Nel's New Day

August 4, 2020

DDT, GOP Threaten U.S. People

The news keeps coming, fast and furious. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) says he’s suing Nevada for its legislation to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the state just like five other states do. DDT finished an angry tweet, “See you in Court!” At DDT’s direction, the RNC protested the new law. The RNC chair said Republicans came out in full force to oppose the state’s new voting system. Eighteen people showed up. Remember when Republicans claimed a belief in states’ rights? [Visual – Protests states rights]

Social distancing takes on new meaning for senatorial candidates as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) threw Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) under the bus with the new stimulus bill and McConnell told GOP candidates they can “distance” themselves from DDT. DDT’s mismanagement in the economy, the loss of relief money, the ending of evictions’ moratoria, “unjust civil” courts, and his insistence that schools reopen despite the vast majority of people opposing it are a few of the problems candidates will face when they go home for over a month in August.

A sacred part of the stimulus bill to McConnell is preventing employees from suing for problems from COVID-19, but DDT said he’s willing to drop the “liability shield” as part of the next bill. Calling this part of the bill a “red line,” McConnell said that he won’t bring up a bill that doesn’t include this “protection” for employers, hospitals, and schools. Democrats maintain that the provision would allow employers the ability to endanger workers with no repercussion. McConnell is also fighting against DDT’s wish for an extension of unemployment benefits which expired last week.

DDT created more troubles today when he whined at the press conference (aka campaign rally) that Democrats want funding for “Democratic-led cities and states.” “We don’t think that’s fair,” he said. Democrats have not limited funding for just Democrats. GOP senators rejected last week’s stimulus bill so Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and DDT’s chief of staff Mark Meadows are leading the talks. Congress is scheduled to leave Washington DC this Friday until September. Stephen Moore told DDT to stop collecting payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, another prime DDT desire, by declaring a “national economic emergency.” Moore didn’t explain how less revenue for the U.S. would solve an economic crisis.

Forty-five percent of GOP senators—including McConnell—are running for reelection this year, and DDT’s rosy response about the rapidly growing number of infections and deaths, especially in red states throughout the South and Midwest, have put them in a box. Unfortunately for these candidates, DDT stays popular with his GOP base. These GOP senators are in danger of losing: Susan Collins (ME), Steve Daines (MT), Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), Martha McSally (AZ), Dan Sullivan (AK), and Thom Tillis (NC). Many people also hope that McConnell might not get reelected. Democrats need only four more senators for a majority, and only Doug Jones (D-GA) is at risk of not being reelected.

At DDT’s White House campaign rally today, he said that the USPS can’t handle mail-in ballots. This is after he guaranteed his new appointments would slow down mail delivery. All he has accomplished thus far is make Republicans afraid to mail in their ballots. In a swing state, only 15 percent of Republicans requested absentee ballots. At least 77 percent of U.S. voters can use the mail to vote, but DDT is convincing his base that this system is “rigged” and “fraudulent.”

A few weeks ago, Republicans in Michigan burned absentee ballot applications to protest voting by mail. “Operation Incinerator” took place in the streets of Grand Rapids (MI). They also complained about the cost of mailing applications ($4.5 million from the federal government) without mentioning the $100+ million the federal government paid for a worthless letter from DDT, giving himself credit for the $1,200 checks provide by taxpayers.  

The smell from DDT’s appointment, Anthony Tata, for undersecretary of defense for policy was so bad that even GOP senators couldn’t hold their noses long enough to confirm him. So DDT gave him an acting appointment. He’s DDT’s kind of guy with his Islamophobic comments, references to President Obama as a “terrorist leader” and Muslim, descriptions of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) as “violent extremists,” and the addition of “#liberalplanation” hashtag to his tween about CNN’s Don Lemon. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, known to groups such as veterans as “Yesper,” originally appointed Tata to another job that allowed him to be moved into the current one.

Days after DDT announced a ban on TikTok social media sharing app, he said that it could do business if it were purchased by a U.S. company such as Microsoft by September 15. The “favor” for the purchaser is their putting a “substantial” amount of money into the U.S. Treasury, blackmail—or maybe bribery—for them to obtain the rights. DDT referred the payment as “key money,” illegal in many states and situations.

Brazil news reported U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman wants a favor—Brazilian officials helping DDT’s reelection by lowering ethanol tariffs. News reported out Chapman’s letter explained, “Iowa is the largest ethanol producer in the United States…and could be a key player in Trump’s election. Hence the importance … for the Bolsonaro government to do the U.S. a favor.” According to he publication Estadão, government officials refused. If true, Chapman’s actions would violate the Hatch Act preventing federal employees from partisan political activities. Chapman’s term “favor” mirrors DDT’s request to Ukraine. The State Department tried to hide the illegality by claiming that the requests for a general policy of getting Brazil to lower tariffs, not related to a political campaign. Remember when GOP senators voted against impeaching DDT because he had “learned his lesson”?

Fox host Chris Wallace asked DDT’s campaign adviser Jason Miller if foreign governments gave DDT information about Joe Biden. Miller avoided answering by saying it was a “silly question” and moving onto false accusations about the Hillary Clinton campaign receiving foreign assistance. Miller also refused three times to respond whether DDT’s campaign would reject election assistance from a foreign government. DDT has already said in another interview that he wants foreign government help in defeating Biden.

Last week, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY) asked Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) at a House Intelligence Committee meeting if he had received anti-Biden information from a Kremlin-linked Ukrainian source. Nunes wouldn’t answer. ABC reporter asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) if he relied on pro-Russia Ukrainian information. Johnson cited “information from a variety of sources.” GOP senators consistently oppose legislation requiring campaigns to report foreign elections to the FBI.

For almost four years, DDT promised a healthcare plan program. On July 19, he told Fox anchor, “We’re signing a health-care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health-care plan.” That deadline expired yesterday with no replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Only DDT sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seems to know anything about a plan, and he was vague. In June, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said a new healthcare plan would be developed only if the Supreme Court overturned the ACA this coming year. 

DDT’s Census Bureau is cutting door-knocking for 2020 a month early on September 30 after his plan to not count undocumented immigrants went sour. The result will be a serious undercount: only 60 percent of households have responded to the census and no one knows how long people can report online. The census is vital to establish shares of congressional seats; Electoral College votes; and funding for Medicare, Medicaid and other public services. Cutting down on the time will satisfy DDT’s desire for overrepresentation of white, non-Latinx population.

The GOP convention has moved back to Charlotte (NC) although DDT had said he would never be nominated there. An oddity, however, is  the press possibly denied attendance. Even Republican delegates wonder what the RNC is hiding. With fewer than three weeks to go, the RNC has not released details about convention programming.

The Friday night news dump, designed to minimize embarrassing information, put out the extensive conflicts of interest for DDT’s advisers Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Last year, their companies holding residential and commercial properties earned $36.2 million to $157 million, at least up $7 million from the minimum of $29 million in 2018.

People in the United States may perceive the media as biased, but 84 percent in a recent Gallup poll agreed news media is “critical” or “very important” to democracy. Yet 92 percent ensure people provide accurate and fair news reports, 91 percent ensure people are informed about public affairs, and 85 percent hold leaders accountable for their actions.

The godly Jerry Falwell, DDT supporter and head of Liberty University, published this photo of himself and and a woman while on vacation. DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen supposedly helped the Falwells deal with a leak of sexually revealing photos, and photographs of Falwell at a nightclub have been published. These are activities banned for his ultra-Christian university students and staff. 

 

August 3: In the world, 18,447,759 people have been infected by coronavirus, and 697,245 have died of the disease. The number of deaths will surpass 700,000 by tomorrow. The U.S. has 4,862,210 cases, due to hit over 5 million in less than three days, and 158,930 deaths, on the way to surpass 160,000 in a day.

July 28, 2020

Barr: ‘Not That I Remember’

Filed under: Executive action — trp2011 @ 11:38 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, AG Bill Barr confirmed to the free world that the United States is well on its way toward becoming an authoritarian nation. The U.S. attorney general supposedly supports the people of the United States, but his testimony further guaranteed he sees his sole purpose is protecting Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and the Department of Justice is no longer an independent agency.

