Nel's New Day

November 11, 2019

DDT’s Record about Veterans Belies Speech about Them

In a normal world, the United States would be honoring the veterans on the day set aside to commemorate their service, and the commander-in-chief would join in the appreciation for their service. We no longer have a “normal world”: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is sitting in the Oval Office.

DDT abused veterans even during his campaign. In January 2016, DDT boycotted a debate other GOP presidential candidates over a feud with Fox’s Megyn Kelly and held his own rally at the same time, ostensibly to raise money for veterans. According to DDT, it was wildly successful, and he claimed he got $6 million. He promised the money to 20 different groups, but a little less than half the money was donated to veterans’ charities, much of it directly from donors to the groups instead of funneled through DDT. The other $3 million apparently stayed with DDT. 

Almost four years later, a few days before Veterans Day, a judge in New York ordered DDT to pay $2 million for misuse of his “charitable” foundation after DDT admitted that his fundraiser for veterans was designed “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” according to Judge Saliann Scarpulla. DDT, however, issued a statement that he was not sorry or wrong after tweeting in June 2018, “I won’t settle this case!” DDT also confessed that he used the charity’s donated money to settle $100,000 in legal claims over an 80-foot flagpole at Mar-a-Lago, $158,000 to resolve a lawsuit over a contest at his golf course, $5,000 for ads promoting his hotels, and more money buying sports memorabilia and his portrait for his personal use. Eight organizations receiving DDT’s fine and the disbanded charity’s funds include Citymeals on Wheels, the United Negro College Fund, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The veterans are still missing their $3 million.

Any other president of the United States would have been pilloried for this fraud, especially targeting veterans. For DDT and his supporters, it’s just another day.

DDT is also trying to undermine the Uniform Code of Military Justice that details non-judicial punishment, Article 15. After Navy Chief Edward Gallagher was charged on ten criminal counts with fellow Navy SEALS as witnesses, DDT took up his cause, claiming that he should be exonerated. In the end, one witness changed his story after not being charged for a crime, and Gallagher lost his trial on one minor charge. For that, he was reduced in grade to E-1. Chief of Naval Operations has now reduced his grade but not his pay grade by keeping him a petty officer first class. In other cases which also either convicted or charged soldiers for violating the military’s rules of engagement and war crimes, DDT plans to “take action” for two convicted war criminals. He has been asked to disapprove findings in one case and dismiss the charges in the other. Any action from DDT will undermine the chain of command and the military justice system. Law-abiding veterans will be insulted if DDT dismisses charges, restores rank, and pardons war criminals.

During his campaign, DDT continued to denigrate honored veterans. He slammed then Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), repeatedly saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Gold Star family Khizr and Ghazala Khan were frequent objects of DDT’s attacks after Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic convention. Their son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, was killed in 2004 while he served in Iraq.

Two years ago, he called Myeshia, wife of U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson with condolences after Johnson was killed in an ambush in Niger following his being missing for 48 hours. Myeshia said that DDT didn’t even know her husband’s name.

Last year on Veterans Day, DDT traveled to France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. He was a no-show at a key ceremony because he didn’t want to go in the rain. He has visited the troops overseas only once in almost three years, finding it not “overly necessary,” according to his statement. After Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified to the House about DDT’s July 25 phone call to the Ukrainian president, DDT tried to smear Vindman and called him a “Never Trumper.”  

DDT promised to improve the VA, but he made decisions that hurt the agency. One of them was his vaunted whistleblower protection office that deliberately put whistleblowers at risk. The agency’s inspector general reported that the office not only outed whistleblowers but also kept poorly performing senior officials and didn’t investigate issues in an accurate or unbiased manner. DDT’s political appointments have scorned career employees, according to the report, and acted in ways that demonstrated a lack of respect for people they considered “career” whistleblowers.

In 2017, DDT put three of his Mar-a-Lago buddies as shadow rulers for the VA who threatened health care of veterans: a Palm Beach doctor who provides “concierge” medical care for the wealthy, the chair of Marvel Entertainment, and a lawyer. None of the three has ever served in the U.S. military or the government, and they operated in private with no transparency, accountability, or oversight. Taxpayers provided for the cost of officials’ travel to visit with the triumvirate at Mar-a-Lago. One of the beliefs of the “Mar-a-Lago crowd” was privatization of health care, known to be dangerous for veterans’ wellbeing. They were responsible for the appointment of David Shulkin as VA director and then told him what to do.

Once Shulkin was fired in 2018, DDT wanted to appoint Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, the military doctor who gave him the glowing report including the possibility that DDT could live to be 200 years old.  for another 200 years. Any appointment disappeared after allegations that Jackson provided an excessive amount of an opioid to a White House staff member, wrote himself prescriptions for the same medication, distributed the sleep aid Ambien to White House and media members on overseas trips followed by prescriptions for wakefulness, got drunk and “wrecked a government vehicle” after a Secret Service going away party, and demonstrated workplace misconduct. After investigations into his behavior, including an issue with VP Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, and her doctor, Jackson faded away. Now Jackson is back, thinking about a run for the U.S. House after DDT-supporter Texan Mac Thornberry declared it quits for the 2020 election.

Another DDT attack on veterans is to end the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP) that helps reunited Filipino veterans and their families while they wait for federal decisions about their visas. These elderly veterans from World War II need support from family members. Over 250,000 Filipino soldiers enlisted in the U.S. army, but fewer were permitted to move to the U.S. and become citizens. Despite their service and sacrifice in World War II, they lack full benefits afforded to military veterans and their families in the states. Japan occupied Manila after they attacked the Philippines on December 7, 1941. The U.S. and Filipino resistance lasted for months, and the Bataan Death March of 60,000-100,000 U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war, leading to death of thousands, was decried as a war crime. During Japan’s occupation of Japan for the entire war, the Philippines suffered almost 60,000 casualties.

Thus far this year, the U.S. House passed 56 bills for veterans, 25 of them bipartisan, after 32 hearings. These include VA mental health funding and suicide prevention, inequitable taxes on military families, and “expanded benefits for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not allowed any of these bills to move through the Senate.

Today, DDT went back to the state he rejected in favor of Florida and gave his first speech in New York City. He had wanted to be Grand Marshall for the Veterans Day parade there for almost 25 years, but that honor goes only to people who served in the military. This Veterans Day is the third one in which he did not follow the presidential tradition of going to Arlington Cemetery.

According to news reports, DDT put on his pretend-president hat and sounded presentable. He listed specific American military victories, recounted stories of individual veterans, and told Gold Star families that he will “stand by your side forever.” The event included a moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony honoring fallen soldiers.

DDT’s speech was not uneventful. Like sporting events that he attended, he was greeted with chants of “lock him up” and “impeach and remove.” Signs in the buildings surrounding him in Madison Square including “Convict” and “Impeach” in a Murdoch building. Several dozen people holding banners reading “Traitor, criminal, lock him up!”, “Sexist in chief” and “Impeach Trump” gathered close to Madison Square Park in downtown Manhattan ahead of his speech.

Now that DDT has had the attention he craves, he can continue to send soldiers into places around the world to protect other authoritarians and create more disabled veterans.

November 10, 2019

Open Impeachment Inquiry Hearings: Follow the Money

Despite frantic tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and vehement denials from GOP lawmakers, the impeachment inquiry proceedings move forward this week with televised hearings. The focus will be on “three interrelated lines of inquiry“:

Did DDT ask a foreign leader for investigations to help his personal political interests, including an investigation into DDT’s political rival and possible opponent in the 2020 election?

Did DDT use the Office of the President to pressure Ukraine for his own personal political interests, including leveraging a White House meeting with Ukraine’s president or withholding U.S. military aid?

Did DDT and his administration try to hide information from Congress and the U.S. people about DDT’s actions and behavior, thus seeking to obstruct, suppress, or cover up information?

In closed-door hearings, GOP representatives tried to avoid these inquiries, for example asking about Marie Yovanovitch’s national heritage. (Her father fled the Soviet Union and then the Nazis; her mother grew up “stateless” in Germany. They moved to the United States when Marie was three.) Other questions tried to whitewash evidence from the Mueller investigation, and one member asked Yovanovitch whether her staff “monitored” the social media account of an alt-right conspiracy theorist who accused a pizzeria as being the site of a fictional Democratic pedophile ring. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), former chair of the Intelligence Committee who leaked information to the White House, questioned the origins of the FBI Russia investigation and pushed accusations of bias in the DOJ.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave GOP Intelligence Committee members inquiry parameters for witnesses, but Republicans want to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter by calling them as witnesses. Other GOP witness requests were for Hunter Biden’s business partner Devon Archer; the unnamed whistleblower who DDT and GOP lawmakers are determined to out; the researcher Nellie Ohr of Fusion GPS which commissioned a dossier about Russia and Trump; and Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian American who worked with the Democratic National Committee. Schiff said that Democrats would evaluate the GOP requests for witnesses but added:

“[The inquiry] will not serve … as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the President pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal political benefit, or to facilitate the President’s effort to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm.”

