Nel's New Day

January 4, 2018

What Government Shutdown? GOP Needs Democrats

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 8:04 PM
Tags: , , , ,

In Congress, last September was supposed to be a difficult time—except Republicans put off the hard decisions until December. Busy with the destructive tax bill, they moved it to January. It’s January. Without passing a long-term spending bill by January 19, the government shuts down. The GOP can’t agree on what they want to do so both congressional chambers need Democrats, especially because the Senate requires 60 votes to move the spending bill forward unless Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) kills the filibuster. The new year has brought another Democratic senator to Washington, making the GOP majority 51-49. And the world is focused on a new “tell-all” book about how the friends of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) thinks he is a fool, an idiot, or mentally deranged–or all three.

Major problems for Congress:

Spending Caps:

The strict sequestration law to control the budget passed in 2011 and needs congressional approval for any increases. Part of congressional members wants to lift the cap to help people, and others want far more money to throw at the military. A third segment of legislators don’t want to raise the caps at all. DDT wants an extra $100 billion over the existing $549 billion for the Pentagon. To support this increase, Democrats want the equivalent sum for domestic spending such as housing programs, Pell grants, and food and job assistance. Without a decision on spending caps, Congress cannot make any decisions about the spending bill.

“Dreamers”:

Some Republicans say that they want to help the young people who were illegally brought to the United States involuntarily, but they have shown no evidence of following through, many of them afraid that constituents opposing the idea won’t re-elect them. At risk is the DACA program, eliminated by DDT last fall, that permits vetted young undocumented immigrants to get jobs and go to school. At the start of December, 34 House Republicans signed a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) calling for a vote before the end of 2017 on legislation to protect DACA recipients, but Ryan promised to take up the issue in January if they passed the tax bill. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) helped pass the horrible tax bill because he was told that he could stay in the room during any discussion of the issue.GOP Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) joined Flake (AZ) in supporting Dreamer legislation, but they both have a reputation for caving in at a crisis vote.DDT waffles about saving the Dreamers—as he does with all other policy—and now demands his wall in exchange for protecting them. Over two years ago, Paul Ryan promised he would not bring any immigration bill to the House floor that wasn’t supported by a GOP majority, but he wasn’t facing a government shutdown then.

Children’s Health Insurance Program:

CHIP, the program for nine million children close to poverty, was saved until March while the tax bill was in play. For some Republicans, helping children is one of those programs that they oppose.

The Affordable Health Care Act:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) pried a vote for the tax bill from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) by promising that people would be keeping their health care. Without the yes votes from Flake and Collins, the tax bill would have failed. Conservatives who hate domestic spending reject the Alexander-Murray Obamacare stabilization bill, which has lost some of its value after the tax bill removed the individual mandate for everyone to purchase health care. Collins wants two years of cost-sharing reduction payments and a “reinsurance” programs. Like Flake, she isn’t going to get what she was promised for her vote.

Disaster Relief:

Another postponed issue from last year is the $81 billion package to give aid for Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and Texas after a series of destructive hurricanes and the massive wildfires in California. While DDT held an opulent party at Mar-a-Lago for hundreds on New Year’s Eve, one-half the people in Puerto Rico are still without electricity.

Surveillance Reform:

Because of disagreements, Congress passed a short-term extension of electronic surveillance in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The conservative Freedom Caucus voted for the tax bill with McConnell’s promise that they could offer amendments to a FISA reauthorization that limits the collection of communications of foreigners abroad with people from the U.S. without a warrant. The Freedom Caucus maintains that this law violates constitutional protections.

Infrastructure:

Even worse in January is the possibility that DDT may introduce infrastructure into the swampy mix. The GOP has already given $1.5 trillion that they don’t have to the wealthy and corporations, leaving nothing for infrastructure so that DDT’s “infrastructure package” relies heavily on state expenditures. States have been increasingly impovrished as the federal government lays more fiscal responsibilities on them while giving money to the military and wealthy. The reduction of deductions for taxpayers in the new tax bill benefiting the wealthy and corporations will make them more unable to pay additional taxes to states.

Debt Ceiling:

Once Republicans survive the spending bill—or shut down the government again—they need to move forward to raise the debt ceiling by March. They have just increased the debt by $1.5 trillion, but the conservative caucus will certainly balk at an increase in the debt ceiling without spending cuts. The current leadership think that not increasing the debt ceiling is not a big problem because the U.S. can refuse to pay the bills that it already incurred or offer to pay less. If Congress passes the spending bill in January but fails to deal with raising the debt ceiling, the country faces another government shutdown in March. DDT has said that a “good shutdown” can benefit the nation. Even the possibility of failing to meet the nation’s fiscal responsibilities in 2011 led to a four-percent drop in the stock markets and a first-time ever downgrading of ratings which increased the percentage of loan interest. Support for the controlling GOP decreased, and the international community criticized the “dangerously irresponsible” actions of the U.S. government. 

Cuts to Entitlement, including Those That Are Earned:

Republicans bragged that the $1.5 trillion deficit would not exist because of magnificent growth in the economy, but they plan to cover the money with cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. That may be the big fight this year when the white people who supported DDT and other Republicans discover that their vote means less money for living and health care.

The top four GOP and Dem congressional leaders met yesterday and said that the meeting was “positive and productive,” meaning “pointless.” A major question is whether the Republicans can convince people to put off the Dreamers and other issues by promising them that they will pass legislature in this area. DDT has slowed down negotiations on the spending bill because he hasn’t issued specific demands for his wall while the DHS talks about technology and personnel instead of a 30-foot high wall for 2,000 miles. Republicans hope that the spending bill will be independent of immigration; Democrats are pushing for its inclusion. Hopefully, the Democrats understand that not including the Dreamers in the spending bill will leave them in the cold and headed toward Mexico.

Since McConnell pushed through the GOP-owned punitive tax bill for most of the people in the U.S. by keeping the Democrats away from any participation, he is asking for “a renewed spirit of comity, collegiality and bipartisanship.”

Republicans plan to spend $10 million selling the new tax plan so that they can get re-elected in 2018. The above chart comparing the tax cuts from President Obama’s first full year and DDT’s tax bill make be difficult to spin as an advantage of DDT’s bill:

Congress has two weeks before a possible government shutdown. If the GOP operates as usual, they’ll wait ten days to do anything about the spending bill and then panic while blaming the Democrats.

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January 1, 2018

2017 – A Year of Disasters

Niagara Falls froze, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) lasted four hours and twelve minutes into 2018 before causing an international incident. At 4:12 am on January 1, 2018, he tweeted:

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

This official Twitter assault came after frequent attacks on Iran for “failing at every level despite the terrible deal made with them by the Obama Administration.” One year ago, DDT told the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that “Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people” and then ignored attacks in the country that killed over 100 people.

To epitomize 2017, the Washington Post asked readers to submit their favorite quote of the year. “Alternative facts,” Kellyanne Conway’s excuse for DDT’s lying, came in first, but “Nevertheless, she persisted” was second. This statement was the complaint that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave to argue that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) had violated Senate rules by continuing to speak on the Senate floor. Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 is feminism, the word that had the most searches. A definition for the word: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” “Complicit,” also very popular became popular after Ivanka Trump said she didn’t know what the word meant when interviewer Gayle King asked her if she were “complicit” in White House activities. Complicit: “helping to commit a crime or do wrong in some way.”

Much of the “winning” in the past year came from backlash to horrible actions. For example, great numbers of people focused on nuclear weapons after DDT threatened a war with North Korea. People protested against hate speech and white supremacists after DDT supported Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

Winners:

Women: Last year Hillary Clinton lost the presidency, but women gained ground through political wins in different states and the #MeToo movement. This increasing strength of unification on the part of women can move further successes into 2018.

