Nel's New Day

May 10, 2018

Recent Federal Departures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , ,

The last two weeks have seen an inordinate number of people moved out of the government with very few arriving. (Another breakdown of disappearances from the White House.) One person did manage to keep his job.

Rev. Pat Conroy is back as U.S. House chaplain after a serious backlash to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) firing him. Ryan said that he was dissatisfied with Conroy’s “pastoral services,” but GOP evangelicals said that they wanted a Protestant instead of a Catholic in the job.  Conroy had prayed before the tax bill that lawmakers guarantee “there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.” Ryan warned Conroy to “stay out of politics.” Because the chaplain is selected by a majority vote of House members, Ryan couldn’t fire anyone in that position. Conroy was sworn back in on May 8, 2018, almost seven years after his first swearing in on May 25, 2011 after a unanimous vote. His prayer this week when House members returned from their week off:

“As the members return to Washington, may they be encouraged and empowered by their constituents to be their best selves in serving in the people’s House. May the disagreements that seem to perjure give way to good faith efforts to find solutions to the issues facing our nation in a manner consistent with the great traditions of our republican form of government.”

New York AG Eric Schneiderman has resigned. The man who was supposed to try DDT if he pardoned himself from federal charges has been accused of emotionally and physically abusing at least four women. One person suggested for replacing Schneiderman is Alphonso David, a gay man whose immigrant parents sought asylum from a military coup in Liberia. Another possibility, former U.S. attorney and aggressive prosecutor Preet Bharara, was fired last year by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) while Bharara was investigating former HHS Secretary Tom Price. At that time, DDT’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz patted himself on the back for the firing.

Thomas Homan, DDT’s pick for the head of ICE who enthusiastically attacked immigrants, has resigned because he feels left out of administrative decisions. HHS has consistently failed to provide necessary information for a confirmation hearing, and Homan decided to spend more time with his family. Or he may find a more lucrative job: his predecessor, Daniel Ragsdale, works for GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison and detention company. Under Homan, ICE forced separation of immigrant families in detention, tripled arrests of undocumented people without criminal records, prevented pregnant women in detention from appropriate health care, mistakenly arrested almost 1,500 people, and lost almost 1,500 immigrant children last year who were separated from their parents.

Dr. Jennifer Peña, VP Mike Pence’s doctor, disappeared as collateral damage from the controversy about DDT’s doctor, Ronny Jackson, that caused him to withdraw his name as nominee for VA Secretary. Last fall, she was among those who accused Jackson of workplace misconduct for possibly violating federal privacy protections in sharing medical details about Pence’s wife, Karen Pence.

Jackson is also gone as DDT’s personal physician. Also apparently gone are DDT’s medical records. Dr. Harold Bornstein, DDT’s former personal physician, said that DDT’s bodyguard Keith Schiller, who became director of Oval Office operations, seized all DDT-related medical records two days after Bornstein told a newspaper that he prescribed hair growth medication for DDT. Schiller had no form authorizing his action, thereby violating HIPAA, a 1996 privacy health care law. DDT is using the Jackson scandal to attack Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), up for re-election this year, but Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), also on the Veterans Affairs Committee as chairman, called foul and brought out the story of Jackson violating Karen Pence’s federal privacy protections. No nominee for Veterans Affairs has appeared although last week’s rumors suggested John Kelly so that DDT could get rid of him as chief of staff.

Lawyer Ty Cobb left DDT’s legal team just as Rudy Giuliani came on. Giuliani unexpectedly quit his job with law firm Greenberg Traurig, that became irritated by Giuliani’s insinuation the firm pays hush money for clients without their knowledge.

Emmitt Flood, recently hired for the legal team, represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment in the late 1990s. DDT’s legal team has no member with a security clearance to handle information in the Russian investigation and Mueller’s negotiations. With 4,095 lawsuits before his election, DDT settled lawsuits since then about a campaign aide leaking to the press, fraud at his university, and a restaurant deal in Washington. His former campaign head has been indicted, three advisers including the one for national security have pled guilty to federal charges, and a porn star and an Apprentice star are suing him for defamation. His son-in-law may be investigated for a bank loan, and his personal lawyer has had his office raided for federal agents.

James Baker, FBI’s top lawyer, and Liz Page, legal adviser to former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe, have resigned. Baker will write for the Brookings Institution’s Lawfare blog.

EPA media aide John Konkus was the fourth aide to resign last week and the second in the media department. He follows resignations by EPA communications head, Liz Bowman and political aides Albert Kelly and Pasquale Perrotta as well as 700 other EPA employees. James Hewitt, son of Pruitt-defender Hugh Hewitt, columnist for Washington Post, and radio host for MSNBC remains at the agency. A friend of Pruitt, the elder Hewitt lobbied to clean up a toxic waste area near his California home. Scott Pruitt may be behind recent negative stories about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Elaine Plott reported in The Atlantic that Michael Abboud, one of Pruitt’s press team, passed these stories about Zinke to several media outlets after an Interior staffer worked with former EPA deputy chief of staff Kevin Chmielewski to do the same for the EPA.  Pruitt has added a 14th investigation to his list of woes because he granted a financial hardship waiver to Carl Icahn’s oil refinery. The former DDT adviser left after he made more billions from his advice about investments. In this case, Icahn gains tens of millions of dollars from a regulation meant to help the environment and support corn farmers.

Michael Roman, the Koch brothers’ follower who was hired to vet judicial nominees for White House counselor Don McGahn, has left the WH sinking ship. Most people have never heard of Roman because he’s been secretive since he started working for DDT’s campaign. The primary requirement in selecting DDT’s nominees is loyalty to DDT by doing exactly what he wants and never having said anything negative about him. DDT picked Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State because he admired Tillerson’s swagger and business acumen, and he briefly chose Victoria Toensng and Josephn DiGenova because they defended him on television. Rob Porter, ousted for domestic abuse against two ex-wives, had no vetting file, and early choices only needed to be military generals. A White House official described DDT’s process as “ready, shoot, aim” because DDT announces his choices before they have been vetted. (A better description might be “shoot, ready, aim.”)

Gina Haspel, nominee for CIA director, threatened to withdraw her name last Friday, but DDT convinced her to stay. She worried about the confirmation hearing because she supported torture and destroyed videos showing U.S. torturing at a black site, the secret CIA detention facility in Thailand. Pressure during her hearings included questions from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a former prosecutor, especially the one about whether “the previous interrogation techniques were immoral.” Haspel tried to connect these techniques to preventing further attacks, something never proved. A review of her statements indicates contradictions: she stated that torture did not elicit useful information but believes that it helps prevent further attacks. She said that she wouldn’t restart the torture program but nothing about continuing it. She also said that she would not ask the CIA to do anything “immoral” but refused to answer a question about whether these “interrogations” are immoral. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) issued a statement that “her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying.” After McCain’s statements, Kelly Sadler, who helps manage talking points for DDT allies, said in a White House meeting with two dozen staffers that McCain’s statement “doesn’t matter, he’s “dying anyway.”

Despite the objections of the only senator who has ever been tortured, Haspel will probably be confirmed, joining Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton to become DDT’s triumvirate of war mongering. Other vile comments about McCain show the conservatives’ moral deficiency. Fox guest retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney tried to use McCain as an example of how torture works. He said:

“The fact is, is John McCain — it worked on John. That’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.’ The fact is is those methods can work and they’re effective, as former vice president [Dick] Cheney said. And if we have to use them to save a million American lives, we will do whatever we have to.”

A fact check with a great deal of evidence shows that McInerney’s claim, based on a false flyer to denigrate McCain during his presidential run, is wrong. The host of the program, Charles Payne, has issued an apology to McCain and his family, calling the comment “very false and derogatory.”

 

April 28, 2018

DDT’s Swinging Door, Legal Issues Continue

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 8:07 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The people in the world of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) keep coming and going.

Mike Pompeo, confirmed as Secretary of State with a vote of 57-42, lost votes from eight of the 14 Democrats who voted to approve him for CIA Director. Tillerson’s hiring freeze in the State Department left Pompeo several openings—eight of nine staff positions, 60 ambassadorships, and ten of 22 assistant secretary positions—leaving the Senate busy with many more confirmation hearings. He will be headed to Brussels for a NATO meeting with foreign ministers tomorrow, help DDT determine whether to close the Iran deal by May 12, and get the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, overwhelmingly condemned by the UN, open on May 14. Newly elected Doug Jones (D-AL) joined five Democrats running this year in red states.

It’s a guarantee that Pompeo will continue to eliminate reproductive rights from the annual report on human rights practices throughout the world. The 2017 report, used for decision-making, skipped such areas as “the ability of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children.” It was replaced with “coercion in population control.” Asked about the omission, State Department officials replied, “There’s still a long section on women.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), head of the so-called religious freedom party, finally forced someone out of his job in the House–Chaplain Patrick Conroy. Two possible reasons are that Conroy favored the Democrats and that conservatives were upset because Conroy asked a Muslim to give an opening prayer. A third reason might be that Conroy wasn’t conservative enough: Ryan has assigned two evangelical representatives, both pastors, to find a replacement who must be elected by the House members.

