. In the state senate, Cuccinelli proposed a law allowing employers to fire employees who didn’t speak English in the workplace and deny them unemployment compensation. Another of his bills would permit businesses to sue competitors for economic damages if they believed the employers hired undocumented immigrants plus $500 “for each such illegal alien employed by the defendant.” In 2008, he encouraged Congress to call a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the 14th Amendment of the constitution by excluding citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants.

After trying to hide his anti-immigrant past during his lost run for governor, he appeared on conservative media advocating the militarization of the border and prevention of all immigrants from Central America. He also wrote an op-ed for the Washington Examiner to support the deployment of troops to the southern border.  

As AG, Cuccinelli crusaded against the Affordable Care Act and fought to keep Virginia’s sodomy law, struck down by the Supreme Court a decade earlier. Equating being gay with pedophilia, he started the website VAChildPredators and listed the names of everyoneone convicted of sodomy. Despite his claim to protect children, the anti-sodomy law was only for consensual oral or anal sex between adults—no matter what gender. The Supreme Court struck down his attempts.

In other attacks on LGBTQ people, he fought to keep same-gender couples from adopting and tried to eliminate nondiscrimination protections in colleges and universities. If he heads immigration and citizenship, he can continue to block children born overseas to same-gender parents from becoming citizens. His appointment will be the destruction of same-gender families and death sentences for LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Cucinelli also opposes all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s health. To Cuccinelli, any information about sexuality—even in higher education—is symptomatic of the “moral depravity that has crept across this commonwealth and this country.” The Catholic Church creates a “culture of dependency on government, not God,” according to Cuccinelli, because they want to care for the poor, immigrants, and uninsured. He ridiculed a Catholic diocese newspaper for putting these issues in its voter guides.

A vehement climate change denier, Cuccinelli frequently tells audiences to exhale carbon dioxide together to “annoy the EPA.” He investigated former University of Virginia climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann for fraud because Mann sought government funding for climate change research. Much of Cuccinelli’s funding came from fossil fuel companies that he inappropriately helped in coalbed methane extraction rights, according to a state judge and Virginia’s inspector general. He followed the “birther” conspiracy about President Obama’s birth place falsely being in Kenya and then asserted that the president was re-elected through voter fraud. At the site of the Virginia Tech mass shooting where 32 people were killed, he bragged about his NRA “A” rating.

In addition to Cuccinelli being a truly awful nominee, his appointment may be illegal. The 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that nominees to lead agencies must have had another federal government position in the executive branch, G-15 or above, for at least 90 days before the vacancy or in another Senate-confirmed role. DDT slipped Cuccinelli into a newly invented “principal deputy director” position to carry out his nefarious activities for at least two years as “acting” and not requiring confirmation.

Cuccinelli’s competitor, Kris Kobach, is even crazier than Cuccinelli. A few weeks ago, Kobach was a media joke for the demands he made for being “immigration czar”: access to a government jet 24 hours a day; an office in the West Wing; a staff of seven; walk-in privileges with DDT; Assistant to the President rank with commensurate high pay; security detail; face of DDT’s immigration policy; guaranteed weekends off for family time; orders that secretaries of DHS, Defense, Justice Ag, Interior, and Commerce immediately follow his directives without question; and the promise that he would be appointed DHS Secretary by November. Kobach wrote anti-immigration laws, used faulty computer software to suppress the vote, and acted as adviser to the even crazier former Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

To suppress the U.S. vote, Kobach led DDT’s “election” commission, disbanded in 2018. The same year, Kobach lost his run for Kansas governor to a female Democrat—in Kansas! Now he’s considering a run for U.S. senator after Pat Roberts plans to not run again. Republicans are so unhappy about the possibility that National Republicans said they will “make sure he doesn’t make it past the primary.”

DDT seems to be bringing undocumented immigrants to the southern border in far greater numbers than President Obama. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) holds DDT responsible. In April, he said:

“I called up all the folks I’ve been working with on this, what’s going on. They said, well, there’s a couple of small reasons and one big reason. The small reasons are the elections in Guatemala and better bus travel from southern Mexico to northern Mexico. But the big reason? As Trump rants about the border, so many people are saying, ‘I’m in this terrible situation; if I’m going to go, I’d better go now.’ It’s all Trump-generated.”

