Nel's New Day

March 23, 2017

Deny Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice

The Senate hearings for Neil Gorsuch ended today, and Republicans are already congratulating themselves for getting such a far-right justice after refusing to even speak to Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee almost an entire year before the end of his second term. “Unreasonable” and “obstructionist” are two popular terms from the conservatives who completely ignored Garland for almost a year while they claimed that Supreme Court justice decisions should never be considered during a campaign season. Yet the United States is in the midst of a campaign season: Dictator Donald Trump (DTT) declared his 2020 candidacy on the day of his inauguration, and he’s already holding rallies funded by his campaign donations.

Even worse, the evidence keeps piling up that DDT was not legitimately elected to his current office following testimony by FBI director James Comey and other reports from intelligence agencies. The strong suggestion of an impeachment for DDT began swirling even before he was inaugurated, and the daily occurrences of his conflicts of interest make the length of his term even more tenuous. Further, DDT’s behavior is make the United States increasingly unstable.

Just 45 percent favor Gorsuch’s nomination’s nomination for the Court, the lowest level of public support for a Supreme Court nominee since Robert Bork (31 percent) and Harriet Miers (44 percent). Even the Fox poll could find only a 49 percent approval for Gorsuch, and approval among women was only 42 percent. The Senate rejected Bork, and Miers withdrew under intense criticism. Gorsuch’s glib charm will almost surely not have the same result for him as Bork and Miers, but he’s no more deserving than they were.

Gorsuch’s philosophy as shown in Chevron is that unelected judges should have far more power to strike down regulations, a belief extremely popular with Republicans. He believes in blocking agencies from writing regulations that implement congressional laws signed by the president as shown by his opposition to a long-standing legal doctrine tried in a case involving Chevron. Even Antonin Scalia supported the importance of regulations that allow “flexibility, and appropriate political participation, in the administrative process.” Gorsuch wrote that liberals are focused on achieving goals, such as marriage equality, through litigation, but like other conservative judges, he supports the use of corporation lawsuits to strike down laws they oppose. The chart below shows that the only current justice farther right than Gorsuch is Clarence Thomas, but his rulings and writings may show that he’s even more right. Justice Thomas voted this week to overturn one of Gorsuch’s rulings.

Republicans are obsessed with replacing Antonin Scalia with an even more far-right justice. They conveniently forgot that they replaced Thurgood Marshall, one of the finest justices in history, with Clarence Thomas, who is severely flawed with conflicts of interest and other issues while he votes as far right as possible. The only “replacement” that Republicans made was choosing another man of color in Thomas.

Gorsuch’s history shows that he attacks women’s equality by putting employers’ preferences ahead of women’s rights, failing to protect women from pregnancy discrimination, eliminating women’s access to health care, and even denying women access to justice. During a discussion in Gorsuch’s law class, he said that employers should ask female applicants if they plan to start a family because women manipulate maternity leave policies at the company’s expense before resigning—a flagrantly illegal action. In the hearings, Gorsuch first denied saying this but then refused to state whether questioning women and not men about plans for adding to the family would violate the law.

In his writings, Gorsuch has argued against the legal principals of Roe v. Wade and disagrees with the right to privacy allowing legalized abortion. Removing that right removes constitutional rights for individuals to make decisions about sex, reproduction, and marriage. Gorsuch tends to bar women from litigating discrimination claims, going so far as to ignore U.S. Supreme Court precedent in his refusal. When he did take a case of sexual harassment, he ruled that it didn’t exist because the manager was also hard on the men—although UPS drivers testified that the manager was worse on the only female on the team.

Gorsuch’s opposition to substantive due process shows that he disagrees with the Supreme Court’s affirmation that a person’s right to liberty also protects their dignity, to life free of interference and to making personal decisions free of discrimination. As an “originalist,” he believes that this right is not in the Constitution although SCOTUS has disagreed with his position. Gorsuch prefers equal protection which denies medical aided death because of his belief in an inalienable right to life. The right to dignity was the basis for Justice Paul Stevens’ dissent to upholding Georgia’s anti-sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick. Stevens maintained that federal judges have the responsibility to protect an individual’s right to decide “how he will live his own life.” Justice Anthony Kennedy used Stevens’ dissent to overturn sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas and to declare marriage equality in United States v. Windsor and later in Obergefell v. Hodges. Gorsuch could attempt to overturn these rights as well as Roe v. Wade because he doesn’t believe in “dignity.”

As part of the GOP culture of cruelty, Gorsuch ruled that a truck driver should die rather than leave his rig in sub-zero weather, that a woman recuperating from a bone marrow transplant should risk getting the flu rather than work from home for a short time, and that disabled children don’t deserve an education. He called the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in 2014, leading to a prolonged painful death, an “innocent misadventure” when he ruled that Oklahoma should continue its untested lethal injection protocol. He also wrote two separate opinions against blocking felons from possessing guns.

An examination of Gorsuch’s cruel votes shows that he almost always sides with the “big guys”—corporations and school systems rather than individuals. His strong support for corporations may come from his associates in his personal life. A lawyer at a Washington law firm in the early 2000s, Gorsuch represented Philip Anschutz and his companies. Anschutz successfully lobbied Colorado’s lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to get Gorsuch onto the federal appeals court in 2006. Now a multi-millionaire, Gorsuch is welcome among that wealthy at Anschutz’ ranch, and he is partners in a company with two of Anschutz’ colleagues. They are so close that Gorsuch has built a vacation home with them.

What Gorsuch says in the hearings means very little because GOP-supported candidates show that their answers mean nothing. Asked in his hearing about the right to vote being “a fundamental constitutional right,” Chief Justice John Roberts said, “It is preservative, I think, of all the other rights.” He said he had no issue with upholding the Voting Rights Act that he gutted eight years later. He also said, about having no agenda, “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rules, they apply them.” That was before he pushed the court to the right in outlawing school integration, blocking Medicaid expansion, and allowing—not once but twice—unlimited secret corporate spending for political campaigns.

In the hearings, Gorsuch talked about judicial modesty and not being a “super-legislator,” but his rulings show that he has tried to establish law in ruling against employees in cases involving federal race, sex, age, disability and political discrimination and retaliation claims. In a count, it’s corporation 21, humans 2. There’s a very good reason that big special interests are spending millions of dollars in dark money to push his confirmation.

Republicans praise Neil Gorsuch because he writes well and concisely, because he calls himself a textualist or originalist, and because he votes for big business, big donors, and big bosses. He was hand-picked by the far-right Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation and has close ties to a conservative billionaire. These are all reasons that he should be opposed. It was rumored that some Democrats would vote to confirm him in exchange for a promise from the Republicans to keep the filibuster for Supreme Court justices. The argument that another candidate might be worse than Gorsuch is invalid because he’s on the far-right edge of current Supreme Court justices’ ideology. In addition, the GOP is not known for keeping its promises.

Keeping the filibuster is of no value if Democrats don’t use it. Democrats should live up to the party’s values and not support a Supreme Court justice who is anti-woman, anti-LGBT, anti-worker, anti-voting rights, anti-education rights, anti-civil rights, and anti-dignity. I want Democrats to develop the same “intestinal fortitude” as the far-right House Republicans who refuse to vote for the new health care act even after the president threatens them with losing their next election. I disagree with the views of these GOP representatives, but I want Democrats to stand for their values in the same way that these conservatives are doing.

Gorsuch will probably be a Supreme Court justice, but Democrats should not be complicit in putting him in that position.

March 18, 2017

A Few Snippets about DDT

It’s been a hard week for Dictator Donald Trump–nothing is worse for him than ridicule. Here are a few pieces that emerged from the past.