DDT announced that he will release a “transcript” of an April call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, perhaps hoping that it will wipe out the damaging July 25 extortion call. The public and Congress still have no access to the complete transcript of the July 25 call.

Republicans focused their defense of DDT’s extortion by claiming that former VP Joe Biden secured Hunter Biden’s position on a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, during Joe Biden’s time in the executive branch. Hunter worked for Burisma from 2014 to 2019, sometimes earning as much as $50,000 a month, but extensive investigations found no relationship between Hunter’s job and Joe’s influence. Other attacks on Joe Biden without evidence come from far-right conspiracy theorists evolving from attempts by DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to get a corruption inquiry dropped for an associate of Russian organized crime.

Giuliani’s and DDT’s corruption with Ukraine have business purposes indicated by their connection with Lev Parnas, arrested for campaign finance violation and planning to testify before the House. Businessmen used their connections with Giuliani and DDT, hoping to install new board members on Ukraine’s state gas company, Naftogaz, and get lucrative contracts. Part of the scheme, recently resigned Energy Secretary Rick Perry, had proposed a donor as a board member but refused to testify before the House. Sources claim Perry asked DDT to make his July 25 call to Zelensky and represented the U.S. at Zelensky’s inauguration while DDT was still extorting the new Ukrainian president. Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani.

A loud voice pushing the lie that Joe Biden’s position benefited Hunter came from Donald Trump Jr. On Sean Hannity’s Fox show to tout his new book, Triggered, DDT’s namesake said:

“I wish my name was Hunter Biden. I could go abroad, make millions off of my father’s presidency. I’d be a really rich guy.”  

Supposedly in charge of the Trump Organization, Trump Jr. has repeatedly leveraged political connections for business deals—selling condos in India for a Trump-branded property and fighting to save a Trump property by asking the president of Panama to intervene for him. Taxpayers paid for his travel. China gave a large number of trademarks to Ivanka Trump, who receives about $4 million each year from the DDT-promoted hotel chain, and her husband, Jared Kushner, has sold over $100 million worth of Trump Organization property since DDT’s election.

DDT’s son, Eric Trump, said, “When my father became commander in chief of this country, we got out of all international business, right?” Unbelievably wrong as this article shows. Eric also whined about Hunter’s advantages that are actually those of Eric:

“Money grows on trees, there are no rules, and the press will always cover for you ….”

Trumps’ views on nepotism:

“I like nepotism. I think, you know, a lot of people say, ‘Oh, nepotism.’ Usually these are people without children. But I like nepotism.”–DDT

Nepotism is “kind of a factor of life” and a “beautiful thing.”—Eric Trump

As for DDT’s newly-discovered concern for corruption, he, along with Ivanka, participated in a hotel development deal in Azerbaijan, which ranks 152nd out of 180 on Transparency International’s index of the world’s most corrupt countries. The Trumps partnered with the son of the country’s then-transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, described in a U.S. diplomatic cable as “notoriously corrupt, even for Azerbaijan.” The Mammadov family has been connected to a corrupt scheme involving operatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. In Brazil, Trump partnered with Paulo Figueiredo, later arrested for his part in diverting pension funds into real estate developments, including the one with DDT. Just a bit of DDT’s corruption.

In a GOP strategy for impeachment inquiry hearings, House Minority Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) transferred Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to the Intelligence Committee because of Jordan’s aggressive questioning. Jordan faces possible lawsuits about at least eight ex-OSU wrestlers asserting that he ignored sexual abuse reports while Jordan was an assistant coach at Ohio State University from 1987 to 1995. A male student said Jordan shrugged when he told Jordan about sexual abuse by school doctor Richard Strauss. A recent witness said that Jordan “snickered” when he told Jordan about the abuse. Jordan replied, “I have nothing to do with this” before walking away. Originally, Jordan said he knew nothing about the abuse and then shifted to claim that “conversations in a locker room” aren’t the same. The head coach who Jordan worked for apparently knew about the claims. Defending Jordan, DDT and GOP lawmakers followed their pattern of supporting sexual abusers and their enablers unless they are registered Democrats.  

Strauss was accused of sexually abusing almost 300 men during a 17-year period. Ohio State knows of 1,429 cases of fondling and 47 cases of rape by Strauss, who killed himself in 2005. The most recent lawsuit is the 13th against the school, and an attorney said that this information “barely scratches the surface.”

Republicans are caught in a bind of bribery and blackmail. DDT will campaign against anyone who doesn’t support his every action, and he has promised to give money to senators who don’t appear to be 100-percent behind him. Those who face a tight election and sign a resolution condemning the inquiry as “unprecedented and undemocratic” may receive campaign funds; those who have offended him get nothing.

GOP senators benefiting from DDT’s largesse are Cory Gardner (CO), Joni Ernst (IA), David Perdue (GA) and Thom Tillis (NC). DDT also plans to appear at a reception for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s PAC. Receiving no money, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) not only didn’t sign the resolution but also called for a retraction of his tweet comparing impeachment and “lynching” and said that DDT made a “big mistake” asking China to investigate the Bidens. Martha McSally (AZ) was also overlooked in DDT’s gifts because she won’t use WinRed, the DDT-endorsed online fundraising site.

For the 2020 election, 22 Republican senatorial seats are up for election, and the GOP senators on the ballot are behind in fundraising. In the first ten months of the 116th Congress, Jonny Isakson (GA), Mike Enzi (WY), Pat Roberts (KS), and Lamar Alexander (TN) announced that they won’t run for re-election in 2020. About DDT’s donations to some of the GOP senators, Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer, tweeted:

“Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. But he can get away with it? Criminal.”

DDT and GOP lawmakers sent out a hue and cry for public hearings—until they were announced. Now Republicans use the same decibel level to decry the public hearings that start this week. Follow the money.

November 9, 2019

DDT: Week 146 – Disaster

Last week was miserable for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The transcripts from witnesses for the Impeachment inquiry consistently contradicted him, but the statement from Fiona Hill, who served until July as the White House’s top expert on Russia and Europe, may have been the most devastating. She testified, “We found disparaging remarks made by pretty much every world leader and official at different points about the President.”

DDT’s level of confusion may be rapidly increasing. On 11/9 (today) he retweeted a tweet from John Bolton about 9/11 that begins “as we reflect this week on the horrific 9/11 attack ….”

After being booed at a World Series game, DDT had the same experience last Saturday when he attended the main fight of the mixed martial arts UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden. Tonight he got mostly cheers in the Deep South at the football showdown between Louisiana State and Alabama.

A few weeks ago, Shep Smith left Fox; this past week Catherine Herridge, chief intelligence correspondent abandoned her 23-year career at Fox for a move to CBS. Her reason:

“CBS News has always placed a premium on enterprise journalism and powerful investigations. I feel privileged to join a team where facts and storytelling will always matter.”

Yesterday, DDT went to Atlanta to help launch Black Voice for Trump, the grassroots’ attempt to increase the black vote for him in 2020. He has a ways to go after he got 8 percent of the black vote in 2016 and now polls at 7 percent approval rating among blacks. [Left: two of the few hundred people who turned out for his speech.]

The Pentagon said that DDT doesn’t have the right to take oil revenue out of Syria, but it’s still claiming its authority over the oil fields. Officials declared U.S. military authority over the oil fields by saying that they would shoot any Representative of the Syrian government who tries to retake control of their fossil fuel resources. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has already said that the U.S. will decide what to do with the oil “in the future.”

A New York judge ordered DDT to pay $2 million out of his own pocket to nonprofit organizations in a civil lawsuit resolving DDT’s bogus fundraiser for veterans as part of his 2016 campaign. The lawsuit filed by the state’s AG accused DDT and his children Donald Jr, Eric, and Ivanka of repeatedly using charitable donations for personal, political and business gains including legal settlements and campaign. DDT, who said he would never settle the lawsuit, settled by admitting his wrongdoing. Other parts of the settlement subject DDT to ongoing supervision by the New York AG and compulsory training for his children to guarantee that their illegal activity “never takes place again.”

Another woman has filed a lawsuit against DDT: E. Jean Carroll who is a prominent writer, media figure, and advice columnist. When the accusation first became public, DDT said that she is a “liar” and not his “type.” The suit is for his lying that “inflicted emotional pain and suffering, they damaged her reputation, and they caused substantial professional harm.” Carroll explained that she can’t hold DDT accountable for his sexual assault but she “can hold him accountable for lying about it.”

A similar case against DDT by Summer Zervos has a deadline of December 6 for depositions. DDT may have to answer questions under oath. 

DDT has lost other court cases in the past week or two:

In a unanimous decision from a three-judge panel, the 2nd Circuit Court ordered DDT’s tax returns to be turned over to a state grand jury. The panel also rejected the argument that DDT is immune from criminal investigation (aka above the law). DDT plans to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Usually, the few cases that SCOTUS takes come from disagreement among courts. In this case, four judges have adamantly ruled against DDT, making the move to SCOTUS questionable.

