Nel's New Day

March 3, 2020

DDT’s Economy before Covid-19

As the new coronavirus, covid-19, continues its creep across the world, the economy—which had many cracks before the health crisis—may take a bit hit.

Financial markets: Last week, U.S. stocks’ drop of at least 10 percent had not been seen since 2008 in the great recession at the end of George W. Bush’s second term. Damage is being done to retirement accounts, especially if interest rates are again cut, and consumer confidence. Stocks went up this week but only because governments and banks promised to take care of the problem.

Retail: Reduction in discretionary spending influences an area providing for over two-thirds of U.S. economic growth. A covid-19 outbreak in the U.S. would also drive people to online outlets, threatening jobs in a sector showing no employment growth in 2019.

Travel and hospitality: Cancelation of conferences and meetings have already led to a drastic decline in global travel and tourism, hurting airlines, lodging, casinos, restaurants, concert/sports venues, and other businesses with close contact.

Technology: Factory shutdowns in China and neighboring countries already restricted supply of technology products and parts, necessary for huge companies such as Apple and Microsoft. Almost 80 percent of small and medium-sized industrial plants in China are still closed.

Automobiles: Lack of parts from China hurts the U.S. industry already suffering from DDT’s tariffs.

For the one argument to vote for him, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) bragged about creating the “best economy” people have ever known—low unemployment rate, lies about new jobs, and the high stock market. Even before the onslaught of covid-19, DDT’s economy was going downhill. He pushed through the tax cuts with promises for a GDP up to six percent but averaged $1 trillion deficit per year, twice President Obama’s last year. He hasn’t even hit three percent GDP growth for a year: 2.3 percent last year, 2.9 percent in 2018, and 2.4 percent his first year. President Obama hit over 4 percent in four different quarters. Goldman Sachs now estimates GDP for the first quarter of 2020 at 1.2 percent. Ed Hyman, Evercore ISI Chairman and widely followed economist on Wall Street, predicts 0.0 percent GDP for both second and third quarters of 2020. 

An update from early November showing DDT’s growing economy problems:

  • Private-sector investment had negative growth for most of 2019 as big business stores profits offshore and buys stocks in their companies.
  • Job growth of almost 2.1 million in 2019 was below that of 2018 and among the worst since 2011 when the country was crawling out of a big recession. DDT’s best year of 2018, with 2.31 million new jobs, was still under jobs gains during any of Obama’s last three years.
  • About 1 in 7 U.S. men between 25 and 54 (over 14 percent) aren’t employed, higher than the year before the economic disaster in 2007. Many of them don’t appear in unemployment statistics because they gave up looking for work. Most do not have college degrees and live in a handful of rural, low-income regions across the country.
  • Median household income rose only $1,400 during DDT’s first two years, compared to the $4,810 increase during President Obama’s last two years.
  • Wage growth dropped in states that didn’t have minimum-wage increases, and median wage for “blue collar” workers has gone down 12.3 percent since 1979. The $7.25 minimum wage, established 11 years ago, just shrank to $6.05 after adjusted for inflation.  U.S. households are poorer than before the 2007 financial crisis.
  • The median wage of a full-time male worker is still more than three percent below what it was 40 years ago. DDT’s change in the overtime rule means that eight million workers will receive lower wages, $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule.
  • The typical US male worker needs one additional week every year to support a family of four compared to the 30 weeks in 1985 that gave him the money. Now a man needs $54,441 for expenditures compared to the $13,227 required in 1985. Women are worse off, requiring 45 weeks in 1985 compared to 66 weeks in 2018.
  • Median household income in Democratic districts is $61,000, compared with $53,000 for Republicans.
  • Conservative policies are responsible for millennials’ huge college debt, stagnant wages, unaffordable health care, climate change problems, and massive federal deficits.
  • Nine of the last ten recessions began under Republicans: 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1981, 1990, 2001, and 2007. The only Democratic one was in 1980, resulting from the oil crisis in the late 1970s.
  • In the employment figures that DDT praises, 57 million workers, one-third of all employed people, have gig economy jobs without any benefits such as health insurance. People in those jobs, as well as other ones that don’t provide sick leave, are likely to spread covid-19 by working while sick and having contact with a large number of people.  
  • In two years, the uninsured rate increased from 10.9 percent to 13.7 percent, and life expectancy dropped in the first two years after DDT was inaugurated—in 2017 the highest rate of midlife mortality since World War II.
  • Almost 60 percent of people in the U.S. cannot cover an emergency expense of $1,000 such as a car repair
  • In a Monmouth University poll, only 12 percent of people in the U.S. said their families had “benefited a great deal” from recent economic growth, and only 18 percent said that middle-class families had benefited a lot from Trump’s economic policies. 

DDT wants people to overlook his soliciting foreign interference to get elected, incessantly lying, obstructing justice, and destroying the lives of people through his domestic and foreign policies. His demand for votes based on a continuation of Obama’s economy ignores the indicators of a coming recession.

  • The manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 47.2, its lowest level since June 2009. Unemployment has increased in Ohio and Pennsylvania for the past six months, and Michigan and Wisconsin manufacturing unemployment has eroded.
  • Manufacturing cut 12,000 jobs in December; mining shed 8,000; and transportation and warehousing dumped 10,000. US Steel shuttered its Detroit plant and laid off 1,545 workers. Two hundred workers lost their jobs earlier last year.
  • Shipment volume dropped 9.4 percent in January 2020 compared to an already weak January the previous year. The decrease was for the 14th month and the steepest since October 2009. In December, the Celadon Group, with 3,000 drivers and 2,700 tractors, became the largest truckload carrier to file for bankruptcy, and barge operator American Commercial Lines, with 3,500 barges mostly the Mississippi River, declared bankruptcy in January. Two of the largest US railroads, CSX and Union Pacific, dropped revenues and reported massive layoffs from weak transportation.
  • Car sales have declined since 2016 to below their level in 2000, and new-vehicle registration in California, the biggest U.S. market, dropped 5.5 percent in 2019. New-vehicle sales have dropped to
  • Five percent of auto loans are delinquent.
  • Credit card delinquencies increased in 2019 to 8.36 percent. Subprime credit-card delinquency rates are at an all-time high.
  • One in nine borrowers of student debt, now over $1.5 trillion, were reported 90+ days delinquent or in default in 2019. This figure might be understated because half of student loans aren’t in the repayment cycle because they are in deferment, grace periods, or forbearance. Delinquency rates are projected to be about twice as high when those loans enter the repayment cycle.
  • The size of the stock market relative to the size of the economy is at its highest level ever, showing that it’s overvalued. Because of stock over-evaluation, asset managers expect a recession this year or in 2021.
  • Capital spending by S&P 500 companies grew less than 1 percent in the third quarter and would have fallen without Apple and Amazon because uncertain business environment causes companies to cut back on spending.

GOP Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley encouraged DDT and his economists, including Peter Navarro, to read about parallels to the booming 1920s in Dan Henninger’s Wall Street Journal op-ed by Dan Henninger. The economic growth, when Congress cut taxes three times in a time of huge income inequality, was followed by the financial crash and almost a decade of deep fiscal depression. Herbert Hoover, elected in 1928, loved tariffs that damaged an already declining economy and signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff law in 1930, a policy that severely restricted trade and strained the economy by raising import taxes.

After a cash shortage in financial institutions last September, the Federal Reserve flooded the market with overnight “repos,” repurchase operations by purchasing $60 billion a month in short-term Treasury bills. Banks buy them overnight and sell them back the next day at a higher price to meet federal requirements for minimum reserves. 

The economy would have shown greater signs of tanking without the Federal Reserve acting as if the U.S. were in a recession instead of a sound economy. The agency practiced quantitative easing, buying assets such as bonds. The last time the government did this to get out of the great recession, the Fed stopped the practice as soon as the economy recovered. Now, the Fed is purchasing bonds at a $60 billion per month–$720 billion a year or about three-fourths of a trillion dollars—more debt for future generations. This system moves more wealth to the top, away from most people.

The Fed has also cut interest rates several times since DDT was inaugurated, most recently the 0.5 percent this morning which dropped the rate to below 1.25 percent—the largest cut since 2008. The purpose is to encourage people to spend, an unlikely behavior during a health crisis.

