Nel's New Day

July 2, 2019

Federal Appointment Replacements Worse for Democracy

Former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has left the White House for Arkansas after holding fewer briefings than during any of the previous five presidents’ terms—probably an average of one every other month. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told her last January not to bother to meet with press conferences. New Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, will do the job of not meeting with the press while staying on as spokesperson for Melanie Trump and becoming Communications Director, formerly Bill Shine.

Grisham cut her chops at the Korean DMZ Freedom House in an episode called “an all out brawl” with “body blows” as she elbowed and pushed a North Korean security guard. Her elegant diplomacy matches that of her employer when DDT pushed aside Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic at the 2017 NATO summit. 

Lying is another of DDT’s characteristic that Grisham emulates. She claimed that Melania Trump’s jacket stating “I really don’t care. Do U?” was just a jacket with no meaning before the First Lady said that it was “a message.” Trump said she wore it “for the people and for the left-wing media who are criticizing me. And I want to show them that I don’t care.” In July 2018, Grisham supported DDT’s false claim that he arrived in the UK on June 23, 2016, the day of the Brexit referendum, where he predicted the vote outcome. DDT wasn’t there until the next day. In his report, Robert Mueller documented Grisham’s serial lying.

Grisham has a strong anti-press background. As spokeswoman for the Arizona House of Representatives GOP, she implemented the policy banning reporters from the legislative floor if they “would not consent to extensive background checks.” The policy focused on Arizona reporter Hank Stephenson after he provided evidence that House Speaker David Gowan used state-owned vehicles for his congressional campaign and forced Gowan to return over $12,000 to the state. Misdemeanor trespassing was one reason for barring reporters because Stephenson pled guilty to the charge in 2014. Her policy lasted only a few days because some Republicans expressed concern and no member of the Phoenix press corps would sign the form. While a member of DDT’s transition team, Grisham did no work for Arizona but stayed on the state’s payroll.

In September 2018, Grisham was reprimanded for violating the Hatch Act that prevents White House employees from party-political activities. DDT promoted her with a raise in salary. 

In the EPA, one fossil fuel industry shill was traded for another. Bill Wehrum, formerly a lobbyist trying to destroy President Obama’s safeguards on polluters, could more easily do the job when he oversaw fossil fuel pollution regulations. Wehrum was confirmed with no Democratic votes to focus on “climate change, smog, and power plants’ mercury pollution.” Like his corrupt predecessor Scott Pruitt, Wehrum resigned after 19 months in the midst of a congressional investigation into his improperly helping his former industry clients after the media shined a light on his inappropriate activities. He slowed fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks as well as rewriting methods of calculating costs and benefits to favor fossil fuel requirements. He also wrote the way that more coal-fired power plants could open.

Wehrun’s lack of ethics followed those of other Cabinet members who resigned—EPA’s Schott Pruitt, HHS’ Tom Price, Interior’s Ryan Zinke, and VA’s Davi Shulkin—and FEMA’s William “Brock” Long.” Other current ethics investigations include Interior’s new Secretary David Bernhardt plus six current or former top appointees for behavior like that of Wehrum.

Although at least one climate activist literally danced after Wehrum’s departure, the replacement has not brought joy. Anne Idsal, Wehrum’s deputy assistant, will continue EPA’s destruction and fall in line with DDT’s deregulation. She belongs to the dark ages belief that “climate has been changing since the dawn of time” and has strong ties to the Bush-Cheney administration. Her family owns the ranch where VP Dick Cheney shot a friend in the face while hunting ring-necked pheasants. Her connections extend to George P. Bush, George W. Bush’s nephew, who cleared out 11 top staffers of the General Land Office after he was elected in 2014 to manage Texas’ oil and gas resources. Idsal was one of 29 people hired for Bush’s Land Office without the jobs being posted, and she has ties to industry associations and Exxon Mobil.

Having lost with Herman Cain and Stephen Moore, DDT plans to appoint Christopher Waller and Judy Shelton for the two empty Federal Board seats. Both conservatives want to lower interest rates, and DDT’s close friend and Fed-hater Shelton wants to return to the gold standard, abandoned by Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago.

With White House aide and neo-Nazi Stephen Miller in charge of DHS, chaos continues to reign in the department, designed to protect U.S. security, supports DDT’s politics. Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders for two months leaves after publicity of squalid living conditions for children at border stations that provide no child care, bedding, and hygiene items while submitting the children to sleep deprivation. Yet Sanders was fired because he wasn’t aggressive enough in blocking asylum seekers. In the past three months, DHS has also done away with its secretary (Kirstjen Nielsen), acting ICE chief (Ron Vitiello), acting deputy secretary (Claire Grady), and Citizenship and Immigration Services director (Lee Cissna). The House Oversight and Reform Committee ordered testimony on July 12 from DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Customs and Border Protection Commission Mark Morgan about the deplorable conditions for children held at the southern border. 