A federal judge in Oregon temporarily blocked DDT’s requirement that immigrants prove they have U.S. health insurance within 30 days of arrival or enough money for “reasonably foreseeable medical costs.” The restraining order is for 28 days. Immigrants without insurance used under 0.1 percent of U.S. medical expenditures in 2017. 

Using the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal judge voided DDT’s rule allowing health-care provides to refuse any health care that they opposed on religious or moral grounds after over 20 states, municipalities, and health advocacy groups filed a lawsuit. One part of the lawsuit was that the rule disproportionately harmed specifically groups of patients such as Q patients. DDT’s rule could have allowed medical “professionals” to deny a wide variety of procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, gender-affirming surgeries, or assisted suicide and even refuse referrals if they chose not to perform these procedures.

A second federal judge, this one in Spokane, blocked the same “religious beliefs” rule a day later. DDT’s rule would also cut federal health funding to employers and states if DDT believed they were not following health care workers’ beliefs.  

Another federal judge ruled the government must provide mental health services to thousands of migrant parents and children who experienced psychological harm because of DDT’s separation of families. Hundreds of these separations still occur. Counseling and other services are mandated to compensate for the families’ trauma. The ruling referred to federal decisions that governments can be held liable when they place people in dangerous situations with “deliberate indifference.”

Thanks to a court decision, DDT extended Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from six countries through early 2021. Migrants running from natural disasters have lived in the U.S. without controversy for up to two decades, but DDT’s aide Stephen Miller prioritized an attack on TPS.  

In a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of the District of Columbia said that DDT’s rhetoric “violates all recognized democratic norms.” He explained:

“We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.”

Friedman talked about Thomas Jefferson, who tried to make federal judges’ seats elected positions, and Dwight Eisenhower, who called the appointment of Earl Warren as the Supreme Court’s chief justice one of his biggest mistakes. No other man sitting in the Oval Office, however, has attacked the judiciary in the same way that DDT does, using incivility and political scorn, according to Friedman. He finished by saying, “Unlike the other two branches of government, the courts are charged with making decisions grounded in facts, never on alternative facts.” Friedman is a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute.

Russia picked DDT for U.S. president and interfered in the election to win him the White House, according to Tamir Pardoto, the former chief of Israeli intelligence Mossad.

DDT’s businesses continue their decline, in tandem with his reputation. He keeps getting paid for GOP fundraisers and by foreign leaders, but the figures shrink. Profits at his Chicago hotel fell 89 percent between 2015 to 2018, $16.7 million to $1.8 million, while other Chicago hotels stayed steady or increased their profits. In 2018, a small-time investor defined DDT’s effect on his buildings: “Then the Embarrassment Came.” Even Trump Organization’s lawyers admit that DDT’s hotel is suffering from “political backlash.” DDT’s solution in Chicago is to cut costs such as cheaper housekeeping products and leaving jobs open. The one surefire profit for his properties, however, comes from his over 200 visits in less than three years, money to DDT paid by taxpayers. He faces other losses, for example the vacant street level floor at New York’s Trump Towers and the losses of contracts to manage three hotels.

At a Halloween party for children in the White House on October 25, DDT worked to brainwash his young guests by persuading them to build a construction paper wall by writing their names on brick-colored paper cards and tape them to the wall. Next to the wall were signs with the Ku Klux Klan and pro-Nazi saying, “America First.” In 2017’s Halloween party, DDT repeatedly made derogatory comments about their journalist parents. 

Update on Kentucky’s GOP idea of stealing the governor’s seat:  an increasing number of Republican lawmakers are asking Gov. Matt Bevin to give evidence of the alleged voting “irregularities” or concede the election to Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear, who defeated Bevin by 5,189 votes. The GOP House Speaker said the House won’t have anything to do with the election unless Bevin files a complaint.

Although 88 percent of Republicans think that a president can be impeached for enriching himself, only 22 percent think that using presidential power to force foreign countries to investigate a political rival is impeachable. And 65 percent of Republicans think that presidents do that “all the time.” It’s the new normal for the GOP.

November 7, 2019

GOP Impeachment Strategy: Lies, Smears

News about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)’s impeachment inquiry keeps dribbling out:

The Government Accountability Office is investigating DDT for possible law violation by withholding Ukraine aid with no supporting policy. In a legal review, the Pentagon concluded that congressionally approved funds must be released and expressed concern that the aid would expire last September 30 if not released.

DDT wanted Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to support DDT’s conspiracy theory by linking that false belief in Ukrainian interference for the 2016 U.S. elections with the word “Clinton,” according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent. Gordon Sondland had told Tim Morrison about DDT’s wishes. More testimony from Kent from this transcript: 

Rudy Giuliani, DDT’s personal lawyer, orchestrated a “campaign of lies” against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, with “assertions and allegations … without basis.”

Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, may have lied about Ukraine-related discussions he had with DDT. Fiona Hill, the top Russia expert on the National Security Council, told Kent about her concerns that Sondland “made assertions about conversations that did not match with what had actually been said.”

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, wielded power over Ukraine policy and controlled the military aid designated for Ukraine. “[Mulvaney] put a hold on all security assistance to the Ukraine,” Kent testified.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Kent’s boss, failed to back up Yovanovitch and lied about investigators trying to “bully” diplomats into testifying.

After Zelensky’s aides decided that they had to take sides in U.S. politics to get the vital military aid against Russian aggression, Ukraine was saved by leaks about the freeze on military aid and DDT’s extortionist July 25 phone call. Zelensky’s speech to agree with DDT’s demands was scheduled for September 13 on CNN after the news broke.

In an exploration of what VP Mike Pence knew about the scandal, his aid Jennifer Williams, testified about the July 25 call, which she heard. She said it was political in nature and didn’t understand why the military aid was not being released. She did believe that it might be tied to an investigation into the Bidens. Her notes from the call went into Pence’s folder.

Pompeo has worked hard to stay out of the limelight, but witnesses are moving the Klieg lights toward him about his mistreatment of his staff in favor of pleasing DDT. His three taxpayer-supported trips to Kansas recently indicate he might bail out from DDT’s administration; a Senate seat is open.

AG Bill Barr finally refused to do something that DDT wants: Barr won’t hold a press conference to declare that DDT broke no laws during his phone call with Zelensky.  The DOJ is even distancing itself from DDT, saying that it won’t endorse the withholding of military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an its investigation into the Bidens. Barr has also separated himself from Giuliani.

During today’s Roger Stone trial, jurors heard tapes of his lying under oath to the House about his involvement with hacking by Wikileaks and communication with a former radio host and comedian, supported by texts and emails from Stone. Charged with making false statements to the committee and committing obstruction of justice and witness tampering, Stone also lied about talking with DDT. One text to the comedian, who denied Stone’s claim that he was the intermediary with Wikileaks, from Stone read, “Prepare to die … You are a rat.”

Giuliani admitted DDT’s extortion in a tweet that was followed by his conspiracy theories about the Bidens:

“The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion and corruption, was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges, that kept changing as one after another were disproven.”

The same Republicans who expressed fury about closed House hearings now say that they won’t be watching the open hearings in the coming weeks—too busy, at their day jobs, hearings are “political,” etc. This video shows Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) excuse for his demanding impeachment in Bill Clinton’s refusal to submit subpoenas and exonerating DDT for the same action. Hint: it doesn’t hold water. Also, the highly incensed Republicans crying “unfair” about closed hearings aren’t bothering to attend them even if they can. Those who do, spend their time asking unrelated questions, complaining about the process, and planting information about the whistleblower. For Sondland’s testimony, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-1.

Republicans may have difficulty spinning these acts:

DDT suspended the military aid himself by ordering Mulvaney to tell budget officials that the funds were frozen, perhaps permanently—one week before his phone call extorting Zelensky. Officials were told not to tell members of Congress about the frozen aid.

Giuliani publicly confirmed the whole plot at DDT’s direction and to personally benefit DDT. Giuliani said, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”

Those texts explain of Sondland’s confession that he directly informed a top aide to Zelensky that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” That was DDT’s demand of a public statement from Zelensky exonerating Russia of electoral sabotage and falsely implicating in corruption.

Pence directly delivered the message about suspended aid to Ukraine and told him he needed to do more to fight “corruption” on top of demands by Sondland and Giuliani.

Former Florida AG Pam Bondi has been added to DDT’s impeachment team after it dumped former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). She will have “special government employee” status, meaning that, as a part-time employee, she won’t have to meet the regular ethics rules and continue her outside work. The ethics deal helps Bondi because she has a checkered career. Six years ago, DDT’s now defunct charitable foundation, legally prohibited from donating to political campaigns, paid her $25,000 immediately before Bondi dropped investigation of solid allegations against the “Trump University.” This morning, Bondi called Jared Kushner “one of the smartest human beings” she’s ever met.