Democrats: The blue party performed better in 2017 elections than those in 2016, finding the majority in at least one legislature and picking up an additional seat in the U.S. Senate. Virginia is still undecided, but at this point, it’s only one person away from a majority in the House of Delegates. Although too early to hope, the Democrats are in play for a majority in both congressional chambers.

MSNBC: With its almost 50 percent viewer increase compared to the 2016 campaign cycle, the cable network edged out CNN for the top with viewers ages 18 to 49 this year and became the third most-watched basic cable network in prime time—after Fox and ESPN—up from eighth place. Rachel Maddow is moving ahead of Fox’s Sean Hannity and regularly beating him in the envied demographic of viewers 25 to 54.

Chris Hurst: After his girlfriend, another Roanoke journalist at WDBJ-TV, was shot and killed on the air in 2015, he unseated a GOP incumbent in the Virginia House of Delegates.

LGBTQ candidates: Across the nation, LGBTQ people won seats on state legislature, mayoral seats, city councils, and school boards. 

Winners for the far right:

Conservative judicial system: The GOP confirmed Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and at least 36 federal judges, most of them young and many unqualified, who oppose human rights.

The wealthy: Despite DDT’s campaign to help the “people,” he managed to pass a tax bill that greatly benefits big corporations and the rich. As he told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago, “You all just got a lot richer.” 

Winners and losers:

Immigrants: Federal judges have been opposing DDT’s Muslim ban, but the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with the number of lower courts opposing the ban. Immigrants “won” when marchers protested against DDT’s ban but lost with DDT’s executive order to deport the “Dreamers,” young people illegally brought into the U.S. with their parents. DDT’s new anti-immigrant system separates families. At the same time, federal judges are also opposing the DOJ’s opposition to “sanctuary” municipalities and states, the places that say that they will only follow the law and not hunt down undocumented people for ICE.

Losers:

The truth: DDT’s entire base is built on a non-existent alternate reality.

DDT’s lawyers: Afraid of what DDT might say or do, his lawyers are lying to him about how serious Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian collusion will be for the man inaugurated last January, according to reporter Carl Bernstein who helped break the case against Richard Nixon.

Political stability: While DDT argues that any opposing institutions are corrupt and biased, he has instituted a system of corruption and bias through inculcating conspiracy theories around law enforcement, the judiciary, the intelligence agencies, and the media that tries to explain what he is doing.

Roy Moore: The GOP backed a lying pedophile for the U.S. senator from Alabama and lost.

U.S. international leadership: DDT has turned the United States into the laughing-stock of the entire world while he backs out of all coalitions except his inexplicable friendship with Russia and Vladimir Putin. At the same time, he ran on the philosophy of isolationism before he bombed the Syrian government, killed civilians in a number of countries including Iraq, and expanded the U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan while alienating China and Japan, threatening North Korea and siding with Israel against most of the rest of the Middle East. In his spare time, he made an enemy of Europe by backing out of the climate agreement, dunning NATO membership, and declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

The federal government: Tens of thousands of federal employees, most of them valued parts of the structure, have been shed in the past 344 days in keeping with DDT’s promise to shrink the government. Even DDT’s beloved Defense Department has lost one percent—7,811 civilian workers, and the IRS, integral in DDT’s tax plan, lost 6,801 permanent staffers, almost nine percent. The proposed budget will drastically slash more employees—over 30 percent at some agencies–and DDT has promised worse for the following year. Losses from the reduced number of employees include worker and personal safety, technology, defense, transparency, human rights, and education.

The short-term future for the government, according to former DDT advisor Steve Bannon, is “trade, DACA, and the wall — but it’s much beyond that. This is the run-up, the last 20 days before the first anniversary of his inauguration, and it’s all coming to a head: a spending bill of epic proportions, the test of a veto or a government shutdown, the China confrontation and Korea, all the immigration issues, infrastructure funding and welfare reform. All on the table, with their direction uncertain.”

DDT’s economic advisor, Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, are worried about proposed new tariffs on industries such as steel and aluminum that would make consumer goods more expensive. Sources close to DDT claim that his goal of putting “huge tariffs on countries, industries, and product categories … would roil global markets, start a costly trade war, and harm America’s relationships with allies.”

Last year was a time of impulsive but official presidential statements primarily on tweets, a large number of resignations and firing in both the legislative and executive branches, the swinging door at the White House with a 34 percent staff turnover, the immersion of Russia collusion into almost every corner of politics, DDT’s support of racism and misogyny, nepotism, lack of diplomacy, DDT’s unconstitutional profiteering from the White House, more mass shootings and other deaths from guns because of legislative inaction, increased religious control of the government, the swinging door at the White House with a 34 percent staff turnover, the rapid increase in stock value while most people’s salaries stayed almost stagnant, constant conflict and anger, revenge and threats, and what seems an inexorable move toward World War III. All of these political problems overlooked the serious problems from climate change—forest fires, and hurricanes. In addition, 2017 was the warmest year in history without an El Nino.

One hundred years ago, the end of World War I caused the disintegration of some empires while the lines drawn by France and England in the Middle East to determine which of the two countries would control these nations began the bloody, brutal battles for the past century. The U.S. isolationism led to racism and ethnic bigotry exacerbated by vigilante actions and the merciless leadership by the federal attorney general. The nation denied international cooperation and relied on trade protectionism, resulting in the Great Depression. One century later, DDT has launched the U.S. into the same direction. There is not one example of how DDT has thus far championed the “forgotten” working class and sided with consumers over businesses.

The question now is whether the people will fight back.

December 31, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-nine – Tomorrow a New Year

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may have declared that “Obamacare” is dead, but enrollment was only slightly down from last year as of three years before the end of the time on December—despite DDT’s efforts to kill it with a vastly shortened enrollment time and removal of funds to publicize and help people with enrolling. Also not counted are special extensions that will bring in more people. DDT is primarily hurting his on supporters: 80 percent of the enrollees are from states that voted for him with 40 percent coming from only four states.

A new report on DDT’s meeting with top officials about immigrants last June highlighted his racism when he said that all 15,000 Haitians “have AIDS” and Afghanistan is a “terrorist haven.” The 40,000 Nigerians who received U.S. visas for 2017 would never “go back to their huts” in Africa once they had visited the United States, DDT allegedly said. DDT’s advisor Stephan Miller and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, blamed Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson for the foreigners’ visits. Tillerson told Kelly that he could stop issuing visas. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary, said that everyone at the meeting denied the harsh words.

A federal judge blocked DDT’s separation of families in immigration and partially lifted a ban on refugees from 11 mostly Muslim countries, including those who have a relationship with people or groups in the U.S. including resettlement agencies or humanitarian organizations.

A D.C. federal judge ordered DDT’s commission investigating voter fraud to give the Democratic members equal access to the panel’s records that Republican members have. Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap was denied documents in deliberations of the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity including location, speakers, and content of last September’s meeting. Several committee members say that the group has been dormant for the past few months.

A federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to give low-income families greater access to housing in more affluent neighborhoods, according to a rule from the former administration. The current system concentrates families with public rental assistance in heavily segregated, high-poverty communities. HUD Secretary Ben Carson had delayed implementing the rule.

A federal court ruled that a California school district cannot force a high school football player to stand during the national anthem before football games.

Apppointments:

In his confirmation hearing, Dr. Dean Winslow, appointed to be the Pentagon’s top health official, made the mistake of saying that it’s “insane” that “in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy … a semi-automatic assault rifle like an AR-15, which apparently was the weapon that was used.” He has now withdrawn his name from consideration because the Senate Armed Services Committee put his appointment on indefinite hold because he does not “support the unrestricted ownership of semiautomatic assault weapons by civilians.”

