Nel's New Day

February 28, 2019

Good News across the U.S.

The week has been filled with testimony from Michael Cohen about the corruption of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and DDT’s failure—and its GOP spin—at the highly vaunted summit with North Korea. Across the United States, however, bits of good news gleam from time to time.

Thanks to Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services, Deutsche Bank is cooperating in an investigation into DDT’s finances.

The House has passed its second gun control bill within two days, this one closing the “Charleston loophole.” A white supremacist was able to kill nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church because a background check couldn’t be finished within three days. Three Republicans joined Democrats in the vote of 228-198. Before yesterday, the last gun control bill to pass the house was the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act 25 years ago. In 2017, over 6,000 guns were sold to people with criminal histories or other factors prevent sales because of the three-day deadline, 50 percent up from 2016. Also in 2017, the three-day deadline kept the FBI from completing 310,232 gun background checks.

After almost 50 years, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell are finally legally married in the eyes of Social Security. They had successfully obtained a marriage license in Minnesota in 1971 because the clerk didn’t realize it was for two men, and the state didn’t request that the marriage be dissolved. Minnesota just pretended the marriage wasn’t valid. On September 18, 2018, a district court in Minnesota declared their marriage “in all respects valid.”

Overturning a State Department decision, a federal judge has ruled that Aiden and Ethan Dvash-Banks, twin boys born to a surrogate mother for a gay couple, have the same rights as U.S. citizens. One egg donor is a U.S. citizen, the other an Israeli, and they married in Canada in 2017. When one father applied for U.S. passports for both boys before moving to the U.S., immigration officials refused to recognize that the U.S. citizen was the legal father of both children and demanded a DNA test for the twins’ citizenship. The U.S. consulate in Toronto provided citizenship for only the one twin biologically related to the U.S. citizen and required him to sponsor the other twin as his “step-son” although he is listed on the birth certificate as the boy’s father. The two men sued for recognition of their marital status, and the judge ruled that federal law “does not require a person born during their parents’ marriage to demonstrate a biological relationship with both of their married parents.” The judge cited two court cases which clearly state the word “parents” is not limited to biological parents,” meaning that the twins will be allowed to stay together and with their married parents.

Another family is still fighting for their legal rights. U.S. citizen Allison Blixt married Italian citizen Stefania Zaccari in London because the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act had not yet been struck down. Blixt’s son was recognized as a U.S. citizen, but the State Department used a policy about unwed mothers to deny citizenship to Zaccari’s son. Both children were born after the two women were legally married, but Blixt was told that she had to register her son, born to Zaccari, as her “step-son.”

The State Department language on its website, that transferring a parent’s U.S. citizenship to a child born abroad requires “a biological relationship, or blood relationship,” violates the Immigration and Nationality Act that permits children to inherit married parents’ U.S. citizenship if the adult lived in the U.S. for at least five years and meets other requirements. The State Department appears to ignore the legal marriage of same-gender couples.

A federal judge ordered Texas to stop its purge of electoral rolls because evidence shows no widespread voter fraud in Texas. He described the planned purging “ham-handed” and “threatening.” Writing about the blatantly inaccurate numbers of non-citizens voted, the judge stated:

“It appears this is a solution looking for a problem…. [The policy] exemplifies the power of government to strike fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.”

Two weeks ago, 80-year-old Goodloe Sutton, the editor and owner of the 140-year-old Democrat-Reporter in Linden (AL), population 2,123, wrote an editorial asking the Ku Klux Klan to “ride again” into communities of Democrats who consider raising taxes before he advocated lynching for his political opponents in an interview with the Montgomery Adviser. Both Alabama senators called for his resignation, the Alabama Press Association censured him, and the University of Southern Mississippi removed him from its Hall of Fame. Sutton, known for his racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic editorials, has now stepped down to be replaced by Elecia R. Dexter, a black woman, as the newspaper’s publisher and editor. In a recent interview, Sutton said the publicity was worth $10 million and that Democratic lawmakers are “terrible” while the KKK is “the nicest.” Dexter has no journalism background and started working at the newspaper two months ago as a clerk.

The New York legislature, now controlled by Democrats, may pass a law requiring DDT to release his state income tax returns. The NY TRUTH Act would require all statewide elected officials, including the president and vice president if they file taxes in the state, to publicly release their taxes each year.

With a pledge from new Dem Gov J.B. Pritzker to make Illinois the “most progressive state in the nation … for women’s reproductive rights,” state Democratic legislators introduced two measures to expand abortion access, repealing parental notification requirements for minors and restrictions for late pregnancies. The act would also require private insurance in the state to cover abortions like any other reproductive healthcare for women and allow advance-practice nurses to perform abortions. A 1975 law criminalizing doctors who perform abortions would be abolished. Former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner had signed legislation permitting Medicaid and state health insurance coverage to be used for abortions.

The Wisconsin National Guard is reviewing whether Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) violated the law when he criticized Wisconsin governor, Tony Evers, in tweets and on Fox for withdrawing troops from the southern U.S. border. Hours before Evers issued an executive order for the troops, Zinzinger questioned in a tweet whether the governor’s decision was “based solely on politics.” Federal laws and Wisconsin laws call for “any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the president, the vice-president, members of Congress, the secretary of defense, the secretary of a military department, the secretary of homeland security, or the governor or legislature of the state of Wisconsin” to be punished. Kinzinger has the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard; as governor, Evers is his commander-in-chief. A spokeswoman for Kinzinger says that he can say anything he wants when he’s “off-duty,” but a First Amendment law expert disagrees.

New Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, canceled the sale of a former state prison site to a for-profit private prison company that planned to detain hundreds of immigrants in the facility. The company would not guarantee that the prison “would not be used to detain adults who had been separated from their children or other family members.”

Thanks to grassroots activists and the state of Illinois, the cost of telephone calls for prisoners has gone from the most inflated in the U.S. to under a penny a minute, the lowest cost in the country, although some costly fees put a 30-minute call at $2. DDT had overturned FCC regulations for prisoners’ telephone prices.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the “liberals” to order a review of the death penalty for an inmate suffering from dementia so severe that he cannot understand why he is being punished. The decision requires a lower court to examine whether Vernon Madison’s strokes and vascular dementia leave him unable to remember his crime and the reason that the state wants to execute him. Earlier the court had ruled that people suffering from schizophrenic and psychotic delusions may not be put to death; in her opinion for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan stated that the same logic applies to dementia. He had been on death row for 33 years. Brett Kavanaugh did not vote because he was not confirmed when the case was argued.

May we have more good news.

February 13, 2019

Tax Cuts Go to Wealthiest, Others Angry

Almost 14 months ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promised people would pay $4,000 less on their taxes this year and “have a nice, simple form.” Neither is true. An additional ten percent of tax filers will owe the IRS money since the “tax reform,” and average refunds were 8.4 percent smaller, down to $1,865 because of the same “tax reform.” And that’s from a week ago. In addition, filing taxes is as complicated as in the past. IRS refunds sent out are also down about 24 percent because of the shutdown.

People hoping to pay for their cars will be disappointed. Seven million people are at least 90 days behind on their car loans, a record and a red flag for the economy. Auto loans are the first payment that people make; delinquencies show serious economic problems for low-income and working-class people in the U.S. The nation suffers from more than a million more “troubled borrowers” now than in 2010 when unemployment hit ten percent and the car loan delinquency rate peaked. After George W. Bush’s recession, the government restricted mortgages so that people could make the monthly payments, but car financers could continue predatory practices because they have few restrictions . Subprime borrowers with low credit scores, increasing from 28 percent of the market in 2009 to 39 percent in 2015, may pay interest rates between 14.5 and 20 percent.

Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, wrote about people plan buying big purchases or paying off large debts with their refunds. Some are so desperate that they pay extra to get advance lending on their refunds. Last year, 102 million taxpayers received an average of $2,778 in tax refunds, and most people spent this money, helping the U.S. economy. Lower refunds mean less spending and a shrinking economy. If people use their refunds for necessities, problems are worse than a slowing economy.

Fox & Friends told their watchers to stop whining about owing money to the government because they should have taken out more withholding—for a tax cut. The government’s guidelines did provide for less withdrawals from wages to get people to vote for Republicans in the midterm elections, a ploy that failed for many House members. But the reference to everyone’s “fatter paychecks” by Fox & Friends’ hosts applies primarily to higher income earners: most people didn’t see a significant increase in their paychecks.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), lead author of the tax bill, told taxpayers to be grateful for much smaller or no refunds because they have nothing to do with their overall tax bill. He falsely claimed that 90 percent of the middle class got a $2,100 average tax cut. Another tax cut backer, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), tried to convince people that refunds are less because most people “owed less income tax.” The Tax Policy Center estimated that earners in the bottom 20 percent might each see a total of $60 less tax for the year, and the next 20 percent might expect a $380 total cut. The top 0.1 percent of people in the U.S. saved an average of more than $190,000—each.