DDT claims that he’s done nothing wrong, but he refuses to turn over Bill Taylor’s notes to the House, blocks as many people as possible from complying with legal subpoenas, and conducts a “witch hunt” to find the whistleblower reporting his phone call with Zelensky. 

One of DDT’s recent strategies to distract people from his crimes and impeachable offenses is a concerted effort to out the whistleblower who alerted everyone to the July 25 phone call. After making demands on the media to follow this order, his sycophants comply with possibly legal violations of a law to keep whistleblowers’ identities confidential, preventing retaliation. Conservative press, however, named a person, and Donald Jr. retweeted the name from Breitbart News. Jack Prosobiec, responsible for publicizing the conspiracy theory of Pizzagate about Democrats involved in a child sex abuse ring leading to a shooting in a restaurant, originally came out with this name for the whistleblower that he said “sounds like” the person.  

By Monday’s campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin with DDT, fellow Kentuckian and GOP Sen. Rand Paul violated the Hatch Act and then demanded the release of the whistleblower’s name, a violation of another law. Yesterday, Paul blocked a resolution to protect whistleblowers although Libertarian Paul supposedly fights for privacy. The identity of the person—even the person’s testimony—has lost all relevance after the number of witnesses appearing in House hearings, but it’s a diversion.

Next week, open House hearings for the impeach inquiry, called a “partisan clown show” by DDT, open with Bill Taylor, who testified about two different quid pro quos from DDT and his abuse of Marie Yovanovitch. Testimony will include highlights of how Giuliani is in charge of foreign policy regarding Ukraine. In his earlier testimony, Taylor also said that getting the military aid released was difficult because of “the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy in the NSC.” Taylor said that a meeting with DDT was “hard to schedule.”

DDT claims that he’s done nothing wrong, but he refuses to turn over Bill Taylor’s notes to the House, blocks as many people as possible from complying with legal subpoenas, and conducts a “witch hunt” to find the whistleblower reporting his phone call with Zelensky. DDT tries to hide everything he does.

The one success DDT can claim is pleasing Russia. Showing the fiasco of the lying to defend Republicans, a Russian commentator said that DDT is “making Russia great.” She continued:

“The chaos brought by Trump into the American system of government is weakening the United States. America is getting weaker and now Russia is taking its place in the Middle East. Suddenly, Russia is starting to seriously penetrate Africa… So when they say that Trump is weakening the United States—yes, he is. And that’s why we love him… The more problems they have, the better it is for us.”

Russia predicts another win for DDT in 2020. DDT is giving Vladimir Putin everything he wants and more.

November 6, 2019

GOP Votes Shrinking

Yesterday was Election Day across the United States, mostly in small sections of different states. One state, however, elected state officials, another one chose its entire upcoming legislature, and a third picked both. The results are making some Republicans nervous.

 Mississippi:

The election of a Republican governor and state legislature majority here was pretty much a given. But with the current governor term-limited out, GOP Tate Reeves won his gubernatorial race by only seven points, far less than the 17-point win for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in 2016. Democrats get about one-third of the seats in the state Senate and did a bit better in the state House with approximately 40 percent. Luckily for Reeves got the at least 62 of the 122 House districts mandated for him to win. Considering the polls that supported his opponent for almost the entire past year, Reeves was lucky to win the majority vote, but a loss wouldn’t have given governor to his Democratic opponent. 

“The Mississippi Plan,” put in the state’s 1890 constitution, was “to secure to the State of Mississippi ‘white supremacy,’ ” according to the journal of the proceedings. Blacks, who tend to vote Democratic, are about 38 percent of Mississippi’s population, but the state has not had one black statewide office holder since 1890. Four blacks are suing Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn and Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman to have the requirement changed. Gunn and Hoseman want the case dismissed but wrote: “Neither the speaker nor the secretary wish to defend the motivations behind a law allegedly enacted with racial animus.” The Mississippi Republican Party doesn’t oppose removing the elections requirements from the constitution but called Eric Holder’s interest in the case a “continuation of national Democrats’ attempts to delegitimize elections they do not win.”

Virginia:

A huge turnout in Virginia flipped their General Assembly from red to blue for the first time in 26 years, largely with Democratic support in the suburbs. Democrats took at least five additional seats in the House of Delegates and two in the state Senate, including one Democratic woman who lost in the last election in a tie. This legislature will establish the new voting districts after the 2020 U.S. census. Both U.S. senators, a majority of U.S. House representatives, and all three statewide office holders are Democrats.

When DDT took office, Republicans held a 66-34 majority in the General Assembly. As of yesterday’s election, Democrats hold a 55-45 majority, and DDT’s approval rating in the state is below 30 percent. Republican incumbents tried to separate themselves from DDT and be more moderate about guns and expanding Medicaid after their former radical-right votes in the past. House Speaker Kirk Cox was re-elected but gives up his position after only two years. He refused to answer questions about the GOP loss. Later he issued a statement promising to work with Democrats “where we can” and to block them from overreaching. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, back again but without his leadership position, warned of Democrats’ “extreme agenda” and pledged to “fight it at every turn.” Tim Hugo, the last GOP legislator in the Northern Virginia suburbs thought he could keep his place by concentrating on local issues such as potholes. Although No 3 in the House GOP leadership, Hugo avoided the word “Republican” on both his campaign website and at voter forums. He still lost the district by seven points, a district that was solidly GOP six years ago.

Top issues for the Virginia election were gun safety, women’s rights, and clean energy. Gun laws came into play after the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach that killed twelve people. Gov. Ralph Northam had called a special legislative session in July for gun safety measures, but Republicans adjourned after 90 minutes with no debates on any of the 30 filed bills. In Virginia, home of the NRA, over 20 percent of gun sales have no background check, making the state a pipeline for illegal gun trafficking along the East Coast. Last summer, a poll found that gun policy was the top issue for 75 percent of respondents. In 2018, pro-gun safety Democrats won in suburban districts across the United States.

A June court decision required district remapping in southeastern Virginia where districts were gerrymandered. About 425,000 voters in 25 districts were moved to more evenly distribute black voters.

The woman fired for a photo of her flipping a bird at DDT’s motorcade was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors over a GOP incumbent. DDT has a golf course in that county.

Kentucky:

At a rally in Kentucky for the GOP gubernatorial candidate on the night before the election, DDT said, “If you lose, they will say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me.” Andy Beshear, the Democratic candidate for governor, beat incumbent Matt Bevin by over 5,000 votes in this state that DDT won by 30 points in 2016. Beshear said last night that he expects Bevin will “honor the election that was held tonight.” He’s wrong. Bevin refuses to concede the election because of voting “irregularities,” although he didn’t cite any,

Because Kentucky has no provision for an automatic recount, Bevin’s campaign announced today it will attempt a “recanvassing” to ensure that all machines accurately calculated vote totals and transferred them to the state. In 2015, James Comer, Bevin’s opponent in the GOP primary, requested a recanvass of the contest that Bevin won by 83 votes with no change in vote totals. Although canvasses are commonly requested in close Kentucky races, they have never produced a different election outcome and rarely produce a different vote total. Between 2000 and 2015, only three of 27 nationwide recounts changed the result on Election Day.

Bevin can get a recount only by filing a contest of the election and then paying for it. And the state doesn’t make recounts easy to do. Republicans are so desperate to keep Bevin as governor that state Senate leader Robert Stivers claimed that the state lawmakers, with a majority of Republicans, would determine the winner, a process not used to settle an election since 1899. Last night, Stivers said that Bevin would have won if Libertarian candidate John Hicks had not received 1.97 percent of the vote.

The first step in the GOP’s attempt to overturn the election cannot start until after a recanvassing and certification of the results by the State Board of Elections. Bevin then has 30 days to contest these results although he would need specific reasons, i.e., campaign finance rules violation or methods of casting ballots. Following that, Stivers would call a special session in which lawmakers would assign an 11-person panel to hear arguments and give a verdict. The contest for the results would also start a recount. The full legislature would evaluate the panel’s decision; both Houses of the General Assembly would have to determine the outcome.

On the campaign trail, DDT promised to increase coal jobs, but instead they’re disappearing. Almost 6,600 Kentuckians work in coal, down about 80 percent in three decades. In 2019, five big mining companies declared bankruptcy, threatening the United Mine Workers of America pension fund, which supports over 100,000 retired miners and fully vested workers. Kentucky’s GOP senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has stalled on protection of the pension until today. In one county, 41 percent of the population live in poverty, over three times the national average, and the state is almost 20 percent, ranking fourth in the nation. The number of votes for Bevin shrank from four years ago when he won by almost nine points. The state had expected about a 30-percent voter turnout the same as four years ago; instead it was over 42 percent.