Only Yesterday: To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a visit from Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenney, DDT mispronounced Fionnuala Kenny, the Prime Minister’s wife, and read “Remember to Forget” that he called an “Irish proverb.” It happens to be written by Nigerian poet, Albashir Adam Alhassan. During the same day, he insulted German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The man inaugurated on January 20 managed to offend two world leaders in one day.

How do past Trump supporters feel about their vote? This man tells it all. As James Walker, 31, said: “This is the first step: showing up and being honest.”

Working Is Hard! Rex Tillerson cut his trip short to South Korea due to fatigue after he said that the U.S. might go to war with North Korea: “The policy of strategic patience has ended.” It is only his second trip as Secretary of State. When Hillary Clinton held that position, she traveled Total miles traveled 956,733 miles and 401 days to 112 countries. We know about Tilleron’s actions only from the Korean press because he took only one reporter from an obscure conservative outlet with him and that person is not sending back any reports. Tillerson is 64 years old; Clinton was 66 in the last year of that position and 68 when she ran for president. Perhaps DDT should have selected a younger man—or a woman—for the job.

 

 

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, made this assessment after a recent visit to the Capitol City.

  1. Washington is more divided, angry, bewildered, and fearful — than I’ve ever seen it.
  1. The angry divisions aren’t just Democrats versus Republicans. Rancor is also exploding inside the Republican Party.
  1. Republicans (and their patrons in big business) no longer believe Trump will give them cover to do what they want to do. They’re becoming afraid Trump is genuinely nuts, and he’ll pull the party down with him.
  1. Many Republicans are also angry at Paul Ryan, whose replacement bill for Obamacare is considered by almost everyone on Capitol Hill to be incredibly dumb.
  1. I didn’t talk with anyone inside the White House, but several who have had dealings with it called it a cesspool of intrigue and fear. Apparently everyone working there hates and distrusts everyone else.
  1. The Washington foreign policy establishment — both Republican and Democrat — is deeply worried about what’s happening to American foreign policy, and the worldwide perception of America being loony and rudderless. They think Trump is legitimizing far-right movements around the world.
  1. Long-time civil servants are getting ready to bail. If they’re close to retirement they’re already halfway out the door. Many in their 30s and 40s are in panic mode.
  1. Republican pundits think Bannon is even more unhinged than Trump, seeking to destroy democracy as we’ve known it.
  1. Despite all this, no one I talked with thought a Trump impeachment likely, at least not any time soon — unless there’s a smoking gun showing Trump’s involvement in Russia’s intrusion into the election.
  1. Many people asked, bewilderedly, “How did this [Trump] happen?” When I suggest it had a lot to do with the 35-year-long decline of incomes of the bottom 60 percent; the growing sense, ever since the Wall Street bailout, that the game is rigged; and the utter failure of both Republicans and Democrats to reverse these trends — they give me blank stares.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones asks if DDT is trying to fail so that he can blame everyone else:

  • A health care bill so gratuitously brutal it seems almost intended to fail.
  • A budget that’s very plainly just a piece of performance art designed to outrage liberals.
  • A new immigration order so similar to the first one that Trump must have known it would be blocked in court.
  • A funding request for a border wall that’s basically a demand for a blank check that Congress will never pass.
  • A string of conspiracy theories (illegal voting, Trump Tower wiretaps, Obama is masterminding leaks) seemingly designed to waste congressional time.
  • And, of course, an endless series of hollow executive orders, bombastic tweets, and sob stories about the media mistreating poor Donald.

DDT’s employees excuse for what they do is right out of childhood. Democrats complained that Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly didn’t answer questions about deportation policies, the Muslim ban, and the White House response to Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) white supremacist remarks. Democrats were frustrated because of his false claims when they had photos as proof—that he wasn’t going after Dreamers or that ICE agents were taking immigrants out of churches and hospitals of that he wasn’t separating children from mothers. His comment to reporters:

“I don’t deport anyone. ICE doesn’t deport anyone. The law deports people.”

Sounds like children who say, “I didn’t hit Johnny—the stick hit Johnny.” Now we have the same response from the head of Homeland Security. It sounds as if he might be getting ashamed.

Now we know that DDT’s staff is totally incompetent. On White House’s 1600 Daily, they posted a piece from Washington Post entitled “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.” Reasons:

  1. They can’t read.
  2. They didn’t read it.
  3. They don’t understand satire.

The first two paragraphs:

“Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too vague and makes all sorts of cuts to needed programs in favor of increasing military spending by leaps and bounds. These people are wimps. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has called it a ‘hard power budget’ which is, I think, the name of an exercise program where you eat only what you can catch, pump up your guns and then punch the impoverished in the face. This, conveniently, is also what the budget does.

“This budget will make America a lean, mean fighting machine with bulging, rippling muscles and not an ounce of fat. America has been weak and soft for too long. BUT HOW WILL I SURVIVE ON THIS BUDGET? you may be wondering. I AM A HUMAN CHILD, NOT A COSTLY FIGHTER JET. You may not survive, but that is because you are SOFT and WEAK, something this budget is designed to eliminate.”

The piece continues by delineating all the outrageously unreasonable cuts in DDT’s budget and then finishes:

“Feed children just to feed them? What are we, SOFT? No. No we are not.

“AMERICA WILL BE STRONGER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN! Anyone who survives will be a gun covered in the fur of a rare mammal, capable of fighting disease with a single muscular flex. RAW POWER! HARD RAW POWER GRRRRRR HISSS POW!

“It will be great.”

This excerpt from the author, Alexandra Petri, is about the White House posting:

“The White House believes in me, and the White House is not full of careless people who skim headlines looking for the ones that sound sort of positive and then send them out in their daily briefing newsletter hoping for the best haaa ha ha nope ha ha these are the minds who control war and peace and the budget and things ha ha ha it’s fine ha ha oh god help.”

Unfortunately, postings on the White House 1600 Daily missed this delightful piece of satire regarding the bigly crowds at the inauguration.

Two months after DDT’s inauguration: 497 positions are awaiting nomination, 36 are awaiting confirmation, and 20 nominations have been confirmed. Maybe DDT is just waiting for a recess so that he can put everyone into these positions without bothering without confirmations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2017

Trumpcare: The GOP Killer Plan

The Congressional Budget Office has come out with the numbers for Trumpcare (excuse me, The American Health Care Act), and here’s the good news. The deficit could be lowered by $33.7 billion a year. Of course, that accomplishment come from moving costs to the state as well as taking people off Medicaid and government subsidies. For example, Oregon will have to pay 35 percent of health costs instead of the 95 percent that the federal government now covers.

The bad news for Trumpcare by the numbers:

  • 54 million individuals uninsured in ten years, double projections for ACA, according to a leaked White House analysis.
  • 24 million fewer people with coverage by next year.
  • 14 million more uninsured people in one year.
  • 14 million fewer people with Medicaid coverage in 10 years.
  • 7 million fewer people with employer-sponsored coverage in 10 years.
  • 2 million fewer people not buying health insurance each year.
  • 15-20 percent higher premiums in the first year than with ACA.
  • $880 billion cut from Medicaid over 10 years.
  • 15 percent of low income people without services to help women avert pregnancy because of defunding Planned Parenthood that results in thousands of more births. (Savings of $178 million for no care for these women would be offset by increase in Medicaid that pays for 45 percent of all U.S. births.)

Older Americans pay “substantially” more. At the same time, Trumpcare also takes away from the Medicare fund, causing it to become insolvent three or four years earlier than formerly projected unless positive action is taken.