Trump Tweets:

DDT celebrated Christmas Eve by retweeting an image of himself having stepped on CNN and leaving a bloody spatter. His tweets are official records of the presidency. [visual] Even ultra conservative Joe Walsh criticized him: “Grow up sir. Have you no sense of decency? Go spend time with your family.”

The day after Christmas, DDT shouted his anger at Fox, not even able to spell “frlends”: “WOW, @foxandfrlends “Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.” And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!”

DDT is angry with AG Jeff Sessions for leaving the Senate to take the position for which DDT nominated him.

DDT plans to massively increase the flawed homeland missile defense system despite government reports that upgrades may not succeed. The idea to destroy incoming ballistic missiles above the atmosphere will cost another $10 billion in addition to the existing payments of $40 billion. The plan is also to make the new radar operational in three years before any testing and the installation the next year with only one test. DDT says the program has a 97-percent success rate; the Pentagon cites 50 percent of the time. Over three-fourths of the existing interceptors have circuit boards susceptible to electrical shorting. No correction was taken. There is also no way to know if the interceptors hit a missile or just a decoy or debris. The radar operates in the “S-band” radio frequency which may not be able to identify long-range missiles. The missile agency chose this frequency over X-band, three times as accurate, because it was cheaper. Boeing has thus far been awarded “performance” bonuses of $2 billion for the 50-percent failure rate.

DDT has heavily criticized China for providing oil to North Korea but said nothing about Russia’s also breaking the UN sanctions by making several ship-to-ship transfers of oil to North Korean vessels this past year.

In his ignorance about the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, DDT sent letters by FedEx to the remaining members of his HIV/AIDS council, informing them that they were fired. Six other members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) had resigned earlier this year because of the lack of strategy and input from experts for developing policy while a push for legislation to hurt people with HIV and reverse gains in eradicating the disease. The change may be to rewrite the PACHA charter to focus on abstinence and non-evidence-based religious beliefs. DDT’s goal may be to return to the epidemic of the 1980s during Ronald Reagan’s term as reflected in David Frances’ How to Survive a Plague.

After DDT gave lumps of coal to the poor and middle class with his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, over 500 people—almost ten percent of coal employees in the state—are being laid off in the next few months. The bankrupt Armstrong Coat in Madisonville is laying off all 427 employees at all their facilities, and Thoroughfare Mining is permanently laying off all 99 employees at its Survant Mine in Central City. The layoffs are a national trend: a Bastrop County (TX) power plant/mine will shut down with almost 400 jobs lost. More bad news for the coal industry with layoffs in Mississippi. Luminant Generation will a power plant with 135 employees and another one with 255 jobs. The Kemper power plant in Dekalb (MS) will lay off 250 workers and another 75 workers at its mine. The list keeps going on as companies switch to natural gas and renewable energy despite DDT’s campaign promises. The two biggest coal producers in the nation—West Virginia and Wyoming—are dead last in population growth because of its resource dependence.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is no longer to protect; the mission statement is now to search for “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations.” As a U.S. representative, the bureau’s acting director, Mick Mulvaney, stated that the agency should be erased.

Thanks to DDT, the Presidential Challenge Coin, given to members of the service to commemorate special achievements and milestones as well as put on veterans’ graves in Arlington, reflects DDT’s narcissism. Among other changes, both sides of the coin feature “Make America Great Again” instead of the national motto “E pluribus unum” meaning “Out of many, one.”

Over seven years ago, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers, released millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and cost millions of dollars of damage in the Gulf and along its coast. DDT is now recalling rules to prevent a recurrence, including one certifying that safety devices are working.

Not all men are created equal, a cornerstone for the Declaration of Independence and democracy, according to DDT in 2009 during an interview with Deborah Solomon of The New York Times. DDT said about people being created equal:

“It’s not true. Some people are born very smart, some people are born not so smart. Some people are born very beautiful and some people are not so you can’t say that’re all created equal.”

For the tenth year in a row, President Obama is Gallup’s most admired man in the United States. Only Dwight Eisenhower exceeds this record as 12 times.  Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman for 16 consecutive years. DDT is the only elected president to not receive this honor in his first year in office.

Nothing may demonstrate DDT’s ridiculous lies and behavior more than his vacation and golf habits, more obvious because he vigorously criticized President Obama for doing either. DDT is so thin-skinned that his aides are forced to lie about how much time he’s spent this year—one-third of the days—by leaving schedules blank or using outright lies. Last week, DDT even made a box truck move with him on the golf court to avoid any photos at his own club. Once DDT spotted the photographers, he ordered trees planted to make his activities more opaque.

December 28, 2017

DDT Unsupervised Interview

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , , , ,

While the staff of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) left him unsupervised at his Mar-a-Lago golf course, where he spent the third day playing golf, DDT ran into New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt. The 30-minute on-record interview may make history—and provide fodder in court cases.

The interview began with DDT saying he would not have appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general had he known that Mr. Sessions would recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

“I thought it was a terrible thing he did. [Inaudible.] I thought it was certainly unnecessary, I thought it was a terrible thing….  I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that, I will say this: Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him.”

DDT’s position is that he made the media with his presence and that it will “tank” if he is no longer in the White House. For that reason, he stated, the media will see that he is re-elected in 2020. He added that the NYT will fail without him.

“They basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.”

During the short interview, DDT insisted 16 times that the inquiry has found “no collusion.” He thinks the investigation should stop because “it makes the country look very bad.”  He accused the Chinese of secretly shipping oil to North Korea and made veiled threats against China.

Other DDT comments:

“I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.”

“I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

“Paul [Manafort] only worked for me for a few months. Paul worked for Ronald Reagan. His firm worked for John McCain, worked for Bob Dole, worked for many Republicans for far longer than he worked for me. And you’re talking about what Paul was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months?”

“And by the way, I didn’t deal with Russia. I won because I was a better candidate by a lot. I won because I campaigned properly and she didn’t. She campaigned for the popular vote. I campaigned for the Electoral College. And you know, it is a totally different thing, Mike. You know the Electoral College, it’s like a track star. If you’re going to run the 100-yard dash, you work out differently than if you’re going to run the 1,000 meters or the mile…. So I went to Maine five times, I went to [inaudible], the genius of the Electoral College is that you go to places you might not go to.

And that’s exactly what [inaudible]. Otherwise, I would have gone to New York, California, Texas and Florida.”

“Now, in my opinion, they should come to me on infrastructure. They should come to me, which they have come to me, on DACA. We are working. … We’re trying to something about it. And they should definitely come to me on health care. Because we can do bipartisan health care. We can do bipartisan infrastructure. And we can do bipartisan DACA…. I want to do a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill, at least. We want to fix our roads, our highways, our bridges, which are in bad shape. And you know some of them are actually, they’re x-ed out, they have, you know, possibilities of collapse under bad circumstances. And in 10 years they will collapse. So, I want a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. I think it can be bipartisan. I believe we can do health care in a bipartisan way, because now we’ve essentially gutted and ended Obamacare.”

“I know more about the big bills. … [Inaudible.] … Than any president that’s ever been in office. Whether it’s health care and taxes. Especially taxes. I’ll tell you something [inaudible]. … Put me on the defense, I was a great student and all this stuff. Oh, he doesn’t know the details, these are sick people. So, the taxes. … [Inaudible.] … The tax cut will be, the tax bill, prediction, will be far bigger than anyone imagines. Expensing will be perhaps the greatest of all provisions. Where you can do something, you can buy something. … Piece of equipment. … You can do lots of different things, and you can write it off and expense it in one year….”  I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most.”