Meanwhile, the government ran a $14 billion deficit in December—just one month—as we lost revenues because of the “tax reform” law. The U.S. has run into the red by $319 since the beginning of the fiscal year in October, up 41 percent from the $225 deficit of the same time period last fiscal year. Corporate taxes fell 17 percent, and those from individuals dropped by 4 percent. We’re not spending more: we just aren’t collecting money partly because of the tax cuts for the wealthy and big businesses, ending in a larger deficit for the previous fiscal year—almost $900 billion added to the debt. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that “nobody cares” about the debt.

DDT’s supporters are learning that the Democratic position on the failure of tax cuts was right and that Republicans lied. Most of the people aren’t getting any extra $4,000, businesses haven’t changed their capital investment and hiring, and tax breaks for the wealthy and big businesses aren’t paying for themselves. In addition, the economic growth is slowing instead of building. The GOP promised that corporate tax breaks wouldn’t go into stock buybacks; they did, which is the only reason that the stock market has not gone much below its level a year ago.

Instead of putting their tax breaks into higher wages for employees, companies in the S&P 500 spent almost $800 billion of their tax windfall on buybacks for the 2018 fiscal year that started nearly three months before the tax “reform” bill passed into law. The Dow Jones spiked until it went back to the same level as the beginning of 2018. The 2019 buyback projection is about $900 billion, almost all one third of all corporate cash spending and up 25 percent from 2017.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) co-authored an op-ed for the New York Times with former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that criticized the tax law and suggested the prohibition of a public company from buy back shares “unless it invests in workers and communities first, including things like paying all workers at least $15 an hour, providing seven days of paid sick leave, and offering decent pensions and more reliable health benefits.” They also suggested other ways to require companies to invest in workers, including a change in tax rates on dividends.

A divided Congress with a Republican president can’t pass these laws, but the ideas have generated discussion. Lloyd Blankfein, former head of Goldman Sachs, tweeted that money doesn’t vanish with stock buybacks, that money “gets reinvested in higher growth businesses that boost the economy and jobs.” Sanders retorted that Blankfein was right in his claim that money “doesn’t vanish” but it Mr. Sanders quickly responded on Twitter that Mr. Blankfein was correct that the money buybacks “doesn’t vanish” but it “increases the wealth of billionaires” like Blankfein.

Republican leaders who financially benefit from the buybacks lambasted the buyback proposals as “socialism.”  The GOP case against “socialism” ignores the difference between pure socialism and “Democratic socialism.” Republicans plan to use the term as a one-word meme slamming Democrats during the 2020 election campaign after they failed with “witch hunt.” Today, the White House blared the headline, “Not one more person should suffer under socialism.” Republicans’ definition for socialism may be anything that doesn’t benefit themselves. [In the chart to the left, you could add flood protection, sports coliseum, “freedom of religion,” a 40-hour work week, child labor laws, Social Security, Medicare–the list is quite long.]

Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon asserts that the tax cuts will never pay for themselves and no one ever believed that they would. The increase in the national debt is faster than pessimists predicted at the time the GOP pushed through the cuts, and the CBO estimates that the annual deficit will top $1 trillion beginning in 2022. It’s almost there now. DDT campaigned with the promise that he would immediately eliminate the deficit, but in two years, he’s increased the national debt from under $20 trillion to $22 trillion. Salmon added that the nation is “awash in debt” with trillions in student loans, credit card debts, and car loans. Asked about the debt, DDT said that he’ll “get rid of” the entire debt “fairly quickly,” “over a period of eight years,” “paying off that debt like water.”

DDT plans to unleash predatory payday lenders on the majority of people receive less in tax refunds by gutting rules from President Obama’s era that shield people from “easy” loans with interests over 400 percent. If people borrow the money for the two weeks between paychecks, they pay $75 for a $500 loan. Over 60 percent of 12 million borrowers took out seven or more consecutive, digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt, and a majority of borrowers paid more in interest than the money borrowed.

In charge of making these changes is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which Budget Director Mick Mulvaney destroyed before he moved on to help DDT spike the national debt and works at failing as acting chief of staff. Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described the result of the change in rules for payday loans:

“This decision will put already struggling families in a cycle of debt and leave them in an even worse financial position. This administration has moved the CFPB away from protecting consumers to protecting the very companies abusing them.”

Almost 80 percent of people in the U.S. live from one paycheck to the next, and wages remain stagnant when inflation is taken into consideration, even dropping in the second quarter of 2018. Almost all the gains in the country go to the top—chief executives of big companies, financiers, and creators in the digital world. If the average wages go up at all this year, it will be due to the 18 states that raised the minimum wage although the increases in almost half these states were $.20 or lower—about 2 percent.  The GOP system makes the vast majority of people in the United States more and more desperate.

February 6, 2019

State of the Union 2019

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) managed to last 82 minutes in his State of the Disunion (SOD) address last night as he moved from Tweeter Trump to Teleprompter Trump, but he couldn’t outlast Bill Clinton’s 88-minute speech at 88 minutes. DDT failed to keep on his message of “unity while he maintained the record for the most lies—or “misrepresentations”:

Economy:

DDT announced that he had an “unprecedented economic boom,” but his economic record is behind those of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. And the economy is slowing down.

The “lowest rate” of “unemployment” for “half a century” that DDT quoted is actually at an 18-year-old low and is going up to where it’s matches the rate at the beginning of 2018. January’s unemployment rate rose to 6.8 percent from its low of 5.9 percent in May 2018. Latinx and Asian-American unemployment rates are also increasing.

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades,” according to DDT who ignored any adjustment for inflation. The actual increase in wages, 1.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, is the largest since August 2016.

DDT’s figures for new jobs and new manufacturing jobs were inflated: the last year saw almost 4.9 million jobs, not 5.3 million, and 436,000 in manufacturing, not 600,000.

Importers, not exporters, pay DDT’s tariffs, thus far increased by about $6.7 billion, and then pass along the cost to consumers, in essence raising taxes for people in the U.S. In addition, taxpayers are ponying up $12 billion to support farmers, some of them wealthy, for being hurt by DDT’s tariffs.

The reduction of estate-taxes benefits the wealthy and almost never on farms or small businesses, only 80 out of the 5,500 estates in 2017.

Foreign Affairs:

DDT did withdraw from the Iran agreement, but the deal still exists with other countries, making his action largely symbolic. He claimed that Iran won’t be building nuclear weapons because we have no agreement to stop them.

Instead of the U.S. spending “$7 trillion in the Middle East,” this sum covers only estimates future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care, including George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DDT’s claim that he has “liberated virtually all [the 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria controlled by ISIS]” does not consider the ISIS comeback from a hasty U.S. departure predicted by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

NATO countries started spending more money on defense before DDT was elected, unlike his claims that he made them pay more.

DDT’s supposition that without him, the U.S. would be at war with North Korea has no evidence. He also ignores the new missiles that North Korea continues to build.

Healthcare:

Despite his declaration that he will “protect patients with preexisting conditions,” DDT has refused to defend these conditions in a lawsuit and then celebrated the ruling against these protections.

DDT completely misrepresented the abortion legislation in New York that finally matches Roe v. Wade. The Virginia bill still requires a doctor to agree that the pregnancy would kill the woman or impair her mental or physical health.

Immigration:

DDT’s claim that apprehensions along the Mexico border have been drastically reduced in areas of a wall ignores that ALL apprehensions, including those in areas with no barrier. As for the “tremendous onslaught” at the border, the 304,000 apprehensions are an 81.5 percent decline since the 1.6 million in 2000. The Congressional Research Service reported that the San Diego fence, mentioned by DDT, “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.” Suspected in-country overstays of visas are twice those of southern border apprehensions.

DDT’s claim of “humanitarian assistance” in the bill he sent to Congress gave no help for Central American children but was intended to keep them from escaping violence and poverty by coming to the U.S. He also said, “I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” In reality, DDT wanted to cut legal immigration rates in at least half while eliminating immigration based on family ties—the way his in-laws came to the U.S.—and the visa lottery.

DDT’s inflated figures of “criminal aliens” and charges or convictions fail to consider multiple counts and doesn’t separate charges and convictions. His claims about the MS-13 gang are equally dubious: they are concentrated only in three areas—Los Angeles, Long Island, and Washington, D.C. areas.

He promised that wall “will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country,” but most drugs come through legal entry points.

Praise that DDT gave El Paso for cutting its violent crime ignored the fall in violent crime before the building of the wall, crime that rose for four years after Bush authorized the wall and it was built.