Health insurance companies are encouraged to pay CEOs more because Trumpcare removes the ACA limit on corporate tax deductions for compensation. Under ACA, health insurance companies could deduct only $500,000 of the pay for each top executive making deductions for the companies only 27 percent instead of 96 percent. This limitation has been enough to buy dental insurance under the ACA for 262,000 people or pay the silver plan deductibles for 28,000. The 10 biggest insurance companies paid their top 57 executives a total of $300 in 2013. The provision to give them back the 96 percent was buried in six lines on p. 67, and even Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, seemed unaware of it until reporters inquired.

Republicans, claiming to be the part of smaller government, also have a provision in Trumpcare that employees without genetic testing as part of their workplace wellness programs can face large penalties in premiums. Existing federal laws don’t have this power because genetic privacy is protected. For example, the Kaiser Family Foundation could charge an additional $5,443 in annual premiums employer-sponsored family health coverage.

An oddity in Trumpcare is its obsession with lottery players, mentioned 11 times, the same number as Medicaid. Six of the 67 pages in the replacement plan focus on lottery winnings. Anyone getting at least $80,000 from the lottery or lotto would be kicked off Medicaid. To give you an idea of the savings, Michigan’s plan, withholding part of lotto winnings over $1,000 and not $80,000—saved $2 million.

Republicans have spent lots of time and energy criticizing the mandate that everyone purchase insurance. Trumpcare’s new system allows insurance companies to charge a 30-percent penalty after a break in purchasing coverage. It’s still a penalty: the only difference is that the money goes to insurance companies and not to the government. It also threatens destabilization of the individual insurance market.

Geographically, Trumpcare is disastrous for DDT supporters. The plan’s elimination of 0.9 percent for additional Medicare tax on wages and 3.8 percent surtax on investment income are only people in the top income stratum. John McCormick’s independent analysis of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan for Bloomberg states:

“Counties that backed him would get less than a third of the relief that would go to counties where Hillary Clinton won. The two individual tax cuts contained in the Republican plan to replace Obamacare apply only to high-earning workers and investors, roughly those with incomes of at least $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples. Taxpayers in counties that backed Trump would see an annual windfall of about $6.6 billion, (an) analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows. In counties that backed Clinton, it’d be about $21.9 billion.”

The refund of this tax to the wealthy is what keeps the deficit reduction only $33.7 million when the massive cuts to benefits, including Medicaid, should come to much more. Getting rid of ACA’s taxes and annual fees would reduce revenues to the federal government by $592 billion over ten years. Just one person in the top 0.01 percent, for example, will get an extra $197,000 if the bill passes, and people in the top one percent will each get $33,000.

How Trumpers—and people at the same income level—will suffer from Trumpcare: A 64-year-old person with an annual income of $26,500 pays $1,700 a year in annual insurance premiums. Trumpcare will change that annual premium to $14,600 for equivalent insurance. The math makes it an increase of $12,900.

Ryan has made two strategic problems. He tried to push the bill through the House in three weeks; the ACA took over 16 months to pass after four months of groundwork. He also failed to involve any stakeholders. To pass ACA, Democrats developed support by convening health-care groups, largely the same groups that now strongly oppose Trumpcare. In retaliation, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is trying to minimize opposition from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) as just another flawed interest group. Their 37 million members comprise over one-third of the U.S. population over 50 years of age and are likely to be DDT voters. Bush’s 2005 struggle to privatize Social Security failed after AARP’s opposition.

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-the-white-house-isnt-sharing-health-care-numbers-its-own?cid=eml_mra_20170314   The White House has its own analysis of Trumpcare. A leaked report from Office of Management and Budget (OMB) shows numbers are even grimmer than those from CBO with 26 million people losing coverage within the next decade instead of CBO’s 24 million. Although the White House called that report wrong, it hasn’t released anything in its place. GOP-confirmed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, in charge of the health care legislation instead of the Secretary of Health, called the CBO estimates “just absurd” and said that “I don’t believe facts are correct.” DDT may have moved Price because Mulvaney, a founding member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus and former South Carolina U.S. representative, is more conservative than either Ryan or Price.

Congress may also take both health insurance and pensions from retired coal miners. After 22,600 miners retired, the company in charge of their health care gave it to another company that declared bankruptcy and was relieved of responsibility for retiree health care. Both companies finally agreed to pay into a special fund for retiree health care benefits, but one of them stopped contributing. In addition, UMWA’s multi-employer pension plan, serving more than 90,000 retirees and their widows, became severely underfunded. The Miners Protection Act (MPA) uses federal funds to pay for threatened health benefits and strength the pension plan, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked its inclusion for his own constituents in an omnibus budget bill. The four-month extension of health benefits is due to expire on May 1, 2017 if Congress doesn’t act on the bill. Democrats wrote DDT for support in January, but he didn’t respond.

Yesterday Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) talked to some of these miners during a panel discussion in West Virginia. One of them thanked Sanders for his support regarding the bill and said to applause:

“I never dreamt that I’d get to thank you personally for the bill that you are co-sponsoring. I’m one of those miners that will lose his health care at the end of April if they don’t pass that law. I think it’s kind of ironic that a senator from the northeast takes care of my benefits better than someone like Mitch McConnell.”

Sanders told the crowd:

“The Republican bill, it should not be seen as a health care bill, because throwing millions of people off of health care [is not] health care legislation. What it should be seen as is a huge tax break for the wealthiest people in this country.”

Two months ago, DDT promised “insurance for everybody.” He and other Republicans claim insurance access to all—probably the same way that everyone has access to buy a Mercedes-Benz but don’t have the money. Price claimed that Trumpcare would “cover more individuals at a lower cost.” The only way that they can be right is for people to be consigned to crappy insurance plans that may not even cover hospital costs, just as they were before the ACA. To show how obvious DDT is about killing ACA, he sent out an email asking people to “share your Obamacare disaster story.” They have no interest in any success stories or needs from “hard-working Americans like you,” but people have been sending them anyway.

The clearest description of Trumpcare has been provided by comedian John Oliver..

 

March 11, 2017

DDT: Week Seven – Russia, Other Lies

 

Drawn to bright shiny things, the media moved from the lies told by VP Mike Pence and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the firing of 46 U.S. attorneys general. But let’s move back to Pence and DDT.

Pence and DDT Lie:  The people who need “extreme vetting” are not immigrants—they are DDT and his minions. Nobody checks them for their ties to mobs, Russian oligarchs, their shady investment fraud, or even their jobs like Michael Flynn’s lobbying for Turkey while DDT is also paying him. Although Flynn was not registered as a foreign agent, he and his company were paid $530,000 during DDT’s campaign to influence U.S. policy on behalf of Turkey. DDT’s people, including VP Mike Pence, were shocked to hear about it this week. And DDT’s people, including Pence, were lying. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent Pence a letter on November 18 asking for more information about possible conflicts of Flynn’s lobbying work:

“Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. Government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests.”

Before Flynn took the position of National Security Adviser, his lawyer told the DDT transition team that he was a paid lobbyist for Turkey, and Mike Pence was head of the team. Yet he said that he had not heard anything about Flynn’s actions for Turkey until this week. DDT said he fired Flynn because he misled Pence about his work for Turkey, but DDT lied because Pence knew about it when Flynn was fired. Flynn’s attorneys also told DDT’s legal counsel team about his employee registering as a foreign agent before the inauguration and again in the early days of DDT’s term. DDT also lied when he said that he didn’t meet with the Russian ambassador during his campaign.

