Nel's New Day

September 3, 2018

DDT Not a ‘Jobs President’

Today is Labor Day, a day to celebrate workers, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—aka the “jobs president”—honored the hard-working people of the nation by attacking Richard Trumka, leader of the nation’s biggest union federation. Trumka dared to point out how DDT had “done more to hurt workers than to help” them and disagreed with DDT’s strategy on renegotiating the NAFTA trade pact because he might lose Canada.

  • How DDT has hurt U.S. workers:
  • Eliminating overtime pay for workers by dropping the salary threshold to the same one from 40 years ago.
  • Attempting to give tips for waitpeople to their employers.
  • Classifying workers as “independent contractors,” permitting employers to deny them benefits.
  • Failing to pass legislation for infrastructure improvement.
  • Signing an executive order that allows investment brokers to cheat people in their retirement funds.
  • Blocking workers from the courts with mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts.
  • Delaying and rolling back regulations to protect workers from job injuries.
  • Refusing to shield workers from exposure to cancer-causing chemicals and metals like beryllium.
  • Allowing employees to keep faulty records about on-the-job injuries.
  • Blocking a requirement to report pay data by race, ethnicity, and gender, allowing larger racial and gender pay gaps.
  • Creating barriers for home care workers who want to support their union.
  • Proposing a family leave plan that forces workers to have less Social Security benefits when they retire.
  • Forgiving employers who violate wage and hour laws.
  • Limiting workers’ ability to decide with whom they want to form a union.
  • Making it harder for workers to bargain with the companies that influence their working conditions.
  • Disbanding labor-management forums for federal workers.
  • Endangering workers and first responders at chemical facilities.
  • Undermining the quality and pay of apprenticeship programs.
  • Limiting workers’ right to sue.
  • Reducing transparency in anti-union attacks.
  • Making it harder for workers to save for retirement.
  • Discriminating against LGBTQ workers.
  • Enacting tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy over the average worker.
  • Pushing immigration policies that hurt all workers.
  • Appointing anti-worker members to the National Labor Relations Board and the Department of Labor. Undercutting key worker protection agencies by nominating anti-worker leaders
  • Stacking the Supreme Court with anti-worker justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
  • Specifics about DDT’s anti-worker agenda.

How DDT has helped U.S. workers:

Last week DDT canceled a scheduled Congress-approved 2.1 percent pay raise for 1.8 million civilian federal employees at a time that the 2018 inflation is projected at 2.9 percent. These people include Secret Service, firefighters, and border patrol agents. One-third of them are veterans, many of them disabled. He claimed the purpose of the $3 billion savings was to “put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course” because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” At the same time, however, he has figured out how to give an additional $100 billion to the wealthiest after he and Congress passed $2 trillion tax cuts for the richest and plan another tax cuts this fall for the richest in the nation. Before a second tax cut, the new tax loophole for “passthrough” businesses that benefits the Trump Organization will cost $47 billion in just one year, and the tax cut for wealthy, multimillion-dollar estates costs another $8 billion.

DDT also plans another way to use his power to give the wealthy another $100 billion in tax cuts by indexing capital gains to inflation, an action that he could take without congressional action. Winners are 63 percent to the top 0.01 percent of the population, 86 percent to the top one percent, and 95 percent to the top five percent. They pay most of the capital gains taxes, meaning that this action does nothing for economic growth. Indexing capital gains worsens inequality adds to budget deficits, and opens up new tax shelters for the wealthy.   [capital gains visual]

Legislative and judicial obstruction has caused union membership to fall to under 11 percent in 2017, dropping from 25 percent in the 1970s. Yet wages have been flat during that fall. Yet union support has increased to 62 percent approval, the highest in over a decade. Wages rose as union membership was strong, but Ronald Reagan’s control of the NLRB after he broke the air controllers’ union vastly increased the amount of resources delegated to the top 1 percent. [visual union]

Labor Day under DDT’s rule:

“Real wages have fallen over the last year, despite an economy nearing full employment. Good jobs are still being shipped abroad. Our trade deficit with China climbed to its highest level on record in 2017. The $4,000 raise promised to workers out of the tax bill is nowhere to be seen. As Americans for Tax Fairness has documented, only 4 percent of workers received any increase from the tax cuts, while, as predicted, corporate CEOs used the cut for a record-breaking $700 billion in stock buybacks, lining their pockets and those of investors. Earlier this year, a careful analysis of government data showed that 43 percent of Americans couldn’t afford a basic monthly budget for housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and a monthly smartphone bill.”

Since the 1930s, union workers have earned about 20 percent more than non-union colleagues. More than that, however, a recent study shows that more unions meant more income equality because they increased the wages of the lowest-skilled. The chart to the left shows the correlation between the drop in union membership and the drop in middle-class income. Instead of working to raise their wage by demanding unions for all, however, those not in the union try to tear down unions. And the wealthiest and biggest businesses want an even larger share of the pie so they work to kill unions as they did in the Supreme Court Janus decision.

Riding on their victory in Janus, the conservative Illinois organization Liberty Justice Center has threatened to sue Oregon state and local government officials if they don’t immediately stop collecting union dues and agency fees. Oregon’s AG Ellen Rosenblum differs from the organization’s claim that unions cannot college any union dues until all employees agree to their membership. She had already sent an advisory after the Supreme Court ruling that public unions could not agency fees from a nonmember’s wages without the members’ becoming union members.

Employers and business-loving conservatives don’t provide benefits out of the goodness of their hearts. Most people don’t recognize what unions have accomplished for all workers in the United States.

 

Not everyone has these benefits, but all these workers’ rights can be lost in the current DDT downward trajectory:

  • Weekends, breaks (including lunch), 8-hour workday, 40-hour week, minimum wage, overtime pay, equal pay.
  • Child labor laws.
  • Safety standards and regulations.
  • Ways to fight discrimination (including age), wrongful termination, Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Paid vacation, sick leave, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, pensions.
  • Social Security, Medicare.
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
  • Military leave.
  • Privacy rights.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said on a Sunday talk show that Republicans should concentrate on the “good things” that DDT has done such as tax cuts and eradicating regulations—both benefiting only the extremely wealthy and big business. Reductions in union membership have a direct correlation with the increase of income to the top one percent.

ObamaCare is more popular than the GOP tax law, according to a new Fox News poll, with a 51 percent approval rating compared to the 40 percent approval for the tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big business. DDT complains that Google has a majority of negative stories about him. If he wants positive media, he should do something that’s positive instead of negative actions against everyone except the top five percent in the United States.