The British publication Independent summarized Barr’s misconduct:

“Barr misrepresented the Mueller report; refused to pursue the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community’s Trump-Ukraine criminal referral; interfered in the criminal cases of President Trump’s allies; fired the US Attorney at the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman; ordered the brutal clearing of peaceful protestors at Lafayette Square for Trump’s bible-holding photo op; and made some controversial remarks about racism in America…

“He falsely called the “Russiagate” scandal ‘bogus,’ falsely claimed President Trump has never interfered in his work (Trump has done so publicly), defended unleashing brutality on protestors, and denied systemic racism in policing. As Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) would later say in this hearing, the statement ‘read like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone.’”

Barr’s testimony was marked by obfuscation, delaying, lying, and the repeated statement, “Not that I Remember.” [Horrible memory for a person who runs one of the most important agencies in the United States!] Samples of the hearing:

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) asked about the right-wing protesters occupying the Michigan Capitol where they “carried guns, Confederate flags, and swastikas, and call for the governor of Michigan to be beheaded and shot and lynched.” Barr said he didn’t know anything about it. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) pointed out Barr’s selective objections to protesting: the AG doesn’t mind when the protesters are armed right-wingers belligerently objecting to stay-at-home orders.

Barr claimed violent clearing of peaceful protesters in DC’s Lafayette Park was to move the perimeter, not for DDT’s photo-op. He also denied tear gas was used despite proof to the contrary.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked if Barr had ever recommended a reduced sentence for anyone other than DDT’s friends. Barr couldn’t remember anyone. Swalwell followed by asking why the DOJ told DDT’s former fixer Michael Cohen he would go back to solitary in prison if he didn’t sign an agreement to not write a book or speak to the media. Barr said he didn’t know anything about it.

Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked about systemic racism. Barr denied it existed.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) asked about excessive use of force primarily against Black people. Barr said that more Blacks were killed by other Blacks than by police officers.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) asked if president’s accepting or soliciting foreign assistance in an election is appropriate. Barr first said it “depends” on the assistance. Cicilline said “any kind”; Barr struggled and finally said no.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) questioned Barr about DDT’s response to the COVID-19 CRISIS. Barr said he needed “to see the context” when Jeffries quoted Barr describing DDT’s guidance as “superb.” About DDT’s suggestion that people treat the virus by swallowing disinfectants, Barr said, “That’s not what I heard.” He also repeated the debunked claims that President Obama had not replaced the PPE although DDT had three years and sent much of the supplies to other countries at the beginning of the pandemic.

Jeffries also asked Barr what he would do if DDT loses the election but refuses to leave office. Barr said, “If the results are clear, I will leave office.” He added he was “not familiar” with DDT’s comments on the issue.

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) questioned Barr about his lying in April when he said that “the White House fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation.” Barr answered, “Mm-hmm” before he said he meant only “the supplying of documents.” Neguse said that Barr knew when he made the statement DDT had not agreed to be interviewed by the special counsel, and Barr became visibly uncomfortable.  

Neguse continued with questioning Barr’s claim that former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had “stepped down” from his position. Barr laughed and answered, “He may not have known it, but he was stepping down. He was being removed!” Neguse told Barr he lied because the statement didn’t say Berman was being removed or fired.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) asked about the legality of advanced surveillance techniques—cell-site simulators, facial recognition, and sweeping surveillance of internet activity—on protesters. Barr answered, “I really can’t speak to those instances if they’ve in fact occurred.” The question was raised about whether Barr thinks DDT can have mass surveillance of protesters without congressional authorization. On July 21, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) wrote Barr and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe asking them to confirm that federal agencies stopped surveillance operations authorized under the now-expired FISA provisions.

Some of Barr’s statements attempting to defend his actions:

Referring to shortening Roger Stone’s sentence for lying under oath: “Do you think it’s fair for a 67-year-old man to be sentenced to prison for seven to nine years?”

About the acceleration of protesting in Portland (OR) by sending in untrained, violent federal agents: “What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States.”

Defending police killing of unarmed Black people: Barr said studies show “police are less likely to shoot at a black suspect, a little more likely to shoot at a white suspect.”

A fact-check on Barr’s statements from the conservative Oregonian:

Barr: There have been two months of violent protests and rioting in Portland. Both attendance and the level of violence have waxed and waned since May 28, and no one has consistently described the nightly groups as riots. The vast majority of the gathering is peaceful, and the federal courthouse became a target only when federal agents (aka DDT’s militia) were sent to Portland in early July. The protests escalated after a federal agent shot peaceful protester Donovan La Bella in the head.

Barr: Antifa is active in the Portland demonstrations. A variety of left-wing groups have participated in the protests, but they don’t collaborate. Recently large groups of mothers, dads, teachers, healthcare workers, lawyers, and veterans have identified themselves by their garb. Violence has come from far-right extremists, dressing in traditional antifa-appearing clothing.

Barr: Protests are being hijacked by violent demonstrators whose primary aim is to injure federal officers. Although federal agents disperse crowds without discrimination or warning, they seem to focus on volunteer medics. Protesters, including La Bella, have received high-profile injuries without provocation.

Barr: There are less than 100 federal officers deployed in Portland. The count is at least 114 federal agents, and several FBI agents are investigating protesters’ alleged criminal activity.

Six mayors from Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Albuquerque, and Kansas City (MO) sent a letter to Congress requesting legislation to block DDT’s “unacceptable, un-American, and unconstitutional” use of force. They wrote, “This provocation is resulting in direct physical harm to our communities and must end.” [Below: federal and local law enforcement collaborate.] 

Other cities are discovering the violence from right-wing extremists as DDT sends his militia across the country. Richmond (VA) police arrested six right-wing saboteurs carrying pro-BLM signs and breaking windows at downtown businesses. Boogaloo members wearing Hawaiian shirts to signify their push for a racial war have appeared in Minneapolis, Salisbury (NC), Bentonville (AR), Seattle, and Los Angeles. One of the members, arrested at a Denver protest, had a large arsenal in his car’s trunk. A fake flyer in Olympia falsely offered $200 per individual to act as “paid protesters,” supposedly paid by George Soros and the Open Society Foundation. The white nationalist Evropa organization spread a hoax on Twitter advocating violence, tweets which Donald Trump Jr used to support his father’s blame on antifascists for violence.

Meanwhile, protesters are losing their constitutional rights. Federal agents are arresting protesters for such minor offenses as “failing to obey” an order to get off a sidewalk on federal property. At least 12 of those arrested were released from jail only if they agreed to not attend protests, some of them anywhere in Oregon—a violation of their First Amendment rights. The order was signed by a federal magistrate in Portland.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the federal government’s authoritarian behavior poses an “enormous” threat to democracy, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) described the tactics as “an all-out assault in military-style fashion.” Military control of the U.S. was last imposed in the U.S. after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

A sliver of hope comes from talks between Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown and the federal government to reduce federal agents if the state increases its own enforcement. There is no agreement, but DDT may realize that his militia’s violence isn’t getting him votes.

July 17, 2020

DDT Sends His ‘SS’ to Instigate Violence in Portland, Oregon

The closer the 2020 election comes, the crazier (literally!) Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) becomes. Refused the military for breaking up protesters, he sent “federal agents” to Portland (OR) where a peaceful protester stood on the street. Donovan LaBella, 26, (right) kicked a can of tear gas away from him and raised a speaker above his head; DDT’s thugs fired “less lethal” munitions at the man’s face, leaving him hospitalized with a fractured skull as shown in this video.  

In a June tweet, DDT thanked the “SS” for tear gassing peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C. The reference to Nazi SS is appropriate for stormtroopers DDT used to turn Portland into a Third-World culture. During nightly protests, similar to those in other cities, these federal agents, supposedly protecting “federal property,” drive city streets in unmarked minivans, far from federal property, and abduct people not involved in criminal activity. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf refers to protesters as “a violent mob” putting Portland “under siege” as “local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city.” He listed “lawless destruction and violence” from these “violent anarchists”—primarily graffiti. DDT praised the agents’ Third World authoritarian actions while ignoring the violence of his white supremacist followers who kill and wound people, including viciously driving cars into groups of protesters.