Either DDT knew and didn’t tell, leaving him inappropriate to be president, or DDT didn’t know, leaving him inappropriate to be president because he should have known. Throughout DDT’s campaign, both Flynn and DDT accused Hillary Clinton of pay-to-play controversies with federal governments. Flynn delighted in the RNC crowd screaming “Lock her up!” He said, “If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.” He did.

Legal challenges against DDT’s travel ban mount: The Muslim.ban 2.0 is out, and four states—Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington—joined Hawaii, the first state to sue the president because of the executive order’s blatant discrimination and severe damage to tourism. Oregon added that the order will injure its residents, employers, agencies, educational institutions, and health care system. The order can also be challenged because of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which bars discrimination on the basis of “a person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

GOP health care problems rise: A major part of this week’s news has been the desperate move by the GOP to pass its version of healthcare intended to make the wealthy wealthier, release insurance companies from control, and take insurance away from the poor. In the past, I’ve called it “GOPcare,” but it’s acquired the name of TrumpCare, much to DDT’s distress. It’s the first time that he hasn’t wanted his name on something: he’s even applying for trademarks in China to have his name on condoms and escort services. The final plan is pretty much as expected, but there are a few extra perks. For example, it would give tax breaks to any insurance CEO making over $500,000, something that the Secretary of the Health and Human Services, Tom Price, didn’t know until he was asked about it. The marathon hearing before the passage of the bill in committee lacked any witnesses and is opposed not only by Democrats, AARP, and AMA but also by some GOP members and the insurance industry.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that healthy people pay for sick people indicates that he hasn’t grasped the concept of all insurance: premiums from people who don’t need the benefits pay for the disasters of the others who pay premiums. Every person arguing against the Affordable Care Act use generalities such as “death spiral” and “disaster” with no specifics is problems. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), whose health insurance is paid by the government, claims that other people should be responsible for their own health. His novel approach was the assertion that people should not buy $700 iPhones to find thousands of dollars for health care. Chaffetz gets a government-issued cellphone, and his donors pay for his monthly cellphone charges.

TrumpCare passed the committee vote without anyone knowing the estimate economic cost or the number of people who would lose insurance. In the past, Republicans asked first about any bill’s price tag, but they don’t care about this one. In charge because DDT took Price out of the loop, DDT’s budget chief, Mike Mulvaney, said that “insurance is not really the end goal here.” Republicans don’t care how much taxpayers will be on the hook or how much people will lose. They don’t consider how many jobs will be lost or how disastrous their changes will be to the economy. Republicans don’t care that health experts from the all sides agree that TrumpCare won’t work. Some of them even say that the bill could unravel the individual insurance market.

Read the fine print in DDT promises: DDT justifies his Muslim ban and draconian immigrant orders because he’ll do everything he says he’ll do. He promised to use only U.S. steel in “all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines” inside the U.S. His fine print, however, stated “to the maximum extent possible.” Therefore the Keystone XL Pipeline won’t be built with U.S. steel. DDT made the excuse that the pipeline is already being constructed, but the real reason is that TransCanada will drop its $15-billion lawsuit against the U.S. with NAFTA that it suspended last week after DDT okayed the pipeline project. The company had alleged that the U.S. government failed to protect Canadian investor in accordance with international law.

DDT’s negotiations don’t work with Planned Parenthood: DDT told Planned Parenthood he would guarantee federal funding for their services if they stopped providing abortions. PP’s president, Cecile Richards, immediately said no. No federal funds pay for abortions at PP, and the offer sets a horrible precedent to threatening all hospitals with no federal funds if they provide any abortions. At this time, only 28 percent of people want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.

DDT’s tweets calm down: Kept in the White House for the first weekend since the one immediately following his inauguration, DDT’s Twitter account still sent lies (“Obamacare imploding” and “great progress with health care”). Earlier in the week, he tweeted, “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield.” Actually, the George W. Bush administration sent 113 of them back. DDT did manage to get his ninth round of golf in this weekend since his inauguration, an average of one every five days.

DDT faces another lawsuit: D.C. restaurant Cork Winebar filed a lawsuit against Trump’s D.C. hotel claiming unfair competition because people are trying to curry favor with DDT. The owners are not seeking damages, only an order barring the DDT’s D.C. hotel from continuing to operate while President Trump still owns it.

Which one is bigger? Compulsive about comparing himself to President Obama, DDT insisted that the National Park Service produce photographs of his inauguration crowd size to prove that his was bigger than that of President Obama. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from media outlets, these official photographs of the National Mall, one in 2009 and the other eight years later, show a huge difference between the 1.8 million for President Obama and the generous guess of 800,000 for his successor. At least DDT had more than the 300,000 people who turned out for George W. Bush’s first inauguration.

For a little cheer, check out Cocktails for Survival Over 50 drink recipes for DDT survival include drinks like “The Wall,” “The Bad Hombre,” “Trumple Thinskin,” and “The 400 Pound Hacker.” There’s also Putin’s Puppet, half a dozen Twitter Beefs (page 29), and a Pussy Grabber or two. Also available is a blog with a recipe for “The Sessions.”

Finish off with the best of Stephen Colbert’s humor from The Late Show when he gets help from construction experts to assess costs for his “big, “powerful,” “impenetrable,” “physical” and “beautiful” wall in order to meet DDT’s promises.

 

 

March 6, 2017

DDT Issues Second Travel Ban

Filed under: Immigration,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:44 PM
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Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has shown that he cares about only three things: making money, revenge, and being admired, but there’s actually a fourth—looking better than his predecessor. From the lies about the size of his inauguration crowds to his level of accomplishments since then, DDT has tried to convince people that everything about him bigger and better than President Obama. DDT’s failures sent him into a rage last weekend that ended up with libelous tweets about the former president being a “bad (or sick) guy.”

At this time of his first term, President Obama had proposed, negotiated, renegotiated, and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that brought the nation back from the brink of a deep economic depression. That was after he signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act during his first two weeks. DDT has signed a few bills overturning earlier regulations that make the country worse and given money to corporations and wealthy people. And the Muslim ban that wreaked havoc before it was overturned by the courts required a replacement.

  • A 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations: Iraq was the only one of the original seven countries that has been exempted because it agreed to improve the quality of travel documentation and share more information about Iraqis coming to the United States.
  • Exceptions not in previous versions: legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country, and people who have been granted asylum or refugee status. The exception for religious minority groups has been removed.
  • Suspension of refugee program for 120 days.
  • Details of categories of people able to apply for waivers: those previously admitted to the United States for “a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity,” those with “significant business or professional obligations” and those seeking to visit or live with family.
  • Acceptance of fewer than 50,000 refugees a year, down from the former number of 110,000. Only 15,000 people can enter for the remainder of fiscal 2017 because 35,000 refugees have already been settled in the U.S. Another 67,000 refugees have been approved by DHS out of 65 million displaced people in the world.
  • March 16 start.

Unlike DDT’s signings in his early days, this one was not public, and names of those at the signing were not released. He waited to sign he order until his staff explained it to him.

State Department, Homeland Security and Justice Department officials said that the ban would improve public safety because Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen were either state sponsors of terrorism or safe havens for terrorist groups. The “justification” for the order was that 300 people who entered the country were the subject of counterterrorism investigations, but they refused to name the countries of origination or any additional evidence.

A DHS report questions the need for the ban because citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and people from the banned countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism.

The ban will definitely go back to court, and a serious problem for DDT is that the 9th Circuit Court ruled that intent can be considered in determining the possibility of a First Amendment violation. DDT aide Stephen Miller has already said that there is no difference between this ban and the first one that was overturned. Other proof of intent comes from DDT’s campaigning promises which he has continually confirmed he will keep—his promise of a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” That statement was followed by DDT advisor Rudy Giuliani saying on Fox that DDT had asked him about the best method of doing a Muslim ban “legally.”