 

 

When people say that they don’t need unions because their job gives them all these advantages, they are either unaware of situations where that doesn’t happen or just focus on themselves. In 1946, German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller wrote about the Nazi purges of groups, one by one, while people ignored the responsibility:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

DDT and the Republicans have come for the trade unionists. Are you next?

June 16, 2018

Court, Staff Problems for DDT

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) turned 72 this past week, trying to get out of lawsuits and scandals through a series of lies. Yet the information about his corrupt associates continues. More documents from DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen have been uncovered, including 731 pages of messages that he sent on such apps as WhatsApp and Signal that allow the content of the texts to remain encrypted. While getting data from a second phone, the FBI took 315 megabytes of data from one of his Blackberry phones. In addition, investigators reconstructed 16 pages of Cohen’s shredded documents. Yesterday was the deadline for Cohen to review hundreds of thousands of documents seized in the April raid of his office and home, and his lawyers disappeared yesterday, making him more likely to cooperate with the Russian investigation. The reason for the loss may be a fee dispute; Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Cohen’s bills could be as much as $500,000 per week. DDT’s campaign fund paid about $228,000 by the end of April, but it may have stopped because experts considered this to be potentially illegal.

Cohen is expecting to be arrested, and DDT is separating himself from his former friend. An opening gambit is DDT’s comment that anyone will lie to stay out of prison, insinuating that Cohen will take that tack. Leaks about Cohen’s legal problems may come from him in a signal to DDT that he will need a pardon. The pardon, however, would take away from using Fifth Amendment if he is called on to testify against someone else—like DDT. Meanwhile, however, Cohen fails in his search for a buyer for his expensive Trump building apartment and lawyers.

Cohen also failed in court to get a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti to prevent him from speaking publicly about the lawsuit. Although Cohen had proclaimed “irreparable injury” to get the order, the judge regarded his request to be frivolous, “a complete joke and baseless” because Cohen “can’t deal with the truth, the facts, and the law.”

After several pundits said that Paul Manafort, former DDT campaign manager, should take a toothbrush with him to court, a judge ordered him to jail for tampering with witnesses while out on bail and waiting for trial on charges of federal conspiracy and money laundering. DDT again tried to minimize any relationship with Manafort and refused to talk about pardoning him. Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy, pled guilty to lying to Mueller’s investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

A judge did rule has that Robert Mueller’s office must reveal names of alleged foreign agents who worked with former DDT campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

DDT’s charitable foundation is in legal trouble for its “political coordination” with his presidential campaign, among other issues, but a major problem could be “a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance” from DDT via video in Kiev. Two weeks after DDT’s election, his foundation stated in a tax form that it may have been illegally benefited by the donation.

George Conway, husband of DDT’s counselor Kellyanne Conway, has come out with strong support of Robert Mueller’s legal authority in the Russia investigation in his essay “The Terrible Arguments against the Constitutionality of the Mueller Investigation.” A graduate of Harvard and Yale and a Republican, George Conway is an attorney who served as a clerk in the 2nd Circuit Court.

The DOJ has found several meetings between the NRA and elite Russians during the presidential campaign in its investigation about whether lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the organization. Influential Russians hosted NRA representatives in Moscow while the Kremlin hacked Democrat emails and put viral fake news on U.S. social media accounts to smear Hillary Clinton. Donating or using foreign money in U.S. election campaigns is a crime. The NRA, DDT’s biggest financial supporter, spent over $30 million, perhaps as much as $70 million, on his candidacy and has attempted to hide its expenditures and donors.

Russia also influenced the Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU, and at least two of the British actors in this collusion also provided support for DDT’s campaign. Emails show that British businessman Arron Banks, the largest donor in UK history during the campaign for UK’s departure from the EU who denied Russian involvement, had several meetings with Russians during Brexit. Banks also admitted that he gave phone numbers for these Russians to people on DDT’s transition team. The defense of “witch hunt” is now becoming popular with Brexit supporter Banks.

DDT’s staff are still causing him trouble. DDT bragged about how “everybody wants to work in the White House,” but so few people want to work for him that officials are begging for employee candidates at a conservative job fair.

Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs, plans to leave this summer. His leadership of DDT’s legislative agenda has not always been successful, and DDT has frequently criticized him while he goes out on his own to make his own unsuccessful deals. An example this past week is DDT’s claim that he wouldn’t sign the more moderate immigration bill to go before the House this coming week before declaring that he would sign either one of the bills that was passed. Two other communications staffers left the White House this week—Steven Cheung, director of strategic response, and Cliff Simms, now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s senior adviser. At least 18 of DDT’s 31 assistants—including six replacements—left their posts.

Another imminent high profile departure may be Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked about the possibility, DDT said that “at a certain point everyone sort of leaves, you have to leave.” Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah may also resign by the end of the year.

Three DOJ lawyers refused to support AG Jeff Sessions’ decision to not support the Affordable Care Act, but senior career Justice Department official Joel McElvain flat-out resigned. GOP Congress failed to repeal the law so Sessions will try to kill the ACA by not defending the law of the United States.

At the beginning of June, Rudy Guiliani yelled at his son for making out with his wife at the theater. Now 32-year-old Andrew Giuliani lost access to the White House without an escort despite his $77,000 a year job in the Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs. Chief of staff John Kelly and others also won’t promote Andrew because he “subverts the chain of command” and has other workplace issues. Rudy Giuliani disappeared from media for over a week after his denigrating comments about Stormy Daniels appearance. Maybe because his current wife, Judith Nathan, went to the media about his affairs, one of them with married New Hampshire hospital administrator Maria Rosa Ryan.

Some jobs in the White House are vital, for example taping together documents that DDT regularly tears up in his ignorance of the law. Former records management analyst Solomon Lartey and Reginald Young Jr., each making over $60,000 a year, have been fired for no reasons from their positions to repair notes and memos that DDT tears up for preservation according to the Presidential Records Act. Other workers are still taping papers back together again.

Another important government job responsibility is to keep track of DDT’s loyalists—and a black list of those who seem less than loyal. Mari Stull, former food lobbyist and wine blogger and currently senior adviser at the State Department, maintains a list of government officials and employees of international organizations and agencies, examining social media for political disagreement and past support of any of President Obama’s policies. Included are people who work for such agencies as the World Health Organization and the United Nations. People on the black list are kept out of meetings, and her actions are causing three assistant secretaries of state—Molly Phee, Erin Barclay, and Nerissa Cook—to quit or change agencies.