“Now here’s the good news. We’ve created associations, millions of people are joining associations. Millions. That were formerly in Obamacare or didn’t have insurance. Or didn’t have health care. Millions of people. That’s gonna be a big bill, you watch. It could be as high as 50 percent of the people. You watch. So that’s a big thing. And the individual mandate. So now you have associations, and people don’t even talk about the associations. That could be half the people are going to be joining up. … With private [inaudible]. So now you have associations and the individual mandate.”

“I’m always moving. I’m moving in both directions. We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain. The chain is the last guy that killed. … [Talking with guests.] … The last guy that killed the eight people. … [Inaudible.] … So badly wounded people. … “

“China. … China’s been. … I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China. You know that. The presentations. … One of the great two days of anybody’s life and memory having to do with China. He’s a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him, we have a great chemistry together. He’s [inaudible] of the United States. …[Inaudible.] China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?”

“And, by the way, it’s not a tweet. It’s social media, and it gets out in the world, and the reason I do well is that I can be treated unfairly and very dishonestly by CNN, and, you know, I have — what do have now, John, 158 million, including Facebook, including Twitter, including Instagram, including every form, I have a 158 million people. Reporting just this morning, they said 158 million. So if they a do a story that’s false, I can do something — otherwise, Andy, otherwise you just sort of walk around saying what can I do? What, am I going to have a press conference every time somebody, every time Michael writes something wrong?”

Joy Reid’s analysis:

  1. Trump speaks a lot like a child does. Lots of focus on who likes him, who loves him, who is his friend… his biographers all emphasize his deep desire to be loved & it comes through.
  2. Trump repeats whatever he is fixated on over and over again. I counted 15 “no collusion” repeats, sometimes two or three times in a single paragraph. And he keeps returning over and over again to the election and how he managed to win via the Electoral College. He’s fixated.
  3. Trump thinks being president means he can do whatever he wants. He has an autocrat’s impulse, and believes literally everyone in government, from the attorney general to every member of Congress, essentially works for him, owes him loyalty, and must “come to him” for mercy. He literally adopted a “Godfather” phraseology to all but say Democrats could have avoided blue state tax hikes via SALT if they had “come to him” to plead for his largesse. It’s a combination of the impulses of 1. and 3.
  4. Trump thinks he is still the star of a TV show, and that the media has the power to decide who wins elections, based on ratings. Seriously:
  5. Trump invents his own reality, and then states that everybody else believes his version of reality too. And since he is so transparent, it’s hard to argue that this is a strategy, rather than a form of self-delusion or just stubborn refusal to accept what is real.

Reading the entire transcript of the interview shows the rambling as DDT interrupted his comments to chat with people around him in the Grill Room and repeated himself. It’s a frightening episode in DDT’s record and one that the aides are going to be covering up for a long time. If the NYT releases the entire transcript, people may see more evidence of DDT’s ranting delusions, lack of focus, and repetitions.

DDT wants attention, and this interview will provide it. He may not like the kind of attention he gets.

December 23, 2017

The Christian War on Christmas

For centuries, fundamentalist Christians avoided any involvement in politics. During Ronald Reagan’s campaign, however, Republicans decided to use evangelicals to get their candidate elected, and these Christians have increasingly left their biblical religion to move to a political religion. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has raised this avoidance of traditional Christian values to a high. This year, he and other Republicans spread the lies about the use of “Merry Christmas,” telling people that it had been banned and that President Obama never used the term. Videos prove them wrong, but facts don’t dissuade fundamentalist Christian beliefs, especially because the Fox seasonal message began with the term “War on Christmas.”

The politicization of Christmas, as shown by this billboard, is in keeping with the rest of the Republicans. More confirmation of the GOP lie comes from the political group America First Policies that is spending $1 million for a pro-DDT A pro-Trump nonprofit says it is spending $1 million to air a new pro-Trump ad concluding with a little girl saying, “Thank you President Trump for letting us say ‘Merry Christmas’ again!” The ad also thank DDT for “reminding us to stand for our national anthem.”

DDT goes beyond politics to capitalism with his baseball cap, embroidered with colored lights on “Make America Great Again” and “Merry Christmas” on the back. Selling for $45, the cap is all sold out, but you can still get one from eBay for $150.

Six years ago, DDT tweeted the lie, “What a convenient mistake: @BarackObama issued a statement for Kwanza [sic] but failed to issue one for Christmas.” Tweeting about Kwanzaa did not preclude President Obama from also sending his last Merry Christmas message with the image below.

 

 

“The best part of the holidays is the time we share with those we love. On behalf of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, Merry Christmas everyone.”

Chris Hayes has put together a number of video clips showing President Obama saying “Merry Christmas.” (Check out the last minute for this montage.) Meanwhile, tweets from Ivanka Trump and her brother Eric trumpet “Happy Holidays!” (And yes, Ivanka Trump is Jewish.)  Despite DDT’s concentration on the word “Christmas,” the invitations for the White House parties called the event a “Holiday Reception.”

Christmas celebrations for DDT’s first term were similar in style to those of past years but less in substance. DDT’s events were also less attended as shown by this visual from the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. It’s like the difference between inaugurations for President Obama and DDT. As you might guess, DDT’s ceremony is on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The White House decorations for DDT were sometimes a bit bizarre. The library had a “booktree” although DDT doesn’t read books. The books were purchased with a focus on the color green instead of the books’ contents, indicated by such titles as World of Golf, Tainted Evidence, and Ronin: A Marine Scout-Sniper Platoon in Iraq.” Another that may be a precursor to DDT’s term is American Mourning, how public mourning shapes politics and our future outcomes. Last year’s library decorations used the theme “Let Girls Learn” for the First Lady’s education program.

This year Melania Trump chose the theme “Time-Honored Tradition. The spooky trees in the White House East Colonnade (below left) produced a variety of humorous tweets complete with photoshopping. Tim Teeman wrote:

“Melania Trump, with what looks like the help of Tim Burton, has designed an anti-Christmas wonderland of white branches set stark against the wall and casting creepy shadows on the ceiling…. The only thing missing is a dragon breathing fire, intent on stopping you getting your hands on a magic amulet.”

In contrast is the East Colonnade decorated at Christmas in the time of President Obama.

DDT dropped his obsession with Christmas by spending his first day of that vacation at Mar-a-Lago talking about problems in North Korea and the Middle East as well as lambasting FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who he had appointed as acting FBI director after he fired James Comey. That was after he skipped over the majority of his supporters to give a massive Christmas gift to the wealthy through the tax bill that he signed yesterday.

Although fundamentalist Christians perceive DDT’s occasional fixation with saying “Merry Christmas” as a form of religious liberty, all other religions are downplayed or eliminated from notice. People who have watched politics the past year might see that there is no “War on Christmas,” but there is a war on Jews—as shown by the white supremacists marching against them—and a war on Muslims, made clear by DDT’s travel bans. People are really demanding Christian beliefs.

To feel the Christmas cheer, remember how Barack and Michelle Obama celebrate it with children. Below is President Obama a week ago taking a bag of gifts to 50 children  of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

Happy Holidays!

December 22, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-eight – A Tax Bill for the Wealthy, Another Spending Bill Continuation

Thanks to help from Democrats, the government won’t shut down for at least four weeks, and the new tax bill, signed today by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). won’t cut $125 billion in programs such as Medicare. The DOJ also can’t use federal funds to interfere with these medical programs. Missing from the bill was any reference to DACA Dreamers, young immigrants who are being deported at 122 each day because of congressional refusal to address DDT’s executive order, and the $81 billion disaster bill, lost in the shuffle. The military got a few billion, but long-term problems weren’t addressed. The stopgap spending bill, expiring on January 19, 2018, also renews CHIP, insurance for nine million children in poverty.