When Mark Pettibone and Conner O’Shea were walking home, people wearing camouflage and body armor jumped out of an unmarked vehicle. Shea said he ran and hid from a second unmarked van. Pettibone said he “was basically tossed into the van. And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.” He added he was driven around downtown and then unloaded inside a building which he discovered after his release was the federal courthouse. Searching his belongings, one of the men said, “This is a whole lot of nothing.” In a cell, Pettibone was read his Miranda rights and asked if he would waive rights and answer questions. He asked for a lawyer and was released about 90 minutes later with no paperwork, citation, or arrest record.

None of the people in the van identified themselves, and both Pettibone and O’Shea said they only attend protests—no vandalism. Pettibone said:

“I have a pretty strong philosophical conviction that I will not engage in any violent activity. I keep it mellow and try to document police brutality and try to show up for solidarity.”

Any federal arrests away from federal property may not hold up because local officials did not give permission for the agents’ presence. DDT is using 40 U.S. Code 1315 to take over the city. The U.S. is a federal system with states’ rights, and protesting is a First Amendment right:

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Oregon officials lack authority to tell federal agents to leave the city. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told Wolf: either keep his agents inside the buildings they claim to protect or take them from the city. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said DDT had sent in the agents for political purposes in an appeal to his base. Wheeler told DDT on his social media his agents make the situation worse. The federal agents can use tear gas; a state law blocks the police from its use except to quash riots, an excuse they are using more often.

The U.S. Marshals Service refused to comment about unmarked vehicles, at least one of them locally rented, but asserted, “Our agency did not arrest or detain Mark James Pettibone.” OPB submitted questions regarding the episode to DHS; the response was only that Wolf was in Portland during the day. Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan called the protesters criminals.

Portland police cleared two Portland parks yesterday and put fences around them. Of the nine people the police arrested, three cooked free food at the barbecue stand Riot Ribs. Chef Lorenzo named the tent stand Riot Ribs because police accused him of starting a riot by giving away food. Law enforcement tear gassed the tent six times when he started on July 4, but he stayed after medics treated his eyes. City officials told him to get a permit, but the city code declares tents in parks are not “structures.” Beans, a volunteer, said the group has one bulletproof vest and donated gas masks. A volunteer stays on the grill when police rush the park.

U.S. District Judge Michael Simon ruled the Oregon ACLU can add the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service as defendants in a lawsuit alleging police are targeting journalists and legal observers covering ongoing protests in Portland. His decision allows the ACLU to file a temporary restraining order through the end of October against federal law enforcement, with restrictions already placed on Portland police such as barring the police from arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or legal observers unless they “reasonably know” that person has committed a crime.

Federal agents fired on at least two independent journalists wearing clothing with “press” in large block letters who were trying to document a protest on July 11. One was hit in the back with a tear gas canister and repeatedly shot with pepper bullets and other munitions while trying to film the tear gassing. The other was shot with enough force to tear his shirt. Portland police also attacked journalists while knowing they were with the press.

“I think Portland is a test case,” Zakir Khan, a spokesman for the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. “They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country.”

Tess Riski in the Willamette Weekly:

“The sight of armed federal officers—who look dressed for overseas combat or the U.S. border they are trained to protect—is an alarming one for many citizens. The image summons memories of other moments of civil unrest in U.S. history: National Guardsmen shooting college students at Kent State in 1970, or federal troops responding to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992….

“On July 13, Trump boasted that his agencies curbed an uprising in Portland that local cops couldn’t control. ‘We’ve done a great job in Portland,’ Trump said. ‘Portland was totally out of control. We very much quelled it, and if it starts again, we’ll quell it again very easily. It’s not hard to do, if you know what you’re doing.’”

The protests increased after his statement.

Riski’s statistics:

  • 17: Days federal officers actively patrolled Portland.
  • 4*: Number of agencies patrolling Portland—Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Protective Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC). *The FBI assists with investigative follow-up on select arrests.
  • 19: Minimum number of protesters federal officers have arrested since July 3.
  • 10: Years in prison from maximum sentence.
  • 4: Number of people charged after shining a green laser in officers’ eyes.
  • 120: Feet from which a man shined a green laser at officers.
  • $50,000: Monetary damage at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse which agencies were sent to protect.
  • 2.5: Width in feet of a “flimsy” plastic shield a protester carried before her arrest.

Tom Dickinson provides an excellent overview of Portland’s past and present struggles with police brutality.

Dana Milbank was right: “Whenever you are asked to name the lowest moment of the Trump presidency, one answer is almost always correct: Tomorrow.”

Desperate to look competent after the COVID-19 debacle, DDT has failed. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows voters backing Joe Biden over DDT 52 percent to 37 percent, up from 49 percent to 41 percent from a month ago.   Independents support Biden over DDT 51 percent to 34 percent, compared to 43 percent to 40 percent for Biden’s favor last month. DDT’s approval rating dropped six points to 36 percent in the past month, and approval of his handling of the economy almost reversed, now 44 percent approval and 53 percent disapproval from June’s 52 percent approval to 45 percent disapproval.

Governors used to have more approval in handling COVID-19 than DDT. On an average, Democratic governors keep that approval, but the 26 GOP governors are losing it. The biggest drops are in Arizona and Florida, but GOP governors in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Ohio have high approvals. Specifics are available here.

In other polling:

  • 66 percent: DDT should release his present and past tax returns.
  • 68 percent: Voters have the right to see presidential candidates’ financial records before the election.
  • 50 percent: DDT doesn’t release records because it will make his re-election more difficult.
  • 26 percent: DDT’s taxes contain “incriminating evidence against him.
  • 7 percent: DDT won’t release tax returns because he’s being audited.
  • 65 percent: DDT shouldn’t cut federal funding for schools not normally opening.
  • 53 percent: Voters are somewhat or strongly opposed to fully opening day cares of K-12 schools.
  • 38 percent: DDT is handling the virus (down from 46 percent in May and 51 percent in March).
  • 60 percent: Voters disapprove of the virus outbreak (up from 53 percent in May and 45 percent in March).
  • 63 percent: Controlling the virus spread is more important even if the economy is hurt (up from 57 percent in May).

White House official Kellyanne Conway explained DDT’s polls dropped because he wasn’t giving daily COVID-19 “updates.”

COVID-19 in the U.S.: 3,770,012 cases; 74,987 new cases in last 24 hours; 142,064 deaths.

July 4, 2020

The U.S., a Failing State

A definition for 2020 is clear sight or “accurate discernment, judgment, or assessment hindsight.” The year 2020 clearly shows the United States as a failing state, defined by Rebecca Gordon as “a political entity whose government has ceased to perform most or all of its basic functions. Such a condition can result from civil war, untrammeled corruption, natural disaster, or some combination of those and more.” The Fund for Peace has four criteria:

  1. “Loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
  2. Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  3. Inability to provide public services
  4. Inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community”

1. Loss of control: The administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is replacing the rule of law with the wishes of one man who threatens his citizens with military force, ordering law enforcement to attack legal peaceful protesters to show his power. DDT encouraged his rally audience to “knock the crap out of hecklers” and congratulated a GOP congressman for physically attacking a reporter. DDT sees white supremacists who commit violence as “very fine people” and encourages to physically menace legislators debating Michigan’s stay-at-home policies. 

2. Erosion of legitimate authority: The growing suppression of voting increasingly removes collective decisions and replaces them with control by the wealthy. The Supreme Court elimination of the 1965 Voting Rights Act accelerated unequal access to the polls in 25 states during the past decade with voter ID mandates and restrictions on early voting, number and placement of polling places, and vote-by-mail. DDT failed to find voting fraud with a now defunct presidential commission and now spreads lies about vote by mail. DDT’s goal is to undermine confidence in elections to cover himself if he loses in November. For months, people have asked what can be done if DDT loses but stays in the White House. Today, DDT’s Supreme Court majority temporarily froze a decision from a lower court: people in Alabama are stopped from safely voting in its July 14th primary through requesting mail-in ballots. 