DDT may manage one nomination this coming week, Kathy Kraninger as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Interim director Mick Mulvaney has already eliminated the “protection” part of the agency, so Kraninger’s lack of experience in finance, banking, and consumer issues is irrelevant. She will, however, follow Mulvaney’s leadership of no government and regulations while promoting business interests.

Little climate news hits the mainstream media these days, but WashPo has reported that the melting Antarctica’s ice sheet is annually dumping 200 billion tons of ice into the ocean which raises sea levels one-half millimeter a year, tripling in the last decade. There goes Miami—and a lot more East Coast homes.

June 14, 2018

Clinton Report Smashes ‘Deep State’ Conspiracy

Eleven days before the 2016 presidential election, then FBI Director James Comey publicized another investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, this time found on the laptop of Anthony Wiener, then married to Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. Clinton’s polling sank before Comey provided information two days before the election that there was no illegal action—the same finding he made in all other investigations into her emails since she had been Secretary of State. But the damage was done. In combination with gerrymandering, voter suppression, and Russian “fake news” on social news, Comey’s actions gave the election to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Never did Comey announce before the election that the FBI had started looking into Russian involvement with DDT’s campaign four months before the election.

In frequent attempts to divert attention from the Robert Mueller’s investigation into DDT and Russia, DDT has demanded that the DOJ release the report regarding Comey’s participation in the election. Today, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the report that DDT lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives are touting as justification for stopping the Mueller investigation.

Horowitz’s office reviewed over 1.2 million document and interviewed over 100 people. These are some of the results to the 500+-page document.

Comey used personal email to conduct official business, “inconsistent with the FBI Policy Statement.” (Comey had accused Clinton of having classified information on her private email server, but these emails were not originally declared as classified.)

Horowitz, did not disagree with the FBI conclusion that Clinton should not be prosecuted and found no evidence that the FBI rigged the conclusion. Horowitz said, “We did not identify evidence of bias or improper considerations [about the conclusion].”

Comey was “insubordinate” in his probe and damaged the appearance of impartiality in the FBI and DOJ although he wasn’t motivated by politics. He hid his intentions from his superiors to keep them from stopping his making his statements and told subordinates to do the same.

Comey violated DOJ policies and usurped the authority of then Attorney General Loretta Lynch by holding the July 2016 news conference to announce a lack of insufficient evidence to charge Clinton with a federal crime for using a private email server.

The FBI was wrong in its one-month delay between the discovery of new Clinton emails on September 28, 2016 and the search warrant in late October to search for new evidence.

Comey made a “serious error of judgment” in sending a letter to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, announcing he was reopening the investigation of Clinton’s use of the server while secretary of state.

Five FBI officials expressed hostility toward DDT before his election; they have been referred for possible disciplinary action. (The FBI employs approximately 35,000 people.)

The report did not find the work of any FBI officials, even those expressing antagonism toward DDT, to be flawed. To remove their right to express their opinions on their own time removes their right to Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment.

Excerpts from a column by Jennifer Rubin, a Republican:

“The Justice Department’s inspector general’s report released Thursday makes clear that former FBI director James B. Comey blew it in his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails. He treated her unfairly, intruding into the election in ways that worked to Donald Trump’s benefit. Inspector general Michael Horowitz found that the FBI didn’t erroneously let Clinton go free. To the contrary, his report makes clear that Comey acted outside department norms in ways harmful to her….

“Comey’s conduct violated Justice Department norms and very possibly cost Clinton the election. Trump, already concerned about the legitimacy of his election, will have to wrestle with the fact that but for Comey’s grandstanding, he would not be president….”

After insistently demanding the Clinton report, DDT has nothing thus far to say about it. Soon, however, he will be slamming Comey for his inappropriate action and the behavior of his agents who gave DDT the highest office in the nation.

 

April 26, 2018

Zinke Possibly Next for Limelight

Much has been said about the corruption and environmental destruction by EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has flown under the radar. Yet Zinke is bent on razing public land in the United States while illegally using taxpayer monies. He also consistently brags about being a “geologist,” sometimes under oath, to give weight to all his opinions about endangered species, oil drilling, climate change, and anything else he declaims. Zinke’s only background in geology, however, comes from his college major. He attended the University of Oregon on a football scholarship and said he chose his major by “closing my eyes and randomly pointing to a major from the academic catalog.”

Zinke also failed to disclose information to ethics officials, promoted the birther conspiracy about President Obama, inappropriately reassigned a large number of Native Americans in his agency, frequently decried “diversity,” and inappropriately used taxpayer funds for his unnecessary travel and that of his wife who needed to go to her campaign events. He also reassigned a scientist who revealed the negative impact of climate change on Alaska Native communities. Zinke was also criticized for a 2014 campaign email asking for donations and reporting that he “served as a Team Leader on SEAL Team Six—the team responsible for the mission to get Osama Bin Laden.” Osama bin Laden was killed three years after Zinke retired.

Other Zinke issues:

  • Threatening Alaska’s GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, with penalties for their state if they didn’t vote for a health care plan.
  •  Ignoring the National Park System Advisory Board—refusing to even meet with them—until three-fourths of them quit.
  • Relying on a top energy industry lobbyist for help with a list of regulatory rollbacks.
  • Requiring extra work from his staff for coordinating his wife’s access to high-level politicians and donors to benefit her position chairing the senatorial campaign for GOP Troy Downing who is running against incumbent Sen. Jon Tester.
  • Promising Florida that he wouldn’t drill of its coast after planning coastal oil drilling off the other 13 states despite their governors’ objections. (Zinke said that Florida is “unique”: he might mean that Mar-a-Lago is in Florida and that Gov. Rick Scott is running against Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.)
  • Spending $53,000 on three helicopter trips, including one to go horseback riding with VP Mike Pence. (He paid for one of them out of wildfire preparedness funds until someone pointed out that it was inappropriate.)
  • Failing to disclose shares in a gun company that lobbies the government on “defense appropriations and authorizations” and “carbon fiber barrels.” (The company got an $11.4 million contract last year.)
  • Demanding confidential energy data for others’ use.
  • Illegally blocking plans to expand Native American tribes from expanding casino operations in Connecticut which benefitted politically connected MGM Resorts International.
  • Spending almost $139,000 to upgrade three sets of double doors in his office.
  •  Taking a taxpaid security detail on his vacation with his wife to Turkey and Greece.