DDT’s accusation about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants ignores research that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born population and that immigration is a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall.

DDT’s statement about 1-in-3 women being “sexually assaulted on the long journey north” did not come from a random sample, but from a Doctors without Borders report which addressed the 12 percent of females in 500 people treated by these doctors. These 56 women, likely not representative of all migrant women, said they were “sexually abused,” not “sexually assaulted.” DDT’s statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.

Domestic Affairs:

Of the 3.6 million, not 5 million, people who have stopped getting food stamps, many may have lost this benefit because DDT allowed recession-era waivers allowing some adults to retain the benefit for longer periods of time, and immigrants fear DDT’s new policies. The number of people collecting benefits has also been shrinking since 2014.

DDT is right that more women are in the workforce, but more people are in the workforce because of the U.S. increasing population. Female labor participation rate was 60.3 percent in April 2000, below DDT’s 57.5 percent. DDT’s praise of women’s electoral gains in the 2018 midterms was awkward because the increase is for Democrats. The Senate gained two female GOP members but lost a dozen Republicans in the House. New female House members, dressed in white to celebrate women’s suffrage, laughed and danced at DDT’s words.

The U.S. “revolution” in energy started with President Obama in 2009, in opposition to DDT’s claim.

Beyond lies and “misrepresentations,” DDT threatened the Democrats by saying that the United States cannot have peace if he’s investigated in the United States. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” This morning, Pelosi responded:

“The president should not bring threats to the floor of the House. He said he wasn’t going to cooperate unless we didn’t exercise our constitutional responsibility to oversight.”

Philip Bump (WaPo) compared DDT’s line about “ridiculous partisan investigations” to Richard Nixon’s statements in his 1974 State of the Union speech when Nixon said, “One year of Watergate is enough.”

Hardcore conservatives—DDT supporters—were unhappy with the speech:

Ann Coulter: DDT’s speech was the “lamest, sappiest, most intentionally tear-jerking” State of the Union ever.

Rick Santorum: It was “probably the worst delivered speech” he’d heard DDT deliver.

A few subjects missing from DDT’s speech: Russia, the shutdown, tax cuts, “clean coal,” China trade war, farmers, the Me Too movement, election fraud, the press, Iraq or Afghanistan, the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, and the climate. He gave 14 seconds to infrastructure. DDT also failed to allow the Speaker of the House to introduce him in a violation of protocol.

While she sat behind–and above–DDT during the address, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) wore a smaller version of the Mace of the Republic or the Mace of the US House of Representatives which she can order the Sergeant of Arms to present before an offender to restore order in the House.

The Mace was last used during the first world war when white supremacist Rep. J. Thomas Heflin, uncle of former Sen. Howard Heflin, accused colleagues of being unpatriotic in voting against entering the war. The Sergeant of Arms carries the four-foot-long mace ahead of the speaker to the rostrum at each session of the House.

DDT called for unity and cooperation last night, but today he called Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) a “political hack.” At least yesterday, before giving his speech, he trash talked political figures on both sides—maybe his definition of bipartisanship.

January 9, 2019

Crisis in the Oval Office

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:04 PM

Day 19 of the government shutdown: Last night the wooden Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) replaced the angry bombastic one after he conned major networks into televising his speech with no new information. These outlets are the same ones that refused President Obama’s 2014 about executive actions in November 2014 because it would be “political.” NBC also aired a rebuttal to DDT’s false claim of a “crisis” about not having a border wall from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who emphasized the importance of operating the government.

Fact checking DDT’s speech is a waste of space because nothing he said was the truth. And nothing was new—he just followed former talking points and those of VP Mike Pence and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders who were sent out on the media trail to reinforce his lies. No GOP members of Congress are putting themselves out front to pass on DDT’s lies. WaPo published a series of DDT’s lies with factual information refuting his entire case for a wall.

NBC published statistics in response to Sanders’ claimed that the border patrol picked up nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists trying to cross the Mexico border into the U.S. Her figure was inflated by almost 4,000 as shown by data that Customs and Border Protection gave to Congress for October 2017 through March 2018:

  • CBP found six immigrants at U.S.-Mexico ports of entry whose names were on a federal list of known or suspected terrorists. They may or may not have been dangerous.
  • Of the 41 people on the Terrorist Screening Database encountered at the southern border, 35 were U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • CBP stopped 91 people on the northern border with Canada who were listed in the database, including 41 who were not American citizens or residents.

People are stopped under the existing system, without a wall, and twice as many people are apprehended on a border with no proposed wall. DDT wants people to be very afraid—but just of brown people.

Even VP Mike Pence doesn’t argue that DDT is believable and honest. Before tonight’s speech, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked Pence how DDT can be trusted on his demands for the border wall, that this is a crisis, when he has told so many lies about the crisis. Pence answered:

“Well, look, the American people aren’t as concerned about the political debate as they are concerned about what’s really happening at the border.”

All four living presidents denied DDT’s claim that they privately agree with him on building a wall, but Pence said that DDT had received the “impression” that they wanted the wall.

Yesterday, Schumer said, “We don’t govern by temper tantrum.” Today DDT stomped out of a negotiations meeting with congressional leaders this morning when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told him that she wouldn’t fund his wall although the House has passed bills to reopen the government. Earlier DDT had a private lunch with Republicans. [Right: DDT shakes hands with his employee Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who refuses to address any bill that DDT doesn’t like, destroying the Senate’s independence.] Fifty-one percent of people blame DDT for the shutdown—up from 47 percent just two weeks ago.

DDT continues to say that he will declare a “national emergency” only if Congress won’t give him his wall. In essence, there is no emergency—just a strategy because time is not important. For weeks, experts have argued the legality of DDT’s threat. would be legal. Current law has no criteria for this situation, but such action would face lawsuits. the money would come from the military budget.

Funding for a national emergency would need to come from the military budget, but the military cannot enforce domestic law without congressional authorization. The statute mandates that construction must be done to support the use of armed forces. The purpose of the wall is the reverse: it’s to employ the military. DDT has also not proved that an emergency exists, and he would face opposition in seizing large areas of private, state, and tribal lands. The Constitution requirement that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law” was reinforced by the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA) stating that government employees may not “make or authorize an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation or fund for the expenditure or obligation.” Violation of this law results in prison time.

DDT’s idea for a wall came from two political strategists who used it to remind him to talk about immigration in his speeches. He found that his proposal of the wall made him look important with his conservative voting base. According to economist Mark Thornton, walls are a symbol of a successful standard of living like a large corner office despite their representation of isolation and contribution to a civilization’s decline. History has many failed walls:

  • The Great Wall of China, over 5,000 miles, was to block immigration and trade. Chinese scholar Arthur Waldron described the great losses, both financial and human, in building the wall and its failure to block people from crossing into China when the solution was to trade with the Mongols on the other side. WaPo‘s Ishaan Tharoor wrote that the Great Wall’s significance is best understood “not as a security barrier, but as a work of political propaganda.”
  • Hadrian’s Wall, built across northern England by fearful Romans, was to prevent invasions from barbarians but also failed.
  • The Berlin Wall led to a rapidly growing economy on one side because of progressive ideals and the fall into decline on the other side that resulted in the failure of communism. Like DDT’s highly vaunted wall proposal, the Berlin Wall came from a lie as East Germany claimed the “Anti-fascist Bulwark” protected communists from Western invaders instead of a desire to keep people from defecting to the West.

People support walls because they make them feel secure and keep them from having to solve problems. Jane Loeffler, architectural historian who studied fortifications of U.S. embassies said:

“A wall is so primitive. You can dig under it, go over it, catapult yourself over it. A wall is more symbolic than a real defense. A wall is fear in three dimensions.”

In his poem “Mending Wall,” Robert Frost first and last lines,“Good fences make good neighbors,” ironically depict how walls separate people and describe his wall-building neighbor as unthinking, “like an old-stone savage armed.”

Last Friday, the WaPo pointed out how DDT’s administration failed to understand the consequences until two weeks after its start. After 14 days, senior officials, understanding part of the shutdown’s scope, frantically started their attempt to eradicate the bad optics of making life worse for his supporters.

  • The oil industry still chugs along in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the government allowing pipelines and drilling rigs near wetlands sustaining caribou and threatened birds. BLM is holding public meetings about oil although its staff has been furloughed. EPA staff is processing new permits to drill in coastal waters because federal agencies decide what to do.
  • Farmers filing deadlines for payouts are extended, and checks from the $12 billion buyout after tariffs are still being mailed to wealthy farmers,  including members of Congress.
  • IRS tax refunds will be mailed despite this action’s questionable legality.
  • DDT is asking landlords to give up their income by not charging federal workers without paychecks. (Nothing has been said about banks delaying mortgage payments.)