Bevin has many reasons to lose his seat. Many people lost health care with Bevin’s work requirements when he defended his personal policy by suing his constituents. He wanted to cut taxes, like the failed program in Kansas; make taxes regressive; and weaken public education. Early actions were to cost the state $23 million by dismantling “kynect,” the Medicaid provision in the state, and cut Medicaid dental and vision coverage for up to 460,000 people in Kentucky. Bevin blames school shootings on video games and accused teachers of children being sexually assaulted, physically harmed, or exposed to poison and drugs when educators were on strike. Teacher salaries and spending per pupil are down about 6 percent, adjusted for inflation, since the 2008 recession. When Bevin took health care and education away from people in Kentucky, he called them “socialism.

In addition to criticizing his social and fiscal policies, many Kentuckians consider Bevin a “jerk.” In a visit a chess club at a majority-black and -Latino school in West Louisville, he said that chess was “not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town.” While opposing a mandatory vaccine program, Bevin bragged about taking his children to a chickenpox party.

Signs were not good for Bevin throughout his campaign. Only about 200 people turned out for the Bevin event last August at the Appalachian Wireless Arena with a capacity of 7,000. In a county that DDT took by 80 percent. At a rally where Donald Trump Jr. was a speaker. [visual Bevin] 

More election news from across the United States.

November 5, 2019

Impeachment Evidence Piles Up

Congressional testimony is creating a disastrous picture of extortion by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as four transcripts have been released and Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, reversed earlier testimony to admit the existence of a quid pro quo. He now admits that he told one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s advisers that “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” Earlier, Sondland had said that the only quid pro quo was Zelensky’s invitation to the White House. Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, had testified that Sondland warned Zelensky aide Andrey Yermak that the security assistance “would not come” unless Zelensky openly promised an investigation into Burisma, an energy company where Hunter Biden had held a board position.

Today, Congress released transcripts from Sondland and Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine. Parts of these transcripts:

Sondland: He suggested that the quid pro quo “doesn’t sound good” and is probably illegal. His original statement claimed that he didn’t know in May that the Giuliani’s attempt for Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden although the media widely announced this at that time.

Volker: Undercutting Sondland’s testimony, Volker said Giuliani pushed “debunked” conspiracy theories, that Giuliani’s intent was for quid pro quo, including an investigation into the Bidens, was obvious. Giuliani gave DDT the idea that Ukraine was out to get him, according to Volker’s conversation with DDT who told Volker to talk to Giuliani. And Giuliani has announced that he works for DDT who is directing the Ukraine operation. Volker also testified that he sent a Ukrainian official DDT’s script for Zelensky to read, a statement that included an investigation into the energy company that employed Hunter Biden and a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s interfering in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Volker said:

“I agreed with the Ukrainians they shouldn’t [issue a statement mentioning the Bidens and 2016], and in fact told them just drop it, wait till you have your own prosecutor general in place.”

Before the release of the transcript, Republicans claimed that his testimony was good for DDT. The transcripts don’t show anything positive for the GOP and DDT’s argument. Transcripts from both men indicate that they believe DDT wants the investigations into the Bidens for only his personal benefit.

The first two transcripts from the impeachment inquiry emerged yesterday, testimonies of former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former Michael McKinley, former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Yovanovitch: DDT forced her out of her job in May and called her “bad news” during his July 25 phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky. She also she felt threatened by DDT’s comments that “[Yovanovitch is] going to go through some things” and was warned about “nervousness” in the White House endangered her “security.” She also reported concerns expressed by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov about the danger of Ukraine being forced into U.S. domestic politics. (Ukrainian defense official Oleksandr Danyliuk expressed concern to Yovanovitch’s replacement, William B. Taylor, about Zelensky being used as a “pawn” for Trump’s reelection campaign, according to Taylor’s testimony.) Yovanovitch said Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland urged her to tweet her support for DDT to help save her job. https://thehill.com/homenews/house/468910-five-takeaways-from-the-first-trump-impeachment-deposition-transcripts   She expressed concern and confusion about DDT’s private secretary Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and the unfounded involvement of Ukraine in the U.S. 2016 election interference.  

Yovanovitch also testified that two people from Florida, Lev Parnas and Ignore Fruman, wanted her removed as ambassador for their personal business reasons. Giuliani was Parnas’ lawyer, and both men were indicted last month. Acting assistant secretary of state Philip Reeker told Yovanovitch after she returned in May that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he “was no longer able to protect her from President Trump.” When she asked Pompeo for a statement of support, he denied her request because because it could be “undermined” by DDT “with a tweet or something.”

McKinley: He defended Yovanovitch’s tenure and spoke out against DDT’s efforts to “procure negative political information for domestic purposes” and “what appears to be the utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance political objectives.” He said that he also resigned because of Pompeo’s refusal not to publicly support Yovanovitch after the July 25 call. Four senior officials wanted to issue a statement of support, but Pompeo blocked it even after he had three conversations with Pompeo. [Pompeo said (lied?) to ABC that McKinley never asked for this statement of support.] McKinley also agreed with George Kent that officials asked to testify in the impeachment inquiry were bullied by the State Department to not give testimony. Although McKinley did not oversee Ukrainian issues and didn’t hear the July 25 call, he agreed that DDT’s political allies politicized the State Department as over testimony alleged. He cited Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker. In 47 years working for the State Department, McKinley said he had never seen the agency involved in getting damaging information about the president’s political opponents. 

Pompeo has a serious issue with his undying loyalty to DDT over his employees and his responsibilities. As CIA director, Pompeo knew the evidence about Russian hackers interfering in the 2016 election on behalf of DDT and testified in support of that conclusion in 2017. Now Pompeo supports DDT’s investigation into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, attacked the DNC to help Clinton, not DDT. He was the one who helped DDT and Giuliani to oust Yovanovitch with false accusations. State Department officials have been talking to congressional offices for months about the hold on Ukraine military aid, an attempt to cut $4 billion of foreign aid, and DDT’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Testimony against him described his “culture of harassment and impunity.” Like DDT, Pompeo prioritizes his personal ambitions over the United States’ national interests.  

Breaking with DDT and Giuliani, Lev Parnas now plans to talk to congressional investigators looking into impeachment, perhaps because DDT said he didn’t know him although their photos together go back at least five years. Yet DDT “signed off” on the lawyer for Parnas and his associate Igor Fruman, the same lawyer who had defended Paul Manafort. Parnas has fired that lawyer in exchange for new ones who said that Parnas will comply with a congressional subpoena. Parnas knows Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine to support DDT and the ways that illegal foreign donations are laundered to DDT and the GOP.

Jennifer Williams, a senior adviser to VP Mike Pence, will probably testify in Congress this week. She was one of the people listening to DDT’s July 25 call with Zelensky when DDT asked for a “favor” in return to releasing the military aid and requested that Zelensky work with AG Bill Barr and Giuliani on investigations into the Bidens.

DDT is openly asking Republicans to doctor the transcripts of the testimonies. He tweeted that they “should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda. House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews.”

An under-reported and truly bizarre piece of the impeachment inquiry comes from DDT’s and conservatives’ conspiracy theory about emails centering on CrowdStrike. The House GOP campaign organization uses this California cybersecurity company to protect its sensitive data and has no plans to change. Yet DDT and some House Republicans accuse CrowdStrike—with no evidence—of conspiring with Democrats in the 2016 election in a Ukrainian-backed intelligence operation to hurt DDT’s winning the White House. DDT still maintains that the hacked DNC server is hidden in Ukraine. Continuing to hire CrowdStrike shows that the GOP knows that the conspiracy theory is wrong, yet Republicans continue to blame CrowdStrike for election interference.  

Continuing the conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s involvement in the 2016 election, Giuliani met last week with a theory perpetrator, former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko. In spite of congressional investigations, it appears that soliciting Ukraine to investigate Biden and other Democrats hasn’t stopped, and some Ukrainian lawmakers are still looking into their conspiracy theory about a government campaign to smear Paul Manafort as part of taking down DDT in 2016. In his shadow foreign policy operation to damage DDT’s rivals, Giuliani had met with Telizhenko other times. Telizhenko had worked for Ukrainian businessman Pavel Fuks, a potential partner in DDT’s unsuccessful attempt to build a hotel in Moscow.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) may represent the GOP approach toward an impeachment trial in the Senate: he won’t be reading the transcripts and called the probe “a bunch of BS.”  

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote in a statement, “Both transcripts released today show there is even less evidence for this illegitimate impeachment sham than previously thought.” It’s a delusion. The transcripts show a quid pro quo, Ukrainian knowledge about it, and DDT directing the extortion scheme.  

November 3, 2019

DDT Owns This Economy

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got his way with the Federal Reserve: it dropped interest rates by another quarter point at a time when the economy is supposedly strong. The reduction of the interest rate by three-fourths of a percent in just three months at a time when the country is not in an economic crisis is not only almost unheard of but also a source of more disaster. Interest rates are lowered to fight a recession, and the United States has lost the ability to do that by dropping the rates.