After months of postponement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, has been confirmed as ambassador to Germany with mostly GOP support. The GOP Log Cabin Republicans blasted Democrats for opposing a gay man for this position, despite gay ambassadors nominated by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Among the Democratic argument against the former Fox contributor and aide to John Bolton is his derogatory tweets about prominent women such as comparing Rachel Maddow to Justin Bieber. He claims that he finds his comments to be “funny”; the question is whether he will try out his “humor” on Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel while he is a “diplomat” there—or continue to scold the nation for not bombing Syria.

Dr. Ronny Jackson, DDT’s White House doctor, has withdrawn from his nomination as VA Secretary after a number of concerns about his professional ethics. The last straw, even beyond his nickname as the “Candyman” for his distribution of prescription drugs to unauthorized patients, may have been the report that he was drunk when he “wrecked a government vehicle.” (Allegations against Jackson by colleagues and former colleagues.) Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is to be commended for bringing up concerns about Jackson before a difficult re-election campaign in a red state, especially because DDT is going after him. Jackson is DDT’s 24th failed nominee in 15 months. Half the top aides who arrived at the White House with DDT are gone, usually in painful ways. Paul Waldman asked, “Is there a single Trump aide or official who will leave the service of this president with their reputation enhanced, or at least not diminished?”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), who had declared he wouldn’t run for re-election, walked off the job to avoid the House Ethics probe into his secret settlement to a staffer accusing him of harassment. Gov. Tom Wolf will need to determine whether to hold special elections for his position and the one that Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) is leaving before the end of his term.

Brand new NASA director Jim Bridenstine tweets that he’s “committed to lunar exploration” with “an expanded lunar surface campaign,” but NASA canceled its only lunar rover currently in development. Nobody seems to know why.

On the legal side, bars can legally refuse service to people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, according to a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice ruling. The plaintiffs tried to justify their lawsuit by claiming religious discrimination because they had been “paying spiritual tribute to the victims of 9/11.” The judge ruled that supporting DDT is not a form of religion. The bar owner said that he was asked to leave because he was “verbally abusive to our staff.” Only in MAGA world. (And no, this really happened!)

Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen has been postponed for 90 days. The judge said that the lawsuit might endanger Cohen’s constitutional rights if it proceeds while he is under criminal investigation.

Activists who shut off valves on the Enbridge oil pipelines may argue their case of “necessity defense” in court. A judge had approved the request last year, but prosecution had appealed. Testimony will include the serious danger of global warming. Last month, 13 protesters arguing the same defense after arrested for blocking construction by sitting in hopes dug for a pipeline were not responsible for civil disobedience.

Seattle is vacating every misdemeanor cannabis conviction for 542 people from the past 30 years after Washington state legalized recreational cannabis. Philadelphia is also stopping crimination prosecutions for cannabis possession to focus on solving homicides.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has filed an official complaint against Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and director of the Office of Management and Budget. In a speech to banking industry executives, he encouraged them to pay for lobbying efforts to persuade Congress to alter its funding source for the CFPB so that Congress and the banking industry take control of the agency. Mulvaney told the audience that he met only with lobbyists who contributed to his campaign. Eight years ago, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion of Citizens United allowing almost unlimited donations to campaigns that “there is only scant evidence that independent expenditures even ingratiate.” Mulvaney proves Kennedy wrong. POGO maintains Mulvaney’s speech violates federal anti-lobbying laws dating back to 1919 preventing executive officials from urging people to contact Congress in support of or opposition to pending legislation.

POGO is just one of the groups fighting back against DDT’s and the Republicans’ authoritarian behavior. Max Boot writes:

“If there is any silver lining to this dark cloud hanging over our democracy, it is that Trump’s outrageous behavior is provoking opposition from a growing number of good-government groups. Both the center-left and ­center-right are mobilizing and—best of all—they are cooperating, because they realize that their policy differences fade into insignificance at a time when our core institutions and norms are under assault.”

He follows that statement by listing several of these organizations including a new one, Renew Democracy Initiative. Help for those who want another way to join the resistance!

A dark decision from the judiciary comes from a three-judge 5th Circuit panel reversing a lower court ruling that a voter photo ID law from 2011 intentionally discriminated against black and Hispanic voters. Plaintiffs had argued that the requirement constituted a poll tax because of its expenditures, but the defense maintained that the law had been fixed because voters could vote without the ID with an alternative and swore to a “reasonable impediment,” that could include transportation, disability or illness. Dissenting Judge James Graves Jr. wrote, “A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog.” The decision might keep Texas from federally-mandated preclearance according to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but the Supreme Court is hearing another Texas election problem in gerrymandering.

Most of the news after the Supreme Court decision on Sessions v. Dimaya focused on DDT’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voting with the progressive justices. Another issue, however, deals with the cases that have been held back until the Supreme Court makes its ruling. Most of the time, this “relist,” as they are called, amounts to very few, but in the Dimaya case, the number is at least 42. Details here.

DDT was so pleased with his disastrous monolog on Fox & Friends that he’ll do it “once a month and as news breaks,” according to his counselor Kellyanne Conway. Steve Doocy (left) had the fastest reaction time to look pleased at the announcement.

An Oxford University study shows that DDT supporters read and share more “junk” news from sites containing “propaganda and ideologically extreme, hyper-partisan and conspiratorial political information” than any other group. Ninety-six percent of DDT supporters had “strong connections to one of 10 groups” identified in this area, and 91 percent of “hard conservatives” shared “junk” information on Facebook. The results are not a surprise, but they do explain the difficulty in having reasonable conversations with DDT supporters.

DDT skipped tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner for the second time since he was inaugurated. Parts of it were hilarious, including comedian Michelle Wolf. Last year, DDT went to Pennsylvania for love from his followers; this year he was in Michigan. In addition to attacking the usual people, DDT called for a government shutdown in September if he doesn’t get his border wall. What a patriot!

April 24, 2018

DDT’s ‘Best People’

Filed under: Donald Trump,Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 2:54 PM
Tags: , ,

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) frequently brags that he picks only “the best people.” Here’s a recent sample:

DDT’s latest disaster is Dr. Ronny Jackson, DDT’s pick for the fired VA director David Shulkin. Known as the man who performed DDT’s physical exam this year and pronounced him able to live to be 200 years old, Jackson’s confirmation hearing has been postponed because of “allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of his career.” Supposed concerns include “a hostile work environment,” “excessive drinking at work,” and “improperly dispensing medication.” If DDT got a glowing health report in exchange for the offer of a plum position, he isn’t paying off because he’s suggesting that Jackson resign because of the “ugly” process. Once again, a case of no due-diligence to vet a nominee.

Mira Ricardel, John Bolton’s first addition to his National Security Council staff as deputy, opens Bolton’s skirmish with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who threatened to resign after Ricardel blocked his picks for top Defense Department positions when she was in the Office of Presidential Personnel. Two of the three “Axis of Adults” aides—former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster—are gone, leaving only Mattis to oppose DDT’s impulsive foreign policies.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Rep. James Bridenstine (R-OK) barely squeaked by with a confirmation vote of 50-49 to become the NASA director after senators learned that, as executive director, he had run the Oklahoma nonprofit Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium in into huge losses while using funds to pay $372,000 to a company he co-owned. Senators changed the rules to allow Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to bring her ten-day-old daughter (right) onto the Senate floor so that Duckworth could cast a vote against Bridenstine running the $18.5 billion NASA budget. DDT has decided to drop the International Space Station by looking for commercial alternatives and then to go back to the moon. Bridenstine, lacking scientific expertise, is also known as a denier of climate change and an opponent of LGBTQ rights. In an odd reason for changing his ” no” vote, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that “the more important the job, the more discretion the president deserves.”

Wendy Vitter, nominee for a federal judge position, would not say whether she agreed with the decision in Brown v. Board of Education during her confirmation hearings. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) tweeted: “If you can’t affirm that the Supreme Court was right in desegregating schools, you don’t belong on the federal bench.”

A Senate party vote of 50-48 put anti-union John Ring on the National Labor Relations Board, giving Republicans the 3-2 edge. The NLRB has oversight over all private-sector union elections and legal disputes between workers, unions and companies.

Susan Combs, appointed as assistant secretary of fish, wildlife and parks, has a tradition of opposing enforcement of the Endangered Species Act as rancher and Texas comptroller with strong ties to the oil industry. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier failed to make her an assistant secretary for policy, management and budget after bipartisan opposition in the Senate because of bipartisan opposition.

Former White House aide Ezra Cohen-Watnick managed to get a job in the DOJ as Jeff Sessions’ national security adviser after National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster fired him last August. Both Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner protected Cohen-Watnick for months, and DDT ordered the new hire. Cohen-Watnick came with Michael Flynn because he shared the former National Security Advisor’s distrust for the CIA, love for Russia, and hatred for Iran. With ties to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation into the Russian scandal, Cohen-Watnick will advise Sessions on counterintelligence and counterterrorism, putting him in a prime position to pass along highly secret information about the Russian investigation to DDT. (Nunes’ latest plan to protect DDT is to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rosenstein.)

Scott Pruitt fired Mario Carballo from the EPA because he approved an internal report that didn’t support Pruitt’s wishes for multimillion-dollar security protection such as 24/7 bodyguards. An example of a “threat” was a postcard including “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!!! We are watching you.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) considered this a death threat although the Secret Service identified no “reports of behaviors of interest” against Pruitt. Pruitt was also concerned about a person yelling at him in the Atlanta airport: “Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment.”