Problems:

Although DDT may have trouble explaining his failure with shutdown if it’s still in effect in 21 days when he attends the economic summit in Davos (Switzerland), the government is still paying the bills for his trip. Almost two weeks before the event, hotel bills were almost $3 million with DDT’s entourage of eight cabinet members and dozens of officials and aides including his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner. The U.S. taxpayers are still on the hook even if DDT cancels because of strict policies. Over one-half million for renting vehicles and other lodging brings the total to about $3.6 million which doesn’t include the $2.2 million for flying DDT to Davos. Last year’s lodging cost only $1.8 million.

The one bright spot for DDT is that the National Park Service still staffs the clock tower in the “old post office” housing DDT’s Washington hotel.

November 17, 2018

DDT: Week 95 – ‘Sound & Fury’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:08 AM

The midterm elections changed Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Despite his declaration that the Democratic takeover of the House and many more state elected officials, including governors, the sullen DDT roars like a wounded bear.

During the past ten days:

  • DDT fired Jeff Sessions as DOJ Attorney General.
  • He tried to protect himself from Robert Mueller’s investigation by appointing a possible crrok and “constitutional nobody,” in the words of George Conway, the husband of DDT’s legal counsel Kellyanne Conway.
  • The Wall Street Journal published information about how intelligence found evidence that he personally broke campaign laws.
  • DDT created a war with French president Emmanuel Macron before his trip to Paris.
  • He attacked UK Prime Minister Theresa May who had called him to congratulate him on his “election victory” by telling her that she isn’t doing enough to contain Iran, questioning her work on Brexit, and complaining on trade deals.
  • He couldn’t be bothered to commemorate the dead soldiers that U.S. sent to World War I that ended 100 years ago.
  • DDT didn’t bother to walk with the other 60 leaders attending the Paris Peace Forum but enthusiastically greeted Vladimir Putin.
  • He’s sent hysterical tweets, accusing voter fraud in Arizona and Florida after Democrats narrowed the gap in voters from the Republicans.
  • DDT’s wife fired his deputy national security advisor, John Bolton’s second in command on the National Security Council, over a conflict regarding airplane seats during her Africa trip. FLOTUS’ action has led to a new verb, as in “You’ve been Melaniad.”
  • Kim Jong-Un, who DDT claims sent him “beautiful letters” after the two of them “fell in love” (DDT’s words), keeps building undeclared missile operating bases used to disperse mobile launchers for ballistic missiles, at least 20, after DDT announced they had agreed Kim would not continue.
  • Robert Mueller’s investigation shows increased interest in Dmitri Rybolovlev, the Russian oligarch, who bought Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion in 2008 for $95 million and never lived in the mold-infested property after he was detained and questioned in Monaco on charges of corruption.
  • DDT’s national debt just topped $1 trillion, headed to $1.3 trillion for the year—145 percent increase from 2017. This from the man who promised to eliminate the national debt.
  • DDT-appointed Judge Dabney Friedrich refused to drop Mueller’s charges against Russian firm Concord Management and Consulting for attempting to swing public opinion for the U.S. election through social media posts.
  • GM and Honda are ignoring DDT’s proposed rollback of fuel-economy standards and plan to proceed with its zero-emission vehicle sales program instead of manufacturing one type of car for 13 states, including California, with higher standards and another set for the other states.

Fox network is also deserting DDT. Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro did give partisan speeches at a campaign rally before the midterm elections, but last month Fox’s chief anchor Shepard Smith said that the caravan from Central America—which hasn’t been mentioned since the election—isn’t an invasion. He said, “No one is coming to get you.” Ralph Peters, longtime Fox military analyst, quit. He gave the three divisions for the network: those who see DDT as “the new messiah”; cable news opportunists who fell in line; and respectable hosts who are “disgusted by what goes on there.” Fox filed an amicus brief in support of CNN when it sued the White House for pulling press credentials from its reporter, Jim Acosta.

Federal Judge Timothy Kelly, a DDT appointee, ruled that Acosta must temporarily be returned his pass to White House briefings until next week’s decision about the case. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had taken the pass with the lied that he “laid hands” on an intern who was trying to take Acosta’s microphone. Kelly determined that White House procedures likely violated the Fifth Amendment, with the constitutional commitment “of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” suggesting that the White House needed to provide a reason and the opportunity for the reporter to contest the action. The precedent comes from Sherrill v. Knight, in which the Washington editor of The Nation was denied a pass. A judge determined that after the White House must guarantee freedom of the press because it “voluntarily decided to establish press facilities for correspondents who need to report therefrom.” Any refusal required notice and the opportunity to respond. No pass can be denied for “less than compelling reasons” because of the First Amendment. “He’s annoying” is insufficient. The White House used a doctored video for its justification; the judge called the intern claim “likely untrue” and “partly based on evidence of questionable accuracy.”

A huge disaster for DDT is the CIA report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the torture and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in its embassy in Instanbul last month. DDT wants to keep MBS’s friendship to keep getting oil from his country and continues to support him. Part of DDT’s strategy to appease Turkey for not punishing Saudi is to return Fethullah Gulen, a 77-year-old ailing religious scholar who has sought asylum for 20 years, to Turkey for possible torture and assassination by President Recep Erdogan. The White House says that he has no plan for this, but the State Department is looking into Gulen’s return—although it’s just a coincidence and has nothing to do with MBS or DDT. The spokesperson for the State Department said that the case is handled by DOJ that says it knows nothing about extraditing Gulen to Turkey.

According to the conservative Wall Street Journal, Michael Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., met with Erdoğan’s associates to plot the kidnapping of Gulen and deliver him to Turkey in exchange for $15 billion. At the time, Flynn was first DDT’s campaign surrogate and then his National Security Advisor.

DDT’s solutions:

  • He threatened to withhold federal funding from the disastrous California wildfires that have now killed over 70 people.
  • He threatened France with tariffs.
  • He blamed aides, especially Deputy White House Chief of Staff Zachary D. Fuentes, for not telling him that he would look bad if he didn’t attend the 100th anniversary of World War I at a cemetery near Paris.
  • His Twitter attacks on France occurred on the anniversary when 130 people were killed in Paris from an extremist attack. He sent no condolences for the tragedy.
  • He encourages his followers to be violent against Antifa protesters.
  • He claimed before the election that he would finish a “very major” new tax cut—that congressional members knew nothing about—but, like the caravan in Mexico, no one talks about it now.
  • He justifies voter ID by saying that no one can buy cereal without an ID.

More DDT problems:

DDT’s “improvement” in the GI Bill is now blocking housing, loan, and tuition for tens of thousands of veterans, a situation further complicated by his closing the VA’s Office of Economic Opportunity and resulting in “dire circumstances” for veterans. Even worse, VA officials testified that they had no idea when the information technology system, also blocking GI Bill benefits, will be updated. With delayed or never delivered payments, some veterans face debt or homelessness. A large number of veterans have been waiting over 60 days. The VA said that they didn’t expect payments to be delayed in the spring—months from now—but veterans may receive the wrong amount of money.

DDT can’t explain—even to the troops—why the military is deployed on the southern U.S. border at a cost of at least $220 million by the end of the year. All Defense Secretary James Mattis could find for an answer is that he’ll get them an answer when they see what happens. Over 5,000 service members are looking for something to do in the southern U.S. while people are need to help with the huge wildfires in California where over 1,000 people are missing.

Almost 14 months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, causing at least 3,000 deaths and leaving many of the residents without electricity, DDT continues to destroy the U.S. territory. He now lies that its government is using federal disaster funding to pay its debts.

Hate crimes rose 17 percent in 2017 from the year before to 7,106 reported single-bias hate crimes:

  • 59.6 percent were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias;
  • 20.6 percent were targeted because of sexual-orientation bias;
  • 1.9 percent were targeted because of gender identity bias;
  • 0.6 percent were targeted because of gender bias.
  • Of 1,679 religious hate crimes reported, 58.1 percent were anti-Jewish and 18.6 percent were anti-Muslim.

A new conspiracy theory from GOP voters: the California fires are caused by “directed energy weapons”—government-directed lasers bent on destroying homes, property, and lives.

Soybeans are a left-wing conspiracy to emasculate men and estrongize their bodies—a recent conspiracy theory from the white supremacists. That follows the belief that juice boxes are feminizing male children by keeping them from handling stress (DDT?), becoming “low energy” (DDT?), and behaving childishly (DDT?). These people need to find a day job.

The latest reason that DDT could not go out in the rain to honor veterans—his hair.