Hardliner Morgan, who claims that he can predict future gang members by looking into the eyes of children, left ICE after five weeks to replace Sanders. While head of ICE, Morgan pushed for raids to deport undocumented families. Earlier, McAleenan had opposed Miller’s directive to appoint Morgan head of Customs and Border Protection but caved under pressure. When Morgan disagreed with his boss, McAleenan, he circumvented him by going directly to DDT. Matthew Albence, ICE’s deputy director who was noted for saying that family detention centers are “more like a summer camp,” is now acting director of the agency. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/hamedaleaziz/ice-director-matthew-albence-trump-immigration-enforcement

DDT loves officials to be “acting.” Dana Milbank explains: 

“Without stature or protection of Senate confirmation [for officials] … allows Trump to demand absolute subservience from appointees. Because he can replace them at will, they don’t contradict him. But this tentative status also means they lack authority within their agencies and the stature to stand up to Trump when he’s wrong.”

An ”acting” official leads every major border- and immigration-related agency in DHS. DDT said, “I do burn out on people, I do.” McAleenan may be close to DDT’s burnout because of his more reasonable approach toward enforcing immigration, for example opposition to mass ICE raids rounding up migrant families, although he supported DDT’s separation of families.

DDT prefers Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia AG who lost his run for governor, as acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services with his record of climate crisis denial, anti-LGBT discrimination, opposition to women’s reproductive rights, censorship for safe sex information, obstruction to the Catholic Church’s care for vulnerable populations, blocks to all gun violence reduction efforts, and anti-immigration. Cuccinelli matches Miller in lack of human decency, for example blaming the man who died with his toddler daughter in the Rio Grande River because he wouldn’t wait for the asylum process. After waiting two months in Mexico for asylum, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez became desperate because of the punitive months-long waiting period.

The union representing federal works with asylum seekers criticizes DDT’s policies, specifically the one returning migrants seeking refuge to Mexico until decisions are made on their applications. In a court filing, the union wrote:

“By forcing a vulnerable population to return to a hostile territory where they are likely to face persecution, the [Migrant Protection Protocols] abandons our tradition of providing a safe haven to the persecuted and violates our international and domestic legal obligations.”

Less compassionate are the 9,500 current and former members of the Border Patrol who joke about the deaths of migrants on a secret Facebook group and share derogatory comments about Latinx lawmakers visiting a detention facility. Calling them “scum buckets” and “hoes,” agents joke about throwing burritos at them and posted a drawing of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) having oral sex with a detained migrant. Revelations about these agents, including at least one supervisor, follow an investigation into the hundreds of active-duty and retired law enforcement officers connected to extremist Facebook sources, including white supremacist and anti-government groups. House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) requested information from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the Border Patrol agents secret Facebook group with vulgar sexist and racist content mocking immigrants and congressional members.

After Ocasio-Cortez left one of the facilities, she said that she did not feel safe from the officers. Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings said, “Agents are under a great deal of stress.” After the Border Patrol agents’ Facebook group asked for protesters to come abuse legislators, Ocasio-Cortez needed an escort back to her vehicle. Border agents feel comfortable threatening everyone, including elected members of Congress. 

Welcome to the United States of America under DDT. 

April 26, 2019

DDT: Week 118 – Dementia from Stress?

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:18 PM
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Many people think the wandering speeches and tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) are used to provide diversion for the many lawsuits and investigations in all facets of his life. Yet his mental problems seem to be growing. His demented paranoia was on full display when Sean Hannity allowed him to host the Fox show last night—raving about the “coup” of the Mueller report to “overthrow the United States government,” the corrupt “top people” at the FBI, and the ways that Hillary Clinton “destroyed the lives” of people on DDT’s campaign. He proved himself an authoritarian, a dictator, operating outside the law, the Constitution, and the government. “I could have fired everybody. I could have fired Mueller. I could have fired anybody that I wanted to fire,” DDT said. He may even believe that about elected members of Congress.

Wednesday he gave a 40-minute speech at the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit that meandered into praise about dogs as one of two acceptable pets, Melania Trump’s dress on the day he announced his campaign, the “rigged system,” and his traditional diatribe about immigration.

This last week, Mexico described the actions it was taking in its commitment to immigration control of the border; the next day DDT said, despite no communication with the Mexican government, he was closing the southern border if they don’t do more. He also threatened to send “ARMED soldiers” to the border—despite his already sending soldiers there. The Pentagon resolved the situation in which Mexican soldiers stopped ICE agents and U.S. soldiers south of the border fence—that the Mexicans thought they were on Mexico land—but DDT won’t accept the decision. Attacks on Mexican soldiers would violate the Posse Comitatus law and be an act of war which only Congress can declare. DDT also told reporters that only he is in charge of immigration after asked if the neo-Nazi White House aide Stephen Miller would be the new DHS director.

For over two years, DDT has been desperate for a state visit to Britain despite disapproval from over 70 percent of the country’s population. This week he got his wish for an invite in June—the day before he retweeted the same type of message that lost him an earlier visit accusing “United Kingdom Intelligence of helping Obama Administration Spy on the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign.” The conspiracy theory came from DDT watching an interview with Larry Johnson on One America News Network, more extremely right-wing than the Fox network. DDT’s tweet caused George Conway, husband of White House official Kellyanne Conway, to use his hashtag #DerangedDonald” in response to DDT’s conspiracy theory.

DDT insisted that people always obey his orders at the White House Easter Roll, the same time that he explained to small children that he got more funding for the military, the economy is good, and DACA is bad. Yet people are fully aware that he was rescued from stronger cases of obstruction of justice because his officials refused his commands to kill Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, attack the Mueller probe, and other times his officials ignored DDT.