This week, DDT also released the 55-page security strategy, written from a hawkish “America First” rhetoric. DDT lumps Russia and China together, diminishing the chance to cooperate with China when North Korea is a grave threat. No mention, however, was made of Russia meddling in the U.S. election. Climate change was identified as an economic problem, not a security threat. Calling for incessant competition, DDT risks all agreements with foreign countries.

DDT is rapidly moving forward with his “Make America Alone” program in his altercation with the United Nations. At the request of Arab and Muslim countries, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly met in a rare emergency session for a vote on a resolution condemning the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Before the vote, DDT threatened to pull foreign aid from any nation voting for the resolution, and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated the threatening speech immediately before the vote. Eight countries voted to support the U.S. while 128 voted against DDT. Earlier all 14 nations in the UN Security Council—including Russia, China, France, UK, and Japan—voted against DDT.

Russia:

FBI senior officials warned both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign that Russians may try to spy on or infiltrate their operations and urged them to contact authorities if anything suspicious took place. Therefore, DDT was lying when he said he knew nothing about it.

Investigator Robert Mueller also knows that White House Counsel Don McGahn knew national security advisor Michael Flynn broke the law as early as January and warned DDT about Flynn’s possible violations of lying to federal investigators and the Logan Act that prevents private citizens from negotiating with foreign government.

Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and others have expressed serious concerns that GOP committee members are racing to finish their Russia investigation by the end of the year and, therefore, intentionally are over-scheduling interviews, ignoring leads, and skipping important details.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared in a speech on the Senate floor, “In the United States of America, no one is above the law, not even the president.” He called the attacks on Robert Mueller irresponsible partisanship and warned that firing Mueller could amount to a constitutional crisis. “Interfering with his investigation by issuing pardons of essential witnesses, is unacceptable, and would have immediate and significant consequences,” Warner stated.

Negative media about Mueller thrived on texts from a former team member, Peter Strzok, that criticized DDT. The DOJ, however, has not explained why only 350 of 10,000 text messages were leaked—or what was in the other 9,650 texts.

To further discredit Mueller, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), banned from leading an investigation into DDT’s collusion with Russia, has secretly formed a coalition of House Republicans to build a case with classified information that senior members of the DOJ and FBI mishandled the contents of a dossier describing ties between DDT and Russia. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has called for FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe to be fired. During the past few weeks, the GOP panicky attacks about the investigation grow as  revelations about discoveries of collusion emerge.

AG Jeff Sessions has ordered prosecutors to investigate his totally debunked accusation that Hillary Clinton obtained a large donation to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for selling 20 percent of U.S. He swore under oath that he could recuse himself from any issues regarding Russia, Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton Foundation. Lying under oath is a felony, subject to up to five years in prison, and Sessions voted in 1999 to remove a president from office for allegedly violating that law.

Appointments:

Matthew Peterson, the Trump judicial nominee who couldn’t answer basic legal questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, has withdrawn his nomination.

All DDT’s unconfirmed nominees cannot be held over after this year without a unanimous consent on each from the Senate. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) has notified the White House that he will not approve Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) into 2018.  DDT could retain the woman called “apologist for polluters” as senior advisor because the confirmation does not require confirmation.

K.T. McFarland, former deputy national security advisor, may not be confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore after she told senators that she didn’t know anything about Michael Flynn’s contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Court documents show that she is lying.

In a 10-13 vote, the Senate Banking Committee rejected Scott Garrett, DDT’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank. The former New Jersey representative had pushed to disband the Ex-Im Bank which lends money to foreign buyers to promote U.S. exports.

Sexual Misconduct:

Alex Kozinski, a Reagan appointed judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, resigned after the initiation of a judicial investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct by 15 women.

Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is putting the team up for sale after the NFL began an investigation of his sexually suggestive comments and inappropriate touching as well as racial slurs.

Florida state Sen. Jack Latvaia resigned from his candidacy for governor after reports of sexual harassment and demeaning, vulgar comments to female staffers.  He could also face charges for criminal bribery, unlawful compensation, or even extortion for trading legislative support for sex with a lobbyist.

Singer-songwriter Joy Villa has accused Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, of sexual misconduct.

DDT is wooing Jewish voters and practicing his pardoning by commuting the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, convicted in 2009 for money laundering and finance fraud regarding his massive kosher slaughterhouse, Agriprocessors, in Postville (IA). In a 2008 raid, immigration officials arrested 389 illegal immigrants working there.

Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló ordered a recount of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria. The official count is 64, but 1,065 more people died than usual during September and October than in earlier years. One third of the island still lacks power, 93 days after the disaster. After the financially punitive action taken by Congress toward the island, Rosselló said he will encourage the 5.3 million Puerto Ricans living across the mainland to vote out House Republicans in 14 different states.

As with all disasters, DDT politicized this week’s tragic train wreck south of Seattle when the first train on the newly furbished track to save ten minutes from another route blew through a 30-mph zoned curve at 80 mph and crashed down on the freeway below. DDT wrote that it “shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!”

DDT’s arguments have several problems:

  • DDT wants the military budget expanded by more than ten percent.
  • DDT’s budget slashes federal aid to U.S. rail systems.
  • The route got $181 million from the 2010 budget stimulus.
  • The engineer failed to brake when the train was going almost three times the speed limit.
  • An infrastructure plan doesn’t exist.
  • DDT’s tax plan already puts the nation into $1.5 trillion more debt.
  • DDT’s only infrastructure plan is to make states and localities responsible and blame them if they don’t have the money for improvement.
  • The train lacked technology to slow or stop trains going too fast. Congress had mandated the Positive Train Control in 2008 with a deadline by 2015 but had postponed the requirement until 2018 because railroad companies complained about the requirement and refused to sufficiently fund the technology that could save lives.

A second federal judge has struck down DDT’s executive order allowing employers to deny birth control coverage in insurance, and a circuit court has supported three lower courts in mandating military recruitment of transgender people.

The first trial against protesters against DDT’s inauguration was a giant victory for the U.S. people: all six defendants were found not guilty of all charges while almost 200 others are still waiting prosecution. All had been circled by the police and arrested en masse. DOJ had admitted it had no evidence of the six defendants destroying property but accused them as part of a rioting conspiracy. The trial may have been protection for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department that violated city regulations on handling demonstrations.

In a June poll, 90 percent of respondents who said they trust Fox over other news networks viewed Trump favorably, but approval fell to 74 percent in October and decreased to 58 percent in December. Fox viewers who strongly approved of Trump’s job performance dropped from 55 percent in March to 32 percent in October.

DDT finally got his first major win in 334 days and personally came out at least $15 million ahead. Now the Republicans are looking for ways to get votes in 2018.

[Update: DDT’s first 334–not 303–days.]

December 21, 2017

Disastrous Tax Bill Leads to GOP Fractures over Spending Bill

In their contempt for democracy, the Republicans, the epitome of “makers” exploiting the so-called “takers,” passed their social reform bill in the dead of night to benefit large businesses and wealthy people. The process, carried out in great haste with extreme chaos and negligence, allowed for neither hearings nor debate—not even the opportunity for congressional members to examine the 1,097 pages. If one considers democracy, the way that Republicans passed the bill may be even worse than the contents. If the tax bill were a good deal for most of the people in the U.S., Republicans wouldn’t have to lie about it. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) summarized the GOP position when he said, “It’s always fun when you win” about his defeat of the people who voted for him. “Fun” also means that he gained billions of dollars from the tax bill.