Horror novelist and Hollywood writer-producer Stephen King wrote that DDT’s tweets during the past nine days gives “a “window into an increasingly disordered mind.” He added, “Since we are all to some extent his hostages, I find this dismaying and rather frightening.” As DDT’s power diminishes, his rage grows, endangering the entire United States.

November 9, 2018

DDT: Week 94 – Midterm Elections a ‘Big Victory’

The past week has not been a success for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), despite what he claims. He did not take the midterm loss of the U.S. House gracefully. George W. Bush called the Dems taking the House in 2006 a “thumping”; President Obama described the GOP taking the House back in 2010 a “shellacking.”  By today, Democrats have taken over at least 32 GOP seats in the House with another possible eight; DDT declared the GOP loss a big victory.

DDT thought he could protect himself by firing AG Jeff Sessions and appointing Matthew Whitaker, but that ploy may also fail. Even Fox’s commentator Judge Anthony Napolitano believes that DDT’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting AG is illegal because he was never confirmed by the Senate. Napolitano said:

“Under the law, the person running the Department of Justice must have been approved by the United States Senate for some previous position. Even on an interim post.”

Napolitano also pointed out that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is next in line for the position. Napolitano’s position adds fuel to the possibility of Whitaker’s direct ethics violations by taking control of Robert Mueller’s investigation after extensive public criticisms and suggestions for subverting Mueller’s work. Interfering with Mueller’s work could put Whitaker under investigation by the person he is supposedly supervising. Napolitano added that a president cannot fire an AG for the purpose of shaking up the leadership of DOJ and interfere with a criminal investigation that the president opposes. In asserting that Mueller has been authorized to investigate only links and coordination between the DDT campaign and the Russian government is wrong.

George Conway, husband of White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, wrote that DDT’s appointment violates the constitution.

I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” DDT said in response to a question about whether he had talked to Whitaker about the Russian investigation. That was four weeks after he told Fox & Friends, “I know Matt Whitaker.” The latter is more likely because he hosted him frequently in the Oval Office—at least over a dozen times—and frequently spoke with him on the phone. In September, a White House aide said that Whitaker has an easy chemistry with DDT. While Sessions’ Chief of Staff, Whitaker also privately advised DDT about how he could pressure the DOJ to investigate people he viewed as his political enemies.

DDT tried to claim that Whitaker doesn’t need to be confirmed to the DOJ because special investigator Robert Mueller wasn’t confirmed. Special counsels aren’t confirmed because the DOJ names and supervises them. Instead, Whitaker has been appointed to supervise the entire DOJ although his only “confirmation” was as a federal prosecutor 14 years ago. Rationale people can find many more reasons that Whitaker isn’t fit for the DOJ AG. One might be that he stated that all judges should be Christians with a “biblical sense of justice,” specifically from the New Testament.  That requirement eliminates two Supreme Court justices.

A big problem for Whitaker moving forward, however, may be his role with World Patent Marketing, accused of fraud by customers and settling for over $25 million. More than just an advisor on the board, Whitaker threatened critics, including customers, of legal action if they continued with their complaints. He refused to respond to an October 2017 from the FTC for his records related to the company, and he refused to pay customers his share of monies that the company bilked from them. Some of these people are veterans who lost their life savings after fraudulent promises convinced them to invest in the company. Whitaker sometimes appeared to act as the company’s attorney, going so far as to emphasizing that he was a former U.S. attorney in his threats. Whitaker also appeared in promotional materials for the company and was named in scripts to persuade wishful inventors to pay as much as $400,000 each.

The FBI and the United States Postal Inspection Service have opened a criminal investigation into the company after concluding that it actively “suppressed” complaints about the company through “threats, intimidation and gag clauses.” A press release noted that the company director used legal action as a threatening cudgel to stop customers from posting negative reviews online or reporting it to the Better Business Bureau. Whitaker used his law firm’s logo and his past position as top federal prosecutor in south Iowa to threaten a man who said he would report the company; four days later the company sued the man with information that Whitaker had intervened in the matter. The parties settled the lawsuit out of court in 2016.

Whitaker’s new position includes the supervision of the FBI and its investigations.

In opposition to Whitaker’s appointment for acting AG, a network of activists called Nobody Is above the Law set up a website where protest organizers could list demonstrations on late afternoon Thursday. Hundreds of cities in the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe responded. Even my small town of Newport (OR) had over 100 protesters at 5:00 pm yesterday. [Right: Newport.] The name of the protest came from Whitaker’s 2017 interview on The David Webb Show when he stated that a U.S. president can end any federal investigation without obstructing justice. [Below New York.]

Last Wednesday, CNN reporter Jim Acosta lost his White House credentials after DDT had a temper tantrum during a press conference and an intern tried to take Acosta’s microphone from him. One version of the event, complete with video, is that Acosta was raising his hand as the intern approached him, and he accidentally touched her arm. The audio clearly indicates that he said, “Pardon me, ma’am.” But Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders drew more attention to the event when she issued a doctored video, possibly from a right-wing site, that makes the action look aggressive. Professionals who examined Sanders’ version said that the action was speeded up and several duplicate frames were added to achieve the effect that conservatives prefer.

In response to Sanders’ false depiction (aka fake news) of the Acosta event, J.K. Rowling, the famous author of Harry Potter books, tweeted a quote from George Orwell’s book 1984:

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

Even conservative writer Ben Shapiro disagreed with Sanders’ false claims about Acosta and tweeted:

This is not what happened. You could have banned him simply for refusing to abide by any of the normal rules of the press room. No need to state something happened that didn’t.”

In effect, Sanders libeled Jim Acosta by lying about him with actual malice and an intent to ruin his reputation, leaving her open to a lawsuit.

Evidence shows that DDT was a key player in paying off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to silence their information about having had affairs with DDT. The U.S. Attorneys Office has evidence of DDT’s role, including multiple meetings with media executive David Pecker who used the National Enquirer tabloid to shut up the two women. Pecker paid off McDougal and was reimbursed by DDT’s legal “fixer” Michael Cohen who was then reimbursed by DDT. Cohen directly paid Daniels after Pecker refused to get involved before DDT reimbursed Cohen. DDT also used Pecker to block negative stories about him during his campaign. DDT cannot be indicted for these wrongdoings, but the DOJ can give the information about personal campaign finance violations to House members for possible impeachment–unless Whitaker blocks that from happening.

As a brief respite for the people in the United States, DDT has gone to Paris for a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron, but not before he railed at CNN reporter Abby Phillips, calling her question on the Russia investigation “stupid,” and threatened more journalists. DDT tweeted he was insulted by Macron’s call for a “true European army” to guard against the U.S. and other potential adversaries and again demanded that Europe “first pay its fair share of NATO.” Macron was discussing DDT’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear arms INF Treaty that Ronald Reagan negotiated with the former Soviet Union in 1987. Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. DDT will leave before the Paris Peace Forum, a gathering of 61 countries this weekend to work toward collective decision-making to avoid another world war.

DDT denied Russia’s claim that he will meet with Vladimir Putin but admitted that they will be meeting in Buenos Aires later this month at the G20 meeting.

Another week, another white man, this time a former Marine, murders people. In Thousand Oaks (CA), a 28-year-old white man shot and killed at least 12 people and injured another 21 before turning the gun on himself. Many of the people in the bar had survived the Las Vegas shooting a year ago where 58 people were killed and 852 injured. The shooting marks the 307th mass shooting in the U.S. of 2018 in 312 days, meaning that mass shootings, defined by four or more people, not including the shooter, being “shot and/or killed” at “the same general time and location,” are an almost daily event in the U.S. Over 12,000 people died from gun-related violence in the US so far this year, and another 24,000+ others have been injured. No one has been killed or injured thus far this year in the U.S. by foreign terrorists. DDT referred to the killer as a “sick puppy.”

The people of Thousand Oaks are further traumatized by the fires sweeping across California that have already burned Paradise, a town of 25,000, and killed nine people.

More news about the ongoing election later, but notable is DDT’s tweet that Arizona might have a new election now that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) is 20,000 votes ahead of Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) for U.S. senator. If only we had that choice two years ago after the presidential election!

October 22, 2018

GOP Can Defeat Democrats Only by Cheating

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:36 PM

The midterms are two weeks from tomorrow, and Democrats are working hard to get people to the polls. Gerrymandering isn’t enough to keep Republicans winning; the GOP has to keep voters from casting ballots to elect candidates. They know that an honest election would elect many Democrats, so the principal GOP tactic to preserve white supremacy in a party comprised of 90 percent white people in a country of 60 percent white people is to prevent voting.