In a “secret” meeting with Twitter CEO, DDT protested the loss of Twitter buddies after the company shut down over 5,000 accounts connected to bots denouncing Robert Mueller’s investigation and lauding Saudi Arabia. Targeted to the U.S. audience, the fake accounts focused on hashtags such as #RussiaGate used by Sean Hannity and other far-right DDT supporters. DDT wants more followers because he has less than 60 percent of President Obama’s 100 million. Before the meeting, DDT tweeted an accusation that Twitter was playing “political games” with his follower count and called for congressional intervention against the company. DDT is fortunate that Twitter doesn’t ban white supremacist content the way it does most ISIS propaganda. Twitter cannot control this content because some of it comes from GOP politicians.

On Easter morning, DDT tweeted about the people killed in the Sri Lanka bombings and referred to the terrorist attacks “that have killed at least 138 million people.” That number is almost ten times the entire population of Sri Lanka and far more than the 207 people killed in the disaster.

In just 90 minutes last Tuesday, he tweeted at least eight angry insults at Nobel-prize winning Paul Krugman, New York Times, Democrats, CNN, Joe Scarborough, tariffs on Harley-Davidson, and Twitter itself. The night before, he retweeted 24 items from 15 people in 30 minutes.

DDT ordered his officials to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, scheduled for April 27. He is the first president to command officials to not attend the dinner and the first person to not attend since his inauguration except for Ronald Reagan who missed the event in 1981 while he recovered from an assassination attempt. DDT will be rallying his troops in Green Bay (WI) during the dinner. After DDT was upset about Michelle Wolff’s comedy last year, the press organization decided to use biographer Ron Chernow for a blander featured speaker in an effort to pander to DDT.

 (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images)

DDT has a lot to upset him:

Deutsche Bank is sending its financial records about loans made to DDT and his business to New York state’s attorney general. That probe started after DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen testified that DDT inflated his assets and gave copies of financial states provided to Deutsche Bank.

DDT’s best friends Kim Jong-Un and Russia’s president Vladimir Putin are meeting in Russia without DDT at a time when the North Korean president has cooled off on DDT. (They look happy together.) Another accusation against DDT comes from a $2 million bill that the U.S. received for the healthcare of Otto Warmbier, the captive who died soon after his release, who was unconscious for 15 of the 17 months of his imprisonment. Warmbier’s father said that the charge might be a ransom.

The House Judiciary and Oversight committees is investigating DDT’s purge of the DHS to determine if DDT’s neo-Nazi aide Stephen Miller orchestrated it. Former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen offended Miller and DDT by pointing out legal barriers to the continuing family separation plan. House Democrats are asked acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to give them communications about the officials’ departures and with Miller. DDT has already told Miller not to testify before a House hearing.

The news about the White House blocking former DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen from organizing cabinet secretaries for a strategy combating election interference in 2020 hit the headlines this week. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told her not to talk about the situation around DDT because it makes him feel bad although he denied doing so later. John Bolton’s reorganization of the National Security Council dropped the position of U.S. cyber-security czar.

Recently de-classified documents show that 32 years ago Australia turned down DDT’s bid to build a casino there because of his connections to “organized crime,” according to recently de-classified papers. The bid was also rejected for being “not financially viable.”

A federal court invalidated unconstitutionally partisan districts in Michigan and gave the legislature until August 1 to redraw the maps that must be used in the 2020 election.

A federal judge, who said that “lies went on for months,” told Flint (MI) residents they can sue the EPA for waiting too long to do something about the city’s water crisis.

A federal judge ruled DDT’s Interior Department acted illegally in trying to life a coal mining moratorium on public lands. Former Secretary Ryan Zinke failed to provide adequate environmental effects of mining in 2017. Within the coming months, the judge will issue another legal decision about reinstating the mining ban. The judge’s decision followed other rulings giving the EPA 90 days to decide whether to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to brain damage and overturning DDT’s executive order to life oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic coast.

DDT continues to babble about “no collusion” and “no obstruction,” but Congress doesn’t need crimes and demeanors to impeach him. He pretends he is innocent because Robert Mueller did not indict him, but the report states that he was not indicted only because of current DOJ guidelines for not indicting presidents.

DDT bragged about his 3.2 percent growth in GDP for the first quarter of 2019, he ignored February’s addition to the national debt of $234 million, the largest one-month deficit in history.

Joe Biden’s candidacy announcement featuring the neo-Nazi protest at Charlottesville (VA) in 2017 caused DDT to again defend white supremacists by claiming that they were just Civil War enthusiasts who “felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.” Lee was indicted for treason after he led a war against the United States. DDT did defend the white supremacists although he denied doing so. Biden didn’t get a lot of points from Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer who was killed by a neo-Nazi at the protest; he didn’t bother to tell Bro that he was using her daughter in his launch video. Bro said, “I don’t think we’ve seen him in town. It was just sort of a feeling of, ‘Well, here we go again.’”

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

February 27, 2019

U.S. House Keeps Busy Despite Jim Jordan’s Complaints

For people who have been watching the situation with former fixer Michael Cohen for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), his testimony today before the House Oversight Committee held few surprises. Points from today:

  • Republican committee members did not try to refute anything he said; they just tried to smear him.
  • The GOP smears against Cohen—that he’s a “pathological liar”—can also be said about DDT, the man who Republicans were defending.
  • Cohen said that he had tried to cover for DDT during the past ten years in the same way that Republicans are doing now.
  • With this comment about protection, he added, “The more people that suffer Donald Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I did.”
  • Reporters following DDT in Vietnam for his meeting with North Korea president Kim Jong-Un were banned from his presence after asking questions about the Cohen testimony.