“Fun” for DDT also means destroying Puerto Rico. The tax bill requires the federal government to treat the territory in the same way that it treats foreign countries in bringing operations and jobs to the U.S. from overseas. Forty-seven percent of PR’s GDP comes from manufacturing, primarily pharmaceuticals and medical devices generating revenue from patented drugs and technologies. The 12.5 percent tax levied against profits in PR for “intangible assets” of U.S. companies abroad plus a minimum of ten percent tax on their profits abroad, as in foreign countries, means that businesses will pay more to operate in PR than on the U.S. mainland. It will cost U.S. citizens their jobs and destroy PR’s economy after DDT went to the island to complain about the cost of recovery from Hurricane Maria, something he did not do at any of the summer’s disasters on the mainland.

DDT may not have his “fun” of signing the bill until January 3 because he is afraid to let the 2010 “pay-as-you-go” law automatically cut Medicare and other programs. These would take effect in 2018 if he signed it in 2017. To avoid bad press, he is hoping that Congress will waive these cuts by 2019. Spending caps went into effect under a GOP-created law in 2011 and have received two two-year waivers–also from the GOP. The most recent one expired on October 1, 2017, and Republicans didn’t get around to lifting it again.

To pass the waiver, the GOP needs Democrats who are raw from the GOP pushing through the tax bill and plan to negotiate for restoration of the health-insurance mandate, due to expire in 2019. The schedule is not set, but Congress will most likely not pass this bill by the end of this week while they struggle with other expiring laws, like the spending bill that keeps the government from shutting down.

One vote to transfer the Great Society into Ayn Rand’s idea of plutocracy came from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) who earlier gained the support of her constituents when she refused to vote for an earlier bill because it would drive at least 13 million people off health insurance. The new bill does the same thing, but she claimed that her vote was okay because Congress would shore health insurance markets and undo Medicare cuts guaranteed by the tax bill that she supported with her vote. Even after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that the House wouldn’t support the deal, she voted for the tax bill. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who made the promise to Collins, is not known for truthfulness. Collins decried media coverage as “unbelievably sexist” because it describes her as being “duped.” She may have to eat her words after discovering that’s exactly what happened.

After the beautiful togetherness and self-backslapping of GOP leaders following the tax bill’s passage, Republicans are back to fighting over the spending bill that must be passed in two days to avoid a government shutdown. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) described the altercation following the joint communion for the tax bill:

“It’s kind of like leaving the hospital, just finding out you’re cancer free, and getting run over by a Mack truck.”

Ryan already refused to allow Collins’ funding for the Affordable Care Act in this year’s spending package. Gone—at least temporarily—is the agreement for legislation to reduce health care premiums for nine million people without government subsidies. House Republicans refuse to address Collins’ proposal to continue the health care subsidies without attaching Hyde Amendment language prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion. Democrats oppose this demand because it expands the existing amendment by discouraging private insurers from covering abortions. Insurers must keep funds for insurer subsidies separate from abortion services, but Republicans want more. Many Republicans are totally against the ACA, and abortion makes a good excuse to block Collins’ proposal. Collins and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have withdrawn their bill for these subsidies until next year’s full spending bill.

The stopgap also fails to address funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) reauthorization and funding for Community Health Centers. Without CHIP, nine million children lose their health insurance, even those in the middle of such serious problems as cancer treatment.

In the Senate, at least eight Democrats or independents must support all Republicans for a stopgap measure to overcome a filibuster. Without a stopgap measure, the federal government shuts down at midnight Friday. GOP leaders want a bill that expires on January 19, 2018 to stop the shutdown. They call is the “CRomnibus” proposal, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has other names for it:

“Some people are calling it the ‘punt’-ibus, just punt this down the road. I call it the ‘none’-tibus because it’s not going anywhere.”

The GOP House leadership had trouble with its representatives from large blue states because the tax bill penalized their residents disproportionately by reducing deductions for state property and income taxes. Now GOP representatives from Texas and Florida are opposing a bill without the $81 billion disaster bill. Lawmakers in states badly hit by hurricanes vow to stay in Washington until they get their disaster funding. Conservatives object because the disaster relief isn’t paid for by cuts in other parts of the budget, a scenario that takes everyone back to the fight over funding after Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast. Democrats in the Senate oppose the disaster bill because, according to the Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “still does not treat Puerto Rico, California and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Florida and Texas.”

In another contentious issue, the GOP had planned to take a separate vote tomorrow to reauthorize Section 702 spying powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for three weeks. After opposition from the Freedom Caucus today, that plan was dropped. Schumer agreed, saying that they need a clean spending bill:

“We cannot do a short-term funding bill that picks and chooses what problems to solve. We have to do them all together, instead of in a piecemeal fashion. It has to be a truly global deal. We can’t leave any of those issues behind.”

The Republicans claim that they can’t shut down the government because it would ruin their win with the tax bill. They have 48 hours pass a bill in the House, send it to the Senate who might make changes if they pass it and then send it back to the House who will then have to agree. That’s before the bill gets sent to the president for signing. The 2880 minutes are ticking away.

December 19, 2017

Tax Bill a Lump of Coal for the Holidays

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 10:05 PM
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During his campaign, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promised to bring coal back, and he’s lived up to his promise: most people in the United States will get a lump of coal in their holiday stockings, thanks to DDT and the GOP. This morning, 227 Republicans passed a disastrous social reform bill, masked as tax cuts, in opposition to all Democrats and 12 other Republicans. Their desire was to “do something,” just as serial killers want credit for their negative actions. GOP leadership is preening over a bill that has only 33 percent support among the public with 66 percent of the nation knowing that it benefits the wealthy rather than the middle and lower classes.

After its success in the House, the tax bill ran into a small glitch because the rush in the Senate kept it from living up to requirements that would avoid any filibustering. Tonight the Senate is working on a revised bill that will go back to the House after it passes the Senate. There is little hope that the bill will fail.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) claims that the GOP made major accomplishments in 2017. Other than potentially passing a bill with less than one-third approval and packing the courts with judges who believe in discrimination, the GOP Congress has no other successes. The greatest accomplishments have been in energizing the Democrats. Thus far they have far more viable candidates than the Republicans and flipped the Virginia House of Delegates with a 50-50 tie between the two parties. The last recount resulted in a Democrat winning by one vote to change 16 seats from red to blue. [Update: After a court decided that one of the the discounted votes is for a Republican, the result is a tie. In that case, the winner may be chosen by drawing a name for a glass bowl. The loser may then seek a second recount. A Republican win would leave the Virginia House of Delegates with a 51-49 majority for the GOP.]

McConnell blamed the negative polling for his tax bill on the press and Democratic resistance. Yet the media, except for the far-right such as Fox and Breitbart, publishes the facts—such as the revisions of the bill to capture both chambers of Congress gives 83 percent of the tax cuts to the top 1 percent by 2027, an increase of 62.1 percent with the original Senate bill. Over one half the people in the United States will pay more in taxes. Even in the bill’s first year, the top 20 percent gets almost two-thirds of the bill’s benefit.

The tax cut fails four Republican rules:

  • It increases the debt by at least $1.5 trillion—or possibly more.
  • It doesn’t benefit the middle class.
  • The wealthiest, including DDT), are the primary beneficiaries.
  • It likely won’t supercharge the economy, according to independent experts in the field.

DDT had promised to get rid of the carried interest loophole that gives massive tax breaks to managers of private equity funds, venture capital funds, and hedge funds. Instead of paying taxes at the higher rate of ordinary income, they can use the low rates of capital gains. The new tax bill allows them to continue saving money with that practice if they hold the investment for at least three years.