In just the past year, 31 state legislatures introduced 99 bills to keep voters from the polls. These are mostly legal because the GOP Supreme Court justices largely eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in its majority opinion of the 2013 Shelby v. Holder case. Texas waited only an hour after that ruling to begin the flood of voter suppression bills that added to the prevention of six million people with past convictions from voting—20 percent of eligible age blacks.

At one time, registering voters was a positive goal. Now in Texas, a group calling itself “True the Vote” expressed horror that “counties are being buried under hundreds of thousands of incoming voter registrations, all being strategically submitted in mass [sic].” Co-founder and Tea-Partier Catherine Engelbrecht retaliated against Houston Votes when it ran a voter registration campaign by accusing the group of being affiliated with the extremist Black Panther Party. State officials seized Houston Votes equipment during an armed raid. No evidence of voter fraud was found, but the group was forced to close. In the 2010 election, white poll watchers harassed black voters, one of them Gloria Alred who was disabled by a stroke who was being helped by her son who had been sworn in by poll workers.

New laws support claims that the removal of a provision in the Voting Rights Act puts burdens on people in the South to keep them from voting, but northern states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa follow the patterns of the South. For example, The Ohio Voter Integrity Project targeting 1077 Hamilton County residents of poor black neighborhoods, telling them that “your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector.”

Many states restrict voters by race and income by mandates on voter IDS, refusal to recognize voter registrations, shorter times for early voters, failure to put places to vote in locations such as Native American reservations, elimination of student voting until sued, denial of names different on birth certificates even on identification for married women, shortage of voting polls, lack of addresses changes as mandated by federal law—even intimidating people attempting to vote. Arizona’s polling places are far from many of people living on the reservations and doesn’t let non-family members take ballots to the drop-off places; North Dakota mandates street addresses for voting although they may not be available on the reservation. States such as North Carolina eliminate times for voters so that hourly-wage workers cannot get to polls, and the Supreme Court refuses to rule on lawsuits that would reinstate voters’ rights.

Barriers to the ballot box include purging large numbers of voters from the polls—which the GOP Supreme Court accepts. This practice is easily done in states with Republicans in charge of elections, especially when they are running for office as in Kansas and Georgia. About 16 million voters were removed from registration with three years of Shelby–about ten percent of registered voters. Other methods of keep people from registering are closing DMV offices in places with large minority populations, cutting early and absentee voting, pushing for provisional ballots that won’t be counted, and blocking students from voting.

A bogus software program called Interstate Crosscheck has been used to purge 14 million registered voters—almost ten percent. The majority of these purges are for people of color, young and elderly voters, residents of Democratic-majority areas, and those with ethnic-sounding last names. The same program doesn’t cause serious problems for white voters.

Republicans, desperate from fear that these underhanded tactics won’t work, now have moved on to a system of not processing registration forms, especially in Arizona, Missouri, and Georgia. Arizona broke the federal law by not forwarding change of addresses for 384,000 people getting driver’s licenses. That’s over ten percent of the 3.6 million voters in the state. Missouri is doing the same thing to 200,000 updated voter records in a state where the GOP senate opponent to incumbent Claire McCaskill is ahead in the polls by only 10,000 votes. Georgia has a simpler process: Secretary of State Brian Kemp put 53,000 registration forms—over 90 percent of them from blacks—into a drawer as he waits for white people to vote for him in his gubernatorial run at the midterms. Last year, Kemp purged 668,000 voters from the registration lists, and this year he rejected 8.5 percent of early absentee ballots. On the first day of early voting in Georgia, voting computers failed to work at libraries in Fulton County, with a population over 1 million. Tennessee has rejected half of 36,000 voter registration forms as invalid but refuses to explain why.

County officials in a rural Georgia county ordered largely black senior citizens in rural Georgia headed for voting polls off a bus provided by the nonpartisan Black Voters Matter. A county administrator said that the trip was “political activity” and that he “felt uncomfortable with allowing senior center patrons to leave the facility in a bus with an unknown third party.” These were adults who had met at the center for a meeting; they weren’t residents. The bus had already been approved, but someone called to complain. The Senior Center bus to transport voters was also cancelled. Like the middle of the 20th century in the South, white people prevent blacks from getting on a bus.

The term “get out of Dodge” truly applies to Dodge City (KS) where the one polling place for 13,000 voters has been moved out of town, over a mile from the closest bus stop. Kansas has an average of 1,200 per polling place which are typically within the city limits. With meat-packing the majority industry, the town of 27,000 people has a majority of Latinx, but whites run the city. Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is running for governor, also runs the election.

Locations of voting places can influence the way that people vote. Churches make people more likely to vote conservative. People in the U.S. object to the use of mosques for polling places.

Republicans have expanded their fraudulent tricks to restrict elections of progressive candidates:

  • Fake flyers in Washington state that appear to be sent by the Democratic party claim that progressive candidates aren’t far enough left and people should write in other names to solve that problem. Conscience of the Progressives is largely funding by a conservative pack whose biggest donor is Peter Zieve, an anti-Muslim aerospace entrepreneur who gave $1 million to DDT’s presidential campaign.
  • The Missouri Republican Party sent mailers to 10,000 voters with incorrect information about the deadline for absentee ballots, claiming that it was a week earlier than the election date of November 6. When they were caught, they said that it was just a mistake.
  • At least 1,500 Twitter accounts from a pro-DDT group gave the date of Election Day on the day after November 6, the real Election Day.
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) sent out a mailer giving the wrong date—after Election Day—for the absentee ballot deadline for the past two consecutive election years.
  • John Whitmer, GOP lawmaker supporting Kris Kobach for governor, tweeted that Republicans vote on November 6 and Democrats vote on November 8. Whitmer won’t be back next year; he lost his primary last summer.

DDT joined the voter suppression movement with this threatening tweet:

“All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!”

At the same time, the DOJ has filed not one case to enforce the limping Voter Rights Act and refuses to protect minority voters’ rights.

Some of us are entitled voters—no one tries to block our vote, we have easy transportation, white people have far shorter voting lines, we have easy access to voter ID because of our birth situation and wealthy, and many of us have an easier time getting to the polls. In Oregon where I live, we don’t even have to go to the polls: since the mandatory vote-by-mail law was passed in 1998, voter turnout of registered voters was under 70 percent only one year when it was 69 percent. In presidential elections it has been over 80 percent since then except for the 79.8 percent in 2000.

Some critics claim that people are too lazy to vote or just don’t care. Looking at the barriers to voting in the United States, I think it’s a miracle that any minority or low-income person casts a ballot.

August 7, 2018

Q-Anon: Prank or Created by the Right-wing

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:45 PM
Tags: , , ,

Anyone watching clips of the Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) campaign rally in Florida last week may have seen the highly visible presence of “Q” cutouts of the U.S. flag on signs, wearing apparel, etc. In less than one week, the new conspiracy group became famous for its wacky—and dangerous—ideas. Supposedly created by an anonymous online persona claiming to be a government insider to expose the “deep state,” Q-Anon has been adopted by DDT supporters who look upon him as a savior from evil forces.

A popular belief is that the person responsible for Q is someone with the Q security clearance required for high-level government information. The blog posts on 4chan began last fall, but DDT’s recent rallies have given traction among the media to something that believers hope is a growing movement. Q seems to have no exact message, but it purports that after all other presidents have conspired with evil groups, including pedophile rings, the military persuaded DDT to campaign for president to stop this involvement. According to Q-Anon, DDT pretends to collude with Russia so that he can hire Robert Mueller and work with him to bring down the evil ones such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and George Soros. The brave supporters of DDT will stop the evildoing insiders of the U.S. government by publishing the “truth.”

Q-Anon followers search for mystical pieces of a puzzle for their proof, for example the lights turning off at a White House meeting when DDT said he had “full faith” in the U.S. intelligence agencies. (Chief of Staff John Kelly had accidentally flipped the switch.) DDT supporters Roseanne Barr and former baseball player Curt Schilling post Q-Anon links on their social media.

Thus far, Q-Anon hasn’t caused the same kind of violence like Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building that killed at least 168 people. Yet the Pizzagate conspiracy myth, still perpetuated by Q-Anon, led a believer to shoot up a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. with an AR-15 in the mistaken belief that Hillary Clinton ran a child trafficking ring out of the back of the place. The conspiracy theory came from the use of “pizza” in John Podesta’s hacked emails that were released before the presidential election. Conspiracy theorists manufactured the idea that the word pizza was code for pedophilia.

Only two known Q-Anon members have thus far been arrested. In June, an Arizona man used an armored vehicle to block a highway near Hoover Dam with the demand, “Release the OIG report.” That government report about Hillary Clinton and the FBI had already been released, but conspiracy theorists maintain that the “deep state” is hiding another report, far more damning. Another Arizona man occupied a cement plant in Tucson for nine days because he believed it was connected to an international child sex-trafficking ring.