Numbers at the southern border have increased since then. DDT advertises his wall and announces elimination of aid to Central America to improve the political and economic conditions. In 2014, U.S. aid to El Salvador drove down violent crime in the country, and migration dropped. Since then, climate warming and rainfall decrease eradicates corn crops in Honduras and loss of agriculture in Guatemala. DDT’s rejection of climate change and its problems will mean more “climate refugees.” He also may be causing worsening economic conditions in Central America forcing refugees as a rallying point for his 2020 election. Illegal immigration fell for eight years under a Democratic president before it steadily rose after the Republicans took over all three branches of government.

In DHS’ and privatization’s latest failure, photos of airport passengers and other personal data including license plate information collected by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have been stolen in computer hacking. The surveillance facial-recognition program, sold by Amazon, has thus far been proved to be faulty, especially for women and people of color. The private firm Perceptics, most likely the target of the attack, is part of an initiative to verify identities of all travelers at the border. Just another evidence of encroaching authoritarianism in the United States.  

June 10, 2019

‘The Best [Corrupt] People’

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got elected, he frequently claimed that he would “surround myself only with the best and most serious people.” These “best people” have proved to be a disaster, even to DDT, and his phenomenal turnover means that at least 50 top officials left him within the past 16+ months since his inauguration.

Some of their names might not be well-known, but their disastrous influence remains. For example, leaving this past week was Kevin Hassett, chair of DDT’s Council of Economic Advisers and advocate of DDT’s tax cuts. Hassett said that his departure has nothing to do with DDT’s disastrous tariff decisions, but he questions a successful forecast in GDP growth for 2019 and is “very much concerned” about the growing fiscal deficit. Other departed economic advisers include Paul Winfree who came from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, Jeremy Katz who also pushed the tax cut bill, Dina Powell who worked with Ivanka Trump on “empowerment of women,” Gary Cohn who was formerly president and COO of Goldman Sachs who wasn’t happy with DDT’s blaming “both sides” in the neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville (VA) and left after dissatisfaction with DDT’s tariff policy, Everett Eissenstat who left to be GM’s senior vice president of global public policy, Clete Willems who dumped a job to negotiate with China to join a law firm public law and policy practice, and Linda McMahon who helped build World Wrestling Entertainment who did stay with DDT to chair one of his super PACs. And these are only some of the people in his economic world.

Staying, of course, is DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who seems to be charge of almost everything because he doesn’t have any other place to go. Almost totally silent for his first two years, he appeared two times in the past few weeks. One was testimony with hardliner neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in a closed Senate session about DDT’s new immigration plan. Kushner managed to avoid most questions and failed to provide solutions while frequently interrupted by Miller. Republicans publicly praised Kushner for the presentation of a merit-based system for the highest skilled people but privately said that he lacked clear answers. He said that immigrants would be required to pass a civics test to get access to the point system but then avowed that the central purpose is to unify immigrant families, including mothers and children. He couldn’t answer a question about what do to with undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. Because Kushner rejected the idea of DACA, GOP officials gave the immigration plan as much chance as Kushner’s peace plan in the Middle East—which is zero.

Kushner’s next performance, an interview with Axios, got a lot more media play: 

“Uh when there are things that they don’t do that we do not approve of, we we talk about that with them privately, but we feel like we’re in a position now where there’s a lot of interest that we have that are shared with them.”—about Kushner’s relationship with Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who tortured and dismembered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (After Kushner’s interview, DDT said he didn’t blame MBS for Khashoggi’s murder.)

“It’s a horrific thing that happened, and what we’ve done is we’ve called for full transparency.”—about whether the Saudis should return Khashoggi’s body for a proper burial.

“Look, I would not have come into government had there been anything salacious and nefarious that I was worried about.”—about the headline, “Background check chief has ‘never seen’ mistakes and omissions at level of Jared Kushner forms.”

“So, the answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years, then run for president and be a racist. And what I’ll say is that when a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country…. Like I said, I wasn’t involved in that.”—a statement that he made over and over about whether DDT is a racist, with the example that DDT continually claimed that President Obama was not born in the United States.