Pieces of Cohen’s testimony that many people already assumed:

  • DDT is a “racist,” “conman,” and “cheat.”
  • Cohen quoted DDT as saying that black people were “too stupid” to vote for him and during a drive through a poor section of Chicago said that “only black people could live that way.” Cohen added, “The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries ‘shitholes.’ “In private, he is even worse.”
  • Cohen has checks (which he produced), evidence “as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud,” directed by his son and the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization Allen Weisselberg, to quiet a former adult film actor.
  • DDT told Cohen to lie about his affair with the actor to his wife, Melania.
  • Cohen said he presided over “several” “catch-and-kill” arrangements between David Pecker and DDT for the National Enquirer to purchase exclusive rights for stories damaging to DDT and then suppress the stories.
  • DDT inflated his wealth to appear on lists of rich people rich lists and falsely reduce it to avoid paying taxes.
  • To a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Cohen said that DDT’s tax returns would be helpful in showing how DDT sharply reduced his tax costs by undervaluing his parents’ real estate holdings.
  • Cohen believes that DDT’s tax returns were not being audited in 2016 although that’s what DDT claimed.
  • DDT told Cohen that he didn’t release his tax returns because he might get audited and face big taxes and penalties.
  • Roger Stone communicated with WikiLeaks for the release of hacked Democratic party emails during the 2016 presidential election.
  • DDT knew about the June 2017 Trump Tower meeting among members of his campaign with a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin to get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
  • DDT used his charity’s money to pay for portrait of himself after driving up the price to impress people.

Cohen finished his testimony by saying:

“Given my experience working for Mr. Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a peaceful transition of power.”

Cohen’s described DDT as a mobster-like president, who told Cohen to shortchange suppliers, keep schools from releasing his student grades by threatening them, and deal with negative media about DDT’s Vietnam War draft dodging. Cohen said he had probably threatened a person because of DDT’s instructions at least 500 times. “Donald Trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not make his country great,” said Cohen. “He ran to market himself and build his wealth and power.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is under investigation by the Florida Bar because of a tweet that appears to be an attempt to intimidate DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen the day before he started his open testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Gaetz’s tweet:

“Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), a former DA and federal prosecutor, asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Gaetz’s tweet because it “clearly defines witness tampering and intimidation.” Her request that could lead to an official investigation and possibly a reprimand, censure or fine. An expulsion would require a two-thirds majority of the House. Asked about why he wrote the tweet, Gaeta said, “The tweet speaks for itself.” Later he deleted the tweet and apologized for sending it.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) attacked Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) during the hearing, falsely accusing him of using his first hearing to start removing DDT from office. Cummings ended the session by talking about the committee’s earlier hearings. The first hearing was on January 29, 2019 concerned the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs; Cummings noted that a young man had died because of these escalating costs. He also told Jordan that they had a hearing on H.R. 1, which was about voter suppression and executive branch ethics. That one was on February 6, 2019. “We can do more than one thing,” Cummings said. “And we have got to get back to normal.” The GOP House was notable for not having hearings before votes.

Credibly accused of ignoring sexual abuse of athletes while he was assistant coach at Ohio State University, Jordan’s accusations of Cohen’s lying and lack of remorse rang hollow to many watchers. Jordan claimed that Cummings had “stacked the deck against the truth” and ranted about Hillary Clinton conspiracies, calling Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis a “Clinton operative.” Then he raged about Democrats doing what Tom Steyer tells them and that Steyer had organized a town hall in Cummings’ Maryland district.

Asked if he believed Cohen, Cummings referenced his history with the law when he said he found him “credible” and that it “appears” that DDT committed a crime. Cummings added, “I think that there are still a number of shoes to drop.”

The House has been far busier than Republicans might like. This week, representatives passed a resolution to overturn DDT’s emergency declaration that takes money for various sources to build his wall without congressional approval. Thirteen Republicans voted with Democrats in the 245-182 vote. According to law, the Senate will be required to vote on the House resolution within 18 days, a March 18 deadline. Three GOP senators—Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC)— have indicated they will vote for the House bill, and others are questioning the sensibility of the national emergency, especially if a future president is a Democrat. Two more GOP votes are needed for a simple majority if all Democrats and independents vote in favor of it. A veto from DDT for any bill passed requires two-thirds support in each congressional chamber.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), ranking member of the Committee on Rules, read a complaint about the lack of time for representatives to review the 70-word bill although Republicans passed the $1.5 trillion, 1,097-page tax bill a few hours after it was completed.

The House also passed a bipartisan bill requiring all gun sellers to conduct background checks on firearm sales by a 240-190. With five GOP co-sponsors, the bill received eight GOP votes and lost two Democrat votes. It expands background checks on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet, and through classified ads. The bill is the first significant gun control vote since the Senate failed to pass similar bipartisan legislation in 2013. Another bill is due for a vote that would extend the review period on gun sales.