“OK. I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when [Trump] first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.’ … And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on.”

The DDT claim that his ban will make the U.S. safer has doubters. Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed in a failed raid in Yemen the day after DDT issued his first Muslim ban, singling out seven countries including Yemen. Owens’ father speculated about whether friendly forces were alienated by the order and decided to release information to jeopardize the mission. Al Qaeda fighters were tipped off before the raid. The question is whether missions will continue to be compromised because of DDT’s antagonism toward countries where the U.S. counts on “friendlies” for support.

Danger doesn’t seem to be an issue for DDT: he has promised a new ban for a month. After his speech last week on Tuesday, plans were delayed to retain its “positive reception.” That warm and fuzzy feeling for Trumpers lasted less than 24 hours before the revelation about AG Jeff Sessions’ communication with Russia exploded and totally dissipated with DDT’s tweets accusing, with no evidence, that his predecessor had bugged the Trump Tower.

An argument in support of the ban is that the 120-day timeline won’t slow down the refugee program. Once again the supporters are wrong. Each vetting step has a specific timeline from three to 15 months, and a delay that causes these clearances to expire sends refugees back to the beginning of the process and subject them to death sentences, especially those coming to the U.S. for medical treatment. Organizations who resettle families in the United States will also be subject to longer backlogs because they have to stop their work. Closing down these organizations will halt their ability to serve refugees already in the country. One resettlement agency, World Relief, recently laid off over 140 staff and closed five of its offices.

A classic case of the craziness surrounding DDT’s Muslim ban: Gold Star father Khizr Khan, whose son Army Captain Humayun Kyan was killed in service in Iraq, was forced to cancel a speaking engagement in Canada about tolerance, unity, anbecause his travel “privileges” are being “reviewed” by the federal government. A citizen of the U.S. for 30 years, Khan has exhibited DDT’s requirement of “loving America.” He was not told why he could not travel to Canada, but he did speak at the Democratic convention last summer and criticize DDT.

The United States is likely to be in far more danger from his response to North Korea that launched four missiles this morning after testing a solid-fuel rocket supposedly part of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. North Korea said that the goal of the new missiles is to attack U.S. bases in Japan. Despite DDT’s admiration for Kim Jung-un, the U.S. is considering taking direct action against North Korea, a horrifying consideration.

North Korea’s regime also may have assassinated the leader’s half brother with a banned nerve agent classified as a weapon of mass destruction. DDT has not tweeted about any concern.

Conservative commentator Peter Wehner defined the real danger for the United States:

“We have as president a man who is erratic, vindictive, volatile, obsessive, a chronic liar, and prone to believe in conspiracy theories. And you can count on the fact that there will be more to come, since when people like Donald Trump gain power they become less, not more, restrained.”

The best quote of today about immigration: Ben Carson, new Secretary of HUD, told agency employees in his introductory speech that slaves are “immigrants” who “worked even harder for less.”

March 5, 2017

Trump: ‘Deflector in Chief’

“The time for trivial fights is past.” – Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) during his first address to Congress last Tuesday evening.

donald-trumpDDT’s semi-presidential appearance didn’t last long. Left without his keepers at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, DDT worked to deflect all his bad press resulting from this week’s scandals about Russia about that country’s participation in the presidential election with angry, libelous tweets. Between his rants about firing Arnold Schwarzenegger were accusations about President Obama tapping his phones at the Trump Tower. The adolescent sending the tweets couldn’t even spell “tapp” correctly: he gave the word an extra p. The excuse his handlers gave DDT was a vague statement in fake Breitbart news about Barack Obama’s “police state” tactics. With no evidence, could be sued for libel, disseminating damaging false information.

Rep. Ted Lieu’s (D-CA) summary of DDT’s problems:

“Either @realDonaldTrump is paranoid like Nixon, or judge found probable cause of crime for #wiretap. Either way our President is in trouble.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said:

“It’s beneath the dignity of the presidency. It is something that really hurts people’s view of government.”

Growing concern has developed because DDT will be hosting Angela Merkel next week after accusing her of “ruining Germany.” Schumer echoed Lieu’s conclusion about the allegations either being false or providing probable cause to search for broken laws.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) described DDT as “deflector in chief.” She said about DDT’s accusations:

“It’s called a wrap-up smear. You make up something. Then you have the press write about it. And then you say, everybody is writing about this charge. It’s a tool of an authoritarian.”

Two issues about Russia that DDT wants to conceal are the way that his new AG, Jeff Sessions, committed perjury in saying that he had no communication with the Russians and the question of whether a special prosecutor should be assigned to address DDT’s campaign involvement with Russia instead of letting the partisan Congress investigate the matter.

Concerns about Russian involvement in the campaign has been released in dribbles and drabs for almost a year as DDT continued to express his unadulterated admiration for Vladimir Putin as a leader. The most recent activity before DDT’s tweet was when Sessions tried to jump out of the frying pan by finally recusing himself from any investigations into the FBI and hoping to save himself from resignation. He’s in a risky situation because Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) wants Sessions to go back to the Senate to explain his statements made earlier under oath.

sessions-putinSessions’ problems began when he answered a question that no one asked him. Franken asked Sessions what he would do as AG if the connections between DDT and Russia were true. Sessions didn’t answer that question, but he said that he had “been called a surrogate” in the campaign and that “I did not have communications with the Russians.” By now the media has made clear that his answer was not true (aka a lie) because he met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice while the White House was working on sanctions against Russia. When these meetings were publicly revealed, Sessions said he couldn’t remember if he talked politics with the ambassador. Russia is now in control of Sessions’ future because the ambassador can blackmail him. Saturday Night Live opened with a spoof about Sessions, played by Kate McKinnon.

Franken sent a letter to Sessions telling him that his not mentioning Russian involvement in the election “strains credulity.” The letter asked why Sessions had failed to mention the communication and what all his and his staff members’ communications with “Russian officials and their associates during the presidential campaign of 2016” are. As Franken wrote:

“If it is determined that you lied to the [Judiciary] Committee and the American people under oath during your confirmation hearing, it is incumbent upon you to resign from your position as attorney general.”

DDT’s response to Sessions’ recusal was a “ballistic” rant in which he used “a lot of expletives” and “nobody has seen him that upset.” That may be the reason that Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus didn’t go to Florida with DDT—thus the tweets. And DDT’s demand for a special prosecutor into the non-existent wiretaps. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has consistently maintained that there’s no need for an investigation into Russia’s involvement in DDT’s campaign, said that the Intelligence Committee “will make inquiries” as per DDT’s demand. On the other hand, FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to publicly reject DDT’s claims about the former president’s wiretaps of Trump Tower.

Democrats—including seven of the nine on the Senate Judicial Committee—are calling for a special prosecutor into Russian interference while Republicans continue to squirm about its possibility. Doing so would allow a nonpartisan person instead of an acting deputy attorney general to leads an investigation. DDT’s nominee for that position, Rod Rosenstein, could be asked about a commitment to naming a special prosecutor before his final vote. The historical precedent for an appointment is during the Watergate scandal in 1973 when the Judiciary Committee demanded that Nixon’s nominee name the prosecutor before the vote as well as asking questions about the prosecutor’s level of independence. Other special prosecutors occurred for investigation into Bill Clinton’s Whitewater affair and George W. Bush’s Valerie Plame affair.