3. Failure to Provide Public Services: Just this year, DDT failed to stop COVID-19, causing a tripling of the unemployment rate and pushed a disastrous recession that could destroy the nation’s economy. Six months after an awareness of the disease in China, the government lacks enough equipment and supplies to care for millions of infected people. DDT insisted on reopening businesses and created a massive surge in the virus. He favors his friends and donors by giving them contracts. For example, Fillakit, a new contractor, took $7.3 million for plastic tubes for making soda bottles instead of the ordered test tubes. The contaminated product doesn’t fit the racks for lab analysis. Without masks and in the open air, employees used snow shovels to put the unsterilized tubes into plastic bins. In the early onslaught of COVID-19 in the U.S., the White House knew the CDC distributed contaminated tests to states.  As the number of infections and deaths hit a new peak, DDT has gone to court to remove healthcare for 23 million people in the U.S. Without the preexisting condition requirement, the millions of people contracting COVID-19 cannot be covered for any issues attributed to the virus.

4. Inability to interact with other states: Since his inauguration, DDT consistently cozied up to world dictators and alienated countries of the free world. He pulled the U.S. out of successful and hopeful treaties such as denuclearization of Iran and a world-wide climate agreement. He threatened to drop NATO and placed sanctions on cooperative countries of the International Criminal Court. He even pulled out of the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic. This past week, DDT turned his back on global cooperation in buying the entire three-month stock of remdesivir—a medication that might lessen stays in the hospital for people with COVID-19—so no one else could have any at a cost of $1.56 billion.

Today, the U.S., with 4.25 percent of the world’s population, has 26 percent of the over 11 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 25 percent of the world’s deaths, and cases are rising in 36 states. Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress this past week the new COVID-19 cases, over 55,000 for each of the past four days, may rise to 100,000 a day. The count for today, July 3: 2,890,588 infections; 132,101 deaths. Statistics would show more infections and deaths if the reporting was honest.

The increasing numbers of deaths within jails and prisons brings to light the unnecessary and cruel incarceration in the U.S. along with the massive disconnect in healthcare services between the well-off and the marginalized communities. Homelessness suffers from the same health disaster in the greatest income inequality since the Gilded Age from tax cuts for the rich and the destruction of public services including education and infrastructure. In the U.S., 63 million people lack clean drinking water. As the virus expanded during the first three months of 2020, over $6.5 trillion in household wealth in the global economy equivalent to the combined economies of France and the UK; since March 18, U.S. billionaires have gained 20 percent in wealth–$584 billion.

Federal officials failed to protect healthcare workers by closing many of the over 4,100 coronavirus-related workplace safety complaints without taking action. At least 35 healthcare workers died after OSHA received safety complaints about their workplaces. Other than 275 fatality ongoing probes and 1,300 open healthcare complaints, the remainder of the complaints are listed “closed” in OSHA’s database. Its only citation was a $3,900 fine for a Georgia nursing home.

The man in the Oval Office declared himself a wartime president against COVID-19 and then surrendered. This week he said people will just have to “live with it” about millions of people contracting the disease, hundreds of thousands of people dying from it, and the economy crashing. DDT also claimed “not one governor needed anything” when VP Mike Pence’s questions. Yet across the nation, governors have asked Pence for help with viral spikes in their states.

Instead of trying to solve the COVID-19 disaster, DDT’s HHS Secretary Alex Azar is campaigning in election battleground states and pushing for reopening businesses. Last Sunday, Alex Azar called the virus a catastrophe but laid responsibility for handling it anyplace except the federal government.

A serious loss for democracy is this week’s decision from the Supreme Court, putting the Christian church in charge of the nation. Forcing taxpayers in Montana to pay for religious education, the high court violated the separation of church and state in the First Amendment. This ruling adds to DDT’s order that evangelicals can discriminate against women, LGBTQ people, Catholics, Muslims, atheists, differently abled, etc. in other areas such as fostering children. Private schools became popular in the mid-20th century to oppose racial integration.

The Supreme Court also conceals information about DDT by taking an appeal from a lower court decision making grand jury materials from the Mueller report available to members of Congress. Even if the Supreme Court were to affirm the lower ruling—which is unlikely—the decision won’t come down until after the election. DDT will be protected from public knowledge about Russian interference in his 2016 win until after his next election.

Acting as DDT’s fixer, AG Bill Barr is picking off U.S. attorneys general, and Richard Donoghue, representing the Eastern District of New York, is the most recent one. The Brooklyn post investigated, among other people close to DDT, Tom Barrack who chaired his inaugural committee. Donoghue was also in charge of all DOJ investigations about Ukraine. Now he’s headed for Washington, and a good friend of Barr will likely replace him. On Memorial Day weekend, Barr also removed Joseph Brown, U.S. Attorney for eastern Texas, who had been blocked in his attempts to criminally charge Walmart for its part in an opioid case, and replaced Brown with Stephen Cox, one of the Washington officials who blocked the charges. 

Some state governors collaborate with DDT in making the U.S. a failed state. Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott now requires wearing masks in public, less than two months ago his state attorney, Ken Paxton, threatened cities such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio with lawsuits if they require masks and sheltering in place. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who wants to preserve the economy by letting older people die, still insists, without evidence, the state reopen because infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci “doesn’t know what he’s talking about” and “has been wrong every time in every issue.” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts threatened cities with not giving them federal virus relief funding if they require people to wear masks in government buildings.  Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey blocked cities and counties from restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 until June 17. All three of these states have serious spikes in the disease.

The United States is becoming a failed state, and Republicans work hard for it to happen.  

June 22, 2020

Week 178 – Glimmers of Hope for the Future

The media has been consumed today with how Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who wanted to be the comeback kid, failed in Tulsa yesterday. Fire marshals estimated his crowd at 6,200 after DDT bragged that he has requests for over 1 million tickets. Reporters wrote about how teenage TikTok users and Korean pop music fans (aka K-pop stans) quietly spread the news to Snapchat and Instagram users to order tickets from false accounts and telephone numbers as a prank.  

DDT was furious with the small turnout and the publicizing of six campaign workers infected with COVID-19. The result was a low-energy event, especially when he returned home shown by this video of his return to Washington. People question if he will be explaining by the end of the week he was only inspecting the inside of BOK Center.

Missing from his 123-minute speech: references to tragic deaths of Black people, anything about Juneteenth and the end of slavery, the number of people who have died from COVID-19, the unemployed tens of millions, and any sense of compassion or empathy for suffering people. Important stuff that DDT shared in his speech with lots of lies: 15-minute detail of how well he can walk, a demonstration of how he can drink with one hand instead of two hands (causing the crowd to go wild with cheering), horrible, radical “rioters” in the streets, and his order to “my people”:

“When you do more testing to that extent, you are going to find more people, you will find more cases. I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’”  

This week, DDT heads to Arizona, speaking at a megachurch with a capacity of 3,000. When Students for Trump rented the Dream City Church auditorium in northern Phoenix, the church didn’t know the purpose was DDT’s campaign rally. It stated online, “facility rental does not constitute endorsement of the opinions of its renters.” Phoenix now has a mask ordinance. DDT also plans to look at his border wall at Yuma, among the hardest hit locations in the state which has become a hot spot for COVID-19. 

After refusing to reveal any information about which businesses received the $600 billion from the CARES $2.3 trillion act, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin caved into the protests and announced he will announce general information. Loans of under $150,000, about 25 percent of the total, will be lumped together into categories of industry, business type, and demographics with no names. The remainder will be groped by amount: $150,000-$350,000, $350,000-$1 million, $1 million to $2 million, $2 million to $5 million, and $5 million to $10 million. Demographics are vital because the agency gave no guidance to lenders about prioritizing rural, minority, and women business borrowers who may not have received loans guaranteed by legislation.

 In California, a district judge stopped enforcement of the Education Department’s rules preventing undocumented students at the state community colleges from getting a portion of the state’s $580 million from CARES funds for pandemic relief. The law does not restrict types of students eligible for aid.

A U.S. district judge in New York blocked ICE from making civil arrests at courthouses. A federal judge in Massachusetts make the same ruling last year; the appeal is pending.

The U.S. Soccer Federation repealed the league’s three-year-old ban on kneeling during the national anthem, and the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association apologized to its “players—especially our Black players—staff, fans, and all who support eradicating racism.”

After DC Circuit Court judge Lawrence Silberman called renaming U.S. bases honoring Confederate officers “mad,” a Black law clerk responded in this brilliant way, when he wrote about his slave ancestors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cannot order the 11 Confederate statues removed from the capitol, but she can take down four portraits of previous House Speakers who served in the Confederacy. One of them, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (left) who was expelled from the U.S. Senate for supporting the Confederacy, became the Confederate Secretary of State. The last House Speaker portrait to be removed was that of former Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL). In 2015, then Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took it off the wall after Hastert pled guilty to breaking banking laws when he obtained hush money concealing molestation of young boys while he was a wrestling coach.