A recent Pew research poll found that “[s]even-in-10 U.S. adults say the economic system in their country unfairly favors powerful interests.” William D. Cohan wrote that covid-19 gave investors the reason for grabbing their profits in a shaky economy and DDT an excuse to blame the stock market on something other than his economic policies that “widened the gulf between the rich and poor” to the biggest divide since the Gilded Age of 150 years ago.   

March 1, 2020

DDT Goes to India, Woos Taliban

Last week before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) came home to the worst decline in the stock market since 2008 and the possibility of an epidemic in the U.S., he spent two happy days with another authoritarian. Jealous of the 50,000 audience for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston, DDT was promised a much bigger crowd during his stay on a trip to India. At a rally, 100,000 attendees cheered DDT before over one-third of them walked out of the cricket stadium during his speech. Another third left during Modi’s speech. In Ahmedabad, a city of six million, Modi failed to come up with the 10 million along the motorcade path, but he did provide costumed musicians, dancers, and a marching band on camels. [Visual Trump India]

During press conferences, DDT avoided Modi’s international condemnation for revoking the statehood of Muslims and establishing a religious test for new migrants to make India a Hindu nation and drive out the 200 million Muslims. DDT was supposed to talk “about our shared tradition of democracy and religious freedom” but instead skipped the subject. While police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse crowds in New Delhi, DDT spoke of India as a place where different faiths “worship side by side in harmony.” He ignored both the violence and the anti-Islam law. 

DDT may have hoped that his visit to the state of Gujarat would help him get donations and votes from influential Indian-Americans, It’s also the place where Modi tacitly supported the killing of over 1,000 people in 2002 in sectarian violence, almost 80 percent of them Muslims killed by Hindu mobs. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Like today’s sectarian violence, police didn’t intervene and sometimes joined in that attacks. Last week, over 30 people were killed in protests. George W. Bush banned Modi from visiting the U.S. because of his actions until he became prime minister in 2014. Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Modi, hurt by a steep economic downturn, can’t fulfill campaign promises on job creation. DDT imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from India that raised penalties on agricultural goods and restrictions on U.S. medical devices. DDT retaliated by removing India from a decades-old preferential trade program.

Michael Fuchs wrote:

“The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies are pursuing dangerous, nationalist visions at odds with their countries’ founding values.”

Both DDT and Modi achieved political power through inciting hatred of Muslims. The Delhi riots bear a strong resemblance to the ethnic pogrom in Gujarat almost two decades ago.

Yasmeen Serhan echoed Fuchs’ statement about democracies moving to autocracies

“As the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies, their shared disregard for norms, disdain for dissent (from the media and elsewhere), and dedication to strengthening their own executive power at the expense of state institutions designed to curb it have made them emblematic of the democratic deterioration that has been taking place in recent years.

“A mainstay of autocratic rule is the consolidation of executive power…. Trump’s bid to extend his presidential authority in the U.S. has steadily increased over time, from his attempts to defy Congress and the Constitution over his hardline immigration policies to his impeachment-spurring efforts to withhold congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. In both cases, Trump’s rationale was largely the same: to invoke presidential privilege or, in autocratic speak, to declare himself constitutionally above the law. White House withholding press briefings and attacking news outlets and journalists perceived as critical.

“But perhaps the most common trait among burgeoning autocrats in recent years is the growing appeal to populist and nationalist sentiment. This has been most pronounced in India through Modi’s efforts to transform the country from a secular democracy into a theocratic, nationalist one that dominates its minorities. In the U.S., Trump has made his nativist rhetoric about immigration a hallmark of his administration.”

In praising Modi, DDT may have thought he was criticizing China, but he described his own approach to ruling the U.S.:

“There is all the difference in the world between a country that seeks to claim power through coercion, intimidation and aggression, and a country that seeks to grow by setting its people free, and unleashing them to chase their dreams, and that is India.”

Protests have come from the Indian 2019 Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which grants amnesty to non-Muslim immigrants from three nearby Muslim-majority countries—Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh—who came to India before 2015 in an expansion of the 1951 National Register of Citizens. Assam, which borders Bangladesh, has been registering “Indian” citizens since the 1951 census but now works to expel Muslims as “foreigners.” To stay in the country, Muslims, unlike those of any other religion, must provide proof that their families migrated to India before 1971, the year that Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan and created a refugee crisis. Generations of Indian Muslims born and raised in India must produce their grandparents’ legal documents, which in many cases no longer exist, or leave.

Under DDT, the U.S. stripped Latinx of citizenship even if they were born in the U.S. and have birth certificates. Officials demand documents such as baptismal records and ask questions such as “Do you remember when you were born?” Some had passports revoked, put in deportation proceedings, and barred from returning to the U.S. if they visited Mexico. The project began on the southern border but moved north to central states. DDT’s Muslim bans also draw parallels to Modi’s driving Muslims out of India.

AG Bill Barr created a new office to denaturalize citizens who committed any crimes. The new section replaces the one investigating cases about revoking citizenship for those convicted of terrorism, war crimes, human rights violations, and sex offenses. Under President Obama, the office focused on people who falsified applications and committed major crimes. Since 2008, 228 denaturalization cases have been filed, 40 percent of them since 2017. In three years, case referrals have increased 600 percent. Under DDT, the process may be used against people who make misstatements on the application.

Human rights lawyer Arjun Sethi called DDT and Modi the “worst kind of fascists.”

“Both Modi and Trump have criminalized minority communities, championed fake news and persecuted dissent, promoted supremacist ideologies, and played on the racism and anxiety of dominant communities.”

DDT’s visit to India also brought up his business ventures, the most in any country except the U.S. His India ventures include four luxury residential projects and an office tower branded with the Trump name under licensing deals. Since DDT’s last visit to India in 2014, one of DDT’s business has been accused of massive fraud, and the other faces a funding crunch. Both of them have close ties to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

The week concluded by the U.S. and the Taliban signing an agreement that would begin the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Afghanistan over 14 months after over 18 years, the longest war on foreign soil. The text is here. Estimates of that war cost for the U.S. is almost $8 trillion by 2050. Secretary of State Pompeo said that the Afghans need to determine the future of their country, but no Afghans were at the table for the negotiation. It was entirely one-sided by the Taliban with the U.S. running the show.

According to the agreement, the Taliban will break off ties to terror groups, but nothing was said about human rights—oppression of females and harsh punishments exacted against anyone for petty offenses. The Taliban agreed that Afghan soil will not be used by terrorists to attack the United States or its allies, but it does not have control over areas outside Afghan hands. Several factions, including ISIS, control areas and could grow stronger without U.S. troops. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote:

“Legitimizing Taliban sends the wrong signal to ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists, and to America’s enemies generally.”

The deal stipulates that the badly-split Afghan government must organize a negotiating team to begin talks with the Taliban by March 10. On the same day, before any talks, thousands of Taliban prisoners held by Afghans must be released in exchange for 1,000 Taliban-held members of the Afghan security forces. Twenty-two GOP lawmakers have issued a warning letter to Pompeo and DOD Secretary Mark Esper that the Taliban has “a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.” 

Under DDT, the U.S. signed an agreement with an officially listed terrorist group, the Haqqani Network, which has a campaign of suicide bombings. The Network’s leader, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is the Taliban’s deputy leader and military commander. A day before the signing ceremony, the Taliban’s multimedia chief described it as a historic landmark for proclaiming “the defeat of the arrogance of the White House in the face of the white turban.” Pompeo indicated that he doesn’t trust the Taliban to live up to the agreement; DDT said he wants to meet with them.

We have ten days to see any success. 

February 29, 2020

Covid-19 Not a ‘Hoax’

The spread of the coronavirus covid-19 around the globe overshadowed other major events such as primaries in 14 states on Tuesday—including California and Texas—and signing of a peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban. Earlier this week, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) spent days in India schmoozing with autocratic leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi while violent protests against restrictions on Muslim citizenship in the country killed people and the stock markets began serious declines, the worst week since the recession in 2008.