DDT has been quiet about Q-Anon, but he has repeatedly propagated such conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s “missing” birth certificate and Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s “mysterious” death. During his campaign, DDT often repeated the false story that Gen. John Pershing maintained control in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century when he “took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood” and shot 49 Muslim rebels. DDT also falsely maintained that Ted Cruz’s father “was with Lee Harvey Oswald” before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and that he “watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed. Bitter because California heavily voted for Clinton, DDT claimed that over three million undocumented immigrants voted for her and even set up a failed task force to prove his theory.

Conservatives try to erase tragedies that they think might benefit progressive causes by accusing people of being paid actors. Alex Jones made this tactic popular after the shooting at Sandy Hook that killed over a score of small children, and others opposed to gun safety laws used the same false accusation against high school activists after the mass shooting in Parkland (FL). In June, DDT falsely repeated Ann Coulter’s claim that asylum-seekers are child actors coached to say “passwords” to enter the U.S.  He dropped this claim after mass protests against his illegally separating migrant children from adults in their families.

Conspiracy theories receive wide fringe media attention by people like Alex Jones who has now been banned on several outlets because of his hate speech. By legitimizing these conspiracy theories and paranoid peddlers like Jones, DDT gives credibility to Q-Anon. Some of these conspiracy theories:

  • J. Pierpont Morgan sank the Titanic to assassinate Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus, and Benjamin Guggenheim, his supposed rival millionaires. According to the plot, Morgan ensured that the ship had the wrong signal flares and made the decks electromagnetically sealed to trap passengers because he owned the company that built and operated the ship.
  • The Jewish Rothschild dynasty funds an evil global plot through its banking houses in Europe during the 1800s. They plotted to kill Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, bankrolled Adolf Hitler, founded Israel, funded ISIS, and now disturbs with the weather.
  • Violent criminal John McCain (Arizona’s seriously ill GOP senator) must wear an ankle bracelet and be tracked at all times.
  • Tom Hanks has a harem of child sex slaves.
  • The DNC arranged the murder of its employee Seth Rich. Or former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz ordered the MS-13 gang to kill Seth Rich. (Despite the pain that he gave Rich’s family, Sean Hannity pushed the murder conspiracy theory for months until a lawsuit and Fox made him stop.)
  • The CIA put North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in power.
  • John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette faked their own plane crash deaths in 1999 to work undercover with DDT. (According to Q-Anon, JFK Jr. may be Q. Some claim that the Q on the memorial site above is proof.)
  • And many more!

After Q-Anon gained massive media attention, however, the information began to fracture the movement. DDT supporters don’t want to believe that he is working with Mueller so they call Q-Anon “BS” or “frivolous nonsense.” Former Q-Anon supporters who had pushed conspiracy theories are backing away, and 4chan and 8chan suffer from trolling and mocking while believers blame the left. Hacktivist group Anonymous has promised to “wreck” Q-Anon because of its threat of violence. Q-Anon was created for younger people, and the baby boomer supporters have caused an inter-generational disagreement.

Some people claim that Q-Anon is actually a prank by progressives or anarchists to make the far-right look crazy. According to Wu Ming Foundation, a progressive activist Italian collective, Q, a book written under the pseudonym Luther Blissett and published in 1999, has a plot similar to Q-Anon’s premise. Authors described it as a manifesto for activists looking to disrupt society, “an ‘operations manual’ for cultural disruption.” Italian leftists, anarchists, and troublemakers used the name Blissett in the 1990s to stage pranks. The name as been changed to Wu Ming, or No Name.

Conspiracy theories are an attempt to create order out of chaos, and they continue because people want to believe them. Q-Anon followers like the idea that someone is in charge and that DDT is completely in control and actually doing everything right. That belief protects them from feeling like fools. Conspiracists want to believe that horrible things cannot happen and that they alone are special because only they know the truth. Trying to debunk theories only cements them into believers’ minds because these attempts become more conspiracy theories.

I just hope that hacktivist Anonymous succeeds!

June 27, 2018

Democracy in the United States – Gone?

With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s resignation from the Supreme Court and the GOP stolen seat for Neil Gorsuch, no one will have to wonder about decisions from the Supreme Court: they will always favor Christian and business conservatism. Gone are any careful deliberations about the constitutionality of the cases. The five conservative justices will legislate from the bench according to their united radically right-wing ideology. An appointment from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) can ban legalized abortions and contraception, reverse LGBTQ rights, promote discrimination against minorities and women, and increase capital punishment and solitary confinement.

Despite Kennedy’s conservative leanings and his decision to appoint George W. Bush as president in 2000, Kennedy was the swing vote to legalize marriage equality and preserve—to some extent—Roe v. Wade.  On the other hand, he overturned DC’s handgun ban, allowed unlimited finance restrictions, and set in place the destruction of equal voting right. Recently he supported discrimination against Muslims and Christian opposition to abortions and birth control. The week of his resignation after 30 years in the U.S. Supreme Court, Kennedy contributed to the taint of the “Robert Court.”

Despite Republicans ranting against legislating from the bench, the conservative justices made conservative law today in deciding against public-sector unions. The decision of Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees permits workers to take union protection for free despite the fact that the small fees they paid has no political influence. The takers, including Mark Janus, won. Even conservative Antonin Scalia, who died before he could hear the case, wrote in 1991 that public sector unions could compel agency fees. Forcing unions to help nonmembers who do not pay them, “mandated by government decree,” would be constitutionally problematic. [Left: Janus was the name for a two-faced god of transition.]

For 41 years, public sector unions could levy fair-share fees to pay for workers interests.  The only intention of the five conservative justices is to break the union in their goal to protect large businesses and hurt working people. The loser in this case is the future for women and young people in the nation because union workers have greater wages—up to 20 percent more. The winner is the group of foundations funded by rightwing billionaires such as the Koch Brothers and the DeVos family who want to make money from privatizing the public sector. Their actions cost people more because privatization always costs taxpayers more money. Therefore people have lower wages while paying more money for everything.

The restrictions in Janus follows the courts’ history of blocking worker freedom. Nineteenth-century courts ruled that workers’ collective action infringed on employers’ freedom of commerce guaranteed by antitrust laws. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Lochner v. New York (1905) decided that labor protections such as maximum-hour laws violated workers’ freedom of contract. The Depression of the 1930s encouraged courts to give labor protections, but the GOP soon gained success in destroying these rights, actions that greatly expanded since their success in electing Ronald Reagan.

Although the Janus ruling may feel like doom, Shaun Richman, a veteran union organizer, warned that the ruling might require public employers to allow multiple unions competing for workers instead of negotiating with just one. If unions go to great lengths to show that they are the best worker advocates, the results could be more union militancy and power.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,”  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said two years ago when President Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice eleven months before the next president would be inaugurated. His position was that no nominee should be considered in an election year, and he refused a hearing for the nominee. For over a year, the Supreme Court was sometimes tied because of only eight justices voting on rulings. The next Congress is only six months away, but McConnell has abandoned his former belief. “We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” he said on the Senate floor with no idea of who that nominee will be.

Much has been said about the standard of whether a nominee will overturn Roe v. Wade, but McConnell’s standard is an approval by the NRA. In an interview with Fox, he said that he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.” McConnell also told a crowd at a campaign rally:

“One of my proudest moments was when I looked at Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.’”

The United States, which claims to be a democracy, now has a bogus president, a bogus Supreme Court justice, and a senate leader who decides which nominees can be confirmed.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court sent a gerrymandering case from North Carolina back to a trial court for further examination. Emboldened by other recent Supreme Court non-decisions on gerrymandering, North Carolina Republicans are asking SCOTUS to use the 2017 map plan that would inordinately favor the GOP.

DDT is fortunate that the media is not concentrating on some of the worst news for the United States because of DDT’s horrific policy separating children and families, his Russian scandals, and the recent disasters of the Supreme Court. During the time of President Obama, conservatives railed against the growing national debt after the president saved the U.S. economy that tanked from George W. Bush’s decreased taxes, $5 trillion wars, and the corruption of subprime mortgages. The last budget from President Obama, the one for 2017, increased the national debt by only $672 billion, a lot of money but much less than the projected deficit from DDT’s first budget in 2018. DDT’s first deficit is $1.233 trillion—almost twice that from President Obama—and his next year is about the same. DDT blamed President Obama for doubling the national debt after he took over Bush’s excesses, but now DDT is doubling President Obama’s debt.