More Zinke problems:

  • Changed regulations to allow seismic testing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Lifted restrictions on new coal leasing on public lands.
  • Proposed the elimination of safety requirements to protect communities from methane pollution by oil and gas drilling on public lands.
  • Renewed mining leases near Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
  • Proposed a 90-percent cut to America’s most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • Eliminated a policy asking parks to create plans for preserving natural resources and protecting them from threats like climate change.

Zinke has some esoteric positions. When he is in the building, he flies a special Department of Interior flag. A security staff takes the flag up the elevator to the seventh floor and climbs the stairs to the roof where he hoists the flag. At night, he repeats the journey to take down the flag. Zinke’s spokesperson called the flag “a major sign of transparency.” (The only other specialized flying flag in the government is above the State Department, but it’s always there.) Zinke arrived for his first day at work on horseback and kept a glass-case display of hunting knives until he was told to remove them because of security risks. His wood-paneled office walls sport animal heads. In a speech to fossil fuel executives, he complained that 30 percent of his agency are “not loyal to the flag.” (He didn’t say which one.)

Zinke also created a “challenge coin” for the Interior Department with his name emblazoned on the front. These coins began as a military tradition during World War I when Ivy League students slapped their coins on the table. The person without one had to buy a round of drinks for the others.

National Park Service officials have scrubbed every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in connection with sea-level rise and storm surge. Delays in releasing reports have blocked information about hurricane forecasts, safeguarding artifacts, and locating buildings. (Over at the EPA, Scott Pruitt tried to create a better coin with his name but omitting the EPA logo.)

Zinke’s 15-member “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from fishing, shooting sports, motorized vehicles, hospitality, and national park concessions interests, three of them having conflicts of interests. Missing are any nominees recommended by the Outdoor Industry Association advocating outdoor sports. Most members on the Royalty Policy Committee come from fossil fuel and mining industries. His new International Wildlife Conservation Council is mainly comprised of trophy hunters and individuals with ties to President Trump’s oldest son, who is an avid hunter. Member Peter Horn owns a hunting preserve in conjunction with Eric and Don Jr. Trump.

Zinke has made BLM staff in Western states propaganda tools by requiring them to wear “vision” cards with illustrations of an oil rig and cows grazing. The cards reference “customers” instead of “public” and list the purpose as improving “the health and productivity of the land.” Because BLM has no director, Zinke has taken that role, moving forward with plundering the lands resources. A key phrase in supporting the America First Energy Plan is “to serve industry.”

Zinke’s BIA Director Bryan Rice, appointed only six months ago, has resigned. As of this writing, nobody is talking about the reason.

Although only Florida is exempted from offshore oil drilling, Zinke is cooling off about drilling in the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic off Maine. He told the Senate Energy Committee that these places had little recoverable oil and gas. In another loss, he has backed down from a monstrous increase in park entrance fees of $45 to an extra $5, thanks to the vociferous public protest. He also postponed selling over 4,000 acres of leases near the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon after protests from indigenous people and withdrew 17,300 acres from a fossil fuel lease auction in Montana.  A big political loss was the election of Democrat Conor Lamb to be the representative after a special election in Pennsylvania despite Zinke’s show of presenting a check for a coal mine reclamation with GOP candidate Rick Saccone in attendance. Once again Republicans have gotten away with violated the Hatch Act.

Despite criticism, Zinke continues his destruction of public land. In his testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he repeated his plans to cover the National Park Service maintenance backlog with revenue from mining and drilling. Republicans in both congressional chambers already have bills in accord with Zinke’s desires. If they get their way, they will sell off sensitive wildlife habitat such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil companies too build park bathrooms. Other national monuments would be opened to mining and drilling. The plan will likely fail because it requires an oil price that are double the current level.

Zinke is unhappy about being questioned for his profligate spending, and he’s sure to hate this hilarious—and accurate—segment on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight which includes the Interior Secretary throwing the “Second Lady,” Karen Pence, around like a “sack of unbleached flour.”  Zinke banned a reporter from Outside from his presence for pointing out that Zinke had rigged his fly rod backward. That’s considered bad form in Montana.

Recently dark money is paying for ads, and Zinke is meeting with deep-pocketed donors. A polling firm has called Iowa GOP voters, testing Zinke’s name recognition for a 2024 presidential run. With all his problems, he may need to wait before he measures for drapes in the Oval Office. He might first run for Montana governor because he exempted Montana from moving public lands to the private sector.

During Zinke’s confirmation hearings, he promised that he would follow Teddy Roosevelt in being a steward of the lands with his concern about global warming. Once confirmed, he started selling off national monuments to the highest bidder and dropping regulations to satisfy business interests. Sen. Ron Wyden said it best when he stated that voting for Zinke was “one of the biggest regrets of my time in public service.”

March 13, 2018

Fired by Tweet

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) once again avoided saying, “You’re fired!” by tweeting the name of a replacement for former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. For almost 60 weeks, he has weaseled out of firing anyone, leaving it to others such as Chief of Staff John Kelly or driving people to resign through humiliation. Early this morning DDT tweeted:

“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”

According to Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein, Tillerson didn’t know he lost his position until he read the tweet. Goldstein said that Tillerson “did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason” for his firing, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve.” He added that Tillerson had “every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security.” Since then, Goldstein was fired, leaving only one permanent undersecretary out of six. The only one remaining plans to leave when his replacement is confirmed.

DDT said that Tillerson is gone because they don’t agree and that he picked Mike Pompeo, former CIA Director, because they do agree. Recently DDT and Tillerson disagreed about concerned the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Tulia, in Salisbury, England. Tillerson supported British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying that Russia most likely is responsible. He said that the poisoning as part of a “certain unleashing of activity” by Russia that would “certainly trigger a response” and that the nerve agent definitely “came from Russia.” Tillerson told British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that he’s “extremely concerned” about Russia and that his efforts to push the Trump administration to resolve differences with the Kremlin “didn’t get very far.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders first repeatedly avoided the mention of Russia in connection with the poisoning and described the attack as “reckless, indiscriminate, and irresponsible.” Since Tillerson’s firing, DDT has said that he and May need to ask Russia about the poisoning. Typically, DDT accepts Putin’s answer when he refuses to take any blame, i.e., when DDT asked Putin if he meddled in the U.S. presidential election.