DDT found himself caught in the middle of the covid-19 crisis with his attempts to minimize its spread in the U.S. while the experts explain how easily it is spread and the possibility of death. His followers claim the virus is a “hoax” to bring down DDT was followed by  acting chief-in-staff Mick Mulvaney telling the lie to his conservative CPAC audience. Last night at his campaign rally, DDT repeated the falsehood that “the Democrats are politicizing” the virus, which is “their new hoax,” but today he had to face questions about his statements during a press conference. His political solution for problems with the virus is to instigate more tax cuts and against lower the interest rate

[Left: DDT’s vision of covid-19.] The first death from covid-19 in King County (WA) was close to the northern border with Canada, and DDT’s solution is to close the southern border to Mexico. Canada has five times the number of virus cases as Mexico. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to answer questions about minimizing the danger when he testified before the House Foreign Relations Committee for a brief two hours before he ran off to attend the CPAC. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded covid-19’s global risk to the top level of “very high.” Over 60 countries have reported cases, and people in Iran’s healthcare system reported that statistics for illnesses and deaths are much higher than the government indicates—thousands of people attacked by covid-19. At least 86,000 people in the world have been infected, and about 3,000 have died.

Surprising HHS Secretary Alex Azar, DDT made VP Mike Pence the point person for the health crisis. DDT said that an outbreak was not inevitable although the CDC’s director of immunization and respiratory diseases stated that “it’s not a question of if, but rather a question of when and how many people in this country will have severe illness.” During Pence’s first day solving the covid-19 crisis he attended the CPAC, met with Fox’s Sean Hannity and farther-right Sinclair’s Eric Bolling, and put DDT’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow on his “team.” This week, Kudlow claimed that covid-19 was already contained in the U.S.; back in 2007/08, he said that there was no chance of a recession, a message that he’s again repeating. Pence fundraised in Florida the next day.

Pence did take time to meet with his task force to tell them that all statements and public appearances about the virus will go through him. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had said “we are dealing with a serious virus” which may have a higher mortality rate than influenza and “has adapted extremely well to human species.” He said he was told not to say anything else without clearance bu today claimed that he had not been “muzzled.” Pence also appointed Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the director of the United States effort to combat H.I.V. and AIDS, as the coronavirus response coordinator, but DDT said, “Mike will report back to me.” In a confusion of leadership, Azar claimed to be the chairman of the task force, making him the third leader. DDT failed to follow the “clearance” policy by announcing false statistics, reassurances, and accusations at his campaign rally.

The Food and Drug Administration took action in speeding up hospitals’ abilities to test for covid-19 by allowing labs to develop and use coronavirus diagnostic tests before the agency reviews them. The lack of testing in the U.S. has been a disaster: fewer than 500 people were tested at the same time that China tested 320,000 people. The shortage of tests was so severe that a woman in California waited for five days to get CDC permission for testing because she didn’t fit restrictive federal criteria such as travel to China.

The DOD canceled a military exercise with South Korea, restricted access to Army public areas in Italy, ordered ships visiting Pacific region countries to stay at sea for 14 days, and stopped all non-essential travel in the Persian Gulf region.  

Today, DDT bragged about the quick response and preparedness to stop covid-19 from spreading in the U.S. Yet a whistleblower faces retaliation for reporting how the government didn’t provide proper training and protective gear for people required to work with quarantined people. Employees for HHS Administration for Children and Families were ordered to help quarantined people flown in from overseas, some of them having contracted the virus. DDT had already overridden CDC’s recommendation to not return them back to the U.S.

When the group was taken to two Air Force bases in California, staff members were not provided safety-protocol training until five days into their assignment. Exposed staff members went around and off the bases; at least one person stayed at a nearby hotel and left California on a commercial flight. When the whistleblower expressed concerns relayed to her from staff members, she was reassigned. None of the workers was monitored after they worked with the sick returnees. One of the bases, Travis Air Force Base, is ten miles away from Vacaville where a woman contracted covid-19 without travel or known contact with someone testing positive for covid-19.  

At today’s press conference, Pence tried to downplay his part in the Indiana healthcare crisis while he was governor. He cut public health spending and delayed needle exchanges because of his belief that it leads to drug abuse. It doesn’t. After the state’s worst outbreak of HIV, he had to back off and allow needle exchanges—for 30 days until Indiana changed the law. Pence also doesn’t believe in a connection between tobacco use and cancer; he wrote, “Smoking doesn’t kill.” He also said, “Condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.” Pence’s decisions are based on his evangelical Christian beliefs.

Although DDT announced the first covid-19 death in the U.S. as a “wonderful woman,” the death was that of a man in his 50s. The other two new presumptive cases in the state, meaning not yet verified by testing, include a health care worker and a resident at a long-term care facility in Kirkland (WA). The facility now has 52 people suspected of covid-19, and Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency in Washington.

At least 28 million people in the U.S. are uninsured, and millions more are underinsured with high deductibles. Many employers don’t provide sick leave, and wages can be so low that people can’t stay home if they are sick. Children go to school because parents cannot afford child care. Some of DDT’s promised $2.5 billion for the healthcare crisis comes from other domestic funding, including that for low-income people such as the home-heating program, and $535 million from the program to avoid Ebola, an epidemic that can come to the U.S.

Development of a vaccine to block covid-19’s rapid spread could take a year or longer. While testifying before the House this week, Azar refused to guarantee that a vaccine or treatment developed with taxpayer money would be affordable. He told Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) that “we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest.” Schakowsky protested that “he’s giving Big Pharma a blank check to monopolize them instead.” While CEO of Elly Lilly, Azar doubled the price of insulin. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, the vaccine would be free for all insured people, like all federally-recommended vaccines. 

Polling among Democrats, independents, and undecideds shows them more anxious about paying for healthcare than for housing, food, and transportation. Two-thirds worry about paying unexpected medical bills, almost 50 percent are concerned about affording insurance deductibles, and 45 percent worried about paying for necessary prescription drugs. Another 40 percent worry about affording insurance premiums. The poll was taken from February 13-18, before anxiety was ramped up by the incidence of covid-19 in the U.S. and the administration’s mixed messages.

February 22, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – The Chaos Continues

This last week Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) retaliation went beyond firing Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire. In his reign of revenge, DDT fired Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, who began his federal career under George W. Bush. Rood made the mistake of questioning DDT’s freeze on military aid for Ukraine and warned Defense Secretary Mark Esper that withholding the aid would “undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.” Another Rood sin, in DDT’s eyes, was telling Congress that Ukraine was initiating significant reforms to get the funding which undermined one of DDT’s arguments for keeping the congressionally-appropriated money from Ukraine. Rood is the ninth recent DDT-instigated departure from the DOD.

Victoria Coates, deputy national security adviser, was moved to the Energy Department because Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade adviser, thinks—with no evidence—that she is the anonymous author of the book A Warning and of the op-ed criticizing DDT in September 2018. A week ago, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who hired Coates as his deputy to manage Middle East and North Africa issues, said she would not be moved from the job; a few days ago he confirmed her move. Navarro was given his job with the administration after DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner saw his name while browsing Amazon and seeing the title of his book, Death by China. Many of DDT’s misguided beliefs about trade can directly be traced to Navarro.

DDT is even threatening to get Neil Cavuto fired from the Fox network after the host allowed A.B. Stoddard to say, when she was making the point that Mike Bloomberg’s bad debate performance didn’t damage him:

“Donald Trump had many disastrous debate performances. Many answers were so cringeworthy that you couldn’t believe that he was still standing on the stage, and he’s President.”

DDT spent 15 minutes of his Colorado campaign rally ranting about Cavuto, ending in incoherence about his enemies:

“They want to take you out. They want to change the results. They got caught spying—let’s say it like it is, right?—they got caught spying on our election, fake news. Hey, fake news: take your cameras for a change, and show them the room, and show them behind you.”

DDT told Defense Secretary Mark Esper that he could abolish collective bargaining rights for the Defense Department’s 750,000 civilian workers, a move unions decried as part of the administration’s far-reaching assault on organized labor. “national security” and that, if necessary, collective bargaining rights at the department should be scrapped in the interest of “protecting the American people.” The workers have been guaranteed by law since 1962.