Continuing deficits from tax cuts for the rich and big companies will come with increased dependence on foreign investors that weakens the world power of the U.S. Usually drastic debt increases result because of war and poor economy; the U.S. has neither at this time. After President Obama made progress in decreasing the deficit, however, Republicans’s huge tax cuts moved the nation to higher debt levels and erased its ability to respond to emergencies. Instead of addressing the problem, the GOP wants to make permanent the temporary taxes for individuals after 2026 to create even greater debt. Also contributing to greater debt and decline in the economy is DDT’s trade war with China, Mexico, Canada and Europe.

The GOP solution for the debt in the coming year will be to shred the safety net and established programs that people have paid into for decades. DDT ran on a campaign of preserving Medicare and Social Security, but the 2019 budget proposed by the GOP House now have drastically cuts many programs, including Medicare and Social Security, in order to pay for its tax cuts. Presenting these priorities that hurt the GOP voting block of older U.S. citizens is a brave move less than five months before Republicans try to keep the House majority in the midterm general elections. Republicans knew that the tax cuts could drive up the deficit, but they are now crying that the biggest domestic problem are debts and deficits. The GOP budget, called “A Brighter American Future,” goes back to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) desire of privatizing Medicare which supposedly reduces Medicare by $537 billion over the next decade. Considering that privatization always costs more than government programs, that’s a big slice out of health care for its recipients.

A new law that permits additional Medicare benefits for people with multiple chronic illnesses is a move toward privatization. These benefits may include home improvements such as wheelchair ramps, transportation to doctor’s offices, home delivery of hot meals, and other social and medical services. The catch is that only people with MedAdvantage programs, contracted with private companies, will have this “advantage.” Those who subscribe to traditional Medicare won’t have them available because Congress waived the requirement that all plans offer the same benefits for those with chronic illnesses.

Ryan is blaming God for taking benefits for people:

“Catholic social teaching … cautions us against allowing the state too great a reach into civil society. This is about saving souls, not dollars.”

Ryan’s college education was provided by his survivor’s benefits from the “state” after his father died. At the same time Ryan began “dreaming” about destroying Medicaid when he was “drinking out of kegs.” He plans to spend his last six months taking more money from people like him and ordered his team to provide reconciliation instructions to fast-track the budget without Democratic votes in the Senate—probably in the lame-duck session after the elections.

This June, the Supreme Court ended with a bang.

May 25, 2018

DDT: Week 70 – New U.S. Foreign Policy

China wins. The Asian country has made no commitments about reducing the trade deficits, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is saving jobs in China by lifting sanctions on the Chinese-owned company ZTE. The U.S. government had banned the company from buying U.S. components for seven years because the phones a security risk, used to track service members. ZTE officials as well as for foreign espionage and cyber attacks. Even with a 23-3 vote to keep DDT from lifting these sanctions, the Senate Banking Committee  failed to stop DDT.

During the last week, the U.S. foreign policy on China shifted daily—sometimes hourly. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the trade war was “on hold” because the U.S. had postponed tariffs on China. Hours later, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer told China that DDT might impose tariffs. DDT’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow earlier said that China offered to shrink the trade deficit by $200 billion but followed up on Sunday by saying that the figure was a “rough ballpark estimate” and that the two countries never expected to reach an agreement.

DDT goes to the side that can most benefit him personally, in this case a $500 million loan from China for his personal business. Andrew Ross Sorkin described DDT’s negotiating style:

“Start with a headline-grabbing demand, beat chest loudly, then accept whatever is actually practical and call it a win.”

DDT seems to have forgotten a rule in his ghost-written book The Art of the Deal:

“You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.”

Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, is back in business—literally—after he got his permanence high security clearance. Foreign officials, including those from China and UAE, can return to planning ways to manipulate him as he can enrich his family business by classified intelligence and access to DDT.

North Korea wins. In his desire to get a Nobel Peace Prize, DDT claimed that the summit meeting with Kim Jong-Un might be back on after he pulled out of the agreement yesterday. In a letter refusing the meeting, DDT had used the excuse of Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement” as his excuse. Technically, the hostility came from John Bolton’s and VP Mike Pence’s statements about employing the “Libya model” for North Korea, an action that led to the death and dismemberment for Libya’s leader. DDT gave no warning to South Korea about his withdrawal which weakened South Korea after its buy-in to the summit. The U.S. State Department may not even have been aware of DDT’s letter to Kim that canceled the meeting.

North Korea already dismantled a nuclear test site, most likely because it had become unusable. History repeats itself as North Korea destroyed another site to get rid of George W. Bush’s sanctions, only to later back out of its agreement. DDT tried to look reasonable by not flying planes over North Korea in his military games, but Kim looked much better after he released U.S. prisoners, stopped nuclear and missile testing, and blew up his nuclear testing site. By announcing that the he was backing out of the talks and then backing down from his action a few hours earlier, DDT looks impulsive and rash. He has ignored briefings about North Korea and advice to move more slowly into diplomatic meetings, thus increasing the world’s negative perspective about the U.S. being a failure under his leadership. DDT made Kim into a world leader and proved himself again a quitter while Kim ended up with the moral high ground.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea also benefits from better trade relationships with China, which may take over talks with North Korea after DDT abandoned its leverage. Japan had been left out of the discussions, thus dropping the talks will leave that country less vulnerable. The coalition of Asian companies further isolates the United States. DDT’s letter made threats by implying that U.S. nuclear powers are more “massive and powerful,” a continuation of DDT’s earlier “my button is bigger than your button” comments to Kim. He also said that the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” to take action against North Korea if it engages in a “foolish or reckless act” and that South Korea and Japan are willing to shoulder the costs. The two Asian countries haven’t responded to DDT’s statements—South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he was “very perplexed and sorry.”

The Washington Post write in an editorial: “Never has such chaos attended the public behavior of a U.S. president on a matter of such gravity.” A history of the failing summit talks with North Korea.

DDT may meet with Kim so that he doesn’t waste this commemorative coin that’s already being sold for $85. Seth Meyers has a segment on this and other coins.

The back-and-forth approaches toward China and North Korea are DDT’s attempt to divert people from James Clapper’s interviews and new book, Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence, and Clapper’s statement that Russia won the election for DDT, that he is an illegitimate president. Clapper’s interview with Rachel Maddow. Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence, also used the word “distorted” in describing DDT’s accusation that the FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled his campaign. That was the subject of a meeting at the White House, first scheduled with only GOP congressional members. Protests led to a second meeting on the same day that included the “Gang of 8, the bipartisan leadership of both the Senate and House. One of the “eight” was missing; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) didn’t want to miss a fundraiser to be briefed on a confidential intelligence source in the Russian investigation. DDT’s lawyer Emmet Flood managed to attend the meeting about a government’s case against his client—an unethical and possibly illegal action.

DDT’s hope for diverting more attention was “Spygate,” but the FBI was investigating Russian involvement in DDT’s campaign, not DDT and the members of his campaign. Yet DDT ordered federal agencies to give sensitive information about a person in the investigation to lawmakers who, he was sure, would then give him all the information—all for purely political reasons and in violation of the law After the meeting, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the briefing had no evidence of “Spygate.” Republicans said nothing except Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) twice defended false statements and accused Schiff of leaking classified information.  DDT’s other conspiracy theories to falsely and deliberately divert people from facts:

  • Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. (He didn’t.)
  • There were improper unmaskings. (There weren’t.)
  • The FISA warrants related to Carter Page were improper. (They weren’t).
  • It was Democrats who actually colluded with Russia. (They didn’t.)
  • Conspiring FBI officials may be guilty of “treason.” (They aren’t.)
  • “Uranium One” is a real scandal. (It isn’t.)
  • Senate Intelligence Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) had improper communications with a lobbyist for a Russian oligarch. (He didn’t.)
  • Every member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is a rabid Democratic partisan. (Mueller is a Republican.)
  • Law enforcement officials ”infiltrated” the Trump campaign, “implanting” a “spy” in the Republican operation. (They didn’t.)

The irony about DDT’s complaints about the FBI investigation into the campaign is that the FBI protected DDT. They concealed the campaign’s connections with Russia until after the election at the same time that they released information about Hillary Clinton with no reason that then led to her losing the election.

Other news from the current administration is so bizarre that most of it appears like satire—except for the disasters of the swamp/sewer facts. The latest piece had to be checked, and it’s true. A sinkhole on the North Lawn of the White House outside the press briefing room is growing every day with another sinkhole nearby. These phenomena develop from loosened soil and can swallow cars, streets, and even homes. Exactly one year ago, a bigger pit opened in front of Mar-a-Lago.

According to religious lore, the Bible states in Numbers:

“But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

The Book of Revelation has a more vivid description:

“When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.”

In that case, the sinkhole might be followed by locusts and scorpions. The most entertaining tweets about DDT’s sinkhole.

Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist, geologist and candidate for a California congressional seat in California, said, “Blame the swamp.” Really.

 

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