Nikolai Glushkov’s death in London yesterday also has the marks of Russian involvement. The Russian exile was close to the late oligarch and former Putin close friend Boris Berezovsky, who died five years ago in English where he sought exile after a falling out with the Russian president. A large number of Russian exiles have mysteriously died, considered either murder or unexplained.

The Senate must confirm Mike Pompeo before he takes the position of Secretary of State. If this happens, Pompeo may help DDT to support Russia by leaving the Iranian deal, permitting Iran to resume nuclear empowerment, and follow a hawkish approach toward North Korea. DDT and Tillerson also disagreed about blockading Qatar in support of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries. DDT decided to oppose Qatar after his son-in-law Jared Kushner lost a loan from a wealthy resident of Qatar. Tillerson also skipped a visit to Israel in his Middle East tour.

The media started guessing about Pompeo’s replacing Tillerson over five months ago, but DDT kept denying that there was a problem. In secret, however, he criticized Tillerson and listened to those who advocated his firing. Many people thought Tillerson’s position with DDT was in jeopardy, especially after he reportedly called DDT a “moron” last summer. Yet the guess was that that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster would be the next to go. NBC has this record of 25 key departures since January 30, 2017.

A few Pompeo shortcomings while U.S. GOP representative from Kansas and CIA director:

  • For six years, Pompeo was the #1 all-time recipient of Koch Industries, receiving almost $1 million for four elections.
  • A Tea Party member, Pompeo is a major denier of climate science, determined to fight the Paris Climate Accord that is supported by almost 200 nations. During his CIA Director confirmation hearings, he refused to answer any questions about climate change.
  • Openly anti-LGBTQ, Pompeo refused to honor the CIA’s diversity mandate and became openly angry about questions about the CIA commitment to diversity. Pompeo also defended DDT’s “many sides” statements about Charlottesville (VA) protesters by claiming that DDT’s condemnation of bigotry was “frankly pretty unambiguous.”
  • Pompeo blackmailed Harvard Kennedy School into rescinding its invitation to Chelsea Manning as “visiting fellow” by cancelling an appearance to a Harvard forum in a letter that stated, “I believe it is shameful for Harvard to place its stamp of approval upon her treasonous actions.” He also said that Edward Snowden should be executed as a treasonous traitor.
  • Although he knew that Michael Flynn was subject to Russian blackmail, he kept briefing Flynn on classified secrets.
  • Overtly political in his defense of DDT, Pompeo first consistently said first that the CIA had not found any information of Russian meddling in the election. He said, “We conducted an election that had integrity.” After Russian meddling became public, he claimed that the intelligence had proved Russian interference did not affect the outcome of the 2016 election. CIA officials had to correct him and explain that the CIA did not conclude anything about the Russian affect on the election.
  • Pompeo blamed Iran for the chaos in Iraq, Yemen and other parts of the Middle East.
  • Inserting religion into public CIA events, Pompeo also described the War on Terror as a clash between Christianity and Islam.
  • Pompeo supports domestic surveillance operations, including against U.S citizens.
  • CIA officials distrust CIA Director Pompeo because of his loyalties to DDT, despite the CIA being an independent agency.

This is the man who could be fourth in the presidential line of succession after vice president, speaker of the House, and Senate president pro tempore.

Gina Haspel is another problematic choice for CIA director. She operated a prison in Thailand that used torture interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and personally participated in the torture. When this was discovered, she then ordered the tapes of the torturing destroyed. Rolling Stone has a description of the torture. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, a Berlin-based NGO, has called for Haspel’s arrest for her role in the torture of detainees.

Studies show that torture is not an effective method of obtaining information and often results in the tortured people lying to end the torture. A 2014 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded, “the CIA’s use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.” Multiple detainees, according to the report, “fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence.”

Also unexpectedly fired today was DDT’s personal aide John McEntee who is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes. The Wall Street Journal described these as online gambling and mishandling of his taxes. Security officials escorted him out of the White House before he could get his jacket and other belongings. DDT immediately hired McEntee as senior adviser for campaign operations.

DDT may fill the swamp with even more hawks if he appoints TV personality Larry Kudlow to replace and former UN Ambassador John Bolton as national security adviser. Gone is the diplomacy in favor of DDT’ bullying manner. Tillerson was blamed for doing very little; Pompeo may do much more, but his actions can be dangerous for the United States.

September 18, 2017

DDT’s Hires Selected to Destroy U.S.

Filed under: Executive action — trp2011 @ 10:19 PM
Tags: , ,

People disappear from the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) soon after he starts addressing them by Mr., as with “Mr.” Bannon. Aides also say that another sign is his refusal to look them in the eye as happened with Gary D. Cohn, chair of the National Economic Council, after the former Goldman Sachs executive described his disgust at DDT’s white supremacist remarks after the neo-Nazis’ violence in Charlottesville (VA). Cohn is also no longer a contender for the next Federal Reserve chair after publicly disagreeing with DDT.

DDT’s world, however, is still filled with wealthy corrupt cronies who either benefited him in the past or could give him personal advantage in the future. A common characteristic among most Cabinet members is that they had no experience or knowledge to carry out the agencies’ missions. They are also very rich, which DDT justifies by claiming that they can make the nation rich because they made themselves rich. An increased normalization of DDT’s behavior has resulted in less commentary about inappropriate nominees and hires plus the Democrats’ lack of opposition in confirmations.

A job description for DDT’s nominees and hires could read:

Wanted for government service: no experience/knowledge about the job; desire to privatize all services at increased costs to taxpayers; beliefs in opposition to all agencies’ missions; loyalty only to the “boss.”

A few hires who didn’t need Senate confirmation:

Fred Malek, 80, as chair of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a think tank that is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Malek had served as Richard Nixon’s special assistant with the duty of listing “important Jewish officials” working in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Four of them were demoted because Nixon believed that Democratic Jews in the BLS were conspiring against him with a report minimizing a drop in the unemployment rate. Until DDT, this episode was characterized as “the last recorded act of official anti-Semitism by the United States government.” Malek lied about not being complicit in the demotions.

Joe Grogan, lobbyist for a pharma company price-gouging in hepatitis C. treatment, for drug pricing policies.

Donald G. Kempf Jr., counsel representing corporations in antitrust and mergers, for deputy attorney general in the DOJ antitrust division, overseeing litigation.

Brad Bailey, lobbyist for H&R Block to stop a free federal tax filing system, for Legislative Affairs.