Yesterday, the House Oversight Committee voted to subpoena the departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services for documents about the separation of families at the southern border. Cummings said that the documents submitted to the committee were not sufficient and failed to answer committee questions. Two Republicans, Justin Amash (MI) and Chip Roy (TX), voted with Democrats for the subpoenas. Again Jordan attacked Cummings, saying: “You just wanted to be first.” Cummings pointed out that the request was the same as the bipartisan request from eight months ago.

Other House actions:

The House is doing a lot to make Jim Jordan angry.

February 20, 2019

First Amendment Contorted by Love for Saudi Arabia, Clarence Thomas

Remember Jeff Bezos? For a week, the media focused on his “junk,” his battle with the National Enquirer, and his search for the person who ripped off his photos and documents such as texts and emails. Turns out that the guilty person is Bezos’ girlfriend’s gay brother. Then Bezos generated more media buzz when he pulled the Amazon headquarters from New York City, much to the disgust of some and delight of others.

The Bezos scandal highlighted the tie between the Enquirer and the Saudi government through Bezos’ letter to AMI, the owner of the tabloid. In its mandate that Bezos state he had “no knowledge” that the Enquirer’s coverage of his affair was “politically motivated or influenced by political forces,” people guessed that the issue was Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). David Pecker, AMI’s owner and DDT’s close associate, had an immunity deal with the DOJ for their criminal suppression of stories about DDT during his campaign, paying people for stories and then not printing them. Karen McDougal’s alleged affair with DDT was one of these articles that were killed before the election.

But Pecker may wanted the Washington Post, owned by Bezos, to stop printing negative news about Saudi Arabia. Pecker used his ties with DDT to cultivate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for business opportunities, including borrowing money to buy major publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine, Fortune, and Money.  magazine. AMI’s 97-page glossy propaganda about Saudi Arabia and featuring MBS on the cover sold at Walmarts across the nation as part of Pecker’s pandering.

Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. resident and journalist, worked for the WaPo, and his writings were highly critical of MBS. Before the Saudis tortured and dismembered Khashoggi, MBS had said that he would use a “bullet” on Khashoggi if he got the chance, according to WaPo reporting. On the same day the Wall Street Journal wrote that MBS was actively enlisting U.S. media outlets to remake his image in the West and met with Vice Media co-founder Shane Smith on a yacht to discuss “an international media empire to combat the kingdom’s rivals and remake its image in the West.”

“For reasons still to be better understood, the Saudi angle seems to hit a particularly sensitive nerve,” Bezos wrote. Former longtime Enquirer editor Jerry George said that Pecker was using Bezo’ damaging photos and documents as bargaining chips. As the story unraveled, Pecker failed because Bezos refused to give into blackmail. George cited AMI’s pro-Saudi propaganda as “suspicious” because the company was “cash poor” and “suddenly” got an “influx of cash.” He suggested that “there’s another shoe to drop,” referring to Robert Mueller’s investigation into “the Saudis’ role in all of this.” A restriction of AMI’s immunity included the company staying out of politics, and WaPo revealed that the company may not have lived up to its promises.

Last year, AMI contacted the DOJ to see if the company should register as a foreign agent but said that it didn’t get any Saudi funding for their Saudi propaganda. The DOJ said probably not, but AMI wrote that a Saudi adviser submitted content for its publication and then made changes to the final version after receiving an early draft. AMI’s extortion of Bezos has brought its relation to the Saudis has brought the issue back into visibility.

DDT, who denied his own intelligence showing that MBS was responsible for Khashoggi, now faces an investigation by House Democrats about DDT’s illegal push to sell nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia over objections by national security officials and attorneys, a plan that may have directly benefited his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Despite warnings of “potential conflicts of interest, national security risks and legal hurdles” in 2017, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and other DDT employees push for the sales. DDT plans to bypass Congress with an illegal technology transfer that can spread nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pled guilty of lying to the FBI, was an early advocate for these sales after DDT’s inauguration and recommended that Barrack, who raised $107 million for DDT’s corrupt inaugural committee, be a special representative to carry out his nuclear plan. Appearing to be from DDT, a memo told federal agencies to do Barrack’s bidding.

The House reports Flynn’s working with retired military officers to circumvent U.S. law. After he resigned, the National Security Council continued with its plan in opposition to advice from its own ethics counsel. The next adviser, H.R. McMaster, said that the illegal work must stop, but McMaster left almost two months ago. Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation has examined the possibility of Middle Eastern monarchies financially influencing DDT’s political activities, starting with his presidential campaign. Congress has not look at claims about the nuclear sales until this year because of GOP control.

In more First Amendment issues, the Covington Catholic High School (KY) teenager who appeared to harass Nathan Phillips, a Native American elder and veteran, is suing WaPo for $250 million. The defamation lawsuit alleges that the newspaper “engaged in a modern-day form of McCarthyism” and “wrongfully targeted and bullied” the “innocent child” Nick Sandmann. According to his lawyers, Sandmann is suffering from “the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life.”

The lawsuit reads like a political polemic:

“[The Post wanted to advance its well-known and easily documented, biased agenda against President Donald J. Trump (“the President”) by impugning individuals perceived to be supporters of the President…. [The Post’s coverage was] in furtherance of its political agenda … carried out by using its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles which effectively provided a worldwide megaphone to Phillips and other anti-Trump individuals and entities to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the President.”