An investigation from a panel created by the National Academy of Public Administration panel found that NOAA violated its scientific integrity policy in “Sharpiegate,” NOAA’s backing of DDT’s falsifying Hurricane Dorian’s path last September. After DDT mistakenly identified the Hurricane going into Alabama, NOAA contradicted its own meteorologists, and DDT changed Dorian’s path on a map with his Sharpie pen. According to the report, NOAA’s acting administrator Neil Jacobs and former NOAA deputy chief of staff and communications director Julie Kay Roberts twice violated agency codes through their involvement in the Sept. 6 statement. Jacobs is still claiming that DDT was correct in his ignorance that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Jacob’s problems continue: The Commerce Department’s inspector general, responsible for NOAA, and the House Science Committee both plan to release reports. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA’s top employees if they didn’t endorse DDT’s fake claims. 

A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court upheld the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit against former British spy Christopher Steele, center of the publicity surrounding the Mueller report. Russian investment giants, owners of the country’s Alfa Group, claimed Steele’s reports had defamed them.

The FDA withdrew the emergency use authorization for DDT’s COVID-19 drugs of choice, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, because of health problems they may cause.

The King County Labor Council, the largest labor group in the Seattle area, expelled the city’s police union because it fails to address racism. The vote was two days after the city council unanimously voted to ban police use of tear gas, pepper spray, etc. after law enforcement used them on primarily peaceful demonstrators. Among other police attacks on protesters, an officer deliberately pepper-sprayed a seven-year-old and then arrested Evan Hreha, who videoed the episode, with no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hreha.   

White supremacists, DDT’s base, have infiltrated protests to cause a race war. Steven Ray Baca, 31, opened fire against protesters trying to pull down a statue of Spanish conquistador and tyrant Juan de Oñate outside a museum in Albuquerque (NM), leaving a person in critical condition. Heavily armed people in military-style garb calling themselves a “civil guard” circled Baca for protection. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, an avid far-right extremist “boogaloo boy,” killed a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Cruz County and an Oakland courthouse guard. A peaceful protest of 200 in small Bethel (OH) was overtaken by over 700 heavily-armed menacing people circling them like snipers. And more. DDT ignores the violence from the far-right while ranting against the far-left.

Facebook finally started deactivating DDT’s lying, hate-filled campaign ads, beginning with one using a Nazi symbol for political prisoners on protesters he falsely calls the Antifa and “far-left groups.” Along with the red inverted triangle, ads labeled peaceful protesters “Dangerous MOBS.” The campaign presented 88 ads, a significant number representing “Heil Hitler” in white supremacist code.

Earlier, FB took down ads with misleading references to U.S. Census and more recently one from DDT with copyrighted materials. The company proclaims, however, that it has a “light touch,” defending Holocaust deniers, claiming he did not believe “they were intentionally getting it wrong.”

Twitter marked a DDT campaign ad “manipulated media” to deceive viewers before the ad was removed because of copyright infringement. DDT’s campaign used an video from last year that went viral showing a white toddler chasing his best friend, a black toddler, to hug him and ran a fake CNN chryon, “TERRIFIED TODLER (sic) RUNS FROM RACIST BABY.” The ad used its fake chryon to accuse CNN of faking poll numbers. Facebook also removed the ad for copyright infringement. 

CNN’s Jim Acosta asked press secretary Kayleigh McEnany about DDT’s fake ad:

“So you’re saying it’s okay to exploit two toddlers hugging one another on a sidewalk to make some sort of political point? You — I mean, as you know, the President has described members of the press as ‘fake news’ during the course of this administration. When you share fake videos like that, doesn’t that make you fake news?”

McEnany tried to call DDT’s ad a satire “that was quite funny,” but Costa called her out, “What’s funny about these two toddlers … hugging one another?” The argument continued, and McEnany came out second in the exchange.

On its advertising platform, Google banned ZeroHedge, a far-right website trafficking in conspiracy theories after policy violations from comments about Black Lives Matter protests. The server also took the same action against The Federalist after a three-day warning. Google said that both websites violated its policy against monetizing content that “promotes hatred, intolerance, violence or discrimination based on race.” Having created a culture of monopolies, conservatives are complaining about how they behave.

June 19, 2020

DDT Runs Afoul of Executive Orders, COVID-19

For eight years, the Republicans hated presidential executive orders–until they elected Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Their opposition to these orders stay in the GOP platform because Republicans decided to retread the 2016 platform citing their hatred of President Obama. DDT loves signing orders because he gets to look important.

Eight years, ago, President Obama signed an order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program allowing undocumented young adults who were brought to the United States as children to apply for protection from deportation. In 2017, DDT signed his own order ending the program, telling almost 800,000 young people they should immediately be deported. After lawsuits against the order wandered the courts for almost three years, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4 with Chief Justice John Roberts the swing vote, against DDT’s order, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” The decision didn’t state DDT was wrong, just that he didn’t provide sufficient justification.

The executive order was sent back to the Department of Homeland Security, and, after a day of tantrums, DDT declared the high court wanted him to rewrite the order for reissuing.  

Damon Linker wrote about the decision:

“Presidents and their appointees can’t simply do anything they want, even when the aim falls within their purview. They need to abide by the rule of law in taking action…. It’s what separates a nation governed by law from one ruled by the whims of a malicious despot and his obsequious enablers.”

BuzzFeed’s Zoe Tillman wrote:

“This outcome is similar to what happened in the census citizenship question case — in both cases, Roberts wrote for the majority of the court that the Trump admin could in theory do what they were trying to do, but that officials had gone about it in an unlawful way.”

Law professor Steve Vladeck commented about the ruling:

“It’s not that Chief Justice Roberts is a closet progressive. He’s not. It’s that the Trump administration is really bad at administrative law.”

Steve Benen continued with the theme of his new book, The Imposters:

“Many of the White House’s recent failures are the result of its indifference to the substance of governing.

“Earlier this week, North Korea literally blew up a diplomatic office, in part because Trump launched a risky gambit for public-relations purposes, failed to do his due diligence, never bothered to formulate a specific plan or policy, and sat helpless as his half-hearted effort failed.

“Soon after, the political world was confronted with revelations from John Bolton’s new book, in which the former White House national security advisor describes the president as, among other things, a man who doesn’t care about governing, doesn’t know how government works, and prioritizes politics over policy.

“Meanwhile, Trump’s plan to hold a risky campaign rally in Tulsa is becoming increasingly controversial in ways his political operation may not have anticipated. Those who take governing seriously care about data, evidence, and expertise — and in this case, the coronavirus data out of Oklahoma is awful and getting worse; the evidence points to an enclosed venue where the virus can spread easily and quickly, and the experts are telling anyone who’ll listen that this is a bad idea.

“But because Trump and his allies are no longer members of a governing party, and have instead become leaders of a post-policy party, these developments are sadly predictable.”

Being able to legally work and attend school in the U.S. has made DACA recipients productive. About five percent of them contribute to healthcare work during the danger of COVID-19. Over 90 percent of DACA recipients are employed, and 45 percent of them attend school. In January 2018, 87 percent of people said DACA recipients should be allowed to stay if they work or attend school.

DDT believes Roberts wants another executive order, but a new attempt on his part could address whether the original DACA order was illegal or lacking in “sound policy.” This issue was not addressed in this week’s ruling and could last another three years or more in the courts. It could also be problematic in an election year.

Since the DACA executive order, DDT has learned to write ones totally without substance while making exaggerated statements about their effects. For example, he said he was keeping meat plants open during the pandemic, but the order told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work with OSHA to make decisions.

DDT used the same approach when he signed his “law enforcement reform” order earlier this week. He said his order banned chokeholds, except “when an officer’s life is at risk.” The order actually states chokeholds are permitted wherever law allows them.  

DDT described his order as “pretty comprehensive.” These are his “orders”:

Police brutality has occurred.

Congress will pass policing-related legislation. (Congress started working on reform before he wrote the order.)