Scott Angelle, successful in ending moratorium on deepwater drilling after BP’s oil spill, for Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that oversees safety for offshore oil and gas drilling.

Charles Faulkner, lobbyist for foreign governments, for deputy assistant secretary of state.

Wendy Teramoto, managing director at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s former investment firm, for Ross’ chief of staff.

Michael Dougherty, prior CEO of the company that sells border and law enforcement technologies, for assistant secretary for border, immigration and trade policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Mark Vafiades, climate-denying Hollywood actor who thinks that the U.S. suffers from massive voter fraud, for communications director at Health and Human Services.

Emily McBride, a former aide to Jeff Sessions, for special assistant to the head of the General Services Administration which is in charge of leasing DDT’s Washington hotel to him and reviews its finances.

Adam Kissel, a worker for Koch’s higher education programs and critic of investigating campus sexual assault, for deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs.

Jonathan Galaviz, consultant for foreign governments including Russian state-run investment firms, for adviser at the State Department’s Office of Security, Democracy and Human Rights.

Alexander Fitzsimmons, member of PR group supporting fossil fuels backed by Koch Industries, for chief of staff and senior adviser at the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Julian Schmoke, Jr. chosen by Secretary of Education to manage the Federal Student Aid Enforcement Unit to oversee for-profit college fraud cases. He is a former executive from DeVry University that agreed to pay a $100 million settlement for intentionally deceiving students with false advertisements about placement rates. Last month, DeVos stopped rules to keep schools from scamming students. With no investigation experience, Smoke replaces Robert Kaye who had years of previous experience investigating consumer fraud.

Pam Bondi, appointed to the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis after DDT made illegal campaign contributions for her successful Florida attorney general campaign. She keeps her current position while on the panel, but its work is supposedly finished by October 1, 2017. Bondi stopped investigations against “Trump University” after the donations from DDT’s charitable foundation.

A list of over 1,000 DDT political appointments for industry insiders and loyalists, including the 140 revealed in March by ProPublica, shows how their job descriptions are at odds with their beliefs. Of the approximately 500 new appointees on this list, at least 61 were registered lobbyists at the federal level.

Of the 277 people needing Senate confirmation, only 44 percent have been confirmed because of DDT’s delays. Gaps in federal agencies have been filled by at least 18 “senior White House advisers” with little to no government experience. Nominees who need Senate confirmation:

For the DOJ Antitrust division, DDT wants Makan Delrahim, a corporate attorney turned lobbyist who’s made his career on advancing corporate mega-mergers. One of his successes is to help Google become one of two tech giants that got 98 percent of every new ad dollar spent last year. Other clients—AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Merck, Oracle, Pfizer, etc.—face or recently settle antitrust litigation. Failure of antitrust laws is shown by the decrease of competition in the market place as companies charged 67 percent profit margins in 2014 compared with 18 percent in 1980.

Former attorney for the Russian bank Alfa Bank that has been connected to DDT’s campaign, Brian Benczkowski, has been appointed as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), nominated for director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is a climate denier with no science or engineering qualifications. He is so ignorant that he said, “Global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago.” Commercial space companies support Bridenstine because he wants to privatize U.S. civil and military space activities.

Eric Dreiband, nominated to lead the DOJ Civil Rights Division, has worked for over a dozen years to defend big corporations against employee civil rights claims. He testified against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act, saying that it would “create unanticipated and potentially ruinous liability” for employers, and defended banning transgender people from bathrooms matching their identities.

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), nominated for “drug czar,” is “a hard-liner on marijuana issues and he recently said that he’d like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of ‘hospital-slash-prison,'” according to the Washington Post. He’s a retread in nominations after pulling his name four months ago, claiming a “critical illness” in his family. He protected big pharma companies from their distribution of large amounts of opioids, ignored Columbian drug kingpins, judge-shopped in 1998 to get a cocaine-dealing expungement for a friend, and served as a personal reference for convicted felon Louis DeNaples to open a casino when his AG office was investigating DeNaples.

Sam Clovis, nominated for USDA’s under-secretary for research, education and economics, would oversee billions of dollars in research spending and serve as a cross-departmental science czar. A birther and another climate denier, Clovis made bigoted statements such as President Obama being “given a pass because he is Black” and declaring homosexuality a choice, linking marriage equality to pedophilia

DDT may fail to get his former campaign lawyer, James “Trey” Trainor III, as an FEC commissioner. Trainor, supportive of dark money, also retweeted anti-Protestant viewpoints such as “There is only one church” from the Catholic site Churchmilitant.com that states “Protestantism is poison.” As private lawyer, he represented Empower Texas in their fight to keep secret the donors to the Texas Ethics Commission.

DDT has nominated 42 U.S. attorneys general to fill the positions of the 46 who he fired. Of the 42 nominations, 41 are men.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/trump-forgets-his-talking-points-empty-administration-posts?cid=eml_mra_20170829   DDT has gone 360 degrees in filling government jobs. Six months ago, he called federal positions “unnecessary” before whining about Democrats not confirming the people who he had not nominated. After Hurricane Harvey, he said:

“We are not looking to fill all of those positions. Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”

Missing are the Secretary of DHS, who supervises FEMA, and the director of NOAA, who is responsible for weather prediction. Also missing are two deputy FEMA administrators, one in charge of protection and national preparedness. South Korea has no ambassador.

Tomorrow, DDT gives a speech to the UN about the U.S. place in the world. Five of the six under secretary of state positions are unfilled and an Obama selection holds the sixth. Critical ambassador posts stay vacant, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that he doesn’t need most special envoys such as those for climate change, the Iran nuclear deal, and Afghanistan-Pakistan. Tillerson is ignoring important meetings this week with UN members. DDT said that he would hire the best people; instead, he has done exactly the reverse and shattered not only domestic policy but also the U.S. standing in the world.

On the other hand, maybe the nation is lucky that he isn’t putting more slimey creatures into the swamp.

February 22, 2017

Deportation Guidelines Chaotic, Destructive to All

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) timing is suspect in his attempt to distract people from the horrific things he does. On the same day that he announced he was not racist—trying to cover for his avoidance of the topic since he was inaugurated–his administration released new draconian guidelines for deportation and the construction of his border wall. The next day Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to mend fences that DDT had put up between him and Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto.