Floridians passed an initiative allowing voting rights to up to 1.4 million people who served sentences for all but the most serious crimes, but the state legislature spent over a year trying to stop them by requiring them to pay all court-related fines and fees in order to register. Florida funds its court system with heavy fines. Disenfranchised blacks are five times the rate of any other state. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court has upheld a ruling opposing the Republicans’ poll tax for voting for the 17 plaintiffs. The decision opens the door for the remainder of affected people to vote, but a review by the entire court may change the decision because DDT has flipped the court to majority Republican. DDT’s Supreme Court could also overturn the ruling.

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), that leaker/liar to DDT, most recently who got Director of Intelligence Joe Maguire fired for allowing a briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. Last year, Nunes filed a racketeering lawsuit against Fusion private investigation started by a GOP company to discredit DDT during his campaign. The judge not only refused the $9.9 million in damages but also indicated that he would sanction Nunes and his attorney if he pushed the lawsuit. Nunes claimed that he was a victim of “active, coordinated and ongoing corruption, fraud and obstruction of justice” in his efforts to investigate the firm’s role proving stoking DDT’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign. He is known for his litigious obsession.

In his budget, DDT has ghosted women to the point of making them invisible. Gone are programs for women in healthcare, family planning, and paid leave while making tax cuts for the wealthy and big business permanent. Almost 40 million women get their health coverage from childbirth and family planning to chronic disease and disability care from Medicaid, which is being erased.

Over half of all women—68 million—have preexisting conditions. These include six million pregnancies each year, considered by insurance companies as a “preexisting condition.” Women also have chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes at higher rates as well as cervical cancer. The budget also eliminates family planning funding for Planned Parenthood and an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program. DDT’s paid leave plan ignores 75 percent of workers needing paid leave for their own health issues, care for ill or injured family members, and a military family member’s deployment. Also missing are solutions for sick days for shorter-term illnesses such as flu or care for a sick child.

While reducing domestic spending, DDT increased nuclear weapons spending by 20 percent in both the Defense Department ($28.9 billion) and the National Nuclear Security Administration ($19.8 billion) to a total of $46 billion.

Some people said that the impeachment trial was a waste of time, but DDT’s legal team provided arguments for Democrats suing to obtain DDT’s tax returns. When they asked a judge to lift a stay on the lawsuit, they used statements from Jay Sekulow and Alan Dershowitz who refuted the position “that the House is constitutionally barred from obtaining judicial enforcement of its subpoenas.”

During the impeachment inquiry and trial, DDT’s GOP supporters consistently cited the media as support for their lies about investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Without using the name of John Solomon, Republicans sourced the misrepresentations using conflicts of interest for opinion pieces in the sometimes-credible conservative publication The Hill. After an investigation into Solomon’s work, The Hill has released an evaluation—too little, too late—of problems in Solomon’s supposedly journalistic work and the changes that they are making as attempts to return “to report the news in a nonpartisan and fair way.” The problem is that this action was not taken before GOP Senators unleashed DDT in a virulent purge of quality career employees throughout the government through an acquittal of his unconstitutional behavior. 

Solomon’s columns guided DDT into demanding investigations of the Bidens, and DDT’s son, Donald Trump Jr, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted Solomon’s writings through Twitter. Fox’s Sean Hannity also promoted Solomon and his disinformation. Paul Farhi reported:

The Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, ‘facilitated’ by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.”

According to the evaluation of 14 Solomon columns and related videos, The Hill didn’t retract or apologize the articles. Solomon still contributes to Fox.

A U.S. jury awarded a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million for years of crop losses because of drifting dicamba weed killer, produced by Monsanto. The farm, which lost 30,000 trees, didn’t use the herbicide, but Monsanto sold GMO soybeans and cotton seeds to their neighbors without EPA approval. This was the first dicamba legal challenge to go to trial, but it will be followed by many others affected by a destructive and untested product. German chemicals company Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 and plans an appeal while fighting a multitude of lawsuits alleging that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer, 140 cases related to dicamba, safety risks from its Essure birth control device, and suits regarding PCB-contaminated waterways.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in trouble after she ignored her staff and kept open a for-profit “accredited” college with neither faculty nor students. Originally tied to the University of Northern Virginia, Reagan National University moved to Sioux Falls (SD) having “among the laxest rules for colleges in the country,” according to a report.

DDT’s BLM is empowering far-right ideological “constitutionalist” theories negating federal government power by allowing local sheriffs to ignore BLM regulations. The current acting director, William Perry Pendley, believes that the federal government has no right to own federal lands. The “constitutional” approach originated with the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic organizations of the 1970s and 1980s and later developed from a Mormon ideologue and the 1990s Militia of Montana and Montana Freemen.

Fans protested because Fox sports didn’t show DDT’s campaign speech last Sunday although it was on Fox “news.” Maybe the sports channel didn’t want to embarrass DDT by showing him following the words on his speech like a beginning reader. Once again DDT broke the law by using taxpayer resources for campaigning during his lap today at Daytona in the presidential limousine. And once again Republicans won’t care.

February 21, 2020

DDT: Week 161 – Russian Interference Denial, Bad Global Diplomacy

Russia is again preferring Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) elected as president in 2020, according to a classified hearing for the House Intelligence Committee about election security. The information is not a surprise, but the ramifications of the intelligence briefing are. DDT became furious after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told DDT that only Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who DDT perceives as his arch-nemesis, was told about the release of the information. Nunes has a years-old pattern of running to DDT with information and/or lies. Republicans are accusing the briefers from other agencies of trying to sabotage DDT’s reelection. DDT immediately fired Joe Maguire, acting Director of Intelligence, for telling House members about Russia’s preference. He said that Maguire should not have allowed the briefing and that he should be been told about it if it did happen. In addition, DDT said that Russia wasn’t interfering and called it “Hoax number 7.”  

DDT’s aides have been ordered to identity and remove government officials who don’t defend DDT’s interests so that he can replace them with loyalists. Johnny McEntee, DDT’s new personnel chief, told agencies to expect staffing changes (aka purges), starting with the State Department and the Department of Defense.

Russia should be delighted with DDT after he replaced Maguire with Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador to Germany. Grenell fits DDT’s criteria: he supports white nationalists, defends DDT on the Fox network and Twitter, and doesn’t believe that Russia isn’t supporting DDT through disinformation and other election interference. Like DDT, the racist, anti-immigrant Grenell has a history of attacking women on Twitter.

Early in Grenell’s ambassadorship, German officials called for his expulsion. Grenell ordered Germany to stop trading with Iran and then said he would work on policy, not diplomacy, to help far-right nationalists take power in Europe. He said he planned to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders” and praised Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, connected to the Freedom Party created in the 1950s by a former Nazi officer. Grenell was described as “an extreme-right colonial officer,” a “total diplomatic failure” who was acting like a “brat.”

The German newspaper Der Spiegel‘s description of Grenell from interviews:

“Almost all of these [30] sources paint an unflattering portrait of the ambassador, one remarkably similar to Donald Trump, the man who sent him to Berlin. A majority of them describe Grenell as a vain, narcissistic person who dishes out aggressively, but can barely handle criticism. His brash demeanor, some claim, hides a deep insecurity, and they say he thirsts for the approval of others.” 

Called upon to explain why Grenell plans to “empower” Europe’s anti-immigrant conservatives at the time, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert forgot that German was not an ally during World War II:

“We have a very strong relationship with the government of Germany….  Tomorrow is the anniversary of the D-Day invasion [when the U.S. helped liberate France from Germany]. We obviously have a very long history with the government of Germany.”

As acting DNI heading up 17 intelligence agencies, Grenell would oversee the intelligence community’s efforts to combat election interference and disinformation, but he has been skeptical of Russia’s role in 2016. He also fails to meet the requirement of federal law that “any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise.” Before Grenell became ambassador to Germany, he was spokesperson for the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, run a public affairs consultancy, been a Fox News contributor, and, for a few days, was presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national security spokesperson. Since becoming an ambassador, Grenell became special envoy for negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Grenell, one of DDT’s “best people,” also worked for Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, now a fugitive and barred from entering the U.S. because of corruption. Writing articles defending Plahotniuc in 2016, Grenell did not say he was being paid and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, DDT’s former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, were convicted of violating this law. Undisclosed work for a foreign politician could block someone from security clearance or a position in a U.S. intelligence agency. A lawyer specializing in security clearances said it’s unclear how Grenell received clearance to become an ambassador.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) gave a weak excuse for Grenell’s complete lack of experience for his new position: Grenell is gay. Gaetz evidently considered Grenell’s sexual orientation as the one requirement for heading up 17 intelligence agencies. Grenell, however, supports homophobia. About VP Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, Grenell said they are “great people, “godly people,” followers of Christ [who] don’t have hate in their heart for anyone.”