“Look, I think that the president did his campaign the way he did his campaign.”—about whether DDT’s campaign pledge to ban Muslims from the U.S. was “religiously bigoted.”

“It doesn’t make a difference.”—about the number of refugees permitted to settle in the U.S.

“I do think this is a terrible thing. Because you want people who have been successful in this country, who have taken advantage of the greatness of the opportunity that America provides, to go into government and to serve their country. When they get harassed and they have their companies looked at and their employees have to deal with this nonsense because people want to push a narrative, I think that’s a terrible thing.”—about whether Deutsche Bank should examine transactions moving cash from companies Kushner controls to Russians.

“[The meeting was] total waste of time, [and] we were not given anything that was salacious.”—about whether he should have called the FBI about Russian offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and whether he would call the FBI if it happened again.

“Look, I’m not here to be trusted.”—about why Palestinians don’t trust him in the peace negotiations.

Kushner owns part of real estate company Cadre that received $90 million in mysterious foreign funding since he became DDT’s senior adviser. The money was funneled from a Cayman Islands through Goldman Sachs. Kushner was refused a security clearance, but DDT demanded that he be given one.

Another Cabinet member is also being investigated for conflict of interest. Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary and wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has high-level political connections in China because of her family’s shipping company which helped both Chao and McConnell prosper. Part of Chao’s job is to promote U.S. maritime industry.

Chao’s father James S.C. Chao was once roommate with Jiang Zemin who became president of China. He founded Foremost Group, a New York-based shipping company in 1964 and received a big contract with the U.S. government to ship rice to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. In 1984, the Chao family acquired part of a Chinese-owned manufacturer of marine electronic equipment although they can’t remember the investment. With some of its ship-building financed by Chinese loans, Foremost ships over 70 percent of its freight, mostly iron ore, to China for steel manufacturing. DDT has temporarily lifted tariffs on imported steel. Chao’s Transportation Department has cut programs for U.S.-flagged ships and replacing ships to train U.S. mariners. Congress replaced the money, but Chao is still being questioned for her connections and status to boost Foremost’s reputation and visibility. In her confirmation hearings, she failed to mention her family’s deep ties to the Chinese maritime industry and her accolades China gives her, a violation of her questionnaire. Thirteen members of the Chao family donated over $1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and PACs. James Chao gave the couple at least $25 million.

McConnell himself also has problems with taking campaign money from Russians–$3.5 million from oligarch Oleg Deripaska. When DDT wanted to lift sanctions last year against mafia-esque Deripaska, Vladimir Putin’s friend, McConnell pushed the Senate into following DDT’s directions although the GOP House voted 362-53 to keep the sanctions in place. Lifting sanctions allowed Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal and its parent company En+ back into the U.S. Within four months of McConnell’s favor to Deripaska, who also worked with DDT’s convicted former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Deripaska’s Russian aluminum company Rusal sent $200 million for a $1.7 billion aluminum plant in northeastern Kentucky. Part of the action came from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), known for his ethical problems with prostitution. Vitter’s wife, one of DDT’s judicial nominees, was not been able to get confirmed for over 18 months—partly because she didn’t support Brown v. Topeka, the Supreme Court case that just celebrated its 55th anniversary for overturning public school segregation. Soon after Sen. Vitter told McConnell about brokering the deal to pour Deripaska’s money into Kentucky, wife Wendy Vitter was confirmed for her lifetime federal judicial term. And the payoffs are all out in the open, no need to hide any of the quid pro quo.

The husband/wife team work well together. Chao designated a special liaison, McConnell’s advance man Scott Inman in McConnell’s 2014 election, to help with grant applications and other priorities from the Transportation Department for McConnell’s state of Kentucky, providing him with at least $78 million for his projects as he runs for re-election in 2020. No other state has this advantage. Earmarks are supposedly no longer legal, but McConnell has found another way to funnel a large amount of money into his state as these details prove. As McConnell said, “All 100 senators may have one vote, but they’re not all equal. Kentucky benefits from having one of its own setting the agenda for the country.” And set it, he does.

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