Kevin Chmielewski has told senators that Scott Pruitt fired him from the EPA in March after he alerted people about Pruitt’s excessive travel expenses:

  • Flying first class on airlines not on government’s approved list to get frequent flying points;
  • Insisting on staying in hotels 300 times more expensive than the government’s per diem;
  • Booking more expensive hotels with less on-site security in order to bring personal bodyguards;
  • Asking staff to “find me something to do” in locations throughout the country to justify spending taxpayer money;
  • Asking staff to find official reasons for him to be in Oklahoma when he wanted to spend long weekends at home;
  • Purchasing new SUVs for transport instead of obtaining vehicles through the General Services Administration;
  • Spending over the $5,000 limit to redecorate his office which includes the $43,000 phone booth.

Once a strong Chmielewski supporter, DDT still supports Pruitt, according to DDT’s legislative affairs director Marc Short, but White House officials are warning conservative members of Congress not to defend Pruitt. Other probes into Pruitt’ actions may include his use of three epa.gov email addresses plus his public government-issued address which may violate the Federal Records Act. Between DDT’s inauguration and the end of 2017, 11,431 FOIA requests were filed to the EPA.

Elliott Broidy has resigned as RNC deputy finance chair after publicity about Michael Cohen striking a deal to pay a Playboy “playmate” who said Broidy had impregnated her.

Ximena Baretto, put on leave from deputy director of communications at HHS last December, pushed the Pizzagate conspiracy purporting that Hillary Clinton ran a child-sex ring in Washington, D.C., called Islam a “cult,” and posted the message that “our forefathers would have hung” Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for treason. In a tweet, she wrote that President Obama was a “pansy and a traitor” and shared the conspiracy that French President Emmanuel Macron is “a political puppet” of the Rothschild family.

Jon Lerner was hired and fired as national security adviser for VP Mike Pence within two days. The GOP pollster with no national security experience had a job as deputy to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley but was willing to take on a second responsibility for Pence. DDT told his chief of staff, John Kelly, “to get rid of Lerner” because he had created attack anti-DDT ads for Club for Growth. Lerner stays with Haley but is “withdrawing from coming on board” with Pence. The vice president has already lost his chief of staff, press secretary, chief counsel, and domestic policy director.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg has been selected for the job that Lerner lost. VP Mike Pence picked Kellogg after he became the fifth person to leave John Bolton’s national security council. The question is whether DDT lets Pence keep this national security adviser. Ricky Waddell left prior to Kellogg.

The Trump University fraud case with two class-action lawsuits and a civil lawsuit from New York is finally settled, and DDT had to write a $25 million check to students. DDT is suffering in so many other places that the media barely noticed the settlement. During his campaign, DDT said, “I don’t settle cases.” The only winner is former Texas Deputy AG David Morale, who dropped the state’s investigation of Trump University for bilking Texas taxpayers out of over $2.6 million. DDT just appointed him to a lifetime judgeship on a Corpus Christi trial bench.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo has passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and moved on to a floor vote for Secretary of State after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) did his usual “I’ll never vote for … to of course, I’ll vote for …..” Paul’s excuse was DDT’s reassurances to him; Paul said that he’ll “take [DDT] at his word.” As a hawk, Pompeo pushes for regime change in Iran and wants to overthrow the six-country nuclear agreement keeping Iran from developing these weapons. Pompeo also has ties with an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and contemplates overthrowing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. DDT described Kim as “very honorable.” World War III anyone?

The Dow Jones roller-coaster dropped over 400 points today as government bond yields hit 3 percent and a Caterpillar executive said that its first quarter profit “will be the high-water mark for the year.” S&P and Nasdaq joined the Dow in falling between one and two percent. The recent volatility of stocks could lead to inflation, recession, and higher interest rates.

April 12, 2018

Washington Legislators, Officials Flee

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 12:14 AM
Tags: , , ,

Just when I think that the GOP world cannot get more bizarre, something happens to amaze me more. Today was one of those days. No, it wasn’t House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) announcement that he’ll stay home with the kids who haven’t had this attention for over a decade. My astonishment came from an earlier GOP House Speaker—John Boehner. Seven years ago, he said that he was “unalterably opposed” to legalizing marijuana. Boehner altered when he joined the board of advisers of Acreage Holdings, the cannabis corporation operating in 11 states. He tweeted:

“I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

Over 60 percent of people in the United States want legalized cannabis, and over 90 percent support legalized cannabis for medical use. Watching Boehner joining these percentages at a time when the DOJ wants to clamp down on cannabis and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to kill all the drug dealers—presumably also those selling cannabis—is nothing short of mind-boggling.

But yes, Paul Ryan finally admitted that he won’t be running for re-election in 2018. He leaves a legacy of close to a $1 trillion deficit this coming year and exceeding $1 trillion every year after that for the next decade. In Ryan’s announcement of his departure, he called the tax cuts, causing much of the deficit, one of his proudest achievements. Abandoning past conservative fiscal policy, he decided that tax cuts and spending increases are good for electing Republicans. Ryan’s current competition in the primary is an anti-Semite white supremacist.

Satirist Andy Borowitz wrote that the Koch brothers—who actually gave Ryan’s campaign $500,000 in exchange for his tax cuts—have put Ryan up for sale on eBay with a $500 asking price. The humorist pointed out that Ryan’ “current high bid [is] seventeen dollars.” Borowitz wrote:

“The eBay listing suggested several possible uses for the former House Speaker, including as a Halloween ornament or garden gnome.”

The fight for his job is on, with Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) currently in the forefront while others bolt. One hour after Ryan’s departure announcement, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) said he won’t run for re-election. Retirements in the House are already far above normal, and the general election isn’t for almost seven months. One resignation, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), was made after the deadline to register for candidacy.

DJ Gribbin, DDT’s infrastructure policy adviser, left the White House after Congress largely ignored his plans for private and public partnerships. DDT has also told the GOP that these partnerships for infrastructure funding projects won’t work.

DDT claims that former VA Secretary David Shulkin resigned, but Shulkin disagrees, saying, “I did not resign.” Much was made earlier about his taking his wife with him on a business trip to Europe and his inability to get along with his staff. Yet that one trip was a drop in the bucket compared to other costs by other cabinet members; his conflict came from DDT staff hires who fought to privatize the VA health care. Replacement Ronny Jackson, the fawning doctor who gave DDT his physical examination, had said that he could live 200 years and had “incredibly good genes.” (DDT’s father died of dementia.) The biggest problem with Jackson, however, is his total lack of experience. If confirmed, Jackson will administer 360,000 employees, a $186 billion budget, and health care for nine million veterans. Fortunately for him, Shulkin had already stabilized the VA system of hospitals and health clinics, but Jackson’s sycophantic personality may cause him to dismantle everything. Veterans are coming out en masse in opposition to the privatization of health care that Jackson will rubber stamp for DDT and the Koch brothers.

John Bolton, appointed for National Security Adviser, may not be a shoe-in because of earlier political activity. He supposedly ended political activity with his PACs and stepped down as chair of his anti-Muslim Foundation for American Security and Freedom, but the PACs won’t be dissolved. He may also have a problem in his connection with Cambridge Analytica in electing Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) whose campaign may have been orchestrated by foreign workers. Bolton also appeared in a 2013 video for a Russian gun rights organization.

At least 3,000 Russia-linked ads from Cambridge Analytica reached over 126 million people during the 2016 U.S. election. HuffPo’s profile of white nationalist ”Ricky Vaughn”—28-year-old Douglass Mackey from Waterbury (VT)—shows how influential a few ads can be. C.A. also helped vicious Philippine dictator Roderigo Duterte win his election and participated in elections in Nigeria, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, and Latvia by creating ethnic tensions online by creating fear and misinformation online and entrapping political opponents with videos of sex workers.

The arrival of Bolton has led to at least three resignations/firings from the national security council. Tom Bossert may not be a great loss: the day before his firing, Bossert touted the movement of National Guard troops to the Mexico border and said that rape is the “price of entry” for women crossing the border.Michael Anton was known for writing DDT-supporting “American First” blog posts and essays under the pseudonym of Publius Decius Mus. Nadia Schadlow, trusted confidante of the fired H.R. McMaster who helped write DDT’s national security strategy, lasted only a few months after she replaced Dina Powell in January. Her mistake is believing in diplomacy. Here’s a list of people leaving DDT prior to that of Schadlow.

Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R) announced his resignation as of May 1 after an FBI inquiry into his spending and travel, including a trip to London with payday lending industry representatives. He finds his actions “ethical and lawful” but left as soon as the suggestion came from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R).

Dan Scavino, DDT’s former caddy turned into White House social media director, has replaced Hope Hicks as White House Communications Director. He is the last remaining staffer from DDT’s campaign launch.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, appointed almost a year ago, will stay because she claims that following “sincerely held religious beliefs” don’t break the law. She exonerated Col. Leland Bohannon for his refusal to sign a certificate of spousal appreciation for a retiring gay subordinate because because someone else signed the certificate that recognizes sacrifices of military spouses. Bohannon signs certificates for only heterosexual spouses. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is against policy. Wilson’s history of LGBTQ discrimination as a senatorial candidate includes opposition to a bill reducing anti-LGBTQ bullying.