Kash Patel, former national security council director of counterterrorism, has become a top adviser in Grenell’s office. As Nunes’ staffer, Patel was a leader in discrediting the Russian interference into the U.S. election. In her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Fiona Hull expressed concern that Fiona Hill, the National Security Council’s former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, said she believed that Patel was sending information to DDT after becoming improperly involved in Ukraine policy. DDT had identified Patel as the National Security Council’s “Ukraine director,” a position held by one of Hill’s deputies. Patel was lead author of a memo accusing the FBI and DOJ leaders of abusing their power in the Russia investigation.

While DDT was busy firing career government workers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some of his U.S. entourage were stunned at the European disapproval of the U.S., DDT, and his policies at the Munich Security Conference. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened by accusing the DDT administration of “rejecting the idea of the international community.” He summarized DDT’s policy:

“Every country should fend for itself and put its own interests over all others … ‘Great again’—even at the expense of neighbors and partners.”

Pompeo was unable to convince most countries that “the U.S. is out there fighting for sovereignty and our friends.” After his speech, German and French officials agreed that Pompeo was speaking only to DDT and not the Europeans in the room. Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, expressed concern about Macron’s overtures toward Russia in his speech. Many countries at the conference also failed to agree with the position of Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper who spoke about China being a reprehensible force.

Criticism directed toward China for expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters didn’t go well for Pompeo, especially because he told the country that “mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions.” Earlier, Pompeo had kicked an NPR reporter off his overseas trip in an unwarranted snit at another NPR reporter. Trips to Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia were not diplomatically successful; Africans still remember when DDT called them “sh*thole” countries. DDT also cut aid to Africa and expanded a travel ban affecting about one-fourth of its 1.2 million people.  

In South Africa, Pompeo criticized South African government’s plans to expropriate private land without compensation and said that economies need “respect for property rights.” Pompeo said, “Be wary of authoritarian regimes and their empty promises. They breed corruption, dependency and instability.” Because of the racist apartheid that lasted until 1994, South Africa is one of the world’s most unequal countries. At the present time, DDT is appropriating private land for his wall while desecrating sacred tribal land.  

Saudi Arabia was a more successful stop for Pompeo. He could ignore how they imprison U.S. citizens and kill a U.S. resident and journalist. (Importance of a “free press,” anyone?) After all, DDT makes money from the Saudis, and Jared Kushner is buddies with the Crown Prince.

Those surprised by the reaction to the U.S. at the conference might have benefited from reading the Pew Research results showing attitudes toward DDT and his policies. In 32 countries, 64 percent lack confidence that DDT will do the right thing in world affairs, and Western Europe has the most common anti-DDT sentiments. Overall, DDT has an average of 29 percent. In Mexico, 89 percent lack confidence in DDT. He gets the highest level of confidence from the most autocratic countries and Israel. These results are a year old; 2020 will probably be worse for DDT.

Having lost friendship with democracies, DDT is now being deserted by other autocrats. In the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte declared that “America is very rude” to Filipino friends and moved on to a relationship with China. DDT’s desertion of Venezuela’s president also lost that country for his ally.

Pompeo came home to a lawsuit about his communications with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about Pompeo’s interest in being the senator from Kansas. American Oversight, a watchdog group, is suing the State Department for records about this relationship. Pompeo says he’s not going to run for the open seat after Pat Roberts retires but keeps meeting with Republicans.

February 12, 2020

Budget Shows DDT’s Cruel Priorities

Last year, household debt topped $14 trillion.

The day before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) Trump tweeted “BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!” he slashed a scheduled pay raise for federal workers from 2.5 percent to 1 percent because, according to DDT, he’s “keeping the nation on a fiscally sustainable course.” The White House said that a president can “implement alternative plans for pay adjustments” in “a national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” This assertion came from the man who signed $1.5 trillion cuts for the rich and big business. The increase in cost of living for 2019 was 2.3 percent, the highest since 2011, which means that federal workers’ wages dropped 1.3 percent.

In January, the federal deficit climbed to $389, 25 percent more than the same period last year. The Treasury Department estimates a deficit of more than $1 trillion, even higher than the almost $1 trillion for each of the first two years after DDT was inaugurated. Revenue is down because of loss from individual corporate tax cuts of 40 percent.

Against this backdrop, DDT released his new budget with the redundant name “The Budget for America’s Future.” On the campaign trail, DDT said he would eliminate the federal debt, or at least halve it, during his presidency. Instead, his new budget adds $3.4 trillion by 2024 on top of the $3 trillion he already added—and that’s likely a very conservative guesstimate—with an “optimistic” projection of ballooning debt until 2035.

When he pushed the tax cuts, DDT promised to grow the economy by at least four percent and maybe 5 percent or 6 percent. Last year, the GDP grew at 2.3 percent, and he projects 2.8 percent for 2020, going up to 3 percent a year after that. He’s still saying that his tax plan will create business investment and economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office’s far more realistic estimate is GDP growth of 2.2 percent this year, 1.9 percent in 2021, and average 1.7 percent through 2030.

Saturday morning, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted that he “will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget.” The next day, DDT’s newly released budget showed “steep reductions in social-safety-net programs” of $2 trillion, including $1.6 trillion cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, according to the conservative Wall Street Journal. Among the $920 billion cut for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are $135 billion for prescription drugs and $292 billion in safety-net cuts such as work requirements and food stamps. [Last year, drug prices increased by 5 percent] DDT’s budget cuts Medicare by $451 billion. Gone are $1.7 billion for low-income children’s school meals, $200 billion by requiring Social Security numbers for the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and $170 billion for student loan programs. Social Security was cut by $70 billion eligibility for disability benefits, adding to a total of $4.4 trillion cuts for programs benefiting families and working people.

With Mick Mulvaney still making the $203,500 for salary from his past position as director of the Office of Management and Budget but now action chief of staff, acting OMB director Russell Vought, making only $179,000 to do Mulvaney’s dirty work, was left to justify DDT’s budget. According to Vought, the administration isn’t making these cuts at all: it will “remove” parts of the Medicare and then “moderate their growth” with reforms. He declined to give a total figure of all cuts (aka moderations of growth) to Medicare and Social Security.

Vought couldn’t answer the question about DDT’s introduction of the new budget that stated the government “abused its authority to go after business.” He said:

“Who? Who? Who’s saying that? Don’t have it in front of me.”

The White House put most of Vought’s briefing “off-camera.”

Asked about the $2 trillion in proposed cuts to “entitlement programs,” Vought answered that they weren’t cuts. He said, “We believe these are good-government reforms.” He also commented that “the coronavirus is not going to have a ripple effect.”

Under oath while testifying before the House Budget Committee, Vought refused to answer the question about whether President Obama’s administration had created any jobs.

Once again DDT panders to his base with his budget. His only increases are 12 percent to NASA for a trip to Mars (which DDT unfortunately won’t be taking), an increase in military spending to $740.5 billion, and 13.3 percent increase to the VA mostly for veterans’ health care, some of it for the after affects of DDT-caused head injuries from rocket attacks. And of course, the wall would get another $2 billion.

Other cuts:

  • 9 percent cut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • 8 percent cut from the Education Department.
  • 21 percent cut from foreign aid.
  • 21 percent cut for the State Department and related international programs which includes the elimination of the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
  • 26.5 percent cut from the EPA.
  • 22 percent cut from the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • 37 percent cut from the Commerce Department.
  • 15 percent cut from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • 11 percent cut from the Labor Department.
  • 8 percent cut from the Energy Department.