DOJ funding will pay police departments to provide federally-approved training programs. (An example of the huge loopholes is money only for departments prohibiting the use of chokeholds “except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.”)

The HHS Secretary should encourage police departments to improve law enforcement handling of mental health crises, addiction, and homelessness. (No explanation how.)

A national database should track police misconduct.

No policies, no orders, but DDT can use his statement to veto anything from Congress with a lie that he’s already created “reform.”  He’s already demanded law enforcement officers keep their immunity and described his appreciation for police brutality. People want “law and order,” according to DDT, although “some of them don’t even know that’s what they want, but that’s what they want.”

When Barack Obama was president, DDT stated President Obama “signs executive orders because he can’t get anything done. I’ll get everybody together.” Then he moved on to complaining about the few times President Obama golfed. With his own ability to sign these orders, however, DDT holds up his signature, pointing to it like a toddler pointing out his toilet-training achievement.

DDT’s favorite part of signing orders comes from the speech he gives afterwards. In this case, he extolled the virtues of police officers, returning to the idea that the massive police brutality, even more obvious during the past three weeks, is from a few bad apples. He called school choice, which means using taxpayer funds to support religious groups, as the “civil rights statement of the year, of the decade, and probably beyond.” (Not voting rights of equality in justice—just taxpayers paying for religious instruction.)

Although DDT claimed to have met with families of nine victims of police or racially motivated killings, none was in his audience for his signing. His photo-op showed himself surrounded by male cops, only one of them black. “We have to break old patterns of failure,” DDT said. 

Meanwhile, DDT is pushing VP Mike Pence, the evangelical, to tell governors to lie to their people so they will think COVID-19 has disappeared after a backlash to his rally tomorrow. With spikes in the virus throughout over half the states, Pence told governors to tell people the virus has disappeared. DDT claims the only reason the number of cases could go up would be more testing. Dana Milbank compared this reasoning to people believing they aren’t gaining weight if they don’t weigh themselves. DDT and Pence are willing to kill hundreds of thousands to win an election.

Predictions show the U.S. COVID-19 death toll to over 200,000 by early October, up from 170,000 deaths, because of states lifting lockdowns and ignoring safety measures to prevent the virus. Florida insisted on opening the state and keeping it open, but yesterday, it was one of four states—Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas—with almost half the 33,000+ new cases for the day although they have about 20 percent of the nation’s population. Pence also lied to reporters about the new virus spike in Oklahoma, its highest one-day total since the pandemic began in the state on March 6, by calling it a “flattening” curve.

Pence also wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed about “overblown” reports of a “second wave” while DDT is “winning the fight.” A factcheck about Pence’s piece, however asserted he “overstated the amount of coronavirus-related medical equipment distributed by a Trump administration program on multiple occasions, according to public data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” The amount of masks, shields, and other PPE was far less than Pence stated, especially the 1.5 million N95 masks instead of the 143 million Pence declared.

As both DDT and Pence call for a “celebration” to the current end of COVID-19, people need to remember their comments earlier this year before over 120,000 people died of the virus in the United States.

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

September 12, 2019

Bolton, Science Gone But Not Forgotten

John Bolton is the latest person who Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) dumped: Bolton said he resigned, and DDT’s tweeted that he fired his national security adviser. DDT’s stated reason was that he “disagreed strongly” with Bolton, who has been criticized for being a hawk. A recent disagreement was bringing the Taliban to Camp David for “peace talks” during the anniversary of the 9/11 U.S. bombings in 2001. DDT ignored Bolton and VP Mike Pence who said that the idea was bad. Bolton wouldn’t defend DDT’s positions on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Russia. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed pleasure, saying that DDT should have “people around him who will carry out his policies.” Another major Senate suck-up Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was less pleased, saying that Bolton’s agenda “makes America safe.” Three of Bolton’s top aids resigned the day after DDT fired Bolton. 

Although DDT said that he fired Bolton Monday night, Bolton was still scheduled the next morning to appear with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for a briefing about new sanctions against a “wide range” of terrorist groups and their supporters. Pompeo and Mnuchin (right) seemed to be downright giddy at the meeting with the press corps without Bolton.

DDT tweeted his firing of H.R. McMaster as national security adviser 17 months ago, but he’s been calling his ex-adviser for advice for almost a year and said he missed him. This pattern is not new: DDT called Reince Priebus after he became disenchanted with chief of staff replacement, John Kelly.

Charles M. Kupperman, Bolton’s acting replacement, might be worse than the war-mongering Bolton. Decades-long associates, they seem to be birds of a feather with Kupperman a past member on the boards of several defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Kupperman, a right-wing extremist, has connections to Islamophobe Frank Gaffney from when he served on the board of the misnamed Center for Security Policy that promotes Islamophobic conspiracy theories, according to Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Almost two weeks after Hurricane Dorian sat on the Bahamas for two days—and left Alabama untouched—1,300 people are still missing in the country of 395,000, and 50 people are dead. In the hardest-hit northern islands, almost 70,000 people of the 395,000 population have lost everything; on the Grand Bahama Island, population 50,000, three-fourths of the houses were underwater. A tropical storm is now headed for the Bahamas.

Not satisfied with the tragedies facing people from the Bahamas during the Category 5 hurricane, DDT turned on his cruelty to make it worse. He turned back over 100 people heading for refuge in Florida because they didn’t have visas. He refuses to grant temporary protected status to displaced people from the Bahamas, a status that would allow them to work and live in the U.S. until they could safely return home. Although existing visas permit Bahamans to come to the U.S., they won’t be allowed to work. DDT said some of those seeking aid could be “very bad people” and “very bad gang members” and “very, very bad drug dealers.” These statements were a 180-degree switch from DDT’s initial statement when he pledged U.S. help with recovery efforts. DDT said:

“We’re working hard, we’re with you, and God bless you.”

Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott asked that DDT permit Bahamians to live with their relatives in the United States, but DDT separated at least one family instead. CBP took refugee Kaytora Paul from her godmother and sent the child to a detention facility with migrant children. Paul’s mother were living in a wrecked car with Kaytora and her two younger children while Paul’s father stayed with an adult son after their home’s roof collapsed. Officials refused to release Kaytora to a biological aunt at the airport, and the mother, who went to Florida to get her daughter, was told she must apply to be her own daughter’s sponsor, a process requiring many documents and taking weeks. The mother would have been deported in two weeks, but immigration advocacy and publicity forced the reunification of Kaytora and her mother after the 12-year-old was in detention for four days.

DDT looks at all the federal agencies, even those supposed to be independent, as personal “fixers” for his whatever he wants, such as DDT’s forcing NOAA to back his lies about Hurricane Dorian badly damaging Alabama. Documentation shows that a top NOAA official ordered its staff to not contradict DDT’s lies about Hurricane Dorian doing great damage to Alabama. Media reports that DDT told his staff to deal with NOAA contradicting his weather forecast, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to fix the problem, and Ross threatened to fire people if they didn’t immediately take care of it. DDT said he didn’t tell NOAA to do this. No, he told his staff to tell NOAA. Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are investigating the Commerce Department’s part in NOAA’s decision siding with DDT over its scientists and requested a briefing with Commerce Department staff. Former NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said:

“It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant.”

A meteorologist said that he had never before been told “to not say that truly is the forecast.” Other agencies have sided with DDT against facts, but accurate weather forecasts in disasters are vital to preserving lives. Acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs and NOAA director of public affairs Julie Kay Roberts, who had worked on DDT’s campaign, were responsible for the anonymous false statement trying to cover up for DDT’s “mistake.” The department’s Inspector General is reviewing NOAA’s statement supporting DDT’s false statement about the great danger to Alabama from Hurricane Dorian.

Most of DDT’s hurricane briefings were by people without meteorological expertise. A 2018 survey of scientists in 16 federal agencies revealed a culture of fear and self-censorship with sidelined scientific evidence in favor of political expediency.

Meteorology will become even more problematic if DDT gets his 5G cellphone networks that seriously degrade forecasting accuracy, up to 30 percent according to Jacobs’ testimony on Capitol Hill. He added that the loss in tracking could cut “forecasts’ lead time by roughly two to three days,” a catastrophic effect on human life. The 5G is already available from Verizon to corporate customers in some cities.