Almost two decades ago, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions defined the standard for assigning a special prosecutor. The issue was whether Gore lied during an investigation into the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign’s fundraising. Sessions said that an independent investigator should be appointed any time that an AG is asked to investigate the president because of the president’s power over the AG. Now Sessions may face criminal charges for perjury and leads the same agency, the Department of Justice, that would ordinarily investigate alleged violations of federal law. For all the time before he finally recused himself, he was in the same power that the AG faced in the case where he set up the standard.

In its continued support for DDT, the FBI may be concealing information from Congressional committees attempting to investigate communication between DDT’s people and the Russian officials. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that the intelligence community has not been forthcoming, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, ‘‘We know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows.” Asked about transcripts that the FBI refused to share with Democrats, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) tried to “deflect” the issue by refusing to discuss them, indicating that they do exist. The issue of transcripts is interesting because U.S. citizens, including Michael Flynn, can be taped without FISA warrants. Transcripts of Flynn–or anyone else–would  indicate evidence of wrongdoing.

After DDT’s accusations about President Obama’s wiretapping one of his homes, he moved on to tweets stating that the former president had Russian ties and that Democrats didn’t want to help the FBI investigate the Russian cyberattacks.

DDT’s “relationship” with Russia seems to be cooling in the light of continued criticism from people in the U.S.—something that DDT cannot handle. One indication is that his pick for top Russia adviser is Fiona Hill whose book Mr. Putin, Operative in the Kremlin alludes to Vladimir Putin’s history as a KGB operative. There are also rumors that Putin didn’t want DDT to win; he just wanted to create chaos in the United States. On MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, New Yorker editor David Remnick said:

“Everybody expected Hillary Clinton to win. You expected her to win. The polls expected her to win. So they succeeded, in some sense, beyond their wildest dreams, and now they’re freaked,” Remnick added ominously. “If you talk to people in Moscow now, there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse. There was an order sent down to Russian television, ‘enough with the celebrating about Trump!’”

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that the Kremlin is waiting for “some kind of actions” to understand what the future holds because “we have heard different statements from President Trump.” Even Russia understands that DDT’s volatility is untrustworthy.

The weekend is almost over, and DDT will get his keepers back when he returns to the White House. His handlers there may temper his tweets.

Should we be obsessed with the Russia story? Of course! This is bigger than Watergate, and it sets the direction for the United States for decades to come. An additional issue surrounding the White House is that eight Russian operatives connected to DDT have already been found dead. We need to overcome the “deflector in chief.”

March 1, 2017

DDT’s Speech: Lies, Contradictions

Donald J. Trump President Donald Trump address Joint Session of Congress, Washington DC - 28 Feb 2017 Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28. Traditionally the first address to a joint session of Congress by a newly-elected president is not referred to as a State of the Union. (Rex Features via AP Images)

(Rex Features via AP Images)

The performer, the grifter, the liar, the manipulator elected president of the United States proved last night that he’s become better at reading from a teleprompter and has a better speech writer than during his campaign. Supporters of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) are proudly commenting on his “change” although they still admit that he’s better only if one judges him against his own past and not against others. Some even raved about his speech, his first to a joint meeting of Congress. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg’s tweet was on target about praise from the media:

“Enemies of the people giving Trump positive reviews for not sounding like a ranting dictator.”

Tom Perez, new DNC chair, described it well when he said that the speech was “Steve Bannon on steroids with a smile.” The only change was stylistic after DDT finished trying to soften the audience by condemning the anti-Semitic threats and violence, followed by his first mention of two Indian immigrants shot in a Kansas bar a week ago. Earlier in the day, however, he had suggested that the Jewish people were making the calls themselves to make his supporters look bad. Another of his conspiracy theories is that President Obama is setting up protesters to make him look bad. DDT—always the victim. He spoke of support for blacks the same week that his Justice Department determined that it will support suppression of the vote by minorities in Texas.

Despite a few cheery words of hope and optimism sprinkled throughout the speech, DDT consistently talked about the horrors of the United States at this time. The only way that he can maintain his dictatorship is to convince his audience that life now in the United States is hell and that they need all his actions to make life better.

DDT’s claim that over 43 million people now lives in poverty ignores the fastest drop in almost 50 years. His repeated misrepresentation of 94 million people “out of the labor force” ignores the unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, only seven percent of the mythical number of 94 million that includes all the people who don’t want jobs—students, disabled, stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc. as well as the over two million people in prison. Using this demographic is dangerous for DDT’s statistics because trends will increase the number by the time that he’s up for re-election.

The attack on undocumented immigrants launched into “America First” rhetoric while DDT bragged about the deportation of “bad ones”—barely a step up from his references to “bad dudes” or, worse, “bad hombres.” His announcement of a new office to support victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants brought a groan, at this time the only “victims” of interest to DDT. Before the speech, DDT has suggested that he considered providing legal status to undocumented immigrants who had not committed serious crimes, but the white supremacist who wrote his speech ignored this idea.

DDT used his common theme, the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in another nine years, as another part of his anti-immigrant message. What brought America together, in the words of DDT’s speech writer, was “that America must put its own citizens first, because only then can we truly make America great again.” DDT asserted that only immigrants who come with money will be legally allowed into the country. The fewer, richer immigrants “will be very, very happy, indeed,” according to DDT.

DDT falsely cited a 2016 report, stating that the U.S. immigration system “costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.” The report found exactly the opposite, that immigration helps the economy and has little impact on the employment status and wages of native-born workers. Economists agree that DDT’s new deportation rules would cost the economy trillions of dollars. He is also wrong about what immigrants can enter the country. Immigration law has clearly stated for over a century that people coming into the U.S. cannot be impoverished and that those who are public charges will be deported.

H.R. McMaster, the new National Security Advisor, warned against using the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” but DDT defiantly emphasized the words when he said that he would be signing a new Muslim ban. In addition, he repeated the lie that “the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.” A 2015 report found 50 Islam-inspired deaths—not all by people from “outside the country”—and the man who killed 50 people in Orlando last summer was born in the United States. “Right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities.” White supremacists are influencing DDT to investigate any right-wing extremist terrorism.

“One of the highest [tax] rates in the world”? Nowhere near. The U.S. is one of the top ten tax friendliest countries in the world and not even in the top 30 worst ones.

DDT’s declared that he will bring jobs back from overseas by doing away with trade treaties, yet only 13.4 percent, about 750,000 jobs, have been lost to trade. The rest of them have been lost to automation or other factors “attributable to productivity growth.” Of the 70,000 jobs he bragged about creating, 68,800 were planned before the election, and 700 were the result of President Obama’s policies. In addition, some of these, such as the Intel jobs in Arizona came after the company had fired a larger number of people in Oregon.

While Republicans vigorously applauded at every sentence, especially his support of their GOPcare health plan, DDT made costly promises that must have made them shudder:

“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.”

He also promised “massive tax relief for the middle class,” the return of “millions of jobs,” “a better health-care system for all Americans,” and lower corporate taxes. In fact, DDT’s tax plan raises taxes on single parents while disproportionately benefiting the richest Americans.

The most embarrassing part of the speech was the introduction of Carryn Owens, the widow of the Navy Seal who was killed in DDT’s first counterterrorism attack that he casually authorized over a dinner with GOP leaders such as white supremacist Steve Bannon. While she sat crying in the gallery for what seemed to be an infinity, he talked about the raid’s success (a lie) and then ad-libbed, “And Ryan is looking down right now. You know that. And he’s very happy, because I think he just broke a record.” It was vintage DDT—lying and bragging about acclamation for a grieving widow. Two parts of the failed raid were not mentioned: the Seal’s father refused to meet with DDT when his son was returned and demanded an investigation; and the commandos knew they had lost the element of surprise but were still ordered to complete the compromised mission. In addition, DDT may have claimed at the speech that the raid was a success, but earlier in the day he blamed the generals earlier for its failure.