Earlier this month, the Sandmann lawyers sent letters warning litigation to over 50 media organizations, celebrities, and politicians. As the wealthiest man in the world, WaPo owner Jeff Bezos has the most money and is considered DDT’s biggest media enemy, and the $250 million is the same amount that Bezos paid for the Post in 2013. Nick’s parents, Ted and Julie Sandmanns, say they want to “teach the Post a lesson it will never forget.” They argue that Nick is not a public figure, lowering the bar for winning their lawsuit.

While Nick was described as a “child,” the lawsuit calls Nathan Phillips “a phony war hero” who “targeted and bullied” Sandmann. Phillips said that Sandmann and his peers from Covington surrounded him after he tried to stop possible violence between them and a few Hebrew Israelites. About Sandmann’s comment on the Today show, Phillips used the terms “insincerity, lack of responsibility”—“coached and written up for him.” About the encounter, Phillips said that he was trying to get out of an ugly situation. “That guy in the hat [Sandmann] stood in my way, and we were at an impasse.” Phillips added, “Then I went to go pray about it …. I forgive him.”

The Sandmanns may find support in their war on freedom of the press from Supreme Court Clarence Thomas. He hopes to attack the media through his proposal to reconsider the 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan which determined that public figures must have greater proof to claim libel. Thomas’ “roadmap” to  helping DDT’s change in libel laws permitting him to sue news organizations came after Thomas and his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas had dinner with DDT and his wife Melania Trump. Trump’s pledge to change libel laws so he can sue news organizations for their reporting.

Last Tuesday, Thomas expressed concern about the high court’s refusal to hear an appeal from Katherine McKee, who claimed Bill Cosby’s lawyer leaked a letter that distorted her background and damaged her reputation after she claimed that Cosby raped her. Lower courts cited the Times v. Sullivan precedent in dismissing her case with the justification that disclosing her accusation required her to meet a higher libel standard of malice that applies to public figures. The decision to not take the case was unanimous, but Thomas wrote a sole opinion that the 1964 case was wrongly decided.

Since 1964, public officials can sue for libel only if the person responsible for the statement knows that the statement is false or if the person recklessly disregarded its falsehood. Subsequent Supreme Court cases have added all public figures to public officials to protect journalists and media organizations from intimidation by wealthy and/or powerful public figures wishing to exploit minor errors in reporting. That Supreme Court decision protect the media reporting on Thomas sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Thomas, who claims to be an originalist, following only the word of the U.S. Constitution and not its meaning, said, “We should carefully examine the original meaning [of the First Amendment.]” An early interpretation of this right, as shown by the first Sedition Act in 1798, was that the government could punish any published story, and the Sedition Act still exists. If the Supreme Court supports Thomas, the First Amendment could disappear.

February 16, 2019

DDT: Week 108 – On Top of ‘Wall’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 30, 2019

The U.S. National Crisis – DDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons against DDT’s Venezuelan coup:

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 17, 2019

Shutdown ‘Crushed’ DDT; Barr Follows GOP Line

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:41 PM
Tags: , , ,

Day 17 of the government shutdown: “We are getting crushed,” Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. He wasn’t talking about the shutdown; he was complaining about the polls. A majority of people in the United States continues to blame DDT for the shutdown. In December, DDT said he would take credit for the shutdown, and now people agree. Nate Silver, usually the cheeriest of analysts about DDT’s polls, presents polls demonstrating how the shutdown is dragging down DDT’s approval.

DDT loves polls that favor him so much that he had former fixer Michael Cohen arrange to “rig online polls in his boss’s favor” before the 2016 elections. John Gauger, CIO of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and owner of Redfinch Solutions, failed to get DDT into the top 100 business leaders in a CNBC online poll in 2014 but moved DDT into the top five potential GOP candidates in 2015 on the Drudge Report. Gauger claims that he wasn’t paid the promised $50,000 although Cohen gave him a Walmart bag with $12,000 to $13,000 in cash plus a boxing glove Cohen claimed had been worn by a Brazilian mixed-martial arts fighter. Cohen claims that his poll rigging was done “at the direction of and for the sole benefit of” DDT. When DDT claims that polls are rigged, he has proof.

In a 222-195 vote, House Republicans failed to pass a bill proposed a bill to pay furloughed workers—for doing nothing—but keep the government shutdown. Yesterday, the House passed its sixth bill for a continuing resolution to reopen the government. Congress did pass a bill into law to pay federal employees, both those working without pay and those furloughed, after the shutdown, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to address opening the government by claiming that to the Senate floor because he won’t present any bills that cannot pass. Today, however, McConnell presented an anti-abortion bill that has zero chance of passing Congress at this time. The measure makes the Hyde Amendment permanent, prohibits abortion in federal health facilities including veterans’ hospitals, and bans subsidized health plans from providing abortion coverage.

Pandering to parts of his base, DDT brought back furloughed workers—with no pay—to process IRS refunds, inspect foods, and expedite farm loans. He is also staffing refuges for hunters, paying more State Department employees, and helping a friend by providing paid workers to process forms for mortgages. Acting AG Matt Whitaker also gave a political speech to the Heritage Foundation in conflict with shutdown guidelines.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) asked DDT to postpone his State of the Union address scheduled for January 29, citing security concerns for protecting the Congress, members of the executive branch, and U.S. Supreme Court justices gathered in one place. DDT cannot deliver his speech to the large audience without Pelosi’s invitation. She suggested that he give the speech in the Oval Office or submit it to Congress in writing. DDT needs Pelosi’s invitation to come to the House. cannot deliver his speech to the House without Pelosi’s invitation. DDT is now asking McConnell if he can go to the Senate.