House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed that the bill would deliver revenue neutrality, simplicity, and fairness. None of those happened—not even simplicity. The tax bill still has seven tax brackets, and the revision of “pass-though” income in businesses confuses even most tax experts. The business revision will create many jobs for people who magically become independent contractors or part of LLCs.

Fairness? The bill gives breaks to businesses owned by trusts. The marriage penalty returns because the maximum deduction of ten thousand dollars for state and local taxes is the same for individual filers and for couples. And far more.

Robert Reich lists other flaws in GOP arguments about their tax plan:

It won’t make U.S. corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate. (1) With all the loopholes for U.S. corporations, they pay the same as foreign-based corporations. (2) Most other countries require a “Value Added Tax” on top of the tax. (3) Other countries will cut their tax rates to be competitive. (4) Most corporations benefiting aren’t “American” because over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign, 20 percent of the employees are foreign, and U.S. citizens work for foreign-based corporations. (5) The “competitiveness” of U.S. corporations depends on U.S. workers, diminished in education, health, and infrastructure through shrinking public investments. (6) Profits of U.S. corporations, already at record levels, are used to buy back stocks and raise executive pay—the same thing that corporations will do with the $1 trillion that the GOP is giving them.

Big corporations and the rich won’t use the investment to invest and create more jobs. (1) Job creation doesn’t trickle down as proved by Reagan and George W. Bush’s tax cuts. (2) Demand for goods and services causes corporate expansion and new jobs. The middle class and poor could provide this demand if they had additional money, but the rich, far more benefited by the bill, won’t create this demand. (3) Financing the wealthy by losing health coverage for 13 million low-income people and subsequent cuts in Social Security and Medicare won’t create more jobs.

Small businesses will have no incentive to invest and create more jobs. (1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate. (2) The larger rewards for big business will give them more ability to squeeze out small firms and force them out of business.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin repeated the myth that “wages will go up” because of “lowering business taxes.” Businessman and former mayor Michael Bloomberg said that “sitting on a record amount of cash reserves: nearly $2.3 trillion. It’s pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.”

A prize last-minute tweak that originally appeared in neither the House nor the Senate costs less-advantaged people $418 billion. Known as the “Corker Kickback,” because Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) was against the bill until that provision was put in, allows real-estate developers through LLCs to deduct twenty percent of the income that these properties generate. Corker denies that he knew about that provision in the bill because he hadn’t read it before he changed his vote. Corker said: “Deficits matter. They’re a greater threat to us than North Korea or [the Islamic State].” Now he’s willing to take almost $2 million away from poorer people with his vote for the tax bill. Only the Republicans could turn tax cuts into such an unpopular bill.

Corker isn’t alone in supporting the bill that pays him back. Twenty-three other leading GOP lawmakers responsible for crafting the bill will also see this windfall, but they were supporting the tax bill before the change.

DDT will make even more money off this part of the tax bill. Once the tax bill goes into effect, people who voted for DDT may have concrete proof of how he and the GOP will cheat them just as DDT swindled contractors without promised pay or students at Trump University with dishonest marketing. Without DDT’s releasing his tax returns, people are highly unlikely to believe that his own taxes are going up, a claim that received four Pinocchios for falsehood.

Vice President Mike Pence also lied about the tax bill to avoid going to the Middle East at this time. It’s natural that he would want to avoid the hostility that he would face after DDT claimed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the Western Wall as belonging to Israel. Thus Pence said he was postponing the trip to break a tie on the bill. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has gone back to Arizona for the holidays and won’t be present for the vote. That leaves 99 people left in the Senate for the vote, making a tie impossible.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) tried to blame Democrats for any of the bill’s problems. The GOP refused to allow any participation from Dems, and it is doubtful that Dems could keep Republicans from paying back all the wealthy donors who have been buying the GOP for years.

DDT supporters are clinging to their choice, many of them even with the possibility of paying higher taxes and health care premiums. Will they stay loyal when DDT breaks another campaign promise and tries to take away some of their Social Security and Medicare?

[Update: After a court decided that one of the the discounted votes is for a Republican, the result is a tie. In that case, the winner may be chosen by drawing a name for a glass bowl. The loser may then seek a second recount. A Republican win would leave the Virginia House of Delegates with a 51-49 majority for the GOP.]

December 17, 2017

Jerusalem Decision Continues to Rankle

Jerusalem continues to stay in the news as leaders of 57 Islam nations have declared East Jerusalem the Palestinian capital. Turkey, chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, hosted the summit meeting in Istanbul. The nations also condemned actions of Dictator Donald Trump to change the status of Jerusalem as a “unilateral” and “dangerous declaration” as well as an announcement that the U.S. was withdrawing as a sponsor of peace for the region.

In another objection to DDT’s declaration on December 6, 2017 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, Ali Salam, mayor of the Israeli town of Nazareth, said that Christmas celebrations were canceled.  He has withdrawn the statement, but the objection still exists. Nazareth, home to Jesus during his youth, is now a town of 76,000, about 80 percent Arab. “Christ”mas celebrations in Nazareth seem to focus on Santa Claus.

Determined to create more problems in the Middle East, DDT may follow his officials in their view that the Western Wall will also be declared a part of Israel. The contradictory position is that borders of the city must be determined through Palestine-Israel negotiations but refuse to accept any position in which Israel doesn’t control the Wall. The sacred location is outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders and is next to Islam’s most revered sites.

VP Mike Pence is headed for the Wall on his trip this week. He will be accompanied by a rabbi, similar to DDT’s trip last May. Pence will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will no longer meet with Pence after DDT tried to give Jerusalem to Israel.

Until DDT, the United States has not recognized Israel sovereignty over the Old City, territory occupied in 1967 and home to valued Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious sites. Israel controls the Western Wall, a retaining wall from the biblical Jewish Temple, and holds state ceremonies there. Nearby is the hilltop Noble Sanctuary, the third holiest Islam site, and the Temple Mount, considered the holiest site in Judaism.

Thousands around the world continue to protest DDT’s announcement, and DDT is the object of satire.

The UN Security Council plans to vote tomorrow on a resolution requesting the withdrawal of DDT’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. The draft U.N. text expresses “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.” It “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” The resolution also asks countries to not establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and “demands that all states comply with Security Council resolutions regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, and not to recognize any actions or measures contrary to those resolutions.”

A UN Security Council resolution adopted in December 2016 “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” The resolution passed with 14 votes in favor and an abstention from the U.S.

The current resolution will fail because it cannot pass with a veto from the United States, but a majority vote will further isolate the U.S.

Jerusalem was granted special status in 1947, placed under international sovereignty and control, because of its religious importance to all three Abrahamic religions. Zionist forces took over the western half of the city in 1948, and Israel captured the eastern half in 1967. In 1980, Israel declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel” in the “Jerusalem Law.” The UN declared that law “null and void” through the passage of Resolution 478; international law maintains that an occupying power cannot have sovereignty in the territory it occupies.

Israel gives citizenship only to Jews in East Jerusalem. The 420,000 Palestinians lack any citizenship, even of Jordan or Palestine. They are treated as foreign immigrants and required to fulfil requirements to maintain their residency status, including proof that they have lived there continuously for a specific period of time. For proof, they must submit many documents including title deeds, rent contracts, and salary information. Citizenship from another country revokes their status to residency. All Jews in the world, however, may live in Israel and obtain Israeli citizenship.

The UN also considers Israel’s settlement in East Jerusalem to be illegal, directly contravening the fourth Geneva Convention preventing an occupying country from transferring its population to occupied territory. Reasons include a temporary occupation that cannot use military rule to establish a long-term presence, protection of occupied civilians from theft of resources, demographic changes in the territory. Despite international law, Israel has built over a dozen housing complexes, or settlements, in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods, and 200,000 Israeli citizens live there under army and police protection, infringing on Palestinian rights.