DDT’s problematic appointments may be directly connected to the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO), DDT’s office to recruit and vet over 4,000 political appointees. In 62 weeks, it has found 309 candidates for 343 Cabinet agency positions requiring Senate approval. Of 1,200 positions requiring confirmation, only 387 from DDT have been approved, compared to 548 for President Obama and 615 for George W. Bush. Several DDT appointees have resigned after problems with comments, backgrounds, and qualifications. DDT’s PPO has a small staff of only 30—less than one-third of previous ones—and a serious lack of experience, mostly young people who worked on DDT’s campaign. They commonly have “happy hours” and held a frat drinking game called “Icing.”

During DDT’s transition, 100 researchers and lawyers under the supervision of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie prepared a list of candidates and hundreds of pages establishing a framework. DDT fired their leader, discarded all the information, and hired political operative John DeStefano as headhunter who required only loyalty to DDT as a job requirement. Even before DeStefano was hired, the database had only 87,000 applicants, compared to President Obama’s 300,000.

One of the most successful member of PPO is 75-year-old Katja Bullock. Her son became deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, his wife is White House liaison at the Office of Personnel Management, and their sons are “confidential assistant” at the Social Security Administration and “staff assistant” at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. foreign aid agency that works to end global poverty.

Scott Pruitt is still clinging to his position as EPA Secretary, but his departure could leave Andrew Wheeler in charge if the Senate confirms him for the second-highest-ranking person in the agency. As a coal lobbyist, Wheeler is well known to the GOP senators, especially former boss Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).  His climate denying is so carefully phrased that Democrats haven’t really objected to his positions. Daniel Best, a former pharma insider, will be HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s pick to lower drug prices.

The media has paid little attention to either one of these people. Instead we focus on DDT’s promises to fire missiles at Syria while telling Russia that they can’t stop them. DDT seems to be having a spat with Vladimir Putin that can drive the United States into a war with the Middle East.

March 26, 2018

The Door Keeps Swinging

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , , , ,

Left over from last week’s news about the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is the swinging door of federal employees and DDT’s legal team.

In 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt was instrumental in creating the UN created the Commission on the Status of Women in 1946 to promote gender quality and the empowerment of women. DDT thinks so little of women that he sent Bethany Kozma, a self-described stay-at-home mom,” as the U.S. representative for the 82nd meeting of CSW. She has described the UN as a “pro-life nation” and called trans children “gender confused” in her battle to keep them from using bathrooms matching their gender identity by claiming that it leaves students open to “sexual assault or rape.”

According to DDT’s friend Christopher Ruddy, DDT thinks that the White House is operating “like a smooth machine” and has been “perplexed” by news reports of chaos. DDT claims to be keeping Chief of Staff John Kelly and HUD secretary Ben Carson, what he usually says soon before he gets someone to fire them. On vacation in Florida, DDT continues to attack fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by saying that he didn’t have the “brains or energy” for the job.

Emails showing that DDT fires everyone who he considers disloyal to him has caused Democrats on the House Oversight Committee to demand State Department records of internal communications. The agency tried to reassign a staffer after Breitbart and Newt Gingrich complained about her Iranian surname. Independent investigators report that retaliation against career staffers is rampant throughout the government. Because their firings can only be based on merit and work performance, DDT is breaking the law by basing firings on political affiliations or patronage. At the same time Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Mick Mulvaney, suggested as a replacement for Chief of Staff John Kelly, has worked to replace existing employees with political appointees that can violate civil service laws.

Employees can appeal their firings to the Merit Systems Protection Board, but the one-member board can’t hear cases until two DDT’s appointees are confirmed. At the beginning of 2018, the backlog, the longest in history, is 750 cases.

Conservative congressional members are pushing bills that would give Cabinet members the right to fire anyone they wish. Rep. Lloyd Smucker’s (R-PA) Labor Department Accountability Act would give them the authority to suspend, involuntarily reassign, demote, or remove employees and senior executives. Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) has a similar bill.

The most unpopular appointees in March are Gina Haspel for CIA director and John Bolton for national security adviser. A promoter of torture, Haspel destroyed videos with impunity about CIA torture in a black site that she oversaw because the CIA classifies these torture sessions as formal government meetings and exempt from being preserved. Haspel will also claim that any information about her is “classified,” even if it’s already in the public domain, during confirmation hearings.

With H.R. McMaster out and John Bolton in as national security advisor, everyone in the U.S. should prepare for war. All the negative information about Bolton makes no difference because he doesn’t need to be confirmed by the Senate for his position. I’ve written before about Bolton, but the horrifying news keeps emerging:

  • Bolton hired Cambridge Analytica in 2014 for “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging” and knew that the material came from harvested Facebook data.
  • In addition to being a contributor to Fox, Bolton chairs the Gatestone Institute that publishes “fake” news about threats from Islam to Western society. Its anti-Islam vitriol has the sole purpose of establishing bigotry against Muslim immigrants and refugees by spreading racial lies about them that Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and DDT repeated during their presidential campaigns. Bolton also wrote the foreward to a book by anti-Islam conspiracy theorists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. Gatestone, which has paid $310,000 to Bolton, works to sway elections not only in the U.S. but also in European elections through support of far-right, anti-Muslim candidates on social media.
  • As George W. Bush’s policymaker on Iran, Bolton actively conspired from 2002 through 2004 to set up conditions for military action and manipulated intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that he hoped would start a war on Iran with support from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
  • Bolton is behind DDT’s intention to back out of the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Fifteen years after George W. started the Iraq War with the urging of John Bolton and others, Bolton still thinks that the preemptive strike on Iraq was right.

All we can hope is that Bolton’s typical abusive behavior turns toward DDT who can then shop for a fourth national security adviser.

Other disastrous DDT nominees:

Roger Severino, nominee for HHS Office for Civil Rights, says that as the child of Colombian immigrants he understands discrimination on a first-hand basis, but his education doesn’t apply to LGBTQ people. He believes that health care workers should be able to use their personal religious beliefs in determining who gets treatment. Severino has said that marriage quality is “using government power to coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology” and using the right pronoun for transgender students is was the “equivalent to making them say two plus two equals five.”

Robert Redford, nominee for head of the Centers for Disease Control, has been accused of overstating the therapeutic effects of an experimental AIDS vaccine that led to corrections and having an “inappropriate” relationship with the evangelical Christian group Americans for Sound AIDS/HIV Policy (ASAP), now Children’s AIDS Fund. Founded by the virulently anti-LGBT and anti-abortion activists Shepherd and Anita Smit, the group promotes abstinence as the only proper prevention behavior and opposes the use of condoms. Anita Smith complained about the “power struggle between homosexual white men who abuse all the government AIDS programs fundamentally to fund their subculture and their political activities.” A devout Catholic, Redford wants churches to take over the care of HIV patients. Nobody has a chance to interview Redford, however, because he doesn’t need to be confirmed.

Peter Wright, nominee for the EPA Office of Aland and Emergency Management (OLEM) could protect big companies, like his former employer Dow Chemical, from having to clean up the 1,300 Superfund toxic cleanup sites, one-tenth of them caused by Dow that gave DDT $1 million for his inauguration fund. The money has already paid off because EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt reversed a ban on Dow’s brain-damaging insecticide.

Kellyanne Conway is running DDT’s new “opioids cabinet,” and her first action was to drive out drug policy professionals and replace them with political staff who call for the border wall and a “just say no” campaign. A quote from her speech to college students:

“On our college campuses, your folks are reading the labels, won’t put any sugar in their body, they don’t eat carbs anymore, and they’re very, very fastidious about what goes into their body — and then you buy a street drug for $5 or $10 and it’s laced with fentanyl, and that’s it. So I guess my short advice is, as somebody double your age: eat the ice cream, buy the French fry, don’t buy the street drug.”

About the rumor that VA Secretary David Shulkin is on his way out, DDT denies it—another dangerous sign for employment. A possible replacement is Fox & Friends host Pete Hegsweth.

The scariest thought is that EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt might see his continuing wish fulfilled to replace AG Jeff Sessions.

DDT’s frantic reaction to Robert Mueller’s investigation into his involvement resulted in rapid shifts in his legal team’s membership. Two new DDT hires after team leader John Dowd bailed, Fox contributor Joe diGenova and his wife Virginia Toensing, disappeared in less than a week. A senior official said the couple’s disheveled appearance at their first meeting with DDT caused him to decide that they didn’t belong on his team.

DiGenova is a conspiracy theorist with a lot of baggage who thinks that the FBI and DOJ are framing the president by inventing the Russia scandal to keep DDT from being president. Leader of DDT’s legal team, Dowd quit because DDT didn’t follow his direction to fire Mueller. Not only does DDT not pay attention to his lawyers, but he also has a reputation for not paying them. DDT’s loss of lawyers gives him a team of oneJay Sekulow—who is little more than a PR person.

The U.S. House of Representatives has an extra Democrat after the GOP candidate in PA-18 admitted defeat to Conor Lamb. The Republicans put over $10 million into the race where DDT won by over 20 points in 2018. Democrats spent less than $3 million. The amateurish GOP ads tried to tie the Democrat to a sheep, reminiscent of the horrible 2010 demon sheep ads, but the Lamb (left) won anyway.

The “Exposed” DDT image is featured on this week’s New Yorker in artist Barry Blitt’s 15th image of the president for the magazine’s covers as he faces the media. Blitt said, “I wanted to address President Trump’s stormy relationship with the press” and called DDT the “gift that keeps on grifting.”