It’s the same approach that DDT used on January 25 when he gave out his first executive orders on immigration and the wall, leading the Mexican president to cancel his plans to visit the United States within a few days. Since then, DDT has threatened to send U.S. military into Mexico to battle crime because Peña Nieto couldn’t handle it. This conversation followed DDT’s frequent campaign accusations that Mexico deliberately sent their drug dealers and rapists to the U.S.

With the new guidelines for deportation, DDT seems to think that any undocumented person in the United States just gets dropped on the other side of the border, no matter their country of origin. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), one of a group of U.S. senators visiting Mexico last weekend, said that migrants to the U.S. are largely not from Mexico but crossing the country from other parts of Latin America. He said that the U.S. needs Mexico’s cooperation to deal with that problem. DDT’s radical anti-Mexico rhetoric has energized progressive Mexican political parties, worrying business leaders on both sides of the border, and thousands of people rallied against DDT in Mexico City a few days ago.

According to the new guidelines, anyone with an immigration violation can be deported. No longer will the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency prioritize the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants who commit serious offenses. No “classes or categories of removal aliens” will be exempt from potential enforcement, according to the ICE website. Undocumented workers can be deported for paying taxes if they are using a false Social Security number. Immigrants who have completed their jail sentences are on the deportation list.

The old guidelines subjected immigrants to “expedited removal” without pleading their cases in front of immigration judges if they were caught within 14 days of entering the country without authorization and within 100 miles of the two contiguous countries of Canada and Mexico. New guidelines changed that time limit to two years and allows officials bypass due process protections such as court hearings during that time.

Unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries to seek humanitarian relief will be affected by the new guidelines. International law requires that these non-citizens have the right to make a case that they left these countries to avoid persecution or death, but they will be deported if they cannot immediately present documents explaining a “credible” fear to apply for asylum. The 59,692 unaccompanied children who came across the southern U.S. border in 2016 face this deportation. New guidelines indicate that children reunited with their parents in the U.S. will no longer be “unaccompanied” and can be deported.

ICE can take away children from parents legally in the U.S. who smuggle them into the country under the pretense of child abuse by submitting them to this process and be referred for criminal prosecution. They may also face charges of human trafficking. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had unsuccessfully tried to persuade past AG Loretta Lynch to follow this procedure, but she is gone and Sessions is in charge.

Another part of the guidelines restores the Secure Communities Program, allowing ICE to get help from local law enforcement for detaining and deporting immigrants, making these officials de facto immigration agents. It also terminates the Priority Enforcement Program that prioritized serious crimes for deportation and asked for leniency for immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

DHS plans to hire 10,000 or more additional agents, expand the number of detention facilities, and create an ICE office to help families of those killed by undocumented workers. DDT has not identified the source of billions of dollars required for these guidelines. Undocumented immigrants will have their crimes publicized, and they will be stripped of privacy protections. Although Dreamers, who were brought to the United States as young children, are not to be targeted unless they commit crimes, ICE agents have been violating this order.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the new guidelines show that “the No. 1 priority is that people who pose a threat to our country are immediately dealt with.” Yet crime is lower among immigrants than native-born people of the United States.

Lawyers and advocates for immigrants said the new policies could still be challenged in court, and some courts in states such as Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are not holding immigrants for up to 48 hours beyond the scheduled release from detention. Since at least 1886, courts have used the 14th Amendment to give some constitutional equality and fair treatment to non-citizens. Many states and cities are not using law enforcement workers to identify undocumented immigrants, a federal responsibility.

Two former Senate aides for Sessions drafted the plan with no input from career DHS policy staffers. Much of it came from a 1996 law disregarded as either unenforceable or absurd, including the part that returns people “to the foreign contiguous territory from which they arrived.” The memo states that the U.S. can save money that way. Nothing was said about the security problems along the border as undocumented immigrants are pushed back and forth.

DDT said that he would send back only criminals, but the redefinition of crime includes everyone in the nation who came in without a proper visa or overstayed a visit. The idea to hire 10,000 new agents overlooks the fact that the U.S. can’t fill the existing positions. Sixty percent of applicants to the Border Patrol fail the mandated polygraph, and those who are hired aren’t sent into the field for 18 months. As for using existing law enforcement officials, police departments in the largest cities don’t participate because of their belief that it erodes the trust between officers and the communities that they are protecting.

Beyond the destruction of families and lives, the new guidelines will erase much of the labor pool for farm workers, especially in the West and Southwest. About 57 percent of the nation’s entire agricultural workforce is undocumented. Other industries—meatpacking, building, healthcare, restaurant and retail service, for example—are dependent on immigrant labor. Immigrants comprise 40 percent of Wisconsin’s dairy industry workers and almost one in three U.S. farming and fishing workers is from Mexico. The 8 million undocumented immigrants who are employed comprise over five percent of all workers and are clustered in low-wage industries, frequently making under minimum wage.

Alabama has already experienced the devastation from fewer undocumented immigrants after Gov. Robert Bentley, now on the verge of impeachment, signed a law causing these workers to flee the state. Farmers had to plant less because their crops had rotted in the field in the previous year. Georgia did the same thing, and farmers lost 40 percent of their workers along with $140 million worth of crops in just the first year. Farmers tried to hire local workers, but they couldn’t even last a day. Prisoners were sent out to pick crops, but they couldn’t endure the work. Even with visas for farm workers, farmers have had to watch their crops rot because of bureaucratic difficulties.

DDT’s plan could cost the economy $5 trillion in ten years—that’s $500 billion a year—with unauthorized workers contributing about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product.

As the graph in this article shows, no state supports DDT’s deportation plan, even if a majority of their voters supported DDT in the election. Let’s just hope that they remember what DDT is doing in the 2018 election.

DDT’s racist plan concentrates on Hispanics, who comprise fewer than half the number of undocumented immigrants, and stereotypes all of them as criminals. The plan shreds lives, families, communities, and businesses; it is an action that touches everyone in the nation in some way–physically, emotionally, and financially.

As usual, DDT controls people with unsubstantiated fears. He loves creating chaos, and the nation is allowing him to play with the country as he would with his other toys. As usual, he controls people with unsubstantiated fears.

 

February 7, 2017

Bannon Runs U.S. While Unhappy Trump Takes Heat

“Trump has skin thinner than his wife and an ego bigger than my ass,” Helen Philpot wrote on her insightful blog to her friend Margaret. At the same time, Donald Trump (DDT), who desperately needs accolades, suffers from popular culture’s ridicule and criticism. Comedians’ humor and magazine covers’ condemnation highlight the elevation of DDT’s chief strategist to de facto President of the United States.