The good news, other than a rising stock market, is unemployment at a half-century low and inflation at its two-percent target. The bad news is the trade wars causing stock market volatility, investment insecurity, farm losses, shrinking manufacturing jobs, and rising consumer prices as well as slowing global economy. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, Commerce reported, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession, at its lowest since the 2007-2009 recession. 

Eleven years ago, the Fed rate was .25 percent, and the cheap money promoted a borrowing frenzy. By now U.S. companies have borrowed $15.5 trillion, two thirds of the U.S. GDP, and used the money to increase stock prices, buybacks, and acquisitions. Any rise in interest rates will cause a financial crisis, similar to that 11 years ago. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), half of corporate debt outside small businesses is high risk or junk rated with a higher chance of default than investment grade debt. Even worse, $660 billion of leveraged debt is in collateralized loan obligations sold to investors and financial situations, threatening a rise in delinquencies and defaults. Selling this debt will accelerate a downward spiral.

The Fed’s meeting this past week, the second in three weeks, was to address the repo (repurchase agreement operations) market’s problems. In the repo market, banks, funds, and other large companies borrow money for a day and use short-term government bonds as collateral: Fed plan to buy $60 billion a month of these bonds through April 2020. After the last recession, the Fed bought long-term bonds and mortgage-backed bonds to prevent a worse economic collapse. The current repos are intended to make it appear that banks are complying with regulations.

Signs of the U.S. weakening economy:

U.S. business hiring has fallen to a seven-year low, and employer are not increasing wages because of slower growth of sales and profits. 

Consumer confidence in the United States has declined for three months in a row. 

Defaults on “subprime” auto loans are at the fastest pace since 2008. 

The percentage of “subprime” auto loans at least 60 days delinquent is now higher than at any time during the last recession. 

Retail vacancies at U.S. shopping malls are at the highest level since the last recession, up to almost ten percent. 

The Cass Freight Index has fallen for ten straight months

U.S. rail carload volumes are at the lowest level in three years

September orders for Class 8 heavy duty trucks were down 71 percent.  

September home sales in the United States declined by another 2.2 percent

New home prices have fallen to the lowest level in almost three years and the same median price as in 2014. 

Forty-four percent of people in the U.S. report that they don’t make enough money to cover their monthly expenses

In a recent survey, over two-thirds of all U.S. households, 69 percent, are taking steps to prepare for a recession. Recession fears can cause consumers to spend less, which can exacerbate the possibility of a recession.

September was the worst month for U.S. manufacturing in a decade as manufacturers laid off employees, and October was even worse.

 In September, 4,200 truck drivers lost their jobs after 5,100 were dropped in August while hundreds of trucking companies are going bankrupt.

Other figures from last spring that haven’t improved include continuing jobless claims at the fastest pace in ten years, retail layoffs at 92 percent higher than the year before, and economic numbers are at the worst start since 2008.  

More problems with the economy from Robert Reich:

Wages are still almost static with only $2,000 more than in 1979—even after DDT promised everyone $4,000 in tax cuts last year.

The low unemployment rate comes from people giving up searches for jobs; the labor-force participation rate is the lowest since the late 1970s.

Almost 4 million people are stuck in part-time jobs and can’t find full-time jobs. Their lack of rights and benefits adds to increased economic insecurity.  

More college graduates are overqualified for their current jobs with ten percent underemployed, much higher than 20 years ago, while college costs have skyrocketed and left students in massive debt.

Health care increases with average family premiums up 55 percent since 2008, three times more than inflation. Prescription drug prices went up 11 percent in the first half of 2019.

Almost 39 million American households pay more than they can afford on housing, and over 25 percent of the renters spend over half their income on housing.  

Consumer debt, excluding mortgages, has climbed to $4 trillion, the highest ever even after adjusting for inflation.

With the DDT-GOP tax cut, 83 percent of the gains go to the wealthiest one percent of people in the U.S.

The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, still have 32 percent less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003, and the top one percent has more than twice as much.

The federal government is also permitting the expansion of risky mortgages. The almost $7 trillion in mortgage-related debt by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA is one-third more than before the housing crisis over a decade ago, and a large increase in loan defaults can cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. A growing number of homeowners face debt payments almost half their monthly income, and about 30 percent of Fannie Mae guaranteed loans last year were higher than this level, up 14 percent from 2016. At 57-percent loans over the high-risk level, FHA is up in this category by 38 percent from two years ago.  Two Freddie Mac officials said that they had been pushed into loans with a higher risk of default. DDT’s officials are trying to privatize Fannie and Freddie which can disrupt the housing market and make buying homes more expensive. At this time, most of the loans are packaged into securities and sold to investors. In 2017, FHA guaranteed 10.9 percent of all single-family mortgage debt, more than half to borrowers with extremely high levels of debt and over triple the rate ten years earlier at the beginning of the recession. 

Another sign that the U.S. is moving toward a recession is the slow growth of the nation’s economy, 1.9 percent annualized pace in the most recent quarter and over one-third less than the 3 percent that DDT promised from his 2017 tax law. Consumer spending has continued, but business investment contracted for six straight months, falling 3 percent in the third quarter, the biggest drop since 2015. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession. Economic uncertainty has led to this drop in investment.

DDT promised to erase the federal debt in eight years, but the 2019 fiscal year deficit hit $984 billion—just $16 billion short of $1 trillion, a 26-percent increase from the previous year and up 50 percent since he was inaugurated. The loss comes from DDT’s massive spending increases, especially for the military and a border wall, and tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Bush’s bad policies, wars, and tax cuts led to a ballooning of the debt which President Obama curbed before DDT’s election. DDT’s shortfall is the same as for 2012 when unemployment was twice the current rate and the economy was coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression over 80 years ago. 

The debt-to-GDP ratio of 105 percent for the last quarter, up from last year and the first year to be this high since 1945, the end of World War II. That figure comes from the $22.719 trillion U.S. debt as of September 30, 2019 divided by the $21.526 trillion nominal GDP. The World Bank states that any debt greater than 77 percent is past the “tipping point,” when it can’t be repaid. DDT promised to cut the debt, but instead of vastly increased it by giving trillions of dollars to the wealthy and corporations. With these disasters, DDT plans another tax cut to enhance his reelection campaign.

DDT plans to use this economy for his reelection campaigning.

November 2, 2019

DDT: Week 145 – More GOP Destruction One Year before 2020 Election

Republicans got their wish: the House voted 232-196, mostly along party lines, for impeachment. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the Intelligence Committee, said that testimony transcripts will be released and open hearings televised as soon as possible. He’s waiting for testimony from eight more witnesses, some of whom have refused. More damaging information against DDT emerged from his possibly extorting Ukraine earlier in a Rudy Giuliani-brokered deal to block support for Robert Mueller’s investigation into Paul Manafort. 

After the death of Abu Bakr Baghdadi from a U.S. raid, ISIS has named a replacement for its leadership, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. The statement also announced the death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, al-Baghdadi’s close aide, in a joint U.S.-Kurd operation hours after al-Baghdadi’s death. The new leader is identified as a scholar, warrior, and “emir or war.”

Documents about the FBI search into Brett Kavanagh before his hearings for Supreme Court justice reveal that only superficial information was provided because FBI discoveries were “unquestionably private” and “could subject Judge Kavanaugh and others to harassment or embarrassment in their private lives.” The FBI made the decision about whether the information would “concern the performance of his public duties.”

Kavanaugh may have set the MO for crying during confirmation hearings. Lawrence VanDyke broke down after hearing an evaluation of him from the American Bar Association that he is “arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules…. [He] lacks humility, has an “entitlement” temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.” Republican senators responded by attacking the ABA. 

DDT planned to sign a first-step trade deal with China at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago in mid-November. President Sebastián Piñera has canceled this summit and another one on the environment with other 100 international delegations, however, because of protest demonstrations opposing inequality. China has not agreed with DDT’s view of the deal, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is leading the U.S. delegation to two summits in Bangkok next week.

Macroeconomist Greg Mankiw, chair of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and the most recent defector of “the party of Trump,” criticized congressional Republicans who “are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump’s misdeeds.” He plans to vote for a “center-left” Democratic presidential candidate to prevent DDT’s reelection.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), a prominent House leader, became the 21st GOP member of Congress, not including Pennsylvania’s Tom Marino who left after two weeks, to announce that he will not run for reelection, compared with just seven Democrats. One of 17 GOP House members forgoing candidacy, Walden is one of five Republicans in a senior committee position to announce retirement. The current GOP bailout loses women and minorities along with the Texas exodus—called the Texodus. One of the two departing GOP women from the 13-female contingent in the House is responsible for GOP’s House candidate recruitment for 2020.

In the 115th Congress, two dozen GOP congressional members quit. Almost 40 percent of the 241 Republicans in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements, or resignations.  