March 17, 2018

Inside DDT’s TV Echo Chamber

Andrew McCabe was fired yesterday, an action that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) sees as a vindication against the man he insulted since the firing of former FBI director James Comey. Legal recourse may not obtain McCabe’s pension which would have started tomorrow on his 50th birthday. Yet McCabe may have a case if he didn’t get due process, and any lawsuit against the firing would show the long trail of DDT’s vicious statements about McCabe, including his description about McCabe’s firing as “a great day for democracy.” Soon after his firing yesterday, McCabe released this statement, including his assertion that he was fired to hide DDT’s obstruction of justice.

The firing took place on Friday night, a time used to hide news, but the tactic failed. A tweet from DDT claimed that the firing was about the FBI, but McCabe wrote that it concerned DDT’s “ongoing war on … the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day.” DDT’s lawyer John Dowd proved DDT’s intention when he followed up the firing with demands that DOJ close down Mueller’s investigation into the Russian scandal. Dowd first told The Daily Beast that he was speaking for DDT but later backed down on that claim.

Mueller supposedly gave questions for DDT to his lawyers as a start to an interview with DDT.

Two sources report that McCabe kept extensive memos about his interactions with DDT that special investigator Robert Mueller may find useful in pursuing obstruction of justice in DDT’s interactions with top law enforcement officials. Mueller has already interviewed McCabe and is reviewing Comey’s memos. Comey also warned DDT of a public relations nightmare when Comey’s book comes out later this month.

One way for McCabe to get his full retirement is to work for another 26 hours. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) offered McCabe a job to work on election security, and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) is considering asking McCabe to work for him.

Before McCabe’s firing, the media was talking about how long H.R. McMaster would last as national security adviser. DDT says he’s keeping McMaster, but he said the same thing about former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who was fired by tweet earlier this week. Fox network contributor John Bolton has been mentioned as McMaster’s replacement. Johns Hopkins senior fellow David Rothkopf wrote that Bolton’s mustache is more qualified for the position than he is. The former U.S. ambassador to the UN is known as the hawk behind the Iraq War, an enemy of the UN, and a hawkish foe of the Iran nuclear deal and North Korea. Richard Painter, George W. Bush’s ethics lawyer, called Bolton “the most dangerous man we had in the entire eight years of the Bush administration” and “an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war.” DDT likes his men clean-shaven: Bolton could lose either the facial hair or the job.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is on the way out, and Pete Hegseth, co-host of Fox and Friends Weekendmay be the replacement. His positions include replacing the health-care system with much greater “private care,” and his past includes directing the Koch brothers’ Vets for Freedom and Concerned Veterans for America. Even congressional Republicans worry about his extreme views on “reforming” the VA, and Hegseth has alienated some GOP senators he needs for confirmation, calling Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Johnny Isakson (R-GA) a “swamp creature ‘Republican.’”

Heather Nauert, another co-host of “Fox and Friends,” was promoted from spokesperson for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, replacing Steve Goldstein who DDT fired for telling the truth about how Tillerson learned about his firing from DDT’s tweet about his replacement. The new acting Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, got the job the day after he vigorously defended DDT on Sunday talk shows.

DDT has appointed CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday. Dana Milbank wrote that Kudlow may have been more “wrong about the economy than anyone alive.” At the end of 2007, Kudlow wrote for the National Review that “the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead” and “there’s no recession coming.” With no training in economics, Kudlow decided in early 2008 that the stock market might “have a mild correction. Maybe not.” He promised that it will rebound within a few months. As housing collapsed in summer of 2008, he said “an awful lot of very good new news.” That was just before stocks lost almost half their value, and the government had to bail out banks and businesses in a serious recession. Kudlow decried Bill Clinton’s tax increases that led to a booming economy, praised George W. Bush’s tax cuts that led to a massive deficit, and promised that Bush’s wars could be good for the economy. Now he predicts a five-percent annual growth from DDT’s tax “cuts.”

Kudlow matches DDT and his Cabinet members in being a climate change denier, another negative for an economic adviser.

DDT is moving from generals to media personalities. Stormy Daniels might replace Chief of Staff John Kelly.

In two legal decisions, DDT batted .500.

DDT can’t ignore pollution rules, according to a federal judge in northern California. Sixteen state attorneys general jointed a coalition of environmental groups to force EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt’s meeting the deadline for governing ozone from burning fossil fuels that damages lungs. Pruitt’s past inaction broke the law; he has until April 30 to comply. This decision makes the ninth legal victory for California’s AG Xavier Becerra against DDT.

The 5th Circuit Court ruled against retirees and for financial advisers when, by a vote of 2-1, vacated the fiduciary rule requiring broker dealers to consider the client’s best interests instead of personal commissions or fees in their advice. The ruling questioned the regulation’s validity because the 10th Circuit had already upheld the regulation. Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, encouraged a repeal and said that the ruling “threatens the Labor Department’s very ability to protect retirement investors now and in the future.”

The ACLU is suing the federal government for separating immigrant families seeking asylum. The case follows a “screaming and crying” seven-year-old girl who was taken from her Congolese mother and put into a Chicago facility. The woman was released in San Diego, but the girl is still 2,000 miles away. The class action lawsuit also concerns a Brazilian woman separated from her 14-year-old son as they sought asylum. The woman was put into a west Texas detention center, and the son was sent to a Chicago facility. The government said it deliberately separates parents and their children to keep them from coming to the U.S. Different government agencies detain adults and children.

The Senate has sent sent a bill to the House that will save the beleaguered banks—the ones that just got a 35-percent tax cut ($249 billion over the next ten years) after profits at record levels in 2016 and the third quarter of 2017. The bill, supported by some Democrats, would revise Dodd-Frank requirements by raising the size of banks subject to regulations from assets of $50 billion to $250 billion. It would also exempt “small” banks with assets of less than $100 billion from oversight requirements and exempt them from some requirements for loans, mortgages, and trading. Voters in favor of the bill ignored the financial crisis just ten years ago when banks such as Countrywide Financial, one of the biggest subprime mortgage lenders, failed. Its assets were about $210 billion.

Small banks are also exempt from the Volcker rule, allowing them to make the kinds of speculative investments that also led to the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession. Lenders can return to “nontraditional underwriting practices” that led to the disaster. The limit of mortgages before reporting, raised from 50 to 500, will greatly increase the problem of racial and gender bias in lending. The bill’s elimination of escrow requirements for banks under $10 billion, up from $2 billion, takes away vital borrower protection. A loophole in the bill gives foreign megabanks such as Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank the ability to shelter U.S. holdings in subsidiaries under $250 billion, but the GOP insisted on leaving it in.

Passing the bill means that 25 of the 38 biggest banks would be exempt from necessary rules to keep the banks solvent. They hold $3.5 trillion in assets, one-sixth of all the assets in the U.S. banking sector, and took $47 billion the bailout ten years ago.

Fortunately, a partisan power struggle may keep the bill from passing the House. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) threatened to freeze the bank bill unless senators make changes, and Senate Democrats refuse to amend it. They had already compromised, several of them because they are up for re-election in November in DDT-dominated states. The House wants the easing of requirements for mergers and acquisitions brokers and independent investors. Bless those intransigent Republican representatives!

March 10, 2018

DDT: More Week 59 – People, Lawsuits

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:07 PM
Tags: , , ,

The swamp continues to fill as Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) appoints people, several of whom then resign, and faces lawsuits for his unconstitutional policies.

Appointments:

Peter Wright, DDT’s appointee as assistant administrator of  the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management to oversee chemical spills from Superfund sites, is a top lawyer with Dow Chemical, the company linked to almost ten percent of these 1,340 toxic places. Former appointee, Michael Dourson, withdrew his name because of his many chemical company clients. Last year, EPA secretary Scott Pruitt appointed Albert Kelly, banned for life from the banking industry for violating federal banking laws, as adviser on the Superfund program.  Scott Pruitt also refused to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, produced by Dow’s subsidiary, despite it risk to children and farm workers.

John Gibbs, DDT’s appointee for HUD senior adviser in community planning and development division to spur economic development, had spread the false rumor of Hillary Clinton as a “Satanist” during 2016 when he accused her and campaign chairman John Podesta of consuming bodily fluids. His lies spread into #pizzagate that caused a man to shoot his gun in an innocent pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Matt Baker, a new appointee in the Department of HHS, proposed a registry for strippers when he was a Pennsylvania state representative. It would list name, stage name, address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, criminal background information and their photo ID.

Gordon Giampietro, nominated to the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin, failed to reveal “an online post describing the Civil Rights Act as an “intrusion into private business” and diversity as code for “relaxed standards.” DDT’s judicial nominees have received an average of 23 “no” votes during confirmations, compared to the average of six opposing votes for President Obama, two for George W. Bush, and one for Bill Clinton.

John Konkus’ day job is the EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs who vets “the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually.” By night, the Republican is permitted to be consultant for unnamed private-sector clients with secret identities. Patrick Davis, another DDT political appointee, works by day as senior adviser for public engagement in the Denver EPA regional office and by night as sales director for Telephone Town Hall Meeting providing robocalls to political campaigns and advocacy groups.

Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, because she “impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election.” Special counsel Henry Kerner assigned DDT the job of “appropriate disciplinary action.”

Resignations:

Gary Cohn, DDT’s economic adviser, abandoned the White House ship after DDT insisted on steel/aluminum tariffs. On his departure, Cohn, a top executive at Goldman Sachs, claims to have accomplished what he wanted, basically enormous cuts for rich people and big corporations. The departures of Rob Porter and Cohn leave no high-ranking White House official to oppose DDT’s beloved tariffs; DDT cancelled a meeting with companies using steel and aluminum. Farmers are especially unhappy with a looming trade war, as this message from the Nebraska Farm Bureau shows. Some of the many people who departed the White House like” ships leaving the rats.”