Missing from the speech was any mention of climate issues although DDT promised to “promote clean air and clear water.” That was a few hours after he signed an executive order to eradicate the Clean Water Rule, affecting waterways that 117 million people in the U.S. rely on for drinking water.

Steve Benen described the substance-free speech as “a sugar high than political sustenance.” Like a campaign speech, it promised voters everything with no explanation of how he would deliver. The purpose for a speech to Congress is to give it direction, badly needed help in the severely divided GOP that is fighting over such issues as health care, tax code, military, infrastructure, and “the wall.” DDT confirmed his campaigning goal with a letter on his website designed to raise money for 2020 by stating that last night was the FEC deadline for the quarter and that he would be given a list of donor names. Every action that DDT takes for as long as he lasts as president will be to either gain votes or make money for himself.

51-lies-in-61-minutesDDT lied at least 51 times during his 61-minute address—too many lies to clarify in such a short space. Suffice it to say, he continues to lie at least three-fourths of the time. When he isn’t lying, he’s changing his position. He cannot be trusted in any way.

Attention for DDT’s speech may be ephemeral since tonight’s disclosure that U.S. Attorney General failed to disclose during his confirmation hearings that he talked with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. twice last year while he was a U.S. senator from Alabama and “surrogate” for DDT’s campaign. DDT’s desired pivot from last night’s speech has made a far right turn back to his possible connection to Russia and Vladimir Putin.

February 27, 2017

White Supremacists in Control of U.S.

DDT wants to hire another 15,000 border agents, but the country can’t even train the ones they’ve already hired. Egyptian-born, French citizen, World War II scholar, member of the National Center for Historic Research Henry Rousso was detained for ten hours at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, accused of coming to the country to work on an illegal visa, subjected to a body search, forced to give an oath, and threatened with deportation on the first flight back to Paris with no explanation. He came to the United States to speak at a Texas A&M symposium about the French collaboration with Nazi Germany to round up and deport tens of thousands of Jews from France during the Holocaust. Egypt is not one of DDT’s targeted countries, and French citizens to not need special visas to come to the United States.

mem-foxMem Fox, world-famous Australian children’s author of over 30 books, said she may never return to the United States after she was detained and insulted by border control agents in Los Angeles for almost two hours. She was en route to a conference in Minnesota. The 70-year-old woman said, “I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness.” Agents questioned the validity of her visa although she had traveled to the U.S. 116 times with no incident.

A 25-year-old British math teacher traveling with a group of children and other teachers was denied entry into the United States and removed from a plane in Iceland a week after a U.S. court had already overturned DDT’s Muslim ban. Security personnel escorted Juhel Miah, who had valid visa documentation, from the aircraft with no reason.

adam-purintonWhile trying to keep innocent people out of the United States, the federal government may not address home-grown terrorism—such as the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounding of Alok Madasani, immigrants from India who worked for the Garmin technology company. They were peacefully sitting in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe (KS) when Adam W. Purinton (left) returned after being thrown out for his ethnic slurs and insults about the two men’s immigration status and shot them.

A DDT proposal is to eliminate its focus on white supremacist terrorism by completely concentrating on what is calls “radical Islam terrorism.” The White House has denied that DDT’s policies have any relationship with the increased anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim occurrences since the election, yet the number of white supremacist groups is rapidly growing. The renaming of the federal program Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to Countering Radical Islamic Extremism ignores far-right attacks and mass shootings, such as the massacre of black churchgoers last year, which U.S. officials don’t classify as “terrorism.” This change sends a signal to white supremacy extremists that they are safe to commit violent actions and kill people.

It’s been five days since Purinton yelled “Get out of my country” and shot the two Indian men as well as Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene in the shooting. DDT has said nothing about the killing. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not even mentioned the killing in his press briefing until today when he called it “disturbing.”

This past month, Mark Charles Barnett, was arrested in Florida because he planned to bomb several Target stores. He wanted to cause the stock price for the corporation to drop so that he could have a cheaper investment. DDT made no comment about this action. Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell told an undercover officer that he wanted to attack non-whites just like Dylann Roof had killed nine blacks in a church. DDT said nothing about Barnett or McDowell.

According to Charles Kurzman, who teaches sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University, 74 percent of the law enforcement agencies they surveyed listed anti-government extremism as one of the top three terror threats in their jurisdictions, a far greater percentage than the 39 percent who listed Al Qaida and similar groups. Since 9/11, an annual average of nine U.S. Muslims per year has been involved in terror plots compared to the 337 each year by right-wing extremists. With a one in a six million chance in 2016 of a person in the U.S. being killed by a Muslim terrorist, DDT is declaring more war in the Middle East and asking for a nine percent increase in the military budget.

DDT promotes distrust and hatred within and toward the United States. During the first hours of his Muslim ban, videos of families torn apart, children in detention, elder women blocked from board planes, and more horrific visuals circled the world and spread on pro-Isis social media. These messages reinforced the Al-Qaeda prediction that the “West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.” No matter how many times people say that no immigrants from the seven nations on the Muslim ban have killed anyone in a U.S. attack, however, the white supremacists in the White House ignore the facts. The West is fighting not a religion but an ideology that DDT is helping to spread. The border agents who pick up innocent people like teachers, authors, and famous scholars are helping ISIS increase their recruitment.

In developing this hatred, DDT and the entire country is losing the support of those most able to fight a war against ISIS—Muslims. They are the ones who can root out violence and identify the few dangerous people. In the past Muslims have turned in their extremist relatives and friends to Muslims because they believe in the United States. Their knowledge of the language and culture give them a unique advantage that almost all law enforcement officials lack. Muslims, including students, also challenge the extremist narratives on social media with positive information, an action that the past Department of Homeland Security deemed essential. Many of these people supporting the fight against ISIS are now banned from entering the United States, even with the Muslim ban overturned.

Overseas, local Muslims fight terrorism efforts while putting their lives at risk. The new message for them is that the U.S. hates all Muslims equally. The countries identified in DDT’s ban show that he cannot identify between Sunnis and Shiites. In the past, the U.S. used Shiite governments as an ally to fight ISIS, and Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have large Shiite populations that are less extremist than Sunnis.

While DDT has declared war on all Muslims, he has welcomed the message of white supremacy, largely through his strongest advisors headed by Steve Bannon. Many of their threats are against Jewish institutions. The unprecedented 69 bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers during the first weeks of January have terrified children who had to be evacuated, and historic Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. The most recent desecration was this weekend in Philadelphia. In the past 45 days, there have been 190 incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions across the U.S. This is terrorism.

DDT largely ignored the threats of violence until the media pushed him into a few tepid answers in which he briefly talked about the Jewish members of his family. These weak statements, however, followed ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes in his speeches and advertisements, and the threats continue—20 of them today directed toward children’s schools and community centers throughout 13 East Coast states.

The first month following DDT’s election saw 1,094 reports of “bias-related incidents” against Jews, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people—and that number may have been underreported because people didn’t want to talk about them. Social media is a useful place to spread bigotry, but white supremacists know that they have one of their own in the nation’s highest office. After DDT refused a question from a religious Jewish reporter representing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish magazine, a tweet celebrated by the statement, “Sit down Jew boy! The goyim have had enough.” Now DDT has further given the haters a safe place by ignoring them in a federal counter-terrorism program.