“Impeachment has become a terrible, terrible thorn in the side of the American democracy and the conduct of American government since Watergate,” Ken Starr said before he complained that DDT “is being held to a remarkable standard” in which we are “over-criminalizing the conduct of the business of government.” For four years, Starr investigated Clinton for the House Judiciary Committee and prepared a report that provided the catalyst for Clinton’s the impeachment for lying about oral sex in a civil deposition. Starr accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having a conflict of interest in wanting to be president although Starr said nothing about Newt Gingrich who was in charge of impeaching Clinton. Since Starr’s resignation from public life, he has supported perpetrators in sexual scandals. 

First DDT wanted to get rid of insurance; now he’s eradicating protections for diseases. Under George W. Bush, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) created Predict, a program to track and research deadly diseases such as Ebola, the H5N1 bird flu, and HIV. In 14 years, Predict cost $207 million to collect over 100,000 samples and find almost 1,000 novel animal-originating viruses. This identification can reduce disease transmission and reveal precursors of a new illness to prevent another pandemic. Researchers warn that a flu like the 1918 outbreak could kill 50 million to 80 million people. As the resurgence of measles demonstrates, diseases know no national borders. Under DDT, the program “collapsed.”

DDT is celebrating National Adoption Month by discriminating against LGBTQ people. HHS proposed rule will allow adoption and foster care agencies to reject LGBTQ families as well as permit them to refuse organizations receiving taxpayer money to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. The rule change would also permit all HHS grant recipients to discriminate, including public health ones such as HIV, STI, and opioid addiction programs. Other programs receiving taxpayer funding permitted to discriminate are youth homelessness, human trafficking, and pre-K education.

In Missouri, Randall Williams, director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, keeps a spreadsheet of the times of menstruation for women who terminated their pregnancy at the state’s one remaining abortion clinic. His information comes from medical records obtained during the state’s annual inspection, including dates of medical procedures. Earlier this year, Missouri passed a law, temporarily blocked in the courts, forbidding abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest. Missouri refuses to track opioid prescriptions and gun ownership because of privacy. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement also tracked the length of pregnancies and requests for abortions although a court ordered the department to stop blocking abortions for minors.

DDT promised GOP senators campaign money—specifically Joni Ernst (IA), Cory Gardner (CO), and Thom Tillis (NC)—if they oppose his impeachment. Next week, he’s hosting a fundraiser for David Perdue (GA). Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s lead ethics lawyer, calls it felony bribery.

The Keystone Pipeline, approved by DDT in 2017, spilled 383,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota. 

DDT has given immigration agents access to classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, but migrants and others denied entry cannot see this evidence used against them.

The U.S. Army refuses to explain why they are discharging immigrant recruits who joined the military with the promise of an expedited path to citizenship.

DDT is again physically threatening “the left” by saying that he has “the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump” who will “play it tough” if they get “to a certain point. Then it would be very bad, very bad.” DDT may not know that today, International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, his State Department called for “an end to violence against media professionals.”

In possibly a new low for Fox, Tucker Carlson blamed the California fires on blacks and LGBTQ people hired by the utility PG&E, saying that the state is “not civilized anymore.”

People are sawing through DDT’s new border walls with a reciprocating saw costing about $100 while others are climbing the wall with makeshift ladders.

DDT promised to save the coal industry, but Murray Energy Corp., the largest underground coal mining company in the U.S., became the ninth coal producer to declare bankruptcy during DDT’s first 145 weeks.

Twitter will ban all ads about political candidates, elections and hot-button policy issues such as abortion and immigration; Mark Zuckerberg plans to make billions from GOP lies in publishing their lying advertisements.

One year from Election Day 2020, some polling:

Only 26 percent of voters think that DDT doesn’t need to comply with subpoenas. 

81 percent of Republicans think that soliciting foreign interference is wrong

Only 26 percent of suburban women, a strong DDT support in 2016, approve of him, and 88 percent of them, ten percent more than in 2016, plan to vote in 2020.

47 percent of likely voters, including 51 percent of independent voters, plan to vote against DDT.  

Only 74 percent of Republicans, down 13 points in three months, approve of DDT.

49 percent of people think that DDT should be impeached and removed from office; 47 percent say not.

38 percent of people approve of DDT while 58 percent disapprove of his job performance.

DDT filed paperwork request the change of his permanent residence from New York to Florida that has no state income tax or inheritance tax. Moving won’t stop the New York lawsuits into his alleged tax fraud. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “It’s not like Mr. Trump paid taxes here anyway. He’s all yours, Florida.”

A Daily Mail reporter documented the filth and other dismaying conditions of DDT’s Doral resort in Miami. It’s for those with a strong stomach who are not eating while seeing the photographs. Acting chief of staff claimed that of the ten places considered for the G7 Summit in 2020, that the Doral was the “best option.” One shudders to think about the conditions of the other ones.

October 31, 2019

Syria: DDT Makes Russia Great Again

Impeachment has overwhelmed the media, shutting out most other news including the travesty in Syria, started by a casual telephone call between Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and Turkish president Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 25 days ago. In a few minutes, DDT set the scene for the displacement and murder of former Kurdish allies along with the takeover of northern Syria by Turkey and Russia with at least 160,000 Kurds now forced out of their homes.

DDT first pulled troops out of northern Syria which allowed hundreds of ISIS prisoners to escape and then lifted all sanctions on Turkey despite their war crimes. As always, he fabricated a new reality with a multitude of lies. A few corrections:

  • Kurds did not “release” ISIS prisoners; the former U.S. allies were on the run.
  • Kurds were not “very thankful” about DDT’s pulling the troops; they pelted U.S. troops with rotten vegetables and rocks.
  • Troops were not pulled out of the Middle East; they were sent to Iraq and the Syrian oil fields. He also sent another 3,000 service members to Saudi Arabia.
  • The military deployment to Syria was not scheduled for only “30 days” because there was no timetable.
  • The deployment didn’t happen “almost 10 years ago” because airstrikes didn’t begin until 2014. Ground troops were deployed in late 2015.
  • Others had not tried to make this deal for “many, many decades” because DDT made an extremely narrow decision in the withdrawal of U.S. troops, not a broad accord resolving longstanding regional issues.  
  • Saudi Arabia won’t be paying for all the troops sent to protect their oil fields because White House officials know nothing about any deal. DDT’s next plan was to get NATO to pay for protecting Saudi oil fields, an unlikely scenario.
  • DDT doesn’t have “control of oil in the Middle East”; he has control over no Middle East oil fields. Russia, Iran, and Syria control the Syrian oil fields.  Russia’s state-owned Rosneft oil company, owned by Russia, controls 60 percent of the Kurdish area’s main oil export pipeline, and Iraq keeps the rest. DDT has given them 2.5 billion gallons of oil.

DDT’s later idea about putting troops in Iraq and Syria may also fail. In a face-to-face unannounced meeting, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told Defense Secretary Mark Esper (or “Esperanto,” as DDT called him) that U.S. troops don’t have permission to come to Iraq from Syria. Mahdi added that his government is taking “all international legal measures” in response to their recent entry. DDT’s plan to protect the oil fields in Syria—but not the Kurds—violates the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed after 9/11. AUMF can only target “nations, organizations, or persons” who were involved in the attack on the U.S. to prevent “future acts of international terrorism.” The law may block protection of oil fields.

Any plan for DDT to take the oil may also violate international law. He said that “we should be able to take some [oil]” and added a plan to make a deal with “ExxonMobile or one of our great companies to go in there … and spread out the wealth.” When DDT earlier said that the U.S. should have taken the oil from Iraq, Sarah Saadoun, researcher at Human Rights Watch, explained that this would be pillage, “the unlawful appropriation of public or private property in connection with an armed conflict.” An “occupying army” to “use the natural resources of the territory for the needs of the occupying army or for the benefit the local population.” The 1996 US War Crimes Act also criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions or articles of The Hague Regulations, including the prohibition on pillage. A sentence for these violations can be life in prison. DDT used the term “fools” to describe people who believe in enforcing U.S. and international law.

DDT’s pullout of troops gave ISIS a huge win: U.S. officials stated that they are losing the ability to collect critical intelligence about the terrorists’ group’s operation on the ground. The pullout also caused greater risk in the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr Badhdadi because it disrupted the careful planning by the Pentagon. Officials said that the success of the raid was in spite of, not because of, DDT.  

Throughout DDT’s attempt to divert attention from his impeachment with the killing of al-Baghdadi, he behaves like a buffoon. He awkwardly staged a photo supposedly taken during the raid in contrast to Pete Souza’s reality-based photo of President Obama and his team tracking the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The date and time for DDT’s picture show it was taken 65 minutes before the raid. Tweets ridiculed the image for scattered Ethernet cables that weren’t connected to anything, the placement of DDT’s chair higher than others at the table, and the few obscured documents in front of him compared to those in front of others. A later photograph cut off he man on the right to make DDT look larger. 