The White House projects the economy will grow by an average of 3 percent a year if all of its proposals are adopted. The administration said real, or inflation-adjusted, gross domestic product would grow by 3.1 percent in 2021, up from its estimate of 2.8 percent this year. The administration forecast is considerably higher than the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that GDP will grow by 2.2 percent this year, 1.9 percent in 2021 and average 1.7 percent through 2030. White House forecast is based in part on the expectation the 2017 tax cuts, which would be extended in the budget plan, will spur business investment and economic growth.

DDT’s budget proposal nullifies a two-year deal negotiated with Congress last summer that raised both defense and domestic spending.

Two years ago, James Hohmann wrote a piece for Washington Post about DDT’s budget. Everything he said then holds true in 2020:

“[DDT] campaigned like a populist, but the budget he proposed Monday underscores the degree to which he’s governing as a plutocrat….

“’This is a messaging document,’ budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.”

These are the messages:

DDT campaigned on never cutting Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, but his budget proposes these cuts with block grants.

DDT campaigned on bringing back manufacturing jobs, but he’s slashing budgets for training and support of job loss. Last year, the auto industry alone lost 50,000 jobs.

DDT campaigned on a balanced budget and created almost $3 trillion in deficits in his first three years.

DDT keeps campaigning on strong GDP growth while it becomes weaker.

DDT campaigning on helping the low-income workers but passed tax cuts for the rich and big business that helps only the “haves.” His budget promotes human suffering.  

DDT wants to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, programs to prevent pollution, and eliminate any program that might stall climate change.

DDT campaigns on less government while increasing the part that he loves—military build-up. [In 2013, when former Defense Secretary was a Marine general leading Central Command, he told Congress, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Now DDT buys more ammunition.]

DDT continues his plan of privatization to destroy public lands through mining, grazing, etc. and increase private school vouchers for Christian schools while slashing the Education Department budget.

About his budget, DDT said:

“We’re doing a lot of things that are good, including waste and fraud. Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.”

Yes, he’s right. He’s doing “a lot of … waste and fraud. Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.”

An overview of DDT’s budget. 

February 10, 2020

Week 159: Beyond Impeachment

The impeachment trial, the outrageous speeches of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire have consumed most of the media. Yet DDT keeps wreaking havoc in other ways. 

The “peace plan” that Jared Kushner orchestrated for Israel without any Palestinian input is not going smoothly. In a spike of violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the contested West Bank that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to illegally annex, the fifth killing in the West Bank and Jerusalem since DDT tried to give Palestinian territory to Israel. Two Palestinians were killed during a protest against the Israeli’s demolition of a Palestinian house. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Jerusalem location which Jews call the Temple Mount.

A week ago, at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced to its members that Palestine would immediately cut ties with the U.S. Palestine Authority’s security forces have long joined Israel to police the occupied West Bank under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA which it is stopping at this time. [Right: Abbas shows the Arab League how Palestine has lost land in the last century.]

The Arab League foreign ministers said the U.S.-Israel plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace and the League will not support its implementation. It does not meet Palestinians’ minimum aspirations. The foreign ministers affirmed that peace requires a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and based on borders before Israel captured land in the 1967 Middle East War.

David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Israel cannot annex the West Bank without U.S. permission. He didn’t mention Palestinian’s rights to keep their land. Most of the world sees Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. Netanyahu has temporarily backed down, possibly endangering his chances for reelection on March 2.

DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani won’t go away: Iraqi officials are now saying that ISIS is responsible for the rocket attack that DDT used to justify the murder. Soleimani was fighting ISIS.

A former Air Force drone operator called the U.S. military “worse than Nazis” in the atrocities that they inflict in the Middle East. From a small room near Las Vegas, he remotely fired missiles over 7,000 miles way. He said his breaking point was killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors said was a “dog.” He quit the military and spoke against the drone program after directly killing 13 people while his squadron fired on 1,626 targets that included women and children. In his training, he was told to “kill people and break things.” Superiors kept him in line with punitive measures and mockery. He wants people to understand how the drone program dehumanizes the operators.

DDT has a plan for “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in an executive order requiring Greek and Roman architectural style for all federal buildings costing over $50 million in Washington and throughout the U.S.  His goal is supposedly to “inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Smithsonian-funded museums will escape the order. The “inspiration” comes from the “National Civic Art Society” that argues contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing.” All designs will be subject to White House approval.

For Architect of the Capitol, DDT nominated J. Brett Blanton, an engineer in airport operations and construction management who is not a licensed or practicing architect and was confirmed in mid-January by a voice vote on the day that the impeachment trial began. Blanton also served as a transportation engineer for the military. His first project will be overseeing the renewal project for the 111-year-old Beaux-Arts office building Cannon House Office Building (left), designed by architects for the New York Public Library and other early 19th-century buildings. Only one senator, Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared at Blanton’s hearing.

After DDT praised Super Bowl victors, the Kansas City Chiefs, for represented the “Great State of Kansas,” Fox & Friends hosts defended the geographically challenged man in the Oval Office despite the Chiefs’ location in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s not his first gaffe

  • At a UN luncheon with African leaders, he praised the health care in the non-existent country of Nambia.
  • He told his foreign policy advisers that Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, instead of separate countries. [He also called them Nipple and Button.]
  • He also doesn’t know that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.
  • When talking to Indian Prime Minister Narenra Modi, he said, “[I]t’s not as though you have China right on your border.” [The India-China border is 2521 miles.]
  • He announced that he is building a border wall in Colorado, 1,193 miles from the Mexico border.
  • He thinks that Belgium is a “beautiful city” instead of a country.
  • Paris is still in Germany instead of France, according to DDT.
  • In talking to people from the Baltic states, he thought he was talking to the Balkans. This explains the difference.
  • When DDT bombed Syria, he thought he was bombing Iraq.
  • Recently at Davos, he thought he was talking with a Syrian Kurd when he was having a conversation with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • He announced that his call from South Korea was from North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may keep a map without names for the countries to educate DDT. Pompeo used it after he lost his temper with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, walked out of his interview, and swore at her in private before he demanded she identify Ukraine on his unmarked map. She had no trouble complying because of her education, but Pompeo tried to make it appear as if she didn’t. DDT was delighted with Pompeo’s lying, rudeness, and swearing by calling it “impressive.” He added, “I think you did a good job on [the reporter].”

In retaliation against Kelly, Pompeo removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from his trip to Europe and said in an interview in Kazakhstan that revoking her press credentials for the trip sends “a perfect message about press freedoms” to the world. He added that the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are “telling the truth and being honest.” [Pompeo’s altercation was with Kelly, not Kelemen.] Despite his behavior, Pompeo said that journalists are allowed to ask him anything they want. Kelly’s brilliant response to the Pompeo debacle in a NYT op-ed explains the substance of the interview that got lost after Pompeo’s temper tantrum and how his personal attack on her is “not the point.”

On his tour, Pompeo ironically praised Kazakhstan for taking in refugees fleeing persecution and said:

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.” 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross likes the novel coronavirus sweeping China that has killed over 1,000 people And affected another 40,000+. He said:  

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

DDT told states and local officials that they could block refugees, Texas took him up on it, people got riled at the governor, and a judge told states they couldn’t block refugees. A Maryland U.S. District judge called DDT’s policy “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest. [It] flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.” Although 42 states and over 100 local governments agreed to acceptance refugees, seven states were thus far noncommittal. DDT already lowered the annual national refugee cap to 18,000, down from 110,000 in 2016.

DHS has put non-violent protesters who committed acts of civil disobedience on its “extremist” list of white supremacists and mass killers.

DDT’s Labor Department, run by the son of former Justice Antonin Scalia, has changed rules so that workers will have a harder time suing for wage theft and other violations.

DDT’s tariffs will hurt everyone in the nation. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduces the average family’s real income by $1,277 in 2020 by reducing the GDP level and raising consumer prices. The projection is over double that of last year’s $580 report.

On the campaign trail, DDT said, “If we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.” DDT had told farmer that they might have some “pain” from his trade wars, but he didn’t warn them about the eight-year high of farm bankruptcy rates that spiked 20 percent in 2019. Earlier in a campaign speech in Warren (MI), DDT declared that F-35 jets are literally invisible.