Meanwhile, the killing in Kansas has not been declared either a hate crime or an act of terrorism, despite the killer claiming that he had killed “a couple of Iranians.” Last week, press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the link between the president’s rhetoric and the rise of reported hate crimes in the U.S. He said that “any loss of life is tragic” and added that “to suggest that there’s any correlation, I think, is a bit absurd.” DDT’s condemnation is saved for people he assumes are Muslim and people of color.

The nation is becoming much less safe under DDT’s policies. White supremacists have declared open season on everyone in the United States, and DDT’s policies are supporting them.

February 25, 2017

DDT: Lies, Lies, Lies

cpac-ballroomConservatives celebrated at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his minions this year—a change from last year when he wasn’t even wanted at the conference. DDT’s speech could have been the one he wanted to give last year as he quoted Hillary Clinton’s term “deplorable” and encouraged the crowd to shout “Lock her up!” Another last election message was the conspiracy against Bernie Sanders with “super-delegates.” Numbers also plagued him when he claimed that they would not read about CPAC “lines that go back six blocks.” The speech is probably for his 2020 run, but the lies are the same. Even the ballroom at CPAC was not full for DDT’s speech.

Other false claims from DDT: “Obamacare covers very few people,” and “[the wall is] way, way, way ahead of schedule.” The Affordable Care Act reduced the number of uninsured by 20 million people, and there is no schedule for the wall that may never be built.” The rate of people in the United States who lack health insurance has hit a record low with only 8.6 percent of people, about 27.3 million, being uninsured. That’s 20.4 million fewer people than when the program started in 2010, and the number would be lower if the Supreme Court had maintained the states’ mandatory Medicaid expansion. Red states showed the greatest decline in the number of uninsured, and those without Medicaid expansion had the highest percentage of uninsured with Texas and Mississippi at the top.

Throwing red meat to his CPAC base, DDT defined his enemies: “radical Islamic terrorists”; immigrants who he described as “the gang members, the drug dealers, and the criminal aliens”; and, of course, the “dishonest media.” Also the Constitution as he whined about the “Fiii-rrrst Amendment!” After he talked about keeping “the bad ones” out, he excluded several media outlets from his Friday briefing session.

DDT’s new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, negated the use of the term “racial Islamic terrorists.” Speaking to his staff, he said that the label was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

 With so much news flooding the air waves about DDT, this one may have slipped through the cracks. One week before Michael Flynn left his position as National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017, he received a proposal for the way that DDT could lift sanctions against Russia. DDT’s personal Mafia-linked lawyer Michael D. Cohen, business associate plus convicted felon and government informant Felix Salter who helped DDT scout deals in Russia, and Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Artemenko are pushing the plan of releasing evidence of corruption to allow Artemenko to take over the government and negotiate a long term Russian “lease” of Crimea.

The goal is to replace the current Ukrainian government with the Russia-tolerant faction allowing DDT to lift the sanctions against Russia’s military invasion and capture of Russia and give Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the $500 billion deal for Exxon Mobil. Flynn has disappeared, but the plan surely remains, most likely with a payoff for DDT. And it’s on paper. Artemenko is currently under treason investigation, and Cohen denied delivering any plan.

DDT’s assertion that his Muslim ban is to protect the country was soundly debunked by a report from his own Department of Homeland Security that concluded citizenship is an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the seven countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism. People from the dangerous seven countries identified by DDT, the same ones where he doesn’t do personal profit-making business—Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya—are “rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism,” according to the report.

Although terror groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen pose a threat of attacks in the United States, the other four countries are “regionally focused.” Of the 82 people “who died in the pursuit of or were convicted of any terrorism-related federal offense,” over half were U.S.-born citizens. Eight of them convicted or died in pursuit of terrorism were from Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. People are more likely to be killed by guns, trains, a railway vehicle, their own clothes melting or lighting on fire, lightning, falling furniture–the list goes on and on about the dangers of life outside terrorism. Of the 3,252,493 refugees admitted to the United States from 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 were terrorists, 0.00062 percent of the total.  Only three of them were successful in their attacks, killing a total of three people.

At the same time DHS released its report refuting DDT’s claim about Muslims and terrorism, Secretary John Kelly released a memo creating a new DDT-ordered federal office to work with victims of undocumented immigrants. He wrote that “criminal aliens routinely victimize Americans and other legal residents.” Once again, the government is “misrepresenting,” a polite word for lying. Undocumented immigrants are no more likely to commit crimes and U.S. citizens and are less likely to be criminals in some cases.

The Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program failed to reduce crime. A study of 159 cities shows no correlation between crime rates and levels of immigration, and other research showed that levels of recent immigration had a negative affect on homicide rates and no affect on property crime rates. Another study found that immigrant influx was correlated with decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

The only people who need to be afraid are those with brown skin who might be accused of being Hispanic or Muslim. For example, Muhammad Ali Jr., son of one of the greatest boxers and civil rights activists in the nation, was detained two hours on February 7 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (FL) airport on his return from Jamaica. He had gone there with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who gave a speech about black history. He was asked twice about his religion and “where he got his name,” a common question for Muslims. Agents released Ali’s mother when she showed him a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but Ali had no picture of himself and his father who died last year. DDT’s Muslim ban was overturned three days prior to Ali’s detention, but agents reportedly did not respect the court’s judgment.

NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre is using the DDT system of lying. Before Election Day, he told gun lovers that they had to vote for NRA Republicans because every one of his predictions about Obama taking guns and sabotaging the Second Amendment had come true. The reverse was actually true as federal gun safety laws and those in most states were weakened. At CPAC, LaPierre ranted about how the “Anarchists, Marxists, communists, and the left of—the rest of the left-wing socialist parade” are coming for the guns.

Anti-Trump protesters “spit in the face of Gold Star families,” a revision of history when progressives defended these families and DDT excoriated them unless they were white. LaPierre said these leftists want “to tear down our system.” At the same time, White House and white supremacist Steve Bannon declared that “deconstruction [aka destruction] of the administration” is its goal. The crowning claim from LaPierre was that progressive activists get paid $1,500 a week, $78,000 a year. Watch for the letters of your newspaper because these lies are sure to appear there.

“I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning, my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber—at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead—held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative.”

gabby-giffordsThat was the response from Gabby Giffords to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who used her as an excuse for not facing his constituents. Gohmert won his last election by more than 49 points, and his district is one of the reddest in the country—but he’s afraid of “the threat of violence at town hall meetings.” And he used the 2011 shooting at former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) where she was severely injured and six people were killed. With her customary bravery, Giffords responded:

“To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls. [During my congressional career] listening to my constituents was the most basic and core tenet of the job I was hired to do.”

Giffords’ husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly said that Gohmert shouldn’t “hide behind” his wife to avoid town halls:

“If he doesn’t want to do town halls, he should just say he doesn’t want to face his constituents. He shouldn’t hide behind Gabby.”

Town hall complaints from tens of thousands of people included the repeal of health care, Scott Pruitt’s confirmation to head the EPA, and legislators refusal to investigate DDT’s links to Russia. Many crowds chanted, “Do your job!” Terrified of this response, a vast majority of GOP legislators simply avoided their constituents in any way they could.

Gohmert also repeated lies that “paid” groups were disrupting the Republican town halls. No town hall meetings this year have been violent, even if some members of Congress have called the police instead of facing a group of people. There’s no evidence of paid protesters, and progressive activists haven’t “threatened public safety.” It was the violent Tea Party members who protested Barack Obama’s election and gathered with their guns to threaten and spit on legislators who supported the ACA.

If Gohmert—and his GOP colleagues—are so terrified of vilence from guns, it’s time for them to enact gun safety laws. And it’s time for “these people” to stop lying.

 

 

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.

 

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