In retaliation, DDT announced that he postponed Pelosi’s seven-day classified trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan by denying military transport because of the shutdown lack of security. A small contingent of House members were on the way to the airport when DDT told Pelosi could use commercial flights for the highly secret journey that he called a “public relations event.” Melania Trump left on military transport for a vacation at Mar-a-Lago soon after Pelosi’s business trip was canceled. The trip was for six days, and Pelosi was not planning to go to Egypt. Her stop in Brussels was to reassure top NATO commanders about the U.S. staying with the alliance. In Afghanistan, Pelosi planned to visit with members of the military as DDT and GOP House members did after the shutdown as well as to get national security and intelligence briefings. Pelosi is third in line for the presidency.

Barr confirmation:

While DDT sits and fumes, his nomination for DOJ AG, Bill Barr faced two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are some of his responses:

Barr said that he would like to pursue an investigation into the conservative conspiracy theory that a Russian energy nuclear agency donated to the Clinton Foundation to get Hillary Clinton’s approval for is purchase of a uranium mining company. The situation has been thoroughly investigated and debunked.

Asked if he has concerns about how DDT undermines society’s institutions, Barr defended DDT’s repeated use of the term “witch hunt” about Robert Mueller’s investigation and said, “We have to remember that the president is the one who has denied that there’s any collusion and has been steadfast in that. Presumably he knows facts [we don’t]. . . .”

DDT has the power to pardon a family member, according to Barr.

Barr sees “no reason” to change policy not to indict a sitting president.

About birthright citizenship, Bar said that he couldn’t give an answer about whether the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. The amendment states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” DDT has promised to end birthright citizenship through an executive order.

When asked about what the DOJ should know about senior officials who have business relationships with foreign interests and governments, specifically DDT, Barr talked about how members of Congress didn’t need background checks and concluded that “business [relationships] with a foreign interest is not ordinarily a counter-intelligence concern.”

At the end of detailed and specific questioning about whether he would go against ethics officials’ recusal advice, Barr said he would ignore the advice if he disagreed because of a “different judgment of the facts.” He criticized former AG Jeff Sessions because he “locked himself into” following recusal advice from ethics officials at the Justice Department.

Barr said that Mueller’s report didn’t need to be public, but he would issue his own summary of its findings—through his own filter.

According to Barr, there should be a federal law that “prohibits marijuana everywhere.” He also defended his past push for “more incarceration.”

Asked if the DOJ will jail reporters for “doing their jobs,” Barr said he can “conceive of situations” in which a journalist could be held in contempt if a news organization “knows they are putting out stuff that will hurt the country.”

Barr wants a “barrier system” on the border and connected it to the drugs that actually come through the ports of entry. In declaring that, he used the dehumanizing language of “illegal aliens.” He claimed that so-called “sanctuary cities” encourage criminals to come to the U.S., wants to process asylum seekers without letting them into the country, and supports DDT’s “wall or nothing” shutdown. While AG for George H.W. Bush, Barr’s aggressive “law and order” agenda on both immigration and street crime surprised even Republicans. DDT’s immigration actions are patterned after those of Barr in the early 1990s. Barr has a history of supporting the violation of human rights: discriminatory profiling; secret military trials; unchecked security power; bans on asylum seekers; and separation of parents from children.

DDT’s Muslim ban was about national security, according to Barr; therefore, he supports using non-Christian religious beliefs for discrimination.

Barr was “shocked” by the text messages of former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, private conversation that criticized DDT but did not conspire against him or use their positions against DDT. With no indication that Bruce Ohr orchestrated the Christopher Steele dossier, Barr said he was bothered by Ohr’s “connection,” an echo of DDT’s comments.

Asked about DDT rescinding guidelines protecting transgender students from school discrimination, Barr said he didn’t understand the question. Barr also believes that the law doesn’t ban discrimination against LGBTQ people.

In perhaps his most gobsmacking response, Barr said, “I can’t tell you what the Emoluments Clause means.” Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the US Constitution:

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of Amy kind whatever from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

It means that DDT can’t legally take money from foreign officials—as he’s been doing because they pay him to stay in his hotel. The governments of DC and Maryland have standing to sue DDT for violating the clause with proof because a manager of DDT’s New York hotel claims that it had a turnaround from the Saudi Arabia’s government business. The shutdown has put court cases on hold. Maybe Barr will learn about the Emoluments Clause by the end of the shutdown.

Bill Barr was the DOJ AG who pardoned all the conspirators of the Iran-Contra Scandal, getting President George H.W. Bush out of legal problems, opposes Mueller’s investigation, and believes that the president is above the law. Barr thinks that the president can use military force without congressional authorization. He opposes Roe v Wade and net neutrality. Senate Republicans will confirm him in a heartbeat.