Former presidents were accompanied by their chiefs of staff during times of crisis, but Mick Mulvaney was at home in South Carolina during the raid. He learned about it from the same announcements as the rest of the public, perhaps an indication that he is not long for the White House.

DDT’s derogatory dog references have been prominent in the media, both written and video, because he commonly uses canines to denigrate people—including al-Baghdadi about his death—yet praised a military dog for its part in the raid. A number of his comments are cited here. DDT was so enamored with the animal helping to take down al-Baghdadi that he tweeted a photo-shopped image illustrating his giving the dog the Medal of Honor. Gone in the picture is the face of James McCloughan, the first person who received the award from DDT for his saving ten men in a days-long Vietnam battle.

Days after DDT removed U.S. troops from northern Syria, DDT hailed the Turkish “cease-fire agreement, which kept killing people, as “a great day for civilization.” He followed that with high praise for Russia and Turkey taking over part of Syria. His comments are reminiscent of those by then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in September 1938, who shook hands with Adolf Hitler after France and England signed the Munich agreement that allowed Germany to annex Czechoslovakia. Poland was next, and the price for this “appeasement” was World War II. Winston Churchill, a man who DDT says he admires, told Chamberlain:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.”

DDT repeats Chamberlain’s mistakes: he takes dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Erdoğan at their word and ignores military and diplomatic advice; he disregards threats from his actions and consequences of his public statements; he dismisses an ally losing over 10,000 fighters while helping the U.S. destroy ISIS; and he emboldens Iran, strengthens Russia, alienates allies, damages U.S. credibility, and helps ISIS. Winston Churchill’s statement to Chamberlain fits DDT.  

October 28, 2019

DDT: Corruption, Character

News events about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep rolling. Today, NYT broke news about how Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice reported worries about DDT’s pressuring Ukraine, especially asking “a foreign government [to] investigate a U.S. citizen.” He heard DDT’s July 25 telephone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky offering quid pro quo. A decorated Iraq war veteran with a Purple Heart, Vindman will be the first White House official to testify with first-hand knowledge about the call. (Vindman’s opening statement.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that the House will take its first formal vote on Thursday to “affirm” the impeachment investigation. The resolution will also cover procedures for public hearings and interview transcripts.

Military and intelligence officials cringed about DDT’s colorful description of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s capture, a combination of fabricated, tactically sensitive, and classified information that he presented to the world. Again, DDT presents himself only as an entertainer delivering an exciting narrative about covert life-and-death events. One official said:

“We agonized over what we would put in his briefings because who knows if and when he’s going to say something about it. He has no filter. But also if he knows something, and he thinks it’s going to be good to say or make him appear smarter or stronger, he’ll just blurt it out.”

Details such as the U.S. possessing documents about future ISIS plans damages military ability to use that information, and DDT’s report about capturing ISIS fighters complicates interrogation. He also revealed technology used in discovering the location and the raid itself as well as tactical details about the robot, helicopter flight patterns, methods of entering the compound, and even military dog training. DDT’s behavior belies his faux concern about fear that Democrats would leak information if they knew about the operation.

DDT invented his message to the Russians and performance of the “crying and screaming” from al-Baghdadi: the visuals of the raid had no audio. Some people surmised that the visual for DDT and others in the Situation Room was set up later to imitate the photo from that room during the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Back to last week’s corruption and fraud:

One arguing point by Republicans—although invalid—is that they are devoted to the U.S. Constitution. DDT finally openly repudiated the document that provide the supreme law of the United States with his term “phony Emoluments Clause.” The reference was made in high dudgeon after he backed out of having the G7 Summit at his personal resort, but a number of lawsuits already challenge his right to take money from foreign governments without congressional permission. He also argues that the constitutional impeachment process is unconstitutional and gave himself the right to spend federal funds wherever he wishes in violation of the constitution.

DDT also referred to the phony constitution when discussing his Washington, D.C. hotel. Thinking that he could escape multiple lawsuits about his constitutional violation, DDT considers selling the hotel, hoping for $500 million on a $200 million investment. Because DDT leases the building where the hotel is located, he would be selling only the rights to operate the hotel. The hotel’s building is owned by the government, making DDT both tenant and landlord, prohibited by the lease but still in operation. His lease costs $3 million a year plus a percentage of the profits, but DDT has not paid much over the base cost, indicating that the place is not profitable. He continues to run his own business, despite his assertion that he wouldn’t have any oversight; thus the sale would result in more conflicts of interest with a sale to people trying to curry favor. A House committee has subpoenaed DDT for documents to investigate his lease.

DDT may understand that his name is losing money. He has taken his name off two Central Park ice skating rinks. At one time, the arenas posted red signs with “Trump” around the rink and at the skate rental desk, signs now covered with a white tarp or with “Trump” in small print at the bottom. His name has even been removed from uniforms. Four concessions run by the Trump Organization—the two rinks, the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx, and the Michael Friedsam Memorial Carousel in Central Park—have either lost revenue or stayed flat since DDT was elected. The two rinks dropped by 5 percent. DDT’s name has been taken off six residential buildings in Manhattan and three hotels, all properties that had leased the Trump name.

New Jersey may revoke the liquor license for one of DDT’s golf clubs because of a 2015 case in which a man caused a fatal wreck after he was overserved alcohol at the club in Colts Neck. The man pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide after killing his father. DDT has 30 days to challenge the revocation. The club also violated state law by selling alcoholic drinks other than beer on carts throughout the golf course. According to state law, anyone with one liquor license revoked must give up all other licenses for two years. DDT has two other New Jersey golf clubs, one of them in Bedminster that he calls his summer White House. Alcohol sales provide golf courses its income.

DDT attacked Obama for not donating his presidential salary, but DDT has spent nearly 300 years of presidential salary on taxpayer-funded trips to play golf at his private clubs, including last weekend.

In DDT’s snitty micro-managing, he cancelled White House subscriptions to the Washington Post  and the New York Times. He also plans to order all his agencies to do the same. Almost a year ago, DDT tried to revoke or suspend the press passes of journalists with his objection as “fake news.” Judges have opposed this action twice thus far, but the DOJ is appealing the latest decision to allow the reporter to cover the White House. An argument against any suspension is “viewpoint discrimination” which DDT obviously has according to a tweet about “two nasty lightweight reporters” whose “reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE.” DDT’s bubble didn’t allow him to foresee the booing he faced at Game 5 of the World Series game after he was introduced. He was not happy.

DDT’s use of “fake news” may be short-lived. A Calgary (Alberta) communications agency joined the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to trademark the term and served DDT with a cease-and-desist to stop him from using the term.

A federal judge held DDT’s billionaire Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court because she failed to stop collecting loan payments from former Corinthian Colleges students, a defunct for-profit college company that defrauded tens of thousands of borrowers. Judge Sallie Kim fined the Education Department $100,000, money used to compensate the 16,000 people damaged by the Education Department. She warned “additional sanctions” if the Educational Department continues to violate the injunction.

One of DeVos’ top officials, A. Wayne Johnson, has quit in an effort to become Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s appointment to a U.S. Senate seat. Johnson has 500 competitors for the job. He came to the Education Department from his private student loan firm to manage $1.5 trillion in student loans, equal to Russia’s annual GDP and more than seven times Portugal’s GDP. As a going-away gift, Johnson wants to forgive up to $50,000 of student debt for each borrower at a cost of $925 billion. He says it could be financed by a one-percent tax on revenue generated by all employers including non-profit organizations. 

Student loan payments provided over 100 employees of student loan company Sallie Mae a five-day, expenses paid trip to Maui as the company celebrated record profits. The company made $5 billion from 374,000 borrowers. Sallie Mae provides private loans which charge much higher interest.

Peter Navarro, DDT’s trade representative, refused to answer six times when asked whether DDT is pressuring China to investigate Joe Biden as part of the trade talks. Sounds like a yes.

The DOJ tried to conceal the whistleblower complaint about the Ukraine phone call by not reporting the information to the FEC.

DDT has acquired only 16 percent of the land he needs in Texas for his wall because people don’t want to give up their land. Yet he may cause another shutdown in December if Congress doesn’t give him money for his monument.

Twice last week, GOP senators blocked election security bills. DDT already said that he would veto any bill requiring federal election campaigns to report “illicit offers” of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.

DDT loves proclamations and last week was no different. For “National Character Counts Week,” he signed a statement encouraging future leaders to “lead lives of virtue and integrity” with a strong “moral compass.” He wants them to “demonstrate good character through our thoughts, discourse, and deeds” with deeds in our homes, schools, workplaces, and houses of worship. Let us set an example for others of the timeless values of respect, compassion, justice, tolerance, fairness, and integrity.” The signing of this proclamation that satirists like Andy Borowitz would write—but it’s for real.

Oddity of the week: DDT has released an attack ad against Hillary Clinton for the 2020 campaign.

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