Tony Tooke resigned as chief of the U.S. Forest Service after reports of sexual misconduct and a culture of racial and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliations in the agency. Tooke was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, cousin of Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) who signed on to a bill that would discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Lawsuits:

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that 21 young people, mostly teenagers, can continue its lawsuit against the government for not addressing climate change despite DDT’s attempt to keep out of court. Without Supreme Court interference, a federal judge must decide which government officials can be questioned, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly CEO of Exxon Mobil and head of a petroleum industry trade group. [Photo from AE Marling]

A federal court ruled that Idaho must allow transgender people to amend their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity, leaving only three states—Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee—that prevent transgender people from updating their birth certificates. A federal appeals court also decided in favor of Aimee Stephens, fired for transitioning to male, after her boss asserted “religious beliefs.” The federal appeals court ruled, “Tolerating Stephens’ understanding of her sex and gender identity is not tantamount to supporting it.”

Kansas cannot remove Medicaid payments for breast exams, birth control, and other non-abortion services from Planned Parenthood. The 10th Circuit Court stated that states cannot terminate providers if “that reason is unrelated to the provider’s competence and the quality of the healthcare it provides.”

Anthony Borges, the Parkland (FL) shooting victim who blocked a classroom door to keep the gunman from entering, is suing the school and county for not keeping him safe to pay for his huge medical bills. DDT also said that he would have run into the school to save the young people, but he can’t even stand up to the NRA that is now suing Florida for a slight restriction in gun laws.

Stormy Daniels, the porn queen paid to conceal her affair with DDT, is suing him with the claim that her nondisclosure agreement is invalid because DDT didn’t sign it. The suit also asserts that the $130,000 that she was paid was intended to influence the election. Two other complaints state that her payment violated election law because it was not reported as in-kind campaign donation after DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohn said he had paid the money himself. Her accusations include that she signed because of “intimidation and coercive tactics.” Cohen paid Daniels through a LLC created for that purpose. DDT is also in the middle of the Stormy Daniels mess after his lawyer complained that DDT had not reimbursed him the $130,000 for the payment to Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) to shut her up.

Not only does the lawsuit give additional information about DDT’s problems with Daniels but it also puts him in a lose-lose situation. He either argues says that he paid hush money to an “adult film” star or backs off so that she can say whatever she wants. In a press conference, Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended DDT by saying that DDT had “won” its arbitration agreement, ostensibly admitting his involvement in the payment. DDT is furious with his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for telling the truth about the arbitration agreement. Details about Daniels’ statements here.

Although some people think that DDT’s personal life should stay private, he can be blackmailed to keep this information secret. Withholding information from the public violates federal law because voters have the right to knowledge about attempts to influence elections. A payment of $130,000 by DDT’s lawyer is far over the $2,700 campaign contribution cap. Complaints about this payment and another one to hush up another story about DDT’s affairs will be investigated by the FEC only if all four members—two Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent—decide to pursue the issue.

Ben Carson, HUD Secretary, has removed anti-discrimination language from his agency’s mission statement so that he can keep LGBTQ people and minorities out of low-income housing. The change is “to align HUD’s mission with the Secretary’s priorities and that of the Administration.” People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing for the release of HUD and DOJ documents with anti-LGBTQ plans.

DDT’s deadline for the end of DACA came with no legislation to continue it, and Maryland federal Judge Roger Titus ruled that DACA can legally end the program. Two other injunctions against its termination are still in effect with the ruling that DDT must provide legal reasons for this action.

Federal Judge William Alsup ruled that people can sue greenhouse-gas emitters in federal court in Oakland and San Francisco lawsuits against oil companies for climate change, rising sea levels, and waterfront damage. In 2011, the Supreme Court decided that Congress and EPA, not courts, police emissions, but that case concerned a U.S. electric utility, not international corporations.

Several states are suing after FCC chair Ajit Pai overturned net neutrality, and Washington passed a law preventing internet service providers from blocking and slowing down content online or charging more for faster delivery to benefit broadband companies and partner websites. Despite Pai’s ruling that no state can oversee internet services, two dozen other states have introduced similar bills, and other governors have signed executive actions prohibiting internet service providers with state contracts from blocking or slowing data on their lines.

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who wants to stop Democrats from voting, went to trial last week protecting his state law requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote. Plaintiffs claim that the law violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), allowing registrants at the DMV to ask people for minimum information. One in seven Kansas voters were blocked from voting between 2013 and 2016 until the law was put on hold in 2016. Kobach claims to have found five people who may have broken the law of the state’s 1.8 million registered voters. Kobach is running for governor this year.

During the trial, the judge reprimanded Kobach when he tried to testify to a document that he couldn’t find. She also had to explain to him how to phrase questions in cross examination, present new exhibits, and impeach a witness. On the first day his trial, he said that federal databases cannot identify noncitizens—although that was the mission of DDT’s now-disbanded federal commission he headed up to find illegal voters. More insanity from Kobach’s trial

DDT’s name came off the Trump-branded hotel in Panama City after the majority owner won his lawsuit to dump DDT’s company as its manager. Since Inauguration Day, two other hotels in Toronto and Manhattan’s SoHo have done the same, and other DDT properties are struggling.

March 5, 2018

DDT: More Week 58: Who’s In, Who’s Out

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:24 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Appointments:

John Dunkin, former personal pilot for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), is under consideration for FAA administrator.  In charge of all U.S. civil aviation, the FAA chair oversees a $16 billion annual budget. While Dunkin supervised the DDT campaign air fleet, VP Mike Pence’s plane had several “hard” landings, including a plane ended up 300 feet from a major highway. Dunkin also hired a pilot wanted for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, running over a colleague with his car three times, and deliberately running into someone with a motorcycle. Other DDT hires include:

  • DDT’s golf caddie as the White House Director of Social Media.
  • DDT’s bodyguard as the Director of Oval Office operations.
  • Eric Trump’s wedding planner in charge of HUD for the northeastern United States.
  • The husband of a member of DDT’s household staff at Trump Tower who ran a home contracting company called “Steve’s Tools in Motion” in a job at EPA Region 2 headquarters in New York.
  • DDT’s bankruptcy lawyer as the ambassador to Israel.

And John Dunkin in charge of a life-and-death job.

Wendy Vitter, appointee for a federal judge and wife of GOP Louisiana senator reelected after he confessed to hiring prostitutes from the “D.C. Madam,” omitted her anti-abortion speeches, interview, and letter from a disclosure form for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She skipped information about moderating a panel on the false dangers of abortion that supported the myth about women taking oral contraception having a higher risk of dying violent deaths, cheating on their partners, having fertility problems and unhealthy children, and experiencing poor relationships with their partners.

Resignations:

Hope Hicks, White House communications director who is “like a daughter” to DDT, left after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee that she told “white lies” for DDT. A black lie from November 2016:

“There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.”

There were contacts between DDT’s campaign and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, top advisers including family members met privately with the Russian emissary about “dirt” on Clinton, George Papadopoulos’ contacted with Russians, Carter Page traveled to Moscow and contacted with Russian officials, Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak’s met with a variety of DDT’s campaign surrogates and officials including Jeff Sessions, and Donald Trump Jr. privately communicated with WikiLeaks..

Josh Raffel, White House spokesman and “manager” for DDT’s children, White House officials, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, quit.

Joseph Yun, the top U.S. diplomat with the foreign service since 1985 who is overseeing North Korea policy, retired. Last year, Yun assisted the release of Otto Warmbier, U.S. citizen held prisoner by North Korea.

Roberta S. Jacobson, U.S. ambassador to Mexico and one of the most experienced Latin America experts in the State Department, left her position after the growing schism between the two countries and the diplomatic relations being assigned to Jared Kushner. Other major State Department resignations include Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the third-highest ranking official, and John Feeley, the ambassador to Panama.

Matthew Masterson, a GOP member of the Election Assistance Commission who won’t be reappointed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), brings the four-member agency down to two members. Masterson was an expert in non-partisan approaches to help states fight cyber attacks and develop anti-hacking protocols.

H.R. McMaster may resign as National Security Council adviser, his departure facilitated by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The replacement is reportedly Stephen Biegun, a bigwig at Ford Motor Company who was on the council for a couple of years with the George W. Bush when national security warnings were ignored. He also tried to advise Sarah Palin on foreign policy when she was a VP candidate.

Lawsuits:

The 4th Circuit Court ruled 10-4 that Maryland’s ban on 45 different “assault” weapons, such as the popular AR-15 in mass shootings, and its 10-round limit for magazines does not violate the U.S. Constitution. The court wrote:

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

Last year a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit sent a ruling upholding the ban back to U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, ordering her to apply “strict scrutiny.” Maryland appealed to the full court which supported its decision. The fourth similar ruling in a decade, it follows the 2008 opinion from SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia in Columbia v. Heller that the right to bear arms “is not unlimited.” Other rulings permitting the ban came from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the 7th Circuit, and the 2nd Circuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear DDT’s appeal of a federal court ruling to continue DACA; DHS must accept renewal applications for 700,000 young Dreamers, making DDT’s arbitrary March 5 deadline moot. Two weeks ago, DDT turned down six bipartisan compromises, including one that funded his wall in exchange for extending DACA protections to Dreamers.