In his desire to return to 1986 in water pollution, DDT will roll back a 2015 regulation to protect waters that feed into But critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1970s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. The 2015 rule gave the federal government authority to oversee a wide array of lakes, streams, wetlands, storm-water controls and ditches that feed into larger waterways that are clearly protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act. He justified the rollback with his claim that he wants “crystal clean water.”

The DDT-led Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to dump reporting rules by large companies, those with more than 100 workers, for gender and race pay disparities by large companies. In 2017, Mick Mulvaney, Director of Office of Management and Budget, froze the data collection, but a court ordered the collection for 2017 and 2018. DDT’s EEOC chair confirmed by 50-43, Janet Dhillon, is a former general counsel for Burlington Stores and JCPenney. The gender pay gap has not moved from 82 percent during the past year, only four percent higher than the 78 percent 12 years ago. The gap is 62 percent for black women and 54 percent for Latinas. Ivanka Trump opposed collecting the data after she tweeted on Equal Pay Day that “we must work to close the gender pay gap!”

Luckily DDT has Pompeo to lie for him. He was in Kansas when a state university a physics professor asked Pompeo if he supported “the suppression of scientific reports from the U.S. Department of State” because of the “exodus of scientists” from federal agencies after their work is suppressed. Pompeo said he disagrees because “no one supports the absence of science.” With a straight face, he said this and more on the same day that NOAA was told to support DDT’s falsifying science with his Sharpie line on a hurricane map. DDT also didn’t a pick a scientist to be the chief scientist at the USDA, and he hid dozens of government-funded studies warning about the climate crisis and potentially dangerous chemicals.

DDT, however, knows that his magical black sharpie pen that he uses to sign orders, make notes on his hands for speeches, and redirect hurricane warnings will solve everything. 

September 7, 2019

More Investigations by and for DDT

Investigations into the abuses of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) using government funds for his own private piggy back does not end with the Pentagon supporting his Scottish Turnberry resort. VP Mike Pence added to DDT’s coffers during Pence’s European trip. While VP Mike Pence attended meetings in Dublin (Ireland), he stayed at DDT’s golf course, Doonbeg, requiring four extra flights in Air Force 2, four extra motorcade trips, and security. Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said that the government “negotiated room rates” for DDT’s resort. DDT “suggested” (code for ordered) the stay at the golf course including Pence’s wife, sister, and mother. Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short said “suggested” and then denied he said it until the next day when he reversed the reversal, the same day that DDT said he did not “suggest” anything. Although Pence claims to be “personally paying all family expenses,” taxpayers covered expenses for staff, security, and transports for them.

Pence claimed that he wanted to stay close to his ancestral home, but the visit there was rather bleak. Only one couple finally showed up, a huge difference from the crowds in Ireland for President Obama. 

 

Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deer tried—and failed—to cover up for Pence’s homophobia:

 

“For all of you who still think our @VP is anti-gay, I point you to his and the @SecondLady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar and his partner Dr. Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland.”

Pence also faced LGBTQ support for LGBTQ people at his next stop, Iceland, where he was greeted with row of rainbow flags from the technology company Advania across from his meeting with President Gudni Johannesson in the capital, Reykjavik. Johannesson and Iceland’s first lady, Eliza Reid, wore rainbow bracelets during the meeting.

Two House committees are investigating Pence’s stay at DDT’s golf resort and DDT’s suggestion that the 2020 G7 summit meet at his Doral resort in Miami. Representatives requested documents from DDT, Pence, and other officials about violations of the Emoluments Clause. The State Department enriched DDT by allowing seven foreign governments to rent luxury condos in New York’s Trump Tower in 2017 with no congressional consent from lawmakers as required by the constitution.

Pro-pollution DDT is is bad for businesses that cross him. The DOJ is accusing four automobile companies of antitrust violations because they plan to conform with California’s fuel efficiency standards. The EPA and Transportation Department also notified California that the deal “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

CEOs understand that DDT is causing them serious problems. In an August survey of CEOs, 62 percent said the trade war with its flipflops on tariffs is “highly detrimental” to outlook and strategy, and 72 percent believe that cutting interest rates won’t sustain the economic cycle. The 3.9 percent rate of investment DDT has fallen from President Obama’s 5.7 percent after the nation’s economy started to recover in 2010.

History shows that no one wins in a trade war. When President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs in 2002, the GDP declined by $30.4 million, and about 200,000 jobs disappeared, 13,000 in raw steel-making. The cost to taxpayers was $400,000 for every steel-industry job saved. The World Trade Organization also ruled that the Bush tariffs were illegal

With DDT, the U.S. trade deficit for the first half of 2019 is bigger than in the last two years.

Farmers may suffer more than businesses. Bob Kuylen, the vice president of the 50,000-member North Dakota Farmers Union, said that farmers “lost pretty much all of our markets since Trump took over” leaving farmers “land-rich and cash-poor.” He added that bonuses for his high-protein wheat crops have dropped 95 percent.

In more DDT corruption, the private company of DDT’s campaign manager Brad Parscale has received almost $1 million from a PAC supporting DDT and Pence. Law prohibits PACS from coordinating with candidates’ campaigns.

DDT may have defrauded the IRS by not paying taxes on a tax-avoidance $50-million dollar loan that he owes to one of his own companies. He says it’s a wash; IRS law states that a firm owed money and has no outstand debt is worth at least as much as it is owed.

To give DDT $3.6 billion for his wall, the Pentagon “deferred” 127 projects in 23 states, 19 countries, and three U.S. territories, including $400 million for military installations in Puerto Rico. Another $770 million of the money disappeared from projects in allied European nations to help deter a possible attack from Russia, and another one is for cybersecurity. The Pentagon plans to get Congress to replace the $3.6 billion for a wall that Congress voted down. Either the projects weren’t important in the first place, of the military thought they could blackmail Congress. 

Congressional members are losing status with their constituents because of the lost revenue after Pentagon projects were deferred. North Carolina is unhappy after losing $80 million dollars, and its GOP senator Thom Tillis voted to remove FEMA funds for detention centers. The biggest loser, Tillis is up for re-election next year. He’s also in trouble after DDT lied about signing an emergency declaration “at the request of Senator Thom Tillis.” Federal law allows only governors to make these requests, but DDT couldn’t bear to give a Democrat credit for anything.  

GOP Sen. Martha McSally, also up for re-election after being appointed last year, downplayed Arizona’s loss by saying the state loses only $30,000. Later she had to explain that the loss is $30 million. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) simply blamed the Democrats.

Seventy percent of residents in the 200-household living community for older adults, River Bend Resort and Golf Club in Brownsville (TX), found that DDT’s wall puts them on Mexico’s side of DDT’s 30-foot-tall barrier.

DDT wants to raise mortgage costs and the deficit by ending government control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that handle half the nation’s mortgages. Part of the strategy in stopping an even worse recession from the unraveling housing market in 2008 was to have government control of those companies. People are already struggling to find affordable homes, and the U.S. will lose revenue from the companies’ profits while Wall Street gets richer. After paying less than $200 billion to rescue Freddie and Fannie, the government received $300 billion in dividends from them. Neither company has capital to be sustainable for several years, and taxpayers would be forced to bail them out again in “exigent circumstances,” according to the 53-page proposal. Shares in the companies drastically fell last week.

DDT brought out his 85th mandate to destroy the planet by rolling back George W. Bush’s energy-efficient requirements for LED bulbs. Continued use of incandescent bulbs cost people more money. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output from at least 25 large power plants, equivalent to powering all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Since 2010, energy consumption in U.S. homes dropped by 6 percent.

Only three incumbent presidents—Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush—faced primary challengers, and all three lost the general elections for a second term. With GOP politicians planning to run against DDT, Republicans have a solution: cancel 2020 presidential primaries and caucuses, already almost done in four states. One of the states is South Carolina, where Mark Sanford is considering an intent to run against DDT. DDT is right about the rigging of the election—at least for the GOP.

More NRA scandals: Former NRA president Marion Hammer obtained loans of over $250,000 at an interest rate down to two percent from the NRA’s Florida affiliate where she is the only employee. This affiliate reported a $28,389 shortfall when it gave Hammer a $200,000 loan. Most of Unified Sportsmen of Florida gets almost all its budget from the NRA. The IRS can impose tax penalties if the organization benefits a private shareholder or person.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who incited people to defend themselves from immigrants before the El Paso shooting, cannot understand how the killer at Midland-Odessa last week could obtain a gun without a background check. The shooter bought the gun in a private sale which, under state law, has no background checks.