Another lie from the SOTU: Wooing black voters, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave a “scholarship” to fourth-grader Janiyah Davis to let her escape from a “failed government school.” She already attends one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after schools, Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, a public school.  Last year, she moved from a Christian school with tuition. Janiyah and her mother were invited to the SOTU after the principal in he former school was asked for names for youth who might want scholarships. No one checked to see where Janiyah attended school, explained why they were invited, or warned them that they would be in the spotlight. After the SOTU, Janiyah’s mother said:

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”

DDT was angry with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing tax credits for students in private religious schools.

February 9, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – ‘Vengeance Is Mine, Saith the Lord.’

On Thursday, self-appointed “lord,“ Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) began his retaliation for government officials who were not willing to lie for him. His frequently-used words “vicious” and “horrible” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) came in his vicious and horrible speech at the National Prayer Breakfast and his attacks on the religious beliefs of Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). DDT accused Romney of using “religion as a crutch” and called Pelosi a liar for saying that she prays. His GOP sycophants fed his ego for his ramblings that made the annual religious event into a partisan campaign meeting. DDT’s hateful comments followed Arthur Brooks’ keynote speech about loving one’s enemies and taking contempt out of one’s heart, just like Jesus. DDT disagrees with Jesus.

Later that day, he spread more vitriol from the White House and topped off his comments by threatening revenge. DDT repeated false conspiracy theories about Joe Biden’s non-existent corrupt dealings in Ukraine and then held up his own family, who are making a fortune off DDT’s position in the Oval Office, as perfection. “I’m really not a bad person,” DDT said defensively.

The GOP senators who said that he’s “learned his lesson” tried to protect Gordon Sondland, a big GOP donor. Running for reelection in 2020, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Martha McSally (AZ), and Thom Tillis (NC) asked DDT to let Sondland resign because they want his money this year; Ron Johnson (WI) echoed them to get donations for 2022. About the firing of Vindman, Tillis said that DDT “gets to set foreign policy.” Collins excused DDT for his purging of witnesses because that wasn’t part of her definition of “lesson.”

AG Bill Barr and GOP senators already announced their plans to investigate the Bidens. DDT’s Treasury Department, which is protecting his income tax returns, has turned over information to Senate Republicans on Hunter Biden with no subpoenas and “producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Treasury Department has violated the law by refusing to turn over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. A whistleblower has also claimed that officials protected DDT’s taxes from an audit. In the next big cover up, Barr announced all investigations of 2020 candidates require his clearance

According to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Face the Nation, DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is also looking for “dirt” on the Bidens that he is submitting directly to Barr. Graham’s interviewer, Margaret Brennan said that the channel between Giuliani and Barr sounds like a “taxpayer-funded research operation against Joe Biden” which was the basis of the impeachment probe.

In the Atlantic, McKay Coppins explains how DDT is spending $1 billion to spread disinformation and destroy faith in the media. Part of the disinformation will probably be DDT’s latest lie about his investigation into the Bidens. “I had to do it,” he claimed, because of a treaty between Ukraine and the U.S. that states nothing about “corruption” in Ukraine. DDT ignored 330,000 companies in Ukraine to focus on a political opponent.

Friday, DDT full-throatedly began his vengeance with the “Friday Night Massacre.” He fired:

  • National Security Council aid Alexander Vindman and had him walked off the White House grounds after Vindman testified under subpoena at a House Intelligence Committee hearing;
  • Vindman’s twin brother, also on the National Security Council, for—nothing;
  • Gordon Sondland, who also testified after subpoenas, after he paid $1 million to be appointed ambassador to the European Union.

At least one expert called the firing of both Vindmans and Sondland a “criminal action,” but GOP senators told DDT he can do anything he wants.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Fewer than half of the 18 people who testified in the impeachment inquiry—Michael Atkinson, Laura Cooper, Catherine Croft, David Hale, David Holmes, George Kent, Philip Reeker, and Mark Sandy—are still in their positions: Jennifer Williams has been moved out of the White House, and gone are Christopher Anderson, Fiona Hill, Michael McKinley, Tim Morrison, Bill Taylor, Marie Yovanovitch, and Kurt Volker, some of them retired rather than fired. People familiar with the whistleblower say the person is still doing his intelligence job for the CIA although people such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) are working hard to destroy him.

Firing is in the Washington air: VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fired his deputy secretary James Byrne. An independent investigation found that Wilkie personally looked for damaging information about a congressional aide because she said she was sexually assaulted in a VA hospital in an effort to discredit her. Wilkie is DDT’s fourth VA secretary.

DDT cheered after a federal appeals court rejected an emoluments lawsuit from over 200 Congressional Democrats. He’s not yet off the hook because the ruling didn’t address whether DDT’s business dealings are illegal. The D.C. Circuit Court ruled that the Democrats lacked legal standing, but they might proceed if a congressional chamber formally authorized the lawsuit.

A WaPo reporter has found more evidence of DDT’s profit-making off federal money by charging the Secret Service up to $650 per night lodging at his clubs, charges paid by taxpayers. At Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 per month for a three-bedroom on DDT’s property even when DDT wasn’t there. Average rental rate for comparable properties in the area is $3,400, and the highest noted is $8,500. Secret Service agents are exempt from per diem requirements. The $471,000 taxpayer payments to DDT’s companies come from only a fraction of DDT’s travel. While campaigning, DDT said he would have no time to travel if he were elected, but he has spent one-third of his time at his private cubs and hotels, always accompanied by the Secret Service. Past presidents—George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—did not charge for the Secret Service staying with them. Payments to DDT are not listed in public databases of federal spending, and the Secret Service is paying a great deal at DDT’s D.C. hotel although DDT has not stayed there since his inauguration.

Walter Shaub, former head of the U.S. Office of Government, has a chart of DDT’s conflicts of interest. Shaub warned that “this is just the start.”

DDT plans to destroy tribal cultural areas, rare rock art, 75 million-year-old dinosaur fossils, and natural landscapes by permitting mining, drilling, grazing, logging, road development, and off-road-vehicle use in Utah’s national monuments. Although cases are in the courts, the Interior Department plans to continue before the legal process is settled because I moves too slowly.

On January 31, DDT designated the entire Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency a “Security Agency” with the same secrecy as high intelligence agencies such as the FBI and Secret Service and the ability to hide records from the public. The new classification exempts “all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.” CBP now has spying powers of the recognized 18 intelligence agencies. Earlier the Office of Intelligence and Analysis had received the ability to reject any FOIA requests.

Last month, an active-duty U.S. soldier who was born in Iran and traveling as part of U.S. official duty was detained and harassed by border agents after having their telephone confiscated. The telephone still hasn’t been returned to the soldier. The action was taken as part of a CBP strategy to block U.S. citizens of Iranian heritage from returning to their homes after attending a concert in Vancouver, BC. Officials claimed they had no directive to detain Iranian Americans, but a leaked document from the Seattle Field Office ordered targeting Iranian Americans for secondary screening based on their country of origin.

A second court case has exonerated humanitarian aid volunteers who provide water and food in the southern Arizona desert. A U.S. District judge reverse the conviction of four people and permitted their religious freedom to prevail. Four months ago, Scott Warren was successful in his religious freedom defense after providing food, water, and clothing to men in the desert. The judge in the second case described the government defense of “deterrence by death” as “gruesome” and “unsupported by evidence” because it’s dependent on killing people as a deterrence.

The man elected as U.S. president has time to rage about photos of him, this one showing the line at the edge of his face because of the bronze goo he slathers on his skin. No, it’s not from Photoshopping as he claims, but he did think his hair looked “good.” 

February 8, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – End of Democracy in U.S.

The week started with Super Bowl LIV.  Anyone who doubts that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be suffering from dementia should watch this video as he kibitzes during the playing of the “Star Bangled Banner” kick off. On Fox & Friends, he had said that players who don’t stand “proudly for the national anthem … maybe … shouldn’t be in the country.”

Monday was the grand mess of the Iowa caucus, the first selection of delegates for the 2020 presidential conventions. Faulty coding and conservatives’ clogging the phone lines for reporting the results led to confusion about the “winner.” It also allowed conspiracy theorists, which include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to claim that the “Bernie blowout and a Biden crash” may be related to poll and caucus problems in Iowa. Graham’s reelection campaign has made him increasingly desperate.