December 28, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 16, 2018

‘War on Christmas’ Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other signs of the GOP/DDT war on Christmas:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

December 9, 2018

‘War on Christmas’ Returns

Thanksgiving is over, and the stores have filled with winter holiday decorations. Time for the “War on Christmas.” Fox network Sean Hannity opened his salvos in the war in all caps warning that “CHRISTMAS IS UNDER SIEGE.” He went far beyond protesting a greeting of “Happy Holidays” or a lack of Christmas items in retail stores to lambast a Massachusetts church that used a figure of baby Jesus in the Nativity scene behind a fence, pointing out what would have happened 2,000 years ago if the family faced the same problems as current refugees. Church leaders hoped that the display “will provoke conversations about how immigrants are being treated at the U.S.-Mexico border, including the controversial separation of children from their parents.”

Hannity warned his audience that they might not want their children to see an image of a doll in a cage although he lacked similar reservations about showing photographs of real children in cages. Laura Ingraham continued the barrage on her show after Hannity, and her guest, Dan Bongino finished Ingraham’s segment by exclaiming, “Friends don’t let friends mess with baby Jesus!” Earlier this year, Ingraham called the separation of migrant children from their parents as a summer camp.

On Christmas Day, white right-wing Christians join others in celebrating the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian, while they celebrate the mass slaughter of Palestinians by Israelites. He came from the town of Nazareth in Galilee in the northern territory of Palestine and spoke Aramic. Israelites began the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians in 1000 BCE, a process that is continued in current times. One story of Jesus’s birth describes the family’s flight as refugees from the genocidal infanticide of King Herod.

More than 100 migrant children continue to be separated from their parents seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border after last summer’s purge and remain in custody, sometimes in abusive situations. Despite DDT’s claim that he has stopped separating families, any vague or unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing of minor violations against parents are currently used to resume the separation process as a deterrent to asylum seekers. DOJ asserts that a court order does not require them to report these new separations to the ACLU.

Bill O’Reilly, gone from the Fox network because of expensive consequences for his sexual misconduct, brought the “war on Christmas” to media’s forefront in 2005. Chauncey DeVega, politics staff writer for Salon, theorizes about reasons for conservatives’ obsession with the subject. A half-century ago, history Richard Hofstadter pointed out that the conservative movement employ emotional appeals for manipulation and control of political power of its anti-intellectual audience who are prone to belief in conspiracy theory that lack any factual basis. The GOP and conservative control of the Fox network content provide effective state propaganda that conditions viewers to believe falsehoods.

Conservatives use their form of Christianity to weaponize religion by falsely purporting that liberals, gays, Muslims, atheists, “secularists,” and any other “enemy” oppresses white Christians, the most powerful and dominant group in the United States. The “war on Christmas” comes from white identity politics designed to make white right-wing Christians control all other groups.

University of Oregon sociologist Randall Blazak, a leading expert on the neo-Nazi and white supremacist movement who gained his information from infiltrating neo-Nazi skinheads and other white supremacist hate groups, discussed this movement. According to Blazak, the white working-class men have lost their picture of the American Dream through the demographic changes during the last half century which has made others more equal to them. They perceive this growing equality as a loss of status from the 1950s when white males reigned supreme.

The Tea Party, which took over Congress in 2010, holds similar false narratives to white supremacists—President Obama as the Muslim outsider, the media as “enemy of the people,” desire for Christian control of the nation—ideas that evolve into violence. White supremacists told the murderer of nine people in a black Charleston church that he couldn’t get a date because black men were taking white women, and the killer’s actions progressed from that fear. The simplistic world view for white supremacists is that if other people gain, then they are losing. It’s their job to take back the country through violence.

The simplistic view of these people is the importance of saying “Merry Christmas” to suppress the multiculturalism taking over the United States. Supporters of the “war on Christmas” concept lack the skills or refuse to develop ones to cope with social change.

Fundamentalist Christians continue to boycott stores in their “war on Christmas”: Target for allowing transgender people to use bathrooms (although the Liberty Council also complains that Target doesn’t make Christmas its main advertising focus); Barnes & Noble for losing “focus on the Reason for the season”; Burlington Coat Factory for “severe lack of Christmas advertising with biblical meaning”; and Lord & Taylor (“reindeers and Santas hide the love of the Nativity”). Nothing yet about Starbucks not putting the word “Christmas” on its cups and J. Crew for not using nativity scene clipart to sell sweaters.

In accordance with the freedom of religion laws, the Chicago chapter of the Temple of Satan put up its celebration of the holidays in the Illinois state capitol. The four-foot sculpture of a snake coiled around an outstretched arm holding an apple sits between a Christmas tree and a menorah. The plague reads “Knowledge Is the Greatest Gift.” In previous years, the building has hosted a “Festivus” pole, a fictional holiday from the TV sitcom Seinfeld. The mission of the Temple of Satan is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people.”

Last year, 90 percent of people in the U.S. said they celebrate Christmas, but only 46 percent do so in a religious way—a drop of almost ten percent from 51 percent just four years earlier.

This year, Starbucks seems to have avoided the political accusation that its cups show a “war on Christmas.” Or maybe people are just tired of complaining that the cups aren’t Christmasy enough. Four lovely cups feature red stripes, red and white flames, mistletoe-like coffee cherries, and stars—all pagan designs. Lest we forget, Christmas evolved from a rowdy pagan winter celebration and was banned by the Puritans who settled America. Now it’s a patriotic holiday in which God is wrapped in the U.S. flag. And the White House celebrates it in blood red.

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