In two memorable skits from Saturday Night Live last weekend, the one featuring Melissa McCarthy as Press Secretary Sean Spicer was a particular embarrassment to DDT because he hates weakness—and women, to DDT, are weak. Even worse for DDT, allies found the representation to be accurate. After McCarthy’s success, Rosie O’Donnell has offered to play Steve Bannon on SNL.

alec-baldwin-bannonAnother SNL skit last week portrayed Bannon as the Grim Reaper who pulls the strings for DDT’s actions. Playing DDT, Alec Baldwin alienates leaders of U.S. allies, and the Bannon character says, “It was just according to plan.” The Bannon figure moves to the president’s desk at the end of the skit while the DDT character becomes child-sized.

trevor-noahHarsher than SNL, Trevor Noah played “Who’s the Real President” on The Daily Show. His pick is, of course, Steve Bannon. Noah used the Bannon image on the Time cover as evidence that “even the ‘dishonest media’ recognizes that Bannon is the ‘real power behind the throne.’” Time titled Bannon as “The Great Manipulator.”

der-spiegelIn the past, DDT has (falsely) bragged about his appearances on the cover of Time. Thus far he hasn’t tweeted anything about his image on the cover of Der Spiegel with the words “America First.” The artwork shows how the United States is rising to the top—by beheading Lady Liberty.

der-spiegel-2-ny-daily-newsThis cover is a classier version of the New York Daily Post illustration in December 2015 after DDT first called for a complete ban on Muslims “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

 

cover-economistThe cover of The Economist, illustrated an unusually radical editorial:

 

“The bleak cadence of last month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped…. His grenade-chuckers-in-chief, Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller, have now carried that logic into government… The secrecy and confusion of the immigration ban are a sign not of failure, but of how his people shun the self-serving experts who habitually subvert the popular will. Trump’s politics of conflict extends, of course, to foreign policy, and that is where they see serious problems looming.

“A web of bilateralism and a jerry-rigged regionalism are palpably worse for America than the world Mr. Trump inherited. It is not too late for him to conclude how much worse, to ditch his bomb-throwers and switch course. The world should hope for that outcome. But it must prepare for trouble.”

MSNBC Joe Scarborough, known for his campaign support for DDT, broadcast a clip of the Alec Baldwin skit and the cover from Time on The Morning Joe Show. During his monologue, he asked if Bannon was “calling the shots.” An hour later, DDT tweeted:

“I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it.”

Not everyone. The day before the tweet, Madeleine Albright, secretary of State for Bill Clinton, told CNN that she assumed Bannon was “the person that’s pulling the strings.” Other pundits and politicians have suggested the same idea.

DDT’s ego is suffering from the belief that he is not in control and the fact that a mere member of his staff has taken the place on Time that he thinks should belong to him. A White House source said, “I assume President Trump was not pleased with the Time cover, because that is reserved for Donald Trump.” Trump-supporter and GOP strategist John Feehery said, “Any time you have staff members on the cover of Time magazine, that’s a problem.”

trump-bannon-big-boyBannon’s presidential duties include writing vague, confusing executive orders with no professional vetting, ones that DDT sometimes signs without reading them. A prime example is the one that put Bannon on the National Security Council while removing career military and intelligence people. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence are allowed to attend only when issues concern their “direct areas of responsibilities.” Crazy torturer Michael Flynn, National Security Advisor, stayed.

Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, “This is a ‘Holy Crap’ moment.” One of these happened with Bannon’s involvement in the disastrous Yemen raid that killed a Navy Seal and many civilian women and children but leaving its target, Al Qaeda Leader Qassim Al-Rimi, still alive and taunting DDT.

Sen. Susan Collin (R-ME) said:

“What I’m concerned about is the president’s executive order reorganizing the NSC in a way that removes the director of national intelligence, the only person who can provide a comprehensive overview of intelligence on a policy issue, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, the only one who has the comprehensive view of the military consequences of a particular policy from the principal’s committee.”

The danger of Steve Bannon as president goes far beyond his ignorance. His goal, according to past writings and speeches, is to put the United States in the midst of a global war using DDT as “a blunt instrument for us,” possibly the white supremacists. Bannon has been praised for his similarity to Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s favorite propagandist and his racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist, and Islamophobic voice.

Bannon’s friends have cited his aggression and obsession with war and aggression as he looks forward to social chaos, the purpose of his executive orders. His goal is to demolish the United States and recreate a Tea Party-led version of the Bolshevik Revolution. He has predicted that He predicts that “we’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict.” Despite Bannon’s hatred for Islam, that he calls the “most radical” religion in the world, the Middle East isn’t Bannon’s only warring focus; he also aims at “war in the South China Sea.” He also wants to depose Germany’s Angela Merkel to create a white supremacy in Europe.

In Bannon’s attack on the free press, he described the media as a “fifth column,” defined as a group that fights for a nation’s enemies. The position parallels the actions of dictators and tyrants who manipulate by “owning” information through “alternative facts” by scattering doubt and confusion about truth. Toward that end, Bannon persuades people that he opposes the “elites” who work in media. He said:

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

Bannon found satisfaction in the turmoil and condemnation of the Muslim ban that raised huge protests and media attention. He sees the publicity as a PR win. It was Bannon’s decision “to include green card holders in the president’s temporary ban on travel from Muslim countries,” according to Raw Story’s David Edwards. Vanity Fair’s Emily Jane Fox pointed out that Bannon responsible for “fuel(ing) Trump’s firefight with the media, discrediting and undermining the mainstream voices opposed to his anti-immigrant and anti-trade agenda.”

bannon-trumpJust as DDT refused to repudiate the Ku Klux Klan, he has refused to condemn Bannon’s Islamophobic remarks and sent a message to white supremacists the he’s on their side. DDT has been delighted to pass his presidential obligations to someone else because of his short attention span and no interest in public policy. His specialty is marketing shady real estate deals and making money off declaring bankruptcy. All he wants is to preen in front of hand-picked crowds that approve of his boorish behavior and make up information that has no reality in real life. Whenever he finds himself criticized, he angrily tweets and then leads the crowds into another diversion before he calls another country’s leader to alienate them.

A question is how long Bannon will last with constant derision of Bannon’s control. And how close to the sun will hubris take Bannon and DDT before they fall into the sea, just as Icarus did in Greek mythology.

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