Two victories in LGBTQ rights: The 2nd Circuit Court banned discrimination against LGBTQ workers based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The DOJ had supported discrimination in the lawsuit in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was fighting the discrimination. Last April the 7th Circuit Court was the first appeals court to ban this discrimination. The 11th Circuit Court ruled for discrimination in a split three-panel decision. The U.S. Supreme Court left in place the Arizona decision recognizing Suzan McLaughln as the legal parent of a child she and her female spouse, Kimberly McLaughlin, conceived through assisted reproduction.

The New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project has asked the Supreme Court to join Hawaii’s challenge to DDT’s travel ban, to be argued before SCOTUS in April. The 4th and 9th Circuit Courts have already ruled against the ban. Syrian filmmaker Kareem Abeed, nominated for an Oscar for Last Man in Aleppo with Feras Fayyad, could not attend the ceremony because of DDT’s travel ban. Also denied entry is Mahmoud Al-Hatter, featured in the movie as co-founder of the White Helmets, a humanitarian volunteer group in rebel-controlled Syria and Turkey that does search and rescue after bombing to evacuate civilians. Russian propaganda has pushed the misinformation from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad who accuses them of being a front for Al-Qaeda.

In the second recent lawsuit to reverse DDT’s deportations of people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), eight Haitian and Salvadoran recipients have sued with the argument that the decision was based on discrimination. Both suits use DDT’s “public hostility toward immigrants of color” as evidence. One of the Salvadoran plaintiffs began as a kitchen assistant and now has four Boston restaurants; he employs over 20 U.S. citizens.

A federal court ruled that South Dakota’s March 27 petition deadline is too early and that the 2.5 percent mandate of voters too high for a new political party in the state primary.

A federal judge stopped construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in southern Louisiana, the southern extension of the Bakken Pipeline until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconsider its environmental impacts.

Without permanent security clearance, Ivanka Trump explained the new U.S. economic sanctions against North Korea to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. An ambassador didn’t have this responsibility because DDT fired his nominee, Victor Cha, after Cha disagreed with DDT’s threats toward North Korea.

Net neutrality is dead, and AT&T is dancing on the body. After its claim that nothing will change, the company texted its customers to tell them that it’s expanding zero rating, content exempt from arbitrary usage caps, to “some” content meaning that which already belongs to AT&T and “sponsored” data—that is paying AT&T.

DDT hasn’t saved coal: the average for the closure of a plant every 16 days in 2017 matches the average for President Obama’s eight years.

DDT wants to emulate Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in killing drug dealers—over 12,000 in the past two years. “You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them,’” DDT said.

The faculty at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), self-identified as “among the nation’s premier research universities,” voted to rescind an honorary degree given DDT in 1988. The decision is now with the Board of Trustees which took no action on a petition with 35,000 signatures.

DDT’s most bizarre tweet last week:

“I have decided that sections of the Wall that California wants built NOW will not be built until the whole Wall is approved. Big victory yesterday with ruling from the courts that allows us to proceed.”

California officials fought the project, and the administration has no change in policy, despite a judge’s ruling that the wall can be built with no attention to environmental and endangered species laws.

Melanie Trump stayed in the U.S. on a “genius” visa, the EB-1, for only the highest accomplished artists, doctors, academics, and engineers in 2001. Only 3,376 immigrants with “extraordinary ability” were granted of the one million visas that year.

DDT’s problems in the White House:

A new poll sponsored by a conservative group shows that 77 percent of millennial voters, ages 18 to 35, want action to oppose human-caused climate change, and only ten percent oppose any action. Even 57 percent of millennial Republicans want to stop or slow climate change. Over twice as many millennials think that the country is “on the wrong track” as those who see it in “the right direction.” Last week, DDT’s approval rating was 35 percent.

February 3, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-four – Moon Precedes Failures

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 10:57 PM
Tags: ,

For anti-science far-right evangelicals, the week had evil omens. On Wednesday, a super blue blood moon—blue because it’s the second full moon within one month—appeared on Wednesday. [Photo by Justin Lane]  Joel 2:31:

“The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”

On Friday, the Dow Jones dropped 666 points, the name of the coming Antichrist. In between those two days, the Republicans gathered in Virginia after their train crashed to talk about the upcoming midterm elections. Meanwhile, the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues with the State of the Union speech, the release of the Nunes dud memo, and other DDT failures.

Another test to shoot down missiles failed this week, the second failure in seven months. Only nine of 19 attempts since 1999 have been successful in the $40 billion plus system. Last May’s attempt was initially touted as successful, but the missile blew itself up after it was marked as friendly.

The Senate failed to pass the House’s unconstitutional 20-week abortion ban: two women GOP Senators voting no and three male Democrats voting in favor of the false “fetal pain” ban. The bill had also required that the person who performed the abortion must try to save the fetus’s life.

Following protests, a plan to open mining in the Bristol Bay watershed 200 miles southwest of Anchorage (AK) is on hold. The proposed Pebble Mine is 100 miles upstream from the fishery that supplies almost half of the world’s wild sockeye salmon.

Protesters are mobilizing in the UK after British Prime Minister Theresa May invited DDT to London in October 2018. He said, “I think I’m very popular in your country,” but 1.8 billion people in the country with a population of 65 million signed a protest petition.

Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian college student, figured out that the advertising gimmick “global heat map” searching for areas of exercising reveals sensitive military bases, especially in the Middle East. (Left: The Strava map for Helmand Province, Afghanistan.)  Other security “glitches” from the past include U.S. intelligence contractors putting codenames of classified surveillance programs on LinkedIn in 2014 that allowed people to determine the people and companies worked on specific programs through Transparency Toolkit and ICWATCH. [Note: Strava’s world map is pretty cool!]

Slower internet access unless people pay more still has not been settled so activist Rob Bliss decided to show its problems by claiming to “liberate” drivers in charging them $5 for a newly created “fast lane” in front of the FCC building. The involvement of the police continued to prove his point, as this video shows. Last week, Burger King told its customers that paying $26 extra for a Whopper would get it delivered faster. Both of these examples explain what happens when large corporations control the speed of content based on consumer payments.

Appointments/Resignations:

Brian A. Benczkowski, nominee to lead DOJ’s criminal division, has represented Alfa Bank, a large Russian financial institution with owner ties to Vladimir Putin. The bank was investigated for its connections between DDT’s campaign and Russia. Benczkowski was not confirmed last year but has been reappointed.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, DDT’s pick for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resigned after complaints that she bought tobacco company stock immediately after she got the position which involved overseeing programs for quitting smoking. Fitzgerald’s past included reversing natural aging, trying to fight childhood obesity in Georgia by partnering with Coca-Cola, and owning more tobacco stock.

K.T. McFarland, fired from the national Security Council and nominated for ambassador of Singapore, has withdrawn after a reappointment. She was found lying about not knowing about communications between Michael Flynn and Sergei Kislyak when he was Russian ambassador.

Kathleen Hartnett White, climate denier picked to head the Council on Environmental Quality, is also withdrawn. She maintained that people do not die of pollution and that coal ended slavery.

Ben Carson has been warned of conflict of interest because his son furthered his business interests in organizing the Baltimore “listening tour” last summer for the HUD director. Ben Carson, Jr. is a real estate developer, and Jr.’s wife, Merlynn, received a $485,000 contract from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for her company, Myriddan.

Victor D. Cha was dropped as a possible nomination for ambassador to South Korea after he expressed concern that the “bloody nose” strategy of a limited strike against North Korea would create a much bigger war. He also disagreed with threats to destroy a bilateral trade deal with South Korea after DDT put tariffs on washing machines and solar energy panels. South Korea has no U.S. ambassador and had already signed off on Cha. His op-ed about DDT and North Korea in the WaPost.

Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., the State Department’s top career diplomat, undersecretary of state for political affairs, and third highest ranking official, has resigned after 35 years, leaving the last of five “career ambassadors,” Stephen D. Mull, who is current on sabbatical. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called Shannon a “walking encyclopedia,” has ignored his experts, and morale is plummeting.

Lawsuits/Decisions:

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest compared DDT’s immigration acts to those in an authoritarian country and ordered ICE to immediately release immigrant rights activist Ravi Ragbir. She called the detention unconstitutional and “unnecessarily cruel,” ruling that officials violated his due process rights. Ragbir became a lawful resident in 1994 but was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy for accepting fraudulent loan applications while working at a mortgage lender. After his prison release from prison, he received four stays of removal and regularly checked in with ICE without breaking any laws. The judge wrote, “The Constitution commands better.”

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 7-3 that DDT cannot remove the director from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because it is financed by the Federal Reserve. Mick Mulvaney has been playing DDT’s acting director of the agency, the court’s next issue, instead of current Acting Director Leandra English. Mulvaney requested no additional funds from the Fed for the upcoming quarter and may turn the predatory payday lending industry loose on its clients.

A federal district court blocked the Texas law mandating the burial or cremation of embryonic of fetal tissue abortions, miscarriage, or treatment for ectopic pregnancy. Last November a federal court overturned the law banning dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions is unconstitutional.

In a ruling by a federal judge that Florida’s lifetime ban on voting for anyone convicted of a felony is unconstitutional, the state gained another 1.2 million voters. Eight other states have the same law, all of them GOP states.