Tuesday night was DDT’s annual State of the Union reality show when he gave his feature guest, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, designated for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The award, which was presented on California’s Rosa Parks Day, has been given to Parks, the Apollo 13 Crew, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as well as noted people in the arts, education, military, etc. This year, DDT gave it to his racist, misogynist friend. A few of Limbaugh’s more infamous comments: 

  • Mocking Michael J. Fox for shaking from Parkinsons disease.
  • Calling 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a “dog.”
  • Claiming that the way to stop HIV was “do not ask another man to bend over and make love at the exit point. That’s what you don’t do.”
  • Comparing the movement for marriage equality as a “movement on to normalize pedophilia.”
  • Calling President Obama “Barack the Magic Negro” and Michelle Obama “uppity.”
  • Supporting DDT in the birther movement.
  • Describing Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” because she campaigned to get free birth control for medical problems.
  • Declaring that ‘feminism was established so that unattractive ugly broads could have easy access to the mainstream.’”
  • Stating that “women mean yes when they say no.”

Of Limbaugh’s 42 statements checked by PolitiFact, 81 percent were lies. First Lady Melania Trump, who DDT lauded for her “Be Best” campaign to stop bullying, placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck.

As Republican columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote, David Duke may be DDT’s next choice for the “Medal of Freedom.” She also wrote that the true accomplishments that DDT touted actually belong to President Obama and the rest of his self-glorification were lies.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that the cult-like behavior of the Republican legislators at SOTU was like watching a North Korean military parade. When DDT entered, they chanted “four more years” just like at a campaign rally before “Make America Great Again.” DDT waited until a Friday rally to tell his audience to chant 12 more years or 16 more years instead of four years.

After the SOTU, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo tried to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) for tearing up DDT’s speech by comparing her to second-grader Lisa Simpson, on The Simpsons, ripping up a paper. He missed the context of the television program: Lisa had overheard a lobbyist bribing a congressional member for a corrupt act and talked about the “swamp” of Washington. The program on disillusionment from the realization of corruption was filmed in 1991. In the program, the corruption politician was arrested.

Wednesday was the day for DDT’s acquittal in his impeachment trial with only one GOP senator, Mitt Romney (UT), voting against even one of the two articles of impeachment. Almost one-third of the other GOP senators openly admitted that DDT “did something wrong” but claimed that he had “learned his lesson.” Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), up for reelection this year, thinks that DDT has learned “he needs to go through proper channels.” She claimed that Joe Biden might be immediately impeached if he were elected president but then tried to back down on her statement later. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) said:

 “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”  

Sen. Susan Collins (ME), extremely vulnerable in her reelection campaign, said she voted against witnesses and for DDT’s acquittal because DDT would be “much more cautious” but then backed down on her belief after she made those votes.  

The Senate impeachment trial culminating on Wednesday hit a new low in that chamber’s behavior and the pattern of trials in the United States. A comparison to DDT’s impeachment trial: Imagine that a person murdered someone you loved and there were witnesses to the killing. Before the trial, the killer meets with the jury to establish procedures for the trial to guarantee acquittal, and most of the jury, many of whom were paid by the killer, promised to acquit the murderer. The trial has opening arguments, closing arguments, and vote. No evidence, no witnesses, and no discussion of guilt. The jurors said that any witnesses or documents would make the trial last too long. Meanwhile the killer threatened jury members who voted against acquittal, and the defense attorneys, who were involvement in the killing, consistently lied in their arguments with no punishment. During the closing arguments, GOP jurors walked out of the proceedings, but they will still voted. This trial was worse than the Jim Crow trials in the South.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), one of the jurors who swore an oath to “do impartial justice,” continually bragged that he had “total coordination” with the White House and promised “no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.” For example, McConnell advised DDT’s legal team about which arguments they should make to persuade undecided senators. McConnell called DDT so that he could sign off on a resolution to make the Senate acquittal vote on Wednesday.

The Senate has given DDT the same power as the Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (“Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”) that gave the Chancellor Adolf Hitler the right to enact laws without the involvement of the German Reichstag, comparable to the U.S. Congress.

The DOJ admitted that they are blocking two dozen emails about withholding congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine until the Senate acquits Trump. Robert O’Brien, DDT’s fourth national security adviser in about three and a half years, is sticking with the “he didn’t withhold aid” argument. His inability to see evidence does not bode well for “national security.”

Romney isn’t the only GOP leader who believes that DDT abused his power. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said that DDT shouldn’t be in office. At the Fox network, once called “state TV” because of its overwhelming support for DDT, the research team warned colleagues to not trust some claims about Ukraine by its top commentators. The briefing book questioned credibility by “disinformation” deliverers such as John Solomon (a former opinion writer for The Hill), Rudy Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, and Joe diGenova and cited extensive examples of their falsehoods. These people frequently appeared on shows hosted by Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson. DiGenova disappeared from the channel after he falsely make the anti-Semitic statement that liberal billionaire George Soros “controls” the State Department. He and his wife Toensing never explained that they made $1 million from Dmytro Firtash, an indicted Ukrainian oligarch and accused high-level Russian mafia associate who is trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. Giuliani is using Firtash to get damaging information on the Bidens.

DDT may have been acquitted of holding up congressionally-approved funding for Ukraine after some GOP senators falsely claimed his innocence because he released the money, but he’s still withholding approval for $30 million of arms and ammunition from U.S. companies for Ukraine. One sale has been delayed for over a year, despite down payments from Ukraine, but officials can’t get any explanations from DDT. Ukrainian officials think the delays could come from the U.S. attempts to block China’s purchase of a strategic Ukrainian aerospace company that manufactures helicopter and airplane engines. Officials in the U.S. have ignored all requests from Ukraine for information.

Almost one-third of GOP senators who voted to acquit DDT were in Congress during Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial. Of them, only Susan Collins voted to acquit both men.

Senators representing 151.5 million people voted to acquit; senators representing 169.5 million people voted to convict. Once again, DDT lost the popular vote. Those voting to acquit represent only 44 percent of the U.S. population. Plus a majority of the U.S. public supported DDT’s impeachment and removal from office.

The rest of the week tomorrow!

February 5, 2020

Profiles in Courage

Only one Republican senator voted to convict Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in one of the two articles of impeachment, abuse of power. When Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) gave a speech on the floor of the Senate to explain his vote, only three Democrats and two Republicans, one of them there to preside over the Senate, were present. Yet the transcript and video of Romney’s have gone viral. DDT was so upset by both the vote and his speech that he disinvited reporters to join him in a meeting with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.

Mitt Romney’s speech about his vote against DDT:

The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days. We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case. In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgement of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.

The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgement convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office. To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.

The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself. While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime. Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit. There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president. Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize—to the extent possible—the partisan sentiments of the public.

This verdict is ours to render. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”

Yes, he did.

The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.

The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The President’s purpose was personal and political.

Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.

What he did was not “perfect”— No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts. Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.” I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind. I support a great deal of what the President has done. I have voted with him 80% of the time. But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office. The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgement of the American people. Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) denied that his vote to convict DDT was a “profile in courage,” but he is running for reelection this year in a very red state. He said, “It is simply a matter of right and wrong. Doing right is not a courageous act.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) explained her vote against DDT to the Arizona Republic:

“The facts are clear — security aid was withheld from Ukraine in an attempt to benefit the president’s political campaign. While White House attorneys claim this behavior is not serious, it is dangerous to the fundamental principles of American democracy to use the power of the federal government for personal or political gain.”

The irony of her statement is that at least ten GOP senators agree with her first sentence, but they still voted to acquit with a variety of justifications for DDT. One excuse will come back soon to bite them–that he’s learned his lesson. Proponents of this flawed argument include Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), John Boozman (AR), Mike Braun (IN), Sherry Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), John Cornyn (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), James Lankford (OK), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Rob Portman (OH), and others expressed concern about DDT’s actions.  [A few hours after her vote to acquit, Collins admitted she was probably wrong.] DDT has learned his lesson–that he can do anything and Republicans will cover for him. These senators, part of what Chief Justice John Roberts called “the greatest deliberative body in the world,” will go down in history with their profiles of cowardice. 

 

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