“The economy is great,” says DDT, but new jobs slowed in August to 130,000, 34,000 of them government jobs included 25,000 short-term positions for the 2020 U.S. census. Reductions of June and July jobs numbers by 20,000 brought the 2019 monthly average down to 143,000, 25 percent below the 192,000 in 2018. President Obama’s monthly job growth averages were 251,000 per month in 2014, 227,000 in 2015 and 193,000 in 2016. The stock market went up but only because of DDT’s promise of trade talks with China in October. U.S. business investment and growth in trade-sensitive sectors slumped after fewer foreign sales, rising costs of imported goods, and the uncertain global outlook. People’s views of the economy are partisan, but they’re all going down—and independents are much closer to those of Democrats than Republicans. And the election is less than 14 months away.

July 29, 2019

More Fodder for DDT’s Swamp

Determined to surround himself by incompetent sycophants, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) found a candidate for his intelligence chief, in charge of 16 agencies, after getting rid of Dan Coats, a Republican who served in that position for over two years. The new loyalist pick, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), auditioned for director of national intelligence when he slammed special investigator Robert Mueller during last week’s House committee hearings and showed himself to be comfortable with protecting DDT through ignoring Russian interference in U.S. elections. Ratcliffe denied that DDT committed obstruction of justice and criticized Mueller for addressing it in his report. GOP senators will almost likely confirm the nomination.

Like most of DDT’s other appointments, the partisan Ratcliffe has little background for the position for which he is nominated, in this case a position which should be independent. For Ratcliffe, his ignorance is not a huge problem because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, formerly CIA director, sets the agenda for the intelligence agencies.

The order creating the office after 9/11 requires military or intelligence experience for the director. Ratcliffe lacks both. He was a private practice lawyer until he became Chief of Anti-Terrorism and National Security for part of Texas for a few years in the early 2000s. During that time, he was also mayor of a city with a population of 8,000 people. In his third term for the U.S. House, he has been on the Intelligence Committee since January. His website states that he “put terrorists in prison,” no evidence exists that he has prosecuted a terrorism case. In opposition to the FBI investigation into Russian election meddling, Ratcliffe claimed that any interference benefitted Hillary Clinton. Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) summed up Ratcliffe’s experience for leading 17 intelligence agencies:

“The sum total of his qualifications appears to be his record of promoting Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories about the investigation into Russian interference and calling for prosecution of Trump’s political enemies.”

GOP senators seem lukewarm about Ratcliffe’s appointment, and they may face more problems with DDT’s appointment of Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten as the next vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after Army Col. Kathryn A. Spletstoser renewed her assertion that he sexually assaulted her in a California hotel room. The episode allegedly came after a number of unwanted touchings in 2017. She reported his behavior, but Hyten denied that it happened. During an inquiry, his wife said that his private-sector lie-detector test “did not go well,” and Hyten refused to take one for the Department of Defense. Yet investigators found “insufficient evidence to support any finding of misconduct.” The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding confirmation hearings for Hyten this week after meeting with him and Spletstoser in closed sessions.

After an appointment as chief of naval operations, Admiral William Moran, confirmed in May by a Senate voice vote, declined the position for an early retirement, perhaps because of emails between him and Cmdr. Chris Servello who retired in disgrace. Servello was investigated for allegedly acting inappropriately toward women during a Pentagon holiday party in 2016. The Navy found that his harassment didn’t constitute “criminal sexual harassment,” but Servello retired. He had been chief spokesman for Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson who was found to take little disciplinary action for not censuring Servello earlier when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) began an examination into hundreds of sexual assault and harassment complaints in the armed forces. Richard will stay on as Chief until a replacement is confirmed.

DDT has followed his pattern of appointing people to cabinet positions who oppose the agencies’ missions with his nomination of Eugene Scalia, son of a former Supreme Court justice, to lead the Labor Department after Alex Acosta left during the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. The anti-labor lawyer tirelessly worked for large corporations to circumvent regulations and stop employees organizing efforts. His legal efforts benefitted Ford Motor, MetLife, American Petroleum Institute, Steve Wynn’s casinos, and major telecommunications and retail industry trade associations. Other Scalia successes are defeating the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Labor Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Federal Communications. Commission.

Thanks to Scalia, Walmart won its case against a Maryland law requiring companies with over 10,000 workers to either spend eight percent of payroll costs on health care of pay into a state Medicaid fund. Another Scalia win was against unions arguing that Boeing violated labor law in threats to open a South Carolina assembly plant if the union didn’t agree to a no-strike contract clause. Scalia also worked to protect Wall Street from the Dodd-Frank Act. DDT’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, wanted a far more aggressive anti-labor leader to head up the Labor Department.

Seventeen years ago, George W. Bush appointed Scalia the acting solicitor at the Labor Department in a recess appointment after Democrats opposed Scalia for his opposition to protecting workers from job-related repetitive stress injuries. Scalia was also AG Bill Barr’s special assistant under George H.W. Bush and wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan’s education secretary, William Bennett.

Mark Esper, top lobbyist for Raytheon receiving $18.1 billion in unclassified defense contracts last year, easily received confirmation despite his refusal to recuse himself from Raytheon issues. He also declined to commit to not working for a private defense company for four years after he leaves the Pentagon. Only eight senators voted against him, half of them women. A friend and former classmate of Pompeo, he will make a formidable team with the Secretary of State against national defense secretary John Bolton. As Open Secrets shows in this article, DDT seeks out lobbyists for his administration.

The FAA has moved from administration by Boeing to Delta in the Senate’s confirmation of a longtime Delta Air Lines executive Steven Dickson along party lines. He replaces acting secretary Daniel Elwell who had been a lobbyist for Boeing. Democrats opposed Dickson because of the company’s whistleblower retaliation while he was senior vice president of flight operations. Although Dickson said that safety would be a priority for him, Delta pilot Karlene Petitt was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and barred from flying after she spoke out on safety issues, specifically inadequate pilot training and lack of pilot rest. Her whistleblower claim is before an administrative law judge who said that he was “really troubled” by her case. Dickson had failed to mention the case in his questionnaire and downplayed his involvement during the hearings. A medical expert at the Mayo Clinic said that “the evidence … does support an organizational/corporate effort to remove this pilot from the rolls.”

When DDT is not hiring lobbyists and industry officials, he shops for new people at Fox. Monica Crowley, who lost her chance to be on DDT’s National Security Council because of plagiarism, is now the Treasury Department spokesperson as assistant secretary for public affairs. Crowley spread conspiracy theories about President Obama being a secret Muslim on the side of Islam terrorists and being not born in the United States. She follows Morgan Ortagus who recently became the new spokesperson at the State Department who replaced former Fox anchor Heather Nauert. Just before that, former Fox reporter Lea Gabrielle became leader of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center. Cabinet members Ben Carson and Elaine Chao were also on Fox. The “joke” is that people can feed DDT information if they get on Fox—like the video that elicited DDT’s series of racist tweets for the past ten days. More Fox folk for DDT here.

Michelle Moons, White House correspondent for Steve Bannon’s Breitbart, has moved to the office of Domestic Policy Council.

As DDT hires lobbyists and journalists, professionals are moving out of his administration. Former State Department intelligence official Rod Schoonover resigned “in protest” for DDT’s blocking him from presenting evidence and data on the impacts of climate change in Congressional testimony. The excuse in cutting scientific information was that it did not fit with DDT’s official position. Critics of the testimony included National Security Council senior director William Happer who finds carbon dioxide beneficial. Schoonover quit after a decade of federal service at the same time that DDT blocks climate research from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and DDT’s new plan to help polluters, in opposition to EPA assessment that the plan will annually kill 1,400 people.

Lack of support by the UK new prime minister, Boris Johnson, caused Sir Kim Darroch to resign as British ambassador to the U.S. because of Darroch’s uncomplimentary statements about DDT. Even conservative MPs called Johnson’s conduct “contemptible.” Darroch will stay on the job until a new ambassador is appointment which doesn’t look eminent at this time. 

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