After the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled against gerrymandering in the state, it decided against a recently passed GOP law that kept new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper from regulating the state’s elections, necessary to reinstate voting rights.

For the last three decisions, Chief Justice John Roberts has voted against the right-wing bloc. He probably isn’t going moderate, but he might be slightly embarrassed by accusations that the Supreme Court has become a partisan wing of the executive branch.

DDT is considering the mass arrests of U.S. mayors and governors: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she ordered federal prosecutors to review “what avenues might be available” to arrest and prosecute mayors of so-called sanctuary cities. The term “sanctuary” status means that police enforce local and state law, leaving federal immigration law to federal officers without violating federal law. These actions would pattern those in Putin’s Russia and Erdoğan’s Turkey.

DDT has stolen billions of dollars in tips from waitpeople, and the Labor Department leadership concealed its internal analysis showing how much the employees will lose by changing the data methodology to hide its impact. The executive order forces people who receive tips to share them with others, including their employers. The public comment period ends February 5, but DDT’s administration ignores all these comments for any changes by calling them bogus. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins would be enraged by these acts.

Sexual Misconduct:

Shares on Steve Wynn’s casino resorts dropped 19 percent, a $462.55 million loss for him. He also won’t be getting his money back from Republicans, despite the demand that the RNC made that Democrats return their donations from Harvey Weinstein. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said that she’ll give Wynn the benefit of the doubt because he denied his sexual assaults.

People who donate to DDT’s campaign might want to know that 25 percent of their money goes to legal fees connected with Russian meddling in the U.S. elections.

Seventy percent of Republicans want their children to be like DDT because he’s a “good role model” for them. A picture of future Republicans: talk openly about the size of their penises at any time and place, treat women like “shit” (a DDT quote), lie, bully, cheat, hate people of color, put money above all else—the list of the GOP in the future as well as the present.

January 26, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-three – The Second Year Starts

When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) told White House counsel Don McGahn last June to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, McGahn said he would resign rather than follow that direction. In July, DDT said that he would fire Mueller if he investigated DDT’s finances. DDT called this information “fake news,” but even the Fox network sort of agreed.

DDT’s mistake of the week: DDT has gone back to his position from last June that he is “100 percent” willing to testify to Robert Mueller “under oath” and is even looking forward to the interview. Then he added, “subject to my lawyers” who quashed the idea. Ty Cobb tried to cover for DDT by saying that he was in a hurry and only intended to say that he would meet with Mueller.

The government reopened last Monday after 33 members of the Democratic caucus bought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) line of his “intention” to address the DACA issue either in the next spending bill (due by February) of after that. McConnell has a history of not keeping his promises, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn’t put anything on the floor that can’t be passed with only Republicans. DDT is holding out for $25 billion for his wall, and the House bill would criminalize and deport any Dreamer who makes less than 125 percent of the poverty level. The reopening reauthorized children’s insurance for another six years, but it ignored funding that ended at the end of September for the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs (MIECHV), Community Health Centers, and opioid funding as well disaster relief.  DDT sneered at the Democrats for keeping the government open when he tweeted, “Schumer and the Dems caved.” He may be cheering early: the next deadline is in only 13 days.

Mick Mulvaney, maybe acting director of the consumer agency, said, “I found out for the first time last night that the person who technically shuts the government down is me, which is kind of cool.” When a representative in 2013, Mulvaney tried to continue a government shutdown when lawmakers had a deal to end it. Mulvaney’s “new mission” will protect companies from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) originally designed to protect consumers. His first action is to permit payday lenders to prey on their borrowers.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin drove the already weak dollar down, ten percent lower since January 2017, by saying that it is is good for the U.S. because other countries get exports cheaper. Imports to the U.S. become expensive, and buying U.S. equities and U.S. bonds is less desirable.

DDT’s trade war with the world is on, according to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after DDT slapped tariffs on solar panel and washing machine imports. “There won’t be a trade war,” DDT said. The first 1.2 million imported washers have a 20-percent tariff followed by 50 percent on all imports for two years because of a request from Whirlpool. Solar panel components get a 30-percent tariff, and the solar installation industry predicts a loss of 23,000 jobs each year and a slow-down on the renewable energy movement that DDT hates.

During a Q&A session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, DDT attacked the media, saying:

“It wasn’t until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be.”

People booed and jeered. That was after they laughed at him for bragging about his business abilities. Initially, the crowd groaned when WEF Chair Klaus Schwab introduced DDT:

“I’m aware that your strong leadership is open to misconceptions and interpretation so it is so essential for us in the room to listen directly to you.”

Russia:

  • Dutch media warned the U.S. that a Russian hacker group Cozy Bear “launched an attack on the Democratic Party in the United States in 2015.”
  • The fiancé of Russian colluder, George Papadopoulos, said he, like John Dean of Watergate, will provide valuable information to Robert Mueller’s investigation.
  • Mueller interviewed AG Jeff Sessions about Russia, but nobody’s leaking the contents of the discussion.
  • Jared Kushner refused to be interviewed by the Senate Judicial Committee. These might be some of the reasons.
  • After DDT fired James Comey as FBI director, he interviewed Andrew McCabe for the position and asked him who he voted for in the presidential election.
  • Republicans are using emails as a shiny distraction from Russian collusion, messages between two FBI officials who shared political perspectives while having an affair during DDT’s campaign. They criticized far more people than DDT—Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, etc.—but the GOP demanded missing texts between December 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017, from software upgrade affecting “thousands of FBI devices. Republicans haven’t made any comments since these were found.
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of House Oversight Committee, claimed that a text message, sent as a joke, revealed a “secret society.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) added that “an informant” told Congress about “a group holding secret meetings off-site,” he backtracked because he had no evidence after embarrassing media coverage and being called “the senator who cried wolf.”
  • The smoke and mirrors GOP distraction from DDT’s collusion with Russia is so complex that reading an entire article is necessary. And more craziness.

Appointments:

  • Hero of the Week: DDT-appointment FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to resign if the DOJ removes Andrew McCabe.
  • The Senate voted 55-43 to confirm former pharmaceutical executive Alex Azar as health secretary, guaranteeing that drug prices will continue to rapidly escalate.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee sent 17 DDT nominations to the Senate floor, including Thomas Farr who lied to the committee during his hearing about his participation in intimidating black voters during Jesse Helms’s campaign for the 1992 North Carolina Senate seat. Also passed by GOP acclaim was Eric Dreiband to direct the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Earlier he gave testimony against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and opposed LGBTQ rights. When Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asked opponents if nominees should be disqualified because of causes represented as a lawyer, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said the evaluation of conduct as private citizens is such that future litigants would be apprehensive to come before the judges. Charles Goodwin and Holly Lou Teeter, both receiving the ABA “not qualified” rating, were also advanced for confirmation.
  • Wendy Vitter was one of a dozen new judicial nominations. Currently counsel for the Roman Catholic church of the New Orleans archdiocese, she may be best known for defending her husband when he confessed to being a client of the “D.C. Madam.”
  • Taylor Weyeneth, 24, will leave his senior position of DDT’s Office of National Drug Control Policy after six months after the media publicized his inexperience and “misrepresentation” of his résumés. He was one of three ONDCP employees who was designated as “essential” during the recent shutdown.

(Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Sexual Misconduct:

  • After 150 women testified against Larry Nassar at his sentencing hearing, the judge added 40 to 175 years in prison to his existing 60-year term. Michigan State University’s 13-year president Lou Anna Simon resigned just ahead of a legislative bill calling for her removal.
  • For decades, casino mogul and RNC finance chair Steve Wynn (right) committed acts of sexual misconduct, according to a Wall Street Journal article. These actions include a $7.5 million settlement after forcing a woman to have sex with him in 2005. He blames his ex-wife for the allegations, but a number of women have supported the accusations.
  • Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA), removed from the House Ethics Committee after it became publicly known that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with an aide, will not be running for re-election after he prayed about his situation. He denied any harassment but said that that they were “soul mates” and verbally attacked her when she told him she had a serious partner. Meehan blamed her and the vote on the Affordable Care Act for his actions.
  • Herriman High School officials censored a student newspaper article regarding the firing of a teacher, possibly for sexual misconduct, so the students published a website that included the article. A vice-principal had previously approved the article. The Supreme Court case Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier permits school censorship of newspapers. The students’ article.  Herriman is a small city of over 21,000 in north-central Utah.

Despite DDT’s claim in his inaugural address that “American carnage … stops right now” and AG Jeff Sessions’ claim that the mission has been accomplished, violence is increasing. The national murder rate increased by one percent in the first half of 2017—the time that Sessions addressed. Eleven school shootings in the first 26 days of 2018 include three this week, one of them killing two students. The 52 LGBTQ single-victim hate killings in 2017 is an 86-percent increase from 2016, making 2017 the deadliest year since compilation of these homicides. The actual number of LGBTQ killings is most likely larger because murders may be misclassified and misgendered.

DDT continues to incite people to violence. Brandon Griesemer was arrested after at least 22 threatening calls to CNN’s headquarters toward its cast, anti-Semitic remarks, racial slurs against employees, and the statement that he’s going “to gun you all down” with the claim that he has a whole team and “more guns than you.” In the past, DDT has tweeted videos of himself body-slamming and punching CNN, a “Trump Train” running over CNN, and himself stepping on CNN as an insect.

Slightly better DDT news tomorrow!

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