Israel already forces Palestinians to suffer from apartheid while DDT makes the situation worse as The New York Times describes:

“The president [has] made a typically grandiose and poorly thought-through political gesture to domestic supporters — in this case, those who staunchly back Israel’s hard-line Likud government.”

December 16, 2017

DDT: Week Forty-seven – Sexual Misconduct Stays in News

The biggest news against Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) was Roy Moore’s loss in the race for Alabama’s U.S. senator, making the second loss for DDT in the election after Luther Strange lost the primary. Roy Moore won’t concede the election after losing by 1.5 points, claiming that he’ll win with military and provisional votes. He’s asking for donations for an “election integrity fund,” but probably not because Alabama is one of the worst states in the nation for voter suppression. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is dragging his feet in seating Sen. Doug Jones while pushing the tax bill before Strange departs. Seven years ago, McConnell pushed the seating of Scott Brown, a new GOP senator, to vote for the Affordable Care Act.

DDT’s false claims about Russian not meddling in the U.S. presidential election has been declared the lie of the year. The House Judiciary Committee failed to get FBI Director Christopher Wray to denounce the FBI and then grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about whether he would fire special investigator Robert Mueller. Rosenstein said he would not without good cause, which he does not have at this time. DDT has never hosted a Cabinet meeting about Russian interference in the U.S. election, and White House staff are not allowed to speak about the subject.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that he would talk diplomacy with North Korea “without precondition” for three days until he reversed his position to say that North Korea must “earn its way” by stopping its nuclear threats.

The week’s mystery is John Kelly’s ejection of former Apprentice star Omarosa Manigault Newman from the White House. The Secret Service denied that they escorted her off the premises, but she isn’t allowed to return before her last day on January 20, 2018. Steve Benen lists the major disappearances since January 20, 2017. Omarosa’s fame came from her statement that everyone “will have to bow down to President Trump. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

Appointments:

The Senate has confirmed three lifetime appointments for the U.S. Circuit Courts and Court of Appeals:

  • Leonard Steven Grasz – Unanimously rated “not qualified by American Bar Association and supports the teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies;
  • Don Willett – Bases judicial decisions on personal anti-LGBTQ and anti-worker views;
  • James Ho – Wants to “abolish all restrictions on campaign finance,” defends torture, and opposes LGBTQ rights.  sides with teaching of creationism and anti-LGBTQ policies.

FEC Member Matthew Petersen has never tried any case, argued a case in state or federal court, and deposed anyone by himself. During a confirmation hearing, he could not define basic legal terms such as the Daubert standard, motion in limine, motion in limit, the Younger abstention doctrine, and the Pullman abstention doctrine. He claims to understand “the challenge” if he were named the U.S. District Court judgeship for the District of Columbia and thinks that he is qualified.

Michael Dourson backed out of the nomination for U.S. top regulator of toxic chemicals. He ran a consulting company that defended toxic chemicals on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and DuPont and advocates weaker chemical safety standards.

After Moore lost the Senate race in Alabama, Sen. Chuck Grassley pulled two of DDT’s judicial nominees from consideration. Jeff Mateer, DDT’s pick for the Eastern District of Texas, and Brett Talley, a choice for Alabama, both made comments supporting discriminatory groups or policies. Talley, whose wife works for White House counsel, had been considered “not qualified” by the American Bar Association and defended judicial discrimination, including against transgender people. Grassley pled ignorance about these problems despite wide media coverage about them.

Moving Forward:

DDT failed to kill “Obamacare” despite eliminating almost all funding for ads and assistance plus considerably shortening the signup time. This year’s enrollment is almost equal to that of last year. DDT has refused to extend the deadline even one day after December 15 although it has been extended to January 31 of the next year in the past.

Thanks to U.S. District Judge Wendy, Beetlestone, DDT’s rules of employers’ “religious or moral” exceptions to contraception which prevent its no-cost coverage are blocked nationwide during trials from lawsuits against them.

DDT thought that he would kill the nuclear deal with Iran, but because Congress failed to take action in 60 days, the agreement stays in force.

Thirteen U.S. scientists received “Make the Planet Great Again” grants from France’s President Emmanuel Macron, offered after DDT said that the U.S. was backing out of the Paris climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Grants were awarded to five other scientists in other parts of the world.

Assaulters of the week:

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) won’t be seeking reelection. He’s joined by Ruben Kihuen (D-NV). That makes seven congressional members going or gone thus far because of sexual misconduct—four Republicans and three Democrats.

Chief Justice Sidney R. Thomas of the 9th Circuit Court has asked that one of his judges, Reagan appointee Alex Kozinski, be investigated by another court for complaints of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women have accused Kozinski of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. Dahlia Lithwick wrote about her experience 20 years ago with Kozinski when she was clerking for then Chief Justice Judge Procter Hug of the 9th Circuit Court.

Accused of sexual crimes and misconduct including sexual assault of a teenager, Kentucky state GOP Rep. Dan Johnson killed himself. Four of his Republican colleagues have also been accused of sexual misconduct. The House Speaker has already resigned. Johnson’s enabler wife plans to replace Johnson in the legislature.

DDT Tweets:

About a senator’s statements call for investigating sexual misconduct allegations against DDT: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America, called DDT’s tweet “clearly sexual” and “demeaning to women.” DDT has not responded to the same request from male Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Fifty-nine women congressional members have formally requested the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate allegations of DDT’s sexual misconduct. From an editorial by the conservative USA Today:

“A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”

About women accusing DDT of sexual assault: “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Witnesses, videos, and photographs show that he is lying.

The funniest one comes from DDT’s namesake, Donald Jr.: “I would pay good money to see all those people complaining about Obama’s FCC chairman voting to repeal #NetNeutality actually explain it in detail. I’d also bet most hadn’t heard of it before this week. #outrage.” Ajit Pai is DDT’s FCC chairman, appointed in January, and millions of people know about net neutrality because they made public comments to stop its loss. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, joined by attorneys general from at least 18 states, plans a lawsuit to keep net neutrality. At least 83 percent of people oppose the commission’s decision; even three-fourths of Republicans don’t agree with losing net neutrality. The FCC net neutrality repeal cannot go into effect until it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget—which could take months.  The industry’s argument for Pai’s change of “freedom” of the net only allows corporations to control what people watch and overcharge customers.

Moving Backward:

DDT has erased rules that tried to prevent explosive train wrecks.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has authored a huge higher education bill that guarantees colleges and universities can discriminate against LGBTQ students without danger of losing federal funds under the guise of religious freedom. The bill also removes protections for victims of campus sexual assault.

In the trial of six protesters on DDT’s inauguration day, the judge eliminated one of the eight charges and lowered the maximum penalty from 60 years. In its closing argument, DOJ admitted that it had no evidence that the people on trial had committed acts of violence or vandalism or planned the protest march, but they incited others by wearing black. The lawyer also accused two of the defendants who gave medical assistance as being “prepared for war … “to mend them and get them up on their way.” Deliberations are scheduled for late next week.

DDT socialist move will let restaurant owners make servers share their tips with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers means that the employers, who are not required to distribute the tips, can pocket $5.8 billion a year. Comments are due by February 5, 2018.

Four Trumps failed to successfully vote absentee in a New York mayoral election on November 7:

  • Melania didn’t sign her envelope.
  • Ivanka didn’t mail her ballot until Election Day—too late for counting.
  • Jared Kushner didn’t return his ballot.
  • DDT put his wrong date of birth on his application for an absentee ballot.

DDT’s continued approval rating of 32 percent is near the tipping point of leadership failure at 30 percent.

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